"You know we're not actually living in a comic book, right?" Bellamy's in his boxers, getting measurements taken, and Octavia has bought spandex. Like, a lot of spandex. Way more spandex than he's comfortable with. "Just because I'm a reporter and have superpowers, it doesn't make me Superman. I don't have to dress up in some weirdly revealing costume to take cats out of trees."
"You nearly got caught," Octavia says, spanning her tape measure across his back. "If you're going to keep going out and showing off, you need to protect yourself. And me," she adds, because she's had his number since day one. Risking his own neck is one thing, but he'd never risk hers.
"It's going to be really obvious. If anyone who knows me sees me, they'll figure it out in ten seconds. Flat. Again, Superman is not a documentary."
She scribbles down some numbers. "Do you know how many people there are in the world, Bell? Really? Even in the city? And who's going to think, oh, yeah, there's this guy flying around with bullets bouncing off his chest, he looks a little like my neighbor, must be him. No way."
"He's got to be someone's neighbor," says Bellamy. "And they don't bounce off. I just heal too quickly for them to matter as long as they don't hit anything too vital. I assume." He hasn't done a lot of testing with bullets, and he's hoping he never will.
Octavia huffs. "Stop complaining. You're the one who got all the cool superpowers, and all you do is whine about it. I so should have gotten the flight and the mutant healing factor."
Bellamy smiles at that. Octavia's always been pretty bitter about how that worked out for her, not that he can blame her. She's just as pugnacious and spirited as he is; she'd do great flying around beating the shit out of people. Instead, she's got the ultimate green thumb, and no desire to turn into Poison Ivy, so she just works in a green house and grows the absolute best weed of all time. Which gives her some comfort.
"I know, I know," he says. "Look, I'll try it out. It can't hurt, right? Better than nothing."
"Exactly," she says. "Now, let's talk about your hair and makeup."
It's really unfortunate how much he loves his baby sister sometimes.
He's feeling more charitable Monday morning. He got to actually show off over the weekend, stop some muggings, help with a jewelry store robbery, was a local trending topic on twitter and everything. Octavia texted him a screenshot; they're calling him #MidnightMan, which, okay, isn't what he would have picked for himself, but it's still pretty awesome. If he's going to wear spandex, at least it's black and flattering. He probably owes his sister.
He's in such a good mood he even tries saying hi to Clarke on his way in, which gets him a grunt and a vague handwave. She's engrossed in whatever it is Clarke does, which is probably for the best. Attempts at conversation with her never go how he wants them to.
"You're way too happy for a Monday," Monty remarks when he sits down, not looking up from his computer either. "Is there a non-graphic reason why?"
"What, I can't be in a good mood?" asks Bellamy. Monty snorts. "I had a good weekend, okay? I won't give you all the sordid details," he adds, waggling his eyebrows for effect. Monty doesn't reply, but does extend his fist, which Bellamy obligingly bumps.
"Let's not hear about Blake's sex life again, shall we?" says Jaha, coming down from his office. "We've all had enough of that to last a lifetime."
"Wouldn't dream of it," says Bellamy, all innocence.
"Morning, everyone. Anyone aside from Blake have anything newsworthy from the weekend? What are we looking at?"
Clarke raises her hand and pulls the pen out of her mouth when Jaha nods at her. "Midnight Man."
Bellamy nearly falls out of his chair.
"Who?" asks Jaha.
"Supposedly, our town's got a superhero," says Monty. Of course Monty knows, Monty lives on twitter. But why does Clarke know? "He was trending this weekend."
"Some guy in spandex broke up some muggings, caught a guy breaking into a jewelry store." Clarke taps her pen on her desk. "There's a video where it looks like he's flying."
"Hoax," Bellamy hears himself saying. "Or publicity stunt. Maybe both."
"That's why we investigate," says Clarke. "I know it doesn't take much footwork to figure out who won the big game, but for the rest of us--"
"Clarke, Blake, break it up," says Jaha wearily. Bellamy feels that familiar flash of annoyance at the favoritism, that she's Clarke, and he'll never be Bellamy, but it fades almost immediately. He knows it bugs her almost as much as it bugs him.
"Sorry," he mutters, and swivels his chair back to Clarke. "You really think there's a story there?"
She nods. "I'm not saying it's the story people want it to be, but I want to look into it. I've seen the videos of him flying away from the crime scene. If it's a hoax, it's a really well-done hoax, and that's not bad for local news. It could still be interesting."
"And if it's not a hoax and you're the only one taking it seriously--"
"Exactly," says Clarke. She looks back to Jaha. "I think it's worth the risk. I'll go talk to some people, see what I can find out from the jewelry store. If it's nothing, I should know by lunch."
Jaha nods. "Do it. You've got good instincts, Clarke. Follow them."
This was the stuff that rankled Bellamy when she first started; he'd clawed his way into the job, bled for it, and then in she waltzed, already on a first-name basis with Jaha, best friends with his son, set for life because her family was part of the city's elite. He'd been a dick, hoping to scare her off, and by the time he realized she was a great reporter with nerves of steel, he'd already done too much damage. He knows he has no one but himself to blame, but he wishes he could fix it.
It's almost enough to ruin his mood, but he hears Raven say, "You think this guy could be the real deal?" to Clarke, quiet, and Clarke's equally soft, "I hope so. We could use some guys like that."
That's enough to get him whistling while he works, even when Clarke kicks his chair as she walks by.
Scheduling is more of a headache than he expected. He's always had weird hours for work, needing to keep up with game results in real-time and send posts for their twitter to Monty long after most of the team has stopped working. But technology's on his side for this one, which is why the first candid Clarke gets of Bellamy Blake in costume is him on his iPhone, checking the score on the NBA finals.
"I know @midnightman is a spambot, so do you have another twitter I should follow?"
He nearly drops the phone, but manages to stop himself just in time; it's not the smoothest first impression, but at least he's floating. That should be impressive, right?
"Excuse me?" he asks, making his voice a little deeper, like he and Octavia practiced. She's going to see through him in no time.
She extends her hand, all business. "I'm Clarke Griffin, I work for the Globe. I'm reporting on you."
He shakes. "I thought print media was dead."
"We also have a tumblr," says Clarke. "It's pretty popular. Our social media guy's great at balancing content with weird memes."
Bellamy bites back a smile; he's probably supposed to be aloof and mysterious, not charmed. But it's awesome to have her talking to him like a person.
"Well, in that case, what can I do for you, Ms. Griffin?"
She makes a face. "Call me Clarke. Can I check you for strings?"
He does laugh at that, but it's probably safe. He and Clarke don't exactly laugh together much, so she won't recognize it. "Seriously?"
"No, not seriously. I'd be looking for wires. String wouldn't be strong enough," she says, grinning back. Bellamy's stupid heart flips. Clarke Griffin is grinning at him. They're sharing a joke.
"Sure," he says, gliding over. "But hands off the merchandise til at least the third date."
She walks around him, inspecting him from all angles, sweeps her foot under his, moves her hand around his arms. She nods, clearly impressed. "Not bad, Midnight Man. That's one hell of a trick."
"That is not my approved name," he says.
"Would you believe I don't have one yet?"
"No," she says. "My best friend and I had superhero names for ourselves by the time we were eight. How were you not ready for this?"
Bellamy remembers his father, barely, and his mother well enough to know exactly why he shouldn't be doing this at all. But he gives Clarke a cocky grin. "So what was yours? Maybe I'll steal it."
"Princess Paintbrush," she says. "My powers were art-based. The name's all yours, if you want it," she adds, teasing.
"I think I'm set, thanks. But I will be calling you Princess from now on."
Clarke grins. "So you're planning to see more of me?"
"You don't really seem like the type who gives up easily." He considers, but Clarke is right there, with all her attention on him, and he can't help asking, "You want a ride?" She raises her eyebrows and he hastily adds, "To prove I can fly!"
She stares. "Really?"
"You wanted to check for tricks, right? I'm all yours."
Clarke considers. "Can I take a picture?"
Bellamy's hair is slicked back, and Octavia insisted on putting concealer on his face to hide his freckles. He looks more like someone else than he would have expected, but he's still not sure he wants his picture running in his own newspaper.
"Not the face," he says.
"Too recognizable?" she teases.
"Nah," he says, easy. "I'm nobody. Just camera shy."
"Nobody's an even worse superhero name than Midnight Man," she says, stepping closer. "No faces. No strings. Sounds like a deal."
Bellamy scoops her up; she lets out an undignified squeak and wraps her arms around him. It's the best thing that's happened to him this month. Maybe this year. "What were you expecting?" he teases, pushing up into the sky.
"Honestly? I thought you were bullshitting me."
"I'm hurt, Princess."
She pulls back from a little, looking around them. "If this isn't bullshit, how high can you go?"
He'd tested it when he was a kid, before they moved to the city, when he could go as high as he wanted at night and there wasn't a chance anyone could see. He hasn't had the chance to soar like that in a while, but maybe now, with the costume, he can.
"Over all the skyscrapers in town," he says. "But I don't have super-speed, so it can take a while."
"Oh, you can fly, but you don't have super-speed. I feel bad for you now."
Bellamy laughs. "You should."
"So, if it's real, how does it work?"
"I don't really know," he admits. "I've always been able to do it. And I'm not interested in letting anyone take me apart to see how I tick."
Clarke pulls out her phone, switches the camera so it's facing them. "Is that an acceptable portion of your face?" she asks, showing him the viewfinder. She's grinning, and he can see his chin. Octavia managed to cover up the dimple pretty well.
"Sure," he says, and frees one of his hands to flash the peace sign.
Clarke laughs. "Perfect. My selfie with nobody."
They're back on the ground when he says, "Odysseus. That's what you can call me."
She snorts. "So, you're a superhero and a classics dork."
He's maybe unreasonably glad she gets the reference; he can't remember the last time he smiled this hard. "Don't tell your readers. I'm trying to be cool and mysterious."
"Your secret's safe with me," she says. "See you around, Odysseus."
He texts O, my coworker didn't recognize me. i cant believe this worked.
She texts back, fu bell, i'm a genius.
Jaha's reading Clarke's story the next morning when Bellamy comes in. He almost gives her a cheerful Hi, Princess before he catches himself. He's not Odysseus; he's Bellamy Blake, and she hates him. He leans over her shoulder instead.
"Find anything good?"
She jumps. "Jesus, Bellamy, don't sneak up on me like that!"
He sprawls into his own chair and lets the momentum from the movement roll him back towards her. "Sorry," he says, unrepentant. "So, is it Old Man Winters who runs the haunted amusement park?"
Clarke rolls her eyes. "No. I think he might be the real deal." She shows him a copy of the picture.
"What, you couldn't get his face? Should have brought a photographer, P--Griffin."
If she notices his near slip-up, she doesn't get the significance. She just kicks him in the ankle. "I was respecting his privacy. You can kind of see his face in this one."
It's him on his phone, actually kind of a nice picture. If he lets Octavia do publicity for him, he'll probably use it. Maybe if he makes his own twitter account.
"Yeah, he definitely has a face. Nose and everything. Good job. Ace reporting." But he grins. "Seriously, I don't think anyone else has even talked to him. Still think it's a hoax, but at least it's our hoax."
Clarke gives him a small, real smile. "It's gotta boost readership, right? Monty's been putting the pictures on tumblr, they're really popular."
"If there's a place for hot guys in spandex, it's tumblr," says Monty.
"Odysseus, huh?" Bellamy asks, scanning the rest of the article. "Kind of pretentious, right? I bet he just wanted to impress you."
"I bet it worked," Raven mutters, and Clarke elbows her.
"He didn't need to come up with a pretentious name to impress me," she tells Bellamy. "He took me flying. That's impressive enough."
"Anyone with a pilot's license could do that," he says, crossing his arms over his chest. It is, he knows, really, really stupid to be jealous of himself, but Clarke's never talked about him with that look on her face. Or, well, she is, technically, right now, but--
It's been less than a week and having a secret identity is already really confusing. And kind of annoying.
"Jealousy is so unflattering, Blake," Raven sing-songs. "Don't you have a job to do or something? You can pull Clarke's pigtails later."
Bellamy wheels his chair back to his desk. He's not sulking. He's working. It's mature.
"So, your hot coworker at the newspaper likes your superhero alter-ego more than she likes you," says Octavia, while she's applying his makeup. "I know you said you weren't Superman, Bell, but you're kind of Superman."
"Yeah, but not really," he says. "They have a trademark on the name."
"You can be off-brand Filipino Superman. Half the quality, half the price."
He snorts. "Thanks, O."
He doesn't see Clarke as Odysseus for another week, but she doesn't need to see him to write about him. Her exclusive interview has made her the go-to source for anyone who wants to talk about the town's new superhero, and she's getting like five hundred emails a day ranging from "here's a picture I took of Odysseus when he was in my neighborhood last night" to "omg he's rilly hot do you have his number???"
"I wonder if he's single," Clarke muses, showing Bellamy one of the emails. It has a picture of boobs attached. They're not bad boobs, either. "I could set up a matchmaking service."
"Probably more lucrative than working here," Bellamy agrees. "Better hours too. Are you gonna keep this?"
Clarke rolls her eyes and snatches the paper back. "Of course I am. She's hot."
Bellamy barks out a laugh. "See, this is why we should be friends, Griffin. Can you even imagine the epic nights out we'd have?"
"I try not to, but everyone has nightmares sometimes," she shoots back, but it sounds almost friendly.
It's that night when he spots her hanging out in an alley when he's looking for muggers. She's on her phone, apparently oblivious, but she holds something up before he can greet her.
"Mace," she says. "Before you tell me it's dangerous for me to be out here alone."
"So I don't get to rescue you?" he asks, slumping against the wall next to her.
"You get to rescue me from the boredom of hanging out alone in an alley," she says. "Any thoughts on your first week on the job?"
"How do you know it's my first week?"
"We're living in the twitter age, Odysseus. And you're not exactly shy about being seen."
"I've been able to do this all my life, remember?"
"So what changed?"
He tugs the fabric on his chest. "Got a new tailor. Wanted to show off."
She snorts. "You're certainly doing that. I've been getting emails asking for your number."
"I'm the expert, apparently." She flashes him a grin. "You got an address where I can send fan mail? Maybe get a PO Box. Or a dedicated gmail account."
"I'm still working on my social media presence," he says. "Got any tips?"
"Tumblr likes the spandex."
"How about you?"
She looks him up and down deliberately and smirks, which is probably the hottest thing that's ever happened to him. There's just something about Clarke Griffin.
"I could like spandex," she says. "You heal fast," she continues, business again.
"You can fly, and you heal quickly, right? Anything else?"
He pushes off the wall with a smirk. "Guess you'll have to wait and see, Princess."
He's about to take off when he hears her say, "Looking forward to it," and it takes everything in him to not go back and try to make a move.
He limits himself to, "You need a quote for your article?"
"Nah," she says. "Just give me a smile."
It's dark enough in the alley that all that's visible of his face in the picture is a flash of white teeth. Monty prints it off and tapes it up on the wall next to Clarke's desk; Bellamy throws paper clips at it when he's on the phone.
Wallace, one of the op-ed guys, is retiring, so there's a party on Friday. Octavia insists on coming as his plus one so she can scope out his Lois Lane, which is bad enough, but then it turns out she and Clarke already know each other, because they were in the same kickboxing class or something.
"I can't believe I didn't know you have an awesome sister!" Clarke tells him.
"Please don't hit on my sister," Bellamy says. "She has a boyfriend I actually like for once."
"Don't be jealous," says Clarke. She's drunk enough that she's smiling at everyone, even him. Bellamy's not exactly a designated driver, but he doesn't like getting drunk when Octavia is. Just in case. "You're still my favorite Blake."
"I am?" he asks, way more hopefully than he meant to. He sort of thought she hated him.
"Definitely." She pets him on the chest absently. "She's cute, but you're grumpy."
"Thanks. That means the world to me."
"CLARKE!" Octavia yells. They're going to be friends now. It's horrifying. "GET OVER HERE. DARTS."
"Why are we getting this wasted for Wallace? I don't think he's even here anymore."
"Oh, come on, Bellamy, loosen up. Darts!" She fists her hand in his shirt and drags him over to his sister and the dartboard. Not that he's resisting much.
On Monday, he asks, "Am I really your favorite Blake?" and Clarke actually flushes, but recovers fast.
"Second. First is William Blake. I really like that tiger poem."
He bumps his shoulder against hers, and she bumps back.
Wednesday, he hears sirens when he's getting out of the shower, and he's in his costume and launching himself off the roof in record time. There's a fire a few blocks down, which is tricky; he heals quickly, but it's not like his lungs don't fill up with smoke. He evacuates the upper levels carefully, bringing people down one or two at a time and handing them over to rescue workers. On his third trip, he spots Clarke in the crowd. She's got a real camera, and when he nods at her, she nods back and mouths be careful.
She finds him again once the fire is out and gives him a blanket and some water.
"Did you steal this from the EMTs?" he asks.
"I borrowed it."
"You can't borrow water, Princess. I'm not giving it back."
She sits down next to him, giving him a considering look. "That was pretty high-profile. A lot more of an audience than usual. You don't want me photographing your face, but you'll evacuate a burning building in front of hundreds of people?"
"Good point," he says, standing up and offering his hand. "You want to get out of here?"
"You're good to fly?"
"I heal fast, remember?"
She takes his hand and lets him pull her into his arms; they go to a roof a few blocks over where someone has lawn chairs out. Bellamy drinks half the water in one gulp while Clarke watches him. "Something on my face?" he asks, once he's done.
She smiles down at her hands, small and private. "No. Why don't you wear a mask?"
"It was itchy," he says. "And it didn't stay on right. I would have needed a cowl, and my tailor's not that good."
"So you're just trusting that no one's going to take a picture of you? That's a pretty big leap."
He leans back in the chair, looking up at the sky. "My tailor says there are a lot of people in the world. No one's really going to think the superhero they're hearing about is their friend or their neighbor or their coworker."
"But he's got to be someone's," says Clarke, and Bellamy smiles.
"Yeah, that's what I said."
Bellamy works weird hours in July because he's really, really into the Tour de France, and the Tour de France is nine hours ahead of him, so he spends a lot of time in the middle of the night in the office watching streaming coverage of the race and posting articles to the blog because Jaha won't let him talk as much about bikes as he wants to in the actual print edition. He has a pretty decent following, if he does say so himself.
Clarke comes in at five a.m. on day three of the tour and wakes him up by bumping a cup of coffee against his head. "You're a mess, Bellamy Blake," she tells him.
Bellamy pushes his glasses up to rub his eyes. "Morning, sunshine." He blinks when the coffee stays in front of his face. It's a mug he hasn't seen before--blue, with Cookie Monster eyes. It's huge and smells delicious. She must have brought it from home. "Is that for me?"
"Like I said, you're a mess. Drink the coffee. You need to write real articles too, remember? We have deadlines."
"You brought me coffee." He sips carefully; there's a dash of cream, no sugar. He's never told her how he takes his coffee, but she is a reporter. She has to have observational skills. "Thanks," he says.
Clarke shrugs. "I was coming in anyway. You're no good to anyone unconscious."
"Sure I am. You can draw stuff on my face."
Clarke laughs. "Next time I come in early, for sure." She pulls her chair up next to his. "I used to watch this with my dad," she says, and he remembers her in years past, coming over with the rest of the group, getting as into it as he did, but carefully, like she didn't want him to notice. He slides over so she has more room.
"When did you stop hating me?" he asks.
She smiles at him, almost shy. "It's been a while."
There's a sheen of unreality around the world, but it's always like that at 5 a.m., so he goes with it. "Cool," he says. "Me too."
He emerges from his fog of bicycle racing, superheroing, and sleeping on France time to get dinner with Octavia; she makes fun of him about the bags under his eyes and tells him he's a freak, which makes him feel a lot better. They chat about this Odysseus guy, and Octavia theorizes that he's some shut-in dork who reads too many comic books and lives with his mom. Bellamy missed her.
"We're meeting Lincoln," she tells him after.
"O, I'm exhausted--"
"I invited Lois Lane."
"I'm still exhausted," he says, but he follows her, because even though Clarke comes in early most days now to watch the tour with him, he still hasn't had enough of her. He sees her at night too, of course, but that's different. It's the nicest kind of torture, a glimpse at how they might have been if he hadn't been a dick to her right from the start. It's getting better, the real pair of them, but still he kind of hates that she flirts back with Odysseus.
Lincoln is already at the bar, a hole in the wall that's a lot quieter than his sister's usual scene, but no Clarke. Bellamy gets a beer and chats with them about the tour and Lincoln's upcoming gallery show and pretends he's not looking at the door every five seconds. Octavia is sniggering into her martini.
She shows up twenty minutes late with frazzled hair, looking even more exhausted than Bellamy does, and Bellamy isn't even sure what day it is anymore, so that's saying something.
"Sorry I'm late," she says, sitting down heavily on the stool next to Bellamy. "My mom called, we kind of got into it."
He and Octavia exchange a look. Most everything Bellamy has learned about Clarke has been from casual eavesdropping, but her mother is another story. Everyone knows about Clarke's mother. And Clarke never talks about her.
"Let's take a walk," Bellamy says, standing up. "It's too hot in here. O will have a drink for you when we get back."
Clarke looks at him for a minute, making up her mind, but then she follows him without protest. Once they're outside, she asks, "How long did it take you to get over my family?"
"Not long," he says.
"How'd you do it?"
"I read your first article."
"Sooner than I thought." She stuffs her hands in her pockets. "My whole life it's been like this. My dad got it, but my mom never has. I went to a private pre-school, Bellamy. I couldn't even read yet, and I was already on this elite track. And then it was private elementary school, private high school, ivy league. And the whole time, I didn't know if it was me, you know? If I hadn't gone to that high school, that elementary school, that goddamn pre-school, would I have a shot at any of this?" She lets out a shaky laugh. "I almost didn't take the job at the Globe. Wells had to talk me into it. I had a ton of offers, but this was the best one, and I didn't know if I could take it, when I didn't know if I would have gotten it if I didn't know his dad. He said I'd be an idiot to punish myself for my family." Bellamy licks his lips, trying to speak, but Clarke gives him a quick grin. "And then there you were, Bellamy Blake, saying every bad thing I'd ever thought about myself."
"You weren't wrong."
"No, I wasn't," he says. "But that doesn't mean you don't deserve what you have. I don't know if you would be here if your mom wasn't your mom, but I know you. And you belong here. And if you ever leave, you're going to get the best new job because you earned it, okay? Your mom doesn't write your articles, your mom doesn't bug the police for the best scoops, your mom doesn't go out chasing superheroes. That's you, Clarke."
She laughs softly and bumps his shoulder. "You really do like me."
"Yeah. I really do."
The next time Clarke leaves work with her Odysseus-stalking kit, as Monty calls it--her good camera, her bag with the mace pocket and two spare bottles of water, and a dark jacket--Bellamy jogs to catch up with her.
"What?" asks Clarke.
"I'm going with you."
"You're going with me?"
"Well, if you think about it, we don't know anything about this guy. He could be a serial killer."
"If he is, he's really bad at it," she says. "I assume a serial killer would leave the people to die in the burning building."
"That's probably what he wants you to think. He's working a long game." He gives her a cocky grin. "What, you don't want me crashing your super-date? He's probably ugly."
"He doesn't wear a mask, Bellamy. We know what he looks like."
"You do. None of your pictures ever have his face. And why is that if he's not ugly?"
Clarke lets out a weird, choked laugh, like she's trying really hard not to. He counts it as a personal victory. "Maybe I don't want anyone to see. I get enough fan mail for him as it is. I want to keep him to myself."
Bellamy frowns. "You're still getting fan mail?" he asks. Octavia set up a gmail account for him, and a twitter. He gets a lot more dick pics than he was expecting. "Doesn't he have his own stuff now?"
She shrugs. "I guess they're covering their bases."
"You don't actually like the guy, do you? You don't know anything about him. He's probably old. And fat."
She gives him a deeply unimpressed look. "He wears spandex. And no mask."
"Maybe he wears a girdle. Or spanx. He could wear spanx. You probably don't have to work out if you have super-strength. It's just natural. He can just let himself go."
"He doesn't have super-strength."
"So he's definitely not in shape."
Clarke shakes her head, laughing. "Have you ever seen You've Got Mail, Bellamy?"
He can't read her smile at all. "Just curious."
They don't find any trace of Odysseus, of course, but when he asks her if she wants to grab something to eat after, she says yes.
The first time he really screws up, it's because of a kid. Odysseus is on patrol, just weaving over buildings, wondering if Clarke is going to find him, when he hears someone cry, "Help! Mom! Stop!" and sees red.
Bellamy might not have super-speed, but he can fly pretty fast, with the right motivation.
A guy has the kid's mom by her wrist, a knife in his hand. The kid's looking around; Bellamy sees her eyes find a rock and he stops her before she can grab it. Her eyes widen, but she must recognize him, because she nods and moves back. The guy hasn't noticed him.
He usually announces himself, draws focus, makes himself the target, but he's too pissed this time. He just launches himself at the mugger, digging his fingers into the guy's wrist until he lets the woman go. He doesn't see what happens to her or the girl because he can't even think straight. He just hates this guy, fully, intensely, irrationally.
He's not sure how long he's been punching him when he hears, "Stop!" It's not the kid or her mom; it's familiar, but it's not enough. "Jesus, come on," she murmurs. "Bell."
That shocks him out of it. Bellamy looks down at himself, horrified, but he's wearing his costume. It's not like one of those dreams where you go to work naked.
"Let me look at him," says Clarke, tugging him gently by the elbow. He moves away mechanically, still not quite all there. "I took first aid," she says. "And I was pre-med for a while. I'll make sure he's okay." Her voice is soothing as she checks the guy's pulse, looks him over. She nods, satisfied. "He'll live. The cops are on their way. We should be gone before they get here."
"You called me Bell," he manages. His voice is hoarse.
She pulls a water bottle out of her bag and hands it over. He drinks gratefully. "I did," she says. "Let's talk about it somewhere else."
He takes her to his roof this time. It's not like she doesn't know where he lives.
"How long?" he asks.
"Since the fire," she says, guessing the right question. "I wondered before that, but I couldn't believe you wouldn't brag about it."
"So what changed at the fire?"
She smiles and pokes his cheek. "You were in a hurry. No makeup. I could see your freckles."
He lets out a surprised bark of laughter. "My freckles?"
"And your hair wasn't slicked back. It was curly."
"Ace reporter Clarke Griffin," he says, all fondness.
"You don't even wear a mask. You're not Superman, Bellamy. You can't just take off your glasses and no one will recognize you."
"You run weekly columns speculating on my identity," he says.
"Tell a man a superhero's secret identity and he'll read for a day. Teach a man to guess a superhero's secret identity and he'll read for a lifetime."
Bellamy laughs. "Devious. Why didn't you tell me?"
"I was trying to figure you out." She sobers, pulls a cloth out of her bag and wets it, starts cleaning the blood off his hands. The wounds have already closed, of course, but they're still a mess. "Sorry I didn't get there sooner."
"Not your job to look out for me," he says, tying not to be distracted by her hands on his.
"It kind of is." She licks her lips. "I read about your mom. When I was trying to figure you out." He stiffens. "Sorry."
"It's public record," he says. "I would have done the same thing." It's not like he doesn't know how her dad died.
"She was like you, right?"
"Different powers, but yeah." He's clean, but she's still rubbing the cloth over his hands, absent. "How'd you know where I was?"
"I have a police scanner. I heard there was a kid involved, so I just started running."
It should maybe make him feel strange, that Clarke knows enough about him to figure out he'd freak out at a guy threatening a parent in front of her kid, but all he manages is profound gratitude. He's so fucking glad Clarke Griffin has his back. "Thank you," he says.
It's early still; he should go back on patrol. But his hands aren't quite steady, and his heart is still racing. "I need a drink. Want to come down?"
She takes a few minutes to explore his apartment once they're down there, admiring the paintings of Lincoln's he's hung up, inspecting his collection of DVDs and video games. He leaves her to it and retreats to his room, changing into a t-shirt and flannel pajama pants getting his contacts out. On his way back, he grabs a couple beers from the fridge and goes over to stand with her. She beams when he sees him.
"What?" he asks.
"I like you better like this," she says, and the relief nearly knocks him over.
"Thank god," he says, and puts the beers on the table so he can kiss her.
"So, you've always been able to fly?" she asks. They've settled on the couch with the beers. He's got his arm around her and she doesn't seem to mind at all.
"It kicked in when I was ten."
"It's on your mom's side of the family?"
"Both sides. She had fire powers, so it wasn't as useful. My dad had limited precognition. He died when I was four, a few months before Octavia was born."
Clarke nods. "Yeah, I read about it. Cop dying in the line of duty didn't seem suspicious, but the guy who killed your mom--"
"Exploded," says Bellamy, flat. "More or less. She told me to take Octavia and run. I don't have super-speed. She thought we might not get away fast enough." He takes a long swig of beer. "It was daylight. I couldn't fly us away. I could just run."
"You did everything you could."
He snorts. "And look what it got me."
"Octavia," she says. "And you."
"Yeah," he grants. "That's not bad." He doesn't want to talk about it anymore, so he asks, "So, did you figure me out?"
"I think so." She smiles down at her beer. "I couldn't figure out why Odysseus was hitting on me. I thought you just wanted to jerk me around. Maybe sell a few more papers."
"Oh," he says. "No. That wasn't why."
She laughs. "I got that when you were jealous. Of yourself."
He rubs the back of his neck. "Well, I clearly didn't deserve you."
"That must be it."
He leans his cheek on her head, just breathing. "Thanks again for the rescue, Princess."
Octavia calls around midnight and wakes him up. Clarke's passed out on his chest, but the second ring rouses her too, and Bellamy gives her an apologetic smile. "Hi, O," he says figuring that's explanation enough.
"There's a rumor going around on twitter that Odysseus beat a guy so badly he had to be hospitalized," she says.
Bellamy winces and extricates himself from Clarke, heading into the kitchen to get them water. His mouth tastes like something died in it. "Odysseus sounds like a real dick," he says.
"I'm fine. I was out before the cops got there." He smiles as he passes Clarke a glass of water. "Lois rescued me."
"Is she there?" Octavia asks. She doesn't sound surprised. "Put her on the phone."
He obliges and half-listens to Clarke reassure his sister he's fine. It's kind of nice to be out of the equation, to not have to explain what happened. She passes the phone back when Octavia's satisfied, and he knows his line. "It's not going to happen again."
"The girl says you saved them. It was her mom's ex. They had a restraining order."
"I guess if I'm going to beat someone half to death, he's a good choice."
"I said it won't happen again. I promise."
"Okay. Lois knows your secret identity?"
"Yeah, she's one hell of a reporter."
"Good. Get some sleep."
"I was," he grumbles, but he softens almost immediately. "You too, O. Thanks for checking in."
Once he's hung up, Clarke asks, "You guys call me Lois?"
"You're my hot reporter love interest," he says, trying to make his voice come out cool. It mostly works.
"What's Octavia's power? Or is there some superhero code that says you can't tell me?"
"She talks to plants. She's bitter about it, except for the quality of her weed."
Clarke laughs. "I guess that would help." She gives him a calculating look. "Why can't you be my hot reporter love interest?" she asks.
Bellamy grins. "Come on, Princess. All you have to do is ask."
On Monday, Clarke's got a piece finished on Odysseus's use of excessive force and the morality of vigilantism. It's really fucking good; he tells her as much and kisses the top of her head. She swats him away, smiling, and when he sits down, Monty offers his fist.
He bumps it and gets to work.