[Octavia 8:21am] Good news and even better news. Divorce is finalized and the paperwork on the house is all done. Keys will be delivered to the gallery later today.
[Clarke 8:24am] Thank you. For everything, really.
[Octavia 8:25am] You don't have to thank me. You'll always be my sister. I can't believe Bellamy is such an asshole.
Clarke let out a sigh as she ran her fingers through her sleeping daughter's hair and watched as her son played with his trucks on the floor of their temporary apartment. The last three months had been a whirlwind. First she found out her husband of six years had been cheating on her for quite a while. Then he admitted he never wanted the two children that they had together, and finally that he was moving to Spain for a job, which resulted in her being given full custody in all of the divorce proceedings. It all happened in a matter of just a few days, and it had taken its toll.
Luckily she was an overly cautious person, never having combined her and Bellamy's bank accounts. Never letting on to the savings she had amassed from the sale of her paintings. So when Bellamy wanted to sell the house, the one he insisted on buying as the "provider" of their family, she let him without a fight. She moved herself and the children to a nice apartment and started house hunting immediately.
She found an old house with a surprisingly open concept interior that she absolutely fell in love with. She put in an offer on the same day that she toured it. In needed work, but it was in a good neighborhood in a great school district. She was happy to have found a home that she could raise her children and make entirely their own, having no trace of their deadbeat father.
Surprisingly, her feelings about the divorce were short lived. She was angry, so very angry when she found out that Bellamy cheated, but when he said he never wanted their children, Clarke completely lost all emotions toward him. She knew in that moment that he was no longer the man she fell in love with at 19, he was a stranger.
Clarke lifted one last box from her SUV and moved quickly toward the front door. This was her last load from the apartment besides furniture, which she moved all by herself while her parents had the kids. Tomorrow, Octavia and Lincoln would be helping with the rest and the storage unit. For now, Clarke was dead set on getting the kids rooms painted and set up so that they could come home to a fresh start.
“Uh, hi.” A strange, albeit not unpleasant, voice called out. Clarke set the box down on the porch and turned to find a strikingly beautiful brunette just at the end of the front walkway.
“I’m Lexa Woods, I live across the street.” She turned and pointed to the only house on the street with a fully landscaped lawn and fresh exterior paint. Clarke regarded this woman for a moment, hair tied up in a loose pony, wearing Levi jeans and a white tee. She was effortlessly gorgeous and cool. After a moment, Lexa spoke again. “Anyway, I saw you all by yourself out here and I wanted to make sure you didn’t need any help.”
“That’s very kind of you, Lexa. I’m Clarke Griffin, and unless you want to spend the rest of your day painting my kids rooms, I think I am good on the help for the day.”
Lexa arched a well shaped brow and shouted back. “All day? What do you only have a 1 inch brush, or do you have like 9 kids?”
“I have rollers.” Clarke laughed. “And 2 kids. Come up here and stop yelling from the street.
Lexa walked up and leaned on the railing that is around the porch, she leaned back immediately and grabbed the top rail with one hand and jiggled it. “Hmm.”
“I thought you were here to criticize my paint supplies not my porch construction.”
“Oh I can do both.” Lexa laughed. “I can also offer my paint sprayer so we only need to hand roll the ceiling. It’s not popcorn is it?”
“No the last owner scraped it.” Clarke assured. “Wait, why do you just have a paint sprayer lying around?”
“I’m a contractor. And I have been wanting to reno this place for a while, I offered to buy this house instead of mine, but the woman that lived here was adamant about not selling. She was in a hospice facility and her son tried to convince her, but her dad built this place so she wouldn't sell. She passed about 8 months ago, the son called me and asked me if I was still interested, but I already closed on mine. ”
“Oh. That makes sense.”
Lexa nodded. “Anyway, what is it you do?”
“I am an artist. I own the gallery over on Polaris and 3rd."
"I did the work on the bar a couple spots over. Nice place you've got there."
"I love it. I put my heart and soul into it."
"Mmhmm. I know the feeling." They stare at each other for just a moment longer that what should be comfortable for strangers, but neither feel awkward. "So 2 kids, huh? They pick colors yet?"
"My son Aden did, he's 3, and he picked green. With a jungle theme. Madi doesn't get a say because she is four months old, so I picked lavender."
"Good choices. Let me go grab some stuff, I'll be right back."
"Oh I was kidding. I can totally handle it, you don't need to help."
Lexa stopped midway down the walk and turned to flash the blonde a smile. "Well that wouldn't be very neighborly of me, now would it."
"I uh." Clarke rubbed the back of her neck and blushed a little. "I am not be best at accepting help for free, especially from strangers. I can pay you."
"Nonsense. I offered help. If I want to be paid, I'll give you a quote and materials invoice before I start." Lexa turned and walked back across the street to her own house.
Clarke sighed, already sensing this was not a fight to be won, she picked up the box from the porch and brought it into the house, setting is down in the kitchen.
Its ten more minutes before a soft knock on the door echoed through the nearly empty house, followed by the sound the the paint sprayer rolling across the hardwood. Lexa had a bucket full of random supplies in one had and the sprayer trailing behind.
"Okay, which are the kids rooms?"
"Aden's is the first door on the right, Madi's the door after that."
"Cool." Lexa put all of the tools in the first empty room and then reappeared in the kitchen. "You mind if I snoop around a bit?"
"Go ahead. I know this place needs some love and I am open to your professional opinion."
Lexa clapped her hands together and wrung them maniacally. "Oh this is gonna be fun."
The women walked around the house and Lexa pointed out several different ideas that Clarke absolutely loved. Soon, they moved on to prepping for the paint, then the actual painting. The contractor made Clarke wait outside the rooms while she sprayed them, then they both went in and did some touch ups, including the ceiling. Adens room when completely smooth, and they worked well together. In Madi's room, Clarke insisted on being the one on the ladder this time.
She looked at her brush is time to see a big drop of lavender paint fall off and travel straight down to the bright white tee shirt of her painting companion.
"Clarke, why is their fucking paint on my white shirt." Bellamy seethed from the closet.
Clarke rounded the corner to their walking closet and looked at the shirt in question. "I don't know Bell. Best guess is it transferred from my clothes to yours in the hamper."
His face grew even more red and angry. "This shirt is supposed to be dry clean only."
"Okay, well you put it in the hamper, things in the hamper go in the laundry. You want it dry cleaned, take it to the fucking cleaners, but don't blame me."
"Whatever. Can you get you paint out of it or not?"
Lexa looked up with a goofy smile. "Hey, drippy, watch yourself."
"Lexa I am so sorry!" Clarke descended the ladder quickly coming to a stop in front of the slightly taller woman. "I can get that out I promise."
"Don't worry about it. I go through about 10 white shirts a month. I was just teasing you."
"It was brand new, I can tell."
"It was, but that's 100 percent my fault. I saw a pretty girl all by herself, possibly in need of some help and I didn't want to look like a bum when I met her." Lexa flashed her a small smile. "Don't worry about it. Seriously."
"Um." Clarke swallowed hard. "Okay."
"Also tell me now if I shouldn't flirt with you, because if you don't I will continue and I don't want you to be uncomfortable. I noticed you're not wearing a ring, but if you're not into women, I get it."
"No." Clarke shook her head. "I mean. Yes, women are great, but um, my divorce is still really fresh and I am not looking for anything right now."
"Sorry, that's not a clear answer on the flirting." Lexa beamed a smile at her. "Because to me that sounded like, sure Lexa you can flirt, but it isn't going to get you anywhere for quite some time."
Clarke laughed a bit at that, feeling free for the first time in quite a while. "Well, you read between the lines pretty well."
"You want his dresser in his room, I assume?" Lincoln unloaded the toddler's dresser from the truck and moved it toward the house.
"Actually, no. Just leave it in the living room. Lexa is going to come to rip up the carpet and sand and finish the floors around 1pm."
"Um. Who?" Octavia cocked her head to the side and put her hand on her hip.
"Lexa, she lives across the street. She's a contractor." Clarke wiped the sweat from her brow. "She helped me paint yesterday and checked out the wood under the carpet. Its original hardwood, just needs a new finish."
"Well, that's a very friendly neighbor." Lincoln shrugged when Octavia shot him a look.
"So you just met her yesterday?"
Clarke shrugged. "Yeah. She said she needs a new project since she's fixed up her place already. I feel like maybe I created a monster. She was very eager to help with all the projects that need to get done, and even took my offer of food in exchange for labor."
"So this house is going to be a lot of work Clarke." Her dad surveyed as he walked around. "Are you sure everything is up to code?"
"Yes dad. And just in case, I had a private contractor look at a couple of things already. She is going to be doing some wood rot repair and is getting me a quote on roofing."
"And you've got the funds to cover all of that?" He raised an eyebrow.
"Dad, I know I am only 27, but believe it or not you raised me right. The gallery is doing very well. Very, very well. I have plenty of savings and a stash for this kind of stuff. Plus I paid cash for the house, so no mortgage."
"Wow. That's really good to hear. I've been worried since you told us what Bellamy said about custody and not wanting anything to do with the kids."
"Well don't worry about that. He still has to pay child support. I have the payments set up to go to Octavia's firm and she will monitor whether or not he is paying and file a case against him if he doesn't." Clarke explained. "But that money is going into two separate accounts for them when they are older. I am not going to rely on him for anything with my kids."
Her father wrapped her is a tight hug. "I love you princess, and I am sorry this is how your relationship worked out. I never did like that guy."
"Yeah, I know dad."
Their conversation was cut short by a knock on the door. Aden ran over and stood to see who was visiting them. Clarke peaked through the hole and saw their new neighbor waiting patiently. She opened the door and smile at Lexa.
"Hey, Lexa what's up?"
"Hey Picasso, oh you must be Aden, hi there." She waved to the boy peeking between his mother and the door. "I came to look at the joists in the attic. I have a guy that can do the roof for a decent price, but he wants to know if there is any current water damage."
"Oh, sure. Come on in." The blonde opened the door to accommodate her visitor. "Dad this is Lexa Woods, the contractor I mentioned. She lives across the street and has already been a huge help. Lexa, this is my dad Jake."
"Mr. Griffin, nice to meet you." Lexa shook the taller man's hand.
"Nice to meet you Lexa. Please, call me Jake."
"So, you're professional contractor? You look barely over 25. Impressive."
"Well thank you, sir. I am actually 30, and I have been working with my dad doing this sort of stuff since I was 12."
Lexa and Jake chatted while Clarke moved to the kitchen to start dinner. Her dad joined her quite a while later, after having walked Lexa out.
"I like her. She really knows her stuff, and she seems genuinely kind." Jake lamented.
Clarke smiled to herself a little. "Yeah, she does."
"Bellamy, are you home?" Clarke called as she entered the apartment they shared.
"Yeah, babe. Back here."
Clarke followed the sound of his voice, to the bedroom, where he was propped up in bed with a video game controller in his hand. "Bell, what's that?"
"I bought an Xbox."
"Uh huh, and how long have you been sitting there playing?"
"A few hours, why?"
"Well, I had my first exhibit tonight and I was hoping my boyfriend would be there."
His eyes went a little wide. "That was tonight? Sorry babe. I'll make the next one I promise."
"Lexa. What are you doing here?" Clarke asked, surprised to see her neighbor, well new friend really, at her collection opening at the gallery. She took in the sight of spiffed up Lexa, who was wearing a crisp white button down, navy blue slacks and grey dress shoes. She really did look great in whatever she wore.
"Hi. Sorry. Did you not want me here? I thought, when you mentioned it the other night that it was an invitation. I can go-"
"No! No. It was an invite. I want you here. I was just surprised is all."
Lexa smiled brightly. "Okay good. Oh, this is my cousin, Anya." She pointed to the woman next to her, that honestly Clarke had not noticed. She was dressed similarly, in a green shirt, with black pants and shoes.
"Clarke Griffin. Nice to meet you Anya."
"Nice to meet you too. This is all your work?"
"For the most part, yes. In the window are some local artists friends pieces, sculptures and glass blowing. The paintings though are all me."
"Impressive." Anya nodded. "Very impressive."
"Clarke, I brought tile samples." Lexa shouted from the doorway as she kicked the front door closed behind her. The Griffin's had moved in almost 3 months ago now, and Lexa had become a pretty regular fixture in their home nightly.
"Lexa!!!!!!" A naked, wet three year old screeched down the hallway and straight toward her.
"Hi Aden!" Lexa set the samples on the dining table. "Let's go get you a towel, huh?"
"Okay!" Aden ran a circle around her and raced back to the bathroom.
Clarke yelled his name as Lexa made her way slowly down the hallway behind him. She rounded the corner into the bathroom where Clarke was holding a freshly bathed Madi. "Aden, towel off, then go get your pj's on, okay?"
He grabbed the towel she held out to him. "Okay mommy." And then off to his room he went.
"Sup, Monet." Lexa leaned into the door frame. "You seem to have your hands full tonight, I brought you tile samples, but you can just text me which ones you like later. I don't want to overwhelm you."
"No no, it's okay. Do you have a bit to hang around? I'm going to put her down and Aden is going to watch a movie."
"If you're sure it's an okay time, I am cool with hanging around for a bit."
Clarke smiled as she moved past Lexa and toward Madi's room. "Thanks for being so flexible."
"Thanks for being so gorgeous. Makes it easy for me to be flexible."
Clarke only rolled her eyes in response, but she couldn't help the smile she wore. After she was able to get Madi down she walked back to the living room to find Lexa and Aden working together to stack pillows and couch cushions.
"Proper movie watching atmosphere requires a fort." Lexa smiled as she grabbed two dining chairs to hold up the sheet. Clarke agreed and helped her spread out the sheet and get Aden settled in to watch Moana.
"Wine?" Clarke offered.
"Sure." Lexa nodded as she arranged the tile samples on the counter. Clarke uncorked the bottle and poured two glasses. She placed one in front of Lexa then leaned into the counter with her hip. "Thank you. So I am thinking this light grey for the flooring and then this white and grey circular tile for the shower. They'll go really good with the counter and cabinet you picked out last week."
Clarke hummed in agreement. "I like that, but I was thinking maybe something a little darker for the floor. I saw some slate floors online and they looked fantastic."
"Yeah, they look really good. They are also super pricey."
"Have I complained about money to you yet?" Clarke raised an eyebrow.
Lexa chuckled. "No, I guess not."
"Can we throw some light green in with the circular too?"
"Instead of the grey or in addition to?"
"I'll look around and see what I can find."
"Mommy. Juice?" Aden tottled into the kitchen with his sipper cup.
"No bud, no more juice tonight. Water okay?"
"Okay." He waited until Clarke put some water in his cup and gave it back. "Lexa, mommy let's finish Moana."
"Daddy, movie!" Aden screeched as he ran into Bellamy's home office.
The man sighed and rubbed his temples as he looked at his computer screen. "Not now Aden."
"Aden I said not now."
"Please. Please, please."
Bellamy slammed his hand down on the desk. "Dammit Aden. I told you no." He yelled. Aden's lip quivered then he ran from the room crying.
"What the hell was that?" A very angry Clarke stormed into the office.
"I need to work, Clarke, don't you get that?"
"I get it Bellamy. But he's two and a half. He just wants to spend time with his dad."
"Yeah well, he's going to have to wait."
"Remind me to not hold my breath." Clarke slammed the door behind her as she left the office.
"Sounds good. Let's go!" Lexa scooped up the boy and threw him over her shoulder as she carried him back into the living room giggling. Clarke watched for a moment then followed them, bringing the wine along too.
Octavia kicked open the front door as she carried what should have been more than one trip of groceries. She set them on the dining table and fished the milk out of the bag. She moved toward the refrigerator to put it away.
"Holy fuck!" She yelped as she nearly dropped the gallon of milk.
"Swear jar." The body under the sink announced as they pointed toward the jar on the counter.
"Who are you? What are you doing?"
"Santa claus. Currently doing elf recruitment. What does it look like I am doing?" Lexa sat up and cocked a brow at the girl still clutching the gallon of milk to her chest.
"Funny." The raven haired lawyer deadpanned. "So you must be Lexa?"
"I am, and if I had to guess, you're probably Octavia."
"I am fixing the water line to the dishwasher." Lexa explained. "I am almost done, if I am in your way."
"No. I can work around you. Clarke called and was stuck at the gallery with a new client, so I did her grocery shopping. Do you have a key?"
"No. I stopped by the gallery this morning after Clarke told me that the dishwasher wasn't draining."
"Okay." She drawled out. Octavia continued to eye Lexa suspiciously as she had for their whole conversation. "Look, Clarke says you have done a lot around here. I've seen your work, and its quality. I am just wondering what you want from my sister?"
Lexa shook her head. "I don't want anything from Clarke. I like doing this stuff and I like her and the kids. All Clarke is looking for right now is a friend and some light flirting, and I am okay with that."
"Alright." Octavia shrugged. "I am just protective of them. Even though it was my own brother that treated them like shit."
"Yeah, Clarke has told me a little bit. I am not the biggest fan of your brother."
"You and me both."
[Clarke 5:23pm] me and the kids are sick. Don't come over and get infected.
[Lexa 5:41pm] sick with what?
[Clarke 5:51pm] flu.
A knock on the door roused Clarke from the couch, where her two children were sleeping. She rose quietly from her spot and tiptoed to the door to find Lexa with a plastic bag in her hand, wearing sweats and a tshirt.
"I told you to stay away." Clarke crossed her arms over her chest.
Lexa shrugged. "I brought soup. Also I have my flu shot, and a damn good immune system."
Clarke looked to the bag and then back up to Lexa. "Thank you, they've already been fed dinner, nothing really sounded very appetizing to me. Come in at your own risk."
Lexa followed her into the kitchen and started the soup. Clarke was able to eat some soup and drink some tea.
"You look exhausted." Lexa tucked a strand of hair behind Clarke's ear. "Why don't you go take a bath? I'll watch them."
"Positive." She leaned in and pressed her lips to Clarke's forehead. Then wrapped her in a hug "You have a little fever."
Clarke reciprocated the hug, wrapping her arms around the contractor's waist. "I'll take some meds too. Thanks Lex."
"You don't need to thank me Clarke."
"I think I do." Clarke leaned back slightly and pressed a kiss to Lexa's cheek before she walked away. When she finally made her way back to the living room she found Lexa asleep with Madi on her chest and Aden curled into her side. "There is no way she isn't getting sick." Clarke shook her head and rolled her eyes. She gently lifted Aden which caused Lexa to stir as well.
"Hey. How was the bath?"
"Great, thank you. I feel a little better. Can you bring her to my bed?" Lexa nodded, stood and followed with the baby. When they got to Clarke's room, she pointed to the co-sleeper, indicating that was where Madi would be sleeping. The blonde laid Aden down just on the other side of the sleeper, but it was still the middle of her bed.
"Do you need anything else?" Lexa whispered. "I know you told me to stay away, but when you said all of you were sick, I couldn't help but think you shouldn't be doing this alone."
Clarke couldn't help but move to hug Lexa for the second time that night. "Thank you." She whispered, after a few moments. "This is nice."
"Yeah it is." Neither woman made a move to let go until Aden stirred. Lexa pressed her lips to the top of damp blonde locks.
"Lexa, cuddle?" The boy asked, his voice scratchy from the coughing. She looked at Clarke, who just shrugged, as if to say only if you want.
"For a little while, okay Aden?"
They all piled into the bed. The adults on either side of the children. Clarke woke up at 12 am, and Lexa was still there, arm slung over Aden and just barely touching Madi's side, everyone sleeping soundly. When she woke next, Lexa was sitting up with Madi in her lap, playing peekaboo quietly.
"Morning." Lexa said without even looking over. "Aden went to play in his room."
"You stayed." Clarke breathed out. Lexa shifted so that Madi was on the bed between them, then leaned over toward Clarke. "You didn't have to stay, but thank you."
"Hey." The brunette leaned over to fix the bed head that Clarke had going on, then stroked her thumb across Clarke's cheek. "None of that, gorgeous."
Clarke tore her eyes away from the intense gaze of the green eyed in front of her to look at Madi. "Lex, look she's going to crawl."
They both relaxed into the bed and watched as Madi slowly, and methodically, crawled from the spot where Lexa put her to Clarke. Both women cheered when she reached her mother.
"Lexa, what in the world!" Clarke shouted from the front lawn as she balanced Madi on her hip and Aden trailed behind. "What are you doing?"
Lexa popped up and smiled, covered with dirt, next to a pile of what used to be the porch of the Griffin home. "This thing was a hazard."
Clarke stared at her, slack jawed. "How do I even get in my house?"
"Side door." Lexa shrugged. "It'll only be a couple of days Clarke, then I won't have to worry about you or Aden or Madi when she starts walking, falling through and hurting yourselves."
Clarke sighed, thankful for the thoughtfulness but still upset at the lack of discussion before the start. "Lex. This is a huge project. Are you sure it's only going to be a couple of days?"
"Yeah. The demo is already done. The wood was rotted to hell, it basically just crumbled off. The overhang was a real hazard, a stiff breeze would have probably taken it down. But I convinced one of my guys to come and help out with the finishing on Tuesday. So it'll be completely done by then. I promise."
"Okay, but we need to have a serious talk about your scope of freedom to just tear my house apart, Lex."
"Yeah, okay Clarke. Sorry." Lexa shrugged as Clarke stormed toward the side door.
About an hour later the front door opened behind Lexa and Clarke leaned out. "Water?" She shoved a water bottle out the door over Lexa's head.
"Thanks, beautiful." Lexa took the bottle and sipped from it. "Look, I'm sorry, I crossed the line. I'll run everything by you in the future before I start okay?"
"I just really don't like surprises. And I do appreciate everything you have done, please don't think I don't. I just came home to the front of my house ripped off. That is not cool."
"You're right." Lexa pulled herself up to stand on the framing she just installed. She kissed Clarke on the cheek, and put both hands on the hips in front of her. She pulled back and smiled a little. "Won't happen again. I am sorry, okay?"
"Yeah, okay." Clarke smiled back a little. She put her hands on Lexa's elbows, as the older woman held on to her. "And stop trying to make me fall for you."
"Clarke!" A man shouted from the street as he exited his car and made his way up the driveway.
"Shit." Clarke muttered as she let go of Lexa and moved back slightly. "What are you doing here Finn?"
"I came by to check on you, ya know since Bellamy is in Spain and all."
"Yeah, well I'm fine, the kids are fine and you can leave."
"Oh come on Clarke, don't be like that. Maybe we can go get a drink or something, catch up?"
"Uh, not thanks. I'd rather shoot myself with that nail gun. So again, you can leave." Lexa watched the interaction like a ping pong match. The man glared at first then his shoulders dropped and he relented.
"Fine." He turned and walked back down the driveway, got into his car and peeled out.
"What was that?"
"That was Finn. Bellamy's best friend."
"I don't like that." Lexa narrowed her eyes at the street. "I don't like that one bit."
"Yeah, me neither."
The sign over the front door read "Aden's 4th Birthday" and it was in full swing. There were ten or twelve kids under 6 that were running around in the sprinkler in the freshly landscaped yard.
"The house looks incredible, Clarke. Totally different than when you bought it." Abby complimented as she exited the sliding glass door. "It feels like a real home, not a haunted house."
"That's all Lexa's doing. The kitchen is the last thing, and the plans are amazing." Clarke explained as she was wrapped in a hug by her mother. She pointed to her friend who was talking with her father as she explained how Lexa had been helping in exchange for three times weekly dinners. How the kids love her, and how happy they have become over the last 8 months.
"What about you?" Abby asked, pulling back to look at her daughters face.
Clarke furrowed her brow. "What about me?"
"Are you happy?"
"Yeah, mom. I am happy. You know, I don't think I realized just how unhappy I was with him after the first year Bellamy and I were married."
"And this Lexa woman, you like her?"
"I do. Mom, I really do." Clarke sighed. "But I really just don't know if I am ready to put that kind of trust in someone again."
"I understand that honey, but I see the way you two look at each other. I think you might be safe with that one."
The family lake house vacation was just what Clarke needed after over a year of single parenting. Five days of family and her best friends and no responsibilities, because she knew the kids were looked after by everyone there. Between Aurora Blake and her parents, she was able to just relax and have fun. Returning to real life was not high on her long wish of desires, but she had too.
She pulled into the driveway, hopped out of the driver's seat and moved to the back of her SUV to get the kids out of their seats.
"Clarke. Hey!" Lexa shouted as she ran across the street. "Need some help?"
"Yeah, thanks Lex. Can you just grab the two bags from the back, please?"
"Sure." Lexa grabbed the bags and shut the hatch gently. She smiled fondly at Clarke as she watched the woman manage to balance the 2 sleeping children. "Look, I know you hate surprises, and I promised I would talk to you before I did anything big…."
"What did you do, Lexa?" Clarke turned and pinned her with a look as they reached the front door.
Lexa winced a little. "I kinda sorta did the kitchen while you were gone."
"The kitchen? The whole kitchen?" Lexa nodded as she pushed the door open. "Put those down and meet me in there." The mom chided.
Lexa did as she was told and leaned against the counter as she waited for Clarke. The minutes passed and she became more and more antsy, rapping her fingers against the new counter top.
Clarke gasped as she entered the room. "Lexa, this looks beautiful. Exactly what I imagined. This island is everything I have ever wanted." Lexa turned to watch her slowly walk around the kitchen, taking in all the details they had talked about. "How?"
"Well the cabinets came in on Wednesday and the counters you picked were finished being cut Thursday. So I just sorta took advantage of your vacation." Clarke hopped up onto the island counter and Lexa moved a little closer. "I know that we talked about big projects and all that but I did sort of want to surprise you."
"And it was a lot easier not having to worry about inconveniencing you and the kids, ya know with not being able to cook for them and such."
"Lex…shh... I missed you, you know." Clarke crooked her finger, calling the woman closer. Lexa complied, coming to a stop in front of the seated woman. Clarke reached out and grabbed her by the belt loops, pulling her in between her legs. Lexa's own hands went to the counter on either side of the blondes hips. "Thank you."
"I missed you guys too, and you're welcome." Lexa leaned in a little closer. "You're not mad?"
"No." Clarke shook her head. "I'm not mad." She pulled Lexa hips even closer and leaned up to kiss the full set of lips attached to the woman who has been taking care of her family for almost a year. Lexa was momentarily stunned but quickly reciprocated the kiss.
"Lex, can you pull the chicken out of the oven, please." Clarke yelled as she moved toward the front door where someone was knocking. Madi tottled along behind her, as she had become a more confident walker. Clarke swung the door open to find a smug face she had not thought of in quite some time. "Bellamy. What are you doing here?"
"I have had some time to think and I miss my family."
"Some time to think?" Clarke scoffed. "Fuck you Bellamy." She tried to slam the door, but he put his hand out to stop it.
"Come on Princess. Don't be like that. We were together for 8 years."
"Babe, I hope you don't expect me to know if this chicken is done, because we are all going to end up in the hospital if that's the case." Lexa scooped up Madi and joined Clarke at the door. "Who's this?"
Clarke and Bellamy responded respectively, at the same time. Lexa looked between the two and could see the fire in Clarke's eyes.
"And, I'm sorry, but did you call her babe?"
"Look Bellamy, my life is none of your business. Who I date is none of your business. I would like you to leave now."
Bellamy turned a slight shade of red. "I want to see my kids."
"Excuse me? What do you mean, no."
Clarke turned her head to Lexa and asked her to take the kids into the living room. After she nodded hesitantly and moved away she turned back to Bellamy. "You signed over custody. You said you wanted nothing to do with them, with me. You made that choice. Now you changed your mind?"
"Yeah. I did. Now let me see them."
Clarke scoffed again. "You can take that up with my lawyer."
"I fucking will." Bellamy managed to get out before the door actually slammed in his face.
[Clarke 6:12pm] can you come over asap, please?
[Octavia 6:13pm] everything okay?
[Clarke 6:13pm] your brother was just here.
[Octavia 6:15pm] omw.
"Baby, you okay?" Lexa asked tentatively from the threshold between the living room and the front door, where she was leaning on the framing, arms crossed.
Clarke shook her head and moved into Lexa's embrace. "I don't want him near the kids."
"I know, love." Lexa kissed the top of her head. "Me either."
"Octavia is on her way."
"He does not get to show up here and make demands." Clarke ranted as she paced the living room.
"Agreed." Octavia nodded.
"He can't just come back into our lives and say 'oh, I changed my mind.' That's not okay."
"Totally. You're one hundred percent correct."
"He wants his family back? After all the shit he pulled? He doesn't deserve it, O."
"No he does not."
Clarke sighed and dropped her shoulders. "So what do we do?"
Octavia patted the couch next to where she was seated and Clarke dropped herself onto the cushion. "If he is genuine, do you want to keep him from the kids?"
"Not really if he is actually genuine, but I don't know that he is, O."
"Me either. So let's make him prove it. He hasn't seen them in a year and a half. We offer 2 hour, supervised visitations. We stipulate that he has to be on time or they stop immediately and we go to court. That way he has to prove he is dedicated. How does that sound?"
Clarke sighed for what she felt was the hundredth time that night. "I don't know. Lex?" Both women looked to Lexa who was leaning against the wall, just like she was after Bellamy left.
"I can't make this decision for you babe. All I can say is that I want the kids happy and healthy. If he can add to their happiness, I am for it. If he uses this opportunity to fuck with them or you, I am against it."
Clarke nodded. "Okay. Let's do this O's way. If he is even one minute late, O, we take it to a judge."
"You got it."
"Supervised visitations? Are you fucking kidding me O?" Bellamy stood, throwing his chair backwards as he stood.
"Murphy, control your client." Octavia deadpanned, not intimidated by her brother's antics.
"Control your client? Really, O? You're my sister for God's sake."
Octavia slammed her hand on the desk as she stood. "Stop." She shouted as she rounded the desk. "Sit the fuck down." Bellamy, taken aback by her assertiveness, dropped down into his chair. "This is the only deal you're getting offered. You abandoned your family. Clarke, the kids. Me. You abandoned us all, Bellamy, and no one is just going to forgive you for that. So if you want a shot at earning the tiniest bit of anyone's trust, this is your one shot."
"So that's how it is? You're taking Clarke's side. Well, fuck you Octavia." Bellamy jumped up from his chair and stormed out of her office.
His lawyer, John Murphy, long time friend of the family, shook his head and sighed. "Allow me some time to talk it over with my client. We will be in touch."
"Yeah, sure Murphy. Whatever."
Clarke woke to a series of soft kisses up and down her neck and spine. She hummed contentedly as Lexa moved to pull her closer. The blonde glanced at her bedside clock which read 7:02 am. "What has you up and excited so early on a Saturday morning?"
"Can't it just be you?"
"It can, but it's not. When it's me, it's a late night not an early morning."
"Am I that predictable already?" Lexa smiled into the shoulder in front of her.
"Only a little."
"I am helping your dad with a surprise for your mom. And before you ask, no, you can't know. You are terrible at keeping secrets."
They stayed in silence for a few minutes. "It's been a few months since I built anything for you. What's next?"
"Building this family is enough work, don't you think?" She could feel like silently chuckle and simultaneously shrug.
"Pretty sure I renovated almost this whole house in a little under a year while making you and the kids love me."
"I guess that's true."
"How about an arbor over the patio?"
"An arbor." Clarke paused. "Don't arbors mean plants, and plants mean bugs?"
"We can do twinkle lights instead, there doesn't have to be plants."
"Okay Lex." Clarke turned over to face her lover. "Build your arbor."
Lexa leaned in and kissed her lips, before pulling back. "Tell me what's on your mind."
"It's just.... I don't know."
"Come on, Rembrandt, you know." Lexa smiled softly, while tucking a wild strand of blonde hair behind and ear.
"I… I've been the only parent while in a relationship and I know that you and Bellamy are not the same person. That's what he did though, he kept busy with work and ignored his responsibilities in the family. I don't want that life, that relationship, ever again."
"I know, Lex. I know you say that but..."
"No buts… never. I would never abandon you or the kids. I love them and I love you, and nothing will ever get in the way of that."
"Okay." Clarke looked away, toward the foot of the bed.
"Hey, look at me." Lexa lifted her chin gently so their eyes met. "I don't have to do projects. I won't touch a tool on the weekend if that's what you want from me. When I am here, I'm here. One hundred percent."
Clarke shook her head, this hadn't been the direction she aimed for. "No, no. Lex. No. It's just my insecurities coming to the surface. I don't want to change who you are, or what you love doing."
"Okay, then let's promise that if you are seeing a pattern of behavior you don't like from me, we talk about it. Deal?"
"I love you."
"I love you too. So much."
"So Lexa's dad is going to be the visitation supervisor?" Octavia sipped her wine. "Why him?"
"Well, the kids love Gus and he's a mountain of a man so Bellamy should toe the line with him."
"How are things going with you two and all of this?"
"Unsurprisingly, she is my rock. She makes me laugh when I need to laugh, she holds me when I need to cry. She gets up in the middle of the night with Madi or Aden so I can sleep." Clarke learns back in the patio chair to let the misters on the arbor rain down on her sun kissed skin. "She built the arbor just because. She helps my dad with stuff. Fuck, she helped your mom install a new front door after that rash of break ins in her neighborhood."
"Yeah, I need to thank her for that." Octavia stretched out in the chair, then watched as her niece and nephew played in the yard with a soccer ball. "They seem happy."
"You seem happy, too."
"I will kill Bellamy if he tries to ruin that."
Clarke eyed her best friend for a moment. "Something tells me you'll have to take a number on that one."
"Hey kiddo." Gustus greeted as he walked back into the Griffin home with Aden and Madi in tow.
"Hey Gus." Clarke greeted as she took the diaper bag from the large man. "How did it go?"
"Well." He sighed. "I do not like that man. How did you fall for him?"
"He wasn't always this angry, aggressive ball of entitlement." Clarke explained, running her hand through her hair. "He was never the most thoughtful, but his boyish charm compensated for that. Then he got the job with Pike and he just changed. I don't really know how long it took or how it happened but it did."
"Well I don't think that charm exists anymore." Gus gruffed out. "I am glad you and the kids have my daughter to treat you right. She is treating you right, yes?"
"Yes, Gus. Of course she is. I don't think she knows how not to." Clarke laughed.
"Okay then. Good. Give me a hug, I gotta go met Indra for dinner."
Clarke moved to hug the man and whispered a thank you. He nodded sharply and moved to the door. "If she ever steps out of line, you let me know and I'll take care of it, okay?"
"That'll never be necessary." Clarke laughed again and wiped the tear forming in her eye.
"Hey, Georgia O'Keefe, come out here." Lexa called from the back yard. Clarke set the groceries down, how Lexa always knew when she was home still baffled her. She walked out of the French style doors, that her girlfriend insisted on installing last month before doing the exterior paint, and into the backyard. There she found her daughter being pushed gently on a new swing that hung from the large oak in the backyard. "Kids wanted a swing." Lexa shrugged, and Clarke swooned just a little more.
"Are you just going to continue to build whatever the kids or I want, whenever we want it?" Clarke smirked as she walked over toward the tree.
"Sure." Lexa shrugged. "As long as you continue to love me."
The blonde threw her arms around the brunettes neck, crossing them at the wrist. "That I can do." She pulled her girlfriend in for a quick kiss. "It's our one year anniversary next week, what do you want to do?"
"Can't your parents or someone take him Clarke. It's my birthday and our anniversary. I want to have fun." Bellamy whined from the couch as Aden fussed in Clarke's arms.
"He's sick, Bell. We can't ask someone to watch our sick toddler because you want to get drunk."
"Well, I guess we'll just need to celebrate twice this year. I'll go out with Finn and Murphy for my birthday then we can go out when he feels better for our anniversary."
Clarke sighed. "Fine. Go. Whatever."
"Yes!" He fist pumped. "You're the best wife ever."
"I don't know. I was thinking we could take these two to the wild animal park, then maybe get some dinner. Nothing too crazy."
"Yeah? You don't want some alone time? Kid free?"
Lexa picked up Clarke and encouraged her to wrap her legs around her waist. She sat down on the now empty swing. "Oh we will have kid free alone time later. I put the new doorknob on the bedroom door. It locks now. I plan on making good use of that lock."
Clarke laughed as they swung lightly back and forth. She leaned forward and kissed her girlfriend again, then pulled back and stared into bright green eyes. "Marry me?"
"You sure you want to do that again?" Lexa joked, smiling at herself as Clarke rolled her eyes.
"Some things look different at 29 than they do at 20. I trust these eyes and this heart with you much more than I ever did then."
"Well when you put it like that, how could I ever say no?"
"Well, you could, but I don't want you too."
"Well that's good, because I don't want to either."
"Wait, so you asked her to marry you on a whim?" Octavia asked incredulously.
Clarke shrugged. "It was just a moment where I knew. Didn't you ever have that feeling with Lincoln? Where you just knew you wanted to marry him?"
"Yeah, I did, Clarke." Octavia set down her coffee cup and jumped up to sit on the counter. "But I kept it inside until he asked me, like a lady."
"O." Clarke shook her head in disbelief. "We're both ladies. By your logic we would never get married."
The lawyer held up her hand, then thought about that statement. "Well shit. I didn't even think of that. My bad. So when is the wedding?"
"Probably in the winter. That's when her work is the slowest."
"So, how do you think Bellamy is going to react?"
"I honestly don't care." Clarke paused as she picked up her coffee cup and took a sip. "He's only had three visits with the kids and Gus says he just texts the whole time."
"He asked me for a meeting with you. I told him to, very kindly of course, go fuck himself."
"It's okay, I'll do it. At your office though. I kind of want to find out where his head is at."
After a long pause, Octavia nodded. "Okay, yeah. I'll set it up."
Clarke waited patiently in the conference room of Octavia's firm. Bellamy was never one to be late on accident, so she chalked this up to him trying to assert some sort of power in a situation where he had none. Finally, she spotted him enter the lobby and be pointed over to the room she was in.
"Sorry I'm late." He flashed her a smile, one he meant to be charming. It fell flat.
"No, you're not."
"Come on Princess, don't be like that."
"Don't call me princess, and don't negate my feelings."
Bellamy shrugged as he dropped himself into the chair across from her. "Look, I am sorry, okay? I don't want to fight with you."
Clarke cocked an eyebrow at him. "Yeah? Well what is it you want then?"
"I told you months ago. I want my family back. You, the kids, for Octavia and my mom to speak to me. Everyone."
"That's just not going to happen. I've moved on Bell. You can keep seeing the kids as we have arranged, which is more than what you are entitled to, given the fact that you signed away your parental rights."
"You've moved on?"
"Bellamy I know that you know I have been dating Lexa for the past year. Please don't play dumb, its unbecoming."
"Well, yeah, you've been dating her. But I am your husband. The father of your children."
"Ex-husband. And I am grateful to you for your donation that helped bring them into this world, but I honestly want nothing to do with you."
"Clarke, come on. We were so good together."
Clarke scoffed. "We actually really weren't. Think about it, Bellamy. Really, truly think about the last time you were actually happy in our relationship."
Bellamy sat back and rubbed his hands over his face. "I need you Clarke."
"You really don't."
"I do. Do you even know how much my life spiraled out of control, do you?"
"No. And frankly it's none of my business or concern."
"Really? This is how you are gonna be?"
"Why don't you ask one of your little girlfriends to help you get your life back on track. I have my own shit. I have a gallery to run, kids to raise, a wedding to plan. I am too busy to be your mother too."
"You're marrying her?"
"I'm taking you to court." He seethed. "I want partial custody and spousal support."
"Spousal support?" She snorted. "Are you fucking kidding me? Bellamy, look I told you I didn't know how far your life had spiraled out, but I was lying." Clarke stood and leaned forward on the conference table and she spoke through her teeth. "You want to take me to court, fine let's go. I have no problem fighting with you. But I am going to tell the judge what a danger to the kids you are. Your cocaine addiction, how you spent nearly every dime you have on booze and drugs. The three DUI'S in Spain that led to you getting fired. The accusation from that model that you forced yourself on her while high out of your mind. Fuck with me and the kids, I dare you."
"No, you don't think I know why you all of a sudden want me back? You found out how much the gallery is worth. How much I am worth. So you want to fight over money and use my kids as pawns, let's fucking go. I am ready for you."
Bellamy threw his hands up, then got up and left the room. No more arguing. Octavia and John were standing by outside the room and as soon as the elevator door closed behind her brother, Octavia came into the room clapping, John behind her.
"Shit Clarke. Very nice."
"God I am so sick of arguing for that guy." John added to no one in particular.
"Hi Clarke. I hear congratulations are in order. When is the wedding?"
Clarke smiled and leaned on her fist on the table. "We don't have a date yet. You and Emori should bring Noah over. We'll catch up."
"Yeah, that sounds nice. Out of curiosity, how did you find out about all that stuff?"
Octavia laughed. "He went crying to mommy. Obviously she, like everyone else, likes Clarke more right now."
"Hey." Clarke exits the backdoor out onto the patio to see her fiancee working on the shed she insisted they needed. "That looks like a pretty fancy shed. Are you dry walling it?"
Lexa shrugs. "Well, I decided to take it a different direction."
"And what direction is that?" Clarke raised a brow. "Also, where are the kids?"
Aden popped his head out from the shed. "We're helping, Mommy. No peeking, it's a surprise!"
"You heard the boy, it's a surprise." Lexa chuckled.
"Well, can you three reach a stopping point? It's almost dinner time."
Lexa put the tools she had scattered around the new shed inside as the kids made their way into the house. Clarke waited in the patio, until the brunette was done.
"Hi." The shorter women leaned up and pecked a kiss to the contractor's lips. "You know I hate surprises."
"I decided you need a more suitable space to work in. So it's a mini studio."
"A mini studio? I love you."
"I know. So how'd it go? Just an overall, we can talk about the details when they go to bed."
Clarke shrugged. "Fine. I had to lay it all out for him. I don't think he is going to be a problem any more."
Lexa nodded then kissed her right temple. "So what's for dinner?"
"Spaghetti." Clarke smiled, knowing everything would be okay.