The light is blinding.
She blinks against it, unable to see anything but the neon behind her eyes. A hand up to block it, but it’s coming from everywhere and nowhere all at once.
There’s a ringing in her ears, high pitched and strange.
And then it’s gone.
All at once.
And she opens her eyes and blinks it away again, wiping at her watery eyes and patting her cheeks.
She’s in the middle of a walkway, in the middle of a crowd.
It looks familiar, feels familiar.
She sees someone just ahead.
There’s something she knows in the girl’s walk. A swagger, assuredness down to the very core.
There’s a tug inside Lexa, an urge.
The wavy blonde hair falls along leather clad shoulders in a way she’s seen before.
And something ignites inside of her.
Lexa quickens her own step, unable to breathe, unable to think about anything besides the blood rushing in her ears and the way the world suddenly seems like it’s shaking around her.
About to open up and swallow her whole before she gets closer.
Before she can reach out and touch.
Before she can find what she thought was lost to her forever.
She threads through the crowd, trying to follow the blonde hair that bobs and weaves, that cuts through the people on the walkway like she was made to do it.
And Lexa is so close, so impossibly close.
Opening her mouth to speak but the name is strangled inside. Her lips dry and her tongue heavy, sluggish.
She reaches instead. Foregoing the decorum that resides in her very bones to wrap a gentle hand around bicep. Her mouth opening again at the same time as the skin of her fingers meet soft leather.
But the muscle beneath her fingers tightens. And a head whips around, moves into her space like a shadow and suddenly Lexa doesn’t know which way is up.
Because staring back at her is not the love she thought she was after, but a very angry, very strong, stranger.
“Excuse me,” the girl growls. Her eyes steely, studying Lexa in the seconds it takes for her to try to still her raging heart.
To quell the way it wants to shatter inside of her.
“Sorry,” she chokes out. Clears her throat and starts again, “I’m sorry I-” she what? How does she explain the urge that made her reach out and grab a perfect stranger in a moment of utter weakness.
The other girl releases her grip on Lexa and takes a step back. She softens as she scans Lexa again. A strange sort of recognition dawns on her face as she tilts her head and crosses her arms in front of her, scooting further out of the path of the shuffling crowd behind them.
Lexa watches it happen. Tries again to slow her heart rate. To focus on what is around her.
Loud noises, pavement, tall skyscrapers.
It’s a city.
Real and very different from the spiritual realm that housed the ones who came before her.
No, this has smells and smoke and humidity.
And a stranger who is still studying her.
“I’m sorry, I… I don’t know why I did that. I thought you were-” she pauses. Unable to say the name. Unable to form the syllables she learned to cherish. “I thought you were someone else.”
Lexa closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Realizations flooding into her at an astounding rate.
“Are you alright?” The other girl asks quietly.
“No.” Lexa doesn’t hide it, but it doesn’t come easily. Shaking off the training and the armor she wore for most of her life.
“Okay, why don’t we get off the sidewalk and into that cafe over there and you can tell me why you grabbed me and looked like you wanted to die when I turned around.”
Lexa blanches. Embarrassment and dismay colliding inside of her, forming a strange and unique storm. She nods slowly and follows this stranger, not entirely sure why, but at a loss of what else to do.
The world around her is still strange, and still loud, but she settles quicker than she should. A new reality wraps itself around her like a second skin and she is still Lexa, but she is this world’s Lexa. One who understands money, and technology, and hot chai lattes.
It’s… unsettling to say the least.
“You’re not from here, are you?”
Lexa’s eyes widen and she shakes her head.
“I can see it on you. It’s weird, isn’t it? How we are still the same inside, but how easily we change into the person who belongs in this world.”
“Are you like me?”
“Yes, but I’ve had more time to deal with it. It used to be the way I lived my life, jumping from realm to realm to track someone down…trying to stop the inevitable.” A dark look crosses her face, and she looks down at her coffee for a moment. “That was a long time ago though.”
A million questions race through Lexa’s brain but she knows she can’t ask them.
“This is your first jump?”
“Uh,” Lexa takes a sip of her drink, praying for strength from the hot liquid. “I’m not sure.”
“If you’re not sure then it’s your first. What’s your name?”
Sara settles even more comfortably in the chair across from her. Crossing her legs and stretching back. At complete ease.
The opposite of everything Lexa feels inside, that she prays she does not show.
The way her blood races and the synapses under her skin feel electric and how everything is strangely abuzz as more and more this reality works its way into her.
“It was the strangest sensation the first time I woke up. Probably because I had been dead.” She shrugs like it’s nothing. As if it’s normal, death and rebirth. “It was like a live wire was under my skin and everything sank into me so rapidly I wanted to puke. But I knew it was what was supposed to happen.”
“How did you know?”
“Because I wasn’t finished yet.” She says it simply. Everything about her is nonchalant. Calm.
“How did you know about me?” Lexa flusters.
“I could see it in your eyes. The way everything slammed into you. I had it easier, the realm that I existed in was parallel to the one I found myself in. You… stick out like a sore thumb.”
“I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds painful.”
Sara laughs and takes another sip of her coffee, leaning forward with a keen eye. Lexa knows it’s coming, but Sara lets her prepare. “This is your awakening. So, tell me your story.”
Lexa licks her lips and stares at her chai, the flower in the foam slowly disappearing with each sip she takes.
“I wasn’t finished yet either. I had only just begun.” It’s all she can bear to say. The words leaving her lips in a strangled whisper, the memories ripping through her heart, her stomach. The noise and the cries and the way the darkness caved in around eyes that looked at her like she was the last good thing on earth.
Sara accepts her silence, reaching out and placing a gentle hand on top of Lexa’s. Lexa doesn’t back away, cannot bring herself to shun the comfort.
She realizes how foolish it was, to mistake Sara for her. The girl has slimmer shoulders and a different air about her entirely. But in all the newness of this life, there was no fighting it.
It is better this way, she supposes. Finding a guide. Finding a listening ear and a similar soul to help walk her through this awakening.
Maybe this is how it was always supposed to go.
“Did you have anyone guide you through this?” They’re back on the street and heading to a safe house.
“I did. But, my awakening wasn’t like this. I had heard stories about the pit… legends. I thought it was a myth, turns out it wasn’t.”
“I don’t think I was in a pit.”
“No, you probably weren’t. Everyone is brought back in different ways, but we all go through the same soul stretching.”
“But you had people?”
“I had people.”
They continue in silence after that. Lexa trying to take in the fast paced world around her, trying not to look out of place, but feeling it more and more with each step. Too in her head.
Her training and composure failing her.
Sara pulls them to a stop in front of a nondescript building and they climb three levels to the top floor. It’s such a far cry from the top of the tower, and it pangs Lexa to look out from the window and see nothing but brick and mortar across the small alleyway between buildings.
“You’ll feel more like yourself after a good sleep.” Sara reaches over and hands her a glass of water. It tastes nothing like the rainwater that would collect on the leaves and in buckets around the city, or the fresh, cool water from the streams and rivers. It also tastes nothing like the metallic, tangy water that came from the ground. She makes a strange face as she swallows the cool liquid.
“Oh, so you’re from way before or way after then…” There’s curiosity laced through her statement, but it’s not an outright question.
“Before or after what?”
“The nuclear war.” She settles on the couch and studies Lexa again. Her gaze is never unkind, merely inquisitive. Lexa cannot help but think Sara can see everything about her. It’s disconcerting.
She was only comfortable when one person did that, and even that comfort took a while to grow into.
“After.” She knows about it. Read about it in texts that they had salvaged. Remembered it from the teachings she sat through as a young natblida. The dreams and stories Rebecca would speak to her at night.
“Well, fuck. I haven’t met anyone from after. Not yet.”
Lexa glances at her from the corner of her eye. Taking her time to study Sara now. The cool ease she exhibits, the calm nature. There’s a strength that belies her small frame, one that Lexa recognizes. One that rests inside her own bones. She is so perfectly relaxed in front of a stranger, it’s a relaxation born of training. Born of the ability to defend and protect oneself.
Sara is a warrior.
They are one in the same.
“Where are we now?”
“About forty years before. I like this realm, it was just before the world really started to crack.”
“From what I’ve read, the world seemed like it was always cracking.” Lexa finally settles in the chair by the window. It’s comforting in a small way, and she feels the exhaustion begin to seep into her.
“You might be right about that.”
She takes another sip of the water and this time it’s more refreshing. More… familiar. Perhaps this is what Sara meant by everything coming home inside of her. The sun starts to set and a golden glow stretches through the room. It brings back memories that are wrought with so much pleasure and so much pain that Lexa’s breath catches.
She closes her eyes and it’s worse. Everything spins inside of her, and suddenly she’s back in warm furs, in warm arms.
Until she blinks open again and an entirely different blonde is staring at her with wide, worried eyes.
She shakes her head and clears her throat and Sara stands up again.
“It will be easier, every time that happens.”
“It will never be easy,” Lexa spits. The happiness that was within her grasp had shattered in the worst way. In the way she should have seen coming.
“Do you remember dying?” Lexa’s blood is still rushing and her heart feels like it’s going to bottom out, and the ache in her stomach feels so real she has to steady a hand against it, make sure it’s not wet with blood.
“Does that ever go away?”
Sara doesn’t answer and it’s enough. It’s enough to know that even in this realm, in this universe, in this wherever the fuck she is, she will always, always be Heda Leksa kom Trikru.
“You learn how to use it though.”
Lexa is starting to realize Sara speaks in statements and half-formed ideas to nudge her into speaking.
It’s a trick she used herself.
And she is glad for it.
“Use it for what?”
“To remember why you were reborn. To handle your awakening, to propel you through each realm until you find what brought you back.”
“What brought you here?”
Sara swallows and sends Lexa a sad smile. “My sister.”
There is a gentleness that comes with her words. The burden lifted just a bit. Lexa wonders if that hurt is what Sara recognized most of all.
“She died, too. And everything fell apart.” Sara turns and walks into the kitchen. Lexa hears a drawer open and then shut before Sara comes back with a handful of papers. “This is gonna be trippy, but we’ve gotta eat… and, shit, I’m glad I get to introduce you to this food.”
There’s a wicked grin on her face that covers up the hurt that laced her voice before she retreated into the other room.
Lexa allows it, staring at the brightly colored papers in her hands. Something nudging at her in her mind. That second skin coating her again, this life she landed in coming alive under her bones.
Pizza, Lexa decides, could be the only food she ever eats and she’d die again happy and content.
The warm cheese and spicy sauce on the thin crust is so simple but so delicious it seems ridiculous.
And yet, she’s full and sated with half of the round pie in her belly.
And Sara laughs at her. Hasn’t stopped teasing her since they sat down to eat.
She sees flashes of Anya when she looks at Sara. A glint of that same delight at teasing Lexa lives in her eyes and nostalgia pokes at her.
But she isn’t as sad as she thought she would be.
She drinks the beer Sara had in the fridge and enjoys the way the bubbles fizz on her tongue as they slide down her throat. It’s different from the kind she grew up around. Many different flavors at play within the familiar liquid.
It warms her from the inside out and it’s the best she’s felt all day.
Well, since she woke up anyway.
“You’re going to have to tell me sometime…” Sara swigs at her beer and looks out across the street. The summer air has grown cooler, more pleasurable on the balcony of the apartment.
She feels lighter in Sara’s presence. At ease. She doesn’t entirely know why and it’s frustrating, the way her guard has decided to come down and stay there.
“Might as well get it out, it’ll help you readjust.”
“Did it help you?”
Sara looks away again, “Something like that.”
“But you knew why you were brought back?”
Sara nods around another sip of beer. Drains the bottle and opens another with a crisp crack.
“I came back for her.”
Lexa still can’t bear to say the name. Can barely think it in her mind.
“Love, then,” Sara smirks.
The word burrows into Lexa and starts a fire.
There was never any other word for what she felt.
It was strong and overwhelming. Simply everything.
“That’s why you grabbed me today?”
Lexa nods, her face blushing again with embarrassment at the mistake.
“What is she like?”
Something inside of Lexa crumbles. How could she even begin to describe the enigma…
Sara reaches out and touches Lexa’s knee, pulling her attention. “It’s okay, Lexa. You don’t have to tell me right now. But it’s good… to know why you’re here.”
Lexa nods and swallows heavy words with a heavy tongue. Looking up at the stars and feeling so much like Heda she almost cannot breathe.
What was only yesterday seems so far away.
“This shit gets really real, really fucking fast sometimes. It’s good to have your grounding point.”
Lexa almost laughs at the word.
Grounder… that’s what the skaikru called them. Grounders. Unfamiliar with the names of her peoples and throwing any label on them they chose.
It seems unbelievably ironic that a girl from the sky would be her grounding point.
A peal of laughter sounds from her own mouth, and maybe it’s the beer or the pizza or just all of it, but she doesn’t fight it. She lets it come and lets it grow and hears Sara begin to laugh next to her until they’re both clutching their stomachs.
She feels alive. Truly alive.
For the first time since that afternoon curled up in her furs.
She dreams of blue eyes and soft lips.
And when she wakes up it’s odd. The surroundings that don’t match anything in memory. The false reality that flits through her brain to acclimate her to the present works faster than yesterday.
But something holds her back. The way she can still remember warm skin against her own and how it almost breaks her.
She closes her eyes again and places her hand firmly on her stomach. Checking once, then twice, that it doesn’t hurt. That her hand comes away clean.
It all feels like a nightmare.
It all feels too real.
She lumbers into the shower and washes off the night, the day, the beer that she can still feel sloshing around inside. Sara is passed out on the couch when she makes her way back to the living room, scrounging for cold pizza and taking it outside onto the balcony.
There are some things that stay the same, no matter what realm.
The sun will rise, the birds will chirp, and the morning dew will feel cool and heavy in the air.
And for this, Lexa is grateful.
It feels solemn. Like a meditative state.
Sitting above the noise on the street and welcoming the start of the new day. It reminds her of the life she used to have, the one high in the tower above the world.
The one close to the sky.
In every way.
Sara joins her after a long while, handing her a warm cup of tea and sitting in the same spot she occupied last night. The sun is fully up and the streets below are full of life and full of color and this old new world isn’t so odd after all.
Polis was just the same.
“I’ve been thinking,” Lexa starts. Waits for Sara to allow her to continue. “You said we only experience this awakening once we’ve died.”
“I did,” she slurps her coffee and it grates against Lexa’s ears.
“I don’t think I want her to be here then,” Lexa confesses. The truth that sat in her since she heard those words the day before unfurling.
“Perhaps she’s not. But, you’re here for a reason.”
“I wasn’t finished yet.”
“Finished with what, Lexa?”
“Finished with living.”
She scoffs and ruminates. “No, I suppose not. But, my life was never my own.”
“Your sister, she died?”
“She did. I’ve been trying to find her.”
Sara smiles and shakes her head, “I’m not sure you’re ready for that yet, kid.”
Lexa grumbles. Sips her tea and grumbles some more. The questions and the frustrations rack up in her head and everything at once overwhelms her.
“How do you expect me to know what’s happening if you do not enlighten me.” She can hear her voice take on that quality it had in the throne room. Her spine straightens at the annoyance of not getting an answer, and she taps at the arm of the chair.
It’s all… instinct.
Sara smirks again, “What are you?”
“More than you will ever be,” Lexa snaps.
Sara rolls her eyes and Lexa’s fire grows.
“This is madness.” She stands with a huff and stalks back to her room, more confused and lost than ever.
She doesn’t know why the knock at her door comes as a surprise. Every blonde she ever known in life and death has been pushy.
Sara opens the door and props herself up against the jamb, arms crossed.
“Get it out,” she demands.
Lexa sighs and rolls over, still clutching the pillow beneath her head. “Is everyone here dead?”
“So we’ve been brought to this place, even though we are, to find what we were not finished with.”
“Yes, you could say that.”
“How do you see it?”
“It’s a second chance. Or a third, or a fourth… depending on how much we’ve fucked up.”
“But if she’s here, too…”
“How long were you in this world before your sister.”
“I haven’t found my sister yet.”
“But how do you know she’s here?”
“I just know. I know she’s… somewhere. I haven’t figured that part out yet.”
“What did you do before that?”
“Well,” Sara walks in the room sensing Lexa’s renewed softness and sits at the foot of the bed. “I worked with a team for a while trying to do good. I had a lot of blood to clean off my slate and I thought that if I worked to save people it would somehow balance out.”
Lexa doesn’t respond, but her jaw clenches out of habit. Everything in her life was war and death and destruction. Everything until she thought of another way. Everything until things crashed from the sky.
“Are you sure that they’re dead, and not just… alive somehow in this life?”
“I’m not. But I haven’t ever run into a different version of me in any of these places so, I’m going with that.”
“But we are alive?”
Sara nods, “Sure as fuck we are. We can get hurt, and bleed… we can die.”
Lexa wonders what color her blood is in this new life. If it still carries the markers that set her apart, made her different.
“I know of a place like this. A city. It wasn’t real and it housed the ones who came before me. But that place was peaceful, and I knew the people around me. This place is… loud. Full of strangers.”
“No offense, but it sounds like you were in a really weird situation before you got here.”
Lexa smiles, “Yeah.”
It only takes a few days for Lexa to fully acclimate to this strange world. She is still Lexa, but she understands how to move through this place. Sara is a constant presence next to her, teaching, teasing.
Lexa is thankful for her every day, even if the other girl makes her roll her eyes more often than not.
Sara talks about traveling.
About realm jumping.
About how crazy this all is and how real.
She points out people she can see that are like them. Lexa learns to spot them, too. How they walk differently and eye everything with a degree of curiosity.
“Do I look like that?” She turns and asks Sara one day, after following another for a few blocks up a crowded street.
“No. Well, not anymore at least. You did. You were like a neon sign when I found you.”
Sara is distracted by something in the window they pass and Lexa furrows.
“I found you.”
“Well, yeah… you did, but…I recognized what you were before you had time to run off.”
“Are there a lot of us?”
“I don’t know, how would we even begin to count? We all move around and seek what we left behind, it’s not something quantifiable.”
“No, I suppose it’s not.”
“You are still special, Lexa. Not everyone gets this chance.”
Lexa nods, swallows her next question. Fearful that she… fearful that she will always be searching for her. Maybe, maybe she will find peace in that life and have no need for this second chance.
Sara walks along in silence and gestures to the sprawling green park across the street. It’s nothing like the forest she was born in, the one that surrounded her for much of her life. It’s merely a green space in the midst of concrete and steel.
But it makes her feel infinitely better.
“She’ll come,” Sara whispers and breaks the silence. Understanding so many things Lexa has not said.
“How do you know?”
“Because you’re here. That’s how it works.”
Lexa just nods again. The words stuck in her throat, unwilling to work themselves out.
They sit on the grass and feel the sun. The grass is cool beneath her, and it feels like a different life. She moves her fingers above the blades and closes her eyes and she’s ten again, sneaking off from training to sit in the field of wildflowers that have just bloomed.
And when she blinks open, she is back in the city she woke in.
“How did you die?”
She feels Sara shift next to her, turn her head to study Lexa as she sits beside her. Sara tilts her head back up to the sun, lying fully back until her head is pillowed on the grass.
“I was shot.”
The word slams into her not unlike the bullet that found it’s way into her gut. Shot.
Is that why this universe paired them together?
“I didn’t even have time to realize it…”
Lexa doesn’t speak, her mouth cotton. She observes the trees as they sway gently in the summer breeze. Watches the people walk by, each one of them absorbed with something different.
“I had just said goodbye to my sister. We didn’t…god, we wasted so much time.”
Lexa looks at her then, silently asking for her to continue. Feeling like everything is working to tear her apart inside.
“It’s funny, really. I was presumed dead for a long time. I wasn’t though, I was shipwrecked on an island. I snuck off with her boyfriend, I had always had a crush on him and he was a good lay… it was rotten of me and I’m still not quite sure why I did it. But the ship was sabotaged and then we were fighting for our lives on this island.”
“But you made it back?”
“Some of me did. The League of Assassins got to me first and then I had to stay away.”
“I wasn’t Sara anymore.” She shrugs like it’s a simple answer. But, Lexa knows from experience that it never is. “I was who they made me. I did their bidding and I lived their life. I killed for them, and I liked it. It was exhilarating.” There’s an odd half-smile on her face as she remembers.
“And then there was the girl… fuck, I loved her.”
And yes, this is why the universe brought them together.
“And when you went back?”
“I still wasn’t supposed to but I couldn’t stay away anymore. I had to protect my sister, I had to let them know I was alive. I wish I could regret going back, but I don’t.”
They grow quiet again, the noises of the city just starting to creep in. The conversations and laughter of the people milling through the park come and go.
“How long ago?”
“And you still remember it?”
“When I don’t sleep well. Sometimes I can still feel pain in my chest.”
“I thought it would go away.”
Sara sits up then. “Maybe it will when we find them. Maybe it won’t. Maybe it’s our reminder.”
Lexa hums deep in thought. Ruminating on all of the events that worked together to bring her here. The life she had in front of her, the love she finally let herself believe in. The path she could see unfurl to make it work for everyone, and how foolish she was.
How foolish to think anything would change just because she willed it to.
How foolish to take her heart out of her chest and hand it to a girl who was fumbling just as much as she was.
With a deep sigh she settles back against the grass and stares at the blue sky above. The clouds move slowly against their canvas, changing and billowing.
“We should stay here for a while until you get your feet under you some more.” Sara finally breaks the silence.
“What about your sister?”
“Maybe she’ll find me here. Maybe we’ll need to move. I’m not in a rush, I know I’ll get to her somehow.”
Lexa nods and bites her lip, focusing intently on a cloud that looks like a ship. She imagines it sailing waves on a clear blue sea, instead of the clear blue sky.
“When you’re ready to move, you’ll know. Until then, we can hang here and live.”
What does that word even mean anymore? What has that word ever truly meant?
They begin training. There’s a boxing gym near the apartment Sara uses, small and dodgy looking on the outside, but full of life on the inside. Sara brings her there one morning, introduces her to the trainers that flit around, and the hardened, bruised men who beat on each other in the ring.
It smells like sweat and must and Lexa loves it immediately.
She was skeptical about Sara’s claim that getting her blood pumping would help her feel more like herself, but the truth flows freely in her veins.
Moving and fighting and sparring makes her feel more like Lexa than anything has yet.
This, this is ingrained in her. Built into her muscles from rote exercises and pre-dawn trainings.
This, this will never leave her no matter what realm she’s in.
Lexa will always be the weapon they whittled her into.
She is surprised when Sara proves a worthy opponent and seems quicker on her feet than Indra and even Anya.
Anya who never let her get away with anything when she was a second and even after she ascended. Perhaps even more so after the fact.
The mentor she didn’t know she needed and the one who she could never, ever shake.
Sara doesn’t pull her punches and moves swiftly around her, flighty. Like a bird.
Even focused as she is on avoiding hits and landing her own, Lexa can feel the smile that wants to take over her face.
She doesn’t give Sara the satisfaction though. Taking the happiness that begins to overwhelm her and using it to strengthen her hits.
It’s not until Sara has laid her out on her back twice in a row, that she gives up and lets the smile take over. There is something so much like her memories, something so much like Anya, that she cannot help it.
Sara helps her up and tosses her a towel and Lexa just wants more and more.
“I want to ask you again what you were in your past life, but I think the hits you landed on my sides might speak for themselves later.”
Lexa lets a feral grin spread across her face, “I’m not sure you could even comprehend everything I was.”
“Fair enough,” Sara gasps and swigs from her water bottle. “Maybe I should start a different routine. You can be my workout buddy until we find your girl.”
Lexa can hear the slight playful tone that resides under Sara’s words but ignores it. It’s not the first time someone has playfully hinted at more, and it certainly won’t be the last, but she knows it’s not anything Sara will push.
And that makes her feel safe.
They run before the sun comes up, traveling a clear path around the neighborhood before ending up at the boxing gym. They move and spar, Lexa picking up on Sara’s movements and mannerisms perhaps quicker than the other girl would like.
She begins teaching Lexa different styles of fighting. Moving out of the boxing ring and onto the mat. This, this is more familiar to what Lexa had known in her past life. And yet, there are techniques that she never knew. Things that are new and brilliant and feel good in her muscles.
Sara radiates a joy when they train. When she can teach Lexa. When Lexa begins to move the way she wants her to.
It’s thrilling in its own way.
“You don’t pull your punches, I like that.” She admits, in the middle of a particularly scrappy fight.
“Why on earth would I ever do that?” Sara sounds offended.
“Most people around me learned to do so. It was frustrating in more than one way and something I never grew used to.” She dodges an attack and pushes forward with her own.
“And why was that?”
It’s a new thing Sara has begun doing. Sneaking in questions about Lexa’s life when they’re distracted.
Lexa simply grits her jaw and lands a particularly hard hit on Sara’s side.
“Fuck, alright… you don’t like talking about yourself, I got it.” She sweeps her leg out and knocks Lexa on her back and walks away.
Lexa stares at the dingy lights above them and tries to catch her breath, her head spinning.
Sara has been nothing but patient with her. Has allowed her the freedom to hold on to what used to be, but she knows that talking about it will only help.
And she knows that Sara has told her things she doesn’t share with just anyone.
It’s not as if she doesn’t want to. She longs to unburden herself, to share the past with someone who may understand. But, she’s fighting against everything inside of her that says not to. That says Heda must be better, must keep it all inside.
That Heda must be alone.
It’s… still too heavy.
And she hopes Sara realizes that, too.
They go to a bar two blocks away. Lexa tucks herself into a leather jacket Sara excavated from the closet. One that’s a little short on her long arms but fits fine nonetheless.
It feels like armor.
A bit like coming home.
The bar is dark and buzzy. There are televisions on in the corners showing a baseball game, and it takes Lexa a second to realize she knows exactly what she’s seeing like she’s grown up this way.
Even though she’s felt more at ease in this skin, it is still an unusual feeling.
She downs the first shot quickly. The burn of the liquor a welcome distraction in her throat. It reminds her of the sawajus that was always present on her table in the tower, but it’s thicker and sharper.
She orders another and Sara pats her on the back. “My kind of girl,” she says around a smile.
And Lexa knows it’s time.
“It’s stronger than what I am used to. There are more varieties.” She eyes the stock behind the bar and reads labels that are both new and familiar.
“Something for everyone.”
“I am used to something made from fermented fruit.”
“Wine,” Sara hums.
“It tasted of summer.” She sips at the beer before her and nods her thanks at the bartender when he sets down the shots.
“I’m glad they still had wine after the nuclear fallout.” Sara jokes, but there’s something serious that lives in her voice.
“We had many things. Books, wine, dancing. Our people rebounded. The strong and sturdy thrived, carried on our lines and repopulated. It was not easy and there were many wars and battles, but we survived.”
“How long did it take?”
“For you to get to that point?”
Lexa shrugs, “I lived in a world that existed one hundred years after the bombs. It was still war and battle, but things were turning. Or, I hoped they were turning. And then I was killed for it.”
Lexa takes another sip, enjoys how the beer warms her cheeks.
“I sometimes wonder if society will ever become like this again. If we will grow and stop hating each other to work together. To form what we lost. To fix it. But, humanity seems doomed in many respects to make the same mistakes over and over again.”
“Our curse,” Sara smirks. She lifts her beer in the air and waits for Lexa to do the same, clinking their glasses together once she does.
Lexa doesn’t reveal more and Sara doesn’t prod her too. They exist in a comfortable camaraderie.
Sara makes polite conversation with the bartender, her voice dripping into something flirty more often than not, and Lexa concentrates on the people around her.
She studies them, how they present themselves to the world.
How so many of them hide away.
When the door opens again and a feminine laugh fills the room, she turns her head and almost falls off the stool. There’s a blonde walking in with a wide smile and her head tilted back, and for a second, for a minute sliver of time, it’s her.
But, with a blink, Lexa finds only another stranger.
And she still cannot breathe, cannot think.
Sara’s strong hand lands on her shoulder, pulling her back more firmly on the stool.
And her heart tries valiantly to pick itself up from her boots.
But it’s too much.
And she disappears into the back, to the bathroom, to splash cold water on her face.
She gets a good look at herself in the mirror and sees Heda.
Heda and nothing else.
A tall brunette eyes her when she leaves the small bathroom. The familiar look of assessment, of heat.
She brushes it off and returns to the bar, to Sara’s quizzical brow.
“I thought…” her voice catches and she stops.
“I think I’m gonna go back to the apartment.” She tucks her hands into her pockets and looks beyond Sara to the beer taps.
“I don’t think that’s a great idea. Why don’t you finish your beer and let that settle?”
Sara cuts her off, “Lexa, I need you to trust me on this.” Her voice is firm and her eyes are steel and Lexa sits back on the stool too exhausted for a fight.
She takes a long sip of her beer and feels Sara lean closer to her. The brunette from the bathroom smirks when she sees Lexa, and Sara scoffs under her breath when she sits kitty corner to them at the bar.
“Seems like you’ve got an admirer.”
Lexa grumbles, her heart still weak and sore from moments before.
“You know, you could be here with me and this girl does not even care.”
“It’s not as if I’m encouraging this,” Lexa mutters.
“Fuck it,” Sara downs her drink and places some money on the bar before getting up. “I’m gonna scope that out, don’t wait up.” She smirks and saunters over to the brunette, who doesn’t appear to mind shifting her gaze from Lexa to the confident girl who approaches.
And though Lexa’s heart still feels like a dead weight inside of her, barely thumping to move her blood, she is impressed with the way Sara so easily flips a switch and starts flirting.
It only serves to deepen the ache within her.
It happens again two weeks after the bar.
On her daily run, Lexa sees a flash of wavy blonde hair out of the corner of her eye and stops dead in her tracks. The woman looks nothing like her and Lexa stares up at the sky willing the hot tears that well in her eyes to stay there.
She cannot cry. She will not.
Sara studies her silently and takes Lexa’s long, resigned sigh as an answer to keep running. Lexa watches her sprint away, weaving through the crowds on the pavement. It reminds her of her first day in this awakening.
Of everything that still stands before her.
Three times her heart stopped beating and blood rushed through her ears while her hands started shaking.
Three times she was met with the eyes of a stranger.
It has not gotten easier.
She takes her frustration out on Sara in the ring. She is relentless and unflinching.
She is Heda.
And Sara notices.
Sees the mask that comes down over her eyes and does not leave. Her posture is straighter than ever before and her muscles and sinews turn into something hard and unforgiving. It is the first time Heda has truly taken control during their sessions and it shows.
She is at war with the very core of herself and Sara is the only one who knows.
“Lexa, Lexa… stop! Enough.” Sara holds up her hands in submission but Lexa’s blood still boils under her skin.
She screams her frustration out into the room and walks away. Leaving the ring behind her, leaving everything behind her and exiting the studio.
Rain has come hard and heavy from the pregnant clouds that threatened above during their morning run. Lexa hardly feels it. Everything inside of her still blistering hot and overwhelming. People flutter about on the sidewalk, knocking umbrellas into each other and trying to flag down cabs to take them to their destinations but Lexa walks straight through them.
Methodically picking her path and sticking to it. And they all move around her, glancing at the hard look on her face and stepping aside.
It feels so much like it used to when she would walk the streets and markets of Polis.
And she relishes in it.
Missing so much of who she used to be.
She is soaked to the bone when she arrives back at the apartment, resigned to sitting on the stoop until someone comes home to unlock the door.
She closes her eyes and remembers the meditation that Nyko taught her. The breathing exercises that would help her focus, help her regain composure during long campaigns. The exercises that would help her tune in to the voices inside her head. But now, she focuses on the sound of the rain, drowning out the city around her.
And it’s only then that the tears come.
Hot and free down her face.
Mixing with the rain that runs and drips off her chin.
They gather strength and pour out of her. Had been building to this moment when the dam would break. She’s only allowed herself the luxury of tears like this twice before.
It feels heavier now.
Everything she wanted and everything she thought she had safely in her hands only to lose it flashes through her mind as the sobs quietly rack her body.
She’s not sure how much time passes as she finally gives her body the permission it needs to grieve, but when she opens her eyes Sara is next to her.
Silent and steady.
And looking as waterlogged as Lexa feels.
“There’s something you should know.”
Lexa wipes at her face, trying to stop the tears. It’s a fool’s errand, with the rain still pouring in sheets around them.
“I should have told you this before and I regret that I didn’t. I didn’t think about how… I didn’t realize how you’d react. I think it’s different for me because it’s my sister and not my lover that I’m looking for.”
Lexa stares straight ahead at the ground, watching the rain drop into the puddles that are already overflowing.
“You’ll feel it when she dies in that life.” Sara’s voice is a quiet kind of terrible.
Lexa gasps and a vice clenches around her heart.
“You’ll feel it and you’ll know. That’s the sign that you get when it’s time to start looking for her.”
When she finally looks up at Sara she finds a face crumpled and pained.
“I didn’t want to tell you until I knew you could handle it, but I don’t think anyone can handle hearing that. And then I saw how you reacted every time you saw someone you thought looked like her and I couldn’t deal with it, Lexa.”
Lexa finds herself at a loss, unsure of what to say and unwilling to comfort her friend.
Too broken inside to do anything but sit and stare.
She spends the night wondering how it will happen.
If it will feel as visceral and real as her own death.
If it will simply feel like a memory, harsh and true.
She could ask Sara but she doesn’t want to.
They do not speak again for the remainder of the night. She went upstairs and into the bathroom and sat in the steaming shower for ages until her skin was angry and her fingers pruned.
A look at the scabs that formed on her knuckles tells her that her blood is still black in this life.
It is a strange comfort.
When she dreams, she dreams of her.
Not the one she had in her bed, but the angry one who glared at her and spit on her face. The one that was a raw nerve, feral and unbridled.
And she worries that she will become that again. That the world Lexa left behind will turn her hard and unkind. That without love, without support, she will wither away into a shell of herself.
And it aches inside when Lexa wakes up.
When she remembers how cruelly the skaikru treated her. The burdens they placed on top of her and did not help her shoulder. How they seemingly made her destruction their sole mission, and how she would rise to the challenge every time.
Resilient and beautiful.
Stronger than all of them combined.
The way she yearned to fix everything for everyone, even if it killed her in the process.
How it probably will.
Her heart and her obligation will be the death of her.
Sara is lacing up her sneakers when Lexa leaves the bedroom. An unspoken agreement that she would be able to have the bed until the transition period wore off. Until Sara decided it was time to leave.
Sara has made it a habit to seek out a new bed with a new body every few nights.
Lexa feels an emptiness inside when she does. Realizing that her life may never hold that again, that she will have to go back to her old ways. Locking herself up tight and offering only duty to the world.
Sara doesn’t look up or make a sound, merely stands and stretches and waits for Lexa to slide her shoes on and get ready. When she picks up the keys off the table, they make the same familiar sound and Lexa opens the door and jogs down the stairs
They fall into step as easily as ever before, and the methodical pounding of her feet on hard ground eases the pain in her heart.
With every step, she thinks of her.
“What’s your sister’s name?”
Lexa finally cracks. Needing to know more. Needing to get a clearer picture of what she’s been handed.
She hums, the name reminding her of summer and the heat of Polis.
“She tried to be like me after I died. She was always the better one. Smarter. Loyal. And she tried to be like me and that’s where it went wrong.”
Sara doesn’t say more and Lexa doesn’t ask.
It’s a strange, silent habit they’ve formed.
The bar around them grows rowdier with the baseball game on television and Lexa looks up feigning interest.
“I was shot. I was shot by the man who practically raised me. We never used guns, didn’t touch them. They were the weapon of our greatest enemy. He got one. He couldn’t handle it. Tried to kill her… tried to make it look like a betrayal. It was.” Her voice cracks at the end, as she remembers looking up and seeing his wide and crazed eyes.
Watching her react. How it took a second for her to see it, to realize, before she lunged forward with fear written all over her face.
How everything had seemed so wonderfully perfect before that.
“I didn’t even have time to feel it. To feel any of it before it was too late.”
She swallows the rest of her words, her jaw clenched tight to keep her tongue in its cage. Too raw, too hurt.
Her hand itches to clutch at her stomach. At the place the bullet went in and never came out.
There isn’t even a scar.
Not in this life.
As if the mistakes of the past have been truly wiped away.
She still has some of the others.
Still has the tattoos inked into her skin.
But there is no evidence of the tiny piece of metal tearing through flesh to take her life with it.
“Do you have the scars?”
“From the arrows? No.”
“Arrows?” Lexa furrows.
“Yep, arrows. I’ll never forget the thwump they made when they buried themselves into my torso.”
Lexa snorts, unable to not find some humor in the situation. “Arrows are from my world and guns are from yours.”
Sara smirks, “Are you making a joke?”
“Pointing out the odd coincidence we find ourselves in.”
“Fuck, if you can find some humor in this shit show, by all means. It will help you deal with everything.”
“The League would have loved you,” Sara grunts as she gets up from the ground after Lexa bested her for the third time in a row. “You’re fucking relentless.”
She wipes at her sweaty neck and Lexa swigs from her water bottle and glares at her companion.
“No, they wouldn’t have.”
“I never killed for sport,” she spits. The weight of the lives she took would have buried her into the ground if she let it. Her back too small for kill scars.
“It wasn’t like that.”
“You loved it. I loathed it.”
“I was good at it.”
“So was I.” It’s a quiet truth that she expels.
“But it wasn’t a choice?”
“No. War and battle were the only constants of our lives.”
She dodges Sara’s next swing. Moving with ease around the ring. “Fighting for someone or a cause is always a choice.”
Lexa shakes her head, the truth on the tip of her tongue and begging to be set free. “I was the one they fought for.”
She sees the moment Sara understands. Watches the truth dawn in her eyes. “Oh,” she whispers, right as Lexa takes her down.
“Ai laik Heda,” she growls, her truth pulsing and alive inside of her.
It happens as they walk to dinner, a nice restaurant around the corner with plenty of outdoor seating and a killer burger that Lexa has fallen in love with.
Sara next to her, in the middle of a story about the time she seduced the Queen of France when she was supposed to instead be ensuring the King bedded her to produce the heir. She has a smirk on her face and her hands move in front of her excitedly. Lexa is impressed but refuses to let her know it.
There’s no warning. No tingle, no inkling at all.
Flashes of the world she left move quickly through her mind. She is doubled over in pain before she realizes it, grabbing on to Sara’s shoulder as people push by. She feels Sara drag her to some steps and set her down, but she can’t pay attention to anything but the blinding pain in her head.
She hears voices calling after her… yelling and begging.
Sees the sky above, cold and angry.
Feels cold, hard ground beneath her.
Everything begins fading.
The pain gets worse with each heartbeat, gasping for breath.
And then there’s nothing.
Nothing but a shock to her system and a jolt in her heart when she tries to take a deep breath.
She wakes up on the couch in Sara’s living room. Dusk has taken over and the small lamp in the corner is lit.
Sara moves in the kitchen quietly and Lexa blinks herself awake.
The last thing she remembered was searing pain.
With a gasp, she sits up and grabs her head when the room begins spinning.
“Easy, easy.” Sara is there, guiding her to lie back down, but Lexa pushes her hand off and shakes her head.
“I’m fine,” Her voice is strangled in her throat.
“You’re not. Drink this.” Sara hands her a glass of water and she gulps it down.
“I saw it… you didn’t tell me I would see it.”
Sara’s eyes are wide and curious. “You saw it?”
Lexa nods and takes another sip. “Like we had changed places and I was the one that was dying.”
The word in relation to her stabs at Lexa’s chest.
“I didn’t know that was possible…”
“But you felt it, with Laurel?”
“Yes. The worst pain of my life.”
“Why did I see it? Why did I experience that with her?” Her eyes start to water again with the truth of it all, and she hates that in this new life she is weepy.
“I’m not… sure.” Sara studies the ground, her eyes moving back and forth. “Do you feel anything now?”
At her words, Lexa focuses inward. Feeling a warm and steady pulse, a beacon. “Yes.”
“What do you feel?”
Sara licks her lips and looks up with a sad smile, “So, she’s finally here then.”
They work up a plan though Sara insists that Lexa needs sleep. And she does, dipping in and out of it during long pauses of thinking. Her body ragged from the stress of dying, but not entirely, yet again.
It is only because of extreme exhaustion that Lexa passes out.
Loses consciousness more like, but sleep comes and it comes heavily.
And she dreams of her.
Sees her awake and moving in the same world that Lexa now finds herself in.
And when she wakes up, she is refreshed and full of hope.
A flame in her chest growing with each moment.
She needs only to find her, to hold her, to feel complete. To feel whole.
“Lexa, we can’t just move across the country on a whim! What happened to the plan we worked up last night?”
“She happened. I can feel her pulling me. I can’t explain it.”
“What do you mean you can feel her pulling you?” Sara places her hands on her hips and studies the prowling creature before her.
“Exactly what it sounds like.” Lexa is exasperated and pacing in the small living area.
“Lexa, we should stay here. What if she comes to you?”
“Has your sister come to you?”
Sara shakes her head, a cold look in her eyes.
“So, we have to go. How do we go?”
Sara looks at the ground and takes a deep breath, “I don’t know if you’re ready for this yet.”
“What is ready? She’s here now! I must go to her, I have to find her,” Lexa roars. Flashes of another life and the threat of the bounty on Wanheda barrel up from where she’d buried them.
“I’m just… listen, I can’t explain the science behind this or anything like that and you basically came the fuck here from the middle of the woods with spears and shit, so…” Sara pulls a small silver circle out of her pocket and holds it in the middle of her palm.
“What is that?” Lexa stares at it, thinking of chips and the City of Light and the flame that was placed into her head.
“It’s a device. I push this button, a portal opens, we go in and we’re somewhere else.”
She thinks of how she ended up in the City of Light. “Just our minds?”
“No, our bodies physically move through space”
She thinks it over, all of it beyond her but the pull and warmth she feels to get to her is strong and true. She nods, “I don’t care how it works, just get me there.”
“Hold my arm and think of the place that you see, or feel… or whatever.” Sara’s eyes cloud over with darkness for a moment, before she forces a half smile to her face.
They land in the middle of an alleyway with a thump, and Lexa falls to her knees, expelling the contents of her stomach onto the ground.
“Alright, not bad for your first time, kid.” Sara pats her on the back and lifts her up, steadying her wobbly gait. “Lead the way.”
They walk out onto brightly lit streets. It’s another city, like the one they left, but different. It’s hotter here, the sun shines from above like a force to be reckoned with, and Lexa can smell the ocean in the breeze.
They walk and Lexa closes her eyes and thinks of the place she felt in her heart.
But something fades quickly.
“She’s not here.”
“She’s not here, I don’t feel her.” Lexa clutches at her stomach, feeling it roil beneath her again. Afraid she’ll throw up whatever could possibly be left inside.
“We just got here, that’s impossible.” Sara snaps, threads her hands through her hair and tugs.
“We should look around, maybe she walked through the city or got a cab or something.”
“Where are we?”
“Looks like San Diego.”
Lexa takes a deep breath and focuses inward. She doesn’t feel that same assuredness anymore.
Her jaw clenches and her hands flex.
“We missed her. She’s not here,” she growls. Anxiety gripping her bones.
Sara lets out a huge sigh and clicks the portal open again. They’re back in the middle of the living room of the small apartment in seconds. Lexa on her knees gasping for breath. The ache in her belly roaring back to life.
And when she pulls her hand away she swears she sees blood.
Three more times over the next week and a half Lexa feels the pull.
Three more times they land and it’s gone.
And when they’re back in their apartment she takes her frustrations out on a rickety table that sits in the corner unused and dusty. Sara watches with wide eyes and a worried brow.
A string of expletives leave Lexa’s lips in trigedasleng and she slams the door to stalk outside.
Sara finds her tucked into the corner booth of their regular bar. A shot of whiskey in her clenched hand. She slides into the booth and nods at the bartender, quietly observing.
“I’ve been trying to figure out why you can feel her. It’s been… hard for me to place, but I think I should tell you about how I woke up.”
Lexa looks up for a second to show she’s listening before her eyes return to stare at the amber liquid she can’t stand to bring to her lips yet.
“You’re already ahead of the game, Lexa.” Her tone is gentle, placating.
“No, really. You… you came back with your soul already intact.”
At that Lexa looks up. A silent question on her face.
Sara just nods, “Yeah. When I woke up… I was a wild, dark thing. My soul was gone and I was a void. The pit,” she pauses, grabs Lexa’s drink and downs it. “The pit is a dangerous thing. It brought me back but I wasn’t me.”
“Was it only because of the pit?” Lexa finally speaks.
“I think so, seeing as how you seem to be the same. Seem to feel the other half of your soul out there, waiting for you.”
Her words make Lexa swallow hard. She never thought of it that way, but the all-encompassing bigness in her chest every time she laid eyes on that stubborn blonde gives it away.
“You’re still you. You’re still that same Lexa, even if you have this new reality in your bones. And now that she’s here she’s calling out for you like a beacon.”
“I just want to find her,” Lexa whispers.
“Why haven’t you tried looking for your sister since I’ve been with you?” Lexa breaks the silence of Sunday meditation. The only thing that can attempt to settle the nerves that itch under her skin when she thinks about what that ember in her heart now means.
“I told you, you needed my help.”
“She’s your sister.” Lexa opens her eyes, relaxed and refreshed.
Sara sighs next to her and Lexa can feel her tense up. “This was more important.”
“You were like a lost puppy. And you’ve been on a mission. I don’t know if you know this about yourself, Lexa, but you’re pretty driven to get what you want.”
“You haven’t known me that long, you have no basis for that.” Lexa rolls her eyes and stands up from her spot on the floor. The zen she had is already beginning to flee.
“Long enough.” She shrugs and stretches on the floor.
“What’s the real reason?”
Sara looks up and her eyes darken again. The truth is heavier than she wants to admit, Lexa has felt it in the air since the day she felt that beacon in her soul.
Sara scowls again, tries to change the subject. “Do you want to go to the park today?”
“I want you to explain to me what is going on,” her Heda voice comes out and she stands resolute. Back straight, iron will.
“It’s so fucking weird how you do that. Just flip a switch and go into commander mode or whatever.” It’s an offhand comment, but Lexa reacts all the same.
Sara smirks and crosses her arms.
Lexa ignores the bait, “You are scared.”
That look again.
“I don’t feel her. I know she’s here, I felt her die, but I don’t feel her pull me. I’ve been lost since before you got here and I’ve been trying to stay in one place, to see if she will know how to find me.” Her voice breaks and her eyes water, but she is like Lexa, and she will not cry.
At least, how Lexa used to be.
“And you with the whole I know she’s here, I feel her pull, is just so fucking annoying, Lexa.” She huffs and throws her hands in the air, turning around to mutter to herself.
“You should have told me sooner,” Lexa admonishes. So much of this new life hidden from her until Sara deems her ready to hear the truth.
“I didn’t want to ruin this for you.”
“Ruin what? There’s no precedent for this.”
“I might never find Laurel. I know that. I didn’t want you to worry or think that you’d never find your love again.” Sara scowls again, “You know, you’ve never actually said this girl’s name.”
Lexa smirks, the letters alive and dancing on her tongue. “I know.”
That warm light lives inside of her every day, but there’s no pull. No call. Nothing but a shine inside her soul.
It makes her itchy and antsy.
That she knows she’s not alone in this new world.
But that she hasn’t known where to go.
It’s been almost a month since their last failed attempt to meet up and Sara has started eyeing Lexa warily. Like one false move will set her off.
It reminds her so much of how some of her generals used to react around her. How the newest natblidas would walk on eggshells around her. A mixture of fear and awe all at once.
And it should soothe her just a little, the familiarity of the action.
But it doesn’t.
The only thing that will soothe her is being held in certain arms again.
There’s a moment, one heartbreaking moment, when Lexa watches Sara’s face light up and then fall within seconds.
How she moves just a little bit quicker after a taller, lankier figure ahead of them. How she reaches out only to pull her hand away at the last second.
How when Lexa finally catches up to her she understands the absolute devastation that’s etched on Sara’s features.
They’re close to the apartment and Sara takes off at a run, up the stairs, and into the building before Lexa turns the corner to the block. When she arrives at the small apartment on the corner of the third floor she hears it.
Destruction and chaos.
The door is ajar, and the sight that meets her eyes when she steps inside is heartbreaking in its own way.
The rickety table Lexa beat up weeks ago was nothing compared to the overturned chair, broken dishes in the kitchen, and bloodied knuckle prints around a hole in the wall.
And Sara, curled into a ball on the floor of the kitchen, cradling her hand with tears in her eyes.
Lexa stands and doesn’t speak. Absorbing the atmosphere and offering that same silent camaraderie Sara has given her so many times before.
She doesn’t break the silence until Sara sniffs loudly and finally meets her eyes.
“We should get you to a healer,” she keeps her voice soft, to not frighten the skittish, broken girl Sara has become in mere moments.
“It’s called a hospital.” Sara grunts and the word pokes at Lexa’s brain.
“Well, your hand needs looking after and I cannot fix it myself.” She shrugs and grabs a towel off the counter, throwing it at Sara.
“How do you handle this so gracefully? I felt like my heart got ripped out of my chest and swallowed whole and you’ve had this happen countless fucking times since I met you.” Sara’s voice cracks and Lexa can hear the tears that she tries to hide.
“It is difficult, but not as difficult as losing her was.”
“You died first.” She stands and wraps her hand gingerly.
“I did, but I still lost her. I made a decision with my head and broke both of our hearts in the process. I knew that it would hurt, but I didn’t realize how much. And then it was too late…” She looks down and forces the next words from her mouth. “It took her months to forgive me.”
“Sometimes I wonder if you even have feelings, kid.” Sara tries to make a joke and Lexa allows it. Sara’s shield back up after her outburst.
And Lexa gives her that.
The space to feel what she needs however she needs to.
“Sometimes I wonder that myself,” she smirks and nudges her head toward the door. “Let’s go get you patched up.”
They wait in the ER for an eternity. Lexa watches the people come and go, how their shoulders fall with relief when they’re finally called through the double doors, how others who are still waiting pace the floor or sit with anxiety riddled in their bones.
It’s unlike anything she’s ever seen.
Even before she was Heda and given a private healer. Those times when she still had to frequent the local huts for her few ailments.
Sara is quiet and scowling next to her. Still broody and sore from her close call. Lexa doesn’t attempt to shake her out of it. When Sara is called, she stands up swiftly and nudges Lexa back into her seat, “I’m fine. Stay and people watch.”
“Are you sure?”
Sara leaves and Lexa goes back to watching those around her, entranced and confused all at once.
It’s over an hour and a half before the other girl returns with her hand bandaged up and a deeper frown on her face.
“I need a drink, and you’re on your own for a few weeks. I’m out of commission, officially, while this heals.”
They find a pub halfway between the apartment and the hospital and curl up in a booth in the back. Lexa orders and muses over how at ease she suddenly finds herself in this skin.
Sara talks about scoring the number from the hot nurse who examined her. Ruminates on past injuries that were worse than this and required no rest, no healing time. Whines slightly when she can’t grab her nachos the way she wants to with her other hand.
And Lexa appreciates it all, appreciates her, so much more than she realized.
Sara watches the tall, burly bartender move behind the dark wood and grumbles, holding up her damaged hand. “I guess it’s back to boys for a little while, too.”
And Lexa snorts into her beer.
They sit there for a long while, drinking and laughing.
A warmth grows and pulses inside of Lexa slowly as the day wears into evening. Bit by bit, that steady thread of light she has felt ever since…
It glows inside of her, but she doesn’t know what it means. Building and building into something she is sure shines out of her. The sun swallowed whole, emitting its light through her skin, her eyes.
It’s so overwhelming that she stands and heads outside. Needing a moment.
Needing some air.
Her lungs compressing and gasping for oxygen.
Muscles coiling, stomach tightening, head dizzy and spinning. The urge to scream just to release some of the tension inside her body washes over her like a wave.
Instead, she rushes out of the bar before she implodes into a black hole.
Ringing in her ears and the black spots in her eyes fading in and out.
On the street suddenly and bumping into something.
Something that lets out a tiny, “Ooof.”
And when she looks up she is certain she’s dreaming.
Or has died again.
Because standing in front of her breathless and alive is the one she’s been searching for.
And her voice sounds the same, and her eyes are the same shade of blue Lexa has dreamt about since she’s known her. And her face holds all the hope and want and excitement that Lexa felt burrowing into her skin.
“Clarke,” She chokes out, reaches for her.
Feels soft skin under her fingertips.
Seeing and not believing.
It is everything.
“Lexa…” Tears are slowly forming in Clarke’s eyes and she grabs on to shoulders, pulling Lexa into her arms, tight and unforgiving.
“Clarke.” The name sounds so good on her lips, finally free again after all this time. “Clarke,” she whispers again. “How did you find me?”
Clarke squeezes her tighter, weaves her hand in Lexa’s hair and breathes her in. The vice that enclosed around her own heart when she knew that she would feel Clarke’s death. When she knew that she would know when to find her, finally releases.
Clarke sobs into her shoulder and Lexa holds her steady. Her own tears working their way silently down cheeks.
“I just knew. I felt you. You were like a beacon. A light in the dark. I just followed you.”
“I’ve been waiting for you,” she confesses. Her lips moving with her words against warm skin at the base of Clarke’s neck. Memories of a stolen afternoon at the forefront of her thoughts.
Clarke grabs her face in both hands and moves, takes a step back to look at Lexa’s face. Lexa squeezes Clarke’s waist, her heart thundering in her chest when she sees realization dawn in Clarke’s eyes.
“This is real?”
She nods slowly, hand reaching up to brush at the faint scar that still highlights Clarke’s forehead. The one that was barely scabbed over when she last saw her.
“We’re not in the City of Light again are we?”
“No, Clarke. This is real.”
Clarke gasps and starts crying again, grabbing on to Lexa fiercely. With everything she’s got.
She is solid and alive in Lexa’s arms, her breaths ragged as they push themselves together, as close as possible. Clarke’s erratic heartbeat beats against her own through layers of clothes and sinews and skin. It calms her own.
“I thought I’d lost you forever,” Clarke whispers through tears. Her hands gripping even tighter as she speaks. The words heavy between them.
“I would find you in a hundred lifetimes, Clarke.” It sounds like a vow when she says it.
And it is.
And finally Clarke is looking at her like she’s never seen anything greater. And her heart swells in her chest just before their lips touch.
It’s the realest kiss she’s ever experienced.
Full of all the words they can’t say.
Steady and wild and thrumming with their history and their future.
When Lexa tastes Clarke’s lips in this life she is finally home.
“I just want to look at you. Can I just look at you?” Clarke’s voice is soft but her fingertips are softer as they trace the lines of Lexa’s jaw.
She smiles just the hint of a smile at Clarke’s request. Lying down on her side and facing Clarke who mirrors her.
Fully clothed yet perfectly sated, they sit and stare and remember. Find each other anew and still the same.
Lexa smiles when she remembers the look on Sara’s face when they walked into the bar, Clarke’s hand in hers, shy smile on her face. Sara knew the instant she laid eyes on them and her yelps of happiness made them both laugh.
They sat side by side and talked to Sara, hands remaining intertwined under the table.
And Sara had laughed when Lexa finally introduced Clarke.
“So she does have a name?”
Clarke fell into step with Sara easily. Fell into this life, with Lexa, at the blink of an eye.
Until they were alone back at the apartment and taking stock of each other.
Clarke had smiled that big smile that Lexa saw during one glorious afternoon in bed. It breathed new life into Lexa’s fresh lungs.
“How long have you been waiting for me?”
“Forever,” she smiles.
Clarke’s cheeks tinge pink at the revelation and she inches closer to Lexa. Lexa who holds still, content to have Clarke in her arms, in her sight, in whatever way.
She drops a quick kiss on Lexa’s cheek and her body is warm as she wiggles closer again. A hand sneaks up under her shirt lifting it higher and higher. Smoothes over the skin of her stomach.
Looking for a scar that isn’t there.
Clarke’s hand is a reassuring weight against the invisible wound that flares up with an angry ache anytime Lexa deigns to forget about it.
As if she could ever truly forget about it.
“Your skin…” Clarke’s breath hitches and Lexa sees the remembrance in her eyes. How they cloud with that same heartbreak they held that day.
“It is the only scar that is not littered on my body.”
She shrugs her shoulder and leans their foreheads together. “I do not know, Clarke.”
A tear, and then another, trickle down from Clarke’s eyes. She looks down bashful until Lexa tilts her chin back up and draws her attention.
“We have much to talk about, Clarke.”
“We do,” she nods and swallows. Biting her lip when Lexa thumbs away the wetness on her cheeks.
“But not yet,” she leans in and places a kiss on perfect lips. The words inside begging to be released.
“Not yet.” Clarke smiles into the kiss and pulls Lexa on top of her.
“I love you, Clarke.” She smiles, “I love you.” She studies Clarke’s face, the brilliant happiness that shines back. “I almost told you that day, but it would have made everything harder-”
Clarke pulls her in for a deeper kiss and Lexa sinks down on top of her, that fantastic thrum back in her veins.
Clarke’s voice is ragged when she speaks. “I tried to tell you. When I saw you in the City of Light I blurted it out… I should have said it back then, I should have… I thought we would have more time. But you weren’t really there, in the City. And I said it, but it wasn’t you.”
“I am here now, Clarke.” She brushes a blonde curl off Clarke’s face. Relishes saying this name again, like a prayer, as often as she can.
“You are. I can’t believe you’re here.” She runs her hand along Lexa’s jaw. “And I love you so much I think it might kill me.”
“Death is not the end, Clarke.”
And they give in to the wave that has tugged at them since they found each other on a crowded sidewalk in the middle of a new old world. Clothes peeled off and forgotten. Kisses turned hungry and sloppy, with heat and passion and comfort. Scars and tattoos studied under patient hands, patient lips.
It is not rushed.
It is not filled with unsaid words coiled inside.
It is open and free, languid.
It is love.
And it is theirs.
Clarke’s head is solid against her chest, her fingertips brushing over that spot on her stomach. She kissed it softly when they tangled up in each other, before moving and caressing every inch of Lexa’s skin.
The sun has begun its ascent in the sky and the city begins buzzing outside the window, but all Lexa can feel is this.
All she wants is this.
They haven’t slept yet. The fear that this isn’t real unspoken between them.
“Lexa?” Clarke’s voice is heavy with sleep and Lexa’s eyelids protest against the dawn.
“Hmm,” she hums, lulled into a blissful state by the soft fingers on her skin and the girl breathing against her.
“Where are we?”
Lexa smiles and finally lets her eyes slip closed. “Someday.”