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Morningside

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“Mom is going to kill me.”


Clarke can almost hear both Blake siblings roll their eyes on the other side of the phone. Bellamy and Octavia have been in her life for as long as she could remember, sharing in the greatest of triumphs, and teasing her over her greatest of screw ups. After seventeen years, they feel more like siblings than good friends.


Bellamy voice filters through the phone almost immediately. “She won't. Not if you don't tell her.”

“Have you MET Aunt Abby?! She always just knows when Clarke does something bad.” Octavia is just as quick with her response.


“Exactly! Skipping school, stealing the car and driving to another city? I'm getting grounded for sure.” Clarke chews on her bottom lip, “And that's not even counting the—what, four felonies I've committed just to get the address.”


The younger girl counts them off, “Bribery, blackmail, forgery, fraud, and obtaining information by illegal means. That's five.”


“Thanks, Octavia.” Clarke deadpans.


Clarke hears Octavia yelp in pain, before Lexa's voice comes through. “If you're doubting this, why don't you come home? We can figure something else out.”


“No, I…” She shakes her head, as she tightens her grip on the steering wheel. “It has to be me, and it has to be today. If Mom's test finds something…”


The seriousness of the unspoken statement settles on them. Sometimes hope gets the best of people, corrupting the wants and needs of those who dared to dream. Clarke could not let that happen, not now. There was too much weighing on what she had to do.


Clarke takes a deep breath. “Okay, I'm going.”


“Good luck! It’ll be fine.” Octavia Blake, ever the optimist.


“If you need anything—”


She cuts Lexa off. The older girl is so protective of her, which is something Clarke loves about her. But she needs to be strong for herself right now, and so she catches herself before falling into Lexa’s safety net.

 

“Thanks, you guys. I'll call you on my way back.” She hangs up without another word.

 

The teenager takes another deep breath. Clarke doesn't have much of a plan, just a general idea, and a lot of questions without answers. It takes her another five minutes before she steps out of her car.

 

The blonde isn't quite sure how she made it to the front door in one piece; by the time her hand starts to move, she can feel her whole body shaking.

 

“Come on, Griffin. You're just knocking, relax.” Before Clarke can second-guess herself again, she reaches up, and knocks.


 

There was nothing better to Raven than lounging at home. Lazy mornings are rare in her life, and so she milks it for everything it’s worth. The mechanic (ingenious mechanic, if she did say so herself) was just settling in with a mug of coffee… when there's a knock at her door.

 

“God freaking damn it!” The 35 year old takes her time walking to answer; she had made it through one full month of nonstop projects, flying back and forth across the country with no time in between. She deserves one morning of peace.

 

She tugs at the door with more force than was required, coming face to face with an incredibly nervous-looking blonde teenager.

 

“Umm... hi?”

“Hi. Are you Raven Reyes?” The girl is putting on a brave face. Beneath a layer of determination, the brunette watches worry play behind her eyes.

 

The brunette tries to shake off her annoyance, “Yeah, I am.”


“Good, I was kinda hoping this was the right place.” The determination is back full force as she holds out her hand to shake.


“Nice to meet—”


The teenager cuts her off. “I think I'm your daughter.”


“Excuse me?!” Raven yanks her hand back in a hurry. “I'm sorry, but you are seriously deranged if you think you're my daughter.”


Clarke crosses her arms, frowning at the change in the older woman. “You're named as my parent.”


“You must have the wrong Raven Reyes. I don't have a kid.” Raven must be in a nightmare; there’s no way this is actually happening.

 

The brunette only manages to start her walk back inside when the blonde speaks again.


“So are you saying you WEREN'T engaged to a woman named Abby twelve years ago? You know, my other mom?”


Raven’s blood runs cold; her arms falling to her sides, her left hand tugging at the leg of her sweatpants as she closes her eyes. It takes her far longer than she cares to admit before she can face the teenager again.


“Clarke.” The name came out in a sigh.


Clarke’s eyes flash in anger. “Looks like I'm not so deranged after all.”


Raven bows her head. “I didn't mean that, I just... I wasn't expecting to ever see you again.” This is even worse than a nightmare; this is the reality she’s been running from for years.


“Yeah.” She nods once. “I'm right there with you.”


They are statues on either side of the doorway: Clarke with her arms crossed, obviously jumping between emotions as the seconds ticked by, while Raven leans on the door jam, carefully sidestepping every thought of the distant past that played through her mind.

 

Twelve years of moving on was undone with one knock on the door, and no matter how much she tries, Raven can’t change that. The mechanic looks hard at the kid in front of her, then sighs.

“I assume you're here for a reason, right?” Against her better judgement, the brunette nods toward the open door. “I have a couple hours free.”


Clarke is all too eager to walk inside, leaving Raven to follow at a slowed pace.

 

Some days it REALLY doesn’t pay to get out of bed.




“You hungry? I don't have much, but I think there's enough for breakfast.” Being a hostess isn’t exactly her strong suit, but she figures that would be enough for a seventeen year old.


Clarke gives an awkward shrug, cavalierly dropping her stuff on the floor while poking around the main level. “I never say no to Monkey Toast.”


Raven has to laugh. The morning after they'd met, Raven had cooked Abby this out-of-this-world-amazing stack of breakfast food. It could generally be considered French toast, but with more of a cinnamon bun and chocolate chip pancakes taste to it. In her culinary delight, Abby had nicknamed the meal 'Grease Monkey Toast', and never gone back.


“Abby still calls it that?” Raven shifts her weight onto her right, using her left for stability as she ducks to grab the pan from her cupboard.


Clarke quirks a smile. “She even makes an ungodly mess on purpose. She says it makes it authentic.”


They both laugh, before the teenager's expression sours.


“She hasn't really made it in a while, though.”


An uneasy tension fills the room, and the brunette has to fight everything in her not to pry. Even after all that time, Raven knows to let Clarke come to her, instead of forcing the issue. And so, in the bowels of her kitchen, Raven turns back to the meal, adding vanilla, and a hint of orange juice to the mixture.


“Don't you have school today?”

 

Safe topics first, heavy stuff later… Or never. Raven would prefer never.


“This is a school project. Get to know your parents.”


She can tell Clarke is lying before she even finished speaking. As a toddler, her little girl would always twitch the side of her mouth when she wasn't being truthful, a mannerism she shares with Abby.

 

Raven decides to let it slide for the moment. “What, is Jake too busy, or something?”


Clarke’s entire being darkens; her voice dropping to just above a whisper. “My dad died last year.”


That takes the wind right out of her. Raven opens her mouth to respond, but Clarke continues.


“He wasn't wearing his seatbelt, and got into a car wreck. He went through the windshield.”


Raven lowers her gaze sadly. After having a rocky start, she and Jake had become quite close while raising Clarke. “That's awful. Your dad was a good guy.”


Clarke’s head whips up in surprise, her brow knitting deeply. “You knew him?”


“Umm, yeah. We did the co-parenting thing for a long time, and he even came to stay with us when his roof caved in.” Raven moves back to the stove, and forces her voice into something akin to nonchalance. “Did he and Abby ever…”


“They got married when I was nine.” Clarke watches her closely. “I got to be the flower girl.”


“Oh. That's…” She struggles to find the right words. “Good for them.”


The blonde lets her stew in her obvious regret for a moment, before she throws her a bone.


“My grandparents forced them into it. The whole common law relationship wasn't working with their rich, country club image.” She shrugs. Her mom’s parents weren’t the greatest; they cared far too much about their image and their second estate in the Hamptons than they probably should have, but they also cared about Abby’s well-being. In their misguided way, they were always trying to make sure Abby did what was best for her.

 

“Mom and Dad loved each other, but only as best friends.”


Raven lets out a shaky breath. This hadn’t even been in the realm of what she’d imagined for her peaceful morning.


“How did you meet?” At Raven's backward glance, Clarke clarifies. “My mom, I mean.”


“You don't want to know that story.” The mechanic turns her attention back to the food.


The seventeen year old makes a show of pulling a notebook out of her backpack.


“It's for school, remember?” Abby's cheeky half smile plays on Clarke's lips, and Raven knows she's a goner.

 

Abby’s smiles came in three categories: warm and cute, devious, and maddeningly sexy. The first felt like home; they radiated safety and love in ways Raven couldn’t describe. The second was the most dangerous. Anything from a trivia fact to a dirty joke warranted a devious smile, giving Abby the power to disarm anyone's defenses. As a personal rule, Raven tried not to think about the last category.

 

Clarke’s smile was all devious; and the mechanic doesn't bother to fight the urge to give in.


The brunette rolls her eyes, trying to feign inconvenience. “Fine, you win. It was just under eighteen years ago, and The Ark got hit with a serious storm…”


 

Raven had been driving along in a torrential downpour, when she saw a car stalled at the side of the road. At first, the 18 year old hadn't seen anyone, assuming the driver had found a way home. But as she got closer, she could see a woman standing out in the rain, looking about as miserable as the weather.

The young woman rolled down the passenger window and slowed as she drove. “You could catch a cold standing out here like that.”


Abby gave her a slow shrug, “The only constant in my life just died on the side of the road. I don't really have it in my to care right now.”


That got her attention. In an instant, Raven was pulling up in front of the stalled vehicle, grabbing her umbrella, before she trudged out into the rain.


“Hey, you know Sinclair, right?”


Abby nodded briefly. Her best friend Callie had introduced her to the engineer a few months earlier, and then dragged her to a party at his apartment not too long after that. If she thought about it, Abby could distinctly remember the younger brunette winning a drunken bet with the rest of the Physics majors just as Abby had followed Jake Griffin into one of the spare bedrooms.


The intern shut her eyes tight, letting her head fall back against the hood of her car.


“Are you okay?” Raven frowned.


“Yeah…” She looked almost peaceful leaning back against her car; head thrown back as rain poured down her face. “No, not at all.”


The mechanic watched Abby carefully, her eyes widening as she took in how the stranger hands fell to her stomach, and cradled her middle, caressing it almost lovingly.


“So... Come here often?” Raven took a shot in the dark with her joke, hoping it would be well-received.

 

She was elated to see a smile creep onto the other woman's face.


“Oh yeah, all the time.” Elation quickly gives way to despair as the smile disappeared. “Especially after my parents kick me out.”


Raven gaped at her.


“What?! But you're pregnant!” She was quick to backtrack, as she gestured wildly toward Abby's hands on her middle. “I mean, I don't want to assume…”


The older woman shut her eyes miserably. “Yes, I'm pregnant. That's why they did it.”


She threw her voice to mimic her mother's pinched, high pitch. "Abigail, how could you throw your life away like this?! You are right in the middle of your time as a resident in the ER; you were on the fast track to a promising career, and now it's gone."

 

She uselessly wiped the tears from her eyes.


“I don't even know why I'm telling you all of this. I don't even know you.”


Raven gave her a soft smile, while holding her hand out to shake. “I'm Raven.”


The older woman hung her head, but dutifully shook her hand. “Abby. Only my parents call me 'Abigail'.


“I like Abby better.”  And she really did.


The defeated shrug was back again.


Raven scuffed her boot against the ground. “I don’t mean to be blunt, but you do NOT look old enough to be in med school, let alone an resident.”


“I skipped two grades when I was little.” Abby said wryly.


That was pretty impressive, actually. Most people in Arcam—or ‘The Ark’, as the defiant non-Latin speakers called it—weren't overachievers. They grew up, they found jobs, and continued living the monotonous life their parents had.

 

It was rare for anyone to reach for more.

 

“Not bad.” Raven pointed to herself. “Youngest mechanic in the state in 52 years.” She shrugged. “Not to brag, or anything.”


Abby humoured her with half a smile. It didn't take long for Raven to realize she needed to take a different approach.


“Abby, how do you feel about pizza?”


“I…” She blinked at Raven. “I'm sorry?”


“You know, pizza. An Italian dish made of a flat dough, baked with toppings on the top.” A cheeky smile played on her lips.


“Oh, of course. That pizza.” There was finally a lightness in her voice. “I love it, but I can't really account for my aversions right now.”


“That's okay.” Raven nudged her. “Maybe we could move all your stuff into my truck, and then figure out which Italian delicacy your baby loves?”


Abby looked as though she was ready to agree, but a glance between her car, and Raven's made her hesitate.


Right. Abby had said it was her only constant. “Don't worry about your car. I'll get my friend to tow it to the garage, and I'll fix it myself.”


The resident visibly relaxed in response to Raven's caring smile. It was the first time in a while that anyone had showed her unrestrained kindness. Even if nothing came of it, Abby would try her best to appreciate it.


“In that case, pizza would be great. Thank you, Raven.”