The 100 fic: Worn Around the Edges
Bellamy tries to be the friend that Clarke needs while she deals with what happened in The City of Light even if it tears apart his heart.
3013 words | rating: PG
“So,” Bellamy says, leaning on the wall next to Clarke. It’s late; everyone not on watch is asleep. Of course Clarke is up. He’s not sure she sleeps anymore. Day or night, whenever he’s on patrol, she’s wandering around.
“So.” She pushes her hands into the pockets of her jacket. He hadn’t noticed her trading in her Grounder leathers for standard Ark attire. Hadn’t realized how much he missed the familiar look until now.
He mimics her pose—hands in his jacket pockets. She lets out a soft sigh; he’s not sure if it’s just relieving stress or from agitation. He sighs in return. She leans her head back against the cool metal; he leans his head back. Finally she looks up at him, eyes narrowed.
“What?” He shrugs. They stare until Clarke relents with a roll of her eyes. Bellamy chuckles and bumps her shoulder. “You okay? You’ve been out here for a while.”
“Have you been following me?”
“No, I just happen to notice you when I’m on patrol.” That’s half a truth. He doesn’t tell her that he actively looks for her while on patrol even if he isn’t actually following her.
She looks away. “I’m fine.”
“’Cause you don’t look fine.”
“Well, I am.” There’s no fight in her words, though. She sounds as defeated as she looks. Like the weight of the world’s become too much to bear. He wishes she’d let him bear some of it for her, but that’s not Clarke.
They’re quiet for a while, just staring up at the stars, their breath puffing from their mouths. Bellamy glances down at Clarke. Her hair is still braided and matted, but it looks like she made an effort to straighten it out. She’s lost the hard edges she sculpted in Polis. Gone is Wanheda. He thinks that might actually be a problem. He’s watched her transform from this seventeen-year-old bossy know-it-all to a confident, although bossy, leader of a bunch of delinquents to the larger-than-life, Grounder commander. Now the Grounder part of her is disappearing. What if that’s the part that’s been giving her all the strength?
She lets out a long breath, her eyes fluttering closed.
“You ready to talk about it yet?” he asks cautiously. “Because I think you need to talk about it. If not with me then with your mom or Raven. Someone.”
“I’m fine,” she murmurs.
“Clarke, you’re not fine. I know you’re not because any time anyone brings up the City of Light, you change the subject.”
She tenses at the name, and for a second he thinks she might bolt, but then her shoulders slump. “I just don’t want to talk about it.”
“Maybe I can help. Sometimes just saying it out loud can make you feel better.”
“Bellamy, I really don’t want to talk about it. It’s complicated and confusing and-”
“So Lexa was there.”
She startles at his blunt statement, her eyes wide and glistening. He doesn’t want her to cry. God, he hates it when she cries. She looks away, confirming his suspicion.
He shifts his weight, curling his toes inside his boots to relieve the urge to run. This conversation is already awkward as hell, and he knows continuing it will only make things worse, but he can’t stop—it needs to be done. “Is that why you don’t want to talk to me about it? Because of Lexa?”
She swallows hard. “I don’t want to hurt you, Bellamy.”
He chuckles. “I’m a big boy, Clarke. I can handle listening to you talk about your girlfriend.” It’s the closest either of them have come to acknowledging his pretty obvious feelings for her. It’s the truth, though—he’s adult enough to just be her friend if that’s what she needs. Even if it hurts.
“You hated Lexa.” Her voice is so small he can barely hear her.
He shakes his head. “I never hated Lexa. I didn’t trust her, but I didn’t hate her.”
“She was just trying to protect her people.”
“I get that. But-” He licks his lips. He doesn’t want to hurt her. That’s probably impossible in her current state.
“But?” she prods, turning to face him.
“She betrayed us. She left me in that mountain to die after I risked my life saving her people. So you can see why I’m a little bitter.” Her brow furrows, so he pushes on. “We would have never done that. You would have never done that. You would have fought until every person was out safe. And maybe if she’d stuck by us things wouldn’t have ended the way they did.” He looks away. He didn’t mean to unload on her, especially when she’s grieving, but that’s been building for awhile. He bites down on his lip to keep from saying anything else.
He tries to ignore the soft sniffles, but they tear at his heart like razor blades. He presses his fingers to the bridge of his nose. “I’m sorry,” he says softly. “I shouldn’t have said that. Not now.”
“But that’s how you feel.”
He can’t look at her. “But it’s not about me right now. This is about you. And Lexa was important to you.” He doesn’t know what else to say. He’s pretty sure she’s not going to talk to him about it now.
“I never meant to hurt you, Bellamy.”
“I know. You did what you needed to do.”
They stare at each other for what seems like an eternity to Bellamy. Clarke finally looks away, her eyes shifting to the ground between them as one tear after another drips down her cheeks. His heart collapses in on itself. If it was any other time, he’d probably pull her into a hug, but he can tell the wounds are still too raw, and his words stung a little to deep. “I just wish I could understand what you saw in Lexa. I know my vision is clouded by Mount Weather. And I didn’t like the way she was manipulating you-”
“She was, Clarke. I get it, though. She wanted you in Polis, so she did what she had to do to keep you there.”
“You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He wants to tell he does know because part of him wanted to do the same thing. To convince her in any way possible to come home, but he hadn’t. Lexa had. It was another strike against her in his book.
“I stayed because I wanted to stay. Because I could help more in Polis than here. Because-” She stops, her mouth snapping shut as more tears flood her eyes but don’t fall.
Bellamy lets out a long breath, leaning back against the wall with his eyes closed. This has to be the most painful, awkward conversation he’s ever had. Especially with Clarke, and they’ve talked about some strange, painful things.
“Because you were in love with her,” he finishes. The words taste like ash in his mouth.
“I never-” Her voice quivers, and she sucks in a rattling breath to fight back the tears. “I never told-”
“I’m sure she knew, Clarke. You think you’re closed off and cold, but you wear your heart on your sleeve more than you know.” It’s one of the things he loves about her. But he’s not going to tell her that now. Maybe not ever.
Clarke sniffles as she collects her emotions which twists his heart even more. “She was there,” she whispers after awhile.
“In the City of Light?” Finally, she’s talking about it. Maybe she’ll get some closure.
“She saved me. I was so weak, and everyone was attacking me. I thought it was over.”
Bellamy pictures Clarke slumping on the throne, her life slipping away. And Murphy’s arms, elbow deep in Ontari’s chest, keeping Clarke alive.
“And then she was there. I wouldn’t have found the kill switch without her. I wouldn’t have been strong enough.”
Bellamy doubts that. “You think it was really her—an imprint on the chip?”
“I don’t know. I believed it then. I needed to believe it was her, but when I made it to the kill switch, Becca was there. She told me I controlled the A.I. That I could affect the world.”
“And now you’re not sure if Lexa was real or not.” No wonder she’s so conflicted. She nods. Her hands come up to cover her face, hiding more tears he knows are there. He feels sick inside. Sick that she had to go through that. Alone. That she’s still trying to do it on her own. Then there’s his own heart, being shredded up as he tries to be a good friend. “Clarke,” he says softly, moving a step closer. She trembles when he rests his hand on her shoulder.
Suddenly she pushes his arm away, taking several steps away. That hurts more than he thought it could.
“I can’t,” she says. “I just can’t do this, Bellamy. Not now. Not so soon-”
He sighs. “I’m just trying to be your friend. Nothing more. I told you, if you don’t want to talk to me then talk to your mom. Talk to Raven. Hell, talk to Monty—he’ll listen. You need to work through this, and you shouldn’t have to do it alone.”
“I don’t want to forget her.” She sobs into her hands.
Bellamy’s eyes shoot open, his mouth gaping. “When did I ever say that you should forget her? I don’t want you to forget her. You loved her. Why-”
Maybe he’s not ready to do this either. He runs his hand over his face and through his hair, pulling at the curls at the nape of his neck in frustration. He takes a step towards her, but then thinks better of it. Instead he paces a few steps away to calm his racing heart.
“Clarke, look at me.” His voice is barely above a whisper. He closes the distance between them, stopping short of her personal space. He waits until her eyes meet his. It’s too dark now to see anything but black coals. “I want you to listen very carefully to me. I’m not trying to make you forget Lexa. I don’t want that, just like I wouldn’t want someone pushing me to forget Gina. She was important to me. Lexa was important to you. Focus on the good memories. For a long time whenever I thought of Gina it was tainted by-” He swallows hard, forcing the words out. “By her death. I couldn’t see past it to the good times we had together, and that just fueled the anger. And we both know how that turned out.”
Amazingly, he gets a small laugh from her. He’s glad she’s looking away because he can’t hide his relieved grin. “Forget all of the bad things—the betrayal, the manipulation, her death. Think about-” He’s not sure what to tell her since every one of his memories of Lexa is clouded by his mistrust and dislike for her. “Think about what made you want to stay in Polis. How she made you feel when you were together. Think about how she loved you. She loved you so much she tried to change her entire culture to impress you. That’s some kind of love.”
The truth of it hits him hard—Lexa attempted and almost succeeded in changing the way her society functions. She risked everything. And she did it all for Clarke. He rubs the back of his neck. The fact that he could never live up to that destroys him a little.
Clarke sniffles again, but her tears seem dried for now. “I almost stayed,” she whispers. “In the City of Light. A.L.I.E. gave me the choice. I could have stayed and been with Lexa forever.”
Bellamy looks away and tries to keep his breathing even so she won’t hear the pain in his voice. “Why didn’t you?”
“Because people were counting on me.”
Bellamy nods. What else is there to say? The weight of it crushes him every moment of the day, too. There is always someone counting on them to fix everything. He watches her hugging herself.
“And because Lexa wouldn’t have wanted me to. She would have wanted me to keep fighting. To save our people—Skaikru and Grounders.”
He thinks she might start crying again, but she just takes a long breath, letting it out slowly. “And because I promised you I’d come back. I wouldn’t abandon you.” She looks anywhere but at him.
He’s so caught off guard he just stares at her, mouth slack. He blinks away the prickle of tears. Finally she looks up at him. “I couldn’t hurt you like that again.”
Screw it, he thinks, and wraps his arms around her. She doesn’t hesitate or flinch away this time. Her arms pull him in closer, fingers digging into his shoulders.
“I’m so sorry, Bellamy.” Her voice catches. “I should have never left. That was selfish-”
“Stop it Clarke. Just stop, okay?” He pulls back so he can see her face, pushing her hair from her damp cheeks. “Remember that whole forgiveness thing we talked about?”
“You said it was hard.”
“It is, but I think this is one you can give yourself. I told you, I’m over it. I’m tired of being hurt and angry. It happened; it’s over, and now you’re back. End of story.”
She sniffs, her hands gripping onto his wrists. “And you’ve forgiven yourself.”
He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath. “No, but I’m working on living with myself. It’s the best I can do.”
She frowns as she works through it all. He brushes her tears away with his thumbs. “Clarke-” He tries to put into words what he’s feeling, but it’s all jumbled in his head. He sighs. “What we’ve been through-” He pauses again. “We were tossed down here, completely unprepared for even basic survival. Then we’re thrown into one war after another.” She looks up at him, brow knit together in that cute way that kills him every time. He loses his train of thought for a second. “What I’m trying to say is our lives are completely screwed up, most of it through no fault of our own. We’re doing the best we can. We’re still alive, so I think we’re doing okay.”
He reluctantly pulls his hands away, shoving them in his pockets to keep from reaching for her again. She wipes her eyes, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. They go back to looking at the stars twinkling miles and miles above them.
“Do you think,” she asks, her voice soft, but void of the distress he heard earlier, “that if we were still up there on the Ark—if it didn’t die—that we’d be friends?”
He glances at her out of the corner of his eye. He’s thought a lot about it, and he doesn’t like the conclusion he’s come up with. She won’t like it either, but he won’t lie to her. “Clarke, if we were still on the Ark, we would have never met. We have nothing in common, and run with completely different crowds. You’re- Were-” He hates bringing up the word slung around like a slur those first days. “-part of the privileged. I was a freaking janitor.”
She frowns at him. “I don’t care about that.”
“Yeah, I know, but the chances we’d have ever met are slim to none. Besides you were in lockup the last year.” He gives her a crooked smile that gets an eye-roll. He feels like he’s making some progress. “And you’re way out of my league anyway. I knew that the moment I met you.”
He throws his hands up. “Just thought I would put that out there.” He can’t help grinning ear to ear hearing her laugh, seeing her smile. The little pieces of his heart start to glue themselves back together. No matter how much he wishes things were different between them, what he really wants is for Clarke to be happy.
A gust of winter air kicks up. Clarke shivers from head to toe, and Bellamy has to admit he’s cold, too. He bumps her shoulder. “Come on, let’s go inside before we freeze to death.”
She ducks her head, apparently trying to hide her smile. Then she hooks her arm in his as they walk back to the door. “You know,” she says, “I don’t think I’m out of your league.”
“Really? I swept floors, Clarke. And not even in important parts of the Ark. Like on some sub-level of a section of a station no one cared about.”
She laughs, shaking her head. “I think if we’d met on the Ark—by whatever circumstance,” she adds the last part quickly to keep him from commenting, “I think we’d have eventually become friends.”
“And what part of our first days on this planet makes you think that? The part where I was a total ass? Or the part where you were a bossy-”
She smacks his arm, but she’s still smiling. He can breathe a little easier now. “We figured it out eventually.”
“Yeah, because if we didn’t work together we’d be dead.”
She glares up at him. “Are you really that against the idea?”
“No, just being realistic.”
“That’s my job. You’re supposed to be impulsive and arrogant. What happened to that Bellamy?”
“He’s growing up.” He stops as they get to the door. “For the record, if we’d managed to get past the wanting-to-kill-each-other stage of the first few days, we’d definitely be friends.”
Clarke studies him for a few moments. “You don’t believe that.”
“I want to believe it because the idea of not having Clarke Griffin in my life is incomprehensible.” He pulls the door open then moves out of the way so she can enter first. “Of course, it’d be a lot less chaotic and confusing, too.”
He smirks as he slams the door behind them. “Whatever you say, princess.”