Written for 's Christmas Advent Calendar. Prompt: "friends w/ benefits to lovers"
She's been sleeping with Bellamy for almost a month when he asks her to go to his school's staff Christmas party with him.
She falters in her rhythm, sitting down hard enough on top of him that he lets out the smallest oof.
"What?" she says, breathless.
He groans and squeezes her hips. "You didn't have to stop."
The sigh he lets out is so big and dramatic that his chest heaves, which of course draws her eyes to his chest, which is currently naked and perfectly handsome and in her bed. It's quite distracting, honestly.
"I just thought you'd like to go," he says. "There's supposed to be booze, and we can critique Diana's toast for how blatantly racist and/or homophobic it gets."
Clarke makes a face; Bellamy teaches at the high school where they both grew up, and Principal Sydney is as awful as she was when Clarke was a student.
"The alcohol is reasonably appealing," Clarke says. "But why me?"
Bellamy frowns and starts rolling his hips under hers, deliberate; Clarke bites her lip and tries not to moan.
"Why not you?" he asks. "You're my best friend, aren't you?"
Best friends don't usually sleep together casually, Clarke thinks, but.
They've never been very good at sticking to the rules.
"Okay," Clarke says, and gasps when he grins and flips them over.
"It's going to be fun," he promises, and thrusts hard into her.
"I don't doubt it," she manages, and then she can't manage to say much at all.
Clarke and Bellamy are very, very good at having fun together. When they were in high school, they'd stay out until three in the morning to piss off her parents, just walking around town and using colored tape to change the names on street signs. Once they put green tape over the top of the 'g' in Foxglove Lane so the white letters read "Foxylove" against the background. And sometimes they'd go to AJ's Diner for the world's worst chocolate chip pancakes and vanilla shakes, and Bellamy would pretend not to notice when Clarke stole bites of whip cream off his stack.
Even when Bellamy's mom died, and he had to focus, become more serious, trying not to let Octavia go into foster care their sophomore year of college, they still managed to have fun. Clarke helped plan Octavia's fifteenth birthday party, and she and Bellamy ended up battling each other with dollar store silly string while all of Octavia's friends snickered and watched.
Nights walking around town turned into nights spent on the couch in Bellamy's apartment, watching Netflix—Clarke logged in, because Bellamy didn't have the money to spare on a Netflix account—so Octavia wouldn't be left alone. Even then, they had fun, watching the terrible movies recommended for them and fighting over the last decent piece of popcorn in a bowl full of kernels.
Octavia's in college now, and Bellamy's out of it, with a degree and a job, and Clarke had never been as proud of anybody as she'd been of Bellamy the day they graduated. She'd gotten a job too, eventually, and an apartment just a five minute walk from his, and she saw him nearly every day. They had fun, and she was so happy.
And then he went on a date.
"Bellamy never goes on dates," she'd said dumbly when Octavia had called her with the news.
"Well, he's going on one this Friday," the girl had said. She'd called Clarke while she was walking to her night class, something about the woman warrior in literature. "His mentor set it up, I guess?"
Clarke had rolled her eyes. Bellamy had to work under a fully-credentialed mentor teacher for his first two years before he technically completed the requirements for his own credential, and Clarke couldn't stand the guy who'd been assigned to Bellamy. Shumway taught physics, and he made Clarke's skin crawl every time she ran into him when meeting Bellamy for lunch.
"It'll be a bust," she'd decided, but Octavia had made a skeptical noise.
"I don't know, Clarke. He sounded pretty into it," Octavia had warned. "Apparently they've been texting all day."
Bellamy didn't mention the date to Clarke, and it took all of Clarke's self-control not to mention it herself, or call him Friday night with some excuse about how she needed him to come over and fix her showerhead or something instead of going on a date.
They were just best friends, and besides, he'd taught her how to fix her own showerhead two years ago. She had no right to interrupt him during dating hours.
So when Bellamy had texted her at exactly two minutes after nine, she'd stared at her phone for approximately three seconds, then scrambled to unlock the screen.
boooooooored, he'd texted. can i come over?
only if this is a booty call, she'd typed, and the second she sent the text, she wanted to die. What kind of friend sent texts like that? Bad ones, she'd decided, feeling awful. Sure, she teased him with texts like that all the time, but he had just gone on a date. He might be bored now, but he could have had a great time while actually on the date, Clarke had reasoned. It wasn't fair of her to send him fake booty call texts to try and distract him from a potentially awesome girl.
The little dot dot dot had disappeared from her screen without anything being sent, and she figured he'd rolled his eyes and taken her response as a 'no.' Which was fine, really; it's not like she had really meant it.
But then he'd knocked on her door twenty minutes later, hair ruffled and nose pink from the cold wind outside, and Clarke had smiled, relieved when she unlocked it and saw him there.
"Do anything interesting tonight?" she'd asked, casual, and he'd shrugged and stepped through the door and into her, until she'd stumbled back against the wall in surprise.
"Not yet," he'd said, crooked grin on his face, "but I'm about to."
And then he'd kissed her.
Clarke hadn't quite known what to do, because Bellamy was kissing her. He'd never kissed her before, not on the mouth, not with purpose and meaning and tongue. He'd kissed her on the head, or on the cheek, if he was feeling sweet, or on the hand if he was being dramatic.
But never on the lips, like he meant it, and she was shocked for a moment.
But it was Bellamy kissing her, which meant it was amazing, and perfect, and just right, so she'd kissed him back, and opened her thighs when his knee had nudged hers, and had sex with him up against the wall right there in her foyer.
And it was fun, and easy, like she and Bellamy had always been.
"God," Clarke had said afterward, trying to catch her breath. "We could have been doing that this whole time."
That was a month ago, and they've pretty much been doing that the whole time since. It's a little odd sometimes, sleeping with someone but not dating them, and Clarke catches herself wishing that they could kiss hello when she meets him at his classroom for lunch, or hold hands when Bellamy insists they go to the new exhibit at the history museum. But she chases those thoughts away, because even if they don't hold hands or kiss or cuddle (well, they still cuddle; they've always cuddled, but not romantically) they're still them. They're still best friends, and they love each other, and she gets really great orgasms out of it, so.
Being best friends with benefits is enough.
That's what she tells herself, at least.
She has a minor crisis over what to wear to the party. There's no specific dress code, and there aren't any suggestions on the internet about what kind of dress is appropriate when you're attending as the guest of your best friend slash fuck buddy.
Bellamy is no help when she asks; he just waves vaguely at her body and says to wear whatever she wants.
"You could do that thing," he does say, not looking at her. "With your hair."
"The thing?" she says dryly. "That's such a great idea, Bellamy, wow, thanks."
"I don't know," he says. He sounds grumpy, and Clarke bites back on a smile. "It looks soft, or something, whatever."
She texts Octavia the night of the party, staring at the contents of her closet while her hair sets in hot rollers.
Clarke's reasonably sure Bellamy has not told Octavia that he's sleeping with her. It's not like they're dating, which would be a reasonable thing to share with a sibling, and she thinks Bellamy would throw himself off a bridge before he chats openly about his sex life with his sister.
i don't know what to wear!
Clarke had texted Raven earlier to get her opinion, but Raven had figured out Clarke and Bellamy were having sex about two days after they started; her reply was a picture of a Santa negligee, and utterly unhelpful.
u have both more money and more dresses than i do, i do not know how u expect me to help u, Octavia replies almost instantly. wear something that makes b swallow his tongue, idk
Clarke groans, and then hears a knock on her front door.
That makes her frown; they only knock on each other's doors when they're locked, and she'd been expecting him, so she'd flipped the deadbolt a good twenty minutes ago. But there's no sound of the door opening, so she mutters a curse under her breath and starts unwinding her hair from the rollers. The dress she grabs from the closet still has the tags on it, some stupidly expensive thing her mother sent to her for her birthday, but she after she rips the tags off with her teeth and shimmies into the dark green dress, she has to admit her mother has good taste.
The neckline is sparkling with tiny little beads in a pattern like vines, and it reminds her of the 1920s, the way it hangs heavy and close to her frame until just below her hips, then flares out in a trio of pretty layers, ending just at her knees.
Another knock sounds at the door, so she slips into her shoes and fluffs her hair with her fingers, and hurries to answer it.
"Hey," she says, pulling open the door, "Why didn't you just come in?"
Bellamy doesn't say anything at first, and she can feel a flush creeping into her face. He's just staring at her, mouth a little open, and overall it's very gratifying.
"You, uh. Here," he says, thrusting his hand forward, and Clarke notices for the first time he's holding flowers. They're pink tea roses, small and delicate and lovely, and Clarke doesn't have the faintest idea what they mean. Bellamy doesn't bring her flowers, ever; he brings her soup when she's sick, Redbox movies when she's had a rough day at the gallery, her favorite Chinese takeout when her parents call and ask her, yet again, if she doesn't think she might have more career opportunities if she moved to the city, near them.
He even brought her jewelry once, his mother's set of pearls, to wear on their graduation day.
But he's never, ever brought her flowers.
"They're beautiful," she says softly, and the smile he gives her is just as soft.
"So are you," he says, and reaches out, letting his fingers graze the loose curls around her face. "You made your hair soft."
She shrugs, a little embarrassed. "You asked me to. Of course I did." She clears her throat, taking him in. He's not super decked out or anything, which would be weird for a high school Christmas party, but he looks nice in grey slacks and a white button-down. The collar's all messed up, likely from when he tugged on his coat, and she reaches out to fix it without thinking.
Her fingers brush his throat, and she can feel it move as he swallows, but otherwise he stays perfectly still.
"You look nice," she tells him belatedly. "I'll just—" she gestures toward the kitchen, then hurries to put the flowers in water.
The staff Christmas party is at the Red Lion just a few blocks away, and they walk in to see it looks basically like the Red Lion Hotel always looks, with lots of ugly red carpeting and gold accents everywhere. There's a poinsettia on every table, and a little artificial Christmas tree shorter than Clarke stands in the corner near a bored-looking DJ, who's playing Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" at deafening levels.
Clarke winces. "I didn't think they still played this version," she yells to Bellamy after they hang up their coats, who shrugs.
"I don't know, I kind of like this song," he yells back, and Clarke raises an eyebrow.
"You, Bellamy Blake, like this song."
"It's nice!" he says. "Shut up." Then he puts a hand on her hip, surprising her, and keeps it there as he leads them to the bar.
It's easy to have fun, even when she's making small talk with Diana Sydney and having to listen to the woman pontificate on the moral correctness of abstinence-only sex education, because at least she's with Bellamy, and she and Bellamy always have fun. And she's the one here with him, not whoever Shumway set him up with weeks ago, and he's always got a hand on her hip or an arm around her waist and it's not hard to pretend, with the rum warm in her stomach, that her wish came true. To pretend that this is real.
That they're not just best friends, or best friends who fuck sometimes, but best friends who are here, together. Maybe in love.
She tries not to think about the fact that she's not pretending that part, because thinking about that isn't fun, at all.
And she does a pretty good job, at least until Shumway joins the conversation they're having with Maya Vie, one of the French teachers, and her goofy boyfriend.
"Bellamy, good to see you," he says brusquely. Clarke can feel Bellamy's hand on her hip tense, and imagines he can feel her doing the same.
"Mr. Shumway," Bellamy returns, and Clarke tries not to make a face, but she thinks it's weird that the man insists that everyone call him by his last name, even his co-workers. "You've met Clarke, right?"
He smiles at her, a perfectly pleasant smile, but Clarke wraps her own arm around Bellamy's waist rather than offer her hand to Shumway.
"We've met, yes," he says. "I'm glad to see you've recovered from your illness."
Clarke blinks. "Excuse me?"
Shumway glances at Bellamy. "Your illness. Bellamy told me you were ill a few weeks ago, when he was supposed to meet a good friend of mine for dinner."
"Um," Clarke says when Bellamy squeezes her hip in warning. "Uh, yes, that's right. I, um, had the flu."
"Echo is still very interested in meeting you," Shumway tells Bellamy. "I could call her right now, if you like."
"He's busy," Clarke says sharply, before she can stop herself, and Shumway looks taken aback.
"My apologies," he says stiffly. "I was not aware that you and Bellamy had become an item."
"Oh," Clarke says, deflating a little. "Well, it's not exactly—"
"It's not exactly appropriate to be offering me a date when I'm clearly here with Clarke," Bellamy interrupts, voice calm. "Tell Echo I appreciate the thought, but I'm not interested in meeting anyone else right now." He nods to Maya and Jasper, both of whom had observed the conversation in wide-eyed amazement like one might witness some terrible accident. "Have a good evening."
Clarke lets him steer her toward the dance floor, away from Shumway, but once they're in the middle of dancing teachers, she scowls at him.
"What the hell, Bellamy?"
"Octavia told me you had a date," Clarke says. "You didn't even go?"
He shrugs, not looking directly at her. "Nope."
"Why not?" she demands. "Why'd you use me as an excuse?"
"Because I didn't want to," he replies irritably. "And because you were the reason."
Clarke steps back, surprised, and bumps into an older couple swaying to the music. "Sorry," she mutters, and the lady waves her apology away, tucking her head under her lover's chin.
"What did you say?" she asks Bellamy, who's now glaring at the ground.
"I tried to go on the date," Bellamy says finally. "God, I tried. Echo sounded nice, and interesting, and relatively normal compared to Shumway, and we were supposed to meet for drinks and sushi at Kobe. But I couldn't fucking go, okay?"
Clarke opens and closes her mouth several times before settling on "Why?"
Bellamy looks up at the ceiling, anywhere but at her, letting out a humorless laugh. "I'm not sure what I did, to make it so hard for you to figure out," he says. "Octavia's been telling me for years that I'm beyond obvious."
"Well, clearly I can't take a hint," Clarke says. Her heart is pounding now, probably going faster than is strictly healthy, like that time she and Bellamy got stuck going up on Space Mountain and she spent the whole time feeling like she was about to fall backwards.
"I'm in love with you." He looks her in the face, finally, and catches her hand in his, squeezing tight. "God, I've been in love with you forever, Clarke."
"Oh," she breathes, and his face falls a little.
"I, uh. Didn't really think it was actually going to surprise you," he says, forcing a smile.
"You—really? You love me?"
"Yeah," he says, and moves his fingers as if to pull his hand away. She holds on tighter instead.
"I thought we were just friends," she says quietly, and he moves closer so he can hear her over the music. "I thought—we didn't really kiss or anything, after that first time, so I thought you just wanted to be friends. And I was okay with that, mostly, as long as I still got to be around you."
"I'll always want to be friends with you," Bellamy says, like it's obvious. And really, it is. "You've been my best friend since tenth grade, and I'm never going to stop being friends with you. But I'm also in love with you, and I don't think that's going to stop, either."
"Okay," Clarke says. Bellamy stares at her.
"That's—okay? That's all you're going to say?"
"That," Clarke says, "and this." At that, she curls her hand around his neck and kisses him, right there in the middle of the Red Lion's event center, until he fists his hands in the back of her dress and kisses her back.
When she finally pulls back, his mouth is swollen, and he looks as dazed as she feels.
"Just for clarity's sake," Bellamy begins, "could I get a translation of that last bit, in English?"
Clarke smiles. "It translates to a lot of things, actually."
"Uh huh," she says, still grinning. "Like I love you, too, and we're both huge idiots, and what took us so long?"
"Is that so?" he says, grinning back now, and she winds her arms around him. "Anything else?"
"There's one more," Clarke says, "and I think you're going to like it. Because you're a huge dork."
He ducks down, brushing his mouth over hers once, twice, three times, sweet and tender.
Clarke stands on her tiptoes, whispers the words into his ear.
"All I want for Christmas is you."