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You're Fired (So Yeah You Win)

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“I really hate you."

“You know you say that to me literally every shift, right?" Octavia asked without even looking up from her computer screen. "I'm numb to your anger by now."

Clarke glared at her from across the cubicle. Octavia noticed, if only because she and Clarke had been friends for so long she could sense the blonde’s misery before it even manifested itself, but she didn’t let Clarke know that. She ignored her and kept typing until the stare ended with a roll of the eyes and Clarke diverted her attention back to her own computer.

"You're the only reason I have this stupid job," Clarke complained.

"I'm the only reason you got your mom off your back about getting a job while you're going to med-school," Octavia shot back. "But whatever helps you sleep at night."

"I could've worked at McDonald's," Clarke whispered longingly, slumping her head onto the wrist rest on her desk. "I could be eating a free burger right now."

Octavia scrunched her nose. "You'd smell like french fries all day."

"Ugh," Clarke sighed dreamily, closing her eyes. "French fries. Hot and fresh out the fryer and not frozen like this goddamned office. Why do we have a fan on in the middle of winter? It's December!"

"Because this office is like two feet wide and there's a hundred people in it," Octavia told her. "Turn that fan off and we'll all be sweating. This place will reek of B.O. faster than Lincoln's gym."

Lincoln's gym. Clarke should have gotten a job there. Fit, shirtless men. Ripped women walking around in nothing but their underwear. That sounded like the dream life. Instead she had agreed to help Octavia file papers for this stupid company in this stupid office. Literally nothing could be more boring. Including listening to her mom's nagging about how she needed a job to 'pay' for med-school.

Clarke Griffin was loaded. So was her heart surgeon mother. But their income was almost nothing compared to that of her mother's new senator boyfriend Kane. Apparently politics paid even better than engineering, which was what Clarke's dad did before he died. Her mother dating Kane only seemed to reinforce the fact that Clarke’s family was rich. They could afford to send her to college.

If it had just been her mother and her like it had been the first few years after Jake's death, when they'd had to move homes and downgrade and adjust to a new life without a second head of household or a second income, Clarke would almost understand her mother's desire to have her pay for a portion of her tuition. But Jake had been gone for years and everyone had more than adjusted by now. Her mom had already moved on. This wasn't about money, it was about getting Clarke out of the house.

And maybe a bit about teaching her some work ethic.

Clarke Griffin had never exactly had a job before.

She could see why, and she was sure Octavia could too. Sitting at a desk four hours a day, she probably only got an hour of work done, maybe two. Octavia had recommended Clarke to her boss so she could have a second set of hands to help her manage the influx of holiday season receipts, but honestly Clarke probably did nothing but slow Octavia down. Or at least distract her.

Clarke was more than distracted enough for the both of them, though.

She sat up and hugged herself tight, tugging the sides of her sweater closer to her body for warmth from the fan. It was entirely unintentional that her hand slipped into her pocket and pulled out her phone.

Octavia seemed to have quickly forgotten their conversation about the fan. Probably because it had shifted towards Lincoln, even though his mention had been her own doing. She had been trying to forget about anything that had to do with Lincoln for the last couple of weeks now. Ever since he dumped her for some body builder at the gym, she'd been on the fast track to moving on, though some days were easier than others. If she had offhandedly mentioned him today, that probably wasn’t a good sign, and it was probably why she was typing so intensely. Octavia was good about letting her work distract her from her personal life.

Clarke was good about letting her personal life distract her from her work.

Somewhere around twenty minutes after descending into Facebook Hell (surprisingly without reprimand by Octavia, who was the only reason Clarke stayed on task as little as she did) Clarke looked up to see her screen had gone black. She moved the mouse frantically, hoping it was just the screen saver, until she gave up and accepted reality. Her computer had shut itself off again.

"Goddamn it," she yelled smacking the monitor on its side, more out of frustration than a false hope that physical force would actually turn the computer back on. "This stupid thing is older than I am. It shuts down every time I leave it idle for too long."

"Why were you leaving it idle?" Octavia scolded knowingly.

"Shut up, O."

"Point Octavia."

Clarke admitted defeat and leaned down to press the power button on her tower. The lights flashed, followed by a troublesome whirring that sounded like a lawn mower out for revenge, and slowly the computer began rebooting itself. Clarke sat back in her chair, unlocked her phone, and waited.

"Hey, Clarke. Octavia."

Clarke and Octavia were in the back corner of the room, away from most of the people who did the real work in the office, and visitors were seldom. Clarke sure was glad to see Monty, though.

"Hey!" she greeted happily, relaxing again in her chair and spinning it's wheels side to side in half circles absentmindedly. "What's up?"

"Oh, nothing much," he replied, resting his arm over the wall near the entrance if the cubicle. "I'm just bored and on my break. Have you guys drawn for the Secret Santa yet?"

Octavia was pouting slightly, like she was upset Monty was here to distract her from her work, but Clarke was too busy enjoying his company to notice.

"We're doing a gift exchange?" she asked surprised. "I hope someone gets me a new computer. This thing's a piece of shit."

Clarke gestured to the monitor which had indeed gone black again as she neglected the computer to talk to Monty. This time she didn't even attempt to turn it back on.

"Need me to fix it again?" Monty asked. "I can do it in -" He glanced at his watch. "Ten minutes when I'm on the clock again and get paid for it."

"Sure-"

"No, wait!"

Monty had already set one foot into the boundary of their cubicle, and now he paused at Octavia's insistence, frozen mid-step like a burglar caught sneaking into a house.

Octavia cleared her throat. "I just mean. You're off the clock. You should get one of the other mechanics to do it. Like. Raven. Maybe."

Monty and Clarke shared a knowing look.

Monty took a step back.

"Alright," he said, grinning. "I can get Raven to come over here for you. I'll get her to bring the bowl we're all drawing names from too. I'll go back to my station and grab her when my break's over."

Octavia nodded satisfactorily, struggling to retain her professionalism and suppress a smile.

Clarke watched her co-worker get back to her job with her own grin, then stuck a finger down her throat in a gagging motion where Monty could see her. He laughed and Octavia shot them both a suspicious glare.

Clarke feigned innocent, but backed off.

"So who'd you draw for the Secret Santa?" she asked, changing the subject.

"You'll never guess."

"You're right, I probably won't."

There were too many people at this company for Clarke to know all of them, especially when she was confined to her cubicle most of the time she was here. Aside from travelling across the office to the bathroom or the kitchen on breaks, Clarke hadn't seen much of the place. Her job was solitary, and she was surprised she knew anyone more than Octavia. If her computer actually worked like it was supposed to, she never would have even met Monty or Raven.

Monty dug into his pocket, then held up a piece of paper proudly. Clarke squinted to see it from where she was seated, but Monty was all too eager to read the name scrawled on the slip for her. "Miller."

Clarke racked her brain for a moment to place the name. "Is Miller that hot manager you have a crush on?"

"He sure is," Monty confirmed, folding the strip of paper and slipping it back into the front of his khakis. "Drawing his name was the most luck I've ever had."

"Or it was fate," Octavia offered kindly.

"Fate, Luck, whatever it is, I'll take it." Monty glanced at his watch again. "Anyway, I better get back to work," he announced. "I'll make sure to get Raven for you, O."

Octavia blushed slightly, but recovered well and offered Monty a small "thanks" before he left.

Clarke continued to ignore her computer. She'd care about it again once Raven made it operable. Until then, she had better things to preoccupy herself with.

"Sooo," Clarke drawled, wheeling her chair closer to Octavia. "You and Raven, huh?"

Octavia pushed her away playfully, sending Clarke rolling back to the opposite side of the cubicle. "Whatever, Griffin," Octavia spoke confidently. "Raven's hot and you know it."

"Didn't say she wasn't," Clarke agreed subtly. "You should go for it. I'm just jealous you're moving on from Lincoln so fast. I haven't been with anyone since Finn, and I'm starting to wonder if I should hit on Raven myself."

There was nothing subtle about the way Octavia glared at her. "I saw her first. She's mine."

"Gross, O.," Clarke scolded playfully. "She's not an unmarked plot of land you can stick a flag in and call your own. If that's how you treat women, I should let Raven know so she knows I'll treat her with more respect than you will."

"Clarke, you know I wouldn't -"

"Joking." Clarke held her hands up in defense. "You're so snappy today. 'Bout time you get laid again."

"You're one to talk," Octavia threatened. "Lincoln broke up with me two weeks ago. Finn broke up with you two months ago. Have you even talked to anyone else yet?"

"Well there was someone who tried to hit on me a few weeks ago,” Clarke said tentatively. “But I turned them down. Not for the reason you think," she quickly interjected. "Not because of Finn."

"Someone was flirting with you?" Octavia asked curiously. "What the hell? Why didn't you tell me? We're best friends. We're supposed to tell each other everything!"

Clarke shrugged. "I didn't think you'd want to know."

"Of course I want to know!” Octavia exclaimed. “Who was it?"

"Your brother."

The silence in the cubicle was almost as awkward as it was for Clarke to be hit on by her best friend’s brother. Octavia didn’t take long to break it.

"Ew. You're right. I didn't want to know. I think it's safe to say that Bellamy has hit on officially everyone now."

"Pretty much," Clarke agreed.

"For real, though," Octavia shifted backwards. "You should find someone new. Or at least get laid sometime soon."

"I know," Clarke sighed. "But I don't trust any random dude to pick me up in a bar for the night, and girls always want to take things further. I don't think I'm ready for another relationship yet, not while I'm busy with school and work." Clarke paused for a moment, considering. "The sex sure would be nice, though."

"Masturbate more," Octavia offered helpfully.

"Already tried that," Clarke answered honestly. "I'm already bored of touching myself."

"Then spice it up."

When Clarke looked puzzled, Octavia elaborated. "You can afford a nice vibrator, rich girl."

Clarke chewed her bottom lip for a moment. "That's... not a bad idea, actually."

"Of course it's not," Octavia said cockily. "Have I ever given you bad advice?"

Clarke could hazily recall many nights when Octavia had told her to take those extra shots, to pour a little more vodka in her glass than she was supposed to. She could even more clearly recall the mornings after those nights that she spent on the bathroom floor in front of the toilet.

She could also recall the day Octavia had suggested Clarke take this job with her.

Before Clarke could call Octavia out on all of the awful advice she had given her over the years, Raven peeked her head around the corner of their cubicle.

"I heard there's a computer that needs fixing?"

Raven's hands were heavy with stuff. One held her tool box at her side and the other gripped a small bowl, halfway filled with folded strips of paper like the one Monty had shown them earlier.

"Yes!" Clarke spoke enthusiastically, rolling away from her computer to give Raven more space to work. "Mine's a piece of junk. I'm not even sure if it's worth fixing at this point. I just need a new one."

"No way this office can afford new computers," Raven told her, kneeling underneath Clarke's desk and setting her supplies on the ground. "They haven't had the budget for that since the nineties, apparently, judging by the age of this thing."

Clarke could have figured that out even without Raven's mechanical expertise.

"Oh, you guys can draw names if you want," Raven mentioned, gesturing to the ceramic bowl beside her.

There was a moment where nothing happened, then Clarke quickly elbowed Octavia's rib cage, effectively telling her to bend down and grab the bowl.

When she did, Raven smiled at her.

Octavia smiled back.

The bowl settled on Octavia's lap, and Clarke was the first to reach between between her legs to grab a name.

Lexa Woods.

Clarke had never heard of her.

Octavia busied herself drawing her own name, and her eyes went wide as soon as she read the slip. She gripped Clarke shoulder tight and tilted the paper towards her just as Clarke put her own strip of paper into the pocket of her sweater for safekeeping. "Clarke..." she whispered.

Clarke read the slip.

Raven Reyes.

Clarke looked up to her best friend excitedly. "Fate," she repeated, using Octavia's own line against her.

Octavia nodded adamantly.

"You look happy," Raven observed, glancing up momentarily from where she was unscrewing the cover of Clarke's CPU. "Who'd you get, O?"

Octavia was calm in her answer. "Wouldn't you like to know?" she teased. "I'm not telling anyone who I got until the gift exchange. You'll just have to wait to find out."

"Boo." Raven pouted. "Who'd you get, Clarke?"

"I have no idea," she said honestly. "Some girl."

Raven nodded understandingly. "Yeah, I have no idea who the person I drew is either. Guess I'll meet them at the Christmas Party."

Octavia perked up at the word 'party.' It wasn't the first time. "When's the party?"

"Christmas Eve, I think. We've still got a couple weeks until we have to spend money we don’t have on complete strangers we don’t care about."

"Do you think someone'll get me a new computer?" Clarke asked hopefully.

Raven scoffed. "Yeah, if Hell freezes over like this damn office between now and then. You seen this place's budget? They're in the fucking tank. I can't believe they afford to pay us all as much as they do and that's really saying something. I don't think I've been able to afford eating anything besides cereal for the last week. The insurance here barely covers enough physical therapy for me to pay for the rest on my own. I can't imagine even the managers are much better off than us."

Clarke and Octavia both hummed their understanding.

Raven was crawling out from under the desk and snapping the cover back on the tower in no time. "Well, your computer should work for at least the rest of the day. It's still a piece of shit, though. There are some miracles even I can’t perform.”

"Thanks, Raven. You're a life saver."

"Don't mention it."

Raven collected her tools, placing them back in her carrier messily. She took much more care in grabbing the bowl off of Octavia's thighs. Her body lingered in Octavia's space much longer than it needed to.

Clarke let them have their moment.

"Well, I guess I'll see both of you at the Christmas Party," she said, tucking the bowl into her side.

"You most definitely will," Octavia agreed.

Raven smiled wider before turning to leave. "See you around, O."

"Damn," Clarke sighed when she could no longer see Raven over the top of the cubicle. "She totally has a thing for you."

Octavia smiled and leaned back carelessly in her chair, throwing her arms over her head and stretching them out. "I know," she practically moaned. "And it's so great."

"I'm jealous," Clarke admitted, missing the way the giddiness of infatuation felt against her rib cage, took over her entire body and consumed all of her thoughts. She'd give anything to be Octavia right now. But at least she could live vicariously through her best friend.

"You should be jealous, Clarke," Octavia said dreamily. "You should be very jealous."

/

"So I ordered two of them."

Clarke was actually working for a change and had been for the last couple hours. Her computer hadn't shut down in days, and it was so refreshing to have the screen stay on that Clarke thought she'd actually take advantage of the opportunity and help out Octavia by doing some work. Raven had worked more miracles than she said she had.

"Two of what?" Octavia asked distractedly, typing never ceasing at her own desk.

"What you told me to buy," Clarke said nonchalantly. "Dildos."

That made Octavia pause.

"Why do you need two?" She took another quick pause, then spoke before Clarke could. "I'm going to regret asking that, aren't I? Never mind, don't answer. I don't want to hear about your weird double penetration fetish."

"They're not both for me," Clarke explained, scrunching her face in discomfort.

"Who else are you buying dildos for?" Octavia interrogated.

"Whoever this girl I drew for the Secret Santa is."

That made Octavia pause.

She rolled over to Clarke and lowered her voice, not wanting any part of this conversation to be overheard by a coworker, or worse, one of their bosses.

"Clarke, you cannot give some random girl a dildo for Christmas. You are going to get in so much trouble for that."

"What are they going to do? Fire me?" Clarke challenged, looking Octavia firmly in the eye. "Oh no," she exaggerated. "What a tragedy."

"Clarke, I'm serious," Octavia whispered. "That's an awful idea and you know it."

"I think you meant to say a hilarious idea," Clarke corrected.

"It won't be hilarious if you embarrass that poor girl and she files a sexual harassment lawsuit against you," Octavia reasoned.

"Come on, O. It's just a gag gift, it's not that serious. I'm sure she’ll laugh at it. This office is so boring. I can't be the only one dying for a little excitement. You have to admit, it is kind of a funny idea."

"Okay," Octavia said, taking a breath. "It’s kind of funny. But in the story way. If someone told me they did that once upon a time, I'd laugh. But if my coworker slash best friend is telling me they're going to do it and probably get themselves fired at the present moment, it's not quite as funny. At least get the girl a real gift, too. One she can actually show her children when she gets home and they ask her what she got."

Clarke sighed. "Fine. We'll compromise. That's not a terrible idea, I guess."

"Have I ever given you a bad i-"

"Yes," Clarke cut off. "You're giving me party-pooping ideas right now. When I tell this story to all our friends and they laugh their asses off, I'll make sure to tell them you tried to stop me and ruin the fun."

"Bitch," Octavia spat.

"Damn right I am," Clarke said proudly, opening a browser on her computer. "I guess I'll buy the girl some soaps or a candle or something. You know, in case she wants to use the dildo in the bathtub or have mood lighting while she fucks herself. Or both."

"You're a perv."

Clarke ignored that.

"Did you order the dildos online, too?" Octavia probed, only to be met with a nod from Clarke. "You think everything'll show up before Christmas Eve?"

"Of course."

/

The first package arrived right on time.

Right on time for Abby to answer the UPS man at the door.

Which would have been fine if she hadn't opened the box.

When Clarke came home to find the cardboard package with the tape already ripped off its lid, it was almost as traumatizing as that time in seventh grade she came home to find her mom reading her diary.

Still, it could have been worse. Kane could have gotten there before Abby.

Clarke didn't even take time to look at the box's contents before she marched back out to the living room where her mother was on the couch watching some medical drama on TV. "When you told me I got a package in the mail, I didn't think you'd opened it,” Clarke accused.

"If it's any consolation, I wish I hadn't," Abby said regretfully, her gaze faltering as she locked eyes with Clarke. She tried to disguise her flightiness as interest in the television and her eyes flickered back to the screen. "I won't go through your stuff anymore," Abby promised, though Clarke didn't quite believe her. "I just didn't know you were expecting anything and I thought it might have been a mixup."

"Well before you search every package like a baggage inspector in an airport, I have another package that should be coming soon."

Abby winced. Clarke noticed.

"It's soap."

Abby shut her eyes and waved her hand in front of her dismissively. "It don't want to know, ok? I'm sorry. I'll make sure to leave that package alone and just put it in your room when it gets here."

Clarke sighed. She should have done that with this package. Who cared if her mom opened a box to find a bath kit? "Thanks," she said half-heartedly before slipping into her room again and closing the door.

Immediately she dialed Octavia's number.

When the other line picked up, Clarke wasted no time with pleasantries. "Guess what I got in the mail and guess who opened it before I got home?"

"Gross," Octavia mumbled.

"Yeah," Clarke agreed. "I'm 23. I really need to move out of here. You and I should get an apartment together next semester."

Octavia scoffed on the other end of the line. "Yeah, right. Bellamy could never afford a place on his own. Unless you want to live with my brother and endure having him hit on you 24/7, that probably wouldn't work out."

"At least he wouldn't open my packages."

"No, but if he knew you were ordering sex toys, he'd be offering to help you test them out as soon as they arrived. Not worth it."

Clarke hummed. "Good point."

"I know it is."

"Anyway." Clarke braced her phone between her shoulder and her ear, freeing both of her hands to pull back the flaps on the box.

The cardboard was unsuspecting on the outside, free of any words of names that might give away what the product was or the company who made it. The contents themselves were drowned in packing peanuts. The extreme camouflage only made the fact that Abby had gone to extensive lengths to see what was inside even more apparent, which only irked Clarke more.

It took Clarke a solid 30 seconds of digging for her fingers to find both sharp plastic packages the dildos were encased in, and when she finally freed them from the box, her eyes went as wide as she imagined her mother’s had.

"Holy shit, O.," she breathed into the phone. "These are way bigger than I thought they'd be."

A noise resembling some kind of contemplative hum reached Clarke's ear from Octavia's side of the phone, and Clarke waited for it to pass. "I can't tell if you mean that in a 'holy shit the size of this thing makes it even more hilarious for the prank' way or a 'holy shit fucking myself with this is going to be epic' way,” Octavia admitted.

"Both?" Clarke offered indecisively.

"Gross.”

Moving to sit on the bed, Clarke tossed one of the dildos back into the box where it landed with a cushioned thunk. She retrieved her phone from her shoulder with her free hand and kept her grip on the second package tight with the other.

The plastic around the dildo was translucent, giving Clarke a preview of exactly how big and how detailed this thing was. She had severely underestimated the size of eight inches and had severely overestimated the size of all of her ex-boyfriends. The strip of paper in the background of the package showed some shirtless, muscled dude, and Clarke was too afraid to read any of the text beside it. The dildo itself was hyper-realistic, veinier than she thought actual dicks could be and thicker than was probably safe. If it wasn't missing the balls and redder than Octavia’s blush when Raven was around, it'd be a dead ringer for the real thing. A mutantly overgrown version of the real thing, but still.

"I'm so excited for this prank, O. You've got to see this thing."

"Send me pictures," Octavia suggested. "I want to send them to Raven. I was telling her about your prank and she loves it. She thinks you're going to get fired, but she thinks it's going to be hilarious, too."

"So you and Raven are already at the point where you're discussing sex toys?” Clarke questioned. “Wow, Octavia, you move even faster than I thought."

"Shut up,” she exasperated.

"Kidding," Clarke apologized. "How'd you get her number?"

"She gave it to me,” Octavia explained. “I ran into her by the water cooler and we got to talking. Next thing you know, she's putting her number in my phone."

"Raven Reyes doesn't seem like the type to hang out by the water cooler."

"She was fixing the water cooler."

"God," Clarke sighed. "I thought she only did computers. Is there anything that girl can't fix?"

"Nope," Octavia boasted. "She's already doing a good job mending my broken heart, too."

Clarke couldn’t help but laugh. "Wow, that was probably the cheesiest thing I've ever heard anybody say. But I'm happy for you. When's the wedding?"

"We're eloping to Vegas in the spring. You can't come."

"Whatever," Clarke scoffed. "I'm going to be right there beside Elvis in that drive through chapel when you're saying your vows and feeding Raven that same shitty line about fixing your broken heart that you just told me."

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

“Good.”

Clarke tossed the second dildo into the box with the first. She was tired of looking at it. The more she stared the creepier it seemed. She closed the flaps of the box and slid it under her bed to rest for the moment. She’d worry about wrapping the gift later when the soaps arrived.

“What’d you get Raven?” Clarke asked, curious. Octavia had been stressing for weeks about finding the perfect gift, and it was nearing the time when she’d have to commit to a decision. There were only so many days left before the party.

“I got her this watch. It’s supposed to be scary accurate and waterproof and indestructible and shit. It’s got a compass and tells latitude and longitude, whatever that means. It seems gadgety and I have no idea how to work it, so I’m guessing Raven will like it.”

“Sounds perfect to me,” Clarke told her. “It also sounds expensive.”

“Yeah, well, when your Secret Santa is probably going to be your next girlfriend, you shouldn’t be afraid to go all out.”

Clarke nodded, though Octavia couldn't see her through the phone. “I spent more on my gift than I probably should have,” she chastised herself. “But that’s the price I pay for comedy. I’ve got the money, so. Worth it.”

"Definitely. And good thing you've got money by birth, because you certainly won't be making any from your job after you get fired for this stupid prank."

Clarke rolled her eyes. Octavia just wouldn’t shut up with her morals. "See, you keep stressing that point, but somehow I still don't care. Getting fired doesn't sound that bad. This job sucks."

Octavia sighed, defeated. "And it's gonna suck a lot more without my best friend there to keep me company."

"You could always quit," Clarke reminded her.

"Yeah, right," Octavia scoffed. "Some of us actually have bills to pay."

"Sucks for you," Clarke bragged.

"Go fuck yourself," Octavia scolded.

Clarke glanced to the floor by the edge of her bed, just feet from where she knew the box was beneath it. "I might."

"Ugh," Octavia gagged. "I didn't need to hear that. And you suck. I hope that girl's soap doesn't arrive on time and you're stuck wasting your money on it and giving her only the dildo."

"Yeah, right. Like that'll happen."

/

Octavia Blake was a god.

Or at least had good connections with a couple of demons. Or oracles.

It turned out that the postal system wasn't the most reliable facet of United States infrastructure. Clarke's second package did not arrive on time for Christmas Eve.

Telling Octavia that was not Clarke's proudest moment. Admitting she was wrong was harder than wrapping just a dildo in gift paper without the shape of the thing giving away what it was immediately. Clarke ended up having to wrap the package in its box.

When everyone showed up for work on the day of the party, Octavia immediately bashed Clarke for not finding a replacement gift for the soaps, but Raven thought it was funnier that she was just giving the dildo on its own. The two argued about the ethics and humor of it all for a solid five minutes. Part of Clarke was honored to witness their first squabble as an unofficial couple, but a bigger part of her was annoyed at their ramblings as soon as she realized neither one of them was going to stop. They'd argue through the entire party if Clarke let them. She didn't.

"Stop fighting and let's go get food. I don't want to be the last person in the break room when the refreshments table has already been picked clean. You know how much Monty loves snack cakes."

The acquisition of free food was something neither Raven nor Octavia wished to delay. Hesitantly, they called a truce and followed Clarke across the office.

The break room was decorated for the holidays as cheaply as possible. A small felt Christmas tree sagged on the corner of the counter by the coffee pot, a string of red and green blinking lights draped over the top of the door frame like a bad beaded 70s room divider, and someone had gone through the effort of hand-crafting a string of identical paper snow flakes only to snip them apart from one another and tape them individually to the backs of the windows. It was festive. A little pathetic. But festive.

The room was packed, too small for everyone in it, but Clarke's line of sight bored through the crowd of bodies, focusing solely on the snack table where Miller was pouring himself punch and Monty was indeed stuffing his face with Hostess Christmas Trees.

There wasn't a clear line, per se, to the food, but Clarke may have bypassed a small group of people hovering near the table who may have looked a little bit like they were awaiting their turn at the sweets. Octavia didn't seem to mind following her lead, though, and Raven limped close behind both of them.

"Hey, Monty. Hey, Miller."

"Clarf!" Monty quickly covered his mouth, finished the bite he was chewing, and swallowed before speaking again. "Clarke! Look at this cool tie Miller got me." He grabbed the tip of the cloth around his neck and flaunted the fabric to Clarke, turning on his feet like a model. "He was my Secret Santa, too! What are the chances?"

Clarke studied the tie carefully, looking for something that set it apart. It was just... blue. Very standard. Not particularly fashionable. Which was strange considering Miller had the jawline of a Greek god and looked like he belonged on a runway in Milan. Maybe he knew Monty didn't care as much about fashion as he did. Clarke decided to just let it go and lie. "Yeah. Looks... great."

Monty leaned closer, cupped a hand around one side of his mouth, and whispered, "It's got a flask on the back." He spun the tie around to expose a thin, elongated metal tube Monty could easily store a few swigs of his famous moonshine in. On this job, he'd need it. Miller and Monty winked at Clarke in sync.

"Okay, that is pretty cool," she admitted. "Are we really giving gifts already, though? I thought someone was supposed to give some kind of opening ceremony speech or something."

"The boss is," Miller told her with a shrug. "I just got too excited and couldn't resist."

"In that case," Raven interrupted, lifting her present from where she'd sat it on the table and handing it to Octavia. "This is for you."

Octavia looked like, well, a kid on Christmas. "Shut up," she gasped. "You drew my name, too?"

Raven scrunched her face at that, confused until Octavia handed her own gift over to her. Raven smirked in disbelief, but grabbed the package anyway, staring at Octavia once she had it rather than tearing immediately into the wrapping paper.

"I dont believe it, Blake. I shouldn't have turned my eyes from you when you had that bowl. You probably dug through it and picked out my name on purpose," she teased.

"I'll have you know I picked your name on the first try, thank you very much. You can ask Clarke."

Raven raised an eyebrow. "I thought you weren't going to tell anyone who you picked until today."

"I thought you didn't know the person whose name you drew," Octavia shot back.

Raven's shoulders shrugged around her jacket. "I lied."

"Me too."

The staring contest began. Neither of them moved to open their gifts.

Monty elbowed Clarke's side. He had been watching the whole exchange, too. "Fate," he whispered in her ear.

Clarke was inclined to agree.

Neither Raven nor Octavia was going to back down, and Clarke didn't need to watch them to know that. She snatched one of the last few snack cakes from the plate before Monty could grab it and Miller offered her his untouched cup of punch. She hoped Monty had spiked it with his new flask.

"Hey, Miller?" Clarke questioned, taking a sip from the cup. The red slurry was disappointingly alcohol free.

"What's up?" he asked.

"You're a manager right? You know everyone here?"

"Pretty much," he shrugged.

"Can you show me who Lexa Woods is? I drew her name and I have no idea what she looks like."

"Oh sure." He stood on his tiptoes for a moment and looked around before pointing to a girl hovering near the front of the room. "She's over there. Curly hair. Cute grey blazer. Kinda tallish."

Clarke spotted her immediately. "You're a saint, Miller."

"No problem."

Navigating the crowd was harder now than it had been when she'd first came in. More people had found their way to the break room and now Clarke had a drink to worry about spilling all over them. Lexa was hard to lose sight of, though. She stood out from the crowd enough that Clarke tracked her down while she stood still and conversed with another girl, a blonde woman a bit shorter than her with cheekbones as sharp as knives.

Up close, Lexa was almost as intimidating as the woman she was with. She was young, not much older than Clarke, but her eyes were a piercing green and the straight shoulders of her blazer were starched enough to tell Clarke that she put even more thought into her daily appearance than Miller did. She looked beautiful, but cold, professional.

She also looked like the type of woman who would rat Clarke out after she found out what her gift was. Clarke figured it was best not to dwell in her presence for very long. She adjusted her plan: Approach, hand over the present, say Happy Holidays, and back away. She'd be gone before Lexa could learn Clarke's name and know who to tell the boss to fire when she complained to them in their office later.

Clarke was brave enough not to falter as she stepped closer to Lexa. She and the blonde were both staring at her expectantly as if Clarke had interrupted an important conversation they wanted to get back to, but it was too late for Clarke to back out now.

"I got your name," she explained kindly, putting on her best fake smile and holding out her gift to Lexa who took the package tentatively.

She shot Clarke her own polite grin. It was small, strained, but it was at least somewhat genuine. "Thank you."

"Happy holidays," Clarke told her before taking a step back.

"You too," Lexa repeated, before turning back to the blonde and letting Clarke slip away completely.

Mission accomplished.

Clarke quickly made her way back to her friends.

"What gift did you get Lexa?" Miller asked her when she returned.

Clarke was still riding the high of her own joke. Giving the gift to Lexa made the prank more than just an idea. It made everything feel more real.

"I probably shouldn't tell you this since you're technically one of my higher ups," Clarke started. "But I trust you. Get this," she laughed. "I got her an even better gag gift than you got Monty. I gave her a dildo."

The color drained from Miller's face faster than Clarke could keep track of. When Clarke looked over to Monty, he looked a bit pale, too.

"Please tell me you're joking around right now," Miller said gravely, voice hushed.

"Nope," Clarke vaunted.

"Clarke," Monty whispered. His throat was dry and it wasn't from too many snack cakes and not enough punch. "Lexa Woods is the President of this entire company."

Clarke looked to Monty, then to Miller, waiting for one of them to tell her they had teamed up to prank her like she had pranked Lexa. Neither of them delivered the punchline.

Clarke turned away from them and tapped Octavia on the shoulder, pulling her out of whatever argument she and Raven had progressed to. "Does Lexa Woods really run this company?"

"Yeah. Why?"

Clarke swallowed. Hard. "I just hand-delivered a dildo to my boss."

Octavia's eyes bugged out of her head. "You drew Lexa's name?"

Clarke nodded.

"You're dead," Raven told her simply, reaching over to pat her on the shoulder. "It was nice knowing you."

"I have to get that present back." Clarke set a foot forward, planning to go back to the front of the room and somehow convince Lexa that she had given her the wrong gift and needed it back, but a voice coming from right where Clarke was headed stopped her.

"Hey, everyone!"

"Too late," Monty whispered to her as the room hushed and Lexa commanded their attention.

Clarke froze. She had until Lexa finished her speech to figure out if she was going to pick fight or flight.

"I know this year hasn't been easy and we've seen more than a few of our friends and coworkers lose their jobs, but I say we take a moment to be thankful this holiday season that we're all still here together. The company has scraped through another year and that's all thanks to you."

"Run," Raven told Clarke. "You've got two good legs. Use 'em. Slip out of here while no one's looking, type up your letter of resignation at your desk, get your shit, and get out. Lexa will kill you if she catches you."

"Lexa's going to kill everyone if she opens that box!" Octavia argued. "We're never going to have a Christmas party again. Go get it from her!"

The two debated like imaginary deities over Clarke’s shoulders. Running sounded better. Saving herself sounded better. But Clarke couldn't let the rest of the office go down with her. If Lexa found out any of Clarke's friends knew what she was up to and didn’t stop her, they would all be out of their jobs. Clarke could handle being unemployed. Octavia and Raven and Miller and Monty couldn't.

She had to get that package.

She pushed her way through the crowd just as Lexa was finishing up her speech.

"Even though things have been tough, you all deserve a little break. So go ahead and have fun. Eat the food, exchange your gifts, and enjoy each other's company. I'll see you all back in the office after the party."

Lexa raised her cup in toast, and the party-goers who had already gotten their drinks did the same. The ones who hadn't, though, rushed to the back of the room in search of food and whatever stranger had drawn their name and spent money on them. Everyone was giddy for presents and a moment of relaxation, and Clarke was caught in the middle of their chaos.

Only halfway across the room, she could already see Lexa tearing open the gift wrap on her package.

She cursed under her breath and stepped on more than a few toes as she tried to maneuver her way to Lexa.

When Clarke finally got there, the lid was already off the box, Lexa's hand was firmly gripping something in the middle of the sea of packing peanuts, and the pupils of her eyes grew wide enough to be mistaken for eight balls.

Clarke was too late.

"What'd you get?" Clarke overheard the blonde woman ask, and she might’ve been too late to stop Lexa from seeing the present, but she could at least stop word from getting out to anyone else.

Before Lexa could respond, Clarke burst between them. "It's just a gag gift!" Clarke told the blonde frantically. "I left the real present at home this morning on accident. Silly me!" Clarke slapped her forehead in show. "I'm such a mess."

The blonde eyed Clarke suspiciously. Lexa eyed her like she was trying to decide what to do with her dead body after she killed her.

Clarke tried her best to smooth over the situation as much as possible. "You know what?" she continued her lie. "I think I'll go home on my lunch break, get the real present, and then bring it to your office later! How does that sound?"

The speed at which Lexa transformed her features, replaced the scowl on her face with a wide, wicked smile, scared Clarke even more than her death glare. "Yes," Lexa said sweetly, voice dripping with false sympathy. "I would love to see you in my office later."

Clarke swallowed hard and tried her best to keep her cool.

It didn't work.

Chapter Text

Clarke took Raven's advice too late. She didn't run until after she'd set a date with Lexa for her own funeral.

Normally Clarke would go out with a bang. She'd party as hard as possible until it was time to face the consequences of her actions and meet Lexa in her office, but an office party wasn’t exactly a party by Clarke Griffin's standards, and she'd rather chew off the foot she'd already put in her mouth than be in the same room as Lexa when she didn't have to be. Instead, she went back to her desk and contemplated her demise.

She could still run like Raven said. She could slip out of the office now while everyone was at the party, go home, wait for the angry phone call she wouldn’t answer saying she’d lost her job, delete the voicemail before she had a chance to listen to it, and just not show up to the office ever again. It would be simple.

She didn't really have anything to pack. The most personal thing she kept at her desk was a pack of gum which she chewed through now at rapid fire, stuffing stick after stick into her mouth until the package was empty and she tossed it along with the wad of wrappers into the trash can in the corner.

Now she had nothing here. No evidence to leave behind.

Everything on Clarke's side of the cubicle had been given to her by the company. The shitty computer, the spinning chair, the drawer full of office supplies she now contemplated highjacking. She'd already given the boss a dildo, what was stealing a pad of sticky notes or two?

(Useless, she realized after a moment. She didn't even use sticky notes.)

Octavia's side of the cubicle was much more personal. Her purse was on the ground, a picture of her and Bellamy was framed on the desk, a post it note with Lincoln's name, a heart around it, and a big red X on top of that was stuck to the wall. Octavia cared about this job. She had settled in, gotten comfortable. She had something going for her here and if Clarke ruined that, she'd never forgive herself.

Octavia was right. She had to face Lexa and take the brunt of the blow herself. She couldn't let Lexa come looking for her and risk Octavia being the one she let her anger out on just because Clarke wasn’t there to take the lashing.

Clarke had made her decision, but she still wasn't prepared to see Octavia slip back into the cubicle so soon.

"You're still alive?" Octavia asked surprised. "You ran off and we never saw you again. Raven and I were placing bets on which flower garden out back Lexa was going to bury you in."

"Put me down for 'tosses my body in the dumpster.' I haven't talked to her yet. I mean, I did, but just long enough for her to tell me to meet me in her office once the party was over. I think it goes without saying that she opened her present before I got to her."

Octavia sunk into her chair loudly, heavy as Clarke’s chest felt. Clarke pushed herself forward to the edge of her seat.

"Well I've got more bad news for you," Octavia told her. "Party's over."

Clarke groaned. "Thanks O. What would I ever do without you?"

“Probably give your boss two dildos instead of one.”

“You’re probably right,” Clarke surrendered. “I should've given her mine, too. I’m never going to be able to look at it after this, let alone use it. Lexa's more likely to do something with it than I am."

The image of that immediately ran through both of their minds, but Clarke shifted the tracks on that train of thought before the picture fully developed. Octavia wasn't so lucky.

"I don't think she could use both at the same time," Octavia told her. "She's already got a stick up her ass.”

"Well maybe she can replace it with the dildo. Sounds more sanitary."

"Yeah, I'm sure she's calling you into her office to thank you for helping her hygienically shove things up her ass."

"God, what if she shoves it up my ass?"

"Honestly, that's probably more pleasant than what she's actually going to do to you "

Clarke slumped her head, banging it against her desk for probably the last time. Her jaw smacked nervously on her gum. "The worst part is, you're probably right. I'm fucked."

"Again, that would be better than what she's actually going to do to you."

"You're not helping, Octavia."

"I tried to help you two weeks ago when you told me you were buying your a dildo for your boss,” Octavia argued, pulling her chair up to her desk and starting up her computer. “But did you listen to me then? No. So why should I help you now?"

"Because you're my friend?"

"I'm only your friend because you're rich and will probably leave me something good in your will," Octavia joked. "Speaking of which, you should probably write that out now. I'll take anything you have except for that other dildo. Leave that to Bellamy or something. I'm sure he'll want it to 'remember' you by."

"Tell Bellamy to go shove a dildo up his ass."

"Leave him your dildo and he probably will."

If Clarke survived the night, she was definitely going to have nightmares about that image. A part of her was already starting to welcome her inevitable death. "This conversation is worse than being murdered by Lexa."

"When is that supposed to happen anyway?"

"Too soon. If the party's over, I should probably be making my way to her office now. I'm putting it off, though."

"It shouldn't be too bad," Octavia reasoned. "The worst she can do is fire you. Well, actually, she could charge you with sexual harassment, and I wouldn't really blame her if she did because she definitely has a case, but I doubt this company has enough money to handle a lawsuit against it, so if she does that she'd probably be out of a job, which I'm sure she doesn't want, so. Probably the worst that'll happen is that she fires you."

"Yeah, you're right. I saw this coming, so I shouldn't be that afraid." Clarke stood up and slid her chair back under her desk. It was now or never. "Better get going before she comes looking for me."

Octavia nodded, then stood to meet her and wrapped her arms around Clarke. "Good luck."

Clarke buried her head in Octavia's shoulder. Her voice came out muffled against the collar of her button-up. "Thanks."

"Don't mention it. You're gonna do fine. But just in case, can I type up your will while you're gone?"

Clarke pulled away from Octavia with a fake glare. "Some friend you are."

"I'm just looking out for you. Don't want to leave your mom with nothing. And by the way," she whispered sinisterly. "If you're not in the cubicle while I'm doing it, you can't really stop me."

Clarke shook her head in defeat. "I guess not. Leave Miller that cute cashmere sweater I got at the mall last week. He'll look good in it."

Octavia pouted. "I wanted that for myself, but whatever. I'll just take the rest of your closet."

“Speaking of gifting things, I told Lexa I had her real present, but, uh, I don’t. The soap didn’t come on time. Should I give her something anyway?”

“Wouldn’t hurt.” Octavia shrugged. “Probably won’t help either, but it’s worth a shot.”

“God, what do I give her, though?” Clarke panicked, searching her desk for something usable. Her hands met metal and she held the tool up in the air. “Think she could use a stapler?”

“That stapler doesn’t even work,” Octavia pointed out.

“Of course not.” Clarke slammed it back down. “Alright." She braced herself, hovering in the entryway if the cubicle. "Forget the gift. I've got to go. Make sure I look fabulous at my funeral."

"You got it, girl. Love you."

"Love you, too."

/

Lexa's office shouldn't have been hard to find considering it was the nicest room in the building, but it was. After more than a couple minutes of wandering around the maze of the main office and practically getting lost, Clarke found herself by the mechanics' station asking Monty where to go. He knew exactly where Lexa's office was (apparently not even the President had working equipment), but the whole time he was giving Clarke directions there was a sadness in his eyes and a sympathy in his voice that made Clarke feel patronized, like Octavia had stuck a sign to her back when she hugged her that said "dead woman walking." It didn't exactly calm her down.

When she found Lexa's office, the first thing she noticed was that the door was surrounded by glass windows, making it very unlikely that Lexa could murder her without someone witnessing it from the outside. The second thing Clarke noticed was that someone was already in Lexa's office with her. The blonde woman from the party was sitting in the chair in front of Lexa's desk, and Lexa didn't look too pleased at whatever she was saying to her.

On one hand Clarke appreciated having a moment to talk herself down before talking to Lexa. On the other, she didn’t need Lexa to be pissed off at something else, too.

Clarke barely had time to sit herself down in a chair outside Lexa's office before the woman from the party was leaving it. She gave Clarke a knowing look on the way out, smirking and shaking her head before calling back behind her with a chuckle. "Nice gift. Wish you had been my Secret Santa."

The woman was gone before Clarke had a chance to question her, though what she wanted to say she wasn't exactly sure. She was left sitting there, speechless, wondering why Lexa had told this girl about her gift even though Clarke had gone to such great lengths to stop her from finding out at the party. All that effort had been in vain, and when Clarke stood up from her chair and walked into Lexa's office, she was as disappointed as she was afraid.

She swallowed her gum as she shut the door behind her.

Lexa hadn’t moved from behind her desk, but now she was preoccupied with something on it, and it took her a moment to notice that Clarke had come in. When she saw her, her face didn't soften, and given the way she was scowling at the woman who was in here before her, that was not a good sign.

Clarke swallowed again. Lexa straightened her jaw.

“Sit.”

Lexa didn't even need to gesture to the chair. Her voice was commanding enough that Clarke’s fear encouraged her to fulfill the demand as quickly and painlessly as possible. She sunk into the seat in front of Lexa's desk slowly, waiting for a trap or a correction of “wrong chair” aided by a finger pointing to a distant corner of the room where a fully functional electric chair buzzed eagerly, just waiting to roast Clarke like a moth drawn to a bug zapper, but all she felt was the heat of the woman who had been sitting in the leather before her. She shifted uncomfortably.

"I must admit, Ms. Griffin," Lexa started. "This is the most creative way one of my employees has told me to go fuck myself."

Clarke didn’t expect Lexa to start off with a joke, but she knew better than to assume this was going to be a light-hearted conversation, especially considering Lexa had already figured out her name and who she was sometime between now and the party an hour ago. She might have been joking around, but she wasn’t messing around, and Clarke would rather get straight to the point and get this meeting over with as soon as possible. She didn’t need med school to teach her it was more painless to pull the bandaid off quickly.

"Look, I'm really sorry," she apologized. "It wasn’t like that. I honestly did get you a real gift, I just ordered it late and it didn't arrive on time. I had no idea you were the President of the company, and I just wanted to have some fun. The gag idea was stupid and I'm sorry. I won't pull it again."

Lexa smiled wickedly. "No, you won't.” Clarke knew a threat when she heard one, but she barely had time to take it in before Lexa was hardening her features again and taking a deep breath. “But believe it or not, I’m glad you pulled this little stunt on me rather than someone else. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.”

Clarke sighed. “That’s what Octavia said.”

“Who?”

Clarke stuttered nervously, cursing herself for dropping Octavia’s name like that. She scrambled to cover herself. "Uh. Nobody. My friend Octavia. You don't know him. He doesn’t work here or anything.”

“Oh?" Lexa hummed, glancing down at a stack of papers on her desk and lifting the top sheet for better visibility. "It doesn’t happen to be the Ms. Octavia Blake you share a cubicle with?”

“You pulled up my files." Clarke swallowed. "Great. And, no. Different Octavia.”

“Ah yes. My mistake," Lexa apologized. "I’ve heard Octavia is a very popular baby name this year, especially amongst males. I should have known you were the type to hang around with infants. Your level of humor certainly is juvenile.”

“Ha. Good one.”

Lexa didn't laugh.

"Tell me, Clarke. Do you care about this job?"

"Of course," Clarke lied.

"Be honest."

"No," she admitted, dropping her shoulders and relaxing as much as she could into the leather. "I'll be straight up with you. I don't. My family has money, and, frankly, being here every day is a waste of my time. I'm going to be a doctor. I don't care about working in an office. All this job has done is bored me to death and killed my grades. I'm still a student, and I don't have time to do all of this and study. So, no, I don't care about this job. You can fire me, Lexa. I'm not going to cry and make a scene and beg for your forgiveness. I'm sure there's someone out there who needs this job more than I do, and you should give it to them."

Lexa toyed with her pen for a moment, clicking the end repeatedly until the tip poked out, then disappeared again behind its sheath of plastic. She seemed to be scrutinizing Clarke's level of honesty carefully, not expecting her to be so up front about the situation so soon. Clarke didn't expect her next words.

"Who said I was going to fire you?"

She scrunched her brow. "Are you not?"

"I was," Lexa admitted. "But someone suggested I keep you around."

Clarke choked on the lump in her throat, and it wasn't the gum climbing its way back up from her stomach. "Octavia?" If Octavia had risked her job to approach Lexa at that party and ask her to go easy on Clarke, Clarke owed her one. She couldn't ask for a better friend.

"No."

Or a shittier friend.

"Who then?" Had Raven done it? Monty? She was too scared to mention their names.

"Anya."

“I have no idea who that is,” Clarke admitted.

“Anya is the Vice President of the company. She’s the woman I was speaking with at the beginning of the party, and the woman who I’m sure you just saw leaving my office. You're lucky she got to me before you did, or we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. You'd already be out the front door."

“Oh.” That didn’t really answer Clarke’s question. She still didn’t know who Anya was. She had never met the woman until she saw her at the party, and Clarke had no idea why she would be defending her to their boss.

Unless she wasn't.

Just because Clarke wasn't getting fired didn't mean what was happening to her was a good thing.

She hated the feeling of not knowing.

Clarke's reply came out snappier than she wanted it to. "So do I still have my job or what?"

“Yes,” Lexa stated clearly. “You still have a job here." She spoke slowly, choosing her words carefully and avoiding Clarke's eye like she wasn't confident in what she was about to say. "Not only that, but I’m giving you a promotion.”

Clarke was taken aback. “A promotion?”

“Yes. I would like for you to be my personal assistant.”

“Your personal assistant?” Clarke laughed. “You’ve got to be kidding. What do want me to do, get you coffee? How do you take it? Black, two sugars, hold the dildo?”

Lexa didn’t laugh. Clarke tried to stop her own.

"It's a temporary position," she explained. "Next week I have a business meeting with the owner of the company in New York. I need someone to go with me."

"Whoa, whoa," Clarke interrupted, holding her hands up and signaling Lexa to slow down. "I know I said filing papers was boring, but I didn't mean put me in a board room with the owner in New York. I'm studying medicine, not business. I'm in no way qualified for this."

"You won't be speaking with the owner," Lexa assured her. "I can handle him on my own. It's his son I want you to deal with."

"I have to service some rich daddy's boy?" Clarke questioned in disgust. "I don’t think you know who I am. I'm the rich girl who goes to New York on vacation and has assistants attend to her, not the other way around."

Lexa sighed, displeased. "You do not actually have to service anyone, Clarke. You must appear as my assistant around the owner so that I have an excuse to bring you on the trip, but around his son I encourage you to be yourself."

"What does that mean?" Clarke asked, suspicious.

"It means Cage has been trying to take Weather Corp. off of his father's hands for years now, and I'm afraid that with the way our numbers are looking Dante will finally let him do it. Dante is a good man. He wants what's best for everybody here. But Cage won't hesitate to fire everyone in this office and rebuild what we've started from scratch. I have people here who depend on me for their jobs and as the President, I can't let that happen.

“Simply put, I need someone to tell Cage to fuck off. I'd do it myself, but I happen to like my job. Anya was going to do it, but it turns out she likes her job, too. So that's where you come in. You said yourself you don't care what happens to you here. And after your little display today, I know you have the balls to stand up to authority. And since you're still a student, I imagine you're on winter break right now, correct? Provided that classes are not a scheduling conflict for you next week, what do you say? You can either come with me to New York and help me pull this meeting off or you can walk out of that door and lose your job now. Those are your options."

Clarke didn't have to think long. Lexa wasn't giving her much of an option, and if everyone's job was at risk like she said, Clarke had more people than just Octavia to worry about. Plus, a temporary promotion didn't sound so bad.

"I get a free trip to New York?" she questioned.

Lexa scowled. Of all the things she'd told Clarke, of course the free vacation bit was the only part she's heard. She was already starting to question Anya's insistence to replace her with Clarke, but still, Lexa nodded.

"Can't pass that up," Clarke said simply. "Sounds a hell of a lot better than going home and telling my mom I got fired, so. I guess I'm in."

"Good," Lexa said, and she was trying to tell herself that she believed it. “I’ll call you with the flight details once I arrange them.”

"I don't remember giving you my number,” Clarke teased.

Lexa stared at her until Clarke remembered the papers on the desk, remembered what they said about her and Octavia.

“My file. Right. Nevermind.”

Lexa nodded once, firmly, but kept up her quiet routine. A woman of few words was not the kind of person Clarke usually liked to hang out with, especially when she didn't even take the time to laugh at her jokes. Things were already awkward between them. Clarke had a feeling this trip to New York with Lexa was going to be about as relaxing as visiting Lincoln's gym with Octavia. Ten minutes in Lexa's office and Clarke already wanted out. She didn't know how she was going to tolerate sitting next to her for hours on a plane flight and then potentially having to share a hotel room with her for god knows how long. She was already dreading this trip, and she needed time to think, sort it all out in her head.

"Soo," Clarke hesitated. "Can I go back to my desk, or?"

"You may go home, Clarke," Lexa sighed, bringing her fingers to her temple and glancing down to more of Clarke's files. "I do not need to see you again in this office until we leave for New York. And please, please don't be late to the airport. I'm begging you to practice better time management next week than you do clocking in to the office. This flight isn't something you can show up twenty minutes late for like you seem to do here at least once a week."

"I'll be there," Clarke promised. "I might miss work sometimes, but I've never missed a flight to New York."

"You've been before?" Lexa asked genuinely.

"Plenty of times. New York isn't too far from D.C. My family takes weekend trips down there sometimes."

"Good, then you can show me around."

"I thought I wasn't really your assistant," Clarke questioned. "You said that was just a cover up title."

Lexa glared at her. "Don't push it. I may need you to do this favor involving Cage for me, but don't forget that I'm giving you a second chance here, too. It won't kill you to help me find my way around New York. I'm the only reason you're still going to have a job for the next two weeks."

"I thought Anya was the reason I'm still going to have a job for the next two weeks.”

Lexa rolled her eyes, taking a calming breath. "If Dante doesn't fire you next week, I'm going to do it myself," she threatened, speaking more to herself than Clarke. "Although, if he doesn't fire you, you didn't do what I asked."

"Yeah, about that," Clarke interjected. "What exactly do you want me to do to Cage? I feel like I have to preface here that I'm not a hit man. If you want him dead, you're going to have to do that yourself and I'd appreciate it if you left me out of all the gory details."

"I don’t need you to kill him," Lexa reassured. "I just need you to piss him off. Talk shit about his business ideas, dig up dirt about something stupid he did as a teenager, give him a dildo as a New Years' gift, I don't care. Just do whatever it takes to get him to have a temper tantrum in front of Daddy. I can use anything that’ll help me convince Dante his son isn't fit to run the company yet."

"I guess can do that," Clarke responded. "God knows I love pissing off entitled rich white men in positions of power. That never has consequences."

Lexa didn’t appreciate the joke. She took it more seriously than Clarke wanted her to.

"The consequence is that you get fired, which is going to happen whether Dante does it or I do. If you don't want to take this trip, you don't have to. You can turn down the offer. But I do believe you are the most qualified for the job - or rather the most qualified to lose your job. You're expendable, to put it frankly, and I'd rather see someone who files papers and thinks practical jokes involving sex toys are appropriate for the office get fired over my Vice President who works hard and has been here with me for years. But that's up to you. I can't force you to go."

Guilt trip. Ouch. It was a low blow, but it worked. Clarke did deserve to be fired more than anyone else in the office, and it wasn’t like that was news to her. She’d been expecting it for weeks now, ever since she first planned that stupid gag gift. If anything, she was surprised she was being given an opportunity to last another week or two. Octavia would call it Fate. Clarke couldn't pass that up.

"No, I'll do it," Clarke told her seriously. "You're right, and I don't want anyone else to get fired by Cage."

"Like Octavia?"

There was a harshness in Lexa's voice that Clarke couldn't exactly read. It was like an accusation or another threat, but this time Clarke wasn't going to let her get away with it. She stepped forward, gripped her palms around the wooden edge of Lexa's desk, and leaned in closer to her.

"She has nothing to do with this,” Clarke whispered. “That gag gift was all me. If you do anything to hurt Octavia..."

Lexa appeared only mildly surprised, like she wasn’t used to having employees stand up to her but wasn’t as intimated as Clarke wanted her to be either. Lexa kept her composure and spoke honestly, addressing Clarke with unwavering eye contact. "I won't fire Octavia. She does her work. She comes in on time. I have no reason to."

"Good." Clarke backed away, releasing her grip on Lexa's desk. She didn't realize how strained her knuckles had been until they ached as they detached. She stretched her hands out by her sides to bring back the blood flow. "Are we done here, then?"

"Not quite."

Clarke braced herself for more stipulations, fine print on the contract of the trip that would make her regret agreeing to go, but Lexa did nothing except pull a drawer open on her desk and hand Clarke a neatly-wrapped package from inside it.

"Your Secret Santa said they couldn’t find you at the party. I told them I would give this to you."

Clarke took the gift like it was a bomb and the crinkling of the wrapper as the present exchanged hands startled her like the hissing of a fuse. She looked briefly for a tag, searching for something to let her know this was a genuine present and not some counter prank Lexa had whipped up for her right before she’d come into the office, but there was none. It didn’t take Clarke long to realize she was being paranoid, that Lexa thought too highly of herself to sink to Clarke’s level and start some kind of prank war with her, but she wasn’t about to ask her boss who the gift was from and confirm it. It didn't really matter who it was from anyway. It wasn't like Clarke would know the person.

"Thanks."

"You're welcome."

A beat passed where Clarke stood in front of Lexa awkwardly, waiting to be dismissed or given another set of instructions about the trip, but nothing came. Lexa shuffled the papers around on her desk, closing the cover on the front of Clarke's file and tucking it away in the cabinet behind her. When she spun back around in her chair, she seemed surprised to see Clarke still standing there.

"Do you need something? Would you like your dildo back as well?"

Lexa's tone was mocking, and Clarke didn't even bother humoring her. With one very intentionally obvious eye roll, she was already on her way out the door.

The air was thick as Lexa tried to swallow some of her more choice insults. She settled on, “Try to save the attitude for Cage.”

Clarke paused at the door, hand tight around the brass of the knob. It would be simple to flick her wrist, to open the door and leave without saying a word, but Clarke wasn't the type to surrender the last laugh.

"Don't worry, I've got enough of it to go around."

Lexa looked at her like she was more than aware of that.

Clarke shut the door behind her before she could say anything else.

/

She was supposed to leave. Lexa had already told her to go home, and it wasn't like she had things to get from her cubicle before she could, but Clarke wasn't about to leave the office without telling Octavia what had happened.

Only when she went back to her desk, there were more people than just Octavia waiting for her.

Monty and Miller and Raven were all there, too, smushed into the cubicle together even though the square barely had enough room for two. The four made space by squeezing together. Monty and Miller were practically holding hands they were standing so close, and Raven looked like if she wasn't in Clarke's chair (pulled beneath Octavia's desk) she'd be sitting in Octavia's lap.

"Clarke!"

Monty ran to hug her as soon as he noticed her, and Miller waited behind him for his turn at wrapping her in his arms when Monty let go. Octavia and Raven didn't stand up, but they both looked like their spirits had been shocked out of their bodies and were hovering a good five feet above their heads into the air.

"You're alive?"

Clarke was just as surprised as Raven sounded, and she nodded carefully. "Somehow, yeah."

"It's a Christmas miracle!" Monty shouted, and Miller was the one to smile widest at his childlike glee.

"It's a Christmas miracle that you came back when you did," Octavia countered. "Thirty seconds later and I would have had your entire room up for sale on Ebay. We decided your stuff was worth more to us as cash than material items," she explained as Clarke shot her a look. "We were going to split the money four ways. But. I guess we're all going to be poor now." Octavia dramatically closed a tab on her computer and Clarke wondered if she had actually started listing the things in her room on Ebay from memory alone. If anyone knew all the stuff Clarke owned, it was Octavia, and Clarke made a mental note to have her be the one to seriously write her will out fifty years from now when she needed it.

"Look on the bright side," Miller told her. "We all make more money than Clarke now. Tell us, what's it like not to have a job anymore?"

All eyes were on her, waiting for the story of how Lexa had screamed at her and kicked her off the payroll, but all Clarke could do was shrug. "Don't know. I've still got my job."

Everyone was silent until Octavia spit out a very loud, very confused, "What?"

Clarke shrugged again. "She didn't fire me."

"Jesus!" Raven shouted. "How the hell did you get yourself out of this one, Griffin? What were you doing in there, blowing her?"

"No, she wanted me to use the dildo instead of my mouth."

Octavia's jaw hung open like it was as detached as Raven's leg had almost been in that car accident. Monty and Miller looked scarred for life.

"That was a joke."

A sigh of relief rocked the cubicle.

Raven still looked confused, but also a little more impressed than before. "How'd you swing it then if you didn't get into her pants? There's no way it's not company policy to fire someone after they give you a dildo on the clock."

Everyone looked like they wanted an answer just as much as Raven did. Clarke didn't hesitate to tell them.

"Apparently I did such a good job at pissing my own boss off that Lexa wants me to go to New York with her next week and piss off hers. Supposedly the owner's son is a major douche bag who wants to take over the company and fire everyone, so Lexa wants me to humiliate him until his dad thinks no one will respect him if he takes over. Long story short, giving my boss a dildo for Christmas kind of got me a promotion."

Now it was everyone else's turn to stare as Octavia slammed her fists on the desk. "I literally cannot believe you, Clarke Griffin. You are the only person in the world who could keep your job after pulling a practical joke on your boss and get a promotion at the same time. Are you kidding me? What kind of demons have you been making deals with to have this kind of luck?"

"I think his name was Charlie," Clarke joked.

"I think his name was Fate," Monty corrected. "The world is on your side, Clarke."

"It really is, and I'm so sick of it," Octavia told them. "I'm selling all of your stuff when you leave for New York. You don't even need it. You'll probably just end up winning the lottery while you're there without even buying a ticket."

"Excuse you," Clarke corrected. "Anyone can win the lottery. Something better than that'll happen to me. I'll get asked to be the next Victoria's Secret model, or star in Brad Pitt's next movie or something. Fate didn't give me these good looks for nothing. It's not going to ignore them."

"You're right, and I hate you even more for it," Octavia surrendered. "I hope you know how lucky you are."

"Oh, I am very aware," Clarke assured her. "But I don't think this is going to be quite as great as you guys think it is. Yeah, I got a temporary promotion, but I'm still going to get fired after the trip is over. And I have to spend an entire week in New York with Lexa. She's about as much fun as you think she is."

"That does make me feel a little better," Octavia told her. "I'm slightly less jealous of your life now. Thank you."

"You're welcome."

"What's with the present?" Miller asked, gesturing to the gift at her side. Clarke had already forgotten about it.

"Oh, Lexa gave it to me," she said absentmindedly. Normally she was all about gifts, but normally she was also able to give lists of what she wanted to people before they bought her anything. This was from a stranger who had no idea what she liked, and Clarke had better news to tell her friends about than what was probably a pair of socks with dancing snowmen on them.

"Lexa was your Secret Santa?" He asked curiously.

"Oh, no, I just ran from the party before my Secret Santa could find me. They gave this to Lexa to give to me."

"Well open it," Monty demanded. "It's Christmas after all. And what better way to celebrate not getting fired than with presents?"

Raven shrugged, Octavia nodded, and Miller agreed with a smile.

Clarke humored them, tearing into the wrapping paper with less enthusiasm than she normally would. She wadded the snowflake-sprinkled paper into a ball and tossed it into the garbage bin before really looking at the gift in her hands.

"This... this is the exact same bath soap set I ordered for Lexa, only this person got theirs in the mail on time. Glad to know that idea was original. And now I have two of these. Looks like it's bubble baths only for me from now on. Goodbye, shower."

"Better than a dildo," Raven offered.

This time Clarke agreed. She kind of didn't want to see a sex toy ever again.

Or at least until she got another girlfriend.

"Well, anyway. I'm supposed to leave. I kind of don't work here in the office anymore, so. But I couldn't leave without telling you guys what happened first. I didn't want you all worrying about me all day."

"We appreciate it," Miller told her.

"I'm going to miss you." Octavia pouted. "What if my new cube-mate sucks?"

"They probably will," Clarke told her honesty. "It's hard to live up to my standards."

"Hey," Raven spat. "I'm pretty great. And I'm going to stay in here with Octavia. Well, at least for the rest of the day. I can’t really switch stations forever, but I can't leave my friend alone on the day her best friend got fired, can I?" She swung her arm over Octavia's shoulder, and Clarke couldn't help but notice how terribly the word 'friend' fit that sentence.

Octavia leaned into her touch. "Thanks, Rave."

Three sets of eyes being witness to their intimacy was too much. Octavia blushed and quickly pulled something off the wall, a piece of paper she wadded up and threw in Clarke's direction. "What are you still doing here, Griffin? You don’t work here anymore. Get out!" Clarke dodged the projectile by catching it and when the bright green slip of paper unfolded in Clarke's hand, she realized it was the sticky note with Lincoln's name. Clarke did her best friend a favor and balled it up again before putting it in her pocket. She'd throw it away when she got home. Octavia didn't need it anymore.

/

“You’re home early.”

Clarke hadn’t expected anyone to be home this early, let alone to be called out for it herself. Kane had mentioned something about visiting his mother for the holidays before he came home and celebrated Christmas on the actual day with Abby, and Abby herself was usually at the hospital at this time of day, holiday or not. People didn't stop injuring themselves just because Santa was scheduled to break into their houses. Seeing her mom in the living room was not exactly on Clarke’s agenda, but it didn't sound like such a bad idea to sit down next to her on the couch and relax.

Clarke sunk into the cushions gladly. "I could say the same for you. Shouldn't you be at work?"

"I'm on call today. Shouldn't you be at work?"

"They let us home early because it's Christmas Eve." Clarke backed up her lie with the truth. "Plus, I got a promotion, so. Where's the remote?"

"You got a promotion?"

Abby looked surprised. Clarke was only slightly offended.

"Yep," she bragged, patting the cushions around her. "The President wants me to be her assistant. We're flying out to New York next week for a business meeting."

"Really?" Now Abby was more than surprised, she was impressed. She made no mention of the remote, though. Apparently it wasn't nearly as important to her as it was to Clarke. "You went from filing papers with Octavia to assisting the president of the entire company?"

"No, the president of the United States,” Clarke deadpanned. “Kane hooked me up with Obama. We're bros now."

Abby looked a little less impressed after that. She rolled her eyes and scooted over slightly as Clarke continued her search beneath her ass.

"Now I don't know if you're lying to me so you can skip work and go to New York next week or if I should actually congratulate you on your promotion."

"I did get the promotion," Clarke shrugged, failing to find the remote on her mother's side of the couch. "You don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am going to New York with my boss next week.” Abby still looked suspicious, and Clarke would have let her think whatever she wanted if she wasn’t afraid she’d never hear the end of it if her mom really thought she was skipping work. “Trust me, I wish I was going alone. It’s not exactly going to be a vacation. My boss is a stuck up bitch.”

“How very nice of you to say.”

“Just telling it like it is. It’s not like she can hear me. I can’t get fired or anything.”

“You can if she overhears you talking like that at work.”

“She won’t. I’m quitting after next week.”

“You’re quitting?" Abby questioned, even more surprised. "You can’t quit. You just got a promotion.”

Clarke shrugged. The lie came off her lips easy. “I need to focus. You remember how hard med-school is. I don’t want to fail my classes just because I don’t have time to study.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Abby asked. “You just got a promotion. You're really going to throw that away?”

“It’s not like the promotion matters,” Clarke reasoned. “I don’t want to dethrone my boss and take over the company or anything like that. There’s no point in climbing a career ladder in business when I’m trying to get my med license. I want to be a surgeon, not an entrepreneur.”

Abby sighed, but Clarke had a point and she knew it, even if she didn't exactly know every detail of the situation. "Alright. I can't stop you. If you really want to quit at the top of your game, that's your business. I'm proud of you for doing as well as you did."

"Thanks, Mom." Clarke sighed. She'd given up on finding the remote minutes ago. "Apparently I'm not meant to watch TV, so I guess I'll go pack instead." When she stood from the couch, Clarke saw the remote immediately. It had been in the one place she hadn't looked. Under her own ass. Oh well. The remote had won and she was too frustrated with it to want it now. She let it be and stretched out her legs again.

"When do you leave?"

"I don't know exactly. I'll tell you when my boss calls me with the details."

"Well, how long are you going to be gone?"

"I don't know exactly. I'll tell you when my boss calls me with the details."

"You sound very prepared."

"I'll figure it out."

"I sure hope so," Abby said. "Speaking of prepared, I hope you didn't need that second package you said you had coming in the mail. Kane opened it the other day and put it in the bathroom. I forgot to tell you about it. It really was soap, thank God."

Great. That was just what Clarke wanted to hear. She could have given Lexa the bath soaps after all. In hindsight, though, they probably wouldn't have helped much. The situation couldn't really have turned out much better than it did.

"Thanks for telling me." Her tone was only slightly sarcastic.

"I'm sorry. You'll have to blame Kane for this one," she apologized

"Wait ‘til all my friends at med school hear the story of how I had to personally yell at one of our great nation's senators for touching my bath soap. Next time tell him he's not allowed to search my stuff unless he has a warrant."

"I'll be sure to make him reread the fourth amendment when he comes home,” Abby promised.

"Why didn't you go with him again? Isn't it about time you met his mom?"

"I had work," Abby reasoned, and Clarke was quickly reminded of how she had gotten her ability to lie from her father.

"You're sitting on the couch."

"I'm on call."

Clarke raised her eyebrows accusingly.

Abby sighed. "I'm just not ready. We're not at that stage yet."

"Mom, he's living with us. You can't meet his family?"

"I will someday," she put it off. "He just doesn't always get along with his mom himself, and I don't want to leave you here alone, and -"

"And you're afraid he's going to ask you to marry him if you don’t have any more relationship milestones standing in the way."

Abby shot her a look that told Clarke she was all too right, and that she was stepping on a nerve.

"Would it be that bad?" she pushed. "I'm not that close to Kane, but he's an alright guy. He cares about you. Plus, he's probably going to run for president someday, and I can't live in the White House with him if I'm not his official stepdaughter." Abby didn’t appreciate her attempt at humor, so Clarke softened her voice, took on a more serious tone. "Dad won't mind, you know. He'd want you to be happy. There are worse people you can replace him with than Kane."

"I don’t want to replace him," Abby spoke quickly, grasping subconsciously at the wedding ring at her finger. She'd refused to take off it off, even after the accident, even after she'd started dating Kane. When they'd met, he hadn't approached her at first because of it. He'd assumed she was already married, and that was intentional on Abby's part. She hadn't wanted to date for a long time after Jake's death, and Kane was the first exception. He was cool with her keeping the ring on after they talked about it. He understood. He had kept everything he could of his father’s after his death when he was a boy. The two of them had bonded over that, lost loved ones.

It was all very sickeningly sweet to Clarke. Her teeth hurt just thinking about it, and not because she was grinding them in anger like she first had when she found out her mother was dating again.

“I know,” she comforted. “But it’s okay to move on. Dad wouldn’t want you to live in the past forever.”

“I know, Clarke.” Abby’s voice was soft, hurt, and Clarke felt a little bad for bringing it up. It was something her mother needed to hear, though. She didn’t regret it.

“Maybe you two can talk about going to visit his family while I’m in New York,” she suggested. “Then you won’t have the excuse of not wanting to leave me here alone.”

“Maybe we will,” Abby agreed, picking up the remote and turning on the TV. “Maybe we will.”

Chapter Text

"I need you to be at the airport by six."

"Please tell me you mean p.m."

"No."

Clarke groaned, pinching the bridge of her nose. "You couldn't have picked a later flight?"

"I could have picked the 5:30 flight."

"Wow, I take it back. You're truly my hero. Because of you I’ll get a whole extra half hour of sleep. Now I only have to wake up at 4 instead of 3:30."

"If you're packed and ready to go, you don't need to get up so early."

"Trust me, if you want me to be awake and functioning by six a.m., I'm going to need to chug at least three pots of coffee, which is going to take me some time to brew, not to mention all the time I’ll have to spend in the bathroom after drinking three pots of coffee. Plus I need to get dressed and -"

"I don't need to hear the details. I just need you to be there. And I mean it, Clarke. I need you there. You cannot be late."

"I won't, alright. Don't worry. I got this.”

Clarke glanced at her closet, currently scattered across the entirety of her room. Packing three suitcases had been easy when she’d done it the week before. Cutting her luggage down to one bag when Lexa told her the company was only able to afford each of them bringing a single carry-on was another matter entirely.

She could do it. She still had twelve hours.

If she didn’t sleep at all.

(Clarke did not got this.)

"You've printed out your ticket, right?" Lexa checked.

"Yep."

"And you have it somewhere where you won't forget it?"

"Yep."

"And you have a ride to the airport tomorrow?"

"Yes, Mom, I do."

"I'm not your mother," Lexa snapped. "I'm your boss, and I'm responsible for your ability to show up at the airport on time and get on that plane with me so we can make this meeting go smoothly. If I was your mother, we wouldn't be in this situation. Unless you give your family members sex toys for Christmas as well."

"I got my mom a cute sweater, thank you very much. She's too young for me to purposefully give her a heart attack and kill her for the inheritance money. Though she did almost have one when she opened your present before I could when it came in the mail, so, thanks, Lexa, you almost gave my poor old mom a heart attack."

"That was all you, Clarke," Lexa assured her. Clarke could feel her glare through the phone. "I didn't tell you to buy me a dildo."

"I just couldn't resist. Your last name is Woods after all. That’s probably what made me think of it. It’s your fault on some kind of subconscious level."

"I cannot help my name and you know it."

Lexa had a point. Clarke wasn't going to let her know that.

"You're the one who brought the sex toys up," Clarke accused. "Which, by the way, are we really supposed to be talking about this on the company line? What if your boss taps the phones and hears you starting conversations about sex toys with your employees?"

"I'm not on the company line," Lexa corrected. "This is my personal number. And by the way, save it into your phone so that I have a method of contacting you if we get separated in New York. Or if you don't show up to the airport on time," she threatened.

"I'll be there," Clarke repeated for what felt like the 169th time this week.

Lexa sighed. "I just want to make sure. You're the most crucial part of this plan, whether I want to admit that or not. If you're not there, it won't work."

"Sounds like you should trust me," Clarke accused.

"I don't," Lexa told her point blank. "You're my least-trusted employee. That’s why you’re going with me, remember?"

"Whatever." Clarke sighed, picking up another shirt from her bed and tossing it into the 'no' pile. Tank top. Not professional enough. Though, maybe that was a good thing on a this trip. She picked it back up.

"Would you like for me to call you in the morning and wake you up?"

Literally nothing sounded worse.

"No, Lexa. I can get myself up. There's this cool feature they have on phones now called an 'Alarm Clock.' You should check it out sometime."

Clarke could swore she heard the wet slapping of Lexa’s eye roll.

"I'm calling you at 5:45 to make sure you're on your way."

"What are you going to do if I'm not?"

"I'll highjack a plane and come get you myself," she deadpanned.

"That sounds like a bad pick-up line in a cheesy romance novel. Or the start of some shitty thriller movie. It also sounds like something you'd get in a hell of a lot more trouble for than I would for giving my boss a dildo."

"You know what I mean."

"And you should know what I mean when I say I'll be there."

Lexa groaned. "Alright," she surrendered. "I trust you, Clarke."

She didn't.

Clarke didn't care.

"Good. Now if you excuse me, I have to finish packing and set out the coffee beans for the morning."

"Okay. I'll let you go. Just remember. 6:00."

"What time is it again?" Clarke pestered. "7:00?"

"6:00."

"7:30?"

"Goodbye, Clarke." Lexa's voice was so stern that Clarke was worried she might have pressed so hard against the End Call button on her phone that her thumb went straight through her glass, shattering it clean like a bullet hole.

She kind of hoped Lexa’s phone was broken now. That way she would stop calling her every. fucking. day. about these stupid flight details. They'd been over them so many times they were almost too sharp in Clarke’s mind. Any more repetition and she might actually forget them.

Clarke sorted through a few more shirts, convincing herself she was making more progress than she was before she dialed a number that was definitely not Lexa's. She made a mental note to save Lexa’s number later, though, that way she could block it after this stupid trip was over.

"Hey, Octavia. What's up?"

"Well, it's 6:30 on a Friday night and you immediately assumed I didn't have plans and called me, so I'm kind of offended."

"Oh shit. Sorry," Clarke apologized. "Am I interrupting something?"

"Not yet," Octavia told her. "I have a date with Raven at 7:00, though."

"Congrats! So you guys are officially a thing now?"

It had only been a week since Clarke had been kicked out of the office, but already she felt like she was missing so much. Catching up with Octavia made her realize that being closer to her friends was why she had taken this job in the first place. Nothing said bonding quite like spending four hours a day trapped with your best friend in a five foot by five foot square in a sweaty office. Now that Clarke had lost that aspect of her job, she and Octavia felt more out of sync than they had in a while.

"I mean, it's only our first date," Octavia said hesitantly. "But we're getting there. All the water cooler talks are paying off."

"I still can't picture Octavia Blake hitting on girls at the water cooler. I'm too used to seeing you just kind of drunkenly make out with them at the bar and then gesturing vaguely down the street to your apartment after you get them to leave with you. It's like you're an adult now or something."

"Yeah, well, the water cooler needs a lot of fixing and I need a lot of water to handle my thirst around Raven, so it works out pretty nicely. We've kind of claimed it as our own territory. Everyone else stays away."

"Nothing like a territorially pissed on bucket of water to make me stay out of a room," Clarke joked. "So where are you taking her tonight that's going to live up to the excitement of the water cooler? The water park?"

"If it wasn't December that would actually be a great idea. Remind me to write that down."

"Duly noted."

"We're just going out to dinner," Octavia told her. "Nothing too fancy. It's only the first date."

"Dinner? I never would have guessed. I figured Raven was the type to suggest kickboxing."

Octavia was quiet for a moment before saying, "If both of her legs worked, she'd go to kickboxing lessons just to learn how to roundhouse kick you in the face for that comment."

"I... actually don't doubt that. Tell her I'm sorry and maybe mention that I'm already terrified of her and she doesn't need to learn martial arts to scare me off. If I submit now she might show some forgiveness."

"I can't wait for what she'll show me tonight when I submit to her. I hope it isn't forgiveness, though."

"Ew. Also hot. But ew."

"If she ever wants a threesome I'll call you."

"I'll never admit that I’d be into that. But speaking of calling, I need you to call me tomorrow morning to wake me up on time for this flight."

"Sure, what time?"

"4:00."

The silence was deafening. Clarke stopped sorting her clothes just so she could listen for breath on Octavia's side of the line, anything to let her know that her best friend was still alive.

Octavia's voice was piercing when it finally came through. "Are you high?"

"I'll take that as a 'no,’” Clarke groaned.

"Yeah, sorry. I'm not getting up before ten on my day off. Especially if I'm going to be up with Raven all night the night before."

"I'll be in New York by ten," Clarke complained.

"Call me when you land, then. I want to make sure you get there safe. But only after ten. If it's 9:30 and your plane is spiraling into the ground, please call your mother."

"Yeah, I'll call her and tell her you're not allowed at my funeral for being such a shitty friend."

"Okay, but you better hope your mom gives you a closed casket funeral because if she's dressing your corpse instead of me, you're not going to look very good."

"They'd have to pull me out of a burning plane, Octavia. That’s, like, instant cremation. They wouldn’t have a body to bury. I'd be nothing but ash."

"In that case, your mom's going to pick an ugly urn for you which is even worse. People will have to look at you on a shelf forever, not just on the day of your funeral."

“Fine,” Clarke caved. “You can come to my funeral and pick the urn. Make my mom splurge for Tiffany. Does Tiffany make urns?”

“We can custom order if they don’t.”

“You’re the best.”

“I know."

Clarke sighed. The pile she had left to sort through was… more than intimidating. The more she worked the more it looked like she wasn’t going to have enough time to get through everything and sleep, and this was not going to be a fun night for her or a fun morning for Lexa if she didn’t get at least some beauty rest. "I trust you’ll do the same even if I miss the flight and die because Lexa kills me for it,” she confided. “Though at this point, dying doesn’t sound as bad as getting up at four in the morning.”

"She can't kill you if she dies in the plane crash," Octavia pointed out.

"Something tells me that's wishful thinking. Plus, there'll probably be kids on the plane. I don't want to wish death on a bunch of annoying toddlers just because I couldn't wake up on time and I need my boss to die in order to get off the hook for it."

"You know, if you need to wake up early, there's this cool app on your phone called an 'Alarm Clock.'"

"I already used that joke today, so it's not funny. I was going to change your name in my phone to Alarm Clock in the morning if you woke me up, but since you said you won’t, I guess it'll just have to stay ‘Bitch.’"

"You put more work into my name than I put into yours,” Octavia said. “I was too lazy to even spell the word. You're just the dog emoji in my phone."

"Because I'm loyal and fun and super cute?"

"Yeah, something like that."

"Well, after that lovely compliment I think I'll leave you be. I have to finish packing. Again. Good luck with Raven tonight."

"Thanks. And trust me, getting lucky is definitely part of my plan. Try not to die tomorrow. I want to tell you everything."

"And I want to hear it. Night O."

"Night, Clarke."

When she hung up, Clarke shut off her phone for good. She had too much work to let herself get distracted again.

/

"You're late."

"It's 6:02."

Lexa glanced at her watch. "6:02:08."

"You have a watch that counts seconds?"

"Yes, and you're currently wasting ones we don’t have by asking me that question."

"Your answer took way longer than my question," Clarke countered. "But whatever. Where's our gate?"

"It's on the west side if the building."

"Your watch got a compass too?"

"No. Now let's go."

For someone carrying a suitcase that was slightly larger than Clarke's, Lexa sure moved quickly. Clarke struggled to keep up with her pace as she wheeled her luggage behind her between the crowds, navigating the airport as inexpertly as she navigated the office. Lexa's legs were just too long, Clarke decided, and those couple inches she had over Clarke were really making a difference. Not even people in New York walked this fast on the streets.

"Slow down, Sonic. We're looking for the baggage check, not gold rings."

"I just don't want to waste time," Lexa told her, slowing down a bit even though it looked like it physically pained her to do so. Her body was buzzing, every move anxious, as if she was the one between them who had consumed enough coffee to earn the Guinness World Record for most cups consumed at once without immediate heart attack. The doctor in Clarke really wanted to stop and take her pulse. The employee in Clarke who had been woken up at 4 am and had to spend the next week with her boss in a city she'd previously associated with having a good time just wanted her to calm the fuck down.

"Relax. We'll make it there on time. The plane doesn't take off til 7. What are the chances our flight gets delayed and we'll have all kinds of extra time anyway?"

"Don't say that," Lexa scolded. "We're supposed to check into our hotel by noon."

"You realize the flight time from D.C. to New York is like an hour, right? They can delay us ‘til 10 and we would still make it to the hotel on time."

"Anything can go wrong between now and then, Clarke," Lexa warned. "We have no idea how long it'll take to get out of the airport once we get to New York, and then we actually have to find the hotel. You said yourself that you don't even know where it is," Lexa reasoned.

"That's because I usually stay in nicer places,” Clarke jabbed. “But it's not a big deal. Our cab driver will know where the hotel is. It's their job to know where everything is."

"I know," Lexa sighed. "I just want things to go as smoothly as possible."

"And they will. If you relax. You're stressing yourself out over nothing."

"Well one of us has to stay on top of things. It's certainly not going to be you. You couldn't even answer your phone this morning when I called you."

"I was busy talking to the cab driver. I didn't hear it ring."

She didn't hear it ring because she had turned it off. Lexa had warned her she was going to call and that was her first mistake. Clarke was not about to talk to Lexa if she didn't need to and she hadn't needed to. She was on schedule (or two minutes and eight seconds behind), and she didn't need to talk to Lexa until she actually got to the airport and had to find her. Clarke hadn't expected that many people to be awake and in one place at six in the morning, but there had been and only then had she broken down, turned on her phone, and dialed Lexa's number from her contacts.

"Whatever. Let's just get in line."

The line was. Slow. And that was putting it mildly. Clarke didn't mind having a minute to screw around on her phone before she had to turn it off for the flight, but Lexa looked like she was about to die of boredom or anxiety or some combination of the two and Clarke wasn't far enough along in her medical studies to feel confident enough that she could revive her if she went down. She put away her phone.

"Take off your shoes," Clarke instructed.

Lexa looked at her like she'd just admitted to having a foot fetish. "Pardon?"

"Take off your shoes. We're almost at the front of the line, and they're going to ask you to do it. Might as well be one step ahead, yeah? No pun intended."

"Why do I need to take off my shoes?" Lexa look more than suspicious, like she still believed the foot fetish thing.

"Have you never flown before?" Clarke asked surprised.

Lexa shook her head.

Jesus. Clarke knew she'd be helping Lexa around New York, but she didn't think her assistant duties would start as soon as she got to the airport. It was like this was really her job or something.

At least explaining how the baggage check worked to Lexa gave her something to do while they waited.

"They check your shoes probably because some asshole once tried to sneak a bomb in in his. You should also get out your phone, your wallet, and anything else metal you have on you or else you're going to have to go through the scanner like fifty times. Oh, and take off your watch. You don't need to know the exact minute and second the guy in front of us gets 'randomly selected' for further examination by airport security because he isn't white."

Lexa listened openly but only complied after Clarke began taking off her shoes and placing them in empty buckets onto the conveyor belt along with the rest of her stuff.

At least the automated line for the X-ray scanner was moving faster than the one for the metal detector. Barely. It was a welcome change of pace, however slight.

As their stuff passed through the scanner and they neared the front of the line, Lexa looked even more anxious than usual. Clarke couldn't tell if she was just giddy to finally be getting out of here or if she was genuinely nervous for her first airport security screening. Either way, if she didn't start meeting the TSA agents’ eyes and playing it cool, they were both going to be 'randomly selected' for full-on pat downs.

Fortunately, no one else thought Lexa was acting as weird as Clarke did.

Those were the benefits of being white. And well-dressed.

As Lexa grabbed her shoes again, Clarke noticed how expensive they were. They were almost as expensive as hers, but more because of how professional they looked and less because they were any sort of brand name Clarke could recognize. Lexa had actually dressed down for the day, wearing a simple button up and nice pants that were far more casual than her usual blazer and tie work attire, but Clarke had actually dressed up for the occasion and still Lexa looked nicer than her. She was starting to wonder if Lexa slept in a suit. She couldn't picture her wearing pajamas. It was weird to think she might actually get to see her in them if they shared a hotel room like she was expecting.

"Hurry up," Lexa called, bags already in hand. Clarke had been so distracted she hadn’t even put her shoes back on yet.

"It's 6:30 in the morning,” Clarke excused. “Most of the world isn't even awake yet. Be glad I'm moving at all."

"Anya would have never been this slow. She'd be telling me to hurry up."

"Yeah, well, I know we're both blonde and that must be really confusing for you, but if you haven't noticed, I'm not Anya."

"Trust me," Lexa spat, shifting her weight impatiently. "I've noticed."

"You're the one who asked me to come," Clarke reminded her. "If you really wanted to bring Anya instead, you could have."

Lexa pouted while Clarke grabbed her bags. She looked slightly less uncomfortable when they started to move again, but Clarke was starting to realize that Lexa never looked particularly comfortable no matter what situation they were in. "I did not want her to get fired."

"Well there you go," Clarke reasoned. "Don’t complain. You get to keep your vice president and all you have to do in return is slow down and wait for me. Some of us aren't wearing slip-ons."

"Yes, you're more familiar with wearing strap-ons," Lexa mocked under her breath.

More dildo jokes. And this time completely offhand. Clarke would almost consider humoring her with a response if she knew Lexa hadn’t meant it as an insult. She did, though. She could tell just by her tone. This wasn’t some harmless quip from Octavia, and Clarke wouldn’t banter with her like they were friends, wouldn’t let Lexa rile her up like she wanted to. Clarke wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.

She pretended not to hear.

/

Clarke was almost able to fall asleep as they sat and waited for their flight to board. She would have if she wasn't sitting next to Lexa.

"Clarke, it is almost seven. You cannot stay asleep for much longer."

"I never fell asleep," Clarke told her, eyes still closed and head against the back of the seat rest. "You can't wake me up if I was already awake. What time is it?"

Clarke opened her eyes now, reached over the seat carrying their bags between them to where Lexa sat beside her with and grabbed her wrist. Lexa looked less than thrilled that Clarke was touching her without her permission, but Clarke very quickly released her hand again, letting it fall onto the leather of her suitcase

"It's 6:45," Clarke said. "We have, like, fifteen minutes."

"They will start boarding soon," Lexa argued, and Clarke would have gotten a kick out of the way Lexa's face scrunched up in protest if she hadn't shut her eyes again, hoping to catch about five seconds worth of sleep between this complaint and Lexa’s next one.

It wasn’t two minutes later when the announcer’s voice appeared overhead like the disembodied voice of God. The woman who spoke was too cheery to be some omnipotent deity who started wars and killed children and forced Clarke to go on this trip with Lexa, though. Plus, she was calling first class. Clarke liked her already. She stood at the good news.

Lexa shot an arm out to stop her. "What are you doing?"

Clarke looked at her like she was deaf. "They're boarding first class," she explained. "Come on."

Lexa didn't move her arm.

Clarke tried everything to stop the very bad feeling forming in the pit of her stomach.

It didn’t work.

"Lexa," she drawled, speaking as slowly as possible to make sure this conversation they were having was clear. "Why aren't you letting me go?"

Lexa shook her head. Her dark curls bounced lightly against the shoulder of her button-up as she fed Clarke the scariest three-word sentence horror story she'd ever heard. "We're in coach."

"Please tell me you didn't just say that." Clarke sat, but she didn’t sit down because she’d accepted what she’d just heard, she sat down because she needed time for the news to sink in.

"We couldn't afford to bring luggage," Lexa chastised. "You really think we were able to afford first class tickets?"

Clarke had never actually looked at her ticket stub. She had merely assumed they were flying first class. Lexa was a civilized person. The owner of the company was paying for them. It hadn't even crossed her mind that she wouldn't be flying the way she normally did.

Clarke Griffin always flew first class.

This time was not going to be an exception.

"I am so fixing this." Clarke said it like a promise. She hoped Lexa took it like one.

Lexa didn't get a chance to ask her what she meant before the announcer instructed it was coach’s turn to board. Clarke marched from her seat with purpose, bags in hand, like she was proud of flying with the rest of the poor people who couldn't afford luxury.

Lexa followed, struggling to keep up with Clarke's power walk for a change. She was not disappointed by how quickly they found a front spot in line, and she was even more excited when they handed over their tickets and actually set foot onto the plane. Clarke might have been upset they were flying coach, but Lexa was just glad they were flying at all. They were here. They had made it. Everything was going according to her plan.

It was not going according to Clarke's plan, however.

Normally Clarke took the window seat. She loved to look outside, see the world from a point of view she could only otherwise experience in pictures. Everything looked different from an aerial perspective, smaller, shorter, like heads floating without bodies. Houses were roofs. Skyscrapers were single floors. Clarke loved to capture the distorted image of the world they knew on paper when she flew. She spent her flights sketching and drawing, taking pictures from above the plane's wings. But on this flight, she took the aisle seat and forced Lexa to experience the wonder of the skies for the first time. Clarke had more important matters to attend to.

They were two of the first people to find their seats (not counting first class), and the aisles beside them were crowded long after they placed their carry-ons in the cubby holes above them and sat. It was busier and stuffier than Clarke was used to in first class, and when the mob settled down, Clarke flagged down a stewardess with more conviction than she ever had before.

The woman who came to assist her was young, a blonde who rocked the airline outfit like it was a cheap, knock-off, overly-sexualized Halloween costume on the succulent, commandoed ass of a bachelorette party stripper. She was cute, to say the least. Clarke could work with it.

"Excuse me... Harper." She smiled flirtily as she read the name tag across the woman's chest. "There was a bit of a mixup with our tickets. See, we were supposed to be flying first class, but our intern accidentally purchased coach. And I know it's a short flight and I know you have dozens of other people trying to weasel their way into first class without a ticket, but we fly a lot for our job. We're actually on a business trip right now to New York to negotiate a few business plans before the new quarter starts in the new year. She's the President of a major corporation in D.C. and I'm her Vice President," Clarke explained, pointing to Lexa, then herself. "We're very busy people, but I'm sure that if we encountered an airline along the way to our meeting that was able to accommodate us and help us correct this little problem we're having, that we would almost certainly find the time to recommend it to all of our colleagues, as well as call the airline and let them know what wonderful flight attendants they have. So what do you think? Can you can help us out, Harper?"

Clarke ended her request with the biggest open-mouthed smile she could project, and Harper looked between the two women in the seats, summing them up like a math problem. Lexa wasn't smiling like Clarke was, but she looked professional and that was all Clarke needed her to do in order to back up her charade. Enough of the lie had been truth that as long as they played their parts well, Harper had no reason not to believe them.

She set her hand over Clarke's on the seat rest and smiled back at her. "I'll see what I can do."

With one not so subtle squeeze to Clarke's hand, she was gone.

"I can't believe you lied to that girl," Lexa scolded as soon as she was gone, ducking her head and whispering so as not to alert Harper or any nearby passengers who may rat out their scheme. She made a point of reaching over and grabbing Clarke's arm the same way Harper had, but there was nothing friendly or supportive about the way Lexa dug her nails into the skin there.

"I didn't lie that much," Clarke excused, yanking Lexa's hand off of her and throwing it back into her lap. "We are on a business trip. You can tell everyone in the office that the airline is good."

"You called yourself the Vice president," Lexa argued, teeth clenched.

"I'm the Vice President's replacement for the trip," Clarke shrugged. "Close enough."

"You could never replace Anya,” Lexa spat. “Besides, you also called me an intern. I worked very hard for my position in the company, unlike you."

"I don't know, that dildo was pretty hard,” Clarke disputed, tone growing almost as bitter as Lexa’s more and more by the second. “I think it earned me the title of Vice President Replacement for at least the next week, don’t you think?”

"You are an assistant," Lexa stressed. "That is your title. Nothing more."

"Geeze. Don't get your panties in a bunch.” Lexa was far too serious about this. Not even Clarke could put up with this forever. “Just be glad I assisted you into possibly getting a first class seat for your first flight."

Lexa looked ready to grumble a complaint about something else, but her lips sealed shut like they’d been superglued when Harper floated back over to them, an extra pep in her step than there had been the first time she’d spoken to them.

"You're in luck!" she sung happily. "There are a couple of free seats in first class. You're welcome to take them if you'd like."

"We would love to!" Clarke exclaimed, cutting Lexa off before she could decline the offer just to spite Clarke or clear her conscience or whatever stupid reason she probably had floating around in her head. "Let's get our bags, Lex."

Clarke was out of her seat before Lexa even had time to cringe at the nickname, and Clarke was handing her her carry-on before she could stand and get it herself.

"You're a doll, Harper," Clarke lauded, placing her hand delicately on the woman's arm. "Will you be serving us in first class as well?"

"Of course, miss." Harper nodded sheepishly, the natural red of her cheeks suddenly overpowering the red of her blush caked on them. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your names."

"I'm Clarke, and this is Lexa," she introduced. "Thanks again, Harper."

"It's no problem, Clarke. Let me show your your seats."

/

"You didn't need to flirt with her."

"I absolutely needed to flirt with her."

"Not the second time around,” Lexa argued. “She'd already gotten us into first class."

"So what?" Clarke shrugged. "Nothing wrong with a little flirting."

"She's going to expect you to call her back."

Clarke looked down at the napkin she had been handed with her breakfast. She had eaten at home before she left, but she wasn't about to turn down a perfectly good, perfectly free plate of toast served by a cute stewardess who had written her number on the top napkin of the stack. She’d plucked the thin strip of paper from the pile before Lexa could wipe jam off her face with it just to piss her off. It sat now in her coat pocket for safe keeping.

"What's she going to do if I don't?" Clarke maintained. "I gave her my first name, not my address. Besides, she was cute. Maybe I will call her back.”

"She wasn't that cute."

"Who cares? She hooked us up with first class seats. I'd even find you cute if you got me free breakfast and a comfortable chair." Clarke stroked the cushion of the leather beneath her. Much softer than whatever fabric horror she had endured for those ten torturous minutes in coach.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Lexa asked, genuinely offended and tone even snappier than usual.

"It means that bitchy attitude you always have isn't very attractive," Clarke told her straight up. "If you were nicer like Harper, people would like you more. All of your employees wouldn't be so afraid of you."

"Harper was just doing her job," Lexa defended. "Just like I'm doing mine. And if you hadn't noticed, my job isn't to be nice or cute. My job is to manage this company and keep your friends from being fired," Lexa reminded her.

Clarke let that sink in for a moment. Lexa wasn't her favorite person in the world, but as much as Clarke wanted to argue with her basically nonstop, it wouldn't get either of them anywhere. Just because Clarke could say whatever she wanted in front of Lexa without repercussion just because Lexa needed her for this trip didn’t mean it was a good idea for her to take advantage of that power. It didn't matter if they liked each other or not. They were doing this for Octavia and Raven and Monty and Anya, and they had to work together if they wanted all of their friends to be safe.

When Clarke looked back to Lexa, she was staring out the window again. Her food was only half-eaten, practically untouched like Great Grandma Agatha’s potato salad at family picnics, and Clarke didn't want to disturb her. She recognized the dreamy look on Lexa's face, the unrivaled adoration of the beauty of the ground from the sky. This was a first for her, a first Clarke remembered for herself all too well. She found herself grinning slightly at the memory of being a third of Lexa's age, sitting in a plane for the first time and looking out the window like everything below them was part of Disneyland.

Not everything about Lexa was annoying, she guessed.

"We'll call a truce," Clarke offered, jogging Lexa out of her dream world and forcing her head to turn back to the inside of the plane. “I'll try not to be so mean to you if you try to be a little nicer to me. I know we're here on business and what we're doing is important and everything, but not everything has to be so serious all the time. We're going to be in New York. Your first memories of the Big Apple should be fun, not tainted by work. Just cause we have responsibilities doesn't mean we can't use our free time to roam a bit. I know how to have fun in New York, and you know how to keep my friends from losing their jobs. Let's cooperate. For the sake of the trip. And Octavia. And Anya."

A twitched poked at the corner of Lexa's mouth, more a sign of uncertainty than a smile. She was skeptical, eyebrows arched inward, and Clarke couldn't blame her for being so tentative when they’d so consistently failed to get along in any capacity. She would try to make up for that.

She held out her hand.

"Deal?" she asked, pulling the same smile she did for Harper.

Lexa's hand found hers shakily, like she expected a secret buzzer to be nestled insidiously in the palm of Clarke's hand but there was firmness in Lexa's grip when their skin met, a muscle memory used to making agreements this way, though usually with people more important than Clarke and usually in the context of business, not her personal life. Still, she nodded lightly. "Deal."

Clarke grinned genuinely and left Lexa to look through the small porthole of the window when they detached. It was moments later before Lexa spoke again.

"You keep saying you're doing this for Octavia," Lexa started, making an observation as much as making conversation. "But you were flirting with that flight attendant. Are you two...?"

Lexa gestured vaguely with her hands, turning to look at Clarke and hoping her face conveyed what her voice couldn't. Clarke couldn't help but laugh at her.

"Oh god, no. Octavia's hot, but she's like my sister. We've known each other since preschool. Well, sixth grade, but sixth graders act enough like preschoolers that they might as well be considered the same thing. I could never date Octavia."

Lexa nodded like she understood, but Clarke had a feeling that she didn't.

"Do you have a sister?" she asked. "Or just a best friend like that?"

Lexa was quiet for a moment, eyes roamed back to the window. They were passing clouds now. Clarke loved that part of flight, the feeling that if she could just reach out of the window somehow she could be touching the mist, seeing for the first time the way her body truly displaced the air whenever she moved.

"No," Lexa whispered after some time. Clarke didn't know how long either of them had been staring at the sunrise, at the clouds the same color as the snow blanketing the ground.

"Well what about Anya?" Clarke asked. "You guys are kind of friends, right?"

"I guess you could say that," Lexa thought. "I wouldn't be comfortable calling her my sister, though. We aren't close in that way."

Clarke understood, if not personally then at least in theory. Lexa and Anya had met at work. They hadn't passed notes to each other in the back of Ms. Jordan's Home Ec. classroom, pouring their deepest darkest secrets out onto paper for each other to read. Anya wasn't there for Lexa like Octavia was for Clarke when she had kissed Monroe in the cafeteria on sloppy joe day in seventh grade and realized she was bi. Lexa wasn’t there with Anya like Clarke was with Octavia to know just how scared she was to be going to high school when she'd heard nothing but horror stories about it from her older brother who always had a habit of hanging out with the wrong crowd. They didn't have that history.

The more she thought about it, the more Clarke felt bad for Lexa. She didn't know what she would do if she didn't have someone like Octavia who she knew would always be there by her side, would always be there to experience everything that happened in her life with her.

She frowned, something she had never done before when looking at the clouds. Apparently this trip didn’t just hold firsts for Lexa.

The train of thought led Clarke to ponder what it was exactly that Lexa did during her free time. Surely as the president she worked more hours than Clarke and Octavia combined, but she had to go home at some point, had to have some kind of social life when the office shut down for the night. Maybe she and Anya went out for drinks when their shifts were over. Maybe she had a cat to take care of at home. Maybe she liked to bake, or write, or scrapbook her day’s events at the office.

Maybe this trip to New York was the first time she'd gotten out in a while.

Clarke might have to work harder to have fun on this trip than she originally thought.

She could do it, though. Clarke Griffin could do anything.

Chapter Text

Lexa harassed the cab driver like she was prodding a piece of meat on a grill. He couldn't drive fast enough, couldn't explain how to get to their hotel concisely enough, couldn't take enough short cuts no matter how many sketchy turns he braved or red lights he ran. Clarke almost felt sorry for him.

Lexa tipped poorly when they arrived at the hotel, and Clarke was tempted to lag behind while Lexa retrieved their luggage from the trunk to apologize to the driver for her boss’s lack of impatience, but Lexa was quicker getting the bags than Clarke expected her to be and the moment passed. Clarke let it go. She didn't really want to be associated with Lexa in that guy's mind forever anyway. She'd rather stay quietly in the background where she couldn't be blamed for her boss’s rampage.

When the cab driver stormed away, tires whistling against the paved cement, he left the two of them stranded in the parking lot, standing near the doors and the mountains of snow that had been shoveled against the side of the building to keep the walkway clear. Without stopping to distribute their luggage, Lexa carried both bags into the lobby by herself. Clarke followed closely behind her, not minding that Lexa had offered to carry everything, but when Lexa finally handed Clarke her suitcase, she handed her own luggage over along with it.

"Take these upstairs. I have to check in."

Clarke took the suitcases disapprovingly. They weren't that heavy. She could easily wheel both of them around. She just didn't want to. "Why do I have to carry them upstairs? Why can't you do it?"

"Because I have to check in," Lexa repeated, pulling her wallet out of her pocket and her ID out of the leather pouch. "Unless you'd like to do it instead so that you can flirt with the concierge and upgrade our room to a suite."

Clarke rolled her eyes and extended the handles on the bags. "No thanks."

"What's wrong?" Lexa asked, eying the young boy in a suit and tie behind the counter. "Not into men?"

"I'm very much into men, thank you,” Clarke clarified. “I'm just not into teenage boys who have part-time jobs working at hotel desks. Plus, I'm your assistant, not a prostitute. Please don't treat me like one."

"Fine, then please assist me in taking our bags to our room while I take care of this. We're in room 210."

"Fine."

Clarke easily changed her mind about the short trip up a couple of stories in the building. The higher up she went, the farther away from Lexa she would be, even if it would only last for the next couple of minutes. She’d take all the space away from her boss she could get before they were crammed into a room together for the next week. She rolled their luggage to the elevator speedily and waiting for one of the doors to open.

When she stepped inside the air was musty, like a crowd of old ladies visiting town for a cat convention had been trapped inside the elevator for several hours about twenty minutes before Clarke stepped into it. She probably would have gotten out and taken a different one if a young couple wasn’t walking her way, the man racing ahead of his girlfriend to catch the elevator door before it closed like he didn't trust Clarke to hold it for him. She probably would have. Being assaulted by this guy's cologne, no matter how strong and abrasive and clearly from the discount counter of Sears it was, was better than smelling like her grandmother and having an allergic reaction to all the dust floating around in a space barely big enough for the three of them to occupy. It felt like she had been transported back to the middle of California in the 1930s. The only thing worse than the snow flurries outside was the miniature Dust Bowl in the elevator, and with all three of them breathing, even the warm mugginess of the air back then was bound to be replicated.

The couple raced into the confines of the metal box, not knowing the stuffiness that awaited them, but somehow the two of them managed to only take up as much room as Clarke did herself. Between Clarke's bulky load of suitcases and the way the girl clung to her boyfriend like he was a life raft on the titanic, the elevator wasn't quite as cramped as Clarke thought it would be. She had a bit of room to move, to lean against the wall and silently watch the couple hold onto each other like the elevator’s rising was the steep climb of a rollercoaster doomed to fall down its tracks once again.

They were cute. Kind of. Not physically. She was too pretty for him and his cheap department store aesthetic, but she seemed to like him anyway and the way he wrapped his arms so gently yet protectively around her reminded Clarke of how Finn used to hug her, how close they'd been when they first started dating. This couple was in their honeymoon stage and the more Clarke thought about it the more she wondered if maybe they really were on their honeymoon, had eloped to New York without any baggage and tied the knot the way Octavia had threatened to do with Raven. She wanted to ask them, wanted to congratulate them, but her room was only on the second floor and Clarke didn't have enough time to before the doors of the elevator were opening, letting in fresh air and reminding Clarke of how little she'd been able to breathe for the last few seconds. Maybe the oxygen deprivation had just gotten to her head. Maybe that was why she was being so sappy. It had nothing to do with missing Finn.

She took a deep breath out in the hall, the elevator doors closing behind her and sending the couple shooting back up the metal shaft, leaving Clarke alone on the second floor.

After a couple of inhales, Clarke realized the air wasn't as fresh as she originally thought. It carried a smoky aroma, smelled of cigarettes and bar crawlers making their way back to their rooms early in the morning after a long night, but still it was better than the elevator, more open, more freeing. A sense of liberty washed over her. Maybe she didn't come to New York to commit herself to someone for the rest of her life, but she came to have a little fun, and she could do that. Maybe she could even do it with someone by her side.

Room 210 wasn't far from the elevator, a fact that was both a blessing and a curse in Clarke's mind. Lord knew she didn't want to travel far to get to the elevator every time she needed to go downstairs to leave, but if anyone else staying on this floor was anything like Clarke, she and Lexa would be hearing a lot of noise disturbance outside their room in the middle of the night as the clubbers returned from the streets. Clarke could live with it. If she had anything to say about it, she'd be stumbling back to the hotel late herself.

Lexa on the other hand... Lexa would just have to deal with it.

Clarke slouched in front of the door like a dog waiting to be let inside, her ass scratching against the thick, pastel carpet of the hotel hallway. She rested her head on the back of the door and debated taking a quick nap while she waited for Lexa to show up with the key, but, again, Lexa was speedier than Clarke anticipated. A shadow ascending the staircase on the opposite end of the hallway caught Clarke's eye and Lexa emerged around the corner moments later. She gripped the key card in her hand like it was more important not to lose than her credit card.

"You took the stairs?" Clarke questioned, too tired to disguise the disapproval in her tone.

"We're only up one floor," Lexa defended. "And yes, I try to take the stairs whenever I can. It's healthier. It also didn't help that the elevator looked a bit rickety."

Clarke was pretty sure no one had said the word ‘rickety’ since the 1950s.

"It smelled like ass," Clarke informed her, using the correct terminology for this century. "I almost wanted it to break down and kill me."

Lexa looked more than uncomfortable. Her face did that pouty thing even more sternly than usual, and she didn't seem like she wanted to humor their conversation any longer.

"Move so I can open the door."

Clarke scooted over, back shifting against the wall instead of the doorframe.

Lexa worked the key card like a pro, letting herself in on the first try. It always took Clarke at least six.

The room was. Alright. It wasn't up to the standards Clarke usually set for hotels, especially ones she was going to be living in for so long, but the room was slightly bigger than her bedroom at home, and even if she did have to share it with Lexa, it at least had a kitchen and bathroom attached to it, something she didn't even have available at her mother's house.

Lexa took the bed closest to the door. Clarke took the bed closest to the window.

It wasn't a great view, but it wasn't the worst either. Clarke had seen many a hotel where there was nothing to see but the brick of the neighboring building when she pulled back the curtains. Here at least she got some glimpse of the outside world, even if they weren't high up enough to see New York in all its glory. Clarke had been here before, though. She already knew what the city looked like. Lexa seemed mesmerized enough by what little they saw, anyway. She stared for a moment, eyes glowing like they had out the airplane window, and those few seconds were the longest Clarke had seen her relax all day.

It wasn't long before she was back to schedule, though.

"We're having brunch at one."

Clarke groaned, flopping face-first onto her mattress. The tucked in sheets wrinkled beneath her. "Do we have to?" Her speech was muffled by the pillow and she lifted her head so that Lexa could hear her better, pulling a few strands of yellow hair out of her mouth while she was at it. "I ate at home and on the plane. If I eat anymore I'm going to throw up."

"If you're going to throw up, do it on Cage," Lexa told her. "We're meeting the owners there, so, yes, we have to go."

That explained why Lexa hadn't eaten much in first class. And here Clarke thought she just wasn't a fan of airline food.

"I'm looking up directions there now, and I'm writing them down to give to the cab driver later. We're not having another situation like this morning."

The situation being heavier traffic than Lexa was used to? If that was the case, she had another thing coming if she thought a cab driver could more easily navigate the heart of New York City in the middle of the afternoon than they could early in the morning on the outskirts of town. Clarke wasn't going to tell her that now, though. She didn't want to argue. She had a good three of four hours before they had to leave and she was going to use it to nap, not debate with Lexa over whether or not Google Maps predicted accurate arrival time.

"Cool. I'm going to sleep. Wake me up when it's time to go. Hopefully by then I'll actually be hungry again."

"You should be. It'll be lunch time after all."

"If it's lunch time why do they call it brunch?"

Lexa pondered for a moment. "Because they still serve breakfast food."

"So when you have breakfast for dinner do you call it Brinner?"

"I prefer Brupper."

"Well let's not have Brupper tonight. I can't eat breakfast four times in one day."

"Let's get through brunch before we worry about supper," Lexa told her. "I can only handle one thing at a time."

Clarke yawned, laying her head back on the pillow and closing her eyes. "Sounds good to me."

/

When Clarke woke up, Lexa was back in panic mode.

Not that she’d ever really left it.

Clarke was still groggy, not nearly as rested as she usually was when she woke up at noon, and it wasn’t exactly pleasant that the very first words she heard upon waking were a stern, “Get up,” from Lexa. No one had been that adamant in waking up Clarke since her mom when she was in junior high and ten minutes away from missing the bus.

"Where’s the fire?”

“Under both of our asses if we don’t make it to this restaurant on time. I want to be early. It’s professional.”

Clarke lifted herself slowly, raising her arms above her head and stretching her back muscles. When she looked down at the bedspread it was barely tousled. She hadn't even pulled the sheets over her. The fact that she felt more rested now was more of a testament to how tired she'd been before and not to how comfy these hotel beds were. Everything, even the pillows, we're firmer than Clarke liked, and when she stood up from the bed the mattress springs gave a deep groan of protest, like a poltergeist wailing for her not to leave the room until she'd solved the mystery of its murder.

"Ok," Clarke said, running a hand through her locks to straighten them back to their normal curl. No doubt her hair and her eyes still looked puffy from sleep, but by the time they got to this restaurant she should have had enough time to rejoin the living instead of looking like one of the living dead. "I'm ready to go."

Lexa looked her up and down. Clarke barely noticed through her sleepy squint.

"Like what you see?" she asked, raising an eyebrow to go along with it.

"No," Lexa spoke honestly. "You can't wear that."

Clarke looked down. She was still in the clothes she had worn to the airport, the same clothes that had convinced the flight attended on the plane that she was the vice president of a major company in D.C. "What's wrong with them?"

"They're wrinkled. It's not professional."

Clarke shrugged, wrinkling the sleeves at her shoulders even more. "So what? Aren't I here just to piss off this Cage guy?"

"Yes, but your goal is to reduce his credibility, not your own. You can do that while looking presentable."

"I can also do that while looking like shit. Not that I think I do, by the way." If there was one thing Clarke Griffin never did, it was look like shit. Especially not after all the beauty rest she just had. She didn't care if she was wearing stained sweatpants or a wrinkled blouse. She was hot. Lexa was probably just jealous.

Lexa glared at her, unamused that they were wasting their time. "Please go straighten yourself up in the bathroom."

"Why? Is Cage homophobic? ‘Cause I can bisexual myself up in the bathroom instead if that'll get under his skin. He won't want to take over a company that he thinks is run by a bunch of queer people."

Lexa closed her eyes like she might be silently praying to some sort of deity that Clarke get strep throat on this trip and lose her voice. Clarke was only mildly offended. "Please go wash up in the bathroom," she tried again, tone pleading this time. Clarke felt bad enough for her to listen.

Looking in the mirror, maybe her clothes were a bit more wrinkled than she thought they were, which mostly meant that since she had been sleeping somewhat on her side, a majority of her shirt had moved along with her. Her neckline was halfway around her shoulder and somehow the top button of her blouse had come undone in her sleep. She straightened the fabric out and ran a hand along the front of her shirt, smoothing out as many wrinkles as she could. It wasn't perfect, but it was better, and with a quick brush to her hair and a small coat of mascara to her lashes, she even looked cleaned up enough for Lexa.

They were in a cab in no time, and at the restaurant even sooner than that.

It was the kind of place Clarke felt comfortable in, somewhere posh and fifty years out of date that her grandmother would take her to on visits to her home in Virginia. Retro or not, the place was packed and not just with clients rolling down the unfavorable side of their over the hill birthdays. There were as many people here around Lexa's age as there were people around her grandmother's age, and Clarke wondered where exactly Dante and his son fell on the spectrum.

Neither of them were here yet for Clarke to find out. Lexa had gotten here as early as she wanted by harassing their second cab driver even worse than the first, and she was the one talking to the hostess about the Wallace reservation for four and where they were to be seated.

It was as close to the brunch buffet as possible. Of course.

Clarke really shouldn't have eaten two breakfasts. There was nowhere good for her to sit around the circular table. On one side she had a clear view of the food. On the other she was clear smell of it. She was going to hurl either way.

Lexa chose the side facing the buffet, and it was easier to close her eyes than her nostrils, so Clarke pulled out the chair beside her. Maybe she could stare at the table the whole afternoon. Or gouge out her eyes with her fork. Sitting next to Lexa sounded better than sitting next to strangers anyway, even if it wasn’t exactly the most desirable option.

When Lexa stood to pour herself a cup of tea from the kettle at the end of the table, she was kind enough to grab Clarke a glass of water while she was there. Lexa might have been annoying 90% of the time, but at least with this truce Clarke got things like free cups of water out of her without having to move. She sipped at the glass like she was nursing a hangover.

"Alright." Lexa was on the edge of her seat, literally and figuratively, but Clarke opened her ears to her as she drank gratefully. "Before we meet them, I just want to go over this again. Dante is obviously the older one. Cage is younger. Make sure you go after him and not his father. Treat Dante with respect - if you know even what that is.” Clarke rolled her eyes. Lexa patronized her further. “And just to reiterate, if Dante's white hair and wrinkles don't give away who's older, Cage is the one with the lip scar."

"Like a cleft palate?" Clarke asked.

"No. It's just a scar."

Clarke found herself a bit too amused imagining how this guy had managed to hurt himself. As horrifying as her mother's job was most of the time, Clarke had heard many a comical story of people injuring themselves in ridiculous accidents. If Cage was as much of a dick as Lexa said, he could've busted his lip in a bar fight. Exposing a penchant for violence would be a good way for Clarke to bring Cage down, but if Cage was as much of a rich daddy's boy as she'd heard, bars didn't seem like they would be his scene. Maybe he'd gotten his lips stuck in a girl's braces in junior high. Maybe he'd gotten his lips stuck in his own braces in junior high. That was even more embarrassing.

It was another fifteen minutes before the Wallaces arrived. Clarke was already becoming numb to the smells of the buffet and her stomach was starting to settle with a little water in it. When Lexa shot up to out stretch a hand and greet Dante and his son, Clarke stood up along with her.

"Ms. Woods. It's great to see you again." Dante spoke kindly, wrapping both of his hands around Lexa's outstretched one as he greeted her genially. Clarke liked him immediately, and she could tell why Lexa did, too. The smile lines on his face were genuine, not the result of decades of scowling, which was exactly what his son was doing beside him.

“It’s great to see you again too, Mr. Wallace,” Lexa acknowledged.

“Please.” He smiled wider. “Call me Dante.”

Lexa flashed Cage a brief smile, and he did little more than nod his head in her direction, his lip only raising slightly around his scar.

"This is my new assistant," Lexa introduced. "Clarke Griffin. Clarke this is Dante and Cage Wallace."

"I've heard a lot of good things about you, Dante," Clarke said, intentionally leaving Cage out of the compliment. "It's nice to meet you." He shook Clarke's hand the same way he shook Lexa's, the smile never leaving his face. Clarke couldn't even imagine being mean to him.

"I don't know about you ladies," Cage interrupted. "But I'm starving. Where’s our table?”

Lexa escorted them to where they were sitting like she was a waitress at the restaurant. The Wallaces took their seats on the other side of the table, Dante sitting across from Lexa and Cage opposite Clarke. It felt like a bad double date, and Clarke never thought she'd want to swap a partner only ten years older than her for one nearly forty years older.

"Before we start discussing anything, I think I'm going to go ahead and get some food. You coming dad?"

Cage looked expectantly to his father, but Dante shook his head. "Not right now. You go, son. I want to catch up with Lexa for a moment and save our seats. I'll make my plate when you get back."

Cage wasn't going to ignore a perfectly good excuse for him to leave, and Clarke wasn't going to miss an opportunity to get Cage alone like she wanted.

"I'm going too," she announced, rising from the table with Cage in sync.

The fact that she was following him around the buffet like a secret service agent around the president wasn't exactly subtle, but neither was Cage's cologne up close. The stench of it followed him like a strip of toilet paper stuck to his shoe, and he reeked almost as badly as that guy Clarke had seen in the elevator, only Cage didn't have a cute girlfriend to redeem him. His choice in breakfast stunk too, and Clarke watched him shuffle a bran muffin onto his plate like she really might throw up on him.

He saw the face she made before she realized she was making it.

“Problem?” he asked.

“No.” Clarke quickly regained her neutral expression. “You took the last bran muffin. Looks like I’ll have to settle for boring old chocolate chip.” She grabbed the pastry by its wrapper and placed it onto her nearly empty plate with a small clink, more for show than anything else. She had no real intention of eating the muffin unless she could smuggle it out of the restaurant and save it to chow down on in the hotel room later when she wasn’t queasy.

Cage gave a chuckle, and that was so not where Clarke was trying to go with this. She had to make him hate her and fast.

“So, not to be rude or anything,” Clarke started, channeling every straight person who had ever confronted her about her sexuality. “But where’d you get the scar?” She pointed to her own upper lip where there was more gloss than deformed tissue.

“Does it matter?” Cage asked, clearly as offended as Clarke was every time someone pestered her about not being straight.

Clarke nodded like she understood, then retracted the sense of solidarity with the worst thing she could accuse. “Bar fight?”

Cage side-eyed her as he smeared a dollop of cream cheese onto his bagel. Between that, the muffin, and the banana bread he’d crammed onto one side of his plate already, the man was set to ingest lot of carbs. At that rate, he was going to die before his father, even if he didn’t necessarily look out of shape. All those bar fights must have kept him fit.

“No,” he corrected, delving into the full story, even though it was clear he preferred not to. “I was attacked by a dog as a child. I needed stitches.”

Clarke eyed the thin silver sliver of tissue, getting as good of a look as she could while Cage was still facing her. “The doctors should have taken the stitches out earlier. Then it wouldn’t have scarred so much.”

He scoffed. “I thought you were an assistant, not a pediatrician.”

“My mom’s one of the best surgeons in D.C.,” Clarke explained, flashing a row of white teeth beneath thin, perfect lips. “Also I’m in med school.”

Cage didn’t seem to have much to say about that.

Point Clarke.

Cage broke away from the buffet table unexpectedly like he was a basketball player on offensive and Clarke was set to guard him. He left without filling his plate or even getting a drink, and Clarke followed him thankfully, glad she wouldn’t be forced to pile more food she wasn’t going to eat onto her plate as an excuse to keep following Cage around the buffet table. They both went quickly back to their seats. Cage didn’t seem pleased that she was back so close to him so soon, but he looked relieved to be back by his father’s side.

Dante was chatting amicably with Lexa. They looked like old friends reuniting for the first time since their high school reunion rather than business associates who probably talked more often than Lexa let on. She wasn't lying when she said she had Dante covered. She could handle him.

Which meant Clarke had to hold up her end of the bargain and handle Cage.

Cage and Clarke's plates full, Dante stood to finally get his own meal. Lexa followed him, but not before leaning down to whisper in Clarke's ear, "I don't know what you said to Cage, but he already looks suspicious. Don't be too overbearing just yet. Tone it down a bit."

Boo. Clarke was just getting started.

She could probably get away with pretending Lexa had been too quiet for her to hear.

Dante and Lexa were quicker getting their food than Cage had been, and when they returned both of them had healthier food on their plates. Lexa had gotten some kind of fruit cocktail and Dante had opted for the lunch portion of brunch rather than breakfast. Clarke slowly picked at her muffin.

"So you're an assistant, Clarke?" Dante seemed genuinely interested in hearing about his employees, and Clarke was happy to make small talk with him, but Lexa cut her off before she could swallow her bite.

"Yes. I just promoted her recently. I know the vice president may have been a better addition to these meetings, but a family emergency came up for Anya last minute, and Clarke has been to New York before. She'll be able to show me around."

Lexa was going into way too much detail with their half-honest lie, and the more she talked the less she was covering her ass like she thought she was and the more suspicious she was becoming. Dante was too trusting a man to doubt her, though. Or maybe he just trusted Lexa specifically to tell him the truth. He bought it.

"That's great! How long have you been working for us, Clarke?"

Clarke thought back to when Octavia had told her about the job opening. The first snow hadn't fallen yet, and Clarke's 23rd birthday had just passed. "Only a couple of months," she counted.

"I remember when I first hired Lexa," Dante reminisced. "What was that, seven years ago?"

Lexa nodded her head. "Yes. I had just graduated high school."

That made Lexa somewhere around twenty-five, close to what Clarke had guessed.

"How long have you been in business for?" Clarke asked, wondering if Lexa had been there from the start.

"We've been in business for almost thirty years," Dante proclaimed proudly, but Cage ruined his moment of confidence.

"Yes. Almost thirty years. But with the way our numbers are looking lately, I'm not sure we're going to actually hit that milestone." Cage side-eyed Lexa, looked at her like she was the reason the company was failing. Yes, she had power and responsibility as the president, but she didn't have total control. She didn't decide everything. Clarke stood up for her. And Dante.

"Come on, don't have that kind of attitude. You know, one of the number one traits attributed to successful entrepreneurs is optimism. Have a little faith in your dad. If he's kept the company around for thirty years, I don't see why he isn't capable of pulling it through another thirty more."

Cage looked frustrated. Dante kept his smile.

"That's very nice of you to say, Clarke, but I'm not even sure I'll be alive for another thirty years, let alone running the company for that long."

For the first time, Clarke saw Cage smile. His dad had foreshadowed his own death, and Cage had smiled. Clarke balled her fists against the table cloth, trying to squeeze the thoughts of her own father, dead way too soon, out of her head with the force against her palms. She was glad she had gotten a manicure before she left. If she had done her nails herself, the jagged imperfections the clippers left in her inexpert hands would have broken through her skin.

She hated Cage. There was no other word for it. She wasn't even doing this for Lexa now, wasn't doing it to save her job or save her friends. She was going to take down Cage because he deserved it.

She didn't care if she wasn't being subtle enough for Lexa's tastes. She brought the issue she was here for right up, trying her best to put on a smile that wasn't as cynical or threatening as she really wanted it to be.

"I hear Weather Corp. might be a family business someday."

Cage was still smiling. He perked up at the topic. "Yes, hopefully. And hopefully someday soon."

The way he directed his statement at his father wasn't teasing, wasn't playful, and if Clarke didn't know better, she'd almost think Dante was ignoring his son on purpose. His smile didn't falter, and it gave him an air of innocence, made the fact that he intentionally wasn't looking directly at his son much less obvious.

Clarke really liked this guy, and she wasn't exactly one to bond with the elderly.

"It's a possibility," Dante offered vaguely, and Cage silently huffed as if his father had shot down his miniature elevator pitch completely.

He persisted, anyway. "Maybe a plausibility," Cage offered.

Dante spread his grin thin, then knocked his ring finger against his empty glass, a hollow sound chiming from it. "I think I'm going to get some more water."

Cage looked around the table for his own glass before finally realizing he'd never gotten a drink in the first place. He'd sacrificed a quenched thirst to avoid Clarke. Now he was regretting it. "I forgot to get a cup of coffee. I'll go with you, Dad."

Clarke saw the perfect opportunity. Dante was already halfway to the buffet table, but Cage hadn't even fully stood. She stopped him before it was too late. "No, let me do it. I'm the assistant after all. How do you take it?"

Cage sat down again, submitting to Clarke's offer with a simple response of, "Black." He rolled his shoulders over the back of his seat confidently, no doubt imagining what it would be like to have his own personal assistant to pour coffee for him all the time when he was in charge of the company.

Lexa, however, already knew Clarke too well. Something was up, and Clarke winked at her to keep her mouth shut as she stood. Lexa obeyed, never moving her head away from where her palm rested against her cheek. Clarke was so thankful for Lexa's sealed lips and so excited for her own plans that she forgot how nauseated the smell of food made her and approached the buffet table without dread.

The worst thing about brunch coffee was that the employees always made too much of it at a time and the pot sat out for too long before anyone drank it all. By now the coffee was lukewarm at best and exactly what Clarke was hoping for. Still, she went against Cage's request and poured a couple of plastic tubs of cool cream into the mug for good measure.

On the way back to the table, Clarke kept her eyes on the ground as a lookout for anything she could use as an excuse, a puddle of spilled jelly or a pulled out chair, but ultimately she had to rely on blaming her own two feet. Lexa said her job was to embarrass Cage and not herself, but she didn't mind looking a bit silly if it accomplished what needed to be done.

Mere feet from the table, she twisted her ankle at the last second, stumbling forward until her side bumped into Cage’s chair and the cup of coffee spilled all over the front of Cage's suit.

Clarke herself was caught in the cross fire, more than a few drops from the tipped mug dripping down her own chest, but even though the warmth of the liquid was unpleasant, it wasn't enough to burn her skin, and she felt good knowing that she had only inconvenienced Cage, not sent him to the hospital with third degree-burns.

"My jacket!"

Cage stood from the table as if his outfit was water-repellent and the liquid would drip off of him at gravity's command, but all his height did was expose his chest, allowing Clarke and the rest of the table to see exactly what kind of damage she'd done. His button-up was a brown Jackson Pollock, and the lapels of his coat were definitely going to be stained.

"This was a $300 suit!" Cage hissed like the snake he was, and Clarke couldn't tell if he was seething in anger or if the coffee really was burning him. He seemed more concerned about the clothes covering his body than the skin beneath them, though, and with that many layers on, he had probably been burned even less than Clarke.

Cage was by no means quiet, and a few heads were starting to turn from nearby tables. Cage immediately sat back down, either because he didn't want to make a scene in the middle of the restaurant or because he was just too embarrassed to let people see his outfit ruined.

"I'm so sorry!" Clarke quickly feigned apology, scrambling into her seat and letting the near empty coffee mug fall over and drip onto the table like a faucet not quite turned off. "God, I'm such a klutz!"

She quickly ducked her head in shame, twisting her neck slightly to gauge Lexa's reaction. She had her hand clasped over her mouth in what Clarke first thought was shock, but then she noticed the subtle hiccups of Lexa's chest, heared the delicate, muffled scratch of her throat, and realized that Lexa was laughing behind that hand, or at least trying her hardest not to.

One boss impressed, two bosses very much not impressed. It was a bad track record over all, but Clarke didn't care. Lexa's opinion was the only one that mattered to her.

"Let me go get you some napkins," Clarke offered, sprinting to the buffet table to retrieve a towel Cage could wipe himself off with and one for her so she could do the same.

Cage snatched the cloth from her like the fabric was a gun Clarke was holding to his head.

"It's alright, Clarke," Dante assured as Cage dabbed himself dry. The dark brown smudge remained stubborn, and Dante looked at Cage as often as Clarke as he spoke. "Stains come out. And if they don't, there are other suits in the closet. Not to mention, new ones can always be bought."

Cage huffed, but shut his mouth. At least his father was one person he wouldn't talk back to.

Brunch was a bit quieter after that. Like a lot quieter. If this was her and Octavia's cubicle, Clarke would be talking up a storm just to give her something to do, do something to make the situation less awkward. She didn't dare speak up here, though. Tensions were too much on edge, especially on Cage’s side of the table.

When they all finished their meals, Clarke leaving a small portion of nibbled on chocolate muffin crumbled around the face of her plate, Dante was the one to excuse them all from the table and the outing.

"Well, this has been a fun little brunch, but I'm afraid we'll have to be going soon. Duty calls, and I believe Cage has to change his outfit."

When Dante raised an eyebrow at Clarke, he did so like he was letting her in on an inside joke. When Cage looked at her, he did it like she was going to have a lot more injuries than a scar on her lip or a burn on her chest when he was done with her. If that was a threat, it was only another tool for Clarke to stash in her arsenal and use against him later.

"Sorry about that again," she apologized, fingers crossed over her thigh beneath the table.

"Don't worry about it," Dante comforted. "It was nice meeting you, Clarke." He stood and all three of them followed his lead. He shook Clarke's hand first, then Lexa's. "It was good seeing you again, too. I look forward to our meeting on Monday."

Lexa smiled. "It was a pleasure as always, Mr. Wallace."

/

"That was amazing,” Lexa gushed. “You don't know how long I've wanted to do something like pour hot coffee on Cage."

She was right. Clarke didn't know. She hardly knew anything about Lexa. Something told her Lexa hadn't gone from filing papers to meeting with the bosses in two weeks time like Clarke had. She'd mentioned before that she'd worked hard to earn her position and that Dante had known her from the start, but that didn't tell Clarke anything about when she'd met Cage or when she'd really been given a position of authority in the company. Maybe she'd learn more about Lexa the longer this trip went on.

For now Clarke was just glad they were bonding over spilled coffee.

"Speaking of pouring hot coffee on people, I got some on me, too." She looked down at the small stain across the front of her chest. It wasn't wide, but it was deep, soaked through her clothes and left the skin beneath it sticky. She pulled the fabric away from her body as if that would help. "I can afford to change my shirt, but I don't think I packed enough bras for this. Any more spillage and my nipples are going to be visible even when I'm not wearing a soaked white blouse. Thank god this was coffee and not water."

Clarke might have caught the briefest hint of a blush on Lexa's face, but she turned away towards the suitcase on her bed before Clarke could really get a good look.

"You can borrow one of mine if you need to."

Lexa was already rifling through her suitcase and Clarke wanted to stop her before she wasted her time, knowing that was one of Lexa’s biggest pet peeves. "Thanks, but, no offense, I don't think your bras would fit me. My boobs are a little bigger than yours." A little bigger was an understatement, but Clarke didn't have to brag about it. She didn't need to make the girl feel bad about herself.

"I know."

Clarke raised an eyebrow at that. "You know? Have you been looking?"

Clarke's comment was a joke, mostly, but Lexa was still embarrassed. She covered her tracks quickly. "I just happened to notice. All eyes were on your chest after you spilled coffee on it after all."

Fair point. Clarke dropped it.

Lexa didn't stop rummaging through her suitcase, though. Clarke was starting to wonder if it was an unconscious action at this point, an excuse to keep her occupied and not looking Clarke in the eye. A few seconds later, however, Lexa held up a bra in front of her face that was definitely closer to Clarke’s size than her own.

Clarke took it tentatively, never feeling this hesitant about touching another woman's underwear before.

"Why did you buy this if it isn't your size?" she questioned.

"It's not mine."

Lexa offered nothing else, and that single sentence did little to clear Clarke's confusion. "You packed another woman's bra?"

"It's Anya's," Lexa said, like that cleared up everything.

"Ok, but why do you have her bra?"

"I packed weeks ago before plans changed and we found out you were going on the trip instead of her. I forgot to unpack her stuff from my suitcase."

Of course Lexa had packed literally weeks in advance. But why had she packed Anya's stuff?

Clarke tried exhaustively to make sense of this.

"So you're telling me that weeks ago, Anya made a point of giving you the stuff she was going to take on the trip so that you could put it in your suitcase?" Surely the company wasn't that stingy. They could have each brought their own separate luggage like Lexa and Clarke had. "And then after she decided not to go,” she continued. “She completely spaced that she left her stuff with you and didn't ask for it back? You don't think she noticed that her toothbrush was missing or does she just not brush her teeth?"

"That's not what happened."

When Clarke had nothing to offer but a confused look, Lexa continued.

"She didn't give her stuff to me. It's stuff of hers that I already had."

Already had? Why did Lexa have Anya's toothbrush? Anya's bra?

Oh.

Oh.

"You guys are a couple?" Clarke asked.

Lexa was stern in her answer, channeling the bitch she'd been on their flight this morning. "No."

Clarke realized that with how guarded Lexa was, her love life was probably off the discussion table, especially when she was conversing with a practical stranger, but Clarke wasn't one to abandon a juicy story when she was hot on its trail. "But you're sleeping with her, right?"

Lexa was silent.

"Wow. The president of Weather Corp. is dating her vice president. How scandalous."

"We're not dating," Lexa reiterated.

"Ok. 'President of Weather Corp. Banging Vice President.' That's a less incriminating headline. I'm sure Dante would be happy to read that when he sat down with the Sunday paper and a bowl of Wheaties."

Clarke's sarcasm wasn't winning her as many brownie points as pouring coffee on Cage had, and Lexa looked like she was about to rip her a new one. Clarke held her hands up in defense.

"Relax. I'm not going to say anything. I'm not one to judge, and, besides, I gave you a dildo for Christmas, remember?"

Lexa smirked momentarily like she had the upper hand, but expressed gratitude for Clarke’s promise of confidentiality anyway. “Thank you.”

She ran a hand through the thickness of her hair, an action that started out as a calming motion, but ended with Lexa retracting her fingers with a frown. “I need to shower. I'll try not to use all of those little bottles of shampoo, but I kind of have a lot of hair so no promises. I'll make sure to ask the maid for more when she comes around later."

"Oh, don't bother,” Clarke assured her. “Speaking of Christmas..." Clarke raced to her own suitcase, digging around in the front pouch until she found her toiletry bag and the bath kit inside it that she had bought for Lexa. She handed her the bundle of soaps. They weren’t wrapped like she wanted them to be, but it would have to do. “This was your real present. Sorry I didn’t have it ready in time.”

Lexa turned the package over in her hands, observing it like conditioner was a novel concept. She looked back up to Clarke with a quirk in her brow. “Did you regift this?”

Jesus. Clarke knew her own Secret Santa had had the same idea as her and given her the exact set of soaps, but how many other women had Lexa seen opening this very bath kit in the break room at the Christmas party? Did Bath and Body Works only make this one product now? Did women ever get any gifts other than soap?

"No," Clarke said honestly. "But apparently it was a popular gift choice. My Secret Santa got me the same thing. I guess I know better than to buy the very first thing Bath and Body Works advertises on their website from now on. The dildo was a bit more creative."

“Well, the shampoo is a bit more useful,” Lexa countered. “So. Thank you.”

“No problem.”

Watching Lexa gather a change of clothes and grab a clean towel from the closet made Clarke realize how much she needed a shower, too. She'd bathed this morning before she left for the airport, but travelling for so long and spilling coffee all over herself at lunch had rendered her sticky and gross.

Lexa noticed her pulling at her shirt again and apparently was capable of being sympathetic.

"Do you want to get in the shower first? I guess you need it more than I do."

Clarke was very eager to jump on that opportunity, but before she could open her mouth to tell Lexa thanks, her phone buzzed in her pocket. She was glad she'd put it in her pants instead of her bra before she left the hotel that afternoon, otherwise it may not have survived the coffee disaster. She pulled it out to look at it before giving Lexa an answer. There was one new text message in her notifications.

"U ded?"

Clarke had completely forgotten she was supposed to call Octavia when she landed. Between sleeping and brunch, she just hadn't had the time. She'd do it now.

"No, you go ahead and shower first," Clarke told Lexa. "I'll get in after you and then we can go somewhere. Celebrate."

Lexa nodded, more eager to shower than to lecture Clarke on how they hadn't really accomplished anything yet, still had to work their asses off for the rest of the week to make sure Dante didn't sign over the company to his son. Clarke had poured coffee all over Cage, though, and that was good enough for now. Sometimes even the little victories deserved celebration.

Clarke just hoped Lexa could handle her idea of a good time.

Chapter Text

“Hey, O.”

“Oh, wow, you finally called. It’s only like 2:30. What time did we agree on again? 10:00? I didn’t know I meant p.m. when I said that.”

Octavia didn't sound honestly annoyed, but Clarke apologized anyway. "I know. I’m sorry, O. I just got sidetracked. Lexa and I had to go to this stupid brunch thing, and we just got back. She was so right, O. This current owner is a great guy, but his son is a total jerk off.”

“High school Clarke was quite fond of jerking off, if I remember correctly,” Octavia chastised.

“If only college Octavia was fond of fucking off,” Clarke counter.

“Oh don’t worry. College Octavia did plenty of fucking last night,” she bragged. “I’m still at Raven’s apartment. She’s in the shower.”

Clarke glanced to her own bathroom, where, judging by the sound of running water, Lexa was still in the shower, too.

Good. She didn’t need Lexa overhearing that two of her employees were hooking up. Coworker relationships were strictly against company policy - not that Lexa followed that particular rule herself, apparently. Because of her relationship with Anya, Lexa had no leverage to report anything even if she did find out about Raven and Octavia. But Clarke would rather be safe than sorry.

She walked as far away from the bathroom door as she could, settling on the mattress of her own bed and pulling back the curtains so she could watch the sunlight leak in and wash over the leg of her pants.

"Congrats, O!" she exclaimed. "How is she in bed?"

Octavia's voice was low, sultry, like she and Raven had just finished an encore of what had no doubt happened the night before. "Let's just say her hands are good for more than fixing electronics."

"Have I told you how jealous I am?" Clarke thumped the back of her skull against the headboard as she reclined, as if the pain would distract her from her sexual frustration. "At this point I can't even remember the last time I got laid."

"Do you want me to ask Raven about the threesome thing? She seems like the monogamous type, but if we pitch it well enough she might go for it. She's seen how hot you are, after all."

"Thanks, but no thanks. While that sounds far from unappealing, I don't want to get between you two already. You've only been on one date, and you know how bad both of our experiences with third parties coming in and ruining our relationships have been."

"True," Octavia agreed. "Though planned threesomes are a lot different than finding out your boyfriend is cheating on you with another woman behind your back. But you're probably right. I want to hoard Raven for myself anyway."

"You two are a good match."

Clarke meant it. Lincoln and Octavia had chemistry, but not like Raven and Octavia did. Clarke could see this lasting, and it was definitely a plus that Raven seemed like the type not to cheat.

If she did, though, Clarke was going after her. Maybe she couldn't beat down a six foot body builder who owned his own gym, but she'd be damned if she didn't at least try to take on a woman her own size, even if Raven probably could put her in the hospital with only a couple of swings.

Whatever. Clarke had good health insurance.

"You need to find your Raven, Clarke."

"I dont know about that," Clarke grumbled, though part of her was ready to agree with Octavia. "I still don't think I'm ready for another real relationship. I don't need a Raven, I just need a Finn Replacement. Then I'll be able to move on."

"Then go find your Finn Replacement, girl. New York is your oyster. No one you meet there can get clingy if you're leaving in less than a week."

She and Octavia were on the same wavelength, but, then again, when weren't they?

"Trust me, I am very aware, and I vow to take advantage of that. I just have to be a little more careful than usual. I share a room with Lexa, so I don't think she'd appreciate the free show if I brought someone home and banged them all night while she was trying to sleep ten feet away from us. And I'm not going to go home with someone who knows I'm a tourist and will have weeks to flee the country before the police finally ID my body buried in a dumpster in an alley somewhere."

"You're smart. You'll figure something out."

"Yeah."

Clarke had been so caught up in her conversation with Octavia that she hadn't heard the shower shut off. When she listened closely now, the room was silent apart from the hum of the heater and the occasional honk from the parking lot below. Lexa was going to burst through the bathroom door any minute.

"I've got to go," Clarke said. "I'll text you later. Tell you how my night on the town goes."

"Try not to drunk text me,” Octavia warned. “It used to be cute, but it just gets sad after a while."

"I don't plan on getting too drunk. Can't really consent to sex or run away from a serial killer if I'm wasted, can I?"

"See? I told you you were smart."

"Thanks, O. Bye."

"Bye."

Clarke hung up and plugged her phone into the nearest outlet. If she was going to be out all night, she needed a way to call 911 or fake drunk text Octavia while she was still sober just for kicks if things weren’t going well at the bar. She left it against her bedside table for safe-keeping before gathering her clothes. She should probably wait a bit to shower if she wanted the water to be hot, but she was getting stickier by the minute and she didn't appreciate smelling like coffee when it was from a cheap brunch buffet and not Starbucks. She wanted that bathroom as soon as Lexa surrendered it.

Lexa wasn't quick to exit the bathroom, but when she did she did so smelling soft and sweet, like fresh ocean breeze or dew drops dripping from a tropical palm leaf in the middle of a rainforest. That bath kit, however unoriginal a gift it may have been, had been a good call.

Clarke couldn't tell if she really liked the way Lexa smelled or if she just couldn't wait to smell that way herself.

Something quickly distracted Clarke from the sudden freshness of the room, though. As she watched Lexa pat the frizz of her hair dry with a crisp white towel, Clarke noticed that Lexa had changed her clothes. She was wearing flannel. And jeans.

Jeans that made her ass look really good.

Clarke hadn't looked intentionally, but the two of them were crammed into the hallway between rooms together. They had practically bumped into each other on Lexa's way out of the restroom. It was kind of hard not to notice in such close proximity.

"Took you long enough," Clarke scolded playfully, bringing her eyes back up to meet Lexa’s.

Lexa looked slightly embarrassed, like she didn't quite realize Clarke hadn't meant it as an insult. "Sorry. It's all this hair. Takes a while to wash."

Lexa's hair was definitely long. Not “I grew up in a religious cult” long, but it was longer than Clarke's blonde locks which were creeping down past her shoulders at this point. Clarke might grow her own as long as Lexa's someday. It looked good on her.

"You're fine," she said, hoping not too much time had passed while she was unintentionally staring at Lexa. "Where do you want to go once we get ready?"

Lexa was pensive, like deciding which vacation activity to do on day one was a serious decision with major potential consequences. "I don't know. I've never been to New York. I want to see everything."

"Well take your pick. We've got a week."

Lexa gnawed on her bottom lip. "I've always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty."

Of course.

"When I said we could go out, I kind of meant 'go out.' Like, see the night life."

"It's three in the afternoon."

"Yeah, but by the time we both get ready it'll be later."

"How long do you take in the shower?" Lexa asked, skeptical like Clarke would be in the restroom so long they wouldn't make it out of the hotel until three a.m.

"Not as long as you," Clarke snapped. Lexa was thankful.

"Then it won't be that late. We could see the Statue of Liberty. Or the Empire State Building. Or something."

Clarke cringed. "What are we, twelve?"

Clarke had already been here so many times that she'd seen it all by the time she was about twelve. As soon as she hit her teenage years, she was tired of all the exhaustive sightseeing first time tourists seemed to put themselves through. It had been so long since Clarke was one of them that she couldn't sympathize with Lexa on the matter. "Can't we just go out like adults?"

Lexa gnawed on her bottom lip again, this time more anxiously. "I'm here on business, Clarke. I don't feel comfortable inebriating myself while practically on the clock."

"But you're not on the clock," Clarke reminded her. "And if you really thought you were here strictly on business, you wouldn't feel comfortable sightseeing either. What's the difference between having a couple beers at the bar or having a cup of hot chocolate in Central Park?"

"One you have to be twenty-one to do," Lexa quipped.

"And what do you know?" Clarke snapped. "You're over twenty-one."

Lexa sighed, and Clarke could tell that, once again, sassing her way through an argument wasn't the most reliable way to persuade her boss.

"Come on, Lexa. Tonight's the night to go out if you're going to do it. It's Saturday. We don't have a meeting ‘til Monday. You can have a hangover all day tomorrow and no one will know. There won't be any consequences. We're leaving on Friday, and you'll never get a chance to experience New York's weekend nightlife if you don't do it now. I thought you wanted to try everything New York has to offer?"

Clarke crossed her arms, waiting for an answer and hoping Lexa took her accusation as a challenge. Something told Clarke Lexa couldn't back down when her own hypocrisy was thrust in front of her.

"Fine," Lexa agreed, though she wasn't quite happy about it. "But on one condition. If I go out with you and drink tonight, you have to show me around Central Park beforehand. And buy me that hot chocolate."

Lexa drove a hard bargain. Clarke might not be able to sympathize, but she could compromise. A couple mugs of hot chocolate wouldn't kill her. The snow might, though.

"Deal," she agreed, and held out her hand for Lexa to shake. Business types like Lexa always took handshakes seriously. This way Clarke knew Lexa wouldn't ditch her to run back to their hotel as soon as soon as they finished their cocoa.

Lexa glanced down to Clarke's hand, then back up to her eyes, looking between each of the sapphire gems before slowly reaching forward and slipping her hand carefully into Clarke's.

The warmth of Lexa's palm reminded Clarke of something, shocked her out of whatever she had been thinking about beforehand. Their touch purposefully lingered, probably longer than Lexa wanted it to, as Clarke tried to grip the feeling that was squeezing her back, strangling her.

Then it hit her. It reminded her of Finn, of just holding hands in general.

God, she couldn't even remember the last time she'd had that level of intimate contact with someone. It was like she was in junior high again. It was ridiculous that Lexa of all people was bringing those feelings of nostalgic longing back to her.

She crashed that train of thought like a car with no breaks and focused on what else Lexa's warmth reminded her of.

"It's going to be colder than our fucking office outside," Clarke warned. "You sure you don't want to go somewhere that has heating?"

Lexa shook her head. She had stopped trying to wrestle her hand away from Clarke as soon as Clarke had tightened her grip, but now Clarke slacked and let go of Lexa of her own accord.

"I want to see Central Park. I've heard it's beautiful in winter."

It was beautiful in the summer. Winter, Clarke didn't know about. If the Griffin's went on vacation when it was cold in D.C., they certainly weren't going somewhere else where it was just as cold. This was sort of a first for Clarke, too. It might actually be interesting to go.

She was probably going to hate it. But she'd go.

"Alright," she surrendered, finally passing Lexa and making her way to the bathroom. "Let me get ready."

/

"I can't feel my teeth."

Clarke was bundled from head to toe, clothed in snow boots and mittens and a scarf atop the thickest coat she owned.

The walk in the park had been a walk in the park. Until it started to snow.

"Can you normally feel your teeth?" Lexa asked, subtly running her tongue along the inside of her mouth and wondering if the lack of feeling was due to the cold or if things inside her mouth had always been in that state of numbness and she'd just never noticed.

Clarke was the one in med school, she was supposed to know this stuff.

"I don't know, but I can hear them chattering. Aren't you supposed to be able to feel things that you can hear?"

"Ghosts?" Lexa proposed, more of a suggestion than a question.

"What? Do you even believe in ghosts?"

Lexa shrugged. "I don't know. It's the same as believing in luck or fate, right?"

Clarke believed in Fate. Ghosts, not so much.
"The difference between those two things is that you don't hear luck. People hear ghosts. Or claim to anyway. And for the record, people feel ghosts, too. They always talk about how the room gets all cold and shit when they sense a spirit nearby."

"I think Central Park might be a graveyard, then."

Clarke was too cold to laugh at the joke for long. Her muscles were stiff. It sure did feel nice to have her body shudder because of something that wasn't the temperature for once, though.

"Drink some more cocoa," Lexa instructed. "That'll warm up your teeth."

The cup was too warm. If she drank all of her hot chocolate, the cup would go cool and what would warm her hands, then? Her mittens?

Clarke didn't want to take the risk.

She took a small sip, though, and relished in the way it left a trail of heat blazing from the back of her tongue all the way down to her stomach.

Lexa had wanted to order hot chocolate from a local coffee shop, just to see what one was like, but Clarke was paying and Starbucks was closer. Plus she trusted it more. She could never go wrong with Starbucks.

"I hate you for this, you know?" Clarke told her. "If you didn't want to go to Central Park I'd be warm right now."

"Be lucky you're here at all. I could've had you fired, remember? If you weren't here, you'd just be freezing your ass off in D.C."

"I would be inside," Clarke stressed. "No one is dumb enough to venture outside when it's fucking blizzarding. Look around!"

The command was mostly rhetorical. There was nothing to look at, but that was kind of Clarke's point. There were people here of course - it was Central Fucking Park, of course there were other tourists like Lexa desperate to cram in every site on their vacation - but the crowd on the trails was nothing like it was when Clarke saw it in the summer. Everyone sane was at home and in their hotels.

Lexa didn't seem too pleased to have her intelligence questioned. She glared at Clarke over her cup, but the chocolate mustache she was left with when she pulled the styrofoam away from her face was not very intimidating.

Clarke laughed again. Lexa wiped her upper lip with the back of a black glove.

"It's not blizzarding," Lexa argued. "It just started to flurry. And it's not dumb to be here. It's pretty."

"Is it? I can't see anything under all the snow."

"The snow is pretty," Lexa countered.

"We could watch the snow from the hotel."

"It's not the same."

"You're right, it's better."

Lexa shot Clarke a frustrated look.

"It's like going to the movies," Clarke explained. "It might be totally awesome to go watch a movie about Transformers, but you don't actually want giant robots coming down, attacking the city, and killing all of us, do you?"

Lexa took another long sip, like her throat was dry.

"Snow won't immediately kill you," she argued softly.

"It might." Clarke was unconvinced. If they were out here much longer, she wasn't going to make it.

When all hope seemed lost for shelter or warmth, the snow parted in front of Clarke's line of sight like the Red Sea in front of Moses, and once she realized where they were in the park, she saw that they were only a few feet away from a gazebo. Probably the oldest, frailest wooden gazebo Clarke had ever seen in her life, but even though it looked more rickety than their hotel elevator, it also looked as good as the presidential suite from out in the middle of their nightmarish winter wonderland.

"Please tell me we can go sit down," she begged. "At least until the snow passes."

Clarke didn't hear an immediate reply from Lexa, but she didn't hear a protest either, so she picked up her speed, boots crunching through the solid snow to claim their spots on the gazebo before someone else could take them.

Not that anyone else was around.

Clarke had moved several feet before she realized that Lexa hadn't quickened her pace to remain beside her. They were close enough to the gazebo, though, that Lexa wasn't going to get lost behind her, so Clarke kept marching. She wouldn't stop until -

Something hit her in the back.

At first she thought it was a dead bird that hadn't managed to fly south for the winter in time, and being pelted with fowl carcasses almost sounded better than being bombed by camouflaged bird shit the same color as the snow, but then Clarke remembered that Lexa had left the History Channel on in the hotel room while she was in the shower when it had been playing some special about the Abominable Snowman and Clarke was convinced a yeti was coming after her.

If it was a yeti attacking her, though, it had a really pretty voice.

"See? Snow doesn't kill you."

When Clarke turned around, all she saw behind her was Lexa and a crumbled sphere of snow, broken into powdery fragments on the ground behind her and smeared on the back of her jacket like a blood stain surrounding a bullet wound.

Lexa had hit her with a snowball.

She was actually twelve.

Clarke almost wanted to play along, to feign melting like the Wicked Witch of the West, but that would require collapsing into the snow and she was pretty sure that might actually kill her.

"Stop messing around!" Clarke called behind her. "This is a business trip, remember?"

Lexa smirked the whole way to the gazebo, clearly proud of herself, and Clarke couldn't tell if the confidence came from proving her point or pissing Clarke off.

Probably both.

The gazebo was basically the equivalent of the straw house in the story of The Three Little Pigs, but it was better than nothing, even if the Big Bad Wolf was blowing his sheer winter breeze directly at them through the slits between the logs of wood. The structure did little to break the wind and the wooden seats inside of it were practically frozen solid, but Clarke had checked her ass in the mirror before they left and she knew her backside was hot enough to warm them, and at least the gazebo blocked out enough snow that she could see more than a couple of feet in front of her.

She had a much better view of Lexa now, who slumped in the seat beside her, close enough that Clarke could feel some of her body heat even through their layers of clothing. Thankfully she had no more snowballs in hand, just her drink which she sipped from heartily. The way it seemed weightless in Lexa’s palm told Clarke the chocolatey liquid was almost gone.

“What are we supposed to do in here while the snow passes?” Lexa asked. “Exchange rings? Say our vows? We don’t even know how long it’s supposed to be snowing for.”

“What happened to ‘it’s just a flurry?’” Clarke questioned. “It should pass soon. Besides, there’s all kinds of stuff we can do?”

“Like what?” Lexa challenged.

“Like talk,” Clarke answered.

Lexa scrunched her nose, like the thought of conversing with Clarke like she had already been doing since six o’clock this morning was something she hadn’t even considered. “Talk about what?”

“I don’t know,” Clarke shrugged. “Anything. Like... you and Anya. How did that happen?"

Lexa cringed again, pulling away from a sip of cocoa like the chocolate left a bitter taste in her mouth. "Must you ask me about my personal life? Why can't we talk about work, or New York, or literally anything else?"

"Because that stuff's boring. Everyone loves hot gossip about office hookups."

Lexa rolled her eyes. "How would you feel if I pestered you about stuff like that? Tell me, how's your love life going?"

"I dumped my ex-boyfriend a couple months ago and now I'm painfully single," Clarke revealed, effortlessly shrugging even around the bulky down shoulder pads of her jacket. "See? Not that hard to say, is it?"

"Tell me more about the boyfriend," Lexa pried. She was trying to annoy Clarke, but she was working herself up more than anyone. Clarke was an open biology textbook the day before finals.

"We were together for a few months, he cheated on me, and now I kind of want to kill him."

"Can you stop making comments about dying?"

Clarke hadn't even realized she was doing it. Had she made that many death references around Lexa? There was now, this morning when she'd mentioned falling to her death in the elevator, and back before Christmas when she asked if Lexa wanted to kill Cage. And five minutes ago when she said the snow would kill her. Maybe it was a handful of times, but why did Lexa care? Clarke made jokes about being murdered by her boss and dying in a plane crash to Octavia all the time and she never cared.

Lexa was way too snippy for everything to be okay, and Clarke wanted to know what was bothering her.

At least she found something they could talk about.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to be morbid. I wasn't being serious, really. I'm not going to kill him. I just still get mad at him sometimes."

“That doesn’t change the fact that you still said it the way you did.”

Wow, okay. This was definitely a sore spot. And here Clarke thought they were making progress, playful snowball fights and all.

“Sorry,” Clarke gushed. “I didn’t mean to offend you. If you don’t mind me asking, why are you so worked up about this?”

Lexa balled her fist around her cup. Clarke was afraid the styrofoam might crack. “You don’t know what it’s like to lose someone and then have people mocking death like it’s some big joke, like it’s funny and doesn’t completely destroy the people the dead leave behind.”

Clarke almost laughed. Almost. But she had more self-control than that and enough anger to prevent her from making any sound that could be misinterpreted as glee.

She didn’t know about death? The girl with the dead father didn’t understand what it was like to lose someone? Now Lexa was assuming way too much.

"You're not the only person in the world who's seen someone die. I'm a med student. My mom's a doctor. I practically grew up in a hospital, and let me tell you a lot of people die every day. Don't assume I don't know what death is like."

"I don't mean hearing about the death if a stranger," Lexa defended. "I'm not talking about reading the obituaries and feeling sad for 93 year old Phyllis Roberts who had four kids, five cats, and volunteered her spare time at the mission. I'm talking about someone you actually knew, someone you spent every single day with, who was so much a part of your life that sometimes you wake up in the morning and don't know how you're living without them - feel guilty that you're living without them. Maybe you've watched strangers die at the hospital, but this is different. You don't know what that's like."

"My dad died in a car accident when I was sixteen."

She said it. She tried not to, never willingly revisited the memory and put it out there for her or anyone else to relive, but she said it for Lexa. If Lexa was going to think Clarke didn't know what loss was, Clarke was going to set her straight, even if it meant ripping out her heart and pouring its contents in front of her bitchy insensitive boss - of all the people she could be vulnerable in front of.

A lot of the anger left her as soon as the words did, like the secret had been building up alongside the rage, like the two had been morphing into one feeling the longer they were connected. Clarke didn't say the words out of spite or to win whatever argument they were having. She had wanted to at first, but once they came out, she was just glad she didn't have to keep it bottled up anymore, glad Lexa couldn’t talk to her like she was special, like she was the only one who had suffered.

Lexa sensed the shift in tone even though she was lost in the anger of her own rampage. She'd been wrong about Clarke, and now she didn't know what to say. She was quiet, too upset to drink her hot chocolate which was colder than the name suggested it was supposed to be at this point. She couldn’t break the silence.

“Who did you lose?”

Clarke was picking at her mittens, trying to warm the chilling cup in her hands so that her drink could bring some heat back into her body. She felt cold. And not because it was snowing outside.

Lexa responded very softly, like her voice was lighter than the falling snow and more brittle than the gazebo they were sitting in.

"My ex girlfriend."

Ouch. If there was one thing almost as bad as losing a parent, it was losing a lover. Clarke couldn't imagine what it would have been like if Finn had died on her, too. They hadn’t dated until long after her dad died, and Finn didn’t even mean enough to her that she’d ever told him exactly what had happened to her father, but he had still mattered to her on some level, and she didn’t want to think about hurting because of him even more than she was now.

"What happened to her?"

Lexa inhaled a sharp breath, but there was no puffy exhale for Clarke to watch blossom into the air in front of her. Lexa held the air in her lungs like she wanted it to freeze them until they shattered like glass.

There Clarke went thinking about death again.

At least she hadn't said it aloud this time.

Lexa's lips were pale when she spoke, and Clarke couldn't remember them being so sallow when they first set out on their walk. "Her name was Costia. She died in a house fire."

"Were you in the house with her?"

"No. But I should have been. We didn't live together, but we always spent the night at each other's places, going back and forth every couple of days. We were going to move in together. We were going to get married. And the night we were both supposed to die in a fire, I stayed at work late. She died alone."

Holy shit. To think that Lexa could be dead right now, would be dead right now if she hadn’t stayed late to work at the same shitty job Clarke couldn’t wait to leave every single day, was more than unsettling for Clarke. She wasn’t sure if she could drink anymore of her cocoa with the way her stomach was twisting inside her torso. She had flashbacks to brunch but this time the nauseous feeling was worse.

“I’m sorry,” Clarke said, because what else was there for her to say? She wasn’t going to ask for any more than that, didn’t want to hurt Lexa by making her relive the details of the day the love of her life died. “How long has it been since she..?”

“A couple of years,” Lexa spoke vaguely. Clarke recognized the way Lexa said it, like she was pretending she didn’t know the exact date, couldn’t figure out the exact number of days it had been since they’d last been together after a mere moment of calculation.

Clarke was the same way with her father.

"Does Anya know about Costia?"

Lexa nodded.

"You are close to her, then. That's not something you tell to some girl you're just fucking."

"It is, though, because I'm just fucking her,” Lexa insisted.

Clarke knotted her brow. "Why is it so important for you to stress that? You make a big deal out of it every time I even imply that you might like Anya for more than her body."

Lexa was silent.

Clarke figured it out on her own.

She had some experience with death.

"You're afraid that if you date her it means you'll be replacing Costia."

"Anya could never replace Costia."

"Exactly," Clarke said. "Just like I can't replace Anya. And Cage can't replace Dante. You don't like change, do you?"

"Not when the original is better than its successor."

"You're not even giving Anya a chance," Clarke scolded. "You're right about Cage, and I'm not trying to become the vice president or anything, but maybe Anya will be good for you. She doesn't have to replace Costia. She's her own person. This is just a new era in your life."

"What do you know?" Lexa spat. "You haven't even moved on from your ex boyfriend. You still let him get to you, and all you're willing to do to get over him is flirt with random flight attendants. I don't think Harper is a 'new era' in your life.”

"Finn hasn't been out of my life as long as Costia has been out of yours,” Clarke accused. “And for the record, I am trying to move on. Besides, I'm not speaking from my experience with Finn. I'm talking about my dad. He's dead and yet my mom has moved on. She's found another man she's probably going to marry someday, and he's a great guy. He'll be a good husband, a good stepdad. Just because she's found someone who's made her happy again doesn't mean she's forgotten about my dad. Nobody can replace my father, but Kane is good for my mother now that he isn't here."

Lexa took another sip of her cup, but Clarke was sure it was empty by now. She was doing it for show, to stall for time.

When she spoke, she wouldn't meet Clarke in the eye. "Kane?" she questioned irrelevantly. "Any relation to the senator?"

"He is the senator."

"God, you really do have money, don't you?" Then, after a pause. "I voted for him. I like his policies. He takes action on time. He's immediate."

Clarke scoffed at the irony. "Kane's the only reason you got your Christmas present late. He opened my package and had it in his bathroom for God knows how long."

"You should have told me that before you gave it to me," Lexa said, tapping her nails against the rim of her cup. "I would have sold it on eBay and paid my rent for the month. Any chance he had the dildo in his bathroom, too? I can probably get a lot more for a senator's sex toy than I can for his shampoo."

Clarke laughed. "No, unfortunately my mom was the one who got to that gift before I did, remember?"

Lexa nodded. "How much do you think I'll get for a senator's step-daughter's dildo?"

"3-5 years in jail for ruining a senator's career and pissing him off to the point that he digs up anything in your background he can use against you."

"I did have a speeding ticket once," Lexa divulged. "I paid it, though."

"That's hardly something severe enough he could blackmail you for. Nice job getting me off track and avoiding the subject of your dead girlfriend, though."

Lexa looked down to her lap like she'd been caught for yet another crime, this time one worst than a little road rage.

"I hate talking about it."

Clarke nodded. "I hate talking about my dad, too. I don't usually tell people."

"You told me," Lexa pointed out.

Clarke shrugged. "You told me about Costia."

"How did he die?"

Clarke usually didn’t tell this story. It might do Lexa some good to hear it, though. She sighed hard before speaking, her breath clouding her vision. "Car crash. The other guy died too, so I could never really be mad about it like you could. It didn't feel right. Another family was going through the same thing we were. I felt bad for them. He had two kids and they were both younger than me. Like, a lot younger. One of them was four, maybe. The sister was a bit older, but I don’t think that boy is ever going to remember his father. At least I got to know mine first, you know? We felt so bad that we went to their funeral. Their family came to ours, too."

Lexa seemed to think about that for a moment, probably trying to judge which of them had been through worse. Clarke just thought they both had it bad. It didn't feel right to compare her suffering to Lexa's.

"Do you really wish you had died in that fire?" Clarke asked. "Is losing two lives really better than losing one?"

"No," Lexa shook her head after a moment. "I just wish she hadn't died either."

That made sense to Clarke. She got it. And again, the reality hit her about how close she was to never being able to have this conversation with Lexa. Death had almost taken her, too, just like it had taken Costia and Jake.

"I'm glad you lived, Lexa."

If Clarke didn't know better, she might have thought Lexa's eyes were watering. Maybe it was just the cold, though. Maybe Clarke's eyes couldn't see right through their own moisture.

"What's it matter to you if I died or not?" Lexa asked, trying to keep up her defensive, though Clarke could tell by the way she was shaking just slightly that she didn’t have enough in her to keep up that tough exterior forever.

She thought about it for a moment. If Lexa had died, Clarke would have never met her. Nothing in her life would have changed.

That hadn't happened, though. She knew Lexa now, and even if they weren't friends or anything close to it, Clarke didn't wish death upon anyone. She meant it when she said she was glad Lexa lived.

"Cage probably would have taken over already if you hadn't been there to stop him,” Clarke started, coming up with anything she could. “Octavia probably would have lost her job and then I never would have gotten one."

All of that was true, but Clarke was poking fun at, explaining Lexa's purpose in life as if all she was was a job Clarke didn't even need to begin with. Lexa laughed, though. Clarke was glad her humor had translated through the moment.

"Thanks, Clarke. Really. It's nice to hear." Lexa sniffled a little bit, but tried to blame the runny nose on the cold instead of the tears that still hadn't fallen from her eyes. In her defense, it was probably both. Clarke gave her the benefit of the doubt and didn't mention it. "I'm sorry about your dad."

"Wasn't your fault. But thanks."

Lexa took took a deep sigh, slumped back in the wooden seat like she was exhausted. She looked down at the mug in her hand with a frown. "I need a drink."

Clarke offered her own drink, still nearly half-full but not nearly as warm as it had been before they sat down. She didn't care if she drank it all now. She wasn’t thirsty anymore. Sharing her food with Lexa didn't sound so bad either. If they could swap life stories, they could swap a little spit, too.

“I mean your kind of drink,” Lexa declined. “I’m actually looking forward to going out tonight now.”

Clarke smiled as wickedly as she could muster while practically on the verge of tears. She stood up, grabbing Lexa’s hand along the way and pulling her up like their mittens were connected by the red string of fate holding Clarke’s own gloves together.

Lexa followed her with an embraced sense of uncertainty, Clarke’s giddiness shocking her more than the tundra outside the gazebo.

It had stopped snowing, finally, and they hadn’t even noticed.

Clarke smiled into the clear air.

“Let’s go, then.”

Chapter Text

"Alright. So we could go to a lesbian bar, or -"

"Yeah."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. Where else would I want to go?"

"I don't know," Clarke defended. "I wasn't sure if you were gay. I mean you never mentioned any men, but you could still be bi or pan or something."

"I'm a lesbian," Lexa clarified. "I'd prefer to go to a lesbian bar if that's fine with you."

"That's totally fine with me," Clarke told her, leaning against the wall of the hotel room. They came back after their walk to warm up and make dinner plans. Lexa busied herself hanging their coats to dry on the rack. The melted snow was really doing a number on them. Clarke watched her, bored. "I can do chicks."

"Do you plan on doing any chicks tonight?" Lexa asked, shaking the water off her gloves.

"Depends how cool you are with me bringing one or two back to the hotel room."

"I'd prefer if you didn't," Lexa understated.

"Come on." Clarke elbowed Lexa in the side, wiggling her eyebrows. "You can watch."

"I'm not going to be the pathetic fourth wheel watching you have a threesome in our hotel room."

"Then bring someone back for yourself. If you and Anya aren't dating, that means you can sleep with whoever you want, right? If you don't care about her, let loose, have a little fun. Ever heard of, 'What happens in New York stays in New York?'"

Lexa pursed her lips, frowning slightly at Clarke's challenge. "Maybe I will."

"Ok then," Clarke said. "It’s a deal. If we can both find dates that are cool with some weird tourist hotel room orgy, we'll bring them back here. But if we don't both find dates, I'll be considerate and leave mine at the bar so I don't keep you up all night."

"You're assuming I'm the one who won't find a date?"

Clarke shrugged. "I'm just saying I'm hot and have a good track record of getting hit on every time I go out."

"Maybe by men," Lexa scoffed. "Men are easy."

"So what?" Clarke questioned. "You're just jealous. And bi-phobic."

"I don’t care if you sleep with men," Lexa defended. "It doesn't matter anyway. I don't think there will be a lot of guys to worry about at the dyke bar."

"Yep," Clarke agreed, suddenly excited by the prospect of doing something entertaining with her night. "It's an even playing field. We'll both only have girls to hit on us, and I bet I'll still get more looks from across the bar than you."

"Looks from across the bar don't matter," Lexa argued. "People can look at you because you have food in your teeth. Or an obvious alcohol problem. Phone numbers matter."

"Yeah if you're trying to take them out to dinner next weekend," Clarke countered. "I don't know about you, but when I pick someone up at a bar, I barely even remember their name. I'm not rummaging through their stuff looking for a phone number or an address I can contact them with later. Just a credit card so I can steal their identity."

Lexa's eyes widened.

"That's a joke," Clarke clarified, pointing two thumbs at herself. "Rich, remember? I have no reason to steal money."

Lexa looked skeptical. "Tell that to every old white man in any position of power."

"Like Dante?" Clarke asked.

"Except Dante. If he stole money, we'd actually have some. Cage, on the other hand, probably wouldn't hesitate to thieve his way to the top."

"You'd probably get paid more, then."

"Cage would keep the money for himself. And probably fire me. I don't condone stealing anyway."

"You're not going to steal any hearts tonight?" Clarke questioned, wiggling her eyebrows in a way that was probably not as alluring as she intended.

"It's not hearts I'm after," Lexa confessed. "We're not looking for phone numbers, remember?"

Clarke relaxed the muscles on her face. "You're right. I forgot. I'm not thinking straight because I'm starving. Also because I’m bisexual, but mostly because I haven't really eaten since we got off the plane."

"You should have eaten lunch," Lexa berated.

"I had, like, six breakfasts."

"You had two. And brunch. Ready for brupper?"

Clarke was never eating breakfast food again. Just the thought of it made her gag. "I will throw up all over you. Try picking up chicks when you smell like the inside of my digestive track."

Lexa looked as displeased as Clarke. "I don't want breakfast anyway. Let's get real food."

"Yes!" Clarke drawled. "Should we order room service? Waste some of Cage's stolen money?"

Lexa shook her head. "The hotel is charged to Dante's card. I don't want to do that to him."

"What, he can't afford a $30 plate of spaghetti or two?"

Lexa glared at her. "Let's just eat at the bar."

"Sounds good to me. Wouldn't be the first time I snuck into the bar bathroom to eat a girl out."

Lexa glared at her again.

Clarke exaggerated understanding, smacking herself in the forehead. "Ohhh you meant food! Yeah, I could go for some greasy bar nachos." She winked and Lexa shook her head. The smile she nursed wasn't lost on Clarke, though.

"Let's go, Lady Killer."

/

Clarke didn't realize just how hungry she was until she was half a plate of nachos and a beer in. Beer wasn't usually her drink of choice, especially if she was going out with the intention of not being sober when she came back, but she needed something bitter to wash down the sweet taste of the hot chocolate and no alcohol went with nachos like a nice ale.

Lexa had gone a similar route, but had opted for a burger instead of the nachos and she was already halfway through her second bottle of booze. She'd chugged the first before their food even arrived and Clarke wondered just how drunk she was trying to get tonight. A beer couldn't even get Clarke tipsy, and two didn't seem to do much for Lexa either, especially with all that food fresh in her stomach to cushion the effects of the alcohol, but the night was young and Clarke wanted to stay sober enough to see Lexa cut loose.

Lexa wasn’t going to get drunk on beer, though.

Clarke raised a hand to flag the bartender down. She had never been to this particular gay bar before, but the best thing about it so far was that everyone who worked here was cute and covered in tattoos, mostly in colorful shades of sky blue and seafoam green, and the bartenders were uniformed in sleeveless tanks that showed off their arms. None of the girls here were unattractive, and if her and Lexa's night went well, she would surely remember to come back here next time she was in New York. Even if Sugar Spice and Everything Nice Nation was a stupid name for a bar.

A cute girl with long brown hair and tattoos swirling around her biceps like alien galaxies approached them at Clarke's beckon. She was cute. Nothing too impressive but not bad.

"I'm getting a martini or something," Clarke told Lexa. "You want anything?"

Clarke was hoping she'd say yes, order something with a bit more alcohol in it, but Lexa shook her head. "Just another beer, please."

Clarke was disappointed, but she ordered for the both of them anyway. Maybe Lexa would want something else after seeing Clarke's drink.

The bartender was speedy with their order, probably because it was still fairly early and the bar wasn't too packed yet. That was also the reason Clarke hadn't done much window shopping for a one night stand. There wasn't much of a selection to choose from when there was more staff in the room than patrons.

She was still eating, though. Maybe by the time they finished dinner the bar would fill up along with her stomach.

"We're not going to pick up a lot of chicks this way," Clarke pointed out.

"What way?" Lexa asked, popping the tab on her new beer. Their three empty bottles were stacked in the middle of the counter between them, lined up in a perfect triangle like Lexa was going to knock them over with a greasy, balled up napkin and win Clarke a stuffed animal that wouldn't fit in her luggage on the way home.

"All we've done is eat and talk to each other," Clarke explained, sipping on her drink, taste buds adjusting to the change of flavor. "We can't pick up girls if we don't interact with them. The only woman we've even looked at all night is the bartender."

As if 'Bartender' was her name and this was some kind of cocktail party, the woman behind the counter who'd been serving the two of them all night appeared again, this time friendlier than when they’d first arrived. She laid a tattooed arm against the counter as if she was going to stay for a while.

"You guys need anything else? You want another gin?" she asked Clarke, looking at the almost half-empty glass in her hand.

"No, thanks," Clarke declined. "I'm taking things a little slow."

"I haven't seen you two here before," the woman continued. "Do you come here a lot?"

"No, we're just visiting," Lexa told her. "It's our first time."

"That's cool," the bartender lied. Clarke could only imagine how many tourists she'd had to listen to as they told their stories of just how much they loved The Big Apple. She quickly switched the topic before Lexa could become one of those people. "Are you two a couple?"

Lexa practically choked on her burger. Clarke laughed.

"No, we're business partners," Clarke lied right back. "We flew out here from D.C. to meet with the owners of our company. She's the president, I'm the vice president."

Lexa side-eyed Clarke for telling their story that way again, but she was too busy hacking beef out of her lungs to speak up and correct her.

Immediately the bartender seemed more impressed with the pair, her spine straightening ever so slightly and her eyebrows perking with her mood.

Clarke could get used to this whole 'wooing women with titles she didn't actually have' thing. Maybe she should get into business just for the recognition.

Not that heart surgeons didn't impress girls in their own way. She had too many opportunities to seduce women with lines about fixing their broken hearts.

God, she really was spending too much time with Octavia.

"How long are you in town for?" the bartender asked.

Lexa finally managed to clear her throat, but her face was still red, either from choking or the embarrassment of being mistaken for a couple with Clarke, it didn't really matter. Clarke intercepted her chance to talk again.

"'Bout a week," Clarke told her, swirling the straw around in her glass with nimble fingers. The plastic clinked against the sides of the crystal, effectively drawing the bartender's attention to Clarke's graceful fingers, exactly where Clarke wanted her to look.

She watched Clarke pop an olive in her mouth seductively before speaking again, voice as sultry as Clarke was trying to be with her movements. "Well feel free to stop by any time this week. Don't be shy. And if you need anything else, just call for me. I'm Echo, by the way."

"Echo?" Lexa questioned when the bartender danced away from their section of the counter. "That's a fake name if I've ever heard one."

"Duh it's a fake name," Clarke patronized. "How many creepy, clingy drunk people do you think hit on her every night? She doesn't need everyone knowing her real name. Besides, Echo sounds like a fun name to scream out in bed. Repeatedly."

"She's not going to sleep with you," Lexa stated.

"You don't know that. She was totally flirting with me."

"Please." Lexa rolled her eyes. "She lives on tips. She has to flirt with all of her customers if she wants to pay the rent. She probably thinks you're just another one of those creepy patrons you were talking about."

"If she thought one of us was creepy, it was you," Clarke accused, scooping up the last remaining puddle of cheese with an unbroken tortilla chip. "You're the one that barely talked to her at all. It's always the quiet ones that are the secret serial killers."

"Whatever. She was here for like five seconds. And you hijacked my conversation. I have just as much of a chance with that girl as you."

"In your dreams, maybe. I even gave you the higher title and she was still more into me. Point Joe Biden. Sorry, Barack. The vice president comes out on top this time."

"She wouldn't be so into you if I told her you were just an assistant," Lexa threatened.

"I see how you're playing," Clarke scrutinized. "You know I'm better than you so you have to tear me down just to put yourself on top. Those are dirty tactics right there, Ms. Woods. You might as well call yourself a Republican."

"That's politics." Lexa shrugged. "And business. It's cutthroat."

"Yeah, well I'm a doctor and we fix cut throats. I can get women more easily than you any day."

"You're on," Lexa proposed. "Forget finding dates. First to seduce the bartender wins."

"Challenge accepted."

/

Agreeing to allure the bartender was probably their first mistake.

And the only one they needed to make.

There were only so many ways to flirt with a bartender while she was on the clock and about nine of them involved alcohol; ordering it, reordering it, asking for recommendations, discussing new innovations in mixology.

The only thing Clarke cared about when it came to alcohol was whether or not it tasted good.

Lexa, by the way she stayed nearly silent as Echo poured her heart out talking about the new tumblers she bought last weekend, didn't seem to care about alcohol at all.

Clarke wasn't exactly having the time of her life, but at least she could be subtle about it.

Lexa was way too forward.

There was a point where Lexa just gave up. Her impatience got the best of her, and while Clarke was trying to make up some story about how when she was established enough in the business world she wanted to venture out on her own and start her own gay bar in D.C., Lexa might as well have flat out told Echo that her only goal in life was to sleep with her.

First she'd tried to copy Clarke, ordering a martini that she sipped through in record time just so Echo would have to come back to their corner of the counter to talk to her again. That, Clarke wasn't upset about. Lexa was finally drinking like Clarke wanted her to, but the more she drank the rowdier she became and the more Clarke had to drink to keep up with her so that Echo didn't think she couldn't hold her liquor.

Things quickly turned from pretty sober to an ugly not so sober in no more than a half an hour. Clarke had been drunker, and she was sure Lexa had too, but the more they drank, the more competitive they became, and the more competitive they became, the more they drank.

Echo didn't complain. She was getting paid. She had some company. She put up with them.

At first.

Then Clarke and Lexa seemed to forget that Echo was a bartender. Reading people, summarizing them, judging their body language and their intentions was her specialty. She saw straight through their ruse, knew exactly what they were up to.

Kind of.

She knew what Clarke was after when she called her pretty and complimented her tattoos. She knew what Lexa was after when she managed to strategically work into every conversation how single she was and how in New York she couldn't get together with any of her D.C. hook ups.

But when Lexa asked her, "When do you get off tonight?" that was Echo's last straw.

Echo laced her hands over top each other on the sticky bar counter like it was the mahogany desk in Lexa's office, like she was the one in charge and Lexa was the one about to get fired and sent on a blackmailing trip out of state.

"Look," she started, losing the smile she'd forced onto herself who knows how many hours ago when her shift started. "This is going to have to stop. I can tell that you two are hitting on me, alright, and I can also tell that you're not business women. Business professionals? Yeah, they don't act like this." She pointed an accusatory finger at both of them, swirling it around like the two of them were a drink she was mixing. "That whole president and vice president thing? You're not even trying to be subtle. It's obviously a sex thing, and you might as well just call yourself her dominatrix," she said, looking at Lexa. "I can tell that you two are a couple because you argue like you're married. Hell, you probably are married. You're not wearing the rings, but what married woman does when she comes to the bar looking to hit on her bartender like some sleazy pervert? At least most people do it discreetly and don't bring their fucking wives with them to pick up other women. But whatever," she ended. "I won't judge you two for what you like to do in bed, but I'm making it clear right now that I'm not interested in swinging with you. I won't kick you out yet, but if either of you need anything else from now on, please ask a different bartender."

Both of them were speechless.

Clarke was pretty sure Echo had ripped out her vocal chords while she was busy ripping Lexa a second asshole. As soon as she found them again, the first words off her tongue were, "What the fuck?"

Lexa started laughing. Like, full blown wheezing guffaws, and Clarke couldn't tell if it was a nervous habit or if she genuinely found this funny.

Because it was kind of hilarious.

Maybe it was how much alcohol she's ordered in the past hour or maybe Lexa's laughter was as contagious as Echo's stupidity, but Clarke joined her in throwing her head back and letting loose.

Their chorus was loud enough to cause some attention in the still fairly empty room, and as both of them tried to quiet down, all Clarke could think about was how Lexa was right. Sometimes girls didn't stare from across the bar because they thought someone was cute. Sometimes they stared because two girls were laughing like they were way more drunk than they actually were.

The two of them didn't really calm down until another woman appeared behind the bar, one that looked more like Echo's boss than her co-worker. She began cleaning the countertop and rummaging the bar for drinks to pour, but she never took her eyes off Lexa and Clarke for more than ten seconds and it was more than obvious that they were being watched. Echo had clearly rated them out to one of her supervisors.

"You're going to get us kicked out," Clarke seethed through clenched teeth. She leaned in close to Lexa in order to keep her voice down, afraid so much as another peep would get them thrown out onto the street.

Lexa leaned in even closer to her, even more careful than Clarke. "I didn't do anything!" she defended.

"You pissed off that bartender on purpose!" Clarke disputed.

"I didn't! She was crazy! Did you hear her? What would I possibly have to gain from making her mad?"

Clarke took another calm sip of her drink, eyeing the manager subtly over the glass to see if she was still watching them. She was.

"I think you scared that bartender away so you didn't have to sleep with her," Clarke whispered, setting her glass down to look Lexa in the eye. "You don't want to find somebody else and replace Anya."

"That doesn't even make sense!"

"It does! You have to have more game than that. There's no way you're that bad at picking up women. You had a girlfriend for fuck's sake. And you have Anya! How could you possibly manage to get either one of them if you have no idea how to talk to women. You did that on purpose."

"Now you're just drunk," Lexa excused.

"Now you're in denial," Clarke shot back. "You care about Anya and you don't want to mess up what you have with her. I know that's what you're doing, whether you want to admit it or not."

"I don't care about her like that," Lexa insisted.

"Replace her, then."

"Fine." Lexa leaned forward until there was almost no space between her and Clarke, until her whispers were so quiet Clarke could hear the open and close of her mouth more clearly than the sounds of her words themselves. Her breath was hot, sour, and Clarke couldn't tell if the liquor she smelled was wafting from her own lips or Lexa's.

"What are you doing?" Clarke asked, a lump suddenly in her throat. The way her head swam made her feel much more drunk than she had thirty seconds ago. Unless Echo had spiked her last drink, Clarke wasn't sure she could blame the swig of alcohol she'd just put down.

"You're my Vice President Replacement aren't you?" Lexa asked, teasing Clarke with the false moniker she'd given herself. "So replace my vice president."

The kiss caught Clarke by surprise, but the press of her lips against Lexa's itself wasn't as surprising as just how much Clarke liked it.

Lexa tasted like ketchup and gin, like the smells of her childhood and the thrills of being an adult all wrapped up into one. She was spicy and bitter and salty and sweet and the way Lexa threaded her hands into the hair at the back of Clarke's head and pushed her forward made Clarke want to fall off the bar stool to bring the two of them even closer, to tumble head over snow boots into Lexa's lap.

The kiss only ended when she very nearly did just that. Lexa was the only thing that saved her from falling off the bar stool and twisting her ankle on the legs of her seat. Her hands were around Clarke's waist in no time, catching her and stabilizing her until Clarke was able to center herself on the chair again and make the move for the second kiss of her own accord.

Clarke was pretty sure she was the one who introduced her tongue to the kiss.

That was probably the best decision she'd made all night.

If Lexa's lips were satin soft, her tongue was velvet, and the way she licked inside Clarke's mouth, cradled her jaw to hold her in place, made Clarke breathless.

This was why Lexa had Anya. This was why she was going to marry Costia. Maybe the girl had no game, but damn could she kiss when she scored.

She'd have to apologize to Lexa for insulting her later.

Or just keep kissing her and never stop to do something as useless as speak with her mouth ever again.

There were other things her mouth could be doing.

A lot of other things.

Things Clarke couldn't do in public in front of a bartender she'd just tried to convince she wasn't dating Lexa.

Making out in plain sight wasn't helping their case, and it only served to give Echo more ground, but if the rest of her weird, political roleplay fantasies came true, too, maybe that wouldn't be so bad.

Clarke was going to be the president though. Vice President Replacement or not.

Clarke owned her kiss like she owned her country, and the more Clarke gave, the more Lexa took until Clarke could barely remember that Lexa was the one who had initiated the kiss in the first place.

Clarke couldn't remember a lot of things right now. Her mind was elsewhere, and that was only partially the alcohol's fault.

Somehow, when Lexa pulled away to tilt her head and adjust the kiss, Clarke mustered up the clarity to put a hand against her chest and push the two of them apart, just far enough that their lips couldn't meet even if they both stretched. And, God, did Clarke want to stretch for it.

Lexa looked upset, like she was afraid she might have done something wrong, but Clarke soothed her worries faster than a few bottles of beer could.

"Do you want to get out of here?"

The way Echo was looking at them from across the bar made it feel like they didn’t have a choice. The manager was getting closer now, too, and when Lexa said, "Yes," Clarke breathed a sigh of relief.

The manager was a big, burly woman who looked better suited for the position of a bouncer than a bartender, and she stalked Clarke and Lexa like she was going to pick them up by the scruff of their necks, one in each muscular hand, and throw them out onto the snowy pavement. She leaned in so close to them from across the bar that Clarke could read the word "Queen" written in nearly illegible cursive across her forearm.

Not even singing “We Will Rock You” could save them now. It was more like “Under Pressure.” Or “I Want to Break Free.” Or “Another One Bites the Dust.”

"I think you two should go," Queen said gruffly, eyeing the two of them like she was going to beat them up for their lunch money if one of them didn't pay the tab soon. Lexa dug around frantically in her wallet like she was looking for a "Get out of Jail Free" card, but she didn't find it before Clarke found her debit card.

Queen snatched it from the bar like she wasn't going to give it back, and Clarke almost considered leaving right now as Queen shuffled to the register and just cancelling the card when she got into the cab.

"I can pay for mine," Lexa insisted, still perusing through her wallet with anxious thumbs. Clarke put a hand on her arm to stop her.

"It's fine," she soothed. "It's no big deal. It'll be faster if we just let her charge the whole tab on me."

Lexa couldn't disagree with that. She nodded and slipped her wallet back into her pocket.

Queen was back in a flash, tossing Clarke's debit card at her like it was a dart and the bullseye of the board was her face. As the two of them stood to leave, Queen saw them off with a gracious, "Don't come back!"

That was a warning they both planned to heed.

The night was colder now that it was later, and Clarke made a show of shrugging her mittens on to protect her fingers from the chill. When she looked to Lexa, she wasn't doing the same. She'd left her gloves on the counter.

Clarke wasn't going back in for them.

Lexa wasn't either.

She didn't seem to mind the cold too much anyway. Between getting each other hot and bothered with that kiss and the fire Queen had lit under their asses, the cold was almost welcome. Or at least more welcome than Clarke and Lexa would ever be in that bar again.

It was sort of funny, really, and when Clark finally pulled her gloves on and the two met eyes, they both burst into another fit of laughter.

"I told you you were going to get us kicked out," Clarke taunted.

"I still don't think it was my fault," Lexa defended.

"First you pissed off Echo and then you kissed me," Clarke reminded her. "Totally your fault. I hope you're using this time to think about what you've done wrong," she joked.

"Are you asking me if I regret kissing you?" Lexa asked. "Because I don't."

Clarke bit her lip. "No?"

"Nope." Lexa smiled shyly. "I liked it."

"Me, too," Clarke admitted.

Lexa shoved her hands in the pockets of her jacket, more to give than something to do than to actually keep them warm. She bounced on the balls of her heels for a moment before looking back to Clarke like a teenager about to ask her date to prom. "Want to kiss some more?"

Clarke's smile wasn't as innocent as Lexa's. "I thought you'd never ask."

Clarke was the one who pushed up on her toes to initiate the kiss this time, snatching Lexa's lips with her own to warm them in the cool night air. It was instinctual, easier than most kisses Clarke shared with strangers outside of bar entrances, and as soon as their lips met, the awkwardness faded. Lexa's hands were on her cheeks and she was kissing Clarke with all the confidence she'd had the first time she'd done it inside the bar.

When Lexa's tongue swiped across her bottom lip, pried it's way inside her mouth to caress Clarke's own, all Clarke could think about was how the pit of fire that formed in her stomach warmed her entire body better than any cup of hot chocolate ever could.

"You're a really good kisser," Clarke praised between nips to Lexa's bottom lip.

"I'm good at other things, too," Lexa bragged, mimicking Clarke and pulling her in close by the waist. The way their pelvis bumped into each other was not coincidental.

Clarke hummed happily. "Mm, are you? That's some big talk. Maybe you should just show me instead."

"What wrong with a little dirty talk?" Lexa asked, showing off with another deep kiss. "It makes for great foreplay. And everyone knows foreplay is the best part."

"It's only foreplay if you actually get to have sex afterwards," Clarke pointed out, moving her hands from Lexa's hips to wrap them around her neck. "Which we're never going to be able to do if you don't call a cab and get us back to the hotel."

"Or I could fuck you right here in the middle of the street," Lexa proposed. "There's an alley behind the bar."

"As sanitary as that sounds, I think I'll take my chances with the grimy hotel mattress. Thinking of all the old men who have ordered pay per view porn and jacked off on it really turns me on."

"Ugh," Lexa groaned. "This is not making me want to go back to the hotel any faster."

"Take me to the hotel or I'll just fuck myself in the shower later and leave you to masturbate to shitty hotel porn alone," Clarke threatened.

"Fine," Lexa agreed. "But if you do end up fucking yourself in the shower at some point this week, please call me into the bathroom so I can join you."

"Deal."

Lexa wasn't much taller than Clarke, but the way she extended her arm into the air to hail a cab made Clarke feel like Lexa was towering over her. She felt small as she huddled into Lexa's side, waiting for the acknowledging honk of a car willing to pick up the both of them.

They didn't have to wait long. What cab driver in his mid thirties didn't want to pick up two drunk young women in the middle of the night?

Clarke went against her better judgement and climbed in the back of the taxi anyway. If anything happened, she and Lexa could fight him off. If he didn't pull anything, though, there were plenty of other things Clarke and Lexa could do in the cab to preoccupy themselves.

The driver was friendly enough for someone clearly begrudgingly working the night shift, and he listened intently as Lexa fed him the address of their hotel. He seemed even more pleased when Lexa said her final words to him.

"Take the long way there."

The driver shifted gears with a smile on his face at the prospect of putting a few extra bucks in his pocket for a speedy trip he wouldn't normally make much off, and Lexa sunk into the backseat with a wicked grin like she knew she had Clarke trapped.

Clarke was just about to order the driver to take a short cut and threaten Lexa with the promise of locking the bathroom door next time she showered specifically so Lexa couldn't join her, but then Lexa's mouth was on hers again and Clarke forgot why she would ever want to sabotage a chance to sleep with her boss.

The cab was small and fit for no more than two people, but Lexa somehow managed to turn the tiny backseat into a space fit for three. Clarke took the seat behind the driver, and Lexa wedged herself onto the hump between the driver's side and passenger's side. It couldn't be very safe or very comfortable, but Lexa clearly had other things on her mind that distracted her from the inconvenience.

She leaned down, pressed a kiss to the corner of Clarke's mouth and unfurled Clarke's scarf until it lay around the back of her neck like an undone tie. Her right hand snaked around the column of Clarke's throat and then they were kissing again.

Lexa didn't stop until Clarke's throat vibrated against her hand with a gentle moan and Clarke pulled away, breathless.

"I can't believe we wasted the entire day not kissing," Clarke complained. "We could have been kissing for, like, the past twenty-four hours." She accentuated her claim with another brief kiss. This time Lexa pulled away.

"I don't really think Dante or Cage would have appreciated us making out all through brunch," Lexa pointed out, swooping down for another peck.

"Who?" Clarke asked, then realized where she was and why she was here. "Oh, right. Sorry, my job is the last thing on my mind right now."

Lexa snaked a hand in between Clarke's thighs, fingers climbing the denim of Clarke's knee. "There's a certain job on my mind right now," she teased, smile overtaking her face like a weed.

Clarke raised an eyebrow and lowered her voice. "You're really want to give me a hand job in the back of a taxi?" she whispered, trying to spare the cab driver's ears even though he had probably heard worse in his time.

"I would if I could," Lexa admitted, toying with the fabric barring her hand from Clarke's skin. "Next time wear a skirt."

"Do you want my pussy to get frostbite?"

"No, the biting comes later," she previewed, sliding Clarke's scarf further across her shoulder and nipping lightly at her collarbone.

Clarke placed a gloved hand over Lexa's bare one at her thigh, both to have something to hold on to and to make sure Lexa wouldn't move. Lexa threaded her fingers into Clarke's.

"You left your gloves at the bar," Clarke noted. "Your hands are going to get cold."

Lexa's hand snaked even further down Clarke's thigh, dragging Clarke's hand with hers until they both stopped at the seam of her jeans. "Don't worry, I know where else to put them to keep them warm."

The heel of Lexa's palm pressed against her center, and Clarke was really starting to regret not wearing a skirt.

Frostbite might be worth it.

It was that kind of thought that made Clarke realize that things were going very far very fast, and if she didn't take care of business now, her head was never going to be clear enough to do it later.

She placed her free hand against Lexa's chest and pushed her far enough away that they could have a face to face conversation.

"Ok, before this gets to the point of no return in the back of a cab, I need to know how drunk you are."

"I've been drunker," Lexa assured her.

"That also means you've been more sober," Clarke pointed out.

"I'm not that drunk," Lexa insisted.

"That sounds suspiciously like what drunk people say when they're not sober enough to give consent but still want to get laid."

"I want to have sex with you," Lexa promised, trying her hardest to sound as sober as possible. She was doing pretty well, but Clarke still had to be sure.

"Drunk you wants to have sex with me," she accused.

"Sober me wants to, too."

Clarke lifted another eyebrow. "Really?"

Lexa shrugged. "You're hot. And that whole bitch thing does it for me."

"Excuse me?" Clarke asked, wondering if she'd heard that right.

"You're a bitch," Lexa said pointedly, looking Clarke in the eye. "I'm into it, though."

Ok, Clarke was kind of a bitch. She wasn't dense enough to deny that. If anyone other than Lexa had said that to her in any other place than the back of a cab and while she was sober, though, she probably wouldn't have taken the insult. But here with Lexa so close to her and her mind clouded by alcohol and the admission that the girl she was making out with now had thought about sleeping with her while she was sober, too, Clarke was too flattered to care.

She didn't push Lexa away again when she leaned in for another kiss, this time one more gentle and controlled.

Clarke hadn't forgotten about the hand between her legs, though. She tried not to make her squirming too obvious.

"You're sure you want to do this?" she asked finally, giving Lexa a last chance at a way out. "I don't want you to regret it in the morning."

"I won't," she promised. "I want to do this." Clarke could feel the genuineness in the way Lexa kissed her, and when she pulled back and whispered, "You're not too drunk are you?" Clarke knew Lexa's head was in the right place.

"No, I'm good," she assured.

"You sure?" Lexa repeated. "'Cause that sounds suspiciously like what drunk people say when they're not sober enough to give consent but still wanna-"

"Shut up and kiss me," Clarke demanded with a smile.

Lexa didn't deny her request.

There was no gentleness anymore, no innocence in the way Lexa chewed her bottom lip then soothed the wound with her tongue, and there was nothing PG about the way Lexa's hand found the button on her jeans. She managed to unhook the metal with a skilled thumb and lock her fingers around the zipper beneath it before Clarke squeezed her hand with her own, signaling her to stop and glancing nervously towards the rear view mirror at the front of the cab where she stared back at herself, eyes dilated and glossy, pupils so big she could barely tell her eyes were blue beneath all the black.

Lexa followed her line of sight until she saw what Clarke was looking at. She held Clarke's eye in the mirror as she spoke to her. "He's seen worse," Lexa told her, fiddling with the zipper, but not pulling it down without Clarke's consent. "He's watching the road anyway. He doesn't care."

Clarke bit her lip exactly where Lexa had. The skin was so raw that it nearly burst beneath her teeth. "We can't," she said regrettably. "I'm not into strange men watching women finger me in public. Besides, what happened to 'foreplay is the best part?' Save it for the hotel. Move your hand."

Lexa obeyed, letting the zipper fall slack, but she tested Clarke's boundaries by moving her hand up towards her coat, grazing her side until her fingers traveled up the center of Clarke's chest where Clarke separated their hands to let Lexa move on her own. The zipper on Clarke's pants might have been off limits, but Clarke made no protests when Lexa tugged the zipper of her jacket down to her waist and slipped a hand beneath the open flap of the material, stroking a hand along Clarke's breasts.

Clarke never took her eyes off the mirror. It was painfully obvious what they were doing, but at least the flaps of her coat disguised Lexa's hand, left something to the imagination. The cab driver couldn't see how stiff her nipples were, how they indented the cups of her bra so far that they poked out from behind the fabric of her shirt, too. He couldn't see the way Lexa rolled them between her fingers, pinching them in a way that made them stand out even more than the cold.

It was hard for Clarke not to whimper. When Lexa abandoned one breast, an act cringe worthy on its own, to pay attention to the other, Clarke was pretty sure she let out a fairly solid moan. It was hard to tell, though. Her head was foggier than the cab windows beside them, and she couldn't hear anything besides Lexa breathing heavily into her ear as she kissed the sensitive skin beneath it.

Thank God the cab driver was playing music.

(He could probably still hear them, though.)

(Clarke was starting to care less and less.)

Somehow it had gone unnoticed to Clarke that Lexa was popping the buttons on her shirt, too, threading the plastic spheres through their hoops as expertly as she had on her jeans, until she saw in the mirror a flash of her own skin, a small, pale expanse across the middle of her chest just big enough for Lexa to slip her hand between the second strip of fabric and fondle her outside her bra.

"You're wearing far too many clothes," Lexa complained, punishing Clarke for the offense of her prudishness by chewing lightly on the lobe of her ear.

Who knew Clarke Griffin had a biting fetish?

Clarke Griffin didn't.

She was starting to regret telling Lexa to move her hands away from her crotch. Now she had nothing to grind against, and it was more than pathetic to watch herself squirm against the seat.

Lexa couldn't take her eyes off the gentle rocking of Clarke's hips. "I can't wait to taste you," she confided, giving an extra hard squeeze to Clarke's breast. Her other hand was tense on her own knee, clearly restrained from touching something. What she wished she was doing with it, Clarke could only imagine.

But maybe Lexa didn't have to waste her time imagining, too.

Clarke waited for just the right moment, until the driver was preoccupied turning a corner and watching for oncoming traffic, to tug a glove off one of her hands and stick it briefly down her pants.

Because of the undone button, she was met with little resistance. She worked her way inside her underwear easily, ignoring how wet they already were and diving directly into the source of their dampness, pressing a finger flat against her center to coat it in the same liquid ruining her panties.

Drenched, she quickly pulled away before the driver had a chance to catch her, sliding that same finger over her clit on her way out. She needed as much temporary relief as she could get.

Lexa stared at Clarke's lap in a daze, pupils bulging like a vein Clarke was sure was going to burst. Lexa hadn't blinked in minutes, but when Clarke brought her fingers to Lexa's lips, Lexa's eyes closed in ecstasy and she sucked the juices from Clarke's digits like she was parched.

Much to Clarke's dismay, Lexa's hand slipped out of her shirt to snake around her waist and grip harshly around her hip. Lexa was squirming even more than Clarke now, and she wasn't quiet about the way she moaned around Clarke's fingers or released them with a loud pop after she sucked them clean.

The way Lexa greedily licked her lips told Clarke she tasted good, but she got to experience the flavor for herself when Lexa crashed her lips back into hers. She kissed so hard Clarke was sure it would bruise. She welcomed it, though, eagerly savoring the heady taste of herself on Lexa's tongue. They kissed long after all the traces of Clarke's cum vanished from Lexa's lips, Lexa's hand never straying from her side and Clarke's uncovered hand making its way towards Lexa's lap, resting in the same position Lexa's hand had against her thigh earlier.

They easily lost track of time that way, neither of them separating to clear the fog from the windows and see what part of town they were in. It was the driver that told them the car had stopped. He coughed heartily until the two of them looked his way. How long he'd been watching or sitting there letting the meter run, neither of them knew.

"Wanna go for another spin around the block?" Lexa asked, and Clarke almost thought she was being serious until she chuckled and extricated herself from Clarke's grip, reaching into her pocket for her wallet to pay the driver while Clarke busied herself buttoning her shirt.

She held her second glove with her gloved hand, determined not to leave it in the cab like Lexa had left hers at the bar but unwilling to contaminate them with the hand that had been in Lexa's mouth and down her own pants. Lexa wasn't as hesitant to avoid the same hand. She grabbed it as she opened the door and stepped out of the cab, helping Clarke out with her.

The cab driver abandoned them in the parking lot, hand in hand under the dim glow of still-lit rooms shining from the windows stories above them. Lexa held Clarke's hand as they rushed inside, escaping the cold with the billowing puffs of their breaths flowing behind them like the exhaust of an engine.

The concierge at the front desk they were greeted by now was a new one, a pregnant mother who'd relieved the teenage boy from this morning and looked like she was as likely to pass out at her desk as most of the guests who stumbled into the hotel after midnight would as soon as they got to their rooms. This woman was tired, but Clarke and Lexa still had the whole night ahead of them.

"Stairs or elevator?" Lexa asked energetically, excited by the prospect of what was to come when they reached the second story.

"Elevator," Clarke responded, giving Lexa's hand a firm squeeze. "I want to make out in it."

"Stairs are faster," Lexa debated, leaning down to kiss Clarke and give her a preview of what she would be missing out on if they wasted time in the elevator. "I kind of want to get to the room as soon as possible."

Clarke pressed her lips together, savoring the taste of Lexa and deciding whether she could be bribed with kisses or not.

She could.

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but you're right. The stairs are better in this case."

Satisfied, Lexa wasted no time in climbing them, pulling Clarke behind her on the steps until they reached the second level of the building and the door to their room not too far from it. Her hands were shaky when they pulled the key card out of her pocket, either from excitement or the alcohol or some combination of the two, but still she managed to unlock the door on the second swipe, and Clarke wasted no time barreling into the room behind her and shutting the door by shoving Lexa up against it and attacking her with another kiss.

Lexa immediately went for Clarke's clothes, slipping her hands into the shoulder pads of Clarke's jacket and shrugging it from her arms before pulling off her own coat, too. The fact that they were standing by the coat rack held little meaning for Lexa as she threw their clothes to the ground haphazardly, shuffling around them as she attempted to walk Clarke closer to the beds. She didn't make it far before Clarke slammed her into the wall again.

"Oh, no. You had your fun in the cab. You don't get to tease me all night and not expect a little revenge."

Lexa swallowed hard, and Clarke kissed her throat where it bobbed.

"Undress me," Clarke commanded.

Lexa was quick to listen, undoing the buttons on Clarke's shirt for the second time that night and finally pulling the zipper of her jeans down where Clarke hadn't let her before. Clarke had tugged her second glove and scarf off and kicked her shoes and socks from her feet at the same time Lexa did when they entered the room, and Lexa had no trouble sliding Clarke's shirt down her arms or her pants down her thighs until Clarke was in nothing but her underwear before her.

Lexa was staring, enraptured by the sight of Clarke's body, and Clarke utilized her stunned state to undo the top few buttons of Lexa's shirt, opening it just enough that Clarke could see cleavage and the tops of the cups of a silky black bra through the slit, which she stared at almost as vehemently as Lexa stared at her.

"You just gonna stand there?" Clarke taunted, half-naked body pressed against Lexa's fully clothed one against the wall. She stepped away a couple of feet, turned around, and lifted her hair to unveil her back and leave Lexa with room to work. "You going to take this bra off me or do I have to do it myself?"

Clarke was wearing the bra Lexa had lent to her after she'd spilled coffee all over her own, the one that actually belonged to Anya more than Lexa, and Lexa tugged at the clasps and freed them almost before Clarke could finish her sentence. Impressed, she watched as Lexa slipped the material around her front and dropped Anya's bra to the floor like she no doubt had a dozen times before.

"You were pretty quick at that," Clarke noted, turning around to face Lexa bare-chested. Lexa focused more on her breasts than making eye contact as they spoke. "How many times have you taken that bra off Anya before?"

"A few," Lexa admitted, reaching out to cup a hand over one of Clarke's breasts, breath hitching as her thumb circled gently around a goose-bumped nipple.

Clarke leaned into the touch, pawing briefly at Lexa's own chest over her clothes before tugging Lexa away from the wall by her belt loops over to the first bed she could reach. It happened to be Lexa's.

The covers on Lexa's bed were still immaculately pressed, tucked in and unwrinkled because they hadn't been slept on unlike the bedding of Clarke's mattress. Clarke laid Lexa on them gently, head settling in against the pillow before Clarke straddled her waist and leaned down to capture her mouth in another kiss.

Clarke's hands found Lexa's and she guided them down her body, bypassing the sides of her breasts and her rib cage, down to her hips and finally to the elastic band of her underwear where Lexa picked up on what she was supposed to do. She pulled Clarke's underwear down by her thumbs, digits grazing the curve of Clarke's ass and the back of her thighs on the way down. With some resituating, the underwear met the floor with the rest of Clarke's wardrobe, and Clarke was fully naked above Lexa who ran her hands over Clarke's chest again, coaxing her to scoot up farther onto the mattress to allow Lexa to suck one of her nipples gently into her mouth.

Clarke moaned, balancing herself with one hand on the mattress and cradling Lexa's head against her chest with the other, guiding her to one nipple and then the other with her hand threaded in Lexa's rusty curls. When Lexa reached a hand lower, stroking Clarke's stomach and trailing down to the top of her mound, Clarke stopped her by lifting herself up.

"You want to taste me, don't you?" she asked, to which Lexa nodded fervently, eyes glossy and dark. That was all Clarke needed to scoot up farther against the mattress until her hands rested against the top of the headboard and her sex was directly above Lexa's face, legs straddled around her head.

Lexa didn't hesitate to place her hands on Clarke's lower back, slip them down to cup the cheeks of her ass, and lift her head the rest of the way to meet Clarke's center. Her tongue threaded hungrily through Clarke's folds, lapping at the juices that had leaked from her center around her clit and onto her labia. She sucked happily on Clarke's clit, swirling her tongue in small circles around the bud while it was in her mouth, then releasing it to lick large ovals across the area around it without touching the clit directly.

It wasn't long before Clarke was squirming like she had been in the cab, letting her body relax and her hips sink down onto Lexa's face until she was practically grinding against the woman beneath her. Lexa allowed Clarke to buck her hips against her mouth, Clarke doing half the work as Lexa's tongue slid up and down her slit, caressing her clit in figure eight patterns interrupted by the occasional gentle suck of her lips and the even rarer careful graze of her teeth. Eyes opened, Lexa watched as Clarke's chest heaved above her, breasts swaying slightly with each jerk of her hips.

"Inside," Clarke breathed, and Lexa listened too carefully. As her tongue trailed lower, dipped just inside the entrance of Clarke's center, her hand snaked down between her own legs, desperate to copy the actions of her tongue on Clarke with her fingers on herself, but Clarke felt the hand move away from where it had been grabbing her ass and she searched for it with her own until she found it. Lexa had only managed to unbuttoned and unzip her jeans before Clarke trapped her hand back beside her head with her own.

"Wait your turn."

Lexa whimpered like a dog, and it took everything in her for Clarke not to say, "Who's the bitch now?"

Clarke got off on watching Lexa struggle to contain herself beneath her. Between the cab, the wall, and right now, she could only imagine how wet Lexa was, how soaked Clarke would find her when she finally let Lexa experience what she was now. She tried to contain her orgasm, prolong it for as long as she could to make Lexa suffer, but it was hard when she couldn't control her hips, was constantly taken aback by the way Lexa expertly used her tongue to fuck her, filling her until Clarke ground against the muscle lapping at the ridges inside of her like this was the last time she would ever be able to sit on somebody's face. As soon as Lexa tongue met her g-spot, nails carving small, permanent, half-moons into her ass, Clarke was done for, spasming above Lexa and gripping the headboard with caution, like she might break the wooden plate if she held onto it with the same amount of force she felt as her orgasm ripped through her.

Collapsing onto the sheets beside Lexa, breathing heavily as she tried to calm her heart rate, Clarke couldn't remember the last time she'd felt so good after sex. If Finn had made her feel that way, it was a distant memory that dangled just out of her reach, and when Clarke turned her head towards Lexa, the sight of her mouth, cheeks drenched in Clarke's cum, was an erotic vision unrivaled by any fantasy or hook up she'd ever had before. Clarke kissed her full force, tasting herself on Lexa's lips much more powerfully than she had before. Lexa was salty, yet somehow still sweet, and Clarke could probably kiss her forever.

Lexa needed a lot more than that, though.

"Please," she begged, trying hard not to sound desperate but failing as she tried harder to abide by Clarke's rules. She was high-strung, impatient, but doing everything she could to convince Clarke it was time for her turn.

Clarke didn't need to hear any more.

Once again she climbed atop Lexa, this time laying their bodies flush together as she continued to kiss the woman beneath her, placing kisses from her lips down to her jawline and her neck, then back up again to lick the wetness from the contours of her mouth. Her hands traveled lower, undoing the rest of the buttons of Lexa's top until she was able to take it off, Lexa maneuvering a hand behind her back to undo her bra with slightly more difficult than she had Clarke's. Soon Lexa was topless beneath her and Clarke ran a hand over one petite breast, feeling the nipple perk beneath the palm of her hand as her other hand traveled lower, slipped inside Lexa's jeans where she had already undone them.

Lexa sighed with delight as soon as the tip of Clarke's middle finger grazed her clit, her ring and index finger soon taking their place beside it to stroke Lexa in broad, heavy circles that stimulated almost more than she could take. She hissed in pleasure, digging her fingernails into Clarke's arm as it continued its movements, working Lexa's own juices around the sensitive nerves.

Lexa didn't even care that she still had her pants on, just that Clarke was naked above her, Clarke was kissing her, Clarke had her hands in her underwear. She could probably get off on the sight of Clarke fingering her alone, but she wrapped her legs around Clarke's waist to enhance the pleasure anyway, to give those fingers easier access.

Clarke took advantage of that, plunging all three of her fingers slowly into Lexa's cunt, waiting for the muscle to accept her, adjust to the pressure of the new addition, before pumping her fingers in and out, increasing her pace the wetter Lexa became.

The wet slap of skin on skin filled the room along with Lexa's moans, and Clarke didn't care if they were waking up the neighbors.

"I'm gonna..." Lexa whimpered around shouts of Clarke's name, and Clarke curled her fingers up, let Lexa's muscles tighten around her as she whispered into Lexa's ear, "Cum for me."

Lexa did, clenching around Clarke's fingers in a fierce wave of pulses as her abs tightened under Clarke's and her body tensed with the build up of release.

When Lexa stopped panting, gathered enough breath to sloppily kiss Clarke again. Clarke withdrew her fingers, bringing them to her lips and admiring the glossy sheen leaking its way across her knuckles and down to the head of her palm. Lexa's eyes were still dilated, wide and satisfied, and when Clarke slipped a finger into her mouth, Lexa accepted it without hesitation. When Lexa licked her clean, Clarke slipped the other two fingers into her own mouth, finally getting her first taste of the other woman. Her eyes closed as she hummed happily and savored the flavor.

"You taste... almost as good as me," Clarke teased, and even laughing felt better than usual in their post-orgasmic bliss.

"That's a lie and you know it," Lexa accused, but before she could argue her own delectability like Clarke thought she was going to, she said, "You taste much better than me."

"I'll take the compliment," Clarke told her, "But you definitely don't taste bad." Clarke chewed her bottom lip, glancing between her shining fingers and Lexa's naked body. "Can I clean you up?" she asked, and Lexa nodded, propping herself up on her elbows to give herself a better view of Clarke sliding down her body, settling between her legs.

Clarke made quick work of the rest of Lexa's clothes, sliding her jeans and her underwear down in a single motion and exposing Lexa's sex to the air. She looked even wetter than she had felt, and Clarke used the moment it took to remove Lexa's pants from around her ankles to admire the sight in front of her. As soon as Lexa was naked, Clarke dove in.

She hadn't gone down here with the intention of going down on Lexa, but the way Lexa moaned when her tongue swiped across the expanse of her skin told Clarke she was still sensitive and enjoying this just as much as Clarke had enjoyed Lexa's mouth on her. She looked up, met Lexa's eyes, and waited for the nod that signaled round two.

With Lexa's juices coating her tongue, Clarke had all the lubrication she needed to pay special attention to Lexa's clit, timing the sweeps of her tongue across the bud with its own subtle twitching. The faster Clarke licked, the more Lexa moaned, and it was probably a given that the whole floor could hear them by now. The last thing Clarke needed was the hotel staff barging in with a noise complaint, so she picked up her pace, assaulted Lexa with quick flicks of her tongue until she was falling over the edge again, cumming, and soaking Clarke's face with her juices.

Clarke did her best to clean Lexa up quickly as she fell from her high. Lexa looked exhausted in the best way possible, and Clarke didn't think she or the rest of the floor could withstand a round three. She closed Lexa's thighs, working her way back up the mattress until her head rested on the pillow opposite Lexa's. Lexa cleaned the cum off Clarke’s face with another kiss.

"Do you want me to move beds?" Lexa asked, sighing in content and collapsing against the mattress like she might pass out at any moment.

"We're in your bed," Clarke reminded her, gracing Lexa’s cheek with another lazy kiss. "I'd be the one to move."

"Oh," Lexa hummed, then added. "You don't have to."

“Do you want me to?" Clarke asked.

Lexa shook her head.

"Then I'll stay," Clarke announced, settling herself against Lexa's side and tugging the comforter out from where it was tucked in at the corner of the mattress. Lexa did the same and they both climbed under the covers, cocooning themselves in the sheets to get comfortable. "Big spoon or little spoon?" Clarke asked, and Lexa looked relieved that she was the one to ask.

"I'm taller," Lexa noted. "Big spoon."

"Fine with me."

Clarke found it surprisingly comfortable to lay that way, Lexa's arm wrapped around her midriff and her breasts pressing against the line of her back. She was warm, soft, and Clarke before long, she noticed her eyelids drooping, lulling her into sleep.

"Fuck."

"Hmm?" Lexa hummed, uncertain in her half-asleep daze if Clarke had even said anything. She figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.

"You wanna get up to turn the lights off?" Clarke asked.

Lexa hadn't even noticed they were still on. "No," she admitted.

"Me either," Clarke told her. Dying sounded better than moving at this point. Lexa felt too safe to move away from. "I can sleep with them on," she compromised.

"Me too," Lexa mumbled sleepily. "Not my electric bill."

Clarke laughed. Lexa smiled against her shoulder blade, giving it one final feather-light kiss she wasn’t even sure Clarke would notice.

She did.

“Goodnight, Clarke.”

“Goodnight, Lexa.”

They fell asleep illuminated by the glow of the fluorescent bulb above them and the streetlights of New York all around them. When the sun rose from its grave along the horizon, neither of them could be bothered to care.

Chapter Text

When Clarke woke it was bright. Not, 'aliens have abducted me and - wait what's that feeling in my ass?' bright, but bright like 'why the fuck didn't I turn off the lights last night?' bright.

And then Clarke remembered why.

Lexa was still curled into her side, hands wrapped around her waist and hair tangled with Clarke's against their pillows.

She was also butt naked.

Yeah, that was why.

She suddenly remembered everything, the bar, the kiss, the sex, the not wanting to get up and turn off the light switch because Lexa was warm and soft and naked next to her and they were both tired from all the sex.

All the great sex.

Nothing in Clarke regretted it, not her mind, not her body, and Clarke just hoped Lexa felt the same way.

She didn't count on it.

They'd been drinking last night. Not a lot, but not a little either, and just because Lexa was fun when she was tipsy didn't mean she wasn't going to revert back to being the stuck- up bitch she usually was the morning after when she was tired and groggy and probably had a headache.

Maybe she wouldn't remember. If Clarke could get up, shower, and eliminate the evidence before Lexa got up, maybe she would forget the whole night ever happened and Clarke wouldn't have to sit through an entire week-long lecture about how unprofessional it was that Clarke had both pressured her into getting drunk and then slept with her on top of it.

Now if only she could move without Lexa noticing...

A kiss on the lips hit her like a smack to the face, and Clarke was so blindsided by it that she could only let instinct take over, pucker her lips and kiss back until Lexa pulled away, leaving her wide-eyed and stunned.

Clarke stared like a deer in headlights.

Lexa smiled like a rock star in spotlights.

Apparently Lexa was fun the morning after, too. She had a nice glow about her, brighter than the hotel room lights or the sunshine filtering through the window.

Yeah, she definitely didn't regret last night either.

"Do you always kiss the girls you take home the morning after?" Clarke asked.

Lexa shrugged. "If they're as cute as I remember them from the night before."

"So you think I'm cute?"

Lexa chewed her bottom lip, smiled down at Clarke from where she was propped up on her side. "You're not bad."

"Whatever." Clarke rolled her eyes. "I'm hot and you know it."

"Didn't say you weren't."

Clarke hummed in content. "Your hangover isn't too bad, is it?" she asked, concerned.

"Don't have one."

"Really?"

"I told you I wasn't drunk last night."

"No, I guess you weren't." Clarke was relieved. This morning was not going the way she expected it to.

Clarke liked this alternative much better.

"How's your hangover?" Lexa asked, equal amounts of worry in her voice.

"I wasn't drunk either," Clarke reminded her.

It wasn't a lie, but she hadn't exactly been sober either. Her skull was pounding a little, but the headache plaguing her could just as likely be the result of sleeping with all the lights on. Or a symptom of caffeine withdrawal.

"Do you want coffee?" Clarke asked, noticing the scratchy fuzziness of her tongue. She hoped her mouth hadn't been too gross when Lexa kissed her. She guessed not by the way Lexa kissed her again.

"Yes, but I'll get it," Lexa offered, pulling the sheets off of her and standing, leaving Clarke lonely and cold. "We both know what happened last time you got coffee for someone."

Clarke laughed at the memory of pouring coffee all over Cage. God, that had only been yesterday.

She'd had a pretty big day yesterday.

A plane flight, a near career-ending brunch, a walk in Central Park, and a night of more fun than Clarke was expecting to have on this entire trip. All within twenty-four hours.

She'd had worse days.

Wistfully, she watched as Lexa brewed the two of them instant coffee at the kitchen counter, trying to decide if the smell of coffee grounds or the sight of Lexa scooping them while naked was more heavenly. Definitely the two complimented each other, she thought, and she didn't want to be without either.

Lexa poured two cups of coffee, both into the miniature plastic logo-encrusted cups the hotel room offered for free. Lexa carried the cups by their rims, the steam rolling off of them like waves and burning her hands until she was able to set them carefully on the bedside table, leaning down to kiss Clarke as she made her delivery.

"You're kissy this morning," Clarke observed as Lexa settled back into the sheets beside her.

"I like kissing you," she admitted.

"I like kissing you, too."

"Then there's no problem, is there?"

"I guess not."

If Lexa hadn't gotten a big whiff of her morning breath before, she did now as she pressed their faces together as close as they could possibly get, kissing Clarke like her mouth was uncharted territory her tongue was destined to explore. It wasn't lustful, per se, but it wasn't sweet either, more like some kind of noncommittal territory, a promise of more to come. They separated only when their coffee had cooled.

Drinking hot coffee in bed on white sheets while butt naked when one of them had a track record of spilling the dark brew all over herself not twenty-four hours beforehand probably wasn't the an idea as bright as all the lights in the room, but Clarke liked to live a little dangerously. That would probably change once she poured hot coffee onto her vagina, but that hadn't happened yet. She blew the dying steam away from her cup like a gnat at a picnic, and prayed for steady hands.

Her wish was granted. Something about Lexa soothed her. Clarke felt relaxed, not frantic or in a state of panic like she she typically was when she woke up in a stranger's bed after a one night stand. Maybe it was because Lexa's room was Clarke's room too and all of her luggage was only ten feet away. Maybe it was just because she'd known Lexa longer than three hours before she had sex with her. Maybe it was just because Lexa was a good kisser. Whatever it was, Clarke appreciated it.

For the first time in a long time when Clarke took a sip of her coffee it did almost nothing for her. No rushing sense of euphoria, no sudden rejuvenation. She tried to blame that on the cheapness of the coffee, not on the fact that waking up next to Lexa had already left her feeling refreshed and happy to be awake.

"I hope you don't mind it black," Lexa said. "I couldn't find any cream."

"I don't need cream," Clarke told her. "But I'd appreciate it if you gave me a little sugar."

Clarke swept in for a kiss, this time taking Lexa by surprise. Her coffee sloshed gently in her cup.

"That was a terrible pick-up line," she chastised, pressing her lips together where Clarke's had been just seconds before.

"I don't need to pick you up," Clarke countered. "I've already got you naked and in my bed."

"My bed," Lexa reminded her between sips.

"Holiday Inn's bed," Clarke retorted.

"Touche."

"You know what touche translates to, right?" Clarke prompted.

"Touch," Lexa said simply.

Clarke pouted. "Boo. You're not supposed to know the answer."

"Sorry I took advantage of the incredibly rare opportunity of taking French classes in public high school," Lexa feigned apology. "Didn't mean to outshine your brilliance." Lexa's sarcasm was so palpable Clarke could almost touch it.

No pun intended.

"I was going to teach you by touching you, but you ruined the moment. Don't you know girls are supposed to be dumb?" Clarke joked. "Nobody wants to sleep with a woman who expresses her intelligence."

"Is that why I wanted to sleep with you last night?" Lexa asked.

"Your tongue is scathing," Clarke complimented, more impressed with Lexa's wit than offended by the insult.

"You'd know all about my tongue, wouldn't you?"

Some incredibly wonderful flashbacks from the night before told Clarke that she did indeed have much experience with Lexa's tongue.

There was always more to learn, though.

"A little."

Clarke blew harder on her coffee, trying not to burn her own tongue. She had plans for it later. When she took another sip, it was good.

It wasn't, actually. It was a shitty roast, and Lexa wasn't exactly a barista, but Clarke had a feeling anything would taste good right now.

Probably not as good as Lexa, though.

She licked her lips, wondering if the trace of Lexa's cum she tasted was leftover from last night or just a fabrication of her own imagination.

Lexa watched her, curious, then serious. "How do you feel?" she asked, and Clarke knew she wasn't asking her opinion on the coffee.

"I feel... good," Clarke settled for saying, stretching her legs beneath the sheets and beaming at Lexa, hoping her own face glowed as much as the girl's beside her.

"That's an understatement," Lexa agreed.

"It definitely is, but how would you know?" Clarke spoke. "You're the one getting laid regularly. At least, I'm assuming you are if you have that not-girlfriend of yours over to your apartment enough that she leaves her underwear there."

Clarke glanced fruitlessly at the floor, trying and failing to locate Anya's bra after Lexa had flung it off of her last night. Their clothes were a mess on the ground, and Clarke couldn't sort through any of it just by sight alone. Oh well. She wasn't getting up. The bra wasn't hers, and she wasn't going to miss it. It wasn't like she planned to put clothes on anytime soon.

"I haven't had sex in months," Clarke divulged.

"I guess that means we have to make up for lost time," Lexa suggested with raised eyebrows.

"I guess it does."

"So do you want to do this?" Lexa asked, tone hopeful, and Clarke knew what she meant.

Clarke nodded around her cup. "I do. I had fun last night. I want it to happen again. But maybe without all the alcohol and the whole pissing off the bartender part. There's only so many gay clubs we can get kicked out of before we run out of bars to go to." Lexa chuckled and Clarke turned serious again. "Are you okay with sleeping together again?"

"I'm cool with having a fuck buddy for a week," Lexa stated honestly.

"Just a week?" Clarke asked.

Lexa shrugged. "I don't know. When we get back to D.C. we won't work together anymore, and I don't imagine I'll see you around town much. Plus, you live with your mom, so."

Clarke cringed. "God that makes me sound so uncool."

"It's kind of uncool," Lexa admitted, laughing a little.

"When did you move out?" Clarke asked, suddenly realizing that as little as Lexa knew about her, she knew even less about Lexa. All she knew was that Lexa had been working for Weather Corp. since she was eighteen, her ex girlfriend had died in a fire, and she was great with her tongue. There was probably a bit more to her than that. Just a little. She should get to know Lexa if they were going to be friends. Even if it was just friends with benefits.

"Sixteen," Lexa answered, and Clarke tried not to choke on her coffee in surprise.

"That's a little early, isn't it?"

Lexa shrugged. "I guess."

"Did you have really shitty parents or something?"

"Not really," Lexa told her. "We were kinda poor, I guess, but I just wanted to go off and do my own thing, support myself. I got a job, finished high school, then joined Weather and took a bunch of online classes to get my business degree. I graduated early so I could start getting promotions and actually make a decent living for once. Six years later, and I was the president."

"You're smart," Clarke said, as if Lexa didn't know it.

"Of course," she joked. "I took a whole year of French classes, remember?"

Clarke laughed. "I just took Spanish."

"Me too. I quit French once I realized Spanish would look better on a job application."

"I should have taken Latin," Clarke voiced. "It's more useful for medicine."

"When do you get your degree?" Lexa wondered.

"In, like, a million years," Clarke complained, internally groaning every time she thought about how long she still had to go before she could officially be declared Dr. Griffin Jr. She should have just gotten a four year art degree. She wouldn't make any money, but at least she'd be done with school.

"There's another reason we probably can't keep this up when we get back," Lexa pointed out. "You'll be busy with classes."

"Yeah, but that just means I'll need the stress relief," Clarke argued. "Besides, don't you want me to show you what I learn in my Anatomy lessons?"

Clarke donned the most innocent sexy face she could make, like a teenager scandalized yet riveted by her first sex education course. Lexa laughed at it.

"You're all about the cheesy pickup lines today."

"Thanks, I'll be here all week."

Lexa smiled, then kissed her. "And maybe more than a week. We'll see what we can work out back in D.C. But for the love of god, please stop with the bad jokes or we're not even going to make it to Friday," she foreshadowed grimly.

"I'm sure there's plenty we can do to keep my mouth preoccupied so that doesn't happen," Clarke soothed, placing her empty cup back on the nightstand and watching as Lexa did the same.

Clarke found herself sinking into the sheets as Lexa pushed her down, positioning her upper half halfway on top of Clarke, breasts colliding and an arm snaking around Clarke's head as she bent down for the kiss. Clarke was prepared this time, not like for the first kiss of the morning that had taken her by surprise, and not like the kiss they'd had after Lexa made them coffee either. This one was more passionate, more sensual, and before long Clarke was moaning again, running a hand down Lexa's bare, toned back and wanting more.

"Do you remember all of last night?" she asked, seemingly out of the blue, and Lexa didn't seem in the mood for any more conversations.

"I remember you riding my face," she said pointedly between kisses.

"Do you remember anything before that?"

"Like getting kicked out of the bar by that psycho bartender?"

"More like when I threatened to masturbate in the shower without you."

Lexa pulled away, confused. "Did I do something wrong?"

Clarke laced her hands around the back of Lexa's neck. "No. I just wanted to see if maybe you wanted to take this makeout session to the bathroom. We could shower together. Also, I really need to brush my teeth. I'm sure my breath smells terrible."

Clarke traversed her tongue across the inside of her mouth, hating how it felt coated in a thick layer of grime. The coffee only made the plaque more apparent.

"Your breath smells good," Lexa insisted and Clarke raised an eyebrow skeptically.

"Lexa Woods, president of Weather Corp. likes the smell of ass breath," Clarke announced, channeling her inner town crier or some asshole who ran an inaccurate celebrity gossip blog online.

Lexa smacked her cheek playfully. "It doesn't smell like ass," she said. "Does my breath smell bad?"

Clarke thought for a moment. "No," she said honestly.

“Then you must like ass breath, too.”

Clarke laughed before running her hands down Lexa's back again, stopping at her ass which she gave a playful slap. "Toothpaste breath smells better, though. Let's go."

The hotel room was probably colder than New England winters and their D.C. office combined. As soon as Clarke shirked the sheets to meet the air and bury her toes in the frozen padding of the carpet, she regretted it immediately. Until she saw the way Lexa's body was reacting to the temperature, skin pickled and nipples erect under the lights. Cold was good. Clarke could deal with cold. She was going to Hell for the thoughts she was having about Lexa's body anyway, so she'd appreciate the chill as long as she could before she was damned to spend the rest of eternity in Hell fire.

Ogling Lexa was worth an afterlife in the Underworld any day. And judging by the way Lexa's eyes never left Clarke's chest as they padded their way to the bathroom, Lexa was going to be taking that same trip to see Hades with her anyway.

That was another vacation Clarke looked forward to taking with Lexa.

The bathroom was even colder than the rest of the room, carpet replaced with tile and the light bulbs cool with lack of use. Clarke started the shower before she even made her way to the sink, absorbing the steam of the hot water and relishing in the way her shivers subsided. Lexa looked thankful, but her nipples didn't seem to get the memo. They remained stood at attention, and Clarke wondered if that was from the cold or the idea of what was to come.

Lexa was already in front of the mirror, toothpaste in hand and toothbrush out of its holder on the counter. Clarke grabbed her own and stood beside Lexa, bumping elbows with her as they attempted to share the small space and stare at each other in the mirror. With all the toothpaste foaming around her lips, Lexa looked like a rabid dog, and Clarke would have made some comment about her being a bitch if her own mouth wasn't full of bristles and she didn't get sidetracked cursing herself for not washing off her mascara last night before she went to bed. Her makeup looked like a train wreck and it was a wonder Lexa had even wanted to kiss her this morning.

President of Weather Corp. into ass breath and clowns, Clarke thought to herself.

"Better?" Lexa asked as Clarke rinsed her mouth with another plastic cup filled with water and dried her face with one of the small, overstarched towels draping from the rack.

Clarke ran her tongue over her lips, moistening them. "I don't know, you tell me."

Their next kiss was minty fresh, potent with peppermint, but laced with the bitter aftertaste of coffee. Clarke pulled Lexa in by her hips, pelvises colliding and nipples grazing as the kiss deepened into a swirl of tongues.

"This is the part where I'd take your clothes off if you were wearing any," Lexa informed her, separating their lips momentarily for air.

"Being naked saves us time. It's efficient."

Lexa's hands grazed Clarke's side down to the jut of her hip, leaving a trail of goosebumps in their wake. "I do love efficiency."

"Then thank me for already having the shower started, too," Clarke proposed.

"Thank you."

When Clarke turned to slide back the shower curtain and step into the tub, she could feel Lexa's eyes burning into her ass even hotter than the steam, and the enticing sway of her hips as she moved was only somewhat unintentional.

The shower was small, meaning the two of them wouldn't have fit in the tub if they'd tried to take a bath together, but standing they had enough elbow room to move around as they wished, not that that Lexa let any space come between them. Clarke stood directly under the stream, letting the water soaking her hair while Lexa wrapped her arms around her, hands settling against Clarke’s stomach and chest resting against her back. The edges of the spray misted her as she pressed their bodies together, kissing the side of Clarke's neck.

"Sex first or shower first?" she whispered into Clarke's ear. Her hands found their way to the top of Clarke's mound, fingertips ruffling the thin patch of hair growing there.

"Sex," Clarke answered, closing her eyes and leaning into Lexa's touch.

If they were going to get dirty, they might as well do it before they got clean.

"As you wish."

Lexa lead Clarke out of the stream and pressed her face-forward against the wall where the coldness of the tile made Clarke's nipples harden even stiffer than they already were. Lexa pushed herself up against Clarke's backside, leveling Clarke's ass with her center, and her hands found their way up Clarke's chest, tweaking her nipples easily with the added wetness of the water and appreciating the way the sensation made Clarke moan and buck her ass against Lexa's thighs.

She suckled Clarke's neck, licking the water from her skin and leaving a light bruise in its place. Clarke made no protests, only tilted her head to give Lexa more room. She'd have a mark later, but it was winter. She could cover it up with a scarf. Everything felt too good for her to tell Lexa to stop.

"Does that shower head come off?" Clarke asked, breathless.

Lexa looked up to examine the device. Clarke hated every second Lexa's lips weren't on her. "No."

"Fuck," Clarke spat. "My one at home comes off. It's... convenient."

Lexa shuddered against her, and Clarke couldn't help but smirk at Lexa's reaction.

"It turns me on to think about you touching yourself," she admitted.

"Really?" Clarke teased. "Because it gets boring touching myself day after day after day after..."

"Shit," Lexa cursed, and Clarke knew she had her boss right where she wanted her.

"I'll just have to have someone else touch me for a change." Clarke laced their hands together like she had in the cab before guiding Lexa's hand away from her breasts, down her abs, and to where the shower head would be if it were removable.

Clarke was soaked, and Lexa could tell it wasn't because of the shower.

Her fingers dipped into the liquid pooling between Clarke's thighs, and Clarke subtly spread her hips, widening her stance and giving Lexa room to slip her fingers inside of Clarke's folds, running the length of Clarke's sex from her aching center to the hood of her clit where she teased lightly, dragging small circles offer the flesh to stiffen it just enough to match Clarke's nipples.

"More," Clarke groaned, and Lexa took pride in knowing how loud Clarke had to be moaning to be heard over the shower pounding bullets into the tub beside them. Clarke's knees wobbled, and Lexa was afraid if she didn't listen to Clarke's demand soon her legs would give out beneath her.

Lexa was strong enough to hold both of them up, though.

She kept her movements painfully slow, lapping Clarke's clit where it was most sensitive with each circle, and resuming her assault on Clarke's neck. One hickey was never enough, and she moved her lips down to the span of Clarke's shoulder, nipping lightly and soothing the flesh with the warmth of her tongue.

"I swear to god if you don't fuck me properly I'm going to do it myself," Clarke threatened, and Lexa knew better than to not take the warning seriously this time.

She sped up her movements, rubbing Clarke's clit sore before trailing her hand down, testing the wetness of her entrance with the tip of her middle finger and plunging in, slowly at first to allow Clarke to adjust to the pressure.

"More," Clarke moaned again, and Lexa picked up her pace, massaging the inside of Clarke's walls before adding a second finger and exploring her fully, pumping in and out and hitting the bulk of Clarke's g-spot with each stroke.

Clarke placed her hands against the wall in attempts to balance herself, but the harder Lexa fucked her, the less stable she became. Her fingers curled with her toes, gripping aimlessly at the flat tile, and Lexa was forced to anchor her against the wall, keeping them both propped up while simultaneously rubbing her clit against Clarke's ass. The grinding was natural, and as long as Lexa never stopped fucking her, Clarke would let Lexa get off any way she wanted to.

Two fingers going to town on her was more than enough for Clarke and she could feel her abs tighten and her stomach warm with longing. Lexa grinding against her ass and kissing along her throat only helped, and her orgasm washed over her like the cascade of water from the showerhead before she knew it.

As her body relaxed, Clarke could still feel Lexa tense behind her, still holding her up and still rocking gently against her backside. Clarke pulled away from the wall and pushed Lexa off of her, earning a whimper of disapproval from the older woman that Clarke was happy to hear. She was going to make Lexa pay a little for making her wait so long to get off. She turned around to kiss her on the lips.

“You’re much better at that than my showerhead,” she praised.

“I’m sure your showerhead would be very impressed with me," Lexa choked out, voice gruff and lower than usual with lust. Clarke was going to prolong the conversation for as long as possible.

"Impressed with your skills? Maybe," she agreed. "Impressed with your totally lame dry humping? Not so much."

Clarke's tease earned a slight frown from Lexa, which the younger woman wiped off of her with another kiss, one brief but almost hot enough to make Lexa forget why she was pouting in the first place.

Almost.

"We're in the shower," Lexa countered. "Is anything dry?"

Clarke stepped forward carefully, inching her way into Lexa's space on the slippery tub until Lexa was the one with her back against the wall. “Certainly not you," she purred, tucking a hand between Lexa’s thighs and cupping her mound. Heat radiated off of her cunt as Lexa dripped into her palm, and Clarke watched Lexa's eyes roll back into her skull as her fingers spread the lips of her pussy, exposing her sex to the steamy air between them.

“Please,” Lexa begged.

“Please what?” Clarke pressed, stepping forward until her own clit made contact with Lexa’s. Her flesh was hypersensitive, over-stimulated from her orgasm, but the pinprick of pain she felt alongside the pleasure was worth it to see the way Lexa squirmed beneath her, trying desperately to gain friction and rub herself against Clarke’s vulva.

“Fuck me,” Lexa clarified.

“How?”

“However you want.”

"You'll have to be more specific than that," Clarke tsked, and Lexa felt like she was going to explode.

"I'm not going to last long," she breathed, still desperately rubbing herself against Clarke. "Just anything. Fuck. Just. This."

Lexa's hands shot out to grip Clarke's ass and bring their bodies closer together, making it easier for her to grind against Clarke. Her movements ran frantic for no more than a minute before her clit was pulsing rapidly against Clarke's and Clarke was kissing her through an unexpected orgasm.

After taking a moment to ride out her high and regather herself, Lexa stopped the kiss, pulling away flushed and not just because of how hot she was pressed so close against Clarke in the steam.

"Sorry," she blushed, embarrassment taking over her face like a rash. "I know I came fast, I was just really worked up, and -"

Clarke cut her off with a kiss.

"Don't apologize. That was hot. Now," she said, grabbing Lexa's shampoo from the shelf and holding it out for the other woman to see. "Wash my hair for me?"

Lexa nodded, taking the bottle and getting to work, lathering Clarke's blonde locks as she stepped back under the stream to clean herself.

"This stuff smells so good," Clarke lamented, closing her eyes and enjoying the way Lexa's fingers massaged her scalp.

"I know. That's why I got it for you."

"You mean that's why I got it for you," Clarke corrected.

"No," Lexa told her. "I mean you did, but I was your Secret Santa, too. I just didn't want to tell you that after you so kindly gave me a dildo in return. I didn't believe you when you said you'd gotten me a real gift, too."

"That's why you thought I'd regifted the shampoo," Clarke caught on. Lexa nodded. Clarke shook her head in defeat. "What are the chances?"

"That we drew each other for the Secret Santa or that we got each other the same gift?" Lexa asked.

Clarke rinsed her hair under the stream, then plopped a dollop of the soap into her own hands to thread through Lexa's thick curls.

"Both."

"Not high," Lexa answered. "It is an amusing coincidence."

"That’s no coincidence,” Clarke argued. “That right there is Fate.”

“Fate?” Lexa posed. The question left more room for comment, but with Clarke’s hands kneading into her scalp, Lexa didn’t quite seem capable of philosophizing the otherworldly. Clarke did it for her.

“Sometimes the universe just wants you to have an affair with your boss, you know?. Who am I to protest the world’s greater plan?”

That earned a laugh from Lexa, and Clarke helped rinse the suds from her curls before spreading her body wash elsewhere, scrubbing Lexa from head to toe and lingering selfishly between her legs where she needed the most attention. Lexa returned the favor, soaping Clarke up until she was spotless and gathering them both towels from the rack while she rinsed herself and twisted the shower knobs off.

They took turns drying each other before walking back into the main part of the room, still cold as ever, and rushing to get dressed to avoid the chill. Clarke almost considered taking another shower just to be warm again, but then Lexa was standing in front of her in another pair of ass-fitting jeans and Clarke didn’t want to be anywhere but right here in the middle of her freezing hotel room ever again.

Lexa’s phone buzzing brought Clarke out of her imagination.

"It's Anya," Lexa told her, watching the case of her phone rattle with its vibrations, and examining the caller ID. "I can ignore it."

"You sure?" Clarke asked. "What if it's an emergency and she needs something? Like the toothbrush you stole from her,” Clarke accused, recalling all the contents of Lexa’s suitcase that clearly hadn’t belonged to her. She could see the pack open now from where she was standing. Anya’s toothbrush and what Clarke could only assume was her underwear was right on top of the pile. She ignored that second item, though. “What if she hasn't brushed her teeth in weeks because of you and she’s calling to chew you out with the teeth she doesn’t have anymore because they rotted out of her mouth?”

“She has another toothbrush,” Lexa assured, scrunching her face at the image. "It's work," she insisted. "I left Anya in charge of the office and told her she could call me if she needed to."

"Sounds like she needs you," Clarke said. "You should answer it.”

Lexa nodded. It was early afternoon by this point. It was the time of day everyone started losing steam at the office. Anya probably did need Lexa’s help.

Not that Clarke would have cared if it was a personal call or anything.

"Hello?" Lexa answered, and Clarke forced herself to zone out and not eavesdrop on Lexa's conversation. She reminded herself that it was business anyway. Business was boring.

She unplugged her own phone from the charger by the nightstand and when she turned it on she saw the notification. One new voicemail from Mom. She should probably listen to that. At least it would give her something to do while she waited for Lexa to get off the phone.

She signaled wildly, pointing at the cellphone in her hand until Lexa caught sight of her and covered her speaker while Anya continued to speak in her ear.

"Gotta call my mom," Clarke whispered and Lexa waved her off with a nod.

Clarke slipped into the hallway, then down to the top of the stairwell where it felt more private. Her voice echoed in the small tunnel, but at least she was far enough away from all the rooms on the floor that no one would hear her. She sat on the top step, dialed her voicemail, and pressed her phone against her ear.

"Hey, honey. I just wanted to let you know that Kane and I are taking an impromptu trip down south to see his parents. I know he just went for Christmas, but he wanted to see them again for New Years, and, well, with you not at the house to take care of, I decided I might as well go with him. I don't know when we'll be back, but if we aren't there when you get home this weekend, don't worry. We'll be back soon. I hope your trip is going well. If you're too busy with work, don't worry about calling me back, but I might try to get ahold of you again sometime soon. I love you, Clarke. Bye."

That was nice to hear. It was good Abby was finally meeting Kane's parents, taking that plunge in their relationship. Clarke didn't ever think her mother was going to take her advice. She was happy for her.

It wasn't much of a distraction for Clarke, though. There was no family emergency or urgent news that forced her to call her mom back immediately. That was a good thing on one hand, but it wasn't great for killing time.

She called Octavia instead.

"Clarke," Octavia whispered harshly into the receiver, not even bothering to say hello. "Do you know what time it is?"

"Uh." She hadn’t looked at the clock since she woke up, and the only one she had on her now was on her phone. It wasn’t like she had eyeballs tucked inside her ear canal. She had to guess. "Like, one o'clock?"

"Exactly," Octavia spat.

"Is there a problem with that?" Clarke asked. If Octavia was still asleep at one in the afternoon, Clarke was going to have to arrange an intervention. That was too late, even by Clarke's standards.

"Yeah. I'm at work."

"You work on Sunday?" Clarke asked, incredulous.

"Where do you think I work? Chick-fil-A?"

"I never work on Sunday," Clarke argued.

"You also never work any other day,” Octavia spat. “You got fired."

"Haha." Clarke wasn't laughing.

"Just saying,” Octavia defended. “Now do you need something or are you just putting my job in jeopardy to tell me the hot gossip about New York night life?"

"I slept with Lexa."

"Whoa." Octavia wasn't even trying to be quiet now. Her mood did a complete one-eighty."Tell me everything."

"There's not much to tell," Clarke said. She wasn't going to keep anything from Octavia - Clarke trusted her not to get Lexa in trouble and spill the secret to anyone else (besides Raven maybe) - but there really wasn't much to disclose yet. "We got tipsy last night and ended up in bed together." And in a cab. And in the shower. She left that out. Octavia didn’t need the dirty details.

"Is she good?" Octavia pried. "Are you going to sleep with her again?"

"Already did," Clarke confided. "I guess we kind of have this friends with benefits thing going on. At least until the trip is over."

"You're unbelievable," Octavia said. "You give a dildo to your boss, end up going on vacation with her to new York instead of being punished, and then get to have sex with her, too? Only you could pull that off, Griffin."

"What can I say, Fate likes me."

"Did you sleep with Fate like you slept with your boss?"

"No. I bet Lexa's better in bed than Fate anyway. Also, Fate would never fuck me... over."

"I'm so jealous."

"What? No excited happenings going on at the office to brag about?" Clarke asked.

"No." Clarke could sense Octavia’s pout through the phone. "Everything's boring since you left. I don't even have a cell-mate, er, cube-mate. Raven tried to move in with me, but she can't because she's a mechanic and apparently there's a line in company policy about cross-department cubicle sharing being the eighth sign of the apocalypse or something. They're segregating us. It's all very racist."

"That sounds awful," Clarke sympathized before moving on and heckling Octavia about her relationship. "You and Raven are already ready to move in together?"

"Yep,” Octavia said confidently. “We flew to Vegas yesterday. Got married. Now we're expecting."

"You mean she's expecting," Clarke corrected, assuming by Octavia’s brag that Raven was the one carrying their imaginary child.

"No,” Octavia rectified. “We got each other pregnant. We're gonna have twins. Kinda."

"Man, you go to New York for two days and you miss everything,” Clarke huffed.

"You should come back, then," Octavia prodded. "Maybe if you suck Lexa's dick well enough she'll give you your job back and I won't have to get a new, potentially awful cube-mate."

"Lexa doesn't have a dick."

"You gave her a dildo, didn't you?"

"Fair point. I don't think she's going to give me my job back just for that, though. We'll see."

Clarke was already planning her early retirement. The next few years of her life were finishing school, getting a job at the hospital alongside her mom, and maybe moving into her own place. Weather Corp. was nowhere in the picture.

She did miss working with Octavia, though, and she did miss seeing Raven, Monty, and Miller around. But it wasn't like she could do anything about it now. She'd messed up what she had at that Christmas Party. Lexa wasn't going to go easy on her just because they were fucking. As much as Lexa could be convinced to break little rules, she took her job seriously. She wasn't going to compromise the company just to get Clarke rehired. Clarke was in New York with her to get fired, anyway. Losing her job was the entire purpose of this trip.

"Hey, I got to go," Octavia whispered urgently. "Some hot chick is glaring at me over the cubicle. I'm not supposed to be on the phone." Her voice picked up, friendly and animatronic, and Clarke barely recognized her best friend as she continued talking. "Thank you for your cooperation. We value our customers here at Weather Corp. and if you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to call again. However, I hope your problem is resolved because - ok she's gone but seriously don't call me again Clarke. I'm going to get fired." She whispered the last part, cautious, and Clarke was smart enough to listen. She wasn’t going to let Octavia lose her job, too. She was here in New York to save it.

"Bye, Octavia."

"Bye, Clarke."

Clarke hung up and checked the time. 1:20. Lexa was probably done talking to Anya by now. She was probably done ten minutes ago if Anya really did just have a question about work, but even if they were still on the phone, Clarke could just ignore them, blow dry her hair in the bathroom or something.

It wasn't like they'd be having phone sex.

Probably.

When Clarke slipped back through their hotel room door, Lexa was still on her phone, but more casually now, texting or checking her email or something. She wasn't talking and Clarke was relieved.

"What did Anya want?" It wasn't her business to ask, but she was curious for some reason. Probably just because she used to work for Weather. She still wanted to know what was going on there.

Or something.

Lexa didn't seem hesitant to divulge. "I gave her my office for the week, and she just needed to know where I kept some things. She's the President Replacement," she joked. "Apparently that isn't going too well yet, though. She just caught someone talking on the phone at her desk."

Whoops, Clarke thought.

"People don't respect new leaders when they first take over," Lexa ranted. "That's another reason Cage can't take control of Weather. If he thinks people are going to listen to him, he's delusional."

"You don't trust Anya to do your job?" Clarke asked.

"Oh, she'll do it," Lexa informed her. "She'll take the reins by force if she has to. She's tough. That's just how Anya is. She sets her sights on what she wants, and she gets it. That's why she’s second in command only to me."

"Way to kiss her ass," Clarke said, sounding more bitter than she intended.

Lexa scrunched her face. "Not that big into giving rimjobs," she quipped. "If anything, Anya kisses my ass. I'm her boss, remember?"

"Please." Clarke rolled her eyes. "You're a total bottom. You're no one's boss. Not in bed, anyway."

Lexa looked trapped, like she was stuck in a corner but was convinced she could talk her way out of it. "I can be a top."

Clarke scoffed. "Sure, you could."

"I made the first move with you, didn't I? I kissed you first, I tried to touch you in the cab, I made you cum first, I pushed you up against the shower wall."

"Because I let you," Clarke protested. "If I had tried to take control, you would have let me no contest. And don't forget how I was the one who got you to go out in the first place. And I made you eat me out. And I wouldn't let you touch yourself last night. And I made you cum in like two seconds twenty minutes ago. Don’t forget about that. I could totally make you my bitch if I wanted to."

Checkmate. Clarke hadn't felt so proud of herself since she beat her best friend Wells at chess back in middle school. Only, arguing about sex with Lexa was a bit more exciting than a board game.

Lexa lowered her eyes into a glare, but never verbally admitted defeat. "If you say so. Now can we move on to more important matters? Like, are you as hungry as I am?"

"Nah, I ate plenty last night." Clarke said with a wink.

"Besides pussy," Lexa carefully phrased. "What do you want for breakfast?" Then she remembered the time. "Lunch?" That didn't seem right either. They hadn't eaten at all yet today. "Brunch?"

Ugh. Clarke was really starting to hate that word.

"Let's just go get groceries or something," Lexa suggested. "We're going to be here all week, and we're going to need them."

"You don't want to eat out?"

Lexa raised an eyebrow.

"You know what I meant. I thought you'd want to experience the local cuisine. New York has some of the best restaurants in the world."

"Yeah, and you need to call ahead about six years in advance to get reservations at any of them," Lexa argued. "Not to mention the prices."

"That's fine dining for you,” Clarke shrugged.

"No, fine dining for me is a homemade chicken cordon bleu and a nice glass of wine. I just want to buy some deli meat and some chips and not break my budget doing it."

"That's fine with me," Clarke seceded. Lexa did have a point about not having reservations to any of the better restaurants in town. "I'm always a slut for Doritos."

Lexa groaned at the mental image. “That sounds gross.”

“Don’t slut shame me,” Clarke said seriously.
Lexa rolled her eyes.

“Let’s just go to the store.”

Chapter Text

"I still can't believe you've never had a Cool Ranch Dorito. Your life must be sad."

"What's wrong with Nacho Cheese?" Lexa asked. "It's a classic."

"It's boring to eat the same flavor over and over again. Especially the regular flavor."

"But it's good. What's the point of messing with a good thing?"

"Because sometimes you'll get something even better. Like Cool Ranch Doritos."

Clarke ruffled the brown paper sack in Lexa's arms. She could see their Doritos on top of the bag, packaging still fluffed and filled with more air than chips. She'd packed it on top to keep it from being squashed by the bread and the meats and because she knew she would want it first. She was making Lexa try them as soon as they got back to the room. It had taken some convincing, but Clarke had managed to replace Lexa's Nacho Cheese chips with her own ranch-flavored ones.

"We'll see," Lexa said, making no promises. "Now can you help me carry this up the stairs?" She hoisted the bag further up into the crook of her arm and gave Clarke a pointed look, one she returned with double the force.

They'd just gotten back to the hotel from the grocery store and Lexa had been carrying the bag since they got out of the cab in the parking lot. She'd also carried it to the cab from the store, and Clarke assumed she wasn't going to have to carry anything on this trip.

"You want to carry that whole bag up the stairs?" Clarke asked, looking at Lexa like she was crazy.

"No, I want you to grab a couple things so we can split the weight."

"Here's a thought," Clarke started. "There's an elevator right over there." Clarke pointed to the shaft, unoccupied and no more than twenty feet away.

"You just don't want to carry anything," Lexa protested.

"Not true!" Clarke exclaimed, grabbing the bag of Doritos from the top of the pile and splitting open the top of the packaging. "I'll carry these." She popped a spicy triangle into her mouth and crunched on it as Lexa glared at her from over the brown sack.

"If we take the elevator we can make out in it," Clarke pointed out, sweetening the deal.

Lexa didn't looked convinced. "You'll taste like Cool Ranch."

"You might like it." Clarke wiggled an eyebrow and spoke low, and Lexa couldn't take her eyes off her lips. Clarke ran a tongue over them to catch any stray Dorito dust.

"I don't know about that, but I like you," Lexa reasoned. "Kissing you, I mean."

"Ouch." Clarke gripped at her chest, feigning pain from a broken heart or arteries clogged by flavored tortilla chips. She wasn't sure which. "You liked me this morning when you made me coffee and fingered me in the shower. Am I really so bad to shop with that you can't even be nice to me anymore?"

"Yes," Lexa answered, only partially letting her sarcasm shine through. "My post-coital bliss only remains in effect for the first couple of waking hours after I have sex. If you weren't so hot, your taste in Doritos would make you incredibly unappealing."

"Better have sex with you again soon if I want to get on your good side again, huh? Guess we'll have to arrange an every couple of hours sex schedule."

Lexa paled and her throat bobbed as she swallowed. "I'm perfectly okay with that."

"If you take the elevator we'll talk about it," Clarke coaxed. "Or are you just going to stand here in the lobby with all those groceries so you can complain about the weight some more?"

"I thought there was going to be kissing in the elevator," Lexa recalled, avoiding telling Clarke she was right about the groceries. Her arms were starting to go numb. "I was promised very little talking."

"Then stop talking so we can get to the elevator."

Lexa submitted, nodding her head. "Right."

Thankfully the elevator was unoccupied, and as soon as they stepped in, Clarke remembered why. The doors shut creakily, leaving the two of them trapped precariously in the elevator’s stench. It didn't smell as bad as it had yesterday morning when they'd first arrived, but Clarke had to refrain herself from shoving her nose into the Doritos bag to shield herself from the odor cloud.

Lexa seemed too preoccupied trying to tap the button for the second floor with full hands to notice the smell, and Clarke felt so bad about the pathetic sight in front of her she pressed the button herself.

"Thanks," Lexa told her.

"Put the groceries down," Clarke demanded, rolling her eyes at Lexa's stubbornness.

"Put the Doritos down," she compromised.

Clarke saw that as a fair deal.

She rolled the top of the bag, then placed it back with the rest of the groceries, which Lexa finally let fall to the elevator floor. Her arms looked relieved.

The kiss was nothing passionate. There was no intimacy, no heat, but Clarke smiled through the whole thing, prompted by the grimace from Lexa who frowned through most of the kiss.

"You taste like Cool Ranch," she parted to complain, smacking her lips together to rid them of the taste.

"You really hate it that much?" Clarke asked, arm hooking around Lexa's neck.

Lexa licked her lips tentatively, trying to savor the residue flavor. "It's not that bad I guess. I bet it tastes better because it's on your lips."

Clarke kissed her again, smiling even more this time.

The smile carried her even farther than the elevator. When the bells chimed and the doors opened, Clarke picked up the groceries and led Lexa toward their room.

"Come on, I'll make you lunch."

Lunch consisted of ham sandwiches and a side of Cool Ranch Doritos that Lexa seemed to breeze through fairly quickly, despite her earlier protests. As much as she insisted that no flavor could ever top the traditional Nacho Cheese while they were at the store, she sure wasn’t making such claims now with all those chips stuffing her mouth. She liked them so much she went back for seconds. And thirds. And she snacked on them throughout the entire night.

“If you don’t stop eating those we’re not going to have any chips tomorrow,” Clarke chastised.

“We can buy more.”

“You’ve been eating them for literally hours.”

“That’s because you haven’t had sex with me in ‘literally hours,’” Lexa taunted. “These chips taste like kissing you. It’s the closest thing I have to sex at the moment.”

Clarke rolled her eyes and snatched the bag out of Lexa’s hands. She pouted, but accepted it and watched dismally as Clarke rolled the top of the bag and set the chips on the counter. It was getting late.

Spending an entire day indoors on their day off in New York wasn't exactly the plan, but that's what happened. Shadows draped across the windows before they knew it, and when Clarke instinctively went to her suitcase to find her pajamas, she remembered that she might not be needing to wear anything to bed at all, especially if Lexa was being at least partially serious when she was joking about wanting more sex.

"Do you want to sleep in the same bed again?" she asked as Lexa stumbled into the bathroom, determined to scrub all of the chip residue out of her molars.

"We can't have sex and sleep in 'til noon again," Lexa shouted around a foamy mouth. "We have a meeting tomorrow."

"What time's the meeting?" Clarke shouted back.

"Nine."

A week ago Clarke would have considered doing anything at nine a.m. ridiculous, but after that six a.m. flight, nine didn't sound so bad.

Lexa walked back into the main room, teeth clean and lips smelling minty fresh.

"We'll get up before then," Clarke promised. "We can set an alarm."

"I don't want to take the risk," Lexa confided.

"If you don't want to have sex with me tonight, that's fine," Clarke said, marching over to her own bed and pulling back the covers like she was going to get in.

Lexa stopped her, just like Clarke hoped she would. "I want the sex," she said, grabbing ahold of Clarke's arm. "But I'm serious about the alarm."

Clarke pulled the sheets back wider. "Me too. Get in."

Lexa couldn't contend with that.

/

Clarke caught the alarm first, more annoyed by the unfamiliar sound and quicker to wake to shut it off. As much as she wanted to immediately go back to sleep, she couldn't. They had a meeting to go to.

And Clarke had other things on her mind.

Getting laid regularly was jumpstarting her imagination, and she was pretty sure she'd had a dream about Lexa going down on her. That, or she was just remembering what had happened the night before. Either way, Clarke wanted to return the favor.

Clarke knew she was risking it, but time seemed to be moving too fast lately. They only had four days left before they had to go home, and if they were going to spend all day today and more time later in the week in meetings with Dante and Cage, she wanted to make the most of what little alone time they had left. Who knew when Clarke would have the chance to get laid again once she went back to D.C.? She was going to milk this friends with benefits thing for all it was worth.

She woke Lexa with a kiss the way Lexa had done to her the day before, and the woman beneath her stirred slowly, reaction time delayed as she opened her eyes and squinted them against the light of the window.

Clarke pecked her lips again, and this time Lexa kissed back.

"Mornin'," was her sleepy reply.

"Good morning," Clarke said, voice low from lack of use. She kissed the side of Lexa's jaw, then down her neck, then to the space between her breasts, still bare from the night before.

Lexa hummed happily at the feeling of Clarke against her skin, still in a sleepy haze for a moment longer until her body adjusted to being awake and she realized what they were doing up so early. "Did the alarm go off?"

Clarke nodded, kissing the edges of Lexa's breasts and working her way inwards until her mouth wrapped around the peak of the mounds, sucking gently until the skin responded, Lexa’s nipples perking with the stimulation.

Lexa groaned, but Clarke wasn’t sure if it was in protest or pleasure.

"We have to get up,” Lexa insisted.

"You have to get it up," Clarke replied, grazing a hand over Lexa's thigh beneath the blanket.

Lexa smiled and bit her lip, but her sense of duty was winning out. "We don't have time."

"I can be quick," Clarke promised, knowing from the shower yesterday just how easily she could make Lexa cum. If she could get Lexa on board with her, this would take no time at all.

"We have to get ready."

"Just relax," Clarke soothed, kissing her way back up Lexa's face. "This'll be good stress relief. If you're going to be dealing with Cage all day, you're going to get tense. Let me relieve some of that tension before you even feel it."

Lexa was quiet, and Clarke kissed her again, sucking lightly enough on the skin of her neck that no marks would be made. Couldn’t have Dante seeing that.

"You are a bad influence on my punctuality," Lexa dissented, heart not truly in the insult.

Clarke didn't take that as a no.

She slipped her head beneath the blanket, gliding down Lexa's body again, this time lower, to the flat of her stomach and the rise of her hips. Her hand continued to stroke absently at Lexa's thigh, smoothing the skin with a flat palm from the front of her leg to her backside, where she slipped a hand between Lexa and the sheets and grabbed a handful of her backside.

Lexa stretched comfortably, shifting under Clarke's touch and letting her senses awaken and her body relax. Clarke's tongue was swirling circles across the dip between her hips and her pelvis, and she was powerless to do anything but lay her head back on the pillow, close her eyes, and pretend she was having the best dream of her life.

Clarke went slow, warming Lexa up instead of diving straight in without warning, and when her mouth finally traversed the plain of Lexa's mound, her tongue traveled the outskirts of her sex first, licking across the edges of her lips and the taut skin just above her clit. The shortness of Lexa's pubes scratched at her tongue lightly, and Clarke felt the woman beneath her cant her hips up, allow her body to find much wanted friction against Clarke.

When Clarke's tongue parted Lexa's folds, the wetness waiting for her was welcome, coating Lexa's center and dripping its way down between her legs. Clarke caught a taste of it on the tip of her tongue, a thick strand of cum following her mouth as she moved it upwards and lapped her way slowly but firmly over Lexa's clit. Lexa was still slick from the night before and Clarke used that to her advantage, letting her tongue move quickly from side to side across Lexa's nub until she was moaning lightly, gasping from the sensitivity and pulling Clarke's head down to her center for some relief.

Clarke allowed herself to be led, anchoring her hands on the tops of Lexa's thighs and raking her nails over the flesh to signal that she was okay with the guiding way Lexa pulled at her hair, tugging on the locks like reins.

She complied to Lexa's wishes, using her tongue to probe Lexa's center, circling the opening and lapping at the juices flowing out of it. No matter how many times they tasted each other, Clarke could never get over how tangy Lexa was, how sweet she could taste when Clarke really paid attention to the flavors. She needed more of it, and she pushed her tongue deeper inside Lexa to coax more juices out of her, make Lexa drip all over her face.

Lexa was whimpering, trying to be quiet for the sake of the neighbors, but not having the self-control she usually did first thing in the morning with a mind so clouded by lust. Her body was still more awake than her mind was and her teeth were sawing at her bottom lip, grinding against the skin almost as forcefully as her hips were against Clarke's mouth. She parted her lips only to breathe unevenly, breaths rugged and interrupted by faint whispers of, "Clarke."

Clarke used that as encouragement, thrusting her tongue repeatedly into Lexa’s core with more force. She wanted so badly to tease her, to dirty talk Lexa into screaming her name, but her mouth was a bit preoccupied and she needed Lexa to cum sooner rather than later. She doubled her efforts as Lexa dug short nails into the back of her scalp, scraping her tongue along the lining of Lexa’s walls and vibrating her tongue side to side before curling it upwards into her g-spot.

Lexa came with a loud, muffled groan and an arch of her back, and Clarke put as much weight into her hands as she could to keep Lexa’s hips splayed flat against the bedspread and her tongue buried inside Lexa’s cunt as she rode out her orgasm. Clarke made it her personal mission to clean up the mess she’d made, and Lexa appreciated the way Clarke never left her sex until her breathing had straightened out once again and she could no longer say she wasn’t fully awake.

Clarke slid back up Lexa's body, kissing innocently along the way, leaving little pecks across her breast bone and her shoulder and finally her cheek. Clarke settled herself against Lexa's side, head resting on the crook of her shoulder as Lexa shifted a little, cradling her gently.

"Thank you," Lexa said. "I need that."

"I love to be of service," Clarke enthused, meeting Lexa halfway for a kiss on the lips.

They kissed momentarily, pressure light as they savored the skin on skin contact. It was nice, relaxing, and Clarke wanted the moment to last forever.

Lexa's phone had other plans.

"This again?" Clarke sighed, but deep down she was just happy Lexa's phone had only buzzed once. It was a text message. Not a phone call.

Lexa reached awkwardly for the phone, struggling to keep Clarke under the wing of her arm as she extended her body. When she retrieved it, Clarke found herself looking at the screen unconsciously, but as soon as she saw Anya's name she felt like she was violating Lexa's privacy. She couldn't bring herself to read the text. She turned her head away and closed her eyes and kissed the smooth skin of Lexa's shoulder again for good measure.

Lexa was so quick to put her phone back down that Clarke wasn't even sure she had bothered to reply to Anya. Apparently there were no more grave matters to attend to at the office. At least that was good news.

"It's 7:15. I don't like being behind."

"No behinds?" Clarke asked. "I'll check anal off the Yes, No, Maybe list, then."

Lexa was quiet for a moment. "I didn't say that."

Clarke opened one eye. Lexa was staring back at her tentatively.

"Want me to put it in the maybes?"

"Maybe."

"Duly noted."

"We have to get up," Lexa reiterated, still blushing slightly but more adamant this time. She shrugged Clarke off of her carefully, and Clarke didn't mind the view she had of Lexa rising from the sheets fully nude. Lexa looked down regretfully, like she hated leaving bed or maybe just leaving Clarke. "Wanna shower together?"

Clarke raised an eyebrow, stretching and letting the sheets fall around her, exposing nearly as much of her nudity as Lexa. "That eager for round two already?"

"No funny business," Lexa stressed. "It'll save us time."

"Yeah, drooling all over yourself because I'm naked in front of you is a real quick way to shower."

"I mean it, Clarke. No distracting me or else we'll have to take separate showers and I don't think either of us wants that. Plus we don't have the time."

Lexa was right. Clarke would rather be able to look and not touch than to not be able to look at all. She could behave herself. Probably.

The shower was quick. Two people bathing together not only saved water, it saved time, too, and they were out of the bathroom in no time, only to be back in it to do their hair and put on makeup.

Clarke was enjoying watching Lexa put her eyeliner on until Lexa's phone buzzed on the sink counter. Clarke dreaded the noise. Lexa unlocked her phone just as quickly as she had earlier.

"Anya again?" Clarke asked.

"No. I asked Dante if he needed anything for the meeting, and he texted me his coffee order. We're stopping at Starbucks on the way."

Clarke was relieved. "Cage still wants me to get him coffee after what happened last time? What does he want?"

"Caramel frappuccino."

"Iced coffee," Clarke noted. "Smart move. You know I'm not getting him a caramel frappuccino right?"

"Oh, I know," Lexa said, straightening the collar of her blazer in the mirror. "Just make sure you get Dante's order right."

"Will do. What do you want?"

"You're the Starbucks aficionado. Your call. Just don't poison it."

"No promises." Clarke would get her something good, something so Lexa that Lexa would abandon her pretentious local coffee shop appreciation to hop on the Starbucks train with her. With the complimentary hotel coffee they’d been forced to drink all vacation as comparison, Lexa was bound to think anything from Starbucks was superior.

Still, Clarke wanted to impress her.

/

The building Dante worked in was taller than almost anything that wasn't a national landmark in D.C. and the elevator ride Clarke and Lexa took up to the board room was almost longer than their flight. It made the elevator ride in their hotel look speedy, but they couldn’t spend the time making out. They weren’t alone. Lexa might be okay with making out in the back of a cab when she was tipsy, but she wasn’t going to display any physical affection cramped in the back of an elevator mere minutes before a meeting with her boss. Clarke didn’t even try it.

It also didn’t help that they sipped on their cups the entire way up. Lexa could barely put hers down, and Clarke didn’t think she could pry the drink out of her hands to make out with her even if she wanted to. She just hoped that Lexa was so persistently drinking from her straw because Clarke had made a good choice in coffee and not just because Lexa needed whatever caffeine boost she could get her hands on before working all morning.

The boardroom they arrived at was encased in glass, similar to Lexa's office, but on a much larger scale. Dante welcomed them with a warm smile as they sat down at the table, a solid strip of rectangular wood surrounded by more chairs than the four of them would ever need. Clarke debated using them as footstools and have one for both of her feet, but she didn’t think Dante would appreciate that much. Cage’s lip scar twitched at them as he said his hellos, and Clarke couldn't tell if it was a weak smile or a scowl.

Clarke passed around their drinks from the tray in her hand like a waitress before sitting as Dante stood to greet Lexa and shake her hand from across the table. He sunk back into the seat beside his son after grabbing his drink from Clarke, and Clarke sat next to Lexa, opposite Cage who snatched his coffee out of Clarke’s hands like he'd been waiting for it for hours.

Cage tucked the end of the straw into the pocket of his cheek, and Clarke watched expectantly, waiting for his grimace of disapproval. She was not disappointed.

"What is this?" he asked, swallowing like he had glass in his throat and glaring at Clarke across the table. He slammed the cup onto the hardwood. "I ordered caramel."

"Caramel?" Clarke feigned ignorance. "Crap, I thought the text said cotton candy. I should have paid more attention." She looked apologetically towards Lexa, as if she was the boss whose wrath she would face once the day was over. She didn’t want to give Cage the satisfaction of sympathy. Or fear.

"I can't drink this!" Cage shouted to nobody in particular. "It's too sugary!"

"I'm real sorry about that," Clarke said, reaching for her own cup as if checking to see if she got her order wrong, too.

Ah. Caramel. Delicious.

Cage picked his cup back up like its contents might have magically changed, only to slam it back down out of frustration. If the thin plastic burst and spilled all over him, Clarke wasn't taking the blame this time. She wasn't cleaning it up either.

"Whatever," he sighed. "I suppose I don't need caffeine today anyway." The remark was sarcastic and Clarke thrived off his bitterness.

"Can we start?" Dante asked, clearly annoyed by his own son's trivial inconveniences.

"Yes," Lexa chimed. "Let's get down to business."

"Does she need to be here?" Cage asked, not saying Clarke's name, but not needing to.

"Do you need to be here?" Lexa retorted, and Clarke tried not to snort out a laugh around straw.

"Yes, I do," Cage defended, looking at Lexa incredulously. "Dad let me help compile the statistics, and he's trusting me to give the presentation on them. I do need to be here. She doesn't. She's just an assistant. Can't she leave? Maybe pick up the correct coffee order while she's gone and come back with it later?"

"Now, now," Dante interrupted. "You're making a big deal out of nothing, Cage. Clarke can stay if she wants. And there's no point in Clarke going out of her way to get more coffee because you can't drink it if you're going to be in the middle of the presentation anyway. Settle down."

Lexa looked pleased. Just when Clarke was about to say that she would be happy to leave because honestly she was barely even an assistant and she would rather be doing anything else, Lexa spoke for her and ruined all of Clarke's hopes of going shopping downtown or eating lunch in a nice place by herself. "She'll stay," Lexa insisted, and Clarke knew she was saying it just to piss off Cage, not because she thought Clarke would actually add anything to the conversation.

Clarke immediately wished she had brought googly eyes to tape over her eyelids so she could nap through the snoozefest this was going to be.

If only she had thought of that beforehand.

The meeting was worse than she thought.

Cage had presence at the front of the room, but that was about all he had going for him. His slideshow could have been made better by a middle schooler, and whatever the hell he was talking about was so uninteresting that Clarke was never happier she'd chose to go into medicine instead of business.

She learned exactly nothing about the company, and she had no idea where Dante and Lexa acquired the skill of deciphering business language. It was almost as bad as legal jargon. Surely they had to be just as lost as she was. But Dante actually looked entertained.

"That was an excellent presentation son," he praised, and Clarke almost felt bad for him because he genuinely meant it. If Dante thought this was enjoyable, the old man had certainly never had any kind of fun in his life. He was even worse than Lexa. "Don't you think so girls?"

Lexa looked like she was going to force her head to nod for Dante's sake no matter how badly it pained her, and Clarke could barely stand to watch the woman beside her be so uncomfortable. At least Lexa had some sense and hated Cage’s presentation just as much as she did. Clarke spoke up for both of them.

"Kinda boring if you ask me," Clarke said honestly.

Cage looked pissed. Dante looked surprised. Lexa looked at Clarke like she was her hero.

"It's business," Cage spat. "An assistant wouldn't understand."

"You could still make the PowerPoint a little more interesting," Clarke argued. "I mean, if you were giving this presentation in front of the whole company, not everyone there is going to know as much business jargon as the people who run it. Your employees are going to get bored if you don't keep them engaged, and then everything you say is going to go in one ear and out the other. Just because you can write some numbers on a slide doesn't mean your message is effective."

"I'm not giving this presentation to the whole company," Cage rebuttled. "I'm giving it to my father who has an attention span and an ivy league education. My audience in this room - which doesn't include you, by the way - knows exactly what I'm talking about."

"Ms. Griffin does have a point, son," Dante interjected. "You may be giving presentations to the entire company someday. It would be good to spice things up a little."

Crap. It was good that Dante agreed with her, but he'd also flat out said that Cage had a chance of being in charge someday. Clarke wasn't trying to give Cage tips on how to be a better leader, she was trying to show Dante how Cage was a shitty leader right now.

Lexa's composure was set in stone, but Clarke could tell by the way she clenched her jaw that Lexa had picked up on that little detail, too. Her near-empty cup sweated onto the table for her.

"Yes, Father," Cage agreed, and as nice as it was to see Cage grovel, Clarke almost wished he would have another outburst to show his dad how well he couldn't control his temper. "Now can we talk about these figures or would someone else like to critique my choice of slide transitions?"

Taking none of Clarke's advice, Cage entered another boring rant that Clarke could neither stand to pay attention to nor comprehend. She was starting to realize though that Cage hadn't specifically made so many of his numbers red just to have them clash against the blue background of the slides. The company was just... really not doing well. At all. Even Clarke could see that, and she had no idea what she was looking at.

"As you can see, we need to make some changes. Big ones."

Dante shifted his hands across the table, but nodded solemnly. Lexa didn't say anything as Cage passed out handouts, purposefully handing nothing to Clarke.

"Here's a copy of the budget," Cage said. "Look at it, mark on it, figure out what we can cut. In two days we'll meet back here and discuss what we can change."

Budget cuts? Yikes. Weather Corp. already had no budget. They weren't spending unnecessary money, they weren't even spending enough to cover all their office needs. They couldn’t afford to get rid of anything else, but apparently they couldn’t afford to keep anything they already had either. Clarke just hoped employees weren't part of these cuts. She wouldn't let that happen. She'd make sure Lexa didn't let it happen either.

Dante's face was ashen.. When he dismissed the meeting, something was off about him. He wasn't the cheery man Clarke had met two days ago. He was a shell of his former self, and it didn't go unnoticed to Clarke how unhappy he seemed about the rest of the week. "See you Wednesday," he called as they left, and he made it sound like it would be the last time he saw either of them.

/

"Let's go somewhere."

"I don't feel like going out right now," Lexa answered. "I have a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it."

"You've got all of tomorrow," Clarke reasoned. "And I didn't mean go out. I meant let's go somewhere you want to go. Do some sightseeing. It'll cheer you up." It would cheer Clarke up too. They were both feeling pretty down after that meeting. Understandably, though.

The way Lexa pouted gave away that she wasn't as enthralled with the idea of being a tourist as she was the night she and Clarke had gone to Central Park together. Cage had really killed her mood. That spark of excitement just wasn't there in her eyes anymore, and Clarke missed it. She vowed to bring it back.

"Maybe we can go tomorrow," Lexa told her noncommittally. "I can't justify walking around town if there's work I should be doing."

"You've got to do something for yourself every once in a while," Clarke interjected. "Things can't always be about work."

"This whole trip has been about me so far. And you. We do have to be responsible at some point."

"We can be responsible later. What's something you've always wanted to do? Something you've always wanted to see? The Ellis Island Museum? The MoMA? The Met?"

"How did you know I liked museums?" Lexa asked.

"Please. I'm rich. I meet your type all the time. Haughty business women who believe themselves to be the epitome of etiquette and intelligence. You like to drink wine and look down on Doritos and you would rather do work instead of take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime free opportunity to explore New York. Of course museums and pretentious, historical artwork are your thing."

Lexa looked vulnerable, like she was unfamiliar with being read so easily, but there was a flash of wild excitement in her eye too, like maybe she appreciated someone understanding her just as much as she hated the foreignness it. Clarke loved the golden glint in the green of her eyes.

"I do want to see the Met," she voiced softly.

It was exactly what Clarke wanted to hear.

"Let's go, then. Get in a cab and see it." Lexa looked almost convinced. She was teetering on the edge, and Clarke just needed to push her. "The budget will still be there tomorrow, and you can't tackle it while you're stressed out. You need a break. You were in a meeting all morning."

Lexa let out a sigh, threading her fingers through the curls on her scalp and nodding gently, to Clarke and herself. "You're right. We can take a little break. I could go for some lunch, too. After all that coffee I'm starving."

"I'll buy you a hot dog," Clarke said. "If there are any vendors unfortunate enough to be working in this snow,” she added. “We’ve got that going for us, I guess. Even if Cage is a dick, at least we don't have to work outside.”

"If I don't figure out this budget, we're all going to be living outside.”

Lexa was stressed, but with a claim like that, she had a reason to be. Still, Clarke knew the cure for her ailments.

"Come on." She patted Lexa's back, leading them both down the street and away from Dante's office. "I'll buy you two hot dogs."

/

Eating two hot dogs was good for calming Lexa’s nerves. Visiting the museum was even better. All of Lexa’s worries were gone by the time they were racing up the terrace steps of the building, and Clarke struggled to keep up with her, only finding her way back to Lexa’s side as Lexa was searching for her wallet in front of the cashier.

"You don't have to pay, you know," Clarke told her. "It's free to get in."

"I'm donating," Lexa shrugged, pulling a couple of bills out of her wallet. "Everyone should be able to see the museum. Donations keep it free, and if I can give a little, it helps."

"Dante doesn't pay you pennies?" Clarke jibbed.

"I'm the president, Clarke," she said simply. "I earn a livable wage, and I'm grateful for that. A lot of my employees don't. I know others aren't as fortunate as me. I try to give back when I can."

Lexa handed her money over and the woman at the ticket booth seemed thankful. She shared a smile with Lexa that Clarke was envious of, though she couldn't pinpoint why she was so unsettled. She dispelled the feeling by reaching into her own back pocket.

"What are you doing?" Lexa asked.

Clarke shrugged. "Donating."

She slipped the woman behind the booth a crisp bill from her own wallet and the woman exchanged the cash for both of their tickets, pleased by Clarke's generosity.

"I didn't mean to guilt trip you into paying," Lexa said regretfully.

Clarke shook her head. "You didn't. You were right. Donations are good."

Clarke was well off. She could afford to spend a few extra bucks where others couldn't. She thought of how Octavia couldn't even afford her own place without Bellamy's help and how Raven could barely afford her own physical therapy. Clarke was lucky. She knew that.

The woman in the ticket booth ushered them out of the line to process the people behind them, and Clarke and Lexa were instantly overwhelmed by the size of the place. There were people everywhere, artworks everywhere. The entire building seemed endless.

"Where do you want to go first?" Clarke asked, hoping Lexa made the decision for her. She was still marveling that her parents hadn't managed to lose her when they'd brought her here as a child. Everything was a lot bigger than she remembered it being.

Lexa inhaled deeply, shifting her eyes around like it was just as much for her to take in, too. She was about as helpful to Clarke as Clarke was to her as her assistant. "Everywhere."

"You better call Dante and tell him we're going to be about a week late to that Wednesday meeting, then." There was too much. They were never going to be able to see it all before they left, let alone in one afternoon.

"Have you been here before?" Lexa asked, picking up on the fact that Clarke seemed to know this wasn't a day trip.

"Yeah, but it was a long time ago," Clarke answered. "My parents took me when I was a kid. At ten I didn't really appreciate all Van Gogh did for us when he chopped off his own ear."

"Do you appreciate it now?" Lexa asked.

"Of course. I almost went to art school, you know."

"Really?" Lexa said surprised. "Why'd you go to medical school instead."

Clarke shrugged. "Because my mom's a doctor. Because I've wanted to be a doctor for about as long as I've wanted to draw. Because working for the hospital pays better than being a starving artist and it gives me more opportunity to help people. I like helping people. I like caring for patients the same way you like caring for your employees."

Lexa nodded, accepting the reasoning. "I didn't think doctors could be art critics."

"Of course we can," Clarke joked. "Who do you think picks out all the paintings on the walls?"

Lexa grimaced. "Doctor's' office paintings are hardly high-brow."

"If I ever have my own practice, I'll pick better art," Clarke promised. "Or draw my own. Though we don't need a lot of paintings in the operating room." Maybe she could change that. Paint something cheerful for her mom to put on the wall to look at during her next surgery, something that would give her hope.

There were stranger ideas.

"Let's go find Van Gogh, then," Lexa decided for them. "See if you like him more now."

Finding a map was almost as hard as finding anything in the Met without a map, but no matter how many times Clarke insisted she could pull one up on her phone and save time, Lexa wanted a physical copy to take home with her.

It was frustrating but kind of cute, too. If it was anyone else, that whole tourist attitude would annoy Clarke, but something about the thought of Lexa going home and framing the cheap paper map of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that she got on her first trip to New York was endearing. Lexa was so strict and experienced and professional all the time that it was nice to see her giddy to try something new for a change. None of her employees got to see this side of her, and Clarke couldn't imagine why she'd been so scared of Lexa that first time they met, or why everyone else at work had been so scared for her. She was glad she was the one who got to see this side of Lexa. It was a side she was pretty sure Anya was the only other person granted access to.

Maybe the two of them could bond over that. Maybe Clarke could be friends with Anya when she came back to work at the D.C. office.

Or not.

The more she thought about befriending Anya, the less she liked the idea.

She also kept forgetting that she didn't have this job anymore. She would never be able to see Lexa on breaks and sneak off to the bathroom to have a quickie with her. They'd never to be able to sit down in the break room and have lunch together the way they could share meals in their hotel room now. The realization was bumming her out. It was also starting to become less and less about her friends or helping Octavia. It was Lexa she would miss most about her shitty office job.

That was stupid to think about, though. Clarke had never even seen Lexa at work before that Christmas Party. It wasn't like they'd be working side by side now just because they knew who the other was. Clarke had a completely different job than Lexa.

Had being the operative word.

Weather Corp. was in Clarke's past.

She was starting to regret giving Lexa that stupid gag gift. She didn't though, not really. It was the only reason they knew each other, and knowing Lexa was the only reason Clarke wanted to stay. It was ironic how things had worked out that way.

Sometimes Fate was a bitch.

Clarke was quiet as Lexa scanned the map, making careful decisions about which directions they should take to take them where. She hadn't lied, though. The first stop was Van Gogh in the European Art Collection. All for Clarke. She was touched.

Van Gogh was neat, but Clarke found herself more interested in the artists she hadn't heard of. Most of these painters had names she couldn't even pronounce, let alone recognize, and yet they all had as much talent as anyone on Clarke's list of her most revered artists. Clarke liked everything here. Each and every work spoke to her. She wanted to paint something that could belong in a museum like this someday.

"This looks like you in the morning," Lexa said, pointing to a painting of a woman lying naked on her back against the bed sheets. Clarke could see the resemblance. If she ignored the raging bush.

"This one looks like both of us in the morning," Clarke countered. "And at night. And in the middle of the day sometimes."

Lexa observed the picture closely, two naked women clutching each other intimately. Just Lexa's style. Except for the swan in the corner watching them. "I don't recall having a threesome with fowl," Lexa quipped.

"You were really drunk," Clarke joked. "But, hey, at least it was a swan, right? Better than waking up next to an ugly duckling."

Lexa was pretty sure Clarke was at least partially referring to herself, to the night they first hooked up and they'd both been drunk. She wanted to set the record straight. "You're much prettier than a swan. I prefer waking up to you."

In reality it probably didn't take much to convince Lexa a person was more sexually attractive than a bird. But Clarke was flattered anyway. Swans were beauty incarnate.

Until, of course, Clarke Griffin came along.

Clarke had a new favorite painting. She admired it for a few moments longer.

"Can I squeeze your breast like that?" she asked, groping the air and miming the women in the painting.

"Not in public," Lexa said. "I don't want to get kicked out of the Met. Maybe when we get back to the hotel."

That was fair enough.

"Can we recreate that one instead?" Clarke asked, pointing in a different direction.

Lexa followed her line of sight.

"That's a woman kissing her baby."

"Yeah, I want to make out with you, baby."

If equating a mother and her child to a romantic relationship hadn't put Lexa off, that pick up line combined with the dramatic way Clarke kissed the air certainly did. She turned up her nose at Clarke's joke, too highbrow for her level of comedy. "You're insufferable sometimes."

"You like it," Clarke defended.

"I don't," Lexa insisted.

"You like kissing me," Clarke rebuked. "You already admitted that yesterday, and you can't take it back now. I know you're still thinking about kissing me, even if you say you don't appreciate my sense of humor."

Lexa hummed disagreeably, but made no move to push Clarke away when she leaned in for the kiss, smiling lips pressing lightly against Lexa's.

It was short, sweet. That, Lexa liked. Even if she had to put up with Clarke's puns to get it.

She could suffer through the bad jokes any day.

/

They spent more time in the museum than they probably should have. They were both thinking it, but neither of them cared. They were exhausted, but in a good way, a much different way than they were when they'd left Dante's office. It was like being tired after sex or a long work out. It was good. Refreshing. Nothing like the sense of dread that came with a bad business meeting, and it was safe to say the museum had kept that off their mind all day.

When they left it, they didn't really want to leave. Clarke wanted to make the most of their last moments on the steps, lingering outside of the building just to marvel at its existence. She pulled out her phone without even thinking about it.

"Let me take your picture," she told Lexa, bringing the phone up to her face to fit Lexa in frame, the entrance to the museum behind her in the background.

"I don't want a bunch of pictures of me on the internet," Lexa warned, still smiling from her high. She was glowing. Clarke wanted to take the picture before she stopped. She snapped a couple.

"I won't put any online," Clarke promised. "What am I going to do? Make an album on Facebook titled 'Winter Vacay With My Boss 2015 Woohoo!'?"

Lexa smiled wider. Clarke took another picture.

"What do you need them for then?"

Clarke hadn't really thought about that. She just wanted to capture the moment, to capture Lexa's beauty. They'd been looking at some of the world's most esteemed art for hours now and Lexa in this moment was still the most gorgeous thing she'd seen all day. She wanted the pictures for herself. So she could remember the trip. So she could remember Lexa.

"I'll send them to you," she said. "You can keep them for your scrapbook. Never forget the first time you visited New York."

Lexa seemed content with that. She smiled again and looked into the lens.

Clarke wasn't sure she could ever stop taking photos.

Chapter Text

Clarke was starting to get the hang of this whole assistant thing.

Or maybe she was just really good at making sandwiches.

"I never thought as a twenty-five year old woman I'd be putting chips on my sandwich,” Lexa revealed. “I feel like I'm nine again."

"Nine year olds have good taste in sandwiches," Clarke excused.

Lexa hummed in agreement as she chomped down on the bread, the Doritos shattering beneath the force. Normally Lexa was a neat eater, and even at the bar Lexa had eaten her meal slowly, but now she snarfed down the sandwich like it was her last meal and she was on death row. She was either really hungry or just in desperate need of brain food. Probably the latter.

They'd both been working on the budget since they first got up. Well. Lexa had. And she showed no signs of slowing. Clarke was trying to be as supportive as she could. The most she could do was make Lexa lunch, and Clarke actually welcomed the distraction. It was better than helplessly watching Lexa struggle. At least she was doing something to help.

"This is impossible," Lexa said, and it wasn't the first time she'd made the claim that morning. She swallowed the last few bites of her sandwich like it was a lump in her throat.

"You've got this," Clarke cheered. "You can do it." They didn't have any other options. Lexa had to find a way to do this, no matter how much work it took.

She was prepared to be here all night.

"I just don't know what to cut. Most of the miscellaneous expenses are things like health insurance and software subscriptions, and I already cut heating and air conditioning last year. I guess we can say goodbye to the Christmas parties. And the Halloween parties. And paid vacations. But something tells me that's still not going to be enough for Cage."

Yikes. That was nothing. Paid vacations might make a dent somewhere, but judging by the last Christmas party, Lexa's budget for office holidays was about $20 per event. That was enough to buy, like, half of a new keyboard.

"I may have to take a pay cut," Lexa sighed. "That's the only way to keep everyone on. Otherwise we either have to fire a bunch of minimum wage workers or a smaller handful of the managers. But I don't want to do that either. Who would I cut? Monroe just bought a new house, Fox is helping support her parents, and Nathan has a kid. I can't put any of them out of the work force."

"Nathan as in Nathan Miller?" Clarke asked. "He has a kid?"

"Yes. A daughter, I believe. He showed me pictures of her. Are you friends with him?"

"Yeah," Clarke answered. "He's sort of a friend of a friend. I just didn't know he had a daughter. Now there's even more reason I don't want him to be fired. Please don't cut him."

"We want the same things, Clarke. I won't."

Now Clarke wanted to meet this kid, to get to know Miller better, too. Nathan would be a good dad. So would Monty. They'd both be good parents so long as they both had jobs. Things were just starting to get serious between them; Octavia had kept her up to date on all the office gossip through texts, and Clarke didn't want to see their relationship fail just because they couldn't support each other.

She didn't want to see Lexa unable to support herself either.

"I'm sorry you might have to give up some of your own money," Clarke said. "That sucks."

"It's better than the company going under and me not having a job at all," Lexa reasoned.

"You'd find another job," Clarke said. "You're smart and you've been doing this for years. You could work anywhere you wanted to."

"I want to work here," Lexa said.

Clarke realized she did too. Somewhere in this mess she'd actually started caring about Weather Corp. Not nearly as much as Lexa, though. She was seriously attached to the place, and between Cage and the stress of running a failing business, Clarke wasn’t exactly sure why.

“Why Weather?” she asked. “There are tons of other companies in D.C. that are more successful and probably pay better, too. Wouldn’t you rather work there?”

“I like it here,” Lexa said. “I owe it to Dante. He gave me a job when no one else would, and I want to be able to do that for someone else someday. I’d be sad to leave Dante. Or see him go. I can't even imagine changing jobs right now."

"I thought we were becoming more comfortable with this whole changing thing," Clarke reminded her, mind flashing back to the two of them spilling their life stories in Central Park. "You flew for the first time, got drunk on the first night of your business trip, and slept with your assistant. You tried Starbucks and Cool Ranch Doritos. You're doing all sorts of new stuff to get out of your comfort zone. Change is good sometimes. You could deal with a new job if you had to."

"Yes, but I don't want to have to," Lexa stressed, tone harsh before seeing the frown on Clarke's face and softening. "Thank you, though. You have pushed my boundaries this trip. Even if I don't always like it, and even if my work is suffering from it at the moment because I'm never going to meet my deadline for this budget by tomorrow morning, I suppose it has helped my personal life. I never would have risked doing some of that stuff if it weren't for you. So. Thank you."

Clarke's heart swelled with pride, and she smiled genuinely at Lexa who was still staring at Clarke instead of the paperwork on her desk. Part of her wanted to tell Lexa to get back to work. A bigger part of her wanted to keep up their conversation.

"I'm glad to hear that," Clarke said. "Thanks for making me go on this trip with you. I've learned some stuff, too. You might have even fixed my sleep schedule. I don't think I've woken up before nine in five years. I didn't even know the world still existed that early in the day."

Lexa laughed. "I like morning. It's quiet, peaceful, good for focus. I can get a lot of work done if I try. Except, of course, for today, apparently."

Lexa let out a puff of air and Clarke reached out to pat her back encouragingly. Mentioning work was only stressing Lexa out more. Telling her she'd get it done for the millionth time that morning wasn't going to help any. It was time to change tactics, take a different approach: blame someone else for their problems instead of trying to solve them.

"It sucks that Cage is making you do this. You're trying to come up with a viable plan, when he's probably just X'ing out the entire page and writing under it 'Build a new foundation. Literally. Tear the entire office building to the ground and start fresh, never mind that other companies also work in the same building.'"

Lexa laughed again, and Clarke could feel her shoulders relaxing. She hadn't realized her hand was still on Lexa's back, but she didn't pull it away, just let her arm rest against the head of Lexa's chair as the muscles softened beneath her touch.

"Cage is way too intense,” Clarke added. “He needs to get laid or something. Maybe having his dick sucked would chill him out a bit."

"Maybe having my dick sucked would chill me out a bit," Lexa joked. Clarke bit her lip, kind of wishing it wasn’t a joke.

"Just so you know, I'd totally suck your dick if you had one. I've been told I'm pretty great at that. Ask any of my ex-boyfriends. Then again, I don't know a guy who's ever complained about getting a blow job, but I'm sure my skills are far above satisfactory."

Lexa blushed slightly and averted her gaze back to the papers, but her eyes failed to absorb any of the information written on them. She kept her eyes purposefully locked onto the desk. “Clarke?” she asked tentatively. “Can you get something out of my suitcase for me?"

Clarke was out of her seat in no time, ready to serve in any way she could. "Sure, what do you need?"

"I believe it's on the bottom," Lexa told her. "You'll know it when you see it."

That was ominous enough to give Clarke some pause. She suddenly remembered how nervous Lexa had been when dealing with airport security, like she knew she was doing something wrong and was afraid of getting caught. She hadn't smuggled a weapon onto the plane, had she? Surely Clarke wasn't going to find a gun and a box of bullets with Cage's name on them buried at the bottom of Lexa's suitcase. She recalled Lexa saying very specifically that she didn't need Cage dead. But this trip wasn't exactly going according to plan. Maybe Lexa had changed her mind. Clarke was too intrigued not to look.

Lexa's suitcase was packed like an engineer had designated each and every piece of clothing to fit together perfectly within the confines of the box. Everything from her socks to her leggings were organized and packed tight, and there was a clear divide between Lexa's half of the suitcase and Anya's. Clarke avoided the latter half, not caring to see what other pairs of underwear Anya had left at Lexa's apartment. She assumed whatever Lexa was looking for was on her own side anyway. Carefully she removed the clothing, leaving them folded the way they were in the case as she set them on the bedspread and slowly dug her way towards the bottom.

Clarke didn't know what she expected to uncover, but this wasn't it.

Lexa had brought the dildo.

She quickly spun around to question Lexa about why she had this with her, only to find Lexa staring back at her with the answer already on her tongue.

"I was going to give it back to you. I can't keep it at the office, and I certainly wasn't going to bring it home with me. I thought maybe you would be able to return it and get your money back. Now, however... if you’d like to use it, we can."

Clarke didn't even have to think about it.

"Please tell me you have scissors so I can open this thing."

"Of course I do, I'm a lesbian," Lexa said, sounding mildly offended. "They're in my bathroom bag."

Clarke raced to the bathroom like she needed the scissors to cut the fuse on a bomb instead of the plastic packaging wrapped around the dildo. She was just as quick to free it, and for the first time Clarke could actually test what the toy felt like. It was squishy, but firm. It's silicone gave way to her touch, but retained enough of its rigidity that she could easily use it to pleasure herself. Or Lexa.

After marveling for a moment at the cool feel of the bright red cylinder in her palm, she carried it out of the restroom for Lexa to observe, waving it high on the air like an Olympic torch. Lexa laughed again, because seriously how could anyone not? It was a giant red dick for Christ's sake. But she stared at the phallus in wonder, too, like she was excited for what it could entail.

Clarke was right there with her.

"Have you ever used one before?" Clarke asked.

Lexa nodded. "Yes. I first tried strap-ons with Costia. Anya also has a few. I didn't bring my harness with me, though. I didn’t assume I would need it."

"Me either."

"You've used them before, too, I take it?"

"Strap-ons, yes," Clarke clarified. "I've been with girls who had them, but I don't actually own any myself. Well," she corrected. "Except this one. I bought two of these when I got them, but I haven't used mine yet."

"Do you want to use it now?" Lexa asked, careful not to sound too eager, though Clarke could sense the anticipation laced on her tongue.

"Do you mean now now or now later?" Clarke asked.

Lexa shrugged. "Now whenever you want."

"I thought you were supposed to be working?" Clarke taunted. "You don't have time to be shoving a dildo inside of me when you’ve got a budget to balance."

"Who said you were going to be the one with the dildo inside them?"

"Because I'm the one more familiar with dicks inside of them,” Clarke shot back. “But we can take turns if you want."

"I'd like that."

Lexa blushed furiously, even more so than she normally did when the conversation turned to sex, and even though Lexa claimed she's done this before, something about it was still fairly novel for her.

"Does it weird you out that it's shaped like an actual penis?” Clarke asked. “I know you've used strap-ons before, but you can get dildos that don't look exactly like male genitalia. I can't imagine this is a lesbian's first choice."

"It doesn't bother me," Lexa answered, scrutinizing the life-like mold in Clarke’s hand. "It's not like it's the real thing. And it can't be that reminiscent of it. I may not have seen many naked men in my time, but I don't think their genitals are supposed to be that bright red unless they have some kind of STI.”

This time Clarke was the one to laugh. The dildo did kind of look like it might be diseased. She observed the phallus in a new light, looking it over once more and rolling it between her palms in a gesture that looked much more like she was trying to give a hand job than she intended. Catching Lexa staring so intently at her movements was merely coincidental.

"Does it weird you out that I've been with men before?" Clarke asked. "I can't tell if you're turned on or freaked out right now. I’m hoping it’s the former."

"The thought you in any sexual situation is... appealing," Lexa decided. "I don’t care if it’s with a man or a woman or anything else. I don't care who you've slept with before me. You're hot. You're even hotter when you're having sex."

That was a compliment Clarke would take any day.

"Want a hand job, then?" Clarke asked, comically stroking the shaft of the dildo and raising her eyebrows one at a time. Lexa's eyes were lidded with something Clarke could only identify as lust, but still they managed to stare intensely at Clarke's hands, no matter how flippant she was trying to be with the motion.

Clarke was learning a lot here.

"I believe I was promised a blow job," Lexa reminded her, stopping Clarke in her tracks.

"I didn't promise anything," Clarke teased.

"You said, and I quote, 'I’d totally suck your dick if you had one.' Well," Lexa shrugged. "I have a dick now."

Check mate. Lexa should have been a lawyer.

"You got me," Clarke caved. "Now if only you could find some fine print to get you out of lowering Weather's budget."

Lexa groaned. "Don't remind me about work. I'm dreading this meeting. I hate that I'm going to have to spend all night on this when nothing I have to say will ever convince Cage to stray from his own plans anyway."

"Sounds like you need a break," Clarke said, tapping the head of the dildo against her chin thoughtfully. Lexa looked at her like she knew what that smirk on Clarke's face meant all too well. Only tonight Clarke's plans didn't involve getting lost in an art museum.

"Are you implying what I think you are?"

"Are you thinking that I should give you a blow job under this desk?"

Lexa was speechless, but actions spoke louder than words. Clarke threw her own legs off her chair, planting her knees on the carpet and situating herself between Lexa and the desk, dildo in hand the whole time. It wasn't until Lexa scooted her chair back that Clarke slowed down.

"This is silly," Lexa said. "You can't actually give me a blow job. I won't be able to feel it."

"No, but you can watch. I thought I was hot in any sexual situation."

"You got me."

"So let me give you a blowjob."

Lexa still looked hesitant, but she wasn't vocalizing any more 'no's. Clarke figured they better do this the right way.

"What's your safeword?" she asked.

"Safeword."

Clarke didn't register that that wasn't a question. "Yeah, safeword. You know that thing you shout when someone is doing something you'd rather they not be doing?"

"No, I mean my safeword is 'safeword,'" Lexa clarified.

Clarke rolled her eyes.

"That's the most boring, unoriginal safeword I've ever heard in my life. Why am I not surprised?"

"What's your safeword?"

"Atherosclerosis," Clarke said effortlessly.

Lexa was quiet for a moment. "Well, you're right, that did give me pause. Nothing says turn off quite like heart disease."

Clarke hummed in agreement. "Sex is a good way to combat it, though," she winked. "Great exercise. It gets your heart rate up. And your dick up." Clarke set the dildo base-first on the chair, letting it stand at attention between Lexa's legs. Lexa chuckled again.

"I don't trust myself to say atherosclerosis properly," Lexa disclosed, mouth struggling to form the word even then. "If I just say stop will you stop?"

Clarke kissed Lexa's clothed knee assuredly. "Of course."

"Then I guess you can give me a blow job," she consented, most of the reluctance gone from her voice.

Clarke smiled happily. "Good. Now take off your pants."

Lexa relaxed as Clarke carried out her own commands, setting the dildo down in the seat of the chair and hooking her fingertips along the tops of Lexa's jeans, pulling them down Lexa's thighs and past the legs of the chair until Lexa was able to kick them off from around her ankles, sending them flying farther beneath the desk than Clarke was sitting and leaving Lexa in nothing but her underwear from the waist down.

Clarke scooted herself closer to the chair until she was pressed against the wood and able to wrap Lexa's legs around her shoulders. She ignored the dildo momentarily, using her thumb to stroke along the outside of Lexa's panties, feeling the heat of her sex seep through the cotton and into her hand. She rubbed soft circles around the spot where her clit would be, and even though she could feel Lexa twitch beneath her for more, she never took off Lexa's panties.

When Lexa's clit hardened beneath her thumb, she grabbed the dildo with her other hand, positioning it between Lexa's legs so that it was pressed directly against her sex, only her underwear separating the phallus from her skin. Clarke kept a constant grip on the toy's shaft, holding it in place and keeping it steady as she leaned forward and took the tip in her mouth.

Clarke's eyes glanced up at Lexa, both to give Lexa more reason to watch and to make sure that Lexa's face didn't reveal any unspoken hesitation. Lexa stared back with glossy eyes and mouth unhinged in a small O, and Clarke took the dildo farther down her throat, sucking past the head and down to the top of the shaft as Lexa watched on in awe, pulling Clarke's hair back as it tumbled into her face.

Clarke quickly became more bold, popping the cock of her mouth to run her tongue down the length of it, swiping over the head and down past the shaft to the base where Lexa's balls would be if she had any. Lexa moaned quietly, and Clarke couldn't help but let her own throat mirror the vibration, the sound of pleasure muffled as she placed the dick back into her mouth, letting the thickness of the shaft slide down her tongue as it stuffed the back of her throat. Despite her efforts, she struggled to take the whole thing. None of her ex-boyfriends had prepared her to deepthroat anything nearly twice as big as some of them, but, if her squirming was any indication, Lexa didn't seem to notice the issue.

Clarke pulled away for air and to get a better look at Lexa, frazzled and pale above her with legs spread wider than Clarke remembered separating them. Clarke eyed her knowingly, smirk never leaving her face. "You do think this is hot," she accused.

"I think you're hot," Lexa denied. Clarke wasn't having any of it.

"You're like those guys that get off on watching their wives fuck other men, aren't you? You totally want to watch me suck a dick."

"I don't. I only like it because it's me you're doing it to. I wouldn't want to watch you sleep with someone else."

"No threesomes?" Clarke asked sadly. "You don't want to call up Anya and have both of us on you at once? She could bring the harness," she sing-songed playfully, coming across much more willing to go through with this plan than she actually was. Would she ever have a threesome with Lexa? Maybe. Would she ever have a threesome with Anya? When Hell froze over.

"I don't know if you and Anya would get along," Lexa admitted. Somehow Clarke already knew that. "You're too similar. I think you'd both just be fighting for control the whole time."

"So we could have hot hate sex," Clarke compromised. "And you can watch."

"I told you, I don't want to watch."

"This wet patch on your underwear says otherwise." Clarke hooked a finger beneath the material, scraping across the outskirts of Lexa's lips as she pulled the fabric towards her then released it, the underwear slapping back against Lexa's cunt with a satisfying snap that made Lexa squirm all the more, whimper slightly no matter how hard she tried to repress the noise deep inside her throat.

“How about we take this to the bed?”

The most Lexa could muster was a nod as Clarke rose to her feet, the pattern of the carpet indented into her knees where she was resting on them. She rubbed the skin smooth before taking Lexa's hand, helping her off the chair and guiding her the few feet over to the bed. Lexa shed the rest of her clothes on the way there, tossing her shirt and bra neatly over the back of the desk chair, but leaving her underwear on for Clarke to take off herself.

As soon as she was near naked, Lexa set off to even the playing field, undressing Clarke with expert speed that came from days of doing this now, tearing off Clarke's clothes to reveal the supple bulge of her breasts and the perfect skin of her thighs. No matter how many times she was in this position, Lexa could never get enough of Clarke, would never not gawk in amazement as she disrobed before her, and Clarke got nearly as much thrill out of watching Lexa watch her as Lexa did doing the watching. She liked the way Lexa gaped at her, eyes wide and mesmerized, and Clarke rewarded her by slipping a hand down the front of her dampened underwear as they stood beside the bed.

"You're so wet for me," Clarke reveled, diving her fingers into the pool between Lexa's thighs and letting them swim amongst the juices for a moment as Lexa bit her lip and tried not to moan. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised," Clarke told herself. "It takes a lot to ruin a pair of panties. I hope you've packed a couple of spares. It'd be a shame if you had to go commando."

Running drenched fingers over Lexa's clit and spreading her cum across the length of Lexa's sex, probably wasn't helping the soaked panties situation, but Clarke didn't care. She needed Lexa as wet as possible, wanted to see the evidence of her arousal staining the front of the thin black material around her hips to know that she was ready for what was to come.

With a bit more rubbing, Clarke could not only see Lexa's arousal, but smell it, too, and the heady scent of Lexa filled the air as Clarke dropped to her knees again, sliding the soaked material down Lexa's thighs with her.

"Lay on the bed," Clarke commanded, standing again and twirling Lexa's underwear around her index finger. The smell was even more potent up close and Clarke was forced to drape the underwear across the back of the wooden desk chair with the rest of Lexa's clothes before she became too tempted to stick her face in, get a whiff of Lexa straight from the source.

Lexa killed no time in lying flat against the mattress, cool, silk sheets conforming to the slope of her spine and the curve of her ass as she settled into the bedspread, waiting for Clarke to join her and give another command.

Clarke retrieved the dildo and climbed atop Lexa and the mattress, hovering the weight of her body over Lexa's as she leaned down to kiss her, tongue scraping her bottom lip and prying entrance into Lexa's mouth. They kissed for a moment, heavy and opened-mouthed until Lexa wrapped a leg around Clarke's waist and Clarke's arms started to give out beneath her. Lexa whined in protest at the separation of their lips, but Clarke made up for it by biting at Lexa's bottom lip and whispering into the flesh, "Do you want my dick inside of you, Lexa?"

"Yes," Lexa gasped, and Clarke kissed her again in reward.

"Spread your legs for me."

Lexa obeyed, rotating her hips outward and exposing her sex to the air as Clarke laid down beside her, placing the dildo back against her lips where she sucked the still damp head into her mouth to wet it again, prepare Lexa for an easy entrance. If Clarke had known this was going to happen, she would have bought Lexa a set of lubes instead of soaps as her second Christmas present.

"If I go too fast tell me to slow down," Clarke warned. Lexa nodded her head in consent.

Carefully Clarke positioned the head of the dildo near Lexa's entrance, twirling the phallus and coating the circumference of the tip in Lexa's juices before running it down the length of Lexa's slit, the underside of the head scraping against Lexa's twitching clit.

"Please," Lexa begged, and Clarke figured there was no possible way Lexa could ever be wetter than she was right now.

She lowered the dildo towards Lexa's center again, this time pushing slowly forward and watching the head disappear inside of Lexa's walls. Lexa groaned from the pressure and Clarke looked up again, making sure she was okay.

"Feel good?" she asked, voice sultry, but compassionate.

Lexa nodded, lips wrapped around her teeth in a harsh bite. "So good. More."

Green-lighted, Clarke pushed forward again, helping Lexa's walls absorb more of the shaft. The insertion was easier this time around. The head was the bulkier portion of the toy, and Lexa was starting to adjust to the foreign feeling of the dildo inside her. With how wet Lexa was, the silicone slid in easily, almost all the way to the base before it was met with resistance. Clarke didn't force it. She pulled it back out part way, only to gently shove it back inside, the veins of the dildo massaging against the ridges of Lexa's walls.

Lexa's eyes were closed in pleasure at this point, head thrown back onto the pillow as she surrendered herself to Clarke, let the woman on top of her do whatever she pleased.

"You're so tight," Clarke praised, paying close attention to the miniscule movements of her wrist but looking back to Lexa every once in a while to gauge Lexa’s reaction or leave a kiss against the side of her neck or her cheek for reassurance. "You’re so wet, too. Hear that?" Beneath the harshness of Lexa's breathing and the pounding of her heart in her ears, Clarke could hear the wet slap of Lexa’s flesh, the noise intensifying the faster Clarke moved.

"I wish I could actually fuck you like this,” Clarke continued. “I bet it feels amazing to be inside you. I could never get this deep with my fingers."

Subconsciously, Lexa's legs opened wider, allowing even easier access that Clarke was quick to take advantage of, testing Lexa's boundaries and pressing the dildo into her down to its base, until only Clarke's fingers at the bottom of the toy prevented it from going all the way in.

Lexa was moaning again, louder than the sound of the toy driving inside of her, and every time Clarke pumped in and out, hitting Lexa's g-spot on each stroke, the whimpers only increased in volume. Clarke almost considered muffling the sounds with a pillow, but she didn't want to cover up the sight of Lexa's face scrunched deliciously in pleasure as she neared her edge. She wanted to watch Lexa cum, and when her face started to unravel, Clarke coaxed her on, giving one final, solid push on the dildo and whispering to Lexa, "Cum for me."

The force of Lexa's orgasm nearly pushed the dildo out of her on its own, but Clarke held it firmly in place, allowing Lexa to ride out her orgasm against the thick of it, her walls stretched around the silicone as they spasmed. Lexa thanked her with another string of moans, and Clarke didn't pull out until Lexa was still against her side, body tense as Clarke exited her even more slowly than she entered. Her body released the dildo with a pop and she let out a solid groan, one not quite as gratifying for Clarke to hear.

"I'm going to be so sore tomorrow," Lexa said, turning her head to smile at Clarke. "So worth it, though."

"I hope you're not too tired yet because it's my turn."

Clarke handed Lexa the dildo to free her hands and take off her own ruined underwear to straddle Lexa, sitting completely naked atop Lexa's hips.

Lexa looked distracted by the sight in front of her. Her eyes attached to Clarke's breasts, and Clarke was forced to tear her eyes away.

"If you don't fuck me now, I'll have no problem taking that dildo off your hands and using it on myself."

The threat knocked Lexa back into reality, and she speedily positioned the dildo between Clarke and herself, letting Clarke do most of the work as she sunk down onto the cock, taking the tip and most of the shaft with ease. Lexa marveled at how easily the dildo slipped inside her.

"Fuck, you must be soaked."

"Watching a hot girl orgasm at your hand will do that to you," Clarke retorted, bouncing gently on the dick held steady by Lexa's hand. "It helps that you already came all over it. Your cum works better than lube."

Clarke's heart picked up at the feeling of the dildo completely inside her, covered in Lexa's juices. She hadn't been fucked this thoroughly in months and she couldn't help it that her movements turned frantic, grinding against the dildo for any friction she could get. She couldn't remember the last time sex felt this good.

(Yes she could. It was yesterday.

Sex was always this good with Lexa.

Every time just seemed to be better than the last.)

Still, she cursed herself for not using this dildo sooner. To think she'd had this experience at home all along and had never taken advantage of it. She'd have to thank Octavia for recommending this to her sometime. After this week, she was going to be back to spending a lot of time pleasuring herself and it was nice to know that she had at least something to look forward to in the sex department back in D.C.

Lexa was speechless as she helped Clarke fuck herself, thrusting the dildo up in time with the sink of Clarke's hips and using her free hand to explore Clarke's chest, cupping each breast as it bounced in her palm. Clarke cursed each time Lexa's thumb grazed a nipple or the dildo hit a particularly sensitive spot inside of her, and it wasn't long before it was getting more and more difficult for her to maintain her cool.

"This feels so good, Lexa," she moaned. "I might come even faster than you did in the shower the other day."

Lexa's hand stalled its motions at the insult and Clarke whined her dissent. "Please don't stop."

Lexa could never be so cruel. She picked up her movements again, increasing her speed twofold and soon Clarke's gratefulness was lost in a sea of expletives and repetitions of Lexa's name. Before long she was coming faster and harder than Lexa, and Lexa had to sit up against the headboard to hold Clarke close to her as her body wracked with spasms.

When Clarke opened her eyes again, Lexa was staring back at her like she was the greatest site in New York. Clarke bumped their foreheads together, keeping their faces close as they kissed lazily between smiles and Lexa extricated the dildo out of Clarke and out from beneath the sheets. Clarke could stay this way forever, poised in Lexa’s lap with their lips permanently attached. Lexa looked like maybe she could, too. Although she looked more contemplative than Clarke, clearly letting her mind race while Clarke tried to slow hers down, absorb the moment while it lasted.

“What are you thinking about?” she asked.

"I kind of wish I hadn't fired you," Lexa admitted, holding Clarke close and leaning in for another peck on the lips. "I'm going to miss you when we leave New York."

All kinds of desperate pleas ran through Clarke's mind in an instant, things like 'we can still meet up' or 'where do you live?' but one detail stuck out most to Clarke, and it was one she'd been sitting on for a few days now. "You know, I never actually got fired. You said you were going to fire me, but if you've changed your mind..." Clarke trailed off, hoping Lexa would fill in the gaps for her.

Lexa scrunched her brow, deep in thought or trying to comprehend exactly what Clarke was getting at. "You want me to keep you on?" Lexa asked, and Clarke mistook her surprise for outrage that Clarke thought she could redeem herself after what she did to be threatened with termination in the first place.

"I know I messed up back at that Christmas party, but Dante hasn't fired me yet, and Cage doesn't have the power to. I know the gag gift was stupid and inappropriate, but what's a dildo between friends?"

Clarke was more nervous for this chance to win her job back than she had been for the initial job interview with Nathan. Lexa made a good show of keeping calm for both of them. "I meant I'm surprised that you actually want the job back,” she clarified. “I recall you making quite a fuss over how much you didn't care about it."

Clarke shrugged, almost embarrassed to admit that she still wanted her job after bashing it so heavily just a couple of weeks ago. She did, though, and she wasn't going to lie to herself or Lexa just to nurse her pride.

"I know I said I didn't need the job, but maybe the extra money will come in handy when I move out. And I know I said I hated it, but it's not the worst thing in the world. There's a lot of things I'd miss." Clarke tried to convince herself that she meant her friends and free coffee in the break room and Christmas parties where she was anonymously given soap, but she was looking right at Lexa when she said it and deep down she knew what was in front of her was what she would miss most of all.

Lexa listened carefully, weighing the decision like it was a task given to her by Dante himself. In her mind, though, there was no doubt what she wanted to do. She left Clarke another kiss.

"Maybe I'll just have to keep you hired, then."

"Yeah?" Clarke asked, hopeful and relieved and feeling way too many things all at once. Too many emotions hit her for her to explore them all individually.

Lexa nodded once, voice still level. "Yeah. I want you here, Clarke. I already told you that. Who knows? I might even promote you to being my actual assistant."

"I think I might like that."

They kissed on it, the lock of lips solidifying the deal more than any handshake ever could.

Clarke was getting her job back.

Finally, she had something to look forward to when she went back to D.C. Finally, she had solved this problem of never being able to see Lexa again. Finally, she was happy.

Phones were starting to form a really bad habit of interrupting their good moments.

Only this time, the ringing came from Clarke's.

Clarke threw her head back and let out a groan, not caring how obviously annoyed she was. She didn't even make a move to answer it. She let the phone ring and let Lexa care about it for her.

"Who do you think it is?" Lexa asked, rubbing her hands over Clarke's shoulder blades to soothe her. Clarke relaxed into the touch.

"Telemarketers probably. No one important should be calling me. My mom's on vacation and Octavia's probably at the office. Plus she knows what we're getting up to and I'm sure she wouldn't want to risk interrupting that."

Lexa's forehead knotted, but this time she wasn't just thinking. Clarke had said something to upset her. "You told Octavia about us?"

Clarke could feel Lexa's hands tense along her back, her fingers rigid and her body stiff beneath Clarke's.

Clarke panicked momentarily, but quickly squelched the fear. "Yeah. She won't say anything, though."

Lexa didn't look convinced. "I can't have anyone finding out about us. Same goes for me and Anya."

"She doesn't know about Anya," Clarke assured. "And she won't tell anyone. I promise." Ok maybe that was a lie, but Clarke knew Octavia and she would only tell her friends. She wouldn't spread the rumor around the whole office just to blackmail Lexa. It was the gossip she got a kick out of, the fact that Clarke had managed to screw her boss. Clarke knew the rest of their friends wouldn't say anything either. The secret was safe. Even if it wasn't much of a secret anymore.

"Are you sure?" Lexa asked, and Clarke nodded her head.

"I'm positive. I trust her, Lexa."

That was good enough for Lexa, who nodded softly. "Then I trust her, too. I trust you, Clarke."

That felt nice to hear. It was different, unexpected. Things really had changed since that first time Clarke was called into Lexa's office. Now Clarke liked her job and now Lexa trusted her. Clarke hadn't expected so much to change in so little time. She was thankful for it, though, in a weird way she couldn't exactly name. She was emotional again and it was getting hard to look Lexa in the eye without being overwhelmed. Maybe she was just getting her period. She hoped to god it waited until after this week to strike. She hadn't packed tampons and she didn't want to have to deal with flying and travel and Cage when her vagina was spewing more red liquid than a volcano. Not to mention, she didn't think Lexa would be all that interested in earning her red wings.

Clarke caved and grabbed her phone to distract herself, give her something else to look at that wasn't Lexa, naked and vulnerable in her arms.

The phone had stopped ringing long ago, but whoever it was had left a voicemail. Clarke was fully expecting to hear an automated spiel detailing how she could save money on car insurance, and she was surprised to hear her mother's voice speaking back at her.

"Clarke, call me as soon as you get this. I need to talk to you." Abby didn't sound mad or completely traumatized, but she was a surgeon. She was good at keeping her cool even in life-threatening situations. Part of her job was telling people their loved ones had died on the operating table in her hands. She could disguise panic if she needed to, and Clarke was worried something had happened. She was training to be a doctor too, though. She was going to keep her own cool, no matter how much the threat of potentially bad news was ruining her good moment.

Lexa must have noticed Clarke’s face pale. She didn’t question it when Clarke excused herself. "I better take this. It’s my mom and it sounds like an emergency.” She hated having to pry herself off of Lexa's lap, but Lexa wasn't going anywhere and she couldn't leave her mom hanging when the situation sounded so dire.

Lexa nodded, eyes wide. Clarke didn't want to think about all the emergency phone calls Lexa had heard in her life. She didn't want to know how Lexa found out about what happened to Costia, and she didn't want to have to go through that same horror now with her mother.

Clarke raced to put on clothes, step out into the hallway, and dial Abby's number. It barely rung before her mother picked up the line.

"Hey, Mom. You said to call. What did I do this time?" she joked, hoping to ease some of at least her own tension if not Abby’s.

"You didn't do anything,” Abby told her.” Marcus did."

Oh no. Had their trip gone sour that fast? Was Kane's family really that bad? "What happened?"

Abby took a deep breath before answering and Clarke could tell how hard she was trying to stay calm.

"He proposed."

Clarke was expecting a lot of things. She wasn't expecting that. Not right now. Not this soon. This was great news.

If her heart wasn't already beating so hard from fright and whatever moment she’d just had with Lexa back in the room, it would have raced even faster.

"Mom, that's awesome! Please tell me you said yes."

"I did."

Clarke let out a sigh of relief.

"I just didn't see it coming," Abby confided. “I mean, this whole trip was so impromptu and he already had the ring and had everything planned, and I just... I didn't see it coming."

Apparently unexpected, awesome vacations were common amongst the Griffin women.

Clarke wasn't going to complain.

"I'm really happy for you, Mom,” she said honestly. “Dad would be, too."

"I hope so, Sweetie. I miss your dad sometimes. I really do. But Kane is a good man. If I have to spend the rest of my life with someone other than Jake, I'm glad it's him."

"And me," Clarke reminded her. "You're never going to get rid of me."

Abby’s voice picked up in cheer. "And you, Clarke. I'm glad you're still here with me, too. Speaking of you, I want you to be my maid of honor. Will you?"

"I'd be offended if I weren't," Clarke told her. "I'll be the best maid of honor in the world. You'll be sad you didn't have me there when you got married to Dad. What do you want to do for your bachelorette party? Dance club? Strippers?"

"No... strippers," Abby whispered. The sound was muffled, like she might be cupping her mouth against the phone to keep someone from hearing or lip-reading her, whether it was Kane or a couple of elderly future in-laws, Clarke wasn’t sure. The thought of the latter was certainly funnier, though. "I don't want anything like that at my party. I don't even want that big of a party. Think small, Clarke. If you don't I'll get Tsing to do it."

"Fine, fine," Clarke submitted. "If you want a boring bachelorette party, you've got it. Party hats and pin the tail on the donkey it is."

Abby sighed, and something childish in Clarke still liked riling up her mother.

"None of that either. We'll talk about this stuff later. The wedding isn't happening any time soon. We'll have plenty of time to talk about when we get home."

Home was only a couple of days away. For Clarke anyway.

As if Abby could read Clarke's mind, she asked. "How's your trip going, honey?"

"It's good," Clarke said sincerely. "Not quite as great as yours, apparently. I was going to tell you about the modeling contract I was offered and the book deal I signed yesterday and how I'm going to be in Michael Bay’s new movie, but you showed me up with that wedding news. I guess my week hasn't been so exciting after all."

Abby’s tone was sympathetic. "I know business trips aren't the most fun, but I hope you're at least having a halfway decent time. It can't be all work. You are in New York after all."

"No, I'm actually having a really great time," Clarke said honestly, finding the words easier to form than she ever would have imagined when she’d first embarked on this trip. "The work isn't nearly as bad as I expected. In fact," she started. "I might not be quitting after all. I kind of like this new promotion."

Admitting it out loud, first to Lexa and then to her mother, just kept feeling better. It was real. She knew what she wanted, and she wanted Weather Corp. And she was going to get it!

"That's great news, Clarke. I didn't know you had it in you. I'm really proud of you." Abby was surprised, but she was genuine, too. Clarke felt this sudden rush of affection, and she wished Abby was there for her to hug. She wished her dad was there to hug them, too. He was probably. In spirit.

"I'm proud of you, too, Mom."

“Thanks, honey. I’m glad to hear you’re doing well. I should let you go now. We’re going out to dinner in a bit with Kane’s parents to celebrate and I have other people to call. Jackson’s waiting to hear back from me. I can’t wait to see you back in D.C. We still don’t know when we’re coming back exactly, but you shouldn’t be alone at the house for too long."

"I can't wait to see you too, Mom. Take as much of a vacation as you need. You deserve to celebrate."

"Thanks, Clarke. I'll talk to you later, sweetie. Have a good flight."

"You, too, Mom. Bye."

Clarke hung up and set off back to her room in no time. This news was too good not to share with someone, and while she could have called Octavia, she was probably still at work and Lexa was only a few feet away, lying in bed waiting for her to come back.

"Everything ok?" Lexa asked immediately as Clarke stepped into the room and closed the door behind her. She sounded genuinely worried and Clarke hoped the smile she carried to the bed dispelled some of that fear.

"Better than ok," Clarke said. "My mom's getting married! I'm gonna be the Maid of Honor! Want to be my date to the wedding?"

It was a joke, but Lexa didn't seem to register that. Her tone was serious when she asked, "When is it?"

Clarke was pretty sure they hadn't figured that part out yet. She'd make a note to make sure it wasn't on the same day as Raven and Octavia's wedding - though knowing Raven and O., those two would be married before Abby could even decide on a venue.

"About twenty years from now if my mom has it her way,” Clarke caviled. “She needs everything to be perfect. She'll be sorting through catering details for years. I'm surprised she ever found time to plan a wedding with my dad when she was busy interning and being pregnant with me."

"I'll be married by then," Lexa objected. "And I'm single. And mourning my dead ex."

"I thought we were getting past that," Clarke reminded her. "We're moving on, trying to stop thinking about the people we've lost. Hell, my mom did it, and now she's getting married."

"I am trying to move on," Lexa promised. "That doesn't change the fact that I'm still single."

"Well you've got twenty years to find someone and beat my mom to getting married. Better start looking soon."

"Maybe I will."

It was an empty promise, even Clarke knew that, but her heart couldn't help but pick up a few beats. All she could do was follow its pulse, shed her clothes and slip back beneath the sheets with Lexa once again.

Chapter Text

Lexa was up half the night working at her desk, and the more Clarke thought about it the more she wasn't sure Lexa had slept at all. She vaguely remembered the warmth of another body slipping into the sheets behind her at some point during the night, but that could easily have been a dream or some half-asleep fantasy. When Clarke woke to see Lexa on the opposite side of the room, still toiling over Weather's budget in her pajamas, the spot beside her on the bed where Lexa should have been was cold.

Without Lexa there with her, Clarke had little reason to stay in bed. She stood up, threw the blanket around her shoulder like a cape, and sauntered over to Lexa's side at the desk, sitting in the seat beside her.

"You figure it out yet?" She assumed Lexa wouldn’t be in the mood for morning pleasantries, especially if she hadn't slept yet and barely realized it was morning.

"I hope so. I just have to convince Dante that my plan is better than Cage's. I've done it before, and I think I can do it again, but the office is going to suffer for it." She sighed, defeated. "It's not going to be the best place for anyone to work at anymore."

Weather's office couldn't afford another downgrade. It’s grade was already a D and Clarke sure hoped Lexa was only knocking it down to a D-. F meant failure. No one could afford that.

"It already isn't the greatest place to work," Clarke argued. "How could it get any worse?"

Lexa bit her lip, frowning slightly. "How do you feel about toilet paper?"

"If you cut toilet paper out of the budget, I'm quitting,” Clarke said. “I don't care if I already went through the trouble of sleeping with my boss to get my job back. I need to wipe my ass."

Lexa scratched something out of her notes.

Clarke truly deserved a medal for averting this crisis.

"I was wondering if bidets might be more cost effective," Lexa mumbled. "Or if we could just steal toilet paper from the other offices. Or just use their bathrooms."

"That sounds annoying," Clarke admitted. "With how much some people stop by the water cooler, I don't think they'd be able to hold it for an entire elevator ride to another floor." By some people she meant Raven and Octavia. Both of them were so thirsty they probably spent most of their work day relieving themselves of excess water in the bathroom. She didn't want her friends pissing themselves on the way to the floor below them. Although maybe they could take restroom breaks together and end up screwing in another office's bathroom stalls where no one would know who they were and wouldn't get caught. Maybe they could make the most of it. If they had to. She really hoped they didn’t have to, though.

"That's another thing," Lexa commented. "I think we have to get rid of the water cooler. We can't afford refills. Or cups."

No water cooler? Now Lexa was going too far. Where did she think D.C. was, the middle of California? They needed water and they could get it.

"What do you mean we can't afford refills? Just fill the cooler from the tap. And we don't need to buy cups. We can steal some from another office. Or this hotel. Or we can just bring our own cups from home. We need water, though. We're not camels. We can't work all day without hydration."

Lexa made another mark on her notes. "Alright. We can do that. We can't get much selling the machine anyway."

"Any other basic human necessities you're selling off?" Clarke asked. "Got a buyer for the oxygen floating around the office yet?"

Lexa's eyes were puffy and sore from the lack of sleep, but she still found the strength to roll them into the back of her skull. "No, but if you know one, have them call me. We're going to have to go without colored ink, though. And maybe paper all together. Surely we can implement some sort of electronic file exchange policy."

"Yeah, if our computers work," Clarke scolded. "Which they don’t. We're probably still going to have to print stuff. At least for a little while. What am I going to do if I can't print out colorful graphs, though? How can I make the numbers catch your eye?"

"Creating charts isn't even in your job description," Lexa told her.

"What is in my job description?" Clarke asked. "I've never been a real assistant before."

"Certainly not coffee runs. If anyone wants coffee, they'll have to pay for it themselves. We can't even afford instant coffee for the break room. We’re taking that out of the budget too."

Ouch. No free coffee. Clarke was never going to make it through the day. Maybe she could get her and Lexa Starbucks on the way to work. That might get both of them through lunch at least. "If I'm not getting coffee what am I doing?"

"Probably taking some of my calls, running things around the office for me. I'll need you to escort employees into meetings and such."

"Ooh, an escort service," Clarke envisioned. "Sounds like fun."

"You're not going to behave during this job, are you?"

The question was practically rhetorical. Clarke answered it anyway. "Not a chance."

"Good." Maybe she was just tired and not thinking straight, but a smile erupted on Lexa's face and made it seem like she wouldn't be all that upset about Clarke not doing her job, not like she had been at the Christmas party and not like Octavia was every day as Clarke sat idly in their cubicle. Clarke could get used to this, getting away with everything in front of her boss.

"Are you ready?" Clarke asked, remembering her state of undress and the fact that she was wearing a blanket around her shoulders like a cape as if she were four. She was cold, and it was a problem that could easily be solved by putting on actual clothes or stepping under the stream of a hot shower. "We have to get ready soon." It felt weird to be the responsible one keeping track of time, but today was important. It was the last meeting of the week and it was make or break for how the rest of the year was going to go. And not just for her and Lexa. For everyone.

Lexa nodded, eyes tired but heavier with the weight of her task than sleep. She yawned, but tried to cover it up. "Readier than I'll ever be."

“Good. I’ll wake you up in the shower.”

/

A tired Lexa was not nearly as fun during a joint shower as an awake one, but at least a tired Lexa was better for peace and quiet in the cab. She was less strict with the cabbie, more focused on running through her notes for the zillionth time than questioning the driver's choice of route. It was nice to be able to do some thinking for a change, but it was boring, and the only thing there was to think about was how horribly wrong this meeting could go.

Worst case scenario: more people than Clarke could count would lose their jobs. Best case scenario: the office regressed to even further state of decay than it already was. There was no winning here, only not losing to an extreme degree, like going into surgery and losing a limb instead of a life. Clarke wasn't sure she was ready for whatever amputation was to come. They weren't alone in the elevator on their way up to Dante's office, but Clarke reached down to take Lexa's hand in her own anyway, afraid her arm might be the limb she'd lose and this would be her last opportunity to do so. Lexa squeezed back, as much for her own comfort as Clarke's.

Dante's office looked no different than before, but there was a shift in the air, a dense, cold gust like a ghost had been let into the room, ready to suck the life out of all of them. Judging by the smile on Cage's face, he was responsible for the haunting. Dante couldn't seem to muster a grin if he tried. He looked even more tired than Lexa, like he'd been up for longer than just the past night without any sleep.

"Hello, Ladies," Cage greeted. He put the same charm behind the words as some college frat bro wasted in a bar, high on life among other substances and convinced he was more appealing than he actually was. Clarke's immediate instinct was to ignore him, but that was kind of hard to do when they were forced to greet him back, to act as politely as possible for fear of giving Dante a bad impression.

Dante never stood up from his chair to exchange pleasantries.

"Sorry, I didn't bring coffee this time," Clarke said, trying to lighten Dante's mood before looking back at Cage. "Although maybe that's a good thing."

"You think?" he replied sarcastically.

"Coffee's not on the budget anymore," Lexa added. "You don't have to worry about cotton candy this time."

Cage chuckled but not at Lexa's joke. "You really think taking away coffee is going to fix all our problems?"

Lexa never broke a straight face. "The little things add up."

"Yeah, didn't your dad ever teach you to save your pennies?" Once again Clarke tried and failed to bring Dante into the conversation. He sat in his chair quietly, no more than an observer to his son's interactions.

Cage smiled condescendingly. "This is business, sweetheart. We don't account for pennies."

What a snobby rich kid thing to say. Clarke would know; she was a snobby rich kid. In fact, if Cage was nothing more than the heir to a single failing company, Clarke probably had more money than him and his father combined. But whatever. She kept that detail to herself. Cage could think as highly of himself as he wanted. When it came down to it, he wasn't in charge. Dante was who they all needed to impress.

"If you want to talk money, let's do it," Lexa interjected. "We've all been working hard on this budget all week and there's no sense in stalling. I'm sure we're all tired. Let's just get this done. Mr. Wallace," she said to Dante as she took her seat beside Clarke. "Will you start us off?"

Dante held his hands up in defeat, pushing Lexa away through the air between them. "I'm afraid not. It's out of my hands now."

"What do you mean?"

"What he means," Cage interrupted. "Is that I'm going to start us off. And I'm going to lead us through this. And I'm going to finish us off. Because I'm the new owner of Weather Corporation."

Lexa glanced nervously to Dante who looked even more ashen with the dark leather of the chair contrasted behind him. "Mr. Wallace? Is this true?"

“I’m afraid so,” Dante said simply.

Every face fell. Except for Cage’s.

“That’s right. I'm the Mr. Wallace you should be addressing now. My father is no longer more than a... shareholder in the company. He's still important, yes, but I'm the one who makes the decisions from now on. And speaking of decisions, what have you decided to do with our company this year, Ms. Woods? Besides decaffeinate our employees?"

Clarke could tell how thrown off Lexa was that she was answering to Cage now instead of Dante, but impressively she kept her cool, even though Clarke was freaking out on the inside. Preventing Cage from taking over the company was why she was here, and Lexa had designed her whole budget plan around only needing to convince Dante that it was better than Cage's. If Cage now had the final decision, of course he was going to go with his own agenda. Clarke didn't even know why he was humoring Lexa, but he did, and she pulled her files out in front of her like she stood a chance.

She didn't. That was immediately clear.

Cage shot down everything she said. None of her ideas were grand enough for him, and as much as Clarke was relieved to know Cage wasn't going to make them go without toilet paper, she'd be a lot more relieved to know that all of her friends would get to keep their jobs, and with Cage in charge that was no guarantee.

"You just want to get rid of everything," Cage scolded, dismissing another of Lexa’s ideas. "How is that a plan? You're saving money, not making it."

"How is your plan any different?" Lexa asked. "You want to cut more than I do."

"Au contraire. I want to cut and then add. Cut all the old systems that aren't working and replace them with new ones. Cut all the subpar employees and replace them with ones that will actually do their jobs. You're not addressing the problems. You're trying to work around them and hope they magically fix themselves. You wouldn't know the real issues if they were stapled onto your forehead - which they won't ever be because you want to cut the staples. What are you going to cut when you get rid of scissors next year and have nothing left to cut with?"

Cage was actually making sense. Even Dante was nodding his head slightly in the corner, and that was about as ominous a sign as Clarke had ever seen. Lexa was fumbling, but Clarke had faith in her. Maybe Cage had business sense, but Lexa had business sense and morals. Clarke was still on her side.

"Give me one reason why I should go with your plan over mine?" Cage asked, and Clarke was quick to butt in to defend her boss.

"Because she's been doing this longer than you have. She's worked here and managed budgets for years. You don't even live in D.C. You don't see our office every day or know what it's like to work there. You went straight from nobody to owner all because of your dad. Lexa's put in the hard work. She has the experience. She knows our work environment."

"Did anyone ask you?" Cage spat. "What do you know about experience? How long have you been an assistant? I've been living as my father's son for thirty odd years. He's been telling me about his job every day when he comes home from work since I was a baby. That's experience. You can train a stray all you want, but it'll never be as fit to be a pet as the purebred that's been doing it since day one."

"Clarke does have a point," Lexa spoke up. "I know the office better than anyone in this room. You may be good at the money side of things - hell, you may even be great at it - but I'm the one who works in D.C. every day. I know that office."

"I know the office, too," Cage countered. "I've been there. You act like I don't even know where D.C. is on a map. I have traveled outside of New York, thank you very much. I know what your building is like."

"But you don't know what the people are like," Lexa argued. "I'm not just here for me, I'm here to represent our employees, too. You don't know the everyday in and outs of their jobs or the suggestions they have or the struggles they face."

"That's because I don't care. It's not my job to get to know them. It's my job to pay them to do work for me. Which clearly they don't do well or else this company wouldn't be going under. I don't care about the people who file your papers or run and get you coffee.” He shot a pointed look towards Clarke. "The employees are part of the rejuvenation program. We can hire new ones that I trust to get the job done. And guess what? If you don't agree with me, I can fire you too and hire a president who does."

Cage's intimidation tactics made Lexa clench her jaw in anger or restraint, but Dante didn't have to be so cautious about speaking up. "You're not going to find a president better than Ms. Woods, son. I know you want a new staff, but there's a reason she's here. Everything she says is right. She does have more experience on the job than you, and if you're going to be implementing new systems you need someone familiar with the old ones who knows what does and doesn't work. Lexa's helped me more than I can remember over the past few years. You don't want to lose her to competition."

Cage was slow to let his father's words sink in. He hadn't looked Dante in the eye as he talked, and Clarke wasn't sure he had even heard anything his father said. He looked tense, like he was trying to block everything out, ignore his father for the first time in his life now that he finally could, now that he was the one with the power.

He looked toward Lexa as he responded to his father's suggestion. "I can't work with someone who can't work with me."

Lexa's body was tense and her stare was icy as she held Cage's, deliberating her options and settling upon her stance. "I'm on board," she said simply. "New methods, new building, new systems, whatever you want I'll go along with it. Some things do need to change. I'm not stubborn enough to deny that. I'm up for replacing anything you want. Not our employees, though. I won't let all those people lose their jobs. If I stay, my staff stays. That's my one condition."

Cage didn't mull over Lexa's proposition for long. He clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth and relaxed, more in his element now that he was negotiating some kind of compromise that was obviously slanted in his favor. "That's your one condition, huh? Well, how about this. If you get one condition, I get one condition. That sounds fair right?"

"Don't trust him, Lexa," Clarke warned. She didn't even care that she was speaking out against Cage at this point or that he glared at her like he was skilled at holding grudges. They were so close to reaching a deal, so close to being able to rest easy. They had to do this right.

Lexa shot a hand up to silence Clarke. She was quiet for a moment before reaching a decision. "Yes, that sounds fair. What do you want?"

Cage's grin was wicked. "What do I want? Nothing much really. I'll keep your staff if..." Cage picked up his pen, pointing across the table at Clarke like a spear. "You fire her."

Clarke felt like she'd been shot.

Lexa looked at her like she knew the wound was fatal.

"You're right," Cage continued as he awaited Lexa’s response. "I don't know how well everyone else does their job because I'm not in D.C. overseeing things every day. But I do know that she is useless. My dog could be a better assistant than this bitch. No way in hell am I paying her for it. If you prove to me that the rest of the staff is worth keeping more than she is, I'll work with them. All of you will get to keep your jobs as long as she loses hers."

Clarke's heart pounded in her ears and her blood pressure rose as high as the Empire State building. The thump deafened her to the point that she could be barely hear Cage insult her, like her ears were underwater and the rest of her head was soon to sink with them.

Lexa swallowed, just as panicked as Clarke felt. She was speechless as she stared at Clarke, keeping her gaze on the woman beside her to prevent Cage from seeing her fear. It was fully visible to Clarke, though, a glint in the green of her eye that Clarke had never seen before. Lexa quickly suppressed it, or tried to anyway, swallowing again and managing to gain some semblance of composure, though Clarke expected Lexa was no calmer than she was on the inside.

“So what do you say?” Cage pressed, and Lexa knew could no longer stall for time.

It was two little words that broke them out of their limbo, spoken from Lexa's mouth just barely above a whisper, just strong enough that Cage would believe them.

"You're fired."

Clarke sat in her chair dazed for a moment, unsure if she’d heard the words right until Lexa couldn’t bare to look at her any longer, turned her head back towards Cage to face him and make sure he’d keep good on his promise. Clarke tried to listen to them talk, but she couldn’t hear a word they were saying.

She was out of the room before she realized what was happening, like a kid about to throw up before giving a presentation in class. Only Clarke had nowhere to go. She didn't know this building. She couldn't find the bathroom on this floor if she tried, and she was too lightheaded for her body to push her there even if she knew where she was going. She sunk against the wall outside the conference room, close enough to the windows that she could peer inside of them and see Lexa and Cage staring back at her if she wanted to. She didn't though. She kept her eyes ahead, focused on the wall in front of her as she brought her legs up to rest her chin against her knees.

Lexa had just fired her.

She'd only gotten her job back yesterday and now she was fired again. Just like that. Like nothing her and Lexa had talked about the day before meant anything.

She'd been counting on this job, been so excited for it. She'd even told her mom she got it. How was she going to explain this to Abby? 'I fucked my boss to get a promotion but apparently that wasn't enough so she fired me. Again. Sorry I lied about it the first time.' That wasn't going to cut it. Even Octavia was going to be pissed, and Clarke knew how Octavia was when she was angry. There was no guarantee she would keep her mouth shut about Clarke and Lexa now. But why did Clarke care? Lexa had screwed her over, hadn’t even taken more than a minute to decide how her entire foreseeable future would play out. It wasn't Clarke's problem if Lexa got fucked over just as hard as her. Oh well. Let Octavia ruin her. She didn't have time to be worried about Lexa. And she shouldn't be outside this stupid office waiting for her.

She stood more easily this time, rage fueling her and quelling the inhabilitating sense of disbelief that had plagued her before. She was out of here. All she had to do was find her way to the elevator and she could be back at the hotel to pack her shit before Lexa could even call a cab. Only the meeting didn't take nearly as long as Clarke thought. Lexa was stepping out of the office, searching frantically up and down the hallway before Clarke could even find her footing.

"Clarke!"

Lexa spotted her, but Clarke didn't have to acknowledge that she noticed. She could still beat Lexa to the elevator and then she would lose her for sure.

"Clarke, wait!"

Clarke power-walked as fast as she could, but Lexa either forgot that she was in an office or just didn't care and ran, catching up just as Clarke wedged herself into a full elevator. She reached a hand out to stall the doors and stepped inside despite the low capacity. Out of breath, she shot an apologetic smile to the rest of the passengers as she positioned herself beside some old man whose aftershave Clarke could smell from the opposite wall. Lexa tried desperately to meet Clarke's eye as they descended the floors, but Clarke avoided her at all costs. Her stomach lurched and it wasn't from the way the elevator dropped.

Clarke was out of the elevator before Lexa could maneuver her way around the rest of its patrons and once again she found herself struggling to keep up, following Clarke out onto the busy New York streets.

"Clarke! Please stop!"

Clarke wasn't happy that Lexa had caught her, but she wasn't about to outrun her. Enough heads were turning her way with a woman jogging behind her calling her name anyway. Someone would certainly alert the police if they entered a high speed chase. Clarke let Lexa catch up with her, but her cold shoulder remained frozen.

"Can we talk?" Lexa asked, though she sounded like she wouldn't have nearly enough breath to hold a conversation. Clarke spared her lungs by not responding. Lexa kept up with Clarke's pace, but shot an arm out above her and into the street, waiting for a cab to pass. They barely rounded a corner before one pulled up. Lexa stepped inside. Clarke kept walking.

"Clarke, please get in the cab," she begged, stepping out again and signaling the cabbie to wait. He frowned, but started his meter.

Clarke only stopped when Lexa laid a hand on her shoulder.

"Please," she begged.

"I can get my own cab," Clarke told her, shrugging her arm from Lexa's grip.

"You don't need to, Clarke. Please. Just come with me. We need to talk."

"I'm not talking about this in a cab," Clarke scoffed. She felt like a hypocrite. A few days ago she had let Lexa practically fuck her in the back of a cab. That hadn't felt so intimate, though. This was more personal, between her and Lexa alone. They weren't strangers anymore and she didn't want anyone else listening in on whatever meltdown she felt like she was about to have.

"Then we won't talk about it in the cab. I promise I'll keep my mouth shut. We can talk later. Please. Just get in with me. You can’t wander around the streets of New York pissed."

Clarke glanced around at the intersection and the shops around her. She didn't know exactly where she was. She could easily find out and get her own cab and her own directions, but there was no point in being here when a free ride back to the hotel was idling right there for her on the side of the road. If she got in the cab she could make Lexa pay. Literally.

"Fine. But if you say a single word, I'll open that door and walk out. I really don't want to hear it right now, Lexa. I don’t want your excuses."

"Ok."

Lexa stuck to her word and was silent as she followed Clarke into the back of the cab. She leaned over between the seats to give the driver directions before sinking back into her chair and sealing her lips shut.

The quiet wasn't nice, but it was better than the sound of Lexa's groveling would be, and if Clarke kept her eyes on her window she could almost pretend like she was in the back of the cab alone. Lexa made a point of sticking to her own seat. There was no sitting on the middle of the bench to scoot closer to Clarke like there had been in some of their cab rides before. She kept her distance, and for that Clarke was thankful. If she tried anything else, Clarke was going to flip out on her and Clarke didn't want to pay the cabbie's cleaning bill for getting blood all over his seats.

Staring out of the window was a good way to pass time. Until Clarke recognized where they were headed. Or rather, didn't recognize it. This was definitely not the way to their hotel. She was going to yell at the driver for not knowing what he was doing until she caved and glanced over at Lexa whose face was riddled with guilt.

"This isn't our hotel," Clarke deadpanned as they approached the intersection leading towards the walkway of the Brooklyn bridge.

Lexa looked hesitant to speak, like she thought Clarke was testing her own mandatory quiet rule. She risked it, but only after Clarke stared at her expectantly. "I didn’t say we were going back to the hotel yet."

Just when Clarke began debating whether or not to throw herself out of the car, the driver stopped, idling near the curb with his eye never leaving the meter. Lexa paid him and Clarke didn't need to be told to get out of the cab.

"Why are we here?" Clarke asked.

"You can see the Statue of Liberty from here," Lexa said, as if that explained anything.

"Oh great. That's exactly where I wanted to go. 'What did you do today, Clarke?' ‘Oh, it was great! I walked the Brooklyn Bridge and saw the Statue of Liberty, and, oh, by the way, I lost my job!"

Lexa stared down at her feet like a child afraid of the scolding she rightfully deserved. Clarke didn't care how regretful she looked. She wanted answers. She wanted an explanation of why Lexa thought firing her was something Clarke could forgive instantaneously, why Lexa thought she could cozy up to her again and do some sightseeing so soon after betraying her like that. If Lexa wasn't giving her those answers, she wasn't going to stick around.

"I'm getting another cab."

"No! You can't leave yet."

"You have no authority to tell me what to do," Clarke berated. "Too bad you're not my boss or anything."

"Please hear me out."

Clarke groaned, but listened. She'd give Lexa one chance. One very small chance. She better not blow it. For her own sake.

"I'm waiting," Clarke said, tapping her foot impatiently on the bridge.

"For what?"

"For next Christmas, what do you think? I want an excuse or an apology or something."

Lexa huffed and shifted her feet, but her lips remained sealed.

"You're really not going to say you're sorry?" Clarke scoffed. "Unbelievable."

"I can't apologize for what I did, Clarke. I didn't want to fire you. It wasn't my idea. But you have to understand where I'm coming from. How could I not make that deal? Cage agreed to keep hundreds of people. That's hundreds of families who get to eat tonight. I can't sacrifice the well-being of all those people just to save the job of one."

Clarke understood. She did. It wasn't like she couldn't see Lexa's perspective, and it wasn't like she wouldn't do the exact same thing if she were in her position, but that didn't mean it didn't suck. That didn't mean she could just forgive Lexa that easily.

She ran away from her problems, or, well, walked away, setting off down the length of the bridge with Lexa hot on her heels. She expected to be followed, but if Lexa had brought her all the way out here to talk, they were at least going to see the sites while they did it. They were here already, and they couldn’t argue in the middle of a busy intersection.

"Are you mad?" Lexa asked.

"Are you a bitch?" Clarke retorted.

"I'll take that as a yes."

"So you're admitting you're a bitch? At least you're honest."

"I'm not going to lie to you, Clarke. I don't want to hurt you anymore."

"Yeah, well, it's a little late for that."

"I swear I didn't want you to get hurt. I didn't start my day knowing that any of this was going to happen. It was a spur of the moment decision and I had to make it. You have to understand why I took this opportunity."

"I understand, ok," Clarke said. "I'm not stupid. I get it. It was the smartest option and it was helped all those people and it's probably exactly what I would have done in your situation. My whole purpose for coming out here was to get fired anyway. I'm 'expendable.' I get it. That just doesn't mean it doesn't suck."

Clarke slowed down now, tired from all her running away, and settled against an open patch of railing along the bridge. Across the water was the statue, regal and stunning in the small bit of sunlight the day possessed. The copper monument hadn't moved an inch since Clarke had seen it last, and of all the things she wanted to stay the same, this wasn't one of them. "This statue sucks too."

Lexa paused next to her, but kept her feet steady on the middle of the walkway, distancing herself from the water and from Clarke as she stared out across the water. "What's wrong with the statue?"

Normally Clarke wouldn’t get mushy, not when she was angry like this, but hadn’t been this upset in a while. It was messing with her. The story was on her tongue before she thought better of her company, waiting to come out like she’d been dying to tell someone for years.

"The Statue of Liberty was one of the places I visited on my last trip to New York with my dad. He loved the statue. He was big on patriotism and 'give me liberty or give me death!' shit. Not in a weird 'vote for the Tea Party' way, but he loved democracy and politics and the history of the country. I think that's why my mom's marrying a senator now. Kane sort of reminds me of my dad in that sense, always trying to do what's right for the people. Kane would like it here, I bet."

"I can see why. It's beautiful. The view, the statue, everything."

"My dad used to say the statue was one of the few women more beautiful than my mother. Her and Eva Longoria. If the Statue of Liberty had been an underwear model, my dad might've divorced my mom and ended up like that woman who tried to marry the Eiffel Tower."

Lexa's chuckle mirrored Clarke's and they were both lost to the wind, nothing more than the breeze over the water or the sound of cars roaring past.

"That sounds like a good memory. It doesn't explain why you hate it."

"It just reminds me of my dad," Clarke said softly. "I like reliving memories of him, but not like this, not after today. I haven't been here without him since. It just doesn't feel right, you know? Like this is his spot. I don't care about the statue the same way he did. I can’t appreciate it the way it deserves. Especially not right now when I’m in a shitty mood. I can't do this moment justice."

"This isn’t how I imagined it either," Lexa divulged. "I think I like the statue for the same reason your dad did. It does represent the country. Or opportunity. Or something. Liberty. Doing the right thing. That’s what I tried to do today, Clarke. And I know I did. I know I made the right decision with Cage. It just doesn’t feel like it right now. It doesn’t feel like everyone won.”

“That’s America, right?” Clarke sighed. “Someone always has to get screwed over for someone else to be on top. Fuck, the Statue of Liberty got screwed over for this country. She has to stand out there all day and all night just so we can stand here and have the luxury of looking at her. At least she’s pretty, I guess. The two of us have that going for us, even if we did both get left out in the cold.”

“Don’t equate yourself to her,” Lexa said. “You’re more than just a statue. And she might be beautiful, but she’s certainly not as beautiful as you.”

Clarke's throat clogged, stopped up with air or her heart or whatever that lump was that blocked her words whenever she felt too much. "Don't, Lexa. You can’t get out of this by complimenting me."

“That’s not why I said it.”

Lexa looked almost apologetic, but her pride prevented her from saying the words. She didn't take anything back. Clarke didn't really want her to.

Things were quiet for a while, wind whistling past their ears and kicking up the ends of their scarfs. The occasional passerby would stop beside them, point out the statue to their date or their sister or the kid toddling along beside them. The weather wasn't good for sitting idle. It was beyond chilly, and the farther the sun descended the colder it became. The mid-day warmth was no longer present to defrost the rails they rested on. The metal of the bridge shivered and tensed, iced over like everything around it. They had to move at some point.

"What do you want to do tomorrow?" Lexa asked, giving herself more hope for the day after this than Clarke was convinced existed. "There's more things to see, right? Better things than some 300 ft. lady standing on an island. I’ll take you out as my treat. We’ll talk some more. I’ll try to make it up to you. As much as I can."

"You can see whatever you want," Clarke told her, looking out across the water with no real focal point, no purposeful sense of direction where her gaze landed. As long as she wasn’t looking at the statue, she was fine with whatever crossed her field of vision. "I'm staying at the hotel and packing."

Lexa pouted, disappointed. "It's our last day. Don't you want to do something?"

Of course Clarke didn't want to stay locked up in her room all day, but what choice did she have? She needed an excuse to avoid Lexa. Maybe she could go out on her own, do what she came here to do in the first place: enjoy herself, have fun on her own terms. Maybe she could even bring someone along for the ride with her. Someone she hadn't been living with for the past week. Someone who couldn't hurt her.

"I just want to go home," she lied. There was nothing waiting for her at home, no mother, no job. But at least Lexa couldn’t follow her to her house in D.C. She tried to convince herself that was one thing she had to look forward to. It didn’t feel much like a reward, though.

Lexa didn't know what to say to that. There wasn't much she could say. "My hands are cold," she decided, rubbing them together and releasing a puff of breath between them before slipping a hand into each of her coat pockets, weighting them down against the breeze.

"Shouldn't have left your gloves at that bar," Clarke chastised.

"I don't regret going to that bar," Lexa said simply. "I don't regret anything that happened that night. The gloves aren't what's important to me. They're not what I'm worried about losing."

"At least you haven't lost your job, right?"

Lexa didn't laugh.

"What? Too soon to make fun of my own misery?"

"You know how bad I feel about this, right, Clarke?"

"Yeah, well, I feel worse."

"I can imagine."

"Must be easy to only have to imagine and not have to feel it."

Lexa looked wounded. Clarke almost felt bad. Mostly she just felt glad to get even. It was a hollow victory, though. She was mad at Lexa, yes, but it really wasn’t her fault. It was Cage’s. Still, it hurt that Lexa hadn’t even tried fighting for her, didn’t even give her a chance to defend herself.

"Can we just go back to the hotel now? I really don't want to be here any more."

Lexa nodded.

"I mean it," Clarke said as she started off back down the bridge. "No more scenic routes."

"I'm not up for any more tourism," Lexa promised. "The next place I want to visit is our room."

"Your room," Clarke corrected.

Lexa almost didn't catch the amendment. "My room?"

"Yep. I'm getting my own for the next two nights."

"All of your stuff is in our room," Lexa argued, tone frantic again, worry hastening.

Clarke didn't fail to notice the plural possessive.

"Your room,” she corrected again. “And I don't care. I'll get it tomorrow."

"Clarke, there's no reason to spend a bunch of money on a hotel room when you already have one. We're only here for one more day. There’s two beds. Just sleep in the other one. I'll stay out of your hair if that's what you want me to do."

The money wasn't a problem and neither was the lack of time. Lexa was grasping at straws, but she had a point about Clarke's things. It'd be hard to pack tomorrow if she didn't have access to her suitcase, and part of her believed Lexa when she said she'd leave Clarke alone. Maybe she shouldn't, especially after that awful meeting and then the cab ride detour, but she trusted Lexa. At least enough to stick to her word. Like she said, she didn't want to lie to Clarke, she didn’t want to hurt her. Plus she was too busy kissing her ass to risk fucking things up even further. Part of Clarke liked seeing her grovel. She didn't want to miss out, no matter how sadistic that sounded.

"Fine. I'll sleep in my bed. But don't think you're invited."

"Don't worry, I got that message loud and clear."

“Just checking. Most of the loud and clear messages you get regarding my bed are about how much I want you in it. Not tonight. I’m still not okay with what happened. I’m still pissed at you.”

She let out a sigh. “I know, Clarke. I know. I’ll try to make it up to you.”

Clarke pushed herself away from the rails, wrapped her scarf tighter around her throat. She ambled on, leaving Lexa on the walkway behind her.

“I’m not sure that you can.”

Chapter Text

Clarke's eyelids refused to open as she roused. She blocked out the light of the hotel room and searched for warmth instead, folding her shoulders beneath the blanket where they'd escaped during the night. The mattress was cold when she rolled over and she reached a hand out to find where the missing heat had gone. "Lexa?" she mumbled before she realized she was saying anything.

Then she opened her eyes and she remembered.

Oh yeah.

Lexa wasn't in bed with her.

Good.

Kind of.

She was cold, so curled the blankets around herself like they weren't just as frozen from the chill of the room. They'd probably be warmer if they had contained Lexa's body heat at some point during the night.

Clarke would just have to do without.

She closed her eyes again, tried to keep them that way and go back to sleep. If she woke up early tomorrow, she could pack then and spend the entirety of today in bed.

That wasn't going to happen, though.

Someone had already turned all the lights on. She could sleep in a lit room if she was tired enough, but she'd just gotten her scheduled eight hours of beauty sleep and her body's natural reaction was to get up and show that beauty to the world. She threw a pillow over her face. Lexa didn't deserve to see how good she looked.

The pillow blocked out the light, but it didn't clog her nostrils from the smell of coffee, and that could very well be half of the reason she was awake. She salivated at the thought of it, and tried not to think about who she knew was doing the brewing.

"I didn't mean to wake you."

So much for not thinking about Lexa.

Lexa's voice was closer than Clarke expected, and when she tugged the pillow away from her eyes, Lexa was standing right above her, hovering over the bed with two coffee cups in hand.

"I went ahead and made coffee. I figured you'd want some."

Clarke sat up, letting the sheets drape around her lap as her back adjusted to the immutable firmness of the headboard. She scanned Lexa up and down, judging exactly what she was trying to do here.

"Are you my assistant now?"

Lexa shrugged, playing along. "How much do you pay?"

"We'll talk about it after you submit your resume," Clarke joked. "And a five hundred word essay on why I should let you work for me when you won't let me work for you."

"I would let you work for me, Clarke. It's Cage that won't. And I'm not writing you an essay. My school days are over."

"Very straightforward," Clarke observed, playfully admiring Lexa's boldness. "I like it. You're hired."

Clarke grabbed the cup from Lexa's hand, taking as big of a sip as she could without scalding her tongue. The liquid was hot, but it did little to heat the coldness she felt on the inside.

"It's good," she said. "Thanks for the coffee. Now you're fired."

Lexa rolled her eyes. "Are we even now?"

"No."

"Somehow I didn't think so."

"I'll send you a check for that thirty seconds of work you did. At a $9.50 an hour minimum wage, that should total about 7.9 cents. I'll round it up to 8 for you. Expect that in the mail soon."

"You did the math in your head that fast?" Lexa noted, impressed.

"It's like I have a college education or something. Too bad you wouldn't hire me as your accountant."

"You're going to med school, not business school."

"I know," Clarke said softly.

Lexa picked up on the dejection, different from the playful tone Clarke had kept up until now. She wanted the lightness back in their conversation. "You should have helped me with the budget," she joked. "Maybe we could have blindsided Cage with your math savvy."

"You wouldn't have stuck up for me even if I had contributed to the plan. I still would have gotten thrown under the bus."

Lexa was silent.

"At least you aren't lying about it."

"I did what I had to do, Clarke."

"I know," she repeated, meaning it just as genuinely as she had the first time.

Lexa wanted to help. She just wasn't sure that she could. Clarke had told her she may not be able to, after all. She looked helpless as she abandoned Clarke, gave her the alone time she was craving. "I'm going to take a shower. Feel free to drink the rest of the coffee."

Oh she would. She had a lot of packing to do, and she wasn't going to finish it all by tonight if she didn't have some kind of caffeine boost. Plus, she kind of liked the burn on her tongue. She chugged her cup like a shot and didn't care that it scorched her throat. Real alcohol probably would have been better. Maybe she could pay twenty bucks for something stocked in the mini-fridge.

But she would do that later, when Lexa wasn't here to judge her for drinking at ten in the morning. That probably wasn't the best impression a person who wanted their job back could give to their former boss.

Not that anything Clarke could do would get her her job back anyway.

But maybe she could sneak a drink while Lexa was in the shower.

Or not. That would require getting up.

Clarke was content to sit in bed and drink coffee for as long as she could. The only thing that had a chance of getting her up was going to the bathroom, and she couldn't exactly do that when Lexa was in the shower. She tried to put Lexa out of her mind, to pretend she was alone and block out the sound of the shower. The running water wasn't really helping her having to pee problem. It was kind of nice to focus on a simple, biological need rather than any of the rest of the bullshit going on in her life, even if it was kind of torturous.

Clarke checked her phone as she finished her coffee. She no messages from the night before, and she was okay with that. She wasn't feeling particularly social anyway.

Lexa came out of the bathroom just as Clarke put her phone back on the nightstand. A towel was still wrapped around her head and she obviously wasn't totally done getting ready, but Clarke was all too eager to sidestep past her into the restroom to relieve herself. When she finished her business, Lexa had unraveled the towel, but her hair was still damp. Clarke poured herself another cup of coffee while she was up.

"Are you heading out today?" Lexa asked, patting her hair dry and trying to make small talk.

Clarke took another sip of coffee. This cup wasn't as warm, had set out on the counter too long. "No. I told you I was staying in and packing."

Lexa tossed her towel back onto the bathroom counter. Clarke was glad she hadn't put it with the rest of their laundry. She already had enough to sort through later. "Well where should I go?"

"I told you, you can go wherever you want." Clarke's patience was thin.

"I want your opinion. You're the New York expert."

"You're the one who came to New York with a plan to site-see," Clarke reminded her. "Check something off your list."

"I didn't have a list. My plan was that you would have a list."

"Showing you around New York was part of my job description. I don't have a job anymore."

"No, but I can already tell that you want me out of the room. I can't leave until I have somewhere to go.”

"Hell?" Clarke offered.

Lexa didn't look amused. "I'm gay, Clarke. You're not the first person to tell me that. It's not much of an insult at this point."

"It's no fun insulting you when you're not offended," Clarke noted. "I remember this being more fun at the start of the week when I could actually get on your nerves. Fight back a little more."

"I'm not going to argue with you, Clarke."

“Why not? You used to. You hated me for the entire half of our first day here. And the two weeks before that.”

“I didn’t hate you. You were… difficult, but I never hated you. I was happy you were coming with me and I was happy you were-"

"Losing my job for Anya?" Clarke finished for her.

Guilt splashed across Lexa's face like a watercolor, painting her cheeks blush red, but she denied it. "No, I was glad that things turned out so well so soon. Getting along is a lot easier than arguing like this. This week would have been awful if we were chewing at each other's throats the whole time."

"I remember my mouth being on your throat plenty of times," Clarke remarked.

Lexa didn't laugh. "You know what I mean."

Clarke sighed, gave in, and went on the tangent Lexa wanted her to. "Yes, I do. And you're right," she ranted. "This week would have sucked worse than it does now if we were roommates who hated each other and had to tape a line down the center of the hotel room just to keep out of each other's space. I know what you mean, ok? But things aren't like that anymore. They're different. I wanted them to stay happy, but they didn't."

"I did too," Lexa confided, then paused for a moment. "Clarke, is there anything I can do to make it up to you? I'll do whatever I can to help."

"It's not your job to make sure I'm happy," Clarke disputed. "I'm not your employee. You're not responsible for my well-being."

"I'm asking as a friend. I just don't like seeing you down."

"Are we even friends now?" Clarke asked. "You wanted to be friends with benefits. Just because the benefits dropped doesn't mean the friend part is still there."

"I know things are different, but there's no reason why we couldn't still be friends, Clarke, sex or not."

"Well you fired me," Clarke said. "That's one reason."

This time the guilt wasn't as quick to leave Lexa's frown. "I really messed this up, didn't I?"

"You think?"

Lexa sighed, running a hand through her wet curls in habit or anxiety, Clarke didn't know which. "There's really nothing I can do to make this right?"

"Just... give me some time to think," Clarke told her, making no promises. "I need to be alone for a while."

Lexa nodded, understanding. She was on her feet without needing to be told twice and sliding her arms into the halves of her coat. She checked her pockets, tapping them for the card key and her wallet, making sure nothing was forgotten. It was her normal routine. Clarke liked that at least one of them felt like things were still normal.

"Any last suggestions on where I should go? Besides Hell. I'd take the advice as a friend. Or an acquaintance."

Clarke was softer in her response this time, tired already from the stress of their argument and thankful Lexa was going to stay true to her word to give her space. She could play nice if Lexa was going to. "Really. Go wherever you want. You should enjoy your last day." They weren't words she was currently living by, but she did believe them, did want them to come true for someone else. Someone deserved to have a good day, even if she wasn't having one herself. "Now you don't have me dragging you down and directing you away from places I've already been. Go be a tourist. Celebrate. You saved the company. Ninety-nine percent of your employees get to keep their jobs because of you. Go pat yourself on the back."

Lexa looked disappointed, despite the half-hearted praise, and the way she nodded told Clarke she didn't have anymore fight in her either. "Alright. I'll figure it out. I think I have something in mind. And, Clarke?"

"Yeah?"

"You have a good day, too."

Clarke's smile was non-existent. "No promises."

Lexa managed a weak grin before twisting the door handle. Clarke stopped her before she left.

"Wait!" Clarke grabbed her coat from the rack and dug into the pockets, pulling out her gloves and offering them to Lexa. "It's cold. You should take these."

Lexa accepted the mittens gingerly, clutching them against her chest like she was trying to stop up a bleeding wound. "Thank you."

"Don't mention it. Now go."

Lexa gave her a nod and walked away, closing the door behind her, leaving Clarke to hear it lock automatically in her wake. For a few lingering seconds she could hear Lexa's feet stomp against the carpet of the hallway until they faded away, down the stairs and to the lobby and wherever else she was headed.

Clarke wasn't as glad to see her leave as she thought she'd be. Mostly she just felt lonely.

Idly, she sipped her coffee, pretending it would give her energy if she nursed it, but mostly it just made her heart race. The motivation still wasn't there.

She needed a bit of liquid courage.

The mini-bar was stocked with everything from Diet Coke to hard lemonade, but Clarke needed something a bit more substantial. She pulled a bottle of gin from the fridge and tried to forget that the last time she'd had it was with Lexa at the bar. She poured herself a glass and sipped from it a little more than periodically as she set out on her packing.

Her suitcase was near empty at this point aside from the outfit she would wear tomorrow on her flight home. Most of what used to be in the bag was still on the floor, buried under Lexa's clothes which were messier on the ground than Lexa probably liked. With the way her suitcase was so neatly packed, it was a wonder she hadn't been cleaning their hotel non-stop. Clarke had kept her plenty busy during the few moments they spent in the hotel, though, so she understood why Lexa hadn't devoted much time to cleaning. Now that they wouldn't have that to distract them anymore, Lexa should have plenty of time to pack tonight when she got back. Clarke certainly wasn't going to do it for her, not when she knew how picky Lexa was about that kind of thing, the way she was picky about everything.

Clarke didn’t try to pack Lexa’s suitcase for her, but there was an inherent organization that came with extricating her own clothes from Lexa’s. She sorted them like dirty laundry, Lexa’s clothes on one side of the room, Clarke’s on the other. A pair of underwear that could have belonged to anyone in the middle, waiting for later review. A lone sock draped across Lexa’s bed, waiting for its partner.

Anya’s bra in Lexa’s pile.

Clarke might have been the one to wear it, but she certainly didn’t want to keep it. Anya could have it back.

Dirty as they were, Lexa's clothes still smelled like her, and as often as Clarke got a whiff of her own b.o. on her laundry, she also got a noseful of Lexa's perfume or the soap they were both using in the shower. Sometimes it was almost harder to discern whose stuff smelled like who than it was to figure out which one of them the garment belonged to. They'd spent so much time together in the past week, mingled everything about their lives, that they were more intertwined than Clarke ever thought they'd be. They smelled like each other for Christ's sake. It was just more proof that they'd spent too much time together, that Clarke had let herself get too attached and that was why the betrayal stung so much. She needed this moment to be alone, to separate herself from Lexa and all the hopes that had come with her at the beginning of the week.

But just because she needed this didn't mean it was fun.

The drinking wasn't really helping. Not her cognitive skills, her motor skills, or her emotional state.

Shoving her stuff anywhere in the suitcase that it would fit wasn't as easy as it sounded. Her clothes seemed to take up more space when she put them back in her suitcase than they had when she'd initially put them in there. The engineering gene did not make its way to her from her father. Jake was always the packer of the family.

She could make Lexa do it now. Lexa was better at this stuff. Maybe it wouldn't redeem Lexa entirely, wouldn't make up for everything she'd done to hurt Clarke, but it would help. Clarke could use all the help she could get.

Packing wasn't just clothes. There was all this other stuff they had lying around. Their toothbrushes in the bathroom, hairbands on the counters, the bottles of shampoo that could have been from either of their identical bath kits. It was all crap she couldn't even pack yet, stuff they'd use in the morning before they left and would have to wait until the last minute to fully seal away. It was a bigger project than Clarke thought, going through all the small things and seeing what could stay, what she could put away, and what she probably shouldn't touch just yet when the alcohol was starting to affect her. One pin prick from her razor as she tried to stuff it into the bag without ripping the suitcase as much as she ripped her skin was all she needed to know that this was a two woman job.

But Lexa wasn't back yet.

Clarke couldn't do much but drink as she waited for her to return.

It was only around noon when Lexa came back, shivering with her head down, chin buried in the thick, wool collar of her jacket. She didn't look like she'd had the best time of her life. Clarke's eyes were so latched on to the red of her face that she didn't even notice Lexa was struggling to open the door because her hands were full.

Lexa stepped into the room concerned, afraid Clarke wasn't expecting her to be back so soon and would kick her out again. Clarke was kind of glad to see her, though, and, once she spotted the bags dangling from Lexa's wrist she was more curious to know what she was carrying than why she hadn't been gone for very long.

"Did you bring back gift shop souvenirs?" she asked.

"Not exactly."

Lexa set her bags on the desk, then pulled something out of one of them. Clarke realized it was no more than a plain grocery sack.

"Chocolate ice cream." Even despite Clarke's gloves constricting around her fingers, Lexa
flinched from the chill of the container as she picked it up and hurriedly carried it over to the freezer. "I was going to get you chocolates but there's little in that department that isn't a Hershey bar or Valentine's Day heart boxes, and neither of those felt right. Then after I thought about it, I realized it's freezing outside and ice cream probably isn't the best thing to be eating, so I stopped and got you this too." From another smaller bag, Lexa pulled out a styrofoam cup of hot chocolate and a muffin. "It's chocolate chip. I saw you get one at brunch with the Wallaces, so I knew you liked them. Plus, they say chocolate makes people feel better when they're upset. I don't know if that's true or not, but I figured it couldn't hurt."

"It's true. Chocolate releases endorphins," Clarke told her, falling back on her medical knowledge as she stared speechlessly at Lexa's generosity, laid out so clearly on the table before her. "Thank you." It was lame, but it was all she could think to say. Lexa had gone way out of her way with all of this. Clarke appreciated the gesture.

Lexa smiled, even more pleased than Clarke. "What would I do without your medical knowledge?"

"Buy vanilla?"

"Probably," Lexa confided. "I do actually prefer vanilla."

How boring. How Lexa. It was charming, in a way.

Clarke took the muffin and undressed it, threw the wrapper away as she bit down into the bread. The chocolate chips were still partially melted, but they dissolved easily on her tongue. The warmth of the cake was welcome, and Clarke was glad to have something in her stomach to settle the coffee and the gin.

"What'd you do today?" Clarke asked, making small talk as she finished her brunch.

"Not a lot, honestly. Sightseeing on your own isn't as fun as they make it out to be when you're twenty-one and people are telling you to backpack around the world. I went to a little cafe. Sat down and made some arrangements for tomorrow. I spent most of my time on the phone, honestly."

"With Anya?" Clarke hadn't meant to sound so judgmental when she said it. She punished her mouth by stuffing it with more muffin.

Lexa was taken aback by the question, but she answered honestly, and for that Clarke was glad. "Yes. I talked to her, but I also had to call Cage regarding some things about the office. That was fun. I suppose I'll just have to get used to it. Why do you care?"

"Just curious."

There was a little more than curiosity behind Clarke's words, but Lexa misinterpreted why, sizing up the red veins in Clarke's eyes and the sour of her breath as she drew closer.

"Are you drunk?" The question wasn't prying, wasn't aggressive. Just curious. Same as Clarke.

"No. Just not sober."

"What are you drinking?"

"Gin."

"Can I have a glass?"

Clarke hadn't expected the question. She'd expected reprimand. But if Lexa wanted to get drunk too, that was fine with her. She was just glad Lexa wasn't judging her.

"Yeah. I probably shouldn't drink it all by myself. And they're not gonna let us take the rest of the bottle on the plane."

Lexa poured herself a sizeable drink. Between coffee and this, they were running out of plastic cups. It Clarke had to drink from the bottle later, she would. Though she didn't want to get that drunk. She was already tipsy enough for the both of them.

Lexa took a chug and grimaced, wiping her lips with the back of her hand. "Tastes like Saturday night."

Clarke couldn't tell if it was a general expression or if she meant their Saturday night. She had a feeling she knew which.

"Think they'll kick us out of the hotel like they kicked us out of that bar?"

"Only if we annoy the neighbors with our makeout sessions.”

“If they haven't complained about the loud sex, I don't think they're going to complain about that."

"We're not that loud in bed," Lexa denied.

"We're not that quiet either."

Lexa didn't seem to know what to say to that. She skirted around the subject awkwardly, clearly uncomfortable Clarke had brought the conversation so calmly back towards sex when Clarke had made it clear this morning that she had no intention of sleeping with Lexa again. Clarke was drunk. The lines were fuzzy for her. But Lexa was still sober. She stayed cautious, didn't overstep the boundaries Clarke had set this morning and the night before.

Clarke would just have to accept that, get back to what mattered. She had more important things to do than banter. "Can you help me pack some of this stuff before you get too drunk, too?"

Lexa placed her glass on the table, setting it aside for later. "Of course. What do you need?"

"I can't make everything fit. I got all my stuff, but the lid won't close. I'll sit on it if you zip it."

"I don't think that works in real life," Lexa cautioned.

"It works in the movies," Clarke rebutted.

"We're in New York, not Hollywood. You're going to have to rearrange some things."

"Can you do it for me?" Clarke asked, puppy dog eyes in effect.

Lexa couldn't say no to that.

"Yeah, I'll give it a shot."

"Thank you." The gratitude was genuine and Clarke wanted to make it up to Lexa in return, forgetting that Lexa was the one supposed to be making things up to her. "I put some of your stuff in a pile for you. I couldn't even pack my own suitcase, so I didn't even try to fit anything into yours. I don't know how you got it all in there in the first place."

"I like packing," Lexa divulged, folding a pair of Clarke's pants and flattening them against the bottom of her suitcase. "It's kind of relaxing. I like how if you just sit down and take enough time with something, you can make it fit, even if it didn't seem like it would before."

Clarke watched in wonder at how fast Lexa worked, knowing exactly how to fold Clarke's laundry to tuck it into even the smallest corners of her bag. Either she'd read some really good, really boring books about packing, or she had way too much free time on her hands.

Probably both.

Lexa even handled Clarke's underwear like it was nothing she hadn't seen before, which was kinda true. She was the one who had taken most of it off in the first place, and it felt cyclical for her to be the one to give them back to Clarke to put on later. She was just about to throw another bra on top of the pile when she paused, examining the lace in her hands.

"Is this mine?"

Clarke shrugged. "There's a strong possibility."

"I think it is. It's my cup size." She tossed the bra onto her own bed, topping the pile of her clothes Clarke had already made. "This is why Anya has so many clothes at my house. I accidentally take her stuff all the time and never give it back."

"If anything of mine ends up in your suitcase, I want it back someday," Clarke stressed. "My clothes are too expensive."

"You'd actually want to see me again back in D.C.?" Lexa asked, advancing the subject cautiously but willfully. "Or do you want me to just mail it back?"

Clarke knew the answer to that.

She wasn't going to tell Lexa she still wanted to see her again.

"Just. Pack it right the first time," she decided. "Then we won't have to worry about that."

"Speaking of packing," Lexa said, walking to her own suitcase and rummaging around for something. "Who's taking this?" She flashed the dildo to Clarke who didn't immediately know what to say. Lexa continued. "I don't know if I can take it home. Anya will wonder why I kept it when I told her I was giving it back to you, and I can't exactly keep it in my desk at the office. If you want it, you can have it, but I suppose we can just trash it if you don't."

That dildo was the entire reason Clarke was here, the whole reason the two of them had met each other at all. Without that dildo, Clarke wouldn't have experienced any of the last week, would never have had gotten to know Lexa as well as she did.

Maybe today sucked, maybe she was miserable right now, but when it came down to it, she'd had one of the best weeks of her life over the past few days. She wouldn't trade that for anything.

She wouldn't give it up. Not the trip or the dildo.

"I'll take it," Clarke said, almost too hastily. "I can use it."

Lexa didn't question that, didn't give Clarke any smirks or winks or snide remarks, just buried the dildo in her suitcase where it would be secure, would survive the flight home. Clarke was thankful for that, for the acceptance. She hoped she would survive the plane ride, too.

Lexa worked magic. Even if she'd made a big show of how all Clarke had to do was take her time to make everything fit, Lexa seemed to take no time at all. She was zipping up the contents in no time, even without Clarke's ass weighing them down. Clarke was stunned. Lexa was nonchalant.

"There you go."

"Thanks again," Clarke repeated. "For that and the ice cream and the muffin and everything."

"No problem. Thanks for letting me have a glass of this." Lexa picked up her cup again, sloshed the drink around its insides before taking another sip.

Clarke shrugged. "I'm nice when I'm drunk."

"You don't seem nice. Well, you do, but you seem sad, too."

"I was sad before I started drinking."

Lexa scrunched her brow. "I thought you were mad, not sad."

"Same thing. I'm mad because I'm sad. There's a reason the words are only a letter apart."

"Apparently you're philosophical when you're drunk, too."

"Or when I'm sad," Clarke said again.

"What are you sad about?" Lexa asked, sitting on the edge of the bed next to Clarke. "The job still?"

"Yeah. Sort of. That and, I'm sorry I've been acting so immature. I know it's stupid to be mad at you. It's not your fault and you don't deserve to be treated like shit when you were just trying to do what you thought was right. You're not a bad person, Lexa."

"Thank you," Lexa said. "I know I said I can't apologize for my decision, but I am sorry things didn't work out the way you wanted them to. I wish they could have been different."

"Me, too. I just don't want to fight anymore. This is our last day of vacation and I shouldn't be spending it drunk and sulking. You were right, arguing isn't helping anything. I just want things to be good again. At least for the rest of the night. Until I have to go home and everything sucks."

Lexa knotted her brow again. "What sucks for you at home? You've got everything. Your parents are engaged, you're starting school again. What's missing?"

You, Clarke almost said, but that wasn't exactly right. Not entirely anyway.

"It just feels like all I have sometimes is school. And that's not exactly the most fun thing in the world. I want to be a doctor and I know I'll love it when I am, but that's still years away. It feels like nothing is happening now. I know school and education and all that is important, especially when it's leading me to my future career, but everyone else around me already has jobs and apartments and boyfriends or girlfriends or fiances. I'm the last of my friends to still be single and even my mom is getting married for Christ's sake. I know I'll have all of that and catch up to everyone someday, but I just wish it felt like I was making progress now. I know having some shitty office job that has nothing to do with my career won't fix that, but at least it made me feel like I had something else to look forward to when I came home. And coming here and meeting you and meeting Cage and learning about Weather actually made me kind of like the place. It was the first time I was excited to go to work. Not to mention how hanging out with you made me feel glad to be single for the first time since I got dumped. I was playing the field and having fun and someone else was right there in the same boat with me. All of that is going to go away when we go back to D.C."

"We can't stay in New York forever, Clarke," Lexa told her. "I've had fun, too, more fun than I ever thought I would, but we do have to go back to our real lives someday."

"Tomorrow," Clarke sighed disappointingly. "'Someday' makes it feel like forever away, but it's not. We have to leave tomorrow."

"That's tomorrow, though," Lexa said. "Let's make the best of today."

"I've already wasted half the day,” Clarke sighed "I guess we still have tonight, though."

"'We?'" Lexa asked.

"Yeah. I don't want to fight anymore. Truce? Like the one we made on the plane? I just want things to be good between us again. It wasn’t your fault what happened. Do you forgive me for being a monstrous bitch?"

“I forgive you,” Lexa said. “You had a right to be upset. I’d be mad if I lost my job, too. Plus, I told you the bitch thing is kinda hot.”

Clarke laughed. “So every time I get mad at you you’re just going to get turned on?”

“Not exactly,” Lexa explained. “But I’ll still like you. You’re too cute not to like.”

“You didn’t like me before this week,” Clarke reminded her.

“Well, maybe I didn't when I met you in that airport or when you handed me a dildo at my own company Christmas party, but... you've grown on me. And I’ve thought you were cute since I called you into my office. I was pissed at you, don’t get me wrong, but I was attracted to you, too."

"Don't act like you're special,” Clarke teased. “I grow on everyone. I’m too cute not to like, remember?."

This time Lexa was the one to laugh. "You're drunk."

"No, I'm likeable,” Clarke corrected.

Lexa didn’t bother protesting this time. "Very likeable."

The kiss was slower than any they'd had before. Clarke associated alcohol with rough bouts of skin on skin and accidental scratches of teeth on lips, but Lexa kissed her even when drunk like she was going to carry her home and tuck her into bed.

Or just lay her down on it.

Clarke may have tugged on Lexa's collar, pulled her down on top of her as she laid herself down, but the details, foggy as they were, didn't matter. Lexa's weight on top of her relieved her of the weight resting on her shoulders, and that was all Clarke paid attention to as they kissed, Lexa's tongue gentle as it swiped at Clarke's bottom lip.

Lexa was adept at fitting their bodies together, a skill that came from practice, Clarke realized. She and Lexa may have only really known each other for less than a week, but already Lexa knew nearly everything about her sexually, knew what she liked and didn't like, how fast or how slow to go in the moment.

This was a slow moment.

Clarke liked it that way.

The kissing was gentle and lazy, Lexa's nose still cold where it brushed against Clarke's cheek. Clarke did her best to keep her warm, cradling Lexa's face in her palms and letting her skin take the chill from Lexa's, heating her until she was flushed. Clarke didn't dare take Lexa's clothes off yet, lest wrapping the blanket around her wouldn't be enough to warm them both.

Leisurely, Lexa made her way towards Clarke's neck, lips caressing the thin skin as if it might break. She spent extra time kissing the collage of bruises near the hollow of Clarke's throat, undoing the damage she'd done when she'd first made the hickeys there. The skin was extra sensitive, but the way Lexa touched her so softly left Clarke with no pain. Clarke kissed her hard in return, just firm enough to say 'thank you' without having to say the words.

Lexa's hands preoccupied themselves with the buttons on Clarke's pajamas. Her shirt was oversized, could probably be slipped over her head fully buttoned, but Lexa made a deal of freeing her from the fabric, sliding it off her arms with careful precision, stripping Clarke like this might be her last chance to.

Clarke didn't want to consider that this could be one of the last times they had sex. The reality that they were leaving tomorrow was something that would be dealt with just then - tomorrow. For now, Lexa was in her bed and Clarke was going to take advantage of that, free Lexa of her shirt with none of the hesitancy her own moves possessed.

As soon as their chests were bra to bra, Clarke's lips were on Lexa's again, pulling her mouth down into a kiss that seared past the cold, past the loneliness Clarke had felt this morning.

Clarke kicked off her pants, not waiting for Lexa to take initiative. She was clumsy beneath Lexa, struggling above the covers, but this wasn't the first time she'd taken off her pants while drunk, or taken off someone's pants while she was drunk. Both of them were still clad in their underwear by the time she was done, but free of most of their clothing inconveniences, Clarke felt comfortable not taking off any more, wrapping their near naked bodies with the duvet to avoid the chill of the room.

Lexa took the moment to reevaluate, make sure Clarke was fully aware of what she was doing.

"Are you good?"

"Yes."

"Are you sure? I want to do this right. I don't want you to sober up later and regret this."

Clarke didn't need to think about her reply. "I don't regret you, Lexa."

Lexa nodded, leaned down to let their foreheads bump together. Clarke's eyes were clouded, but with lust, not alcohol, and Lexa felt comfortable continuing, giving Clarke a gentle kiss on the tip of her nose before letting her hands slide down Clarke's body, lift the band of Clarke's underwear just enough to let her hand slide beneath it.

Clarke sighed at the contact, body instantly more relaxed than it had been all day as Lexa's hand smoothed over her, caressed the top of her mound and the sides of her lips with care.

"You don't have to tease me, Lexa. I'm already wet."

Lexa's fingers followed Clarke's instructions, parted Clarke's folds and dipped between the skin, into the soaked warmth that awaited her. She gave Clarke what she wanted, but never picked up her speed, never ruined the slowness of her pace. She lavished Clarke's clit in small circles, movements centered around the most sensitive part of Clarke's bud.

With every arc of her wrist, Clarke's hood slid up, exposed the bundle of flesh beneath it. Clarke fought back a gasp every time Lexa's fingers passed over her, the sensation too much. The pleasure was almost to the point of pain, but Clarke couldn't bring herself to speak up and tell Lexa to stop. This was a pain she could handle, the kind she wanted to experience if she had to experience it at all. It was such an improvement from the way she felt this morning, that she moaned deliberately, urged Lexa on as her wrist kept perfect time.

Lexa kissed her to stifle the moans, apparently more afraid of the neighbor's hearing them than she had let on before. Clarke was fine with that, tried to match the tight intensity of the knot in her stomach as she returned the kiss, hoping it would communicate to Lexa just how good what she was doing felt. She could feel Lexa squirming slightly above her, but it was nothing compared to the gentle roll Clarke had picked up with her hips. Still, Clarke couldn't stand to see her suffer..

"Let me touch you, too."

Clarke's hand slipped beneath the waistband of Lexa's briefs, and the pads of two of her fingers found Lexa's clit, moistened and stiff against the fabric of her underwear.

"You don't have to," Lexa breathed, voice harsh and high-pitched against Clarke's neck. "I want to make sure you're taken care of first."

Clarke was so touched by the sentiment, she rewarded Lexa with a touch of her own, running her fingers over Lexa's clit which pulsed beneath her, begged for more despite Lexa's dismissive words. "You are taking care of me. Let me make you feel just as good."

When Clarke's fingers picked up their pace, pressed down into Lexa in a rocking side-by-side motion, Lexa was powerless to protest. It took all of her focus not to break her rhythm, to keep her circles tight and compact. Clarke tried to mirror her resolve, but she cared less about being perfect. Her movements were sloppy, faster, but the alcohol rendered them useless to be anything else. Lexa didn't seem to be complaining. She bit back a moan, buried her face deep in the crook of Clarke's neck before stifling her groans against the skin of her shoulder.

"Don't cum before I do again," Clarke teased, kissing the side of Lexa's forehead where her cascading hair exposed her temple. "I want us to cum at the same time."

Lexa bit her lip, nodded. "I'll try my best. Don't be so good with your fingers."

Clarke stalled her movements, let her wrist lay limp inside Lexa's underwear.

"No, don't stop either," Lexa whined.

Clarke smiled.

She quickly resumed her pace, delighting in the moans of relief Lexa released when Clarke's sticky fingers made contact with her sex again. They quickly fell into a matching rhythm, Clarke's hand slower and Lexa's faster as they aligned their pace in the middle of their tempos. It was balanced that way, even, and as Clarke felt the fire in her stomach Kindle, Lexa wavered above her, dropped more of her weight against Clarke's body as her arm gave out beneath her.

"Please tell me you're close."

Clarke nodded at Lexa's words, teeth sunk too far into her bottom lip to open her mouth and reply verbally. Lexa seemed please with the response, let herself sigh a little as she relaxed deeper into Clarke, let the girl beneath her take more of her weight. Clarke was thankful for the way Lexa pressed into her, put more pressure on the hand between her legs. It only helped her cum faster.

They weren't perfectly in sync, not counting by the seconds, but the moment Clarke spasmed around Lexa's fingers, Lexa's own body responded accordingly, her own walls clenching in time with Clarke's, the same way their hands maintained their steady rhythm, which slowed as they rode out their high.

Lexa was sweatier against her than Clarke first realized, the clothes that remained working against them as things heated up. But Clarke didn't care. The smell of Lexa was strong in her nose, pungent, but welcome. The same sweat was something they would never share, no matter how many times they used the same soaps, and Clarke reveled in the feeling of another unique body beside her, hoped Lexa enjoyed being so close to her just as much. Clarke was a sweaty mess just the same, and all she could think about was how they may be able to shower together later, how this wasn't the last time they would be this close.

The aftercare kissing was lazy and sweet, just as slow as it had been when they'd started, but it died down faster, Lexa separating their lips for air and resting her head on Clarke's shoulder.

"I'm happy we made up," she said softly, words fading into Clarke's skin.

"I'm happy we made out," Clarke said in return, then laughed with more than a hint of giddiness. Usually sex sobered her up but curled up in Lexa's arms she just felt drunker than she had before.

It was a pleasant feeling.

"No regrets?" Lexa asked.

"Not a one," Clarke responded, and the kiss she left atop Lexa's head was all the confirmation either of them needed.

Chapter Text

Waking up probably would have been easier if Lexa didn't still have to pack.

They'd wasted away the night before in bed, and as a result it was crunch time. Lexa was up and at 'em earlier than Clarke had gotten up since the day she'd left for this trip, and waking up to watch Lexa stuff her suitcase didn't sound like the most entertaining thing in the world.

If they'd have done this last night, there would still be time to have sex this morning before they left.

Of course, if they'd done this last night, they wouldn't have had time to have sex then either.

There was no winning this battle.

“If you get up we can hit the continental breakfast before we have to go to the airport,” Lexa tempted.

Breakfast did sound good. Clarke remembered eating a lot last night, but most of that was Lexa’s pussy and very little of it was actual food. “I’m hungry, but I don’t want to move," she groaned.

"Want me to go get you something?" Lexa asked. "I think they let you bring stuff up to the rooms."

"Could you?" Clarke said, more grateful than questioning. "You don't have to if it won't leave you with enough time to finish packing."

"I have time," Lexa said. "You helped me get some of my stuff together yesterday, remember? The least I can do is go get you food. Give and take, right?"

"Yeah," Clarke said, relaxing into the bed sheets and relishing the cool feel of them against her skin. "Thank you."

Clarke was on the brink of drifting off to sleep again, body wedged into the patch of warmth Lexa had imprinted on the sheets during the night, when Lexa returned, coffee and bagels and donuts in hand, the baked goods resting on a thick pile of napkins already coated in sprinkles of cracked glazing. Greedily, she snatched a few rings from Lexa, not caring how many crumbs fell onto the sheets. She was never going to sleep here again after all.

Clarke enjoyed her breakfast as she watched Lexa pack, taking sips of her coffee and bites of her bagel between folding different outfits. She worked meticulously, but at a good pace, and she was onto packing her bathroom stuff before Clarke even thought about getting up and taking a shower.

She wasn't going to, she decided. She could shower when she got home. Plus, she kind of liked having the scent of Lexa on her from the night before, the musk of her sweat evidence of the way their bodies had been joined. Not knowing when or if she would ever smell that way again, she wasn't ready to give up the feeling just yet.

Coffee in her veins, Clarke got up, put on her last clean outfit, and traversed the hallway to the bathroom to put her makeup on and gather her things while Lexa did the same.

The bedroom felt empty when it was so clean. Lexa's laptop was no longer on the desk, no clothes littered the floor, what little food had been left on the kitchen counter was stuffed away into their bags, and apart from the rumpled sheets and full trashcans, no one would guess that two girls had been living here for the past week. It didn't look the same as it did while it was inhabited, and Clarke didn't feel as sad about leaving it behind as she thought she would.

Her luggage sure felt heavier than it did when she'd first carried it upstairs, though. Probably because Lexa was the one who had actually carried their bags when they moved in. And also because Clarke might have stashed a giant, mostly uneaten bag of animal crackers in one of the side pockets of her suitcase near the dildo. She hadn't had time to put either of them inside of her as much as she would have liked during this trip, and she planned to make up for that lost time as soon as she got home.

The concierge at the front desk was the same one that had greeted them their first day here, some high school boy who barely knew what he was doing as he took their key cards and checked them out of the system.

"Did you have a nice time?" he asked them, trying to distract from his incompetence with small talk. Clarke was more distracted by the huge zit on the end of his nose.

"Yes, thank you," Lexa answered for them, polite smile forced upon her face.

"New York is great for romantic getaways," he added, punching some keys on the computer.

This kid looked like he had never talked to a girl in his life. Clarke couldn't tell if it was his inexperience with dating that made him assume she and Lexa were and couple or his vast experience with jacking off to lesbian porn that made him project his fantasies onto the two of them.

She refused to think that it may have been because they were acting like a couple.

Put off as she was, she was still going to play along and have fun with him.

"Yes, it is," she agreed, reaching out and threading her arm through Lexa's. Lexa seemed surprised at first, but caught on to the game, swayed gently closer to Clarke's side.

“Do you ladies want me to call a cab for you?” the boy asked, clearly overeager for the opportunity. Clarke wanted to treat him like a dog, tell him to call down.

“We’re good,” Lexa said. “We can get one ourselves.”

“Oh,” he pouted, handing Lexa some final papers. “Well, you're all checked out now. I hope you enjoyed your stay.”

The exchange was awkward, but on the boy's part more than anyone's, and as soon as Clarke and Lexa were out the hotel doors they were laughing about it, joking about their 'romantic getaway' all the way to the airport gateway. It was only when they found themselves on the plane seats that their conversation died down. Clarke’s voice felt hoarse from talking so much, but if this was going to be her last morning with Lexa, she was going to milk it.

And speaking of milking things, there was no reason they shouldn’t try to get the most of this plane flight.

"Excuse me." Clarke flagged down a steward whose name tag read 'Jasper.' He was skinny, young, probably a college student just like Clarke, though definitely a couple years younger. He stopped for Clarke like her word was law. He was new, probably, and scared of not doing his job satisfactorily. "Do you know if there's a stewardess named Harper on this flight or is this not her shift?"

"I'm afraid not, ma'am," he answered. "Harper was recently fired."

Clarke gave Lexa a scandalized look before turning back to Jasper. "Why?"

His eyes shifted uncomfortably, not prepared for the prying as he ransacked his brain for a company moniker to use in this situation. "That's information I'm not allowed to reveal to passengers."

That just made Clarke want to find out even more. She lowered her voice to a whisper for Jasper's sake, letting him know she didn't want his superiors to overhear the conversation either. "No, but, really. What does a flight attendant get fired for anyway? Giving someone the wrong bag of peanuts?"

"Or sleeping with the passengers in the bathroom stall," Jasper whispered back. "Either or."

Jasper walked away, and Clarke turned back to Lexa who looked like she was enjoying this gossip almost as much as Clarke. "So much for seducing her into first class again," Clarke told her. "I guess we'll have to live with coach."

Lexa raised an eyebrow. "You certainly couldn't live with coach on the way to New York."

"Yeah, well, I lost my job recently so I can't afford to bribe anyone into giving us better seats."

"One, that's a lie, and two, you could probably flirt with Jasper and get him to do it. I'm not even sure he's legal, so he's probably into slightly older women."

"One, how dare you call me old, and two, I'm not in the mood to flirt today."

"You've been flirting with me all morning,” Lexa said. “Or did you forget about the romantic getaway we’re supposedly on?”

"Ok, I'm not in the mood to flirt with anyone other than you," Clarke corrected.

"I'm strangely okay with that."

"Good."

Coach was... less than pleasant and definitely not up to Clarke's standards if she spent too much time looking around, but for a majority of the flight she barely even remembered where she was.

She had the occasional reminder: the woman in front of her whose seat was four inches away from her face and the way her legs cramped when she was unable to stretch them out for fear of kicking the back of the woman in front of her (although she indulged once or twice), but Clarke was glad not to have the second breakfast first class would have given her, and Lexa was a good distraction. They could easily talk their way through the next hour, though Clarke did try to keep their conversation hushed for the sake of any eavesdropping passengers. Most people around them were either asleep, in the middle of their own conversations, or listening to the in-flight movie on their headphones, but she could never be too careful.

"This is going to be a long flight," Lexa noted, eyeing the chair practically in Clarke's face, sympathetic but also glad the woman's husband in front of her wasn't quite as rude as his wife.

"You wanna sneak off to the bathroom and join the mile high club? That'll kill some time."

"As much as I would love to have sex with you, I don't want to do it in an airplane bathroom."

"Does that mean our sex spree is officially over?" Clarke asked. "Unless you want to have sex with me in the airport bathroom, I think we're running out of opportunities."

"The airport restroom is probably less sanitary than the airplane one," Lexa said. "I think we are officially done having sex on this vacation."

"Damn. Well, you've got my phone number. If you ever need someone to sext at three in the morning, hit me up. Actually, don't. If it's three a.m. I'm either drunk or asleep and if I'm drunk I'm in no position to consent to sending you nudes and if I'm asleep I am not waking up to answer my phone. But if you need someone to sext at ten o'clock at night before you go to bed, I'm your girl."

Lexa laughed, smile glued to her face. "I won't object to you sending me nudes, but know that I don't send them back. I trust you, but you can never be too careful with these things. I don't need naked photos of myself all over the Internet. The thought of Cage finding something like that fuels my nightmares."

"Ok, Grandma. You sure sound fun to sext."

"I'm probably not," Lexa admitted. "But we could always just make plans to meet up sometime."

"Secret hookups with your ex-employee," Clarke sing-songed, trying to hide her excitement at the prospect of seeing Lexa after this trip was over. She wanted to, but she didn't want to be too pushy about it. She wanted Lexa to want to, too, and not just because Clarke convinced her they should. "That's hot. I like it."

Lexa face blushed hot as Clarke egged her on, but she spoke coolly and calmly with a shrug of her shoulders. "It doesn't always have to be about sex. We could just hang out. Get drinks sometime."

"And then fuck in the back of a cab?" Clarke prompted.

"We can't have almost public sex in D.C. Someone might recognize me, and I can't live with that embarrassment for the rest of my life."

"I guess what happens in New York stays in New York, huh?"

"Not all of it. Just that part. We can still do drinks. And find places to go together. Have you been to all the monuments in D.C.?"

"A lot of them. But not all of them," Clarke said.

"Then maybe I can show you around the ones you haven't been to," Lexa proposed. "You were my tour guide to New York, so I can be your tour guide to D.C."

"Deal. Then we can get dinner together, too. Maybe not street cart hot dogs, but I know a few good restaurants."

"And I know a few good bars I haven't been banished from."

"Sightseeing, dinner, and drinks? Kinda sounds like you just agreed to take me out on a date."

"I didn't call it that," Lexa defended. "But if that's what you think constitutes a date, we've been dating for an entire week now."

"Maybe I'm okay with that," Clarke admitted.

"Maybe I am too."

Clarke's heart was racing, pounding in a way that she hadn't remembered it doing since Finn, but she tried to calm herself down. She and Lexa were sort of joking around. They hadn't actually made serious plans to start dating. There were no official titles, no grand declarations of romance. Just a promise of maybe. And that was enough for Clarke. Maybe left her with enough time to sort out her feelings, to know if she just missed being in a relationship or if it was Lexa she really wanted.

Plus, she was having too much fun to complicate things just yet. There was no sense in ruining something good, and what she and Lexa had was great.

The in-flight movie wasn't great, but Clarke wasn't watching it all that much anyway. She used it as an excuse to look at something other than Lexa, afraid she was staring too hard at the woman beside her. It was also perfect for commentary, and Lexa was all too easy to make laugh with some brief little quip about how the main woman in the film chose her haircut from an '80s fashion catalog or how the male lead opposite her was thirty years older than the woman who was supposed to be his love interest. It was a good preview of things maybe to come, foreshadowing for nights spent watching movies together and laughing at cheesy romantic comedies on Clarke's couch. Clarke got more from that than she got out of the movie itself, and when the plane landed an hour later, it was the time with Lexa she was going to miss, not figuring out how the movie ended.

They stepped off the plane with more nostalgia than jetlag. As much as Clarke had been dreading coming home for the past week, boy did it suddenly feel nice to be back in D.C. She could go home, sleep in her own bed, do laundry. She was still sad to part ways with Lexa for the first time in six days, but she would trade the separation anxiety for a home-cooked meal, even if her mother wasn't home and she had to make it herself.

Clarke stood at the gate with her luggage in hand, swaying awkwardly beside Lexa who stretched her lengthy limbs like she'd been cooped up in the plane for hours instead of forty-five minutes.

This was the part where they said their goodbyes, where Clarke would be forced to discover the magic words that would leave Lexa missing her and wanting more. She had nothing, though, nothing profound or clever to say, just a desperate desire to make small talk, stall until they reached the parking lot and maybe even past then. Maybe by some miracle Lexa's apartment was only a few blocks from Clarke's house and they could take a final cab ride together. Maybe Clarke could see where Lexa lived.

Lexa was the first to break the silence. Clarke kind of wish she hadn't. "Anya's picking me up," she started, glancing down nonchalantly at her phone and avoiding Clarke's eyes.

Anya.

Fuck.

Clarke had almost forgotten about her. In New York she was irrelevant, a woman hundreds of miles away that could only communicate with Lexa through text or phone call, but now that they were back in D.C. Anya was all too real and all too much of a threat. Clarke and Lexa had just started talking about dating, and now suddenly Anya was in the picture, too, probably just as unofficially dating Lexa as Clarke was.

Clarke tried not to think about it too hard. Of course Anya would want to pick Lexa up. They had barely talked in days and they needed afternoon to catch up, on work just as much as personal matters. Clarke didn't need to be jealous. She knew whose bed Lexa had been in for the past week after all.

"Oh. Cool." She tried to sound disinterested.

"I have to find her," Lexa explained.

Clarke was not going to let that be their goodbye. "I'll help you look. And keep you company just in case she stands you up."

"She's here already," Lexa said, waving her phone lightly. "She just texted me."

"Where is she?"

"By the luggage."

"I guess she's waiting for hers, huh? I forgot you took her stuff and she hasn't had a toothbrush in a week."

"She has another toothbrush," Lexa promised.

"So you think. Just don't stand too close to her until you offer her a stick of gum."

Lexa tried to hold back a laugh, but Clarke saw the smile tug at the corner of her lips.

"Let's go find her."

Anya was exactly where she said she'd be, standing by the luggage carousel like a kid about to get on a plastic pony and ride a horse for the first time. She had the same air of excitement about her, body buzzing with anticipation and feet shuffling firmly against the ground. Clarke and Lexa saw her before she looked up from her phone and saw them.

Lexa had been by Clarke's side since the gate, but now she lurched forward, walking calmly but quickly towards Anya who met her halfway and enveloped her in a loose hug. It was an awkward embrace, but if there was anyone who looked more apprehensive about public displays of affection than Lexa, it was Anya. Clarke had a feeling the moment between them was more special than it looked.

The exchange was brief, though, and no more than a hug. They quickly parted, all professionalism, as Anya spotted Clarke over Lexa's shoulder. She whispered something in Lexa's ear purposefully out of Clarke's earshot and Clarke could just barely make out Lexa's reply.

"I missed you, too."

Clarke pretended not to hear. For her own sake and Anya's. As far as Anya was concerned, her relationship with Lexa was still a secret. Clarke wasn't going to freak her out by letting her know she knew.

Plus, she had her own secrets to keep from Anya.

Before the hug, Lexa dropped her carry-on at her feet, and Anya picked it up now without hesitation, happy to carry it for her. The generosity was unexpected but didn't just extend towards Lexa.

"You need a ride back to the office?"

It took Clarke a moment to realize Anya was talking to her.

The thought of being in a car with Anya and Lexa driving to a place she didn't even work at anymore did not sound like a good way to spend her afternoon.

"No, thanks. I can just get a cab. I don't really have any reason to go back to the office."

"You have to come," Lexa coaxed. "I've got a surprise waiting for you."

"A surprise?" That caught Clarke off guard. What the hell did Lexa have planned for her at the office? Some kind of going away party?

"I've been working on it for a couple days," Lexa explained. "Anya's been helping me."

Now Clarke was even more confused. "No offense," Clarke started, turning her head back to Anya. "But why were you helping?"

"Because I owe you one," Anya said simply. "You lost your job so that I didn't have to lose mine. Consider us even now."

Clarke considered them even the moment she got to have sex with Lexa, but Anya didn't need to know about that. Maybe she would check out this surprise. It wouldn't hurt to go to the office for a while, even if she did have to ride there with Anya. There was a chance it could stir up those bad feelings again, the disappointment that she couldn't work there anymore, but maybe it would remind her how much she hated it in the first place. Maybe it would soothe her. And if nothing else, she might be able to talk to Octavia again.

"Alright," she submitted. "You sold me. Let's go."

Anya's car was nice for not being too expensive. She kept it clean which shouldn't have come as a surprise considering how immaculate Lexa was. It made sense that she'd want a woman who had a similar sense of organization.

By complete coincidence, Clarke vowed to clean up her room when she got home.

She strapped herself into the backseat as Lexa climbed into the front. Clarke felt exactly like she had in the airport, an outsider, watching the two of them interact and give her little concern. Anya hauled their luggage into the trunk as Lexa fumbled with the radio dial without permission. Anya made no protests about NPR when she slipped into the driver's seat.

The backseat felt empty without Lexa, but Clarke busied herself by turning her phone back on, thumbing a group text to her friends and her parents that said nothing more than "WE'RE BACK BITCHES!" She smiled as the string of congratulation messages buzzed in, emojis greeting her with smiley faces and a vague, quick text from Octavia that was nothing more than "Can't wait for you to tell me everything. Martini glass martini glass martini glass."

She chuckled to herself, then looked up and caught eyes with Lexa who smiled back at her in the rear view mirror, clearly excited by her own joys of homecoming. They both tuned out Anya for the moment as Clarke made a face, watched Lexa laugh at the ridiculousness of it in the mirror. The giggle caught Anya's attention, made her turn her head towards the mirror to look at Clarke, but by then Clarke straightened her face out, gave no indication that she and Lexa had just shared a moment. Anya's confusion made Lexa laugh all the more and Anya pretended not to be as dumfounded as she was, placing her eyes back on the road after only a moment of shifting them between Lexa and Clarke.

"Did you guys have fun on the trip?" Anya's attempt at small talk was awkward, an obvious effort to wedge herself into a moment she was being kept out of, but Lexa didn't sense the tension as well as Clarke did. She was happy to answer.

"As much fun as two people can have when they have to deal with Cage Wallace multiple times in one week."

"I hate that guy," Anya agreed. "I commend you for not killing him, Clarke. I probably would have. I can't believe you gave him the company," she said to Lexa.

"I didn't. Dante did. There was little I could do to fight it, or I would have. I know it sucks, but I think it'll help us out in the long run. Cage is an asshole, but he knows what's he's doing."

"He's already helping," Anya admitted. "He called me yesterday. He said he's sending supplies."

"I know. I talked to him, too. He's had the arrangements in place before I even found out Dante was giving him the company. I don't like how he's doing some of this without any of my input, but at least he took initiative. Dante contemplates his decisions too long. Cage acts."

"We'll see how it goes," Anya said. "Worst comes to worst, I can go to New York and kill him and you can tyrannically seize ownership of the company."

"I don't want anybody to die," Lexa said.

"Murder is occasionally necessary. I'm not sure why it isn't situationally legal already. Clarke could take out Cage with me, couldn't she?"

As much as Clarke wasn't a fan of Cage, killing him wasn't her first option, and telling Kane to write a bill legalizing murder wasn't on her to-do list either. She could see where Anya was coming from, but she also knew how Lexa felt about death.

"I'd spare him. He's not worth the trouble."

Lexa's smile was faint, but it was there and Clarke appreciated it in the mirror until it passed.

She'd gained a couple extra brownie points with Lexa, but she wasn't doing much to win over Anya. She was quieter the rest of the ride to the office, made fewer attempts to include Clarke in the conversation. Clarke was okay with that. She read her text messages again, skimmed over Monty's smiley faces, Raven's emoji-less welcome, and her mom's promise that she and Kane would be home with her by the end of next week. She was excited to see them all, and when Anya’s car scoped out its spot in the parking lot of the office building, Clarke was the first one out onto the pavement.

She lingered behind, waiting for Anya and Lexa, but she bounced on the balls of her feet the entire excruciatingly long time they took getting out of the car. She was more excited than ever to see the dump where they worked, knowing she would never have to suffer another awkward car ride with Anya ever again in her life and that Octavia was just inside those doors waiting for her, along with whatever gift Lexa had planned. Clarke lead the three of them into the elevator. The space was too small to comfortably accommodate the tension in the air, but Clarke didn't care. The torture was over quick enough when the doors opened to their floor.

"I need to go to my office first and sort out a couple of things," Lexa told Clarke, sensing her anticipation.

"That's alright," Clarke said. "I'll go talk to Octavia for a few. Say hi to everybody. You can come get me when you're ready."

"I won't be long," Lexa promised, but Clarke didn't have time to tell her to tell as as long as she needed. Clarke had plenty of catching up to do, and when Lexa walked towards her office with Anya following at her heels, Clarke took off in the opposite direction towards her and Octavia's old cubicle.

It was about now that Clarke was happy she hadn't told Octavia about Lexa wanting to give her her job back in the first place. Explaining to her mom how she now wasn't going to have any job, let alone the promotion she said she was probably going to get, was embarrassing enough. At least she wouldn't have to hear the end of it from Octavia, too. As far as she knew, Clarke still hated this shit hole and was glad to have gotten the notice of termination from Lexa before they ever even left for New York.

Octavia was right where Clarke thought she'd be, her back turned away from the entrance of the cubicle hard at working typing on... a new computer?

Clarke didn't have time to question the updated technology. Octavia's old monitor was sitting right next to the new one, dormant and unused and the dark blankness of its glass acted like a mirror, giving away Clarke's presence to Octavia out of the corner of her eye as soon as she stepped up behind it. Octavia turned around, mouth-agape, to confirm her suspicions and was up and out of the chair within seconds, arms around Clarke in a hug harder than any Lexa had ever given her. The squeal she let out probably alarmed half of the office, but both of them were too caught up in their reunion to care.

"You're back!"

"Yep." Clarke smiled. "Just got here. Is that a new computer?"

"Yes! They came in this morning. Raven just finished setting mine up for me. It's awesome. I don't know what you and Lexa said to the owners while you were gone, but whatever you did, it worked. We're finally entering the twenty-first century."

According to Anya, Cage had just ordered this stuff yesterday, and it was already here. Talk about express delivery. Fuck Amazon Prime, Clarke wanted whatever Cage used. She was impressed. Not that she would admit that to anyone's face, especially Cage's.

Octavia wasn't the only one with a new computer. Clarke's old desk held one, too. The only thing else around it, however, was her old monitor. The space was still empty, unoccupied.

"They haven't replaced me yet?" she asked.

"Nope," Octavia told her. "I'm just as surprised as you are. Maybe Lexa has to approve new employees and she couldn't do that while she was in New York."

"Maybe," Clarke said, but she doubted that. Anya was running things just fine. And as far as Clarke was aware, Lexa didn't need to assert her authority over such small positions. She had bigger things to do than that.

"It's all very bittersweet," Octavia continued. "It's boring as hell sitting over here alone, but having no cube-mate is better than having an annoying one. Hopefully whoever they hire is decent."

"They'll never measure up to me," Clarke bragged.

"You're right," Octavia agreed. "No one could ever measure up to the amount of time you wasted on the job. Your slacking was truly impressive."

Clarke pretended to be offended, sticking her tongue out at her best friend, but mostly she just laughed with her.

"Not to be a bitch," Octavia started when the giggling died down. "But why are you here? I didn't think I'd ever see you in the office again after you got fired. You hate it here."

"I came to see you!" Clarke told her. Octavia raised an eyebrow unconvincingly. Clarke submitted, voice wavering in guilt. "...And Lexa's supposed to have some sort of surprise for me."

"Surprise?" Octavia asked. "What do you think it is?"

"I don't know. That was my subtle way of asking you if Lexa's been planning to throw me a going away party."

"Not that I'm aware of. But no one tells me anything around here except for Miller. And he hasn't mentioned any parties."

"Damn," Clarke cursed. "I have no idea what she's giving me, then."

"I bet it's a dildo," Octavia joked.

Clarke would have been amused if Lexa hadn't already given her a sex toy as a going away gift the day before. "I doubt it. She said Anya was in on it, and that'd be kind of weird if they were both giving me sex toys."

"Are you not sleeping with Anya, too?" Octavia asked. "I assumed after Lexa you'd just start making rounds with all of management. I bet you'd even fuck Miller if he wasn't gay."

The thought of sleeping with anyone other than Lexa right now was not one that appealed to Clarke. Anya was hot and Miller was cute and she could see what Lexa and Monty saw in them, but Lexa was more than good enough for her right now. "Why downgrade to the vice president when I'm already sleeping with the president?" Clarke reasoned, offering Octavia a valid excuse even if wasn't her own reasoning.

"Good point," Octavia said. "I guess Cage is your next target. The owner is the only step up."

Clarke didn't even want to think about that.

"You have no idea what you just said to me."

"He's that bad, huh?"

"Yeah."

"Well he can't be that awful. He did get us new computers after all."

"There's a difference between respecting someone for his business sense and liking him enough to have sex with him."

"True. Lincoln may run one of the best gyms in town, but he is definitely an asshole. I'd take Raven over him any day. I don't care if she isn't as rich. Or as ripped."

"Raven could kick Lincoln's ass, muscle or not."

"Could Lexa kick Cage's?"

"If she wanted to," Clarke decided. "But she's got more self-control than that. Jumping into fights isn't always the best option."

"Like how I jumped into that fight for you in ninth grade without even knowing who the girl you were fighting was, only to discover that that fight was absolutely your fault and you deserved an ass whooping for talking shit about her?"

"That was one time," Clarke defended. "And I didn't tell you to fight for me."

"'Octavia, come help me stomp this bitch!' sure sounded like a cry for help to me."

"Ok, maybe I did, but, you know what? I still think that girl was a bitch, and it meant a lot to me that you were willing to get suspended for something that had nothing to do with you. You stepped up to save my ass without question, and that's how I knew you and I were in it for the long haul."

"Would Lexa save your ass without question?"

Clarke didn't much like her tone. It wasn't aggressive, but it wasn't innocent either. She was being a detective. Octavia was always more critical of people than Clarke was, especially when it came to someone her best friend was sleeping with. If Octavia didn't think they were a good person, she would say it.

Lexa hadn't stepped up to save her from Cage.

It wasn't the same though. At least that's what she tried to tell herself. Clarke wasn't in physical harm.

Luckily, Monty saved her from having to answer the question, rushing into their cubicle hand in hand with Miller.

“Clarke! You’re back!” He abandoned his boyfriend’s side to hug her, and she reciprocated the embrace, always glad to share the same space as Monty's positivity. Miller was more subtle in his affection, but he smiled at her warmly, Monty's good mood rubbing off on him as well.

"For now," Clarke said.

"We have to catch up later," Miller warned. "Lexa wants you in her office."

The fact that Lexa sent Miller as her messenger made Clarke wonder if he was in on the surprise, too.

"Did she say why?" Clarke asked, trying not to sound too eager.

"She just said she was expecting you."

Damn. Either Miller was a good liar or he didn't know anything about the surprise either. So much for a party. If Miller wasn't planning one, no one was. Anya couldn't organize the whole thing by herself.

"How do you manage to get called into the boss' office when you don't even work here anymore?" Monty asked, dumbfounded, yet impressed.

"I'm just that good," Clarke bragged.

"Or that bad," Monty retorted. "Better go see what she wants. I don't want Lexa to take out her rage on the rest of us."

It was weird hearing anyone talk so negatively about Lexa. It was even stranger to think that Clarke had been just as afraid of her only a couple of weeks ago before they met, before New York, before she realized Lexa was not nearly as intimidating as the persona she tried to put on.

It also meant that Monty wasn't in on the gift either. That just made Clarke more excited to find out what it was.

"I'll be back guys."

Monty didn’t look convinced, like he didn't think Clarke would survive Lexa's wrath, but he sent her off with a wave, hopeful.

It took Clarke a moment to remember where Lexa’s office was having only been there once before, but when she rounded the right corner, Lexa’s office was unmistakable, Anya still standing in the room and the two women still talking at Lexa’s desk. Clarke watched for a moment, not knowing what she expected. She thought Anya would be out of the room by now, wouldn’t be witness to whatever gift Lexa was going to present her with, even if she had put effort into helping plan it. Clarke stood outside the room for a moment, observing the two women, but looking for what she didn’t know. There was nothing about their body language that suggested they were any more than coworkers, knew each other any way other than professionally.

Anya saw Clarke before Lexa did, locked eyes with Clarke through the pane of glass and watched like she was looking for something, too. If she found it, she gave no indication.

Anya said something to Lexa indiscernible through the walls, then cocked her head in Clarke's direction. Lexa looked towards her, smiled briefly, then went for the door.

Clarke tried to take a peek at Lexa's desk while she was away from it. Between Lexa reaching the door and Anya walking out of it, Clarke couldn't see anything in the room that screamed 'gift,' no wrapping paper or satin bows. But Lexa was better at hiding than that. Clarke trusted her to come through with something awesome.

“Come on in, Clarke.”

By inviting Clarke in, Lexa was showing Anya out. The two nodded goodbye to each other silently as Clarke slipped inside the office, Lexa on her heels after shutting the door behind them.

Clarke was quick to take Anya’s spot, sink into the chair in front of Lexa’s desk as Lexa slipped into the bigger one behind it. It felt right to be in Lexa’s office this time, not intimidating at all. It was just an extension of Lexa, another place she wanted to cohabitate with her, only this one wasn’t as temporary. Lexa had settled in years ago, and would probably be here for years to come. Everything around her was Lexa, the lack of dust even on the oldest and most dormant of files, the dark leather of the chair she sat in, the bronzed plaque in front of her computer she’d no doubt had custom made herself. As much as Monty had been afraid of this place, Clarke was just upset she would never get to see more of it.

She diverted her disappointment, distracted herself from her impending departure. It was better to get down to the nitty gritty before she got too sentimental.

"So what's my present?"

Lexa smiled at her eagerness, then pushed a stack of paperwork towards her across the mahogany. Clarke looked down at the desk, disappointed. "Papers?"

"An employment contract," Lexa corrected. "It's for your old filing position."

"Oh," Clarke said, still confused as to how this could be considered a gift. "Your idea of a surprise was telling me about the person who’s getting my old job?”

“I thought you’d like it,” Lexa said, and she was so genuine that Clarke had a hard time telling her just how not excited she was to be hearing about this.

“Well, who is it?”

"You," Lexa said. "If you want it to be, that is."

Clarke was speechless, unsure if she'd heard Lexa right. "What? How?"

"Loopholes," Lexa explained. "Cage said I had to fire you because you were a bad assistant. He never said I couldn't rehire you in a different position."

Just like that, Clarke was back in the game, had her job back just as suddenly as she lost it. It was surreal to look down again, see her name written on the pages below her.

This was real, and it was a better surprise than any going-away party would ever be.

"Is this for real?" Clarke asked. "It was that easy?"

"If Cage can work behind my back, I can work behind his," Lexa reasoned. "I called and told Anya to prepare the papers yesterday. All you have to do is sign."

"Give me a pen," Clarke said without even pausing to think about it.

Lexa laughed. "I take it that means you want the position?"

"Yeah, I want it," Clarke said, looking Lexa deep in the eye.

Lexa's smile was sweeter than that feeling of picking up that pen, of signing her name on the contract and solidifying the deal, and that was a pretty sweet moment in Clarke's book, looking down and seeing the letters of her name on the page, just above Lexa's own signature. It was one of the highlights of the lady week, and this week had been nothing for Clarke to joke about

She handed the papers back to Lexa with mock formality, Lexa accepting them like a proposition, standing up and rounding the desk to shake Clarke's hand.

"Welcome to Weather, Clarke."

There was nothing professional about the way Clarke launched up in thanks, threw her arms around Lexa's neck in a hug that could mirror even Octavia's intensity. Lexa didn't even try to shrug her off. She hugged back, arms firm around Clarke's spine.

Lexa was an even better hugger than Octavia or Monty, and a better hugger than Finn or Anya would ever be.

"If we weren't at work I would kiss you right now," Clarke admitted, not even caring that they were thoughts she should probably keep to herself.

She expected Lexa to chastise her, remind her that they were at work and such thoughts weren’t allowed at the office, but instead she felt Lexa pull away from her, throw her head back just far enough to look out the windows to see if anyone was around, then lean back in to grant Clarke’s request, locking the two of them in a kiss that was short but sweet enough to last Clarke a lifetime.

Or at least until they could see each other again outside of work.

When Lexa ended the hug, she came away pink, face down to hide her smile and the redness of her cheeks, but not before Clarke saw. She wouldn't tease Lexa for the reckless bravery, though, not when it lead to kissing.

"So when do I start?" Clarke asked, distancing herself physically from Lexa and trying to remind herself that this was a professional relationship just as much as a ...whatever the hell else relationship it was.

"You're scheduled for Monday morning," Lexa told her.

"And what are you scheduled for Saturday night?" Clarke asked, just as brave as Lexa had been moments before.

"I'm scheduled for whatever you want to do," Lexa said.

"So you're scheduled for yourself?"

Lexa laughed. "Sounds like it. We’ll make plans later. I’ll text you. I'll be with Anya tonight, but I'll find the time."

"You better," Clarke threatened.

"And you better go settle into your new desk,” Lexa said, then corrected herself. “Or, well, your old one."

"I will. Thank you again, Lexa."

"Don't. This was the right thing to do. You don't have to thank me."

"I will, though," Clarke told her, reaching for the door. "I'll make it up to you this weekend."

Lexa smiled at her, found her place behind her desk. "I'm looking forward to it."

Clarke couldn't get back to her cubicle fast enough. She shut the door to Lexa's office behind her, smiled at Lexa through the windows, and set off down the hall at a speed that was definitely not appropriate for a workplace environment.

The sound of Clarke's shoes on tile startled Octavia, made her whip her head up from her desk like she'd been caught looking at porn.

"You're back already?" Octavia asked.

Clarke shook her head. "No. I'm back for good."

Chapter Text

"Clarke, how many times have I told you to stop emailing me pictures of cats while we're at work?"

"Cats? Did I send the wrong email?" Clarke whirled around in her seat, making use of its wheels and sliding towards Octavia's side of the cubicle to get a better look at her screen.

Octavia sighed, but let Clarke into her personal space. "Let me guess: it's dogs this time?"

"You didn't even open the file," Clarke protested with a pout.

"I don't have to, Clarke. I know you."

"Just open it." Clarke wheeled back to her computer, glad to find it still on. These new models didn't crash every time she left them idle. Cage may have been the devil, but he wasn't without his blessings.

"Fine." The typing of keys and the clicking of Octavia's mouse filled the cubicle as she followed Clarke's instructions. The momentary silence that followed was telling. "Oh my god," Octavia started. "Is this - did you do actual work?"

In such a small space, Clarke could practically feel Octavia breathing on the back of her neck as she whipped around to face her. Clarke didn't turn around to meet the stare, though. "Yeah," she answered nonchalantly, eyes on her computer.

"Who are you and what have you done with Clarke? You've been so different since you've come back from New York."

"I have not been that different," Clarke protested.

"You have at work," Octavia argued. "I haven't even had to yell at you to stay on task at all this week. I figured with you going back to school you'd just be doing homework here."

"I do my homework at school," Clarke told her. "And speaking of getting back to work, shouldn't you?"

Octavia sighed. "There's the smart ass I know. And by the way, I have a break in two minutes. So chill."

Clarke's eyes darted to the clock. Sure enough, they did have break coming up. That was Clarke's cue to go.

"In that case," Clarke started, rising from her chair. "I gotta jet. See you in a few."

Clarke tried to speed out of the cubicle, but Octavia was having none of it. "Where are you off to in such a hurry? The new coffee maker is not that interesting."

"I'm not getting more coffee," Clarke said. "I have to... pee."

Octavia narrowed her eyes. "Clarke, I know when you're lying. If you have the coffee runs you can tell me."

"Gross," Clarke said. Octavia wasn't distracted by her feigned disgust. "Fine. I'm not going to the bathroom. I'm going to see Lexa."

"And by see you mean fuck, right?"

"Shh!" Clarke placed a finger in front of her lips. Octavia rolled her eyes.

"Clarke, I already know you two are sleeping together. This really isn't a secret you have to keep from me."

"I'm not trying to keep it from you," Clarke said honestly. "Lexa's just worried about someone finding out, so I'm trying to keep it on the down low. Don't shout it out like that."

"Sorry," Octavia spoke softly, lowering her voice. "I shouldn't be riding your ass about it anyway. I'm glad you're sleeping with Lexa. Now that she's getting laid she's less of a bitch."

Lexa's reputation around the office was improving lately, mostly because she was being less of a hardass. It wasn't because she was getting laid, though. Lexa was sleeping with Anya long before Clarke came along. It was the fact that the office was running more smoothly and efficiently that was relaxing Lexa. She didn't have to be as stressed or as strict when things were going well and productivity was up.

Clarke would take the credit for her improved mood, though. She almost wished she could attribute Lexa's rise in mood to their relationship.

Not that it was really a relationship.

Whatever they had was still mostly sex with the occasional 'I brought you coffee from the break room' gestures of affection, which really wasn't any different than what Clarke and Octavia would do for each other on occasion.

Except for the fact that Clarke and Octavia weren't having sex with each other.

Clarke was reaping her own benefits of Lexa's pep, though, so she wasn't going to complain about the real cause.

"She'll be a bitch for the rest of the afternoon if you cockblock her by stalling me,” Clarke argued. Can I go now? Or would you like to ask how my classes are going as well?"

"How are your classes going?" Octavia asked smugly.

"Better than how your face is going to look after I punch you,” Clarke told her. "I'll be back in fifteen."

Clarke escaped Octavia easily this time. She raced down the corridor without being followed, checking her watch inconspicuously as she neared her destination. Fourteen minutes left of her break. She was late, but not too late. She could make it to the supply closet with plenty of time to spare.

The office wasn't built for sex. The storage closets were empty and tiny, barely big enough for one person to walk into and when Clarke found herself shut inside of them with Lexa, it reminded her of watching nerds be shoved into lockers in high school. The closet seemed even smaller now than Clarke remembered it when she first got the job, probably because it was full for the first time in years, stocked with extra office supplies in case someone broke their stapler or ran out of post it notes where before it had almost always been empty, with no extra supplies to spare to store. Fitting inside the closet was a hassle, but it was a hassle very much worth the effort.

The room was mostly dark when Clarke stepped inside, but the glow in Lexa's eyes when she saw Clarke lit up the whole room. When Clarke reached up to tug the string of the light dangling above their heads, it was almost a formality rather than a necessity. She did appreciate the added ability to see Lexa's outfit under the lights, though. A white button up Clarke would have to resist the urge to rip and a skin tone bra underneath it a few shades lighter than Lexa's complexion. It's contours were clearly visible beneath the thin material of the blouse, and Clarke wondered if Lexa had purposefully chosen her outfit just to tease her.

"You're late," Lexa whispered playfully.

"You going to fire me for my tardiness?"

"No."

Making up for lost time, Lexa was quick to pull Clarke in for a kiss. She brought their lips together with foregone softness, pacing rushed more than usual.

Lexa was more professional in the office than she was in their hotel room, something Clarke fully anticipated. Fooling around on the job was only going to get both of them fired, and that was the exact opposite of what both of them had been fighting for by the end of their business trip. There was no funny business on the clock, a rule strictly enforced, put in place by Lexa but followed automatically by Clarke.

On their breaks, though, they weren't technically on the clock.

To the rest of the office, Lexa very purposefully came off as the kind of person who would never be caught dead making out with their subordinates in the office supply closet in the middle of the afternoon, but Clarke had met the Lexa that got handsy in the back of cabs and let Clarke go down on her in the shower, and it didn't take much convincing from her to get Lexa into the supply closet with her. It wasn't either of their first choices, but the both agreed that it got the job done. And that was what was important.

Clarke wrapped her arms around Lexa's waist, swaying them both slightly as they kissed. It was nice until Clarke moved too much and smacked the back of her head against a shelf. She pulled her lips away from Lexa's to hiss the pain away.

"Are you alright?"

"Yeah," Clarke said, rubbing her scalp where the shelving had hit. She might have a small knot there tomorrow, but it was nothing major. No concussion. "You know, we wouldn't be having this problem if you just let me eat you out under your desk."

Lexa rolled her eyes. "Then you'd just be smacking your head against the bottom of the desk instead of the envelope shelf."

That was... probably true.

"Besides," Lexa continued. "There's too many windows in my office. Someone would see, and it's not exactly professional to orgasm on the job, especially not when the person you're having sex with is one of your own employees."

"Come on, you and Anya never fooled around in the office?" Clarke asked, genuinely curious. She wrapped her arms around Lexa's midriff again and pushed their bodies closer together.

"We kept things to our apartments."

"Why fuck me in the storage closet then?” Clarke asked. “Why not make me wait
‘til after work and take me home like you did with her?"

"You're harder to resist," Lexa admitted, tilting her head and nibbling lightly at Clarke's neck. Clarke threaded her hands into Lexa's hair to encourage her.

"Are you ever going to take me back to your apartment?" she asked. "Or is this strictly an office affair?"

Clarke was fine with hooking up at the office. Really, she was. But she couldn't help but be more than a bit curious to see where Lexa lived, how she lived, what her apartment was like. It had only been a couple of weeks since they'd arrived back from New York, but already Clarke was missing the comforts of the hotel room, the bed and the kitchen and a bathroom that wasn't a line of stalls. This whole sneaking around thing would be a lot easier if Lexa just took her home.

She knew why she hadn't yet, though.

"As scared as I am of getting caught here, you know I'm afraid of Anya catching us at my apartment."

"She doesn't live there does she?" Clarke asked.

"God, no,” Lexa assured. “She just stops by sometimes. I don't always know when she's going to show up."

"Shouldn't you probably tell her about us?" Clarke asked. "If you're sleeping with her, she kind of has the right to know about any other partners you have."

"I'm not," Lexa said.

"Not what?"

"Sleeping with her."

Clarke furrowed her brow.

"At least I haven't since we got back," Lexa explained.

"How'd you manage that?” Clarke asked. “She was all over you in the airport."

"I told her I was jetlagged and on my period."

"For two weeks?"

Lexa shrugged. "Sometimes travelling throws your body off its schedule. She bought it. Or, at least she has for now."

Lexa leaned hurriedly in for another kiss. Clarke obliged, pressing their lips together, but she pulled back a moment later. She wanted the sex, but she also wanted to have this conversation, and if she didn't speak up now, she might not get the chance to later when her mouth was busy doing other things.

"Why haven't you been sleeping with her?” Clarke asked. “She obviously still wants to sleep with you."

Lexa sucked her bottom lip between her teeth, gnawed on it where Clarke had kissed her. "I just haven't wanted to. You've kept my sex life more than busy enough."

This time when Lexa ended the conversation with a kiss, Clarke let it drop. The explanation was good enough for her, and, besides, they were running out of time. If they wanted to make the most of their break, they had to get moving, fast.

Lexa's hands were impatient on Clarke's hips, fingers wedging themselves inside where Clarke's blouse tucked into her pants. She loosened the fabric from its tuck before undoing the button on Clarke's trousers and sliding her hands delicately along the hem, fingers tracing a line of goosebumps into Clarke's skin. Clarke's shudder was more than enough consent for Lexa to dip her fingers beneath the fabric, running her fingertips over the top of Clarke's mound teasingly.

Clarke kissed Lexa fervently, teeth accidentally and then not so accidentally scraping Lexa's lower lip as Lexa’s fingers scraped her pubes, ruffled the small patch of hair with delicate circles. Clarke was breathing heavily with anticipation, and when Lexa finally wedged her hand further down Clarke's underwear, Clarke braced herself against the wall, laying her back flat along the cool concrete surface as Lexa’s fingers probed her warmth, two fingers scissoring her lips apart before starting a circular rhythm on her clit, rubbing around each side of Clarke’s bud.

Clarke had been waiting all morning for this, and consequently she had already worked herself up. She wasn't dry when Lexa caressed her, and the satisfaction of someone finally taking care of the ache she’d cursed herself with made it very difficult for her not to moan. The supply closet wasn't out of the way enough for that, though, and Clarke was forced to find another way to quiet herself.

To distract herself from becoming overwhelmed with the pleasure, Clarke’s hands matched Lexa’s, tugging on the button of her pants until it was free and she could slip a hand beneath the band of her underwear. Her fingers dove for Lexa’s clit straight away, pulsing at the wetness and feeling Lexa adjust her stance to allow Clarke more room to stroke her, fingers gliding up and down her slit with ease.

Hearing Lexa keen into her ear was doing wonders for Clarke. Her noises were escalating, whimpers higher and higher pitched, and Clarke finally caved in and kissed her just to shut the both of them up.

Clarke heard the jostling of the doorknob before she heard the footsteps outside the door.

She split herself apart from Lexa immediately, tugging the hand out of her pants and pulling down her shirt to cover up the fact that her jeans were unbuttoned as Lexa scrambled to take a step away from Clarke and wipe the lipstick off her mouth with the back of her hand.

Of all the people barging in on them, of course it was Anya.

Clarke was more than aware that her hair was a mess and that her shirt was skewed at the collar, but she could do nothing but subtly try to rearrange herself as Anya eyed her suspiciously - eyed both of them suspiciously. Clarke ran her fingers through her hair as Lexa turned around and pretended to search for something important on the shelf behind her. Anya shifted awkwardly by the door, probably because there wasn't enough room for her to fully step in.

“Sorry, I didn't know anyone was in here.” Her tone implied that she knew she was interrupting something, Clarke just prayed she didn't know what.

“Uh, did you need something?” Clarke asked, like she was the supply closet assistant, ready to help her fellow employees find whatever they needed. That didn't explain what she was doing in here, though, although Lexa was doing a good job of rummaging around for some imaginary item and avoiding Anya’s gaze.

“Staples,” Anya answered.

“That’s what we're looking for, too,” Clarke lied. “We can't find them. We think somebody's already used them all.”

Lexa finally turned around, vehemently nodding in agreement with Clarke.

Anya’s eyes scanned the shelves, then fell back on Clarke. She pointed to a spot just beside Clarke's head. “They’re right there.”

Sure enough, when Clarke turned around the staples were right in front of her face. “Well that explains why we couldn't find them over there,” she laughed. She grabbed the box and handed it to Anya, fully expecting her to leave now that she had what she wanted, only Anya didn't move.

Anya gestured to the box. “Did you need some of these?”

“You know what,” Clarke said. “There’s probably another box. We’ll find it. You can have those.”

Anya was quiet for a moment, then choose to abandon whatever thought she was having. “Alright. Thanks.” Anya was quick to get out of there, probably because the longer the three of them stood in the room, the more claustrophobic it became. Clarke could barely breathe. It helped that Anya left the door open, and Clarke hoped that was a sign that Anya didn't know why it had been shut in the first place.

Lexa was quick to correct that error. She shut the door as soon as Anya’s footsteps couldn't be heard down the hallway. Sighing, she rested her back against the frame and stared at Clarke from across the room, no more than a couple of feet separating them.

“Do you think she saw anything?” Clarke asked.

“I don't know,” Lexa said. “I don't think so. If she did, she’d have said something.”

“Then we’re good,” Clarke said, taking a deep breath and striding over towards Lexa, her footsteps slow and deliberate. Her body pinned Lexa even more securely against the door, leaving her with less room to move than before. “How much time do we have left?” she asked.

Lexa glanced at her watch. “Three minutes. We don't have time.”

“I’ve definitely made you cum faster than that,” Clarke argued.

“I don't want to risk it,” Lexa said. “If we don't finish in time I don't think I’ll survive being that worked up in my office for the rest of the afternoon.”

“I’m already worked up,” Clarke admitted, feeling the wetness smear between her thighs every time her legs shifted. “You could probably take care of me in less than three minutes.”

“I have a better idea,” Lexa proposed. “You should come back to my apartment with me after work.”

Clarke was taken aback. In a good way. “Are you sure it’s safe? Do you really want to risk Anya walking in again?”

“If there’s a chance we won't be interrupted, I’ll take it,” Lexa said. “I think I’m already too worked up to care.”

Rising up on her tiptoes, Clarke pressed her lips fully against Lexa’s. The kiss was solid, but light, teasing rather than heavy, a promise of what was to come. “Thank God. I thought I was going to have to take care of myself tonight.”

“With our dildo?” Lexa probed.

My dildo,” Clarke corrected. “I paid for it. But yes, our dildo. Not that it matters anymore.”

“You should bring it over to my place some time,” Lexa suggested.

“Gotta show me where you live first,” Clarke told her.

“I will. Meet me in the parking lot at five. I’ll drive you there.”

/

Lexa's apartment sat regal in the middle of her neighborhood. It was nice for the area, clean and well-laid out, and its organization matched Lexa perfectly. The buildings weren't as nice as Clarke's house, but that was because Clarke had a house, not an apartment. Her parents could afford the high-class digs. Lexa was doing just fine for her income bracket. Clarke liked it here. She could get used to visiting.

The hallway in the main entrance of the complex was empty, quiet, and sanitary, and while it contained little liveliness, Clarke thought silence was better than annoying neighbors.

While Lexa wiped her feet on the welcome mat, Clarke observed what little character the hallway had. Small mailboxes wedged themselves into the wall, paper name plates hovering above each cubbie like halos. Lexa fished her keys out of her pocket, unlocked the mailbox with her name above it, and tucked her bills into the palm of her hand like this was an everyday occurrence, like nothing about her routine changed for her just because she was bringing Clarke home with her now.

Clarke browsed a few titles of flyers on the bulletin board while she waited.

No pets allowed.

Vacant rooms available for rent.

Pool hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Clarke lost herself in thoughts of skinny dipping when Lexa called to her from the first step.

"You coming?"

"Is that a euphemism?"

"If you want it to be."

She did.

Clarke bounded after Lexa on the stairs, glad to discover that Lexa only lived on the second floor and that she wouldn't be forced to sweat every time she came over. If Lexa would let her, she expected to be here a lot, and Clarke had no intention of tiring herself out before they even got to the sex. She should probably get acquainted with the elevator. If she had Lexa's ass to look at every time she made her way to the second floor, though, she could deal with it.

When they reached the next floor and Lexa stepped in front of her doorway, Clarke cupped her hand around the ass of Lexa's jeans as Lexa fumbled with the keys in the lock. Her head whipped around, checking to see if anyone was nearby.

"You can't wait for me to open the door?" she scolded.

"Relax. No one's around. This isn't the office." Clarke's words were comforting, but she caved to Lexa's protests anyway, sliding her hands back into the pockets of her jacket, trapping them within the confines to keep them to herself.

Lexa smiled in gratitude, then turned the knob and opened the door.

The first thing that hit Clarke about Lexa's apartment, wasn't the smell, but the lack of it. It was the nonexistent scent of somewhere familiar, of home, and Clarke was forced to wonder if Lexa kept everything so clean that there were no odors - good or bad - left to permeate the room, or if she had just spent so much time around Lexa that it was natural for Clarke to no longer notice her smell.

She was fine with either, she thought. Both options were comfortable in their own way.

The hallway by the door lead directly into the kitchen, which was small, but compact, organized better than most restaurant kitchens and not nearly as busy. A bowl of fruit rested on a counter by the coffee pot and toaster, but save from a microwave and a couple of other appliances, the countertops were bare and the small dining room table between the kitchen and the living room was abandoned. At home, Clarke's dining table was full of medical journals, paperwork from both her mother and Kane, and just the fact that Clarke could walk up to Lexa's table and find a place to set her plate down made her want to eat at it.

The living room was nearly as sparse as the kitchen, but Lexa had at least taken some time to decorate it, throwing a couple of abstract paintings around the room and picking out dark leather sofas to contrast the white walls. The TV on the wall wasn't anything impressive, but it wasn't small either and Clarke could comfortably sit through a movie night here, bundled up on the couch with Lexa at her side and a bowl of popcorn in her lap. She almost wanted to sit down now, to test the leather and see what books Lexa had on the coffee table next to her coasters, but Lexa snapped her out of her thoughts by speaking and slapping her mail on top of the fake fireplace.

"I know it's probably not up to your standards," Lexa said self-consciously. "But I like to think it's nicer than our hotel room."

"I don't live in a mansion," Clarke assured her. "I'm the daughter of a senator, not the president. It's nice in here. I'd like to get an apartment like this someday."

"Want to see the bedroom?" Lexa asked, and the dropped tone of her voice told Clarke this wasn't part of the house tour.

Clarke outstretched her hand for Lexa to take. Lexa didn't even hesitate in grasping it. "Lead the way, Ms. President."

Hand in hand, Lexa led them to the back of the apartment. The bedroom was adjacent to the living room, locked behind an unsuspecting door. The room itself was medium sized, plenty big enough for one person and certainly big enough for two who were used to spending time with each other in small enclosed places like Clarke and Lexa’s hotel room.

The closet was made of sliding wood, panels closed to no doubt conceal a wardrobe of crisp, ironed business attire preparedly suspended on wire hangers beside a dresser packed tightly with pants and underwear as neatly folded into the drawers as they were inside Lexa's suitcase. The laundry was either done or craftily concealed in a basket where Clarke couldn't see it, because there certainly weren't any clothes strewn across the floor like a makeshift carpet like there had been by the end of their hotel stay. Clarke preferred the cleanliness. With everything put away, she could pretend that all of the clothes she knew were in the room were Lexa's. She could ignore the fact that buried inside of one of these drawers was probably more of Anya's underwear than just the bra Lexa let her borrow on their trip.

The bed was the most important thing, and it was nice, queen-sized, and made. The sheets looked soft and there was only one way Clarke was going to find out if they truly were. She let go of Lexa hand to dive onto the bed, wrinkling the covers as the pull of her weight untucked them from the corners of the mattress. She sighed, content. The bed was just as soft as it looked. But not as warm without Lexa in it with her.

Lexa watched Clarke relax with a smile on her face, like a mother watching her child enjoy their first real bed after ditching the crib, but Clarke didn't stare back at Lexa so innocently. She smirked, pulled herself onto her elbows, and beckoned Lexa to the bed with two fingers, curling them suggestively into the air.

As Lexa approached the bed, Clarke rose up on her knees, nearly as tall as Lexa with the added height of the mattress replacing the length of her legs. Lexa craned her head down to capture Clarke’s lips, and Clarke kissed her back, hands roaming Lexa’s hips before settling into her belt loops, tugging her forward until her knees hit the edge of the mattress.

The first thing to go was Lexa’s shirt. One by one, Clarke unclasped the pearl buttons, starting at Lexa’s collar and exposing more and more of her torso until a clear line of skin trailed from Lexa’s chin to her pants, only interrupted by the thin fabric strand of her bra. When her shirt was fully undone, Clarke peeled away the fabric from Lexa’s shoulders, letting it fall to the floor at Lexa’s feet before tackling her bra, sliding her hands around Lexa’s back to undo the clasp.

Lexa helped her peel away the fabric, eager to toss it aside and allow Clarke’s hands to roam back to her front, over the skin between her breasts before cupping each mound in her palms. Nipples stiff, Lexa gasped as Clarke’s mouth closed around one bud, sucking diligently on the skin until it was sore. She lavished one breast thoroughly, mouth and palm working in sync to stimulate Lexa until she was forced to guide Clarke herself to avoid oversensitivity. Tucking a fist gently into Clarke’s curls, she tugged Clarke to her other breast, sighing with a mixture of pleasure and relief when Clark began working her other nipple, tongue flicking up and down the peak before swirling around it. When she started sucking, Lexa gasped again and pulled her away.

Clarke smirked as Lexa began undoing her pants.

“Take off your shirt,” Lexa ordered. “It’s only fair you get the same treatment I do. Guests come first.”

“In that case,” Clarke started, throwing off her sweater, then moving to help Lexa slide her pants around her legs. “Looks like you’re the guest.”

Clarke wasn't slow about removing Lexa’s briefs. She was sliding them down her thighs before Lexa had even kicked her pants off her ankles, and Lexa was taken aback by her speed, overwhelmed to the point that she didn't have time to protest before Clarke’s lips met the top of her mound, kissing the skin for permission before going lower while Lexa’s briefs slid along her legs to the floor, catching up with her pants. Lexa kicked the clothes away from her before nodding, looking down to meet Clarke’s eye as Clarke looked up at her.

Clarke’s tongue repeated the same motions it had on Lexa’s nipple, sucking on her clit and swirling around the bud until she had Lexa whining again and leaning further into the mattress for support. When Clarke’s tongue traveled lower, prodded it's tip into Lexa’s entrance, Lexa’s legs shook, thighs spasming with the novel burst of pleasure.

Lexa reached down to grip Clarke’s shoulders, steadying herself to take some of the weight off her legs. Clarke could tell she was having a hard time keeping herself up, legs spread as far apart as was stably possible to allow Clarke room to work, and fingers digging deeper into Clarke’s shoulder blades the deeper Clarke’s tongue got lost inside her. Lexa was dripping onto her, supplying an endless amount of lubricant for Clarke to use to maneuver around inside her, stroke every crevice she could reach of her entrance, and it wasn't any surprise when Lexa’s walls clamped down around the muscle.

Clarke gripped the back of Lexa’s thighs as she orgasmed, holding her in place when her legs buckled beneath her. She squeezed the flesh there gently, kneading the skin below her ass before taking the cheeks into her palms. She massaged the skin until Lexa came down, cheeks red and breath heavier than it was before. As soon as she recovered, she bent down to kiss Clarke, and Clarke intentionally brought her tongue into the mix, letting Lexa savor herself.

Clarke got so lost in the way their mouths moved together, that it startled her when Lexa pushed her over onto her side, lying Clarke down before straddling her.

Hair splayed on the pillow, Clarke’s eyes widened as she looked up and saw Lexa smirking above her.

“Your turn,” Lexa said.

Clarke didn't disagree with her this time.

As soon as she realized Clarke was ready to comply, Lexa unpainted her, foregoing straddling Clarke to sink all the way down her body, pulling off clothes as she went. First Clarke’s bra, then her pants and underwear in one go, all the way down to her socks. She tossed the growing pile of clothes to the floor with her own, then kissed her way back up Clarke’s body, spending time on her calves, her thighs, and her hips, and only stopping when her face hovered above Clarke’s sex, her breath tickling Clarke’s bundle of nerves.

She made eye contact with Clarke and waited for her nod before lowering her mouth, taking Clarke’s lips between her own, and tasting the tang on them. Clarke’s fluids were already spilling and her clit was already swollen, and she had Lexa to thank for that. Watching Lexa cum never failed to turn her on, and it didn't help that they hadn't gotten to finish what they started earlier at the office. Clarke’s underwear had been ruined hours ago, and she knew it wouldn't take long for Lexa to ruin her too.

As soon as Lexa’s tongue met her clit, Clarke was blissed out, only halfway conscious as she experienced the closest thing to an out of body experience she probably ever would. Lexa wasn't slow in her licks, wasn't subtle in the fact that she wanted to give Clarke as much pleasure as possible, and Clarke was cumming before she knew what hit her, then cumming a second time before her first orgasm has really stopped. She was pretty sure the second one wasn't intentional, though, just a happy accident, the byproduct of Lexa lingering too long as she tried to clean up her mess.

When Lexa raised her head from between Clarke’s legs again, her mouth was glistening like a divine aura, and Clarke gave her a kiss worthy of someone holy.

Lexa made herself comfortable beside Clarke, taking the extra pillow on the bed and shoving it under her own head for support. They kissed on their sides, facing each other as their arms wrapped around each other, hands exploring bare backs and bare hips.

Clarke only spoke when the kissing turned lazy.

“I'm glad I got to see your place."

Lexa cringed. "That sounds like a goodbye."

"It's not," Clarke assured. "Unless you want me to go. You can tell me if I'm overextending my stay."

Lexa shook her head, wrapping her arm tighter around Clarke. "You don't have to go. I'm used to spending the night with you."

Clarke smiled, snuggled unconsciously into Lexa's side. "You aren't afraid of Anya barging in?"

"No," Lexa said firmly. "I shouldn't have been so paranoid. I want to have you here. There's no reason you can't come over."

"Does that mean we can start coming here to have sex? Because as hot as illicit office affairs are, I'm going to end up getting a concussion in that storage closet."

Lexa chuckled. "Yes, we can come here more often. It'll be nice to get out of the office more. Maybe we can go somewhere tomorrow. You don't have anything you have to study for, do you?"

It was med school, of course she did, but Clarke could put that off for a while if it meant spending her Saturday with Lexa. She shook her head. "Where did you have in mind?"

"I promised I'd take you sightseeing, didn't I? I'm a woman of my word."

"Where are we going to go?"

"It's a surprise. I don't want to tell you yet."

"Sounds like you haven't thought of anywhere yet," Clarke accused.

Lexa blushed. Clarke kissed her cheek until the redness faded away.

"Is it that obvious? I do have a couple places in mind. I just want to make sure I have a plan."

"And if we go somewhere I've already been?"

"Then it will still be your first time going there with me."

Clarke couldn't ignore the flip of her stomach. Lexa was right. She had just opened up a whole new world to Clarke. Everywhere would be new to her now, every experience one completely different than the ones she'd had before Lexa came into her life. She could go anywhere with Lexa by those standards. Lexa could take her to the fucking office and she would still have a good time.

“I can't wait,” she admitted honestly, giving Lexa a light peck on the lips. Lexa smiled back at her, just as excited.

“You have to wait until tomorrow.”

“That’s too far away,” she whined. “Tomorrow will take too long to get here.”

“Not if you stay,” Lexa said, putting her hand over Clarke’s on her side.

“I’ll stay,” Clarke said, making a note to let her mother know she wouldn't be home that night, just to make sure Kane didn't send the army out as a search party for her. “Can we get dinner, though? I’m starving.”

“Do you want to order Chinese takeout?”

“What a dumb question,” Clarke scolded. “I always want to order Chinese takeout.”

/

“We’re going ice skating?”

“Yes. That’s okay, isn't it? If you hate it, I figured we could just go inside the museum.”

Clarke had been to a lot of cool places in D.C., but the National Gallery of Art wasn't one of them. Why she hadn't been to an art museum/sculpture garden/ice rink before, she didn't know.

“Yeah, that’s totally okay. I haven't been ice skating since I was a kid. This should be fun.”

“I haven't been ice skating ever,” Lexa admitted, a nervous edge to her voice.

“It’s easy,” Clarke promised.

The subject was quickly dropped. From the parking lot, they made their way inside the building, Lexa paying the same way she offered to pay for their cabs or the food they ordered in last night. She was quiet, though, nervous maybe, and when she spoke Clarke was quick to make light of the situation.

"What size shoe do you wear?"

"Do you have a foot fetish we need to talk about?"

"I need to rent your skates, Clarke."

"Six," she answered as the girl behind the counter bent down to find her an appropriate pair. She presented them with a smile and Clarke was much less excited to take the boots from her. "Which is a lot fewer than how many other people have worn these skates before me. Yuck."

"I'm trying not to think about it," Lexa admitted, handing her money over in exchange for both of their shoes. The skates didn't smell too badly, much to Clarke's surprise, but it was cold. Her nose was numb. She could barely smell anything. "At least renting ice skates is a bit more classy than renting bowling shoes,” Lexa reasoned.

Clarke shuddered. “Thank you for not taking me bowling.”

“You’re welcome. I’m good at bowling, though.”

“Of course you would be. Bowling is the most boring sport. It’s not even a sport.”

Lexa frowned as she tugged her boots on. She busied her hands with tying her laces. “They air games on ESPN.”

“You watch ESPN?” Clarke asked, tying her shoes just the same.

“No, but Anya does. She prefers watching billiards, though. Lots of lesbians smacking around a bunch of balls. She’s into it.”

“I’m into balls in a much different way,” Clarke said. “But I’m also into cute ice skaters, especially when they get lifted in the air and you can see up their skirts.”

“I’m afraid I may not be as graceful,” Lexa apologized. “I’m also not wearing a skirt.” They were both bundled up, wearing thick jackets and scarves. Clarke didn't know how the ice skaters on TV bared to show so much skin.

“I’m sure you’ll do fine,” Clarke reasoned.

/

Lexa did not do fine.

“You look like a giraffe on roller blades.” Clarke laughed. Lexa didn't. She gripped the rink’s railing like she was hanging onto the edge of a cliff for dear life. She kind of was. If she fell one more time, there was a good chance it might be the time the blades of the skates lodged themselves into her leg or her ass, which would… not be pretty. Clarke was going to let her use the railing as much as she needed. She skated freely beside Lexa, staying close in case Lexa needed her help.

“This was an awful idea,” Lexa cursed herself. Her face was pale and Clarke couldn't tell if it was because of the cold or her nerves.

“This is actually a lot of fun,” Clarke insisted. “For me, anyway.”

“I’m glad one of us is having a good time,” Lexa spat. Her tone was only half-bitter.

“Come on, you’ll get the hang of it. It just takes a bit of practice. Here.” Clarke extended her hand, offered it to Lexa who looked at it like she didn’t trust it. Her hands stayed glued to the wall.

“I don't want to take you down with me,” she explained.”

“You’ll never get anywhere on the wall,” Clarke told her, keeping her hand outstretched. “If we both fall I won't be mad. I promise we won't, though. I’ll keep you steady.”

Lexa looked from Clarke’s eyes to her hand again, hesitant, but after a moment of contemplation she pried one of her hands from the wall and laced her pale fingers in Clarke’s gloved ones. They shuffled their feet along for a few yards like that, hand in hand, Clarke skating and Lexa trying to walk along the wall in her boots until Clarke got fed up with the choppiness of their pace.

“You have to let go of the wall,” she said. “I promise we’ll go slow.”

“You sure?”

Clarke nodded and slowly Lexa’s fingers slipped away from the wall. She kept her arms outstretched for a moment like a tightrope walker as she balanced herself, Clarke keeping her upright.

“There you go,” Clarke praised as Lexa started moving. “You’re getting the hang of it.”

She wasn't, really. They were still moving at two inches an hour, but Clarke didn't mind. The rest of the rink skated around her in a blur, all the other people leaving her mind and their chattering fading away to background noise as she focused on Lexa and the intense look of concentration on her face.

She could have stayed in their own little world forever if someone hadn't clipped her arm, almost knocking both her and Lexa down in the process.

“Move faster, Grandma!”

Clarke recognized the voice immediately.

“Octavia!” she called out, and the girl stopped dead in her tracks ahead of them before spinning around. The brunette beside her stopped, too, and it took all of two seconds for Clarke to realize Octavia and Raven were here on a date.

It also took all of two seconds for Octavia to realize who she had just insulted.

“Lexa! Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I swear, that wasn't an insult. I love my grandma! Not that I love you or anything, but…”

Lexa’s eyes were angry, but dulled slightly with fear, too, and she kept quiet as she regained her stance, one arm reaching out for the wall again but her other hand still holding onto Clarke’s. She looked between Raven and Octavia knowingly.

Clarke butted in before Lexa could say anything, either about Raven and Octavia clearly being here as a couple or Octavia’s rudeness. “What are you guys doing here?” she asked.

“Just… chilling,” Raven said, eyeing Lexa as suspiciously as Lexa was eyeing her.

“You know us two and water,” Octavia said to Clarke. “The water parks might be closed for winter, but at least we have this frozen patch here.”

Clarke laughed. Lexa didn't get the inside joke.

“Well, we’re gonna go,” Octavia said, sensing the awkwardness in the air. “We’ll leave you two alone. It was nice seeing you outside of work, Lexa. Sorry about the whole bumping into you guys thing.”

“It was nice to see you, too,” Lexa said, all professionalism.

Raven smiled at her, just as awkward as Lexa’s forced words and she reached down to tug on Octavia’s hand, pulling her away as fast as possible. Octavia gripped it back, and off they skated, leaving at the same speed they’d achieved before bumping into Clarke.

“That was… embarrassing,” Lexa said after they had gone.

“Are you embarrassed because they saw us together or because they saw you trying to skate,” Clarke joked.

“I knew you told Octavia about us, but I didn't know you told Raven, too.”

“Octavia told her,” Clarke said. That didn't calm Lexa’s nerves. “Hey, it’s okay. They’re not going to say anything. If they haven't done it by now they’re not going to, and plus, we can just reverse blackmail them. They’re not supposed to be dating either. We all broke the ‘don't sleep with coworkers’ rule. We’re part of the same club.”

Lexa was quiet for a moment, sawing her skates back and forth on the ice, still held steady by the railing. “Why’d you tell Octavia?” she asked, and her words were more curious than accusatory.

Clarke shrugged. “She’s my best friend. I talk to her about all the things that make me happy.”

“I make you happy?” Lexa asked.

“If I wasn't having a good time with you, do you really think I’d be here right now?”

Lexa was quiet again, but now her smile had returned. She nursed it slowly as she stared down at her feet, her kicking stalled. “Do you want to get out of here? I’ve had enough skating for the rest of the year. And the rest of my life.”

Clarke laughed and hooked her arm around Lexa’s, letting their hands unclasp. “Yes, we can go. I want to see the sculptures, anyway.”

Clarke offered to help Lexa skate her way back to the exit ramp of the rink, but Lexa still didn't trust that she wouldn't knock both of them down. She stuck to the inside of the wall, two hands on the concrete with Clarke’s arm still around hers, ready to brace her if she stumbled. They moved slowly that way, and Clarke’s phone buzzed in her pocket before they were even off the ice.

It was a message from Octavia.

I knew you were sleeping with Lexa, but I didn't know you were dating her.”

We’re not dating,” Clarke typed back, one handed, tilting her phone away from Lexa’s sight line, though she was too busy concentrating on her feet to notice.

Octavia’s reply came faster than Clarke's. “Right. I hold hands with all of my friends when we go ice skating too.”

She needed help.” Clarke defended.

Uh-huh. Whatever you say.”

Clarke put her phone back in her pocket without responding. She didn't have time to explain everything to Octavia, and she also had to help Lexa off the ice. When she stepped onto solid ground, Lexa looked like Clarke imagined fish did when they were thrown back into the water after being caught. She breathed a little easier.

Lexa was quick to take off her skates and even quicker to exchange them for her shoes. Clarke’s own feet were happy to be back inside something that both fit her and actually belonged to her, and she was fairly excited about the prospect of going home and washing someone else’s smell off her feet. She was pretty excited to check out the sculptures set up around the rink, too.

The best thing about sculpture gardens were that they weren't seasonal. Most of the snow had been cleared away from the structures, the pieces themselves splashes of color amongst the white of the ground, and Clarke had trouble deciding which one was her favorite: the abstract forms whose shapes she couldn't even give a name to or the simple ones that she easily understood. She and Lexa looked at all of them as they made their way back to the parking lot, taking their time and bearing out the cold.

“I like this one,” Lexa said, pointing out the sculpture closest to the parking lot. It was a Robert Indiana piece, four letters stacked together reading, AMOR.

“Reminds me of Raven and Octavia,” Clarke said. “They’re a cute couple.”

“They are,” Lexa agreed.

“I get totally jealous when I see them together. Don't tell Octavia that, but I want a relationship like theirs someday.”

“I have a confession,” Lexa started, and those weren't the words Clarke expected to hear. She took her eyes off the piece to look at Lexa beside her. Lexa was frowning slightly, and Clarke struggled to dismiss it as leftover anxiety from their skating.

“Well what is it?”

"Anya asked me to go steady."

Those were also words that Clarke hadn't expected to hear. And this was not a pleasant surprise. “Was this before or after you had sex with me last night?” Clarke asked, suddenly upset.

“It was a couple of days ago,” Lexa said.

"So you’re already cheating on her?” Clarke spat.

"No. I told her I wasn't ready to commit yet."

Relief washed over Clarke. She just wasn't sure if it was because this news meant Lexa wasn’t committing adultery or because it meant Lexa was still single. Regardless, her voice softened. "Are you actually afraid of commitment or would you just miss having sex with me?"

"It might be that last one," Lexa admitted.

"I didn't mean to be a homewrecker," Clarke insisted, her tone even softer but still possessing its edge. She didn’t even believe the words as she said them. She wasn’t sure Lexa believed them either.

"You're not a homewrecker," Lexa defended. "Anya isn't part of my home."

"You're right. She's so little a part of your home that you wouldn't even take me there for two weeks because you were afraid she would come over." It was a sarcastic jab, but Lexa still looked guilty.

"I liked having you over at my place last night," Lexa admitted. "I want you to come back."

"When?"

Lexa shrugged. "Tonight, if you want. We can go back to my place and warm up. I'll turn on the fake fireplace."

Clarke laughed. "Maybe light a couple candles while you're at it. Careful, though. Don't want the place to turn into a sauna."

Lexa laughed just as hard. "Candles would be nice. It'll set the mood."

"How romantic."

"Only if you want it to be."

"Would you be upset if I did?" Clarke asked.

"No."

“I guess that’s amore, huh?” Clarke joked.

Lexa rolled her eyes. “That was an awful pun.”

“Sorry, I had to work with what I had. Come on,” she said, taking Lexa’s hand again and pulling her in the direction of the parking lot. “It’s freezing out here. Let’s go back to your place and warm up those leftovers.”

/

Netflix and chill turned into Netflix and warm up. There was nothing more satisfying than lukewarm microwaved noodles on a cold day, and Lexa had an old blanket stashed in her closet that looked like it was knitted several decades ago. They draped it around their legs as they sat on the couch, and because of how ratty it was, Lexa didn't even scold Clarke when she dribbled soy sauce all over it.

She used the accident as an excuse to kiss Clarke, licking the tangy sauce away from her lips and her chin. Clarke tried to keep her eyes on the television, but it was very had to focus on old Friends reruns when Lexa was kissing her. Clarke liked hanging out with Lexa casually, but damned if she didn't love the sex even more.

Clarke let Lexa kiss her long after the soy sauce was gone and long after the blanket fell to the floor, kicked off by their legs as they resituated themselves on the couch, tossing their legs onto the cushion and laying down, Clarke on her back with Lexa on top of her.

Lexa only released Clarke’s mouth to kiss her cheek, then her neck, then the hem of her sweater where it started just below her clavicle. She kissed all the way down to Clarke’s stomach, Lexa’s body lifting until she was straddling Clarke, her knees pinned around Clarke’s sides, and Clarke made no protests when Lexa lifted her shirt just far enough to reveal her belly button. She swathed her tongue over the crevice, but it ended up tickling Clarke more than it turned her on.

She tapped Lexa’s shoulder, signaling her to slide back up to her face, and Lexa did so without pause, kissing Clarke on the lips again as Clarke’s fingers moved between them, worked on the clasps of Lexa’s button up.

This time, Clarke heard the door opening before she could do anything about it.

She pushed Lexa off of her, sending her to stand on her knees, still straddling Clarke, and Clarke raised her own torso to meet hers, just far enough up to see Anya staring at them over the back of the couch.

Clarke tried to straighten the collar of her sweater, but her hair was tousled and Lexa’s shirt was still partially undone. There was no way of disguising what they were doing, not like there had been in the supply closet.

“Wow,” Anya said, planting a foot firmly against the wooden tile in front of the door. “I don't even know what to say.”

“Anya!” Lexa started, frantic, wide-eyed. “What are you doing here?”

“I came here to get a few things,” she answered. “But now I’m really here to get my things. I should have known something was going on between you two.”

“Anya-”

“No. Don't worry about it, Lexa. If some girl you’ve known for less than a month is more important to you than being with me - even though I’ve been nothing but patient and good to you for months - then you deserve each other. Clearly you don't like me the same way I like you. Or the way you like her.”

Anya marched towards Lexa’s bedroom, ducking out of sight for only a few moments. The sounds of drawers opening and closets slamming could be heard all the way out in the living room, and Clarke stared at Lexa for answers on what to do. Lexa was as stunned as her, though, shaking slightly even as she wrapped her arm around Clarke.

Lexa’s mouth and her shirt were still open slightly when Anya stormed out of the room, toting the suitcase Lexa had taken on their trip. It was already half full of Anya’s clothes and Clarke guessed she had stuffed the rest of her things inside of it, too. She looked pissed. Clarke could think of a few good reasons why.

Lexa looked apologetic, but she made no moves to get up from the couch. Or let go of Clarke.

That just pissed Anya off even more.

“You could have just told me, Lexa,” she fumed, angry tears glistening in the corners of her eyes but evaporating from the boil of her blood before they fell. “If you’ve found someone else, or you’re not into me, I get it. Just say it. I thought we were good enough friends that you knew you didn't have to lie to me. Apparently not.”

She marched to the front door, opening it, but turning around for a final word before she left. “Oh, and find some place more original than the supply closet to hook up in. You’re going to get caught.”

Clarke couldn't tell if that was a threat or advice. Somehow, it felt like the latter, and Clarke felt a twinge of guilt strike her gut. Even though it wasn't her fault that Lexa hadn't let Anya know what was going on, she still felt bad that she was part of the reason for Anya’s anger.

And the reason Anya was slamming the door to Lexa’s apartment shut. Lexa flinched from the impact, but only fell further into Clarke’s half hug in the recoil.

“Should I go?” Clarke asked, finally finding the words and breaking the silence. She didn't know the formalities of these things, didn't know if Lexa was supposed to put herself in a time out alone to think of what she’d done or if she needed a shoulder to cry on. Lexa let no tears spill, though.

“No. Stay. I’m sorry that happened. I want you to stay, but if you want to leave I can see why.”

“No, I want to stay,” Clarke assured her, rubbing circles on Lexa’s shoulder. “You picked me over her, didn't you?” she joked, but the whimsy of her tone was subdued. It didn't feel right to make light of the situation yet, not when they were both still in shock and the wounds were fresh for all three of them. “Sorry. I know you didn't mean for that to happen. I told you I was a homewrecker.”

“You’re not a homewrecker,” Lexa promised. “This is my fault, not yours. Anya’s right, I should have told her sooner. But you know what? I don't really care that she’s gone. I did pick you, Clarke.”

Clarke couldn't let those words fully sink in. It didn't feel right, didn't feel fair to Anya. She didn't have time to, anyway. She pulled Lexa’s lips to hers in a kiss that probably should have tasted of tears or regret or loss or something, but it tasted only of Lexa and the vague remnants of Clarke’s lipstick worn off on her.

Lexa’s shirt was still draped around her frame, slipping across her shoulders like wings, and Clarke took the opportunity to tug it the rest of the way down, her hands smoothing over the muscles of Lexa’s back as she did so. Clarke kissed the new bareness of her shoulder, the open plane of her collarbone, the plate above her heart. Lexa sighed, content, but made no insinuation that Clarke’s kisses were sexual. They weren't.

“I don't think I’m in the mood anymore,” Clarke admitted.

“Me neither,” Lexa said, pausing for a moment to look Clarke in the eyes. “Let’s just go to the bedroom and lay down.”

Clarke smiled. “I like that idea.”

Clarke made a move towards the doorway of Lexa’s room, but Lexa pulled her back, tugging on the back of her shirt, which she lifted above Clarke’s head after she stopped.

“We can still be naked, though,” Lexa clarified, and Clarke couldn't help but chuckle. It felt good to laugh. It eased some of the tension.

They drowned out their giggles with more kisses, shedding their pants first as they resumed stumbling blindly toward the room, pawing at the door to find the knob the way they pawned at each other's bodies, hands exploring more and more skin as it became available. When they reached the sheets, they were nude, a trail of clothes slithering in their wake.

Lexa laid Clarke gently onto the bed, making sure she was comfortable before climbing into the mattress herself and wrapping the blanket around both of them. The television was still on in the living room, but Clarke didn't mind the background noise.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Clarke asked as Lexa snuggled against her.

“Yes. I’m still probably in shock and that probably could have gone better, but I think I’ll be alright. I think sell all be alright. I’ll apologize to Anya sooner or later.”

Clarke hummed in agreement. An apology was the right thing to do. She might apologize to Anya, too. She hadn't made any moves to tell Anya what was going in either, and by association that meant she was partially responsible. Even if Anya never liked her again, maybe an apology would keep her from being a huge bitch to Clarke around the office. She and Lexa couldn't really afford a vindictive almost-ex threatening them at work every day.

“I think I need a nap,” Lexa said, rubbing at her eyes. “This is stressful. Plus, we didn't get much sleep last night.”

Clarke chuckled. “I could go for a nap.”

Lexa hummed in thanks, kissing Clarke’s shoulder and spooning her back. Her whole body relaxed, let go of the day's weight, and Clarke settled down right along with her.

She was just starting to close her eyes when Lexa’s voice snapped her out of the trance.

“Anya was right, you know.”

Clarke turned around to meet her eyes. “About what?”

Lexa swallowed hard and resituated her hands on Clarke’s hips, sliding them comfortingly over the bare flesh. “I do like you, Clarke. I like you a lot.”

Clarke wrapped her arms around Lexa’s neck, tucked her face into the crook of her shoulder. Lexa’s skin was so warm, smelled so nice, of spice and lotion and the bath soaps that Clarke had bought her, that she didn't ever want to separate, didn't ever want the hug to end.

“I like you, too, Lexa.”

If Lexa could get any softer, she did. Her skin melted against Clarke’s, and Clarke’s insides melted along with her. Lexa wrapped the blankets tighter around them, squeezed Clarke against her like she’d never let her go.

“Spend the night again?” she mumbled, the drowsiness taking over her voice, giving her a slurred lilt even Clarke couldn't resist.

“Of course.”

By the time Lexa’s eyes closed and her breathing settled out, Clarke was tired too, the first stages of sleep washing over her. She settled her head against Lexa’s chest, pulled her arm out carefully from behind Lexa’s head where it was losing circulation, and grabbed her phone from the night stand.

She sent one quick text to Octavia before falling asleep.

Okay, we might be kind of dating.

Chapter Text

Clarke knocked on the apartment door only slightly out of breath. She was getting used to this whole stairs thing. She was still puffing slightly when Lexa opened the door, though.

“Hey, neighbor,” Clarke greeted. “Are we still carpooling?”

Lexa’s toothbrush hung out of the corner of her mouth, but she was dressed for work at least. Clarke wasn't too early.

Lexa removed the toothbrush to speak. Her mouth was foamy but her words were enunciated enough to be clear. “Clarke, we’ve been carpooling every day since you moved into the apartment downstairs two weeks ago.”

Lexa backed away from the doorway and into the kitchen. Clarke let herself in and watched Lexa spit into the sink.

“I know. Just checking. To be fair we only started carpooling because my car was so full of crap I could barely fit in it to drive it, and I’m almost all the way moved in now. Almost.”

Lexa grabbed a cup from one of the cabinets above her sink and filled it from the tap. Clarke rested herself against the face of a counter and waited for Lexa to rinse her mouth out.

“Speaking of clean cars,” Clarke continued. “I need you to help me finish unpacking.”

“You can’t do it yourself?” Lexa asked.

“I need it done fast.”

“That stuff’s been sitting in there for weeks, Clarke,” Lexa reminded her. “Why the sudden hurry?”

“I need my place to look nice when I have my housewarming party this weekend.”

Lexa emptied her cup, then set it face-up in the sink. “You bought a house, too? An apartment isn't enough for you?”

Clarke rolled her eyes. “My apartment warming party, then,” she corrected. “Whatever.”

“The building has heating,” Lexa reminded her. “Why do you need to warm your apartment?”

“If you keep playing this Captain Literal game, I’m literally not inviting you to the party,” Clarke scolded.

“Who all’s going to be there?” Lexa asked. “Do I even want to come?”

“You wanted to cum last night,” Clarke reminded her, pushing away from the counter and stalking over to where Lexa stood by the sink. Clarke hooked her thumb in the straps of Lexa’s suspenders. “And there will be more cumming tonight after you help me carry everything out of my car.”

Lexa hummed thoughtfully before leaning down and capturing Clarke’s lips in a kiss chaste enough that they wouldn’t be tempted to take it any further, but hot enough that Clarke almost forgot she was the one trying to seduce Lexa, not the other way around.

Almost.

Lexa’s lips tasted like toothpaste. Clarke had a feeling she’d be ordering a peppermint mocha when they stopped by the Starbucks drive-through on their way to work.

“You’re a tease, you know that?” Lexa asked when she pulled away from the kiss.

Clarke smiled. “It’s not teasing if I promise to follow through.”

“You never actually answered my question,” Lexa reminded her. “Who’s all coming?”

“Just a couple people from the office. Octavia, Raven, Monty. I think Miller’s bringing his little girl with him.”

“I’m not sure it’s appropriate for the boss to be partying with her employees outside of work,” Lexa voiced.

“Don’t think of yourself as the boss,” Clarke said. “I’m inviting you as my girlfriend, and I want my girlfriend to meet my friends.”

“I’ve met them,” Lexa said curtly.

Clarke pouted. “Please, Lexa? I know we’re not technically supposed to be dating, but that doesn’t mean we have to make it weird. Octavia and Raven have already seen us out together, and I really don’t think Monty and Miller will care. They’ll be too busy flirting with each other. We’re all in inter-office relationships. Nobody can rat anybody out without screwing themselves over, too. Besides, who are they going to complain to? You’re the boss.”

Lexa nodded and Clarke let her hands roam down Lexa’s back, being careful not to crinkle the ironed material of her button-up.

“Fine,” Lexa said. “You’ve got a deal. But I can’t help you until after work because we’re already running late.”

Clarke smiled so wide, she was pretty sure it was blinding. She took that as the reason Lexa pulled away from her to set her toothbrush on the counter and grab her purse from the living room. “I’m not the one who was still brushing their teeth when I came over,” Clarke reminded her. “So don’t act like we’re late because of me.”

“Yes, but you’re the one who kissed me,” Lexa retorted. And that has been very distracting.”

“You haven’t even seen distracting,” Clarke threatened, stalking slowly over to Lexa and capturing her lips again.

Maybe Clarke could keep them here for just a few more moments. She might have to sacrifice Starbucks if they wanted to make it to work on time, but that was worth it. Lexa tasted better than any coffee ever could.

/

“Have you heard from Anya?”

“Not since she put in her resignation letter,” Lexa said, hands on the wheel of the car and hair tied up after a long day at work. Clarke was excited to finally be going home. She was less excited about this conversation, though. She’d been avoiding it for a while.

Clarke cringed. “I’m sorry about what happened and… how it all went down.”

“I’m not,” Lexa said. “Anya will find someone that’s better for her than me. And I,” she started, reaching across the car seats and taking Clarke’s hands in her own. “Found someone better for me, too.” Lexa brought one of Clarke’s hands to her lips, kissing the skin above her knuckles before bringing their hands back down to Clarke’s lap again, still entwined.

“Have you heard from your mom?” Lexa asked, shifting the subject to one Clarke was just barely more comfortable with.

“Just about once every thirty minutes,” Clarke answered. “She keeps calling me and asking my opinion on wedding stuff. I swear I talk to her more now than I did when I was living with her. I invited her to my housewarming party because I thought it’d help her take her mind off things, but apparently she and Kane are going bakery-hunting that day. I told her she could come late and bring wedding cake samples for everyone.”

“That sounds delicious,” Lexa admitted. “Now I’m glad I agreed to come.”

“She probably won’t actually bring cake,” Clarke admitted. “She probably won't show up at all.”

“That’s disappointing,” Lexa said. “I was looking forward to dessert.”

“You can have some if you come to the wedding with me,” Clarke said, tightening her hold on Lexa’s hand just to keep a stronger grip on her. If Lexa was hesitant about coming as Clarke’s date to a party with the rest of her coworkers, Clarke didn’t know how she’d react to outing their relationship to Clarke’s entire family. They had only been officially together for a few weeks after all.

Lexa didn’t even try to pull away. “For cake, I’ll be your date anywhere,” she said, squeezing Clarke’s hand back just as tightly.

“If I had known you liked cake so much, I would have bought you some to bribe you into helping me unpack weeks ago.”

“No you wouldn't have,” Lexa said. “You’d still be procrastinating if you didn't have this party coming up.”

“You’re probably right.”

Lexa separated their hands as she pulled into the apartment complex in order to put the car in park. In the space next to them, Clarke’s car sat waiting, taunting them with boxes stacked up to the windows obscuring their view of the back seat. Clarke stared back at it in disdain.

“Well, we better get to work.”

/

“I am so happy you live on the first floor,” Lexa huffed as she slammed the last box down on the ground of Clarke’s apartment.

Clarke dropped herself onto the couch and nodded, wiping the sweat away from her brow.

“It was a bad idea to do this right after work,” Lexa continued. “I’m exhausted.”

“You’re telling me.”

Clarke was starting to regret this whole actually doing work at work thing. If this had been last year when she sat on her phone all day in her cubicle, she wouldn’t have had a problem carrying all these boxes in late at night. Now, though, she was overworked and debating whether or not she would even show up to work tomorrow now that she had her own car back and wouldn't have Lexa breathing down the back of her neck first thing in the morning waiting for her to get ready.

“I don’t know how ready I am for that sex now,” Clarke admitted.

Clarke expected a scowl or a grumble of protest, but instead Lexa sat down beside her, draped Clarke’s legs over her lap, and leaned her weight into Clarke’s side.

“I don't know if I am either,” Lexa admitted, closing her eyes momentarily for a second of rest. “This is reward enough, though” she said, linking with her hand with Clarke’s again . “Just laying here with you.”

Clarke’s heart slowed, not in the way it did when it skipped a beat, but the way it did when she got into a bed after a late night of studying or when she went to visit her mom and found a pot of stew simmering on the stove. It was a nostalgic feeling, a feeling of home. She was comfortable here with Lexa, and she was happy to take a moment to relax, curled up in her girlfriend's lap. This was worth the long day. This was worth the effort.

The silence was peaceful as they gathered themselves, and it lasted just the right amount of time, like a power nap in the middle of the afternoon. Lexa’s voice sounded sweeter when Clarke heard it again.

“What’s even in those things?” she asked.

Clarke reached for the nearest box with one of her legs and punted the cardboard towards Lexa. It was heavy enough that the box barely moved, just scraped across the ground and probably ruined both the wood flooring and Clarke’s chances at getting her deposit back. Lexa was just able to reach the box when she bent over to pull the side of it flush against the edge of the couch.

She lifted the flaps and Clarke caught an unmistakable flash of red.

“I completely forgot about that dildo,” she admitted.

Lexa raised an eyebrow. “You completely forgot that you gave your boss a dildo as a prank and she made you travel to New York with her where you both fell in lust?”

Clarke nodded. “Yeah.”

“I didn't forget,” Lexa said, picking up the toy and examining it. It was dusty from the move, but the grime was nothing a good cleaning couldn't rinse off. “This dildo probably changed our lives.” She scrunched her nose. “That’s not a sentence I’d ever thought I’d say.”

“That dildo didn't change my life,” Clarke said. “You did.”

Lexa leaned back against the couch, her smile light and sweet. She let the moment soak in before leaning closer into Clarke and tracing the head of the dildo along the seam of her thigh. “I bet this dildo can change your night.”

Clarke’s legs fell open naturally, the gap between her thighs widening for Lexa’s easy access. “Suddenly, I’m not so tired any more.”

/

“Miller, you made it!” Octavia exclaimed, rushing over to the door to greet him. It wasn't a long walk between Clarke’s living room couch and her front door, but Octavia seemed to cover the stretch in half the usual time after she’d seen that it was Miller Clarke had opened the door for.

“We didn’t think you’d show up now that you’re a hotshot vice-president,” Raven added, trailing Octavia with her weak leg.

Miller had his own walking problems as he stepped into Clarke’s apartment and closed the door behind him. Attached to his leg was a little girl with chocolate curls and a dress that rivaled Clarke’s in cuteness. Her chubby cheek was pressed into the side of Miller’s thigh, shielding half of her face to the world.

Clarke bent down to talk to her. “And who is this?” she asked playfully.

The girl’s cheeks turned rosy, and she smiled.

“This is Maya,” Miller answered, running his hands playfully through his daughter’s curls. “She’s shy, but she’s a sweetheart. I promise she won’t break anything. On purpose.”

Clarke laughed.

“Say, ‘hi,’ Maya,” Miller instructed.

Maya squished her face even further into the fabric of Miller’s jeans. All four of them laughed.

“Babe!” Red solo cup in hand, Monty stepped out of the kitchen and into the living room, pushing his way between Octavia and Raven to get closer to Miller. The whole group perked up at his exclamation, including Maya.

“Monty!” Maya’s voice was even sweeter than her father’s, and that cuteness was only topped when she ran away from Miller’s side and crashed into Monty’s legs, hugging one of them like she would never let go. Monty stumbled a bit at the force, the cup in his hand sloshing a thick wave of red juice onto the carpet. Monty stared at the mess with an open mouth.

“I’ll clean that up,” he told Clarke, fear and guilt in his eye.

Miller scolded him. “That wouldn’t have happened if you’d been using that flask tie I gave you.”

Begrudgingly, Monty nodded, then bent down and scooped up Maya in his arms. “To the kitchen we go!” he shouted. “Let’s hope Auntie Clarke has a lot of paper towels.”

Clarke wasn't even mad. She just smiled.

Raven and Clarke had left to show Miller his way into the living room, and Clarke was just about to follow them when there was another knock on the door.

Not counting her parents, only one person who had been invited hadn’t shown up yet.

Lexa.

Clarke opened the door before she could contain her excitement.

Lexa was standing in the hallway with her arms full, a cheese tray in one hand and a plastic sack in the other. Clarke wasn’t sure how she’s managed to knock, but she didn’t care. Her arms wrapped around Lexa’s neck in a hug as she ushered her into the apartment.

“I’m so glad you came,” Clarke whispered.

“That’s what she said,” Lexa whispered back.

Clarke laughed and ended the hug to take the bag from Lexa’s hand. She peered inside the plastic sack. Crackers. Yum.

“Do you want me to put those in the kitchen?” Lexa asked, hand still partially outstretched as if experiencing the phantom loss of the bag. She curled her fingers together, coaxing Clarke to give her back the sack.

Clarke tugged the bag farther away. “No, I will put them in the kitchen,” Clarke told her. “You go into the living room and make friends.”

The living room was visible just behind Clarke. The back of the couch jutted out from the edge of the hallway wall like a car speeding out of view. A few dark strands of Octavia’s hair lay loose along the back of the couch with Raven’s arm tucked beneath them over the headrest, cradling Octavia close to her as if Miller was on the verge of stealing her woman. Maya and Monty danced in the corner of the room, highlights of light from the television playing on their cheeks. Clarke couldn't tell what they were watching from here. Someone had turned the channel, and she hoped that the cheering she just heard was coming from a sports arena.

It was a happy scene. Lexa looked upon it with disgust.

“No one wants to make friends with their boss,” she grumbled.

“That’s not true,” Clarke comforted. “Look at Miller. He’s a boss, too, and everyone loves him. They even like his kid. And no one likes the guy that brings his four year old to parties.”

Lexa didn't look convinced. “That’s because he knew you guys before he was promoted. You were already friends with him.”

“And he was already our boss when we made friends with him,” Clarke reasoned. “He just wasn't a Vice President-level boss.”

Lexa looked a little more relieved. “It’s still different though,” she insisted. “I’m the President.”

“Then go greet your subjects,” Clarke pushed, physically ushering Lexa to the end of the hallway. “Obama doesn't spend all day making sure the cheese plates get put away in the kitchen. He watches football with everyone else.”

“Obama doesn't have time for football.”

“But you do,” Clarke said. “You’re the president of some shitty company, not the leader of the free world. Just go out there and be yourself. No one is as worried about this as you are.”

Lexa took a deep breath and nodded, squeezing Clarke’s hand for comfort.

“Now, I’m going to go put this stuff in the kitchen. When I get back, I want to see you socializing. If you’re good, I can probably get a hold of some cake for you to eat tonight.”

Clarke winked, and the look on Lexa’s face let her know she knew Clarke wasn't talking about wedding cake samples.

“The things I do for sex.”

Clarke sidestepped into the kitchen, unwrapping the contents from the bag and setting the crackers down beside the rest of the party food - Octavia’s punch, Monty’s moonshine, and the Doritos Clarke certainly didn't keep around specifically for Lexa. She poured a bowl of chips, then a cup of moonshine for her and Lexa to share. She’d almost gone for the punch, but Lexa needed the extra encouragement. And she didn't get her hands on Monty’s moonshine all that often.

When she stepped back into the living room, Lexa was perched on the arm of the couch, sitting next to Octavia and watching Monty play with Maya in the corner of the room. Clarke bumped her off the couch arm to take her seat, forcing Lexa to squeeze in between Clarke and Octavia. It was a tight fit, but Octavia scooted closer to Raven, practically sliding into her lap to make room.

Clarke wrapped her arm around Lexa’s shoulders and handed her the cup. Lexa looked much more comfortable with the pda after a healthy swig of moonshine. But mostly because she was too busy grimacing at the drink.

“I see you didn't go with the punch,” Monty laughed. “How do you like it, Lexa? It’s my own special brew.”

“It’s strong,” Lexa said honestly before swirling her drink in her glass and taking another sip. “I like it.”

Monty smiled and patted Lexa on the back. “That’s the spirit! Uh, no pun intended.”

Miller rolled his eyes and turned his head away from the football game towards Lexa. “That was definitely intended.”

Lexa chuckled, and seemed to relax as she took another sip. Clarke wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol or the fact that Miller was in on the conversation now. Out of all of them besides Clarke, Miller was probably the one Lexa was most comfortable with. He hadn’t been her vice president for long, and he definitely wasn’t as close to Lexa as Anya was, but they worked together more than Lexa did with anyone else. They shared that managerial bond, and Clarke figured it was doing Lexa some good to see a higher-up that could relax.

“I got her the moonshine,” Clarke said. “Believe it or not, Lexa is actually fun when she’s drunk.”

“Are you implying that I’m not fun when I’m sober?” Lexa asked.

“I’m implying that you’re not fun when you’re at work,” Clarke corrected. “Drink up.”

Lexa took another swig, but made sure to glare at Clarke the entire time the rim of the cup was pressed to her lips.

“Stop fighting and watch the game,” Raven scolded.

Lexa cringed. “I’m more of a board game kind of person.”

That sounded like Lexa, someone who would rather be in on the competition instead of watching it from the sidelines. Clarke was fine with just observing.

“I could kick your ass at Monopoly,” Octavia deadpanned, never taking her eyes off of the television.

Lexa took it personally.

/

“Octavia, we have to go.”

Octavia ignored Raven’s words. She grabbed the dice away from Lexa’s side of the board and shook them in her hands. “Why?”

“Because at this rate I’m going to be late for my physical therapy appointment next week.”

Octavia scowled, then dropped the dice. Snake eyes.

“That’s three doubles. Go to jail,” Lexa ordered, reaching across Clarke’s dining room table to move Octavia’s piece for her.

“How about you go to Hell,” Octavia spat back.

“Can we go to bed?” Raven asked.

“Ok, I know we’ve been playing this for like two hours,” Clarke interjected. “But it’s only eight p.m.”

“Sorry,” Raven apologized. “It’s just exhausting watching your girlfriend play Monopoly for that long. I don't know how you’re doing it, Clarke.”

“You’re just mad because you blew all your money a half hour in,” Octavia spat.

“No risk, no reward,” Raven repeated.

“Stupid risk, no reward,” Lexa whispered. Everyone heard her.

Okay, maybe this wasn’t the exact method of making friends Clarke would have taken, but Lexa did seem to be earning Raven and Octavia’s respect. Somehow. Clarke was just the banker, though. It wasn’t her job to get involved. It was her job to take Octavia’s fifty dollars.

“Are you going pay up?” Clarke asked.

“No,” Octavia answered. “We’re leaving.”

“Hallelujah!” came Raven’s reply.

“If you forfeit, I win,” Lexa warned.

“I have more money than you,” Octavia taunted, fanning her rainbow of bills on the table for Lexa to count.

“You have two hundred dollars more than me,” Lexa said, unimpressed. “And it doesn’t matter. A forfeit is a forfeit.”

Octavia glared across the table. “Guess I’m still in the game, then.”

Clarke was pretty sure she saw Raven’s soul leave her body.

Octavia didn’t notice her girlfriend dying beside her. Her head was turned to the other direction, taking in Monty, asleep at the end of the table. How he managed to fall asleep amongst the bickering, Clarke didn’t know, but apparently Raven wasn’t the only one that was bored to death. Octavia smacked the back of his head. “Monty. You’re up.”

Monty jerked awake, his arms flailing out in front of him. Not only did he manage to both roll his dice and knock a hotel off Boardwalk, he tipped his drink over, too, the red punch effectively dyeing almost all of the yellow properties a mucky shade of orange. Clarke was going to complain about the ruined game until she realized the splash hit Lexa, too, and the juice speckled the front of her white blouse like blood.

She didn't look too happy about it.

“I am so sorry,” Monty apologized profusely, tearing a paper towel off the roll and handing it to Lexa as if it would wipe out the stains. The last time Clarke had seen someone afflicted with that level of fear was when she first found out Lexa was her boss, right after she had given her that dildo at the Christmas party.

“It’s okay,” Lexa said, dabbing lightly at her shirt before tossing the napkin back down onto the table, defeated. “This was an old shirt anyway.”

It wasn’t. Lexa had been stressing about what to wear for a week. She was reaching Abby levels of way too concerned over minor details and between Lexa and her mom, Clarke was about ready to punch someone in the face. She assured Lexa that the party was casual, that she should wear whatever would make her feel most comfortable, but of course Lexa had opted for something business casual rather than casual casual. It was her own fault if one of her nicer blouses was ruined.

She really didn't seemed too concerned, though. She wasn't making a big spectacle of it, anyway. Monty looked more worried than anyone.

“I can totally pay you back for that,” Monty managed behind his shock. “I have the money. I mean, you and Clarke did save my job after all. It’s only fair that I pay you back. Let me pay you back.”

“You can pay me back by coming into work on time Monday,” Lexa said, no doubt referring to the Five Minutes Late fiasco last week where when Monty still hadn't shown up thirty seconds past his clock in time and Miller became so paranoid that he had gotten into a car crash on his way to work that he wouldn't stop calling Monty’s cellphone, which he couldn't answer because he was still driving. Lexa probably wouldn't have noticed Monty being a five minutes late, but she certainly did notice Miller having a five minute break down in the office next to hers.

“I will. I promise.”

“I think we’re done,” Clarke said, throwing her stacks of money down. “Kind hard to keep the trains on the tracks when all of the Railways are submerged under water.”

“If everyone’s quitting, that means we judge who wins by who has the most money,” Octavia announced, caring more about herself than Monty’s fear, Lexa’s ruined shirt, or Clarke’s newfound lack of a working Monopoly board.

Lexa was more concerned about herself, though, too.

“If we’re all quitting, no one wins,” Lexa protested.

“Actually,” Clarke said to Lexa, leaning over to look at the number on Monty’s dice. “Monty’s roll landed him on one of your properties, so technically you’d be ahead money-wise if you wanted to judge that way.”

That effectively managed to wipe the smile off Octavia’s face. Now she just looked betrayed. And upset. And probably too angry for a game of Monopoly.

“I’m gonna go ahead and go,” Monty announced, rising slowly from his chair so as not to unsettle Octavia even further. “Miller’s already gone, and I’m gonna go home and call him and make sure he got Maya into bed safe and sound. I’d go over and check, but if I keep spending the night Maya is going to think I’ve moved in already, and I can’t do that until my lease is up.” He grabbed his coat from the coat rack and wasted no time in putting it on. “Again, I’m real sorry about your shirt, Lexa.” He was gone before Lexa could refuse his apology.

“Looks like I win,” Lexa bragged, taking over the awkward silence left by Monty’s departure.

“Only on a technicality,” Octavia grumbled. “If we had been able to keep playing, there’s a good chance I would have won.”

“We couldn't, though, and you didn't.”

“We’re so having a rematch.”

“You’re on.”

“As glad as I am that you’re all getting along,” Clarke started. “I hope someone is replacing my Monopoly board.”

“Sorry, Clarke. I’ll bring over mine next time,” Octavia promised.

“There’s going to be a next time?” Raven asked, like a child on her very first day of school who just found out she had to go back again tomorrow.

“Do you not want me to rematch Lexa to regain my dignity?” Octavia asked. “Do you want to be girlfriends with someone who’s lost all sense of pride and self-worth?”

“If Monopoly victories are the highlight of your life, maybe I should look for someone better.”

“You don't mean that,” Octavia argued, leaning over to kiss Raven on the cheek. Raven softened and blushed. “You love me.”

“You’re right. I do.”

“When are you going to propose already?” Octavia joked, pulling back just enough to scrutinize Raven’s face.

“Got the ring in my pocket,” she deadpanned.

Octavia rolled her eyes. “No, you don’t.”

“Check,” Raven challenged.

Octavia faltered for a moment, genuinely surprised by Raven’s testing tone, before steeling her face and sliding her hand across Raven’s stomach to the right pocket of her jacket with purpose. Her face fell again as her fingers slipped inside the coat and Clarke was on the edge of her seat when Octavia pulled a black box out from Raven’s side.

“How did-”

“Open it,” Raven instructed.

Octavia looked across the table towards Clarke, then back to Raven, her eyes wide with questions as she pushed open the lid of the box.

Inside was a ring.

“You… you planned this?” Octavia asked, whipping her head around to the other side of the table to Lexa and Clarke. “Did you guys know about this?”

Lexa’s jaw was dropped when Clarke looked over at her and Clarke wouldn’t be surprised if hers was, too. “No,” she said honestly.

“I didn’t plan it,” Raven clarified. “I’ve had that in my pocket for, like, a month. I’ve just been waiting for the right time.”

“This is really an engagement ring?” Octavia asked, more surprised than Clarke had ever seen her, and Clarke had been with Octavia through a lot.

“Yep,” Raven said. “Are you gonna put it on, or were you joking about the whole proposing thing? Cause if you don’t want to marry me I’m gonna take the ring back for a refund. Lexa doesn’t pay me enough to for me to let you keep that as just a gift.”

“Yes, I’ll marry you. Of course.”

“Looks just like the Luxury Tax ring,” Lexa noted as Octavia pulled the band out of its case and slipped it onto her finger.

Clarke elbowed her girlfriend in the side. She hoped it hurt as much as her cheeks did from smiling as she watched Raven and Octavia kiss.

Octavia was buzzing so much, she stood up. “That’s it. We’re leaving,” she announced. “We are going back to my place and having the greatest honeymoon sex ever. I don’t even care if my brother hears us.”

“We can’t have honeymoon sex until after the wedding,” Raven protested.

“Then we’re either going to get married tonight or have engagement sex,” Octavia clarified. “Your pick.”

“Engagement sex,” Raven chose, standing to face Octavia and pull her in close by her belt loops. “I know we joke about eloping and getting hitched overnight, but I want to do the real thing with you: plan a big wedding and make a real day out of it.”

“You’re a sap,” Octavia said. “I like it.” She placed another kiss on Raven’s lips, before turning back to Clarke and Lexa, remembering them still sitting at the dining room table. “Seriously, though. We’re leaving. Don’t think I forgot about that Monopoly rematch, though,” she said to Lexa. “And don’t think I’m not calling you tomorrow and gushing about how great my fiance is in bed,” she told Clarke.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Clarke said. She was out of her chair in no time, wrapping her arms around Raven and Octavia in a group hug that lasted long enough for Clarke not to notice Lexa standing up too until she pulled away. She retreated back to Lexa’s side as Raven and Octavia said their goodbyes and left, and Clarke found herself wrapping an arm around Lexa’s lower back and pulling her in even closer than Raven had held Octavia.

The silence was nice for a moment as Clarke collected her thoughts.

“I can’t tell if the night went better or worse than expected,” Clarke admitted, toying with the stained fabric of Lexa’s shirt but still feeling the adrenaline rush from watching Raven propose. “I hope you had a good time either way. I did.”

“I did, too,” Lexa promised. “I got free alcohol and a Monopoly win, I watched someone propose to their girlfriend, and I got to do it all with you.”

Clarke’s smile was replaced by a set of lips against hers in a kiss Clarke poured all of her gratefulness into.

Lexa was right. The night could have gone a lot worse.

Clarke’s palms pressed against the fabric of Lexa’s chest, fingers toying with the plastic of the buttons. She popped the two closest to the collar before sliding her hand between the cotton and Lexa’s skin, widening the gap and exposing more of Lexa’s chest to the air.

She had a way of utilizing her adrenaline in mind. Apparently Lexa had the same line of thought.

“You may as well take it all the way off,” Lexa ordered. “I’ll need to change anyway.”

Clarke complied, undoing another few buttons and exposing the top of Lexa’s stomach. “Your skin is sticky,” she noted. “The punch soaked through. I can help you shower if you want.”

“That sounds perfect.”

Clarke leaned in for another kiss when the doorbell buzzed.

Clarke groaned.

She remembered a lot less cockblocking when it was just the two of them in New York.

A brief scan around the room showed no obvious sign of Raven or Octavia’s left behind coats or cell phones, but still Clarke ordered, “Stay here. I’ll get it. Someone might have forgotten something.”

Lexa nodded and Clarke left her in the dining room to her own devices. After a quick check down the hallway to make sure Lexa, shirt half undone, wasn't visible from the doorway, Clarke answered the knock.

“We brought cake!”

Oh fuck.

Abby let herself in, arms full of small bakery boxes, with Kane toting his own load of paper crates behind her. Curtly, he nodded as he walked past Clarke, and Clarke stopped them from walking any farther into her apartment as they kicked the snow off their shoes at the welcome mat.

“Hang on right here for a sec. I have to… clean off the dining table.”

Clarke raced down the hall, back to Lexa who was waiting patiently, shirt still halfway off her shoulders.

“Turns out I’m the one who forgot something,” Clarke started. “My parents are here.”

“Shit.” Lexa’s fingers blazed a trail up her shirt as she hurried to reclasp the buttons, but Clarke pushed her farther back into the apartment, closer to the bedroom.

“Just go to my room,” Clarke said. “You can shower and change into something of mine while I deal with them.”

Lexa nodded. “Any chance I can wait and have that shower with you later?”

“Rain check on the shower,” Clarke promised. “But I might let you stay the night, if that makes up for it.”

“We’ll see,” Lexa said, leaning forward and giving Clarke one last peck on the lips before slipping into the room and closing the door behind her.

Safe, Clarke peeked back down the hallway. “You guys can come in now.”

In moments Kane and Abby stood exactly where Lexa and Clarke had just made out, but they weren't quick to put their boxes down and settle in.

“I thought you said you were cleaning,” Abby commented, noting the spilled drink and ruined game pieces strewn across the top of the counter top.

“Sorry,” Clarke apologized. “My coworkers are party animals. Monty spilled the drink, but it was Octavia’s fault for needing to play Monopoly.” She raced to grab the paper towels and pick up the game pieces that were still dry to put them back in the box, but it took her a moment before she’d cleared enough space for her parents to sit and set their stuff down.

“When you first told me you were getting your own apartment, I was a bit worried you’d get out of control with the parties, but I’m at least glad to see there wasn't alcohol involved.”

“There was,” Clarke admitted. “Monopoly is just the most sobering game on the planet.”

“You haven't spent an entire day listening to congressional hearings,” Kane said. “The Senate makes Monopoly look like fun. But anyway, let’s eat some cake!”

“Did you guys pick a flavor yet?” Clarke asked, trying to make small talk and settle her nerves. If Kane and Abby wanted her to try all of these samples with them, she wasn’t going to get back to Lexa and the bedroom anytime soon. Might as well get sex off the brain.

“No, we’re still testing them out,” Abby answered. “Here, try this one.” She opened a box and handed Clarke a plastic fork, and Clarke remembered that she might be just a little bit tipsy because this was probably some of the best cake she’d ever head.

“Oh my god, please buy that one.”

“Here, try this.” Kane pushed another sample towards her. Clarke dug in.

“Oh my god, that’s even better. Get both.”

“We can only get one,” Abby warned. “There’s less of a chance of them screwing up our order that way.”

“What was the first one?” Clarke asked, surveying the remainder of the boxes. There had to be close to ten.

“Raspberry,” Abby answered. “The second was chocolate.”

“Get chocolate raspberry,” Clarke concluded.

“You haven't even tried the rest of them.”

“Let me finish these two first.” Clarke plunged her fork back into the crumbling mound of chocolate, but Abby pulled the tray away before Clarke could shovel off another bite.

“You can’t eat all of it,” she scolded.

“I could,” Clarke mumbled, reaching over and extracting her fork. “You just won’t let me.”

Abby gave Clarke a disapproving look, opened the lid of the next box, then stalled. The apartment went quiet and the sound of water pelting the bathtub could easily be heard in the next room over.

“Is someone in your shower?” Abby interrogated.

“Mhmm,” Clarke hummed, wishing she could have avoided this conversation. “Monty spilled punch all over Lexa, so I told her should could use my bathroom.”

“Your boss?” Abby questioned, recalling the name.

Nonchalantly, Clarke licked the remaining chocolate off the prongs of her fork. She shrugged, avoiding eye contact with her mother and trying to play it cool. “My girlfriend.”

Kane’s eyebrows were raised inquisitively, but Abby’s were arched more defensively, like a bridge bracing itself for a heavy load of traffic. “Different Lexa?” she asked.

“Nope.”

Abby relaxed quicker than Clarke thought she would, accepting the honesty better than Clarke expected. “I guess you two hit it off in New York?”

“Big time.”

With a creak of the knobs, the shower stopped running and the silence that followed in the apartment was more awkward than the conversation. Clarke was quick to redirect. She pointed towards the next box with her fork. “Let me try another one.”

Between her nerves at outing her and Lexa’s relationship and the deliciousness of the first two cakes, Clarke wasn’t expecting her third slice to be quite as good. As soon as the flavor hit her tongue, though, she was back in New York educating Lexa on the glory of Starbucks, back in Lexa’s car sipping her brew on their way to work. Coffee. This was the best flavor yet.

“That one’s my favorite,” Kane said.

Clarke always knew she liked him.

“I’ll be right back,” Clarke said, closing up her cake box, fork inside, and taking it with her as she stood and walked past the dining room and into her bedroom.

Lexa was sitting on the edge of the bed, draped in one of Clarke’s oversized shirts and her own pair of jeans. Her head was leaned forward, hair cascading out in front of her as she patted her curls dry with a towel. Clarke could smell the shampoo they had given each other for Christmas as Lexa lifted her head and tossed Clarke a sweet smile.

“Are your parents gone?” she asked.

“No.” Clarke shook her head. “I just wanted you to try this.” She held out the box and Lexa took it tentatively, setting down her towel to grasp it with both hands.

“Every time you give me a box there seems to be a dildo inside.”

“Don’t worry. This time it’s something that shouldn’t go anywhere near your vagina.”

Lexa’s face remained skeptic as she popped open the lid, but as soon as she saw what was inside she smiled. “Cake.” Eagerly, she picked up the fork and tasted a bite, closing her eyes and humming lightly in satisfaction. “It’s delicious.”

The toe of Clarke’s shoe scuffed against the doorframe as she leaned against the wall and kicked it out of nervous habit. “Now that you’ve already got the cake, you won’t want to come to the wedding with me,” she joked. “You’re never going to meet my parents at this rate.”

“Yes, I am,” Lexa insisted, standing and taking the box with her. “I’m going to meet them right now.”

Clarke’s feet stalled and her heart skipped again, but this time she wasn’t sure if the murmur was because of how good Lexa looked coming towards her, how good Lexa smelled after her shower, or how good Lexa treated her as a girlfriend.

“You sure?” Clarke asked. “You want to meet my friends and my parents in one day?”

“They’re yours,” Lexa explained. “I want everything that’s yours.”

Clarke’s reason told her she probably wasn’t going into cardiac arrest.

Her heart told her that it would probably never start beating again.

She bit back the three words on her tongue. This wasn’t their day. It was a day for everyone else. For Miller and Monty moving in together. For Raven and Octavia’s engagement. For Kane and Abby’s wedding.

There would be a lot more days for just the two of them.