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Anytime I Want

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Rain fell as two young girls sprinted across the beach together. The first, just several steps of ahead of the second, wore her brown curly hair in two french braids that ended just above her shoulders. Her vision was blurred, rain fogging up her glasses, but she was undeterred.

“Come on, Clarke!” she yelled back to her friend as she hopped over a log and looked back over her shoulder.

Clarke, wavy blonde hair matted to her face, too short to pull back with a hair tie, fumbled her way through the sand to follow her friend. The brunette slowed down to allow for the blonde’s shorter legs to catch up with her.

The brunette reached out for Clarke’s hand and the exact moment lightning struck barely feet away from them. Both girls screamed and Clarke leapt into Lexa’s embrace.

“We needa get outta here Lex!” Clarke yelled over the storm.

Lexa simply shook her head in response. “Don’tchya know?” she asked. “Lightning never strikes the same place twice. Besides, come ‘ere.”

Lexa grabbed Clarke’s hand and led her the few feet to the site of where the lightning had struck. The sand there was still smoking so Lexa held Clarke back with a hand as the younger girl looked down. “What is it?” Clarke asked.

“Once it cools, we’ll dig it up and I’ll show ya,” Lexa smiled.

“Ya know, you never answered my question from earlier, Lexa,” Clarke crossed her arms across her chest. “You said you wanna marry me, but that’s silly. We’re both girls. Why’d ya wanna marry me for anyhow?”

“Well before they died, my Momma and Daddy always told me that they got married ‘cuz they wanted to marry their best friend. And you’re my best friend,” Lexa answered matter-of-factly.

“That the only reason why you wanna marry me?” Clarke taunted.

“Well that, and so I can kiss ya anytime I want,” Lexa smiled, causing the smirk to fall from the younger girl’s face.

The two young girls leaned in at the same time and their lips touched tentatively. Lightning struck behind them.

 


 

Clarke was startled out of her dream and it took her a moment to register her surroundings. She’d been lying her head down on a table surrounded by sketches and swatches of fabric.

“So ‘why’d he wanna marry you anyhow’?” came a voice from across the room, speaking in a drawn out faux-southern accent. Clarke wiped her eyes and looked across the room at her friend Raven in confusion. Raven then began to speak again, this time in her normal New England accent, “You know, Clarke, your accent gets a whole lot thicker when you’re dreaming.”

Clarke rolled her eyes at Raven and shuffled the papers around her. “Why did you let me fall asleep?” the blonde asked.

“You needed it,” Raven responded. “You kicked that show out of the park this morning and the first thing you did after interviews was get back to work? Don’t you have somewhere to be tonight?”

“Yeah,” Clarke sighed. “The Mayor is holding a gala tonight.”

“And by the mayor, you mean your future mother-in-law, right?” Raven waggled her eyebrows at the girl.

“Finn hasn’t proposed yet, so don’t get too excited,” Clarke laughed as she gathered up everything in front of her and placed it in her bag. She checked the time on her watch and cursed under her breath. “I was supposed to have gone home over an hour ago to get ready.”

“Why don’t you just wear one of your own pieces,” Raven suggested. Clarke checked the time again, realizing that she really didn’t have time to go home.

“Okay, yeah. I’ll just do that.” She quickly stood up and headed over to the racks of clothing. Her clothing. Clothing she had put hours into designing. Clothing that was finally putting her on the map. She was going to be someone. Even Vogue had said so.

She sent a quick text to Finn, letting him know that she would be leaving from the studio instead of her apartment before she got ready with Raven’s help. Raven had been the first friend she’d made in New York City when she’d moved there five years earlier and the girl had quickly become the best assistant and friend she could ever ask for.

Once she was dressed appropriately for the event, one that would be attended by the most prominent of New Yorkers as well as the press, Clarke walked out onto the sidewalk, ready to try and flag a cab. Julia Collins, mayor of New York City, was hosting the gala and with her current bid for senate, Clarke knew that the press would be all over Julia’s son, Finn, and by connection, her as well. She was planning on taking a cab to Finn’s, where they would then get a car together.

Once she stepped out into the warm early summer air though, Clarke was surprised to find a limo waiting for her.

“Miss. Blake, Mr. Collins sent me to come pick you up,” the driver announced his presence. Clarke didn’t even delay for a moment when the driver called her Miss Blake. The name had been hers for five years and there were times when she forgot that it hadn’t always been her name.

“Thank you,” Clarke grinned at him as he held open the door for her. She slid in and waited for the drive to begin. They wound their way through the city until they stopped outside the back of a building.

“Mr. Collins is waiting for you inside,” the drive stated as he opened the back door for Clarke.

The blonde thanked the driver and walked in through the back door of the building. She wandered down a lowly lit hallway, searching for her boyfriend.

“Finn?” she asked out loud.

Moments later a man with floppy dark hair wearing an expensive-looking tailored suit appeared from around a corner, smiling. “Hey there, Princess,” he grinned.

Clarke loved Finn, she really did, but sometimes the nickname Princess rubbed her the wrong way. Finn had called her that upon their first meeting at a fundraiser, assuming she’d come from wealth the way he had. She hadn’t corrected him. Because according to all the biographies, Clarke Blake had been raised on a plantation farm in Alabama. A real southern belle who never wanted for anything.

The problem was, Clarke Blake didn’t really exist.

“Hey, babe,” Clarke grinned as he placed a kiss on her lips. “Where are we, anyway?”

Instead of answering her question, however, Finn took Clarke’s hands and led her through another door. The room was just barely lit and Clarke wasn’t sure where she was, but she was more focused on the man in front of her.

“Clarke Blake,” Finn began as he lowered himself down on to one knee and the lights rose, revealing their surroundings.

Clarke quickly spun her head around, taking in the aisles of glass counters filled with jewelry and the attendants standing behind them. She saw the telling Tiffany blue boxes and she knew where she was.

“Will you marry me?” Finn asked simply.

Clarke looked at him in shock. She dropped her jaw and began to speak quickly, “Are you sure? Are you really sure? Because if you’re not, that’s totally fine. I’m sure the car is still here and we can head back there and go to the gala right now. It hasn’t even been a year yet, Finn.”

Finn quickly stood up off the ground, holding tightly to Clarke’s hands and reassured her in a calming voice. “I love you Clarke Blake, and if I wasn’t sure, trust me, I wouldn’t be doing this. I usually don’t ask a question that I already know the answer to, so with the risk of being rejected twice, Clarke, will you marry me?”

Clarke looked into the honest face of the man she loved and saw nothing but adoration there. She forgot all the complications and everything she knew that would eventually have to be dealt with and focused on just him. She brought a hand up to his face and nodded, “Yes,” with a smile.

She squealed and wrapped her arms around Finn’s neck and he picked her up off the ground and spun her around. She placed her back down and gestured to the store around them. “Pick one,” he spoke with a smile.

An hour later, Clarke and Finn were making out in the back of the limo on their way to the gala while Clarke continued to sneak looks at the gorgeous, incredibly expensive ring resting on her finger.

“We’ll be seeing my mom tonight, but we should call your parents now,” Finn suggested.

At the mention of her family, Clarke immediately seized up. “No!” she grabbed his phone away from him. “I mean, I want to tell them in person. Why don’t we keep this quiet, just until I tell them?”

“Of course,” Finn nodded with a smile as he kissed her forehead. He took her hand in his and turned her ring around so that only the band was showing.

As soon as the limo came to a stop and their door was opened, Finn exited and guided Clarke out behind him. Immediately cameras started flashing and the couple smiled enthusiastically as they made their way towards the event space.

Before they made it to the doors, they reached a woman surrounded by cameras - Julia Collins.

“Mother!” Finn greeted the woman with a warm hug which Julia returned.

Julia turned to Clarke next with a calculated smile that Clarke knew was one that all politicians had perfected. “Clarke, I see you and Finn are still together.”

“Yes mother, we are,” Finn laughed and Clarke knew that his smile was equally as fake as his mother’s. He was trying not to let the woman’s statement bother him.

“It’s great to see you, Mayor Collins,” Clarke smiled, trying to look as genuine as possible as she extended her arm and kissed Julia’s cheek.

Julia grasped Clarke’s hand, but when she didn’t let go immediately, Clarke watched as the blood drained from her face. She felt where Julia was gripping and knew she’d been found out.

“Finn, darling, why does Clarke have a ring on this very specific finger?” Julia asked through gritted teeth and a fake smile. She flipped the ring around to reveal the large stone and gasped. Cameras caught the moment on camera.

The next morning, the photo was all over the New York Times and other press outlets. All bore similar headlines:

Mayor’s Son Engaged!

New York’s Most Eligible Bachelor Is Officially Off The Market

Finn Collins Engaged to Up and Coming Designer Clarke Blake

 


 

While Julia’s press office dealt with the ramifications of the announcement and she observed the sudden upswing in her polls thanks to the reminder that she was a mother as well as a politician, Clarke hopped on the first flight out of JFK the next morning for Alabama.

When she arrived at the airport, Clarke rented a sports car and drove the two hour drive to the small town of Polis, Alabama.

She cringed as she drove through the small town where every single store and office of operations stood side by side on a single street. She drove past the town and out onto the dirt road that led her up by the lake.

When she reached the familiar run down house, she pulled into the driveway and parked the car. She looked down at the ring on her hand, marveling at it. It was a three stone Asscher-cut diamond ring. It was beautiful. It was her perfect ring, one that growing up she could only have dreamed about. When she looked at the ring though, she couldn’t help but be reminded of another ring. One that had only a small diamond on it, so small that the band itself was nearly wider than the stone.

Clarke shook her head, trying to forget the other ring. She carefully slid Finn’s gift off her finger and placed it in the glove compartment of the car. She then exited the car, holding in her hands the files she’d travelled all the way from New York with.

Clarke hadn’t even made it all the way to the steps of the porch when the screen door swung open and a woman exited. She wore ripped up jeans and a wife beater. Her curly brown hair was up in a ponytail and her arms and face were streaked with grease from the car part she was holding.

The blonde rolled her eyes at the mess of a women, knowing that she herself was exquisitely dressed in a designer dress and heels that were starting to get stuck in the dirt she stepped in.

“What can I do you for, Miss?” the brunette asked as soon as she exited the house.

“Well, Lexa,” Clarke began, her annoyance evident in her voice. She lifted up her Tom Ford sunglasses, placed a hand on her hips and stared at the women. She lifted up the papers she was holding. “For starters, you can get your ass down here and get me a divorce.”

Lexa’s jaw dropped at the same moment the car part fell out of her hand and onto the porch.

 


 

 

Lexa Woods could not remember the first time she saw Clarke Griffin. There was no way for her to remember the day. After all, she was still in diapers. Lexa Woods could not remember the first time she saw Clarke Woods. She knew the day, but she was too drunk the day of their wedding to remember the exact moment she said, “I Do.”

There was one thing for certain though. Lexa Woods would always remember the first time she saw Clarke Blake. She was skinnier and more toned than ever before, wearing clothes that looked like they came straight off a runway, heels that made her cringe to think about the pain they caused, and an annoyed expression while she demanded a divorce.

The car part she’d been holding fell out of Lexa’s hand and landed with a loud thud on the porch. The last thing Lexa had expected to happen when she woke up that morning was the arrival of her high school sweetheart, the girl she married when she was nineteen and Clarke was eighteen.

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Lexa gasped with a half laugh after she finally realized who it was that was standing in her driveway. “Clarke Griffin, as I live and breathe. Hello to you too. I was expecting a ‘Honey I’m Home,’ but I guess you lost your southern charm the day you left this town for wherever it is you’ve been for five years.” She ignored the part on the ground and crossed her arms across her chest and leaned against the side of the house.

“I didn’t lose anything when I left this god forsaken town,” Clarke scoffed. “But I did gain my dignity the moment I landed in New York.”

“So that’s what you hoity-toity Yankee bitches are calling a crass attitude and that look of utter constipation?”

“At least I’m not covered in grease and looking like a…like a…” Clarke raised her hand and gestured to Lexa.

“Like a what?” Lexa asked.

“Like such a goddamn lesbian,” Clarke spat, as if the word was a disgusting poison. The tinge of hurt Lexa felt at the remark was well hidden behind an impassive face.

“Well, we both know that I am a lesbian, so I really don’t see what the problem is there,” Lexa scoffed, throwing off the taunt with laughter. “You’d think my wife woulda known that though.”

“I’m not your wife, Lex,” Clarke sighed. “I’m just the first girl who climbed in the back of your truck. I’ve changed, though. I don’t even know that girl anymore.”

“Neither do I,” Lexa stared wide-eyed at the blonde. She could barely recognize the woman her once best friend had turned into.

“Look, Lexa,” Clarke took several steps closer to the porch and Lexa noticed the way her heels stuck into the ground, making it hard for the blonde to walk properly. “I’ve been sending you these papers for years, but I guess you didn’t quite get the hint. So here they are. They even have idiot proof tabs to show you where to sign.”

“Do your parents even know you’re here?” Lexa asked, realizing that if Clarke had gone to see Jake and Abby, that she probably would have heard about it. And therefore heard that Clarke was in town in the first place.

“Can you just sign the damn papers so I can get back to New York?” Clarke spoke, exasperated, as she held out the papers to Lexa.

With her suspicions confirmed, Lexa shook her head. “Come back after you’ve seen Jake and Abby, then I’ll think about it.” She turned around and left Clarke behind her. Lexa kicked the screen door open and it swung shut behind her.

The brunette wasn’t surprised to find that Clarke had followed after her. Clarke was nothing if not persistent.

“Goddamnit, Lexa, just sign the papers!”

“Like I said, go see your parents, then we’ll talk,” Lexa retorted, slamming the door on Clarke’s face and locking it.

After making sure the back door was locked, Lexa sauntered into the kitchen. She opened up the fridge, barely even noticing that it was nearly empty, and pulled out a bottle of Corona. Lexa had never been picky when it came to her beer, never even minding Natty Lite, but recently she had upgraded herself to Coronas, thinking it was about time with everything she was up to recently.

After opening the bottle, Lexa meandered into the living room while drinking. She had the bottle up to her lips when she noticed that the front door was open and the screen door just slightly ajar. She shifted her gaze and saw Clarke standing in the middle of her living room, dangling a set of keys. Her eyes went wide and she quickly chugged the rest of her beer.

“Next time you try and lock someone out of a house they used to live in, maybe you should try and remember to remove the hidden key,” Clarke arched her eyebrows.

The bottle now empty, Lexa chucked it into the trash and it made a clinking noise as it hit the other empty bottles.

“Get the fuck out of my house, Clarke,” Lexa’s voice was suddenly harsh and stern.

“I will when you sign the papers,” the girl crossed her arms across her chest, and suddenly she looked more like a petulant child than a pissed off adult. The sight made Lexa remember the girl who Clarke used to be, the kind of girl who would do anything for the people she loved, the kind of girl who threw rocks at the windows of a house just because her friend was upset that his Dad was caught cheating on his Mom.

Not in the mood for an involuntary trip down Memory Lane, Lexa left Clarke in the living room without another word and went to the kitchen where she spent a few minutes searching for her cell phone. She hardly ever used it, there was no need, not when she always knew where her friends were at any given time. She dialed the town sheriff and tossed the phone back in the drawer.

When she returned to the living room, Clarke was still standing there holding the papers. Neither of them spoke, just stared at each other, until the flashing lights of the cop car shone through the windows.

“You called the sheriff on me?” Clarke exclaimed, quickly straightening up. “You KNOW that bitch hates me.”

You smirked at the frazzled girl, even as you realized that Clarke had no idea that Sheriff Indra had retired and that the new Sheriff in town was her son. She started to hustle towards the back door at the same moment Lincoln, dressed in his sheriff’s uniform, knocked on the screen door.

Lexa let her friend in and Clarke turned around, taking in the surprise behind her.

“Lincoln?”she asked, shocked. “You’re the town sheriff?”

“Sure am,” he grinned in response. Clarke sighed in relief and crossed the room and gave Lincoln a hug. “Haven’t seen you around here in a while, Clarke. How are things? You’re in New York, am I right?”

“I am,” Clarke nodded. “It’s great, Linc. You should really come up and visit at some point. You’d love all the art. Not just the museums, mind you, but the street artists as well.”

As Clarke caught up with her high school friend, Lexa remembered that there was a time when she would peak into the window of the art room at Polis High to watch Clarke paint and draw. She would always have a smile on her face and she and Lincoln would always be sitting at desks next to each other. Lexa wondered when the last time Lincoln did anything artistic.

Lexa quickly snapped out of the memory she was experiencing and focused instead on the two others in her living room. “Lincoln? Care to be a bit more professional?” she sighed. “You’re here to take Clarke away for trespassing, remember?”

Lincoln looked up at Lexa as if just remembering why he was there, then looked back at the blonde. “She’s got a point, Blondie,” he remarked. “You can’t just going on breaking into houses that you don’t live in.”

Lexa smirked, ready to watch Lincoln take Clarke away in handcuffs, but instead watched as a look of realization crossed the blonde’s face. “I’m willing to bet that my name is still on the deed to this shitty ass house,” Clarke spoke and Lexa tried not to care about the adjective Clarke had used to describe the house they had once christened together. “Or at least it should be, considering the fact that Lexa refuses to sign these divorce papers.” She lifted up the file, the colored ‘idiot proof’ tabs fully visible.

“You’re still married?” Lincoln looked between the two women, shocked.

“Unfortunately,” Clarke said at the same moment that Lexa responded, “Yep.”

“Lexa, if you’re still married and she still owns the house with you, then I can’t exactly arrest her for trespassing,” Lincoln sighed, and Lexa could tell that he was starting to feel awkward about the whole situation.

The wheels in Lexa’s brain started turning as she tried to figure out a way for Lincoln to take Clarke away. “What’s the statute of limitation on destruction of private and public properties?” Lexa smirked as she remembered the countless pranks Clarke had pulled around town, several of which she’d managed to avoid detection for.

“Fuck you, Lexa,” Clarke turned to the brunette, quickly figuring out where the brunette was headed. “You were with me for every single stink bomb and defacement.”

Lexa quickly realized that Clarke was right. In fact, Lincoln had been with them as well for several of the pranks. Back in high school they had caused so much trouble, but she and Clarke had always been thick as thieves, even before they started dating and became the first-ever lesbian couple in Polis, Alabama. They’d had their group of friends as well. They’d all been friends since diapers. She and Clarke had always been the ringleaders, but they’d almost always been accompanied by Bellamy Blake, Lincoln Forest, Jasper Jordan, Monty Green and Wells Jaha.

“There’s no reason for me to arrest Clarke, Lexa,” Lincoln stated. “This here is just a little domestic dispute. Unless she hit you,” he turned to Clarke. “Because we’re taking that stuff seriously now. She didn’t hit you, did she?”

Lexa snapped her gaze to Clarke, wondering if the girl would have the balls to lie just to piss her off. Clarke’s gaze softened though as she spoke, “No, Lincoln. Lexa would never hit me. She couldn’t even kill a spider.”

Clarke had been the designated spider-killer in their relationship. Lexa noticed in Clarke’s words that Clarke hadn’t said that she would never hurt her, just that she would never hit her. Because Lexa sure as hell knew that she’d hurt Clarke in plenty of other ways, non-physical ways.

“I don’t have a single childhood memory that doesn’t have you two in it,” Lincoln smiled, clearly not totally catching onto the tension in the room, or ignoring it. Lincoln had always been the peacekeeper in the group. Him and Wells. But now that role fell solely on the Sheriff.

“Now is not the time,” Lexa sighed.

“Right,” Lincoln responded as he started to back towards the door. “Well, I’m going to head out. Clarke, if you’re in town for a while, you should come to Grounders. The whole gang is there most nights.”

“Thanks for the invite Lincoln, but I’m on the first flight out of here tomorrow morning,” Clarke spoke with a tight-lipped smile.

Lincoln tipped his hat at the two women and left the house.

“I guess not much has changed,” Lexa raised her eyebrows at Clarke after the wheels of the cop car were heard crunching through the dirt driveway. “You come to town and the first thing you do is seek me out, then you have a confrontation with the cops.”

“Fuck you, Lexa,” the blonde narrowed her bright blue eyes at Lexa, glaring at her. “I’ve changed, I’m not the same girl who used to skip gym class, show up cross-faded to prom or have sex in the back of a truck with some girl.”

“You’re right,” Lexa nodded. “That girl was happy, something you certainly don’t seem to be.”

“I am happy,” Clarke crossed her arms. “I am incredibly successful. I have people writing about me in magazines. People want to BE me. And I have someone who loves me and wants to marry me. I’m engaged to someone else Lexa.” Clarke lowered her voice with a sigh at the end of her sentence and Lexa’s stomach dropped. She should have known that everything she had been doing the past few years wasn’t going to make a difference, but she’d still held out hope nevertheless.

“Well I hope you’re happy with your new Yankee fiance. Maybe this time you’ll get the whole marriage thing right. I hope she isn’t as big of a disappointment to you as I was,” Lexa rolled her eyes and looked at the glass figurine resting on the bookshelf over Clarke’s shoulder.

“He.”

“What?” Lexa moved her gaze from the glass to the blonde.

“I’m marrying a man, Lexa.”

“Of course you are!” Lexa laughed out loud. She knew that Clarke had always been attracted to men and women. She wasn’t sure which would have been worse though, Clarke moving on with a girl or a guy.

“I’m straight, Lexa,” Clarke insisted and Lexa laughed loudly. “I realize now that you were just a phase. My mom was right, it was a phase I’ve now grown out of. I was just confused back then. I confused the feelings I had as your best friend for love.”

At Clarke’s utter denial, Lexa was actually mad, but she wasn’t going to let that show. Instead she let out some more laughter, as if Clarke’s statement was just laughable, instead of a knife in the heart. “For a straight girl, you really enjoyed eating my pussy. But hey, I guess that was just a failed experiment, right? I never meant anything to you.”

“That’s not…” a flash of guilt passed over Clarke’s face. “That’s not true. I cared for you and you know that. You were my best friend, but that’s all.”

Lexa had the hundreds of memories of the two of them lying naked together, professing their love to each other, to prove Clarke wrong, but she didn’t bother. She didn’t see the point.

“I’ll sign your goddamn papers,” Lexa sighed and Clarke smiled. “But only after you see your parents. I’m not changing my mind on that. They’d kill me if they knew I’d seen you and didn’t make you go over there.”

Lexa realized that something must have shifted in her own face, maybe it was the realization that everything she’d done in the past years didn’t matter anymore, but whatever it was seemed to make Clarke believe her.

“Fine,” she responded, finally relenting, but not without a sharpness to her speech. “Only because if I stay with them then I don’t have to stay at the airport hotel.”

“Okay.”

“Where will you be after I see them?”

“I’ll be around tomorrow morning before you gotta leave,” Lexa explained, becoming more aware of her own southern accent and how strong it was compared to Clarke’s faded one.

Without another word, Clarke turned on her heels and left the house, leaving the papers behind on the table for Lexa to sign. As soon as she heard the rental car pull away and leave her driveway, Lexa sunk on to her couch and sighed.

All of a sudden everything around her made her think of Clarke. From the light blue sofa to the painting on the wall, to the centerpiece of it all. The glass piece that had been created in a lightning storm fifteen years earlier had been the inspiration to everything. But it didn’t matter anymore.

Instead of being bombarded with memories of a thunderstorm when she was ten, or the vicious yelling fights that had ended their relationship, Lexa was hit by the memory of her and Clarke’s second kiss.

 


 

Lexa was sixteen and Clarke was fifteen and their sophomore year of high school was just days days away from starting. In honor of the end of summer, Bellamy Blake was hosting a party at his family’s plantation. There was a bonfire and plenty of beer and no one worried about the police being called. Bellamy’s dad was out of town, probably with one of his girlfriends and his mom was on the other side of town, living in the trailer park with her new husband and Bellamy’s half sister. The property was large enough with no neighbors in sight, so that they never worried about getting caught there.

They were all pleasantly drunk and circled around a bonfire, the fire more for aesthetic than heat as it was still warm enough to hang out outside, even at night. Monty and Jasper had put the fire to use though, roasting marshmallows and trying to throw them into each other’s mouths.

The whole gang was there; Lexa, Clarke, Bellamy, Wells, Jasper, Monty and Lincoln, as well as some others that they were friends with, but not as close with.

The night was one of those perfect nights. The kind of night that could have been an ordinary night, but once you’re with your friends it just becomes the epitome of high school. They all felt it, the ease between them all and the easy fun that came from drinking together outside in their small hometown.

Someone brought up the topic of first kisses and Clarke and Lexa exchanged a glance as they remembered being each other’s first kiss in the middle of a thunderstorm, six years earlier. Since then, they’d each kissed other people, many of whom were in attendance, but neither forgot that first kiss.

When Maya Vie announced that she hadn’t had her first kiss yet, Jasper, mouth full of marshmallows, promptly volunteered. The shy girl, confident only because of the beer coursing through her, nodded and after Jasper swallowed the marshmallows, he kissed her. Everyone cheered.

Soon, everyone was drunk enough that they were splitting up into smaller groups, and after several more beers Clarke turned towards her best friend. “I have to pee, come with me?”

Lexa nodded and followed the blonde out of sight of the others and waited as the girl crouched behind a tree and relieved herself. Lexa remembered the uncharacteristic confidence that Maya had shown earlier and she realized that it was about time that she showed some herself. She’d been waiting all summer for the right moment to tell her best friend her biggest secret, but had managed to talk herself out of it on multiple occasions. Now that the summer was practically over, Lexa knew that she had to stop with the excuses.

When Clarke reappeared from behind the tree, Lexa immediately spoke so that she wouldn’t lose what little courage she’d managed to gather.

“Clarke, I need to tell you something.”

“What is it, Lexi?” Clarke approached Lexa and threw an arm around her. When Clarke was drunk she got incredibly physically affectionate. Physical affection usually bothered Lexa, but never when it came from her best friend.

Lexa took a deep breath and decided to go for it. “I like girls,” she spoke quickly. “I think dicks are gross and boobs are awesome. I’m gay, Clarke. Totally and completely gay.”

She searched Clarke’s face for a response and the blonde quickly gave her one. A smile. “I know Lex,” she laughed. “I’m pretty sure everyone knows. You’re not exactly subtle.”

“I’m not?”

“No,” Clarke shook her head. “I’ve never seen you show interest in any guy, not even when you spent the night making out with Ryder that one time last summer.”

“And you’re okay with that?” Lexa asked tentatively. They lived in a small town in Alabama and Lexa didn’t know a single other gay person in the town, girl or guy.

“Obviously,” Clarke rolled her eyes. “You’re my best friend no matter what, obviously I’m okay with it. Besides, now that you’ve officially told me, I guess I should tell you that I’ve had a crush on you for a long time. I’m not sure how long, I dunno when the crush started, maybe it was always there, but I definitely have a crush on you Lexa.”

Lexa looked at the drunk blonde in confusion. “What do you mean?”

“You’re not the only one here who isn’t straight,” Clarke laughed. “Don’t get me wrong I still like guys, but I’m a sucker for a sexy girl as well.” This reveal was news to Lexa. Clarke was definitely the most sexual girl in their grade, having been the first girl they knew to lose her virginity, but Lexa was pretty sure she’d never tried to hook up with a girl before.

“You’re not straight?” Lexa asked, still confused.

“If I was straight, would I do this?” Clarke then approached Lexa and placed a hand behind her neck, winding her fingers through the curls she found there. Lexa realized what Clarke was about to do just moments before it happened.

Clarke’s lips were soft and tasted like cheap beer and cigarettes. They tasted like sandy beaches and a rainstorm. They tasted like home.

It didn’t take long for Lexa to start kissing Clarke back, quickly deepening the kiss when Clarke didn’t pull away immediately. Before she knew it, Clarke was moving them and Lexa’s back was against the bark of a tree, scratching her where her shirt had ridden up. But she didn’t care. She barely even noticed it, certainly not when Clarke’s hand was suddenly on top of her clothed breast.

Clarke kept her hand there for barely a moment before removing it, and when Lexa whined at the lack of contact, Clarke laughed into her lips. She then used that hand to take one of Lexa’s, both of which were resting on the blonde’s hips. She led Lexa’s hand to her breast and lifted her lips slightly from Lexa’s.

“You said you love boobs, Lex, so here you go.” Clarke’s voice was low and gravelly and it elicited a growl from Lexa’s lips, one neither of them knew she had in her. Instead of laughing though, Clarke moved Lexa’s hands away from the top of her shirt and guided it under instead.

Lexa didn’t need much guidance to know what Clarke wanted. She pushed her hand underneath Clarke’s bra and grabbed her bare breast, causing Clarke to attach her lips to Lexa’s once more.

Lexa flicked a thumb over Clarke’s nipple and Clarke drove a knee between Lexa’s legs. It was like the rest of the world didn’t exist. And that’s when Lexa knew she was a goner. There was no turning back. She was Clarke Griffin’s, her body and her soul.

They never really came out to their friends. They all just figured it out when they started holding hands in public and when they would sit on each other’s laps when hanging out with everyone, occasionally exchanging chaste kisses. Everyone figured it out on their own and it was never a big deal.

Jasper was the last to figure it out. It took him until the end of the September when he finally asked why Clarke would call Lexa her girlfriend, but none of their other girl friends. Lexa had answered for Clarke by kissing her in a way that was slightly PG-13 and saying, “Because I’m the only one allowed to do that. Because I get to kiss her anytime I want.”

And Clarke’s eyes had sparkled as they both remembered the words they’d spoken before their first kiss.

Chapter Text

There was a reason why Clarke hadn’t told her parents she was going to be in Polis. Her plan had been to get Lexa to sign the papers, then get the hell out of that godforsaken town. She hadn’t seen her parents in three years, not since she’d managed to convince them to come up to New York for Christmas three years ago. That being said, she wasn’t a horrible daughter. She still spoke to her parents a few times a month, but never for extended periods of time. She’d mentioned Finn to them in the past, but she doubted that she ever let on how serious it was with him.

Clarke pulled up to the ranch-style home and sat in the car for a moment, parked beside her father’s dirty truck. She sighed as she reached into the glove compartment and slipped Finn’s ring onto her finger. Ready to bite the bullet and see her parents again, Clarke finally stepped out of the car and walked up to the door. It felt odd, knocking on the door of her childhood home, but she did so.

“Is that someone knockin’ on the door Abs?” came a voice from inside the home. Clarke couldn’t help but smile at the sound of her father and the familiarity of it all.

“I don’t know Jake, why don’t you check? I’m kinda busy incase you didn’t notice.”

“Alright, alright,” Jake responded. Clarke could envision the scene behind the door in her head. Her mother was likely in the kitchen cooking, her father either watching football on the television of reading some car magazine or manual.

Clarke awkwardly fidgeted with the ring on her finger as she waited. Moments later though, Jake opened the door. It took him a moment to register the fact that it was his daughter waiting at the door.

“What’re you doin’ here?” he gasped with a laugh, immediately stepping out onto the front steps to envelop Clarke into a hug, one she eagerly returned.

“Who is it Jake?”

“Get out here and find out for yourself woman!” he laughed in response. Jake squeezed Clarke even tighter, not letting go until Abby showed her face from behind the entranceway.

“Jake, what are…” she paused as she took in the sight of her husband and daughter together. “Clarke? Is that you?”

“Sure is Momma,” Clarke smiled hesitantly, turning to face the woman.

“You know, it’s polite to call before visiting. Especially from far away. I would’ve put on something nicer, would’ve made your favorite dinner,” Abby began to ramble.

“Sorry Momma,” Clarke apologized. “Don’t worry, it’s not a long stay though.”

“Not a long stay?” Jake asked with a gasp. “Why not?”

Clarke looked between her parents, recognizing how opposite their reactions to seeing her were. She wasn’t surprised though. Jake and Abby were very different people and had always had different reactions to Clarke’s actions. Clarke had always been closer to Jake, always appreciated his support. It had always been her mom she’d wanted to please though.

“How about we stop hitting her with questions Jake and invite her inside,” Abby gestured for Clarke and Jake to join her in the home. “She’s clearly been traveling all day, the last thing she wants to do is stand on the stoop answering questions.

“Good. Yes, right.” Jake nodded and allowed Clarke to enter the home first, shutting the door behind them. “Wait’ll you see what we’ve done to the living room.”

Clarke followed her father into the living room. She looked around the cramped space, expecting to find something knew, unable to do so. “What did you do?” she asked.

“We switched the chairs and couches around,” Jake grinned. Clarke looked around again and realized the the two plush chairs had switched positions with the couch. Other than that, everything looked identical to the way it did when she left five years earlier. Nothing had changed in probably more than a decade. Much like the rest of the town.

“Wow Dad, I bet that took a lot of getting used to, that big change,” she rolled her eyes.

“It did,” he nodded, not noticing the sarcasm dripping from his daughter’s tongue. “I kept getting turned around every time I came in here, your mom had to keep reminding me why I was getting confused.”

“I’m making meatloaf for dinner," Abby announced, fully understanding Clarke’s tone. While she and Clarke didn’t get along, they were more similar than they were different in many ways.

“Is it gluten free?” Clarke asked. The idea of meatloaf grossed her out, regardless of the fact that she’d practically been raised on it.

“Gluten free?” Abby asked, as if she had never heard the term before. As Clarke thought about it though, she doubted her mother actually had heard the term before. The residents of Polis, Alabama weren’t exactly the most health conscious folks.

“Never mind, I’ll just head out to the Piggly Wiggly and get stuff for a Greek salad.”

“Since when is my cooking not good enough for you Clarke?” Abby asked, her hands not placed on her hips.

“I’m just conscious about my health is all,” Clarke gestured with her left hand to her figure. “Can’t you tell?”

Abby’s eyes were on Clarke, but not on the shape of Clarke’s body, but rather on the hand with which she was gesturing to it.

“Clarke? What is that on your hand?”

Clarke paused and realized that her mom had noticed her ring. “I met someone,” she spoke. “And I’m getting married. That’s what I came here to tell you.” She left out the fact that she had actually only come to convince Lexa to sign the divorce papers, not to see her parents.

There was a long moment of silence before Jake broke it. “Well I think this calls for a celebration then. Forget about the meatloaf Abs, we’ll get whatever gluten food Clarke wants.”

“Gluten free,” Clarke corrected, her eyes remaining trained on her mother’s face. Abby’s face was full of confusion, conflicted about how to feel. She continued to look at the woman’s face as she spoke again. “His name is Finn.” Clarke watched as the relief instantly fell over Abby’s face as soon as Clarke used the male pronoun.

“Oh Clarke!” Abby sighed, crossing the room to finally hug her daughter for the first time that day. The first time in years. “Tell me about him,” she cooed, as if she were talking about her daughter’s relationship with her for the first time. And she was. Not just her relationship with Finn though. This was the first time she’d actually asked about Clarke’s significant other in an encouraging manner.

“He’s perfect,” Clarke grinned, happy that she could finally have the relationship with her mother like the kind she’d dreamed about. “He’s following in his mother’s footsteps in politics. She’s the mayor of New York and he hopes to be president someday.”

“Quite the ambitious fellow,” Jake chimed in. “When do we get to meet him.”

“Uhmm,” Clarke looked to her father then back again to her mother. “Soon, I promise. We’re thinking of getting married at Christmas.”

“Christmas?” Jake asked. “Are you sure Clarke? That’s less barely six months away.”

“I love him,” she stated simply.

“She loves him Jake, you hear that?” Abby exclaimed. “Oh goodness. I’m so excited. My baby is finally getting married!”

Clarke paused at her mother’s words. She had no plans to correct her, but Jake did. “She’s been married Abby.”

“That wasn’t a real marriage Jake,” Abby spat. “Now THIS will be a real marriage. Clarke and a man, just the way it’s supposed to be.”

“Not this again,” Jake sighed.

“It’s fine,” Clarke interjected. They’d had this same argument hundreds of times, but usually Clarke and Jake were on the same side. This was the first time Clarke was taking her mother’s side. “Mom is right. We’re just going to pretend that that other thing didn’t happen. I’m getting married for real this time. And it’s going to be perfect. No one will be drunk and I’ll actually get to have my first dance this time.”

“She was nervous,” Jake sighed. “Of course she drank too much the night before. She was nervous that she was marrying you. Can you blame her?”

“I said we’re not talking about that. We’re just talking about me and Finn. Okay?” Clarke glared at her father. He nodded.

 


 

After spending the night in her childhood bedroom, Clarke set out into town in hopes of getting her papers back from Lexa. Her parents had managed to convince her to push back her flight and she’d reluctantly agreed. That being said though, she realized that she should probably get cash out of the bank, Polis wasn’t exactly the most credit card friendly town in the world. It always amazed Clarke how it still hadn’t managed to progress into the twenty-first century.

She wasn’t even surprised to find out that the bank still didn’t have an ATM. Frustrated, she approached the teller.

“I’d like to take money out of my account,” she sighed, handing over her driver’s license. She wasn’t even thinking about the fact that the local bank was exactly that, a local bank, and not her usual Bank of America branch.

“Could you confirm your information on the screen?” the teller asked.

When Clarke looked down, she was surprised to find that her name wasn’t the only one attached to the information. And that the amount in the account was not what she expected. It took her only a moment to figure out what she was looking at.

It was their joint-checking account. Her's and Lexa’s. They’d opened it right after they’d gotten married as neither of them had had a bank account prior to getting married. When Clarke had left, they’d barely had a few hundred dollars in the account.

Now though, the account contained just as much money as Clarke’s individual account held. And that wasn’t small change.

“Is everything in order?” the clerk asked. “How much will you be withdrawing?”

Clarke shook her head, coming out of the stupor the surprise had put her in. “This actually isn’t the correct account,” she explained.

The clerk quickly managed to open up Clarke’s Bank of America account and Clarke withdrew the cash, all the while wondering how on earth Lexa could have so much money. And if she was doing anything illegal.

Distracted by her thoughts, Clarke almost didn’t notice a car come to a stop across the street from her and a man exit it.

The man whistled and catcalled her. “Ow ow! Now who’s that sexy chick there? Those legs, those tits, DAMN!”

Clarke turned as heard the man, “How about you just FUCK Off…” she trailed off as she recognized the man. “Bellamy?” She exclaimed.

“If it isn’t the one and only Clarke Griffin,” the dark haired man grinned. Clarke ran towards him and wrapped her arms around him. He accepted her hug and lifted her up her feet, spinning her around.

“Finally, a face I’m actually happy to see," Clarke smiled genuinely for the first time since the night of her engagement.

“I’m just hurt you didn’t come see me first,” he pouted, teasingly. “I heard you saw Lexa last night.”

“Yeah,” Clarke rolled her eyes. “She has something I need. So now I’m on my way to go find her again.”

“Well she wouldn’t be around during the day,” Bellamy stated, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

“She told me she would be,” Clarke pulled away from her friend.

“Well then, she lied," he laughed. Clarke frowned. She believed Bellamy over Lexa, after all, there was no reason for him to lie. Unlike Lexa. Seeing the clear frustration and anger on Clarke’s face, Bellamy offered a solution. “She’ll be at Grounders tonight, for sure. In fact, the whole gang will be. You should join.”

Clarke contemplated the offer. If she was going to be stuck in Polis for a few days, she supposed she’d rather see some of her old friends instead of hanging out with her parents the entire evening. Despite the fact that she’d left town angry, Clarke really did still care about her friends. Even if she hadn’t spoken to any of them in five years.

“Alright, I’ll come.”

So several hours later, Clarke was dressed up in fancy top and jeans along with Tory Burch flats, realizing that heels would look a bit ridiculous at Grounders, and drove down to the bar. When she walked in, everything was already in full swing.

People started drinking early in Polis. Sometimes Clarke wondered if anyone was ever completely sober in the town. Or even the state.

“How damn!” a loud voice announced. “Look what the cat dragged in! If it isn’t my one and only, and favorite, sister-in-law!”

Clarke turned with a smile plastered on her face. “Hey Anya,” she grinned at the woman behind the bar. Neither made a move to hug. Clarke knew that Anya wasn’t exactly the hugging type.

“You think that asshole of a woman I call my sister would have told me you were in town, since I’m assuming you’ve already seen her. Her being your wife and all.”

“I have,” Clarke confirmed. “And actually, very soon to be ex-wife.” She held up her hand to show off her ring.

 


 

One of the best things about growing up in a small town, was that you always knew the owner of the local bar. While this was often a not-so-great thing for those who were underage, for Lexa and her friends it actually came in handy. The local bar, Grounders, was owned by Anya Woods, Lexa’s older sister.

Anya was ten years older than her sister and had been her legal guardian since their parents’ death, and while she was protective of Lexa, she never really filled the parent role perfectly. As a result, Anya had no problem hosting Lexa’s eighteenth birthday at Grounders. And since the bar also was a restaurant, it was perfectly legal. The alcohol being served to minors though? Definitely not as legal, but nobody cared as long as the party remained contained.

The entire rising senior class of Polis High School had been invited, all one hundred of them, as well as a handful of underclassmen. Not all came, of course, but there were a decent amount there. Lexa was very much aware that her “blasphemous” relationship with Clarke had warded away the religious rednecks, and the nerds were a bit scared of her, but she didn’t care. All the people she cared about were in attendance.

She was eighteen and in love. And very, very drunk.

After taking a shot of whiskey with John Murphy, nodding along to the music blasting through the speakers, she turned around and searched for her girlfriend.

“You seen Clarke?” she slurred, asking the person closest to her.

“Last I saw, she was playing pool with Wells,” Bellamy’s younger sister, Octavia explained. Octavia was a rising freshman at Polis High, three years younger than Lexa and her friends. Anya had allowed the girl to come, but had been denied access to all hard liquor, forced to drink only beer instead.

Lexa patted the young brunette on the shoulder and went in search of her blonde lover.

When she arrived in the bar of the bar with the pool table, Clarke immediately made eye contact with her and waved. Lexa’s heart sped up at the sight of her wearing a tank top and cut off jean shorts. She was so distracted by the exposed skin, practically undressing her with her eyes, that she almost missed the sight of Monty and Jasper lining up on opposite sides of the room. She grinned when she finally realized what was going on.

Clarke realized it only moments too late.

“Hey Jasper, are you hungry?” Monty asked loudly.

“I think I am Monty. And you know what I’m hungry for?”

“What’s that?”

“A Clarke Sandwich!”

Both boys then ran from either side of the room to Clarke, catching her between them. It was an entertaining sight, the two gangly boys wrapping themselves around the blonde. Clarke laughed with a snort and Lexa quickly walked towards her.

“Only I get to touch her on my birthday,” Lexa stuck her tongue out at her friends. Everyone around them laughed, but Jasper and Monty still pulled away.

Lexa wrapped her arms around Clarke, hands immediately sneaking up under the back of Clarke’s tank. She scratched at Clarke’s back and began to place kisses along her jaw.

“How much have you had to drink Lex?” Clarke laughed, tilting her head to the side as Lexa’s lips moved to her neck.

“Enough that I would have no qualms about tearing your clothes off and taking you on the pool table,” Lexa muttered against the girl’s throat, “But not too much so that I wouldn’t be able to preform.”

“As sexy as that sounds, I really don’t think that’s the best idea,” Clarke laughed in return, pulling away from Lexa. When Lexa frowned at the blonde, Clarke kissed the frown away. “There will be plenty of birthday sex for you tonight, provided you don’t get too drunk and pass out, okay?”

“Okay,” Lexa sighed. “Can that be now then?”

“No,” Clarke laughed again. “It’s your birthday party, you only turn eighteen once.”

Lexa huffed and sat down at the booth next to the pool table, pulling Clarke on top of her lap as she did so. “You’re all I want on my birthday though.”

“And you have me silly,” as if to prove her point, Clarke planted a long, lingering kiss on Lexa’s lips before tapping on the brunette’s glasses.

When Clarke pulled away, Lexa smiled, her eyes still closed. “I’m gonna marry you someday Clarke Griffin.”

“Oh yeah? And why’s that?”

“So I can kiss you anytime I want,” Lexa repeated the words she’d spoken eight years earlier.

“I’d marry you today if I could,” Clarke planted kissed all over Lexa’s face.

“Once you’re eighteen, we’ll get married,” Lexa spoke assuredly, her voice still slurred from too many shots of whiskey.

“Okay,” Clarke grinned as she nuzzled into Lexa’s chest, the brunette wrapping her arms protectively around the blonde.

 


 

Lexa knew the moment Clarke arrived at Grounders. It was almost like she had some kind of sixth sense. A Clarke-sense, so to speak. Or maybe it was just that Clarke lit up every room that she walked into. On second thought, it was probably just because Anya loudly announced the woman’s presence.

“Fuck,” Lexa muttered under her breath as she stood up off the table she’d been sitting on and grabbed Bellamy’s beer out of his hands. She hadn’t had anything yet to drink, but suddenly, she needed a beer.

“I was drinking that,” he scoffed.

“I think I need it more,” she returned, gesturing to the front of the bar. Seeing where she who she was referring to, Bellamy nodded.

“All yours,” he spoke.

“Who’s up for a game of darts?” Lexa asked the group around her.

“I’ll play you,” Lincoln offered.

“Great,” Lexa nodded as the two walked over to the back wall to play the game.

Lexa heard Clarke greeting some of their friends, but she didn’t let it distract her from her game with Lincoln. Or rather, she used the game as a distraction.

“You were supposed to get my papers to me this morning,” Clarke spoke, one arm on her hip, the other holding some kind of fruity cocktail as she walked right in Lexa’s line of fire.

“Oops,” Lexa shrugged. “You might wanna move though Clarke. Lincoln and I are playing and we wouldn’t want want one of these darts to accidentally poke your eye out. Doubt I’d go to your funeral though.”

Clarke scoffed in return.

“Why’re you even here anyhow?” she asked. “Your flight was this afternoon, wasn’t it?”

“I changed it,” Clarke spoke matter-of-factly.

Seeing that Clarke had no intention of moving, Lexa took her turn, throwing the dart at the board, the dart inches away from the side of Clarke’s head as it flew through the air. She landed one ring out from the bullseye.

“I think that means I win, Linc,” Lexa offered Lincoln a hand and he shook it.

“Oh my god,” Clarke gasped. “You could have killed me!”

Both Lincoln and Lexa ignored Clarke and newcomer joined there circle, handing Lincoln a beer. Lincoln kissed the pregnant woman’s forehead and her eyes widened as she realized that Lincoln and Lexa weren’t alone. “Clarke?” she asked, “Is that you?”

Lexa watched as Clarke shifted her gaze away from her and onto Lincoln’s wife. She registered the confusion on her face. She stared at the woman for several moments until she finally seemed to remember who she was. “Holy fuck, Little O?” she exclaimed, clearly surprised to see Bellamy’s younger half-sister hanging out with them at the bar.

“Nice to see you too Clarke,” Octavia laughed.

“You’re pregnant,” the blonde stated the obvious. Octavia was well into her third trimester.

“It’s our third,” Octavia smiled, looking up at Lincoln with a look of pure love. It was a look that would have made Lexa jealous of what they had if she didn’t know she had once done the same. With Clarke.

“Your third?” blonde gasped. “Wow. And wait, with Lincoln?” Octavia nodded. “Wow.”

“Are we done here?” Lexa asked, interjecting herself. “Lincoln, what do you say? Best two out of three?”

Before Lincoln had the opportunity to respond though, Clarke seemed to see her in. “I’ll play you,” she smirked. “I win and you sign the papers here and now.”

Lexa arched an eyebrow at the offer. She saw potential in it. After all, she was great at darts and while Clarke had always been a worthy competitor, Lexa doubted she’d played in a while. “What do I get if I win then?” Lexa asked, walking directly at Clarke. She saw Clarke’s shoulders tighten, but Lexa brushed past her, retrieving the darts from the board.

“If you win, then I buy everyone’s drinks for the night,” Clarke offered. Around them everyone cheered. Lexa thought about contesting the offer, but decided against it.

“Fine,” she spoke. She extended her hand and Clarke shook it. Lexa was surprised to find that Clarke’s hand still felt the same in her’s. Slightly smaller and always just a degree or two warmer.

One round turns to two, which turns to three, four and five. Lexa has one them all and Clarke has bought everyone rounds of drinks, as well as herself. She’s suitably drunk and struggling to keep her balance. Lexa saw it coming, knowing all the signs of a drunk Clarke, but it wasn’t her job to take care of her anymore.

“What’s funny is that I’m not the only one who can afford to buy five rounds of drinks for everyone,” Clarke slurred, turning to face Lexa. “How the fuck do you have that much money?”

“What are you talking about Clarke?” Lexa asked, confused. She was sober, having had only two beers over the course of several hours. She would know if she had said anything to Clarke that would’ve have given her financial situation away.

“I saw the contents of our joint account this morning,” Clarke smirked.

Lexa could feel the blood rushing from her face. “You better not have touched any of that.”

“I didn’t,” Clarke shook her head, “But if we’re still married, half of that is mine.” Lexa narrowed her eyes at the blonde, but allowed her to keep talking. “I don’t need any of it, of course, so once you sign those papers, I’ll have no claim to it. Which also means when you’re prosecuted for whatever illegal shit you’re up to, I won’t get caught up in it.”

Lexa felt a pang in her heart at Clarke’s accusation. Did she really think the only way Lexa could have made the money was by illegal means?

“She’s not doing anything ill…” Bellamy began, before Lexa cut him off.

“Let her think whatever she wants Bell. She won’t even give a second thought about any of us once I sign her damn papers and she leaves for her new husband.”

Those who hadn’t heard about Clarke’s situation, the majority of Lexa’s friends, paused their conversations to stare at the blonde in shock. While everyone else was distracted by the revelation, Lexa watched as two familiar figures approached Clarke from opposite sides of the room.

“Hey Monty, are you hungry?” Jasper asked.

“I am Jasper. I think I’m hungry for a CLARKE SANDWICH!” Monty yelled back. They both rushed at Clarke who yelped, dropping her drink.

“Get the fuck off of me!” the blonde exclaimed, struggling to push the two men off of her. Confused by her out-of-character reaction, they quickly backed away. Lexa noticed the large stain on Clarke’s shirt from her drink at the same time Clarke did. “And you stained my shirt! Goddamnit, do you even know how much this cost?!”

“I thought you could afford it,” Lexa scoffed, unable to contain herself.

Clarke huffed as she grabbed napkins off the table and tried to blot her shirt, failing miserably in her drunken state. “I can’t wait to get away from this god-awful town and away from all you stupid REDNECKS!” she announced.

“You used to be one of us, you know,” Bellamy spoke calmly, hoping to calm the blonde down.

“Well I sure as hell am not anymore,” the blonde scoffed. “Don’t you know who I am? I’m somebody! I’m not rotting away in some small town in Alabama, drinking my life away, doing nothing with myself.”

“Don’t act like you’re better than us,” Lincoln tried to back Bellamy up.

“I AM better than you!” Clarke insisted, turning to face Lincoln more directly. “How old was Octavia when you knocked her up for the first time anyway? She’s gotta be what, twenty-two now? And you’ve already impregnated her for a third time? Were you fucking her when she was still underage? You like that shit, don’t you? You’re all so fucked up. We’ve got Lincoln here, fucking little kids and god forbid we forget about Lexa. I mean, she’s the one who got our friend killed.” The room seemed to collectively be holding their breathes. Lexa was the first to get her wits about her.

Lexa grabbed onto Clarke and pulled her away. “I think it’s time for you to go home now, Clarke, she insisted.

“Fine,” Clarke spoke, stomping her feet like a child, “But only because I want to.”

Lexa watched as Clarke fumbled around with her purse, finally withdrawing a set of car keys from it. “Hell no!” Lexa’s eyes widened as she grabbed the keys out of Clarke’s hands. “You are in no state to be driving home. I WILL NOT let you drive drunk.”

After everything that had happened, she would have thought that Clarke would make better decisions when it came to driving, especially driving when there was alcohol involved. She never would have expected for Clarke to drive drunk.

“I’m driving you home,” Lexa stated. Her tone must have made Clarke realized what she was about to do, as she didn’t try and refuse her. “Get in,” Lexa spoke after they reached her truck and she opened the passenger door for her wife.

“Oh shit,” Clarke muttered.

Before Lexa had the chance to realize what was about to happen, Clarke puked, getting more vomit on Lexa’s shirt and shoes than anywhere else. After she finished, she simply crawled into the truck, softly whispering, “I’m sorry.”

Lexa sighed, but realized there was no point in getting even madder at the drunk girl. Especially since she likely wouldn’t remember it in the morning. She walked around to the bed of the truck, stripping off her shirt and shoes. She rummaged around in the bag she kept back there and threw on a flannel. She didn’t have any other shoes, but she preferred to drive barefoot rather than in puke-soaked shoes.

By the time she hopped into the driver’s seat, Clarke was fast asleep, head resting against the window. Lexa shook her head at the sight and backed out of the parking lot, starting the familiar drive to the Griffin’s house.

Jake must have seen the lights of her truck pulling up, because as soon as she put the truck in park, he turned on the porch lights and opened the door. Clarke, however, was still fast asleep. Knowing that there was no waking a drunk-Clarke, Lexa went around to the other side of her truck and carefully opened the door. She pushed her arms under Clarke and lifted her up, holding her in her arms bridal style.

“She had a little too much to drink,” Lexa explained to her father-in-law as he let her in the house.

“Let me help you,” he offered.

Lexa shook her head, refusing his aid. “It’s okay Dad, I got this. I’ll just put her in bed.” He nodded and stepped out of her way.

She walks down the short hallway with Clarke in her arms and pushes the door open with her foot. Lexa tried not to think about the amount of nights she herself had spent in the room, tangled up in Clarke’s limbs on her twin bed. She placed Clarke on the bed and takes off the girl’s shoes. She figures Clarke will be uncomfortable in her jeans, but Lexa leaves them on. Because if she were to undress the girl, she knew Clarke would never forgive her. Instead, Lexa pulls the covers up over the blonde.

Lexa turns to leave, but feels a hand grab her arm. She turns and sees Clarke’s grip on her arm. “Lexa,” Clarke mutters, before snoring. Lexa realized then that Clarke was still asleep. Using her free hand, Lexa took Clarke’s, extracting her arm from the blonde’s grip.

She held Clarke’s hand an extra moment. “I wish you’d stayed,” she whispered, knowing that Clarke was asleep and therefore couldn’t hear her. “It took you leaving to get my shit together, but I wish you hadn’t left.”

She sighed and left the drunk girl behind.

“What are you doing here?” Abby spat as Lexa reentered the living room.

“She was bringing our drunk daughter home Abby,” Jake explained before turning to Lexa. “Thanks Lex.”

“Anytime Dad,” Lexa smiled, the name rolling off her tongue without a second thought.

“He’s not your father.” The rage and disgust in Abby’s voice was palpable.

“I’ll always be her Dad,” Jake insisted. “No matter what happens or whatever lies Clarke tells herself just so that you’ll tell her you love her, Lexa will always be a daughter to me.”

Lexa felt a sudden surge of love for the man. He’d acted as a father figure to Lexa long before she married his daughter. She’d been his daughter’s best friend when her own parents died in a drunk driving accident when she was nine and had always insisted that she would be there for her no matter what.

Lexa knew that she had tested that relationship many time over the years, but not even being the catalyst to his daughter running off to New York without a second glance had made Jake waver in his love for her.

“Well, I’m going to go,” Lexa spoke awkwardly.

“Please do,” Abby crossed her arms across her chest. “And don’t go thinking any thoughts about what happened tonight. Clarke is engaged to a man. A good man.”

“I know,” the other brunette nodded.

Lexa approached the door and Jake followed her to lead her out.

“Thanks for taking care of her,” he patted her shoulder once they were out on the porch.

“You know I always will,” Lexa spoke honestly.

“I know.”

She nodded at him and got into her truck, backing away from her in-laws’ home. She started her own drive home, knowing what she had to do.

After Clarke’s outburst tonight, Lexa knew that Clarke was not the same person that she had fallen in love with. She wasn’t the same person either. They were both too different now. Lexa still hoped that the sweet girl who fell in love with her glasses-wearing best friend, who painted for the sake of seeing a color on a canvas, who tried to save a raccoon from a horrible death and who put her friends before herself was still in Clarke somewhere, but she also knew that there was a chance she wasn’t.

Just like she wasn’t the woman she once was anymore.

Sure, some things would always stay the same, like her horrible eyesight, the guilt she felt over Wells’ death and her love for Clarke Griffin, but they were different now. She had contacts. She’d accepted the part she’d played in her friend’s death. And finally, she was ready to let Clarke go.

So when she got home, the first thing she did was sign the divorce papers.

Chapter Text

Lexa spent her morning packing, searching through all the nooks and crannies of the house she’d lived in for twenty-five years, making note of everything she might need and writing it down on a pad of paper so that she could keep track of it all.

It was around lunchtime when Lexa began to look through the messy guest room closet. She’d pulled out a box of VHS tapes when suddenly, someone tapped her shoulder. She yelped and turned around, sighing as she realized that it was Anya.

“What the fuck Ahn?” she slapped her leg. “I know the bell is broken, but is there a reason you didn’t knock?”

“Yeah, I’m not doing that,” Anya shook her head. “I grew up in this house and I don’t care if it’s been seven years since I’ve lived here, I’m not knocking.”

Not long after Lexa had turned eighteen, Anya had moved into town, finding it easier to live in the apartment above Grounders so that she didn’t have to trek out to the house in the early hours of the morning every night. She also left the house they’d inherited after their parents’ death so that Lexa and her fiancé would have a place to move into after they were married.

“What are you doing anyway?” Anya asked, gesturing to the overflowing closet that her sister was sitting in front of.

“Figuring out what I can get rid of, what I can saddle you with, and what I need to take with me.”

“So it’s official then, you’re leaving Polis?”

“I am,” Lexa confirmed confidently. “There’s no reason for me to stay. All my work shit is in Birmingham, the only reason I’ve been commuting is…” she trailed off, not needing to explain herself, Anya knew her reasons.

“I take it you signed the papers?” Anya asked.

Lexa nodded and stood up, wiping dust off on her jeans as she did so. “Speaking of papers, I have something for you to sign.”

“What’s that?”

Lexa walked into the kitchen and withdrew from a drawer a packet of papers then handed it to Anya, who had followed her into the kitchen. “I need you to sign these.”

“You’re signing the house over to me?” Anya asked, shocked, as she flipped through the packet.

“I don’t need it.”

“Clarke’s name is still on the deed.”

“I’m getting the house in the divorce. It says so in the agreement papers. And I don’t need the house, so you can have it back.”

“I’m not signing this Lex,” Anya shook the papers at her. “Not after you used to go on and on about how you’d never leave this house. That you’d live here until you turned grey and sat on a rocker outside.”

“That was when Clarke was in the picture, which she’s not,” Lexa crossed her arms.

“I’ll take the papers,” Anya relented, “But I’m not signing these until after you’ve moved to Birmingham, lived there for six months and decide you’re not moving back. Okay?”

“Fine,” Lexa sighed. “So why did you stop by anyway?”

“I was in the area.”

“Bullshit.”

“Would you believe me if I said I was concerned about my little sister and wanted to see how she was doing after everything that happened last night?”

“Nope,” Lexa responded as she walked away, ready to return to the task she’d been in the middle of before Anya had interrupted her. “You can leave now.”

If Anya had been anyone else, if she had been an overprotective, talkative, sister, she probably would have stayed and forced Lexa to speak, but she wasn’t. Instead, she left, just as Lexa had asked her to do. Lexa knew that she would eventually find herself talking to Anya over a bottle of whiskey or a couple of beers in a few months, when enough time had passed that she could process everything. After everything was blown over. After it was already too late for her to change anything.

Lexa sighed as she picked up the DVD box from the top of the pile, looking at it as she realized it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 3. She groaned, unable to escape Clarke even as she packed up her house.

 


 

Clarke and Lexa had been together only two months before Abby found out about the relationship. Although, in a small town like Polis, it was surprising that she hadn’t found out earlier.

It was the day before Halloween, and after coming home from school, Clarke had set about finishing up her Halloween costume. She’d managed to convince her friends to all go as characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Wells was Angel, Bellamy was Spike and was even dyeing his hair for the occasion, Monty was Xander, Lincoln was Giles, Maya was Willow - also dyeing her hair - Jasper was Oz, and Lexa was Faith. Bellamy had teased that he should get Octavia to be Dawn, but the seventh grader was never asked, as Bellamy really didn’t know her that well. Clarke was going as Buffy.

While the series finale of Buffy had aired just over two years earlier, everyone was still pretty much obsessed with the show, they’d practically grown up with it.

Clarke was in the middle of sharpening up her stake when her mom entered the room. “Hi Mom,” she greeted her. “Wait until you see how epic this Buffy costume is going to be. Lincoln is going to look the best though; I found a pair of glasses for him at the Salvation Army and was helping him the other day, he’s going to look like a younger, blacker Giles.”

After years of pageants as a child, Clarke was the go-to costume helper. She had an eye for fashion and fixing a costume with nothing more than a scrap of fabric, a needle and thread.

“Clarke, where were you today after school?” Abby asked. Clarke looked up from her work and saw her mother standing in the doorway, arms folded across her chest.

“Just hanging out with my friends outside the Piggly Wiggly, like we do everyday. Why?” Clarke asked, Abby normally didn’t care where she went after school; after all, she hardly ever strayed from her routine.

“Who were you with?” Abby continued to question her, her voice stern.

“Just the normal crew,” Clarke responded, confused as to why Abby was acting so weird. “Lincoln, Wells, Lexa and Bellamy. Jasper and Monty had detention.”

“And what exactly were you doing?”

“What’s with the questions, Momma? We were just hanging out, nothing out of the ordinary.”

“So what you’re saying is that Mrs. Kane was imagining things and that she didn’t see you KISSING Lexa?”

Clarke’s jaw dropped and her hand started to shake, she clutches the stake tighter, hoping to stop the shaking.

“I’m going to take your silence as a yes, that you were in fact kissing Lexa,” Abby spat. “Why on earth would you do something so gross as kiss another girl?”

It was the disgust in Abby’s voice that angered Clarke. “Yes. I was kissing Lexa. And you wanna know why? Because she’s my girlfriend. Yeah, that’s right. I don’t just mean friend that’s a girl, I mean girlfriend as in we kiss, make out, do other things, the whole shebang.”

An argument with her mother wasn’t exactly Clarke’s plan for coming out, but however she did it was going to end in an argument, she figured she might as well go all out.

“You are NOT a lesbian,” Abby insisted. Clarke contemplated agreeing with Abby, telling her that she was in fact bisexual, but didn’t want to have Abby hold onto any hope that she was breaking up with Lexa. “You are never to see that disgusting girl again.”

Clarke gasped in shock. Lexa had been one of Clarke’s best friends since childhood, Abby had always liked Lexa, or at least tolerated her the way she had Clarke’s other friends.

“You can’t keep me away from her,” Clarke argued back.

“Yes I can,” Abby scowled, “You are MY daughter and you live under MY roof. I can do whatever I want. And I WILL prevent you from seeing her.”

“Just try,” Clarke spat back. She grabbed her backpack, threw her Buffy costume into it and zipped it up. She then quickly brushed past her mother.

“Just where do you think you’re going, young lady?”

Clarke didn’t answer her mother, but rather quickly ran out of the house. She picked up her bike and pedaled down the driveway before Abby even made it out onto the porch.

Clarke didn’t even realize she’d been crying during the ten minute bike ride to Lexa’s before until she turned onto the girl’s street and her vision became too blurred. She wiped at her face and dropped her bike onto the Woods’ yard.

She didn’t bother knocking, instead she swung the door open and walked in. “Lexa?” she called out weakly.

“Clarke, is that you?” Lexa’s voice echoed from down the hallway. Moments later, the brunette reached Clarke in the living room. She took in the tears falling down Clarke’s flushed cheeks and immediately rushed to her. She placed her hands on either side of Clarke’s face, and voice full of concern, asked, “Clarke, baby, what’s wrong? What happened?”

“My…my mom. She found out a-about us,” Clarke stuttered. “She told me I’m n-never allowed to see you again and th-that we were disgusting.” And suddenly, the short sniffles grew louder and her tears fell heavier, she fell into Lexa’s chest and clutched at her shirt.

Lexa held Clarke tightly against her, rubbing her back reassuringly. “It’s okay Clarke, I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.” She then managed to move them so that they could sit comfortably on the couch.

Once sitting, Clarke crawled into Lexa’s lap as she continued to cry and Lexa held her, muttering reassuring words into her hair. It didn’t take long for Clarke to cry herself to sleep, mentally and physically exhausted. Lexa didn’t mind the girl sleeping on top of her, she simply stroked her hair soothingly while she slept.

Clarke woke after about an hour. “Did I fall asleep?” she asked, groggily as she looked up at Lexa.

Lexa nodded and rubbed a thumb over Clarke’s cheek. “How are you feeling?”

“Like I hate my mom,” Clarke grumbled in return. “I can’t go back there.”

“Stay here,” Lexa suggested. “At least for tonight. Give your mom some time to calm down and talk to your dad; he’ll make her realize that she’s being crazy.”

“I hope so,” Clarke muttered. The blonde then stood up off of Lexa’s lap. Lexa watched as her girlfriend walked across the room and turned on the television, putting a DVD on. It was Buffy, season 3. Clarke then quickly returned to the seat she’d left, this time bringing a blanket with her and cuddled back onto Lexa’s lap.

By the time they’d made their way through their third episode, they were engaged in a heated make out session. Clarke’s hand was under Lexa’s t-shirt and sports bra, Lexa had her hands underneath Clarke’s shirt, resting on the blonde’s hips where her thumbs moved in circles on the bare skin. They’d yet to go further than some under-the-shirt groping and mild over-the-clothes grinding.

Lexa’s thumb had just brushed beneath the elastic of Clarke’s underwear when the door slammed open. They jolted apart in surprise, but when Anya entered the room, she simply laughed at them. “You know you have a room with a door for a reason, Lex.”

Lexa grunted in response.

“So eloquent. I have a date, so you kids have fun and be safe.”

“It’s not like I can exactly knock her up,” Lexa snarked back.

“Shame,” Anya shook her head. “Because in this town, teenage pregnancy is more the norm than teenage lesbians.” Anya completely accepted Lexa and Clarke’s relationship; she had no problems with it. Her timing, however, wasn’t great.

Lexa looked at Clarke as her face fell at Anya’s words. Anya, however, didn’t seem to notice and left the room to get ready for her date. Lexa’s face was full of concern for Clarke.

“I’m okay,” the blonde offered with a smile. She stood up and pulled Lexa with her, dragging her into Lexa’s bedroom, closing and locking the door behind them.

Lexa gulped as Clarke pushed her back onto the bed and then, standing above her, stripped off her top and unclasped her bra, letting it fall to the ground. Lexa stared up in awe at Clarke’s bare breasts, her heart rate sped up at Clarke stepped out of her jeans and climbed onto the bed, straddling Lexa.

The blonde grasped at the bottom of Lexa’s shirt and looked at her with the question on her face. Lexa nodded and allowed Clarke to lift the shirt off her body, followed by her sports bra. After Clarke unbuttoned Lexa’s pants, the brunette lifted up slightly off the bed so Clarke could drag the garment off of her.

Suddenly, the two girls were sitting together on the bed, both only wearing cheap boyshorts. “Are you sure you want to do this?” Lexa asked nervously.

In response to Lexa’s question, Clarke kissed her, one hand on her bare breast, the other wrapped around her back. Lexa deepened the kiss and pulled Clarke on top of her, a hand between Clarke’s legs, cupping her mound.

Clarke squirmed at Lexa’s touch and moaned into her mouth, pulling back moments later so that she could breathe.

“I’ve never…” Lexa admitted.

“I know Lex,” Clarke smiled. “I haven’t either. And you know that too.”

“I know,” Lexa nodded.

“We’ll just do whatever feels good, figure it out as we go along,” Clarke suggested.

As Lexa nodded, Clarke used the girl’s distraction to shift her body so that she could kiss her way down Lexa’s body. When she reached the last remaining garment on the girl, Clarke pressed a kiss to the wet fabric and pulled it down the girl’s long legs.

Lexa unravelled below her not long after Clarke first dragged her tongue through Lexa’s folds, submitting herself to the girl’s tongue and fingers, surrendering to her control.

 


 

Clarke woke the next afternoon, her head pounding, to the sound of her phone ringing in her pants’ pocket. She groaned as she pulled it out of her uncomfortable tight jeans, trying to remember how she’d gotten home and she hadn’t taken her pants off before falling into bed.

Without opening her eyes, Clarke unlocked the screen and held the device up to her ear. “Hello?” she groaned.

“Did I wake you or something?” the voice returned. Clarke immediately registered it to be Raven’s voice. She grunted in assent. “Please tell me you’re home.”

“No,” Clarke muttered. “I’m still in Alabama.”

“Wait, what?” Raven yelled into the phone, causing Clarke to lift it from her ear, the sound doing no favors for her raging hangover. “I thought it was just a one day trip to tell your parents about the engagement?”

Clarke opened her eyes and slowly lifted herself into a sitting position. Her vision went dark for a moment from the change in posture, but quickly returned. “Rae, there’s a reason I don’t talk too much about my hometown and growing up.”

“You grew up on that big planation, right? Oh, wait. You’re about to tell me that your family isn’t cool with having a Latina girl as your Maid of Honor, right? And they’re not too fond of you having your other best friend here, who’s a gay, black man.”

“No, no that’s not it,” Clarke reassured the girl. She took a deep breath before admitting the truth to her New York friend for the first time. “I came back because I needed to get my ex to sign divorce papers.”

There was a moment of silence before Raven’s voice returned on the other end of the line, “I’m sorry, for a second I thought you said that you were already MARRIED.”

“I am,” Clarke sighed. “We've been done for five years; one signature and it’s over.”

“So you have a secret husband you never thought to tell your BEST friend about?”

“Actually…” Clarke trailed off. “Not a husband. A wife.”

“I actually have no idea who you are,” Raven scoffed. “Because the Clarke Blake I know is straight. She would’ve told me if she weren’t because you know, we could have bonded over our shared bisexuality.”

For a moment Clarke considered telling Raven that she had lied about her entire upbringing as well, that she wasn’t part of the elite Blake family, but rather the lower-middle class Griffin family, but decided against it. She’d already dropped enough bombs on her friend. It wasn’t that her entire friendship with Raven was a lie, she’d told her some, but she’d also told her that she didn’t like to talk about her childhood. She’d told her about Wells and what happened to him after they’d been friends for a few months, but then had used him as an excuse to avoid further conversation about her childhood and Polis, Alabama.

“I”m still your best friend,” Clarke insisted. “I’ve just been trying to leave my whole life in Polis behind.”

“I know,” Raven sighed. “And I get that. We’ve all got skeletons in our closet, right? I’m assuming that Finn knows though, right?”

“Not exactly,” Clarke admitted. “It’ll all be over soon though. He’ll never have to know.”

“Sounds like the start to a healthy marriage,” Raven scoffed. “Sorry, that wasn’t very nice. You’re right, if it doesn’t matter, then I guess he never needs to know.”

“I’ll tell him,” the blonde offered. “Eventually though. When the time is right. When I’m back in New York.”

“So when are you coming back then?”

“Hopefully soon.”

“Okay, I’ll let you go nurse your hangover now then,” Raven laughed.

“How’d you know I was hungover?” Clarke asked, wracking her brain to see if she could remember telling Raven she was hungover, or worse if she’d drunk texted people the night before.

“I know your hangover voice, Clarke. Now go get some Advil and water, get your ex to sign those damn papers and come home so we can start planning your wedding!”

“Okay. Bye Rae.”

Clarke hung up the phone and decided to scroll through it to make sure she hadn’t made any drunken calls or texts. She hadn’t. She did, however, have a text from Finn that she had received several hours earlier.

 

Finn: Hope all is well in Polis and you’re having fun with your old friends! Miss you and love you.

The moment Clarke read Finn’s text, she remembered all the horrible things she’d said to her supposed friends the night before. She groaned as it all came back to her. She remembered fighting against Monty and Jasper, unfairly accusing Lexa of killing Wells and being a total asshole to Lincoln and Octavia. She didn’t know Octavia as well as the others, since she was several years younger, but she knew Lincoln, he’d always been one of her best friends. Kind, soft-spoken and fiercely loyal Lincoln. She’d been horrible to him and his wife. He’d practically accused him of raping the girl, something she knew he would never do.

She groaned again as she realized that she had no right to be as horrible as she was. And now she had to apologize. The first people that deserved her apology were Lincoln and Octavia, so she fought her hangover as she quickly changed into old jeans and a Polis High t-shirt before walking down the hallway.

“Sure looked like you had quite the night,” Abby spoke as Clarke entered the kitchen. “What were you doing with that girl anyway? You’ve got a perfectly good fiance. You don’t want to go messing it up.”

“I’m not messing anything up with Finn,” Clarke sighed. “I was a bit of an ass to everyone else last night though. You think we can make some of your apple pie so that I can bring one over to Lincoln and Octavia’s?”

Abby took a moment to look at Clarke’s face, trying to determine if Clarke was really trying to keep her distance from Lexa. “Okay,” she finally nodded. “Now lemme show you how to make it so you can make it for Finn back in New York.”

Clarke smiled at her mother and joined her. This was what she’d always wanted growing up, right? To be close to her mother and have her teach her family recipes. And to have a great job and husband as well, right? Getting out of Polis had always been a priority for her, hadn’t it? Clarke tried to avoid the thought sneaking in, the one that told her that no, she’d never wanted to leave Polis. She’d loved the small town until only months before she left.

She pushed the thoughts away and continued working side-by-side with her mother.

Chapter Text

Having not planned on staying in Polis for long, all of Clarke’s clothes that she’d brought with her were dirty, so she’d been forced to wear old jeans and a shirt she hadn’t worn since she’d left the town. After looking at her appearance in the mirror, Clarke had opted to only put on a light layer of make-up. She was surprised to see how much she looked like the way she had before she left, even now five years older. The biggest teller of change though, was the large diamond ring on her left hand.

It felt heavy. Out of place. The Clarke she was dressed as had once worn a diamond ring as well, but a much smaller one. One that had never felt like a weight on her hand. Clarke chalked the difference up to the physical weight of the ring. She’d get used to it, surely.

Clarke didn’t wait for the pies to cool before wrapping one up to take to the police station. Even if the town weren’t so small, Clarke would know the way to the police station like the back of her hand. Growing up, she was there way too often. She couldn’t even count the times she, Bellamy, Wells and Lexa had gotten caught tipping cows, drinking underage in public and conducting several crimes.

Clarke was had a face well known by the police department, and everyone chuckled as she entered.

“Clarke Griffin, walking into the police station of her own volition?” Officer Gustus scoffed. “Have we entered some kind of alternate universe?”

“Ha ha, very funny,” Clarke rolled her eyes. “Is Lincoln here?” She was still a bit shocked that Lincoln was the new sheriff, but she supposed it did make sense. His mother, Indra, had been the town’s sheriff for years and Lincoln had always expressed interest in following in her footsteps, even if he did have a habit of following Clarke and the rest of their friends into illegal situations.

“Should be in his office,” Officer Gustus gestured to the office in the back of the station.

“Thanks,” Clarke nodded before walking towards the back.

She knocked on the half-open door and Lincoln signaled to her to enter, his eyes never the paper he was leaving until Clarke cleared her throat. When he did look up, Lincoln looked at Clarke in shock, clearly expecting a co-worker to have interrupted his work and not Clarke.

“Clarke?” Lincoln questioned in confusion.

“Hi,” Clarke responded, awkwardly standing in the doorway. When there was a moment of awkward silence, Clarke suddenly remembered the pie she was holding. “I brought pie,” she spoke, holding up the pastry.

“What are you doing here Clarke?” Lincoln asked tersely.

Lincoln was always the most soft-spoken and calmest in their group of friends. Clarke and Bellamy were the ones most likely to take the lead, but always butt heads. Lexa was the strategist, when she took the lead for whatever prank they were pulling, everyone followed her without question, even if Clarke and Bellamy were the more outspoken ones. Wells was the voice of reason, always trying to reign the others in and get them to curb their loose morals. Often times it seemed as if Lincoln didn’t really have a role to play in the dynamic of their friend group, but they never would have been complete without him.

Lincoln was always the one to talk Bellamy off a ledge. He was the one to convince Lexa to step in between Bellamy and Clarke. He was the one to talk Wells into easing back a bit and having fun. He was the one who Clarke could share her passion for art with. In many ways, Lincoln was the glue that kept them all together, even if no one acknowledged it.

Even if she hadn’t already known how badly she’d fucked up, Lincoln’s tone would have sold it to Clarke.

“I’m an asshole,” Clarke sighed. Without waiting for Lincoln to respond, Clarke entered his office and sat in the seat across from him, setting the pie down on his desk where it wouldn’t sit on any important documents. “I’m not even going to use the fact that I was drunk as an excuse, because it’s not. There is no excuse for the way I treated you at Grounders. I can’t even believe I said what I did. I don’t believe it. I don’t know anything about your relationship with Octavia, but I do know that you’d never be anything but respectful to her. I know that, because I know you.” She pleaded with her eyes, hoping her old friend would forgive her.

“You’ve been gone for five years, I don’t know why you think you know me when I hardly recognize you.”

“I may have changed, but you haven’t,” Clarke insisted. “You always said you wanted to become sheriff, and now you have. You always said you wanted to find a drop-dead gorgeous girl and marry the hell out of her and you have. I’m just sorry that I lashed out at you the way I did.”

“We never really knew Octavia, none of us did,” Lincoln spoke, his face softening as he spoke his wife’s name. “Growing up she was just Bell’s illegitimate half-sister. She’s so much more than that though. She’s witty, smart and strong as hell in every sense of the word. It was her first week at the community college and her car broke down with a flat on the way back to Polis. I had the night shift and found her. She refused my help, saying she could change the tire herself. And she did.”

At the mention of a broken down car, Clarke’s stomach flipped. She saw the flicker of pain she felt echoed in Lincoln’s eye. She knew she was forgiven simply by the fact that he was sharing information with her, but the look they shared proved that he couldn’t hate her forever, not when they bore a guilt together that had changed both their lives forever.

“I told her to make sure she brought the car to the mechanics the next day, just in case. She tried to wave me off, but when I stopped by the repair shop the next day, she was there. This was after Lexa quit, so only Ryder was there, not even his dad, and he was arguing with her over the price of a tire. I called him out on the unfair price and he relented,” Lincoln continued to explain.

Clarke briefly registered the fact that Lexa had quit her good job at the mechanics, but quickly forgot about it in favor of paying attention to her friend.

“I’m not sure why, but Octavia let me take her out to dinner that night. She got pregnant a few months later, it wasn’t planned, but neither of us cared. We got married a few weeks after Wells was born.” He paused and Clarke felt her face paling.

“W-Wells?” she stuttered.

He nodded slowly. “He’s three now, and it’s crazy how much he takes after his namesake. He’s such a serious little dude. You’ll have to teach him how to play chess someday.”

Clarke’s heart started to race. She felt her eyes prickling and suddenly it was hard to breathe. She knew that coming back to Polis would result in her being forced to reckon with her past, but she wasn’t ready. She would never be ready to deal with the death of her oldest friend, the boy who she’d practically known since in utero.

Sensing Clarke’s discomfort, Lincoln reached forward and placed a hand on top of hers. “It’s okay to remember Clarke. You’re allowed to remember him, you’re allowed to mourn for him. But stop placing blame for his death. You called Lexa out for killing him, but we both know that isn’t true. And we both know that you blame yourself. Don’t.”

“It was a mistake to come back here,” Clarke took a deep breath to hold back her tears. “To come back here to Polis, I mean. I should have just forced Lexa into signing the papers another way, sent her more copies of them or something.”

Something flashed across Lincoln’s face, but Clarke couldn’t quite place what it was. It wasn’t sympathy or even anger, it was something else. Almost like a look of recognition, but Clarke had no idea what it meant.

“Maybe coming home was exactly what you needed,” Lincoln remarked.

“New York is my home now. I’ve lived there five years now.”

“Home doesn’t have to be a place Clarke,” Lincoln arched an eyebrow. “Octavia and our boys are my home. We could live anywhere, and they’d be my home.”

Clarke understood what Lincoln was saying; home wasn’t always a place, but could be a family, a person or a feeling. As much as Clarke wanted to immediately connect with what Lincoln was saying, to believe that Finn was her home, she couldn’t. She didn’t have that tether to him, that feeling of complete comfort. If home was comfort and love, then Clarke was homeless.

 


 

They’d been married a month when Clarke decided to make an apple pie. Thanksgiving was just around the corner and she was feeling festive. She knew that her mom would have pies for them the next week when she hosted the couple and Anya for the holiday, but Clarke felt the need to prove that she could continue on the tradition of making apple pies, using the recipe that had been passed down in her family for generations.

There was no written record of the recipe, but Clarke had seen her mom make the pie dozens of times before, she’d even helped her on occasion. Lexa offered to help her peel the apples, but Clarke waved her off, she could do it on her own.

She had just finished peeling the tenth apple when Lexa returned to their kitchen and wrapped her arms around her wife from behind.

“I have to go to work,” she sighed as she kissed Clarke’s neck. Lexa had a good job down at the auto body shop. She’d been working there since she was sixteen, but ever since she’d graduated high school, she’d been given more responsibilities at the shop, working full-time. The pay was good and between her salary and Clarke’s small salary as the assistant art teacher at the middle school, they were able to pay their bills and even open up a small savings account.

Clarke spent the afternoon working on the pie. Abby could whip up a homemade apple pie and make fresh whipped cream in less than two hours, but it took Clarke all afternoon. It was almost dinnertime by the time the pie was in the oven. She swore as she remembered that she still had to make dinner.

It wasn’t because she was the more traditionally feminine one that Clarke usually made dinner. It was just what her schedule allowed. She was always home from work before Lexa was. Lexa usually worked five days a week, having off Sundays and Mondays and always made dinner the days she was off. Today was Saturday though, and Clarke still hadn’t prepared anything.

She was only eighteen and Lexa was not yet nineteen. They were in those in-between few months when they were still the same age. Neither of them had the most exquisite taste buds, but Clarke still tried to make their dinners more exciting than just pasta, and so did Lexa. Realizing that Lexa would be home in less than an hour though, Clarke relented and put some spaghetti in a pot and opened a can of pre-made tomato sauce.

When Lexa arrived back home after work, covered in grease from the truck engine she’d been preparing, the smell of a fresh baked pie was the first thing she noticed. She smiled at the smell as she opened the door, not having to unlock it as it never was locked.

“Holy fuck that smells delicious,” Lexa announced her presence to her wife who was straining pasta in the sink.

“Hey babe,” the blonde grinned. She moved the now-empty pot back to the stove and approached Lexa. She pecked her lips, carefully avoiding touching the brunette anywhere else. “You’re gross. Go clean up then we’ll eat dinner so that we can get to dessert.”

“What kind of dessert are we talking?” Lexa smirked as she turned around.

Clarke slapped Lexa’s butt as she walked away, “Right now, just apple pie. But if you’re lucky, then maybe we’ll talk about something else.”

“By something else you mean sex, right?” Lexa laughed, turning to walk backwards into the bathroom, eyes trained on her wife.

“Yes,” Clarke rolled her eyes. “I mean sex.”

“Just checking,” Lexa winked.

Once Lexa was cleaned up, the couple sat down and ate their dinner.

“If I’d made meatballs, we coulda done the whole Lady and the Tramp scene. I coulda nudged you my meatball, then we’d eat the same noodle and we’d end up kissing,” Clarke grinned, a bit of sauce still on the corner of her mouth.

“Or I could just kiss you because you’re my wife. I get to kiss you anytime I want,” the brunette laughed. She leaned across the small table and licked the sauce off Clarke’s mouth, before kissing her lips.

While Lexa cleaned their dishes, Clarke cut the pie and squirted canned whipped cream onto the slices. They then sat back down at the table, forks raised.

“It’s a little burnt,” Clarke huffed.

“Not really,” Lexa insisted. “Just crispy.” Lexa was right. The pie wasn’t burnt, but it was a bit overcooked.

“Alright, you take a bite first, I wanna know what you think,” a large smile spread across the blonde’s face.

Lexa nodded and took a large forkful of the pie, stuffing it in her mouth. She kept her expression controlled as she chewed and smiled. “It’s good,” she offered with a weak, fake smile. It wasn’t. It was terrible. Lexa had to forcibly try and not cough it up. There was way too much cinnamon in the apple mixture and the crust tasted like pure dough, despite the fact that it was overcooked.

“Oh my god it’s horrible, isn’t it?” Clarke’s face dropped, seeing right through Lexa’s fake smile.

“It’s not horrible!” Lexa insisted.

Needing to taste it for herself, Clarke put a forkful in her mouth. She started to chew, but had to spit it up into the napkin she was holding. “It’s horrible,” Clarke coughed.

Lexa watched as Clarke’s eyes started to tear up and immediately stood up, walking around the table so that she could wrap her arms around the girl before the tears fell.

“I just wanted to make a pie,” Clarke cried. “I didn’t think it would be that hard. I just wanted it to be like my mom’s.”

Lexa stroked Clarke’s hair and held her as she cried, offering her reassuring words until Clarke stopped crying and began hiccuping.

“It’ll be fine,” Lexa cooed, brushing through blonde locks with her fingers. “We don’t need pie anyway. What do you say we go splurge on some pumpkin flavored beers? Those are a thing, right?”

Clarke wiped her eyes and looked up at her wife, nodding.

 


 

Lexa didn’t read through the paperwork until after she’d signed it. She knew that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but despite everything, she trusted Clarke not to fuck her over.

Her trust was well-founded, something she realized after she finally did read through the paperwork. It was quite simple really. There wasn’t much for them to split in ownership, as they’d been living entirely separate lives for five years. The paperwork was simply the dissolution of their marriage. Lexa was to retain ownership of everything they co-owned in Polis, including the contents of their bank account.

Lexa knew that when Clarke had the paperwork drawn up that she didn’t know that their joint account contained much more money than it had when Clarke had left. Everything new there was what Lexa had earned, the same way everything Clarke had in her bank account was what she had earned in New York. There was no reason to split those assets, they already were.

With her house mostly packed up, Lexa was conducting business from Grounders, enjoying the time she had left in Polis. She’d be back, of course, it’s not as if Birmingham was terribly far away, but things would be different in Birmingham. She already spent a lot of time there with her business, but there would be no more days of hanging out at Grounders with Anya during the day and staying to get drunk with the gang at night.

It was time though. She really should have been in Birmingham full time by now, but nostalgia had kept her by her roots. Or at least that’s what she’d told herself. She knew the truth. She’d been holding onto the hope that Clarke would come back. And now that she had, there was no reason for Lexa to stay. Not with what Clarke’s return meant.

“I guess I should get these papers to Clarke,” Lexa spoke, talking more to herself than to her sister who was doing the bar’s accounting beside her as she finished up her own company’s paperwork for the month.

“You probably should,” Anya nodded, not looking up from her calculator.

“Okay, I’ll be back later,” Lexa stood up, shuffling her papers into a neat pile.

“Have fun,” the older woman waved, eyes still trained on the device.

Lexa waited an extra moment before walking out the door, hoping that maybe Anya had some sage words of advice for her. When she didn’t, Lexa took the divorce papers that she’d stuffed in an envelope and walked out the door.

She’d planned on driving over to the Griffin’s house, but stopped beside her car when she saw Clarke walking out of the police station. She knew by the way Clarke was holding herself and clenching her fists, that something was wrong.

Lexa watched as Clarke approached the ostentatious rental car and opened the door. Before Clarke could get in, however, Lexa yelled out to her. “Clarke!”

Clarke spun around, searching for the source of the announcement. Once her eyes found Lexa’s, Lexa hustled across the street and met Clarke beside her car.

“Here are your papers,” Lexa stated, handing the blonde the envelope. “I signed them, you can check.”

Clarke shook her head. “I believe you.” As if to prove her point she sealed the envelope.

Not wanting to linger around her now ex-wife, Lexa turned to leave.

“Wait,” Clarke spoke, causing the brunette to turn around with a sigh. “I’ve umm…I’ve sort of got a whole list of people that I need to apologize to. You’re on that list.”

“Oh yeah?” Lexa asked, folding her arms across her chest as she leaned against the nearby light pole. “Have you apologized to Linc and O yet, because I’m pretty sure they should be at the top of your list.”

“I was just talking to Lincoln,” the blonde gestured to the police station behind her.

Lexa didn’t respond, she wasn’t really sure how to. This was all new to her. In the past, knowing how to respond to Clarke was almost second nature. She used to know Clarke better than she knew herself. She’d been able to anticipate everything she sad and did. Now she had no idea.

“I’m sorry Lexa,” Clarke sighed. “I was drunk and should have lashed out the way I did.”

“So you don’t think you’re better than the rest of us?” Lexa asked, honestly wondering what Clarke’s answer would be.

“I don’t…” Clarke paused. “We’re just different is all. We’re in different paths of life.”

Lexa glared at her, not believing how pretentious she was acting. She didn’t even offer the blonde a response.

“There’s nothing wrong with that though,” Clarke spoke, clearly trying to cover her tracks. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend the rest of your life in Polis, that’s just not what I want.”

“You used to love Polis,” Lexa spoke, her voice softening unintentionally. Clarke had been the one who’d dreamed of raising their kids in Polis, going to high school football games with the rest of the town every weekend and living a simple life as an art teacher.

Lexa knew exactly when that all had changed. She even know why. But she never understood it. Clarke leaving was the one thing Lexa had never been able to fully understand.

“I don’t hate it here,” Clarke spoke. Her words sounded more honest than anything she’d said to Lexa since arriving back in Polis. “I just, New York is just…it’s my home now. I’m happy there.”

“Well I’m glad your happy then,” Lexa nodded. She was. All she’d ever wanted was for Clarke to have everything she ever wanted, and it seemed like she finally did. Even if those wants appeared to be nothing like what Lexa had known them to be for almost their entire lives.

“I’m sorry I accused you of killing Wells,” Clarke finally got to her apology. “And I’m sorry I’ve been a bitch to you, even if you did kind of deserve some of it. I was wrong to have accused you of killing Wells though. That was uncalled for.”

“Thanks, I think.”

“I don’t want to leave here and go back to New York hating you, or having you hate me,” Clarke’s words continued to be laced with an unprecedented tone of honesty. “It’s just not worth it. It’s not worth tainting all the good memories I have of being here. Of being with you.”

“And the brief amount of time you though you were attracted to girls?” Lexa responded with a snarky tone of voice.

“It wasn’t brief.”

“Three years dating, two years married, I guess that is a long time to be living a lie,” Lexa bit back. She couldn’t help her tone reflect the hurt she felt over Clarke lying. Lying about their relationship, lying about her feelings and the love she had felt for Lexa.

Lexa waited for Clarke to deny it, to say that it wasn’t all a lie. But she didn’t. Not with words anyway. She thought she saw a flicker or pain pass across Clarke’s face, and that’s all she needed. She knew there would be no winning Clarke back anymore. Too much time had passed. Clarke had moved on. That one fleeting look of regret though, was enough for Lexa to extend an olive branch.

“Look, I know I should probably tell you not to come, but I know how much you love the Catfish Festival,” Lexa sighed. She ran a greasy hand through her hair, not caring if it dirtied it. “And I know you’re going to hate yourself if you don’t fix what you fucked up with everyone else, even if you don’t care about me. You apologized to Lincoln, yeah, but you hurt everyone.”

Lexa couldn’t look at Clarke’s face while she spoke, not wanting to see the truth of Clarke’s hate for her there. Instead she stared to the side of Clarke’s face, taking in the disgustingly flashy rental car behind her.

“The Catfish Festival is tomorrow, and you should come. Everyone will be there.”

Clarke appeared to be surprised by Lexa’s offer. “I don’t know if that’s the best idea. Nobody is going to want me there, considering what happened the last time I gate crashed an event.”

“As long as you apologize and aren’t an asshole at the fair, I don’t think they’ll mind seeing you,” Lexa offered. “We all loved you once upon a time. You used to love us too.”

“Yeah, I did,” Clarke nodded.

“So I’ll see you tomorrow then?” Lexa asked hopefully, not sure why it was that she was so hopeful. There was no reason for her to be. Was there?

“Maybe, yeah,” Clarke nodded.

Lexa nodded in response before turning to leave. She didn’t turn back as she walked back across the street to Grounders. She didn’t turn back until she was back inside the bar where she could watch the blonde without being seen. She looked through the windows and watched Clarke still standing outside the police station.

She watched as the blonde clenched the envelope tightly. She appeared to be wrestling with something, deep in thought. Clarke ran her fingers through her hair and even from across the street, Lexa could see the blonde’s hands shaking. She wondered what was going through Clarke’s mind, until Clarke approached the blue mailbox, opened it and shoved the envelope inside before walking briskly back to the car.

The flashy sports car passed right by the bar, and Lexa was able to see inside the window. She was able to see Clarke with one hand on the steering wheel, the other furiously wiping tears off her face.

Chapter Text

Growing up, the day of the Catfish Festival had always been Clarke’s favorite day of the year. Not her birthday, not Christmas, not even Halloween. No. The Catfish Festival was her favorite day. It somehow managed to always fall on the best Saturday of the summer. It was never too muggy, it was never too hot. It was just sunny enough without being overwhelming.

There had never been a year where Clarke hadn’t thought that the Saturday of the Catfish Festival was the best day of the year. That included the year she and Lexa were married. She had a feeling though that this would be the first year where she would be attending the festival and it wouldn’t be her favorite day of the year.

Nevertheless, Clarke decided that if she was going to go to the festival, then she’d at least enjoy it. She’d enjoy the ferris wheel, all the different fair foods, line dancing and drunken debauchery.

Going all in also meant dressing for the part, blending in with everyone else, and that was something that she was struggling with. It was already nearly noon and the festival was in full swing and Clarke was still in her childhood bedroom, tearing apart her closet trying to find something to wear.

She managed to find a pair of cutoff jean shorts that fit her, along with an old white tank and a red flannel that she would throw over it once it got cooler in the evening. Shoes, however, were a problem. Everyone wore cowboy books to the Catfish Festival and her nice pair of Frye’s were in New York. Not that she’d ever worn them up north.

“Mom!” Clarke yelled out, sticking her head out her door. “Do you have boots I can borrow?”

Clarke stood there waiting, listening as Abby rummaged around her closet making loud noises. A minute later, she walked into the hall holding up a pair of boots. Clarke mentally face palmed herself at the sight of the boots.

“I’ve only worn them a few times since you left, but that’s why they weren’t in your room,” Abby explained as she handed the boots to Clarke. The cowboy boots were brown on the feet but had the pattern of the American flag on the upper sides of boots.

Clarke offered her mother a fake smile and took the boots from her. As far as Abby knew, they were just boots she’d left at home. She didn’t realize the significance of them. Though now, she wasn’t sure they had any significance.

Shaking off the residual memory, Clarke thanked her mother and put on the shoes.

“You riding with me and Dad to the festival?” Abby asked before she turned to leave.

Clarke contemplated for a moment, remembering her resolve to not leave any bridges burnt before she left to return to New York. “Yeah, sure,” she nodded.

“Help me load the pies into the car, then we’ll go.”

“Great, I’m ready,” Clarke nodded as she followed her mom down the hallway to the kitchen.

Less than twenty minutes later, Clarke and her parents had arrived at the fairgrounds. Clarke spotted the food tables and helped her mom bring over her famous pies. She made small talk with her mother’s friends, friends who had once condemned her as doing the devil’s work.

“Your momma was just telling us yesterday at book club about your engagement,” Vera Kane spoke.

“She even showed us the article in the New Yorker,” another friend confirmed. “Good to see that you’ve finally found yourself a good man and turned your life around. Left the devil behind you. You know, I always thought you were just as bad as the Woods girl, but I guess she was just influencing you all along.”

Clarke bit her tongue. She was used to the remarks from her mother’s friends, but in the past she’d always lashed back at them. This time, however, she stayed quiet. The last thing she wanted to talk about was Lexa. Ever since mailing the papers to her lawyer, she’d been avoiding thinking about her ex. The finality of placing the papers in the mailbox had hit her much harder than she had expected it to and she didn’t want to think about what that meant.

“Now let’s not talk about such things on such a festive day,” Abby interrupted, not taking her friends’ side for once. “Haven’t we gotten past that all?”

When Clarke looked at her mother in shock, she caught sight of a group of people at a picnic table over her mother’s shoulder.

“Sorry, I’ve got to go,” she spoke. She left her mom behind and approached the picnic table.

“Wells Forest, I swear if you throw one more chicken nugget at your brother, then there will be NO dessert,” asserted the pregnant woman, hands on her hips, long dark hair up in a ponytail.

“I’d listen to your Momma if I were you,” Clarke spoke as she approached the table, slipping back into her southern accent as if it were the easiest thing in the world.

Octavia turned to look at the blonde in surprise.

“Hi,” Clarke spoke sheepishly.

“Clarke,” the brunette nodded.

“I umm, I wanted to apologize,” Clarke admitted. “I was seriously in the wrong the other night. Basically I was a…” she paused and looked over at the two boys. “B-I-T-C-H,” she spelt out.

Octavia laughed out loud, “Those two little ones know the world bitch. I’m not exactly known for having the cleanest of mouths.” She looked between Clarke and her children before speaking again. “Kids, we’re going to have ourselves a little visit from Miss. Griffin, so let’s be nice.” She then gestured for Clarke to sit down with her family.

“I’m Wells,” the older boy spoke. “I’m three.”

Clarke grinned at the boy, he didn’t look at all like the Wells she had grown up with, but Lincoln was right, there was something about him that reminded her of her old friend. “It’s nice to meet you Wells,” Clarke grinned. “And what’s your name?” Clarke turned towards the younger boy.

“Link,” the younger boy responded.

“But Daddy calls him Junior,” Wells added.

Clarke smiled back at the boys and Octavia quickly inserted herself in the conversation, clearly glad to be talking to someone over the age of three. They talked for over an hour before Lincoln came and joined them, bringing with him Bellamy, Jasper and Monty. Lincoln appeared to be content with that fact that Clarke seemed to be on good terms with his wife. The others, however still appeared apprehensive.

Clarke was surprised by the way Bellamy stood protectively behind his sister. They’d never had much of a relationship growing up, separated by nature of their births, but he was a natural brother to her and acted as such.

“Alright,” Clarke sighed. “Group apology time. I’m sorry I’m such an awful person.”

 


 

They’d graduated from high school nearly two months earlier and the day of the Catfish Festival was one that Clarke and Lexa had been looking forward to since graduation. But for different reasons.

Clarke had always loved the festival, and while Lexa had as well, she had a new reason to be excited for it.

For their senior trip, the graduating class had gone to Birmingham. While they were there, Lexa and Clarke had bought matching pairs of cowboy boots, designed with an American flag print on them. They had been impulse buys, but with all the compliments they received on them as they wore them for the first time at the Catfish Festival, they were worth it.

They spent the day with their friends, eating food, dancing and enjoying themselves, but once darkness fell, Clarke let Lexa lead her over to the ferris wheel.

As they made their way up to the top, they talked about their day, taking breaks to make out.

“I wonder if people have sex in these things,” Clarke asked out loud. “I mean, you’re high enough up that people can’t see in.”

“That’s a good question,” Lexa laughed before returning her lips to Clarke’s neck, distracting herself until they reached the peak of the ferris wheel.

It was once they reached the peak that Lexa pulled the ring out of her pocket. It had on it only a small diamond, but the ring was more than that to her. She couldn’t quite get down on one knee, but Clarke knew what was happening the second Lexa reached into her pocket.

“Oh my god!” the blonde squealed. “Yes!”

“But I haven’t even asked the question yet,” Lexa frowned with a chuckle.

“Okay, okay, sorry,” Clarke attempted to settle down a bit.

“Clarke, I know we’re young. I’m eighteen and you’re seventeen still for two months, but I’ve loved you a long time. You were my first kiss, and I want you to be my last. Clarke Griffin, will you marry me?”

“Yes!” Clarke exclaimed, kissing the brunette fervently as the ring was pushed onto her finger.

Clarke didn’t have to ask about the ring, because she knew. Lexa had already told her that her mom’s ring had been given to Anya and Lexa, and that Anya had decided that Lexa could have it, as she was the one that would be proposing to someone one day. Anya never had any plans to marry.

Clarke didn’t have to ask about the ring, because she knew. She knew it was the most important thing Lexa had left of her mother who had died when she was so young. The size of the ring didn’t matter, because the size of the heart of the girl that gave it to her was the most important thing in the world.

And because she loved Lexa. More than anything. And Lexa loved her just as much.

 


 

Lexa didn’t arrive at the Catfish Festival until it was well underway, as she had been finishing up moving everything out of her house. The festival was in full swing when she arrived. Teens were wandering around, sneaking away with beers, children were in line for the ferris wheel and adults enjoyed drinking in each other’s company while many hit the dance floor.

“Is was starting to think you weren’t going to show up,” Bellamy spoke, coming up alongside of Lexa, handing her a beer.

“I was getting some packing done,” she explained. “I officially move on Monday.”

“No shit,” the man shook his head. “It’s going to be weird without you here.”

“I’m hardly here as it is,” Lexa offered. “Work keeps me in Birmingham.”

“Have you told Clarke yet why it is that you’re moving away?” Bellamy asked.

“It doesn’t matter,” Lexa shrugged in response.

“Whatever you say. Come on, we’ve got a table.”

Lexa nodded and followed Bellamy over to where her friends all surrounded a picnic table, drinking beers. She immediately noticed the blonde sitting with them, laughing alongside Octavia at something Lincoln had just said.

“Lexa!” Lincoln looked up at Lexa’s arrival with a smile. “You finally made it.”

“I’ve never missed a Catfish Festival before, no reason to start now,” Lexa announced. She hadn’t purposely tried to catch Clarke’s eyes as she spoke, but it was as if she was magnetically drawn to them. And Clarke looked right back at her. There was a softness in Clarke’s eyes that Lexa had not been expecting.

“These glasses are really something,” Clarke spoke, changing the topic as she lifted up the glass she was holding and looked underneath it.

“What’re you doing?” Monty asked.

“Trying to see who makes it. Maybe they have a store up in New York.”

“Did you hear that Lex?” Jasper spoke. “Clarke’s wondering where that fancy glassware comes from.”

“Okay,” Lexa shrugged, trying to appear as nonchalant as possible. “I don’t know how to help her with that.”

There was a moment of awkward silence before all of a sudden, the band playing, started a new song - “Sweet Home Alabama.” The crowd went wild everyone immediately hit the dance floor.

Bellamy grabbed Clarke and pulled her onto the dance floor saying, “Come on, it’s been too long since we’ve danced together.” Lexa watched as she laughed, following him.

Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the Southland
I miss Alabamy once again
And I think its a sin, yes

It wasn’t until Clarke was already on the dance floor that Lexa noticed the shoes the blonde was wearing. The same American flag cowboy boots that were on her own feet. Lexa hadn’t even thought about the meaning behind them when she’d put them on that morning, they were just another pair of boots now. But seeing them on Clarke still hurt a bit.

Well I heard mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don't need him around anyhow

Lexa watched as Clarke laughed, making fun of Bellamy’s two left feet. Catching Lexa’s smirk, Bellamy danced his way over to the brunette, Clarke in tow. He took Octavia from Lexa’s side and handed Clarke off to Lexa. Lexa raised her eyebrows at the blonde. A moment passed and it seemed like an eternity before Clarke extended a hand and Lexa took it, letting herself be pulled onto the dance floor by the woman she gave her heart to.

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you

It was almost like nothing had happened, that they were still sixteen and in love, eighteen and engaged, twenty and blissfully in love, having no idea that their time was limited. Dancing with Clarke was second nature to Lexa, something that terrified her.

In Birmingham they love the gov' nor (boo, boo, boo)
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth

She didn’t want to think about the way Clarke smiled as she moved to the beat of the song. She couldn’t afford to, not anymore. She wouldn’t let herself fall back for Clarke, because love was weakness and she’d learned that the hard way.

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you
Here I come Alabama

They continued to dance together, their bodies several inches apart, but they were alone on the dance floor. Everyone else had paired up.

Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they've been known to pick a song or two
Lord they get me off so much
They pick me up when I'm feeling blue
Now how about you?

“I didn’t realize how much I missed dancing like this,” Clarke laughed over the music.

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you

“They don’t have any dancing up in New York?” Lexa asked with a smirk.

“It’s not the same,” Clarke admitted. “We have clubs, they can be fun. But nothing like dancing at the Catfish Festival.”

Sweet home Alabama
Oh sweet home baby
Where the skies are so blue
And the guv'nor's true
Sweet Home Alabama
Lordy
Lord, I'm coming home to you
Yea, yea Montgomery's got the answer

The song ended and the band immediately switched to a slower song. Lexa took a chance and took one of Clarke’s hands in one and placed another on the girl’s waist. The blonde hesitated before she gave Lexa’s hand a slight squeeze before placing her other one on Lexa’s shoulder.

Lexa didn’t register what song it was at first, too focused on the proximity she was to Clarke. When she paid attention to the lyrics though, Lexa could feel the blood rush from her face and her stomach dropped.

When did you stop loving me
You let me down so perfectly
And you walked away so easily
Baby, tell me, when did you stop loving me

Lexa tripped over Clarke’s foot as the weight of the song hit her.

“Sorry,” she muttered.

Tell me, when did you give up on us
Did I love too much or not enough
And is there someone else you're thinking of
And when did you give up on us

Suddenly, it was too much for Lexa to handle. She could handle dancing to “Sweet Home Alabama” with her ex, but suddenly the song playing hit too close to home. She couldn’t handle it.

Is this really how you want it to end
With a lie of love
And the loss of a friend
Now I'm scared of loving anybody else again
Is this how you want it to end

“I’m sorry,” she shook her head and pulled away from Clarke before walking away.

Baby, tell me, when did you give up on me
Did you give up on me
When did you give up
When did you give up

As she walked away, she noticed that Bellamy and approached Clarke again, but being too far away, she didn’t hear their conversation.

“She went up there, you know,” Bellamy spoke.

“Where?” Clarke asked.

“To New York.”

“What? When?” Clarke voice was alert with surprise.

“About a few months after you left,” Bellamy explained. “She got there and saw the city, said that you were never coming back. She said she’d need more than just an apology to win you back. Said she needed to conquer the world first. She’s been trying ever since.”

Lexa didn’t hear the exchange between Bellamy and Clarke, but if she had, she would have been able to see the look of devastation on Clarke’s face as she realized that Lexa had tried to fight for, had tried to get her to come home.

Oh, tell me, when did you stop
When did you stop
When did you stop loving me, yeah

When did you give up?

After leaving Clarke on the dance floor, Lexa left to find Anya, needing another beer. She wasn’t a heavy drinker anymore, but she still enjoyed herself. After a couple of hours, however, she was ready to go home.

Knowing that she was likely going to be drinking, she’d opted not to drive, and was walking home. She was meandering her way home when she passed by the cemetery. She did a double take when she saw a familiar blonde kneeling in front a headstone.

Lexa’s feet moved of her own accord, leading her into the cemetery. She purposely walked around the graves so that she didn’t startle Clarke.

“Hey,” she announced her presence to the blonde.

“Hi,” Clarke responded with a sniffle, wiping tears out of her eyes.

Lexa walked around to the same side of the headstone that Clarke was on, knowing exactly who it belonged to.

“He’d be really proud of you, you know,” Lexa spoke, sitting down beside her ex, wrapping an arm around her. “He always said you were better than this town.”

“He said the same about you,” Clarke rested her head on the brunette’s shoulder. They sat that way in silence for several long moments. “I miss him a lot. Or at least, I always thought that it was him that I was missing. Being back here though, I realize that it might not just be him that I’m missing.”

“Oh?” Lexa asked.

“Yeah,” Clarke nodded. “I think I missed Polis more than I wanted to admit. I was just lying to myself about it.”

“We all miss him. And I think everyone here misses you too.”

“I’m happy in New York,” Clarke sighed, “But then I come back here, and this fits as well.”

“You can have roots and still fly Clarke.”

“Maybe I can just fly south for the winter?” Clarke asked with a laugh.

“You know, I go back to that beach sometimes,” Lexa spoke, knowing that Clarke would know exactly what beach she was talking about. “When I see the big thunderheads rolling in, I go out there, try and see what I can dig up.”

After several more moments of silence, Clarke lifted her head off Lexa’s shoulder and stood up, pulling Lexa up with her.

“It was nice dancing with you tonight,” Clarke admitted.

“I’m sorry I didn’t get to dance with you at our wedding,” Lexa offered up her own admission. It was one of her biggest regrets of her life, getting too drunk the night before her wedding and getting sick right after the ceremony.

“We both have shit to apologize for,” Clarke nodded, grabbing Lexa’s hand and squeezing it. “I’ve got another of my own.”

Lexa narrowed her eyes at the blonde, wondering what else she could be apologizing for. She stepped closer to the brunette until there was almost no space between them.

“I lied about never loving you,” Clarke spoke. “I lied when I said I was straight and that I regretted being with you. I don’t. And I’m not straight.”

Lexa’s eyes darted down to Clarke’s lips, then back up again to her eyes, only to see that Clarke’s had just done the same.

“Clarke,” Lexa sighed.

“Shhh,” Clarke hushed the brunette, pressing a finger to her lips. She then pressed her lips to Lexa’s cheek.

Chapter Text

It was a crisp fall day, just a week after their two year wedding anniversary and Lexa was drunk before dinnertime even came.

“Jesus Lex, we’re just having a night at home, do you really need to get trashed?” Clarke asked after Lexa started hiccuping as they at macaroni and cheese.

“I’ve only had a few beers is all,” Lexa shrugged, her mouth full of the cheesy goodness.

“I just don’t get why you need to get drunk almost every night of the week!”

“Well there’s nothing else to do in this shitty town,” Lexa explained. “I work a shitty ass job all day and maybe I just want to come home and have a few beers with my wife, is that really so hard to understand?”

“What’s wrong with Polis?” Clarke asked, frustrated, always having loved the town she grew up in, even if it was a bit dull at times.

“Don’t you want more?” Lexa practically pleaded. “I wanna see the northern lights with you. I wanna take a boat ride in Paris and ride one of those double decker buses in London with you. I want to drive down the coast of California and camp on the beach every night. I want to go to New York and see a Broadway show even though I hate musicals, just because I know you love them. I just want more!”

“Why does it matter to you so much?” Clarke asked, her voice laced with anger. “Why isn’t Polis good enough for you? Why can’t you be happy having me here, why do you need me in all those crazy places? Why can’t you just be happy having a life here with me? You’re starting to sound like my mother!”

“Don’t you think we deserve better than this?” Lexa spoke, suddenly sounding more sober than she had all day.

There was a long pause before Clarke spoke again “Maybe we do.”

Lexa ran her hands through her hair, her nervous tick. “I’m sorry Clarke,” she apologized.

“I know,” Clarke nodded.

“How’s your dinner?” Lexa asked, having made the meal while fairly tipsy.

“Cheesy and delicious,” Clarke grinned.

Lexa noticed a bit of cheese on Clarke’s lower lip, so she tentatively reached out a finger and brushed it off.

“Thanks,” Clarke spoke.

“Are you sure I’m enough for you?” Lexa asked. “Just me, in Polis?”

“I don’t need to be anywhere else, because no matter where we are, you’re the only thing I’ll be looking at,” Clarke answered honestly.

Lexa heart skipped a beat and she smiled a drunken grin that Clarke wiped off her face with a kiss.

 


 

As she was officially moving to Birmingham the next day, Lexa decided to meet up with Bellamy and go out on his ATVs with him, racing around for a bit. While Birmingham wasn’t too far from Polis, Lexa knew that with her business, she’d been fairly busy in the upcoming months, and probably wouldn’t have time to come back much.

Lexa pulled her car up to the Blake mansion, arriving at the front of the house, surprised to find an expensive looking sports car in front of it. While the Blake were the richest family in the county, they were old money, and practical with it. None of them drove fancy cars, opting instead for high quality trucks and pickups. For a moment, Lexa wondered if it was Clarke’s rental, but then remembered Clarke’s car being red whereas the car in front of the Blake’s house was blue.

She parked her car and exited, walking up the front walk. The man turned around and Lexa immediately knew who he was. He was wearing a tailored suit, his brown hair floppy in a pretentious sort of way. He held himself like a politician. Lexa’s guess was quickly proven correct as he extended his hand to her when she met him at the door.

“Hello, Finn Collins.”

“Lexa,” she responded tentatively. “What’re you doing here?” As far as she knew, Clarke wasn’t at the Blake house, she was at her own parents’ house.

“I’m surprising my fiancée,” Finn smiled.

Confused, Lexa decided to play along. “And who might that be?”

“Clarke…”

“Griffin,” Lexa nodded at the same moment that Finn said, “Blake.”

“I didn’t know Clarke was such a common name,” Finn spoke.

Lexa nodded, as if she understood why he was giving Bellamy’s last name to the blonde. Thankfully, she was saved from having to make further awkward conversation when the door opened and Bellamy walked out, clearly surprised to see that Lexa was not alone.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“I’m Finn Collins, I’m here to see my fiancee. Clarke Blake,” Finn extended his hand. Bellamy hesitantly shook it.

“I’m Bellamy. Bellamy Blake.”

“Blake?” Finn raised an eyebrow.

Lexa quickly caught Bellamy’s gaze, wondering if he knew what was going on.

“Yeah,” Bellamy nodded, “She’s my uhh…cousin?”

“That’s right,” Lexa nodded, “And I’m uhh…her other cousin?”

“Family!” Finn grinned. “It’s great to meet some of Princess’ family!” Lexa cringed at the name he called her ex-wife. She couldn’t imagine the Clarke ever being okay will the nickname. “Is she home?”

Bellamy looked at Lexa and Lexa shrugged slightly. “She’s uhh…why don’t we take you to her?” Bellamy asked.

“Sounds great!” Finn enthused, “Gotta love that southern hospitality.”

Together, the three of them piled into Lexa’s truck, Finn sitting between Lexa and Bellamy. There were several long moments of silence as Lexa pulled out of the Blake’s driveway and onto the main road before Finn finally broke through the awkwardness.

“So, who’s Clarke Griffin?” he asked. “Since she seemed to be your initial guess as to who I was here to see.”

“An old friend we went to high school with,” Bellamy responded.

“Oh nice,” Finn nodded.

“Crazy as shit she was,” Lexa shook her head, unable to stop the words from escaping her mouth as she remembered her rebellious youth.

“How so?” Finn asked.

“She was always getting into trouble,” Bellamy interjected. “But for good reasons though. Like the time our friend Jasper’s dad had an affair, Clarke got us all to teepee his house and throw eggs at his dad’s truck.”

“She sounds like a loyal friend,” Finn remarked.

“She was,” Bellamy responded.

Before Finn could ask why Bellamy had spoken in past tense, Lexa interjected her own story. “When we were fifteen, our friend Monty’s cat got cancer and it was real bad. His Dad didn’t have the money to pay for treatment so they had to put it to sleep, but Clarke had read somewhere that the way they did it was by sucking the air all outta the cat’s lungs and she thought that was inhumane. So she came up with a better idea. They were doing construction out by the new highway so we went and stole some TNT. She strapped it to ole Fuzz’s back and lit it up and ran like hell.”

“Only, it didn’t catch right away,” Bellamy added. “So Fuzz musta run into the bank because a minute later the whole building blew up. Luckily no one was inside though. But the thing is, Fuzz musta wiggled out of the dynamite, because people say they still see him around, burnt tail and all. He’s a bit skittish around people though.”

“She sounds like a crazy one, funny how different she is to my Clarke,” Finn spoke thoughtfully. Lexa couldn’t help but agree. “What happened to her?”

Lexa knew that the moment of pause after Finn’s question meant that Bellamy was allowing her to answer the question, allowing her to control the narrative. “Oh you know,” she shrugged. “She married some loser right out of high school and they settled down with shitty small-town jobs.”

Luckily, Finn wasn’t given the chance to ask any follow-up questions, as they’d arrived at the village green where Lexa knew that Clarke was helping out her father at the flea market that always took place the day after the Catfish Festival.

It didn’t take them long to find Jake Griffin’s tent where he sold old football memorabilia that he had collected over the years and antique rocket parks he’d inherited from his own father. Clarke spotted them always immediately and despite the years of separation between them, Lexa could still read Clarke’s face like a book and could tell that she was caught completely off-guard by Finn’s presence.

Finn, however, didn’t seem to notice Clarke’s discomfort as he immediately hurried over to her and pulled her into a searing kiss. It was almost like he didn’t even notice her reaction at all.

“You and I are in love with two completely different women,” Lexa spoke under her breath. Or at least, she thought it was under her breath.

“Wait, what?” Finn asked as he pulled away from Clarke.

The blonde herself appeared nervous and quickly looked between Lexa and the two men in front of her; Finn and Bellamy.

“Finn, this is Lexa,” she gestured towards the brunette. “She’s my umm…ex-wife.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Finn looked around in confusion. “Did you just say ex-wife?” Clarke nodded. “You married your cousin?”

“My what?” Clarke asked. “She’s not my cousin.”

At that moment, Jake Griffin finally noticed that his tent area had visitors and quickly discerned who the well-dressed stranger was. He approached the group of four just in time to make things more awkward. He extended his hand to Finn as he spoke, “You must be Finn, great to finally meet you. I’m Clarke’s dad, Jake Griffin.”

Lexa watched as the pieces clicked into place behind Finn’s eyes.

“YOU’RE Clarke Griffin?” he asked, his eyes wild. “You’re the one that blew up a cat and egged some guys car and married someone right out of high school?”

Clarke appeared confused, as if she didn’t know how Finn knew that about her, but quickly caught Bellamy’s gaze and he shared with her a look that explained it all. “I can explain,” she pleaded.

“Who even are you?” Finn asked, before turning to walk away.

Chapter Text

“What the fuck did you tell him about me?” Clarke exclaimed, fists on her hips as she stared down Lexa while Finn walked away. Before Lexa responded however, Bellamy interjected himself into the conversation.

“It’s not her fault,” he explained. “We were thrown off by the fact that he called you Clarke Blake, so he asked who Clarke Griffin was. We just told him who you were.”

“Yeah” she asked, fists still on her hips. “And who exactly was I?”

“Someone who cared about a cat not suffering. Someone who felt your friends’ pain. Honest,” Lexa spoke up. “And a loyal friend.”

Clarke’s arms dropped to her side as she watched her ex-wife turn and walk away, leaving her to her own thoughts.

Bellamy drove Clarke in her car back to her house where her mom was waiting. He let Clarke rant at him, briefly mentioning the fact that Clarke wouldn’t have to worry about Lexa anymore, as she was moving. Clarke didn’t register the words though.

Clarke had texted her to tell her what had happened and as soon as she opened the door, her arms were around Clarke. She hugged her and rubbed her back. She gave her the kind of comfort Clarke had needed many times over the years, but never received.

“Why does this keep happening?” she cried as Abby held her, leading her to the couch where they sat, Abby continuing to rub Clarke’s back.

“Finn isn’t Lexa,” Abby tried to reassure her daughter.

Abby’s words caused Clarke to pull away and look up at her mom. “No, Lexa never walked away from me. I walked away from her. And Finn walked away from me. If anything, it’s karma.”

“You just caught him off guard is all,” Abby sighed. “He’ll be back. He loves you.”

“He loves Clarke Blake,” Clarke rubbed at her eyes. “He loves the fashion designer who grew up with a rich plantation family. Not redneck Clarke Griffin.”

“It doesn’t matter where you come from Clarke,” Abby explained. “It’s about where you go. It’s about what you do with your life. And look at you, look at all you’ve done. You’ve left this town. You’ve made something of yourself. That’s all I ever wanted for you, to have the best you could have.”

“All you ever did was push me away and put down my decisions until I finally left this place.”

“That’s because you deserved better Clarke! Sure, when you first started dating Lexa I was put off by the fact that she was a girl, but that’s not why I didn’t want you two together. I knew you could do better than her. You’re better than this town and I didn’t want you anchored down to this place when I knew you could fly away. I didn’t want this life for you,” Abby gestured around to their small home.

The pieces finally clicked into place in Clarke’s mind. She finally understood why her mom had pushed her into pageants, had insisted that she stay away from Lexa, had cheered for her when she’d moved to New York.

“You didn’t want me to turn out like you, that’s it, isn’t it?” the blonde asked. Abby nodded. “Momma, there’s nothing wrong with your life. There’s nothing wrong with this town. There’s nothing wrong with being you.”

Clarke wiped away the last of her tears just in time for the front door to open. Jake walked in first, followed closely by Finn, carrying a bouquet of flowers.

“I found him walking down the highway, tryna find his way back here,” Jake spoke, gesturing to Finn.

“I’m sorry,” Finn spoke, hurrying over to Clarke, handing her the bouquet. “I overreacted. I showed up here unannounced. You have a past, I get that. I understand. I’m sorry I didn’t let you explain.”

“I guess I should explain then,” Clarke stood up, accepting the flowers. “My name isn’t Clarke Blake. I just borrowed the name from my friend because I was ashamed of where I came from. But I’m not ashamed anymore. I’m Clarke Griffin and this is my home,” she gestured around to the small abode. “It’s not much, but it’s home.”

“It’s beautiful,” Finn smiled. “Because you’re in it.” Clarke blushed and Abby clapped her hands together and covered her mouth in excitement. “We haven’t met yet Mrs. Griffin, but I’m Finn Collins, and if she’ll still have me, I plan on marrying your daughter.”

Abby eagerly shook Finn’s hand as he extended it to her. “Please, Abby is fine.”

“Will you still have me?” Finn asked, turning back to Clarke. Clarke nodded with a smile.

“I was actually thinking,” Clarke spoke. “I was thinking that maybe we could get married here in my hometown.”

Finn was silent for a moment, thinking about the suggestion before a smile broke out across his face. “I think that’s a great idea Princess. Everyone in New York will be expecting us to get married at the Plaza next June, what do you say we push it up and get married here next month?”

“I’d love that,” Clarke smiled before leaning forward and pressing her lips against Finn’s.

“A wedding!” Abby exclaimed. “And in a month! Good Lord, we’ve got a lot of planning to do!”

After pulling out of the kiss, Finn turned to Abby. “I don’t want you folks worrying about the cost of anything. My mother is more than willing to cover the cost.”

“Now that’s not right,” Jake interjected, finally speaking after standing in silence for several minutes. “We want to help to. Let us at least cover the rehearsal dinner.”

“Alright then,” Finn nodded.

They started planning that very night over a bottle of bourbon that Jake had been saving for a special occasion. Abby was the one who suggested he break it open and Jake agreed to do so, hiding his hesitation from his wife and daughter and her fiancé. When he’d bought the bottle, this wasn’t the special occasion he had in mind, but it seemed like that occasion wasn’t likely to happen anymore.

They flew back to New York two days later. Clarke remained in New York for two weeks, pulling strings in the fashion world to get a wedding dress on short notice while planning the event. Invitations were sent out to all the important people in both Clarke and Finn’s lives.

After completing all the tasks she needed to get done in New York, Clarke headed back to Alabama. Finn would be flying down the week after her with his mom. She wasn’t alone though, she flew back with her two best friends from New York, Raven Reyes and Nathan Miller.

“I still can’t believe you’re getting married in ten days,” Raven shook her head as she rolled down the window on the passenger side, resting her arm just outside of it.

“I still can’t believe she was married less than a month ago,” Miller chimed in. “You move on fast.”

Clarke rolled her eyes at her friends as she drove the rental down the Alabama highway. “The divorce was just a legal thing. It’s not like I’ve really been married this whole time.”

“Still,” Raven shrugged. “It’s still a bit unbelievable.”

The entire time Clarke had been doing wedding preparations, she’d had to force herself not to think about Lexa and not to think about the last time she got married. And how different the whole event had been. She’d never realized how much more complicated a wedding was when you had money to burn. She almost felt like she was putting on a show for her town and for all their friends that were flying down to New York. When she’d married Lexa, it hadn’t been a show. It had been a party more than anything else, a celebration of their love, a celebration for all their friends to enjoy. Or at least, it was supposed to have been. If Lexa hadn’t gotten so drunk the night before.

Clarke heard Raven and Miller continuing to talk, but was stuck in her own thoughts until she saw a sign that caught her eye. It read “Deep South Glass - Next Exit”.

“Oh my god!” she exclaimed. She pointed to the sign. “That’s it! That’s the glass I was telling you about Rae!”

“Well then, get off the next exit and we’ll check it out,” Raven laughed.

“I could use a few more martini glasses,” Miller announced.

Once Clarke got off the exit, she followed the signs up a dirt road until she reached a large barn on a lake. The parking lot was fairly crowded. The place seemed to be pretty popular, sitting in the outskirts of Birmingham. She parked the car alongside a dirt-covered truck and walked up to the store alongside her two friends, aware that they looked slightly out of place in their couture outfits.

For the first time in a long time she wished she were wearing old jeans and flannel and cowgirl boots.

Together, the friends wandered around the store. It was a beautiful store. The barn setting let in rays of light through open windows, shining through the glassware. Clarke ran her fingers over glasses of all shapes and sizes, marveling at it.

Clarke paused when she found Raven staring at a section that she hadn’t gotten to yet. They were figurines. They looked almost like fingers intertwining, something that Clarke knew could only be made in nature.

“Most people don’t know what happens when lightning strikes sand,” Clarke explains, referring to the sculptures. “It makes glass. You just have to wait for it to cool, then you can dig it up.”

“They’re beautiful,” Miller affirmed, joining his two friends. “They literally look like frozen lightning.”

“They basically are,” Clarke nodded. Her eyes scanned the figurines, stopping as soon as they reached the statue in the middle of them all. She could never forget that glass sculpture. Two fractured pieces of lightning, intertwining. It had sat at the center of her and Lexa’s home. She’d seen it still there when she’d first returned to Polis a few weeks earlier.

And now here it was, sitting alongside similar pieces. But it wasn’t the same. None of the others had been dug up by two girls on the beach after they experienced their first kiss. This one watched a first kiss and million others after it. It saw a relationship come to life and fall apart. And here it was, for sale. As if it didn’t mean a thing.

In the back of her mind, she remembered Bellamy saying that Lexa was moving to Birmingham for work, and the realization hit Clarke like a truck. She turned around just in time to see the store’s owner, the artist behind every piece of work in the barn, walking down the steps that led to the store’s restaurant.

Clarke’s feet were moving before of their own accord and she met Lexa halfway, Miller and Raven standing just a few feet behind them.

“Dibs,” Raven whispered to Miller, lifting her eyebrows and glancing over Lexa’s form appreciatively.

Miller watched the way Clarke and the woman she had walked up to drank each other in, looking at each other not as strangers, but as people who saw one another’s souls and understood everything behind defensive eyes.

“I think she may already be taken,” Miller responded.

“Welcome to Deep South Glass,” Lexa finally spoke, gesturing around her. “If you find anything you like, just someone with a name tag know and they’ll be happy to ring you up.”

“Lexa,” Clarke sighed. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“What was there to say?” Lexa responded, her face hardened and resolute. “You made up your mind about me a long time ago.”

Clarke wanted to say something, but she didn’t know what she could possibly say. She wanted to know why Lexa hadn’t announced her success to her. She wanted to know why Lexa never told her that she’d run after her.

She wanted to know when Lexa gave up on her.

“Now if you’ll excuse me,” Lexa nodded at Clarke and her friends before walking away.

Clarke followed Lexa with her eyes as the woman walked away.

“That was her, wasn’t it?” Raven nodded.

All Clarke could do was nod and wonder how her life turned out the way it did. How her best friend became a stranger in a shop.

 


 

Fall hit Alabama in the form of colorful leaves and sweater weather, the last vestiges of summer finally creeping away with each fallen leaf.

It was Clarke’s idea to head to the creek. It was about an hour’s drive from Polis, so they planned on spending the day there then camping for the night. But as plans tend to go, they went a little wrong and they got a little lost.

So instead of arriving at the creek by midday, it was already well into the afternoon when they arrived packed into two cars. They wasted no time breaking open beers and stripping down to swimsuits.

It didn’t take them long to get suitably drunk, wading in the creek water with a floating cooler. It wasn’t long before the sun fell and the temperature dropped, causing everyone to want to dry off. Monty, using his boy scouts skills, fixed them up a fire on which they grilled hot dogs.

They’d stocked up on cases of beer, no longer having to worry about sneaking them, now that Bellamy was twenty-one, even though the rest of them were still twenty. The night wore on, Bellamy played music from his portable speakers and they talked about everything while tossing back beers.

No one was drunker than Lexa though. And when Lexa got drunk, she got handsy. The married couple sat together on a blanket with another blanket wrapped over their shoulders. Lexa shifted the blanket so it no longer just fell off their shoulders, but fell in front of them, obscuring their bodies from view.

Clarke was distracted, talking to Lincoln about some art project, when Lexa slipped her hand down the front of her wife’s pants. Clarke jolted in surprise at the contact. When Lexa pushed a finger inside of her, she moaned audibly.

“Oh my god!” Bellamy exclaimed. “Are you two fucking right in front of us?”

Clarke’s cheeks burned red. Lexa smirked. Clarke subconsciously shifted her hips, pushing Lexa’s finger deeper inside of her. This time Lexa moaned, more from surprise than anything else.

“That’s hot,” Jasper grinned.

Lexa pulled her finger out and sucked on it.

“Don’t you think that’s a little much?” Clarke muttered.

“No, definitely not,” Jasper shook his head.

When Clarke scooted a few inches away from Lexa, everyone seemed to get to move on and eventually it was suggested that they play truth or dare. The game quickly evolved into a game of just dares, with Monty and Maya skinny dipping together and Jasper giving Bellamy a lap dance. Lincoln was even dared to kiss Wells.

After Lincoln dared Lexa to drink a beer without using her hands, Clarke began to grow nervous about how drunk Lexa was getting.

“Lex, I think you need to stop drinking,” Clarke insisted after Lexa finished the drink.

“I’m sorry,” Lincoln shook his head. “I wasn’t really thinking.” Clarke brushed him off. It wasn’t his fault that Lexa didn’t know when to stop.

“I’m fine Clarke,” Lexa insisted, her point not taken seriously as she hiccuped halfway through her sentence. “So it’s my turn to to give a dare to Wells?”

“I can kiss Lincoln again if you want,” Wells teased. Everyone laughed as Lincoln puckered his lips.

Lexa looked around and touched a finger to her lips, thinking, while simultaneously hiccuping. She smiled as she observed the cliffs they’d been jumping off earlier that afternoon.

“I dare you to jump off the high cliff,” she pointed to the ledge above the one that they’d been leaping from earlier.

“Is that safe?” Lincoln asked.

“I don’t see why not,” Lexa shrugged. “We’ve jumped off it in the past, haven’t we?” Everyone shrugged and nodded in agreement. They’d each jumped off the higher cliff multiple times in past years.

“Do I have to?” Wells pouted. “It’s cold out.”

“Maya and I just went skinny dipping!” Monty exclaimed, still huddled beneath a towel. “We’ll have a towel waiting for you.”

“Don’t be a pussy,” Lexa rolled her eyes. “If it makes you feel better, I’ll do it with you.”

“Double dare!” Jasper exclaimed.

Lexa grinned at Jasper’s cheer and stood up, wobbling a bit.

“You’re not fucking jumping off a cliff in this state,” Clarke spoke through gritted teeth.

“Jasper already called the double dare, no turning back now,” Lexa smirked.

“I’m taking your place then,” Clarke insisted. She stood up and pushed Lexa back down onto their blanket. “If it has to be a double dare, I’ll do it.”

“My wife is so chivalrous,” Lexa drunkenly smiled.

Clarke rolled her eyes at the brunette as she stripped down to her swimsuit alongside Wells. Despite how annoyed she was by Lexa’s drunken state, Clarke couldn’t help but think that Lexa was adorable trying to control her hiccups. Before she and Wells left to climb the cliff, she leaned down and gave Lexa a lingering kiss, eliciting hoots and hollering, mostly from Jasper.

Lexa tasted like beer. She tasted familiar. It wasn’t a particularly spectacular kiss. A little sloppy. If she had known it would be their last before their relationship fell apart, maybe Clarke would have tried a little harder, lingered a little bit longer.

The kiss was over just moments after it started and Wells and Clarke started too walk up the cliff while their friends chatted. When they reached the top, the two lifelong friends walked to the edge. Wells was on Clarke’s left, closer to their friends.

“Jesus fucking Christ, it’s like ten degrees colder up here,” Clarke exclaimed, rubbing her arms up and down as they waited for their friends to notice that they’d reached the top.

“Switch sides with me,” Wells insisted. “This way I’ll block a bit of the wind and you won’t have to swim as far to get out.”

“You sure?” Clarke asked. Wells nodded and they switched sides without a second thought.

Once they got in position they waved their friends down and they turned their heads to face the jumpers.

“You ready for this?” Wells asked, his eyes lit up by the reflection of the moon off the lake many feet below them. He wore a slightly mischievous smile. Clarke would never forget that smile. He lifted his hand up and Clarke high-fived it.

“On the count of three,” Clarke began. “One…two…three!”

Together the two friends jumped. Clarke screamed and Wells laughed. Clarke hit the water and it felt like icicles piercing her skin.

Clarke was a good swimmer, so she easily pushed her way up to the surface, shivering. She wanted to get to shore as quickly as possible and warm up, now that she was suddenly stone sober.

“Wells, I’ll race you!” she yelled out.

When she didn’t hear a response, she turned around. She couldn’t even see him in the water, but it was dark. She turned her head back to the shore to see if he’d somehow managed to swim ahead of her. He hadn’t, but all her friends were standing up, no longer sitting.

And that’s how she knew something was wrong. She could barely make out their faces and for some reason her brain couldn’t process the fact that they were yelling something at her. So she swam over to where Wells must have landed.

The sight of his body nearly made her gag. It made her legs stop moving and she nearly started to sink. There was a long, sharp tree branch stuck sticking straight out of the water and Wells had landed on it. It had gone straight through his neck, nearly decapitating him. He would have died on impact.

Clarke wasn’t sure how long she waded there in the water, a foot from her oldest friend’s body, but it wasn’t long before Bellamy and Lincoln swam out to her, Bellamy taking her in his arms and swimming her back to shore while Lincoln retrieved Wells’ body, not sure what else to do.

Clarke left Polis the day after Wells’ funeral. She’d been mute until that day, not being able to say a word. That morning though, she blew up, yelling at Lexa. Blaming her for Wells’ death. She ran away to New York, unable to face the life behind her. Needing to start over.

She never told a soul what happened at the top of the cliff before they jumped. Never told a soul about the fact that she and Wells switched positions. That she was the one who was supposed to be dead.

 


 

The week following Clarke’s surprising appearance at her store, Lexa had grown more and more restless. She woke up alone each morning in her new, unfamiliar home, feeling out of place. She went to work, each day bringing her more and more customers. On the days she didn’t walk the floor of her store, she dedicated her hands to the glass, making more and more.

The lightning glass was one of the most popular collections she sold, and also the most expensive because of the nature of how they were made and collected.

She took the price tag off the oldest piece, the piece that had been made on a beach beside two girls sharing their first kiss. It stayed on display, but she couldn’t sell it anymore.

The first time she saw Clarke’s number come across her caller ID, she thought it was a mistake, so she didn’t answer.

Then she kept calling.

And Lexa kept ignoring her calls.

Anya had told her all about how Polis was being turned on its head for the Collins wedding and the last thing Lexa wanted to do was talk to Clarke. She didn’t even want to think about why should would even possibly be calling.

It didn’t help that she was homesick for Polis. Having now spent more time outside of it, more than three weeks, than she had ever spent away from the town in her entire life. She missed Anya. She missed Bellamy and Lincoln, even Jasper and Monty. She missed the familiarity of knowing where everything was in the Piggly Wiggly. She even missed awkwardly trying to avoid Abby Griffin around town.

She didn’t mean to dial Anya’s number, but after another five calls from Clarke one morning, she needed to hear her sister’s voice.

“Well look who finally decided to call,” Anya laughed. “I was starting to think you cut yourself on some broken glass and there was no one to find your body.”

The reality of Anya’s tease stuck with Lexa. She had employees in Birmingham, but she had no friends there, no family.

“Very funny,” Lexa sighed back.

“Alright, I’ll bite,” Anya responded. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

“Bullshit,” Anya called her out on her lie. “I know when something is bothering you. So I’ll ask you again, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

Instead of forcing it out of her, Anya took the conversation into her own, knowing exactly what was likely to be bothering her sister. “Clarke’s getting married this weekend.”

“I know,” Lexa spoke back, calmly. “And why am I supposed to care?”

“You know, you’re pretty quick to let go of something you’ve been holding onto for so long.”

“I can’t control her anymore than I can control the weather,” Lexa admitted.

“There’s supposed to be a nasty storm here Saturday, you coming for it?” Anya asked.

“Yeah,” Lexa responded. “I’m only coming for the storm though. The lightning glass is popular and I need some more. So I’m only coming to go down to the beach.”

“Whatever you say.”

“I’m serious Ahn,” Lexa insisted.

“Okay.” There was a moment of silence, both sisters waiting for the other to end the conversation. “So I’ll see you Friday?”

“Yeah.”

“There’s still time you know.”

“Goodbye Anya.”

Lexa hung up the phone and knocked her head against the doorframe. If it weren’t for the fact that she needed to try and make more of the lightning glass, she wouldn’t be anywhere near Polis the weekend of Clarke’s wedding. The last thing she needed was to see the town celebrating the nuptials.

She was done. She was done with Clarke. She was done hoping, done trying to prove to the blonde that she could be more. She had to start living for herself. She couldn’t keep living in the past.

So why then, was she so quick to go back to Polis the one weekend she knew would hurt her most?

Chapter Text

Ever since running into Lexa at her store, Clarke was feeling more confused than ever. For five years, she’d been thinking of Lexa as the way she was when she left her, a bit of a drunk who stood for everything that Clarke needed to leave behind. She’d never thought that Lexa could change, let alone become so successful in a field that was so different than anything Clarke could have imagined her doing.

Lexa was a better person without Clarke around, and that realization hurt Clarke more than she expected.

Clarke spent the week before her wedding making sure that everything was perfectly planned while Abby fretted over every detail and made sure that her guests, Miller and Raven, were well fed, something they were both grateful for.

Something still felt off though, it was the week before her wedding and she knew she should have been feeling elated. At first she chalked it up to stress, but she knew that wasn’t the case. Clarke was a planner and her wedding, despite being short notice, was going to go off without a hitch. She wasn’t stressed. She just felt that something was missing. When she brought her concerns up to Raven, Raven pointed out that it was probably because Finn wasn’t around; he was still in New York. Clarke knew that wasn’t it though.

It didn’t take her long to realize that what felt off wasn’t her wedding, but the fact that she was in Polis, about to celebrate the most important day of her life, and she was missing the two people she’d cared about more than anyone. She was missing her two best friends, the two people who made Polis what it was.

And she couldn’t have either of them. Wells was dead and Lexa was gone. Wells had been her Best Man when she’d married Lexa. He’d been the one she’d turned to whenever she had a freak out about anything to do with the wedding.

And now it wasn’t the wedding she was worried about, but rather how she would get through it without her best friend by her side. Without either of them.

So she called Lexa. She needed to hear her voice. Even if only for a moment. Calling her over and over again probably wasn’t the best idea, especially since her ex-wife continued to ignore her calls, but that didn’t stop her.

Finn and his mom arrived in Polis two days before the wedding. Luckily, they were staying at the hotel in town so the Griffins didn’t have to worry about anymore guests, but the night they arrived, Abby prepared a special four course meal, pulling out the recipes for all the family classics.

Despite the fact that she was a politician, well practicing in lying through a smile, Julia Collins didn’t try very hard to hide her disgust with Polis and the Griffin’s modest home.

Dinner was more or less a disaster between Julia’s snide remarks about their modest home and Abby’s high-carb and high-fat cooking and Jake’s questioning of Julia’s political strategy.

Long after Finn and Julia had gone back to their hotel and Raven and Miller had settled into their own separate hotel rooms, Clarke found herself out on the back porch of her parents’ home, alone. She’d finally given up calling Lexa and was stewing in her own thoughts. Stewing in memories that refused to leave her alone.

Clarke was pulled out of her melancholy by the sound of the back door opening behind her. She turned around to see her father exiting the house.

“Mind if I take a seat?” Jake asked, gesturing the empty space beside his daughter. Clarke nodded and scooted over a bit to make room for him. “So Abby’s mom is a walk in the park compared to Julia.”

Clarke laughed out loud at Jake’s statement. It was so to the point and accurate that she couldn’t not. “Family functions will definitely be interesting to say the least.”

“Remember the first Christmas after you married Lexa?” Jake asked.

Clarke nodded immediately. Of course she remembered. By that point, Abby had begrudgingly accepted the fact that there was no changing the fact that Clarke and Lexa were married and had them over for the holiday along with Anya, Thelonius and Wells Jaha. It had been both the best and worst Christmas Clarke had ever experienced.

The ham had burnt, the Christmas tree caught on fire, Thelonious and Abby got drunk to the point of throwing up and the power had gone out, but they’d been a family. A totally dysfunctional family, but a family nevertheless. It had been the first time Clarke had actually believed that she could have it all, a family that loved and accepted her and a wife that accepted her family unconditionally.

“Holidays haven’t been the same since you left,” Jake spoke. “Although Anya burnt the turkey last year on Thanksgiving. So I guess not everything has changed.”

“Wait, what?” Clarke turned to her father in shock. “What do you mean?”

“Anya is still a shitty cook,” he responded, though the look on his face told Clarke that he knew exactly what Clarke had meant by her question. Clarke glared at him until he finally answered her question. “I know I’ll never fully understand what happened between you and Lexa, but when I accepted her as a daughter, that was for life. That hasn’t changed for me. And Anya comes with that package. So yes, I still see them on holidays. Much to your mother’s chagrin.”

“I don’t think that’s very appropriate,” Clarke responded, angry that he hadn’t told her that he still kept a relationship with his former daughter-in-law. “Didn’t you think about how that would make me feel?”

“The girl I raised doesn’t walk out on people she cares about,” Jake explained.

Clarke felt the importance of his words. Because she had walked out. “Then I guess I’m not the girl you raised then.”

“Yes, you are,” Jake insisted.

“I walked away.”

“But you came back,” he clarified.

“Only because I needed Lexa to sign the divorce papers. That’s the only reason I came back.”

“That may have been why you came back, but you could have left the moment you got those papers signed. Instead, you stayed. You stayed and it was then my Clarke came back.”

Clarke was silent, not sure how to respond to her father.

“That bottle of bourbon we had, the first night Finn was here. Do you remember how I was saving it for something?” Jake asked. Clarke nodded. “I was saving it for when you came back. I had this idea that you’d come back and then your first Christmas back here we’d open it. We’d all get happy drunk. Your mom and Thelonious would probably pass out pretty quickly. Anya would challenge us all to some kind of drinking game that you’d inevitably win. And Lexa would come close in second place and you’d claim she let you win and she’d insist she didn’t. But I’d know that she did.”

Clarke could picture it perfectly in her head, the night Jake had been saving his special bottle of bourbon for. It felt tangible. Real. But it was a false dream.

“Lexa and I are divorced,” Clarke insisted. “I’m marrying Finn. I’m marrying him on Saturday Dad.”

“I know,” he nodded. “An old man can dream though, can’t he?”

“Can’t you just be happy for me?” Clarke pleaded.

“I’m happy that you’re happy,” he offered her a soft smile.

That night when Clarke went to bed, she felt emptier than she had in a long time. She knew what was missing. It wasn’t just Wells, it was certainty. Certainty that she was doing the right thing. Certainty that the person she was marrying was the right person. And certainty that she was doing the right thing.


 

In every story, a funeral takes place on either an inordinately sunny day or during a rainstorm. Wells Jaha’s funeral took place in between. The morning had started out sunny, but by the time afternoon arrived, however, the sun had faded and light gray clouds had blocked the otherwise blue sky.

They shivered in their black clothing as the twenty-year-old was lowered into the ground.

Thelonious Jaha hosted them back at his house, but it was Abby and Jake - his closest friends who cooked and made sure that everyone was eating and settling in. Clarke sat motionless on the couch, not responding to anything anyone said to her, refusing to eat.

She hadn’t eaten in the three days since Wells’ death.

Lexa was able to convince Clarke to get back into her truck when the crowd at the Jaha truck started to dwindle and drove them back home.

When they arrived back home, Clarke took up residence on the couch, where she’d slept each night since her best friend died. She didn’t even bother to strip off her black dress. She didn’t say anything, but Lexa saw her shivering.

“Clarke, you’re freezing. Let’s get you in sweats or something,” Lexa suggested.

Clarke maintained her catatonic state as Lexa sighed and went to their bedroom, returning a minute later with a set of old Polis High sweats.

“Come on Clarke,” Lexa pleaded, pulling first at the bow that tied around her wife’s dress. Clarke still didn’t move and Lexa couldn’t get the dress off her until she did. “Please Clarke! Please just talk to me! I can’t do this without you!”

Clarke’s unfocused eyes darted to Lexa’s and finally found their focus. Lexa sighed in relief, never loving those blue orbs more than she did in that moment. They found purchase for only a moment though, as just as quickly as they focused, they faded.

Tears started to fall down Lexa’s cheeks as she stood up exasperated. She inhaled breaths deeply and ran a shaky hand through her dark curls. She looked back at her wife, still mute and unmoving. Lexa’s sobs were becoming louder and her breathing harder to maintain. She ran out of the living room and onto their front porch where she doubled over, trying to catch her breath.

She blamed herself for her friend’s death and now her wife, the person she needed most, had pulled away from her. Her breathing was heavy, but calmed immediately when she felt a hand rubbing circles on her back.

Lexa stood up and turned around to face Clarke, dressed in sweatpants, looking at her with weary eyes.

“He’s dead,” Clarke finally spoke her first words since the accident.

“I know,” Lexa nodded, brushing a few stray tears off her cheek. Her eyes blurred for a moment with the tears, causing her to miss the shift in Clarke’s demeanor. She was no longer comforting Lexa, instead her eyes reflected the anger she felt towards her. “Clarke?” Lexa asked, confused by the sudden change.

“He’s dead and it’s all your fault,” Clarke elaborated on her former sentence. “You killed him Lexa. Wells is dead because you’re a stupid drunk. It’s all your fault. You killed him and I hope you live with that guilt for the rest of your life.” Clarke then turned and went back inside.

Lexa stood there, astonished. Clarke had come out on to the porch to make sure that Lexa was okay, to make sure she didn’t have a panic attack or do anything stupid, Lexa knew that. What she didn’t know was why she had done that if she was then going to accuse her of the murder that Lexa already blamed herself for.

By the time Lexa made her way back inside, Clarke was asleep on the couch. And by the time Lexa woke the next morning, Clarke was gone.

 


 

Though she’d never admit it to Anya, Lexa was glad that her old house lay unoccupied when she arrived back in Polis Friday afternoon. It gave her the opportunity to have a couple hours of peace and quiet without having to listen to her sister rant at her. She’d decided to drive to the small town Friday because the storm was supposed to hit Saturday afternoon and she wanted to make sure she had everything set up in time.

As much as she loved her alone time, Lexa really had missed Polis and all her friends, so she was more than ready to hit up Grounders that night, hoping that Clarke and any guests she had in town might be busy elsewhere, at a rehearsal dinner or something.

Unfortunately, this was not the case. Lexa was just about ready to turn and leave her sister’s bar after entering to find Clarke drinking at a table with the two friends that had been with her at Lexa’s store as well as a few others who Lexa didn’t recognize, but Anya spotted her first and dragged her in.

“Nope, you’re not leaving,” Anya insisted. “She’s been keeping to herself, she probably won’t even try and talk to you.”

“Why is she here?” Lexa asked.

“Her bachelorette party, I guess,” Anya shrugged.

After Anya handed her a beer, Lexa moved back to the back of the bar where her friends were. They all greeted her with a choir of “Lexa!” clearly not expecting her.

They all asked her how the store was going and made promises to go out and visit it. They weren’t empty promises. Lexa knew they’d make it up to her store eventually, but she wasn’t expecting them anytime soon. They all had lives they were getting on with. Just as she was getting on with hers.

Maybe Clarke coming back into her life was a good thing. Now the divorce was final, they had closure. Lexa had moved on with her life and now neither of them were living in Polis any longer. That chapter of their lives was closed.

Lexa was involved in her own thoughts, pretending to pay attention to a conversation between Monty and Jasper when the karaoke machine came to life. Lexa had almost forgotten it was Friday, karaoke night at Grounders.

Most of Lexa’s friends loved karaoke, and sometimes Lexa got into it, but mostly just to make fun of Bellamy’s total lack of a musical ear.

A couple of women a few years older than Lexa went first, performing some Celine Dion song that made Lexa’s ears hurt. After Jasper and Monty sang a Backstreet Boys song together, Lexa was starting to get ready to call it a night. She was just about to stand up when Clarke’s brunette friend dragged her up to the stage area.

If she left now it would seem like she was leaving because of Clarke, and Lexa didn’t want that. She wasn’t sure why she cared what Clarke thought anymore, but she stayed seated nevertheless. Even though she knew her friends wouldn’t blame her for leaving.

The first song they sang was an Avril Lavigne song. It didn’t take long for Clarke to get really into it. She had a great voice, probably the best of their group of friends. Clarke’s former group of friends. When Clarke had roped her into singing karaoke in the past, Lexa had always complained that she sounded like a screeching dog compared to her. She still sang with her anyway. She’d always had trouble saying no to the blonde.

When the Avril Lavigne song ended and nobody volunteered to go next, Clarke’s friend, Raven maybe, offered them to go again. Even though they were across the room, Lexa could hear everything they were saying. She was subconsciously blocking out anything that wasn’t Clarke’s voice.

“What song are you picking Rae?” Clarke asked.

“I haven’t decided yet,” the brunette responded. “Oh! This one.”

“What is it?”

“You’ll find out in a second,” Raven smirked and returned to stand beside Clarke in front of the karaoke machine.

The first few notes of the song started and Lexa’s heart skipped a beat. It took Clarke only a few moments longer to realize what song it was, but when she did, Lexa saw the realization pass across her face. She saw Clarke visible pale, frozen.

There was no way Raven could have known what the song meant to Clarke. In fact, Lexa was the only other living person who knew. And she only knew because she was there. She was driving her truck with Clarke in between her and Wells on their way to the creek, hours before Wells would jump to his death.

They’d been listening to music the entire car ride, singing along to every song that came on the radio. It was just an average car ride. But then, “Out Tonight” from Rent came on. It was the most random song that could have played, but Clarke’s iPod was on shuffle connected through the AUX cord she’d gotten Lexa for her birthday.

They all burst out laughing before getting into the song. None of them were huge musical people, but they’d all seen the Rent movie and knew all the words. They belted it out, windows down as they sped down the highway together. They were happy. And they all talked about it after the song ended.

They were all thinking it, but it was Wells who had voiced their shared thoughts. “I wish moments like this would last forever.” But they didn’t. And hours later, after a dare, Clarke and Wells jumped off a cliff, Wells never surfacing to breathe another breath.

Lexa knew she wasn’t alone in wondering if fate had had a hand in playing that song on the car ride there, in giving them that moment of pure happiness in the company of best friends. She knew Clarke had felt the same and the look on her face when the song came on by Raven’s request confirmed it for the brunette.

Lexa knew that Clarke was going to run maybe before even the blonde knew it herself. Lexa was out of her seat as Clarke bolted from the stage, only feet behind her when her ex-wife had swung the back door of the bar open and walked out into the Alabama air.

Clarke was struggling to breathe, hyperventilating, by the time Lexa caught up with her. Seeing her there reminded her of the dull, constant ache in her chest. The one that had been there for years, longer than she probably realized. The kind of ache that was so constant that she sometimes forgot it was there, but those glassy blue eyes, filling up with tears brought her dull, aching heart back to life.

She felt every piercing stroke of pain that she knew was coursing through Clarke’s blood, exploding like nebulas, an intricate galaxy of pain, expanding with every breath she took.

Lexa pushed the pain away though, and focused on the woman in front of her. “Clarke, it’s okay. Everything is going to be okay.”

Without thinking about it, Lexa’s pulled Clarke’s arms out of their crossed position, trying to get air to flow easier into the girl’s lungs. Clarke’s eyes were unfocused as she struggled to even out her breathing, but once it became more even, she launched herself into Lexa’s arms.

When she cried, she hiccuped, but Lexa knew that the hyperventilating had passed. She rubbed circles on Clarke’s back and whispered reassuring words to her. With her back to the door and Clarke’s eyes tearing, neither woman were aware of the fact that the door behind them had opened, Raven and Bellamy hurrying to see if they were okay. They turned around after they saw the two women in an embrace.

“It’s my fault,” Clarke sobbed into Lexa’s chest. “It’s my fault he’s dead.”

“No it’s not,” Lexa reassured her. “It’s nobody’s fault.”

“No,” Clarke shook her head and lifted it up so that Lexa was looking at her face. “That night, when Wells and I were on top of the cliff, I made him switch places with me because I was cold. I was supposed to jump where he did. I’m the one that’s supposed to be dead, not him. It’s my fault.”

“It’s not your fault,” Lexa insisted. She knew about the switch. She was the only one that had been watching when it had happened.

“You knew, didn’t you?” Clarke asked, obviously seeing that Lexa wasn’t surprised by the revelation. Lexa nodded. “And you still let me blame you?”

“I didn’t want you blaming yourself. I already blamed myself. But there’s nothing that could have been done to change what happened. It happened Clarke, and Wells would slap us both if he knew that we were blaming ourselves.” There was a moment of silence and Lexa wiped a tear off Clarke’s cheek.

“When did you stop loving me?” Clarke finally asked, breaking the silence.

The question sent shock waves through the ache in the belly of her stomach, the pits of her heart. She didn’t know how to answer at first. So she spoke without thinking first about the words that were leaving her mouth. “I can’t even remember when I first started loving you. For twenty years you were pretty much my everything. My best friend, the love of my life, the one person I could turn to for everything. But then you left. You ran away and left me behind and it broke me. I didn’t know how to exist without you at first, but I eventually figured it out. I wanted to be the person you deserved and that’s why I started with the glassmaking, but I’ve started to realize that that was just as much about me as it was about you. So when did I stop loving you? I don’t think I ever could Clarke. If I stopped loving you, I would stop loving myself and everything that happened to me to make me who I am today. It may never be enough, but there will always be a part of my soul that will always be yours.”

“You came to New York, but you didn’t fight for us,” Clarke responded after a full minute of silence.

“You ran away,” Lexa repeated. “You didn’t fight for us either.” What Lexa really wanted to ask was when did Clarke stop loving her, but she couldn’t force herself to say the words. She was too afraid to hear the answer.

“I wish I had stayed,” Clarke admitted. “Just a bit longer. To sort everything out. I wish I hadn’t run away from you and everyone else. I’m happy in New York. I like my life there, but I like it here too and I just wish I had been able to have closure here first.”

“Isn’t that why you’re back here?” Lexa asked. “To give yourself closure, to put his chapter of your life behind you?” She gestured between them.

“I thought so,” Clarke spoke. “That was the plan anyway. We’re divorced.”

“We are,” Lexa nodded.

“I just…” a look of confusion passed across Clarke’s face, as if she were fighting an internal battle.

A moment later, Clarke had a hand behind Lexa’s neck. She pushed forward, but before she was able to connect her lips with Lexa’s, Lexa lifted her hands up between them, warding Clarke back.

“You can’t do that Clarke,” she spoke seriously, her voice containing an ounce of anger. “You left me. You left me and ran away. You made yourself a new life, found yourself a new fiance. You forced me to sign divorce papers even though it killed me inside. You broke me. I loved you more than anything and you took that away from me. You can’t just kiss me because you’re confused, then go on and get married tomorrow. You can’t have it all Clarke!”

Lexa stepped away from Clarke, standing up for herself for what may have been the first time. She wanted to believe that it was pain that crossed Clarke’s face, or maybe even a flash of love or respect, but she didn’t allow herself to dwell on it.

She needed to move on. She needed to be herself. She couldn’t keep living for someone who only kept hurting her.

Chapter Text

Lexa slept in late the day of Clarke’s wedding. She’d purposely come home and drank a couple more beers so that she would sleep well through the next morning. She knew it was bad to fall into the old habit, but she also didn’t want to spend the morning thinking about Clarke, knowing that she was about to marry someone that wasn’t her.

By the time she did wake up, it was about noon and it was time for her to start thinking about making her way down to the beach. The storm clouds were starting to roll in and she didn’t want to still be pounding long sticks of metal into the sand when the lightning started to strike.

Lexa was loading the conductors into the back of her truck from where they’d been staying behind her old home when Anya drove up. Lexa was surprised to see her sister, especially when she exited her car dressed up.

“Don’t you have a wedding to be at?” Lexa asked. “I heard the whole town was invited.”

“I’m on my way there now,” Anya responded.

“I’m pretty sure this house is out of the way for you if you’re on your way to the Blake Plantation.”

“You ran after Clarke last night,” Anya cut right to the chase. Lexa knew that her sister had come to her in order to check on her, but she also knew the older woman would never come right out and say her intentions.

“No one else knew what was wrong,” Lexa replied honestly.

“She’s not your responsibility anymore.”

“I know,” Lexa nodded. She also knew that Anya was just trying to protect her. “And I told her as much. I told her what her leaving did to me.”

“You did?” Anya’s eyes widened just slightly, only enough for someone who knew her well to realize that she was surprised. “What’d she say to that?”

Lexa could have told her sister about the almost-kiss, but decided against it. It seemed too personal. Besides, even though she knew Anya would never tell anyone, Lexa would never put Clarke’s relationship with Finn at risk like that. She cared to much about her, even after everything.

Realizing that Lexa was hiding something, and that she wasn’t going to give it up, Anya took a step back towards her car. “So that’s it then? You’re going to head down to the beach and pretend that everything is normal while the love of your life marries some random guy?”

“Life goes on,” Lexa responded.

“You’re pretty quick to let go of something you’ve been holding onto for so long.”

“I can’t control her any more than I can control the weather,” Lexa sighed as she gestured to the sky around them.

Without another word, Anya turned and left. Lexa was down her driveway as well not two minutes later, but instead of turning left at the end of the street and Anya had, she turned right.

Lexa was just about through town when she noticed that her gas gauge read near empty. She groaned and pulled up to the gas station. Town was eerily quiet, but Lexa knew where most people were.

“I take it you’re not invited to the wedding,” the gas attendant spoke.

“Let me just get my gas in peace Murphy,” Lexa sighed as she stuck the nozzle in her gas tank. Murphy simple shrugged and walked off.

Lexa was just closing her gas tank, ready to hop back in her truck, when an unfamiliar car pulled up. She figured it must have been one of Clarke’s New York friends in for the wedding, most likely lost. Her suspicions were assuaged when the driver rolled down his window.

Inside was a somewhat rotund, balding man with horn-rimmed glasses.

“Excuse me, can you tell me where I can find Miss. Clarke Blake? I have a very important matter to settle with her,” the man spoke.

Lexa looked in at him, he didn’t look like someone Clarke would be friends with and he wasn’t exactly acting like he was invited to the wedding. Not to mention the fact that he called her Clarke Blake instead of Clarke Griffin. Something felt off about him. Then Lexa remembered the fact that Finn was the mayor of New York’s son. There was likely to be paparazzi trying to get photos of the wedding.

“Sorry sir, I don’t know anyone by that name,” Lexa responded, hoping that the man who must have been a reporter would just leave.

“Thanks anyway,” he responded before driving off.

Lexa rolled her eyes as she hopped into her truck and sped away, making her way to the beach.

As Lexa drove the lightning conductors into the sand, pounding each one down with a hammer, she tried not to think about the fact that the impending storm would ruin Clarke’s outdoor wedding. She tried not to think about the fact that Clarke was probably walking down the aisle at the exact moment she hammered down the third conductor, wearing a dress worth more than the entire price of her wedding to Lexa. She tried not to think about the man sliding a ring on the slender finger that once held the ring that symbolized her love for Lexa. She tried not to think about the fact that as much as she wished things has turned out differently, in the end she just wanted Clarke to be happy. She tried not to think of all these things, but failed miserably.

Lexa had two conductors left to hammer down when the rain first started to fall. It started to pour as she finished pounding down the last one. Even though her relationship with Clarke had ended five years previously, and she’d done this very thing multiple times over the years, today it felt like she was nailing nails into the coffin that had been their relationship.

Lexa Woods didn’t cry. She was a beer-drinking, truck-driving redneck woman. She didn’t cry. Or at least that’s what she told herself over the years. It was how she explained to herself how she’d managed to last the past five years barely shedding a tear.

The truth was, the tears only came with the rain. When she could stand outside and let them fall without any proof of them ever having existed. When the memory of her first kiss, and the many after, played over and over in her head.

The day of Clarke’s wedding was no exception. As rain pounded into Lexa’s skin, she could pretend the water rolling down her cheeks wasn’t salty, that it wasn’t tears. She knew she was denying the truth, but at least this way she could pretend that everything was okay, that she could be content living her life with just her business to keep her company.

Finally, the rods were all in the ground. Just in time too, as Lexa saw the first flash of lightning and heard the first roll of thunder. The lightning was still a few miles out, but with the wind, it would reach her beach in no time. With ten conductors in place, Lexa was sure she’d get at least one new glass piece, hopefully more.

In the meantime, however, she’d have to wait out the storm. She was just about to turn back to wait it out in her truck when she heard the wind howl in a way that sounded eerily like it was calling for her.

 


 

Three months had passed since Clarke had left and the first real rainstorm since her departure hit on a February afternoon. Lexa had been drinking all day, but that was nothing new. She’d been drinking herself into a stupor since Clarke had left.

At the sound of the thunder however, Lexa knew she needed to get to the beach. She wasn’t an idiot though. Her parents had died in a drunk driving accident and she knew that couldn’t get behind the wheel.

She contemplated calling Anya or Bellamy for a ride, but decided that she deserved the rain pelting down on her as she walked down the two miles down the county road to the beach.

The tears didn’t start until after she drunkenly walked the path she’d run down years earlier, the night of her first kiss, when she wore glasses and saw the world as endlessly full of possibilities. It didn’t take long before she was breaking down on the beach, clutching the sand as if it were a lifeline, even as it slipped through her fingers.

She heard the thunder and saw the lightning even through closed eyes. She knew the storm was on top of her. She begged to be struck by lightning. It would give her an easy out, one she probably didn’t deserve, but wanted anyway.

At first she thought she had drunkenly imagined the arms around her, pulling her into a familiar embrace. She refused to open her eyes, not wanting to be faced with the reality that she was alone.

“You’re going to get through this,” a voice reassured her, and Lexa was forced to realize that she wasn’t imagining it.

“Dad?” she asked, opening her eyes, yet still letting the man hold her. “Jake?” she corrected herself.

“It’s still Dad,” Jake spoke, rubbing circles on her back.

“She’s gone,” she hiccuped. “She’s really gone.”

“She’s just a little lost is all,” Jake responded. “She’ll find her way back to us, I know she will.”

Lexa wanted to believe him, she really did, she she nodded.

“We should get out of here before we get struck by lightning,” Jake spoke.

Lexa quickly took in her surroundings and chuckled, knowing the exact spot she’d landed in the sand. “Lightning never strikes the same place twice,” she explained. “It struck here ten years ago already.”

“Come on,” Jake lifted Lexa to her feet, figuring that she was just talking drunken nonsense.

“How’d you know I was here?” Lexa asked.

“Abby saw you walking down the road, I had a feeling I knew where you were heading,” Jake provided her with an answer. Once they were safely back in Jake truck, the man spoke again. “She might need a little guidance, but I know Clarke will come back. She has to.” This time when Jake spoke, it sounded more like a prayer than anything else.

“I’ll find her,” Lexa spoke, the idea starting to form in her head.

A week later, Lexa was on a flight up to New York.

 


 

The morning of her wedding, Clarke felt nervous jitters. And after the night she’d had the night before, she wasn’t surprised that she had them. After Lexa had left her alone outside of Grounders, Clarke had felt nothing but confusion. She wished she could have blamed the almost-kiss on the fact that she was drunk, but Clarke had been barely tipsy at her bachelorette party.

After Lexa left, Clarke had made her way back inside the bar, Raven and Bellamy immediately finding her. They both asked how she was doing, trying to talk over one another, each claiming to be more concerned than the other. In the end though, Clarke had just waved them off and said that she was ready to go home, needing to rest before her big day.

She’d hardly gotten any sleep though, thinking about the fact that she’d nearly kissed Lexa, but also everything Lexa had said. It was a testament to Clarke’s stubbornness that she hadn’t fully thought through exactly how Lexa must have felt when she’d up and left her. Lexa had always been the strong one in Clarke’s mind, so she’d been stunned to hear Lexa say the words, “You broke me”.

Clarke’s hand was actually shaking with nervous jitters as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes, taking in the world as it was on the day of her second wedding day. The first thing Clarke noticed was that the sky outside was the same color it had been the day of Wells’ funeral, a miserable gray somewhere between a storm and a sunny day. A normal bride would’ve been worrying about her outdoor wedding getting ruined by rain, but Clarke was too consumed with regret to even think about ruined photos and dresses.

She reached out to grab her phone, needing to hear Lexa’s voice one last time before committing herself to Finn, but was stopped with a slap to her wrist.

“Nope,” Raven insisted. “You don’t get to talk to Finn until you see him at the altar.” Clarke groaned and looked up at her one and only bridesmaid. “It was Finn you were about to call, right?” she asked with an arch to an eyebrow.

It was simpler for Clarke to just nod in response. Raven rolled her eyes at the blonde, then made a show of turning off the bride’s phone.

“If you’re needed for anything important, everyone has my number. Now, it’s time to get you ready for the biggest day of your life.”

Clarke didn’t have to do much to prepare, everything was done for her. She sat in a chair as Raven did her make up and Miller did her hair, Abby fawning over every detail, from Clarke’s light green eye shadow to the pearls in her hair that matched the ones on her dress.

Finally, she was deemed ready and she slipped on her torturously uncomfortable heels. When Abby asked for time alone with her daughter, Raven and Miller quickly made themselves scarce.

“You look beautiful,” Abby cooed, rubbing a hand down Clarke’s arm.

“The Vera Wang really was the way to go, wasn’t it? Raven really liked the Alexander McQueen, but I do think the Wang fits me better, don’t you?” Clarke looked up at her mother, eyes begging for approval.

“You’d look beautiful in anything,” Abby insisted.

“But it’s better this time, isn’t it? I mean, the Blake Plantation is the perfect venue. This is the perfect dress. And my hair is beautiful, isn’t it? Miller does a lot of my models’ hair. Everything is so much better this time, isn’t it?”

“A wedding isn’t about the venue, the hair or even the dress baby girl,” Abby offered her daughter a smile. She grasped her shoulders, careful to avoid spreading make up anywhere. “A wedding is about promising to love someone for the rest of your life. And not just anyone, but the love of your life.”

“I know,” Clarke nodded. “I just…I want it to be better this time.”

“The only way it’ll be better is if you love Finn more than you ever loved Lexa.”

Clarke narrowed her gaze at her mother, not entirely understanding the woman’s meaning behind her words. It was almost as if she was trying to confuse Clarke on purpose.

“There are some days when your father annoys the flaming heck out of me,” Abby continued to speak, “But I wouldn’t trade in even the worst day with him for anything. That’s what love is. It doesn’t matter what I looked like on my wedding day, or where it was or what the flowers looked like. The only thing that matters is that we’ll be together when we don’t even recognize ourselves in the mirror.”

Clarke had never heard such words come out of her mother’s mouth before, but before she had the opportunity to ask her anything about them, there was a sharp rap on the door.

“We’ve got about five minutes to get you downstairs,” came Raven’s voice from the other side. “And the faster we do this the better if we want to get to get through the ‘I Dos’ before the rain starts.”

“Let’s go get you married,” Abby smiled before reaching down to grab her daughter’s hand and pulled her out the door.

By the time they made it downstairs, the wedding procession was set to begin. Raven told her that everyone was in her seats and that Finn was waiting for her at the end of the aisle. The procession began and Raven hooked arms with one of Finn’s college friends and headed down the aisle, followed by Finn’s cousins, the flower girls.

Jake came up alongside Clarke and hooked onto her arm.

“I never thought I’d be doing this twice,” he announced.

“Me neither,” Clarke shook her head. She knew she had only moments before she had to start walking down the aisle, but she needed some kind of reassurance from her father after the confusing words her mother had left her with. “But I’m making the right choice, aren’t I?”

“That’s not up to me to say,” Jake admitted. The usher gestured for them to start walking. Jake took a step forward, but Clarke’s feet remained planted on the ground. “Do you love him?”

“Obviously,” Clarke responded. Of course she loved him, didn’t she? Sure, it wasn’t the same kind of consuming love she’d felt when she’d walked down the aisle the first time, but that didn’t mean she was making the wrong decision, did it?

“Okay,” Jake nodded, but Clarke couldn’t help but notice that there was no sparkle in Jake’s eyes. They had sparkled with joyful tears the first time he’d walked Clarke down the aisle.

By this point the usher was looking at them in concern, so Clarke took a step forward. She began her trek down the aisle, but the first thing she looked at wasn’t her future husband waiting at the end, but rather the sky. She offered a silent prayer to whatever God may exist to send her a sign that she was doing the right thing. She looked next at Finn. He looked more handsome than ever before and Clarke smiled at the sight of him, but her heart didn’t leap from her chest and the look of pure adoration he gave her.

She saw Raven waiting for her at the end of the aisle, ready to take her bouquet. She saw Abby watching with slight trepidation. Julia Collins wore a look that made her appear constipated. She saw Anya sitting in an aisle seat, her face as unreadable as ever. She finally made it to the end of the aisle and hugged her dad before handing her bouquet to Raven.

“You look beautiful,” Finn whispered to her.

“You too,” Clarke responded. He chuckled and the priest began the ceremony.

They were about halfway through the ceremony when Clarke heard a ruckus behind her. The sound grew louder and she turned around in confusion. The security Clarke had hired for the event, charged with keeping out papparazzi, were chasing a man. The man was short and balding, wearing horn-rimmed glasses and carrying a leather briefcase. The man made it halfway down the aisle yelling, “Miss. Blake!” before getting tackled by the police.

“Wait, stop!” Clarke yelled out. “I know him!”

The entire audience turned to Clarke in confusion, Finn included. The security officers stood up and the balding man stood with a huff.

“You know him?” Finn whispered in the blonde’s ear.

“Here’s my lawyer, Mr. Ark,” Clarke responded.

“Miss. Blake, you are one tough girl to track down,” Mr. Ark spoke, struggling to catch his breath. “No one in this town helped me find you and your phone has been off all morning!”

“What is this about? I’m kind of in the middle of something.” Clarke asked as she walked down the aisle towards him.

“Oh,” Mr. Ark responded, looking around as if only just realizing what he’d just interrupted.

“Lexa signed the papers, why are you here?”

Mr. Ark fumbled with the latched on his briefcase before pulling out a stack of papers. “Lexa signed the divorce papers, yes. But you didn’t. You and Lexa are technically still married.” He pointed down to the first sheet of paper where Lexa had clearly signed, but the line where Clarke was to have signed was blank.

“Shit,” Clarke muttered.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Julia complained somewhere behind Clarke.

“It’s no problem really, you can get along with the wedding just as soon as you sign,” Mr. Ark explained.

“Do you have a pen?” Clarke asked. Mr. Ark rummaged through his bag, but came up empty and shook his head. “Does anyone have a pen?” Clarke asked again, this time turning around to address all her guests.

“Can someone please get her a goddamn pen,” Julia chided.

As everyone searched through pockets and purses, Jake came up alongside Clarke and placed a reassuring hand on her back. “It’ll be okay Clarke,” he spoke.

“I have a pen,” a voice spoke above the murmurs. Clarke recognized it immediately as it belonged to her former, well technically still current, sister-in-law. Anya left her seat in the pew and approached Clarke, brandishing the nondescript pen.

After reaching Clarke, she handed the pen over, but kept her fingers on it. “These things don’t just happen for no reason,” the woman spoke softly enough so that only Clarke and Jake could hear her.

“The people here are going to love you no matter what,” Jake added. Clarke thought she saw the twinkle return to his eye.

Maybe this was it. Maybe this was the sign she’d begged God for. She knew then that everything came down to that moment. She finished taking the pen of Anya and held it in her hand, holding it poised above the page. She pressed it to the page, then paused. She pressed it to the page again, then paused again.

Chapter Text

Rain fell as two young girls sprinted across the beach together. The first, just several steps of ahead of the second, wore her brown curly hair in two french braids that ended just above her shoulders. Her vision was blurred, rain fogging up her glasses, but she was undeterred. Lexa had a heart full of adventure. Despite the fact that her parents had been killed in a car crash a year earlier, Lexa had a vivacious grip on life.

“Come on, Clarke!” she yelled back to her friend as she hopped over a log and looked back over her shoulder.

Clarke, wavy blonde hair matted to her face, too short to pull back with a hair tie, fumbled her way through the sand to follow her friend. The brunette slowed down to allow for the blonde’s shorter legs to catch up with her. Clarke was always just several steps behind Lexa, their friendship one they’d shared since early childhood. They’d raced on the playground, the beach and in each other’s backyards. Clarke always just a step or so behind Lexa.

The brunette reached out for Clarke’s hand and the exact moment lightning struck barely feet away from them. Both girls screamed and Clarke leapt into Lexa’s embrace.

“We needa get outta here Lex!” Clarke yelled over the storm. They had other friends, of course, but they’d always been a ‘we’.

Lexa simply shook her head in response. “Don’tchya know?” she asked. “Lightning never strikes the same place twice. Besides, come ‘ere.”

Lexa grabbed Clarke’s hand and led her the few feet to the site of where the lightning had struck. The sand there was still smoking so Lexa held Clarke back with a hand as the younger girl looked down. “What is it?” Clarke asked.

“Once it cools, we’ll dig it up and I’ll show ya,” Lexa smiled. Lexa’s parents had been the one to tell her about how glass forms when lightning strikes sand.

“Ya know, you never answered my question from earlier, Lexa,” Clarke crossed her arms across her chest. “You said you wanna marry me, but that’s silly. We’re both girls. Why’d ya wanna marry me for anyhow?”

“Well before they died, my Momma and Daddy always told me that they got married ‘cuz they wanted to marry their best friend. And you’re my best friend,” Lexa answered matter-of-factly.

“That the only reason why you wanna marry me?” Clarke taunted.

“Well that, and so I can kiss ya anytime I want,” Lexa smiled, causing the smirk to fall from the younger girl’s face.

The two young girls leaned in at the same time and their lips touched tentatively. Lightning struck behind them. This time is was Lexa that yelped at the sudden sound of thunder and pulled Clarke to the ground.

“We’ll be safe here,” she repeated as the two friends sat beside the smoking sand, hands held tightly, but still smiling at having shared their first kisses with their best friend. Neither girl thinking about the fact that one day, they’d promise to be each other’s last kiss as well.

 


 

Clarke stood in the middle of the aisle in the backyard of the Blake plantation. She was dressed in a full skirt, Vera Wang bridal gown, her hair elegantly pinned back, makeup artistically applied. Waiting for her at the end of the aisle was a man who wanted to marry her and provide for her everything he could. Surrounding her were aisles full of Manhattan’s elite alongside Polis Alabama’s everyday people.

Clarke Griffin stood in the middle of them all, torn. Torn between the floppy-haired, well-groomed brunet at the end of the aisle and the brunette whose hair was more often knotted than not, clothes stained with grease and years of age.

When Finn approached her, Clarke looked up from the pen she held posed above her divorce papers. She pressed it to the page again, then paused again, and put it down. It was then that she sighed and turned to Finn.

“Finn. You don’t want to marry me,” she spoke, looking directly at the floppy-haired man.

“I don’t?” he asked in confusion.

Clarke shook her head. “No, you don’t. Not really.”

“Why not?” he asked, clearly still confused.

“Because you deserve to marry someone who can give you their whole heart,” she explained. “And I can’t do that for you. The thing is, I gave my heart away a long time ago, my whole heart, and I don’t think I ever got it back. I can’t marry you Finn, because I gave my heart away more than fifteen years ago, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.” Her voice cracked as she finished speaking. “I’m so sorry, I can’t marry you. And you shouldn’t want to marry me.”

“Wow,” Finn shook his head. “So this is what it feels like.” Clarke looked at him, confused. “I’ve never gotten my heart broken before. I’ve never not gotten what I wanted. This is a first for me.” Around them, people looked at Finn incredulously. “It’s a nice change of pace.” At this, several people chuckled.

“That’s it? You have GOT to be kidding me,” a voice scoffed. Julia Collins stepped into the aisle and strutted her way towards Clarke, Finn following quickly behind her. She stopped when she reached the blonde, then turned towards her son, “You’re just going to let this girl walk all over you like that?” She then turned to Clarke. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? I have never seen anyone more manipulative in my entire life, and I’m in politics! You stupid redneck whore!”

The words felt almost like a slap across Clarke’s face, but she wasn’t the one who felt the physical slap. That was Julia. As soon as the words ‘redneck whore’ were out of her mouth, Abby slapped her palm across Julia’s cheek.

“No one talks to my baby like that!” she exclaimed, eliciting cheers from the audience and even a smile from Finn.

The rain started with a few small drops, but quickly turned into a pouring storm within a few seconds, as southern storms tend to start. Several people yelped and attempted to cover their heads, but Clarke simply tilted her head back and looked up at the sky and laughed.

Jake pulled Abby to his side and kissed her full on the mouth. Anya smiled a rare smile that no one was supposed to see, but when she glanced down the aisle, she saw a brunette looking at her with curious eyes. She raised her eyebrows at her, and Raven smirked in response.

As everyone started to run to find shelter, Clarke looked around and made an announcement to the crowd. “If you’re friends of the bride, stick around! I’m gonna find me my wife!” This elicited more cheers and a sound of disgust that came from Julia’s mouth, silenced with a glare from Abby.

 


 

On the other side of town, Lexa Woods was finishing putting the lightning rods in the ground, completely unaware of the fact that she was still a married woman.

Finally, the rods were all in the ground. Just in time too, as Lexa saw the first flash of lightning and heard the first roll of thunder. The lightning was still a few miles out, but with the wind, it would reach her beach in no time. With ten conductors in place, Lexa was sure she’d get at least one new glass piece, hopefully more.

In the meantime, however, she’d have to wait out the storm. The rain was now falling hard. She was just about to turn back to wait it out in her truck when she heard the wind howl in a way that sounded eerily like it was calling for her.

“Lexa!”

The sound of her name being called so clearly forced her to whip her head around. It wasn’t the wind and she certainly hadn’t imagined it. Clarke was running across the beach toward her, barefoot and clutching the side of her wedding dress as she struggled to make her way through the wind, rain and sand in the large gown. The dress was nothing like the simple one Clarke had worn on the day she had married Lexa, and while Lexa could tell the dress she currently wore was gorgeous, she still preferred the other, it had been more true to Clarke’s personality at the time.

Lexa was so focused on Clarke’s dress, that she didn’t fully internalize the fact that Clarke was there with her on the beach on the day she was supposed to be getting married.

“You owe me a dance, cowgirl,” Clarke spoke again as she finally reached Lexa.

It had been her biggest regret. She regretted still being drunk at the wedding and missing their reception, but missing their first dance had been what had truly stuck with Lexa. Clarke had been so excited for it. To have a dance together as wives. Lexa had never forgotten it, and clearly neither had Clarke.

“Nice dress,” Lexa pointed to the gown the blonde had dirtied in the sand and storm. “Where’s your spouse?”

“I’m lookin’ at her,” Clarke responded confidently with a slight smirk. “Turns out you and me, we’re still hitched.”

“Is that right?” Lexa asked, mildly confused. She’d signed the divorce papers. Why would they still be married.

“Turns out I forgot to sign the papers,” Clarke explained, clearing up Lexa’s confusion. There was a long pause when the only sounds they heard were those of the raging storm around them. “Why didn’t you tell me you came to New York?”

“What’s with you southern girls?” Lexa asked as the realization hit her full on. Clarke was there with her. She wasn’t with Finn. She wasn’t in New York. She was there with her, on their beach. Clarke was choosing her. “You can’t make the right decision so you try all the wrong ones?”

“At least I fight for what I want!” Clarke exclaimed in response. Lexa laughed and shook her head. It was so typical for Clarke’s response to be defensively stubborn.

“Yeah?” Lexa questioned. “And what do you want Clarke?”

“I’ve fucked up, I know. We both have. I know running away wasn’t the answer, but I’m done running. I won’t be easy, I know that. I know that we’ll have to work at us. Hell, I know it won’t be easy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try,” Clarke explained as she took a step closer to her wife. “You’re the first person I kissed Lexa and I want you to be the last.”

“We had our chance,” Lexa shook her head.

“You’re wrong,” Clarke insisted. “You said that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, but you’re wrong. Because I love you. I didn’t just love you then; I love you now and I always will. You're the lightning that keeps striking my heart and I can’t get away from it. I can’t pretend it isn’t there anymore.”

“Whatchu wanna be married to me for anyhow?”

Lexa watched as a smile spread across Clarke’s face and she knew they were both remembering the first time they’d been caught in a storm together on the very same beach, in the very same spot.

“Well before they died, my Momma and Daddy always told me that they got married ‘cuz they wanted to marry their best friend. And you’re my best friend,” Lexa answered matter-of-factly.

“That the only reason why you wanna marry me?” Clarke taunted.

“Well that, and so I can kiss ya anytime I want,” Lexa smiled, causing the smirk to fall from the younger girl’s face.

The memory of their first kiss flooded over them both as Lexa waited for Clarke’s response, knowing the exact one she’d get.

“Whatchu wanna be married to me for anyhow?” Lexa’s words had once belonged to Clarke, and this time is was Clarke who responded to them.

“So I can kiss you anytime I want,” Clarke echoed the words of years earlier.

It was Lexa who took the final steps forwards, closing the distance between herself and her wife. She crashed her lips against the blonde’s and wrapped her arms around her, lifting her slightly off the ground.

“And you’ve always been my best friend,” Clarke added after Lexa put her down and rested their foreheads together. “You always will be.”

They stood there in the rain together when blue and red lights startled them. Lexa wrapped a protective arm around Clarke as the police car pulled up. Both women smiled as Lincoln exited the vehicle.

“I hear you two ran out on a perfectly good cake. There’s a wedding reception going on, but the happy couple is nowhere to be found,” he yelled over the howling wind of the storm.

“What do you say we finally get that first dance?” Lexa asked as she took Clarke’s hand and led her towards Lincoln’s car.

 


 

The reception had been moved to Grounders and the place was haphazardly decorated with whatever wedding decorations anyone had grabbed from the Blake plantation.

Anya carried the cake into the bar and placed it in the center of the room. She looked at the rigid figurines of a man and a woman on top of the white pastry. She shook her head and threw it away. Seeing his opportunity, Bellamy snuck behind the bar and grabbed an old toy with two plastic block-shaped fighters on it. He ripped them off the toy and placed them on top of the cake.

On the other side of the bar, Monty was struggling to hang a “Just Married” banner above the pool table. He was hanging one side up, but the weight of the banner unpinned on the other side threatened to tear it down. Suddenly the weight was lifted as the other side was pinned. Monty turned to see who was helping him and smiled in surprise as he recognized the man who had come down from New York with Clarke.

“I’m Nathan,” the man extended his hand.

“Monty,” he blushed slightly in return as he shook Miller’s hand. Their hands remained touching for just a moment too long for it to be a friendly, cordial greeting.

Abby put out her homemade pies and slapped Jake’s hand away when he tried to steal icing off the cake. Raven and Bellamy, despite having only just met the night before, were arguing about when they thought the wives would arrive, when Lincoln pushed open the door to the bar. The bells rang as the women in question entered behind him.

“May I present Mrs. and Mrs. Griffin-Woods!” Lincoln announced as he stepped aside to show off the women. Clarke and Lexa raised their hands to reveal that the sheriff had handcuffed them together, everyone in the bar cheered. Lincoln then withdrew his keys and unlocked them from each other. “On second thought, maybe leaving them with handcuffs isn’t the best idea.” His words elicited laughter all around him.

“I do believe I owe this lady a dance,” Lexa announced after their hands were free. She dragged the woman out onto the dance floor.

“Make it a good one, Ahn,” Clarke looked over Lexa’s shoulder and made eye contact with her sister-in-law. Anya grinned and turned on the jukebox, choosing the perfect song for the occasion.

Neither Clarke nor Lexa registered the appreciative cheers that the song earned as the first notes started playing. They were too busy looking at each other with grins on their faces, arms wrapped around each other as they started to dance.

Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the Southland
I miss Alabamy once again
And I think its a sin, yes

It wasn’t a typical song for a first dance, but they weren’t a typical couple, and this wasn’t their first dance as a married couple, but for all intents and purposes, they’d both think of it as that.

Well I heard mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don't need him around anyhow

Abby and Jake were the first couple to join them on the dance floor, but they were quickly joined by Lincoln and Octavia, then Jasper and Maya.

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you

Miller asked Monty to dance with him and the southern boy didn’t say no.

In Birmingham they love the gov' nor (boo, boo, boo)
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth

When Bellamy asked Raven to dance, she laughed and shook her head, saying she didn’t even know the words to the song.

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you
Here I come Alabama

Bellamy belted out the words to the chorus at Raven who laughed at him in return. When he asked her again to dance, she dragged him onto the dance floor.

Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they've been known to pick a song or two
Lord they get me off so much
They pick me up when I'm feeling blue
Now how about you?

Soon, everyone was on the dance floor paired up like the couples or Octavia and Lincoln’s boys. Anya leaned on the jukebox and took in the sight of half the town coming together to celebrate her sister and sister-in-law getting back together. Everyone was happy, but nobody more so than the still-drenched couple at the center of it all.

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you

“Is Alabama our forever home?” Lexa asked as she spun Clarke around, then pulled her back in.

“You’re my forever home,” Clarke cheesed back, earning a kiss from her wife.

Sweet home Alabama
Oh sweet home baby
Where the skies are so blue
And the guv'nor's true
Sweet Home Alabama
Lordy
Lord, I'm coming home to you
Yea, yea Montgomery's got the answer

The last notes of the song trailed off and a new song started. Several people left the dance floor, but Clarke and Lexa remained, dancing long into the night. They stopped only to cut the cake. A large swipe of icing had been taken out of the pastry when they went to cut it. Abby blamed Jake. Octavia blamed her kids. Monty jokingly blamed Fuzz. Of course, nobody saw the cat with the burnt tail hiding in the corner of the bar.

Finally the night came to an end and Clarke rode shotgun in Lexa’s truck back to their home. They hadn’t left each other’s side all night and the drive back was no exception as Clarke nuzzled into Lexa’s side as the brunette drove. Neither of them had had more than a glass of champagne to drink that night, but they felt drunk on love.

When they arrived home, Lexa stripped Clarke’s damp gown from her body and Clarke returned the favor. The brunette carefully unpinned the elaborate updo on her wife and when blonde curls fell across her face, Lexa brushed them back and kissed the pink lips she loved.

They didn’t spend long rediscovering each other’s bodies, the fatigue of the day finally getting to them, but they knew they had the rest of their lives to rediscover one another.

 


 

Clarke and Lexa Griffin-Woods spent the first six months of their new married life in Birmingham, where they ran the store together. The transition period wasn’t easy. They fought nearly daily after the honeymoon period wore off, but they never went to sleep angry, and soon they found each other again. Old wounds were healed and faults forgiven.

A month after they moved into Lexa’s home in Birmingham together, they had their worst fight.

“We have no friends here! All we do it go to the stupid store, spend the day there, then come back home, eat dinner and go to bed. I can’t handle it!” Clarke exclaimed, having gone fully stir-crazy.

“Then why don’t you just run away back to New York if you hate it that much,” Lexa had yelled back in return. “That’s what you do, isn’t it? Run away when things aren’t perfect, when they aren’t what you expected them to be.”

“Maybe I will!” Clarke walked away from her wife, making her way to the door. “At least in New York I have friends and I actually feel like I’m doing something other than running a store!”

“Leave then, no one is stopping you!” Before the words were even completely out of Lexa’s mouth, Clarke had opened the door and left, slamming it behind her.

An hour after Clarke left, Lexa tried calling her, but Clarke had left her cellphone behind. She knew Clarke needed space, but she was still afraid that her wife had left her again. She didn’t fall asleep that night, instead she kept herself posted up on the couch, refusing to sleep until Clarke came home.

She came home just before sunrise. Lexa looked at her through bleary, tired eyes as the blonde entered their home. Neither woman said anything right away. Clarke slipped out of her shoes then crawled onto the couch with Lexa, bringing her into an embrace.

“I drove back to Polis,” Clarke finally explained. “I was going to just go to my parents’ house, but I knew they would yell at me. So I went to our house there, but I knew right away it wasn’t where I was supposed to be. It’s not home if you’re not there. You’re my home. I’m sorry.”

Lexa rubbed Clarke’s back and they fell asleep in each other’s arms on the couch. The next day, Lexa let an employee run the store for the day as she took Clarke to the back studio where she taught her how to blow glass. A week later, Clarke started to use the back office to get back to sketching designs for a new clothing line.

A month later, when Lexa was busy with clients all day, Clarke went back into the back studio where she spent hours working on a glass piece. It wasn’t perfect by any means, it wasn’t even that good, but after she presented it to Lexa, Lexa put the vase in the middle of their kitchen and Clarke promised to always have it full of flowers. Lexa loved flowers, a secret only Clarke knew.

Clarke finished her sketches for her new line and started to contact vendors about it. When Vanity Fair ran an article titled “Clarke Blake No More - Clarke Griffin-Woods!” detailing the woman’s love story, Deep South Glass took off even more than it had been before. They started receiving orders from all over the country.

The decision to move back to New York City was an easy one. Neither woman felt that Birmingham was their home, and despite their love for the small-town, Polis was too full of ghosts for them to return to. Clarke was able to return to her career as a fashion designer, her career skyrocketing into new heights of success as Lexa ran her business from the city.

They took many trips back to Polis over the years. A year after moving to New York, they landed at JFK after visiting for Christmas and ran into Finn Collins. He greeted the pair warmly and introduced them to his fiancee, Laura Vanderbilt. After they chatted for a bit, the two couples parted ways amicably with plans to meet up at an upcoming gallery opening.

Lexa and Clarke spent every Christmas in Polis until the year they were both thirty-three, nearly eight years after moving to New York City together. The couple had planned to host the holiday at their apartment. They’d made plans to have an elaborate meal, aided by Abby in cooking. Lexa still was a horrible cook.

Christmas Eve was a quiet affair, the big plans were for the next day. Jake and Anya played chess while Abby started to cook for the next day. Newly married Raven and Bellamy had shown up with bottles of wine, Bellamy having moved to the city after they married. Abby abandoned her cooking when Miller and Monty showed up with their twins, cooing excessively over the three-year-olds.

It was supposed to have been a quiet night, but that changed when Clarke went into labor. She wasn’t due for another week, but it seemed like their baby wanted to have their first Christmas sooner rather than later.

Noelle was born in the first hours of that Christmas morning, the perfect Christmas present. She came home several days later in a stocking and Clarke only had a minor heart attack when Lexa pretended to hang their newborn in her stocking above the fireplace.

Years passed and the Griffin-Woods family enjoyed their life in New York City as well as the many trips they took to Polis, Alabama.

Just as with Christmas, the Griffin-Woods family returned to Polis annually for the Catfish Festival. The year Noelle was ten, her mothers let her wander alone through the festival for the first time. Of course, she wasn’t really alone. She had her honorary cousins to follow around and the friends she’d made from spending so much time in the small town over the years.

It was a total accident that Clarke and Lexa witnessed their daughter’s first kiss. They had been walking through the fairgrounds, hand in hand, just enjoying being with each other, when they passed by the game booths. They watched as their daughter threw a softball at old milk bottles, knocking them down.

Octavia and Lincoln’s youngest child, Bear, a year older than Noelle, was with her. Noelle cheered after she knocked down the bottles.

“I told you I could knock ‘em down!” she grinned at Bear. “So now you gotta kiss me.”

“Okay,” Bear grinned in return before quickly pecking Noelle’s lips. Noelle grinned as she pulled away, then grabbed Bear’s hand.

“Come on,” she exclaimed. “Let’s go find another game I can beat you at.”

Once the two children were out of sight, Clarke and Lexa broke out into laughter, before finding themselves in each other’s arms, having their own kiss underneath the fairground lights.

Neither Lexa nor Clarke were sure when they first fell in love, but they did know that they had a love that never ended. They’d struggled, but found each other in the end and that was all that mattered. Sometimes lightning can strike the same place twice.

Sometimes what you’re looking for is right where you left it.