Six Months Later
He blinks into the bright sun as he opens the door.
He feels a smile make its way onto his face as he quickly makes his way down the short amount of stairs. He feels his phone vibrate in his pocket as he reaches the bottom step. Without much of a thought, he pulls it out and swipes right to accept the call.
"How'd it go?"
He feels the smile on his face only continue to grow as he makes his way toward the parking lot. He can hear the anxious tone in his sisters voice and he debates if he should toy with her. He quickly recalls the aftermath of doing so last week and decides not to.
He takes in the brick buildings as he finally reaches his car. His smile feels like it could crack his face into two. "Short version or long version?"
There's a huff on the other end of the phone. "Just spit it out already. It's hard enough not being able to tell anyone else about this."
His mind quickly focuses on the smell of fresh cotton and a head of blonde hair. His mind always ends up going back to her.
He quickly comes back to the present when he hears his sister yell impatiently into the phone once again. He glances down at the papers in his hands as he gets to his car. He thinks about how shaky his hands were hours ago and how now, they are something close to resembling perfectly still.
He feels like a child. He feels somewhat proud of himself. He feels ignited. "I uh-." He smiles at himself. "I did it."
There's a moment of silence before there is a loud shriek that causes him to pull the phone away from his ear. He smiles even more.
His sister screams into the phone for a few more minutes before she lets out a deep breath. He can hear the smile in her voice. "When are you going to tell her?"
He thought about her again but when doesn't he think about her. It's been so hard keeping something from her, especially because he knows everything about her and vice versa.
He knows she hates mornings and that to get through them she needs coffee and jazz music. He knows that she likes sleeping in his t-shirts compared to her own. He knows that she likes routines but she can handle change. He knows that she's still figuring it all out.
She knows that if she kisses his neck if they get into a slight argument, all the tension leaves him. She knows that his favorite book is Atlas Shrugged and that it's practically falling apart at the seams. She knows that he likes fast music and slow dancing. She knows him.
The feeling and realization of that, won't ever stop amazing him.
He takes a breath before he talks back into the phone. "Tonight. We're going out to celebrate her finishing her portfolio."
"Such adults." He can still hear the smile in her voice. "Let me know how it goes or well, I'll just call non-stop."
He laughs. His sister moved out three months ago. He misses her but he's proud of her. She figuring it all out, too.
"Are you still coming over tomorrow?"
"Is Thanksgiving not my favorite holiday?"
He laughs again and ends the call with a bittersweet farewell. He glances at the papers in his hands and looks around at the buildings once more before opening the car door and situating himself into he drivers side.
The car still feels new and he feels a sense of pride in it as he runs his fingers against the leather wheel. He glances out the window for another second and takes a breath before he reverses and starts his drive home.
The word makes him smile and the fire that constantly feels like its burning in his bones only continues to grow. He's so different than who he was a year ago, let alone six months ago.
He feels lighter, happier.
He doesn't really know what the future will hold but he's no longer afraid of that fact. He knows he's different and he knows that he'll only continue to become someone he can be proud of. Someone she can be proud of.
He's pretty sure he smiles the entire way home and he doesn't even care.
He parks in front of the familiar apartment building and jogs up the stairs until he reaches the familiar door. He doesn't bother pulling out his key because he knows the door is unlocked, he lectures her about it daily but she claims that she can take care of herself and he really can't fight her on that.
The small space smells like a garden despite the fact that it's nearing winter. The walls are covered in framed artwork. There's too many pillows on the couch but he smiles when he thinks about the day he came home to her sewing at the cracked kitchen table with a grin.
He hears the shower and the faint voice of Louis Armstrong.
He pulls gently at the tie around his neck as he makes his way toward the bedroom. The walls are still bare except for the painting of Starry Night across from the bed (the bed which also now holds too many pillows). He runs his fingers across the blues on the wall before he plops down on the end of the bed.
He runs a hang through his hair as he takes a deep breath.
He looks in the doorway when he hears the familiar crack of wood in the hallway.
Her hair is damp and dark around her shoulders and the white towel clings against her skin as she makes her way into the room.
She jumps a bit in surprise that he's there but she continues to make her way toward him.
She places her hand onto his face and kisses the side of his head. He leans into her. "Hi."
She laughs softly in return and pulls away to look at him. "What are you doing here so early? Or am I running late?" She glances at the small alarm clock next to their bed. He can't stop staring at her. She flushes under his gaze. "What?"
He shrugs and reaches for her hands. "I just like looking at you."
She blushes still when he tells her things like this, it's the small moments he lives for.
"I look like a wet dog."
He shrugs and smiles more. Her skin still holds scars from the accident that took her father and although sometimes he catches her looking at them in a far off look, she's accepted them. She doesn't let them define who she is. He recalls the night three months ago when she told him that he helped her realize she was beautiful, scars and all.
If that's the greatest achievement in his life, he's okay with it.
She still in her towel when she crosses her arms and gives him a look.
She narrows her eyes and he watches a few droplets from her hair fall onto the floor. She cut it to her shoulders last week and he's basically in love with it. "You're acting weird."
He's still smiling. "How am I acting weird?"
Her eyes go wide as she gestures to him. "That! The whole smiling thing. It's really freaking me out." He laughs softly and watches her do the same. "Seriously, whats going on?"
He thinks about how she came into his life. How he used to wonder if he would even catch her if he hadn't been smoking outside The Ark on that cool summer night.
Looking at her now, watching her hair dripping onto the floor and her cheeks still flushed, he realizes he would without a doubt find her.
She's carved into him. He can't imagine a single day here on out, without her by his side. She's his partner. His lover. His best friend.
He never thought he deserved things in this life and he still struggles with that thought but he knows that out of everything in this world, he deserved every fiber of her. And she deserves every fiber of him, too.
He catches her hand then and feels it pulse in his own. It makes him feel so many things and it makes him feel brave. "I have to tell you something."
She tilts her head slightly to the side. The same head tilt she does when she camps out into the living with a canvas and set of paints. It's a head tilt he knows well. It's a head tilt he loves.
"Is everything alright?"
He catches the slight tension in her voice. She's grown a lot in the past few moments but moments like now, he can see her insecurity flash in like a wave against a shore; constant but not forever.
He nods and traces her hand with his thumb. There's a stroke of orange paint still holding onto her finger. It makes him smile.
He glances up at her and feels the nerves kick back in. He worries his lip and looks into the sharp blue eyes that are currently staring into him with curiosity and slight fear. He rubs her hand a bit harder before he speaks. He looks down. "I uh- I got into UNC."
Louis Armstrong's voice treks into the room then.
He looked up at her. At the smile slowly making its way toward her face. "I was going to tell you tonight at dinner but I just-."
His words get cut off when she throws herself into his lap. Her arms wind around his neck and her beautiful, soulful laugh enters his ears. His heart is racing and he can feel that hers is as well.
She's laughing lightly until she starts kissing his cheeks and then his mouth as quickly as she can. He finds himself laughing, too.
He thinks about all the planning he's done for this moment. All the work he put in to be accepted into the teaching program at UNC. How he was living and pushing past the doubt for the look that's currently on her face now. All those late hours. All those anxious thoughts were worth it.
She's worth it. He always tells her.
She gives him one longing kiss before she pulls away but remains in his lap. She brings her hands and places them on either side of his face. "Tell me everything."
They will probably be late to dinner.
He wouldn't have it any other way.
He's sipping coffee when there's a knock on the door.
He glances at the clock above the stove and smirks as he makes his way toward the door. He quickly opens the door and comes face to face with the familiar set of green eyes. "You have a key, you know?"
She rolls her eyes and pushes her way through the apartment. "Did you put the turkey in yet?"
He lets out a breath shuts the door. "Have you met, Clarke?" He doesn't have to look at her to know she rolled her eyes. "Where's Lincoln?"
"He was taking to long with his pies." She rolls her eyes and opens the fridge, pulling out the carton of milk. "Where's Clarke?"
He turns and watches as the familiar blonde makes her way out into the small kitchen. She's wearing a simple red sweater and jeans. Her face is makeup free and it still blows him away that someone that has her heart and beauty and grace, would see something good in someone like him.
He watches his sister and Clarke share a few minutes in their own little world. He watches them laugh as they share from the same glass of milk. His heart beats loudly in his chest.
The next few hours go by in a small blur. He drinks too much wine and he eats too much food but his sister smiles the entire time and Clarke's laugh seems to be a constant sound throughout the day.
He glances around the table and see's people he never thought would be in his life, be there.
He see's Lincoln, his sister's strong-headed boyfriend. A man he never thought he would like but he's getting there. He see's Wells Jaha. Clarke's best friend and surprisingly, one of his best friends now, too. He see's Jasper and Monty laughing together at whatever private conversation they are having. He see's his sister giggling along with Wells girlfriend as they talk about a class they share together at UNC.
He looks across the small cracked table and catches the familiar pair of blue eyes.
He opens his mouth to say something to her but is cut off by a soft knocking at the door. He tilts his head and watches as Clarke quickly sits up and throws the napkin from her lap onto her empty plate. She tucks a short piece of blonde hair behind her ear and heads toward the door.
He glances around the table before he stands up as well.
He reaches her just as she opens the door and he doesn't need to see her face to know she's probably disappointed at what is on the other end.
Her mother's boyfriend, Marcus Kane, stands before them with a covered dish and a sheepish, sad smile.
He knows that it took a lot for Clarke to invite her mother over to their apartment for the holiday but after she had moved out six months ago, her mother had somewhat ended most ties. He thinks back to the night she cried in the bathtub because she had gotten into the art program at UNC and her mother had cut her out of her life. The memory still makes him feel sick and angry.
"Clarke, Bellamy." Marcus smiles brightly. He's glad Clarke has some sort of parental figure in her life. Her relationship with Marcus is different but he know's that he's been in contact with her over the past few months. He even came to her art show last month.
"Marcus." Clarke says softly, trying to cover up the disappointment in her voice. "Hope you're hungry. We have a lot to eat."
She glances at him then. He holds her arm back as Marcus walks past them. She quickly wraps herself into his embrace.
"It'll be alright."
"I know." Her face is pressed into his chest that he can barely hear her. He pulls her away slightly and stares down at her face.
"She doesn't deserve you, you know." He tucks a piece of hair behind her ear. "I don't deserve you either-." She starts tot cut him off but he places his finger gently across her lips. "I don't deserve you either but I'll fight like hell to make sure you're always here with me."
"Yeah." His voice is soft. "A world without Clarke Griffin isn't a world I wanna live in. A world most people don't ever wanna live in." Her eyes fill with tears then and he reaches down to wipe them away. He vows to always wipe away her tears, even if he's the cause of them. "You're it for me."
She takes a steadier breath. She's learned to control her anxiety. She no longer counts in her head when she's scared. She no longer hides away. She's learned a lot about herself in the past few months and he's so proud of her. He tells her so.
When there's a smile back on her face, he starts to head back toward their friends, their family but feels something pulling him back. He turns his head and watches her lean up and kiss his cheek.
Her smile is breathtaking.
"You're it for me, too."
"Did you think it would end up like this?"
He glances away from Wells and Clarke chatting on the couch to his sister standing beside him with a washrag in her hands. The smile on her face still just as bright as it was earlier.
She tilts her head to him. "Our lives." She looks into the living room and her smile gets wider.
He splashes his hands into the water. Did he think he would be here in this exact moment? Honestly, no but he had always hoped he would. He always dreamed he would.
And he had.
He has a sister who is becoming more and more of the woman he knows she can be.
He has a girl who has his heart in every single way a person can.
He turns his head and looks back at the dark hair of his sister. "No." He says truthfully. He watches her head turn back and her eyes stare at him. "But I'm happy we did."
Her smile isn't as big but it's brighter and it makes him proud. "I am too."
He nods and pulls his hands out of the water. "Octavia." He's not good at words but he's getting better. "I just want you to know how proud I am of you."
Her eyes twinkle. "Back at you, big brother."
He promised to always look after her when he was younger and although he knows he always will, he realizes then in this moment, surrounded by their friends and family, she can look just fine after herself.
The smile on his face lasts all night.
He dreamed he was falling.
He opens his eyes and takes in the dark room. His breath is coming out in short bursts and it causes the body beside him to awaken as well.
"You alright?" Her voice is soft and full of sleep.
He feels his heart slowing down. "Yeah. I think so."
She turns in his arms and pushes her head into his neck. She weaves her legs between his. "It's just a dream."
He nods against her head and kisses her forehead.
He wraps his arm around her and holds on.
Falling is easy as long as you have someone worth landing for.
And he does.
[Thanks so much for reading! :)]