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Blood does not make family

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The first time she saw those beautiful green eyes, she almost dropped the carton of milk she was holding. Clarke was intrigued by the owner of the eyes. The girl had long, brown hair and was wearing old jeans and a black shirt. While Clarke was staring at her, the girl looked around herself and hid a pack of noodles under her coat. A little nervous, Clarke kept staring at her. Why would she steal noodles? Shit, what do I do? Should I say something about it?

Before Clarke could make a decision, the girl had disappeared. Clarke searched the entire store but the girl with the green eyes was long gone. Disappointed, Clarke paid for her groceries and went home.

The second time Clarke saw the girl, she was at the drugstore. This time, she saw the girl stealing a box of medicine. Again, Clarke doubted if she should say something. She was startled when she heard the alarm. The girl started running and disappeared into the crowd.

After Clarke had seen the girl stealing five more times, she couldn’t keep it to herself anymore. She decided to talk about it with her mother when she got back from work.

“Mom, can we talk?” Clarke asked after dinner. “Of course, what’s it about?” Abby answered. They sat down on the couch and Abby patiently waited for her daughter to speak. “There’s this girl I’ve been seeing,” Clarke started. “You know your father and I completely accept that you like girls, right?” Abby asked.

Clarke came out to her father when she was 14 years old and discovered that she had a crush on one of her classmates. Jake already suspected that his daughter liked girls and he was completely okay with it. Clarke came out to her mother a few days later. While her mother was a little surprised, she accepted her daughter as she is.

“No, that’s not what I mean. I’m not dating or anything,” Clarke explained. “I’ve seen this girl in a few shops. Every time, I saw her stealing things.” “Has anyone else ever noticed it?” Abby asked. Clarke shook her head. “It definitely wasn’t the first time she did it, she was pretty good at it.” Abby nodded slowly.

“I don’t think she’s stealing for fun, mom. In the supermarket, she usually steals things you eat for dinner. In the pharmacy, she stole medicine. What if she can’t afford to buy it?”

Abby waited a long time before she spoke. “How many times have you seen her?” “About seven times,” Clarke answered. “Do you remember which clothes she wore?” Abby asked. Slowly, Clarke nodded. “She always wears the same clothes.”

“Is it okay if I talk about this with your father? He might be able to look into it,” Abby asked. “I don’t think we should say anything to the police until we know what’s going on.” Clarke agreed with her. Jake is a social worker and a part of his job is investigating if children have a home and if there’s someone to take care of them.

A few days later, Jake decided to talk with Clarke. While Abby was in the kitchen, Jake sat down on the couch next to Clarke.  “Your mother told me that you’re worried about that girl you saw,” he said. Clarke nodded. “I’ve been trying to get some information about her. I’m not allowed to tell you what I found out but you made the right choice by talking about it. I think we might be able to help her.”

“Does she have a home?” Clarke asked. “To be honest, I don’t know. She ran away from home. It was on the news two years ago, remember? No one has seen her ever since.”

The following Monday, Clarke had to go to school. “Hi Clarkey!” Raven, her best friend, greeted her. “Are you ready for my birthday party?” Raven was the youngest of her friends and was turning 15 in a week. When Raven didn’t receive an answer, she looked at Clarke worried. “Is everything okay?” She asked carefully. “Yes…  No… I don’t know,” Clarke answered.

The bell rang. “I’ll talk to you and Octavia during lunch,” Clarke said before walking to her first class. During Biology, Clarke was sketching green eyes, over and over. Niylah, her friend, noticed it, so did the teacher. “Miss Griffin, why aren’t you paying attention?” The teacher asked. Clarke apologised and put her sketchbook away. When Niylah looked at her, Clarke told her she would explain later.

Clarke, Raven, Octavia and Niylah decided to sit outside during lunch. “Wanna tell us what’s bothering you?” Octavia asked. Clarke nodded but didn’t speak. “You know we’re here for you, right?” Raven said. “Whatever it is, we can figure it out.”

“A few weeks ago, I saw this girl in the supermarket. She was stealing food and disappeared. I’ve seen her a few times at other stores and every time she has stolen something. I talked to my mom about it, who told my dad and he found out that she ran away from home. She was on the news two years ago.”

For a few minutes, no one said anything. It was Raven who broke the silence. “Why does that affect you so much, Clarke?” “I guess it just made me think. She has to steal food because no one wants to take care of her. It just reminded me how lucky I am to have a home and a family.”

“Does Jake know if there’s anything to do to help this girl?” Niylah asked. They all knew how hard it could be to be on your own. Octavia and her brother ended up in the foster system when their mother died. Her brother got adopted and she never heard back from him. Her current foster parents are great but Octavia has a hard time trusting them. Luckily, Jake and Abby are always there to help and support her. Raven’s mother is always working , which is why Raven spends most of her time at Clarke’s. Her father left them when she was two years old and she never heard anything from him. Niylah’s parents foster lots of children and she often helps taking care of them.

“He’s going to try to figure something out to help her but he can’t promise anything,” Clarke answered. “Let us know if there’s anything we can do for you or for her,” Octavia said. “Thanks,” Clarke answered.

For the past two weeks, Clarke hadn’t seen the girl with the green eyes. She was worried but also confused. Why am I so drawn to this girl? Jake assured her things would be okay. “We’re doing everything we can to help her,” he promised.

When Clarke got home from school on Thursday, Abby and Jake were sitting in the kitchen. Clarke wanted to ask what they were doing but Abby motioned to be quiet. When Jake hung up the phone, Abby looked at him with a hopeful smile on her face.

“They found her,” Jake said. “She’s at the office right now.” “Is she going to be okay?” Clarke asked. “What are they going to do with her?” Abby was surprised to see that her daughter was worrying so much about a girl she barely knew.

“What’s going on, Clarke?” Abby asked. “I don’t understand why you… I don’t know how to explain it. You’re just thinking about her a lot and I don’t understand why.” Clarke stared at her feet and didn’t answer. “You didn’t tell me the whole story, did you?” Abby said. Clarke shook her head and started to explain.

“I didn’t lie about the stealing. I saw her at a few stores and I was curious. After the third time, I talked to her. At first, she was very distant. She thought I was just some rich girl and didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I bought her food and clothes sometimes. After a week, she slowly started to open up to me. She told me she ran away from her foster home because it wasn’t safe there. I googled some things and found out who she was. She needs a family and I was trying to help.”

Abby and Jake were both quiet, trying to figure out what to say.

“I’m very proud that you helped her, Clarke. However, you should’ve come to us sooner. We would’ve helped her and we would’ve helped you,” Abby said. “I know, mom. I didn’t want to hide this from you, but she just started to trust me.”

Jake cleared his throat. “Your mother and I have been thinking about fostering this girl. We want to help her in any way possible. We’d like to know your opinion about this.”

“You really want to do that?” Clarke asked. This was more than she could hope for. “That would be amazing! I’m not sure Lexa will like the idea but at least she’ll have a home.” “Your mother and I are going to try and make this happen. We can’t promise that Lexa will come home with us, but I’ll make sure she’ll end up in a good foster home.”

It took Jake and Abby five weeks to get permission to foster Lexa. In that time, Clarke wasn’t allowed to visit. Clarke asked Abby not to tell Lexa that she would be her foster sister. She was afraid that it would scare the girl away.

Six weeks later, they were finally allowed to take Lexa home with them. Excited, Abby opened the front door to welcome the girl into their house. “Lexa, this is my daughter, Clarke. I believe you two have already met.”

“Clarke”