Beauty and the Alpha
by Red Hope
"Mom," Clarke rasped. She hesitated, for a heartbeat. Everything was a dream to her, a nasty nightmare that had sharply come to an end. But a firm grip on her shoulder grounded her and chased off her earlier fears. Her mom was still alive and okay.
"Go to her," the commander ordered.
Clarke exhaled and released the last snake of dread that had been coiled around her heart. She nodded at Lexa then hastened across the short distance in the busy room. She rushed past other Skaikru until she collided into her mother's solid, warm body.
Off to the side, Marcus Kane watched on then looked over his right shoulder. He sighed in relief at seeing the commander, Lexa, still with them. He visually counted at least a dozen grounder warriors that swept through the room to corral the few Mountain Men that survived the irradiation.
Clarke continued holding her mom. Earlier, she was positive that she would have lost her mom. Cage had been drilling her mother, for something other than just bone marrow. Her mom was drilled out of prejudice and hate. There was nothing good in Cage's heart, only selfish needs. It forced Clarke's hand, and she had to make the ugliest decision thus far.
Abby kissed the side of her daughter's head. She squeezed Clarke even harder. Her heart twisted after her daughter's low whimper. She held down her own because she wanted to be strong for Clarke. Abby knew what her daughter had done to save their people and even the grounders. Worriedly, she withdrew but still held onto Clarke's sides.
"I tried," Clarke confessed. She had glistening eyes from tears that held in place. "I tried to be the good guy."
Abby swallowed and saw the pain burrowed deep in Clarke. Most people would miss it, but Abby knew her daughter best, even with all the recent changes. Abby still knew her child. "Maybe there are no good guys."
Clarke weighed her mother's words. Somehow it absolved half the guilt in Clarke. She frantically nodded in hopes her own acceptance in absolution would save her. When her mom drew her in for another hug, she nearly fell into it because of her need to disappear from today's events. She finally steeled herself and remembered what was happening around them. It was an end of a bloody war and now the aftermath had to be handled by her. Clarke ended the hug.
Abby kissed her daughter's temple one last time. She nodded at the hardened features on her daughter's face. She understood Clarke's will to continue as a strong leader for their people. "Go," she softly insisted. "I'm okay now."
Clarke swallowed and gave a low nod. She hesitantly left her mother on the table. She went directly to the commander, who stood near the grounder warriors. "How are things looking?"
Lexa nodded at her counterpart. "We have seven prisoners so far." She indicated the small group of Mountain Men that her warriors had captured both in the hallways and in the room. She studied Clarke's blood spattered features. She suspected the blood was from Dante Wallace, who had been shot by Clarke. She wanted to offer comfort to Clarke for the hard decisions made today, but there were others around them. Lexa shifted on her feet, but the chance was stolen from her when Octavia Blake came to Clarke's side.
Clarke grew wide eye at Octavia's observation. "Shit," she hissed. She hastily scanned the room and realized he was truly gone. That damn monster had slithered out when they raided the room. She looked to the commander.
"I will send hunters after him," Lexa swore. She had bright green eyes against her war paint. She nearly called an order to her warriors. But, she was cut off again by another Skaikru.
"Clarke… Clarke," Jasper Jordan called. He hastened to his friend with another person in tow.
Clarke stiffened at seeing the person behind Jasper. The green suit, mask, and long filter nose would always haunt Clarke's mind. She calmed at seeing the friendly features behind the mask. "Maya." She was relieved and thankful that Jasper had managed to get the suite for Maya in time.
"What are we going to do now?" Jasper insisted. He looked at Maya in question. "She'll be dead if she takes off the suite and the facility is completely-"
"Alright," Clarke cut off. She touched Jasper's arm. "Get Maya back to Camp Jaha and get her into that containment unit… the same one we put Emerson in."
Jasper listened finally rather than being irrational since the start of the battle for Mount Weather.
"Then my mom can perform the bone marrow transfer," Clarke explained.
Jasper took a deep breath and nodded. He looked at Maya.
"You should go now," Clarke insisted, "So Maya has enough oxygen."
Jasper nodded. "I'm going to go get Bellamy and Monty."
"I'll get Bellamy," Octavia offered. She left the small group in search of her brother.
Clarke agreed with the idea and offered a weak smile to Maya. She opened her mouth but suddenly a grounder warrior quickly approached them with a sword at the ready. She realized he was after Maya and hastily inserted herself between Maya and the warrior.
"Hod op," Lexa ordered the warrior. She slotted her eyes at the warrior until he backed away from Maya.
Clarke touched Maya's shoulder and told them, "Go."
Lexa turned to the warrior. "Goch emo kom maun op."
"Sha, Heda." The warrior slightly bowed to his commander then left with the Skaikru once they were ready to go.
Lexa focused on Clarke. For just a second, she wanted to speak to Clarke, alone. But again, she was denied the chance after a familiar voice called out her title.
Lexa turned on her heels to the right and looked at the entrance to the room. A hint of relief briefly flashed across her features before she demanded, "Hani?" She watched the second group of warriors flood into the room with their prisoners.
Clarke remained quiet, but she looked from Lexa to the commander's former mentor.
Anya signaled the warriors to take the two prisoners over to the others in the corner. After the warriors passed them, she focused on the commander. "Fotin gona stedaun, Heda."
Clarke was simply relieved that Anya was still alive after the battle. When Lexa had sent Anya off with a team of warriors, Clarke pictured Anya taking another gunshot to the stomach similar to a month ago. The only difference was this time Clarke would not be able to save Anya again.
Anya cut her honey brown eyes from the commander to Clarke Griffin. "Skaikru?"
Clarke realized that Anya was just as bloody faced as her and Lexa. She nodded at the question then quietly answered, "Klir." She nearly touched Anya's arm, but she faltered and merely offered, "Mochof, Onya."
Lexa regarded her former mentor and the Skaikru leader. She knew the story behind Clarke and Anya's first meeting. Anya's respect for Clarke was the very reason Lexa had listened to Clarke rather than strike her down. She put away the difficult memories that seemed like a lifetime ago.
"Have you seen Lincoln or Indra yet?" Lexa questioned.
Anya shook her head.
"You should go check," Clarke pressed the commander.
Lexa silently conceded. She had no idea what had become of them, but they each were sent off on a mission. Indra had orders to free their own people that were imprisoned by the Mountain Men. Lincoln was doing the same, but from a different angle of attack. It would also give her a chance to have warriors hunt down Cage Wallace.
"I will handle the prisoners, Heda."
Lexa nodded at Anya's offer. She took a step but faltered and looked at Clarke. Without words, she asked Clarke if she was okay.
Clarke had to tilt her head back to get a better view of the green eyes behind the war paint. She gave a curt nod in answer.
Lexa turned away and started to the exit. She called for several warriors to accompany her.
Clarke waited until Lexa was gone before she looked at Anya. "What will happen to the prisoners?"
Anya was resting her hand on her sword. She slotted her eyes at the Mountain Men in the corner. "It is Lexa's decision."
Clarke understood that most likely Lexa would kill them. They were war prisoners that fought for the wrong cause. They had taken blood from grounders and stole bone marrow from Skaikru. She sighed then mentioned, "Cage got away."
Anya barred her teeth and growled low. "And Dante?" She lost her angry features when she smelled a distraught air from Clarke.
"He's dead," Clarke quietly answered. She looked over at her people. "I should…"
Anya reached up and clutched the young woman's shoulder. "Ste yuj, Klark." She squeezed once then let go and went on her way.
Clarke brushed a wild strand behind her ear. She started over to her people. It would be a long walk back to Camp Jaha. As their unofficial leader, she readied her people to leave the mountain and return home. Once she was sure everybody was ready to travel, she led the group out of the room. Anya had already left with the warriors and prisoners.
The journey to Camp Jaha went by in a rush. Clarke had started at the front of the group and eventually ended up in the back as they drew closer and closer to Camp Jaha. She found Monty at her side. He wanted to be her foundation, but Clarke was too consumed by her guilt.
At the open gates of camp, Clarke lingered for a moment until Monty gave her a hug. She returned his comfort and whispered a thank you to him. Monty's constant faith in her eased the blow to her heart.
Bellamy waited until Monty was gone before he neared Clarke. He had impatiently waited at the gates for the group to arrive from Mount Weather. "I think we need a drink."
Clarke gave a broken laugh and met Bellamy's messy features. She only saw dirt and grime on his face, unlike her own. But it was Clarke who had handled the dirty work. It was her finger that pulled the trigger and her hand that pulled the switch. Bellamy was free and clear of the horrors of Mount Weather.
Bellamy moved closer to his friend. "Clarke…"
Clarke shook her head.
"We'll get through this," Bellamy promised.
Clarke swallowed and looked towards their people. "I don't know if I will," she confessed. Somehow giving life to the truth pushed down on her shoulders even more. Her heart thrummed against her heavy chest.
Bellamy stepped in front of his friend. He grabbed her arm, gently. "If you need forgiveness…" He searched her eyes and relived the memories from in the Control Room of Mount Weather. "I'll give that to you." He could see his words failed to break Clarke's guilt. He moved in closer and insisted, "You're forgiven."
Clarke briefly closed her eyes and cut off Bellamy's desperation. She took a deep breath and whispered, "I'll see their faces."
Bellamy wondered if Clarke meant the faces of the dead or the living. He found blue eyes on him again.
"I'll always be reminded of what I did."
Bellamy slid his hand down until he had Clarke's gloved fingers tangled in his own. "What we did."
"No," Clarke sadly argued. "I did it." She remained in control even though the pain bled in her heart. "I made the decisions… I chose to wipe them out." She saw her hand on the switch again. She wanted the memory to go away, but she continued to see it. The switch's soft click was a deafening sound in Clarke's mind, forever.
"Not everybody," Bellamy argued.
Clarke huffed. "Those prisoners will be dead in days." She looked towards the camp. "And Maya?" She swallowed and whispered, "Is she really that lucky? She'll be the last one alive."
Bellamy wished he could break through Clarke's guilt. He was at a loss and wondered if there was a way to free Clarke.
"I bare it so they don't have to," Clarke whispered. She squeezed Bellamy's hand then released it. She walked past her friend and continued into the camp. She would bare it, until it destroyed her. And that included putting the pieces back together. Maybe once she worked out a true peace with the grounders then she could find her own. Yet whispers in her head told her it was all a lie.
Bellamy followed behind and listened to the gates shut after he was inside the camp. He paused and watched Clarke go over to Raven Reyes. He then went to Octavia.
By sunset, Camp Jaha had settled down and became quiet. Many ate their dinners in relative silence in the dining room. The only exception was Clarke Griffin. She was hardly hungry and instead helped her mother get to bed. Most likely it would be a few days before Abby was on her feet again. Clarke wanted to make sure her mother healed correctly.
After Abby was in bed, Clarke slipped into the small bathroom of their quarters. With her back against the door, Clarke slumped and fought not to fall apart any second. She pushed off the door and started the shower on the other side. She had hoped the warm water would clean off the blood, but Clarke quickly realized the Mountain Men's blood had long ago soaked through her skin and would always be there.
Eventually Clarke collapsed in her bed without any light. She was drained to the bottom and fell into a deep sleep for several hours. Closer to daylight, the nightmares attacked her and jerked her awake with a low cry. She hastily climbed out of bed and gathered her wits. Slowly the nightmare slithered back in the recesses of her mind, until another time.
Abby had awakened already and was in the bathroom. She moved carefully and came out to find her daughter making breakfast. She suspiciously wondered why there was only one plate until Clarke insisted that she had eaten already. Abby doubted it but made no further objections, for now.
Clarke allowed her mother to eat alone. She left the quarters and went in search of her friends. She wanted to check on everybody and also Maya. She suspected Jasper was with her. She found her friends gathered in one of the old hangars. Clarke was greeted with quick hugs.
"How is she doing?" Clarke asked Monty.
Monty shrugged and replied, "As good as can be when she's stuck in a box." He slouched against the table that his friends occupied.
Clarke sighed and promised, "My mom will help her."
"She'll probably have to get Dr. Tsing's research," Raven brought up.
"Which means we're going back to Mount Weather," Monroe summarized.
"Well what about all the supplies in there?" Harper started.
Clarke halted her friends. "We can't go in there… not yet."
"The Trikru have guards at all the entrances," Octavia mentioned. She had seen them when they left the facility.
"We can't let those supplies go to waste," Nathan Miller argued. He looked between his friends.
"Just wait," Clarke cut in, again. "I need to talk to Lexa first." She lowered her hand back to the table. "If we get anywhere near the facility, it's hard to say what those guards will do."
"It depends on their orders from Lexa," Octavia reminded.
"We should have those supplies," Nathan continued. "I mean we did bring down the mountain. The grounders would still be fighting them and-"
"Miller," Clarke bit.
Nathan snapped his jaw shut. "Sorry," he softly offered.
Clarke sighed now that she had cut off her friends' rebel ideas.
"When are you leaving, O?" Bellamy had been quiet until the conversation brought up the grounders.
"I need to go soon," Octavia replied. "I'm sure Indra is getting impatient." She was more concerned about Lincoln, who missed her. She wanted to see him.
Clarke focused on Octavia. "You're going to the grounder camp?"
Octavia only nodded.
"I'm coming with you," Clarke decided.
"Why?" Raven questioned.
Clarke looked to her closest friend. "I need to find out where we stand with the grounders… now that the war is over."
"Won't your mom handle that?" Harper questioned.
"Please," Raven dramatically replied. "Abby may be a great doctor, but she sucks at the chancellor part." She then quickly looked at Clarke. "Sorry. No offense but-"
"No… no you're right." Clarke chewed on her lip then reminded, "Besides, the alliance was between me and Lexa… not my mom and Lexa." She looked over at Octavia, who sat between Bellamy and Monroe. "Can we leave in an hour? I need to get a few things." She also wanted to see Jasper and Maya.
Octavia nodded. "We can take the horses."
"I'm coming with you two."
Clarke blinked and looked at Raven. "What?" She shook her head. "You're not coming with us. You can barely walk, Raven." She wanted her friend to rest and heal from the drilling done to her leg.
"You're taking the horses," Raven reminded. "I'll ride with you."
Clarke wanted to argue further but Monroe cut her off.
"You're only going to lose this fight."
Clarke glared at Monroe even though it was true. She huffed and muttered, "Fine." She got up and looked directly at Raven. "Be ready in an hour." Sometimes Raven's smirk pissed her off.
Raven nodded and watched Clarke leave them, yet she called, "Toodles." She chuckled at the glare thrown her way. Once Clarke was gone from the hangar, she worriedly sighed and leaned against the table.
"Why are you going?" Wick checked. He was clearly unhappy about Raven leaving the camp.
Raven peered over at Wick and simply explained, "Because if anybody needs help… it's Clarke." She refused to tell him anymore. She knew Clarke enough and what had happened in Mount Weather was gnawing away at Clarke from the inside.
In an hour's time, the three friends gathered around the horses. Clarke hooked her things and Raven's satchel to the horse's saddle. She looked to Octavia. "I think we'll need your help."
Octavia seconded it and came over to the pair. Together, they boosted Raven into the saddle and then mounted the horses next. Octavia knew the way so she led them out of camp and into the woods.
"How did your mom handle it?" Raven asked.
Clarke shrugged. "She handled it." She shifted in the saddle and became more comfortable. "I promised her I'd be back in two day or three days."
"I guess Kane will look after her?"
Raven tightened her arms around Clarke's waist. "They're awfully chummy now."
Clarke frowned but knew that Raven was right. She recalled Kane embracing her mother yesterday after the battle was over. "My father is probably spinning in his grave." She toyed with the reins. "My mom likes the man that arrested him for treason."
Raven weighed the distraught in her friend's tone. She squeezed her arms around Clarke and softly reminded, "We're all different people now, Clarke… since we landed here."
Clarke agreed that nobody was the same as they were up in the sky. Their lives on the ground remolded them all. "I know," she whispered.
Raven let the discussion die. She rested her cheek against her friend's shoulder. She eventually dozed off and only woke up when she heard Octavia's voice. She shook away the fuzziness in her head and heard Octavia call out something else but it was in Trigedasleng. She realized they were probably close to the grounder camp.
Raven wondered if her friend read her mind. She straightened up and freed one hand. She reached behind and fingered her handgun. She knew better than to draw it, but she was comforted by its presence.
"Just act natural," Clarke offered. She gave a faint nod to the two grounder warriors that stood off to the side. She suspected they were apart of patrol. She was surprised when the two warriors nodded back at her. Never had that happened in the past.
Raven grumbled at the poor advice. She had yet to let any defenses down around a grounder. They were all too intense for her.
"This way," Octavia told the pair, over her shoulder. She guided them past a few trees and slowed when the grounder camp emerged in the open valley.
Clarke decided to dismount and kicked the stirrups off her boots. "Stay on the horse," she ordered Raven. She hopped out of the saddle and took the reins. She ignored all the stares from the grounder warriors. She was fairly use to it anymore.
Octavia had dismounted too and walked alongside Clarke, deeper into the camp. She slowed when a grounder came towards them.
Clarke had a slight smile. "Anya," she greeted.
Anya went directly to Clarke and held out her arm. "Monin, Klark kom Skiakru."
"Mochof," Clarke offered. She took Anya's arm in a firm hold. She was learning the Trikru customs and often picked up new words in Trigedasleng. "Ha yu?"
"Os," Anya replied. She released arms. "Yu?" Her normally guarded features had long vanished around Clarke. Her eyes were a bright brown.
Clarke only nodded at Anaya's question. She cleared her throat and explained, "I came to see Lexa."
Anya assumed so. "And Heda will want to see you." She could answer for her former second.
Clarke was relieved but asked, "Where can we take our horses?" She indicated hers and Octavia's own.
Anya slightly turned and signaled two warriors to get the horses. "They will be taken to the corral with the others." She looked to Octavia. "Lincoln is eager for your return."
Octavia had a smirk. "I know."
Clarke drew away from the group and went over to Raven. She held up her arms and helped her friend down from the horse. She allowed Raven's hand on her shoulder, for extra support.
Raven tested her own strength and pain. She slowly joined Octavia and the grounders.
Once Clarke was sure Raven was okay, she looked at Anya. "You remember Raven, right?"
Anya's earlier friendliness had vanished upon seeing the new Sky person. "Sha," she coolly answered. "The one that blew up my bridge."
Raven rolled her eyes and argued, "That was a long time ago."
"Merely weeks ago," Anya countered.
Clarke curiously watched the exchange, not quite sure what to make of it.
Raven smiled at the general. "You need to let that bridge go." She shrugged and admitted, "It was a nice bridge though."
A low rumble came from the back of Anya's throat. She huffed and emphasized, "It was." Her attention cut to the warriors that took the two horses. She looked at Clarke. "Will you be staying long?"
"Two or three nights," Clarke replied. "If we can," she hastily added.
Anya bowed her head briefly. "I am sure Heda will agree." She started turning but paused and looked back at Clarke and Raven. "However, this one may have to sleep with the horses." She pointed at Raven.
"Hey," Raven fought. "I-" She was stopped by the hand over her month. She glowered at Clarke, even after Clarke dropped her hand.
"Anya is kidding." Clarke understood the general's sense of humor. It had taken her time to figure it out, but she enjoyed the rare moments Anya teased her.
Raven looked from her friend to the grounder general. She released a breath after she saw the glint in Anya's eyes. "So funny I forgot to laugh," she retorted.
Anya was hardly fazed by the Sky girl's ire. She revealed a smirk and taunted, "And your emotions are as subtle as a pauna."
Raven opened her mouth but was halted again by Clarke.
"Don't," Clarke ordered her friend.
Raven took a deep breath and slowly let it out. "You said to act natural." She missed Anya's quiet chuckle at both of them.
"Follow me." Anya led the Skaikru through the camp. They had to go up to Lexa's tent overtop of the valley where all the officers stayed, unlike the warriors in the valley.
Eventually Octavia broke off because Lincoln had found her. She promised to find Clarke and Raven at another time. She wished Raven luck because she knew the mechanic needed it.
The walk up to Lexa's tent was slow due to Raven's injury. Clarke noticed a sheen of sweat on Raven's brow by the time they were on the top. It was a cool autumn day so it was from Raven's pain. She wanted Raven to rest, but she knew what Hell she would hear if she brought it up. She would have to think of another way.
Once at the entrance of the tent, Anya asked Clarke to wait, and she slipped in to check on Lexa first. She only made it two steps in and found the commander standing tall in the center. She noticed how Lexa stared through Anya, towards the tent flaps.
Without any prelude, Anya simply explained, "She came to see you, Heda."
Lexa inhaled deeply, as if determining something. "Who is with her?"
"Bring them in," Lexa ordered. She remained still while her general hurried out.
Anya escorted the two Skaikru into the commander's tent. She noticed Raven's strain from the walk up to the tent. She held her tongue though.
Lexa curiously considered why Raven was with Clarke. By Raven's heavy limp, she could tell the mechanic was injured from the battle. She kept silent though. However, she softened inwardly at the slight smile from Clarke.
Clarke turned to Raven and suggested, "You should sit."
Anya was on the move and grabbed a stool from under a small table. She brought it to Raven.
For a second, Raven stared oddly at the general.
Anya grumbled at the look and merely stated, "We are not savages, and you are a guest."
Raven was uneasy for a second. "Thank you." She took the seat.
Anya looked to Clarke and mentioned, "I will located a tent for you and Raven for the next two or three nights." It was her way of informing Lexa of the plans. She did look to the commander for confirmation.
Lexa gave a curt nod.
Anya slipped out of the tent, on a mission.
Lexa had yet to leave her spot. She kept her stony features.
Clarke approached the commander but stayed a certain distance.
"I did not expect to see you soon, Klark." Lexa hooked her hands behind her back, which caused her long coat to briefly sway.
Clarke felt drawn to the commander's strength. She wished they were alone so they could be less formal. "Yeah… I'm a little concerned about this alliance… our truce." She folded her arms. "Now that the war is over."
Lexa moved her head in agreement. "I understand." She sighed low, almost silently. When she took a deep breath, she smelled metal and fire. She knew it was Clarke's natural scent, and Lexa had grown to appreciate it. "Your concern is well placed."
"God… I hope that doesn't mean what it sounds like," Raven complained. She found two sets of eyes on her. "Because it really sounds like another war."
Lexa noticed Raven's words had rattled Clarke a little. She nearly reached for Clarke but halted herself. "It is not the Trikru that is the concern, Klark."
Raven narrowed her eyes. She listened to what came next.
Lexa had worried sky blue eyes on her again. "The war against the Mountain Men united the twelve clans. Now that war is over and…" She allowed Clarke to fill in the blanks.
"Will the clans break apart again?" Clarke checked.
Lexa was truthfully unsure and flexed her hands behind her back. "It is too early to tell."
Clarke wanted to ask several questions, but she remembered Raven was with them. Then suddenly her prayers were answered because Anya reentered the tent.
"I have secured a tent for you," Anya told Clarke.
"Chof," Clarke offered.
Anya then neared the seated mechanic. "I will escort you to it."
Raven rolled her eyes and slowly stood. "Yeah yeah." She was next to the grounder general. "I know when I'm not wanted around."
Clarke chuckled and took a step closer to her friend. "Go rest, Raven." She glanced at Anya and silently thanked her for taking care of Raven.
Raven peered up at Anya and realized just how much taller the general was compared to her. She looked at Clarke and Lexa only a few feet from each other. It was the first time she noticed the stark height difference between them. Raven briefly considered whether there were growth hormones in the grounders' food. She shook off the weird idea and instead left the tent with Anya.
Lexa waited until Anya and Raven were gone before she moved towards Clarke. "How are you, Klark?" Now closer to Clarke, she sensed the heightened emotions that hummed from Clarke. She knew it was from what happened in the mountain.
Clarke shook her head at the question. She wanted to focus on the discussion about the alliance rather than herself. "So what's going to happen…" She lost her train of thought when Lexa took another step. Her personal space was taken over by the proximity of the commander. Her natural reaction was to move, but she held her ground firmly. "Lexa, I'm fine." They were this close yesterday afternoon when they shared a kiss. Yet, that seemed like a lifetime ago. Somehow Clarke felt like a part of her from yesterday was now drowned by the death from the mountain.
"You are not fine," Lexa argued.
Clarke was forced to tilt her head back because the commander towered over her so greatly. She locked eyes and even mental horns. "We need to figure out what to do about this alliance. My people-"
"Can wait a few minutes," Lexa cut off. She lowered her head closer to Clarke. She was overwhelmed by what she smelled around the Skaikru leader.
Clarke's back was ramrod straight when Lexa bent over her. She and Lexa rarely invaded each other's space unless it was for a show of power. She tried understanding why Lexa was pushing her resolve. She denied Lexa the pleasure of her own weakness and continued holding her ground. She only became confused when Lexa distinctly smelled her.
"You are hurting," Lexa whispered. Her lips were close to Clarke's ear.
Clarke closed her eyes and warred with her emotions that wanted to spill out into the open. "I'm… I'm fine," she weakly insisted. Yet, her body betrayed her. She reached for Lexa's hips that were solid.
Lexa lifted her arms but hesitated to touch the Skaikru leader. Her hands hovered inches from Clarke's side. "I want to help you, Klark."
Clarke shut her eyes after the words rumbled low in Lexa's chest. She felt every syllable drive through her armor. She twisted her fingers in Lexa's coat. Again she was betrayed by her body's need for comfort. Clarke moved forward and finally pressed into Lexa. All the false pretense of a power struggle vanished into thin air.
Lexa sighed in relief and snaked her arms across Clarke's back. She held the broken Skaikru leader close. She knew Clarke's pain. There were ugly choices Lexa had made in the past and that still ate away at her soul. She understood what it meant to carry such weight.
Clarke held onto Lexa's side, but she clutched the commander's broad shoulder with her left hand. Her pain clawed against her throat and wanted release, but only a low whimper worked its way free. She attempted stopping it by hiding her face in the soft fur of Lexa's coat.
Lexa had heard it. She tightened her arms around Clarke and promised, "It will get easier."
Clarke turned her head and rested her cheek against Lexa's warm chest. She blinked against the formed tears in her eyes. "I want it to stop." She closed her eyes and whispered, "I want to make it stop." She jerked when a low growl sounded under her ear.
Lexa reigned in on her natural reaction to Clarke's confession. She huffed deeply, which cleared her head. She took a deep breath and argued, "That is not the answer." She lowered her head to Clarke. "You did the best you could in that situation."
Clarke shut her eyes. Again the memories from the Control Room attacked her. She dug her nails into Lexa's coat. In one of the monitors, she still saw Lexa fighting for her life against the Mountain Men's guns. Another screen showed Cage drilling her mother for bone marrow. And Dante Wallace was dead at her feet.
"Would you have done it?" Clarke whispered.
Lexa knew the extreme value in her answer. Clarke sought approval for what happened in the mountain. One young leader needed a seasoned leader's support. Lexa doubted her answer would free Clarke from the guilt, but it would make it easier. Or so she prayed to the gods for it.
Clarke squeezed her closed eyes tighter. Lexa's single word thundered in her ears. A knife of blame fell away from Clarke's heart, but there still was so much bleeding in her.
"If you had not done it," Lexa whispered, "Many more of our people would be dead."
Clarke swallowed against the lump and opened her eyes. Her blue eyes were fuzzy with emotions. She knew that the many dead would have included Lexa herself. Even with the grounders' sheer numbers, the Mountain Men's damn bullets mowed them over fast. Clarke's actions had saved both grounder and Sky people lives, but at the price of others.
Lexa stared across the tent, and her mind was on what happened in the mountain. She wished she could have kept Clarke from the battle. But, it was a useless wish. Everything was done, and now they faced the aftermath of it. All any of them could do was move forward, even with a darkness looming ahead of them.
After a long minute, Lexa swore, "It will get easier."
Clarke's eyes fluttered at hearing the promise again. Lexa's voice was thick and powerful, like always. Clarke was unsure when she had started loving the very tone of Lexa's voice. She was even at a loss at how she ended up here, in Lexa's arms. They had never hugged, once. And the kiss was a different matter, a warm memory that still tingled against Clarke's lips. But right now, Clarke continued clinging to Lexa for support, and Lexa held Clarke up from completely crashing into the ground, again.
With a blank future, Clarke wished she knew what to do next. She needed direction and came to the grounder camp to work out a sliver of hope. Instead, she found herself being support by the commander. Maybe Lexa was right that she could let her people wait for a few minutes. Clarke gradually closed her eyes and remained in Lexa's arms for awhile longer. Deep in her spirit, she knew Lexa would hold her until the end of their time.
To be continued.
Trigedasleng to English
Hod op. - Stop.
Goch emo kom maun op. - Escort them out of the mountain.
Hani? - How many?
Fotin gona stedaun, Heda. - Fourteen warriors dead, commander.
Klir. - Safe.
Monin, Klark kom Skiakru. - Welcome, Clarke of the Sky People.
Ha yu? - How are you?
Os. - Great.