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when love becomes the reason

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March 3rd, 1999.

The leaves of the flower are blue. No, the petals are. There are the stems and the leaves and the pollen and the petals. The petals are the prettiest part, blue like Clarke’s eyes. Lexa twirls the stem between her fingers and then lifts it to push the flower into Clarke’s blonde hair.

“Happy birthday.”

“Thanks.” She pulls at her dress. “Do I look older?”

Lexa nods and smiles enthusiastically. “Way older. You’re so old, you might die any day now.”

Clarke touches the flower in her hair and then shoves Lexa’s chest. “Shut up, I’m eight, not eighty.”

“Whatever. I can’t believe you still talking to a seven-year-old now that you’re so much older and cooler. Aren’t you going to run off and make old friends now?”

Clarke frowns, pulls the flower from her hair, and Lexa tilts her head to the side when Clarke’s shoulders slump.

“What would happen if... if I did?”

Lexa shrugs. “We wouldn’t be best friends anymore.”

Clarke pouts. Lexa nearly gets distracted by a caterpillar on the ground before Clarke talks again. “I’m moving.”

“What do you mean?”

“My Mom says we’re moving to a different house. And it’s really really really really really far away. I don’t think we’re ever gonna see each other again when I do.”

The world spins a little when she says it, and Lexa feels her cheeks go red. Clarke is the only one who sits with her at lunch. The only one who helps her with her homework. The only one who plays with her at recess.

“Well, that’s not fair.”

“I know.”

She gets an idea and licks her lips. “Take me with you.”

“I already asked my Mom if she would let me and she said no.” Clarke says it like it’s the worst thing in the world and it really feels like it is.

“What if I convince my Dad to let me go?” She says it, but she already knows it won’t work. Her Mom would never let her go.

“You could try.”

“Where are you moving?”


“We already live in Washington.”

Clarke shakes her head, and Lexa can’t see her blue eyes anymore. She stares at the ground, her hair moving with the wind. “No, this is Washington DC. My Mom says that there’s another one, and it’s really far away.”

“When are you going?”

“She said in a month, I think.”

Lexa nods. “That’s okay. A month is forever.”

“Yeah.” She sounds sad. Lexa feels it, too.

“Hey, you’ll come back for me, right?”

“‘Course, dummy, why wouldn’t I come back for my best friend?” Clarke smiles up at her and holds the flower out between them.

Lexa takes it, twirling it again between her fingers. “Okay, then.”

It’s okay, then. Clarke will come back. And a month is forever.


May 17th, 2015

Clarke pens the word ‘IKEA’ into the last four squares and lets the newspaper drop against her chest. The crossword section is the only piece of paper in her new apartment that she hasn’t drawn on, and that’s no statement about her inspiration, since it’s also one of three total pieces of paper she has. In fact, there are only about fifteen things in her apartment.  She has an inflatable mattress, a laptop, a suitcase full of clothes, a garbage can, leftover take out in the refrigerator, a bean bag chair, a lamp, and a few things that Jasper and Monty had given her to make it through the week.

In hindsight, she should have waited to move across the country again until she was sure her things would be there to meet her. Still, it beats the first time she moved back, years ago. Jasper and Monty were great roommates, as roommates go when you try to find them in less than 48 hours, but she prefers her own place.

And it's a nice place. The woman who rented it out to her might actually be a saint. It's cheap, thank God, but safe and exactly the kind of place Clarke belongs in. Large windows, exposed brick walls, and hardwood floors - an apartment like this should have costed her a fortune, but seriously. Her landlord; an actual saint. For the moment it's empty and boring her to death, but she still loves it.

Clarke leaves the newspaper on the floor and pushes herself up off the bean bag chair when she hears a knock at the door.

“Took you long enough.” Clarke messes with the lock and swings the door open to a wall of paper bags. “Uh.”

“Wanna help a guy out here?” Bellamy pokes his head over the top bag and offers her a smile.

“You just had to get it all in one trip, didn't you?”

“Any chance you’re gonna let me in, your highness? I just shopped for half an hour for you.”

She pulls down the edge of one of the bags and spots a case of beer. “You are a god, Bellamy Blake,” She steps back to let him in and takes a few of the bags off his hands.

Bellamy shrugs as best as he can with an armful of groceries. “Yeah, I get that a lot.”

“Sure you do.” She kicks the door shut behind her and almost runs into his back when he stops.

“Love what you clearly haven’t done with the place.”

“Yeah, tell me about it.” Clarke drops the groceries in her hands on her kitchen counter. It’s the first time it hasn’t been barren since she’s moved in. “If they don’t get my stuff here in the next three days, I’m hunting that moving truck down myself.”

“Where could it even be?”

Oklahoma.” She growls.

“Is it really?”

“Yep. I wake up to a phone call at six a.m. from a lovely couple in Tulsa, Oklahoma, saying they got a delivery truck at their door for a Clarke Griffin. They sent my stuff to the wrong damn house. Oklahoma, Bellamy.”

He unloads a bag, lining the counter top with cereal boxes. “Relax, it’ll get here.”

“I've been wearing the same pair of scrubs for four days.” She loads a six-pack into the fridge.

“That’s the beauty of the uniform, who’s gonna notice?”

“Only every patient who spends more than two minutes in the same hallway with me. Any chance I can do a load of laundry at your place?”

He crushes a paper bag into a ball in his hand and makes a shot for the garbage can. He makes it. “Not tonight. I've got a hot date.”

“Don’t you always?” Clarke almost lets the cocky smile on his face grow before she hits him in the arm with a package of paper towels. “Don’t let that get to your head.”

“Too late.”

Fair enough. She walked right into that one.

“Sucks about your stuff, though. I’ll take your clothes home with me if you want, I can get it back to you by tomorrow.”

Her hands find a box of tampons while she’s looking through another paper bag and, yeah - Octavia definitely raised him right. “Bellamy, I love you,” She holds the box to her chest and turns to him. “I might actually be in love with you right now.”

“I am pretty great, aren't I?”

He slides into one of the stools across from her at the island counter and she hears the hiss of a beer can being opened. When she turns to throw another paper bag in the trashcan, she sees him run a hand through his hair. It’s getting longer now, and it behaves more than it did in college, so it doesn't look half bad. Still, she can’t help but tease him for it.

“You’d be even greater if you lost the Fabio look.”

“Are you kidding me? Girls love this look.”

“No. They don’t. I can guarantee you, they don’t.”

He looks like he’s about to say something, but he stops himself, coughing and sitting up. It only takes her a few seconds to know what’s on his mind.

Yeah. She used to love that look. She fell in love with that look when she was sixteen.

She thanks God for Bellamy’s ability to steamroll through these moments, because she’s ripped from Memory Lane when he tosses her a box.

“Got you some Almond Joys.”

She grins and her fingers start to rip into the box just before she hesitates. “Hold on. What’s wrong?”

“What? Nothing’s wrong.”

Clarke narrows her eyes at him and Bellamy squirms in his seat. “You got me Almond Joys.”

“It’s your favorite candy bar.”

“I love Almond Joys.”

“Doesn't sound like a crime to buy you your favorite candy bar.”

She sets the box on the table and crosses her arms. “I asked you for 2% milk and hot pockets on your way back from the store.”

“I know.”

“You came back with candy, beer, tampons,” She rifles through the rest of the bags. “You got me oranges?”

“Everyone needs Vitamin C.”

Weak. She doesn't buy it.


He caves, sighing and sliding a beer across the counter. “You should sit.”

“Should I be scared?”

“No, it’s good. It’s really good, actually.” Bellamy smiles, and it’s one of the smiles she’s only ever seen him reserve for Octavia or Raven. And every once in a while Jasper and Monty. And Clarke, of course.

“O just got engaged.”

Clarke feels her heart sink, and she does everything she can to smile.

“That’s great, Bellamy.”

Because she should be happy.

“I’m really happy for her.”

She would be happy, had she heard it from Octavia.

“Yeah, it’s really good, she seems happy.” He nods.

“Does she?”

She wouldn't know, would she?

“She does.”

“How did Lincoln propose?”

Bellamy scoffs and sips his beer. “Have you met my sister? Do you really think he proposed?”

God, that does sound like Octavia to be the one to propose. “Right, of course.”

“She was really happy, though. It was amazing. She invited every- she invited a bunch of us up north over the weekend and we went to the bar that she proposed in - over a bar fight, by the way. You should’ve seen Raven’s face when she told the story, I've never seen anyone more proud.”

Clarke laughs, because it’s a better alternative to crying, and Bellamy deserves to be happy about this.

She isn't doing a good job of it, because he stops talking and stares at the beer in his hand, rotating it on the counter top. “Truth is I wasn't going to tell you, but-”

“No, I’m glad you did, Bellamy.”

She is, she really is glad. She likes knowing about everything they do. She misses hearing it from them, but she needs to know. She needs to know they’re okay without her. “Do you, um... Do you tell them about my stuff?”

He nods. “I tell Raven everything.”

Clarke laughs and it’s genuine. She doesn't need to look up to see that he’s rolling his eyes, and that’s good, because if she looks up from the beer in her hands, he’ll see that she’s blinking back tears. He doesn't need to see that.

“Don’t even go there, Clarke.”

She licks her lips and blinks enough to trust herself to look up. “Whatever you say, Romeo.” She laughs but it’s dry. Hollow. “So, I take it Octavia still doesn't want to hear about me?”

Bellamy shakes his head - it’s subtle, solemn. She knows he hates answering this question, as much as she hates to ask it.

“You should have been there, Clarke. I know she wanted you there. On some level, you have to know she misses you. She’s gonna look back one day and wish you were there. I know it.”

“Yeah.” She nods, her eyes drifting back to the label on the beer bottle. “Finn, too.”


December 2nd , 2010

Octavia and Raven are at the bar until 11, and their fourth roommate spends her nights exclusively in her boyfriend’s dorm, so when the door swings open in the common room, Clarke briefly considers pulling Raven’s softball bat down from the closet to protect herself.

Until she smells his cologne.

He’s smiling at her with a paper bag in his arms when she turns around. “Somebody order a study break?”

No, she hadn’t, but it’s no shock that he’d be good enough to remember when all her stressful exams are.

“Is that Little Toni’s?”

Finn grins at her and drops the bag on her desk, pulling forks and napkins from his jacket pocket. “Yeah, your favorite. I brought some for Octavia and Raven, too.”

Clarke shovels a breadstick into her mouth – it’s the first real food she’s had all day – and moans. It's the best breadstick she’s ever had in her life. She chews for a few seconds, savoring the taste before washing it down with the soda he hands her. “Octavia won the match, so they all went out for drinks.”

“That’s what? Four games in a row? I hope Lincoln’s not taking it too hard.”

“Are you kidding me?” Clarke pushes her notes together to make room for their take out boxes on her desk. “He might be on the rival team, but there’s no way he was rooting for his school.”

“Smart man.”

They burn a hole through the carton of ravioli in less than a minute and Finn reaches for her hand. She squeezes his fingers and smiles.

“How’s the studying going?”

“It’s gross anatomy. It’s gross. It’s anatomy. Kind of speaks for itself.”

“Welcome to Med School, Princess.”

“Yeah.” She shrugs and eats another breadstick while he talks about his day. If it was a year ago, maybe even six months, she might have listened a little more. Now she just nods along.

She zones back in when he stops eating. “Am I totally interrupting your studying right now?”

“No, no, you’re fine. I’ve been reading the same exact page on the gluteal femoral region for the past forty minutes. You’re fine.”

“I have no idea what that means.”

She laughs – he’s cute when he doesn’t understand a word that she’s saying, because he’s the only person who actually tries to decode it.

“Why don’t you take a study break with me?”

“Because I’ve been reading the same exact page on the gluteal femoral region for the past forty minutes.”

Finn laughs, and it’s innocent. He believes her. “Gotcha. Should I get out of your way?”

Her heart aches. He says that a lot these days. She doesn’t deserve it.

“C’mere.” Clarke pulls him by his jacket, pressing her lips against his and tangling the fingers of her free hand through his hair. It’s getting longer again, just like it was when they were sixteen. She loves his longer hair.

She loves him.

She does.

She has to.

Clarke deepens the kiss, parting his lips and pulling him closer. He reacts like he always does, with enthusiasm and love and care. She considers pulling him up out of his chair, pushing him back against the bed, losing their clothes and forgetting about everything for a while. They haven’t had sex in a while. And it’s always been good.

But it’s almost midnight and she doesn’t have it in her right now. She doesn’t have the emotional stamina.

Clarke pulls back, offering him a smile. “You should probably meet Raven and Octavia at the bar.”

He nods, licking his lips and pulling himself out of whatever haze her kiss put him in. “Yeah, that sounds good.”

“I promise they’ll be more fun than me tonight.”

He grins and kisses her again. “Not a chance.”

He looks like he might kiss her again, but he must see the Not tonight in her eyes, because he pulls back. “Okay. I’ll say hi to them for you.”


“Love you, Clarke.”

She smiles and leans back in her chair. “Actually, you love the shell of a girl that used to be Clarke Griffin before she took a gross anatomy course.”

“Fine, don’t say it back.” He jokes. “Romance killer.”

She leans forward and lands a peck against his lips. “Bye, Finn.”

“Bye.” He kisses her forehead and leaves the room with a wave, leaving Clarke alone at her desk. She has one breadstick left. She taps against her desk with her pen and sighs.

She used to say it back.


May 18th , 2015

“Across our planet, abandoned cities and apocalyptic dead zones hide in plain sight. Boom towns where the boom went bust. Industrial powerhouses, deserted and decaying. Once prosperous cities, now too toxic for human life. This is a glimpse of what the future might hold for the places each of us calls home.

It appears to be a typical Italian vill-“

Lexa's documentary pauses on the picture of a set of homes on a hill, the circle over the screen buffering, frozen at 48%. Lexa moves to pick up her glass of wine and settle back into the couch with her laptop. It’s still buffering. Still at 48%.

She sighs, rubs her temples, and pretends she can’t hear Diana and her Bingo club – there’s four of them, all of them at least 80 years old, all of them hard of hearing, all of them screaming over Bingo, as they do every Saturday Night.

It gives her a headache.

Her stream is still at 48%.

Her mind wanders towards everything and nothing. She has a meeting next Friday that she needs to be ready for, and of course she’ll be ready. She’ll most likely be ready by Tuesday. She goes over the pitch in her head, and then moves on to thinking of something less trivial.

She’s been considering purchasing a Betta fish.

She hears a thud from two apartments down and Lexa really hopes it’s not one of Diana’s friends. She doesn’t want to get off this couch. She really doesn’t want to get out of this robe. She just wants to watch her documentary.

Which is still buffering at 48%.

At least she doesn’t need to worry about her new neighbor, not in the way that she does about Diana, because she’s really the only person in the apartment complex who knows Diana, and that leaves Lexa with a sense of responsibility. If the woman ever decides to drop dead one day, she’d most likely do something about it. But, she doesn’t worry about her new neighbor. She’s young and healthy and not at all the Life Alert type.

She’s actually very pretty, but Lexa is sure she knows that. And she’s sure the tall and muscular man who brought her groceries and left with a suitcase in his hand knows that, too.

She really is pretty, though. Lexa can hear her mother’s voice in her head already, the one begging her not to die alone. It seems like a dramatic request to her, implying there’s something inherently wrong with doing just that. Dying alone. She’s never been opposed to the idea, as long as she doesn’t become the type of senior citizen who plays bingo at ungodly hours. Anything sounds better than that, even dying alone.

She’d even enjoy dying alone if her stream would finish buffering.

Lexa tries to disconnect and reconnect the wifi a few times before she realizes the problem.

She spoke too soon about her neighbor.

She’s never had this problem before. Diana swears against the internet, so it couldn’t be her. Lexa checks the time on her laptop. 2:07. Maybe this is horrible manners, but she’s not known for being cordial, and her stream is still frozen at 48%. Desperate times.

She leaves her wine glass behind and pulls her robe together, tying it on her way out of the apartment. The other door, her door, isn’t far, just a few steps past her own doorsteps.

She scowls before knocking. This shouldn’t be necessary.

Lexa counts to twenty before the door swings open, leaving her standing in front of her new neighbor – and thankfully she’s awake, because that means she’s probably right about this.

“Hey,” The girl smiles the kind of smile that Lexa firmly believes nobody should be capable of at this hour. “You’re my neighbor right?”

Lexa nods, glancing down and back up to take in her look – flannel shorts and a white tank top. She has mismatched socks on, and if she wasn’t the reason that Lexa was out of her apartment at 2 a.m., she’d take a minute to notice that she’s much more attractive than she remembered.

“Yes, I am. Did I wake you?”

“Figured it was you, I recognize the glare. I think I saw you after my friend left this morning. And no, I wasn’t sleeping.” She leans forward, with absolutely no respect for personal space, turning her head to look into the hallway. “Gotta say, you guys have a pretty strange welcoming committee. It’s kinda late for a welcome basket.”

Lexa clears her throat. “I came to ask about – Are you using my wifi?”

The girl cringes. “Shit. Are you Woods92?”



She actually looks guilty, and it almost makes Lexa want to forgive her, but that’s not what she does. “I’m really sorry, my stuff was supposed to get here a couple days ago, I swear, I just haven’t gotten my wifi set up and I totally would have if I had anything but a sleeping bag in here, I swear. I’m usually way more practical than this.”

“Right.” She doesn’t know why she’s agreeing with her. “Well, I hope you’re not doing anything illegal. Especially since it’s slowing down my Netflix stream.” Lexa scowls some more. She already misses her glass of wine. “My documentary won’t stop buffering.”

“Well, don’t worry, nothing illegal on my end, I promise.” She tilts her head to the side and leans back on her heels. “Frowned upon? Maybe. Illegal, probably not.”

Lexa narrows her eyes.

“I might have been watching porn?” She squeezes her eyes shut and clenches her fists. “I have no idea why I just told you that. You’re a total stranger.”

Suddenly she thinks this visit might have been worth it. “Porn?”

“I cannot stress enough how little I have to do to occupy my time in this house, I’ve drawn on everything I own, I’m gonna start painting the walls soon, I’ve worked overtime four nights in a row, just for the hell of it.”

She keeps her lips pressed together to fight a smile. This girl can’t be real. She seems nervous, and when she runs a hand through her hair, Lexa frowns. She feels familiar.

The girl must feel it too, because she scratches at the back of her head and flips on a light from inside her apartment. “Hey, do I know you from somewhere?”

Lexa studies her. Blue eyes. Blonde hair. She looks like every secretary her father has ever hired, every girl her brother has ever dated – except for this new one, Oceana or Olivia or something with an O.

“I don’t think so.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right. That’s great,” She notes bitterly. “Fantastic. So, just to be clear, that means your first impression of me is definitely gonna be ‘the stranger who watches porn on her neighbor’s wifi’, right? Great.”

She fights another smile while the girl gestures behind her.

“I’m just gonna go stop streaming my stuff so you can finish your documentary, and then we can just… pretend this never happened.”

“If we must.”

The girl keeps smiling at her, and she’s in danger of slipping into one too, so out of impulse, Lexa opens her mouth to speak. “What’s your name?”


Interesting name. It feels familiar.

“Promise me you’ll forget that in the morning?”

Lexa nods. “I suppose.”

Clarke almost moves to shut the door but she changes her mind, leaning back against the door frame. “And what’s your name?”


“Lexa. Already forgetting it.”

“Whatever you say… Clarke.” The name feels strange rolling off her tongue. She hasn’t heard a name like that in a long time. She likes it.

“’Night, neighbor.”

The door clicks shut between them and Lexa pulls her robe tighter. She lets out a puff of air, almost a laugh. Four women who play bingo at top volume and an attractive girl watching pornography on her wifi. Her neighbors are nothing if not interesting.

Dying alone sounds more peaceful by the day. 



Bellamy pulls through for her by 9am, dropping off a load of laundry, and he really is a godsend, but he’s also a fantastic future stay-at-home Dad because he evens folds Clarke’s hoodies. When she stayed with Jasper and Monty last year, she was lucky if Jasper folded her jeans on laundry duty. She picks a blue plaid and throws it over a white tank top, jeans, and a pair of black boots.

Unsurprisingly, Bellamy still forgot to buy the hot pockets she asked for, so she uses it as an excuse to go to shopping across the street.

And since it’s her day off, and her things still haven’t showed up, when she gets an impulse, she acts on it.

Clarke knocks on Lexa’s door with her foot. Her hands are full and she nearly drops the take out in her hands when she sees her – when she sees what she’s wearing. There’s a very important difference between Lexa in a robe and Lexa in a button up gray shirt, tucked into a pair of black skinny jeans, tucked into a pair of black boots. Clarke’s mind blanks a little bit because wow, and she figures this is as good a time as any to stop falling for every girl she lays eyes on. Because this is her neighbor and she should really be making friends soon. She’s only made two new friends since she transferred, two new friends since she moved back to Maryland, then back home, then back to Maryland again. Two new friends. She could use a friend. It’s not practical to be attracted to every girl she sees.

It’s also not practical to blankly stare at her like this. Clarke clears her throat. “Hey, sorry, is this a bad time?”

“I knock on your door at 2 a.m. and you’re asking me if the middle of the day is a bad time?”

Clarke shrugs and readjust the bags in her arms. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, that never happened.”

“Right.” Lexa nods, and she’s got that hint of a smile on her face that tells Clarke she’s doing something right.

“Well, hey, I brought food. If you’re not busy, I made some cookies and that’s already a lie because I got these at the store and I also got this dish at the store and I got this plastic wrap at the store and I already told you that I have pretty much nothing in my house, and I think you’re probably smart enough to realize that I definitely didn’t make these.”

Lexa nods. Clarke definitely has a chance at turning that half smile into a full one. “I think you’re probably right.”

She seems to be hesitating, but it’s not a no yet, so Clarke tries again. “So, are you busy or do you feel like eating twice your weight in Chinese food? I was thinking I could try a second shot at a first impression. Maybe we can watch a movie or something?”

Lexa’s eyes scan her up and down and she steps aside, giving her a slow nod. “That sounds... nice.”

Clarke feels inferior the second she steps inside.

“Wow, nice place.” Lexa closes the door behind them and Clarke takes the lead towards the couch, dropping the food on the coffee table. She wanders towards the window. “You have a killer view.”

“I don’t see much of a reason to. I don’t ever look at it, and it makes the rent unnecessarily expensive.”

“Sure is pretty, though.”

Her house smells like a furniture store, as if everything in Lexa’s life is stationary, unmoving, unchanging, forever trapped in plastic wrap. She can’t remember a day in her life when her own house smelled so new or felt so empty. Not even now, with nothing in it.

Still, she has excellent taste in just about everything.

Sure is pretty.

“Alright, any movie ideas? Your place, so. Your pick.”

“I was planning on watching a historical film on the war of 1812 this weekend, how does that sound?”

Awful. Boring. Like the worst movie ever made, but she did use a complete stranger’s wifi to watch porn, so maybe she can let Lexa have this one.

“Sounds great, you have good taste.”

“Thank you, Clarke.” Lexa says her name like an experiment. She likes the sound.

“Ah ah, you don’t know my name yet.” Clarke carries herself back towards the couch, reaching a hand out to take Lexa’s shaking it. “Clarke Griffin, at your service.”

“Lexa Woods… at yours.”


“What do you mean ‘No’?”

“Lexa Woods?”

Lexa opens her mouth and shuts it again, and of course it’s her. Always too hesitant to speak her mind, always needing to think it through. She got that from her Dad, even as a kid. She’s more formal now, much more business-like, much more disciplined, but she’s absolutely her. And damn did puberty treat her well.

She must have remembered her too, because Lexa smiles. For the first time, it’s a real one, a whole one, and she knows she would have remembered her earlier had she smiled like that. “Clarke Griffin.”

“Holy shit.”

Lexa shakes her head. “I couldn’t agree more.”

“Like holy shit, what are the odds?”

“Probably a million to one."

“Alright, screw the movie,” Clarke drops herself on the couch and Lexa follows her lead. She reaches for an eggroll. “We have some catching up to do.”



Woods (12:11pm): Cancel my 2 o’clock



“Wait, are you telling me you’re 23 years old and you’re already some big CEO?” Clarke hops onto one of Lexa’s marble countertops and tips back a glass of wine. It’s probably the most expensive alcohol she’s had in years.

“No, I’m a Manager, it’s much different. I answer to a Director, who answers to a Vice President, who answers to the CEO.”

“And everyone who isn’t the Director or the Vice President or the CEO… answers to you.”

“Not exactly. There are multiple Directors, multiple Vice Presidents, and multiple Managers. I don’t answer to them, but they don’t answer to me, and the people who answer to them don’t necessarily answer to me.”

“You work in a tall building and you’re in charge.” Clarke clarifies.



“Thank you.”

Lexa smiles into her wine glass. She’s proud of herself. Clarke would be too.

“What do you do, Clarke?”

“I wheel patients around hospitals… pretty much all day long.”

“Are you a nurse?”

She hates this question. “No, I’m not. I never finished my degree. But I still wanted to work in a hospital, so I thought I’d give this a try, for a while.”


She stares into her wine glass, twirling it, getting lost in the dark liquid. “I guess I wanted to help people.” Clarke takes a drink of it while Lexa stands up straight, propping herself up by the palm of her hand next to Clarke’s thigh.

“That’s honorable.”

“I guess.”

“What else is there?”

Clarke blinks at her. “What do you mean what else?”

“You’re the one who suggested we play twenty questions. We’ve gone through three.”

“Right. Okay, uh, how about… your dog. What happened to Sammy?”

“It was sixteen years ago, Clarke, I’m sure you can probably guess.”

Yeah, valid point. “God, you’re right. Okay, let’s see.” She bites her lip, staring into the wine glass. “How’s your Mom doing?”

“Divorced. Remarried.”


“I have a brother now.” She says it like it’s unnecessary, like an ugly decoration on an otherwise perfect mantel.

“She had another kid? At her age?”

“No, he came with the husband.”

Clarke laughs. She keeps doing that, Lexa keeps making her laugh with the way that she talks. They’re on their second glass of wine, and Clarke can only describe her new friend (old friend?) as a robot with a high vocabulary and a sarcastic side. Which is the strangest combination she could imagine, but she likes it.

“I can tell you two are very close.”


Clarke laughs again.



Anya (12:11pm): Done. Will you be available for your 3 o’clock with Indra?

Woods (1:34pm): Cancel that too.



Lexa lets her stay for three hours before she has to go to work, and Clarke doesn’t know her well enough yet to know if that’s the truth or if she was just trying to get rid of her. That’s all she comes out of Lexa’s apartment knowing for sure.

She doesn’t know her yet.

She thought she might have, but Clarke knows neither of them are the girls they used to be. Still, there’s something familiar about them. Like that sense of comfort she has around a distant relative. Like Lexa’s a familiar smell. A home away from home. She trusts Lexa. She really wants to know Lexa.

Clarke falls back against her door when it shuts behind her and she considers going out. Maybe getting a drink with Bellamy or going to an Art Museum with Monty. She doesn’t feel like sitting alone in an empty apartment right now.

And her thoughts have great timing, because it’s then that she feels three knocks against the door she’s still leaning against. Clarke blinks herself out of her haze and pulls it open.

“Clarke Griffin?” She spots the label on his nametag and breathes a sigh of relief.

“Oh thank God, finally.”

“Sorry for the delay, ma’am.” The man has a thick southern accent and he’s at least a foot taller than her, in a khaki uniform, with a clipboard in hand. “If you’ll just sign here we can start moving in your boxes.”

She takes the clipboard and scribbles half-heartedly. “Thank you…” Clarke eyes his nametag, “Ralph.”

“Not a problem. I have a team waiting in the truck, where do you want your boxes?”

“You know what, you guys take care of the furniture, I know just the team to take care of the boxes.”



Clarke leans across the table to pick up the last slice of pizza before Jasper can add it to his pile of six. She shakes her head. “No, there’s no way.”

“I’m serious.” Jasper nods and looks between Clarke and Bellamy. “Swear to God, she’s totally into me.”

Bellamy throws down what’s left of his wings and shakes his head. “You say that about every girl.”

“This girl’s different, I swear!” He turns in his chair to look towards the living room. “Monty, back me up here.”

Monty looks up from where he’s kneeling at the base of the entertainment center and shrugs. Clarke feels a little bad that he’s getting dragged into this, partly because she knows he still has a crush on Jasper – he always has, and partly because he’s setting up her TV free of charge. She figures he deserves a break.

“Fine, if she’s so into you, what’s her number, huh?” Clarke leans back in her chair, drinking one of Monty’s wine coolers.

“I haven’t asked her for it yet.”

Bellamy laughs. “Oh, no?”

“I’m playing hard to get.”

They laugh at that one together, and Clarke almost makes a comment about Jasper’s complete lack of self-control when they hear a knock at the door.

The room goes silent, and Clarke smiles. Three short knocks and then silence. Not hard to guess who’s behind the door.

“Who's that?” Bellamy asks.

“Just a neighbor, I think.” Clarke sits up and pushes her chair in, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and smoothing out her shirt, brushing crumbs off her chest.

Jasper sits up. “A hot neighbor?”

“How would I know?”

“Uh, ‘cause you have eyes?”

Bellamy purses his lips. “And you’re primping.”

“Primping?” She resists the urge to run a hand through her hair, even if it always looks better after she does.


“Just give me a second,” She says, rolling her eyes and crossing the apartment floor to open the door.

It’s Lexa, she knew it was her, but she still smiles when she sees her. “Hey.”

“Hi.” Lexa offers her a soft smile and it throws Clarke off long enough for the door to swing open too far, far enough for Jasper to see Lexa. A mistake she shouldn't have made.

His voice is at an octave deeper than usual when he steps up behind Clarke and offers his hand to Lexa. “Jasper Jordan at your service, my lady.”

My lady?

Lexa doesn’t take his hand. Clarke laughs, and she’s pretty sure she can hear Bellamy cracking up behind them. Clarke looks over at Monty, who is smiling at the electronics he’s tinkering with.

“Lexa, these are some of my friends from college.” She does everything she can to twist her face into something that communicates I’m deeply sorry. “Guys, this is Lexa. My neighbor.”

Jasper pulls his hand back and folds his together. “Lovely to meet you.”

“I’m sure.” Lexa gives him a curt smile and pulls her hands from behind her back, holding up a tray. “I came to give you your dish. For the cookies.”

Jasper takes this as his dismissal and slinks back towards Bellamy.

“Oh. Thanks.” She chews on the inside of her lip and takes it from her. “Hey, do you wanna come in? We finally got my furniture in and we were gonna play poker.”

“Poker isn’t really a hobby of mine.”

“Afraid we’d kick your ass?”

Lexa blinks at her as if she’s offended, but it’s not long before that turns into the hint of a smile. “I’m afraid I’d bankrupt you, actually. What a deplorable way ruin a blossoming friendship.”

Definitely a robot with a high vocabulary. Clarke rolls her eyes and grins. What a cute robot she is, though.

“I expect you to prove that to me one day.”

“I look forward to it.”

Clarke sets the dish onto the table by the door, next to her keys. She checks back to see Bellamy and Jasper talking over a television remote while Monty stands up and turns on the TV monitor. Clarke looks back at Lexa and slips into the hallway, closing the door behind her.

“Sorry, I know my friends can be a bit much.”

“It’s alright.”

“Listen, um… do you wanna hang out sometime, though? Maybe tomorrow? Unless you have work. Today was fun.”

Lexa nods. “It was fun.”

Clarke thinks of the emptiness of her apartment and the business-casual clothes she seems to wear everyday and she thinks that maybe Lexa could use a little more fun in her life.

Lexa smiles to herself and adds, “And I hope you’re not just using me for my unrestricted wifi again. Which I password protected this morning, if you’re wondering.”

“Hey, you promised to forget that, and you’re doing a horrible job of it.”

Lexa's lips quirk up at what's quickly becoming an inside joke of theirs. “My apologies.”

“Anyway, it doesn’t matter. My friend, Monty, just got mine all set up.” She runs a hand through her hair, because Lexa still looks incredible and she’s been unpacking boxes for the past four hours. “But we should hang out. Catch up. Get coffee or something. You can tell me about that documentary you were watching last night.”

“Forgotten Planet. It’s a good series.”

“Sounds great. Wanna get a drink and you can sell me on it?”

“I could agree to a drink.”

“Okay, then. A drink.”