Actions

Work Header

sparks fly.

Work Text:

They only gave her twenty minutes to pack.

Her suitcase is barely even closed because she tried to shove as many pieces of clothing into it as she possibly could because they only gave her twenty minutes to pack.

They shoved her out and didn’t even say goodbye.

They didn’t even look at her when they did it.

And she has nowhere to go.

She has nowhere to go.

She keeps a tight grip on her the handle of her suitcase and she walks the familiar route to the gated community she used to frequent. She wonders if she dialed Costia’s number now if she would answer.

Probably not.

She too, couldn’t Lexa in the eye when she shoved her out the door.

Maybe that’s a pattern. Lexa swallows the lump in her throat and she collapses onto the street corner. She hugs her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms around them, and rests her chin on her knees. Silent tears stream down her cheeks and she tries not to think about her room and her posters and her bike and every piece of her childhood that she left behind when she walked out of the front door.

And maybe she should have known that it was going to end up like this.

Anybody who sneered at the gay couples on television and ranted about how “fucking mainstream media is filled with fags and dykes” was bound to react negatively to their daughter telling them that she’s a lesbian.

But Lexa had hoped that maybe it would be different because it was her. Maybe they just didn’t understand because it didn’t affect them and once it did - once Lexa told them the truth about who she is, they would get it. That it wasn’t a choice. At least not one that Lexa would make voluntarily.

But she’d been naive.

She watched the expression on their faces change from concern to disgust the moment Lexa uttered the word ‘lesbian’.

She watched their eyes harden and recognition fade as her Mother spat at her, “You are no daughter of  mine.”

And then they told her to get out.

They gave her twenty minutes to pack.

And then they kicked her out.

They slammed the door in her face and she couldn’t do anything about it.

She spent ten minutes banging on the door, yelling through her tears for them just let her back in, please. She begged them to see that she was still their little girl. That she didn’t change just because she liked girls. She watched them turn the lights out in the living room and walk away from the door.

So now she’s here, in front of these gates that she’s passed through so many times, but this time stuck on the outside.

She’s not sure how long she sits. She watches Escalade after Escalade drive through the gates and not a single one stops.

And maybe there’s part of her that’s hoping that Costia might see her sitting here and stop. See her on the corner and just know what she did and take her in her arms and whisper against her hair like she used to that everything is going to be okay.

But if she even drives past, Lexa doesn’t know.

It’s dark now and there’s a slight chill in the air and Lexa knows that she’s going to have to find some place to stay for the night soon. But she’s still hoping for Costia.

She’s biting down on her bottom lip, trying to keep the tears at bay, when a big, black car stops in front of her. A girl climbs out of the drivers side and she moves to stand in front of Lexa. She’s blonde and pretty but not somebody that Lexa recognizes. She looks concerned and she says, “You’ve been sitting here since I left for rehearsal. Are you okay?” And Lexa wants to say yes because she doesn’t need the pity of some rich girl who lives behind the gate but the tears that come spilling out of her eyes make it impossible to do so. So she just shakes her head. The girl’s eyes widen and she crouches down. She puts a hand on Lexa’s leg. “Do you have anywhere to go or someone I can call to come pick you up?” She asks with genuine concern and that just makes Lexa cry harder. She hates showing weakness like this but honestly - she feels broken. Crying is the only thing that she can do. She shakes her head again in response to the girls question. She sighs and Lexa thinks she’s going to get up and walk away, pretend she never even saw her. “Hold on. Stay here, okay? I’ll be back.” She says and Lexa wants to say that really, there’s nowhere else that she can go but she can’t get the words out. The blonde walks back to the car and pulls her cell phone out of her pocket. She speaks on the phone with somebody for a few moments and then she hangs up and walks back toward Lexa. “I’m Clarke.” She says, reaching her hand down. Lexa stares at it for a moment, sniffling. Then she reaches up and grabs it. She swears she feels a jolt of electricity run through her arm.

“I’m Lexa.” She mutters in response and Clarke smiles.

“It’s nice to meet you, Lexa.” She says and Lexa gives her a weak smile in return. “This might be weird, considering we just met but I called my Mom and she gave the okay, so would you maybe want to stay the night at my house? It’s going to rain and we have the extra space so it wouldn’t be any trouble.” Clarke rambles and Lexa feels an actual, genuine smile stretching across her face.

“How can you be certain I’m not a thief or a murderer trying to gain entrance into your gated community?” Lexa asks and wow, is she looking to sabotage this on purpose? Luckily, Clarke laughs.

“I think if you were a thief or a murderer, you would have found prey much sooner.” She says and Lexa does agree with that. So she nods.

“Thank you, Clarke.” Lexa says, trying the name out on her tongue. “I would appreciate that very much.” Lexa finishes and Clarke gives her a bright smile.

“Great! Come on, you can have shotgun.” She replies with a smile and she moves back to the car. Lexa grips the top of her suitcase and she stands, pulling the door to the passenger seat open.

When she settles in, it occurs to her that this car is probably nicer than any room in her house. Hell, this fucking car probably costs more than her whole house.

Her old house.

Lexa wills herself not to cry again because she can’t imagine trying to pay off any damages to this car. Lexa stares out the window and she ignores the clench of her heart when they pass Costia’s house. It’s actually a pool house - behind the larger home because Costia’s Mother works for the family and they had the free space so they let them live there.

They continue to drive all the way up the hill and it hits Lexa, as they pass house after house, that Clarke lives in the house at the top of the hill. The biggest house in the community and the one Lexa and Costia used to fantasize about living in. They used to spend hours imagining the kind of people who lived in the grandest house that either of them have ever seen.

Now Lexa knows. And she has to say, Clarke isn’t anything like she’d imagined.

They pull into the driveway and Lexa has to stop her jaw from physically dropping. Clarke looks over to her, with a smile, and says, “Let’s go. My Mom’s waiting.” So Lexa follows her out of the car and she keeps her arms close to her just so she doesn’t break anything she can’t afford to replace.

Clarke holds the door open for her and together, they walk into a huge fucking kitchen, where a woman in a cashmere sweater and jeans is standing, twirling wine around in her glass. She looks up and once she sees Clarke and Lexa, she grins. “You must be Lexa.” She says and Lexa nods.

“Yes ma’am.” She replies and the woman shakes her head.

“Oh no, don’t call me ma’am. You can call me Abby.” She says with caring eyes and Lexa feels weirdly like she’s betraying her own Mother by standing in this house, across from this woman, and wishing that her Mother was anything like this. Clarke is moving across the kitchen and she opens the cupboard.

“Can I call you Abby too?” She asks and Abby shoots a glare at Clarke over her shoulder.

“No you may not, young lady.” She says and Clarke sends Lexa a wink over her shoulder.

“Worth a shot.” She responds as she pulls two glasses from the cupboard. “Do you want something to drink? We have juice and soda and water.” Clarke says and Lexa shrugs. She feels like she shouldn’t be here. She doesn’t belong here. She belongs in her 10’x13’ bedroom, listening to her parents yell at Wheel of Fortune. She shouldn’t be here.

But she is and she wonders if billionaire water tastes any different.

“I’ll have water, thank you.” Lexa whispers and she’s still holding onto the top of her suitcase. Clarke smiles.

“Cool.” And she walks to the fridge and pulls out a Pur container. She pours two glasses of water and hands one to Lexa, who takes it with a grateful smile. She takes a sip and perhaps surprisingly, the water tastes the same. Abby is staring at her with questions in her eyes and Lexa isn’t sure that she’ll be able to answer them. Clarke steps in front of her and says, “Come on, I’ll show you the guest room.” She gestures to the grand staircase that’s in front of the entrance and Lexa nods. Clarke starts to walk and Lexa follows. She shoots Abby one last grateful smile before turning and following Clarke up the stairs.

-

The guest room is double the size of her room at home

(And again she has to correct herself. Her old home.)

Clarke shows her the attached bathroom and says that she’s welcome to unpack some of her stuff if it makes her feel comfortable. Lexa shrugs. “To be perfectly honest with you, I’m not sure anything will make me feel comfortable, but thank you for trying.” She mutters and Clarke bites down on her bottom lip. Lexa is looking down at the bed, which looks incredibly comfortable and really, she’s had a long day. So she sits down on the bed and god, it really is as comfortable as it looks. Clarke sits down next to her.

“You don’t have to tell me why you were out there but if you did want to talk about it, sometimes it helps to talk to a stranger.” Clarke says and Lexa is too tired to relive her night so she just shakes her head.

“Again, I appreciate the offer but I’m exhausted. I’d really just like to get some sleep.” Lexa says and Clarke nods.

“Yeah, totally! There’ll be breakfast when you wake up.” Clarke says with a smile. Lexa gives a nod of acknowledgement.

“Thank you, Clarke.” She says and she means for more than just breakfast. For all of this. And judging by the look on Clarke’s face, she understands.

-

Lexa wakes the next morning and she nearly forgets where she is.

And then it hits her when her vision clears that she’d gotten kicked out of her house last night and she was staying at the house on top of the hill.

And she still had nowhere to go.

Sleepily, she climbs down the stairs. Clarke is sitting at the kitchen island, half a bagel in her hand. She grins at Lexa when she sees her come down the stairs. “Good morning! How did you sleep?” She asks.

“Very well, thank you.” And Lexa doesn’t know where to go. She isn’t sure if she should sit or stand or run. Clarke pats the stool next to her.

“Sit, have a bagel. My Mom’s out at brunch with some of the girls so she won’t be back for awhile.” Clarke says and Lexa nods. She moves to sit next to Clarke. There’s a whole selection of bagels in front of her and she chooses a blueberry one. It’s already sliced in half but still cold. Clarke glances down at it. “Do you want it toasted?” She asks and Lexa feels like she should say no - she can eat it the way it is, but instead she nods. “Toasters over there. I’ll do it.” Clarke says and she takes the bagel from between Lexa’s fingers and she walks to the other side of the kitchen. They’re silent for a few moments. “I don’t mean to pry but….where are you going to go? My Mom and I….we noticed the suitcase.” Clarke says and Lexa looks down at her hands. She honestly doesn’t know.

“I’m not sure.” She replies. She hears Clarke sigh.

“What about your parents?” Clarke asks and Lexa feels the lump in her throat and the knot in her stomach again. She wills herself not to cry and this time, she manages to force the tears back. But she figures there’s no harm in being honest. She’ll be out of Clarke’s hair soon enough.

“They kicked me out.” She mutters and Clarke gasps in surprise. The words hang in the air between them for a moment and then Clarke sharply inhales.

“That’s why the suitcase...oh god, is that all the stuff you have?” Clarke questions. Lexa nods.

“It’s what I could pack in the twenty minute time frame they gave me to get my things.” Lexa comments and she tries to sound like talking about it doesn’t feel like a knife slash to the chest but she’s not sure she’s succeeding.

“Why would they do that?” Clarke asks and Lexa’s not sure she really wants an answer but she’s on a roll with oversharing now so she figures she might as well keep going.

“I told them I’m a lesbian. They’re incredibly homophobic so they spit in my face, told me that I’m no daughter of theirs, and kicked me out.” She says flatly and she hears a loud bang. She looks up. Clarke has her hands slammed down on the counter and her face is flushing red. Lexa notices that her bagel has popped from the toaster but it would probably be bad form to point that out now.

“You’re going to stay here.” Clarke says and Lexa’s eyes widen. Oh no. She couldn’t. She already felt out of place enough staying one night. Staying any longer than that….well. She isn’t sure she could handle it.

“No, I couldn’t.” Lexa stutters and Clarke shakes her head.

“I’ll have to talk to my Mom but she wouldn’t kick you out to the curb - not knowing that you don’t have anywhere else to go. You can stay until you find somewhere, alright?” Clarke says and Lexa really has a feeling that she won’t take no for an answer and Lexa can’t find it in herself to protest so all she does is nod. “Good.” Clarke says and Lexa gestures behind her with her head.

“My bagel’s finished.”

-

Lexa sits on the stairs, her suitcase next to her, while she listens to Clarke argue with her Mother.

Lexa realizes that it had been naive of her to hope that Abby's kindness would extend past the night. But she’d let herself get her hopes up.

And really, Lexa ought to stop believing that the best really could happen for her. Life isn't that kind. Especially not to someone like her.

She hugs her knees to her chest and mentally runs through the list of everybody that she knows. An admittedly self-imposed, very short list. It's right now that she wishes she'd been friendlier to...well, everyone. The only person she can think of is her Uncle Gustus but he's all the way up in Washington and she can't afford a bus ticket to him. Plus, she hasn't seen him in years. She doubts he'd enjoy seeing his estranged niece on his front porch after years of no contact.

She figures there’s probably a children’s shelter somewhere that she can go to and that’s better than nothing. At least it’ll be a warm bed.

She’s gnawing on her bottom lip, picking at excess skin on her fingernails, when she feels something brush across her legs. There’s a gentle meow and Lexa looks down at her feet to find a large, fluffy white cat looking up at her with bright emerald eyes. The cat lets out another meow and knocks its head against Lexa’s leg. That gets a smile of out of her and she reaches down to run her hand across the top of top of its head. “Hey there.” She murmurs. There’s another meow and then the cat stands on its hind legs, resting the front paws on the tops of Lexa’s thighs. “You like living here?” Lexa asks and while she knows the cat won’t answer, it’s soothing to talk to something. “I suspect you do. It must be a good life. They probably feed you the highest quality cat food.” She says and all she gets in response is a purr. She laughs. “Must be nice.” She mutters, continuing to pet the cat.

She can’t hear the argument happening in the back room, not anymore, but it’s lasted a long time and Lexa can’t imagine this ending well for her. So she continues to pet the top of the cats head and she contemplates the merits of just slipping out of the door before either of them comes out of the back.

Just as she’s bracing herself to stand up, she hears footsteps.

Clarke swings herself around the bannister and sits next to Lexa. She glances down at the cat and sticks her tongue out at it, which makes Lexa chuckle. The cat is still resting its head on Lexa’s legs, purring in contentment as Lexa’s hand drags through fur. Clarke reaches across Lexa’s lap to pet the top of the cats head. “She normally hates people.” Clarke says as the cat pops one eye open and nips at Clarke’s fingers. “Including me.” Clarke replies with half a smile. Lexa doesn’t know what Clarke wants her to say because all she wants to do is ask about the fight. Clarke glances up at her and Lexa figures she can see the anxiousness in the wrinkles in her forehead because she gives Lexa a reassuring smile. “You want to know what happened, don’t you?” She asks and Lexa keeps her teeth locked on her bottom lip while she nods.

“Yeah.” She replies. Clarke sighs.

“She’s not a mean person, really.” Clarke starts and Lexa wants to interrupt and say that she knows that but Clarke continues before Lexa has a chance. “Things have been really hard for her since my Dad left. She’s used to it just being us.” And Clarke looks down at her lap, where her hands are resting. “She wants to talk to you.” Clarke says, looking up and Lexa feels her palms start to sweat. Her eyes widen and Clarke is quick to put a hand on her thigh to try and calm her down. “No, no not in a bad way. She just wants to know the whole story.” She says and that honestly doesn’t make Lexa any less nervous but she nods anyway. Clarke gives her a bright smile and for some reason, that calms the butterflies. “You’ll be fine. I’ll try and keep Buttercup from running away.” Clarke says and Lexa nods. She leaves the suitcase on the stairs as she walks into the study where Abby is standing at the window. Lexa clears her throat to announce her presence. Abby turns her head and smiles at Lexa.

“Come sit.” She says, gesturing to a big leather chair to her right and Lexa doesn’t feel like she’s in a position to say no so she walks to it and sits. Abby leans against the sill of the window. She sighs. “Why don’t you tell me what happened last night, Lexa?” She says and Lexa looks down at her hands.

“I came out to my parents.” She starts and she doesn’t want to have to go through this again but if telling this story one more time gets Abby to let her stay then she’ll do it. She has to. “They’ve never been the accepting sort. They grew up in the bible belt of the south. Their views stayed with them, you know?” She says and she knows she’s making excuses for them but it’s easier to do that than to accept that her parents are simply bigots and decided not to love her anymore simply on the basis of whom she chooses to love. “I told them about my sexuality and they kicked me out.” Lexa says and she’s proud of herself for managing to say it without tearing up. Maybe it will get easier. She watches Abby’s eyes soften with pity and Lexa figures she ought to get used to that.

“Oh, Lexa.” She says and she reaches a hand out to rest on Lexa’s shoulder. It takes everything in her not to shrug away from it. “Okay,” Abby starts, “Until you’re able to get yourself back on your feet, the guest room is yours.” She says with kindness and that makes Lexa start to tear up.

“Thank you.” Is all Lexa can choke out before the tears start to spill down her cheeks and she really, really hopes this whole crying thing stops soon because it’s never been something she’s done. She’s never been one to show her emotions on her face but she’s just so drained. It takes work to pretend she doesn’t feel anything and she just can’t find it in herself to do it. She can’t pretend she doesn’t feel the burn of this. It’s impossible.

She’s now, essentially, an orphan.

So she doesn’t try and stop the tears and when Abby wraps her arms around her shoulders, she doesn’t stiffen. She just leans in and lets herself be held.

-

She unpacks her suitcase and she only manages to fill a drawer and a half.

She’s lucky, she supposes, that her wardrobe mostly consists of baseball t-shirts and multiple pairs of black skinny jeans because it’s all she has.

Her weekend is nearly over. Granted, she still has tomorrow but Monday is slowly approaching and she has school. And no way to get there. Her school is on the other side of town - and she highly doubts that Abby will be willing to drive her Audi into the projects.

But that’s a problem for Monday. Right now, she just wants exhale. For the first time since last night, she feels like she can finally breathe. Yeah, she still has to find herself a place to live and probably get a job but she has somewhere to stay until she can do that. She doesn’t want to be a burden on Abby any longer than she has to be.

She’s stretched across the bed, Buttercup snuggled up to her side, when Clarke opens the door. She smiles. “Hey,” She says and Lexa props herself up on her elbows.

“Hey,” Lexa replies. Clarke lingers in the doorway, tapping her fingers on the frame. Lexa raises her eyebrows. “Did you want something?” She asks and Clarke looks up.

“So I have this cast and crew party for the show I’ve been working on and I know you probably just want to relax but I was just wondering if you wanted to come with me?” Clarke asks and if Lexa didn’t know any better, she would swear that Clarke was nervous. And yeah, she does want to relax but the thought of being here with just Abby unsettles her just slightly. So she nods. Clarke’s face lights up with a grin. “Perfect! I’m going to change and then we’ll go.” She says and the moment Clarke’s out of sight, it hits Lexa that there’s no way she’s going to fit in at this party. She assumes it’s going to be filled with people that are more like the stereotypes Lexa’s imagined.

She doesn’t move from the bed. Clarke comes back into the room, fully made up and dressed in a bright floral dress, and she looks at Lexa with a furrowed brow. “Are you ready?” She asks and Lexa bites down on her bottom lip. She shakes her head.

“I appreciate the invitation but I’m just going to stay here..” She says and she pretends she doesn’t see Clarke’s face fall.

“Oh. Okay.” She replies. She takes a step into the room. “Here, let me give you my number so if you change your mind, you can text me and I’ll give you the address.” She says and holds her hand out. Lexa puts her phone into Clarke’s palm and Lexa wonders how long she’ll even have access to her phone. She’s honestly a bit surprised her parents haven’t shut it off yet. Clarke puts her number into it and Lexa watches as she sends herself a text message. She hands the phone back to Lexa, who gives her a small smile.

“Have fun, Clarke.” Lexa says with her voice at a near whisper. Clarke smiles and looks down at the sleeping cat in Lexa’s lap.

“I can’t believe she likes you so much. I’m a little jealous.” Clarke says and Lexa’s face flushes. Clarke seems to realize what she’s said and color starts creeping across her neck so she backtracks, “Because, you know, we’ve had her for five years and she won’t sit with me for more than five minutes.” She says and Lexa just shrugs.

“I’ve always been good with animals.” Much better than with people, she thinks to herself. Clarke reaches down to pet Buttercup’s head and it’s almost like she senses Clarke because her eyes snap open and she swats at Clarke’s hand with her paw.

“Brat.” Clarke murmurs. She looks back up at Lexa. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” Clarke asks and Lexa nods.

“I have nowhere else to be.” Lex says and Clarke stares for a moment before she laughs. She gives Lexa one last smile before she walks out of the bedroom.

Lexa leans back against the pillows and within a few minutes, she’s fast asleep.

-

Lexa sleeps until noon the next day and when she walks down the stairs into the kitchen, Clarke is sitting at the island with her head cradled in her crossed arms. Abby is standing across from her, smirking, with a grapefruit half in her hand. She looks over at Lexa and smiles. “Good morning.” She says and Lexa gives a smile in way of greeting. She sits on the stool next to Clarke and she’s still trying to shake the feeling that she doesn’t belong here.

“Want anything to eat? I went to the Farmer’s Market this morning so we have a lot of fresh fruit.” Abby asks and Lexa nods. That grapefruit that Abby has does look appealing.

“I’ll take a grapefruit, thank you.” She replies and Abby nods, moving to the other side of the kitchen to prepare it. Clarke groans and it’s the first noise she’s made that alerts Lexa to the fact that she’s awake. She lifts her head and rests it on her palm. She gives a half smile to Lexa, who raises an eyebrow in return. “Good night?” Lexa asks and she spies love bites on the base of Clarke’s collarbone and for some reason her gut twists. Her hand, which is resting on the table, clenches into a fist and she really wishes she couldn’t see the hickeys on Clarke’s neck. Clarke has a lopsided smile on her face and she drags a hand across her chest.

“What I remember of it, yeah.” She says and she’s not at all quiet about it. Lexa glances over at Abby, who is still cutting the grapefruit as if Clarke hadn’t essentially admitted to underage drinking. “You should have come!” Clarke says, some pep finally returning to her voice and Lexa has to bite her tongue because what she wants to say would be considered rude and she doesn’t want to disrespect her hosts. So she forces a smile.

“Next time,” Lexa says and Clarke’s wide grin nearly makes Lexa forget why her temper was short in the first place.

Abby brings over the grapefruit halves and a spoon and Lexa starts to eat. Clarke starts to talk to her Mom about...something that really goes over Lexa’s head so she tunes out.

Her attention is brought back to the conversation when Clarke mentions school, which reminds her that she still has to ask Abby about tomorrow, which she does once Clarke gets up from the table to get more coffee.

“Right, you’re in school.” Abby blows some air out of the corner of her mouth. “Well, I leave for work at 7. If you can be ready before that, I’ll drive you down. You’ll have to take a bus back here but.” She finishes with a shrug and honestly, that was more than Lexa expected. Her own Mother never drove her to school.

And Lexa tries really, really hard not to keep wishing that Abby was her own Mother.

-

Clarke’s house is so big that Lexa nearly gets lost trying to find her way to the backyard.

While Lexa doesn’t know how long she’ll be staying, she figures it would be helpful to learn how to get from place to place.

Or at least find the laundry.

She passes more maids than she can count and she’s somewhere on the first floor of the house but honestly, she’s not sure where the hell she even is.

So she texts Clarke.

It takes just shy of five minutes for Clarke to find her and when she does, she has a grin on her face. Lexa clamps her eyes shut. “Don’t say a word.” She says through clenched teeth and Clarke just laughs.

“Fine, fine. I won’t say anything.” She says and she gestures with her head toward the exit of the room. “What were you looking for?” Clarke asks.

“The laundry.” Lexa replies and Clarke furrows her eyebrows.

“Why would you need to find the laundry?” She asks and she actually sounds...genuinely curious.

“Because I do my own laundry, Clarke.” Lexa responds and Clarke just shakes her head.

“Not while you’re here you don’t.” She says resolutely and while Lexa appreciates the sentiment, Lexa couldn’t ask someone else to do her laundry for her. Even if they were getting paid for it.

“I can’t ask you, or anybody else, to do more for me than you’re already doing, Clarke. The least I can do is my own laundry.” She says and there’s a sharpness to the edge of her voice that Clarke picks up on so she nods.

“Okay. It’s uh, just below the kitchen, in the farthest corner of the basement. For next time.” Clarke tells her and Lexa gives her a grateful half smile.

“Thank you.” She responds and they walk in silence up the stairs. They pause at the top and Lexa thinks that they’re just going to go their separate ways but instead, Clarke says,

“Do you maybe want to go out to the pool? I need to try and even out my tan and it’s relaxing out there.” She says and Lexa doesn’t see the harm - except she doesn’t have a bathing suit. It hadn’t been high on her list of priorities during her twenty minute pack job. She voices that concern to Clarke. “Oh I have a ton! You can borrow one of mine.” She reaches down and grabs Lexa’s hand and pulls her into her bedroom, one of the few rooms in the house that Lexa hasn’t seen.

It’s painted a pretty shade of ocean blue and there’s posters and drawings hung up everywhere. Lexa takes a step toward the wall, where a large picture of a forest is hanging. She reaches up and drags a few fingers across it. “Did you do this?” Lexa asks and Clarke looks up from the drawer she’s digging through. She squints at the picture that Lexa is pointing to and she nods.

“Yeah. End of last year for the showcase.” She replies and goes back to digging through the drawer as if it’s no big deal. As if this picture wasn’t one of the best goddamn pieces of art that Lexa’s ever seen. The fact that it came from a teenager? Well it blew Lexa’s mind.

“Clarke, this is incredible.” Lexa murmurs and Clarke just shrugs. She pulls a bikini from the drawer.

“It’s not my best. It was a little rushed, to be honest.” She tosses the bikini on the bed. “Do you mind if I change?” Clarke asks and Lexa shakes her head. Clarke grins and turns to face the opposite wall.

And then she’s pulling her shirt off, which is quickly followed by her bra and oh my god she really meant change.

Startled, Lexa tries to find something else on the wall to focus on while she tries to calm her rapidly beating heart. Holy. Shit.

Well, looks like she can’t pretend she hasn’t noticed just how attractive Clarke is anymore. Her face is flushed and she’s finally managed to bring her heartbeat down to a normal level when Clarke speaks again. “You can look through the drawer and find a suit for yourself. I wasn’t sure if you were a one piece or a two piece kind of girl so I figured I’d let you choose.” She says and Lexa turns around and she’s fairly certain her jaw drops at the sight of Clarke’s bathing suit.

It just barely covers what needs to be covered and makes her look much older than she is (which is something Lexa figures she ought to ask - how old exactly Clarke is). Clarke’s looking at Lexa with wide, pupil-blown eyes and Lexa needs to not be standing right in front of her right now because she may do something she regrets. So she ducks out of the way and walks toward the still open drawer, which is filled to the brim with different kinds of bathing suits and it once again blows Lexa away what kinds of things people with a lot of money can waste it on. Lexa pulls out the first one piece she finds and she tells Clarke that she’s going to change in her own room.

Clarke is waiting for her outside of her room, with two towels and a sketch book in her hands. “Ready?” She asks and Lexa nods. They walk down the stairs and outside together. It’s the first real look Lexa’s gotten at the pool and it’s….extravagant. Just like everything else in this house. It sits on the edge of hill and it overlooks the rest of Orange County. “Pretty, huh?” Clarke says and Lexa blinks, bringing her attention back over to Clarke. She nods.

“Gorgeous.” She replies and she’s honestly not sure if she’s talking about the view or Clarke.

Clarke’s got her feet in the water and her sketchbook resting on her lap. She’s hunched over and she’s starting to sketch something that Lexa can’t see. Lexa just stands at the edge with her feet in the water and she stares at Clarke.

She wonders, maybe, if they’d met under different circumstances, at a different time, if Lexa would let herself make a move.

Probably not.

Under any circumstance, Lexa wouldn’t be good enough for Clarke.

The sun starts to set and Clarke is still sketching. Lexa is watching the sunset and it really is one of the prettiest sunsets she’s ever seen in her life.

She doesn’t even notice that every few seconds, Clarke is glancing up at her and then back down to the sketchbook.

Eventually, Lexa’s legs start to feel tired so she moves to sit next to Clarke, who very quickly turns the page of her sketchbook to a fresh one. They sit in silence for a few moments until Lexa asks, “How old are you?” Clarke looks up and she furrows her brow.

“Seventeen.” She raises an eyebrow, “Why?” She asks and Lexa shrugs, dragging her foot up through the water.

“I was just curious.” She replies, “You’ve taken me in but I don’t really know anything about you nor do you really know anything about me - aside from my sexual orientation and poor parental situation.” Clarke looks up and laughs.

“You’re telling me that’s not all you need to know about a person?” She replies with a glint in her eye and Lexa, for the first time since all of this started, really smiles. “You have a nice smile.” Clarke says, looking back down at her sketchbook. “You should use it more often.” She continues and Lexa can feel herself blushing.

“Maybe I’ll have a reason to.” She shoots back and she watches color creep up the side of Clarke’s neck and into her cheeks. She figures it’s probably from the sun.

“Maybe you will.” Clarke replies, looking up from her sketchbook and out into the horizon.

-

She’s been staying with the Griffin’s for a week and already she feels a bit like she’s overstaying her welcome.

They’ve been perfectly sweet to her, Clarke even hanging out with her after school when she really didn’t have to. But she still feels….fake. Like she doesn’t belong. Because Clarke comes home from school wearing her short, plaid uniform skirt, her light blue button up, and her tie and she tells her Mother about her day with classmates that are all heirs to some kind of fortune and the most Lexa has to say is ‘the pizza didn’t have mold on it today’.

She’s poor.

She’s always been poor.

She grew up with parents that barely made it work paycheck to paycheck. That’s the life she knows.

She doesn’t know anything about private school or what kind of squid to serve at the dinner party this weekend.

And as much as she appreciates the Griffin’s taking her in, she doesn’t think that she can stay.

She’s been doing a lot of thinking. Mostly about Costia.

Costia broke up with her because she wasn’t ready to come out and Costia already was.

Well now she’s out. There’s nothing keeping them apart anymore.

And Lexa really did love Costia. She was….well she was everything Lexa had ever dreamed of.

(And Lexa tries really, really hard not to think about the fact that lately, she’s been waking up from dreams with the faint image of a blonde with blue eyes in her vision).

But now that there’s nothing standing in their way, Lexa thinks it’s time to get Costia back.

And then she can leave Clarke’s house because she’ll always feel more at home with Costia, in the pool house, than she will in this fucking castle.

But then she thinks about leaving Clarke and for some reason that makes her stomach churn.

Clarke’s been an incredible friend to her. She spends most nights in Lexa’s room with her, talking her ear off about whatever she finds that they have in common. History is most common. They both have a keen knowledge of history. Clarke’s is, of course, a bit more vast but only because of her education.

And Lexa has tried to swallow the butterflies that erupt in her stomach whenever Clarke looks at her because she’s never fallen victim to a straight girl and she doesn’t plan on doing so now. Especially not when the straight girl in question is Clarke - the closest thing she’s had to a friend ever in her life.

But that’s hard to do when Clarke looks at her like she puts the fucking stars in the sky.

(And if Lexa’s being really honest with herself, she knows she probably looks at Clarke in the same way - but at least she has a reason for that! Clarke saved her. Who knows where she would have ended up if Clarke hadn’t stopped her car that night.)

Clarke is her friend. Nothing more than that. She won’t let herself get her hopes up. She knows better.

Lexa is sitting in the backyard, next to the pool, reading her history textbook, when Clarke comes home.

She finds her immediately, as she’s taken to doing for the past week, and she sits on the lounge chair next to Lexa with a huff. Lexa raises an eyebrow. “Is there something wrong, Clarke?” Lexa asks and really, she already knows the answer.

“I hate boys.” Clarke mutters. Lexa chuckles.

“Sounds complicated.” She mutters and she feels a twinge because while most of her knew Clarke was straight there was still a part of her that was just….hoping. Maybe.

“Finn is an entitled ass.” Clarke says and Lexa has a feeling that she’s not going to be getting much reading done. “He’s escorting Raven at cotillion but he had the fucking nerve to ask me to be his date to the after party.” And Lexa just furrows her brow because honestly, this is so above her head. She barely even knows what a fucking cotillion is. “I told him he could shove his foot up his ass, so I don’t think I’ll be seeing much of him anymore.” She murmurs and that makes Lexa laugh. “I told Raven she should do the same thing because honestly, she deserves better.” Clarke continues to rant and honestly, Lexa thinks she’s really kind of cute when she’s riled up. “But now I’m both escortless for cotillion and dateless for the after party.” She sighs, She leans back against the chair and Lexa can’t help but notice her skirt sliding up her leg. “I wish I could just take you.” And that makes Lexa’s heart skip a beat. Oh no.

She doesn’t need this.

Clarke is looking up at her through her eyelashes. Lexa swallows. “Is it different? Being with a girl?” Clarke asks and Lexa shrugs.

“I’ve never been with a boy so I’m afraid I don’t have a point of reference there.” Lexa says and Clarke’s eyes widen.

“So you’ve always just been interested in girls?” Clarke says and Lexa can hear the curiosity laced in her voice. “You know, I’ve always wondered. What it would be like. Girls lips looks softer.” Clarke comments and oh no. Clarke is leaning forward again and Lexa’s knee is bouncing and she’s afraid that if Clarke comes any closer, Lexa won’t be able to tell her to stop. “Yours look really soft.” She murmurs and Clarke is barely a few inches away from her now and Lexa feels her breath hitch.

“Clarke….” Lexa whispers and she licks her lips. Clarke’s eyes follow her tongue.

“Tell me to stop, Lexa.” Clarke says and Lexa closes her eyes.

“I can’t do that.” She says and Clarke is so close she can feel her breath against her mouth and wow, this is really going to happen.

And then there’s the sound of sliding doors and Lexa’s eyes snap open and Clarke leaps backwards too and it’s like a trance has been broken. Lexa looks behind her shoulder and sees a girl she doesn’t recognize but she’s wearing the same uniform as Clarke so she assumes it’s someone from her school. Clarke’s face lights up in recognition.

“Raven! Hey, what are you doing here?” Clarke asks and Raven shoots a questioning look down to Lexa and suddenly, Lexa feels incredibly uncomfortable. Lexa stands and she gives a short smile down to Clarke.

“I’ll be in my room.” She says at a near whisper and she pushes past Raven. She’s just a few steps into the kitchen when she hears,

“Okay, what the hell was that?”

And Lexa really doesn’t want to stick around to hear Clarke make excuses so she walks upstairs and locks the door.

She really needs to get out of here.

-

She avoids Clarke for the rest of the night but the next morning when she comes downstairs, Abby is waiting for her with a grin. She raises her eyebrows and puts a hand on her shoulder and says, “Come here, I have something to show you.” And Lexa really doesn’t know what she could possibly have to show her at 7:30 in the morning. There’s a tarp that’s clearly covering something and Lexa’s breath hitches. Abby stands at the edge of it. “I figure that since you wouldn’t be able to get back to your house to grab your own, and you’ve mentioned it a few times, I’d just get you a new one.” And she pulls the tarp down to reveal an old-fashioned bicycle and holy shit - it’s a Schwinn. She’s always wanted a Schwinn but she’s never been able to afford it. Lexa’s eyes go wide and her fingers are shaking and she’s not quite sure what to say because just a simple thank you isn’t enough for this.

“I can’t accept this.” Lexa says with a shaking voice and Abby shakes her head.

“It’s yours, Lexa. You need a ride to school and a ride back here that’s not public transportation.” And Abby has a point. Taking the bus back from school hasn’t exactly been the most delightful experience of her life and this would come in handy to have. Abby’s looking at her with kindness and affection in her eyes and Lexa can’t find it in herself to say no.

She knows that if she opens her mouth, she’s going to cry so she just hugs Abby instead. It’s a little awkward - because Lexa’s never really been much of a hugger to begin with but it’s enough. Lexa hopes she’s able to communicate just how grateful she is through the touch. “Go, you’re going to be late.” Abby says with a smile and yeah, she totally gets it.

It rides beautifully - just as Lexa expected. She locks it with two locks so nobody steals it.

-

It’s 1am on Friday night and Lexa is flipping through the channels with Buttercup on her lap when she hears a knock on the door. She knows that Clarke went out and it seems a bit early for her to be home. “Come in.” She calls anyway and Clarke’s head pokes through the crack in the door. Lexa gestures with her head to come in. She doesn’t seem drunk - but if there’s anything Lexa’s learned in the time that she’s spent with the Griffin’s, it’s that Clarke can hold her liquor. She gives Lexa a smile and she sits down on the edge of the bed, by Lexa’s feet. “How was your night?” Lexa asks and Clarke shrugs.

“Fine.” Is all she says and that’s unusual. Normally, she’s eager to talk about her evenings out.

“Are you alright?” Lexa asks and Clarke looks up, nodding.

“Yeah, yeah I’m fine.” She says and her tongue darts out to lick her lips and Lexa tries really hard not to stare at it. “You know, I went out with the intention of drinking enough to forget about you.” Clarke starts and Lexa’s eyes widen. “I had two shots and all I could think about was what you were doing or how much better the liquor would taste if it was on your lips.” Clarke says. She laughs and it’s bitter. “I can’t get you out of my head. And it scares the hell out of me, Lexa.” She looks back down at her lap and Lexa has a feeling she’s still not done talking. “I’ve never thought about another girl the way I think about you.” She mumbles and Lexa realizes she might be a little bit drunker than she thought. Lexa sighs. She wants to reach out and touch her, comfort her because she knows what this is like. She knows how confusing it can be. Clarke leans her head back, tears in her eyes. “I’m not going to cry.” She mumbles and Lexa bites down on her bottom lip.

“You can. Cry. If you want.” Lexa replies and she sees Clarke’s bottom lip trembling. She sits up with her back against the headboard and she waits for Clarke to make the next move.

“I’m not upset. I’m not.” She says and Lexa nods.

“Of course you’re not.” Lexa replies even though she really doesn’t believe her. Clarke sniffles and then she looks up at Lexa, ocean blue eyes flooded with tears.

“Can I just...can you…” She trails off but Lexa thinks that she knows what she’s asking, She opens her arms and Clarke falls into them.

She doesn’t cry for long but she remains in the crook of Lexa’s neck. Lexa is absentmindedly stroking the side of her arm. The room is silent, save for Buttercup’s purring. Clarke reaches across and pets her head. “She doesn’t bite me anymore.” Clarke comments and Lexa chuckles. “Thank you.” Clarke whispers and Lexa hears her breathing start to even out and she knows Clarke’s falling asleep. She waits a few more moments before responding.

“Anytime.” She whispers against Clarke’s hair.

-

Clarke is gone when she wakes up the next morning and really, Lexa can’t say that she’s surprised.

-

She doesn’t bring that night up again and everything returns to normal.

Lexa’s decided that she can’t focus on the way that Clarke makes her heart speed up anymore because clearly, Clarke’s figured herself out and her decision doesn’t include Lexa. What it does include though, is more hickeys from, Lexa assumes, Finn.

She decides to call Costia.

Lexa’s sitting at the foot of her bed and her foot is tapping anxiously against the carpet. It rings for a long time and Lexa thinks that Costia isn’t going to answer.

But she does.

And her voice sounds just as sweet as Lexa remembers.

All it takes is one question for Lexa to fall apart and tell Costia everything. From coming out to her parents to the Griffin’s taking her in (of course, she leaves the bit about almost kissing Clarke out because it’s not relevant anymore).

And when Costia tells her that she’s proud of her, Lexa finally feels like she made the right decision that night.

She was, after all, the reason Lexa did this in the first place.

They talk for nearly half an hour and they agree to meet for coffee.

Lexa hangs up the phone and she can’t tell if she feels relieved, happy, or something else entirely. Her door is open a crack and from her spot on the bed, she can see Clarke leaning on the wall across from the door. She’s got her head bowed and her hands behind her back. She looks up and they make eye contact. Clarke’s eyes are brimmed with tears and it’s clear to Lexa that she’d been there for much longer than a few seconds. Lexa moves to stand and then Clarke pushes off the wall and walks into her room, slamming the door.

The silence echoes louder than the slam of the door and suddenly every ounce of joy she’d felt at talking to Costia is gone and is replaced by the image of Clarke’s tear filled eyes.

-

Clarke knocks on her door the next morning. Lexa doesn’t move from bed when she yells for Clarke to come in.

She feels weak. Her chest is congested and she feels like she might vomit at any moment. Clarke already has her uniform on and her bookbag slung over her shoulder. She furrows her brows when she sees Lexa still bundled up beneath her sheets. “Are you okay?” She asks and Lexa can barely manage to get out a grunt in response. “I’ll take that as a no.” Clarke says and she drops her bookbag in the doorway. She takes a few steps in the room and stands in front of Lexa. She puts her hand on her forehead and her eyes widen. “You’re on fire.” She says and Lexa just groans again. “I’ll be right back.” Clarke says and she disappears from the room. She comes back a few minutes later, in her pajamas and a few movies in her hands. Lexa tries to raise an eyebrow but she’s fairly certain her face muscles are failing her. “Scoot over. I’m staying with you.” Clarke says and Lexa tries to protest but Clarke just rests a finger on her lips. “Nope, you don’t have a say. You’re sick and I’m going to take care of you.” She continues and Lexa smiles against her finger. “You want anything before I sit down?” Clarke asks and Lexa shakes her head.

Because really, the only thing that Lexa wants is right next her.

Clarke settles in next to her after she slides Hot Chick into the DVD player. She reaches an arm around Lexa’s shoulders, and she stiffens against the touch momentarily, but then she relaxes into Clarke’s side. She smells good. She always does. “This is one of my favorite movies to watch when I’m sick. It has just the right amount of dumb humor to make me forget how shitty I feel.” Clarke comments and Lexa laughs into her shoulder.

She feels better now that Clarke is next to her.

They spend the whole day watching dumb movies. Clarke only gets up to make her soup - twice and to say hello to her Mother.

Lexa’s just past the line of ‘too sick to care’ and she reaches up and drags a few fingers across Clarke’s collarbone, where a few fading hickeys are still present. “Who gave them to you?” She asks and her words are slurred. Clarke exhales.

“Nobody important.” She says and Lexa still really wants to know but she lets it drop.

Lexa is close to falling asleep and Clarke is rubbing her temples with her fingers when she finally brings it up. “So I know you saw me last night.” She whispers and Lexa just nods. She doesn’t know what she could possibly say. Yes, I saw you crying outside of my room after clearly eavesdropping on a conversation with my ex-girlfriend? “I didn’t mean to listen.” Clarke starts and she’s stopped rubbing her temples, instead just dragging her hand through her hair now. “I was coming to ask you if you wanted to watch a movie with me and then I heard you talking and there was something different about your tone. You sounded lighter.” Clarke sighs. “I was going to walk away, I was, and then you said her name and I couldn’t.” She sounds like she’s choking up again and Lexa doesn’t know what to say. “Do you still love her?” Clarke asks and that’s a loaded question.

Before Clarke, that answer was a strong, resounding yes.

Now? Well now she’s not so sure.

The only thing she is sure of is that she and Clarke aren’t a good match. They’re just too different. Even though Lexa’s penetrating this bubble now, they’re still from two different worlds. Lexa would just never fit in with Clarke’s circle and that’s all there is to it.

And Clarke doesn’t even know who she is.

Lexa won’t be anybody’s experiment. Not even Clarke’s.

So she does what she has to.

She nods and whispers, “Yes.”

And she tries to convince herself that she really does mean it.

She pretends she doesn’t feel Clarke’s tears hitting her forehead.

-

Clarke’s gone when Lexa wakes up and Lexa starts to wonder if that’s going to be a pattern.

She feels better. At least today she’s able to breathe properly. Which she supposes is a good thing because she has her coffee date with Costia in the afternoon.

Clarke is already downstairs when Lexa walks into the kitchen. She’s alone, sitting at the island, scrolling through her phone and she doesn’t bother looking up when Lexa walks into the room. “There’s waffles in the microwave.” She mumbles, swiping her bag off the stool and swinging it over her shoulder. She’s nearly halfway out of the kitchen when Lexa says,

“Stop. Clarke.” And she listens - she freezes. “I’m sorry about last night.” Lexa murmurs and Clarke’s shoulders fall.

“You have nothing to be sorry about.” She says and she’s still not facing Lexa.

“I hurt you.” Lexa says plainly and Clarke takes a sharp breath.

“Funny, I’d have to care for you to be able to hurt me.” She says before walking out of the front door.

Lexa stays frozen in her spot and the rational part of her brain tells her that Clarke doesn’t mean it - she’s just hurt and upset.

But then there’s the part that still feels like an open fucking wound. The part that still aches whenever she thinks about her parents that tells her that she was naive to think that anybody could really care about her at all. That she was foolish to believe that somebody like Clarke could look at her and go, “I care for her”.

And she tries not to listen to that voice, truly she does, because she knows it’s wrong but it’s much easier to give into.

She has to stop twice on her bike ride to school because her vision is too clouded by tears for her to keep moving.

-

Lexa isn’t even thinking of Costia when she sits down at the table with a coffee in hand.

Her head is still with Clarke. She’d tried texting her but no response.

Costia sits across from her, as beautiful as ever, and Lexa doesn’t feel anything when she looks at her.

No butterflies.

No sense of home.

Lexa spends most of the date glancing down at her phone, hoping that Clarke’s texted her back. The conversation with Costia is stilted and one-sided because Lexa can’t keep her eyes off of her screen for more than ten seconds at a time.

Lexa’s only halfway through her cup of coffee when Costia sighs and says, “You don’t really want to be here, do you?” And Lexa looks up at her guiltily because she had hoped that it wouldn’t be that obvious.

“When I made this date, I really thought that I did.” Lexa confesses and Costia gives her a lopsided, defeated kind of smile.

“It’s Clarke.” She says simply and really, Lexa had forgotten just how perceptive Costia had always been. Lexa just nods. She shakes her head. “You always did like shiny things” She mutters and Lexa bites down on her bottom lip because she really does feel terrible about this. She really did want to feel the same way about Costia that she used to. She wishes that she did. It would be easier.

But her heart is with Clarke now and she has to admit that. “Don’t be a stranger, okay, Lexa? I’m always going to be here for you. If things get too stifling up at Chateau Griffin, you always have me.” Costia says, offering Lexa the out that she’s been waiting for.

But she doesn’t want it anymore.

She gives Costia a hug and as she walks away from her, it really does feel like goodbye.

-

She walks back to the Griffin’s house with a weight off of her shoulders.

Her heart feels light and she thinks that maybe she’s ready to tell Clarke that if she wants her, in any capacity, that she is completely hers.

Lexa rushes through the front door. She moves into the kitchen, where sitting around the island, sharing laughter, is Abby and Clarke...and some boy with shaggy hair who has an arm thrown across Clarke’s shoulders.

So maybe she did mean it when she said she didn’t care.

And there’s that naivete again.

She really ought to stop believing the best in people. She’s never been anything but wrong.

Abby smiles at Lexa but Clarke won’t meet her eyes. She’s staring down and her lap and Lexa won’t take her eyes off of her. Look at me, Clarke, Lexa thinks, Tell me this isn’t what I think it is. “Lexa, why don’t you come sit with us? Bellamy’s joining us for dinner and we’re just waiting on the pizza.”

She doesn’t recognize the name but it still makes her stomach churn.  She clenches her jaw.

“I still don’t feel too well.” She mutters and she doesn’t wait for a response before she turns around and nearly runs up the stairs.

-

She doesn’t cry even though there’s tears pushing at the edge of her eyes.

Buttercup is sitting on her bed. She crawls into Lexa’s lap and Lexa starts to pet her. “You’re lucky you don’t have feelings.” Lexa mutters and Buttercup meows. “It was foolish of me to think that she actually cared for me...like that.” Lexa continues and really, that much was true. Clarke is a masterpiece. Lexa’s lucky if she can even consider herself a doodle on the margins of a sixth graders math homework.

And it was naive of her to believe that Clarke was anything more than confused when she’d tried to kiss her.

Lexa drags her hands down her arms and she tries to erase the memory of Clarke’s arms around her.

(It doesn’t work.)

It doesn’t help that Lexa’s pillows still smell like Clarke. It’s like she’s surrounded. Clarke’s scent is suffocating her and she feels like she’s going to choke on it.

She can’t be here.

She walks down the stairs and slips out the back door. She hears laughter from the kitchen and she pretends she doesn’t feel the sting in her chest.

She picks her bike up off the front lawn and she just starts to ride. She doesn’t know where she’s going. She really doesn’t have anywhere to go.

She just rides, letting her feet pedal her where they may.

It takes thirty minutes but she ends up in front of her old house.

Where a for sale sign sits on the front lawn.

There are no lights on in the house and no car in the driveway.

They’re gone.

They left.

And they didn’t even tell her.

Lexa’s gut twists and she drops the bike on the front lawn and moves to the front door. She bangs on it, yelling at the top of her lungs, hoping that she’s wrong. Hoping that they’re just parked on the street and they didn’t just leave her here.

“Quit yelling!” Someone says from an open window in the house next door and Lexa snaps her mouth shut.

They really are gone

She backs away from the front porch and she she collapses onto the lawn, next to her bike.

She isn’t crying. She just feels numb.

Like someone’s just dumped a bucket of ice water on her and stuck her out in below freezing temperatures to just deal with the elements.

Her breath is caught in her throat.

Maybe she’d been hoping that one day, she’d get a call from her Mother, saying that they miss her and they want her to come home.

And it stings to know that they were able to leave and not even tell that they were doing so. They really didn’t love her anymore.

She’s not sure how long she sit there, trying to regulate her breathing, before her phone starts to vibrate on her thigh. “Hello?” She says mechanically because she isn’t sure she’s even in control of anything right now.

“Lexa, thank fucking god. Where are you?” It’s Clarke. Lexa sighs.

“My house.” She mumbles.

“Give me an address, Lexa.” Clarke asks harshly and Lexa just blinks.

“I have my bike.” She says and Clarke just huffs.

“We’re already in the car. Just tell us where you are.” Clarke responds and it sounds like she’s begging. So Lexa murmurs her address into the receiver. “We’ll be there in ten.” Clarke says and hangs up before Lexa has a chance to say anything.

Her hands are shaking and her ears have started to go numb by the time a car pulls up in front of the house. Clarke rushes out of the passenger seat and she falls to her knees, throwing her arms around Lexa. Her arms still hang limply at her sides and Clarke pulls back, resting her hands on Lexa’s shoulders. “Are you okay? God, why didn’t you tell us you were going somewhere? I went to your room to bring you some pizza and Buttercup was sitting on the bed by herself and you were gone.” Clarke rambles and it’s like she can’t get the words out of her mouth fast enough.

“I’m sorry,” Lexa mutters and her brain still isn’t working properly. Clarke just leans in and hugs her again. This time, Lexa drags her arms up and rests them on the blades of Clarke’s shoulders.

“I was so scared.” Clarke whispers into Lexa’s hair. “Your bike was gone and I thought you just left.” And Lexa’s heart skips a beat because Clarke doesn’t want her to go.

Clarke wants her to stay.

Something not even her parents wanted.

“Never.” Lexa whispers and it scares her just how much she means it. She never wants to leave Clarke. Not if she has a choice. Clarke pulls back and she has a watery smile on her face.

“Good.” Clarke says and she drags her hand down Lexa’s arm and grabs her hand. “Let’s go, my Mom’s waiting.” Lexa squeezes Clarke’s hand as they stand together. Lexa has to let it go to grab her bike and the second that Clarke’s hand leaves hers, she misses the feeling of it.

They both sit in the backseat on the drive back to Clarke’s house. Their intertwined hands dangle between the seats.

-

Clarke stays with her.

Lexa is leaning against Clarke’s chest and Clarke is running her fingers through Lexa’s hair. They’re sitting in the dark and they’re both silent.

“They left.” Lexa mutters, breaking the silence.

“Who?” Clarke asks.

“My parents. They’re selling the house and they’re gone.” Lexa mutters and part of her still can’t believe it. Can’t believe they really just left her. Clarke’s exhale is long.

“I’m sorry, Lexa.” She says and Lexa appreciates it even though it really has nothing to do with her.

“Don’t be.” Lexa says. They go quiet again for a moment. “You saved me.” Lexa continues and she turns her head up to look at Clarke.

“What do you mean?” She says with furrowed eyebrows.

“That night. You stopped your car when nobody else did. You saved me.” Lexa says and Clarke leans down and kisses the top of Lexa’s head.

“I’m glad I stopped.” Clarke says. “Picking you up off of that corner is the best decision I’ve ever made.” Clarke continues and Lexa doesn’t even try and stop the eruption of butterflies in her stomach.

And it’s easy now for her to admit that she’s fallen completely for Clarke.

She’s…..the best thing that’s ever happened to Lexa.

And even though she doesn’t fit into Clarke’s world, she fits perfectly in her arms and that’s all that really matters.

She’s nearly asleep and she’s not sure if she dreams it but she hears Clarke whisper ‘I love you’.

-

Clarke is still next to her when she wakes up the next morning. It’s the first time Lexa’s woken up after falling asleep next to Clarke to find her still there. She looks relaxed. Peaceful. There’s a stray piece of hair falling in front of Clarke’s face and Lexa carefully tucks it behind her ear.

Clarke shifts in her sleep, mumbling, “Five more minutes,” and Lexa laughs.

Lexa picks up her phone and the first thing she sees are two notifications from Facebook. A friend request and a message.

From her Uncle Gustus.

Lexa quickly accepts his friend request and opens up the message. It reads.

Lexa,

I know it’s been years since you have heard from me and I wish to apologize for that.

Unfortunately, my separation from you was not my call. Your Father, my brother, forbid me to see you after my wedding.

My husband and I moved to Washington and once I told my brother that I had married another man, he told me I was no longer welcome in his home and I could no longer see you.

Your situation has been brought to my attention and I’d like to extend an invitation for you to come and stay with me. I don’t know where you are now but being with family, especially during a time like this, is important.

I deeply regret that I listened to my brother when he told me to stop seeing you. Had I been a little more stubborn, I could have saved you from this. I know how it feels to be left out in the cold by your family and I want you to know that you still have me. I know that I’m far from Orange County and it would be a leap for you but I want you here.

If you’d like to arrange a visit, to get the feel of the area, we can make that happen.

I’m here for you, Lexa.

And Lexa’s heart is suddenly in her throat.

Her Uncle Gustus was gay. That’s why she hadn’t seen him in years. Her Father wouldn’t let him near her.

They were never going to change their minds. They were willing to throw any family member away for their sexuality and Lexa wishes she would have known about Gustus because it would have saved her so much heartbreak. Saved her from getting hopeful.

And more than that, she wishes that this message would have come just a bit earlier.

Because she has Clarke now.

She has something here worth staying for.

But she wants to visit. She wants to see him.

Because he gets it.

He understands exactly how Lexa is feeling.

So she sends a short message back.

I’m on break next week. Can I come then?

And it doesn’t take more than five minutes for her to get an answer.

Of course. I’ll buy you a plane ticket.

Twenty minutes and a hushed phone conversation later, Lexa’s booked herself a ticket to visit her uncle in Washington.

-

Clarke’s starting rehearsals for cotillion and Lexa thinks there’s nothing more adorable than Clarke trying to learn to waltz.

She practices with Bellamy (a neighbor, Lexa learns, and Clarke’s escort for cotillion) in the living room and Lexa watches from the couch, Buttercup on her lap.

Clarke keeps stepping on Bellamy’s toes and Bellamy won’t drop his hand any lower than the middle of Clarke’s back and it’s throwing off their whole dynamic, which, frankly, is hilarious for Lexa to watch.

Bellamy leaves and Clarke throws her heels off in the middle of the floor. She collapses next to Lexa on the couch. “We’re not going to survive cotillion.” Clarke mutters and Lexa reaches across and grabs Clarke’s hand. She strokes her thumb across her knuckles.

“You are going to be fine.” Lexa reassures. Clarke’s face is a bright red and Lexa’s not sure if it’s from dancing or the way Lexa is holding her hand.

They’ve been in this weird, middle ground ever since the night at Lexa’s house.

They hold hands and they stare at each other for much longer than be considered platonic but neither of them has made a move to take it further.

And Lexa wants Clarke to be the one to make the first move because Lexa needs to know that this is something that Clarke wants but that’s getting harder and harder to do when all she thinks about, even during innocent moments, is how Clarke’s lips would feel against hers.

Clarke squeezes her hand and says, “Alright, I need to keep practicing. Up you go.” Clarke says and Lexa widens her eyes.

“What? With me?” Lexa asks and Clarke raises an eyebrow.

“I don’t see anybody else in this living room.” She replies and Lexa bites her lip.

“I would much worse than Bellamy - I have no idea how to dance.” Lexa says and Clarke shrugs.

“I just need to practice the movements, come on, it’ll be fine!” Clarke says and she’s looking at her with wide eyes and honestly, Lexa can’t really say no to Clarke so she stands and lets Clarke lead her into the middle of the room.

Clarke rests a hand on her shoulder and Lexa tries to remember exactly how Bellamy had his hands. Lexa wraps her arm around Clarke’s back and they keep their other hands intertwined. Lexa’s hand is resting on the middle of her back and Clarke shakes her head. “Lower.” She says and Lexa moves it down just a smidge. Clarke looks at her with a raised eyebrow. Lexa bows her hand and moves it down until it hits the small of her back. “There.” Clarke says. “Pull me closer.” She whispers and Lexa swallows but she does as she’s told and pulls Clarke closer to her. They’re pressed flush up against each other now.

Clarke is looking up into Lexa’s eyes and Lexa’s breath hitches. Clarke’s got her bottom lip between her teeth and Lexa exhales. Her breath is shaky when she says, “Are we going to move?” Clarke remains still and her eyes are locked on Lexa’s.

“You’re leading.” Clarke whispers and she’s just so close. Lexa leans down. Their foreheads rest together and their bodies start to sway and it’s nothing close to a waltz but Lexa can’t focus on moving properly when she’s got Clarke this close to her.

There’s no music playing but as they continue to sway, Clarke starts to hum the tune to something that Lexa probably knows but right now can’t recognize.

“Clarke.” Lexa murmurs and she’s staring down at Clarke’s lips.

“Do it.” Clarke whispers.

And Lexa does.

She leans down and presses her lips against Clarke’s and it’s everything she’d imagined it to be. Clarke’s lips are soft the way they move against hers. Lexa feels like every misaligned piece in her body is fixed while Clarke is pressed against her.

Lexa pulls back and she brushes her nose across Clarke’s with her eyes still closed.

“Wow,” Clarke murmurs and Lexa laughs lightly.

“You can say that again.” Lexa responds.

Wow.” Clarke does in fact repeat and Lexa can’t do anything but lean down and kiss her again.

-

Lexa kisses Clarke every chance that she gets.

Over the kitchen counter during breakfast, when the pass each other in the hall, in between breaks during video games, and especially right before she goes to bed.

Lexa thinks that kissing Clarke is the quite possibly the best thing on the planet.

She doesn’t think she’ll ever get tired of it.

Clarke kisses her, long and hard, before she boards the plane to Washington and Lexa holds onto the memory of that last kiss during the flight.

Gustus meets her at the gate and despite not having seen him in over ten years, he still looks the exact same. He’s got a long ponytail and a fluffy beard and he stretches out his arms and Lexa runs right into them. He embraces her and when he pulls back, he rests his hands on her shoulders and looks at her with tears in his eyes. “You’re all grown up.” He whispers and Lexa dips her head. She has so many things running through her head - so many things she wants to say and questions that she wants to ask but she just settles for,

“Your beard is so long.” She reaches up and touches it and he throws his head back in laughter. He straightens them out but keeps his arm wrapped around her shoulders. He squeezes her tightly against his side.

“Let’s go. Daniel’s waiting for us with dinner.” He says and honestly, being with Gus feels like coming home.

-

Gus lives in the middle of the forest and it’s the most relaxing house she’s ever been in.

His husband, Daniel, has a sweet smile and an even sweeter personality.

He welcomes Lexa into their house with a hug. He’s clean shaven tall, and wears nice shoes even though the moment he steps out of the door, he’s stepping in mud. He doesn’t look at all like the kind of person Lexa would have imagined Gus ending up with. Though, until a week ago, she’d thought he was interested in women.

They have a daughter - a five month old named Anya. She’s got chubby cheeks and Lexa can’t help but smile when she looks down at her.

They eat together and they spend most of the meal catching up. Lexa asks all of the questions that have been running through her mind since she got Gus’ message.

He’s always known he was interested in men to a degree but he knew what kind of family that he had so he was terrified to come out. And then he met Daniel, who encouraged him to just be himself, and he let him know that even if he lost his family - he would always have him.

They’ve been married for ten years and even if he hadn’t said it, Lexa could tell by the smile on his face that he’s extraordinarily happy. She wonders if she looks that happy when she’s with Clarke.

Gus puts Anya to sleep at 8 and goes to bed soon after. Lexa resists every urge to call him an old man but Daniel doesn’t. Gus smiles and kisses his husband and then Lexa on the cheek before he goes to sleep.

Lexa and Daniel are sitting by themselves in the living room. They’re silent for a few moments but Daniel breaks it quickly. “Gus didn’t really want to ask but I have to know - Clarke. She someone special?” He asks and Lexa laughs. She feels color creeping up her neck and into her cheeks.

“I think so.” She replies and Daniel smiles.

“I could tell by the way you lit up like a Christmas tree when you talked about her. She’s the one you’re living with?” He asks. Lexa nods.

“Yeah.” and Daniel’s smile drops just a little bit.

“Look, I know that she might be….a big reason for you to stay in Orange County.” Daniel starts and Lexa’s stomach churns. Oh no. “But, I have to say, I don’t think that’s the place for you. We want you here with us, Lexa. You’re family.” Daniel says and Lexa’s heartaches because much as this place already feels like it could be home - she can’t imagine leaving Clarke. Not now that’s she’s only just found her. “Abby might be opening her home to you for now but, when it comes down to it, you’re not her daughter. And supporting you will get to be too much for her. You need to be with family, Lexa. And it’s only a two and a half hour flight from Orange County up here.” Daniel explains and there’s part of Lexa that knows that he’s right.

She can’t stay with Abby forever. She doesn’t have a job and she has no way to support herself down in Orange County. Here, she’d have everything. She’d have people to support her and a room that she can decorate because no matter what, it’s going to be hers. She won’t have to walk on eggshells in fear of being kicked out.

But no Clarke.

Lexa is staring into the fire and Daniel moves to stand. He rests a hand on Lexa’s shoulder. “We both just want what’s best for you.” He whispers and Lexa nods because she knows that, she does, and the rational part of her knows that what’s best for her is being here.

How’s she going to tell Clarke?

-

She calls the next morning and Lexa thinks she’s going to tell her that she’s thinking about moving up here but then Clarke starts to talk about how much she misses her and how Buttercup’s been hanging out with her in Lexa’s absence and she can’t.

Clarke sounds so happy.

And the moment Lexa tells her this - she’s going to break.

So she keeps quiet and all she says about her trip is that Gus likes to garden and the baby cries every morning at 4.

-

Lexa is sitting on her stomach, across from Anya, who is hitting the floor with flat hands when Gus comes into the room. He sits on the opposite side of Anya and picks her up, tickling her belly. She laughs and Lexa smiles. “So, you’re going back to The OC soon.” Gus says and Lexa nods. “I don’t want to pressure you but have you thought about coming to stay with us?” Lexa sighs.

She has.

And she knows it’s the right thing.

But she can’t imagine saying goodbye to Clarke.

She knows this is where she needs to be. It feels more like home than Orange County ever did.

“I have.” She says and she inhales. “If it would be alright with you, I think I’d like to stay.” Lexa says and the smile that lights up Gustus’ face makes her smile.

“Good. I’m glad.” He says and Lexa’s stomach sinks because it’s official now.

She’s going to be moving to Washington.

-

They decide to wait until after Lexa’s school year is finished to move her up but that’s going to come sooner than Lexa wants it to.

When she gets off of the plane, Clarke is waiting.

When she sees her, she feels like she can breathe again.

She runs to her and throws her arms around her neck. “I missed you.” Clarke whispers in her ear.

“I missed you too.” Lexa replies and she means it. She doesn’t know how she’s going to survive without seeing Clarke every day.

They walk, hand-in-hand, out of the airport and Clarke tells Lexa what she missed over break. Nothing obscenely interesting and Lexa honestly can’t keep it to herself anymore. The first time Clarke goes quiet, Lexa blurts, “I’m moving to Washington.” And Clarke stops in her tracks. She pulls her hand from Lexa’s and looks at her with wide eyes.

“W-what?” She says and Lexa sighs.

“My Uncle and his husband offered me a room in their house. I can’t impose and you and Abby forever. It’s the most logical choice.” Lexa responds and she hopes that Clarke gets it. That if she had another choice - she wouldn’t leave. But this is the only one she has. Clarke’s eyes are flooding with tears.

“What about us?” She asks and Lexa reaches out for her hand again.

“I care for you, Clarke, more than I’ve cared for anybody and I want to make this work.” Lexa says and it’s the first time either of them has even suggested that what this is is more than just….kissing occasionally. Clarke looks down.

“Washington is really far.” Clarke mumbles and Lexa’s heart sinks. “I don’t want to hold you back from getting what you want.” Clarke continues and Lexa is quick to reassure her.

“Clarke, you are what I want.” And that’s the truth but she also knows that distance is difficult. No matter how much you lo-care about someone.

“I’m not sure that matters.” Clarke mutters and she storms ahead of Lexa back into the car.

And Lexa has a feeling this isn’t going to go quite according to her plan.

-

“You’re moving. Two states away.” Clarke says from Lexa’s doorway.

It’s the first thing she’s said to her in two days, since they’ve gotten back from the airport. Lexa straightens up in bed and kicks her feet over the edge. She nods. “I’m aware.” She responds and Clarke is looking down at her feet.

“We’re not even together. We never even talked about it.” Clarke says and Lexa is very keenly aware of that fact.

“I’m aware of that as well, Clarke.” Lexa replies and she’s not entirely sure where this is going. Clarke takes a few more steps into the room.

“I don’t want you to go.” Clarke says plainly and Lexa opens her mouth to explain, again, why she has to but Clarke puts up a hand, “But I know that you have to. I may not like it but I understand it.” She says and she crosses her arms across her chest when she finally does look Lexa in the eyes. “And I think we need to stop...whatever this is.” She says, pulling one arm down and gesturing between them. “Because if I let myself fall for you any more than I already have, I won’t be able to let you go. And I have to. I have to let you go because it’s what’s best for you.” Clarke says and Lexa can hear the tears in her voice. Her chest feels tight and it honestly feels like someone’s just stabbed her in the stomach because this isn’t what she wanted.

She didn’t want Clarke to give up on her.

“I still want to be in your life, Lexa. You’re one of the best friends that I’ve ever had. But I can’t keep kissing you and holding your hand knowing that the happiness I feel when I do has an expiration date.” Clarke continues and Lexa really wants to be angry - she wants to hate this but she can’t. Because she gets it. So she just nods. Clarke takes a few steps closer and she looks down at Lexa like she’s trying to decide something. She takes a deep breath and then shakes her head. Lexa thinks she’s knows what she was going to do. She’s glad she didn’t.

Clarke walks out of the bedroom and it feels an awful lot like goodbye.

-

It’s weird, for a while, and then it’s not anymore.

Clarke is preparing for cotillion and Lexa is getting ready to leave.

She finds herself feeling lucky that she’d never made that many connections here in California because it makes it that much easier to leave.

Lexa finds that despite not being able to touch Clarke anymore, getting over her isn’t easy.

In fact, Lexa finds it to be damn near impossible.

She still wants to reach out and grab her hand when they’re sitting next to each other on the couch. She wants to kiss her cheek before they leave for school in the mornings. She wants to snuggle into her side every night before bed but she can’t and it hurts more than anything else.

Still, she knows Clarke’s choice was the right one. Had they gotten any closer, Lexa doesn’t know if she could have let herself leave. If she could have left Clarke behind.

She skypes at least once a week with Gustus, Daniel, and Anya.

It’s strange, the feeling Lexa feels in her chest when she talks to them. It takes her a little while to figure it out but she realizes that it’s love. She loves them. And they love her back.

They’re her family.

They treat her with more respect and care than her parents ever did and despite the still present dull ache in her chest when she thinks of them, she’s almost….grateful for what they did.

It’s twisted - that much she knows - but because of it, she met Clarke and reconnected with Gus and she’s managed to find herself a real family. And that means more to her than she’s able to put into words.

She leaves in the morning and tonight is cotillion.

She contemplates staying home because it’s Clarke’s night but Abby’s bought her this beautiful dress and it would be a shame to see it sit in the closet, unworn.

It’s a navy blue and it looks wonderful on her. She sits in the crowd and she watches Clarke descend the staircase to Bellamy, with a bright smile on her face, looking radiant in white.

Lexa’s still not sure what the whole point of cotillion is (she knows it’s to ‘come out’ into society, so to speak but it all just seems...pointless. Like it’s just an excuse to dress up and wear your best jewelry - and gossip) but she does know that Clarke looks incredible in her white dress and she puts all of the other debutantes to shame.

She watches Clarke dance with Bellamy and she keeps a close on Clarke’s feet - which never once step on Bellamy’s own. She nails it.

And Lexa’s not surprised. She knows Clarke can do anything she sets her mind to.

Her heart is aching, as it has been every single day since Clarke….broke up with her, for a lack of a better term, and it kills her knowing that she has to say goodbye to her tomorrow when she knows very well that she may never see her again.

She’s sitting alone at the table, picking at some cheese, when something casts a shadow over her plate. Lexa looks up. It’s Clarke. She’s got an arm outstretched and she says, “Dance with me?” And Lexa can’t say no.

Clarke takes her hand and leads her to the corner of the dance floor. “Remember how to do it?” Clarke says with a smile and Lexa chuckles.

“How could I forget?” She replies and really, she knows she’ll never be able to forget that night. Ever.

Clarke bows her head and Lexa rests her hand on the small of Clarke’s back. She pulls her tight up against her and she revels in this closeness because she knows it’ll probably be the last time that Clarke is this close to her.

Give Me Love is playing in the background and Clarke’s resting her head against Lexa’s chest. She looks up. “Please don’t go.” She whispers and Lexa clenches her jaw. Her stomach drops and she wishes more than anything that she didn’t have to.

“Clarke.” Lexa says and she wants Clarke to stop asking because she’s afraid that if she asks one more time, she’ll change her mind. Clarke sighs.

“I know, you have to, but,” Clarke pauses and she looks into Lexa’s eyes, “I-I’m going to miss you.” She finishes and Lexa closes her eyes and turns away. She can’t bear to look into her eyes. Not right now.

“I’m going to miss you too, Clarke.” She replies. Clarke pulls her head off of Lexa’s chest and she shakes her head.

“That’s not what I was going to say,” Clarke starts and Lexa furrows her brow. “Of course I’m going to miss you but that’s not what I wanted to tell you.” She continues and Lexa bites down on her bottom lip. “I love you. You don’t have to say it back I just wanted you to know before you leave because I have tried these past few weeks to get over you but I can’t do it because I fucking love you, Lexa. So.” She finishes and Lexa knows that maybe it’s just a last ditch effort to get her to stay but she feels it too so she can pretend that Clarke means it. She drags a hand up behind Clarke’s neck and she looks into her eyes.

“I love you too.” She whispers.

And then she kisses her.

-

Clarke doesn’t go to the after party.

Instead, she carefully unzips Lexa dress and kisses the beauty marks on her back.

She tells Lexa she loves her that night over and over again in many different ways.

She makes sure to leave her mark on Lexa - physically and otherwise.

-

They’re standing in front of security and Abby has Lexa wrapped in a tight hug. “You take care of yourself, okay?” She murmurs and Lexa nods.

“I will.” She says and before Abby turns away, she continues, “Thank you, Abby. For everything that you’ve done.” Abby gives her a smile and a tight squeeze on the shoulder.

“It was no trouble. Don’t be a stranger, okay? Come visit any time you like.” She continues and Lexa smiles. She knows she won’t be able to make too many trips down to Orange County but she’ll pretend, for Abby’s sake.

Abby moves away and she gives Lexa one last parting smile before she turns to Clarke and says, “I’ll let you two say goodbye.”

And Lexa wants to yell that this isn’t goodbye - because she really hopes that it isn’t but she knows how hard it is to make long-distance anything work and that if they hold onto this - hold onto each other, they’re going to miss out on their lives.

But she thinks that life is worth missing out on for Clarke.

She hopes Clarke feels the same way.

Clarke walks up to her. “Last chance.” She tries to joke and Lexa gives a weak laugh. Clarke doesn’t bother with anymore small talk - she throws her arms around Lexa’s shoulders and she whispers, “Don’t you dare let this be goodbye.” And Lexa wraps her arms tightly around Clarke’s back.

“It’s not goodbye, Clarke. I could never say goodbye to you.” Lexa says, “It’s see you later, okay?” Lexa says and she feels Clarke nod against her shoulder. She pulls back and gives Lexa one last kiss.

“Something to remember me by.” She whispers against Lexa’s mouth.

“Do you think I could ever forget you?” Lexa says and Clarke just looks at her with hard eyes.

“I damn well hope not.” Clarke says and her eyes soften for just a moment, “I meant it, you know. I do love you.” And Lexa nods.

“And I do love you too.” Lexa responds. She hears someone over the intercom say it’s last call for her flight. She lets her arms drop from Clarke’s back. “I have to go.” She says and she feels tears beginning to prick at the back of her eyes. Clarke’s already crying.

“Go. Go before I try and handcuff myself to you so you have to take me with you.” She says and Lexa leans in, one last time, and gives her a kiss on the cheek.

“I’ll see you soon, Clarke.” She says and Clarke gives her a watery smile.

“I’ll see you soon.” Lexa says and she turns around.

She doesn’t look back.

She sends Clarke a text before she has to turn her phone off for takeoff.

Lexa: I love you. I won’t ever forget you.

She looks out the window and she tries her hardest not to cry because it wasn’t goodbye.

It was see you later.

She exhales and she drags her fingers down the window.

“May we meet again, Clarke Griffin.” She whispers and she shuts her eyes as the plane takes off.

-

Clarke sits in Lexa’s bedroom, tears streaming down her face, Buttercup in her lap.

She tries to convince herself that it really wasn’t goodbye.

That it really was just see you later.

(But she thinks that she knows better than that but she won’t think about it - not yet.)

She exhales and she drags her fingers down the window. She swears that in the distance she sees a plane take off.

“May we meet again, Lexa.” She mutters through her tears.

May we meet again.