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Tell Me You Love Me

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Lexa knew two things at the age of six. One of those two things was that she loved coloring, even if she wasn’t particularly good at it. She always had an extremely hard time staying within the lines. Her hands always shook each time she’d put the point of the crayon down on paper. Sometimes she’d even press too hard and they’d snap right in half. She grows so upset every time she does that, she doesn’t mean too, she’s just trying to get it right. Clarke is always there to make it better.

Clarke is the second thing of the two things she knows, and what she knows about Clarke is that she loves her. She even told her mother once that she’d trade everything she owns for Clarke if she had too. Her mother hadn’t humored her much on it, but she let her talk anyway.

Unlike Lexa, Clarke was amazing at coloring. She hardly ever scribbled outside of the lines and she never broke one single crayon. Lexa has a giant collection of drawings just from Clarke alone because she always seemed to be doing it. She would color so much that she’d run the crayons too low and when Clarke’s mother had decided that Clarke would have to wait for another box, she had been really sad.

So, Lexa pulled out the seven dollars and thirty-six cents she had been saving from her last birthday and she didn’t really have to think much about it when she asked her mom to take her to the store. It had shocked her at first because Lexa hardly ever bought anything. Every time her mom would try and get her too she would tell her no and feed it to her little racoon bank. But she knew Lexa was serious when she actually saw the money in her hand, outside of the racoon bank she had gotten for her birthday two years ago.

They went to Lexa’s favorite store. The one with the stuffed animals in a basked right in front and the nice man behind the cash register that always gives her a lollipop when she comes in. She knew right where the crayons were too, she always looks at them every time because she wants the best ones for when Clarke comes over. Clarke doesn’t normally get the big pack of special crayons Lexa’s mom always buys for her so she’s always so happy when she gets to use Lexa’s.

She’s staring at those very crayons and feeling extremely miserable because she’s off by five dollars. She just wants to get them for Clarke because she was so sad at school today without her crayons and she loves to draw.

She hears her mother clear her throat behind her, but she doesn’t bother looking up, still gloomily staring at the numbers in front of her. “I forgot Lexa, remember that five dollars you earned last week?”

“I did?” She asks, a soft pout on her mouth only growing with each passing second. She knits her little eyebrows together in thought as she turns her gaze up to her mother, though she doesn’t have to look up for long because soon she is crouching right in front of her, holding out the five dollars, waiting on her to take it.

“Remember, you raked all the leaves in the yard and I didn’t even have to ask?” Her mother’s own eyebrows push up slightly as if Lexa should already know this, but Lexa doesn’t remember ever earning five bucks for raking leaves before.

“You’ve never given me five dollars for that before.” She says suspiciously, glaring at her mother curiously and it seems to make her smile.

Lexa’s mother is always smiling at her, even if she isn’t doing anything particularly interesting. “Maybe I should start.” She nudges the five dollars toward her and Lexa takes it delicately, combining it with her money that’s already out and in her hands.

It takes her a few minutes to count it but when she figures out how much she has a small squeal leaves her. “I have enough!” She says excitedly to her mom who has stood up again and hears her laugh and sees her nod her head.

“Go ahead then.” And she doesn’t have to be told twice. She swipes the special big pack of crayons up from the shelf and sprints across the store, her mother walking behind her as she makes it to the check-out to the nice man, Gustus, behind the counter.

“What do we have here?” He says with a friendly smile. A shy Lexa blinks up at him, pushing up her glasses first before pushing the box of crayons even more across the counter. “Big art project?” He asks, and his friendly smile doesn’t waiver. It helps make Lexa feel safer.

She shrugs and looks up when she feels her mother smooth her hand through her hair and drop it on her shoulder. She squeezes slightly. “We talked about using your words more baby.” She mumbles in her daughters’ ear and Lexa pushes her glasses up again before nodding her head.

“They’re for my friend.” She says quietly and feels her mother press a kiss to the side of her head.

“Must be some special friend, twelve dollars little lady.” He replies cheerily, grabbing a lollipop from the bowl with a sticker on it that reads twenty-five cents. He places it in the bag with her crayons as Lexa fumbles with her money over the counter. He takes it from her and counts it out loud with her and she feels proud to have been able to have bought Clarke something.

When he hands the bag to her and she looks in to see Clarke’s crayons and her lollipop she decides Clarke can have that too and closes it, grabbing her mother’s hand and walking out with her as she says goodbye to Gustus.

The entire ride Lexa is anxious to get to Clarke’s. She can’t wait to give her this gift, she knows it’s going to make Clarke so happy and she loves Clarke’s smile. She has her seat belt off and her door open seconds after her mother puts the car in park in front of Clarke’s home. “Wait for me!” Her mother shouts after her in amusement as Lexa sprints up the stone steps to the Griffin’s front door.

She does wait, at least tell her mother has stepped on the first step, before ringing the doorbell. She’s so excited that she begins to knock not long after and it’s her mother gently touching her arm to get her to settle down to remind her that it’s not polite to do something like that.

Jake Griffin is the one to answer the door and he greets them with a big welcoming smile that Lexa’s used to seeing. She likes him the most out of Clarke’s parents. He calls her Lexa-t-Rexa and it makes her feel special. “Hey Beca, and little warrior, what are you doing here?” He addresses Lexa, making her giggle as he ruffles up her hair.

“Sorry to just randomly stop by like this Jake, but Lexa bought Clarke a gift.” She smiles down at her daughter and Jake’s smile grows just a bit bigger.

“Did you?” He chuckles. “Why don’t you come in, Clarke’s in the backyard.”

“Thanks Mr. Griffin.” Lexa mumbles sprinting across the room to the sliding glass door in the kitchen the moment she has permission to come in.

“No running, Lexa!” She hears her mom call after her but she’s too excited to listen. She’s out of the door before she even knows it, sunshine back on her face and heart going crazy the moment she spots her best friend kicking at the dirt on the swing set in her yard.

“Clarke!” She shouts excitedly and the little blonde whips her head up to meet wild green eyes. “Look!” She squeals, running across the yard, or at least, making to run across the yard. The grass is wet and slippery however, and she ends up falling, nearly face planting into the soft green lush.

“LEXA!” Clarke shrieks in panic and the next thing Lexa knows Clarke is right next to her, hands touching her to look for any wounds that might need healing. “Are you okay!?” She says with terror in her voice, touching Lexa’s cheek gently. Lexa blinks up at her and nods her head before standing up and dusting herself off.

She has a slight scrap on her knee, but she can barely feel it. She can’t see it that’s for sure. She squints but everything is blurry. “Your glasses.” Clarke coos and gently touches Lexa’s face again to make her stop moving so she can set her glasses back on her nose.

Clarke’s face comes in clear in front of her and she smiles widely. “I got you something!” She says excitably again, uncaring of her recent mishap.

“What do you mean?” Clarke asks, she’s not as uncaring, her focus now shifting to Lexa’s bruised knee. “You’re bleeding.” She says with dramatic dread, her eyes welling up with tears.

“I’m okay!” She’s quick to reassure Clarke. She even bounces on her leg, even if it slightly hurts, she doesn’t dare show it. “See,” She mumbles hoping to comfort her and when she sees Clarke’s tears disappear she’s back to her gift.

She bends over to pick up the bag, happy nothing had fallen out or gotten ruined and hands it over to Clarke.

Clarke is wiping a tear from her eye as she takes it. “What is it?” She asks quietly, sniffling as she stares down at the bag now in her hands.

Lexa can’t help her slight laugh. “Well open it and you’ll see.”

So, Clarke does. She looks down into the bag and reaches in and pulls out the box of crayons Lexa had gotten her, and her eyes light up, all tears completely gone now. “No way!” She jumps up and down in front of Lexa. “But mom said no crayons.” She says confused.

Lexa shakes her head. “She said she wasn’t buying you anymore, so I’ll buy them for you.” Lexa mumbles with determination. “You have to be able to draw Clarke.” She argues reasonably.

“You are my favorite best friend.” Clarke says with a laugh and flings her arms around Lexa’s neck, pulling close while she still holds on tightly to the crayons.

Lexa is so happy to have made Clarke happy again. “I’ll always have your back.” She promises and feels Clarke squeeze her tighter.

“And I’ll always have yours.”

 

***

 

By sixteen Clarke knew she had a problem. A problem she of course would never say out loud, or even confide in her best friend about. Kind of hard to confide in someone that created the problem. Not that it was a completely terrible problem but at the same time… it’s a completely terrible problem.

“Clarke,” Lexa calls her name and she jumps, forced out of her thoughts.

“What?” She turns her head toward her best friend and feels her breath stutter when green eyes blink at her. Lexa has such pretty eyes, way too pretty. It’s weird how pretty Clarke finds them, but than again, she’s been noticing a lot of things about her best friend that no one is supposed to notice about their best friend.

“You didn’t hear a thing I said huh?” She grins at her affectionately, a grin Clarke is used to being on the receiving end of but for some reason, her heart, as it’s been for a while now, has a mind of its own and thinks it’s a good reason to start going crazy.

She looks down and hopes her heart will calm itself. “Sorry,” She mumbles sheepishly, and she hears Lexa laugh. She wonders if Lexa would still laugh if she knew the way she’s been thinking about her lately.

“Are you okay?” She feels her bed dip and looks up into Lexa’s eyes. She wonders if she’ll find a way to ignore it someday, or if she’s doomed to think about Lexa in a completely non-platonic way for the rest of her life.

“Yeah, why?” She feigns confusion and watches Lexa’s eyes narrow as she studies her.

“You’ve just been out of it lately.” Clarke stops breathing when Lexa’s fingertips graze her own.

“I’m okay.” She mumbles and tries not to stare at their hands. “Your mom didn’t have to buy all this stuff though.” Clarke pushes her foot in the general direction where she had set up her newer art supplies.

Lexa grips her hand now. “She wanted too. And if she didn’t do it, I would.”

Clarke rolls her eyes. It’s just like Lexa to do and say something like that? Clarke was condemned from the start honestly. How do you not fall for a best friend like Lexa? “I could have made it work you know?” She tries not to think about it, as she often does.

Lexa’s grin grows wider at that. “I know. But you deserve the best art stuff.”

“I could never do this without you, you know.” She feels the weight in her chest heavy and beating hard as Lexa looks at her, into her own eyes, so close to her she can smell her skin and perfume and even the shampoo she uses.

She should not feel like this about her best friend. “Neither could I.” She says with a big smile and then she’s hugging Clarke and she feels her heart lodge in her throat as she hugs her back. This can’t last forever, it’s just a misunderstanding. It’ll be fine, it’ll go away. It has too.

It doesn’t.

 

***

 

Clarke never thought they’d be here so soon. This was supposed to happen when they were much older, when Lexa was much older. This was supposed to happen after they reached their goals and had their dreams come true, after children and marriages and booming careers. This wasn’t supposed to happen before they even graduated.

This just wasn’t fair.

“Clarke, honey, the casserole.” She hears her mother call back to her, breaking through her tired daze.

She blinks a second before she understands. “Oh, right.” Clarke mumbles and picks up the dish before sliding the rest of the way out of the car.

“This is where Lexa is staying now?” Clarke frowns as she looks at her mother before taking in the small cabin, quite a ways away from the city. Its surrounded by trees and there’s a river nearby because Clarke can hear the rush of the water. It’s actually quite pretty, at least that’s what Clarke thinks about it, clearly her mother would disagree.

She can hear her father sigh almost in disappointment before he finally responds to her. “Lexa chose to live here.” He reminds her in a hushed tone. After everything, who wouldn’t choose to live so far away from everything else?

“Of course she would, it was either this or the same house where her mother-” Abby sighs. “She wouldn’t be able to be in that house after.” Abby stopped herself. “She’s got a lot to deal with at such a young age, but I think living out here is going to make it harder.”

Clarke said nothing. She hadn’t seen Lexa until the funeral. Well, outside of that first few days. She stayed with Clarke, didn’t say much. She barely cried, she mostly just looked, empty. Clarke was relieved to see more color in her eyes the next time she did see her, but just as heartbroken that Lexa’s mother, Beca, had really passed and now they were standing together listening to some stranger explain her life and her death.

Lexa had hated the whole thing. Clarke didn’t really know what to say, what do you say in a situation like that? She knows she can’t make it better. She knows trying to would only make it harder for Lexa. So she didn’t really say anything. She just stood with Lexa, stayed by her whenever she moved so Lexa knew she was there for her.

And now here they were, Clarke’s cellphone full of text messages of directions to Gustus, but a real lack of banter that would normally be between them. Gustus had cried through the whole funeral. He could barely get his bearings, Anya had to do his speech for him. The whole thing is just miserable.

The casserole dish is heavy in Clarke’s arms. They stand there for a good few minutes before Abby finally knocks on the wooden door and when it opens Gustus is less tear-eyed and a lot cheerier as he greets them. “Welcome!” He says in a booming voice. Clarke has only met him a few times, through Lexa whenever they’d go down to that little store she likes that he works at, or if he’d come over for dinner while Clarke was over.

“Hello, we didn’t get a chance to officially meet at the ceremony. I’m Jake, this is my wife Abby, you’ve met our daughter Clarke, right?”

“Yes, I have.” He smiles warmly at her and Clarke feels the corners of her lips turn up slightly to try and return it. “Lexa is in the kitchen, she specifically requested I tell you to go meet her there as soon as you arrive. Let me take this from you.” He reaches out for the heavy casserole dish and Clarke is relieved to rid herself of it. She offers up a weak smile at him again and enters the cabin, leaving the adults to their conversation and looking for her best friend.

It doesn’t take her long to find her. The cabin isn’t very big. It’s cozy, very warm, there’s even a real fire and not one of those electric ones that Clarke has in her house. She can see the kitchen from the living room, the backside of Lexa, bending over an oven. The house smells like chocolate chip cookies and firewood. “Hey,” Clarke mumbles, leaning against the doorframe, trying hard not to let her eyes stray along the length of Lexa’s body like they like to do without her permission.

Now is definitely not the time.

Lexa whips around at the sound of her voice. “Do you remember the very first time you came over. We were way, way younger, it was Kindergarten, remember.” Her voice has a lot more life too it than it has in months. She looks so determined, this one specific detail seemingly so important to her.

Clarke furrows her eyebrows at her behavior. She wants to encourage it though. She thinks Beca would want her to make Lexa feel better. “Yes.” She says finally because she does remember that amount of time from her very vague statement.

Lexa scrambles to whip her hands on her apron and approach her more closely. “Remember the cookies my mom let us bake with her?” Her eyes twinkle slightly at the memory. She remembers it probably a lot more clearly than Clarke does, but the memory is still there. She remembers being nervous because she had never had a sleepover with a girl from her class before and her mother had lectured her to ends about proper manners. She thought she’d forget them all she was so worried.

“Yes.” She states simply again to find out where Lexa is going with this, though she can infer, from the smell of chocolate chip cookies, the apron around Lexa’s waist, the pan she just pulled out of the oven.

“I found the recipe.” Lexa points at the tray of freshly baked cookies on the counter. “But I’m not very good at this.” She pouts slightly as she looks at the cookies on the edge that appear slightly darker than the others.

“They smell amazing.” Clarke compliments as Lexa releases a sigh.

It grows quiet for only a second before Lexa’s bouncing topics. “Did they say that you could stay?”

Clarke shrugs. “My mom did her ramble thing instead of answering but I think I can.” She doesn’t think her parents will make her leave Lexa right now, and even if they wanted to Clarke would fight it. She needs to be here, to be with her. It’s probably the most important thing right now and nobody can tell her any different.

“Do you want to bake some with me. I know I’ve already made a lot, I just…” Lexa frowns slightly and stares at the cookies again.

She doesn’t actually have to say it for Clarke to know why. “I’d love to make cookies with you.”

 

 

“She should have known she had it too.” It’s dark, the middle of the night even. They should both be asleep by now, but Clarke is finding it impossible and Lexa… Lexa’s got way too much on her mind. “When I was born, and she found out I had it, she should have done something.”

Clarke pulls herself from the cot Gustus had set up in the middle of Lexa’s room and walks across it to the bed where Lexa faces the wall. She can’t see her face, but she knows she’s crying. She can hear it in her voice. She doesn’t hesitate to climb into the bed with her and wraps her arms around her waist to pull her body back into her own. “They say hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is easy to go undiagnosed.” Clarke’s voice fumbles over the words, croaky and confused as Lexa tangles her fingers with Clarke’s that are around her waist.

They’re big words, but a big part of Lexa’s reality, now even more so than ever before. “If she would have just gone to a doctor more often, if I would have convinced her, maybe she’d still be here.” Lexa’s tone is tired and sad and her body shakes against Clarke and there’s nothing she can do so she holds her as tightly as possible while she cries. It’s the first time since her mom died that she has.

She wonders what Beca would say to Lexa in a moment like this, it’s probably the only thing she could hear that would make a difference. But Beca can’t say anything because she left her all alone, so Clarke will have to do it now. Clarke will take it on because that’s what best friends do for each other.

“I’m here.” She tells her quietly, a promise. “I’m not going anywhere, it’s okay.” And Lexa continues to cry because she needs too. “I’ve got you.” She promises because she’ll be strong, as strong as she needs to for however long she needs to be for Lexa. In ever moment, from now and forever. Clarke is never letting go.

***

 

By the time Lexa was eighteen she had too many factors to think about already. She now had access to her inheritance, Gustus wasn’t going to keep it from her, he trusted her, and it wasn’t exactly his money to safeguard. On top of that she was making entirely too much from YouTube for her age. Clarke was doing well too but Lexa’s music was taking off way too fast, faster than she expected.

She had wanted to move but sitting on the anniversary of her mother’s death and the recent inheritance that Lexa shouldn’t even have because it’s her mother’s she hasn’t been in the best of moods. Clarke though, Clarke is always here, trying to make it better, every chance she gets. Lexa knows she’s far too lucky to have her, perhaps the luckiest if she’s honest.

“Okay, well the apartment tour is on Thursday. So that’s after Gustus’s play.” Clarke dips a fry into the small bowl of ketch-up on her side of the table and Lexa wrinkles her nose the moment she puts it in her mouth. She really does hate ketch-up, but Clarke won’t eat a single fry without it. That’s something she’ll never understand.

She wonders if Clarke has even had time to herself about it. She wonders if Clarke is doing alright, if she often waits to cry until she’s alone or Lexa is gone. She’s caught her a few times. She wishes she wouldn’t do that. “He doesn’t want me to move out.” Lexa says with a sigh as Clarke releases a small chuckle. She glances up at Lexa, but Lexa can still see it in her eyes. The concern. She hates worrying Clarke, but she knows it can’t be helped. At least not at times like this.

“Of course he doesn’t, you remember how he was when Anya moved to Oxford for school?” Clarke chuckles at the memory, not long ago, just a few years, but still distant enough. A different time that Lexa quietly longs for.

Perhaps by the way Clarke’s eyes glaze over a moment, she wishes the same. “He gets lonely.” Lexa mumbles sadly and leans her head in her own hand. It’s hard not to get lonely when your daughter moves faraway for school and your best friend dies in the same year, but he did get another kid out of it.

Clarke looks up at her for a moment, but she doesn’t say anything back right away. “We can cancel if you aren’t ready.” Her voice isn’t loud when she says it, but Lexa can feel the intentions of her words that are too heavy. Clarke isn’t sure about anything that Lexa wants lately, she knows the only real thing Lexa wants is her mom back, and it’s often hard to think about anything else. But she still tries, she still makes the effort, she still wants to do all the things they had talked about doing as kids.

She just never imagined it would be without her mom. “Of course, I’m ready.” She sits up now and tries to force the sour mood she’s clearly in out the window. Not that it matters how hard she tries, Clarke can always see right through her.

As if on que, she gives her a look. “It really can wait.” She says knowingly.

“We talked about this. It’ll be easier for work and you don’t have to waste so much gas coming out to check on me every day. Plus, I want to live with you.” She says it sincerely because she means it. The thought of leaving Gustus makes her a little sad, especially because he needs her as much as she needs him, but this was the plan. Her and Clarke against the world, like always. It’s the way it was always supposed to be. She still wants that future, that life that they’d imagined together in Clarke’s bedroom, or Lexa’s kitchen while her mom is baking, or on the playground at school.

“Yes, I know, but I also know that sometimes you need Gustus more than you need me.” Clarke doesn’t say it like it upsets her. She says it like a fact and maybe that fact would be right if Clarke were anyone else, but Lexa will always need Clarke the most, just as much as she needs her mom and she’s lost one, so she’s not about to lose the other as well.

“My mom wouldn’t want me to not continue with my plans just because she’s not here to see it.” Lexa mumbles frustratedly and leans back in her chair, crossing her arms along her chest. She huffs slightly, annoyed that they’re having to talk about this again. They’ve had this conversation before, Clarke is so careful with her. Maybe it annoys Clarke too.

“Lex,” Clarke reaches across the table for her hand but waits, just holding it out until Lexa decides to take it.

She eventually does because Clarke helps her feel a little bit better, even in her worst moods. “She wouldn’t.” She says quieter now and looks up at Clarke and feels the annoyance and sourness of her mood dissipate slightly. Lexa thinks its probably the color, bright like the sky and Lexa has always loved the sky. They always calm her down, they always make her feel better.

“I know.” Clarke’s hand squeezes her own and she lets out a soft sigh. “Nothing’s going to make it better, I know that. But I can still try right?” Clarke smiles warmly at her, eyes soft and perfect and Lexa loses herself in looking at them at first.

“You wouldn’t be you if you didn’t.” She answers back just as warmly. “Did I tell you about L.A.?” Lexa asks to change the subject to something lighter.

Clarke’s hand stays in her own, and she watches her eyebrows furrow cutely. “L.A.?”

“Yeah, I must have forgot with my birthday and all that, but I got a call two days ago and they want me to come out and like sing for them, I guess? I think they want to sign me.” This was something they’ve talked about before. This is something they both hoped for. It still feels kind of wrong to not be able to share it with her mom, but she knows she’d be proud of her.

Clarke’s blue eyes seem to get rounder. “Wait, a record label?”

“Yeah!”

“I knew this would happen, the moment you got a manager last year, I told you!”

“I don’t know when I go yet, they’re supposed to call me with the details but Gustus is coming with me. I think he’s even more excited than I am.” Lexa snickers at that when the memory of telling him reappears in her mind. He gave her one of his bear hugs, she’s always loved those.

“I’m so proud of you!” Clarke squeaks, her chair scraps along the tile floor as she forces it back too fast to fling herself at Lexa.

Lexa feels warm and for a long moment while Clarke is hugging her, happy. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Clarke snorts in her ear. “Please, you have all the talent.”

Lexa gasps and pulls back from the hug to stare at Clarke like she personally offended her. “You’re the most talented person in the entire world!” She nearly yells but not quite and feels the warmth spike in her chest when she sees Clarke blush and her eyes move away from her shyly.

She’s still pretty much in her lap and Lexa has no interest in separating right now so she keeps her arms firmly around Clarke’s waist to keep her in her place in her lap. “All our dreams are going to come true, and I’m not going to spend a second of it without you.” Lexa promises quietly and watches Clarke’s eyes well up slightly. She leans forward and presses a kiss to her cheek. “You and me forever.” Clarke hugs her again, tightly and Lexa for once, isn’t thinking about her mom but about their future.