It had been a year since Lexa had seen Clarke. A whole year. It’d been two since they’d broken up. With Lexa moving across the country for school and Clarke staying back in Arkadia…
They had tried to make it work. For their first year at university, they’d had scheduled video chatting dates and surprise trips, long weekends and endless texting marathons. Their second year though, they had a very honest discussion.
It was never that they didn’t love each other. They did. They just didn’t think they could handle the increasing pressures of school and keep their relationship intact. So they parted ways amicably, before anything could go downhill. They agreed to give each other time, not speaking again until Lexa came home for the holidays. She was hurrying to Clarke’s house, excited to see her and talk to her again, when she overheard Finn Collins bragging about his conquest of Clarke Griffin.
Lexa’s confrontation of Clarke was their biggest argument ever. She yelled and cried and accused. Clarke dished it all right back. Words were thrown around Clarke’s bedroom like grenades, neither of them caring about the damage they were causing. It wasn’t until Lexa tossed Finn’s words into the mix that Clarke understood. He’d been spreading rumors ever since he found out about their breakup. He was trying to scare off other guys. The only problem with his plan was Clarke’s complete lack of interest in him.
A few painfully honest conversations later, the girls parted ways after the holidays. They’d chat off and on, call each other drunk, and occasionally leave tear-filled messages.
Somehow, through all of that, they slowly made their way back into the realm of friendship. Lexa could never be sure how it happened. She and Clarke had been best friends from kindergarten until the summer after their sophomore year. That was when Lexa finally put aside the hurt over Costia, her first girlfriend, and realized she had feelings for Clarke. One hesitant confession and a 3-hour make-out session later, Lexa was calling Clarke her girlfriend.
So when Lexa ran into Costia over the holidays a year after she and Clarke had ended, Clarke was her first call. She gushed. She reminisced. She babbled.
And then Clarke said, “I don’t think I can do this.”
“Do what?” Lexa asked.
“I can’t listen to you talk about her, not like that,” Clarke sniffled. The rustling on the other end of the line told Lexa she was messing with her hair. Another sniffle, then, “I know it isn’t fair for me to say that. I’m sorry… Just… I think I need more time before I can do this. Give me that, Lex?”
She was already shaking her head,
“Clarke, no. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“I can’t listen to you say all those things about her. She’s does sound great but… Now I feel like maybe I was a band-aid and Costia is the cure,” Clarke tried to explain all the emotions she knew she wasn’t allowed to feel. “Just be happy. Okay, Lex? Be happy and live your life.”
And then she was gone. No matter how many times Lexa had called or texted, Clarke never responded. Not for months. Then, one day, she answered the phone. She promised she was okay, that she just wanted Lexa to live her life and be happy. She made Lexa promise too before she ended the call.
It was holiday time when Clarke finally reached out again. She wanted to talk, to clear the air. She knew Lexa was in town and that she’d brought Costia with her.
They agreed to meet in their favorite café.
To Lexa’s surprise, Clarke beat her there. Clarke was never early. Ever. To anything.
“Clarke,” Lexa smiled shyly as she approached their usual table in the back.
“Lex!” She returned the smile and stood.
The hug was quick and somehow less awkward than Lexa was anticipating. Clarke sank back into her seat and waited for Lexa to join her.
“How have you been?” Clarke asked, toying with the mug in front of her.
“I’ve been good,” Lexa replied. At Clarke’s arched brow, she shrugged, “I have been. School is good, the family is good, my dorm is good. Everything is good.”
Clarke waited when she paused. When she didn’t continued, Clarke prodded,
“I don’t know if we should talk about her,” Lexa whispered, her eyes falling to her own mug of steaming coffee.
“No, I really want to know,” Clarke replied quickly. “I know us not talking is my fault. I know you probably think I’m jealous of you and Costia.”
That caught Lexa’s attention, “You’re saying you’re not?”
“Maybe at first I was, but I think that’s normal. I know we both thought you and I would get back together someday and have our happily-ever-after and then Costia popped up and you were so… smitten,” Clarke shrugged and took a sip of her coffee. “I’m happy if you’re happy, Lex.”
The nickname had her smiling, “No one calls me that but you.”
“Good,” Clarke smiled. She took another sip and winked, “keep it that way.”
And as easy as that, somehow, they were nearly back to being Clarke and Lexa, lifelong best friends. They truly took their time and caught up on all they’d missed. They teased and they joked.
When the waitress refused to bring them more coffee, assuring them 3 cups were enough for now, and instead brought them water, Lexa sobered a bit.
“So…” She said slowly. “Is this why you called me? Just to catch up?”
Clarke sighed. Lexa knew that sigh. It meant Clarke wasn’t sure how to say what she wanted to say.
“Just tell me so I can go back to teasing you about your pink hair,” Lexa leaned forward and took Clarke’s hand.
“Okay. Yeah. Just tell you,” Clarke nodded. She took a deep breath and then sighed, “You know I love you right?”
Lexa stiffened. She pulled her hand away like Clarke had burned her.
“No! Not…” Clarke was shaking her head and holding her hands up in front of her. “I don’t mean it like that. I’m not in love with you. I just love you. Even if we don’t talk for another year, I’ll love you. You’re my best friend. You’re irreplaceable.”
“Clarke,” Lexa pinched the bridge of her nose and fought off the burn of tears she felt building. “You can’t do this.”
Lexa started to stand. Clarke managed to grab her hands and keep her seated. She tried to shake Clarke off, but she couldn’t loosen her grip. “This isn’t fair. I know we ended things when we both still had feelings but we both said we could move on. I’m so happy with Costia. I love her.”
“I know, Lex! I know! And I’m so happy for you!” Clarke rushed to reassure her. She shook her head and spoke quickly, “I don’t mean that I’m in love with you. I was. I used to be. When you were mine, I loved you more than I’ve ever loved anybody. I’m not now. I think, in another universe somewhere, you and I are together and happy. You’re… I don’t know, a lawyer or a cop and I was dumb enough to follow Mom’s advice and go to med school. We’re happy and in love there. Maybe we’ve got a dog with a goofy name and a couple of kids running around with your hair and my eyes, or my hair and your eyes. But here? We’re best friends and, as much as I used to think it’d kill me to say this, that is what we’re meant to be here.”
“Clarke,” Lexa was beginning to tear up. She could almost see that other place, that alternate universe, and she could see how happy she and Clarke were.
“What I’m saying is, I love you as my best friend. I’m so so happy you’ve found a great love with Costia. I always liked her even when I was insanely jealous of her. She’s what this you needs, Lex. She’s smart and kind and sassy enough to keep you on your toes.” Clarke’s thumb rubbed small circles on the backs of Lexa’s hands. “I need you to know that I love you because, what I want to tell you, what I need to tell you… I don’t want it to hurt.”
Taking a moment, Lexa studied her. She did look happy. And she had been nice and friendly toward Costia before. “I love you too, Clarke.”
“In the best friend sort of way?” Clarke teased.
Lexa rolled her eyes, “Never mind. I take it back.”
“Mean!” Clarke gasped, moving one of her hands to clutch at her chest, right over her heart.
“Tell me?” Lexa requested.
That had the smile dropping right off Clarke’s face. She dropped both hands into her lap and stared at the table. It took Lexa waving a hand in front of her face and repeatedly saying her name before she looked up.
“What is it?” Lexa asked, concern permeating her voice.
“I want to ask Anya out.”
Of all the things Lexa had thought she might hear, that wasn’t even in the top 500. She knew she’d heard correctly. She knew Clarke, her best friend and ex-girlfriend, had just admitted to wanting to ask Anya out. But…
“I know! I know!” Clarke nodded and dropped her eyes again. “I never saw it coming. Me and Anya? Who’d guess that?”
Lexa could only blink in response at first. Then she cleared her throat, “Like… Anya? My cousin? That Anya?”
“Raven is dating Luna,” Clarke explained.
Lexa nodded. She knew her other cousin was dating their friend. “They’ve been together for over a year. I spend a lot of time with the three of them.”
“I know,” Lexa whispered.
Lifting a hand, Clarke smoothed it over her hair, then rubbed the back of her neck as she continued, “I know its weird. And I want you to know I wasn’t, like, harboring feelings for her while we were together. It’s very new and exciting and… I just like her.”
“You and Anya?”
“Yes. Me and Anya.”
Lexa tried to wrap her brain around it. Tried to understand. “How?”
“Well,” Clarke drew the word out. She cleared her throat and took a sip of her water. She met Lexa’s eyes, saw the arched brow, and sighed. “Okay. So I dropped the premed major, like you always thought I should. I’m psych and criminal justice now. I’ve already completed the academy.”
“You’re going to be a cop?” Lexa asked, impressed with Clarke’s decision to follow her actual dreams.
Smiling broadly, Clarke nodded, “I am! Hopefully I’ll work my way to the FBI and become a profiler.”
“That’s so amazing!” Lexa gushed.
“Thank you!” Clarke replied, blushing slightly. She leaned forward, placing her crossed arms on the table in front of her. “Mom was furious, of course. She kicked me out and threatened to stop paying for college. Which isn’t a huge deal because I could just use my trust from Dad’s estate.”
Lexa rolled her eyes, “Of course she did.”
“I moved in with Raven, got a job as a dispatcher at the station,” Clarke continued. She smiled at the pride she saw glowing in Lexa’s eyes. “Mom came around eventually. I think Kane had something to do with that. But those few months I was at Raven’s place, I spent a lot of time with Anya. I never really realized how much we have in common. Or how the stuff we don’t have in common can be fun to explore together.”
“Well, she is a cop too,” Lexa replied with a shrug.
“She quit the force,” Clarke replied, a small smile lifting the corners of her lips. “She was going to law school. She never said a word to any of us. She just graduated a couple of months ago. She’s going to work with your dad now.”
Lexa’s eyes grew round, “And she didn’t say a word to me? That jerk!”
“I think I’m the only one who knew,” Clarke’s smile grew just a fraction. “I found out by accident. We had plans with Raven and Luna for lunch one day and I went to pick her up. I walked into her place to find her hunched over a textbook as think as my arm. She was muttering in Trigedasleng and… she was wearing glasses.”
“You are so weak for glasses,” Lexa laughed.
Clarke shrugged, “I’m weak for strong and sexy women in glasses.”
That had Lexa blushing. She remembered exactly how much Clarke liked her in glasses. Shaking her head to clear those memories she had no right to revisit, she had to ask, “what happened?”
“I cancelled our plans with Raven and Luna and I helped her study for her exam,” Clarke replied. Then her chest puffed up with pride, “She aced that test! I helped her study for all her tests after that. She says I’m her good luck charm.”
“She likes you,” Lexa’s smile was soft.
Clarke swallowed thickly. She could feel tears burning, “I tried to fight those feelings, Lex. I really did. But… Anya is amazing once you cut through her attitude. She’s just so… she’s… I don’t know. I don’t think I have the words to explain her.”
“Why are you crying?” Lexa asked gently, reaching across the table so she was holding Clarke’s hand again.
“She kissed me. A month ago,” Clarke replied, her voice wobbling ever so slightly. “Actually 3 weeks, 2 days, and about 12 hours ago.”
It made all made sense to Lexa. Anya, her other best friend, her cousin, would definitely see that kiss as a betrayal of Lexa. No wonder Anya had been so distant lately.
“Who’s a better kisser?” Lexa tried to joke.
It didn’t work.
“She won’t talk to me. I’ve tried. She’s one of my best friends too and I just…” Clarke sniffled and sighed. “I don’t know what to do.”
Squeezing her hand, Lexa nodded. This was most definitely not what she’d thought they’d be discussing when she agreed to meet up with her ex. How to get her ex with her cousin was foreign territory. “Clarke, you know it’s probably just because she feels guilty.”
“Maybe she’s just waiting until she has a chance to talk to me. Maybe she wants to see if I’m okay with this,” Lexa continued.
Lexa paused for a moment. She considered her feelings. She loved Clarke but she was in love with Costia. She always had Anya’s back. And, if she were being completely honest, if she really thought about it, Clarke and Anya made sense. Clarke was so quick to action, Anya was a tactician. Anya was always serious, even if she did have a secret sense of humor, and Clarke was one of those people who just pulled people out of their shells.
The more she thought about it, the more it made sense. So she nodded, “I am.”
She smiled and nodded again, “I mean, it’ll take some getting used to but I’m fine. As long as I don’t have to lose you again, as my friend, I’ll be okay.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Clarke promised. She used her free hand to wipe away the tears on her cheeks.
“Good,” Lexa winked at her.
They flagged down the waitress, hoping she’d give in and bring them more coffee. By the time they were halfway through those mugs, they were laughing again.
“I can’t wait to tell you all kinds of embarrassing stories about Anya!” Lexa crowed. “Payback is a bitch!”
“She has to say yes to the date first, Lex.”
“You think there’s a chance she won’t?”
Clarke could only shrug, “I don’t know. Before a few weeks ago, before the kiss, I’d have said she’d say yes for sure. Now? I have no idea.”
“I think we Woods women have a weak spot for you, Griffin,” Lexa declared.
Blushing, Clarke ducked her head. She took a sip of her coffee and asked, “Want to tell me when you’re planning on proposing to Costia?”
“What? I’m not…” Lexa stammered and shook her head. Then her shoulders drooped. “How did you know?”
“You keep reaching back and checking your coat pocket. It definitely looks like there is a little box in there,” Clarke replied with a grin.
“Tomorrow,” Lexa answered. “I’m taking her to the ice rink, which Dad was kind enough to rent out for us.”
Clarke laughed, “Taking her back to where you had your first date! That’s adorable!”
Lexa started to explain the rest of her plan. She was happy to have randomly fallen back into her friendship with Clarke so easily again. Then her phone beeped, startlingly them both.
“2 missed calls and 13 texts,” Lexa groaned.
“Costia missing you?”
Shaking her head at the attempt at teasing, Lexa checked, “Costia only called once and texted twice. She wanted to tell me she’d going out with Luna for lunch and to be careful on the way home. It’s supposed to snow.”
“Now,” Lexa replied.
For the first time since their arrival, the women look out the front window of the café. The snow was coming down too thick to see beyond the sidewalk. They both sighed.
“The other texts are from Anya,” Lexa added softly when Clarke turned back to her.
“Yeah?” Clarke perked up.
Lexa read through them quickly. She snorted at a few of them and shook her head at others, “She only lives a few blocks from here right?”
Clarke turned back to the snow, “Yes.”
“Come on,” Lexa said as she stood. She pulled on her coat and scarf, tucking her hat in a pocket. She waited until Clarke stood to add, “I’ll drop you off there before heading to my Dad’s house.”
Hesitating for a moment, Clarke watched her moving. Then she shook her head, “What?”
“Better you ask her soon,” Lexa replied, holding Clarke’s coat up for her to slip into. “She gets grumpy when it snows.”
Turning her around so she could see her eyes, Lexa smirked, “I think the two of you have been through enough angst and waiting because of me. I love you both and if being together makes you both happy? I say go for it.”
“Are you sure?”
“I think you’ve wasted enough time worrying about me and my feelings,” Lexa stated firmly. “You and Anya both. So I’ll tell you what I’m going to tell her. Be happy and live your life. Neither of you answer to me.”