Clarke's Toyota was full to the brim with all of her belonging as she drove, trying to avoid the rear-view mirror.
Dropping out of medical school was never in the plan, but neither was the accident. Her dad's memory was everywhere. She couldn't stay in Maryland anymore, not with her mom, not with him, not after everything.
She had been driving for almost 10 hours, with no plan. She crossed state line after state line. She had just crossed into Georgia when her car started making strange noises.
No, no, no. Not now.
Even better than that, it had started raining. Not just drizzling, but full on, tropical summer storm rain. The clunking got louder and louder.
"Come on, baby. Just a little bit farther." Clarke could see lights up ahead, maybe a diner or a gas station? She had no idea, she was practically in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly, she heard the engine turn over and it stalled out. Shit. She sat there for a minute, forehead resting on the steering wheel. She was exhausted, and of course she was pretty sure her umbrella was packed in a box that was under all the other boxes. Of course.
She snatched up her purse, pulled the hood of her coat up and began the trek toward the tiny town up ahead. She passed a sign on the side of the road that road Ark, Georgia, Population: 2,658. Oh god. She was in the middle of nowhere. The lights in the local diner were still on and the bell jingled as she stepped inside, soaking wet, creating a small puddle where she stood in the doorway. There were only a few people inside and there was a sleepy looking young woman behind the bar, hair braided in an ornate manner.
"You alright, miss?"
Clarke tried to run her hands through the messy of tangled blonde curls, but it was no use.
"Yeah, um, no, I mean, not really. My car broke down just outside the town line and I don't have my AAA card or anything." She managed to sputter out, "Also, I clearly forgot where I packed my umbrella."
"Yeah, that Georgia rain will get you. The name's Monroe, can I get you a cup of coffee while I call a friend of mine to help you out?"
"Hot coffee would be a dream, thank you."
Clarke sat at a stool at the bar sipping on the coffee while Monroe tended to the last few customers. She heard the bells on the door jingle and she turned to see a tall, dark-haired (handsome) man with an insane amount of freckles standing there slightly damp from the storm.
"Hey, Blake, this is the gal here. I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name?"
"It's Clarke." She said as she finished up the last of her coffee, hopping up off the stool.
"Bellamy. Why don't we go see what we can do about your car?"
Clarke nodded and followed Bellamy out the door. He had opened up a large umbrella and she tried to hover as closely as possible to him to avoid the rain.
He didn't say much as they reached the car, he just handed her the umbrella and popped open the hood. He stood there with his eyes narrowed, focusing on the inner workings of her hunk of junk 1997 Camry.
"Well, it looks like there might be something wrong with the engine, I just can't pinpoint it here in the dark. With all this rain, there's no way I can get it figured out tonight, it'll have to wait until morning."
Bellamy caught a glimpse of the boxes and bags piled high in the back of the car. Where could she possibly be going?
Clarke sighed, trying to hold herself together. She was beyond exhausted, and it was starting to show. She never cries (well, not never.) But, her heart was just not having it today.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. It's okay, please don't cry." Bellamy stood there awkwardly, not sure if he should try and comfort the girl.
"Oh my god, I'm so sorry," she squeaked out between sobs. "I am a goddamned mess. I literally have no idea where I'm going, what I'm doing. My mom's a bitch. I lost my dad six weeks ago. It turns out my boyfriend had a fiancee. I dropped out of school. I have no job, pretty much no money. And, I'm fairly certain I forgot to cancel my Netflix account."
Bellamy stared at the girl who was soaking wet, sobbing and practically pouring her heart out in the middle of the night and the middle of the road. Even through all that, he could see she was beautiful.
"Hey," He cleared his throat, "it's going to be okay. I promise. I'll get my buddies out first thing in the morning, we'll tow your car into the shop and get her fixed up."
"Thank you. I, um, do you know if there is a hotel in town, or something?" she asked as she pulled a large duffel out of the backseat.
Bellamy was quiet for a moment.
"I've got some extra room in my apartment. It's small, but it's warm and doesn't smell like the Super 8." He looked at the ground nervously. He had never invited a complete stranger into his home before. She could be on the run for all he knew. God.
"Oh my god, you totally don't have to do that. The Super 8 is completely fine." She said shaking her head.
"Please. Look, it's the middle of the night and you're soaking wet. God knows you need a hot shower.." don't think about her naked, God Bellamy. "... and a warm bed."
Clarke shifted her weight, "Okay."
Bellamy stepped toward her, took the duffel from her and waved his arm ahead, "After you, princess." Oh god, what was that. Clarke turned, trying to hide the red flooding her cheeks.
They poked their heads back into the diner to let Monroe know that they would take care of the car in the morning and that she was going to stay with him for the evening. Clarke felt more comfortable knowing that someone else knew where she was, but all the same, she felt oddly at ease in Bellamy's presence.
He lived a few blocks from the diner. They had piled into his rusty red pick-up truck and a few quiet minutes later they pulled into what looked like an auto shop.
"I live upstairs." He replied to her silent question.
She nodded and followed him up a creaky set of stairs on the side of the building.
It was small, but it was warm. He had two mismatched couched smashed together in an L shape with a coffee table and a small television. The bed was in the corner, no walls, no anything. He was a simple guy. He was running through a few things about his apartment, where the bathroom was, and so on… but Clarke was taking in the scenery. The was a picture on the wall of him in uniform standing next to a petite girl with olive skin and a bright smile. She looked just like him.
"... let me grab a clean towel for you." Clarke snapped to attention as Bellamy brushed past her to reach the closet. He handed her a plush grey towel and then he shoved his hands into his pockets.
"Uh, are you hungry? Thirsty? I've got-"
"I really would just love to shower, if you don't mind."
"Yeah, no, of course."
Although Clarke smiled, she had a sadness in her eyes. She disappeared into the bathroom and he heard the water turn on. He thought she was beautiful, even though her eyes had been puffy from crying and she was soaking wet.
God, I'm in trouble.
He made himself busy, pulled out a beer and the leftover lasagna he had in his fridge from when his sister Octavia had come over to make him dinner a few nights ago. He turned the oven on and sipped on his beer. While the lasagna reheated, he pulled out some blankets and grabbed a pillow from his bed to makeshift a bed for himself on the couch.
Clarke emerged from the bathroom a bit later, her hair pulled up into a wet messy bun on top of her head and she had a worn-looking pair of sweats on and a over-sized t-shirt that said "Dad of the Year" on it. He didn't comment.
"I have some lasagna just about ready in the kitchen, nothing fancy, just leftovers." He took another sip and nodded towards his beer , "You want one?"
Clarke nodded and he reached to the fridge to grab another for her. He turned back to face her and he could see she was doodling something on the pad of paper by the phone. Setting the pencil down she took the beer from him.
"Thanks," she said, "For all of this, I mean."
"It's nothing, really. We'll get your car fixed up in the morning and you'll be on your way."
Clarke smiled sadly. They ate their lasagna in silence, and Bellamy took the empty plates and bottles to the sink. Clarke was looking at the few pictures that adorned the otherwise empty walls of the apartment.
"Where did you serve?"
"What?" Bellamy turned away from the dishes at the sink.
"Your uniform, with the girl… I'm assuming this was before a deployment?"
"Oh," Bellamy looked at his feet, shifting his weight, "Afghanistan. Two tours." He pulled the collar away from his neck a bit to reveal a large patch of scarred tissue… "Honorably discharged."
Clarke looked away embarrassed, "I'm so sorry."
"Nah, I'm alive. Can't say the same for most of my platoon though."
He ran his hand through his hair, he did that when he was nervous.
"Is that your sister in the picture with you?"
"Yep. Just me and Octavia nowadays. She's actually the one who made the lasagna… she comes over to cook for me a couple times a month, something about making sure I don't eat takeout every night or whatever."
Clarke smiled, Bellamy's eye had a light to them when he talked about Octavia. "You'll have to give her my regards, the lasagna was delicious."
"I'll make sure to do that."
Clarke reached to rub her shoulders.
"You alright?" Bellamy raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah, being in the car all day will really tighten your muscles up. Not to mention the hellish few weeks I've had."
Bellamy had finished the dishes and was drying his hands as he turned to meet her in the living area, "Sorry…"
"No need to be, it's not your problem."
He was only a few feet away, but god, she smelled like strawberries. They had both started in on another drink.
"So, why come back to a small town in the middle-of-nowhere, Georgia?" Clarke plopped down onto the couch, tucking her feet beneath her.
"Uh," Bellamy sat down on the arm of the couch, "Like I said, I got discharged, and uh my sister's pretty much the only thing I have left in the world. Our parents died about two months after I got out of the army. I came back to raise her, keep an eye on her," he touched his lips, "I mean, she's old enough to take care of herself now, but I still worry about her. I still stay close."
Clarke caught herself staring at his lips. She looked back up to his eyes. He had soft eyes, eyes that had seen a lot. There was a rough edge to them, but they were soft.
"Tell me about her." Clarke smiled.
They sat and talked, mostly about Bellamy. Clarke tried to keep the conversation off anything to do with her. He talked about his sister. Clarke was an only child. She laughed when he said maybe she got lucky, she didn't have to worry all the time about someone else's well-being. He talked about his time overseas. He talked about how he got shot. He talked about his platoon, and how they had been ambushed. He lost his best friend, Miller. Clarke noticed the extra tag on the chain he wore around his neck. He talked about how his dad had taught him about cars and it seemed like the only logical thing to do when he came back to Ark.
Clarke talked too. But not about her mom. Not about her dad. Not about him. She talked about her crappy Camry, about how she'd worked an entire summer babysitting in high school to be able to afford it. She talked about the nightmarish children she had had to endure and the parents the didn't ever pay her enough to endure it. She talked about her love of art, about the huge box of charcoals and paints in the back of the Camry that took up more space than her clothes did.
Clarke's hand idly moved in patterns against the couch. Bellamy had moved off the arm of the couch onto the couch. The was a warm buzz between them, an ease.
"Shit," Bellamy said looking at his watch, "How is it already 1 AM?"
Clarke had melted into the couch. Still awake, but her breathing was steady and her face was flush with warmth.
"I, uh, I changed the sheets on the bed for you. I was gonna take the couch."
Clarke looked at Bellamy, he was handsome. His hair looking like he just rolled out of bed, not in like a sloppy way, but in a way that made her want to grab onto his face.
Bellamy looked at Clarke, she was beautiful. She looked like she was carrying the weight of the world and he just wanted to make it all melt away. She had a gentle kindness to her, but he could tell she was strong.
Clarke sat up, "You really didn't have to do that."
Bellamy just shrugged. Clarke dragged herself up from the couch, bringing herself just a few steps from him.
"I'd be just fine on the couch," she stepped closer.
"I'm sure you would, but you'd probably get a better nights sleep if you slept in the bed."
"Why don't we share?"
Clarke was surprised at the words coming out of her own mouth. She was only inches from Bellamy now, heat radiated between them.
"Oh?" Bellamy brought his hand to Clarke's face, her skin soft under his calloused palm. The tension was dangling between them. She'd be gone tomorrow. What could it hurt. They both needed a release, a comfort, whatever you want to call it.
He ran his thumb along her cheekbone before he leaned in to press his lips to hers. Clarke's hands were in his hair, Bellamy moving his hands to her hips. God. Even her lips were soft. He felt her tongue flick across his lips, he open his mouth as the kiss deepened. Suddenly, Clarke's hands were dancing along the hem of his shirt. Bellamy broke away for a minute to pull his shirt over his head, and his hands were back on Clarke, running along the curve of her back, to her waist, and grabbing under her as she wrapped her legs around him.
He dropped her down on the bed, hovering over her for a moment. Her hands pulled him back onto her mouth, his hands planted on both sides of her, both of them crawling back onto the bed. He pulled back, his hands slipping under her shirt and helping her pull it over her head.
It got stuck. They laughed.
Their hands were everywhere. Hers were undoing his belt, mostly unsuccessfully. He had to help. His hands ran under the waistband of her sweatpants, but the drawstring was in a knot.
Sex didn't come as easy as the movies made it seem. They didn't fit together right away. Sometimes she bobbed when he weaved. But as they laughed, and kissed, they both felt the stress melting away.
For a moment, Clarke forgot the problems she left behind.
For a moment, Bellamy forgot about the people he'd lost.
Soon, their bodies did begin to move together, bodies humming with heat and pleasure. Bellamy moving into her, Clarke meeting him each time.
They laid there in the quiet when it was over. Clarke was smiling, her eyes were closed, tucked into his arm. Absentmindedly drawing shapes on his chest. Bellamy was looking at her. She didn't see they way he looked at her.
He felt her fall asleep. Her hand slowing to rest on his chest, her breath warm and steady.
He turned out the lamp with the free arm. Almost wide awake.
Clarke woke up to the warmth of the sun. The space where her hand now rested was cold and empty, except for a note.
Down in the shop working on the Camry. Coffee is brewing. - Bellamy
Reality hit her again. The car would be fixed up in no time and she'd be on the road again. That's what she wanted right.
Clarke got herself ready, gathering all her things in the apartment and wandered down into the shop below.
He was wearing a gray t-shirt and he was covered in sweat and grease, body suspended over her engine.
A large clang came from the corner, Clarke turned to see two guys: one popping peanuts into his mouth with a smirk on his face and the other with rather large goggles perched on his head and mouth gaping open. Bellamy turned to see Clarke standing there.
"Ignore those two." Bellamy grabbed a rag and attempted to remove some of the grease from his hands.
Clarke just smiled, something about the sweaty man in front of her keeping her focus away from the other two guys.
"So, I have some good news and some bad news."
Clarke raised her eyebrow, "Good news?"
"We know what's wrong with your car."
"... bad news?"
"It requires a part we don't have. We already called the 6 closest shops, no one in a 5-hour radius has the part because the car is old, and the part is uncommon. Also, the part is on back order. The company has to do some digging to find a replacement."
"And, how long is that going to take?"
Bellamy wiped his forehead, smearing the grease even more, "Could be a few days, could be three weeks. No way in telling, really. I'm really sorry." He stood there awkwardly, after last night, they were just supposed to go on with their lives, each going in different directions. Now what?
Clarke sat down on the workbench.
Guess I won't be going anywhere anytime soon.