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A Good Dream, Almost

Chapter Text

I wanted to tell you things

All the secrets I’ve been keeping

It’s all right in front of me,

But then you just kept disappearing

A good dream, almost

Now I tell your ghost

Line after line, the words just live to remind

The two of us, what we could have been

- Sara Bareilles, ‘Poetry by Dead Men’

 

Left behind, alone on an empty planet. Her blood both her savior and her betrayer, black as oil and still staining her arm after a tangle with a rockslide in the forest earlier.

The steel walls of the rover seemed colder than usual, the black rain drumming the outside with a hollow metallic clanging beat that seemed to draw her heartbeat into its echo.

Under a pile of burlap that smelled like the Ark, like home, like being held in her father’s arms again, Clarke finally broke.

The tears came quickly and loudly as she choked on the memories, all of them. A small, squealing Clarke, chasing Wells down the hall, giggling and knocking into peoples’ knees. Preteen Clarke sitting on a bed, sloppily braiding her own hair while Wells waxed poetic about Nate Miller and criticized her combing methods. Teenage Clarke, still struggling with a sub-par braiding method, readying herself for the Masquerade dance as her parents quietly discussed the latest problem with the o2 scrubbers in the next room.

Adult Clarke, or so it seemed, huddled under a pile of blankets in a giant tin can, feeling more alone than ever as the winds of Praimfaya raged angrily outside and, it felt, in her heart.

She’d seen Raven’s rocket go up before she lost consciousness. The Ring was lit up in the sky every night, and she knew somehow in her heart that they were all okay up there. They had to be. Just like everyone else had to be okay down in the bunker. The bunker she couldn’t open, that no one could open, with billions of tons of rubble piled onto it.

She’d wanted to save the human race, and somehow the only person left on the ground was a monster who hadn’t felt even remotely human in a very, very long time.

Clarke sat up, wiping her face with some scrap material, her eyes stinging from the effort of expelling the pain she’d been carrying around with her since she’d watched that bullet tear through Lexa’s surprisingly soft flesh. Maybe now she was truly alone in the world, but if she was being honest with herself, she’d truly felt alone since the moment the life left Lexa’s eyes.

She shut her eyes, startling herself when her fist pounded the wall of the rover with a frustration deep enough to draw more of the cursed Nightblood from her skinned and calloused knuckles. There was too much anger and loss to fit in this suffocating steel box; too much to fit inside this suffocating steely-eyed girl. Alone on an entire planet and she still felt claustrophobic.

Through the haze of sandstorms that had quickly followed the path of Praimfaya, Clarke saw dots of flames burning weakly in the distance. Fot not the first time since she’d watched herself bleed black, Clarke’s mind turned to the small metal tin in her pocket.

She’d lied to everyone; everyone except Roan. He knew it was a fake, but he never acknowledged it. His interest was solely in staying alive to lead his people, the way Clarke herself had once felt. But Roan, too, knew the deep loss of the one person who understood you. The girl he loved from Sankru that caused his banishment in the first place. He’d smuggled her back to Azgeda to protect her from the conclave; either from being killed or becoming death.

He’d been lucky to be the son of the most ruthless leader Azgeda had seen in many years, supposedly. The standard punishment for hiding a natblida was a three-day bloodletting just for starters. Roan had whispered to Clarke as they stood gazing over the moonlit stretch of Polis how he’d been trying to die since the day the inky blood of the girl he loved ran beneath his feet. The penalty for being a natblida in hiding was only slightly more severe than hiding one.

Roan knew, and so he let Clarke lie to him and he, in turn, lied to everyone. What difference did it make, anyway? There would be no conclave for years; the time of the Commanders was truly over, and with no one the wiser he saw no reason to rob the mighty Wanheda of the only thing in life she ever truly seemed to want.

And now.. Now, nobody knew. There were no natblidas in space or underground to vie for the small, dirty tin Clarke was pulling out of her pocket for the hundredth time. Roan was dead and, Clarke hoped, reunited with the girl he’d loved enough to die for and to live for.

She slid the tin open and ran her fingertip reverently over the tiny bit of plastic that held a world within.

That held her world within.

She didn’t know if it would work. Maybe it would do nothing, maybe the kill switch had destroyed the worlds contained in the Flame right alongside the City of Light. Maybe it would still kill her, with her recently-manufactured Nightblood. Maybe she didn’t care if it did. There was no one left on Earth for her to matter to either way.

Briefly she wrestled with an increasingly weak sense of self-preservation, but even that side of her seemed well-beaten by her situation and quickly went dormant with half a thought towards brain liquefaction being a more desirable alternative to starving to death.

Clarke lifted the slightly flexible disk up, her eyes roaming over every bit of its’ surface. She felt she knew it as well as she knew her own skin; as well as she’d come to know Lexa’s.

As if propelled by some unseen force holding her hostage, she felt removed from her body as she very softly whispered, “Ascende superius..”

The tangle of wires snaked out of it, reaching out in search of the thick black liquid pumping beneath the surface of skin. As she had so many times before, she watched them writhe and grasp and, upon finding nothing to commune with, slowly retract.

Ascende superius,” came the whisper again. Like a child who had just figured out a party trick, she repeatedly teased the Flame’s spindly legs into emerging. Taunting the Flame, taunting herself, determined to push herself just a little further into what she knew would ultimately merit a poor decision.

She closed her eyes, remembering the wide, relaxed smile on Lexa’s face after they’d made love. The delicate bend of her arm as she propped her head up to look down at her raised-in-space paleness with nothing short of worship. Lexa’s calloused but gentle fingertips tracing lightly over her collarbones, her ribs. Quickly it turned, as it always did, into the image of Lexa’s now-pale skin, her oceanic green eyes growing wide with shock; the smudge of blood at the corner of her mouth as her body quietly convulsed with the effort of fighting off death.

Her eyes locked on Clarke’s, her hand gripping Clarke’s wrist as though she could force herself to hold onto life. Clarke feeling her own heartbeat slow in time with Lexa’s as the unwavering Heda mask fell away one last time. Shakily, she’d croaked out the Traveler’s Prayer, feeling herself shatter with every syllable.

Lexa, for all her posturing, was afraid to die, as anyone would be in the moment, and her nails had left tiny half-moon marks along Clarke’s arm that Clarke wished would stay forever. With one last soft whoosh of breath, Lexa’s deep mossy eyes went glassy, seeing nothing, and Clarke felt her own lungs empty of air.

It was worse than watching her father get floated. Worse than watching her mother hang herself at ALIE’s behest. Worse than the feeling she’d had watching Lexa walk away from Mount Weather after betraying her. Worse than riding up on three hundred massacred warriors riddled with bullets.

Worse, even than realizing that if she hadn’t run away, Pike would never have gained control, and Clarke wouldn’t have had to swallow the guilt caused by inadvertently betraying Lexa right back with the slaughter of hundreds of her people. Sure, Clarke hadn’t been holding the gun on the protection detail for Arkadia, but she may as well have been.

Clarke felt her veins turn to ice as she relived her worst moments over and over again; as the midnight bloodstains on her hand ceased being her own and became Lexa’s once more.

The blood of the commanders, Lexa’s blood, pumped hard and fast in her throat, in her chest, running through her veins and seeming to reach for the Flame. As though it knew its sole purpose was to bond with it.

Emotions deep in her chest boiled over and her voice was surprisingly firm as she spoke again, almost issuing a challenge to the Flame.

Ascende superius,” came the command, but what Clarke really meant was ‘Take me, too.’

The spiderweb legs emerged, seemingly more confident than before, as if they sensed she meant it this time, and she curled onto her side before bending her arm backwards to put the Flame in reach of her bared neck.

The pain came quick as a shocklash, every nerve ending in her body seeming to fire off all at once. She convulsed uncontrollably, sending the piles of burlap in every direction. She felt her stomach regurgitate the ration bar she’d had for breakfast as her body flipped face down of its own accord. Her eyes focused on Lexa’s name carved into the stock of her rifle as her vision slowly darkened and she fell into an abyss even emptier than the earth she stood on.

Chapter Text

Everything was dark. Clarke thought her eyes were open, but she saw nothing. Scent, however, was a different story. There were almost too many smells for her to process, but among them were the musty scent of the old books that had become her best friends on the Ark. Woven through it were the homemade aftershave her father wore, the one non-necessity he allowed himself. The sterile smell of Abby’s infirmary as she assisted in procedure after procedure under the glaring white lights. And—just there, just under the faintest memory of pizza day in Ark Elementary, was a scent that buried its claws deep in her chest, trying to rip it out of her.

Lexa.

The soap she used, with mild undertones of beeswax holding her hair in place. The slightest tang of sweat generated by nerves rather than activity, and then, that quiet scent that couldn’t be quantified, the one that was all Lexa’s own, emanating from her pores, her hair, her skin.

In the darkness, Clarke’s eyes welled up quickly as the smells mixed and coiled around her, permeating every inch of her being, and she felt herself falling apart more than she thought possible at the idea of living in this hell rather than the one she’d used the Flame to escape. It was worse, to smell her so present and see nothing, feel nothing. Cease to exist outside the constant pseudo presence of..

Clarke..”

In the abyss, Clarke gasped as Lexa’s voice filled her being, warming her from the inside. She tried to respond, but it was difficult because she still didn’t seem to exist outside the smells and, now, the sound.

“It’s okay, Clarke. Open your eyes.”

She’d thought they were open, but she listened to the voice that seemed to come from deep within her chest anyway, and concentrated on forcing her eyes open.

There were candles everywhere; dozens of them flickering in a light and slightly cool breeze. Beneath her cheek was a familiarly soft pelt, one she had felt on every inch of her body. Slowly, the army of candles sharpened and her quickly roaming eyes took in her surroundings in only a few seconds before they locked in on the glowing emerald ones in front of her.

Her reaction was delayed; she felt sleepy and slow, like a Sunday spent sleeping in on the Ark, fuzzy and full of warmth.

That warmth spread as the smile below those eyes did.

“Lexa?” Clarke’s voice broke as she fully came into her body once more.

Laying on the pelt beside her, her hair in unrestrained waves, her skin a blank canvas, as alive and vulnerable as she had been when they’d last met on the ground, was Lexa.

“A—am I dreaming?” she mumbled, despite the fact that she did not care if she was dreaming. She did not care if this was real, if it was inside her head, or if it were both or neither. It was Lexa, and she was here, and she could feel her hand as it came to rest on her cheek gently.

The tears ran freely as Lexa’s thumb gently wiped them away. “Yes and no.” Clarke didn’t care what that meant, and she pressed her hand over Lexa’s, holding it to her cheek tightly, still in disbelief that she could feel her there, as real as the burlap and steel of the rover. “You know the Commanders spoke to me in my dreams, showed me things they wanted me to see. Not just any memories—their own memories, brought to life.”

Clarke struggled to follow her words, her hands snaking around Lexa’s waist and hugging their bodies together as tightly as possible as Lexa did the same. “This is what I want you to see,” she said softly. “My happiness.”

Her face pressed to Lexa’s throat, Clarke’s voice was muffled and small. “So this ends when I wake up?” Lexa smiled in that bemused way she always did when Clarke failed to understand something she herself understood so easily.

“And begins again when you sleep. You are one with the Flame, now, Clarke kom Skaikru. You carry with you the blood of the Commanders and now, our legacy as well.” Lexa turned her head slightly, her voice soft in Clarke’s ear, her breath feeling painfully real. “As long as you stay alive, anyway.”

Clarke’s voice was quiet and raspy, as though she’d been gargling with the sand that had been slamming the rover just a few lifetimes ago. “I don’t want to stay alive. I want to stay here, with you.”

“There is no Fleimkepa. If you die, the Flame dies with you,” Lexa’s voice wavered just slightly. “I die with you. We all do.”

Clarke shut her eyes tightly for a brief moment, her voice small and childlike in her response. “I died with you.”

The last vestiges of her Heda mask began slipping away, leaving Lexa nothing more than a vulnerable, broken girl in love, resentful of the burden she bore for her people.

“That was my fault, Clarke. I wavered, and the commanders..” She swallowed hard, trying to control her emotions but finding it difficult, as it always had been in Clarke’s presence.

Clarke straightened up a little, still clinging to her as though there were magnets beneath their skin. “It was Titus who shot you. He meant to shoot me, and neither of those things are your fault, Lexa. If anything, they’re both mine.”

Lexa shook her head vehemently. “ I laid there with you, and I.. I knew what I needed to do for my people. The commanders told me, and I.. It was just for a moment, but I wanted them to leave. I wanted the Flame gone, the power and the burden gone. I wanted to be nothing more than a girl laying with someone I love. I turned my back on my duty, and forced my spirit to flee. It is my doing, Clarke kom Skaikru. Not yours, not Titus’.”

She couldn’t take the pain in those bottomless, soulful eyes of hers. “Lexa.. None of that is true, and you know it.” Her eyes dropped to the soft pelt beneath them, somehow making her look even more lost. “I carry the Flame now, and I can see you didn’t turn your back on anyone. You’re not the first commander to have loved, Lexa.”

Lexa’s eyes found hers again, her voice soft. “It always felt like I was. Or, at least, the first to have loved so deeply as to be painful.”

Clarke, satisfied that the dream would not end simply because she moved or took a breath, pushed herself up further and wrapped her arms more tightly around the other girl, pulling her close against her chest.

Lexa gratefully sank into her embrace, feeling not for the first time how small and fragile she became in Clarke’s presence.

“I can come back whenever I sleep?” she whispered. Lexa nodded silently against her chest, sliding her hands under the worn jacket she recognized from her own wardrobe and seeking out the warmth of Clarke’s skin.

“Survive the day, to live at night,” she whispered to herself. That’s what had been missing, she realized, her thoughts clear for the first time since Praimfaya. Life was meant to be about more than just survival, and until this moment, feeling Lexa’s body pressed completely against her own, there hadn’t been anything left for her to live for.

But now—

Clarke regained consciousness with a start, suddenly terrified as her surroundings changed and the scent of Lexa and the warmth of the pelt-laden bed were ripped away from her violently.

She let out an animalistic cry into the screams of the continuing storm, devolving into the feral version of herself Roan had dumped to the floor in front of Lexa several lifetimes ago. She wanted to tear into her reality as though it was tangible, thrust a knife into it repeatedly as it screamed its ugly truths into her blade.

“Lexa, beja, beja.. Come back..” Clarke beat her hands against the wall of the rover, letting out a senseless mix of syllables as she wailed her pain in English and Trig simultaneously, the rover rocking violently from the weight of her fists and the storm outside.

Chapter Text

The canvas bag tore as Clarke yanked the stuck zipper open and felt the fabric give way under her anxious fingers. She tipped the bag over, dumping its contents out into the burlap nest in front of her, rummaging through it quickly.

There. A box of pills, a case of injectors. Clarke had a rare flash in her mind of Jasper, looking gaunt and hollow in the wake of Wanheda’s wrath, his blood pumping with any mind-altering substance he could find, and finally she truly understood what she had done to him and why the logic of the situation never mattered to his destroyed heart. She had killed so much more than the people of Mount Weather that day, and she let herself feel it as she violently jabbed herself with the auto-injector.

The morphine inside felt like a star explosion deep inside her, fireworks shooting off from her chest into her extremities as her increasingly limp body toppled into the blanket pile, her pupils blown out as the weight on her eyelids pulled them closed.

She smelled the burning candles first, this time. The smoke danced in the air and on her tongue alone for a moment before it was joined by the familiar aroma of Lexa.

Her voice was tighter than before, almost scolding. “Clarke.. You cannot sleep all day and all night. That way is a slow death, and you know this.”

Clarke mumbled a little, the morphine fuzzing her brain and tongue. “Not every day. Just.. Today. Let me have today, beja, ain heda.”

Lexa couldn’t help but to smile at Clarke’s slurred Trig any more than she could help being happy to have her back so quickly, even in her sleepy, drugged state.

“Just today, ain skai hainofi.”

Clarke smiled sleepily at the affectionate term, her hands sliding around Lexa’s waist and up her back, instinctively spreading her palms over the tattoo running down her spine.

Lexa’s skin prickled from the combination of Clarke’s hands and the perfect if slightly chilly breeze that made the flames of the candles dance across the walls. She was suddenly overwhelmed with the need to have Clarke closer, wanting for them to disappear inside each other now that they had agreed to have the day.

Clarke, even in her altered state, seemed to share this overwhelming need, her fingertips fumbling with the buttons running up the back of Lexa’s sleeping gown. Unable to maintain her signature aloof decorum, Lexa’s hands, too, slid up Clarke’s sides, pushing the commander’s jacket off her shoulders just before her lips found Lexa’s and pressed against them deeply, her tongue instantly searching out hers.

Lexa moaned deep in her throat as the back of her gown separated and slid down, the straps catching her hands and preventing them from reaching for Clarke. She felt Clarke smile against her lips as she realized her predicament and broke the kiss gently. Clarke shifted slightly, but instead of freeing Lexa from the confines of the gown, it was to straddle her hips, effectively trapping her hands between her own thighs, an action which caused both of them to shudder lightly.

Leaning back with a confident smirk, Clarke pulled off her own shirt and then slowly the binding around her chest, enjoying the sight of Lexa squirming beneath her, desperate to touch the expanse of skin she’d just revealed.

She continued to tease her, undoing the closure on her pants and briefly shifting off her to kick them to the floor. Lexa started to pull her hands free of the gown, but Clarke quickly rolled back into place, trapping them between their hips once more.

Lexa let out a grunt of disapproval, holding onto Clarke’s hips as much as possible. Clarke leaned forward, her breasts tantalizingly close to Lexa’s face, and whispered into her ear, “Is this okay, ain hod in?”

Lexa nodded, enjoying the power reversal more than she’d anticipated, despite her intense desire to grasp Clarke and flip them over to touch every inch of her flesh until it was all committed to memory.

But there was time for that, all the time in the world, really, and Clarke’s hands were pushing the bottom of her gown open from the split and finding no further barriers between them.

Lexa’s back arched against the pile of animal pelts as Clarke’s palm cupped her gently. She was almost embarrassed by how turned on she already was, but the resultant moan from Clarke upon feeling the evidence quickly made her forget any sense of modesty that may have been lingering.

Clarke unconsciously rolled her hips against Lexa’s thigh, beginning a slow grind as she ran her fingers over Lexa’s ready heat and gently slid two inside her.

Lexa moaned her name loudly, her body jerking with each slow trip Clarke’s practiced fingers made back and forth. Her fingers grasped uselessly, bound tightly against her own hips which now thrust in time with Clarke’s movements.

Clarke leaned forward, grinding against Lexa’s thigh as she kissed her hungrily. Lexa growled low in her throat as her tongue sought Clarke’s, the kiss rapidly deepening as both of their bodies climbed toward release. Unable to move the way she wanted to, Lexa settled for raising her knee, pressing her thigh more roughly against Clarke’s center and she was quickly rewarded for it, extracting a moan from deep within her.

They pressed harder into each other, the kiss stealing the air from their lungs and neither caring. Lexa was unable to form words beyond an ongoing, hurried prayer of, “Beja.. Beja, Clarke..”

And then it was Lexa’s turn for an explosion of stars, her brain shutting down completely as she came, shuddering harder than ever before beneath Clarke’s desperately writhing body. The delicate straps around her wrist ripped apart when she arced against the bed, and her freed hands quickly found their way to Clarke’s bared ass, pulling her harder against her thigh.

Clarke felt the shift as Lexa’s shuddering subsided, as if she’d awoken the primal part of Lexa’s brain just then. Clarke found herself quickly flipped onto her back, Lexa’s hands suddenly everywhere at once, caressing every inch of her body. She raised her hips, seeking Lexa’s thigh once again, but heda was too quick for her.

Clarke’s eyes shut as Lexa’s tongue found her navel and circled it, her hands cupped over her breasts already, her entire body quaking with want.

Lexa’s tongue felt like a miracle against her heated skin and Clarke’s legs parted widely, craving her deeper than she’d ever craved anything before.

“Lexa.. Please, beja, ai gaf..”

Lexa’s voice was soft and seductive as she spoke against her inner thigh. “What is it you need?” Clarke shuddered, lifting her hips in search of contact, which she was denied by a gently smirking Lexa. “Tell me, skai hainofi, and it is yours.”

Clarke groaned softly, still moving beneath her. “I need you.. Please, Lexa.. Ai gaf yu in ai..”

Something about Clarke making her request in Trigedasleng set Lexa’s mind aflame and she quickly acquiesced, lowering her mouth to Clarke’s core and seeking deep inside her.

Clarke moaned her name repeatedly like a mantra, her fingers tangled deep in Lexa’s hair, feeling herself approach the brink only for Lexa’s tongue to find a new way of moving within her, bringing her to the edge again but not letting her go over it.

Twisting in the sheets and groaning mindlessly, she begged Lexa in an alternating string of her name and both English and Trig words that made less and less sense. Finally, more from her own desire to watch Clarke let go, Lexa gave in, watching through heavily lidded eyes as Clarke tumbled over the edge, shaking violently, her legs instinctively wrapping around Lexa’s back, clinging to her tightly.

Lexa was always amazed at how beautiful a sight it was to see Clarke let go of everything, to witness the brief moment where she owed nothing to her people or anyone else’s, that moment where there was no more world, where nothing mattered except her and Lexa and the feelings that grew between them more and more every minute they were together.

Clarke’s face was relaxed as she sank back against the bed, her arms dropping to her sides, her legs akimbo around Lexa’s lower body. A sheen of sweat covered her skin as Lexa slowly slid back up, laying her head on the pillow next to hers.

Clarke tiredly whispered something that Lexa could not quite make out, and she quietly asked her to repeat it.

When Clarke’s soft breathy mumble came again, it filled Lexa’s heart more than ever.

Ai.. Hod yu in.. Leksa.”

Lexa swallowed hard, hugging her more tightly against her. “I love you, too, Clarke.”

Chapter Text

When Clarke woke, she was freezing. She reached out in the dark for Lexa’s warmth, but her hand skimmed over cold, hard steel instead. Panicked, she sat up quickly and felt her heart sink when she saw the inside of the rover.

Her fingers were blue with the desert’s unforgiving nightly nuclear winter as she pulled the piles of burlap over her as quickly as she could. Her teeth chattered as she peered out the window into the moonlit sand. The storm had left, at least for the moment, and mentally she turned on autopilot as she slid out of the rover and began building a simple fire pit.

She worked quickly and efficiently, not allowing herself a single stray thought until the life-giving fire was dancing strongly in front of her and her fingers had begun returning to their normal color. She opened a package of mountain lion jerky, not letting herself think of Niylah for more than a heartbeat, and sat huddled under the blanket pile beside the fire.

This was the only way she could stand to be outside of the mechanical groans and creaks of the rover; with the crackling and popping of a hungry fire. Otherwise, the world was too still and too silent. Nothing but the breeze and the flame and Clarke herself made a sound anymore. If there was wildlife that had survived, Clarke hadn’t seen or heard any. She suddenly understood all too well a common phrase from her old books that her father had tried to explain to her many times.

The silence was deafening.

How, a young Clarke had thought, could silence be deafening? But now she knew. After a lifetime spent listening to the constant whirs and clangs of the Ark, she had discovered true quiet. And somehow it became her greatest fear—the silence, the emptiness, the vastness of the Earth and the sky and the underground. The planets and the stars and the infinite number of galaxies in the infinite span of space, and in the center of all of it, she was still here, still empty.

This was what she truly feared--being alone with herself.

Once she’d warmed, and eaten, and tended to her wounds, she brewed a cup of Jobi tea to ease the after-effects of the morphine, which had already spiked a debilitating headache. Wrapped up in a blanket and sipping her drink, she stared at the glowing ring above her head, fantasizing about what they were doing up there. Whether they’d all made it, if Raven was okay after her post-ALIE strokes, if Monty had started working on his algae farm yet. She imagined Echo teaching Raven to fight like an Azgeda warrior even with a bum leg, Bellamy a thousand pounds lighter without his forced leadership, Murphy actually being happy for once.

Usually when she thought about them, it only brought her pain. Made her realize she was jealous of their ability to be happy. That’s what no one really understood about being the leader. When your people came first, there was no room for yourself. Maybe that was why her heart ached so for Bellamy these days more than ever; because he understood something no one else could.

Except, of course, for Lexa.

Relatively warm and comfortable, Clarke finally shut off the survival-based section of her brain and let her mind wander back to Lexa, back to the dream she wanted to live in forever.

She had felt so real; that was the part that hurt the most. Her skin warm and pulsing beneath her fingertips, the smell of her hair, the throaty catch in her voice when she said Clarke’s name. It didn’t feel like a dream, not at all. However the Flame worked—and Clarke couldn’t pretend to understand those intricacies—it was really Lexa in there.

Clarke idly fingered the handle of her teacup, thinking of Lexa’s complex internal power struggle, simultaneously desiring and fearing a lack of control even in their quiet shared world of the Flame; a place where their people no longer existed, a place that was just for them.

And suddenly, Clarke was overwhelmed with the need to go back into the Flame again, to seek the warmth and comfort of Lexa’s arms and her soft voice, to feel her fingers combing through her hair and bringing her body to life so easily.

She took the box she’d found earlier out of her jacket pocket, dumping out the two bottles inside. Sleeping pills. She’d promised Lexa she would not disappear from the physical world by sleeping all day and all night, but the moon was high already, hanging just aside of the Ring in the star-spattered sky, and certainly no one could argue against taking sleeping pills at night, not even Lexa. How else would Clarke even be able to sleep in the echoing silence of this dead world, with the anticipation of seeing Lexa once again sending her blood pumping furiously through her veins?

No longer wanting to debate with herself, Clarke popped a pill into her mouth and swallowed it down with the last of the Jobi tea. She left the fire burning and climbed into the rover, leaving the doors open and burrowing under the pile of burlap. It wasn’t long before she started to feel the combined effect of the pill and tea, her arms growing heavier. She reached out and pulled close the branch that had once been part of Lexa’s throne, hugging it tightly to her chest as she fell asleep once more, Lexa’s name a whispered breath into the empty night.

Chapter Text

Something was wrong.

Clarke could smell smoke, but it wasn’t the gentle scent of Lexa’s candlelit bedroom. This smell was thick and heavy, and it forced its way into her nose and throat, choking her. When her vision returned, she was standing in front of a massive bonfire with hundreds of other people, most in hazmat suits, all of them yelling.

She twisted and turned quickly, scanning the enraged crowd for Lexa and even shouting her name, but Lexa was nowhere she could see. The crowd seemed to surge to the left suddenly, and when Clarke whipped her head in that direction she saw not Lexa, but another dark-haired young woman, her arms held folded behind her back by two large men who marched her past the clamoring crowd.

As they passed, people threw rocks at them and several even spit on the girl, who was screaming and trying to break free.

Clarke pulled her jacket tighter around herself as they marched the struggling woman up to a platform before the fire, her face suddenly recognizable.

Bekka Pramheda,” she whispered incredulously. The first Commander stood before her, as real as anything else, her flesh already red and blistering from the intense heat. She too recognized Cadogan, the Second Dawn cult leader, directing his men to lash her to the stake.

The flame consumed her lower body quickly, the stench of burning flesh searing into Clarke’s nose and mind, the Commander’s screams echoing in her ears. She pushed her way through the crowd, wanting nothing more than to escape the horrific scene, regretting the sleeping pill that would no doubt keep her locked into this nightmare for hours.

No, not a nightmare. A memory. Lexa had shown Clarke her happiness, and now Becca was showing Clarke her pain.

Instinctively Clarke headed for the crumbling tower that stood tall over Polis as Becca’s screams suddenly ceased. Away from the crowd and three rooms deep in the tower, with the stench of burnt hair and flesh thick in her nose, Clarke bent over a singed railing and vomited through tears she hadn’t even realized she was crying.

After a few minutes, she wiped her mouth and sat down on a rusted bench, rubbing her face tiredly, shaken from what she had just witnessed.

She hadn’t quite considered what would happen if the other Commanders wanted to show her things as well. It had seemed like such a linear plan, but the Flame contained multitudes—not just her heda but all of the hedas—and judging from the claustrophobic fear that was settling in on her, the other hedas were not all that happy about the Flame’s current location.

Impostor.

You dishonor us all.

Thief.

Your blood lies.

The Flame is not yours to bear, Sky Girl.

Clarke pressed her hands tightly to her ears, trying to drown out the increasingly cacophonous chorus in her head until she could no longer make out individual voices or even words. It felt like there were dozens of people screaming inside her brain, all of them enraged and disgusted. They molded her thoughts, pushed her to stand and begin climbing the stairs.

The only way out is the fall.

She was barely aware of what she was doing, step after step for hours or maybe even days, a never-ending climb closer and closer to the top. Her feet seemed to know the way even though her head did not. The walls that had grown so familiar to her during her time in Polis were barely recognizable. They were not the hallowed halls and rooms draped with rich tapestries and warm autumn-colored pelts that constituted the Commander’s dwelling, but Clarke realized through her daze that she was in what would become Lexa’s choice of throne room.

Clarke slowly made her way onto the balcony, staring out over the burned ruins of Polis and, further in the distance, a thick tangle of trees that she knew was Tondc. Or would be Tondc someday, anyway.

Her fingers brushed something rough and she snapped out of her reverie enough to realize she had somehow climbed on top of the railing, thousands of feet above the ground. She looked down to the rubble and flames that stretched endlessly in front of her as the voices in her head urged her closer to the edge.

Death is the only path to freedom.

Embrace the fall, Sky Girl.

You will be the next to burn.

She slid her foot forward to where the railing met air, knowing only that she had to do this to stop the nightmare playing out in front of her. Born from the sky and returned to it in death. That’s how it needed to be.

“Clarke!” One voice suddenly rang out louder than the others and Clarke suddenly seemed to snap back into her body as a hand grabbed her jacket and yanked her violently back off the railing. Her vision went dark and her body kept going backwards, falling forever with Lexa’s panicked cry still echoing in her head.

Chapter Text

When Clarke’s vision returned once more, she was looking at Lexa’s face. Her eyes were closed, her war paint smudged with tears cutting tracks down her cheeks. Her arms were wrapped around Clarke tightly and she was mumbling almost incoherently in Trig as she clutched Clarke’s limp body.

 “Lexa?” she said weakly, very confused. The other girl’s eyes opened quickly; bright green orbs surrounded by darkness.

 “Clarke.. Hodnes, I thought I lost you..”

 Clarke felt her eyes quickly welling up, her voice still scratchy from the smoke she’d been breathing.

 “I thought I lost you, too. They said if I jumped..”

 Lexa’s face darkened, her voice wavering slightly with anger. “It was a trick. They are angry. They say the Flame is not rightfully yours, that our selfishness is..”

 Clarke struggled to sit up a bit without pulling even a millimeter away from Lexa’s tight grasp. “They were trying to kill me?”

 Lexa nodded seriously; her jaw clenched tightly. “And just as in the City of Light, if you were to die here...”

 “If the mind dies, the body dies.” Clarke’s voice was quiet as she swallowed hard. It hadn’t even felt like she could control what she was doing. As if her body had been no longer hers. Maybe with the Flame in it, it wasn’t.

 “And take us all with you,” Lexa added quietly, her gaze turning downward. “It is better the Flame should die than remain in a false heda. They say. They used it to make you believe you were trapped. They would have killed you, Clarke.”

 Clarke straightened up a little and gently wiped a tear off her cheek, studying it quietly on the tip of her finger. “But they didn’t. Because you saved me again, ain heda.”

 “I will always save you,” Lexa whispered.

 Clarke’s chest tightened as she thought bitterly of how she hadn’t been able to save Lexa in return, and in response her hand slid over her damp cheek as she pulled Lexa closer, kissing her softly, reassuringly. Lexa returned the kiss gently as Clarke’s fingers found a stray braid, twirling it lazily as they separated for a breath.

 “It’ll happen again, won’t it?” Clarke asked rhetorically, the thought of other Commanders hijacking her brain settling in the pit of her stomach like a rock. Lexa stayed quiet, just running her nails lightly back and forth over her arm. Clarke didn't need her to affirm what she already knew.

 They laid in silence for a few minutes before Lexa heard a quiet sniff from where Clarke had buried her face in her neck, resting against her chest. Lexa bit her lip, suddenly overwhelmed with the need to fix it, to comfort her niron and make her forget all of her pain, even if just for a moment. It was so rare for her to show her vulnerability, even when it was just them.

 She herself was an emotional fortress, closed off and impenetrable... Except when she was with Clarke. Her mere presence was enough to shred every last one of her defenses like so much paper. Even Costia had not known her like this. She’d been gentle, quiet, her Costia. She could talk to her, tell her things she could tell no one else, but Costia had feared the darkness in her.

 Hell, Lexa feared the darkness in herself. From the moment she stood in a pool of blackened blood, the Novitiates she’d grown up with, learned with, become friends with scattered in pieces around her, she’d felt the darkness within. Later she’d sat in the bath Costia had drawn for her, watching as the swirl of Nightblood pouring off her body quickly turned the water opaque…

 


 

“Titus wants to go after Luna,” she’d said, almost to herself.

 Costia, her hair neatly braided in loops around her head, gently scrubbed around the deep gouges in her back. “You shouldn’t let him, Heda.”

 Lexa flinched. “Don’t call me that. It is too strange. I’m not your commander any more than you’re my handmaiden.”

 Costia smiled, revealing the dimples Lexa had come to love so, that she couldn’t help but smile back. “You’re everyone’s Commander now.”

 Lexa sighed in frustration, pulling her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around them, laying her head on them as Costia continued washing her. “Not because I wish to be. Just because I did not die today.”

 Costia “hmm’d” and draped the cloth she’d been using over the side of the tub, sliding her hands over her shoulders instead. “Come on, come back to me, Lex..” Lexa sighed, but obediently leaned back and let Costia wrap her arms around her neck and chest, kissing her cheek softly. “Do you trust me?”

 “You know I do.”

 “And I know how hard that is for you. But you’re special, Lexa. Different. You always have been. You see our ways.. Differently. More like I do,” she added quietly, running her thumb lightly over the center of her chest, her voice soft in her ear. “You see what’s broken. You didn’t win the Conclave because you lived. You won because the Commander's spirit chose you, saw your strength and bravery. How smart you are. The miracles you will achieve for our people."

 Costia's gentle hands slid across Lexa's stomach as she leaned over her further, kissing her shoulder before whispering in her ear. "We could see peace in our lifetime, Lexa. We could see peace because of you, niron."

 Lexa closed her eyes briefly, sliding her hands over Costia's arms, not wanting to think about it anymore. Her body moved as quickly and gracefully as it had in the Conclave as she pulled Costia into the tub with her, clothing and all. Costia yelped as she landed in Lexa's lap, sputtering as Lexa grinned at her wickedly.

 "Lexa!" she whined, but settled on her legs, wiping her face. "You're awful sometimes, Heda."

 Lexa poked her ribs lightly, but her face tightened a bit unconsciously. "I said, don't call me that."

 Costia's deep brown eyes twinkled as she rubbed her hand lightly over her thigh. "Why not, Heda?" Lexa's eyes closed briefly, a sound that was a mixture of a moan and a soft growl escaping her throat. Costia's voice deepened a little as she kissed behind her ear softly. "I like you being my Commander."

 Her words and the gentle stroking of her thigh made Lexa flush, but something caught in her throat, and she was surprised when she opened her eyes and they were rapidly watering. Costia seemed to sense it, and she shifted in the tub, wrapping her arms around her tightly as she shook with the effort to contain herself. Lexa's voice cracked as she whispered, "I'm afraid." Costia just rocked her gently, her rhythm as steady as the sea she had grown up on and lulling Lexa into a comforting trance as she rubbed her back and sang quietly into her ear with her gentle, melodic voice.

 

Ai giv ai op gon nemiyon kom lanik-de
Ain laudnes, ain fleim op
Beja, krasha-de sen klir ai
Kom sof daun ai gada kamp raun
Ste shil ain keryon sof
Ste hosh ai daun
Teik ai klir, hod ai kamp raun
Nou sof osir daun noumou now
Wichen gon nemiyon kom lanik-de
Wichen gon nemiyon kom yu, ai snogon
Krasha-de hod osir in
Monin hou set raun ain tombom, meizen niron

 

[I give myself to the miracle of the sea
My pain, my anger, washes away
Please, let the waves release me
From the suffering I carry with me
Protect my gentle soul
Lull me to sleep
Make me safe, hold me close
We will never suffer again
Devoted to the miracle of the sea
Devoted to the miracle of you, my love
The waves hold us in
Welcome home to my heart, my beautiful dear]

 

 

The now-familiar Floukru lullaby relaxed Lexa's shoulders immediately as she cried quietly. Costia continued, singing softly as she held her close against her chest, Lexa's palm spreading over the soft mahogany expanse of her skin.

 Lexa thought that, as long as she had Costia, as long as she was worthy of Costia's love and her arms, she could be strong enough to survive.

 And really, wasn't that the whole point? Survival?


 

And then, she had returned to her bedchamber after a particularly long evening of once again trying to sort out the seemingly never-ending conflict concerning Azgeda, who had now managed to anger both Trikru and Trishanakru by setting up their infamously brutal and loud winter training camps only half a day's walk from the hunting grounds, presenting a real possibility of village-wide starvation.

She was exhausted and at the end of her rope with Nia's constant posturing and power plays. The Azplana was everything she'd been rumored to be and more. Cold, calculating, brutal, and emotionless. She felt nothing but a desire for power and, for reasons Lexa still didn't fully understand, to destroy Lexa and any possibility for peace in every possible way.

 Lexa grunted as she shoved open the heavy double doors, and instantly felt a chill run down her spine. Something was wrong. The room, usually warm with the flickering of dozens of candles, was dark, and the doors leading to the balcony were open, letting in the chill of the night.

 Lexa unsheathed her dagger from her thigh silently, giving her eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness before cautiously walking the perimeter of the room, careful to keep her back to the wall as she crept.

 As she completed her search, she frowned. There was no one here, no traps, no sign of assassination attempt anywhere. Perhaps she hadn't closed the door properly, and the wind had been responsible for putting out the candles.

 But Lexa didn't believe that, and she began relighting the candles uncomfortably, every bone in her body still pulling at her, her dagger still in hand. As the room slowly lit up again, she gazed around, still looking for anything different.

 She had almost convinced herself that she was just being paranoid, when she noticed the white pelt on her bed was oddly rumpled and—as she moved closer to it, stained with something dark.

 Lexa tightened the grip on her dagger as she approached the bed and saw the unmistakable rusty color of blood, her breath hitching in her throat. Shaking like a leaf, she pulled the pelt back, the copious blood running all over her hand.

 And then she saw it. The telltale braided loop—soft and dark and painstakingly plaited into perfection.

 The dagger dropped from her hand and Lexa let out a wail that seemed to shake the entire city of Polis as she fell to the bed, screaming her grief in a torrent of incoherent hysteria as she drowned in the pool of her lover's blood, all too aware of how completely and truly alone she was—and now always would be.

Chapter Text

"Lexa.."

Lexa snapped out of her reverie to find deep blue eyes with tears forming in them staring into hers intensely. Clarke had shifted, her hand cupping her cheek, her face a complex map of grief and sorrow. It took Lexa a minute to realize what had happened, and she felt her stomach clench like a fist, her breath catching a little.

"I—I'm sorry, Clarke. I didn't mean to.."

Clarke shook her head quickly. "It's okay. It's okay, niron."

Lexa shut her eyes briefly, not sure if she was rocked harder by how painful the memory of Costia still was or by how gently Clarke caressed her face, her neck, her side; like she was the most fragile and precious thing in the world and could be shattered by the slightest touch.

As she pressed her cheek more firmly against her palm, feeling herself coming undone inside, Lexa knew at least part of that was true; the slightest touch from Clarke could, anyway.

Clarke gently wiped away tears she hadn't even realized she had shed and pressed Lexa back against the bed, stretching out against her side and wrapping her arm around her protectively. Lexa let herself release into her arms, sinking into her and just feeling for a minute. Clarke seemed to sense that something inside her had broken and reacted accordingly, stretching out further, wrapping her leg around her. Lexa curled herself as small as possible, rolling to her side and burrowing against Clarke's chest, her jaw trembling lightly.

She wished she could disappear inside her; that they could both disappear into another life. One where they were both alive, and safe, and alone; one where they owed nothing more to their people. She felt fresh tears running down her face, but made no move to wipe them away. In this moment, it felt almost as if it would mean she was trying to hide from Clarke; to bury her pain again. But she'd wanted Clarke to see it; to see her as she once was, a child still, untouched by the darkness.

"I do see you, Lexa. The beauty, the pain, the mess.. The darkness, the fire. All of you. I always have. It's why.. you're you."

Lexa opened her eyes, mumbling against her chest with a grunt. "That would be even sweeter if you weren't reading my mind like a giant skiv op.."

Clarke smiled lightly at her tone. "Hey, Grumpy Bear. I'm not reading, you're just feeling out loud inside my head." She kissed her forehead softly.

Lexa muttered grumpily into her chest, holding onto her and shifting to her back, pulling Clarke over her like a blanket. "I'm not grumpy. Or a bear, Klarke."

Clarke laid her head on her chest gently, rubbing her side lazily. "I love when you do that."

"Do what?"

"Click my name like that. Klarke," she said with a smile, trying to imitate her clipped tone.

Lexa looked at her quietly, her face relaxing into a small smile as the last of the memory slipped to the back of her head once more. "Klarke," she said, clicking it more pointedly.

Clarke's smile widened as she leaned over her, stroking her side with her nails, her voice growing husky. "Say it again."

"Klarke.." Lexa looked up at her with heavily lidded eyes, her pupils dilating.

Clarke pulled her head back a little, her deep blue gaze locking to hers and a small smile playing over her lips when she saw how quickly her eyes were darkening. “Your heart just started beating like crazy,” she whispered, resting her hand over where it beat. Lexa closed her eyes briefly, then let out a soft moan as Clarke’s hand moved and cupped her breast instead, kneading it through her thin fabric top.

Clarke licked her lips, her hands confident as she tugged Lexa's shirt open, sending the buttons in every direction as they popped off from the force of her movement. Lexa gasped softly in surprise as she leaned forward over her now bare chest and lightly scraped her teeth over a rapidly hardening nipple. Lexa's hand instinctively went to the back of her neck, wrapping her fingers tightly in her hair and breathing her name softly.

Clarke experimented in a way there hadn’t been time to before, wanting to learn how every bit of Lexa responded to every bit of herself. She took her time, alternating between her tongue, her lips, and her teeth, nipping along the tender flesh under her breast, teasing her tongue against her heated skin and only occasionally brushing against the spot she knew she wanted her in. Lexa's breathing grew heavier, squirming as Clarke lingered at her left breast for what seemed like a lifetime before finally wrapping her tongue around her painfully hard nipple.

Lexa let out a whimper when Clarke pulled away after only a moment and shifted her focus to her right breast, starting the torture all over again, her hand taking over on the left. Her fingers tightened in her hair as Clarke's tongue danced over her like she’d been programmed specifically to drive Lexa crazy.

Just when the teasing had begun to approach the point of pain, Clarke wrapped her lips around the stiff bud and sucked it hard, delighting in the low moan it drew from Lexa and the feel of her nails digging into the back of her neck in response.

After a minute she scraped her teeth over the rock solid nipple as she released it, wishing she could remain there forever but eager to explore the rest of her lover’s body as fully as possible. She sat up and guided Lexa's arms over her head, pulling off what was left of her shirt before sliding down to remove her pants as well.

Clarke wondered briefly what their lives would look like if they’d had the time to truly learn each others bodies and grow as lovers in the real world. It hurt to think of it as the real world, the vast emptiness of the wasteland—this was the real world she wanted, this one here with Lexa's labored breathing punctuating the quiet of the night. Not for the first time, she felt a twinge of regret. Maybe everyone would have been better off in the City of Light. Maybe she and Lexa could have lived together for eternity in one of ALIE’s high rises, sitting on a balcony at sunset, sipping wine and holding each other the way two normal girls would have been able to do in reality once upon a long time ago.

Lexa was reclined onto her elbows, watching Clarke quietly for a moment before she spoke softly. "Don't disappear on me. What happened isn't your fault." Clarke looked up at her guiltily from between her knees. Lexa sat up, reaching down and pulling Clarke back up onto the bed. "You talk out loud in my head, too."

Clarke groaned a little, covering her face. "I'm sorry. I was—"

"Shh," Lexa interrupted gently, shaking her head. She tilted her head and slid her hand over the back of her neck, kissing her reassuringly.

Clarke melted into the kiss, the feel of Lexa's bared flesh pressed against her shoving every rational thought from her mind violently. The kiss deepened quickly, their tongues battling for dominance as Clarke pushed her back onto the bed again, determined not to let any more interruptions delay them.

Lexa drew her knees up around her, her dripping core pressing against Clarke's abdomen where her shirt had ridden up. Clarke moaned deeply into the kiss when she felt it, immediately growing even wetter than she already was. She broke the kiss and reluctantly shifted away from Lexa, whose hips continued grinding into the air as she whimpered. Clarke undressed herself as quickly as she could, smiling when she heard Lexa's breathing become more labored.

Her eyes flicked across Lexa's body as she ran her hands slowly up her legs and over her thighs. Together she and Lexa spread her legs wide and Clarke lowered herself to the bed between them, gazing at the parted folds in front of her, but not touching them. Lexa chewed her lower lip in frustration, reaching down and sliding her fingers through Clarke's hair, subtly trying to pull her closer.

Clarke's hand wrapped around Lexa's delicate wrist with impressive speed, clamping down on it. She looked up at her mischievously. "Not so fast, heda."

Her breath hitched in her throat, watching as Clarke lowered her head and ran her tongue slowly over the crease of her thigh, drawing out a prolonged shudder before doing the same on her other thigh and making her way slowly over her hipbone. She relished the soft grunts and moans Lexa was making as her tongue and teeth traced a path up her body.

Clarke deliberately slid her lower abdomen directly over Lexa's heated center, moving her hips slowly against hers. Lexa's head tilted back as her hips jerked up, seeking more pressure, but Clarke changed her rhythm, denying her and smiling against the breast she was back to teasing when Lexa let out a frustrated whine.

Clarke ducked her head so she could whisper in her ear, circling her nails over her nipple with a feather light touch. "Tell me what you want, hodnes."

"Touch me," she mumbled, pressing her hips against her again.

Clarke smirked lightly. "I am."

Lexa grunted as Clarke moved her hips away from her. "More, beja, harder.."

Clarke shivered a little, gently scraping her teeth over her earlobe and tugging on it gently, making a mental note of the spot as it caused Lexa's back to arch against the bed. Her tongue traced a trail slowly up her throat and back to her ear, rolling a nipple between her fingertips. "Show me."

Lexa stopped squirming, her eyes flying open, a blush quickly spreading across her cheeks. "What?"

Clarke's voice was husky when she lifted her head to look at her, unconsciously grinding her hips down against hers. "You heard me."

Lexa shuddered a little, but locked her gaze on Clarke's and slowly slid her left hand down her own body. Clarke's breathing got heavier as she watched Lexa's delicate fingers dance over her body, scratching lightly over the jut of her hipbone. Clarke made a mental note of the spot, adding it to her Lexa-con of spots to drive her crazy.

Clarke lifted her hips, straddling her right thigh instead. She moaned deeply when she felt Clarke push her dripping center down against her thigh and quickly slid her hand over her mound, cupping herself at the same time.

A shiver ran through Lexa as she grew more confident, rubbing her parted lips more firmly and dipping her finger inside herself, drawing out some of the copious wetness and starting to raise her hand. Clarke moaned deeply when she realized what Lexa was doing and lowered her head, her lips quickly meeting Lexa's finger and sucking it into her mouth.

Clarke let down another flood of wetness, coating Lexa's thigh when she tasted her. She slid her hand under Lexa's when she could no longer taste her, and guided both of their hands back between her legs, aligning their fingers.

Her voice was thick with arousal, her pupils so blown out there was no trace of blue left. "Use mine."

Lexa shuddered hard, her center quickly clamping down on nothing in anticipation of feeling Clarke inside her—no, putting Clarke inside her. She grasped Clarke's hand tighter, folding down all but their middle fingers and quickly guiding them inside herself. Clarke gasped as Lexa gushed around her hand, feeling her walls fluttering around their joined fingers. After barely a minute, Lexa withdrew their hands just enough to fold in Clarke's ring finger as well, then thrust their three fingers back inside herself easily.

Clarke let out a loud, shaky moan as Lexa fucked herself with both of their fingers, guiding them to curl against her front wall and arching her back against the bed. Clarke began sliding her swollen center against the generous slickness already spreading across Lexa's thigh. It took a moment, but she found the same rhythm Lexa was fucking into herself with.

They moved together, and Lexa pressed down on Clarke's hand so her palm rubbed against her swollen clit, gasping loudly. Clarke continued riding her thigh and reluctantly decreased the pressure a little. She wanted to see Lexa come hard around their fingers first.

More to distract herself than anything else, Clarke leaned forward a little, her voice so deep with lust it startled Lexa momentarily. "You're so beautiful, so fucking hot, Leksa… I wanna stay inside you forever, I wanna taste you and watch you fuck yourself, swallow every drop you have to give me.."

Lexa's back arched hard as she started shaking lightly, Clarke's babbled obscenities boosting her to the edge quickly. "Jok, Clarke, k—keep…"

Clarke didn't even let her finish, the torrent of filth flowing out of her easily as she started rubbing her needy clit against the jut of Lexa's hipbone. "I love how wet you get for me, how easy it is to turn you on. You taste better than anything I've ever had in my mouth before, and after this I'm gonna lick every inch of you, inside and outside.. Make you come so hard, so many times that you don't even know your own name anymore, only mine.."

Lexa gasped her name, forcing their hands against the head of her stiffened clit roughly. It took only a moment before Lexa was coming, her walls clamping down hard around their fingers, her voice crying Clarke's name. Clarke forced her own hips to stop moving so she could watch Lexa's beautiful face, deep green eyes rolling upwards, her chin tilted back, full lips parted and hissing her name like a prayer.

Clarke whimpered as Lexa instinctively thrust her hip, pressing against Clarke's slick heat. Her body still vibrating with aftershocks, she left Clarke's fingers inside her and guided her own soaked hand to Clarke's lips and wrapped her free arm around her hips. Clarke moaned deeply as she licked and sucked Lexa's fingers, her tongue seeking every drop of her.

Lexa shifted her hip until she was rewarded with a loud, guttural moan from Clarke when she found her swollen clit. Clarke ground and thrust against her with renewed fervor, grunting, "More.. Need more.."

Lexa obliged and slid her fingers into the slick mess between them, rubbing the pulsing bud and gently rolling it between her fingers. Clarke bucked against her, her fingers sliding free from Lexa's still-grasping core and spreading against her other hip, trying to steady herself as she rode Lexa's fingers and hip.

Watching her gracefully arched back, chin tilted up, her entire body tensing and twisting, Lexa lightly scraped a blunt nail over her clit and Clarke went off like a shot. Crying Lexa's name, her hands grabbing whatever they could for purchase as she came hard, letting down a fresh gush of liquid and shaking violently.

An eternity later, Clarke collapsed against Lexa, her body covering half of hers, their hands seeking each other out. Their fingers instinctively laced together, hands resting in the massive slick they'd created. Both of them lay panting, clinging to each other until the first rays of light crept across the floor.

After awhile, Clarke whispered, her face pressed against Lexa's strong jaw. "I'll wake up soon. I can.. Feel it; the pull."

Lexa's eyes opened and she reached up, smoothing Clarke's hair back gently, her voice soft. "I know."

Clarke chewed her bottom lip slowly, her eyes watering a little. "I don't want to go."

"Day will turn to night again, and you'll come back to me," Lexa responded gently, then smiled a little mischievously. "And then you'll just come a lot."

Clarke smiled despite herself and tilted her head, kissing her softly. Lexa returned the kiss, their bodies pressing tightly to each other as they hugged tightly. Neither deepened the kiss, their mouths lingering lazily.

They were still kissing when Clarke felt herself being jerked away and then awake inside the rover, having once again left the dream for the nightmare. The sudden loneliness slammed into her, ripping at her gut as she rolled over to her side, curling up under her burlap pile and letting out a single sob so painful and so primal that it took her a moment to even realize it had come from her own throat.

Chapter Text

Clarke just lay there for a long time as the sun came up and glared at her through the windows of the rover. She needed to get up and find some food today. Her stores were getting dangerously low, and despite the knowledge that starving to death would both suck and also mean no more visits with Lexa, she couldn't bring herself to move.

Instead, she rolled over and shifted her hips a little, trying to ignore the uncomfortable wetness that had gathered there overnight as a direct result of her dream that wasn't really a dream and wasn't really reality. She stuck her hand in her pocket and fished around for a moment, her fingers gliding over the metal case that once housed the Flame and pulling it out. She slid the top up and ran her fingertip lightly over the medallion that had once rested on Lexa's forehead—perhaps the kindest thing Titus had done for her. It was meant to rest forever with the Commander's remains, but Titus had—in a rare moment of kindness—quietly replaced it with one meant for a new Commander before gathering Lexa's body to the pyre and given the real one to Clarke.

She lifted it up and kissed it softly, imagining that the cool metal was still warm as it had been when it was pressed against Lexa's skin. As she usually did, she counted each of the ridges on it, her fingers stroking the familiar pattern for a few minutes before setting it back in the little case.

Quietly, reverently, she wrapped her fingers around the other treasure tucked inside the case. She removed the long, thin braid that had always rested across Lexa's shoulder; the one Clarke had played with in some of their quieter moments. She pressed it to her nose, inhaling the increasingly faint scent of it and rubbing it lightly against her lips. She felt hot tears forming in her eyes as she set the little box aside and clutched Lexa's braid to her chest, curling up on her side and holding it as though it was still attached to Lexa somehow.

It made her think of a movie she'd seen on the Ark once. The girl had gotten swept away from her normal, boring little life into a beautiful, overwhelming, and sometimes downright scary world full of bright colors and strange creatures. Clarke had thought the girl was stupid for wanting so badly to go back to her bland, colorless world after seeing that one.

 

"If that was me, I'd never want to leave and go back to the stupid Ark," a young Clarke lisped around the pressed oat cookie she was eating, spraying crumbs everywhere.

Her dad smiled. "You wouldn't want to come back to me and your mom?"

Clarke blinked her big blue eyes and laid her head on his lap, sighing when he stroked her hair. "You could come, too. We could live where the flowers are." Her father, sensing her sadness, had picked her up easily, wrapping his strong arms around her as she curled against his chest, scratching his scruffy chin as she so often did when she sought comfort. "Daddy? Do you think I'll ever get to see a flower for real?"

He rocked her slowly, his voice soft and sincere. "I hope so, Princess."

 

Now that Clarke knew exactly where her home was she understood the girl's choice much better, and the part of herself that was still feeling the effects of the various substances she'd introduced into her body over the past few days wondered if she could rub Lexa's braid over her heart three times to get back where she truly belonged.

She lay there for several hours, fighting the temptation to sink back into sleep. She needed to get up, to hunt and feed herself. She'd promised Lexa.

 

Survive the day, live the night.

 

Clarke reluctantly put the braid back into the case and slid it inside her chest binding, resting it over her heart and ensuring it was completely secure in what her mother used to call "God's Pocket". She dug around in one of the trunks pressed to the wall of the rover for some clean clothes and the container of soap she'd made from ash and the fat of a couple squirrels she'd found awhile back.

She slid out of the rover, taking a burlap sheet with her and walking down the slope of burned-out trees to what remained of the massive lake next to what used to be Arkadia. She shed her clothes, noting that she'd come pretty close to ruining her pants and being thankful not for the first time in her life that underwear had been such a rare commodity on the Ark that she didn't even miss wearing it.

She pulled her long, greasy hair free of the thin leather strips she'd used to tie it up, wrinkling her nose a bit as she got a whiff of smoke and sweat, and hoped she hadn't smelled like while she was busy riding Lexa.

She piled her clean clothes on a nearby stump, carefully wrapping the Flame's case in her chest binding and setting it gingerly on top of the pile. She felt a pang of nerves as she always did when it wasn't pressed against her body; even as the last person on the planet, she had an irrational fear that if she wasn't clinging to it, it would disappear and take with it the only part of Lexa she still had in this world.

Clarke waded out into the lake, the water already incredibly warm under the morning's bright sun, and wasted no time in dunking herself under the water fully, running her fingers through the knots in her hair and working them out under the surface, tilting her head up so only her nose and mouth were out of the water.

She took her time, scrubbing her hair and every inch of her body vigorously. It had to have been at least a month since she'd washed up; just a few days after she'd watched the ship launch without her, her vision blurred by the intense radiation that she was sure would reduce her to ash in seconds.

When she felt relatively clean, she kicked her feet up and floated on her back, her eyes at half mast and the warm lap of the water in the gentle breeze rocking her lazily. She focused on relaxing her tight muscles one by one the way Raven had taught her to.

Slowly, she felt herself relaxing, and she let herself settle into the memory of last night. The Flame enhanced her recollection in a way that was so crisp and clear it was nearly too much. It was less like she was remembering Lexa's touch and more like she was watching a movie of them; a very hot movie.

Clarke closed her eyes the rest of the way, still floating on the waters surface as she ran her hand over her abdomen and slipped it between her legs, rubbing herself a little desperately as she pictured Lexa's eyes, consumed by her rapidly expanding pupils as she pushed Clarke's fingers deeper inside herself.

Her breathing got heavier as her tongue almost seemed to taste Lexa once more, and Clarke came mildly but quickly; just enough to release the last of the tension in her body.

As satisfied as possible for the moment, she glanced up the shore to make sure some animal wasn't digging in her stuff, but everything was as she'd left it. She rolled onto her stomach and stretched out before starting to swim. She didn't bother counting the laps; rather, she swam until every muscle in her body was on fire, her lungs were tight and spasming, and she was so exhausted she could barely see straight. She slowly made the last lap parallel to the shore before wading up to where she'd left her things.

Clarke paused, her brows furrowing when she saw the pile of clothes was on the ground next to the stump instead of on it. Suddenly panic filled her and she dropped to her knees in the dirt, digging through her belongings quickly, shaking with worry.

"Chof jok," she spat out, clutching the little case to her chest when she located it. Her pulse pounded in her ears. She'd had an insane moment of paranoia that there was someone else alive and they'd taken the only possession she actually cared about; that Lexa had been stolen from her once more. It hadn't felt all that windy on the lake, but she hadn't exactly been paying attention to the weather, either.

 She slowly stood, drying herself off with the part of the burlap that hadn't fallen in the dirt, and got dressed with one hand, too shaken to set the case down. Once she was clothed, she tucked the box back into her chestwrap and gathered her dirty clothes before heading back to the rover.

She was already beyond exhausted, but she'd felt several fish brush her legs, and she really did need to eat something; preferably something with some protein in it.

She grabbed a couple of coffee beans from her stash, popping them into her mouth as she loaded up her gear and descended the hill to the shore of the lake once more.

Chapter Text

Clarke sat beside the freshly stoked fire, picking between her teeth with a particularly thin bone from the large fish that gave her a renewed hope for the recovery of the planet eventually. The fish had been massive and healthy and most importantly, delicious. It had been a female to boot, heavy with roe that she was looking forward to having tomorrow, on some of the pressed-oat crackers she'd made while waiting for the fish to cook through.

It was going to be a mild night, judging from the stillness of the air. She thought she might sleep under the stars instead of curled in the rover. After a lifetime of being trapped inside all kinds of metal boxes, she preferred not to feel trapped inside the smallest one yet.

She stood slowly, popping her back a dozen times on the way up and smiling at the ghostly voice in her head.


 

"Jesusfuck, Clarke. Your back sounds worse than that piece of skrish engine of Raven's."

"Hey!" Raven said indignantly from where she lay on the ground, her aching leg propped up into Octavia's lap while Octavia worked her muscles for her exactly as Abby had instructed to keep Raven's useless muscles from atrophying completely and causing even more complications.

Clarke smirked at Octavia and purposely flexed her hands. Octavia's eyes widened a little. "Don't you dare." Clarke laced her fingers together in a slow, exaggerated fashion while Raven snickered. "Clarke, I swear I will kill you in your sleep if yo—" She went for it, popping every one of her knuckles in rapid-fire succession.

She and Raven guffawed helplessly as Octavia turned green and slammed her hands over her ears uselessly, the sound already hitting her.

Bellamy, who had returned with more wood for the fire, just shook his head. "The mighty Skairipa, who is afraid of a little joint gas buildup."

Raven laughed even harder as Octavia punched him in the knee a little harder than was necessary. To his credit, Bellamy merely winced. "I'm not afraid of it, ass. It's just disgusting, there's a difference. Kind of like how I'm afraid of your lousy taste in women, but you in general are just disgusting."

Bellamy set the wood down with a smirk. "I'll show you disgusting." Before he'd even finished the sentence, he'd turned his eyelids inside out, eliciting an indignant squeal from his sister.

"See what you started, Clarke?" she said with a disgruntled laugh.

Clarke quickly imitated Bellamy, flipping her eyelids out as well and doing her best goofy voice, "No, I can't see anything like this …"

Raven choked on her laughter, rolling out of her lap as Octavia stood up, glaring at all of them, but with an amused twinkle in her eye and the corners of her mouth subtly turned up. "I hate all of you so much right now. I'm on watch, so you better hope I don't accidentally let in an assassin  and tell 'em where your beds are or something."

Clarke blew a kiss at her as she sheathed the knife she'd been whittling with. Octavia responded with an overly obscene gesture and cocky grin as she left the fire pit.


 

Clarke took a deep breath, snapping herself out of her reverie and reminding herself that the three of them were still alive; they had to be. Just like her mother had to be, like Kane and Monty, Harper, Murphy, Emori, Echo, and Indra had to be. All of them were. Sure, they were trapped above the sky and below the floor; but still alive. She needed to believe that as much as she needed to believe that eventually she would figure out how to get all of them back.

There had to be a way to move the rubble of Polis Tower, she just hadn't thought of it yet; but she would. She would come up with a solution for this problem just like she always did.

She set about cleaning up the campsite a little, putting what was left over from cleaning the fish into a container so she could bait her traps in what was left of the forest tomorrow. She dragged the pile of burlap out of the rover onto the ground, setting up her bedroll close enough to the fire to keep her warm when the temperature dropped. She stretched out on her back, folding her tired arms behind her head and staring up at the stars while reciting the Traveler's Prayer aloud the way she did nightly; letting the faces of everyone she knew shuffle through her head.

As always, her voice cracked a little when she said, "May we meet again."

Clarke had worn herself out enough that she already felt herself being lulled to sleep without the need for any artificial assistance. She smiled lightly to herself as her body grew heavy and relaxed at the thought that she would be in Lexa's arms again any minute.

Instead, Clarke found herself inside her own memory. First she was breaking the glass on her isolation room in Mount Weather, her arm splitting open, blood dripping a thick trail as she dragged Maya down the hall. Then she was in the dorm, ripping her stitches out on the sharp metal edge of the bunk, a deep sense of satisfaction running through her; it was almost as good as telling that evil bitch of a doctor to go float herself sideways.

And then, finally, she was on her knees in the wasteland. Starving, dehydrated, and definitely going crazy. Screaming into the empty planet, feeling every ounce of strength she had ever had slip out of her. Leaving her nothing but a small, weak, broken little girl who was completely empty and had nothing left.

No family. No friends. No hope.

Take all that away, and what was left?

Nothing she wanted; that much was for sure.

Clarke pulled her knife from her thigh holster, the sobs coming from deep within her chest as she pressed the blade into the scar running up her wrist. She let out a guttural groan as the blade sliced easily through her flesh and the blood began flowing. She'd gone just a little more than an inch before she screamed, throwing the blade away from herself and grabbing her wrist, immediately applying pressure.

She was such a pathetic mess, she didn't even have the strength to put her misery to an end. She hunched over in the sand, allowing herself release scream after primal scream until she was so exhausted she couldn't even hold her body up anymore. In her delirium, she managed to kick her boot off and retrieve the sock from her foot. Using her teeth, she bound her wrist tightly before curling up on her side, hoping either sleep or death would come for her soon.

Chapter Text

The memory was still strong enough that her wrist ached as Lexa's bedroom became visible around her, and Clarke breathed a sigh of relief. If she had to relive pain, she'd rather relive her own than risk further interaction with the other Commanders.

Lexa—beautiful, smart, gentle Lexa—was lounging on the couch, surrounded by candles and flowers, and Clarke smiled widely when she saw her. "What's all this?"

Lexa glanced around, shrugging a little but smiling at her. "You tell me. We're in your head, not mine."

Clarke raised an eyebrow with interest. "So I'm controlling this?"

"Well, as much as any of us ever does," Lexa confirmed, glancing around before smiling again. "Peonies? How did you even know?"

Clarke smiled, joining her on the couch and wondering offhandedly how much control over the environment she actually had. "Lincoln told me. I was.. After we kissed, it was stupid, but I wanted to apologize. For not being ready for you, because I wanted so badly to be. So I asked him if he knew..." Lexa's face softened and then turned guilty when she remembered the reason she hadn't been given the flowers. "It's okay," Clarke reassured her knowingly. "Don't think about it. It doesn't matter anymore."

Lexa nodded a little and gazed around, her eyes settling on another flower that peppered the room. "Poppies? Those are from your.. Movie," The unfamiliar word felt strange in Lexa's mouth. She'd seen it in Clarke's memory, of course, but still could not fathom how such a thing worked. Small people in a box, performing the same actions and words over and over again?

Clarke smiled lightly, following her thoughts. "Trust me, even if you grow up with movies, they're still unbelievably weird. I don't understand how they work, either."

Lexa smiled and leaned over, kissing her shoulder. "Well, that makes me feel better."

"Good." Clarke nuzzled her lightly, running her fingertips over her arm. "Should we see what else my mind decided to bring in here?" Lexa nodded, and they stood together, their hands instinctively meeting as they went towards a table near the window.

Lexa's eyes grew wide when she saw what lay on it. "What's all this?"

Clarke's eyes widened as well, the word like a prayer on her breathless lips. "Paint?"

The long table had jars and jars of paint that Clarke could immediately tell was made from plant life. Blue woad, rose madder, bone char.. Colors she'd only ever seen in art history books on the Ark. Her chin trembled just slightly as she realized there was more than paint on the table. There were canvases, charcoal sticks, and an easel set up.

Lexa couldn't help herself; her eyes watered just a little when she saw the look of pure happiness on Clarke's face. She moved closer, sliding her hand over her arm and tracing the thick scar on her wrist with the tip of her thumb. Clarke relaxed back into her a little, her breathing a little shaky.

"Will you paint me something?" she asked softly.

"Yeah?" Clarke tilted her head back as much as she could, looking up at Lexa as her arms encircled her shoulders. She nodded. "Any specific requests?"

Lexa responded quietly. "Anything. I just want something that brings me to you when you're not here. Like what you have."

Clarke softened. "You saw that?" Lexa just held her a little tighter, knowing she hadn't really expected a response anyway. "Can I paint you?"

Lexa smiled a little. "It might be weird if I'm always staring at a picture of myself, don't you think?"

Clarke shook her head, turning in her arms to cup her cheeks gently. "It would be a picture of what I see when I look at you. You'd be able to look through my eyes no matter whose head we're in."

She leaned into Clarke, kissing her softly and without any of the urgency usually present. "Okay."


Clarke's face was very intense when she worked, as though nothing existed outside of herself and the brush in her hand. Lexa was reclined on the bed after Clarke had positioned and re-positioned her until they found a pose that was both comfortable and, in Clarke's words, "So fucking beautiful." Lexa wore nothing but a rich maroon tapestry draped strategically to protect her modesty. She felt content and sleepy, watching the candlelight flicker shadows on the wall and reflect off the loose blond waves that framed Clarke's face.

Her tongue peeked out of the corner of her lips as she glanced back and forth between the canvas and her. Lexa had lost track of how long they'd been at it, but her muscles were getting stiff and she felt like she might fall asleep if she didn't move soon. She rotated her shoulder gently, and Clarke set the brush down, cracking and popping her knuckles.

"Time for a break?" Lexa nodded, pushing herself up and nudging the pelt aside as Clarke joined her on the bed, affectionately tucking her hair behind her ear. Lexa sighed and reached over, taking her arm and gently running her fingertips over the thick scar on the inside of her wrist.

Clarke shifted a little uncomfortably. "Y-you don't have to do that. It's gross."

Lexa shook her head. "It can't be gross. It's part of you." She leaned over and softly kissed her way up the scar as Clarke's eyes watered. Lexa glanced up at her. "Is this okay?" Clarke nodded, the lump in her throat too thick for a verbal response. Lexa gently stroked her fingertips over it and Clarke watched, swallowing hard.

She'd known that she saw Lexa—the real Lexa, the one who was both light and dark, strong and messy, beautiful with a little ugly inside. What she hadn't thought about was that Lexa saw her, too; her own ugliness and mistakes.

In a way, love really was weakness, but Clarke didn't see why that had to be a negative thing. It took strength to put a wall between yourself and the rest of the world; to deny your own feelings and desires and sometimes even your needs. Letting yourself care about someone enough to be vulnerable and reveal your inner self to them was the weakest thing Clarke could think of. She wondered if any other Commanders had thought of it in that perspective before; that you had to be strong to survive, but weak to do more than just survive.

"Can you do something for me?"

The suddenness of Clarke's voice startled Lexa just a little, but then she smiled, still stroking the scar. "Posing naked for you all night wasn't enough?"

Clarke smiled as well. "Nope. I want more." Lexa lifted one eyebrow with a smirk. "Not that." She paused. "I mean, yes, I want that, too. I seem to remember something about me coming a lot, so don't think I forgot. But I want something else first."

"What's that, Klarke?"

Clarke closed her eyes briefly at the click of her name, but shook it off quickly. She held her scarred arm up a little. "There's tattoo stuff on the table, too. If I draw it, can you ink it?"

Lexa smiled widely. "Really?" Clarke nodded and leaned over, kissing her softly. She knew it was a huge honor, particularly in Trikru, if someone asked you to do their tattoo or scarification. It was a level of trust beyond braiding someone's hair and a level of intimacy that reached significantly farther than even sex did.

Clarke kissed her again before retrieving the necessary supplies for the process.

"What will it be?" Lexa asked, peering over her back to see what she was drawing.

When she realized what it was, Lexa swallowed hard and kissed her cheek, resting her chin on her shoulder and taking a shaky breath.

Chapter Text

Clarke’s brilliant blue eyes stared back at her, full of tears and horrified shock. A light jostle from a guard followed by a murmured apology reminded Lexa that she was—as always—on display; the center of everyone’s enraptured attention. Heda swallowed back her own tears and shoved Lexa deeper within herself. Her jaw clenched around an apology that she meant far more than her tone indicated. With her voice wavering slightly, Heda stuffed the words she wanted to give to Clarke even deeper within herself than she’d put Lexa, and felt her lips form around hope instead.

 

“May we meet again.”

 

Lexa watched as the deep cerulean turned dull, Clarke’s eyes growing glassy and unseeing. Her body soaked in blood and hands clenched in pain as she coughed out her last breath. Lexa reached for her; screamed her name. But her panicked voice did not stop the final twitches as the last of Clarke’s nerves fired off like an honor guard to mark her passing from this world.

 

Lexa’s outstretched hands grabbed nothing but ash as Clarke’s remains slid to the ground between her fingers. She gasped an anguished cry into the night and the universe ignored her.

 

Octavia stared at her accusingly, her eyes dark with betrayal, voice hollow. “We trusted you, Heda.”

 

Lincoln’s face was gaunt and pale, blood streaked across his forehead. “I thought we were all your people.”

 

Marcus of the Sky People, his face soft and sad as he spoke with a roughly accented tongue, “Oso congeda ste shada, Leksa kom Trikru.. Chomouda yu ste dula dison op gon osir?”

 

“Murderer,” came a breathy whisper from cracked lips below empty whitened eyes that glowed with betrayal. Clarke’s body was back and climbing slowly to its feet, approaching Lexa with an accusatory glare. “I tried to save your people and you killed mine. You killed me.”

 

Lexa backed up slowly as Clarke came closer, her tongue thick with fear and regret. “I’m so sorry, Klark, I—”

 

Shof op,” Clarke snapped. Her skin had a grey pallor and was cracked in places where her flesh had already begun to decay and fall apart. “I don’t want to hear any more lies.”

 

Lexa took another step back towards the edge of the cliff, swallowing hard. “It is the truth.”

 

“Like when you said you cared about me? Was that the truth, or is it the truth that you abandoned me? Left me to die, alone?” Clarke’s ghostly face sneered.

 

The soft earth gave way beneath Lexa’s heels, and she cried out as she slid off the cliff’s edge, her hands scrambling for purchase in the muddy silt. Clarke crouched, slamming her hands over Lexa’s and holding them tightly.

 

“Please,” Lexa gasped, her legs swinging in the open air. She tried not to think of the distance she would fall if she could not hold on.

 

“Should I do what you didn’t, Heda?” Clarke’s nails dug deeply into her arms, drawing forth thick black nightblood, as she slid a bit further over the edge. “Should I save you, as though you deserve it?”

 

Beja, Clarke, please—” Lexa’s eyes grew even wider as she slid another inch closer to death.

 

Clarke leaned forward, her dull lifeless hair surrounding Lexa’s face like a curtain, and Lexa breathed a sigh of relief as she came closer. Clarke’s chapped lips brushed against her tender earlobe briefly as she whispered, “May we meet again..”

 

Clarke let go, and Lexa screamed, flailing her scratched arms wildly as she tumbled down, and down, and down..

 

 

Lexa awoke as she often did in the days that followed the un-fought Battle of the Mountain; drenched in sweat, tangled in her bedding, her heart pounding. Tears on her cheeks and Clarke’s name on her tongue.

 

She cupped her hands over her face and let out a quiet sob. She had not slept much since the Mountain, and when she did manage to fall asleep, her mind would not allow her to stay that way for long. 

 

It was still dark outside, but with a dewy smell that indicated morning and the sun would soon arrive. 

 

Morning would come and weak, pathetic, broken Lexa would have to hide away once more. Lexa was not who her people needed and not who they saw. If they saw past the armor, the warpaint, the set jaw and tightly woven braids—if they saw past Heda—they would not follow her. And frankly, she could not blame them for that. 

 

Lexa was but a girl; a child still, in many ways. Weak and wanting, bewildered by the overwhelming infinities of life and war and leadership. Lexa was lonely and frightened and must never, ever be seen by Heda’s people. 

 

But somehow from the moment Clarke kom Skaikru had looked her in the eye, it was clear that she saw Lexa—shattered, worthless little thing that she was—and not Heda. That she did not fear Heda and, perhaps even more surprising, that she did not find Lexa lacking by comparison. 

 

Sometimes, in her most daring daydreams, Lexa entertained the imagining that Clarke even preferred soft, sad Lexa. And maybe, maybe someday.. could love her.

 

Before the Mountain, anyway. Clarke was certainly dead, along with the rest of Skaikru and whatever had been left of stupid little Lexa, too. 

 

There was only Heda now; Heda and the burned-out ashes of what might have been but would never be. Heda and the scorched remains of hope. 

 

The concrete floor was almost unbearably cold beneath her bare feet as she shuffled silently towards her washroom.

 

Her face was thinner now; nearly gaunt. Her eyes ringed in red and darkened from lack of sleep. Her eyes were no longer bright because, she thought, she had seen too much darkness—so much that the meager light inside herself had burned itself out.

 

She prepared herself for the day robotically, feeling numb and empty. She stared at the crumbling grout on the wall as handmaidens sorted the complex latticework of her braids and dressed her. With each buckle that slid shut and each braid that was tied off, she felt herself shifting. The numbness faded slightly; the emptiness filled with the sharp tongue and calculating, ruthless mind her people so often spoke of.

 

The ornate box was set on the vanity and the young girls who believed it an honor to attend to her in this manner hurried out the door; this last part was ritualistic, and for the Commander’s ears and eyes only. 

 

She ran her fingers over the jeweled lid and metallic latch, tarnished by age, and slowly opened it. Her fingers wrapped around the delicate disc within and balanced it carefully on a single fingertip, eyeing the bronzed helm.

 

It was warm to her touch as always—even in the harshest of winter mornings in Azgeda territory. 

 

Her voice was barely audible as she whispered to it in reverence. 

 

Meija memon-de.

Ai pudon op fou’em’s yongons.

Ai shil ai presh shimon op.

En oso ogeda, ai soulou ste yuj.

Ai fig ai op,

Ai don hon op uf nou ste seimon laik ain.”

 

She pressed the small helm to her lips briefly before lifting it to her forehead, feeling the Flame’s magnetic pull tug it taught against the skin of her brow.

 

The helm and Heda, locked firmly in place and ready to face whatever problems would be thrown at her feet on this day.

 

It was a long morning. 

 

By the time lunch rolled around, Lexa was grateful for the glass of mead that accompanied it. With honeyed undertones and the bite of spice, it warmed her from within and dulled her feelings slightly further. 

 

She watched from behind the large stein as a messenger spoke with Ryder in the hall, her eyes narrowing as his face grew serious. A knot began to form in the pit of her stomach as he turned towards her with a solemn look and began to approach.

 

Heda, moba— but I—” he shifted a bit nervously from one foot to the other, and Lexa grew impatient quickly.

 

“Just tell me,” Lexa snapped, trying to hide her nerves. Azgeda was up to something again, surely, or perhaps Trikru and Trishanakru had engaged in border discussions again, or Floukru had—

 

“It’s Klark kom Skaikru,” Ryder said, the nervousness in his eyes betraying the false confidence in his voice. “Heda, she lives.”

 

The throne room dropped out of view as Lexa’s world shattered behind and before her eyes.

 

 

Lexa stood on the balcony, looking out over the land. Over her land. The land where, somewhere just outside Podakru territory, Clarke had been spotted at an outpost. 

 

She had sent scouts and a guard with a particularly talented hand for charcoal to find her—to observe her, only. To make sure it truly was her.

 

Lexa had to know.

 

The room had grown small after the order and neither Lexa nor Heda could breathe within it’s tightening walls. 

 

Clarke was alive.

 

The people called her Wanheda now; the Commander of Death. Whispered voices already told the tale of how she had slain the Mountain by the fireside. Lexa knew that soon enough, the story of Wanheda vs. The Mountain would be the most-requested bedtime story among the land’s children. 

 

She had briefly checked in on the natblidas and overheard Aden calling Mika Wanheda as they dueled outside an imaginary mountain, right before Mika put him on the ground. Her practice sword pressed to his throat, she had announced to the others that the Mighty Wanheda was once again victorious.

 

It made Lexa’s stomach tighten and she had found herself back in her private quarters getting sick. The soured stench of spiced honey mead filled the room and she found herself wandering aimlessly down a hallway until Ryder and Titus located her.

 

The Commander was clearly off, and they could not have her milling about Polis like a damaged commoner. They’d brought her back into the throne room and watched in dismay as she began pacing the balcony with a sick look on her face.

 

When she would not respond to either of them, Titus made the executive decision to bring in someone she might actually speak to.

 

Heda?”

 

Lexa shut her eyes tightly at the overly familiar voice, swallowing hard.

 

Indra stood several feet from her, at a respectful attention; but her gaze was soft. 

 

Heda, may I—” Lexa found herself nodding; found herself wanting the company. 

 

Indra’s posture relaxed a bit as she leaned against the balcony railing beside her, but remained quiet. Lexa was alternately thankful and full of regret that the combination of Indra’s steady gaze and silent patience was so cleverly adept at drawing her out from beneath Heda.

 

“She’s alive,” Lexa said needlessly, gazing over the railing.

 

Indra nodded slightly. “So I’ve heard.”

 

“They’ll want to kill her now. The other leaders. They will imagine I am weak and they will want her power.”

 

“Not all of them,” Indra responded, turning to face the overview of Polis as well. 

 

Lexa cringed internally, her knuckles whitening as she gripped the railing tighter with calloused fingers. “Queen Nia will.”

 

“Perhaps a few others,” Indra acquiesced, but they both knew better. She heaved a sigh and studiously avoided Lexa’s gaze as she continued. “Nia will want her for the same reason she wanted Costia. Because she is close to you, because it will weaken you.”

 

Lexa shut her eyes tightly, her voice sounding small and childish even to her own ears as she murmured. “I cannot be any weaker than this.”

 

All formalities forgotten for the moment, Indra approached and wrapped her arms around the deceptively small Commander, hugging her a bit awkwardly, but warmly. Lexa melted slightly in her grasp; felt herself finally falling apart as the mask slipped away. “Love is weakness,” she protested quietly into Indra’s shoulder, but did not pull back in the slightest.

 

“I loved Costia, too, as my own daughter.” Indra’s voice was soft and firm; at once gentle but wise. “I loved Anya and Octavia as you must—and should and always will—love your second.” She pulled back slightly to look into wide green eyes full of unshed tears. “I love you still, Leksa. I still see the child who would wake before the sun and dash barefoot through TonDC to wake the squirrels every morning.” Indra smiled slightly, cupping her chin gently. “Does that make me weak? That I remember that with happiness in my heart?”

 

Lexa swallowed hard, slowly shaking her head as Indra continued. “Who we must be to survive, to fight a war, to train a second or to.. To let go of a child’s hand when all we want is to protect them..” Indra paused then, swallowing hard herself and closing her eyes briefly. She did not let go, and Lexa couldn’t help it. She found herself laying her head against Indra’s shoulder as though she were that child once more. 

 

“Gaia is strong,” she whispered into tarnished armor, and Indra’s jaw tightened slightly as she nodded almost imperceptibly and rubbed Lexa’s back.

 

“Strong-willed, for certain,” Indra said lightly, but the slight shake in her voice betrayed her. “Hopelessly stubborn—a born rebel.”

 

Lexa smiled ever so slightly. “Clarke is the same, I fear.”

 

“Do not fear it, Leksa. It is what keeps them alive, with or without us.”

 

Lexa sighed and looked out over the thick forest that surrounded them and, somewhere beneath it, concealed the girl from the stars who had stolen Lexa’s heart so swiftly she’d barely realized it had gone missing. She gently released Indra and shook her head. “It will not keep her alive if Nia finds her.”

 

Indra didn’t respond; didn’t need to. She watched silently as the wheels turned behind Lexa’s bright eyes, as she worked out the situation and calculated the various scenarios that might play out and, as expected, quickly arrived at a method to achieve the result she wanted.

 

“A bounty.” Lexa’s whisper was quiet but unimaginably firm. She had decided, and she nodded, a small smile playing across her lips as she looked away briefly. 

 

“A bounty.”

 

Indra smiled and rested a proud hand on Lexa’s shoulder. 

 

“Yes, Heda.”

 

 

Lexas heart skipped a beat—perhaps more than one—when she was informed of Prince Roan’s arrival with a delivery for her. Could it be? Already? She had only issued the bounty perhaps a week or two ago; spoken with Roan about his request for an alternative reward mere days ago.

 

And yet..

 

Dirty golden locks emerged from beneath the burlap sack and rested on tattered clothing that clung to a familiar shape. 

 

Lexa watched Clarke twisting in his grasp, growling and snarling at him like a feral animal as he pushed her to her knees. Lexa felt something inside her snap when he put his hands on her in that way, and she took a steadying breath. People were watching, as usual. As always. She had to retain some semblance of Heda—on the outside, at least. 

 

She hadn’t really intended to break her deal with Roan. He had, after all, just proven his loyalty to her over his mother. But when she saw Clarke’s wounds, something dark tightened in her chest and she decided he would be punished. At least, until she felt less like punching the cocky look off his face, anyway. Un-banishment could always come later.

 

The guards pulled Clarke to her feet and Lexa tried not to waver as she dismissed everyone. She pretended not to notice the glance Indra and Titus shared in her peripheral, but felt her cheeks flush briefly. She waited for the sound of the door clicking closed before allowing her eyes to meet Clarke’s angry gaze. 

 

Anger. Betrayal. Hate. It all burned behind her brilliant blues, her emotions fully on display in that way that made Lexa feel warm and uncomfortable and tenderly vulnerable all at once. She gently pulled the gag from Clarke’s chapped lips, her nervous fingers fumbling with it briefly.

 

“I’m sorry. That it had to be this way.” Clarke’s breathing grew more labored, her brow furrowed tightly and jaw clenched. “I had to ensure Wanheda didn’t fall into the hands of the Ice Queen.” Lexa had meant it as a sort of wry joke, but Clarke’s eyes flashed with renewed anger and Lexa swallowed hard.

 

“War is brewing, Klark.” She held Clarke’s enraged glare, her voice taking an overly meaningful tone—one she hoped would make clear that she meant her next words in every possible sense. 

 

“I need you.”

 

Lexa didn’t know what she’d expected in response. A laugh of disbelief, perhaps. An obscenity-laced rant, no doubt. Maybe even a cold left hook that she was positive she deserved and had already sworn to herself she would not return.

 

She did not expect Clarke to spit in her face and howl, “You bitch!”

 

She’d barely registered what had just happened before the guards were dragging this writhing, feral, mad version of Clarke towards the door. Her voice was dangerously wild as she screamed her way out the door and down the hall.

 

“You wanted the Commander of Death, you got her! I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you!”

 

Shaken, Lexa turned away from the door. She halfheartedly wiped away the saliva that was now mixing with a tear she could not afford to shed, and tried not to hear the enraged howling of the girl she’d destroyed as it echoed through the halls and filtered back in through the windows.

 

She stepped out to the balcony once more and swallowed hard as she looked over Polis and beyond, and slowly realized that there would be no forgiveness for her. Clarke would hate her forever, maybe longer. Given the chance, she would probably kill her.

 

Given the chance, Lexa thought now that she might let her.

 

Stubbornly, she ignored the tears that came more freely now. They tracked down her cheeks, dripped beneath her shirt, and dried cold and stiff on her skin in the early evening air. They came faster the more she let slip past, and she made no attempt to wipe them nor the remnants of Clarke’s hatred off her face; not yet.

 

There was no one around to see them anyway.

 

 

 

“Lexa..” Clarke was looking at her. Her voice was gentle as ever, her face haunted by what she’d just seen.

 

Lexa cringed and put her hand over her face, groaning softly. “I didn’t mean t—”

 

“I know,” Clarke said softly. She moved closer, the fresh tattoo ink still wet. “Come here.”

 

Lexa pressed her lips together, looking back at her with shame in her eyes, but allowed Clarke to gently pull her closer. Clarke pressed her own lips to Lexa’s head, swaying with her slowly and wrapping her arms around her comfortingly.

 

They sat quietly for a moment with eyes closed, breathing each other in. The silence was broken when Clarke let out a soft chuckle. Lexa opened her eyes and tilted her head to look at her curiously. 

 

Clarke shook her head, a slight smile on her lips and a gentle mirth in her tone. “I can’t believe I actually spit in your face.”

 

Lexa laughed softly as well. “I deserved it.”

 

Clarke shrugged a little and rested back against the headboard, guiding Lexa to sit back against her. Her arms came around to hold her snugly and Lexa slid her hands over her forearms, holding them tighter against her. She reveled in Clarke’s warmth and another breathy chuckle, soaking in it. She admired the thin lines of the sacred symbol that now crossed elegantly over the center of the thick scar running down Clarke’s forearm, mirroring the tattooed scar on the back of her own neck.

 

Clarke watched her quietly as she traced the contours of the scar lazily. Her face was turned just slightly so she could breathe in the scent of Lexa's hair. She couldn't remember the last time she felt this peaceful; this relaxed.

 

“Do you think it will still be here when I wake up?" she asked softly. 

 

Lexa shook her head a bit. "I'm not sure. But it is.. unlikely.”

 

Clarke closed her eyes and swallowed hard, pressing her cheek to Lexa’s temple. “I wish I didn't have to wake up at all. Just stay here with you. We could disappear together.”

 

Lexa quivered and held her tighter, feeling her resolve and common sense both failing her in that moment.

 

“I wish that, too,” she admitted quietly, sliding her fingers between Clarke’s and lifting her arm to lay a gentle kiss against her palm. “I wish.. many things were different.”

 

“But they’re not,” Clarke sighed, watching their entwined fingers rest against Lexa’s lips.

 

“No,” Lexa agreed softly and unnecessarily. “Things are not different, and the sun will rise soon.”

 

Clarke’s voice took on a heartbreaking, childish quality as she whispered, “I don’t want to say goodbye.”

 

“It is not goodbye. It is.. goodbye, for now.”

 

Clarke buried her face in Lexa’s hair, trying to hide the sadness in her barely audible voice as she murmured, “May we meet again.”

 

Lexa nodded firmly, curling more tightly into her. 

 

“We will.”