like ships in the night (passing me by)
Summary: He met her seven different times. Once when she was a child, twice on her deathbed and four times in between. (Alternatively, The Fic Where He's Immortal and She Isn't)
The first time he meets her, she is young and he is already old. He has had thousands of names, both killed and saved men, helped empires rise and watched them fall, laughed, and even cried once or twice. He is hundreds, no, thousands of years old. She can't be older than seven.
He meets her first when he is Seth, god of the desert, and she is a child.
Her hair glows gold in the sunlight as she plays in the Nile, giggling and splashing the muddy water. She spots him sitting on the banks and instantly stops, her face a light shade of red.
"Hi," she says softly.
She sits in the water for a moment, just staring up at him with wide blue eyes and muddy clothing. Then she grins at him, showing a missing front tooth and a mischievous glint in her eyes. "Want to play with me?" she asks.
He almost says no, he has better things to do, things that should already be done. But then the sun hits her hair just right and he swears its pure gold and when he looks into her eyes, so wide, so filled with hope, he finds himself unable to refuse.
One thousand six hundred and eighty two years of life, and for the first time, he feels something inside him snap. Something like hope, but stronger, more resilient. He brushes the feeling off and instead splashes the little girl causing her to giggle and go under. When she comes back up, her hair is muddied and the sun no longer makes it glint -.
They play for what seems like hours until eventually he climbs out onto the banks of the Nile and she follows him.
"I'm Cleopatra," she tells him. "I was going to be named Nefertiti, she was one of the great queens of Egypt, but then my parents decided Cleopatra instead. But one day I'm going to be a great queen and the whole world will remember my name. And they're going to write stories about me because I'm not just going to be a queen. I'm going to be a healer too. So when my people get sick, I can help them."
"That's a good idea," he says. Reaching out, he grabs a strand of her muddy hair and gives it a playful tug. "But I think you'll be remembered for this more than anything else."
Her grin gets even bigger. "My mother says it's a gift from the gods, she says that Ra kissed my head when I was born and made my hair as gold as the sun. She says I need to pray to him every night to keep my hair gold and to thank him for his gift."
"Because his ego needs even more boosting," he mutters under his breath. He knew Ra, but he knew the other immortal by his true name, Finn. The guy was a dick to say the least.
"Hmm?" the girl asks, but she's barely paying attention, now drawing pictures in the mud with a stick.
He looks down and sees two figures in the mud, squiggles over the top of them that he assumes is a river. One of the figures is much bigger than the other and has short hair and he tries to believe it's not supposed to be him. "Aren't your parents looking for you?"
As if right on cue, he hears a woman's voice yelling the little girl's name. He stands to leave, only to have a muddied hand wrap around his wrist in a death grip. Wincing in pain, he tries to hide it behind a smile as he looks back down at the Egyptian princess.
"What's your name?" she asks, curiosity in her grey eyes.
He could've given her a thousand different answers. He could have simply walked away. Hell, he could have told her he was a fish that had grown legs and she'd have believed him. So he surprises even himself when he answers her question the way he once swore he never would: by telling her his real name.
"Bellamy. My name is Bellamy."
She waves and begins running along the banks. "Bye, Bellamy! You should come back tomorrow and we can go swimming again!" She disappears between the reeds towards the voice calling her name.
For a moment, he considers it. He considers coming back just to hear her giggle, to see her gap-toothed smile and the sun glinting off her hair. But then he remembers, he's an immortal and she's not.
Far too many times he had become attached to a mortal, forced to watch as their life drained away, as they grew old and he didn't. They all died in the end and he was left alone, only a few others like him scattered throughout the world, such as Finn. After the last mortal he befriended had died of old age (her skin was wrinkled and her hair white, and he had been forced to sit by her side, still not looking a day over twenty) he promised himself he was done becoming attached. Their lives ended too quickly and they were too foolish, too mind-numbingly ignorant to understand a life like his.
So he doesn't come back the next day. He doesn't come back ever. Instead, he travels up to the Scandinavian tribes in the north, where there are women with golden hair and stormy eyes aplenty.
But he doesn't forget the little girl. He can't forget her if he tries.
So five years later when he hears news that the jewel of Egypt, the young princess Cleopatra, who had been kissed by the Sun God himself, was murdered by bandits on her way to her summer home with her mother, he can't ignore the twist in his gut nor the pain in his chest.
It's the first time he's cared about what happened to a mortal in a millennium.
It scares the hell out of him.
And seven hundred and fifty years later, when another Cleopatra comes along, a Cleopatra that they do remember, that they do write tales about (but not because she was a good leader but rather because she was a scandalous story), he just can't seem to shake the bitter taste on his tongue.
He is grateful for humans' aptitude towards violence. Mortals are such interesting creatures, they have such little time to live and yet they insist on cutting it even shorter, whether it be through war or just sheer stupidity.
He thinks the gladiator fights are a mixture of both.
With over two thousand years of training under his belt, he is by far the deadliest warrior in the Colosseum.
The only thing is he can't die.
Which is a serious problem when he has a spear through his stomach and he should be long dead. Except he never is, and he has to keep an eye out for anyone who notices it.
Granted he does have to wait for his wounds to heal, just like a mortal and he does scar. But he doesn't age and he doesn't die, and all it takes is one person to notice it and he'll be stoned and thrown out of town. (God, he hates being stoned. Once he had a particularly nasty rock to the head and he had to wait months before he could go back out in public, his face was that deformed.).
He's fighting two tigers and three gladiators when he sees it.
He's sure it's a trick of the light to begin with, as it's just a flash in the crowd. But then he sees it again, and then again. And then he barely manages to avoid a spear to the neck only to get too close to the tiger and feel it's claws dig into his back. He lets out a shout of pain and whirls around, driving his sword into the beast's jugular. Then he looks up and his heart stops.
Because the glint isn't a trick of the sunlight, and her hair glows so much more when it isn't muddy with the water of the Nile.
She is older now, fifteen or sixteen, maybe seventeen at oldest. Most of her hair is covered in a shawl, but then the sun would hit it just right and the little bit that is visible would catch the light.
Her eyes lock with his, the same stormy grey, and for a moment he swears she remembers. But then she opens her mouth and yells something he doesn't hear while pointing behind him.
Dropping to the ground, he barely avoids being decapitated (he doesn't know how he'd survive that one and he has no desire to find out). He fights much more quickly than he normally would, showcasing a bit more of his ability than he'd like to, just so that he can be finished and find the girl that he had met on the banks of the Nile almost nine hundred years before.
When he has won the battle, he looks for her in the crowd, but she's disappeared. The gashes on his back are throbbing and he has an arrowhead lodged in his bicep as well as a gash in his calf. He stumbles to his knees, the crowd roaring his name.
"Brutus! Brutus! Brutus!"
But it's not his real name.
It's never his real name.
Two men run out into the arena and slip his arms over their shoulders, but not before Bellamy raises his sword to the crowd. They all go wild. It's their screams of excitement that give him the strength not to just pass out in the sand.
Instead, the men drag him into a room and lay him out on a table, his back facing up and his chest pressed against the stone. Out of the corner of his eye, something catches the light and his heart stops.
"Jupiter forgive me, I should not be doing this," he hears her mutter under her breath and he feels her hands gently prod at the gashes along his back. "Well, if the loss of blood doesn't kill you, infection surely will."
He finally finds his voice. "I'm a lot stronger than you'd think, princess." The nickname just slips past his mouth as he remembers a little girl's dream of being a famous queen in Egypt, a dream that was ripped away from her like a flower plucked from the soil.
The girl from Rome snorts. "I'm no princess," she replies.
"Doesn't matter. It suits you."
There is silence for a while, the men who had dragged him from the arena having left, and the only sound is his occasional hisses of pain as she picks the sand out of his wounds. Her hands are soft against his skin and it's startling how much her touch relaxes him. He can't remember the last time anyone was as gentle with him as this girl was now.
"What's your name?" he mumbles, his face resting against the stone table as he feels her knife poke and prod his back, picking out chunks of dirt and debris coated with blood.
She pauses for a moment and he can feel her grey stare drilling into him. "Claudia," is her short response.
"'Princess' definitely suites you better."
"You do realize that I'm holding a knife dangerously close to your neck?"
That causes him to laugh. But the laughs quickly turn into gasps of pain as he feels the freshly formed scabs on his back rip open and tear. The girl - Claudia – curses quietly before he feels her fingertips against his skin. She hums softly and scratches along the base of his scalp where his neck meets his skull, calming his painful gasps into silence.
"Where did you learn to do all this?" he rasps, his throat desperate for water and his body screaming in agony.
He sees her shrug out of the corner of his eye and she replies, "I've always liked healing. My parents would prefer that I stay inside, marry well, be a good wife, but…" She trails off and he can hear the wistfulness in her voice.
"But you want adventure," he finishes for her. He wouldn't expect anything less.
He snorts. Adventure. That's all these mortals seem to want. Their lives are so short, and he finds it pointless. They'll never be satisfied any which way. "It's not as wonderful as you think it is."
"What would you know?" she snaps and he inhales sharply as she presses a little too hard around his wound. "You're just a slave."
"I'm a gladiator, princess. Not a slave."
She is silent for a moment before she mumbles, "They're basically the same thing."
"Why are you here?" he changes the topic. He doesn't want to tell her too much about himself, he doesn't want to get attached to her (she'll just die like the rest of them anyway). "Why are you helping me?"
When she doesn't answer he tries to twist to look at her only to feel her hand press his shoulder down, making him unable to move. "I saw you look at me," she says softly. "You looked right at me and didn't look away. I tried moving but you kept searching for me."
He swallows hard, cursing himself for not being discreet. The shock as well as the adrenaline had robbed him of all his judgment at the time and now he's paying the price. His mind searches for an excuse, a lie to tell her, but he finds none.
"You remind me of someone I once knew," he finally says.
"Was she pretty?" Her voice has a teasing tone to it.
"She was a child." His does not.
"Oh," her voice is soft this time and he almost regrets his harshness for a moment. But then he remembers the bitter taste in his mouth when he heard she had been killed and he decides that he doesn't want to think about Cleopatra, jewel of Egypt, who had been kissed by the Sun God, Ra.
"Is she dead?" she asks.
"Yes." He refuses to expand on the answer. Even when the Roman woman pushes, asking what the girl was like, he clenches his teeth and doesn't make a sound.
He doesn't answer because he knows that if he tried to describe the girl he had known then, he would end up describing the girl standing over him now. He wonders if somewhere, deep in her mind, buried behind her consciousness and her memories of this life, she remembered swimming near the muddy banks of the Nile with him.
She works in silence, bandaging and cleaning the rest of his wounds until finally, he hears her move and he props himself up on his elbow. He watches her wash her bloodied hands in a bowl of water and pull the shawl back up over her hair.
"Rest a while before your next fight," she tells him. "You'll have to wait until those wounds on your back heal or else you'll just rip them open again."
He nods and she turns to walk towards the door.
"Claudia," he says softly, causing her to stop in her tracks and turn back towards him. He looks into her stormy grey eyes and feels his heart ache with a feeling he has never quite felt before. "Don't come back here. This arena only holds violence and death, it's no place for a woman. Stay away." He knows that his eyes betray his true request. Stay away from me.
Her entire body stiffens and her eyes become alive with fire. He watches her as she presses her lips together in anger and he can't help but hope that she directs that anger at him and decides to never see him again.
"I will come as I please," she replies and she lifts her chin in defiance. "I will come and watch the fights and I will tend to the wounds of the warriors. And when I come, I shall cheer for you, gladiator."
She whirls around and walks out.
It takes him a while to notice there is a small smile on his face.
July 20, 1424
Château de Blois, France
He often wonders if dying is painful.
Pain is a feeling he is well acquainted with. He fights often, whether it be in gladiator pits, wars or simply bar brawls, and he finds that while he has been injured many times, he has never actually been dying.
He wonders if dying is painful, or if it is more like a dream one slips into as one's soul passes from this world to the next.
Then he laughs at himself. He doesn't have a soul. Perhaps mortals do, their life like a burning candle that flares and then dies in a matter of seconds, but an immortal? They can't. They are privileged with the ability to experience every aspect of life on Earth, but the price is that there is no life after.
All the same, he sometimes wishes he could die. Just so he could know whether or not it was painful.
The third time he sees her, it isn't chance. No, the third time he sees her, he is brought to her.
He is living in a small cottage in the forests of France when a party of royal guards rides up to meet him. He sets down the ax he was using to chop wood, but keeps it at a close distance in case he needs to fight his way out (it wouldn't be the first time a situation had turned on him).
"Are you the hunter, Balthazar?" one of the guards asks, his armor clinking as he looks around, making sure no one else is in the clearing.
"Aye, that is what I am called."
"The people in the village say that you tend to their sick."
He shrugs. "When they are brave enough to bring them to me." The people of the village thought him to be a warlock and they rarely made any attempt to approach him. However, he did get the occasional desperate mother with a sick child or hysterical daughter with a dying father. Sometimes, he even gets children and those are by far his favorite. They are the only ones who aren't terrified of him.
One of the guards jumps off of his horse and approaches the immortal, grasping the beast's reigns tight in his hand. "They say that you ease the passing of the dying."
"I am a hunter," he says simply. "I know the way to calm a beast before it dies, to spare it most of the pain that would otherwise be inflicted." His eyes dart to each of the guards before he continues, "Humans and beasts are surprisingly similar."
There is silence for a moment, then the lead guard tilts his head and says, "Seize him."
Four guards immediately step off their horses and move towards him, but all freeze when his hand wraps around the handle of his axe and he swings it up to rest on his shoulder. He slowly studies each of the men before him before saying, "I think that you had better tell me what's going on. I'd hate to harm any of you…brave soldiers."
There is silence. Then the same guard, sitting high on his horse, seems to slump a little in his saddle and says in a soft voice, "The queen is dying."
He laughs. The sound is mirthless and mocking, ringing throughout the clearing and is followed by the sound of wings as a few startled birds take flight. "Why should I care? What has the queen ever done for me?"
"She is a good queen!" one of the younger soldiers immediately replies, his voice slightly indignant. "She is strong, kind, and she is a healer, like yourself."
"I am not a healer," Bellamy says without thought. But even as he speaks, he feels a twist in his gut as he remembers a golden-haired girl, once promising to be a healer-queen and once easing his pain as he lay on a stone table, and he can't help but wonder…
No. He cannot hope for such things.
The guard's voice snaps him out of his thoughts. "She is in pain." The man's voice sounds so broken, so helpless, that Bellamy almost gives in. As he opens his mouth to refuse the man again, three long, jagged scars on his back suddenly feel the ghost of soft hands cleaning open wounds. A quiet tune being hummed by a woman's voice rings in his ears and he feels his throat tighten. He knows that the chance of this woman, this dying queen, being the girl he had met all those years ago is incredibly small, but at the same time he can't help but wonder…what if it is?
So he silently nods and fetches his horse from the stable.
The ride to the castle is a day and a half and when he arrives, it's dusk.
When he steps into the queen's chamber, he feels as if all of the breath has been taken out of his lungs and he has been thrown to the bottom of the ocean (a feeling that he actually had experienced after a nasty run in with a few pirates off the coast of Africa). He hesitates, not knowing if it is actually her or if he has somehow convinced himself that she is there in front of him, projecting his own delusions onto a woman he has never seen before.
But then her eyes flitter open and he knows it can't be anyone else.
"Another renowned physician here to attempt to cure me of my suffering?" Her voice is raspy and it seems as if every word she speaks causes her pain.
He finally finds his voice. "No, Your Majesty. Just a hunter attempting to ease it." Walking to her side, he kneels down and gently presses a wet cloth to her forehead. He notices that among her grey hair, small streaks of gold still exist and they glitter in the candlelight.
"A hunter?" she asks. "And where did they find you?"
"Outside a village just south of the border, Your Majesty."
He watches her grey eyes shut and a cough wracks her entire body, making her seem, if possible, frailer than she was before. "And what is your name?" she all but wheezes through the coughs.
There is a long pause as if every fiber of his being is at battle with himself. How he wants to tell her his real name, to see if she remembers. But at the same time, he knows that he shouldn't. He can't. He simply cannot. He is Balthazar in this life and that is what she will know him as. He decides that he must continue to live his lie, to move with the world and the ever flowing current that changes it.
"Bellamy. My name is Bellamy."
It would seem that his brain and his mouth are not connected.
She shifts slightly in her bed. "Bellamy…" she murmurs softly. "What a strange name."
"I am a strange man, Your Majesty," he replies wryly.
She somehow finds the strength to wave her hand dismissively. "None of that now," she chastises. "I am dying. Call me Claude."
Claude. Claudia. Cleopatra. Fate sure did have a sense of humor.
A small smile passes his lips before he has time to stop it. "Tell me, Claude," he says. "How is the pain?"
He watches with a feeling similar to pride as her eyes widen slightly and her lips part. "It's better," she replies. "Much better, actually."
Leaning forward, he gives up and lets the boyish grin overtake his features as he looks at the elderly woman in front of him. "That's the problem with these physicians and healers," he whispers. "They are always focusing on this new medicine or that old remedy. They never seem to understand that sometimes the best way to ease the dying is to give them a companion."
She looks at him, her eyes studying his features and for a split second, he dares to hope that she remembers him. But then he crushes the hope inside of him, now allowing it to be shattered by disappointment yet again. "Bellamy," she whispers (oh, the way she says his name scares him. The way it rolls off her tongue like she has waited all her life just to say that one word), "the strange hunter from just south of the border, would you like to be a companion to a dying queen?"
"It would be my honor, Your Majesty."
For five days he does not leave her side. He tells her stories, weaving tales throughout history and passing them off as legends and myths, and she tells him a few of her own. She makes him smile more in those few days than he had in the last century and though she is old, her laugh still sounds light, like chimes in the wind.
He finds himself happier than he has ever been in his prolonged life in those five days. He finds himself so happy, that he forgets that she is a mortal. And he forgets that mortals only do one thing well.
When he opens his eyes and lifts his head from the side of her bed where he was resting it, he does not notice her stillness at first. When he sits back in his chair, a small smile passing his lips, he does not notice her pallor. It is only when he waits for her to open her stormy grey eyes, that he finally notices that her chest doesn't rise and fall with the rhythm of flickering candles. It is only when he grasps her hand in his that he realizes the warmth beneath her skin is gone. It is only when the tears begin to stream down his face and he feels as if his entire world will never be the same that he realizes he has broken his own rule. He has become attached to another mortal, another mortal who only dies in the end, just like the rest.
As his throat burns and his heart aches in his chest, he wonders if this is what dying feels like.
January 1st, 1800
He sees her in a market place in London at the turn of the nineteenth century.
It is cold outside; snow is drifting lazily from the sky to the ground and at first, he doesn't even give her a second thought. But then light from a nearby lamp catches on her golden hair, all wrapped up in a bonnet except for a few stray pieces falling in front of her face.
He has spent the better part of four centuries trying to distract himself from the memory of her. He has begun meddling with history, seeing how much of an impact he can make (he has decided that fate doesn't exist. Mortals, and immortals, make their own choices and those choices define their lives.). He has planted the idea of undiscovered worlds in traveller's minds, leading to the founding of a land far across the sea. He has both helped Puritans survive in that land and let others disappear off the face of the earth. He has whispered words of rebellion in the ears of men in the colonies, and watched as that rebellion grew into a revolution. He has spent years upon years in the Americas, trying to forget the ghost of a dying queen that haunts him.
He hasn't spent a week back in England when he sees her.
She is leaning over a table, gloved hands holding a small leather notebook as she flips through the pages. Her brow is furrowed and her gaze intense as she studies it, her lip between her teeth.
His heart flutters in his chest and he takes a step towards her, his boots crunching against the snowy ground.
A voice cuts through the winter air like a knife through flesh and the spell is broken. The girl that has haunted him through millennium turns and looks over her shoulder, a smile on her face. "William, come look!" she calls, and a man with dark skin and kind eyes walks up behind her. "It's just like the one I have at home."
"Well, you should buy it," the man replies. "You've almost filled up the other one." Bellamy watches as the other man pulls out a few coins and puts it in the vendor's hands.
Smiling, the golden-haired girl turns and kisses him softly and quickly before shooting the man a radiant smile.
The coldness of the winter seems to seep through the immortal's clothing and skin, and his heart seems to freeze in his chest. (He is a fool.) He watches as she laughs at something her husband whispers in her ear, her eyes lighting up with joy. (He is such a fool.)
Then, she turns and her eyes meet his, hers cheerful and grey, locking with his own weary, brown ones. She freezes and a look of confusion passes over her face. Her lips part and she studies him, as if she's trying to remember, to fight past the lives separating her from him.
He finds himself enraptured.
She takes a step towards him, her small feet stepping lightly on the snow-covered ground. Her husband says her name in a questioning tone and her brows furrow like they did when she was studying the notebook. She presses her lips together for a moment and he sees her mouth the beginning of a word: Bell…
He fights back his tears as he stumbles away from her.
He stumbles into an alley and falls against the wall, his breath coming in sharp pants as he tilts his head backwards, looking up at the sky between the high buildings and letting the snow fall on his face, the cold biting against his skin.
He misses her.
He misses her so much.
But she is happy in this life. And who is he to take away that happiness?
There is no such thing as fate, he tells himself. We make our own choices and our choices define our lives.
He wishes he could believe his own words.
July 1, 1916
The Somme River, France
He doesn't know why he fights in the war. He decides later that it was a choice based more off his boredom than his common sense. Nothing reminds him of his immortality quite like watching men around him die.
For the most part he is able to remain uninjured, always dodging a bullet in the nick of time, always miraculously avoiding some bomb or landmine. He watches as the war grows larger and larger until they begin calling it "the Great War" (they later call it the World War). He listens to the radio and mutters a few derogatory names under his breath when he sees Finn's face on the front page of the newspaper, lurking in the shadows behind Winston Churchill (it would seem he isn't the only immortal who enjoys writing history).
His entire life had been spent watching mortals around him die, but he had never quite seen anything like the battle at Somme.
He doesn't remember much of that battle, just smoke, death and the devastation afterwards. When he closes his eyes, he remembers the sound of the guns ringing in his ears and the taste of blood and soot on his tongue. He remembers that he could barely see anything, and he remembers soldiers around him dropping like flies.
His sharpest memory of that day is when he should have been killed.
A grenade goes off near him and he feels hundreds of shards of shrapnel ripping through his flesh. He screams in pain and he keeps screaming as his fellow soldiers drag him off the battlefield (he knows that no one can hear his screams, they simply blend in with those of the dying men around him).
He wants the pain to end and he prays for death, but his curse stays strong and he is left with the moans of the dying filling his ears and the knowledge that his time on this Earth is not yet done (it is never done).
"Soldier B. Smith," he hears a voice above him. "Injured at the Battle of Somme." There is silence before he hears the voice mutter, "Well, I'll be damned. He's alive."
He opens his eyes and everything remains blurry. Blinking a few times, a figure dressed in white comes into focus and his entire body goes stiff when he recognizes a glint of gold in the figure's hair.
His whole body lights up with pain as he thrashes in his bed.
"Whoa, whoa," she says, her hand touching his shoulder. "Calm down there, soldier. You'll injure yourself even more."
His hand flashes out and wraps around her wrist in a death grip and somewhere in his mind he registers her wince of pain. "Bellamy," he gasps like a drowning man gasping for air. "My name is Bellamy."
Then he blacks out.
When he first opens his eyes, he doesn't remember where he's at. He sits up slowly, looking around at the beds filled with injured soldiers. A woman at the end of the hall notices him and stops what she's doing, wiping her hands off with a towel and walking towards him.
When her grey eyes lock with his everything comes rushing back.
"I see you're awake," she says, placing her hands on her hips. "How are you feeling?"
"Better," is his only response. He can't remember the last time he felt 'good.'
She pauses for a moment, looking him up and down as he tries to stretch and winces. "You should be dead," she says bluntly.
He snorts. If only she knew.
"Don't take it lightly," she continues. "Men have come in with less injury than you and still died. It's a miracle you're alive."
He falls back against the bed, his head hitting the pillow. "Miracle?" he asks under his breath. "More like a curse."
He feels her eyes on him so he shifts so he can see her face. She is looking at him strangely and he suddenly feels the obligation to expand on his reply. "Men go to war for different reasons," he says. "Power, love, greed, loyalty to king and country. Some men go to war hoping their lives will start. Others go hoping it will end."
"That's terrible," she murmurs.
"That's life," he replies. He studies the woman before him for a moment. "What's your name?"
Clara. Fate really did have a sense of humor.
She hesitates and looks at him from lowered lids. "What is yours?" she asks.
His mind goes back and forth at least a hundred times in a single second. He contemplates just telling her the name written on the clipboard at the foot of his bed, just to keep things simple. But when he opens his mouth, he finds that he doesn't want to lie, at least not to her.
She raises a brow skeptically. "Oh, really?" she asks.
"Because it says here that your name is…" she pauses, looking down at a clipboard in her hands, "Benjamin L. Smith."
He manages a wry smirk. "Bellamy's a strange name. Benjamin is a lot easier to go by."
"So you lied."
Damn, she's a lot more blunt in this life than she was in the others.
"I guess you could put it that way."
She is quiet for a moment before she asks, "How will your family know if you die?"
He looks at her. Her brow is furrowed and her lips are pressed together, as if she's trying to understand the reasoning behind his lie. "I don't have a family," he says.
"Oh." She says the syllable softly, but there is no pity in her voice. He wonders if many of the soldiers here are orphans as well.
"How about you?" he asks, trying to change the subject. "What does your family think about you being on the front lines, saving the lives of soldiers only to talk them to death later?" His voice has a teasing tone to it, mocking her straight-to-the-point attitude.
She raises a brow and he swears he sees a small smile dancing on the edge of her lips for a moment. Then it's gone as she answers, "It would seem you and I have more in common than we might think."
He nods. An orphan in this life as well as blunt. He wonders if it's the hardships she's seen that has changed her so much.
"You should get some sleep, soldier," she says as she stands.
"Will I see you again?" he asks, his eyes already drifting closed. He knows it's a stupid question. Even if not for a hundred years, he knows that he'll see her sometime again.
Her response, nevertheless, brings a small smile to his lips.
"I think you will."
Three weeks later when he is discharged from the hospital, she is the one who walks him to the door, a pack slung across his back and a car waiting outside to take him back to war.
He steps out into the sun and walks towards the car. Just as he is about to climb in, he hears her call out behind him.
Turning slowly, he sees her standing at the entrance to the hospital, her hands clasped in front of her and her bottom lip caught between her teeth.
"Don't get killed out there."
He grins, a big boyish grin that almost feels strange on his face. "For you, princess? Anything."
The other soldiers in the car whistle and clap him on the back as he climbs into the truck and he watches her figure standing on the steps to the hospital until she disappears from sight.
Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, New York
He has long since discovered that mortals are strange beings. Their lives are so short, they barely have any time to experience anything, yet some that he meet burn brighter than he could ever hope to.
Maybe it's their short life span that makes them live with so much passion, like a solar flare that shines brighter just because it's so short lived. They have little time in this world, so they laugh more, cry more, love more and just generally live more than immortals do.
He watches mortals fall in love, and it is so strange to him, the way they base their entire happiness of off one person, the way they are content with whatever their lives give them just because they have someone by their side. Even as an immortal, he doesn't think he's ever really loved, so instead he just continues to be baffled when he watches mortals, their hand grasped in their partner's as they walk down the street smiling, and their different way of life.
He's always viewed them as weaker for it.
The sixth time he meets her, it's completely by accident.
He is in New York, trying to find Finn (the dick owed him a favor and he figured it was time to cash it in). After quite a bit of asking around (most immortals try to stay under the radar) and a few false leads, he finds himself wandering through the hallways of Lenox Hill Hospital in search of Dr. Franklin Dean Collins.
He stops outside a room labeled D204, the room that damn nurse had told him Dr. Collins was in (he should've known better than to trust her, she seemed far too ditzy for his liking. Plus she wouldn't stop batting her eyes at him and he found it quite annoying). He takes a deep breath before he turns the knob and opens the door.
He doesn't recognize her by her hair this time. He can't.
She doesn't have any hair.
Instead he recognizes her by her eyes, a stormy grey that jerk up from a book she was reading (there is a picture of a flame and the word 'Divergent' stamped across the cover and he briefly wonders what it's about). The look of surprise that quickly flickers across her features is replaced by an expression of annoyance.
"Can I help you?" she asks, her eyes going back to her book before the sentence is even out of her mouth.
He stares, open mouthed for a moment because he hasn't seen her since he watched her fade off into the distance a lifetime ago. "Uh…" is the only sound he can make.
She looks up at him again, this time a brow raised and a mixture of curiosity and animosity in her eyes. "'Uh' what?" she asks. "What do you want?"
"I'm, uh, looking for Dr. Collins."
She lets out a small huff and rolls her eyes, her attention going back to her book. "He's a five minute walk down the hall. Last room on the left." She says the words almost mechanically, as if she had said them a thousand times before and any interest she had in him was now lost.
"Thanks…" he says, waiting for her to say her name.
He stands there for a moment, not exactly wanting to leave, but not exactly wanting to stay either. Finally she looks up at him, as if just noticing he was still frozen in place.
"What's the matter?" she all but spits out. "Never seen a cancer patient before?"
He doesn't know what possesses him to do it, but next thing he knows he's collapsing into the seat near her bed. "Are you always this hostile?" he asks.
"Only to strange men who barge into my room without explanation."
That pulls a chuckle from him. "Fair enough, princess."
"Princess?" she scoffs, closing the book and setting it down in her lap.
He shrugs and uses the excuse he's always used. "It seems to fit." For a split second, he feels like he is back in ancient Rome and he swears he sees her white hospital gown replaced with tan dress and a shawl covering golden hair.
"How the hell does 'princess' seem to fit a seventeen-year-old bald chick with leukemia?"
The illusion is shattered and instead of seeing a Roman woman, he is brought back to reality to find a bald girl sitting in front of him with dark circles under her eyes and a pale complexion. "If you don't like it, how about you tell me your real name?"
She pauses, her grey eyes raking up and down his body as she inspects every inch of him. "Clarke," she finally says. "My name is Clarke Griffin."
He sticks out his hand for a shake. "Nice to meet you Clarke Griffin. I'm Bellamy."
"Well, 'Just Bellamy,'" she says, a slight mocking tone in her voice. "Is there any specific reason you're still in my room?"
"Maybe I just like annoying you." Leaning forward as if he's about to tell her a secret, he grins his most charming, boyish grin. "Admit it, I think you like me annoying you too."
She doesn't reply but he sees her fighting the small smile that is pushing its way past her lips. He hears someone clear their throat behind him and he whirls around to see a nurse with black hair standing in the doorway.
"I didn't know you were expecting a visitor, Clarke," the woman says.
She snorts. "I wasn't. He got lost and decided my room was a good place to hang out for a while." Looking to him, she waves her hand in between the general direction of the nurse and himself. "Bellamy, Raven. Raven, Bellamy."
"Well, sir," the nurse says. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave. I need to run some tests."
"Oh, come on, Raven," Clarke whines. "You didn't even bring me a new book this time."
A kind smile passes the older woman's lips as she looks at her patient. "You're still working on the one I gave you!"
He hears the grey-eyed girl mutter something about 'never having too many books' as he stands and heads towards the door. "Bye, princess," he calls over his shoulder. "Maybe I'll see you later."
"Doubt it," she calls after him. "Five minute walk down the hallway and last door on the left!"
He doesn't understand for a second, but then he remembers his entire reason for coming to the hospital in the first place. His talk with Finn is brief and to the point and he walks out of the hospital with a smile on his face.
Three days later he wanders into her room, and he swears he sees a smile of relief pass her lips before she can stifle it.
"Hey," he says, sitting down in the same chair.
She sets her book down (it's a different one than she had before). "What, did you get lost again?"
"It's a big hospital, princess."
It goes on like that for a few months. He finds himself in her room more often than he'd like to admit and one day her nurse approaches him and tells him that she's never seen Clarke smile as much as she has in the last few weeks.
One day, he even sneaks her outside.
Well, he doesn't really sneak her outside. He got permission beforehand, but he doesn't tell her that. He takes her around New York, down Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty, the Metropolis Museum of Art (which she loves) and ends the day by bringing her to an amazing ice cream place only he knows about.
He has to carry her back inside the hospital, she's asleep in his arms, but he brings her back to a beaming Raven and a tired, but grateful mother.
"She's seventeen," Abby Griffin says, "she deserves to have a little bit of fun."
He tells her stories, just like he did back when she was a dying queen of France, but this time she tells him stories too. She tells him about her father, who had passed away the year before in a car accident, she tells him about her best friends, Jasper and Monty, and how the two of them are always getting into trouble. She tells him about how she thinks Dr. Collins is going to ask out Raven soon and she tells him how afraid she is for her mother, that she'll have no one once her daughter dies.
Soon enough, he even finds himself staying the nights, sleeping in the chair beside her bed, waking her up when her nightmares come, rubbing small circles in her back as she leans over the toilet, vomiting in the dead of night.
There is one night when he is half asleep and he hears her small voice. "Bellamy?" she asks.
"Mmh," he blinks his eyes open, still half asleep. "Yeah?"
"Do…" he hears the hesitation in her voice. "Do you want to sleep in the bed with me?"
He sits there for a moment, half in shock, half wondering if she is offering it for his sake or for her own. In the end, he doesn't respond. He simply stands and climbs into bed, wrapping his arms around her and letting her head rest on his chest.
"Bellamy?" he hears her whisper again.
There is a long silence. "Thanks."
He doesn't know what to say in return, so he just tightens his arms around her and wonders if it's really a smile he sees on her lips in the dark.
He spends a night at home. She had insisted, telling him that he already spent too much time with her and he 'needed to get a life of his own.' It was only after she threatened to call hospital security on him that he finally gave in and slept in his own bed at his shoddy old apartment.
He stops at Barnes and Noble on the way to the hospital and picks up a copy of Allegiant (he knows she's been waiting to read it and it was just released the day before; he's honestly excited to see the expression on her face when she sees it).
As he walks into the hospital, he heads over to her room, D204, only to stop as he hears voices coming from it.
"Patient: Clarke Griffin. Diagnosis: Leukemia, Stage Four. Time of Death: 08:14 10/23/14." There is a long pause. "Such a pity. She was a sweet girl. Only seventeen too. Her birthday was next week."
He stumbles away from the door, the book falling from his fingers and his hand over his mouth. He turns and runs down hallways, through open doors, and down staircases. He bumps into nurses and doctors who ask him if he's all right but he keeps on running until he finds a deserted hallway. His back slides down the wall, his hands over his face as his breath catches in his throat.
Time of death: 8:14
It is 9:27.
He wasn't there. She had died and he wasn't there.
He feels his heart shatter in his chest and he feels the most intense pain he had ever felt in his entire life (he thinks perhaps his heart is slowly being ripped apart). He brings his knees to his chest and he cries like a child, tears streaming down his face.
He can't breathe.
He can't breathe.
She is gone.
She was a mortal. And mortals only do one thing best.
He should have known better than to fall in love with one.
August 23, 3581
Aboard the Imperial Space Ship (ISS) Acheron
She weighs on his mind for centuries. The different versions of her melt together in his mind and he feels a constant pain in his chest, a longing for her that he cannot quell no matter how hard he tries.
He feels bitter that she could not experience life as he did, that she could not go on adventures like she wished. He finds himself angry at the forces of the world for creating her the way she was created, so perfect, so pure, yet so fragile.
But his bitterness and his anger isn't the worst part. No, not by far.
The worst part is his hope.
His hope that he'll see her again. His hope that she'll remember him. His hope that somehow, he can spend the rest of his infinite life searching out the different versions of her and making each and every one of them fall in love with him as ardently as he was in love with her.
His hope is by far the most painful part of living without her. Because each and every time, the hope that swells inside of his chest when he sees gold hair glint in the distance, is crushed and all he feels is disappointment.
He has gone a millennium and a half without seeing her.
Later he'll admit it was a desperate attempt to escape the hope that plagued him that drives him to sign up to be aboard the ISS Acheron, a spaceship going on a nine-year journey to explore the outermost reaches of the galaxy. He thinks that perhaps it's best that he goes nine years living in a place where he'll have no hope of seeing her.
He is accepted and hired as first mate to Captain Marcus Kane, whom he meets within the hour. However, it isn't until after they blast off that he meets her.
Their first encounter is less than perfect. He doesn't even see her at first, he's walking down the main corridor of the ship with Kane, listening to the dark-haired man describe their doctor.
"She's a bit hotheaded," the captain says. "Young, too, but bright. Graduated early at the top of her class and her father is the head engineer back at A.R.K. But she was best suited for the mission out of all the doctors that applied, and I think she's going to be a valuable asset on the ship. Her name is Ceres Grail."
He's looking over his shoulder at Kane as he pushes through the door to the medical bay. "Ceres?" he scoffs. "What, like the dwarf planet? Who the fuck names their kid after a dwarf planet?"
As he turns forward, the next thing he feels is a sharp pain as a fist connects with his nose. He stumbles back into Kane, his hand flying up to his face and he curses as he feels blood on his palm and fingertips.
"You bitch!" he spits, his voice a mixture of disbelief and anger. "You fucking broke my nose! How the fuck-" He stops midsentence as he looks at her, really looks at her for the first time.
He sees blonde hair and grey eyes and his heart stops in his chest.
"My parents named their kid after a dwarf planet," she says before whirling around and walking away.
Kane is keeled over in laugher behind him and he's still in shock. "You better go beg for forgiveness," the captain manages to wheeze between his laughs. "She's the only one who can set your nose."
He knows how to fix his own nose, but he desperately needs to make sure she's real so he follows her down the hallway, his hand trying to stop the blood that's flowing down his face.
She does set his nose. But their interaction is less than pleasant, involving a lot of swearing, a few "Calm yourself, woman!"s, and far too many death threats on both their parts.
It's not exactly the way he imagined their great reunion.
The next few months are full of them arguing constantly. He finds himself wanting to rip his hair out whenever he's near her (the damn woman won't just accept his opinion on anything, she has to argue his every word). He nearly calls her Clarke a hundred times and she never calls him anything but First Mate Balin Everett, the name he signed up with.
He never stops arguing with her, but he never stops loving her either. Sometimes, he lets it show more than he means to.
Like when botanists Jasper and Monty play a prank that ends with her being pushed into a tub of bluish-purple slime. He's the one who, while laughing with the others, reaches down and offers her his hand to pull her out. All is going well and he only has slime on his hand until he pulls as she pushes and her balance is lost, causing her to fall on top of him.
She looks angry until her eyes meet his. He can feel himself smiling like an idiot as he looks into her grey eyes, and the expression of anger on her features fades into something like awe and confusion. She stays there, her chest pressing against his, until Jasper lets out a wolf whistle and the rest of the crew bursts out laughing again. It's only then that she scrambles off of him and the scowl returns to her face as she shoots him a dirty look.
It took him two hours to get the slime out of his clothes (he doesn't even want to think how long it takes her to get it out of her hair). But it was worth it. He knows it was worth it.
Little moments like that continue to happen between the two of them, but it never escalates much from there. He finds himself being happy just knowing that she's near, that the woman he's been haunted by for all those centuries is finally in a place where she can't just up and leave.
At least, he thought she couldn't.
They are exploring a new planet, an uncharted one, and she wanders too far away from the rest of them. He asks where she went a millisecond before he hears her scream.
There is no time wasted as he sprints through the dense foliage of the unknown land, yelling her name. He finds her lying on the ground, her whole body convulsing with a five-inch thorn from a nearby plant lodged just below her right collarbone.
There is foam coming from her mouth and her whole body is shaking as if she's having a seizure. He lifts her up and places her in his lap, yelling her name over and over again and begging her to stay with him.
"Ceres!" he shouts. "Come on, Ceres, stay with me!"
The scariest part is when her entire body goes limp. His blood freezes in his veins as he looks at her blank face, he eyes staring at something past him. "Ceres? Don't you die on me, princess!" She doesn't move and he feels the tears filling his eyes. Pressing his forehead against hers, he squeezes his eyes shut and hears his own voice crack as he whispers, "Don't die on me. Don't leave me. Come back. Come back, Clarke. Come back to me."
When he opens his eyes again, he watches as hers slowly focus on his face. Her fingers twitch where they had lain limply on the ground moments before and her body begins spasming again, this time as she begins to breathe. "B…Balin," she whispers the name he goes by and he can't help his arms tightening around her and his burying his face in the crook of her neck. He doesn't know how she does it, but somehow she finds the strength to raise her arm and tangle her fingers in his dark, curly hair.
That's how the rest of the crew finds them, with his face pressed against her skin and her hand in his hair. Everyone is silent for a while until Kane finally approaches the two of them and asks what happened. She sits up and points at a plant a few yards away, saying she was throwing rocks, trying to knock down some of the fruit hanging above it, and she accidentally hit the plant instead, causing it to shoot the thorn at her.
Kane nods and says it would be better if they all got off the planet as soon as possible.
She doesn't ask why he called her Clarke.
They get back to the ship, and after a few weeks of awkward tension, the first mate and the head doctor are back to their bickering ways. But this time, their fights are a little less intense, their words a little less scathing and everyone senses a newfound respect between the two leaders.
It's halfway through their third year when Kane dies and everything falls apart.
It was an explosion in the engine. Their captain shouldn't have even been down there but he had deemed it too dangerous for anyone else in the crew to go, so he had himself.
Then there had been the sound of a blast and a fire in the engine room, leaving them without a captain and stranded in space.
Bellamy finally understands why so few of the spaceships returned to Earth.
Later, she finds him up in the observatory, staring at the stars surrounding them. "I'm sorry," is all she says as she sits down beside him, her eyes following his gaze out into space. She knows that Kane and he were close.
He just nods in return.
It isn't the first mortal friend he'd lost and it sure isn't going to be the last.
He knows these next few months are going to be painful, watching his crew starve to death while he survives. But they are mortals. They only do one thing best. They die. As he stares out into the void, wondering how he's going to get out of this one, her words surprise him.
"You're the captain now."
He looks at her, surprised. "What?"
"I said you're the captain now. How do you plan on saving us all?"
There is a long hesitation before he replies, "I don't know if I can."
She rolls her eyes. She actually rolls her eyes, as if his statement is as stupid as asking what two plus two is. "You will," she says. "You always do."
She turns her gaze back to the stars and he's left to stare at her in bewilderment. Since when did she believe in him? Since when did she have such unquestioning faith in his abilities? He studies her profile, looking for some kind of set up, some kind of trick in her features, but he sees nothing but innocence and hope in her face.
She doesn't reply with words, just a small hum in acknowledgement of his question.
"I…I don't want to do this alone."
She looks at him and he swears he sees a ghost of a smile on her face (her smiles are so rare, he's learned to cherish them more than anything else in the universe). "I wouldn't let you if you wanted to."
He allows himself to actually smile, the same boyish grin he gave her when he first sat down in the chair next to her bed in the hospital at New York. "Good."
Turning back to the stars, she lets silence fall between them again. He hears her soft breathing and feels every small movement she makes beside him.
"Oh, and Balin?"
"Don't worry. You'll figure out a way to fix the engine."
And when he wipes the sweat from his brow and lets the wrench in his hand fall to the ground, the entire crew's cheers ring in his ears along with the sound of the humming mechanics and he doesn't miss the smile she sends his way. It's a smile he's waited thousands of years to see.
It is the middle of their fifth year when they reach the edge of the galaxy. It is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen in his entire life, and that's really saying something. A huge wall of light and color seems to block them from the rest of the universe, and as they fly through the phenomenon, he marvels to see what looks like a floating yellow planet in the middle of a circle of debris.
Turning to his co-leader and head doctor, he smirks and says, "You want to do some exploring?"
Her grin is all the confirmation he needs.
Just the two of them go down to the yellow planet, and when they land, they find it's more of an asteroid than a planet. A bubble-like atmosphere seems the only thing separating them from the rest of space, but as soon as they step out of the drop ship, they find themselves in a terrain similar to a desert.
Raising her hand, Ceres points to a small formation off in the distance. "What's that?" she questions.
He shrugs. "Want to check it out?" he asks, taking a few steps towards the silhouette.
"Why the hell not?"
The two of them walk for a while before the blonde woman stops, looking down at her arm. "It says the oxygen levels are normal here," she states, confusion in her voice. "We can breathe without suits."
"Are you sure?" he asks, raising his brow in skepticism.
"Yes, I'm sure!" she snaps in return and he puts his hands up in surrender. She shoots him a glare and he smirks, reminded of their first few months on the ship.
He makes sure to pull his helmet off first, just to see if it's safe for her (he's immortal. It will take a lot more to kill him than it will her.). To his bewilderment, he finds that it's perfectly safe and his blonde princess quickly follows suit.
"This is weird," she mutters under her breathe, and keeps walking. He lets her take the lead and follows, watching the way she moves as her feet pat lightly against the ground, her neck twisting as she turns her head to look in all directions.
Suddenly, she stops in her tracks. "That's…" she trails off, her voice weak with amazement and confusion. "That's not…possible."
Walking up to her side, Bellamy looks up to see what she sees, and his jaw drops open in shock.
They are standing in front of a gigantic, copper-colored tree.
In the middle of space.
With no planets with life in a million light-year radius.
"How…" he starts, and then trails off.
"I have no idea." She sounds just as baffled as he does. Ever so slowly, she begins walking towards the plant, and as she gets closer, it's as if the whole tree becomes metallic. The once dull color begins to shine and though it seemed to be solid copper when he first saw it, colors such as magenta and cyan now glimmer within the bark.
"Ceres, be careful," he calls after her, but he doesn't think she hears him. She is much too enraptured by the miracle before her. He takes a few steps forward, only to stop in amazement as the entire tree seems to spring to life.
Once dead branches have leaves sprouting from them and just before she places her hand against the bark, the entire tree shines brighter than the sun and Bellamy has to shield his eyes.
Everything flashes and he calls out her name.
He's blinded for a few moments afterwards. Then, the black spots finally disappear from his eyes and he can when he can see again, he sees the woman who he has fallen in love with walking towards him, a look of confusion on her face, as if she was trying to remember a dream after she had woken up.
Her expression does not change as she continues to look at him.
Instead she stops a few yards away from him, her tongue darting out to wet her lips before she pressed them together and furrowed her brow, her eyes still studying his face.
In an instant, everything seems to snap in her mind and her expression goes from confusion to awe-struck wonder. She opens her mouth and says a word he never thought he'd hear her say.
He freezes. His mind races as he tries to remember if he ever told her his real name in this life and his heart stops as he realizes he hasn't. There is no way she could know that-
His eyes snap to hers and the smile on her face grows as she runs and throws her arms around him, pressing her lips to his. He catches her in his arms, still shocked as she buries her hands in his hair and laughs against his mouth.
When she pulls away, there are tears of joy in her eyes. "I remember," she says. "I remember everything. Egypt. Rome. France. England. New York. Bellamy, I remember."
His sob is caught in his throat as he slants his lips against hers once more. He tastes her on his tongue and even after six millennia of life, he has never tasted anything sweeter. "I love you," he murmurs as he pulls away. "I love you, I love you, I love you." He can't say it enough. He can never say it enough.
"You've found me in every life," she whispers back, "and I have loved you in every one. I will always love you."
She pulls away to look into his eyes and he swears in that moment, he knows that fate exists and that everything, every encounter, every hardship, every experience in his long life, has been leading towards this moment.
"You will never lose me again," she promises and he swears his heart is about to burst with joy.
Because he had fallen in love with a mortal. And mortals only do one thing best.
(A/N Meh. Not my best work. I've decided AU's aren't really my thing, I felt like Bellamy was a bit out of character here, at least until the last meeting. I'll leave them to the professionals who some how manage to pull them off. Beated by the AMAZING blackravenswing who makes my heart explode with Bellarke feelings and love. Don't know why she puts up with me, but I love her! Feedback is appreciated!)