Clarke would be lying, if she had told anyone that work was her sole focus on this particular evening. It wasn’t every evening that she felt this detached. Clarke loved her job. She did. This residency was her final step to becoming a surgeon, to making something of the miserable choices that constituted much of her childhood life. She hadn’t known her own potential. The Blakes did. They always saw the persistent, intelligent girl, behind fiery blue eyes that could ignite wars. She snapped back to attention, feeling guilty for having wasted any of the precious time she was given to learn.
“Clarke?” A deeper voice sounded from behind her, making her jump.
“Dr. Jaha.” Clarke whipped around, feeling a hand on her shoulder, clad in a white coat.
“Please, Clarke, how many times have I told you? It’s Wells.” His voice was warm, welcoming. Wells was like sitting by the fire after a day out in the snow. Clarke found him endearing, a source of great friendship…but more? Clarke wasn’t quite done braving the blizzard. To settle down with someone like Wells? Not after Finn.
“Wells.” Clarke examined his warm chocolate eyes with some sense of embarrassment. How long had she been gazing out the window?
“Eyeing the famous Ark Hospital view huh?” Wells leaned against the wall, arms crossed. He watched Clarke’s previous spot, by her favorite windowsill on the highest story. Before Clarke could answer, he seemed to soften up a bit. “I mean, not that I blame you….DC is a place of beauty. Well, besides the monsters that lurk around at night and all that…” He jerked his head toward the general direction of Capitol Hill, and Clarke couldn’t help the little laugh that escaped her lips.
“It’s Friday night, Clarke. The night is young. Go home. Go out. Get away from here.” Wells finally broke, and Clarke could tell that he had caught on to her reverie. She needed a break. She was tired.
“Wells…” Clarke ran a hand through her hair absently. “I love this job.”
“No one works harder to save these people, Clarke. You don't have to tell me.”
“But…sometimes I feel as if…maybe I’m in the wrong line of work.” Clarke admitted, sucking in a breath. She'd never really said that out loud before. The icy feeling in her chest was both painful and liberating all at once.
Wells treated her confession quizzically, raising a brow. “Uh.” Was the first incoherent form of communication that spilled from his lips. “What do you mean? Wasn't your mother-“
Clarke abruptly cut him off, unwilling to delve into her personal affairs any further. “Sometimes I think…if we had more power, more initiative to do something…..we wouldn't have to heal all these people.”
Wells looked as if he’d been struck by understanding. He began nodding slowly. “Power…like the Blakes?”
Clarke hadn't even realized what she’d been implying. “Well…now that you mention it…I guess.”
Wells’ brow furrowed and suddenly he was shaking his head. He looked around, ducking his head quickly so that they were mere inches apart. “Clarke!” He hissed, vigilant eyes watching the lit hallway outside their enclosed break room. “What they do…it's not safe. It's a dangerous game they play. People like you and I…. we clean up the messes. We fix things. They are the reason people come to us shot up, Clarke. They're all bad- the Blakes, that Woods girl…the ‘commander’ or whatever the hell her street name is…”
Clarke couldn't help it. She burst out laughing. Maybe it was the irony of it all, the fact that she’d grown up with all the illegal escapades of the Blakes and their underground gang wars, contraband raids, their less than savory methods of…pushing their product to the streets. She watched Wells’ horrified expression with one of pity. How little he really knew.
“How could you be laughing?” He looked incredulous.
“The commander? Really? What does she have an army?” Clarke scoffed, turning to grab her bag from the table she’d left it on. She’d never even met the infamous ‘commander’. How dangerous could she be?
Wells’ voice carried her out the door as she saluted him with a wry smile.
“That’s exactly what she has.”
“You’re late.” The unmistakable snark of Raven Reyes was somehow sweet to Clarke’s ears as she made her way down the last steps of her apartment, changed and showered after her tiring day of work and strange exchange with Welles.
Clarke eyed the brunette, clad in her typical work attire. Leather jacket, ripped jeans, and a ponytail. At least that was some sort of constant in Clarke’s tumultuous life. Clarke took in a breath of the sharp evening air, pulling her own jacket a little close to her.
“Good evening Raven. I had a great day at work, how about you?” Clarke’s overly cheery voice sent the message, and Raven relented from her casual position, leaning against her jeep.
“Come here, Griff.” Raven pulled her into a hug, and Clarke reciprocated, grateful for the warmth. “Busy day?”
Clarke shook her head and blew a breath. “It’s always busy at the Ark.”
Raven made a face of disgust. “Hospitals aren’t my thing…. But I love sending people there.” She smirked. “Which I’m sure I accomplished today. Got to meet my quota and all that.”
Clarke rolled her eyes. “I guess there are some advantages to playing body guard for the Blake siblings.”
“Some? Try a lot.” Raven made her way over to the driver’s side. “Watch out, there’s blood on the front seat.”
Clarke, about to lower herself into the chair, quickly tore herself back. “What?” Her voice was tinged with concern, and a little remorse.
Raven barked out a laugh. “I’m just kidding…God, you are tense tonight.”
“So…” Clarke murmured absently as she shut the door, watching as Raven pulled out onto the main street and began the usual route to the Blake office building. “Not that I mind the ride, but…shouldn’t you be on Octavia duty? Bellamy usually has you watching her like a hawk.”
Raven winced. “Actually…O snuck out, and she got into a bar fight last night.”
“Whoa.” Clarke leaned back in her chair. “That must’ve been some spectacle. How did Bellamy punish her this time?”
Raven rolled her eyes. “Murphy. He’s been on her ass all day, doing my job.”
Clarke shook her head. “She’s grown up. She can handle herself.”
Raven clicked her tongue in disagreement. “Hardly. She loses her temper whenever she runs into any of the Grounders. Woods has them on a tight leash.”
Clarke frowned. There was that name again. Maybe the rivalry was heating up after all. “You mean the commander?”
Raven grinned, making a sharp right. “Yeah that’s what we’ve taken to calling her. Good to know word still spreads like it used to.”
Clarke watched the lights blur past her window, as if she were a comet hurdling past the now illuminated streets of DC. She wondered how many people’s wishes she too could disappoint. Comets never worked for her as kid, anyway.
“Hey…” Clarke’s murmur left a fog on the cold window she’d been pressed up against absently. “That’s not the right way to-“
“-detour.” Raven cut her off. “Bell asked me to grab a package for him from some legal office downtown.”
Clarke shifted in her seat uncomfortably. Maybe those energy drinks weren’t going to pay off, since her shift was effectively cancelled.
Raven, like clockwork, pulled up to the side of a long series of buildings that took up the whole of the street and beyond. Clarke glanced up at the majestic height of some of the structures, their black tinted window panes reflected the sun kissed horizon that was rapidly greying. She regretted the fact that she had no way of painting what she was seeing. She really needed to start carrying her supplies around with her.
“Got to pee?” Raven’s voice shook Clarke from her thoughts.
“Huh?” Clarke eyed Raven curiously. “How do you-”
“You’re swaying back and forth like a virgin at prom, Clarke.” Raven accused with a small smile. “Use that building right there- I’ll just be a minute.”
“Raven, I can hold it.”
“No, you can’t.” Raven’s tone was final.
Clarke glanced up at the building before her. There was an awning, and an intricate plaque on the marble wall. The sign read: “Marcus Kane, Legal Services.” As she approached it, she was relieved to find the fluorescent lights through the window. She turned around, disappointed to find that she was alone. Raven had snuck off as usual. She pushed the heavy, metal framed doors in, quietly and modestly, as if she were entering a great cathedral.
Clarke found herself in what appeared to be the main lobby of the firm, adorned with pictures, bookshelves, tables and magazines. A security guard was standing stiff against the far wall, leaning against the black marble, her eyes trained on Clarke, and yet no offending movement was made.
Clarke glanced down at her jeans and sports jacket, and not for the first time in her life, realized her own inadequacy. This place was posh, and she was an eyesore.
There was a young receptionist at the front desk, looking as polished and proper as the rest of the building. He was typing away the computer in front of him, his Bluetooth speaker buzzing away in his ear as he would occasionally grunt a kind word of approval to whatever client was on the other end of the line.
“Ma’am, Mr. Kane isn’t seeing anyone at the moment.” Suddenly the receptionist clicked off his earpiece and rose from his chair, clasping his hands together. He eyed Clarke once over, not in the flirtatious way, but in the slightly judgmental way. Clarke tried not to shrink under his gaze.
“I’m so sorry, I just…” Clarke leaned to one side awkwardly. “Is there any way I could maybe…” God, this was embarrassing. “Use the- “
“The lavatory is down the left hall, about five doors down.” The man seemed to understand, though his tone showed no sign of acceptance.
“Thanks, I… Thanks.” Clarke didn’t know what to say, and she quickly found herself flushed with embarrassment. She headed down the hall, leaving behind the guard and receptionist with haste. And then her eyes fell to the photos that adorned the walls. There was a man in a suit, in almost every photo, smiling or shaking hands with various icons. Celebrities, politicians, socialites…Marcus Kane must’ve had one hell of a talent for law.
Clarke’s musings led her to the end of the hall, as she eyed every picture with curiosity.
It was the shouting that startled her. It was a girl. She was in a fit of rage, it seemed. Clarke quickly identified that the shouting was coming from the large double doors behind her. The main office. Clarke couldn’t help it. Intrigued, she tried to hone in on the argument.
“I don’t care how much it costs, Kane.” The same voice that was yelling moments ago was now calmer, heavier, brusque. In control. Clarke didn’t know that voices could be attractive. But this one…it was an enigma to her.
“Ms. Woods, would you please listen?” A man’s baritone voice rang from the other side of the room. It was exasperated, like a parent trying to console a child in a fit.
“No, Kane, I’m tired of listening. You listen.”
Damn, Clarke thought. She’s relentless.
“People are dying. And you’re telling me there’s no connection? No probable cause? Not enough evidence for you to give up one of your own elite, more like it.” The girl’s voice was unwavering. It gave Clarke goosebumps.
“Miss Woods, come now. That’s hardly fair. We’re on the same side!” Kane’s voice was desperate now. He might have been losing whoever this Woods character was, as a client.
“We’re done here.”
Clarke fell flat on her ass when the double doors swung open, revealing a tower of a man, and beside him, a tall, slender woman. The fall was less than graceful, and the reception of her eavesdropping? Even more so.
“Who the hell are you?” The woman’s voice was cold, sneering almost. The tips and length of her hair were blonde, but as Clarke’s gaze drew closer to the face, she saw that her roots were dark. Not that her hair color was pertinent though, because she still looked like she was about to hand Clarke’s own ass to her. No one offered Clarke a hand. Clarke remained firmly planted on her seat on the floor, overtaken by a mixture of fear, embarrassment, and dread.
The brute of a man leaned forward, and Clarke got her first good look at him. He was just that- a brute. His long hair was pulled back, his face largely covered by a beard most Vikings would envy. “She was listening-“ His hand, raised back to do some damage, no doubt, was caught behind him. The gargantuan man froze, lowering his hand at once.
“That’s enough, Gustus!” There it was. That voice. Clarke scrambled to her feet, simultaneously as Gustus stepped aside, to reveal the most beautiful woman she’d ever seen in her life. And she’d seen Octavia. And Raven.
The first thing Clarke noticed were her eyes. They weren’t warm, like Welles. They weren’t comforting. They felt electrifying, a bright, sharp green gaze that held the power to stop time itself. And her eyeliner, black, thick, threatening, complimentary. Her lips were next. In fact, Clarke spent a little too much time staring at them, so much so that she ended up biting her own. And then her arms, her slender build apparent even under her business suit. And her long brown hair, parted to the left, cascading like a silk waterfall of waves over her shoulder.
“I…I didn’t hear…I’m just looking for the…uh….” Clarke began stumbling over her own words, incoherently trying to express her confusion, mild fear, and apology through her tone.
“Gustus….leave us.” Miss Woods, presumably, made a dismissing gesture in the air and suddenly Gustus was unsurely lumbering down the hall and out to the back.
Anya, the other tall girl, glanced behind her. Kane must have left through the back way once her associate decided on a dramatic exit. She shut the door behind her, eyeing Clarke brutally.
“Who are you?”
Clarke’s mouth dried. This was trouble. And that had to have been the great Lexa Woods.
“No one.” Clarke shook her head. “I’m no one, I’m-“
“Answer the question.” It was Anya who issued the threat, pressing a binder of important looking documents to her chest impatiently.
“I can speak for myself, Anya.” Lexa snapped. Anya fell silent once more. Lexa’s eyes roamed Clarke’s body, and while Clarke could have imagined a million other ways in which it might have otherwise been a pleasurable experience…it was threatening.
Lexa rocked back on her heels, satisfied that Clarke was no immediate danger.
“I’m Clarke Griffin.” Clarke internally smacked her forehead. Why. Why did she just reveal her identity to her own worst nightmare? It was something in her that wanted to appease Lexa, to show her that she wasn’t weak, unafraid to confront her.
“Clarke Griffin….” Lexa drawled, a smirk adorning her full lips. “I’m-“
“Lexa Woods. I mean, Miss Woods of Grounder Corp.” Clarke blurted out. She turned beet red. What a royal fuck up.
Lexa raised a brow curiously, but before she could speak, Clarke intervened. “You and your company are…renowned, at Ark Hospital…. where I work…I’m a surgeon…. well, not yet, but-“ Clarke was desperately trying to cover her own tracks. Lexa couldn’t know that Clarke knew about…everything else.
Lexa looked impressed. “A doctor? At Ark?”
Clarke nodded, swallowing thickly. Anya was eyeing her like a lion eyed its prey before the fatal pounce.
“Do you like your job?” Lexa asked suddenly. It was a rare chance for Clarke to divert the subject, though, and she took the chance.
“Hmm? Oh, I love it. In fact, I was just talking about….” She trailed off abruptly when she realized she had in fact been regretting her job that very afternoon.
“We need a resident doctor, in the building.” Lexa’s voice rang with authority, with opportunity.
“In a pharmaceutical building?” Clarke raised a brow. “Don’t you have plenty-“
Anya snapped, gaining Clarke’s attention. “We have matters…of urgency, sometimes. Other times, we just want someone to file paperwork. You look like you could handle that, blondie.”
Lexa eyed Anya with some amusement. Anya handed Clarke a black business card, ushering Lexa away with a glance at her watch.
“Come in for an interview…you might like the change of pace.” Lexa called over her shoulder.
Clarke’s phone started blaring then, before she was able to muster a reply. Raven’s face filled the screen, a rare smile on her features. Clarke answered instantly.
“Clarke? Where the hell- how long does it take you to pee? I have the package, let’s go!”
Clarke sighed, dusting off her pants from the fall. “Yeah yeah, I’m coming.” She muttered, hanging up.
Clarke had just met Lexa Woods. And she’d survived.
It had been a ritual. Ever since Clarke and Raven were fifteen and Bellamy was twenty years old. They would meet after a long week of work, in one of the conference rooms in the Blake office tower, and talk about their days. They would fill each other in, make jokes, comfort one another…it was the closest thing Clarke ever had to family. Monty, Raven, and Murphy were later additions, but still welcomed. Bellamy had found jobs for them all. Raven and Murphy were his eyes and ears on the streets. His muscle. Monty was his numbers guy. His tech, his informational genius.
At the age of thirty, he’d ascended to the throne, the lofty position of C.E.O of Blake pharmaceuticals. His sister was on the board, and together, they ran one half of the both legal and illegal drug empire that ravaged Washington, D.C. each night.
The other half belonged to Lexa Woods.
That’s what they’d told Clarke ever since she became part of their inner circle. Ever since they pulled her off the streets and gave her a home, and goals, and financial aid to educate herself. They were everything to Clarke. They were all she had.
By the time Clarke stepped off the golden plated elevator, she could hear the music. It was upbeat, dance music, the kind she would get tired of after hours of clubbing with Raven and Octavia. It, in its own sickly little way, felt like home too.
She pushed open the doors to Conference Room A, the one on the highest floor, with the greatest view. So unlike Bellamy to settle for any less.
Clarke and Raven were greeted by a hug. Clarke got a whiff of the perfume, the straight dark hair, and she immediately knew. She watched the brunette tenderly pull them both into a hug, her eyes gleaming with delight. She was so young, carefree, and headstrong…Clarke adored her two friends.
“Hey Octavia.” She murmured into her friend’s arms, laughing as Raven rolled her eyes and tried to get out of the hug.
“Raven come on!” Octavia yanked her back into the embrace. “It’s been a very…testosterone filled day. I need some girl love right now.” She glanced at Murphy, sprawled out at the far end of the table with his hands behind his head, feet on the table, and scotch in hand. He rolled his eyes and nodded at Clarke and Raven, taking a sip of the amber liquid.
“Hey guys!” Monty called from behind them, carrying several bags of take out. “It’s Friday, and that means Chinese!”
Murphy snorted, leaning back in his chair.
“Just because I’m Asian, it doesn’t mean-” Monty’s rebuttal to Murphy’s insensitive teasing was cut off by a loud throat clearing.
Every head in the room turned to see Bellamy himself, clad in his usual suit with the necktie hanging around his shoulders instead of being properly fastened on.
Raven leapt out of her small window of opportunity to avoid Octavia’s hug. “This better be good, Bell. We’re just about to eat.”
“I have a hot date this evening.” He announced, smirking when Monty dropped a box unexpectedly while Octavia rolled her eyes.
“Again?” Clarke was the first to speak. “Didn’t you just break that girl’s heart…. what was her name…. Monroe?”
Bellamy shrugged. “I tell them not to get attached. Not my fault if they fall for the good old Blake charm.”
Murphy leaned forward to grab a box of takeout. “Who is it this time? Senator’s daughter? Supermodel?” he smirked.
“A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell.” Bellamy announced, pulling Clarke and Raven in for a quick hug before settling down to eat.
“Technically you haven’t kissed yet.” Clarke muttered, tossing him a pair of chopsticks.
“What are you jealous?” Murphy kept his voice low, elbowing Clarke in the side. “Want some of that d-
“NO.” Clarke’s refusal sent him into a fit of laughter. “Never. Like, ever. In a billion years.”
“Even if we were the last people on earth in a nuclear apocalypse that wiped everyone else out?” Murphy tried once more.
“Ha, especially then.” Clarke retorted, grabbing a loose noodle.
“So, who wants to go first?” Bellamy asked around, watching his companions tear away at their food mercilessly. “Griffin? How was your day at the ark?”
“Good.” Clarke nodded, chewing slowly to save herself the effort.
“Just good? How’s that Wells kid going for you?” Octavia chimed in knowingly.
“He’s getting nowhere. That Welles kid is just a friend.” Clarke replied, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. She was fine, after Finn. She didn’t have to move on right away. “But….” Clarke trailed off. “I did run into Lexa Woods today.”
Bellamy and Octavia dropped their utensils. Raven started choking. “You what?” They all cried at once, the sudden upheaval surprising Clarke.
“Yeah, like…Physically. She offered me a job…” Clarke continued.
Bellamy was in hysterics. “SHE WHAT?”
Clarke leaned back in her chair, suddenly uncomfortable. “Yeah, um-”
“Did you accept, princess?” Murphy didn’t let her finish. He knew Clarke hated that name.
“I said…well, I didn’t really say much of anything.” Clarke sighed. “What the hell do they need me for-”
“Who the hell cares?” Bellamy was fired up, leaning forward in his chair. "Maybe they need a resident doctor."
Clarke’s eyes widened. “OH.” She blinked for a moment. That made sense. That’s why Anya was so unwilling to explain herself.
“Clarke, you have to take it. You have to tell us how she operates, who her clients are….” Octavia began, eyes alight with curiosity. She was as energetic as her brother.
Raven’s eyes were wide. “We’ll have them on their knees!”
Monty looked uncomfortable. “Uh…is this safe? For Clarke?”
No one answered.
“I don’t know…” Clarke shook her head, thinking of Lexa’s intense green gaze. She’d die under her watch, surely.
“Clarke…” Bellamy reached across the table, grabbing either of Clarke’s hands. “Please.”
Clarke glanced down at her food, then up to each expecting set of eyes that awaited her confirmation, and she found that she couldn’t buckle under the weight. They needed her, just like she needed them so many years ago. Just like Finn needed her when she couldn’t save him.
“Fine.” Clarke sighed, watching the uproar of celebratory outbursts from everyone but Monty, who looked concerned. “I’ll call her next week.”
Clarke Griffin was going to spy on Lexa Woods.