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Sing Me Home

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He’d know it was her even without the cherry blossoms that peek out from under the strap of her tank top, rosy pink against pale skin. The tattoo had been in its infancy the last time they met, but no less impressive. So even as he croons the last lines of the song into the mic —Darling, I know we’ll meet again— he’s proud that she finished it.

It doesn’t mean he has to be happy to see her. (He is, though. Really happy.)

Her long ponytail swishes as she threads between the crowd, already trying to find her escape route.

Not this time, princess.

Their audience screams as the last chords of the guitar ring into the air, and then Octavia, Miller and Monty are beside him, taking bows and throwing picks into the front row. His sister grabs the mic one last time, her multiple braids lashing in the wind.

“Thanks for coming Dallas, you guys are awesome! We’re The Delinquents, and we’ll see you in Houston!”

They take final bows, his sister launching a drum stick into the center of the crowd before they run off stage, laughing. Bellamy’s already buzzing from adrenaline—from the show, and from Clarke.

Octavia grabs his arm, right over the vines that twist and curl down to his elbow. “Did you see her?”

“Yeah. I’ll meet you guys later.”

Pulling on his baseball cap and sunglasses, he kisses O’s cheek and gives the others high fives before running outside. Looping around the perimeter of the stage, he lets himself be caught up by another pack of kids wandering through the music festival grounds. Those from his audience still linger by the stage, probably to get better spots for the next act. But where the crowd begins to thin, he catches sunlight glancing off blonde hair even as it’s covered under a blue ballcap.

Gotcha.

Lengthening his strides, he weaves between people, ducking under the occasional sign until he’s within earshot.

“Decided to slum it with us today, princess?” He calls out.

Clarke stops cold, like he knew she would. Her right hand clenches into a fist as she momentarily hangs her head. When she finally turns, though, those blue eyes are as fierce as he remembers.

“I told you not to call me that.”

He smirks. “Didn’t recall you minding so much last time,” he drawls.

She glares and blushes at the same time. Bellamy’s grin widens. It’s her, alright. And boy has he missed her.

~~~~~~~~~

Clarke squints up at the boy looming over her, mentally tracing all the gorgeous features she’d hoped she’d forgotten. He’s still a wonder on stage, still sings every line like his life depends on it, finding more joy in each lyric than she can remember having in one song.

She envies him, and she hasn’t forgotten him a single bit.

With a shake of her head, she begins walking again. He easily falls into step beside her. “That was a good set,” she says eventually.

“I know.”

Clarke rolls her eyes. Just as cocky as she remembers, too. Then Bellamy says, “You guys are on at four, right? Factory Stage?”

She looks up in surprise. “Yeah,” she replies slowly.

“Relax, Clarke. I’m not gonna crash your set or anything.” He grins, removing his sunglasses. “But I might make an appearance. You know, like you were kind enough to do for our little band.”

“Your little band is phenomenal, and you know it.”

This time he smiles genuinely, nodding in thanks. “You guys aren’t so bad either. From what I’ve heard.”

“You mean what you heard when you decided to pay us a visit in Phoenix last Thursday?”

Bellamy has the grace to look sheepish, if only for a second or two. Then he shrugs, back to his usual nonchalance.

“Wanted to see for myself what this new Misfit Toys was all about.” He arches a brow. “After all, most people go solo after being in a band, not the other way around.”

Clarke scoffs. “You and I both know I hated being a solo artist. And I sucked at it.”

He doesn’t take the easy hit where others would have. Instead he just says, “I bet Abby wasn’t thrilled.”

“Well it wasn’t her decision to make. Not as my mom or as my manager.”

That makes him stop in his tracks, a grin pulling at his mouth. “Seriously?”

“Seriously.” Clarke slides a card out of her back pocket, handing it over. Anya’s no-fuss branding covers the bottom, accompanied by her name and contacts. Simple and matter-of-fact, just like her.

“No shit.” Bellamy grins for real. “Congrats, Clarke.”

The pride in his voice gives her butterflies, and she smiles back. “Thanks.”

~~~~~~~~~

Bellamy is impressed. In some ways, Clarke Griffin is absolutely the girl he met a year ago while auditioning for her mom’s record label. And in other ways, she’s completely different. It makes him want to learn her all over again—including the things he didn’t get a chance to know before.

Gradually, he becomes aware that they’re standing in broad daylight grinning at each other like two bashful idiots. He laughs. Clarke’s smile turns wry.

“Can I get in on the joke?”

“No joke. This just isn’t how I pictured our reunion, that’s all.”

She looks away, faint color on her cheeks. “That makes two of us.”

He’s not sure if it’s worth revisiting the past—but god, he really wants to, because he’s not sure he’ll get another chance.

“Clarke—”

“I didn’t tell you my real name on purpose, okay?” Clarke interrupts. “Last year, when we— when we—”

“Fucked in the closet?” He supplies.

“You didn’t fuck me,” she hisses, then looks like she wants the words back as he grins, because she totally remembers and it’s doing wonders for his ego. Clarke knows it, too. “I hate you,” she mutters.

“Not what you said last year.”

“You're the worst.”

“I mean, if you want another round of stress relief I’m all for it—”

She punches his shoulder, seething. “The worst,” she reiterates.

Bellamy grins. “You started it, princess.”

Her eyes flash, but has no reply to that. It’s true, after all.

~~~~~~~~~

Clarke remembers like it was yesterday. Seeing his band warm up, the easy way he was with Octavia, his hands on the guitar like it was his best friend, the baritone of his voice soaring into the mic and later rough against her neck…

It’s simultaneously the best and worst memory she has.

She’d been fighting with her mom again, just one thing after another snowballing into a headache that pounded her temples and made her want to throw her beloved guitar. She was pissed off and feeling reckless. Enter Bellamy Blake—the perfect distraction. Little did he know she’d never done anything like that in her life before that moment.

He’s still watching her closely, so she crosses her arms, defensive. “I don’t have an excuse, alright? I made my bed. But I did fight for you, afterwards.”

“Whatever you say.”

”Hey.” She steps closer. “Believe whatever else you want about me, but I was on your side, Bellamy. I always am.” She pokes his chest for good measure. “Mom was an idiot for not signing you guys on the spot, and now she knows it. Her loss.”

Bellamy studies her for a few moments. Finally he says, “I guess we got lucky. I heard she sucks anyways.” As she starts to grin, he adds, “But you still should’ve told me your name.”

“And if I had, would you have put your hand down my pants?”

He doesn’t answer, but the set of his jaw does it for him.

Clarke smirks. “I thought so. Look, I’m not proud of it, alright? But it happened, and you can keep pretending like you didn’t enjoy it or we can just move on.” And pretend like I don’t want you even more now. Swallowing, she adds, “I read the feature that Harper did on you guys for Chaos. It was awesome.”

That pulls a faint grin from him. “Jasper pulled some strings. He’s our publicist now.”

“So I heard.” At his look, she shrugs. “Maya has a crush. She talks a lot when she’s tipsy.”

They begin walking again, more so just wandering around than actually having a destination in mind. It’s almost nice. Like they’re meeting all over again.

“The photoshoot looked like fun. Does Octavia’s drumset have room for any more signatures?” She asks with a grin.

“You know she’d find a spot for you,” Bellamy replies, and she smiles at the ground. After a while, he says, “The Titanium cover you did last month was cool. For that radio station in Tucson.”

Clarke beams. She’s been following the news about him as best she can, but it’s pretty wonderful to know he was keeping tabs on her, too.

“It was Raven’s idea. We both love the song already. It’s actually in our set today, too.”

“Nice. So O says you guys kept in touch, emails and stuff?”

“Of course we did. She’s my friend. Not to mention she’s banging my drummer.” She laughs. “Although, considering that he’s been in love since the second he laid eyes on her—”

Clarke is still rambling when she realizes Bellamy is no longer by her side. Turning, she finds him stopped in his tracks, dumbstruck. Her hand flies to her mouth.

Shit. No no no—

She hurries back to him, putting both hands on his shoulders. “Bellamy, hey.” She keeps her voice soft, waiting for his gaze to focus on her. His shock is quickly transforming to anger, but beneath that there’s just pain—at not knowing. At being kept in the dark for so long.

“You really didn’t know,” she murmurs. He gives a tight shake of the head, his mouth pressed in a thin line. “I’m sorry,” she says, and she means it.

His eyes leave hers, already searching the crowd, and she knows she has to stop him from doing something stupid.

Which probably means she’s going to do something stupid.

Clarke grabs his hand and marches forward, intent on dragging him if she has to. Bellamy stumbles at first, then regains his footing and follows, though she can feel his silent questioning aimed at the back of her head. She winds around the perimeter of the meadow, far from wandering eyes and definitely nowhere near their van. The music fades behind them until only the bass is left thumping into the ground.

Finding an isolated patch of trees, she turns and tosses her cap aside. Bellamy looks downright suspicious.

Without thinking, she yanks his mouth down to hers. His lips still fit perfectly, a fact she spent a year forgetting—or trying to, at least. It takes everything she has not to sigh.

After a stunned moment, Bellamy jerks backwards. “Clarke, what—”

“Stress relief,” she breathes.

“You can’t be serious.”

She is. Especially when the alternative is her drummer being beat up—or, more likely, Bellamy. Raising an eyebrow, she unbuttons the front of her shirt, revealing the striped bra underneath. Bellamy’s nostrils flare, his gaze wavering. She steps forward, and he takes one back. Now she’s kind of amused. So she takes another, and another, until his back hits a tree trunk.

His arms hang limply by his side, hands balled into fists. When she gets close enough that their chests brush, Bellamy lets out a harsh sigh and closes his eyes.

“This—this isn’t what I want,” he grinds out.

“But it’s what you need.”

His eyes open and lock on hers. She waits, letting him understand what she’s offering.

Swallowing thickly, he nods, and their lips meet halfway. The next kiss is considerably messier, his tongue diving so far into her mouth she wonders if he’ll taste like the hazelnut iced coffee she had that morning. Then again, her tongue is just as eagerly savoring the citrus along his lips. She slides her hands up his neck, shoving the cap off so that she can twist her fingers deep into his thick locks. Both his hands grab her ass, pulling her roughly against him. Gasping, she grinds her hips against his, and he bites down on her lip, fingers flexing uncontrollably.

Then he reverses their positions, and Clarke clutches at his shoulders as he mouths at her neck, one large hand sliding up her ribcage to cup a cloth-covered breast.

“Bellamy,” she whines.

He murmurs something like approval against her skin, sucking harder. With some effort, she cracks her eyes open and looks down to fumble with his jeans, only to be met with the sight of his lips closing around her nipple through the bra. She lets out an embarrassingly loud moan and knocks her head back into the tree as her back arches helplessly.

“God, Clarke,” he mumbles, kissing his way back up to her mouth.

“Pants,” she begs.

He unsnaps the button on her shorts at once, a hand sliding inside to trace over her wet underwear. She shivers, thinking of the last time, and swears she feels his mouth curve into a smirk. So she sinks her teeth into his lower lip a little more viciously than intended.

With a growl, Bellamy yanks off her clothes, then shoves his jeans and briefs down together, his thick length bobbing up against his stomach. Clarke groans and hooks an arm over his shoulders as he hoists her up, a leg hitched around his waist.

Their eyes meet, and she nods in response to his silent question, unable to help but think it’s oddly sweet of him to still be asking. Then he's sliding inside, and she stops thinking altogether, only able to take shuddering breaths that sound a lot like Bellamy’s name. His mouth covers hers as he begins to move, swallowing every noise she makes, which is probably a good thing because she kind of sucks at being quiet in general, but the way he’s pounding into her makes her want to scream.

He presses his face into her neck when he comes, his entire body shaking. Then his fingers find her clit, and Clarke has to squeeze her eyes shut as her body locks up, muscles spasming.

They clean up quickly and quietly, though Bellamy buttons her shirt back up with a tenderness that makes her blush and stare at his collar instead of his face because she’s not ready for that at all.

When she finally does peek up, he’s smiling a little but his eyes are still clouded, and she knows their little respite from reality won’t last much longer. She can’t help but feel at fault. Her hand finds his, and before she knows it, she’s insisting they eat something before rejoining the others. He nods casually enough, but it’s not enough to hide the relief on his face—he’s not ready to deal with it yet, either.

So they get food from one of the stupidly expensive carts and sit in the shade, trading stories about the past year. Clarke tells him about the huge blowup she and her mom had right in the middle of the studio when she was handed yet another manufactured piece of shit to sing and basically lost it.

“It was embarrassing,” she admits, “but necessary. I don’t think she realized that in the past year we’d only spoken about my image or the latest magazine shoot or my next move.” Clarke rolls her eyes, accepting the lemonade that he hands over wordlessly. “It sucked how it happened, but it was for the best.”

“And Lexa? Was that also for the best?”

Her head snaps up at the edge in his voice. Is she imagining it, or does he sound— No. No, that’s not possible.

“That was…” she shrugs. “It was good, for a while. Until it wasn’t.” There isn’t much else she wants to say about it. Bellamy doesn’t push. For a while they just sit there under the shadow of the tree, looking out at the sea of people.

Then Bellamy says, “Miller and Monty went on their first date in Seattle.”

Clarke grabs his arm with a squeal. “Seriously?!”

“O didn’t tell you?”

“Just that she had exciting news. I think she was waiting to see me in person.” She claps her hands, delighted. “This is the best thing I’ve heard all day. Come on, I need details!”

Bellamy grins and lets her badger him about who finally got up the nerve to ask out who, where exactly they went, are they going out again and when — the works. And even though she figures she could get most of this from his sister with considerably fewer snarky comments, she pesters him anyways until the smile on his face finally reaches his eyes, too.

~~~~~~~~~

Just as he's rounding the corner to their bus, Octavia comes flying out.

“Where the hell were you, it's been 2 hours and your phone—”

“When were you going to tell me about Lincoln?” He interrupts. Her face drains of color. Bellamy's never seen his sister speechless, so he adds dryly, “He's still alive. If that's what you're worried about.”

“I wasn't— I'm not—” She fumbles for a long moment, then throws up her hands. “How are you so calm?!”

“I wasn't, a while ago,” he admits. “Clarke… talked me down.” Among other things.

“Clarke talked you down,” Octavia repeats doubtfully, folding her arms.

“Yes.” When she opens her mouth again, he quickly says, “Don’t try to distract me. Come on, O. Spill.”

With a sigh, she flops down on the grass, leaning back against the side of the bus. He settles down beside her, drawing his knees to his chest and waiting expectantly.

“How much did Clarke tell you?” She asks glumly.

“Nothing, after she realized I didn’t know. She said that was up to you.” He pauses. “It was an honest mistake. But she does insist that he’s in love with you.”

Octavia can’t help but brighten at that, though her smile fades fast. “I didn’t mean for it to go on like this for so long. In the beginning, I just wanted to see what could happen, you know? Lincoln was nice and good and a perfect gentleman. I mean it, Bell. I wouldn’t have stayed if he wasn’t a good person.”

There’s no doubt about her honesty. Octavia sees through people’s bullshit instantly. If she says Lincoln’s the real deal, then he is. Bellamy just can’t help feeling bitter about all the secrecy.

“If he’s that special to you, why didn’t you just tell me about him?”

She rolls her eyes. “Right. I was supposed to march up to you and say ‘Hey, I’m dating Clarke’s hot, older, tattooed drummer’ and have you be fine with it.” She nudges him. “You’d have been out the door before I could explain.”

Bellamy rubs his neck, wishing he had a proper reply. Octavia laughs at his guilty expression and shifts closer. He finally grins and slings an arm around her.

“You’re happy, right?” He asks quietly.

“Yeah, Bell. Crazy stupid love happy.”

“Shit, it has to be bad if you’re referencing a rom com.”

He’s still laughing when she shoves him to the ground.

~~~~~~~~~

Clarke can’t help but search for Bellamy from the stage later, even as she greets the crowd with a cheer. He’d mentioned he would stop by, but that had been before they—well. The thought alone makes her flush. That was not what she’d expected from their first meeting in months. And yet—she’s really hoping he’ll show up.

Raven’s getting the audience pumped up as Lincoln sets the beat for their first song. Clarke’s eyes continue to wander through the sea of faces, until finally she spots inky black curls and endless freckles. Bellamy raises two fingers in greeting, a corner of his mouth lifting ever so slightly.

Raven hooks an arm through hers. “Friend of yours?”

“Don’t be coy,” she replies. Her friend is all too aware of her history with Bellamy. Even if she doesn’t know all about their earlier meeting—yet—Raven is perceptive enough to know something’s up.

“Just don’t forget the lyrics,” Raven teases slyly, bumping her hip.

“Shut up,” Clarke laughs, and throws her guitar strap over her shoulder.

Beaming, she lets the music take over. For a while, nothing matters; it’s just her and the melody and the lyrics. The ones she composed herself, that mean something everytime she sings them.

They’ve built two covers into their set this time. One of Clarke’s favorites, I Wanna Get Better, and Titanium, because they couldn’t not do that song. The crowd goes wild when they begin the latter, and Clarke feels the thrill crawl up her spine like it always does, no matter if she’s singing this with Raven off-key in their motel room or on stage like they are now.

"I'm bulletproof, nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away
Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away
Shoot me down, but I won’t fall.
I am titanium."

Their voices rise with the swell of the chorus until it’s just them singing, and even the drums stop for a beat, leaving the harmony to linger in the air when they’ve finished.

In the ensuing applause, Clarke catches sight of Bellamy whistling his appreciation, and this time the grin he gives her is chock full of Blake charm and dazzle.

Raven tugs at her arm and leans close. “You are so screwed,” she yells.

Clarke grins. Tell me about it.

~~~~~~~~~

Their van begins to sputter right outside of Dallas.

“Are you fucking kidding?” Wick thumps a fist down on the dashboard, letting out a longer string of curses when nothing changes. Muttering, he begins pulling over to the shoulder.

Clarke gets up to look, then crashes into Raven as the van makes a horrible grinding noise and lurches to a halt. Car horns sound as they whiz by, followed by a few more choice words from Wick. Bleary-eyed, Lincoln peers over a seat. Raven groans from the floor.

“The fuck was that?”

Clarke pushes hair from her eyes and glances up at Wick, who’s slumped in the seat with a hand over his face. “Just stay on the floor,” she mutters to Raven. Raising her head, she calls, “Maya, you alright?”

“I’m okay. Are we stuck?”

“Something like that.”

Wick stomps outside, followed closely by Raven, already arguing about the possible problem. Clarke tries not to be hopeful—Wick is fantastic when it comes to checking their equipment and essentially being a one-man stage crew, not to mention one of her best friends, but even this might be too much for him to fix alone. After a considerable amount of staring, they return to the inside of the van.

Clarke sits up. “Well?”

“We’re fucked,” Raven confirms, throwing herself into a seat.

There’s silence for a few minutes as they all consider the next move.

Then, tentatively, Maya says, “I can call Jasper, if you want?” They all look at her, then at Clarke, and back. “He was saying they have extra space on their bus,” she adds. “I’m sure they’re not far from here.”

“They’re not,” Lincoln confirms. “Just passed city limits. And their bus is pretty nice.”

Raven looks at Clarke. Clarke raises an eyebrow. Well?

The other girl shrugs. Your call.

With a sigh, Clarke leans back. “May as well.”

She tries not to look forward to the thought of seeing Bellamy again, she really does. And when he hops out of the bus with a smug comment on the tip of his tongue, she almost thinks it might be easier than she thought.

But as she watches the tow truck drag the van off—to a junkyard, she hopes— he puts a light hand between her shoulder blades and murmurs, “I’m glad you called us.”

Not sure what to say to that, she only nods and offers a quick smile before hurrying to gather her things.

~~~~~~~~~

What a difference a day makes, Bellamy thinks wryly.

He still can’t believe this turn of events. Not only did he spend the day with Clarke Griffin—and what a day that was—he’s now sharing close quarters with her band for the foreseeable future.

Of course he knew they'd have to talk about what happened earlier, but he hadn't expected a chance so soon. He just knew he wanted to see her again. And somehow, the universe has granted his wish, practically wrapped it in a neat little bow and set it on his doorstep.

This time he's not going to fuck it up.

The bus is silent at the moment. Everyone’s asleep quickly, tired from the day—everyone except for Clarke, who sits on a top bunk watching the road fly by in the harsh glow of the streetlights. When Wick taps his arm, Bellamy pauses to switch driving duties for a few hours. After taking a look at the others sprawled out, he flops down next to Clarke on the bunk.

“You look tense, princess.”

Clarke sends him a crooked grin. “Our van broke down and now I’m on a bus with you. Of course I’m tense.”

He accepts the barb easily. “I could help with that, you know. If you wanted.” When she eyes him skeptically, he chuckles. “Just talking about a massage.”

She considers him through narrowed eyes, absently biting her bottom lip a little in a way that makes him want to lean in and kiss her senseless. He hopes she’ll give in, just because he kind of wants to be around her without the fog of sex clouding his brain.

Not that that’s unwelcome, by any means, but—he's kind of dying to keep talking to her, too.

Finally Clarke shrugs and turns her back to him. “If you insist.”

Bellamy chuckles at her attempt at casualness. Nothing about this is normal, and they both know it. Shifting behind her, he places his hands on her waist and hears her breath hitch.

“Here,” he says into her ear. “It’ll be easier like this.”

At his urging, Clarke scoots backward and settles between his legs, her back flush against his chest. She can’t hold back a quiet sigh, her head already lolling to its natural spot on his shoulder. Her hair tickles his chin. It takes a lot of restraint not to just bury his nose into the silky strands right then and there.

He settles for rubbing her arms comfortingly, then starts at the back of her neck, thumbs gently kneading away at her skin. She mumbles contentedly, relaxing further into his hold.

He frowns. “Is it always this bad, Clarke?”

“Nah. Just lately, it’s been one thing after another. I haven’t had a chance to just… stop.”

He nods and continues, fingers assuredly digging into her skin. The only other sound is the bus on pavement, the wind rushing by. It’s almost nice like this, with the darkness surrounding them like a blanket. Maybe that’s why he feels brave enough to bring up the past again.

“We keep meeting like this,” he says with a grin, and she giggles into the dark.

“Old habits die hard. You still give good massages though.”

“And you're just as tense as you were the last time,” he teases.

“And who’s the common denominator?”

Bellamy laughs softly. “Touché.” His eyes travel over the flowers that cover her right shoulder, his finger lightly tracing the outline of a petal until she shivers. “You finished the tattoo. It looks incredible.”

“Thanks.”

Clarke sounds almost shy, which is why he says without thinking, “Your dad would have loved it.”

She stills, her head twisted partly to the side like she's debating turning around. Then, quietly: “I can't believe you remember that.”

“I remember a lot about you, Clarke.” To lighten the mood, he adds, “Like finding you by that side entrance, trying to hide your cigarette under your armpit.”

“It was my last one,” Clarke protests. “And I thought you were mom.”

“Okay, my hair wasn’t that long.”

Clarke laughs again, soft and melodic. “Always ready with the charm, aren’t you?”

He can’t tell if she’s making fun of him or not, but he grins anyways. “At your service, m’lady. Or should I call you Claire?”

“Ugh,” she groans and kicks his foot. “That’s not fair. You asked me my name after you’d had your tongue in my mouth for ten minutes!” Her voice cracks a little on the last word, and he smirks against her hair until she tartly adds, “I can feel your smugness, you know.”

Chuckling, he kneads his thumbs into a knot above her shoulder blade. Clarke barely stifles her moan.

“You were saying?” Bellamy asks.

“You’re insufferable,” she sighs. Before he can reply, she adds, “That’s not something to be proud of.”

“I dunno, I’m pretty proud at the moment.”

“Shut up.”

~~~~~~~~~

Clarke knows she should’ve gotten out the second Bellamy climbed onto the cot next to her. Now his talented hands have coaxed her into such a blissful state she never wants to move again. Not to mention she’s really enjoying his company, too—even if he is kind of insufferable sometimes.

Unexpectedly, his fingers brush down her sides. She jumps, barely stifling her squeal.

It takes him a second; he laughs softly. “Ticklish?”

“Yeah.” She hopes he won’t take it as a dare, or she will wake the entire bus.

But Bellamy surprises her, his hands instead floating along the waistband of her jeans. Her breath catches in her chest. He brushes her hair aside, dropping soft kisses along the nape of her neck, mapping a path to her ear.

“Bellamy,” she sighs, head tilting automatically. She feels his short exhale against her neck, like he’s almost relieved that she’s okay with this. As if she could ever not want him. Then he traps her earlobe between his teeth and tugs. She mewls and clutches at the arm he has wrapped around her waist, her whole body reacting to his touch.

“Sshh,” he soothes. “We gotta be quiet.”

Clarke nods, her pulse already at a gallop. Bellamy resumes his careful attention, his lips lingering near her ear when he realizes she’s practically squirming on the spot. She thinks she might have a souvenir for it by the time he’s done, and that makes her reach back to curl her fingers into his hair, pulling his mouth to hers a bit insistently.

He undoes the button on her jeans at the same time his tongue pushes past her lips, fingers sneaking under her panties to stroke her slit. She chokes off a moan and presses her face into the crook of his neck.

”Fuck.” Bellamy’s whisper is strained and aroused all at once. He slips one, then two fingers inside her with ease, and she bucks up against his hand, shaking. She really fucking loves his hands.

“Glad to hear it,” he murmurs, amused.

Oops.

Clarke was turned on before, but she's positively dripping now, crimson staining her cheeks when she realizes he can probably hear it too. But Bellamy keeps kissing and sucking at her neck, murmuring rough encouragement into her skin, and he's so hard against her back that she could just turn and sink down—

Bellamy crooks his fingers and the burst of pleasure is so sudden and sharp that her toes curl. Her hips cant upwards over and over, and when they find a rhythm, she hangs onto him for dear life. The breath leaves her in a rush when he adds a third finger, all the while stimulating her clit with the heel of his hand.

“Bell—I’m—”

“Yeah,” he rasps. “Come for me, Clarke.” His free hand covers her mouth as she quakes and shudders through her orgasm, his voice low and soothing against her ear. When she recovers enough to open her eyes, she finds him licking his fingers, and her body throbs in response.

“Not fair,” she says, loose-limbed and dazed.

He grins and kisses her again, decidedly tender. “You can stay here, you know.”

“What about you?” She gestures down to his pants, but he shakes his head.

“I’m fine. Seriously. I have an annoying amount of self-control.” He arches an eyebrow. “Otherwise I’d have a boner every time I got on stage.” Clarke has to laugh at that. He smiles, inviting. “So what’s the verdict? You staying?”

She pretends to survey the sheets. “The bed’s pretty small. We’d have to cuddle.”

“I won’t tell if you won’t.”

After a moment of considering, she lies down, and tells herself she didn’t just let him win something, not even when she has to hide her smile into the pillow as his body naturally curves around hers, an arm banded over her waist and his breath steady on her neck.

In the morning, Clarke forces herself to pull away from his warmth. It’s a heroic effort, especially with the way Bellamy’s eyes openly rake over her. She stretches, clears her throat—and finds nothing to say. After a couple minutes of silence, she’s about to swing off the bunk when he grasps her elbow.

“Clarke,” he says softly. She meets his serious gaze over her shoulder. He assess her quietly, and it’s unnerving to think that he can see everything she’s worked so hard to hide. But it’s Bellamy, so he only sends her a smile and says, “Feel like going for a walk? There’s a place nearby that does these breakfast sandwiches O likes, and they have decent coffee.”

She’s about to shake her head, but what comes out is, “Sure,” and fifteen minutes later she finds herself juggling drinks in one hand and sniffing at her cinnamon raisin bagel through the bag, her mouth already watering.

Bellamy’s telling her how they found the place, after breaking down nearby one summer and not having anywhere to stay; how the kindly cafe owner let them sleep in the back and they later thanked her by putting on an impromptu acoustic show for her teenage daughter. Clarke listens to him talk while sipping her coffee and breathing in the summer air, wondering at how just a day has suddenly changed everything.

~~~~~~~~~

It’s pouring in Houston.

Clarke and Raven are pissed as hell when they realize they’re assigned to Farm, an outdoor stage, which all but confirms that they can’t go on without risking their equipment.

Bellamy sympathizes; he’s had his fair share of weather cancellations, and it always sucks. But Clarke is a firecracker when she’s angry, all pinched face and flashing blue eyes and pretty much ready to pick a fight with just about anyone over about just about anything. It’s entertaining, to say the least. Mostly because he’s just so used to seeing her in control every other second of the day.

But he doesn’t miss how longingly she looks at Alpha, the huge stage practically built like an amphitheater in the middle of the grounds. How she frowns at the sky like she can make it stop raining if she stares hard enough.

Maybe that’s what possesses him to do it. He’s not really sure.

He just keeps seeing her face set in that sad expression, so right before he’s about to go out on that very stage, he turns to her and says, “Come do a song with us.”

“What?”

He rubs his neck, well aware of both their bandmates watching, and repeats, “Come do a song. Your choice. We’ll invite you up near the end of the set, so you can go get your equipment. There’s plenty of room.”

“I—uh—” Clarke swallows, clearly at a loss. But her eyes are hopeful.

“Let’s do it!” Raven grabs her arm. “Come on, we can do Shadow like you wanted to. It’s easy enough to pick up.” She glances at him. “You guys know the song, right?”

“Bellamy knows it best,” Octavia pipes up. He’s not sure why that’s important until Raven pokes Clarke meaningfully.

“Perfect. You two can trade verses. We’ll back you up on the chorus.”

As Raven and Lincoln run off to get their things, Clarke peers up at him through her lashes. “You sure about this?”

“No,” he grins, earning a smack on the arm. “I’m just kidding. Would I have asked otherwise?”

Clarke smiles hesitantly, then surprises him with a swift hug. “Thank you,” she murmurs, lips soft against his cheek.

He hugs her back for as long as he dares, breathing in the hint of jasmine along her collar before pulling away to run onto the stage.

When he announces to their crowd that they have a surprise guest, he sees Clarke brimming with excitement at the side of the stage and thinks maybe his own grin can be seen for miles. They hurry out as they’re introduced, Raven grabbing Miller’s mic to briefly apologize for the “shitty-ass weather” that affected their earlier set.

Clarke stops beside him. He touches the cherry blossoms on her shoulder for a moment.

“Ready?”

At her nod, he grabs his guitar and throws the strap over his shoulder. Octavia and Lincoln’s combined drums sound behind him, rolling into a galloping beat. His guitar soon joins, followed by Miller’s and Raven’s, and he nods to Clarke. She takes a deep breath.

”Some girls
Some girls they really just wanna hurt you
And there's some boys
Some boys that laugh when they break your heart.”

She pulls back a little, letting him lean into the mic.

”But how love dies is a place that I'm not going.
And we could try, 'cause…”

He tilts his head, urging her back, and she smiles, singing with him.

”If you're feeling small
I'll love your shadow
And if you're feeling small
I'll love your shadow.”

Bellamy motions for her to take the next verse entirely, not giving her too much time to think about it. He wants her to just sing, and feel. And she does, closing her eyes and letting the words flow out. Glancing over at Raven and then Octavia, he nods as she nears the chorus. The girls launch into it with her.

”If you're feeling small
I'll love your shadow
And if you're feeling small
I'll love your shadow.”

He takes over alone, ignoring the audience for a moment to sing directly to the girl beside him.

”And when the lights go dark
I will stand right beside you
If you're feeling small
I'll love your shadow
I'll love your shadow.”

There’s a flash of something in her eyes and then it’s gone, too quick for him to analyze. She turns back to the audience, smiling easily and bopping around as the others take turns on the bridge. Now and then she’ll mouth the words along without even realizing it. But as they approach the final few lines, she’s the one who looks at the others with silent directions before leaning close to the mic, blue eyes focused on him.

”How love dies is a place that I'm not going
And we could try…”

Clarke smiles, almost shy, and nudges him. Grinning, he finishes the last chorus with her, forcing himself to acknowledge the crowd when the song is over instead of just sweeping her into his arms like he so wants to.

But with the way his heart pounds and stomach flutters when Clarke takes his hand, he knows resistance is probably futile.

~~~~~~~~~

No beer makes her feel quite as buzzed as Bellamy Blake.

Clarke sighs to herself and takes another giant sip, trying to forget about the look that’d been in his eyes as they sang earlier. As he’d sung to her, and only her. The look that said, We could try.

She nearly spills her drink as Monty cheerfully swings an arm around her, yanking her over to the pool table in the corner of the bar where Octavia’s setting up. Grinning, she watches them debate turns when she feels Bellamy behind her.

“Is that the nitro?” He asks.

“Yeah. I like stouts,” she answers.

“Hm. Good to know,” he says thoughtfully, and her stomach does this weird flip at the thought of him trying to learn more about her.

Turning, she fights the urge to lay her head on his broad chest, instead meeting his eyes. “What are you drinking?” In reply, he holds up the bottle of Shocktop. She purses her lips. “Good choice.”

“I thought so,” he says, amused.

They watch as Monty and Octavia square off, trading smack talk while Lincoln and Miller hang back and chat. Raven and Wick have long disappeared, and Jasper and Maya don’t seem keen to move from their corner booth.

Clarke’s not really paying attention to any of it, too busy trying not to shiver when Bellamy’s breath fans her neck every time he leans down to offer a sly remark — which happens so often she starts to wonder if it’s on purpose. All she wants to do is lean back against his solid form and urge him to wrap his arms around her.

She resists—but only for so long. Halfway through her beer, she sets it down with a clink and glances at him.

“I need some air.” She doesn’t wait, just strides out of the bar and back to the bus, barely feeling the faint raindrops on her head. His footsteps sound behind her, squelching in the wet dirt. Her palms are suddenly sweaty when she turns to his inquisitive face.

“Clarke, are you—”

Her mouth swallows the rest of his question, along with the quiet groan that escapes him. He responds to her kiss just as forcefully, burying a hand deep in her tresses and slanting his mouth over hers so wonderfully it’s almost dizzying—

Until he stops.

“No,” she begs, dragging his head back down.

Now that they’ve started, she can’t remember why they stopped; stopping isn’t even in her vocabulary at the moment. There’s Bellamy, and only Bellamy. Their lips touch for a blissful twenty seconds, rich and heady, and then he pulls away again, mouth red and eyes so wide she can see her own wild reflection.

She looks a mess. And she looks like she wants more.

Bellamy is breathing hard, his hands tight on her arms as he stares at her. “Clarke,” he breathes, raw and husky. “What—”

“Don’t,” she grits out. “Don’t pretend like you don’t know exactly what I want right now.”

Now his eyes narrow. “So what, you want me to fuck you and leave—”

“Did I ask you to leave?” she asks sharply.

He gulps, looking more uncertain by the second.

The rain has picked up, becoming a steady drizzle over their heads. Water drips over his long eyelashes; his full lips look even more alluring. She wants to drink rainwater from his skin, wants their slick bodies pressed together with nothing in between.

“It was your idea.” Bellamy’s voice snaps her back. He’s watching her intently. “Before, it was your idea, just stress relief. And I gave in, because it’s you, and I—I couldn’t say no. And last year… I didn’t know what I wanted then. But I do now,” he says firmly, and her heart jumps and dances and panics all at once.

What does he expect her to say? She’s not going to confess her love for him. She doesn’t even know what love is right now, just that her emotions and logic are so twisted to the point it’s all unrecognizable, and Bellamy makes everything quiet, makes everything untangle.

“Look, I’m not saying I want to keep on like that either.” Her voice is so soft he has to lean down to hear her over the rain. “But I don’t know what this is. I don’t know much of anything right now, okay? Except I just want to sing and travel and we have the entire summer and… I want you, Bellamy. Just you.”

In the silence after her confession, she’s hypnotized by the warmth in his dark eyes, the odd spark of hope that flares up before he masks it—maybe because neither of them are ready for it. Ready to admit what it could mean. One of his hands slides from her shoulder to her jaw, tilting her face up as he bridges the gap between them to kiss her again.

This time it’s him who controls the kiss, and it’s not sloppy or hasty at all. It’s tender and coaxing and new, as if they’re doing so for the first time.

It kind of terrifies her.

But as if Bellamy can sense that too, he chooses that moment to cup his hand behind her head, his other arm curling around her waist to pull her flush against him, and she moans into his mouth, forgetting her fears in favor of sucking on his bottom lip and reveling in the way his fingers tighten on her skin.

He picks her up with ease, pinning her against the side of the bus to suck at her neck until she’s sure it was his plan all along to leave a mark where it’s most obvious. She tugs sharply at his hair to bring his lips back to hers, gasping “Bed” when his hips begin to grind into hers.

They’re inside the bus in seconds, tumbling onto the small bunk and undressing each other with questing hands that shake a little.

Bellamy makes her come twice with his mouth, his tongue learning her so thoroughly that when Clarke cracks her eyelids open she knows she’ll never think of anyone else down there. She might even have said as much, because he’s grinning something stupid by the time he crawls back up her body, kissing her so deeply she can only taste the flavor of herself mingling with him.

Then he pulls away, so sudden that she whines before she can help it. With a shit-eating grin, Bellamy kisses the back of her hand before hopping off the cot to dig around in his discarded pants.

“I told you I’m already on the pill,” she says absently, quite enjoying the site of his naked form.

“Last time was an exception,” he replies. “Besides it’s not like there’s a shortage of condoms.”

She giggles as he hauls himself back onto the bunk. Before he can get set, she’s crawling into his lap and dropping kisses to his cheek and neck and shoulder until he aligns their bodies and fills her up, his groan hot against her ear. They rock together until he comes hard, probably leaving outlines of his fingers along her hips, and that thought is what brings her to her third orgasm. Clarke collapses against his chest, lungs heaving in air as she attempts to get her body under control. When that fails, she just sags against him, feeling him smile against her forehead.

Gently, he readjusts her limbs so she’s more securely cradled in his arms, then lays down with her, throwing the scratchy blanket over them both. Clarke doesn’t open her eyes, for once allowing herself to stay right where she wants to be.

~~~~~~~~~

They skip New Orleans and Nashville to travel to Atlanta, before readying for three days in a row in Florida. At a gas stop, the others go in to grab food and use the restroom, but Clarke stays behind with her guitar, wearing Bellamy’s shirt over her torn leggings as she scribbles down the notes to a new song that’s been rumbling around in her head. It’s taken nearly a week, but she wants to get it on paper once and for all.

In the middle of the second verse, the bus door opens and Octavia pops in. She takes one look at Clarke and grins wryly.

“So it finally happened, huh?”

Clarke doesn’t get it until the other girl gestures to her shirt. Oh. Right. She swallows and nods tentatively. Octavia waves a hand, coming to rest her elbows on the top bunk.

“Just a matter of time,” she says matter-of-factly. “Look, I probably don’t need to tell you this, but, sister’s duty. Don’t fuck with him, alright? He’s been through enough shit already. And I know you have too.”

“I’m trying, O. I really am,” she promises.

“I know. So’s he. That’s all we can do, right?”

Clarke offers a smile, then picks at a thread on the quilt. “Listen, I’m sorry about the whole Lincoln thing. I swear, I thought he knew—”

“Don’t. It’s fine, seriously.” Octavia pats her knee. “He was gonna find out one way or another, and I’m pretty sure I owe you for the fact that he didn’t immediately barge in on Lincoln like a moron, so, it’s cool. All things considered, it could have gone worse.”

Clarke blushes a little at the thought of how she distracted him, but, whatever, it did work.

~~~~~~~~~

Philadelphia arrives rainy and dark, and after one of their amps breaks down in the middle of his Weightless cover, Bellamy stomps back to the bus alone, his sour mood matched by the storm.

Some time in the night, he rouses to the glide of nails on his thigh, and he forces his eyes open in time to see a stark naked Clarke wrap her pink lips over the head of his cock. He stutters out a curse or three and she grins and fucking winks, tongue fluttering rapidly over his skin. He gives in with a moan, jerking unsteadily into her mouth. The callouses on her fingers are rough where she grasps his hips. He’s so far gone that all he can do is fist a hand in her hair in warning when his breathing gets too shallow for words. She merely flicks her eyes up at him and sucks harder, cheeks hollowing, and he curses and comes within a minute, hoping he doesn’t say anything too embarrassing as he does so.

Looking rather pleased, Clarke drapes herself over him and fits their mouths together, and they kiss and kiss while the storm continues outside.

“Raven says she’ll take a look at your amp,” she says gradually. “If it’s a lost cause, Maya’s offered to check with the other bands to see if anyone has a backup.”

“That’s nice of them.”

Clarke arches an eyebrow. “Don’t sound so surprised. They’re doing us all a favor. Nobody wants you in a shit mood all the way to Long Island.”

He lightly pinches her side in rebuke, catching her squeal in another kiss. When the rain finally slows to a meek drizzle, Clarke drags him out of bed, insisting he needs to eat so that he doesn't faint while driving. Never mind that he's never fainted in his life.

“Cheesesteaks?” She suggests, pouting when he laughs loudly.

“Is that the only thing you know about Philadelphia?”

“You're free to go alone,” she huffs, crossing her arms.

Still chuckling, he noses her cheek fondly. “It's 1 a.m., Clarke.”

“You want hash browns, don't you.”

“Bacon would be nice too.”

So they find themselves at a near-empty diner, sitting in a red window booth and drinking hot chocolate, Bellamy leaning over to kiss her every time the whipped cream sticks to her nose or cheek—which is often. Their waitress is a middle-aged lady who looks and acts like a mom, the way she dotes on them and refills their cups with with comments about how nice it is to see a young couple in love. Bellamy doesn’t correct her, mostly because he likes seeing the deep crimson on Clarke’s cheeks.

Clarke steals pieces of his bacon, and in the midst of digging into her own huge waffle, asks him to tell her about the time he and Octavia got lost in the city. One story segues into another, and it’s early morning when they finally walk back to the bus, Clarke lifting the cap from atop his head to plop it backwards over her own with an impish grin that just makes him stop to kiss her at every street corner.

Back in his bunk, her fingers trail along his bicep, curiously outlining every twist and curl of the thick tattoo that he got so many summers ago in this very city.

“I knew I remembered petals,” she murmurs, almost to herself, and he grins at the ceiling. “Why this?” She asks eventually.

“Mom used to plant morning glory in our backyard when I was little. It would climb up the fence that separated us from the neighbors, right outside my room. The first thing I saw when I woke up were these flowers wrapping over the fence. “ He smiles. “Well, that and mom.”

“That sounds lovely,” Clarke says, her voice quiet. “Did you ever think about filling the flowers in with color?”

“I couldn’t decide,” he admits. “When I got it, I almost made them entirely black, but the guy convinced me to leave them as outlines. In case I ever changed my mind.”

Clarke nods, a fingertip lightly tracing the curved path to his elbow. “I like this. It’s different. It fits you.”

With that, she tucks herself under his arm, wiggling into what’s become ‘her spot’, as he likes to think of it, and he drifts to sleep with her words ringing out in his mind.

~~~~~~~~~

They’re all seated comfortably in the bus, huddling over their phones and debating which cities to head to next. Everyone has an opinion about the best route to travel and the places they want to see, but out of nowhere Clarke snatches Bellamy’s phone from his hand, apparently not content to peer over his shoulder any longer.

“Wait,” she says, alarmed. “We can’t go straight to New York!”

Everyone trades looks. It’s Raven who says, slowly, “Clarke, it makes the most sense. We can spend a few nights—”

”No.” Bellamy wonders if he’s the only one who hears the desperate edge in Clarke’s voice. “We need to go to the Maryland show. Even if it’s just the three of us,” she motions between herself, Raven, and Lincoln. “We’ll rent a car, or take a flight—”

“With what money, exactly?” Raven asks dryly, but she looks concerned.

“I don’t know, okay!” Clarke jumps up. “We just—we have to get to Columbia.” She hurries down the aisle and hops outside without another word.

They all look at each other. “Oookay…” Octavia’s eyebrows are jumping off her head. “What was that all about?”

“Beats me,” Raven murmurs. “That’s the first I’ve heard of it.”

Bellamy lasts fifteen seconds, then stands up and goes after her. Clarke is at the back of the bus, trying to light a cigarette with fingers that tremble.

“Thought you quit,” he says, strolling up to her. She ignores him, still trying to light the thing. But her hands shake so badly she drops it and the lighter. Cursing, she kicks the lighter into the distance.

“Want another?” He offers.

“Thought you quit,” she mutters.

He shrugs, leaning against the bus next to her. “Secret stash, you know. For the real shit days.” After a second, he nudges her. “So you want to explain what that was about back there?”

Clarke sighs and slumps. “I just know that if we go up to New York, that’s it. We’ll go from there to Boston and then northwest across the country.”

“And that’s bad because...”

“I won’t get another chance to see the cherry blossoms,” she bursts out.

Everything clicks into place.

Bellamy takes her by the shoulders, turning her to face him. “Jesus, Clarke. Why didn’t you just say that in the first place?”

“I don’t need you doing me any favors out of pity, okay, I’m—”

“Seriously?” He shakes her for good measure. “And you call me insufferable.” Marching back to the bus door, he bellows, “We’re going to Columbia, so work your shit out!”

Clarke stares at him open-mouthed as he returns to her. “There. That was easy,” he says softly. “And it’s not pity,” he continues before she can speak. “You don’t need anyone’s pity, least of all mine, and I wouldn’t give it to you anyways. You’re too strong for that. But,” he cradles her cheek, “I can sympathize. So let me, okay?”

A tear leaks from the corner of her eye as she nods and presses her face into his shirt, winding her arms around him tightly. They stand out there for a long time, just holding each other until Clarke begins to shiver from the cold. On the bus, he pulls her right back into his arms as soon as they’re under the covers, and she doesn’t resist a single bit.

~~~~~~~~~

The sun has barely woken up when Clarke takes Bellamy to D.C. They’d arrived at the Columbia venue the night before to find that neither of their sets would be until the next evening. So, Clarke is determined to use every bit of their morning to her advantage.

Bellamy had looked surprised when she asked him to join, but to her relief, had agreed without hesitation.

Now they’re wedged together on the cramped bus seats, watching the sky lighten during their travel. Her head droops to his shoulder as the bus rattles over the uneven pavement, and he pulls her more firmly against him, resting his cheek atop her hair.

The city’s slowly coming alive when they pull in. Coffee in hand, they fall into step with the early morning commuters. Clarke knows they won’t have time for the Tidal Basin, so she beelines straight to the Washington Monument instead, her fingers wound with Bellamy’s the entire time. When the tall structure nears, she feels a slight tug and turns to find Bellamy stopped in his tracks, staring up in awe. Suddenly she feels selfish for not asking until now.

“You’ve never been here?”

“Just twice,” he says quietly, eyes on the monument. “We passed through once when I was little. And after that, Monty was visiting his grandparents nearby. Never really got to walk around, though.”

So instead of heading straight for the trees as she’d planned, Clarke takes a detour to show him the grounds, and the view of the Lincoln Memorial across the water, smiling as he pauses to read all the little pieces of trivia strewn about. Every few steps, she hears “hmm” followed by, “Hey, did you know…” and while she listens to him excitedly recite the new thing he’s just learned, it occurs to her just how much she adores this boy.

Gradually Bellamy ushers her down the steps, towards the cherry blossom trees that line the grass.

“We can stay here longer,” she tries to tell him.

“Tempting, but,” he grins and kisses her hand gently, “today isn’t for me.”

Hand in hand, they stroll down the path, and she unconsciously tightens her grip and feels him squeeze back, reassuring. It being a weekday morning, there aren’t too many people around, so they take their time walking among the trees, Clarke blinking rapidly and biting the inside of her cheek until she can’t take it any longer and just stops, pressing her forehead to a trunk. Bellamy leaves a hand on her shoulder, thumb stroking lightly. Sniffling, she rubs at her nose and sits down cross-legged, her back against the tree, tugging at his pant leg until he’s seated beside her.

“You know this was one of the first things I ever drew,” she says after a while. “Dad brought me into his studio, handed me a brush, and said, ‘paint what you remember.’ So I did. And then I’d play around on my guitar, and all I wanted was to recapture this feeling in the music, you know? That’s what it’s about.”

Bellamy murmurs his agreement. “You still draw?”

“I never stopped. It’s not as often as I’d like, but it’s something.”

“You designed the tattoo also, right?” he asks softly.

“Yeah. Took me almost a month. I just wanted every detail to be perfect, you know?”

A corner of his mouth lifts crookedly. “You, a perfectionist? I’m shocked.”

She laughs out loud, elbowing him. “Shut up.”

“Have you been coming here every year?”

“I try. The year he died, I couldn’t.” She rubs her shoulder almost absently. “But then I got the tattoo, and I had to come back, you know? Now… it’s not easier, but, it helps.”

He nods, settling back against the tree trunk and pulling her with him. Clarke curls into his side and takes a deep breath, closing her eyes. There’s only the rustling of the breeze, the smell of fresh grass after a rain, and Bellamy’s heartbeat strong and steady under her ear. She’s not sure if she falls asleep or not, but when she opens her eyes all she knows is she feels safe.

When they get to their feet, she brushes herself off and says a silent farewell. Turning, she sees Bellamy reaching for a low-hanging branch. She tugs at his shirt, glancing around.

“Wait, Bell, don’t—you can’t—”

“Relax, no one’s around.” He plucks a pink flower from the branch. To her surprise, he comes over and tucks the blossom behind her ear, then tips her chin up and kisses her soft and sweet.

She’s at a loss for words the entire way back to the bus.

~~~~~~~~~

The pink flower looks at home between her blonde locks, Bellamy thinks that night.

Her band’s up on stage, sweating thanks to the humidity that’s settled over everyone like the worst kind of heavy blanket. The darkened sky has only helped so much, but they still wipe their faces every few seconds despite the dimmed stage lights. This time he’s not standing in the crowd, but at the side of the stage, at Clarke’s request.

After this morning, he’s almost certain he’ll do anything she asks. He’s known that for a while, but—today was different. Today changed something. Clarke is strong, so strong all the time—but today, she accepted his help. She let him in farther than ever, almost seemed to welcome being able to share that part of her life with him, and he won’t take it for granted.

Up on stage, she gives virtually no indication of it, as usual. She sings her heart out, sings the words she’s written herself, the ones she showed him scribbled on diner napkins and scraps of fabric as they came to her.

But near the end of the set, she pauses to take a drink of water, then glances at Raven, who nods. Curious, Bellamy straightens. As Clarke confers with Lincoln, Octavia appears at his elbow.

“Is she okay?”

“I think so. Do you know what they’re talking about?”

“No idea,” she replies. “Thought you’d know.”

He shakes his head. Clarke disappears briefly in the back, then returns with a tall stool and her guitar slung over her back.

“You guys don’t mind if I sit for this one, right?” She grins and takes a seat, adjusting her guitar on her lap. But instead of starting right away, she props her elbows overtop it and looks out at the crowd, contemplative. Bellamy feels the mood shift instantly, the way it tends to in live shows.

“Today was quite a day for me.” Clarke’s voice pulls his attention back to her. “I don’t want to be a downer or anything, but… as a musician, you know, everything has to come from somewhere honest. And I want to be honest with you guys. So, there’s a cover I’d like to do tonight. It, uh,” swallowing, she glances at him briefly, then smiles. “It’s for anyone who’s lost someone. I like to think maybe they’re watching, somehow.”

It’s absurdly quiet until she strums the first few chords, and even then it’s only the guitar and her voice, floating into the air.

”Seems like a dream
Awakened before it was done
How could this be?
I walk alone…”

Bellamy’s heart aches at the raw longing in her voice. Unconsciously, he pulls Octavia close, feeling her arm curl around his back just as tight. Raven takes the next few lines of the verse, her voice raspy and lower than he’s ever heard it.

”But sometimes I picture your hands
Held in my own
My brave face is too late now.”

Then the drums kick in, Clarke’s voice soaring over the melody.

If you could see me now
Would you be pleased and proud?
I'm doing fine
But sometimes I cry
When I see your face.”

Clarke is bent low over her guitar, but her eyes are wide and clear as she sings to the night sky.

”Are there windows in heaven
To see me now
Through all the sky and clouds
Living my life
With a heart full of pride
When I see your face.
Are there windows in heaven?”

The quiet snap of a camera shutter sounds behind him. Bellamy turns, ready to yell, until he sees Jasper’s wet eyes. Silently, the boy points at the crowd.

People have raised their hands, cellphones and lighters glowing brightly, like a makeshift canvas against the inky black night. He hears Octavia’s breath leave her in a rush, just like his own. Clarke’s well into the second chorus by the time he looks back at her, and this time her eyes definitely hold a sheen but she’s smiling at the sight before her.

They take a break before the encore, and Clarke comes off the stage and walks right into his arms without a word, breath shaky against his neck and fingers bunching into his shirt. Bellamy returns her embrace with equal ferocity, whispering against her ear how proud he is of her.

~~~~~~~~~

They take shifts driving through the night to arrive on time for their set on Long Island. Clarke keeps insisting she can drive more, but Bellamy forces her to pull over when her eyelids droop for the second time. Still, she ends up sitting in the front seat, talking to him over his shoulder until finally her silence makes him glance in the mirror to see her curled in a ball, fast asleep.

I love you, he thinks.

She wakes just a few hours later when Wick switches spots with him. Blinking drowsily, she opens her arms. Bellamy smiles.

“I don’t think we’ll both fit on the seat,” he says gently. “Go back to sleep, Clarke.”

Of course, she doesn’t listen, instead getting to her feet and padding behind him to his bunk. And this time it’s her who curls around him, her arm tossed over his waist and her nose brushing the back of his neck. He falls asleep smiling like an idiot.

When they’re getting coffee at the next pit stop, Clarke discovers that he’s never actually been to New York City, and spends the rest of the morning badgering the others to skip the Syracuse set in favor of showing him around. Any protests on his part are quickly shut down by her enthusiasm, and soon she’s got everyone excited about an impromptu day trip.

“You didn’t have to do all that,” he says to her afterwards. She just smiles and kisses his chin.

“And you didn't have to go to Columbia.”

~~~~~~~~~

The Jones Beach Theater is a sight to behold. Clarke stops and stares for a solid two minutes from the top of the seats, gazing at the waves that rush up on shore just behind the huge structure. Even though they won’t actually be performing in the theater, it takes her breath away anyways.

Eventually, Bellamy turns around midway down the steps to grin at her. “You planning to sing from up there?”

Clarke purses her lips. “Now that you mention it…”

“Don’t bother. They won’t let you.” He pouts, making her laugh brightly because of course he’s already tried that. She bounces down the steps and tugs him alongside her, still looking around.

“It’s something, huh?”

“It really is. Now I know why we drove all night.” She sighs wistfully. “Can you imagine? Actually performing up there someday? To... this?” She waves at the seats behind them.

“Honestly, I can’t.” He shakes his head. “Sometimes I can barely believe we’re even on this tour. I’m still getting used to having fans at all.”

Smiling, she kisses his shoulder. “Well something tells me they aren’t going anywhere, so I would definitely get used to it fast.”

Bellamy chuckles and draws her close, leaning down until their lips are inches apart. Even now, after everything, he steals her breath with that smile, the one that makes her feel like they’re the only two people on the planet.

“I could get used to this, too,” he murmurs, sucking gently on her lower lip, and it’s all she can do to hang onto his shoulders and mumble some incoherent agreement in the matter until he finally slots his smiling mouth over hers.

She’s still thinking about it up on Mecha stage later, how far they’ve come since their first meeting—and how much farther she wants to go. Slippery slope, the logical part of her mind warns. It’s quickly and loudly shut up by the rest of her brain, the part that screams grab a fucking sled and slide, dammit, and she grins without realizing it as a song unwittingly pops into her head.

This slope is treacherous
I, I, I like it.

Maybe Taylor Swift has a point after all, she thinks.

~~~~~~~~~

Bellamy watches from what’s become his spot at the corner of the crowd as Clarke introduces her cover for the day. She’s taking a page from the Top 40 book this time with the Swift cover, but when she names the song, he furrows his brow in thought; he hasn’t heard this one repeated on the radio a thousand times.

Her voice starts out soft, just her and the quiet strum of the guitar.

”Put your lips close to mine
As long as they don't touch.
Out of focus, eye to eye
Until the gravity’s too much.”

Her eyes wander the crowd until they find him. A smile tugs at her mouth.

”And I'll do anything you say
If you say it with your hands.”

Well, there’s no helping his likely stupid grin now. Clarke knows it too, the way she shakes her head slightly.

”This slope is treacherous
This path is reckless
This slope is treacherous
And I, I, I like it.”

“She’s happy.”

Wick’s voice startles him. Bellamy’s almost irritated at having his attention pulled from Clarke, but then the other boy continues, “I haven’t seen her like this in months.”

Bellamy looks between him and the girl on stage. “You’ve known her for a while, right?”

“Yeah. Used to work in Crabby Abby’s studio.” The nickname makes them both grin briefly. “It was supposed to be a summer gig, but Clarke and I became real good friends. And I loved the music…” He shrugs. “So when Clarke split, I knew I was going with her.”

“She deserved better than all that shit.”

“She did,” Wick agrees. “Which is why I’m thrilled to see her finally getting it.”

They both look back as everything else quiets, Clarke’s voice rising into the air. Her blue eyes are still trained on him.

“This hope is treacherous
This daydream is dangerous
This hope is treacherous…”

There’s such longing in her voice that his heart threatens to beat right out of his chest. And then she smiles, nearly whispering the last lines into the microphone.

“This slope is treacherous.
And I, I, I like it.”

Bellamy lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

Me too, Clarke. Me too.

~~~~~~~~~

That evening, Clarke takes Bellamy to the city.

For a while they’re all content to walk around, because it turns out most of them have only been here fleetingly, if at all, and so Clarke makes it her job to be their tour guide. She takes special pleasure in showing them all the things she previously discovered on her own, delighting in their excitement and wonder.

Her favorite, though, she saves for dinner. Up on 56th, she drags everyone inside the hole-in-the-wall burger joint, shushing all their protests that the small place is probably overwhelmed. Bellamy sees it first, a surprised laugh rumbling out of his chest. When he yanks the others inside, they go silent. Clarke beams.

The walls are covered in writing—all shapes, sizes and colors. Signatures, of those who’ve been here in the past and wanted to leave something of themselves behind.

“I call the Sopranos poster!” Octavia suddenly yells, racing for a corner. Clarke laughs as the others trail after her, then bites her lip as she realizes they’ve pointedly left her and Bellamy to sit at their own table. Bellamy notices too, his hand slipping into hers.

“Shall we?”

And so they end up sitting under a Ramones poster, with the others jammed into booths along the opposite wall pretending not to watch. After they order, Bellamy looks around again, clearly impressed.

“This is awesome, Clarke. Thanks for bringing us here.”

“Of course. I know it was a hike, but I figured it’d be worth it.” She rests her chin on her hand, glancing over to where Raven’s leaning around Wick to sign right next to Tony Soprano’s scowling face. “It’s also kind of nice, to think that this summer will always exist here, you know?”

Bellamy catches her free hand in his, kissing her palm. “I know.” Eyes glittering, he remarks, “Interesting cover you did today.”

Clarke refuses to blush; too bad her body doesn’t listen. Still, she forces a casual shrug. “It’s a well-written song. I like it.”

He only hums. His fingers are tracing a light pattern on her wrist that makes her toes curl. Swallowing, she changes the subject abruptly.

“So where do you want to sign?”

He grins, letting her off the hook. “I dunno. Whereever there’s space, I guess?” He chuckles at the look on her face. “Alright, what about you? Any thoughts?”

She considers. “Why not right here? It can—it can be our booth.” It comes out in one quick breath before she can tuck the words back into her heart. Bellamy’s radiant grin is well worth it.

“I like the sound of that,” he says, and butterflies rise in her stomach.

“Okay then. But I am not putting our initials in a heart.”

“Thank god.”

Grinning, Clarke looks around at the other signatures. In a moment of inspiration, she grabs a marker from the tray and doodles a little branch with a cherry blossom hanging off the end, adding her initials inside a petal. After a second, she adds a small vine looping around the branch with a sprout of morning glory. Satisfied, she holds the marker out to Bellamy, who looks a bit taken aback at first. Then he leans across the booth and kisses her hard, leaving her to regain her breath while he scribbles his name along the curved line of the vine.

Their food arrives soon after, thank god, because Clarke isn’t sure she can handle the way he’s looking at her for much longer. Biting eagerly into her burger, she makes a face, then picks off the heaping of black olives. When she catches Bellamy eyeing her plate, she grins and pushes it over to him.

“Please,” she motions, “don’t let them go to waste.”

As he pops the olives into his mouth one by one, she makes yet another mental note about him. (The list in her head is pretty fucking long by now, and only growing.)

They’re halfway through their meal when Octavia skips over and announces that she’s “dragging” everyone else to Times Square for a requisite selfie. At Bellamy’s wrinkled nose, his sister smiles a bit too triumphantly.

“You guys don’t have to come,” she declares. “I’m sure Clarke has other spots she wants to take you.” She arches a sleek eyebrow. ”Right?”

Clarke chooses that moment to take a very large bite of her burger, opting for a nod instead and trying not to smile at the obvious set-up. Bellamy is eyeing his sister with barely contained suspicion, but she just kisses both their cheeks before waving the others out the door.

After a moment, Bellamy clears his throat. “Well. I guess I’m all yours.”

The wording isn’t intentional—she thinks—but she flushes all the same.

After paying, they take their time walking through the busy city streets, shoulders brushing with every step. Clarke is more than happy to slow her pace when she sees Bellamy’s head twisting every which way.

It’s only the sight of another familiar face lighting up a sky-high billboard that makes her stop in her tracks.

~~~~~~~~~

It takes a few paces for Bellamy to realize Clarke isn’t next to him anymore. When he turns, she’s standing in the center of the sidewalk, eyes latched onto a billboard up above. He follows her gaze and curses under his breath. Lexa’s face is splashed over the screen that announces her latest single.

He’s by her side in seconds. “Clarke—”

“Sorry. It’s fine,” she tries to brush by him. “Let’s keep going.”

“No,” he says firmly. “Just wait. Here.” Keeping a grasp on her elbow, he brings her to lean against the side of the building. She’s avoiding his gaze, fiddling with her chipped purple nail polish until he sets a light finger under her chin and draws her eyes back to his. “Talk to me, Clarke.”

Clarke lets out a frustrated breath. “There’s nothing to talk about. I told you, it was good and then it wasn’t. That’s all.”

Unlikely. “What changed?”

“I don’t know. It wasn’t just one thing… we were on totally different paths.” She sags a little, her head thunking back against the wall. “I owe her a lot. She showed me the ropes when no one else would. Without her, I’d never have met Anya, or Lincoln. I wouldn’t know the people who’ve helped me get this far.”

“You can stop rationalizing now,” he says dryly, earning a smack to his chest.

“I’m not—”

“You are. You’re allowed to be pissed, you know.”

She rolls her eyes. “Thank you for giving me permission, asshole.”

“See? You’re good at being pissed.” When Clarke’s lips twitch, he takes her hand. “Keep going.”

“There’s nothing much to say. We just had different views of how we wanted to be in this industry. They didn’t mesh very well. And eventually, neither did we.”

When it becomes clear she’s done talking, he just holds her close. “I’m sorry. I mean that.” He feels her nod against his chest, her arm snaking around his back. When they unwind, her face is still drawn. Bellamy realizes he doesn’t want their night to end on this note.

“I want to see Central Park,” he announces suddenly. Clarke’s head snaps up.

“What?”

“Central Park. I can’t leave New York without seeing the park.”

She starts to shake her head. “Bellamy—”

“Claaaarke,” he whines, bouncing on his heels. “You promised to show me around. Who knows when we’ll be back here next? It could be years. Would you leave me hanging like that?”

Clarke assesses him with a hand on her hip, but eventually rolls her eyes and gives in. “Fine. But let’s find alcohol first.” As she brushes by him, she adds, “You’re a bad liar.”

Bellamy grins. Lingering an extra second, he makes a gesture at the billboard before turning to follow—only to find her staring at him with barely contained amusement.

He clears his throat, striding by her. “So, what’re we drinking?”

“Did you just flick off a billboard?”

“What are we drinking?” He repeats.

Clarke laughs and hooks her arm through his. “Your pick.”

They end up atop one of the many little slopes in the park, admiring the city view for maybe a minute before spending the rest of the night making out, and Bellamy decides the view of Clarke rosy-cheeked and laughing in his arms is considerably better than any skyline.

~~~~~~~~~

It’s nearly 90 degrees in Boston. Or so Clarke hears. They’re not actually in the city yet, from what Wick has told her. But the heat—the suffocating, irritating heat—that’s everywhere, even inside this bar they’ve ended up at for the night. And the heat is what made her wear the swishy little black skirt instead of the jeans she’d normally prefer. It’s also what made Bellamy’s eyes bulge comically when she stepped outside the bus earlier that night.

That’s pretty much all she knows. That, and she’s most definitely drunk right now.

If she wasn’t, she wouldn’t keep touching his arm or his knee or the cut of his abs every time his shirt rides up. She wouldn’t keep noticing how fucking handsome he is; how much she wants to rake her hands through his hair and make it a disheveled mess; how she wants to trace the tattoo up his bicep with just her tongue.

Okay, well, she wouldn’t want to do all that in public.

Bellamy seems to be enjoying her state immensely, especially because it’s all his fault.

That, she knows distinctly. Live a little, princess, what’s one more shot?

So maybe she sways her hips a little more than usual when walking across the bar to Monty and Miller, glancing over her shoulder part way to see Bellamy unsuccessfully trying to tear his eyes from her legs. Grinning at her small victory, she gestures to the bartender for two beers while eyeing the setup in the corner where a pair’s in the midst of a Halsey cover.

“Don’t even think about it.” Miller laughs and nudges her. “He’ll never go for it.”

Clarke grins. “Why do you think I’m trying to get him drunk?” She shakes her head. “Bellamy Blake sings in front of hundreds of people, but he refuses to do karaoke. Who’d have thought it.” When Miller and Monty trade a quick glance, she straightens. “Hang on. Have you guys seen him do it?”

Another shared glance, and then Monty ventures in a hushed whisper, “Well there was this one time in Milwaukee…”

Clarke claps her hands excitedly, then pouts as Miller covers Monty’s mouth, hissing, “Dude!”

“Come onnnn,” she pleads, “I swear I won’t tell a soul. Cross my heart and hope to die.”

“You won’t be the one who dies if we say a word about Milwaukee,” Miller replies.

Octavia pops up next to her, grinning wolfishly. “Did I hear something about Milwaukee?” When the boys both find somewhere else to look, she pokes Monty’s shoulder, hard. “You guys! you were going to break the vow?”

“The vow?” Clarke asks.

The younger Blake nods solemnly. “The Unbreakable Vow. Come on, you’ve read Harry Potter, right?”

It takes a second. Then she throws back her head and lets out a peal of laughter, feeling Octavia’s hand on her elbow when she starts to teeter from side to side.

“Your brother,” she gasps, “is king of the nerds.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Octavia says dryly. “I grew up with him.”

“Damn I love him,” she breathes, not noticing how the others grow quiet. She thanks the bartender for their drinks and looks back. “Fine, don’t tell me about Milwaukee. I’ll get it out of him somehow.”

Surprising her, Miller puts a hand on her arm. “Look, how about—” he pauses, scratching his neck, then leans in. “Let’s just say, Dream Street will never be the same.”

Clarke just barely contains her squeal, then kisses his cheek before making her way back to Bellamy with their drinks, still laughing a little as she plops down next to him. He throws an arm around the back of her seat.

“What’s so funny?”

“You,” she declares, and pulls him close by the collar of his shirt for a long kiss. His tongue slips past her lips to explore, like he’d rather get drunk on her instead, and she is more than willing to help. Just as she’s decided it might be time to find a dark corner, she feels a tug on her ponytail.

“You’re singing with us,” Raven announces, and yanks her up from the chair. Hearing the telltale beginning, Clarke groans but lets herself be dragged along. Octavia’s already there.

”Let’s go girls,” she sings, beckoning to them.

Laughing, they jump up beside her as she sasses out the first verse of the Shania Twain number, Raven leading them into the chorus with a wiggle of her hips.

”The best thing about being a woman
Is the prerogative to have a little fun and…”

All three of them belt out the chorus, Clarke doubled over in laughter for half of it thanks to Raven and Octavia’s dancing.

”Oh, oh, oh, go totally crazy, forget I'm a lady
Men's shirts, short skirts
Oh, oh, oh, really go wild yeah, doin' it in style
Oh, oh, oh, get in the action, feel the attraction
Color my hair, do what I dare
Oh, oh, oh, I want to be free yeah, to feel the way I feel
Man! I feel like a woman.”

By the second chorus, Clarke’s dancing right alongside her friends, unable to resist. At the end, Bellamy whistles and hoots with everyone else, a huge grin on his face that makes her simultaneously want to take a shot or take him outside.

Before she can consider either option though, Octavia’s selected another song, their interlocked arms making it clear she’s not going anywhere. When she hears the first chords, she puts her head in her hands.

“I hate you,” she tells the other girl.

“You’re welcome,” she yells back. With a sigh, Clarke lets them predictably thrust the mic at her for the chorus, feeling her face warm with a blush even as she gets into it.

“Waking up
Beside you I’m a loaded gun
I can’t contain this anymore.
I’m all yours I got no control, no control.
Powerless
And I don't care it's obvious
I just can't get enough of you
The pedal's down, my eyes are closed
No control.”

Afterwards, she hops down on slightly shaky legs. Bellamy takes one look at her and asks, “Fries?”

Clarke smiles gratefully. While she consumes her weight in curly fries, Wick and Miller delight everyone with a horribly off-key version of We Are the Champions that leaves her doubled over in hysterics, and even Bellamy’s laughter rings off the walls louder than the music.

~~~~~~~~~

Drunk Clarke is quickly becoming his favorite kind of Clarke. Not that he could pick just one—Bellamy is stupidly in love with every single facet of this girl.

Not to mention he’s had to watch her move around in that tiny scrap of a skirt all night, and the fact that he hasn’t cornered her yet is kind of a miracle. Even after the fries she’s swaying a bit, so he pulls up an extra chair and motions for her to take it. Partway there, she reverses course and tumbles into his lap instead, winding her arms around his neck as he braces her with one hand on her back and the other on her bare thigh.

“Hello,” she laughs.

He can’t help but smirk. “Having fun, princess?”

She snuggles closer until he can feel her lips move against his neck when she says, “Best summer ever.”

“I second that,” he murmurs. Her fingers toy almost distractedly with the curls at his neck. For a second, all he can think of is the last time they were deep in his hair, holding his face between her legs as she shuddered above him. It’s been too long. That second is all it takes for Clarke to notice his lap is considerably different, and when she shifts purposefully and glances up at him through her lashes, he knows there’s no way they’re making it back to the bus.

Inches from his lips, she whispers, “If you refuse to do karaoke, you may as well put that mouth to better use.”

The words shoot straight to his groin, as intended. Bellamy stares, feeling a wild grin curl his lips. “As you wish.”

~~~~~~~~~

Everything’s too bright.

Clarke grunts and pulls the covers over her head, pressing her face against the pillow. Dark is good. Dark is quiet. How much did she drink last night?

“Fuck you, Bellamy,” she groans.

“Do you not want this bagel then?”

She whips around so fast her entire body protests, loudest of all her skull. Bellamy stands by the bunk, holding a carryout container with two steaming cups. Clutching her head, she smashes her face into the covers once more. The bunk dips a little as he pulls himself up. But she still doesn’t move. Just the sight of him has brought back reminders of the night before.

She knocks her head back against the brick for what has to be the tenth time in under two minutes, her fingers buried in the thick black of Bellamy’s curls as he licks into her. His arms hold her open, tongue swiping relentlessly against her folds as her moans grow louder, lost among the music echoing from inside the bar.

Clarke feels her whole body heat with a blush. Chancing a look down, she sees Bellamy’s Star Wars t-shirt falling to mid-thigh. She squeezes her legs together, belatedly realizing her underwear’s gone too.

He tosses one leg over his shoulder, nibbling the inside of her thigh as he hooks the purple panties over her ankle and shoves them in his back pocket. His mouth is back on her in seconds, greedy. When she keens and curls over him, he barely lets her come down from the high before standing and hoisting her into his arms.

Eventually the smell of the coffee becomes too enticing to ignore. Clarke pushes the covers away, then carefully cracks her eyes open, shielding them with her palm. Bellamy’s sitting beside her, munching on an everything bagel. There are light scrapes on the knuckles of his left hand.

She locks her legs around his waist as he drives into her, his gasps harsh against her neck. Trapped between Bellamy’s body and the scratchy brick, she she finds herself close to the edge again all too soon. Her head falls back to knock against the wall and meets the hand he’s placed there instead.

Bellamy hands over her coffee and points to the remaining bagel. “They didn’t have cinnamon raisin, so I got cranberry.”

She smiles and takes long gulps of her coffee, leaning back with a sigh and closing her eyes again.

“So where to today?” She asks gradually.

He grins. “Ever been to Fenway Park?”

~~~~~~~~~

In Pittsburgh, Bellamy opens his eyes to a wild jumble of blond curls strewn across his pillow. Smiling, he takes in the sight of Clarke sleeping next to him, like she has been for the past few weeks. In his mind, that’s a victory if there ever was one.

He knows she’s still scared. Hell, so is he. This thing they’re doing, whatever it is, he already knows he doesn’t want it with anyone else, now or ever. He wonders if it’s possible that she might feel the same. If not now, then some day.

He’ll wait.

She shifts a little, wrinkling her nose in her sleep, and he’s again struck by how much he wants her — not just her body, though that’s a masterpiece in itself. Just her. He’s head over heels, and he wants her to know.

Bellamy nudges aside the covers, lips slowly trailing down her spine. His eyes catch on the design that covers her right side, the twisting branches of cherry blossoms that eventually curl over her shoulder. This is the first real chance he’s had to see the finished product up close—to explore it as thoroughly and lazily as he wants. So he does, his lips caressing the petals from her shoulder blade down to the branches that droop just above the dimples in her spine.

Clarke’s breathing shifts midway through his careful exploration, and when he glances up, he sees a corner of her mouth has lifted upwards even though her eyes are still closed.

“How many visits did this take?” He asks softly.

“Three,” she murmurs. “Four, counting the follow-up.”

“Were you alone?”

It’s a minute before she answers. “Yeah. I needed to be.”

He nods in understanding. Stretching out beside her again, he curls an arm around her stomach, fingers lightly grazing the undersides of her breasts. Clarke shifts, her head tilting back and exposing her neck to his wandering lips. Then she presses against him, wiggling her backside enticingly against his hard length. His mouth stutters along her neck, breath catching in a harsh gasp. She giggles, clearly pleased, and runs her toes up his bare calf.

Just for that, he sucks a little harder on the skin behind her ear, determined to leave some obvious proof behind. His fingers strum over her beaded nipples, mouth curving in satisfaction when she arches into his touch with a low whimper. Now she moves with a purpose, grinding back against him in an attempt to speed up his current languid pace. Chuckling, he lets his hand trail down her front, teeth still toying with her earlobe, until she swears.

“Bellamy, come on—”

He slips a finger between her legs and finds her slick and warm, and he can’t quite help his possessive flash of pride, because yeah, that’s all for him.

“Of course it’s for you, idiot,” Clarke grabs the pillow on a gasp as he crooks his fingers inside her. “Now hurry up.”

“You just love ordering me around,” Bellamy mutters, fumbling for a condom.

“Shut up and get back here.”

He grins and fits himself against her once more, lifting her leg overtop his to sink inside her warmth. Their soft groans mingle in the air. Half of Clarke’s face is pressed into the pillow, one hand twisted into the sheets and the other into his hair. He’s helpless to do much but pant against her neck and snap his hips into hers over and over, determined to drive her over the edge first.

Bellamy knows Clarke well now, knows what every gasp and whine means, so when he feels her jerk uncontrollably against him and moan into the pillow, he slides his hand up her ribcage to cup her breasts, wrapping his other arm around her from underneath. Completely ensconced in his arms, she begins to shudder his name over and over, coming with a sharp cry that pulls him over the edge with her.

They eat breakfast in bed, Clarke’s hair tumbling over her bare shoulders as she munches on her sausage and egg sandwich and teases him endlessly about the rows of screaming girls at his last show. “They’d be your groupies if you let them,” she laughs. Sun streams in through the window behind her, highlighting her golden locks and making her eyes sparkle even more. Bellamy can’t help but stare dumbly at the view in front of him.

“Hellooo!” Clarke waves a hand in front of his face. “Where’d you go?”

Suddenly sheepish and defensive, he blurts, “Just thinking about all the potential groupies.”

Clarke’s eyes narrow to slits. Slowly, she wraps her sandwich up and sets it aside. Bellamy gulps. Before he can explain it was a joke, she’s curled her arms around his shoulders and crushed their lips in a kiss so hard he can barely see straight afterwards. She doesn’t stop there, just sets her lips and teeth—mostly teeth—to his jaw, his shoulder, his chest with an intensity that surprises him.

He doesn’t realize what’s happening until her lips fasten to his neck, most definitely leaving a hickey in plain sight, and—oh.

Giddy, Bellamy yanks her up for another kiss, grinning foolishly as he reverses their positions to hover over her.

“Marking your territory, princess?”

A gorgeous blush covers her cheeks. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Now who's a bad liar?” He kisses her again, deep and affectionate, until she wraps her long legs around him with a singular purpose, and he lets himself get lost in her once more.

Later, in what’s become their routine of late, Bellamy finds her at the edge of the crowd during his set. Her long hair is braided and coiled atop her head. From here, it looks like a crown.

A song leaps into his mind. Impulsively—and so he won’t overthink it—he decides to include it in the set. He gives the others a heads up before announcing it, watching Clarke’s eyes widen and the beautiful smile that graces her features when he begins to sing.

~~~~~~~~~

Clarke stays well to the side of the audience, avoiding as many of the crowd-surfers as possible. Wick stands behind her, Raven to her right. She smirks to herself as she hears a few complaints about the blatant hickey on Bellamy’s neck that he absolutely refused to cover up.

“I’m guessing that was your work?” Raven’s sly whisper makes her jump and flush. Her friend grins wickedly. “Nice.”

She shoves her goodnaturedly. Glancing back at the stage, she finds Bellamy’s gaze locked on her. An adoring smile spreads across his face, and she finds herself returning it.

Then he motions to his bandmates, and says into the mic, “Decided to do a cover, if you guys don’t mind. It’s a bit spontaneous so don’t hate us too much if we fuck it up.”

Clarke shakes her head as he grins rakishly, likely driving every single person wild. And then the song begins. The second she hears the opening chords, and the accompanying Oh oh oh, oh-oh oh ohhh, her jaw drops. Bellamy looks directly at her.

“Well me plus you
Is greater than or equal to
The sum of every love we knew
Back when we were young.”

She’s rooted to the spot, trying not to break into uncontrollable giggles. Bellamy’s grin widens.

”And if we multiply
I hope to God they get your eyes...”

He winks, and Clarke blushes furiously, not even hearing the next two lines. The music soars as they launch into the first chorus.

"And we can dance off time
To songs I make up for you
Cause every word I write, chord I strike
Is for you, oh it's to you.”

Clarke shakes her head as he wiggles his eyebrows mischievously. Insufferable, she mouths. In reply, Bellamy blows her a kiss.

Raven leans over. “If it weren’t for that hickey, there might be several girls on that stage right now. I’m just saying.”

Clarke laughs. “I doubt a hickey would stop them.”

“Trust me. Your message has been received loud and clear.”

The crowd claps along to the beat of the second verse as Bellamy shakes curls from his eyes and leans into the mic again, eyes on her.

”And when the church bells ring...”

”And my queen is crowned,” the others chorus.

”Well I could be your king
Just like when we were young.”

Octavia jumps in on the second chorus, her voice harmonizing with Bellamy’s by nature. Clarke finds herself laughing and letting Raven pull her into a goofy dance of shaking limbs. It’s the last line of the bridge that finally makes her pause.

”Yeah, you unlocked this heart of mine.”

All the instruments quiet save for Bellamy’s voice, low and kind.

"And we can dance off time
To songs I make up for you.”

The way he pauses, it almost sounds like a question. Which is why Clarke finds herself singing the next words with him under her breath.

”Cause every word I write, chord I strike
Is for you.”

A dazzling grin spreads across Bellamy’s features.

They launch into the last chorus with gusto, sounding much louder than just five people. Bellamy’s the most lively one of them all, and Clarke can't help but grin as she watches him, because she knows why.

I love you.

~~~~~~~~~~

On a warm summer night in Cincinnati, Bellamy sits against the back of the locked bus, sullenly staring at the sunset while nursing a busted lip and a bruised ego. Clarke watches him a moment longer, annoyed at how he can look like a hurt puppy and a complete dumbass all at once, then resumes walking towards him with the wet rag and ice pack she took from the bar manager.

He stiffens at her footsteps, but doesn’t meet her eyes, not even when she kneels in front of him.

“Don’t be stupid,” she says, and puts the pack to his cheek, pushing his hand over it. He holds it in place, but his gaze remains stubborn. She sighs. “Jasper’s going to have enough of a heart attack as it is when he sees you. What the hell happened?”

A tightening of his jaw is all she gets in reply, followed by a wince when it pains him. Clarke frowns. She’d only been apart from him a few minutes, chatting with Monty at the bar when the commotion occurred. Before she knew it, fists were flying and his mop of curly hair was in the center of it all before Miller and Lincoln hauled him outside.

“I thought by now you'd know punches won't stop people talking about Octavia,” she scolds. “You can't protect her forever, as much as—”

“They weren't talking about O,” he interrupts gruffly. Clarke blinks, not understanding. Bellamy sighs and adjusts the cold pack over his lip. “It wasn't O,” he repeats, not meeting her gaze.

Finally she gets it.

“Me?” She asks in disbelief. “You got into a fight over me?”

No answer. Clarke shifts closer, tipping his chin up lightly. He looks defiant as ever, even with the bruise beginning to color his jawline.

“So now you need to defend my honor?” She jokes weakly. When he remains silent, she puts a hand on his knee. “Look, I love you, but that's not necessary.”

Bellamy's eyes widen. A second later, Clarke realizes her slip. But she doesn't backtrack. More importantly, she doesn't want to.

Finally he says, “Well I love you, so you'll have to get used to it.”

Clarke glares at him despite the joy bursting through her heart. “What, are you planning to track down every idiot who might have a negative opinion of me? Your knuckles would be sore in the first mile alone. And then what use will you be to your band?”

She lifts his hand to her mouth, lips soothing over red skin. Bellamy’s jaw hangs slightly open, eyes wide and unblinking as if she might disappear in the next second.

“Does this hurt?” She asks, voice soft.

He shakes his head mutely.

She leans in and brushes her lips across his cheek. “How about this?”

“No,” he says hoarsely.

Clarke kisses a corner of his mouth, then rises, only to sink into his lap. For once, it’s not sexual at all. They both keep their clothes on and she sits there and wipes the grime and blood from his face with the cloth, singing softly under her breath all the while. Eventually Bellamy just leans forward and lays his cheek on her chest, right above her heart, and folds his arms around her. She returns the embrace with a sigh, carding her fingers through his wild curls and softly pressing her lips to his temple.

~~~~~~~~~~

The final set of their tour arrives on a hot summer afternoon in Indianapolis.

On the day before, Clarke wakes to the sight of Bellamy staring contemplatively at the ceiling, hands linked behind his head. Shifting onto her elbow, she smiles sleepily when he looks over.

“You’re thinking far too hard,” she murmurs, leaning in for a kiss.

“So distract me,” he grins against her lips, a hand winding into her hair as he pulls her fully atop him. Happily, she does just that, locking her arms around his neck and kissing him for all she’s worth until his mouth is red and and properly swollen to her satisfaction.

“Much better,” she mumbles, moving on to his neck.

The laugh vibrates in his throat. “Trying to give me another glorious hickey?”

“Just remember, you called it glorious, not me.”

“Because it was.” Bellamy draws her back up for another long kiss, but the thoughtful look is back in his eyes when they part.

With a sigh, she laces her fingers atop his chest and looks at him expectantly. “What is it?”

Bellamy looks at her for a long time, a hand caressing her cheek almost absently. She leans into his touch, turning her lips to his palm and waiting for him to organize his thoughts.

“Sing with me,” he finally whispers. Clarke’s heart falters, then starts up double time. Speechless, she can only stare. Bellamy smiles. “Sing with me tomorrow,” he repeats, stronger. “Bring your band. We’ll do a joint set. Finish the tour with a bang.” He searches her eyes hopefully. “What do you say, Clarke?”

She feels herself begin to smile even before she can form the words—but that’s the only answer either of them need.

~~~~~~~~~~

Bellamy looks out at the crowd and takes a deep breath. This is it.

He knows he’s ready to lay it all on the line with their final set, and he’s chosen his songs with that in mind.

God, he hopes he doesn’t send Clarke running.

After relaying the news to the others, he and Clarke had hashed out their choice of covers over coffee, and he had to admit his heart skipped several beats at some of her suggestions. Their bandmates had ideas too, and so over the course of the day they’d all worked out a new set list for their final show.

But there’s one song he’s planning to cover before she joins him onstage—it’s been lingering for a while now in the back of his mind, only to be constantly shot down at the last second when he chickens out.

Today, though, he’s determined to see it through.

Right before the song begins, he finds Clarke waiting at the edge of the stage, rocking on her toes as she chats with Raven. One hand is curled around the strap of the guitar slung over her back. Then she turns to face him again, mouth quirking upwards when he can’t stop staring.

I love you, Bellamy thinks. Please don’t run.

He watches her brow knit together as the song starts, already trying to place it. It’s not recent at all; he kind of likes it more because of that.

“Wandering the streets, in a world underneath it all.
Nothing seems to be, nothing tastes as sweet
As what I can't have
Like you and the way that you're twisting your hair
round your finger.”

Clarke stills with a blonde curl wrapped around her finger, lips parting in a silent breath. He smiles.

“Tonight I'm not afraid to tell you
What I feel about you.

I'm gonna muster every ounce of confidence I have
and cannonball into the water.
I'm gonna muster every ounce of confidence I have.”

He catches her eyes, promising the words silently even as he sings them aloud.

“For you, I will.
For you I will.”

She stares back at him as Monty and Miller take over the next two verses.

”Forgive me if I st-stutter
From all of the clutter in my head.
Cause I could fall asleep in those eyes
Like a water bed.”

Bellamy mouths the last two lines silently to Clarke. He wants to see those blue eyes for the rest of his life. He knows how they flash when she’s angry, how they darken when she’s turned on, how they lose focus when she’s thinking too hard, how they shine when she’s thrilled, how they smile at him before she’s even fully awake.

“No more camouflage
I want to be exposed, and not be afraid to fall.”

He lets the others sing the chorus, occasionally joining in but letting his guitar do most of the work, turning his attention to the crowd for a minute. When the bridge arrives, his guitar is the only one that continues playing. He finds Clarke again.

“If I could dim the lights in the mall
And create a mood, yeah, I would
Shout out your name so it echoes in every room, yeahhh.
That's what I'd do.”

The emotions hurtle across Clarke’s face too fast for him to keep track, so he keeps singing.

“That's what I'd do,
To get through to you, yeahh.”

The others join in with him for the final chorus, their voices nearly drowning out the instruments with their volume. Clarke’s eyes close midway through, and his voice cracks on the last two repetitions, unsure of what to make of it. But she still sways a little bit to the melody, so Bellamy pours all he has into the last lines, making sure she hears him.

“For you, I will
For you I will.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Clarke can barely breathe. At first she wonders if she’s having a panic attack, the way her chest knots and her ears ring. She knows exactly what Bellamy is doing—she just hadn’t expected it, here, before their set, right in front of everyone.

But then again, it’s not really in front of everyone. The words are just for her, genuine as always, even if he is doing it from up on stage.

So she closes her eyes and listens to his voice, listens to what he’s telling her, and feels her whole body, mind, and soul, give in.

For you I will.

~~~~~~~~~~

He doesn’t know what to make of Clarke’s expression as he invites her band onstage. The crowd is going wild, but at the moment they’re just background noise. All he can do is take in Clarke’s smile as she comes to stand beside him, the slight shake of her hands as she swings her guitar around to her front. She smiles at their audience and busies herself with tuning up, giving her band time to settle in.

Closing a hand over the mic, Bellamy leans down. “You still okay with doing this?”

Clarke squares her shoulders and looks up, almost defiant. “Yeah. I want to.” The way it sounds, she may as well have said, I need to.

So he doesn’t question her, just nods and turns to the others, letting them know to ready for the first song. It’s not his usual genre, to be honest, and not really Clarke’s, either, but Octavia had suggested it almost slyly earlier that morning with a pointed remark about art mimicking life or something.

And despite knowing it was exactly what she’d intended, he couldn’t help but look up the lyrics on his phone, his breath catching at the thought of singing them aloud. To Clarke.

And now he’s about to do just that. He’s either completely fucked or… completely fucked.

~~~~~~~~~~

Clarke isn’t ready for this at all. Which is the exact reason she pushes herself to do it.

She thought she'd prepared herself for what would likely be a hard song to get through, if their rushed rehearsal was any indication. And then Bellamy’s cover had completely taken the wind out of her sails, brought her right back to the core of emotions that she couldn’t ignore.

She doesn’t want to ignore them anymore.

The first chords sound out, and Bellamy is beside her again, the same determination in his eyes as earlier.

“The day I first met you
You told me you'd never fall in love.”

She smiles a little ruefully, thinking of their first meeting. His voice continues, soaring right into her heart.

”But now that I get you,
I know fear is what it really was.”

Damn you, O. She takes a deep breath and steps close to the mic.

”Now here we are,
So close yet so far.”

Bellamy leans in before she can step back, eyes trained directly on her.

“Haven't I passed the test?
When will you realize,
Baby, I'm not like the rest?”

Clarke can’t break his gaze as the others take over the chorus. Everything else fades, and for a moment it’s just the two of them, back on the bus in their bubble. Bellamy doesn’t look away, his features softening as he reads her like an open book. Gently, he lifts a hand to tuck her hair behind her ear.

“So let me give your heart a break, give your heart a break
Let me give your heart a break, your heart a break.”

Taking a shaky breath, Clarke steps away with the pretense of getting water, trying to compose herself. Bellamy’s voice cuts back in as she tries to cap the bottle again, her hands trembling.

“The world is ours. If we want it,
We can take it, if you just take my hand.
There's no turning back now.
Baby, try to understand.”

The yearning in his voice so mirrors her own that she has to turn around. Bellamy’s still strumming his guitar, but he watches her while the girls sing the chorus. She walks back to him, seeing the question—and naked fear—in his eyes.

“Let me give your heart a break, your heart a break
There's just so much you can take
Give your heart a break.”

That’s all she wants, isn’t it? To just give in, and know someone’s there to catch her? There’s no question that she’s hopelessly head over heels for him, and he’s told her many times—through action, through words, through song—that he’s not going anywhere.

She wants to believe. In him, in herself, in them.

So she offers him the most hopeful smile she can, trying to silently convey her thoughts. She’s not sure if he gets it, but his eyes remain on her as he continues to sing.

”Cause you've been hurt before
I can see it in your eyes
You try to smile it away, some things you can't disguise
Don't wanna break your heart
Baby, I can ease the ache, the ache…”

Before he can launch into the chorus, Clarke bumps his hip and puts a hand on his shoulder, rising to her tiptoes to sing into the mic.

“So let me give your heart a break, give your heart a break
Let me give your heart a break, your heart a break
There's just so much you can take
Give your heart a break
Let me give your heart a break, your heart a break.”

Bellamy’s looking at her even as he takes over again for the last two lines, making them sound like more of a question than anything else.

“The day I first met you
You told me you'd never fall in love.”

Clarke smiles up at him in answer, delighting in the gradual realization that takes over his face.

Boy, was I wrong.

~~~~~~~~~~

Bellamy is on Cloud Fucking Nine.

Clarke’s still looking at him in that perfect way as they ready for the next song, Miller entertaining the crowd with the tale of his and Monty’s first kiss. Bellamy’s barely listening; he’s heard it before anyways. Clarke still smiles. Those blue eyes, once rattled and uncertain, are now full of trust. And, possibly, mischief.

“You look a little pale,” she murmurs. “Reconsidering that cover already?”

He breaks out into a grin and nearly kisses her on the spot. “Not a chance,” he tells her, and she grins back, elated.

Behind them, Raven lets out a loud whoop into the mic, then announces, “We’ve got a few more covers for you guys, so I better see your asses surfing to the front starting now!”

Bellamy laughs as the kids hurry to do just that, the drums starting a steady rhythm behind them. He and Clarke join in with their guitars soon after, trading a smile as the front row lets out a shriek when they recognize the All-American Rejects song. With a wink that makes his heart flutter, Clarke leans in.

“You don't have to move, you don't have to speak.”

He leans in also, not giving her space to back away. “Lips for biting.”

Clarke’s eyes widen as he moves in teasingly, then backs off just inches from her lips. She sticks out her tongue ever so briefly.

“You're staring me down, a glance makes me weak.”

“Eyes for striking,” he echoes.

Clarke nudges him to the side as the tempo picks up, and he grins at the pink tone that’s rising rapidly up her neck.

“Now I'm twisting up when I'm twisted with you
brush so lightly
and time trickles down, and I'm breathing for two
squeeze so tightly.”

Before she can move, he slings his guitar to his back and wraps his arms around her to hold the mic, singing over her shoulder and directly into her ear.

“I'll be fine, you'll be fine.
This moment seems so long
Don't waste now, precious time
we'll dance inside the song.”

He steps back again, leaving her to play and sing as the others quiet as well. Her voice is low, almost husky.

“What makes the one to shake you down?
Each touch belongs to each new sound.”

Her gaze flickers to him, cheeks flushed and beautiful.

”Say now you want to shake me too
Move down to me, slip into you.”

Bellamy takes over, noting with glee that she doesn’t move away.

”She sinks in my mind as she sheds through her skin
touch sight tastes like fire
hands do now what eyes no longer defend…”

Clarke puts her face right up against his, on her tiptoes.

”Hands to fuel desire.”

Grinning, he croons to her, “I'll be fine, you'll be fine.
This moment seems so long.”

Clarke is fully facing him now, singing to him.

“Don't waste now, precious time
we'll dance inside the song.”

She tilts her head playfully, as if to say, come on. Then she pushes her guitar behind her back and steps close, singing with him into the mic.

”What makes the one to shake you down?
Each touch belongs to each new sound
Say now you want to shake me too
Move down to me, slip into you.”

They take a breath during the bridge before launching back into the last chorus with the others, but at this point Bellamy can’t even be sure he’s singing the right words, just knows that he’s madly in love with the girl beside him, and she madly loves him too.

~~~~~~~~~~

Between Bellamy’s joy and the adrenaline rushing through her veins, Clarke can’t stop smiling.

She gladly lets the others take the stage front and center for another cover while she retreats—this time because she actually does need the water, and also because Bellamy’s closeness is making her limbs all jittery. As expected, he follows her to the back, his gaze equal parts thrilled and ecstatic.

Wordlessly, she hands over the bottle of water, fiddling with her guitar and generally feeling more shy than she has in a long time until Bellamy steps forward and puts both arms around her, drawing her close for a swift but fierce hug.

“I love you,” he breathes, like the words just wouldn’t stay in any longer.

Smiling, Clarke clutches him tighter and whispers the words into his shoulder. Before she can say them properly though, he’s grabbed her hand and tugged her back to sing the final chorus with the others. Octavia’s sticks are practically flying over the drums, the beat pulsing into the entirety of the stage as their guitars add to the chorus.

”They left us alone,
The kids in the dark,
To burn out forever,
Or light up a spark.
We come together,
State of the art.
We'll never surrender,
The kids in the dark."

Clarke skips over to Octavia, only the girls’ voices ringing into the air.

”So let the world sing,
"What a shame,”

”What a shame,” the boys echo.

”Beautiful scars
On critical veins,
We come together,
State of the art,
We'll never surrender,
The kids in the dark,
The kids in the dark.”

Their instruments blast out the final notes, the lights scattering wildly over their heads as the song finishes. Bellamy nods to her to introduce the final cover, hopping down to help Raven bring the keyboard onstage. Then he’s beside her again, in what she’s started to think of as ‘his spot’, that familiar presence right by her elbow, brushing just gently enough that she knows he’s there if she needs him—and he’s not going anywhere. It’s incredibly real and incredibly right.

He’d let her pick the final song, not even flinching when, hours after poring over her phone, she named a song by a boyband. The lyrics had called to her, and when she watched him read them on her phone his whole demeanor had shifted to the point that she knew it was the right choice.

So now, Clarke decides this moment is as much for them as it is for their audience. There’s no music at first, just each of them singing to each other. Looking up at Bellamy, she smiles.

”Say my name, like it's the last time.”

His eyes crinkle. ”Live, today, like its your last night.”

”We want to cry but we know it's alright,” Miller sings. Behind him, Monty moves up to set a hand on his shoulder.

”Cause I'm with you, and you’re with me.”

As the first strains of music begin, Octavia’s voice floats across the stage.

”Butterflies, butterflies… we were meant to fly,
You and I, you and I… colors in the sky
We could rule the world someday, somehow
But we'll never be as bright as we are now.”

Raven’s keyboard leads them in, each and every one of them adding their voice to the chorus. The crowd in front of her is dancing, their arms thrown up and faces opened in sheer joy. For a few minute, they're not strangers from all around the country. They're united in this moment, a shared love.

Clarke circles over to Raven, who continues the next verse.

“Promise me you'll stay the way you are,
Keep the fire alive,
And stay young at heart.”

She wraps both arms around her friend's shoulders and kisses her cheek, singing into the mic with her.

”When the storm feels like it could blow you out remember,
You got me and I got you.”

As Octavia takes over the lead, Clarke heads back to Bellamy. They sing the chorus together, just the two of them.

”We're standing in a light that won't fade,
Tomorrow's coming but this won't change,
Cause some days stay gold forever.”

Clarke looks around at her friends, then at Bellamy. Her friend, her love, her partner.

”The memory of being here with you,
Is one I'm gonna take my life through,
Cause some days stay gold forever.”

They all keep the last chorus going as long as they can, unwilling to let the set end just yet. The audience knows it, and they cheer them on, singing out several lines on their own when she and Bellamy hold out their mics to them. Looking over at him, she sees the delight that mirrors her own, the feeling of wonder that’s coursing through her own veins as they listen to near a hundred people sing the words back to them.

”We're standing in a light that won't fade,
Tomorrow's coming but this won't change,
Cause some days stay gold forever.”

Finally, inevitably, the song comes to an end, and the set is done. But instead of sadness, all Clarke feels is hope. As they take their bows, she’s unable to tear her eyes from the boy beside her.

Bellamy notices, his arm tightening over her shoulder. “You okay?”

Clarke smiles as wide as she can muster. “I love you,” she says, and curls a hand around his neck, pulling his mouth down to hers. She vaguely registers the shrieks of the crowd, and the whoop that might be Raven or Octavia, but then Bellamy smiles against her lips and slides his arms around her waist, lifting her off her feet, and everything else fades.

“Well now you've done it,” he teases, still holding her aloft. “Everyone's gonna be talking.”

“So let them. As long as they remember you're all mine.”

Bellamy laughs and rests his forehead against hers. “Careful, I might get used to that.”

“I'm counting on it.” Clarke kisses him again, feeling her toes return to solid ground. “So now what?” She asks, a bit breathless.

Bellamy’s exuberant grin sends her heart into overdrive. “Whatever the hell we want, Clarke. Whatever we want.”

She laughs and squeezes her arms around him, laying her head on his shoulder as they turn back to the crowd. Ever the showman, Bellamy dips her seconds later for another kiss, his arms tight about her waist and her clinging to his shoulders until he pulls her upright again with a reckless grin, eyes alight.

“Diva,” she yells, poking his side.

“Takes one to know one.” He winks and hugs her close. “No backing out now.”

No, definitely not. Clarke isn’t going back at all—never again. Only forward.

And she'll do it with Bellamy by her side.