Actions

Work Header

i am mad all about you

Chapter Text

The Blakes lived on Oak Street. So far as Bellamy knew, the Blakes had always lived on Oak Street, and it seemed like they always would.

House 101 sat squat on the corner of the block, at the intersection of Cherry Drive. When it was built, it may have been quaint. However as the years passed, the siding had slowly chipped, the shutters began cling crooked, the low roof had shed nearly all of its shingles, and the cement walkway and stoop were cracked and crumbling off into the dried lawn.

It didn't stick out amongst its neighbors. Every house on the south side of Arkadia was worn down much the same.

Bellamy didn't really give a shit that his house was ugly. He cared more that the ceilings leaked. That the seals of the windows were too loose to block out the cold in the winter. That the small home sucked up enough energy to cost them double what it ought to each month.

But today, most importantly, he cared that the goddamned subway stop nearest his house was closed down. Again. So he was stuck walking down the sidewalk an extra half mile in the sticky late August heat. He made it less than a block before he stripped off his drenched t-shirt, sticking it into the back pocket of his jeans. He tried to be thankful for the slight breeze as he dragged his way home.

He could have ridden the bus home after school, if he hadn't had to stay after. And he wouldn't have had to stay after if he hadn't gotten into a small… altercation. Again.

Bellamy licked his lower lip tenderly, feeling the split in the fragile skin. He hadn't swung first, not this time. But if he had, it would have been righteous. The guy had provoked it.

Everyone knew not to talk shit about Aurora Blake. Not where Bellamy could hear.

Not that Bellamy's reasoning meant anything to anyone else. Certainly not to Principal Pike, who had been acting as mediator to Bellamy's scuffles since Bellamy had become a student at ArkSouth in ninth grade. Pike was always been big on the motivational speeches and the day’s theme was Maturity. Apparently as a seventeen-year-old, Bellamy shouldn’t have been vulnerable to personal insults and should have Risen Above his classmate calling his mom a whore.

Sure.

Bellamy banished the thought as he reached the curb opposite his house. He was home almost two hours later than he was supposed to be and hadn't been around to greet Octavia when she arrived home. He crossed the street, considering how honest he would be with her when he caught sight of her waiting on the front steps. He wasn’t used to seeing Octavia outside in the afternoon. She preferred cartoons to sweating it out under the hot sun.

But what made it stranger was the boy perched on the steps beside her.

The kid was Octavia’s age, probably no older than twelve. His hair was chestnut brown and it looked like it had been days since it was last washed. His ears stuck out too far on either side of his head. His face was still a little chubby and round like Octavia’s and fairly average if you ignored his nose. Which was difficult. A bruise was forming around his left eye, still more red than purple.

They were eating popsicles. Their mouths were stained, Octavia’s purple (because grape was her favorite) and the boy's cherry red. A bag of chips lay empty at their feet.

Neither of them noticed Bellamy coming up the front walk, absorbed in their conversation. Bellamy stopped a few feet away from them, catching the end of the boy's argument.

“-and everyone knows that purple doesn't even taste like grape. You ever eat a grape that tastes like that? I think not.” The boy waved his popsicle in Octavia’s face, smirking wide. “This? This tastes just like cherry. Admit it!”

“It tastes like those syrup cherries in the jar, not like real cherries!” Octavia wrinkled her nose with a laugh, leaning back to get out of accidental striking range of the boy's popsicle, which was slowly melting down his arm.

“Who are you calling an idiot?” the boy balked, pulling a ridiculous face. His teeth were bright pink.

“I'm calling- Bellamy!” Octavia took notice of her brother mid-sentence and jumped to her feet. She looked between her brother and the stranger on their front steps warily. “You're home!”

Bellamy rose a brow, arms crossed. He threw a pointed look at the kid beside her. Bellamy had always been clear about his opinion on Octavia being around boys: don’t be. “Yep. I'm home.”

Octavia scrunched up her nose at his tone and mimicked his body language, crossing her narrow arms. Bellamy hated when she stood her ground like that. Seeing the same stubborn set to her mouth that he so often saw reflected back in a mirror always softened his resolve. She was getting way too good at winning their arguments.

“You're late,” she stated, small mouth set.

“Yeah.” No point arguing that.

“Why?”

“Station was closed.” Not a lie. “Who's the kid?”

Octavia lifted her chin like a challenge. “Murphy. He's my science partner.”

Bellamy spared a glance for Murphy, who was watching the sibling exchange with passive amusement. At some point, he had finished his popsicle and was chewing on the stick.

Bellamy thought he looked like a cow.

“Science partner,” he repeated.

“Yeah.” Octavia’s chin lowered a little, confidence deflating under Bellamy's scrutiny. “We’re dissecting owl pellets Friday.”

“Cool.” Bellamy looked back at Murphy, hoping to make him squirm a little too. “Why is he here?”

Murphy didn't look away, gnawing away on his popsicle stick. He provided Bellamy with no answers. Stubborn like Octavia, but not close to as charming.

Octavia chose that moment to step in front of Murphy, blocking him. “He got into a fight with one of the bigger boys on our bus and I think if he didn't get off the bus with me the guy maybe would have killed him. And because he's my friend. You want me to have friends, right?”

Her final question was hesitant, like she actually wasn't sure if he wanted that at all. It kind of broke his heart.

Bellamy looked at Murphy again, assessing. Finally, he said, “You got in a fight?”

“Did you?” Murphy mocked, mouth twisting into a little sneer. He tapped his popsicle stick against his lips, pointing out the split in Bellamy’s mouth. “Is that why you’re late?”

“What did you say-?” Bellamy stepped forward, irritation flaring. What a little shit-

Octavia put a hand on his arm, looking up at him pleadingly before he could build up any momentum. “Please, Bell, can he stay? Just for a little bit longer?”

Bellamy hesitated. He didn't know this kid. He obviously had a terrible attitude and bad habits that Octavia really shouldn’t be developing, but.

But Octavia had never really had a friend before, or ever really wanted one. It was always just Bellamy and Octavia, and having her big brother had always been enough for her. But maybe now it wasn't.

And maybe that was good.

It didn't feel good. It mostly felt like shit, like she was growing up and that sucked like. A lot. But it also made him proud.

He dropped his arms finally, sighing. “Fine, he can stay.”

“And he can come over some other days too?”

Bellamy glanced at Murphy. “Seriously?”

“Bellamy!”

“Fine.” He rolled his eyes. “But we've got ground rules. One, I gotta know when he's coming over.”

“Okay.’

“Two, you guys stay in the living room or out here. No going in your bedroom.”

Octavia flushed, picking up on his implication quickly. “Bellamy, that's so embarrassing-"

“Still a rule.”

Octavia leaned closer to him, brows furrowed. “I don’t like-like him,” she hissed.

“Yeah,” Murphy chimed in. “She like-likes Finn. Who is gross.”

Octavia turned redder and spun around to face Murphy, stomping a foot. “I do not!”

“Do too!”

“Rule three,” Bellamy interrupted, “is that we get him home before sundown.”

They both agreed before launching right back into an argument. Bellamy stepped around them to get inside and left Octavia alone to bicker with her new friend.

---

When Bellamy was a baby, five people lived in the Blake home. Bellamy doesn't remember this, but he's heard the stories of how his mom got pregnant in her junior year, how his father moved in with his mom, Nana, and Gramp. And how it didn't last very long at all.

Nana and Gramp were technically Bellamy's great-grandparents. They had raised Aurora after their daughter split town and had buckled down to help Aurora raise Bellamy too- only this time they made it clear that they would not be left to raise a child alone.

According to Aurora, Bellamy’s father had walked out before Bellamy celebrated his first birthday. Bellamy knew nothing about him other than his age. Not his name, his birthday, his family, or what he looked like. Bellamy used to ask about him often, especially after Octavia was born. He wanted to know about his father. Anything about him.

No one would say.

Gramp was eighty when Bellamy was born. He used to be a history teacher, but by the time Bellamy was alive he had retired and spent his time sitting in the recliner in their living room. He watched a lot of documentaries about war, Bellamy remembered. Bellamy liked to sit on the floor beside him and watch too. Gramp made it five years, made it long enough to see Octavia born, before he passed away in his sleep. Cardiac arrest, or something. Bellamy doesn’t remember. They don’t talk about it.

They don’t talk about Nana either. Growing up, she had been a source of peace in the household. While Aurora was preoccupied with work, Nana became Bellamy and Octavia’s primary support. She would take care of Octavia during the day and would wait for Bellamy to come home from school every afternoon. Once, he remembered, Aurora had disappeared for over a week without telling Bellamy she was leaving or where she was going. Nana took care of them then too, reassuring Bellamy that Aurora was just taking a little vacation somewhere peaceful, for adults. After Aurora returned, they never mentioned where she had gone or why.

Nana died too, caught pneumonia in the winter when Bellamy was fourteen and she was ninety-one. She hadn’t been much help at home for a long time, nearly five years. She couldn’t work, couldn’t help with Octavia, couldn’t cook or clean. She could barely take care of herself, relying on Bellamy and Aurora for everything. Bellamy did remember this. He wished that he didn’t.

Eventually, only Bellamy, Octavia, and Aurora lived in the Blake home. There were five rooms inside. A kitchen with barely any room to cook and outdated appliances, a narrow bathroom with a column shower and a single sink, two bedrooms that belonged to Octavia and Aurora respectively, and a living room with just enough space for Gramp’s old recliner and a secondhand futon where Bellamy slept every night. He made the choice to give their shared room to Octavia when she turned eight, no longer comfortable sharing a room with his baby sister at the ripe age of twelve.

Even though Aurora lived there, the Blake children often had the house to themselves. Aurora left before them each morning. She worked for a dry cleaners close to midtown, where she mended clothes. She worked late most evenings, often coming home after dark. She always retired to her room early, usually staying in the common area just long enough to eat a microwave meal and listen to Octavia tell stories about school. Octavia took the time with her mother in a fervor, talking fast and rushing her stories, desperate to entertain her and gather any moment of attention she could keep.

Sometimes, Aurora just didn’t come home. Bellamy didn’t like those nights at all. Every once and a while, her absences would last for days at a time. Those were the times Bellamy dreaded, wondering when a couple of days would turn into forever.

The first day that Murphy visited was a night that Aurora did come home. She came in quietly at nearly eight o’clock. Murphy had been gone for a little over an hour.

Octavia greeted Aurora at the door, flying across the small living room and into her mother’s arms. She launched into the story of Murphy without giving Aurora a moment to catch her breath.

Guilt formed in Bellamy’s stomach every time Aurora came home. He hated how old she looked, how tired, how beyond her thirty-two years. The guilt had sharp metal edges that cut into everything tender inside him. Each line in her young face was a reminder of what Bellamy had taken from her. He never rushed to greet her, choosing instead to hover at a distance, waiting for any opportunity to help her with anything.

“-and so we were sitting together on the bus, right, because we had to start talking in class because we got paired together. For science? Yeah, so he’s my science partner. And so we sat together on the bus too because we realized we actually ride the same bus every day. I mean, I knew that, but I didn’t want to talk to him, because I kind of thought he was a dick-”

“Octavia,” Bellamy chastised.

“-I mean like, you met him, he is. But anyway, so we were sitting together on the bus and these older boys started making fun of us and singing k-i-s-s-i-n-g, you know that one? You know it, mama?”

“Yes, baby,” Aurora confirmed. They were still by the front door, Octavia grasping Aurora’s arms firmly, wiggling in place as she told her story. Aurora, to her benefit, was doing her best to react appropriately.

“Yeah, they were singing that, and Murphy just stands up and yells, that’s not true, and what would you know about kissing anyway!” Her voice dipped to mimic Murphy’s voice. “And they did not like that, they started saying mean things about both of us and then Murphy just-” Octavia jumps then, punching an imaginary enemy. “Pow! Just punched this one guy, and his nose starts bleeding, right? And he is not happy, no ma’am, and just swings back at Murphy and hits him right in the eye. Murphy fell down because the guy hit him so hard, and then the bus stopped at our corner and I just jumped up and I grabbed Murphy and dragged him off the bus with me. The guy couldn’t keep up because he’s kind of fat and also his nose was bleeding. Did I say that?”

“You did,” Aurora confirmed. She gently removed her arms from Octavia’s grasp, moving towards the kitchen in search of dinner. Bellamy cut her off before she could make it halfway.

“Sit down, mom. I’ve got it.”

Aurora squeezed his arm gently and turned back around. He rushed to the kitchen to warm up leftover noodles in the microwave for her. She took a seat in the recliner and Octavia threw herself onto the floor in front of her, recounting the rest of her afternoon in rambling detail. She talked through Aurora’s meal, running out of steam when she noticed her mother beginning to doze off.

“-and anyway, yeah. I think Murphy’s coming over again tomorrow, mama. Maybe you can come home early, and maybe meet him?” Octavia looked so hopeful. Everyone in the room knew it wouldn’t happen.

“Maybe I can,” Aurora said anyway. Bellamy looked down, frustrated that she would play into the fantasy.

“Oh, that would be so cool- he’s so cool, just don’t tell him I said so-”

“Hey, O,” Bellamy interrupted. “Why don’t you go take a shower? It’s late.” Octavia looked ready to argue, but Aurora spoke up before she could start.

“That’s a good idea. Go on, baby girl.”

Octavia stood without any resistance, leaning in to give her mother a tight hug before going into the bathroom as she was told.

Bellamy sat back in his seat on the futon, rubbing a hand over his aching eyes. “She had a really good day.”

 

“Seems so,” Aurora agreed. She looked over at Bellamy finally, the small smile she had served Octavia for the last hour dissolving. Aurora carried a black cloud with her everywhere, so heavy that Bellamy imagined he could see it, felt it consuming him too. “Is the Murphy kid-”

 

“I don’t know. He seems alright. Kind of a shithead, but he’s nice to O. She needs someone her age to talk to.” Bellamy looked down at his hands. “It’s gonna be good for her.”

“Good, just… watch her, Bellamy. She’s your sister.”

“My sister, my responsibility,” he agreed, the words seared into his mind. Please, thank you, my sister, my responsibility. Aurora had been drilling it into him since the day Octavia was born.

“Good,” Aurora repeated.

Bellamy looked back up at her, sighing. “It’s the first tomorrow. I’ve got about two hundred saved up, but we’re low on groceries-”

 

“I just need one-fifty,” Aurora cut in. “I’ll leave the rest in the coffee tin in the morning. Just take it in before the office closes, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Bellamy agreed. “I will. And I’ll get groceries.”

“Okay.” Aurora closed her eyes, leaning back in the chair. It’s quiet for a long time, long enough that Bellamy thought she might have been sleeping, before she spoke up again. “I need you to do more around here, Bellamy.”

The weight is back in his churning stomach. He could feel a sting behind his eyes. But all he said was, “Okay.”

“You’re sixteen. I know you’ve been working for the neighbors, but-”

“I can get a job. I’ll figure it out,” he promised. “I’ll help out more, mom.”

He didn’t remind her that no, actually, he was seventeen. He figured it didn’t really matter.

 

“I can’t do it all, Bellamy.” Aurora stood slowly, dragging. “Remember, I’m leaving the money in the coffee tin.”

“Yes ma’am.”

She crossed the living room, disappeared into her bedroom without another word. When the door closed behind her, the house went quiet again. Bellamy sat on the futon motionlessly for a few minutes, stared at Gramp’s chair before he stood. He unfolded the futon mechanically, grabbing the blanket and pillows stashed beneath. He made his bed for the night and collapsed on the thin mattress. He was exhausted.

He stared at the ceiling for hours.

---

Murphy came over the next day, and the next. And he was back again on Friday. Octavia was loyal to the rules, warning Bellamy each day that her friend was coming over. He always went home before dark, and they stayed in the common area of the house.

Bellamy was with them most afternoons, usually arriving late. He had stopped taking the bus, instead going around town scavenging for a job. He found one at a carwash close to home, working after school until six and all day on the weekends. It was temporary gig since most people weren’t looking to wash their cars after the weather changed. But it was a job, and he would make enough cash for groceries and maybe utilities, if things went well. It gave him time to find something better.

He started the following week, catching a ride with a coworker. He walked home afterwards, always drenched with sweat or water. And every day, he came home to Murphy on his porch or in his living room, Octavia nearby, watching old DVDs, working on their homework, or bickering about something stupid

It continued that way for nearly a month. At some point, Octavia stopped telling Bellamy when Murphy would be there. Around the same time, Bellamy started buying enough snacks to feed two kids every afternoon. He didn’t mind, really. At least Octavia wasn’t alone while he worked.

In mid-September he came home and found them sprawled across the futon with a huge bowl of popcorn, watching The Little Mermaid. Again.

“I’ve got other movies. You guys could watch those,” Bellamy pointed out, grumpy. He yanked his shirt off, heading directly for the bathroom.

“Yeah, but your stuff sucks,” Murphy said, eyes glued to the screen. “Not even one gay crab.”

Bellamy rolled his eyes, slamming the bathroom door behind him. He refused to smile when he heard the two of them laughing behind his back.

After a shower, he redressed and joined them on the couch. He sat beside Octavia, letting her lean all over him while he stole fistfuls of their popcorn. They had mixed M&Ms in with the kernels. Bellamy was careful to avoid eating those, leaving them behind for the kids. He fell asleep just as Ariel got her legs.

When he woke up, the screen had switched to fuzzy old episodes of Spongebob. Octavia and Murphy were sitting on the carpet. Octavia was holding Murphy’s hand on her bent knee, carefully painting his nails black. Her nails matched. Bellamy wrinkled his nose, lurching upright on the couch with a huff.

“Smells bad,” he declared, fuzzy. “What time is it?”

“Like eight?” Octavia answered. She made an annoyed sound when she smeared polish across Murphy’s knuckle, concentration broken.

“Whoooa, way to go, O. Last time I trust you on my manicure,” Murphy said. His voice was drenched with sarcasm, but Bellamy saw his face, saw the fondness there. It distracted from his nose, casting his features in a sweetness that didn’t match his personality.

“Eight’s late,” Bellamy said. He rubbed his hands over his face, checking his flip phone. “Yeah, it’s late. Beat it, Murphy.”

 

“I’m not done with his nails,” Octavia whined. “Let me finish!”

“Yeah, let her finish,” Murphy mimicked, looking up at him with a wicked sparkle in his eyes. That was more like it.

Bellamy rolled his eyes and stood, wandering into the kitchen. “Fine. Just means we gotta walk you to the bus stop.”

“Yessir.” Murphy saluted with his finished hand and Octavia giggled. Bellamy grabbed a pack of poptarts from the cupboard, eating them over the sink while they laughed in the living room. He’s pretty sure he overheard Murphy mimicking his voice, but he ignored it, too tired to argue with a twelve year old.

---

Fifteen minutes later, Bellamy and Octavia turned away from the bus stop after seeing Murphy safely onto his line. Bellamy put an arm around Octavia’s skinny shoulders, giving her a warm squeeze. She leaned into him, sleepiness creeping over her too. The sun was beginning to dip, sunset coming earlier as the months marched by.

“You still like that dipshit?” he asked casually.

“Bell,” she whined. “I don’t like-like him. Stop saying it, that’s so weird. He’s Murphy.”

“You could like-like him if you wanted,” Bellamy allowed.

“But I don’t.” She snuggled closer to his side, yawning. “I really don’t. He’s just my friend. I don’t want to like-like him.”

“Then don’t.” They walked on in silence for a while before Bellamy continued. “I’m surprised he’s hanging out so much, though. Don’t his parents want him home?”

“His dad’s dead,” Octavia said simply. “And I don’t think his mom cares. He doesn’t really talk about it.”

Bellamy nodded, squeezing her closer. “That sucks.”

“Yeah. I’m glad mom cares.”

“Me too.” He leaned down, kissing the crown of her head gently.

Aurora didn’t come home that night.

---

Bellamy was laid off in the first week of October. He had gotten into a little brawl with one of the other washers and the manager had let them both go. Bellamy found a different job fast, working as a busboy at some hip new brunch place in midtown on Saturdays and Sundays. Fewer hours than the last job, but there was a promise of a server job and extra hours if he could manage bussing for a couple of weeks without fucking up too extraordinarily.

The sun was setting earlier these days, dipping past the horizon by 6:30. Bellamy had grown lax on his rules at this point, never asking when Murphy would be there (because he would be there, even on some weekends) and not pushing for him to leave before sunset. It had become the new normal for Bellamy and Octavia to walk him to his bus stop each night, always before eight, to see him off. Bellamy hadn’t had to reiterate his bedroom rule, but he wasn’t worried anymore. Murphy had proven that he wasn’t a threat to Octavia.

Bellamy was actually pretty grateful to the kid.

Tonight was special, even for the new status quo. Friday the 13th was showing on one of the local channels at eight o’clock, on Friday the 13th of October, and after a full week of begging from Octavia and Murphy, he had agreed to let Murphy stay for the movie, with the stipulation of Bellamy and Octavia riding the bus home with him instead of sending him off on his own at nearly ten thirty.

Bellamy made dinner, for once actually cooking instead of throwing a premade meal into their tiny oven. Murphy acted as his sous chef, proving to be surprisingly competent even in comparison to Bellamy. They managed to scrape together a decent chicken alfredo without setting a thing on fire. Murphy made garlic bread out of their half-stale loaf of wheat bread and convinced both Blakes that yeah, green beans are good, you “fucking neanderthals.” Bellamy chose not to call him out for his language, feeling appropriately shamed.

At five minutes to eight, Octavia and Murphy were settled on the couch, sharing a small pink blanket covered in cartoon unicorns with a bowl of doritos between them. They were splitting a two liter of cola, drinking straight from the bottle. Bellamy joined them from the kitchen, a can of beer in his hand. Drinking wasn’t something he did a lot. Usually only at parties or when his mother brought a twelve pack home - which wasn’t often, since things were a little too tight to splurge on booze. But a beer or two when he could get it was nice. It provided just enough of a distraction to kill the usual throbbing anxiety that lived inside his skull.

As soon as he walked in, Murphy’s eyes were on him, focused intently on the can in his hand. Bellamy lifted a brow, watching Murphy track him across the room and all the way to the recliner. He didn’t look away even when Bellamy kicked up the foot rest and settled the beer between his legs.

“Hey, Murph, it’s a no.”

 

“Huh?” Murphy said, looking away from the beer at last to give Bellamy an automatic stinkface. “What are you talking about?”

“I mean no, you can’t have a beer. Sorry, kid, in this house we don’t crack open a cold one until we’re fifteen.” Or twelve in Bellamy’s case. But neither of them really needed to know that.

“I don’t like beer,” Murphy said blandly. Octavia made a shushing noise, jumping up to turn off the light as the movie started. Murphy looked at the screen, arms crossing. Bellamy took it for pouting.

“No? You looking for me to break out the hard stuff? Because that’s still a no-”

“I don’t like alcohol,” Murphy clarified, voice clipped. Bellamy frowned, not expecting that. “It’s gross.”

“You try a lot of liquor, kid?”

“Just my mom’s vodka. It burns,” Murphy muttered.

Bellamy frowned, sure that he should say something to that. Like, why are you drinking your mom’s vodka, or maybe how often does your mom drink? But Octavia shushed them again, sitting forward excitedly as the opening credits played. Bellamy watched Murphy for a moment. He was staring unflinchingly at the screen.

Bellamy let it go.

After the movie, he made sure both of them were wrapped up in their scarves and coats, before ushering them out the door and to the bus stop. Both kids were clearly tired, their usual constant banter dying off halfway down the street. By the time they got on the bus, both of them were quiet and docile. The rest of the people on the bus were older and raucous, making the unlucky day into a day of celebration. When they found a seat, Octavia leaned into Bellamy and Murphy leaned into her from the other side. Bellamy asked which stop was Murphy's before leaving them alone for the rest of the ride. It was longer trip than it should have been, taking nearly twenty minutes instead of ten. The bus made irregular stops along the way to dump passengers outside of packed bars.

When they finally arrived at Murphy’s stop, Bellamy ushered the children off the bus, holding Octavia’s sleepy form up once they hit the street.

“Where’s your house?” he asked Murphy quietly. Murphy seemed alert, more awake now than he had been back on Oak Street.

“Building is down there,” Murphy answered, jerking his chin up the street.

“Come on, let’s go,” Bellamy said, making a move to head that way.

“No.” Murphy shook his head, stepping backwards away from him and towards his apartment. “No, it’s cool. It’s right down there. Your bus will be here soon, you shouldn’t miss it.”

“Murphy-”

 

“I got this.” Murphy turned, heading off without looking back.

“Bye, Murph,” Octavia called, sleepy. Murphy waved over his shoulder, disappearing up the black street. Bellamy frowned after him, torn about following to make sure he made it, when their bus came ambling around the corner, making his decision for him.

---

Winter was awful, as usual. There was snow on the ground by the end of October and the seals on their windows had gotten worse. The Blake house was cold enough that most nights, Octavia ended up crawling into bed with Bellamy, needing him to keep her warm. By mid-November, Bellamy broke down and bought a space heater for the living room. Each afternoon found Bellamy gathered close to the heat with Octavia and Murphy, all of them too miserably cold to contemplate going outside. Some nights, Bellamy demanded that they all study - himself included. Others, he would allow them to huddle up on the futon as soon as they walked through the door, the three of them burning through their DVD collection in the early night.

Aurora was scarce through November. Bellamy found himself sitting up late, wrapped in piles of blankets without the comfort of the space heater (at night, it lived in Octavia’s room) and waiting for a door to open, when it often never would.

She made it for Thanksgiving, and so did Murphy. Bellamy didn’t question it, confident at this point that Murphy’s mom didn’t ever really care where her kid was, much less on the holidays. Aurora didn’t ask either, and Bellamy didn’t ask her why she didn’t care that another woman’s child had been abandoned at their doorstep on a holiday all about family.

Murphy helped Bellamy cook when he arrived, while Octavia provided a running commentary from the living room about what was happening in the parade. Aurora was napping. She had arrived just after sunrise, looking like she hadn’t slept at all the night before.

Neither of the boys were sure how to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but they managed as best they could. They baked chicken breasts in place of turkey, made runny instant mashed potatoes and boxed mac and cheese, frozen biscuits, green beans, and served it all up with a side of canned cranberry jelly that Aurora had brought home as a Thanksgiving offering.

Murphy was abnormally quiet through their meal, eyes down as they ate. He seemed uncomfortable with Aurora’s presence, actively avoiding making eye contact with her. Octavia, as usual, talked non-stop, stuffing food in her mouth without tasting it as she watched their mother. Aurora listened quietly as she always did, nodding along and picking through her meal dispassionately. Bellamy ate while the women talked, letting Octavia absorb Aurora’s attention.

The meal passed without any Thanksgiving pomp and circumstance. No one asked who was thankful for what. It was just a bigger meal than usual, dressed up with cranberry sauce and good intentions.

After the meal was over, Aurora excused herself to shower. Bellamy nominated Octavia to clean up, since she hadn’t contributed to the cooking, and followed Murphy into the living room to catch the highlight reel of that morning’s parade.

“The food was good,” Bellamy said after a while. “It would have been disgusting if I did it by myself.”

“I know,” Murphy quipped, slouched low on the futon. “You didn’t really do anything anyway. I fixed everything you ruined.”

Bellamy snorted. “Brat.”

“You’re welcome.”

---

For Bellamy winter break meant working triple the amount he did while classes were in session. He had been promoted to a server at the restaurant, and with a completely open schedule, his boss agreed to pack on the hours. He was working every morning, only scheduled off on Christmas and New Years Day. But it was good. Murphy met up with Octavia every morning and kept her company while Bellamy was away. It meant Bellamy had the money to buy something for his mom and Octavia, and he’d scraped together enough to buy a small tree for the corner of their living room.

Octavia and Murphy decorated the tree the morning after Bellamy brought it home. They stitched together popcorn and raisins to dangle from the branches and topped it with a plastic tiara Octavia had gotten for her fifth birthday. They smushed an old sheet at the base in place of a tree skirt and convinced a neighbor to give them a strand of lights to weave through its branches.

It was the ugliest thing Bellamy had ever seen. It made his heart hurt to look at it.

Bellamy woke up on Christmas morning to the smell of pancakes. Aurora was home, in the kitchen quietly cooking. She had on pajamas and an old robe, a sign that she had come home at some point in the night. She was there to see them wake up, to see them open the little packages under their ugly tree.

Bellamy stayed in bed for a while, listened to her cook, and willed away tears at the relief that flooded his body.

Octavia woke up not long after and ran into the living room, leaping onto Bellamy with a war cry.

“Christmas! Bellamy, it’s Christmas! Get up! Mom’s here! There’s breakfast! Bellamy, there’s presents! We’ve got presents!” Octavia shook him, her lopsided sleep ponytail flopping around wildly.

Bellamy laughed, tickled her sides and joined her excited howls.

Aurora insisted that they eat before they opened their presents. As soon as the last bite was stuffed in her mouth, Octavia went running into the living room to investigate. Bellamy looked at Aurora beseechingly and she rolled her eyes, waving him off as she stood to clear their small table.

Bellamy joined Octavia on the living room floor, looking at the piles Octavia had gathered around her.

“Okay, okay, these four are for me,” she said, voice high with excitement. “And these two are for mom. And- wait.” Octavia paused, confused, looking through the presents again. “Wait. This one is yours, but it’s from me, there’s got to be another one here-”

 

Bellamy kept a straight face, did his best not to react to the fact that it had somehow slipped his mother’s mind to buy him a gift. “Nah, O, it’s okay. I think it’s just this one for me this year. Probably since I’ve been so naughty.” He grabbed the present she had wrapped for him, a lopsided box tapped up in news paper. He gave it a shake, holding it close to his ear. “I’m pretty sure this one is coal.”

Octavia snorted. “I’m not a kid, Bell. I know Santa isn’t real.”

“No,” he agreed, somber. “He’s not. But naughtiness is, and I have been a bad boy.”

Octavia laughed again, smacking his leg. It was enough to distract her, to Bellamy’s relief. Aurora joined them, sitting carefully on the rug with a mug of coffee. Octavia grabbed a present, ripping into the paper with glee.

From Bellamy, she received a small purple canister of mace on a keychain with a large, puffy, circular white bunny. “Just in case,” he said seriously. Along with it, he gave her a box full of new DVDs - all picked from the bargain bin, but all new to the Blake collection. From Aurora, she received a beautiful new coat, purple, heavy and long. Aurora also gave her a shiny set of new hair clips.

Aurora received a homemade jewelry box from Octavia, who had built it with kitchen twine and a collection of popsicle sticks saved up from the summer. She had painted it with watercolor paints stolen from school (by Murphy) that stained the wood with a mismatched rainbow of brilliant color. From Bellamy, she received a set of nice soaps, vanilla like she liked.

Bellamy got a necklace from Octavia, a shiny, smooth stone tied onto a leather strap. He put it on immediately, not minding the cool stone against his chest.

“Thanks, O,” he said, pulling her close and pressing a kiss to her hair. “I love it.”

“Mom,” Octavia said, “You didn’t get Bellamy anything.”

“Ours is in the fridge,” Aurora said, “We’re going to drink it later on.”

Bellamy’s chest tightened, eyes dropping to the shreds of wrapping paper on the floor. Of course.

---

Murphy arrived at their house just after noon. Bellamy couldn’t help noticing the dark circles under his eyes, or the splotchy bruise on his cheek. He didn’t mention it. He let him inside where Octavia greeted with a huge hug before dragging him to the tree to open the last gift sitting underneath - the one she had made for him. It was a necklace similar to Bellamy’s, but instead of a rock it was a melted up hunk of metal, warped, but with smooth edges. Bellamy had found it in the gutter one day and brought it home for her, not knowing that it would be regifted.

Murphy put it on as soon as if was out of the wrapper. He grabbed Octavia in a vicious hug, mumbling an apology for not bringing anything for her. Bellamy ignored how choked up he sounded and chose not to tease them for how long their hug lasted.

---

That night Murphy and Octavia curled up on the futon, watching one of Octavia’s new DVDs. Bellamy and Aurora bundled up in their coats near dark. They sat on the front steps with a bottle of Jack to split between them. Aurora drank double the amount of her son as they passed the bottle back and forth. They didn’t talk much, staring out at the street and occasionally mumbling something about work or Octavia or dumb shit they had heard about their neighbors.

“Nana would have had a good time tonight,” Aurora slurred, sometime after nine. The bottle between them was nearly empty. Bellamy’s vision was swimming, the lights on the street blurred in front of them. Aurora had pulled out a pack of cigarettes at some point, and both of them had been lighting smoke after smoke as the night dragged on.

It took him time to reply, thrown by the off-hand mention of the dead. “Yeah,” he managed, voice hoarse.

“It was a good one,” Aurora continued. She was leaning her full weight against the rusted railing of their steps, blurry eyes locked onto the inflated Santa in the lawn opposite them. “Good one. Octavia’s getting so grown up.”

“Yeah.” Bellamy took another swig from the bottle, numb to the sting. “She’s so good. She’s a good kid.”

“Yeah.”

Bellamy looked over at his mother, marvelling at her youth. She had been younger than him when she had him. He couldn’t comprehend how scary that must have been. He couldn’t imagine having a child, having to raise a baby and give up everything else. What did she do before him? What was her life like before he grew inside her, draining away her youth and taking all the opportunities ahead of her?

“I’m sorry,” he choked out, eyes glazed. “I ruined it.”

Aurora looked over at him, squinting to bring his face into focus. “Huh?”

“I ruined it. You. I ruined you,” he rambled, rocking backwards away from her, scared to get closer. “If you didn’t- you might not be here, you could be something better. You and O, you could… you could have had better, but I happened and…”

“Yeah,” Aurora agreed, looking away. “Yeah, it would have been different without you.”

Bellamy had known it was true, but it stung to hear it.

“You’re a, you were a tough kid, Bellamy,” she said, rubbing a gloved hand over her face. “You screamed all the time, all the time, and I never slept. And it just never stopped you just- needed me, all the time. I just wanted. I wanted to shake you, just-” She held up her hands, mimicking holding a baby in the air, like she was Rafiki in some horrible version of The Lion King. Hamlet, maybe, his mind provided. “Just shake you until you stopped. Wanted to jump in front of bus so I wouldn’t have to come home to you.” She laughed, raw. “And then Octavia came and just.” Aurora shook her head, tears glittering at the corners of her eyes. “I really fucked up. I fucked it all up. But at least she was quiet.”

“I’m sorry,” Bellamy said again. He felt sick at his stomach.

Aurora looked over at him again and lurched sideways, pulling him into a one armed hug. “Yeah, I know. Can’t change it now, though, can we?” She squeezed him and it felt like a vacuum, like she knew her youth was inside of him and she wanted it back. “I still think about it sometimes,” she mused, rubbing his shoulder gently. “It would be so easy to die, Bellamy. I wouldn’t have think about you ever again. I wouldn’t have to worry about Octavia… But here we are.”

“Yeah,” he choked out. He was going to vomit, he wanted to die too, he-

“Bellamy?”

Bellamy hadn’t noticed the door open behind them, light spilling onto the stoop. He looked back, squinting against the light to see Murphy silhouetted against the door. “Murph?”

“You told me to tell you when it was ten,” Murphy said. He sounded hesitant to interrupt and that made everything else in Bellamy hurt worse. He didn’t want to scare this kid, wished he wasn’t so drunk. “So that you could walk me home?”

“Right.” Bellamy lurched to his feet, escaping his mother’s grip. “Right, let’s go. Got your scarf?”

 

“Yeah.” Murphy gave him an inquisitive look, glancing at Aurora and at the bottle and back at Bellamy with - fear?

Bellamy was really going to hurl.

“Come on,” he said instead, turning and making it down the stairs by sheer luck. “It’s late.”

Murphy stepped down after him, carefully avoiding Aurora and the glass bottle precariously balanced on the middle step.

“Bye, Murphy,” Aurora called after them. “Nice to- nice to see you.”

“Yeah, uh. Bye, Ms. Blake. Merry Christmas.” Murphy waved back at her.

The busses weren’t running in their neighborhood that night, shutting down early for the holiday, so Bellamy was walking him instead. Bellamy weaved down the sidewalk in the direction of Murphy’s street. Murphy walked behind him quietly, staying back a bit and out of the range of his unsteady gait. The silence hung between them, only the noise of cars and distant music stirring the air.

“I’m not gonna- gonna hurt you, Murphy,” Bellamy said finally, stomach rolling and eyes stinging against the cold air.

“I know,” Murphy said quietly. “I just don’t want you to barf on me.”

Bellamy barked a laugh, looking back at him. “I’m not gonna- okay, I might, I’m gonna.” He stumbled sideway and grabbed onto the light post they were passing and hurled into the gutter. It didn’t feel like a decision, body led by blind necessity.

It took him awhile to get it all out, world spinning around him while he wretched. At some point he began dry heaving, holding onto his stomach with the arm not supporting his body. He felt better. His throat burned, but his stomach had settled and his head felt clearer. The world was slowing down. He spat into the street and felt a small hand rub a circle on his back timidly.

“You okay, dumbass?” Murphy asked, trying to sound harsh and missing by a mile.

Bellamy straightened up, wiping his mouth across his sleeve. He looked down at Murphy, blinking away stray vomit-induced tears. “Yeah,” he answered, putting a gentle hand on the back of Murphy’s neck. “Sorry. About that.”

Murphy shrugged his hand off and headed down the street again, expecting Bellamy to follow. “It’s whatever.”

Bellamy caught up, walking beside him over the crunchy snow still coating the salted asphalt. They didn’t talk anymore until Murphy stopped outside of a building, digging into his pocket for a key. “This is me,” he explained.

Bellamy nodded, looking up at the bleak building. “Is your mom home?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” Murphy said honestly. “Doesn’t matter.”

“Can you get upstairs by yourself?”

Murphy gave him a scathing look while he unlocked the front door. “I don’t know, can you make it home by yourself?”

Bellamy guessed he deserved that.

“See you tomorrow?” Bellamy tried instead. “I’m working in the morning, but-”

“Yeah, I’ll be there when you get home.” Murphy slammed a shoulder into the door to get it unstuck from the crooked threshold. “See you.”

“See you,” Bellamy mimicked. He waited until the door closed behind Murphy and he heard the lock click before turning and weaving his way back home.

---

School came back with little fanfare. It gave Octavia more to do and Bellamy less time for his job. He seriously considered dropping out of school. They really needed the money. But he wouldn’t let Octavia see him quit, because she was smart. Too smart to think quitting was an option.

Things slowly returned to normal. Aurora was never home, and Murphy was always there. Bellamy found another job waiting tables in the afternoons at a diner on the southside, dropping his job at the brunch place. The tips weren’t as good and the customers sucked, but it was more hours and closer to home.

Usually he arrived home just in time to go with Octavia and Murphy to catch the bus. It was an exhausting ritual, and it used up a ton of bus credits, but it was worth it to get Murphy home safe. Also Octavia liked it, so it wasn’t like Bellamy was going to fight it.

Bellamy walked up the front walk at the end of January after one of his shifts, surprised to find Murphy sitting on his front steps alone.

Murphy was sitting in the same spot he had been the first day Bellamy had met him, Octavia’s spot beside him empty. He had on his old coat and a scarf that Octavia had given him twined tightly around his neck, but he was still shivering from the cold. Instead of a popsicle in his hand, he held a cigarette, the end burning cherry red. A squashed soft pack of cigarettes sat between his feet with a book of matches. Bellamy could tell even in the soft haze of the streetlights that his eyes were red, face shiny-wet from tears that he tried to rub away. Bellamy approached and Murphy looked him dead in the eye as he took an unsteady drag from the cigarette balanced awkwardly between his fingers.

Bellamy considered shouting at him, snatching the cigarette and crushing it under his boot. Considered demanding to know where he’d gotten them, why he thought it was okay to smoke at Bellamy’s house, if he had given one to Octavia and made her smoke too-

But instead he sat on the steps with him, stealing the cigarette from his hand. Murphy’s mouth opened to protest, words dying when Bellamy took a drag for himself. Bellamy passed it back to him wordlessly. Murphy stared at him, suspicious, the cigarette burning down between his fingers. Bellamy lifted a brow, blowing a stream of smoke out in his general direction. Murphy snorted and took another drag before passing it to Bellamy again.

They sat there in silence, passing the cigarette back and forth. At some point, Murphy lit another to keep it going and Bellamy didn’t argue. He wasn’t going to speak first, didn’t comment on Murphy’s tears when they started trickling down his cheeks again.

It took some time, but finally, Murphy cracked. “It’s my birthday,” he said thickly.

Bellamy looked at him, nodding a little, leaving space for him to keep talking.

“And uh, my mom- she.” Murphy cleared his throat and looked down at his shoes.

“She forget?” Bellamy guessed quietly.

“Yeah,” Murphy said, barely a whisper. Fresh tears clung to his lashes, his mouth twisted into an ugly little crook. “I mean, I knew she would. It doesn’t fucking matter.”

“It matters,” Bellamy corrected. He settled an arm around Murphy’s shoulders gently. “How old are you now?”

“Thirteen.” Murphy didn’t lean into him, tense and unsure. He was practically vibrating, holding in more emotions than could possibly be healthy. Bellamy imagined it was Octavia, how heart broken she would be if Aurora let her birthday pass without any celebration.

“That’s awesome,” Bellamy said simply. “You’re a teenager now. Gonna start setting cars on fire?”

Murphy snorted wetly, wiping an arm across his eyes before taking another unsteady drag. “That’s kid stuff. I’m th-thinking bomb plots, maybe.” He relaxed incrementally into Bellamy’s side, body still trembling and shivering.

“Whoa, dream big.” Bellamy took the cigarette again, afraid Murphy would burn himself with his trembling hands. “Does O know?”

Murphy shook his head, stuffing his hands between his thighs to warm them up. Bellamy nodded, watching him huff out visible breaths into the cool night.

“Okay. Do you want to go home?” Bellamy felt Murphy’s body tense again, leaning slightly away from Bellamy. Bellamy squeezed him close again. “You don’t have to go.”

Murphy looked up at him, confused. “What? That’s your rule-”

“Fuck it, it’s your birthday.” Bellamy squeezed his shoulder. “And you guys don’t have school tomorrow. So who cares?” He took a drag, and offered the almost dead cigarette out to Murphy. Murphy took it, inhaling it down to the filter before flicking it into the street. “You can stay tonight.” He paused. “And you can stay any other time you need to. It’s safe here. Cool?”

Murphy looked up at him, perplexed, before nodding slowly. “Cool,” he agreed.

“Cool.” Bellamy gave him a squeeze. “Where is O, anyway?”

 

“She fell asleep on the couch. We were watching The Lorax, so you can’t blame her.”

Bellamy snorted and stood. “Well, go inside and give her the good news. And tell her it’s your birthday, Murph, she’ll feel guilty if she misses it.”

Murphy nodded up at him, picking up his cigarette pack. “Where are you going?”

“I gotta run to the gas station. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Bellamy gave him a little salute and headed down the walk. “Tell Octavia,” he repeated.

Bellamy returned home with a bag of four packs of zebra cakes, a package of hot chocolate mix that was way overpriced, and a pack of lollipops. At the register, he had flirted with the cashier and slipped candy bars from the check-out stand into his pockets while she was distracted.

When he got inside, he found Octavia fretting over Murphy, who she had already outfitted in her favorite pajamas - a fuzzy pair of pink pants and a hand-me-down school sweatshirt from Bellamy. The tiara that had been perched on top of their tree was now on Murphy’s head. Octavia was in the middle of a tirade about how much fun they were going to have at their sleepover to make up for Octavia falling asleep in the middle of his birthday, for heaven’s sake-

Bellamy snuck into the kitchen, dumping his bounty onto the counter. He arranged the snack cakes as best he could into a makeshift birthday cake. He dug through their junk drawer until he found thirteen birthday candles, all burnt down at least partially. He stuck them on top of the cake and lit them all. He carried out the cake in one hand, his other hand stretched around the candy he had bought (and stolen) from the shop. He threw the candy in their direction, showering them in it dramatically.

“Happy birthday to you,” Bellamy began, awkwardly singing as he carried in the precarious cake. Octavia joined in, grabbing Murphy’s hand. Murphy looked incredibly confused, mouth hanging open.

Bellamy crouched beside him, holding up the fake cake for his inspection. When the song ended, Octavia squeezed his hand, spurring him on. “You’ve got to blow out the candles! Make a wish!”

Murphy looked at Bellamy, questioning. Bellamy nodded, and Murphy blew out the candles with one big breath, his eyes shining and wet.

---

Murphy seemed hesitant to ask when he needed a place to stay, but some nights he would corner Bellamy, quietly requesting a sleepover. Bellamy always said yes, even when the request was on a school night. The sleepovers never took place on a night when Aurora was home, which was for the best. Bellamy slept in her bed, giving up the futon to Murphy so that the kid had his own space.

It was good. And no one ever came looking for Murphy.

“I wish he just stayed with us all the time,” Octavia said one night. They had ridden the bus home with Murphy that evening, escorting him all the way to the door of his building before turning back home.

“I know you guys have a good time,” Bellamy agreed.

“No, it’s not that.” Her tone was unusually serious. He looked down at her in the seat beside him. “I mean- he’s family. I wish he was with us all the time.”

Bellamy opened his mouth to protest, but stopped at the last moment. He was family, wasn’t he? He was always there. He watched Octavia’s back when Bellamy couldn’t. Hell, Murphy had become a friend to Bellamy at this point, no matter how strange it felt to say that about someone four years his junior. Murphy was in their home more often than Aurora these days, his presence more comforting than Bellamy’s mother in a lot of ways.

“I know,” Bellamy answered at last. “But he’s got to go home. It’s the right thing.”

“Is it?” Octavia said, eyes downcast.

Bellamy didn’t know.

---

Things changed in February.

It was a Saturday, a rare Saturday where Murphy hadn’t appeared on their doorstep and Bellamy hadn’t had a shift at the diner. Aurora wasn’t home, so Bellamy and Octavia had loaded up huge bowls with cereal and settled in to watch cartoons all morning.

Between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers, there was a knock at the door.

Bellamy answered in his pajamas, expecting Murphy. Instead, a man and woman he had never seen before stood before him, both wearing suits and sunglasses. Bellamy felt like he’d been transported into an episode of NCIS, panic swelling in his chest.

“Is she okay?” he said, immediately concluding that something had happened to Aurora.

“Are you Bellamy Blake?” the woman asked.

“Yes- yeah, I’m Bellamy. Is my mom okay?” he repeated.

“We’re not here in regards to your mother, Mr. Blake,” the man said.

“May we come in?” the woman asked.

“What’s this about?” Bellamy asked, suspicious. They didn’t look like they were from child services, but that had happened before and-

“We’re here regarding Octavia Blake.”

Bellamy tensed, standing straighter. “What about her.”

“Her father, John Reynolds, has passed away. We are here regarding his will,” the woman said.

“No,” he said. “We don’t know who her father is.”

“It appears that your mother did know who her father was, and alerted him of her existence before her birth,” the man said. “At the time of her birth, Mr. Reynolds paid for a paternity test that confirmed the allegations.”

“Then where the fuck has he been?” Bellamy hissed. He stepped out, closing the door behind him. He could hear Octavia laughing at the TV.

“Mr. Reynolds chose not to be involved in Octavia’s life. He signed away parental rights to your mother after receiving the paternity results. Your mother received a monetary sum as compensation,” the woman said.

“Does it look like we received any kind of compensation?” Bellamy held onto the door handle to anchor himself, fury burning through his veins. This couldn’t be happening. His mother would have told him, would have told Octavia, if her father was out there somewhere.

Wouldn’t she?

“The compensation was to be paid to Octavia on her eighteenth birthday, the intended purpose being to pay for her continued education,” she clarified.

That would explain why Aurora was constantly on Bellamy’s ass about making sure that Octavia focused on her school work. Motherfuck.

“Yeah, well, she’s not eighteen, but here you fucking are.” Bellamy recognized that he was being rude, but this was sort of a lot to take in.

“I apologize for the… inconvenience, Mr. Blake, but we need to speak to your mother on this matter. She is Octavia’s guardian and will be responsible for handling what comes next.”

“Well she’s not here, so it looks like you’re gonna need to fill me in.”

The man and woman looked at each other, seeming to have some kind of silent conversation between their sunglasses, before looking back at him.

“Very well,” the man said. “Mr. Reynolds passed away this Wednesday. He was in a car accident that claimed his life and the life of his wife and two children. As such, Octavia is left as the sole recipient of his estate.”

“She had siblings?” Bellamy asked weakly.

“Yes. The Reynolds had twins, both four years old. No one in the family was aware of Octavia’s existence except for Mr. Reynolds. The will he completed with our firm two years ago included Octavia as the recipient of twenty percent of his wealth, with the remaining eighty split between his twins. Seeing as the twins have also perished, the will directs that remaining eighty percent to Octavia as well.”

Bellamy opened his mouth, then closed it, overwhelmed. “That’s insane. This- this is a joke, right? Who paid you?”

The woman sighed, pushing her sunglasses back into her hair. Her eyes looked kind, which somehow only made Bellamy feel worse. “Mr. Blake, I am afraid this is not a joke. I realize this will take some time to understand, but it is very important that we speak to your mother as soon as possible. There are steps that must be taken to ensure that Mr. Reynolds’ will is actualized.”

Bellamy nodded, tangling his fingers into his sleep knotted curls. “Right. Okay. Um.” He nodded again, looking down at his feet. “Okay. So- I’ll give you my mom’s cell number so you can. Find her, um. She works a lot, so she’s not home very much. Can you tell me anything else? Like- like what should we be getting ready for? What happens next?”

“I don’t think you need to worry about that,” the man said. “I’m sure your mother will take care-”

The woman cut him off. “Octavia is going to receive a monthly stipend from now until her eighteenth birthday. At that point, she will have access to her college fund, which will supply her with enough money to pay for school, boarding, and any other necessities she may have. After her graduation, she will receive her full inheritance, at which point it will become her responsibility to decide how the money will be used or saved.”

Bellamy nodded again. The fury was gone, leaving him feeling wrung out and raw. “What else?” he said, throat dry.

“The inheritance provides Octavia, as well as you and her mother, with semi-permanent housing until her high school graduation. Accommodations have been made for Octavia to begin classes at St. Mary’s beginning as soon as possible.” The woman touched his arm. “Mr. Blake, do you need to sit?”

“No.” He shook his head. “Where are we going to live?”

“There is a three bedroom apartment in Mr. Reynolds’ name being held in midtown. It is a block from St. Mary’s, which should be convenient.”

Bellamy nodded again. “When do we have to move?”

“You don’t have to move at all,” she said, gentle. “If your family would prefer, you may stay here. But in order to receive her inheritance, Octavia must attend St. Mary’s. Mr. Reynolds wanted to provide her with a more vigorous education, if things turned out this way.”

“She doesn’t have to change her name, does she?”

The woman frowned, caught off guard. “I’m sorry?”

“Her name. Her name is Octavia Blake. She doesn’t have to be a Reynolds now or some shit, right? Because he hasn’t been here, he hasn’t done shit for her. She’s thirteen and she’s never even seen him-”

“No, she doesn’t have to,” the man said. Then, hesitantly, “He did request that she change her name, but it isn’t a stipulation that will prevent her from receiving her inheritance.”

“Good.” Bellamy’s jaw clenched, then released. He leaned back into the door, closing his eyes. “Good. Okay.”

“We’ll be in contact soon, Mr. Blake.” The woman touched his arm again, and he didn’t have the strength to pull away. “We’ll find your mother and inform her of the situation. If we can’t find her, would you be able to bring Octavia to our office this Monday? Nothing can be finalized without your mother, but if you and Octavia are present, we will be able to get the process started.”

 

“Sure,” he agreed. The woman gave him her card and the two of them left, getting into the shiny Lexus waiting by the curb.

Bellamy stayed on the stoop, leaning heavily on the door for a long time, holding onto the business card for dear life.

---

Eventually he did go inside. He turned off the TV and sat Octavia down. He explained everything as best he could, trying to trim away the pieces that would hurt to much. Octavia burst into tears at the mention of her father’s name, and didn’t stop crying until long after the story was over. Bellamy cried with her the whole time, and held her when it was over.

---

Aurora didn’t show up the next day. Neither did Murphy.

---

On Monday afternoon, Bellamy was waiting for Octavia after school. He had skipped his last class to get there on time. She met him at the gates, taking his hand in a tight grip, obviously nervous.

“I told Murphy everything,” Octavia said, after they got onto their bus uptown.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” Octavia hesitated, still holding Bellamy’s hand between both of hers. “He said he was sad my dad died, because he knows that sucks. But he didn’t talk to me a lot today.” She glanced up at him, her eyes wet. “I think he’s mad.”

“No, O.” Bellamy squeezed her hands. “He’s not mad. You know how confusing it was for me and you?” He wiped errant tears from her cheek with a gentle thumb. “Think how confusing it is for him. You’re his best friend and we might be moving away.”

Octavia nodded and smushed her face against his shoulder. She didn’t look up again for the rest of the ride.

---

Aurora was in the waiting room of the office when they arrived. She stood when they entered, dressed nicer than usual, makeup on her face. It made anger roar in Bellamy’s chest.

For once Octavia didn’t run into her mother’s arms, keeping her hand locked in Bellamy’s.

“There you are! Hello, baby, I’m sorry.” Aurora wrapped Octavia in a tight hug. “I’m sorry. Are you okay?” She didn’t release the hug, and Octavia didn’t return it, hand still in Bellamy’s. Bellamy rubbed the back of Octavia’s hand with a soothing thumb as fat tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Hi,” Octavia said finally. “I’m okay.”

“No you’re not, of course you’re not.” Aurora leaned back, brushing her thumb across Octavia’s cheeks as Bellamy had on the bus not fifteen minutes ago. Bellamy wanted to pull Octavia away, to hide her behind him.

“We should go in,” Bellamy interjected brusquely. “We’re already late.”

“Give us just a minute, Bellamy, I need to explain-”

“You had thirteen years.” Bellamy squeezed Octavia’s hand. “It can probably wait until after.”

Aurora looked at Bellamy, fury in her eyes. He didn’t back down, jaw clenched, mouth a stubborn line. Octavia stepped closer to him, jutting her jaw forward. Aurora looked between them, lower lip trembling for a moment before she nodded.

“Thanks,” Bellamy said dryly. He turned Octavia gently, leading her to the front desk, and then all three of them followed the secretary back into the office.

The office they entered may have been larger than their entire house. One wall was made of windows, looking out over Arkadia’s business district. Everything looked modern, almost aggressively neat and clean, even the stacks of books on the shelves behind the glass and metal desk. Behind the desk was the woman from Saturday. Three chairs had been set up in front of the desk, three glasses of water on coasters at the edge of the desk for each of them.

“Ms. Blake, Mr. Blake, good to see you again.” She stood and walked around the desk to meet them. She offered a hand to Octavia. “Young Ms. Blake, it is a pleasure to meet you. I’m Mrs. Green. May I call you Octavia?”

Octavia nodded, shaking her hand. Bellamy could feel her trembling against his side and pulled her closer.

“Please, take a seat. I took the liberty of getting you each some water, but if you would prefer coffee or tea, that wouldn’t be a problem at all.”

“Some coffee would be-” Aurora began, but Bellamy cut her off.

“We’re fine, thanks.” He didn’t look at his mother, feeling her eyes burn into him.

“Very well.” Mrs. Green nodded and moved back to her seat. The Blakes took the seats in front of her, Octavia positioned between her mother and brother.

“Octavia, can I assume correctly that Bellamy has told you what I told him this Saturday?”

Octavia nodded.

“Very good. Can you tell me what you understood from what you were told?”

Octavia looked at Bellamy and he nodded. “You can talk to her. She just wants to make sure you understand what’s happening. She doesn’t want any of us to be confused.”

Octavia nodded again, and looked back at Mrs. Green. “Okay, um. So my dad was this Mr. Reynolds guy?” Mrs. Green nodded, encouraging. “And he died. His whole family died too. So, his kids - um. I guess my brother and sister? They died too, so all the stuff he was going to give them, I get instead. But to get that stuff, I have to do stuff that he wanted me to.”

“Correct,” Mrs. Green confirmed.

“So, I have to go to St. Mary’s instead of my school, or I can’t have my money for college. And if we want to, we can move so that St. Mary’s isn’t so far away.”

“That is absolutely right. Anything else?”

“Um.” Octavia frowned. “Bellamy said I get to decide if I want to be Octavia Blake or Octavia Reynolds.”

Mrs. Green nodded. Bellamy tensed in his seat. He had left this decision up to her, doing his best not to persuade her either way. Mr. Reynolds had been her father, so it was her choice if she wanted to keep his name to have a part of him.

“I didn’t know him, and I never will, and that’s kind of his fault,” Octavia said after a moment. “So I want to be Octavia Blake. I’m a Blake. That’s okay, right?”

Mrs. Green smiled softly. “Absolutely. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, Octavia.”

“But I do have to go to St. Mary’s?” Octavia frowned at her. This had been the part of the discussion that had been the hardest. Octavia didn’t want to leave her old school. Mostly, she didn’t want to leave Murphy.

Mrs. Green nodded again. “Yes, you do. St. Mary’s is the best school in the city, and Mr. Reynolds was very adamant that he wanted you to receive a good education to prepare you for college.”

“Yeah, but he didn’t really give a shit about that before he was dead, did he?” Octavia said, bitterness coloring her words.

“Octavia!” Aurora gasped, reaching over to touch her arm. Octavia yanked it away. “That is not polite, you have to mind your manners-”

“Lay off, mom,” Bellamy interrupted again. “She’s right, anyway.”

“You’re not her mother, Bellamy, I’ll decide-”

“Yeah, okay, mom. Sure.” Bellamy glowered at her. “It’s like riding a bike, just get right back on.”

“It’s fine,” Mrs. Green interrupted, before things could escalate further. “I understand the confusion, Octavia.” A pause. “And the anger. I know it can’t have been easy for you, to discover who your father was only to find out that he has passed away. And now he is making demands of you from the grave when he hasn’t even earned the right to call you his daughter.”

Octavia nodded tightly, her brows furrowed. “Just doesn’t seem fair,” she said, voice escaping as a squeak.

“It doesn’t,” Mrs. Green agreed, sitting forward. “But regardless of how you feel about Mr. Reynolds, I want you to take this as an opportunity. I took the liberty of looking at your school records, Octavia. You and your brother are excellent students.”

Bellamy looked at her, surprised that his records had been considered as well. Mrs. Green didn’t react, speaking directly to Octavia.

“And now you have the opportunity to excel in a new environment. You will get to go to a school where your peers are just as dedicated to their classes as you. Your teachers will have the time to help you outside of class, and will be able to help you explore a side of academia that you wouldn’t have access to without the assistance of Mr. Reynolds.” Mrs. Green paused, making sure that Octavia was looking directly at her. “You should take this opportunity, Octavia. You should take this opportunity and show him how wrong he was to ever write you off.”

Tears formed in Octavia’s eyes, threatening to spill over. She nodded, jaw set. “I’ll prove him wrong. I’m gonna be so good,” she hissed, teeth pressed together. “And he missed it.”

“He missed it,” Mrs. Green confirmed, nodding her head sharply. “And you’re going to use every opportunity his death afforded you to show him how amazing you can be.”

Octavia nodded again, tears spilling over her determined face. “I could have done it without him too,” she said.

“You could have. But now you get to use him to reach your potential, and you know what?”

“What?” Octavia whispered.

“You never have to say thank you. Because he doesn’t deserve it.”

Octavia nodded again, nodding hard enough that her hair fell across her face, a small whimper escaping her throat. Bellamy reached over, squeezing her hand hard. He looked up at Mrs. Green, mouthing a thank you. Mrs. Green gave him a small smile and stood. “I’m going to grab some paperwork from our copy room. I’ll be right back.” She exited, giving the family a moment.

Bellamy slid out of his chair to kneel in front of Octavia. He tucked her hair behind her ear, murmuring quiet encouragements as she gathered her composure. Aurora watched them silently, tears seeping down her cheeks. She brushed them away quickly and picked up her water, looking out the window.

Bellamy coaxed Octavia into taking a few sips of her water once she had calmed down. He smiled at her. “You good?”

“I’m good.” Octavia smiled a little. “What do we do now, Bell?”

 

Bellamy’s smile broadened, squeezing her shoulder firmly. “Whatever the hell we want.”

---

Mrs. Green returned and they spent the next hour being coached through the paperwork, Aurora signing where requested. It was agreed that Octavia would begin classes at St. Mary’s the following week, and if they saw the new apartment and were interested in living there, they would move in the weekend prior.

After the paperwork was finished, Mrs. Green offered to show them the apartment. They agreed. She drove them from her office to a high-rise apartment complex. Mrs. Green led them inside past a doorman who greeted her by name.

“I live here too,” she admitted. “With my husband and my son, Monty. He’s about your age, Octavia.” Octavia perked up at that and Bellamy smiled. Maybe a new friend.

They rode the elevator up to the seventh floor, and Mrs. Greene unlocked the door to the new apartment, letting them enter ahead of her.

It was beautiful. It was bigger than their house, the front door opening to a wide foyer. If you took a left, you would enter a large kitchen, with marble counter and island, and a fridge that would have taken up the majority of their former kitchen. If you went straight, you entered a living room with a high ceiling and a wall of windows looking down on Arkadia’s city center. The living room was furnished with a huge grey sectional, a glass coffee table, and a squishy single chair. A television was mounted on the wall between two built in bookshelves. A door off the living room led to a half bathroom the size of their normal bathroom at the house, and another door led to the master bedroom with a huge bed, closet, and a personal bathroom. There were exposed, floating stairs in the living room that led to the second level, where two more bedrooms were connected by a Jack and Jill bathroom.

“These would be your bedrooms, Bellamy, Octavia,” Mrs. Green explained. “You can choose whichever one you prefer and will be able to use a part of your monthly stipend to decorate and make yourself feel more at home.”

“Bell, you would have a bed,” Octavia whispered. “And a TV. There’s a TV in every room.”

 

Bellamy smiled, ruffling her hair, laughing a little as she rushed to straighten it. “The futon is fine with me,” he said gently. “Moving here is up to you. I’m happy wherever you are.”

“That’s ridiculous, Bellamy,” Aurora interrupted. “Look at this place. It’s beautiful. It’s three times what we have at home, and ten times better. There’s no debate on this, we’re taking it.”

“It’s not yours,” Bellamy said harshly, voice rising for a split second. Mrs. Green was watching. He swallowed, taking a deep breath before continuing. “This is Octavia’s decision. It’s her inheritance, and this is all about what she’s comfortable with.” He looked down at Octavia, smoothing a piece of her hair. “It’s whatever you want. A new school is a lot of change. If you want to stay at home, we can do that. Mom and I don’t care.”

“But, Octavia, you’ve got to see how much better this is.” Aurora stepped closer, resting her hands on Octavia’s shoulders. “It’s beautiful. And like you said, Bell would have his own room, right? We all would. And did you see that kitchen?” She smiled at Octavia, coaxing. “I could finally teach you how to cook.”

“You gonna be home to do that?” Bellamy asked harshly. Aurora looked at him, her face a mirror of his own anger.

“I probably won’t have to work as hard now. This is good for all of us.”

“The money is Octavia’s,” Bellamy corrected. “We’re not touching it, unless it’s for her.”

“When do you think you became the boss of me?” Aurora’s hands bit into Octavia’s shoulders and Octavia backed away quickly.

“Probably sometime after Octavia was born and before Nana died,” Bellamy snarked. “But I’m not sure. When did you stop coming home?”

“Hush,” Aurora hissed, glancing at Mrs. Green. She was watching them, face impassive.

“Don’t worry, you’re right.” Bellamy put an arm around Octavia. “I’m sure you’ll be home more now that you don’t have to work so, so hard. Right?” He didn’t break eye contact with her, challenging.

Aurora’s expression was dark, a storm brewing in her pale eyes. “Of course,” she agreed.

“Of course.” Bellamy looked over at Mrs. Green, smiling tensely. “When do you need us to make a decision?”

“Whenever you’re comfortable. But it would be best if you had an answer by this weekend, as we discussed.”

“Cool. We can do that, right, O?”

Octavia nodded. “I think we should move here,” she said slowly. “I think it’s better. It’s warm, it’s really clean… it’s really nice and really close to my new school.” She looked up at Bellamy. “I think it’s what we should do.”

Bellamy smiled softly. “I think that’s a good decision, O. Really good.”

Octavia nodded firmly. “Whatever the hell we want.”

“Exactly.”

---

Murphy didn’t come over again until Friday. According to Octavia, he had been acting “weird” at school, whereas the rest of her classmates had been excited for her, eager to hear stories about her new school and where she was moving. She and Bellamy had agreed that it would be easier to claim that a relative had passed away and left them enough money to move uptown, rather than give any specifics. Murphy was the only one who knew the full story.

He came over after school, quieter than usual. He listened to Octavia ramble on about how nervous she was about her new school and how excited she was about her new house without contributing much other than occasionally snarking about how rich she was now. Octavia took it in stride, and eventually they settled in to watch television.

All of the Blakes personal belongings were already packed. It consisted of seven boxes, three for Octavia and two for Bellamy and Aurora respectively. They were leaving behind their old furniture, only taking their clothing and any knick-knacks they were particularly attached to. It wasn’t much. Bellamy found it strangely comforting, like taking a shower after a week of missed opportunities.

The sun set at seven thirty and Bellamy announced that it was time to get Murphy home. They had an early morning ahead of them. Mrs. Green was coming to pick up the two of them and their boxes at eight thirty. Aurora was going to meet them at the new apartment and they would settle in that day.

They walked Murphy to the bus stop and he declined their offer to ride home with him.

“I can make it on my own. It’s still early.” He had his arms crossed, more closed off than Bellamy had seen him in months.

Octavia threw her arms around him in a tight hug. “I can’t see you this weekend,” she said. “But Bellamy is still working at the diner and he’s working next Saturday, so I’m going to come with him and hang out. Can you meet me there? Bellamy said he’ll get us snacks all day and we can hang out together. It’ll be so fun, and I can tell you all about my new school. Okay?”

Murphy nodded, breaking down and hugging her back. “Okay,” he agreed.

“Promise?” Octavia leaned back, holding out her pinky finger for him. He locked his with hers, smiling tightly.

“Promise,” he agreed.

---

They moved in the next morning. Aurora was there when they arrived and Mrs. Green let them inside, giving each of them a newly cut key to their apartment. They spent the day settling in as planned and made dinner that night. Mrs. Green had stocked their kitchen, providing them with more fresh produce than they had ever had access to before. They woke up on Sunday and did it all over again.

It felt like a new beginning.

Aurora was home every night that first week. She was like a child playing house, acting out the part of a devoted mother. Bellamy couldn’t stand it, could barely look at her, much less speak to her. Octavia participated in the charade, but Bellamy knew that even she didn’t believe it.

To Bellamy, Aurora was like a comet. Just a temporary object passing through their lives before it was time for her to sweep over the horizon again.

---

The following Saturday, Octavia went to work with Bellamy as promised. Murphy never showed up. Octavia spent the day sitting at the counter reading a book for her new English class. Every time the bell on the door jingled, she looked up, expecting Murphy to enter.

On the way home, Octavia said, “He probably thought I meant next weekend. So I’ll come next weekend too, if that’s okay?”

“Yeah, O. Of course.”

---

He didn’t show up the next weekend either. This time, Octavia didn’t excuse it. She didn’t say anything, in fact. As soon as they got on the bus, she put in earbuds and stared out the window at the passing street, heartbreak written all over her face.

Bellamy got her home and inside, before getting right back on the bus. He rode it all the way back to the southside, and straight to Murphy’s door.

The buzzer board outside of his building was old, half of the names worn away from their place beside the buttons. But “Alex Murphy” was still written beside the button for apartment 212, in tight, neat block letters.

Bellamy rang the buzzer. A woman answered, her voice slurring and unsteady.

“What?” she said.

“I’m looking for Murphy,” he snapped.

“I’m Jeanine Murphy. What do you want?”

“I’m looking for your kid.”

“Shit,” she said. There was static, then, “What did he do this time?”

“Nothing. Just want to talk to him.”

“Fine.” The line cut, and when it came back, Murphy was on the other end.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Bellamy. Come downstairs.”

The line was empty, then staticky, and Murphy eventually said, “Fine. I’m coming.”

Bellamy stepped away from the door, sticking his hands into his pockets while he waited. A few minutes later, the door swung open and Murphy stepped out, looking tired and grumpy, but in one piece.

“So you’re not dead.”

Murphy rolled his eyes, crossing his arms over his chest. “No, I’m fine. What do you want?”

“Just wondering where you fucked off too. You promised Octavia you would meet her at the diner.”

Murphy huffed a laugh. “So?”

“So? Are you kidding me?” Bellamy stepped towards him. “She’s your best friend.”

 

Murphy scoffed, not backing down. “I might be her best friend, but she’s not mine.”

Bellamy’s eyebrow shot up, disbelieving. “What the fuck is the matter with you?”

“What’s the matter with you?” Murphy spit, flinging his arms out. “I don’t give a shit about her, okay? You guys moved. You don’t matter anymore.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means-” Murphy stepped up to him, looking for a fight. “-that you can’t do anything for me anymore. I don’t fucking need you, or your bitch sister.”

“Watch your mouth, Murphy,” Bellamy snapped. “She misses you. She waited for you all day today, and last week.”

 

“So?” Murphy snarled. “Who cares?”

“I was right about you.” Bellamy glowered down at him, fists clenched at his side. “I never should have let you come around. You’re just a little punk, you don’t give a shit about her. You never gave a shit about her, you had us all fooled, didn’t you-”

Murphy cut him off with a swift punch to his jaw. It didn’t hurt, Murphy lacking the leverage he needed to hurt someone so much bigger than him. But it was loud and sudden and shocking enough that Bellamy stumbled back at a step, eyes going wide.

“Leave me alone,” Murphy growled. “I don’t need you. I never needed either of you, so just get the fuck out of here. And tell her to stop waiting on me, I’m done.”

“Yeah, buddy. You’re fucking done.” Bellamy stepped past him, banging shoulders with him hard enough to send him stumbling. “Fuck you.” He headed back towards the bus stop, ignoring the vitriol Murphy threw at his back.

That kid didn’t matter anymore. He never had.

---

Bellamy didn’t tell Octavia about it. Octavia didn’t come to work with him again. He quit two weeks later, getting a job closer to their new apartment and his new school. Neither of them said Murphy’s name again.

It’s just another thing they silently agree to never talk about.

---

Octavia thrived at her new school. For the first time, her classes were challenging. She didn’t have to be reminded to study, settling in at their kitchen table every day with her books and the new laptop that the school had provided for her. She got new friends too. Monty, Mrs. Green’s son, started coming over to study every afternoon with his best friend Jasper.

They were good kids. Bellamy liked them more than- well. He liked them. Monty was sweet and funny, showing up one day with a small basil plant from his mother’s balcony garden for Octavia to keep for herself. Jasper was a whirlwind of energy. He spent every afternoon trying to convince Octavia that video games would be way better than studying. He usually lost the argument.

Octavia started going to their houses too, spending more time away from home. She made other friends, like Clarke, who was Dr. Griffin’s daughter. Dr. Griffin had been Octavia’s pediatrician since she was born, and had always mentioned to Bellamy that their girls should spend time together. With Clarke as her classmate, it became easier, and suddenly Octavia had a thriving social life and rarely had a day where she didn’t come home excited.

Things got better for Bellamy, too. With Octavia entertained by her new friends (and looked after by various, trust-worthy parents), he found himself with time to spare. His new school, while still a public institution, was a huge step up from ArkSouth. The classes were harder, but he didn’t feel guilty studying anymore. He finally felt like he could take the time for himself.

There was a girl, too. He met Echo on his first day of class. She sat behind him in history, and spent the majority of the class bouncing her foot on the basket underneath his desk. They walked home together after school, Bellamy at a loss for how to talk to a girl with so much confidence and personality. And with such pretty hair.

Aurora stopped playing house after the first week. It was back to how it had been before. She wasn’t home most nights, but it didn’t matter so much now. When she was home, she would try to speak to them, but neither one would take the bait. They were busy, and the taste of her deceit was still bitter in their mouths.

“She doesn’t really care about us, does she?” Octavia asked one night. Bellamy had made them dinner, large chicken breasts with homemade mashed potatoes and crispy asparagus he had learned to cook from a book lent to him by Mrs. Greene.

Bellamy paused with his fork buried in his potatoes, looking across the table at his sister. “She cares about us,” he said finally.

“She doesn’t show it,” Octavia mumbled, stuffing potatoes into her mouth.

“She doesn’t know how,” Bellamy said quietly. “She wasn’t ready for us. She never had the time to learn how to love us right.”

“Does that make it okay?” Octavia looked at him, eyes sad and years older than they had any right to be.

It twisted something in Bellamy’s chest. “Not really,” he admitted.

They finished dinner in silence.

---

He got a text from Aurora one afternoon in late May. It was a Saturday. He was off work for the day and Octavia had spent the night with Clarke. That afternoon, they were going to the arcade with Monty and Jasper. Dr. Griffin was taking them.

At the old house, the message said. Come meet me.

Bellamy didn’t want to go. He had the day to himself. Echo was coming over that afternoon to study for their upcoming calculus final. It was the last test Bellamy had to take before graduation.

Bellamy had high hopes studying would, at some point, turn into fucking. It usually did.

But Aurora never texted him. She never asked him to meet up with her. She usually just swept into the apartment, swept whatever plans Bellamy and Octavia had made away in an attempt to monopolize their time. And it was weird, he thought, that she would be at their old house. Since they didn’t own it anymore.

So he went.

---

When he arrived at 101 Oak Street, Aurora was sitting on the front steps. There was still a for sale sign stuck in the front lawn. It looked like the agency selling it was trying to fix it up and make it more appealing to potential buyers. They had already repainted it and replaced the shingles on the roof.

Bellamy joined her, taking a cigarette from her pack without asking. He lit it, and they smoked together in silence for some time.

“Your dad,” she said finally, clearing her throat, “Was Carter Torres.”

Bellamy looked at her, frown settling on his face. “Why are you-”

“Just be quiet. Let me talk.” She looked at him, eyes determined.

Aurora looked bad, Bellamy realized. Worse than she had before their move. She was thin, face nearly haggard. It looked like she hadn’t slept in days, and her breath smelled like whiskey, fragrant from his place beside her. He hadn’t seen her this close in weeks. Maybe months.

“Okay,” he agreed.

“I met him in high school,” she continued. “He was older than me. A senior,” she said, like it was scandalous to imagine. “I was just a sophomore, and he liked me. Me.” She laughed and took a drag from her cigarette. “Oh, God, I loved him.”

Aurora put out her cigarette against the steps, putting the butt next to a line of other dead smokes. She lit another, and continued.

“We were together three months when I realized…” She whistled, making a pregnant gesture over her belly. “You. And I was…” She laughed, eyes crinkling. There were tears there, just waiting to fall. “I was so excited. He was too, and it was. So fucking stupid.” She laughed again, dragging her hand through scraggly, long hair. She needed a haircut, he thought. Maybe he should take her to get a haircut.

“Nana and Gramp weren’t happy about it,” she continued, “but I didn’t care. I knew that I was in love, and that Carter was going to be there. It took a long time, but I convinced them to let Carter move in with us, here.” She gestured back at the house. “He did a lot for us. He helped Gramp fix up the house a little bit. He put in that kitchen floor, did I ever tell you that? The old linoleum was disgusting and one day, he just ripped it all up and put down a new floor.” She hummed, closing her eyes like she could picture it, even now. “He won them over. It was incredible.”

“I dropped out when I had you. I didn’t have to, Nana said that she would take care of you during the day and at that point, Carter was finished with school. He was working, but he could have helped with you. But I wanted to do it, I wanted to take care of you.” She looked at him, and it was the most warmth he had ever seen her direct at him. “My little boy. You had all of this dark hair, just like his, and these big eyes. Fuck, you were so beautiful. We loved you so much.” She cleared her throat and took a long drag.

“He was working at a gas station. That one right down the road, you know?” Bellamy nodded. “Yeah, you used to go there all the time when we lived here.” She laughed, tears escaping now. “You didn’t even know. I never told you.” She pressed a fist against one of her eyes, fighting back the wave of emotion. “Fuck. He was working there, and one night these guys came in. It was all on the camera, I could have watched it, but I never wanted to.” She let out a shaky breath. “They held the place up. They had guns, and they were robbing the place blind. Your dad, he didn’t. He didn’t take any risks, he just did what they asked. It was before that place had emergency buttons, so he couldn’t call anyone, there was no one coming for help.”

“Mom,” he said, not sure if he wanted to comfort her or beg her to stop. He had wanted to know about his father for so long, but now it felt wrong.

“There was no one coming. So he gave them all the money in the till and all the petty cash and. They were leaving. But he put his hands down too fast, dropped them to his sides like they weighed a hundred pounds each. I think he was just relieved that they were gone.” She pursed her lips, a fresh wave of tears fighting to escape. “One of the guys was real jumpy. He saw it and I guess he thought- I don’t know, that Carter had a gun back there? But he shot him, just.” She made a gun with her hand and held it to her temple. “Bang!” she yelled through gritted teeth, splitting the air. It made Bellamy jump.

“Mom, you can stop- I get it, I understand-”

“He died,” she moaned, tears flooding down her face. “The cops say it was instant, like that matters. I didn’t know until the next morning. The cops came to the door and told me that he was dead and…” She let out a slow breath and pulled a flask from inside of her purse. She took a long pull and recapped it, dropping it into her bag. “We had the funeral and that was that. He didn’t have any family, just me and you and Nana and Gramp. We were there with some of his friends, and his boss from the shop.” She laughed wetly, wiping the last of the tears from her face. “You look just like him, you know,” she said. “That’s why I can’t fucking stand to look at you.”

Bellamy dipped his head down, like hiding his face now would help somehow. Aurora didn’t say anything else, lighting another cigarette. She sucked it down fast, getting control of her nerves again.

“I’m sorry,” Bellamy said after a while. “I didn’t know it was like that. I thought he left.”

“Well, he did, didn’t he?” She stubbed her cigarette out, already burnt to the filter. “Come on.” She stood up, grabbing her purse.

“Where are we going?” Bellamy stood, legs like jelly. It was a lot.

But now he knew his dad’s name. It was something.

“Inside,” she said, as if it was the most obvious answer.

“Mom, we can’t just go in. It’s not ours anymore-”

“This has always been my house,” she said simply. She used a key to unlock the door. For all the changes they had made, they hadn’t gotten around to replacing the locks.

Bellamy followed her inside.

The house was empty now, all the old furniture they had left behind already removed. The carpets had been cleaned and everything had a dull, clean shine. Aurora turned on the light, spinning in circles in the middle of the living room.

“I was born in here. Did you know that?”

“No,” Bellamy said. “I didn’t.”

“My mom waited too long, she couldn’t make it to the hospital. Gramp delivered me.” She smiled at him, sunny in a way he hadn’t seen in so long. It felt wrong. Something was wrong. “Right on the couch.” She turned away, peeking into the other rooms. Bellamy stood, rooted in the spot as she moved through the house.

“It makes sense, right?” she asked, peeking into the kitchen. She dug a hand into her purse, searching for her flask, Bellamy assumed.

“What does?”

“That I die here too.” She turned around. There was a gun in her hand.

Bellamy’s heart dropped to his stomach, the room spinning. “Mom, what are you doing-”

“I think it makes sense.” She looked down at the gun, turning it over in her hands. Bellamy was glued to the floor, didn’t think he could lift his feet even if he tried. “I mean, I wasn’t supposed to leave, you know? This is where I’m supposed to be. I can’t just leave, Bellamy, this is the place for me.”

“Mom, stop. Stop, I think you should put the gun down-”

“When do you think you became the boss of me, Bellamy?” she asked. And she turned the gun on him, holding it in a shaking hand.

Bellamy’s vision went black and he was afraid he was going to pass out, hands rising at his sides. “Mom-” he gasped.

“Listen to me,” she said, voice rising. “Let me talk, Bellamy, it is my turn.”

“Mom, you can’t do this,” Bellamy begged, voice hoarse.

A shot rang out, deafening in the small space. A hole was scorched into the carpet just in front of his feet. He stared at her, couldn’t feel the tears on his face. “Mom,” he said again, and he sounded like a child even to his own ears.

“Goddamnit, Bellamy, you just don’t listen!” She let out a high laugh. “And now we’re going to run out of time because the cops are going to come after that. You ruin everything, you know that? Everything.” She stepped towards him, teeth locked in a snarl. “Everything!”

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, dizzy with fear. “I’m sorry. Talk, I’ll listen. I’ll listen, mom.”

“Good.” Her face changed rapidly, back to the sunny smile from before. “Was that so hard?”

 

She turned away from him to pace another circle in the carpet. Bellamy should run, he realized. Should get out of there before she could fire again, at him or at herself.

He couldn’t fucking move.

Bellamy could hear the sirens start in the distance, just barely over the rushing static in his ears. Maybe they would make it. Maybe they could fix it.

“It was hard after your dad died, Bell,” she said, like she could just continue where they left off, like there wasn’t a fucking gun in the room, like there wasn’t a hole smoldering in the floor. “I had to get a job then, and what did I know how to do?” She laughed. “I dropped out of school, no GED, no nothing. All I know how to do is sew. I got that fucking job at the cleaner’s when I was seventeen years old. I’ve worked there for half of my fucking life.” She shook her head, looking down at the gun again casually, not like a weapon, but like a bouquet. “Did you know they fired me? A month ago.” She looked at him in disbelief. “Me! I’ve worked there fifteen years!”

 

“That sucks,” he managed to say, tongue like a weight, blocking his throat, strangling him.

“Yeah, it sucks! Thank you!” She gestured carelessly with the gun. Bellamy flinched and she missed it, doing another lazy lap of the living room. “I didn’t show up a couple of days, but who cares? It was the first time. Ever. But no, fifteen years doesn’t mean shit if you blow off work a few times.”

“What were you doing?” he asked.

“Working. My other job.” She shrugged, looking back at him.

Bellamy’s heart dropped. “Mom,” he said, soft. “You don’t have to do that anymore-”

“What am I supposed to do, Bellamy? Stop?” She laughed, shaking her head. “Join the PTA? Work at some retail store until I’m sixty-five and ugly? You and Octavia are grown, you don’t need me anymore. This is my life.”

“We do. You can change.” He didn’t realize he was begging until the words came out.

He heard the sirens outside. They were here, they could stop it. He just needed to keep her talking for a few more seconds.

Aurora laughed, stopping in front of him. “Oh, Bellamy. No I can’t.”

The cops slammed through the door the exact moment that Aurora raised the gun to her temple and pulled the trigger.

---

Bellamy didn’t remember what came next. Not really. He remembered screaming, falling to his knees. He didn’t know how he stopped or if he did, his throat in shreds.

The cops dragged him from the house, he knew that. He remembered sitting on the back of the ambulance, wrapped in one of those shock blankets you only see on television. The paramedic asked him something, shined a light into his eyes to check his responses. He doesn’t remember. He knew that the sun was up and that it felt wrong. It was wrong that he had to see all of this in the daylight.

He remembered seeing Murphy though. Across the street, standing on the sidewalk by himself, a look of horror painted on his face. Bellamy didn’t know how long he stayed, or what he saw. He just remembered that he was there, and that it helped him. Just a little.

---

He had to talk to the police. He remembered more about that. They sat him down at a desk, gave him cocoa, and gently had him lead them through what happened. He showed them the text, told them what she had done in loose detail.

They asked if she seemed out of character. He didn’t know how to say that he wasn’t sure what her character was in the first place. He just said, “yes.”

They didn’t keep him long. The first responders had seen what happened, it was just Bellamy’s job to fill in the blanks.

Mrs. Green picked him up from the station. Bellamy doesn’t remember giving them her number, but he must have. She arrived before his interview was finished, and was waiting as soon as he stepped out. She didn’t try to make him talk, just escorted him from the station with a gentle hand on his back. She loaded him in her car, and buckled his seatbelt for him when his hands seemed unwilling to work.

The first time she spoke, they were already parked in the garage attached to their building.

“What do you want to do, Bellamy?” she asked gently.

“I don’t know,” he said, honest. “What happens now? I don’t know what…” He trailed off, twisting his hands in his lap.

“Let’s get you inside first.” She got out of the car and went around to get his door for him. She walked him upstairs, got him into his apartment. Octavia wasn't there, still with Clarke and her other friends. She ushered him upstairs to his room, and then pressed a towel into his hands. “Take a shower,” she ordered.

He did. He’s not sure if he washed his hair or not, or if he did anything other than stand underneath the water. But when he got out, he felt clearer. A little bit.

Mrs. Green left pajamas out on the bed for him. He put them on and went downstairs to find her again. She was waiting with tea for both of them, sitting on the couch.

Bellamy sat beside her, taking the tea when offered. She let him drink, staying with him as a silent comfort. When the cup was drained, she took it back, setting it on the coffee table. “Okay,” she said. “What do you want to do, Bellamy?”

He didn’t say a word, head still swirling. “Am I going to be able to keep Octavia?” he asked finally. “I turn eighteen in July. I could get custody then, right?”

“Don’t worry about that yet,” she said calmly. “That’s a future concern. I talked to the police and have gotten permission to be your temporary guardian until we sort something else out. For now, you’re safe. So is Octavia.”

Bellamy nodded, closing his eyes. “Can I ask you a question?” he said finally.

“Of course.”

“Is it my fault?” He looked up at her, exhaustion pulling his face down. “You’ve seen it. The way Octavia and I have been with her since you told us about Reynolds. We haven’t been-” He choked and cleared his throat, willing away tears by force. “We haven’t been kind to her. She said she didn’t feel- like we needed her anymore, so...”

Mrs. Green took his hand gently. “It’s not your fault, Bellamy,” she said, quiet. “You and Octavia aren’t to blame for what happened today, or for anything else with her. I’ve had time to watch your family and…” She trailed off, squeezing his hand. “Your mother was a broken woman, Bellamy. It seems to me that she has always relied on you to help with Octavia and at some point… at some point I think she gave up trying to make a place for herself.”

Bellamy nodded a little, rubbing his free hand against his face. “It was. It was hard, to talk to her.”

“I know,” Mrs. Green gentled. “I know it was.”

“I tried. You didn’t see it, but I tried for a long time.” He lost the fight against his tears. “We just. We always tried to be with her, but. She was busy and it, at some point, it stopped seeming like she wanted…”

“I know,” she repeated. “I know. And that’s not your responsibility, Bellamy. You are the child. You have never deserved all the responsibility that was thrust upon you.”

“My sister, my responsibility,” he mumbled under his breath, instinctive. It stung more now. “Okay,” he added.

“Okay,” she said.

He was quiet again, building up the courage to speak. “She told me about my dad. And how he died. I didn’t know anything about him, and she told me everything before…” he trailed off.

“I’m so sorry, Bellamy,” Mrs. Green said, earnest. “This has been a very difficult day for you. I am so, so sorry.”

Bellamy nodded, and again they sat in silence. Mrs. Green kept her hands wrapped around his, offering what little support she could.

“I think I need to bring Octavia home. I need to tell her.”

Mrs. Green nodded. “I’ve already told Abby. She brought the kids home. Octavia is having dinner with Monty and Mr. Green.”

Bellamy nodded, straightening his back. “Is it time now?”

“Only if you’re ready for it to be.”

Bellamy choked on a laugh, beaming at her through the tears. “How am I ever supposed to be ready?”

---

Octavia cried for hours after Bellamy broke the news. He laid on the couch with her, letting her weep into his chest until she wore herself out. He carried her upstairs after and tucked her into bed with gentle hands.

When he woke up, she was in bed with him, curled tightly against his side.

---

They didn’t have to do anything for the funeral. Mrs. Green handled it all, skimming from Octavia’s monthly allowance with Bellamy’s approval to make the arrangements.

They were surrounded by friends at the service. Octavia’s whole class came, along with their parents. Mr. Pike came from ArkSouth, and Mr. Kane, Bellamy’s history teacher from his new school, came too. Echo came, giving Bellamy a kind hug with her condolences. She didn’t make Bellamy say that he couldn’t do… whatever it was they were doing anymore. She left after the service, giving him space.

Mrs. Green and Dr. Griffin arranged the dinner afterwards. Mrs. Green hosted, the dinner party limited to Octavia’s young friends, their parents, and Bellamy’s teachers. Jasper led the charge in distracting Octavia, Monty and Clarke rallying around them to boost her morale. It gave Bellamy time to sit with the adults, drinking coffee that he couldn’t taste while they all commented on the service and asked Bellamy what he was doing next.

“You have graduation this weekend,” Kane offered, sitting in the seat across from him. “You’ve been excused from this week’s classes, of course, but I thought maybe you would want to walk.” He held up a calming hand. “Not that you have to. But I think a small celebration could add some… levity.”

Bellamy smiled tiredly. “I don’t think so.”

“Oh, Bellamy, it’s going to be nice,” Abby interjected, reaching over to touch his hand. Bellamy had known her longer than anyone else at the table. She had seen him grow, seen the transformation in his relationship with his mother and Octavia. “You’ve worked so hard to get here. You deserve to walk.”

“I wouldn’t have anyone there to watch me,” he said simply, looking down into his mug.

“Well, that’s ridiculous,” Pike boomed, leaning back in his seat. “I would be there. You know how many times I thought I would have to expel you, Blake? I want a front row seat to witness the miracle.”

Bellamy snorted, flashing a grin at him. “You never would have expelled me.”

“No,” Pike agreed, face softening. “I don’t think I would have.”

“I’ll be there,” Kane added. “I mean, I’m contractually obligated to be there as a teacher, but I would also be honored to see you recieve your diploma.”

“I’ll be there too,” Abby said.

“And I’ll bring Octavia,” Mrs. Green added.

Bellamy looked around him, at all these adults who had rallied behind him during… all of this. He dropped his eyes, willing himself not to cry again.

“Okay,” he agreed.

Kane clapped his hand once, smiling widely. “Okay!”

The conversation continued, moving on to things that felt more normal. Their friends, their kids - Bellamy even added his own stories about Octavia, like the time she had gotten chicken pox when she was four, how Bellamy had bathed her and rubbed her down with ointment even though he was eaten up with pox too. Abby confirmed the story, laughing and joking even though a part of Bellamy realized it… wasn’t so normal, all these stories that he had about his sister, like she was his child instead.

She was his child.

Something in his chest clicked into place, a small seed of pride planted there, ready to grow.

After a while, Octavia came to the table to join them. She sat in Bellamy’s lap, something she hadn’t done in years, and pressed her face into his neck. She fell asleep like that, arms locked around his shoulders. Nobody mentioned it, just continued with their conversation as usual. Bellamy held her, staying right where he was and wondering if maybe this was somewhere they could fit. Even just for now.

---

It took several months for Bellamy to win permanent custody of Octavia. In part, that was because Mrs. Green, his now-lawyer, continued to put roadblocks up in of the process, giving them enough time for Bellamy to turn eighteen.

The money from Reynolds helped. It provided a stable income for Octavia, and the income itself became a factor in her custody. At such a hefty sum, the allowance would provide an incentive for abuse within the foster system. It was an angle that Mrs. Green pushed hard. It came down to Bellamy’s personal stability. At eighteen, he stood at a precipice. If he chose to take over the care of Octavia in a permanent, legal capacity, he would be stuck in Arkadia. He couldn’t leave for his education, regardless of scholarships that he had won to various schools across the state. There was a college in Arkadia that he could choose to attend, but the court felt that living as a full time student would inhibit his ability to care for Octavia, and would provide no additional income to supplement the household, effectively making him financially dependent on his younger sister.

So instead, he applied for his law enforcement exam. Within a month, he had entered the Arkadian Police Academy, training for a position as a patrol officer with the Arkadian City Police.

Effectively it was the same as before, but now there was a black hole where Aurora had once been. They closed the door to her room and left it untouched. They didn't talk about her. It just took time, settling into life with just the two of them. It was different, being Octavia’s guardian. But it was a partnership, they decided. Like it always had been. And it worked.

The Blakes now lived in apartment 722 in the Second Dawn Tower. So far as Bellamy knew, they were there to stay.

Chapter Text

Bellamy and Octavia had a big problem.

Well, technically speaking, Bellamy was the one with a problem. Octavia was providing the problem, and was very adamant that what Bellamy considered a problem wasn’t actually a big deal at all.

Pardon the fuck out of Bellamy if he was wrong for believing that Octavia shouldn’t have been dating a man five years her senior. So what, she’s nineteen now, but dating a twenty-four year old was sort of unacceptable. Bellamy was twenty-four. She was dating someone his age, and he just didn’t like that shit at all.

Admittedly, Bellamy hadn’t liked anyone Octavia had dated. But Lincoln was by far the worst.

Octavia started dating when she was fourteen. Bellamy almost didn’t notice, since at the time his attention was completely consumed by his first year on the force. There was way more paperwork than he was prepared for, and coming home to Octavia and Jasper hanging out wasn’t that unusual anyway. Jasper was a good enough kid, kind of mouthy, but overall a really nerdy guy. Not someone Bellamy ever thought he would have to worry about.

It was kind of a shocker when he came home to them making out on his couch. Bellamy would define his response as an under reaction, but Octavia insists to this day that lifting Jasper off her by the back of his coat and literally throwing him into the hall was overkill.

Whatever.

Jasper didn’t last long anyway, which should have been a relief, but then there was Finn, and that was where the trouble really started.

She started dating Finn when she was fifteen. Finn was from the old neighborhood, and had reconnected with Octavia over Facebook. Fucking Facebook. They started talking there, and Finn invited her out within the week.

Finn showed up to pick her up on a Friday night, wearing a ripped up denim jacket and a smarmy smile that almost made Bellamy reconsider letting Octavia leave the house with him at all. But he caved and let it happen.

The following six months were a whirlwind of drama and teen angst, the likes of which Bellamy himself had been a little too busy to experience. He just got into fights. With her, there was screaming on the phone, staying out past curfew, and outrageous fights every time Bellamy tried to ask any questions about where she was going or when she would be back.

“I’m not a child, Bellamy!” she screamed. She had mascara running down her cheeks, her hair sticking to her damp neck. She was back past curfew, again, dressed in tight jeans and a black tank top Bellamy had graciously pretended you couldn’t see through when she left hours before.

“I’m not calling you a child, O, I’m just worried! You come home and you’re crying, what do you want me to think? I think something happened! I just want you to tell me-”

“Finn broke up with me! He broke up with me, okay, it’s over and my life is over!” She shoved him out of her way and ran up the stairs.

No one could say she didn’t have a flair for the dramatic.

It was rough after that, for a while. There was strife between Octavia and her friends soon after when Clarke started dating Finn, but the relationship fizzled out quickly. Clarke didn’t have any idea how to deal with a boy from the southside - and Bellamy personally didn’t think she needed to deal with his shit anyway. Finn breaking the heart of one of his girls was enough.

And yeah, it was weird. At some point, Octavia’s little gang of misfits became his kids - even Jasper (well after the Couch Incident.) But it was nice, to trust a group of kids to take care of Octavia. No way they would abandon her, no matter what.

The calm was ruined, of course, by Atom. Well, technically the kid’s fucking name is Adam Rhys, but he prefers Atom. Because Atom sounded more “badass,” or so Octavia told Bellamy.

The worst part about Atom was that, despite seeming pretty douchey at first pass, Bellamy liked the kid. He was polite and sweet to Octavia, and obviously a little bit afraid of Bellamy - just as he should be.

When it started getting serious, Bellamy should have ended it. Or at least convinced Octavia to distance herself, to slow down. But he didn’t, choosing to give her the space to make her own fuckups.

They had sex, which on its own would have been… fine. Not preferable from Bellamy’s perspective, but expected. After that, Atom changed. His passion for Octavia soured. He was at their apartment everyday, refused to go out with their friends. He stopped paying for things, insisting that Octavia pay instead with her “dead dad cash.”

Bellamy tried to point out the problems, but she ignored it. Clarke tried too. Monty tried - even Jasper, but Octavia ignored them all, hyper-focused on how much she loved him.

Atom’s biggest mistake was laying a hand on Octavia.

Bellamy was in his room at the time. He was reading, already showered and in pajamas. He would have been asleep already if he hadn’t been waiting for Octavia to come home. He’d gotten out of a night shift at the last minute, switching out for a patrol the following morning.

He heard them come inside, and put his book down. Flipped off his light.

They were being loud, but they were always loud. They didn’t talk so much as scream, and as crazy as it drove Bellamy, it was their relationship and he was doing his best to play a passive role. He was there if she wanted him, and vigilant when she didn't.

He was laying down, already tucked under his blanket, when he heard Octavia scream. And then it was dead silent.

Bellamy was down the stairs before he could think, black clouding his vision.

Octavia was sitting on the couch, crying silently, a hand over one half of her face. Atom was trying to get close to her, murmuring her name, calling her baby, apologizing profusely.

“No, Atom, no,” she said, pushing him back with the hand not plastered over her face. “You need to go, you need to-”

Bellamy didn’t stop moving, hitting the threshold and barreling straight into the teenager in his living room. He took him down immediately, slamming him onto the floor. Then he was on him, fist slamming into Atom’s face one, two, three times, before Octavia grabbed at his shoulder, screaming for him to stop.

“Did he hit you? Did you fucking hit her?” Bellamy bellowed. He had Atom by the front of his shirt, his body pinned to the floor between Bellamy’s legs. Blood was pouring from the kid’s nose and mouth, eyes dazed.

“Bellamy, stop,” Octavia wept. “Please, stop it. Stop it, just make him go.”

“Bell,” Atom rasped. “I didn’t mean to, it just-”

Bellamy stood, lifting Atom to his feet. He reached back, gently sweeping Octavia to the side with a controlled arm. He dragged Atom across their living room, slamming him into their front door. He lifted a finger, pressing it into the hinge of his jaw hard. “You,” he said, voice low, “Are going to leave, and you will never come back. You will not speak to her. You will not look at her. You will not think about her. And you will hope that I never fucking see you again. Are we clear?”

“Yeah,” Atom coughed, twisting his head away from Bellamy’s finger. “I swear- you know I could fucking report you-”

Bellamy slammed him into the door again. “You’re fucking lucky you’re alive, pal. Report me, I dare you.”

He let him go long enough to wrench open the door and throw him into the hall, before slamming it behind him again.

Finally, he took a breath and leaned forward against the door, rolling his forehead against the smooth, cool wood. He would compose himself, and then he would explain himself to Octavia, apologize for being so quick to violence-

Octavia wrapped herself around him, face pressed between his shoulder blades. “Thank you,” she whispered, tears wetting his shirt. Bellamy slumped forward, covering her hands with his.

So Atom wasn’t great.

But when Lincoln walked through the door, before Octavia could even make an introduction, Bellamy just said, “No.”

Octavia looked immediately furious, half-stepping in front of the mountain of man behind her. “Bellamy, you can’t just-”

“How are you, Officer Blake?” Lincoln greeted, in the same soft voice Bellamy recognized from the several times he’d brought him in for questioning.

“I’m not doing great as of right now, Lincoln,” Bellamy said, scowling. “I would be doing much better if you could tell me that you haven’t been dating my little sister.”

Octavia scowled, stepping forward. “First of all, you know I think it’s demeaning when you call me your little sister, so if you could stop that, it would be great.”

“Look at him!” Bellamy threw a hand in Lincoln’s direction. “That is a man, Octavia. That isn’t some new boy you met on campus, that is a fucking adult man.”

“Yeah, it’s awesome.” Octavia pulled a face. “Because he’s not dumb.”

“I beg to differ. No offense, Lincoln.”

“I get the instinct,” Lincoln said, seeming amused by the argument taking place in front of him.

“Don’t call him dumb!” Octavia looked very much like she wanted to stomp a foot, her cheeks flushing. “He’s not dumb!”

“Okay, maybe he’s not dumb, but he’s a criminal! You know how I know that? I’ve arrested him, O!” Bellamy stepped forward. At this point, they were basically yelling directly into each other’s faces. It wasn’t Bellamy’s proudest moment.

“You could never press any charges!”

Bellamy’s eyebrows shot up. “You knew I arrested him? Octavia!”

“If I could-” Lincoln began, but he was immediately cut off.

“You never had anything on him! And he didn’t do anything, anyway!” Octavia’s mouth took on that stubborn twist, the same one he’d seen painted across her face since she was in diapers. It was way less charming now.

“He’s in a fucking gang, Octavia.” Bellamy’s face mimicked hers, eyebrows drawn tight.

“He’s in a motorcycle club! It’s a different thing!”

“Functionally? No, it is totally not.”

“Should I go?” Lincoln asked.

“Yes,” Bellamy confirmed, at the same moment Octavia yelled, “No!”

“Okay.” Lincoln held up his hands, still calmly standing in the foyer. “Should we sit down and talk about this?”

“Totally,” Octavia said, just as Bellamy barked, “Absolutely not!”

Lincoln looked at Bellamy, then met Octavia’s eyes, his eyes twinkling with amusement. “Okay,” he said simply.

Bellamy groaned and turned away, putting a hand over his face. “Listen, to start, he is way too old for you.”

“Is not,” Octavia snipped, arms crossing. “He’s your age.”

“And what?” Bellamy spun back around to look at her. “You want me to date Clarke? Or Monty?”

Octavia’s nose wrinkled. “Well, that’s just gross. Don’t be gross, Bell.”

Bellamy made a disbelieving sound, hand finding his hip. “It’s not appropriate. He has way more life experience than you-”

“I’ve had my fair share of life,” Octavia cut in, dry.

Bellamy took a half-pause. “That’s- different. Anyway. It doesn’t matter, because, again, he’s in a fucking gang, O.”

“It actually is a club,” Lincoln said. “And it’s different now. We’re totally clean now.”

Bellamy pointed at him, eyes swinging back to Octavia. “Now! Clean now!”

Octavia rolled her eyes, hip cocking to the side. “It wasn’t ever really dirty. It was the other club, anyway-”

“Octavia!” Bellamy dropped his arm with a laugh. “Are you hearing yourself? He used to be in an active gang. There were firearms. There were drugs. And just because he now claims that he’s not tied up in that, it’s cool?”

“The cops could never actually tie Lincoln to that stuff.” Octavia looked over her shoulder at Lincoln, and Bellamy didn’t need to see her to know that she was smiling. Probably winking, too. “His club is all good now. They’re good people.”

“Octavia.” Bellamy put his hands over his face. “Please tell me you haven’t been hanging out with his gang.”

“Club,” Octavia and Lincoln interjected together. And then they smiled at each other again, and Bellamy honestly couldn’t believe what his life had become.

“That’s it. That’s it, you clearly can’t make this decision.” Bellamy walked to the couch and dropped into the corner. “You’re not going out with him again. Approval revoked.”

Octavia huffed, sitting on the opposite end of the couch. “You can’t actually stop me from dating him, Bell. I’m nineteen, I can make my own choices.”

Bellamy didn’t dignify that with an answer, kicking his feet up onto the coffee table. “Nope.”

Lincoln walked over, standing behind Octavia. “Bellamy-”

“Officer Blake,” Bellamy snapped.

There was a moment of silence, and Bellamy just knew they were looking at each other. Fuck them.

“Officer Blake,” Lincoln tried again. “I know that we have a complicated history, but you know that back then I wasn’t involved in the guns or the drugs. That was our old president, and she’s gone now. We did a clean sweep of the club, we got it all out. We haven’t been in trouble in almost two years.”

“Trikru is still under close observation,” Bellamy said gruffly. “You know that.”

“And we comply with any requests.”

Bellamy gave him a look, before returning his attention to the news that was muted on the screen. “You’re not getting my blessing.”

“I don’t need your blessing, Bell,” Octavia said. “That is so fucking antiquated and honestly, I can’t believe you even think that’s still a thing-”

“Look, O.” Bellamy looked over at her. “You wanted me to meet him. You wanted me to like him. I already know him, and I don’t. I don’t approve. I don’t think this is something you should be involved with, regardless of what his club is like now, okay?” He sat up fully, lacing his hands between his open knees. “I worry about you. You’re my sister, and I just want you safe. This?” He gestured between them. “Is not safe. And I am not changing my stance on that. I’m not even going to get into what a potentially unhealthy power dynamic is brewing right here.”

Octavia groaned, slumping back into the couch. “Don’t go there.”

“It’s got the same potential as you and Atom, and Atom was only a year older than you-”

“Lincoln is not like Atom,” Octavia hissed, sitting back up abruptly.

“Atom wasn’t like Atom when you first met him, was he?” Bellamy locked eyes with her. “I don’t want something like that to happen to you again. I’m not trying to spoil this for you, but I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Octavia’s lips pressed together firmly, eyes hard as flint.

Bellamy already knew he’d lost.

“What are you going to do if I keep going out with him?” she growled. Actually fucking growled.

“Nothing,” Bellamy said honestly. “You’re right, I can’t stop you.”

She sat up proudly. “No,” she confirmed. “You can’t.”

Lincoln put a hand on her shoulder. “I have nothing but good intentions, Officer Blake,” he said, and his sweet, ill fitting voice was like sandpaper in Bellamy’s ears. “I understand your concern, but I promise you I would rather die than hurt Octavia.”

“Cool. Then don’t date her.”

Lincoln frowned. “That I can’t promise.”

“Then your word means shit to me.” Bellamy sat back again, looking up at the TV. “Are you guys going out or not?”

Octavia stood, grabbing her jacket from the couch. “We’re going,” she snapped.

“Okay,” he said. “Don’t get shot.”

Octavia glowered, shrugging on her leather jacket, buckling the belt of it around her hips. “Get that stick out of your ass while I’m gone.” She grabbed Lincoln’s hand, dragging him out of the apartment after her.

---

“You remember Trikru?” Bellamy asked Lexa the next morning. They were patrolling together, as usual. They had been partners since Lexa joined the force two years prior.

Lexa glanced at him, the one driving today. “Yep,” she said simply. Her hair was pulled into a small knot at the base of her neck, her eyeliner artfully smudged around her pale green eyes. She was gorgeous, Bellamy had always thought so. She was also not even close to interested in men, and could probably kill him without breaking a sweat.

She was kind of his best friend.

“You remember that guy Lincoln? I think we brought him in the first month of your training.”

“Tall, bald, good looking?” she asked.

Bellamy glowered. “Don’t call him good looking.”

“Just stating the obvious.” The corner of her mouth quirked up, the only hint that she was amused.

“Whatever. You won’t believe it, but Octavia brought him home last night. That’s the guy she’s been seeing.”

Lexa whistled, glancing his direction again. “Good for her.”

Bellamy’s jaw dropped without his consent. “Are you kidding?”

“Kind of.” She huffed a laugh. “He was clean, Bell.”

“He’s also a fucking adult man.”

“You should be glad she’s not fucking around with those idiots at her college.” Lexa turned their cruiser down a side street, leaning forward to inspect something that caught her eye. “Doubt Lincoln would try to date rape her.”

 

“Yeah,” Bellamy hissed. “He might just lead her into a life of crime.”

Lexa gave him a look.

“...I recognize that I might be overreacting,” he said finally, looking out his window.

“You think?” Lexa shook her head. “Look, Bell. Octavia’s a good girl, you raised her right. You think she won’t be running to you at the first sign of trouble? She knows what’s right.”

“I’m not worried about her. I’m worried about him and his fucking gang.”

 

“They’re a club, actually,” Lexa mused, glancing down at their laptop.

Bellamy groaned. “Not you too.”

“Sorry, Bell. I just think this is a wait and see scenario. Let her do her thing.”

Bellamy glowered at the street. Why no one could see the problem here was beyond him.

---

On Saturday night, Bellamy went to City Lights. City Lights was a bar on the southside, a little gross and regularly avoided by most people from uptown. It was a common watering hole for the neighborhood alcoholics and minors looking for somewhere to skim a cheap drink or five. For the most part, the Arkadian City Police turned a blind eye. There were bigger problems on the block, and very little drama seemed to unfolded behind City Lights’ doors.

It was the also unofficial club house of Trikru.

Bellamy knew it was stupid going in. He felt dumb enough dressed down in his street clothes with a trucker hat pulled over his curls, like the world’s saddest undercover detective.

It felt even worse now, since Lincoln wasn’t even there. Bellamy knew that he and Octavia hadn’t had plans that night. He assumed that when Lincoln wasn’t with Octavia, he would spend his nightlife with the rest of his kru. Bellamy recognized several other members, including their new president, Indra.

She’s was holding court in the corner booth when Bellamy walked in, head tipped down to hide behind the brim of his hat. He took a seat at the bar, ordered a drink, and quietly kept watch using the dirty mirror running the length of the wall behind the bar.

Indra was there, along with Anya, her vice president. Bellamy couldn’t hear their exchange, but it appeared that the young woman was regalling the matriarch with some story or another, hands flapping animatedly over the table.

Bellamy watched them for hours, working his way through four beers and a shot sent to him by a young woman down the bar who he acknowledged, but didn’t speak to. He hoped to see Lincoln walk in, to catch him in some sort of act that would prove how unworthy he was of Octavia. Something like dumping an entire backpack of coke across the table or unloading firearms from his pockets in comical number. Maybe he would shout something about an upcoming drug deal that Bellamy would be able to bust and nail him for.

Fuck, Bellamy had gotten drunker than he wanted.

Around two am, with another beer in his belly and no sign of Lincoln, the women left. Bellamy took off his hat with a sigh, scrubbing his hand through his flattened curls. “Dumb,” he mumbled.

“I haven’t even said anything yet.”

Bellamy jerked his head up, looking to the left where the voice originated. A young man was standing beside him, side pressed against the sticky bar. Bellamy gave him a once over. He was slim, his jeans tight around his thighs, with a set of keys hanging from one belt loop. He had on a white t-shirt, the collar dipping low around his throat, with a black denim jacket on top the same shade as his jeans. His clavicle stood out sharply, the bar lights casting it into sharp relief. Bellamy swallowed against the thought of biting it, eyes bouncing back up to his face.

He was handsome, somehow, despite his large features. His mouth was wide, lips soft pink and full. His nose was prominent, wide and pointed, between two hooded blue eyes set almost too far apart. His hair was chestnut brown, swept back and brushing over his ears, obscuring them.

Bellamy only realized he’d been staring too long when that mouth twisted up into an amused smirk. He swallowed, looking up to meet his eyes. “Sorry,” he said, voice coming out more gravelly than he expected. He cleared his throat. “You’re not dumb.”

“Maybe I am.” He swung into the seat beside Bellamy, legs crossing smoothly. His foot bumped into Bellamy’s calf, and Bellamy felt like he was on fire. “You don’t know.”

“Uh- yeah, maybe.” Bellamy looked away, distracting himself by draining his beer.

“So you do think I’m dumb.”

“No!” Bellamy looked at him again quickly, irritated at the sight of a cocky grin spread across the man’s face. “You’re fucking with me.”

“Not yet,” he said. He leaned forward, knocking his knuckles against the bar. “Mbege! Beer!” he shouted. The bartender looked over, flipping off the stranger in the seat beside Bellamy. “Thanks! Make it two!”

“Is that second beer for me?” Bellamy asked, awkwardly out of his element.

“What do you think?” The boy pressed an elbow into the bar, fist curled under his chin.

“I was just leaving,” Bellamy tried.

“But now you’re staying.” He was grinning again, like telling Bellamy what to do was fun. Bellamy felt the bizarre urge to sweep his supporting arm out from under him. Or maybe kiss him. This was all very unexpected and confusing.

The bartender returned, setting a new beer in front of Bellamy and slamming one down in front of the boy next to him. “Let me guess, add them to your tab?”

“Add them to his.” The boy grinned, looking over at Bellamy. “I’m John, by the way.”

“John!” Mbege barked a out a laugh and walked away, not giving Bellamy a chance to refuse to pay for the beers he hadn’t ordered or wanted.

“Uh.” Bellamy looked at John, frowning slightly. “I’m Bellamy.”

“Cool.” He tipped his head to the side, making very direct eye contact. “What do you do, Bellamy?”

Bellamy felt like his skin was too tight. Maybe he had a fever. “I’m a cop,” he said, honest.

John lifted a brow, and looked around the bar inquisitively. “Oh yeah?”

“I’m not working,” Bellamy clarified. “Just. Hanging out.”

“Weird spot for someone like you.” John’s hand skated across Bellamy’s knee as he reached up to grab his beer, taking a long swallow.

“I thought some friends of mine were going to show up.” Bellamy shrugged a shoulder, breaking his eyes away from John. He was too drunk. It had been way too long since he’d flirted like this, been flirted with like this and this John guy seemed- he was probably young. Barely twenty-one, Bellamy would guess.

“They blew you off? Assholes.” John set his beer down, tipping his head to the side.

“They weren’t like. Set plans.” He looked at John, eyes roaming over his body again. This was not what he had planned for this evening but… fuck it. This was probably a smarter move than stalking his sister’s boyfriend anyway.

“Maybe you should find something else to do with the rest of your night.” John was still looking at him, eyes dragging purposefully down Bellamy’s body.

Bellamy shifted, adjusting his posture to angle himself towards John, thighs spread and calf pressed firmly into the foot that had been flirting across it. “Maybe I should. You got any idea what’s good around here?”

“Some.” He grinned, teeth glaringly white. “Drink your beer.”

Bellamy did as told.

They had another round, where Bellamy discovered that John was also worked at City Lights. He was off that night, but it was where he liked to hang out anyway. The guy behind the bar, Mbege, was John’s roommate. And, funny enough, was also named John. They had apparently been best friends since grade school and had moved in together after they graduated. Bellamy told John that he had a sister, that his mother had passed away when he was seventeen. He told him a couple of work stories, told him about Lexa.

Bellamy ordered the next round.

By the time their next beers were emptied, Bellamy felt weightless, his limbs loose and easy. At some point, John’s hand came to rest on Bellamy’s thigh, thumb running along his inseam in soothing, agonizing sweeps. Bellamy was staring, hadn’t looked away from John’s face in the last five minutes at least. And he was hard. He knew it, John knew it. He just didn’t want to make the first move.

He didn’t have to. When John drained his last bit of beer, he stood, hand dragging down Bellamy’s arm. “Come on,” he said.

Bellamy followed him through the bar, eyes roaming down his back. “Where are we going?”

“Bathroom.” John glanced back, flashing a wicked grin. “Can’t take you anywhere like that, can I?”

Bellamy knew he should argue, but by the time he remembered that sex in a public place was a no-no, John had him in a stall, locking the door behind him.

“You haven’t stopped looking at me like that,” John said, voice nearly a whisper. They were pressed close together in the stall, no way to make space. Bellamy noticed then that John wasn’t that small. They were nearly the same height, John barely two inches shorter than him. But where Bellamy was broad, John was slim. Bellamy wanted to get his hands on him, wanted to feel the jut of his hips, the hard plane of his ribs.

“Like what?” Bellamy looked up, meeting his eyes.

“Like you want me.” John slid a hand down his chest, eyes dipping to his mouth. For a moment, they just breathed, Bellamy’s hands ghosting down John’s sides.

“I do.”

“Then do something.”

He didn’t need to be told twice. His hands slid around John and into his back pockets, tugging him close, mouths meeting his in a furious smash. Their teeth clicked and John muffled a groan, hands digging hard into Bellamy’s hair. Bellamy bit at his lips, tongue sliding into his mouth with a hint of desperation. John tasted like beer, a hint of smoke clinging to his teeth from a cigarette he must have had hours before. John gave as good as he got, yanking Bellamy’s hair to get him at the angle he wanted.

The door rattled when Bellamy shoved John against it, locking him into the space with his body. His hands hunted down John’s body, finally getting the chance to feel the ridges of his ribs. His hands stopped, clenching tight around John’s narrow hips. John’s hands moved from his hair and down his chest, shoving between them to get at Bellamy’s belt. Bellamy backed up just enough to give him space, pressing bruising kisses down the column of his throat. He bit down on John’s collar bone, receiving a sharp gasp as his reward.

“Fuck,” John hissed. “Bellamy, shit. Let me go, let me-”

Bellamy released him immediately, afraid something had gone wrong. John used his belt loops to spin them, shoving Bellamy back against the door. He dropped to his knees hard, dragging down Bellamy’s jeans and boxers in one tug to release his cock.

“Shit, John- you don’t have to-” And John swallowed him down, mouth stretching over him in one swoop. He choked on it, too eager, and backed off. He spit in his palm instead, stroking Bellamy fast and tight, smearing his spit along him.

“Not doing you any favors,” John whispered. “I’ve wanted you in my mouth since I saw you.” And he took him in again, taking it easy this time, sinking lower on each pass, his hand still stroking what he couldn’t take. Bellamy dug a hand into his hair, other hand reaching up to grip the edge of the stall wall.

“I’m gonna come, you keep talking like that,” Bellamy rasped. The room was spinning around him. He wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol or the feeling of John's mouth stretched around him.

John hummed, hooded eyes looking up at him. He still looked cocky, like this had always been his plan and Bellamy was finally playing along. Bellamy thought, briefly, that if this was the result of him acting as John’s marionnette, he would happily let him pull the strings.

It was embarrassing how quick it was, less than a minute before he felt his skin light up like a live wire. “John, fuck, I’m sorry- I’m gonna-”

John just hummed again, sliding back to suck at the head of him, hand not letting up it’s stroke. His other hand found Bellamy’s thigh, nails digging into the tender skin through his jeans.

Bellamy’s head knocked back against the stall door when he came. It left him dizzy. John sucked him through it, swallowing without hesitation.

“Don’t do that,” Bellamy mumbled instinctively. “You don’t know, I might- I might make you sick.”

John popped off, nails digging into Bellamy’s thigh again to gather his attention. Bellamy looked down at him, one hand sliding back to cup his head.

John stuck his tongue out, Bellamy’s cum pooled in the middle. And then he swallowed again, clearing his mouth of the last of it.

Bellamy’s cock gave a weak twitch, an unintentional moan escaping this throat. “Come here,” he said. “Fucking, come here.”

John pushed himself up from the floor, crashing into Bellamy for another bruising kiss. Bellamy’s hands moved down, fumbling with the button fly of John's pants. John’s hands joined his, getting them undone enough to free him. John pulled out of the kiss, lifting one of Bellamy’s hands to his mouth and licking a wet strip across his palm before shoving his hand back down and leaning into another demanding kiss.

Bellamy wrapped his hand around him, stroking him fast and tight. It made John fumble in the kiss, mouth going dumb against Bellamy's. Bellamy kissed across his cheek to his ear, teeth tugging on his ear lobe. “You like it?” Bellamy asked, voice rough.

“It's okay,” John said back, voice breaking on a whimper.

He didn’t last much longer, coming in Bellamy’s hand without warning. His body jerked closer to Bellamy, hands once again tangled into Bellamy’s hair. John kissed him, sloppy and needy. The kiss smoothed out as John came down, going soft and pliant under Bellamy’s touch. Bellamy kept his dirtied hand away, the other one pressing firmly into John’s lower back to keep him close.

John was the one to finally break the kiss, leaning back with a soft pop. Even in the dim lighting Bellamy could see how bruised his lips looked, how flushed his cheeks were.

“What are you doing after this?” John asked, eyes skating hungrily across Bellamy’s face.

“Nothing,” Bellamy said, hand dipping beneath the tail of his shirt.

“Good.” John pressed a quick kiss against the corner of his mouth, and leaned in to press another kiss to his ear as he whispered, “I’m not done with you yet.”

They cleaned themselves up, adjusting their clothes to try and hide what they had done. It wasn’t that effective. They went back to the bar, where John ordered them a round of shots. Bellamy was pressed up against his back, hands circling his hips while they waited.

“Where are we going?” Bellamy murmured, nose brushing against his hair.

“My apartment.” John tipped his head, barring his neck shamelessly. “It’s right down the street.”

“Okay,” Bellamy agreed, nipping at his throat teasingly.

They took their shots. Bellamy settled his tab, and they left.

The walk to John’s was a blur. They shoved each other around on the sidewalk, alternating between pushing each other into any oncoming object and pulling each other closer, hands never not reaching for each other.

---

Bellamy woke up in an unfamiliar room with a headache pounding at the back of his skull. He was splayed on his stomach on a bed, or based on the way his knuckles dragged across the carpet, maybe just a mattress on a box spring.

The throbbing in his head was the only thing that stopped an immediate rush of panic.

He shifted up onto his elbows slowly, trying to get a look at the room. His stomach protested immediately, bile climbing up the back of his throat.

He dropped face first back into the mattress with a groan. He stayed still until the nausea passed, then slowly turned his head to the left.

From that angle, he could see most of the room. There wasn’t much to look at, the room taken up almost entirely by the bed. The rest of the space was messy, clothes scattered across the floor and dangling off the dresser in random piles. There was a poster on the wall for some movie he couldn't name, but he knew the woman printed on it was Olivia Wilde. He could recognize her despite the villainous moustache scribbled onto her face.

There were two doors. Bellamy could safely assume that they lead to a bathroom and the rest of the apartment respectively. There didn't seem to be a closet, judging by the broken clothing rack shoved between the dresser and wall.

Sunlight cut across the floor, reflecting off dust motes that floated through the air.

It took some time, but Bellamy managed to turn his head the opposite way. The bed, definitely only a boxspring and mattress, was pressed flush into the corner of the room. The only window was positioned over the long side of the bed. Judging by the sun, Bellamy guessed it was way past breakfast. At least he hadn't had a shift that day.

Laying beside him in the bed was John from the night before. Most of his face was obscured by an arm flopped across his eyes, but Bellamy recognized the cut of his jaw and the shapes that his had teeth had left on John’s throat.

At least he hadn't wound up in a different bed. At least he remembered meeting John the night before, and things didn't get fuzzy until the walk back to this apartment. That was good. At least Bellamy knew he had wanted to fuck him. No question about that. He just wasn't sure if he'd been successful.

“John,” he said, hoarse. “Hey.” He lifted a hand, gently shaking John’s shoulder. The movement was enough to send his stomach rolling again. “John.”

A guttural noise rose from John's throat and then the hand not protecting his face swung down to smack Bellamy's back. “Shut up,” he mumbled. “Don't feel good.”

“Me neither,” Bellamy said, feeling a little tick of affection in his chest. “We drank a lot-"

“If you don't stop talking,” John said, “I am going to vomit on you.” He twisted his head to the side to glower at him, annoyance obvious in his pale eyes.

So much for affection.

“Not if I vomit on you first,” Bellamy grumbled.

John snorted, rolling his face back under his arm. “Yeah right.”

“Where's your bathroom?” Bellamy asked. The nausea didn't let up this time, demanding a release.

John gestured vaguely to the door on the left wall, twisting to roll over on his side with his naked back to Bellamy. Bellamy hesitated, tempted to push down the urge to vomit and tuck up against John’s back instead.

But it was pretty clear that this was not a morning cuddle situation. Bellamy lurched out of the bed and into the bathroom. He sat in front of the toilet and began heaving immediately. He emptied his stomach, wretching until he felt empty. He stole a mouthful of John’s mouthwash when he was done, splashing water on his face while he gargled to wash away any stray specks of vomit around his mouth.

When he returned to the bedroom, he felt at least five times better. John was sitting up in bed, slumped back beside his window with his phone in hand, the blankets pooled around his waist.

Bellamy stopped, looking at him closely. In the morning light, his hair rumpled and a little greasy, he looked younger than Bellamy had guessed the night before. Not illegal young but… definitely not twenty-one. A small scowl twisted John’s mouth down as he scrolled through his phone, eyes flickering up to look at Bellamy.

“What?”

“What?” Bellamy repeated, leaning against the bathroom doorway.

“You’re staring,” he said, eyes back on his phone. “Like a weirdo.”

“How old are you?”

John snorted. “Isn’t that something you’re supposed to ask before you fuck someone?”

“Dude.”

John rolled his eyes and dropped his phone, looking back up at him. “Calm down, I’m nineteen. Totally legal, officer.”

Bellamy was relieved, and a little sick with himself that it was a question he had to ask in the first place. He crossed the room, dropping down on the edge of the bed. “I figured. I just- thought you were older last night.”

John smirked at him, head tipping back against the wall. “I was nineteen last night too.”

“I figured.” Bellamy huffed a laugh, scrubbing a hand through his hair. He needed a shower. “Things got a little fuzzy. After we left the bar,” he admitted.

“We were pretty fucked up.”

“Yeah.” Bellamy watched him for a moment, reaching out a hand to knock against John’s knee under the blankets. “Did we…?”

“Pretty sure we passed out as soon as we got here. That would explain why our pants are still on.”

Bellamy nodded, drawing his hand away. It felt like there was a wall between them that hadn’t been there before. John’s body language was completely different, closed off and angled away from Bellamy.

“You want me to get out of here?” Bellamy asked after a minute.

“If you want.” John shrugged, picking his phone back up. “Don’t care either way.”

Bellamy frowned at him, tipping his head a little to try and catch his eye. “Did I do something wrong?”

John groaned, hand dropping back to his lap. “Have you literally never had a one night stand?”

“Ouch.” Bellamy leaned back, frown deepening.

“Did I hurt your feelings?” John’s eyes widened, mockingly concerned. “Do you need me to kiss your ego better?”

“No, that’s fine.” Bellamy stood up, scoffing. “Don’t worry about it. I’m out.” He began the hunt for his clothes, flipping over stray laundry on John’s floor. John didn’t offer him any help, which really didn’t help Bellamy’s growing irritation.

He managed to find his pants and was putting them on when John spoke up again. “You really don’t know who I am, do you?” He sounded incredulous.

“What?” Bellamy looked up at him, buttoning his fly.

“I don’t look familiar to you at all.” Bellamy wasn’t sure how to read the expression on John’s face, exactly, but he was decidedly not happy.

“We just met last night,” Bellamy said slowly.

“Did we though?” John pushed. He leaned forward, elbows braced on his raised knees. “Nothing about this-” He waved a hand in front of his face. The look, Bellamy decided, was impending fury. “-rings any bells?”

Bellamy frowned, eyes roving the planes of John’s face again. “Should it?” he said.

John’s brows shot up, mouth opening in an off-color smile. “You’re shitting me. I know you, Bellamy Blake.”

Bellamy glowered and crossed his arms. “Are you going to make your point?”

“Oh, fuck you, Bellamy. I’m John Murphy. Murphy, you fucking remember me now?” He waved his hand rapidly in front of his face. “I know I’m a little taller, skinnier, and more pissed off, but surely this fucking mug is distinct enough for a little recognition.”

It was like being doused in ice water, a shiver climbing up his spine. As soon as Murphy said it, it was obvious. That face couldn’t belong to anyone else, and Bellamy was at a total loss as to how he’d missed it before. Murphy looked older, sure. The baby fat had melted away from his face, leaving it angular and sharp, but those eyes were undeniable. Much less that nose, which at least looked a little more handsome in his adult face.

“Fucking Christ,” Bellamy said, low.

“Long time, no fucking see.” Murphy scoffed and launched himself to his feet. He stumbled a little, grabbing the first pair of jeans he saw on the floor. “You’re still such an asshole.”

“Wait, wait- wait a fucking second.” Bellamy dropped his arms, watching Murphy move around him like a whirlwind, grabbing up clothes. He threw Bellamy’s shirt at his chest, pulling a black t-shirt over his own head in one fluid motion. Bellamy struggled into his own shirt, eyes tracking Murphy as he moved across the room. Murphy came to a halt at his dresser, searching the top for his keys and wallet.

“You knew who I was?”

“Not until I saw you up close.” Murphy shoved his wallet in his pocket, grabbing a belt to thread through the loops of his pants.

“Then why did you come onto me? You started that last night, Murphy, not me-”

“Well, Bellamy, I’m sure this comes as a shock to you, but you’re actually a handsome man.” Murphy looked at him with big eyes, voice slowing down like he was speaking to a child.

“You should have told me!” Bellamy glowered at him.

“Why?” Murphy scoffed, looking down to buckle his belt.

“I wouldn’t have fucked you if I knew who you were.”

“Let’s get something straight.” Murphy turned to him, shoving a hand back through his dirty hair. “You didn’t fuck me. I blew you in a bathroom and then you passed out at my house. And it didn’t mean anything, got it?”

“You think I want it to mean something?” Bellamy laughed, disbelieving. “Why would I want this to mean anything?”

“You seemed to like me plenty last night, Bell.” Murphy gave him a sarcastic smile and a fast pat on the cheek before turning away. “I’m leaving. So are you.”

“Can you slow down so we can talk about this?” Bellamy followed him out of his room. The living room was small, with an old brown couch and a TV on top of a stack of crates. Mbege was sprawled on the couch in his boxers, a bowl of cereal balanced on his chest. Murphy threw a salute his way as he crossed the room and Mbege returned it without looking away from the TV, cursing under his breath when he spilled a little milk on his chest.

“What’s there to talk about?” Murphy barrelled out the front door and onto a second floor cement balcony. He hung a left, heading for the stairs.

“How about you lying to me? You know you can’t just- deceive someone so they’ll fuck you, right?”

Murphy laughed, jogging down the stairs at the end of the walkway. “That’s not even the worst thing I’ve done this week. I don’t give a shit.”

“You lied to me.” Bellamy caught up with him, grabbing his wrist. “Stop. Look at me.”

Murphy snatched his arm away. “What?” he snarled, looking at him. Definitely fury on his face now, Bellamy noted.

“I wouldn’t have hooked up with you if I knew who you were,” Bellamy repeated, keeping his voice low. “That wasn’t right.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Murphy said emphatically.

“It does,” Bellamy said. He was trying to stay calm, trying not to let his anger get out of hand. He wanted to slam Murphy against the nearest wall, hit him, tell him how fucking violated he felt. “You’re too young-”

 

“Oh, fuck you-”

 

“Listen to me,” Bellamy commanded, taking a half step closer. Murphy compensated with a full step back. “You are too young for me. There’s bad blood here. It wasn’t right.”

“I don’t care,” Murphy hissed as someone walked past them, averting their eyes from the open spectacle they were making of themselves.

“Well I do,” Bellamy snapped.

It hung in the air around them. Neither of them moved.

Murphy breaks eye contact first, scoffing and tipping his head down. “What? You want an apology or something?”

“That would be nice.” Bellamy crossed his arms.

“You’re not getting one.” Murphy looked up through his lashes, chin down defensively. “Let’s call it even.”

Bellamy’s brows rose. “How does this make us even?”

Murphy flashed his teeth at Bellamy, more a snarl than a smile. “Consider it retribution for abandoning me. How’s that?” He turned away without waiting for a reaction, continuing down the street. “Tell Octavia I said hi and to rot in hell,” he called, before rounding the corner.

Bellamy doesn’t try to follow him.

Chapter Text

When Alex Murphy died, Jeanine stopped being a mother. Murphy wasn’t important anymore. It didn’t matter that he was only eight. It didn’t matter that he still needed her. Drinking outranked picking him up from school, making him dinner, speaking to him, hugging him. Looking at him.

It took awhile for Murphy to understand the concept. It would have taken an extraordinary child to understand why the death of a husband would lead to the neglect of a child. And while Murphy was many things, Jeanine made it clear that extraordinary was not on that list. Shithead, sure. Ugly, yes. Stupid, absolutely. Extraordinary? Not by a mile.

By ten, Murphy got the message loud and clear. In his home, he wasn’t welcome, he wasn’t wanted, and he wasn’t loved.

Being at home meant being ignored, or on bad days, being the target of all the grief and rage that lived inside his mother. Murphy figured out that the best way to avoid conflict was by being unobtrusive. Stay quiet, stay polite, stay out of sight, and things would be fine.

Unfortunately, these were not behaviors at which Murphy excelled, even as a child. He had always been obstinate and candid, with little impulse to bite his tongue. More often than not, his mouth got him in trouble. When he was younger, he would get home from school and fly into a story about his day, forgetting that the gorgon who lived there was not his mother anymore. As he got older, he wasn’t able to keep his commentary to himself, calling out the number of beer cans on the table or the lack of food in the fridge. In both cases, Jeanine’s response was to remind him of his place with a sharp tongue and heavy hand.

Eventually he learned that it was easier to avoid her when he could find somewhere to hide out. For a while, that place was the Blake’s but- yeah. Fuck them.

Fuck ‘em.

Murphy developed a simple formula for avoiding home. Step one, cause trouble at school. Not too much, because suspension meant one less place to escape. Instead, he stuck to minor altercations and casual mischief that kept him in detention more days than not. An extra hour away from home, easy. Bonus points if he could land himself there on the weekend, where he could stare numbly at worksheets instead of hiding in his room.

Step two, find someone to use. Octavia had been a good one, an inspiration, in fact. Next came Roma, who developed a crush on Murphy for reasons beyond his comprehension. She would let him come over every afternoon as long as he promised to make out with her on the couch until her dad came home from work.

She liked it, he didn’t. It got old quick.

He moved on to Dax, who only asked that Murphy throw in for weed sometimes. They spent the summer getting high on the roof of Dax’s building. Sometimes, Murphy didn’t have to go home for days. It was a great gig until something pissed Dax off and he kicked the shit out of Murphy for some irrelevant bullshit that Murphy hadn’t been responsible for. Leave it to a dumbass to ruin a good thing.

He met Mbege the first week of high school, in remedial English. Murphy entered his freshman year with no intention of finding a new target, the literal wounds from the fallout with Dax still too fresh. He was switching tactics. The new plan was to keep his head down and avoid interacting with anyone at all. He didn’t need a haven anymore anyway, not when he was old enough to drift on the streets without someone wondering if he was a lost child. But Mbege started it.

It was the first day of class. They had been seated alphabetically, the teacher wisely leaving no room for friends to clump together. Murphy was sitting behind Mbege, staring at the space between his shoulders while the teacher droned on at the front of the classroom. With ten minutes left of the period, the teacher began passing out worksheets and the classroom broke into conversation.

“John, huh?” Mbege twisted in his chair to look at him, one arm casually draped across the front of Murphy’s desk. He had a mild expression on his face, dark eyes giving away none of his intent.

“Yeah,” he said, sitting back in his seat to create a little distance. “Go by Murphy.”

“Good. Would have been confusing.” Mbege turned back around in his seat.

Murphy’s brows rose. “Why the fuck would that be confusing?”

“My name’s John too. And it’s not like we can both be John M.” He glanced back at Murphy, big mouth quirked into a lazy half-smile.

Murphy smirked back at him without thinking. “What should I call you then?”

“Mbege.” He turned back to face Murphy again, sticking out a hand. Honest to God asking Murphy to shake his hand, the big nerd.

Murphy clapped his hand into Mbege’s, shaking it formally. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Mbege.”

The other boy snorted, throwing Murphy’s hand to the side. “Just Mbege.”

“I thought you said your name was John,” Murphy gasped mellow-dramatically, hand flying to his throat to grasp at imaginary pearls.

“Fuck off,” Mbege said, that loose smile crossing his face again.

It was really hard not to like Mbege, Murphy realized, and Murphy’s specialty was not liking anyone at all. As soon as he figured out that Mbege actually wasn’t an idiot, and was actually pretty fun to be around, Murphy did his best to avoid him. Roma and Dax had been good targets because he hadn’t actually cared about them at all. Roma was boring and Dax had been a convenient asshole. Mbege was different, and it put Murphy on edge. He didn’t want to make space for someone else in his world, not someone who could actually mean something.

But Mbege was just kind of always there. He showed up at Murphy’s table at lunch, found him in the parking lot during their free period, and usually wound up sitting with him in detention every afternoon.

“You got a crush on me or something?” Murphy groused. They had been released from detention at five, and Mbege had fallen into step with Murphy when they left without a word.

“You got tits under that sweatshirt?” Mbege asked blandly.

“You got a dick in those pants?”

“Yeah. Bigger than yours.”

 

Murphy scoffed loudly. “You think you’re a big boy?” he asked, before launching into a very detailed, exaggerated description of his cock.

After that, Mbege never really left. No matter how ugly or mean Murphy got, Mbege would stand stoically by and be there in the aftermath.

Mbege was the first person Murphy told about his mother. Octavia and Bellamy had known, Murphy guessed, but it was something they never asked about, just like Murphy had never asked what the deal was with their mom. But Murphy told Mbege everything. They were in the park one night, passing a spliff between them, when Murphy started talking and couldn’t stop. Told Mbege about how his dad had died in a car accident while rushing Murphy to the hospital, how Jeanine blamed him for it. How Jeanine had started drinking at the wake and never really stopped. How she hit him, sometimes, leaving him with bruises and scrapes. How he covered it up by getting into fights at school, using the battle wounds as camouflage.

Afterwards, Murphy expected him to disappear. But Mbege just shared his own stories, about how his dad hit his mom sometimes and how he felt like a coward for just standing by and letting it happen.

Murphy didn’t doubt him again.

---

It went like this.

Murphy was fifteen. He still avoided his apartment most days, preferring to sleep on the couch in Mbege’s bedroom. But he still had to go home sometimes, to pick up clean clothes and shower.

Friday was one of those days. He braced himself for impact as he unlocked the deadbolt, pushing the door open slowly. It was his first time back in three days. He would get in, shower, shove some clothes in a bag, and leave. He wouldn’t have to come home again for a while, maybe not until the next weekend.

Usually, when he returned his mother would demand to know where he had been and why he was back. This time she said nothing, but he knew she was home. The television in the living room was on and muted, blue flickering light contrasting with the faint orange light of the late afternoon sun where it filtered through the closed blinds.

Murphy closed the door behind him quietly, walking into the apartment. It smelled, he noticed. Smelled bad, like liquor and rancid meat. There were stacks of unwashed dishes in the sink and three trash bags wilting by the door. He passed through the kitchen and into the living room, peeking around the corner. He could see his mother laying on the couch, curled on her side with one hand hanging over the couch's edge. Her hooked fingers looked like claws. A vodka bottle laid on the floor just out of her grasp, the last inch of liquid pooled at one side. There wasn’t enough left to spill onto the carpet.

Murphy stepped slowly from linoleum to carpet, thinking maybe he’d been lucky enough to catch her sleeping. He walked across the room slowly, skirting the wall to get to his room where he collected new clothes and then snuck into the bathroom.

After he showered and dressed, he left his room again with his backpack over his shoulder. The charger to his cellphone was coiled in his hand.

Jeanine was still laying on the couch, her body in the same position as it had been thirty minutes before when Murphy arrived. That was weird. Jeanine was a restless sleeper.

Murphy approached slowly, crouching down to pick up the vodka bottle and set it upright.

The smell was overwhelming here. He had cleaned up enough vomit over the years to recognize the scent of bile, mixed with the rancid smell he had noticed as he walked in the door. It smelled like shit, too. She needed a shower. It had probably been a while. It wasn’t uncommon for her to go on a bender and forget that selfcare was a thing.

He let go of the bottle, not noticing when it tipped back over. “Mom?” he said, quiet.

She didn’t move. Her stringy hair was hanging across her face, obscuring it from his view in the half light.

“Mom,” he repeated, louder this time. Still nothing. “Mom.” He reached up slowly to touch her shoulder. He didn’t know when he had touched her last. Maybe the last time she hit him.

She didn’t move.

“Mom, wake up.” He shook her lightly, ready to jump away.

Nothing.

“Mom, wake up,” he said again, shaking her harder this time. Her small body rocked with the motion. She didn’t react.

“Fuck.” He stood, reaching up to pull the string of the overhead light.

Light filled the room, and Murphy looked down at her again.

Vomit was pooled under her cheek on the couch cushion. Smeared across her mouth. Her skin was pale, almost blue. She looked like she was made of wax.

Her pale eyes stared across the living room. Her pupils were pin pricks, unresponsive to the flood of light.

“No,” Murphy said. He felt numb, the feeling trickling from his chest down his limbs. He fell back to his knees, hands lifting. They hovered in the air over her. He didn’t want to touch her again. He wanted to go, wanted to pretend that he could leave and this wouldn’t be real.

His hands laid on her body again without his permission, giving her another gentle shake. This time, he could tell how cold she was, even through her clothes. Her face didn’t change, her eyes still fixed at an indeterminate point across the room.

“Mom,” he croaked. And still there was nothing.

He sank down to the floor, hands falling to the ground like weights. The only sound in the apartment was the mechanical whirl of the ceiling fan above them. Murphy couldn’t hear it over the rushing static between his ears.

He didn’t move for what felt like hours, the image of his mother’s corpse searing itself into his mind with every second that crawled by.

In reality, it couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes before he convinced his traitorous body to move again. He dialled 911 and lifted the phone to his ear. Even though he knew he was making the call, it still surprised him when a voice answered on the other end of the line.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

He swallowed thickly. He couldn’t feel his body, wouldn’t have known that he still had the phone to his ear if the woman on the other line hadn’t spoken again, repeating her opening line with an exasperated sigh.

“I think my mother is dead,” he said finally, monotone, each word cutting into some deep part of him that he couldn’t name and couldn’t feel.

There was a pause, a rustling, before the woman spoke again. “What’s your location?”

The police and paramedics arrived within five minutes, pouring into the apartment without a knock. Murphy was in the same place he had been when he made the call, but his hand had fallen to his lap. The screen of his phone was still bright, the 911 call running without his knowledge. The woman on the other end was trying to talk to him, but he couldn’t hear her. He couldn’t look away from Jeanine’s face, didn’t, until someone interrupted his line of sight. Some man whose face was a blur in his memory, who said something that Murphy couldn’t hear.

“I think my mother is dead,” he repeated.

---

They gave him cocoa at the police station. They asked him questions that he couldn’t remember. They told him that she had likely been dead for over twenty-four hours. At the end, they asked him who he wanted to call.

He thought about Bellamy, about how he had looked outside of the house on Oak Street when the paramedics had wheeled his mother out onto the street and into the ambulance. He wondered if he looked as shattered as Bellamy had seemed. He thought Bellamy might understand, but Bellamy was gone now, as dead to Murphy as Jeanine.

“I don’t know,” he said.

---

He only had to go home once more, this time to pack up all of his belongings into trash bags before the cleaners came in to remove everything else. He did it as fast he could, avoiding looking at the couch where he had discovered Jeanine’s body.

He was placed in a boy’s home temporarily before they found him a foster placement. His foster mother was nice enough, but she didn’t care about Murphy. He was another check for her to collect, sure, but she had a house full of brats to attend to. The rest of them needed her attention. Murphy didn’t. They came to a silent understanding that most days, Murphy wouldn’t be there. He was home on the third of each month when DCFS came to check on his living conditions, but otherwise came and went as he pleased.

At first, Mbege tried to talk to him about it. Murphy changed the subject. He avoided the topic entirely in the months following her death. Eventually, he even convinced himself not think about it at all. Things continued as they had before.

He and Mbege managed to graduate on time and blew off their ceremony to get high in the park. They moved into an apartment together that summer and got jobs at City Lights even though they were too young to tend bar.

Life moved on.

---

After kicking Bellamy out, Murphy spent the day wandering around the neighborhood. He stopped at a diner to gorge himself on hashbrowns and coffee that he hurled up in the bathroom two minutes after he paid his bill. He bought a pack of cigarettes at the bodega down the street and found a fire escape to sit on for a few hours, smoking his way through the entire pack until he felt sick at his stomach and the tastes of vomit and Bellamy were out of his mouth.

He went back to the apartment late in the afternoon. Mbege was gone, his cereal bowl abandoned on the coffee table. Murphy stripped off his clothes and showered. He napped afterwards, only waking up when his phone alarm warned him that it was time for him to be responsible and get to work.

When he walked into City Lights, Mbege was already behind the bar. He was wiping down the counter with a bleach rag, preparing for the doors to open in the next half hour.

“He returns,” Mbege said.

“Fuck off,” Murphy said. He joined him behind the bar and clocked in, before setting to work on his opening tasks. He and Mbege worked around each other smoothly, preparing everything they would need in the hours to come. Saturday was City Lights’ busiest night. Another server would be there soon to help Murphy, and Jaha, the owner and the house manager, was there to tend to the door for the first couple of hours.

Five minutes before the doors were set to open, Mbege said, “Do you want to talk about it?”

“What?” Murphy stuck a dry rag into his back pocket, tying on a black waist apron. He stuck his order book into the pocket, pen hooked through the metal loops that held the pages together.

“That guy.”

Murphy scoffed, rubbing a finger under his nose. “Why the fuck would I want to talk about that?”

Mbege shrugged, expression mild as always. “Seemed pretty heated.”

“You know how it is. Love the crazy ones.”

Mbege snorted. The house manager unlocked the front door and cut on the music, noise abruptly filling the dark room.

“I’m just saying,” Mbege continued, “If you want to talk about it-”

“I don’t.” Murphy crossed the bar as their first customers entered.

“Bad fuck?” Mbege asked.

Murphy clutched his chest, mocking offense. “Mbege, you know I would never kiss and tell.”

“Since when?”

“Since go fuck yourself.” Murphy plastered on his customer service smile, flipping him off, before turning to greet their patrons.

---

It was busy enough that Murphy didn’t really have time to think about Bellamy. He couldn’t focus on the warring guilt and anger that had invaded his chest since that morning when he had to focus on doing his fucking job.

An hour after open, Trikru arrived. They were a familiar bunch, having chosen City Lights as their unofficial clubhouse years before Murphy and Mbege had started working there. Indra was there most nights, always with Anya, and often joined by Lincoln and other members of their club like Gustus, Nyko, and Niylah. Murphy privately enjoyed getting to serve them. He liked Indra, liked that she ran this group of rough men and women like a queen. Girl power, and all that.

And they all tipped really well. Like buy an extra eighth a month kinda good.

So when Indra walked in, Murphy jumped at the opportunity to pick up their table before the other server, Bree, could beat him to it. There were a lot of them tonight, a whole flock moving in to invade the corner booth, enough members in attendance to overflow to a second table.

“What’s up, guys?” Murphy greeted when he made it to the table, throwing a nasty smirk at Bree when he saw her stop in her tracks halfway across the room. She huffed visibly, turning to tend to an elderly couple who looked like they had wandered into bar on accident.

“Murphy,” Indra greeted, voice carrying over the noise of the rest of her people. They were all chatting, jovial and loud like one big, happy family.

Murphy grinned at her, throwing out a salute. “Can I get you a beer, boss?”

“Heineken,” she agreed. “This round is on me,” she announced to the rest of her flock. “Give the boy your orders.”

A cheer rang across the table as they settled in, turning their attention to Murphy. He pulled out his notebook, marking down Indra’s order first. He went to Anya next, deferring to her rank, before moving down the table to gather the rest of the orders.

He was nearly finished when he looked up and saw Octavia for the first time in six years. She was sitting beside Lincoln, one of the man’s large arms draped across her shoulders. She was gorgeous now, the acknowledgement like a knife twisting in his gut. She’d been pretty when they were little, sure, but now? She was a knockout. Those cheekbones alone could break hearts. Her gangly body had filled out, complimented well by the tight black dress she wore. He must have missed her amongst the rest of the kru.

Octavia hadn’t seen him yet. She was looking across the table at Niylah, listening to whatever the other woman was saying. One of Octavia’s hands was stroking the back of Lincoln’s head, intimate and effortless. She only stopped to laugh, a broad smile splitting her face.

Murphy wanted to rip her eyes out.

“What do you want?” he said, gruff, the words directed at Lincoln.

Lincoln turned his attention to Murphy, giving him a warm smile. “Hey. Just a water for me.”

“You’re not drinking?” Octavia asked, curious.

“Someone’s got to get you home,” he said quietly, pressing a kiss to her temple. Murphy wouldn’t have heard him if his entire focus hadn’t narrowed down to Octavia.

“Fine, lame,” Octavia teased. She looked at Murphy, smiling at him broadly. “I’ll take a vodka tonic.”

“Need some ID,” he said snidely.

It drew the attention of the whole table, everyone pausing their conversations to look his way. City Lights never carded. It was kind of part of their thing. Murphy knew for a fact that at least three other people at the table were underage, and he’d taken their orders without a word.

“What?” Octavia’s smile faltered a little, and she glanced at Lincoln imploringly.

Lincoln looked at Murphy like a stranger. “Are you serious, Murph?”

Octavia looked at him again and he saw the moment that it clicked for her, recognition sparking in her pretty, stupid eyes. “Murphy?” she asked, sitting up a little. “John Murphy?”

“I need ID,” he repeated through gritted teeth.

She laughed a little, her fair cheeks pinkening. “Murphy,” she said, and she sounded the way she had when they were children, like she could just talk to him like she hadn’t fucking abandoned him. “You know I can’t-”

“What can I get for you?” he asked sharply, moving on to Gustus on her other side.

The big man rose a brow at Murphy, one hand settling on the table. “I think you need to take her order first.”

Murphy glowered at him, hand clenching around his pen hard enough that he could feel the cheap plastic straining, and then cracking in his grip. “Not serving her,” he said. “What do you want?”

“You got a problem, kid?” Gustus shifted, rising from his seat.

“You fucking bet I do,” Murphy growled. He could feel his blood pulsing under his skin, a headache beginning at the base of his skull. He could taste blood.

“You want me to help you fix it?” Gustus’ hand curled on the table.

Murphy refused to look at Octavia, even though he could feel her eyes on him like a physical touch. “You betcha,” he said, voice lilting up sarcastically.

“Gustus,” Indra said, tone brokering no argument. “Have a seat.”

Gustus kept his gaze on Murphy and slowly lowered himself back into his seat. Murphy didn’t look away from him, nostrils flared.

“Murphy,” Indra said, demanding his attention this time.

Murphy looked at over at her after a moment. She was staring at him. Everyone at the table was, most of them looking fairly insulted that an outsider was rejecting one of their demands. Indra certainly looked the most calm, her gaze steady and unrelenting.

It took everything in Murphy not to cow under her look.

“I would like you to take my friend’s orders,” she said finally. Murphy clenched his jaw, forcing himself to bite back a reply. “Octavia will take a vodka tonic. Gustus will have a Guiness.” Her eyes didn’t waver.

Murphy snorted out a laugh and looked down, slashing a couple of quick marks against his notepad. “Fine. I’ll have those out in a jiffy.” He turned away without waiting for a reaction, Gustus’ order completing the round. He marched back to the bar, throwing the slip down with the rest of the orders waiting for Mbege. Mbege was too busy to notice him, pouring drinks for two women seated at the opposite end of the counter.

“Good job getting the big spenders, Murph,” Bree hissed at him as she hurried up, scooping up a tray of drinks that Mbege had already prepared for her.

“They’re all yours,” he snarled. “I’m going on break.”

“You can’t fucking be serious, we’re up to our necks-”

Murphy didn’t hear the rest, slamming through the galley door into the kitchen, and then out through the fire door.

He couldn’t stop shaking when he stepped outside. It took him two tries to prop open the fire door with the cement block sitting outside for just that purpose. His hands fumbled with the fresh pack of cigarettes he’d picked up on his way to work. He dropped it while trying to pack the tobacco down, cursing as the pack bounced across the cement. He swept it back up, ripping open the plastic. He fumbled with the tightly packed cigarettes, managing to pull one out after a few seconds. He lit it on the third try, taking a deep drag that made his lungs burn.

First Bellamy, now her. Who was going to show up at his bar next? His mother?

He let out a hoarse laugh, smoke clouding the air.

By the end of a second cigarette, he had managed to compress his anger, shoving it down into the dark pit in his stomach where everything else lived untouched. His third gave him the will to go back inside. He evaded Mbege’s searching eyes when he crossed back into the bar, grabbing two trays of drinks without a word.

He worked the rest of his shift without glancing over at the group gathered in the corner. He avoided Mbege, avoided Bree, and kept his customer smile plastered across his face while he tended to the rest of his customers.

The crowd began to thin around two. The tourists, as Murphy called them, had moved on to the next bar, or had gotten too drunk and stumbled home. Only the regulars remained. Two old drunks from down the street sat at one end of the bar, drinking together in silence. A group of old men were playing cards at a table in the back and Trikru was still in the corner, as boisterous as they had been when they entered, like they’d forgotten entirely about Murphy’s outburst.

Fuckers.

With so few people left to wait on, Murphy joined Mbege behind the counter. He started gathering glasses that had been left on the counter into a dish bin, hoping that the busy work would be enough to keep him in check.

“What’s going on?” Mbege asked quietly as he pulled another beer, calm eyes locked on the rising foam in his glass.

Murphy couldn’t keep his mouth shut anymore, full to the brim. “You remember that girl I told you about? Octavia?” He slammed a glass into the bin, wincing at the noise of glass on glass.

“Rich bitch?” Mbege glanced over, stepping away briefly to pass the beer off to one of the men at the bar.

“Yeah.” Murphy straightened up, balancing the dish bin against one hip. “She’s here.”

Mbege frowned, rubbing a rag against the bar to look busy. “What?”

“She’s fucking here.” Murphy nodded towards Trikru. “Guess she’s fucking Lincoln.”

Mbege’s brows shot up. “No fucking kidding.”

“Scout’s honor.”

Mbege whistled quietly. “What the fuck?”

“What the fuck?” Murphy repeated emphatically. He let himself glance over at Trikru for the first time in almost an hour. Octavia was still there, and seeing her profile even at a distance made his blood run hot.

“Go do the dishes, man,” Mbege said, nodding towards the kitchen. “I got it out here. Almost last call.”

Murphy headed back into the kitchen without further prompting.

---

Murphy expected them to all be gone by the time he was done. He had taken his time doing the dishes for once, and cleaned up the prep table while he was at it. He even took the time for another smoke.

He didn’t expect to come out and find Octavia perched at the bar with Lincoln at her side. The rest of Trikru had apparently already bugged out, along with the men playing cards in the back. Bree was gone too, since Murphy and Mbege were responsible for closing up tonight.

Murphy stopped right outside of the door, mouth twisting down. Octavia sat up a little when she saw him, eyes beseeching. “Murphy,” she said.

Mbege, surprisingly, cut her off. He was in the middle of breaking down the bar, the house lights already raised to flush out the remaining customers. The drunks they would let stay until they finished shutting down. Lincoln and Octavia though, they had to go.

“I told her to leave,” he said simply.

“She doesn’t listen well,” Murphy snapped. He stepped past them, moving to the opposite end of the bar to start on closing tasks as far from Octavia as he could.

When he looked up, she was right in front of him. She’d left Lincoln at the other end of the bar, Murphy noticed, although the man was watching them intently.

“Can we talk?” she asked.

“I’m working.” He turned his back on her, clipboard in hand. He checked their liquor stock and tried to focus on marking what they needed more of instead of on her blurry reflection in the bar mirror.

“It won’t take long.”

“It’s not happening.” He turned back around, slamming the clipboard on the bar with a loud clap.

“Murph, come on-”

“Don’t fucking call me that.” He walked back down the length of the bar, grabbing the broom and dustpan as he went. He crossed the bar and wove between the tables, aching to put distance between them. He swept under the tables, moving as quickly as he could.

She followed him, chunky heels of her boots squeaking on the wooden floor. “Please, Murphy, at least listen to me.”

“La-la-la,” he sang childishly, sticking one thumb in his ear to block out the sound of her. He could see her out of the corner of his eye, still so familiar with her body language that he knew she wanted to stomp a foot and demand that he stop and pay attention to her.

Too fucking bad.

“You’re being a baby!” she snapped.

“Go cry to your brother. I don’t have time for your shit.” He waved a hand at her dismissively, shoving a chair under a table. It made a horrible screech that made Octavia wince.

“You’re just sweeping, you can sweep and listen-”

“Yeah, I can.” He stopped, looking at her at last. She was a little drunk, he realized. Her eyes were bloodshot and her face was flushed. Her makeup was smudged around her eyes, but it somehow still suited her.

“Finally.” Her shoulders slumped a little and her mouth curled up, like she had won. He gripped the broom harder.

“But I don’t want to,” he said, before she could start talking again. “I don’t want to listen to you. This is me saying no, princess. I’m sure it’s not a concept you’re familiar with, but you better get used to it from me.”

Her fists clenched and she took a half-step towards him, looking prepared to brawl with him then and there. “You’re being such an ass-”

Lincoln had slunk over at some point, appearing behind her shoulder like a spectre. He laid a hand on her hip, guiding her backwards gently. “I think it’s time to go, O.”

“I’m not going until he listens to me!” she said. Her eyes were wet now, frustration making way for a rush of indignant tears. “This isn’t fair!”

“It’s not,” Lincoln agreed calmly. “You can leave and he can’t.”

 

Murphy’s grip loosened a little on his broom, stunned. Lincoln was - siding with him? That didn’t seem right. He should be siding with Octavia, trying to make Murphy talk too-

Octavia looked hurt, leaning away from Lincoln a little. “No-”

“He’s trying to work,” Lincoln said gently. “Let’s let him. This isn’t the time.”

“But-” Octavia threw a look Murphy’s way, eyes frantic. Murphy looked down, swaying the broom to the side. He was uncomfortable and he didn’t know why. It should feel good to watch her squirm, to see her near tears.

“Let me take you home.” Lincoln guided her away slowly, his hand sure on her waist. “Good night, Murphy.”

Murphy didn’t say a word, rooted to the spot. The two of them headed to the exit, Octavia whispering beseechingly to Lincoln the entire time.

When they left, Mbege locked the door behind them and Murphy was finally able to relax. He returned to the bar without finishing up the sweeping. It felt like he weighed three hundred pounds, exhaustion sinking into his bones.

Mbege already had two shots of whiskey lined up for them when Murphy made it over. They picked them up silently, clicking them together, then tapping them against the wood, then swallowing the shots in sync.

“That sucked,” Mbege said. He lined up the shots again.

Clink tap shoot. Clink tap shoot.

They drank until Murphy couldn’t feel anything but the alcohol coursing through him, mind a tired blur. They took double their usual time to close up and stumbled home together as the sun rose.

Chapter Text

Bellamy woke up at eight on Sunday.

After leaving Murphy’s, he had spent the day hiding out in his apartment. As soon as he had gotten home, he showered, put on pajamas, and crawled into bed to hide away from the implications of what he had done the night before. He tried to read for a while, but he found his mind drifting back to Murphy. Eventually, he gave up and scrolled through Netflix until he found a history documentary he hadn’t watched yet and sank down into bed with only his self-loathing as company.

Bellamy had slept with a nineteen year old. Not illegal, but… icky. He felt very icky. And it invalidated half of his argument against Octavia dating Lincoln, since it would be pretty hypocritical for him to try and call her out for dating Lincoln when he’d fucked her childhood best friend in a dirty bathroom stall.

Not that he was telling her about it. Ever. If he had his way, he would take it to the grave.

He also struggled to reconcile the man that Murphy was now with the child who spent months practically living under his care. The Murphy he remembered was a little punk with a bad attitude, yeah, but he hadn’t really been a bad kid. And Bellamy knew that Murphy had to have grown up, had to have changed. But when he imagined who Murphy had become across the years, he had expected different. He’d expected better.

Worst of all, he found his mind slipping back to the way Murphy’s body had felt against his. How well his hands had fit around Murphy’s hips, how good it felt when Murphy pulled his hair. How fierce and sloppy Murphy kissed him.

He shook the thoughts away every time they came, but it didn’t change the fact that he was thinking about it regardless.

At ten that night, he received a text from Lexa.

10:13 PM, Lexa Woods
Meet me for drinks in fifteen.

10:14 PM, Bellamy Blake
No.

10:15 PM, Lexa Woods
who said i was asking

10:15 PM, Bellamy Blake
I’m already in bed.

10:16 PM, Lexa Woods
Lame

10:17 PM, Lexa Woods
If you don’t go out with me tonight, you’re going to brunch with me tomorrow

10:17 PM, Lexa Woods
you haven’t annoyed me at all today so i know you did something stupid and want the details

10:20 PM, Bellamy Blake
do i have to talk to you every day?

10:21 PM, Lexa Woods
no but you do

10:21 PM, Lexa Woods
sunny side, 0900. if you’re not there i will come to your house instead.

10:22 PM, Bellamy Blake
fine, fuck

Which is why Bellamy made himself get up at eight, on a Sunday. He dressed himself in his street clothes, peeked into Octavia’s room where she was sleeping in her dress from the night before, and headed out to meet Lexa under threat of home invasion.

Lexa was waiting when he arrived, already seated in a two person booth by the window. There was a pitcher of mimosas on the table that Lexa had already helped herself to. When she was off the clock, Lexa never wore her hair up, preferring to let it flow past her shoulders in natural waves. Sometimes, like that day, she would braid pieces back to keep the hair from her face, and it always somehow made her look regal, even paired with a Arkadia Police Academy t-shirt that she had cut short over her torso and removed the sleeves from. She had paired it with what Octavia liked to call “boyfriend” jeans and casual strapped sandals.

Bellamy hated her.

“Morning,” she greeted.

Bellamy sat down and poured himself a mimosa, topping off Lexa’s glass when she held it out expectantly. “Morning,” he said gruffly.

“Sleep well?” She took a sip, looking at him over the rim of her glass with laughing eyes.

“No.” He slumped down in his seat, sipping his own drink. They sat quietly for a moment, before Lexa’s foot collided with his shin, prodding at him. “What?” he snapped.

“You gonna make me pull it out of you? I know that face, Blake. You’re moping.”

“I think Octavia is drinking,” Bellamy evaded.

“Bellamy, you let Octavia drink,” Lexa said calmly. She flipped open her menu, obviously not planning on giving him any sort of attention while he insisted on being cagey.

“Yeah, at home.” He sniffed and opened his own menu. “She went out with Lincoln last night and when I checked on her this morning, she was passed out on top of her covers in the same dress she wore out last night.”

“Least that means Lincoln probably didn’t fuck her.”

Bellamy groaned, pressing a thumb into his temple. “Stop it.”

“Just saying. She could have been naked.”

Their waitress arrived and took their orders. Lexa requested eggs benedict. Bellamy ordered pancakes and bacon.

“Are you going to keep talking about Octavia or are you going to tell me what’s actually going on?” Lexa filled both of their glasses again.

“Maybe I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Bell.” She put her glass down, looking at him knowingly. “If you really, really didn’t want to talk about it, you wouldn’t have actually showed. And the fact that you’re fighting me this hard on it means that something really did happen. It must be pretty bad, too.”

“Why do you think it’s bad?”

Lexa eyed him. “You look like shit. No offense.”

Bellamy was offended anyway.

“Fine,” he said. “But you’ve got to swear you won’t say anything to Octavia. She can’t know about this.”

“I’ll keep it out of the newsletter.”

Bellamy sighed, rubbing a hand across his face. “Have I ever told you about her friend from back home? Murphy?”

“Don’t think so.”

“So, Octavia had this friend when she was younger. She started hanging around with him a couple of months before we moved uptown. Kid’s name was Murphy. Sort of a troublemaker, but he was nice to Octavia. He hung around our house all the time. Pretty sure his mom was neglectful.” He picked at the edge of his napkin. “When we moved, it’s not like. We couldn’t take the kid with us.” His mouth felt dry. He felt guilty, he realized. “Octavia tried to hangout with him on the weekends, at first, but he blew her off. Broke her heart. I kind of… went off on him.”

“How old was he?” Lexa rose her brow.

“Thirteen,” Bellamy admitted.

“Dude, you were like eighteen. You went off on a thirteen year old?”

Bellamy felt his cheeks heat up. “It’s not my proudest moment, all right? He hurt Octavia and I just… reacted.”

“I’ll let it slide.” She waved a hand. “What’s that got to do with whatever’s eating you up now, anyway?”

This was the worst part, because before Bellamy could explain that he had fucked a teenager, he had to admit that he also kind of… stalked Octavia’s boyfriend. Just a little. And unsuccessfully.

“I went out on Friday,” he began slowly.

“Okay.”

“I went to the southside.”

Lexa squinted at him, sipping her mimosa. “Okay,” she repeated.

“I maybe went to City Lights.”

“Bell.” She closed her eyes and groaned. “You didn’t.”

“I just wanted to see if I could, you know, catch Lincoln doing anything… sketchy.” He scrubbed a hand through his hair.

“Sketchier than creeping on your sister’s boyfriend just in case he’s a bad guy?”

“He wasn’t even there, okay?” Bellamy slumped back with a huff. “Some other people from his kru were, but he never showed. I just drank at the bar for a while and then they left.”

“Still creepy.” Lexa rolled her eyes.

The conversation was forced to pause when their food arrived, which Bellamy was grateful for. Following Lincoln was creepy, but fucking Murphy was… you know. Disgusting.

“I still don’t get how this Murphy kid comes into play,” Lexa said when the waitress left. She cut into her food, slicing it to pieces before she began eating.

“He was at the bar too.” Bellamy’s shoulders slumped, and he looked down at his food morosely. “He came up and started hitting on me. I didn’t recognize him and…”

“Oh my God.” Bellamy peeked up at Lexa. Her mouth was open in a wide circle of disbelief and it made his ears burn. “You didn’t.”

“I hooked up with him.”

“Holy shit.” Lexa laughed. “So much for your soapbox.”

“I was really drunk,” he said earnestly. “And he started it. We didn’t have, like, full-on sex, we just like…” He gestured vaguely, willing her to understand. “In the bathroom.”

“When did you figure out it was him?” Bellamy personally found her glee at this very traumatic situation insulting.

“The next morning.”

Her brows shot up. “You spent the night with him? And you didn’t even fuck him?”

“It’s a good thing I didn’t!” Bellamy kicked her under the table, and she retaliated immediately.

“Just tell me what happened.”

Bellamy did, recounting the morning that would surely haunt him in every gruesome detail. By the end, they had finished their food and their pitcher of mimosas. Lexa had gotten herself under control, delight circling back around to stoic concern.

“So, yeah. He told me we were even, since O and I just sort of… abandoned him.” Bellamy signed his check as he finished the story, exhausted from the retelling.

“You didn’t abandon him, Bell. He wasn’t your responsibility.” Lexa shrugged her jacket on.

“No,” he agreed, but it felt like a lie. “I guess not.”

“I’m serious.” She reached across the table, covering his hand with hers. “You were doing your best to take care of Octavia. You were just a kid. You can’t take on that responsibility.”

“I knew his mom wasn’t taking care of him, Lex. I should have told someone about it. Maybe I could have…”

“You were busy.” She squeezed his hand. “You can’t take of everyone, Bell. You couldn’t then, and you can’t now.”

Bellamy turned his hand over to squeeze hers back. They sat like that for a minute and Bellamy did his best to make himself believe that her words were true.

“You’re not going to mention it to O?” he said finally.

“Not a word,” she agreed solemnly.

---

When Bellamy got home, it was past eleven and Lincoln was in his kitchen.

“Officer Blake,” he greeted, standing over the stove.

“Lincoln.” Bellamy shrugged off his jacket, hanging it by the door. Octavia was seated at the bar, freshly showered and dressed in soft shorts and a t-shirt that Bellamy recognized as one of his. She had her head down on her arms, making miserable sounds. “What’s with her?”

“Hungover,” Lincoln said, glancing over at her with a fond little smile. “She overdid it a little.”

“I did not,” she groaned, peeling her face away from her arms to look at Bellamy. “Morning.”

“Hey.” He went to sit beside her, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “Drink too much?”

“No,” she grumbled, slumping into his side. He put an arm around her, rubbing her shoulder gently.

“We’ve all been there.” Bellamy looked over at Lincoln, who was carefully portioning out eggs onto two plates beside sliced strawberries and a little scoop of yogurt and granola. Bread popped out of the toaster beside him. “What are you doing here so early?”

“She texted me SOS when she woke up, so I came over to take care of her.”

Bellamy was annoyed by how much he liked that. Lincoln had proven himself, so far, to be frustratingly perfect. And perfect was exactly what Octavia deserved.

Bellamy sat at the table with them while they ate, helping himself to some of the coffee that Lincoln had brewed, since Octavia actually didn’t like coffee at all.

“I didn’t know,” Lincoln said, like he was amazed to find out such a little detail about Octavia.

“She’s got a sweet tooth,” Bellamy provided. “Can’t stand how bitter coffee tastes.”

“She’s right here,” Octavia grumbled, shoveling eggs into her mouth. Lincoln reached over and squeezed her knee reassuringly, receiving a sparkling smile in return.

Bellamy carried on a casual conversation with Lincoln while they ate, since Octavia was being particularly reticent this morning. He found out where Lincoln worked (a mechanic shop), where he was from (not Arkadia, surprisingly), and how he and Octavia had met (at a sandwich shop.)

Bellamy was just getting ready to ask something else when Octavia looked up suddenly, almost dropping her spoon.

“Bell! You won’t believe who I saw last night!” She sat forward a little in her seat.

Bellamy rose a brow. “Who?” he asked, sipping his coffee.

“Murphy! Can you believe it?”

Bellamy almost choked, coffee burning up into his nasal passage. He covered his face with a hand, wiping under his nose quickly. “What?”

“Yeah, Murphy! We went out with some of Lincoln’s friends last night. Murphy’s working at this bar down on the southside, it’s called City Lights?”

“I know it,” Bellamy grunted.

“Yeah! He’s like, all grown up.”

Yeah he is, Bellamy thought weakly.

“Did you talk to him?” Bellamy asked. It wouldn’t be out of character for Murphy to spill the beans about what he’d done with Bellamy, but it didn’t seem like she knew anything.

“Well.” And she deflated a little, eyes growing sad. “I tried to.”

“What do you mean?”

When Octavia hesitated, Lincoln said, “Murphy wasn’t particularly interested in talking to her.”

“He’s mad at me,” she said softly, sounding so painfully young. “I didn’t think he would be mad.”

“He shouldn’t be, O. It’s dumb,” Bellamy said firmly. “You didn’t do anything to him.”

“I guess we did move and like… we kind of left him,” she said.

“Yeah, well. Shit happens, and that was years ago.”

“Murphy’s a tough kid,” Lincoln said. “Known him for a while now. He doesn’t seem to like talking to most people, like I told O.”

“But I’m going to keep trying,” Octavia said, firm. “I want to fix this.”

“You can’t fix everything,” Bellamy said gruffly.

Octavia glared, clenching her fists on the table. “But I can fix this. I know I can.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t.” Bellamy sat back, crossing his arms. “Seems like he might be an asshole now.”

“Murphy was always an asshole!” She mimicked his posture, mouth setting defiantly. “He’s still my friend.”

“He was your friend. Don’t you have enough friends now, O?”

“None of them are like Murphy,” she said stubbornly.

Bellamy knew he had lost. With Octavia, he wasn’t sure he ever really won.

---

Bellamy did his best to forget Murphy in the days that followed. He’d hooked up with the kid in a bathroom while he was so drunk he could barely see, so what? No harm, no foul. It was over, it wasn’t happening again, and Bellamy hadn’t known that Murphy was Murphy at the time. He was going to forget that it had happened, just like every other meaningless, guilt free one night stand he had ever had.

Octavia made it extremely difficult. Every night when he came home, she would ramble on about Murphy, trying to plot a way to make him love her again. It was incessant and grating and Bellamy loved her dedication, but this particular scheme was something he didn’t want to know anything about.

“-and I think,” Octavia said, pointing at Bellamy, “that if you came with me, he might listen more. He always listened to you.”

“Yeah, when he was twelve,” Bellamy grumbled. They were sitting on the couch in their living room, along with Lexa, Clarke, and Jasper. Monty was sadly missing, since he had accepted a scholarship to a school somewhere outside of the city. Octavia had been ranting about her new Murphy plan for the last five minutes, and Bellamy was on the brink of screaming.

“O, you gotta stop,” Clarke said gently, rubbing a soothing hand on Octavia’s leg. “This really isn’t healthy, you know? It sounds like he kind of made it clear that he doesn’t want to talk.”

“But I want to talk,” Octavia said, slapping Clarke’s hand away gently. “And he will too, if he just lets me explain everything.”

“You might want to apologize at some point too,” Lexa interjected smoothly. She was sitting on Bellamy’s right and seemed whole-heartedly amused by Octavia’s dramatics. She also, Bellamy noted, was eyeing Clarke every time Clarke was distracted by something else. Bellamy was so calling her out on that later.

“Why should I apologize?” Octavia huffed, pulling at the edges of the throw pillow in her lap. “I didn’t do anything bad to him, I just moved.”

“Yeah,” Jasper drawled, “But that’s kind of like the kid equivalent of leaving him on read, right?”

“No!” Octavia flung her pillow at Jasper. “It’s not!” Jasper dodged the pillow, nearly flinging himself off of the couch.

“Okay!”

“I’m telling you!” She looked around at all of them. “I’m going to go find him, probably at City Lights, and I’m going to convince him to talk to me. And I’m going to tell him what happened, and tell him what happened with mom-”

“Emotional manipulation,” Jasper coughed.

“-and then maybe I’ll apologize for not being able to hang out with him more when we were kids.” Octavia glowered at Jasper. “It’s going to work. And then he’s going to hang out with us, and you guys are going to love him.”

Oh, and didn’t that just sound like Bellamy’s worst nightmare?

“You’re really going to do this, aren’t you?” Clarke asked, exasperated. “I just really don’t think it’s a good idea. You said he almost got into a fight with that Gustus guy, what if he tries to fight you?”

“I’ll whoop his ass,” she said confidently.

“Oh my God, you’ve been talking about it for days. Just piss or get off the pot already, O,” Jasper said.

“Fine.” She crossed her arms, slumping back into the cushions. “I’m doing it this weekend. I’ll go every night if I have to, and when he’s cooler than all of you and I ditch you to hang out with him, you’re going to regret how rude you’ve been tonight.”

“Thank God,” Jasper groaned.

Clarke wrapped an arm around Octavia, pulling her close despite her mild protests. “We’re just worried about you, O,” she cooed.

“This is going to be interesting,” Lexa murmured to Bellamy, knocking her beer bottle against his while she watched the girls on the opposite end of the sectional. “Best wishes.”

“Fuck you,” he grumbled.

---

Bellamy tried not to think about it. He went to work the next morning, did his patrol, and focused very hard on not worrying about Octavia confronting Murphy. It was going to be fine. Murphy wouldn’t mention hooking up with Bellamy, because how would that give him an advantage?

It was going to be fine.

He went home, had dinner alone because Octavia was out with Clarke and Jasper, and opened a beer at six. He was going to stay home, watch the rest of the documentary he had started on Saturday, and wasn’t going to worry about Murphy anymore.

Chapter Text

Murphy had a vicious hangover. He spent his first hour awake bowed over his toilet, throwing up nothing but the alcohol still sizzling his stomach and bile. He’d forgotten to eat yesterday, he realized. That would explain it.

He got in the shower when he finished, turning the heat all the way up. He sat on the floor and willed away his headache and gargled mouthfuls of water to clear the remaining vomit from his mouth. He climbed out when the water started going cold and barely dried himself off before putting on sweatpants and calling it a day.

When he shuffled into the living room, Mbege was already there, yet again eating a bowl of cereal and watching cartoons. Murphy bypassed him for the kitchen and rummaged through the fridge. Everything they had made his stomach turn, and he settled for grabbing a bottle of water, promising himself that he would go back for food later, when he didn’t feel so fucking terrible.

“What are we watching?” he asked. He dropped onto the couch beside Mbege, twisting to smoosh his feet beneath his friend’s thighs. He had spilled the rest of the beans last night, admitting somewhere between mopping and restocking that the guy from the night before had been Octavia’s brother. He maybe even fessed up to kind of tricking Bellamy into fucking him. Mbege hadn't judged him, just set up another round of shots to toast his triumphant Brother Fuck.

“‘S almost over,” Mbege said around a mouthful. “Pokemon is on next.”

Murphy groaned, twisting open his bottle of water. “Nerd shit.”

“You like it.”

“Do not.”

Murphy felt better. It felt good to have Mbege in the loop, to know that what he had done with Bellamy hadn’t actually been as deplorable as Bellamy tried to make him think. And after that, and what had gone down with Octavia, Murphy was pretty sure the Blakes weren’t going to be a problem for him again.

---

He saw Indra again on Tuesday night. She came in alone, her helmet in hand, and came straight up to the bar instead of going back to her usual table. Murphy was tending bar alone tonight. It wasn’t busy, just a few regulars and one or two kids looking to get drunk on a school night.

“Murphy,” she greeted.

“Hey.” He went over to her, tapping his knuckles on the wood in front of her. “What can I get for you, boss?”

“Heineken,” she said.

He turned away to fetch her drink, grabbing a bottle from the fridge. He opened it for her, setting it on the bar with a cocktail napkin and a bowl of bar nuts.

“Anything else?”

“I would like a word.”

Murphy’s stomach flipped. Not good. He glanced at the door to the kitchen. At least he had an escape route, but taking it would be tough, since that meant he would be leaving the bar unattended-

“Calm down,” she said, catching his eye. “It’s about the other night. I’m not angry, but others are.”

“I was just doing my job.” He looked down, hair falling across his face.

“Lincoln tells me that you and his girlfriend have a history.”

Murphy looked up through his lashes, chin tucked down defensively. “Maybe,” he admitted.

“I see.” She watched him. She took a slow sip of her beer before speaking again. “I understand that personal business can sometimes cloud the mind. But I would advise you not to take a stand against Octavia in the presence of my men again.”

“Look, she’s underage. I don’t have to serve her.” He shifted back, crossing his arms.

“No,” Indra agreed. “And Gustus and the others don’t have to be happy about it, either.”

Fear rose in the pit of his empty stomach. Not good.

“Maybe she shouldn’t come back here. She knows how I feel.”

Indra gave him a small smile. “She is Trikru. Not officially, but she will be. And this is Trikru’s place.”

Murphy huffed and turned away from her, walking away to deliver a fresh beer to each of the old men at the end of the bar. When he returned, Indra had nearly finished her bowl of nuts. “Look, I’ll serve her, but I’m not doing more than that.”

“That will do. For now.” She drained the last of her beer. “I like you, Murphy. You have spirit.” She stood, dropping a ten on the bar. “I want you to keep this job. Don’t you?” She tapped her fingers on the cash and walked away, not waiting for his reply.

---

Murphy was working Thursday night alone, too. Mbege always took Monday and Wednesday, they alternated their Fridays, and Saturdays were all hands on deck. Sunday, the slowest day, Bree was in charge, only dropping in to serve on Thursdays and Fridays. Jaha dropped in whenever he felt like it, which was luckily not that often.

It was an arguably poor business model to have so few employees, but City Lights was small. Even on busy nights, their clientele never got out of hand. The regulars recognized the bar for what it was - a haven, somehow safe from the scrutiny of the police. The few times Murphy had an issue with strangers, a regular would step up to handle the situation. It helped that someone from Trikru was almost always present. City Lights was their turf, and having a visual reminder of that was usually enough to keep the riff-raff in line.

Thursday was an uneventful night. Indra was absent, but Nyko and Niylah came in around eleven, giving Murphy friendly nods across the bar. They weren’t part of the faction that resented him then. Good.

The crowd thinned by midnight, and Murphy excused Bree after she finished up the dishes in the back. Murphy was considering closing up the whole bar early, tired and bored with only the drunk men and the card players as company.

Then, at half past twelve, Bellamy walked in.

Murphy clocked him immediately, of course. There weren’t enough people for him to try and be discrete, and from the look on his face, he probably wouldn’t have tried to approach quietly anyway.

“I want to talk to you,” he snapped, stopping at the bar directly in front of him.

Murphy lifted a brow. He had a glass in hand that he was slowly polishing with a cloth. He focused on the action instead of the anger that he could already feel stirring.

“Well?” Bellamy snapped again. His hair was wild, curls oddly flat in some places, still fluffy and shiny in others. The collar of his black jacket was crooked, one side tucked in against his throat. The shirt he had on underneath was grey and wrinkled, the front of it tucked in behind the button of his dark jeans. He looked like he’d just woken up and had, for some reason, been possessed by the idea of rushing all the way to City Lights just to yell at Murphy.

To be fair, this wasn’t the first time that someone had gone out of their way just to berate Murphy. He was inspirational that way.

“Well what?” He set the glass down, tucking his cloth back into his back pocket. “You said you wanted to talk to me.”

“I do.” Bellamy leaned forward against the counter, knuckles pressed into the wood.

Murphy waited, arms folding. Bellamy didn’t say anything, his dark eyes focused intently on Murphy. His mouth was set in a firm line, anger written in every feature. But he didn’t fucking say anything, and the whole staring thing was getting old quick.

“If you want to talk,” Murphy said, forming the words slowly and deliberately, “You need to move your mouth like this.”

“Fuck off,” Bellamy snapped, for the third time, before taking a seat. “You saw Octavia.”

“There you go! I was starting to think you were actually one of those pull-string dolls.” Murphy leaned on the counter opposite him. He felt reckless, his blood running hot and fast. He could feel himself start to sweat, the knit fabric of his loose sweater going from comfortable to constraining in a flash. “Like maybe you could only say a couple of phrases, you know? Like, I want to talk to you.” His voice dipped down an octave, mimicking Bellamy. “Fuck off. My sister, my responsibility.”

Murphy watched the muscles in Bellamy’s jaw flex, saw the way his hands clenched tight enough that his knuckles went white. He could see it in Bellamy’s eyes, how much he wanted to rise to the bait. There was anger there, and something about it made Murphy feel hungry.

Bellamy didn’t say anything for a moment, breathing harshly through his nose. Then he continued, voice stilted. He was trying so hard to control himself, and Murphy felt the overwhelming urge to break him. “You saw Octavia,” he repeated slowly. “And you wouldn’t let her talk to you.”

“Duh,” Murphy said blandly, resting his chin in his hand. “And?”

“And she didn’t like that. She wants to talk to you, Murphy.”

“Too fucking bad. You raised one spoiled little bitch, Bellamy-”

“Watch your mouth,” he snarled, half-rising in his seat.

“You good, Murph?” one of the old men called from down the bar. Both men were watching them.

Murphy waved him off, looking back at Bellamy. “All good, Clint. Just having a friendly conversation.”

Bellamy lowered himself back into his seat. If his eyes had been angry before, they were furious now.

“What do you want me to say?” Murphy dropped his hand back to the bar, tipping his head back. “That I’ll be her bestest friend in the world again, until she gets bored?”

“No.” Bellamy’s hand spread across the bar slowly, like he was trying to force himself to relax. Murphy could still see the tension in his fingers, the way the tips were trying to dig into the wood, knuckles flexing up. “I don’t want you around her. She’s got better people now, she doesn’t need someone like you dragging her down.”

Murphy huffed a laugh. “Yeah, whatever you say.” He spotted the men at the card table gesturing for him to bring another round and turned away to start collecting their beers.

“She’s going to come talk to you again,” Bellamy said.

“Fine. Still won’t listen.” He loaded the beers onto a tray and walked away to serve them. When he returned, Bellamy was still there, eyes tracking him across the room.

“I don’t want you to tell her about us,” Bellamy ground out, as soon as Murphy stopped in front of him.

Murphy felt his stomach turn. He put a hand across it discreetly, gritting his teeth against the nausea. So that’s what this was about. Bellamy didn’t want the little princess to know that he’d hooked up with Murphy. Murphy was so bad that even the knowledge that Bellamy had touched him would somehow lower Octavia’s estimation of her brother.

Murphy swallowed against the urge to spit on him.

“What about us?”

“You know what I’m talking about.” Bellamy looked away from him, rubbing a knuckle under his nose. “I don’t want you to say a word. She doesn’t know I’ve seen you.”

“What, Bellamy, you’re hiding something from Octavia? I thought you guys shared everything,” Murphy sneered. He turned away from him, turning a knob on the wall behind the bar to raise the lights. “Last call!” he bellowed.

“She doesn’t need to know what we did,” Bellamy muttered.

“Why not? I think she’d like it.” Murphy turned back to him with an arrogant smile. He felt dizzy.

“She wouldn’t,” Bellamy said, “And that’s not the point.”

 

“What the fuck is your point, then?” Murphy snapped, leaning forward over the bar, forcing his way into Bellamy’s personal space. “What do you want from me?”

Bellamy didn’t back down, eyes burning into Murphy’s. Traitorous heat curled in Murphy’s stomach, seeing Bellamy up close again. He was so fucking beautiful, and from this distance Murphy was sure he could count the freckles speckled across his nose. He wanted to kiss him, wanted to tear at his full bottom lip with his teeth. He wanted to make him bleed, to make him hurt the way he was hurting.

“I want you to keep your mouth shut,” Bellamy said, voice low. “And I want you to listen to her.”

“Fuck off,” he hissed. “I said no.”

“Listen to her,” he commanded, voice like gravel. “Or she’s not going to leave you alone. Let her say her piece, keep your mouth shut, and it’ll be over.”

“Or what?” Murphy smirked at him, eyes bouncing across his face. “What are you gonna do if I don’t?”

“Nothing. Your funeral.” Bellamy’s eyes moved down to his mouth for a split second, and back to his eyes. “She’s very… persistent.”

Murphy clenched his hand around the edge of the bar on his side, nails digging into the coarse underside of the wood. “And what are you gonna do if I tell her what you let me do to you?” he asked.

“Don’t,” Bellamy’s jaw clenched tight again.

“What are you gonna do,” Murphy continued, “if I tell your precious little sister how I sucked you off? How I could barely fit you in my mouth, but I did it anyway because I wanted to know how it tasted when you came? Or if I tell her how you couldn’t wait to get your hands down my pants when I was done because you were so fucking desperate to please me?”

Don’t,” Bellamy repeated, hand lifting to curl in the front of Murphy’s sweater. His other fist was clenched again, trembling against the wood.

“What’s in it for me if I don’t?” Murphy whispered. “I’ll tell her every fucking detail.”

“I said don’t,” Bellamy hissed. Murphy could feel his breath against his face, knew that he could lean forward and take his mouth, bite into his lips the way he wanted to.

“Give me a reason.” Murphy covered Bellamy’s hand with his, thumb working between his fingers to try and force him to release his shirt. “Or fuck off.”

“What do you want? What’s gonna make you keep your stupid fucking mouth shut?”

Murphy smiled at him, all sharp teeth. “Make me an offer.”

“What do you want? Money?” Bellamy’s mouth curled down, disgust evident.

“I don’t need your fucking money,” he hissed, thumb nail biting into the flesh of Bellamy’s palm viciously.

“Then what?”

Murphy stared at him, fury and arousal clouding his mind. What did he want from Bellamy Blake?

Nothing. He wanted him gone. He wished he’d never shown his face, never walked in, never let Murphy seduce him. He wanted Octavia gone, too. He didn’t want her to come in again, didn’t want her to look at him with those big, pitying cow eyes. He wanted them both gone, gone so he would never have to think about them or what they had done to him ever again.

But it seemed like that wasn’t an option at all. So he came up with something else.

“I’ll keep my mouth shut,” he said slowly, nail digging deeper into Bellamy’s flesh. The man didn’t even have the decency to flinch. “But you’re going to have to make me.”

“Yeah, I got that-”

“I won’t tell her what we did,” Murphy continued, voice rising to cut him off. “If we keep doing it.”

That shocked him, alright. Shocked him enough that he released Murphy’s shirt and Murphy had the space to step back, to breath again. Bellamy’s brows furrowed, mouth falling half open. Maybe he was confused, too.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean.” Murphy shook himself off, looked down as he adjusted his sweater, forcing it to lay right on his shoulders again. “I’ll keep my mouth shut, if you agree to fuck me whenever I want. I’ll play nice and let Octavia say whatever it is she’s dying to get out, but if you stop, I’m done. No more playing nice. And if you cross me, it all comes out. I tell her everything.”

“Fuck off,” Bellamy said, a tremble to his voice. “You can’t force me-”

“Why the fuck did you come here, Bellamy?” He looked up at him again. “To politely ask me to be nice to your sister? Because it seemed like you came in planning to threaten me, or did I get that wrong?”

Bellamy’s mouth snapped shut. He didn’t say a word.

“Yeah.” Murphy laughed. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. You think I don’t know a threat when I hear it?”

“I wasn’t going to do anything to you,” Bellamy said, voice still low.

“I know you like to think you’re better than that, Bellamy, but we both know that’s not true.” Murphy turned away from him, tapping at the computer behind the bar to close down the open tabs. “I’m not the only bad guy here.”

Bellamy didn’t say anything, but he also didn’t leave. Murphy left him to stew, returning cards to the men at the bar and at the card table. The men at the table left first, and Murphy cleaned up the mess they’d left behind. Clint and the other drunk hung around, knowing good and well that Murphy didn’t care if they stayed through his closing tasks.

Murphy was checking stock when Bellamy spoke again.

“I’ll do it.”

Murphy looked at him over his shoulder, smirking. “Don’t sound so sad. You know you want-”

“I’ve got demands too,” Bellamy interrupted. He was sitting up proudly, like he was trying to preserve a scrap of dignity.

“Go on.” Murphy tucked his clipboard away.

“You have to listen to Octavia.”

Murphy rolled his eyes. “We already established that.”

“I know. But I mean it. You have to really listen.”

“Okay,” Murphy mocked. “I’ll really, really listen.”

“And you need to be nice to her. She wants to be your friend again, God knows why.”

Murphy snorted, ignoring the way the insult stung. “You want to fuck me, so you’re one to talk.”

Bellamy glowered at him, but he didn’t disagree. “Let her be your friend. I’m not saying hang out with her, I’m just saying make her think you guys are cool. I don’t care how you really feel, just make Octavia think everything is okay.”

“You ever going to stop shielding her from the big bad world?” Murphy asked mildly.

“No,” Bellamy said, firm.

“We’re headed out, Murph,” Clint said. He stood from his stool on unsteady legs. “We’ll lock up behind us.”

“Sure thing, Clint. Merv.” Murphy saluted them lazily, watching them make their way out. When the door was closed and locked, Murphy looked at Bellamy again, huffing a laugh when he saw the determination still painted across his face. “You’re not done, are you?”

“No. There’s more-”

“I need a smoke,” Murphy said simply, turning away to walk back into the kitchen. “You coming?”

Bellamy hesitated, before following him. Murphy led him through the kitchen and out through the fire door, propping it open with his trusty cement block. He already had a cigarette lit by the time Bellamy spoke up again.

“She might want you to come around.”

“Not happening,” Murphy said, exhaling a cloud of smoke. “Not interested in having her rub my face in how great her life is now.”

“I’m just saying that she might want you to. And if you do, you haven’t seen me. We’ll make nice in front of her, just so that she thinks everything is fine. But you keep your mouth shut about what we did.” Bellamy swallowed visibly. “About what we’re doing.”

“Fine.” Murphy rolled his eyes, tapping off his ash in a practiced motion. “Anything else?”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Thought I made that clear.” Murphy looked at him, eyes roaming over his body. Fuck, it wasn’t fair how much just seeing Bellamy turned him on. There was something wrong inside of him, something conflating the bitterness and anger that had lived in him for so long with the throbbing arousal that the sight of Bellamy sparked. He wanted to be sick over it, but he wasn’t, and that was wrong too.

“We’re going to fuck, I know,” he said, gruff. “But how often? It can’t just be whenever you want it, I have a life-”

“Twice a week,” Murphy said. “I know you get two days off. Part of that time is mine now.”

Bellamy huffed, bitter smile twisting his lips. “Fine.”

“You done now?” Murphy dropped his cigarette, grinding it under his heel. He opened the door again, pushing the cement block out of the way. “I’ve got stuff I need to do-”

Bellamy grabbed him from behind as soon as they were inside, spinning him around. His mouth crashed into Murphy’s hard, making him wince as their teeth clicked together painfully. Bellamy’s hands found his hips, digging into his flesh. Murphy grabbed onto his coat, pressing up into the kiss with matching ferocity. He finally got to bite him the way he wanted to, dragging his lip between his teeth hard enough to make Bellamy wince.

One of Bellamy’s hands slapped his thigh and he jerked out of the kiss, panting. “Watch it.”

“Make me,” Murphy said. He lifted a leg around Bellamy’s hips and jumped up, hooking his ankles around his back. Bellamy caught him, hands spreading under his thighs to brace him. They surged forward again, their kisses still violent. Murphy buried his hands in Bellamy’s soft hair, gripping it tight. He couldn’t slow down.

He hadn’t expected this, but he wanted it. Wanted it so bad that he was already hard in his pants, had to swallow down embarrassing keens that tried to escape his throat when Bellamy slammed him back against the wall. He was going to have bruises, he realized, and a thrill went down his spine. He pulled out of the kiss and leaned his head back, forcing Bellamy’s mouth down to his throat. Bellamy nipped at his skin, teeth sinking into the cord of muscle connecting his neck and shoulder, before sucking viciously.

“For not wanting me,” Murphy gasped, hips bucking forward. “You sure seem eager.”

“Shut up.” Bellamy pulled him away from the wall only to slam him down on the prep table instead. Murphy let go of his hair to tug at his collar.

“Take it off,” he demanded. Bellamy did as told, shrugging off his jacket, then his t-shirt. As soon as his clothes were off, Bellamy’s hands were back on Murphy, sliding his sweater over his head.

Bellamy dipped him backwards, caging him against the table. The cold metal pressed against Murphy’s back, making him arch up with an embarrassing keen. Bellamy captured his mouth again, hands sliding up his thighs to grip his hips again. The angle let him grind against Murphy’s ass, stealing all of the friction for himself.

Didn’t really matter to Murphy. The thought of Bellamy inside him made another rush of blood flow straight to his cock. He rolled his hips down to meet him, nails scraping down Bellamy’s back harshly. He hoped he was leaving scratches, that when Bellamy went home they would burn in the shower and Bellamy would have to remember what he’d done with him.

Bellamy slapped his thigh again, like he knew exactly what Murphy was thinking. “I said watch it.”

“I said make me,” Murphy hissed, biting his nails down into the curve of Bellamy’s shoulder blades brutally. At the same time he jerked him closer with his heels, arching into his touch.

Bellamy’s arms abandoned his hips, prying Murphy’s arms away from his back to pin them down on the table. It meant he had to lean further over him, barely an inch of space between their bare chests. He couldn’t grind as hard without using his hands for leverage, but the switch in position meant their hips were grinding together now. The new pressure was a sweet relief, making Murphy arch into him again with a low moan.

“Stop trying to hurt me,” Bellamy said against his ear. “Or I’ll hurt you back.”

Good,” Murphy snarled. He bucked once, even though he knew he couldn’t break out of Bellamy’s grasp and didn’t really want to. It felt good, to be stretched out, to be at Bellamy’s mercy. But he turned his head to nip at Bellamy’s neck aggressively anyway, reminding the older man that just because he was pinned didn’t mean he was harmless.

“Little fucker,” Bellamy snapped. He turned his head to kiss him again. It felt like Bellamy was trying to make him slow down, and Murphy didn’t want that. He nipped at Bellamy, resisting the change. It took another particularly sharp nip to get Bellamy to back off again.

“I want to come,” Murphy said, ignoring the way his voice trembled, how out of breath he was. He twitched up against Bellamy, adamant.

“Don’t have any lube.” Bellamy grazed his nose along Murphy’s jaw, breath hot.

“Fine, don’t want to wait anyway-” He jerked his arm insistently, until Bellamy let one hand free. Murphy shoved it between them, going at Bellamy’s jeans one handed. “Let’s just get off, fuck-”

 

Bellamy let go of his other hand to reached down too, helping to get them both free. “Hands back up,” he said gruffly. “Don’t trust you.”

Murphy choked out a laugh, bucking against him. “Oh, fuck you-”

Bellamy smacked his thigh again and Murphy’s arms rose over his head before he had time to think about what he was doing.

“Good,” Bellamy said, huffing a laugh against his ear. “Was that so hard?”

Bellamy shifted, lining them up so that he could wrap one big hand around both of their cocks. It was a little too dry at first, verging on uncomfortable, until Bellamy’s stroke smeared their precome down and it was- better.

Murphy felt like he was on fire, restlessly twisting and thrusting under him. “Fuck,” he said, breathless. “Fuck, can you go faster, or like-”

 

Bellamy turned his head, shutting him up with another deep kiss. But he did speed up, stroking them tight and fast. Murphy decided to try his luck, one hand moving down to grip Bellamy’s upper arm. He wanted to feel Bellamy’s muscles work as he got them off. He didn’t try to scratch him again, just held onto him like a life raft.

His orgasm snuck up on him. Everything was too hot, too close, too overwhelming, and when he came it was barely a relief, head jerking back out of the kiss and slamming into the table. It made him hiss, body arching up, seeking Bellamy. Bellamy’s free hand slid under Murphy’s back, supporting him and holding him close. His hand kept moving, stroking Murphy alongside him until it fucking hurt, until he was so sensitive that he was on the edge of screaming when Bellamy finally came.

Murphy lifted his other hand from the table to dig into Bellamy’s hair, guiding him back into a kiss. This one was slow; anything else, anything hotter or deeper and Murphy thought he might explode.

And then it was over. Bellamy extracted himself from Murphy’s arms slowly, pressing one last kiss to his mouth before standing upright. Murphy sat up after him even though his limbs felt like jello. He wasn’t going to look weak here, wasn’t going to let himself luxuriate when Bellamy was already on the move.

Bellamy moved away from him, flipping on the sink to wash his hands. He splashed some of the water onto his stomach, wiping away the mess they had left behind. He’d already tucked himself back into his pants.

Murphy looked away, grabbing a handful of paper towels from the roll on the table to clean himself up. Something strange was in the air now, making the room feel stifling and too small. Last time they’d gotten off together, it had been weightless and Bellamy hadn’t wanted to stop touching him afterwards.

Last time, Bellamy didn’t know who he was.

Murphy stood, grabbing his sweater from the ground. Bellamy was already shrugging on his jacket.

“That’s one,” Bellamy said quietly. A sick chill crawled down Murphy’s spine, left him feeling cold and raw. “What’s your phone number?”

“Why?” Murphy combed a hand back through his hair, itching to regain his composure.

“I’m not gonna just come down here every time I’m free to see if you’re available to fuck.”

“Fine.” Murphy snapped his fingers in Bellamy’s direction, snatching his phone from him when he offered it. His background screen was a picture of him and Octavia, because of course it was. They looked like they were at the carnival. Octavia was pushing a cloud of cotton candy into Bellamy’s face, and he had his head twisted away to avoid it, a wide smile on his face.

Murphy might be sick.

He added his number to Bellamy’s phone quickly and handed it back. “Put it in under John,” he said simply.

“Good.” Bellamy tucked it into his pocket. “I can leave through there?” He motioned to the fire door.

Murphy nodded. Bellamy adjusted his collar and brushed past him, letting himself out without another word. The door clicked shut loudly behind him.

The silence left in his wake was suffocating.

---

Murphy didn’t tell Mbege about it the next morning. They watched television together as usual and Murphy ate half a bowl of cheerios before he felt sick and passed the rest over to Mbege, who ate them without a word.

Afterwards, Murphy went to shower and when he looked at himself in the mirror, he counted up the bruises that Bellamy had left behind. There were small ones scattered on his neck, one large, aching one on the flesh of his shoulder where Bellamy had sunk his teeth in deep. His back ached, but there were no visible marks. The skin of his wrists was tender, faint green finger marks circling them at close inspection.

While he showered, he dug his thumb into the deepest mark on his neck and jerked off, pushing the image of Bellamy carefully out of his mind.

When he got out, there was a new text on his phone.

12:23 PM, Unknown
Octavia will be at the bar tonight. Planning to talk to you.

12:23 PM, Unknown
Remember our deal. Be nice.

Murphy scoffed, and added Bellamy’s number into his phone as “king douche”. He didn’t reply.

---

7:42 PM, king douche
I’m serious.

---

It was all hands on deck for the Friday night shift. Mbege was on the bar, with Murphy and Bree as servers again. Jaha was at the door. Every table was full and it should have been too busy for Murphy to think about anything other than his next order.

Yet all Murphy could think about was that at some point, Octavia was going to waltz in and he was going to have to listen to whatever bullshit she spewed, plaster a smile on his face, and pretend like everything was hunky-dory. He was severely regretting his deal with Bellamy. No amount of sex or humiliation was worth selling himself out like this, but it felt like it was too late to back down. And backing down felt like losing.

Trikru arrived at eleven thirty. Bree picked up their table as soon as they were seated. It was a smaller group this time, just Indra, Anya, and Niylah with Octavia and Lincoln. Murphy knew when she arrived without having to see her. He could feel her eyes on him, could feel Mbege looking at him from the bar like he was waiting for a reaction.

Murphy just focused on working through the rest of his shift. He was the lucky one tonight; at twelve, his tables were shifted to Bree, and he just had to do a load of dishes before he was off the clock.

Midnight came fast, and by the time he was finished in the back, more than half of their customers had vanished. Trikru was still there, barely into their first round of drinks. Murphy took a seat at the bar after he clocked out, motioning for Mbege to bring him a beer.

“You’re not cutting out?” Mbege put a bottle down in front of him, ignoring the woman down the bar calling for him.

“Nah.” He took a long pull as soon as his drink was within reach.

“Rich Bitch is here,” Mbege warned.

“I know she is.” Murphy glanced over his shoulder. Octavia was looking at him, a smile crossing her face when she caught his eye. He looked away again.

“So you’re not leaving because?”

“If she’s gonna keep coming in here, I’m going to have to deal with her at some point.” Murphy rolled his eyes. “I give it five minutes before she tries to talk to me.”

“I give it thirty seconds.” Mbege jerked his chin back towards the booth. “Incoming.” He stepped away to deal with the woman begging for a new drink. Murphy picked up his beer again, tipping his head back to drain it in one long swallow.

Octavia slid into the seat beside him. She was wearing jeans tonight, tight black jeans that flattered every inch of her long legs. Her top was dark red, some kind of crop-top turtleneck that should have been stupid but was actually just insanely flattering.

God, he hated her. He hated everything about her.

“Hey,” she said softly. “Is it okay if I sit here?”

“Sure,” he drawled. He rolled the base of his bottle against the countertop, watching the rings of condensation that it left behind.

“Okay.” She settled in. Her hands fluttered up to the bar, then back to her lap, then awkwardly back down like she was going to stick them into her pockets. “Can I- is it okay if we talk?”

“I’m going out for a smoke.” He stood, shrugging on his jacket.

“Oh.” Octavia flinched a little.

Murphy liked this new approach she was taking. Less blind, demanding confidence, more hesitancy and maybe even a little fear. Much more satisfying to see her beg than to see her command.

“You coming?” he asked, before heading towards the front door without waiting for her to catch up.

Once they were outside, Murphy immediately pulled out his cigarettes, grabbing one from the pack with his teeth.

“May I?” Octavia held out a hand hesitantly.

Murphy wanted to say no, but he gave her one anyway. He held up his lighter for her, helping her light up before he lit his. They smoked in silence for a moment and Murphy watched her, amused by her obvious struggle not to wince at the taste of the tobacco.

“Don’t smoke, do you?” he asked.

“Sometimes,” she said, evasive.

“Okay.”

She smiled at him, a little shy, and tapped the ashes from her cigarette with an awkward little twitch. “I’m sorry,” she said, “About the other night.”

“Are you?” He arched a brow.

“Yeah.” She scratched her cheek carefully with one finger, eyes drifting up to the street light above them. “I guess I- I came on kind of strong. I was just… surprised to see you. Excited.” She glanced over. Murphy looked away, taking another drag. “It’s been a really long time.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. He felt clipped and restless. He didn’t want to be this careful. He wanted to snap at her, wanted to mock her half-assed attempts to address the vast cavern of shit that laid between them.

“You didn’t show up after I moved,” she said after a moment of quiet. “At the diner, I mean. You said you would be there, but you didn’t come.”

Murphy felt himself flinch, guilt twisting in his chest. “Yeah, well. You left.”

“But I still wanted to be your friend.” She sounded sad, so fucking sad, like she had any right to feel that way when she was the one who had gotten out.

“I guess I didn’t believe that,” he said. His jaw hurt, his teeth clenched so hard he thought they may shatter.

“I did,” she said, earnest. “But I didn’t know how to be, after I left.”

“You knew where I lived,” he snapped, then took a breath. “Bellamy sure did.”

Octavia frowned. The cigarette she had bummed was burning down between her fingers, practically untouched. “What does that mean?”

“He came to see me after you guys moved. Gave me some real shit for blowing you off.” He took a final drag from his cigarette before flicking the butt into the street. He immediately fished out another.

“No he didn’t,” she said slowly, brows furrowing.

“Yeah, he did.” Murphy snorted, looking over at her. “Guess he didn’t tell you.”

“Was he mean to you?” She puffed up a little, chin lifting.

“He’s your brother. You tell me.” He shook his head, looking away again. “Look, it’s fine. You moved, we were kids, it’s not like we could do anything about it. It doesn’t matter.”

“I didn’t want to move,” she said. She touched his arm and it took everything in him not to jerk away, to spit at her not to touch him, that she had no right. “I wanted to stay with you. I even asked Bellamy if you could come with us.”

“Yeah, well. It’s in the past.” He used the arm she was touching to push back his hair, motion giving him an excuse to pull away from her. “Don’t worry about it, alright? I was just surprised to see you too.”

“Mean it?” She smiled at him again, this time wide and brilliant. “You mean it?”

No. “Yeah,” he said, and took another drag. “I mean it.”

“Cool.” She dropped the cigarette she was still holding, at this point nothing more than a smoldering filter. “Do you want to come back in? We can get a drink, maybe catch up-”

“I’m tired, actually,” he cut in. He couldn’t do that, not right now. He couldn’t play nice and pretend like every second of his life since she left hadn’t been one lonely battle after another. “I’m headed out.”

“Oh.” Her smile slipped. “Okay. Maybe next time?”

“Next time.” He nodded, and turned away, waving a hand over his shoulder with as much enthusiasm as he could muster. “See ya, O.”

The nickname tasted sour on his tongue.

“Bye, Murph,” she called.

 

---

When he got home and crawled into bed, he finally composed a reply to Bellamy.

1:42 AM, John Murphy
i played nice.

He didn’t expect a reply, but one came through moments later.

1:43 AM, king douche
I’m off on Wednesday.

Murphy didn’t know why the news felt like a salve instead of a burn.

Chapter Text

Bellamy continued to worry about Murphy.

Bellamy had, in fact, continued to worry about Murphy so much, and had been so nervous that he was going to spill the beans to Octavia about what they had done, that he hadn’t been able to sleep on Thursday night.

He didn’t know why he’d let himself get out of bed. If he had just stayed in bed and chilled the fuck out, everything would have been fine. But instead, he'd let himself get up and go all the way down to City Lights with no real plan.

Murphy had been right. What had Bellamy planned to do when he got there, other than threaten him? There was no scenario where Murphy would have calmly listened to him, but.

But he hadn’t expected it to go where it went, either.

He shouldn’t have agreed to Murphy’s terms. But he did.

He should have gone back on them as soon as he had time to think about it. Once he was away from Murphy, and his head was clear, he should have called it all off. If Murphy told Octavia about it, what did it matter? It had been a one time thing.

But he didn’t call it off.

Instead, he doubled down. He texted Murphy to remind him about the deal. He insisted that Murphy be nice.

When Murphy didn’t reply, it was another opportunity. Bellamy could have gone back on the deal again, shut it all down before things got too out of hand.

But he didn’t.

And when Murphy texted him at almost two am, he could have told Murphy that he was having second thoughts, that they really shouldn’t do this, he could have stopped it again. But he didn’t.

1:42 AM, John
i played nice.

1:43 AM, Bellamy Blake
I’m off on Wednesday.

Murphy didn’t text him back. It took a long time for Bellamy to fall asleep.

---

He woke up late on Saturday, a night patrol ahead of him that evening. Lincoln was in his kitchen again, and this time he was cooking for three.

Octavia was sitting at the bar, freshly showered and in another set of comfy lounge clothes, but she didn’t seem to be hungover this morning. That was refreshing.

“Hey,” Bellamy greeted gruffly. He scratched his back through his t-shirt where the claw marks Murphy had left were healing.

“Good morning!” Octavia grinned at him as he sat beside her. “How’d you sleep?”

“Good,” he lied, rubbing his eyes. Lincoln set a mug of coffee down for him wordlessly and went back to cooking.

“Good! I had a great night.”

She was goading him to ask about Murphy. Great.

“Oh yeah?” he said.

“Yep.” She was doing her wiggly puppy thing, hands wrapped around a mug of cocoa. “Know why?”

“Why?” He took a sip of his coffee, steeling himself.

“I talked to Murphy last night. Like really talked.” She was beaming, and he couldn’t help but smile back at her.

“I’m glad it went well.”

“It went so well!” She launched into a retelling of their encounter, only pausing to explain that she hadn’t smoked the cigarette, really, that she’d just wanted to make Murphy more comfortable. And not seem like wimp, she admitted.

By the end of the story, they were all seated around the table with their breakfast. Bellamy hated to admit how good his food was. Fucking Lincoln.

“I’m surprised he was so receptive. But that’s good,” Bellamy said.

“Yeah.” She smiled, nudging him. “I think next time I go he might actually hang out with me. You should come too, I bet he’d like to see you.”

“I don’t know, O.” He sighed.

“I think he would.”

“Maybe,” he allowed.

---

Bellamy was on patrol with Lexa that night. It was obvious that Lexa knew something was going on, but she didn’t ask. She was good about that, about knowing when Bellamy wanted to talk and when it was best to let him stew.

Instead, she listened while he told her about Octavia’s talk with Murphy and blessedly didn’t ask for his opinion.

“At least she got to talk to him,” Lexa said. “She was going crazy over it.”

“Yeah,” he agreed.

“Has she told Clarke yet?” she asked casually.

Bellamy huffed a laugh. “I don’t know. You wanna beat her to it?”

“Not my story to tell.”

 

“Mmhm.” He smiled at her, reaching across the console to give her a nudge. “You got a thing for Clarke, Woods?”

 

Lexa scoffed. “Please.”

“That’s not a no.”

“I don’t know her, Bellamy,” she said, stoic. “So no.”

“Maybe you should get to know her.”

“You are not setting me up with your little sister’s friend.”

“But picture this.” Bellamy stopped at a stop sign and slowly inched forward, taking a left down another street. “What if I did?”

Lexa groaned dramatically. It was times like this that Bellamy remembered how young she was. It was sweet, really.

“We’re having a movie night at my apartment on Tuesday night,” he said. “Octavia is hosting. She’s introducing Lincoln to Jasper and Clarke.” He nudged her again and flashed a grin. “You should come.”

“Maybe,” she sniffed, and Bellamy knew her well enough to know it was a yes.

---

Tuesday found the Blake apartment full of friends. Clarke and Lincoln had hit it off almost immediately, launching into a conversation about Clarke’s pre-med classes. Jasper was a little tougher, seemingly cowed in the presence of such an intimidating man. But halfway through his first beer he built up the courage to ask about Lincoln’s bike, and everything went smoothly from there.

Lexa didn’t show up until they were all settling in to start the first movie. And she sat right between Bellamy and Clarke. Bellamy had left the space for her intentionally, of course. It was fun watching Lexa try to flirt, mostly because she was absolutely terrible at it. Her opening line, stunningly enough, was to ask if Clarke liked movies.

Clarke said yes, and immediately continued talking to Lincoln as if Lexa had never spoken. Lexa spent the next ten minutes pouting about it, before she tried again by commenting about something happening on the screen. The results were much the same, and Bellamy had to smother a laugh.

Lexa shot him a look. “This is your fault,” she murmured quietly. “This was a terrible idea.”

“You’re doing great,” he encouraged, eyes crinkled with mirth. “Give it a few hours and you’ll really get going.”

“I hate you,” she said calmly.

Lexa got another chance halfway through the movie, when the man on screen began stitching up a patient.

“Is he doing that right, Clarke?” Lexa asked.

“Not really,” Clarke admitted, turning her head to actually look at Lexa for the first time. “You see how he’s holding the needle? Like, that’s not even right. It should be like-” She looked away, frowning, before grabbing toothpick off the table. It had been abandoned there early in the night by Jasper, who had pulled it out of his sandwich and tossed it aside without looking back. “It should be like this, right?” Clarke demonstrated the proper hold, looking at Lexa for confirmation.

“Right,” Lexa said, staring at Clarke with what Bellamy could only define as open adoration.

“Right.” Clarke graced her with a smile. “So, he should be holding it like this. If you had a cut on your arm-” And here, Clarke grabbed Lexa’s arm, pulling it over to her lap.

Bellamy had to squash another laugh, covering his mouth with a curled hand.

“-like this.” Clarke made a cut gesture down the soft inside of Lexa’s arm. “Then, your doctor should stitch it up like this.” She mimicked the way a suture should really be performed, focusing intently on Lexa’s arm. “That way, the stitches would actually hold.” She looked up at Lexa again, smiling sweetly. “Does that make sense?”

“Yeah,” Lexa said, clearing her throat. “Yeah. How do you know all of this stuff already? You’re only in pre-med, right?”

“My mom’s a pediatrician,” Clarke said proudly. “I’ve been watching her work for years. She doesn’t really have to do that many stitches, but she taught me anyway.”

“That’s cool.” Lexa gave her a shaky smile.

“Right?” Clarke beamed.

Bellamy was sure he would be the best man at the wedding.

A few minutes into the second movie, Bellamy’s phone vibrated in his pocket, which was weird. Everyone he spoke to regularly other than Monty was currently in the room with him, and Monty wasn’t a late night kind of guy. He pulled it out, checking his messages.

12:09 AM, John
you said you’re off tomorrow, right?

Dread filled his stomach. He shifted a little, making sure no one else in the room could peek at his phone.

12:11 AM, Bellamy Blake
Yeah.

He tucked his phone between his legs. He couldn’t focus on the movie again, mind a constant beat of “Murphy, Murphy, Murphy.”

It buzzed again ten minutes later.

12:23 AM, John
how we gonna do this?

12:24 AM, Bellamy Blake
You tell me.

Someone was screaming on the television. Bellamy understood the sentiment.

12:40 AM, John
mbege is working. you can come to mine any time after seven.

Fuck, they were really doing this. Bellamy was really doing this.

12:42 AM, Bellamy Blake
Okay.

Murphy’s next reply came faster.

12:45 AM, John
sound more excited.

12:46 AM, Bellamy Blake
You know this isn’t fun for me, right?

It took awhile for Murphy to text him again. Bellamy’s nerves were on edge, afraid that he’d fucked up. Fucked up what, he wasn’t sure. What was Murphy going to do? Text Octavia?

1:07 AM, John
seemed like you had plenty of fun the other night

Bellamy huffed a laugh, ignoring the relief that flooded through him. Lexa gave him an odd look.

“What?” he murmured.

“You’re being weird,” she said firmly.

“Don’t you have other things to focus on?” he snipped.

Lexa flipped him off and looked back at the screen.

1:12 AM, Bellamy Blake
I’ll be there at 7:30

1:13 AM, John
oh goodie

Bellamy tucked his phone away and tried to get back into the spirit of the night, but if you asked him later what movie was playing, he wouldn’t have been able to say. He was distracted, anxious about the next night. He tried to ignore that under the anxiety, there was a flicker of excitement.

Everyone left around two thirty. Jasper was going down the hall to sleep over at the Green’s and Clarke, who hadn’t had a drop to drink, was headed home. Lexa cut her goodbyes with Bellamy short to walk out with Clarke, offering to escort her to her car.

“Some creeps around here,” Lexa explained.

“Okay,” Clarke said simply. Bellamy didn’t think he was imagining the flush on her cheeks.

When everyone else was gone, Lincoln lingered at the door. Octavia had skittered off to the bathroom, chanting “gotta pee” with all the class and elegance that Bellamy had raised her with.

“Officer Blake,” Lincoln began. He was holding his helmet in one hand, his jacket held in the other. He seemed nervous, which was far enough out of character for Lincoln that it peaked Bellamy’s curiosity.

“What’s up?” Bellamy tucked his hands into his pockets.

“I have a request. That I hope doesn’t cross any boundaries. I feel like you and I have been getting along well, and I don’t want to mess that up.”

Bellamy’s brows arched. “You’re not going to ask me for O’s hand in marriage, are you? Because I think it’s a little too soon.”

Lincoln laughed, directing a soft smile to the floor. “No, not yet.”

Not yet. Well if that didn’t just make Bellamy feel old as fuck.

“What do you need, Lincoln?”

“Octavia would like me to spend the night.” He looked up again. “And I’d like to. I know she doesn’t need your permission for most things, but this is your house-”

Bellamy huffed a laugh. “Technically, it’s hers. But go on.”

“I just wanted to know if you would be comfortable with me staying here. I don’t plan on making it a habit. I’m not looking for somewhere to crash, or to take advantage of your hospitality in any way.” Lincoln rubbed the back of his head with the hand holding his jacket, one eye squinting closed. “We just want to sleep together. Beside each other, I mean.”

“I know you guys have sex,” Bellamy said casually, and was incredibly amused by how that made Lincoln’s face flush.

“Yeah, well. I just mean.” Lincoln shook his head. “I just mean that’s not the reason I want to stay.”

“I’m just giving you shit.” Bellamy clapped a hand on his shoulder. “You can stay over, Lincoln, it’s fine.”

Lincoln relaxed, smiling at Bellamy again. “I really appreciate that.”

“Sure.” Bellamy nodded and turned away, heading for the stairs. “And Lincoln?”

“Yeah?”

“You can call me Bellamy. If you really want to.” He glanced over his shoulder.

Lincoln was smiling again, wider this time. “Alright. Goodnight, Bellamy.”

“Goodnight, Lincoln.” He laughed and headed up the stairs.

Bellamy was going to have to keep an eye on that one. If he wasn’t careful, he might end up liking the bastard.

---

Lincoln's request had provided a momentary reprieve from Bellamy’s worries, but by the next morning, his nerves were back at full force.

He thought about Murphy through breakfast, which Lincoln once again catered. He thought about him while he waited for the mechanics to change the oil in his car. He thought about him while he shopped for groceries. He thought about him while he edited Octavia’s paper for her English 1102 midterm. He thought about Murphy the whole day, until seven o’clock rolled around.

And then he went from thinking about him, to actively worrying about whatever he was walking into.

He hopped on the subway at a quarter past seven, already running late. He had argued with himself while he was getting ready, going back and forth about how nice he should look since this was sort of a sex date, despite it being under duress. But he also didn’t want to show up looking like he’d tried and give Murphy any ammunition against him. He’d settled, finally, on showering and wearing the same casual street clothes he would wear if he were meeting Lexa for dinner.

It still felt like too much, and he beat himself up about it all the way to the subway station. But once he had a seat, his mind wandered to more pressing issues.

The last time he had seen Murphy, he hadn’t really been kind. It wasn’t like Murphy had been particularly sweet either, but Bellamy liked to think he was better than that, as Murphy had been quick to point out. And even if it was Murphy, leaving as abruptly as he had after their last… encounter had been sort of shitty, no matter how you cut it.

But Bellamy had been pissed. He didn’t like being fucked around with and there wasn’t a word that came out of Murphy’s mouth that wasn’t meant to crawl under Bellamy’s skin. Murphy wanted to hurt him with everything he said and, clearly, with every touch.

Bellamy knocked at Murphy’s door at five minutes to eight, still wishing that he could turn back and forget any of this had ever happened.

Murphy opened the door after a few seconds. He looked comfy, in a pair of comfy sweatpants and a Metallica shirt with the sleeves ripped off, leaving gaping holes around his armpits. It wasn’t a bad look.

“You’re late,” Murphy greeted, before turning to walk back into the apartment, leaving the door wide open for him.

Bellamy followed him in, closing and locking the door behind himself. “I took the subway.”

“Cool. It runs every fifteen minutes, you could have been here on time.” Murphy grabbed an open bottle of water from the coffee table, chugging the rest of it.

Bellamy rolled his eyes, shrugging off his jacket. He hung it on one of the nails by the door, alongside a collection of what he assumed were Murphy and Mbege’s jackets. “Didn’t know you were so into timeliness.”

“Maybe I’ve got somewhere else to be after this.” Murphy threw his water bottle at the trash can right outside of their kitchen door, where it bounced off of the already full lid and fell to the floor.

“Yeah? You got big plans tonight?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know.” Murphy stopped in the doorway to his bedroom, leaning against the threshold. “We doing this?”

“Nice foreplay.” Bellamy stopped a few feet short of him, tucking his hands into his pockets. “You want to go over rules or something?”

Murphy’s brows shot up. “You need a handbook on how to fuck me?”

Bellamy felt a renegade flush rising up his neck. “No. I just- you don’t have anything that like, freaks you out?”

“You got a gimp suit on under those clothes?” Murphy smirked at him, slouching back against the doorway. He crossed his arms, obviously comfortable letting Bellamy squirm.

Brat.

“No.” Bellamy gave him an unamused look, digging his hands deeper into his pockets. “I just don’t want to accidentally like… I don’t know.”

 

“Trigger me?” Murphy teased.

“Fuck off.” Bellamy scoffed, looking down at Murphy’s arms instead of his face. “I’m trying to be nice.”

“I don’t like playing nice.”

Bellamy didn’t say anything, wondering again if it was too late to call this off. But then he thought about Octavia, about how excited she was to have the chance to be friends with Murphy again, and how all of that would go away if he chickened out.

“Nothing you do is going to bother me, Blake.” Murphy slid away from the door, walking into his room. “Just get in here and fuck me.”

Bellamy looked up again, watching Murphy stroll over to his bed, before gathering the courage to follow him. Murphy sat on the edge of his bed, toes curling against the grain of his carpet. When Bellamy stopped in front of him, hovering there, unsure of what to do, Murphy rolled his eyes.

“You need me to do everything for you? Just get down here.” He kicked a foot against Bellamy’s leg, spurring him on. “Come on, dude.”

Bellamy sat beside him. “Sorry I’m not moving at your speed,” he said, bitter. “This is just weird. You know that right?”

Murphy rolled his eyes again and shifted, climbing into Bellamy’s lap with one swift movement. “It’s only weird because you’re talking and not doing,” he said, before crushing his mouth against Bellamy’s with his usual, barely restrained violence.

Bellamy settled his hands on his hips, leaning up into the kiss after just a moment’s hesitation. It felt odd, kissing him like this. The first time had been passionate, the second time furious and this… it just felt awkward. Bellamy couldn’t find the rhythm, couldn’t match Murphy’s aggression.

After a minute or two of fairly underwhelming making out, Murphy leaned back to glare at him. He looked like an angry kitten. That was distracting, too.

“You’re thinking too much,” he complained.

“This is weird,” Bellamy reiterated. “I’m here as like, some kind of barely interested booty call.”

“Okay, I swear to Christ that if you imply that you think I’m ugly again, I will kick your ass.” Murphy leaned away from him a little bit, swollen lips twisting down into a grimace. “It’s not really a turn-on to hear how unwanted you are, you know. You agreed to this. It’s not my fault you’re such a pussy. You wanna sit here and talk about our feelings, Bell? You wanna go pick flowers before you put your dick in me?”

Bellamy almost missed the insult, distracted by the casual inclusion of his nickname. He didn’t respond, eyes moving across Murphy’s face. This really was the kid he had grown up with. This hate-filled little creature used to sleep in his house and eat his food. What the fuck had happened to him?

“Hey. Hey.” Murphy shoved his chest, voice rising. “Are you fucking listening to me, asshole?”

“I’m listening,” Bellamy said, meeting his eyes.

Murphy shoved him again. “Then fucking man up. Man up, Bellamy, I’m not here to talk. I want you to fuck me.” He reached down, squeezing Bellamy through his pants. “This isn’t about anything but sex, and if you can’t get it up for me, then maybe I’ll just go find your sister and ask her about it, how about that, you big, dumb son of a-”

Bellamy shut him up with a harsh kiss, one hand shooting up to grab him by the scruff. There it was, there was the anger. He could feel it again, heat throbbing under his skin. Fuck this kid, fuck his big mouth. Fuck him for thinking he knew shit about what Bellamy wanted.

Murphy broke out of the kiss with a laugh, arms circling Bellamy’s neck. “See? Was that so fucking hard?”

“Murphy, shut up.” Bellamy crushed their mouths together again. Murphy’s teeth came into play immediately, biting at his lips like he wanted to make him bleed.

It felt good.

Murphy was the one to break their kiss again, panting. In the light, his eyes were almost all pupil, only a sliver of pale blue left. “Off,” he demanded, tugging at Bellamy’s shirt.

“You first.” Bellamy grabbed onto his hips, grinding up against him. The noise Murphy made was deeply satisfying. Bellamy did it again. “Take it off.”

Murphy leaned away from him, stripping off his tank top in one swift movement. He had tattoos, Bellamy noticed. A liquor bottle on one side of his ribs, in dark bold lines, three x’s across the label. Another one on his left peck, just the lines of a small triangle. Bellamy leaned down, biting the skin around the shape just because he could. Murphy reached over his back, dragging his t-shirt up.

“Take it off,” he said again, insistent.

Bellamy leaned back, tugging his shirt off. Murphy rocked forward to kiss him again, one hand tangling into his hair. His other arm draped over Bellamy’s back, nails skating over Bellamy’s almost healed skin.

Bellamy slapped his thigh lightly in warning. “Careful,” he mumbled against his mouth. Murphy huffed a laugh, nipping Bellamy’s lower lip sharply.

“No,” he said, and did it again, nails cutting into his back harder this time.

Bellamy shifted, flipping him onto his back on the mattress. “You’re such a little fucker.”

“Do something about it.”

Bellamy rolled his eyes, frustrated with himself for making it so easy for Murphy to get a rise out of him. Everything the kid did was frustrating, like he’d been made specifically to press each and every one of Bellamy’s buttons. “Just take your pants off.” He rolled off of him, sitting up to unlace his boots.

“You’re no fun tonight.” Murphy undid his pants, arching up to push them down past his hips, before kicking them off across the floor.

“You’re never fun, what’s your excuse?” Bellamy grumbled.

“Rough childhood,” Murphy said snidely, before rolling over onto his stomach. “Come on, let’s get to it.”

Bellamy glanced over, eyes stopping on Murphy’s ass. It was the first time he’d gotten to see Murphy without pants on and he couldn’t deny that he liked the view. It really only pissed him off more. “You’re shameless.”

“You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Bellamy stood up to take his pants off, you know, like an adult, and was left staring down at Murphy on the bed, spread out before him, ready and willing.

But it felt weird again. The anger that Murphy had stirred up was cooling, leaving Bellamy wrong-footed. The truth was, Bellamy liked sex. And he liked to treat his partners well. This pattern they’d started, where the driving force behind their sex was anger, it didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel sustainable.

He’d been standing there long enough that Murphy looked back at him, eyebrows up again. “What the fuck are you staring at?”

Bellamy just shook his head, frowning a little. “Murphy,” he began, voice trailing off.

“Are you serious-” Murphy twisted onto his back again, looking up at him. “What’s your problem? Get down here.”

“It’s just… I don’t know.” He felt dumb, standing in the middle of Murphy’s room naked, half-hard with no idea how to proceed. Usually he would make a joke, kiss his partner again, get them ready nice and slow, but he had a feeling that Murphy wouldn’t be into that.

“Just-” Something crossed Murphy’s face, an emotion Bellamy couldn’t define, but it made his chest ache. He felt an apology try to escape his mouth, but he swallowed it down. Murphy didn’t seem like he would like an apology, definitely not right now. “Sit down.”

Bellamy nodded once and did as told, sitting on the edge of the mattress again. Murphy slid off the bed to sit between his legs, head bowed. He spat into a hand crudely and wrapped it around Bellamy’s cock, jerking him slowly.

“Hey, Murph, what are you doing-”

 

“Just shut up,” Murphy said quietly. He kept his head down, stroking Bellamy slow and tight. Bellamy’s body responded, growing under Murphy’s attention.

Bellamy hesitated, before setting a hand on the back of Murphy’s head, fingers weaving through his hair. It was clean, still damp at the roots like Murphy had showered right before Bellamy arrived. Murphy glanced up at him through his lashes before leaning forward, taking Bellamy into his mouth.

It was a visceral reminder of their first night together, and a moan ripped it’s way out of his throat before he could stop himself. His fist tightened in Murphy’s hair, rising and falling as Murphy moved over him. It was getting harder to focus on his worries, distracted by the feeling. He dropped his other hand down to gently touch Murphy’s cheek, feeling Murphy’s movement from another angle.

When heat began to tingle low in his stomach, he gave Murphy’s hair a gentle tug. “I’m gonna come,” he said quietly.

Murphy pulled off with a pop, looking up at Bellamy with eyes blown wide. “Not yet, you’re not.” He shifted up, climbing back into Bellamy’s lap with far less grace than before. “Get yourself together.” And then he reached down, one hand wrapping around Bellamy and guiding him between his legs.

It was enough to shock Bellamy out of his trance, hands shooting down to grip Murphy’s hips. “Don’t- you’re not, it’ll hurt-”

And then Murphy sank down on him slowly, walls slick and tight around him. The muscles in his thighs were trembling by the time he was fully seated, nails digging into Bellamy’s shoulders. Bellamy didn’t have the heart to chastise him this time, watching the pinched expression on his face.

“You’re already-”

“Did it in the shower before you showed up,” Murphy said curtly, and Bellamy felt the words deep in his stomach, hips jerking up unintentionally. Murphy clenched his teeth against a sound, hands flexing on his shoulders. His eyes were closed. Bellamy felt more than saw the shiver that ran through him.

Bellamy slid his hands up his back, soothing. “You okay?”

“Yes, I’m fucking okay,” Murphy snapped. He opened his eyes again to look at him, frustration evident. “I’m just wondering how much more I’m going to have to do before you just fucking do something. You’re so fucking useless. You’re, like, a baby, you can’t do anything-”

Bellamy held onto his waist and bucked up again, shutting Murphy up again with the motion. Murphy’s head dipped down against his shoulder, panting hot against his skin.

“I got it,” Bellamy said quietly, lips brushing against his ear. “You got yourself all ready for me, huh?”

Another shiver. Murphy’s hands slid down, gripping Bellamy’s biceps.

Bellamy rocked up again, anchoring Murphy on his lap. He couldn’t move much like this, but it didn’t seem to matter for Murphy, a quiet whimper escaping his throat.

“Were you that excited?” he asked, nose brushing against his hair. “You had to do it all yourself so you could throw yourself at me as soon as I walked in the door. Is that why you were mad I was late? Thought all your hard work was going to go to waste?” He rocked up again, eliciting another quiet sound from Murphy. “You’re just a fucking whore, huh?”

Murphy’s nails bit into his arms and he ground down, head lifting a little to lock eyes with him again. His hair was falling across his forehead, his teeth clenched like he was doing his best to keep himself under control. “Shut the fuck up.”

“Too close to home?” He rocked up again, watching Murphy’s eyelashes flutter, his mouth going half-open and soft. “Don’t want me to know how bad you want me?” Another thrust, another barely muffled keen. “You can’t fucking stand me, but you still want me so bad.”

Bellamy didn’t even know what he was saying anymore. He just knew he liked how Murphy was reacting, how a flush had taken over his face and chest, how he was gritting his teeth with barely repressed anger, but still couldn’t stop moving with Bellamy.

Fuck, there was something wrong with him.

Murphy’s nails scraped down his arms and Bellamy knew there would be marks in the morning. “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” he choked out.

“No? Then tell me what you want.” He squeezed Murphy’s hips, stopping him from grinding down again. “If I’m so wrong.”

“Just fuck me,” Murphy hissed, head lolling forward to roll against Bellamy’s shoulder. His skin was hot even against Bellamy’s, and Bellamy already felt like he was on fire.

“Already am,” Bellamy said, coy.

Murphy made a frustrated noise, muscles straining to move, to get some kind of friction. Bellamy wouldn’t let him.

“Come on,” Bellamy coaxed. “Say it. Say what you want.”

“Fuck me! Christ, Bellamy, just fuck me already. Fucking move, fucking give me something-”

Bellamy snapped his hips up again, grinning when it made Murphy whine. “Like that?”

“No, no, no, more- fuck, more, Bellamy. Pl-” Murphy’s teeth dug into his shoulder, cutting off his plea.

“What was that?” He ground up into him slowly. “What were you saying?”

“Fuck-” Murphy slapped a hand against his chest. “I said please, Bellamy, please move.”

“Was that so hard?” he mocked, mimicking Murphy from minutes before, before he flipped them over, pinning Murphy to the bed beneath him. Murphy stretched under him, immediately trying to urge him to move. “Ask me again.”

“You motherfucker, I’m gonna kick your ass- fuck you, fuck you,” Murphy hissed, pushing at his chest with one hand while trying to pull him closer with the hand still locked around his arm.

“Come on, Murphy,” he coaxed.

“Just fuck me, you asshole, just move-”

Bellamy slid his hands down Murphy’s sides to grip his thighs, lifting up onto his knees to get the right leverage to fuck into him. He went fast and hard, his own patience already paper thin. The first thrust elicited a yell from Murphy before he twisted his head, biting onto a mouthful of his blankets to shut himself up. Bellamy didn’t try to stop him, too busy chasing his own release to care what Murphy was doing now. He didn’t try to stop Murphy when he reached down to stroke himself between them, his body drawn bow tight beneath Bellamy.

It didn’t last long after that. Murphy came first, muscles clenching tight around Bellamy. Bellamy followed not long after, coming while Murphy was still relaxing from his own climax.

Bellamy slid out of him when he went soft, rolling over to drop beside him on the mattress. They were both panting, cooling down under the gentle breeze of Murphy’s ceiling fan.

Murphy broke the silence first, of course, to say, “It’s like pulling teeth with you.” He sounded exhausted, voice rough.

Bellamy hummed, questioning. Sleep was pulling at him, trying to draw him under, and he didn’t really care at the moment that napping was probably not allowed.

“You come in here,” Murphy continued, “Acting like you don’t even want to fuck me. I gotta drag it out of you fucking- fucking kicking and screaming.” He stopped talking for a moment to catch his breath, sounding as tired as Bellamy felt. “Then you pop off with that bullshit, talking to me like. Like I’m some kind of cumslut you picked up off the corner.”

Bellamy snorted, mildly amused by his crudeness. This kid truly had no tact, jumping right back into arguing as soon as he’d recovered enough to form sentences.

“Oh, fuck you,” he snapped, heatless. “It’s fucking insulting. That, I didn’t like that. If you’re making some kind of weird sex rule book, that goes right at the top. Fucking disgusting.”

“You liked it,” Bellamy mumbled, draping an arm across his eyes. He realized he hadn’t worn a condom and that that was something that definitely needed to be discussed. Bellamy didn’t want this arrangement to end with his dick falling off.

“Oh, fuck you, I liked it.” Murphy shifted on the bed beside him, wiping a corner of his sheet across his stomach to remove some of the mess. “I hated it.”

“Sure you did.”

“I did. You’re gross.” Murphy rolled over, smashing his face into his bed.

“Okay,” Bellamy hummed, consciousness slipping.

“Get out of my house,” Murphy grumbled.

“In a minute,” Bellamy replied, and then he was asleep.

Chapter Text

Murphy woke up cold and sticky.

He shifted slowly, body stiff, and sat up. His overhead light was still on and he had to squint against it. He glanced to his left, where Bellamy was still laying in all his naked glory, out cold.

Murphy rolled his eyes and stood up, leaning to grab his phone from the side table. It was nearly two-thirty. He had three unread messages from Mbege and an email from Jaha with their schedule for the upcoming week, like it ever fucking changed. Someone had tweeted something about a dog running for mayor and Chris Hemsworth had started a live video.

He dropped his phone on the bed, wandering into the bathroom. He glanced at himself in the mirror, inspecting the way his hair stood up in the back with a grimace. Great. He reached down between his legs, feeling how Bellamy’s cum had trickled down his thighs, already dry. He scratched at a patch, making a displeased noise when it tugged at his leg hair. Had to handle that.

He started the shower and climbed in for the second time that night. The water felt good on his tense muscles, helping him unwind. He braced one leg on the edge of his tub, rubbing the dried cum away from his thighs before sweeping two fingers into himself to rinse away any remaining mess. He winced, feeling a little raw despite the prep he’d put in before hand.

He got redressed when he got out of the shower, this time putting on a pair of gym shorts and a sweatshirt. No reason to put on anything real. He certainly wasn’t going out again tonight.

He shuffled into the kitchen without sparing a glance for Bellamy. He was still sprawled across the bed, snoring into the crook of his arm.

Sex was the only thing that really spurred Murphy’s appetite. Most days, the concept of food made him ill. Blame it on not having enough growing up, maybe, or maybe just on a general dislike of most foods. But after he came, he could usually pack it in and fill himself up for the next day or two until his stomach began demanding food again. He made himself two sandwiches with a side of leftover mac and cheese and ate it all standing at the counter in the dark.

He didn’t let himself think about Bellamy until the food was gone, washed down with a full bottle of water.

Bellamy hadn’t wanted him tonight. Murphy was sure. It made the food in his stomach turn. He slumped down on the couch, rubbing soothing circles on his belly underneath his shirt.

It was humiliating, how Murphy had thrown himself at Bellamy. He’d been so ready when Bellamy walked through the door, so ready for Bellamy to slam him into a wall and kiss him stupid again. He’d been anticipating the fire, the demanding way Bellamy guided his touch. He’d been ready to fight, ready to scratch and bite and thrash against him. It would have been good, so fucking good.

He hadn’t been ready to feel like a stranger in his own home. Bellamy had looked at him like he was seeing him for the first time, and what he saw, he didn't like. It was weird, he’d said. He was barely interested, he'd said.

He’d stood there, looking at Murphy laid out in front of him, fucking ripe for the taking, and he hadn’t even been hard. Murphy should have kicked him out. He definitely shouldn’t have coddled him the way he did, sucking him off just to get him hard enough to fuck, going down on his knees like some dumb slut too desperate to just let it go.

Murphy burped, and it tasted like battery acid.

Fuck Bellamy. Fuck Bellamy for getting him all worked up, for making him eager for it, and fuck him extra for making him feel worthless.

Murphy lurched off of the couch, anger propelling him into the bedroom. He ignored the way his eyes stung. “Hey. Bellamy, wake up.” He marched over to the bed, kicking the side of the mattress hard. “Wake the fuck up!”

Bellamy stirred, arm falling to the side. He squinted up at Murphy. “Hey,” he said, voice sleep rough.

“Get dressed,” he snapped. He kicked the bed again, cursing when he hit the box frame instead of the mattress. He stumbled back, leaning down to touch his foot.

“Be careful.” Bellamy sat up, rubbing his eyes. “What’s going on?”

“I want you to get the fuck up, and get the fuck out.” He’d broken a toenail on one of the boards of the boxspring. Great. That was just awesome.

“Slow down.” Bellamy held up a hand, trying to placate him.

Trying to fucking calm him down.

“Fuck off,” Murphy snarled, standing up straight again. “Put on your clothes and get the fuck out.”

“Is this because I fell asleep here? I’m sorry, dude, it just happened-”

“I don’t give a shit!” Murphy felt manic, heart thrumming so hard he could hear it, could feel it in his limbs. He grabbed Bellamy’s jeans off the floor, flinging them at him.

Bellamy caught them and stood up, fumbling to get them on. “Jesus Christ, Murphy, just calm down-”

Murphy threw a boot at him next. “Get out!”

“Fuck-” Bellamy caught the boot, just barely. “Fine! I’m going!”

Murphy just flung his other boot at him, then his shirt. “Get dressed outside. Get the fuck out.”

“Murphy-”

“Get out!” He got close enough to him to give him a shove, pushing him out of his bedroom. Bellamy pulled on his clothes quickly while still trying to shield himself from Murphy’s fists. He looked confused, brows furrowed. Like a puppy who didn’t understand why he was being slapped with a newspaper.

Like he had any fucking right.

“Come on, Murph, slow down, what’s going on-”

Murphy just kept shoving him towards the door, fists pounding against him. “Shut up-”

“Murphy, stop-” Bellamy stumbled to a halt in the middle of the living room, standing strong under Murphy’s blows. “What’s going on? Come on, stop it-”

“Shut up!”

The door opened behind Bellamy and Mbege stepped in, keys jingling in his hand. “What the fuck is going on, Murph, I could hear you screaming from the street-” He stopped just inside the door, staring at the scene before him.

Murphy recoiled, stepping back and away from Bellamy. “Nothing- it’s fine.”

Bellamy was looking at him, and fuck, why did he look hurt? Murphy was the one who was hurt, here, it was always him. What excuse did Bellamy have to feel anything?

“Murphy,” Bellamy said, soft. “Talk to me, what happened?”

“Get out,” Murphy hissed through his teeth, eyes jumping back to Mbege who was still watching.

“Did I do something?”

Murphy let out a high pitched laugh, taking another step back. “Fuck you.”

“Murphy-”

“Dude, you need to go,” Mbege cut in. He stepped back, holding the door open. “Seriously, get out of here.”

“Just give us a minute-”

“No,” Mbege said, firm. “You need to go.”

Bellamy looked back at him, then looked at Murphy again. “Please-”

Murphy spit at him, a glob landing right in the middle of his t-shirt. He didn’t say anything, trembling with rage. His nails bit into the tender flesh of his palms, but he could barely feel it, even when they dug deep enough to draw blood.

Bellamy stared at him for a long moment before shaking his head, taking a step back. “You’re fucked up,” he said quietly. “There’s something- you’re fucked up, Murphy.”

“Come on, man, get out,” Mbege said, still waiting at the door. Bellamy turned away and walked out without a backwards glance. Mbege shut and locked the door behind him.

“Murph,” Mbege began.

Murphy shook his head at him and waved a hand, turning away to escape into his bedroom. He shut the door behind him and fell back against it. He slid down the door, hands digging into his hair and pulling hard. Finally the wave of tears that had threatened for the last ten minutes began to fall. It went like that, for a while. He slumped all the way to the ground when he finally ran out of steam and stayed there, staring across his floor until he fell asleep, his mind blissfully empty.

---

The days that followed were a blur. He woke up with a shot of whiskey and drank through his shift, too fucked up by the end to clean up properly. He called Dax to pick up, getting a few pain pills with his weed. He let Dax fuck him, too, didn’t care that he was still tender from his round with Bellamy.

He took the pills as soon as he got home, and avoided Mbege’s searching eyes.

He blew off work the next day, claiming to be sick and knowing that Mbege would back him up. He drank and smoked all night instead, his phone off and stashed away in his bedside drawer.

He worked on Saturday, but by midnight, Bree and Mbege demanded that he leave. He wasn’t helping, and they didn’t want him working when he was such a disaster anyway.

Fuck them.

He didn’t let himself stop until Sunday, when he woke up and vomited blood. That was bad, he knew that. It meant his stomach was raw, meant that his throat was torn up from days of abuse.

He remembered his mother, and knew he needed to stop.

He flushed the pills he hadn’t gotten around to taking yet. He stashed away the rest of his weed in his and Mbege’s shared box. He moved the whiskey bottle that had migrated to his room back to the kitchen. He made himself eat a banana and a piece of toast, even though it made his stomach ache. He made himself drink a bottle of water, even though he already felt so full he might burst. He spent the rest of the day in his room, sleeping off his hangover.

When he woke up, he turned on his phone.

Wednesday, 11:42 PM, John #2
clint straight up busted it on his way to the bathroom dude. wish you could have seen.

Thursday, 12:02 AM, John #2
gonna grab something from the diner on the way home, want anything?

Thursday, 2:15 AM, John #2
at the diner now. didn’t get you anything but i got double fries, so we can share.

Thursday, 8:15 PM, king douche
That sucked, you know that?

Thursday, 9:32 PM, king douche
You’re really not going to say anything?

Thursday, 10:42 PM, John #2
bree said you’re drinking a lot tonight. you need me?

Friday, 3:15 AM, John #2
close late?

Friday, 3:22 AM, John #2
need me to come help close?

Friday, 5:14 PM, king douche
Are you still pissed?

Friday, 9:22 PM, DaX
got some more stuff if you’re interested.

Friday, 9:23 PM, DaX
you like perc?

Saturday, 12:53 AM, king douche
We should talk, Murphy.

Saturday, 10:32 AM, Breeeeeee
Are you working tonight? You think I can come in a little late? Studying for a test.

Saturday, 9:32 PM, king douche
I mean it.

Sunday, 12:32 AM, John #2
let me know when you get home.

Sunday, 12:46 AM, John #2
u there?

Sunday, 1:14 AM, John #2
murph?

Sunday, 1:42 PM, John #2
heard you this morning. u need anything?

Murphy stuffed his head under his pillow, holding his phone away from him for a while. He let himself breath, pushing away the urge to go into the kitchen and grab the whiskey and avoid everything for just a few more days.

Sunday, 5:22 PM, John #1
sorry, dude. i’ve been a shithead.

Sunday, 5:23 PM, John #2
just ordered pizza. come make it up to me.

Murphy made himself get up and slump into the living room. Mbege was waiting on the couch, flipping through the channels.

“Hey,” Murphy said.

“Silence of the Lambs is on. You wanna watch?” Mbege stopped on a channel, a commercial playing.

“Yeah.” Murphy dropped on the couch beside him, hesitating before shifting to push his toes beneath Mbege’s thighs. Mbege clapped him on the knee, stretching back on the couch.

“Still can’t believe Jodie Foster is gay now. Isn’t that wild?”

“Mbege, Jodie Foster has always been gay. Being gay isn’t wild.”

“No offense, man, you know I love you queers.”

Murphy kicked him, hiding a smile in the sleeve of his sweatshirt.

---

Sunday, 9:45 PM, John Murphy
deal’s off, bellamy.

Sunday, 10:15 PM, king douche
You don’t talk to me for almost a week and that’s all you’re gonna say?

Sunday, 10:43 PM, king douche
Murphy?

Sunday, 11:02 PM, king douche
What did I do?

Sunday, 11:19 PM, king douche
Does this mean you’re going to be a dick to Octavia again?

Sunday, 11:29 PM, king douche
Murphy, talk to me. What’s going on?

Sunday, 11:31 PM, king douche
Seriously, what’s going on?

Sunday, 11:32 PM, John Murphy
lay off, bellamy.

Sunday, 11:34 PM, king douche
At least tell me you're okay.

Sunday, 11:35 PM, John Murphy
if you text me again, i’m blocking your number.

Sunday, 11:36 PM, king douche
I just want to know what happened.

Sunday, 11:42 PM, king douche
Did I hurt you?

Delivery Failed. The number you have attempted to reach has changed or is no longer in service.

----

Murphy spent the next day watching television with Mbege. He ate half a bag of popcorn, and a piece of leftover pizza. He didn’t have a drink or take a hit while Mbege smoked a bowl. He burned through half a pack of cigarettes.

He felt better.

Mbege left around seven to go into work. Murphy was off, which was good. It gave him a little bit longer to finish sorting out his shit and remind himself that, no, he didn’t need to drink or be high to be okay.

He was dozing in the middle of a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air marathon when someone knocked at the door. He didn’t move at first, hoping that whoever it was would realize they had the wrong door or would just leave, anyway.

They knocked again.

Then again.

Murphy rolled off the couch with a groan and dragged himself to the door. When he opened it, Bellamy was on the other side.

Murphy immediately tried to close the door on him.

“Hold on- hold on, Murphy. I just want to talk-”

“Did I somehow not make it clear that I didn’t want to talk?” Murphy pushed against the door harder, pushing his shoulder into it. Bellamy resisted, pushing back with one arm.

“I know. You avoided my messages, you blocked me, I know but- I want to make sure you’re okay.” Bellamy didn’t let up, his eyes beseeching. “Please, Murphy.”

“If you want to know if I’m going to be nice to your sister, the answer is probably fucking not-”

“Don’t care about that right now. I just want to talk to you.”

Murphy gave him a narrow look through the gap in the door. Bellamy gave him a half-hearted smile.

“Fine,” Murphy said finally. He stepped back, letting Bellamy swing the door open. “Come in, I guess.”

Bellamy stepped inside, hesitating to close the door. He looked at Murphy for confirmation and Murphy rolled his eyes, reaching past him to shut the door himself. He turned away, walking back into the living room.

“What do you want?”

“I just want to see what’s going on. You kind of flipped the other night-”

“Strike one.” Murphy dropped down on the couch, grabbing the remote. He flipped off the television.

Bellamy stopped beside the couch, frowning. “What?”

“You’ve got three.” Murphy held up three fingers. “Before I kick you out.”

“Okay, but why was that one-”

 

“I didn’t flip out.”

Bellamy looked very much like he wanted to argue, but he bit back whatever he wanted to say. Instead, he gestured at the other end of the couch. “Can I sit?”

“Fine.”

He sat opposite Murphy, looking uncomfortable. Good. He should be uncomfortable. Murphy sure as fuck was.

“You didn’t flip out,” Bellamy said slowly. “But you were… upset. When you woke me up.”

Murphy narrowed his eyes at him and didn’t say anything. If Bellamy wanted to talk so bad, he could get to the point. And if he managed to insult Murphy two more times, then Murphy wouldn’t have to answer.

“I know I shouldn’t have fallen asleep here,” Bellamy allowed. One of his feet was bouncing, just a little, like he was trying to restrain some kind of nervous energy. “You told me to get out before I even fell asleep but it just… happened. Which isn’t a good excuse.”

“Nope.” Murphy popped the ‘p’ harshly and looked down, checking his nails idly. He wanted to look like he didn’t care what Bellamy had to say, because he didn’t. Or at least, he didn’t want to care.

“But your reaction when you woke me up- I wasn’t expecting that. I thought we had… fun?” Bellamy tried.

Murphy snorted, and didn’t reply.

“I know it was awkward, at first. It was a weird hook up.”

 

“Because you made it that way,” Murphy bit out, picking at a hangnail.

“Maybe I did.” Bellamy’s eyes were burning into him. It made the hair on the back of his neck stand up, and he did his best not to fidget. “But I still don’t understand your reaction.”

“Fine.”

“Murphy.”

Murphy’s jaw clenched and he ripped his hangnail off with a grimace. Bellamy didn’t say anything else, and the silence went on for long enough that Murphy couldn’t help but break, looking up at Bellamy with a frown.

Bellamy was watching him, brow furrowed in concern. It made Murphy feel like a child, or like Bellamy thought he was damaged, and he fucking hated it.

“Stop that.” Murphy looked away again, rubbing his sore finger against his sweatpants.

“I just want to know why you got upset,” Bellamy said, quiet. “If I did something, I want to make it better. This whole deal we made is… it’s fucked up. I shouldn’t have agreed to it, because it’s not fair to either of us.”

“It’s not fair to you, you mean,” Murphy muttered. He kept his eyes averted, looked down at his toes where they met the carpet. He should vacuum at some point, he thought. He should also probably buy a vacuum.

“Well, I am the one being blackmailed,” Bellamy admitted. “But neither of us should have to have sex when we don’t want to.”

“I know you didn’t want to. That’s fine.” Murphy nudged his big toe against an uncooked kernel of popcorn. “It’s over now, alright?”

“What do you mean?” Bellamy sounded honestly confused, and that was fucking rich.

“I ended the deal.” He looked up through his lashes. “I know you got that message, your read receipts are on.”

“No- I mean, what do you mean I didn’t want to?” Bellamy had shifted closer to him at some point, body angled to face him on the couch.

It made Murphy feel a little claustrophobic, if he was being honest.

“You didn’t want to fuck,” he clarified. He could feel heat creeping up his neck and appearing in itchy patches on his cheeks. He rubbed a hand under his nose, trying to hide his blush. He didn’t want it to be that obvious, how ashamed he was.

“Why do you think that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because you couldn’t figure out how the fuck to kiss me, or even get hard when I was fucking naked right in front of you. I had to fucking verbally assault you to piss you off enough to even hate fuck me.” Murphy lifted his head, happy to let Bellamy see his irritated glower. It wasn’t fair that Bellamy was making him explain himself. Murphy had done his piece, he’d called it off. This was like salt in the wound.

“I know how to kiss you,” Bellamy corrected.

“Okay, fuck, you didn’t want to.” Murphy ran a hand through his hair, fingers catching on small knots. His hair was dirty, he realized. Fuck, when had he showered last? Insult, injury.

“Murphy, hey.” Bellamy’s hand landed on his knee and he recoiled, jerking back against the arm of the couch. Bellamy lifted his hands immediately, holding them up defensively. “Sorry.”

“Whatever,” Murphy hissed. He rubbed a hand over the spot Bellamy had touched, swallowing.

“Murphy,” Bellamy repeated, and if Bellamy said his name one more time he was going to fucking scream. “I wanted to kiss you. I wanted to fuck you.”

“Don’t lie.” Murphy huffed a laugh, throwing a glance his way. “You could barely touch me.”

“Because I was nervous,” Bellamy said emphatically.

“Fuck off.”

“I’m serious.” Bellamy leaned forward, elbows braced against his own knees. “It was weird for me, walking in here for like, the express purpose of fucking you. Every other time just- happened, and the other night felt like some kind of weird business deal in comparison, okay?”

“Whatever, Bellamy. I get it, okay?”

Bellamy’s brows shot up, and Murphy looked away again, eyes dropping back to the carpet.

“What do you get?”

“I know I’m not much to look at and I’m sure my fantastic attitude doesn’t spark a lot of arousal, alright? Fuck.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I could tell how much you didn’t want to touch me, Bellamy, it’s fine. I just got freaked out because I- acted so fucking stupid. You obviously didn’t want me, and I just threw myself at you. Fuck. I was desperate, I was stupid, I was gross. I was really fucking mean. I’m fucked up, you said it-”

“Stop it, Murph,” Bellamy said, voice soft. “I wasn’t thinking any of that, okay?”

“Fuck off,” he repeated. He was flushed, shame turning to nausea. He was too nervous to look at Bellamy, hands clenching and unclenching in his lap.

“I’m serious.” Bellamy’s hand touched his leg again and Murphy tried to slap it away. Bellamy grabbed his wrist, dragging his hand over instead. He unfolded Murphy’s fingers slowly, forcing them to relax. “Look at me, Murph.”

“I’m good, thanks,” Murphy said through gritted teeth.

“Murphy.”

Murphy glanced at him from the corner of his eye, mouth twisting down into a scowl. “What.”

“I don’t think you’re gross,” Bellamy said calmly, his gaze unwavering. “I don’t think you’re stupid. I don’t think you’re desperate.”

“Fuck off.” Murphy tried to tug his hand away and Bellamy held on, his other hand lifting up to tilt Murphy’s chin up gently, forcing him to meet his eye.

“I don’t think any of that, okay?”

Murphy sniffed, jerking his head back and away from the touch. He searched Bellamy’s face for any hint that he was mocking him or lying to him.

He couldn’t find any. Bellamy’s face was open and honest, showing more concern than anything else.

“You don’t,” Murphy said, bland.

“No,” Bellamy confirmed. “You were kind of mean, but that didn't really bother me. You were trying to get me keyed-up, I get that.”

“Yeah. I just- kept trying to get you mad like you were at the bar last time.” He glanced away, uneasy.

“I get that. I didn't mind that, not really.” Murphy saw Bellamy shrug from the corner of his eye and looked at him again, calculating.

“You don’t think I’m desperate.”

“No.”

“You don’t think I’m gross.”

“No.” Bellamy’s lips quirked up.

“You don’t think I’m ugly.”

Bellamy’s brow lifted. “Was that a question?”

“Fuck you-”

“You’re not ugly,” Bellamy cut in. “Or stupid.” He paused for a moment, hesitant. “And I don’t think you’re fucked up. I shouldn’t have said that, I was just… I was upset too.”

Murphy scoffed, looking down at his hand, where Bellamy had it captured between them. “Sure.”

“I mean it,” Bellamy repeated, squeezing his wrist gently.

“So you just didn’t want to fuck me because?”

Bellamy rolled his eyes. “It’s not that I didn’t want to fuck you, dumbass. Did I seem like I didn’t want to fuck you when I was fucking you?”

Murphy glowered at him, trying to tug his hand away again. Bellamy didn’t let him. “You were an asshole while you fucked me.”

“Yeah, I was a little distracted.” Bellamy squeezed his wrist. “It was hot.”

“What?” Murphy jerked his hand again, not at all surprised when Bellamy held on this time.

“That you got yourself ready for me. That was hot.” Bellamy gave him a tug, dragging him closer on the couch. “I got a little caught up in it.”

“Yeah, right.” Murphy scoffed, leaning back.

“I’m serious.” Bellamy put a hand on the back of his neck, forcing Murphy to look at him again. “I liked that a lot.”

“Whatever,” Murphy muttered. He felt weird, being on the receiving end of so much positive attention from Bellamy. From anyone, really.

“And I like kissing you.” Bellamy squeezed the nape of his neck, fingers threading gently into his hair.

“I’m a good fucking kisser, you ought to,” Murphy snapped, instinctively trying to hide behind bravado.

“You’re right.” Bellamy squeezed his wrist again. “Deal’s off, right?”

“For fucks sake, yes, you are a horrible listener-”

Bellamy cut him off, swooping in to kiss him. It was softer than every other kiss they’d shared, Bellamy’s lips moving against his slow and sweet. He didn’t stay long enough for Murphy to catch up and kiss him back, pulling away as fast as he’d come.

“I like kissing you,” Bellamy repeated. “That’s not about the deal. That’s just an unfortunate fact I’m working on getting used to.”

Murphy searched his face again, and still didn’t find anything but calm concern and maybe a little bit of affection. Which was. Weird. “Why are you kissing me if it’s not about the deal?” he asked slowly.

“Because I like it.” Bellamy shrugged and released him, leaning back a little to give him some space. “I don’t think we should keep doing it, but you should know that I like it. I liked it the first time we hooked up, and the second, and I liked it last time too.”

“Oh,” Murphy said, dumbfounded.

 

“Yeah.” Bellamy shrugged.

“Fine.”

“Good.” A grin split Bellamy’s face, and then Murphy had to look away, not liking the way it made his stomach flip.

“Are you done making me talk now?” he groused.

“Yeah.” Bellamy kicked him lightly. “The deal’s off, so neither of us are obligated to do anything.”

“Fine.” Murphy scratched his cheek, glancing over. “...I’ll let Octavia keep talking to me,” he said, hesitant.

“Really?” Bellamy looked pleasantly surprised, the fucker. Murphy could be nice occasionally, thanks very much.

“Yeah.” He sniffed, slumping back in his seat. “If she acts like a dick, I’ll just know I was right.”

Bellamy snorted. “That’s fair, I guess.”

They sat there in silence for a while, before Murphy grabbed the remote, turning on the television again. “I’m watching Fresh Prince.”

“I’ll go, then.”

 

“What?” Murphy glanced over. “You got a problem with Will Smith?”

Bellamy watched him for a moment, like he was assessing him. “...no. I don’t.”

“You can stay if you want.” Murphy looked back at the screen, settling his hands on his stomach. “I don’t care.”

Murphy felt relieved for reasons he didn’t fully understand when Bellamy sank into the couch beside him, shrugging a shoulder. “I can watch one.”

“Thank you for gracing me with your presence,” he said blandly. Bellamy laughed and Murphy slowly relaxed, the tension between them seeming to fade into some tentative kind of comradery, at least for the moment.

Chapter Text

The night that Murphy kicked him out, the busses and subway system had been shut down for the night. Bellamy was left out in the cold, stranded on the sidewalk outside of Murphy’s apartment with his shoes in his hand and no idea how to process what had happened inside.

Lexa was not pleased to receive his call at fifteen past three in the morning, and had been even less excited by the time she'd arrived to get him. When Bellamy tried to apologize as he got into the car, she silenced him with a hand. “Tomorrow,” she said, voice sleep-raw and clipped. “And it better be good.”

She had not been pleased by any part of the story the following day, giving him the silent treatment for the rest of their shift following a very stern look and one command: “Fix your fuck-up.”

To his credit, he hadn’t known what his fuck-up was at the time. But that didn’t change the fact that Lexa was right. So Bellamy did it.

“I went to Murphy’s last night,” Bellamy began. He and Lexa had parked on the side of the road for lunch, idly watching for any egregious traffic violations.

“Did Murphy know you were coming over?” She popped a french-fry in her mouth, giving him a knowing look out of the corner of her eye.

Bellamy hesitated.

“No,” he said.

“Bell-”

“I had to, okay?” Bellamy slouched down in his seat, taking a sip of his soda. “I tried texting him all week, he wouldn’t respond.”

 

“Maybe he wasn’t ready to talk to you.”

“You don’t get Murphy. He’s never ready to talk.” He put his soda down, balling up his empty burger wrapper. “He didn’t respond until Sunday, and when I tried to ask him what was wrong he blocked my number.”

“Bellamy.”

“I had to make sure he was alright, okay?” He pointed at her with a fry. “You told me to fix it. How could I fix it if I couldn’t talk to him?”

Lexa squinted at him, then took a bite of her burger which he took as a cue to proceed.

“I went over, and he definitely didn’t want to talk to me when I got there, but he let me come in and get it out.” He looked out over the dashboard, scratching the back of his neck. “It… sucked,” he said finally.

“What happened?”

“First of all, he sucks at talking. It’s like trying to soothe a feral animal.” He glanced over briefly. “But I guess he had a good reason.”

“Why’d he flip out?”

“He thought I didn’t want him.” Bellamy shrugged, looking down into his fry box. “You know how I said I was really apprehensive going in? He read that like I didn’t want him. That I thought he was gross.” And stupid, and ugly, and desperate. It still blew Bellamy’s mind, that Murphy could have believed any of those things. “-and fucked up,” Bellamy added with a wince. “But that one was definitely my fault.”

“Did you apologize?”

“Yeah.” He dropped the rest of his fries into the bag, folding it closed. “We called the deal off.” And Bellamy had kissed him again anyway. Which he certainly wasn’t going to admit.

“Good.” Lexa took a sip of her shake. “What’s that mean for him and O?”

“He said he’d try and be nice to her, but if she acts like a bitch, that’s on her.” Bellamy rolled his eyes. “Which is the approach he could have taken from the very beginning, but no way was I gonna I tell him that.”

“Yeah, because he seems like a real rational kid who would do that without any resistance,” Lexa said blandly.

Bellamy snorted and didn’t investigate the fondness he felt blossom in his chest. “Got me there.”

---

It was over a week before Murphy came up again.

In all fairness, a day hadn’t passed where Bellamy hadn’t thought about him. Sometimes it was just because his patrol took him to the southside and he caught himself looking for him on the street. Other times, it was late at night and he caught his mind wandering to Murphy, wondering what he was doing, and what they could be doing together.

But he’d meant it when he said they weren’t a good idea. Hooking up with Murphy wasn’t smart, because nothing had changed. He was still Octavia’s friend, he was still too young, there was still too much bad blood between them. It didn’t matter that they’d slapped a bandaid on their newest wounds.

It was Octavia who brought him up again.

“You’re off tomorrow, right?” she asked. She had made dinner when she got home from class, surprising Bellamy when he got off work. They had finished up a few minutes before and were working on cleaning up the kitchen together.

Bellamy should have known she wanted something.

“Yeah,” he said, focused on rinsing off their plates before putting them in the dishwasher. “Why?”

“I’ve been texting Murphy.”

Bellamy almost dropped a plate, heart rate skyrocketing. He took a deep breath through his nose before replying. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. Lincoln got his number for me.” She tucked their leftovers into the fridge, glancing over at Bellamy. “So, we’ve been talking a little bit. He takes forever to respond, it’s crazy, but he agreed to get drinks with me tonight.”

Bellamy gave her a quick smile, cutting off the sink. He dried his hands on a kitchen towel. “That’s good, O. I’m glad you’re getting to talk to him.”

“Yeah.” She leaned against the fridge, hanging onto the handle. “I asked him if it would be okay if you came.”

“Octavia.” Bellamy sighed, rubbing a hand over his face. There it was. The other shoe.

“Come on, Bell, please? You’ve got to see him!” She stepped over, grabbing onto his arm. “You’re not going to believe how grown up he is.”

Bellamy strangled back a laugh, shaking his head. “No, that’s okay. You guys should spend time together-”

“He said it would be cool if you came! Please, Bell? Please?” She hugged his arm close, sticking out her lower lip dramatically. “I already told him you were coming. I don’t want to disappoint him.”

 

“I’m sure he won’t be disappointed if I miss it.” He wiggled his arm a little, half-heartedly trying to escape her grip. He knew better than to think this was actually an argument he could win.

“Don’t make me look like a liar.” She head-butted his shoulder affectionately. “Anyway, you’ll have a good time! He’s really funny.”

“You thought he was funny when you were little too.” Bellamy wrinkled his nose.

“He was.”

“Sure.”

“Come on!” She patted his chest. “Go get ready, we’re supposed to meet him at ten.” She let him go and skittered up the stairs, not leaving him an opportunity to refuse again.

Bellamy rolled his eyes and headed upstairs after her, pulling out his phone.

8:22 PM, Bellamy Blake
You’re cool with me coming out tonight?

8:25 PM, John
she asked

8:26 PM, Bellamy Blake
I can come up with an excuse.

8:32 PM, John
yeah but it’s not like we can avoid each other forever. just come, we’ll pretend we’ve never seen each other before, i’ll drink you both under the table, and we’ll call it a night.

8:35 PM, Bellamy Blake
Fine, see you soon.

8:36 PM, John
Whoo-hoo.

---

They took the subway to the southside and headed straight to City Lights. Octavia had spent thirty minutes switching outfits, more nervous about their drink date with Murphy than she had been about any actual date she had been on since she was sixteen. In the end, Bellamy had agreed to dress down, so they both went comfortable over fashionable.

Octavia, of course, still looked more like she belonged on a runway than in a dive bar even wearing plain jeans and a magenta and orange striped sweater, but Bellamy wasn’t intending to point that out.

Murphy was waiting inside when they arrived, seated at the bar. He looked like he’d showered before heading down, outfitted in all black with his damp hair swept back. Bellamy was pleased to notice that he looked a little healthier than the last time he’d seen him, color back in his face and a little bit of the spark back in his eyes.

“Hey, Murph,” Octavia greeted, waving at him as they approached.

Murphy looked up, one hand wrapped around a beer bottle. He smirked at her, jerking his head in a silent greeting.

“Murph, Bellamy. Bell, Murphy,” she introduced, gesturing between them. Bellamy could see how excited she was to reintroduce them, noticed the slightly anxious way her eyes bounced between them, like she was scared they weren’t going to get along.

Bellamy was going to hell for this.

“Hey,” Murphy drawled, a crooked grin on his face. He gave Bellamy a once-over, the same way he had the first night they met at the bar.

Bellamy ignored the heat at the back of his neck, lifting a hand slightly in greeting. “Hey. Long time, no see.”

Dumb. That sounded dumb. And from the look on Murphy’s face, he thought so too.

“Surprised you recognize me,” he said casually, tapping his beer on the counter. “Last time you saw me I was thirteen and I punched you in the face.”

“You what?” Octavia squawked, throwing herself into the stool beside Murphy. Bellamy sat on her other side, grateful for the distraction. He nodded at Mbege, who was staring at him from down the bar. Mbege gave him a narrow look and turned away, walking over to talk to Clint and Merv.

“Oh, he didn’t tell you?” Murphy leaned forward, brows up. “After you guys moved, when Bellamy came to give me the what-for about blowing you off, I got a little mad and just-” He punched the air, making a loud clicking noise with his tongue. “Right in the jaw. He fell down.”

Bellamy scoffed. “I did not. I barely felt it.”

“Yeah right. He started crying immediately, just-” Murphy made a dramatic face, whimpering mockingly.

“You’re such a liar.” Bellamy slumped back in his seat.

“That sounds like him,” Octavia said seriously. “You should have seen the waterworks when I told him I lost my virginity.”

“I did not-”

“Tell me everything,” Murphy said seriously, leaning towards her.

“So, it was this guy Atom-”

“Adam?”

“No, A-tom.”

“That’s dumb.”

“Oh, you don’t even know.”

They spent the next hour exchanging stories. Most of Murphy’s included barely evading arrest. Most of Octavia’s included Bellamy crying and were all absolute lies. Bellamy chimed in now and then to correct Octavia, but for the most part he let them talk. At some point, Mbege appeared and gave them both a beer without actually asking what they wanted, and when Octavia tried to request a vodka soda instead, Mbege walked away like he hadn’t heard her at all.

“Don’t mind him.” Murphy smirked. “He just doesn’t like you.”

Octavia frowned, glancing after him. “Why?”

“I’ve kind of desecrated your character to him for the last five years.” When Octavia made an offended noise, Murphy nudged their shoulders together roughly. “You were a bitch.”

“You’re a bitch,” she grumbled. Murphy barked out a laugh, knocking their beer bottles together.

Around eleven-thirty, Indra arrived with Anya. Octavia excused herself to go speak to them, bounding across the room.

“Thank you,” Bellamy said, once she was out of earshot.

“For what?” Murphy drained the last of his beer. He’d been nursing the same bottle since they arrived, even though Bellamy and Octavia had finished three and two respectively.

“You’re being nice to her. It’s nice, seeing you guys like this.” Bellamy shrugged.

“Don’t get sappy on me.” Murphy rolled his eyes, combing his fingers back through his hair. “It’s easy to bullshit with her. Always has been.”

“You’re both little shitheads,” Bellamy said, insult softened with affection.

“Yeah,” Murphy agreed, looking over at him. Then he smirked, tipping his head to the side. “Long time, no see,” he mocked.

“Fuck off.” Bellamy huffed a laugh. “I didn’t know what to say.”

“You’re the worst liar I’ve ever met.”

“I don’t lie to her a lot, okay?” Bellamy wrinkled his nose. “I had to explain what a period was to her, we don’t have a lot of boundaries.”

“First of all, gross.” Murphy pointed at him with the neck of his bottle. “Second of all, how do you think this is going to work if you can’t keep it together?”

“After tonight, it’ll be easy. She knows we’ve seen each other now.”

“Mmhm,” Murphy hummed, obviously not convinced.

Mbege appeared in front of them, leaning against the bar in front of Murphy. He nodded towards his bottle wordlessly.

“I’m good.” He knocked his knuckles against Mbege’s. “Thanks.”

“Yeah.” Mbege shot Bellamy a look, catching him staring. “What are you looking at?”

“Uh- nothing. Sorry.” Bellamy looked down at his bottle, rubbing a hand over the back of his neck.

“Fucking watchdog,” Murphy said affectionately. “Take it easy, number two.”

“Shit list,” Mbege said simply. He knocked his knuckles against Murphy’s before heading back down the bar to tend to other customers.

“He doesn’t like me too much, huh?” Bellamy asked, looking up at Murphy. Murphy just smirked at him, tossing a peanut into his mouth from the bowl Mbege had left behind.

Octavia returned, sliding into her seat. “Sorry, I just wanted to say hi to them.”

“It’s cool.” Murphy knocked his empty bottle against hers. “Finish your drink, I’m ready to go.”

“Oh.” Octavia frowned at him. “Okay. This has been fun-”

“Don’t get all mopey, I was gonna ask if you guys wanted to come back to mine and smoke.” Murphy rolled his eyes, flicking her leg. She flicked him back, making an offended sound.

“You could have said-”

“You could have listened,” he said snidely. He looked over at Bellamy, head tipping. “You down?”

“I’ll go with you guys, yeah,” Bellamy agreed, smiling faintly.

“Awesome. Beers are on you.” He stood up, grabbing Octavia’s hand to pull her from her stool. “We’ll be outside. C’mon.”

“Thanks, Bell!” she called, grabbing onto Murphy’s arm and following him out of the bar.

Bellamy opened his mouth to protest, but they were already practically outside.

“Fuckers,” he mumbled, fishing his wallet out of his back pocket. He looked up to call Mbege over, but the boy was already standing right in front of him. Bellamy jerked back in his seat a little, surprised. “Shit- sorry, you scared me.”

“I don’t like you,” Mbege said bluntly.

Bellamy stared at him for a moment, slowly lowering his wallet to the bar. “Right. I picked up on that.”

“I don’t like that you’re still hanging around with Murphy. You and your sister fucked him up real good already.”

“Look, that was-”

“Don’t care.” Mbege leaned forward against the bar, staring him dead in the eye. “He’s my family. You fuck with him, you fuck with me. Got it?”

“Got it,” Bellamy said, nodding a little. “Not planning on it.”

Mbege just stared at him, sizing him up across the bar. “Good.” He held out a hand. “Money.”

Bellamy handed over his card wordlessly. When Mbege returned it with his receipt, he left a fifty percent tip and cut out before Mbege returned for his signed ticket.

---

Octavia and Murphy were waiting for him on the curb outside of the bar. Murphy was smoking and Octavia was holding a lit cigarette, looking very much like she had no idea what to do with it.

Bellamy slipped it out of her hand and took a drag, stealing it for himself. And to stop her from looking too incredibly dumb when she was trying so hard to seem cool. “Where are we going?” he asked.

“My apartment,” Murphy answered, openly amused by Bellamy’s thievery.

“Okay,” Bellamy said, remembering a half-second later that he wasn’t supposed to have any idea where that was. “Which is where?” he asked quickly. He tried to hide his haste with another drag.

Octavia didn’t notice, but Murphy did. He smirked at him around his cigarette, jerking his head to the left. “‘Bout a block this way.”

“Oh, that’s close.” Octavia glanced at Bellamy, reaching out to try and take the cigarette back from him. He gave her a look and she dropped her hand, shooting him a quick, discreet bird.

“Yeah.” Murphy snorted at them and headed down the sidewalk. Octavia and Bellamy followed.

They made it to his apartment in under five minutes. Bellamy hung back carefully, making sure he didn’t make it obvious that he knew exactly where they were going. Murphy unlocked the door and led them inside.

“You live here with Mbege, right?” Octavia asked. She set her purse on the floor beside the couch, looking around curiously.

“Yeah.” Murphy glanced over at Bellamy, winking at him. Bellamy shook his head at him, clearing his throat to cover a smile.

“It’s a nice place,” he complimented.

“Thanks. Decorated it ourselves.” Murphy sat down on the couch, pulling a small tin Batman lunch box off of the bottom shelf of their coffee table.

“It’s very Spartan,” Bellamy teased.

“Bell.” Octavia gave him a shove and sat down beside Murphy. “Don’t be a dick.”

“Just saying.”

“We like to live like we’re ready to split town at any given moment,” Murphy drawled. He flipped the lunchbox open and pulled out a small blue and green glass bowl, then a shiny red grinder. He twisted it open, practiced, and peeked inside. He tipped the catcher out onto a folded piece of paper that had also been stashed in the box, carefully funneling the weed into the empty bowl.

Bellamy had to look away, weirdly aroused by the methodical, practiced way his hands moved.

“You ever smoke before, princess?” Murphy asked.

“Um, yeah. My friend Jasper grows-” She cut herself off, looking up at Bellamy guiltily.

Bellamy shook his head, sitting on her other side on the couch. “I know Jasper grows his own shit. He’s not subtle.”

“I feel, like, really bad for doing this in front of you,” she admitted.

Bellamy shook his head. “It’s fine. I really don’t care.”

“You partaking, officer?” Murphy arched a brow at him.

“Don’t think so.” Bellamy smiled faintly. “Drug tests.”

“Mmm. Too bad.” Murphy fished his lighter out of his pocket and took the first hit before passing it over to Octavia. She gave Bellamy another guilty look before she took the lighter.

Murphy exhaled slowly and picked up the television remote, flipping it on. “We should watch something,” he said, voice a little bit deeper as the last of the smoke crawled out of his throat.

“We should-” Octavia choked on her words, coughing. Tears gathered at the corner of her eyes and she flushed, embarrassed. Bellamy rubbed a hand on her back, turning his head to the side to hide a smile.

“Oooh, I smoke weed all the time,” Murphy teased, taking the bowl out of her hands with a flourish. “I’m a professional. I’m a dope connoisseur.”

“Fuck you,” Octavia wheezed, covering her face with her hand.

Murphy snorted and took another hit before setting the bowl and lighter on the table.

“I was saying-” Octavia cleared her throat, rubbing the sleeve of her sweater under her eyes. “That we should watch an old movie, like.” She winced, one last cough forcing its way out. “Like something we used to watch.”

“Like what?” Murphy relaxed back on the couch, eyes hooded.

“I don’t know.” Octavia frowned at him. “Maybe…”

Then suddenly, in sync, they said, “The Little Mermaid,” and cascaded into giggles, Octavia grabbing onto Murphy’s arm.

“Okay, okay, okay.” Murphy grinned, clicking from cable to Netflix. “That’s good. Let’s do that-”

“Oh my God, do you remember? You remember how many times we watched that?”

“Like, constantly, how could I forget.” Murphy glanced over at Bellamy. “There’s some beer in the fridge, if you want,” he offered.

Bellamy nodded and got up, going into the kitchen to grab one for himself. He flipped on the light, inspecting the kitchen curiously. He’d never gotten to see this room. It was small, and honestly reminded him a lot of the kitchen of the house he’d grown up in. He opened the fridge, leaning down to grab a beer. There wasn’t much else inside, really, beyond a half-empty gallon of milk and various takeout containers.

It made him a little sad.

When he made it back to the living room, the opening credits of the movie were already playing. Octavia and Murphy were slumped back on the couch together, Octavia’s head tipped to the side against his shoulder.

“Bell,” she said, just a little whiny. “Turn off the light so we can watch the movie better.”

 

“You’re such a nerd,” Murphy mocked.

“What are you talking about?” she wrinkled her nose.

“You’re so high.”

“Am not!”

“Oookay.” Murphy laughed. Bellamy obediently turned the light off and sat on Octavia’s other side. He cracked open his beer, tossing the cap onto the table.

“So we’re really watching this?” he asked.

“Duh,” Octavia and Murphy said together.

“You didn’t get enough of this when you were twelve? I get nostalgia, but-”

“Shut up, it’s starting,” Octavia interrupted.

Bellamy counted it as a loss and settled in to watch.

Thirty minutes into the movie, Murphy spoke up. “She’s asleep,” he said, quiet.

Bellamy looked over. Octavia had snuggled back into her cushion, arms crossed over her stomach and head bowed forward. He smiled fondly, nodding a little as he turned his eyes to Murphy. “Yeah. Happens every time she gets high. One hit and she’s out.”

“Wish you’d said that earlier. What a waste.” Murphy leaned forward and picked up the bowl, taking another hit. He sat back on the couch again, holding the smoke in his lungs. He tipped his head to the side to look at Bellamy, inquisitive.

Bellamy hadn’t even realized he was staring.

Murphy smirked at him and blew a steady stream of smoke in his direction over Octavia’s head. Bellamy waved a hand to disperse it, huffing out a laugh.

“What?” Murphy murmured.

“Nothing.” Bellamy wasn’t sure why he didn’t look away.

“You’re staring.” Murphy tipped his head to the side against the back of the couch, staring right back at him.

“Am not,” Bellamy lied.

“Mmhm.” Murphy rolled his eyes, glancing at Octavia before looking back at him. “Go out for a smoke?”

Bellamy nodded. Murphy stood first, careful not to shake Octavia. Bellamy followed him out the front door and onto the stoop.

Murphy didn’t speak until he’d lit a cigarette for himself and given one to Bellamy. He wouldn’t let Bellamy have the lighter, stepping close to light it for him. After it was lit, he stayed close for a minute, looking up at Bellamy with bloodshot, hooded eyes.

“What?” Bellamy asked, quiet.

“Nothing.” Murphy finally stepped away, leaning against the railing. Bellamy leaned beside him, and they smoked in silence, gazing down at the empty street.

“Your mom died, right?” Murphy said after a while. Bellamy looked over at him sharply, alarmed by the sudden morbid topic. Murphy was looking at him, expression passive.

“...yeah,” he said after a moment. “She… died.”

“What happened?” Murphy took a drag, blowing the smoke off to the side. He didn’t look away.

Bellamy rubbed his knuckle across his nose, looking back out at the street. “We shouldn’t talk about that.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t like thinking about it,” Bellamy said, honest. It hurt to remember that day, the way it had looked when-

No. He didn’t want to think about it.

“It happened at your old house, right?” Murphy’s elbow nudged against his. “But it was after you guys moved.”

“Yeah.” Bellamy couldn’t bring himself to say anything else, closing his eyes against the memories.

“I was there,” Murphy said. “I was at the bodega and someone- some guy, he said that the Blakes were back. Said he saw you guys on the porch when he walked past.” Murphy’s elbow was insistent against his, his whole arm pressed against Bellamy’s. “I- I thought maybe…” He trailed off for a moment and cleared his throat. “I thought maybe you guys were moving back. So I walked down after I bought a soda and. I saw the cops bring you out. Then I saw the paramedics go in and come out with someone on a gurney and I was scared it was Octavia, but I knew the shape was too big.” He stopped, taking another pull from his cigarette. He flicked the butt into the street and a small part of Bellamy wanted to chastise him for littering, mind weakly searching for anything to grab onto, anything but this. “I saw you. You looked…” Bellamy heard, more than saw him bite his lip. “You looked so broken. I wanted to go talk to you, but I was still so… mad. And I didn’t think the paramedics would let me, so....”

Bellamy finished his cigarette in one long pull, wincing at the way the smoke burnt his lungs. He dropped the butt over the railing, exhaling. “I didn’t realize you were really there,” he murmured. “I saw you. But I thought I imagined you.”

“No,” Murphy said quietly. “I was there. I saw you.”

“I saw you,” Bellamy repeated. He cleared his throat, bowing his head forward. “Mom. She killed herself.”

“I saw it in the paper.”

Bellamy nodded, rocking forward against the railing. “Yeah. She called me to the house that afternoon and just… she was drunk, cracked, you know?”

“Yeah,” Murphy said. His hand slid over, covering Bellamy’s on the railing.

“We went inside and she pulled a gun. I tried to talk her down, but I couldn’t. Think she was just really set on it.” Bellamy focused in on Murphy’s touch, letting it ground him. It reminded him that he wasn’t there, he was with Murphy. That had been years ago, it wasn’t now. It was over. “She shot at me, once, or at the floor by me. I don’t know if she wanted to hit me or not. But it made the cops come. They almost made it in time.”

Murphy didn’t say anything to that, and Bellamy was grateful. He pushed the memories back down, packing them back into that box that he never touched. When it felt safe, when everything was back where it should be, he turned his hand, lacing his fingers through Murphy’s gently, letting their hands hang over the edge of the railing.

“My mom killed herself too,” Murphy said quietly. Bellamy looked up at him, surprised. Murphy didn’t look upset, face impassive as he stared down at the concrete. “Not like that, I mean. But she did. Drank herself to death, ya know?” He turned his head to look at Bellamy, a sardonic smile twisting his mouth. “I came home one day and found her dead on the couch. Drowned in her own vomit. The cops said she’d been there for at least a day. Shit herself and everything.”

“How old were you?”

“Fifteen.” Murphy shrugged a shoulder, mouth relaxing back into a neutral line. “I thought about the day I saw you. Made me mad I didn’t go talk to you. I wish you’d been there with me.”

Bellamy squeezed his hand instinctively, felt his face crumble into a frown. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly.

Murphy shook his head, nudging their shoulders together. “You were already long gone.”

“We shouldn’t have left you.” Bellamy swept his thumb across his knuckles tenderly, aching to make up for the pain they’d- for the pain that Bellamy had left him to suffer alone.

“But you did.” Murphy smiled lazily, tipping his head to the side. “Can’t change that.”

“I wish I could,” Bellamy said, fervent.

“That’s sweet.” Murphy lifted his hand, pulling it towards his mouth like he was going to kiss Bellamy’s knuckles. He hesitated at the last moment and lowered their hands back to the railing before releasing Bellamy entirely. He turned to walk back inside, steps weaving just slightly. Bellamy followed him, closing the door softly behind himself.

“I’m tired,” Murphy said quietly, glancing back. “Can you wake Octavia up, maybe get her to go home-”

Bellamy grabbed his arm gently, pulling him back into the alcove by the door and into a hug. Murphy went tense against him, arms hanging at his side. “I’m sorry,” Bellamy murmured again, mouth pressed against his shoulder.

Murphy went slowly pliant, wrapping his arms loosely around Bellamy’s waist. “Just wanted you to know I saw. Been thinking about it.” Murphy patted his back. “Don’t get all sappy.”

“Shut up.” Bellamy squeezed him a little tighter and smiled when Murphy dropped his head against his shoulder. “Brat.”

“Asshole.” Murphy pinched his side lightly, leaning into him.

Bellamy released him when he felt like the hug was going too long, getting too intimate to be friendly. He ran his hands lightly down Murphy’s sides as he stepped back, clearing his throat. “I’ll get Octavia?” he offered.

Murphy nodded, looking down. “Yep.”

It was incredibly hard to step away.

Bellamy woke Octavia up, helping her to her feet when she finally began to stir. She gave Murphy a big hug, mumbling sleepy goodbyes into his shoulder before she let Bellamy guide her out. Murphy closed the door behind them without sparing a glance for Bellamy.

Bellamy tried not to take it personally.

Octavia held his hand all the way to the subway station, and once they were seated on their train, she leaned against his shoulder, arm weaving around his. “You know what’s funny?” she said, eyes closed.

“Mm?” He looked out the window, watching the cement tunnel as it flew by. His mind was a mile behind them, stuck on Murphy.

“When we were little, Murphy liked you.” She picked at his sleeve, eyes still closed.

“He was a cool kid,” Bellamy agreed idly.

“No, like.” She hummed, looking up at him. “You know he’s gay, right?”

“What? No, I didn’t know.” He looked down at her.

“Yeah, I think he’s always been. I mean, like, he's always known.” She closed her eyes again, nuzzling against his shoulder. “He told me once. That he had a crush on you.”

It felt like his heart was being squeezed. He cleared his throat, shifting to try and get rid of the uncomfortable feeling. “Yeah?”

“Mmhm. He said it was your stupid face.” She smiled against his shoulder. “Isn’t that cute?”

“Yeah.” Bellamy looked back out the window, blinking against the passing blur. “That’s cute.”

“Don’t tell him I said anything. We pinky-promised.”

“Alright,” he agreed.

They didn’t say anything else for the rest of the ride, and Bellamy let his mind wander away again, thinking about the boy he’d left behind tonight, and the boy he’d left behind years before.

Chapter Text

“So,” Mbege said, “They’re your friends again.”

Murphy looked over at Mbege on the couch beside him. It was nearly two in the afternoon, so naturally they were settling in for cartoons and cereal, the morning tradition. Murphy waited for him to continue, and when he didn’t, Murphy said, “What the fuck are you talking about?”

Mbege arched a brow, chin folded unnaturally low on his chest from how deep he was sitting on the couch, his bowl settled in the middle of his chest. “Rich Bitch and her brother,” he clarified. He scooped up a heaping spoonful of cereal, shoveling it into his mouth.

Murphy made a face at him, resisting the urge to flip his bowl right into his face. “What? No.”

“Okay,” Mbege said, words muffled by his full mouth.

“You got something to say, say it.” Murphy took bite of his cheerios, looking back at the screen. Mbege wasn’t the only one around here who could be aloof.

“You been hanging out with them a lot.”

“I have not.” Murphy snorted.

“Three times last week. Two the week before that. Like three days in a row the week before that-”

“You keepin’ tabs on me?” Murphy gave him a look. “What are you, my parole officer?”

Mbege rolled his eyes, flipping him off. “I’m just saying. I thought you didn’t like them.”

“I didn’t. Stuff changes.”

“You always said how they abandoned you,” Mbege pointed out. “So what, they decide to pick you up again and everything's cool?”

“I got over it.”

“You. Got over it.”

“It’s been known to happen.” Murphy took another bite of his cereal, irritated by the texture of the loops. Too soggy. Gross.

Mbege snorted. “No, it hasn’t.”

“Look, they apologized. Octavia was twelve, what was she gonna do? Run away from home and move in with me and my cunt mother?” Murphy set his cereal on the coffee table, slumping back into the couch cushions.

“Guess that’s true. But Bellamy-”

“He apologized,” Murphy interjected sharply, mind flashing back rapidly to the way Bellamy had looked on their balcony, how earnest he’d been about wishing he could change what happened, back then.

“Cool. He still did it.”

“What, Mbege? What?” Murphy jerked upright, glaring at him. He wanted to stop himself immediately, not liking the ugly rage rearing its head, particularly not when it was directed at Mbege. But he couldn’t stop, could already feel the dominos tumbling in his head. “Are you jealous? You jealous it’s not the John and John show anymore? What?” He scoffed. “You want me back to yourself? Pissed I’ve got other friends? Pissed my life isn’t just about you anymore? Want me to apologize?”

“No,” Mbege said. He took another bite of his cereal, just watching as Murphy wound himself up.

“What, you gonna leave? You gonna stop being my friend if I don’t ditch them?” He stood up, spurred into motion. “Real nice. Cool move.”

“Not going to stop being your friend.” His voice was mild, like he was talking about the weather. Murphy was going to murder him with his bare hands.

“Fuck you, Mbege. Fuck you.” Murphy kicked the couch, cursing when a flare of pain shot up his leg. “Fuck!”

“You done yet?”

“No!” Murphy threw himself back down on the couch, crossing his arms.

Mbege stared at him, in the exact position he’d been in five minutes before when he’d started this conversation. He picked up his cereal bowl, slurping out the last of the milk without breaking eye contact with Murphy.

“I hate you,” Murphy said.

“Sure,” Mbege agreed. He sat up, putting his bowl down. “Look, man, I’m just making sure you got things handled, alright? Stuff was weird when you started hooking up with Bellamy-”

“We aren’t hooking up,” Murphy cut in quickly. “That was a one time thing.”

Mbege stared at him.

“Fine, fuck, a two time thing. Maybe three, whatever. I don’t even remember.”

It was three. He remembered excruciatingly well.

“It was still weird,” Mbege continued. “I haven't seen you get that… bad in a long time. Got me worried, man.”

Murphy deflated, looking away. Fuck Mbege.

“They’ve got some weird like, thrall over you. I just don’t want you to get wrapped up in them and have them ditch you again, okay?”

“I don’t really control if they ditch me or not,” Murphy mumbled, chest clenching up. He’d thought about it more than once, how it would feel if they ditched him again. More than once, he’d caught himself getting sharp and mean while the three of them were hanging out, earning himself disappointed looks from Bellamy. And some real sass from Octavia, but that didn’t hurt quite so much.

“Yeah, well, you control how invested you get.” Mbege shrugged, reaching over to knock their knuckles together, even when Murphy tried to escape the gesture. “Just want you safe, man.”

“Gay,” Murphy grumbled weakly. He kicked out at Mbege, striking his thigh half-heartedly before digging his feet into the couch beneath Mbege’s thighs.

Mbege gave his shin a warm pat. “Love you too.”

“Shut up and watch the goddamn show.” Murphy slumped down, fitting one leg snugly against Mbege’s side. Mbege wrapped his arm around his legs and didn’t say another word.

---

Mbege wasn’t wrong when he pointed out how much time Murphy had been spending with the Blakes. He didn’t see them for a while after the first time they came back to his apartment, but that had been by design. He didn’t want to see Bellamy after that, overwhelmed by how raw he’d allowed himself to be. It had been too much, too much to share and take and feel. He’d dodged Octavia’s for the next week and tried not to focus on the fact that Bellamy didn’t reach out even once.

He didn’t cave until the following Saturday when Octavia came in with Lincoln and the rest of Trikru and yelled at him right there, in his own goddamn bar, to stop leaving her on read like some kind of coward and just man up if he wanted to ditch her. He bought her, her companions, and himself a round of shots instead and after that, he stopped trying to avoid her.

Most nights they spent together were spurred by Octavia arriving at the bar when he was on shift. She sat at the bar with him, usually talking about her classes or her friends or (one very memorable time) about Lincoln’s cock and how much she missed it, since he was out of town for some biker convention. She also said a lot about how she missed his face and his general being, but the cock was the interesting part, in Murphy’s opinion.

Bellamy didn’t come every time, but sometimes he tagged along. He usually didn’t say much at all, just drank and listened. He didn’t try to talk to Murphy about that night, and Murphy wasn’t sure if that was because Bellamy understood how much Murphy didn’t want to or because he was still trying to hide everything from Octavia.

Either way, Murphy appreciated it. He’d had all the emotions he cared to have for the year, thanks, and he wouldn’t have another one if it killed him.

Once or twice, they came back to his apartment with him. Murphy didn’t make the mistake of pulling out his weed again. He wasn't interested in wasting his stash on Octavia, or in potentially allowing himself to be vulnerable again. He and Bellamy hadn’t been alone since the first time they’d come to his apartment, not for longer than a few minutes.

They never invited him uptown. He wasn’t looking for them to, but it was a little weird. They both talked about their lives and their friends, but it was like some kind of invisible line was dividing Murphy from the rest of their lives. It wasn’t that Murphy wanted to meet their friends or anything like that but…

But. It made him feel expendable. The more separate they kept him, the easier it would be when they cut and run. And that, Murphy felt, was inevitable. Eventually, the novelty of finding him again after so many years was going to wear off. Eventually, they would just disappear entirely. Murphy couldn’t let himself get too comfortable. Mbege was right about that, too.

And then, one day, the line disappeared.

4:12 PM, Oh!
so my birthday is this saturday… any chance you can blow off work for one night to party?? having friends at mine and bell’s and want you there!!

Well that was…. that was.

5:02 PM, John #1
gotta check with the boss man.

5:04 PM, Oh!
you gotta come!! bring mbege if you want to, gonna be a lot of people!

6:35 PM, John #1
mbege says fuck off

6:35 PM, John #1
unless booze is free.

6:40 PM, Oh!
of course booze is free, i am not a monster

10:42 PM, John #1
convinced boss man to tend bar for one night. what’s the address

10:44 PM, Oh!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

---

Murphy literally couldn’t remember the last time he rode the subway uptown, but he was pretty sure it had been for some kind of bullshit school field trip intended to show him and all the other fuck-ups that if they cleaned up their act they, too, could have a mortgage on a shitty apartment with access to way more Chipotles than were available on the southside.

“This feels weird,” Murphy said.

Mbege was sitting beside him, playing some kind of puzzle game on his phone. He wasn’t nearly nervous enough about this party, in Murphy’s opinion. “Why?”

“We never go above the treeline.” The treeline, of course, being the border of the southside thus dubbed because after Pine Street, the streets stopped being named after trees and were instead numbered.

“Yeah, because we’re poor as fuck and everything above the treeline is bougie bullshit.” Mbege glanced over at him. “Like your friends.”

 

“Fuck off,” Murphy said instinctively. “I’m serious. Like, I literally don’t even remember what midtown looks like.”

“Dude, I’ve never even been to midtown.”

The subway grinded to a halt, mechanical voice calling out their stop. They stood up, filing out after the rest of the passengers.

“It seems cleaner,” Mbege commented as they ascended from the platform to the street above.

“Yeah, because it looks like these streets were paved after 1980,” Murphy mused. He pulled out his phone, opening his map app to show the rest of the directions to Bellamy and Octavia’s apartment. “C’mon, it’s this way.”

The directions led them to the sidewalk outside of a huge, shiny apartment building with only the street number emblazoned on the outside.

“Fuck,” Murphy said.

“Fuck,” Mbege agreed, rocking back on his heels to look up the building. “Told you it was bougie shit.”

“Fuck.”

They spoke to the doorman, which was a job they had not actually been aware existed outside of movies. Octavia had left a list with him, which embarrassingly only included Murphy and Mbege’s names. Apparently everyone else visited frequently enough that the doorman recognized them on sight. The man directed them inside and to the elevator, telling them to ride to the seventh floor and from there, they would be looking for apartment 722.

When they finally made it to the door, Murphy hesitated, staring at the chrome apartment number warily.

“Dude, knock.” Mbege shoved his shoulder against Murphy’s.

“Hold on.”

“Are you serious? Are you nervous?” Mbege gave him another shove.

“Fuck you, I am not.” Murphy glowered at him and knocked. “Fuck you,” he repeated.

The person who opened the door was not Octavia or Bellamy, which Murphy hadn’t been at all prepared for. The woman at the door was blonde, with a cute little button nose and eyes so blue it almost hurt to look at them. When she finally registered them, she looked as confused as Murphy felt. “Hi?” she said, inquisitive.

“Hi,” Mbege said, bland. “We’re here for the party.”

“Oh.” She frowned, glancing over her shoulder back into the apartment before looking at them again. “You’re…?”

“John Murphy,” Murphy said, and then bit down on his tongue to stop himself from saying anything rude. Best not to start a fight before he made it over the threshold.

In a strange twist, her face immediately lit up, mouth splitting into a grin. “Oh my God, I didn’t know you were coming. I’m sorry!” She stepped out of the way, holding the door wide open. “Come in, seriously, sorry about that.”

“Yeah, don’t worry about it.” Murphy rolled his eyes and stepped past her with Mbege on his heels. He took a look around, eyes grazing past the clusters of people all over the apartment to take in the house itself instead. This was it, this was the place they’d left him for.

A stone settled in his stomach, heavy and bitter. He’d been expecting more, expected to be blown away, to suddenly understand why they’d had to leave. But if anything, seeing their new home only reignited an old fury he thought he’d managed to move past.

“Nice place,” Mbege murmured.

“Not really,” Murphy said, bitter enough that he could hear it bleed through his voice.

“Yeah.”

“Murphy!” Octavia came around the corner from the living room, a grin splitting her face. She was stunning, as always, in a jean miniskirt and a burgundy sweater. For the first time in a while, just the sight of her made him want to spit.

“Happy birthday,” he greeted, forcing his voice to sound a little more cheerful. He hugged her when she leaned in, pursing his lips against any further reaction.

“Mbege, you came too.” Octavia turned her smile on him, giving him a light one-armed hug. “Want me to show you to the bar? Murphy told me you were only coming for the booze, I get it.”

Mbege smirked, gesturing magnanimously. “Lead the way.”

She laughed and spun around, leading them both towards the living room. Murphy looked around again, this time searching through the crowd for Bellamy, suddenly anxious that he wouldn’t be there. That would make this worse, somehow. To see all of this, and not even see how Bellamy looked amongst all these things.

He found Bellamy by the dining room table, which was covered in a variety of snack foods. He looked good, his face shaved totally clean, clean enough that Murphy could see his freckles across the room. He was dressed nicer than usual, too, in a very classy black sweater. Cashmere, Murphy’s mind provided. That’s what rich people wore.

Murphy stepped his way, pausing in place when he realized that Bellamy was already talking to someone else. Some girl, some beautiful girl with wavy brown hair and smoky eyes. And he was laughing.

The stone got heavier, the taste of copper washing across his tongue.

Murphy looked away, catching up to Octavia and Mbege. A small table against the wall had been set up as a minibar, covered in different liquors. “Help yourself to anything,” Octavia said. “There’s some punch on the other table too, and a ton of beers in the fridge. Really, just make yourselves at home, yeah?” She smiled, squeezing Murphy’s arm. “I’ll introduce you to everybody after you get a drink. I’ll be back.” And she skittered away.

Murphy inspected the liquor on the table and grabbed the most expensive whiskey he saw. He grabbed a plastic cup and poured, filling the cup. Mbege took the bottle from him when he was done and filled a cup for himself. “I know that look,” Mbege said. “And I’m with you.”

Mbege couldn’t possibly know what Murphy was feeling. But Murphy deeply appreciated the sentiment, bumping their cups together. “Fuck yeah.” And they both drank, draining half of their cups in one swallow.

“Shit,” Mbege said.

“Doesn’t even burn. We should steal that when we leave.”

“Or we can just drink it beforehand.”

“Either way.”

Before they could continue to plot, Octavia returned with the blonde woman from the door at her side. “Okay, here- you guys already kind of met her, but this is Clarke.”

“Hi.” Clarke waved a little, sweet. “Sorry again, about that-”

“Stop apologizing,” Murphy commanded. “It doesn’t matter.”

Clarke blinked, taken aback. “Oh. Alright.”

“I’m Murphy.” He jerked his head towards Mbege. “This is Mbege.”

“Hi,” Clarke repeated. “I’ve heard a lot about you guys- I mean, more about you, Murphy, but-”

“Makes sense,” Mbege cut in, “Since I try not to hang out around her too much.” He nodded towards Octavia.

Clarke looked at Octavia, openly confused at the scene unfolding around her. “Uh-”

“You get used to it,” Octavia said simply, grinning. “Come on, Murph, let me-”

“Hey, Murphy!” And there was Bellamy again, but now he was walking over, and that woman was still with him.

“Hey,” Murphy said, dry. He crossed the arm not holding his drink over his stomach, chin dipping down defensively. He saw it on Bellamy’s face the moment Bellamy realized something was amiss, eyebrows doing that thing where they pulled together and his eyes went soft.

Murphy considered punching him in the face, but decided he hadn’t had enough to drink to excuse that kind of behavior. Yet.

“What’s going on?” Bellamy nudged his way into their little cluster, the woman tucking in right beside Clarke, like she belonged. And she probably did, Murphy realized. She probably knew every person here. He was the outsider, not her. He didn’t fit.

Murphy swayed to the side, positioning himself closer to Mbege. “Oh, you know.” He tipped his cup at Bellamy.

Bellamy smiled a little, and it looked half-hearted, his eyes still confused. “Okay- um, Murph, Mbege-” And here, Bellamy finally looked away from Murphy, giving Mbege a nod in greeting. “I don’t think you’ve met her yet, but this is my friend Lexa.” He gestured to the brunette beside him. She saluted them, using the same hand she was using to hold a cup.

Heat flooded Murphy’s body, white hot embarrassment threatening to melt his bones. Because he knew who Lexa was, he’d heard millions of stories about her, including how she was a big fat lesbian with a big fat crush on Clarke. And he knew that Lexa certainly wasn’t with Bellamy, not like that, not that it would have mattered but-

Murphy realized he’d been staring for far too long without a single reaction to Bellamy’s words.

“Hey,” he managed.

“Hey,” she repeated, one corner of her mouth quirking up. She was prettier from close-up, her eyes stunningly green. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“Figures,” he said. “Bellamy’s got a big fucking mouth.”

Lexa’s smirk widened. “Yeah. He does.”

Oh, fuck. That look said she knew too much. That look said she absolutely knew what he and Bellamy had been up to. Murphy looked over at Bellamy, accusatory. “What sort of stories have you been telling about me, Bell?”

Bellamy at least had the decency to look a little embarrassed, eyes moving up to the ceiling to avoid Murphy’s. “Oh, you know,” he said vaguely.

“Right.” Octavia huffed a laugh, shaking her head. “Bell, will you introduce him to everyone? Lincoln’s in the kitchen making cheese dip, and Jasper’s trying to help which can only end in tragedy-”

“Yeah, O, I got it.” Bellamy smiled at her. “Go on.”

 

“Thanks.” She grinned and scurried off again, Clarke following her. Murphy caught the look Lexa gave Clarke’s back, noticing how her eyes lingered on her ass.

“Nice,” Murphy said, casual. “She’s not my type, but I see why she’s yours.”

Lexa’s eyes darted back to him. She gave him an assessing look, before nodding to herself. “Alright,” she said simply. “I hear you smoke.”

His eyebrow shot up. “I do.”

“Let’s go.” She turned away, heading for the door. Murphy glanced at Bellamy, who shrugged, before he followed her, Mbege and Murphy right behind him.

Lexa led them out of the apartment and to the end of the hall, where a door opened onto a small garden balcony. Once outside, she pulled a pack of cigarettes from the breast pocket of her leather jacket.

Murphy pulled his out too, as did Mbege. Lexa took pity on Bellamy who stood empty handed, passing over one of her cigarettes. Once they had all gotten a light, Lexa spoke.

“Intimidating, right?” she asked.

“What?” Murphy took a drag, flicking his ash carelessly to the side. He caught Bellamy’s pointed look at the ashtray they were gathered around and flicked his ashes to the side again purposefully.

“Walking into all that.” Lexa nodded back towards the building. “All those people.”

“I work in a bar.” Murphy gave her a sharp grin. “I’m a people person.”

She gave him a flat look. “Mmhm.”

Murphy gave her a once over. Now, he wasn’t sure how he’d mistaken the body language between her and Bellamy as anything other than friendly. He certainly didn’t want to investigate why the thought of them being more than friends had made him so viciously angry.

“I maybe needed a smoke,” he allowed, looking back up to her eyes.

“Yeah you did.” She looked away, tapping her ashes into the tray. “I hear you knew Bellamy as a child.”

He arched a brow. “Yeah,” he said.

“I demand to know every embarrassing thing you know about him. It’s my legal right as his best friend. You can’t say no, I’m a cop.” She looked up at him again, her expression completely serious. It drew a laugh out of him, shoulders relaxing. He took a sip of his drink, and launched straight into a highly exaggerated story about a wasp nest they had discovered on the back of the Blake’s house in the late fall. Bellamy denied his girlish shrieks, which ironically was one of the only parts Murphy didn’t feel like he was exaggerating at all.

By the time they extinguished their cigarettes and headed back inside, Murphy had forgotten about his nerves. His cup was empty, a pleasant buzz settling in his bones. When they crossed the threshold, Mbege went off with Lexa, and Murphy let Bellamy guide him into the living room.

“You like her?” Bellamy murmured.

“She’s alright,” Murphy said.

Bellamy smiled, hand lightly brushing against the small of his back. It sent a thrill up Murphy's spine.

Bellamy introduced him to everyone else. He met Jasper and his girlfriend Maya and Monty and his girlfriend Harper, who he had brought home from college for the party and to meet the rest of his friends. Bellamy introduced him to the cluster of adults in the corner that Murphy had completely missed when he walked in, a group comprised of Mrs. Green, Dr. Griffin, and Kane. Murphy had heard stories about all of them before, specifically recognizing Mrs. Green as the lawyer who Octavia had mentioned by name when they were children.

Murphy didn’t like her, but he was man enough to realize that probably had something to do with him partially blaming her for destroying his life or whatever.

The only other person there was Lincoln, who Bellamy didn't introduce him to for the obvious reasons.

“I thought there were more people here before,” Murphy said. They were standing at the foot of the stairs, leaning side by side against the wall.

“No, this is it.” Bellamy glanced at him. “You alright?”

“Why wouldn't I be?” He looked over, meeting Bellamy's eye. He was standing a stair above him, the step making up for their height difference and then some. It meant Bellamy had to look up at him, and something about the angle reminded him of sitting in Bellamy's lap. His fingers twitched, itching to reach out and touch him.

“Don't know.” Bellamy shrugged. Murphy couldn't tell if he was imagining it when be caught Bellamy looking at his mouth. “You just seemed off, when you got here.”

Murphy shrugged and looked back out at the apartment, eyes roving across the room. “It was nothing.”

“I call bullshit.”

Murphy gave him an annoyed look, before looking away again. “Its dumb.”

“Tell me.” Bellamy nudged him, and it felt like the place where their hands touched was on fire.

“...this place,” Murphy said, hesitant. “It's what you- you and Octavia left me for. I didn't know what it looked like until tonight.”

“Murph, we didn't pick this over you-’

“Yeah, but you did,” he cut in. “You really did.”

Bellamy didn't try to argue again. They stood there in silence, looking out at the rest of the party. Lexa was sitting on the couch beside Clarke, patiently listening to something that Monty was saying. Jasper was showing Maya and Harper some video on his phone, which Harper was obviously only pretending to find entertaining. Mbege had found Lincoln by the snack table, both of them stuffing their faces as they talked. Octavia was talking to the adults by the door, presumably wishing them farewell.

“It's a shithole, isn't it?” Bellamy said, quiet.

“It's nice,” Murphy admitted.

“Not worth what it lost us,” Bellamy murmured, his hand brushing against Murphy's again.

Murphy looked down at him, eyes roaming his face. Bellamy didn't look away, and this time Murphy was sure he wasn't imagining it when he caught Bellamy's eyes drift down to his lips.

“You haven't shown me the upstairs yet, Bell,” he said.

Bellamy glanced back at Octavia. The adults were gone and she had returned to Lincoln, chatting as amiably as could be expected with Mbege. Bellamy looked up at Murphy again and nodded, gesturing for him to head upstairs. Murphy turned and ascended, heart pounding in his chest.

“Third door,” Bellamy said when they reached the threshold. As soon as they stepped far enough down the hall to be entirely out of sight, one of Bellamy's hands found the small of his back, guiding him the rest of the way into his bedroom.

His room was dimly lit, the lights in the ceiling set by a dimmer instead of a switch. He had a lot of books, stacks of them on each bedside table and haphazardly arranged on two tall bookshelves. Two paintings hung over his bed, both abstract. One was different pastel brush strokes, all of the colors so similar that they blended together to make the canvas appear almost entirely white. The other canvas was it's sister, but made up of rich, dark colors that tricked the eye into believing it was solid black.

“I like those,” Murphy said, gesturing towards the paintings.

“Thanks.” Bellamy's hand trailed from the small of his back to rest on the divot of his hip. Murphy turned to face him, hands sliding slowly up his chest to settle on his shoulders.

“What are we doing?”

“I don't know,” Bellamy murmured. He leaned his head down, forehead pressing against Murphy's. Murphy could feel the warm brush of his breath every time he exhaled, could smell the whiskey he'd been drinking.

“Should we stop?” Murphy tipped his head up just a little, nose gently grazing against Bellamy's. He felt like every inch of him was electric, like sparks were crackling at every place their skin touched.

“Probably.” Bellamy let out a slow breath, arms sliding around Murphy, pulling him closer. Murphy slotted against him, chest to chest, one leg fitting neatly between Bellamy's.

“Okay,” Murphy agreed. One hand abandoned Bellamy's shoulders, trailing up to curl into his hair instead. And it felt so fucking good to touch him again.

“I want to kiss you,” Bellamy said, one of his hands dipping under the back of Murphy's sweater to press into the small of his back.

“Then fucking do it,” Murphy murmured.

Bellamy closed the narrow distance between them, capturing Murphy in a slow, gentle kiss. It was like last time, like the way Bellamy had kissed him on the couch right after he promised that he hadn't meant it, that he had wanted Murphy, that he wanted to kiss him and wanted to touch him. But this time Murphy had the chance to respond. He leaned into the kiss, letting Bellamy set the pace of it. He didn't bite, didn't try to dig and tear and scratch him raw.

He let Bellamy be gentle. He let him be tender, with delicate licks and sure hands. It felt better than anything else they had done. It felt like Bellamy thought Murphy would shatter if he pushed too hard, and for once the idea of being fragile didn't make him want to fight to prove he wasn't.

The kiss ended too soon. Bellamy pulled away slowly, peppering light kisses in the wake of their longer kiss to soothe the sting. “We need to go back downstairs,” he said.

“I don't want to.” Murphy chased him, catching another short kiss before Bellamy broke away again, hands sliding soothingly up his back.

“We shouldn't do this.”

“Bellamy,” Murphy said. He was shooting for mocking and failed, his name only managing to come out as a plea.

Bellamy made a low sound and leaned in to kiss him again, one hand rising to cradle his cheek. He pulled away again, breathing ragged. “O is going to notice that we're missing.”

Bellamy,” he said again, and this time he didn't try to fight it, openly begging him. He didn't know for what. He didn't know what he needed, he just knew that he wasn't ready yet, wasn't ready for Bellamy to let him go and to have to pretend again that he didn't care about him. It felt like they were standing in limbo, like the spell would break as soon as they let go and they would have to move on to what came next and what came next wouldn't be this good.

“Fuck.” Bellamy kissed him again. This time it lasted longer, going from sweet to dirty-slow. Bellamy's fingers dug into his back, massaging into his flesh in a way that made his knees go weak. He moaned into the kiss without trying to hide the sound at all, fingers digging deeper into Bellamy's hair, trying to draw him closer.

“Bellamy?” Octavia called, and her voice was right outside.

Bellamy pulled out of the kiss abruptly and like that the spell was broken, leaving them standing intertwined with the tension that had been building between them diffusing into the air. “Fuck,” he said again, and this time it was mournful. “Outside,” he added, nodding to the balcony attached to his room.

Murphy nodded and stumbled back a step when they let go of each other. He felt dazed, drunk off of the intimacy they had shared. Bellamy ushered him out onto the balcony and closed the door after them quietly. He fished the pack of cigarettes out of Murphy’s pocket, fumbling to pull one out for each of them.

“I'm sorry,” he said, soft.

Murphy shook his head, taking an unsteady drag right as Octavia popped her head into Bellamy's bedroom. “I get it.”

Yeah, Murphy got it. They couldn't do anything or be anything, because no matter what there might be between them, there was nothing more important to Bellamy than Octavia.

Octavia crossed the room, throwing open the balcony door. “There you are! I've been looking all over for you guys. Lexa said you went to the garden to smoke, not up here.” She leaned against the doorway. “We’re about to do the cake, you have to come sing to me.”

“Right.” Bellamy smiled. “Go get the candles lit, we'll be right down.”

“You better be.” She flashed them a grin and closed the door, disappearing back downstairs.

“...we owe Lexa, I guess,” Bellamy said quietly.

“She knows about us, then?” Murphy looked at him again, not bothering to hide a smirk when he caught Bellamy adjusting himself in his jeans.

“Lexa knows everything,” Bellamy grumbled.

“Scary.” Murphy stubbed out his cigarette on the railing, dropping his butt into the empty flower pot already littered with old filters. Bellamy followed suit. “Guess we should head down there.”

“Yeah.” Bellamy hesitated, hand making an abortive gesture like he wanted to reach out and touch Murphy but decided against it at the last moment. “Let's go.” He stepped past Murphy instead, leaving Murphy to follow behind him.

---

Murphy and Mbege stayed for the rest of the party, despite Murphy turning melancholy after the cake. They mingled, mostly sticking close to Lincoln or Lexa, who had turned out to be an absolute delight.

“I can’t really figure them out either,” she admitted to Murphy he mentioned being confused by the rest of the teenagers at the party. “They’re too…” She made a vague gesture.

“Shiny,” Murphy guessed.

“Yeah.”

“Then explain Clarke.”

“She shines so bright it’s impossible not to look at her.”

Murphy made a gagging noise. Lexa elbowed him in the stomach.

The party died out around two am. Everyone funneled out the door, Octavia waiting to give them each a hug.

“I’m glad you came,” she said against Murphy’s neck. “I hope you had fun.”

“It was interesting.” He gave her a one-armed squeeze. “Happy birthday.” He glanced at Bellamy over her shoulder. Bellamy smiled at him, half-hearted, and Murphy was happy to leave.

He was less happy when he and Mbege realized that the buses and the subway were no longer running to the southside. “Fuck, how are we going to walk all the way back?” he murmured.

“I dunno. I got some cash, maybe we can catch a cab? It’ll be a fortune, though, I’ve only got like forty bucks-”

“I’ll drive you,” Lexa offered. She was leaning against the wall on the opposite side of the elevator. The rest of the guests had somewhere to stay in the building, meaning that the three of them were the only ones descending back to the street.

“Nah,” Mbege said. “That’s nice and all-”

“I insist.” She straightened up when the doors opened, motioning for them to follow.

“What do you think?” Mbege asked, hesitant. They weren’t big on taking favors.

“Fuck it.” Murphy shrugged. “I’m tired and I’m poor. What other choice do we have?”

So they followed her to her car. Murphy got shotgun and Mbege settled into the back, immediately closing his eyes. He had stayed true to his word and managed to finish off the bottle of whiskey they’d started at the beginning of the night. Murphy knew for a fact that he’d smuggled another bottle out under his coat.

Lexa cranked on the heat as soon as they got into the car, adjusting her stereo so that music played softly, just loud enough to fill the silence but too faint for Murphy to make out the words. It was nice. Peaceful.

They were halfway home when Lexa spoke up. Mbege was asleep in the backseat and Murphy wasn’t far himself, lulled by the heat filling the car.

“O didn’t catch you guys, then,” she said.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.” He rolled his head against the back of his seat, looking over at her. She was focused on the road, streetlights casting her in orange light as they passed the windows.

“Yeah you do.”

“You got a lot of nerve, talking to me like you know me.” He looked back out his passenger side window. He’d decided not to think about Bellamy again tonight, because he couldn’t make sense of it and it barely felt worth it to try. Who knows how long it would be before Bellamy decided to risk it with him again? And why should Murphy wait for that, anyway?

“I know Bellamy. I know I’m gonna hear it from him tomorrow.” She came to stop when the light ahead of them turned red.

“So?”

“Just thought I’d hear both sides for once.”

Murphy glanced at her again, looking away when she caught his eye. “We just made out. Nothing exciting.”

“Mm.” Lexa didn’t say anything, pulling forward slowly as the light turned. The silence felt heavy, too heavy for Murphy to not give in and speak. He was beginning to understand why Bellamy wasn’t able to keep his mouth shut with her.

“We’re not doing anything. It’s just something that happens sometimes.” He shrugged a shoulder, tucking his hands between his thighs. “I’m hot, he’s hot, we wanna fuck.” But they hadn’t even tried to, hadn’t really tried to do anything. They’d just kissed like they were drowning.

“Mm,” Lexa said again.

Murphy tried not to say anything else. He tried. “Look, I don’t know what his deal is. He starts it, every time. He’s always just starts looking at me and touching me when Octavia can’t see- sometimes. Most of the time he just treats us like fucking kids. I don’t know what he’s doing, I can’t figure out his motive-”

“He doesn’t have one,” Lexa said, calm. “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

“That makes it fucking worse. At least one of us should have a clue.” He scoffed, pressing his feet against the floorboard hard, tensing up all of his muscles like that would relieve some of the nervous energy burning through him. “And he does it wrong.”

“What?” Lexa glanced over, keeping her focus dedicated to the road.

“He’s so like… soft. I don’t get it.”

“I don’t have an answer for that.” Lexa brought the car to a stop on the curb outside of their apartment. “He’s dumb.”

“Yeah he is,” Murphy grumbled. He unbuckled his seat belt, twisting to wake Mbege up.

“Hey,” Lexa said, reaching an arm out to block him from reaching into the backseat. “It was really nice to meet you, Murphy.”

 

Murphy gave her an odd look. “...yeah. Guess it was nice to meet you too.”

“You should come around more often.” She dropped her arm, like that was a normal way to talk to a person.

Murphy clapped a hand on Mbege’s leg to wake him up and climbed out of the car. When they were both out, Murphy leaned down to look in the window. “You’re a strange woman, you know that?”

Lexa smirked, wiggling her fingers at him. “See you.”

“Later.” He stepped back and she pulled away.

Murphy’s phone buzzed twenty minutes later. He was already in bed, idly scrolling through his phone when the message appeared.

2:51 AM, king douche
Did you make it home?

Murphy snorted.

2:52 AM, John #2
yes, dad.

2:53 AM, king douche
Don’t call me that.

2:54 AM, John #2
okay. daddy?

2:56 AM, king douche
Go the fuck to sleep, Murphy.

Murphy huffed a laugh and did as he was told.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Bellamy woke up to a spotless apartment and Lincoln in his kitchen. Again. Because Lincoln had decided to prove he was perfect. Again. And was now serving Bellamy breakfast in his own goddamn house. Fucking again.

Bellamy was frowning into his bowl of oatmeal, a food he did not typically enjoy, and trying to remember why he hadn’t wanted Octavia to date him.

“It was a good night, right?” Octavia asked, breaking him from his reverie.

“Hm?” He looked up.

“The party, it was good. Right?” Octavia was wearing one of Lincoln’s shirts as a night dress, one leg bent, her knee tucked under her chin.

“Yeah.” He smiled. “It was good.”

“I told you it would work out,” Lincoln said, smiling at her over his coffee mug.

“I was just nervous because so many people were coming that had never really met, you know?” Octavia waved her spoon. Bellamy watched as a glob of oatmeal went flying, landing on the table. Lincoln wiped it up with his napkin without a moment of hesitation.

“I liked Monty’s girlfriend. She was sweet,” Lincoln said. He folded his napkin over the smudge of food, taking a sip of his coffee like nothing had happened.

Bellamy wanted to hate him. So fucking badly.

“Yeah, she was great!” Octavia set down her spoon to pick up her juice instead, taking a quick sip. “Do you think Murphy had a good time?”

This question was directed at Bellamy, who was still studying Lincoln. “I think Murphy had a great time,” Lincoln agreed casually, giving Bellamy a knowing look. He took another sip of his coffee. “Don’t you, Bellamy?”

“Yeah. I think so.” So Lincoln had figured out something was going on with him and Murphy. Cool. Bellamy wasn’t disturbed by that at all.

“I was really worried about him,” Octavia continued, oblivious. “He didn’t know, like, anyone, and he never really likes anybody.”

 

“That is one of his defining traits,” Bellamy said, staring Lincoln down in a way that he could only hope conveyed how much he absolutely did not want Lincoln to comment on the Murphy Situation.

No one understood the Murphy Situation well enough to speak on it. Including Bellamy. And also probably Murphy.

“He and Lexa seemed like they got along though!” Octavia kicked him under the table. “Right?”

“Oh yeah.” Bellamy turned his attention back to Octavia, smiling for real this time. “Lexa liked him a lot. She drove him and Mbege home after, actually.”

“She’s like, secretly the kindest person in the world. Like, we already knew this since she’s managed to be friends with you for so long- hey!” Octavia flailed a little, sent off kilter in her seat when Bellamy swept her supporting leg away from the floor.

“That’s what you get.” He smirked.

“It’s not my fault that you’re impossible to deal with.”

---

Weeks went by, and despite hanging out with Murphy multiple times after Octavia’s birthday, the kissing never came up. Without a word, Murphy and Bellamy returned to casual banter and casual avoidance of the fact that their behavior could no longer be excused by anonymity or anger.

And it was nice. The longer Bellamy got to spend time with Murphy, the more comfortable being around him was. He looked forward to seeing him and talking to him. He liked sitting with Murphy and Octavia, even enjoyed it when they made fun of him. Seeing them together made him happy. And that’s what made it so easy to pretend that he didn’t still want Murphy. He could swallow down the urge to touch him, to shove him up against the wall and kiss him stupid whenever he said anything particularly infuriating, to wrap an arm around him when he sat too close in a booth at City Lights.

Because letting himself do any of that could ruin everything, and he wasn’t going to be the reason that Murphy fell out of their lives again. Not when it meant so much to Octavia.

---

The party had gotten out of hand.

Back up. It was Indra’s birthday party, which Bellamy had received an invitation to, much to his surprise. It was a Saturday and she had bought out City Lights for the night. According to Murphy, Indra and Jaha had some agreement that essentially gave Indra free reign to do whatever she pleased with the bar, whenever she pleased.

For instance, she had declared that no one would be working for her party. All of the liquor behind the bar was up for grabs, as long as you made your own drinks and didn’t bother any of the employees - all of whom were also invited.

Octavia had spent the afternoon leading up to the party stringing up red Christmas lights everywhere, with Lincoln’s assistance. When Bellamy asked why, she simply said that red was Indra’s favorite color, and that if she wasn’t allowed to give her a gift (which she wasn’t, since no one was) that she would do this for her instead. Octavia had grown incredibly fond of Indra since she had started hanging out with Lincoln’s… friends. Apparently Indra had a business degree and had been helping Octavia with her classwork.

Trikru was a consistently baffling entity, Bellamy decided.

The party began at 10:30. Bellamy brought Lexa along as his plus one. She had been quietly expressing interest in meeting Trikru in a non-professional setting for at least the last month. And since she’d begun officially dating Clarke, she and Bellamy had spent very little time together.

They arrived at eleven to find the bar nearly bursting at the seams with people, motorcycles lining both sides of the street. Music was spilling out onto the sidewalk.

“Jesus Christ,” Lexa said, putting out her cigarette on the curb. “I thought this was a birthday party.”

“I guess this is how they party for Indra.”

Just getting inside was difficult. There was no one manning the door, and the crowd was thick enough that it was a battle to get to the bar. When they managed to shove their way through, Lexa hauled herself over the counter to get to the liquor, shrugging when Bellamy gave her a bizarre look.

“Every man for themselves!” she yelled, grabbing a red solo cup from on of the many stacks on the bar. “What do you want!”

“Beer?” he yelled back, a little overwhelmed. The men next to him were shoving each other around, roaring with laughter. They jostled him to the side, nearly taking him off his feet.

“What?” Lexa yelled back. She was pouring liquor into a cup for herself, grabbing a seltzer from somewhere Bellamy couldn’t see to top it off.

“Beer!” he yelled again.

“I’m getting you a rum and coke!” she yelled back, crouching and disappearing from his sight. Bellamy gave up, looking around the building for a familiar face. He found Indra in her usual corner, her usually impassive face split into a stunning grin as she laughed, talking to two men who Bellamy was sure he recognized from other clubs around town. The taller one was absolutely Roan from Azgeda, at least.

He kept searching, hoping to spy Octavia somewhere amongst the writhing bodies. He stepped up on the back ledge of one of the barstools to look further and managed to find her on the dance floor. He didn’t particularly like seeing her grind against Lincoln in what he was almost positive was a red leather mini-dress, but at least he knew she hadn’t fallen and been crushed under the boots of the rowdy party-goers. And it was kind of worth it to see how utterly uncomfortable Lincoln looked dancing, anyway.

He couldn’t find Murphy amongst the crowd. He was still looking when Lexa shoved their drinks into his hand, heaving herself back over the bar and into the crowd.

“We should find somewhere to sit,” she yelled, taking her drink back when her feet were firmly on the floor.

“I don’t think there’s anywhere to sit,” he responded, throat already feeling hoarse.

“Just come on!” She grabbed his arm and dragged him through the crowd, cutting through the bodies remarkably easily for such a small woman.

They managed to post up at a two-seater high top that Lexa nabbed as soon as two skinheads stood up and turned their backs. They drank there, Lexa topping off their cups with a bottle of rum Bellamy hadn’t realized she’d taken from behind the bar.

“What?” she yelled when she caught him giving her a disappointed look. “It’s an open bar!”

“That’s not what open bar means!”

She just shrugged and poured more into her cup anyway. Bellamy let her top off his cup because, fuck, if she already had it.

Murphy and Mbege ended up finding them. They each had a bottle of Jack in hand that they were intermittently drinking from and using to pour shots into any empty cup extended their way.

“What’s up!” Murphy yelled, stumbling into their table when someone gave him a particularly hard shove.

“Hey,” Bellamy said, laughing despite himself. Murphy was in his element, obviously, his pale eyes bright and a grin plastered across his face. He had on a leather jacket with a red patch across the shoulder, one Bellamy had never seen before, and seemed committed to the aesthetic despite the fact that he was clearly over-warm, the hair at the nape of his neck damp with sweat.

“You want?” Murphy yelled, holding up the bottle.

“Sure!”

When Bellamy tried to take the bottle from him, Murphy jerked it away, stepping close to Bellamy instead. He took a pull from the bottle, then lifted it up, pouring a shot straight into Bellamy’s mouth. Bellamy played along, ignoring the heat curling in his stomach.

“Couldn’t find you when we came in,” he said, after he swallowed.

“What?” Murphy asked, cupping a hand around his ear.

Bellamy leaned in, speaking into his ear. “We couldn’t find you when we got here,” he repeated. His nose brushed against Murphy’s hair and he could smell him and God - he smelled good. Murphy’s hand fell to his shoulder, and the point of contact burned.

“When did you get here?” he asked, head tipped so he could speak into Bellamy’s ear, too.

“Eleven.”

“That’s why! You got here too early, grandpa, ever heard of being fashionably late?”

“Fuck off,” Bellamy laughed, slapping his side affectionately. Murphy flashed him a grin and stepped away to speak to Lexa. Their words were drowned out by the crowd, but the next thing Bellamy knew, Lexa was taking a swallow from Murphy’s bottle too. Murphy let her hold the bottle, he noticed.

Mbege stepped over, arm draping across Murphy’s shoulders. He spoke into his ear and Murphy nodded, lifting his bottle to Bellamy.

“Dancing!” he yelled, before they disappeared into the throng again. Bellamy tracked the back of his head until he couldn’t find it anymore, lost amongst the people.

When he looked back at Lexa, she was giving him a knowing look.

“What?”

“Keep it together, Bell,” she yelled.

“I’ve got it together!”

Lexa just laughed and poured more rum into his cup.

Octavia and Lincoln found them next. Octavia threw herself at Bellamy, hugging him tight as soon as she could break free of the rest of the crowd. “Bell! You’re here!”

Bellamy laughed, squeezing her close. “Hey!”

“What are you doing? You’ve got to dance!” She leaned back, eyes bright. She had glitter on her face, big smears like stars across her cheek bones. She was so gorgeous it hurt to look at her, and he felt his heart clench. He just loved her so much.

“I don’t dance, O!”

 

“You do tonight!” She tugged at him. “Come on, please?”

Bellamy looked at Lexa, who was yelling up at Lincoln about something. At some point, she had started drinking directly from the bottle. Bellamy couldn’t judge. The coke in his cup was gone, and he was drinking straight rum, too.

“Only if Lexa does!”

“Fine!” Octavia grabbed Lexa without asking, pulling her from her stool. “Come dance with me!”

“Okay!”

Traitor.

Octavia led them across the bar back to the dance floor. She pulled Lexa close, swaying back against her the same way she’d been swaying against Lincoln when Bellamy had seen them before.

“I’ve got a girlfriend!” Lexa yelled.

“Okay!” Octavia yelled back.

Bellamy felt awkward without someone to dance with, swaying in place. Lincoln looked like he could relate, doing the awkward dad shuffle behind Lexa. Without noticing it, they’d both taken one side of the girls, protecting them from the rest of the dancers with their bodies. Bellamy smiled at Lincoln when he realized, raising his cup to him. Lincoln flashed a rare grin back at him.

They danced for a while before Octavia broke away, heading for the bar, yelling something Bellamy couldn’t hear. Lincoln followed her and Lexa stepped over to Bellamy, wrapping her arms around his shoulders.

“You suck at dancing!”

 

“You suck at everything!” he retorted, hands settling on her hips.

“Fuck you!” she yelled, but she was laughing.

Bellamy couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt this good.

--

The party had gotten out of hand.

It was nearly one am, and instead of slowing down, the party seemed to be growing. It was definitely louder, and the room was hot from the crush of people invading the building. It had to be a fire hazard, Bellamy thought distantly. He and Lexa had found another place to sit, after Lexa had nearly gotten into a brawl with some dude who tried to grind against her.

“I hate men!” Lexa yelled as Bellamy tugged her away.

“Tell me about it!”

Now they were sitting, passing their bottle back and forth. It was nearly empty now, since they’d taken to sharing it with others in the crowd as Murphy and Mbege had been. It wasn’t really a safe drink practice, Bellamy knew, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind and it wasn’t like Bellamy would be taking a drink from a stranger any time soon.

“Maybe we should go soon!” Bellamy yelled.

“Why?”

“Late!”

“You’re so fucking old- look!” Lexa half-stood, pointing towards the bar. Bellamy looked where she directed and nearly choked on his drink.

Octavia and Murphy were standing on the bar. Apparently Murphy had abandoned his jacket at some point, now only wearing a thread-bare black sweater that dipped so, so low over his collar bone. Octavia had gained a black boa from God knows where. But the most astounding thing was that they were dancing together, twisting their feet across the bar in what looked like their best imitation of the Breakfast Club dance.

Bellamy nearly dropped his phone in his haste to pull it out, directing his camera at them immediately to catch their act on film.

They were both singing at the top of their lungs. Bellamy couldn’t hear him, but he could see it in the strain of their throats, the way both of their faces were clenched up in the effort of it. The song from the movie was on, he realized, the vocalist screaming, “We are not alone!” in sync with Octavia and Murphy. Murphy grabbed Octavia’s hand, spinning her close and then back out across the bar in a motion that was far too smooth for the level of drunk he clearly was.

The song changed and they kept dancing, spurred on by the crowd. The new song was something harder, some rap that Bellamy wouldn’t have been able to place even if the crowd was suddenly silent.

Octavia stopped dancing to scream into Murphy’s ear and suddenly she was stepping back, dropping into a low squat and rolling back up, one arm extended into the air. Murphy was laughing at her, one hand clenching into the front of the sweater like it was painful, how happy he was. He mimicked her, adding an extra little shimmy as he rose. He grabbed her again and spun her back to his chest, grinding with her, hands sliding down her thighs. She was laughing too, one hand reaching back to tangle in his hair as they entertained the crowd.

“Let’s go!” Lexa grabbed Bellamy’s arm and he ended his recording, letting Lexa drag him towards the bar. By the time they reached it, Lincoln was lifting Octavia down and into his arms, trying to look serious as she laughed into his face, arms clenching around his neck. Mbege was helping Murphy down, giving him a hand as he leapt to the floor.

“Wait, is it over?” Lexa yelled, slamming carelessly into Mbege who threw a friendly arm around her shoulders in greeting.

“Lincoln was jealous!” Mbege yelled.

“Was not!” Lincoln replied. He was still holding Octavia, one hand under her ass to support her where she was clinging to his hips. He took a casual sip of his beer with the other hand, looking far too relaxed for a guy fully supporting the weight of a grown ass human.

Bellamy reminded himself to go to the gym.

The next hour was a blur of screaming and laughing. Bellamy had another drink in his hand and he had no idea where it came from, but he drank it anyway, too wrapped up in the way Murphy was yelling a story into his ear to wonder how it had ended up there.

At two AM the whole room broke into a chorus of the birthday song, led by Anya who had leapt onto a table with Indra at her side. Halfway through the song, Indra was snatched from the table, the crowd lifting her over their heads like a queen, carrying her around the room and singing happy birthday three more times before she was deposited back beside her booth, a grin stretched across her face the whole time.

And still, the party didn’t end.

Bellamy didn’t remember going back to the dance floor, but suddenly he was there, and the only person near him that he knew was Murphy. Murphy was dancing, the bottle of Jack in his hand nearly empty. He wasn’t looking at Bellamy or touching him, his eyes closed and hands held high. He looked gorgeous, a smile permanently sealed on his face.

Bellamy couldn’t take it.

He stepped closer to him, hands sliding down to hold his hips. Murphy opened his eyes and grinned at him, stepping closer so they were dancing together. His arms dropped to Bellamy’s shoulders, bottle cold against the back of his neck.

“Hey,” he said, voice almost lost to the crowd.

“Hey,” Bellamy replied, head bowing to press against Murphy’s. He let his body move with Murphy’s swaying, fingers sliding beneath the tail of Murphy’s shirt to touch his hot skin. Murphy laughed, tipping his head to brush his nose against Bellamy’s.

“I wanted to dance with you all night!”

“Good.” Bellamy pulled him closer, tilting his head down to bury his face in Murphy’s neck. He smelled so good, like sweat and alcohol and skin. Murphy pressed closer, his free hand tangling into Bellamy’s hair. They danced through two songs, bodies pressed close together despite the cloying heat around them.

“Do you remember?” Murphy said out of the blue, his mouth moving against Bellamy’s ear.

“Hm?”

“That first night? When you were spying on Lincoln?”

Bellamy huffed a laugh, hand sliding up to the middle of Murphy’s back, pushing his shirt up. “Which part?”

“The bathroom.”

Bellamy laughed again. “No, totally forgot.”

“We could do that again. Who’s gonna know?” Murphy turned his head, pressing a kiss against his cheek.

“We shouldn’t,” Bellamy said.

“You’re already hard,” Murphy pointed out with a laugh. “What else are we gonna do?”

Bellamy hummed, nuzzling beneath his ear. He nipped at the skin there because he could, because he wanted to, because he knew Murphy wouldn’t mind. “You can’t take me anywhere like this,” he said, echoing Murphy’s words from what felt like a lifetime ago. The laugh it earned him was worth it, made his heart sing.

“Come on.” Murphy stepped away, and Bellamy hated that, but Murphy’s hand sliding into his was a good replacement. Murphy dragged him away from the dance floor, dropping his bottle on a table they passed along the way.

When they reached the bathroom, it was already full, packed with bodies trying to use it for it’s actual intended purpose, so Murphy guided him in a different direction, pulling him into a storage closet on the opposite side of the hall instead.

As soon as the door closed behind Bellamy, Murphy was kissing him, hands tangling into his hair. Bellamy kissed him back, pulling Murphy closer and up to his tiptoes. The kiss was sloppy and eager, and not their best, but Bellamy couldn’t bring himself to care. It had been almost a month since he’d gotten his hands on Murphy, and at this point any kind of kiss was enough.

Murphy broke the kiss, panting, his hands moving down Bellamy’s chest. “Don’t think I can suck you off, I’m so drunk, Bell,” he laughed, nuzzling his face into Bellamy’s throat.

“Don’t care.” Bellamy pressed open mouthed kisses down his throat, choosing a spot to bite and suck, suddenly eager to leave a mark. Murphy made a pleased sound, fingers hooking into Bellamy’s belt loops to pull him closer, grinding against him.

“Sweet of you,” Murphy managed. “Had more than one guy strand me when I refused to blow them.”

“Assholes.”

Murphy laughed again, dragging Bellamy back into another eager kiss, focusing on grinding against him. Bellamy turned them so he could press Murphy into the door, taking control of their pace. The pressure was a little uncomfortable, the fabric of his boxers chafing and unforgiving, but it still felt so good that Bellamy couldn’t convince himself to stop, didn’t want to take the time to get their clothes off.

Then the door opened and they were tumbling out. Murphy lost his footing and Bellamy was barely able to catch him, choking on a laugh as they stumbled against the opposite wall.

The laugh died in his throat when he looked up and Octavia was there, staring at him with huge, shocked eyes.

“Bellamy?” she said.

Bellamy released Murphy immediately, taking a step away from him. “O-”

“What are you doing?” Her voice cracked, and Bellamy wished he couldn’t hear her so well, wished that the hallway wasn’t blocking the sound from the main bar.

“Nothing, it’s nothing-”

There were tears in her eyes now, shock turning to hurt at his obvious lie. “Why are you lying?”

He felt his heart crack, and he took a step towards her. “Octavia, hold on-”

“Has this been happening? How long?” She took a step back and right into Lincoln, who Bellamy hadn’t noticed standing there before.

“No, Octavia, it’s nothing. I swear, I’m not lying-”

“Yes you are!” And the tears started.

“I swear, it’s nothing. It just happened-”

Octavia turned away, bypassing Lincoln to get back to the party. Trying to get away from Bellamy.

Bellamy followed, not caring if Lincoln or Murphy followed too. It felt like the walls were crashing around him, all of the joy he’d felt moments before disappearing in a blink. He managed to catch her by the door to the kitchen, where she’d been trying to escape. “Octavia, wait, listen to me-”

 

“I don’t want to talk to you!” She jerked her arm away. “You’re lying to my fucking face, Bellamy-”

“I’m not lying, Octavia!”

“Really, O,” Murphy said, and Bellamy hadn’t realized Murphy was beside him. He sounded almost as upset as Octavia, voice cracking. “Just listen to him-”

“We’re not doing anything, O,” Bellamy pleaded. “We were just- I don’t know, we were hooking up, maybe, but it was nothing. He doesn’t mean anything, he’s nothing to me, he could be anyone-”

He didn’t see the first hit coming, but the punch snapped his head to the side. He looked over quickly, and it was Murphy, who was looking at him with wild eyes, rage written in every feature.

“Murphy-”

And Murphy hit him again, right swing snapping his head the opposite direction. It hurt, even though he felt almost numb with panic, still drunk enough that everything seemed hazy.

“Murphy-”

“Fuck you!” Murphy snarled. He shoved his chest, stepping closer to do it again.

Bellamy didn’t understand what was happening, couldn’t keep up with the blows that just kept coming. His vision had narrowed down to Murphy, Octavia disappearing into the background. He tried to block the next punch, managing to deflect it enough that it only caught his chin. It made his teeth grind together.

“Fuck you!” Murphy snarled again, and there were tears in his eyes. “Bellamy, you fucking- I fucking-” And he hit him again, this time hard enough and direct enough that Bellamy felt his lip split, anger flooding his mind.

He hit back, punch hitting Murphy hard enough to snap his head to the side and send him tumbling backwards. He didn’t have a chance to hit him again, someone grabbing him from behind. The person twisted his arm, pinning it against his back. It made his shoulder scream, the pain cutting through his anger and confusion enough to bring his focus back.

Mbege was there, holding Murphy back, his arms wrapped around him, pinning his arms to his sides. Murphy was still fighting against him, spit and blood decorating his nose and chin. “Fuck you!” he screamed, voice raw. “Let me go! You motherfucker, you fucker!”

Octavia stepped between them, horror replacing the confusion and anger that had been on her face the last time Bellamy had seen her. And she was facing him, bodily blocking him from getting any closer to Murphy, even if he could. “What are you doing?” she said.

“Octavia-”

“Don’t- Lincoln, get him out of here.” Octavia extended an arm, pushing Murphy and Mbege more firmly behind her back.

“Octavia, no, hold on-”

“I got him.” And there was Lexa, appearing at his side to grab one of his arms. The pain stopped, and he realized Lincoln had been the one restraining him. Lexa tugged him to the side. “Come on.”

“No, I don’t- I don’t know what happened, please, O, let me-”

Lexa gave him a harder tug, pulling him away. Mbege was pulling Murphy back too, guiding him into the kitchen, Octavia backing in behind them. Bellamy couldn’t see Murphy anymore, but he could hear him cursing, screaming his name still.

“Lexa, stop, I have to-”

“No,” Lexa said simply. The crowd was parting for them this time. The fight hadn’t been quiet, and his mouth was still throbbing. His whole face stung, and when he touched his cheek, his hand came back bloody.

“I need to talk to her! I need to talk to Murphy-”

“Shut up, Bellamy.” Lexa tugged him out the front door, shoving him out into the cold air. It bit at him, sobering him. It was suddenly so quiet, the noise inside muffled by the door.

He stepped towards Lexa and the door, and he could feel how desperate he must look. “I’ve got to talk to them, Lex, please-”

Lexa put a hand on his chest, eyes hard. “No.”

Bellamy stared down at her, heart racing. He wondered if she could feel it through his shirt. “I fucked up,” he whispered.

“Yeah,” she agreed. She took him by the arm and guided him down the street. They walked for what felt like too long, nearly two blocks, before she stopped and pulled out her phone to call a driver.

“Lexa,” he said, voice cracking. “I fucked up.”

“Just be quiet, Bellamy,” she said.

He shut his mouth and stepped away from her, sitting heavily on the curb. He didn’t say another word while they waited for their ride. He didn’t say anything in the car, either, and he didn’t really blame Lexa for not saying goodbye when the driver dumped him out at his door.

---

The next morning, Bellamy woke up and felt nothing but pain. The nausea was the most demanding, propelling him from his bed and into the bathroom. Throwing up made his lip burn, the barely sealed cut ripping back open. When his stomach felt empty, he took off his clothes and got into the shower. The hot water hurt his face, but it helped with his headache, soothing the throbbing pain enough to make it bearable.

When he got out, he finally had to look at himself in the mirror. There was a cut on his left eyebrow. Whatever scab had built up overnight had been washed away, thick blood pearling around it. His eye was bruised and tender. Another bruise painted his other cheek, shades of blue and purple. His lip was bleeding again. He grabbed a tissue, dabbing his mouth until the bleeding stopped.

He got dressed in sweatpants and a hoodie when he got back to his room and dug through his bedside drawer to find a crushed pack of Parliaments he kept there, for when things felt too bad. He smoked two on his balcony, staring down at the city without seeing.

He didn’t want to think about the night before. He wanted to keep feeling empty, to never have to confront the storm he’d created. But he couldn’t avoid it. His mind felt like an echo chamber, his words reverberating on an unending loop.

He doesn’t mean anything to me. He’s nothing to me. He doesn’t mean anything to me. He’s nothing to me. He doesn’t mean anything. He’s nothing. He doesn’t mean anything. He’s nothing.

He pressed his fist into the bruise on his cheek, grinding his teeth against the pain.

Eventually, he made himself go back inside. He hid his cigarettes away again and went downstairs slowly, afraid to make a noise in his own house.

Octavia and Lincoln were sitting at the table. There was a McDonald’s bag between them and they were eating in silence.

Octavia looked like she hadn’t slept. Her hair was up in a high ponytail, knots kinking up her usually silky hair. There was still glitter on her face. Her eyes looked puffy and bloodshot. It felt like a punch to the gut, because that was his fault. Lincoln looked alright, just tired. He was watching Octavia eat, vigilant and concerned.

He stopped beside the couch, pressing his knuckles into the arm rest. “Hey,” he said quietly, and his voice came out rough with disuse.

Octavia looked over at him, her eyes hard. She looked back at Lincoln and stood, picking up her cup that Bellamy imagined was full of too-sweet fast food hot chocolate. “I’m going back to bed.” She walked away, heading up the stairs without another glance at Bellamy.

Bellamy bowed his head, digging his fist deeper into the couch. He looked up through his bangs at Lincoln, who was watching him from his seat at the table. “She’s mad,” Bellamy said, stating the obvious for lack of anything else to say.

“Do you blame her?” Lincoln asked.

“No.” He stepped away from the couch, walking over slowly to take Octavia’s vacated seat.

“How do you feel?”

“Like shit,” Bellamy said honestly.

“Good.” Lincoln balled up the wrapper of his biscuit, gathering the trash from the table. “You shouldn’t feel good, after last night.”

Bellamy nodded a little, watching him collect the remains of their breakfast. He had to swallow and build himself up to speaking again. “Is Murphy-”

“I don’t think you have the right to ask anything about him, right now.” Lincoln stopped cleaning for a moment, looking over at him. “I knew that there was something going on between the two of you.”

Bellamy bit his lip and regretted it immediately. He touched his mouth, relieved to see that he at least hadn’t ripped the delicate skin apart again. “We’ve hooked up a few times,” he said, honest. “Once before Octavia even met him again. I didn’t know who he was.”

Lincoln rolled the top of the paper bag down around their trash and sat back in his chair, arms crossing. He didn’t say anything, staring across the table at Bellamy with hard eyes.

“Things got… out of hand. For a while.” He ran his hand through his hair, wincing when he pulled at a knot. “I didn’t want Octavia to know about it. I lied about meeting him before her. I didn’t want her to know I was hiding anything, or that Murphy and I…” He trailed off. “It sounds stupid now.”

“It is stupid.”

Bellamy slumped down in his seat. “I just didn’t want it to stop her from being his friend again. He’s always been important to her and I didn’t want to… hurt that. Or make her feel like she couldn’t be friends with him the way she used to be.”

“So instead you hid your relationship with him from her.”

“It wasn’t a relationship.” He frowned at Lincoln, aware that it sounded like a lie. “It was- we hooked up for a week or so, at the beginning. And… we’ve been intimate a few times since then, but it’s never been anything. I didn’t think a relationship was a good idea, I still don’t.” He huffed a little laugh and tried to smile. “He’s Murphy. A relationship with him wouldn’t work-”

“You’re an asshole,” Lincoln interrupted.

“Hey-!”

“Murphy is a person,” he continued. “He’s hard to deal with and he’s got a bite to him. But he’s a person. He’s not someone you can use.”

It stung. “I’m not trying to use him-”

“Do you remember how angry you were when I started seeing Octavia?” he interrupted again.

Bellamy clenched his jaw and nodded.

“How adamant you were that I was going to hurt her?”

Another nod.

“This is me telling you the same thing. That boy doesn’t deserve to be hurt the way you’ve hurt him.” Lincoln stood up. “Leave him alone.”

“Lincoln, I didn’t want to hurt him. I never wanted to hurt him-”

“Then prove it. Stop being selfish.” Lincoln left the table to go upstairs after Octavia, leaving Bellamy alone.

Eventually he got up and found something to eat in the kitchen, just enough to settle his stomach, before he returned to bed, exhausted.

He found his phone once he was tucked back under his covers.

11:42 AM, Bellamy Blake
thank you for getting me home.

11:46 AM, Lexa Woods
don’t mention it.

11:47 AM, Bellamy Blake
i really did fuck up, huh?

11:52 AM, Lexa Woods
yes. i’m not on your side right now, bell.

11:53 AM, Bellamy Blake
i didn’t mean for any of that to happen.

11:56 AM, Lexa Woods
you’re still responsible for what you did. doesn’t matter if it was because you were drunk or scared or whatever you want to say. you hurt octavia, and you hurt murphy.

11:59 AM, Bellamy Blake
what do i do?

12:02 PM, Lexa Woods
nothing. you can’t fix this right now. your actions have got consequences.

12:04 PM, Bellamy Blake
do you know if murphy is okay? lincoln wouldn’t say.

12:07 PM, Lexa Woods
i can’t imagine he’s doing well.

12:08 PM, Bellamy Blake
i didn’t mean to hit him. it was reactionary, he just kept hitting me.

12:12 PM, Lexa Woods
the hit barely matters, bell.

12:13 PM, Bellamy Blake
i didn’t mean what i said either

12:15 PM, Lexa Woods
yeah. but you said it anyway.

Bellamy didn’t reply.

Chapter Text

Murphy couldn’t stop fighting.

The door to the kitchen swung shut behind Octavia, and he was still thrashing in Mbege’s arms, dragging against him to try and get free.

“Bellamy!” he screamed, digging his feet into the linoleum.

Octavia turned to him, holding up her hands in a calming gesture. She was crying, fat tears rolling down her cheeks, picking up glitter as they went. Murphy could barely see her, trying to look through her and through the wall to Bellamy. He wanted to be free, wanted to hit him again and again until Bellamy knew who he fucking was.

“Murphy,” she said, soft. “I’m so sorry, I’m sorry- he’s gone, Lexa’s taking him home. I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”

When she got too close, Murphy snapped his teeth at her, desperate not to be touched and to keep tearing, tearing, tearing and destroying.

“Fuck you!” he snarled, turning his anger on her instead. “This is your fault! He’d do anything for you, anything, fuck anyone else! This is your fault!”

Lincoln came through the door behind her, holding Octavia’s coat and Murphy’s jacket.

Mbege jerked Murphy back again, one arm crossing his chest to pull Murphy’s back flush with his chest.

“You gotta relax, brother,” he murmured, voice calm against his ear. “Fuck him, but you gotta calm down. You’re gonna hurt yourself.”

“Fuck you!” His voice broke, and he didn’t notice when he began to cry. “Let me go, Mbege, I swear to God-”

“Let’s smoke, yeah? Let’s have a smoke and get some air.” Mbege guided him backwards towards the fire exit, hands unnervingly gentle and firm.

“I don’t want to get some fucking air,” he hissed. A sob ripped out of his throat and it made him angrier. He could feel the fury dying and that couldn’t happen. He didn’t want it to go, because when the anger was gone he’d have to think about everything else.

“Yeah you do.” Mbege bumped the door open with his back, pulling him onto the sidewalk. The air cut through his sweater and made him shiver, body convulsing back against Mbege. Octavia and Lincoln followed them out and Octavia was still fucking crying, silent tears. Murphy wanted to hit her, wanted to give her a fucking reason to cry-

“Murph,” Mbege said, squeezing him tight. “I’m going to let you go.”

“Good!” he snarled.

“But you gotta stay here with me, okay?”

“Fuck you-”

“Okay.” Mbege pressed his cheek against Murphy’s hair and it was so fucking tender, he wanted to scream. “You gotta stay here, with us. Okay?”

“Fine,” he snapped, and Mbege’s released him. He stumbled away, lifting a hand to wipe under his nose, smearing the blood across his hand and face.

Nobody tried to get close to him, but they were all watching him and he felt cornered. Every nerve felt like it was open and raw, their eyes a physical touch, flaying him open. He stepped back again, trying to catch his breath. He spit out a mouthful of blood, looking at the three other people gathered on the sidewalk. They didn’t say anything, like they were waiting for him to bolt or breakdown and fuck them.

“Are you gonna give me a fucking cigarette or not?” he snapped, eyes landing on Lincoln. “They’re in my fucking jacket, you fucking- ogre.”

Lincoln stepped forward, handing him his jacket wordlessly. Murphy shrugged it on with some difficulty before snatching his cigarettes out of his pockets. He didn’t realize his hands were trembling until he tried to light it, failing to keep the lighter ignited long enough to get his cigarette lit.

Mbege stepped over, lighting it for him silently. Murphy scoffed at him and took a drag, backing up to stand against the wall. “Fuck you,” he said.

“Okay,” Mbege said. He lit his own cigarette, standing back from Murphy, letting him have his space.

No one tried to speak again until his cigarette was gone. He lit another, hands a little steadier.

“Murphy,” Octavia said, voice soft. She stepped closer to him. She was wearing her jacket now, and at some point had swept her hair up into a high ponytail. “Are you okay?”

“Fine,” he said, gruff. A hoarse laugh. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

He had to look away from her, her eyes too soft.

“I’m so sorry,” she said again. She touched his arm delicately and he couldn’t bring himself to pull away. “I’m sorry.”

“You didn’t do anything.” He bowed his head forward, tapping the ash from his cigarette just to have something to do with his hands.

“Not really,” she said slowly. She leaned against the wall beside him and took his hand, the one not preoccupied with a cigarette. She laced their fingers together, her touch gentle. “But I started it.”

“You didn’t.” He didn’t look at her, but he squeezed her hand. His chest felt too full, an uneasy feeling crawling up his throat.

“If I hadn’t found you-”

“It would have happened eventually.” He shook his head.

“I know, but maybe if we weren’t all so, like, drunk, maybe…” She trailed off.

“It doesn’t matter,” he murmured. “He and I hooked up a few times, the first week or so after we met again. Haven’t really done anything else since tonight. We were just drunk. Didn’t mean anything.”

“Murph,” she said, soft.

“It didn’t. He’s never gonna want anything with me, it was just sex. That’s all.” He dropped his cigarette, grinding it under his boot. He hiccuped and was mortified to realize that he was crying again, actually actively crying. He couldn’t make himself stop, and as soon as he was aware the tears turned to sobbing. He was shaking, pulling in deep, hiccuping breaths that made his body tremble. “I don’t mean anything to him, it’s okay. It’s okay.”

“Shh.” Octavia lifted her other hand to cup the side of his head, guiding his cheek down to her shoulder. It made him sob again. He couldn’t stop himself from nuzzling into her throat, desperate for comfort.

“I don’t matter. It could have been anyone.”

“You matter,” she said, firm. She released his hand to wrap her arm around him instead, pulling him close. “That’s bullshit, you matter. Fuck anyone who tells you otherwise.”

Another sob wrenched itself from his throat and he leaned into her, arms looping around her small body. “Oh, God, O-”

“I got you. I got you,” she whispered, holding him close. “You’re okay. It’s gonna be okay.”

She held him until he got himself under control, too exhausted to keep crying. She helped him stand up straight and took his hand in hers again. “Let’s get you home, huh?”

“I can take him,” Mbege offered.

“I want to come too.” She looked over at Mbege. “Is that okay?”

“If Murphy wants you, you can come.”

“Murph?” Octavia looked at him. He just squeezed her hand, keeping his head bowed. “Okay.”

Octavia and Lincoln walked them home in silence. When they made it inside, Octavia directed Lincoln to the kitchen, asking him to get a glass of water and some medicine.

“Medicine is in my bathroom. I got it.” Mbege went to fetch it, and Octavia led Murphy on to his bedroom.

She found him clean clothes and helped him get out of his jacket so he could change. Once he was dressed again, she knelt in front of him beside his bed and gently cleaned up his face with a damp rag. She must have gotten it from the bathroom while he got dressed, he thought, and then didn’t think again. He let her clean him up. He drank the water Lincoln brought him and took the medicine from Mbege. When he was done, Octavia gave him another gentle hug. Mbege was sitting on his other side, one hand on his back, and Lincoln was leaning against the doorway, patiently waiting.

“We’re gonna go, okay?” she asked. “You should get some sleep. You’ll feel better when you wake up.”

Murphy nodded, looking up at her. “Thanks, O,” he said quietly. “Didn’t have to do this.”

She smiled, and it looked like she might cry again. “You’re my friend. I just wanted to take care of you.” She touched his knee. “I love you, Murph.”

There was a knot in his throat, and he couldn’t speak. Instead, he nodded, head bowing again.

“I’ll see you soon, okay?” And then she left with Lincoln at her side.

Mbege didn’t speak until he heard the door close after them, an arm sliding around Murphy’s shoulders. “You okay, man? Really?”

Murphy leaned into him, exhausted. “I don’t know what I am.”

---

Murphy did not feel better when he woke up. He spent the morning sick to his stomach, crawling from his bed to the bathroom twice before finally just tumbling into the shower to lay under the spray. He didn’t move until the water ran cold, and then he just took enough time to rub himself down with soap before stumbling out and back into his bed with wet hair and a towel around his waist. He went to sleep again, grateful for an escape from his pounding head.

He dreamt about Bellamy. In his dreams, he was in Bellamy’s room. They were kissing again, and it was gentle and when Bellamy spoke, it was only to tell Murphy how good he was.

But that wasn’t true at all, and he woke up feeling worse than he had before. His headache was gone, but his chest wouldn’t stop aching. He tried to ignore it, choosing to check his phone and maybe get lost in his instagram feed.

He had some texts waiting.

12:50 PM, Oh!
how are you feeling??

1:32 PM, Oh!
let’s get dinner tonight.

4:22 PM, John Murphy
just woke up. not feeling like coming uptown for bougie foods.

4:25 PM, Oh!
i’ll come down and we can go to the diner by your house? still have a hangover, greasy food sounds awesome.

4:28 PM, John Murphy
look like shit

4:31 PM, Oh!
i don’t care how you look

4:34 PM, John Murphy
no i’m telling you to look like shit so everyone thinks i’m the pretty one

4:36 PM, Oh!
i’ll do my best. 5:30?

4:41 PM, John Murphy
cool.

---

Murphy made it to the diner just before 5:45. It had been harder than he expected to get himself out of bed and dressed. Luckily, Mbege wasn’t home so he didn’t have to deal with talking to him on the way out too.

Octavia was already waiting. She’d at least tried to comply with Murphy’s request to look ugly, wearing no make-up and an oversized sweatshirt. It wasn’t her fault she looked good anyway. When he sat in front of her, she hissed sympathetically, reaching over to touch his bruised hands. “How’s your face feel?”

“How’s it look?” It didn’t look good. His nose wasn’t broken, which was a relief, but it hurt, as did the black eye accompanying it. Bellamy had an excellent right hook. Murphy immediately banished Bellamy’s name from his head, closing his eyes to push any thought of him away again.

“Not good,” she said honestly. “I ordered you hashbrowns and bacon, is that still what you like?”

“Yeah.” He opened his eyes again. “I’m not really hungry, but yeah.”

“Have you eaten anything today?” He shook his head and she frowned at him. “You gotta eat something.”

“You eat,” he snipped, heatless.

Octavia shook her head and took a sip of her cocoa. There was a mug for him, too, and he picked it up to warm his hands on the ceramic. “Do you feel like talking about last night?”

He huffed out a laugh, looking down into his mug. There was a melting spiral of whip cream on top. “Not at all.”

“Okay.” Octavia nodded a little. “The rest of the party was fun though, huh?” She smiled a little. “Indra had a good time, I think.”

“Yeah, it was awesome,” he agreed. He relaxed in his seat, happy that she wasn’t pushing. They spent the rest of the meal discussing the highlights of the night, both of them carefully dancing around anything that had to do with Bellamy. Murphy ate all of his bacon and half of his hashbrowns. He did it for Octavia, even though the food felt heavy in his restless stomach. When they finished, Octavia paid without giving Murphy the chance to protest.

They went outside to smoke. Octavia was getting better at it, not half as awkward as she had been.

“We’re gonna keep hanging out, right?” she asked.

“What are we doing right now?” Murphy arched a brow at her.

She smiled a little. “Yeah. I just mean, later. You’re not going to try and ghost me?”

Murphy watched her thoughtfully for a long moment, before shaking his head. “Nah, O. I’m not gonna ghost you.”

Her smile was sweet, and Murphy finally allowed himself to admit to himself that he loved her. Her loved her now, and he’d loved her when they were children, and he’d loved her all the time in between, even when he had been so furious at her that remembering her name had filled him up with anger.

“I love you, O,” he said, and her smile grew wider.

“I love you,” she replied, and held his hand until they were done smoking and parted ways for the night.

---

Murphy didn’t stop talking to her, but things weren’t the same. Bellamy didn’t show up at the bar with her anymore. Instead it was just the two of them, and often Mbege, hanging out and joking and laughing like there wasn’t a hole in the room. Octavia didn’t mention Bellamy, and neither did Murphy. Murphy didn’t let himself think about Bellamy most of the time either, trying to let his raw nerves heal and scab over and scar so that maybe, eventually, the thought of him wouldn’t hurt so much.

It was nearly two weeks after the fight when Bellamy texted him. It was Sunday morning, and Murphy and Mbege were watching re-runs of Three’s Company, sharing leftover pizza from the night before.

10:12 AM, king douche
i know i shouldn’t be talking to you, but i just wanted to see if you were okay.

Murphy read the text three times, body going stiff. Mbege noticed, glancing over.

“What’s up?”

“Bellamy texted me,” Murphy said. His name tasted like ash.

“What the fuck?” Mbege frowned, irritated. “What did he say?”

“Checking on me,” Murphy said, clipped. He looked at his phone again, unsure what to do.

“Fuck him, man. Don’t even reply.”

“Yeah.” Murphy tucked his phone between his knees and looked back at the television, unseeing. “Fuck him.”

He replied almost an hour later, when Mbege wouldn’t notice.

11:02 AM, John Murphy
no thanks to you.

The reply was immediate.

11:02 AM, king douche
i’m really sorry, murphy. i can’t apologize enough.

11:04 AM, John Murphy
you really can’t.

11:05 AM, John Murphy
i don’t want to do this with you again, ok? i’m pissed and i don’t want to talk about it and i don’t want you to try to make it better.

11:07 AM, king douche
i get that, i really do

11:15 AM, king douche
but i really want to see you, so i can apologize in person.

11:19 AM, John Murphy
are you fucking illiterate

11:22 AM, king douche
no i know what you said. but it doesn’t feel right, not being able to apologize to you for real. i really fucked up and i don’t like that i hurt you

11:24 AM, John Murphy
my nose is fine, you can rest easy

11:26 AM, king douche
that’s not what i mean.

1:42 PM, king douche
let me buy you dinner and apologize, murphy. please?

Murphy tried to ignore him. He really, really did.

6:02 PM, John Murphy
it has to be on the southside somewhere, i’m not coming uptown. and if you piss me off, i’m leaving and you can’t follow me. and you’re not going to bother me again.

6:05 PM, king douche
deal. what time?

6:06 PM, John Murphy
don’t care. seven?

6:09 PM, king douche
okay. sandwich place on mahogany dr?

6:11 PM, John Murphy
fine

---

Murphy arrived at the sandwich shop five minutes early and stood outside to smoke. It was bitterly cold out, now, with December beginning in earnest. He had on several layers, with a sweater, hoodie, and jacket trying to seal in his heat. He smoked without the use of his hands, keeping them buried in his pockets while he puffed away.

Bellamy walked up as he was finishing, wearing a heavy black coat and a hesitant expression. “Hey,” he greeted, almost timid.

Murphy shot him a look and turned away to lead him inside without a greeting. They found a seat at a small booth against the window, conveniently located right under a heat vent. Murphy shrugged off his jacket to get comfortable, using it as an excuse to focus on anything but Bellamy seated right across from him. Their waitress came over before Bellamy could say anything, and Murphy ordered a grilled cheese and tomato soup. Bellamy asked for the same, with a coffee. The waitress hustled away to put in their order.

Bellamy was looking at him. Murphy tried to ignore it, examining his cuticles in a way he hoped came across as bored.

“You look good,” Bellamy offered, when the quiet became too unbearable for him to stand. “Your nose- it’s okay?”

“Yeah, you punch like a girl.” Murphy looked up through his lashes. “Barely bruised.”

Bellamy winced, looking away. Good. “I’m sorry,” he said, quiet.

“Yeah, you’ve already said that.” Murphy slumped back, crossing his arms.

“I know, but…” Bellamy trailed off, looking over at him. “Everyone is mad at me.”

A shiver crawled up Murphy’s spine, but he didn’t let himself react. That’s what this was about, Bellamy was tired of being the bad guy. “Sucks,” he said, voice dry.

“I mean- no, that’s not what I mean.” Bellamy sat up a little, frown deepening. “That’s not why I’m here, it’s not about them being mad at me. I know that’s my fault. It’s all my fault, really, I kind of- I deserve it. Them being mad at me and you- you being mad at me.”

“Yeah,” Murphy agreed. “You sucked.”

“I fucked up,” Bellamy agreed, and he had that look on his face, that one where his eyes went chocolatey and soft and so fucking sad. “I don’t have an excuse for my behavior. I was wrong.”

“Do you even know what you did wrong?” Murphy’s jaw clenched, because he wondered. He wondered if Bellamy even realized what he’d done.

“What did I do right?” Bellamy joked weakly, self-deprecating. Murphy didn’t react and Bellamy nodded a little, looking down at his hands where they were folded on the table. “Sorry.” He cleared his throat a little.

The waitress came back over, delivering coffee and water for both of them before bustling away again. Murphy picked up his coffee, taking a careful sip to test the heat. It was hard not to squirm in his seat. He hated this, hated that he was once again allowing Bellamy to force him to talk about his feelings. And he wasn’t even high, this time.

“When Octavia found us.” He cleared his throat again, looking back up at Murphy. “I just- I really panicked. It was so unexpected and I was… I was really drunk.” He pursed his lips, looking down again. “That’s not why- that’s not an excuse, and that’s not why I went in that closet with you, okay?”

“What do you mean?”

“I would have gone in that closet with you stone-cold sober.” Bellamy shrugged a shoulder, a slight flush rising in his cheeks. “You do something to me, Murphy, I-” He cleared his throat again, apparently some kind of verbal tic. It was beginning to grate on Murphy’s nerves. “I missed kissing you. I was happy to do it again.”

It was Murphy’s turn to look away. He picked up a spoon, stirring his coffee mindlessly. There was no reason to stir it, he’d left it black, but he needed to do something with his hands. “Fine,” he said.

“So- so, I panicked. Octavia seemed so upset and like… betrayed. It was like my worst nightmare, seeing her look at me like that.” Bellamy went quiet for a moment, looking at his hands again. “So I just started talking, saying anything I could that I thought would like… win her back over. I don’t know why such vile shit started coming out.” Murphy looked up at him again and he looked pained, head still bowed to hide most of his expression. “The stuff I said about you- I didn’t mean it.”

“Do you even remember what you said?” Murphy asked, low.

“That you could have been anyone.” Bellamy looked up at him finally, his eyes pained. It hurt to look at him, but Murphy didn’t look away, jaw clenched tight. “That you were nothing. That you didn’t mean anything to me.” His voice cracked at the end, and his eyes looked glassy and wet.

“Yeah. I remember too.” Murphy tore his eyes away, clenching his hands on the table top. He wanted to leave. He didn’t want to think about this anymore, didn’t want to see how hurt Bellamy looked, didn’t want to cave to the urge to forgive him.

“I didn’t mean it,” Bellamy whispered. “You’re not nothing, you’re Murphy. You’re- you’re so frustrating and so funny, you’re amazing. I didn’t mean it.”

“I don’t mean anything to you,” Murphy repeated. He dropped his hands into his lap, automatically picking at a loose piece of cuticle. He tore it away and it hurt, and the pain helped.

“You do,” Bellamy corrected. “You mean- something to me, Murphy. You’re my friend.”

“Do you know why it hurt me? Why it made me so fucking mad?” Murphy looked up at him again, trying to swallow back his rage.

Bellamy shook his head, meeting his gaze head-on. “No.”

“You sounded just like my fucking mother,” he hissed. “She used- she used to say that all the time, how.” He swallowed thickly. “How meaningless I was and how useless I was, and I never… I never thought I would hear that from you.” He let out a broken laugh. “We’re not nice to each other, Bellamy, but I thought I meant more than that.”

“You do,” Bellamy insisted.

The waitress interrupted them again to drop off their food. They didn’t speak until she walked away again.

“I can’t keep doing this with you,” Murphy said, looking down at his plate. He picked up his sandwich, ripping it into gooey shreds.

“Doing what?”

“Letting you- letting you get close.” He dipped a piece of his sandwich into his soup, and when he ate it, it tasted like nothing.

Bellamy didn’t say anything, watching him across the table. He hadn’t touched his own food, his hands still folded on top of the table.

“No one is supposed to hurt me like this,” Murphy said finally. He looked up at Bellamy, and all he felt now was tired, just tired all the way to his fucking bones. He wanted to go home and get in bed and never move again. “I don’t let people get close to me, Bell, and you keep forcing your way in and tearing me apart every time I think it’s going to be okay. I can’t do it, okay?”

“Murphy-”

Murphy shook his head, cutting him off. “I don’t care. I don’t care what you have to say. I forgive you, alright? You’re pardoned. You can tell all your friends, you can tell Octavia. I get it, you were drunk, you said things you didn’t mean. But you and me- we’re not okay.” He wiped his hands on his jeans, removing the grease from his sandwich. “And I don’t want to fix it. You can come around again, I don’t care, but I don’t want to talk to you. We’re not hanging out alone, we’re not talking alone, we’re just- you’re my friend’s brother. You can come around, but you’re not my friend. You don’t get- you’re not going to get to me again.”

“Murphy, please-”

“I fucking mean it.” He shifted, shrugging on his coat. “I’m done caring about you, Bellamy. I don’t even like that I ever did, and I’m not letting it happen again. I don’t want O to be mad at you, though, so I’m gonna play nice. But other than that, you just need to leave me alone, okay?” He stood up, fast enough that his knee knocked against the table.

“Murphy, hold on-”

“I’ll see you later. Don’t text me.” Murphy left without looking back. It felt like a boulder was sitting on his chest, constricting his heart and his lungs. When he got outside, he headed straight down the sidewalk towards home, wiping tears away from his eyes with rough hands before they could fall.

He went straight to bed when he got home, not bothering to take off anything but his boots. He sent one text before throwing his phone onto the floor and pulling his pillow over his head.

7:58 PM, John Murphy
talked to your brother tonight. we’re cool now. ease up.

Chapter Text

The month following their... reconciliation had been awful for Bellamy. If it could even be called a reconciliation, since Murphy hadn’t spoken directly to him since their dinner. Bellamy didn’t know how the last month had been for Murphy. He tried not to think about it.

Octavia had not been happy that he had forced Murphy to meet with him, even though he hadn’t really forced him to do anything. She hadn’t spoken to him for another week before finally letting up. Things were still a little shaky, but they were almost back to normal - as long as Bellamy didn’t mention Murphy at all.

Lexa also hadn’t been particularly pleased that Bellamy had cornered Murphy again, in her words. But she was proud that he had gone out on a limb to apologize. And she was also impressed that he had agreed to actually give Murphy his space - as long as he stuck to that, she said, he was doing everything he could and should do. If Murphy wanted to talk to him again, then it had to be Murphy’s call.

Murphy very clearly did not want to talk to him. Bellamy didn’t see him again until nearly Christmas, when Octavia invited him to City Lights for drinks with Lincoln and Indra. Murphy was on shift and sat with them for a couple of minutes. He didn’t look at Bellamy, didn’t greet him, and actually didn’t take his order, either. No one pointed it out, and no one really cared that Bellamy wasn’t actually drinking with them. After Murphy got off, Lincoln and Octavia went to hang out with him at his apartment and Bellamy went home alone.

Christmas was the worst. Octavia had another party at their house and once again invited Murphy and Mbege. There were enough people there for Bellamy to easily avoid him, sticking close to Lexa and Clarke for most of the night. But the thing was, he didn’t want to. He wanted to talk to Murphy, wanted to wish him a merry Christmas, wanted to tell him how nice he looked in his red sweater. But.

But.

He couldn’t. He wasn’t allowed to talk to him. Hell, he felt like he couldn’t look at him without getting the stink eye from Octavia, Mbege, Lincoln, Lexa or fuck- even Clarke was in on it. It left him sullen and reticent and he spent most of the party silently sipping his eggnog and wishing that Lexa and Clarke weren’t so fucking happy. Life was better when he and Lexa were both single and he didn’t have to spend all his time feeling like a third wheel.

“You’re depressing me,” Lexa said, dry. She shoved him with an elbow. “Can you please stop sulking and muster up some kind of holiday cheer?”

“I’m just not feeling it.” He took a sip of his drink, nudging her back.

“Bellamy,” Clarke said, kind. “Is this about Murphy? I know this must be awkward for you-”

“Please don’t do the Clarke thing,” he whined, closing his eyes. “I don’t want the pep talk or the guilt talk or really any kind of talk. I don’t want to talk.”

Clarke looked at him sadly and Lexa nudged him again, giving him what he secretly referred to as her Murder Eyes. They came out a lot, if anyone so much as looked at Clarke funny.

“Don’t be pissy with her because you’re all fucked up over Murphy,” she said calmly. “She’s not the one who-”

“Can we please go smoke and talk about anything other than this?” He rubbed his eyes with a sigh. “I’m sorry. I’m just not in the mood for a party. Clarke, I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“I know,” she said kindly, squeezing his arm. “You know, you’ve been smoking a lot, Bell. It’s not good for your lungs-”

“Sweetie, I love you.” Lexa kissed her cheek. “But that isn’t the battle to fight, okay? We’ll be right back.”

“You know I don’t want you to smoke,” Clarke said, patting her cheek. “But we’re working on that.”

“At least one of us is,” Lexa agreed, eyes twinkling. “See you in a bit.” She kissed her, and Bellamy had to look away. He didn’t like being jealous of Lexa, and yet. When they were finished, Lexa led the way out of the apartment and to the garden patio at the end of the hall. The both lit up, Bellamy having finally caved into carrying his own pack.

“So, what’s going on?” Lexa lifted a brow at him. Her hood was drawn up against the wind, one arm tucked across herself to cut off the chill.

“Same old, same old,” he said quietly, tapping his ash into the tray between them. “It’s cold out.”

“Nice try. Is it Murphy?” She took a drag and her face was temporarily lit by the ember.

“I feel like it’s always him, lately.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I thought it would be better, if I could be around him again, but-”

“But it’s worse. Because now you have to see him and you can’t talk to him.”

“Yeah.” He smiled at her tiredly. “Basically. I didn’t really realize how much I just… liked talking to him.”

“You know you like him, right?” She shifted her weight to see him better, tilting so his face was catching the light. “You legitimately have feelings for him.”

Bellamy shook his head with a laugh. “No-”

“You are so deeply in denial that I could not dig you out with a fucking bulldozer, Blake.” She huffed out a laugh. “Look. You’ve had a thing for him since he showed back up-”

“I didn’t know who he was,” he cut in.

“Does that change the fact that you met him and immediately wanted to fuck him?”

Bellamy glowered. “No.”

“Or that after that, you spent a ton of time with him, got to know him, and still wanted to fuck him?”

Bellamy shook his head, looking away from her. “Wanting to fuck someone doesn’t mean you have feelings for them-”

“Bellamy. Are you fucking kidding me?”

He wasn’t, because he couldn’t have feelings for Murphy. That would make things so much more complicated. And besides, he couldn’t do anything about it now. He and Murphy weren't even friends, much less anything else. And that didn’t hurt at all.

“No. And it doesn’t matter, Lex, he can barely look at me, okay?” He put out his cigarette when it nearly burnt his fingers and lit another. “I fucked it all up, so even if I liked him-”

“Like him,” Lexa inserted calmly.

“-it doesn’t matter. So can we not talk about it? Please?” He rubbed the heel of his hand against his eye, fighting off a wave of exhaustion.

“That’s the thing, Bell. You avoiding how you felt is the whole reason you fucked up. Maybe if you take some time to actually figure out how you feel, you can fix things. At least in here.” She tapped his temple. “Make it easier to accept the way things are now. You need to grieve.”

“Easier said than done,” he grumbled.

“Most functioning humans grieve something every day, even if it’s just that the coffee shop was out of bagels.” She shrugged a shoulder. “It’s called processing your emotions. You should try it some time.”

“Fuck off,” he mumbled.

The door to the terrace flew open and Mbege and Murphy walked out. Murphy was talking loudly, explaining something about snow, maybe. Bellamy couldn’t track the conversation, because the sight of Murphy walking towards him was enough to make his brain freeze. There was no where for him to go, no way for him to escape. Murphy was between him and the only exit. Unless Bellamy wanted to just jump off the roof, which wasn’t an unappealing idea at the moment.

“Shit- hey.” Mbege noticed them first, catching Murphy’s arm. “Let’s go find somewhere else to smoke.”

“What?” Murphy looked over and caught sight of them, his face splitting into a wide grin. “Lexa! Bellamy! What’s up!”

Bellamy felt a little woozy, hearing Murphy say his name again. He couldn’t make his mouth work, couldn’t figure out how to greet him or if he even should.

“Hey there,” Lexa greeted, lifting a hand. “How’s it going?”

“Good!” Murphy was already lighting a cigarette, despite Mbege’s wary glances. “Man, I fucking love eggnog. You like eggnog, Lex? It’s like, hot custard. But in a sexy way.”

Oh. Murphy was drunk. That explained it. Bellamy was still frozen in place, wondering if he could stay completely still and somehow not cross the line that Murphy had created.

“Yeah, I like it.” She huffed a laugh. “You having a good time?”

“Oh, totally.” He took a drag and looked at Bellamy, face splitting into a grin again. “Hey, I was thinking about you! Do you remember this, remember-” His hand went under his shirt and he pulled out a twisted piece of metal that was carefully tied to a length of leather. “Remember this?” He stepped closer so Bellamy could inspect it, and Bellamy could smell him now. “O made it for me, and she made you one too.” His eyes were odd, his lids a little lazy and his pupils smaller than they should be in the half-light.

He was high. He was definitely high. Bellamy’s stomach dropped. “Yeah,” he finally managed. “I remember.”

“Yeah.” Murphy grinned, nudging a little closer to him. “I thought I threw mine away, but I didn’t. I’m a sentimental piece of shit I guess- do you still have yours?” He looked up at him and he was too close, way too close. Bellamy felt like he was breaking every rule and he still didn’t want to step away.

“What’s he on?” Lexa asked, sharp, the words directed at Mbege.

“He took some Molly on the way over. Wanted to have a good time. I didn’t think this would happen.”

“Bellamy,” Murphy said again, trying to draw his attention back. “Do you still have yours?”

Bellamy looked at him again, swallowing thickly. “Yeah. I do, somewhere.”

“She made them to match, you know.” He flashed a grin. “I was a dumb piece of shit back then too, and she thought it would be cute. Since I was too young to date you, at least I could pretend we had something in common, right?”

“Hey, Murphy.” Bellamy rested his hands on his shoulders, gently guiding him back. “I’m gonna go inside, okay?” He didn’t know when he had dropped his cigarette, but he wasn’t holding it anymore. “I don’t think we should talk right now.”

“What? Why?” Murphy laughed, holding onto Bellamy’s wrists.

“You don’t want to talk to me, remember?” It hurt to admit it, but he wasn’t going to let Murphy do something he’d regret later.

“What?” He stared at him, grin slowly fading from his face. His hands dropped and he took a step back. “Oh. Yeah.”

“Yeah,” Bellamy said, voice cracking. “I’ll see you later.” He tried to smile and didn’t know if it came across right or not. He stepped around him and hurried inside, and back into the apartment. Lexa didn’t follow him. He found a drink as soon as he got inside and tried to act normal, even though his heart was racing.

Lexa found him a few minutes later, face grim. “They’re dumb motherfuckers,” she said simply. “They’re going to head back home in a few minutes, just gonna come say goodbye to Octavia.”

Bellamy nodded, swallowing. “Did I fuck up his high? I didn’t know what to say.”

“A little bit,” Lexa admitted. “His mood crashed a little, but he’s alright. That was good, Bell. You handled that right.”

He didn’t feel like he had. When Murphy and Mbege came back in, Murphy looked much sadder than he had before. They talked to Octavia for a while, giving her hugs and fending off her questions about why they were leaving so early. When they were gone, Octavia made a beeline for Bellamy and Lexa, eyes furious. Bellamy’s stomach sank.

“What did you do?” she hissed.

“Nothing,” he said.

“Bullshit!”

“He didn’t, O,” Lexa cut in. “Murphy was high. He forgot he wasn’t talking to Bellamy and got a little chatty out on the terrace. Bellamy reminded him about their…” She glanced at Bellamy briefly. “..deal, not to talk anymore, and he got a little upset. Mbege said he gets temperamental when he’s on what he’s on, so.” She shrugged a little. “Bellamy handled it the best way he could. You can ask Mbege if you don’t believe me.”

Octavia’s shoulders fell, anger disappearing when she realized it was misplaced. “Oh.”

“I’m going to bed.” Bellamy set his beer down, not caring that it was mostly full. “Merry Christmas.”

“Bell-”

He shrugged off Octavia’s hand and went upstairs, heaviness settling in his limbs. Octavia clearly didn’t trust him when it came to Murphy, for good reason. But it still hurt. He had tried everything he could to make up for what he’d done, and he was still being punished by everyone around him. It felt infantile to say it wasn’t fair, when he was absolutely the one who had been in the wrong, but it wasn’t. He’d made a mistake and suddenly no one believed he could be good. And Lexa had been right. He did have feelings for Murphy. Big, fat, ugly feelings that he couldn’t name and couldn’t get rid of. And he’d fucked all that up, too.

He hated himself more than anyone else could. That, he was pretty fucking sure of.

---

The next day was Christmas. Bellamy woke up early. He pulled himself out of bed and headed for the stairs, sure that Octavia would be up soon if she wasn’t already.

She wasn’t, but Lincoln was. He had already finished cleaning up from the party and was making them breakfast as usual, because he was the perfect man and probably would never actually do anything wrong. Bellamy sort of hated him for it, but he was also pretty pleased to know that at least one man in Octavia’s life probably wouldn’t let her down.

“Hey. Merry Christmas.” He pulled himself onto a bar stool, slumping forward. He folded his arms on the counter and put his chin on them, watching Lincoln putter around the kitchen.

“Merry Christmas,” Lincoln returned. He continued cooking in silence, glancing over at Bellamy after a while. “You seem down.”

“I’m happy,” Bellamy lied. “I’m fine.”

“Yes, you seem overjoyed. Filled with the holiday spirit.” Lincoln poured him a cup of coffee, setting it before him.

He sat up enough to sip at his coffee, sighing. “Are you going to pester me if I don’t tell you why I’m sad?”

“No. Octavia may.”

Bellamy huffed a laugh. “I don’t think she really cares how I feel right now.”

“She’s still mad at you, maybe. But she’ll always care about you.”

“Sure.” He closed his eyes and drank his coffee in the companionable silence.

When Octavia came downstairs, wearing the cutest footsie pajamas Bellamy had seen her in since she was two, he forced himself to put on happy face. It wasn’t hard, with Octavia radiating joy in waves. She greeted them both with cheek-kisses and didn’t complain at all about having to eat before they opened presents. She led the charge to the tree when they were done though, immediately separating the presents into stacks for each of them.

She opened hers first, of course. Bellamy was taking pictures of her on his phone for later Facebook approval when a text came through.

10:19 AM, John
sorry about last night. didn’t mean to do that. merry christmas.

Bellamy knew it wasn’t a text that asked for a reply, but he couldn’t help himself. He’d been so good for the past month.

10:23 AM, Bellamy Blake
don’t worry about it. didn’t mind, just didn’t want you to be uncomfortable later. merry christmas, murphy.

A reply came through shortly into Bellamy’s turn opening gifts. He resisted the urge to leap on his phone, finishing up his gifts and letting Lincoln start opening his before he snatched up his phone.

10:25 AM, John
maybe by next christmas we’ll be able to talk again.

10:33 AM, Bellamy Blake
hope so. i miss you. is that okay for me to say?

10:35 AM, John
yeah.

10:36 AM, John
merry christmas, bellamy.

This time Bellamy didn’t reply. He didn’t want to press his luck.

---

Bellamy didn’t see Murphy again for a while. He went to City Lights once with Lexa and Clarke to meet Octavia, and Murphy was working. He stopped by their table to chat with them, even though he wasn’t their server. Before he walked away, he glanced at Bellamy, giving him a short nod in greeting.

It made Bellamy feel okay, for the first time in a while.

Bellamy didn’t get an invitation to Murphy’s birthday, but that was alright. Lexa didn’t either, and Octavia mentioned that it wasn’t going to be a big party, just her, Murphy, and Mbege going dancing somewhere other than City Lights for once.

Bellamy let himself cheat, for that day only, and made first contact with Murphy.

11:47 PM, Bellamy Blake
happy birthday. didn’t want to miss it.

11:59 PM, John
thanks, bell

Not revolutionary, but enough.

In February, Lexa and Bellamy joined Octavia and Lincoln for drinks at City Lights as usual. It was Murphy’s day off, and he was supposed to meet them too. Bellamy was excited, no denying that. He got to see him so rarely at this point, every glimpse of him felt special.

But he showed up with a man. The dude was tall, definitely taller than Bellamy, and thin but muscular. He wasn’t particularly ugly, but in Bellamy’s opinion he may as well have been a goblin. He had his hand on Murphy’s hip, and a shit-eating grin on his face.

“Sorry I’m late,” Murphy greeted. He took a seat on one side of the table and the man sat right beside him. He had his arm around the back of Murphy’s chair. Bellamy’s hand clenched tight around the neck of his beer bottle, and he did his best to keep his face neutral. “This is Dax, he’s a friend.”

“Hi.” Octavia leaned forward with a smile, waving a little. “I’m Octavia-”

“Duh. Murphy said you were the hot one.”

Octavia looked a little surprised and Lexa snorted, taking a swig of her beer. “Hurtful.”

“Ignore him, his brain is fucking mush.” Murphy slapped a hand against his chest. “We got plans later tonight though, so he tagged along. Just ignore him.”

Bellamy found it impossible to ignore him. Every word he said and every expression he made grated on Bellamy’s nerves. He caught himself making cutting remarks almost every time Dax spoke, enough so that Dax caught on to what he was doing eventually, sneering. “You got a problem with me, man?”

“Nope,” Bellamy said, lip popping against the last syllable. “Think you’re imagining things.”

“I don’t think so.”

Bellamy smirked, taking a swallow of his beer. “Don’t think much period, do you?”

“O-kay.” Lexa stood up, heaving Bellamy out of his seat too. “Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, so we’re gonna head out. See you guys later.”

Thank you.” Octavia gave Bellamy an annoyed look. Bellamy couldn’t bring himself to care, flashing an arrogant grin at Dax.

“You’re being a cunt,” Lexa informed him when they got to the street, heading towards the subway station.

“That dude was a cunt.”

“Jesus Christ, Bellamy.”

He got a text while he was waiting for the elevator back at his apartment.

11:54 PM, John
that was my dealer, not my boyfriend, you absolute asshole

11:55 PM, John
he charged me double for my shit because of you

11:56 PM, Bellamy Blake
i am an officer of the law. i have to fight crime where i see it.

11:59 PM, John
i am going to strangle you with my bare hands.

---

Murphy started talking to him again in mid-March. It started with random digs in the middle of conversations. He still wasn’t really talking to Bellamy, or even really looking at him, but it was an improvement. By the time March was rolling into April, Murphy was making some actual eye contact with him. Everyone else around them was getting better too. For the most part, everyone had started letting him actually breath around Murphy without feeling the need to glare. Mbege was an exception, but that was absolutely fair. He’d never liked Bellamy anyway.

“I don’t want to sound insane, or get too excited,” Bellamy said, “But I’m pretty sure Murphy winked at me when he left the apartment last night.”

Lexa sighed, shaking her head. “Bellamy. Is this another one of those conversations where you try to dissect Murphy for using his eyes for seeing?”

“No.” Bellamy huffed. They were in their cruiser, on night patrol again. They’d been stuck on night shift for the last two weeks, losing absolutely every opportunity for social interaction except for their day off the night before. It was getting a bit taxing, constantly living on an alternate sleep schedule, but that was occasionally just how it went. Things would balance out again soon.

“You’re going to read too much into this and go overboard. He’s starting to tolerate you again, don’t fuck it up.”

“I just want to be his friend again, Lex. I know I’ve got a thing for him. I’ve accepted it like you told me too, but I’m not going to try anything. I’m serious.” He glanced over at her. “I just want to do it right this time.”

“You don’t sound like a man who has gotten over his feelings.” She turned the cruiser slowly down a side street.

“I’m not over them. I’m just accepting them and accepting that I fucked up any opportunity to have anything other than a friendship with him, so.” He shrugged. “I’m going to be the best damn friend ever.”

“You’re going to fuck this up,” Lexa said plainly.

Bellamy was opening his mouth to argue when a staticky voice came across their radio. “Domestic disturbance reported at 345 Mason Drive, apartment 6D. Units within range, please respond.

Bellamy picked up the radio. Lexa took a right at the next intersection. “This is unit 45, Officer Blake, responding. We are in route.”

Situation is unclear, please proceed with caution. Neighbors have reported yelling, but no confirmed signs of an altercation.

“Roger,” Bellamy confirmed. “Going in silent. We’ll do a door check and report back.”

Roger.

Bellamy put the radio back in it’s cradle, adjusting his seatbelt. “At least we’re actually getting to respond to a call tonight.”

“Gonna get to tell some dude to stop yelling at his wife. Yip-ee.”

Bellamy huffed a laugh. “It could be the wife.”

“It is literally never the wife.”

“Statistically-”

“Stop being a nerd.” She parked the cruiser outside of the apartment complex at 345 Mason and cut the engine. They climbed out together, both checking to make sure their belts were secure.

“I’m just say, sometimes it is the wife. Way less often, but sometimes.”

“What makes you think we’re getting the way less often?”

“A very strange version of optimism?” Bellamy suggested. Lexa snorted. They had reached the door of the apartment. It sounded quiet from this side of the door. “Maybe they settled down.”

“Maybe.” Lexa knocked. It took a moment, but the door finally opened a crack, a chain lock keeping the door from opening completely. The man that peeked out was older, with a receding hairline and a sweaty face, his eyes darting between them.

“What do you want?” he snapped.

“Arkadian City Police,” Lexa said. “We’re responding to a report of a noise disturbance. Are you doing alright tonight, sir?”

He slammed the door in their faces, and almost immediately there was shouting inside.

Bellamy stepped forward, knocking again. “Sir! Please open the door.”

There was no response from the man, but a women was screaming now, high and hysterical and incomprehensible. The screaming cut off abruptly, and then the wailing began.

Bellamy glanced at Lexa, who nodded. She stepped out of the way and they both pulled their guns from their belts, holding them at the ready. Bellamy stepped back and then kicked the door once, then again, busting the lock away from the wall. It slammed open against the opposite wall and they both rushed in. “Arkadian Police!” Bellamy shouted. “Hands up!”

The man was in the middle of the living room. A woman, Bellamy assumed it was his wife, was wailing on the floor, holding her face. On the coffee table were several stacks of what Bellamy was almost positive were bricks of cocaine, along with a scale and the materials needed to package it for distribution.

And the man had a gun, that he was pointing directly at Bellamy.

Blood rushed to his head. He forced himself not to sway, not to let it make him dizzy, and stood his ground, gun directed towards the floor. He wouldn’t shoot, not if he didn’t have to. There was still time to control the situation. “Sir. Put the gun down.”

“Shut up!” The man shouted. He didn’t look well, his complexion patchy and almost green.

“Sir, we can talk about this-”

The man fired before Bellamy could say another word and before Lexa could intervene. Bellamy didn’t know what happened next, but he knew he hit the ground. He heard two, three more shots, and had enough time to register that it was really cold, down on the floor, before he lost consciousness entirely.

---

He woke up, briefly, in the ambulance. He couldn’t feel anything, and all he could see were the white walls and the men and women in emergency respondent uniforms around him. He could see their mouths moving, but he couldn’t hear them. He could only hear the sirens. He thought his chest might hurt, but he wasn’t sure. He felt cold, though, and his eyes were heavy. It hurt to breath. He wondered if Lexa killed the man who shot him, because that’s what happened. That man fucking shot him.

He laughed, and then he was asleep again.

---

“Officer Blake? Can you hear me?”

Someone was shining a light in his eyes. He rose an arm to try and block it and nearly convulsed when it made something in his chest stretch, ripping a scream of pain from his throat. There was a mask over his face, and he felt like it was strangling him. He couldn’t fucking breath. He tried to pull it away, but the man with the light stopped him.

He didn’t know where he was. Everything was white and moving too fast. He was moving, but he was laying down. Someone was wheeling him somewhere, and it was loud. People were running around him, and the man with the light was right beside him, pushing his arm down to the bed. His face was sweet and concerned.

“My name is Dr. Jackson. You’re at Arkadian Central. You’ve been shot, but we’re going to help you. Okay? Do you understand?”

Bellamy just nodded, even though he didn’t. He was at the hospital, maybe, but where was Lexa? They were responding to a domestic call. Nothing should have gone wrong but now- he’d been shot, Jesus Christ, he’d been shot.

No- Did his mother shoot him? He’d just been talking to her, right? They were at the house and she was drunk, and she pulled a gun, and-

“Officer Blake, we’re going to put you under anaesthesia now. You’re going to have to breath deep for me, okay? You’ll be asleep before you know it, and you’ll feel better when you wake up.” Dr. Jackson put a different mask over his face and Bellamy tried to fight it, panic rising in his chest. Dr. Jackson held him steady, gently supporting his head while he breathed in the gas. Bellamy was crying. He could taste his tears rolling down his face and under his mask.

“Count with me. Ten, nine, eight-”

And Bellamy was asleep again.

Chapter Text

Murphy’s phone would not stop fucking ringing. He reached into his back pocket to silence it for the third time, rushing across the room to deliver yet another order to Mbege behind the bar.

“Jesus Christ, is every fucker on the southside trying to get loaded tonight?” he snapped. He slid behind the bar beside Mbege, grabbing the next order to help make drinks. Bree could run orders for both of them, but Mbege only had so many hands.

“Spring Break, I think. Got kids from uptown looking to get fucked up.” Mbege shrugged, shaking a cocktail. “Same reason we’re making all these dumb fucking drinks.”

“Fuck this, dude, they’re not even gonna tip.” Murphy grabbed a glass, pulling a beer. The head was shit, but at this point, who honestly cared? Not Murphy, that’s for sure.

“No fucking way they’ll tip.”

“Motherfuckers- Christ.” Murphy’s phone was ringing again, his hands too full to silence it. He passed off a tray with six beers to Bree as she ran over, shouting out the table number before grabbing his phone to silence it again. “Octavia’s called me like six times, she must be smoking with Jasper again. Last time she called to tell me that the stars are wrong.”

“The stars are wrong?” Mbege shot him a look.

“She never really said why, just kept saying they were.” Murphy rolled his eyes and put his phone away to get started on the next ticket.

“Rich Bitch is weird as fuck,” Mbege said, but it was affectionate. He’d warmed up to Octavia since the incident with Bellamy. Apparently choosing Murphy over her own brother had been enough to convince him she wasn’t the worst human alive.

“Yeah, she is.” He snorted, grabbing a shaker. “How the fuck do you make a cosmo again?”

“Just throw a cherry in with something and shake it real good. It’s what I’ve been doing.”

Murphy snorted. “We should probably know more.”

“No one ever orders anything but liquor and beer, why the fuck should- fuck.” Mbege pulled out his phone, glancing at it. “Hey, O called me too. And texted me to tell you to call her, SOS.”

“I’m sure it’s nothing.” Murphy rolled his eyes, passing off another tray to Bree. “I’ll call her in a few, we’re almost caught up.”

“Cool.”

It took about twenty minutes for them to catch up on the orders and for Murphy to scoot around to all of his tables to check in. When he was sure everything was calm enough that he wouldn’t be needed for at least five minutes, he signaled Mbege that he was going for a break and cut through the kitchen to get to the sidewalk. He lit a smoke and pulled out his phone; nine missed calls and several texts from Octavia were waiting. He didn’t bother reading them, calling her immediately instead.

“What, bitch, I’m working,” he said, as soon as she picked up.

“Murphy, something happened.”

Murphy felt his stomach drop. She didn’t sound good, voice raw. She was definitely crying, too. It took Murphy a moment to recalibrate.

“Okay, hey, what’s up? You okay?” He tapped his ashes, frowning down at his shoes.

“Bell got shot, he got shot, he and Lexa were on a call-”

Murphy went numb. She was still talking, but he couldn’t hear a word. Her first words were playing on a loop in his mind, radio static in an echo chamber. He dropped his cigarette, forgetting it existed. His phone would have fallen, too, if he didn’t have his hand clenched around it like a vice.

He sucked in a breath, and forced himself to focus in on her voice.

“-hospital, they called me, and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do and Lincoln’s out of town. He’s on his way back but he won’t be here for hours and what if Bell doesn’t have hours-”

“Octavia,” he said, firm. “Stop.”

She inhaled sharply, a whine crackling through the speaker. Murphy took another deep breath, closing his eyes.

“What hospital?”

“Arkadia Central. Murphy-”

“Okay. Where are you now?”

“At the apartment, I was in the shower when they called to tell me-”

“Okay. Deep breaths, O. It’s okay.” He pressed the knuckles of his free hand into his eye, trying to force himself to focus on Octavia instead of the dread invading his body. “You dressed?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. Okay.” He slammed his back against the brick wall outside of the fire door, letting out a harsh breath. “Can you get to the hospital by yourself?”

“Yeah, but Murph-”

“Go. Go right now. I’ll meet you there, but it might take me awhile. But I’ll be there soon.”

“Okay. Okay.”

“Okay. I’m leaving right now, I’ve just got to tell Mbege. I’ll be there in thirty minutes. When you get there, text me and tell me where you are. Okay?”

“Okay. Murphy, what if he-”

“Don’t say it. Don’t fucking say it, we don’t know anything. He might be fine.”

“What if he isn’t, Murphy, what-”

“He’s going to be fine! Shut up, fuck. Just go to the fucking hospital. I’ll be there in thirty minutes. We’ll figure out what’s happening then, okay?”

“Okay, I’m sorry-”

“Don’t be.” He swallowed, forcing himself to calm down. What would Bellamy say? “Don’t be sorry. You’re just scared. But we don’t know how bad it is, so we can’t think bad, okay?”

“Okay,” she whispered.

“Okay. Do you have your purse?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. Thirty minutes.”

“Thirty minutes.”

“I love you.”

“I love you.”

---

Murphy made it to the hospital in twenty minutes. He called a cab and took all of the tips out of their jar to pay for it. He couldn’t wait for a bus or the train he had to fucking- he had to fucking go. He had to get to Octavia and he had to see Bellamy. If Bellamy was even alive, if he wasn’t already dead, already on a table in some cold fucking hospital morgue-

He couldn’t stop thinking about it. About how Bellamy was probably dead. It happened all the time to cops, right? It was part of the job, and sometimes they got shot and sometimes they died, and Bellamy was part of a statistic now, he wasn’t Bellamy, he was just another dead cop, and he’d be a corpse when Murphy saw him next, just a fucking husk-

He couldn’t stop.

Octavia was waiting in the emergency room when he arrived. She was sitting by herself with a clipboard on her lap and a pen in her hand, but she wasn’t writing. She was staring down at her feet, tapping the pen back and forth on her knee in an erratic pattern.

“Hey, O,” Murphy called, heading straight over to her.

Octavia looked up sharply. Her face was swollen and pink, eyes red and irritated. She wasn’t crying, but she looked close. “Murphy-” She threw the clipboard into the chair beside her and leapt to her feet, grabbing him in a tight hug. She crushed her damp face into his neck. “Oh my God,” she said. She was shaking in his arms, and he could feel it when she started crying again. “Fuck. Fuck.”

Murphy squeezed her tight. He couldn’t keep track of what he was feeling, emotions oscillating too rapidly for him to manage. For the moment, he was just relieved to be with her. “I got you, O. I got here as fast as I could-”

“I didn’t know what to do,” she sobbed. She was obviously trying to stay quiet, speaking in broken whispers. “His boss called and told me and said he was sorry and like- like it sounded like it was really bad, and I didn’t- I didn’t know what to do-”

“I know.” He pressed a fierce kiss against her hair, cupping the back of her head to keep her close. “We’ll figure it out. It’s gonna be okay. Lincoln will be here soon, and he’ll be able to help-”

“I’ve been such a bitch to him,” she whimpered. Her nails were digging into his back and Murphy didn’t care. It was grounding, in a way. It was helping him focus on her instead of letting him fixate on what was happening to Bellamy. “It wasn’t- I didn’t mean it, I was just mad-”

“He doesn’t give a shit, O. He doesn’t care about that, he loves you.” He swayed with her slowly, trying to calm her down.

“But what if he thinks I hate him?” She leaned back a little to look at him, sniffling thickly.

Murphy shook his head, tucking a piece of her hair carefully behind her ear. He’d seen Bellamy do that sometimes, and she seemed to like it when he did it so- so maybe that was good. “He doesn’t think you hate him.”

Octavia nodded a little and lifted a hand to cup his cheek gently. “You’re crying,” she whispered.

Murphy hadn’t realized it, but she was right. His eyes were burning and his vision was blurry, and he could taste the salt. He nodded once, smiling weakly. “I’m scared,” he admitted.

She laughed a little and smiled back at him, wiping away his tears with the sleeve of her sweatshirt. “Me too.”

“Have they said anything? About how he is?”

She shook her head, swallowing thickly. “No, just- just that he’s in surgery. They wouldn’t tell me anything at first because they said they needed a parent or spouse, but.” She huffed a laugh. “So much for that, right?”

They sat down and Murphy helped her finish filling out Bellamy’s admittance paperwork. It was another thirty minutes before a nurse came to speak to them. “You’re here for Bellamy Blake, right?” she asked, sounding almost hesitant.

Octavia stood and Murphy stood up with her, putting a hand on her back. “Yeah,” Octavia said, voice cracking. “Is he okay?”

The nurse smiled a little and it looked sad. “You said you were his sister?”

“Is his sister,” Murphy snapped. “She is his sister.” His stomach was turning uneasily and his knees felt like water. This was it, she was going to say he was gone, she was going to tell them Bellamy was dead-

“He’s still in surgery,” she said. “I can’t tell you much, but the doctor will be out to speak to you as soon as there’s any news.”

“That’s it?” Octavia’s nose crinkled up, frustrated tears rising in her barely dry eyes. “That’s all you’re gonna say?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t say anything else-”

“Where’d he get shot?” Murphy almost didn’t recognize his own voice. It was raw and desperate, and he wished he didn’t sound so young. “You can tell us that, right? What was it?”

“I’m sorry-”

“What? His guts?” He clenched his fist, trying to contain all of the everything he was feeling. “His chest? Did it get his heart or his lungs or- or fuck, did he get shot in the face? Is his brain fucked up?”

She looked alarmed, holding up a hand. “I’m sorry, I can’t say-”

“But you know!” Octavia stepped forward a little, her mouth trembling. “You know, so just tell us. Is he going to be okay?”

The nurse let out a huff, frowning deeply. “I can’t say if he’s going to be okay or not. That’s above my pay grade, sweetheart, but-” She sighed. “It was a chest wound. I don’t know what was damaged, but the doctor’s are working to repair it right now.”

“Was that so hard?” Murphy muttered.

“You get that there are rules, right?” She gave Murphy an irritated look, before taking the clipboard from Octavia. “Got it all finished?”

Octavia nodded a little. “Yeah- you’re sure you can’t tell us anything else?”

“No, I’m sorry.” And at least she did kind of, almost sound sorry. “The doctor will be out soon to give you an update, just sit tight.” She walked back to her desk.

Murphy dropped into his seat, tugging Octavia down beside him gently. “Soon, yeah right.”

“Maybe it'll be quick. Maybe there’s not a lot of stuff to fix.” Octavia looked over at him with a weak smile. “That would be good, right?”

“Yeah,” he agreed. He threw an arm around the back of her chair. “That would be good.”

---

Mbege called at three, after the bar closed. So far, the doctor hadn’t come out to speak to them. Mbege promised to come down when the subways were running again to check on him and bring him a change of clothes.

Lincoln showed up at four in the morning, wearing his club jacket and carrying his helmet in one hand. He dropped it as soon as he reached Octavia, sweeping her off her feet and into his arms. Octavia burst into tears again at the sight of him, clinging to his shoulders. Murphy stepped away to smoke and give them a minute together.

He was exhausted. It felt like he had sand in his eyes and cotton in his ears, and the longer they went without hearing from the doctor, the more certain he became that Bellamy was never coming out. He was never going to see him again, never going to talk to him again, never going to touch him again. He’d spent months pushing him away, for what? It hadn’t meant anything.

The thought of losing Bellamy still made it feel like his chest was being ripped apart.

---

When the doctor finally came out, the sun was rising outside. Octavia had fallen asleep against Lincoln’s shoulder. The wave of relief at his appearance had been enough to wipe her out. Murphy had no such luck. He’d spent the last two hours drinking shitty vending machine coffee and staring at his shoes, wondering what it was going to be like to see Bellamy blue and waxy like his mother.

Murphy was broken from his morbid thoughts when the doctor stopped in front of them, clearing his throat quietly. “Are you guys the family of Bellamy Blake?” he asked. His voice was nice, sweet and calm. Murphy didn’t like it.

“Yes.” Lincoln nodded a little, careful not to disturb Octavia. “Do you have an update?”

“I do.” He smiled a little.

Lincoln shifted, gently rousing Octavia. She sat up dazedly, looking around the room with a frown before she caught sight of the doctor. She jerked upright, rubbing a hand across her eyes. “What’s going on?” she rasped. “Are you Bellamy’s doctor?”

“I am.” He shifted, crouching in front of them. “I’m Dr. Jackson. I’m sorry it took me so long to come out and speak to you, but it’s been a tough night.”

Octavia’s mouth pursed, tears rising in her eyes. “Oh, God, no-”

“No, no, no.” He set a hand on her knee gently, eyes deeply empathetic. “I’m sorry, that was a poor way to start. Bellamy’s okay, the surgery went very well.”

Octavia burst into tears, hiding her face behind her hands. Lincoln rubbed circles on her back gently, leaning down to coo into her ear. Murphy felt like the last cord holding him up had been cut, his whole body going numb. Bellamy was okay. He was alive. He was-

“Really?” Murphy said, slowly. He could barely hear his own voice. Everything felt muffled and far away. “He’s really okay?”

“He’s in recovery right now,” Jackson confirmed, turning his head to look at Murphy with a small smile. “You’ll be able to see him soon. Is it alright if I explain his surgery?” He looked back at Octavia, who nodded at him frantically. “Okay.” Murphy saw him squeeze her knee reassuringly. “When he was shot, Bellamy’s lung was punctured in three places. His lung collapsed, which made it very difficult for him to breath. We had to go in to remove any bullet fragments and repair the damaged lobes. It took a little longer than we expected, but it went very, very well. We didn’t have to remove any of his lung, which we were worried about.”

“So his lung is working again?” Murphy asked. “He can breath, he’s not like- he’s not gonna have trouble breathing?”

Jackson looked over at Murphy, smiling a little. “Eventually, he’ll be able to breathe with no trouble. But right now, that’s a little more difficult.” He looked at Octavia again. “We have Bellamy heavily sedated for the moment. He’s going to look a little scary when you see him, but it’s all to make sure he recovers okay.”

He explained that Bellamy would be on a ventilator for the next couple of hours, until they were confident that his lung could remain inflated on its own. There was also going to be some kind of tube in his chest where all the gunk they hadn’t already removed from his lungs could come out. Murphy didn’t understand most of it, and more or less stopped listening when he knew that Bellamy wasn’t going to die at any given moment. The doctor left them, promising to be back soon.

It was another hour before the doctor came back. He guided them to the elevator and took them upstairs to the intensive care unit, where Bellamy would be staying for the next few hours. When they stepped off the elevator, Dr. Jackson stopped them again. “I just want to remind you that he’s going to look a little scary when you see him. But he’s alright, and he’s not going to be on all these machines for long, okay?”

Octavia nodded rapidly. “Okay- please, can we just see him now?” Dr. Jackson smiled softly and nodded, leading them down the hall and to Bellamy’s room.

He had undersold how bad it would be. Bellamy was laid flat on his bed, eyes closed. His normally warm olive skin was pale yellow under the lights, and presumably from the blood loss and the fact that he’d almost fucking lost a chunk of one of his lungs. There was a tube down his throat, tape wrapped around it and binding it to his chin. Murphy could see how it was pulling at his mouth, how his lips were already dry and chapped. The blanket was folded down to the middle of his torso. There was a tube sticking out of the left side of his chest, draining down into a bag attached to his bed, full of dark mucus and blood. There was a big bandage above where the drainage tube was attached to him. Little stickers marked his chest where his heart monitoring sensors were placed, the machine beeping slow and steady beside him.

Octavia stepped forward, touching Bellamy’s hand hesitantly where it laid on the bed beside him. “Is it okay if I touch him?”

“Of course,” Jackson said. “Just be careful not to disturb any of the tubes.”

Octavia nodded a little and stood beside the bed, holding his hand between hers like it was made of glass. “Hey, big brother,” she said softly, voice thick. She leaned down to kiss his hair, whispering into his ear.

Murphy stepped back towards the door slowly. “Fuck,” he whispered.

“Murphy?” Lincoln touched his arm, and Murphy jerked away, almost tripping over his own feet.

“I gotta-” Murphy jerked a thumb over his shoulder and practically ran out, stomach turning. He found a bathroom as quickly as he could, and immediately hurled up all of the coffee in his otherwise empty stomach.

Bellamy was alive. He wasn’t okay, but he was alive. He was alive. Murphy had spent the last nine hours sure that he would never see Bellamy again, that he was gone forever, and now that he knew he was okay-

He didn’t know why he was crying on the bathroom floor, sobbing in big, racking waves that he couldn’t stop. He sat back, pressing his hands against his eyes in a desperate effort to get himself under control. It was stupid, he was stupid. Bellamy was fine.

The thought just made him cry harder.

It took some time but he realized that the feeling was overwhelming him was relief. The sight of Bellamy alive, with his heart blip-blip-blipping in strong waves on the monitor had been the last thing he needed to cut the tension that had built and built inside him since Octavia had called. Bellamy was okay. Murphy wasn’t going to have to see him cold and plastic like his mother. He wasn’t going to have to help Octavia plan his funeral. He was going to get to see him again, hear him again, look into his eyes again and see life reflected back.

It was the happiest moment of his whole fucking life.

Chapter Text

When Bellamy woke up again, he felt like he was full of sand. It felt like he’d been out longer this time, like hours upon hours instead of minutes. Just opening his eyes took too much effort. But he managed, slowly looking around the room. Definitely a hospital. There was a curtain drawn across the room to his left. The clock on the wall read 12:22. It was dark, so he could only assume that meant it was a little bit after midnight. He was wearing a hospital gown. He was tucked under sterile white blankets, for the most part. A soft pink blanket covered in unicorns was serving at his top layer, tucked up to nearly his armpits and ending right below his knees. Someone was sleeping in the chair beside his bed, laying against the edge of his mattress with the back of their head to him. And that hair, he’d recognize anywhere. He’d been braiding that hair for twenty years.

He lifted his arm slowly, laying his hand on the back of Octavia’s head as gently as he could when he felt like his limbs were made of jelly. She didn’t stir, but that was okay. Bellamy needed to close his eyes, just for a minute, and then maybe he’d be able to speak.

---

When he opened his eyes again, the sun was up. The light was a little abrasive at first, making him squint. He turned his head to the right and away from the window. There were flowers on the table beside him, along with little boxes of chocolate and a stuffed lizard from God knows where.

“Bell!”

Bellamy turned his head slowly to Octavia, who was still sitting beside him. She looked like she hadn’t had a shower in a while, her dirty hair pulled up into a messy ponytail. Also, she was wearing pajamas in public, so things must have been pretty dire. “Hey,” he croaked, throat dry. Tears immediately sprung up in her eyes and he reached out a hand slowly, making shushing sounds. “M’okay,” he murmured. “M’okay, O, shh.”

She took his hand and kissed the back of it gently, smiling as much as she could through her tears. “You scared the shit out of me,” she whispered. “You’ve been out for like three days, you son of a bitch.”

“Mm,” he nodded a little bit, smiling crookedly. “Guess I was really tired.”

“Shut up.” She laughed a little, kissing his hand again. “I love you.”

He smiled and closed his eyes. “Love you.”

“Try and stay awake, okay? I’m going to get the doctor.”

He nodded and tried to focus on staying awake. He made it long enough for the doctor to come in and do a brief check up. “You were shot while you were answering a call,” the doctor informed him.

“Remember that much,” he said quietly. His throat felt a little better. Octavia was giving him water, holding his straw for him. The water was ice cold and tasted better than anything else he had ever had in his whole entire life.

“The bullet pierced one of your lungs. We had to go in and repair it. You were on the ventilator for a day or so to help keep you breathing, but luckily we didn’t need to keep you on it for long. We kept you under until we could wean you off the vent. We’ve been waiting for you to wake up for about thirty-six hours since then, so we were getting a bit concerned.” The doctor smiled kindly. “Lucky for you, we also already evacuated the remaining blood and fluids from your lung and we were able to remove your chest tube. We did that this morning, and so far, so good. Your lung looks good, doesn’t seem to be in any danger of collapsing again. It’s gonna hurt to breath for a while, but you’re absolutely out of the woods.”

Bellamy nodded a little, eyes drooping. “Thanks, doc. I’m still feeling really tired.”

“Your breathing still isn’t at one hundred percent.” He patted Bellamy’s knee. “You’re gonna be sleepy. Just rest, we’ll talk more later.”

 

Bellamy nodded and closed his eyes. Octavia sat down beside him again. Lincoln had entered while the doctor was talking to them, standing back against the wall.

“Hey, Lincoln?” Bellamy murmured.

“Yeah? I’m right here.” He heard Lincoln step closer. He imagined that he was standing behind Octavia, like some sort of hulking guardian angel. It made him smile.

“You’re not so bad.”

Lincoln chuckled and Octavia kissed Bellamy’s hand. “Not so bad yourself, officer.”

Bellamy fell asleep again.

---

When he woke up, there were way more people in the room. Octavia was still sitting at his side, though now she was perched on the edge of his mattress. She had taken a shower, it seemed, her hair loose and damp. Lincoln was sitting in one of the other chairs against the wall by the window with Jasper in the chair next to him.

The curtain on his left had been pulled back to reveal Lexa in the bed beside him. Clarke was sitting beside her, holding her hand the same way Octavia was holding Bellamy’s. Lexa was awake too, letting Clarke help her drink water. She was the first person to notice that Bellamy was awake again, flashing him a smile. “Hey,” she greeted.

“The fuck are you doing here?” he asked hoarsely. Octavia left his side for a half-second, leaning back over with water that she urged him to drink.

“What the fuck do you think? I got fucking shot.” She grinned at him.

“Fuck you, I got shot.” He glowered. “Stop stealing my thing.”

She croaked out a laugh. “We both got shot. So did the guy, in case you were wondering. The wife got his gun, shot that motherfucker right in the face.”

“Christ, but I wanted to do that.” He shifted and winced at the flare of pain. “Fuck.”

“Heard you got a collapsed lung. Sick.” She reached out a fist and he stretched a little to knock their knuckles together.

“What about you?”

“Got me in the stomach.” She shrugged a shoulder. “Got one of my ovaries and grazed my bladder so it hurts pretty good to piss. Lost the ovary. Dude was a terrible shot.”

“That sucks.”

“Eh.” She looked up at Clarke. “Don’t think I was gonna have a bun in the oven anytime soon. We got a spare bakery, anyway.”

“You’re not funny,” Clarke said kindly, stroking the back of her hand over Lexa’s cheek. Lexa smiled a little, covering Clarke’s hand with her own.

“I’m a little funny.”

“You’re not.”

Bellamy looked away, catching sight of Monty and Harper in another set of chairs. He smiled at them a little. “Hey, how’d you guys get here? You’ve got school, right?”

“You’re a little more important than school,” Monty pointed out, smiling that sweet, sweet fucking smile of his. Made Bellamy want to pinch his cheek. “And anyways, it’s spring break.”

“You should be doing something fun, then. This isn’t fun.” Bellamy wrinkled his nose.

“We’re having fun,” Harper said, smiling. “Don’t worry.”

“Will you drink this fucking water?” Octavia said, calling his attention back to the straw that she had been very politely holding for him for the last five minutes. “I swear, Bellamy, you’re the worst patient.”

“You’ve obviously never met yourself.” He took a sip of the water obediently. In doing so, he caught sight of Murphy for the first time. Murphy, who was hovering against the wall beneath the television and right beside the door. Murphy, who looked very much like he hadn’t slept, and looked very, very small. Bellamy didn’t say anything, mouth losing track of his straw. Murphy gave him a small, tight smile and slipped out the door without a word.

Bellamy tried to sit up and immediately hissed and fell back at the unexpected pain. “Shit-”

“Take it easy.” Octavia pushed his shoulder back down gently. “You’re still healing, idiot. And you’ve got a catheter in, so I don’t think you want to fuck with that.”

“Okay,” Bellamy said. He looked around her towards the door, but Murphy was long gone.

---

Eventually, Bellamy and Lexa got a little too tuckered out from all of their guests, and everyone but Clarke and Octavia left for the night. Lincoln promised to water their plants when he got back to their apartment.

The four of them sat up for a while, chatting quietly and watching some old, dumb Adam Sandler movie. Bellamy fell asleep in the middle with Octavia at his side, still holding his hand.

When he woke up, the curtain between the beds had been drawn, and Bellamy was pretty sure he could hear Lexa snoring softly on the other side. The television was off and the only other noise was the beeping and hissing of the machines around him. Octavia was gone.

But there was still someone holding his hand.

Murphy had returned, it seemed. He was sitting in the chair beside Bellamy, one hand holding his and the other tucked under his chin and resting on his elbow, his face directed towards Bellamy, but his eyes closed. Bellamy didn’t say anything, taking a moment to just look at him. He looked even more tired up close, soft purple circles marking the nearly translucent skin under his eyes. Even though he seemed relaxed and nearly asleep if not already there, his mouth was still pursed and tense.

Bellamy shifted a little, gently squeezing Murphy’s hand. “Hey,” he rasped.

Murphy’s eyes snapped open immediately. “Fuck,” he said, eloquent. He let go of Bellamy, much to his disappointment, but he was back immediately, offering up a fresh cup of water. “Drink this, Octavia said you’re dehydrated.”

Bellamy drank without argument, tipping his head forward awkwardly. Murphy scooted closer and cupped the back of his head gently, supporting his head so he wouldn’t get a crook in his neck or something, Bellamy guessed. When he drank enough to please Murphy, he set the cup to the side and sat back, twisting his hands in his laps.

“When did you get here?” Bellamy asked, quiet. “It’s late.”

“Octavia was really tired, so I offered to sit with you so she could go get some sleep at home.” Murphy shrugged a little. “She thought she’d be back before you woke up, so.”

Bellamy nodded a little, watching him. “That was nice of you. I don’t think she’s left at all.”

“She hasn’t,” Murphy confirmed. “She’s been a mess, dude. She called me on her way to the hospital the day you…” He paused, and Bellamy could see his throat working. “...the day you got shot, and she was in hysterics.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, quiet. “Definitely didn’t mean to get shot.”

Murphy scoffed. “Obviously. Apologize to Octavia, not me. She’s the one that’s been here all the time. She’s all afraid she’s been too mean to you or something, so now she’s on a crusade to be the world’s best sister.”

“Finally,” Bellamy joked, smiling a little. “Thank you for sitting with me, Murphy.”

“It’s fine.” He looked down, tugging at a rip in the knee of his jeans. Bellamy watched him for a while, indulging himself. It had been a long time since Murphy had willfully chosen to spend time with Bellamy.

“Hey,” Bellamy said after a while. “Can I ask you to do something?”

“You’re so needy,” Murphy said immediately. “Yeah, what?”

“Can you hold my hand again?” Bellamy extended his hand to him just a little, palm up. “You can say no, but-”

Murphy shifted forward, weaving their fingers together gently. “Shut up,” he murmured.

Bellamy shut up, squeezing his hand gently. He didn’t look away, watching Murphy. Murphy was staring right back at him. Murphy shifted a little to twist his other arm under his head, laying against the side of the mattress.

“Does it hurt?” he asked, quiet.

“My chest?” he clarified. Murphy nodded, and Bellamy hummed. “Yeah, sort of. It hurt different, before. I think I was in shock, and I wasn’t breathing right so I… hallucinated, a little. I think.” He ran his thumb gently over Murphy’s knuckles. “I thought it was my mom.”

Murphy frowned, tilting his head a little. “What?”

“I thought it was my mom, that shot me.” He smiled faintly. “I thought… I thought I was seventeen again. And that mom shot me that day in the house.”

“Bell,” he said, slow, and Bellamy shook his head before he could say anything else.

“I’m okay,” he said. “It was awful and… and scary, but I’m okay. I remember everything now.”

Murphy nodded a little. His thumb bumped into Bellamy’s, gently rubbing against it like they were acting out the world’s most delicate thumb war. They didn’t talk for a while again, watching each other across the bed.

“I was scared,” Murphy said, after a while. “I thought-” He swallowed and closed his eyes, wincing a little. “I thought you were going to die. You looked really, really bad.”

Bellamy let go of his hand, reaching to graze his knuckles against his cheek instead. “Hey, it’s okay-”

“It’s really not okay,” Murphy interrupted, voice cracking. “It’s really not okay, Bellamy.” He covered Bellamy’s hand with his, making him cup his cheek. “I really thought you were dead, and I haven’t done anything but be a dick for you for like, months-”

“Hey, hey, no.” Bellamy brushed his thumb against his cheek, so frustrated that he couldn’t do more without straining his body. “You haven’t been a dick, you set a boundary-”

“It was shitty, it was dumb.” He looked up at Bellamy again, his eyes damp and so, so blue. “You almost died and the last thing I did was call your hair dumb? That’s bullshit, that’s so bullshit.”

“My hair wasn’t dumb?” Bellamy joked weakly.

“No, it was totally dumb, but that’s a shitty thing to say,” Murphy said wetly. He shifted up to sit on the edge of the bed. He lifted his hand to touch Bellamy’s cheek too, touch hesitant and soft. “I’m really sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry.” Bellamy slid his hand back, curling his fingers Murphy’s hair. He pulled him closer, hiding a wince when it made the muscles in his chest flex. He pulled him down until their foreheads were pressed together. “Don’t be sorry, Murph, it’s okay.”

“I didn’t want you to die thinking that I hate you. I don’t hate you.” Murphy didn’t break their gaze, petting his hand back through Bellamy definitely gross hospital hair. “I don’t.”

“I know,” Bellamy said softly. “I don’t hate you either.”

“You don’t?” Murphy smiled a little.

“No.” Bellamy tipped his head up, kissing him very gently and very briefly. “I don’t hate you at all.”

“I don’t hate you at all,” Murphy repeated. He dipped his head down, nuzzling gently into Bellamy’s throat. Bellamy put his arms around him carefully, giving him a gentle tug.

“Come here,” he murmured. “You can lay with me, just stay on that side-” He helped Murphy down, helped him arrange his body so that he was laying against the side of Bellamy that felt mostly okay. He positioned Murphy’s hand on he chest when he seemed hesitant to touch him, and wrapped one arm around him, the other stroking through his hair gently. “There. That works, right? This is okay?”

“Yeah,” Murphy said, face tucked back into the crook of his neck. “This is okay.”

“Okay,” Bellamy murmured. He kissed the top of his head gently, exhaustion seeping back into his bones. “I’ve got to sleep. I can’t keep my eyes open-”

“Okay.” Murphy shifted like he was going to get up, and Bellamy squeezed him close again, gritting his teeth against a hiss of pain.

“No- no. Stay, please? If you want to stay, I want you to stay.”

Murphy nodded a little, nuzzling against his shoulder carefully. “Okay,” he murmured. “Then go to sleep. I’ll be here.”

“You’re not going to leave when Octavia gets back?”

“Do you want me to stay?”

“I want you to stay,” Bellamy whispered.

“Then I’ll be here.” He felt Murphy press a feather-light kiss against his throat before he settled in against his body. Bellamy closed his eyes, and let himself sleep again.

Chapter Text

Murphy slept the night with Bellamy, squeezed into his hospital bed. He woke up before Bellamy or Lexa the next morning and carefully extracted himself from Bellamy’s arms. He didn’t go far, just ran to the bathroom before returning to his bedside to hold his hand. Octavia returned before Bellamy woke up and told Murphy he could go. Murphy stayed.

He and Bellamy didn’t talk about it, but Murphy didn’t feel like they were avoiding it. It just felt like they didn’t need to. Not yet.

Lexa was discharged at noon. Clarke took her home, but Bellamy had to stay another night for precautionary monitoring. Murphy stayed with him and Octavia until eight that night, when he was forced to leave for work.

“You sure you’ve got to work?” Octavia asked, frowning. “You look beat, Murph, you should get some sleep.”

“Nah. Thanks for that, by the way. I look great.” He sniffed, tucking a hand into his pocket. He was still hovering beside the hospital bed. “I gotta go in, Mbege’s been covering for me all week. He needs a night off.”

“Then you’re gonna go get some sleep, right?” Bellamy said. Murphy looked over, and Bellamy was watching him with calm eyes, a small smile quirking up the corner of his mouth. “You do look tired, Murph.”

“Yeah, well you look great.” Murphy huffed, running a hand through his hair. “You fucking Blakes even look good with bullet wounds.”

“Just good genes,” Bellamy drawled, smile turning into a smirk. “I’m sorry we can’t all be so lucky.”

“Fuck off.” Murphy flipped him off and leaned down to give Octavia a hug. “I’ll check in when I get off work.”

“Okay.” She kissed his cheek, giving him a firm squeeze. “You’ve been really great with all of this, Murph. Thank you-”

“Don’t mention it.” He straightened up, clearing his throat. He looked at Bellamy again, chest clenching up. He knew that Bellamy was out of the woods, that the extra night was just precautionary, but it still felt wrong to leave him in the hospital. Octavia would be there, sure, but-

It just felt wrong.

Bellamy reached over, knocking their knuckles together. “Go to work. I’ll see you later.”

Murphy nodded once, knocking his hand back against Bellamy’s before tucking his hand back into his pocket. “I’ll be back tomorrow.”

“I’m going home tomorrow.” Bellamy had that look in his eye again, that look where his eyes went all chocolatey and soft and crinkled at the corners. He’d been looking at Murphy like that all day and honestly, Murphy was tired of how it made his stomach flutter.

“Yeah, well, fuck me then, I guess.” Murphy looked away. If he kept looking at him, he'd never be able to leave.

“I’ll text you,” Octavia offered. “You can come over for dinner, okay?”

“Maybe.” Murphy shrugged. “If you guys haven’t gotten enough of me already this week.”

“Not yet,” Bellamy said simply. “Give it another few days, though-”

Octavia laughed and Murphy flipped him off again, spinning for the door. “Fuck you, Bellamy.”

“See ya, Murph,” he called.

---

When he got off work, he texted Octavia to check in. He was tempted to just get a ride to the hospital, but he’d promised to check in, not to waste thirty dollars to get uptown again. And he was going over for dinner the next day, anyway. He didn’t need to go back to check on Bellamy.

He just really, really wanted to.

3:12 AM, John Murphy
how’s it going?

3:14 AM, Oh!
it’s bellamy, octavia is asleep. i’m fine.

3:15 AM, John Murphy
go the fuck to sleep!! what are you doing?

3:16 AM, Oh!
watching a documentary about WWII

3:18 AM, John Murphy
and that didn’t put you to sleep?

3:19 AM, Oh!
shut up. this shit is fascinating.

3:20 AM, John Murphy
nerd

3:22 AM, Oh!
i’m sorry i have a deep respect and love for history

3:23 AM, John Murphy
i’m sorry too

3:25 AM, Oh!
go home and go to sleep, murphy

3:26 AM, John Murphy
you go to sleep

3:28 AM, Oh!
i’m not tired

3:30 AM, John Murphy
neither am i

Murphy put out his cigarette, still standing outside of the bar and trying to decide if he should go ahead and call for a cab or just go home. He was about to make the call when his phone started buzzing in his hand, Octavia’s name and picture flashing on his screen. He answered.

“Bellamy?”

“I call bullshit. You’re tired, Murphy. Go home.”

“Too late.” Murphy caught himself smiling and wiped a hand across his face to dispel it. “Already called a cab.”

“Cancel it.” There was a crackling noise and a grunt. Bellamy was moving around in bed, probably trying to get comfortable. “You need to get some sleep.”

“You first.” He kicked a pebble across the sidewalk and slowly started walking towards home.

“I’ve been out cold for days. I think I’ve rested enough.”

“Now I’m calling bullshit.”

“When was the last time you slept in your bed?”

Murphy didn’t say anything.

“Murphy.”

“Day before you went into the hospital,” he admitted.

There was a muffled laugh. “Did you even go home?”

Murphy made an annoyed sound. “Once. I took a shower.”

Another laugh. “I’m touched.”

“You should be, asshole.” He could feel heat crawling up his neck and he rubbed at his scalp, irritated and a little embarrassed. Bellamy didn’t say anything and they stayed on the phone in silence for a while, just breathing.

“I want you to sleep. Don’t want you to get sick, okay?”

“I’m fine, Bell, it’s not a big deal.” He pulled his keys out of his pocket with his free hand, walking up the steps to his apartment.

“You’re not the only one allowed to worry.”

Warmth sprang up in Murphy’s stomach. “You worried about me, Blake?”

“All the time.”

Murphy smiled to himself, sorting through his keys. “Shut up.”

“Just telling the truth. Are you home yet?”

“No, I told you, I’m waiting for my cab.” He unlocked his door, stepping quietly into his apartment. He closed the door after him, hanging his keys and coat by the door.

“Not getting off the phone until you’re in bed.”

“I’ll be there in thirty minutes. I’ll sleep with you.” If Bellamy said yes, he’d call a cab as soon as he hung up.

“O’s here.”

“So?” He went into his room, closing his door.

“Can’t kiss you the way I want to with my little sister on a cot beside us.”

“Bellamy.” He huffed a laugh, balancing his phone between his ear and shoulder while he took off his jeans.

“I mean it.”

“You’re still an invalid. Talk to me when you’ve got two functioning lungs, alright?”

“Holding you to that. Are you home yet?”

Murphy flipped off his light and flopped on his mattress, keeping his phone pressed to his ear. “Yeah, Bell,” he murmured, closing his eyes. “I’m home. Keep talking.”

“Are you in bed?”

“Are you going to hang up if I say yes?”

“No.”

“Then, yeah. Just got in bed.” He put an arm over his eyes. His exhaustion settled over him like a blanket as soon as he got settled.

“Good. Are you going to sleep now?”

“Are you?” He hummed, kicking his feet to get them under his sheets.

“In a little bit, probably.”

“Mm.” He didn’t know what else to say. His mind felt floaty, drifting already. He didn’t want to sleep, though, didn’t want to hang up.

“Go to sleep.” Bellamy voice went soft, barely a murmur. “You’re tired.”

“Am not,” he grumbled, petulant. “Don’t hang up.”

“I won’t. You want me to tell you a bedtime story?”

“Not a kid,” he mumbled. He twisted onto his side, nuzzling into his pillow.

“Want me to be quiet?”

“No.” He fought to keep his eyes open, restless legs kicking out against his blankets. “Talk to me, Bell. Just talk.”

“Okay.” He was quiet for a moment, long enough that Murphy would have complained if he wasn’t beginning to doze. “I wish you were here. I slept so good with you.”

“I’ll come,” he mumbled. “Just gotta put on pants.”

“No, just relax. Relax.”

Murphy hummed and closed his eyes. With Bellamy’s voice in his ear, he could almost pretend Bellamy was in bed beside him. Bellamy kept talking, murmuring something that Murphy couldn’t keep up with no matter how hard he tried. He fell asleep like that, letting the cadence of Bellamy’s voice lull him to sleep.

---

Murphy slept for almost twelve hours, waking up some time after two, groggy and hungry as fuck.

He rolled out of his bed and went straight for the kitchen, stumbling blurrily to the fridge. He pushed aside containers of old fast food to grab a box of leftover pizza from at least five days before. He took the entire thing with him to the living room and dropped on the couch beside Mbege, who was watching television as usual. Murphy opened the box on his lap and immediately began eating, only pausing to take a hit from the bowl Mbege offered out at some point between slices two and three. When he finally set the empty box aside, he had five slices of pizza packed into his stomach and a pleasant body high that almost had him convinced to go back to sleep.

“Good to see you home,” Mbege said. When Murphy tucked his toes beneath his thigh, Mbege put an arm around his knees automatically, squeezing his thigh gently. “Was getting worried about you, dude.”

“I’m good.” Murphy closed his eyes, leaning back against the arm of the couch. “Don’t worry so much.”

“Just saying. You’ve been all fucked up since that dickhead got shot.” Mbege shrugged, and when Murphy opened his eyes, Mbege was watching at him.

“You’re killing my vibe,” Murphy drawled, squinting at him. He hadn’t been looking forward to Mbege questioning him, but he’d known it was coming. Murphy was the one everyone assumed held grudges, but he was nothing compared to Mbege.

“Just because he got shot doesn’t make him not a dickhead.” Mbege rose a brow. “Or did you forget how he hid you from O like you were some shameful little secret? Or how he hit you?”

“I hit him first.” Murphy was already tired of this conversation.

“Yeah, because he said-”

“Dude, I know what he said.” Murphy shifted, sitting up straight. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Why? Because he got shot?”

“No, dick, because he almost fucking died.” Murphy glowered, kicking his thigh lightly. “That’s a game changer.”

“Almost dying doesn’t mean you have to forget all the shit he’s done to you-”

“Dude.” He shook his head, pulling his legs away to tuck them under his own body. “Bellamy’s fucked up, alright? He did a lot of shitty stuff and so did I, but it’s been months. He's done everything I asked him to. He gave me my space, but I’m fucking tired of space. I fucking miss him. I’ve missed him for months.”

“I don’t get it,” Mbege snapped. He sat up too, turning to face him. “Why the fuck would you miss him? He barely treated you like a person-”

“Shut up, dude.” Murphy clenched his jaw. His heart was beating hard enough for him to feel the pulse in his hands, stomach going tight. He didn’t know why he was getting so angry, why suddenly Mbege shit talking Bellamy was enough to make his blood boil. “I know you don’t get it, I know he’s a dick sometimes-”

“All the time,” Mbege cut in.

No. Not all the time.” Murphy leaned towards him. “I can’t explain how it- fucking works, okay? I never fucking felt this way about anyone. It’s not like you or O, it’s- it’s fucking intense.” He had to look away, not caring for the hard way Mbege was staring at him. “He left me alone for months, and I didn’t- I didn’t stop feeling it, like.” He shook his head and slumped back into the couch. “Man, fuck you- fuck you, I can’t explain how it feels, but it’s like- he turns everything up to eleven up here, every feeling.” He tapped his temple, looking at Mbege again. “He makes me angrier and happier and more everything than anyone else, and I don’t know why, I just know it’s him.”

“Dude, alright- calm down.” Mbege sighed and slumped back too, looking over at him. “I’m just worried about you, I don’t want you to fall back in with him and have him fuck you up again-”

“He won’t.” Murphy shook his head, looking down at his feet. He curled his toes against the fabric of the couch. “He won’t do it again.”

“How do you know, though?” Mbege asked, quiet. “Nothing’s changed, Murph.”

“I just- I know.” Murphy pulled his fingers back through his hair, tugging at knots. “It doesn’t matter if he does, anyway.”

“What the fuck are you talking about? Of course it matters-”

“I’ve been pushing him away for months. I haven’t spoken to him, I’ve barely seen him and… Christ, dude.” He looked up at him, shoulders slumping down. “I thought he was dead and I almost lost it.”

Mbege frowned at him, reaching over to squeeze his knee. “I’m just worried about you,” he repeated.

“I get it.” Murphy shrugged, crossing his arms over his stomach. “And I don’t know what he and I are doing right now, anyway. I just want to play it out.”

Mbege squeezed his knee again, watching him in silence. “Alright,” he said, finally. “I’ll stop bugging you about it. But if he fucks up again, I get to kick his ass.”

“What if I fuck it up?” Murphy gave him a tired smile.

“Then I’ll kick your ass. Obviously.”

Murphy laughed.

---

Murphy took a bus uptown that afternoon. Octavia had called him around three to let him know that they’d made it home and still wanted him to come over and eat, if he didn’t have other plans. Lincoln was making dinner at six, but Murphy was welcome to come over sooner if he wanted to.

He managed to wait until four.

When he knocked on their door, Octavia answered. She was wearing pajamas already, which made Murphy feel a little better about his choice to wear sweatpants. She grinned as soon as she opened the door, leaning against the door frame. “What? You really didn’t have anything better to do?”

“Just thought I’d make sure you weren’t killing Bellamy.” He shoved past her, sniffing. “You’re the worst nurse ever.”

“Oooh, and you’re a great one.” She laughed and closed the door after him, following him into the apartment.

“I’ve got a gentle touch,” he said, snide.

“Liar,” Bellamy called. He was laid up on the couch, a pile of blankets tucked around him. His hair was damp and fluffy in others, like he’d finally been able to actually take a shower. He had a book in his lap, his thumb marking his page.

Murphy ignored the rush of warmth that surged in his chest at the sight of him, scoffing instead. “What would you know?” He dropped on the opposite half of the couch, kicking off his sneakers before putting his feet up on the cushions like he owned the place. If his toes brushed against the side of Bellamy’s thigh, that was nobody’s business but his.

“Where should I start?” Bellamy smirked, flipping his book face down in his lap.

“To think, I came all this way to check on your sorry ass.” Murphy scrunched up his face. “What a waste.”

“My mistake.” Bellamy’s eyes went soft again and he clapped a hand on Murphy’s foot, squeezing it gently. “Thank you for your service. I feel very nurtured.”

Murphy looked away, feeling his cheeks go hot. “Well now you’re just mocking me.”

“Move, loser.” Octavia came over, shoving Murphy’s legs off the couch to make room for herself between them, effectively breaking their contact. “And shut up, we were gonna watch a movie before you showed up.” She sat criss-cross, a bowl of popcorn in her lap. She grabbed the remote, turning up the volume.

Murphy glanced over at Bellamy. Bellamy was already watching him, a rueful smile on his face. Murphy returned it, shrugging a shoulder. “Guess we’re watching a movie.”

“You bet your ass,” Octavia said, oblivious to the silent conversation happening right in front of her.

Bellamy huffed a laugh and reached over to steal a handful of popcorn.

---

Lincoln and Murphy handled dinner clean-up, Octavia begging off to finish the movie they’d started before dinner with Bellamy.

“You let her get away with everything,” Murphy commented, scrubbing at the pot Lincoln had used to make chicken alfredo. Lincoln was putting away the leftovers. “You cooked, dude, where’s the equality?”

“She’s had a tough week.” Lincoln shrugged, sliding a tupperware full of pasta into the fridge. He stepped over to dry the dishes that Murphy had already finished washing.

“I guess.” Murphy snorted, glowering at a particularly stubborn section of burnt cheese. They cleaned in silence for a while, before Lincoln spoke up again.

“I’m surprised at you,” he said.

“Lincoln, I know I don’t look like much, but even I know how to do dishes.” He quirked a brow at him, rinsing soap suds off of a bowl.

“Not that.” Lincoln gave him a small smile. “I mean how much you’ve helped with Bellamy. I know the two of you have been… at odds.”

“Yeah, well.” He looked back down, passing the bowl over to Lincoln. He picked up a handful of forks, scrubbing at the tines. “It was an emergency.”

“You don’t have to be here now,” he pointed out.

“It’s… complicated.” He kept his eyes locked on the silverware, swallowing. “Can we not talk about this?”

Lincoln hummed, putting the stack of completed bowls into the cupboard. “You still care about him.”

“Fuck off.” Murphy threw the forks onto the drying rack, splattering water across the counter.

“It’s not a bad thing.” Lincoln huffed a laugh, cleaning up his mess without a fuss. “I’m happy to see it. Bellamy’s been pouting over you for months.”

“His fault,” Murphy grumbled. He cut off the water, drying his hands.

“Sure. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt you both.”

“We’re not doing the heart-to-heart thing.” Murphy leaned against the counter, looking over at him.

“Seems like we may be.” Lincoln glanced over, a mischievous sparkle in his eyes.

“Fuck off,” Murphy rolled his eyes and gave him a shove with his shoulder. “Finish cleaning by yourself.” He pushed away from the counter, heading into the living room. He didn’t dignify Lincoln’s chuckles with a response.

---

They watched another movie, and at some point in the middle, Bellamy began to doze off. Lincoln, Octavia, and Murphy all silently agreed to let him sleep until the end. When the credits began to roll, Octavia gave him a nudge.

“Bell,” she whispered. “Wake up. Let’s go to bed.”

“You go to bed,” he grumbled, rubbing his face with both hands.

“I’m gonna.” She rolled her eyes. “Come on, let’s get you upstairs. I want to take a shower.”

“I got him.” Murphy stood up, stretching slowly. “You’ve been on duty all day, take a break.”

“Nah, Murph, don’t worry about it-”

“I got him.” Murphy made a shooing gesture until Octavia stood up with a huff and marched upstairs, Lincoln at her heels.

“Call me if you need any help,” Lincoln called from the landing.

Murphy rolled his eyes, looking down at Bellamy. “Jerks.”

Bellamy gave him an amused look and slowly began sitting up, pushing his blankets out of the way. “They’re trying to help.”

“Yeah, well, so am I.” He hovered while Bellamy sat up and shifted off of the couch, wincing when Bellamy winced. “I’m just as helpful as them. Take it easy, here-” He offered out a hand, carefully lifting Bellamy to his feet.

“I’m good,” Bellamy said, but he leaned against him heavily as soon as he was on his feet, a little pale from the effort.

“You still hurt that bad?” Murphy wrapped an arm carefully around his waist to support his weight, tentative to touch him and make it worse.

“I don’t feel great,” Bellamy admitted. “Get me upstairs?”

“Yep.” Murphy walked with him, taking it at Bellamy’s speed. The stairs were tough and they had to stop twice for Bellamy to catch his breath. Murphy silently wished he was Lincoln-sized or at least Lincoln-strong so he could just pick him up and carry him to bed. Instead he had to settle for taking as much of his weight as he could.

They made it to his room eventually. Murphy helped him lay back on his sheets, teeth clenching as Bellamy gave a pained grunt when Murphy’s hand slipped and put too much pressure on one of his incisions.

“Fuck, sorry-”

“It’s okay.” Bellamy had broken out into a cold sweat by the time they made it to the landing and as soon as he was reclined against his pillows he closed his eyes, breathing heavily. “Fuck.”

“What can I do?” Murphy stood beside the bed, hands hovering awkwardly.

“Just- sit down for a second, hold on.”

Murphy sat beside him carefully, making sure not to jostle the bed too much. It took Bellamy a few minutes to relax and breathe easy again. Murphy waited in silence, watching the pain bleed out of his face and his color rise.

Bellamy finally opened his eyes and gave Murphy a tired smile. “Sorry,” he murmured.

“Yeah, how dare you,” Murphy said, bland.

Bellamy snorted and clapped a hand on Murphy’s knee, giving it a squeeze. “Shut up. Can you help me change my bandages before I go to sleep?”

Murphy swallowed thickly. He very much wanted to say no. The last thing he wanted to do was see the evidence of what had happened to Bellamy. He didn’t want a reminder of how breakable Bellamy really was. But he nodded anyway.

“There’s more stuff over there.” He pointed to his dresser and sat up, carefully stripping off his t-shirt. He tossed it towards his laundry hamper, laying back on his pillows carefully. Murphy went to retrieve the new bandages and came back with them, sitting beside Bellamy again.

“How do I do it?”

“Take these off first.” Bellamy nodded towards the patches taped onto his torso and Murphy looked down at them too, sucking in a breath. He nodded again and started with the smallest one, peeling it away carefully. The incision underneath was barely an inch long, held together with three stitches. There was a little goo on the bandage, presumably from the ointment that had been put on it before.

“What’s this one?” he asked quietly. He opened the kit, pulling out some gauze and saline solution that Bellamy pointed to. He wet the gauze, carefully dabbing the incision until it seemed clean enough. He replaced the bandage carefully, trying to ignore the way his hands were shaking.

“That’s where the chest tube was,” Bellamy supplied, watching him work. The next bandage revealed a messier, circular scab. If there were stitches, Murphy couldn’t see them. He didn’t need to ask to know what this one was. He stared at the bullet wound, stomach turning. He hated seeing the mark on Bellamy’s otherwise smooth skin, the way the edges were already beginning to heal and pucker. It never should have happened, and it could fucking happen again at any time. Bellamy could get shot on any call he went on and they might have to do all of this over again- or worse.

“Hey,” Bellamy said. He nudged Murphy’s chin up with a finger, breaking him from his trance. His eyes were soft and worried, which was so wrong when Bellamy was the one who was hurt, not him. “You okay?”

“Sorry.” Murphy turned his head away, clearing his throat. “It’s just-”

“It’s okay.” Bellamy’s hand dropped to his knee, squeezing. “You don’t have to do this, if you don’t want to. I can ask Octavia to-”

“No.” He shook his head and picked up another piece of cleaning gauze. “I got it.”

“Hey.” Bellamy squeezed his knee again and Murphy looked up at him, swallowing hard. “You sure?”

“I’m sure.” He kept his eyes locked on Bellamy’s this time, nodding. “I can do it. I want to.”

Bellamy smiled a little, thumb rubbing a gentle circle on his knee. “You don’t have to.”

“I know.” He gave him a weak smile in return and looked back down, carefully dabbing the wound. He smoothed a little antibiotic ointment onto it when he was done before hiding it under a fresh bandage.

Bellamy caught his hand before he could pull off the next and largest patch. “This one is the worst,” he admitted. “The incision is pretty bad, they had to open me up.”

“Please don’t talk about them opening you up,” Murphy murmured, stomach turning. “It… grosses me out.” That was an understatement and not a real reflection of the dread that thinking about his surgery made Murphy feel, but it would have to do.

“Just warning you.” Bellamy let his hand go. He had to turn on his side so that Murphy could actually get to this one, since the incision extended to his back. Murphy took a breath before slowly peeling away the bandage. It was bad. The cut was almost ten inches long. Murphy held his breath and cleaned it as quickly as he could, eager to get it finished and covered again. It took longer than the rest of them, and by the time Murphy finished and helped Bellamy settle back into his pillows, he was exhausted.

He got up to throw away the trash he had collected throughout the process and washed his hands. When he returned, Bellamy had already tucked himself under his blankets. His eyes, hooded and sleepy, were on Murphy as soon as he walked back into the room, .

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey.” Murphy tucked one hand into his pocket, stopping beside the bed. He rubbed his other hand under his nose, looking down at his feet. “I should probably get going.”

“You can stay for a while. If you want to,” Bellamy offered, a little hesitant.

Murphy looked up at him through his lashes, swaying back on his heels. “Yeah?”

Bellamy gave him a little smile. “Yeah.” He patted the empty half of the bed. “You can…”

“Okay.” Murphy shrugged, trying to be casual even though his heart was racing. He walked around the bed and dropped down on the other side, laying on his stomach a little lower on the bed than Bellamy. “Fuck. This is a nice bed.”

Bellamy huffed a laugh, tilting his head to the side to watch him. “Thanks.”

“Yeah.” Murphy pillowed his head on his arms, looking up at Bellamy through hooded eyes. They didn’t speak, watching each other quietly. The air felt heavy where it settled around them, thick with everything they hadn’t said. Murphy wasn’t sure where to start or if he should. It had been easier in the hospital, where everything felt frantic and immediate. Now, it was harder. They were back in the real world, where anything they said or did would suddenly carry consequences again.

Bellamy spoke first. “Can I touch you?” he asked.

“You could barely walk up the stairs,” Murphy murmured, smirking at him even though the words set his heart racing. “Settle down.”

Bellamy rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I meant.”

“Go ahead, then.”

He reached down, brushing Murphy’s hair away from his forehead with gentle fingers. Murphy closed his eyes, reveling in the touch and the way the callouses on the tips of Bellamy’s fingers dragged against his skin. He kept going, gently combing knots from Murphy’s hair until his fingers could glide through the strands smoothly. When that was done, he kept going, massaging Murphy’s scalp with warm fingers. It helped Murphy relax, body going liquid as he focused on the feeling.

“I know this has all been really bad,” Bellamy said after a while, quiet.

“Really bad,” Murphy murmured. He kept his eyes closed, and Bellamy kept petting him, so he counted it as a win.

“Mm.” Bellamy was quiet for a minute, and Murphy could feel him watching him. He didn’t need to look to know that Bellamy had that face on that meant he was thinking too much, to know that his brow was furrowed and his mouth was drawn down in a serious line. He didn’t want to see it, not when he felt so good, so he didn’t look. “I just want you to know,” Bellamy continued slowly, “That if you want to go back to… what we were doing before. Keeping our distance, not talking… that’s okay. If that’s what you want. You don’t have to hang around because I got hurt if that’s just… hurting you.”

Murphy did open his eyes then, looking up at him. He had been absolutely right, there was a concerned scowl on Bellamy’s face. Bellamy’s hand stilled when Murphy looked at him, hesitant. He tipped his head a little, pushing into Bellamy’s hand with a thoughtful hum, and it was enough to spur Bellamy’s hand back into motion. “Is that what you want?” he asked, his voice coming out raspy from disuse. He’d been close to sleep, truth be told, more comfortable than he had been for… who knows how long.

“No,” Bellamy said immediately. He smiled a little, eyes going soft again. “I just want what you want.”

“Mm, that’s too easy.” Murphy stretched a little, reaching out to rest one hand on Bellamy’s stomach, the other arm remaining under his cheek. “What do you want?”

Bellamy made a thoughtful noise and the hand not preoccupied with Murphy’s hair covered Murphy’s hand on his stomach. Murphy turned his hand a little, hooking their fingers together. “I want to talk to you,” Bellamy murmured. “I want to spend time with you.”

“So you want to start hanging out with me and Octavia again?” Murphy asked, playing dumb. He wanted Bellamy to say it first, to admit that he wanted more than that. Then maybe if Murphy agreed, it wouldn’t feel so much like a sacrifice.

“No.” Bellamy huffed a laugh, giving his hair a gentle tug. “I mean, yes. But no. Just you, like this.”

“So you just want me in bed.” Murphy arched a brow, rubbing his thumb gently against the side of Bellamy’s hand.

“No.” Bellamy rolled his eyes, mouth quirking up. “I want to spend time with you alone. I want to get to know you.” A pause. “I want to know everything about you.”

“That’s asking a lot,” Murphy said after letting Bellamy’s words hang in the air. “You might not like what you find.”

“You might not like me either.” Bellamy rose a brow at him, thumb brushing gently against the shell of his ear. “I’m sort of fucked up.”

“Guess we’re a pair then.” Murphy closed his eyes. “I don’t want to stop talking to you again.”

“Okay.” Bellamy hummed. “Can I ask why not?”

Murphy hesitated, opening one eye to look at him again. “...didn’t do any good last time, did it?” he asked.

“It didn’t?” Bellamy rolled his head to the side, watching him.

“Obviously not.” He squeezed Bellamy’s hand, nails digging into his skin gently. “Didn’t help me.”

“Help what?” Bellamy murmured, tightening his grip on Murphy’s hand in response.

He shrugged his shoulder a little. “Help me hate you.”

Bellamy’s mouth quirked up a little. “You were trying?”

“Honestly?” Murphy tipped his head the opposite way, forcing Bellamy’s hand to follow him. He flashed him a grin. “Yeah.”

“But it didn’t work.” He arched a brow. “You don’t hate me.”

“Nah.” His smile softened a little, chest going warm. He felt like he couldn’t look away from Bellamy now, caught up in his eyes. “Couldn’t manage to.” He knocked his fist lightly against Bellamy’s stomach. “You hate me?”

“Already told you.” Bellamy shrugged, squeezing his hand gently. “I don’t hate you at all.”

“You’re a fucking sap.” He huffed a laugh, pressing his mouth against his own arm to hide a smile, looking up at Bellamy through his lashes.

“Yeah.” Bellamy laughed, giving his hair a gentle tug. “You said you didn’t hate me first. And I’m the sap.”

“Fuck off,” Murphy shifted on the mattress, so that he could roll his head to the side, pressing it against Bellamy’s uninjured side.

“Alright, alright.” Bellamy hummed and Murphy could feel the vibration through his torso. Bellamy started massaging his scalp again and Murphy closed his eyes, relaxing under his touch. “So we’re talking now.”

“Yeah,” Murphy agreed. “We’re talking.”

“Is that all we’re doing?” Bellamy’s knuckles grazed down his jaw gently before returning to his hair.

“For now.” Murphy opened an eye to look up at him. “That okay with you?”

“Yeah.” Bellamy gave him a small smile. “I can work with that.”

Murphy closed his eye again and didn’t reply, settling in to enjoy Bellamy’s touch. That was all for now, but it felt good to Murphy. It felt like a door was opening, and an open door could only lead to somewhere new. Murphy just hoped whatever waited across the threshold was something better than what they were leaving behind.

Chapter Text

Recovery was a trial for Bellamy. At first, he was winded walking from his bed to the bathroom or from the couch to the fridge. It took days before he could get upstairs without feeling like he was going to pass out, but at least he knew he was healing. Just much more slowly than he would prefer.

Three days into his home bed rest, Octavia returned to her classes again. The first day, Lincoln babysat. It was frustrating that he needed someone there, but at least Lincoln generally let him do his own thing and only stepped in to assist him when he asked, or when it was obvious that he couldn’t do something on his own, no matter how hard he tried. And it wasn’t bad spending time with Lincoln. They mostly watched the news or westerns that Octavia had deemed “too boring.”

When Lincoln brought him a sandwich, made the exact way he prefered, Bellamy had to speak up.

“Lincoln,” he said, after washing down a bite of his sandwich with a sip of water.

“Bellamy,” Lincoln said, looking over from his side of the couch.

“I think we’re friends,” Bellamy announced.

Lincoln huffed a laugh. “I’ve considered us friends for a while.”

“Yeah, but.” Bellamy shrugged, gesturing between them. “I haven’t.”

“Ouch.” Lincoln laughed again.

“Look, it’s my job to not like you. I had some valid… concerns about you at the beginning. And you’re fucking my sister, I’m categorically not allowed to like you.” Bellamy took another bite of his sandwich, rolling his eyes when Lincoln gave him an amused look. “But I think I kind of do. Like, if we met at a bar, I think we would be buddies.”

“Thank you, Bellamy.”

“I’ll still kick your ass if you hurt her.” Bellamy pointed at him. “Just because I think you’re cool doesn’t mean I’m not watching you.”

“I appreciate that.” Lincoln shook his head and took a sip of his water. “I’m glad you consider me a friend.”

“Yeah.” Bellamy nodded and set his empty plate on the coffee table. “Should we hug it out?”

Lincoln laughed again, this time big and booming.

---

The next day, Lincoln had to return to work and with minimal prompting, Murphy agreed to take over Bellamy watch. He showed up at nine in the morning when Octavia was leaving for her first class, wearing pajamas and a surly look.

“Thanks for doing this, Murph-”

Murphy held up a hand. “I’m not awake yet,” he said, voice rough. “And I’m going back to sleep as soon as you get out of my way.”

Bellamy smirked, listening in from where he was already settled in on the couch with a book and a cup of coffee.

“You’re being a dick,” Octavia huffed, giving him a shove. “You’re here to take care of Bellamy, not nap.”

“I can do both.” Murphy shouldered past her even though there was plenty of room for him to just step around. He collapsed on the half of the couch Bellamy was not occupying, his head by Bellamy’s hip. Bellamy looked down at him, quirking a brow. Murphy winked at him before throwing an arm across his eyes dramatically. “Go learn something, O.”

“You suck,” Octavia said simply.

She grabbed her backpack and marched out, slamming the door behind her for effect. When the sound faded, Bellamy reached down to ruffle Murphy’s hair gently. “Good morning.”

Murphy dropped his arm back to his stomach, looking up at him. “How you feeling?”

“I’m alright.” Bellamy brushed Murphy’s hair back away from his forehead, smiling when it made his eyes droop closed. Murphy looked better than the last time he had visited, most of the exhaustion gone from his face. The only proof that he’d spent days not sleeping- days worrying about Bellamy, were the soft lavender bruises still under his eyes. “How are you?”

“Tired,” Murphy said. He opened his eyes to look up at Bellamy, lips quirking in a crooked grin. “Some of us still have to work. Closed the bar at like two, didn’t make it home until four… didn’t sleep until like six.”

“Why not?” Bellamy brushed his knuckles down his jaw, feeling the faint stubble there. He went back to petting his hair.

Murphy stared up at him for a long moment, calculating. “Not easy to sleep sometimes,” he said finally. He closed his eyes, tipping his head into Bellamy’s touch.

“Can’t settle down?” He set his book aside with his other hand. Murphy tilted his head to follow the movement and when the book was out of his hand, Bellamy offered his hand out to Murphy. Murphy reached up, hooking their fingers together crookedly.

“Sometimes.” He settled back in, looking up at him. “Can’t turn my brain off, you know?”

“I get that.” He leaned his head against the back of the couch, settling in. “Get insomnia sometimes. If I get too… in my head.”

“Yeah.” Murphy stared up at him, thumb rubbing against Bellamy’s in sweet, tentative circles. This was something Bellamy had noticed about Murphy. His casual touches were hesitant, like he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to be doing or what was okay - nothing like his sexual confidence. It made him wonder if Murphy had ever had a real relationship, a real lover. Now wasn’t the time to ask him that, but. It was on Bellamy's list.

“I have nightmares too,” Murphy admitted, breaking Bellamy from his thoughts.

“Yeah?” Bellamy smiled a little, sad.

“Mmhm.” He watched Bellamy for a moment, before taking a breath and closing his eyes again, tipping his head into Bellamy’s touch to encourage him to keep petting. “About my mom, mostly. Think she maybe fucked me up.”

“Might have.” Bellamy kept watching him, drinking in every detail of his face.

“Sometimes about my dad, too.”

Bellamy’s hand stilled. He’d never heard Murphy say a word about his father, not when he was a child, and not since they had found each other again. He started stroking Murphy’s hair again when the shock cleared. “Your dad?” he prompted.

“Yeah.” Murphy swallowed, and Bellamy watched the way his Adam’s apple bobbed. “About how he died.”

Bellamy didn’t say anything, just waited to see how much Murphy was willing to share. He gave his hand a gentle squeeze, a silent show of support.

“I got really sick when I was a kid,” he said after a while, voice catching in the middle of his sentence. He swallowed again, and when he continued his voice was stronger. He didn’t open his eyes. “Like, really high fever, couldn’t stop coughing, might be dying sick. It got really bad one night while my mom was working, and dad decided he had to get me to the hospital. I guess they waited because we didn’t have insurance.”

He stopped to breath, his thumb drawing paths on Bellamy’s hand again.

“So, he buckled me into my seat, and I remember I didn’t want to let him go. You know how when you’re sick, your parent is just like… it’s like they’re the only thing that will make you feel better?” Murphy opened his eyes slowly, looking up at him again.

Bellamy nodded, brushing his knuckles gently over Murphy’s forehead, like maybe he would be able to feel the phantom fever there and soothe it. “Yeah,” he murmured.

“So he buckled me in, but he didn’t buckle his seatbelt so he could reach back and hold my foot.” He smiled crookedly at Bellamy. “And he didn’t see a stop light change because he was looking back at me, right? Flew through it and another car hit us and…” He shrugged a little. “When the car stopped spinning, he was gone, and I was just alone in the car, like… crying. So I have nightmares about that sometimes.”

Bellamy nodded a little, watching him. Murphy’s eyes flickered away and he shifted slightly, legs twisting. “Anyway-”

“Thanks for telling me.” Bellamy nudged his knuckles against his jaw lightly, making him look back up.

“Yeah, well.” Murphy looked up at him again, before shifting around again, twisting onto his side with his head pillowed on Bellamy’s thigh. “You said you wanted to know everything. Gotta pick a trauma to start with.”

Bellamy huffed a laugh and settled back in with him, fingers curling back into Murphy’s hair. “I’ll take it. Haven’t scared me off yet.”

“Give me time,” he grumbled, adjusting his hold on Bellamy’s hand. “And I really am going to sleep. Wasn’t kidding.”

“Go ahead.” Bellamy hummed. “I’m not going anywhere.”

---

Murphy came over every day after that, usually when Octavia was in class, but sometimes when she was home too. Murphy stopped letting her sit between himself and Bellamy, and on one occasion Murphy literally dragged her down the couch by her foot to take the seat beside Bellamy instead.

“What the fuck, Murphy!” Octavia snapped, twisting around to get untangled from her blankets.

Murphy had already settled into her spot, one thigh pressed discreetly against Bellamy’s. He grabbed a handful of popcorn from the bowl in Bellamy’s lap and looked over at her with an arched brow, shoving the entire handful of popcorn into his mouth. “What?” he said, garbled.

“Did you miss the part where you just assaulted me?”

“Not assault,” Bellamy offered, throwing a piece of popcorn into his mouth. “Like, not technically.”

Murphy looked over at him and smirked, nudging his knee against his thigh before looking over at Octavia. “Yeah, O, not technically. Stop throwing around your accusations before I get your ass for libel.”

Bellamy smirked. “Libel is written. Technically what she’s doing is slander-”

“Shut up,” Octavia and Murphy said together.

Murphy stayed until late that afternoon, bowing out when he had to go to work. He managed to catch Bellamy alone for a moment while Octavia ran to her room to change. He was hovering behind the couch and when she disappeared upstairs, he reached down to tip Bellamy’s head up.

“I’ll come back tomorrow.” He leaned down, giving Bellamy a brief kiss. They hadn’t done anything beyond light kisses since Bellamy had gotten out of the hospital. Bellamy brushed his knuckles down his jaw, leaning up to give him another quick kiss.

“You don’t have to come back tomorrow. You’re clocking in a lot of travel time.”

“Don’t want me here?” Murphy smirked and gave him another peck.

“Oh, I want you.” Bellamy smiled, tugging his earlobe gently.

“Big promises,” Murphy teased. He glanced up when he heard Octavia’s door close, stepping away again. Octavia came around the corner and he lifted a hand to wave at her. “I gotta go, O. See you later.”

“You coming back tomorrow?” She descended the stairs in sweatpants, one of her text books in hand.

“Probably.” He shrugged and met her at the foot of the stairs for a brief hug.

“Gross.” She shoved his shoulder.

“Ha.” He rolled his eyes and shoved her back gently before heading to the door. “See ya.”

“Bye, Murph,” Bellamy called from the couch. Murphy paused at the door and gave Bellamy a small wave goodbye out of Octavia's line of sight. It made Bellamy's stomach flip, in a happy way, and then Murphy was gone.

Silence settled over the apartment after that. Octavia snuggled up on her half of the couch, working on reading a new chapter for class. Bellamy was trying to watch the news, but kept finding himself looking over at her.

He had never really explained his situation with Murphy to her. After the fight at Indra's party, things had been too charged. When things had settled, Bellamy hadn't wanted to bring it up and risk setting off another domino effect. But after the hospital, things were different. Bellamy had tried a hundred times to open his mouth and tell her everything, but it always felt like the wrong time. Now couldn't be the right time, either. She was studying and he would just distract her.

Then he thought about Murphy. About how he’d been carefully hiding their slowly blossoming relationship from Octavia since the accident, and about how unfair it was that he had to do that. Murphy deserved to be honest with his affection, Octavia deserved to be in the know, and fuck it. Bellamy wanted to be able to touch Murphy whenever Murphy would let him. Even in front of Octavia. He wasn’t going to hide him again, he wasn’t going to make Murphy feel like a dirty secret or be dishonest with Octavia. It didn’t feel good, it hurt them, and if he was going to do this with Murphy, he had to do it right.

He swallowed and shifted in his seat, steeling himself. “Hey, O,” he said.

Octavia looked up, the cap of her pink highlighter clenched between her teeth. “Yeah?” she asked, muffled.

“Is it okay if you take a break from studying for a few minutes?” He rubbed the nape of his neck, nervous. “To talk?”

“Thank God.” She spit the cap out and put it back on her highlighter. She used the marker as a bookmark and set the textbook aside. “I've been reading the same sentence for like five minutes. What's up?”

“I want to talk to you,” he said slowly, “About Murphy.”

Her mouth hardened and she looked at him suspiciously. “What about him?”

“I've never explained what happened between me and him.” He dropped his hands into his lap and looked at her in a way he hoped was imploring and not terrified. “Before the party and… you know.” He shrugged a little.

She crossed her arms and arched a brow. “Alright. Go on.”

Bellamy let out a breath. “The week you introduced me to Lincoln, I went to City Lights by myself. I knew it was where Trikru hung out, and at the time I was really paranoid about Lincoln's intentions and his crime involvement. I went to spy on him and see if anything seemed fishy.”

Octavia's jaw dropped. “Bellamy-”

“He wasn't there,” Bellamy interrupted quickly. “And I only did it once. I knew it was stupid and invasive as soon as I got there, but at that point I was committed. I was worried about you and I crossed a line. I'm really sorry I did that.”

“That's really not cool.” She frowned at him.

“I know,” he agreed. He looked down at his lap, twisting his hands together. “Forgive me?”

“Only because you were so unsuccessful and it was like… a year ago.” Bellamy looked up just in time to catch her wrinkling her nose distastefully. “You're like the world's most cliche, overbearing brother.”

“I know,” he said again, smiling a little.

“I'll let it slide. This time.” Octavia poked his injury free side with a toe. “What does that have to do with Murphy, anyway?”

Here we go. “I didn't run into Lincoln that night but… I did run into Murphy.” Bellamy sighed, fidgeting with the edge of his blanket. “He started hitting on me at the bar and I didn't recognize him. We hooked up and I spent the night at his place, and when we woke up he told me who he was and kind of went off on me about us abandoning him when we were kids.”

Octavia's jaw had dropped again, her eyes wide. “No you didn't.”

“I did.” he winced. “It was before you met him again.”

“No way- but that means-” She sat up, grabbing at the throw pillow in her lap. “So when I was telling you about him-”

“I already knew he was around.” Bellamy grimaced. “I look really bad in this story, so can I finish it before I take comments and questions?”

Octavia made a lip-zipping motion, attention fully focused on him.

Bellamy swallowed, nerves building in his stomach. This was harder than he had expected, and it felt like everything he said was coming out too fast and wrong. “When you told me you'd run into him, I panicked. I didn't want you to know that we had hooked up, because for one, it was when I was still really upset you were with Lincoln and like.” He huffed a laugh. “How hypocritical would it be for me to judge you guys for an age difference when I was doing the same thing?”

“Holy shit-”

And,” Bellamy continued quickly, “I didn't want that to become a problem between the two of you. You were so excited to find him again and I didn't want my fuck-up to muddy the waters.” He took a breath. “I got really wound up about it and... one night I went down to the bar to try and like, demand he keep it a secret."

Olivia quirked a brow, a sardonic curve to her mouth.

Bellamy cut his eyes at her and huffed a humorless laugh. "Yeah, I know, it went about as well as you'd expect. We got into a fight, but we ended up striking this deal," Bellamy paused, "where he wouldn't tell you that we'd hooked up if I agreed to have sex with him whenever he wanted.”

Octavia made a choked noise. “So that's why you were in the closet-”

“No! No.” He held up his hands, moving too quickly. The motion pulled at his incisions in a way that made him wince. “Ow- no. The deal didn't last long, it was… too weird. We had a big miscommunication the first time we hooked up after that. We fought and ended up calling it off.”

“Oh thank God. Because that sounds fucked up in a lot of ways.” Octavia frowned at him, brows furrowing in concern. “Like borderline rapey.”

“We both wanted to have sex with each other,” Bellamy said honestly. “It just made our motives... a little confusing.”

“So, wait, now I'm lost.” She held up a hand. “If you guys stopped hooking up, what happened at the party?”

Bellamy frowned and looked down at his lap. This was the part that was hard to explain, because he still didn't really understand the dance that he and Murphy had done in the months following. “It’s complicated,” he said finally. “We stopped having sex but… we were still really attracted to each other, I think. We argued a lot, but I'm just… drawn to him.” He shrugged and looked back up. “We kissed a few times, had a few… intimate moments. That's what was happening at the party too. We were both drunk enough that we just… forgot our rules.”

“What rules?”

“Figure of speech.” He huffed a laugh. “After we called the deal off I told him that even though I liked kissing him, trying to do anything like that was a bad idea so we just… kept trying to avoid it.”

“That's dumb,” Octavia said bluntly. “Like, honestly, Bellamy, that is the stupidest thing you have ever said.”

“O-”

“I mean it!” She rocked forward in her seat, her eyes burning into him like lasers. “You liked him! And he liked you! And you, what, didn't like that he was young?”

“That's not it.” Bellamy looked away from her, shame burning in his gut. “It just felt too… complicated, with our history. And I didn't want to compromise your friendship.”

“That's-”

“Dumb. I know.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “I know. But I was so… preoccupied, worrying about not hurting you, that I didn't even realize-” He cut himself off, swallowing thickly.

Octavia let the silence hang for a moment before she prodded. “Realize what?”

Bellamy looked up at her, smiling faintly. “I didn't even realize how much I liked him.” A pause. “Like him.”

Octavia's eyes went soft. “Bell-”

“I just really fucked it all up.” He shook his head and looked down. “If I had been honest with myself from the beginning, maybe shit wouldn't have gotten so messy, you know?”

“Yeah.” She reached over, tentatively laying a hand on his arm. “So you were… really hurting after that fight, huh?”

Bellamy huffed a laugh, shocked to notice tears welling in his eyes. “Well, yeah. The kid I'm crazy over wouldn't speak to me, you could barely look at me, Lexa was disappointed in me. It was awful. And I was… really pissed at myself too. For how I treated him, for lying to you…”

“Bell.” She squeezed his arm. “I'm sorry-”

“No, don't be.” He rubbed a hand across his eyes. “I made my bed. I just…” He sighed and looked up at her again. “Even after everything settled down with you and everyone else, I still just… I missed him so bad.”

Octavia nodded a little, looking at him with open concern. “Yeah?” she prompted, soft.

“Yeah.” He smiled weakly. “I think I got it pretty bad for him.”

Octavia smiled a little, rubbing his arm. “Still?”

“Yeah.” Bellamy put a hand on her knee, giving it a squeeze. “But I think he might have some feelings for me too.”

“No kidding,” she said, sarcastic. “He's been around practically every day since you got shot.”

“Yeah.” Bellamy smiled to himself and looked back down. “We’re working on it. We're… talking.”

“Wait- really?” She patted his arm. “Are you guys thinking about dating?”

Bellamy looked back up, shrugging. “I think that's where we're headed, yeah. We've been keeping it kind of hush-hush while we work on stuff but… I wanted you to know. I don't like hiding things from you, O. And if I have my way, he’s gonna be kind of a big deal in my life.”

A grin slowly spread on her face and she punched his shoulder gently. “Sap.”

“Fuck off.” He could feel himself blushing. He rubbed his hands over his face to hide it. “It’s just- it is really new. So try not to… you know. Mess with him about it. I don’t want him to get scared off.”

“Cross my heart.” Octavia smiled. “But you are going to tell him I know, right?”

Bellamy hesitated, realizing immediately that he’d made a mistake. “I didn’t really ask him, beforehand. If I could tell you. Do you think he’ll be pissed?”

Octavia hummed and shifted to snuggle against his side carefully. “Honestly? Maybe. I don’t know how he’s feeling about what you guys are doing now, so he could take it wrong. But you want to know something?”

“What?” He laced their fingers together, tipping his head to the side to rest on top of hers.

“I think you should tell him. You’ve got to be honest if you want this to work, you know?” She squeezed his hand. “Like- with Lincoln.” She paused, picking at the cuff of Bellamy’s sweatshirt. “I spent a long time like… I never lied, but I didn’t want to talk about the hard stuff. I just wanted everything to be good with him, so I would hide little things because I thought it would make it easier. But little things add up, and eventually it was like I was hiding away a whole part of myself and it made things really… tense for a while.”

“O, I had no idea.” He frowned, turning his head to nuzzle into her hair gently. She still smelled like a baby to him, like home.

“Duh.” She huffed a laugh. “You don’t see everything we do. I like to keep it private. But it kind of bubbled up and he got really upset with me. He was disappointed I wasn’t being honest and he blamed himself. Said that I was trying too hard to be perfect because he had accidentally made me think that’s what he wanted. He said he just wanted me to be me and like…. It was really hard. To just be me all the time, when I thought I was sharing parts of me he wouldn’t like.” He felt her smile against his shoulder. “But he does. And if it’s like… problematic or whatever, like I’m being young and selfish he just kind of…. Helps me grow. I’m more confident now and I’m getting better at handling anxiety, and that’s because of him. And he’s says I’m helping him actually be in touch with his feelings.” She laughed.

Bellamy’s chest felt full. And he felt guilty that he had ever doubted Lincoln, who had obviously been amazing in ways Bellamy hadn’t even been aware of.

“He’s a good man,” Bellamy said quietly.

“He’s a really, really good man,” she agreed. She lifted Bellamy’s hand, kissing the back gently. “And so are you. So just… be good to him. Be you.”

Bellamy brushed a knuckle across his eye to push back another swell of emotion. “I love you, O,” he said quietly.

“Love you, big brother,” she whispered back.

---

Murphy came back the next night. He didn’t have to work, and the plan had been that the three of them were going to watch movies and fuck around, as usual.

As soon as Murphy arrived, however, Octavia excused herself to go to Lincoln’s.

“He’s got a cold,” she explained. “And he never gets sick, so to be completely honest, he’s being a big baby. He thinks he’s dying.”

Murphy rose a brow, cracking open a soda as he walked from the kitchen to the living room. “So you’re gonna go coddle him?”

“I’m actually kind of excited,” Octavia admitted, pulling on her shoes. “He usually gets to dote on me, but since he’s being so pathetic right now, I get to be the hero.”

“Tell him I said to feel better.” Bellamy gave her a loose salute, following Murphy from the kitchen slowly. Walking was manageable now and he felt mostly normal, but he still got winded if he tried to rush.

“Tell him I said to man the fuck up.” Murphy collapsed on the couch, kicking up his feet. “What a baby.”

Octavia rolled her eyes and stood up, grabbing her backpack. “I’m sure he’ll appreciate that.”

“He gets me.” Murphy shrugged, commandeering the remote to start searching through the channels. Bellamy lowered himself carefully onto the couch beside him.

“Yeah, yeah.” Octavia leaned down to kiss Bellamy’s cheek and then Murphy’s. Murphy wiped his cheek off with a grumble, conveniently hiding a pleased smirk. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Bell. Later, Murph.”

“Bye,” they said together, and she made her exit.

As soon as the door closed, Murphy positioned Bellamy’s arm around his shoulders and snuggled into his side. “What are we watching?” he asked, eyes locked on the television. He was slowly getting comfortable with affection that didn’t lead to sex, often instigating it before Bellamy had the opportunity to.

Bellamy liked it. Cuddling was in his top three relationship activities.

“Whatever you want.” Bellamy pressed a brief kiss to the crown of his head. “You’ll veto my choices anyway.”

“Planet Earth is boring,” Murphy said decisively.

“Sure. If you don’t care about the planet or animals or nature.”

“Which I don’t.”

“You liked the one about cats. Don’t lie.”

Murphy cut him a look, disgruntled. “I did not.”

“I said don’t lie.” Bellamy smirked, squeezing him. Murphy gave him a gentle shove and focused back on the television. They ended up settling on a marathon of House Hunters International, which gave Murphy the opportunity to provide continuous snarky commentary. They didn’t take a break until seven, and that was only to argue over what kind of pizza to order, before they settled back in to watch The Breakfast Club with full stomachs and heavy eyes.

Bellamy woke up to the credits rolling, with Murphy asleep against his shoulder. He blinked heavily, staring at the scrolling names mindlessly until his brain finished rebooting. He reached blindly across the couch for the remote and turned off the television before giving Murphy a gentle squeeze and shake. “Hey,” he murmured, voice catching with disuse. He cleared his throat and gave him another squeeze. “Murph.”

Murphy groaned, pressing his face against Bellamy’s shoulder before looking up. “What?” he grumbled.

Bellamy smiled sleepily, rubbing Murphy’s side. “It’s late. You’re gonna miss your train.”

“Kicking me out?” Murphy turned his head away to yawn, legs stretching forward.

“No.” Bellamy paused, letting him go so he could squirm and stretch and wake up. “If you wanna sleep here, you should. You should stay.”

Murphy paused, looking over at him. “...I should?”

Bellamy nodded, holding his breath while he waited for his reaction.

“What about O?” Murphy ran a hand through his hair, yawning again.

“She won’t be back until tomorrow sometime.” Bellamy shrugged and looked down. “And she wouldn’t mind anyway.” He glanced up through his lashes. “...I spilled the beans.”

“What are you talking about?” Murphy scratched his cheek, squinting at Bellamy.

“I mean, like…” Bellamy sighed and slumped back, looking at him. “I told her everything. Everything, everything. Like how we met, all the fights that she wasn’t aware of… all of it. And I told her that we’re…” He gestured between them vaguely. “This. Right now.”

Murphy stared at him. Bellamy couldn’t read his reaction, his face cast into shadows in the dark apartment. The only light was coming from the kitchen, and most of it was shining across Bellamy’s face, which was making it a little tough to hide his nerves.

Murphy stood without a word, turning away from him. Bellamy stood up too quickly to follow him, wincing at the jolt of pain in his ribs. His incisions were almost healed now, but everything was still sore. “Murphy, wait, hold on-”

“I thought we were going to bed?” Murphy looked over his shoulder at him.

Bellamy stopped, holding his ribs with one hand, his eyes wide. “...you’re not mad?”

“You told her everything.” Murphy turned back to him, standing just out of reach. “And you told her we’re doing this now.” He gestured between them, also not willing to put a label on whatever it was they were building. He paused for a second, head dipping down like he was looking at his feet. “You’re not hiding me.”

Bellamy’s chest clenched and he stepped closer, taking Murphy’s hand. “I don’t want to hide you,” he said, quiet. “I wanted her to know because I shouldn’t have lied to her in the first place, but I also- I don’t want to pretend we’re not…” He let himself trail off. Murphy looked up, and this close, Bellamy could see his face. His expression was soft, a very rare look on him, and it made the last of the tension leave Bellamy’s body. “I want everyone to know that I want you,” he said.

“Good.” Murphy lifted his free hand to cradle the back of Bellamy’s neck, pulling him into a kiss. It was slow and deep, the first real kiss they’d had in months. Bellamy put his other hand on the small of Murphy’s back, pulling him closer. Murphy pulled out of the kiss slowly, pressing his forehead against Bellamy’s for a moment. “I’m calling dibs. On you,” he said. His words were a little unsteady, like he wasn’t sure that was okay.

“I’m all yours,” Bellamy confirmed. He gave him another kiss, just barely tugging Murphy’s lower lip between his teeth as he pulled away. “We don’t have to be… boyfriends or official or whatever. But I’m all yours.”

“Good.” Murphy tilted his head down, pressing a lingering kiss to the side of his neck. “Same,” he said, finally.

“Good.” Bellamy let go of his hand to wrap his arms around him instead, holding him close. “That’s all I want.”