For her people, the skies have always been a source of contention. Once upon a time, long before Lexa had been born, the First Grounders would grow angry with those who looked up to the sky. Never look where traitors lie, they used to spit, before cleaving heads with their makeshift war axes. At least, that is what the elders claim happened, though sometimes Lexa does not believe them, for they are the ones she catches gazing up at the stars the most often.
For Lexa herself, the skies are a curiosity. When Costia was still alive, her favorite pastime was to sneak out to a clearing in the forest, to curl up naked together on a thin blanket with limbs tangled and to hold one another close while they gazed up at stars winking across the sky, pressing smiles along one another’s flushed skin between making the other laugh with absurd claims that they could see Sky people walking across the surface of the moon. That was back when Anya was alive and Lexa was still in training. That was before she became the Commander, and from then on the only privacy she and Costia could get was in their tents.
Pain threatens to create a lump that will obscure her throat, so Lexa closes her eyes and pushes it out of her mind. Costia has been gone for over a year. Love is weakness, she reminds herself. She does not need it. There are more pressing matters at hand, such as the everlasting tyranny of the wretched Mountain Men. Too many of her people have been lost to them. Too many of her people are still lost inside the mountain. It is her birthright, her duty to save them, to defeat the enemy that threatens them all. Blood must have blood. She knows that.
So why is that not at the forefront of her mind?
Standing flanked by four guards, Lexa lingers before her tent, waiting. She is no longer sure what she exactly she is waiting for. A miracle, perhaps. For a stranger to succeed in something so many have failed at before him; the one man in whom Clarke Griffin has put all her faith to save them all. Lexa’s eyes shift up to glance at the blonde Sky leader who sits before another fire across the encampment. That is what has been at the forefront of her mind. Or rather, who is.
It’s infuriating, it’s despondent, but like it or not, Lexa cannot lie to herself—Clarke Griffin consumes her every waking thought. Lexa can’t pinpoint the exact moment it began. It could have been when Clarke begged for mercy for the murderer she was in love with, and then took a knife to him in the same breath. Perhaps it was when she stared so defiantly back at Lexa before she lifted a bottle that very well could have been poison to her lips and drank from it. It may have been when the two of them faced Monaw, when Clarke defied Lexa’s every expectation by saving her life, or it could have merely been the first time Clarke approached her and Lexa found herself unable to avert her gaze from a captivatingly beautiful face—either way, the Commander knows that she needs to be concentrating on the war that threatens her people, not the unpredictable, mysterious, intriguing Sky woman. It’s dangerous. Lexa knows that.
And yet she can’t get her out of her fucking head.
That is maddening.
Clarke glances at her twice.
Lexa knows she shouldn’t be counting, or even thinking about that.
This is no time to smile. This is the middle of a war. Two hundred and fifty of her people had died two days ago. The Mountain Men could attack at any moment. She and her warriors are waiting on a sign, a signal that tells them to push onwards. It is no time to be happy over such trivial, childish things.
Still. Lexa can’t help the small smile that tugs at the corners of her lips when she watches through the flickering flames as Clarke’s eyes dart across the camp to meet hers.
* * *
Octavia knows. How many more will now, before the sun breaks the horizon?
Secrets are dangerous. Lexa’s people do not suffer chance. They take fate into their own hands and secure their own safety, regardless of the cost.
It is more than a shame; Octavia has been taken under Indra’s wing—Indra will be angry, but she will understand. This is war. Lexa can trust Indra. She cannot trust the Sky warrior, even if there is Clarke Griffin assuring Lexa she can be trusted. Lexa wants to believe her, but this isn’t a time to take those kinds of chances, and as much as it aches her heart—because lately, any time Clarke had to suffer pain, it hurt Lexa’s heart—there is nothing else to do.
Clarke will not be happy, but some things have to be done. This is war, after all.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
Those are among the many expletives and thoughts running through Lexa’s mind. She is bent over double, propped up on her arms on the drawing table. The table that, moments ago, Clarke had backed her up against.
Most Grounders would be surprised at Clarke’s tenacity, at the way this young Sky girl can stand so tall, shoulders back, her fierce gaze burning. Not Lexa. Lexa has been watching Clarke closely since the moment they met—before that, even. This Sky leader’s soft face, gentle smile and fine blonde hair were misleading. Clarke is not soft, not weak. She is fierce, a leader, a warrior at heart, a protector of her people. No, Lexa is not surprised at the fact that Clarke Griffin dares to invade her personal space, dares to advance on her while harshly reminding her off all the things she made such an effort to deny to herself, even. The only thing about it all that surprises Lexa is her reaction to it.
Lexa has known she is attracted to Clarke. One would have to be a fool not to be—she was beautiful, passionate, with a strong heart and a fierce soul. She had already proved herself to be an admirable leader, and in the face of potential death, did not even seem afraid. Of course Lexa is attracted to her. But she hadn’t known she is this attracted.
It has been harder, as of late, to stop herself from…noticing. She often finds herself startled, quickly averting her gaze upon realizing she has been staring at the Sky Leader for just a little too long, with just a little too much intensity. Had Clarke been any other person, Lexa may have left her there in that village to burn. It would have been easier, after all. Far easier for a secret to be kept if it was only kept by a single person. But the mere thought of knowing that Clarke was going to die—Lexa couldn’t. So she took her with her. She saved them both.
It had already been a difficult day. Lexa is tired, her arm still ached from the wound inflicted during her escape from Monaw, and it is these times more than any that she craves peace. She can never admit it to anyone, because the Commander is supposed to be ruthless, unfeeling and strong. Yet inside, Lexa is disappointing herself. Because more than anything, she wants the quiet. She wants no wars, no more of her people dying. A quiet dinner around a fire, and Clarke. She wants Clarke. Damn her for it, but she wants Clarke, and she wants her slowly, tenderly, even if sometimes her stomach goes tight and her eyes glaze as thoughts of throwing her down on the cot and taking her roughly from behind explode in her mind. She wants her, but the most conflicting aspect of it is, she wants more than just her body.
So when Clarke Griffin dares to call her out, dares to walk into her space, dares to challenge Lexa, Lexa is distracted. She should stand strong, she should frighten Clarke. Lexa shouldn’t let Clarke get her so…unbalanced. Yet her fear and desire overcome her, and she backs away from Clarke, desperate to put space between them, aware that Clarke surely must not feel the same way, that it is only Lexa who is haunted by such inappropriate thoughts, that it’s only Lexa who feels as though the temperature in the tent has risen thirty degrees, only Lexa who wants nothing more than to silence Clarke with her lips on hers.
Clarke advances and Lexa has no choice but to back up until the table is blocking her escape, and she barely contains the whimper at the mere thought of she, Clarke, and that table in another situation—but then Clarke is right there, voicing aloud Lexa’s worst thoughts and there is nowhere for Lexa to run, nowhere to hide, and then suddenly the truth is spilling from her lips before she can stop it.
She can see the comprehension form in Clarke’s eyes, can see her connect the dots. If Lexa weren’t so terrified, she would be relieved. The truth was finally out.
But before Clarke leaves, Lexa notices. She is always watching Clarke, so she notices things.
Lexa notices Clarke’s eyes dart down to lips, momentarily. She notices the slightest crease between her brows, the heated curiosity that flashes, just briefly, across her eyes.
Maybe Lexa is not as alone in her feelings as she thought.
“Maybe life should be about more than just surviving….don’t we deserve better than that?”
“Maybe we do.”
She doesn’t mean to. It just happens.
At least, that’s what Lexa tells herself, as she traces her digits through the soft curls at the back of Clarke’s neck, as she presses her lips softly, tenderly, against Clarke’s. Her heart is pounding, her breath uneven, her mouth dry and her head spinning, but she clutches onto sanity as she tips her mouth against Clarke’s. This may be her only chance. She has to do it right. She is not a weak, inexperienced, fumbling adolescence. As much as she wants to stagger into Clarke, to wrap her arms around her and kiss her as hard as the insistent tightening of her stomach and heat pooling between her legs urges her to do, she resists. She keeps the pace so slow, so gentle. Plump lips envelop first Clark’s bottom lip, then her upper. Her tongue seems extra sensitive, eager, perhaps, to taste, but she sustains the softness.
She swears birds sing when Clarke parts her lips and kisses her back.
Inexplicably, Lexa thinks of stars, of spectrum of bright balls of pointed light, shining in a stark contrast against an otherwise bleak, dark sky. Then again, Clark is from the Sky. It makes sense that, when kissing her, Lexa would think of it.
She has always thought of the sky. Lately, it seems like it is all she thinks about.
“I’m sorry. I…I’m not ready…to be with anyone.”
Lexa’s heart thuds, echoing painfully inside her. Her stomach drops.
Just like that, her heart restarts, thrumming so rapidly she is surprised she doesn’t create sparks.
Her insides are squirming in glee, but she forces herself to remain calm, to hold her breath. She blinks slowly, nods, and manages to catch a hold of her lips before they stretch into an ear-to-ear grin.
The horn sounds, shouts ring through the air, and suddenly the world returns to what it formerly was: something that didn’t feel quite right.
Lexa loses count of how many Mountain Men and Reapers she runs her swords through. When Gustus was alive, they used to keep track and make a game out of it, a friendly competition. It has become habit for her. But during this battle, she isn’t concentrating on her number. She’s concentrating on killing whoever stands between she and Clarke; Clarke, who rather than fight, is running and dropping to her knees every few minutes to tend to the Sky People and Grounders who are wounded. Both Lexa and Clarke and moving quickly up the hill, growing closer and closer to the huge gate that her people were already clustering at, lifting a huge log and preparing to rush at it. A Reaper lunges, spitting and snarling, at Clarke, and Lexa’s blade dismembers him before Clarke can so much as pull back her sword.
“Move faster,” orders Lexa, and wants to kick herself at the irony because as she says it, her gaze locks onto Clarke’s, and she finds herself frozen.
“Lexa, behind you!”
She lunges to the side, barely evading the war hammer that slams into the ground where, milliseconds before, she had stood on. She spins and thrusts an arm out, clipping the Reaper on the back of his right leg. He roars and staggers in agony as blood sprays out from the sliced artery, and his roars are abruptly gagged when Clarke fires a shot that lands between his eyes.
They look at each other again; in the chaos around them, Lexa swears time stands still, and her heart trembles. Then they both nod, turn away from one another, and Lexa throws herself into the war.
They win, but somehow it doesn’t feel like a victory.
The leader of the Mountain Men’s body lies limp and blood-soaked somewhere in one of the many tunnels of the mountain, and his head rests a few feet away. His son, who was apparently the real leader behind the killings and torture, lie dead beneath a heap of soldiers, many of whom had turned on him in the final seconds of his life. Most of Lexa’s people who had been trapped inside were able to find weapons and defend themselves, as were many of the Sky people who had been trapped inside, but several were still lost in the battle.
The children of the Mountain were saved, mostly because Clarke had stepped between them and the particularly revenge-hungry Grounders, but with the radiation that had entered through the broken gates, they don’t know how much longer they will last.
When dusk approaches and they have almost completed the ritual burning of the dead, Lexa searches for Clarke. She doesn’t know what will happen when she finds her, but she does know that the last time she saw her was when she was reuniting with her lost friends, and that had been hours ago, which is far too long for Lexa’s liking.
In the end, she finds her back in the encampment, embracing Bellamy Blake and another boy whom Lexa assumed must be one of the lost Sky People. Clarke’s smile was broad while she clutched Bellamy, and while Lexa did not discern any particular amorous expression on her face, she still felt her heart sink. What was she hoping for, anyway? It would never work out between them. It isn’t as if she and Clark could have had a relationship. She was Commander Lexa of the Ground People, and Clarke was the leader of the Sky People. It would be foolish to pretend they were anything otherwise.
Lexa turns away before she can catch Clarke’s eyes, and she busies herself with helping Indra and Octavia carry Reaper bodies to the pyers.
Smoke blankets the sky in thick plumes, and the pungent smell of burning corpses permeates the air, but the encampment is ringing with the sound of deafening cheers. Twenty hours ago, there were anxious, pale faces everywhere Lexa looked. Twelve hours ago, there were red, sweaty faces contorted with ferocious determination. Now there are only broad grins and laughing faces, giddy and high with the elation of victory. Lexa finds herself affected by the contagion and, smiling, helps herself to the Sky drink that Kane of the Ark offered to her.
Across the encampment and surrounded by her reunited friends, Clarke looks up at the same time Lexa glances across, and Lexa’s smile widens when Clarke grins openly at her. Clarke lifts her own bottle of drink she clutched in her hand in a silent toast and, all the way across the way and on the other side of the huge fire, Lexa does the same, and then joins in with the cheers and victory cries that both Grounders and Sky People are screaming to the Heavens above.
Now it feels like a victory.
At one point later in the night, when Lexa is settled comfortably on the ground across from the huge fire and reclining back against a tree stump, Clarke appears and sits down beside her. Since Lexa’s glass of drink had long since been emptied, Clark hands Lexa her bottle. Lexa takes a long swig out of it before handing it back, and the two of them share the rest of it while discussing what victory means for each of their people, and they drink until only a few drops remain at the bottom and they are both giggling uncontrollably, clumsily (and deliberately) brushing their hands across one another as they point at the star constellations.
Lexa wonders if Clarke has thought of their kiss in the near day that has passed since then, and when Clarke turns and catches her staring at her, and Lexa sees Clarke’s eyes not-so-subtly flash down to Lexa’s lips, she thinks that she does.
The encampment is still rife with raucous laughter and booming cheers when Clarke stands, offers Lexa a hand, and they walk toward Lexa’s tent.
She tastes like the earth. That’s Lexa’s first thought, when Clarke shoves her back against the table and their mouths clash together so hard it hurts. At first Lexa thinks maybe it’s the Sky drink they’ve been sliding down their throats for hours on end, but for some reason a less intoxicated voice in her head is telling that it isn’t the alcohol. She thinks it might just be the way Clarke tastes. It’s a surprise, but she doesn’t know what she was expecting. Something foreign, perhaps. There’s a familiarity to the way Clarke’s lips move that make her heart ache and her body flush with want—there is something about this Sky leader that Lexa’s soul is painfully aware of, something that she can’t quite make sense of, at least not while her head is so dizzy and her heart is thrumming in her chest.
The only thing Lexa can dimly comprehend is the fact that that Clarke Griffin of the Sky People has The Commander of the Wood Clan Grounders alone in her own tent, pressed up against the table inside with her hands deliberately tracing the contours of her body, her kiss tasting of something heady and rich like the earth and sending stars spiking through Lexa’s dazed mind, bursting behind her eyelids. Stars and earth, thinks Lexa faintly, a moan catching in her throat when those slow-moving hands find purchase in her hair. Of course Clarke is made of stars and earth.
Clarke makes a petulant whine that surprises her as much as it surprises Lexa, when Lexa scrapes her teeth along Clarke’s bottom lip before sweeping her tongue across to soothe it. There is something there—something in the way Clarke’s hands trail gently along Lexa’s shoulders and collar bone, something in the way Lexa’s moan gets caught in her throat, shifting into a soft whimper. Perhaps they both expected something different. Fire and ice, possibly—a violent give and take that led to both of them erupting in haggard, panting, furious bliss. Even despite their first kiss, the tenderness of it, they still didn’t expect it to continue to be this tender the next time, especially considering they were both drunk. But it isn’t frantic and lust-driven. It’s practically…devoted.
Still, despite the slow and steady burn of their kisses, Clarke’s hands make quick and efficient work of the many straps and buckles of Lexa’s clothing. A healer’s hands, Lexa remembered, her heart thumping with excitement and her head clearer than it should be with all the alcohol in her system.
Soon enough, both of their clothes lie in a crumpled heap on the floor, and Lexa is shuddering under the sensation of Clarke’s fingertips gliding along her rib cage, leaving gooseflesh in their wake. Most of Clarke’s neck and face is coated in blood, but her hands are clean from washing them before helping to tend to the wounded earlier, and the parts of her body that had been hidden beneath her clothing are pure and unblemished. Lexa now rakes her gaze along Clarke openly, steadily, no longer concerned with the reality of what they are doing. After all, what’s wrong with it? The war is won. This is a celebration. The peace talks, the promises of retribution for the battles of the past—that is all something that can be dealt with tomorrow. For now, the night is theirs.
Lexa reaches toward Clarke, watches her expression as she lifts a hand to the apex between Clarke’s thighs. Clarke’s head falls back and her breath escapes her open mouth in harsh spurts, her legs widening their stance automatically, encouraging Lexa to slip a finger into wet folds.
Her gaze firm on Clarke’s closed eyes, Lexa asks, “Are you sure?”
Not yet. Lexa remembers. Yes, Clarke was the one to instigate this—but she wants to be certain.
Clarke’s lashes flutter as she opens her eyes, her fingers digging into Lexa’s shoulders as her hips cant into Lexa’s hand. “Yes,” she says simply, and the word is so full of conviction and certainty that Lexa does not wait a moment longer. She automatically turns, her free hand on Clarke’s waist to guide her up onto the table. Then two fingers slip deeply into liquid heat, and Lexa pauses just a moment, giving herself time to adjust to the sensation as much as Clarke, because Lexa may fight battles and kill men without a blink of an eye, but conquering a woman’s body was something she considers to be more of a proudly accomplished feat, and besides, this is Clarke Griffin and Lexa wants to savor this moment.
Muscles clench around Lexa’s fingers, and her stomach tightens even more when she hears the moan ripping out of Clarke’s throat as she starts to pump her arm. Her own breath hitches when Clarke reaches around in a vain attempt to touch her, but she can’t reach, and after a moment of Lexa pounding into her, the table scraping along the rocks embedded in the floor of the tent, Clarke’s moans growing louder (too loud, really, but Lexa doesn’t care), Clarke’s hand drops hard to slap onto the surface of the table, fingers curling around the edges to grip and scrape nails along the wood.
Those muscles clench more tightly around Lexa’s fingers, pulsating, and Clarke’s hips continue rutting up, and Clarke is panting and Lexa is biting her bottom lip so hard it draws blood because she thinks she may not have too long to wait herself, and when she shifts a thumb to trip tight circles around the swollen bit of flesh above where her fingers are buried, Clarke’s body shudders, she stops breathing, her chest rises as her back bows and wetness is flooding over Lexa’s hand, and Lexa swears this version of the sky is the most beautiful she has seen yet.
Later, much later when Lexa is feeling drowsy and sated and, ironically, sorer than she had been after the war itself, she feels Clarke drop an arm around her stomach. Still breathing hard after the latest earth-shaking orgasm, she turns her head loftily to see Clarke blinking bleary eyes at her, the ghost of a smile curving her lips.
Clarke doesn’t finish her sentence, but she doesn’t need to. Lexa echoes her smile and closes her eyes as she nods slowly.
“Hey…” Clarke’s voices slurs slightly, but her eyes are clear as she holds Lexa’s gaze, the smile on her face widening, turning almost mischievous. “I just thought of something.”
Lexa raises her brows to indicate she is patiently waiting. She’s amused at how Clarke suddenly seems so playful. Clarke pulls her arm back to place a hot palm against Lexa’s sweaty stomach; Lexa’s muscles twitch beneath her touch as she uses a digit to trace random swirling patterns along Lexa’s shining skin.
“Now I know why they call you the Commander.” There’s just enough time for Lexa to tilt her head in confusion, before Clark adds, “Come-mander. Get it?”
Lexa’s eyes widen and Clarke laughs. Outside, the sounds of cheering and general festivities are starting to fade; the celebrations are coming to an end, and everyone is either returning to their tents or surrendering to sleep wherever they rest. Clarke’s laughter seems louder because of it, and it fills the tent and fills Lexa’s ears, making her smile despite the crude joke.
“I’m glad your people can fight better than they can make jokes,” she teases, and Clarke lightly pinches her hip.
“You love it,” murmurs Clarke, yawning as she inclines her head to lie on Lexa’s chest.
Lexa’s arm snakes around Clarke’s shoulders almost of its own accord. For a moment, Lexa is overcome with the urge to cry—her eyes suddenly sting, and a lump obscures her throat. It’s been so long since she allowed herself this kind of human contact and, if judging anything by the way Clarke is curled up to her, the same can be said for her.
Maybe they do deserve more than just surviving.
Lexa catches a glimpse of the starry night sky through gaps in the top of the tent before she closes her eyes, brushes a soft kiss across the top of Clarke’s head. Tomorrow is a time for worrying what the skies may bring. Tonight, they simply breathe in the earth around them.