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Book II: Brave New World

Chapter Text

I'm waking up at the start of the end of the world,

But its feeling just like every other morning before,

Now I wonder what my life is going to mean if it's gone,

Can you tell me what was ever really special about me all this time?

But I believe the world is burning to the ground

Oh well, I guess we're gonna find out

- Matchbox 20, 'How Far We've Come'

 

 

There was a lot going on in Lexa's head, making it very hard for her to focus on the sword coming at her. She just barely managed to block it before swinging her own. She expected him to block or parry as well, but when he leaned back quickly, letting her sword zoom right over him, she stumbled with the force of her swing hitting nothing. She caught her balance and beamed back at her opponent with pride as she lowered her sword.

"Bos, Aden! That's the key: you must anticipate their moves before they make them."

Aden's cheeks reddened as a bashful smile took over his face. Lexa glanced across the way, feeling the increasingly frequent tug inside her mind as she watched Luna introducing the other natblidas to spear fighting.

 

This is the future of the Commander's world?
The coward and the traitor training the next generation to
go against everything the Commander stands for, too?
The human race is better off dead than in these hands.

 

The past Commanders in her head had never been so overwhelming. Normally they only came to her in her sleep—in her dreams and memories—or when she actively sought them through Mensfigwon. Lately, though, they had been considerably more active, both while she slept and while she was awake. She was beginning to feel like she was never alone in her head anymore and it was both confusing and exhausting.

Clarke sat at a picnic bench just to the side of the south yard. She was going over a large stack of papers and maps with a tablet in one hand, pouring over it all with Raven and Gaia, who was paging through the journal of Bekka Pramheda. It had been just over a month since they confirmed that Praimfaya would once again sweep the planet, at least twice as hungry and destructive as it had been the first time.

Gaia handed Raven the journal as she stood and clapped, calling out, "Miya, natblidas! Sanch!"

As the kids raced for the remaining tables, Aden took a detour, heading towards Clarke and hesitating a few yards away when he saw she was busy. He was just starting to turn away when Clarke, feeling eyes on her, looked up from the tablet and smiled. "Hai yun, Aden?"

Aden bowed his head to her shyly, his freckled cheeks aglow. "Skaiplana, I won my duel against Heda."

Clarke set the tablet down, smiling even more. "That's great, Aden." She leaned forward, crinkling her nose and whispering conspiratorially to him, "She's gonna be all grumpy now, you know."

Aden's cheeks reddened even more as he hid a giggle behind his hand.

"Aden, miya!" Gaia called out, her eyebrows raised sternly.

"Bye, Skaiplana."

"Later, Aden." Clarke waved her fingers at him, smiling as she turned back around to see Raven was looking up at her from across the table. "What?"

"He's got a little crush on you, Skaiplana."

Clarke made a face. "You're ridiculous. God, that name's really not going anywhere, is it?"

"Definitely not, "Lexa piped up from behind her, joining them at the table and leaning over to kiss her cheek. "My queen. How are you doing with.." She gestured at the pile of scrolls on the table. "All of this?"

Clarke sighed softly, leaning into her a little. "Not nearly as well as Aden."

"I wouldn't necessarily say that," Raven piped up, turning the journal around to face them. "Lexa, do you recognize this?"

Lexa leaned over and pulled the journal closer, furrowing her brows as she studied the hand-drawn map. It seemed familiar, but she couldn't fully comprehend it. She felt as if she were looking at it through a shroud; faintly recognizable, but too dark and blurry for her to completely understand. She felt both Clarke and Raven's eyes on her as she struggled to make sense of it, unconsciously rubbing her temple.

She rubbed her forehead tiredly, letting out an aggravated sigh. "I feel like I do, but I can't place it."

"It's okay, Heda," Clarke said softly, reaching out to rub her back comfortingly.

Lexa pushed the journal away with mildly more force than was necessary, her voice and muscles tensed with frustration as she leaned just out of Clarke's reach. "No. It is not okay, Clarke. This could help us."

Clarke and Raven exchanged a look across the table as Octavia approached and dropped into the seat beside Raven, straddling the bench and setting a large basket on the table. "Pencils down, bitches. It's time for a lunch break."

Raven smirked a little. "Don't let Gaia hear you talking to Heda like that, you'll give the poor girl a heart attack."

Clarke instinctively reached out to pat Lexa's back, but stopped herself at the last moment. When Lexa was in this kind of mood, her shows of affection were more often than not unwelcome; something she tried to be aware of and not be hurt by. They'd only just barely gotten to the point of feeling comfortable enough with each other for those little gestures, when Lexa had instead begun rejecting Clarke's touch in her moments of emotional discord.

Instead, Clarke fished out an apple and held it out to her. "Here, you'll feel better after you eat something. Maybe even think more clearly with some sugar in you."

"No. I won't, and my thinking is just fine," Lexa snapped, standing up from the table and shoving the journal away roughly. She winced briefly when the headache she'd begun to get intensified, causing a throbbing that felt like it was vibrating her entire skull. "I will feel better when we stop being useless and figure this skrish out." With that, she turned on her heel and headed towards the tower entrance, ignoring the hurt look on Clarke's face and the concerned looks on everyone else's.

Octavia watched her go and, once she was out of earshot, turned to Clarke and Raven. "It's getting worse." Clarke nodded in silent agreement, swallowing hard as she watched Lexa's retreating figure worriedly. "What set her off this time?"

Raven pulled the map back to her side of the table and slid it in front of Octavia. "She said she recognized it, but couldn't place it. We need to figure out where this is."

Octavia grabbed an apple from the basket and took a bite, furrowing her brows as she studied the map. "Why?"

"We think it might be where Becca's lab was. If it's still there.." Raven trailed off, also helping herself to an apple.

"I think this is just outside Sector 4. See these markings here? I think this is a stretch of desert, full of old solar panels. Lincoln and I pass about a half mile outside it on the way to Sangedakru territory."

Raven looked at her dubiously. "You can see it from half a mile away?"

"When the sun hits them from overhead, it reflects for miles."

Clarke had remained silent throughout the exchange, totally zoned out as she stared in the direction Lexa had left in. She didn't snap out of it until Raven reached across the table and patted her wrist lightly. "She'll be okay, Clarke. She's just under a lot of stress right now. We all are."

"Yeah. Yeah, I know." Clarke's response was barely more than a whisper, obviously not buying into that theory. "Excuse me." She stood and set the tablet down, heading in the direction Lexa had gone, her face a mask of concern.

She felt fairly guilty for abandoning them, especially when they might have just found the most important and helpful information yet, but she couldn't sit there talking about maps and Becca and the end of the world when Lexa was in that kind of state.

All Lexa would tell her was that the past Commanders were more present; that they were unhappy with her choices. She didn't say it specifically, but Clarke knew the choices that angered them most certainly included herself and their shared quest for peace and alternatives to blood having blood. The clenched jaw and knit brow that usually accompanied the chorus of voices in her head had been happening more frequently, as had her headaches. Frankly, Clarke had more than a few concerns about what was going on inside Lexa's head these days, both mentally and physically. For not the first time since she learned of the Flame and its purpose, it scared the hell out of her.

Clarke took a deep breath as she headed up to the Commanders suite they now shared, trying not to be self conscious as people paused in the halls to bow to her. She simply didn't have enough mental real estate to deal with her apparent new role in Polis Tower; one that was worlds away from the prisoner she'd been here not all that long ago.

Lately, even Lexa's frequent reminders that the Flame couldn't hurt her or control her weren't enough to reassure Clarke that everything would be okay. Actually, Clarke found herself becoming more and more convinced that nothing was going to be okay. If the headaches were any indication (rather than the coincidence Lexa claimed them to be), that meant the Flame actually could hurt her.

In fact, it already was.

Chapter Text

My demons are begging me to open up my mouth

I need them, mechanically make the words come out

They fight me, vigorous and angry, watch them pounce

Ignite me, licking up the flames they bring about

Hold me down, hold me down

Throw me in the deep end, watch me drown

Knock me out, knock me out

Saying that I want more, this is what I live for

Selfish, taking what I want and call it mine

I'm helpless, clinging to a little bit of spine

They rush me, telling me I'm running out of time

They shush me, walking me across a fragile line

- Halsey, 'Hold Me Down'

 

 

Lexa had pulled all of the curtains shut, trying to block out as much of the bright afternoon sun as possible. She'd taken off everything but her underwear and put on a shirt that belonged to Clarke before climbing into bed. The small vial of peppermint oil she'd put on her temples was set aside but within reach, and she was resting with her eyes closed, the Flame blessedly quiet for the moment and her headache just starting to ease.

She hadn't been resting long when she heard the door open. It was Clarke, of course. No one else would ever dare enter the Commander's bedchamber without first knocking and receiving permission. Even before it was their shared room, Clarke never waited for permission to enter—in fact, Clarke seldom waited for permission for anything, a trait which Lexa usually found endearing.

"Lexa?" she said softly when she saw her resting with her eyes closed. "You awake?"

Lexa opened her eyes, glancing over at her. "Yes." She bit her lower lip. "I'm sorry for snapping at you like that."

Clarke closed the door behind her. "It's okay."

"It's not okay," she responded quietly.

"Well, it's not a big deal, either. There's a lot going on and we're all stressed out." Clarke made her way to the bed, sitting on the edge of it and smiling when she saw the 'Earth Day 2052' shirt Lexa was wearing. "That shirt looks good on you." She reached out, idly running her fingertips over her chest where the logo began. "Like, really good."

Lexa smiled a little, already starting to feel the last vestiges of grumpiness fading away under Clarke's gentle touch. "You say that every time I wear something of yours."

Clarke scooted back a bit, folding one leg beneath herself on the bed and continuing to trace her fingertips lightly over the text and, by extension, Lexa's breasts. "I like seeing you wear my clothes."

"If you keep doing that, they'll be on the floor instead of on me." Lexa sighed softly as Clarke's fingers wandered lazily.

"You say that like it's supposed to be a deterrent."

Lexa's eyes closed briefly when Clarke circled her nipple lightly through the thin fabric. "I take it back, then. I would hate for you to misinterpret it."

Clarke smiled and leaned over to kiss her, pausing a few inches away. "You smell like peppermint. Another headache?"

"Not anymore," came the dismissive response. Clarke bit her lower lip, frowning, and Lexa opened her eyes, her voice soft but firm as she cupped her cheek. "I am fine, Klark. Ai swega em klin."

"It's really not fair that you're trying to distract me by saying my name that way, you know." Clarke turned her face in Lexa's palm, kissing it softly.

Lexa stuck her lower lip out playfully, pouting at her. "I am not. If I was trying to distract you, I have much more effective ways to do that." She let go of Clarke's head and pushed herself up a bit, tugging her shirt off and dropping it aside.

Clarke inhaled a sharp intake of air as her bare breasts came into view and groaned a little. "Now you're just playing dirty, Leksa.."

"Shof op and kiss me already."

Clarke couldn't resist her any more than she could grow wings and fly away in that moment. She pressed her lips to hers, Lexa's tongue already seeking out her own. She slid her hand over her small breast, lightly rolling her hardened nipple between her fingers. Lexa moaned softly as she laid back once more, pulling Clarke down with her.

Clarke stretched out against her, sucking gently on her tongue and fitting her hips firmly against hers. Lexa's fingers wound through blonde locks, wrapping her legs around hers and pulling her as close as possible. They kissed hungrily, Clarke shifting just enough to press her hipbone between her thighs, drawing a longer moan from her.

Lexa's hips rose off the bed, trying to press herself against Clarke and breaking the kiss to gasp in a breath. Her lips lingered against Clarke's and she mumbled into her mouth, "Use them.."

A shudder ran through Clarke at the huskiness in her voice and she reluctantly separated from Lexa, shifting onto her knees over her. She grabbed the leather cuffs that were already secured to their headboard and Lexa lifted her arms above her head so Clarke could secure the buckles around her narrow wrists. Lexa watched with hooded eyelids, shivering unconsciously at the familiar feel of the cuffs tightening.

Clarke slid back down her body slowly, purposely rubbing against her every inch of the way before climbing off her, pausing to take her in for a moment. Lexa's underwear was already transparent with her need, and it took every ounce of self control Clarke had not to press her mouth against her dripping center then and there as she pulled the soaked cloth down her legs.

Lexa spread her legs apart as far as possible, her hips twitching slightly as Clarke secured her ankles to the cuffs looped around the foot of the bed. After she tightened the buckles there, Clarke stepped back and slowly ran her eyes up her body appreciatively.

Tied spread-eagle to their bed, her arousal already dripping down from her swollen lips to the sheet beneath her, Lexa looked at once vulnerable and, somehow, more powerful than ever. Clarke unconsciously ran her tongue over her lips with a shaky sigh as she began undressing.

Lexa watched as each part of Clarke was slowly exposed, her hips jerking slightly in anticipation. She was already uncomfortably wet, and the damp spot beneath her ass only grew when Clarke kicked off her underwear, revealing the glistening folds between her own thighs as well.

Clarke stepped closer, sliding her hands up Lexa's thighs as she climbed back into the bed and straddled Lexa's tightly bound body. She positioned herself on her abdomen, briefly rubbing herself against the expanse of skin below her navel. Lexa moaned deeply, pulling her wrists against the bindings already.

"See anything you like?" Clarke teased her, sliding herself against her slowly until she was straddling Lexa just below her breasts, ensuring she had a good view between her thighs.

"Yes.. Very much.." Lexa nodded quickly, her gaze glued to the dripping lips and swollen clit before her, feeling herself practically salivating with desire.

Clarke smiled coyly at her, grabbing the headboard with one hand for balance and sliding the other over herself, her fingers sliding easily through her folds and circling her clit slowly. Lexa moaned deeply, already regretting her request for the cuffs. All she wanted to do was rip her arms free; replace Clarke's fingers with her own and rub her swollen clit until she came hard enough to rattle the bed against the wall.

Clarke eased two fingers inside herself, moving them slowly back and forth as her hips began thrusting in time with her hand, just a few inches from Lexa's slightly open mouth. Clarke gathered as much of her arousal as she could on her fingers and brought them to her lips. Lexa enthusiastically ran her tongue over them, moaning again at the taste of Clarke. She wrapped her lips around her fingers, her tongue seeking out every drop gratefully.

Lexa let out a soft whine of protest when Clarke pulled her fingers free and slid them back inside herself.

"You're awfully needy today, Leksa."

"I just need you," she responded, tugging against her bonds.

"Okay." A wicked smile overtook Clarke's face as she once more pulled her fingers free. Lexa's lips parted instinctively, but instead Clarke turned slightly and reached behind herself, running the same fingers through Lexa's dripping slit. Lexa's body arched hard against the mattress and she gasped Clarke's name breathlessly, her walls fluttering and clamping down on her fingers tightly.

Clarke slowly fucked her fingers back and forth in Lexa, unconsciously grinding her clit against her abdomen in the same rhythm. Her arousal left a glistening streak on Lexa's skin as it poured out of her. Lexa struggled against her bindings, thrusting and trying to drive Clarke's fingers deeper inside her, her clit seeking pressure Clarke wasn't interested in giving her just yet. Lexa moaned in need, but Clarke merely released the headboard and set her hand on Lexa's breast instead, pinching her painfully hard nipple and rolling it slowly.

"Klark," Lexa whined, tugging hard enough against the cuffs that her wrists would definitely bruise. "I need you.."

Clarke slid her fingers free once more, drawing a petulant whine from Lexa as she leaned forward, her voice a husky whisper. "What do you need? Tell me what you want me to do, Lexa."

Lexa looked into her eyes with blown out pupils, her cheeks red and her chest heaving with her labored breath. "Y-your fingers. I want them.." She faltered a bit, her voice shaky.

Clarke cupped her cheek gently. "Where?"

Lexa swallowed hard, steadying herself. "Inside me, I want you inside me."

Clarke smiled, sliding her hand between them and working her fingers slowly past Lexa's entrance once more. Lexa let out a long, low moan as Clarke's fingers settled as deeply as they could go, and stayed there. She gave a soft moan of protest, her hips lifting and trying to push down against her hand.

"Okay. I'm inside you."  Her smile had turned wicked once more and Lexa bit her lip, blushing deeply when she realized Clarke was waiting for further instructions.

Lexa's voice was thick with arousal as she finally relaxed into the headspace Clarke was creating for her. "Fuck me, hodnes. I-I want to feel you moving inside me, touch me, make me come for you.."

It was Clarke who moaned long and loud this time, feeling a fresh wave of wetness run out of her all over Lexa's already soaked stomach. It drove her crazy when Lexa was able to let go to this degree; to forget herself and let her thoughts release for Clarke as easily as her arousal did.

Clarke rode her slowly, her breathing shallow and uneven. "How do you want to come, niron? On my fingers or in my mouth? Should I keep fucking you like this, or put my tongue in your pussy instead?"

Lexa shuddered at the filth coming from Clarke's mouth, in disbelief that it was even possible for her to be as turned on as she was right then. "Jok, Klark. Fuck. Y-your tongue, I want your tongue.."

Clarke didn't hesitate, eager to reward Lexa, and slid down her body quickly, settling between her spread thighs and running the flat of her tongue over the length of her slit, briefly pressing it against her throbbing clit. Lexa's back arched as her tongue worked between her parted lips and teased around the tight circle of her entrance.

Lexa was certain everyone for miles could hear the hammering of her heartbeat as her blood pounded in her ears. When Clarke repeated the action and then began fucking her with her tongue, Lexa's vision cut out and she saw nothing but stars before her. Clarke lightly bumped her teeth against her clit, opening her mouth wide enough to cover the entirety of Lexa's center. She traced her swollen lips with her tongue, enjoying the feeling of Lexa's hips struggling against the position she was bound in.

Clarke alternated between licking the length of her slit and pressing past her folds to feel her walls trying to clamp down on her tongue. She watched Lexa's face as much as she could, aware that Lexa was now deep inside an altered state of mind and probably couldn't remember her own name at the moment. Her increasing familiarity with Lexa's body and needs made it easy to bring her to the edge, which she did quickly and repeatedly, easing her down from it each time until Lexa was a writhing, sweaty, whimpering mess beneath her.

"Clarke, Clarke please, toch up ai.. I need to come.. I can't take.. Beja, please," Lexa babbled in both English and Trig, her entire body shuddering as Clarke's tongue traced over her throbbing clit before her lips engulfed it. Holding Lexa's hips steady, Clarke sucked on her clit, her tongue flicking around it as she finally brought Lexa over the edge.

Lexa cried her name and arched hard against the bed as she came. After a moment, Clarke released her pulsing clit before it became overstimulated and her tongue darted out, pressing against her entrance and lapping up the fresh flood of wetness that escaped her fluttering center. Lexa moaned tiredly, her thighs attempting to spread further as Clarke's tongue moved quickly over her, seeking out every drop of her arousal.

When Lexa whimpered her name a few minutes later, Clarke lifted her head and gazed into her eyes, kissing the top of her thigh softly. "Ste odon?" Lexa nodded and Clarke pushed herself up carefully, releasing her ankles first and then her wrists.

Lexa shifted over a little to avoid the large damp spot that was on the bed now, rubbing her bruised wrists lightly as she rolled to her side, getting more comfortable. Clarke scooted up against her back, wrapping her arm around her and lazily rubbing her stomach, kissing her shoulder softly.

"How did you get so good at taking me out of my head?" Lexa asked quietly, her fingertips tracing over Clarke's arm as she nestled back against her.

Clarke's lips brushed gently against the shell of her ear. "I dunno. It must be my super power."

Lexa smiled, her voice soft. "I think you're right. The only time I can let go is with you." She brought Clarke's hand up to her lips, kissing it as Clarke sighed against her head. "I'll show you how thankful I am when I can feel my legs again."

Clarke mumbled sleepily against her head. "Shh.. Later. Just wanna rest."

"Good plan," Lexa admitted, trying to stifle a yawn. Clarke let out a soft sound that could have been a grunt but sounded more like a tiny growl as she tightened her arm around her, nestling her face into the wild tangles of Lexa's hair before relaxing against her back.

Lexa sighed softly, comforted enough by Clarke's body wrapped around her that she started dozing off despite the resurgence of pain and angry voices inside her head.

Chapter Text

There is a war inside my heart gone silent

Both sides dissatisfied and somewhat violent

The issue I have now begun to see

I am the only lonely casualty

This is not the end though

- Sara Bareilles, 'Hercules'




Clarke was curled up on the dais, working on a sketch of the natblida novitiates while Lexa slept off another headache a few feet away on the bed, the air thick with the smell of peppermint oil. The headaches were coming more frequently and lasting longer each time, and Clarke was starting to seriously consider whether it was worth breaking Lexa's trust to have her mother brought in to examine her. She doubted Lexa would ever allow that, of course, so it was likely to result in nothing other than them arguing and Lexa refusing an exam anyway.

Of course, she couldn't and wouldn't violate Lexa's autonomy like that, but at the same time, she couldn't control the exponential growth of her worry, either. Particularly when she was in the quiet moments like this one, the worry seemed to fill her from the tips of her toes to the top of her head like the entirety of herself that lay below her skin was morphing into lead. Even if the Flame wasn't the cause, something was clearly going on and she couldn't help ruminating on all the things that could be wrong; all the things that might take Lexa away from her.

Just when she felt herself starting to spiral down into an anxious hurricane of "what-if" thoughts as she so often did these days, there was a knock on the door. Rather than call out, she set aside the drawing, not wanting to wake Lexa when she'd finally relaxed enough to nap, and went to the door, opening it a little.

Raven was pacing wildly in the hallway, already talking a mile a minute as Clarke stepped out. "Come on, we gotta go downstairs. The team's back, and they found the lab, and it looks like it's solar powered, because there were a bunch of solar panels and a couple of active drones there, which means the lab is probably still operational, too. If we can find the rest of the solar panels that power it and get them uncovered, we'll have a fully functioning lab unlike anything we've ever dreamed of. I mean, it sounds like it makes Mount Weather look like a cave for fuck's sake, we're talking a radiation chamber, equipment for gene therapy and DNA synthesizing, even a rocket ship. A rocket ship , Clarke. I mean, if we're gonna save the world, this will be the place to do it."

Raven stopped pacing and looked at Clarke in disbelief. "Why are we still standing here? Get Lexa and let's go! No time to waste."

Clarke opened her mouth and then thought better of it and tied her robe shut. "Give me a few minutes to wake her, and we'll meet you down there."

"Okay, but hurry! We've gotta get moving if we're gonna save the world." Raven didn't wait for a response, quickly heading down the hallway to the lift with as much bounce in her step as was possible. Clarke shook her head a little and turned to one of the sentries.

"Have some meal trays and coffees sent down to conference for everyone, please. Heda will take her lunch there today." Clarke paused. "Uh, quietly make Raven's a decaf, though."

The sentry—Melli, she thought her name was—smiled a little as she ducked her head to her slightly. "Yes, Skaiplana ."

"Thank you."

With that, she turned and went back into the bedchamber to get Lexa up.


When they arrived in the conference room, Raven was pacing and muttering to herself, practically vibrating with energy. Octavia, Lincoln, and Echo were being patched up by healers, all of them looking a little worse for the wear. Echo in particular had a large and sloppily bandaged gash that ran at an angle across her face, cutting through both lips and barely missing her left eye, stopping just above her eyebrow. Clarke went over quickly and started assisting Nyko with her stitches.

"What the hell happened to you guys?" She said as she worked a line of stitches from Echo's eyebrow, mildly impressed at the girl's stoic face and lack of so much as a wince as she was subjected to both hers and Nyko's needles at once.

"There were a couple of drones that attacked us with bullets. I've never seen anything like it before, it's like they were waiting for us." Octavia looked a little shaken.

Clarke's eyes widened a little as she inspected Echo's wound closer. "A bullet did this?"

"Yes. I was turning when it grazed me."

Octavia sat up a little straighter, her face a mask of guilt. "It was because of me. I took one in the leg and Lincoln was taking down the other drone. She was coming back for me, it's my fault."

Echo's voice was firm as she snapped a reply. "It wasn't your fault. You didn't send the drones."

Octavia looked at her. "No, but you could have left me instead of almost dying trying to save my ass."

Echo's face remained nonplussed, shutting her eye as Clarke worked her way lower with the needle. "No, I couldn't. Ai sonraun laik yu sonraun."

Octavia looked at her affectionately and hopped down onto her bandaged leg with enough force that Clarke winced sympathetically. Echo watched a little unsurely as she approached, and Octavia held her hand out to her. Slowly, Echo took her forearm, swallowing hard and inclining her head when Octavia said only, " Mochof, lukot ."

Lexa was smiling proudly as she watched their interaction. If the Commander of Death and the Azgedan spy who tried to kill her would risk their lives for one another, could become friends even, then there was genuine hope for peace between all of the clans, given enough time and opportunity. Certainly the end of the world could be a catalyst for forging better relationships across the board, if there was anything positive to come from it.

Raven, who was still pacing wildly, couldn't take it anymore and slapped her hands down on the table. "This is all very sweet, but tell them about the lab! Lexa, this lab—"

"Is our solution, Clarke told me," Lexa said good-naturedly. "What do you need from me, Raven?"

"I need you," Raven said, as if it should be obvious.

"Me?"

"Clarke, too." Raven nodded in the direction of Clarke, who had finished stitching Echo up and was in the middle of sipping a coffee and looked up with a mildly panicked expression on her face betraying the fact that she hadn't been paying attention.

"Uh.. I agree?" Clarke pretended not to notice the mildly annoyed look she got from her.

"This is important, Clarke. Like, mind-blowing, life-changing, save the world, important. I need both of you to come to the lab with us. Becca's journal has a lot of information about her creation of Nightblood, and I think she designed it not just to be bio-compatible with the Flame, but to be radiation resistant, too. If Abby and I can crack the recipe, we can—What?" Raven slowly and sheepishly realized everyone was staring at her. "Oh. Uh, I guess I should have started with, Bekka Pramheda invented Nightblood, huh?"


Clarke had to admit, Becca's lab was even more impressive than she'd expected. Everything was crisp clean lines, shining metal and glass. There were control panels and lights and buttons everywhere, and Clarke couldn't even begin to guess at what function most of the things she was looking at served. After a moment of awed gaping, she looked over at Lexa and Luna, who both looked totally overwhelmed and totally out of place.

Raven, however, was completely in her element as she whipped her head around like a kid in a candy store, wide eyed and excited, with Abby trailing her. Clarke smiled a little as she watched Raven start circling the equipment, running her fingertips lightly over the buttons and levers, turning slowly with a smile and expression that brought Clarke back to the moment Raven had stepped out of the pod and took in her first breath of fresh Earth air. It seemed like it was a lifetime or two ago, but she thought Raven probably remembered the feeling as clearly as Clarke herself did; like the world was suddenly full of infinite possibility and hope.

And really, that's what the lab represented to all of them, she supposed. To humanity in general, actually.

Octavia nudged herself in front of them. " Hod op , Reyes. Let us clear the place first. There could be more drones roaming around."

Raven reluctantly paused in front of a set of monitors, unable to resist the temptation to run her fingers lightly over them. Murphy and Echo followed Octavia, their weapons at the ready, making their way through the first set of airlock doors.

Clarke dropped back to join the others, rubbing Lexa's back reassuringly. "You guys okay?"

Luna gazed at their surroundings, her voice even softer than usual with a note of uncertainty. "Yes." Lexa merely nodded, unconsciously leaning into Clarke's arm a bit more.

Raven, seeming to suddenly remember she wasn't alone in what probably felt like Nirvana to her, came back over and tucked a few of Luna's wild curls behind her ear before wrapping her arms around her waist loosely.


Lexa was sleeping off another headache, curled up in a large and very modern bed with bright white sheets that contrasted starkly with her dark, tattered clothing, Clarke sat a few feet away in a comfortable recliner, sketching Lexa’s sleeping form, the room thick with the familiar scent of peppermint.

Lexa mumbled into the pillow incoherently and Clarke slowly lowered the sketchbook, watching her for signs of distress. Her arm stretched out and pushed into the pillow as she rolled over, murmuring Becca’s name. Clarke tensed a little and set the pad aside, standing up and going over to the bed, lowering herself onto the edge of it and gently rubbing Lexa’s bicep, over her tattoo.

Lexa was always more difficult to wake when she was communing with the past Commanders; even more so lately. Clarke called her name softly, increasing the volume and pressure of her rubbing slowly so as not to startle her.

After a minute, Lexa stretched and blinked sleepily as she woke, a little smile spreading across her lips when she saw Clarke.

“Hi,” she whispered groggily.

Clarke smiled, lightly fingering her wild bedhead. “Hey, Heda . Feeling better?”

Lexa nodded a little as she stretched her muscles awake slowly. “This is the most comfortable bed I have ever been in. Can we bring it home?”

Clarke chuckled and let Lexa’s sleepy arms tug her down onto the pillow beside her, wrapping her arms around the Commander when she rested her head on her chest. “You were talking to Becca?”

“Mhmm,” Lexa draped one leg over hers, her hand rubbing her side lazily. “She told me about another journal of hers that Raven needs. It’s hidden here in the lab.”

“More about Nightblood?”

Lexa nodded again, relaxing completely against her. “Maybe we should.. Let Raven know?”

“In a little bit,” Lexa mumbled, bringing another smile to Clarke’s lips.

“You wanna wait to give Raven potentially world-saving information to cuddle?”

Lexa kissed her chest softly. “Are you complaining about my priorities?”

“Definitely not.” Clarke shook her head, running her nails in random lazy patterns across her back.

“Good.”


“Abso-fucking-lutely not.” Clarke’s voice was loud enough that it carried through most of the lab, echoing off all the metal equipment and tile floors.

Lexa’s voice, equally loud but with a much cooler tone, followed quickly. “I do not need your permission to do this, Clarke.”

“Oh, I think you do need my permission to let my mother try to kill you. Are you crazy? And you , “ she bit off with a vitriol that made even Echo wince, whirling on her mother like a tornado. “I can’t believe you’re going along with this, Mom.”

Abby didn’t even have a chance to respond before Lexa’s voice became even louder and slightly more emotional. “I don’t need your permission for anything . I’m the Commander, and it’s my duty, my responsibility, my destiny to protect my people. That is what being a leader is about, and you know it. And you are overreacting. These are Bekka’s notes, Bekka’s memory and knowledge. Bekka Pramheda wants to save the human race once more, and she says I will be fine .”

“I don’t think Bekka gives a skrish whether or not you’re fine, Lexa! One Commander dies, the next one is called, no big deal.”

“You are being completely unreasonable! You, Clarke, should understand better than anyone what must be done for your people.” Lexa snapped as Abby quietly leaned against a countertop, wishing the door was close enough for her to sneak out it.

“No, Lexa! What’s unreasonable is you doing something that could kill you just because the bitch who ended the entire world told you to! You’re completely disposable to her, and I won’t just sit here and watch you die!”

Lexa’s face hardened and her voice took on a deep, dangerous tone as several audible gasps echoed down the hallway from where the others had given up any pretense of acting like they weren’t actively eavesdropping.

“She saved the world. You think I am naive, Clarke, but I know the state of the world before. This way was not the way anyone would have chosen, but it was the only way. Too many people, not enough resources, fighting and killing each other for no reason, an infinite divide between castes. There—”

Clarke crossed her arms, her face the picture of rage and a razor tongue between her lips as she snapped, “That’s rich coming from someone who sits on a throne and lives in a palace, isn’t it, Heda ?”

Lexa discernibly winced at Clarke’s sharp tone to her title, her entire body lightly shaking with anger that seemed to fill her from nowhere. Her face hardened and she rose to her full heigh, stepping forward until she was nearly nose-to-nose with Clarke, who visibly shrank a little under her stern glare as she’d expected.

“Those are amusing words coming from someone who grew up somewhere with the same caste divides—or were you unaware that your friend Bellamy cleaned toilets? That Raven didn’t have her own blanket until she was twelve? That Octavia never experienced a lack of hunger until you came to the ground? Your chancellors locked children away for being children, or for trying to warn people that your Ark was dying. Then they waited until the children were old enough to execute without bothering anyone.” The Commander’s voice was low and dangerous, a sneer on her face that Clarke hadn’t seen in a very long time but was chillingly familiar all the same. “The world we built here is far from perfect, but it is better than what your people built without Bekka .”

Clarke rocked back on her heels, her face becoming eerily calm as a dark glower crossed her face, her crossed arms tightening as she gazed into Lexa’s darkened eyes with renewed courage. “My people.”

A panicked expression crossed over Lexa’s face as the more rational part of her brain clicked on and she realized what she’d just said. “I didn’t mean it like that, Clarke. I—”

“How did you mean it then, Commander ?” This time, Clarke’s tone sliced through Lexa’s gut with a sting that zipped through every nerve ending in every direction. “Oh, excuse me. Commander Grounder , that is. Because you’re only the Commander of your people, not mine.”

Lexa swallowed hard. “Clarke, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean t—”

“No, it’s fine. It’s great, actually. I’m glad I know how you really feel, art least.” Clarke turned on her heel and quickly made her way towards the airlock heading to the living quarters.

“Clarke!” Lexa felt hot tears gathering behind her eyes rapidly and she couldn’t manage to care if everyone present saw them or heard the desperation in her voice. “ Beja , that’s not how I feel. I’m sorry, niron .. I didn’t mean it.”

Clarke stopped just short of the doorway. Her voice was quiet but sharp, her body tensed and her head tilting sideways just slightly, not turning to face her. “Go float yourself, Commander.”

The dams behind Lexa’s wide emerald eyes broke, tears running freely down her cheeks as she watched Clarke walk away from her once more. Her head began throbbing badly, but she barely felt it through the wave of full-body numbness she was suddenly filled with. She didn’t feel herself shaking as she began to cry, and was only vaguely aware of Abby wrapping her arms around her and drawing her into a tight hug against her chest, rubbing her back as she sobbed quietly.



Chapter Text

I'm a small honeybee, I drown in the water

You are my hand in the well, hold on to me

Say you'll always love me

Tell me anything you want

Hold on, baby

Say you'll never leave me

Promise that you will hold on

- Bif Naked, “Hold On”

 

 

 

Clarke had walked so far that she wasn’t entirely sure she’d be able to navigate back to the lab without getting lost along the way, but she didn’t really care. What Abby wanted to do—expose Lexa and Luna to gradually increased doses of radiation to confirm that Nightblood was, in fact, radiation-proof—was nothing short of totally insane. 

Clarke was a scientist herself and inherently understood the need for testing. God knows she wouldn’t take Becca at her word about anything, either. But there had to be a way around human testing, for chrissakes. Anything was better than risking Lexa and Luna’s lives on the off chance that Nightblood would save the world. And frankly, if that was true, then why hadn’t Becca made everyone natblidas in the first place? 

No. There had to be a better way. But nobody was going to be looking for a better way if they were all focused on the Nightblood “cure”. She wasn’t privy to Luna or Raven’s feelings on any of this, but Lexa’s headaches were already taking over her life and certainly this wouldn’t make her feel better.

Clarke dropped down onto a log that faced the infinite ocean, pulling a scrap of burlap from her pocket and unrolling it, beginning to pick at one of the pinkfruit Lexa had packed for the trip. She felt herself tense with anger once more as she replayed their argument in her head. 

She and Lexa had of course had their fair share of arguments—both serious ones and the day-to-day nonsense all couples argued about. Lexa had even slapped her once in a fit of anger; but she had never been downright cruel before. She had never said something purely intended to cause Clarke pain until today, and those words had hit her like a lightning bolt. Your people. That divide that had caused everyone so much pain and strife, that had caused war and destruction; but the words had fallen so easily from Lexa’s lips, and with so much venom.

It made Clarke’s heart hurt. It had been so long since she’d even thought of the distinction, honestly. Since Lexa had instituted her new policies and united all thirteen clans; since people began bowing their heads to her when she and Lexa walked the marketplace together. Clarke didn’t sit on Skaikru’s seat during summits or events; she sat in a throne similar to Lexa’s, at Lexa’s right hand. She’d begun thinking of them as equals, or at least a united front. She didn’t think of Skaikru as ‘her’ people and hadn’t for quite some time; rather, she thought of everyone as their people.

Our people, she thought as she sank her teeth into the sweet fruit, the sun beginning to set behind her and cast strange shadows through the trees onto the serene water. She felt her chest tighten as Lexa’s voice repeated those devastating words over and over again in her head. 

Then Clarke heard quiet footsteps approaching behind her and she closed her eyes, bracing herself for the impending company of her mother, or perhaps even Lexa herself, from the soft, careful sound of the steps. Trouble was that she honestly couldn’t tell if she wanted it to be Lexa or not.

Much to her surprise, it was Echo who dropped onto the log beside her silently. The area around her stitches was still red and slightly swollen, but the long scar tracking down her face was beginning to heal fairly well, considering. They sat there quietly for awhile, the air cooling down as the sun crept lower in the sky.

After a bit, Echo spoke softly. “You have to understand our history, Skaiplana. We-”

“Clarke.” She glanced at the Azgedan spy, offering her a small nod. “Please. I’m nobody’s queen, least of all my friends’.”

Echo returned the nod, unable to keep a small smile off her face. “Clarke. We grow up in awe of natblidas. We worship them from the time they are born. We learn to treat the memory or even the mention of Bekka Pramheda as though she was a god; as though her successors are. We are all taught this, but these are the only things natblidas are taught. Heda Leksa is different from any other Commander I have ever heard of, but we cannot separate ourselves so easily from our upbringings as we would often like to.” Her face turned sad and slightly darker as she swallowed hard, thinking of her own upbringing.

“I know.” Clarke’s voice was quiet as she looked away, over the vast ocean that lay at their feet. “I know that, and I know she tries. And I know I overstepped.” She swallowed hard and glanced back at Echo. “I love her. And she could die.”

“She will die someday. We all will, and we will all lose people we care about before then.”

“Well. You picked me right up, Echo.” Clarke said dryly, starting to peel the bark off a twig with anxious fingers.

Echo didn’t smile, her voice quiet but serious. “Would you rather watch Lexa risk her life trying to save the world, or watch her lose her world and die knowing she might have saved it?” 

“Neither.” Clarke glanced sideways at Echo, letting out a heavy sigh. “You, Octavia, and Raven spend too much time together. You’re starting to sound like them.”

Echo smiled as she stood. “There are worse people to sound like.” She paused, dusting the back of her pants off. “For what it’s worth, there is no way Lexa meant what she said. I know that doesn’t make it okay or less painful, but it does make it untrue. She loves you; that’s clear to everyone. And we are all each others’ people now.”

Ai sonraun laik yu sonraun.” Clarke said softly, almost to herself.

Echo shrugged a little. “It’s only new to to us. The Commander’s life has always belonged to her people.”

Clarke squinted back out at the darkening sea as Echo’s quiet, deliberate footsteps retreated, lost in thought.


 

Octavia sat on the table, her legs swinging lazily as she stuffed her face with some freeze-dried cotton candy they’d found in the canteen. They’d left Murphy there to supposedly whip up some dinner, and left Echo with him in case Murphy set the place on fire. Raven was typing furiously on a keyboard while Luna lurked nearby, still looking around with awe and nervousness. 

Lexa sat on an exam bed in the next room, her eyes still red and puffy from crying, but her stony Commander mask was firmly back in place. Her jaw was tight as she watched Abby preparing a tray of shiny metal instruments that were far more intimidating than she’d let herself admit. Nothing in her world was shiny anymore—all of the metal was deteriorated, rusted, burned. The only things that shone in Polis were the sun, the occasional preserved bits of glass or mirror, and the flames that danced on candles and inside lanterns.

This entire place reflected itself and it was unnerving; it felt like an impending threat. 

 

It’s okay, Lexa. It’s normal to feel frightened of all of this.

It’s all new to you, but this is my home, and nothing here is a threat to you.

You do still trust me, right?

 

 

Lexa took a shaky breath as Abby approached her. Her eyes were kind and her voice gentle. “Okay, Lexa. What I’m going to do is just take a blood sample from you. I have to find a good vein on you, and then I’ll put a small needle into it. It will sting a little, but just for a moment. You’ll be able to see your blood coming out and into these little clear tubes, but it won’t hurt. You might feel a little light-headed, but that will go away quickly.”  

Lexa nodded a little, her mouth drying up rapidly. In her world, one only took another’s blood for the purpose of hurting or killing. Luna approached curiously, her voice softer than usual. “Is it okay if I watch, Heda?” Lexa nodded again, unable to force words from her throat as Luna sat on the bed beside her. She’d refused to let Luna take part; it wasn’t her burden to bear and, despite her initial protest, Luna had reluctantly adhered to the order of her Commander.

 

If she hadn’t run from the conclave like a coward, it would be hers to bear.

You would not have been able to beat her and we all know it.

  

She focused momentarily to force Sheidheda back once more, feeling the other Commanders’ strength assisting her.

“Are you ready?”

Abby’s voice shook her back to reality and Lexa sat up a little straighter, clearing her throat. “Yes. Yes, I am ready.”

The girls both looked on with wide eyes as Abby tied a band tightly around Lexa’s bicep and began gently pressing her fingers across the crook of her elbow. Luna cocked her head slightly when she saw Abby uncap a glinting needle.

Lexa swallowed hard and unconsciously clenched her fists a little, her body tensing up. Luna, sensing the distress from the girl who had been her best friend growing up, reached for her hand and slid her fingers into hers cautiously.  

They both watched as the thin metal point slid expertly beneath Lexa’s skin. Abby rested her hand on her shoulder gently as the murky fluid sprayed inside the tube, filling it rapidly. 

“Breathe out, Lexa.” Abby’s voice was kind as she rubbed her back comfortingly. Lexa slowly let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding, her hand still tightly entwined with Luna’s.

“Does it hurt, Heda?” Luna gently cupped her chin with her free hand, their bond as friends—sisters, really—outweighing the commander/subject dynamic only just so much.

Lexa shook her head truthfully, and rapidly grew more annoyed with the anxiety rising in her chest. Heda certainly wasn’t afraid; even if she was in danger—and she knew with full certainty that she wasn’t—the sight of her blood filling the little tubes made the room feel claustrophobic. Every muscle in her body was coiled and tight like snakes preparing to strike, her natural inclination towards battle practically quivering within her without a target to launch at. It was ridiculous, really.

Abby’s face wrinkled with concern as she paused before switching to another tube. Luna bit her lip, her eyes staying on Lexa’s ghostly face as she spoke to Abby. “We only bleed from injury or battle. This is.. very unusual for our people.”

“That’s understandable. The body gets used to certain responses to certain situations, and they become ingrained in us, out of our conscious control. On the Ark, we called it ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder’—but it’s not a disorder, really. Its your brain’s way of protecting you from situations or people who have hurt you before.” Lexa wasn’t really hearing her and barely reacted as Luna rubbed her arm comfortingly, looking at Abby with worry lining her tanned face. “Why don’t we take a little break? I’ve got enough to get started here.” Abby was already pulling the contraption free of Lexa’s arm and pressing a small, sticky bit of bandage to the spot as a few more drops of blood escaped.

Luna’s voice was very quiet as she slid a little closer to Lexa’s stiffened body, putting her free arm around her shoulders. “Thank you, Abby kom Skaikru.” 

 Abby gathered the four tubes she had managed to obtain and nodded as she slid a tray with strange-looking food and drink on it closer to the bed they sat on. “Please make sure she eats and drinks this. It’s very sweet, but it’ll make her feel better physically.”

Luna nodded as Abby moved through the airlock into the lab next door, and quickly turned back to Lexa.

Leksa,” she said softly, trying to catch her attention with a name she hadn’t used since Leksa became Heda, but her eyes were closed and she was breathing slowly, trying to force herself to get out of her own head. 

Luna let go of her hand and wrapped her arms around her instead, resting her chin on her head. Lexa instinctively curled against her, the familiar, earthy scent relaxing her shoulders slightly. She couldn’t even hear Bekka or the others anymore, although she knew they were very much present and probably shouting her away from the other girl.

Luna began rocking her slowly, humming a familiar cadence before beginning to sing it quietly instead. Lexa felt her chest tighten slightly, remembering the last time she’d heard the lullaby; the one Costia had always sang to comfort her; and she wondered if Luna remembered and mourned her fellow Floukru still, too.

 

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]

 

 

Lexa relaxed into the comforting embrace, returning to her body as it calmed for Luna’s soft, melodic voice. After a few minutes, when Lexa had come back to herself, she sat up and regarded Luna, surprised that she felt no embarrassment about falling apart in her arms. 

“Titus was wrong about you,” she said quietly. Luna’s eyes widened a little. “You are no coward, Luna kom Floukru. You would have made a good and kind Commander.”

Luna blushed and smiled at her old friend, touching her shoulder lightly with reassurance before handing her the strange drink from the tray. “Not as good as you, Heda.”

Lexa obediently took a sip of the orange fluid and her face twisted immediately as she tried her hardest not to spit it right back out. She swallowed it and gasped, “Ugh, jok!” Luna tried not to laugh unsuccessfully as Lexa shook her head rapidly, her tongue peeking out. “It tastes like fayaberi en shoga-skrish!” 

Octavia’s head appeared in the doorway. “Everything good in here?”

Luna was still chuckling. “Heda doesn’t enjoy the Skaikru drink.”

Amused, Octavia glanced at the glass in Lexa’s hand. “If it makes you feel better, most of Skaikru doesn’t like Tang either.”

“Why would anyone want to bring this to space?” Lexa grumbled, but continued to drink, not wanting to find herself on Abby’s bad side; being on Clarke’s was more than enough to deal with at the moment. 

“People can be strange, Heda.” Luna offered.

Octavia nodded her agreement, leaning on the doorframe. “Speaking of strange people, Clarke is back. She was heading for your room. You know, if you needed to talk to her or anything..”

Lexa set the empty glass down with a sour look at Octavia as she slid off the exam table, her voice dry. “Subtlety has never been your strong suit, Wanheda.” Octavia just lifted one eyebrow in a mild smirk and shrugged as Lexa brushed past her. 

“Good luck, Commander.” Octavia and Luna exchanged an amused look when Lexa’s only response was a grunt tossed over her shoulder as she headed quickly towards the suite she shared with Clarke.

Chapter Text

Face stained in the ceiling

Why does it keep saying

"I don't have to see you right now"

"I don't have to see you right now"?

Digging like you can bury

Something that cannot die

Or we could wash the dirt off our hands now

Keep it from living underground

- Local Natives, ‘Mt. Washington’

 

 

Clarke was curled up on her side in the bed, facing away from the door. The wall opposite her was already covered in drawings she’d done of all the people and places she loved; more than a few of them featured the Commander herself. Lexa smiled lightly despite the guilt weighing heavily in the pit of her stomach as she surveyed the excessive evidence of just how much the girl from the stars truly loved her.

Her voice was smaller than she’d intended when she softly called out, “Clarke?”

Clarke must have been awake already, because she rolled over quickly to look at her. The hurt on her face was as readable as ever. Her Skaiplana had never been very good at hiding her feelings; it was one of the things Lexa loved most about her.

Lexa felt her eyes already starting to water, her voice gentle. “I’m so sorry, Klark. I don’t know why I said that, but I didn’t me—”

“It’s okay,” Clarke responded, her voice just as soft. “I’m sorry, too. I shouldn’t have.. I wasn’t trying to—to make your decisions for you, honestly. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Lexa tentatively sat on the edge of the bed. “I know. You’re just worried.” She nodded a little. “People sometimes do not realize that they are trying to control someone they care about when they are worried and think they can prevent or fix their pain for them.” 

Clarke pushed herself to sit up as well. “Like Titus?”

“Or Gustus.”

Clarke pulled her legs to her chest, wrapping her arms around them and resting her chin on her knees. “Or Bellamy with Octavia?”

Lexa nodded a little. “It is.. difficult. When the people you trust with your life do not trust you with your own.” Her jaw tilted upwards a little. “However, that does not excuse my behavior. What I said was wrong. I did not mean to hurt you either, niron. I am your people, and you are mine.”

Clarke raised her eyes to hers unsurely, her tone sadder than Lexa could bear. “We’re all each others’ people, right?”

Lexa regarded her quietly, her gaze locked to hers. “Yes. But it is stronger between us; different. You are.. more than my people, because you’re you.”

A smile slowly spread across Clarke’s lips. “You’re more than my people, too. You’re my.. person.”

“I like that.” Lexa smiled as well, her lack of wrist bracer leading her to fiddle with her sleeve instead. “You’re my person, too, Klark.” 

Clarke reached out and curled her fingers through Lexa’s hair, brushing her knuckles against her cheek affectionately as her eyes closed briefly. There was still a tiny knot in the pit of her stomach that seemed to be reluctant to believe they were okay, and an even smaller, deeper. more painful knot that didn’t quite forgive Lexa for what she had said either. But she buried them down deeper in her gut and resolved to cover them in Murphy’s snacks later until she couldn’t feel it anymore. Maybe even drown them with some of the scotch they’d found stocked inside the kitchen.

“Can we just..” Lexa turned a little and gently tugged her down onto the bed with her, guiding her arm around her waist and pressing back against her snugly. 

Clarke felt herself instinctively relaxing against Lexa’s back, holding onto her tightly and bending her knees just enough to press them against the backs of Lexa’s thighs. She felt Lexa settle into her like she was a protective shell, their bodies intertwined tighter than a braid as sleep began to overtake them both. 


 

Clarke woke to Lexa moaning softly in her sleep. Groggily she rolled onto her side and propped herself up to look down at her.

Lexa’s wild hair was adhered across her forehead and cheeks, her lips parted and brow furrowed. She was utterly drenched in sweat and she was incredibly pale, the dark rings beneath her eyes more prominent than usual.

Clarke tentatively rubbed her arm and called her name softly, but she moaned louder, her limbs jerking slightly.

Clarke cleared her throat and called out a little louder, gently shaking her, and jumped when she startled awake, gasping loudly.

“Lexa! Lexa, it’s okay, you’re safe. I’m right here.”

Lexa shuddered, her chest heaving as she glanced at the still unfamiliar surroundings in a panic. It took a moment for her eyes to lock gaze with the concerned blue ones beside her, but when they did she quickly curled into Clarke’s chest. Another shudder escaped her as she tried to catch her breath, Clarke’s arms immediately encircling her protectively.

Clarke’s voice was gentle as could be when she whispered, rocking her tenderly, “You’re okay. You’re okay now, I’ve got you.”

Lexa just clung to her more tightly, still shaky and breathing heavily. After a few minutes, she mumbled into Clarke’s cleavage, “Mmfed…”

“What’s that?” Clarke tilted her head just enough to look at the side of her face. 

Lexa turned a bit, her eyes closed tightly, and nearly whimpered. “My head. It hurts.”

“How bad?” Clarke gently brushed her fingertips over her temple, feeling every muscle in her body tense as though she could physically fight and destroy the source of her misery for her.

“Feels like a pauna is stomping on it.”

Lexa’s face was clenched tightly in pain, broadcasting it so loudly that Clarke felt sick as she continued in a whisper, “Please get Abby.”

Clarke had never quite understood why people said their ‘blood ran cold’ until that moment, because she suddenly felt as though there was ice in her veins. “Okay.” Her voice was far too small for the amount of panic she felt, but she carefully disentangled herself from Lexa and left her curled into a tight ball on her side. Once she left their room, she broke into a brisk jog towards the lab.


 

The pills Abby had given Lexa should have knocked her out for hours, so Clarke was surprised to find Lexa awake and sitting up in bed when she returned with a dinner tray.

“Hey.. How are you feeling?”

Lexa turned toward her slowly, her lips forming a slack smile. “Clarke! You’re here..”

Clarke set the tray down on the nightstand with a smirk. “Oh, boy, are you high.”

“I cannot be high, Clarke. I am on the ground,” she slurred before laughing at her own joke. “I feel wonderful.”

Clarke shook her head a little bit and sat on the edge of the bed. “Yeah, it looks like you’re having a pretty good time right now.”

Lexa’s eyes dropped to the nightstand and then went wide. “You brought food. How did you know I was hungry?”

“Well, you haven’t eaten since last night, so I just guessed.”

She turned her wide eyes back to Clarke, sniffling as her voice rapidly grew emotional. “You are so smart. You must be the smartest and most thoughtful person on the whole planet.”

Clarke gave her a small, amused smile, and cupped her cheek. “Don’t cry about it..”

Lexa peered at her intently, cupping her hands over both of her cheeks. “They’re happy tears. I am so lucky to have the smartest, most beautiful girl right here in my bed..”

Clarke rubbed her back gently, hugging her close. She held her like that for a few quiet minutes before she felt Lexa turn her face to kiss the side of her neck softly. She closed her eyes briefly, a quiet moan in the back of her throat as she instinctually tilted her head.

“What’re you doin’?”

Lexa mumbled her response against the tender flesh just behind her ear. “Is it not obvious? We didn’t get to have make-up sex yet.”

Reluctantly, Clarke leaned away, holding her a bit tighter to prevent her from following. “I don’t think that’s a good idea right now. You’re pretty drugged up.”

A look of hurt flashed across Lexa’s face and tugged at the inside of Clarke’s chest. “I am not that drugged up, Klark.” She pouted—actually pouted—and Clarke had to look away from her plump lower lip before she lost sight of why, exactly, she was denying her. “Besides, I would feel no differently if I did not have those pills. You know that.”

“Drugged up enough for me to feel kinda weird about touching you,” Clarke countered, doing her best to keep her gaze trained anywhere but on Lexa. She was unsuccessful, and the sudden grin that overtook Lexa’s face made her mildly nervous. Despite the fact that she sensed she would regret asking, she let her eyes meet Lexa’s and bit her lip. “What?”

In an impressive and surprisingly graceful move for the stoned Commander, Lexa twisted and swung her leg around so she was straddling Clarke’s lap. Clarke let out an involuntary moan when their hips met, and she felt her resolve beginning to melt away when Lexa slid her hands beneath her shirt and over her ribs. She kissed her way across her collarbone, mumbling against her skin. “You do not have to touch me. I will do all the touching.”

Lexa bit down lightly on her earlobe, drawing another soft moan from Clarke’s lips. “Lexa..” Clarke’s voice was nearly a whine; if Lexa kept this up both her mind and her morals would be out the window in no time.

Lexa huffed a little as she climbed off her lap, sitting back against the pillows with her arms crossed. “Spichen! Dison laik gapaskrish.”

Clarke smiled a little, amused by this petulant version of Lexa. “The pills will wear off in like, another hour or two, and then we can have as much sex as you want. I promise.”

“Fine,” Lexa let out a puff of air and gazed at her disappointedly for a minute before her face lit up once more. Clarke barely had time to worry about what was making her grin now when she started shimmying out of the sweatpants she wore.

“Lexa..”

“Don’t worry, Klark. This is not for you.” Clarke’s eyes widened a little when the rest of her clothing followed as fast as her unsteady hands would allow, until the Commander lay bare before her. “If you will not help me, I will take care of it myself.”

Clarke swallowed hard, her mouth quickly going dry as she let her eyes run appreciatively back and forth over her lithe, muscular form. Her voice was husky as she quietly responded, “Okay.”

Lexa shifted so she was angled more towards Clarke and rested back on the pillows. Without preamble she slid her hands over her breasts, her nipples already hard. She ran her nails lightly around and then over them. Her eyes were locked onto Clarke’s face as her fingers deftly rolled and teased her nipples.

The tips of Clarke’s ears turned red, as they always did when she was turned on, and her breathing sped up just enough to be noticeable. Lexa smiled somewhat sweetly at her, running one hand over her own hip, her nails scratching lightly over the curve of it, then spread her legs apart and bent them slightly upwards at the knee.

Clarke’s breath hitched in her throat as her gaze fell directly between Lexa’s thighs, where her slightly parted lips already glistened with arousal. She chewed at her lip, watching Lexa slide her palm over herself, rubbing gently.

Lexa’s eyes fluttered closed briefly and she let out an exaggerated moan that nonetheless shot a streak of fire straight into Clarke’s core. Noting the effect she was having on her Skaiplana, Lexa smiled devilishly and spread her legs further, enhancing the view for her as she dipped a slender finger inside herself. She curled it gently, her hips already thrusting lightly as she withdrew the finger that was now coated in her wetness.

“Jesus, Lexa,” Clarke managed to choke out, her eyes glued to the finger she desperately wanted in her mouth right then.

Lexa quirked an eyebrow at her, wiggling her finger and holding it out to her. “It’s just a finger, Klark..”

Well.

She had a point, kind of. 

Clarke groaned internally, well aware that she was playing with fire at this point; but she was only human, for fuck’s sake. The crack in her resolve split further as she grasped Lexa’s wrist gently and wrapped her lips around her dripping finger, tracing every crease and knuckle with her tongue.

They moaned in unison, and Lexa’s breathing became more labored at the sight of Clarke’s superbly skilled mouth work her finger over. Clarke released it with an audible pop of her lips and a dissatisfied sigh when she could no longer detect the taste of her on it.

Eager for the return of Clarke’s mouth, Lexa’s hand moved between her thighs once more, and this time two fingers pressed past her clenching entrance. She tried to curl them into the soft spot Clarke never seemed to have trouble locating, to no avail. 

Her heavily-lidded eyes watched Clarke’s entranced face as she pumped her fingers slowly within her drenched center, gathering as much of her arousal as she could before withdrawing and offering them to Clarke again.

There was no hesitation this time.

Clarke quickly took her fingers into her mouth, licking and sucking them earnestly, determined not to waste a drop of the sweet, sticky fluid. Lexa, spurred on by Clarke’s unmitigated desire, dropped her other hand down and began circling her fingertips over her clit with purpose. Her hips rolled against the bed as she switched hands, pressing the fingers that were now coated in Clarke’s saliva inside herself with a guttural moan.

Clarke ran her tongue determinedly around each curved knuckle and the sensitive spaces between, unconsciously grinding her own hips against the seam of her jeans. The hand that wasn’t holding Lexa’s wrist steady fluttered between her own thighs, pressing into herself briefly, but she was far too distracted by Lexa’s swollen, dripping heat fluttering before her to worry about getting herself off just then.

Lexa rubbed the pulsing bud of her clit harder, her back arching against the bed as her body tightened and began to shake. She chanted Clarke’s name like a mantra as the wave of pleasure crashed down on her and released a flood of wetness over her hand, down her thighs, and onto the sheet beneath her.

Clarke inhaled sharply, her jaw clenching unconsciously around the fingers between her lips as she watched Lexa coming around her own hand and crying out her name as she did. 

Lexa let out a minor squeak as her shuddering body collapsed back onto the pillows. “Klark.. my finger,” she gasped out.

It took Clarke a moment to realize what she was talking about, and when she did, her jaw dropped immediately, releasing the fingers that now bore indentations in the shape of her teeth in them. 

“Oh, fuck. I’m sorry!” Clarke flushed deep red with humiliation. Had she really just bitten her? And not even for pleasure; just because she was a complete mess. 

But Lexa just laughed, her chest still heaving and aftershock vibrations jerking her limbs.

Clarke reddened even further. “It’s not funny! I bit you.”

Lexa shrugged a little, hair plastered to her forehead with sweat. “It is not the first time, and I hope it will not be the last.”

“That’s—this is different than..”

Lexa struggled a little to sit up, her hips still twitching slightly, and she cupped Clarke’s cheek with her bitten hand. “It barely hurt. You can make it up to me when you feel a sufficient amount of time has passed since I ate those delightful pills to do so.”

Clarke smiled a very little bit and turned her head, kissing her fingers softly. “I can do that.”

Lexa leaned in further, kissing her chastely before smiling into the kiss. 

“Then I will be ‘that’,” she mumbled against Clarke’s lips, delighting when she felt her smiling back against her own.


 

Clarke and Lexa hurried into the den area looking rumpled, their cheeks flushed. Octavia glanced up from the couch where she was laughing quietly over something with Echo, and rolled her eyes. “Really, again? I thought Heda had a killer headache. You guys are like animals.” 

Clarke’s cheeks turned even redder, the image of tooth-shaped bruises popping into her head once more, but Lexa nonchalantly dropped to the couch next to her and shrugged. “Not anymore. And humans are animals, with the same basic needs. The last time you and Lincoln argued, you had make-up sex on the floor in the throne room at least twice.”

Octavia’s eyes went comically wide and Luna, who was just coming into the room behind a frazzled-looking Raven, snorted with amusement. Clarke grinned widely and joined them on the couch, squeezing herself between the arm and Lexa’s hip, enjoying the streak of red that shot across Octavia’s face as she tried to stutter a response several times before just giving up.

Murphy was lounging on a giant floor pillow eating some kind of jerky, looking vaguely annoyed. He let out a heavy sigh. “Next time we go on an away mission, we’re bringing Bellamy. There’s just way too much chick energy around here.”

Octavia, having had no response for Lexa’s teasing, jumped at the opportunity to share the pain. She leaned forward a bit and addressed him gently. “Your crush on my brother is noted.”

Murphy turned crimson and looked around the room quickly for help, apparently deciding Echo was his best bet, and settled his gaze on her. “That’s ridiculous. I don’t have a crush on Bellamy.”

Echo smirked lightly. “We know. You’re in love with him.”

“There’s literally no one here that I don’t hate right now.” Murphy mumbled, resigning himself to gazing at his jerky.

Raven clapped her hands a few times, her voice tense and over-caffienated. “Okay, as much as I’d love to watch you all beat up on Murphy for the rest of our lives, they’re gonna be very short if we don’t come up with a solution to this new problem.”

“What new problem?” Clarke, Octavia, and Murphy asked in unison, with varying degrees of resignation and annoyance.

“Well..” Raven glanced at Abby, whose grim look affirmed the severity of the situation. “We can’t make Nightblood here.”

Clarke frowned at the duo immediately. “I thought the lab had everything you needed.”

“Almost everything, as it turns out. The one thing the lab doesn’t have is zero-g.” Raven bit her lip. “I won’t bore you all with the details—”

“Little late for that,” Murphy interrupted dryly.

Raven shot him a glare before continuing. “But the point is, we’re gonna have to go somewhere that does have zero g. We’re gonna have to go to space.”

Everyone except Abby stared at Raven like she was crazy, and it was Octavia who finally spoke, everything about her posture and tone oozing weariness and aggravation. “And exactly how the fuck are we gonna do that? The dropship is a burned out husk, Jaha’s old missile isn’t good for anything but scrap metal and probably cancer, and I’m pretty sure Becca’s transport in Polis would explode the minute it hit atmo, at best.”

Raven gave her a bit of a nervous sideways glance and appeared to steel herself before she spoke again, her voice inappropriately casual for the situation. 

“Well.. You know how there’s a rocket in the lab?”

“Unless your buddy Becca left a copy of “Rocket Launching For Dummies” in Lexa’s head, there’s a rocket in the lab that nobody here knows how to fly,” Murphy pointed out with jerk of his thumb towards Lexa, who scowled in return. “You’re a mechanic, Raven. Not a pilot. Or a magician.”

Luna’s features tightened a little, her voice firm despite the worry lines creasing her forehead. “She can do it. There’s no one on the planet smarter than Raven.”

Raven shrugged. “I came down to Earth in a rocket. How much harder can it be to go up in one?” Off everyone’s looks, she let out a nervous giggle. “It’s just like falling, but, you know. Backwards.”

The room was silent for a minute.

“Well,” Murphy said, standing up with a heavy sigh, “I’m gonna go get that Scotch now. Might as well get plastered since we’re all dead either way.”


Lexa shut her eyes tightly, taking a deep breath and slowly letting it out. Her fingers unconsciously twitched in her lap, and she felt Clarke slide her hand into hers, giving it a gentle squeeze. A series of beeps sounded as the ship lurched sideways and then back, flinging them forward against the seat belts and then slamming them back into the wall again. Lexa's grip on Clarke's hand tightened as her stomach turned over on itself.

"No! No, no, no! Damn it!" Raven continued to let loose a string of extraordinarily creative obscenities and slammed her hand on the control panel when the alarm sounded, followed by the computer's voice.

"Warning. Warning. Brace for impact. Mission failed. Exterior damage: 100%. Cargo destruction: 100%. Fatality: 100%."

Raven let out a frustrated scream and slapped the panel again before putting her face in her hands. Luna unbuckled her belt and scooted across the shuttle's curved seat to put her arms around her, murmuring soft words in her ear.

Lexa didn't even realize she'd been holding her breath until Clarke squeezed her hand again gently. Clarke quietly unbuckled both of their belts and helped a shaky Lexa to her feet. Clarke affectionately patted Luna's back as she helped Lexa out of the rocket and down the steps.

Murphy was laying on the floor with one arm bent behind his head and the other stuffing his face with some kind of chips from a silver bag. "Let me guess. Raven killed us all again?"

Clarke gave him a look as she escorted a traumatized-looking Lexa to the couch. "Shut up, Murphy." She sat next to Lexa, her hand on her back and rubbing her thigh lightly. "Hey.. It's gonna be okay. Raven will figure it out, she always does. She's the smartest person in any room."

Lexa looked up at her, her face still a little green. "Is that how it was when you came to the ground?"

Clarke shrugged a little. "It sucks for a minute, but it all happens really fast."

"Yeah. You don't even have time to puke more than once or twice." Murphy tossed a chip into the air, catching it expertly in his mouth.

Clarke glared at him over the back of the couch. "Could you be less helpful?"

Murphy seemed to consider it. "Probably, but to be fair I'm not trying that hard."

Clarke was looking for something to throw at him until Raven snapped from inside the rocket, "Murphy! Get your ass in here and bring me that journal."

Clarke watched with vague amusement as Murphy stood quickly. "Oh, so I get sass, but Raven gets results?"

Murphy shrugged as he grabbed the worn leather-bound journal from the table. "She scares me a lot more than you do." Off Clarke's raised eyebrow, he elaborated as he headed for the rocket. "I'm betting you don't know what chemicals to use to melt someone, and I'm betting she does." He pointed at her with the journal as Raven yelled his name again.

Clarke shook her head a little and turned back to Lexa, whose shaking was finally starting to ease. "By the time we actually go up—if we go up—the whole thing will be second nature for you. That's why we're doing the simulation ride-alongs, right?"

"Right." Lexa nodded and laced her fingers through hers, resting her head on her shoulder. "What is it like up there?"

Clarke smiled a little, running her nails comfortingly up and down Lexa's arm. "Pretty amazing. There's windows where you can look out, away from Earth, and all you see is this infinity of stars. It feels like you can reach out and touch the whole universe at once." 

Lexa smiled, tracing her fingertips over her hand, circling her knuckles idly. "That's how it feels waking up to you."

Clarke's smile grew wider, and she kissed the top of her head softly. "You're such a cornball sometimes, Commander Snugglebutt."

Lexa smacked her thigh lightly. "I told you not to call me that in front of people."

"There's no people here. Just family." Lexa rolled her eyes, but she was smiling lightly as she curled against Clarke a little tighter. 

Abby peeked around the corner just then. "Lexa, can I borrow you?"

"It's only been a couple hours since the last time," Clarke answered before Lexa could, her voice tightening.

Lexa gently pulled loose of Clarke's arms and stood, her voice soft. "It's okay, Clarke. I'm fine, and Becca agrees."

She watched with a funny expression as Abby led Lexa around and back into the lab, mumbling under her breath, "That's comforting." 

Clarke couldn't exactly put her finger on why just yet, but she definitely was beginning to have concerns about Becca's level of interest in keeping Lexa alive. After all, Becca was the one who instituted jus drein jus daun, who came up with love is weakness. Becca had handcrafted the society Lexa had turned onto its head. 

If she really let herself think about it too hard, the only person Becca could theoretically want dead more than Lexa would be herself. And of course, Lexa dismissed those concerns and had started getting annoyed anytime Clarke brought it up. But what else could she expect? How could you convince someone that their own brain was lying to them?

Clarke just hoped she was wrong. 

Chapter Text

I've tasted blood and it is sweet

I've had the rug pulled beneath my feet

I've trusted lies and trusted men

Broke down and put myself back together again

Stared in the mirror and punched it to shatters

Collected the pieces and picked out a dagger

'Cause kindness is weakness, or worse, you're complacent

I keep a record of the wreckage of my life

I gotta recognize the weapon in my mind

They talk shit, but I love it every time, and I realize

Someone like me can be a real nightmare, completely aware

I'm no sweet dream, but I'm a hell of a night

 - Halsey, “Nightmare”

 

 

 

Lexa dozed on a couch with her feet in Clarke’s lap, while Clarke sketched an exhausted Octavia collapsed against a nearly unconscious Echo. Delicious smells wafted in every so often from the kitchen where Murphy had most likely disappeared to, and Clarke’s stomach rumbled with hope that whatever it was she smelled would be passing her lips sooner rather than later.

 

She was surprised, then, when Murphy came into the sitting room with Raven and Luna trailing him. 

 

“I thought you were cooking?” She asked, unable to keep the disappointment out of her voice.

 

“I was going to, but your mom threw us out. Told us to relax, but..”

 

“But someone doesn’t know how to,” Clarke finished, giving Raven a knowing look. 

 

Raven just shrugged. “You’ll be nicer to me when you see what we found.”

 

Clarke squinted a little at the small white box Murphy held up, as Octavia let out an ungodly snore. “What’s that?”

 

Murphy smiled—a real smile, and walked over to a metal box with a variety of dials and buttons on it. He plugged some kind of a wire into the box and suddenly, for the first time since they’d left the Ark, the sweet sound of music filtered into Clarke’s ears. 

 

Her eyes grew wide as Raven grinned and kicked Octavia’s leg. “Wake up, sleeping beauty. It’s time to party.”

 

Octavia let out a sound that was some strange combination of a grunt, a snore, and a belch as her eyes flickered open in confusion. Raven kicked her again and wiggled her way over to the liquor cabinet, digging around in it for a moment before emerging triumphantly with several bottles. 

 

On Clarke’s lap, Lexa was stirring awake, her face slightly panicked at the unfamiliar sounds that echoed off the pristine metallic walls. She sat quickly as Echo, too, awoke, her body already tensed and ready for battle.

 

“The skrish is this?” Echo gasped as Octavia’s face brightened.

 

“Music?” Octavia smiled dreamily. “It’s music! Bellamy used to play this song on the Ark, it’s by a group called.. I can’t remember. Something about bugs?”

 

Murphy, of all people, grabbed Octavia’s hands and yanked her to her feet with a broad smile. “You’re a heathen. They’re called the Beatles, and they’re the best band to ever exist.”

 

Lexa blinked at Clarke with confusion as she sat up slowly, her voice unsure. “Beetles do not make sounds like this. It is.. wonderful, though.”

 

Clarke laughed and stood up, tossing down her sketch and grabbing Lexa’s hands. “Not beetles, like the insects. It’s a band, a music group.” Her lips twitched into a small, slightly sad smile. “My dad loved them.” She tugged Lexa onto her feet as Murphy started singing along loudly as he twirled a laughing Octavia around the floor.

 

Luna smiled shyly as Raven took her arms and led her into the pit of furniture as well, starting to guide her movements in tune with the song. Murphy leaned over and easily tugged Echo to her feet, spinning her into the loose embrace between Octavia and himself. 

 

Clarke pulled Lexa closer, her hands sliding over her hips as she helped her find a rhythm. Lexa’s cheeks flushed red with embarrassment, but in truth she rather liked this singing beetle, and liked the new way Clarke’s body was moving with her own even more.

 

“Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on.” Lexa smiled widely; Clarke had a lovely singing voice. It was softer, more melodic than her usual husky tone, although Lexa quite enjoyed that sound as well.

 

The song came to an end all too soon, and Murphy pulled back from the girls, who continued dancing with each other as he hopped over the back of the couch to the music player, fiddling with the dial for a moment before the first few chords of another song blared out, significantly louder and faster than before.

 

Raven let out a little squeal and bounced on her heels, immediately singing along with the song she used to dance to with her mother—when she was semi-sober, anyway; before her drunkenness had taken over every moment of her life. Octavia and Murphy joined her singing, and Clarke laughed as she tugged Lexa to a less crowded part of the floor and began dancing faster, moving her hips with the beat and guiding Lexa’s to meet hers.

 

Octavia cut in and spun Luna across the floor, and Raven and Echo laughed as they moved together. Murphy hopped up onto the coffee table in the center of the merriment and sang loudly, dancing by himself as he did, howling “Shut up and dance with me,” at the room as he spun around, playing an invisible guitar.

 

Clarke threw her head back laughing as she twirled Lexa around, and Lexa thought she’d never seen anything as beautiful as the joyful grin on her face. The room seemed to spin around her in slow motion as the people she loved danced and laughed together, the tension and fear that seemed to permeate every move they made gone in an instant. These people, the ones who had all been enemies at one point or another, had somehow become Lexa’s family before she’d even realized it was happening.  

 

Clarke laughed that deep, heady laugh again, and Lexa melted. Her eyes gazed intently into hers and it felt like they were the only people in the world for a moment; like she was singing only for Lexa. “Oh, don’t you dare look back, just keep your eyes on me,” cupping Lexa’s chin gently, “I said you’re holding back,” that smile that made her knees weak, skipping a line to give her the steely blue gaze that made Lexa’s everything weak. Cupping the back of her head gently as she continued to hold their gaze and said softly, “This woman is my destiny.” 

 

And in that moment, Lexa felt like she could fly.

 

Murphy clapped out the beat on his thigh and pointed at the pairs spinning around him in turn, encouraging them to scream the fun but repetitive lyrics they’d all figured out fairly quickly. 

 

Abby, who had come to call the motley crew to dinner, leaned against the doorframe and watched them all dancing with a calmness that was at once unfamiliar yet recognizable. She had a brief flash of her younger days that tugged on her heart; days when it had been she and Jake spinning around a dance floor as though no one else existed, lost in young love and each others’ eyes. She smiled a little sadly as the memories flowed through her; wished Jake could see the woman her daughter was turning out to be. 

 

Wished she could tell Jake that he was right, that Clarke was strong and full of affection and would overcome his death and any other challenge she faced and still be whole, still be able to find the love and happiness she deserved. That neither his death nor any other trauma could or would turn his daughter—his starshine, he’d called her when she was little—cold and hard and fearful.

 

Abby felt her smile slipping away just a little as her heart filled with the hurt she never quite let herself be distracted enough to fully feel. 

 

Murphy had noticed her in the doorway, and the boy she knew was as filled with pain as everyone in the room was despite his hard exterior, pointed at her and made a “come here” motion with his finger. Abby shook her head a little, declining, but Murphy wouldn’t be deterred. He leapt from the table and reached out, grabbing her hand and tugging her into the room. Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment—an impromptu dance party was really something for young people to enjoy—but she followed him with a roll of her eyes nonetheless as another song came on.

 

Murphy led her into the area, shoving a chair further back as he did to make room, and began dancing with her. Abby hesitated and glanced around unsurely.

 

Octavia and Lexa were now dancing together alongside Raven and Luna, while Clarke and Echo held each others’ arms and twirled in a wide circle together. Abby felt herself smiling again and gave in, dancing with Murphy, who howled with approval at her acquiescence. She laughed, and it shocked her to realize that she couldn’t even remember the last time she’d done that. Not since Jake’s death, surely. Maybe even longer.

 

Clarke glanced over and saw her normally serious and reserved mother laughing—laughing—as Murphy easily twirled her across the floor. She felt the brief sting of tears in her eyes and caught Abby’s gaze as she spun in Echo’s arms easily, the Griffin girls nodding to one another in mutual approval. Echo laughed as they banged into a couch and wordlessly they both shoved it further out of the way. Octavia and Raven were doing the same on the other side as Luna and Lexa danced awkwardly together, both of them trying to find the rhythm that had seemed to come so easily to their lovers from the sky.

 

Octavia grabbed the bottles Raven had dug out and the two of them began filling glasses as everyone slowly broke apart, labored breathing filling the room and a sheen of sweat on every body. Even Abby took a fluted glass, sipping the sweet champagne with her eyes fluttering shut briefly, the taste surrounding her with even more memories of life before Earth.

 

Clarke offered Lexa her glass and rubbed her back affectionately as she took a sip and smiled before whispering something in her ear. Clarke’s face brightened with a smile that was all Jake and slid her arm around Lexa’s shoulders. Octavia, Murphy, and Echo had collapsed onto one of the couches and were giggling over something together as Murphy ferreted yet another silver package from his cargo pocket, offering whatever sugary treat surely laid within to the girls. Luna yelped with a laugh as Raven sat in one of the arm chairs and pulled her onto her lap. Knowingly, Luna rubbed Raven’s sore leg as they continued giggling together.

 

Clarke perched on the edge of the couch Lexa, Octavia, and Echo had sank into, sipping her champagne and gazing around the room, quietly soaking in the relaxed laughter of people she would unquestionably die for. Breathing in the scent of what would no doubt be an amazing meal crafted at Abby’s hands, the feel of her heart pounding exuberantly, the casual way Lexa rested her head against her thigh tiredly. She stroked her hair lazily, watching the room full of former enemies laughing together, and she thought offhandedly that Becca Pramheda had probably never had this in her life. If she had, she never would have imagined love as a weakness.

 

Because there wasn’t a single person in this room that Clarke wouldn’t die for. There was nobody in this room she wouldn’t live for, either.

 

Really, wasn’t that worth more, anyway? Dying was surprisingly easy—it was living that came with the true challenges.

 


 

 

Everyone slept in the next morning. 

 

Clarke awoke early, the telltale pounding of a hangover drumming inside her head, but felt no regret. She even thought last night might have been the best night of her life. She smiled, remembering her friends—no, her family—dancing and singing, eating together, shrouded in a cloth of relaxation they had all needed badly and rarely got.

 

She smiled before her eyes even opened, yawning and stretching her arm out to search for Lexa. When her fingers ran over cool, curiously unrumpled sheets, her eyes opened quickly and she sat up with a frown. The sheets and blankets were still tucked in on the other side of the suddenly overly large-seeming bed, betraying the fact that Lexa had not slept in the spot.

 

Clarke rubbed the sleep from her eyes and glanced out the window; the sun was just barely starting to peek over the horizon, and she felt a hard knot forming in the pit of her stomach as her mind raced through a dozen possible scenarios that had led to her sleeping alone. Most of them revolved around something terrible happening as she slid from the bed and quickly sought pants.

 

She was still tying the drawstring as her half-asleep feet stumbled towards the door when it opened to reveal Lexa in an apologetic frenzy.

 

“I am so sorry Klark, I didn’t realize how late it was, I wa—oof.” Lexa was cut off by Clarke flinging herself at her, wrapping her arms around her tightly, still shaking slightly with the anxiety that coursed through her. Lexa quickly returned the embrace, hugging her close and rubbing her back, her eyes closed and guilt weighing on her. 

 

“I don’t care,” Clarke mumbled into her shoulder. “Just glad you’re oka—” Clarke paused, her brow furrowing as she reluctantly lifted her head. “Are you.. wearing glasses?”

 

Lexa just looked at her guiltily from behind the silver frames whose lenses made her eyes seem even larger and more vulnerable than usual. “I was up with Raven. We were going over the journals, and I mentioned Becca’s fuzzy handwriting, and she thought maybe..”

 

Clarke swallowed the lump in her throat that seemed to appear every time she heard the First Commander’s name these days, and leaned her head back a little further to take her in. Lexa just looked back at her unsurely, only relaxing when Clarke smiled a little. “They look good on you. Kinda sexy, really.”

 

“I do not think so, Klark. I look silly, but I can see things so much more clearly.”

 

Clarke paused, remembering the thumps and soft giggles coming from Raven and Luna’s room long after she’d gone to bed, and smirked knowingly. “You weren’t with Raven all night though, were you?”

 

Lexa shrugged a little. “Most of it. Then I was.. just.. on the couch..”

 

Clarke raised an eyebrow at her. “You were reading, weren’t you? That’s why you forgot to come to bed.” The splotch of red adorning Lexa’s cheeks told her all she needed to know, and Clarke smirked again and kissed her lightly. “You’re such a dork, Commander.”

 

“What is a dork? Your gonasleng words and traditions grow increasingly strange the more of them I learn,” Lexa responded, curling her fingers through messy blonde tangles. 

 

Clarke laughed softly and shut their bedroom door. “Come on, Commander. There’s still time for you to get some sleep before everyone else gets up.”

 

Lexa let herself be led to the bed, the exhaustion settling in. “Sleep sounds very nice, actually.”

 


 

 

Clarke slept for several more hours before she woke up, once more, to an empty bed. This time she opened her eyes quickly, before the panic could set in, and took a breath when she saw Lexa sitting at the desk in the corner. She was reading a book, her brow lined with intensity as she poured over the text.

 

Lexa, feeling eyes on her, glanced up and smiled. “Good afternoon.”

 

Clarke stretched a little. “Did you sleep at all?”

 

“Mm.” 

 

“Lexa..”

 

“We can go to bed early tonight to make up for it,” Lexa offered, her tone suggestive.

 

“We can go to sleep early tonight to make up for it,” Clarke corrected her, knowing full well Lexa would be interested in more than sleeping that night if she didn’t shut that plan down immediately.

 

Lexa pouted a little, but off Clarke’s glare, turned back to her book. Clarke grabbed her sketch pad and settled back against the headboard, the sudden urge to draw Lexa this way overtaking her as her fingers searched the messy nightstand on her side for her charcoal. 

 

Clarke studied her quietly, taking in the neat but simple ponytail that had Raven’s name all over it. She watched a delicate finger nudge up the delicate wire-rims Raven had no doubt found among Becca’s belongings. They sat perched on her upturned nose like they'd been made for her as she stared down at the pages on the desk, entranced in the stories whose words were clearer than Lexa had ever seen before. 

 

Clarke found herself entranced by the strange but endearing image of what might have been in another lifetime, a small smile curving her lips as she rolled the piece of willow charcoal between her fingertips. 

 

The smile, however, turned to a frown and furrowed brow when several long elegant fingers reached out and tugged a steaming mug closer, bringing it to a set of plump lips that smacked slightly as she sipped. 

 

“Is that.. coffee?" Clarke asked, her voice sounding tight and foreign even to her own ears. 

 

“Mhm." Lexa didn't look up from the book. 

 

Clarke frowned harder. “You don't like coffee."

 

Lexa merely gave her a noncommittal shrug. Clarke, aggravated with this newest development for reasons she couldn't really sort out at the moment, set her charcoal and pad aside and repeated herself more firmly, unsure whether she was trying to convince Lexa or herself. “You don't like it. I made you some, and you called it swill. That you'd rather drink with the horses than even try it again."

 

Lexa sighed and pressed her fingers to the page to mark her spot as she finally looked up at her, her face the portrait of patient annoyance. “I guess this just tastes better than that.”

 

It wasn't a dig; she knew that. but it felt like one, and Clarke felt her shoulders tightening even more. “You expect me to believe that the cockroach makes better coffee than I do?" 

 

Bright green eyes burned into hers as they narrowed slightly. “John is quite talented in the kitchen, as I’m sure you’re aware. That being said, you're being ridiculous. It's just coffee, and it helps headaches and gives you energy when you haven't slept." 

 

Clarke bristled a little. “Maybe you'd sleep better if you actually came to bed." 

 

Lexa just looked at her dispassionately for a moment before turning back to her book. Clarke, having  reached her boiling point, merely stomped from the room, slamming the door so hard it vibrated through the walls and tipped over the neat line of books Octavia had brought her from the library. They hit the floor with a series of thick thuds, and Lexa frowned in annoyance as she slid to the floor and began putting them back diligently.

 

So what if she was drinking coffee and, suddenly, enjoying it? Maybe John made it differently than Clarke had. Maybe Lexa’s tastes had changed over the past month. Maybe it was all in her head and she still hated it, but her body was tricking her because it truly did help with her headaches and exhaustion. Honestly, who knew?

 

Regardless of reason, she found herself moving to the bed on what felt like instinct alone and sitting cross-legged. She focused her breathing for a few moments, her eyes closed. She breathed out slowly and felt the slight tingle down her spine that preceded her soft slip into brief unconsciousness. When she opened her eyes, she was sitting on her throne at a long wooden table. As had become customary recently, only Becca waited for her, sipping a cup of coffee she’d brought from her mind space and sliding another cup towards Lexa.

 

Becca’s voice had its usual mildly clipped but melodic tone to it. “She was being ridiculous, you were right. Even if it was a problem, that was unnecessarily dramatic.”

 

Lexa sat back in the throne, sighing heavily and taking a sip of the coffee. “I know she’s just worried, especially with the headaches and all the testing, but she should trust her mother, and she should trust you.”

 

Becca leaned forward a little. “You trust me, as you should. There’s no way for her to see all of what you see, but she should trust you, Lexa.” 

 

Lexa frowned, lowering the cup. “She does trust me.”

 

Becca lifted an eyebrow. “Really? Because it doesn’t seem like it. She has a temper tantrum every time you try to make a decision for yourself. She treats you like a child, not the Commander. She doesn’t trust you and she doesn’t respect you.”

 

Lexa felt a knot quickly forming in the pit of her stomach and she chewed her lower lip, fingering the closure of her left bracer as she often did, finding the familiar motion calming. “That’s not true, Heda. She respects me, trusts me. Clarke loves me.”

 

She knew she’d said the wrong thing when Becca crossed her arms on the table and looked at her disapprovingly, shaking her head in disappointment. “Love is weakness, Leksa. You know that. Clarke isn’t concerned about saving the world or your people. Her only concerns are selfish ones, and she is a distraction from our mission.” 

 

Lexa’s jaw tightened, her dark eyes flashing a little. “That is not true.”

 

Becca leaned forward earnestly, unperturbed by the anger carved into Lexa’s expression. “It is true. She stands in the way at every opportunity. She pushes you in the direction she wants you to go in. Just like Titus, and Gustus. And still, you ignore you’re calling, your duty. Your destiny, Heda.”

 

Destiny. She briefly thought of Clarke’s infectious laughter and the meaningful gaze in her eyes as she sang to her, and Lexa could take no more, the rage bubbling in her chest and threatening to boil over as she slammed her hands down on the table and stood. “Clarke and I are saving the world together, and we will continue to do so. I have seen your memories, Bekka—all of them as you wished me to.”

 

“And what is it you think you have seen in my memories, Leksa?” There was a bite to Becca’s tone; a clench to her jaw. In this shared mindspace, she had some idea of what Lexa was inching towards, and she steeled herself for it.

 

Lexa’s voice hissed between her lips, her gaze dark and dangerous, her voice low and firm. “You say love is weakness because the man you swore fealty to ended the world. He failed at a most simple task, and you have borne the blame for it. That does not make love weakness, Bekka Pramheda. It means love was your weakness.”

 

Becca’s face paled quickly, and it took all of Lexa’s strength to not shake as she turned away, seeming to melt back into her body in reality.

 

Lexa’s eyes opened, still dark as they had been in the mindspace, and focused in on the drawings that surrounded her; the drawings that sang of Clarke’s love from every corner of the room. Her heart raced from the fear and exhilaration of her disrespect towards Bekka, shocked at her own actions. She would go back later, she thought, and apologize. She did not think she was wrong, of course, but she did think she was unnecessarily cruel; particularly if Becca had felt towards him the way she herself felt towards Clarke. She simply did not know how to make it any more clear to Becca that Clarke was not a hindrance to their goals; rather she was instrumental in achieving them. She would make Becca understand that.

 

Lexa sighed and rubbed her face tiredly as her head began to throb yet again. She would ask Abby for another of those delightful pills, most likely—but only after she had spoken to Clarke about their disagreement earlier. She needed her head to be clear if she was going to make things right.

 

She unfolded her legs and stood from the bed, her vision blurring and the world tilting sideways as she did. She reached for the bedpost to steady herself, but missed it as she fell forward. The floor rushed up to meet her as she knocked over the books she had been stacking just minutes ago, and her body clenched tight as a trip wire, bile rising in her throat.

 

She felt the foamy bile pushing past her lips, her tongue seeming to fill her mouth at the same time as she hit the floor. She heard herself gagging and gasping as every muscle she had went stiff as a board, her body vibrating uncontrollably through the tension like the skin of a war drum.

 

And then Lexa was plunged into the blackest darkness she had ever seen and she suddenly felt nothing at all.

Chapter Text

 

I tried to tie my heart down, board up all the windows

Oh but it's too late now, I let you get too close

I know I should take cover, hide inside these four walls

But baby I surrender it all, ‘cause you’re a force of nature

So pull me to the ground and I won't put up a fight

I'm a caution taker, but baby you're a force of nature

And I know I'll be broken when it's over, but I can't help but pull you closer

I'll be here 'till we collide, I don't care if I survive

So crash into me one more time

- Bea Miller, “Force of Nature”

 

 

Clarke sat in one of the empty bedrooms. She didn’t feel like returning to her own room after fighting with Lexa again, especially since she was well aware that she’d overreacted, but she was still too upset to apologize yet. She had initially gone into the living room, but the fresh memories of their carefree dancing combined with the presence of the others made the rather large area feel claustrophobic nonetheless. She’d sat for a few minutes before excusing herself, blaming her hangover.

 

The room was small and bare; completely impersonal, which was what she wanted at the moment so she could think. It was like a blank canvas for her to marinate in the thoughts she chose to instead of the onslaught of familiarity that frequently led to her already chaotic thoughts being even less linear and productive.

 

Despite what Lexa thought, it wasn’t jealousy over Murphy’s obviously superior kitchen skills that had set Clarke on edge; rather, it was the suddenness of it all and Lexa’s apparent indifference to it. Clarke didn’t want to be paranoid, but it was getting increasingly hard for her to separate legitimate threats and the anxiety her fear produced from one another these days.

 

She would bet anything that Becca had just loved coffee. 

 

Clarke sighed at herself as she flopped back onto the bed. She was probably right, but she probably also could have approached the whole thing better. Replaying the conversation in her head, she’d practically attacked Lexa about it; a method which hadn’t in the past yielded the desired results, either. Sure, she was scared; Lexa was so blindly devoted to Becca at times that she dismissed any concerns, which was totally unreasonable, if Clarke said so herself. 

 

But there had to be a better way to broach the subject with Lexa than getting pissed and storming out. Oddly, Clarke found herself replaying her conversation with Echo, and it made her feel even guiltier than before.

 

 

 

“Would you rather watch Lexa risk her life trying to save the world, or watch her lose her world and die knowing she might have saved it?” 

 

“It’s only new to to us. The Commander’s life has always belonged to her people.”

 

 

 

Clarke really liked being right, but no matter what direction she came at the current situation from, she couldn’t justify having a fit over a cup of coffee. And maybe Murphy really did just make better coffee than she did, or maybe it was the fancy coffeemaker that did it. Maybe Lexa was right and she needed to back off a little, especially over something as stupid as this was. 

 

Clarke rubbed her face with a groan—she hated admitting she was wrong almost as much as she hated Tang—but Lexa deserved an apology, and she really wanted to give her one.

 

She was just pushing herself off the bed when static crackled loudly over the intercom, scaring the life out of her. She slipped against the blanket and landed on the floor, missing the first part of Octavia’s message to her fall and the intermittent breaks and static over the line.

 

“Find yo—to the infirma—eksa ha—cident. Hur—arke.”

 

Clarke blinked slowly, still mildly stunned from the fall while her brain struggled to fill in the blanks as she climbed unsteadily to her feet. Her body stiffened slightly as the pieces began to fall into place.

 

“Lexa had an accident. Hurry Clarke.”

 

Clarke shot out the door.

 


 

Clarke didn’t know exactly what she was expecting when she burst into the room, but it wasn’t Lexa laying unconscious in a hospital bed, hooked up to a half dozen pieces of equipment with a saline drip running into her arm. She gasped as she skidded to a stop, not even noticing Luna in the corner, crying as Raven rocked her and whispered into her ear with a comforting tone.

 

Lexa looked pale, and Clarke was sure her own face must have mirrored hers as she rushed to her side, grabbing her hand, brushing past her mother to do so.

 

“What happened?” Clarke snapped, her voice strained and distracted as she ran her eyes over the monitors, needing to see Lexa’s vitals for herself.

 

“Luna found her on the floor in your room. It looks like she had a tonic-clonic seizure.” Abby’s voice was tight, all business as she charted the current vitals onto her clipboard.

 

Clarke shook her head a little, not understanding. “People wake up after, and she’s not convulsing.” Abby opened her mouth, but she answered her own question, addressing herself quietly. “Sedatives, of course.” 

 

She seemed to snap out of it suddenly, putting on the ‘medical staff’ hat that had so often replaced the ‘personal problem’ hat so often in Abby’s own life. 

 

“What did you give her?” She put her hand out for the clipboard, and Abby handed over the chart unquestioningly. 

 

“One milligram of Ativan, IV push. She won’t sleep long, but she was panicked by the time we got her back here, and I need to do an EEG on her.”

 

Clarke was reading through the makeshift chart, her face stony and detached. “Do a CT while she’s out.”

 

Abby put her hand gently on Clarke’s shoulder, her tone hesitant. “Lexa’s already said no to the catscan more than once before this, honey.”

 

Clarke’s jaw tightened, her eyes flashing as she shoved the clipboard roughly back into her mother’s hands. “Lexa’s not conscious, and after the Ativan, she can’t consent to anything for 24 hours under Exodus law anyway. I’m the closest thing she has to next of kin, and I said to do a goddamn CT.”

 

Clarke dropped into the chair beside Lexa’s bed, taking her hand once more, her face expressionless. Abby glanced to Raven, who just shrugged and lifted one hand a little. “I uh.. I’m gonna take Luna back to our room, unless—?”

 

Abby’s lips were pressed tightly together. “That’s fine, Raven. If she has another panic attack, just buzz me.”

 

Once they were gone, Abby closed her eyes briefly before turning back to her daughter. “Clarke, you know that—”

 

“I don’t care,” Clarke whispered tersely. “I don’t care. I love her, Mom. And that thing in her head is trying to kill her, I know it is. This is the way to prove it. I don’t care if she hates me for it. We’re doing a CT, and that’s that.”

 


 

Abby was back in the lab with Raven while they waited for the computers to finish rendering the scans, leaving Clarke alone with Lexa, who had regained consciousness but was even more out of it than she’d been on the painkillers.

 

“I do not know what happened, Klark,” Lexa mumbled hazily for the third time. 

 

“I know, niron. It’s okay. You don’t have to worry about what happened.” Clarke lifted her hand to her lips, kissing it reassuringly. She was thankful Lexa’s state of mind was currently too altered for her to notice or process that Clarke’s eyes were filled to the brim with unshed tears she continued to choke back. “You’re safe now, you’re with me. I won’t let anything happen to you, I promise.”

 

Lexa smiled sleepily and weakly squeezed her hand. “My protector.. Yu don shil ai op otaim..”

 

Otaim, niron. Ai hod yu in, Leksa.” Clarke leaned forward, kissing her forehead softly. Lexa sighed contentedly, but Clarke frowned and turned her head a little, pressing her cheek to her forehead instead. It was clammy, and her face was paling suddenly before her eyes.

 

Ai hod yu—” Lexa’s face froze mid sentence, and Clarke could only drop her hand and watch on in horror as Lexa went into another seizure right before her eyes.

 

Clarke couldn’t remember what to do—were you supposed to restrain them? Put something in their mouth so they didn’t swallow their tongue? This was basic first aid, but she couldn’t think. An increasingly panicked Clarke leapt to her feet, knocking over her chair in the process as someone screamed for Abby. It took her a minute to realize it was her that was screaming, as Lexa’s slack vocal chords grunted in time with her convulsions. 

 

Clarke didn’t even feel Echo’s arms go around her, guiding her back towards the wall while Abby tended to Lexa. She didn’t hear Echo’s whispered words of reassurance or feel the softness of the shirt she wore as she used it to gently wipe away the heavy stream of tears from her face. Clarke’s body shook, wracked with sobs, and the world seemed to fade away from her. 

 

Echo pulled her into a tight embrace and rubbed her back comfortingly, telling her it would be okay. That Lexa would be okay. That they would all be okay. Echo just held and held Clarke, her eyes closing briefly as she rocked the girl from the sky and lied to her.

 

And Clarke, who clung to Echo like a lifeline, like she was the only air left in the room, sobbed into her shoulder and gladly accepted the lies like the gift they were.

 


 

 

“No. No way! We just have to find another way to save the world, because it’ll be over my dead body if you stuff her into the radiation chamber after this! Mom!” 

 

Clarke’s face was nearly purple with rage, her eyes still puffy and swollen from crying as she’d watched Lexa seizing just a few hours ago.

 

“Clarke,” Abby’s face had a strained expression, her voice weary. “We have no choice. She won’t let Luna do it, and Luna won’t disobey her. If we don’t continue to work the Nightblood problem, we will all die, and this is the only way to do it. Her tests all came back just fine.” She emphasized the ‘all’ and Clarke bristled at the implication.

 

Clarke wasn’t sure what she was angrier about; what Becca was doing to Lexa, what Abby wanted to do to Lexa, what Lexa was allowing to be done to her, or the fact that any of them had to go through any of this shit in the first place. She just knew she was angry about it all, and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t unclench her fists; only think about driving them into a wall.

 

“It is not your choice, Klark. I do not wish to fight about this with you again,” Lexa snapped wearily from her hospital bed.

 

Lexa, Clarke decided. She was angriest about Lexa’s stupid pride and lousy choices.

 

“That’s too bad, cause as long as you think you’re gonna do this, we’re definitely gonna fight about it. You’ve already ponied up more blood than is even safe in that amount of time, plus you’ve had two marrow aspirations in the last week, and you just had two seizures in the past hour! Now you want to get stuffed into a box and irradiated?”

 

Lexa made a tired, dismissive motion with her hand. “You overreact again, Clarke. Just like with the coffee. That.. cat scan, the one I said no to that you did anyway? I know it was just fine. I am just fine.”

 

“Is that you talking, or Becca?” Clarke asked, but there was no fire in it. She was tired, and scared, and all she wanted was to take Lexa back to their room and hold onto her for the rest of their lives. She was tired of sacrificing for their people. 

 

Lexa scowled. “Enough, Klark. I am quite clear on where you stand, and I am sorry that you are so distressed by all of this. But it is not your choice, and that is final.”

 

Clarke stunned everyone—perhaps herself most of all—when she put her fist through a cabinet before stalking out of the infirmary in silence.

 

Somehow, Clarke found herself back in the empty lab, staring at the rad chamber and briefly considering putting her fist through it, too. Instead, she punched a flat computer screen that didn’t break and merely fell over, and then into a mirror that shattered into a thousand angled shards at her feet as she let out a primal scream and continued punching the spot where the mirror used to be.

 

She punched and punched and yelled in frustration until she felt her voice straining and her knuckles splitting from the pressure of the metal wall the mirror had been hung on.

 

Clarke glanced at the shattered glass around her feet, rubbing her bloodied fist as the memory of Lexa seizing on the floor played on a loop in her head. There was no way Lexa was coming back into this lab, even if it meant Clarke had to lock her in a closet to prevent it. She’d sooner have the world crumble at her feet than allow Lexa be put in the radiation chamber. Not after this morning. 

 

She knew Lexa would never allow Luna to take her place, either. Luna was not a leader, and Lexa’s pride would certainly get in the way as would Luna’s devotion to the Commander.

 

Clarke studied her fist, the thick red liquid dripping from between her knuckles, and something suddenly occurred to her.

 

Marrow.

 


 

 

Luna sat on the exam table with Raven’s arm around her, her hip still numb from the anesthetic Clarke had given her before the aspiration. Clarke swallowed thickly as she studied the glass vial in her hand that she’d taken from Luna, trying not to think about how pissed Lexa was going to be.

 

Her hand shook a little as she attached the capped needle to it, and Raven slid to her feet and came over. Unexpectedly, she put her arm around Clarke, kissing her temple lightly. “Let me.”

 

Clarke looked at her unsurely, but Raven’s jaw was set as she nodded. “I can do it. Just show me where.”

 

Thankfully, Clarke sat on the other table and rolled her sleeve up, wiping the area down with an antiseptic wipe and pointing to the spot. Raven stepped in and started to uncap the syringe when a very angry voice echoed in from the hallway.

 

“—out of her mind! I will not allow any of this. Why did you not tell me sooner?”

 

“I’m sorry, Heda. I didn’t know. I only found out when I came to get Abby’s files, and I saw wh—”

 

“Never mind it now,” Lexa snapped.

 

Raven’s eyes widened as Lexa, still in her pajamas, stormed into the room through the airlock with fire in her eyes. Octavia trailed her, the guilt all over her face. 

 

“Really, O?” Clarke snapped in annoyance.

 

“I’m sorry, Clarke. It’s m—” 

 

Octavia was cut off by Lexa slamming her hand on a countertop. “It is her job to tell me when people are going against my direct orders,” she said, with a withering look at Luna.

 

“Technically your order was for Luna to not give blood samples or spend time in the rad chamber,” Raven said, a little meekly. “You didn’t order her not to donate bone marrow.”

 

Lexa’s head spun a little, the combination of the seizures and her anger making her unsteady. “Leave us,” she snapped. 

 

“All of us, or just me?” Raven asked, her voice just slightly challenging. Off Lexa’s look, she decided to shut her mouth, and helped Luna into the nearby wheelchair, grabbing a bottle of painkillers before they followed Octavia out the door.

 

Clarke, who hadn’t said a word the entire time, just continued to stare at her silently.

 

Lexa slammed her palm on the button to shut the airlock and turned back to her. “I thought we were done with this, Clarke. I thought we agreed that I would be the one to make my decisions for myself.”

 

“We did,” Clarke agreed. 

 

Lexa gestured around the lab. “Then what is this?”

 

“Me. Making decisions for myself,” came the firm response. 

 

Lexa grit her teeth, working her jaw slowly. “That is unfair. They’re not the same things, Klark. You making the decision to do this in my stead is—”

 

“I think they are the same. Sometimes we do what’s best for the person we love, even if they don’t realize it’s what’s best for them. Like hunting them down in the woods and locking them up in Polis tower for their own safety,” she added coolly.

 

Lexa felt herself stiffen slightly. “That is not the same!”

 

“Isn’t it? You could have let me decide if I wanted to come back instead of having Octavia tying me up like a dog and dragging me there.”

 

“You could have been killed.”

 

“You could be killed! Did you think getting stuck in the rad chamber didn’t have any serious side effects or something?” Clarke was standing now, her voice rippling back and forth between rage, fear, and tears she was trying to repress beneath it all. 

 

“Of course not. But I was born with the blood, and it’s my duty to ensure our people’s survival. It is not Luna’s destiny nor yours to lead them.”

 

Clarke stepped closer, the anger melting away as she slid her hands over Lexa’s shoulders, her voice softer than before. “You’re my destiny.”

 

Lexa looked at her unsurely. “Beja, Klark. Do not do this. I wish to be angry with you right now.”

 

Clarke kissed her neck softly. “But there’s better things you could be doing with me right now.” Her hands stroked gently up Lexa’s sides, carefully pressing her back into the exam table. A shudder went through Lexa’s body as she pictured their first kiss and grew stronger when Clarke’s lips met hers in a near replay of that day. It was as though Clarke had memorized every microscopic detail of that first kiss, the way Lexa had, from the placement of their hands to the movements of their tongues, and Lexa helplessly melted against her.

 

Clarke pressed her hips into her, and Lexa pressed back eagerly, remembering how the rest of the afternoon had gone that day. Clarke slid her hands down to the backs of her thighs and Lexa hopped as she’d done before, letting Clarke lift her onto the table. 

 

If it was possible, Lexa kissed her even deeper than the first time. Her hands were everywhere; sliding through Clarke’s hair, over her breasts, down her sides to her hips. Pulling her closer, kissing her hungrily and running her toes slowly up the backs of Clarke’s legs.

 

She let out an involuntary moan as Clarke broke the kiss, cupping her hands over Lexa’s cheeks. Lexa was surprised to see her eyes were glassy, almost as if she were about to start crying. Well, perhaps she had a right to. The procedure wasn’t without risk, that was certain, and Lexa imagined she would feel quite the same way if it was Clarke going into the rad chamber instead of herself. 

 

In fact, that’s why she had ripped out the IV Abby had given her and barreled down the hallway despite feeling awful after the seizures; because the thought of Clarke doing the procedure made her stomach tighten, made her feel sick and panicked. She’d had to stop it, even if it upset Clarke.

 

She kissed her again, looking somewhat bewildered when Clarke did not respond, and in fact pulled away slightly. She searched the brilliant blue eyes before her curiously, and Clarke gazed back, her voice incredibly soft when she whispered, “I’m sorry.”

 

Lexa’s brow furrowed, and she cupped her cheek reverently. “Sorry? For what, niron?”

 

“For this.” 

 

Clarke moved too fast for Lexa to react. She barely realized Clarke had let go of her before Clarke was jamming the syringe into her upper arm. Lexa watched with a mixture of confusion, anger, and fear as she depressed the plunger quickly, forcing the thick black liquid into her body as Lexa looked on, her face frozen in a mask of horror. 

Chapter Text

This is going to bring me clarity

This'll take the heart right out of me

She is everything I need that I never knew I wanted

She is everything I want that I never knew I needed

This is going to bring me to my knees

I just want to hold you close to me

- The Fray, “She Is” 

 

 

Lexa’s face was ashen, working her clenched jaw more tightly than ever as she shuffled down the hallway alongside Clarke, reluctantly leaning on her for support.

 

In the moment, she hated herself for needing Clarke’s help, but her legs were wildly unsteady and painful. They were weak and shaky, almost in the way that strange bubbly drink had made them feel the night before but more intensely; yet somehow her muscles felt overtightened at the same time.

 

Clarke, who hadn’t said a word since injecting herself, seemed to be reading her thoughts.

 

“It’s called hypertonia. It’s.. neurological. Makes your muscles spastic and rigid, and can be pretty painful. It’ll be from the seizures.” Her voice was surprisingly soft.

 

“I am fine,” Lexa gritted out between her teeth, determined to stay upset. Clarke, for her part, let Lexa lie to her and silently continued helping her down the hallway.

 

Abby was standing quietly in the infirmary when they arrived, her lips pursed and a stern glare in her eyes. Clarke remembered that look. It was the one she’d gotten when Abby returned home from work to find that a young Clarke had marinated herself with an entire bottle of Jake’s homemade cologne; a bottle that had cost a week’s worth of credits. It was the look she’d gotten when Abby walked in on Clarke and Wells making out in their kitchen beside a bottle of moonshine when they were meant to be at school. It was the look she’d gotten when she’d challenged Abby’s authority at the gate to Arkadia and sent Emerson out it with far too little air for his trip.

 

Clarke hesitated for a moment in the doorway and briefly entertained the fantasy that the look was for Lexa’s stunt with the IV; however that fantasy was quickly shattered when she saw Octavia, Raven, and Luna sitting along the wall in a close rendition of the ‘three wise monkeys’, their faces painted with guilt.

 

Oh, yeah. They were all in for it.

 

Abby helped Clarke get Lexa back into the hospital bed and then silently pointed to the other bed before setting about hooking Lexa’s IV up again. Clarke felt like a misbehaved puppy—her head lowered, tail tucked between her legs, her chest heavy with shame as she quietly sat down on the other bed. 

 

The room was silent for far too long; well past the point of serious discomfort—as Abby hooked Lexa back up to the rest of the monitors, and then began doing the same to Clarke. Her tightly pressed lips never once parted, and the moderately sized room felt like a tiny, claustrophobic box; as though the amount of trouble they were all in at this point was simply too much to be concentrated in one space.

 

Clarke watched quietly as Abby drew blood that was still infuriatingly red into several tubes and set them in the aliquot rack. When she’d taken a few samples, she freed Clarke’s arm from the tourniquet and carried the rack to the centrifuge and began loading the tubes into it.

 

Raven was the first to crack under the pressure of the silent treatment. “Abby, I’m sorry.”

 

Abby’s voice was surprisingly casual as she set the empty aliquot rack aside. “For what, Raven? For subjecting Luna to a potentially dangerous and definitely painful marrow aspiration done by someone untrained in the procedure? For putting someone who was traumatized this morning to the point of needing sedation through something else traumatic? Or maybe you’re sorry for doing it all behind my back?”

 

Raven shrank against the wall, suddenly feeling like the smallest person on the planet, lowering her eyes as Luna took her hand comfortingly.

 

Abby turned to Luna, her tone still eerily casual. “Luna, you consented to a procedure you knew would be dangerous, that you knew was being done behind my back, and in direct opposition to your Commander’s orders.” Closing the door to the centrifuge, she turned her gaze on Octavia. “I sent you to get my files well before you came back with them. You deliberately waited until the procedure was over to say anything, because you knew neither Lexa nor I would have allowed it.”

 

She had? That was news to Clarke, and she felt her anger towards Octavia melting away quickly. She’d helped them protect Lexa in a way that didn’t immediately ensure her dismissal as Lexa’s advisor. Fairly brilliant, really, and Clarke felt the smallest of smiles cross her lips as she nodded slightly to Octavia, who subtly nodded back at her.

 

“You all should have known better,” Abby said, setting the numbers on the centrifuge and turning back to the girls, her arms crossed disapprovingly.

 

“Abby is right. You all sho—” Lexa began, but Abby turned the Mom Look on her, and Clarke almost felt bad, as the mere look of disappointment from Abby washed away the anger on her face and replaced it entirely with shame.

 

“You should know better, too, Lexa. You and I have discussed your symptoms at length, and I thought you understood the fragile state your body is in right now.”

 

“I do! But I—” Lexa protested, but quickly went quiet when Abby held her hand up.

 

“You don’t. If you understood the severity of your situation, you wouldn’t have ripped out your IV and stormed across the compound to the lab. You wouldn’t dismiss the concerns of the people around you who love you, and you definitely wouldn’t have ordered Luna not to participate in your place. You used her devotion to you against her, and that was both manipulative and just plain stupid.”

 

Lexa’s face turned to a mask of even deeper shame as her head lowered, and Clarke would have felt bad for the way she knew Lexa must be feeling, but she was more worried that Abby had saved her for last—although she hadn’t really expected any different. 

 

Abby slowly turned back towards Clarke and they regarded each other for a few very long, silent moments. The quiet was practically overwhelming by the time Abby finally spoke, shaking her head a little.

 

“I don’t even know what to say to you, Clarke. I’ve never been more disappointed in you than I am right now. I know you had good intentions, but the way you went about it was..” Abby trailed off, at a brief loss for words, and opted not to finish the statement. 

 

“Clarke, you did a procedure you’re not trained in, on a young woman who couldn’t possibly understand the extent of the dangers involved in it. You violated the trust of every person in this room. You forced a test on Lexa that she was very clear about not wanting—” Abby held her hand up once more as Clarke opened her mouth to respond. 

 

“Whether or not Lexa’s choice regarding the CT was ill-advised or not—and I think it was extraordinarily ill-advised—it was still Lexa’s choice to make. You took her choice away. You also used Luna’s devotion to manipulate her into helping you. You dragged Raven into it, and however inadvertently, you dragged Octavia into it as well.”

 

Abby’s lips tightened into a thin line as Clarke fought back the urge to cry as if she were a little girl soaked in expensive cologne once more. “Not to mention, you’ve injected yourself with a substance we barely even understand, in a non-sterile environment, and without a single person with medical training present. I’ve been disappointed in you before, Clarke, but never to this degree. Never to the point of feeling ashamed of you.”

 

That did it.

 

Clarke felt the hot tears stinging her eyes as she turned her face away, willing them to stay where they were; where no one could see them. They began running down her cheeks anyway, but from what she could see, she wasn’t the only one in the room choking back tears at this point, anyway.

 

Abby, glancing around the room at the young women she couldn’t help but feel responsible for, relaxed her shoulders and tone just a little, figuring she’d done what she had hoped to.

 

“Raven, Octavia. Please get one of the stretchers from the other room and bring it in here. Luna needs rest, fluids, and painkillers, and I’d rather have all of my patients in here where I can keep an eye on them.”

 

Octavia and Raven slowly climbed to their feet, and Raven felt another thick pang of guilt as she realized how pale Luna looked, her face fighting off a pained grimace. They returned quickly with the third stretcher and helped a shaky Luna onto it.

 

Abby brought a chair to the side of Luna’s bed and quietly explained what she was doing as she hooked her up to an IV of D10 and gave her medication for pain and nausea. Once she was finished, she retrieved Clarke’s samples while Raven curled up in the chair, holding Luna’s hand in both of hers. 

 

Abby motioned for Octavia to follow her out of the room. “They can all use some rest, and Echo and I could use a hand in the lab today, if you’re up to it.”

 

Octavia, eager to contribute as something other than hall monitor, nodded. “I’m up to it.”

 

“Good. Follow me.”

 


 

Several hours of silence, sleep, and enough blood draws to leave her woozy later, Clarke awoke in the dimmed lab. Luna and Raven were gone, but Lexa was still there, curled onto her side facing the wall and away from her.

 

Abby came in just as Clarke was pushing herself up to sit, and she kept her voice quiet. “Good. You’re awake.”

 

Clarke nodded a little and glanced at Lexa’s sleeping form. “How is she?”

 

“No more seizures since this morning. Her vitals are still elevated, but it’s to be expected.”

 

“You did another EEG?”

 

Abby inclined her head. “Normal brain activity.”

 

Clarke rubbed her face tiredly. “How is that even possible? How..”

 

“I don’t know, honey.” Abby’s voice was gentle, soothing even, and she reached out to tuck Clarke’s hair behind her ear like she was a little girl again. 

 

Clarke closed her eyes briefly, her voice strained. “I’m sorry, Mom.”

 

“I know.”

 

Her voice wavered as she unconsciously leaned into the comforting embrace Abby offered. “I can’t lose her. Just thinking about it makes it feel like I can’t breathe. I..”

 

Abby swallowed hard, rubbing her daughter’s back, her voice turning slightly hoarse with emotion. “I feel the same way about you, Clarke.”

 

Clarke glanced at her, and Abby silently raised the glass tube she’d brought in with her. It was labeled with her name and full of thick, dark liquid. Clarke’s gaze quickly shot up to meet Abby’s. 

 

Lexa, who hadn’t been asleep for quite some time, was the one to finally break the silence, her quiet tone one of resignation and fear as her mind filled rapidly with the implications.

 

“It worked.”

 


 

Clarke took a deep, shaky breath as she settled back in the radiation chamber, closing her eyes briefly to steady herself. 

 

Lexa held her hand in both of her clammy ones, fear etched deeply across her face. Behind her, Octavia rubbed her back comfortingly despite the fear on her own face. The others stood in a semi-circle around the chamber, all of them weary with worry. Even Murphy’s eyes were full of gentle concern, his jaw tight as he addressed her.

 

“You know, you don’t have to do this, Clarke. Nobody does. We can figure out something else.” 

 

He touched her shoulder affectionately, and Clarke rested her free hand over his, patting it reassuringly. “Don’t worry, Murphy. You’re not the only cockroach around here, you know.”

 

He smiled a little and squeezed her shoulder. “Good point.”

 

Abby pressed a short stick that had a few leaves still dangling helplessly from it into her hand. “In case you can’t speak. If you feel any pain, burning, anything at all, you drop this, and we get you out of there.”

 

Raven patted her foot playfully, but her tone was serious despite the teasing smile on her face. “Don’t be a hero, Griff. The point of this is testing rad resistance, not showing off for your girlfriend.”

 

Clarke rolled her eyes. “I think we’re a little beyond trying to impress each other at this point.” She glanced at Lexa for confirmation, almost wishing she hadn’t when she saw the tears threatening to escape the bright, mossy orbs that gazed back at her.

 

Lexa’s voice was soft, practically a whisper when she answered. “You impress me every day, Klark.”

 

Clarke drew Lexa’s hand to her, kissing her knuckles softly and giving her what she hoped was a reassuring look. “You impress me too, Heda.”

 

Abby straightened up a little. “Okay. Everyone, disperse. Let’s give them a minute. Raven, Echo, you’re with me. John, you and the others can watch on the monitors next door. I don’t want to risk anyone being exposed any more than they have to be.” She emphasized the last part with a meaningful look at Clarke, who merely held up her stick and waved the lingering leaves like a flag of surrender as the others filed out of the room with nervous glances back at her.

 

Clarke closed her eyes briefly before looking back up at Lexa.

 

Lexa squeezed her hand gently. “There is no way I can talk you out of doing this, is there?”

 

“Could I have talked you out of it?”

 

Lexa stroked her hair gently, looking defeated and tired. “Sometimes I wish you were not quite so brave as you are.”

 

Clarke smiled, stroking her thumb over her knuckle. “Sometimes I wish the same thing about you.”

 

Lexa leaned over and kissed her forehead softly. “Listen to Raven. This is not a test of willpower or strength. Bravery will skew the data.”

 

Clarke smirked lightly. “‘Skew the data’? Raven told you to say that, didn’t she?”

 

“I do not even know what ‘skew the data’ means,” Lexa admitted, and was rewarded with a smile.

 

Softly, Clarke tugged Lexa down again and they kissed softly, her fingers lacing through thick brown tresses. They kissed slowly, lips lingering on each others’, and Clarke felt the dampness on Lexa’s cheek before she gently broke away. She lifted her hand, affectionately wiping the tears from her face, her voice reassuring.

 

“No tears, Heda. I’ll be just fine—as fine as Becca said you would be, right?” Clarke was banking on that being more comforting to Lexa than she herself found it. “So let’s just get this over with, and then you can take me back to our room and we can discuss that make up sex we owe each other..”

 

Lexa chuckled a little, but the tears were flowing freely and she made no move to let go of Clarke’s hand, and Clarke couldn’t bring herself to pull away, either.

 

Abby came back in then, gently patting Lexa’s shoulders. “We’re ready when you are.”

 

Clarke looked up at her mother, and despite the hard set to her jaw, her eyes were full of fear and vulnerability, and Abby felt her stomach clench at the knowledge of what she was about to do to her only child. What Jake would say, if he were here to see this. 

 

But Abby knew what would happen to the world, to humanity, if she didn’t swallow her emotions and do what had to be done—even if it meant sacrificing someone she loved. Again.

 

The difference then, was that she hadn’t had to be the one pulling the lever on the airlock with Jake in it. This time, it would be at her own hand, and all she could do was hope that the Nightblood would protect Clarke the way it was meant to.

 


 

Lexa had refused to leave the room, letting off a string of some very choice Trigedasleng words that Abby didn’t recognize, but could certainly guess the meanings of, until Abby acquiesced and allowed her to stay. And so, Lexa stood against the wall, her gaze locked on Clarke’s, clearly unconcerned about the potential for second-hand exposure, or even, if the glass chamber failed, primary exposure to the radiation.

 

Clarke suspected that, had there been enough room, Lexa would have climbed into the tank with her. She’d wanted badly to argue Lexa out of the room as her conscience demanded, but the truth was, Clarke was afraid; she wanted Lexa close and probably would have let her climb in beside her at this point. Talking about doing this was, as it turned out, a whole different ballgame from actually laying in the claustrophobic little box.

 

By no means did Clarke question her own decision, and she would let it all play out the same way if she was given a chance to change it. However hard this was turning out to be, it couldn’t be harder than having to watch Lexa climb inside the glass coffin would have been.

 

Abby’s voice echoed inside the chamber as she spoke from the microphone on the control panel. “Okay, Clarke. I’m going to start it up. Are you ready?” Clarke nodded silently, her eyes finding Lexa’s and locking on. “Here we go.”

 

Lexa cringed expectantly, as did Clarke, but nothing happened beyond the quiet hum the chamber began emitting. Their gazes met again above small smiles of relief. Clarke even gave Lexa a thumbs up from within, the little branch still in hand.

 

Slowly, the intensity of the hum grew, until Lexa could feel the vibrations of it deep within her chest. She watched Clarke twirling the branch idly between her fingers, then paused suddenly. They watched together as the few remaining leaves began shriveling, turning to ash as they detached from the branch and fluttered to the bottom of the chamber.

 

Clarke wanted to look to Lexa, but she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the rapidly-dying branch in her hand. Her hand which had begun shaking just slightly, so she tightened her grip on the nearly fossilized stick so she wouldn’t drop it unintentionally.

 

Her face grew hot, and the heat rapidly soared from her head to her toes, and she looked down at her arm with growing concern, but it still looked relatively normal, if slightly reddened.

 

And then it hit her.

 

Searing pain that started deep within her skull and zipped through her body like a lightning strike, her nerve endings firing off, muscles knotting so hard it felt like they were being ripped apart. She felt like she was on fire, and watched with a dissociative sort of horror as the skin on her arm began blistering and bubbling before her eyes. The feeling quickly spread across her, excruciating in a way she couldn’t have imagined. She heard screaming, knew it was coming from her own scorched lips, but it sounded far away and dreamlike. She was vaguely aware of Lexa smashing her fists against the chamber, trying to break it open as she, too, screamed.

 

It seemed like hours until the latch was released and the cold air slipped across her overheated skin, though it was only seconds. 

 

Lexa’s hands were wringing from her inability to touch Clarke, to soothe and heal, and she let Octavia guide her into her arms as she sobbed, a look of horror frozen on her face as Abby and Echo quickly began tending to the severe blistering covering Clarke’s entire body, with Clarke screaming mindlessly all the while.

 

It was a blessing when Clarke finally passed out, her bone-chilling screams silenced abruptly as she sank limply onto the table, the ash from the branch settling into the lines of her palm, her hand still instinctively clenched in a fist.

Chapter Text

All alone in the corner of the night sky

Spiral bones of a supernova starlight

Fell in love with another burning bright 

She dreamed of a way to ignite 

So she sighs and she burns with desperation

Learns to cry over love of constellations

Then the spark from a star shooting too close

They both smiled what a day to explode, she said

Tonight, come on, come on collide

Break me to pieces, I think you're just like heaven

Come on, come on collide

Let's see what a fire feels like, I bet it's just like heaven

- Sara Bareilles, ‘Cassiopeia’

 

 

Lexa sat curled in the chair beside Clarke’s bed for the ninth hour in a row. She watched the strange equipment that, Abby assured her, was confirming that Clarke was still decidedly alive. She had already memorized the pattern of the bandages she was wrapped in nearly head to foot, counted the floor and ceiling tiles four times, and by her count, Abby had been in seventeen times to check on her. 

 

She was vaguely aware that the others had been in and out, and that Luna had not come in at all. Lexa didn’t require an explanation; Luna felt responsible. She was not, and Lexa would tell her that eventually, but at the moment speaking seemed like far too difficult a task. 

 

The clock was just marking the beginning of the tenth hour when Murphy came in, carrying a tray of food. He set it on the countertop before carrying a chair over and setting it beside her own. He sat in it, but thankfully said nothing, and his quiet presence was strangely comforting.

 

The only sounds came from the machines and the soft clicks of the clock hands. They were nearly pointing to hour eleven when Lexa’s voice, small and hoarse as it was, startled them both.

 

“Do you think she is in pain?”

 

Murphy turned his gaze from Clarke’s stillness to Lexa’s pleading face. “No.”

 

“You are lying to make me feel better.” Her voice was tired, but not accusatory.

 

“I don’t really do that,” he responded truthfully. “The medication she’s getting treats pain.”

 

“Like the pills?”

 

He nodded a little. “But stronger. A lot stronger. She’s missing out on a pretty great high right about now.”

 

Lexa felt her lips curve slightly into something resembling a smile, rubbing her thumb around Clarke’s knuckle. “Perhaps she is having enjoyable dreams, then.”

 

“Perhaps,” Murphy offered in Lexa’s signature cadence, with a lightly teasing tone. His face grew serious again quickly and he leaned forward a bit, resting his arms on his knees as he looked at her. “She’ll be okay, you know.”

 

Lexa grit her teeth slowly. “Everyone keeps saying that, as if you all know something I don’t. As if you are confident in the unrealistic.”

 

Murphy shrugged. “I don’t know about everyone else, but I have a lot of confidence in the unrealistic.”

 

“That is foolish of you.”

 

“Well, I never said I wasn’t a fool.” He sat back in the chair again, crossing one leg over the other and idly tapping his fingertips against his ankle. “But I’ve seen the unrealistic happen enough to know things aren’t usually as unrealistic as we think they are.”

 

Lexa gave him a strange look, but his eyes were on Clarke. “It was unrealistic that we’d see the outside of our cells on the Ark. It was unrealistic that we’d ever make it to earth, that there was anyone left alive down here, or that anyone would be able to follow us down without the Exodus ship.” He shrugged again. “It was unrealistic that I’d ever be anything more than a thief and a liar, that Raven would ever forgive me for shooting her and ruining her life, that we’d even find this lab.”

 

“The unrealistic becomes reality all the time, Lex.” Lexa’s expression softened as she looked at him—really looked, for the first time—and saw past the bravado and emotional armor she herself knew so well. She saw someone who was as soft and damaged on the inside as she herself, and she felt grateful for the view he allowed her.

 

“You are a better person than people think you are, John. You are a better person than you think you are.” He clicked his tongue and waved her off, looking away awkwardly, but Lexa’s voice was firm. “You are.”

 

His voice was carefully designed to hold back whatever emotions he was experiencing. “Yeah, well. Don’t go telling anyone. I’ve got kind of a reputation as the resident asshole to protect.”

 

Lexa was about to respond when the door opened once more, and Luna was physically shoved into the room, the door closing quickly behind her.

 

From the hallway, Raven called out, “And don’t come back until you’ve talked to her!”

 

Luna turned towards Lexa with frustration and anxiety written all over her face and paused when she saw Murphy was there as well. “Oh, uh.. I will come back later. I didn’t realize you had company already.”

 

“No, I’ll let you two talk,” Murphy said, beginning to stand up.

 

“No,” Lexa said quickly, surprising even herself. “Beja, both of you stay.”

 

Murphy gestured Luna to the chair he’d been in and, once she’d hesitantly sat down, brought another over for himself and rejoined them. 

 

Lexa eyed Luna, who was shifting uncomfortably, her face flushed with guilt. “It is not your fault, Luna.”

 

“It is my cursed blood that caused this.” Luna’s voice was quiet, and sad in a way Lexa had never heard before, even when they received word of the previous Commander’s death.

 

“It is our blood—yours, and mine, and Clarke’s. And it did not cause this.”

 

“It would not be Clarke’s blood had it not been for me.”

 

Murphy reached over and touched Luna’s arm comfortingly. “If you think that, you don’t know Clarke very well. She would have found a way to do this no matter what. She’s kind of a pain in the ass that way.”

 

Lexa almost smiled again. “I do not blame you, nor would Clarke, because John is not wrong.”

 

Murphy sat back once more, offering them a crooked smile. “Of course I’m not. I might not always be right, but I’m never wrong.”

 

The girls chuckled despite themselves, and Lexa froze mid-laugh, her eyes widening. Her hand quickly covered her mouth as she gasped softly. How could she have been laughing, less than a foot away from where her niron lay lifeless?

 

Murphy quickly leaned over and wrapped his arms around her, her hand still pressed to her mouth against his shoulder as a strangled sob made its way past her lips. Her eyes remained wide with shock as they rapidly filled with tears, horrified at herself.

 

“It’s okay,” he whispered, hugging her so tightly that he felt like a cocoon wrapped around her. Luna had grabbed her free hand as well, rubbing it reassuringly as he continued speaking softly. Lexa barely heard the words of comfort he offered as she sobbed freely into his shoulder. It felt like the world was falling away, like Lexa was falling away. 

 

Like Clarke was falling away.


 

 

It was nearing hour fifteen.

 

Lexa was in the chair, fighting the sleep she’d been denying for two days that threatened to take her over. Murphy had brought her more coffee, but the thought of it made her stomach twist up in knots and she could not bring herself to touch it.

 

Luna had been given more pills for her hip and was sleeping in the room’s other bed. Octavia and Echo sat on the floor, and Echo was rubbing Octavia’s sore leg where the drone’s bullet had struck her what seemed like a lifetime ago. Murphy, having brought coffees and dinners—the latter of which not one of them including himself had touched—was stretched out on the bed next to Luna, staring at the ceiling in silence.

 

In fact, the entire room was silent save for the machines that hummed and occasionally beeped, until Abby returned with Raven in tow. 

 

When they entered, every conscious head turned towards Abby, whose jaw was set as she approached Clarke’s bedside. Murphy, as he’d been requested to, nudged Luna’s shoulder lightly, shaking her from her opiate-induced nap. He tilted his head towards Clarke and Luna quickly rubbed the sleep from her eyes as they both sat up.

 

Raven went to her side quickly and joined her and Murphy on the bed, sitting on the edge and propping her leg up on the handle of a nearby drawer.

 

They all watched in expectant silence as Abby took Clarke’s vitals and checked her bandages. 

 

Lexa swallowed hard, trying desperately to read Abby’s unreadable expression, and it seemed like years passed before Abby’s voice sliced through the thick tension in the room.

 

“Vitals are improving. Slightly,” she said, her voice hoarse from her most recent bout of crying.

 

The group let out a collective breath and heads nodded a little at the good—but not great—news. Abby continued quietly, “Raven, take a break. I’m going to read over the data again.”

 

“I can help,” Raven volunteered, lowering her leg.

 

“No,” Abby said, a little too quickly. She closed her eyes briefly. “No, stay here. Clarke needs you more than I do right now.”

 

Before anyone could respond, Abby—who had no intention of doing anything but worrying and looking for a bottle of wine—headed quickly for the door.

 

Lexa’s eyes fell to Clarke once more, and she leaned forward, squinting a bit before her eyes widened. “Wait!”

 

Slightly startled by the sudden outburst, Abby stopped in the doorway and turned towards Lexa with everyone else. Lexa couldn’t keep the excitement from her voice. 

 

“Her neck! She had—there were more burns here, going up behind her ear.” She gestured wildly at Clarke’s left side. 

 

Raven leaned forward, her voice gentle. “Maybe you’re thinking of her other side.”

 

Lexa shook her head vehemently. “There were burns here, too. I am sure of it.”

 

Everyone frowned a little, glancing at each other as Abby came back in and grabbed the chart before moving to Clarke’s side. Lexa pushed her chair back, stepping out of the way, her voice firm as she repeated, “I am sure of it.”

 

Abby flipped the chart open to where she’d carefully documented every wound and mark on her daughter’s body—mostly to give herself something to focus on—and slowly her brow furrowed. With a frown, she looked at Clarke’s neck and then back at the chart several times, not believing her eyes.

 

“She’s right,” Abby’s voice was soft and incredulous. 

 

Everyone scrambled to their feet then as well, gathering behind Abby and Lexa to see for themselves.

 

Raven shook her head a little, her tone awed. “It worked. The Nightblood worked. Becca was right.”

 

“Clarke was right,” Echo said with a smile.

 

Lexa glanced across the sea of relieved faces and inclined her head towards Murphy. “John was right, too.”

 

Raven glanced at them curiously. “Right about what?”

 

“About Clarke being too stubborn to die.” Luna volunteered.

 

The tips of Murphy’s ears reddened and he waved them off, studying his ratty sneakers as he shuffled his feet. “That’s not exactly what I said.”

 

Lexa reached out and touched his wrist lightly. “I believe the exact words you used were ‘pain in the ass’, actually.”

 

Everyone chuckled lightly, and Abby pressed her lips together. “Don’t get too excited. Clarke’s not out of the woods yet.” The room sobered quickly, and Octavia reached from behind her to squeeze Lexa’s hand reassuringly as Abby looked back at Clarke. “Although, you’re right about my daughter being a stubborn pain in the ass.”

 

“I heard that..”

 

The room erupted in chaos and more than a few teary laughs at the rough but good-natured sound coming from Clarke’s cracked lips.

 

“Lexa?” She croaked weakly.

 

Lexa moved quickly back to the bedside when Clarke reached a shaky hand out towards her. She took her hand, crying freely and pressing her lips to the back of it. 

 

“I’m here, Klark.”

 

Abby waved Echo over to assist as the others moved out of the way quickly. The rest of the world seemed to fall away as Lexa pressed enthusiastic but gentle kisses across the few unburnt expanses of Clarke’s face. Clarke, too, was crying, her grip on Lexa’s hand weak but solid.

 

Clarke groaned as Abby gently peeled back some of the bandages, instructing Echo to clean the lesions with a saline rinse, as one of her hands was clutching Clarke’s.

 

“They’re healing,” Echo whispered to nobody in particular, and they all looked over Clarke in awe.

 

“It works,” Raven said softly. 

 

Clarke winced with a hiss as Echo cleaned off a particularly deep burn. “Could’ve fooled me.”

 

“You’re alive,” Lexa said softly, very near something like disbelief. “You survived it.”

 

“Barely,” Clarke said, gazing back at her. “This is bad.”

 

Lexa shook her head quickly. “It’s good. It’s everything, Klark. You’re alive, the Nightblood worked.”

 

Clarke paused to let out another grunt of displeasure at the contact with a rash of blisters on her side. “Not well enough. What are we gonna do, put everyone in induced comas until the Nightblood kicks in?” Her tone grew rapidly more panicked. “This won’t work. Even if we could synthesize enough Nightblood for thousands of people, even if there was someone left to treat the rad sickness, we’d lose too many people. Probably all of the kids, the older people, anyone with any health conditions. I barely survived.” She looked at Lexa desperately. “I almost didn’t survive, and that was what, 1200 REMs? And Praimfaya will be—”

 

“Over 3000 REMs,” Raven quietly interjected, swallowing hard. “Best case scenario.”

 

A somber feeling settled over the room and Clarke repeated herself softly, almost speaking to herself.

 

“It won’t work.”

 

“Back to square one,” Murphy added quietly, Octavia shaking her head in dismay beside him.

 


 

 

Within a few hours, Clarke was on her feet and refusing painkillers, the lesions fading more with each passing hour. They all sat around the furniture pit, eating silently at Abby’s insistence. Raven was wolfing down a sandwich with one hand and scribbling furiously on a notepad with the other while Echo studied on the floor pillow, a sea of medical texts surrounding her as she distractedly ate an apple. Luna trailed Murphy around as they gathered up trash and used dishes and focused on stress-cleaning the entire place. Abby was holed up in the lab, going over test results and samples for the thousandth time.

 

Clarke paced before a large window, lost in thought while Lexa sat in a nearby chair, finally sleeping but maintaining her refusal to be more than a few feet from Clarke.

 

The room was thick with a quiet sense of urgency, so when Octavia burst in, everyone jumped, including Lexa, who startled awake in a panic until her eyes settled on a conscious, upright Clarke.

 

“We have a problem.”

 

“Of course we do,” Murphy said with a sarcastic bite, frustratedly flinging the broom he’d been using to the floor with a hard knock that startled everyone a second time.

 

“I’ve been trying to raise Arkadia for the last hour, with no response, which is weird, right? But Raven said the radar showed a storm just to the east, so I’m thinking that’s why.”

 

Murphy shrugged and nodded a little. “Seems like a good reason to panic.”

 

Octavia shot him a mild glare as she pushed Raven’s rolling chair aside a little to flip the radio on. “Well, I was half right and half wrong. It was the storm, but not because the signals were blocked.” She picked up the handset after adjusting the dial. “Bell, are you still there?”

 

“I’m still here, O.”

 

“Tell them.” There was a brief silence, during which Abby emerged from the lab and leaned against the doorway, frowning. 

 

Bellamy sighed through the static. “The black rain hit Arkadia.”

 

Silence.

 

“You still there, O?”

 

She responded grimly, looking around the room. “Yeah, we’re here. Did everyone get to safety?”

 

A pause and some shuffling. “Not everyone. We lost almost a dozen, including Gina. Nyko and a few others are still critical.” His voice cracked a little and Octavia shut her eyes briefly.

 

“I’m sorry, Bell.”

 

They could almost hear Bellamy trying to shake it off as he continued in a strained tone. “We’re gonna lose a lot more if we don’t figure something out soon. How’s the Nightblood coming along?”

 

Octavia froze, swallowing hard as she glanced around the room as if for help, and her voice seemed to disappear.

 

“O?”

 

When he still received no response, his tone grew frustrated. “Octavia? Are you there?”

 

Raven set her jaw and reached up, taking the speaker from Octavia’s hand and speaking into it grimly. “Bellamy, it’s Raven. Nightblood is a no-go. We’re trying to find another solution.”

 

To Bellamy’s credit, his voice remained steady when he replied after a moment. “You’ll have some help soon. Chancellor Kane sent a team in the rover with the fuel you asked for.”

 

Raven depressed the button again. “Okay. Thanks, Bell. We’ll radio when they get here. And Bellamy?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Don’t.. tell anyone else about the Nightblood. The only thing these people need more than a solution is hope.”

 

“Yeah.” 

 

But Bellamy didn’t sound convinced, and neither did Raven.

 


 

Abby had never looked more solemn in her life as she addressed a room full of worried faces that now included Roan, Lincoln, Ryder, and Monroe.

 

“Even if we could make enough Nightblood to save everyone in time—”

 

“And we can’t.” Raven interjected unhelpfully, her voice flat as she thumped a pen aggressively against the panel before her as though she could beat the data into submission.

 

“—it can only fight radiation once exposed. There’s a good chance that complications would still kill a significant portion of the population before the Nightblood could kick in.”

 

Lincoln rubbed his face tiredly with the arm that wasn’t currently around Octavia’s shoulders. Monroe grit her teeth as she chewed anxiously on a thumbnail while Ryder rubbed her back comfortingly. Roan simply sat back on the couch, looking grimly at Clarke.

 

Clarke’s face was painted with stubborn determination beneath the lesions and reddened swelling. “So we go to plan B.”

 

“Since when is there a plan B?” Roan asked stoically, lifting an eyebrow. “I thought turning everyone into natblidas was our last hope.”

 

“We already covered this, Clarke. More than once. There’s not enough room for everyone at Arkadia,” Abby said, her voice tight as she rubbed her face. “It can support maybe fifty people. And even assuming quarter rations for five years, that’s pushing it.” 

 

“That’s barely a plan,” Roan said, his jaw locked. “We’ll all die anyway, fighting over which fifty people get to live in a tin can for the next five years while everyone else dies. Horribly.”

 

Clarke faced them fully, her voice eerily calm and full of confidence. “Everyone’s not going to Arkadia. Everyone’s going underground.”

 

Raven’s head snapped around quickly as she pushed the rolling chair back from the desk, her excitement immediately palpable. “Jesus, that’s it. Mount Weather.”

 

“I thought we’d all starve to death in the mountain. It’s not supplied anymore.” Murphy furrowed his brow, suddenly more interested in the conversation than in his snack. “Isn’t that why we came up with the whole lousy Nightblood plan in the first place?”

 

“It could be.” Raven spun back around, ignoring the room full of blank stares and grabbing the mic off the radio panel. “Arkadia, this is Raven, do you read? Over.” The static crackled and Raven repeated herself. A bit more static before the line clicked.

 

“This is Bellamy, we read you loud and clear, Raven. Everyone okay there? Over.”

 

“We’re fine. Listen, is Monty handy? Over.”

 

“Uh, Harper, is Mont—yeah, Raven. Harper’s getting him, he’s—”

 

There was some more static and clicking, and after a minute Monty’s voice came over the line. “Reyes, this is Greene. What can I do you for?”

 

“You know that algae farm you were talking about a million years ago, using Mount Weather’s hydro tech?” Raven leaned back in her chair, smirking. “How would you like a chance to do some applied science?”

 


 

Octavia had been silent, her shoulders impossibly tight, since the first mention of going underground. Lexa instinctively reached out to her, rubbing the small of her back subtly, knowing how much she must fear the idea of being trapped under the floor again. Honestly, Lexa wasn’t crazy about the idea herself. She was Trikru, after all. A forest child raised in the deepest woods, her mental well-being tied tightly to nature. The idea of not being able to see the sky or feel the ground beneath her feet—to see nothing but cold steel and solid darkness for the next six years—made her feel dizzy and trapped.

 

Luna, too, looked sick at the proposal. “We could split up. Most to the mountain—but Arkadia can still support some life.”

 

“So can the Ring,” Raven volunteered, brightening even more. “If Monty can get the hydro farm in Mount Weather going, he can tell me how to do the same thing on the Ring.”

 

Lexa glanced at Luna, who also seemed to be remembering their childhood of imaginary journeys to the stars. 

 

Echo, on the other hand, looked green at the idea and hadn’t looked much more happy about going back to the mountain, either. “How do we decide who goes where?”

 

Octavia, who hadn’t said a word this entire time, spoke up. “I’d rather float myself than get locked away in space or under the floor again. I volunteer for Arkadia, and so does Lincoln. We’ll need warriors for anyone staying above ground, anyway. We don’t know what kind of threats we’re gonna encounter.”

 

“We divide people up by need—make sure we have healers, engineers, and mechanics in every group. Try to take people’s.. personal preferences into account.” Clarke stood a little straighter, slowly pacing and almost talking to herself. “We’ll start making lists today. Anyone who was held at the mountain gets priority; it’s up to them if they want to go back.”

 

“What about anyone held prisoner on the Ark?” Murphy muttered, but it was lighter than expected, his mood having lifted significantly at the prospect of a workable solution.

 

Roan stood, rubbing his hands together. “We’ll go unload that fuel for Raven and then head back to Arkadia and start dividing everyone up.”

 

Lincoln stood as well, with Octavia’s hand still in his. “We should get everyone supplied and headed out as soon as possible.”

 

Raven called from across the room, “Make sure everyone knows who’s carrying the tents. They’ll need them if the black rain comes back, and we have to assume it will.”

 

Clarke turned too Abby. “Go with them. They’re gonna need you more than we do.”

 

Abby looked intently into her eyes, her voice quiet. “But Lexa..”

 

“I can take care of her now. I’m almost completely healed. Jackson needs your help at Arkadia, especially with the increase in radiation sickness. They just had twelve more Sangedakru show up at the gates, and I’m sure there will be more.” Clarke forced a smile. “I’ll be right behind you after we get the rocket squared away.”

 

Abby looked decidedly unhappy about it, but she nodded with her lips pressed together tightly. “Alright.”

 

The lab broke into a flurry of activity for a few minutes as those leaving prepared for the trip and everyone said their goodbyes to one another.

 

Once handshakes, hugs, and words of hope had been exchanged, Abby joined Lincoln, Octavia, Roan, Monroe, and Ryder as they grabbed their packs. Roan pulled the straps of the tent over his shoulders and turned to Clarke as Lexa leaned against her back carefully. He nodded to them, his voice quiet.

 

“I’ll keep an eye on her,” he said, meaningfully.

 

Clarke swallowed hard and nodded as well, her tone just as meaningful. “Thanks.”

 

Lexa waited until the group headed out before turning to Clarke curiously. “What was that about?”

 

Clarke continued staring after the group, her voice quiet and thick with emotion. “I’m not going back. I’m going to the Ring.”

 

Lexa frowned, not understanding. “Then why did you send Abby away? Jackson may be overwhelmed, but I am sure he can still treat everyone at Arkadia.”

 

She didn’t respond for a few long minutes, and Lexa rested her hand on her cheek, gently forcing her to look into her eyes.

 

Clarke’s voice was small and trying to hold back her tears when she finally responded. “Because Mount Weather will need a doctor for the next five years, too.”

Chapter Text

This fire won't go out, though just a flicker it may be

Shifting through the shadows, to a vision we can't see

Hold fast to one another, we will stand stranger to brother

We are one, we carry on

This burden weighs so heavily

When our demons we must carry

Clinging to this fleeting breath

Dying for a fighting chance

We are one, we are one

We carry on

- The Phantoms, “Carry On”

 

 

 

Clarke was quiet as they wandered the compound, collecting the things they would need to spend the next five years in space. Raven was back inside the rocket running simulations with Luna, Lexa, and Echo taking turns joining her. Clarke brought the sack that contained the few Earthly possessions she had and added it to the growing pile before the rocket. Echo had two large duffel bags that appeared to mostly contain the medical texts she’d been studying with Abby, and Clarke couldn’t help but smile a little because who would have thought Echo was such a closeted nerd?

 

Probably the same people who wouldn't be surprised that Lexa’s bag, too, contained mostly books. Clarke paused when she saw Murphy sitting on the couch, listening to the music box with a headset and, as usual, eating a stick of jerky. She snapped in front of his face a few times to get his attention, and he pulled the headset aside.

 

“Aren’t you gonna pack up?”

 

He pointed his thumb at a large pile of bags and crates stacked against the back of the couch that she hadn’t noticed. Her eyebrows went up.

 

“It’s food,” he said, off her look. “And some booze, of course. It’ll be awhile before we can get Monty’s old still up and running.”

 

Clarke glanced between the bags and Murphy a few times, her brows furrowing. “I meant, like, your personal stuff.”

 

Murphy shrugged, and raised the music player. “Raven let me claim this.” Once again, off the look of dismay on Clarke’s face, he continued. “We didn’t come down with anything, and I didn’t.. acquire anything down here.”

 

Clarke softened, and joined him on the couch. “That’s not true.”

 

He gave her a bit of an awkward look that was somewhere between a grin and a grimace. “Well, I did get an addiction to these ‘potato chips’ of Becca’s, so it’ll be a sad day for me when they run out.”

 

Clarke chuckled lightly before resting her hand on his shoulder. “And you acquired us.”

 

“Like a fungal infection.” But his face had softened, his ears tinted slightly red as he avoided looking at her.

 

“Too bad there’s no cure for family,” Clarke said good-naturedly, patting his back. She didn’t have to look to know he was smiling.

 

Until Octavia skidded into the room in a panic, looking around quickly before seeing them on the couch.

 

“Clarke!”

 

Clarke sat forward immediately, clamoring to her feet. “Octavia, what’s wrong? Lexa?”

 

Octavia shook her head quickly. “Lincoln just radioed, Aden’s missing.”

 

“What?” Lexa was climbing shakily out of the rocket, looking slightly green and very panicked. “What do you mean, missing?”

 

“He left, Lincoln said he packed a bag. Roan’s tracking him and almost out of radio range.”

 

Lexa set her jaw. “I will go after him.”

 

Clarke’s head shot towards her. “No way, Lexa. You’re in no condition to go wandering around the woods. We don’t even know where he went. I’ll go.”

 

Octavia replied before Lexa could, crossing her arms. “And risk the only fully-trained doctor the Ring has? I don’t think so. I’ll go. I can make better time with Helios. I’ll find Aden and just head to Arkadia.” She cleared her throat a little, looking at Lexa. “If you’ll dismiss me now, Heda.” 

 

Lexa glanced at the expectant faces in front of her, and it was clear in her expression that she realized they were right. Her desire to do her duty would risk Aden’s life, and she knew it. “Consider yourself dismissed, Wanheda, on the best of terms.”

 

Octavia’s eyes watered slightly and she nodded a little before quickly hugging Lexa, and then opening her arm to bring Clarke in as well. The others had clumped up around them and took their turns saying goodbye to Octavia, while Clarke and Lexa quickly gathered her remaining gear for her.

 

When she was done saying her goodbyes, she turned to Lexa once more. Unexpectedly, Lexa grabbed her quickly into another hug, whispering quietly in her ear.

 

“I hope you will return to my side in five years, Okteivia kom Trikru, as my most trusted advisor.. and friend.”

 

“I would be honored, Heda.” Octavia shut her eyes briefly as they embraced.

 

Lexa straightened up a little as they separated, clearing her throat. “I think I know where Aden has gone. You will want to head towards Louwoda Kliron Kru territory.”

 

Echo was helping Octavia into her pack, her jaw clenched with emotion as she grabbed a bag with a few apples in it and clipped it to a strap. “You, Aden, Roan, and Helios will need food for your journey.”

 

Octavia reached out and squeezed her hand gently, addressing Lexa. “Why would he head there?”

 

Lexa swallowed hard. “He is going home.”

 


 

 Octavia swayed her hips with Helios’ galloping, raising the radio to her lips for what had to have been the hundredth time since she’d left the lab.

 

“This is Octavia. Roan, if you can hear me, I’m heading toward you. Aden, if you can hear me, stay where you are. Does anybody copy?”

 

Static was all that responded, and Octavia shuddered inwardly. It had been nearly an hour since she lost the radio connection with the lab and she still had not made contact with either Roan or Aden. The woods were eerily silent around her, the steady hum of the clicking, singing, buzzing insects she’d grown so used to, gone. 

 

She leaned forward, lowering herself and squeezing her thighs around Helios, whispering into his ear. “Gyon au mou snap!

 

Octavia lowered her head as they sped through a narrow path full of brambles and branches that caught her arms and hair, gritting her teeth and trying not to look at her bloodied arms. She also tried not to think about what would happen if she could not find Aden and Roan; the choice she would have to make if time continued creeping by. She thought of Lincoln, waiting for her back at Arkadia, and Lexa giving him a direct order over the radio to keep him there. Her stomach ached as she pictured herself, Roan, and then Aden, flesh burning and blistering the way Clarke’s had done in the chamber.

 

She whispered to herself, her face buried in Helios’ mane. “I am not afraid. I am not afraid.”

 

When Helios hesitated, she wondered momentarily if he had understood her, but as she lifted her head, she realized they were entering a small village, and Helios had slowed accordingly. 

 

Octavia was speechless for a moment, gazing around at the brightly-decorated homes, trees, and gardens around her. It reminded her of a movie she’d seen once, back on the Ark, where a girl had been dropped from a slow, colorless world into another world, so garishly colorful it was dizzying. It reminded her of stepping from the drab metal drop ship into the brilliant world she felt she truly belonged in.

 

She snapped out of it then, remembering that world was about to be destroyed, and yelled as loudly as she could. “Roan? Aden! Weron yu’s kamp raun? Aden!”

 

She rode Helios slowly through the village, calling out every few paces. Octavia felt her stomach knotting up as she approached the boundary of the village. It could be as much as half a day’s travel to the next Louwoda Kliron Kru village, and clouds were gathering overhead. Clouds that could be preparing to drop barrels of acidic black rain on her—and on Aden and Roan, possibly.

 

Chon yu bilaik?” Came a sudden voice, echoing off the empty trees and rock formations. Octavia couldn’t figure out where the voice was coming from.

 

“Aden? En yu bilaik? Ai laik Okteivia!” She cried out to the abandoned village.

 

“Octavia?” This time, the voice came from a window two houses up as a sandy blonde head peered out at her.

 

Octavia ushered Helios forward towards the house, her heart soaring with hope as Aden waved her into the house. “Aden, moch-jok, we have to go!”

 

But he had disappeared from the window, and Octavia let out a few colorful phrases in both English and Trig as she eased off Helios, her leg aching as she impacted the ground. Fearing the rain, she brought Helios aside the house and under a platform that covered what looked like a chicken pen and hurried up the uneven stairs inside the building. “Aden? Aden, I’m not joking, we have to go. Now!”

 

Entering the house further, she couldn’t believe her eyes as Aden lifted a section of the wooden floor up. A shudder ran through her as a small, dark-haired little girl emerged from the floor, her eyes wide and terrified as she clung to Aden.

 

Chit dis bilaik, Aden?” Octavia whispered. The girl, who couldn’t have been more than four or five years old, her face and arms dirty and gaunt, her hair a wild snarl. She quickly grabbed the bag of apples Echo had given her and took one out, holding it out silently as she lowered herself to her knees. The girl gazed up at Aden, who nodded quietly. 

 

En’s ogud,” Aden said softly to her. “Em bilaik ain lukot, Octavia.”

 

The girl crept forward and carefully took the apple from her hand, gazing at her from haunted, uncertain eyes for a moment before sinking her teeth into the apple, scarfing it down. Octavia idly wondered when the child had last eaten as she turned her gaze to Aden, still awaiting an explanation as rain began to pound the roof of the building.

 

Aden opened his mouth, when a deep scream from outside filled the house. The girl dropped the rest of the apple as she skittered back to the hole in the floor, and Octavia’s eyes went wide. 

 

“Roan!” She turned and dashed outside toward the cries. The black rain seared her skin, and she clenched her jaw as she raced through it. Helios’ panicked whinny echoed when he tried to follow and was held back by the acidic water pouring off the roof. Octavia cried out in pain as she approached the crumpled form on the ground. His face was streaked with blood, and he was barely conscious as she dragged him to his feet. “Roan, you have to walk! We have to get inside!” 

 

She was nearly to the steps of the house when she stepped in a puddle, splashing the scalding liquid across her bare leg, and let out a scream. Aden, with a pile of burlap over his back and head, stomped down the steps and grabbed Roan’s other side, yelling something she couldn’t hear over the pounding of the rain around them. 

 

Octavia fell to the floor the moment they had all gotten to safety, and felt unconsciousness threatening to overtake her. She quickly began pulling her outer layers off, rolling onto her stomach painfully as she did. Aden saw what she was trying to do and dropped his pile of burlap, helping pull her coat off and then her cargo pants. After a moment, the burning that remained became slightly closer to bearable, and Octavia shakily started pulling Roan’s outer layer off as well. After a few minutes and some of the healing salve from her pack, Roan began to wake up, grunting in discomfort as he did.

 

Octavia helped him sit up and pressed an apple into his hand as Aden made his way back to the hole in the floor, trying to convince the child to come out again in soft Trigedasleng as Octavia gave Roan a quick once-over for serious injury.

 

After a few minutes, Aden and the girl came over, and Aden handed her another apple before taking one for himself.

 

Roan, having more or less recovered, looked at the kids, and then at Octavia. “This was a suicide mission. You really are the Commander of Death, aren’t you?” 

 

Octavia shrugged a little, grabbing an apple herself and shifting her throbbing leg to the side as she pulled a nearby animal pelt around herself. “Aden, are you going to introduce us to your friend, and the reason we’re all out here in the black rain like a bunch of fools?”

 

Aden lowered his eyes a bit. “She’s not my friend. She’s my sister. Madi.”

 

Octavia furrowed her brow, but it was Roan who responded grimly. “Natblida.”

 

“What?” Octavia shook her head a little. “What.. was she doing here all by herself? Where are your people?”

 

Aden worked his jaw for a moment, then tilted his head up proudly in a manner he’d surely learned from Lexa. “Our parents were killed. The others will have left, as Heda commanded them.”

 

Roan reached for another apple and kept his eyes on Madi while addressing Octavia. “Some parents of natblidas will hide them. To protect them from the Conclave.”

 

“She’d already lost her son. She didn’t want to lose her daughter, too,” Octavia whispered, almost to herself. She looked at the girl—Madi—and reached her hand out towards her, her voice soft. “Ai laik Okteivia kom Skaikru. Yu ste klir.

 

Madi tentatively clasped her hand around Octavia’s forearm, letting a slight gap tooth smile show as they shook. “Ai laik Madi kom Louwoda Kliron-Kru.

 

Roan groaned as he bandaged a deep cut on his side. “This is all very nice, but we have to be ready to leave the minute the black rain stops.”

 

“We’ll get everything ready to go, and head back to Arkadia as soon as it stops. The kids can ride Helios, we’ll move faster that way.” Octavia swatted his hands away and took over bandaging the wound as Roan assessed the group grimly.

 

“We can’t go back to Arkadia. I barely made it across the river before the rain started; it will be a river of acid now. We can’t get across.”

 

Octavia felt her heart drop into her stomach as she paused with the gauze roll still in hand. “The bridge?”

 

“Washed away in the last tide, it looked like. I had to swim across.” He turned a sympathetic gaze on her as she sat back, stunned. He gently took the roll from her and finished wrapping his abdomen. “I’m truly sorry, Octavia. Lincoln is safe in Arkadia, though. And we will make it to the lab in time.”

 

Octavia just sat and watched the acid rain outside, Roan’s words mixing with the gentle huffs Helios was making on the other side of the wall. She barely realized Madi had scooted against her side, resting her wild head against her side. Madi sang softly, what seemed to be a clan lullaby, as Octavia felt the first tears sliding down her cheeks.


 

“Medical supplies?”

 

“Check.”

 

“Water?”

 

“Check.”

 

Raven continued reading off her checklist as the others carried bags and crates into the rocket, securing the supplies according to her instructions. Lexa was napping on the couch at Clarke’s insistence as they loaded the ship in a line, passing the packages from one person to the next as Raven supervised and called out occasional instructions from the entryway.

 

Echo, who had been left in charge of the radio while they packed, suddenly emerged through the airlock, and the process came to an immediate halt.

 

“Did you hear from Arkadia?”

 

Echo shook her head, looking concerned. “Octavia. They’re a few hours out still, but—”

 

Lexa, who had been sleeping lightly in the first place, groggily called out. “They? She found Aden?”

 

“Aden, and Roan both. And—uh—Aden’s sister, Madi. She was hiding in their village. But that’s—”

 

Clarke looked horrified. “Sister? Aden has a sister?”

 

“She’s probably a natblida,” Lexa said guiltily, rubbing her face tiredly. “Their parents will hide them sometimes.”

 

Echo cleared her throat, clearly uncomfortable interrupting. “They’re headed back here. They can’t cross the river, and they were trapped by the black rain. They’re going to the Ring with us.”

 

Everyone stared at her quietly, including Raven, who was overtaken with a look of anxious dismay. After several long minutes of silence, Raven straightened up and tried not to look terrified. “Okay, reverse it, crew. Unload the clothes and books first. We need two more seats and more food. If we can’t eat it, get it the hell out of here. Aden and Madi will be lap children, and someone needs to find me more working suits!” 

 

She had practically yelled the last command, her pitch growing higher throughout her little speech, and Clarke sensed the wheels starting to coming off the wagon. “Okay, it’s okay. We can do this. Murphy, get in the kitchen, start packing more food and water. Echo, you’re with me, we’re gonna go look for a way to repair those extra suits. Lexa and Luna, help Raven, and make sure she doesn’t explode. We’re not going anywhere if our pilot has a heart attack.”

 

Everyone scrambled to their new assignments, and Clarke felt a headache of her own coming on as she and Echo headed back towards the lab.

 

The two women worked in silence as they began collecting extra gloves and damaged helmets, laying them out on a table and starting to repair them as much as possible, using the strong silver adhesive they’d found.

 

“Parents really do that? Hide their children from fleimkepas?” Clarke wondered aloud quietly.

 

Echo ripped a strip of the tape with her teeth, carefully positioning it over a crack in the helmet. “You sound surprised. Didn’t Octavia grow up hidden as well?”

 

Clarke held the helmet steady as Echo continued patching it. “I still can’t believe that, either.” She let out a heavy sigh as they continued patching the assorted parts. “We have to do better. When we all come back in five years, we have to do better. Nobody should have to grow up under a floor.”

 

“We will,” Echo said firmly. “Things are much different than any of us knew. We have learned a lot from each other, and we will continue to do so, and make things better.”

 

“I hope so,” Clarke said quietly, tracing her fingertips over the seam of a jumpsuit, checking for holes. “Because it feels like we’re still at war, sometimes.”

 

“We are still at war.” Echo slapped another piece of tape onto a glove, and set it down, looking at Clarke’s dismayed expression. “But we are all on the same side of it now.”

 

Clarke swallowed hard, looking back at her unsurely. “Are we? All thirteen clans, together, in the mountain? Azgeda, Audaskai, and Skaikru under the same roof. Will we still be on the same side in five years?”

 

Echo looked grim as she turned back to the boot she was repairing, and she didn’t respond. She didn’t need to; Clarke already knew the chances of that happening were slim to none. There would certainly be more battles fought inside the mountain before their people emerged from it. 

 

All they could hope for was avoidance of an all-out war, and Clarke felt weighted down with worry as she tried hard not to think about the math behind that probability. 

Chapter Text

Let's say sunshine for everyone

But as far as I can remember

We've been migratory animals

Living under changing weather

Someday we will foresee Obstacles

Through the blizzard, through the blizzard

Today we will sell our uniform

Live together, live together.

- Syd Matters, “Obstacles”

 

 

 

The radio had cut out, the reception in the mountain likely cut off by the death wave’s approach, when Clarke was saying her goodbyes to Abby. She cried silently as she tuned it to Arkadia instead, and felt her chest fill with relief when Bellamy’s voice responded to her. 

 

“We can’t raise the mountain.”

 

Clarke closed her eyes briefly. “I know. I was talking to my mother when it..” She trailed off quietly. “Anyway, I’ll get Octavia for you.”

 

“Wait.” The urgency in Bellamy’s voice made her pause.

 

“Yeah?”

 

Bellamy took a deep breath. “Can you.. Would you keep an eye on Octavia for me? It’s gonna be hard for her. Back on the Ring, being away from Lincoln, me. She’s.. Clarke, she’s not as hard as she seems. She’s strong as hell, but she..” Clarke let him gather himself, her heart breaking at the emotion thickening his voice. “She feels things more than she shows.”

 

Clarke’s voice was soft, understanding when she replied. “This won’t break her, Bellamy. She’s stronger than any of us. Definitely stronger than you,” she added with a smile.

 

A sad chuckle crackled over the radio. “Definitely.” He paused before breaking through the static once more. “She told me awhile back that I kept her alive. On the Ark, down here. But the truth is, she’s the one that kept me alive. My life started when she was born. If I lost her..”

 

He didn’t finish the thought, and he didn’t need to. “I know.” Clarke responded softly. “Believe me, I know. I’ll look out for her, Bell. I promise.”

 

“Thanks, Princess.”

 

Clarke rolled her eyes, but she was smiling. “Sure thing, King.” 

 

She looked up and saw Octavia lingering in the doorway, waving her in and handing the radio to her. Clarke paused just outside the airlock as she heard Octavia’s voice, already breaking with emotion.

 

“Not gonna cry on me, are you, big brother?”

 


 

Clarke returned to the launch room, where Raven was running her last simulation. Madi and Aden were sitting on the couch with Roan and Lexa, each wearing pristine suits. Roan’s, on the other hand, practically looked silver itself from the repairs she and Echo had made, and Clarke quietly began putting on her own taped-up suit. There was no reason to think the repairs wouldn’t hold, but they had still refused to let the kids take the risk.

 

Clarke perched herself on the arm of the couch beside Lexa, rubbing her back lightly. Lexa instinctively leaned into her, closing her eyes briefly. Clarke stroked her hair gently, and smiled a little when she saw Madi watching them from inside overly large hoodie they’d found for her.

 

Yu ste ogud, Madi?” She asked softly. Madi smiled, her tongue tucked in the gap between her front teeth, and nodded, laying her head on Aden’s shoulder. 

 

Octavia came in moments later, her eyes red and slightly swollen. “The radio went dead. The wave must be getting close to Arkadia.”

 

The group sat quietly, Echo rubbing Octavia’s shoulders comfortingly as they rested on the other couch with Murphy. Luna lounged in one of the arm chairs, having been kicked out of the rocket for Raven’s dress rehearsal, nervously tying knots into a length of rope she carried in her pocket.

 

It wasn’t much longer before Raven came in, looking rather commanding in her jumpsuit, her helmet tucked under her arm. She cleared her throat a little, causing most of the room to startle in the thick tension.

 

“Ah, why don’t the rest of you start loading up? The wave’s getting closer, so we’ve gotta blow before it gets here and knocks us off course. Clarke, can I talk to you for a minute?”

 

Clarke winced internally, positive that Raven was going to have yet another problem. She obediently walked towards the wall opposite the ship as everyone else started securing themselves inside it, and the look on Raven’s face told her everything she needed to know. 

 

“What now?”

 

Raven shuffled her feet a little. “With the added weight, we’re not going to have enough fuel for the return trip. By half.”

 

Clarke pinched the bridge of her nose, taking a few steadying breaths. “Half? We have.. Half the fuel we’ll need to get home in five years?”

 

Raven nodded, despite Clarke’s closed eyes. “Yeah. And there’s no hydrazine left on the Ring. Once we get there, we’re gonna be trapped there.”

 

Clarke nodded a little in response and after a moment, lowered her hand and shrugged her shoulders a little. “Well, we have five years to figure it out then, I guess. It’s not like we have a choice right now, we gotta go up, so.”

 

Raven reached out, resting her hand on Clarke’s bicep and giving it a gentle squeeze. “Hey. It’ll be okay, Clarke. We’ll figure something out—we always do.”

 

“You always do,” Clarke offered, looking back at Raven seriously. “We’d all have been dead a long time ago without you, Raven.”

 

Raven blushed furiously, shrugging it off. “It’s all a team effort. We get it done because you’re a good leader.”

 

“I don’t know about that,” Clarke replied, adjusting one of the belts that secured her suit in place. “I’m trying to be, though.”

 

“Well, I’m still glad you picked me for your team,” Raven put her helmet on and began securing it to the neck of the suit. “Even though things didn’t really work out like we planned.”

 

Clarke lifted her head, really looking at the fiercely strong, brilliant woman that stood before her, that had hated her at one time; the woman who had barely slept for months as she searched in every direction for a way to save the world and had managed to do exactly that. “I once told you once that I’d pick you first.”

 

“I remember.” Raven finished attaching the gear and double checking her air tank.

 

Clarke snapped her own helmet in place and looked into Raven’s eyes, resting her hand on her shoulder lightly. “Just so you know.. I still would.”

 

Raven smiled from inside the helmet, playfully bumping it against Clarke’s. “Thanks, Princess.” Clarke rolled her eyes, but she was smiling as well. 

 

“You ready to go back to space, Skaiplana?”

 


 

Lexa’s hip dug into Clarke on one side, and a carton of the most important books—including Becca’s journals—dug into her other side. The chest and waist belts were secured almost painfully tight as she gave a reassuring smile to Aden, who was secured just as uncomfortably on Echo’s lap, the thick straps digging into their shoulders. Madi was strapped into Octavia’s lap beside Echo and Aden, and she was starting to cry as the rocket started up beneath them. 

 

Lexa grabbed her hand and Clarke squeezed it reassuringly, speaking over their headsets. “It’s okay, everybody. It’ll be over before you know it.”

 

Raven made a few adjustments on her control panel, and the rocket vibrated as it tilted sideways just slightly. Her voice came over the headsets, firm but tense with anxiety. “Okay. No more talking. We’re gonna need all the O2 we can save until we can get the scrubbers going on the Ring. Oh, and if you have to throw up, aim down your neck hole, trust me.”

 

Murphy reached over and took Luna’s shaky hand in both of his, rubbing her glove soothingly as she shut her eyes. Roan did the same with Echo, and Octavia gently rocked Madi as much as possible, trying to soothe her tears away as the rocket shifted violently.

 

A soft, reassuring voice came over the headsets, and it took Clarke a moment to realize that it was Luna, softly singing as she reached her free hand out to Madi. Surprisingly, Madi calmed down quickly and Raven must have decided Luna’s song would use less air than Madi’s tears—or perhaps the sweet melody was as comforting to Raven as it seemed to be to the rest of them, because Raven said nothing as she made a few more adjustments on her panel.

 

Raven began counting backwards from ten as the vibrations grew even stronger. Clarke held her breath and felt Lexa’s hand tighten around her own. She felt more than heard the engines blowing off the platform as Raven simultaneously pulled on a lever and flipped a switch into place.

 

The overcrowded ship shuddered and made a terrible cracking sound as they lifted off the launchpad and into the sky. 

 

Clarke felt dizzy immediately. She could barely see out a small window behind Roan, and what she saw was the most terrifying sight she could have possibly imagined. The massive death wave seemed to know exactly where it was going as it swept unapologetically over the forest, leaving a flat path of burned ash and rubble in its wake. She thought briefly of Octavia’s horse, Helios, and could only hope the animal had either found safety or at least had a quick death.

 

The others had also turned towards the windows, watching the wave with silent horror as it engulfed the rapidly-shrinking island they had just left. Luna let out a soft cry as they lifted higher and higher towards the atmosphere, and a chorus imitated her as they got a look at the destruction that had already been wrought across the land. In the distance, they could just barely see the sliver of Polis Tower as it crumbled to the ground, and there was a heartbroken silence filling the ship as they watched their world disappear beneath them. 

 

Yu gonplei ste odon,” Clarke whispered, gazing at the planet she had come to think of as her home. A soft chorus of voices responded, repeating her words as the ship took them further sideways and the scorched earth fell out of view.

 

The ship wobbled and quaked, the sound of metal grinding on metal piercing their ears as they were thrown around inside carelessly. Clarke thought there would probably be more than a few headaches by the time they got onto the Ring.

 

“Everyone hold on! We’re about to break atmo!” Raven’s voice came over the headsets, and everyone grabbed on even tighter as they were bounced furiously against the sides of the ship. 

 

Clarke felt her head impact hard inside the helmet as the ship trembled its way through the atmosphere, and suddenly they were all weightless, their ankles raising off the floor in near choreographed unison. Clarke turned to Lexa once more and smiled despite the trickle of blood running down her forehead where she’d hit the side of the helmet. Lexa just looked back at her, and Clarke was able to pick out her panicked breaths from the multitude of them ringing in her ears. She squeezed Lexa’s hand gently.

 

“It’s okay, everyone. We made it through the worst part,” Raven said shortly, maneuvering the ship with slightly more ease now that she had the assistance of zero-g. “Now I guide us into the bay, and hopefully we make it to the scrubbers before we asphyxiate.”

 

“Thanks for the pep talk,” Octavia replied, but her throat was raw from crying, and her voice sounded more desperate than dry.

 


 

Clarke shoved her face harder against the vent, gasping in the sudden flow of much needed oxygen. She was slumped on the floor with the others as Aden and Madi held masks over their faces and watched in fear.

 

“She did it,” Echo croaked beside her, also pressing her face close to the life-giving vent before reaching for an unconscious Lexa.

 

Clarke coughed into the slats, her voice hoarse. “‘Course she did it, she’s Raven.” She reached down weakly, helping Echo drag Lexa to the vent and shifting her carefully as her strength began slowly returning. She was dizzy with hypoxia, and her fingers took a moment to undo the clamps around Lexa’s helmet. Once she was free of it, Clarke helped position her over the vent, the rest of the electricity snapping and finally buzzing as it flickered back on.

 

Clarke sat slowly as Lexa began waking up, and she slid across the floor, she and Echo taking off the others’ helmets as they slowly regained consciousness. It was only a few minutes until Raven returned, her face still slightly blue, and her walk indicating that she’d likely come very close to unconsciousness herself.

 

They all sat on the floor, gratefully taking massive gulps of the increasingly fresh air.

 

Madi set her helmet on the ground and leaned over to whisper in Aden’s ear.

 

Lexa was still pretty out of it, the brief lack of oxygen putting her in what Clarke knew was a world of discomfort, and still breathless, Clarke looked to the kids they’d be raising. “Ste ogud, Aden?”

 

Aden shifted as they both blushed. “Um, Madi says she.. had an accident in her suit.”

 

Clarke’s heart melted and she instinctively reached her arm out for the girl, who was biting the tip of her glove, embarrassed. “Ge ron ‘I, Madi.” Madi approached her and Clarke took her hand, her voice soft. “It’s okay, Madi. The first time I was in a spaceship, I did, too.”

 

It wasn’t true, but Madi took the glove from her mouth and leaned into Clarke as she wrapped her arm around the petite girl, giving her a reassuring squeeze. “We’ll get you some clean clothes here in a minute, both of you. Okay?”

 

Around her, the others were starting to get to their feet as the sweet reconstituted air filled the hallway, rousing the groggy new residents of the Ring slowly. Clarke, too, stood, and helped a weaving Lexa up. “Okay, I need everyone who’s in space for the first time to come with me. The hospital wing is this way, and I need to get vitals on all of you. Raven, Octavia, Murphy? You guys when you’re finished out here, too.”

 

Octavia didn’t acknowledge her, gazing out the viewport as tears tracked their way down her cheeks. She pressed her hand to the glass, whispering something only she could hear, and her pain was all but palpable. Raven rested her hand on her back gently and waved Clarke off.

 

They were just entering the airlock to the hospital wing when Lexa hit the ground, seizing once more. Clarke immediately went down on her knees, carefully rolling Lexa to her side without restraining her, and tried to shut off her feelings as Roan, Luna, and Echo ushered the two traumatized children through the airlock, glancing over their shoulders at their fallen Heda with fear in their eyes.

 


 

They had all worked for hours to get the Ring functioning and themselves more or less settled before racking up for the night. Lexa had finally fallen asleep after having her first dose of the seizure medication Abby had recommended. Aden and Madi had started out in the bunk bed on the other side of the room, but after the day’s events and the shower that had set Madi screaming for help after she activated it accidentally, both of the children lay curled up around each other at the foot of the bed.

 

Clarke quietly slid out of the bed, taking care not to jostle any of the sleeping occupants, and padded down the quiet, familiar corridor in her bare feet. They had all left their doors open, and as Clarke slowly made her way down the hall, she paused at each occupied room and peered inside.

 

In the first room, Luna and Raven were sleeping; Luna’s arms around Raven and Raven’s arms around, predictably, a book. Clarke smiled, somewhat impressed that Luna could sleep with Raven’s unholy snoring. 

 

Clarke continued to the next room, where Murphy lay face down in only his boxers, an empty silver bag clutched in his hand, and she smirked lightly. She made a mental note to talk to Raven about the hydrofarm and whether they could grow potatoes for him. 

 

Roan was awake, but settled, and they exchanged a brief wave as she passed by. Echo’s room was empty, and Octavia’s door was closed. Clarke understood the reason for the latter once she got close enough to hear the sobbing. and she knocked gently. “Octavia? Can I come in?”

 

It was Echo who responded, solving the other mystery for her. “Come in, Clarke.”

 

She pushed the door open, biting her lip when she saw Octavia laying on the bed, her head cradled in Echo’s lap. Her face was red, her skin coated in tears, and she was clutching her hands to her chest, her knuckles bloodied. 

 

“She punched the wall,” Echo explained quietly. “She won’t let me bandage them for her.”

 

Clarke approached and sat on the edge of the bed beside Echo, reaching out and gently smoothing Octavia’s hair back. “O, I can’t even imagine what you’re feeling right now—Actually, I can, and that’s why I’m so sorry. I know you’re in hell, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.”

 

Octavia just continued crying, her eyes trained on the wall. Clarke softened further and leaned over, her voice taking on a soothing tone. “We need you, O. All of us, but especially Lexa. You’re her best friend, and you can’t disappear on us, we need you. Will you please let me clean your hands?”

 

Octavia didn’t return her gaze or speak, but her fists unclenched and slowly lowered. Clarke pulled a fresh rag from Echo’s kit on the nightstand and began gently cleaning her raw knuckles. Octavia’s grieved sobbing slowed until it had been reduced to a series of sniffs and swallows as exhaustion took over.

 

Clarke finished up quickly as she could, and Echo spoke softly. “I’m going to stay with her.”

 

She squeezed Echo’s shoulder gently. “Ping my room if you need anything.”

 

Echo nodded her head a little. “Thanks, Clarke.”

 

Clarke stood up from the bed and crouched down to look into Octavia’s eyes, which reluctantly met hers after a brief hesitation. “We’ll get you through this, Octavia. I know we aren’t Lincoln or Bellamy, but we care about you. We love you, too.”

 

Ai tombom ste shada,” she whispered, her voice cracking.

 

Clarke swallowed thickly and pressed her lips to Octavia’s forehead, wishing there was something—anything at all—that she could do to relieve some of her pain. 

 

But there wasn’t, and she knew it. So she stood and clasped Echo’s hand briefly before turning and heading back down the hall to her room.

 

Chapter Text

 

But baby I've been here before

I've seen this room and I've walked this floor

You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya

And I've seen your flag on the marble arch

And love is not a victory march

It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Well there was a time when you let me know

What's really going on below

But now you never show that to me do ya

But remember when I moved in you

And the holy dove was moving too

And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Maybe there's a God above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya

And it's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

- Jeff Buckley, ‘Hallelujah’

 

 

 

 

 

 

ONE MONTH LATER

 

“Good blocking, Aden.” Roan’s weapon met Aden’s once more, the dull metal swords Roan had painstakingly crafted for them clanging against each other. On the other side of the gym, Octavia, Echo, and Luna were helping Raven and Madi stretch out, gently correcting their form as they prepared for their training.

 

Murphy generally didn’t wake up until noon, having become somewhat nocturnal since they’d arrived.

 

Clarke was rearranging the bins of medical supplies in the hospital wing, while Lexa read quietly on one of the beds, her glasses perched on the bridge of her nose as she lost herself in the book. There was a comfortable silence as Clarke worked to organize and inventory what dwindling supplies had been left behind, and it was Lexa who broke it.

 

“This cannot be one of your true stories, Klark.”

 

Clarke smiled and glanced back at her. “Why is that?”

 

Lexa sat up. “These people made many dinosaurs from one jusdreina? I do not believe it.”

 

Clarke laughed lightly and sat next to her on the bed, taking the book from her. “This was one of my favorites, but, no. It’s not a true story.”

 

“Good. Because these people are very foolish, to think they won’t be eaten.”

 

Clarke set the book aside and slid her arms around Lexa’s shoulders, running her nails lightly over the back of her neck. “Feel like taking a break from your dinosaurs, Heda?” 

 

Lexa smiled slowly and lifted her hand to remove her glasses.

 

“Don’t,” Clarke said quickly. “Leave ‘em on.”

 

Lexa studied her, amused. “You truly like these glasses, don’t you?”

 

Clarke shifted a little, draping her legs over hers with a coy smile. “I like them on you.”

 

Lexa stroked her leg lightly, running her nails up and down the length of it as she leaned in to kiss her softly. Clarke sighed into her lips, one hand sliding up to cup the back of her head gently. Lexa moaned quietly in the back of her throat as they deepened the kiss, her tongue seeking Clarke’s.

 

Lexa’s hand palmed a generous breast, her thumb circling Clarke’s rapidly hardening nipple and delighting in the light moan it resulted in. Clarke broke the kiss, taking in a breath and ducking her head to capture the sensitive spot behind Lexa’s ear between her lips, careful not to leave a mark.

 

Jok, Leksa. Already feel like I’m about to pop.”

 

Lexa’s hand slid up the inside of her thigh, and Clarke shifted in her lap, dropping one foot to hang off the side of the bed. Lexa moaned softly when her hand reached the dampening spot on her jeans, and a smirk crossed her lips as she whispered, “You really do like the glasses.”

 

Clarke merely whimpered in return, her hips unable to increase the pressure between them from their current position, but trying to nonetheless. “Beja, Lexa..”

 

Lexa obediently dropped her other hand from her breast and began unbuttoning her jeans. Clarke resumed kissing across her neck, murmuring her name as Lexa’s hand slid beneath the denim and rubbed firmly against her.

 

Clarke moaned deeply as Lexa slid inside her, arching her back as her hips moved, trying to take her deeper despite the awkwardness of the angle. Lexa turned her head to capture Clarke’s lips once more as she withdrew and instead circled her fingertip teasingly around her stiffening clit.

 

The kiss deepened as Clarke reluctantly let go of Lexa, bracing her hands against the mattress behind her for balance as her hips thrust up to meet her hand. Clarke bit her lip, climbing more rapidly towards release than she thought possible.

 

Lexa kept up a steady pace, leaning into her as Clarke’s abdominal muscles tightened, her breath reduced to soft gasps between thrusts. Her entire body tightened, her inner walls clamping tightly around Lexa’s finger as she came.

 

Clarke let her arms collapse and lay back on the bed, her cheeks flushed and breathing labored, smiling as she struggled to catch it. Lexa stretched out beside her, carefully sliding her hand free and resting it on Clarke’s hip, tracing the bone’s edge lazily.

 

“That was..” Clarke trailed off, just laughing softly instead. “Quick.”

 

Lexa grinned, scooting closer to rest her chin on her chest. “Yes.”

 

Clarke chuckled again, curling her fingers through Lexa’s hair tiredly. “Who would have thought having two kids would be such a damper on our sex life?”

 

Lexa idly traced her fingers back and forth across her collarbone, still smiling as well. “They will sleep in their own room eventually.”

 

“Is it terrible that I’m not in a rush for that day to come? I mean, as much as I miss the days of us coming, you know, whenever we want.. Having them around all the time is kinda.. You know..”

 

“Nice,” Lexa said softly, resting her head against her chest as Clarke continued to play with her hair.

 

“Yeah. Is that weird?”

 

“It is not weird at all.” Lexa tilted her head just enough to look up at her without having to lift it. “Before? My favorite part of the day was training the natblidas. It is.. comforting. To be around that innocence in such a.. dark world.”

 

Clarke sighed softly, twirling her hair between her fingers. “I do miss this, though.” 

 

“Me, too.”

 

“Madi has spar training for the next hour or so, still. And I already gave permission for Aden to help with the hydrofarm cleanup, so the pod is empty for a little bit longer.” She raised her eyebrows teasingly, curling Lexa’s hair behind her ear.

 

Lexa laughed softly. “Aren’t we supposed to be helping with the hydrofarm cleanup?”

 

“Well, I may have already told Raven you had a headache, so. They’re not exactly expecting us.”

 

Klark, you’re awful sometimes,” Lexa said, shaking her head a little.

 

“That mean you don’t wanna go back to the room and see how many times we can come in an hour? Cause we can go scrub hydrofarm buckets if you’d rather do that..” Clarke smirked knowingly as Lexa quickly shook her head.

 

“No, I suppose the buckets will still be in need of cleaning in an hour.”

 

Clarke smiled smugly as she ran her nails lightly up and down her back, her voice more husky than usual. “Definitely. Things can get very dirty in an hour..”

 

“And how dirty would that be?” Lexa asked with a suggestive smile, letting out a surprised laugh as Clarke flipped them over, ducking her head to kiss her once again.

 


 

That night at dinner, Raven had her leg propped up on an extra chair as Murphy and Roan brought several large bowls to the table.

 

“You should have seen her today, Clarke. She’ll be a match for even the most well trained warriors in no time,” Echo said excitedly, gesturing at Raven, who looked fairly proud of herself. 

 

Clarke smiled across the table. “That’s great. Brains, beauty, and now brawn, too? Reyes, you’re a triple threat.”

 

Raven smirked lightly, but her blush betrayed her. “I’m not that good. Not yet, anyway.”

 

“You will be.” Luna kissed the top of her head as she joined them at the table.

 

Lexa turned to Aden and Madi, who were seated on either side of herself and Clarke. “Did you wash up?” 

 

“Yes, Heda,” Aden responded, already digging into his foo.

 

 Madi held her clean hands up for inspection and was approved with a nod of Lexa’s head. Clarke gazed around the table, unconsciously reaching for Lexa’s hand underneath it. Everyone was relaxed, engaging in small conversations and soft laughter.

 

Clarke nearly had to pinch herself to ensure she was awake, because she couldn’t remember the last time in her life she’d felt this relaxed; this satisfied, this comfortable. She felt a small twinge of guilt in her stomach, thinking of her mother, of Bellamy, Lincoln—the others they’d left behind—and wondering how they were settling in. She was getting better at trying not to think about it, though; or at least, think about it without feeling guilty. It would be a long five years if she focused on the negatives the whole time.

 

Besides, they were probably fine.

 

Clarke turned her attention back to the current conversation at the table, which had circled back around to the morning’s training and how well Aden had done with the sword. Clarke smiled at Lexa’s praise and the resultant blush that spread across Aden’s face. She smiled as Madi poked her finger into a small mountain she’d arranged from the mashed potatoes and starting breaking up her ration bar to tuck it away inside the well she’d made.

 

Clarke wasn’t crazy about the ration bars either, but the hydrofarm was coming along and would hopefully produce enough food soon for them to have real, fresh meals every day. She watched as Lexa scarfed down her own potatoes, as Aden gently scolded Madi for playing with her food, as Luna rubbed Raven’s propped up leg with her eyes full of devotion. She listened as Murphy grumpily lamented that he had only three bags of potato chips left, as Echo and Roan tried to teach Madi a traditional Azgeda children’s song, and as Raven babbled on about collecting extra supplies from the unused rooms remaining on the Ring. Even Octavia laughed from time to time, and Clarke clutched the sound closer to her heart than anything, treasuring the rarity.

 

She even closed her eyes, letting the words, the songs, the joy, fill her up. She soaked in the people that were her family, let it all marinate beneath her skin and warm her from within. She wished briefly that she could freeze the moment; tuck it away somewhere safe, where she could retrieve it anytime she needed to hear their laughter or bathe in their presence.

 

“..Clarke?”

 

Clarke opened her eyes to find Lexa studying her with concern. “Oh.. Sorry. I guess I zoned out.”

 

“Are you okay?” Lexa asked, gently resting her hand on her arm. 

 

“Yeah, I’m good.” Clarke glanced around the table, taking them all in, her voice soft when she continued. “Better than good. I’m great.” She looked back into Lexa’s beautiful eyes, sighing contentedly and leaning over to kiss her chastely. “I’m just happy.”

 

Lexa smiled warmly. “I am happy as well.”


 

FIVE MONTHS LATER

 

 

Clarke landed on the ground with a solid thud, the wind knocked out of her, her nose beginning to bleed from being smashed against the floor. 

 

Jok! Clarke, I am so sorry, I—”

 

Clarke waved Octavia off from where she still lay on the floor, her voice slightly muffled. “I’m fine, it's okay.” Octavia moved quickly, tossing her spear aside as she knelt down and helped Clarke sit up. 

 

“Oh, skrish! Clarke..”

 

Clarke gingerly touched her face and gazed down at the black smears that were left on her hands with a wince before looking back up. Octavia audibly gulped as she took in the streak of blood running out of Clarke's nose. “We.. should get you to medical before you pass out or something.”

 

“I'm not gonna pass out, you don't hit that hard,” Clarke grumped as they stood slowly and headed down to the med bay. 

 

“Hard enough,” Octavia teased, but her tone was laced with guilt. 

 

“If I were you I’d be more worried about the next time we spar. You know, if that's when I decide to exact my revenge. Could be then, could be next month, who knows?” Clarke smirked at the appalled look on Octavia's face and immediately regretted it as a fresh deluge of blood streamed from her nose. 

 

“That's not fair, Clarke. Now the anticipation of it's gonna drive me crazy. That's worse than just smacking me here and now.”

 

“Is it?” Clarke said thoughtfully, with a wicked grin. “I guess that'll be pretty rough on you then, huh?”

 

Octavia groaned as she pushed open the door to med bay. “You’re evil.”

 

“Hey, it’s gonna be a long five years. I’ve gotta keep myself amused.”

 

Echo was just finishing up with Madi when they entered. 

 

“Madi? What happened?” Clarke rushes to her side, her own injury forgotten. 

 

Madi proudly held up a small tooth, the root still stained with dark blood. “My tooth came out!”

 

Echo smiled lightly. “She was a little panicked, but she was a great patient.”

 

Madi turned to face Clarke, her eyes widening when she saw the blood. “Clarke!”

 

“I’m okay, Madi. Just had a little accident. Why don’t you go gross your brother out for awhile? He hates teeth.”

 

Madi grinned with an even more gap-toothed smile and headed out the door, already calling for Aden.

 

“You really are evil,” Octavia said with a firm nod. 

 

 Clarke shrugged as Echo gave her a quick once over and an ice pack.


 

Lexa turned a virtual page on the e-reader Raven had repaired for her, her eyes feeling dry and sore from staring at the screen for too long. Reluctantly, she tapped the the little star in the corner to bookmark it, smiling as she always did.

 

 

“And see, Lexa? You just tap this little star here, and it marks your place.”

 

“It reminds me of you, Clarke.”

 

“Because it’s a star?”

 

“Because you are my place.”

 

 

Lexa sat up, stretching her arms and then her torso, listening to the series of pops her joints made as she did, betraying exactly how many battles she’d been in. Something felt strange—wrong, somehow. She lifted her head as the world briefly melted around her, leaving her sitting on her throne at a long wooden table.

 

She frowned when she saw Becca sitting adjacent to her, regarding her sternly and with clear disapproval.

 

“Becca.” She nodded respectfully in greeting. 

 

“Lexa.” Becca sat back in the chair, somehow managing to look casual and regal at the same time. “Long time, no see. You don’t call, you don’t write..”

 

Lexa shifted uncomfortably. Becca had a point; she had not gone to the shared mindspace in an exceptionally long time, preferring to spend her sleeping hours in her own mindspace, tending to the infinite span of wildflower fields, or re-reading books she enjoyed.

 

“I am sorry, Heda. There is just.. not much in need of command here, and so, less reason to summon you.”

 

Becca eyed her shrewdly. “Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? Your people are down on Earth, scared and alone inside the mountain while you play house with that girl in space.”

 

“That is not fair. I don—”

 

“Not fair?” Becca laughed with a dangerous sort of amusement to her voice. “Lexa, if I thought it was best for our people to use tech, to be in space, I would have made it happen. You would have grown up here, because I would not have come to Earth to save the human race. I would have joined the Ark. I didn’t. What does that tell you?”

 

Lexa felt a blush spread across her face, not wanting to tell Becca what Chancellor Kane had told her about that particular situation. 

 

“Lexa. I will hear your thoughts regardless. Ron ai ridiyo op.” 

 

Lexa cleared her throat uncomfortably. “Then you already know what I know. That you abandoned your people in an escape pod, knowing they would be executed. That you ran because you wanted to save the world, but you were the one who ended it. That you refused to take anything but your own desires and fears into account, and that is why Cadogan’s people teik yu set raun ona tri and burned you.”

 

Lexa stood at the throne, adrenaline pumping, hands slammed onto the table in front of her, her chest nearly heaving with the anger she felt.

 

Becca calmly regarded her with the same calculated gaze, and it sent chills down Lexa’s spine. Then, Becca stood as well, leaning on the back of her chair momentarily before clasping her hands behind her as she slowly walked around the table.

 

“Now let me ron ai ridiyo op.” Her tone was low, threatening; Lexa felt another shudder run through her, but kept her fierce glare trained on Becca nonetheless. “You are an embarrassment. Heda Lexa, Commander of the Thirteen Clans, creator of the Coalition.. The undefeated warrior, a daughter of Trikru.. What a joke. Your people suffer inside the mountain, and you are here, becoming soft and spoiled, just like that girl. You live with traitors to the blood—the girl who ran from the conclave like the coward she is, the boy who hid a natblida for years, and Madi? Madi! Have you even trained with her once?”

 

“She is a child!” Lexa snapped, slamming her fists on the table once more. 

 

“So were you! There will be another Conclave, and Madi will not be ready, and Aden will die or run away rather than fight against someone he loves, and you have left the fate of your people in the hands of whomever Gaia has chosen to train harder.” Becca’s face was smug, and Lexa felt a burn in her arms that she realized was from restraining herself from punching her.

 

“I will not allow any of that. We will find a new way of succession when we return to the ground,” Lexa’s own voice had taken on a low, dangerous tone to it as well, and she felt her muscles trembling with the desire to fight. “There will be a Conclave over my dead body.”

 

Becca smirked then, as though she had expected the reaction and perhaps even tried to induce it herself. Lexa only had moments to wonder before one by one, the other Commanders revealed themselves from the shadows, each wearing a more grim expression than the next. Lexa’s heart raced in her chest, an uneven thumping that felt hard enough to knock the wind out of her.

 

Becca’s smile was wolflike; she had figured out how to devour Lexa and had executed her plan with absolute precision.

 

En’s geimbreika,” Lexa whispered to herself.

 

“You cannot fight this, Lexa.”

 

Lexa steeled herself, knowing it was true, as much as she knew she would indeed fight it anyway. She reached slowly for her kali sword as the other Commanders swarmed in on her, each of them armed with the weapon of their strength. Becca stood in back of the crowd, her arms crossed, a smug look on her face as a Floukru Commander wielding a spear was the first to launch himself at Lexa. 

 

She parried him well, using the blade of her sword to halt the spear mid-swing while thrusting the hilt into his face at the same time.

 

 

When Clarke returned from the shower, Lexa was on the floor convulsing, her legs having found their way under the bed after she’d fallen from it. Clarke moved quickly, pushing Lexa onto her side and waiting until the convulsions stopped to pull her legs free from under the bed.

 

 

Lexa tried to catch her breath, the spray of the Commander’s dark blood splashing across her face as she slashed across his throat and sent him tumbling back into his own mindspace. There was no time to rest as one of the earliest commanders, the one who had formed Azgeda, approached.

 

There was too much honor at stake for them to attack her en masse, and Lexa quickly realized with a sinking feeling that what she faced was truly a Conclave. She could take them each one by one; she was the best warrior in generations. But there were dozens of them, and even in mindspace, her energy was regrettably limited. Certainly they would eventually take her out; send her screaming back to her own mindspace, where she would stay for eternity if she lost control of the Flame.

 

She could not lose, so she readied her sword as the Azgedan Commander of legend twirled her bo staff with a wicked grin.

 

 

Lexa’s head was cradled in Clarke’s lap when she seized again, and Clarke found herself frozen in place, having not expected another so soon. She snapped out of it after a moment and shouted for help in a voice that sounded strange even to her own ears.

 

 

Lexa kept her movements short and unpredictable, pushing herself into the space of each Commander that entered the battle while maintaining her own. She tucked and rolled and used her diminutive size and knowledge of various fighting styles to her advantage.

 

She remembered questioning Titus about the need for learning the other clans’ styles—and motivations—during her training, but had merely been thankful for it during her solo gonplei with Roan. She found herself with similar feelings now, as the dual wielding Sangedakru warrior’s moves were easily predictable in their execution.

 

 

“Get Echo,” Clarke snapped at a shaken Octavia. “And a stretcher!” 

 

Murphy took to his knees beside her, helping her raise Lexa’s shoulder off the ground as a fresh set of convulsions began and Octavia took off to find Echo.

 

 

By her seventh opponent, Lexa couldn’t breathe. Sharp pain shot around her ribs and into her lungs, cutting through her labored breath like glass. She bled freely from a half dozen wounds, and the floor was slick with Nightblood both taken and given. Her muscles knotted from the intensity of her movements, and she saw defeat on the horizon, confirmed by the large, hooded figure who stood before her.

 

Sheidheda,” Lexa hissed through gritted teeth. “You would help the ones who have kept you locked up for generations?”

 

He grinned at her; a terrible, toothy grin that somehow managed to reach even the scarred expanse of skin where his eye had once been. 

 

Strik Leksa,” he rasped, hands encircling his daggers. “Yu branwoda. Yu nou get em in klir. En’s yu kyon lok ai daun. Yu souda wan op deyon, Heda. Ai na fleim daun yu wan medo ai na gyon op kom yu folau.” 

 

[“Little Lexa, you fool. You don’t understand. It is you who has kept me locked away. You will die today, Commander. I will burn your remains and rise from your ashes.”]

 

Lexa emitted a feral snarl as she lowered her center of gravity and thrust her sword towards his liver, only managing to clip his side as he anticipated the move and rewarded her by slamming the hilt of his blade into her nose. She bled freely as he laughed, running his tongue up the edge of his blade, tasting the copper of her lifeblood.

 

Set yu daun,” he commanded, and Lexa spat the blood filling her mouth on the ground, wiping her mouth on her sleeve.

 

Nowe,” she growled back, bringing her sword down to meet his twin daggers. He locked them across and Lexa flashed briefly back to her fight against Roan. The move had not worked in her favor—her kali swords were large and heavy, and Roan’s brute strength had been what felled her in that fight.

 

But Sheidheda had more control over the short daggers and more muscle behind his thrust, and he did what Lexa had been unable to in this position. He easily parried, bringing his elbow into her face once more, and the blood slick beneath them sent her feet out from under her. She slammed into the hard floor, felt her ribs break, felt the wound split open across the back of her head, knew she was done for.

 

Sheidheda did not waste time showboating the way Roan had, either. Before Lexa even realized she had been downed, he was standing over her, the point of his dagger pressed against her tender throat. The remaining Commanders broke into a series of shouts.

 

Put em natrona daun!”

 

Jus drein, jus daun!”

 

Nou heda noumou!”

 

Lexa stared into Sheidheda’s remaining eye, dark and cruel. He would show no mercy; he never had.

 

 

Clarke and Echo worked furiously, with Raven and Murphy assisting. Monitors beeped and pulsed, and Clarke had shut down sometime before they’d even made it to the med bay. She manipulated the surgical laser with precision, as though she had done this a hundred times before. Echo guided the suction as Clarke worked delicately to repair the damaged blood vessels. Perspiration ran off them as Raven toweled their foreheads. 

 

Murphy was on the other side of the airlock, taking more of his and Octavia’s blood and, after typing it, some of Roan and Madi’s as well. Aden held Madi’s other hand as she whimpered, clutching the location of the first draw. Murphy felt the guilt churning in his gut as he stuck her once more, whispering soothing words to the unhappy child about being a hero, saving someone’s life, your pain is necessary. His tongue grew thick with the lies people told you to get what they wanted, and he could not swallow as he brought a fresh bag into the operating pod and hooked it up silently.

 

He watched with a detached sense of fear as Clarke and an increasingly nervous Echo worked against the ruptured aneurisms that even he could pick out on Lexa’s scan. 

 

 

Lexa was beaten.

 

Her blood beaded up around the tip of the dagger pressed to her throat, and she was filled with shame at her failure; at the knowledge of what Clarke would now go through because she had lost, and her fight was over.

 

Her lips wrapped tightly around her breath as she whispered, “Ai gonplei ste odon.

 

Sheidheda smiled cruelly as he pressed the dagger deeper into her tender flesh, and she closed her eyes, patiently awaiting death’s company.

 

Em pleni! Noumou,” Becca commanded, appearing in Lexa’s peripheral as her eyes opened once more.

 

Sheidheda did not move but to turn his eye on Becca instead, a challenge and mockery in his voice. “Step yu au, Bekka. Yu nou ste frag ai op daun hir.”

 

Becca stepped into him with no hesitation, her tone dangerous as she stared him down. “Lok emo daun.”

 

The other Commanders surged on the pair, dragging Sheidheda and Lexa across the bloodslicked floor. Large wrought iron gates were opened, and they were forced into the respective cells. A chill ran down Lexa’s spine as the door clanged shut and a code lock was quickly latched into place. Her ethereal body weak and weaving from blood loss, she nonetheless shook the prison door with all of her strength, a choked sob escaping when it did not move.

 

Physically and emotionally exhausted, Lexa collapsed to the floor of the cell, and did not even hear Sheidheda’s cruel laughter as she sobbed into the cold stone floor.

 


 

Lexa’s skin was pale and cold to the touch. 

 

Clarke sat in a chair next to the bed, holding her lifeless hand in both of hers, her eyes bloodshot and swollen from her tears that had persisted well into the night. She’d finally run out of them just before Earth’s dawn and had simply sat counting the seconds between forced breaths from the ventilator. She’d miscounted once and found herself screaming mindlessly for help, her cries echoing off the cold metal walls that surrounded them.

 

After that, when Clarke had predictably refused to try to get some sleep, Echo had pulled a cot into the hallway on the other side of the door to Medical and been camped there ever since. Clarke was thankful for both the privacy and proximity. She wanted everyone to be right here, but she also wanted them to leave her alone. She didn’t care how little sense it made, because nothing else made sense right now, either. 

 

Not her feelings, not this situation, and certainly not Lexa—strong, commanding warrior and softhearted revolutionary Lexa—laying lifeless in a tangle of wires and tubes, bandages thick around the surgical wound on her skull. Surrounded by beeping machines and blinking lights. It was all wrong, like a horse walking on two legs. Clarke had seen all of this equipment before, of course, knew some of it very well, in fact; but surrounding Lexa, it all looked foreign and terrifying. 

 

Once the sun had risen, Clarke couldn’t keep track of how much time passed. Echo came in and out every so often, double checking all of the connections and wires. She’d sat down at one point and Clarke vaguely noted her talking about more surgery; something from one of her books, something about a feeding tube? But she’d quickly realized Clarke wasn’t really paying attention anyway and they’d sat quietly for awhile before she left again.

 

More hours passed as Clarke concentrated on the still eyelids that hid brilliant green eyes behind them, willing them to open and reveal the mischievous gemstones whose patterns she’d memorized long ago. She focused on the slight upturn of her nose, the supple pout of her lips beneath the mask of the ventilator, and the gentle tilt of her petite but perfect ears. The soft curve of her neck and shoulder, and the familiar length of slender fingers that rested limply entwined with her own.

 

Clarke’s mouth was dry, her lips cracked from dehydration, and her tongue felt too thick for her mouth as she whispered. “Don’t you dare give up, Heda. You hear me? You’re gonna be okay. You’re gonna wake up, and you’re gonna be fine. We’re gonna spend the next five years watching the stars, and making love, and watching Aden and Madi grow up.” Her voice quivered as she kissed the back of her hand softly. “I can’t do this without you, Lexa. I can’t.. I can’t breathe without you.” The tears she’d run out of earlier had apparently been replenished, because they were running down her face freely once more, and her voice strained as though someone was actively gutting her—which was what it felt like, really—when she quietly sobbed against her arm, “I can’t live without you. I don’t want to.”

 

A soft scuffling sound came from the doorway, and Clarke looked up to see the silhouette of Luna’s hair as she started to head away.

 

“Luna,” Clarke’s voice surprised even herself, but she found she didn’t really mind the girl’s presence.

 

Luna stopped and stepped back into the doorway. Her eyes were also swollen and bloodshot, with dark circles beneath them indicating that she probably hadn’t slept either. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt, I just..” She looked over at Lexa’s still form, her breath catching a little at the sight of her.

 

Clarke numbly gestured at the chair Echo had been in earlier. “It’s okay. You.. You’re her family, too. You should be here with her.”

 

Luna quietly took the chair, looking at the tangle of metal and plastic with nothing short of terror. “I can.. tell you what all these are. If it would help.”

 

Luna seemed to consider it for a moment before her shoulders sagged, her head quietly shaking a little. “Mochof. I don’t think knowing would help, though.”

 

Clarke swallowed dryly, looking back at Lexa’s face once more, her voice barely a whisper. “It wouldn’t.”

 

They quietly sat vigil beside Lexa, the girl from the sky and the girl from the sea silently rallying around the girl from the trees between them, willing her to return. After many long moments, Luna’s soft voice startled Clarke a little.

 

“Can she hear us?”

 

Clarke shrugged halfheartedly. “Maybe. We don’t know, really, what people in comas experience.” She paused, swallowing hard. “Maybe because we don’t ask survivors about it. Because we don’t really want to know the answers. But.. but maybe she can. I’ve been talking to her, just in case.”

 

“Would it be okay if I..” she gestured at Lexa, and received a quiet nod of approval.

 

Clarke had expected similar words to her own, but instead, Luna began singing quietly, resting her arms and head tentatively on the very edge of the bed. "Beja, krasha-de sen klir ai, kom sof daun ai gada kamp raun. Ste shil ain keryon sof, ste hosh ai daun..”

 

Clarke felt herself inexplicably lulled into the smallest sense of comfort by both Luna’s melodic voice and the inherent knowledge that this song meant something important to Lexa and might be a comfort to her in her current state.

 


 

Lexa sat slumped in the corner of her cell, the faint calls of Clarke and Luna’s voices wafting in and filling her chest. She could not cry; she feared she had no tears left. Sheidheda had grown bored with mocking her for the moment, and she was grateful, however brief the respite from his unmatched sadism may be. 

 

She closed her eyes and rocked gently as though one with the waves Luna sang of, and she dreamed that she and Clarke were in another life; somewhere beautiful and free, where they were just girls. Stupid, silly girls, who dreamed of things besides war, besides death and destruction.

 

When Becca came, she did not greet her nor turn her gaze on her. She would not give her the satisfaction of receiving the respect she inherently demanded even here.

 

Becca merely stood outside the cage’s door, staring her down, and still Lexa refused to acquiesce. 

 

“This is why you’re here, Lexa. Because you don’t understand your place in the bigger picture, the primary goal of the Commander.”

 

Lexa merely sneered from her corner. “You would see this as a win, Bekka Pramheda? Now you have no Commander, because you cannot kill me. How well is your coup truly going?”

 

Becca smiled condescendingly and shook her head a little. “Lexa, Lexa. You still don’t see the big picture. Do you think your skygirl will keep you alive on machines forever?” 

 

Lexa felt a fire ignite in the pit of her gut, bile rising in the back of her throat. “Clarke would not take my life. You underestimate her once again.”

 

Becca crouched low, gaining the eye contact she wanted before continuing. “Clarke would not see it as murder. Soft, empathetic Clarke of the Sky People will see it as clemency. Trust me, Leksa. Clarke will be the one to take your life, and she will believe it is the merciful thing to do. If not now, then when it is time to return to the ground. Or did you believe this grand love story of yours would continue? That Clarke would find a way to transport all of your new machine friends back to Earth as well?”

 

Lexa felt herself growing hollow within from the dawning realization that Becca was probably telling the truth, and it seemed the floor might drop open beneath her and swallow her whole. She shook with a mixture of rage and fear, her voice seemingly stolen by the likely honesty of Becca’s words.

 

“You would not capitulate and follow the path the Commander is required to. Now you will follow this path, and the girl you gave your peoples’ lives to will be the one to take yours as well.”

 

Becca rose once more and began walking away, smiling to herself as Lexa threw herself against the bars uselessly, her screams echoing through empty hallways where no one but herself could hear them.