The first time she meets Octavia Blake she nearly gets her brains blown out.
It’s a pretty shitty night (morning? She thinks blearily) to say the least. She wakes up at 3am with a migraine, the remnants of a confusing nightmare pounding in her brain. She gives herself an extra five minutes in bed trying to sort it out- there was blood, she remembers, and a gun. A suicide, she thinks, suddenly sick to her stomach. And one word. Whispers.
Then her phone goes off, a reminder that she has a shift at the hospital today and Clarke forgets about all the nightmare in lieu of a busy day ahead of her.
And it is busy- there was an accident on the highway, over 20 people injured- so Clarke doesn’t think about the nightmare again, at least not while she’s handling the steady stream of patients and paperwork and hysterics.
It goes quiet at 6 in the morning. Clarke’s brewing a pot of coffee in the empty break room, contemplating if she should take another aspirin to get rid of the migraine when a woman tears into the room, sweating and dripping blood all over the floor, gun in hand.
“Indra!” The woman shouts, cocking her gun, her mouth twisted into a snarl. A small scream rips from her throat and Clarke drops to the ground immediately, her instincts going into overdrive. Run, she thinks, no sound the alarm. Or stay down. Her hands are shaking. There was a part of the hospital manual dedicated to this, she remembers, something about dealing with hostile threats. She tries fervently to recall something, anything about what to do.
“Where the fuck am I?”
Clarke keeps her eyes on the woman’s shoes- scuffed combat boots, one of the laces untied, size 5- “M’am, look, I don’t know what you want or who you’re looking for, but I’m going to need you to calm-”
“Don’t fucking tell me to calm down.” She growls, taking a step closer. Clarke chances a quick peek, and yes, the gun is trained on her, right at the back of her skull. She ducks her head back down.
“Look, I can help you. You seem troubled-”
“Answer the question, blondie.” The cold barrel of the gun is pressed against her temple now. Clarke exhales, shaky to her own ears, as she hears the click of the safety being taken off.
“You’re in Arcadia General-”
“Boston?” The gun jerks against her head and Clarke whimpers- one wrong move, one misplaced fingers and she’s dead- “How in the world…?”
“Look, maybe I can help you if you stop holding me at gunpoint.”
“Are you going to sound the alarm if I let you up?” Her voice is hoarse, Clarke notes, unsure if it’s from the screaming or if it’s just how it sounds.
“No,” She manages.
“Get up slowly and put your hands in the air.” She demands.
Clarke shifts, pulling herself up by her elbows slowly, “What are you, a hitman or something?”
“Something.” The woman says mockingly.
The first thing Clarke sees is the scar, extending from the side of her forehead down to her chin, a sickle moon, she thinks. Dark hair pulled away from her face, sharp cheekbones, green eyes. But there’s no hiding it- even under the blood and the bruises, Clarke can tell- she’s young. Barely 21, she guesses.
“Let me help you, please. Put the gun down, we can talk this out. And I can help with that.” She jerks her head at her arm, steadily pulsing blood, sloppily bandaged. “I’m a doctor, I can make sure it doesn’t get infected.”
“Liar,” She bites, “The minute I let you go, you’ll sound the alarm. Look, I don’t know how I got here. Just two minutes ago I was in New York.”
“So how are you here?”
“I don’t know! I want to go back.” She says, frustrated, “I was in the middle of something.”
“Clearly,” Clarke says dryly, “Something legal, I hope?”
Her mouth lifts at the corners, “Something like that.”
They stay like this for what feels like hours. Clarke forces her breathing to even out, tries to remember all the small details of this person so she can describe her to a sketch artist. Three piercings on her left ear, five knives strapped to her right thigh, what looks like a tattoo-
“I can hear gunshots,” The woman says quietly. “This is it. I think I’m going back.”
Clarke’s mouth feels dry, the knowledge that whatever that is taking place right now is unexplainable, unchartable, floods her with a wave of dizziness. This isn’t real, she tells herself, this is all a dream.
“Who are you?” She croaks.
The woman smirks, “Octavia Blake.” She says, before she disappears into the shadows.
No blood, Clarke thinks belatedly, staring at the spot where Octavia Blake was before. No blood left behind, not a whisper of this stranger. Just the shattered remains of her coffee cup, and the dark stains pooling over her scrubs.
She takes a deep breath, drops her hands to her sides, and starts brewing a fresh pot.
Clarke would have chalked it up to a migraine induced hallucination if it wasn’t for the fact that Octavia Blake is in the papers the very next day.
She googles her. Octavia Blake, 23, wanted for multiple counts of arson and murder, last seen in New York City.
“Last seen in Boston,” She breathes and she has never been a believer, never been that girl, the one who sees conspiracies and patterns in the ordinary, the one who pulls apart and unravels mysteries with the twist of her wrist. No, Clarke Griffin has always been a firm believer in science, in logic and facts and all things explainable.
She never used to believe in the cosmos, in fates or fortunes. Not even insignificant things like horoscopes because in all 25 years of her life, she never had a reason to. Everything Clarke had, she worked for, she strived for.
Her life up to this point had been a straight line, unwavering and uncomplicated. This was different. This felt like the supernatural.
She calls Wells.
“I’m going crazy.” She whispers, curling up into a ball. The sheets feel scratchy on her skin, the smell of coffee by her bedside turning her stomach. Nothing felt right, the world had been turned upside down on its head. She squeezed her eyes shut and there it was- the car, the blood, the screaming, the rain-
“You’re not going crazy, Clarke.”
The world righted itself. She forced her eyes open, taking in her threadbare apartment, the peeling poster that Wells bought for her.
“I’ve been seeing things. Seeing someone, in my head. I think. I’m not sure.”
There’s a pregnant pause.
“Have you been seeing your dad?”
“It’s not him. It’s someone else. A stranger.” She turns to the laptop on her desk, still open to the article on Octavia Blake. “A felon.”
She snorts, “You’re telling me this?”
“Okay,” He relents, “When did this start?”
“Yesterday. She held me at gunpoint and then just, disappeared. It was crazy, Wells.” She tugged on her hair, still wet from the shower, “It couldn’t have been real. She couldn’t have been real. But here she is, on the news.”
“You saw Octavia Blake?”
“That’s the one.”
Another long pause. Clarke toys with the cord of her land line, absentmindedly wonders where Wells is right now. Maybe he’s in the library, between the shelves of the art section, studying. That used to be their spot. Or maybe he was home, lying belly down on his bed with his laptop propped up.
Clarke doesn’t miss home, not anymore. But she misses Wells.
“Did anything strange happen before leading up to this visits from Ms. Blake?”
“No,” She mutters, taking a sip from her coffee, “Nothing out of the ordinary.” Then she remembers, the gun, the blood, whispers, “Wait.” She says, interrupting Wells, “I had a nightmare.”
“Like killer clowns?”
“No, it felt real. I can’t remember it exactly now but a woman killed herself. And this one word, whispers.”
“There you go,” Wells says, “That’s where you begin with. We’ll find out who this whispers are, or what they are.”
She feels a swell of love for her friend, her best friend, she thinks fiercely, never one to doubt her or dissuade her from anything she set her mind to. She’s going to be forever indebted to him, she thinks as he hangs up, reminded of the day they both cut themselves on jagged pieces of rock, clasping their palms, together forever.
“Blood vows are a serious business, Clarke,” He had told her the day of the funeral, “I intend to keep mine.”
“So do I,” She murmurs, plugging her charger in, before refreshing her search bar.
She’s on page 18 of a extremely detailed thesis paper about supernatural beings when she hears thunder.
“Shit,” She swears as she stumbles over her laptop cord, toe throbbing, to shut her windows. A particularly loud clap of thunder startles her and she glares up at the sky, god, she hates the rain-
There’s not a cloud in the sky. She stretches her hand out, and there, she feels it, raindrops. Rain splattering against her face, soaking through her thin t-shirt, and she’s not in Boston anymore, she realises, shivering. This isn’t home.
She finds Octavia leaning against the wall, hand pressed to her side, breathing heavily.
She grunts, pulling her hand away to reveal dark, sticky blood, “Slashed me,” She says weakly. “One of Indra’s girls. I don’t know how she found me again.”
“Nothing you say makes sense to me,” Clarke mutters, peering at the wound. It’s deep, but the knife seemed to have missed the vital parts. She’ll need to slow the bleeding and stitch her up, Clarke assesses, but nothing she can’t fix.
“I’m Clarke, by the way, Clarke Griffin. I’m going to have to stitch you up. Do you have anything here I can use, like-”
“I have a first aid kit hidden under the dumpster,” She says through gritted teeth. “Top left hand corner.”
It’s meagre- some thread, two bandages, a unsterilised needle and a bottle of rubbing alcohol with only ¼ of alcohol left in it. Clarke cleans her hands and gets right into it.
To be fair, Octavia is a pretty ideal patient, still and unmoving, hands clenched into tight fists with the effort of staying still. Clarke pushes her wet hair out of her face and tries to ignore her flinch of pain every time she pulls the needle through.
“So did you do it?”
“Do what?” Octavia snarls, her head thumping back against the brick wall.
“Kill someone and burn down those houses.”
“I didn’t kill anyone,” She says heatedly, “I was set up. I’m on the run for a crime I didn’t even fucking commit.”
Clarke hums under her breath, steadying her needle. The rain is coming down harder now and it’s hard to concentrate when she’s freezing cold.
“I got mixed up with a bad crowd when I was growing up,” Octavia says, so soft she almost misses it over the rain, “My mother died when I was kid. My dad was never around. My brother,” She gives a small gasp of pain, “He had five jobs, did everything he could to raise me. He tried to be there but he couldn’t always.” She stops abruptly, as if she had said too much.
“I’m listening.” Clarke says, wiping the blood off her palms before diving back in.
“Anya was my friend, my mentor. She taught me how to fight, but more importantly, how to win.” She grabs onto Clarke’s arm, forcing her to look up. “She was my friend,” She says insistently, “I didn’t kill her. I would never hurt her.”
“So who’s this Indra then?”
“Anya’s second in command. She’s not going to stop until she kills me. Blood must have blood.”
“You think she’s the one who framed you?”
Octavia shakes her head vehemently, “No. I know Indra. She’s too honourable for that. I plan on finding out though. But for now, I run.”
They aren’t the best stitches but they’ll do. A little jagged, she thinks, but at least it’s holding up. Clarke rocks back on the balls of her feet and stands up before offering her hand.
“I believe you.” She manages, “God knows why, but I do. Any idea why we’re like this though?”
“Hell if I know,” Octavia grumbles, shoving the first aid kit into her backpack, “It started with that nightmare for me.”
Clarke rockets forward, seizes her arm, “Whispers?”
“Yeah. That. Look if you’re trying to figure out why all this is happening, maybe you could use my brother’s help. He’s a professor, he’s good at this sort of thing.”
The rain is letting up, she realises, the torrent of water has been reduced to pinpricks on her skin. She’s going back, she’s losing the connection-
The last thing she feels is Octavia squeezing her arm, “You’ll meet him soon enough.”
Clarke’s no closer to figuring out what she is- what she and Octavia are- when she meets Monty Green.
It’s a lot less jarring this time, a lot less frightening or dramatic. One minute she’s in the hospital, deliberating between reese pieces and a kitkat, and the next minute she’s in a crowded coffee shop.
“Are you real or are you in my head?” He asks.
“I don’t know,” She replies honestly.
His brow furrows, “You speak Korean?”
“I most definitely do not.”
“So you are in my head,” He says, smiling, “Hi. I’m Monty. Monty Green. Welcome to Seoul.”
Clarke can’t help it, she laughs, admits, “I have never been to Asia before.”
He scoops up his cup of coffee, extends a hand and says, “Let me show you around.”
So that’s how Clarke remembers Seoul- all bright sun and beautiful girls and tangy gelato flavours and korean pop music blaring onto the streets- and Monty, 21 year old technological genius, college student by day, secret hacker by night.
She’s on her third scoop of ice cream, pistachio flavoured, when Monty asks, “Have you met the others yet?”
“How many of us are there?”
He shrugs, “So far, including you, I’ve met two. How about you?”
“I only know you and Octavia.”
“Sorry, don’t know her yet.” He says quietly, setting his cup down onto his denim clad knee, “So why do you think we’re like this?”
“The nightmare.” Clarke says, “It all started after the nightmare.”
Monty nods, “I have a lead, you know. He told me about it, this organisation that’s looking into people like us. BPO. I’m looking into it.”
“Who told you about it?”
“Another one of us,” He grins, “He’s awesome. History professor at prestigious college, really good at digging up stuff.” He frowns suddenly, “Used to be my speciality but this was a little beyond my usual scope.”
“And this BPO thing?”
“I don’t have much on them yet. Just that they are an organisation that specialises in a kind of surgery.” He fidgets a little, scratches his nose. Clarke gets the feeling that he knows more than he’s letting on.
“And…?” She presses.
He sighs. “Lobotomy, Clarke. They specialise in lobotomy.”
She hears the sound of wheels clattering against linoleum, a phone ringing. “Monty, I’m losing you.” She says, reaching out blindly, anxious to feel his touch, to feel some kind of semblance that this is real-
He grabs her hand, says softly, “I’m right here, Clarke.”
Then she’s back, slumped over by the side of the vending machine, pistachio ice cream melting on her fingertips.
Monty is a much more frequent visitor compared to Octavia, a more calming one as well, and Clarke begins to relish his appearances more as the days goes by.
He drops by her apartment after she’s had a tiring day at work, her feet propped up on the small sofa, buried in chinese takeout.
He wrinkles his nose at the smell, “This smells like shitty chinese food.”
“It’s good,” She tells him, and hands him another pair of chopsticks.
Monty gives the pork dumplings a 2.5/10 (“Not enough dipping sauce and is that even real pork?”), the fried rice a solid 8/10 (“Better than some of the bokkeumbap I’ve tasted.”) and the sweet and sour pork a 4/10. (“Eh.”)
They watch Grey’s Anatomy, with Clarke commenting on the medical inaccuracies and awful characterization of certain characters. It’s no use, Monty loves it. He’s completely enamoured, in fact. (“But Clarke, Derek doesn’t really die, does he?? CLARKE?”) Clarke looks up a korean dubbed version of it online and emails the link to him.
“Korea has better food,” Monty concludes, “But American TV shows are where it’s at.”
“I can’t believe you like Grey’s Anatomy,” Clarke grumbles, “I only watch it so I can complain to my friend Wells about how bad it is.”
“All 12 seasons of it?” He says innocently and Clarke slugs him with her elbow.
“Where are you in Korea?” She asks.
“In my dorm room. I was working on a paper and I had a real craving,” He says wryly, “Then suddenly,” He makes a weird motion with his fingers, “I’m here.”
“You think we can learn how to control it?”
“Maybe.” Monty says, “I’m going to try and bring you to my dorm now.” He closes his eyes, his face screwed up in concentration. Clarke watches him, braces herself for a shift, for herself to blink and appear halfway across the world, but it doesn’t happen.
He opens his eyes, blinking slowly. “Huh. I guess it doesn’t work that way.”
“It could be random,” Clarke says, spearing a dumpling with the end of her chopstick, “Maybe it’s not something that’s meant to be controlled.”
“Maybe,” Monty agrees. “I’m still working on looking into some of the BPO stuff though. I think I’m getting close.”
“What’s your theory, hacker prodigy?”
“That’s a horrible nickname.” He remarks but goes on all the same, “They’re a big corporation, Clarke. They have a lot of money and power to back up their research and their surgeries,” He pauses, “I wouldn’t want to get on their bad side. But it feels like we already are.”
She feels it again, that unsettling feeling, like free falling. She’s been getting that more often now, jerking awake feeling as if she had forgotten something, as if just minutes ago, she had been in a completely different place. Sometimes she tells herself it’s Octavia, her subconscious acutely tuned in to the girl’s emotions.
Sometimes, she wonders if it’s someone else. How many of them are out there, connected by this phenomenon, this supernatural, undefinable link? She thinks back to the stories she read while conducting her research, nights spent poring over fairy tales and old wives stories, searching for her eureka moment.
The only story that had struck her had been the one about the red string of fate. It was a chinese tale, also used in Japanese legends. The tale was simple: the gods tied an invisible red cord around the ankles of those destined to meet one another in certain situations or to help each other in certain ways.
Maybe this was them now, Clarke thought. All of them interconnected by red string, stretched and tangled and weaving all over the place, meant to be in each other lives, one way or the other.
She snaps back to reality, taps Monty’s elbow lightly with her pointer finger, “What makes you think we’re on their bad side already?”
He gives a nervous laugh. “Because based on what I’ve seen, those surgeries they perform aren’t on willing patients, Clarke.”
“So it means that they’re hunting them down. It means, once they figure out what we are, they’ll come looking for us.” There’s sweat beading his upper lip, his smile easy but his jaw set. His knees are exposed, thanks to the pair of cargo shorts he’s wearing, and he still picks his scabs. They can’t hurt him, she thinks, feeling a rush of fierceness for this boy, the phantom boy in her head- gentle and caring and sweet- and no, she won’t let them.
“Let them try,” She says, skating her hand up his wrist to grab it. He relaxes, dips his head down on her shoulder. Clarke normally hates it when anyone does this (Her dad used to do this and she really doesn’t need the reminder) but this is Monty, so she lets him.
Clarke wakes up, fitfully, to the sound of her alarm going off at 8am. She shuffles off to the bedroom, cricking her sore neck, and shoves it into her drawer. Monty’s gone, she realises belatedly, but she can smell coffee brewing in a pot.
It’s not her usual roast. It’s thicker than normal, sweeter, and he’s left a note.
American coffee is no match for Korean style coffee
He’s drawn a small coffee mug by the side and a misshapen smiley. The words are widely spaced, block like, as if written by a child. He doesn’t speak english, she remembers, and the thoughtfulness of this makes her smile. She sticks the note up onto her fridge and places a magnet over it.
It’s her day off today so she decides to spend it painting and texting Wells random observations like did you know I have a korean penpal and what happened to those fruit plus sweets?? have they been discontinued??
He texts her back, your korean friend seems nicer than your felon one and also, you’re going to die from diabetes before sending have you figured out what you are now exactly???
Clarke sends him a row of question marks, pours herself another cup of Monty’s korean coffee, and goes back to painting.
She starts dozing off sometime around 4 in the afternoon, dried paint crusted in her hair and late afternoon sunlight streaming through her windows. She feels drugged, hazy, and she remembers thinking about buying a new set of oil paints when she feels the pull.
Panic. Pure, unadulterated panic and adrenaline and fear, fear, fear. Clarke flounders in it, feels like she’s pushing against a tide, an insurmountable force, before she gives in. She jerks awake to a purple sky, a rising sun. Morning, she notes, she’s not in Boston anymore.
“I need your help,” Monty says, walking alongside her. His head is ducked, hidden under a cap, laptop under his arm. “Clarke, oh god, help me.”
“What’s wrong?” She asks automatically, grabbing onto his forearm.
He jerks away from her, “No, no, we have to keep moving.” He begs, “Can’t you see? Someone’s following me. BPO Security, I gathered. They tracked me down, they know I’m looking them up. They’re here for me.”
She chances a look, counts five people, four men and one woman, big and burly and menacing.
“Stay calm,” She says, “And pick up the pace.”
To his credit, he does what she says, cleverly ducking into corners and alleyways suddenly in an attempt to throw them off, but they’re still there, she feels them, hears them. She thinks she hears the sound of someone removing the safety off a gun. She shivers, grabs Monty tighter, and steers him into a busy street.
“Take off your cap and toss it into the bushes,” She instructs, “Blend in with the rest.”
He ducks into the crowd, forcing his way through crowds of office workers. She loses sight of their pursuers, indistinguishable with the stream of bodies and noise. Monty breathes a sigh of relief, pulls her towards a relatively emptier subway station.
“I think we’re in the clear,” He mutters.
“Hopefully,” Clarke says, sagging against the wall. “Jesus, Monty. What have we got ourselves into?”
“A big mess.” He says grimly, “I have to contact him, tell him what I know now. Clarke, it’s bad. It’s really, really bad.”
She stares, “Are you telling me you know what we are?”
“I’m telling you I know what’s hunting us.”
Then she hears a gun go off, the bullet ricocheting off the wall next to her, and she screams.
Monty drops to the ground, hands raised over his head, as the armed assailant yells something at him in thick, accented korean. They’re surrounded, and technically, she knows she won’t die, this is Monty, they only see Monty, but in this moment they are one, they are the same and no, this isn’t how it ends-
Then she hears an exasperated sigh, “Quit with the dramatics, Griffin. No one’s dying here.”
Then all hell breaks loose.
Octavia as Monty sweeps her leg out, knocking her opponent to the ground, and it’s bizarre because Clarke sees it both ways- the truth of it, Octavia Blake, taking out their pursuers with deadly grace, all sharp movements and speed, and there’s how it looks in reality- gentle Monty Green, Monty, who refused to kill the cockroach in her kitchen out of principle, beating the shit out of all of them.
Octavia stops once the woman goes down. Her fists are bloody, her smile feral. She assess Monty with a single, sweeping look, says almost like an afterthought, “You’re welcome.”
“Monty,” Clarke says, pulling him to his feet, “Meet Octavia.”
“Jesus,” He breathes, “How did you do that?”
Then Clarke snaps back into consciousness, her real self, back under the evening sky of Boston. She wants to go back, to check on Monty, check on Octavia, but she doesn’t know how. She closes her eyes, thinks of them desperately, sends out a message to the void in her head. Nothing happens. As abruptly as she was pulled in, she was pushed out.
They should really exchange numbers, she thinks angrily, punching her pillow, before exhaustion drags her back under.
Mrs. Carrow is 80, her next door neighbour, and particularly fond of picking on Clarke’s terrible, terrible life choices (“Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” is often followed by “What do you mean you don’t cook??”) so when she joins in on Clarke’s off-key shower rendition of AC/DC’s Shook Me All Night Long, she is naturally, surprised.
Then she picks up on the fact that the voice is low and hoarse and distinctly male and she thinks wait, what?
She turns and there he is, very, very naked, all tanned skin and broad shoulders and, “OH MY GOD!” She screams, throwing her hand over her eyes and she hears him shout an aggravated, “What the fuck?”, and just when she thinks it’s not possible to feel even more humiliated, she slips.
Her feet scrabble for purchase on the slick shower tiles, hands flying out to grab the shower hose and oh god, Clarke is lying on top of a total stranger, stark fucking naked.
“Please get off me,” The guy says, voice strangled, and Clarke pushes off him, her face hot, and grabs the first towel she sees off the rack.
The guy’s still lying on the floor, his eyes screwed shut, and Clarke does not look, except maybe to check that he is in fact, not dead, before she meekly offers him her hand.
“This is possibly the worst meeting of all time,” He mutters, taking her hand and blushing furiously as she diverts her stare up to the ceiling. “I’m going to uh, get dressed. I’ll get you some clothes.”
The door slams shut behind him and Clarke buries her face in her hands. Oh. My God. And she thought meeting Octavia was bad? This is worse. Wells is going to have a field day when she tells him, she thinks grimly.
There’s a light tapping at the door and his muffled voice, “I left some clothes out here for you. Once you’re done, I’ll er, be in the kitchen. Just down the hall. If you want to talk or anything. Or not. Entirely up to you.”
She squeaks out a thanks and waits for him to pad away before she grabs the clothes. Soft, blue sweater, comically oversized, a pair of boxers and sweatpants that are way too long for her. She rolls them up around the ankles and tries to tame her wet, wildly curling hair. Yeah, that’s not working out for her.
The first thing she notices after leaving the bathroom, steamy and humid from the hot water, is how cold it actually is outside. It’s snowing, she realises, glancing out of the window. Where the hell is she?
He is, as mentioned, waiting in the kitchen, drinking from a mug with a Latin (she thinks? Her Latin is pretty rusty.) joke printed on it. His hair is still wet and curling at the ends and it’s a pretty nice view. A nice view indeed, a voice in her head thinks smugly, and she’s blushing all over again.
“Hi,” He says, all awkward, “So I take it your encounters with the others have not been equally as humiliating?”
“Definitely not,” She says a little too quickly and he laughs.
“Bellamy. Welcome to Canada…?”
“Clarke,” She says, “Canada? Holy shit it’s really cold here.”
“I take it you live somewhere a lot warmer?”
“Not exactly,” She tells him, “Boston, actually. But it’s warmer over there right now.”
His eyes widen comically, “You’re the doctor. The one who saved my sister?”
“Your sister?” And she makes the connection, and there it is, the resemblance, all in the sharp angles of the face and the mannerisms. Bellamy is dark where Octavia is fair but Clarke sees her in the quirk of Bellamy’s mouth, the tilt of his chin. Siblings.
“College professor,” She says, arching her brow and he nods, before adding, “College professor who is this close to figuring out this freak show.”
“Monty, who incidentally is your biggest fan, nearly got shot digging up all that information for you.” She knows she sounds accusatory but god, she thinks he deserves to know.
He winces, recomposing himself quickly before saying, “I didn’t tell him to do it for me. Monty wants to know, as much as me, as much as you, I would think, about what we are. He’s safe now, attending an exchange programme in France. That should throw them off.”
“So what are we?”
Bellamy shrugs, “There’s no official term for it, not that I know of, at least. The five of us, we’re interconnected through this psychic link-”
“Five?” Clarke yells, because honestly, it’s as good a time as any, “Five?”
He smirks, amused, “I take it you’ve met less than that?”
“Your sister,” She says, ticking off her fingers, “Monty. You.”
“So you haven’t met Raven? That’s great.” He says, all pleased. “I’m still the best looking in your head.”
“Your sister is more my type.” She says dryly and stifles a laugh when he chokes on his drink.
“Please don’t date my sister,” He says weakly, “She’s kind of a wanted fugitive.”
“Yeah, that kind of put a damper on my plans.”
Bellamy chuckles, then launches back into his tirade, “So the psychic link allows us to swap bodies and share skills and basically,” He gestures towards her, “Conduct conversations like these with the problem being that it’s inconsistent and sometimes a pain.”
“Understood. And this is the part when you bring in the problem.”
“BPO,” He says simply, and she doesn’t miss his fingers tightening around the handle of the mug. “They’re looking for us, the Whispers. They’re ruthless, Clarke, and they have unconventional ways of hunting-”
“How?” She interrupts.
“Eye contact. We can’t make eye contact with them or they’ll be able to find us wherever we are. We have to keep the cluster safe.”
“You went with the word cluster?”
He rolls his eyes, “Not exactly the point I’m trying to make.”
“So many other options, Bellamy. Herd, group, brood, flock-”
“I think I get the gist,” He snaps, “You can stop now and go back to wherever you came from.”
“Trust me, I want to. I don’t know how.”
He sighs, “I have papers to grade.”
“Then go ahead and grade them,” Clarke says dismissively, “I’ll just hang around.”
“Fine,” He says, settling into his chair, “Don’t move my shit!” He yells and she resists the urge to roll her eyes. What an asshole. (Monty never used to mind, she thinks mournfully. Monty even let her tidy his dorm room for fun.)
His living room is a mess. Books all over the place, sofa cushions resting on the floor, dirty scuff marks on his table. There’s a cold cup of coffee (no coaster, what a heathen) on the table by the TV and a framed photo of Octavia at her high school graduation.
She sinks into his lumpy couch, picks up a well-worn copy of the Iliad and starts reading. It’s hard work mainly because Clarke’s never been into plays and the book is falling apart at the seams, the spine cracked in various places and pages falling out every time she flips a page. She irritably shoves them back, considers looking for tape so she can stick it into place when he shows up.
“Be careful with that,” He says sharply, “It’s first edition.”
She raises her brow, “This is crap. It isn’t even a book anymore, it’s a bunch of loose papers with a hardback cover.”
He snatches the book from her, says, “Well clearly someone has poor taste in literature.”
“Excuse me?” She hisses and they spend the next 20 minutes arguing over books, something Clarke hasn’t done ever since college, for crying out loud. He firmly believes that everyone should read the classics. Clarke thinks classics are ostentatious. His favourite Hogwarts house is Slytherin and hers is Gryffindor. This launches them into a long and rambling argument about Sirius Black’s true nature and what about Snape, really?
“Captain America,” Clarke bellows, stamping her foot, “Was the first avenger, and by default, is the best avenger, so you can take your opinion and shove it up your-”
“Iron man,” He shouts, flailing his arms in the air, “Was a self-made superhero who invented all the shit by himself without supernatural influence, can you say that about your precious Captain America?”
She contemplates throwing a copy of Bulfinch’s Mythology at him but she catches sight of the clock hanging on his wall and realises that three hours have gone by. This has been one of the longest she’s been in someone else’s head, someone else’s consciousness. What if she’s stuck?
He seems to come to the same realisation, so when he turns back to her, he sounds a lot gentler, “Don’t panic, Clarke. Give it some more time.”
She shakes her head, “I’ve never been with someone for that long before. When I was with Monty, the longest he was in my head was about an hour I think? Maybe longer. I’m not sure because I fell asleep. But when I woke up, he was gone.”
“Are you hungry?” He says smoothly, “I can make something.”
This does actually cheer her up a little, because she is in fact, starving, “Yeah, I am actually.”
And it turns out that when Bellamy isn’t yelling at her and generally being an ass, he’s actually a good cook and well, good company. He makes lasagna and lets her pick the wine and movie. They end up watching Casablanca and Bellamy keeps a running commentary about the movie, throwing in random trivia and grumbling comments that make her snort with laughter.
“If we had met in real life,” She tells him, “I think we could have been friends.”
He snorts, “Nah. You would have thrown your opinions in my face and scared me off. I would have walked away if this was real.”
“You could have,” She says, sobering, and tries to ignore the anxiety rising in her chest.
“Hey,” He says, tapping her knee, “Think about this way. Maybe this thing happened to all of us because Jesus wants me to stop being such an asshole.” She bursts into laughter and he grins at her, “Seriously! I think this is a real life lesson for me!”
“You really are an asshole,” She says mock seriously, “I’m starting to think you’re onto something here.”
He smiles wider, all boyish and rumpled, and Clarke thinks, yeah, she wouldn’t mind seeing him again if he smiled like this more.
Then she blinks and it’s over. She’s back in her shower stall, hot water pounding against her back, a minute not having passed in the real world. She sighs, reaches for her razor, and resumes the task of shaving her legs before she was so rudely interrupted.
It’s not the last she sees of him.
He appears in her bed the night after, dressed only in boxer briefs, and when she screams, he just goes, “We have to stop meeting like this, Griffin.”
He explains that he has some semblance of control over it now- able to pop in and out of her consciousness, sometimes at will, sometimes when he’s feeling a particularly strong emotion- but when Clarke asks if he can do this with the others, he looks uncomfortable.
“No,” He admits softly, running his fingers along the spines of her books, “It’s easier, I guess. For me to get into your head.” (It thrills her, a little. Not that she’ll ever admit it.)
She’s not sure if it’s a two-way thing but she finds herself pulled into his universe almost constantly now, a routine forming. She gets up in the morning, makes a cup of coffee, and ends up walking into Bellamy’s sitting room. He’ll usually be grading papers or reading the news, downing endless cups of hot chocolate like the baby he is. (“I hate coffee,” He grumbles, staring at her coffee cup with distaste.)
She comes up behind him, rests her chin on the top of his head, “You have a wrinkle right here.” She prods the corner of his left eye, “You’re getting old.”
“28 is not old,” He says indignantly, “I’m a poster boy for youthfulness. I could pass off as a 18 year old.”
“In your dreams,” She says and he huffs at her impatiently. She’ll walk back to the kitchen to dispose of her coffee and bam, back to her own world. It used to be disconcerting, to look into the mirror and see Bellamy shaving his face. Now she just taps the mirror and makes funny faces.
Bellamy always has a knack for knowing when she needs a hug, a comforting squeeze on her shoulder, a ruffle of her hair. It’s almost like having a live-in best friend, one who comes instinctively even before he’s called.
They’ve been popping into each other’s heads for months- close to a year- now, sometimes with surprise appearances from Monty or Octavia, but never the elusive Raven. (Clarke worries that there’s something wrong with her side of the connection. Bellamy always rolls his eyes and tells her she’s not missing much.)
But yeah, point being, Bellamy has somehow gone from total stranger to well, one of the most important people in her life. She tells him as much the day of the surgery.
It’s a high risk one and Clarke is beyond stressed out about it. She’s assisting her mother, to make things worst, and she knows the patient. Father of two, single dad, she used to babysit his kids. They can’t fuck up, nothing can go wrong-
“Clarke, hey,” He appears, cradling her face in his hands, “You got this. Calm down.”
She rests her forehead against his, whimpering, and he brushes away the tears with the edge of his thumb. “You got this,” He repeats, breath hot against her face, “You’re going to be fine and he’s going to be okay.” He rubs soothing circles on her back and she relaxes under his touch, “Take a deep breath, Clarke.”
She chokes, slides down so she can bury her face into his chest, “I wish you were really here.”
“I am,” He says, twisting his fingers into her hair, “This situation is all fucked up but if you really, really needed me in person, I would fly over in a heartbeat.”
Bellamy doesn’t just say things, this she knows. He always means them, sincerely and utterly heartfelt, and she thinks that this might be one of his best qualities. She could possibly be in love with him, she thinks, and god, its unreal because it’s not like she has actually met him.
Clarke sniffs, pulls away so she can look at him, says, “You’re my best friend.”
To his credit, he doesn’t skip a beat, just smirks and says, “Damn. I replaced Wells? He’s going to flip.”
“Equal placing on the friendship scale,” She says and he kisses her forehead.
“Stay strong, Griffin.” He whispers and then he’s gone, leaving her standing in a empty hallway, holding onto thin air.
The surgery does go well, thankfully, and Clarke celebrates it by going for drinks with the rest of the hospital staff. Most of them are single so they spend their time downing shots and chatting up significantly attractive people in hopes of getting laid.
Clarke attempts this half-heartedly, flirting with a guy called Sterling and getting the number of a hot brunette by the jukebox, but she feels strangely disconnected from it all, her senses dull and stupid. She puts it down to the drinks at first but after she nearly spills her shot down her front when she sees a guy with unruly dark hair enter the bar, she knows it’s nothing to do with the alcohol.
She texts Wells is it pathetic to be pining after another guy who can sometimes exist in the same headspace as me and he doesn’t reply, at least not quickly enough for her, so Clarke drowns her sorrows with another round of shots instead.
Around 2am, she receives a yes from Wells accompanied by a go home, Griffin so she does that, splitting a cab with Harper and Monroe and stumbling up to her apartment landing. She takes the time to pause, vomit up the contents of her stomach in Mrs. Carrow’s potted plant, and enters her apartment.
The transition is seamless- she smells snow, feels the chill in the air- before she’s in Bellamy’s apartment, stumbling over his sneakers and falling on his couch.
"Honey I’m home!” She calls out goofily before bursting into giggles.
“Clarke? Whoa, slow down there drunky,” He says when she lurches at him, falling into his arms. He smells like soap and aftershave and hot chocolate and Clarke loves it. She buries her nose into his neck, gives an exaggerated sniff.
“Are you smelling me?” He says through badly concealed laughter.
She scoffs, “No. Absolutely not.”
Bellamy sighs, grabbing onto her armpits as she sways on the spot against him, “We really have to stop meeting like this.”
“I like seeing you,” She says, all seriousness, tracing her finger down his nose, “You like it when I’m around, right?”
He hauls her back onto the couch, shifts a few pillows so she’s lying against them, before saying softly, “I like it when you’re around.”
She can’t help it, she grins, wide and stupid and sure, “More than when Monty is around?”
He rolls his eyes, and she traces his ear instead, “More than Monty.”
Her fingers graze against his lips and she can feel his stubble, “More than Octavia?”
He exhales on her fingers and she suppresses a shiver, “Equal placing on the friendship scale.”
She presses her pinkie to the dimple in his chin, mutters, almost petulantly, “So I’m not your favourite?”
He laughs, tucks a stray lock of hair behind her ears, “You’re always my favourite, Clarke.”
Then she’s back in her own apartment, slumped over by the door. She contemplates stumbling to her bedroom, drinking a gallon of water and maybe down a aspirin but it all feels like too much work.
She thinks, I wish you were really here, and hopes foolishly that somehow Bellamy can hear her. Then she curls into a ball and falls asleep on the floor.
She wakes up, hours later, to Octavia kicking her elbow none too gently. “Get up, Clarke. This is an intervention.”
Octavia sighs, exasperated, and hauls her to her feet. She’s super strong, Clarke concludes sluggishly, as she ambles over to the kitchen to puke her guts out in the sink.
She washes out her mouth, drinks two glasses and takes an aspirin before she focuses on Octavia. “Alright, I’m listening.”
Octavia looks thinner than before, more battle worn, and her hair is shorn short. She feels a momentary pang of concern before she remembers that Octavia hates people feeling sorry for her or even expressing sympathy about her situation. (She wonders if Bellamy is the exception. Probably.)
“You need to be there for my brother tonight.” She says abruptly.
“Tonight is a difficult night for him. He won’t look for you but you should keep an eye on him.”
“Mind explaining to me why?”
“It’s-” She stops, pinching the bridge of her nose, “No, find out from him yourself. I just know he can’t be alone and I can’t be with him. Indra’s on my ass and I have to make a concentrated effort to stay in my own subconscious today.”
“Keep an eye on him.” She insists and the connection cuts out.
“Jesus.” Clarke mutters under her breath.
She feels too crappy for work so she calls in sick and sleeps it off. By the time she gets up, sunset painting the skies orange, she feels better and significantly well rested.
She makes herself a cup of coffee and reheats pizza from two nights before, all while probing at the connection, trying to tap into Bellamy’s subconscious. It’s strange for him not to drop by at least once a day, so she knows Octavia’s warning had significant weight to it.
Clarke grabs the pizza from the microwave, slams the fridge shut with her foot and shuffles into the living room. It takes her a second to realise that the scene has shifted, the lights dim, the house cold, Bellamy sitting at the foot of the sofa, staring blankly into space.
He’s been drinking. She can smell it on him. Hair askew, clothes rumpled beyond belief. He didn’t switch on the lights or the heater, she thinks stupidly, he always switches on the lights.
“Bellamy?” She calls out, reaching for his hand. He’s cold to touch.
He ducks his head, says through gritted teeth, “Get out of my head, Clarke.”
“Couldn’t even if I wanted to,” She says, “Never got the hang of it like you did, remember?”
“You can’t be here,” He insists, but his voice cracks on the last word, and then he’s crying, messy, heartbreaking kind of sobbing, so Clarke does what she knows he would have done if the roles were reversed: envelopes him in a tight hug and runs her fingers through his hair, soothing him like how she comforts the hysterical patients she get in the pediatrics ward.
“You want to talk about it?” She asks him after he’s calmed down but he just shakes his head.
They end up watching a movie on his laptop instead, knees pressed together on his sofa, and she wills the connection not to break, to stay as long as she can. And eventually, eventually, he tells her about Aurora Blake and losing her and she tells him about Jake Griffin and the car crash.
“I hate being an orphan,” He tells her, his head pressed against the soft skin of her stomach.
She cracks a smile at that, says, “Maybe that’s why the universe gave us this freak show. Wanted to give you four other adoptive parents, you know, send you a message and what not.”
He laughs at that, mumbles that Octavia doesn’t count, she’s his responsibility after all, and when he falls asleep, snoring softly into her lap, she aches to stay. She has never wanted something so badly, never wanted to cling onto something, a moment, so much.
Her strategy is to stay awake all night, maybe if she doesn’t close her eyes or blink or move, the moment won’t slip away, and she’ll be able to stay, stay with him-
But as soon as she thinks that, the moment crumbles, leaving her alone in her apartment, sitting in the dark.
She doesn’t know spanish, but Clarke’s pretty convinced that the first time she meets Raven, she’s cussing someone out. Also, because she’s waving a humongous wrench in the air screeching, “Fuck you, Kyle Wick!” and throwing it against the wall, so yeah.
Clarke is afraid. And also a little in love because Raven Reyes is unfairly attractive.
She clears her throat and Raven startles, dropping the wrench. For a minute, she doesn’t say anything, just, takes her in. Then she smiles, slow and sweet, and says, “Well, well, well. It’s the famous doctor I’ve been hearing so much about.” Then she gives her a hug, which while surprising, is nice.
“You’ve heard about me?”
Raven rolls her eyes, “Bellamy talks about you a lot, Clarke Griffin. I kept wondering why I haven’t met you yet. Was starting to think he made you up.”
“I’m real,” She manages.
“So you are.” She says, smiling widely.
Her meetings with Raven are always short, fleeting, and she wonders if it has to do with her short attention span, her constant desire to keep moving. She’s around a lot more now though, peeking over Clarke’s shoulder to gag during surgeries or making cooing noises at newborn infants.
She’s fond of teasing her about this thing with Bellamy (Clarke refuses to think about it, to even consider that something can even happen between them) and out of the four of them, she sees Octavia the most.
“She has a lead,” She tells Clarke, both of them resting on the hood of a car she’s fixing up, “She thinks she might have been framed by this guy, Cage Wallace? She just needs to prove it. And stay alive in the meantime.”
“So she’s doing okay?”
Raven nods, “Yeah. It’s Octavia. She can survive anything. I’m proud to say that I have helped our resident criminal out of some tight spots.”
“Ah, Reyes. Ever so humble.”
She laughs, throws a greasy dish rag at her, “Shut up!” Then the connection dissolves and Clarke goes back to her breakfast.
Raven, as it turns out, is also the most adept at maintaining normalcy despite the link.
“I can block you guys out sometimes,” She explains, when Clarke asks how she’s not constantly sidetracked by everyone else’s problems, “I can’t really explain it but it’s about keeping your mind busy, or going unconscious. Back when I used to feel the pull, I used to take a sleeping pill and go right to sleep.”
Clarke gapes, “And it worked?”
Raven smirks, “You’ve only just met me, haven’t you?”
She shouldn’t be surprised. This is Raven after all, and Raven always, always figured things out, whether it was the secret formula behind a Krabby Patty (“Plankton is dumb,” She says, shaking her head disgustedly) or Lily Allen’s questionable fashion choices. (“Possession,” Raven groans, banging her fist on the table, “There’s no other reason, Clarke!”)
“You have a crush on her, don’t you?” Bellamy says, all accusatory, as he sulks over his pasta dinner.
She laughs, because well, it’s not untrue exactly. If Raven didn’t have a thing going on with her co-worker Wick and Clarke wasn’t stupidly in love with Bellamy, well.
“I do, but you’re still my favourite,” She says, tugging on his too long hair.
He grumbles, “Fucking Reyes,” under his breath and throws an arm around her almost possessively. She snuggles up against his side, pretends to be watching the movie when she’s really just enjoying his warmth.
Raven corners her at her favourite cafe the next day, makes her split a banana muffin even though Clarke hates bananas, and pretty much forces a confession out of her.
“I swear to god,” Raven says through a mouthful of muffin, “If none of you are going to do anything about it-”
“It’s not the right time, Rae.”
“It’s never the right time with you people.” She rolls her eyes, “Just go up to him and strip to your underwear and he’ll get the message.”
“What?” She says, grinning, “Worked for me and Wick.”
“I really, really, don’t want to know.”
But she’ll be lying if she said she didn’t know how he felt about her. She sees it now, clear as day, the loyalty and the devotion and the total and utter faith he has in her. She wants him, she thinks, but she’s afraid to want to something rooted in so much uncertainty.
Clarke makes a list for Raven, reasons why she shouldn’t get together with Bellamy, reads it to her over mac and cheese.
“I didn’t listen to a word you said,” She says flatly after Clarke runs through points 1 to 5. “Look, Clarke, it doesn’t matter. Do you want to be with him or not?”
She has asked herself this exact question- rephrased and rethought and reconsidered- and it always comes down to this, “It’s not real, Rae.”
“Then make it.” She says brusquely and that’s that.
It’s strange how adapted she feels to the entire situation now though. Clarke wakes up, makes her coffee, and there’s Monty, pouring himself a cup and smiling at her over toast. She takes a shower, starts pulling on her scrubs, and Raven’s there, leaning against her wardrobe complaining about the unflattering hue of her uniform.
She combs out her hair and Bellamy starts working out the horrible snarls at the ends, tutting at her the entire time before braiding it efficiently. He’s doing this thing where he kisses her cheek a lot more now, dangerously close to her mouth, and Clarke tries to play it cool, she really does, but god does it do things to her.
Octavia walks her home after late night shifts, knife in hand, always up for stupid arm wrestling sessions or interrogating Clarke about the latest pop culture trends because she’s too busy running to keep up.
They’re family, albeit a strange one with many complications, and things are easy for a while, simple, until they find her. She shouldn’t be surprised really. Abby Griffin is a prominent doctor and senator and she’s not exactly low profile either. Figures they would come after her after their efforts with Monty were foiled.
Raven comes to her first.
“Someone’s following me,” She mutters, trashing down the stairs, “Someone has been following me for days. I think, I think-”
“Don’t look at them,” Raven says, swearing softly under her breath, “Blake says that’s how they hunt. Keep up the pace.”
She had been two steps away from her apartment when she had realised- the door was unlocked, swinging slightly from its hinges- something was wrong. Then she turned and ran for it, and now here they were, in hot pursuit by a group of people that could be Whispers. She remembers what Monty told her, lobotomy, and considers being separated by her cluster- her fucking family- and tears well up her eyes.
“Clarke!” Monty’s on her other side now, his hand on her elbow, “Tell me what you need.”
“An escape plan,” She tells him, breaking into a full fledged run, “Monty,I need to lose them or I may lead them to you guys.”
“Okay,” He says, “I’ll work on getting you flight tickets, a passport and a fake ID. I’ll make all the arrangements. Just get to the airport.”
Then he flickers out of sight and it’s just her and Raven again.
“Here,” Raven yells, pulling her into a crowded street, and for a minute she panics, Raven’s gone, but then she feels her grab her hand, squeezes it tightly, “Right here babe. Keep going.”
“Raven, I need a car.”
She smiles grimly, “Not a problem. We just need to find a right one.”
“There’s a parking lot two blocks from here, if we can make it-”
Raven pumps her hand twice, “Less talking, more running.”
Clarke’s never been much of a runner- she does cardio, like, once every six months when she feels guilty about her inactivity- but she thinks Raven is spurring her on, pouring her energy into her. She thinks she hears Bellamy, a anguished Clarke? but she forces herself to stay in the moment.
Something grabs out at her ankle and she yelps, stumbling to the ground roughly. “Close your eyes!” Raven shouts, and she does, but not before she catches sight of expensive shoes, and an aftershave that smells like mint and sandalwood-
The person grabs on to her, hauling her up, and she struggles valiantly, trying to tear free. Whoever it is strong, clamping her arms to her sides, and she needs helps, she needs Octavia-
Her body moves on its own accord, her elbow thrusting up with tremendous force. She hears the sound of bone snapping and she wrenches out of his grip, her hand instinctively curling into a fist and slamming against her captor’s jaw. The man crumples to the ground, eyes fluttering shut and she nearly cries in relief.
She launches herself in Octavia’s arms, trembling, “Did you look?” She demands breathlessly, “Did you look at him?”
“No,” She says, “I didn’t make eye contact. Clarke, do you know how many more are after you?”
She shakes her head vehemently, “No, I didn’t dare look. Maybe five? Or six.”
“Keep moving,” Octavia says, “Don’t let anyone else of them catch up!”
She sprints the next few blocks, nearly twisting her ankle after she trips over an upturned rock, but the adrenaline keeps her going. She barrels into the parking lot, breathing heavily, and she feels it in the instant Raven takes over.
"Really?” Clarke says, looking at the junk heap Raven picked, “This?”
Raven snorts, jimmying the window lock with a bobby pin, “Cars from the mid 90s are the easiest to hotwire, but please, do go on pretending that you know better than me.”
Raven as Clarke shimmies through the window, starts pulling apart and twisting wires together. There’s a moment when nothing seems to happen- and then the car starts up, roaring to life obnoxiously- and Clarke straps on her seatbelt and starts to drive.
“Everything’s set,” Monty says, materialising in the passenger’s seat, “Your fake passport, suitcase and ID is in a silver suitcase in the woman’s bathroom, terminal one. Check the very last stall. There will be a phone in the suitcase and your boarding pass is on it.”
Clarke stares at him in disbelief, “How did you get a suitcase full of that in Boston in like, less that ten minutes?”
Monty grins at her, “I’m well connected, Clarke, as you know.”
“Thank you.” She tells him at the red light, “I don’t know how I can make it up-”
Monty gives her a big hug, leaning right over the console which must be uncomfortable but Clarke doesn’t really care, not now, “We love you, Clarke. Stay safe.”
Then he’s gone. She composes herself, stamps down on the gas pedal and hightails it to the airport.
It’s fucking cold and Monty’s contact didn’t pack any winter appropriate clothing. What an idiot. She shoves her hands into the pockets of her thin jacket, cursing the winds, and trudges ahead.
With every step she takes, she thinks she hears him. He’s been calling for her, she knows, ever since she boarded the plane, but she has taken measures to block him out. Preventive measures include taking sleeping pills to knock herself out ever since she boarded and keeping her mind busy by reciting the french alphabet in reverse when she landed.
It’s a good strategy, she realises, one to share with the cluster. Reciting the french alphabet in reverse, she laughs a little to herself. They’re still learning every day about their limits, their capabilities, their skills. It’s slow and painful at times but it’s something. Clarke’s not going to give up on this just yet.
She knocks on the door, fingers chapped and dry from exposure, and waits.
When he opens the door, well. It’s a lot better than she’s imagined.
He doesn’t so much say her name as much as yells it, and then he’s all in her space, one hand on her waist, the other on the small of her back, pulling her close. She laughs, bumping her nose against his chin, and before she can overthink it, kisses him.
The kiss is all heat, messy and desperate and sloppy. He kisses her with enough force to bruise, as if to be certain of the fact that she’s here. She winds one hand around his waist, tangles the other up in his hair, gasps into his mouth when he nips her bottom lip.
This is real, she thinks, dazed, as he pulls away, resting his forehead against hers, still chanting her name. We are real.
“Griffin,” He says, grinning against the edge of her mouth, “We really have to stop meeting like this.”