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You're the Light That Lifts Me Up

Chapter Text

Something was off.  

Clarke sat on the sofa in her living room, head back with her blonde hair spread out behind her, blue eyes closed, a furrow between her brows as she listened to the music pulsing through her earbuds, but her mind was not on the music. 

She felt weird.

Well, not weird exactly, but certainly out of sorts and it bugged her to no end that she couldn’t figure out why she felt so off. She thought back to the dream she had had the previous night and shuddered slightly, wondering if that was the cause of this indefinable feeling she had in her gut. But she was no stranger to the dreams that invaded her sleeping mind like a fog, that quietly creeps under a door or through a crack; silent and unassuming until it engulfs everything and leaves you blind and searching for a way out. Or in Clarke’s case, sweating and gasping and blinking back tears in the dark of her room. 

The dreams had become more frequent recently, varying from the norm of only disturbing her slumber every few months, to almost weekly occurrences since September. Not that they were always disturbing she thought with a brief smile, and even the more heart-wrenching ones had hints of joy and unbridled happiness. So, she didn’t believe her unease came from that source; this was different.

 

Clarke pushed the dreams to the back of her mind and focused on her upcoming hockey game. It was a regular season game like any other, but there was something… that was it! It was how she was feeling about this game that was different. Why? She wondered, it was just another game, wasn’t it? Clarke thought about it for a few minutes, getting nowhere and solving nothing as she let the last notes of the most recent song fade out before she sighed and shut down the music on her phone, checking the time as she did so.  She heard her parents in the kitchen, so she stood up and made her way into the other room.

"Hey kiddo," her father said as he smiled at her.  "Ready for the game? The last one before the winter break, then you'll have a bit of rest until after the New Year," he added.

Clarke smiled back as she nodded her head, but then her brow creased slightly, and her smile dropped for a moment.  It was only a brief lapse, but her father noticed anyway.

"What's up, Clarke?" he asked softly, watching her carefully as she lifted herself up to sit on the counter.

Clarke raised her eyes and looked at her father curiously. "What do you mean?"

"Well, usually you're bouncing around before a game, nervous energy and all that," he said while waving a hand in the air. "You seem preoccupied today. So, what's up?"

Clarke sighed. "I don't know, Dad. I am looking forward to the break." She shrugged and thought a bit more about the game before she continued. "Maybe it's what Octavia said yesterday about this team," she added. The hesitation in her voice made it sound more like a question than a statement. Jake frowned and opened his mouth to respond, but before he could Abby walked into the room joining the conversation.

"The Grounders, right?" her Mom asked, smacking her daughter on the behind while shooting her a very pointed look to get off the counter.  Clarke rolled her eyes, but acquiesced and sat on one of the stools in front of the counter instead. Abby placed a thermos and some sandwiches on the counter and started packing them into a bag. "What about them? You haven't played them yet this year, but most of the teams stay pretty consistent from year to year, don't they?"

"Yeah," Clarke replied distractedly, before pulling her face into a frown again thinking about the stability of the teams in the league and all the girls she has gotten to know over the years. She usually knew what kind of game to expect from each of the teams; a bit rough, or dirty, or if the girls were just out to have some fun and get some exercise.

Clarke looked at her parents and continued, "Octavia went and watched their last game and said that they have a new player this year. Apparently, she's really good and has changed the dynamic of the team a lot. They’re rougher, more driven, and more intense than she’s ever seen them.” Clarke paused, thinking about what was bugging her and tried to articulate it for her parents.

She sighed and with a shrug of her shoulders said, “I guess I just don’t know what to expect today. Octavia said they made this new girl the captain already, and the rest of the girls pretty much do everything she says. Even though most of the girls are the same, they are not the same team they were last year.”

Her dad eyed her narrowly. "Are you worried about it, or just nervous?" he asked.

I don't know, she thought.

Clarke shook her head and bit back her first response. She made an effort to shake off her disquiet and to project her usual pre-hockey bravado. She grinned at her parents. 

"You guys know I don't worry about hockey. I play to have fun, see my friends and get some exercise."

Abby rolled her eyes at her daughter and lightly slapped her on the shoulder. "Right.  And you don't enjoy winning at all," she teased grinning at her daughter.

Clarke smirked as she got up from the counter.  "Winning is always a bonus," she said lightly as she walked out of the room. Despite her tone, though, she was still trying to sort out the nagging unrest that was nibbling away at her and making her feel slightly nauseous.

Fifteen minutes later her parents were waiting patiently by the door as Clarke struggled with her giant gear bag containing pants, shoulder pads, shin guards, gloves, skates, helmet and other assorted protective gear.  She huffed as she dropped it by the door and leaned her sticks against the wall. Pulling on her coat and her shoes Clarke bent down to pick up her bag again and stopped halfway through the motion.  Straightening, she bolted back down the hall towards the bathroom, yelling "I'll be right back" over her shoulder at her parents.

A few minutes later she came back to see amused expressions on her parent's faces.

"What?" Clarke scowled at them as she wiped her hands on her pants. "You know I get nervous butterflies before a game."

"Sure, but three times Clarke?" her mother smirked. "That's a record. You must really be nervous for this one."

Clarke rolled her eyes, picked up her gear and glared at them. "Can we just go please?" she growled.

"Aye-aye, Captain." Her dad saluted, and took Clarke's bag from her and walked out to the car.

Clarke grabbed her sticks and headed out after him while her mom locked up the house and followed behind.

 


 

 

Clarke's parents left her in the lobby of the DC Ice Arena and headed in to find some seats from which to cheer and potentially embarrass their daughter.  Clarke watched them go with affection, shaking her head. The next thing she knew strong arms were wrapping her up from behind and lifting her off the ground.  Clarke squealed in surprise, before a voice she instantly recognized whispered in her ear "Go get em' Princess."

The arms put her down, and she spun on her heel to slap Bellamy Blake on the arm. "You scared me, jerk face!" she said with a smile. "Hi, O," Clarke said still smiling, as she looked behind Bellamy to his sister -- and Clarke's best friend.

Octavia stepped up with a smile of her own and hugged Clarke. "Hiya, Griff," she said, and added "Ready for the game?"

"Haven’t I told you before that I was born ready?" Clarke sassed back with raised brows.

Octavia laughed and pulled Clarke toward the locker room.  "See you later, Bell!" she yelled over her shoulder at her brother, who waved in return before giving them both a thumbs up.

"Have you seen Raven yet?" Clarke asked Octavia as they walked down the hall.

"No, not yet.  Just you.  They're probably all in the dressing room already."

No sooner were the words out of Octavia's mouth, then they were pushing open the door to their team's locker room, the noise from within washing over them with comfortable familiarity. As they entered, they were greeted by a chorus of shouts of welcome and some slight teasing about being the last ones there.

"Well, well, well. Our fearless leaders have finally graced us with their presence," Clarke's other best friend stated with a smile. Raven, dark eyes twinkling, half dressed in her sports bra and hockey pants, socks bunched up around the tops of her skates, stood up and walked over to Clarke throwing an arm around her shoulders.

"I was beginning to think we were going to have to handle the Grounders without our Captain and her lovely Assistant," Raven said as she winked at Octavia.

Clarke groaned and elbowed the dark haired girl lightly in the side, saying "Get off me and finish getting dressed."

"Sure thing mone Capitan," Raven shot back, as she released Clarke and headed back to her spot on the bench to tape up her hockey socks to hold them in place over her shin guards.

Clarke and Octavia found some space and began to dress for the game. Someone, Clarke wasn't sure who, plugged in their phone to some portable speakers and music began to pulse around them, pumping them up for the contest ahead. They pulled on their Arker jerseys; sky blue with white shoulders. The Arker's logo printed on the front - a silver ring imprinted on a starburst of silver and gold, representing their sponsor, Ark Technology – incidentally, the company her father founded and runs.  Silver numbers on the back round out the uniform and Clarke ran her hand over the number 3 screened on her jersey before lifting her jersey over her head. It had been Clarke’s number forever, ever since she strapped on her first pair of skates when she was three years old.  Hockey had become her favourite thing, so the year she became a hockey player became her number for life. 

The girls were excited and ready to go.  Clarke looked around at them and smiled with genuine affection – they really were a fantastic bunch of girls, and they had a great team dynamic; all of them got along and worked well together, which was to be expected since most of the team had been together since the team started over four years ago. The team had lost a few girls over the years as they left for schools out of the city. However, new players were always willing to move up from lower divisions to play with the two -time, Division 1 champions, so they always managed to maintain a high level of skill and great personalities over the years.

Octavia noticed Clarke's glance around the room and nudged her shoulder, startling her out of her reverie. "What's up?"

"Nothing," she replied. "Just thinking about what a great group we have here."

"Yeah. They're all pretty cool," Octavia stated as she looked around. Then she added softly, "We wouldn't be the team we are without you, though."

Clarke looked up and saw the sincerity shining in Octavia’s bright blue eyes, and felt warmth blossom in her chest. Octavia wasn’t given to emotional displays or statements, which made her comment all the more meaningful and Clarke blushed slightly. "Thanks, O" she replied just as softly, bumping shoulders with the girl again.

The two girls finished dressing in silence, the music pumped around them, and a sense of anticipation filled the air.  Clarke felt as though this feeling of anticipation was different than previous contests -- she felt like she had been here before, done this before.  She shook her head to clear the deja vuof course, she had been here and done this before she thought to herself – once a week through the fall and winter, for years.  She gave her head another shake, still not able to put her finger on what was different tonight and focused instead on tightening her skates.

In what seemed like no time at all, the team was done their routine pre-game stretch to loosen their major muscle groups and were ready to go.  Their coach, Marcus Kane, came into the room to give them their pep talk. He said all the same things about teamwork and effort that he has said before every game, but this time, he seemed even more intense, less likely to throw his team a smile. Clarke wondered whether she was projecting her nervousness onto Kane and reading things into his speech that weren’t there. She’s quickly brought out of her contemplation by Kane's wrap up of "Heads up – eyes open! Play hard!"

The girls cheered and strapped on their helmets. Clarke quickly tied her wavy blond locks back into a low-hanging ponytail before she popped in her mouth guard and fastened up her helmet. Her team all looked to her before heading out, and she gave them a feral grin while simultaneously fighting down the unease she couldn't identify and yelled, "Let's do this!"

The girls all cheered again, and they stormed out of the locker room and out onto the ice.

Kane had already dumped the pucks onto the ice, and Clarke quickly put her spare stick against the wall with all the others near the team bench and jumped out onto the frozen sheet.  The other team had yet to arrive on the ice surface so for the time being the Arkers had the whole rink to themselves. Clarke took advantage and led her team in a few quick laps of the full ice sheet before settling into the warm-up drills in their end.  As Harper, their goalie, got her net ready by putting the pegs in and then banging it up and down to set the pegs in the ice, Clarke yelled out to her team to set up for the St. Louis drill. 

The St. Louis drill was designed to help skaters warm up their legs and practice their communication, passing, and timing.  It was also meant to help the goalie warm up and get her moving from side to side to help her stretch and get used to seeing shots. It was a standard drill and one that most teams used as a warm-up, and Clarke knew that her team loved to start with it as it got their blood going and helped pump them up. 

Immediately the team split in half, everyone taking a puck with them.  Clarke gave Harper a moment to prep her crease. She watched as Harper scuffed up the area by pushing hard into the ice in a back and forth motion to create a rougher surface in the area (which would theoretically help slow down any pucks entering the area) and then hollered out "Let's get moving!" With that Clarke took off towards the blue line, accepted a cross-ice pass from Octavia just inside as she curled back toward the goalie and streaked towards Harper.  She made sure to make the goalie move a little with the shot, but not too much – the point wasn't to score, after all, it was to make sure their goalie got warm, so she didn't get hurt. Octavia was right behind her having accepted another pass from Fox, and she made sure to move Harper a bit as well.  Clarke returned to the end of the line and watched her team as they methodically moved through the drill, everyone loosening up and getting warm through the simple action.

As Clarke took off for her second turn, after making a pass to Monroe, the Grounders made their appearance. Clarke was approaching the blue line as they came out of the hallway and onto the ice, and the first thing she noticed was that their uniforms had changed.  Gone were the teal and gold uniforms of last year. Now they’re a midnight black with a red left shoulder and a flowing red stripe down the left side of their jerseys. They were all wearing one red sock and one black.  The red sock aligned perfectly with the red stripe along the left side of their tops.

The numbers on the back are also in red, as was the Grounders logo on the front, both graphics looking as though they had been ripped into the material, creating the illusion that the material of the jersey was torn. Clarke faltered for a moment, missed a step and fumbled the pass that Octavia had shot from the corner. Cursing silently, she chased it down and missed the rest of the Grounder team as they stepped onto the ice.

Once back in line, Octavia skated up behind her and whispered in her ear. "What was up with that, Clarke? You never miss those passes."

"Shut it, O.  I guess I was just surprised by the uniform change.  Why didn't you mention that when you told me about the game, you went to?" Clarke said with a hint of accusation in her tone.

"I didn't know" Octavia replied evenly, totally ignoring her best friend's tone. "This is the first time I've seen them. They were still wearing their jerseys from last year when I saw them.  Maybe they decided they needed to step up their look before playing the defending champions" she said with a tight smile. "They are pretty intimidating…if you are the sort to be intimidated…which we are not." She stated emphatically before lightly smacking Clarke on the helmet and skating back to her spot in line.

"Right," Clarke softly said as she watched the Grounders begin their warm up.  She found herself looking for the new player, the one Octavia said was the Captain of the Grounders team.  It didn't take her long to find her.  The woman skated with confidence and a fluidity that Clarke envied. Clarke shook her head and mentally scolded herself before focusing back on the task at hand. 

The drill changed and the Arkers lined up around Harper and started peppering her with shots. At the other end of the ice, the Grounders were doing the same thing. As Clarke and her teammates continued to fire shot after shot at their goaltender, they were startled as one into stillness by the loud splintering of glass at the other end of the rink. They whipped around as a team to see that the glass directly behind the net had indeed shattered spectacularly.

"Holy shit," Raven murmured. "Did you see that?"

"See what?” Octavia and Clarke asked in unison. "What happened?"

"That one – I think she's the Captain…she's wearing your number Clarke," Raven stated, pointing at the player Clarke had been watching minutes before, before continuing in a hushed voice. "She fired a slap shot that went high, and it demolished the glass."

Octavia's jaw dropped, and Clarke's eyes went wide simultaneously.  Clarke hadn’t noticed that the opposing Captain was also wearing the number 3, and she wasn't sure how she felt about it. However, the rest of the team was standing around muttering, and Harper had a frown on her face, so Clarke pushed her unease aside, knowing she had to get hold of the worry that was starting to flow through her team.

She skated quickly over to Harper and whistled for her team to huddle up. "Listen up, you guys" she started, trying to exude confidence. "I don't want you to worry about this.  This glass gets hit all the time, and it was probably just a weak spot. I've seen the glass break in games when it's just a deflection off the goalie's blocker – it's nothing to worry about.  Let's get back to our warm up. I need to go shake hands; we get started in a few minutes."

Clarke slapped the closest of her teammates on the butt as they smiled at her, and she made her way towards her team bench.  Along the way, she made eye contact with Octavia and Raven, who both shot her a glance with eyebrows raised.  Clarke just shook her head at them and continued on her way.

Once she reached the bench, she took a look at her coach, noticing the way his forehead furrowed and that he looked lost in thought. "Coach?" Clarke prompted.

Kane straightened and focused on Clarke.  "Clarke," he responded curtly.

"Um, I'm just going to go shake hands, the girls are ready to go, I guess we just have to wait until they replace the glass."

"Fine," Kane stated, turning his back to the ice and digging through his bag to find his clipboard.

Clarke watched him for a moment before shrugging and headed to the opposing team's bench.  It was not mandatory that she shake hands with the opposing team's coach, but she felt it set a good example for her team.  Besides, she liked Coach Gustus; he had been the Grounders coach for as long as Clarke could remember.

As she skated up to the bench, Gustus saw her coming and stepped down to meet her, his hand outstretched.  "Hello Clarke" he boomed as he shook her hand.  "How are you? I see your parents are here as usual…they didn't bring the horn this time, did they?" he said with a twinkle in his eye and an exaggerated grimace on his face.

Clarke laughed as she shook his hand. "I'm good, thank you, and no. I won't let them bring that thing ever again."

Clarke let go of his hand and then nodded in the direction of the rink workers quickly replacing the broken glass behind the net.  "So, that was something," she commented, still smiling.

Gustus turned to look in the direction of her nod and gave a small nod in return. "Yes," he offered slowly. "I'm sure it was just bad luck – a weak spot in the glass perhaps."

Clarke eyed him closely and responded with her own quiet "perhaps." Then a more forceful "Well, have a great game, Gustus."

He responded in kind and then his eyes shifted to behind Clarke and he smiled again. "Ah, there you are Lexa," he said.  "This is Clarke Griffin, Captain of the Arkers," he said motioning to Clarke. "Clarke, this is my niece, Lexa Woods, Captain of the Grounders."

Clarke turned around, hand already outstretched and ready to meet the new captain. No sooner did she complete her turn and look at the slightly taller woman, then she froze.  Her breath caught in her throat and her mouth went dry as she found herself looking into the most intense green eyes she had ever seen.

Chapter Text

It was only a matter of seconds, but it felt like years to Clarke as she stared into Lexa Woods' eyes before mentally shaking herself.  Covering her embarrassment by clearing her throat, Clarke moved forward and shook the other woman’s outstretched hand.  Clarke looked at their hands when they clasped together, and she couldn’t help but notice how tanned and slim the hands were, how delicate they looked and how soft they were, but also how strong the grip was, and the slight calluses on the palm that encased in her own.

It set her hand ablaze.

"It's nice to meet you, Clarke," Lexa said.

Clarke glanced up at penetrating eyes and away again quickly before stammering, "It's...it's nice to meet you too."

Clarke suddenly realized she was still holding onto Lexa's hand and quickly dropped it, her hand recoiling like she had touched fire. Maybe she had. It sure felt like she had.

What the hell was going on?

Clarke glanced up again. Lexa looked at her quizzically, one brow raised in question, a small smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.

 

Clarke quickly looked away again and stammered "Have a...have a great game. Good luck." She bolted away from Lexa Woods and Gustus with as much dignity as she could muster.

‘What the hell,’ Clarke thought frantically. ‘What the bloody hell was that?’ She could still feel the weight of that green gaze on her own.  She thought she saw something in the girl’s eyes when their gazes first locked, but it was gone so swiftly that Clarke had no idea what it might have been. Or if she had even seen it all. Clarke looked down at her hand, still bare, her glove still tucked under her arm. She could still feel the heat of Lexa's palm burning into her own and the pressure of those slim fingers wrapped around the back of her hand. What. The. Hell. Clarke internally cursed as she skated back to her bench, climbed in and flopped down, bending to re-tie her skate laces while she tried to get control of both her emotions and her expression.


 

Lexa and Gustus watched Clarke skate quickly away and then turned to each other.  Gustus looked at Lexa with a small smirk on his lips, and Lexa raised an eyebrow at her uncle.

"Looks like you made quite a first impression," he said to her, his smirk turning into a grin.

"Shut up, Gustus." Lexa skated away to join her team in the opening cheer. Gustus' grin stayed plastered on his face as he began readying for the game ahead. He shook Coach Kane’s hand, they exchanged pleasantries and wished each other luck before Kane headed back to his bench.

 

As Lexa skated back to her team’s net for the game cheer, she was preoccupied.  When Clarke’s vivid blue eyes had met hers, there was a flash of recognition there for Lexa. She felt as if she knew her, had always known her.  Not to mention the spark and the tingle of electricity that had shot up her arm when they clasped hands.

Lexa had felt thunderstruck. It had taken every ounce of control she had not to gasp when their hands met. It was a good thing Clarke had been looking down when it happened, or she most certainly would have seen how her eyes had widened.  Lexa was also hyper-aware of how long Clarke had held onto her hand, but admittedly, she had made no effort to let go either.

There was something else as well, something Lexa couldn’t put her finger on, but it niggled away at the back of her mind, distracting her. She thought back to the game she had seen between the Arkers and the Ice Nation a couple of weeks ago. Lexa couldn't see Clarke's face clearly while she played; she had no idea her hair was so wavy and golden or her eyes so incredibly blue, but she also couldn't take her eyes off her. Lexa had been captivated by the way Clarke had played and led her team on the ice. She shook her head and decided to contribute her eerie sense of familiarity to having seen Clarke on the ice before.

 

Lexa skated up to her team and led them in the cheer “Go! Fight! Win! On three. One, two three…” she yelled, with her team yelling loudly after her.

She could hear the opposing team banging their sticks on the ice, faster and louder before the Arkers yelled out as a group “Goooooooooo Arkers!” as they raised their sticks in the air.

 

A few minutes later the ice was clear, the glass replaced, and the starting lineups had been called out by the officials.  Clarke had pulled herself together, refocusing her energy and her mind, ready to lead her team to victory. She stepped onto the ice with the rest of her starting lineup; Octavia on her right, Raven on her left, with Fox and Monroe pairing up on defence, and they skated to centre ice for the opening face-off.

 

It came as no surprise to Clarke that when she looked at the starting lineup for the Grounders, that Lexa was also playing centre. She avoided looking at her and instead set herself up for the faceoff, popping her mouth guard out and chewing on the edge before popping it back in with her tongue. It was a nervous habit and one she wasn’t conscious of at the time, but she’d replaced enough mouth guards that she was at least aware that she did it.

She lined up with her feet shoulder width apart and bent at the waist. She grasped her stick low, using a backhand grip on her lower hand for more power, and focused on the puck in the hand of the referee.  Lexa bent down into position as well and just before the puck dropped, whispered lowly enough that only Clarke could hear, "Good luck."

Clarke glanced up to see Lexa's attention on the puck, and at that very moment, the puck dropped from the referee's hand. Lexa won the draw easily.

Dammit! Clarke silently cursed and turned to follow the play after only a brief hesitation. As she worked to catch up and get back into a defensive position, she watched Lexa carry the puck into Clarke's defensive zone. Lexa was smooth and graceful. Her head was up, and she continually glanced left and right for her teammates.  The puck seemed glued to her stick as she moved through the zone effortlessly. 

Clarke dug into the ice harder and came up behind the Grounder captain. One more powerful stride and Clarke was just slightly behind the other woman. She quickly lifted Lexa’s stick, ducked under her slightly raised arm, and scooped the puck away. She peeled quickly into a tight 180-degree turn and headed toward the other end.

 

"Yeah, Clarke!" she heard from her teammates both on the bench and those on the ice as she raced down the ice.  She caught a glimpse of Octavia streaking past her on the right and fired the puck to her with a beautiful tape-to-tape pass. She then pumped her legs even faster to try to get in front of the Grounder goalie, to set up a screen and block her view from any potential shot. 

Octavia flew down the right-hand side of the ice, dropped the puck back to Monroe, and circled in front of the net with Clarke.  Monroe passed across to Fox, who hit Raven trailing across the blue line a moment later.  Raven took the pass and one-timed it towards the net, flat on the ice so that a teammate could easily tip it into the net.

Clarke felt the goalie’s stick poke her in the back of the legs and then a body pushed against her from behind.  She fought to keep her feet and her stick on the ice as she watched Raven's shot come in.  Just as Clarke was reaching for the puck to deflect it and change the angle, she found herself face first on the ice, having been dumped unceremoniously by the player behind her.  The puck bounced into the goalie's glove hand, the whistle blew, and Octavia was immediately in the face of the player that had dumped Clarke, yelling.

"What the hell!"

Clarke pulled herself up off the ice and stepped in between her best friend and the other player. "It's okay, O. I was off balance, there's no call. Settle down." Octavia grumbled a bit more but backed off, and it was only as Clarke turned to skate back to the faceoff dot that she realized the player that had dumped her was Lexa. They locked eyes and Lexa gave Clarke a quick nod, which Clarke returned before they lined up.

This time, Clarke won the faceoff straight back to Fox who wired a shot that hit the goalie in the left pad. The puck bounced straight out, and Clarke managed to get around Lexa with a quick spin to pounce on the rebound. Clarke fired the puck towards the net with a flick of her wrist that beat the Grounder goalie on the low glove side.  The puck buried in the back of the net and the Grounder goalie slammed her stick on the ice in frustration.

The Arkers erupted in cheers; Clarke and her line skated back to their team bench where they all got high fives before taking a seat as the second line took to the ice. Clarke glanced up at the clock and realized they had only been on the ice for just over two minutes, but it had felt much longer.  The game was already moving at a very quick pace, and they were going to have to keep their shifts to under two minutes from now on if they wanted to stay fresh enough to be on top of their game for a full 60 minutes.

 

Lexa and her line headed to their bench as well, and once there, Gustus gave Lexa a squeeze on the shoulder. "Not much you could do about that one, I'm afraid," he said.

"I shouldn’t have let her get around me," Lexa replied tightly.

Gustus let out a short bark of laughter before leaning down to Lexa's ear saying "Well, that’s something you’re going to notice about Clarke Griffin. She will always do what you think she shouldn't be able to. Forget knowing when to quit - she doesn't know how to quit. She’s also really competitive and stubborn. Like someone else I know," he added under his breath.

Lexa pressed her lips tight and readied herself for her next shift.

The rest of the period was uneventful, both sides trading shots that both goalies stopped. The second period began with the score: Arkers 1, Grounders 0.

As Clarke lined up for the start of the second period, she noticed that Lexa's line wasn’t the one lining up. It was the second line.  What is Gustus up to? She thought, before looking over to Octavia and shooting her eyebrows up. Octavia nodded quickly before taking a quick step back from the faceoff circle and the opposing player checking her. Clarke looked at Raven, and the same silent communication passed between them. 

The Grounders second line was not as talented as Lexa’s first line, just as the Arkers second and third lines were not as talented as Clarke’s top line.  Generally, the second and third lines were not as fast as the players on the top lines, nor quite as skilled in regards to skating and passing.  All the girls were talented of course, or they wouldn’t be playing Division 1 hockey, and for the most part, the differences in the lines were not that evident. However, Clarke knew that her line was faster than the line they were currently up against, what’s more, she knew Gustus knew it too, which was why she was confused.

The whistle blew, and the puck dropped.  Clarke won it after a very brief struggle, pushing the puck between the other centre's legs and then hopping around her, while she was off balance, to pick it up.  Raven and Octavia were already on their way.  Clarke fired another perfect pass to Raven's waiting stick. The two girls flew into the offensive zone, leaving their slower counterparts behind them. The defender on Raven's side fell while trying to turn to keep up with her, so there was only one defender trying to stop the both of them.

Clarke followed, skating in the trailer position.  Raven dropped the puck for Clarke who sent it immediately to Octavia. She picked up the pass easily, faked the goalie to the left, before burying the puck in the right side of the net, just barely squeaking it between the goalie's skate and the post.  Once again the Arkers team erupted, and the girls skated back to the bench for a round of high-fives. Clarke’s line sat down and the Arker’s second line skated onto the ice to line up for the centre ice face-off.

 

Clarke quickly realized that Lexa's line was now out against the Arker's second line.  It didn't take long to tell that the Grounder's top line was also much faster than the Arkers currently on the ice and Clarke watched as Lexa spun away from one check after another before passing to her winger and heading to the net. The winger let a shot go, and Lexa was unmovable as she stood her ground to deflect the pass past Harper. Just like that, the game was 2-1.

 

The Arker's next line went on, but Lexa's line did not come off, and Clarke finally realized what Gustus was doing.  Clarke looked back at a frowning Kane, knowing he wouldn’t match lines – not yet. As she thought he would, he let the line stand, as their team had always been about fair playing time. 

As the game got underway, it took less than a minute for Lexa to find the back of the Arkers’ net again and all of a sudden the game was tied.  The game continued, the defensive plays at both ends got more intense, and both teams failed to score for the remainder of the period. As the seconds ticked off the clock and the second period came to an end, the score was tied 2-2.

Clarke and her team made their way to their locker room talking quietly amongst themselves. Clarke was pleased that there was no negativity in the discussions she overheard, just ideas of how to do better. Once inside the room, they all took a seat on the bench and pulled off their helmets and gloves, and thirstily squirted water into their mouths from upended water bottles.  As Clarke looked around the room, she noticed the red, sweaty faces of her teammates, and the look of determination in their eyes and it made her heart warm. Sitting next to her, Raven pulled out a towel from her bag and hastily wiped away the sweat that was dripping down the sides of her face and into her eyes. 

“God, this game is intense,” she huffed as she continued to wipe the sweat off the back of her neck and then moved to wipe the condensation on the visor portion on the upper half of the face shield on her helmet. 

“You’re telling me,” stated Octavia from the other side of Clarke. “I haven’t worked this hard in ages!”

Clarke looked at both of them before replying. “It’s good though, don’t you think? They’re really pushing us. We haven’t had to try this hard in a long time. Playing like this will only make us better, I think.”

“Oh, I agree – entirely,” Raven piped up. “I just wish it didn’t hurt so much,” she added with a grimace.

Clarke and Octavia both chuckled at their friend before settling into silence as their coach entered the room.

Kane gave them all a pretty serious pep talk during the break, about sticking to checks and staying in position.  Then he said "What do you all want to do about their first line?  I know we decided on equal playing time, and I will honour that if you all want me to. Or, we could match lines so that our best is out when their top line is."  He looked around the room and met all the girl’s gazes one by one. The silence was broken only by an occasional cough and the sound of hockey pants shifting on the wooden benches.

"Match lines, Coach," Emori, a third line winger offered when it seemed the silence would stretch on. The rest of the girls nodded along, some also echoing Emori’s statement.

"As captain, are you okay with that, Clarke?" Kane asked.

"If the girls are okay with it, then so am I," Clarke replied. "Let's go get our lead back!" she added to the rest of her team.

The girls all shouted out their approval and encouragement, and they headed back to the ice for the start of the third and final period.

 

The third period began the same way the first period did, minus the soft 'good luck' from Lexa.  Clarke glanced up at her as they settled into their positions, but Lexa was looking at the referee's hand with a determined expression on her face.  Clarke thought it was cute and immediately wondered where the hell that thought came from.  She shook her head and focused on the puck as it dropped to the ice.

Lexa won this draw and practically ran over Clarke in the process. Clarke hit the ice with a grunt, and immediately got back up and into the play.  The shift was intense, both lines played on the edge, without being dirty.  The Grounders were fierce, with Lexa yelling out orders like a general and the rest of the line doing exactly as she said.  The Arkers were more subtle in their voices and mannerisms, but still looked to Clarke for direction and were just as quick to respond to her.

The shift ended in less than two minutes, which felt more like five to the girls on the ice.  They got back to the bench huffing for air and squeezing water into their mouths. In what seemed like seconds, Kane was ordering them back out to match up with the top Grounder line once again.

 

The following shifts for the top line of the Arkers seemed to blend together.  More than once they found themselves flat on the ice or taken heavily into the boards. Taking a player into the boards was always risky regarding whether it resulted in a penalty or not, and it seemed as though the referees in this game were willing to let the girls play.  As long as sticks didn’t come up across the back of a player as they went in, elbows didn’t come anywhere near an opposing player's head; if the defending player didn’t take a run at the player they were attempting to check or leave their feet when they made contact, and hands stayed on their sticks, the refs let it go. 

It wasn’t that both teams didn’t move a bit faster into the boards to make more of an impact, or that they made any more effort to slow down as they went in, but both teams checked from the side rather than from behind. The loud bangs and crashes against the boards were more to do with both players hitting at once than because one player was hit too hard. It was more exhausting to try to work their way out of those situations once pinned on the boards than the actual hit itself.

It was the most grueling game the Arkers had ever played, but they gave as good as they got and the score of the match didn't change. There were a couple of penalties called when play got a bit too rough and tempers got a bit too high, but for the most part, they played well and kept their checks clean.

Both teams were enjoying the battle of the captains. Clarke and Lexa faced off against each other again and again, both winning their fair share of faceoffs and both getting in their share of licks and bumps to all other members of the opposing lines. They were both playing better than either had ever played before in their lives. The moves they made were breathtaking and more than once the tide almost turned in each teams’ favour. However, the goalies at both ends of the rink also put in masterful performances, determined to give their team a chance to win.

 

More than once, Clarke thought she was in the clear, only to have Lexa appear out of nowhere and strip her of the puck, causing Clarke to switch to defence and backcheck like crazy immediately. On several occasions, Lexa would be skating down the ice near the boards and suddenly feel herself mashed against the semi-forgiving glass before realizing that it was Clarke who had managed to bump her off the puck enough to lose control and for Clarke to skate away with it.

Both girls found themselves battling the other for position in front of the nets, and pinned into the corner of the rink trying to dig the puck out of their skates to take the advantage. The battles were intense, neither wanting to relinquish anything to the other. They had to earn every possession, as neither knew how to give up.

On one impressive play, Lexa had managed to make it into the Arkers’ defensive zone, still in full control of the puck.  One of her wingers ran interference on Monroe and effectively took her out of the defensive play.  Fox on the other side of the ice was busy guarding the other winger so that Lexa wouldn’t have a pass across. Raven and Octavia were left near the points at the blue line preventing a potential drop pass to the defence, which left Clarke as the last line of defence before Lexa could reach Harper.

Clarke’s eyes narrowed as she watched Lexa approach her at full speed, keeping her eyes on Lexa’s hips instead of her shoulders.  Shoulder fakes could fool you:  a dip here, a quick drop there to throw you off stride. The hips though, it’s almost impossible to fake with those.  Where your hips go, the rest of you tends to follow, so it was there that Clarke focused her attention. 

Lexa tried a few moves, but Clarke stayed right with her, backing up a few steps as Lexa moved in and then slowing down so that she could meet Lexa on the next move.  She timed it perfectly and stepped into Lexa’s next move, making sure to keep her stick low and on the ice, but raised her hands slightly on her stick so that she was pushing against Lexa’s hip and waist to slow her down. She effectively stood Lexa up, and the puck slid harmlessly towards Harper who covered it quickly with her glove hand, getting a whistle and stopping the play.

Clarke backed away from Lexa at the whistle, but not before hearing the taller girl huff slightly and mumble “great defence” under her breath. Clarke lowered her head before quirking her lips into a small smile before she skated back to her bench for the shift change.

With less than two minutes left in the game, the top lines came on again for what would most likely be the last time.  As they lined up, Lexa glanced up at Clarke and noticed a drop of sweat run down her face to the tip of her nose. Mesmerized, Lexa watched as the drip fell from Clarke's face onto the ice where it instantly froze, before she was forced to stand up quickly to readjust her position and get herself together before the referee could drop the puck.

 

The next two minutes were intense. There were another couple of close calls at the Arker's end, Harper practically standing on her head with her acrobatics at one point to keep multiple rebounds out of the net, and one incredible chance off of Raven's stick in front of the Grounder's goalie. After Raven had accepted a perfect pass from Clarke, she managed to bank the puck off the boards around her defender before she picked up the puck again and let loose a wicked shot to the high blocker side, only just missing putting the puck in under the crossbar. It hit the bar with a resounding metallic ‘ping’ instead, indicating, for everyone to hear, how close it had been. Every single girl played as hard as she could, going harder than she had ever gone before; leaving everything on the ice. However, time wound down, and the buzzer went off with the score still tied 2-2.

 

The teams poured out of the benches and headed to their respective goalies. High-fives and back slapping were the norm after a hockey game, but today it was even more boisterous, more energetic.  Clarke felt alive – tired, but so alive.  She knew they had played well and she was very proud of her team. The group cheered for the Grounders, and they headed to centre ice to shake hands. Clarke let the rest of her team go ahead of her so that she brought up the rear.  As the two teams moved past each other shaking hands, their gloves tucked up under an arm or held loosely in the other hand; she was pleased to hear the genuine sentiment behind both teams 'good game' as they shook hands. 

"That was quite a game, hey, O?" Clarke quietly said in between nods and handshakes with the other team.

Octavia had been at the front of the line and had circled back to Clarke so that they could thank the referees together.

"Yeah, it was intense, but I really enjoyed it. Who knew we could play like that?  Who knew you could play like that?” she side-glanced at Clarke. “Where did that come from?" she teased.

"I have no id..." the words caught in Clarke's throat as her outstretched hand was grasped again, but, this time, she felt an electric tingle move through her palm and up her arm. She snapped her head around to see Lexa Woods' eyes boring into hers through the visor of her helmet, emerald green and brilliant. Clarke's mouth again went dry, and she barely registered the slight squeeze on her hand and the quiet "Great game, Clarke," that issued from Lexa’s lips.

She bit down on her lip, nodded slightly and added just as quietly "You too."

She stared at Lexa for a heartbeat more before a not-so-discreet cough cut through the silence. Clarke once again quickly disengaged her hand and turned to a smirking Octavia. 

"Uh, sorry, O.  Octavia, this is Lexa Woods.  I think you became acquainted with her once or twice against the boards earlier," Clarke said with a grin.

"Very funny, Clarke," Octavia shot back before looking at Lexa and offering her hand. "We probably already did this, but this time, at least, it's a proper introduction," Octavia said to the other girl with a smile. "That was a great game; I enjoyed it a lot."

"It was," Lexa returned, looking again at Clarke.

Clarke returned the stare for a moment before Octavia interrupted with a nudge to Clarke's side looking to the far side of the ice, "Shoot, Clarke, we didn't thank the refs. Let's go. Bye Lexa, thanks again for the great game," she added with a nod to the other girl and grabbed Clarke's arm and yanked her toward the departing referees.  Clarke, usually very assured on her skates, stumbled slightly with the quick and unexpected change of direction, and Lexa shot out a hand to steady her.  Clarke sucked in a sharp breath as Lexa's hand settled firmly around her forearm, but she pulled it back quickly as Clarke regained her balance.

"Thanks," Clarke breathed.

"No problem," Lexa returned softly.

"Um, I better go catch up," Clarke said as she motioned to the departing Octavia. Lexa just nodded quickly, and Clarke started to skate away but then stopped and turned back. Looking back and forth quickly between the ice and the woman standing in front of her, she said hesitantly, "Hey. We, our team I mean, always head out to the pizza joint after a game, you.... and your team," she added quickly, "are welcome to join us if you like."

Clarke wasn't sure why she invited the other team, it wasn't something she had done before, and so she chalked it up to the holiday spirit, and the excessive amount of decorations adorning the rink. She tried to convince herself that it was not because she wanted to get to know Lexa Woods better.

 

Lexa nodded again and said she'd ask her team, so Clarke skated away from Lexa and caught up with Octavia in time to thank the officials before they left the ice surface. Lexa watched her go and made her way over to her team bench to collect her water bottle and extra sticks.  Gustus was still there, waiting for her, and handed her the water bottle which she quickly upended, squirting the remaining water into her mouth and over her face. As she brought the bottle back down, she met Gustus' twinkling eyes and saw the barely suppressed amusement dancing there. Lexa glared at her uncle and growled, "What?"

"What, what?" he replied with a shrug, his face twitching in his effort to suppress his smile.

"Just say what you want to say," Lexa shot back tightly.

Gustus shrugged again before finally releasing the smile that had been tugging at his lips, "I told you they'd be a match for you," he chortled. "I told you that this team was different than the others we’ve played so far.  There’s a reason they’re the defending champions."

He looked at his niece, watched the different emotions chase themselves across her eyes, while her face remained impassive. "Hey," he softly said to her. "I know you wanted to go into the break with a 6-0 record, but a tie is not a defeat. That was an incredible game. You should be proud of the way you played, and how the team played."

Lexa sighed and looked up at her uncle. "I know," she said. "It was a great game, and I’m not that disappointed that we didn't come out of it with a win - not against them," against her, she thought. "I haven't had that much fun in a long time. She...they," she corrected quickly, "really pushed me to be better than I have ever been."  Lexa glanced quickly to her uncle to see if he caught the slip, but if he had, he didn't mention it.  Instead, he clapped her on the back and said, "Let's go talk to our team. The girls already grabbed your sticks for you."

Lexa nodded and then remembered Clarke's invitation. "Their captain, Clarke, invited our team to join them for pizza if we want to," she mentioned to Gustus as they headed to the change room.

"Did she?" he asked with surprise. "Well, there's a first time for everything, I suppose," he said with a laugh.  "Do you want to go?" he asked her.

"Do you think the rest of the girls will want to go?" Lexa asked back, avoiding the question.

"Well, let's ask them," he said as they pushed through the change room doors to address their team.

 

In the Arkers’ change room, the excitement and energy were palpable.  The music blared, and everyone was talking about the game:  how much fun it had been, the difference between the Grounders last year compared to now, and how well everyone had played.  There were numerous kudos for Clarke's play and the way she managed to shut down the Grounder captain.  Clarke acknowledged most of the compliments with quiet nods as she undressed, thinking back on the game herself. 

Kane had come in to address the team, and he had mentioned to them that he had gone and seen the Grounders play the week before, and was unsure how the team would handle the new and improved team.  He expressed his pride and satisfaction with how the girls had handled themselves and chastised himself for worrying about their ability to meet the challenge. Kane praised them for their effort and reminded them to try not to eat too much and to keep up their training over the break. With one last word about seeing them later for pizza, he walked out to let the girls finish changing.

 

As the team continued the comfortable routine of undressing, packing their bags and showering, amid the teasing and camaraderie, Clarke called for their attention.  Immediately the girls settled, the music was turned down, and 13 sets of eyes focused on their captain.

Clarke cleared her throat, looked around the room and said, "I am so proud of each and every one of you for what we accomplished today. We may not have gotten the two points for the win, but it was a win nonetheless in my books.  We did things, together, out there that were amazing and I can't wait to see what happens for us next.  Playing a team like the Grounders only makes us better and allows us to reach our full potential. It was hard; it was bruising; it was exhausting," she added with a quiet chuckle. "But, it was also the most fun I have had all season. Feeling the energy in this room, I think most, if not all of you, agree with me." She smiled as she watched the girls all nod, and slap each other on the back.

"So," Clarke added with more force, "in the spirit of the holidays, I invited the Grounders to come with us for pizza after the game. It was an impulsive decision, so I hope everyone is okay with it, but I know we all have a lot of respect for Coach Gustus, and I think sharing a pizza with the Grounders is an excellent way to start our break. Maybe we’ll even make some new friends."

Clarke looked around the room, trying to push down her uncertainty as she sought to gauge the reaction of her teammates.  Some sat with small frowns on their faces; others were smiling and nodded to each other and nudging the girls who seemed unsure.

"I think Clarke is right," Octavia piped up from beside her, Raven nodded along as well. "I know it breaks with our team tradition, but it is the holidays, so I say let's be merry!"

At this announcement, the last of the frowns faded and a new and renewed excitement filled the room as the girls continued to get changed.

Clarke sat back down and looked at Octavia and Raven beside her.

"Thanks," she softly said, sincerity apparent in her voice and her eyes.

Both of her best friends looked at her and smiled at the same time.

"No problem Griff," Raven said. "Maybe next time, though, you should talk about it with the team first before changing the game plan."

"You're right. I'm sorry," Clarke responded, catching O's nod at Raven's words. "I'm not sure why I did it, except that it felt right. I don't even know if they’ll come." Clarke tried to ignore the feeling of disappointment that settled in her gut at the thought that the Grounders and their captain might not show up at the pizza place. She tried to ignore the fluttering of panic that also seemed to settle in her chest at the thought that she might not see Lexa until the next time their teams met, weeks in the future, and she realized suddenly that that was an unacceptable outcome.

She just didn’t know what to do about it.

Chapter Text

Clarke, Octavia, and Raven all came out of the locker room and headed up to the lobby together.  Upon entering, they immediately noticed Bellamy standing with Clarke's parents and Gustus.  They were all smiling and laughing together, and the sight brought a smile to Clarke's face as well.  As they got closer to the group, Jake noticed them and broke away to sweep his daughter up in a bear hug.  Clarke squeaked and dropped her gear to hug her dad back.

"That was an amazing game," Jake told her as he put her down. "You were amazing," he added with a look of pride.

"Thanks, Dad," Clarke smiled at him. "It was a lot of fun."

They made their way to the rest of the adults and joined the small group. All were commenting on the game.  Bellamy hugged his sister, high-fived Clarke and punched Raven in the shoulder.

"Ow! Jerk!" Raven yelled as she punched him back.

Bellamy just grinned and offered Raven a ride to the restaurant.  She accepted readily, and the three of them waved to the Griffins and Gustus, saying they would see them soon.

Gustus then looked at Clarke, "I heard you extended an invitation to my team to join you in your post-game tradition," he said with a raised brow.

Clarke didn't miss the surprised look on the faces of her parents as they looked on in interest. Clarke didn't miss a beat, however, keeping her face impassive as she stated with a shrug of one shoulder, "Well, it was an intense game, and I have a lot of respect for how both of our teams handled themselves out there.  It seemed like the right thing to do, considering this was the last game before the break and it's the holidays and everything."

She shrugged again and looked at Gustus, then looked away from him before adding, "Are they going to come?" She tried desperately to sound nonchalant.

Gustus looked at Clarke carefully, having picked up something in the young woman’s voice and responded with, "I don't know. I know Lexa was going to ask the team, but I left before she did."

"Well," Clarke said, "even if they decide not to join us, you should still come."

"Yes, you should Gustus," Abby interjected, Jake nodding beside her, "it would be nice to have another adult to talk to for the next couple of hours," she added, laughing.

"I'd love to," Gustus replied, "I just have to check with Lexa. I’m giving her a ride, so if the team isn’t going, then I need to make sure she has a ride home.”

As if on cue, Lexa arrived in the lobby, and Clarke’s eyes were immediately drawn to the other woman.

Oh, my God...she’s beautiful, was the first thought that went through Clarke’s head.  Her eyes roamed over Lexa as she approached, taking in her long legs wrapped in tight jeans that hugged in all the right places, tanned arms showing beneath a tight black t-shirt, and her wavy, slightly frizzy chestnut locks which were braided away from her face.

Clarke’s eyes lingered on her high cheekbones and strong jawline before falling to her plump, pink lips. As Lexa finished her approach, Clarke’s gaze snapped up to meet the green eyes she had previously seen through the visor of a hockey helmet. Only, they were so much brighter, and much greener than Clarke had thought possible. As Lexa’s eyes met hers, Clarke gasped, only to find that she had stopped breathing and, as a result, choked on the quick breath entering her lungs.

As she coughed violently, her mom rushed to her side and pounded her on the back.  After a few moments, a slightly embarrassed Clarke managed to take a normal breath and straightened up, waving her mother away. She quickly wiped away the tears that had formed in her eyes as she snuck a quick glance at Lexa. She thought she saw a flash of concern there, but it was gone so quickly she was unsure if it was just her imagination.

Trying to hide her embarrassment, she quickly nodded at Gustus and Lexa and reached down for her bag saying, “I hope we see you at the restaurant. If not, then I’m sure we’ll see each other again on the ice.” She made the statement devoid of inflection, unsure how she accomplished it considering the breadth of emotions clamouring for attention in her chest, stomach, and head.

Clarke quickly stepped away from the pair, looking at her parents who were regarding her curiously. “Let’s go. The girls will be waiting for us.” With one last look at Lexa’s intoxicating green eyes, Clarke swallowed her looming panic at the possibility of not seeing her again for over a month and moved toward the door. Her parents followed in her wake after saying their goodbyes to Gustus and wishing him a happy holiday in case they decided not to join them.


 

Once again, Lexa watched the blonde move away from her.  She had noticed Clarke watching her as she approached, and was shocked momentarily by something she saw in her eyes when they locked briefly. She didn't have time to identify it, though, before Clarke started to choke.

Lexa had stepped forward in reflex when Clarke doubled over, but Abby had been closer, so Lexa stopped herself before she had even taken a full step.  She watched as Clarke composed herself and didn't quite manage to mask her concern before Clarke's eyes found her own unexpectedly. 

She quickly rearranged her face into a mask of impassivity, but the quizzical look in Clarke's eyes made Lexa think she had seen something anyway. The abruptness of Clarke’s exit confused her, almost as if Clarke didn't care if Lexa accepted her invitation or not. Lexa felt her stomach sink at the thought and wondered at her reaction to the blonde.

She turned to Gustus, with a slight crease between her brows. "Ready to go?"

"Yep," he answered. "Where are we going?"

Lexa hesitated. She had met Clarke just hours ago, but she felt like she already knew her. Like she had always known her. It confused her, and if she was honest, it scared her. She hadn’t let herself feel this way in a long, long time. 

It was like all the defences she had built over the last two years were made of nothing more than gossamer in the presence of the intense Clarke Griffin. It both scared and fascinated her, and as much as Lexa wanted and needed to remain in control, which she found very difficult in the presence of the blonde, she couldn’t deny that she also wanted more of Clarke.  More of those brilliant blue eyes, more of that wide, sensual mouth, more of those wavy blond locks, more of everything.

Just, more.

So, Lexa sighed and said to Gustus, "The team was pretty excited when I told them about the invitation. Some of them go to school with the Arkers, so they know them outside of hockey. They also have a lot of respect for the team as a whole. And their captain," she added. "So, most of them are going to go, and some of them are probably already there. I’m the captain, so I guess I should show up too." Lexa pitched her voice to indifference, but her heart had begun to beat harder at the prospect of seeing the blue-eyed blonde again.

"Okay, then," Gustus responded. "Let's get going. Pizza awaits!"

He helped Lexa with her gear and added as they walk out of the arena, "We should call Lincoln and get him to meet us there. He’ll be waiting at home to eat with us."

Lexa nodded and replied, "I'll text him."

They made it to the car, and Lexa pulled out her phone to message her cousin.

Lexa: Going to eat at the pizza place on 6th.  Meet us?

She only had to wait a moment before her phone buzzed back with his reply.

Linc: hell yeah cuz!  Save me a seat and order me a ml and a brew. C u soon

"He’ll meet us there," she informed Gustus.  "And he wants a meat lovers pizza, and a beer.  Big surprise," she added with a roll of her eyes.

Gustus just laughed as he pulled out of the parking lot.


 

The drive to the pizza place in the Griffin's vehicle was quieter than usual, and the two older Griffins exchanged silent looks during the 10-minute drive.  They had been trying to get Clarke to talk about the game, something she usually went on and on about, but today they had only managed to get short, clipped answers from her.

Finally, Abby decided she'd had enough. 

"Out with it, Clarke," she said.

Clarke snapped her head up, brought out of her moody contemplation by the sharpness in her mother's tone.

"What did I do?" Clarke asked bewildered.

"What is going on with you, sweetheart?" her mother asked more softly. "You’ve barely said three words the entire drive.  Are you and Finn fighting?"

"Shit!" Clarke exclaimed at the mention of Finn Collins, as she fumbled in her pocket for her phone.

"Language!" both of her parents yelled from the front seat in perfect unison.

"God, you two," Clarke stated, "I'm 21 years old, in my 3rd year of university for heaven's sake.  I think I'm entitled to a few curse words when needed," she added as she pulled up Finn's contact info on her phone.

Finn usually came to all of Clarke's hockey games, but he had been pulled into work this afternoon, and Clarke had forgotten all about him.  She was supposed to have texted him to let him know how the game went and where he could meet her later. She quickly sent him a message letting them know the Arkers had tied and that they were doing the after game pizza extravaganza.

Abby had turned to watch her daughter and when she put her phone back in her pocket, asked: "So you two aren’t fighting?"

"No Mom, we're fine," Clarke sighed.

"Then what is it, honey?  This isn’t like you," Abby questioned with real concern in her voice.

Clarke closed her eyes, rested her head against the back of the seat and took a deep breath.  How could she tell her mother about the emotional roller coaster she found herself on, all because of a young woman she had only met a couple of hours ago? How her heart was beating out of her chest at the prospect of possibly seeing her again in mere minutes? Or, how her stomach bottomed out when she contemplated that she may not see her there at all?

How could she explain the guilt she now felt about forgetting about Finn, yet still not caring if she saw him today? She couldn’t understand these things herself, so there was no way she could say them to her mother.

Instead, she lied and said, "I don't know, maybe I'm just tired."

Her mother looked at her skeptically but didn't push.  That was one of the things that Clarke loved most about her parents - they didn’t push. As a result, Clarke told them everything when she was ready, and knew that this time would be no different. 

Her mother knew it as well.

Just then her phone vibrated in her pocket. So she took it out and read the messages waiting there for her.

O: Clarke! Where are you?

Clarke: On my way O, about 2 mins away.  Have you ordered?

O: You betcha! A variety of tasty za awaits, along with some refreshing brews. I”ll save you a seat with Raven and me.

Clarke: Excellent, thanks, O. See you soon.

Just as she was about to put her phone away, another text arrived.

Finn: Hey babe.  I'll be done work in a bit, should I meet you?

Clarke: No. It’s ok, it’ll be getting late, so I’ll just see you tomorrow. I think I just want to spend some time with the girls anyway.  It's the last time the team will all be together until the New Year, so we’ll probably just be talking hockey. Then I'm going to go home and get some sleep. 

Finn: Sounds good.  Talk to you tomorrow.

Clarke's guilt grew, but she really couldn't think about dealing with Finn tonight. She closed her eyes again and focused on her breathing. Within a few minutes, her dad was pulling into the parking lot of the TonDC Pizza Parlour.  The family walked into the restaurant and were met with a chorus of greetings from multiple people from both teams. 

Clarke saw Octavia and Raven stand up and wave them over to their table, where coach Kane was also sitting. She and her parents made their way over, stopping to talk to different people along the way who wanted to congratulate Clarke on the game and discuss each check, pass and shot in minute detail.

By the time they finally made it to their table, they were more than ready for the beers the girls had waiting for them. They all sat and lifted their pints in the air in salute to a great game and great friends. As they put down their glasses after a long pull, Clarke noticed Octavia's eyes go wider than she had ever seen them.

"O?" Clarke asked.

"Holy mother of God," Octavia said in a low whisper. "Who is that? I think I’m in love," she said as she motioned towards the front of the restaurant with her chin.

"I’ve gotta find out who that is," she hastily said.

They all turned as one to look in the direction that Octavia indicated. Before any at the table could stop the dynamic brunette, she was up and pivoting through the spaces between the crowded tables and chairs to the front of the restaurant to introduce herself to the stranger standing at the door.

The young man was dark-skinned and muscular, with a defined jaw and intense brown eyes that seemed to take in the whole restaurant as he scanned the crowded area.   He was over a foot taller than the little brunette who came to a stop in front of him, whom he looked down on with no small amount of amusement.

"Hi!" Octavia blurted out. "Are you looking for someone?"

He revealed a blinding white smile before answering, "I was, but I think I'd rather hang out with you." He gave her a quick wink and grinned before extending his hand and saying, "I’m Lincoln."

Octavia’s mouth had dropped open when he’d smiled, and she had to force it to shut and swallow thickly before licking her lips and reaching out to shake his hand.

"Octavia. My name is Octavia."

"Nice to meet you, Octavia. I'm looking for my uncle and my cousin; they said they were coming here for dinner after their hockey game," Lincoln said, as he looked around again.

"Oh! We're here after our hockey game, but I've never seen you before, and I would definitely remember you. You must be with the Grounders?" Octavia asked, still holding Lincoln's hand.

He didn't seem to be in a hurry to get it back.

"Yeah," Lincoln said. "My dad is the coach."

"Gustus is your DAD?" Octavia yelled. "That's awesome! Sit with us. We have room for everyone, and he's not here yet."

She pulled on Lincoln's hand and dragged him over to the table to introduce him to her very amused friends.

"Hey everyone, this is Lincoln," Octavia said. "Gustus is his Dad, and he’s here for pizza."

"Well duh, O, why else would he be here?" Raven rolled her eyes. "Hi, Lincoln. It’s nice to meet you," she added, standing up to shake his hand. "Please join us. We have the best company in the joint if you don't count O, over there," she quipped jauntily with a wink.

Octavia shot her a silent but pointed 'wtf' look from behind Lincoln's back to which Raven just smirked wider at her as Abby and Jake stood to shake Lincoln's hand, introducing themselves. Bellamy went next, shaking hands amiably enough, but shooting him a slight glare as he watched Octavia stare up at him.

Then Clarke had her turn, smiling at Lincoln as she welcomed him to their table, trying to quell the butterflies that had taken up residence in her stomach when she realized that Lincoln’s presence meant that Lexa was indeed coming.  As Lincoln got comfortable next to Octavia, Clarke caught her eye and waggled her eyebrows at her best friend. Octavia blushed slightly and smirked, before turning back toward the handsome young man.

A few minutes later, Lincoln stood up and waved.  Clarke didn't have to look to know that Gustus had entered and that Lexa was with him.  She could feel it in her bones, in her soul.  She could feel Lexa’s presence before Lincoln even moved. Her heart beat faster in her chest, her mouth went dry, her respiration increased slightly, and she had to fight the urge to turn and look at the newcomers. Instead, she started a conversation with Raven about possible plans to get together over the holidays, and tried to ignore the sense of anticipation she was feeling.

 

The pizza arrived with another round of beer, with Gustus close behind. They exchanged greetings, and Gustus squeezed in next to Jake and Abby.

Jake looked around before asking "Where's Lexa?"

"Oh, she's making the rounds, talking to the girls," he said. "She knows where we are."

Clarke felt like her insides were trying to claw their way out of her abdomen. She was nervous and jittery, and suddenly she felt like if she stayed still, she would explode. She excused herself from the space beside Raven and worked her way around the table, making sure not to step on anyone’s toes. When she made it out of the booth and finally looked up, she could see Lexa standing by a table talking to some of the girls from the Grounder team. As if she could sense Clarke looking at her, she turned from the table, locked her gaze with the blonde’s and gave her a short nod. 

They stood still, staring at each other for the space of several heartbeats before Clarke tore her gaze away and headed to the bathroom.

Chapter Text

It felt to Lexa as though all she had done today was watch Clarke Griffin walk away from her, and she couldn’t for the life of her figure out why that bothered her so much. She shook her head and returned her attention to her teammates before excusing herself and making her way to the table containing her uncle, cousin, and the girls from the Arkers.  Everyone slid in a bit more to make room for her, and she sat down next to Lincoln. She noticed immediately that her cousin was completely absorbed in his conversation with Clarke's friend Octavia, his smile wider and brighter than she could remember seeing in some time. Octavia seemed just as enamoured, and Lexa hoped that it would go well for them.

 

Clarke returned from the bathroom, after giving herself some stern self-talk around getting control of herself. So it was with this sense of self-imposed control that she walked confidently back to her table, only to slightly falter when she saw Lexa sitting at the table talking with her friends and family. She took a deep breath, forced her clenched fists at her sides to relax, and continued on her way.  She reached the table and quickly realized that the only free seat was next to Lexa, which simultaneously terrified and excited her. She smiled at Lexa and indicated the space next to her.

"May I?" she asked.

"Of course," Lexa responded quickly, scooting over as far as she could without crowding Lincoln too much.

Clarke sat down and reached for the beer that she had left on the other side of the table.  Once she had retrieved it, she took a long pull and sighed. She looked at Lexa.

"I’m glad you decided to come,” she said. “Your team, I mean” she added quickly with a small smile, indicating the girls at various tables.

“Thank you for inviting us,” Lexa responded politely.

“No drink?" Clarke asked.

"No," Lexa responded, "I don't drink much. Water is good for me."

"Hmmm," Clarke hummed, taking another swig of her beer, more to have something to do than because she really wanted or needed another drink.

 

The group shared the food and poured each other more drinks from the pitchers that seemed to show up out of thin air. Everyone laughed when Lincoln pumped his arm in the air when a meat lovers pizza dropped in front of him.  Small talk and laughter flowed over the group, and when the pizza was finally gone, Jake, Abby, Kane, and Gustus excused themselves from the younger members of the party and moved to another table for what they said was 'adult conversation.'

"Hey!" Raven called after them in indignation, "we're adults!"

The rest of the group laughed and shifted in their booth to provide more room for everyone. 

 

If she were honest with herself, Clarke would admit that she spent more than a few moments quietly observing the brunette next to her.  Where her friends were boisterous and full of energy, Lexa seemed contained and reserved.  Where others laughed out loud, Lexa let only a small smile reach her lips.  Clarke wondered if she ever smiled fully and what she would have to do to get her to laugh. Lincoln, on the other hand, seemed to be the exact opposite - quick to laugh and very outgoing, especially while talking to Octavia.

Clarke leaned over to Lexa and said, "Your cousin seems to be quite taken with my best friend."

"Yes," Lexa confirmed, "I noticed that as well."

"Bellamy doesn't seem horribly impressed, however," Clarke murmured with a slight smirk on her face. "If he knew what was good for him, he wouldn’t let his irritation show, since that will only make O more determined," she added in an undertone.

Lexa looked at Clarke sharply and said with heat in a lowered voice, "Is this just a game to her then? Is she trying to make her older brother mad? Because if so, it's a pretty immature thing to do when someone else's feelings are involved."

Clarke looked at the other woman, surprise clear on her face, wondering from where the outburst came.

"No! Sorry, that’s not what I meant at all. Octavia would never do that," Clarke clarified, shaking her head. "I've seen her flirt with people before, but not like this.  I think she really likes Lincoln."  Clarke shrugged and added with a bit of a grin trying to lighten the conversation, "If it happens to bug Bellamy, that's just a bonus."

Lexa looked down, slightly embarrassed at her outburst and replied quietly, "Sorry, I just...I‘ve never seen him look so happy, or have so much fun. I don’t want him to get hurt." She sighed and shook her head, then looked up at Clarke before repeating, "Sorry."

"No worries," Clarke responded quickly. "We have to look out for the ones we love; I get that." She lowered her voice even more before adding, “I really don’t think you need to worry though, considering the heart eyes going on over there.” She grinned and nudged Lexa with her shoulder softly.

The atmosphere was comfortable, and as the evening progressed, the group started to thin out. Members of both teams came to say their goodbyes to their captains and coaches before heading home. Before too long, it was just Clarke's table and the table of parents in their area. Bellamy motioned to Octavia that it was time to go and Raven piped up, "Oh, maaannnnn. I'm having a good time."

"Feel free to get your own ass home then. Anytime you want to drive us around would be welcome," Bellamy shot back. "We need to get moving.  Come on, O," he directed at his sister who was frantically writing out her phone number on a napkin for Lincoln.  Bellamy rolled his eyes while he helped a scowling Raven out of the booth and stood impatiently waiting for his little sister.

Octavia hugged Lincoln and quickly pecked him on the cheek before following her brother and Raven out of the booth, smacking her brother soundly on the arm once she reached him. 

"God, Bell, you're so embarrassing." She walked around to give Clarke a quick hug and to say goodbye to Lexa. Raven gave Clarke a hug as well, and the trio headed out of the restaurant, stopping to say their goodbyes to the Griffins and the two coaches.

Lexa looked at Lincoln and raised her brows at him, and Lincoln just smiled and waved the napkin with Octavia's number on it. "Don't be jealous, cuz," he said as his smile got bigger and he flicked his eyes quickly in Clarke's direction. "Get your own."

Lexa didn't miss the motion and fought the blush trying to rush up her neck as she rolled her eyes at him. Clarke watched the interaction between the two with amusement and then asked Lincoln, "Did Octavia tell you about the party on Friday?"

"Yep," he responded jauntily, "I'll be there with bells on."

He smiled widely before sticking out his hand to Clarke, "It was nice to meet you Clarke, and your friends. I'm looking forward to Friday," he added before turning to his cousin. "I'm going to head out too, I'll see you and Dad at home," he leaned in and gave Lexa a quick kiss on the cheek before whispering softly in her ear, "Get her number."

He stepped back, gave her a wink and headed out.

Lexa's eyes had gone a bit wide when Lincoln whispered in her ear, and Clarke wondered what he said to her, but then quickly put it out of her mind as it was none of her business. She noticed her parents and the coaches readying to leave and felt a strange sense of disappointment that the evening was over. She looked at the brunette sitting beside her and blurted out "Do you want to come?"

"What?" Lexa asked confused by the sudden question.

"To the party. On Friday. Do you want to come?" Clarke asked again carefully schooling her voice to neutrality, almost indifference.

"Oh," Lexa responded, looking at Clarke.  The blonde girl was looking away from her, playing with a napkin on the table, and Lexa couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she was in profile: straight nose, wavy hair tucked behind a delicate ear and expressive lips currently pulled into a tight line.

Lexa couldn’t help but wonder if Clarke only asked her to be polite because Octavia had invited Lincoln to the party. She took a deep breath and was about to decline when Clarke glanced up at her quickly, and Lexa was sure she saw a glimmer of something in the depths of blue looking back at her. Hope, maybe?

So Lexa buried her initial response and instead said, "Parties aren't really my thing...." as she watched Clarke for some reaction. Clarke's face betrayed nothing of what she might be feeling, but Lexa suddenly felt as though she could read those eyes like a book.  It was hope she saw there, she was sure of it. As soon as the words were out of Lexa's mouth, that look changed to one of disappointment. So she continued, "Although…" and she watched as Clarke's eyes changed again, "I had fun tonight, and I think someone should come and keep an eye on Lincoln."

Clarke looked away and let out the breath she didn't know she had been holding and tried to keep the grin she could feel itching at the corner of her lips from showing on her face.  She must not have managed it completely because when she looked back at Lexa, there was a small smile tugging at the corner of her mouth as well.

"All right, then," Clarke said. "Give me your number, and I’ll send you the address and the details," she added as she pulled out her phone and handed it to Lexa. Lexa took it and typed in her contact info and then handed her phone to Clarke who quickly did the same.  They just got finished when Jake and Abby came over and shook Lexa's hand.

"That was a game that I’ll remember for a long time," Jake said to Lexa.  "It was great to meet you, Lexa. I hope we see you again soon," he added. Abby seconded the thought and the gesture and then squeezed Clarke around the waist.

"Ready?" she asked her daughter.

"Ready," Clarke responded.  "Bye, Lexa. I'll talk to you soon," she said to the brunette who had stood to greet Clarke's parents. 

"Yes, see you," Lexa replied with a small wave. The family walked out of the restaurant and Clarke couldn’t help but throw a final glance over her shoulder as they headed out the door, getting one last look at the young woman she had just met, but with whom she felt such an intense and inexplicable connection.  She felt sure that there was no way Friday would arrive quickly enough.

 

Chapter Text

The day after the game, Clarke met Finn for lunch. He was solicitous and sweet, as he always was, but Clarke was distracted and wasn't paying full attention to the mostly one-sided discussion. When Finn suggested a walk in the park, she missed it completely.

"Clarke?" he asked. When he got no response from her, he repeated more loudly, "Clarke...Clarke!" Clarke jerked slightly in her seat and looked at her boyfriend, who was regarding her with a mixture of confusion and concern.

"I'm sorry, what?" Clarke asked.

"I asked if you wanted to go for a walk after lunch," Finn responded. "Where'd you go?"

"What? Nowhere, just thinking, I guess," Clarke said as she looked away from him.

"Well, nowhere must be pretty impressive, considering you haven't said more than a dozen words in the last hour, and I had to call you three times to bring you back," he said with a hint of hurt in his voice. "You haven't even wanted to talk about the game yesterday, and from what I hear, it was pretty epic." He looked at her with raised brows.

Clarke sighed and looked at the young man in front of her. "I'm sorry," she said again. "I guess I'm just thinking about all the things I have to do before Christmas, as well as all the reading I have to finish before school starts again."  Which was not what she was thinking about at all, but she pointedly didn't talk about the game, and Finn didn't push, for which she was grateful.

"So, did you want to go for that walk?" he asked again.

Clarke sighed again and shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. I need to get some things done.”

“Ok,” Finn replied quietly, “I guess you don’t want any company then,” he said dejectedly, more of a statement than a question.

Clarke flinched slightly at his tone, the guilt gnawing at her insides, but she answered with, "No, but thank you. I'm going to go to the mall and do some shopping and then head home."

"Ok," Finn said again with a sigh, as he stood up and threw some money down on the table to pay their lunch bill.  He reached out for Clarke to pull her into a hug and she let him, but when he bent down to kiss her, she turned her head, so he got her cheek instead.

"Clarke?" Finn asked in surprise as he pulled back to look at her.

It hadn’t been a conscious thought on her part to move her lips away,; it had just happened, so she quickly thought of something to say, "I...it's just…I think I might be coming down with something, and I don't want to make you sick for the holidays.  If I’m getting a cold, we shouldn't both suffer," she lied after a moment's hesitation.  She then reached up and planted a quick kiss on his cheek before giving him a squeeze and stepped away from him.

"I am sorry I'm such a downer right now," she apologized, looking up at him.

"No, it’s ok," he said with a small smile before adding, "I have to work a lot in the next couple of days, so unless you can do lunch tomorrow, we probably won't see each other until the party on Friday."

When Clarke said nothing and just looked at him as though she was looking through him, he felt unease rise in his chest, so he reached out again and brushed his hand across hers. "I'll miss you..." he said. “Text me or something, okay?"

He squeezed her hand and Clarke flinched slightly before responding "Right, yes. Okay.  See you on Friday," and as she turned and walked away from him, she missed the look of longing that crossed Finn’s face.

 

Clarke made it back to her car and slowly climbed in. She closed the door, buckled her seatbelt and put the keys in the ignition before closing her eyes and placing her forehead on the steering wheel, her hands grasped the wheel on either side of her head so hard that her knuckles turned white.

I seriously need help, she thought to herself.  I’m treating my boyfriend horribly, and I can't get the vision of someone I just met out of my head.  I need to get my shit together! It is ridiculous to be thinking about this woman so much, I don't even know her, and it certainly isn't fair to Finn! Clarke continued to scold herself mentally while banging her head softly against the steering wheel of her car. After several moments and many deep breaths, Clarke straightened started the car and headed to the mall to do some shopping - at least, she had been telling Finn the truth about that.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Several hours later, Clarke was struggling her way into her home with multiple shopping bags full of Christmas gifts for friends and family.  She made her way into her room and was sorting through the gifts when her phone vibrated letting her know a text message had come in. She quickly read it.

Mom: have to stay at the hospital for a while, and your Dad is in a meeting until late, so you’re on your own for dinner. Love you.

Clarke sighed and finished up with her presents before heading downstairs.  She looked dejectedly around the kitchen before grabbing her phone and opened her contact list. She scrolled through to select Raven and Octavia's numbers, and as she did, she passed Lexa's information.  She paused there looking at the number and before she could stop herself she was bringing up the message page and typing in a quick message:

Clarke: Hey. I just wanted to say thanks for coming yesterday.  It was really nice to hang out with your team.

She hit send before she could change her mind and then went on to message Raven and Octavia.

Griff: I'm all alone for dinner, do you guys want to come over and have pizza and watch a movie or something?

She didn't have to wait long before she got a response from both of them.

O: Absolutely, but we just had pizza last night, I'll pick up Chinese ok?

Rae: Sure, I'll grab some beer and be right over.

Griff: Great, beer and Chinese it is.  I'll get Netflix set up, and we can pick a movie when you get here.

The girls arrived less than thirty minutes later, laden with more food than they needed and a six-pack of beer.

The trio settled down to their feast and a movie and ate in companionable silence for several minutes before Raven spoke up.

"So, O," she said with a grin, "You and Lincoln were getting awful close last night. What's up with that?"

"Oh my god, you guys," Octavia replied practically swooning, "He is so cool...and so… hot" she added with a giggle. "I really like him.  I've talked to him on the phone twice today, and I'm going to go to the party with him on Friday," she gushed.

"What's he do?" Clarke asked.

"He's currently working through a paramedic/EMT program and volunteers with the TonDc fire department. He says he's got about another year and he hopes to get hired on here in DC."

"Wow, impressive," Raven said after letting out a slow whistle. "Nice catch, O. How is it that he is still single and you managed to snag him?” she teased.

Octavia laughed and shoved at her friend's shoulder before replying "I asked him that," she said dipping her head slightly. "He said that he doesn't go out much, and when he has, he hadn't met anyone worth the time...until now," she finished with a blush.

"Well, he doesn't waste any time does he?" Clarke stated with a smile, "I'm happy for you O, you deserve to be happy."

"Thanks, Griff," she said softly.

"Speaking of happy," Raven said, "where's Finn? I expected him to be here too."

Neither girl noticed the shadow that passed across Clarke's face as she quickly leaned in to get more chow mein as she answered, "He wasn't invited. Girls night," she added before leaning back and looking at her best friends with a smile.

The girls all smiled at each other and clinked their beers together as Raven said, "To us."

Clarke briefly wondered if she should tell them about how she was feeling, the swirling emotions she didn't want to look too closely at, about a woman she just met, and what that might mean for her relationship with her boyfriend. The buzz from her phone startled her, and she reached to grab it to read the incoming text.

Her heart skipped a beat as she read who it was from:

Lexa: Thank you for inviting us. It was nice getting to know you all as well.

"Who's the text from, Griff?" Raven asked, leaning over trying to see Clarke's phone. "Everyone important is already here," she added with a cocky grin.

"It's from Lexa," Clarke responded hesitantly.

"The Grounders captain?" O asked in surprise. "How'd she get your number?"

Raven was looking on curiously as well, as Clarke sighed and said, "I invited her to the party on Friday, so we exchanged numbers so that I could get her the details."

"You invited her to the party?" Raven asked, surprise evident in her voice. "Why?"

Clarke tried not to get defensive and to keep her voice neutral. "Well, O had already asked Lincoln, and they live together so I thought it would be the polite thing to do," she started, but then reluctantly admitted, "But more because I think she's pretty cool. I think we could all be friends...even if she is the captain of the team that is our biggest rival," she finished looking at her friends carefully, watching their reactions.

"She did seem quiet. But nice," Octavia put in.

"How would you know, O," Raven teased, "the only thing you paid attention to last night was her cousin.  However, I thought Lexa was pretty cool too, Clarke, so good choice.  Also," she added with a sly grin, "she's damn hot!"

The girls laughed before Raven asked again, "Why is she texting you now? The party’s not for another two days."

Clarke fought the blush threatening to climb its way up her neck and responded quietly, "I texted her earlier, thanking her for joining us last night. She's just responding."

Both of her friends looked at her with curious glances before Clarke rolled her eyes at them and said, "Oh, come on, I was just being nice."

Raven's eyes widened as though she had just found a secret treasure before she leaned in and nudged Octavia's shoulder and said, while looking directly at Clarke, "Oh, my God, Clarke!  You like her!"

Clarke again found herself fighting a blush and tried in vain to control her face as she said, "Of course I like her. She's nice."

Octavia had picked up on what Raven was talking about at this point, her eyes almost as wide as Raven's when she said, "Yeah, but you like her, like her!"

"Oh hell," yelled Raven, eyes wide and understanding ghosting across her face. "Is that why Finn isn't here? Holy crap!"

"Stop it!" hollered Clarke, "I hardly know her, for heaven's sake."

"Yeah, but you got some feels don't you?" Raven pushed with a grin.

Clarke sighed and sunk into the cushions of her couch, as she put her shaking head in her hands.  That was all the confirmation her friends needed. They sprung up to sit on either side of Clarke on the couch, and Raven reached out and paused the movie none of them were watching anyway before turning to face Clarke once again.

Clarke peeked out at her two best friends from between her fingers, to see them both looking at her with expectation and slight disbelief.

Clarke sighed again and brought her hands down and folded them tightly on her lap.

"What am I going to do?" she asked softly. "I’ve never felt this way before, not even about Finn. And he's great.  From the moment I laid eyes on her, I couldn't get her out of my head.  When we shook hands, it was like a spark of electricity shot through my whole body and I could feel the residual trace of it for what felt like hours. When I was with Finn earlier, I was only thinking about when I might see her again..." Clarke finished in a rush, shaking her head. "What am I going to do?" she asked again, as she looked imploringly at her friends.

"Oh, boy, do you have it bad," Raven observed.

Octavia scowled at Raven, who only smirked back at her. "What do you want to do?" she asked Clarke quietly.

Clarke took a shaky breath, "I really want to get to know her better," she said. "But, how I'm feeling certainly isn’t fair to Finn, and I feel so guilty," she added sadly.

"You're right, it's not fair to Finn," Raven stated. "But you need to do what’s going to make you happy.” She paused slightly before asking, “Do you love Finn?"

"No," Clarke replied quickly, not even having to think about it. "I don't...maybe I could have...now I don't know.  Hell, I don't even know if Lexa would be interested...I don't know anything about her except she’s a phenomenal hockey player and lives with her uncle," Clarke added with frustration.

"Then you need to let him go," Octavia said as Raven nodded along. "Tell him you need a break to figure things out, then if this Lexa thing doesn't pan out, you can always go back."

"That is so horrible on so many levels," Clarke stated. "It's almost Christmas, for one thing. Who breaks up with someone at Christmas? Then, thinking about going back if Lexa isn't interested in anything other than friendship with me? He would ultimately be my second choice, I would be settling, and that's not fair to either of us. God, I can’t believe I’m even considering this – I hardly know her," she cried out in anguish.

Octavia and Raven both leaned in and wrapped their arms around their friend.

"You know we’ll support you in whatever you decide to do Clarke, but you need to be honest with yourself and with Finn.  You two have only been dating for six months, so maybe he won't take it that hard," Octavia said.

Clarke nodded silently between the two girls as they looked over Clarke's head and made eye contact. They both knew how it would go if Clarke ended things with Finn.  They had seen how he looked at her and they both knew that he had already fallen hard for her, even if she couldn't see it.

They hugged Clarke again, and then Raven asked, nodding at Clarke's phone which was still in her lap. "Are you going text her back?"

Clarke looked at the text and then at her friends. "No, I need to talk to Finn first," she said. "I need to tell him what's going on.  I'm going to be honest with him. He deserves that."

"That's our girl," Octavia said with a smile. "Do you want us there with you when you do? Or at least, close by?"

"That would be great," Clarke replied as she looked at her two best friends in the world, "I should get in touch with him now before I lose my nerve."

With that, Clarke picked up her phone and texted Finn. She asked him to meet her tomorrow for lunch, and he responded right away confirming that he could meet her on his lunch break.

Finn: Where do you want to have lunch this time?

Clarke looked at her friends, "Where should I do this?" she asked. "Do I want a public place, or should it be a bit more private?"

Octavia shared a glance with Raven before saying, "You should do it here, at your house...in private," at the same time that Raven said "Private. Definitely, private."

Clarke nodded and typed a response back to Finn.

Princess: How about my place?

Finn: Awesome. See you around noon.

Clarke closed her phone again, sighed and leaned back against the couch with her eyes closed.

"Can you two be here tomorrow? Maybe upstairs in my room?" Clarke asked her friends without opening her eyes.

"Absolutely," Octavia replied, "We’ll both be here. In fact, why don't we just stay the night, then we can hang out in the morning, maybe go for a run to burn off some energy before Finn comes over."

"That's a great idea," Raven chimed in. "Let's just both whip home and get a change of clothes and some workout gear, and we'll be right back. I'll drive, O, and we can stop at your house first."

Octavia agreed, and Clarke managed a small smile for her friends and nodded, trying to ignore the twisting in her gut when she thought about talking to Finn.

The two friends headed out the door, leaving Clarke alone with her thoughts and her growing anxiety.

Chapter Text

 

The three friends relaxed in their pyjamas on the couch, finishing the movie from earlier, snacking on popcorn and drinking the rest of the beer that Raven had brought.  They spent most of the evening enjoying each other’s company in companionable silence.  The only conversation occurred when one of the three found fault in the sci-fi movie on their screen.  Clarke and Raven, being engineering students, had the most to say, but Octavia piped up every so often with her own opinion which generally caused the other two to shoot her down with much good-natured teasing. Octavia didn't mind, though. She knew she wasn’t a scientist or engineer like her friends, doing a major in Environmental Science; she did it more to push their buttons and get them going. It is also helped Clarke keep her mind off her lunch with Finn the next day.

The movie finally wrapped up. Both Clarke and Raven stated that it was two hours of their lives they would never get back, and Octavia claimed dibs on picking the next one.  Both Clarke and Raven rolled their eyes at that because they knew it would be something sappy like The Notebook or something else equally as appalling.

 

The trio climbed the stairs and readied themselves for bed; Raven and Octavia headed for the spare room across the hall from Clarke's room. They said goodnight, hugged Clarke briefly and closed the door to the room. Clarke entered her own dark bedroom and crawled into bed, not bothering with any lights. She pulled the comforter over her head and thought about what she was going to say to Finn.  She didn't want to hurt him, but she knew that was inevitable, so she just needed to do it as kindly as possible.  She slowly drifted off to sleep, but it was restless, with undefinable dreams that left her confused and anxious upon waking.

 

Clarke opened her eyes slowly and stretched the kinks out of her neck and back as she swung her legs over the bed.  She slipped out into the quiet hallway and headed to the bathroom.  Once finished, she went downstairs to the kitchen to make some tea.

She was surprised to find her mother sitting at the table.

Abby looked up at her daughter.

"You're up early," she said.

"Yeah, I didn't sleep very well," Clarke replied. "So I figured I might as well get up."

"I noticed Raven and Octavia's cars in the drive when I came home. They stayed the night?" Abby asked.

"Yeah, they came over for dinner last night and then we decided they should stay over," Clarke said as she filled up the kettle with water. "When did you get home?"

"About 20 minutes ago. I'm just decompressing before heading up for a nap, then I have to head back to the hospital."

"Oh, what time do you head back?" Clarke asked, trying for a conversational tone of voice.

"About 11," Abby said, narrowing her eyes at her daughter, who was fidgeting slightly. "Why?"

Caught, Clarke sighed and pulled out a mug and placed a tea bag in it before pouring the steaming water over top. She carried it over to the table and her mother and slumped into a seat.

Abby regarded her expectantly, waiting for Clarke to answer her question. Clarke sighed again and looked at her mother with sad eyes; Abby's face immediately shifted from suspicious to concerned.

"What is it, Clarke?"  Her voice was soft, her expression open.

Clarke knew her mom would support any decision she made, so she looked down at her hands, laying limply on the table and said quietly, "I'm going to end things with Finn. He's coming over at noon."

"What?" Abby said startled, before recovering and continuing quickly, "Why? What happened? If he hurt you, so help me god, I'll..."

"No. Mom!" Clarke interrupted. "It's nothing like that," she continued more softly. "He's great...he's been nothing but great, but I don't feel about him the way I think he is starting to feel about me. Also," she added quickly as she could see her mom preparing to say something, "I met someone who I can't stop thinking about, and that’s not fair to Finn.  I shouldn't be thinking about someone else when I'm with him. So until I can figure this out, it's better to let him go."

"Oh," Abby said, biting off whatever she had been about to say, "Well, that is a very mature and courageous thing to do, honey.  This person that you met, do they feel the same way?"

"I honestly have no idea, Mom," Clarke said sadly, "but I don't want to drag Finn along, or lie to him while I find out...and I really need to find out," she added with a small smile.

"Have I met this mystery person?" Abby asked with a small smile of her own.

Clarke sighed again before lowering her head slightly and responded quietly, "Yes, just the other night at the pizza place," Clarke glanced at her mother from beneath her lashes.  "It’s Lexa Woods."

Clarke watched the surprise flit across her mother's face before she schooled it back into the compassionate look Clarke was used to seeing.

"Well," Abby said, "I certainly didn't expect that, and I can appreciate more the situation you’re in." She paused momentarily, trying to find the words she wanted to say to her daughter. "Are you sure, Clarke?" she asked softly instead.

"Surer than I have been about anything in a really long time," Clarke responded quickly, the sincerity in her voice and eyes doing more to convince Abby than anything Clarke could say.

Abby regarded her daughter closely for a few more moments before nodding her head. "Well then, I guess that also explains the dynamic duo upstairs; here for support?" Abby guessed.

"They are the best friends ever," Clarke responded simply.

"I hope it goes okay, and I am so proud of you for not taking the easy way around this.  It’s hard to do what’s right sometimes, especially if it hurts people we care about." Abby told Clarke. "You know your Dad and I just want you to be happy, right?”

At Clarke’s nod, she continued. “Call me if you need to talk. No surgeries today, just some paperwork to catch up on, so I'll be around if you need me," she added reaching over and giving her arm a squeeze as she stood from the table.

"Thanks, Mom," Clarke said, tipping her face up as her mom kissed her on the forehead.

"I'm off to bed for a bit," Abby announced. "Say hi to the girls for me in case I don't see you before I leave."

"Will do Mom. Have a good nap," Clarke said.

Clarke watched her mom head up the stairs, sighed again and took a sip of her tea.  She checked the time, unsurprised to see that it was only slightly after 6 am. She knew that when her friends awoke, they would be calling for breakfast - loudly, so she beat some eggs, and pulled some bacon and bread from the freezer.  She put the beaten eggs back in the fridge and left the rest on the counter to thaw, satisfied that she could have breakfast ready quickly once the girls were up. Then she walked to the living room with her tea and sat on the couch, her mind awhirl with the impending discussion with Finn and what it would mean for both of them.  

She felt as though she had only been sitting for mere moments when she heard her friends moving around upstairs, but when she checked the clock she was surprised to see that almost an hour had passed. She didn't have to wait much longer until the two girls came downstairs. Raven was grumbling about the early hour, rubbing her eyes with the heels of her palms, and Octavia bounced down behind her, bright-eyed and looking as though she had been awake for hours.

Clarke listened with amusement.

"I hate that you’re a morning person," Raven grumbled at Octavia.

Octavia just grinned at her and ruffled her hair, "Get off," Raven mumbled, swiping lazily at her friend.

Clarke watched them with affection as they walked toward her and flopped down on the couch.

"Coffee?" Raven inquired, stifling a jaw-cracking yawn against the back of her hand.

"You know I don't drink coffee Rae," Clarke said.  “There's tea in the cupboard, and if you want a coffee the K-cups are beside the tea.”

"I'll make you a coffee, grumpy puss," Octavia teased.  "I'm going to get a tea anyway."

As Octavia went into the kitchen, whistling a tune Clarke couldn't quite place, Raven leaned her head on Clarke's shoulder and said, "Can I strangle her?"

Clarkes chuckled. "It's a good thing you two decided not to move in together after high school.  I'm not sure either one of you would still be alive, let alone still friends."

Raven snorted in response, "Ha! No kidding. Benefits of having parents that love you and want to keep you at home as long as possible, I guess."

She said it lightly, but Clarke could feel the hurt behind the words, and wrapped her arm around her friend and gave her a squeeze, silently cursing Raven’s parents for their lack of care of her friend.

"Who are you kidding Rae," Clarke scoffed, trying to lighten the mood. "You love living by yourself, doing whatever, whenever you want. You have the coolest pad in town."

"Yeah," the other girl said, yawning again into Clarke's shoulder, "but it can get lonely sometimes. And it would be great to have someone to share the rent with. It's tough to work and go to school. Speaking of which, I'm going to have to bail around 2, I have a shift at the shop," she said raising her head as she looked at the blonde.

"Sure," Clarke said, "I'm sure that whatever is going to happen will be well over and done with by then."

Raven was about to respond when Octavia yelled from the kitchen, "Reyes! You want French Roast or Colombian?"

"French Roast!" Raven yelled back.

The gnawing had started again in Clarke's belly, so rather than let Raven continue with her unfinished thought, Clarke said, "I have the makings for bacon and eggs for breakfast, but maybe we should go for a run first.  What do you think?"

"I think that sounds awful," Octavia said as she came in and handed the dark-eyed brunette her coffee.

"It does," Raven agreed, "but we should do it anyway."

Octavia rolled her eyes and threw her hands in the air, "Fine, finish your go juice and I'll run you into the ground," she shot at her two friends in disgust.

Fifteen minutes later, the three of them were in their running clothes and headed out the door. After a quick stretch, Octavia took off, leading them through the quiet streets.  They ran at a fairly quick pace, but not horribly taxing until Octavia picked up the pace on an uphill. Raven fell in beside Clarke and griped.

"For someone who didn't want to run," she said between panting breaths, "she's trying to kill us."

Clarke grinned at her and picked up her own pace, throwing over her shoulder, "Come on Reyes, let's show her who’s boss!"

The two girls pushed to catch up to Octavia and finally passed her at the top of the hill when Octavia slowed to a stop and bent over to catch her breath. The other two sprinted by her, each slapping her across the rump as they went by, and Clarke shouted, "Last one back to my place, does breakfast dishes!"

Octavia straightened and sprinted after her friends, "Oh, it is on!" she yelled.

The three friends sprinted the remaining hundred or so meters to Clarke's house, Clarke arriving just steps ahead of Octavia, who had managed to pass Raven in the final meters.  They all fell to the lawn in the snow, Octavia immediately making snow angels as she caught her breath.

"Dammit!" Raven shouted once she had recovered enough to speak, "I almost had you that time, O."

"In your dreams," Octavia countered breathing heavily, "if you hadn't cheated at the top of the hill, it wouldn't have even been close.  I might have even beaten Clarke."

"Now who's dreaming?" Clarke stated, as she stood up and headed towards the house, "Let's get some breakfast, I'm starving."

 

A few hours later the three girls were once again sitting on the couch in Clarke's living room, breakfast completed and cleaned up. All three girls had managed a shower, and they had moved their cars after Raven suggested they get them out of the driveway so Finn wouldn't recognize them when he arrived.

Abby had come down at 11 and greeted the girls before hugging Clarke tightly and reminding her to call if she needed to talk.  Clarke hugged her back, thanked her and walked with her to the door. With her mother now gone, the girls sat in comfortable silence, each lost in her own thoughts, and Clarke was extremely grateful for their company.

Her thoughts were focused on her upcoming talk with Finn, her stomach in knots, and she was unsure how she would have fared waiting on her own.  Her friends noticed her growing unease and tried to make small talk and jokes to ease her tension.  Clarke welcomed the small diversions but before too long, much sooner than Clarke was ready for, it was noon.

Raven had been keeping an eye on the time, and just prior to noon, she nudged Octavia who stood up and stretched.  "Well," she said, I guess we’d better make ourselves scarce."

"I'm going to grab some food first, though, okay, Clarke?" Raven added. "Who knows how long we'll be up there."

"Oh, good idea Rae!" Octavia stated excitedly.

"No problem," Clarke said distractedly, "but you better hurry," she added.

Octavia and Raven quickly made a small lunch and carried it upstairs, stopping briefly to hug Clarke and wish her luck.

No sooner had the door to the spare room clicked shut than there was a knock on the front door.

Clarke closed her eyes and took a deep breath before going to the door and opening it for her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend.

Finn smiled as she opened the door, "Hi, Princess," he said as he stepped in and placed a kiss on her cheek.

Clarke forced a smile on her face and closed the door.

"What's for lunch?" Finn asked turning to her, after hanging up his coat.

Clarke shrugged and said, "I can make whatever you'd like, but maybe we could talk while I fix it," she suggested hesitantly.

Finn narrowed his eyes at her and frowned.  "Okaaay," he said slowly, following Clarke into the kitchen.

"What would you like?" she said looking over her shoulder at him.

"Ummm, Clarke?" Finn said and waited for Clarke to turn and look at him before continuing.  "Do you want to tell me what's going on?"

When Clarke didn't say anything, Finn took a step closer to her, reaching out a hand and tried to ignore her slight flinch as he placed his hand on her shoulder.

Clarke closed her eyes and when she opened them and looked at Finn, she could see the sadness in her own eyes reflected in his.

She continued to look at him, marshalling her thoughts, then flicked her eyes away to focus on the counter.

Finn reached out again and held her chin gently between his thumb and index finger, turning her head to look into her eyes again, "Talk to me Clarke," he demanded.

"Finn..." she started, then, "Shit..." She pulled her chin away from him and walked around the kitchen island, putting some distance between them.  When she reached the other side, she stood to face him and took another deep breath.

Finn was looking at her with a worried expression and genuine concern in his eyes and it broke Clarke’s heart. She clenched and unclenched her fists a few times and took another deep breath.

"Finn," she started, "I want you to know that I think you are a really great guy and…,"

Awareness dawned on Finn’s face and in a slight panic he yelled, "Oh no! No, Clarke. No, you are not doing this!"

"Finn, please," Clarke tried again, "please, listen. I've had a great time with you over the past few months, but…"

"No!" Finn yelled again cutting her off, "You can't do this Clarke!  You can't invite me over for lunch a week before Christmas and break up with me!" His eyes were glistening and his voice was heavy as he looked longingly at her, imploring her not to continue.

Clarke dropped her head and whispered, "I'm so sorry...I never wanted to hurt you."

"Hurt me! Hurt me! God Clarke, how could you possibly think this would end any other way?” he yelled, throwing his hands in the air. “What happened?  I thought we were fine..." He stopped, taking a deep breath before continuing far more softly, "We were getting along great..."

"We were...we are...it's not about that," Clarke said softly shaking her head, still looking at the counter in front of her. After a few tense heartbeats, Clarke looked up at Finn before continuing.

"Finn, I'm sorry," she said softly, "I just...I need to be fair to you, and to me...and lately, I haven't been fair to either of us." She could see him getting ready to interrupt so she quickly continued.

"I do care about you, you need to know that, but..."

"But?" Finn said quietly.

Clarke took another deep breath, "but, I don't care about you the way I think you’re beginning to care about me, and it's not fair to you," she finished.

"Clarke." Finn said softly, as he approached her from the opposite side of the island, "Don't you think I should have some say in this? Don't you think I should be able to say what’s fair to me? Who's to say that you won't feel more for me if you give it some more time? Why do you need to end this before it has a chance to really begin?"

He was standing right in front of her and Clarke could feel the heat emanating from him, so she took a step back to put some distance between them once again. Finn noticed the movement and the look in her eyes, his shoulders slumped in defeat.

Clarke looked at him again, sympathy radiating from her every pore when she said, "I'm sorry, Finn. I truly don't think that’s going to happen for me," she took a step closer and reached out to put her hand on his arm.

"No," he said jerking his arm away from her, "You don't get to do that. You don't get to try to make yourself feel better about this by trying to comfort me," he said bitterly.

Clarke dropped her hand that was hovering in mid-air during Finn's outburst and again quietly said, "I'm so sorry."

Finn let out a strangled laugh and looked at the ceiling, "'Sorry'.  The most inadequate word in all of the human language right now, I'm afraid," he said.

"It's all I have," Clarke said quietly.

Something seemed to snap within Finn then, and he clenched his hands and stood straighter before looking directly into Clarke's eyes.

Clarke could see the fury building in his eyes as he unclenched a hand and ran it through his wavy hair, his brown eyes never leaving her blue ones.

He took a shaky breath before releasing it in a stuttering sigh before whispering, "I love you." Clarke’s eyes widened slightly at the admission but she said nothing.

Then more forcefully, his anger beginning to bubble to the surface, "I love you!"

A third time, his anger evident in his body language and his volume, "I love you, Clarke!" She cringed as he exploded at her, unable and unwilling to respond to him, especially in the way that he most desired, so she stayed silent, staring at him as if she had never seen him before.

It was all too much for Finn and he took two quick steps towards her and grabbed her by the back of the neck and crushed their lips together.  It was not sweet, it was not tender, and there was nothing about love in it nor loving about it.  It was rough and desperate and Clarke pushed against his chest but he just pulled her in harder.

Clarke pushed against him again and raised her fist and pounded a few times on his chest. This seemed to bring Finn back to his senses and he roughly released her and pushed her away from him.

Clarke staggered back a few steps, raising the back of her hand to her bruised and swollen lips, looking at Finn with fear in her eyes.

"I...I think you should go," Clarke stammered.

Finn shook himself and looked to Clarke and saw the fear and the swollen lips and regret flooded his features.

"Oh my God, Clarke. I'm sorry," he choked out, taking a step toward her.

Clarke quickly held up a hand as she stepped backwards, "Just go. Please," she begged, not looking at him.

"Right, okay. I'll go." He looked at her one more time, longing and regret clear in his deep brown eyes, and then he turned and walked away from her.

Clarke stood in the kitchen for several minutes after hearing the front door close, trying to control her breathing and her pounding heart.

She was still standing there when her two best friends peeked around the kitchen door and then came in and surrounded her in a hug from both sides.

"We heard Finn peel out of the driveway," Octavia offered in the way of explanation for their sudden appearance.

They pulled back and looked at Clarke, noticing her red, swollen lips for the first time.

"Holy shit!" Raven exclaimed. "What the hell happened?"

Clarke shook her head and started to tremble, so Octavia grabbed them all a drink while Raven threw her arm around Clarke and led her into the living room where they sat and listened to Clarke shakily recount the events of the last half hour.

Once she was finished both Raven and Octavia hugged their friend again before Raven said softly "What a jerk."

Octavia nodded but Clarke was quick to say "Maybe, but I really hurt him."

"That may be so Griff, but it doesn't excuse his behaviour; he should never have forced himself on you like that," Octavia added.

Clarke sighed and nodded before saying quietly, "I've never seen him like that. It was scary...he scared me."

She stood up wiping her hands on her pants before taking a deep breath and shakily said, "Well, I'm glad it's over, anyway."

Her friends stood with her and gave her yet another hug.

Raven looked at her watch and with a sour expression said, "Damn, I gotta get going. You going to be okay Clarke?"

"Yeah, thanks, Rae," Clarke said.

Octavia looked at Clarke, "Do you want me to stay? I should probably head home, but I can stay for a bit if you want."

Clarke thought about it for a minute before responding, "No...no, I'll be ok, I think I just want to go lie down for a bit."

Octavia was looking at her closely and Clarke allowed the scrutiny. Octavia was apparently satisfied with what she saw in Clarke's eyes, and so she nodded briefly before leaning in and giving her friend another hard hug.

"Call me if you change your mind, or if you just want to talk," Octavia said.

"I will," Clarke promised, "and you guys?" she said quietly looking at her best friends, "Thanks for being here, for supporting me, for understanding, for being great, just...thanks," she finished with a small shrug.

The two brunettes smiled widely at their friend and Raven, piped up with "Wouldn't have missed it for the world, Clarke." But even through the sass, Clarke could see the affection and concern written on both her friends' faces and she smiled back at them. I really do have the best friends she thought as she walked them to the door.

"Ok, see you tomorrow at Jasper and Monty's," Raven yelled as she headed out without looking back.

"Do you want Bell and me to pick you up tomorrow?  He has to work the next morning, so he said he’ll be the designated driver," Octavia asked as she picked up her bag and jacket.

"That sounds great," Clarke said tiredly.  She was emotionally exhausted and she just wanted a nap, "I'll see you tomorrow and…thanks again."

Octavia gave her one last hug and reminded her to call if she needed to, and they confirmed that she’d pick Clarke up at 7 pm tomorrow.

Clarke closed the front door, cleaned up the mugs from the living room and climbed the stairs to her room, where she flopped down heavily on the bed and stared up at the ceiling.

“Now what?” she asked herself.

She closed her eyes, meaning to just rest them, but soon fatigue from her early wakeup and the emotional impact of the events of the afternoon overtook her and she fell soundly asleep.

Chapter Text

Clarke woke in her room to darkness and realized she had slept the afternoon away.  She got up and headed downstairs to find her both her mom and dad sitting in the living room talking quietly.

They stopped when she came into the room and looked up at her when she entered, with both concern and affection in their eyes.

Clarke sighed and flopped down between them and leaned into her dad and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"Hi, Dad. Glad you're home."

 

"Glad to be home," Jake responded. "I missed my girls," he said with a smile.

 

Abby reached out and gave Clarke's arm a squeeze, "You didn't call, so I assume everything went okay?"

 

Clarke glanced quickly at her dad and he didn't seem surprised with the direction the conversation was headed, so she assumed her mother had already filled him in.

 

Clarke sighed again and leaned her head back on the couch, eyes closed and pressed her fingers into her temples before she stated quietly, "As good as it could have, I guess.  I really hurt him, and in the end, he didn't take it very well."

 

"What happened, Clarke?" Jake asked.

 

Clarke retold the events again for her parents, managing to get through most of it devoid of emotion, but when she got to the end, her voice started to shake and tears leaked out of the corners of her bright blue eyes.

 

Abby immediately grabbed her in a tight embrace and her dad rubbed circles on her back while he whispered to her that she was all right.

When Clarke managed to get her breathing under control again, she looked to her father and was shocked to see the barely restrained anger in his eyes.

 

"Dad?" Clarke said tentatively.

 

"I'm going to kill him.  The next time I see him..." Jake said tightly.

 

"Dad! No!" Clarke exclaimed, then more softly, "Please, let's just leave it and move on. It was just a kiss," Clarke pleaded. “Please," she added desperately when it looked as though he was going to argue with her.

Jake frowned and shared a glance with Abby before he nodded to his daughter and gathered her up in his arms. "But," he said quietly in her ear, "If he tries anything like that again...."

 

Clarke let out a short bark of humourless laughter, "I know...you'll kill him." She pulled away from her dad and wiped a hand down her face.

 

“I never liked that boy anyway,” Jake said with a frown. “You can do better, kiddo.”

 

Clarke smiled at her father, appreciating what he was trying to do to make her feel better, then snuck a quick glance at her mother who had a knowing smirk on her face from across the table, but dropped it when Jake turned to face her as well.

 

"So," Abby said airily, trying to lighten the mood, "going out with anyone new tonight?"

 

"Mom!" Clarke yelled, looking at her, "Seriously?"

 

She could see the small quirk of a smile that Abby was trying to hide, and when Clarke glanced over at her father, she could see a matching grin trying to escape.

 

"God, you two are awful," she said, but she couldn't help the small grin that started to form on her own face.

 

She looked at her parents and continued, "No, and I think I would like to just hang out with you two tonight if that's okay."

 

"That is absolutely okay, honey," Abby responded with a smile.

 


 

Lexa hadn't heard from Clarke since the random, unexpected text the day after the game. The text that made her heart beat harder in her chest as soon as she realized it who it was from.  She wouldn't admit it if anyone had asked her, but she had continually checked her phone looking to see if Clarke had texted her again, and tried not to be disappointed when she didn't see anything else from the beautiful blonde.

That had been two days ago, and today was Friday, the day of the party. A day that she had both been dreading and looking forward to since she had been invited. Now, Lexa found herself wondering if Clarke was going to contact her at all.  Maybe she had forgotten that she had invited her, or had changed her mind.  There was a part of her that felt the only reason that Clarke had invited her in the first place was because Octavia had asked Lincoln. A tiny voice in her head insisted that Clarke regretted asking her, but she tried not to dwell on that. 

 

Lexa went through the motions of the morning, even going out for a run which did nothing to quell the anxious feeling growing in her gut.  Lincoln had come home from his volunteer shift at the fire hall and was making lunch when Lexa came in the door, sweaty and out of breath.

 

"Hey," Lincoln acknowledged as she came into the room.

 

"Hi, Linc," Lexa responded as she scooted past him, grabbing a water from the fridge.

 

"I'm making some soup and sandwiches. Want some?" he asked.

 

"Grilled cheese?" Lexa piped up with a hopeful expression.

 

Lincoln laughed at the look on his cousin's face. "Of course. Whatever you want."

 

"Excellent. I just need to shower. I'll just be a minute," Lexa said over her shoulder as she jogged up to her room to grab clean clothes before heading to the shower.

 

One of the things Lexa liked about living with her cousin was that they could spend time together without feeling obligated to keep up constant conversation. They ate lunch companionable silence, so when Lincoln's phone buzzed it startled both of them. Lincoln opened his messages to see a text from Octavia, confirming his attendance at the party that evening. He sent a quick message back, letting her know that he would be there, before turning to his cousin.

 

"That was Octavia," he said. "She just wanted to know if I was still coming to the party."

 

"Oh," was all Lexa said, lowering her head and staring into her lunch plate.

 

"Still haven't heard from Clarke, I'm guessing," Lincoln said.

 

"No, nothing."

 

"She'll get in touch Lex, don't worry," Lincoln assured her.

 

"What if she doesn't? What if she thinks inviting me was a mistake? What if she's changed her mind? What if..." Lexa fired off before being interrupted by Lincoln.

 

"Lex, she'll be in touch," Lincoln said softly. "Octavia mentioned to me yesterday that Clarke told her and Raven that she invited you. She hasn't forgotten."

 

No sooner had he spoken those words than Lexa's phone buzzed with an incoming text message.  She grabbed for it so quickly, Lincoln let out an amused chuckle.

 

"Is it from Clarke?" he asked, already knowing the answer based on his cousin's face.

 

"Yes," Lexa breathed out as she read the text.

 

Clarke: Hi Lexa. Sorry for taking so long to get in touch with you, but I haven't forgotten about you ;). I hope you still want to come to the party. It's at our friend Monty's and Jasper's. Let me know if you still want to come and I'll send you the info.

 

Lexa held her breath as she replied to Clarke's text.

 

Lexa: Hi Clarke. No problem, and yes.  You don't have to send me the address, though. I’ll just catch a ride with Lincoln.

 

Clarke: Oh, right. I didn't think about that.  Well, ok then. We’re all planning to head over there around 7, so I guess I'll see you later tonight.

 

Lexa: See you then

 

Lexa put her phone down and looked up at Lincoln, who was regarding her with a knowing smile on his face.

 

"What?" Lexa asked.

 

"Nothing," he responded, his smile growing.

 

"Then why are you smiling at me like that?" she asked him drawing her brows down in a frown.

 

"It's been a long time since I've seen you this excited about something," Lincoln started. "Or someone. It's nice to see Lex. I'm happy that you’re finally putting yourself out there, willing to take a chance again after...everything" he finished softly.

 

Lexa sat in silence for a moment, noticing that the clench in her belly that usually accompanied such talk didn't seem so pronounced this time before she shook her head.

 

"I'm just going to a party Lincoln, that's all," Lexa stated quietly, trying to dismiss the feeling that Lincoln's comment stirred in her.

 

"Whatever you say," Lincoln said with a shrug, knowing not to push the topic, "I'm going to take a nap. I'll see you later."

 

"Okay, I think I'll do some reading. I have some catching up to do after transferring from UW. It's going to be tough to adjust after such a long time away," Lexa said.

"And Lincoln," she added quietly as she looked up at him. "Thank you." 

 

Lincoln didn't ask what she was thanking him for, he just nodded slightly and gave her shoulder a squeeze before heading out of the kitchen.

 


 

When Clarke woke up Friday morning, she felt lighter than she had in days. She decided to stay in bed a bit longer before getting up and going for a run.

 

When she awoke again several hours later, she was surprised that she had fallen back to sleep, let alone that she’d slept for as long as she had. It was almost 10 am.  She chalked it up to the emotional exhaustion she had been dealing with over the past couple of days and hopped out of bed. She located her running clothes, quickly dressed and headed out.

 

She ran a quick 5k before returning home to an empty house; both her parents were at work for the day.  She showered and headed downstairs to find something to eat and do some pre-reading for school.

 

When she wrapped up, she was surprised to see that it was already close to 1:00 and she realized that she hadn't yet gotten in contact with Lexa.  She picked up her phone and scrolled through her contacts until she found Lexa's number.  She briefly contemplated calling her instead of texting but settled on the latter after a moment's hesitation.

 

She had butterflies in her stomach as she awaited Lexa's reply, but she didn't have to wait long as a message came back right away. She finished her conversation with Lexa, annoyed that she had waited so long to contact her and feeling guilty because it was obvious that Lincoln had all the details already and Clarke had waited until the afternoon of the party. She hoped Lexa didn't think she had forgotten her or had changed her mind. She would make sure she apologized again when she saw her at the party.

 

I'm going to see Lexa tonight. Clarke smiled a slow smile as excitement built in her chest.  She was nervous, but in what felt like a good way. She hoped she would be able to control her body’s unexpected responses to the girl, and didn’t start hyperventilating the moment she saw her.  Lexa was a mystery to her, but that could be explained since she had only met her once.  The bigger mystery was how Clarke responded to the girl on a visceral level, right from the beginning.  Clarke had felt attraction to people before, both women and men - but this was different.  It felt bigger, deeper. Clarke shook her head and wandered back upstairs to her room.

 

She dug out some of the presents she had bought earlier in the week and some wrapping paper and sat down on the floor to begin wrapping presents.  While she cut, folded and taped, she dialed Octavia's number and put her on speakerphone.

 

"Hey, Clarke.  How are you doing?" Octavia asked as soon as she picked up.

"Pretty good. Thanks, O. Yesterday was exhausting, but I'm feeling better today."

"That's good. You still up for the party tonight?"

"Absolutely."

"Have you called Lexa yet?" Octavia asked slyly.

"Yes, O, I texted her about a half hour ago," Clarke said with a smile while rolling her eyes.  Her smile fell as she continued, "I feel bad that I waited so long, though. You’ve obviously been talking to Lincoln about it, and I didn't think about how it might look that I hadn't been in contact with her until today."

"Don't worry about it, Clarke. You had a lot to deal with the last couple of days," Octavia stated softly.

"Yeah, I know, I still feel bad, though."

"Well, you’ll be seeing her tonight and you can explain. Are you going to explain?  Tell her about Finn, I mean?"

Clarke sighed, "I don't know O. I just met her and telling her that I broke up with my boyfriend because I felt attracted to her seems like a heavy topic. But I feel like I could tell her everything. That's weird, isn't it?"

"Maybe it’s unusual," Octavia replied thoughtfully. "But I can tell you that I sort of feel like I could tell Lincoln anything.  Maybe it's a family thing with them," she laughed.

Clarke laughed too, then asked, "You and Bellamy are still picking me up, right? I told Lexa we'd be there by about 7, but I'd like to get there a bit earlier.  I don't want her to have to stand around Jasper and Monty's and not know anyone."

"For sure. We can be at your place by 6:30," Octavia assured her. Then she added mischievously, "What are you going to wear?"

"Oh my GOD, O.  I haven't even thought about that. What am I going to wear?" Clarke was starting to sound panicked.

Octavia giggled, "Settle down Clarke. Just wear what you’d always wear to one of the boys’ parties.  Just be yourself. You'll be fine."

"Right...right. You're right. Just treat this like any other party right?" Clarke responded breathlessly.

Octavia giggled again, "God, Clarke, you have it bad. You need to relax. I have to go, but I'll see you in a few hours, okay?"

"Right. Ok, thanks, O.  See you in a bit." Clarke closed the connection and finished wrapping her presents, trying to keep her mind off seeing Lexa again in a few hours and failing miserably.


 

6:30 couldn't come fast enough for Clarke Griffin, but at the same time, it came way too fast.  She had changed her clothes three times in the last hour, even though she tried to keep Octavia's advice in mind.  She finally settled on a pair of blue skinny jeans that hugged her curves and finished the look with a low-cut, tight-fitting long sleeved shirt.

 She had decided to leave her hair down but pulled it away from her face with two locks of hair that she twisted back from her temples and secured at the back of her head.  She had also elected to go with minimal makeup, opting for the more natural look that she actually preferred on a day-to-day basis. She threw on her blue leather jacket and slipped on a pair of comfortable sneakers.

She sat down to wait for Octavia and Bellamy, but stood up to pace as 6:30 pm came and went

 

At 6:35 pm, her phone buzzed with an incoming text.

 

O: We're here

 

Clarke quickly grabbed her scarf from the closet and wrapped it around her neck as she ran toward the front door.  She quickly locked up the house and sprinted to Bellamy's waiting truck. She hopped into the back seat, chafing her arms as she shivered.

 

"God, it's cold tonight!" Clarke exclaimed.

"You’re wearing a leather jacket, Clarke," Octavia pointed out. "You could have worn something warmer."

"Yeah, then I would’ve had to worry about where to put it, and then remember not to leave it there," Clarke said. "Hi Bell," she added.

"Hi, Princess," Bellamy replied. "Ready to go?"

"Yes. And stop calling me Princess. You know I hate that," Clarke scowled.

Bellamy just laughed as he backed out of the Griffin driveway and gunned the engine.

 

Chapter Text

 

The ride to the party was comfortable, the three singing along loudly, to the radio. They arrived at Jasper and Monty's 15 minutes later, all quickly running into the house to escape the cold.  Raven was already there, setting up the beer pong area, and Jasper was arranging mixers in bright red cups on the island in the kitchen.

 

"Where's Monty?" Clarke asked Raven.

 

"He's in the basement collecting the latest batch of homebrew," Raven absently responded as she bounced another ping pong ball into an empty cup at the other end of the table.

“Homebrew.” Clarke made a face.

"Ohhhhh, the beer pong is going to be good tonight Griffin, I can feel it in my bones,” Raven declared. “I'm going to be unstoppable at this table, and the people will bow before my greatness!" she exclaimed with a huge grin on her face as she looked at her friends.

Clarke just rolled her eyes and laughed before she wandered off to see if the boys needed any help.

 

By the time Clarke made it back, helping Monty balance a giant keg of homebrew up the stairs, the main floor of the house was packed with friends from school and hockey.  She helped Monty set up and tap the keg, grabbed a drink for herself and started wending her way through the bodies to find her friends.  She heard a commotion near the beer pong table and headed that way.

Sure enough, Raven was holding court, soundly beating poor Jasper, who had already had to down 6 of his 10 cups, to Raven's two. Raven smirked at Clarke with an 'I told you so’ expression before taking another turn, skillfully hitting one of the four remaining cups in front of Jasper. Jasper groaned, drained his cup and then took aim at Raven's remaining cups. He missed, groaning again, then rolled his eyes when Raven's next turn landed squarely in another of his cups only moments later.

It only took another couple of turns before Jasper was out, and Raven looked around for her next opponent.

 

Clarke had stepped away, not ready to get sucked into the game, but she heard Raven bellow at Monroe to be her partner, and they took on Bellamy and Monty. Clarke moved around the room socializing and tried not to be obvious that she kept looking at her watch, waiting for Lincoln and Lexa to arrive.  She joined Octavia, who was not being quite as subtle about checking the time.

 

"Where are they, Clarke? Why aren't they here yet?" Her voice carried a tinge of whine in it.

 

Clarke chuckled and wrapped her arm around her best friend's shoulders. "O, you are adorable when you are in like."

 

Octavia aimed an elbow at Clarke's ribs which caused the blonde to release her and jump away quickly, giggling at her friend’s scowl. She had managed not to spill any of her drink, but in twisting away from the spirited brunette, she ended up with her back to the door. Despite that, she looked at Octavia and froze, the smile dropping from her face, her eyes wide.

"They're here," she whispered to her friend, a panicked look on her face.

 

Octavia didn't notice the look on Clarke’s face, occupied with standing on her tiptoes and craning her neck to try to see the door on the other side of the room. "What? Where?" she asked. She caught sight of Lincoln making his way through the room and frowned.

"How did you know they were here, Clarke?"

 

When Clarke didn't answer, she finally looked at her and noticed the other girl’s pale complexion.

 

"Oh my God, Clarke," Octavia said with some amusement. "You have to remember to breathe, for God's sake. I've never seen you like this," she said with a bit more concern. "Are you going to be okay?"

 

Clarke nodded mutely before closing her eyes and taking a deep, calming breath.  She reopened her eyes to look into the concerned blue ones of her friend and nodded again.

 

"Let's go say hello," Clarke finally responded.

 

As they threaded through the crowd toward the door where they had spotted the new arrivals, Octavia glanced at Clarke before nudging her in the side with her hip.

"You never answered me."

 

"I'm sorry, what?" Clarke asked as she looked at her friend in confusion.

 

"I asked how you knew they were here.  Your back was to the door, and you told me Lexa and Lincoln were here without even seeing them," Octavia said, looking at her.

 

"I don't know, O," Clarke replied. "I just felt it," she finished with a one-shouldered shrug.

 

Octavia stared at her friend for a moment before she said, "That’s kind of freaky."

 

"What's freaky?" a deep voice said from beside them.

 

"Lincoln!" Octavia squealed and jumped into his arms, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek.

Lincoln laughed as he caught her, hugging her before he set her down.

"So? What's freaky?" he asked again.

 

Octavia glanced at Clarke and then at Lexa behind Lincoln, "I'll tell you later," she whispered. "Let's go get a drink; then we'll challenge Raven to a game of beer pong." She grabbed Lincoln's hand and pulled him in the direction of the kitchen, leaving Lexa standing uncomfortably in the foyer, shifting back and forth on her feet.

 

Clarke looked at Lexa, taking in her appearance. She was dressed in tight-fitting black jeans and a white T-shirt under her winter jacket. Her hair was pulled back from her face, up in a loose bun. Clarke thought she might be the most beautiful person she had ever seen. The scrutiny lasted only seconds before Clarke stepped forward, her heart beating so hard in her chest she was sure the other woman could hear it.

 

"Hi, Lexa," she managed to get out in a surprisingly even voice. "I'm glad you could make it. Can I take your coat?"

 

"Yes, thanks," Lexa replied quickly, slipping out of it and handing it to the blonde in front of her.

 

Clarke reached for the coat and accidentally brushed her fingers against Lexa's when she grasped it. The shock that radiated up her arm at the contact made her flinch, and she almost dropped the garment, and she turned quickly to hide the flush of her cheeks.

Lexa watched Clarke turn away from her, rubbing her hand where Clarke had touched her, wondering at the feeling that had shot through her at the contact.  She admired the way Clarke’s blonde mane flowed over her shoulders and glimmered where the light hit it, and she couldn't not notice the way her pants hugged her curves when she turned around.

 

Clarke hung up the coat in the front closet and turned back to Lexa, who was watching silently.

 

"Would you like a drink?" Clarke asked her.

 

Lexa was not a big drinker, she had never been, but for some reason when Clarke asked her if she wanted one, she couldn't stop her head from nodding and answering in the affirmative.

"That would be great. Thanks."

 

Clarke turned toward the main room and indicated with her head, "It’s this way. I'll introduce you to Jasper and Monty on the way.  A word of advice, though, don't accept anything from them in the way of a drink, they tend to over pour, and the resulting drink is really strong.  Stay away from the homebrew too, it’s awful!" Clarke added with a smile.

 

Lexa nodded in understanding and offered a small smile of her own in return as she followed Clarke through the house.

 

As they passed the pong table, an enormous cheer erupted from the onlookers. Raven stood at one end with both hands raised in the air, "Who's next!" she yelled. "Bring it on! I am unstoppable!"

 

Clarke rolled her eyes at her friend, and as they walked by, Raven noticed Lexa for the first time.

"Hi ya, Lexa!" she yelled. "Good to see you. Want to have a go?" she said as she pointed at the table before her.

 

Lexa looked at the table in confusion before looking to Clarke and then back at Raven.  "I have no idea what you’re doing, so I think I'll pass," she said.

 

Clarke reached over and snagged her arm, pulling her away from the table. "I'll explain it to you, and then we can come back and watch, then if you want to give it a try, I'll be your partner...if you want," she added quickly.

 

Lexa looked at her forearm where Clarke's hand was wrapped around it, painfully aware of the warmth radiating up her arm, before she looked back at her with a shy smile and muttered, "Okay."

 

Clarke caught the look Lexa shot at her hand, and barely registered the soft 'okay,' before she released her and continued into the kitchen.

 

Clarke busied herself making a Jamison and ginger with lime for herself, asking Lexa, "What'll you have?"

 

"Oh, um...I'm not sure," she said hesitantly. "I don't drink much. What do you recommend?"

 

"Hmm, let's see. Do you like beer?" Clarke asked, "Or you can try this." She indicated her drink.

 

Lexa eyed the golden beverage in the cup in Clarke's hand before saying, "Sure. I'll try that."

 

Clarke handed over the drink and watched as Lexa took a small sip, trying to gauge her reaction. Lexa lowered the cup and handed it back to Clarke.  "That's pretty good," she said, "I'll have one of those. Could you make mine a little less strong though, please?"

 

Clarke took her drink back, taking a sip as she did so, before quickly mixing up a less strong version of the Irish whiskey highball for Lexa. Once they both had their drinks in hand, they wandered back out to the living room to observe Raven continue to decimate all challengers in beer pong.

 

Lexa leaned closer to Clarke so that she could be heard over the commotion of the game. "So, what is this game called, and what’s the point?" she asked.

 

"It’s called 'beer pong,'" Clarke replied. "The point is to bounce the ping-pong ball into each of your opponents’ cups before they get them in yours.  Every time the ball lands in one of your cups, you have to drink it and then take the cup away.  You start with 10 cups, in a pyramid formation." She indicated the basic shape from what was left of the teams’ cups.

 

"When you get down to 4 cups, you rearrange them into a diamond shape, and when you get down to 2, you put them in a straight, horizontal line in front of you. When you land the ball in the other team's last cup, you win, but they have one last shot at redemption.  They get one more turn, and they get to keep throwing until they miss.  If they manage to get all of your cups without missing, you both fill up three more cups and have sudden death overtime to determine the final winner," Clarke finished.

 

Lexa nodded while Clarke spoke, watching the game take place and recognizing what was going on based on Clarke's description.

 

"Raven seems to be very good at it," Lexa observed.

 

Clarke chuckled, "Yes, she is... but not as good as me," she added slyly looking sideways at the brunette next to her.

 

Lexa looked at Clarke, eyebrows raised in question and challenge. "Oh yeah? I think I'd like to see that."

 

Clarke stared at Lexa, swallowing thickly before nodding and giving her a cocky smile. "Ask, and ye shall receive," she retorted.

 

It didn't take much longer for Raven to finish off her current competition, and when she boldly called out for her next victim, Clarke stepped up to the end of the table.  A hush fell over the group, and Raven turned to see Clarke filling up the 10 cups at her end of the table.

 

"Whoop!" Raven yelled, smiling widely. "Yes! I'm on a roll Griffin! You're going down this time!"

 

"We'll see Reyes. Bring it on," Clarke replied with a chuckle.

 

The girls finished setting up their cups and went through the motions of rock, paper, scissors to see who went first.  Raven won and with another yelp of excitement, she picked up the ping pong ball, bouncing on the balls of her feet in anticipation.

 

Raven made her first throw, swiftly landing in one of Clarke's cups. Clarke tossed back the contents of the cup quickly and set it on the floor before making her toss.

 

Both girls traded shots back and forth until both were down to 4 cups and had rearranged their remaining cups into the diamond formation. Raven lined up her shot and landed squarely in Clarke's front cup, jumping in the air with a loud "YAAASSSS!"

 

Clarke smiled, drank and lined up for her shot.  Lexa watched in admiration as Clarke focused and furrowed her brows in concentration, and then caught her breath as she watched Clarke stick the tip of her tongue out of the side of her mouth before taking her shot.  Lexa was still staring at the blonde and entirely missed the ball as it sailed flawlessly into the farthest of Raven's cups.  Clarke didn't celebrate the toss other than to arch her eyebrow at Raven in challenge. She turned to Lexa, caught her eye and dropped her a quick wink before turning back to Raven. Lexa thought her heart was going to beat right out of her chest when Clarke winked at her, and she had to forcibly tear her gaze away from the blonde and refocus on the game unfolding before her.

 

Raven's next shot looked as though it was going to bounce into Clarke's right side cup, but it hit the rim and skittered away.  Raven cursed, and Clarke smirked before confidently sailing her shot directly into the front cup at the other end of the table. Raven swore again, draining her cup and taking her time with her next shot.  She overthought it, though, missing altogether. Clarke smiled widely at Lexa after retrieving the ball, and Lexa was struck dumb by the beauty in front of her, overwhelmed by the feelings colliding throughout her body. She licked her lips before grinning back at the blonde bombshell in front of her.

 

Clarke raised the ball and pretended to scrutinize it before suddenly letting it go, with no apparent preparation, and the onlookers all cheered in appreciation as the ball dropped into one of the two cups remaining in front of Raven. Raven scowled again before she said haughtily, "Now you're just showing off, Clarke."

 

Clarke laughed lightly before indicating the three remaining cups in front of her with a dramatic wave of her hand. Raven narrowed her eyes at her before lining up her next shot and pumping her fist when she managed to hit an edge and fall into one of Clarke's cups.

 

Clarke downed her shot and rearranged her final two cups before picking up the ball for what could be her last shot.  She looked at Lexa with a crooked smile and gave her another wink before she said, "Wish me luck."

 

Lexa smiled back and just shook her head in amusement.

 

Raven piped up from the far end of the table, "You don't need luck Griffin, just make the damn throw."

 

Clarke made the toss and watched as the ball landed squarely in Raven's cup, before taking a dramatic bow to the cheering group around her. Raven down the cup and then yelled "Redemption!"

 

"By all means, Rae, take your best shot," Clarke fired back.

 

Raven got the first ball in but then missed and grumbled her congratulations to the blonde.  A couple people offered to challenge Clarke, so she looked at Lexa and asked "Do you want to try? We could play doubles."

 

Lexa thought about it briefly before nodding. Raven offered immediately to play with someone else and was surprised to see Lincoln step up beside her.  He smiled at Lexa and Clarke, and then fist bumped Raven before starting to help set up the cups.

 

The game was close.  Lexa showed an incredible aptitude for the game, making some tight shots prior to the re-cluster at 4 cups that left Raven with her mouth hanging open in disbelief.  Clarke was also impressed, shooting covert glances at the brunette over the course of the game.

 

It came down to one cup left for each team, with Lincoln throwing for his side and Lexa throwing for hers. Lincoln went first and hit the cup squarely, causing Raven to jump up and down in glee, as she slapped him on the back in excitement.

 

"No pressure Woods," Lincoln stated, calling Lexa by her last name.

 

Lexa just looked at him and then at Clarke, who smiled and whispered, "Don't worry about it. If you miss, we still have the redemption shot."

 

Lexa took a deep breath and made the shot.  It sailed across the table, bouncing once in front of the cup before bouncing up and off the back rim and in.  Cheers erupted, and Clarke turned and high-fived her partner.

"Now we go to sudden death," she said.

 

They set up their three cups, and it was Raven's turn first. She made her shot and smirked as Clarke downed the drink. Clarke took her shot and made it as well.  Then Lincoln and Lexa each made theirs.

It was down to one cup each again, and it was Raven's turn.  Clarke could tell she was nervous, so she grinned cockily at her, trying to throw Raven off her game.  Raven glared at her and then set up and sank the shot so casually, she made it look easy.

Clarke clapped slowly before taking her own shot and making it look just as easy as it too fell cleanly into the other team’s cup.  Raven groaned and began setting up for round two of overtime, but Clarke stopped her.

 

"Let's call it a draw, Rae. Other people want to play, and it's not fair to hog the table. If that's okay with you?" she turned and asked Lexa.

 

"Of course," the Lexa replied. "That was fun, thank you for an excellent game Raven, Lincoln," she said nodding her head at both of them in turn.

 

"No problem," Raven responded. "But we totally would have had you...maybe we can have a rematch later?"

 

Clarke nodded and smiled at her friend before she bent to retrieve their drinks from where she had placed them before the game and led Lexa to the couch in the living room.  They both sat down on either end of the small couch, and Clarke turned her body so that she could face Lexa, and the movement made their knees touch. Clarke handed Lexa her drink and asked, "How are you doing?"

 

Lexa looked at her in confusion for a moment before Clarke clarified, "Feeling, I mean. That was quite a few shots in a short amount of time, and you did say you don't drink often, so I was just wondering if you are feeling okay."

 

"Oh, yes, I'm fine, thanks," Lexa said. "We split the shots, so technically I should be asking you that question since you played a whole other game before ours."

 

Clarke laughed, "I’ve been known to play that game for hours on end and still kick everyone's ass. I’m fine."

 

Lexa thought that she could listen to Clarke laugh forever. It was fresh and light, like a babbling brook over sun-drenched rocks. She looked at the blonde and felt comfortable, more comfortable than she could ever remember feeling. Clarke's laughter was like food for her soul, she could feel herself come alive in the young woman's presence. She hadn't felt alive in a very long time. 

The feeling both terrified and excited her.

 

"Lexa?" Clarke questioned after a moment of silence where the two girls just sat and stared at each other.

 

At the sound of her name, Lexa straightened and mentally shook herself. Her eyes flicked down to the half-finished drink in her hand before saying "Sorry, I was thinking."

 

"Hmm," Clarke hummed in response. "Anything you want to share?" she asked with a hint of teasing in her voice.

 

Lexa smiled slightly, keeping her eyes lowered. "Not really," she said as she shook her head. "However," she continued looking back up at the woman in front of her, "I was wondering what you do when you aren't playing hockey."

 

Clarke laughed again, and it sent tingles down Lexa's back which pooled at the base of her spine.

 

"Well, I'm a third-year bioengineering student at George Washington University. I live at home with my parents because it's cheaper, and it's like I live alone more often than not due to my parents’ work schedules. Let's see, what else," she said with a smile. "I hate running, but I do it anyway to stay in shape for hockey, and I love being at the gym, and how good I feel after, but I hate going."

 

She looked expectantly at Lexa for a moment before tilting her head and asking, "What?" when the brunette looked at her with pursed lips and a small frown on her face.

 

"Bio-engineering?" she asked. "Isn't Raven also an engineering student?"

 

"Yeah, but she's studying to be a mechanical engineer. We both started in the engineering program but chose different specialties in our second year. It took me a bit to get caught up, and I had to take some summer classes after my first year, but it's paying off now."

 

"I don't understand," Lexa said. "Why would you have to catch up?"

 

"Oh, sorry. I wasn't always an engineering student," Clarke offered a bit sheepishly. "I actually got into GW on scholarship for the pre-med program."

 

Lexa's eyes widened. She knew the pre-med program was challenging to get into, and her respect for the woman in front of her grew even more. Beautiful and intelligent...oh Woods you are in so much trouble.

 

Lexa swallowed her surprise and asked, "pre-med, wow. Why the switch?"

 

So Clarke filled her in on the journey of her first year. She had been pre-med but decided to switch halfway through to the engineering program. It had been a tough decision because she really did like to help people, but she felt she could help more people by engineering medical advancements than she ever could directly as a doctor.

Her parents were totally supportive of her decision; she was essentially following in both of their footsteps, after all. She had to give up her scholarship to the pre-med program, but her parents were more than happy to pick up the extra for the remainder of the year as long as she was happy. So she moved over to the engineering program so that she could enter the three-year biomechanical engineering program in her second year.

She talked about her course load and scholarships and some of the work she was doing to prepare for post-graduate studies. She told all of this to Lexa in such an off-hand manner that Lexa knew Clarke had no idea how incredible she was.

"So, that's how I ended up in bioengineering," Clarke stated with a shrug.

 

"So you think you can help more people this way, is that the only reason?" Lexa wasn't sure why she asked, she just felt as though there was more to what Clarke was saying.

 

Clarke looked at Lexa carefully, as if judging how much of herself to share with a practical stranger, who for some reason, didn't feel like a stranger at all.

 

Clarke seemed to make a decision, and she nodded once before saying quietly, "My mom is a surgeon, and I’ve seen what it does to her when she loses someone. She blames herself, she goes over it, again and again, trying to figure out what she could have done differently. I don't know how she does it.  I asked her once, and she said that every time she fails to save someone, it makes her a better doctor. I can see how strong she is, how determined she is to be better every time she picks up a scalpel."

 

Clarke looked away from Lexa then and shook her head. "She’s so strong, she has to be strong to keep doing what she does.  I don't know if I‘m that strong. I don't know if I could deal with losing patients," she said sincerely.

 

"So, sometimes in my darker days when I’m questioning my choices, I feel like I took the easier road, that I copped out somehow. Then I get back into the research, and I learn and remember how these designs are helping people not only recover but lead healthier, happier lives. I feel good about my choice, and I really do love the design aspect of it. I have always loved to let my imagination run wild in the creative sense, so this program seemed tailor-made for me.  I get to flex my creative muscles and still help people." Clarke finished softly.

 

Clarke wasn't sure what made her share so much. She had just told Lexa more about her choices, and the reasons behind them than she had ever shared with Raven or Octavia. 

 

She wasn't sure what she expected in response, but Lexa reaching over and squeezing her thigh as she looked into her eyes certainly wasn't it.  She held her breath as Lexa whispered huskily, "I think you’re strong, Clarke."

 

Lexa didn't mean for it to come out as low as it did, but she couldn't bring herself to care.  She was mesmerized by the azure of Clarke's eyes. Eyes that seemed to reach out and pull her into their unending depths, eyes that seemed to see straight through her walls into her very soul. It left Lexa shaken by the strength of the feeling.

 

Clarke closed her eyes and shivered at the way the Lexa said her name, rolling the r softly and popping the k at the end with a soft click.  She decided that she could listen to Lexa say her name over and over and never get tired of it. She could feel the heat emanating from where Lexa's hand still rested on her thigh through the material of her jeans.

 

When she opened her eyes mere seconds later, she was surprised at how close she was to the other woman, both leaning in towards each other slightly, and she couldn't stop her eyes from flicking down to Lexa's lips before coming back up to meet her eyes again. Her eyes. Clarke felt as though she could get lost forever in the forest green of her eyes and be perfectly happy. She felt an inexplicable draw to the other woman, and the only thing she could think about was how Lexa's lips would feel pressed against her own. What her skin would feel like under the touch of her fingertips as she brushed them along elegant cheekbones and slid them along a perfectly sculpted jaw.

 

All of these thoughts and more were racing around Clarke's head, and she could feel herself leaning in and closing the distance between them, oh so slowly.  She was close enough to feel the warmth of Lexa's breath on her face, her heart beating so hard she felt sure everyone at the party could hear it. Her own respiration rate had at least doubled in the last few moments, but still, Clarke inched closer, keeping her eyes locked on Lexa’s. 

 

Just as she was about to close the final distance, she was jarred away from Lexa by an agitated Octavia who was rushing towards them babbling incoherently, utterly unaware of what she had just interrupted. She practically fell over them in her haste to find them, and it took a minute for Clarke to finally understand what Octavia was going on about, but when it finally registered her face drained of colour.

 

"Finn's here. Finn's here, Finn's here," Octavia kept repeating.

"He's drunk, and he's mad, and he's looking for you, Clarke," she said, eyes wide and glossy.

Chapter Text

 

"He's here, Clarke!" Octavia practically yelled. "Why? Why would he come here?"

 

"Oh, my God," Clarke breathed out under her breath before she looked at the agitated brunette. "Where is he?"

 

"He was in the kitchen the last time I saw him. He was yelling and pushing Jasper around. Bellamy was trying to talk to him when I left to find you. I think Lincoln was going to see if he could help too. He's out of control Clarke," Octavia added in a loud whisper.

 

Lexa watched the interaction between the two girls in confusion and no small sense of frustration. Clarke had been about to kiss her; she was sure of it. She had no idea what she would have done if the kiss had happened; she had told herself never to go down that road again. Lexa had convinced herself that to allow herself to become close to someone was a weakness, and for two years she had held herself aloof and distant from any emotional or physical intimacy. It terrified her how easily she forgot herself in the blonde's presence, how easily Clarke slipped behind the walls she had built up around her heart and how quickly the emotions she had held at bay for years erupted within her.

 

She watched as the blood drained from Clarke's face when Octavia mentioned someone named Finn and became concerned when something akin to panic flitted across Clarke's face. Then she watched as Clarke carefully schooled her features to one of calm indifference as she stood up from the couch and visibly straightened her back and squared her shoulders, before looking down at Lexa with regret.

 

"I'm sorry about this," she said and headed off in the direction of the kitchen leaving a very confused Lexa in her wake.

 

Octavia had turned as well and was about to follow after Clarke, when Lexa stood up quickly and grabbed the smaller brunette by the elbow, stopping her departure.

 

"What's going on, Octavia?" Lexa asked, concern evident in her voice.

 

Octavia jolted and turned, seeming to take in the other woman’s presence for the first time. Lexa could tell that the younger woman was inebriated, her eyes going in and out of focus as she looked at Lexa.

 

"Oh, Lexa!" she exclaimed as she finally registered who was holding her arm. "Shit! Shit, shit, shit!" she muttered loudly, looking in the direction of the kitchen.

 

"This is so incredibly messed up, Lexa," Octavia said as she looked back at her, seemingly pleading with her to understand. Understand what, Lexa had no idea.

 

"I don't understand what's going on, Octavia."

 

"Clarke didn't.... no. No, she wouldn't have, not yet," Octavia finished, mumbling, looking at the floor. Then she raised her head and looked again at Lexa, "Of course, you wouldn't know. How could you?" Octavia babbled shaking her head.

 

Lexa was about to shake the inebriated brunette into making sense when they heard yelling from the other side of the house. Octavia looked at Lexa with a worried expression in her eyes and tugged her arm out of the other girl’s grip, "I have to go..."

 

Lexa released her, and Octavia took off out of the living room and headed to the kitchen, with Lexa following closely behind.

 

When they reached the area of the kitchen, most of the partygoers were crowded around the entrance, trying to peer over and around each other at the drama unfolding on the other side of the wall of people.

 

Octavia used her small size and sharp elbows to duck under arms and squeeze between bodies until she was standing at the front of the crowd. Lexa arrived a moment later, pushing through the last of the mob to stand by Octavia's side.

They were just in time to see a dark-haired boy step towards Clarke with a raised, fisted hand.

 

__________________________________________________

 

Clarke was about to shoot a withering glare at her best friend for interrupting what was sure to be a fantastic moment before what Octavia was saying registered.

“Finn's here.”

 

Clarke felt the blood leave her face and had an intense urge to flee before she got control of herself. She managed to get a bit more information from the agitated brunette before turning to face Lexa. She could see the confusion in the other woman's eyes and regretted not being able to explain to her what was going on. All she could do was apologize.

 

Clarke went to the kitchen, where Octavia had said Finn had been last she'd seen him. As she got closer, she saw a few people had noticed the commotion and were starting to gather to see what was going on. She could also just see Bellamy, with Lincoln close behind him, blocking an angry Finn from leaving the confines of the kitchen.

 

Clarke pushed through the few people standing in the doorway and walked in to stand beside Bellamy. As soon as she got there, Finn noticed her and turned his attention away from Bellamy, focusing on her. The look in his eyes froze Clarke to her core. She didn't know this Finn. Gone were the soft brown eyes that had always looked at her with tenderness and affection. The anger and hurt that Clarke saw there now made him unrecognizable to her as the boy she had gotten to know over the last few months.

 

Finn just stared at her, so Clarke cleared her throat, took a couple of steps closer and quietly asked him, "What are you doing here, Finn?"

 

"What am I doing here?" he repeated, almost to himself, looking away from her. Then he looked back and yelled.

"What am I doing here? God, Clarke! How can you even ask me that? What am I doing here? I'm here for you! For us!" He was practically screaming, gesturing wildly with his hands.

 

Clarke took a step closer to the agitated young man and quietly asked, “Finn, maybe we should go somewhere else? Talk in private?”

Finn carried on as if she had said nothing, ignoring the plea for a more private conversation. “We were fine. We were happy, Clarke, and then all of a sudden you decided you were done with me – out of the blue. I told you I loved you, for God’s sake! I just…I don’t understand Clarke,” Finn said desperately.

 

“Why won’t you give us a chance?” he pleaded.

 

Clarke could feel the crowd behind her growing and wished that Finn had agreed to have this conversation in private, but her attention stayed on the young man in front of her.

 

She flinched slightly at his words, but shook her head and looked at him sadly. "Finn, I told you, we’re over." She didn't want to hurt him further, but she also had to make him understand, so she asked. "What did you think would happen, coming here?"

 

"What?" he asked stupidly.

 

"What did you think was going to happen, Finn? That I would see you and decide I'd made a mistake and take you back? I told you that I didn't feel about you the way you were starting to feel about me. That hasn't changed," she finished softly.

 

Finn looked at his ex-girlfriend with his mouth open and shook his head. He seemed to see the group of people gathered behind her and Bellamy for the first time. His eyes shifted to the mob, and he noticed that some of them were whispering and laughing. At him, or so he thought.

 

Embarrassment flooded his system, and he stepped towards Clarke with his arm raised and his fist clenched. Clarke's eyes widened, and she took a hasty step back as Finn stepped towards her. As she backed up, her foot caught on the leg of a stool tucked into the kitchen island. She tripped, windmilling her arms; she tried to grab the edge of the island to break her fall, but missed and went down, smacking the back of her head and then the side of her face on the stool as she went.

 

Bellamy was already moving forward when he saw Finn's forward movement but could do nothing but flinch at the loud crack as Clarke’s head hit the wooden stool as she fell. He was close enough to semi-catch her before she hit the floor though and he gently eased her down into his lap.

 

Clarke's head exploded with stars, and she vaguely felt someone catch her and heard all hell break loose before the ringing in her ears overtook her, and she succumbed to darkness.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lexa was moving as soon as she saw Finn step toward Clarke with his fist clenched. It seemed to happen in slow motion for the brunette, watching Clarke trip as she backed away, then falling and hitting her head on the stool as she fell. She was stepping past Bellamy as he caught Clarke and gently lowered her to the floor. She could hear the uproar occurring around her, and she appreciated Lincoln's presence beside her as she approached the boy who now stood heaving over a supine Clarke.

 

She and Lincoln took another step towards Finn, and his head snapped up, as he realized what was happening, a wild look in his eye. Finn looked around frantically for an escape, but Lexa and Lincoln were in front of him, the island to his right, the rest of the kitchen to his left and when he spun around, realized that Jasper was still behind him. He looked to jump over the island to get away, and when he did, noticed the block of carving knives on the island and immediately grabbed one and started brandishing it in front of him.

 

"Get away from me!" he yelled.

 

"Put the knife down, you dumbass!" Bellamy shouted from the floor. "For Christ’s sake. Don’t make this worse than it already is."

 

Lexa and Lincoln had stopped their advance when Finn had grabbed the knife, but Jasper was still creeping up behind him. He caught Lexa's eye, and she subtly shook her head to try to keep Clarke's intoxicated friend from trying to be a hero, but he just smirked at her in response.

 

"I love her, Bellamy!" Finn wailed, "I just wanted...I never meant...." Before he could continue, Jasper made his move, coming up behind Finn he attempted to wrap his arms around the other man to bind his arms. Some noise or sixth sense tipped Finn off, though, and he spun around, knife clutched in his hand and sliced through Jaspers' abdomen. Jasper staggered back, both hands holding his stomach. As blood started to well between his fingers, he fell to his knees.

 

In the distance, police sirens screamed, getting louder as they approached. Someone had called 911 at some point during the altercation.

 

"SHIT!" Finn yelled, as he dropped the bloody knife to the floor and grabbed his hair with his hands in agitation. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean for any of this to happen," he wailed, tears streaming down his face.

 

Everyone had backed away from him as he brandished the knife in front of him again after Jasper fell, and no one stopped him as he stepped around the fallen boy and bolted out of the sliding door at the side of the kitchen, onto the outside deck and disappeared into the dark.

 

Lexa moved directly to Clarke's side, and Lincoln went to Jasper, barking out orders to those around him for help. A now, suddenly sober Octavia arrived next to him in moments with towels and Lincoln immediately ripped open Jasper's shirt and applied pressure to the wound on his abdomen. He lifted it after a moment and inspected the slash quickly before stating, "It's not too deep, he's lucky. He should be okay with some stitches."

 

Lexa heard all of this as she knelt next to a still-unconscious Clarke, whose head and shoulders Bellamy had cradled in his lap. Her heart clenched when she saw the blood from the cut on the back of her head on Bellamy's hands and pants, the scrape along her cheekbone from hitting the stool, and the bruise spreading across Clarke's cheek. It was all she could do to stop herself from reaching out and pushing a loose strand of hair away from the blonde's face. Instead, she thrust a tea towel at Bellamy that she had grabbed off the counter, to press to the back of Clarke's head, as she watched the pulse point in her neck beat out a steady rhythm, assuring her that Clarke was okay.

 

Raven barged in moments later, dishevelled and looked around wildly.

"What the fucking hell happened?" she hollered, eyes landing on Clarke and then Jasper.

She knelt down next to Lexa, reached out and felt Clarke's pulse, then gently touched the scrape on her cheekbone and the purple bruise. Lexa moved out of the way and stood up, moving over to see if she could help with Jasper, looking back at Clarke's supine form every few seconds.

 

Lincoln had Jasper's bleeding under control and instructed Octavia to keep pressure on the wound while he checked on Clarke. Lexa stood between the two wounded friends, unsure where to go or what to do. She was on the verge of panic, the complete and total feeling of helplessness threatening to overtake her. It was a too-familiar feeling, and she felt her chest constrict as she fought to try to calm herself. She forced herself to focus on Lincoln’s quiet, calm confidence while dealing with the injured friends and felt herself relax marginally. Once again, she was thankful for Lincoln’s grounding presence.

Raven had moved over to help Octavia with Jasper, so Lexa went back to Clarke's side and sat quietly with Bellamy as Lincoln looked over the unconscious girl.

 

"She'll probably need stitches for that head laceration" Lincoln informed them, "and she’ll have a concussion, not to mention one hell of a headache, but it could have been worse. She should be okay." He looked at Bellamy and gave him a half grin, "Nice catch."

 

"Thanks," Bellamy said, "I'm just glad I was close enough."

 

Octavia and Raven were sitting with Jasper, who was trying to make a stupid joke about how much women love scars. The two girls forced a laugh at his attempt at humour and Raven reached out and squeezed his shoulder.

 

"You got to the ruckus late," Octavia observed quietly to Raven out of the side of her mouth.

 

"Yeah," Raven replied sheepishly, "I was...upstairs...checking someone, er, something out," she finished lamely.

 

Octavia rolled her eyes at her friend and began filling her in on what had happened. She was interrupted minutes later by the arrival of the police and the paramedics, so they surrendered Jaspers' care to them and moved out of the way.

 

Lexa sat by Clarke's side, fighting the urge to touch her. She found herself shaking with both fear and anger, and she tried to calm her racing mind.

Though it seemed trivial in the wake of the violence, Lexa couldn’t shake the thought: Clarke had a boyfriend. She wasn't sure what had occurred between the two before she got there, but she had heard the young man profess his love for her. She had no idea what Clarke had said to him before that, or why he had approached her the way he had, but it made her burn with rage.

 

Lexa looked up as the police and paramedics entered the kitchen and stepped away from Clarke to give them better access to check her condition. As they assessed her vital signs, Clarke started to flutter her eyelids and moan softly.

 

The police began talking to the partygoers, trying to piece together what happened, and they were sending home those who couldn't be of help. The house was starting to empty, and soon Jasper and Clarke were loaded on stretchers and taken out to the waiting ambulances. The police asked Lexa to stay, as well as Lincoln, Octavia, and Bellamy as they were all witnesses.

 

Raven, having missed both the confrontation and the attack, rode with her injured friends in the ambulance, promising to text the others with updates. She also pledged to call Clarke's parents. Monty had already called Jasper’s. He was also accompanying the ambulance since he’d been in the basement struggling with a faulty tap for a new keg of homebrew while the incident was happening.

 

Lexa felt like screaming. She wanted to go with Clarke, but she knew that Raven would keep her word and let them know what was going on. Still, her skin itched from the inactivity; she just wanted to give her statement and go to check on Clarke. However, she wasn't sure if Clarke would want her there, and truth be told, Lexa wasn't sure she could set foot inside the hospital. As she was taken to another room by a police officer to get her statement, she pushed that thought aside to focus on the task ahead of her.

 

Lexa had finished with the officers about the same time as Octavia, both of them looking at each other, saying nothing before Octavia broke the silence.

 

"So..." she said fidgeting slightly and not meeting Lexa's eyes.

 

"So," Lexa responded quietly.

 

Octavia looked at Lexa suddenly and narrowed her eyes and tilted her head slightly as she contemplated the taller brunette in front of her. Then, as if making a decision of some sort blurted out, "Clarke broke up with Finn a few days ago. He didn't take it well."

 

Lexa's eyebrows shot up briefly in surprise, both by the suddenness of the remark and with the understanding that Finn was not Clarke's boyfriend, at least not anymore. The relief that flooded her system also took her by surprise, and she felt some of the tension of the evening leave her neck and shoulders.

“Oh.”

Lexa had a thousand questions, but she didn't give voice any of them. Instead, she asked, "Are you going to the hospital?"

 

"Yes. Are you?" Octavia queried back.

 

Lexa looked away from the girl to her tightly clenched fists held in front of her and slowly forced herself to relax them. Octavia noticed and quietly asked, "Lexa?"

 

Lexa looked up at her and saw compassion in the younger woman's bright blue eyes. She took a deep breath. "Do you think I should?"

 

Octavia didn't hesitate. "Yes. You definitely should,” she said, punctuating her statement with a nod.

 

Lexa didn't say anything, just nodded back. They went to find an officer to ask if they could leave. After receiving permission and confirming that they would be available the next day if they were needed, Octavia went to find Lincoln and explain what they wanted to do.

Lincoln nodded. “I’ll drive.”

Chapter Text

Raven called Clarke's mom on the way to the hospital. Abby was working that night, so she was waiting in the emergency room when the ambulances arrived. Clarke had continued to become more aware on the way to the hospital but was still groggy as they wheeled her into the ER. Abby immediately took over, checking vital signs and ordering a head CT for her daughter. She was about to move on with Clarke to get the CT when Dr. Jaha arrived, pulled Abby away and quietly spoke to her. Raven could see the stubborn set of Abby's jaw and knew that whatever Dr. Jaha was saying to her, Abby didn't like it. However, after a few moments of intense conversation, Abby nodded her head stiffly and let Clarke go on without her, returning her attention to Raven.

Raven swallowed and tried to stand up straighter as the formidable Abigail Griffin eyed her. Abby was in full Chief of Surgery mode, and she could be intimidating. Raven was both impressed and slightly terrified as the woman approached her. She reached Raven in a few strides, grabbed her upper arm, and dragged her into an empty exam room before rounding on her and exploding.

"What the hell happened?"

Raven cringed at the anger, fear, and worry that infused the other woman's tone. She was no longer dealing with Dr. Griffin, but with Abby - Clarke's mom. And Abby was terrified.

"I'm sorry Dr. G, but I don't know all the details. I missed most of it, which is why I'm here, the police didn't need me." Raven squeaked out.

"THE POLICE!" Abby cried. "What in God's name...tell me everything you know. Right. Now." Abby forced out through clenched teeth.

Raven gulped and gave her best friend's mother the condensed version of what had happened based on the brief conversation she had managed to have with Octavia before the police took her in for her statement.

It wasn't much, but Abby was seething. "Did they catch him?" she gritted out, her jaw clenching so hard Raven was sure she was damaging some teeth.

"I honestly have no idea," Raven stated quietly, then added hesitantly, "Dr. G?"

Abby looked at her with brows raised in question, anger still evident on her face.

Raven looked down at the ground then back up at the doctor. "Clarke will be ok, right?" she asked softly, tears welling in her eyes. "She was out for a while and didn't seem too aware of what was going on when we got here," Raven continued with a small hitch in her voice as all the concern and stress of the evening caught up with her.

Abby's face softened as she looked at the distraught girl, and reached out and pulled her into a fierce hug, placing a kiss on the top of her head.

"Clarke should be all right honey," she assured. "It's good that she started to come around relatively quickly, but we'll know more when the CT comes back."

Raven pulled away and looked at her, asking the question that had been nagging at her since they wheeled Clarke away.

"How come you didn't go with her?"

Abby scowled and mumbled something about hospital regulations regarding treating your family. Then she looked at the dark-eyed brunette before huffing out, "I have to wait for the results just like every other parent."

"Oh. So how long do we have to wait?" Raven asked.

"It shouldn't be too long," Abby answered, shoving her hands into her lab coat, looking around the ER, then back at the young woman fidgeting in front of her. "I'm going to see Dr. Jackson and see how Jasper is doing, okay? Why don't you head out to the waiting area, and I'll find you as soon as I know something."

Raven nodded her assent and wandered out to the waiting area. She saw Monty sitting in one of the hard-backed chairs, hands clasped and dangling between his knees. She could hear Jasper's voice as he chatted with someone, probably or nurse, from behind a curtain as she made her way to the waiting area towards her friend and slumped into the chair next to him.

"Quite a night, hey," Raven said, looking straight ahead. "Jasper seems to be doing okay."

"Pfffft," he blew in disgust. "I don't know who I'm madder at," the young man said. "Finn for being a dick or Jasper for trying to be a hero." He said the last while throwing his hands up haphazardly, only to have them come back and land heavily in his lap.

"You know," he continued in disbelief. "The whole way here, in the ambulance he was asking the EMTs how cool his scar was going to look. Can you believe that? He's treating this like a joke, Rae!" Monty took a deep breath and then lowered his voice.

"He could have been hurt badly, and he doesn't care."

Raven had turned to look at Monty while he vented, and when he finished, she placed her hand on his arm and quietly said, "I think he cares Monty. I think he just doesn't know how to react yet, so he's whistling in the dark. It will sink in, though, and then he's going to need you to be there for him while he deals with everything that happened tonight."

Monty sighed and hung his head. "I know. I know this clown act is just his way of dealing. It just drives me crazy." Monty continued to fill Raven in on Jasper's experience in the hospital, letting her know that he would get to go home as soon as they were done stitching him up.

Raven gave him another pat on the arm and then pulled away, crossing her arms in front of her.

"How's Clarke?" Monty asked.

"Not sure," she said worriedly. "They took her away to scan her head or something. Her mom said she'd tell me as soon as she knows anything."

"She must have hit her head pretty hard," Monty observed.

"Yeah. I mean, I guess. I didn't see it, but it was bleeding pretty badly, and she was out for a while. Bellamy said he caught her as she fell, so that was lucky." Raven wiped her hands down her face and then pulled out her phone to send an update to her friends.

She set up a group chat and realized with a pang that she didn't have Lexa's number. Given the stricken look on the young woman's face when Raven had first entered the kitchen, she was fairly sure the brunette had feelings of some sort for Clarke. She felt bad that she wasn't able to include Lexa, but there was nothing that could do about it at the moment. She shrugged it off and set about composing a message.

Rae: Hi guys. Hopefully, you are on your way. No news on Clarke yet; they took her in for a head thingy, but she was starting to come around in the ambulance, so that's good. Jasper is in excellent form; I heard him flirting with the nurses as they stitched him up. His wound was mostly superficial, so they treated him with a local anesthetic, rather than needing surgery, so that's good news. They'll let him go home or with his parents tonight. Monty and I are in the ER waiting room, find us when you get here.

Rae: Oh, and if Lexa's with you or you see her, let her know that I wanted to include her in this, but I didn't have her number. Pass the message on, ok?

It only took moments before a response came in from Octavia.

O: On our way. Lincoln's driving and Lexa's with us. Bellamy stayed to clean up. Be there soon.

Raven shared the message with Monty, pocketed her phone and sat back to wait for news of her best friend.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Octavia, Lexa, and Lincoln all climbed into Lincoln's truck in silence. They had spoken briefly to Bellamy to let him know where they were going. The police had more questions for him since he had been present from the moment of Finn's arrival. He said he would stay afterward and clean up to get it ready for Jasper and Monty's return.

Lexa sat tensely on the passenger side of the truck, her shoulders and neck so tight she felt like they might snap at the slightest movement. She felt a driving compulsion to know how Clarke was, but she felt equally strongly that she absolutely did not want to go to the hospital. Octavia seemed oblivious to the other girl's internal turmoil, but Lincoln kept sneaking worried glances at his cousin as they drove and got closer to the hospital.

About halfway there, Octavia's phone buzzed with an incoming text. She scrabbled in her pocket for her phone, while the tension in the truck became palpable. She thumbed open the messages screen and quickly read the message silently, letting out a staggered breath when she reached the end.

Lexa was a barely able to keep herself from demanding to know if it was from Raven, and she bit her lower lip hard enough to taste the iron tang of blood while she waited.

Octavia kept the message open as she shared the contents with the other two. "Okay," she started. "So Jasper's going to be all right, and they'll let him go home tonight," she began.

She took a deep breath before saying, "Clarke..."

"What about Clarke?" Lexa said at the same time, immediately embarrassed at her outburst as Octavia looked at her.

"Clarke," Octavia said again side-eyeing Lexa, "started to gain consciousness in the ambulance and when they arrived they took her for a 'head thingy' Raven called it."

"A head CT," Lincoln offered. "It's probably just a precaution," he stated when both girls looked at him with concerned expressions. "It's like an X-ray, but it lets you see the soft tissue and blood vessels in the brain. She walloped her head hard enough that they probably want to make sure she doesn't have any cranial swelling..." Lincoln trailed off when he noticed the horrified looks the two girls were shooting his way.

"You are not making me feel better Lincoln," Octavia stated worriedly. "That's all there is. Except she said to mention to you Lexa, that she would have included you in the message thread but doesn't have your number, so she asked me to make sure you heard." Octavia finished.

"Thank you," Lexa replied tightly trying to control the sense of panic she was feeling after listening to Lincoln's description of Clarke's head injury.

Lexa's mind was racing with near-panic. She felt like there was a tornado of emotion inside her head, and if she lost control for just one second, that she would start screaming out loud. She was going to a place that held only nightmares and heartache, and she still didn't know if Clarke was going to be all right. She was suppressing her panic, but she knew she must be doing a horrible job of it if the looks her cousin was shooting her was any indication. Lexa clenched her fists and felt her fingernails digging into her palms, but she used the pain to ground her and hold it together.

Much too soon, and also not fast enough, they were pulling into the ER parking lot of GWU Hospital. Lincoln pulled over to let the two girls out and pulled away to find parking. Octavia and Lexa quickly walked to the entrance, and when the doors opened automatically, Octavia briskly walked through, not noticing that Lexa had stopped dead at the door. It had taken several strides before Octavia realized that Lexa was no longer beside her, and she stopped and looked back at the other girl who was frozen in the open doorway, hands clenched tightly at her sides.

"Lexa?" Octavia queried, a small confused frown on her face.

When the older girl didn't respond, Octavia turned around and started back toward her, calling her again, louder. "Lexa. Lexa!"

The third time Octavia said her name, Lexa finally seemed to register that she was blocking the door, and she took two hasty steps back toward the sidewalk. Octavia moved out with her, looking at her in concern. "Are you okay?" she asked.

Lexa visibly startled, glanced at Octavia, and then away just as quickly. "Yes. You go ahead. I can't..." she trailed off. "I'm just going to wait for Lincoln."

Octavia regarded her carefully, knowing that there was something Lexa wasn't telling her, but she didn't know the other girl well enough to pry. And she didn't really want to, at the moment. She just wanted to find her friends. So she nodded and turned back to the entrance, saying over her shoulder "See you in there in a bit, then."

Lexa took one long shuddering breath after another, shifting from foot to foot as she stood looking through the glass doors of the ER entrance. It was there that an unsurprised Lincoln found her several minutes later.

"Lexa," he murmured as he came up beside her, placing a big hand on her slender shoulder.

Lexa took another deep, shaky breath and exhaled,

"I don't think I can do this," she whispered.

Lincoln pulled gently on her hand, turning her away from the door and to the side of the entrance, interposing his body between her and the hospital. He placed his hand on her shoulder and gently gripped her chin between his thumb and his forefinger, tilting her head up to look at him. He could see the unshed tears in her eyes, and he gave her a sad, compassionate smile.

"You don't have to do anything you don't want to do, Lex," he assured her softly.

"I can't go in there and sit and wait to hear how she is. Not aga...I can't" Lexa stated flatly, her voice breaking slightly at the end.

Lincoln's heart ached, but there was nothing he could do to help her. If he was surprised at the apparent depth of feeling she was displaying for Clarke, he kept it to himself. He nodded shortly and then reached around her slender frame and drew her in for a loving hug.

Lexa wrapped her arms around him and dropped her head to his chest and felt the first tears fall from her eyes. She stayed there for a moment, allowing the tears to fall before standing back and wiping her face with the backs of her hands. Lincoln produced a tissue from somewhere that she took with a brief look of thanks and finished drying her face and wiped her nose.

"You just happened to have a tissue handy?" Lexa asked once she had finished.

Lincoln just shrugged, "I grabbed them from the truck. I figured someone might need them before the night was over," he said before looking back at Lexa.

"What are you going to do?" he asked her softly.

Lexa sighed. "I don't know," she said sadly shaking her head. "It's all too much Lincoln. Too much, too fast."

"It's been just over two years Lex," Lincoln said slowly, trying to get a read on his cousin. "You've kept yourself so alone, so apart from everyone. Ever since you started playing hockey again, it's been like watching you slowly come back to life, but there was still something missing."

He paused before pushing on, hoping he was about to say the right thing. "It wasn't until last week that the spark in your eyes came back. This past week, it's like you're living again, not just surviving. You deserve better than just to survive, Lex," he finished softly, looking into her bright green eyes.

Lexa looked at her cousin, who was more friend than relative, and she knew that he was right. It terrified her, the intensity of the feelings she experienced every time she was around Clarke. It was too terrifying, too out of control.

She shook her head again and said wistfully, "I have no idea what is happening here Linc, and worse, I seem to have absolutely no control over it. I only just met her, and I can't stop thinking about her. I can't resist the pull I feel towards her...I'm not sure I want to, but it terrifies me. I can't go through that again. I don't know what I'm doing," she admitted plaintively.

"You don't have to have all the answers, Lex. You just have to take a leap of faith. Ask yourself, does it feel right? Is it worth the risk? Are you ready to put yourself out there?"

Did it feel right? It did, overwhelmingly, it did. In fact, when Lexa was in Clarke's presence, it was the only time everything felt right. She felt complete. She felt whole. She felt safe. The feeling was both soothing and terrifying, and she wasn't sure her heart could handle it. Especially here, standing in front of the hospital, wondering if the young woman she had met only recently was going to be all right. It made her feel weak, and Lexa Woods hated feeling weak.

"I don't know if I'm ready, Lincoln," Lexa stated quietly. "But I do know that I have to know how she is, the rest I can figure out later."

Lexa turned and looked at the door to the ER again and nodded shortly before starting towards the entrance, Lincoln at her side. As she approached the double doors and they swooshed open to admit her, she reached down and grabbed Lincoln's hand as she stepped across the threshold and into the hospital.

Chapter Text

Lexa allowed Lincoln to lead her into the lobby of the emergency room. Every step felt like an effort. She felt her chest tighten and her breath catch in her throat as her mind registered the medicinal smell and sounds of the ER.

Lincoln stopped and squeezed her hand. "You have to breathe Lexa," he softly whispered as he leaned towards her ear. "We can go when you are ready...or not at all. It's your call."

Lexa took in a huge gulp of air and released it shakily as she silently nodded her head, squeezing his hand back in thanks.

They stood motionless for several minutes while Lexa collected herself, Lincoln waiting patiently to see which way Lexa would go, ready to support whatever decision she made.

After several more deep calming breaths, Lexa looked up at Lincoln and nodded again, taking a hesitant step forward. Lincoln stepped quickly to match her stride as they moved slowly through the lobby and into the waiting room.

Lincoln noticed the group of friends sitting in the hard-backed chairs and gestured towards them with his chin. "Over there," he stated quietly.

Lexa looked in the direction he indicated and headed in the trio's direction.

Octavia saw them first and waved to them. She noticed the tightness with which Lexa was grasping Lincoln's hand, and she made a mental note to ask Lincoln about it later.

They joined the other three in the chairs, Monty and Raven issuing somber greetings to the newcomers.

Lincoln had taken a seat next to Octavia. Lexa sat next to him, reluctantly releasing his hand when she sat and folded her hands tightly in her lap instead.

Lincoln was the first to break the silence. "Have you heard anything?"

Raven shook her head. "No, nothing yet. Jasper's parents showed up about 10 minutes ago, and they're with him now. Nothing yet about Clarke though."

Lincoln looked over at Lexa and noticed she was clenching her jaw so hard that he was concerned about her teeth. He reached out a tentative hand and placed it on her shoulder, squeezing when he felt the slight flinch under his hand.

Octavia managed to catch Lincoln's eye and flicked her gaze to Lexa and then back to Lincoln, quirking an eyebrow. Lincoln understood her unasked question and just shook his head imperceptibly at the small brunette, so she shrugged and reached for his hand.

The group sat in tense silence for several more minutes before Raven spotted Abby approaching through the waiting room. She stood up, reaching down to tap Monty on the shoulder.

"You guys," she whispered hoarsely. "Abby's coming."

Instantly all eyes were on the doctor as she wove through the chairs to where her daughter's friends were waiting. Octavia had stood up as well to stand next to Raven, but the rest remained sitting.

Lexa didn't think her legs would support her. So she remained seated with her hands clenched tightly, and her breath was coming in short gasps, silently thankful for the comforting weight of Lincoln's hand on her shoulder.

Abby finally arrived after what seemed like an excruciatingly long time and came to a stop in front of them, a small frown on her face.

Raven, Octavia, and Monty all started talking at once, and Abby raised her hand to silence them.

"Clarke has been admitted to the hospital so we can keep an eye on her," Abby started. "She became aware of her surroundings about halfway through the scan and was understandably confused and scared. She began moving around. That ruined the scan, and they had to start over. That's why it took so long."

Raven asked the question they were all thinking. "Is she okay?"

Abby sighed heavily. "She will be," she finally said, "Clarke needed five staples in the back of her head, and suffered a grade 3A concussion to her occipital lobe, so it's going to take a while before she's a hundred percent."

Lexa watched Lincoln visibly flinch at this news and knew it wasn't good. She knew of course that Clarke would have a concussion, and she also knew that it was a bad one considering Clarke lost consciousness for more than a few seconds, but she had no idea what a grade 3A concussion was.

Raven apparently wondered the same thing and didn't hesitate to ask. "What does that mean, Dr. G? When will she be okay?"

Abby sighed again and looked at the group of young people in front of her before beginning again, her voice serious.

"Being knocked unconscious at all is worrying when we are talking about a brain injury. And that's what a concussion is - a brain injury. The fact that Clarke was out for more than a few seconds, and bordered on full unconsciousness for minutes was very worrying and almost puts her into the most severe category of concussion identification. A grade 3B could keep her from playing hockey, or doing anything else physical for up to 6 months. However, because she started to come to at the house, we can downgrade her to a 3A, but she still has to be very careful. It could take her a full month before she is back to herself."

Abby paused as she heard soft gasps from her daughter's friends, noticing that Octavia's hand had flown to cover her mouth, and Raven's eyes had taken on a hard glint.

"The police better catch that asshole before I do," Raven muttered under her breath. Octavia, the only one to hear her, glanced quickly at her and gave her a short nod, then back at Abby.

It was only when Abby looked over at Lincoln that she noticed Lexa sitting there, rigid and unmoving, her face hard and unreadable.

Abby frowned, slightly concerned for the young lady but looked back at the other two girls and continued. "Everyone responds differently to concussions and heal from them in their own way and time. It may not take Clarke a full month to recover...but it won't be quick, either," she added when she saw hope shine in Raven's eyes.

"It's good, in a way, that this is her first concussion," Abby continued. "Otherwise, it may have been up to a year before she was ready to do anything physical. On a good note, the CT scan didn't show anything out of the ordinary, which is a small miracle considering how hard the impact appears to have been."

"On the downside," Abby paused and took another breath before finishing her update, "Clarke hit her head in the occipital region, so she's experiencing some vision issues. That was the main reason she panicked in the scan, she opened her eyes and couldn't see anything, and it scared her. It had cleared up a bit before I left her to come down here to see you all, but her vision is still blurry, and she's very sensitive to light right now as well." Abby concluded, stuffing her hands back into the pockets of her lab coat.

Raven noticed the unshed tears shining in Abby's eyes, and stepped forward and wrapped the older woman up in a tight hug. Octavia stepped in a moment later, and Abby's arms came up around both young women automatically. The three stood there for a minute sharing comfort in the group hug, before pulling apart. Abby reached up and wiped her eyes with the tips of her fingers before looking back at the two friends.

The two women in front of her looked at each other and then said in unison, "Can we see her?"

Abby looked at them fondly. "Well, it's 1 o'clock in the morning, but I can get you in for a few minutes if she's still awake. Otherwise, you can come back tomorrow morning."

The girls nodded and looked at Monty, who just shook his head, "I'll come back tomorrow, I'm going to find Jasper and his parents and see if he's going to our place or theirs."

The three friends briefly hugged before Monty walked away to find Jasper. Monty threw a quick wave in Lincoln and Lexa's direction, but the brunette didn't see it, her vision still focused directly in front of her.

Abby looked again at Lexa and then back at the other two girls, her right eyebrow quirked in a silent question.

Octavia shrugged her shoulders and quietly said, "she's been like that since she got here."

Abby nodded her head, an idea beginning to form in her mind. She excused herself and walked over to the desk and made a quick phone call. After a few moments, she came back and told the two girls that Clarke was indeed still awake and that they had permission to see her.

"A few moments only, ladies. Please, let her know you're here, but then go home and get some sleep. She's in room 205. Also," Abby added with a stern look, "please make sure you all get home safe. I can give you money for a cab if you need it."

"It's okay," Octavia replied. "Lincoln will drive us; he only had a bit at the beginning of the night because he has an early shift this morning."

Abby nodded as Raven grabbed Octavia by the arm and said, "Thanks, Dr. G."

"Yeah, thanks," Octavia echoed before shaking loose of Raven's hand as she threw a quick look at Lincoln and asking shyly, "Do you mind waiting a few minutes?"

"Not at all," he replied. "I'll be here when you get back."

Octavia smiled back in gratitude, before looking to Lexa.

"Lex..." she started but was interrupted by Abby's hand on her shoulder.

"You two go ahead," she told Octavia firmly, indicating the direction of the elevators with her chin.

Octavia hesitated, looking again at the tense form of the brunette sitting stiffly in the chair a few feet away, then back at Abby. She nodded shortly and then walked to catch up with Raven, who was waiting at the elevator across the room.

Abby watched her daughter's best friends walk away and then turned to the young woman seated a few feet away. She approached Lexa slowly, noticing the tenseness in her shoulders and the faraway look in her eyes.

She glanced briefly to Lincoln and saw the slight warning there, as well as the subtle nod of his head as he got up slowly and moved away to give the two women some space.

Abby lowered herself silently into the seat next to Lexa and recognized the effort the woman was putting into not succumbing to a full on panic attack.

Abby didn't know Lexa well, but she did know that her daughter wanted to, so she felt she needed to do something for the obviously struggling young woman. She was a doctor, after all, so she reached out a tentative hand and placed it on Lexa's shoulder.

Lexa flinched, but Abby didn't remove her hand, instead squeezing slightly before asking quietly, "Lexa, are you all right?"

Lexa said nothing, continuing to start straight ahead, but Abby could hear and feel the shallow, short breaths coming from the girl beneath her hand. Abby took a risk and moved her hand and began rubbing soothing circles on Lexa's upper back.

"Lexa, you have to breathe honey," Abby commented softly. "Can you take a deep breath for me please?" she continued in the same soothing tone.

Lexa flicked her eyes sideways at the older woman before gathering herself and taking a deep shuddering breath and letting it out brokenly.

"That's it," Abby encouraged, "now another one."

Lexa repeated the breathing exercise a few more times eventually getting her respiration under control while Abby rubbed her back and whispered that she would be okay, that she was safe. The tenseness eased from her shoulders but did not entirely go away, however, Abby felt that she had made some progress.

Abby ceased rubbing the young woman's back and brought her hand back to her lap. Lexa had shifted her gaze to the floor; head bent so that her wavy brown locks covered the side of her face, hiding her from Abby's view.

"Thank you," Lexa murmured quietly, embarrassed to have had Clarke's mother see her in such a state.

Abby didn't say anything for a moment, before putting her hand on the girl's arm. "You don't like hospitals." It was a statement, not a question, and Abby didn't expect a response, but Lexa shook her head back and forth slowly once.

Abby suspected that Lexa had lost someone, perhaps recently, but kept the thought to herself as she sighed and squeezed Lexa's arm in silent sympathy and support.

It was evident to Abby that Lexa wouldn't be at the hospital, putting herself through the emotional torment that being there apparently caused her, if she didn't care about Clarke. She knew the girls hadn't spent much time together, but she also knew her daughter, and she knew Clarke had never had a reaction to another person like she had had to the young woman sitting next to her. So, she felt as though she needed to say something to help ease whatever it was that Lexa was currently going through, so she took a breath and squeezed Lexa's arm again.

In a quiet voice, barely above a whisper, she assured her, "Clarke is okay, Lexa. You won't lose anyone here today." Abby paused a beat as she felt the girl stiffen beside her before adding, "She'll be okay, and I'm sure she would love to know that you are here."

Her comment struck Lexa in the chest so hard that it caused her to suck in an audible breath. Lexa turned to look at the older woman and saw only compassion and understanding in her eyes. No pity, just warmth, and Lexa was overcome suddenly with emotion, tears welling up in her eyes that she refused to let fall.

When Lexa turned to look at Abby, the pain, and confusion that Abby saw in Lexa's eyes made her own heart clench in sympathy for the young woman. She could see the beginnings of tears building in her stormy green eyes. She smiled softly after a moment.

"Would you like me to take you up to see her?"

Lexa took a deep breath, still looking at Abby and nodded shortly before standing up on shaky legs. Abby stood with her, her hand on Lexa's arm to steady her. Once it appeared Lexa had her legs under her, Abby withdrew her hand and cautiously placed it around Lexa's shoulders. It took a moment, but Abby felt the young woman lean into her slightly for support as she led Lexa towards the elevator.

They rode the elevator in silence, exiting on the 2nd floor and walking down the hall towards room 205. They stopped outside the door, and Abby peeked in, then looked back at Lexa.

"It seems like Octavia and Raven listened to me for once," Abby said sardonically. "They've already left. Clarke has her eyes closed so she may be sleeping, but she may not be either. Would you like to check? If she's asleep, you can always come back tomorrow."

Lexa took a breath and looked at the closed door of Clarke's room. "How long will she have to stay here?" Lexa asked quietly.

"She'll probably get to come home at some point tomorrow. They want to keep an eye on her to make sure there isn't any delayed swelling and that her vision is getting better before they let her leave."

Lexa nodded absently before almost whispering, "I don't know if I can come back, so I'll go in now if that's okay."

Abby reached out and squeezed the younger woman's shoulder in understanding. "Of course, dear. Are you going to be ok?" Abby asked.

"Yes," Lexa softly replied. "Thank you for your help."

"Okay then, I'll leave you to it." Abby turned and took a few steps before turning back to see Lexa standing and staring at Clarke's door, hand on the doorknob.

"Lexa?" Abby called softly.

Lexa turned slightly, looking over her shoulder at Abby, hand still on the door.

Abby offered up a compassionate, sincere smile.

"It's good to see you again. I'm glad you're here for Clarke."

Without waiting for a response from the young woman, Abby turned on her heel and proceeded down the hall. Lexa's eyes had widened slightly at the unexpected comment, and she shook her head before turning back to the door.

Giving the door a small push, it opened silently into the dark, quiet room. Lexa could see Clarke lying on her side, facing away from the door and Lexa froze at the sight of the bandage wrapping around the back of Clarke's head. She stood there for several moments in silence, staring at the blonde girl, before Clarke's voice broke her from her reverie.

"Lexa," Clarke said in a raspy voice. "Are you going to stand there all night or are you going to come in?"

Lexa visibly shook herself and took another step into the room which brought her to the foot of Clarke's bed and paused. She opened her mouth as though to ask how Clarke knew it was her, but then closed it again before she took the remaining steps that took her to Clarke's side. She sat awkwardly in the chair positioned to face the bed.

Lexa looked at Clarke, letting her eyes travel over her mussed hair and bandaged head, over the planes of her face, her pink lips and the slight dimple in her chin. Her gaze roamed hungrily all over the face of the girl in front of her like she was trying to memorize every angle, every shadow, every freckle and every hair, and still she said nothing.

Clarke's eyes remained closed, and what Lexa could see of her brow under the bandage was creased in pain. Lexa's breath hitched in her throat, and she wanted nothing more than to reach out and smooth the lines in that beautiful forehead with her fingertips, but instead she sucked in a quick breath and folded her hands tightly in her lap.

"You're staring," Clarke husked, her lips twitching with a slight smile, her eyes still closed.

Lexa coughed quietly, shifting in her seat before responding. "I...I just..." Lexa cleared her throat and tried again. "Are you okay?" she asked quietly.

Clarke opened one eye and squinted at the girl in front of her, trying to bring her into focus, but the effort made her head hurt, so she shut it again before wincing in pain and annoyance.

"I feel like someone hit me in the head with a baseball bat. Not that I know what that feels like, but I imagine it would feel something like this," she said waving a hand haphazardly around her head.

"Whatever they are giving me in the way of painkillers don't seem to be working, so I have a killer headache, I can't see worth shit, school and hockey start again in two weeks, and my mom doesn't think I'll be ready for either. Oh, yeah, and my ex-boyfriend went batshit crazy." she finished bitterly.

Lexa held her breath through the small rant, anger bubbling in her chest at the mention of Finn, feeling helpless and wishing with all her heart she could do something to help. She had seen the pain in the single sky blue eye that was presented to her so briefly, and she could sense Clarke's frustration at her inability to focus.

"I wish I could help you," Lexa murmured.

Clarke snorted softly and cracked an eye at Lexa again before matter-of-factly stating as she closed it, "You're here."

Lexa's heart clenched at the statement, and she didn't know what to say to that, so the girls fell into a comfortable silence. After several minutes, Lexa was sure that Clarke must have fallen asleep, so she shifted quietly in preparation to get up and let the blonde get the rest she so obviously needed. She had barely begun to move when Clarke's soft voice broke the silence, startling Lexa once again.

"Are you leaving?" she whispered.

Lexa leaned forward in the chair and whispered back, "You need to rest."

Clarke didn't open her eyes, but reached out with her right hand, and Lexa instinctively extended her own and connected with Clarke's. Again, a spark flowed through the connection and up Lexa's arm and into her chest, making her gasp.

Clarke's lips twitched in a small, sleepy smile. "Did you feel that?" she whispered.

Lexa could only nod. When she found her voice, she breathed out a shaky, "Yes."

"I feel it every time I touch you," Clarke added softly, stroking the back of Lexa's hand with her thumb.

Lexa swallowed thickly around the lump that had formed in her throat before whispering,
"Me too."

Clarke's hand tightened slightly around Lexa's before she whispered again, "Will you stay until I fall asleep? Please?"

Lexa nodded again, but then seemed to realize Clarke couldn't see it with her eyes closed, so she squeezed her hand slightly and softly said, "Of course," then watched as the corners of Clarke's mouth turned up again briefly before she let out a deep sigh and relaxed into the bed.

It didn't take long for the hand gripped in Lexa's to loosen, and Clarke's breathing to even out and become deeper. Lexa carefully stood and untangled her fingers from Clarke's. She stood beside the slumbering woman for a moment and couldn't help herself when she reached forward and brushed a stray curl from the blonde's face and traced her fingers along the edge of her jaw to the dimple in her chin before withdrawing her hand slowly and turning towards the door.

Lexa left the room silently and went back down to the lobby where Raven, Octavia, and Lincoln were still waiting. Octavia was sleeping on Lincoln's shoulder, and Raven seemed to be asleep sitting up, her arms crossed over her chest. Lincoln looked up at her when she got closer and raised his eyebrows at her in question.

"I'm okay," Lexa murmured, "I'm sorry to make you wait."

"Don't worry about it," Lincoln responded quietly. "You weren't that long, only about 15 minutes."

Lexa was surprised it had only been that long; it felt like she had been with Clarke for much longer, and not nearly long enough. She nodded and moved over to wake Raven while Lincoln gently shook Octavia awake and they all headed out to Lincoln's truck.

Octavia shot Lexa a quick glance but decided against saying anything about the things she had noticed this evening. Instead, stifling a jaw-cracking yawn into the crook of her elbow and walking in silence with everyone else.

Raven was also uncharacteristically quiet, lost in her thoughts around the events of the night; battling her sense of guilt for not being present when Finn showed up because maybe she could have done something. She knew, intellectually, that her presence would have made little difference, but it didn't stop her from feeling guilty or wishing it had been different.

Lincoln didn't fail to notice that the moment they stepped out of the doors of the hospital and into the cold night air, how Lexa relaxed marginally and seemed to stand up a bit straighter as if a weight had lifted from her shoulders. He had nothing but admiration for the strength of his cousin; he did not begrudge her the last two years and how she chose to deal with what life had handed her. Lincoln sincerely hoped that what was beginning, the life that was coming back into Lexa's eyes would continue. He hoped that Lexa would allow it to, and he had a feeling that Clarke Griffin would play a significant role in that. He also hoped with all his heart that what had happened tonight would not cause Lexa to close off and retreat into her self-imposed emotional solitude.

Lincoln drove Octavia and Raven to their respective homes, Raven commenting that she would pick up her truck later and get all their left-behind belongings at the same time. They all said somber goodbyes, and after they had dropped Octavia off at her house, Lincoln and Lexa drove home in silence.

Lexa was deep in thought, and Lincoln knew better than to impose small talk on his cousin, letting her work out what she needed to on her own. He was aware that she would speak to him if she needed to when she was ready. So he was surprised when she suddenly blurted "I need to call Anya."

"What?" he said glancing at her quickly and then back to the road.

"I need to call Anya," Lexa repeated slowly. She was looking at her hands in her lap, fidgeting with her fingers in a small show of anxiety.

"Why now?" he asked curiously, and then added, "When was the last time you spoke to her?"

"Too much time," Lexa stated simply. "She is, was, my best friend, and I just left her behind when I came out here. I've texted her a few times, to wish her a happy birthday or happy holidays, but I haven't spoken to her in almost two years. I've been a horrible friend," she finished softly.

"Phones work both ways, Lexa," he stated softly. "She could have called you."

"She did. She called a few times in the beginning, but I shut her out, so she stopped trying."

"But now you're going to call her?"

"Yes."

With that short declaration, Lincoln knew the conversation was over, so he drove the rest of the way home in silence.

Chapter Text

 

Morning came and Lexa rolled out of bed, having not slept well at all. Her mind was a whirl of thoughts and feelings and she was having a hard time managing all of it. The need to get herself together and start looking at everything with her head and not her heart was paramount in her mind. One thing she was sure of after last night was that Clarke Griffin was an unstoppable force of nature that she had no chance of escaping unless she removed herself from her path.

She couldn't deal with the wealth of emotions assaulting her senses and she needed to shut them down. Since most of her unease could be traced back easily to the blonde currently lying in the hospital, the solution seemed simple: avoid Clarke until she had herself sorted out. Don't go to see her, and don't think about her. It was with this sense of certainty that she headed out of her room to ready herself for her day.

She had lasted about 5 minutes before her mind wandered back to Clarke and how she might be doing. Well, she thought sarcastically, this plan is going to be a howling success. She scowled and made her way into the living room, locating the home phone. She pulled out her cell and found Anya's contact information and sent her a quick text.

Lex: Anya. I would like to talk to you. Can I call you?

Lexa looked at the message and then deleted it, picking up the home phone and dialing Anya's number instead. As she brought the phone to her ear, she tried to quell the butterflies that had begun to flutter in her stomach.

The phone rang four times and Lexa was about to hang up as she didn't want to leave a message when she heard a sleepy "Hello?"

Lexa didn't say anything for several moments, struck dumb hearing the voice of her friend on the other end of the line after so much time.

"Hello?" Anya said again more forcefully, curiosity and a hint of annoyance in her voice.

"An..." Lexa started hesitantly.

"Hello!" Anya practically yelled into the phone at the same time, not hearing Lexa. "Listen, asshat, it's six o'clock in the morning, so if you have something to say you'd better say it after waking me the hell up!"

Lexa couldn't help the small smile that tugged at her lips as she listened to the familiar voice rant in her trademark snark.

"Anya. It's me." Lexa said when the other girl had finished.

"What...who?" Anya puzzled, apparently not fully awake.

"It's me An. It's Lexa."

Silence greeted this announcement for several long moments before Anya breathed out "Well, holy shit."

Another long pause and Lexa let the silence hang, waiting for something, anything from Anya.

Finally. "To what do I owe the honor?" she said sarcastically, but Lexa could hear the hurt in Anya's voice, and she didn't blame her.

"I'm sorry," Lexa said, then paused before stating again, "I'm so very sorry, Anya."

Lexa could hear the other woman sigh into the phone before she responded quietly, all trace of hurt and anger now missing from her voice. "I know. Are you ok?"

"Yes...no...I don't know." Lexa sighed out just as quietly. "I'm sorry it's taken me so long, Anya. You didn't deserve me shutting you out; you didn't deserve any of this."

"Neither did you, kid," Anya murmured. After another short period of silence, Anya asked, "Why now?"

Lexa didn't pretend not to know what she meant, and merely said, "I miss you."

Anya snorted humorously, "It took you almost two years to realize you miss me?"

"No. I've always missed you," Lexa offered honestly, "I just wasn't ready to deal with everything that came along with having you in my life. There were too many memories associated with you that I couldn't handle."

"Yeah," Anya sighed, "I know, and I totally understand Lex, but it still hurt."

"I'm sorry Anya, really I am. I don't know what else to say," Lexa said. "I just couldn't. Before." Lexa finished.

"You said there were too many memories. You think you can handle them now?" Anya asked carefully.

Lexa sighed, "I don't know An, but what I do know is that I want my friend back...if you'll have me," she trailed off, hope evident in her voice.

"Oh Lexa," Anya softly said, "you know I'll always be here for you. I understand why you felt you had to shut me out, even if I didn't like or agree with it. I love you, kid. You're the little sister I never had; I would do anything for you."

Lexa's chest swelled with affection as she listened to her friend and tears filled her eyes.

"Thank you, Anya," Lexa whispered, wiping her face as a single tear managed to break free.

"So," Anya said with certainty, "something has happened. I can't believe that just out of the blue you decided you needed me. That's not how you work; something happened that drove you to call, so spill it."

Lexa sighed, feeling slightly guilty that she couldn't refute Anya's statement.

"I...I met someone, An," Lexa practically whispered.

"You met someone? I'm sure you've met a lot of people in the last two years, Lexa, would you care to be more specific?" Anya drawled.

Lexa scowled, almost regretting her decision. "Don't be obtuse. You know what I mean."

Anya chuckled humorously and said, "So, you met someone. And?"

"I met someone, and now I'm a mess. Not that I wasn't a mess before, but now I'm even more of a mess." Lexa admitted.

"Who is she and why does she make you a mess?" Anya asked.

"Her name is Clarke, and she's like no one I've ever met before." Lexa paused and then plowed on, exposing her thoughts to her friend in hopes of some understanding or clarity from the verbalization of the things that had been rolling around in her mind for the last week. And especially in the last twelve hours.

"I'm just so drawn to her. It's like she's a black hole - the pull of a gravitational force that I can't escape, whenever I get close to her. I can't control how I feel and can barely control how I act." Lexa thought about mentioning the tingling and the current that flashed through her body when she and Clarke touched, but decided to keep that to herself for now.

Instead, she said quietly, "It terrifies me, and I don't know what to do."

After several long moments of silence, Anya finally responded. "Wow. I don't think I've ever heard you talk about someone like that. Ever."

Lexa heard the unspoken comment buried in her friend's assessment and guilt rose in her gut.

"I know," Lexa replied shamefully, "I haven't. I don't know what to do, An. I feel guilty because it wasn't like this, before. Never has it been like this. It already feels like it could be so much more and I've only known her for a week. God, a week and it seems like forever - it's crazy! I don't know how I should feel or how I can feel, especially after last night."

"What? Why what happened last night?"

"I went to a party and," Lexa started before she was abruptly cut off by her astounded friend.

"YOU went to a party?" Anya asked incredulously. "You hate parties! I had to drag you kicking and screaming to every party I ever wanted to go to. And then you'd refuse to enjoy yourself."

Lexa sighed before answering. "I didn't want to go to this one either - not really, but Clarke asked me if I wanted to go and I said yes before I even realized what I was doing."

"Huh." Anya huffed out, "I need to meet this mystery girl that can get you to attend a party just by asking. I'm assuming you at least knew people going to this party?"

"Uh, no," Lexa murmured. "Just Clarke and a couple of her friends from her hockey team."

"Oh my God Lexa, she plays hockey?" Anya shouted, ignoring the fact that not only did her introverted friend attend a party voluntarily, but a party where she knew next to no one. "Have you seen her play? Is she any good?"

"I met her when my team played hers last week, so yes, I've seen her play and yes, she is excellent," Lexa responded.

"What!? Holy crap Lex, you just keep dropping the bombs on me - you're playing hockey again?" Anya asked, clearly astounded.

"Yes, Anya," Lexa said patiently, "I'm playing hockey again; I started this fall on Gustus' team."

"Crap. Sorry, but I'm so glad you decided to play again. How's your team doing?"

"Very well, second only to Clarke's team. Now, can you focus, please?"

"Right, right. Sorry. Wow, okay. Sorry. Okay." Anya babbled. "What's your point total for the year?"

"Anya!" Lexa practically shouted into the phone.

Anya stopped and took a few seconds to collect herself, and set her mind to the things Lexa had been talking about before the party and hockey revelations. Her mind still reeling from the tremendous amount of information she had already learned about her estranged friend, she took a deep breath and calmly said "Okay. You went to a party, and now you're terrified. Why?"

"I was, surprisingly, having a fantastic time," Lexa started, "but then Clarke's boyfriend..."

"What!?" Anya screamed, interrupting Lexa again. "She has a boyfriend? What the hell, Lex?"

"Sorry. I meant ex-boyfriend." Lexa added sheepishly.

"Oh, okay. So she's bi, then?" Anya asked.

"I honestly don't know," Lexa replied. "We only just met and yesterday was the longest we had spent together, and the topic didn't exactly come up. Just before the night went to shit, though, I thought she might kiss me."

Anya let out a low whistle before letting out a series of rapid fire questions. "Wow, okay. How was that? Would you have let her kiss you? How were you feeling? Did you want to kiss her?"

Lexa barked out a humorous laugh. "Well, that's the million-dollar question isn't it?"

"Which one?"

"All of them, I guess," Lexa responded.

"Well," Anya prodded, "can you answer any of them?"

"I was terrified, excited and nervous all at the same time," Lexa said. "It was as if my body took over and I had no control over what I was going to do or say to her. I just reacted - and I was responding to Clarke on a level I've never experienced before."

"Wow, okay, but I'm confused," Anya admitted. "Why didn't you kiss if all that was happening?"

"I did mention her ex-boyfriend and the night going to shit, remember?" Lexa responded dryly.

"Oh yes. So much information - sorry. Continue, I'll do my best not to interrupt again," Anya promised.

Lexa sighed, not believing it for a moment. "So, Clarke and I had been talking, and the next thing I knew we were only inches apart, and my hand was on her thigh, and our eyes were locked. I saw her glance at my lips, and I know I looked at hers more than once, and I swear she started to lean in, Anya, and then," Lexa paused.

"What? And then what Lexa?" Anya yelled.

"And then Clarke's friend Octavia practically landed on top of us, hollering that Finn was at the party and that he was drunk, and that he was looking for Clarke. I had no idea who Finn was at that point, but I could tell that it distressed Clarke greatly that he was there. The next thing I knew Clarke was gone, and I was following Octavia towards the kitchen. When we got there, we were just in time to see this Finn jerk advancing on Clarke, who tripped when she tried to back away from him. She fell and hit her head on a stool on the way down and was knocked unconscious. Lincoln and I started towards the asshole when he grabbed a knife and within a few seconds, he had managed to slice into another of Clarke's friends and escape through the patio door in the kitchen." Lexa rushed out and then paused to catch her breath before continuing.

"When I looked back at Clarke, all I saw was the blood Anya," Lexa's voice was soft as she tried to control the shaking that she could feel starting, and the tightness in her throat. "Her head was bleeding, she still hadn't woken up, and she was just lying there. I didn't know what to do, and I was terrified," Lexa finished shakily.

"Oh, Lexa," Anya said with sympathy.

"The police and the paramedics came and took her to the hospital. I had to give a statement because of my 'involvement' when Finn cut Jasper. Octavia asked me if I was going to the hospital and I almost had a heart-attack. On one hand I needed to make sure that Clarke was okay and on the other..." she trailed off quietly.

"I know Lex; I'm so sorry you had to go through that," Anya whispered into the phone.

Lexa took a steadying breath and went on, "I decided to go. Lincoln drove us but when it came time to go in; I couldn't. I just stood outside and told Octavia to go in without me. Lincoln came and talked me through it, and I eventually went in, but was on the verge of a panic attack the whole time. Clarke's mom is a doctor, and she came to tell us about Clarke, but seriously, Anya, I thought my head was going to explode while I sat there and waited. I honestly don't know how I managed to keep it together."

"But you did," Anya succinctly stated, "and that is something in and of itself if you ask me."

"Yes, it was a close thing, though," Lexa quietly replied. "When Dr. Griffin came to explain what was going on with Clarke, I was so close to the edge that I could barely register what she was saying. If it wasn't for Lincoln's hand on my shoulder, keeping me grounded, I might have flown apart right there in front of everyone."

"I wish I could have been there for you," Anya softly said.

"I know," Lexa replied, pausing for a moment before continuing with her narrative. "Then the most incredible, or weirdest, thing happened. Dr. Griffin sent Clarke's friends up to see her and then came and sat with me. It was like she knew what was going on in my head and she could sense how on edge I was. She talked me through the imminent panic attack I was about to have and I managed to calm down enough to stand and function again."

Lexa paused briefly before taking a deep breath and continuing. "She knew I had lost someone, knew I was having a hard time in the hospital, and she made me feel like it was okay to feel that way. She reassured me that Clarke was going to be okay like she knew that the fear of loss was what was paralyzing me, and she made sure to lift that burden. It was so refreshing, Anya, to know that someone could look at me in that situation and show compassion, sympathy, so much care, but no pity. In Seattle, it always felt like I was drowning in pity," Lexa finished hesitantly.

Anya's breath hitched as she said, "I didn't know, I'm so sorry, Lexa."

"It's not your fault, Anya. None of it was ever your fault. I let you become the collateral damage to my emotional state, and I will forever regret that" Lexa admitted.

"I understand, Lex, I do. I'm just glad we're talking now" Anya said before adding, "Did you go up and see Clarke?"

"Yes," Lexa replied, nodding to herself. "Dr. Griffin took me up, and I went in and spent about 15 minutes with her before she fell asleep. It wasn't easy, Anya. I was tense and still pretty on edge, but I'm glad I went and saw for myself that she was all right."

"Are you going to go back today?" Anya inquired.

"No, I don't think so." Lexa slowly said. "I made it through once, I'm not sure I could do it again so quickly, and Dr. Griffin said Clarke would most likely go home today." Lexa paused, her stomach clenching at the thought of Clarke lying in the hospital bed in obvious pain.

"I don't know what to do, Anya. I can't stop thinking about her, but I feel weak and helpless at the same time. She could have been hurt so badly last night; the whole situation could have been so much worse, and I can't stop thinking about all the 'what if's.' I'm confused and worried, but above all, I'm terrified. Scared that if I let myself care for her and I lose her...I don't think I could survive that a second time, Anya." Lexa's voice finally broke, and she sniffed quietly, wiping her nose on the back of her hand.

"Oh Lex," Anya commented softly.

Silence fell between the two, but it was a comfortable one, both taking comfort in the steady breathing of the other for several moments until Anya finally took a deep breath and announced, "I'm coming to visit you."

"What?" Lexa exclaimed. "Anya, you don't have to do that. I mean, of course, I would love to see you, but you don't have to come all the way across the country."

"Lexa. I haven't seen you in over two years, and I haven't spoken to you in almost as long. I have some vacation time saved up from work, and they've been bugging me to use it up, so this seems like a perfect opportunity to do so. That is, of course, assuming you want me to come?" she asked hesitantly.

"Oh my God, Anya, yes! Yes! I would love for you to come. When? Can you come for Christmas? Lincoln and Gustus would love to have you here I'm sure; there's lots of room," Lexa gushed, excitement evident in her voice.

Anya laughed. "Settle down, kid. Let me make some calls and check into some things and I'll let you know okay? You check and make sure it's ok that I stay with you at Gustus' and we'll go from there."

"Ok. Ok, I'll ask Gustus as soon as he gets up. Oh, sorry for calling so early by the way. I just needed," Lexa sheepishly started before Anya cut her off.

"Don't ever be sorry that you need to talk to me Lexa - no matter what time it is, okay?"

"Okay," Lexa affectionately replied. "I'll let you go so you can organize your trip. Text me when you know what's up and I'll let you know what Gustus says ASAP."

The women hung up, Lexa feeling lighter than she had in years. Calling Anya had been a great decision, and she regretted not doing it sooner. However, if Lexa was honest with herself, sooner wasn't an option, and if Clarke Griffin hadn't infiltrated her life, it might not have happened now. So, even if nothing else occurred between Clarke and herself, she would always be grateful to the blonde woman for being responsible for setting her back on the path to her best friend.


Lex: I talked to Gustus, and he said to tell you that you are most welcome to come and stay for as long as you like. Lincoln is also excited to see you.

Lex: I think Linc is still in shock that I called you

Lex: and that you don't totally hate me ;)

Anya: I got the time off from work. I can come over Christmas. I just need to know when you want me to come and how long I should stay.

Lex: Come now! As soon as you can - please, and stay as long as you can too.

Anya: Haha. Ok, give me a minute.

Lexa checked her phone regularly for the next 15 minutes until Anya's next text came through.

Anya: I got a flight for tomorrow. I arrive at 3:00 pm. I hope that's all right; it was the only option in the next couple of days that didn't get me in at an ungodly hour.

Anya: I have three weeks' time available, so I decided to use all of it, but I can change the ticket if it's too much.

Lex: I'm going to see you tomorrow! I will be there to pick you up, and of course, you can stay for the whole three weeks, don't be silly.

Anya: Ok, then. I'm going to pack and get ready to come and see my best friend. I'm excited to see you again too. See you tomorrow. xo

Lex: Am I still your best friend?

Lexa waited with bated breath for her friend's response.

Anya: You are. Still, and for always. No matter what. See you tomorrow. xo

Lexa let out a stuttering sigh as she sent a final text back to Anya.

Lex: You are still my best friend too, An. I'll see you tomorrow. xo

Lexa put her phone away, let Lincoln and Gustus know that Anya would be joining them tomorrow and staying until after the New Year. Then she went and prepared the guest room and helped Gustus clean the house, so everything was ready for their guest's arrival.

Lexa realized, well into the evening that she hadn't found out if Clarke had been released from the hospital. She felt slightly guilty about not taking the time to see if Clarke was at home. However, at the same time, she couldn't deny the slight relief she felt in having her mind so preoccupied with Anya's arrival for the past several hours that she hadn't been mired in confusion when she thought about the blonde.

Lexa pushed aside her unease and pulled out her phone and sent Clarke a text.

Lexa: Hello, Clarke. I hope you are doing okay and that you are resting comfortably at home by now.

Clarke: Hi Lexa. It's Abby, Clarke's mom. Clarke is at home but is resting. I will be handling her correspondence for the time being. I will certainly let her know that you messaged. Thank you for being in touch.

Lexa looked at the message on her screen and felt her chest tighten again, and a small flare of anger rise at the whole situation. Her heart ached for Clarke as she thought about all she was going through right now, and Lexa desperately wished that she could do something to help. Obviously, she could do nothing, not while Clarke was incommunicado at any rate. Lexa sighed and put away her phone and once again she found herself waiting.

Chapter Text

 

Day 1 - Clarke

Clarke was released from the hospital late the next day, with strict instructions to take it easy. No screen time, no reading, the list went on and on. Clarke inwardly cringed as she listened to Dr. Jaha lay out the rules of her recovery, and then after only a brief show of reluctance, she let her mother push her out to the waiting vehicle in the wheelchair.

 

"I can walk to the car, Mom," Clarke said, crossing her arms over her chest, leaning back in the hospital bed and closing her eyes.

 

Abby tried not to roll her eyes at her daughter's stubbornness. They had already had this argument, and she was unsurprised that now that it was time to leave, that Clarke wanted to fight her on it again.

 

"You will get in this chair, young lady. You can barely tolerate the light in here, and it makes no sense for you to squint your way to the car. Let me do this for you, Clarke. Please," Abby pleaded, looking at Clarke.

 

Clarke frowned and cracked at eye at Abby, seeing the worry and the love clearly in her mother's face. She sighed resignedly. "Fine."

 

Clarke crawled out the bed and dressed slowly as her mother went and made the arrangements for Clarke's discharge from the hospital. She had seated herself in the offensive chair with her eyes closed and a scowl on her face by the time Abby returned.

Thankfully, Abby didn't say anything, just walked up behind Clarke and passed her a pair of sunglasses over her shoulder before pushing her out the door and down the hallway.

The trip home was a quiet one, Clarke wincing slightly every time the car traveled over larger bumps or potholes in the road. After Abby had pulled into the driveway, she got out and walked around the car to help Clarke out. Clarke was already in the process of climbing out of the car when she felt her mother's hand on her elbow, helping her up. Clarke shot a glare at her but immediately closed her eyes as the sunlight hit. She briefly thought about shaking out of the grip, but then thought better of it as she felt her legs shake as she tried to stand up.

 

As they approached the front door, it suddenly opened, and Jake stood there looking out at them. Clarke looked up at the sound of the door opening and tears welled up in her eyes when she saw her father looking at her with a mixture of concern and anger, but most of all – love.

 

"Dad," Clarke whispered as she met him at the door. Jake said nothing, just swallowed hard and wrapped Clarke up in a tight hug.

 

"When did you get home?" Clarke said into his chest.

 

"I caught the first flight out that I could after mom called and told me what happened," Jake said into the top of Clarke's head, still holding her tightly. "I got home about an hour ago," Jake paused and kissed the top of Clarke's head. "I'm so sorry I wasn't here, Clarke. I'm sorry...I'm gone so much."

 

"It's okay, Dad. I'm glad you're here now," Clarke whispered, tears squeezing out of her tightly shut eyes.

 

Jake placed another kiss on the top of her head and then led her inside the house and up to her room. Abby followed along behind and helped get Clarke situated in her room.

 

"Where's your phone, Clarke?" Abby asked.

 

"My phone?" Clarke repeated. "In my coat pocket, I think. Why?"

 

"Dr. Jaha said no screen time. That means phones, too," Abby said as she fished the phone out of the pocket of Clarke's coat. "I'm sure your friends will be wondering how you are, so I'll handle any messages or calls you get for the first little bit." Abby saw Clarke about to protest, so she raised her hand to stop her.

 

"No arguments, Clarke," Abby said firmly. "I'll let them know you're home, how you are doing, and when they can come visit. You need to rest."

 

Clarke glared at her and then looked to her father for help. He just smiled at her and shrugged his shoulders in sympathy. "You're not going to win this one, kiddo," he said.

 

Clarke sighed and rubbed her temples, laying back in her bed. "This is going to be a very long week, isn't it?" she said wearily.

 

Jake just squeezed her shoulder, and her mom came and placed a kiss on her forehead. "Get some rest, Clarke. If you feel up to it later, you can come down for something to eat. If not, I'll bring you something up in a bit."

 

Clarke just nodded, closing her eyes and laying back on her bed. Abby noticed Clarke's furrowed brow and produced some pain meds and a glass of water in mere moments. Clarke downed them with a quiet word of thanks before her parents left her in the semi-darkness of her room.

 

Her mind was a jumble of half-remembered thoughts and memories of the night before. She didn't remember going to the hospital at all, which wasn't surprising considering she had been semi-conscious for most of it. She remembered being taken to her room and the nurse giving her something for the pain and to help her sleep, and she vaguely remembered speaking to Raven and Octavia for a few minutes before they left, muttering something about staying on Dr. G's good side.

What happened after that was a mess of memory, thoughts and feelings. She remembered thinking about Finn; she hadn't known what he had done to Jasper at that point. Her mom told her about that detail the next day, and she felt her guilt over the whole incident grow as her mom filled in the particulars. She remembered thinking about Lexa, and feeling guilty about involving her in the night's drama, but nothing clear or coherent after that.

Had Lexa been there? Clarke felt as though she had been, but perhaps it was just her drug-affected mind projecting her feelings and mixing it up with actual memories. Because why would Lexa have come to the hospital? She hardly knew Clarke.

Clarke sighed again, throwing her arm across her eyes to help block out the little bit of afternoon light that was leaking through her closed blinds. She decided she would try to sort it out later. She had plenty of time to do nothing but think, after all. She was tired, and her head hurt; it was going to be a VERY long week.

As the drugs kicked in further, Clarke fell into a deep but restless sleep.


Day 2 - Lexa

The day of Anya's arrival, Lexa woke early and spent the majority of the day pacing in her room. Lincoln was gone to work, as was Gustus, so Lexa was home alone fretting. Fretting about her reunion with Anya.

She was worried. Even though the phone call had been more than Lexa could have ever hoped for, and that Anya was about to fly across the country to support and help her, Lexa couldn't help but worry about that first face-to-face meeting. She didn't want it to be awkward, but she didn't know how it couldn't be.

An hour into her pacing, a text came through:

Anya: God, I must love you to be on a plane this early, see you in 5 hours.

Lex: Have a safe trip, I'll be waiting for you in arrivals.

Lex: I love you too ;)

 

Lexa's nerves shot up a notch, knowing that her friend was now only hours away. She tidied her room for what felt like the 100th time, grabbed the keys to Lincoln's truck, which he had graciously offered to loan her to pick Anya up, and headed to the grocery store to stock up on supplies, making sure to grab some of Anya's favorite snacks.

A couple of hours later, the groceries were sorted, and Lexa had completed what she could for dinner prep, just to keep herself busy. She flopped herself down on the couch, and opened an old copy of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, and stared at the pages blankly.

She couldn't focus. Her mind continued to wander back to Clarke; wondering about how she was, how she might be feeling. She wanted to speak to her, to hear for herself that she was indeed okay. She understood why Dr. Griffin was restricting Clarke's contact, but it frustrated her and fed her feeling of helplessness. Again, all she could do was wait; wait for Clarke to communicate with her, wait to hear she was all right.

God, she hated waiting; having no power to do anything but wait grated on her like nothing else. On the flip side, she knew that emotionally, she needed this distance from Clarke. She needed to sort herself out and figure out what to do with the feelings and need that surged forward and demanded attention every time she was near the young woman. Regardless of that awareness and with the understanding that she probably wouldn't see anything from Clarke, she couldn't stop herself from checking every so often.

Lexa felt herself drifting off, so she quickly set her phone alarm to wake her just in case she fell asleep. Sure enough, her head began to bob on her shoulders only minutes later, the stress of the last few days finally catching up with her and her body slumped into the couch cushions as sleep claimed her.

 

Roughly two hours later, Lexa was jolted awake by the alarm on her phone blaring next to her ear, where it had settled when she had readjusted herself on the couch while she slept. She quickly silenced it and sat up rubbing at her eyes and face, trying to wake up. The butterflies in her belly showed up in full force as she finally woke up enough to remember why she had set the alarm in the first place. Lexa quickly got up and went to the bathroom, she splashed cold water on her face and looked at herself in the mirror.

 

"Get it together, Woods," she said to her reflection. She finished up in the bathroom, gathered her coat, scarf, and gloves and headed out to the truck to go pick up her best friend.

 

The drive to the airport was uneventful, and Lexa was fortunate to find parking close to the arrival gate. She went in, found the proper screen and noticed that she couldn't have timed her arrival any better, Anya's plane having just landed. Lexa made her way to the arrivals area, found a seat and watched the door for her friend.

 

Anya strolled through the door about 15 minutes later, bag in tow. She looked the same as Lexa remembered, long blond hair pulled back in a ponytail, sharp cheekbones, and dark, almond eyes. She was beautiful, and Lexa's breath hitched in her chest and tears came to her eyes as she watched Anya approach, the other woman searching the waiting area, looking for Lexa.

Lexa finally stepped out from behind a small group of people and Anya's eyes found hers immediately. Both women had frozen for a heartbeat before Anya started moving purposefully toward Lexa, trying not to run people over in her haste to reach her friend. Lexa took a few hesitant steps forward as well, and both stopped and stared at each other with a few feet remaining between them. Lexa was uncertain what to do and decided to leave the first move up to Anya, who was drinking in the sight of her, eye's flicking over Lexa's face. A slow smile spread across the blonde woman's stern features as she watched Lexa fidget uncertainly, before she dropped the handle of her luggage, stepped into Lexa's space and wrapped her up in a bone crushing hug.

Lexa's arms came up automatically and wrapped around Anya's waist, as she buried her face in her best friend's neck. They stood there in silence for several minutes as other passengers flowed around them, squeezing each other tightly. Finally, Anya pulled back to look at Lexa who quickly wiped her eyes with her fingertips before meeting Anya's own. Love and compassion radiated from Anya's gaze, and Lexa had to choke back a sob before wrapping her friend up again in her arms, tears escaping from full eyes to run freely down her face.

 

"I'm so sorry An," Lexa whispered brokenly. "I've missed you so much; I didn't realize how much until this very moment."

 

"Shhhh, it's okay Lex," Anya whispered back, softly stroking the brunette's hair. "Were here now, together, and nothing is going to tear us apart again, ok?"

 

Lexa could only nod against her friend's neck, not trusting herself to speak.

Finally, Lexa released her hold and stepped back, wiping her eyes and nose with a tissue that Anya had magically produced. Once she had finished collecting herself, she looked up at Anya and said with absolute sincerity, "Thank you for coming."

 

"Always," Anya stated. "No matter what. I will always be here for you. I have always been here for you."

 

Lexa nodded, meeting Anya eyes again, and sighed out, "I know."

 

They stepped away from each other, Anya reaching down to grab her bag and Lexa reaching for Anya's free hand as she led her out of the arrivals area to the parking lot. They stepped outside and a blast of icy wind hit them full force in the face, ruffling their hair and making their eyes water.

 

"Holy shit, it's cold here!" Anya exclaimed.

 

Lexa laughed, "It is certainly a different type of cold from the West Coast, but you get used to it."

 

Anya dropped Lexa's hand to zip up her coat and pull a scarf out of her bag. Once she had it firmly wrapped around her neck, she indicated for Lexa to lead on and followed her to Lincoln's pick up.

 

"Nice ride," Anya commented.

 

"It's Lincoln's. I don't drive much and haven't bothered looking for a vehicle of my own," Lexa replied.

 

"Hmmm," Anya mused. "I'm starving. Can we get some lunch?"

 

"It's 3 o'clock here remember, if you eat too much, you'll throw off dinner and have a harder time adjusting to the time change," Lexa warned.

 

"I know, smartass. But my body says it's lunchtime, and the food on the plane was god awful - I can't believe I paid for that crap! I won't eat much; I just need something to tide me over until dinner."

 

"All right. Do you want to stop somewhere, or just eat when we get home?" Lexa asked.

 

"I guess I can wait," Anya shrugged as she gazed out the window at her first look of the surrounding DC area. "So, what's the plan?" she asked Lexa, turning slightly in her seat to face her friend.

 

"Nothing firm," Lexa replied. "We can talk about options when we get back. I can show you some things, some tourist spots, and stuff, and we can make a plan from there. How does that sound?"

 

"Sounds good. You know..." Anya hesitated.

 

"What?" Lexa glanced briefly at her then back at the road.

 

"Well, you don't have to cater to me on this trip, you know? I'm here for you. You don't have to entertain me the whole time I'm here. When I asked about the plan, I didn't mean 'what are we going to be doing for the next three weeks,'" Anya commented.

 

"I think I knew that," Lexa softly responded. "I just...I guess I'm..."

 

"Hey. It's ok. We don't have to force anything. You're still my best friend. We may not have called on that for a couple of years, but it doesn't make it less real. There have been countless times, that I have wanted to share something with you, or just tell you about the latest gossip at work. Times when I have needed my best friend and wished with everything that I am that I still had you in my life. No one else has been able to fill that void for me."

 

Lexa could feel her eyes beginning to well up as she listened to her friend and quickly blinked back the tears threatening to fall before whispering, "I'm so sorry, Anya."

 

"I know you are. I'm not looking for more apologies," Anya softly said, reaching out and putting her hand on Lexa's arm. "I'm just trying to say that you have always been my best friend, you still are, even if it's hard right now. I understand why you felt you had to do what you did, pushing me away. But, we're here now, and I hope, no, I know, we'll get back to that place of comfort for each other. It will come because the reasons we were best friends are still there. None of that has changed." Anya gave Lexa's arm a squeeze and then removed her hand back into her lap.

 

Lexa nodded and glanced at Anya, giving her a shaky smile. They spent the rest of the trip in a comfortable, companionable silence until they pulled up to Gustus' house 25 minutes later.

 

"We're here," Lexa announced as she pulled in and parked the truck.

 

"I figured," Anya replied sarcastically, unbuckling and jumping out of the truck.

 

Lexa chuckled and then grabbed Anya's bag out of the back and led her into the house. Lincoln was home when they entered, and he immediately walked over and wrapped Anya up in a huge hug.

 

"Welcome to DC, Anya," he said warmly. "It's great to see you again. I'm glad you're here," he said pointedly, flicking his eyes towards Lexa's back as she carried Anya's bag to the guest room.

 

Anya didn't miss the motion and nodded her head. "Me too." She paused for a moment and then whispered to Lincoln as Lexa disappeared around the corner, "How is she? Really?"

 

"A week ago I would have said she was doing better than I have seen her in over two years. Now, though, after what happened the other night, I just don't know," he whispered back. "She's conflicted, no doubt. I can tell she's scared, but she obviously feels something for Clarke - did she tell you about Clarke?"

At Anya's nod, Lincoln continued, "Lexa went into a hospital, voluntarily, so there's no doubt in my mind that there are feelings there. Not even her teammate's broken leg early in the season could get her in. So this was a big deal, and she knows it. That's part of what has her so scared, I think."

 

Lexa saw her cousin and her best friend whispering with their heads close together as she came around the corner. They saw her at the same time and jumped away guiltily, refusing to meet her eye.

 

"Wonderful," Lexa drawled. "You're ganging up on me already? Is this what I have to look forward to for the next three weeks - the two of you comparing notes and keeping tabs on me?" Lexa projected a stern face and voice to the two, but inside she felt a swell of affection for both Lincoln and Anya, for their obvious care and concern for her.

 

"I..."

 

"We just..."

 

Lincoln and Anya spoke at the same time and then stopped and looked at each other. They then turned to regard a scowling Lexa, and both broke into sheepish grins and shrugged their shoulders.

 

"We care about you, Lex," Lincoln offered shyly.

 

"Yeah, and we will compare notes and talk about you until the cows come home if it will ultimately help you," Anya added with a smirk.

 

Lexa stood and stared at the other two with her mouth partly agape before abruptly shutting it and swallowing around the lump that had formed in her throat. She closed the short distance between them in several quick strides and wrapped them both up in what quickly became a group hug.

 

"Thank you," Lexa whispered, "both of you, so much."

 

Anya rubbed her back and Lincoln gave her tight squeeze, and they stayed like that for several moments, not releasing until Gustus breezed through the front door and exclaimed "OH! A group hug, where's mine?" At which point all three started laughing and moved over to include Gustus, who squeezed everyone enthusiastically and welcomed Anya to his home like a long-lost child.


Week 1 – Lexa

The first week of Anya's visit went by in a blur.

 

Lexa didn't talk about Clarke, but that didn't mean she wasn't thinking about her constantly. Thankfully, Anya didn't push, giving Lexa the time she needed to try to organize her thoughts and feelings in a way that made sense. Not only to her but in a way that she could explain them to her friend. There was a consistent underlying feeling of unease, like an itch under her skin that she couldn't scratch regarding her inability to contact Clarke. However, there was nothing to be done about it. The choice of whether to contact Clarke or not was taken out of her hands and as a result Lexa was trying to accept it, relax and focus on reconnecting with her best friend. And if Anya noticed that sometimes Lexa's attention wandered or that she had a furrowed brow, or pursed lips that escaped her control on occasion, she said nothing.

 

They spent the first couple of days close to home while Anya acclimatized and they talked about their lives and what was currently happening regarding work for Anya, and the start of school again for Lexa. Anya was immensely proud of Lexa for deciding to go back to school, and they spent a day looking around the GW campus. Lexa located the buildings in which her classes would take place, they ate lunch at the campus pub and wandered around taking in the sights and enjoying each other's' company.

 

Another day they coaxed Gustus into spending a day at The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink. They decided to eat lunch at the Pavilion Cafe after viewing the gallery and before they went skating, ordering gourmet pizzas and hot chocolate.

 

Lexa had forgotten what an awful skater Anya was, so between her and Gustus, they arranged an impromptu skating lesson which attracted the attention of other visitors who asked if they could join in. Anya whole-heartedly agreed to this as it meant she wasn't the sole focus of attention anymore and was not alone in her embarrassment when she bailed and inevitably flailed around on the ice trying to get up before having to be rescued by a laughing Lexa. Anya thought she might fall more often if it meant hearing her best friend laugh again.

 

It was also one of the happier days Lexa could remember having, the only thing that may have made it better, was if another blonde had been there to share in the merriment as well.

 

They spent another day sightseeing and visited the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and, even though it was a bit chilly, it was bright and sunny, so they ate lunch on the National Mall. They toured the White House and did all the things tourists do when they visit DC. Anya bought a cheesy 'I heart DC' t-shirt, fridge magnets, and a bumper sticker. Lexa laughed at her every time, and felt as though she could finally see the metaphorical light in the darkness and was slowly making her way toward it.


Week 1 – Clarke

It had been a week since Clarke found herself in the hospital with a severe concussion and five staples in the back of her head. A week of pain, confusion, frustration, and annoyance.

 

She had been allowed to go home late the day after the incident but had spent most of the first week in bed with a splitting headache, doped up on painkillers. She slept a lot and was completely out of touch with what was going on in the outside world - and she genuinely didn't care.

 

Over the course of the first week, Raven, Octavia, Bellamy, Monty and even Jasper had been in contact multiple times to see how she was. She had also received many get-well cards from her teammates, and the concern expressed by her friend's touched her, she just felt confined and bored - so very bored. Her parents had handled her correspondence for the first week, letting her friends know how it was going but asked them to stay away and let her heal a bit before visiting. At first, Clarke was resentful, but after attempting to get out of bed around day 3, she quickly realized she did not have the energy for visitors, it was almost impossible to keep her eyes open due to the pain that shot through her occipital orbits every time she opened them. So she stopped complaining and let her parents care for her.

 

She was pleased when her mom told her that Lexa had sent a message. She felt a bit giddy with the knowledge that Lexa cared enough to check in and see how she was doing but frustrated that she couldn't contact Lexa and speak to her. She tried to convince her mom to let her have her phone (just for phone calls, she argued), but Abby was adamant that Clarke avoided doing anything at all the first week. She convinced Clarke of the merit of it all, by explaining that the less she did early in her recovery, the faster she would ultimately recover. So Clarke capitulated again, grumbling the whole time about how stubborn her mother was, completely missing the ironic gaze her mother gave her in return.

 

Clarke had spent an inordinate amount of time during the week thinking about the party, and everything that had happened between her and Lexa that night. Things had been going well, Clarke thought. Really well. They were speaking like old friends, comfortable with each other – their interactions seemed effortless.

 

When Lexa put her hand on Clarke's thigh and huskily whispered that she thought Clarke was strong, Clarke could think of nothing else but kissing the beautiful woman in front of her. She was acutely aware of the heat gathering in her belly when Lexa said her name and the fire under her skin where Lexa was touching her.

 

And then, Clarke sighed, then there was Octavia and Finn. Clarke shook her head, struggling with the memories, or lack thereof, from the rest of the night. She replayed what she remembered over and over again, riding an emotional roller-coaster through each twisting turn the memories took her. Then she would do it again. Clarke was fairly sure if she didn't talk to someone other than her parents soon, she would go certifiably insane.

 

Near the end of week one, Clarke finally accepted that she couldn't do much of anything. Too much light hurt her eyes and brought on migraines she was sure were going to kill her. TV was out of the question because the concentration it took to keep her eyes focused and the resulting headache that followed just wasn't worth it; she couldn't read for the same reason.

 

The start of week two wasn't much better, not to mention that it was the worst possible Christmas she had ever had. She got up in the morning, staggered downstairs and attempted to be cheerful and opened presents with her family, but had to excuse herself back to her room after only an hour. The holiday was quiet and low-key, and Clarke barely made it through dinner. To say that Clarke Griffin was in an incredibly horrible mood would be an understatement of massive proportions, but, she thought she finally might be starting to feel better.

 

If there was one silver lining in all of this, she had rediscovered, late in the first week, her love of playing guitar. It was, practically, the only activity she could do without having to focus too much; she could play in the dark, and with her eyes closed if she needed to. She let her fingers wander over the strings, and re-familiarized herself with the instrument. She found she remembered a lot, and even though her fingers got sore, she knew that the calluses on the pads of her fingers would come back quickly. She strummed the strings softly, and found that the melodies gave her some peace, helped calm and sooth her troubled mind and allowed her to slow her wildly tumbling thoughts and just get lost in the notes and rhythm of the songs she was playing. She enjoyed how the soft, honey-gold wood of her guitar felt under her hands, and she found herself picking it up more and more as the days wore on. It gave her peace; it also didn't hurt that just about every song she heard, reminded her of Lexa, so she dedicated herself to learning a few new songs, just because it made her feel good.

Chapter Text

 

Week 2 – Lexa

Week two of Anya's visit carried on more or less the same way week one had. The two continued to check out many of the touristy things that they didn't get to in the first week, and Lexa and Anya spent a lot of time catching up and reconnecting.

On Sunday, Lexa surprised her by taking her out to brunch.

"Where are we going?" Anya asked for the tenth time.

Lexa just smirked and rolled her eyes at her friend. "Be patient, Anya. We're almost there. You'll like it, I promise."

"You know I don't like surprises," Anya growled.

"It's just brunch, Anya," Lexa replied, trying not to laugh and eyed her friend mischievously. "No one's going to jump out at you."

Anya glared at her friend and said indignantly, "That was NOT funny, Lexa! It almost gave me a freakin' heart attack. I have been suspicious around my birthday ever since."

Lexa chuckled again, "Ah, but you should have seen your face. Best surprise party ever!" She glanced over at Anya, who was still fuming about the 'surprise' party Lexa had thrown her several years before.

"I wanted to kill you," Anya said, finally falling into a smile. "You're just lucky Cost..."

"We're here," Lexa interrupted tightly, all trace of humor gone from her face.

Anya shut her mouth sharply and cursed herself. She shot a look over at Lexa and watched as the younger woman worked valiantly to get her face under control as she parked the truck. When Lexa looked back at Anya, there was an apology in her eyes, but all she said was, "Ready? Let's go get some brunch."

Anya followed Lexa into a restaurant called Perry's, looking up at the black awning with the address above the entrance. There was a line-up to get in, but Lexa just walked to the front and gave the hostess her name.

"You made reservations?" Anya whispered as they waited off to the side for the hostess to return.

"I made them as soon as I knew you were coming. It was lucky that I managed to get any, this place is crazy busy – especially on Sundays," Lexa replied.

"Why? What's so different about Sunday?" Anya wondered, trying to see into the restaurant.

"You'll see," Lexa replied.

After a moment, the hostess returned with a smile and offered to show them to their seat. The two women followed, and it took Anya less than ten seconds to figure out why Sundays were so popular. Anya's mouth dropped open, and a smile lit up her face.

"Drag queens! The servers are all drag queens," Anya said with wonder, looking at the flamboyant costumes, (or lack thereof) on many of the servers in attendance.

The women were shown to their seats and then quickly got food from the impressive buffet, before returning just in time for the next show. They sat and ate, and watched the drag queens waltz around the room, singing and dancing to Gloria Gaynor's "I will survive." Lexa couldn't help thinking how appropriate that particular song was given her current situation and mental state. She often felt as though she was just surviving, but maybe, just maybe, she was ready for more.

It was a very entertaining show, and the smile didn't fall from Anya's face once, and as a result, neither did Lexa's.

It got even better when one of the queens came and grabbed Anya's hand and pulled her from her chair to seat her in the middle of the room, next to an older gentleman who looked as though his eyes were going to bulge from his head. Lexa stood and whistled to her friend and then pulled out her phone so she could record the next few minutes for posterity.

Before Anya knew what was happening, a beautiful, drag queen in a very skimpy outfit was straddling her legs and giving her a lap dance while trying to feed her fruit with their teeth. She took the offered slice of apple, and the queen leaned down and planted a sloppy kiss on her cheek before getting up and moving over to repeat the process with the man sitting beside them. Anya shot Lexa an amused glance before starting to giggle as she watched the blush start to rise in the man's face, beside her. He was clearly embarrassed but managed to get through it with grace and everyone clapped for the two 'volunteers' as they made their way back to their tables.

The show came to an end a few minutes later, and the restaurant settled back into the regular hum of patrons eating, talking and enjoying themselves.

"This is unbelievable, Lex." Anya gushed. "I haven't had this much fun in ages. Thank you for bringing me here."

"You're welcome," Lexa replied with a smile. "You should really thank Lincoln, though. He told me about this place. He's wanted to bring me for a while, but I kept turning him down. He suggested it again when I told him you were coming, so I did some research and decided to make the reservations."

"Well, I'm glad you did," Anya stated, reaching out and clasping Lexa's hand. "And I'm glad you're here with me."

"Me too," Lexa said, squeezing Anya's hand.

They spent some time, picking at the remains of their brunch, drinking mimosas and talking about their years together in Seattle. After about the fifth awkward silence after a stunted conversation that the two couldn't seem to get right, Lexa sighed deeply and looked at her friend.

"I'm sorry, Anya," she said.

"For what?" Anya replied. She knew where this was going, but felt it was important that Lexa verbalize it, so she feigned ignorance.

Lexa sighed again, knowing what Anya was doing.

"I'm sorry that I'm so hard to talk to," she murmured. "We're reminiscing, we have a history together, and I keep shutting you down."

"I know why you do it, Lex," Anya said. "Our history isn't just our own."

Lexa looked down, shaking her head. "No, it's not. But it's not fair to you. You shouldn't have to censor everything you say, or try to bring up something that happened between us years ago and have me stop participating just because it could lead somewhere else."

Anya looked at her friend and decided to take a risk. "It's been two years, Lex," Anya started softly. "Why can you still not talk about them? About her?"

Lexa's head snapped up at the comment, and she stared steadily at her friend, a war of emotions battling across her face.

Anya's posture was stiff, waiting for the inevitable backlash she was expecting from Lexa, but all she saw in Lexa's eyes was sorrow and guilt, so much guilt it made Anya's heart break.

Lexa's shoulders slumped, and she looked away from Anya and down at the table. Anya reached out and grasped Lexa's hand again and squeezed. "Hey. You do know that what happened wasn't your fault, right?" Anya heard the sharp intake of breath at her words, but Lexa didn't try to pull out of her grasp, so she charged forward.

"It was an accident, Lexa. You couldn't have prevented it. You had nothing to do with it." Anya had said these same words to Lexa over two years ago. They had fallen on deaf, grief-stricken ears then, and Anya hoped her friend was in a more forgiving place two years later. The fact that Lexa wasn't raging at her as she had done back then, that she hadn't even pulled away from the grip Anya had on her slender fingers gave her hope. She squeezed Lexa's fingers again and was immensely relieved when she felt the slight squeeze back.

Lexa sniffed, "I know," she said breathing out as she wiped the tears from her eyes with her free hand before she looked up at her friend. "I know," she repeated a bit more firmly. "I just…I can't do this, not here. Later, okay? I promise. I do want to talk to you about this I just need to wrap my head around it, and I'm not finding that a very easy thing to do right now."

Anya stared at Lexa for a few moments before nodding her head and giving her hand another squeeze before letting go.

"Later," Anya agreed, wondering when later would be.


Christmas Day was a low-key affair; spent playing cards and opening gifts. Dinner was relatively straightforward, everyone doing their part to help prepare the turkey, potatoes, salads and pie for desert, and clean up after. After dinner, Lincoln put on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, a family tradition, and leaned back on the couch and popped the button on his jeans, moaning and rubbing his belly. Gustus joined him and mimicked his movement's moments later. They all drank homemade eggnog, complained about how much food they all ate, watched the movie, and laughed until they cried.

They spent December 28th split between the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institute. Lexa wandered around and read everything there was to read while Anya gawked at everything there was to see.

"I'm sorry for dragging you to all these places," Anya commented as they wandered from the Natural History Museum to the Smithsonian.

"You are not dragging me anywhere," Lexa replied. "Besides," she added sheepishly, "I haven't seen any of this before."

"What?" Anya looked at her incredulously. "You've lived here for over two years, and you haven't visited any of these places?"

Lexa ducked her head. "Nope."

"Lexa..." Anya started.

"I just didn't feel like it, okay," Lexa started defensively. "It didn't seem necessary. In the beginning, it seemed like too much work. Later I would walk around here but never had the motivation to go inside anywhere. I just couldn't be bothered."

Lexa paused momentarily, before finishing quietly, "And, I didn't want to go alone."

Anya stopped and looked at her friend as Lexa continued to walk ahead. Lexa stopped a few steps later when she realized Anya had halted. Lexa turned and looked at her; one eyebrow raised in question. Anya moved toward her again and when she had caught up, stood directly in front of her best friend. She put her hands on Lexa's shoulders and looked her directly in the eye. "You were never alone, Lexa."

Lexa knew what Anya was implying; she meant that Anya had always been there for her. That Lincoln and Gustus also would always and had always been there for her. So she slowly said, "Intellectually, I think I knew that, but emotionally I felt so alone, so adrift on my pain and anger that that was all there was for me for a long time. I buried myself so deep that I lost all sense of who I was for a long time, but it was the only way to escape it all, to survive. It wasn't until I started to play hockey again that I felt like a part of me was resurrecting, and I was beginning to find myself again. Then I met Clarke..." Lexa trailed off, casting her eyes to the ground.

It was the first time Lexa had brought up Clarke all week. Anya hadn't wanted to push her, knowing from what Lexa had already told her over the phone, and what she had managed to get out of Lincoln, that it would come up eventually. She was also trying to be respectful of the fact that Lexa had told Anya that she would talk to her – she was still waiting for 'later.' Anya was acutely aware of all the times Lexa would check her phone before she sighed and put it away. It seemed as though maybe the time had arrived; perhaps Lexa was going to talk about it now. However, instead of jumping on the topic like Anya wanted to, she only pulled Lexa in for a hug and waited.

Lexa squeezed her back but didn't seem inclined to speak further about the mysterious blonde and Anya, once again, sighed and didn't push. Lexa released her, hooked her arm through Anya's and said, "Let's get going. It's starting to get chilly out here."

Lexa laughed often, but Anya was aware of the sadness that would cross her face during certain moments, and the hollow look Lexa would get in her eyes from time to time. It didn't take long for Anya to learn to read her best friend again, despite the fact that it had been a couple of years, and she knew that even though Lexa seemed to be putting up a good front, she was hurting. Anya had told herself she wouldn't push her friend into discussing anything she wasn't ready to but also wasn't sure how much longer she should give her space.


Late in the second week of Anya's visit found the girls doing some shopping at Fashion Center at Pentagon City. Lexa had been more quiet than usual all day so as they were walking hand in hand past the shops, Anya finally had enough and tugged on Lexa's hand to stop her and drag her over to the side out of the way, grabbing both of Lexa's hands in her own.

"What are you doing?" Lexa asked.

"Lexa, I've been here for almost two weeks," Anya began looking directly at Lexa, capturing her eyes with her own and forcing the brunette to look at her. "And, we've been dancing around deeper concerns and issues for the last 11 days, skirting the edges without falling into those discussions. You said we would talk later. That was four days ago."

Lexa looked away, and Anya reached out and gently grabbed Lexa's chin to bring her eyes back to her own. "I get it, I do," Anya continued softly, still holding Lexa's chin, "but we need to talk about this Lex. I can see you hurting, and it tears me up." Anya released Lexa's chin and the hand she was still holding and brought both hands up to cup Lexa's face. Anya pulled Lexa's head toward her and placed a chaste kiss on her forehead before pulling away and once again capturing Lexa's eyes.

"You've been quiet today. You've been checking your phone every half hour or so, and every time you put it away, you withdraw even further. I have been trying to give you the space you need, the time you need to get to a place where you can talk to me about what is going on with you. But I'm beginning to wonder when that might be, or if you ever will."

Lexa sighed and dropped her eyes from her friend's. "I do want to talk to you about this, An. It all seems so big right now, so overwhelming; I just don't know how or where to start."

"Well," Anya replied, "why don't you start somewhere simple. Like why you keep checking your phone?"

Anya released Lexa's face and went to take a step back, but before she could, Lexa stepped in and wrapped her up in a hug, before letting go and stepping back herself.

"That's an easy one," Lexa admitted sheepishly, "I keep looking to see if Clarke has messaged me."

"I'm guessing by your mood that she hasn't?"

"No, she hasn't," Lexa said shaking her head. "Maybe she can't, but there's also a part of me that thinks that she may not want to. I mean, we only saw each other twice. Then there is another part of me that says it would be easier if she didn't contact me, but the thought of not seeing her again makes my chest hurt."

Just as Anya was about to respond, Lexa turned when she heard her name called from across the concourse of the mall. Anya cursed inwardly. She had finally gotten Lexa to start opening up and she was frustrated by the interruption.

"Lexa!"

"Raven?" Lexa called back, watching the dark-skinned brunette make her way across the flow of people, noticing Octavia trailing along behind her a moment later.

Raven and Octavia made it to the other side a few seconds later and came to a stop in front of Lexa and Anya.

"Hi, Lexa," Octavia said.

"Hello, Octavia, Raven," Lexa responded, caught slightly off guard by the sudden appearance of Clarke's best friends.

"Who's your friend?" Raven piped up, looking at Anya, even though she directed her question at Lexa.

"This is Anya. She's visiting from Seattle," Lexa offered. "Anya, this is Raven and Octavia. They play for the Arkers, with Clarke."

"Oh, the only team the Grounders have yet to beat. I've heard a lot about you - your team, I mean," Anya said with a smile, admiring the extremely hot, dark-eyed brunette and suddenly not so upset by the interruption. She stuck out her hand to Octavia, who shook it with a small smile and then to Raven, who grabbed it and shook it firmly, hanging on for a second longer than necessary.

"How long are you staying, Anya?" Raven asked. "Maybe you'll still be around when the season picks up again next week? You can come and see why we're the defending champions and why the Grounders can't beat us," she added cheekily.

Anya offered up a tight smile to the cocky brunette and responded with "Maybe. We'll see."

"How have you been, Lexa?" Octavia asked. "We haven't seen you since..."

"I'm all right," Lexa interrupted before Octavia could finish her sentence.

Anya was watching her friend closely, knowing that the woman, Octavia, had been about to mention the party and that Lexa had neatly cut her off so that it didn't come up. She figured that would be it, and that they would all say their good-byes, so she was surprised when she heard Lexa quietly ask, "How's Clarke?"

Raven answered first, giving a slight shrug as she spoke. "As far as we know, she's doing better. She still isn't texting or talking on the phone or anything. Her mom sends us updates when we message, but we haven't heard from Clarke at all. Dr. Griffin thinks we might be able to go for a quick visit tomorrow or the next day."

Anya noticed some of the tension in Lexa's shoulders let go with the information, knowing that Lexa was relieved that the silence from Clarke was standard right now.

"Finally!" Octavia followed up. "It's weird not hanging out together. I want to see with my own eyes that she is doing okay. Not that I don't trust Dr. G," she finished with a shrug.

"Yeah. Poor Clarke though, she's probably bored stiff," Raven added.

The women talked for a few more minutes, Raven and Octavia inquiring into how Anya was enjoying DC, and what types of things she had been doing. Lexa watched the verbal interplay between Raven and Anya and couldn't help but be amused by the subtle flirting taking place in front of her.

"Well, we should get going," Raven announced. "It was good to see you, Lexa. I hope you had a great Christmas. Our teams play each other again in a few weeks. Hopefully, Clarke will be back by then."

"I hope so too. It wouldn't be the same without her," Lexa replied sincerely. "Besides, I don't want to take a victory that way," she added seriously.

"Oh, ho!" Octavia exclaimed. "The commander just threw shade at us Rae! Can you believe that? In your dreams, Grounder," Octavia finished good-naturedly, smirking at the confused look on Lexa's face.

Raven snorted, then turned to Anya, "it was a real pleasure to meet you Anya, and I hope we run into each other again before you head back west."

"Same here," Anya replied giving Raven a quick once-over that the other woman failed to notice, as she had already begun to turn away.

Octavia said her goodbyes as well, and the two brunettes turned and walked back the way they came, leaving Lexa and Anya watching after them.

"What did Octavia mean when she said I was 'throwing shade' at them?" Lexa queried her friend.

"Oh, sweetie, you really have been in hiding haven't you?" she said with a laugh, shaking her head. "You essentially implied that the Arkers can't beat your team without Clarke. It was quite smooth actually."

Lexa dropped her face into her open palm and groaned. "Oh, my, God. I did, didn't I? They must think I am the biggest ass on the planet."

"I wouldn't worry about it," Anya assured, "it seemed like they took it in stride, and just rolled with it. Octavia joked back, so I don't think they were offended."

Lexa lifted her head out of her hand and grimaced at her friend, before turning and continuing on their way through the mall. Anya sighed and followed, conceding the fact that the discussion they had started before the interruption was tabled for the time being.


Raven looked over at Octavia as they walked away from Lexa and Anya.

"Do you think that was Lexa's girlfriend?" she asked Octavia.

"I don't know; they did seem awfully cozy," Octavia replied, "If she is, though..."

"Yeah..." Raven heaved a sigh. "Ugh."


Week 2 – Clarke

Late in the second week, Abby decided it would be okay to have some short visits, so Raven and Octavia rushed over to see with their own eyes that their best friend was indeed doing better. They informed Clarke that Jasper had gone home the night of the party with Monty and that he was healing well and very impressed with his scar. The girls didn't think Jasper had dealt with the trauma of that night entirely, and it was beginning to worry all of them, especially Monty.

They also informed Clarke that Finn had been picked up at his house later that same night and was currently facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon. Clarke's face had gone ashen at this news and her friends quickly moved in for a hug, being careful with their friend as they wrapped their arms around her.

"This is all my fault" Clarke whispered, tears rolling down her face.

"No, Griff. No. In no way is any of this your fault," Raven assured, Octavia nodding vigorously beside her.

"Finn is going to go to jail," Clarke pulled out of her friend's grasp and looked at them with tear-filled eyes. "He only did what he did because of me," she wailed, "if only..." she trailed off shaking her head before Octavia jumped in.

"Clarke, listen to me," Octavia authoritatively stated. "This is NOT your fault. You did not make Finn come to the party. You certainly didn't invite him to advance on you, and you most definitely didn't force him to pick up a knife and attack Jasper. That is all on him. He made those decisions Clarke, not you. He did this to himself."

"Yes, but, maybe if I had insisted that we go somewhere more private to talk, instead of laying it all out in front of everyone, he wouldn't have reacted so badly," Clarke argued.

"Clarke," Raven tried again, grasping Clarke's hand. "Think about that for just a minute, okay? What could have happened if you had gone somewhere with Finn - privately?" Clarke started to open her mouth, but Raven interrupted her.

"In fact, don't answer that, let me answer it for you. He was drunk; he apparently wasn't thinking clearly, and he wanted you back. He'd already forced himself on you at your house when you broke up with him, and he was sober then. It would have been unsafe to the nth degree for you to have gone anywhere with him, and Bellamy would have never let it happen. Plus, your dad would have killed you if you had put yourself in that position," Raven finished with finality.

Clarke laughed bitterly. "No kidding. When he got home, he only knew that I was hurt, none of the details. I thought he was going to have a stroke when my mom told him what happened with Finn. If he wasn't so worried about me, I'm sure he would have gone and found Finn himself."

"You did everything you could have, Clarke," Octavia gently offered, rubbing Clarke's back. "You tried to be kind; you tried to let him down gently, and Finn lost it. That is so not on you. You have to believe that."

Clarke regarded her friends with teary eyes, and nodded her head, not quite ready to shed the full burden of guilt, but feeling slightly lighter nonetheless. "Thanks, guys," she whispered before pulling them in for another hug.

They spent the next thirty minutes talking about their respective Christmases, how boring training was without Clarke and whether Clarke was going to be able to start school next week after the New Year. They also decided that they would spend New Year's Eve together, quietly, at Clarke's house. When Raven noticed that Clarke's eyes had taken on a glossy shine, and a line had formed between her brows, she knew it was time to go. She nudged Octavia, who also looked closely at Clarke and then stood up.

"All right, we should get going," Octavia announced.

"What? Why? Please stay," Clarke whined.

"Nope. We promised your mom that we wouldn't stay long, and you are in obvious discomfort, my friend, so we're going. Plus, you're mom's a bit scary when she's in doctor mode, and I do not want to get on her bad side," Octavia said.

"Also, you can't hog us all the time Griffin, jeez," Raven quipped. "I mean I know we're awesome, but you have to share the love. We have people to see and places to go."

Clarke frowned at Raven and chucked a pillow at her which she neatly caught and put back on the bed. Clarke narrowed her eyes at the dark-skinned girl, realizing that her friends must be concerned if Raven didn't throw the pillow back. So Clarke sighed and wiped a hand down her face and nodded.

"Ok," Clarke said in defeat, "it's just so...I don't know. I'm lonely and bored and frustrated. I miss hanging out with you. God, I even miss Bellamy."

Both the girls chuckled at that before they sobered and collected their sweaters that they had discarded earlier when they entered Clarke's room.

Octavia's eyebrows suddenly shoot up. "Oh! I totally forgot," she exclaimed.

Raven shot her friend a surprised glance, eyes wide, and gave a subtle shake of her head. Clarke didn't see the interaction between the two, too busy rubbing her temples with her fingertips, eyes closed.

"Forgot what?" Clarke murmured absently.

"Oh, um," Octavia tried to back-peddle, shooting a glance at Raven and mouthing silently, 'shouldn't we tell her?'

Raven shook her head again and looked at Clarke, who was just opening her eyes to regard her best friends.

"To ask who all has been in contact the last couple of weeks," Raven smoothly filled in.

"We know that the team sent some cards and flowers over, and of course, the boys and the two of us have been harassing your parents like crazy. Anybody else?" Raven asked too innocently, as she looked down at her hands and made a show of examining her fingernails.

Octavia rolled her eyes at the brunette and watched as Clarke narrowed her eyes at the both of them. She started out so well, Octavia thought; then she just had to keep on talking. Way to go, Reyes.

"Would you care to be more specific?" Clarke asked sweetly.

"Oh my, God, Rae," Octavia huffed before focusing on Clarke. "Have you heard from Lexa at all, Clarke?" she bluntly stated.

The two friends watched several emotions chase themselves across Clarke's face before she managed to settle her features to one of practiced calm. Anyone who didn't know her as well as the two in front of her, would not have been able to catch it, but the three of them had been friends for a long time, and they knew Clarke Griffin better than anyone.

"She came to the hospital that night, I think?" Clarke started hesitantly, looking at her friends.

"Yeah, she was there," Octavia confirmed. "She went up to see you right after Rae, and I left. Your mom brought her up, you don't remember?"

"I barely remember talking to you two," Clarke admitted. "I thought she might have been there, but I also thought that maybe it was a dream, you know?" she looked up beseechingly at her friends. "I was so out of it, and I was on some brutal pain meds that didn't seem to be working, and I was having a difficult time picking out what was real and what was in my head. So I wasn't sure," she trailed off.

"Why didn't you just ask your mom?" Octavia asked.

"I don't know," Clarke replied. "I guess I didn't really want to talk about that night at all. She told me about what Finn did, and then I sort of checked out – I didn't ask her anything else. I guess she was respecting my desire not to talk about it, so she didn't bring it up either." Clarke finished with a shrug.

"Well, Lexa told us that you asked her to stay until you fell asleep and that it didn't take long. She was back about 15 minutes later," Octavia offered.

"Hmmm. I haven't spoken to her since" Clarke shrugged. "I guess you could say I haven't talked to her since the party since I can't remember the hospital visit."

"She hasn't called or sent a message or anything?" Raven asked.

"Mom said she sent a text that first night, asking if I was home and that she hoped I was feeling better," Clarke added. "Mom replied for me, as she did for all the messages the first week; told her I was home and that I wouldn't be seeing anyone for at least a week. I haven't heard or seen anything from her since."

Clarke looked down at her hands, idly picking at the hem of her shirt before quietly adding, "Do you think...I mean...maybe it was all too much for her? Maybe she's not calling or whatever because I'm too messed up? Or mad because of Finn?"

Octavia looked over Clarke's head at Raven and mouthed 'we have to tell her."

Raven nodded, and then sat beside Clarke and put her arm around her friend's shoulders. "Clarke? I don't know what's going on in Lexa's head, how she might feel about you, or the about what happened at Monty and Jasper's. But..." she paused looking at Octavia.

Octavia nodded and knelt down in front of Clarke and put her hands on the blonde's knees. "We ran into Lexa the other day, Clarke," Octavia told her.

Clarke's head came up, "You did? Where? How is she?"

"She seemed fine," Raven said picking up the narrative. "She was with a woman, a very attractive, fierce looking woman..." Octavia shot her a glare, so she quickly continued, "whom she introduced as her friend Anya, from Seattle. Apparently, Anya flew out the day after the party and is staying with Lexa for a few weeks. I got the impression it was a sudden trip."

"Oh," Clarke sadly said, lowering her head again, her mind imagining why Lexa's friend would make such a trip on short notice and only came up with one reason.

"But, Clarke," Octavia offered. "If she's been entertaining a friend for the past couple of weeks, and your mom told her that you couldn't see anyone for a bit, and you weren't personally answering your messages...it makes sense that you haven't heard from her, yeah? I mean, maybe she's waiting to hear from you, that you're okay and can talk or whatever."

Raven squeezed Clarke's shoulders, "If it makes you feel better, she did ask about you, and this Anya woman was watching her like a hawk the whole time."

"She asked about, me?" Clarke's head had come up again at this piece of information.

Octavia smiled, "Yes, she did. We told her we hadn't seen you yet, that Dr. Griffin had you under wraps, but that from what we knew you were making progress. So, why don't you send her a message Clarke? Break the ice by thanking her for coming to the hospital."

"But I don't remember the hospital, at least not clearly. Also, with all that's happened, I'm not sure..." Clarke lamented.

"You don't have to jump into anything, Clarke." Raven offered, "Just get to know her, be her friend and see what happens."

"Oh, I know!" Octavia enthused. "Invite her and Anya over to our quiet New Year's Eve celebration!"

"That's an excellent idea, O," Raven congratulated. "What do you think Griff?"

Clarke looked at her two best friends, and gave a hesitant nod, "Ok, I'll send her a message when I get my phone back and see what happens. I'm not going to jump right into an invitation, though; I'll see how it goes. Who knows, maybe this Anya person is more than a friend, and it will all be moot."

"God, I hope not," Raven muttered under her breath.

"Ha! I knew it, Reyes! You totally have the hots for Lexa's friend!" Octavia exclaimed.

Clarke looked at Raven with interest as Raven blushed harder than Clarke had ever seen her, murmuring a quiet, "Shut up, O," then louder, "Well, Griffin, Octavia has overstayed her welcome, and I'm driving. We'd better go before your mom has our heads on a platter."

The three girls hugged tightly and promised to be in touch soon. Clarke walked them to the door and waved as they got in Raven's truck and headed out.

Octavia threw a wave at Clarke after buckling up her seat belt, and said to Raven out of the side of her mouth, "Should we have told her we saw them hugging and holding hands before we made ourselves known?" still waving at Clarke.

"Absolutely not!" Raven exclaimed. "We have no idea what they are to each other. You and I hug and hold hands all the time, and we're just friends."

"Ha! You're just holding out hope that you can spark something up with Anya. Getting Clarke to invite them to New Year's Eve was smooth, Reyes."

"Oh, stop. You know it's also the best way for Lexa and Clarke to get into the same room together again and get to know one another better. They seemed to be hitting it off at Jasper's, from what I saw during beer pong anyway. Clarke deserves to be happy, and I've never seen her talk about someone like she talks about Lexa. I want it to work for them."

Octavia sighed, "Me too, Rae. Me too."

Chapter Text

 Thursday, Dec. 29

Two days before New Year's Eve, 13 days since Clarke's concussion, Abby decided Clarke could have her phone back, with the understanding that Clarke wouldn't overdo it. Clarke tried to explain to her mother that she was, in fact, a grown adult capable of making her own decisions, but Abby countered by asking who had attended medical school and had completed an internship and residency. Clarke submitted less than graciously and assured her mom that she would be careful.

The first thing she did when she got it back was text her friends.

 

Griff: I got my phone back!

Griff: Aaannndddd, it's almost noon, and I am still headache-free! Booya!

 

O: Yay Clarkey! Back to the world of the living!

 

Rae: It's about time Griffin, Jesus, we thought you were trying to avoid us ;p

 

Griff: Thank you O.

 

Griff: Remind me again why I am friends with you Reyes

 

Rae: Because I am super awesome, duh. Oh, and super smart,- bordering on genius actually, and beautiful, don't forget beautiful!

 

O: don't forget modest

 

Griff: Right. Thanks for the reminder *insert eye roll here

Griff: Will you guys come over tonight? Pleeeaasseee. I'm going crazy here. We can try a movie.

 

Rae: Can you make it through a movie?

 

O: Will your mom let you watch a movie?

 

Griff: Omg you guys, I'm an adult, and if I think I can make it through a movie then I will watch a damn movie!

 

Rae: You're mom's at work, and your dad is away again - right?

 

Griff: I hate you.

 

O: BUSTED

 

Griff: Are you coming or not? I promise if my head hurts we'll turn it off and just talk ok?

 

Rae: Because I feel sorry for you for being deprived of my company for so long I will grace you with my presence. 7?

 

O: I'll come, but you have to be sure to tell us to get lost if you aren't feeling good ok?

 

Griff: YAASSSS! 7 is excellent - someone bring me something to eat so I don't have to cook!

 

Rae: Oh ho! I see the brilliance behind your plan now, you don't want to see us at all, you just want us to feed you. Jerk.

 

Griff: don't call me ho ;)

 

O: I'll bring something Clarke. Any preferences?

 

Griff: No. Thanks, O. Rae, you know I always want to see you guys, the food is just a welcome bonus! smooches.

 

O: Ok, see you in a few.

 

Rae: Jk. See you soon.

 

While she waited for her friends to arrive, Clarke worked up the courage to text Lexa.

Clarke: Hi. My mom told me that you messaged last week to see how I was. Thanks for that.

 

It was only a few minutes before a response to come in.

Lexa: I wanted to make sure you were doing okay. Are you doing better?

 

Clarke: Yes, much. Thank you. I was pretty good yesterday, but today I am, so far, symptom-free. Fingers crossed that it continues.

 

Lexa: I'm glad to hear that.

 

When a full minute went by with nothing else showing up on the screen, Clarke took a deep breath and started typing again.

Clarke: So, Raven and Octavia said that you came to the hospital the night of the party.

 

Lexa: Yes. You don't remember?

 

Clarke: Well, I sort of do. I mean, I thought you were there, but I also thought it might have been a dream or something? The pain meds were really messing with me. I wasn't sure until Rae and O confirmed it for me.

Clarke: So thanks for that too. You didn't have to go to the hospital, and you certainly didn't have to stay.

 

Lexa: Yes. I did.

 

Clarke wasn't sure what the feeling was buzzing around inside her chest meant when she read those three simple words, so she decided to ignore them for the time being.

Clarke: Octavia said that I asked you to stay until I fell asleep. I don't remember that - I don't remember much actually. So I apologize if I kept you too long, or if I said anything I probably shouldn't have or something. Raven and Octavia were teasing me about some of the things I said to them.

 

Lexa: You didn't keep me, Clarke. I was glad to stay, and no, you didn't say anything you shouldn't have.

 

Clarke: Ok, well that's good. What did I say? Out of curiosity?

 

Lexa: You told me to come in the room and then told me you felt like someone hit you over the head with a bat. You also mentioned a concern that you wouldn't be ready to go back to school or start hockey when it all gets going again. That was about it.

 

Clarke wasn't sure if she was disappointed that she hadn't said anything more meaningful or relieved, but couldn't shake the feeling that there was more to Lexa's visit than she was letting on. Clarke sighed as she composed another message.

Clarke: Oh, well, that's not too bad, I guess.

 

Lexa: No, not too bad.

 

Another few minutes of texting silence followed as Clarke fortified her courage to invite Lexa over for New Year's Eve.

Clarke: Listen, I don't know if you have plans for New Year's yet, but Octavia and Raven are coming over here to hang out with me. A very low-key night, if you'd like to join us.

Clarke held her breath while she watched her screen, waiting for a response. Several minutes went by, and Clarke was starting to panic; thinking Lexa wouldn't respond at all when the message bubble finally showed up indicating that Lexa was typing. Clarke tried to quell the butterflies doing acrobatics in her tummy as she waited for the reply. After what seemed like ages, it finally popped up.

 

Lexa: Thank you for the offer, Clarke. I have a friend visiting from Seattle, so we were just going to stay in.

 

Clarke: Oh, right. Raven and Octavia mentioned that they met her the other day. It would be totally fine if you brought her. If you want to come over, that is.

 

More time passed and Clarke assumed Lexa was discussing it with her 'friend.' Clarke felt slightly sick at the prospect of the woman Raven described being involved with Lexa but was still determined to befriend the stoic brunette regardless.

 

Lexa: Thank you, Clarke. Anya said she would love to meet the captain of the only hockey team to keep the Grounders undefeated, so we would be happy to come.

 

Clarke: Ha! Well, I hope you haven't told her too many lies, Lexa.

 

Lexa: Clarke. I would never lie.

 

Clarke: Right. Ok. So if you want to come early, we can catch the World Junior Game at 4.

 

Lexa: that is an excellent idea. Can we bring anything?

 

Clarke's heart clenched when she read the 'we' in the sentence but typed back quickly.

Clarke: Just yourselves, and anything special you may want to drink. There will be beer and food enough here for everyone.

Clarke quickly typed out her address and sent that along as well.

 

Lexa: Okay. See you in a couple of days. I'm looking forward to it.

 

Clarke: Me too. Bye, Lexa.

 

Lexa: Goodbye Clarke.


Two days before New Year's Eve, Lexa and Anya were arguing about what to do to ring in the New Year. Anya wanted to go out, and Lexa did not. Anya was doing her best to convince her friend when Lexa's phone buzzed with an incoming text.

Lexa froze, staring at her phone lying on the table beside the couch. It buzzed again, and she lurched over to pick it up, looking at the notification.

"It's from Clarke," she breathed.

 

"Are you going to read it, or are you going to stand there and breath heavily all over your lock screen?" Anya said.

 

Lexa looked up at Anya, eyes slightly wide. "What do I say?"

 

"Read the message, you dork. Go from there," Anya said trying to hide her amusement. It had been a long time since she had seen her friend this worked up.

 

"Right," Lexa huffed, sliding open the message app and reading silently. She texted back and forth for a few minutes, Anya watching the emotions run amok across Lexa's face before she paused and looked up.

 

"Well?" Anya asked.

 

"She doesn't fully remember me coming to the hospital," Lexa shared. "She asked me what she said, and that she hoped she didn't say anything she shouldn't have. So I told her the gist, but not everything. Should I tell her everything that she said?" Lexa asked.

 

"Maybe not over text, yeah?" Anya offered helpfully. "Save that for later, if it comes up."

 

Lexa nodded to her friend just as another text from Clarke arrived.

 

"Oh," Lexa softly exclaimed.

 

"What?" Anya shuffled over to peek at the screen.

 

"She just invited me over to her place for New Year's Eve. A quiet night with her, Raven and Octavia." Lexa said with wonder. "Why..."

 

"You should totally go, Lex," Anya said with a smile.

 

"No, I can't just go and leave you here. I'm going to tell her that you're here and that we were planning to stay in," Lexa firmly responded as she began to type.

 

"That's ridiculous Lexa. You should go - don't worry about me," Anya shot back.

 

"Too late, I already sent it," Lexa said as she turned the phone to show her friend.

 

A response from Clarke started coming in immediately and once again Lexa looked at her friend in wonder. "She's invited you to come along as well. She doesn't know you; she hardly knows me. Why would she invite us to her home?"

 

"Duh. She apparently wants to spend time with you. Get to know you. That's what people do, you know - hang out with other people," Anya sarcastically said.

 

Lexa frowned at her friend before snapping back, "I know that Anya. It's just usually not with me."

 

"Lexa," Anya said with all teasing gone from her voice. "You are an amazing person. Of course, she wants to get to know you. You just have to decide to let her. Plus," she said more forcefully, "I want to meet this mysterious woman who captains the only team to have not lost to the best hockey player I know."

 

"Oh, shut up," Lexa huffed. "Fine, we'll go."

 

Lexa sent a few more messages back and forth with Clarke before putting her phone down and looking at her friend. Anya silently looked back at Lexa, waiting for her to say something.

 

When nothing seemed forthcoming from the younger woman, Anya groaned and threw her hands in the air. "God! At least some things never change. You are just as stubborn as you always were. Why do you have to make me drag it out of you?"

 

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Lexa said, avoiding Anya's eyes.

 

"Come on Lex. Talk to me," Anya pleaded.

 

Lexa sighed, "We're going to go over to Clarke's house around 4 to watch the hockey game. She said she will have beer and food, but to bring anything else if we want it."

 

"Arrrggghhhh! That is not what I meant, and you know it!" Anya yelled.

 

"What are you thinking? How do you feel? Are you nervous? Excited? Scared? Talk to me, Lex. What's going on in your head?" she finished in frustration.

 

Lexa remained silent, looking at the floor for a few moments and then her shoulders drooped as if defeated.

 

"I don't know An," she softly said before raising her head to look at her best friend, imploringly. "I am scared. My heart feels like it's torn between wanting to protect itself and falling headlong into...whatever, this thing with Clarke could be. My head says to wait; I'm not ready, and sometimes my heart agrees. But then, when I see her, the damn rebellious thing does what it wants, regardless of how hard my head is screaming to stop. My heart wins every time, even as my mind fights against it, and I don't know if I can do it."

Lexa took a deep breath. "It's exhausting."

 

Anya sat down next to her on the couch, wrapping her arm around Lexa's slender shoulders and pulling her close. Lexa leaned her head on Anya's shoulder and sighed. It seemed 'later' had finally arrived, and it had taken some work on Anya's part to get Lexa to finally open up to her, but she was relieved that Lexa was finally talking about how she was feeling.

 

"When Clarke got hurt and had to go to the hospital," Lexa continued just barely above a whisper, "I knew then that I could fall for her, Anya - hard. She was just lying there, not moving," Lexa paused and inhaled a shaky breath. "There was blood all over, and I was so angry, and so very terrified; both for her and because of what I was feeling. I haven't ever felt that helpless before. Not even after..." Lexa trailed off shaking her head.

 

Anya pulled away and looked at her friend. "Really? This experience was worse?"

 

Lexa shook her head again. "Not that the experience itself was worse. I'm talking about how helpless I felt," Lexa tried to clarify. "Before, all I could do was wait, there was literally nothing for me to do, but wait. With Clarke, she was right there. I could see that she was hurt, and I couldn't do anything. The guy that hurt her was right there in front of me, and I couldn't stop him from hurting Jasper either. I couldn't stop him from getting away - I couldn't do anything. I was completely powerless."

Tears were streaming down Lexa's face, though she fought to keep her voice steady. "When Finn ran out, and I looked down at Clarke I almost lost it. I stood there in the middle of a stranger's kitchen and barely contained a panic attack. If it weren't for Lincoln taking control and being so calm and confident, I don't know what might have happened. He grounded me."

Lexa felt Anya squeeze her tighter and kiss the top of her head, so she took a breath and continued, "I kept thinking what if she dies. What if I lose her too? I barely know her Anya, I shouldn't have cared that much. Concerned yes, as most of the people there probably were, but I knew in my heart that I would be devastated if something happened to her. What does that mean? What do I do with that?" Lexa finished plaintively, her voice finally breaking.

 

"Oh sweetie," Anya sighed, "I know this is hard, but I guess you just need to figure out what you want. I know," she said as Lexa's head came off her shoulder, her brows pulled down, and her mouth open about to say something before Anya quickly continued. "I know you think it's not that easy, but it is. Deciding what you want is the easy part. It's going to be allowing yourself to have it that will be difficult.

Anya paused and looked at Lexa. "And I think you already know what you want."

 

Lexa was looking at her friend with sad eyes. "Yes, I do know. I just don't know if I can."

 

"Then take it slow. Be Clarke's friend. Hang out together and get to know one another," Anya suggested. "New Year's Eve will be a good place to start."

Chapter Text

It was New Year’s Eve, and Clarke had been symptom-free for three whole days.

She had made it through The Princess Bride with Raven and Octavia, and she didn’t end the evening with a headache; even after listening to Raven’s pseudo complaining about her choice of movie. Clarke knew Raven secretly loved it, even though she claimed to be watching it purely for Clarke’s benefit. Her mother had declared the evening a success but also cautioned her to be careful and not to push it.

The next day, Clarke left the house for the first time in over two weeks. She met Monty, Jasper, Bellamy, Raven and Octavia at the local coffee shop. She grimly examined Jasper's scar and commented on how she could barely see the stitch marks that had come out on the day before.

“I’m really sorry that you got caught up in this, Jasper,” Clarke apologized.

He waved her off stating, “it wasn’t your fault, Clarke. Don’t worry about it.”

The rest of her friends echoed the sentiment, so she let it drop.

Finn was a topic of discussion because up until that day, most of the group had been witnesses for his upcoming trial. However, Finn had taken a deal which made a trial unnecessary. Bellamy filled in everyone at the table while they drank their tea and coffee.

"So, his lawyer managed to get the prosecution to offer a deal based on a 'diminished capacity.' defense."

"What does that mean?" Clarke asked.

"They’re claiming that even though Finn committed a crime, he shouldn’t be held criminally liable because his mental functions were diminished or impaired," Bellamy explained.

"Is that like pleading insanity?" Jasper asked with a skeptical look on his face.

"No, not insanity," Bellamy clarified. "In Finn's case, they are arguing that due to intoxication his judgment was impaired and that there was no premeditation to what happened that night. Things got out of control, and he did things because he was drunk that he wouldn’t have otherwise done."

"Well, that's fair to say, I guess," Raven piped up. “And also, are you sure you don’t want to be a lawyer, Bel because you seem pretty comfortable with all this legal jargon,” she added with a smirk.

“No. No, I don’t,” he said shooting a glare at the brunette. “I am way too attached to my history and mythology.”

"So, what's going to happen to him?" Clarke asked quietly.

Raven reached over and squeezed Clarke's thigh under the table as Bellamy answered.

"Well, according to the DC Code of law, if he’s convicted of assault causing significant bodily injury, he could have gone to jail for three years, had to pay a $12,500 fine or both. But since he’s a first-time offender with no record of past violence, and with the diminished capacity defense, the prosecution offered a deal that Finn and his defense team accepted."

"If it had gone to trial," Monty suddenly piped up, "the prosecution would have had to prove criminal intent, mens rea. What Finn did, the act, is indisputable, actus reus, but with the diminished capacity defense, the defense could provide enough reasonable doubt for specific intent. It was in the prosecution's best interest to offer this deal."

The rest of the group looked at Monty with their mouths agape, all except Jasper, who just looked amused.

"What?" Monty asked with a scowl. "I did some research when I found out what was happening."

“Well, it’s all Greek to me,” Octavia said impressed.

“Actually, it’s Latin,” Raven corrected as the group closed their gaping mouths and Raven slapped Monty on the shoulder. "Trust you to bring in the nuts and bolts, Monty," she said with a smile, ignoring the glare Octavia sent her.

"Anyway," Bellamy continued. "He has to see a therapist, which includes anger management counseling. He also has to do community service hours."

"No jail time then?" Clarke asked with some relief.

"No," Bellamy affirmed, "I do think he was slapped with a fine, though, but I don't know how much. And, of course, it will stay on his permanent record."

"Better than jail," Octavia said. "As big a douche as he was, I don't think he deserved to go to jail. Sorry Jasper," she added sheepishly.

"Don't worry about it," Jasper replied, "I don't think he deserves to be in jail either. Though my parents may disagree." he finished wryly.

"I still can't help thinking that I should have been able to stop all this from happening in the first place," Clarke said, looking at the table.

"Oh stop," Raven and Octavia said together.

"We've talked about this, Clarke," Raven continued.

"Yeah, you need to stop beating yourself up about it," Bellamy added. "What's done is done. You know that we were all there, we saw what happened, and we know that you did nothing wrong in all of this. It's not your fault Clarke."

"Yeah, let it go, Clarke," Jasper said sincerely as the rest of the group nodded.

Clarke looked at her friends and with a small smile and a dip of her head said, "Thanks, guys, I'll try."

Even though Clarke told her friends that she would try to move on and let the whole incident with Finn go, she couldn’t shake the guilt. She had agreed to go out with him in the first place because she thought he was charming, and if she was honest with herself because he was fun, present and interested. As the months went on, she knew he was starting to feel more for her than she felt for him, but she stayed because he was comfortable and he treated her well. He had had a few moments of jealousy and possessiveness that, in retrospect, should have raised some red flags for her, but for the most part, he was sweet, kind and treated her like a princess (even though she hated it when he called her that). So the fact that he essentially lost his mind and stabbed one of her best friends after she ended things with him, she viewed as her fault, something she should have been able to prevent. Maybe she shouldn’t have ended it so abruptly, taken more time and led up to it more. Maybe that would have made it better. But she hadn’t, she had blind-sided him and because of that, what occurred next was her fault - even if her friends kept telling her it wasn’t.

The other thing that bothered her was the fact that she hadn’t felt much for Finn on an emotional level. He was fun, he was comfortable, the sex was pretty good, but that was it. She had been in several longer relationships in the last few years, but she couldn’t say she was ever in love. There had never been someone that she couldn’t wait to see, that she thought about all the time; that she felt she couldn’t live without. In recent months she had actually begun to think that perhaps she never would feel that way, maybe couldn’t feel that way. Then she met Lexa. All of a sudden there was someone in her life that she thought about all the time; that she couldn’t wait to see but was anxious to see at the same time. The butterflies that had taken up permanent resident in her stomach since she woke up today and knew that she would be seeing Lexa later in the day were a testament to that. It confused her that she could feel so much for someone she had just met, when she had never felt remotely close to this much with any of her past partners, regardless of the length of the relationship. Clarke mentally shook herself out of her musings and tried to focus back on her friends and the on-going conversation.

The conversation moved on from that point to what each of the friends was doing that evening. Everyone seemed content to have a very mellow evening planned, staying in with small groups. Bellamy had met a girl, Echo, who had invited him to a small gathering at her place. Jasper and Monty were going to hang out with their friends Miller and his partner Bryan, as well as a young nurse named Mya that Jasper and Monty had met at the hospital. Monty, in a burst of confidence, had asked Harper to go with him and to no one's surprise but Monty's, Harper had agreed. The girls, of course, were all going to Clarke's.

The friends wrapped up their get-together with hugs and wishes for a Happy New Year, and they went their separate ways for the evening.


Clarke, Octavia, and Raven stopped to get beer, food, and snacks on the way back to Clarke's.

"We better hurry if we want to have some of these appetizers ready for when Lexa and Anya show up," Octavia said as she helped load the groceries in the car.

"Right-o, O!" Raven chortled, as she jumped into the car and started it. She looked over at Clarke as she buckled her seat belt. "All right there, Clarke?"

Clarke looked back at her before offering up a small smile. "Yes, Rae, thanks. No headache, I'm not tired, and I'm looking forward to this evening."

"Excellent! Me too," Raven smiled back.

"Me three!" Octavia piped up excitedly from the back, making all the girls chuckle.


By 3:30, the girls had appetizers in the oven, beer cooling in the fridge and the TV set up to watch the US vs. Sweden, Jr. World Cup game in HD. They retired to the living room to watch the pre-game show and wait for the last two members of their party.

As Raven sat down on the couch next to Clarke, she noticed a guitar sitting in the corner.

"Why's your guitar down here Clarke?" Raven asked.

"Oh. Well, I couldn't watch TV, or play Candy Crush on my phone, or even read real books, hardly, so I had to find something to do. I've played it a lot in the last two weeks. I forgot how much I enjoyed it," Clarke responded.

"If I remember correctly," Octavia said thoughtfully, "you used to be pretty good at it. Have you still got it, Clarke?" she added with a smirk.

Clarke laughed as she walked over to the guitar and picked it up and brought it back to the couch.

"Well, I don't know if I do or not, O. I remember how to play all the chords, and the practice during the last two weeks has done a lot to knock off the rust," Clarke responded.

Clarke sat down, put the guitar on her lap and got comfortable before plucking out a quick scale. From there she strummed out a few chords before launching into an up-tempo fingerpicking instrumental piece. Raven and Octavia hooted and clapped as Clarke's fingers slid quickly up and down the frets. When the song finished, Clarke stood up and bowed dramatically to her friends, holding the guitar out to the side.

Raven held her hands out for the instrument in a ‘gimme’ motion, and Clarke handed it over before collapsing back on the couch. Raven spent some time experimenting with some chords, with Clarke offering advice now and then, and before they knew it, there was a knock on the door.

Clarke's heart jumped into her throat at the knock, but before she could move, Octavia beat her to it.

"I'll get it," Octavia said as she jumped up and headed to the door.

Raven continued to work her fingers on the strings, so Clarke helped her adjust her fingers into the proper position for a D chord.

She heard Octavia open the door and welcome the newcomers, and she tried not to turn and stare, instead keeping her focus on Raven's hand.

"Hi, Lexa. Hi, Anya. It's good to see you again. Come on in," Octavia greeted as she moved aside to let the pair enter.

"Thank you for inviting us," Lexa responded politely, looking at the small brunette before glancing over Octavia's shoulder into the living room.

The sight of Clarke sitting in front of Raven and smiling made Lexa's heart jump and start racing. She brought her focus back to Octavia, who was offering to take their coats.

Raven finally strummed out the D chord and Clarke smiled. "You got it, Rae. Let's go say hi."

They both stood up, and Raven leaned the guitar against the side of the couch before following Clarke to welcome Lexa and Anya.

As Clarke and Raven made the short trip to the foyer, Clarke's could feel her heart rate speed up exponentially, and when Lexa glanced up and met her eyes, she thought it might jump right out of her chest. Her step momentarily faltered before she caught herself and continued, eyes still locked with Lexa's. Clarke stopped a few feet away from the two women and tore her eyes away from Lexa to regard Anya.

Raven was right, Clarke thought grimly; she is striking. She took a deep breath and extended her hand to the unknown woman. "Hi. You must be Anya. I'm Clarke."

"Very pleased to meet you, Clarke," Anya said, reaching out to shake her hand. "Thanks for inviting us."

"Our pleasure," Clarke replied with a small smile. She released Anya's hand and turned to Lexa, who was watching Clarke intently. Raven and Octavia led Anya into the living room while Clarke welcomed Lexa.

"Hi, Lexa," Clarke greeted softly.

"Hello, Clarke," Lexa responded softly in return.

The two women stood and regarded each other for a few moments more before Clarke puffed out a breath, looked away and said, "I'm glad you could make it."

Just as Clarke was about to turn to lead Lexa into the other room, she heard Lexa call out quietly, "Clarke?"

Clarke stopped her motion and turned back towards Lexa; one eyebrow quirked in question.

Lexa looked at the floor and then back at Clarke before asking softly, "How are you doing?"

Clarke's stomach flipped, and her breath caught in her throat when she heard the simple question stated with such sincerity. She managed a lopsided smile before shrugging her shoulder. "Pretty good - thanks. I've been symptom-free for three days, so that's something." Clarke indicated into the living room. "Come on; the game’s about to start."

Lexa just nodded and followed Clarke, torn between wanting to wrap the blonde up in a fierce hug just to feel her heart beating, and wanting to run screaming from the torrent of emotions she could feel building in her chest.

With everyone seated in the living room, Clarke and Octavia went to get the appetizers from the kitchen and bring in drinks for everyone.

"Raven was right," Clarke muttered to Octavia, under her breath once they crossed the threshold to the kitchen.

Octavia glanced at her as she opened the fridge. "Right about what, exactly? She is annoyingly right about many things. You need to be more specific."

Clarke couldn't help the chuckle that escaped at that, even though her insides were twisting with doubt and dismay. "About Anya. She’s beautiful."

Octavia closed the refrigerator door with her hip as she placed five beers on the counter, and she watched as Clarke slid the mini sausage rolls off the baking pan and onto a plate. "She is, isn't she. Do you think they’re a couple?"

Clarke sighed, "I don't have the foggiest idea, O." With that, Clarke grabbed the plate and some napkins and headed back into the living room, Octavia following behind with the beverages.

The first thing Clarke noticed was that Lexa was sitting close to Anya on the couch, with Raven in the armchair closest to the intimidating blonde. Raven and Anya seemed to be deep in conversation while Lexa was watching the newly started hockey game. As soon as the two women walked out of the kitchen and into the living room, though, Lexa's eyes snapped up and found Clarke's.

Clarke's breath hitched yet again as she looked into the green of Lexa's eyes and she offered her a shy smile as she set the plate of rolls down on the coffee table.

Octavia had grabbed the other arm chair, which left only the far end of the couch on which to sit. Right next to Lexa. Clarke looked over at Octavia, who just shot her a smirk before grabbing a beer and some rolls and settling back into the chair to watch the game. Clarke glanced at the spot available, snuck a quick glance at Lexa, and then looked at the empty spot on the floor.

Clarke swallowed and handed a beer to Raven, who took it absently, still engrossed in her conversation with Anya. Clarke looked to Lexa with a quirked brow, holding out a beer which the brunette took with a nod of thanks. Clarke pushed the last beer in Anya’s direction and then turned and lowered herself to the floor and leaned back against the couch.

Lexa watched as Clarke lowered herself to the floor and sighed, "Clarke, you can sit on the couch, it is your house after all."

Clarke looked back at her over her shoulder, "Okay,” she said as she started to get up, “I just didn't want you to feel crowded or anything. I could just sit on the floor," Clarke babbled as she pointed to the spot she just vacated.

"Clarke," Lexa said, looking straight at her. "Sit down." Lexa scooched a bit closer to Anya and indicated the space beside her.

Clarke nodded and sat down, immediately leaning forward to grab a few sausage rolls off the plate. She looked over her shoulder at Lexa, who was still regarding her silently. "Want some?" Clarke asked, pointing to the food.

"I'm fine for now, thank you," Lexa responded.

Clarke leaned back into the couch and tried to focus her attention on the game playing out in front of her, but she was vividly aware of the warmth emanating from the woman beside her.

The group sat in companionable silence, occasionally hollering out the odd, “Tripping! Come on stripes!” or “That call was horse shit!” or a variant of some such comment during the hockey game they were watching.

Raven and Anya had stopped their conversation to pay attention to the match as well, and Clarke kept sneaking side glances at Lexa beside her. She couldn't help but notice that while Lexa and Anya were sitting together, they made no effort to initiate any physical contact. Clarke couldn't help but be bolstered by that and had managed to shift closer to Lexa over the course of the period. By the time the first period came to an end, Clarke had noticed, with surprise, that she had shifted enough so that their knees were almost touching.

During intermission, Raven convinced Anya to help her get more food from the kitchen, and Octavia excused herself to use the bathroom, which left Clarke and Lexa alone for a few minutes. The two women sat in semi-uncomfortable silence until Clarke took a deep breath and turned to face Lexa, her left knee pressing slightly against Lexa's right one.

"Are you enjoying the game?" Clarke asked, immediately cursing herself for the lameness of the comment.

Lexa gave her a half-smile as she said, "It's all right. A somewhat defensive battle, so not much to get too excited about yet. I imagine that if the score stays tied into the third, things will pick up as both teams try to put it away."

"Hmmm. To be honest, I haven't really been paying attention." Clarke said, looking away from Lexa's green, green eyes.

"No?" Lexa said with a hint of concern in her voice. "Are you feeling okay? Should we go?" Lexa started to get up, and Clarke quickly put her hand on Lexa's arm to halt her upward motion.

"NO!" Clarke exclaimed quickly, before repeating more softly, "No. I'm fine; I just can't seem to concentrate on the game. Too much going on up here," she finished waving at her head with her other hand.

Lexa glanced down at the hand on her arm and then back at Clarke, who had noticed the glance and slowly pulled her hand away.

"If you're sure," Lexa said, settling back on the couch.

"I'm sure," Clarke confirmed. She paused, then spoke again, "I've just been thinking...I need to..." Clarke sighed, "I feel like I need to apologize to you for that night at the party."

Lexa felt her chest constrict at the mention of that night, but she just shook her head, "You have nothing to apologize for, Clarke. It certainly wasn't your fault."

"Yeah, that's what everyone keeps saying," Clarke muttered under her breath. "However," she continued more forcibly. "I invited you to a party, and then all hell broke loose, and you got caught up in it and had to deal with the cops," Clarke rambled out quickly. "And...I'm just sorry. That is not how I had hoped that night would go at all."

Lexa was watching Clarke carefully when she softly said, "How were you hoping it would go?"

Clarke's head snapped up to look Lexa in the eyes, a slight blush rising in her cheeks when she realized what she had inadvertently let slip. "I invited you to that party because I wanted to get to know you better. I know you probably think I only offered because Octavia asked Lincoln, but honestly, it just gave me the incentive to do it. I had been thinking about asking you all night." Clarke paused, searching Lexa's face before adding softly, "I really do want to get to know you better, Lexa."

Lexa swallowed, still lost in the blue of Clarke's eyes before she licked her lips and sucked her lower lip in under her teeth before she nodded once and looked away. "I'd like that, Clarke," Lexa quietly said. "I'd like to get to know you better as well, perhaps..."

Whatever Lexa had been about to say, was lost as Raven and Anya stormed back into the living room, arguing about God only knew what - Octavia trailing in their wake.

"You are so very wrong!" Raven tossed back over her shoulder at the imposing blonde following her.

"You wish, grease monkey." Anya shot back.

"God, just because I told you I liked to work on cars, and that I am a damn fine mechanic, does not give you the right to call me a grease monkey!" Raven yelled, practically slamming the chips and dip down on the table.

Octavia scooted around the two arguing women and placed more beers on the table for everyone, rolling her eyes at Clarke and Lexa in dramatic fashion.

"Um, Raven?" Clarke asked. "Why are you fighting with our guest?"

"Oh we're not fighting, Clarke," Raven responded, smirking. "I was just telling General Hotstuff over there that cold-brewed coffee is the best way to drink coffee. She disagrees."

"Who drinks cold-brewed coffee?" Anya offered up in her defense.

Clarke looked at Octavia and mouthed 'General Hotstuff?'

Octavia just smirked as she reclaimed her seat as the second period of the hockey game got underway.

Raven glared at Anya and confidently said, "Let me prove it to you."

Anya scoffed as she also reclaimed her seat, "How? Are you going to make cold-brewed coffee?"

Raven smirked and crossed her arms across her chest before replying. "No, but I could. Let me take you out for coffee. Tomorrow. There’s a cafe that makes the best cold-brewed coffee. I’ll take you and buy you a cup. And then I will listen to you saying how amazing it is, and how you should have believed me."

Anya's mouth dropped open, and she stared at Raven for a few beats before collecting herself and responding smugly, "Are you asking me out on a date?"

Raven's eyes widened in shock, and she glanced back at Lexa, who looked just as surprised as Raven herself. "Uh...um," Raven stammered, looking back and forth between Anya and Lexa. "Not a date, no. I didn't mean it like that - definitely not a date."

"Hmmm," Anya said, a hint of a smile playing around the corners of her mouth. "That's a shame. I hoped you were asking me on a date."

It was Raven's turn to have her jaw drop as she continued to look back and forth between Lexa and Anya, a stupefied look on her face. Lexa finally caught on to what Raven's problem was, and she smiled slightly before rescuing her.

"Anya, I think Raven may believe that asking you out on a date would be inappropriate," Lexa offered, still with a half-smile on her face. Lexa was very aware of Clarke staring at her intently, listening to everything that was going on as if her life depended on it.

"What? Why?" Anya asked, confused, looking at Lexa.

Lexa quirked her eyebrow and tilted her head slightly, her smile growing a fraction.

"Oh! Oh, my God!" Anya exclaimed before collapsing in the chair wheezing with laughter, her arms wrapped around her middle.

Anya huffed and wheezed for several more moments before she straightened herself out and wiped the tears from her eyes. She regarded Raven, who stood frozen in place by the TV, a look of utter confusion and mortification on her face. She then turned and looked at Lexa, shared a quick smile with her before standing and approaching the dark skinned brunette who warily watched her advance.

Anya stopped a foot away and looked down at the slightly shorter woman before saying, "Lexa is my best friend. That's it; that is all it has ever been or all it ever will be. She's like my sister." Anya looked back at Lexa and Clarke beside her and noticed the blonde's expression visibly brighten and made a mental note to mention that to Lexa later. She then turned back to the flabbergasted Raven and with another smirk asked again, "So, Raven. Are you asking me out on a date?"

Raven stood there motionless for a beat before nodding her head vigorously up and down. "Yes, I am most definitely asking you out on a date. A coffee date, to make you realize the wonders of cold-brewed coffee."

"Then I accept, both the challenge and the date," Anya remarked before turning back to Lexa. "Do you mind, Lex?"

"Not at all," Lexa replied.

"Actually," Raven piped up, "why don't we all go for coffee tomorrow?"

"Are you trying to get out of our date already?" Anya asked, eyes wide.

"Oh no, Cheekbones," Raven sassed. "I think I should take you on a real date. Out for dinner, maybe a movie or some dancing. Tomorrow's coffee can be just to show you how wrong you are, and how right I am."

Anya was staring at the brunette with a look halfway between annoyance and amusement before asking, "Did you just call me cheekbones?"

"Yes. Have you looked in a mirror? Your cheekbones are amazing," Raven stated sincerely, stepping past her to grab a beer off the table.

Lexa watched Anya try to conceal the blush creeping up her face by also grabbing a beer and plopping herself down in the chair, mumbling something about cocky grease monkeys. Raven just laughed and surprised no one but Lexa and Anya when she plopped herself down on the floor and leaned against the base of the chair between Anya's legs.

Clarke and Octavia had shared an amused glance before Clarke turned to Lexa. "So, how about it? Would you like to get coffee tomorrow?"

"I don't drink coffee, I'm more of a tea person," Lexa responded watching Clarke. She noticed Clarke deflate slightly so she quickly continued, "But I would love to join you regardless."

Clarke's resulting smile was blinding. "Great! I don't drink coffee either. The shop Raven is talking about has some great teas as well."

Lexa's heart leaped at the obvious pleasure emanating from Clarke, so she smiled at the blonde woman and gave her a quick nod before Octavia piped up from the other side of the living room where she had been watching the goings on with no small amount of amusement. "Can I ask Lincoln if he wants to come?"

"Of course," Raven said. "The more, the merrier."

"What's Lincoln doing after his shift tonight, O?" Clarke asked.

"Just heading home I think. He's finished around 11:30," Octavia replied wistfully.

"How did he manage not to be on shift at midnight?" Raven asked.

"He's only a volunteer right now, so he doesn't have to stay," Octavia replied.

"Why don't you invite him over here? He can ring in the New Year with us," Clarke offered.

"Really?!" Octavia exclaimed, bouncing up on her seat. "This was supposed to be a girls’ night."

"He's important to you, and he shouldn't have to spend New Year’s alone. Invite him to come over," Clarke insisted.

"Thanks, Clarke. You're the best." Octavia jumped up and wrapped her arms around her friend before settling back in her chair and texting Lincoln.

"We missed a goal," Raven said. "Sweden's up 1-0."

"Uh, oh. The US better get it in gear, the Swedes have an incredible defense," Clarke added.

The rest of the period was spent in comfortable silence, the odd comment on the game and Octavia's announcement that Lincoln would indeed join them after his shift. The second period came to a close with Sweden still up by a goal, but the US had been pressing hard and went into the break with momentum.


During the break, Octavia excused herself to text Lincoln, and Raven had picked up Clarke's guitar and was trying to remember what Clarke had shown her a couple of hours before. Clarke got up to refresh their snacks and drinks, and Lexa offered to help.

As the two walked to the kitchen, they could hear Anya teasing Raven about her musical ability and Raven's smartass comments back. Clarke smiled to herself and looked over her shoulder at Lexa.

"Our best friends seem to be getting along with each other," Clarke observed.

Lexa laughed lightly, "If you can call the constant insults and barely veiled threats getting along."

"If Raven didn't like her, she wouldn't be teasing her, or pushing her buttons quite so much. It's her tell. The more obnoxious and annoying she is, the more she likes someone," Clarke shared.

"Well, she must like Anya very much then," Lexa responded with a smile.

"Yeah," Clarke said with a small smile of her own. "Too bad Anya's leaving next week," Clarke said as she passed Lexa a bowl of snacks as she grabbed more drinks from the fridge.

"She’s already talking about coming back for spring break," Lexa said as she nodded in response to Clarke's statement.

The two women grabbed their items and headed back into the living room in time to see Raven flipping Anya the bird as the older woman laughed hysterically.

"What's going on?" Lexa asked.

"Raven was trying to play something she claimed is a real song, but it sounded more like cats in heat instead," Anya wheezed between fits of laughter.

Raven glared at her before thrusting the guitar in Clarke's direction. "Play something, Clarke, before I kill her."

A blush rose in Clarke's cheeks as she glanced at Lexa, "I don't know..."

"Oh, just do it, Clarke," Octavia jumped in, having heard the request as she came back into the living room. "Lincoln says hi, by the way."

"I'm sure Anya and Lexa don't want to hear me brutalize any song they may have once enjoyed," Clarke said shyly.

"Oh, please, it can't be nearly as bad as what this one just tried to do," Anya said playfully, nudging a scowling Raven with her toe.

Clarke sighed and reached for the guitar that a pouting Raven had dumped beside her on the couch. She picked it up trying to quell the nerves that had started when she thought about playing in front of Lexa. Well, she thought, I’ll either make a fool of myself or impress her. Thank God, I’ve been practicing.

Clarke took a deep breath and gave herself a mental shake to try to ready herself and shake off the nerves. She sat and quickly re-tuned the instrument after Raven had messed with it and then took a breath and strummed out a few experimental chords, before launching into a tune Octavia and Raven immediately recognized. Raven perked up, and Octavia started bouncing on the chair in excitement.

"Oh my God, Clarke! You still know this one? You haven't played it forever!" Octavia exclaimed.

Clarke nodded smiling before launching into the first verse, strumming energetically along.

"When I wake up, well, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who wakes up next to you

When I go out, yeah, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who goes along with you

If I get drunk, well, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who gets drunk next to you

And if I haver, hey, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who's havering to you

But I would walk five hundred miles

And I would walk five hundred more

Just to be the girl who walked a thousand miles

To fall down at your door."

Lexa was staring at Clarke strum heavily on the strings, belting out the classic song in an exaggeratedly fake Scottish accent. Of course, she could play the guitar, Lexa thought, is there anything this girl can’t do? She couldn’t help but smile when both Raven and Octavia started to echo Clarke in the second verse, and by the time they had hit the chorus a second time, everyone was singing along and echoing the words in all the right places.

Clarke looked at Lexa and held her gaze as she played and began the third verse, quirking her eyebrow and giving her a small smile.

When I’m lonely, well I know I’m gonna be,

I’m gonna be the girl who’s lonely without you.

When I’m dreaming, well I know I’m gonna dream,

I’m gonna dream about the time when I’m with you.

When I go out (when I go out), well I know I’m gonna be,

I’m gonna be the girl who goes along with you.

When I come home (when I come home), oh I know I’m gonna be,

I’m gonna be the girl that comes back home to you.

I’m gonna be the girl that’s comin hooome with you.

But I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more,

just to be the girl who walks a 1000 miles to fall down at your door.”

Lexa swallowed and looked at her hands as the group started yelling out the da da lat da’s over and over again, trying to calm the blush that had crept up her neck and the pounding of her heart.

The song ended with a flourish on the strings from Clarke, and immediately Raven and Octavia were clamoring for another one. Even Anya clapped loudly and encouraged Clarke to play again.

“Cater to your adoring fans, Griffin,” Raven yelled.

Clarke held up her hand laughing, all trace of nerves gone. “Okay, okay. I’ve been working on this one all week, but it’s not even close to perfect,” Clarke paused and looked at Lexa before continuing, “but I heard it again last week, and I had to learn it. Be kind,” she said with a smile as she scooted forward on the couch to get into a more comfortable position with the guitar on her knee.

Clarke took a deep breath and then began to pick out a melody with her fingers which quickly became complicated, however, her eyes never left Lexa’s as she began to sing.

Sittin here, on this, lonely dock. Watch the rain, play on the ocean top.

All the things I feel, I need to saaay, can’t explain, in any, other way.

I need to be bold, need to jump in the cold water, need to grow older with a girl like you.

Finally see, you were naturally, the one to make it so easy when you showed me the truth.

Yahh, yahhaaa, I‘d rather be with you. Say you want the same thing too.”

Lexa’s breath hitched in her throat the minute Clarke started to sing. In the last song, she was being silly, using a fake accent and everyone was belting out the words to the song together. Lexa could tell Clarke could carry a tune, but really couldn’t tell what kind of voice she had. That changed the minute Clarke opened her mouth, and she sang the first line. Her voice was clear and pure, but low and a bit husky. It was quite easily the sexiest thing Lexa had ever heard, and it sent a shiver down her spine. By the time Clarke had hit the third line, Lexa was entranced. Openly staring at Clarke with her mouth slightly ajar. Jesus H. Christ, Lexa thought, turning red once again. Clarke was still looking at her as she began the second verse, quirking her eyebrow at her again, with a small smile on her lips as she sang.

Now here’s the sun, come, to dry the rain. Warm my shoulders and relieve my pain.

You’re the one thing that I’m, missing heeeere. With you beside me, I no longer fear.

I need to be bold, need to jump in the cold water, need to grow older with a girl like you.

Finally see, you were naturally, the one to make it so easy when you showed me the truth.

Yahh, yahhaaa, I‘d rather be with you. Say you want the same thing too.”

The third verse carried on much the same way, with Clarke’s deft fingers flying over the strings in between verses. Clarke broke her gaze away from Lexa during those interludes, but always found their way back when she picked up each verse. Clarke finished the third and final verse with one extra line, sung softly as the guitar faded away “Say you feel, the way I do.”

Clarke sat up straighter and coughed as she looked away from Lexa. Raven and Octavia, who were not unaware of the looks that had passed between Clarke and Lexa, clapped softly, and Anya joined in.

“That was beautiful, Clarke,” Octavia said, “What song is that? I don’t think I’ve heard it before.”

“Me neither,” added Raven, “but it was really nice.”

Clarke shrugged, “It’s by Joshua Radin. I can play his version on iTunes for you later if you want.” Clarke paused and took a deep breath, glancing again at Lexa.

“You need to bust that thing out more often,” Octavia said grinning.

“Thanks, O” Clarke replied with a bright smile, “it was fun.”

"Game's on," Raven announced. "Perfect timing."

As everyone began reclaiming their seats, Clarke met Lexa's eyes again. They seemed brighter, greener than Clarke remembered. She offered a shy smile to the brunette, who gave her a lopsided half-smile back, dropping her eyes.

"Clarke?" Lexa asked, "May I use your bathroom?"

"Of course, it's down the hall to the left," Clarke replied.

Lexa nodded and proceeded towards her destination, as Clarke watched her walk away.

Clarke sighed, and sat down and immediately felt the couch dip beside her. She looked over and saw Anya sitting next to her, eyes narrowed and viewing Clarke critically.

Clarke shifted uncomfortably under the scrutiny, shooting glances at the intimidating blonde from the side of her eyes every few seconds. Finally, Clarke couldn't take it anymore.

"Is there something I can help you with, Anya?" Clarke asked, turning her body to face the other woman.

Anya raised a brow and continued to regard Clarke in silence. Just as Clarke was about to say something else, Anya spoke just loud enough for Clarke to hear. "I can tell that you like her, Clarke."

Clarke’s eyes momentarily widened before she managed to control her facial reactions. She glanced around before dropping her eyes to her hands and responding honestly in a hushed voice, "Yes, I do. Very much." Clarke side-eyed Anya for some response to the confession and saw the older woman nodding as if to herself.

"I think you would be good for her, Clarke. But you have to be patient with her, okay? Don't push her, and for God's sake, if you hurt her I will personally eviscerate you," Anya finished firmly.

Clarke just looked at the blonde, eyes wide. "I would never push anyone into anything, Anya. Especially Lexa. And I have no intention of hurting her." We would have to be something for that even to be a possibility, Clarke thought to herself.

Anya nodded again before giving Clarke another appraising look before getting up and heading back to the armchair, roughly pushing on Raven, who had taken up residence, trying to get her to move. Instead of getting up, though, she just scooted over and smirked up at Anya. Anya sighed and slid in beside the younger woman, who promptly half turned and draped her legs over Anya's. Anya shook her head and smiled, before placing her hands lightly on Raven's thighs. There really wasn't anywhere else to put them, Anya thought to herself. Raven smirked again, and Anya just rolled her eyes.

Clarke was thinking about the brief, perplexing conversation she had just had with Lexa's best friend. Her mind was awhirl with scenarios and possibilities as to what initiated that conversation, but she couldn't come up with anything that made any firm sense. Clarke got up from the couch and headed down the hallway, lost in thought. As she turned the corner, headed to the bathroom, she ran full force into Lexa as she exited.

"Oof!" Clarke grunted as Lexa reached out and grasped her waist to steady her. As soon as Lexa's hands made contact both girls gasped, and Lexa withdrew them quickly. Clarke took a step back and looked up in time to see Lexa's eyes widen before she quickly schooled her face into one of mild concern. Both women choosing to ignore the sensation that had passed through them.

"Are you all right, Clarke?" Lexa asked.

"Yes, sorry. I didn't mean to run into you, I forgot you were in there, and I was lost in my own head and not paying attention," Clarke babbled, gesticulating randomly with her arms.

"It's okay, Clarke," Lexa assured.

Lexa looked beyond Clarke's shoulder to the hallway wall, seeing the pictures there for the first time. Some were family photos, with a gap-toothed and smiling young Clarke. Others with an older Clarke, a graduation photo from high school, many with her parents in different settings. There were also some beautiful paintings and charcoal drawings hung on the walls amidst the pictures, and it was those that caught Lexa's attention.

Clarke turned around to see what Lexa was looking at and blushed furiously. "Oh God," she moaned. "Please don't look at the baby photos."

"You were a very cute child, Clarke," Lexa observed. "It is no wonder your parents want to keep these on display. However, I’m more interested in the paintings and drawings. They’re beautiful, but I can't see an artist's name on them anywhere. Who made them?"

Clarke blushed again, even deeper than before. Her ears turning so red and so hot that Clarke was sure they would burst into flames. Thankfully, Lexa didn't notice as she was still examining a charcoal drawing of a forest under a starry night sky.

"I especially like this one," Lexa commented, pointing at the artwork in question and turning to Clarke.

"I did," Clarke quietly said, looking away down the hall.

"Pardon?" Lexa asked, not sure she heard the quiet response.

Clarke looked back at Lexa and repeated softly, "I made them. They're all mine; my parents won't stop putting them up on the wall."

Lexa's jaw dropped open as she stared at Clarke in amazement. "Clarke," she whispered, "you did all of these? They're amazing. You are incredibly talented," Lexa finished in awe.

Clarke felt a buzzing inside her chest, and heat suffused her body as she listened to the praise coming from Lexa. Many different people had told her she was talented and that they liked her art, but it seemed to mean more coming from Lexa. Clarke dipped her head and mumbled an embarrassed "Thank you.”

Clarke looked up again at Lexa and got caught in her brilliant eyes once again. She searched those eyes and saw what she thought was hope and possibly affection, but behind it all a hint of pain. Clarke wanted nothing else than to be able to take that pain away. Clarke got lost in the green of Lexa's eyes, reading her like she had never read anyone before; like she had been reading her all her life. Looking into Lexa's eyes, was like picking up a well-loved, long-lost book, and rediscovering the joy between the pages. Clarke felt as though she knew Lexa at her core; who Lexa was, who she was, who she will always be, and it made Clarke's heart twist in her chest with the duality of the knowledge and the incomprehensibility of such knowledge.

For her part, Lexa was completely unaware of what she was revealing in her eyes, too lost in the azure depths of Clarke's to care. What she did register was that she felt as though Clarke was truly seeing her, right through to her very soul. Not the woman who was broken and trying to find her way back to the light, but seeing her - Lexa. Who she might have been had things been different, who she might still become. She felt as though Clarke was her light - her beacon, guiding her away from the darkness of her past.

She could feel her heart rate increase and could hear the blood pounding in her ears, blocking out any other sound. Lexa's vision had narrowed so that she could only see Clarke, and just as she felt Clarke saw her, she felt as though she saw Clarke and a feeling of knowing swept over her being and took her breath away. Clarke's eyes spoke of stories that crossed the ages, and Lexa saw herself in each of those stories.

They may have been standing there for hours, or perhaps only moments; time meant nothing. Lexa's breath started to come in short gasps like she had just finished a set of sprints, and she began to feel light-headed. She was abruptly jolted back to reality as felt herself start to sway and had to reach out a hand to steady herself against the wall, never losing eye contact with Clarke. She watched Clarke physically shake herself and close her eyes for a second, before looking back up at Lexa, awe and confusion warring for dominance in her eyes.

Lexa still had a hand against the wall, steadying her, and she could see Clarke shaking, as if cold, in front of her. Without thinking, Lexa pushed off the wall and with one small step reached Clarke and wrapped her trembling arms around Clarke's waist, and pulled her in close to her. It only took a moment before Clarke brought her arms up and wrapped them tightly around Lexa's shoulders, pulling them impossibly closer and buried her head in Lexa's neck. Lexa let out a stuttering sigh at the same time as Clarke did, her breath tickling across Lexa's collarbone.

Lexa's whole body felt as though there was a live current running through it, and she thrummed with energy. Every spot that was in contact with Clarke was on fire, jolts of electricity jumping between them. Never had Lexa been held like this and she didn't know what to make of it. Yes, she had been hugged before, but the memory of those touches was faded with time and buried in pain, but she knew it was never like this. Lexa felt as if she had come home; being in Clarke's arms was like home - comfortable and safe. The profundity of this revelation shook Lexa to the core, it had been years since she felt anything like it, and never this deeply.

Clarke had no idea what was going on. She was confused and wound as tight as a spring, but she did not want to move. Her body was on fire, and she was drowning in the scent that was Lexa. It was a clean smell, hints of whatever soap Lexa had used that day, but underneath it all was something else. Something Clarke couldn't put her finger on, but it reminded her of vast open spaces and clean air, forests, and rain filled skies, all overlaid with a hint of smoke. She felt as though she could live in that scent forever trying to pin it all down and be completely happy.

They stood, trembling, holding each other tightly in the hallway, neither aware of the passage of time. Finally, Lexa loosened her grip on Clarke's waist, Clarke pulling her arms from Lexa's shoulders at almost the same moment. They looked away from each other, suddenly shy and took a step back.

Clarke cleared her throat and pointed a thumb over her shoulder. "Um, we better get back. The girls will send out a search party soon."

Lexa nodded but stayed rooted to the spot, looking again at the charcoal drawing of the forest.

Clarke again felt the familiar warmth in her chest as she observed Lexa admiring her artwork. She smiled and reached out and put her hand on Lexa's arm. The brunette immediately tore her eyes away from the drawing and down to Clarke's hand on her arm, then back up to Clarke's face, who was also regarding her hand on Lexa’s arm.

"We should talk later," Clarke said, looking up with a wry smile. "I remembered something from the hospital, just now. Something you neglected to tell me," Clarke finished in a teasing tone.

Lexa regarded Clarke solemnly before dropping her eyes and offering up a shy smile and nodding again, not trusting her voice with the sudden tightness she felt there.

Clarke squeezed her arm gently and then stepped past Lexa and into the bathroom. She closed the door and then stood in front of the mirror, gripping the edge of the sink for a moment, trying to control the fluttering of her stomach and calm the torrent of thoughts colliding in her head.

Outside the closed bathroom door, Lexa placed both hands on the wall and leaned forward until her forehead pressed against the cold wall, between two photos of a pre-teen Clarke. She took a shuddering breath, pushed herself away from the wall and looked at the ceiling, blinking back the tears that were threatening to fall. She managed to pull herself together, just as Clarke exited the bathroom.

Clarke stopped, surprised to see Lexa still standing in the hallway. "Are you okay, Lex?" Clarke asked softly coming to stand next to her.

Lexa looked over at Clarke and sighed deeply. "Clarke. I think I might be more okay than I have been in a really, really long time," Lexa said honestly with a small half smile before heading back towards the living room and their friends, leaving a bemused Clarke to follow along behind a few moments later.


I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) https://youtu.be/ggu0ZqqBq4k

I’d Rather Be With You – Joshua Radin https://youtu.be/aAJfhZamFmo

Chapter Text

Clarke strolled back into the living room a few steps behind Lexa and tried to ignore the pointed looks thrown at her by her friends. Raven not so subtly checked her watch and then looked back at Clarke with raised eyebrows. Clarke just glared back at her and shook her head minutely.

 

Clarke and Lexa made their way back to the couch and got comfortable. If they were sitting closer to each other than they were previously, no one commented on it.

 

They had missed the start of the third period, but someone had collected more snacks, and there were more drinks on the table as well.  Clarke decided to forgo the beer and drink water instead, not wanting to risk doing or saying anything inappropriate to the woman sitting next to her.  So she excused herself and grabbed the unopened beer from the table and headed to the kitchen to exchange it for a glass of water.

 

As Clarke closed the fridge door after returning the beer, she started slightly to see Raven standing at the end of the island staring at her, arms crossed and brow quirked.

 

Clarke shot her a glance before moving to the cupboard to collect a glass. "Yes?" Clarke queried.

 

"You and the Commander were gone for quite a while," Raven stated with a smirk. "What took you so long?"

 

"I ran into her, literally, in the hallway on the way to the bathroom. Then she noticed my art on the wall, so we were talking about that for a bit," Clarke shared.

 

"That's it?" Raven asked.

 

"For the most part," Clarke responded, hoping her friend would leave it there. No such luck, though.

 

"For the most part?" Raven repeated, raising both brows and taking a step closer to Clarke.

 

Clarke sighed, resigned to the fact that her friend wouldn't let up until she spilled it all. "I don't know Rae.  It was weird. We were talking about how my parents put up everything I draw and our eyes met, and I got lost."

 

"What do you mean you got lost?" Raven asked.

 

"I don't know!" Clarke said, frustrated, throwing her hands in the air. "It was like time stood still and I was looking into her soul. Like I knew her better than I've ever known anyone. Like I’ve known her all my life. Like I’ve known her forever, through many different lives, but it was always Lexa..." Clarke trailed off with a look of surprise on her face as she realized what she had just said.

 

Raven was also standing in front of Clarke with her mouth agape. She snapped her mouth shut and coughed slightly before confronting Clarke. "Are you talking about reincarnation? Past lives and all that shit? Because that’s whacked, Clarke."

 

Clarke just looked at Raven and shook her head. "Hell if I know, Rae. I've never been the type to fall into that sort of thing, not something I've ever really thought about being a possibility.  However, I can't deny what I just felt. How I still feel." Clarke shrugged, looking at her friend, willing her to understand.

 

“Perhaps your head is still messed up from all those pain meds,” Raven said with a smirk.

 

Clarke just glared at her and shook her head, “I haven’t been on the meds for over a week.”

 

"Okay," Raven breathed out. "What was Lexa doing while you were 'lost'?"

 

Clarke shifted and looked down, "I'm not sure what was going through her mind, or what she felt when we were looking at each other. But then my legs started to shake; my whole body was trembling, and I was sure I was about to faint."

 

Clarke looked up at Raven, a look of awe on her face. "Before I could even register what was happening, Lexa had stepped in and wrapped me up in the best hug I’ve ever had."

 

She sighed. "It was like I was home, Rae. I felt safe, more comfortable than I have ever been. I could tell she was trembling too, and we just hung on to each other like our lives depended on it." Clarke looked at Raven, vulnerable and open.

 

Raven swallowed and shook her head. "Holy shit, Clarke. That's intense."

 

Clarke just nodded. "What do I do? I’ve never felt like this about anyone. It's more than just thinking about her all the time.  I feel complete just sitting next to her. I miss her, just being in here away from her. I've only known she's existed for less than three weeks! It is a dichotomy of massive proportions," Clarke exclaimed. "I know next to nothing about her, yet I feel as though I’ve known her forever! I don't have any idea where to go from here.  How do I approach this? What do I do?"

 

Raven sighed, "Wow. Maybe you need to have a conversation with Lexa, Clarke. You need to see if she's on the same page as you."

 

"But what if she's not? What if my perception of this is all me - that I'm the only one feeling like this? What if I scare her away? I don't want to end, potentially, something that hasn't had a chance to start." Clarke lamented. "If there is one thing I know for sure right now, it's that I need this woman in my life in whatever capacity she’s willing to be in it. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize this budding friendship by expressing the feelings I’m experiencing." Clarke paused before continuing, "and then there's what Anya said to me."

 

Raven perked up at the mention of the older woman. "What? What did Anya say?"

 

"She told me that she could tell that I liked Lexa and that I needed to be patient with her.  Then she essentially gave me the 'best friend' talk - and Lexa and I aren't even together.  It was very confusing," Clarke said with a frown.

 

"Well, maybe she knows something you don't, about how Lexa is feeling," Raven offered.

 

Clarke was about to respond when they heard Octavia yell from the other room. "Yo, Griffin! Reyes! What the hell are you two doing in there? Get your asses out here!"

 

Clarke and Raven grimaced at each other, and Raven looked at her watch before whispering, "Shit, we've been in here for over 10 minutes."

 

Clarke finished filling up her water glass and then grabbed a second one for Lexa and the two girls made their way back to the living room.

 

Once again, the moment Clarke entered the room, Lexa's eyes found hers and Clarke sent her a soft smile.  As she approached the couch, Clarke held out a glass of water and offered it to Lexa who accepted with a short nod of thanks.

 

"It's still pretty early," Clarke said in way of explanation, "and I thought a water break might be nice since we still have a lot of evening left."

 

"That is very prudent, Clarke. Thank you," Lexa replied.

 

Clarke nodded and settled back into the couch. "What'd I miss?" she asked, jutting her chin out towards the TV.

 

"Not much," Lexa responded. "It's not a very exciting game. Sweden has taken to clogging the middle and playing tighter defense, at the expense of offense, to protect their lead and the US can't seem to get anything going.  They've only had a couple of chances so far this period, but unless something miraculous happens, I think Sweden might take this one."

 

After watching for several minutes in silence, Clarke nudged Lexa and nodded at the screen, "I think you might be right."

 

Lexa hummed a soft "hmmm" that sent an inexplicable tremor through Clarke's chest as if the sound reverberated in the depths of Clarke's chest as well as Lexa's. For about the hundredth time since Clarke had met Lexa, she wondered what the hell was going on, and why she reacted like she did when in the presence of the beautiful brunette. Clarke had been attracted to beautiful women before; she had even dated a few who were, without a doubt, gorgeous. One, she even dated for a few months, but none of them affected her the way Lexa did.

 

As Clarke tried to calm her rambling mind, the hockey game came to a close, with Sweden maintaining their one goal lead. Raven got up and turned off the TV with a disgusted grunt, mumbling something about heads up asses and picking it up a notch for the next game. Octavia started cleaning up empties and carried them to the kitchen before Clarke was even aware that the match was over. Clarke shook her head slightly, furrowed her brow and blinked a few times trying to shake free the morass of thoughts from her mind, or at least into some sort of order. She felt a soft touch on her arm and looked over at Lexa, blinking a few more times, and registered the concern on the brunette's face.

 

"Are you okay, Clarke?" she asked, removing her hand once she had gotten Clarke's attention.

 

"Oh! Oh, yes. Sorry. I was thinking," Clarke said, blushing slightly and looking down at the floor.

 

Lexa smiled crookedly, thinking that a blushing Clarke was one of the cutest things she had ever seen. "You seem to do that a lot," Lexa said.

 

Clarke looked up and right into Lexa's piercing green gaze. Her breath caught, and she blushed even harder. "Uh, yeah," Clarke coughed and tore her gaze away from Lexa's. She looked off towards the kitchen, where she could see her friends and Anya tidying up the snacks. Clarke turned to look back at Lexa but found it hard to hold her gaze as she continued, "I'm not usually such a space cadet. I'm usually much more present than this; I assure you. I'm sorry if I'm a horrible host," Clarke finished in a rush.

 

Lexa quickly shook her head. "You’re not a horrible host, Clarke." Lexa smiled and added, "Plus, that game was dismally dull, it's no wonder you decided to think about something else. I'm just glad you're okay."

 

"Yeah, okay, thanks. I am. Okay, I mean," Clarke rambled. She coughed again and then stood up abruptly. She tossed her thumb over her shoulder in the direction of the kitchen where she could hear the beginnings of an argument. "We had better get in there and help solve the 'what to order for dinner' discussion I hear starting."

 

Lexa looked at Clarke carefully for a beat before nodding and standing up and following the already departed Clarke to the kitchen.

 


 

Dinner was decided relatively quickly once Clarke and Lexa entered the kitchen and added their vote for pizza and wings to Octavia and Anya's, leaving Raven to scowl and complain that they never tried anything new. Clarke laughed and promised they would try the new Tandoori Palace next time.

 

Clarke pulled out some board games and set them on the coffee table as the five women gathered around and started looking through the offerings trying to decide which to play first.

 

"Oh my God!" Lexa exclaimed. "Is that what I think it is? Oceanopoly!"

 

Clarke laughed. "You've seen this game before? I thought my parents were the only ones dorky enough to get this for me."

 

"I've played it before, yes," Lexa replied, opening the box and looking inside. "It's been years, but I remember how awesome I thought it was - an excellent adaptation of Monopoly."

 

Raven grabbed the rest of the games off the table and set them on the floor out of the way. "Well, it looks like Lexa has made our choice," she said with a chuckle.

 

Lexa grinned and placed the game on the table, sorting through the pieces, holding up a small metallic squid, "this one's me," she happily announced as she passed the bag of playing pieces to Clarke.

 

Clarke smiled as she chose the sea star piece, at the genuine joy radiating from Lexa. Octavia took the seahorse, Raven the shark fin and Anya, the crab. They set up the board, handed out the sea dollars to get started and launched into a surprisingly aggressive game. Anya accused Raven of cheating on more than one occasion merely because she was the banker, which Raven vehemently denied with indignant outrage. 

 

Over an hour and a half later, with a short break to pay for the pizza when it arrived, Lexa managed to win the game having the monopoly of ocean property and watching in glee as Anya landed on her Blue Whale property, surrounded by big fish. Anya threw the last of her sand dollars at Lexa in disgust, "It is unfair how cut-throat and good at this game you are" she shot at her friend.

 

Lexa smirked as she collected the money. "Being a business major has its perks," she said saucily.

 

Clarke, Raven, and Octavia had gone bankrupt several turns before, so Anya was that last holdout to Lexa's imminent takeover. The girls congratulated Lexa on her dominating win once Anya fell, and cleaned off the table.  It was still early, so they played rock, paper, scissors for the right to pick the next game. Raven won and promptly chose Creationary, causing Octavia to groan.

 

Lexa raised her brows, looking at the box with interest, "What's that one?"

 

Clarke grinned, "Oh Raven, you are not going easy on our guests tonight, are you?"

 

Raven smirked back. "After the thrashing, Lexa just gave us in Oceanopoly; I thought it was fair to return the favor."

 

"We have an odd number, though," Octavia observed. "We need partners."

 

"Well," Raven said thoughtfully, "Clarke and I could go together against the three of you."

 

"Ha! No way! Nice try Reyes," Octavia shot back.

 

"Will someone please tell me what this game is," Anya finally asked.

 

"It's like Pictionary, but instead of drawing, you build things out of Lego," Octavia offered. "We stopped playing Pictionary because no one could beat Clarke, but this is just as bad because they’re both engineers, and their brains are like, psychically linked or something with this game. Do not let them play together," she finished forcibly.

 

"That's fine," Raven said nonchalantly. "I can play with anyone; we'll still kick ass."

 

Clarke snorted and rolled her eyes. "We'll see, Reyes, we'll see."

 

"Well that's all well and good," Octavia said. "What about the third person?"

 

"We could have a floater?" Clarke suggested.

 

"A what?" Octavia asked, confused.

 

"A floater. One person who can guess or build for both teams, but has to pick a team for the duration of the turn," Clarke clarified. "Or that person could just alternate between teams every turn. The bonus would be that regardless of which team won, that person could claim to be on the winning team," she added as an incentive.

 

It worked because Octavia perked up and said, "That seems like my kind of offer. I'm in. Unless anyone one else wants it," she asked looking at Lexa and Anya.

 

Both girls shook their heads, and Clarke smiled. "Looks like you are an automatic winner already, O."

 

"I've been telling you I’m a winner for years, Clarke," Octavia sassed. "This just proves it - again."

 

The girls all laughed, and Clarke looked at Lexa. "Be my partner?"

 

Lexa nodded and shifted closer to Clarke's side of the table.

 

"I guess that leaves you with me, General," Raven said to Anya. "Get ready to be amazed at my Lego creation ability."

 

Anya rolled her eyes at the brunette's use of 'General', but was secretly pleased by the moniker. "If I must," she grouched, trying to hide a smirk as she too shuffled over so that she was at Raven's side of the table.

 

"Who are you going to start with, O?" Clarke asked.

 

"I'll start with whoever builds first," Octavia announced.

 

They decided to let the next birthday start first, and it turned out that Anya's was up next, so she and Raven, with Octavia's help, started the game. Raven declared that to demonstrate how the game worked; she would build first. Clarke shuffled the cards and handed the top one to Raven. Raven rolled the dice and got the miscellaneous category and let everyone know that it wouldn't be nature, buildings or vehicles, but could be anything else. Clarke gave her a few seconds to read the card and think and then turned over the timer. Raven immediately grabbed some bricks from the pile and started snapping pieces together.  Twenty seconds later, she picked up the creation and brandished it in her teammate's faces, with a look of expectation.

 

"A pole?"

"An ax?"

"Stick?"

"Knife?"

 

Raven's look of expectation, slowly began to morph into one of frustration, and she quickly added a piece to her creation and showed it to her team again, glancing worriedly at the timer as the sand started to wind down.

 

"A pick ax!" Octavia yelled.

 

Raven shook her head and thrust it at them again.

 

"A shovel!" Anya hollered, just as time ran out.

 

Raven fist pumped in the air, and high-fived Anya. "Yaaasssss! Finally."

 

"Well, that was a close one, Rae," Clarke remarked. "You squeaked that one in under the wire. Okay, it's our turn. Ready, Lex?" Clarke asked as she turned to regard her partner.

 

Lexa was nervous, she didn't want to let Clarke down, and given the tension, she could feel from the other team after just the first round, she had a feeling she was in for an intense and competitive game. So she nodded and took a deep breath.

 

"Do you want to guess or build?" Clarke asked.

 

Lexa thought about it for a moment, "I'll guess first if that's okay?"

 

"Totally fine," Clarke responded with a smile and handed her the die to roll. Lexa tossed it on the board, and it landed on animals.

 

Octavia handed her a card, and she took a look and grimaced slightly and shot Lexa a look as she rolled her eyes slightly.  It was a more time-consuming build, and would leave Lexa less time to guess, but if she did a good job, then Lexa should be able to get it fairly quickly.

 

Clarke nodded at Raven, who turned over the timer and Clarke immediately starting throwing pieces together, quickly and efficiently. Lexa was peering through Clarke's deftly moving fingers, trying to see what was taking shape, in hopes of getting some idea of what she was constructing. She thought she saw what could be four legs and immediately her mind started thinking about all things it could be. It took only seconds more for her to form and opinion based on what was taking shape, so she decided to take a shot.

 

"Is it a horse?" Lexa threw out.

 

Clarke stopped building and looked at Lexa in surprise, then turned and smirked at Raven holding up the half-finished horse.

 

"Well, shit balls!" Raven exclaimed as Clarke high-fived Lexa, congratulating her on her intuitive guess.

 

 "We’re off to a fantastic start, Lex," Clarke said as she smiled again at the brunette, eyes twinkling. 

 

Lexa grinned back and then looked smugly at Anya. "Your turn," she said sweetly.

 

Anya just scowled at her before taking a card from the top of the pile, while Raven rolled the die. It landed on vehicles and Anya groaned and shook her head, before nodding at Clarke to start the timer, and began snapping pieces together.

 

"A car," Raven yelled.

 

Anya stopped and looked at Raven expectantly, eyebrows raised.

 

"Is it not a car?" Raven asked confused.

 

Anya made a more gesture with her hand and started building another piece onto her vehicle.

 

"Electric car?"

 

Anya shook her head and pointed to the small piece she had extended off the back of the 'car'.

 

"Race car!" Raven yelled.

 

"Yes!" Anya shouted, and again the two women high-fived.

 

"I'm not so sure about all the eye talk and hand gestures that went on in that turn," Octavia said, "but I guess we'll give it to you."

 

"They’re going to need all the help they can get," Clarke said confidently.

 

"Who's building for us?" Clarke asked.

 

Octavia offered to build next, and Clarke rolled buildings. Raven handed Octavia a card, she took a quick look and then nodded for the timer to start.  She quickly started putting together what looked like a small house. Clarke and Lexa threw out a few guesses, but Octavia just shook her head and kept building. As time was about to run out, she added a small dish like object outside the small opening to the house, and it finally clicked for Clarke, and she yelled out "doghouse!" just as the last grain of sand fell from the timer.

 

"Phew. That was close," Octavia breathed out. "Two - two. Your turn Raven. Want me to build again?"

 

"No, I got this," Raven responded. "We have to bump up a difficulty level now right?"

 

"Yep, roll away Anya," Clarke smirked.

 

Anya landed miscellaneous again, Raven grabbed a card and grinned. "Easy," she said confidently. "You guess with us right, O?"

 

"No, I'm sticking with Clarke and Lexa this turn. I'll come back to you next turn," Octavia said.

 

"Whatever. Here we go, General," Raven said.

 

Raven had to build a frying pan, and Anya just couldn't get it, shouting out guesses such as: “ping-pong paddle, tennis racquet” and even “golf-club.”

 

Clarke chuckled, "no one would have been able to guess it was a frying pan, Anya, don't worry about it."

 

"Oh, shut it, Griffin, and take your turn," Raven retorted.

 

Octavia rolled buildings, and Lexa picked up the card and a smirk crossed her face.  She locked eyes with Clarke briefly, giving her a brief nod. Clarke grinned back, and Lexa nodded to Raven to flip the timer.

 

She immediately picked up a small flat piece and started putting an edge around it. She then placed two slanting open pieces, one at each end.  As soon as she set the first one, and a large smile graced Clarke's face and she waggled her eyebrows at Octavia, who laughed as the realization hit her.  As soon as Lexa placed the second slanted piece, both Clarke and Octavia yelled out in unison, "Hockey rink!"

 

"Shit!" Raven and Anya hollered at the same time. "That was too easy. Are you sure it was in the medium difficulty pile?" she asked as she reached out to check the card. She sighed as she placed the card back down, looking dejectedly at Anya, "it's legit."

 

We’re up three to two," Clarke sniggered.

 

Anya took her turn, building a panda, which Octavia immediately guessed after Raven yelled "Bear!"

 

Clarke created an airplane next, which was only half-finished before Lexa guessed correctly.

 

They went into the third and final round with the score four to three. Clarke explained that the next round included the most complicated builds and they also included the mystery square on the die which meant that the builder could create anything they wanted.

 

The third round started with Octavia building for Raven and Anya. She got nature and had to build a log, which the other two managed to put together in the nick of time. Lexa constructed the Statue of Liberty and once again, Clarke managed to guess with lots of time left, Raven just shook her head.

 

The last round saw Anya building for Raven in a must-win situation, or Clarke's team would automatically win, given they were already a point ahead and had the last turn. She got binoculars, which Raven managed to guess right away and it came down to Lexa building once again, for the win.

 

Clarke rolled the mystery square, so Lexa took a moment to think about what to build, it came to her in a flash, and she nodded at Raven to begin.  She built quickly and confidently, and Clarke and Octavia sat quietly and waited a bit until Lexa was ready to show them. When she finally revealed her creation, Clarke glanced up at her with a shy smile and Octavia glanced between them both with a smirk on her face before hollering out, "Guitar!"

 

"Damn!" Raven exclaimed, "That was an excellent guitar, Lexa. Even Anya could have gotten that one," she said with a smirk.

 

Anya frowned and swatted the younger woman on the shoulder, "Hey! See if I'm ever your partner again!"

 

"Oh, you'll be my partner for lots of things, General," Raven softly said out of the side of her mouth, so that only Anya could hear her.

 

Anya's mouth dropped open, and her eyes went a little wide before she recovered, but she could do nothing about the blush that was creeping up her neck, so she just coughed and turned to help clean up the game.

 

By the time they had cleaned up, put away the games, and replenished their drinks and snacks, it was almost 10 pm. 

 

"We have time for a movie before we ring in the New Year if everyone is okay with that" Clarke suggested.

 

“Why don’t we just watch Ryan Seacrest and Dick Clark do the countdown?” Octavia asked.

 

“Because it’s boring, O,” Raven retorted. “Dick Clark looks like a wax mannequin and the sound is always awful. The bands aren’t even that great this year.”

 

“She’s right, O,” Clarke agreed. “Every time I watch the New Year’s Eve special, I’m always disappointed.”

 

“I have to agree,” Anya said apologetically, looking at Octavia.

 

“Ugh,” Octavia groaned. “Lex? Help a sister out?”

 

“I’m sorry, Octavia,” Lexa said with a smile. “Even if I do want to watch the special, we would still be outnumbered.”

 

“Yeah, but if you wanted to watch it, Clarke would let you,” Octavia huffed under her breath.

 

Clarke was the only one close enough to the small brunette to hear her muttered comment, and she reached out and smacked her friend on the shoulder. “Octavia!” she said in a harsh whisper.

 

“What? You know it’s true,” she whispered back before raising her voice and addressing the group. “Fine, spoilsports. I get to pick the movie.”

 

After a round of agreements, Octavia decided on the earthquake disaster movie, San Andreas, as no one had yet seen it.  They pulled it up on Netflix, made some popcorn and settled in to waste away the last few hours until midnight.

 

Raven lost no time, settling in next to Anya on the couch, Octavia reclaimed her seat in the arm chair and Clarke grabbed a couple of cushions and sat on the floor, leaning against the back of the sofa. She looked up at Lexa and patted the space next to her as she grabbed another cushion and placed in on the floor beside her. Lexa gave her a small smile and joined her, making herself as comfortable as possible, thinking that she would happily sit in the most uncomfortable of places as long as she could sit next to Clarke.

 

The movie started, and it didn't take long before Clarke was bunched up in anxiety, with a hand across her mouth and her other hand reflexively reaching for Lexa's arm on occasion. Lexa thought that she had never enjoyed a movie quite so much. She kept sneaking glances at the blonde woman next to her, enjoying Clarke's reactions to the action in the film more than the film itself.

 

The movie reached its destructive climax, and the tension started to ease in Clarke's body, and she finally relaxed against the side of the couch, her hand resting on the floor between hers and Lexa's bodies. Lexa let her hand fall to the ground beside her as well, and was pleased when she felt Clarke shift slightly so that their pinky fingers were just barely touching. Lexa was tempted to move even further, to feel even more of Clarke's hand against her own, but resisted, her heart pounding in her chest. She glanced over to see Clarke staring at her, eyes wide and so, so blue. Clarke smiled at Lexa, and the brunette's breath hitched in her throat, and she felt as though her heart was going to beat right out of her chest. She gave Clarke a shaky smile back, wondering again at her body's reaction to the beautiful blonde. Clarke stretched her pinky over Lexa's and squeezed slightly and then looked back to the TV, leaving her pinky atop of Lexa's.

 

Lincoln showed up at 11:45, with about 5 minutes remaining in the show. Octavia got up to let him in, then led him back to her chair where she climbed into his lap as Raven released the show from pause after they got settled. Lincoln noted how close Lexa and Clarke were sitting together, and smiled to himself, hoping that his cousin was allowing herself to be happy.

 

The show ended, and they quickly changed the channel to the Times Square countdown clock. Clarke ran to the kitchen and with Lexa's help, grabbed the bottle of champagne from the fridge and six champagne flutes from the counter where she had placed them earlier. They walked back into the living room with about two minutes to spare, and Clarke started unwrapping the bottle and prepped the cork for release at the proper moment, as Lexa handed out a glass to everyone. The six friends, both old and new, gathered around the TV in anticipation of the final countdown. When it hit 10 seconds, they all started counting down out loud, jumping up and down when they hit one, and yelling 'Happy New Year' when it finally hit zero.  Clarke popped the cork on the champagne and poured some bubbly into everyone's glass, and they all raised them in a toast.

 

Clarke wondered briefly what her father was doing in Orlando right now, whether he was in bed, or buried in his lab. She hoped he was out celebrating with someone, and not alone. She knew her mother wasn’t alone and was probably up to her elbows in drunk fools vying for this year’s Darwin award. She smiled at the thought and refocused on her friends.

 

"To old friends," Clarke said saluting Octavia and Raven, "and new ones," she continued in Lincoln, Anya, and finally Lexa's direction. Her eyes never left the brunette's as she said, "I'm glad you could all be here with me tonight."

 

The rest of the group raised their glasses and repeated in unison, "To friends!" at which point they all took a sip of their champagne and then started to hug each other. Raven stepped into Clarke and Anya into Lexa for hugs and kisses on cheeks, while Octavia jumped into Lincoln and wrapped her legs around his waist as they locked lips. Octavia jumped down and moved over to Clarke as Lexa hugged Lincoln, and Raven and Anya stood looking at each other.

 

"Fuck it," Raven said, stepping in and grabbing Anya by the back of the neck and pulling her in for a kiss. Anya hesitated for a moment, surprised, before reaching her arms around Raven's waist and kissing her back. 

 

They separated a minute later to see their four friends regarding them with varying degrees of amusement and shock. Raven shrugged and moved over to a stunned Lexa and wrapped her up in a hug, while Lincoln and Clarke, and Octavia and Anya greeted each other more sedately. Finally, Raven and Octavia laughed and wrapped each other up, and Lincoln and Anya did the same, leaving Clarke standing in front of a fidgeting Lexa.

 

"Happy New Year, Lex," Clarke softly said, staring into the brunette's green eyes.

 

Lexa took a deep breath and breathed out, "Happy New Year, Clarke."

 

Clarke shifted slightly, wishing she could be as bold as Raven, but knowing on another, deeper, level that it wasn't yet time for that. So she opened her arms and tilted her head to the side, inviting Lexa in for a hug. Lexa hesitated only briefly before stepping inside Clarke's arms, feeling them close around her a moment later. Lexa wrapped her arms around Clarke's shoulders and marveled at how well their bodies fit together; Clarke seemed to melt into Lexa's embrace, and Lexa could feel herself doing the same. They held each other close for a few heartbeats, and then Clarke squeezed a bit tighter and began to draw away. She leaned out slightly and placed a chaste kiss on Lexa's right cheekbone, lingering just slightly longer than she should have. Lexa's breath caught, she could feel her respiration increase and the blood pound in her head as she felt Clarke lean into her again and whisper softly into her ear, "Thank you for coming tonight."

 

Lexa squeezed Clarke slightly and nodded, not quite trusting herself to speak just yet. Her cheek was still tingling where Clarke's soft lips had left their mark, and she desperately wanted to return the favor, so she turned her head and placed a quick kiss on Clarke's cheek before whispering back, "Thank you for inviting me. I had a very good time."

 

They released each other and stepped back, watching each other carefully. Clarke finally broke eye contact when she heard Raven ask for more 'champers,' giving Lexa a small smile before moving over a couple of steps to the group of friends around the champagne bottle, Lexa following close behind.

 

They each had another small glass, making small talk for a few minutes and then decided to call it a night. They made plans to meet at the coffee shop the next day, Lincoln confirming that he could join them as well.  He offered to drop Octavia off at home, so they thanked Clarke and left first. Anya and Lexa said their good-byes next. Anya, making her way over to Raven for another quick hug and a kiss good-bye, while Lexa and Clarke stood content just to stare at each other, both feeling as though they were saying more in that look than either could comprehend.

 

Clarke finally moved forward and gave Lexa a quick squeeze and stepped back again before the other woman even had a chance to react.

 

"Thank you again, for agreeing to come tonight," Clarke started, seeing Anya and Raven making their way towards them. She turned to address the imposing blonde, "Thank you for having agreed to come as well, Anya.  It was great meeting you."

 

"It was my pleasure, Clarke," Anya replied, looking at Raven with a smile.

 

"I, for one, am looking forward to our coffee extravaganza tomorrow," Raven quipped. "I get to hang with you all again and prove a point. Doesn't get much better than that," she finished in satisfaction.

 

Clarke rolled her eyes, gave Raven a hug and thanked her for coming. She then quickly hugged Anya and turned back to Lexa as the other two girls headed out the door.

 

"I'm looking forward to tomorrow as well," Clarke murmured, looking up into eyes that shone back at her.

 

"Me too," Lexa whispered back. "Good night, Clarke," she added as she turned to head out.

 

"Drive safe, Lexa," Clarke replied as she left.

 

Clarke watched her friends load up into their respective cars and drive away before she closed the door and made her way upstairs to prepare for bed.  She felt like a teenager, one that didn't want to wash her face and wipe away any trace of the kiss she could still feel on her face. She reached up and stroked down her the side of her face, reliving the moment she felt Lexa's head turn and the feel of her soft lips against her cheek. She smiled to herself and decided that for just tonight, she wouldn't wash her face. So, she brushed her teeth and then crawled into bed and immediately fell into happy dreams that consisted of green eyes and soft lips.

Chapter Text

 

The next day, Clarke spent an inordinate amount of time getting ready, stressing over what to wear to meet everyone (Lexa).

 

Griff: Rae! What do I wear? What are u wearing?

 

Rae: Just wear what you would wear if Lexa weren't coming

 

Griff: What?

 

Rae: U r only stressing about this because the Commander will be there - just be yourself

 

Griff: Are you telling me you are not worried about what to wear?

 

Rae: Why would I?

 

Griff: bc Anya is going to be there? General Hotstuff? Cheekbones?

 

Rae: Whatever. I am so not worried about that

 

O: don't let her fool u Clarke, I have been here for an hour, and she still hasn't decided what to wear ;)

 

Griff: Ha! I knew it, not so cool after all Reyes

 

Rae: I have no idea what you are talking about...

 

Rae: also, I hate you both

 

O: I'm currently hiding because she just threatened to kill me...save me, Clarke!

 

Rae: I will find you O. This apartment is not that big

 

O: already gone Reyes. Good luck with your outfit ;)

 

Griff: If she doesn't appreciate you, O. Come help me!

 

O: On my way Clarkey

 

O: See you in a bit Rae

 

Rae: again, I repeat - I hate you both

 

Octavia arrived ten minutes later and entered at Clarke's holler and headed upstairs to the blonde's room. When she stepped into the room, her mouth dropped open as she stared at the mess of clothes strewn around.

 

"Oh my God, Clarke! Are you alive in here, or have you been buried under this mountain of clothes?" Octavia exclaimed after a moment of staring.

 

Clarke emerged from her closet at the sound of Octavia's voice and glanced sheepishly around the room and shrugged her shoulders. She held up two different tops out to Octavia, "I've narrowed it down to these two. What do you think?"

 

"They're both nice. You will look great in either of them," Octavia said.

 

"Not helpful," Clarke said, rolling her eyes.

 

"What pants are you wearing?" Octavia asked.

 

Clarke walked over to the bed and dug under a pile of discarded clothes to grab a new pair of snug-fitting jeans and held them up, pulling off the tags as she did so.

 

"I thought I'd wear these. I got them for Christmas."

 

"They're nice. In that case, go with the sky-blue top. It'll bring out your eyes, and it's got a neckline that will show off your cleavage without looking like you're trying too hard," Octavia smirked.

 

Clarke glared at her, "I am not trying to display my breasts in any way."

 

"Sure. Whatever you say, Clark. But if you didn't want to show off your 'assets', you wouldn't be so worried about what to wear," Octavia responded, looking pointedly at Clarke.

 

"I just...I want to look good for her, O," Clarke said wistfully.

 

"I'm pretty sure you could show up in a sack, and she'd still think you looked beautiful, Clarke," Octavia offered. "The way she was looking at you last night..."

 

"What?" Clarke asked, focusing on her friend. "How was she looking at me?"

 

"Like she was trying to solve a puzzle, most of the time," Octavia said with a shrug. "A mysterious, complicated problem, but then she would get this look every so often that would transform her face. Like she was on the verge of uncovering the best treasure ever. It was a look of anticipation and longing. It didn't last long, but I caught it a couple of times."

 

"Really?" Clarke asked in awe. "What do you think that means?"

 

"I don't know her well enough to say for sure, but if I had to guess, I'd say she was into you. Which is a good thing, because you have got it bad, my friend," Octavia stated with a smile.

 

Clarke blushed and nodded, not bothering to deny her friend's observation. She quickly got dressed, pulling her hair back into a quick bun, and applied minimal makeup to complete her look.

 

"It's kind of gross, how little you have to do to look beautiful," Octavia grouched at Clarke as she exited the bathroom.

 

"I love you too," Clarke responded with a smile and soft swat to the brunette's shoulder. "Let's go. I don't want to be late. Want to ride with me?"

 

"Sure. Then maybe, I can convince Lincoln to give me a ride back here later," Octavia said with a far-away look in her eye.

 

"Ha! And you think I've got it bad. Your heart eyes for that man take up your whole face!" Clarke laughed. "Though his are almost as big when he looks at you. You two are sickeningly cute together."

 

Octavia sighed dreamily, "I know. He's so amazing, Clarke. I will forever be in your debt."

 

Clarke looked at her in surprise. "Why?"

 

"Because, if you hadn't invited the Grounders out to pizza after our last game, then he wouldn't have come and I wouldn't have met him," Octavia said seriously.

 

"You don't think that you would have met him some other way?" Clarke asked thoughtfully. "That if the two of you are meant to be together, you wouldn't have wound up in the same place, at the same time, at some point?"

 

"Are you talking about destiny? Or fate?" Octavia asked curiously. "I've never given it much thought, but I guess it's possible. I'm still grateful to you, though."

 

Clarke smiled at her. "Glad I could help, O. I hope you're blissfully happy and make beautiful babies together," she teased.

 

"Me too," Octavia replied wistfully to a surprised Clarke, who had expected more of a biting comeback.

 

She smiled at Octavia again and offered her hand to help pull her off the bed. "Let's go."


The group of friends met up at the local coffee shop, The Drop Ship, for a late lunch. Octavia and Clarke were the first to arrive, so they went in and grabbed the group's favorite table; a comfy horseshoe shaped booth with a ledge above to hold their extraneous items and a coat hangers hanging off to the side. Clarke looked around and sighed as the familiar comfort of the cozy shop soaked into her bones, the soft refrains of local indie music drifting across the space accentuating the atmosphere without being distracting. Octavia glanced up at a new painting on the wall beside their booth and indicated it with her chin.

 

"That one's new. It's nice, but I still think your art is better," she said casually to Clarke. "You should see if you can get some of your pieces displayed here."

 

Clarke looked up at the painting and took in the mountainous landscape against a sky streaked with gauze-like clouds. She admired the texture and brush-stokes, silently comparing the technique to her own.

 

"Hmmm. Someday, maybe," Clarke offered non-committedly.

 

Raven got there shortly after and threw both of her friends a mock glare before dropping down into a seat next to Octavia.

 

"Wow," Octavia observed, "you clean up nice, Rae. You know this is only coffee, right? Not high tea with the Queen?" she teased.

 

Raven was in tight-fitting black jeans and a red top that hugged in all the right places to show off her curves. She had her hair in her signature ponytail but had spent more time on her makeup than she normally would.

 

Clarke chuckled as Raven scowled and responded with a curt, "Shut up, O. You too, Griffin, you aren't exactly in your Sunday sweats either."

 

Clarke gave her a one-sided shrug and a lopsided smile as she grabbed Raven's gloves and scarf from her and placed them on the ledge behind the booth with hers and Octavia's.

 

"Kane has called a practice for tomorrow at 7am," Octavia informed Clarke.

 

"It's a god-awful time to practice, if you ask me," Raven piped in.

 

"I heard," Clarke said. "He called this morning to let me know. He didn't think I'd be able to participate, but he wanted to let me know about it regardless. I'm going to talk to my mom about it tonight."

 

"Really? You think you're ready to come back?" Raven asked hopefully.

 

"I feel ready, but I'm guessing that my mom isn't going to let me. I'm three weeks into a minimum month-long recovery, so I don't know how receptive she'll be. I'm going to argue that I've been symptom-free for a week, though, so we'll see how it goes," Clarke finished.

 

"If you can't practice, you'd better do something as soon as you can, or your fitness is going to suffer. O and I have been running every other day - but it's not as much fun without you," Raven admitted.

 

"I know," Clarke said. "Not much I can do about it, though, so I'll just have to work harder to catch up to you jokers."

 

Raven was about to retort when the door to the cafe swung open, and the rest of their friends scooted in ahead of a blast of icy wind. Octavia jumped up and waved, and the three newcomers made their way through the maze of tables to the booth in the far corner, unwrapping scarves and pulling off gloves as they came.

 

They approached the table, and the three women stood to greet them, exchanging quick hugs and greetings before settling in around the horseshoe shaped booth. Lincoln had, of course, squeezed in next to Octavia, not so subtly pushing Raven over and closer to Anya. Clarke had shifted as she sat and looked up at Lexa, a clear invitation to sit next to her in her eyes.

 

Lexa was wearing black skinny jeans with a rip across one knee and had on a matching black, long sleeve t-shirt that wrapped snugly around her toned arms and torso. Her hair was down, and loose, with a few small braids plaited in to keep it off her face. She also had gone with minimal makeup.

 

Clarke thought she was gorgeous.

 

Lexa gave her a soft smile and slid in next to Clarke, and then reached up behind her to place her outerwear on the ledge with everyone else's, which caused her shirt to ride up slightly and expose her midriff. Clarke thought she was going to expire right then and there as toned abs and smooth olive skin were in her direct line of sight. She coughed and forced herself to look away and then beamed at the group as Lexa settled beside her before emphatically stating, "Okay, what do we all want?"

 

"Oh, there are no choices here, Clarke. Anya's having cold-brewed coffee, and I'll be gloating when she admits how right I am!" Raven announced.

 

Anya just rolled her eyes and waved in an off-hand manner. "Whatever. We shall see, grease-monkey, we shall see."

 

Raven poked Anya in the shoulder, "Yes, you will. You look good, by the way," Raven said with a smirk as Anya blushed.

 

"Anyone else want in?" Raven asked the rest of the group.

 

"I'll try it," Lincoln answered quickly.

 

"Sure, why not. I'll try anything once," Octavia said with a grin.

 

"Lexa?" Raven asked, getting up.

 

"No, thank you," Lexa responded.

 

"Your loss," Raven said with a shrug. "Clarke, get your girl a drink!" she added with a smirk as she headed to the counter to place the order.

 

Clarke blushed and shot Raven a glare before looking at Lexa apologetically.

 

"Sorry about that," Clarke said, looking at a slightly uncomfortable Lexa. "Raven can be a bit much. Can I get you a tea?"

 

Lexa looked as though she was about to protest, so Clarke quickly added, "Consider it a thank-you for spending your New Year's Eve with me, and an apology for a disastrous party invitation."

 

Lexa regarded Clarke carefully and then nodded her head briefly, "all right, thank you."

 

Clarke smiled at her. "Do you trust me?"

 

Lexa's eyes widened slightly, and she took a quick breath before her mind caught up, as she realized Clarke was still talking about tea. She let out her held breath and nodded at the blonde. Clarke's smile became impossibly bigger, and she got up to get drinks for the two of them.

 

The friends made small talk while they waited for Clarke and Raven to come back. The conversation inevitably turned to hockey, and they were discussing the upcoming World Jr. game between Canada and Finland later that day.

 

"Canada will win," Octavia said with confidence.

 

"The Fins can be unpredictable," Lexa countered. "Canada is going to have to bring their A-game. They totally trashed Denmark after Christmas, but this is going to be tougher."

 

"Hmm," Octavia agreed, nodding. "I still think they'll win, though."

 

Clarke and Raven arrived moments later, Clarke with a steaming tea in each hand, and Raven with a serving tray sporting four heated, cold-brewed coffees. Clarke passed Lexa her tea and then slid in beside her, as Raven handed out the rest of the group's drinks.

 

"I thought this was supposed to be cold," Anya commented as she took the steaming cup from Raven.

 

"It's cold-brewed; brewed with cold water over twelve or more hours. You can drink it cold - it's good, especially in the summer. But it's freezing outside, so I thought hot would be better," Raven explained, sitting down.

 

Raven dumped some sugar packets and a small container of cream on the table, for which Anya immediately reached.

 

"Whoa, slow down there, General," Raven admonished. "This isn't like regular brewed coffee. Try it first before you spoil it with additives."

 

"I'm not a fan of black coffee, Raven," Anya shot back.

 

"Just try it. The reason most people put cream and sugar in their coffee is to mask the bitter taste caused by the fatty acids and oils that leach out in the brewing process. When you brew it with cold water; that same chemical process doesn't happen, and you end up with less acidic coffee. So, not as much bite - so give it a try before you wreck it," Raven explained patiently.

 

Lincoln and Octavia watched with amusement, as Anya lifted her coffee to her lips and took a careful sip. Her eyes widened, and she quickly ducked her head to try to hide her reaction. Raven was already smirking when Anya grudgingly said, "It's all right."

 

Lincoln and Octavia both took quick sips as well and nodded at the smooth, deep caramel and chocolaty flavour.

 

"Ha! You like it!" Raven preened. "Let's hear it; I was right. Come on, give it up," she said, head lowered, eyes closed and holding out her hand closest to Anya and performing a beckoning motion with all four fingers.

 

Anya sighed. "Fine. You were right; cold-brewed coffee is better than regular coffee," she finished rolling her eyes.

 

"Yaaaassss! You all heard it - I'm right. Again!" Raven exalted, giving a little fist pump in the air.

 

"Oh my God," Octavia lamented. "She is going to be insufferable for the rest of the day."

 

Clarke and Lexa had been watching the drama unfold in silence, with no small sense of amusement. Clarke picked up her tea, wrapped both hands around it and brought it to her nose, and inhaled deeply. She blew across the top of the liquid and took a small sip. She let out a little moan of pleasure as she put the cup down on the table and glanced over at Lexa, who was watching her with her mouth slightly open and her eyes wide.

 

Clarke smiled at her, "All right there, Lex?"

 

Lexa blushed furiously, snapped her mouth shut and swallowed thickly. She quickly looked away from Clarke's amused blue eyes and lightly coughed as she nodded and picked up her cup, bringing it to her lips. She was hit immediately with a spicy, sweet scent as she took an experimental sip. Lexa smiled into her cup and took a larger sip before putting it down and looking again at Clarke.

 

"This is excellent; what is it?" Lexa asked, still trying to overcome her embarrassing display moments ago.

 

"It's called Bengal Spice," Clarke responded with a grin, loving the fading pink tinge from Lexa's cheeks. "I'm glad you like it."

 

"I do, thank you," Lexa softly said. "You will have to let me repay the favour someday."

 

Clarke looked into Lexa's eyes and held her gaze before whispering just loud enough for Lexa to hear, "I look forward to that day."

 

Lexa could feel the colour rise in her face again, and she cursed internally at herself for her lack of control around this woman. She managed to hold Clarke's gaze for a few more moments but then had to tear her eyes away as she felt herself falling into those azure depths, much as she had in the hallway of Clarke's home the night before. That whole experience had shaken her to the core, and she wasn't ready to go there again - not yet. She looked back at her cup and picked up the aromatic beverage again in an effort to compose herself.

 

Clarke regarded Lexa for another few heartbeats and then turned her attention to the conversation going on around them. Raven glanced at her with a quirked brow and Clarke just grinned back at her and buried her face in her mug.

 

The friends ordered lunch, consisting of grilled Panini's, hearty vegetable soup and assorted pastries to share, and they ate and chatted companionably for over an hour. The three newcomers fit in well and comfortably with the solid trio of Clarke, Raven, and Octavia, and Clarke was more than pleased with how well everyone seemed to get along.

 

Eventually, the get-together started to wind down, with Lincoln mentioning having to get ready for his volunteer EMT shift later in the evening, and Octavia asking him to drop her off at Clarke's to pick up her car. He agreed, smiling to himself, and a warmth spread through his chest as he realized Octavia wanted to spend more time with him, as she could easily have gone back with Clarke.

 

He looked to Anya and Lexa. "You two coming?"

 

Raven looked at Anya and pursed her lips together. "If you're not in a hurry to get back, I can drop you off in a little while. We could go back to my place and chat some more, or watch a movie or something," she added with a shrug.

 

"Is that okay with you, Lex?" Anya asked her friend.

 

"Sure, go ahead, An. Have fun. I'll see you at home later."

 

Lexa started to get up when she felt Clarke's hand on her arm, and she froze, looking down at the point of contact and then up into Clarke's bright eyes.

 

"Stay? I can drop you off whenever you'd like to go back," Clarke said, hope evident in her eyes.

 

Lexa looked at Lincoln, who smiled and gave her an almost imperceptible nod. Lexa looked back at Clarke, who hadn't taken her eyes off the brunette and gave her a short nod and sat back down, her heart beating out an irregular rhythm when Clarke didn't remove her hand.

 

Lincoln and Octavia said goodbye and walked out of the shop hand in hand, Octavia leaning into Lincoln slightly as they went out.

 

Raven and Anya stayed for a few more minutes, and then they too took their leave, exchanging hugs and good-byes with Clarke and Lexa before they left, walking more closely together than was necessary, even within the tight confines of the shop.

 

Clarke turned to Lexa. "Would you like to take a walk with me? There's a beautiful park across the street."

 

Lexa nodded shyly and reached up to the ledge behind the booth and pulled down their scarves and gloves and handed Clarke hers. They both stood and pulled on their outerwear, Clarke dug into a pocket and produced a sky blue knit cap which she pulled over her blonde locks. She looked up at Lexa and smiled, and the brunette couldn't help the answering smile that blossomed across her face. The cap just served to highlight the incredible blueness of Clarke's eyes and Lexa was captivated once again. Then and there, she decided that the blue of Clarke's eyes was her new favourite colour.

 

Clarke's breath caught when the smile radiated out from Lexa, seeming to brighten the room with its brilliance and making her green eyes brighter. The artist in Clarke itched to draw the perfection she sensed in front of her, and she too decided she had a new favourite colour.

 

The two women stared openly at each other for the space of several heartbeats before simultaneously breaking eye contact. Clarke cleared her throat and stepped aside to allow Lexa to proceed her out of the shop. When they got outside, they tightened their scarves against the chill and Clarke looped her arm through Lexa's. Lexa stiffened momentarily but then relaxed as Clarke led them across the street to the park.

Chapter Text

 


"You lift my heart up when the rest of me is down,

You, you enchant me even when you're not around

If there are boundaries, I will try to knock them down

I'm latching on, babe, now that I know what I have found."

 

The park was quiet and peaceful, all sounds from surrounding areas muffled by the thick blanket of snow on the ground. Lexa and Clarke were the only souls to brave the cold for a walk in the deserted park, and Clarke hummed in contentment, squeezing Lexa's arm slightly.

"It's beautiful in here like this," Clarke mused. "The absence of colour is a dichotomy of the greens of summer or the gold and reds of fall; that absence makes the landscape seem so pure, so clean."

Clarke paused then let go of Lexa's arm and fell back into a small drift of snow and started making a snow angel and looked up at a shocked Lexa with a small smile on her face. "I tried to draw a winter-scape a few times," Clarke said, still swishing her arms and legs back and forth through the snow. "I couldn't get it right; it always came out looking gray and dirty - I couldn't seem to capture the pureness, the newness of the snow. I think I might just try again, though."

At that, she stopped her motion and carefully got up from her space as to not disturb the 'angel' she had just made and stepped out to the right and then turned and looked down at her creation while brushing off the clinging snow from her pants and the backs of her arms. She nodded at her handiwork and then turned back to regard Lexa, who had been observing Clarke's antics in silence.

Clarke tilted her head to the side and searched Lexa's face. "Yeah," she breathed out, "I'm definitely going to try again."

Clarke's eyes never left Lexa's face, shifting over every line, curve, and angle of her cheekbones, brow and jaw. Lexa moved forward and put her hands on Clarke's shoulders and held them there for a moment as Lexa watched as Clarke's eyes seemed to map out her face. Lexa gently pushed on one shoulder, and Clarke reluctantly allowed Lexa to turn her, not wanting to abandon her study of the brunette's face. She tried to look back at Lexa but then squealed and jumped before she giggled as some of the lingering snow that Lexa was lightly brushing off her coat and cap fell down the back of her shirt.

Lexa froze and whispered a hoarse "Sorry," before stepping away from Clarke. Her heart was beating way too fast, and her hands shook. Watching Clarke play in the snow while she casually talked about art had sent Lexa's chest into spasms. When she had gotten up and seemingly continued her train of thought, but looked at Lexa like she was the most precious thing in the world, Lexa wondered if maybe Clarke wasn't talking solely about her art anymore. That made her heart beat even faster.

Clarke noticed Lexa's shaking hands and then glanced at her bare head. "Oh, God, Lex. I'm sorry, you must be freezing!"

Lexa looked at her, confused for a moment, then realized that Clarke had jumped to the wrong conclusion about her shaking hands. She stuffed her traitorous gloved hands into her pockets and shook her head. "No, I'm fine, Clarke. I'll let you know if I get too cold."

"Oh, okay. If you're sure," Clarke said, looking at Lexa curiously.

Lexa just nodded and started to stroll down the snow-covered path again. Clarke fell into step with her after a moment.

"So, Lexa," Clarke began, "since I embarrassingly monopolized our time together three weeks ago, talking about myself…– I'd like to know more about you. Tell me something about yourself?"

"Like what?" Lexa asked looking at Clarke.

"Anything. Everything," Clarke sincerely said.

Lexa laughed with a decided lack of humor. "That wouldn't be worth your time, Clarke."

Clarke stopped, reached out, and hooked her hand in Lexa's elbow, bringing her to a halt and turning her so that they were face to face.

"Who are you, Lexa Woods?" Clarke asked, searching her face. "Where did you come from?" She shifted slightly, letting go of Lexa's arm and dropped her eyes.

"And why haven't we met before now?" she whispered. Where have you been, she thought to herself and then wondered where the thought had originated.

Lexa swallowed back the lump that had started to form in her throat at Clarke's whisper, but couldn't bring herself to say anything.

Clarke looked back up at her, eyes shining and smiled. "It's okay. I can see it, you know. I'm here when you're ready."

Clarke looked Lexa right in the eye and said, "I want more than anything to know you, Lexa."

Lexa looked at Clarke in shock, wondering what the blonde was referring too. What could she see? Lexa wasn't sure if she wanted to know the answer, but her tongue seem to have a mind of its own when she blurted out, "See what? What can you see?"

Clarke gave her a smile, grabbed her hand and gave it a squeeze before looping her arm through Lexa's again and turning them to continue their walk.

"I'm going to tell you about Finn," Clarke said with a sigh, ignoring the brunette's questioning look, knowing in her heart that Lexa wasn't ready, yet.

"What?" Lexa asked, confused by the abrupt change in topic, but simultaneously relieved.

"Finn," Clarke said patiently. "You must be curious why he did what he did? What prompted that mess? Everyone keeps telling me it's not my fault, but it is," Clarke finished quietly.

"I don't believe that, Clarke. I was there. You did nothing to provoke that kind of reaction," Lexa soothed.

"That's just it, though. It wasn't what I did or didn't do at the party. It was what I did a few days before that," Clarke sadly said, shaking her head.

"You broke up with him," Lexa stated.

Clarke's head snapped up and she looked at Lexa in surprise. "How did you..."

"Octavia told me on the way to the...the hospital," Lexa swallowed. "She said he didn't take it well. But that still doesn't excuse what he did, nor does it put the blame on you," Lexa finished firmly.

"You don't know everything, though," Clarke quietly said, shaking her head. "He didn't see it coming, I blindsided him with it. Hell, even I didn't see it coming," she said with a hoarse laugh.

"I don't understand. Did you not want to break up with him?" Lexa asked, confused.

"Yes, I wanted to break up with him. The knowledge that I wanted to, though, hit me out of the blue," Clarke said sneaking a quick glance at Lexa and away again. "I knew that how I was feeling wasn't fair to him. I also knew that if I were happy, I wouldn't be feeling that way. I suppose I could have left him hanging on, while I sorted things out, but again, it wouldn't have been fair - to either of us. In the span of about 10 minutes, I knew it was over, that I would never feel for him what I suspected he felt for me. In truth, I had been worried for months. I wondered if there was something wrong with me, why it seemed I couldn't make that connection with someone that would allow that depth of feeling I had been missing in all of my relationships. So I ended it, with no warning, no discussion, no anything. I invited him over for lunch, and it was over 20 minutes later. And, yeah, he didn't take it well. I could have...I should have done it differently."

There were a lot of questions racing around in Lexa's mind, each clamoring for attention, and she tried to focus on the most logical order to ask them, but at the same time just wanted to wrap Clarke up in her arms and make her feel better.

She decided on the first question that came to mind.

"What else could you have done, Clarke? Could you have drawn it out, talked about it more, given him a heads up about how you were feeling? Would that have changed the outcome? Would you not have broken up with him, then?"

"No," Clarke said tiredly. "I still would have broken up with him. I could have done all those things, but it would have made us both miserable. Him, because he would have spent that time and tried to change my mind, and me because I knew I wouldn't and knew I was hurting him. But I just can't help thinking that if I had done that, then maybe he wouldn't have reacted so badly and shown up at Jasper's drunk and..."

"It's not your fault, Clarke," Lexa said firmly, interrupting her and taking her by the shoulders, effectively stopping their walk yet again. "You did what was best for you, and ultimately what would hurt Finn the least. His reaction is all on him - not you. Never you. Okay?"

All of her friends and family had said similar things to Clarke over the last three weeks, but it seemed to hit home for her when Lexa said it. Clarke took the words to heart and felt the burden lift from her shoulders, making her feel lighter. She stood just a bit straighter as she nodded before she looked away from Lexa's green eyes, boring into hers.

"You said were worried," Lexa said after a short pause, releasing Clarke's shoulders as she spoke.

"What?" Clarke asked, brows quirked.

"You said that you 'were worried' and that it 'seemed you couldn't make a connection,' all past tense. What happened? Why the change?" Lexa asked, curious.

They had continued on their walk, in unspoken agreement when Lexa released Clarke's shoulders, but at this Clarke stopped again, looking at the ground, a small frown creasing her brows. Clarke sighed and looked to the sky, silently wondering if complete honesty was the way to go at this moment, or if she should deflect for the time being. She decided on honesty and hoped it was the right choice. She looked back at Lexa and regarded her solemnly for a moment before speaking quietly but intently, "I met someone who made me challenge the way I see...everything; the way I thought the world worked. Someone who took every emotion I have had and turned them on their heads and made me look at them in a different way. Someone I couldn't stop thinking about from the moment I met them, to the exclusion of everyone else, including Finn," she said the last with a wry smile. "Someone I have decided I need in my life in whatever capacity they will allow, someone I am determined to know."

Clarke did not break eye contact with Lexa through her whole speech, and Lexa could feel her heart beating faster with every word; hope battling with the terror within her, for what Clarke's words might mean. When Clarke finished, Lexa swallowed through the thick lump that had formed in her throat and cleared it before trying to speak. "Ahh, um, you met someone?" she asked weakly.

Clarke grinned at her and nodded her head slowly once. "You asked me what happened, Lex?" Clarke took a step closer to the brunette never taking her eyes from hers. "You did," she whispered. "You happened, Lexa Woods."

Lexa gulped as she stared at Clarke, sure her heart was going to beat right out of her chest. "Clarke," she breathed out, but before she could say more, Clarke took another step closer and placed a gloved finger on her lips, cutting off whatever Lexa was about to say.

"Shhhh," Clarke murmured. "I don't expect anything from you, Lex. I just want to know you. I see you, Lexa Woods, and I want to know the real you, not the one you are presenting to the world right now."

"I...there are things, Clarke, that I...I don't know how..." Lexa stuttered, eyes shining.

"I know," Clarke confirmed softly taking her hand and stroking the back of it with her thumb. "I told you I could see it."

"See what?" Lexa whispered brokenly.

Clarke hesitated and then decided she might as well go all in, considering how far she had gone already. She looked at Lexa and narrowed her eyes and cocked her head to the side slightly, before softly whispering back, "Your pain, your fear. I can see it in your eyes, just below the surface - even when you smile. Sometimes, like last night, it's buried deep. Other times, like now, it is simmering just below the surface like it's threatening to engulf you and you are just staying ahead of it."

Clarke looked at Lexa carefully; she had felt the woman stiffen at her words, but she hadn't pulled away, and she wondered if she should say what she felt bubbling in her chest. She squeezed Lexa's hand again and whispered, "I hope that you will let me in, so I can help you defeat your demons, and heal your scars, Lex. I know you have them - I do too. I don't know how I know, I just do."

Clarke looked down at their joined hands and raised them up just a fraction and then looked back at Lexa and back to their hands again. "Perhaps, this," she said indicating their clasped hands with her other hand and then indicating between the two of them. "I know you can feel this...whatever this is between us when we touch. I remember it happening at the hospital, and asking you about it," she said, grinning at Lexa, who nodded shyly in confirmation.

"So, perhaps this has something to do with how I feel like I know you already, without knowing you at all. I want you to know that if you let me, I will stand by you and be your strength when you need it; I will hold you up if you fall. I want nothing more than to be there for you, Lexa."

Lexa searched Clarke's face, seeing only openness and honesty shining back at her. The tears that had been building in Lexa's eyes, from the moment Clarke mentioned she could see Lexa's pain, finally spilled over and tracked down Lexa's cold cheeks. Still, she didn't move, staring at Clarke in awe, her heart beating so fast and so hard, she was sure she was going to go into cardiac arrest at any moment. Clarke saw the tears and took another tiny step forward slowly. She released Lexa's hand, pulled off her gloves and shoved them into her pockets and then reached up and cupped Lexa's cold cheeks in her glove warmed hands, and wiped the tears away with her thumbs. Lexa recovered enough to place her hands on Clarke's waist, not unaware, as she knew Clarke was not, of the tingling in her cheeks where Clarke's hands touched her. Neither woman moved, eyes locked in the middle of a deserted park. Finally, Lexa raised her hands and covered Clarke's.

"Your hands must be getting cold," she husked out.

"You're worth it," Clarke quietly said.

Lexa let out a shaky breath, and Clarke pulled her head closer so that their foreheads rested against each other. Lexa sighed and closed her eyes, painfully aware of how close Clarke's lips were, the light puffs of breath on her chin both calming her and making her heart race even further. It felt right, being there with Clarke. More right than anything she had ever felt. She felt Clarke pull away just enough to drag her nose lightly up her own and then place a soft kiss on the end of it before she released Lexa's face and stepped back, expelling a deep breath as she went. Lexa stood there with her eyes closed for a heartbeat more, before opening them and looking directly into the cerulean blue she had discovered she liked so much.

Clarke had wanted so badly to take Lexa's plump lips with her own and had to stop herself from closing the small gap between them. She shivered slightly with both the effort it took to stop herself and the feel of the other woman in her hands before she forced herself to step back. Clarke looked at her for a moment more before giving Lexa a soft smile. "Your ears are turning blue, Commander. We should get you home."

Lexa's stomach did a twist when Clarke called her Commander, but she wasn't sure why. "Why did you call me that?" she asked as they turned to head back to the park entrance.

"What? Commander?" Clarke shrugged. "Octavia and Raven started calling you that after we played each other, something to do with how well you captained your team, I guess. This is the first time I've used it, though, and I'm not sure why I did now, it just fits, I guess. It feels comfortable - like it belongs to you." Clarke shrugged again and looked away.

Lexa looked at Clarke and nodded to herself. "I'm not sure how I feel about it when Raven and Octavia use it, but from you...I like it," she said shyly.

"Then I'll save it for special occasions," Clarke said with a smile. She walked beside Lexa and let her hand brush against Lexa's as they walked, and was pleased when Lexa finally hooked her pinky around Clarke's as they made their way back to the car.

Clarke drove Lexa home, and they sat in comfortable silence in the driveway for a few minutes, before Lexa unbuckled with a sigh and took a quick look at Clarke. Clarke had been unabashedly staring at Lexa while the other woman fidgeted with her fingers, and didn't look away as Lexa's eyes found hers.

"Thank you for today," Lexa murmured.

Clarke smiled at her and reached over and squeezed her forearm. "Anytime. And, Lex?" Clarke said, looking more intently at the brunette and squeezing her arm again. "I meant every word I said. I'm here for you, for whenever and whatever you may need."

Lexa nodded slowly and reached over and laid her hand over Clarke's, marveling again at the tingling in her hand. "I know. Text me when you get home okay?"

Clarke nodded and leaned over and placed a chaste kiss on Lexa's cheek then pulled back and whispered, "Have a great night, Lex. I'll talk to you later."

Lexa nodded again, not trusting herself to speak and stepped out of the car and made her way to the door. Clarke waited until Lexa had unlocked the door, and turned to give her a small wave before she pulled out of the driveway and headed home.

 

"How do you do it? You got me losing every breath.

What did you give me to make my heart beat out my chest?"

Chapter Text

Clarke made it home a short time later, walked into the house and started removing her outer clothes. She looked up in surprise when her mom walked into the living room.

"Mom! You're home. I thought you had a late shift tonight," Clarke asked with brows raised.

"I did, but your Dad is coming home this evening, and I wanted to be here," Abby replied casually.

"Oh, good!" Clarke exclaimed. "I wanted to talk to you about something."

"No," Abby stated, without looking up from the couch where she had recently lowered herself.

"Wha...What? What do you mean 'no'? You haven't even heard what I want to talk to you about," Clarke sputtered.

"You are going to ask me about hockey practice tomorrow. Marcus called and told me about it," Abby said, still not looking at Clarke. "The answer is no. You had a fairly severe head injury, Clarke," Abby continued, as she turned to look at her daughter. "It's too soon."

"But Mom," Clarke started as she pleaded with her eyes. "I've been symptom-free for a week. I'm ready; I know it."

Abby looked at her daughter carefully, knowing that Clarke wasn't going to give up on this, so she sighed deeply. "You may go, but you will not dress in full uniform. You will wear only your gloves, skates, and helmet, you will not participate in any drills that will elevate your heart rate too much, and you will not take part in any sprints. In a few days, you may get on the bike and try increasing your heart rate. In both of those instances, if you remain symptom-free, then we can discuss a plan to integrate you back into full practices next week."

Clarke grinned and nodded her head as she walked over to her mother and gave her a hug. "Thanks, mom."

Abby just sighed and hugged her daughter back. "Please just make sure that if you feel at all like you are getting a headache, or feel nauseated, you will stop immediately."

"I will. I promise," Clarke quietly said as she hugged her mom again before pulling away.

"Did you enjoy your coffee date?" Abby asked with a knowing smile.

Clarke rolled her eyes at her mother, but couldn't help the grin that spread across her face. "It wasn't a date. But, yes, I did."

Clarke didn't offer anything else, and Abby didn't push, as she watched Clarke take out her phone as she walked away towards the garage. Abby shook her head, still smiling as she picked up the novel she had put down while speaking with her daughter.

Clarke quickly brought up Lexa's contact record and sent off a quick text.

Clarke: Home safe. Thanks again for coming out with us today.

It only took a few moments for a reply to come in, Lexa apparently waiting for the text letting her know that Clarke had made it home safely.

Lexa: It was my pleasure, Clarke. Thank you for inviting us. I'm glad you're home safe. Enjoy the rest of your evening.

Clarke: You too, Lexa

Clarke sighed, looking down at her phone, briefly wondering if she should say anything else, before deciding to leave it there for now. She put the phone away and looked at her hockey gear on the shelving unit and rack her father had built just for the purpose of drying out her gear; off the floor and more importantly, out of the house. Clarke cringed as she remembered the short amount of time she had to dry out her gear in her room because her mom wouldn't let her do it anywhere else. To say that her room was 'ripe' during that time, would be an understatement. Stale sweat and nacho chips came to mind and made Clarke shudder. She did spray all the gear with a cleaner every so often. She even had it professionally cleaned at the end of each season, but the sheer amount of sweat she poured into the equipment on a weekly basis, and the fact that most of it was impossible to clean at home, made for some stenchy gear. Her father had finally taken pity on her and built the shelves and the drying rack in the garage, for which Clarke was eternally grateful.

She realized she didn't need her full bag if all she was taking to practice were the essentials, so Clarke rummaged around in the semi-organized space for a few minutes until she found a smaller duffel bag. She quickly placed her skates, helmet, and gloves in the bag and zipped it up before walking over to the wall to gather a couple of sticks. She decided to leave her favourite Bauer at home since she would most likely be doing nothing more than taking shots on the backup goalie, and she didn't want to weaken her best stick unnecessarily. Clarke grabbed two of her older sticks and the duffel and headed back into the house. She dropped the bag and the sticks in the foyer and then headed upstairs to her room.

She grabbed her phone as she plopped down on her bed and opened up a group chat with Raven and Octavia.

Griff: I'll see you both at practice tomorrow. :)

Octavia responded right away. Raven did not...at all.

O: All right, Griffin! I can't believe Dr. G gave you the go ahead.

Griff: settle down, O. I'm not participating in full gear. I won't be doing much. I'm surprised she's even letting me go tbh

O: I'm just going to call you

Less than ten seconds later, Clarke's phone rang and a picture of a smirking Octavia filled her screen. Clarke grinned and answered the phone.

"Hi, O," Clarke said as she put the phone to her ear.

"Hey, Clarkey. So your mom put some restrictions on you hey?" Octavia asked.

"Yeah, but it's better than nothing I suppose," Clarke said with a sigh.

"Can't deny that. Not that I would ever argue with Dr. G. So," Octavia continued after a short pause, and Clarke could hear the smirk in her voice. "What did you and the Commander get up to?"

"We just went for a walk in the park, and then I took her home," Clarke answered softly, not able to keep the wistfulness out of her tone.

"That's it?" Octavia asked incredulously, her voice rising slightly in pitch.

Clarke didn't want to get into the depth of the conversation she had with Lexa. However one-sided, or her feelings in general, so she replied succinctly. "That's it."

"Hmmm," Octavia hummed. "Somehow I don't think it was quite that simple, but I'll let you off the hook this time."

"Thanks, O. I think," Clarke responded as she rolled her eyes. "Did you get to spend much time with Lincoln?"

"No, not really," the brunette said with a small sigh. "He had to get ready for his shift, but we spent some time talking before he dropped me off at your place."

"Got plans to see him again?" Clarke asked.

"Yep!" Octavia exclaimed, popping the 'p,' clearly excited. "He's got tomorrow off so we're going out. What about you?"

"What about me?" Clarke replied innocently.

"Oh, please. Are you going to see Lexa again?" Octavia asked, exasperation evident in her tone.

Clarke sighed, shrugging slightly, even though her friend couldn't see her. "I hope so. We didn't set anything up, though, if that's what you're asking."

"Geez, Clarke. Seriously, you need to step up your game," Octavia teased.

Clarke knew her friend was just having fun with her, but it still made her uncomfortable, and she spoke more sharply than maybe she should have. "Don't, O. This isn't a game."

"Woah. Easy, Clarke. I was just kidding," Octavia said quickly.

Octavia could hear her friend sigh again on the other end before Clarke said, "Sorry, O. I do know that. I just...I just want to get this right. I don't want to push her, or scare her away."

"And asking her out would do that?" Octavia asked softly, all teasing gone from her voice.

"I'm not sure, to be honest. I just feel like I have to let Lexa set the pace, you know. I don't want to...I just...I need..." Clarke struggled.

Octavia took pity on her friend and cut her off. "Hey, it's okay, Clarke. I get it. I'm sorry, I won't joke about it anymore - you just do what you need to do."

"Thanks, O," Clarke said with a sigh.

After a slight pause, Clarke felt a grin growing on her lips before she asked: "Soooo, have you heard from Raven?"

"Ha!" Octavia barked out. "No. I guess you haven't either. And, she didn't join in on your group chat earlier, so…."

"Well, go Raven," Clarke said. "I hope it works out for her, with Anya leaving in a few of days and all."

"Me too, but you know Raven, she'll play it cool and be all tough and pretend it's not eating her up," Octavia reminded the blonde. "So, we'll have to keep a subtle eye on her."

"Yeah," Clarke sighed. "Okay, I'm going to go. Practice will come early, and I want to see if I can get some reading done, so I'm not too overwhelmed when school starts again."

"No worries. Enjoy your evening," Octavia said.

"You too, O. See you tomorrow," Clarke replied before hanging up and pulling out one of her more intimidating bioengineering texts.

She put her phone on the bed beside her as she began to highlight passages in the reading, jotting down the odd note if it was particularly interesting or possibly more relevant. Clarke knew she was working ahead, and that most students most likely wouldn't even open up a book over the holidays. However, Clarke had always been studious, and she wanted to make sure that she didn't have to worry about missing practice due to homework or falling behind if her injury started making life more difficult. She didn't feel like that was going to be the case, but better safe than sorry, she told herself.

While she read, she kept glancing at her phone as if expecting something. Clarke would catch herself staring at her phone for several moments, before shaking her head and getting back to the work at hand. After a solid half an hour of reading (about twenty minutes if she was totally honest, the other ten she was sure she spent staring at her phone), she grabbed her phone and opened up her contacts, scrolling immediately to the one she wanted.


Lexa opened her door and turned and gave Clarke a short wave before heading inside. The fact that Clarke waited until she was safely inside before pulling out of the driveway caused a small bloom of warmth to spread through her chest.

She closed the door behind her and leaned against it, letting her eyes close, and her head bump lightly against the door behind her. Lexa didn't realize she had a slight grin on her face until she heard someone clear their throat pointedly and then utter an amused, "Have a good time, Lex?"

Lexa's eyes snapped open, and she pushed herself away from the door, fighting the blush rising up her neck as she shot a withering glare at Lincoln as he smirked at her from his spot on the couch.

"Aren't you supposed to be at work?" Lexa snapped at him, hiding her face as she unwrapped her scarf.

Lincoln laughed as he stood up and picked up a plate littered with crumbs and an empty glass, evidence of a quick meal. "Just had to grab something to eat," he said indicating his dishes by raising them slightly in the air. "I'm on my way in five."

He stood regarding Lexa as she removed her coat, unable to control the smile spreading across his face. "You did," he said smugly.

"What?" Lexa asked, looking at him with confusion as she hung up her coat and placed her accessories in the basket on the shelf of the closet.

"You had a good time," Lincoln clarified, still looking annoyingly smug, in Lexa's opinion.

Lexa sighed and barely managed to restrain herself from rolling her eyes at her cousin, which only seemed to amuse him further.

"Four minutes, Lincoln," was all Lexa said as she approached him and took the dirty dishes from his hands. "Go to work; I'll take care of these for you."

"Okay, Lex," he said, still smirking. "But for the record, it's good to see you smile." Lincoln clapped her on the shoulder and gave it a slight squeeze as she stepped past him shaking her head.

"Have a safe shift, Linc," Lexa threw over her shoulder. "See you tomorrow."

"Night, cuz," Lincoln hollered back as he zipped his parka, pulled on a knit cap over his closely shaved head, grabbed his EMT bag and headed out the door.

Lexa sighed again as she heard the door shut, and she placed Lincoln's dirty dishes in the dishwasher. She looked around and realized she was now home alone, not knowing where Gustus was, and assuming Anya was still out with Raven. She spared a thought for her best friend, hoping things were going well with the spunky, dark-skinned brunette.

She began replaying the entire afternoon in her mind, her heart rate picking up yet again when she thought about all Clarke had said to her in the park. Am I ready? She thought to herself. Can I let her in? If I do, what does that mean? What will she think of me when she finds out how broken I am? I don't know if I can do this, she practically wailed internally.

Lexa's internal debate continued along the same vein for several minutes. First replaying the vision of Clarke in the snow, in the park, in the car, and every wonderful, beautiful, and absolutely terrifying thing that left her mesmerizing lips, and then mentally listing all the ways she wasn't ready, all the while trying to control the beating of her traitorous heart. She found herself in a state of near happiness (a foreign feeling, to be sure) when she thought of the blonde, but then bordering on the edge of despair only moments later as her head kicked in yet again. It wasn't until she felt her phone buzz in her pocket that she finally snapped out of the non-productive loop she found herself mired in. She took it out, and couldn't help the small smile that graced her lips as she saw who had texted her.

Clarke: Home safe. Thanks again for coming out with us today.

Lexa didn't waste any time on her reply and stared at her phone for several minutes after Clarke responded back, waiting to see if Clarke would text anything else. Lexa didn't know what she expected or if she should have been expecting anything at all. Finally, feeling slightly dissatisfied with how it ended, she put her phone back in her pocket and headed up the stairs to her room.

Anya was not the neat freak Lexa herself was, so Lexa spent some time tidying up her room and collecting some of Anya's things to wash them for her friend before she had to leave in a few days. She also found all of Anya's purchases that she had accumulated over the course of her visit, and put them in a neat pile in the corner so that Anya could pack them at her leisure. Once done, Lexa looked at the texts sitting on her desk that she would need for her first semester at George Washington University. She contemplated doing some reading; she did need to do a lot of catch up considering she took a two-year break from her degree.

Lexa only looked at them for a moment though before deciding that tonight would not be the best night for catching up, considering her mind was a tempest of roiling thoughts and feelings; trying to focus on business texts would be pointless. So she pulled out her laptop, loaded Netflix and queued up several episodes of Orange is the New Black. Lexa was halfway through the first episode when her phone vibrated on the nightstand next to her bed.

She glanced at it curiously and just about knocked her laptop off the bed in her haste to grab it when she realized who it was.

Clarke: Hi. Are you busy?

Lexa quickly typed out her reply.

Lexa: No. Just watching OitNB

Clarke: Oh, sorry. I'll let you get back to it

Lexa: No. It's ok.

Clarke: ok, if you're sure.

Clarke: Is it ok if I call you?

Lexa thought her mind was going to short circuit, and her heart was beating erratically in her chest as she responded with shaky fingers.

Lexa: Yes, sure. Now?

Clarke lol. Yes, now.

Lexa: ok

Lexa put her phone down on the bed and wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans and tried to calm her beating heart. Just as she thought she was beginning to make progress, her phone rang, and her heart rate jumped up again, impossibly faster than it had been racing before.

She grabbed the device off the bed, pressed the green accept button and brought the phone up to her ear.

"Hello, Clarke," she softly said.

"Hi, Lex," came the husky voice that sent shivers down Lexa's spine. "Sorry to interrupt your show."

"It's all right, I've seen them all already, I just needed to have something on that I didn't have to pay full attention to," Lexa said.

"Are you trying to multi-task?" Clarke asked.

Lexa paused briefly. "No. I find that my mind is wandering, and I didn't want to miss anything I haven't seen before."

"Hmmm," Clarke responded, understanding immediately what Lexa was talking about and that Clarke's comments in the park were the most likely cause of Lexa's unease this evening. Feeling slightly guilty she added, "I totally get that; I need to do that sometimes too."

The silence that followed was short but full; Clarke thought she might have finally understood what a 'pregnant pause' might be. Clarke finally took a deep breath and forged ahead. "I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable earlier, or if I'm the cause of your unease this evening, Lexa. It wasn't my intention to cause you discomfort in any way."

Lexa felt a tightening in her chest at the concern evident in Clarke's voice, and the hint of guilt underlying her statements, and immediately thought to rectify it and assure the blonde.

"Oh, God, Clarke. Please, don't be sorry," Lexa started. "I..." Lexa hesitated, but then took a deep breath and let it out in a shaky sigh. "I'm...I'm working on some stuff, Clarke, and the things you said to me today, just made me think about them more directly. I won't say I wasn't affected by what you said, but it wasn't...," another shaky sigh and Lexa bravely continued. "For the first time in a very long time, I feel like I want to move forward, and I didn't feel that way until," Lexa paused and then finished so softly Clarke wasn't sure she heard her, "until I met you."

Clarke's heart thumped erratically, and she felt an unfamiliar twisting low in her gut as she assimilated what Lexa had just admitted to her. She wasn't sure what to make of it yet but knew that she needed and desperately wanted to help Lexa get to wherever she needed to be.

Clarke wasn't sure how to respond to Lexa's last statement, so she let it stay there between them, and instead informed the brunette again, "I am here for whatever you need, whenever, Lex. Please believe that. Anytime, day or night."

Lexa's breath hitched as she whispered, "Thank you, Clarke."

Clarke nodded into the phone, even though she knew Lexa couldn't see her, and took a deep breath. She decided it was time to lighten the conversation and get to the reason Clarke decided to connect in the first place. "So, my friend, what are you up to tomorrow?"

Lexa smiled when she heard Clarke call her 'my friend.' "Are we friends, Clarke?" Lexa asked with a hint of a tease in her tone.

Clarke balked momentarily on her end, realizing she may have inadvertently overstepped, but then relaxed upon hearing Lexa's slightly teasing tone but responded seriously. "I hope so. I would very much like to be your friend, Lexa Woods."

Lexa thought that Clarke was the only person who had ever shown so much open concern and care for her, and she had only known her for a few short weeks and spent even less time in her physical presence. If she were honest with herself, she would admit that Clarke's concern and the level of understanding she already felt from slightly younger woman went much deeper than Anya's ever had. Than anyone's had, for that matter. She would also admit that that was part of what was so terrifying about the whole thing. However, she also knew, without having to think about it, that she wanted and needed Clarke Griffin in her life.

All of these thoughts raced through her mind in mere seconds, and she softly answered Clarke. "I would also, very much like to be your friend, Clarke Griffin. And to answer your question, I wasn't planning on doing much. I have a ton of reading to do to get caught up before school starts, and I have practice in the evening."

Clarke felt a warmth spreading in her chest when she heard Lexa say she too wanted to be friends but what left her mouth, unbidden, when Lexa finished was: "An evening practice!" Clarke exclaimed. "How did Gustus get an evening practice? Ours is at 7 in the morning."

Lexa laughed lightly, and Clarke immediately decided to make it her mission to make Lexa laugh again, and often. "My Uncle Gus is friends with the rink manager, so he gets the first pick of time slots over the holidays, but no special treatment over the course of the regular season time slots. You said you have practice at 7am? Are you going?" Lexa couldn't help the concern that tinted her tone at the last.

"Yes," Clarke answered. "My mom is letting me go, but I won't really be participating. Most likely just taking shots and skating around. Slowly."

Lexa could practically hear Clarke rolling her eyes, and smiled slightly before replying. "Well, make sure to take care of yourself, Clarke, I wouldn't want you to set yourself back and not be ready for our game in a few weeks. It would be a shame to beat your team with you not there."

"Oh, Woods! You did not just claim that you would beat us! It is so on, my friend. I will be back and you and I...it will be epic!" Clarke exclaimed.

Lexa laughed lightly again, and Clarke practically swooned, before Lexa spoke again, the smile clearly in her voice. "Okay, Clarke. Whatever you say."

"Alright. Well, now that that's settled. Would you like to meet me at the Drop Ship in the afternoon?" Clarke asked.

Lexa thought about it momentarily. Being around Clarke was like an awakening, a ray of sunshine nothing could filter. It had felt as though she had been smothered under thick blankets in the heat of summer for the last two years, and Clarke was like a breath of fresh air. She felt alive around Clarke, and even though the feelings the blonde evoked were mind-numbingly terrifying, Lexa found herself craving their interactions and the time they spent together. Lexa couldn't bring herself to deny the request, so she quickly acquiesced.

"Yes, I could do that," Lexa responded. "What time works for you?"

"Well. I have nothing planned after practice, so why don't we meet there around 2? That will give you lots of time to still get ready for your practice later in the evening," Clarke offered.

"Sounds good. 2pm it is," Lexa confirmed. "Goodnight, Clarke. See you tomorrow."

The women hung up their respective phones, infinitely more satisfied with the end of their conversation than they were a mere hour ago, and Clarke managed another hour of study before crawling into bed for an early night. Lexa finished watching her episode of OitNB and managed a bit of reading before she too called it a night. When Lexa finally got ready for bed around 10 pm, she was surprised and more than slightly amused that Anya had yet to return.


Raven and Anya had left the Drop Ship and driven straight to Raven's apartment ten minutes away. They didn't say much on the way, Anya keeping her gaze focused out the window, but still aware of the glances that the dazzling brunette was shooting her from time to time.

Raven pulled into the parking lot and jumped out of her truck with a quick, "We're here," before running around and opening Anya's door just as she was about to do it herself.

Anya shot Raven an amused glance and wryly said, "My hero."

Raven just smirked at her and offered her arm, which Anya took with little hesitation. Raven led them up the stairs to her apartment, the beep of the locking system on the truck sounding behind them as the brunette fiddled with her keys. Upon reaching her door, Raven untangled her arm from Anya's and opened up the door. She stepped aside to allow Anya to proceed her, bowing slightly at the waist and sweeping dramatically forward with her arm. "Welcome, General," Raven said with a grin. "Mi casa, es tu casa."

Anya just lifted an exquisitely crafted brow as she swept passed into the small apartment. Raven scrambled after her, closing the door behind her and following the blonde into the cramped living room.

She watched Anya look around her small space, and started to feel a bit self-conscious at the state of her home.

The apartment was small, with an averaged sized kitchen that bordered on the living room with an island and a few stools separating the two spaces. The colour scheme was a muted tan and cream, and there was hardwood flooring underneath a large, worn, blue rug. A soft, comfortable brown couch sat on the carpet, with a low glass-topped coffee table set in front. Anya could see a few well-read Popular Mechanic magazines on the small shelf under the table and she smiled to herself.

The couch sat perpendicular to the kitchen island, and a large, 54 inch, flat screen TV was mounted on the opposite wall, next to the opening to the hallway. There was a computer desk set up in the corner, farthest from the kitchen, along the same wall as the TV, covered in bits and pieces of metal, plastics and other odds and ends Anya couldn't recognize. She was sure she saw what must be a laptop buried under it all, but she couldn't be sure. As she continued to look around, she noticed that just about every available surface had some sort of electronic device or pieces of such, scattered upon it in various states of repair or disassembly, Anya couldn't be sure.

"Sorry about the mess," Raven started, "I didn't plan to have guests." She quickly skirted around Anya and began to pick up random bits of electronics and mechanical gear off the couch and coffee table and dumped them on an even more cluttered desk in the corner.

Anya didn't answer, only moved to the couch and sat down, once Raven had cleared a spot. She quickly lifted herself up slightly and reached beneath her to grab what looked like a spark plug, of all things. She held it out to Raven with a smirk as she sat back down and said, "This is nothing, you should see my place. It's a disaster most of the time. At least your clutter looks important. My mess consists of discarded clothing and dirty dishes."

Raven let out a silent sigh and moved to sit next to the blonde.

"It's too early for dinner, but I have some snacks in the cupboard, and we could watch a movie," Raven offered.

"Sounds good. You pick the movie while I use your bathroom," Anya said as she got up with a curious quirk to her brow.

Raven realized she had been staring at the other woman, and coughed slightly before nodding and pointing down the hallway. "Second door on the left. The only other room that isn't my bedroom."

Then, suddenly, some of her confidence seemed to return as she added cheekily, with a smirk of her own, "If you're really good, I'll show you the other room later."

With that, Raven got up and left an astounded Anya to make her way down the hall. Raven pulled out some chips and sodas from the kitchen and made her way back to the couch. She called up Netflix on her Blu-ray player and started scrolling through the trending movies.

Anya returned a few minutes later and sat down next to Raven so that their thighs were touching. Raven noticed and shot the blonde another smirk, which blossomed into a full blown smile when Anya rolled her eyes.

"I have beer if you'd rather. Otherwise, it's Coke or root beer," Raven indicated the selection on the table. "What's your poison?"

"I'll take a Coke, for now, thank you," Anya said.

"I picked Guardians of the Galaxy," Raven continued, handing Anya a Coke and popping the top of the root beer for herself.

"That's fine; I haven't seen that one yet," Anya replied, settling further into the couch.

Raven started up the movie and grabbed the bowl of chips and put it in her lap before she too settled into the couch, relishing in the heat emanating from the woman beside her.

The two women watched the movie in companionable silence, broken only be the occasional guffaw or snort of laughter at the antics of the characters on the screen.

At one point Raven commented, "I really like that Racoon character. He is no nonsense and badass to boot."

"Rocket." Anya supplied. "You like him because he is a lot like you; sarcastic, crass, and insufferable."

Raven looked at the blonde in mock outrage, raising a hand as if to slap her. Anya caught her hand in mid-air, catching the brunette's eyes as she continued, "And, brilliant. Also, he's pretty cute."

Raven felt herself blush as she lowered her hand, still ensnared by Anya's. Their hands met on Anya's lap, and the blonde didn't let go, just turned her palm and laced her fingers through those of the brunette's, who briefly widened her eyes before she relaxed with a smug grin on her face.

"Also, he really knows how to make stuff go 'boom'," Raven added as she settled back into the couch, and closer to Anya, who just rolled her eyes and shook her head slightly, not even trying to hide the grin stretching across her face.

By the end of the movie, the two women had moved so that they were leaning against one another, and Raven was rubbing circles on the back of Anya's still entwined hand. At the conclusion of the film, Raven pulled away from Anya, immediately missing the warmth, and turned to look at her. "Are you hungry?" she asked.

Anya looked at her for a beat before tilting her head to the side and with a mischievous glint in her eye and responded with, "Very."

Raven stifled a small gasp, but couldn't help the quick, reflexive tightening of her hand around Anya's.

"Yeah?" Raven husked. "What would you like?"

Anya watched as Raven's dark eyes got even darker, and could see the slight increase in her respiration by the way her chest was moving up and down. She squeezed Raven's hand and tugged her gently, her voice dropping as she said, "Why don't you surprise me."

Raven gulped slightly before nodding once, not taking her eyes of Anya's. She reached her left hand up to Anya's face, surprised at how close they had gotten, and ran her fingertips over sharp cheekbones and smooth skin.

"God. You are so beautiful," Raven husked, running her fingers over Anya's cheekbone one more time, eyes flicking around Anya's face before sliding her hand under the blonde's ear and around the back of her neck.

Anya's eyes involuntarily closed as she felt her breath hitch and her heartbeat pick up. She raised her free right hand and found the back of Raven's neck as Raven started to pull her closer.

They moved together slowly, closing the gap between them in micrometer increments. Raven could feel the warm puffs of Anya's breath on her lips mere moments before both women leaned in and closed the final distance between them. Their lips met softly, tentatively, each taking their time getting used to each other, learning how the other moved. It was drastically different than their New Year's Eve kiss which was just hot and messy, both women realizing that it would lead nowhere at the time. This kiss contained the promise of so much more.

They kissed softly for a moment, Raven pulling away slightly to readjust, and felt Anya pull on her neck to bring her back in. Raven smirked into the kiss before releasing Anya's hand and moving it to the blonde's waist, gripping tightly and pulling her closer. Anya then wrapped her newly freed hand around the small of Raven's back and pulled them closer still. Their kiss deepened and Raven felt Anya's tongue brush against her lower lip and then pull away. Raven felt lost in the velvety softness of Anya's lips, but she copied the motion and then back again, more firmly, seeking entrance to the blonde's mouth. Anya moaned softly and then parted her lips and Raven gently pressed her tongue into Anya's mouth.

Raven whimpered as Anya granted her access. The brunette slowly dragged her tongue across the inside of Anya's bottom lip and then gently pushed further inside and traced the outline of her teeth and then flicked the roof of the blonde's mouth, before allowing her tongue to touch Anya's and swirl around it gently. Both women moaned at the touch, and Raven pushed against the other woman harder and grasped her waist tighter. Without conscious thought, Raven found herself straddling Anya's hips, her thighs on either side and pressed tightly against Anya's own. They kissed for several minutes until finally, they broke apart, chests heaving, foreheads pressed together and eyes closed. Raven opened her eyes and smirked at the blonde who arched an immaculate eyebrow in response.

"So, that was a pretty good appetizer," Raven panted as she brought her right hand up and cupped Anya's face. "What would you like for the main course?"

Anya's eyes darkened yet again and in one swift motion she had flipped the brunette on her back and was now laying between Raven's outstretched legs. One hand still on Raven's waist and the other behind her shoulders, Anya leaned further down and captured Raven's lower lip with her own, sucking lightly and then pulling it back with her teeth as she pulled away. Raven tried to follow her, but Anya placed a hand on her shoulder and pushed her back down.

"Lie still," the blonde said, a heavy timber in her voice that made Raven's stomach clench.

Anya took the hand that was resting on Raven's hip and gently slid it underneath the hem of the brunette's shirt, her fingertips dancing across tight abs and smooth skin. Raven sucked in a sharp breath at the contact and couldn't help the small whimper that escaped her clenched jaw. Anya leaned back down again and recaptured Raven's soft lips, as her hand continued to make lazy patterns on Raven's stomach. Raven could feel the tightness in her abdomen, and she needed to feel more of the woman on top of her so she slid her hand up Anya's back and then back down again until she could feel the hem of her shirt. She slowly slipped her hand under the garment and slid her hand flat up the expanse of Anya's toned back. Anya gasped into Raven's mouth at the contact and pressed her hips into the woman below her.

Anya's hand had moved to just below Raven's breasts and stopped. Raven moaned and pushed herself into Anya's hands, silently begging the older woman to continue. Anya pulled back from Raven, but the younger girl followed her up, putting her other hand under Anya's shirt and palming the soft skin of Anya's back.

Raven looked up at her, asking permission with her eyes and Anya nodded slightly, lifting her arms a moment later. Raven pushed the blonde's shirt up and over her head and flung it across the room, to puddle at the base of the kitchen island. Anya quirked her brow and Raven immediately lifted her arms, and her shirt was also quickly removed and discarded just as haphazardly. The two women regarded each other momentarily before they met again in a bruising kiss, hands wandering over soft, warm flesh with abandon and joy.

Anya let her hand lightly brush against Raven's breast, sliding smoothly over the satiny, black lace bra she wore and felt the other woman's sharp intake of breath and the nipple harden and pebble instantly. She allowed her fingers to fondle the nipple under the fabric, gently rubbing against the hardened nub and then pinching gently. Raven moaned again and arched her back to press her chest further into Anya's hand. Anya reached around the lithe body of the brunette with one hand and popped the clasp of her bra. She leaned closer to Raven's ear and whispered, "Is this okay?"

At Raven's short nod, Anya pulled the dark skinned woman's bra down off of her arms and away, pausing slightly to admire the pert, firm breasts before finding the nipple of her right breast with her nimble fingers as she leaned back down to kiss Raven again. Anya kissed Raven hotly for a moment and then left her lips to mark a trail across her jaw to below her ear with soft, open mouthed kisses. Raven tilted her head back to allow Anya more access, and couldn't suppress a moan as Anya's soft lips surrounded her earlobe and sucked softly. Raven's body arched off the bed and into Anya's hand as she paid attention to both of her breasts, alternating back and forth, while her mouth did the most amazing things to Raven's neck. Anya bit and sucked gently, down the supple length of Raven's neck and then nipped along her collarbones, licking to soothe the light nips as she went. She worked her way back up to Raven's pulse point and sucked hard when Raven moaned and squirmed beneath her, leaving a purple bruise which she then kissed tenderly before continuing down Raven's chest. She placed light, open-mouthed kisses down Raven's sternum and along the swell of her breast.

Raven felt like she was going to explode, and she needed to feel more of Anya, so she reached around and popped the clasp on the blonde's bra and slid it down her arms. Anya didn't stop what she was doing to Raven's body, but lifted one arm and then the next so Raven could remove the garment. Anya continued to work her way along Raven's breasts, her own just touching the flushed skin of Raven's abs. As Anya's nipples grazed Raven's hot skin, they instantly contracted and hardened into stiff points, Anya groaned. Raven whimpered in response to Anya's display of arousal, her thighs clenching as the coil in her belly grew tighter.

Raven was about to reach down to stroke Anya's exposed breasts when suddenly she felt velvety, soft, moist lips wrap around a hardened nipple, and her whole body shuddered as she let out a loud groan and a hoarse "Oh my God," as she arched into Anya's mouth. Raven's hands suddenly went to the back of Anya's head as she held her in place, fingers scratching lightly through her blonde locks, tightening and releasing in time to the maddening pull of Anya's mouth, her hips bucking up into Anya periodically. Anya stayed, moving back and forth between Raven's breasts, for what Raven felt was forever; slowly driving her mad.

Both women were breathing heavily when Raven finally husked out between pants, "Anya…please. I…need…"

Raven could feel Anya smirk against the skin of her breast as she asked between soft sucks, kisses, and light nips to her nipples.

"What," kiss, "do you," a quick, strong pull and flick of her tongue over a hard bud, "need?" a soft bite to both nipples in quick succession that had Raven writhing beneath her, the ache in her breasts almost too much to bear.

"Fuck!" Raven gasped, and then continued between pants, "I need…you, Anya. I need…to feel you…inside me. I need…you…to fuck me. Please!"

Anya felt the heat and moisture pool between her legs and she quickly reached down and popped the buttons of Raven's jeans. Raven finding the button on Anya's pants at the same time. Anya finally released the nipple in her mouth with a soft 'pop' and grabbed hold of the waistband of Raven's pants and pulled them off, along with her underwear, in one quick motion, dropping them to the floor. Anya sat back on her haunches and gazed at the brunette openly for a few moments, before meeting Raven's eyes and gasping at the look of want, need and outright desire she saw in the young woman's eyes, which appeared almost black. Anya stood quickly and pushed her pants down over her hips until she could step out of them, and then lost no time covering Raven's body with her own once again.

Raven shivered and sighed in contentment as the feel of Anya's exposed skin slid against her own, and Anya's mouth once again found Raven's nipple. Anya shifted so that she was straddling Raven's right thigh, her back pressed more firmly into the back of the couch, giving her more access to the brunette's glistening body as she put more weight on her curled left arm, which was under Raven's shoulders. She slid her hand down Raven's abdomen and scratched her fingers gently through the wiry curls, causing Raven to gasp again and buck her hips up into Anya, her legs unconsciously parting as she flexed her knees, pressing her heels into the cushions of the couch.

Anya's hand continued to travel downwards, much too slowly for Raven's liking and she repeatedly jerked her hips upward, trying desperately to get Anya where she needed her. Her fingers finally dipped into Raven's tender flesh, lightly brushing over the sensitive bundle of nerves near the top of her slit, as she continued her painfully slow descent to Raven's center. Raven bucked sharply and moaned out a hoarse "Jesus…" as she shuddered under Anya's touch.

Anya finally made it through Raven's hot folds to her center and moaned at the extreme heat and wetness she found there. "Holy God, you are so wet," she husked in Raven's ear before smashing her lips into Raven's again, swallowing the resulting moan. Anya circled Raven's opening slowly, gathering moisture and then sliding her finger back up to circle Raven's swollen clit. Raven jerked again and moaned into Anya's mouth. Anya's finger went back down to Raven's entrance and circled there again, gradually getting closer and finally dipping just the tip of her finger into Raven's glistening, warm opening. Raven bucked her hips frantically, trying to get Anya to go further, but Anya was determined to get there at her own pace, and she pulled her hand back slowly to stay just out of reach.

"Anya," Raven gasped. "Please…I can't…I can't take much more of this…you're driving me crazy. Please…please," she panted, thrusting her hips up between words.

Once again Anya felt a tightening in her core, and she suddenly ground down on Raven's toned, muscular thigh as she abruptly entered Raven with two fingers and began a slow thrusting motion with her fingers, in time with her grinding on Raven's thigh.

Anya marveled at the warmth and softness of Raven's inner walls as she buried her face next to the brunette's and panted in her ear. "You feel so good, Raven. Fuck!"

"Oh…oh! Oh, my God…yes! Anya! Yes!" Raven gasped out, her nails scratching up and down the blonde's back as she lifted her hips to meet each of Anya's thrusts. Anya gradually sped up her motion, going deeper with each push and pulling out almost all the way before slamming back into Raven's bucking hips as she met her thrust for thrust, Anya's hips keeping pace on Raven's leg.

She could feel Raven starting to tense, her breathing becoming more ragged as the soft profanities continued to pour from her lips, so she slowed down and became a more gentle with her motions. She heard Raven whimper in protest, but it quickly turned into another deep moan as Anya brushed her clit roughly with her thumb as she continued to pump in and out of the brunette.

"Oh my God, Anya!" Raven exclaimed, her hands tightening around the blonde's shoulders. "Harder…please…faster!"

Anya complied immediately, picking up the pace with both her hand and her hips, brushing against Raven's clit randomly which caused the dark haired girl to cry out. Raven's hips rushed to meet Anya's hand, pulling her in farther with each frenzied thrust. Anya ground down mercilessly on Raven's thigh, pounding into the younger girl. She added a third finger, and Raven cried out again, her nails digging into Anya's shoulders. Anya could feel Raven's smooth walls start to clench around her driving digits, so she withdrew a finger and began to curl her two remaining fingers forward to hit the front wall of the gasping woman beneath her. With every thrust, she hit that spot inside of Raven, and brushed her thumb against her clit, that caused the girl to cry out, "Anya, yes, oh my god! Yes!"

"Oh! Anya…I'm going…I'm going to…" Raven couldn't finish as her head was thrown back and her fingers clenched painfully into Anya's shoulders, her whole body tensed like a strung bow and her back arched off the couch as she released Anya's name in a guttural moan, boarding on a scream. Anya was panting and grunting into Raven's ear with each thrust and could feel herself teetering on the edge of oblivion. She barely managed to keep her motion together when she heard Raven practically scream out her name and as soon as she felt Raven shudder underneath her she let herself go as well with a loud groan and a breathy "Raven" and a final hard thrust again a muscular thigh. She continued to move in and out of Raven, slowly and gently, as Raven rode out her orgasm, also continuing to push into Raven's thigh, but with significantly less force, in order to ride out her own. After a few blissful moments, she felt Raven relax and she stopped her motion and carefully removed her fingers and brought her hand up to rest on Raven's chest. Anya propped herself up on her left arm more fully, and looked down at the woman beneath her, taking in her satisfied grin. When both women had their breathing under control, Raven opened her eyes and took in the sight of the magnificent blonde atop her.

"That was…" Raven whispered.

"Yeah," Anya whispered back, tucking a stray strand of dark hair behind Raven's ear. "It was."

Raven looked around her living room and then back up at Anya. "So, about dinner…"

Anya smirked and cocked an eyebrow, "What about it?"

"Why don't we move this to my room and I can have dessert," Raven coyly suggested.

"I thought you'd never ask," Anya replied, her grin growing as she slid off the smaller girl and stood up before reaching down and helping Raven up and then letting the brunette lead her towards the hallway.

"I guess since you are showing me your room, I've been 'good' enough?" Anya asked with a grin, admiring the way Raven's muscles moved as she walked (swayed) in front of her.

Raven threw a smug look over her shoulder, shooting a wink at the blonde. "Oh General, you were good all right…but you're going to be a whole lot better by the time I'm through with you."

Anya laughed lightly and squeezed Raven's hand as she crossed the threshold into the bedroom, taking in the vast expanse of the queen-sized bed. "I can hardly wait."

Chapter Text

Morning came very early for Raven, who stretched languidly and then momentarily froze when she registered the warmth pressed against her side and the arm that was thrown lazily across her waist.  A slow smile spread across her face as she brought her arms down and wrapped them around the blonde next to her.  She leaned down and placed a soft kiss on the top of Anya's head and then started to shift herself away to vacate the bed. Anya tightened her grip on Raven's waist in protest before she groaned.

 

"Uggghhh, what time is it?" Anya sleepily husked out.

 

Raven lightly laughed as she moved to extract herself again, lifting Anya's arm from around her waist and sitting up at the edge of the bed. "Six," Raven whispered. "I have to go to hockey practice. Go back to sleep. I should be back by ten"

 

"Shit!" Anya exclaimed, suddenly sitting upright in bed, the sheet sliding down her chest to pool around her waist.

 

Raven eyed her appreciatively. "What?"

 

"I didn't call or text Lexa at all last night," Anya lamented, looking around frantically for her phone.

 

"Uh-oh," Raven smirked. "Will she send out a search party?"

 

"Where's my phone?" Anya asked, completely ignoring the other girl.

 

"Probably wherever your pants are," Raven said with a wicked grin.

 

Anya rolled her eyes before getting up and walking naked out of the room, brushing past Raven purposefully on her way.

 

Raven gulped and then quickly pulled on her sports bra and tights and started packing up her hockey gear. When she finished, she sauntered out into the living room to find a fully dressed Anya, typing away on her phone.

 

"If we leave now, I could drop you off before I head to practice," Raven commented when Anya looked up at her.

 

"Actually," Anya replied. "I thought I'd come watch the practice if that's okay, and maybe you could drop me off after that?"

 

Raven grinned at her. "Got a thing for women in uniform, General?"

 

Anya rolled her eyes, but couldn't help the grin tugging at her lips. "Hardly, but I'm not going to be here when you play The Grounders, and I want to see what all the fuss is about The Arkers."

 

"Well, who am I to deny you that privilege?" Raven said "Plus, as a bonus, I now have time for a quick breakfast before practice.  Can I make you a smoothie?"

 

Anya nodded, and Raven went about pulling out fruit, yogurt and a blender as Anya went to freshen up. Raven made a strawberry/mango smoothie with a shot of protein powder and put them in to-go cups, before taking a quick turn in the bathroom. Upon exiting, she grabbed her gear and smoothie and gave Anya a grateful nod and a quick kiss on the cheek as she grabbed Raven's sticks for her and they headed out to the arena.

 

_____________________________________________

 

It was still dark when Clarke left for practice, a travel mug of her favourite tea in hand and the sun still an hour or so away from breaking over the horizon. The drive to the rink was quiet, relaxing and free of traffic as it was too early for most to be on their way anywhere.  Clarke felt a shiver of anticipation race through her belly at the thought of being on the ice again as she drove through the quiet residential area and into the city park that housed the ice arena.

She parked her car and walked into the arena, her gear bag slung casually over her shoulder and her sticks clasped lightly in her left hand.  She opened the door to the change room and was surprised to see that she was the first to arrive. She found a spot and started pulling out her limited gear. She had just finished lacing her first skate when Octavia strolled in, a jaw-cracking yawn splitting her face.

 

Clarke smiled at her friend and nodded to the space beside her on the bench. "Hi, O."

 

"Hey, Clarkey," Octavia replied, stifling another yawn.

 

Octavia began pulling out her gear and within minutes, more of their team members started trickling into the change room in varying states of alertness. 

 

By the time Raven strolled in, looking ridiculously awake, Clarke was finished with her skates and had wiped down the visor on the top portion of the cage on her helmet.

 

Clarke glanced up at her friend as she squeezed in beside her and Octavia with her brows raised. "You're alive!"

 

Octavia snorted, and looked over at her two best friends in amusement as Raven said, "I have no idea what you’re talking about, Clarke."

 

Clarke scoffed. "You’ve been incommunicado since we said goodbye at the Dropship. What happened? Did you fall into a snowbank, or into a hole?"

 

 “Or into Anya’s…” Octavia started but cut off her sentence as she flinched back to avoid the slap that Raven had aimed at her.

 

Clarke cackled as she watched the flush creep up Raven's neck. "Oh my God, Rae! You did!"

 

"I hate you both. You know that, right? Now shut up and get dressed," Raven sulkily replied.

 

Both Clarke and Octavia laughed again, passing a knowing look between them. They would get it out of her later.

 

A few of the girls on the team had been eyeing Clarke as she got dressed. One such teammate decided to ask the question that many of them were wondering.

 

"Umm, Clarke?" Kim said. "Why aren't you fully dressed?"

 

Clarke glanced up at the first year player in surprise and then quickly glanced at Octavia and Raven who both cringed and then over to Monroe and Harper who both quickly shook their heads and dropped their eyes. Fox also looked uncomfortable, but the rest of the team regarded Clarke curiously, and it suddenly occurred to Clarke that not everyone on the team was aware of her injury or the circumstances around it.  There were a few, of course, those who traveled in the same circle of friends and had been at the party. However, most of the team had no idea.

 

"Oh, uh, I had a bit of a fall over the break and got a concussion." Clarke began, taking in the looks of shock and concern around the room. "That was three weeks ago, though, so I'm allowed to come out and skate around, but not much else for a bit yet."

 

"Will you be back for the game next week?" Bryn, another first-year player, asked, concern evident in her voice.

 

"I hope so," Clarke said with a sigh. "It depends how today and the rest of the week goes."

 

The other girls nodded, some of them whispering amongst themselves as they finished getting dressed.  Clarke decided she should just go, so she looked at her friends. "See you out there."

 

Clarke stepped out onto the pristine sheet and took a deep breath, her nose crinkling against the cold.  She loved the feel, the smell of the rink; so clean and new, with a slight metallic tang from the refrigeration units. And she especially enjoyed being the first on a freshly scraped sheet of ice.  She looked over at the bench to see Marcus Kane bending over to pull out a whiteboard and his gloves.

 

"Hey, Coach!" Clarke yelled as she skated towards the bench.

 

Kane straightened and looked at Clarke in surprise. "Clarke! I didn't expect to see you here. I thought for sure Abby would have you under lock and key."

 

"I had to convince her," Clarke said wryly, then continued as she pointed down at her lack of gear. "And I'm not allowed to do too much."

 

Kane nodded and stepped onto the ice. "Well, I'll leave it up to you to decide what and how much to do, Clarke. Please be careful, I don’t want you to have any setbacks," he said looking at her seriously.

 

Clarke saluted and then grinned at him cheekily before she started a slow lap around the ice as the rest of her team began to sprinkle out to start their warm-up. Clarke joined them in a team stretch and a few laps, making sure not to get her heart rate up too far.  She then worked out the goalies with the team, each player taking their turn firing shots at the net minders, before moving to stand with Kane as he explained the next drill. 

 

Once explanations were through, Clarke nodded at Charlotte, the backup goalie and pointed to the other end. Charlotte brightened considerably, nodding back eagerly and headed towards the other end of the ice sheet. As she skated toward the other end, Clarke happened to look into the stands and saw Anya sitting near the top, nursing a coffee in her hands, watching the practice unfold below her. 

 

Clarke shot a look at Raven, managing to catch her eye before the brunette shrugged and waggled her eyebrows before she turned away. Clarke smiled to herself and shook her head, before following Charlotte to the other end.

 

Backup goalies never got the workout that the starters did, generally only getting the occasional turn at whatever end the drills were occurring, and if they were really lucky, if the team had time for a scrimmage, so Clarke was happy to help Charlotte get a workout in as well.  They set up and discussed what areas Charlotte would like to work on. Clarke warmed her up carefully, making her move with some hard shots and some that were off-speed before focusing in on certain areas.  

 

Clarke knew that there are five main areas in the net a player could score, the first two being high and low glove side respectively. Three and four, high and low stick side, and the fifth between the goalies legs, which hockey players refer to as the five-hole. She started by firing shot after shot at Charlotte's glove side, making her move it up and down, quickly flicking the caught pucks out of her glove to ready herself for the next bullet Clarke fired her way.

 

She then moved to her blocker/stick side, making sure to keep the pucks in the air to make Charlotte use her blocker to make the save.  They discussed the best angles to push the pucks away, with Clarke then trying to jump on the rebounds so that Charlotte could see the potential consequences of not trying to control the direction of the rebounding puck. 

 

From there they moved to pucks that Clarke shot low and along the ice. She made the goaltender move from side to side; made her stretch to stop pucks from squeezing in between her skates and the posts, or have to direct them away with the blade of her stick, or slam her pads shut to stop the puck from popping through the ‘five-hole’. Clarke also was quick to let a second puck occasionally fly after Charlotte's original save, forcing her to either get up very quickly or to stack her pads to keep the second puck out of the back of the net.

 

Clarke was impressed with Charlotte, not having spent quite so much time with the goalie before. She was usually working with Harper, Charlotte only getting the occasional turn during practice.  Kane had looked over a few times to see what was happening at the other end and decided to skate down while the rest of the team were working on a man-advantage drill.

 

Clarke saw him coming and stopped shooting, Charlotte took the moment to push back her helmet and drink greedily from her water bottle.  Kane noticed the flush of his goaltender's cheeks and the sweat pouring down her face in approval.

 

"How's it going down here, ladies?" Kane asked.

 

"Pretty good," Clarke replied. "I broke a stick, though. I'm glad I didn't bring my good one."

 

"Maybe if you didn't shoot so hard, you wouldn't break your stick," Charlotte panted. Clarke just grinned.

 

Kane smiled and turned to the goalie. "Feel like taking a turn at the other end, Charlotte?"

 

"Yes, Coach!" the young woman said, surprised. She grabbed her water bottle and started skating towards the other end.

 

"Send Harper down here please," Kane yelled after her.

 

Charlotte spun in a slow 360, saluting Kane as she faced him and then proceeded on her way. It always amazed Clarke how agile the goalies were in all their gear. She watched Charlotte speak to Harper and point down their way before she took her place in net.

 

Clarke looked at Kane, eyebrows raised in question.

 

Kane just shrugged. "I noticed what you were doing with Charlotte, and I think Harper could use that kind of practice as well.  They don't usually get that type of time to work on positioning, shot after shot.  I also noticed how well she was doing and wanted to reward her with some simulated game play time."

 

Clarke nodded and then faced Harper as she skated closer with a look of confusion on her face.

 

"Ready to sweat, Harp?" Clarke asked with a grin.

 

"What?" Harper asked, even more confused.

 

"I'll leave you to it, ladies," Kane said and skated away.

 

Clarke explained to Harper what they would be doing, comprehension dawning on the goaltender's face, along with excitement.

 

Clarke worked Harper in a similar manner to what she had done with Charlotte, noting that Harper was a bit smoother in her motions and quicker to get up and get back into position.  There was a reason she was the starting goalie, after all.

 

The rest of the practice went by in a blur, and it wasn't long before the team found themselves back in the change room.

 

Octavia and Clarke teased Raven mercilessly about the mere fact that Anya being at practice meant that she most likely never had gone back to Lexa's the day before. Raven shot mock glares at them both, then shrugged nonchalantly and gestured up and down her body. “Have you seen me? I can’t help it if Anya wants all of this. It’s a curse, really.” At that Raven gathered up her bag and headed out the door. “See you two losers later.”

 

Clarke and Octavia shared an amused glance before they too departed for the day.

 

"How are you feeling?" Octavia asked on the way out.

 

"Good. I took it pretty easy; I did get my heart rate up a bit with the pace I was shooting, but so far no ill effects.  I’m going to call it a success, and make sure my mom feels that way too." Clarke said happily.

 

"That's great," Octavia said. "Maybe more participation in Thursday's practice?"

 

"Fingers crossed, O," Clarke replied, crossing her fingers in front of her.

 

Octavia laughed and said her goodbye to Clarke as both women unlocked their respective cars and headed home.

 

____________________________________________________

 

Raven collected Anya in the lobby and hustled her out of the arena.

 

"What's the rush?" Anya asked. "Trying to get rid of me?"

 

"What?! No!" Raven sputtered, eyes wide. "I just don't want Clarke and O to come out here and give us the third degree."

 

Anya smirked at the brunette, grabbed her sticks from her and leaned in and placed a chaste kiss on Raven's cheek.

 

Raven smirked back at her., "You'd make an excellent hockey wife, you know that?"

 

Anya rolled her eyes, a small grin on her face before replying, "Come on grease monkey. Take me home."

 

They rode back to Lexa's in companionable silence. Raven sneaking glances at Anya every so often, before she finally cleared her throat and asked, "So. When do you head back to Seattle?"

 

Anya turned her head to look at Raven. "Saturday morning. I'm going to go to Lexa's hockey game on Friday night, and then I head out fairly early the next day."

 

Raven nodded as if to herself. "So, three full days. Four if you count today." She sighed and glanced at Anya quickly before looking back to the road. "I still need to take you on a date."

 

Anya laughed. "Yes, you do. Also, would you come and watch the game with me on Friday? If you don't have one of your own, I mean."

 

"Hmmm," Raven said nodding. "We don't play until next week. I imagine we could get quite the contingent to watch actually. I'm pretty sure Clarke would come, and if you get Lincoln to go, Octavia would be there in a heartbeat," Raven said nodding. "As for our date, how does tomorrow night sound? I have practice again on Thursday morning."

 

"Are you suggesting that I come with you to practice again?" Anya asked with a quirked brow.

 

"Don't tell me you didn't think about it, Cheekbones," Raven said with a knowing grin. "Last night was, well, let's just say I haven't felt like that in a very long time."

 

Anya looked at the brunette with soft eyes before quietly responding, "Me neither." She smiled at Raven and nodded. "Tomorrow night then, but maybe we could hang out tonight as well? Lexa has practice at 7, and I feel like I should go and watch since I essentially bailed on her last night with no warning."

 

Raven's smile spread from ear to ear as she nodded. "I would love to hang out with you. Would you like some company while you sit through Lexa's practice?"

 

"That would be great," Anya replied with a smile.

 

A few minutes later, Raven had pulled into Lexa's driveway and hopped out and sprinted around to open Anya's door for her. Anya rolled her eyes at her but accepted the brunette's hand as she guided her from the truck, and didn't let go as they walked up to the door.

 

Once at the door, they stood and stared at each other for a moment, before Raven leaned in to capture Anya's lips with her own.  Anya melted into the contact, bringing her arms around the brunette's shoulders, and Raven's hands rested lightly on Anya's waist. Just as Raven was about to reposition to deepen the kiss, the front door flew open, and the two women broke apart in surprise.

 

Lexa stood in the open door, with her jaw hanging open as she looked at Raven and her best friend. She recovered quickly, though, and a knowing look crossed her face as she leaned against the door jam, folding her arms across her chest.

 

"I'm guessing we’ll be seeing quite a bit more of each other in the next three days," Lexa said to Raven with a smirk.

 

Raven briefly eyed Lexa back before returning her gaze to Anya. "Yes, I suppose you will."  With that, she leaned in and placed another quick kiss on Anya's lips, nodded to Lexa and then marched back to her truck.

 

Anya and Lexa moved inside the house, Lexa side-eyeing her friend the whole time. When they finally made it inside and closed the door, Lexa broke the silence, asking softly. "What are you doing, An?"

 

Anya looked at her best friend and sighed. "I don't know. Right now I don't care. I like her, Lexa."

 

Lexa wrapped her up in a hug and whispered, "I can tell. I'm happy for you Anya, I really am. But what happens in three days when you go home?"

 

Anya pulled away and ran her fingers through her hair. "I'm not worrying about that right now. Future Anya can deal with that. I’m just going to go with it for now and not waste the opportunity I have." She looked at Lexa again and looked like she was about to say something, but whatever it was she sighed and instead said, "She's going to come to practice with me tonight to keep me company while I watch your sorry ass. She also asked to take me on a date tomorrow.”

 

Anya looked slightly uncomfortable and shifted on her feet.  She looked away from Lexa and then back at her taking a deep breath. “I know I came out to spend time with you, Lex, and to reconnect. So if you’d rather I stay and hang out with you, I will…I don’t have to go out with Raven.”

 

Lexa was silent for a moment, thinking about what Anya had said before shaking her head. “You go ahead, An. You’ve been here for almost three weeks, and we’ve spent most of that time together. I’m really happy that you have found someone you are interested in, and I don’t want to keep you from that.”

 

Anya stepped into Lexa’s space and wrapped her up in a hug, placing a soft kiss on her cheek. “You’re the best, you know that?”

 

Lexa laughed and pushed Anya away from her. ”Besides, I’ll be leaving you to your own devices for a little while this afternoon.”

 

Anya quirked a brow and regarded Lexa carefully, noticing the slight blush starting to creep up her neck. “And why is that?”

 

Lexa’s blush deepened, “I’m meeting Clarke at the Dropship at two.”

 

Anya beamed at her and squeezed Lexa’s arm. “I’m glad you’re getting out of the house and being social, Lex. I like Clarke, she’s good people. I like her friends too, and I'm telling you now that I will most likely not be coming back after my date tomorrow. I am also dragging her to your game on Friday night."

 

Lexa watched her best friend with amusement. "Will you be coming back with me after that?" she said with a smile.

 

Anya almost looked offended. "Of course, I will. It’ll be my last night with you before I go. How can you even ask me that?"

 

Lexa put her hands up in surrender and smiled. "Just checking. But just so you know, if you wanted to spend it with Raven, I would understand."

 

"Thanks, kid," Anya said with sincerity. "But I want to spend that time with you."

 

Lexa nodded and smiled at her friend. "So, you went and watched The Arkers practice. What did you think?"

 

"They're good.  Lots of skill from what I saw. Determined, sharp and every single one of them works so damn hard," Anya finished with respect in her voice. "I can see why they gave you a run for your money. And I can only imagine at this point what your team is like, but knowing you; I have a pretty good idea."

 

Lexa fidgeted back and forth for a moment before asking quietly, "Did you see Clarke?"

 

Anya smiled at Lexa and nodded. "Yeah. She didn't do too much. She spent the practice working with the goalies.  She's got one hell of a shot," Anya added with awe. "I didn't see her miss the net once, and it looked like she could put the puck pretty much anywhere she wanted to.  She was working the goalies really hard.  I think her coach was impressed because he made Clarke do it all again with their starter."

 

Lexa felt a burst of pride blossom in her chest hearing her best friend, praise Clarke. She knew she had no claim on the blonde, nor any reason to be proud of her, but she was nonetheless.

 

"I wish I could see her play," Anya added absently.

 

"Well, you said you wanted to come back at Spring Break. We’ll either see them in league play or, there's a tournament that I think both teams will be in during that time as well," Lexa said.

 

"Right. Well, we'll see," Anya said before covering her mouth as she yawned. "I'm going to take a bit of a nap, okay?"

 

"No problem,” Lexa said to Anya’s back as she made her way to the spare room. Anya just waved at her over her shoulder, not bothering to turn around.

 

Lexa wandered back over to the table and grabbed the textbook she had abandoned when she’d heard Raven's truck in the driveway, and got back to her reading.

__________________________________________________________

Clarke wandered into her house and dropped her duffel on the floor in the foyer as she peeled off her outerwear.  She jerked suddenly in surprise when she heard "Hey, kiddo," from the direction of the living room.

 

Clarke turned her head and saw her father sitting with her mother, his arm slung casually across Abby's shoulders, as he grinned at his daughter.

 

"Dad! Hi!" She quickly finished hanging up her coat and storing her cap and gloves and headed over to the couch to join them.  She plopped herself down next to her father and then reached over to give him a tight hug.

 

"Sorry.  Just finished practice. I'm a bit stinky," Clarke brightly said, winking at Jake.

 

"No worries, kid. I'm used to it.  I missed you," Jake said with affection.

 

"I missed you too, Dad. I'm glad you're home," Clarke said. "I thought you'd be home last night before I went to bed. I'm sorry I missed you."

 

Jake sighed, running a hand through is short sandy hair. "They delayed my flight for a couple of hours, so I didn't get in until after midnight."

 

"Oh, well. I'm glad you're here now," Clarke said giving her father kiss on the cheek.

 

"Me too. So, how was practice? You didn't overdo it, I hope?" Jake asked, looking closely at his daughter.

 

Abby leaned out so she could see Clarke better, interest in the answer obvious on her face.

 

"No, I didn't overdo it," Clarke said, rolling her eyes. "I got a bit sweaty because I mainly shot pucks for an hour and a half straight.  I broke a stick," she added in disgust.

 

Jake laughed and clapped Clarke on the shoulder. Abby's eyes flicked over Clarke looking for any indication that she was feeling unwell.

 

"How do you feel now?" Abby asked Clarke. "Headache?"

 

"No," Clarke replied. "I feel great. Just tired.  That's more activity than I’ve done in three weeks, and it was freaking early!"

 

Her parents laughed lightly, and Abby nodded before addressing Clarke seriously. "Okay then.  You can go to the gym tomorrow and do some light cardio and see how you hold up.  Same rules apply, though.  If that goes well, you can start integrating yourself back into practice on Thursday, but I don't want you to go too hard yet. Be cautious, I know you’re antsy but better safe than sorry, Clarke."

 

Clarke nodded and grinned at her parents. "Thanks, Mom.  How's work, Dad?"

 

"It's going well," Jake shared. "We finally managed to control the fuel/air ratio for the new rocket propulsion system. They’ll be testing them when I go back next week. If that goes well, then we can start implementing them into the next stage rockets for the space station."

 

"That's great, Dad. I'm happy it's finally coming together for you," Clarke said with a smile and leaning in to give her father another kiss on his cheek. "I think I'm going to go have a quick shower and maybe a bit of a catnap."

 

"Thanks, kiddo. Are you sticking around today?" her father asked. "Can we all have lunch together? I'll make quesadillas," he offered.

 

"Oooohhhh," Clarke responded, rubbing her palms together. "How can I say no to your quesadillas? I'm meeting Lexa at two, though, so let's not make it too late, okay?"

 

Jake and Abby exchanged a glance as Clarke headed back to the foyer to pick up her bag and take it to the garage to empty and dry out her skates and gloves.

 

"Lexa?" Jake asked once Clarke had passed through the living room, brows raised in surprise. "As in Gustus' niece, the captain of The Grounders?"

 

Abby smiled at her husband and patted his knee. "That's the one," she said as she got up and headed into the kitchen. "Do I need to pull out some chicken for lunch or are you just going to do the four cheese version?" she threw over her shoulder.

 

"Four cheese," Jake replied, scrambling off the couch to follow his wife into the kitchen. "What do you mean 'that's the one?' When did this happen? What exactly is going on here?" Jake asked, confused.

 

Abby grinned at her husband and wrapped him up in a hug when he caught up with her in the kitchen. "Welcome home, hon." She then proceeded to fill him in in all he had missed while he’d been away.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lunch with the parents was enjoyable, and Clarke felt much more like herself after her nap.  Before she could even think about where the time had gone, she found herself sitting in cozy, two-person seat near the back corner of the Dropship.  Clarke was early, her nerves only causing her to pace around her room, so she grabbed her book and headed to the coffee shop to wait for Lexa. 

 

She had contemplated bringing a text but wanted something that didn’t require a lot of thought, so her battered copy of The Martian kept her company. She took out her book and began to read while she waited, small chuckles escaping her every so often. She had read the book through at least twice before, but Clarke was always amused by the prose and enjoyed the mix of drama and humor immensely.

 

She read for about a half an hour before checking her phone and realizing that Lexa would be there any minute.  She continued to read, but her eyes kept straying to the door, watching for the brunette’s arrival.  It wasn't long before Lexa strode into the bustling cafe, brushing snowflakes from her face and hair.  Clarke had stopped reading and was staring with her mouth open at the beauty in front of her.  It took her a moment and the realization that Lexa was looking around for her to snap out of it and quickly stand to attract Lexa's attention.  Lexa saw her, and Clarke swore she saw her eyes brighten before she started making her way to the secluded corner of the shop.

 

Clarke was just finishing putting her book back into her bag when Lexa finally made her way over. Clarke stood and looked at Lexa for a moment, before reaching out and giving her a quick hug. It was so quick that Lexa didn't even have time to react to it before Clarke had pulled back and indicated for Lexa to sit. Clarke's heart was beating so hard that she felt sure that if she had prolonged the hug anymore, Lexa would have certainly felt it pounding against her chest.

 

"Hi, Lex," Clarke said with a smile as they sat. "Thanks for coming."

 

"My pleasure. Thanks for inviting me," Lexa replied as she took off her coat and draped it over her chair. She pointed at the book poking out of Clarke's bag with a smile of her own. "How long have you been here?"

 

Clarke grinned sheepishly and shrugged. "About 45 minutes. I had nothing to do at home, so I thought I'd come and hang and read a bit before you got here."

 

"Oh. What are you reading?" Lexa asked.

 

“The Martian. Have you read it?”

 

“Yes! I love that book. The movie was pretty good too, but they left out some things that would have made it more suspenseful,” Lexa said.

 

“Hmm,” Clarke hummed. “You mean like breaking the Rover so he couldn’t talk to NASA anymore, and the trailer flipping over on his way to Ares IV?”

 

“Exactly!” Lexa exclaimed.

 

“Maybe it would’ve made the movie too long?” Clarke offered.

 

“Maybe,” Lexa agreed. “It was still good, though.” She paused and eyed Clarke somewhat shyly. “What else have you been up to today?”

 

“Not much, I spent some time playing my guitar, and got some reading done for one of my bio classes,” Clarke replied.

 

Lexa perked up slightly when Clarke mentioned playing the guitar. “Oh? Are you working on anything new?”

 

"I'm working on a new Joshua Radin song," Clarke softly said as she glanced away from Lexa's eyes. "As well as a few more."

 

Lexa smiled again, remembering the last time Clarke had played a song from that particular artist. New Year's Eve, one of the best nights Lexa could remember in a very long time. "You seem to like him.  I'll have to check out more of his music," Lexa commented.

 

"I do," Clarke said, energy and excitement picking up. She scooted forward in her seat as she began talking about the artist and the fact that most of his work was very guitar heavy, and how much she loved the way he played.

 

"I also feel very connected to his lyrics.  There are not many of his songs that don't remind me of someone, or myself. I sometimes think that songs can express how I'm feeling much better than I could ever articulate myself." Clarke took a breath, looking at Lexa who was listening to Clarke's musical monologue with rapt attention. Clarke shifted before continuing. "However, how people interpret lyrics is so personal, how I feel about a song, isn't necessarily how Octavia would feel about it, or how you might feel about it."

 

Lexa was nodding at Clarke's commentary. "Well, I suppose I'm going to have to go and listen to his music and see what all the fuss is about." Lexa paused before looking Clarke in the eye and adding softly, "I know I liked the one you played on New Year's Eve already." Lexa looked away and down at the table as soon as she said it, so she missed Clarke's deep inhale of breath and slightly widened eyes.

 

Clarke took a moment to compose herself before she responded. "I could make you a playlist of all my favourites if you’d like."

 

Lexa looked back at the blonde, and a small grin pulled at the corners of her mouth. "I'd like that, Clarke. Thank you."

 

Clarke nodded and then indicated the barista. "Want a tea?"

 

"Yes, but it's my turn," Lexa said getting up. "Same as last time?"

 

Clarke nodded, and Lexa walked away to collect their teas.

 

Lexa returned shortly with two steaming cups of aromatic tea. She handed one to Clarke who took it and sniffed appreciatively before taking a small sip. She placed the cup on the short table in front of her with a sigh and watched as a small smile graced Lexa’s pink lips as she also took a sip. Lexa placed her cup on the table across from Clarke’s and looked up into cerulean blue eyes that seemed to capture her own and inexplicitly draw her in. The two women started at each other for a moment, before Lexa cleared her throat and asked Clarke what she thought of the World Jr. results. Clarke broke eye contact, shook her head slightly and inhaled deeply before looking back at Lexa with a shy smile.

 

The two women talked about the result of the World Jr.'s (Canada won, beating the US in the gold medal game), their hockey teams and what they expected for the rest of the season.

 

"I have no doubt that our two teams will meet in the final again this year," Clarke stated.

 

"Except, this time, the Grounders will win," Lexa said firmly.

 

"Oh, really?" Clarke laughed. "Well, you're going to have to pick up your game then, Woods. I mean, I didn't even know you last time we played, and you couldn't beat us then. What makes you think you will this time when I now know you better and can pick on your weaknesses?"

 

"You forget, Clarke that I also now know you better. That door swings both ways," Lexa replied with an amused smirk and a raised brow.

 

"As do I, my friend, as do I," Clarke laughed, shooting Lexa a wry glance.

 

Lexa opened her mouth, gaping at the woman in front of her as a blush climbed her cheeks. She snapped her mouth shut and cleared her throat before she responded, trying not to notice how Clarke's eyes sparkled with amusement.

 

"Oh, my God, Clarke," Lexa finally got out, shaking her head.

 

"What? Come on; Raven would have been all over that one. It would have been high-five worthy at the very least!" Clarke said with a laugh, leaning back in her chair and pushing her hair behind her ears.

 

Lexa watched Clarke intently, taking in all her little mannerisms and filing them away in her memory. She cleared her throat again and attempted to steady her voice before venturing back to hockey.

 

"When do you play The Ice Nation next?" she asked.

 

Clarke scowled, and a look of distaste crossed her face before she answered. "Two weeks. We have the Peacemakers next week, and then Ice Nation the following week."

 

Lexa grimaced. "That's not much time, Clarke. Are you going to be ready?"

 

Clarke smiled warmly at the concern evident in Lexa's tone. "I think so. The Peacemakers are a great bunch of girls, but not horribly strong this year. It will be an excellent warm-up game for me to get back into the swing of things."

 

Lexa nodded, remembering the game The Grounders had played against the Peacemakers, thinking that their team name fit their team outlook and attitude perfectly. "I'm still worried about the Ice Nation's captain, though. If she finds out that you were hurt recently, she'll try to take advantage of that." Lexa commented, looking away with a frown on her face.

 

Clarke sighed. "I know. She's dirty as hell. It's amazing what she gets away with, but she's so damn sneaky about throwing her shots when the refs aren't looking.  There're a couple of female refs that have a pretty good grasp of her antics and keep an eye on her. The male refs, though, don't seem to care. Often it's like they just want the game over with as fast as possible so they can get to their men's division games.  It's infuriating!" Clarke finished, clenching her fists.

 

Lexa nodded in understanding, knowing exactly what Clarke was talking about. Unfortunately, there weren't enough female refs for all the women's games, so they could only hope they got a pair of officials that took pride in their job, were respectful and worked hard.

 

"You still need to be careful, Clarke," Lexa said, her voice and facial expressions set in the most serious manner Clarke had ever seen on the brunette's face. And that was saying something.

 

"I will, Lex," Clarke said just as seriously. "I'll try to stay away from her when possible, and I'll try to give the refs a heads up before the game. I can only hope that she hasn't heard anything about my injury."

 

Lexa sat quietly, staring at her hands as Clarke talked. A few moments of silence passed after Clarke had finished speaking and still Lexa sat in silence. She flinched when Clarke reached over and placed a hand on Lexa's arm.

 

"Lex?" Clarke asked, concerned.

 

Lexa took a deep breath and let it out slowly before she looked up into Clarke's worried blue eyes.

 

"I just...I don't...I can't..." Lexa stuttered before blurting out in a rush "youjustneedtobecarefulokay."

 

"What? Lex, slow down," Clarke said, giving her arm a squeeze.

 

Lexa took another deep breath and placed her hand on top of Clarke's one resting on her arm. She gave Clarke's hand a gentle squeeze before trying again.

 

"Promise me you'll be careful. Please," Lexa looked into Clarke's eyes, her emerald gaze pleading.

 

Clarke's face softened as she regarded the beautiful brunette in front of her. "I promise that I will do my best to be careful," Clarke said carefully. Then in an attempt to dampen the suddenly electric atmosphere she added, "Is Gustus going to enter The Grounders in the Spring Break Tournament?"

 

Lexa looked surprised by the sudden shift in conversation but quickly caught up. "I'm not sure." She felt Clarke pull her hand out from her own and away from her arm and immediately mourned the loss of the warmth and contact. She subconsciously rubbed the spot on her arm that Clarke's hand had so recently vacated. If Clarke noticed, she didn't say anything, and Lexa didn't say if she saw Clarke clenching the hand that had been on Lexa's arm and then rubbing her palm on jean-clad thigh over and over.

 

"He mentioned it once a bit ago, but I wasn't horribly receptive at the time, so he dropped it, and he hasn't brought it up again since" Lexa continued.

 

"Kane hasn't mentioned it yet either," Clarke responded. "He may just want to focus on playoffs. Especially since our biggest competition has become even more so with the addition of an incredibly talented new center."

 

Lexa blushed, and Clarke beamed at her. "Oh shush, you," Lexa said shyly, looking away from Clarke's piercing gaze.

 

"Well, it's true. You are incredibly talented. I can't believe you're just playing competitive rec hockey, Lex. You could do so much more," Clarke said sincerely.

 

Lexa looked up at Clarke and saw the sincerity in the blonde's gaze. "I was approached by some National team scouts when I was in my junior year of high school," Lexa said, hesitantly, slightly uncomfortable. She saw how Clarke's eyes widened in awe and continued before Clarke could say anything. "They wanted me to go to a junior training camp over the summer."

 

"O. M. Goodness!" Clarke squealed. "Did you go?"

 

Lexa chuckled, feeling less uncomfortable about talking about herself with the blonde. "First of all, did you just quote Zootopia to me, Clarke? And second, yes, I did,"

 

"Holy crap, Lex! That's amazing! What happened?" Clarke was practically vibrating with excitement.

 

"Zootopia, Clarke?" Lexa teased.

 

"It's the best line in the whole movie, Lexa! We could have a whole other discussion on the messages in that film," Clarke said waving her hand in the air. "Now focus! I want details," Clarke responded with a mock glare and then rubbed her hands together in anticipation.

 

"I went, I learned a lot, I went back home," Lexa said with a shrug of her shoulders.

 

"What?!" Clarke exclaimed. "That's it?"

 

"I was a junior, Clarke. I had a year of high school left. I was serious about my education and my...my parents had very high expectations of me. I was offered a spot on the junior team, but it would have meant moving away from home, starting a new school, which I wouldn't actually be in much due to the expected amount of training and travel required." Lexa shrugged as if it were no big deal, "I wasn't ready to do that." A sad, pensive look crossed her face as she quietly whispered, "but maybe if I had..."

 

Clarke almost missed the last whispered comment, but she didn't miss the look that crossed Lexa's face. A pang of sympathy spiked through Clarke's chest, and she had to stop herself from reaching out and wrapping Lexa up in a hug.  Clarke wasn't sure how she knew, but she didn't believe Lexa meant that last whispered comment to be said aloud, and she also knew that whatever was behind it, Lexa wasn't ready to share that part of her life with Clarke. Not yet. So Clarke ignored it and asked another question instead.

 

"Where you ever scouted again?" she asked.

 

"I played on a triple A team in my first two years of University. Our team was excellent, and I had some scouts show some interest, but it wasn't until the winter of my third year that they made me an offer," Lexa's voice had become softer as she talked, and Clarke was leaning forward, straining to hear her by the end.

 

"What was the offer, Lex?" Clarke asked, much more subdued, taking her cue from Lexa's demeanor.

 

Lexa looked up at her, eyes shining. She swallowed and looked down, her hands tightly clasped together. She let out a shaky breath and whispered, "They invited me to try out for the National team."

 

Clarke knew that there was more. The way Lexa had tensed up was not the body language of someone who had been presented with the opportunity of a lifetime, so she remained quiet.

 

Eventually, Lexa started speaking again, quietly and slowly. "My parents and I talked about the consequences of the offer. It would mean putting my education on hold, which would mean putting off the plans my father had for me as well. I even called Gustus to talk to him about it to get his opinion," Lexa looked up and gave Clarke a small, sad smile as she said this last. Then the smile dropped, and she continued her narrative.

 

"I also had to consider the implications it would have on my relationship. I had been dating my girlfriend..." Lexa's voice slightly wavered before she took a deep breath and let it out shakily. "We had been dating since senior year of high school. If I went with the National team, it would mean leaving her behind too. I know that most girls would have dropped everything given that chance, but I needed time. They gave me until winter break, three weeks. I needed to be in Denver right at the start of December, at the very latest. So I made up my mind to decide within the week. There was no reason to put it off longer than that. If I couldn't make a decision in one week, I certainly wasn't going to be able to make it in three."

As Lexa's voice trailed off, Clarke could see the tensing in her shoulders and the stiffening of her spine as she sat on the chair across from her. Her face had become impassive and closed off, and a wave of almost anger seemed to wash off of her.

 

Lexa looked up, and Clarke could see the pain shining from Lexa's eyes. Clarke stared back, refusing to look away, letting Lexa know that she could talk to her, could tell her whatever it was that was that so tore her up.  Clarke let her eyes tell Lexa everything she was too unsure of to say.

 

Lexa knew she wasn't hiding her pain well, or even at all. When she looked up at Clarke, she didn't know what to expect from the woman sitting across from her, but it certainly wasn't the understanding, compassion or support she saw shining in Clarke's eyes. She felt affection bloom in the vicinity of her heart and gave Clarke a tremulous smile.

 

Lexa continued to stare into Clarke's shining blue eyes, and murmured, "I didn't go."

 

Lexa's eyes, however, said much more. Her glossy emerald gaze held Clarke's and Clarke could read the appreciation there. She saw the recognition of what Clarke was offering to Lexa, and she saw the 'one day, but not today' as plain as if Lexa had said it aloud. She saw resolve in Lexa's eyes and acceptance, acceptance of what Clarke wasn't sure, but it was there. She also saw hope and affection shining back at her, and it took her breath away. The two women said nothing, continuing to look into one another's eyes, and finally, Clarke nodded, as if in acceptance of all she had seen, and an affirmation that she would be there when Lexa was ready.

 

Lexa sighed and sagged in relief, releasing the tension she didn't realize she was holding until she felt it drain away. She didn't know what it was about Clarke that had her talking, hell, even thinking, about things she hadn't spoken of in years. She knew she would eventually tell Clarke everything; it was almost an involuntary reaction, but it terrified her because she didn't want Clarke to know how broken she was.

 

Clarke got up to refill their teas, to let Lexa compose herself. When Clarke got back to the table, Lexa glanced up at her shyly and took the offered tea with a quiet “thank you” and sipped it carefully.

 

They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes before Clarke finally spoke up. "Favourite book."

 

"I'm sorry, what?" Lexa asked confused.

 

Clarke smiled at her, "What's your favourite book?"

 

"Oh. That's an easy one. Fried Green Tomatoes. I just started reading it again," Lexa answered.

 

"I don't think I've ever read that," Clarke said thoughtfully.

 

"Clarke!” Lexa exclaimed, suddenly more animated than Clarke had ever seen her. “As a queer woman, you must read this book. It's fantastic! And sweet. And the two main characters are so loving but so discreet and respectful at the same time. And it is sad, and poignant..." Lexa sighed. "You just need to read it."

 

Clarke laughed as Lexa sighed again and collapsed back in her chair, happy to see that some of the previous tension and melancholy seemed to have drained away from Lexa. "I think I remember a movie with that title. Is it the same as the book?"

 

Lexa looked at her sternly, "Clarke, Hollywood adaptations of works of literature are never as good as the books themselves."

 

Clarke laughed again, putting her hands up in surrender. "I'm taking that as a yes, and the movie stunk?"

 

"Actually," Lexa said thoughtfully, "the movie was pretty good. Not as good as the book, but it was the nineties and there was only so much they could do that was considered socially acceptable at the time.  I think if someone was to redo it today, it might have more openly gay content. But some would argue that the subtleties and the sub context are what make the movie so enduring. Also, it's set during a time where women loving women wasn't even something people discussed as a possibility, so I'm not sure they could have made it any more overtly gay."

 

"Well," Clarke said raising her brows and her mug to her lips. She took a small sip and then shot Lexa a lopsided grin. "I'm intrigued. I’ll read the book if you’ll watch the movie with me."

 

Lexa's eyes widened, and she looked at Clarke in awe. "You want to watch the movie adaptation of my favourite book with me?"

 

"Uh, yeah," Clarke said, giggling at Lexa's reaction. "Who else would I watch it with?"

 

"Octavia or Raven?" Lexa offered, trying to sound as though her heart wasn't currently trying to pound its way out of her chest.

 

"I want to watch it with you, you dork," Clarke said playfully.

 

The right corner of Lexa's lip twitched upward, and her heart impossibly sped up yet again. She didn't trust herself to speak, so she simply nodded at Clarke, who clapped her hands with joy and said, "Great! It's a date!"

 

Lexa's eyes widened comically, and she almost spat out the sip of tea she had just taken but managed to suck it back in and swallow it too fast. It was also too hot, so not only did she start to choke because of the tea traveling down her trachea instead of her esophagus, it also burned all the way down.  Lexa barely managed to put the mug down on the table in front of her before coughing and waving her hand in front of her mouth. Clarke had jumped up the moment Lexa had started to choke and ran and got a glass of cold water. She made it back as Lexa was wheezing for breath, leaned over one side of the chair.

 

Clarke pressed the glass into Lexa's hand and rubbed soothing circles on her back, as the brunette tried to get her breathing back under control.

 

After a few moments and many sips of water later, Lexa finally managed to rasp out a scratchy "Thanks."

 

Clarke looked carefully at her before responding quietly, but with amusement, “are you okay?”

 

“Yes. My tea went down the wrong way,” Lexa said, looking away and straightening herself out.

 

Once Lexa was again sitting upright and in no fear of asphyxiating, she indicated the small cleared platform off in the far corner of the coffee shop.  It was well out of the way of the central area of the cafe, almost tucked away around a half wall, creating an intimate seating space around the dark and scuffed platform.

 

"What's that used for?" she asked Clarke, trying to cover her embarrassment and not think about what Clarke had said. It’s a date.

 

"Oh, that's a little performance stage," Clarke said looking over.  "Every week they have an informal open mic night. People get up and do spoken word, some people sing, some dance, and some play instruments. I saw someone play didgeridoo up there last year. That was interesting."

 

"Have you ever played your guitar up there?" Lexa asked, curious.

 

Clarke laughed, "Oh, God, no. I've never felt the need to perform in front of people. Plus, I hadn't played my guitar for a long time before picking it up again out of boredom while I convalesced."

 

"Well, I think you'd be great. I'd come and watch," Lexa said with a shrug and a small smile.

 

Clarke grinned back at her, "Hmmm, well, maybe I'll think about it."

 

From there the topic turned to the impending start of the school semester.

 

"So, you know that I’m in my third year of bioengineering," Clarke began. "I remember you mentioning something about business during our cutthroat game of Monopoly. Is that what you’re studying?"

 

Lexa wrapped her hands around her still-warm tea mug and nodded, looking into the murky depths of her cup. "Yes, I’m also in my third year. I’m majoring in Business Administration."

 

"That's great!" Clarke exclaimed. "Do you have your course schedule yet?"

 

Lexa nodded, looking at Clarke curiously.

 

Clarke noticed her look and continued with a shrug of her shoulders. "I thought that if our schedules matched up, we could carpool to school. I know you don't have a car, and it's not really out of my way to pick you up. I pick Raven up most days as well, as we have a lot of the same classes." Clarke seemed to realize that she was rambling, so she looked away from Lexa and cleared her throat. "I mean...if you want..."

 

Lexa was staring at Clarke and finally shook her head and smiled at the blonde in front of her, who was wearing a cautious expression. "That would be great, Clarke. I’d appreciate the ride. And the company." Lexa realized as she said it how much she meant it, and her chest felt a little bit lighter with the knowledge.

 

Clarke's smile was blinding. It lit up the room, and Lexa was dazzled once again. Lexa looked at the time and was shocked at how much time had passed. She had been so wrapped up in their comfortable (and on occasion, not so comfortable) discussions, friendly debates, and mutual grumbling that she hadn't registered how long they had been there.

 

“Oh jeez!" Lexa exclaimed. "Where did the time go? It's already four-thirty." She looked at Clarke and sighed regretfully. "This has been wonderful, Clarke, and I wish I could stay longer, but I have to get back and get some things done before practice."

 

Clarke nodded in understanding, standing up with Lexa as she began putting on her coat. Clarke reached for her own as she said, "This was fun, minus the choking," she said with a grin. "Thanks. Let's do it again soon, okay?"

 

Lexa looked at Clarke fondly, before stating, "Absolutely." She paused as if remembering something, and then added with a smirk, "Actually, I think I'll be seeing Raven fairly often in the next few days."

 

Clarke grinned back, waggling her eyebrows. "Oh, yeah. Anya was at practice this morning."

 

Lexa chuckled, and Clarke felt herself go weak in the knees at the sound. She reached out to the back of her chair to help steady herself as she continued to look at Lexa. Clarke suddenly realized that she had never heard Lexa laugh. Chuckle yes, giggle once or twice, but never an actual full out laugh. She wondered what she would have to do to hear that, and what that might do to her if a mere chuckle from the brunette made her swoon.

 

"Anya’s making her come to practice tonight and to our game on Friday," Lexa informed Clarke.

 

"Oh!" Clarke exclaimed, brightening. "Would you mind if I tagged along with them? Maybe not to practice, but I bet we could get a whole bunch of people to cheer you... for your team, I mean, on Friday."

 

Lexa smiled brightly at Clarke. "That would be great, Clarke. I...I mean my team," she said shyly, "would appreciate that."

 

"Okay, it's settled then," Clarke said, clapping her hands together. "We'll get a whole cheering section together for Friday. Maybe we could all go out after?"

 

Lexa nodded and started moving toward the door. "I'll check with Anya about going out; she was pretty adamant about spending it with me, it being her last night and all."

 

Clarke nodded back, grabbed her bag and headed out behind Lexa. They walked to Lincoln's truck, and Clarke shouldered her bag, stuffed her hands into her coat pockets and looked up into Lexa's brilliant green eyes. 

 

"Thanks again, Lex. Drive safe," Clarke said as she slowly brought her hands out of her pockets and wrapped Lexa up in a hug and placed a chaste kiss on her cheek before beginning to step back.

 

Unlike the hug Clarke gave her when she arrived a few hours ago, Lexa was prepared this time and managed to get her arms wrapped around Clarke's waist, holding her in place and squeezing back slightly before whispering in Clarke's ear. "Thank you, Clarke. I'm so glad I met you," and placed a kiss of her own on Clarke's cool cheek.

 

They gave each other another quick squeeze and then stepped apart. Both women's hearts were beating rapidly, and their breathing was more rapid than normal. Clarke stepped away from the door so Lexa could open it and get in. She stood until Lexa had the truck started and then gave a short wave as the truck pulled out before heading to her own car, already looking forward to Friday.

Chapter Text

 

 

If it be your will to speak

Of memories we often shared

Talk to me of days gone by

Think of love and not despair

And when I'm gone

We'll meet again

As often do the closest friends

So dry your eyes

And lay me down

I tell you this is not the end…

 

Wednesday evening rolled around, and Clarke had gotten together with both Octavia and Raven earlier that afternoon as Raven got ready for her date with Anya. Raven tried to act casual about the upcoming evening, but the fact that she changed outfits four times said volumes to her friends about how nervous she was.

 

"Where are you taking her?" Octavia asked as Raven pulled out yet another outfit from her closet and held it up in front of her.

 

"How about this one? Would this be better?" she asked the room at large, ignoring the question entirely.

 

Clarke rolled her eyes. "Raven, seriously, you've changed twice already. The dress you have on now is gorgeous, and the dress you are holding is just as beautiful just in red instead of black. Anya would enjoy herself even if you showed up in jeans. Now, where are you taking her?"

 

Raven looked at the dress one more time before tossing it on the bed and stripping out of the black cocktail dress she currently had on and pulled on the red one.

 

"Raven!" Octavia and Clarke yelled at the same time.

 

Raven popped her head through the dress and glared at her friends. "I'm taking her to DBGB on Palmer Alley," Raven said. "I thought we could walk along the alley, and then head to the restaurant. I made a reservation for 7."

 

"Ummm," Clarke said carefully, "if you are going to walk Palmer Alley and eat at DBGB, isn't that dress a little over the top? Come to think of it, did Anya even bring anything that could match your current level of sophistication?"

 

"Oh, my, God," Raven said, her face went pale as realization hit. "I didn't even think of that, you guys! I was so focused on looking good for her that I didn't even think about what she could wear. I would have never forgiven myself if I had made her feel uncomfortable. And you're right; we don't need to be dressed to the nines tonight. Thank you," she said sincerely to Clarke.

 

Clarke smiled at her best friend, "No problem, that's what we're here for," she said as she indicated herself and Octavia.

 

"Yep," Octavia agreed. "Keeping your ass out of the fire is a full-time job, Reyes. What would you do without us?"

 

Raven chose not to reply but instead threw her now discarded red dress at Octavia and Clarke chuckled as it draped over the smaller brunettes head.

 

"So what are you going to wear instead of a dress, then?" Clarke asked.

 

"I guess I'll go with a nice pair of pants and a button up," Raven replied. "You think that will be okay?"

 

"It'll be great, Rae," Octavia said as she walked over and hung up the dress from which she had recently freed herself.

 

Octavia rummaged around in Raven's closet until she found a silky, Bordeaux-coloured button up. She turned to Raven and threw it at her. "Here, wear this, untucked, and those soft, skinny, black pants you have that show off your ass. Add your lace up boots and your leather jacket, and you will knock Anya's socks off without looking like you're trying too hard – because right now, you are trying too hard."

 

Raven caught the shirt and stuck her tongue out at her friend while Clarke laughed at the two of them from her seat at Raven's desk. "She's right, Rae. That outfit will rock, and Anya shouldn't have any trouble dressing to match. Have you told her what to wear yet?" Clarke asked.

 

"No, not yet – I should probably do that," Raven said as she buttoned up her shirt.

 

Clarke pulled out her phone and waved it at Raven. "I can call Lexa if you want and ask her to let Anya know."

 

Raven grinned at her blonde friend and then shared a knowing look with Octavia while Clarke's head was down, focused on her phone.

 

"Don't you have her in your top ten favs, Clarke?" Octavia asked playfully.

 

"Yeah, Clarke. I'm surprised you don't have her number memorized by now," Raven quipped.

 

"I do, but just finding it in recent contacts is faster," Clarke distractedly replied, and then froze and blushed a deep red as she realized what she had just said.

 

Both of her friends were looking at her in amusement, wide grins on both of their faces.

 

"Shut up, both of you," Clarke growled, opening up a message to Lexa instead of the call she was initially going to make. As much as she would have loved to speak to the beautiful brunette, she wasn't about to have Lexa in hearing distance of her asshole friends, if they decided to tease her about what she had just let slip out.

 

Clarke: Hi Lexa. I'm with Raven, and she's freaking out about her date with Anya. But don't tell her I said that. ;)

 

It only took a moment for Lexa to respond.

 

Lexa: my lips are sealed. Anya is losing her mind as well. Don't tell her I said that either.

 

Clarke: I'll take it to the grave. Raven is busy putting on her fourth outfit of the evening, but I think she's done, finally. Please let Anya know to wear something casual. Raven is going with a button up, skinny pants and boots.

 

Lexa: skinny jeans or leggings?

 

Clarke: neither, more of a skinny, soft cotton/stretchy pant, with pockets. I guess you could call the look business casual.

 

Lexa: right. I'll let Anya know, maybe now she can just pick something and get dressed.

 

Clarke hesitated briefly before typing out:

 

Clarke: how was your day?

 

Lexa: pretty good. Anya and I just hung out and talked. We watched Sense8 on Netflix and just relaxed. At least we were relaxed up to about an hour ago.

 

Lexa: How about you?

 

Clarke: Also pretty good. I went to the gym this morning and then spent some time with my mom and dad. I came over to Raven's right after that and have been watching her slowly lose it ever since.

 

Lexa: How was the gym? Everything go ok?

 

Clarke: Really good, thanks. I worked out on the elliptical for about 30 minutes and got my heart rate up to a good cardio workout rate. No headache, and I feel great. My mom was pleased, so I get to participate fully in practice tomorrow.

 

Lexa: That's great, Clarke. I'm happy for you.

 

Lexa: What are your plans for this evening?

 

Clarke: Thanks, Lex. Apparently Lincoln is working, so Octavia and I are just going to order some pizza and watch some Netflix at my house. We were thinking about re-watching Jessica Jones.

 

Clarke: What are you doing?

 

Lexa: No firm plans, probably just doing some reading

 

Clarke looked up from her phone, "O, what do you…" she trailed off when she saw her two friends watching her with amused smirks on their faces. Clarke scowled at them. "What?!"

 

"You had the stupidest grin on your face the whole time you were on your phone," Octavia chortled.

 

"You've got it bad, Griff," Raven chuckled.

 

Clarke rolled her eyes. "You guys are acting like I have no idea how I feel. When you know that I do, and I know that you know that I do, so just quit it. It's blatantly obvious to anyone with eyes that I am completely and totally into Lexa."

 

"Except for Lexa," Raven said, surprisingly serious.

 

"We're sorry, Clarke," Octavia said, shooting Raven a withering glare. "We just like seeing you happy, and it is obvious that Lexa makes you happy."

 

"I could be happier," Clarke mumbled under her breath.

 

Her friends heard her, and both came to sit down beside her. "Why don't you just ask her out?" Octavia asked.

 

Clarke sighed. "I can't. Not yet," she said sadly, shaking her head. "Right now I have to be okay with being her friend. There's something big holding her back, making her sad and guarded." Clarke looked at both her friends before dropping her gaze back to her hands. "She told me some things yesterday at the Dropship that amazed me, but just left me with more questions. I know Lexa will tell me eventually, I can see it in her eyes. I can feel it…but she's not ready. I need for her to be ready."

 

"What kinds of things?" Octavia asked, curious. She knew that Lexa had had some huge issues in the hospital when Clarke was injured, and she had asked Lincoln about it later. He had told her that it wasn't his story to tell, so she let it drop. She wondered if Clarke knew all that had happened in the waiting room at the hospital but decided now was not the time to find out.

 

"What?" Clarke said, looking up at Octavia.

 

"What things did she tell you?" Octavia clarified.

 

"Oh. Some stuff about hockey and being asked to…" Clarke trailed off and looked again at both her friends before continuing. "You know, I think what she told me is connected to whatever else she is holding back. I think maybe it's best if I don't say anything until I know the whole story. Okay?" Clarke pleaded silently with her friends for them to understand.

 

Both of them regarded Clarke carefully before Raven nodded and slapped Clarke on the back, seamlessly changing the subject. "Don't worry, Griffin. You can live vicariously through me. At least I'm getting some."

 

"Hey!" Octavia yelled indignantly. "I'm getting some too!"

 

Clarke laughed and once again thought about how thankful she was to have such great friends.

 

Clarke suddenly realized she hadn't texted anything to Lexa, so she quickly asked Octavia, "Would you mind if we invited Lexa over for movies tonight?"

 

Octavia smiled and said, "I'd be pissed at you if we didn't."

 

Clarke gave her friend a quick hug and texted Lexa.

 

Clarke: Would you like to join O and me this evening?

 

It took a while for Lexa's response to come in, but when it did, Clarke couldn't keep the smile off her face.

 

Lexa: I would like that. Thank you. Can I bring anything?

 

"I will assume from the shit-eating grin on your face that Lexa's response was affirmative," Octavia laughed.

 

Clarke grinned even wider and quickly typed back a response.

 

Clarke: Just you. We have all we need at my house. We'll be heading over there as soon as Raven leaves to get Anya.

 

Lexa: Sounds good. I'll head over to your house after Anya heads out.

 

Clarke: Excellent, see you soon.

 

Clarke put her phone away, unable to wipe the smile off her face and helped Raven clean up the clothes strewn around her room.

 

"Oh! Raven. I totally forgot," Octavia exclaimed as they worked on tidying up Raven's room. "How was the Grounders practice last night?"

 

Clarke tried not to look obvious as her attention focused in on Raven. She had been dying to ask since she woke up this morning but managed to hold herself back both to avoid the inevitable teasing and to prove to herself that she could.

 

Raven shrugged as she continued to put away scattered articles of clothing. "I didn't watch much of it, to be honest," she said. "It was a hockey practice. They ran drills; they worked on their power play and their penalty kill. They did a lot of the same things we do, but I was distracted, so I wasn't paying full attention."

 

"You were distracted…" Clarke repeated with a smirk.

 

Raven shrugged again, "Anya was cold. I had to keep her warm."

 

"I bet you did," Octavia laughed, giving Raven a swat on the arm.

 

Raven waggled her eyebrows at her friends, "I'll be doing more than keeping her warm tonight."

 

"Ewwww," Octavia said, wrinkling her nose. "TMI, Raven."

 

Clarke laughed again. "Just don't be late for practice tomorrow."


 

The three friends said their goodbyes shortly after; Clarke and Octavia gave Raven a hug and wished her luck on her date.

 

"Ha! I don't need luck," Raven shot back, smirking. "Have you seen me? And you already know Anya is all over this," she said as she pointed up and down her body.

 

"Right," Octavia laughed. "We all know how this night will end. Have fun, Rae."

 

They waved good-bye and watched as Raven drove away to collect her date before Clarke and Octavia got into to Clarke's car.

 

As they drove back to Clarke's, Octavia was fiddling with the radio dial, much to Clarke's annoyance. Clarke glanced at her friend, and back to the road quickly, and sighed before glancing at her again. She looked back to the road and opened her mouth as if to say something and then shut again quickly. Clarke shifted in her seat and opened her mouth yet again, only to close it once more without saying anything.

 

Octavia shut off the radio and groaned. "Out with it, Clarke."

 

"Out with what?" Clarke asked innocently, not taking her eyes off the road.

 

"You are not a quiet thinker, Griff. Your thoughts are bouncing off the windows in here and amplifying tenfold. That and the fact that you have looked like a fish out of water for the past two minutes, tells me you have something on your mind. So spill it."

 

Clarke sighed and glanced quickly at Octavia again. "Remember those dreams I told you about, ages ago?"

 

Octavia looked lost in thought as she tried to recall what Clarke was talking about but then her eyes widened slightly. "The dream? The one you have been having since you turned 18? The one with the mystery person whose face you never see and whose voice you never really hear? The one you haven't had since you started dating Finn? That dream?"

 

Clarke grimaced at the mention of Finn's name, but nodded and said, "That's the one. I had another one last night."

 

"Wow," Octavia breathed out and then whistled. "Why now, do you think? Which version was it this time?"

 

"I have no idea why now?" Clarke said. "Maybe because I broke up with Finn? Maybe..."

 

Clarke was about to continue when Octavia interrupted her. "But you broke up with Finn over a month ago."

 

"I don't know, O," Clarke said keeping her eyes on the road, but her fingers were gripping the steering wheel tighter. "I have no idea what they mean, I have no idea why they come when they do or why they seem to disappear randomly," Clarke said, obviously frustrated.

 

"All I know for sure is that it is the same person in every version of the dream. The forest, the art gallery, the beach…all of them. And every single time, they play out like a movie, like I'm looking at someone else's life, but it's me. I'm watching myself live different lives, and it is always with the same person. The part that weirds me out the most, is that they're always the same," Clarke stated, shivering as she thought about some of the 'dreams' she had had for the past almost five years.

 

"You've mentioned that before, I think," Octavia said. "That it's more like you are watching a memory, right?"

 

"Yeah," Clarke sighed. "You know how you dream things sometimes, that are similar, but there are always differences, and it's kind of fuzzy, and you don't always remember them? Not entirely, and if you wake up and then go back to sleep quickly, a dream can pick up where it left off. But it's never quite the same; it doesn't have the same flow or the same feeling it did before you woke up and you end up waking up again." She glanced over to see Octavia nodding.

 

"Well, these aren't like that. I remember everything, and they are always the same. I used to write them down because they were so clear and I remembered them so vividly that I could write it like a story. When they began to repeat, I realized I was writing the same thing, almost word for word, like it was programmed in my brain. No matter which version it was, and there are some that I wish I could forget."

 

"Shit. You never mentioned that before," Octavia said, eyes wide.

 

"That's because it freaks the shit out of me," Clarke stated in a quiet voice.

 

"Remember in our senior year we had that discussion about reincarnation in our Theory of Knowledge class?" Octavia asked, looking at her friend.

 

Clarke cringed as she nodded. "Yeah, we had some crazy discussions in that class. I remember one day we…"

 

"Clarke," Octavia admonished, interrupting the blonde. Stop trying to change the subject."

 

Clarke snapped her mouth shut and pressed her lips into a thin line. Octavia nodded once in satisfaction before continuing. "Maybe you're dreaming about past lives?"

 

Clarke scoffed, not taking her eyes from the road.

 

"I'm serious, Clarke," Octavia tried again. "It sort of makes sense doesn't it? Always the same dreams, the same mystery person in each one? It's kind of wild, really."

 

Clarke was silent for a few minutes, lost in thought. As crazy as an idea as it seemed, she couldn't deny the fact that it felt like she was watching someone's life. Whether it was truly her past lives she wasn't sure. Perhaps her subconscious just put her in it because it made the most sense. The truth of the matter was, Clarke didn't know, and the not knowing was what made it all the more disconcerting. Not that knowing that I was dreaming about my past lives would make me feel better, she thought to herself, but at least it would make sense.

 

Octavia gasped suddenly and threw her hand over her mouth before looking at Clarke with wide eyes. She removed her hand and hoarsely whispered, "Holy shit, Clarke! What if your mystery person is your soul mate?"

 

Clarke felt her heart clench in her chest. That was not something she wanted to contemplate at all, because if it were true, it meant that they had lost each other too early, too many times if her 'dreams' were any indication.

 

Clarke shook off the thought and spoke again quietly into the dark silence of the car, whispered so softly that Octavia was hard pressed to hear her. "Last night was the forest one again."

 

Octavia sucked in a quick breath before trying to make light of what she knew was anything but for Clarke. "Oh, well. You haven't had that one for a while, right?" Octavia brightly asked. "Maybe it was due?"

 

"Maybe it was due, O? Seriously?" Clarke angrily said as she shot a quick glare at her friend and was somewhat gratified to see her shrink in her seat slightly. "That is one that I don't care if I ever have again. It is heart wrenching and devastating and soul numbing. I don't know how she…I, kept going. It feels like a cruel, sick joke that the universe is playing on me. Every time I wake up from that one I am sweating and I know I've been crying my bloody eyes out because my pillow is soaked and I can taste the salt from my tears in my mouth. It's awful." Clarke finished softly.

 

"Shit, Clarke. I'm sorry," Octavia said, laying her hand on Clarke's thigh and giving it a squeeze before removing it.

 

"It's not your fault, O," Clarke sadly said. "I wish I could see who it was that is with me all the time, though. The only thing I have is a laugh."

 

"A laugh?" Octavia asked, confusion written all over her face.

 

"A laugh," Clarke confirmed. "I have heard this mystery person laugh in at least three of the versions. Never in the forest version, but in others. The art gallery, the beach, and that weird police one; I still don't know if I was the police officer or she was. I heard her laugh. And it was the best kind of laugh, O," Clarke said wistfully. "Full of love, and joy. It was bright as the sun and so light and carefree. Just the sound of that laugh made me so happy. I wake up from those dreams feeling so good like I can do anything with the right person by my side and the confidence that I will find her."

 

"Umm, so it's a her?" Octavia asked. "You've never specified before."

 

Clarke glanced at Octavia, surprised. She looked back at the road and made the turn that took them down the street towards Clarke's house. She was silent for a moment as she thought about what Octavia had said. "You're right. I never said before. I'm not sure why, I've always known it was a woman, but I wasn't ready to share that I guess. For some reason, after last night, I am," she finished with an almost imperceptible shrug.

 

"Hmm, well, maybe if that revelation came to you after having another dream again after so long, the next one will show you her face, or at the very least, her voice," Octavia offered hopefully.

 

"That would be nice," was all Clarke said as they pulled into her driveway.


 

Lexa arrived a short time later, dressed in sweats and a t-shirt and Clarke couldn't take her eyes off of her. It seemed that no matter how Lexa was dressed, she was beautiful. Her hair was up in a messy bun, and she had large, tortoiseshell glasses perched on her delicate nose.

 

Oh my, God, Clarke thought, swallowing thickly as she stared at Lexa in the open doorway, speechless for a moment.

 

"You're wearing glasses," was the first thing out of Clarke's mouth and she immediately chastised herself for the inane and obvious comment.

 

Lexa blushed slightly and dropped her eyes from Clarke's mesmerizing blue ones. "I usually wear contacts," Lexa quietly explained.

 

"They're nice, they look good on you," Clarke said. Freakin' adorable more like, Clarke thought to herself.

 

"Clarke!" Octavia yelled from the living room, shooting an exasperated look over her shoulder at the two women standing in the door. "Let her in for God's sake and close the damn door, you're heating the outside!"

 

"Oh! God. Sorry, Lex. Come in, please," Clarke mentally slapped herself as she moved aside for Lexa to enter, closing the door behind her.

 

The women got settled and grabbed drinks and snacks from the kitchen before settling in to watch Jessica Jones on Netflix.

 

Octavia jumped into her favorite armchair, and Clarke settled into the right side of the couch. Lexa had excused herself to use the bathroom before the show started so when she returned she had the choice to sit on the sofa with Clarke, or the second armchair off to the side. She looked at both and then locked eyes with Clarke. Clarke gave her a small smile and inclined her head to the spot next to her. Lexa took a deep breath and moved to sit next to Clarke. She sat down, making sure to keep over a foot of distance between them, smiling back at Clarke as she sat.

 

Octavia started the show. "I love this series," she said. "Jones is so badass. I would totally cosplay her at ComicCon. If I ever get to go, that is."

 

"That would be awesome," Clarke agreed. "I could cosplay Trish. You'd make an excellent Jessica, Lexa. Probably better than O," Clarke said.

 

"Hey!" came Octavia's predictable response.

 

"I have no idea what either of you are talking about," Lexa stated. "I haven't seen this show, so I'm not familiar with the characters, and I have no idea what cosplay is."

 

"You do know what a ComicCon is, though, right?" Octavia asked.

 

"Yes, I think so. I've never been to one, but I believe Lincoln was talking about some big convention thing in New York last year that he wanted to go to. It's some big comic book thing isn't it?" Lexa asked.

 

"Yeah," Clarke added. "But not just comic books. They invite actors and actresses from popular sci-fi, Marvel/DC adaptations, and fantasy shows. They do autographs and panel discussions. You can pay through the nose to have your photo taken with your favorite stars, and they have vendors everywhere, selling everything you can imagine. People dress up in costume to represent their favorite shows and characters. When you dress up like that and go to these conventions, it's called cosplay."

 

Lexa nodded in understanding. "Have you ever gone?"

 

Both women shook their heads. "No, but we really want to at some point. Maybe next year," Clarke said wistfully, Octavia nodding along with her.

 

"I think you'll like this show, Lexa," Clarke said as Octavia pressed play and the Marvel comics intro began to flash across the screen.

 

The girls settled in and conversation was minimal as they binged through half the season before calling it a night. Clarke and Lexa had once again drifted closer together as the evening wore on, eventually sitting closely enough that their knees were pressed together, both of them acutely aware of the tingling in their legs but neither acknowledging it. Lexa kept her hands folded lightly in her lap, but she couldn't deny that there were several times when she had to physically stop herself from reaching out to take Clarke's hand. Clarke had thrown her arm over the back of the couch behind Lexa but was also very careful to make sure she didn't drop it down onto Lexa's shoulders, or allow her fingers to graze Lexa's slender neck.

 

It was absolute torture for both women, but Lexa kept telling herself she wasn't ready and Clarke forced herself to abide by Lexa's unspoken boundaries. As much as Clarke wanted to shout her growing feelings for the brunette to the world, she was determined to respect Lexa's feelings and wait as long as necessary.

 

She just hoped it wasn't too long or she might explode.

 

The women tidied up the living room of snack bowls and cups, and then Clarke looked to Lexa. "Octavia is spending the night, Lex. It's late, if you want to stay too, you're more than welcome."

 

Lexa sucked in a breath and let it out slowly. "Thank you, but I think I'll head home." What she didn't say is that she didn't think she would sleep a wink knowing that Clarke was sleeping somewhere down the hall from her. She was barely able to contain her traitorous heart as it was and sleeping in the same house as the blonde beauty was asking too much from her already crumbling resolve.

 

"Okay," Clarke said, trying to hide the disappointment in her voice. "We'll see you tomorrow after your game, though, yeah?"

 

Lexa nodded. "Absolutely. Thanks for a fun night. See you tomorrow." She made her goodbyes, hugged both women and headed home, her mind fully occupied by a certain blonde the whole way.

Chapter Text

 

Raven made it to practice on time the next morning, a cocky grin on her face and practically glowing. Clarke and Octavia wormed some details out of Raven about the date while they dressed for practice, which by all accounts had gone very well. Raven and Anya had enjoyed each other's company immensely and found they had much in common and spent several hours talking and laughing. Raven then drove the short distance to the river and took Anya on a short, slightly chilly stroll along the Potomac before heading back to Raven's to 'warm Anya up,' as Raven put it.

Clarke and Octavia congratulated a slightly blushing Raven on a successful date and then focused on the drills and exercises Kane was running them through. Anya perched once again in the stands with hot coffee, her eyes tracking the Latin beauty across the ice.

The practice was almost monotonous in its routine, and Clarke loved it. She was playing hard, participating in every drill and pushing herself, and so far everything was going well. She wanted to know if she was ready for a game. Kane called her over after the first 45 minutes. "You're going pretty hard, Clarke. Are you sure it's safe? I don't want any setbacks," Kane asked seriously.

"No, it's all good, Coach," Clarke replied. "I was at the gym yesterday and went pretty hard. No headaches, no nausea. My mom said I could go full speed today but to be aware of any changes. So far so good. I don't want any setbacks either; I'll be careful and stop if anything doesn't feel right."

"Okay. I'll bend to your mom's expertise on this, but be careful, please," he said, clapping Clarke on the shoulder.

Clarke saluted and skated quickly back to the group to get back into the drill. The rest of the practice went smoothly with Clarke relishing in her ability to participate and work at full speed, even if she did get winded faster than she liked.


Practice ended, and the three friends took their time in the change room, silently waiting for everyone else to pack up and leave. Once they were alone, Raven quickly excused herself with a short, "Be right back," before swiftly exiting the room leaving a bemused Clarke and Octavia behind.

Raven returned only a few minutes later, with a confused Anya in tow. The two women walked into the room, Raven tugging on Anya's hand when she realized Anya had balked as she walked through the heavy door, and turned to look at the blonde behind her, brows raised in question.

Anya's nose was scrunched up, and a look of disgust was on her face. "What?" Raven finally asked.

"It smells awful in here," Anya commented with a sneer. "How can you possibly want to stay in here longer than absolutely necessary?" She asked the three women who were all looking at her in amusement.

Octavia waved her hand around, indicating the room in general. "You get used to it," she said.

Clarke nodded as she shoved the last of her gear in her bag and zipped it shut. "Yep," she said. "The men use this room too, and it's even worse if the rink staff hasn't had a chance to clean it before we come in. The smell today isn't bad, to be honest. Most of the women make more of an effort to at least wash their gear on a regular basis. That helps a lot."

Raven just laughed and led the disgruntled woman over to the bench and sat down. "You won't even smell it after a few minutes," she informed Anya as she watched the older woman gingerly sit on the bench as if afraid she would contract some horrible disease.

Raven laughed again. "You've been friends with Lexa for how long? You've never been in a locker room before?"

"No. Why would I? I just waited for her in the lobby, like I was perfectly happy doing today," Anya groused, as she looked at a smirking Raven out of the corner of her eye. "Why exactly am I in here?" she asked.

Raven couldn't stop the blush that crept up her neck as she shrugged. "We wanted to talk about tomorrow night, and I thought you ought to join us."

"Aww," Octavia crooned, "did you miss her, Rae?"

Raven blushed even harder as she turned her glare on her friend, who quickly, and smartly, scooted out of range of Raven's hand before it could connect with her shoulder. "Shut up, O."

Clarke just laughed, and Anya raised her eyebrows and looked at Raven. "Did you miss me?" she asked innocently.

Raven snapped her head back to look at Anya and opened and closed her mouth a few times before finally clearing her throat.

"Ahem, I mean, I just thought…I…." Raven took a deep breath and then locked eyes with Anya. "Okay, listen. Yes, I missed you. You leave in a few days, and I wanted to spend as much time as possible with you." Raven watched as Anya's eyes softened and a small smile graced her lips. She then turned to her two friends that were looking at her with a mixture of amusement and wonder. "And you two can just shut it right now," Raven said flatly before reaching out and taking Anya's hand.

The girls chuckled and then Raven asked, "Are you two planning on coming with me to the Grounders' game?"

"That depends," Octavia shot back. "Are you going to watch the game?"

Clarke grinned at Raven as she high-fived Octavia saying, "Yeah, Rae. Lexa probably won't mind if you aren't paying attention, but Anya probably should; being besties and all."

Anya rolled her eyes, but couldn't stop the smirk from finding its way to her lips, and she squeezed Raven's hand briefly before she eyed Clarke. "I think Lexa would be bothered more if you weren't paying attention, Clarke."

Raven snorted, and Octavia glanced in Clarke's direction in time to see the grin drop from her face.

"Wha…what do…what do you mean?" Clarke stuttered out.

"Oh please," Anya said. "The heart eyes that girl has for you makes me want to vomit on a daily basis."

"No, she doesn't," Clarke responded immediately, eyes wide.

"Oh, Clarke, sweetie," Octavia said as she shook her head.

Clarke took a deep breath. "I told Lexa the other day that I'd come watch her game, so yes, I'm going. Is Lincoln going, Anya?"

Anya nodded her head, and Octavia immediately piped up, just as Clarke knew she would.

"I'm there!" Octavia hollered, which caused all the girls to chuckle and shoot knowing looks at the tiny brunette with the wide smile on her face.

"Should we invite Bell and Echo?" Octavia asked.

"For sure," Clarke answered as she looked over at Raven and saw a corresponding affirmative nod.

Octavia clapped her hands in excitement, practically bouncing on the bench. "Oh, we should call Jasper and Monty, and they can ask Mya and Harper to come too; this is going to be so much fun. We're going out after, right?"

Clarke laughed at Octavia's enthusiasm, and then looked over at Anya. "It's really up to you, and Lexa I suppose," Clarke stated.

"Why me?" Anya asked confused.

"Lexa said that you had mentioned wanting to spend your last night here together," Clarke clarified.

"Oh," Anya said, understanding dawning on her face. She felt Raven give her hand a squeeze and then looked at the beautiful brunette beside her and smiled. "I think if Lexa wants to go, then hanging out with all of you would be fun. We'd still be spending time together, after all."

The women looked around at each other smiling.

"All right!" Octavia yelled standing up and thrusting her hands in the air. "We are going to party, bitches!"

They all laughed and then proceeded to sort out who would call who for the invites. Raven suggested making signs and face paint, but Clarke talked her down, reminding her that they played in the same league and it might look funny if they were too supportive of The Grounders. It was already going to be out of the ordinary having more than the usual handful of fans in the seats that came to out to support girlfriends or family members, and Clarke was loath to embarrass Lexa in any way.

Once they had made all the arrangements, the women walked out to the parking lot to Raven's truck where they said their good-byes. Clarke and Octavia made their way to their vehicles with a promise to be in touch to arrange rides for the next evening.

As soon as Clarke got home, she saw a note on the kitchen counter as she was walking past to the garage to air out her gear. She was curious, but her equipment was heavy, and the note wasn't going anywhere, so she continued on her way. Once she had finished, she went directly to the kitchen to see what was waiting for her. To her surprise, it was from her father.

Hey Kiddo,

I'm so sorry I didn't get to see you this morning. I got a call shortly after you left about a bit of a problem setting up the testing facility in Florida. So I have to go back – now. I'm taking the next flight out; mom's taking me to the airport as soon as I finish this note. I know we were going to hang out this weekend and I'm really sorry sweetie. I'll make it up to you, I promise. If all goes well with the testing next week, I'll be home for a while for some well-deserved R and R. I love you, Clarke. Please be careful in your game next week. I don't want another call like the one I got before Christmas.

Love, Dad

Clarke sighed, disappointed that she missed her father, but proud of the work he was doing. She folded up the note and put it in the back pocket of her jeans before sending him a quick text, knowing she wouldn't see a response for some time.

LittleGriff: I'll be careful. I love you too, Dad. See you soon.

She then sent a quick text to her mom, asking if she would be home for dinner. Clarke was surprised when a text from her mother came in only moments later.

Mom: I'm sorry you missed your Dad, Sweetie. I only have one surgery scheduled for today, so unless there's an emergency, I should be home for dinner. There is a lasagna in the fridge, and I should be home around six. You can invite the girls over for supper if you like.

Clarke: Thanks, Mom. I'll ask them, but I also wouldn't mind just spending some time with you.

Mom: Whatever you want, Love. See you at 6.

Clarke then quickly sent an invite to Raven and Octavia, inviting them for dinner. Octavia's response was predictably quick.

O: Hell yes, I'm there. You know how much I love Mama G's lasagna! I'll be there at 5.

Raven's response came in several hours later, while Clarke was taking a break from some pre-work she was doing for a class.

Rae: Is Papa G going to be there? I want to hear about his new rocket engine!

Clarke rolled her eyes before responding to her best friend.

Griff: No, he had to go back this a.m. to help solve some problem they were having.

Rae: Well, forget it then. I see you enough as it is.

Griff: I love you too, see you ?

Rae: Fine, I'll be there by 5. Will Abby be there to tell me gross hospital stories?

Griff: Yes, Rae. Mom will be here and would love to have a willing ear for a change.

Rae: Excellent! See you later.


Five o'clock came around, and both of Clarke's best friends strolled through the door, at the same time, without knocking when they arrived.

Clarke looked up from the kitchen where she had just placed the lasagna in the oven. "Come on in," she said sarcastically.

"Oh please," Raven smirked at her. "When was the last time we knocked?"

"Point taken," Clarke laughed. "So, since you walk around her like you own the place, help me make a salad for dinner. O, you're on garlic bread duty."

Both of her friends grinned and then washed their hands. Octavia immediately set to making a garlic spread for the French loaf sitting on the counter, and Raven grabbed a knife and a cutting board from under the counter and started cutting up cucumbers and tomatoes while Clarke prepped the lettuce.

They worked in a comfortable silence, and it wasn't long before all three had finished their tasks and tidied the kitchen. They worked together to set the table and had just retired to the living room, each with a beer in hand, when Abby popped in through the door, chased by a cold gust of wind.

Raven and Octavia yelled out in sync, "Mama G!" sending over the head waves toward the Doctor.

"Hi, Mom," Clarke added with a smile and a wave of her own.

"Hi, girls," Abby replied after she had managed to unwrap herself from her winter gear and headed over to the living room. "I see neither of you could pass up lasagna."

"Um, yeah!" Octavia enthusiastically said. "Like that's ever going to happen."

Raven shrugged and waggled her eyebrows. "I'm just here for your company, Abby. You tell the best stories."

Abby laughed, and Clarke looked at her friend with a look of mild disgust on her face. "Eww, oh my God, Raven. Are you seriously flirting with my mom right now?"

Raven shrugged and winked at Abby for good measure. "What can I say, Clarke. Your mom is hot."

Abby laughed again, along with Octavia while Clarke just scowled and took a long pull on her beer. "I seriously hate you right now," Clarke said after a moment. "Please stop. And Mom, stop encouraging her!"

Abby only laughed again and bent down to place a kiss on Clarke's head before going upstairs to change. "Thanks for starting dinner and setting the table," she called out as she walked away.

Clarke shot another glare at Raven who just grinned at her in return, before turning on the TV and finding whatever hockey game was playing that evening.

Dinner was a casual affair, interspersed with light teasing and comfortable silences. They all retired to the living room, after working together to make short work of the dinner dishes, a beer for each of the young women and a glass of red wine for Abby.

As they settled in, Raven, of course, asked Abby about her latest surgery and Abby's face lit up as she moved over closer to Raven to speak to her. Abby knew that Clarke and Octavia would have no interest and would most likely either continue to watch TV or start a conversation of their own and didn't want to disturb them.

As Abby and Raven conversed in low tones on one side of the room, Octavia grabbed the remote and turned the volume down on the TV. She turned to Clarke and asked, "How do you feel about tomorrow?"

"Fine. Why?" Clarke asked confused. "It's just a hockey game."

"It's not just a hockey game, Clarke. It's Lexa's hockey game, and we're all going out after," Octavia responded, watching Clarke carefully.

"So?" Clarke asked, looking away and taking a sip of her beer.

"Soooo…." Octavia encouraged.

"Can we talk about something else please?" Clarke pleaded, looking back at her friend.

Octavia rolled her eyes and said, "Fine. Did you have another dream last night?"

Clarke stiffened, as everything seemed to go quiet in the house at the exact moment Octavia asked her question. There was a short period of dead air on the TV as the program started back up, and Raven and Abby's conversation had halted right at that moment as well. Abby looked at her daughter curiously, while Raven's head snapped around as she looked between Octavia and Clarke with wide eyes.

"What dream?" Raven asked.

Octavia cringed and mouthed 'sorry' at Clarke before looking at Raven and tilting her head slightly and raising her eyebrows.

"No way!" Raven exclaimed. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"What's going on?" Abby asked, confused.

"It's nothing, Mom," Clarke tried to deflect as she sought to sink into the soft cushions around her. "Just a dream."

"Just a dream?" Raven asked, looking at Octavia who shook her head minutely.

Clarke glared at her friend, hoping she could feel the heat of her stare.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Raven accusingly asked again with a little pout.

"You've been kind of busy the last few days, Rae," Octavia put in, "and it only just happened two nights ago. Unless you had another one last night?" she asked, looking back at Clarke.

Clarke shifted her eyes away and slouched in her seat, but remained silent.

"What in God's name is going on right now?" Abby asked again, utterly perplexed.

"You've never told your mom about them?" Raven asked, amazed. "Why the hell not?"

"Clarke?" Abby said getting up to sit by her daughter, concern starting to take over her tone. Octavia quickly got up and moved over by Raven to make room for Abby as she approached a sulking Clarke.

"It's nothing, Mom," Clarke said again.

"Your friends don't seem to think it's nothing," Abby said carefully.

Clarke sighed and slumped further into the couch, letting the tension drain away into the plush cushions, before turning her gaze on her mother.

"The night I turned 18, I had a dream," Clarke began. "It was unlike any dream I had ever had before. It was crystal clear, and when I awoke, I remembered everything about it. I didn't think too much about it, until a few weeks later, when I had another one. Different, but the same regarding detail and clarity. Over the course of the next month, they happened more and more frequently. I started to write them down, and it wasn't long after that, that I realized they were repeating. I was having the same dreams over and over again. They petered off after a while, but I would still have the odd one every couple of months. Then about two years ago, they started occurring again more frequently, until I started dating Finn and they stopped altogether."

"Well, that happens to a lot of people, Clarke. I've had the same dreams before, it's just your subconscious' way of dealing with stress and change," Abby soothingly said, rubbing Clarke's arm.

Clarke nodded. "I know that, Mom. But this, these dreams, it's different. When I say, I was having the same dreams; I mean exactly the same. I went back and compared what I had written down when a dream repeated and I wrote them almost word for word. And it wasn't just one dream; it's thirteen. Thirteen completely separate dreams, but when they repeat they are exactly the same – every time."

Abby looked at Clarke in confusion. "I don't understand."

Clarke sighed and closed her eyes, making a decision. "I'll show you," she said as she got up. "I'll be right back."

Clarke headed up the stairs to her room and bent down on all fours to pull a plastic storage tote from under her bed. She popped the lid off and pulled out three identical looking journals. Clarke quickly thumbed through the black, hard covered notebooks resolving to share them, finally. She had spoken about the journals to her two friends downstairs but had never shown them to anyone. Clarke took a deep breath, tucked the journals under her arm and headed back down.

She noticed that no one had moved while she was gone, and it was almost as if everyone was holding their breath. She gave them a nervous smile and waved her two friends over so that they could see the books as well. They quickly jumped up and moved over to behind the couch Clarke and her mother were sitting on, so that they could look down on what Clarke was about to show them while leaning on the back of the sofa.

Clarke opened the first journal with shaky hands and gave it to her mother, pointing at the first page. "That's not the first dream I had, but it's the first one I wrote down."

Abby turned slightly so that the girls behind her could see the page as well, and began to read. Clarke meanwhile, flipped through another journal until she found what she was looking for. When Abby finally finished, Clarke handed her the second journal and pointed to the date at the top. "This was almost a year later, but it was the same dream."

Clarke watched as Abby began to read again and then stopped, grabbing the first journal and comparing the two written accounts side by side, much the way Clarke herself had done years ago.

When Abby finished reading the second time, she looked up at Clarke with raised brows. "Are they all this…detailed?"

Clarke nodded solemnly. "Yes, some even more so. I drew pictures of some of the things I saw in the dreams, but in every single one, there is always one piece missing."

"Your mystery girl," Octavia knowingly said.

"Mystery girl?" Abby and Raven both said at the same time.

Clarke sighed again. "Yes, girl. I have no idea who this person is. I never see a face, or hear a voice. However, when I had a dream again for the first time in a very long time…"

"Since Finn," Octavia filled in.

"Since Finn," Clarke confirmed. "I didn't have a dream like this the whole time I was with Finn. But I had one again two nights ago…and again last night. I was talking about it with O the other night, and I mentioned for the first time that I knew that the mystery person was a woman." Clarke held up her hand to forestall the question she could see on her mother's lips. "Believe me, I know. If you read more of the journal, you'll see."

Abby closed her mouth and nodded her head, taking her daughter's word for it. "It's like a story," she said in wonder. "Is the other woman in this story you, Clarke?"

"I don't know, Mom. That's the thing. It's like I'm watching myself live a life I have never lived, some that I can't even fathom living, nor would I want to," Clarke said with a shudder. "There are some that are so inexplicably sad, and others that are so uplifting and wonderful…I don't know what they mean, or why I have them, or how to make them stop. I don't ever see me, in the dream, but I have an overwhelming sense that it is and that I am viewing everything through my eyes. All the emotion; the joy, the fear, the pain, the heartache," Clarke paused, taking a deep breath before continuing with a wistful smile. "The love. It all feels so real."

"Which dream was it, Clarke?" Raven asked, still flipping through the journal she had snagged off the couch the moment Abby had set it down.

"The forest," Clarke quietly said.

"Two nights ago, or last night?" Raven asked sympathetically; she knew what that dream did to Clarke.

"Both," Clarke said even more quietly, tears forming in her eyes.

Abby heard both Octavia and Raven suck in sharp breaths of sympathy for their friend and she looked up from the journal into the shining blue eyes of her daughter.

"Clarke? What…?" Abby asked with concern.

"Look at dream number three in the journal you are holding. It's all there," Clarke pointed out. "If you guys want to read it as well, there's a copy in each of the other two journals. Number eight in the journal you have, Rae, and twelve in this one, O," Clarke said as she passed the third journal to Octavia, who took it and quickly went to sit on the other sofa where Raven had already made herself comfortable.

With that Clarke got up and walked into the kitchen, unable to sit and watch as her mother and best friends worked through one of the most disturbing dreams she had ever had. That particular one left her drained and emotionally exhausted. That she had had the same dream two nights in a row was new, that had never happened before. Usually, it was months and sometimes years before a dream would repeat. That it happened to be that particular dream just added whole other dimension to Clarke's unease.

It didn't take long before Clarke could tell that the small group was nearing the end of the journal entries. She could hear Raven sniffing, and Octavia and her mother were openly allowing tears to stream down their faces. Raven finished hers first and immediately got up and wrapped Clarke up in a fierce hug.

"I'm so sorry," Raven whispered in Clarke's ear. Clarke said nothing, just hugged Raven back even harder.

Octavia was next, and she wrapped herself around her two friends, adding her tears to their sniffles. "Oh, Clarke," Octavia brokenly said. "I had no idea. I mean you told us it was bad, but reading it like that, just makes it seem so much more…real."

Clarke released her friends and laughed humorlessly. "Try 'living' it."

Clarke turned to look at her mother who was watching her with moist, sad, brown eyes. Abby patted the seat next to her, and Clarke moved to sit back down. Once seated, Abby reached over and pulled Clarke to her. Clarke melted into the warmth, safety, and comfort of Abby's arms. She might be almost 22 years old, but she would never be too old not to be grounded by her mother's love.

Clarke buried her face in her mother's shoulder and thought about what Octavia had said in the car the day before. "Do you believe in soul mates, Mom?" she asked hesitantly.

Abby pulled away slightly so that she could look down on her daughter. "Yes," she said succinctly, with no hesitation.

Clarke sat up in surprise and looked at her mother. "You do? Really?"

Abby gave her a small smile. "I do. Really. I've always thought that your father is my soul mate. We work perfectly together. He is my safe haven, no matter what's going on, or how stressed I am, he makes me feel safe. He is my comfort. From the moment I met him, it just felt right. Everything felt right; the way his hand felt in mine, the way he looked at me like he could see through to my soul, the way it feels when he kisses me. It still feels right, almost 25 years later," Abby finished with a content sigh.

"See, Clarke," Octavia piped up. "Soulmate. This mystery woman is your soulmate, and you've been together for at least 13 lifetimes. You're bound to meet again," the feisty brunette finished confidently.

"And if what you write about in some of these dreams is true," Raven adds, her nose still buried in one of Clarke's journals, "then the two of you are going to be so disgustingly cute that it is going to make me want to gag on a regular basis."

At that, the tension broke as everyone laughed. Clarke wiped away the tears on her face that she wasn't even aware of falling and gave her Mom another hug. "What do you think of reincarnation, Mom?"

Abby thought for a moment before speaking and then slowly began as if choosing her words carefully. "I have no concrete evidence that it does or does not exist. As a doctor and a scientist, I have a hard time with it. But as a wife, who believes firmly in my soul mate, I want nothing more than to know that Jake and I can be together again when our time together in this life comes to an end."

Clarke nodded in understanding, and Abby pushed herself off the couch and turned to look at Clarke. She raised the journal in her hand. "Would you mind if I read the rest of these?" she asked.

"No, of course not," Clarke replied. "However, you should know going in that I wrote down everything that happened in those dreams."

"Whoo, did you ever!" Raven exclaimed from the other side of the room, waving her hand in front of her face and looking at Clarke wide-eyed. "Holy crap, Clarke! You go, girl!"

Clarke furiously blushed as Abby raised her eyebrows in amusement and shook her head before clapping Clarke on the shoulder and making her way upstairs. "I'll see you girls in the morning," she called out over her shoulder. "I'm assuming you will be here for breakfast, yes?"

"Can we have waffles?" Octavia yelled after her, pumping her fist when Abby gave them a thumbs up from over her shoulder, without even turning around.

"So, are you two just going to dive into my journals, or can we watch a movie or something?" Clarke asked.

"Can we read these later?" Octavia asked seriously.

"Yeah, sure. Not much point in keeping them to myself anymore," Clarke responded.

"Movie it is then," Raven said as she moved back to the bigger couch that Clarke was sitting on.

"I do have one question, though," Octavia said as she joined them, sitting on the other side of Clarke, the two surrounding their friend with their warmth and support.

Clarke raised her eyebrows, silently encouraging her friend to continue.

"How can you write so much about a woman you never see, or hear?" Octavia asked.

"It's not like I don't 'see' her at all," Clarke thoughtfully said. "It's more like her features are blurred, and her voice is distorted. I can never see or hear anything clearly. But the feelings, those are crystal clear," she softly finished, blushing yet again.

Her friends just looked at her, love and support shining in their eyes, and Clarke leaned her head on Raven's shoulder and grabbed Octavia's hand and whispered. "Thanks, you guys."

"Anytime, Griff, you know that," Raven softly replied, while Octavia gave her hand a squeeze.

The three women argued briefly over what to watch, finally settling on re-watching Serenity. After the movie, they retired, all thinking different thoughts about the potential possibilities coming with the following evening, and Clarke trying not to think about her 'dreams' and the possibility of the mystery woman being her soul mate.

But when in time, I see your face

The scars will fade

The heart will mend

So dry your eyes

And lay me down

I tell you this is not the end…

Oh dry your eyes

And lay me down

I tell you this is not the end.

- Claire Maguire

Chapter Text

 


January 6 th

Friday morning arrived without fanfare. Clarke rolled over in the darkness and stretched her hands out over her head and linked her fingers together, arching her back and pointing her toes for a full body stretch that lasted several moments. As she relaxed back down onto the bed, she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and blinked at the alarm clock on her nightstand. 6:22 am. No wonder it's still dark out, she thought with slight disgust. And of course, she would be awake early on the last weekday for a while that she'd be able to sleep in.

 

As she lay there silently, contemplating an attempt to return to sleep, she couldn't stop her mind from wandering to the events of the previous evening. She had essentially bared her soul to her two best friends and her mother. Clarke was feeling extremely vulnerable and just a little bit embarrassed at what the three of them would have read in her journals.

 

Thinking about her journals, of course, brought up thoughts of the woman who was featured prominently in each one. Clarke thought about every dream she had had and weighed them in her mind. Thirteen dreams and at least five of them didn't end very well. Whether it was the mystery woman, or Clarke herself (if indeed it was her, but at this point, Clarke couldn't argue that it wasn't), one of them was, often violently, taken from the other. Clarke shuddered in the dark, thanking whatever powers there were out there that she hadn't had another dream last night.

 

Clarke forced herself to close her eyes and try to focus on the images she had of the woman in her dreams. But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't put it all together to form a clear, coherent image. The feelings that blossomed in her chest when she thought about the woman, though, those she could name. Fear, loss, pain, joy, happiness and most of all, even through all the most painful memories, love. Clarke nodded to herself, memories, that's what they felt like, more and more. Even through those that caused such heartache, she felt love. More love than Clarke ever thought possible. More than she ever thought she had to give, and certainly more than Clarke ever thought she would be the recipient of.

 

Clarke thought about what Octavia had said last night about the woman being Clarke's soul mate. The more Clarke thought about it, the more inexplicably uneasy she became. At the same time, she couldn't grasp the tickle of something niggling at the back of her brain or determine the cause of the fluttering in her stomach. It was a darkness that hovered just out of reach of her consciousness, and it unsettled her. Clarke mentally shook herself and finally rolled out of bed, with the beginnings of pre-day dawn starting to streak in through the slats of her closed blinds. She physically shook out her shoulders and arms, as if ridding herself from an unwanted weight and padded across the room, quietly opened her door and peered out into the dark and silent hallway. After listening momentarily for any signs of life from the room across from hers and hearing none, Clarke scooted across and down the hall and into the bathroom, closing the door quickly behind her. Once finished, she softly walked down the stairs and into the kitchen.

 

Clarke jumped and had to hold back a surprised squeak when she rounded the corner to see her mother sitting at the island, with one of Clarke's journals opened in front of her. Abby looked up at Clarke's arrival, and her gaze immediately flicked back to the open page in front of her, and then back to her daughter again. Clarke just stood at the entrance to the kitchen, shifting uncomfortably back and forth, twining her fingers together, waiting. All of sudden Abby was off her chair and had Clarke wrapped up in a tight embrace, which Clarke returned after only a moment of surprise.

 

"Oh, Honey," Abby whispered into Clarke's hair. "I wish you had shared this with me years ago. You shouldn't have had to deal with this all by yourself."

 

Clarke shrugged and pulled away from her mom. "I didn't know what was going on; it felt personal and secret. I didn't even tell Octavia and Raven all of it. I guess I just didn't know what to say, or if I even should," Clarke finished softly.

 

Abby accepted the answer and released Clarke with a squeeze and a final kiss to the top of her head.

 

"Did you read them all?" Clarke asked, dipping her head shyly and looking up from under her brows at her mom.

 

"Almost. I read a few last night, and this is the second journal. I think I've gotten through about 11 different ones. You said there were 13, right?" Abby asked, looking up at her daughter.

 

Clarke nodded. "You should find the other two relatively close to the beginning of the last journal."

 

"This is a lot, Clarke," Abby said, looking at Clarke with sad eyes.

 

Clarke shifted her gaze away from her mom and busied herself with making tea. "Yeah," she whispered, causing Abby to look at her more closely.

 

"What aren't you telling me?" Abby asked.

 

"I...I don't know, Mom, Clarke started. "It all feels weird, and I have this feeling that I can't explain, and I feel out of sorts. I just don't know," she sadly said, shaking her head.

 

Abby reached over and patted Clarke's arm. "You'll figure it out, honey."

 

"I hope so," Clarke softly replied. She looked at her mom and opened her mouth to say something else, when Octavia suddenly bounded into the kitchen and wrapped her arms around Clarke's waist from behind, effectively ending whatever Clarke was about to say.

 

"Hey, O," Clarke laughed, not upset in the least that her conversation with her mother had just come to an abrupt end. "You're up early."

 

"Waffles! Waffles, waffles, waffles, waffles," Octavia sang out as she spun Clarke around and then danced around the kitchen waggling her eyebrows and pointing in Abby's direction.

 

Abby laughed and raised her hands in surrender, closing the journal she was reading and tucking it away on a shelf in the dining room. Then she moved back to the island to stand with Clarke and Octavia before pulling out a large bowl. " Octavia, you go get the flour from the pantry, and Clarke, can you please grab the waffle iron and plug it in?"

 

The two girls smiled and nodded their agreement, and the three began bustling around the kitchen. Fifteen minutes later, there was a large stack of waffles on a plate, keeping warm in the oven. The three women quickly cleaned up the mess and then sat down at the table.

 

"Should you go wake up Raven?" Abby asked.

 

Both Clarke and Octavia rolled their eyes. "No, Mom," Clarke said. "Not unless you want to deal with her surly attitude for the next hour. Just save her some waffles, she'll be fine."

 

Octavia nodded gravely and then reached over and stabbed a few waffles before dumping them on her plate. "Raven's missing out, though. These are way better fresh. Thanks, Mama G!"

 

"You're welcome. Thank you both for helping," Abby replied with a chuckle.

 

The three fell silent, the only sounds coming from the scrape of utensils on plates and the squirt of the canister of whipped cream with which Octavia drowned her waffles.

 

Ten minutes later, Raven walked in, stretching and covering her mouth as she yawned. "I smelled waffles and coffee," she said by way of introduction as she joined them at the table.

 

Clarke didn't say anything, just pushed the plate of swiftly diminishing waffles in Raven's direction, while Octavia passed her the syrup, strawberries, and whipped cream, and Abby got up and poured Raven a coffee.

 

"Ohmygod, Mama G! These are fantastic!" Raven mumbled around a mouthful of waffle.

 

"Thank you, sweetie. The girls helped," Abby replied.

 

Raven swallowed and smirked at her two best friends. "You guys helped and they still taste this good?"

 

Abby laughed while Octavia flipped her middle finger up in Raven's direction without ever looking at her, and Clarke threw a whipped-cream-covered strawberry at her face, hitting Raven in the cheek before it plopped down in the middle of her breakfast. Raven wiped the smear of fluffy white off of her face slowly, never taking her narrowed eyes off of Clarke as she then picked up the offending strawberry and popped it into her mouth, smirked and returned her attention to her waffles as if nothing unusual had happened. Abby laughed again and shook her head at their antics.

 

After breakfast, the friends went their separate ways to get ready for the day, promising to be in touch later to coordinate rides to the hockey game.


 

The day went by both faster than Clarke wished it would, and excruciatingly slowly. By about four in the afternoon, the butterflies were swarming thickly in her belly, causing bouts of anxiety and excitement in equal measure.

 

Clarke had offered to pick up Raven and take her to the game. Bellamy and Octavia were bringing Echo, and Jasper and Monty were picking up Maya and Harper. Lincoln and Anya would be going early with Lexa.

 

By five-thirty, Clarke had changed three times and had finally settled on a pair of ripped skinny jeans and a tank top, with a blue plaid flannel on top. There was a part of her that wanted to dress up more, but what she might wear to the club, wouldn't be appropriate for a hockey game. Comfort and warmth, over sexy, unfortunately. She felt marginally better after texting with both Raven and Octavia and being reassured that she would look out of place if she were overdressed.

 

Clarke jumped in her car started the engine and then set the heaters and defrost on high. She jumped out again, pulling on her gloves before reaching into the back seat to grab the scraper to remove the buildup of frost off her windows. Once done, Clarke threw the tool back into the rear of the car and sat impatiently, waiting for the front window to de-fog enough so that she could drive. It was almost quarter to six before Clarke could safely see and she silently cursed her lack of foresight regarding how long it would take to get the car ready and pulled out after a quick text to Raven to let her know she was finally on the way.

 

Raven was waiting outside her building when Clarke arrived. She jumped in the car, quickly did up her seat belt and shot a glare at Clarke.

 

"Hey, Rae," Clarke greeted.

 

"Took you long enough," Raven groused before grinning at her scowling friend. "Ready?"

 

Clarke just rolled her eyes, nodded, put the car in drive and continued to the rink. The fifteen-minute drive started in a comfortable silence; Raven seemed to recognize Clarke's lack of desire for conversation and instead busied herself with playing with the radio dial, switching stations at random trying to find a song with which to sing along. She finally settled on Mumford and Sons Awake My Soul. Raven turned up the radio and started belting out the lyrics, off-key, on purpose, just to annoy Clarke, who shot her a glare before looking back at the road.

 

"In these bodies, we will live, in these bodies we will die," Raven warbled, grinning at Clarke. "Where you invest your love, you invest your life."

 

Raven poked Clarke in the shoulder, trying to get her to join in the chorus, but Clarke just shook her head, her lips pressed tightly together.

 

"Awake my soul," Raven yelled. "Awake my soul. Awake my soul. For you were made to meet your maker. Awake my..hey!" Raven exclaimed as Clarke leaned forward and hit the off button on the radio.

 

"Why did you do that, Clarke? I like that song," Raven asked, brow furrowed.

 

Clarke's grip on the steering wheel was tight enough for her knuckles to turn white and she breathed deeply through her nose, exhaling slowly and forcing herself to relax her grip on the wheel before answering Raven in a tight voice. "It's too close."

 

"What?" Raven asked, confused.

 

Clarke took another deep breath. "After the last couple of days, those lyrics just hit too close," Clarke tried to explain.

 

"Too close," Raven repeated, brow still furrowed in confusion. She sat in silence for a moment, watching the tense line of Clarke's shoulders and the stiffness in her back, before it dawned on her. Raven's face smoothed out, and her eyes widened in understanding, and she nodded at Clarke.

 

"Okay," Raven said slowly. "It's your dreams, or memories, or whatever, right? That whole soul-mate thing, and the disastrous end..."

 

"Right," Clarke cut her off, nodding. "Can we just forget it, please? Focus on tonight?"

 

Raven nodded and patted Clarke on the arm. "You got it sweet cheeks; only looking forward from this point on."

 

Clarke sighed and whispered out an almost silent "Thank you," as she pulled into the arena parking lot. Within only a few minutes, Clarke and Raven were moving into the lobby, looking for their friends. They saw Bellamy and Echo at the concession counter, and Clarke was surprised that even though it had taken her longer to arrive than she planned, they were the last ones there. The rest of the group having already gotten snacks and were loitering around the small seating area; even Jasper who was notoriously late for everything.

 

"God. Even Jasper and Monty beat us here," Raven said in disgust, vocalizing Clarke's thought.

 

Clarke just snorted and made her way over to the group seated at an array of small tables that they had pushed together. She couldn't help looking around and feeling slightly disappointed that Lexa had already gone.

 

Anya noticed Clarke's look and walked up from behind her and whispered in her ear. "You just missed her." What Anya didn't mention was that she was fairly sure that Lexa had stayed out in the lobby much longer than she normally would have, or the barely concealed look of disappointment on Lexa's face when she finally had to go.

 

Clarke stiffened briefly in surprise at the proximity of the older woman, but then relaxed and nodded at Anya's words. "I'm sorry I missed her, I wanted to wish her luck," Clarke quietly responded when Anya finished.

 

Anya just smirked at her and headed toward Raven, mumbling under her breath just loud enough for Clarke to hear, "I bet you did."

 

Clarke couldn't stop the slight blush from crawling up her neck, so she turned away from the group to order a hot chocolate to try to regain some composure before heading into the rink.

 

As Clarke paid for her cocoa, Monty arrived at her side to order a drink for himself and Harper.

 

"Hey, Clarke." Monty greeted.

 

"Hi," Clarke replied, smiling at her diminutive friend. "Glad you and Harper could make it."

 

"Are you kidding me?" Monty said. "Wouldn't miss it for the world. It's been ages since we've all been to a hockey game and I can't say I'm not looking forward to going out later, either. It's been a while since we all gone to a club together."

 

"Yeah, it has hasn't it?" Clarke said, clapping Monty on the shoulder as he paid for his order.

 

"Who are they playing anyway?" Monty asked after thanking the employee behind the counter.

 

"What?" Clarke asked.

 

"The Grounders, Clarke," Monty clarified with a smile. "Who are they playing?"

 

"Oh! It's District 13," Clarke said.

 

"Are they any good?" Monty asked before taking a cautious sip of his hot chocolate.

 

Clarke shrugged. "About the middle of the pack. A bit unpredictable regarding what team shows up to play. Sometimes they're all on the same page and can put up a pretty good fight. Other times it's like they've given up before the game even starts and it all falls apart for them pretty early."

 

Monty nodded in understanding as the two walked back to join their group of friends before Clarke added, "The Grounders shouldn't have much trouble with them regardless," to which Monty only nodded again.

 

Once the group had all retrieved warm drinks, they entered the ice rink and climbed the stands to find a good vantage point from which to watch the game. They chose seats about half way up at center ice, across from the team benches and proceeded to unfold blankets and get comfortable. Clarke quickly realized that she was the only one there without a partner to sit with and she stood, blanket in hand, looking a little lost before Raven took pity on her and scooted even closer to Anya and indicated the other side of the blanket on which they were sitting. Clarke gave Raven a grateful look and plopped down beside the two women.

 

"Thanks, guys," Clarke said as she got settled.

 

"Don't worry about it blondie," Anya replied waving her hand in the air. "It's not like you're interrupting a lap dance or something," she continued straight-faced.

 

Raven spluttered into her coffee and looked at Anya with wide eyes, before smirking and turning to Clarke. "Yeah, Griffin. If you see that happening later, choose another place to sit."

 

Clarke groaned and rolled her eyes, muttering "Gross," while Raven looked back at Anya with brows raised in a silent challenge. Anya raised her eyebrows in return, and the two women stared at each other for several heartbeats before Anya grinned and grabbed Raven's hand, leaning into the amused brunette's side and looking out onto the ice.

 

"Here they come," Clarke said, breathlessly, as the Grounder team poured out onto the ice from the tunnel directly across from where the group was sitting.

 

Lexa was the last one out, giving her team high-fives or pats on the back as they went past her. The minute she stepped on the ice, though, her head shot up, and she made eye contact with piercing blue ones. Lexa stood motionless for a moment, then dipped her head in acknowledgment and raised her stick to the group of friends before skating off and joining her team. Clarke released the breath she didn't realize she was holding in a deep puff, as she watched Lexa skate away.

 

"You all right there, Clarke?" Raven asked, grinning over at her friend.

 

"Shut up, both of you" Clarke replied after a brief pause, not taking her eyes off the brunette on the ice.

 

Anya snapped her mouth shut in surprise, and Raven chuckled nudging the other woman and shaking her head in warning. Anya huffed but decided not to provoke Clarke any further.

 

Down on the ice, Lexa skated towards her team and yelled out directions for the first drill. As she came to a stop in her place in line to wait her turn, one of her linemates and assistant captain, Kim, elbowed Lexa in the side and pointed her chin in the direction of the stands.

 

"Isn't that Clarke Griffin and the rest of the top line of the Arkers up there?" Kim asked.

 

Lexa looked in the direction her teammate indicated and shrugged, feigning nonchalance. "Yeah, it is."

 

"Their starting goalie too?" Kim noticed, still staring up into the stands. "What are they doing here? Taking notes or something?" she asked with a frown.

 

"They're here to cheer us on," Lexa replied, turning away to hide the smile she could feel quirking the corners of her mouth.

 

"What? Why?" Kim said, perplexed.

 

"My cousin is dating Octavia Blake, and Reyes has," Lexa paused as if thinking, "something, going on with my best friend," she explained with a shake of her head. "They decided to come and watch the game, and they brought friends."

 

With that, Lexa gathered up a puck and skated away for her turn, hearing a soft "Oh," from Kim as she moved away.

 

The game started a few minutes later, and it was evident from the first few minutes that the Grounders should skate away with a relatively easy victory.

 

Clarke found herself watching every move Lexa made, holding her breath or finding herself on the edge of her seat every time Lexa touched the puck. Clarke couldn't help but find her beautiful to watch; Lexa was so smooth that her skating looked effortless and her passing was on point - poetry in motion, Clarke thought. Lexa had a couple of breakaways during the game and scored on both. During both rushes, Clarke found herself standing and jumping up and down in celebration, grabbing a grumbling Raven and hauling her to her feet and forcing her to jump up and down with her.

 

Anya spent her time watching Clarke watch Lexa. She was silently amused at how her best friend shot a shy look up into the stands, every time Lexa left the ice or after she scored, and didn't miss the smile that graced Clarke's face each time, or the slight blush that coloured her cheeks far more than the frigid air would account for. Any doubts Anya may have had about how Clarke felt about Lexa, or even how Lexa might feel for Clarke, were all but erased during the two hours she sat in the cold arena watching the two of them. She just hoped Lexa would allow herself to do something about it - soon.

 

The group chatted amicably during the short intermissions, but Clarke was almost monosyllabic while the game was underway. Her friends were hard pressed to pull her attention away from the match, especially when Lexa was on the ice. At the halfway point of the third period, Lexa accepted a beautiful saucer pass from her left winger which floated perfectly over the opposing defender's stick. After a spectacular spin move at the blue line that practically undressed the defender on the right side, Lexa had a clear path to the net. The goaltender came out to challenge Lexa as she swiftly closed the gap between them and just as Lexa lifted her stick to take the shot, she was unceremoniously knocked off her feet and sent spinning into the end boards with a resounding crash.

 

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

 

Clarke watched Lexa speed down the right side of the rink and pick up a brilliant pass from her winger. She held her breath as Lexa danced effortlessly around the defender in front of her and had to clench her thighs together at the jolt of arousal that shot through her while watching Lexa in her element. As Lexa rushed toward the goal, Clarke noticed the District 13 left winger flying towards Lexa from the far side of the ice and come up just behind her. Clarke felt herself stand and was in the process of shouting when she saw the defending player launch herself at Lexa in an uncontrolled slide in a vain attempt to knock the puck away from Lexa's stick. Instead of hitting the puck, though, the player's stick struck Lexa on the side of her left skate, knocking her foot forward and throwing her off balance. The defender's body slid into the back of Lexa's legs moments later, sending the now off-balance brunette hard into the end boards.

 

Clarke didn't see the rest of her friends stand; she didn't hear their yells, and she didn't see the ref raise her arms to indicate a penalty shot. Clarke's felt her throat constrict and her heart viciously thump as she focused solely on the still unmoving Lexa. Suddenly, Clarke was on her feet, only to feel a hand on her arm, holding her back. She spun around to lock eyes on Raven, who released Clarke's arm after seeing the look of barely concealed panic and obvious anger in her eyes.

 

Raven raised her hands in supplication and softly said, "Clarke. You know you can't go down there."

 

Clarke swallowed thickly, trying to get control of her breathing. Her clenched hands tight beside her, and she closed her eyes and forced her hands open before looking back at her friend and giving her a short nod.

 

Anya watched Clarke's reaction with interest and then as Clarke seemed to get a hold of herself, she pointed out at the ice with her chin. "She's up. Probably just winded."

 

Clarke spun around again to face the ice and let out a long sigh and felt the tension drain from her shoulders slightly as she watched Lexa skate over to her stick and bend over to pick it up before straightening up and looking up at her friends in the stands. The rest of the group had returned to their seats when they saw Lexa get up, but Clarke had remained standing, staring down at the ice. She met Lexa's eyes and felt her breath catch as Lexa gave her a small smile and brief nod as if to let Clarke know that she knew Clarke was worried and that she was okay.

 

Clarke nodded back, and Lexa gave her another smile, a bit wider this time and Clarke's heart stuttered in her chest. As she turned to watch Lexa skate to center ice to take her penalty shot Clarke thought, I am so fucked. Get it together Griffin. She shook her head slightly and sat back down next to Raven who silently reached over and gave Clarke's arm a gentle squeeze.

 

Within moments all the friends were back on their feet as the whistle went to indicate the penalty shot and they watched Lexa pick up the puck at center and skate smoothly towards the goaltender. Lexa moved quickly and headed towards the left side of the goal. She faked a shot near the faceoff dot and then pulled the puck back between her legs, still moving forward. The goalie scrambled to get back into position after the fake as the puck Lexa pulled between her legs hit the inside of her left skate blade, and Lexa kicked it out flawlessly to the right side of her body and onto the blade of her stick. As soon as the puck made contact with her stick, Lexa shot it two feet off the ice between the pad and the reaching glove hand of the desperately stretching net keeper and into the back of the net. It took only seconds, but Clarke felt as if she were watching it in slow motion. The Grounders erupted in cheers on the bench, and Lexa skated calmly back to her team where she sat down to congratulations and thumps on the back, not only for that goal but for the natural hat-trick she had just logged in the books.

 

"Holy shit!" Raven said.

 

At the same time, Octavia blurted, "That was, that was," she waved aimlessly in the direction of the ice, looking at her friends with a look of amazement on her face.

 

"Brilliant." Clarke finished for her, smiling ear to ear, never taking her eyes of the brunette on the other side of the ice. "It was brilliant."

 

From across the ice, green eyes finally moved up and found blue and then dipped back down shyly, a small grin playing on Lexa's lips. Clarke's smiled even wider and then turned to her friends.

 

"Please tell me someone recorded that!" She asked eyebrows raised in hope.

 

"I got it," Anya said, waving her phone in Clarke's direction. Clarke reached over and grabbed the phone held out to her and quickly opened the video and watched it again, Raven watching from one side and Octavia pressing in from the other side.

 

"It's even more impressive the second time," Octavia said, awe evident in her voice. "How in the hell did she manage to kick the puck out like that without even breaking stride?"

 

Raven just shook her head, while Clarke watched it again in slow motion. "I wonder how long it took her to perfect that?" Raven asked.

 

"Years," Anya answered without looking at the three women, eyes focused on the game.

 

Two brunette and one golden blonde head snapped up at her words and stared at the slightly older woman until she turned her head and met their questioning looks.

 

Anya shrugged. "She's been working on that for years. I've never seen her do it in a game before, though. She would practice it in her basement all the time. For her to try it now, she's either very confident in it or," Anya paused and looked directly at Clarke. "Or, she wanted to impress you and thought it was worth the risk."

 

Clarke felt her face redden in response to Anya's words and she silently handed the phone back to her. Just as Anya was going to put the phone away, however, Clarke found her voice. "Can you send me that video, please, Anya?"

 

Anya quirked an eyebrow at Clarke and opened her mouth; Clarke could also see Raven getting ready to say something as well, so she quickly added, "My dad would appreciate that move. I'd like to show it to him." She then glared at them both as if daring them to question her motives, so they both looked at each other before shrugging and turned again to Clarke with knowing smirks plastered on their faces.

 

"I hate you both," Clarke said under her breath before choosing to ignore the two and focused once again on the game.

 

The rest of the game was relatively uneventful, the Grounders content to play stifling defense to protect their three-goal lead. Once the match was over, the teams had shaken hands, and Lexa had thanked the referees, she turned to her friends in the stands and waved. Everyone waved back, and Anya indicated towards the lobby. Lexa nodded in understanding and turned and skated off the ice and through the tunnel to the locker room. The group of friends folded up the blankets they were sitting on and made their way down from the stands and into the warmth of the arena lobby to wait for Lexa.

 

They gathered at the same tables as before, and Anya pulled out her phone again to send the video file to Clarke, before realizing she didn't have her number.

 

"Clarke!" Anya called over the tables to the blonde speaking quietly to Harper. "I need your number if you want this file," she added when Clarke looked over at her.

 

Clarke nodded and moved over the where Anya was sitting with Raven and took the offered phone and typed in her number and handed it back. Anya quickly sent off the file, and then the group went back to amicably chatting while they waited, Clarke, studiously trying to ignore the butterflies that seemed to have taken up permanent residence in her abdomen.


 

Lexa sat through her coach's talk after the game and accepted her teammate's congratulations on her fantastic game with quiet aplomb, quick to offer praise to those responsible for the passes or the work done by others that left her in the position to score. Once their coach had left, she undressed quickly and headed to the showers. She dressed again in silence; her teammates familiar with her inward thoughts after a game. Today, however, Lexa's thoughts were not on the game they just played, but on a certain blonde beauty that had been in attendance. It seemed as though every time Lexa looked up, Clarke's eyes were already on her. It must have just been coincidence, though, Lexa thought. However, Lexa couldn't deny that every time they made eye contact, she saw Clarke smile a little and it made her heart flutter in a way that made her look away again quickly so she could stay focused on the game.

 

The silent conversation Lexa seemed to share with Clarke after crashing into the boards left her feeling flustered and excited at the same time. It was evident to Lexa that Clarke was concerned about her, and the need to reassure the girl seemed to flow out of Lexa like it was second nature; like she had comforted the woman hundreds of times before. Clarke's easy acceptance of Lexa's simple nod and the relief that seemed to ooze from the blonde left a warm feeling in Lexa's chest that she couldn't explain.

 

Lexa still couldn't believe what she had done during the penalty shot. It wasn't what she had planned to do as she stood at center waiting for the signal from the referee to begin, but it had happened, almost without conscious thought. That it had worked so seamlessly shocked her even more. She had only ever been able to do it properly on the ice once, during practice and she had never thought seriously about doing it in a game situation. Maybe it was because a win was pretty much guaranteed; that it wasn't that risky if it didn't work, Lexa thought. She refused to even entertain the idea that there may have been something else behind her subconscious' decision to do something so risky yet so spectacular.

 

Lexa finished getting dressed, butterflies taking flight in her chest as she gathered her gear bag and sticks, said goodbye to her teammates and headed out to the lobby. As she neared the open area, she could hear the group of friends laughing and talking, and she took a deep breath, setting her face to hide her anxiousness and stepped out of the hallway and into the open of the lobby.

 

Bellamy noticed her first, being the closest, so he hollered over at her, waving, "Lexa!"

 

At his bellow, all eyes turned in her direction, but Lexa only had eyes for the brilliant, full, cerulean ones gazing at her from across the room. She didn't realize she had frozen in place, or that she had stopped breathing until Anya appeared at her side, taking her bag off her shoulder. She sucked in a deep breath as she snapped her head away from Clarke's piercing gaze and looked over at Anya who was smirking at her.

 

"Let me help you with that," Anya said, amusement colouring her tone. Then she leaned in close and whispered in Lexa's ear, trying not to laugh at her friend, "You know, there are ten other people here. All of whom came to watch your game."

 

Lexa opened her mouth as a blush crept up her neck, but promptly shut it again, looking at Anya with wide eyes. Anya did laugh then and stepped in front of Lexa putting the bag down and putting her hands on Lexa's shoulders. She didn't miss the slight tilt of Lexa's head as she tried to see Clarke again, so she smiled and squeezed the brunette's shoulders to get her attention. When Lexa met her eyes, Anya pulled her in for a hug. "Great game, Lex," she whispered in her ear. "I'm so glad you're playing hockey again." Anya felt Lexa tense slightly at the words but smiled when the younger woman immediately relaxed and hugged her back.

 

"Me too," Lexa whispered back, locking eyes with Clarke again over Anya's shoulder. She pulled her eyes back to Anya when the older woman released her and bent down to pick up her bags. "Go greet your adoring fans, superstar," Anya said and laughed as she straightened.

 

Lexa smiled and picked up her sticks and walked the short distance to the group waiting patiently for her. She kept her eyes locked on Clarke's as she made her way over, but had to tear them away as each of her new friends congratulated her on the win, the hat-trick, and the penalty shot. She thanked them all politely in turn and suddenly she was face to face with Clarke, and she felt all the air leave her lungs in a rush. They stood in silence, just looking at each other for several heartbeats before Clarke suddenly stepped up and wrapped her up in a bone crushing hug. It took a moment for the surprise of it to wear off, and Lexa brought up her arms cautiously to wrap loosely around Clarke's waist. Clarke just squeezed tighter before whispering in Lexa's ear, "Are you okay?"

 

The warmth that had blossomed in Lexa's chest as she felt Clarke pressed against her threatened to develop into a full blown inferno at the three simple words. Lexa nodded against the side of Clarke's head, then whispered back, "Yes," knowing what Clarke was referring to. Clarke nodded back and then released her and stepped back; Lexa silently mourned the loss of contact.

 

Clarke looked at Lexa, her eyes sparkling. "That was some game, Commander. I especially liked that move at the blue line in the third period."

 

Lexa's felt her heart twinge at the moniker and raised her eyebrows in response, "Which move?"

 

"The one before the penalty shot," Clarke said mischievously.

 

"Griffin!" Raven shouted as she walked up behind them. "What about the penalty shot itself? That was freakin' incredible, Woods!"

 

Lexa shot the feisty brunette a smile over Clarke's shoulder and then focused back on the blue eyes in front of her. She raised her brows again at Clarke in silent question.

 

Clarke waved her hand and rolled her eyes. "Yeah, that was okay, I guess."

 

Lexa's eyes had widened in surprise before Anya jumped in. "Don't believe it for a minute, Lex. Clarke, Octavia, and Raven were just as in awe as the rest of us. Clarke must have watched it 100 times by now."

 

Lexa watched as Clarke blushed and dropped her eyes before shyly looking up again at Lexa. "It was pretty epic," she softly said. "Do you want to see it?"

 

Lexa smiled and nodded so Clarke pulled out her phone and set it up so they could watch the video, Lexa moving to stand at Clarke's side instead of taking the phone from her. They watched it together in real time, and then Clarke played it again in slow motion before whispering again, "That was spectacular, Lexa. You are incredibly talented."

 

Lexa swallowed, and responded shyly, "Thank you, Clarke."

 

They stood looking at each other in silence for a few moments before Raven yelled from not too far away, "Are we going or are we just going to stand and look at each other all night?"

 

Clarke cleared her throat and looked away from Lexa to shoot a glare at her friend in time to see all her friends, except Raven, Octavia, and Anya look away from the two of them quickly, the other three with knowing smirks on their faces.

 

Clarke just rolled her eyes at them. "Let's go, then," she said, moving reluctantly away from Lexa who was looking around at the group sheepishly.

 

"Party time!" Octavia yelled, jumping up into Lincoln's arms, who caught her easily with a hearty laugh before putting his girlfriend back down and taking her hand in his. Raven grabbed Anya's hand, silently agreeing to travel to the club together. Bellamy grabbed Echo's hand, and Jasper grabbed Maya's. Monty looked at Harper shyly and extended his hand. Harper gave him an equally shy smile back before stepping up and lacing her fingers with Monty's extended ones.

 

Clarke looked at Lexa and then indicated her bag and sticks on the floor. "Can I take your sticks for you?"

 

"That would be great. Thank you." Lexa sincerely said as she bent down and retrieved the sticks, handing them to Clarke before bending down again to gather the strap for her gear bag. Lexa hoisted the bag onto her shoulder effortlessly, and the two women turned and made their way out of the arena. When they arrived outside, Raven had already jumped into Lincoln's truck with Anya but rolled the window down to yell out at Clarke.

 

"I'm going with Anya!" she yelled out.

 

Clarke waved her off with a roll of her eyes. "Thank you, Captain Obvious," Clarke hollered back, causing Lexa to let out a small giggle.

 

Clarke glanced over at Lexa with a smile, "They look pretty full. Would you like to ride with me?"

 

"Are you sure? I could put my gear in the back of Lincoln's truck," Lexa said uncertainly.

 

"Don't be silly, of course, I'm sure," Clarke said, looking Lexa in the eye. "Besides," she continued, looking away from Lexa as she walked toward her car and unlocking the doors as she went. "I've had smelly hockey gear in my car often and if you put it in the back of Lincoln's truck, anyone could take it while we're in the bar. It's safer in my car." Lexa arrived at Clarke's side just as the hatch in the back popped open. Clarke laid Lexa's stick in carefully towards the back and then stepped out of the way so Lexa could maneuver the heavy bag into the small space of the Civic's hatchback.

 

Once done, both girls moved to the front of the car and got in, but not before Clarke yelled out towards the other's climbing into their cars, "See you there!"

 

Clarke got in and shot a glance over at Lexa while doing up her seatbelt. Lexa felt Clarke's eyes on her and looked over; eyebrows raised in question. Clarke shrugged and grinned at the other woman, "Ready?" she asked Lexa. Lexa gave her a small smile in return and nodded her head.

 

Clarke reached into her pocket and handed Lexa her phone after unlocking it. "There's a cable there by the radio," Clarke said, indicating the wire in question. "If you plug the phone in, you can pick some music if you want, or we can just listen to the radio."

 

"Okay," Lexa said as she took the offered phone, plugged it in and scrolled through the various playlists in Clarke's music library.

 

"You have a lot of playlists here, Clarke," Lexa observed, still scrolling through the available music.

 

Clarke shrugged again, eyes still on the road in front of her. "I stole the idea from Songza. They have a playlist for everything, but I don't always like the songs they have on them, so I decided to make my own."

 

"Hmmm," Lexa hummed in response, still focused on the phone. After a moment, she looked over at Clarke and asked, "What's the GEB playlist?"

 

"Oh!" Clarke exclaimed, a rapid blush crept up her neck, and she was instantly glad that it was dark in the car and that Lexa couldn't see it. "Um, I almost forgot. That's the playlist I mentioned I would make for you when we were at the Dropship."

 

"GEB?" Lexa asked eyebrows raised.

 

"Um," Clarke paused, mind awhirl trying to think about what to say without totally embarrassing herself. Finally, she let out a defeated sigh, shifted in her seat and decided just to go with the truth. "It's how I remember it's for you," Clarke said into the quiet of the car. "I haven't transferred to a USB yet," she finished softly.

 

Lexa looked at Clarke for a moment before looking back at the playlist and the three letters that denoted it was for her. She wracked her brain trying to come up with an explanation for the acronym but kept coming up empty. She looked back at Clarke again to catch the blonde shooting her quick glances out of the side of her eyes, before shifting uncomfortably in her seat again. Clarke seemed to be holding her breath, and Lexa wasn't sure if it was because Clarke was waiting for her to ask what the letters stood for, or if she was hoping she wouldn't. Lexa had to admit her curiosity was piqued, so she cleared her throat and asked again, "What does it mean?"

 

Clarke sighed again and seemed to slump in her seat before mumbling something out extremely quickly.

 

"I'm sorry," Lexa said, amused at the other woman's obvious embarrassment. "I missed that."

 

Clarke shot Lexa a sharp, fleeting glare, hearing the amusement in her voice, before focusing back on the road. "If you don't put something on, we're going to be there before you even press play," Clarke tried, hoping Lexa would let it go.

 

"Clarke," Lexa said. "What does GEB mean?"

 

Clarke rolled her eyes. Of course, she wasn't going to get away with her attempt at a change of topic, but Lexa did open the playlist and quickly scan it as she waited for Clarke to answer her question. When Clarke remained silent, Lexa looked at the blonde again.

 

Clarke glanced again at Lexa and huffed, before repeating herself only slightly louder and only marginally slower than she had moments before. "It stands for Green Eyed Beauty," Clarke practically whispered and seemed to all but disappear as she shrank into her seat, refusing to look at Lexa.

 

Lexa's eyes widened, and her mouth pursed in a silent 'oh' and felt her face heat up with a blush she knew was colouring her a deep crimson. Lexa hit play quickly on the phone, at a loss for anything to say, but couldn't deny the warmth and the strangely satisfied feeling that was pulsing in her chest at Clarke's admission.

 

The first song started, and Lexa recognized it as one of the Joshua Radin songs that she had looked up after hearing Clarke cover the artist's song on New Year's Eve. A slight awkwardness filled the car along with the music, but as both women started humming along to the song, the invisible tension drained away, and they relaxed again and became more comfortable. Clarke began to sing softly with the music, and Lexa joined her soon after, singing quietly.

 

Clarke heard Lexa singing, so trailed her voice off slowly so that she could hear Lexa better. She wasn't surprised to hear Lexa sing with a sweet, clear if slightly hesitant voice. Everything about her is perfect, Clarke thought. Lexa seemed to notice that Clarke had stopped singing, so stopped as well and looked over at her.

 

Clarke could feel Lexa's eyes on her, so she picked up with the song and continued, a bit louder than before, hoping Lexa would join her. She wasn't disappointed as only moments later Lexa joined in on the chorus. Clarke shot her a quick grin which Lexa shyly returned, and the rest of the drive went by quickly, the women singing along to the mix Clarke had made.

 

Clarke and Lexa pulled into the parking lot a trendy college hangout, The Brixton. The group had debated going to El Rey, only a few minutes from The Brixton, but had decided they wanted to dance, so The Brixton was the most logical choice. Located in the U Street corridor, it offered anything the group of young people might want in the evening out. The British Pub on the first floor was a good starting place and the group of friends managed to find a table and quickly ordered a round of drinks. It was fortunate that they were there relatively early, as the bar would get very busy later as young people made their way from various smaller bars to The Brixton to dance in the second-floor lounge. The friends chatted amiably with one another as they drank their first round, then decided to move to the second floor to make sure they had seats before the crowd got any thicker.

 

As they walked up the stairs, Raven spotted an empty spot and bee-lined for it, staking claim to the area for the night. It was perfect, far enough away from the dance floor and the blaring music that they could speak without shouting, but close enough to the bar that getting drinks would be relatively convenient. Once everyone had settled, Octavia looked over at Clarke and then Raven and yelled out, "Body shots!"

 

Raven whooped and high-fived the smaller brunette, while the rest of the group laughed and Clarke just rolled her eyes. As Raven and Octavia headed toward the bar to get the shots, Clarke snuck a glance at Lexa, who was sitting to Clarke's right. Lexa was still nursing her first beer, while the rest had all finished theirs before they headed upstairs. She was being relatively quiet and had what Clarke thought was a contemplative look on her face.

 

Lexa looked gorgeous, as usual, in her form-fitting black skinny jeans and knee high boots. Her long-sleeved shirt was a darker black than her jeans, with a scooping neckline, which showed just the right amount of cleavage. It was also hugging in all the right places to accentuate Lexa's toned arms and shoulders. As Clarke's eyes raked over the woman sitting next to her, she made the decision right then and there that she would not get drunk so that she could make sure that Lexa would get home safe. It was going to be a long night, though, so Clarke figured a few drinks wouldn't hurt, but that she would start on water sooner rather than later.

 

Clarke leaned slightly and nudged Lexa with her shoulder. "You okay?" she asked the brunette.

 

Lexa glanced quickly at Clarke and gave her a soft smile, nodding. "I'm good." Lexa opened her mouth to say something else but was interrupted by Anya who plopped down in the empty seat beside Clarke that had been recently vacated by Octavia.

 

"Lexa! We're going to do body shots!" Anya yelled, leaning over Clarke to speak directly to Lexa.

 

"You don't have to yell, Anya. I'm right here," Lexa admonished her friend.

 

"But, Lexa," Anya almost whined, and Lexa's eyebrows almost disappeared into her hairline with surprise at her friend. "Body shots! We haven't done body shots in, well, in forever! Please tell me you'll do one," Anya almost begged.

 

"First of all," Lexa said, amused. "Who are you and what have you done with my friend?"

 

Anya just shot a glare at her from under her furrowed brows. "It's my last night in DC. I'm surrounded by people I actually like. Surprising, I know," she said, rolling her eyes after seeing Lexa about to say something. "And I want to have a night to remember. A night I can take back to Seattle and hang on to until I get to see your sorry ass again. And all these dorks again as well," Anya said waving her hand at the friends scattered around her.

 

At that moment, Raven and Octavia returned carrying two trays, one full of beer and the other with ten shots of tequila, ten lime wedges and a shaker of salt. Raven plopped herself down on Anya's lap and wrapped her arms around her neck, effectively ending whatever conversation may have continued between Anya and Lexa. Raven leaned down and pressed her lips to Anya's quickly then looked around the cluster of tables at her friends, both old and new. "I'm going first!" she announced loudly. "Who wants to be my body?" Raven asked, quirking her eyebrow at Anya suggestively before looking over at Clarke and Lexa and waggling her eyebrows up and down. "How 'bout it Clarke? It's been awhile since you had a taste of this," Raven teased, waving her hand up and down her body in invitation.

 

Lexa shifted uncomfortably in her seat, as Clarke rolled her eyes. "Oh please, Reyes, you should be so lucky to have this tongue touch you anywhere," Clarke shot back, not noticing Lexa's growing discomfort, but Anya did, and she narrowed her eyes slightly at Lexa who refused to meet her gaze. "However," Clarke continued, "if you can't find any other takers," at this Clarke looked pointedly at Anya, "then, of course, I will help you out. What are friends for?"

 

Anya's eyes widened, and she squeezed Raven around the waist almost possessively as she shot back, "That won't be necessary, Clarke. I'm sure I can handle it."

 

Raven smirked, grabbed a shot glass and then twisted back around to effectively straddle Anya's lap before she placed a lime wedge between Anya's teeth. The rest of the group cheered as Raven ran her tongue up the length of Anya's neck before shaking salt along the now damp patch of skin. Anya pulled back and grinned at Raven before wrapping her arms around the feisty brunette. Raven smirked in response and then took her time sucking off every grain of salt on Anya's neck, spending much more time than necessary around the rapidly beating pulse at the base of her throat. Anya threw her head back to give Raven more access and had to bite back a moan as Raven finally made her way to just under Anya's ear and gave her lobe a sharp nip before pulling away and tossing back her shot. Raven slammed the glass down on the table beside her and wrapped her hands around the sides of Anya's face, thumbs brushing defined cheekbones before she leaned in slowly and pressed her lips to Anya's. Raven enclosed the lime wedge held between Anya's teeth and sucked it into her mouth, never once breaking contact with Anya's lips. Anya couldn't stop the moan that exited her lips when she felt Raven's tongue lick the rest of the lime juice from her lips before pulling away.

 

"Jesus Christ!" Octavia hollered and then let out a low whistle. "That was freaking hot! Lincoln! My turn, get over here." Lincoln laughed with the rest of the group, as they all turned to Lincoln and Octavia, letting Anya and Raven have their moment.

 

The two women stared at each other for another moment, before Anya leaned in to kiss Raven again. "You definitely have to let me have a turn...soon," Anya whispered after breaking away from the kiss and then took Raven's hand and led her back to their seats so they could watch the show Lincoln and Octavia were putting on.

 

They had missed Octavia's performance with Lincoln, but Octavia was just getting warmed up for Lincoln's turn. Lincoln licked the inside of Octavia's wrists and sprinkled salt on both of them. He then tucked his shot into the exposed space of Octavia's cleavage, much to her surprise and ultimate pleasure. Lincoln grinned at his girlfriend and gently placed the lime wedge in her mouth. He then picked up Octavia's hand and worshiped the inside of her wrists, moving back and forth between the two until he had consumed every grain of salt. Octavia shuddered more than once and had to force herself to be still after the first tremor had caused the shot glass in her cleavage to shake and spill tequila down the center of her breasts. Once Lincoln had completed his journey over Octavia's wrists, he moved his head to the shot glass encased in the valley of Octavia's breasts, wrapping his lips around the mouth of the glass, making sure to make as much contact with the skin around it as possible. Once Lincoln was confident he had a secure seal on the glass, he pulled his head up and downed the fiery liquor without ever touching it with his hands. He placed the now empty glass on the table beside him slowly and then lunged at Octavia and devoured her lips and the lime wedge she held between them. Octavia whimpered and had to clench her thighs at the sudden aggressiveness of her boyfriend after the minutes of slow and tender movements. Lincoln turned his head and spat out the now used lime and then returned to his attack on Octavia's lips. The rest of the group clapped and cheered the couple and proceeded to ignore the heavy make out session happening just off to the side of them. It surprised no one that moments later the two disappeared, only to return looking flushed and smug 15 minutes later.

 

Monty and Harper did their shots together, much more conservatively than their friends had just done, licking the salt off of their own hands before tossing back their shots and then sucking the lime wedge from the other's waiting teeth. Bellamy and Echo did much the same thing, while Jasper and Maya looked at each other shyly before deciding to be a bit more risqué and licked the salt of each other's necks, but in a much tamer fashion than Raven and had. Anya, of course, had practically devoured Raven during her shot. The two of them had been one step away from dry-humping during the lime suck, causing the rest of the group to caterwaul and hoot, with various shouts of "Gross" and "Get a room" ringing out before they finally finished, Raven's face flushed and Anya looking incredibly smug.

 

Two shots still sat on the table, next to two lonely lime wedges. Raven looked at the shots and then looked over at a clearly uncomfortable Lexa and an anxious Clarke. "Bottoms up, you two," Raven called out. "You're the only ones who haven't tossed one back yet."

 

Clarke glanced at Lexa, before murmuring softly, "You don't have to do a body shot, Lex. You don't have to do a shot at all if you don't want to."

 

Lexa shifted in her seat before looking up at Clarke and then over at Anya, who was watching Lexa carefully, with one brow quirked. The two friends stared at each other for several moments, having a whole conversation with just their eyes. Lexa finally nodded and then looked back down at her hands before looking at the group around her. Harper and Monty had left to hit the dance floor, as had Bellamy and Echo. Jasper was leaning into Maya, and they were laughing quietly together. Lincoln and Octavia were currently MIA, and the only people that were paying any attention to her at all, Lexa finally realized, were Raven, Anya, and Clarke.

 

Clarke reached out for one of the two remaining shots and then raised her right hand to lick the back of it. Lexa didn't notice Clarke's actions until Anya managed to catch her eye and give a slight tilt of her head in Clarke's direction. Lexa saw the motion and looked over at Clarke who was about to shake salt on the newly minted wet spot on the back of her hand. Lexa reached out and wrapped her hand around the salt shaker in Clarke's hand, stopping her motion. Clarke looked up at Lexa, confusion on her face and a question in her eyes.

 

Lexa took a deep breath and released Clarke's hand, reaching for the last shot sitting on the table and pulled it toward her. She looked back at Clarke and gave her a shaky smile, "it's Anya's last night, and she wants a memory to take home with her," Lexa said, trying to keep the tremor out of her voice. "It's true that we used to do this quite a bit, and that we haven't in...a very long time," Lexa finished quietly. Lexa took another deep breath and tried to project an air of confidence that she didn't feel as she said in a stronger voice, "Who am I to deny her?"

 

"Hell yes!" Raven shouted. "Just so you know, though, Woods, you are so not doing a shot off of Anya," Raven stated seriously. "That is only my privilege tonight. Clarke is always up for a good body shot, though, aren't you, Griff," the last spoken as more of a statement than a question.

 

Clarke glared at her friend and then looked at Lexa. "Only if you want to, Lex," Clarke assured her.

 

Lexa swallowed and nodded at Clarke. "It's okay, Clarke. I want to do this with you."

 

Clarke nodded as she tried to control the swarm of overactive butterflies that had suddenly appeared in her abdomen. "Do you want to go first, or should I?" Clarke asked.

 

Lexa swallowed thickly, and managed to croak out, "Um, you can go...you go first."

 

"Okay," Clarke agreed. "Do you have a preference as to where I put the salt?"

 

Lexa shook her head, suddenly unable to speak. She shot a wild look of barely constrained panic in Anya's direction who just gave Lexa a small half smile and nodded at her in encouragement. Lexa took another deep breath and forced herself to turn to face Clarke.

 

Clarke held the salt shaker in her left hand, and she watched Lexa carefully. "Are you sure you're okay with this?" Clarke quietly asked.

 

Lexa nodded again, and Clarke thought quickly about what to do. She thought maybe she should just shake the salt on her hand, but another, selfish part of her wanted to be able to taste Lexa, put her lips on Lexa's skin. So, salt on Lexa, Clarke thought, but where?

 

Clarke sat there in silence for a few moments contemplating when Raven finally spoke up. "Oh for fuck's sake, Griffin," she said rolling her eyes. "Just salt the woman's neck and get on with it. We're not getting any younger, and those limes are going to dry up before you decide to get moving."

 

Clarke couldn't even bring herself to be annoyed because Raven had just given her an opening. She glanced up at Lexa who nodded at the unspoken question, so Clarke took a deep breath and leaned into Lexa bringing her lips closer to Lexa's neck. Clarke's heart was beating so hard she was sure Lexa could hear it. Clarke had to force herself to extend her tongue and run it lightly up Lexa's neck, rather than place soft kisses along its length like she longed too. She felt Lexa shiver at the contact, and as she pulled away slowly, Lexa bent her neck to the side so Clarke could shake the salt over the wet streak Clarke's tongue had left behind. Clarke set the shaker down and handed Lexa a lime wedge which the brunette took without comment and placed between her teeth.

 

Clarke looked at Lexa and received the permission she was silently asking for before she leaned in again and began sucking the salt from Lexa's skin starting just below her jaw and working her way down the length of Lexa's beautiful neck. Clarke moved more quickly than she would have liked, but she could feel Lexa tense up the moment her lips made contact with her neck and Clarke was sensitive to the fact that Lexa didn't seem entirely comfortable with the current situation. A part of Clarke lamented the fact that Lexa seemed like she was only doing it for Anya's benefit, but another part of her couldn't help rejoicing internally at the position she found herself in at the moment.

 

Clarke had thought of her lips on Lexa's skin more than was probably healthy and she couldn't deny the way her lips tingled and her heart practically sang when her lips met Lexa's flesh. She finished her trail down Lexa's neck, licking the last bit of salt from Lexa's rapidly beating pulse point. Clarke leaned back and picked up her shot glass and downed the tequila quickly. When she looked again at Lexa as she put the glass down, she noticed that Lexa had her eyes screwed shut and was breathing shallowly around the wedge of lime in her mouth. One hand was clamped tightly to the edge of the table, the other had a death grip on the back of Clarke's chair. Clarke glanced over at Anya, a bit worried about the brunette but Anya just gave her a quick grin and a nod, so Clarke closed the distance between her and the waiting wedge of lime tucked tightly between Lexa's teeth. Clarke noticed that the lime was sticking out of Lexa's mouth and as much as she wanted to feel the way Lexa's lips felt against hers, she decided that this was not the way she wanted to have that feeling for the first time. So, Clarke leaned in and carefully plucked the lime out of Lexa's teeth with her own, not touching Lexa's lips at all. Lexa let the lime go when she felt the pressure pull against her teeth and when she opened her eyes almost looked surprised that Clarke was already sitting back in her chair, pulling the now used lime out of her mouth.

 

Lexa looked at a grinning Anya and smirking Raven and then back at Clarke. Clarke just smiled softly at her and pointed at the shot sitting in front of Lexa. "Your turn," she said, passing the salt shaker over to Lexa.

 

Lexa looked at Clarke with wide eyes and then back to Anya. Anya's grin dropped as she watched Lexa carefully, noticing how close to panic the younger girl was and quickly but gently pushed Raven off her lap. "I gotta pee," she announced. "Come with me Lex; you can do your shot after."

 

Lexa just sat at the table unmoving, staring at the one-ounce glass in front of her until Anya grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the restroom, leaving a bemused Raven and a concerned Clarke in their wake.

 

"Well, that was weird," Raven commented once the other two were out of earshot.

 

Clarke shot her a glance and grimaced, looking at her hands. "It didn't seem like she enjoyed it very much did it," Clarke sadly stated.

 

"Oh, I don't know, Griff. Maybe, or maybe it's something else," Raven said with a shrug. The two young women sat at the table nursing their beers when Don't Leave Me This Way - by The Communards started playing over the speakers. Raven's head popped up, and she jumped to standing, took Clarke's hand and pulled her to her feet. Raven looked over at Jasper and Maya and yelled, "We're going to dance! Hold the tables, okay?" Jasper waved her away while Maya giggled into his side. Raven rolled her eyes and then started dragging Clarke onto the dance floor. By the time they made it to a somewhat empty spot on the floor, the first chorus had started, and Raven immediately spun Clarke around as the music blared around them.

 

'Oh, baby, my heart is full of love and desire for you

So come on down and do what you've got to do

You started this fire down in my soul

Now can't you see it's burning, out of control

So come on down and satisfy the need in me

'Cause only your good loving can set me free'

 

By the time the chorus had ended, Clarke had a huge grin on her face, and she was dancing along enthusiastically with Raven. Raven spun Clarke around again and then pulled her in close to sway and weave through the next verse. They had danced to this song many times and almost had a routine, always with Raven leading. The two women moved well together, a result of being friends for so long and being totally comfortable in each other's space. It wasn't long before the rest of their friends on the dance floor noticed them and started to migrate in their direction. Soon, there were eight somewhat sweaty bodies flying around to the beat of the song. Lincoln and Octavia had appeared out of thin air at some point and were dancing beside Raven and Clarke, Bellamy and Echo just on the other side of them and Harper and Monty not far away. Everyone was laughing and enjoying being together. No one noticed when Anya and Lexa returned to the table and found their seats, nor did they see Lexa push the tequila shot in Anya's direction, whom quickly drained it and put it back down and then turned her attention to the group on the dance floor.

 

As the last verse and chorus of the song played out, some of the friends had changed partners so that Bellamy was dancing with Clarke, Raven with Octavia and Lincoln with Echo. The last line rang out, 'Oh, baby, my heart is full of love and desire for you...' and Bellamy dipped a laughing Clarke and then placed a kiss on the top of her head. He then left her with Raven and went to collect Echo from Lincoln. Lincoln rejoined Octavia who was already dancing with Clarke, who had moved over to the brunette when Raven excused herself to get Anya. Clarke swayed to the music, but her mind was on Lexa. She watched Raven approach the table and ask Anya to dance. She noticed Anya indicate the dance floor and say something to Lexa who just shook her head and took another sip from her beer. Anya said something else and then waited for a beat before shrugging her shoulders and grasped Raven's hand and moved with her to the dance floor. Lexa's shoulders seem to sag further into herself, and Clarke couldn't help but feel responsible for possibly contributing to Lexa's somber mood. When the song ended, Clarke moved away from Lincoln and Octavia and made her way back to the group of tables. She hesitated briefly before deciding to sit next to Lexa again, rather than across from her, and she slid into her seat quietly, picked up her beer and took a long pull as if she hadn't had anything to drink in years.

 

When she put it down, she chanced a glance over at Lexa and caught her eye. Lexa quickly looked away towards the dance floor and shifted in her seat.

 

Clarke sighed. "Lex?" she said and waited until the brunette turned to look at her once more. "I'm sorry if...I mean, I didn't want..." Clarke trailed off, flustered because she didn't know what she was even trying to say. She felt like she should apologize but wasn't sure what for, or if she should just let it all go.

 

Lexa stopped her before she could begin again, reaching out and placing her hand on Clarke's arm. "You have nothing to apologize for, Clarke. I just...I haven't done anything like that in a really long time. I didn't expect to feel," Lexa paused, as if searching for the right words, but then shrugged and quietly said, "how I felt," she cryptically ended as she took her hand off of Clarke's arm and looked back to the dance floor.

 

Clarke stared at Lexa's profile and tried to restrain herself from reaching out to touch her. Instead, she stood, moved around to stand in front of Lexa and offered her hand. "Dance with me?" Clarke asked softly.

 

Lexa froze, staring at Clarke's hand hanging in the space between their bodies. Just when Clarke was beginning to feel foolish and about to draw her hand back, she noticed a slight tremor race through Lexa from head to toe. Lexa then puffed out a breath and seemed to straighten before looking up into Clarke's semi-concerned blue eyes and reached out and accepted Clarke's offered hand, standing and nodding with a small smile. Both women shuddered and sucked in a breath at the touch and the smile that graced Clarke's face was blinding in its intensity. She tugged Lexa to the dance floor, and they proceeded to dance with their friends in a frenzy of movement for the next several hours. All the friends seem to have an unspoken agreement to use the lull of slightly slower songs to take a break and have a drink. Both Clarke and Lexa had switched to water, Lexa's melancholy having washed away with her sweat during the energetic dance movements of the electronic/remix based music.

 

It was almost 1 a.m., and the group was still going strong. Laughter and gentle teasing was rife, and the mood of the group of friends was light. Raven had been taking photos all night with the promise to share them with everyone the next day. Raven had just managed to get a picture of Clarke and Lexa while they were sitting, heads bent closely together so they could hear each other without shouting. Clarke was laughing at something Lexa had said, and Lexa had a soft smile on her face as she looked at Clarke. Raven showed the photo to Anya. "Look at these two fools," she said. "Is it obvious to everyone else but them?"

 

Anya looked at the woman in her lap and then back at her best friend across the table. "No," she quietly said, watching Clarke and Lexa together. "I believe they are both painfully aware of how they feel. I think that they just haven't realized the other feels just as strongly. I imagine," Anya said, looking back up at Raven, "that Clarke would be willing to take the next step. Am I right?" Raven nodded, looking over at the two briefly before looking back at Anya, knowing the blonde was about to say more. "Lexa's not ready," Anya said with a sigh.

 

"Not ready?" Raven asked, confusion on her face.

 

"Not ready," Anya repeated. "She's afraid, Rae. She needs to deal with some things, emotionally, and be willing to open up to Clarke. She's getting there, but she's not ready."

 

Raven looked over at the two again. "I'm not going to ask you to divulge Lexa's issues. I know that you are involved somehow, though. You did say this is the first time you have seen her, or talked to her in almost two years." Anya just nodded as a look of sadness ghosted over her face. Raven bent down and kissed it away before continuing. "But just look at them. Tell me you don't think they wouldn't be great together."

 

"Oh, I know they would. The first time I met Clarke, I knew there was something special there. I'll tell you something else," Anya said, lowering her voice to a whisper before she continued.

"I'd be willing to bet that Lexa knows it too, and it's one of the reasons she's so scared."

 

Raven's eyes widened, and she turned to look back at her friends, only to notice that they had left and were back on the dance floor again.

 

Raven nodded and looked around for the rest of her friends. Jasper, Maya, Harper, and Monty were all extremely drunk, slumped around the table at the opposite end, telling bad jokes and laughing at every single one. Lincoln and Octavia were grinding on the dance floor just beyond Bellamy and Echo who were wrapped around each other's necks, swaying slowly together, even though the music was upbeat. And Clarke and Lexa were dancing close together, as close as they could get without actually touching each other, both with broad smiles on their faces.

 

Raven pulled out her phone to take yet another selfie of her and Anya and noticed her battery light flashing at her. "Shit! My phones gonna die, quick, one more picture!" she said, quickly opening her camera and holding it out in front of her and Anya. Just as she was about to push the button, the phone went dark. "Crap!"

 

Anya chuckled at Raven's dismay and pushed on Raven's backside to get her to move so Anya could stand up. Raven grumbled but complied, frowning at her phone as she shoved it into the inside pocket of her jacket, hanging over the back of the chair.

 

"Let's go dance," Anya suggested, holding out her hand.

 

"Fine," Raven grumbled, faking annoyance. "But I'm getting Griffin's phone first. We don't have any dance floor pictures yet!"

 

"You could just use mine," Anya offered.

 

"Nah, it's okay. Clarke's is right here," Raven said as she reached into the pocket of Clarke's jacket, pulling out her phone and quickly typed in the password.

 

"You know Clarke's password?" Anya asked.

 

"Of course," Raven replied, looking at Anya like it was the most logical thing in the world. "She knows mine too, so does O. We have no secrets from each other...Holy Shit!" Raven exclaimed as Clarke's phone came to life.

 

"What?" Anya asked, noting the look of amazement on Raven's features.

 

"Clarke has like 20 text messages and five voice mails. Who the hell would be blowing up her phone like that? Everyone she talks to is here," Raven said, eyes wide. "I better show this to her, it might be an emergency."

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Truths and Understanding

Lexa watched Clarke move to the music, and tried to keep up. They had been dancing for a couple of hours, and had, by unspoken agreement left the floor anytime the music slowed down. Lexa had mixed feelings about that, but her reaction to Clarke's body shot earlier had left her feeling that a bit of distance was the best course of action at the moment.

It disconcerted her to no end how much she wanted to put her hands on the hips of the beautiful woman in front of her, while at the same time feeling as though the mere thought of doing so might send her into a panic attack. That thought sent her back to the moment when she felt Clarke's lips against the flushed skin of her neck. Lexa trembled slightly at the memory.

The moment Clarke's soft, pink lips had touched her neck, Lexa was sure that her heart would stop from the sheer force of the electrical pulse she felt rush through her body. She had to force herself to continue breathing the whole time Clarke worked her way down her neck. It was an exquisite kind of torture, and Lexa's mind began to short circuit as Clarke neared her pulse point and she had to forcibly hold back what would have certainly been an obscene moan. By the time Clarke had carefully taken the lime from her mouth, Lexa was barely breathing, confused and terrified by the intensity of the feelings rushing through her body; she was also incredibly turned on. It left her in a stupor and on the verge of a very embarrassing panic attack. If it wasn't for Anya pulling her to her feet and dragging her away to the safety of the restroom, she might have fallen to pieces right there in front of everyone.

Lexa smiled as Clarke turned so that her back was to Lexa and began to sway her hips with her arms stretched above her head. Lexa again had to stop herself from taking a step forward and grasping the blonde's hips. Instead, she closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and released it slowly as she thought back to her talk with Anya.


Anya grabbed Lexa's hand, immediately noticing what was going on and decided to remove Lexa from the situation as quickly as possible. She led them through the crowded bar area and into the restroom. Thankfully, and surprisingly, it was currently empty. It was a large bathroom, with a wall of stalls along one wall, a full-length mirror along another, in addition to the ones above the sinks across from the stalls, and two comfortable looking couches tucked into a little niche in one corner. Anya led Lexa to the sofa tucked against the wall, which hid them from the mirrors or the door. She sat down carefully next to her and placed a hand on her shoulder.

Lexa was taking quick shallow breaths, and her eyes held a faraway, glazed look that Anya remembered well, from two years ago. She slowly raised her hand and placed it in the center of Lexa's back and began to rub small, soothing circles against the tight muscles she could feel there. With her other hand, she reached out and cradled one of Lexa's hands and squeezed gently.

"Lex?" Anya started softly. "Lexa, honey, you have to breathe. Can you breathe with me?" Anya took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, hoping Lexa would copy her. She squeezed Lexa's hand again. "Can you feel my hand on yours? Concentrate on my hand and breathe with me, okay?" Anya took another deep breath and at the same time, squeezed her index finger and thumb against the tip of Lexa's thumb. On the next breath, she moved to Lexa's index finger and continued in this manner until she returned to Lexa's thumb. By the time Anya had hit Lexa's ring finger the second time through, Anya had noticed Lexa's eyes shift quickly to her own before darting away again. By the time she hit Lexa's pinky again, her best friend was making more of an effort to regulate her breathing. On the third time through, Lexa's breathing began to match Anya's, and by the time Anya squeezed Lexa's middle finger for the third time, Lexa curled her hand around and squeezed Anya's hand instead.

"Thank you," Lexa shakily breathed out, lowering her eyes to their clasped hands.

Anya nodded. "Want to tell me what that was about? I mean, I could probably guess, but I'd like to hear your take on it."

Lexa looked at her best friend, eyes glassy with unshed tears. "Oh, An," she sighed. "I don't know what to do."

"Do about what? Clarke or the body shot?" Anya questioned softly.

"I don't know...yes? No? Yes? Everything?" Lexa responded quietly, searching Anya's face like she expected to find the answers to all her questions there.

"Okay, well that's vague," Anya said giving Lexa's shoulders a squeeze. "Let's start with how you feel right now."

Lexa sighed again and waved her hand around her listlessly before stating in a defeated tone, "Embarrassed, terrified, confused and..."

"Turned on?" Anya added and let a smirk creep upon her face when Lexa snapped her head up and looked at her with wide eyes.

Lexa just looked at Anya for several moments before swallowing thickly and gave her head a brief nod before looking back down.

"Oh, my God, Anya," she breathed out. "Yes, so incredibly turned on." And then Lexa began to cry.

Anya looked at her in alarm and scooted closer to wrap her friend up in a tight hug, pulling Lexa's head onto her shoulder.

"Oh, sweetie," Anya said. "It's okay; it's okay to feel, Lex."

Anya could feel Lexa shake her head against her shoulder before she buried her face in Anya's neck, her shoulders shaking with her sobs. Anya rubbed circles on Lexa's back and waited. Long moments later, Lexa finally pulled away a bit and took a deep breath, the odd hiccupping sob still making its way from the depth of Lexa's chest.

"Then why..." Lexa stuttered out, "why do I feel so guilty?"

"Guilty?" Anya asked before realization suddenly dawned on her. "Oh, Lex," she softly said. "You don't need to feel guilty. Do you think Costia would want you to be alone?" Anya felt Lexa stiffen and try to pull away, but she just held her tighter.

"She would want you to be happy," Anya continued softly, murmuring into Lexa's hair. "And, she would have adored Clarke," Anya said with certainty.

Lexa stayed still and silent against Anya's chest, her arms wrapped around her best friends waist. Finally, Lexa shook her head again. "I know...I know...I do," Lexa whispered. "It's not just that I feel guilty about the feelings I have for Clarke," Lexa said raising her head to look at Anya, her eyes pleading for acceptance, understanding or absolution, Anya wasn't sure which.

"What is it then?" Anya asked, searching Lexa's face for something, anything that would help her make all of this easier for Lexa. All she saw, though, was misery and fear.

Lexa shook her head again and lowered her eyes. "It's not just that I have feelings, it is the strength of those feelings, An. I have never felt this way, and that makes me feel even guiltier than having them in the first place. What does that say about what Costia and I had? Did I even love her? If...if she was still here, would we still be together? Was what we had strong enough to hold us together?"

Lexa paused to wipe away a stray tear, and Anya closed her suddenly open mouth at Lexa's admission before Lexa could catch her with her jaw hanging open.

Lexa didn't look up again, though, she just took another deep breath and pressed on, while the thoughts were all bubbling to the surface. All the fears, feelings she had been keeping inside, suddenly seemed to burst forth with the fist quick, quiet admission.

"What if I feel more than Clarke does?" Lexa continued, straightening in her seat but looking down at her hands. "What if I let myself do this and she doesn't feel the same way? We just met! What with her injury we haven't even spent that much time together even though I've known her for a couple of months. Can she care about me the way I care about her, already? How can she? She doesn't know me - hell, I don't even know me these days!" Lexa huffed out, throwing her hands in the air.

Anya just looked on, in awe of the things her friend was revealing to her and the speed at which they were falling from Lexa's lips. Lexa seemed totally unaware of the few people who had entered and left the restroom while they were talking, focused on her inner turmoil, getting out what she had desperately been holding in for far too long.

"How can I feel this much, An? I don't even know her, not really," Lexa asked, looking up at Anya but not waiting for an answer before she softly continued, speaking more to herself than to Anya it seemed. "But I feel like I do. I feel like I've known her forever. Like everything I need to know, all the important things, I already have buried inside my soul. The little things, like her middle name, her birthday - those things are nothing. You don't know someone by knowing those things about them, right? But who she is, who she is in the depths of her soul - I feel like I know that Clarke. I know her, Anya and I don't know how I know, and it terrifies me. It terrifies me because what if I do this, what if I put myself out there, to her. I know it won't just be a piece of me, it will be all of me, my whole heart, my whole soul, will belong to her. She sees me, Anya," Lexa said with wonder, looking again at her stunned friend sitting silently next to her. "She sees me, and she sees my pain, my confusion...my fear, but she has never pushed. She allows me to feel it, but I know that she would help me shoulder it, she would take it for her own if she could. How do I know that?" Lexa sat in silence for a few moments before she sucked in a sharp inhale of breath and stifled a sob before whispering, "What she doesn't know, is how broken I am."

"Lexa," Anya finally managed to say after a short, stunned silence, "are you even listening to yourself right now? You just finished going on about how you feel you know this woman on a level I can barely fathom, that she can see that you are confused and in pain but has never asked you about it, yet has let you know she is there if you need her, right?" Lexa nodded, watching Anya carefully.

"Okay, so, do you honestly think that when she finds out the reasons behind your pain, she'll run? I mean, I've only spent a handful of hours in her presence, but even I can tell she wouldn't do that. I can also tell that she cares about you - a lot," Anya softly said, laying her hand on Lexa's thigh.

Lexa looked up at her with wide eyes. "What? What do you…"

"Oh my God, Lexa," Anya scoffed, interrupting. "The way she looks at you like you are a warrior goddess would be the first clue. But if that weren't enough, I was in the stands today when you got dumped, and Raven had to restrain Clarke from running down to the ice. I'm not sure if it was to check on you or to beat that District 13 player to a pulp - maybe both."

Lexa continued to stare at Anya in wide-eyed wonder for another beat before the self-doubt came creeping back in and she closed her eyes. "What if I let myself do this and I ruin our friendship? I haven't had friends like this since Seattle, Anya. I've been barely surviving for almost two years, and now I finally feel like I'm starting to live again; like I truly want to live again. What if, God, what if," Lexa trailed off and then finished in a whisper so soft, Anya almost didn't catch it.

"What if it's great, what if it's everything I feel like it could be deep in my soul? What if it's everything and I lose her?" Lexa's voice cracked at the end, and Anya reached over and pulled her into a hug once more.

"Lex?" Anya said into the top of Lexa's hair, as she placed a kiss on the top of her head. "I'm going to ask you a question, and I want you to think about it for a moment, really think about it, okay?"

Lexa nodded under Anya's chin, and she felt Anya take a deep breath. "Shitty things happen all the time; you know this better than anyone. So if you decide that you can only be friends with Clarke because you are afraid to lose her, is it going to be easier to accept, easier to move on, to recover from the loss because you refused anything more than friendship? Is it going to keep you from caring about her? Would it make her loss easier to take?"

Anya had felt Lexa stiffen almost at the beginning of her monologue, but she hadn't pulled away, so Anya had barged ahead. It was important that Lexa heard what Anya was trying to tell her and that she truly thought about it. By the time Anya had finished, she could feel Lexa's tears once again soaking through the front of her shirt.

Anya remained quiet and finally felt Lexa shaking her head, her forehead rubbing across the soft cotton of Anya's shirt. "No," Lexa whispered brokenly.

"Mmmm," Anya hummed, giving Lexa a squeeze. She then pushed back on Lexa's shoulders so she could look her in the eye. "I know you're scared. I know you feel guilty about the depth of your attraction to this woman, and that you feel that it somehow lessens what Costia meant to you. But, Lex, can you let yourself imagine the joy this could bring you? What if you don't lose her? What if being in a relationship with Clarke is everything you ever dreamed a relationship could be? What if she is it for you and you both live very long, very happy lives - together? If she makes you feel alive again, and I can tell that she does, isn't that worth a bit of risk? Especially since you are determined to keep her in your life anyway, and you know as well as I do that you won't be able just to shut off your feelings."

Anya kept Lexa's gaze and watched the myriad emotions course through Lexa's emerald gaze. She waited for a heartbeat, letting Lexa ponder what she had already said, before dropping her final, most salient point. "If you decide to remain, only friends, what do you do when she finds a partner?" Anya watched the subtle flinch and the grimace that flitted across Lexa's face at that and mentally high-fived herself for calling that one. "How will you handle that?" she continued. "Will you still be able to be there for her, be her friend when she is with someone else - when she should be with you?"

Lexa's eyes widened slightly at the last part, and Anya smiled gently and kissed Lexa on the forehead. "Yes, Lexa. I think she should be with you."

The two woman sat for a few moments more in comfortable silence before Lexa took in a deep breath and blew it noisily out her nose as she shook her head. "I'm not ready. Not yet. But I could be, I want to be. I need to tell Clarke why I'm in DC. I need her to know. I think once that is out in the open maybe I can finally say good-bye and move on," she said firmly.

Anya smiled over at Lexa and squeezed her hand. "I'm proud of you. One of the bravest things you will ever do is allow yourself to love again, Lex." Anya took a breath and kissed Lexa's temple before continuing. "You are the strongest person I know, and I'm so happy to have you back in my life."

Lexa reached over suddenly and wrapped the slightly older woman up in a fierce hug. "Me too, An. I'm sorry it took so long, and I will be forever grateful that you didn't give up on me. I love you," Lexa finished in a whisper.

"I love you too, kid. Now let's get you cleaned up and get back out there before our friends think we abandoned them. Oh, and also," Anya said, lifting the damp fabric of her shirt away from her shoulder, "you owe me a new shirt."

Lexa chuckled somewhat wetly and swatted Anya on her shoulder before quickly washing her face and thanking whatever powers that be that she wasn't wearing a lot of makeup and that her mascara was waterproof. She refreshed easily, and the two woman made their way out back into the loud nightclub. They sat at their table and Lexa pushed the tequila shot towards Anya who downed it quickly. It wasn't long before Raven came and claimed Anya for a dance, and only moments after that that Lexa felt Clarke sit down hesitantly next to her.

Lexa found she couldn't look Clarke in the eye, all her embarrassment rising to the surface once again. Clarke started to apologize, and Lexa shut her down, taking the blame on herself and her erratic emotions. There was so much she wanted to say to Clarke, but it was neither the time nor the place. The next thing Lexa knew a soft, delicate hand was in front of her face, with the husky, 'dance with me?' falling from Clarke's lips. Lexa knew she left Clarke standing there too long, but she had to will her heart and her mind to work together to compose herself enough to respond. She finally nodded and accepted Clarke's hand, and the smile she got in response from the blonde took her breath away as she followed Clarke to the dance floor.


Lexa's mind drifted back from her heart to heart with Anya, to Clarke who was still dancing with her back to Lexa, and Lexa couldn't help but admire the shape of Clarke's ass in her jeans, or the way all her curves and edges seemed to flow so seamlessly together. Lexa was sure Clarke was a goddess sent from the Heavens, perfection incarnate.

Every time Clarke Griffin was near her, Lexa felt as though her body orbited Clarke's erratically, inexorably attracted to her in the same way that the planetary bodies in the solar system are drawn to the sun. However, Lexa felt as though Clarke's pull was much stronger; more like the gravity of a black hole, a pull so strong she could feel her resolve weaken every moment she spent in Clarke's presence. It was that weakening of resolve, that feeling of falling into Clarke's gravity that had Lexa stunned and barely breathing by the time Clarke turned around with a blinding smile on her face as the next song started up. Anya was right, Lexa thought thinking back again to their conversation in the restroom. Before the thought could evolve any further, Clarke stepped closer into Lexa's space as the first lines of the song filtered out over the dance floor.

Clarke looked up into Lexa's eyes with a mischievous glint in her own and a small smile hiding in the corners of her mouth; almost as if Clarke knew what had been going through Lexa's mind only moments before as she sang along with Selena Gomez.

"Can't keep my hands to myself. No matter how hard I'm trying to. I want you all to myself. You're metaphorical gin and juice," Clarke sang, swaying in front of Lexa.

"Can't keep my hands to myself. I want it all, no, nothing else," Clarke continued, raising her arms above her head and turning a full 360 degrees in front of Lexa, who stood still as a statue, flexing her fists open and closed, and breathing sharply through her nose.

"Can't keep my hands to myself. Give me your all and nothing else. Oh, I, I want it all, I want it all; I want it all. Can't keep my hands to myself. I mean I could, but why would I want to?" Clarke sang and stopped directly in front of Lexa and looked up into bright green eyes on the last word.

Lexa stood rooted in place, watching Clarke sing and sway her hips in front of her and finally she couldn't take it anymore, and when Clarke came to a stop in front of her, she reached out and grasped Clarke's waist on either side, with only slightly shaky hands. Clarke's smile got incredibly bigger, and she stepped even closer and draped her arms over Lexa's strong shoulders and linked her hands behind Lexa's neck as she started swaying again to the music.

Lexa's throat went dry as she realized just how close Clarke was. Her lips only inches away, her crystal blue eyes shining up at Lexa with affection. When Lexa's eyes darted down to Clarke's lips, she watched as Clarke pulled her bottom lip under her top teeth and felt Clarke's hands tighten briefly behind her neck. Lexa forced her eyes back up to Clarke's and sucked in a sharp breath at the sudden darkening of desire she now saw in them. She felt her heart rate quicken, and her hands involuntarily gripped the blonde's waist tighter and pulled her even closer. They weren't quite flush together, but Lexa could feel the heat radiating off of Clarke in waves.

They continued to move as the song came to an end, and Lexa could feel herself leaning into Clarke, the pull of her irresistible and Lexa didn't feel as though she had the strength or the desire left to fight it. She could do this. She would do this and tomorrow, or even later tonight or hell, in the next five minutes, she would share her story with Clarke. As they slowly closed the gap between them, Lexa thought, tomorrow, definitely tomorrow. Lexa could feel the soft puff of Clarke's breath against her lips, and her eyes fluttered closed, only to snap open a fraction of a second later as she heard "Griffin!" shouted from only a couple feet away. Lexa felt Clarke jerk in her arms and pull back to look in the direction of the call. Lexa cursed inwardly but felt simultaneously relieved. She did want to talk to Clarke before anything happened, she just couldn't seem to make her body behave when she was in the presence of the intoxicating blonde.

Lexa dropped her hands from Clarke's hips as though they were on fire just as Raven and Anya stopped beside them. Lexa didn't miss the raised eyebrow Anya shot her way, nor the subtle smirk that graced her lips. Lexa sent a brief glare her way before focusing on the somewhat drunk Raven, waving a phone in front of Clarke's nose.

"Clarke!" Raven yelled again.

"I'm right in front of you, Rae," Clarke laughed, eyes tracking the phone Raven was waving through the air. "Is that my phone?" she asked, pointing to Raven's hand.

"Yes!" Raven yelled, waving the phone again. "Mine died, and I needed it to take more pictures, and,"

"Of course you did," Clarke interrupted and laughed again making a grab for the phone as it passed in front of her again. She managed to snag it and wrestle it out of Raven's grasp. Clarke looked at the screen and her brow creased in confusion. "What?" Clarke started to say before being cut off by Raven.

"That's what I'm trying to tell you, Clarke!" Raven hollered. "Who's sending you so many messages? All the important people are here!"

Anya stepped forward and pulled Raven's hands down from where they were waving around indicating the group of friends. "Just let her look, Rae," Anya calmly said.

Clarke looked up. "You didn't look?" she asked Raven.

"Nope," the Latino beauty replied, popping the p. "I brought it right over to you; I thought it might be an emergency or something."

Clarke grimaced and started walking back to the tables held by their group as she opened the first text message.

Mom: Clarke, call me, please.

"It's my mom," Clarke said as she looked up, "all of the text messages are from her. Clarke scrolled down to the next message.

Mom: Clarke, I need you to call me.

Mom: Where are you?

Mom: I've tried to call you, you're not answering your phone.

Mom: Clarke, it's important. Please, call me.

The next few went on in the same vein, but then the colour drained from Clarke's face as she read the next one.

Mom: I don't want to do this over the phone, please call me.

"You don't want to do what, Mom?" Clarke whispered, as she quickly scanned the last of the text messages and then opened her voice mail with shaky fingers. Lexa, Anya, and Raven all stood watching Clarke with varying degrees of concern on their faces.

Clarke listened to the first three phone messages, all of which were similar to the text messages, and then she pressed play on the second to last one. As she listened to her mother's voice, Clarke could feel her breath coming in shallow gasps, and her knees started to shake. She clamped her fingers around her phone case so hard her knuckles turned white. She shook her head back and forth as she listened, muttering a soft "no, no, no," over and again as the message came to a close. Clarke lowered the phone mechanically, her eyes glazed and lost. She took a step backward and stumbled and fell into the side of the table, knocking over the few beer bottles that remained from their last round. Anya was closest and reached out to steady her, but Clarke had already pushed herself off the table with one hand, the other held her phone, dangling uselessly at the end of her fingertips.

"Clarke?" Raven asked, hesitantly. "What's going on?"

Clarke turned blank eyes on her friend and opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Clarke shook her head and let the phone drop to the floor before pushing past the small group of friends and rushing across the dance floor and down the stairs.

The three women stared after her for a moment before Anya reached down and picked up the discarded phone and handed it to Raven who looked at it stupidly, trying to figure out what was going on.

Lexa struggled with giving Clarke some space or going after her, but she noticed Clarke had left without her jacket, which meant she had no keys to her car, so figured she wouldn't or couldn't go far. As much as Lexa wanted to go after Clarke, Lexa wanted, no, needed to know what she would be facing when she found Clarke. She had to have some idea what had just happened before she took off blindly after the blonde.

Raven pressed play on the voice mail and held it up to her ear to hear Abby speaking in a strained voice.

'Clarke? Clarke, honey, I need you to call me as soon as you get this, okay. Listen, I didn't want to have to tell you this by voice mail; I tried hard to get in touch with you.' Raven could hear Abby take a deep breath before breathing out and forcing herself to continue. 'Clarke, your Dad's been in an accident at the lab, an explosion or something, I didn't get many details. Only that they had airlifted him to the hospital and that he was alive when he left.' At this Raven's hand flew over her mouth, her eyes were wide as she looked over at Anya. 'I haven't heard anything else; they said they would call when they had more news. Clarke, I'm going to Florida on the next flight. I tried to get in touch with you because I knew you'd want to come, but the flight leaves in an hour, and I'm already at the airport. I'll call you when I get there. I'm so sorry, honey. I'll call you.'

Raven lowered the phone and quickly looked at the time stamp. She then realized that Abby would already be in Orlando, it only being a 2 and 1/2 hour flight from DC. She also realized that Clarke hadn't listened to the last message.

"What's going on," Anya and Lexa asked almost at the same instant. Before Raven could answer, she saw Octavia and Lincoln working their way towards them, with worried expressions on their faces. So she indicated their way and bid Lexa and Anya wait.

Once the couple had joined them, Octavia immediately piped up. "What the hell did you guys do to Clarke? She wouldn't even look at us when I called out to her as she passed us."

Raven held up the phone. "Her dad's been hurt. There was an explosion at the lab in Orlando. Her mom says it's bad; they airlifted him to the hospital and Abby has been trying to get a hold of Clarke so she could go with Abby to Orlando. Abby had to go without her, and Clarke has no idea how her father is doing," Raven summed up looking around at the shocked faces of the group.

"Jesus," Octavia breathed out.

Lexa stood stunned, not believing what she was hearing and was about to go after Clarke when Raven spoke up again. "She didn't listen to the last message. Should we?" Everyone nodded, and Raven hit play and cringed slightly upon hearing Abby's weary voice come through.

'Clarke, I've landed in Orlando. Your father made it to the hospital, and he is currently undergoing surgery. He has suffered blunt force trauma to his torso, most likely from the concussion effects of the explosion, but they don't know for sure. He will be in surgery for the next bit, but I will update you as soon as I am aware of anything. The next flight isn't until midmorning, and I should know more by then, either way. I will let you know as soon as your father is out of surgery and I find out more. Then if you feel you need to come, I will buy you a ticket. I love you, sweetie. Please be safe.'

Raven shared the last bit of information to the group and Lexa immediately grabbed Clarke's coat from the chair; plucked Clarke's phone nimbly from between Raven's frozen fingers and headed out to find the devastated blonde.

"Lexa?" Anya hollered after her, concerned. Anya hadn't missed the flinch from Lexa as Raven relayed Abby's last message, knowing exactly where Lexa's mind had gone in that moment.

Lexa turned around and looked at the forlorn group, then focused on Anya. She raised her chin slightly and called out, "I'll find her," before she turned on her heel and disappeared down the stairs.

The rest of the friends rounded up the last of their ragged group and informed them all of the unfolding events. It was sobering news, and the friends gathered tightly together to discuss their next course of action.

"Should we go look for her too?" Octavia asked.

"No," Anya responded. "Lexa will find her and take care of her."

"Should we go wait for her at her house, so she has some support when her mom calls?" Bellamy wondered.

"That's not a bad idea actually," Raven said, "but I don't think all of us, that might be a bit overwhelming."

Octavia, Lincoln, Anya and Raven decided that they would wait at Clarke's house. The rest of the friends made them promise to keep them informed of any news, then said their somber goodbyes and climbed into their respective Ubers and pulled away.

Anya departed with Lincoln, who, several hours earlier, had been nominated as the night's designated driver, to go pick up her things so that they could go straight to the airport if needed. Anya was still flying out in just a few hours, the potential tragedy paying no mind to flight schedules and pre-paid tickets. Anya wished she could stay, but she had been away from work for three weeks, and it was time to get back, and as much as the timing sucked, there was nothing she could do about it. Anya just hoped there was a happy ending to this and that she would get to see Lexa and Clarke before she had to leave. Raven and Octavia ordered an Uber to take them directly to Clarke's house but made Lincoln promise to drive carefully before Anya climbed into Lincoln's truck, and they pulled away. Their fragile mortality was at the forefront of all of their minds as they said their goodbyes.


Lexa tore out the doors to the club and came to a screeching halt on the sidewalk. She quickly put on her jacket and gloves while holding Clarke's coat between her knees and she thought about where to look first. Lexa decided to try the car and headed to the parking lot. She could see Clarke's blue Civic from across the lot, but no sign of the distraught blonde. Lexa quickly strode the rest of the distance to the car and walked around it slowly, looking for any clue as to where Clarke may be. The only thing that gave any indication that Clarke may have been there at all was a small handprint pressed messily into the still developing frost on the driver's window. Almost as if it was slapped there in frustration. Lexa turned away from the car and zipped her coat up to her chin. A flare of real concern for the blonde settled in her gut as she realized how bitterly cold it was outside and that Clarke was wandering around with no jacket at all. Lexa ran out of the parking lot and back onto the sidewalk, clutching Clarke's coat and purse in her hand tightly, looking in both directions hoping for some inspiration to hit.

She decided to head towards Clarke's house, hoping that Clarke had headed for home. Lexa took off at a fast jog, navigating the icy sidewalks as carefully as she could while still maintaining speed. Lexa had gone about three blocks before she saw a crumpled form shivering on a bus stop bench. Lexa slowed, knowing before she could see the person huddled there that it was Clarke. As Lexa approached she could see Clarke's shoulders shaking, her head bowed and her hair cascaded forward, hiding her face.

Lexa walked up to Clarke softly and around behind her, carefully draping Clarke's coat over the frigid woman's shoulders. Lexa left her hand on Clarke's shoulder as she walked around and sat gingerly beside the silent blonde.

Lexa didn't say anything, just sat quietly, letting Clarke know by her proximity that she was there for her. Clarke didn't acknowledge Lexa's presence for many minutes, but then she turned into her suddenly and sobbed against her chest, clutching at Lexa's jacket. Over the course of the next moments, Clarke managed to work her way onto Lexa's lap, her face buried in the crook of her neck, still grasping her jacket tightly, and it was there that she remained. Lexa had wrapped her up with her left arm, pulling Clarke's coat tightly around her while her right hand alternated between rubbing soothing circles on her back and stroking her hair softly. They had been sitting like that for over an hour, Lexa holding Clarke gently as she cried out her fear. Lexa held her tenderly, stroking her hair and whispering things in her ear that were meant to be comforting and soothing more than anything else. When Clarke's tears finally started to slow, and the sobs that shook her body had faded to the occasional hiccup, she slowly peeled herself away from Lexa, visibly embarrassed by the copious amount of tears and snot on Lexa's jacket.

Clarke didn't look at Lexa as she removed herself from the other girl's lap, wiping at her face and nose, and keeping her head down as she mumbled a soft "Sorry," while she pulled her arms through her jacket and zipped it up.

Lexa let her go, immediately missing the warmth while simultaneously ignoring the kink in her back from sitting in one place for too long and just watched Clarke carefully.

Clarke was still avoiding Lexa's gaze, but with the continued silence she finally glanced up at her.

"Does...does everyone know?" Clarke asked quietly, glancing back down at her hands and twining her fingers together in a constantly agitated motion.

Lexa nodded, not taking her eyes from Clarke. "Yes, Raven listened to your mom's message after you left and told us all know what happened."

"I'm scared, Lex," Clarke admitted with a hitch in her breath.

Lexa nodded again and reached out to squeeze Clarke's hand. She could feel the chill of Clarke's skin, so she peeled off her gloves and passed them to Clarke who looked at Lexa shyly before pulling them over her cold fingers, relishing in the residual body heat left behind by Lexa's hands.

"I know, Clarke," Lexa comforted, once Clarke had fully pulled on the gloves. "And it's okay to be scared. You didn't listen to the last message, but your mom said that your dad made it to the hospital and that he was in surgery. Abby said she would call you as soon as she hears anything, and that if you want to fly out to Orlando, she'll get you a ticket for the next available flight."

"She left without me," Clarke suddenly blurted out, staring at her hands. "What if Dad dies? She left me here, and I won't get to say goodbye to him," Clarke clenched her hands into fists and was working her way into full-blown anger. Lexa recognized it and knew that she had to try to defuse the situation before Clarke started laying blame on everyone else before ultimately placing it squarely on herself.

Lexa reached over and tentatively took Clarke's balled up fist between both of hers, and gently rubbed against the back of her hand and down her tightly curled fingers. "Clarke, listen to me. You know your mom tried to find you to take you with her. It isn't her fault that she couldn't get a hold of you."

"No," Clarke spat, abruptly turning the blame on herself, "It's mine, for going out in the first place. Mine for not having my phone on me because I was more focused on," Clarke glanced at Lexa quickly and away again. "Other things," she continued. "If I had my phone on me, I would've gotten her call or text. I'd be in Orlando with her and Dad right now."

"Clarke," Lexa tried again, still rubbing Clarke's fist with both of hers trying to get her fingers to uncurl, surprised at how fast Clarke shouldered the blame. Lexa thought quickly about what to say to try to soothe the guilt she could see building in the woman before her. "While that might be true; you may have gotten the text, you may be in Orlando right now, but it wouldn't change anything about your dad."

"What do you mean?" Clarke asked eyes wide, voice rising.

"Clarke, your Dad was already in surgery when your mom got there," Lexa tried to reason with the agitated blonde. "She'll know when he gets out and will update you. None of that would change if you were there right now. The outcome won't change if you were there," Lexa softly said, trying to get Clarke to understand. "I will personally make sure you are on the next flight to Orlando so that you're there for your mom," Lexa paused, "and hopefully your dad when he wakes up."

Clarke looked at Lexa with tears welling in her eyes. "What if...what if he doesn't wake up?" Clarke asked, tears rolling down her face.

Lexa looked at Clarke with understanding and squeezed her hand before saying, "Then I and the rest of your friends and your mom will be there to support you."

Clarke nodded and gave Lexa a shaky smile after releasing a deep breath.

"Ready to go home?" Lexa asked softly. "Your friends are worried and are there waiting for you."

"All of them?" Clarke asked in a small voice.

"No. Just Raven, Octavia, Lincoln, and Anya," Lexa informed her. "The rest went home under protest and only after we gave them our word that they would be updated as soon as we found you. Speaking of which, do you want to send them all a quick message and let them know we're on the way?" Lexa softly said, pulling Clarke's phone out of her pocket and handing it to the subdued blonde.

Clarke nodded and reached out for the phone, opened her app and sent a group message out.

To the Delinquents:

Clarke: I'm on my way home.

Messages started pouring in right away.

O: Oh thank god! Clarke, are you okay?

Rae: I knew Lexa would find you.

Anya: Drive safe, we'll see you in a few.

Clarke: See you soon.

More messages poured in from the rest of the group all expressing their relief that Clarke was okay and offering their support if needed. Clarke ignored the rest and put her phone back in her pocket, already exhausted dealing with her worried friends.

Lexa stood and offered her hand to Clarke who accepted it, and Lexa pulled her gently from the bench. The two women made their way to the car, and Lexa offered to drive so Clarke gave up the keys and Lexa opened the passenger door for Clarke before scampering around to the driver side and scooting in. She started the ignition and blasted the heat and the window defroster before jumping out again to scrape off the light frost that had formed on the windows, and then jumped back in.

They waited in a comfortable silence for the window to defog enough to drive, each lost in their thoughts before Lexa finally broke the silence.

"Why were you sitting at the bus stop?" Lexa softly asked.

Clarke grimaced, "I came out to the car, but realized I left my keys...well, everything, so I just started walking. By the time I hit that bench, I was freezing, so I was going to take the bus. One bus came by, but the driver wouldn't let me on because I had no money. Then I just couldn't find it in me to move," Clarke said looking directly at Lexa. "You showed up only a few minutes later. Thank you for coming for me," Clarke finished quietly after a brief pause.

Lexa looked at Clarke carefully in silence for a moment before she whispered almost inaudibly, "Always." Lexa turned abruptly and faced the front window, trying to ignore the stunned look on the blonde's face as she tried to process what Lexa had just said. While she sat there watching the fogged portion of the window start to shrink around the edges slowly, Lexa made a decision.

Lexa took a deep, steadying breath and turned to Clarke, who was looking at her hands and sniffing quietly, while the odd tear escaped her already slightly puffy eyes.

"Clarke?" Lexa asked quietly, looking directly at the blonde.

Clarke looked up to find Lexa staring at her intently. Lexa's eyes bored into her like they were looking through to her very soul. Clarke saw a gamut of emotions flow across the brunette's face when their eyes met, but what she saw the most was understanding.

Lexa knew that she was allowing her guard down, and was letting Clarke see her true inner self, but she didn't care. She could see the knowledge of that truth reflected in Clarke's eyes, and she too saw understanding shine back at her. There was something else there too, something she hadn't seen from anyone in a very long time, but Lexa couldn't bring herself to think too hard about it at the moment, too lost in the dark blue of the eyes in front of her.

In all the ways Lexa pictured having this conversation with Clarke never did she ever imagine that it would occur under these circumstances. Lexa had never been much of a believer in fate, but she had been re-examining that belief lately, and this whole incident just seemed to drive home that maybe fate was playing more a role in her life than she wanted to believe. As Lexa continued to search Clarke's face she could feel the air thicken between them, so Lexa finally broke eye contact and cleared her throat.

"Do you believe in fate, Clarke?" Lexa asked, looking away from Clarke and out at the street.

"What?" Clarke asked sitting further upright and sniffing.

Lexa turned to face Clarke again. "Fate. Do you believe that things happen for a reason? That you are on this Earth for a reason? That you meet certain people for a reason?" Lexa clarified, looking carefully once again at the blonde.

Clarke furrowed her brow and shook her head before saying slowly, "I…I don't know. I guess I haven't given it much thought before. Why?"

"I didn't use to think much about it either. Then a few years ago I did, and when I did, I often thought if it did exist it was a bitch," Lexa said, before continuing more quietly, "lately though I'm not so sure."

Clarke wiped her nose on her sleeve and looked up at Lexa. "What do you mean? Have you been thinking about it more lately?"

"Yes," Lexa replied softly, raising her eyes to meet Clarke's. "Ever since I met you."

Clarke's breath hitched in her throat, and she widened her eyes in surprise as she asked, "Why? Why would meeting me make you think more about fate?"

"I'm beginning to think," Lexa continued slowly, thinking carefully before speaking again, "that maybe everything that has happened in my life, especially in the last few years, has happened so that I would, or could, meet you. After tonight, it seems to be so much clearer," Lexa said, looking into Clarke's shining blue eyes. "That everything has all led to this moment; so that I would be here for you, to support you now if you need it," Lexa offered quietly.

Clarke was completely floored. She knew how guarded Lexa was; they had never spoken directly of her past, or why she lived with her uncle. There had been brief discussions of her time spent at UW before her transfer to GWU, but not the reason behind the move. Clarke didn't press her for information, their friendship still in the fledgling stages, and she didn't want to push the other girl away. For Lexa to reveal that she now believed that she was here to help Clarke was surreal, especially because she didn't understand why.

"Oh," was all she said. She still didn't want to push the other woman, so she sat quietly and waited.

Lexa looked at Clarke, thinking that this woman was the only person she had ever met that didn't push her for explanations, and she knew that Clarke wouldn't pity her either, she would just know and understand. She suddenly felt the need to share her story with the incredible blonde in front of her, because she felt it was right, but also so Clarke might understand, well, everything. So she stated quietly, "I feel like I can support you through this because I have been through it myself."

Chapter Text


 

She suddenly felt the need to share her story with the incredible blonde in front of her, because she felt it was right, but also so Clarke might understand, well, everything. So she stated quietly, “I feel like I can support you through this because I have been through it myself.”

 

 

Lexa glanced at Clarke and caught her initial surprise, but then saw nothing but understanding and compassion in her eyes, so she continued.

 

“Two years ago, I lost both my parents and my girlfriend Cos…Costia,” she forced out tightly, “they were on their way to one of my hockey games when a drunk driver hit them head-on.”

 

She felt more than heard Clarke’s quick intake of breath, and she felt the other girl squeeze her arm slightly, but otherwise, she remained silent.

 

Lexa took a deep breath and continued in a tight, quiet voice, full of pain. “I was so focused on the game that I didn’t even notice that they hadn’t made it to the rink. It wasn’t until after the match was over and I was looking for them in the stands that I realized they weren’t there.  I didn’t think anything of it at the time, and I figured that they had gone to the lobby to wait.”

 

Lexa glanced at Clarke again from under her lashes before continuing. “We were in the middle of our post-game talk when an arena official came in and spoke quietly to my coach. I saw his eyes move to lock on mine, and I saw his face, the sympathy and the pity that crossed it, and I knew.  I knew right then that my life had just changed forever.”

 

Lexa couldn’t stop the single tear that tracked down her face, but she kept her head lowered and didn’t look up at Clarke, so she didn’t think the other woman saw it.

 

“A pair of police officers were waiting in the lobby, and they took me to the hospital; I still don’t know how they found me.  When I arrived at the hospital, another set of officers approached and told me about the accident and then led me to the emergency room where I was informed by a very young doctor that ‘unfortunately due to the force of the accident, my parents died on impact.’ He was very sorry for my loss,” Lexa added bitterly.

 

“When I asked about Costia, he told me he couldn’t divulge any information as she was not a family member.  They had called her parents, and they would inform them of her status when they arrived. I didn’t know if she was alive or dead, I didn’t know anything! I yelled at him and told him she was my girlfriend. I was so angry and felt so helpless. All he said was that he was sorry, and I had to wait for the arrival of her parents.” Lexa’s voice broke slightly at the end, but she recovered quickly and continued.

 

“Costia’s parents arrived soon after, but it felt like years.  They saw me and ran to hug me asking a million questions, for most, I had no answers.  I told them about the accident and my parents. I had absorbed that loss and accepted their condolences. I was in a state of shock, I think, the fact that Costia may still be alive the only thing keeping me going. Then they asked about Costia, and I had to inform them that I didn’t know because the hospital staff refused to tell me anything.  It was right about that time that the doctor who had spoken to me came back, and Costia’s parents immediately asked about their daughter.  The doctor looked at me and then back to them as if to ask if it was ok for me to be there.  Costia’s mom just about lost her mind, telling him that I had every right to know what is going on. So he took a deep breath and said that Costia had made it to the hospital alive and had gone in for immediate surgery.”

 

Lexa hastily wiped at her cheeks and took a deep breath and got her voice under control before she continued.

 

“For a brief, so brief, a moment I thought she would be okay. Costia was alive. She was in surgery. She would be okay. Then the doctor opened his mouth again, and that hope was ripped away from me with three short words, ‘I’m so sorry.'  I didn’t hear the rest of what he said, and I never asked.  I stumbled backward until my knees hit a chair and I collapsed on it. I heard Costia’s mom wailing, and I saw her clinging to her husband. I remember saying nothing; I was numb. I had lost everything, everyone I cared about in one foul swoop."

 

Lexa turned finally to look at Clarke, tears streaming down her face. “I fell apart, Clarke.  I didn’t know what to do. I was a 20-year-old orphan who had also lost the only person outside of my parents who had ever loved me, and whom I had loved so, so much. I was an only child, so my parents left me everything. The house, the cars, my father’s business, but I didn’t know what to do; I didn’t want any of it, I just wanted them all back. I stayed in my house for weeks after the funeral, not speaking to or seeing anyone. I barely remembered to eat; I was surviving - barely, and that was all. I felt like I was living with ghosts, I couldn’t go anywhere in my home without seeing my parents. I was afraid to go anywhere in Seattle in case I ran into mine and Costia’s friends, and I didn’t want to see the places we hung out. My Uncle Gustus had been staying with me since the funeral, and it was he that finally got me moving again.  He suggested either selling the house or putting it up for rent and coming back to DC to live with him and Lincoln.  They had been alone for a few years since my Aunt Indra passed, so they too knew what I was going through, to some extent.  He took me to UW and organized a deferral of my program with the potential for transfer to GWU if that was what I felt I needed to do." Lexa took a breath a paused for a moment before continuing.

 

"I decided to rent out the house, and Gustus hired a landlord to look after all the particulars. I left instructions with the acting CEO of my dad’s company; while I now owned the majority of shares, I would defer to the board and their decisions until I finished my business degree, as long as they continued running the company the way my father would have wanted. I left everything I ever knew behind, and I moved here.”

Lexa was still looking at Clarke, who was sitting quietly, her hand still on Lexa’s arm, looking down at her feet, tears silently rolling down her face. 

 

When Lexa stopped talking, Clarke looked up, and Lexa saw the tears streaking down Clarke’s cheeks. Lexa reached up hesitantly with the hand not currently under Clarke’s and wiped the tears away with her thumb. Clarke couldn’t stop herself from closing her eyes and leaning into the touch slightly while she slid her free hand down Lexa’s arm until she found her hand, and entwined their fingers together, both girl’s hands tingling at the touch.

 

"That's why you didn't go to the National Team training camp," Clarke said with certainty, thinking back to the discussion they had had at the Dropship a few weeks ago.

 

Lexa nodded once and sighed, looking away. Clarke didn't say anything else. She remained silent, but squeezed Lexa’s hand gently, encouraging her to continue.

 

Lexa gently squeezed back and picked up her narrative. “I was here for a year and a half before I decided to stay.  I arranged to transfer my credits to GWU and to start my studies at the beginning of the next term.  I left UW in the middle of my third year, so I was able to pick up where I left off.  Gustus had been trying to convince me to play hockey for his team, but I wasn’t yet ready to be anywhere near a rink again, so I kept making excuses. Then the Arkers beat them in the finals last fall, and Gustus kept going on and on about how he didn’t know if they could ever beat them. He kept talking about this one girl, Clarke Griffin…” at this Lexa smiled softly at Clarke before continuing.

 

“I was intrigued enough to tell Gustus that I would play the following season," Lexa swallowed and snuck another peak at Clarke from beneath her lashes before she softly continued. "If I'm honest, in retrospect, you were the reason I decided to play."

 

Clarke jerked in surprise and looked at Lexa with wide eyes. "Me?"

 

Lexa nodded, "Gustus kept talking about you and your team, but there was something that stuck with me from the first time I heard your name. I didn't realize it was about you at the time; it was more like a niggle in the back of my mind, of something I should remember. Have you ever felt that way?"

 

Clarke looked at Lexa, eyes still wide and nodded in awed affirmation.

 

"Every time your name came up, the feeling that I should play got stronger. The feeling I have now, about it being about you is only something I have been able to piece together since meeting you. At the time, I thought it was just about helping my Uncle finally beat the infamous Arkers," Lexa paused and gave Clarke a lopsided half-smile that made Clarke's heart beat painfully in her chest, and she was powerless to stop her hand from clenching around Lexa's slender fingers in response.

 

Lexa shifted slightly, to bring her a bit closer to Clarke. "Gustus was ecstatic when I finally agreed, and as the season drew closer, I started to get excited as well, but there was still a part of me that felt guilty about going back to hockey. Gustus finally convinced me that my parents and Costia wouldn’t have wanted me to give up something I loved, and I love hockey, and I missed it. So, the season started, and we went through the first half undefeated, but it didn't feel like I thought it would. I had been excited and was looking forward to playing again, but it felt incomplete like there was a piece missing, and I was at a loss to explain it. For a while, I thought it was because I was still hanging onto some guilt about playing again, but I know now that that is not what it was." Lexa tilted her head up to catch Clarke's eyes, which were staring intently back at her.

 

"On top of everything," she continued with a wry grin, "I kept hearing about the Arkers and how they were cruising through the season undefeated as well. My curiosity got the better of me, and I went and watched your game against the Ice Nation. I saw your team play. But I don’t think that game prepared me for what to expect from you or your team because it was completely different facing you on the ice,” Lexa added succinctly. She left out that she couldn't take her eyes off the blonde centerman who so often dominated the play, and who so obviously and exceptionally led her team on the ice.

 

Clarke’s eyes widened slightly at the mention of the Ice Nation game. Clarke remembered that game; it was rough, and the Ice Nation girls played dirty, as usual.  Octavia had been tossed from the match on a game misconduct for fighting. Raven had to be held back from a fight as well when Clarke had been cross-checked heavily into the boards; her neck had hurt for a week.  The Arkers had managed to squeak out a win, but it wasn’t pretty.

 

“So,” Lexa continued with a shrug, “fate. I would never have met you if I hadn’t moved to DC and decided to play hockey again.  I would have never have moved to DC if tragedy hadn’t upended my life. If tragedy hadn’t hit me the way it did, I wouldn’t understand what you are going through or know how to help support you as things play out with your Dad…if you’ll let me,” she finished shyly looking down.

 

Clarke was staring at Lexa, her eyes shining.  Lexa looked back at Clarke and could see her own eyes reflected back in Clarke’s blue ones. Clarke took a deep shuddering breath before she untangled her hand from Lexa’s and exited the car in silence. Lexa was devastated. Had she said too much, made too bold an assumption? Had she ruined everything she and Clarke had been building over the past few weeks? She lowered her head again, fighting back the tears that threatened to overflow.  She was about to open the car door to apologize to Clarke when the door opened on its own as she reached for the handle. Lexa raised her head fractionally to see Clarke standing in front of the now open door, and froze.

 

“Lexa,” Clarke said huskily, her voice raw.

 

Lexa shivered at the way Clarke said her name and she looked up further to see the blond standing with her hand outstretched. Clarke had removed Lexa's glove, and relief flowed through Lexa's body as she reached up and grasped Clarke’s now ungloved hand, surprised at how warm it was, less surprised by the electric tingle that shot up her arm at the contact. It was something she was getting used to when the blond touched her, but something of which she would never tire.

 

Clarke helped her to her feet, and the two girls stood and stared at each other for the space of several heartbeats before Clarke quickly pulled Lexa towards her and wrapped her up in a bone crushing hug.

 

“Thank you,” Clarke whispered softly in her ear, squeezing the slightly taller woman even tighter. Clarke was overwhelmed by the trust Lexa had just placed in her, the vulnerability she so openly shared with her, the raw emotion that Lexa’s story evoked and the glimmer of hope that came along with it.

 

Lexa was so surprised by the gesture that she couldn’t move for a moment, she stood with her arms hanging stiffly by her sides, but as soon as Clarke whispered in her ear, her arms came up, and she gently hugged the girl back.  She embraced Clarke like she was a rare piece of porcelain that would shatter into a million pieces with too much force. She hugged her like Clarke was the most precious thing in the universe; it hit Lexa then that she just might be.

 

The two women stood by the open car door for long moments just hugging each other in silent support and understanding. The longer the hug went on, the more comfortable Lexa felt, and she gradually hugged the girl in her arms tighter. Lexa didn’t know how long they stayed like that, and when she felt Clarke start to shiver, she forced herself to pull away from her, keeping her hands on Clarke’s hips.

 

“We should go,” Lexa said reluctantly, looking at Clarke.  She could still see the fear Clarke harbored for her father dancing in her eyes and the potential emptiness just behind that fear, an emptiness that could be staved off or that Clarke could fall into entirely if things went badly.  She recognized it all too well, but she thought she might also see something like hope lurking in the blue depths as well.

 

Clarke looked back at Lexa, memorizing her face, the angle of her cheekbones as the light of the street lamp hit them and the firm line of her jaw.  The mouth that smiled so rarely, but when she did, lit up her whole face like a ray of sunshine. The beautiful, piercing green eyes that were so full of compassion and understanding that they made Clarke’s heartache. She wanted to memorize this moment in time, the moment the woman in front of her offered to help her, wanting nothing in return.  Her eyes roamed Lexa’s face and flickered to her lips more than once.

 

Lexa allowed the scrutiny, not sure what was causing the blonde’s inspection, but willing to let Clarke do whatever she needed at this moment.  Lexa was beginning to think she would always let Clarke do whatever she wanted to, and the thought didn’t scare her as much as she thought it should.  Lexa noticed Clarke’s gaze flick to her lips quickly and away more than once and realized how close they were standing to each other, with Lexa’s hands still on Clarke’s hips. She decided it would be a good idea to get moving.

 

She cleared her throat quietly, which seemed to bring Clarke back to her senses. Clarke gave Lexa a small, soft smile before she reached up with her right hand and pulled Lexa’s head closer so that she could rest her forehead on Lexa’s. Lexa sighed into the touch, pressing into Clarke.

 

Clarke left her hand on the back of Lexa’s neck, rubbing her thumb under her ear softly. Both women had their eyes closed, and Lexa could feel the soft puffs of breath coming from Clarke’s mouth.

 

Clarke squeezed the back of Lexa’s neck gently and pressed her forehead a bit more firmly against the taller woman’s before whispering a second, “Thank you.”

 

Lexa nodded against Clarke, their foreheads rubbing gently against each other. Clarke was sorely tempted to kiss Lexa right then and there, but the time wasn't right. Lexa had bared her soul to Clarke, and Clarke herself was currently not in the best place. When they kissed, and Clarke was sure that they would, she wanted it to be perfect - no regrets, no grief, nothing else between them but the need and the want that sometimes seemed to overwhelm Clarke when she was around Lexa. Clarke had been nothing but patient, not knowing what it was that kept Lexa so guarded, but respecting her unspoken boundaries nonetheless.  Now she knew the reason, and everything now made sense. Lexa was offering to help Clarke, no matter what happened, and there was something within Clarke, an undefined feeling that connected her to the green eyed beauty before her. The feeling was just on the edge of her subconscious, but with everything else going on, it was elusive and ephemeral, and she let it go for the time being. Clarke pulled away, and when Lexa opened her eyes and lifted her head, Clarke leaned in a placed a chaste kiss on Lexa’s cheek.

 

Lexa’s eyes widened slightly, but Clarke had already turned within Lexa’s loose grasp of her hips, reaching out and snagging Lexa’s retreating hand with her own.  She entwined their fingers once again and squeezed, and Clarke stepped away from Lexa and out from the shelter of the open door before releasing Lexa's hand and moving back around the front of the car to return to her passenger seat. Lexa quickly jumped back into the driver's side and closed the door.

 

"I think we lost all the heat we may have accumulated before getting out of the car," Clarke sheepishly said, not looking at Lexa.

 

Lexa turned to her and offered, "it's still warmer in here than out there, and it won't take long to warm it up again. At least the windows have defrosted. Are you ready to go?"

 

Clarke didn't answer immediately, and Lexa sat in patient silence watching her.

 

Clarke felt the scrutiny and offered quietly, without looking at the other woman, “It’s going to be okay, right? I’m going to be okay?”

 

Lexa gave her hand a gentle squeeze before responding. "You will…” she paused thinking about her next words and pushed them out before she could lose her nerve, “and no matter what happens, I will be there whenever you need me,” she finished softly.

 

Clarke said nothing but gave an answering squeeze, and Lexa withdrew her hand, put the car in drive and pulled out of the parking lot.

 


 

 

They had been traveling in a comfortable silence for several minutes before Clarke nodded silently and took a deep breath when the car had come to a stop at a red light. "Lexa?" she whispered, looking down at her hands, one nervously picking at a loose thread on her pants, the other, which had managed to find its way back into Lexa’s, was laying loosely in Lexa’s palm.

 

"Yes?" Lexa answered only slightly louder.

 

"I know...I know it's asking a lot, and you can totally say 'no,' I'd understand, but," Clarke paused and brought her watery blue gaze to meet Lexa's in the dark early morning hours of the car. "But, do you think...do you think you could come with me? To Orlando?"

 

Lexa's eyes widened in surprise, and she jerked back slightly in her seat in response to the question and involuntarily squeezed Clarke's hand that she was holding a bit too tight. She noticed Clarke's slight grimace and quickly released the blonde's hand, apologizing.

 

"God, I'm sorry, Clarke," Lexa said.

 

"No, I'm sorry," Clarke said immediately. "I was out of line, I should never have asked you to do that, you barely know me, and you shared something huge with me, and now I'm asking you to relive it, and,"

 

"Clarke," Lexa interrupted the blonde's rambling. When Clarke finally raised her eyes to look at Lexa's, the brunette gently took Clarke's hand in her own again and softly said, "Yes."

 

"What?" Clarke asked confused.

 

"I said, yes," Lexa confirmed. She wasn't sure what she was doing, or how she'd get through it, but if Clarke needed her, she'd do it. She would do anything. "If you want me there, then I'll be there," Lexa finished softly.

 

"Yes?" Clarke said in wonder.

 

"Yes," Lexa repeated firmly, giving Clarke's hand another squeeze just as the light turned green again.

 

They drove the rest of the way to Clarke's in silence, and it wasn't long before Lexa was pulling into Clarke's driveway.

 

Only moments after shutting off the engine, Raven and Octavia poured out the front door and engulfed Clarke in a tangle of arms and kisses with muttered, "Are you okay's?", "I'm so glad Lexa found you's," and "Don't ever scare us like that again's."

 

Clarke hugged them back, while Lexa stood on the doorstep with Anya and watched.

 

"That took a while," Anya whispered. "How did you find her?"

 

"I found her fairly quickly, actually," Lexa whispered back. "I just spent a long time holding her while she cried and then I told her...everything."

 

Anya looked at Lexa with apparent surprise before slinging an arm around Lexa's shoulder and pulling her friend into a side hug. "I'm proud of you," she said as she placed a kiss on Lexa's temple.

 

Lexa shrugged. "I had to," she continued to whisper as she watched the three women start to untangle themselves from each other. "I wanted her to know anyway, and it seemed like all the events of my life in the last few years have been leading me to this moment, and if my story helps her, then..." Lexa looked at Anya and gave her a soft smile, "If I look back at it objectively, it all brings me here, to her."

 

Anya turned to scrutinize Lexa as the brunette watched the three friends begin their walk up the driveway. "Does that mean you're ready to start something with Clarke?" Anya asked quietly.

 

Lexa shook her head, "I don't know," she sighed. "I just opened up more to her than I have to anybody, you included, in over two years. I'm scared, Anya," Lexa said. "Clarke understands, I know she does. I know she gets why I'm hesitant, and I know that what I shared with her has answered many of her unasked questions. I'm just so fucking scared. I don't want to lose her and..."

 

"Don't want to lose who?" Raven interrupted as she swooped up beside them on the porch. Clarke, and Octavia a few steps behind.

 

Anya shot Raven a glare out of the side of her eye and pinched her in the side which made Raven jump, and she swatted Anya on the shoulder. "Ahhh! What the hell, Anya!" Raven yelled, completely missing the grateful look Lexa threw at Anya as Lexa ducked inside the house followed by a quietly amused Octavia, and a somber Clarke.

 

Anya just glared again at Raven and shook her head at the annoyed brunette and whispered, "Drop it," before placing a soft kiss on Raven's cheek.

 

"Fine," Raven grumbled, "but only if you smooch me again."

 

Anya grinned and grabbed Raven by the belt loops and pulled Raven flush against her body, before releasing her hip with her right hand and reaching up and around the back of Raven's neck and pulling her in for a kiss which quickly became heated.

 

Raven pulled back when oxygen became necessary, and husked out, "What time do you have to be at the airport?"

 

"My flight leaves at 7:00, so I want to leave around five a.m. Why?" Anya whispered, chasing Raven's mouth once more.

 

Raven dodged Anya's seeking lips and looked at her watch. "It's just before three now. That's two hours. Think we could sneak away for a bit?"

 

"Raven," Anya exclaimed. "Your best friend just found out that her Dad has been terribly injured in an accident and doesn't know if he'll survive the night! How can you think about that?"

 

"Oh, please. Don't tell me you aren't thinking about it too," Raven admonished, interrupting. "But honestly, it's all I can think about, and I need to not think about it," Raven softly continued, looking towards the closed door of the house. She glanced back at Anya and lowered her head, "The Griffins are my family, Anya. I never knew my dad, and my mom's a drunk who couldn't possibly care less about me. I’ve spent more time in this house, with this family, than I ever have at my own. I practically lived here in high school, and Abby and Jake took me in and never asked any questions when I showed up late and stayed for days, and Clarke, well, Clarke is Clarke." Raven said as if that should explain it all and shrugged and huffed out a long sigh, watching as the heat of her breath condensed in the cold air of the morning. "I don't know what I'll do if Jake dies, Anya. I.ve always prided myself on being strong and unaffected by the shit in my life, but if Jake dies...he's like my father too," she finished quietly.

 

Anya reached out and hugged Raven tightly, understanding the other woman's need to distract herself from the thoughts flying around her mind. She had been there too, several years ago when Lexa's life came crashing down around them both. Anya had viewed Lexa's parents as her own as well so she knew what Raven was talking about.

 

Raven pulled away and tried to lighten the mood and explain herself a bit better. "And I'm not talking about taking off right now. Of course, we'll go in and check on Clarke, get her settled. I don't imagine Abby will be calling in the next couple of hours. If it's good news, she'll wait for morning, if it's bad news, well, she'll need to prepare herself for that talk with Clarke. I was thinking more along the lines of when Clarke falls asleep," Raven finished sheepishly.

 

Anya shook her head, "You think she'll sleep?" she asked.

 

"Probably not, but who knows," Raven said, turning to enter the house, pulling Anya along behind her.

 


 

 

Clarke did sleep, fitfully, curled up next to Lexa on the couch. She had started sitting next to Lexa, lost in her thoughts, as the others chatted quietly around her. Before long, she had shifted down so that her head rested on Lexa's shoulder and it wasn't long after that that Clarke's eyes fluttered closed and her breathing deepened, emotionally exhausted from the events of the evening. Anya was the first to notice the slumbering blonde and indicated with her chin to alert Lexa, who shifted slightly to maneuver Clarke down so that her head was in Lexa's lap. Clarke's eyelids fluttered, and she whined softly in protest but dropped off again quickly once settled in a more prone position.

 

Octavia and Lincoln were sound asleep on the second couch, spooned together with Lincoln in behind the petite brunette, his arm wrapped protectively around her middle. Anya and Raven had grabbed some cushions off the sofa and made themselves comfortable in front of the love seat and had been talking quietly amongst themselves and with Lexa until Clarke had nodded off. Once Lexa had Clarke situated comfortably in her lap, Raven stood, grabbed Anya's hand and pulled her to her feet.

 

Raven shot a concerned glance at Clarke and then whispered to Lexa. "Let us know if you hear anything," before pulling Anya out of the room. Lexa shot Anya an amused look, and the older woman just shrugged and gave Lexa a sheepish grin as she followed along behind the insistent brunette.

 

Lexa sat in the quiet of the Griffin's living room, watching the sleeping blonde in her lap. Her mind replayed the whole evening, and she found herself wondering how so much could happen in such a short span of time. She felt Clarke stir against her and glanced down to see a small frown creasing the smoothness between the blonde's brows, and instinctively reached out and ran her thumb along one brow, trying to soothe the frown away. Clarke shifted again and rolled onto her other side, burying her face in the fabric of Lexa's shirt, and Lexa could feel the press of Clarke's nose against her abdomen and the heat of Clarke's breath through the light material of her shirt. It made her breath hitch and her heart race, and she had to close her eyes for a moment to bring her rapidly beating heart under control. She had lifted her hands to allow Clarke to reposition herself, and then lowered them gently once Clarke had settled. Lexa let her left hand fall to Clarke's shoulder and her right she allowed to fall to the crown of Clarke's head, marveling at the silkiness of the blonde waves beneath her hand. Without conscious thought, Lexa began to run her fingers through Clarke's golden curls like it was the most natural thing in the world. As Lexa continued with the repetitive, soothing motion, she leaned her head back on the couch and closed her eyes. It wasn't long before her hand stilled, still tangled in Clarke's blonde locks, and her breathing deepened to match that of the woman sleeping in her lap. That was how Raven and Anya found them when they returned to the living room an hour later.

 


 

 

Raven pulled Anya into the guest room and pushed her up against the door as soon as it closed behind them. Her mouth hungrily attacked the lips of the slightly shocked Anya who took only a fraction of a second to respond back in kind. The kiss was messy and desperate, urgent and not at all gentle, with the knocking of teeth and the biting of lips. Both women were panting when they finally pulled apart, chests heaving and eyes glazed and blown with desire.

 

Anya pulled away, breathing harshly and grasped Raven's roaming hands to still them. She looked Raven in the eyes and open and closed her mouth a few times before she managed to find her voice.

 

"I," Anya started then stopped. Sucking in another breath, God, this is so hard, she thought she continued. "I want you to know how much getting to know you these past weeks has meant to me," Anya continued. "And I want, no, I need you to know that I care about you a lot, but..."

 

"But you're leaving," Raven interrupted, finishing the sentence for her. Raven's eyes were glassy, but she kept her gaze steady.

 

Anya sucked in another deep breath and nodded, looking at Raven. "I live across the country, Raven. Like, literally, all the way across the country. It's a three-hour time difference. I can't ask you,"

 

"You can't ask me to what, Anya?" Raven interrupted again, a hard note in her voice. "I like you. A lot. If you want this," Raven waved her hand between them and the space between their bodies. "What is happening between us, to be over when you leave, then just say it; because I don't. I don't care if you're half way around the world, Anya!" Raven whispered harshly. "I don't care if I have to arrange my schedule so that I can talk to you, I want to try."

 

Anya's eyes widened as Raven spoke, and found herself speechless by the time the feisty brunette had finished. "Raven," Anya said, flabbergasted by the whispered outburst.

 

Silence settled between the two women, Anya watching Raven closely.

 

"I want you too, Rae," Anya finally said, breaking the tense silence. "I 'm just worried that it won't live up to expectations," she muttered.

 

"I don't want to talk about this now, I only have you for a few more hours, and I just want you to fuck me and let me lose myself in you for a while," Raven responded, looking directly at Anya as if daring her to refuse her.

 

Anya gave her one short nod and asked, "You're sure?"

 

Raven just sighed in frustration and captured Anya's lips and kissed her forcibly before pulling away and quirking an eyebrow. "You need to try to keep it down; we're in the furthest bedroom away from the living room, but we don't want to wake anyone up," Raven informed her.

 

In response Anya pushed herself away from the door and raised her hands slowly up Raven's sides, pushing up the material of Raven's shirt until it bunched just under the swell of her breasts. Anya paused for the briefest moment while she quickly caught Raven's eye and the almost imperceptible nod of permission before she swiftly removed Raven's top and dropped it at their feet. Anya then stepped back and made short work of both her top and her bra. Raven stood in wide-eyed wonder at the beauty before her, before reaching around behind her and undoing the clasp on her lacy red bra and letting fall off of her shoulders to join the growing pile of garments littering the floor at their feet.

 

The two women stood and openly admired one another for the space of several moments before surging forward to crash their lips together again in perfect synchronicity. Anya spun Raven so it was her back that was pushed against the door and abandoned Raven's lips to press hot, open-mouthed kisses down her neck instead, sucking hard on Raven's pulse point, determined to leave a mark that would stay with Raven long after Anya was gone. Raven moaned and sucked in a sharp breath when she felt Anya's teeth nip sharply on her collarbone, only to sigh when a soft kiss soothed the sting. Anya's hands found Raven's pert breasts and the brunette let out a throaty moan when Anya brushed her palms over her hardened, sensitive nipples, arching her back to push her chest further into Anya's skilled hands. Anya's right hand continued its downward progress after a sharp tweak of Raven's nipple, and she replaced the descending hand with her mouth, sucking hard on the bud, before circling it softly with her tongue. Her left hand continued it's ministrations on the other breast, rolling the nipple between her fingers, alternating between soft tugs and flicks and more forceful pinches. Urged on by the whimpers and soft moans that were making their way from Raven's mouth and from deep within her chest, Anya's right hand hooked into the top of Raven's pants and slid her fingers along the waistline until she reached the button. She popped it open expertly and lowered the fly, reaching in two long fingers to brush tantalizingly across Raven's throbbing clit through the fabric of her soaked underwear.

 

Raven was squirming under Anya's attention, but when Anya's hand found its way into her pants, she couldn't stop her hips from bucking forward, with a soft "Fuck, Anya," leaving her lips.

 

"Oh, Rae," Anya breathed, coming back up to kiss Raven passionately on the lips. "You are so wet," Anya husked into the almost non-existent space between their swollen lips when she parted.

 

Raven slid her hands away from where she was gripping tightly to Anya's waist, to the top of her pants and started to shimmy them down over her hips. Anya stepped back slightly to give Raven more room before she dropped to her knees in front of the younger woman and placed her hands over Raven's and took over pulling the jeans down the length of Raven's toned legs. Raven stood straight and watched Anya under hooded eyes, slide her jeans and underpants down to her ankles. When both had pooled at Raven's feet, she carefully lifted one foot then the other, as Anya removed them fully and tossed them behind her. She then looked back up at Raven, running her hands up and down Raven's legs, before turning her gaze to Raven's center and letting out a moan as she noticed the copious amount of moisture gathered there; so much that it was running down the inside of Raven's thigh. Anya pushed on Raven's legs gently, intent on spreading her legs before leaning in and catching the runaway telltale sign of Raven's desire on her tongue and dragging it all the way back to the apex of her thigh. Anya stopped just shy of her goal, and she heard a soft growl from above her, before rising just high enough to place a sharp nip on Raven's right hip bone, causing the younger woman to jerk in surprise. Anya grinned and shot a quick look up at Raven who was panting and staring back at Anya, eyes almost black with desire and need. Anya faltered for a moment, stunned by the beauty before her until Raven's hands found her way into Anya's hair and she tugged lightly on the blonde locks, directing Anya where she needed her most.

 

"Anya, please," Raven practically growled, pulling again on Anya's hair, a bit harder this time.

 

Anya nodded, and as she lowered herself again, she hooked her right arm under Raven's left leg and pulled it over her right shoulder. Once she felt Raven was secure, she wasted no time, leaning in and swiping the entirety of Raven's glistening folds with the flat of her tongue. Raven let out a throaty moan and jerked her hips up as Anya's tongue came to a point and circled the tight bundle of nerves at the top of Raven's slit. Anya reached up with her left arm and pushed gently against Raven's lower abdomen and hips, holding her in place against the door as she made lazy figure eights around Raven's throbbing clit and then lower again to explore the sopping folds. She moved lower still when she felt Raven's hands fist in her hair and give her a gentle push in the direction Raven needed her to be. Anya circled Raven's entrance, once, twice, three times before suddenly thrusting into Raven's opening quickly as far as she could go and back out again. She heard Raven's gasp and the tightening of her hands in her hair once more, before a low guttural moan escaped with a raspy, "Holy fuck, keep doing that."

 

Anya obeyed, thrusting her tongue slowly in and out of Raven as far as she could. She could feel the tightening of Raven's abdominal muscles as she tried to rock into Anya's thrusts, but the blonde held her in place and continued her pace tirelessly. Eventually, Anya pulled away and heard the frustration in the huff that left Raven's lips before circling her clit again and pulling it sharply into her mouth and sucking hard. Raven cried out softly, jerking her hips out and away from the wall. Anya managed to hang on and gently scrape her teeth over the little bundle of nerves as she raised her right hand from where it had been resting on the side of Raven's thigh, and gently swirled her index finger around Raven's opening, as she sucked gently on her clit again.

 

Raven moaned quietly, thrusting her hips forward again, trying to capture Anya's elusive finger. Anya teased for only a few more moments before slowly pushing in her index finger to the second knuckle before withdrawing and pushing in again. She had repeated this three more times before Raven gasped again as Anya added a second finger, still moving excruciatingly slowly. Anya let up the pressure on Raven's hips, allowing her to go with the thrusts as Anya continued to lick and suck gently on Raven's clit. It wasn't long before Raven's breath was coming in quick pants and she was thrusting her hips with more vigor.

 

"More," she gasped, gripping Anya's hair tight and pulling her closer, fucking her face with abandon as Anya's fingers continued to move within her. "I need more," she breathed out.

 

Anya hummed her agreement against Raven's clit causing a shiver to travel down Raven's spine to her very center. The abrupt increase in fluids around Anya's hand triggered an answering flood of arousal of her own and Anya quickly slipped in a third finger and backed her lips away from Raven's clit and bucking hips for a moment to adjust her angle slightly and pick up her tempo. She took the opportunity to look up at Raven who had her head thrown back against the door, eyes squeezed shut, mouth partly open, chest heaving and hips thrusting against Anya's hand frantically. Anya didn't think she had ever seen anything quite so beautiful.

 

Anya shifted slightly on her knees, removing her arm from across Raven's lower abdomen and grasped the younger woman's hip firmly with her left hand. With her right she continued to pump into Raven with enthusiasm, pulling almost all the way out and slamming back in with as much force as she dared, relishing in the sounds coming from both Raven and the wet sounds of her fingers moving through Raven's desire. Raven met her thrust for thrust, pulling Anya in even deeper each time. Anya could feel Raven tensing, her internal muscles beginning to tighten and flex around her fingers, and if that wasn't enough, Raven's quick pants, breathy moans, and increasingly erratic hip movements let Anya know she was close.

 

"Fuck Anya," Raven gasped. "Don't stop, please don't stop, it feels so fucking good! God, what you do to me, uhh, oh, my, god. Yes, YES!, right there, oh my god! Holy fuck! Anya...Anya...Anya...," Raven chanted with each thrust of Anya's fingers, her hips beginning to jerk sharply.

 

Anya leaned back in and sucked Raven's clit into her mouth once more, pulling hard as she removed a finger and curled the remaining two forward to brush against Raven's front wall. It was enough for Raven to gasp out Anya's name one last time before arching her back and clamping down on Anya's fingers drawing her incredibly deeper. Anya softened her tongue around Raven's clit, sucking softly and slowly circling the sensitive bundle of nerves as she gently continued pumping her fingers in and out of trembling woman, helping her to both ride out her orgasm and prolong it. When Raven's body finally stilled, Anya carefully pulled her fingers out and gently lowered Raven's leg to the floor. Anya grasped the weak-kneed woman firmly about the waist, so she didn't collapse as she rose to her feet. Once fully standing, she pulled Raven to her chest, and the slightly smaller woman collapsed against her.

 

It didn't take long for Anya to feel wetness on her bare skin, and she pulled back to look at Raven, who quickly brushed at her eyes and looked away. Anya gripped Raven's chin gently and pulled her so that she could look her in the eye. Raven let her, but her eyes darted anywhere and everywhere so she wouldn't have to look directly at Anya.

 

"Hey," Anya whispered, ducking her head, trying to capture Raven's eyes. "Rae, look at me, please," Anya said with a note of pleading in her voice.

 

Raven finally glanced up into Anya's eyes, and Anya could see the still unshed tears there as well as the ones that trailed down her bronzed cheeks. Anya reached up with the hand not holding Raven's chin and gently wiped a tear away, feeling her throat tighten as she watched the emotions chase each other across Raven's face.

 

"I'm going to miss you too," Anya whispered tightly. "So very much."

 

Raven's eyes went wide, and then her face crumpled, and she threw herself into Anya's arms, burying her face in Anya's neck and sobbing quietly. Anya rubbed Raven's bare back in soothing circles and whispered quiet endearments in her ear until she felt the shaking of Raven's shoulders stop.

 

"I'm sorry," Raven husked out. "I told myself I wouldn't do this. This is not how I wanted you to remember me. "

 

Anya released her after kissing her on the forehead and walked over to the nightstand by the still pristine bed and grabbed a tissue from the box there before returning to Raven's side and handing it to her. Raven took it with muffled thanks, and they spent the next few moments in silence as Raven wiped her face and nose.

 

"I will remember you with your head thrown back against that door chanting my name," Anya finally said, with only a hint of a smirk on her face, eyes serious.

 

Raven gave her a watery grin and then tossed the tissue in the bin to the side of the nightstand and stepped in closer to Anya, placing her hands on Anya's hips. "Let me show you how much I'm going to miss you," Raven husked out, placing a soft kiss to the side of Anya's mouth.

 

Anya's breathing quickened almost instantaneously, and she wrapped her arms around Raven's waist and walked her backward toward the bed. Raven grinned into the kiss Anya placed on her mouth as they fell back onto the comforter. Raven wasted no time, flipping them over so that she was straddling Anya's narrow hips and peppering her face, neck, and chest with hot, needy kisses. Raven proceeded to give Anya more than just multiple orgasms to remember, making sure she left her mark on as many surfaces of Anya's skin as she could.

 

Some time later, both women were curled up in each other, trying to regulate their breathing, sweat slowly drying off their sated bodies. Raven shifted, craning her neck from where her head rested on Anya's chest so she could look at her and sighed deeply.

 

"What was that for?" Anya asked, thinking she may have some idea what about what Raven might be thinking.

 

"What...I mean, do you..." Raven tried, faltering and letting out a puff of air in disgust.

 

"Raven," Anya whispered, tightening her grip on the brunette's hip.

 

Raven froze, her finger stilled against the smoothness of Anya's upper chest where she had been idly drawing nonsensical patterns on the flushed skin.

 

Anya felt the change, the tensing of Raven's body and brought her lips down to kiss the top of Raven's head.

 

"Raven," Anya whispered again, pushing on her shoulders slightly so that she could look into her eyes. Raven shifted, sliding off the side of Anya's body and propping herself up on her right elbow so she could look at Anya comfortably. Once Anya was sure she had Raven's attention, she sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly through her nose, trying to order her thoughts.

 

"What I mentioned before, about my leaving," Anya started tentatively. "We need to talk about it," she added slowly and waited for Raven to acknowledge the topic.

 

It took several moments for Raven to finally reply, and when she did it was in a small, tentative voice, "I know. So, what? Can we try this?"

 

Anya sucked in a breath and looked at the woman lying beside her and gave her a short nod. "It's not that I'm not willing to try," Anya breathed out. "But let's not kid ourselves, it's not going to be easy. The time difference is going to suck, and with you in school and me working, it's going to be hard to connect. Maybe…maybe it might be better to part as friends and see what happens? No expectations? Just see how it goes?" Anya finished tentatively.

 

Raven looked at her, sorrow and disappointment flashing across her eyes before resignation finally settled there, and she lowered her eyes to the bed and picked at the sheet. "You know," she started softly. "I know that we haven't known each other for that long, but I have to tell you that I have never had a connection like this with anyone before." Raven looked back at Anya and held her gaze. "If you lived here, or even closer, I would ask you to be my girlfriend – to be exclusive."

 

"Raven," Anya started, but Raven pushed on, not letting the older woman finish.

 

"I know I can't ask that of you, and that you don't want to ask that of me. But I would…I will wait." Raven sighed and looked away again. "However, I know what you mean, and I understand what you are saying. I don't like it, but I understand. So, we part as friends, stay in contact and see what happens?" Raven finished, looking back up at Anya once again.

 

Anya reached over and pushed a lock of silky hair behind Raven's ear and gave her a sad smile. "We see what happens," she repeated softly.

 

"Okay," Raven nodded and then leaned in and placed a chaste kiss on Anya's lips. "We'd better get going. We need to get you to the airport, and we need to see if Abby has called back. We've been AWOL for almost an hour."

 

Anya sighed and sat up with Raven and wrapped her arms around Raven's middle, pulling Raven's back flush with her naked front. She felt Raven shudder at the contact of Anya's breasts against her back and Anya smiled softly and leaned in to whisper in Raven's ear. "I feel it too, this connection, Rae. If we are meant to be, then it will all work out; it will take an enormous amount of work, though. And if we decide to do this, then I'll do it, but I want us to be sure."

 

Raven sank further against Anya's front and nodded.

 

"I just don't want to force anything. I want this to work out because it's meant to," Anya softly continued. "And I do want it to work out," she finished, nibbling on Raven's earlobe softly.

 

Raven turned and straddled the blonde. "Me too," she said just as softly, cupping Anya's cheeks and placing a lingering kiss on her lips while pushing her hips against Anya's toned stomach.

 

Anya groaned and pushed at Raven lightly. "You need to stop. We need to get dressed and check on our friends."

 

Raven kissed her again before nodding and sliding off Anya's lap and walking to her discarded clothes and throwing various items towards Anya as she came across them. The women dressed quickly and then stripped the sheets and pulled the duvet up over the now bare bed.

 

"I'll find some clean sheets later," Raven mumbled.

 

As they walked toward the door, Raven tugged on Anya's hand and pulled her to a stop. Anya turned to look at Raven, brows raised in question.

 

"Um," Raven started, as a flush crept up her neck and her eyes darted to the floor. "I'm sorry about earlier, when I...after you...." she continued awkwardly, rubbing the back of her neck with her free hand and took a deep breath. "It just that after everything that happened tonight, I let my emotions get the better of me, and I don't usually do that. You're leaving, and Jake..." Raven said looking up, eyes pleading for understanding.

 

Anya pulled Raven in for a fierce hug. "You don't need to apologize for your feelings, Rae," Anya said firmly. "Ever. They are a part of you; they are valid, so don't ever worry about sharing them with me. I'm sorry I have to go home, I wish it were different," Anya finished with a soft kiss to Raven's forehead. Raven sadly nodded, turned away and they headed out to the living room hand in hand.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Raven and Anya walked into the quiet living room and saw Lincoln and Octavia spooning on the far couch and then Lexa sitting upright, her neck bent at what could only be an uncomfortable angle, Clarke's head in her lap on the other. Lexa's left hand was on Clarke's hip, and her right hand buried in her hair, Clarke's face hidden in the folds of Lexa's shirt, her nose pressed against Lexa's abdomen. Raven nudged Anya and smirked at the two, and then they walked towards the sleeping group.

 

They checked the phone first and noted that there were no new texts or missed calls, so Abby had yet to call. Anya went over and gently grasped Lexa's head with two hands and straightened her out before calling softly to her. "Lexa," she waited a moment and then lightly tapped on the side of Lexa's cheek and called again. "Lexa. Wake up; I have to go. Lex."

 

Lexa's eyelids fluttered, and she slightly jerked as she opened her eyes to see Anya so close in front of her. Lexa blinked a few times trying to get her bearings before focusing on Anya in confusion. "Anya?" she said, her voice husky from sleep, "what?" Then Lexa's eyes went wide as the events of the evening came crashing back in, and she quickly looked down at the blonde still asleep on her lap. She untangled her fingers from Clarke's hair and reached over to grab a pillow before gently sliding out from underneath the slumbering blonde and replacing her lap with the pillow. Lexa stood before Anya and glanced down at Clarke and then back at Anya. "You have to go," Lexa stated.

 

Anya nodded. "Raven will take me to the airport; you should stay here with Clarke. Please let me know the minute you hear anything. And say goodbye to Lincoln and Gustus, and everyone else for me okay?" Anya said in a hoarse whisper.

 

It was Lexa's turn to nod, eyes brimming with unshed tears. "Are you sure you don't want me to take you to the airport?"

 

"I'm sure. Raven's got this, and you need to be here when the call comes in," Anya said reaching out and pulling Lexa to her for a fierce hug. "Take care of yourself, Lex," Anya whispered in her ear. "When things calm down, take a chance and let your foot off the brakes, okay?"

 

Lexa sighed, gave an imperceptible nod of her head and hugged Anya impossibly tighter as she whispered back, "You take care too. I love you."

 

"I love you too kid. Stay in touch okay?" Anya teased slightly.

 

Lexa grinned and stepped back, holding Anya by the shoulders looking her straight in the eye. "Always," she said sincerely.

Lexa then turned to Raven. "Drive safe, please," she said, and Raven nodded. "Will you come back here after?" Lexa asked.

 

Raven nodded again. "Count on it," she confirmed. "Let me know if you hear anything in the meantime."

 

"Of course," Lexa acknowledged, before turning and catching Anya up in another long hug. "Bye, Ahn. Come back anytime, okay?"

 

"Already planning on Spring Break, if that's okay," Anya replied.

 

Lexa grinned. "That would be great. I'll talk to you soon, have a safe flight. Text me when you get home."

 

The best friends hugged one more time and then made their way to the foyer to put on their shoes and outwear. They weren't in a huge rush, but Anya wanted to be early, and Raven just wanted to spend more time with the blonde before she left. Just as they were waving to Lexa standing just behind them, and about to step over the threshold of the doorway, they heard Clarke's phone ring, and everyone froze. It rang a second time, and Raven pulled the one foot she had out the door back in and closed it quickly as they all made their way again into the living room as the phone rang for the third time. Clarke was only just starting to stir, as were Octavia and Lincoln, so Raven darted forward to answer the call before it could go to voicemail.

 

Raven noticed that the incoming call was from Abby and held her breath as she accepted the call and put the phone to her ear. "Hello?" she said tentatively.

 

"Raven?" Abby's tired voice came through.

 

"Yeah, sorry. Clarke's here, but I wasn't sure if she'd wake up in time to answer the phone and I didn't want it to go to voicemail and…"

 

Abby cut in, "Raven, sweetie; you're rambling. Please put Clarke on the phone."

 

"Oh, yeah, sorry. Hang on," Raven looked down at a now wide-awake Clarke, staring up at Raven with undisguised fear in her eyes. Raven handed the phone out to Clarke who looked at it like it was a poisonous viper, waiting to strike. Clarke shook her head and pushed herself back into the couch, shrinking away from the phone, eyes wide.

 

Lexa took two quick strides and sat down next to Clarke and reached for the phone. She accepted it from Raven and then turned to face Clarke. "It's your mom, Clarke. Whatever she has to say, we are all here for you." Lexa indicated around the room at the concerned faces, and they each voiced their support quietly as Clarke looked at them each in turn before locking eyes on Lexa. Without taking her eyes from the emerald orbs in front of her, Clarke reached out and took the phone out of Lexa's hand and pressed it to her ear.

 

Clarke squeezed her eyes shut and reached out blindly for Lexa's hand, which she found immediately before taking a deep breath and releasing it in a strangled, "Mom?"

 

"Clarke, honey, I'm so sorry," Abby began, and Clarke started to shake, tears running freely down her face.

 

"No, no, no, no, nooo!" Clarke wailed, rocking back and forth on the seat, pressing the phone to her ear.

 

"Clarke!" Abby shouted into the phone, but Clarke didn't respond.

 

Lexa could hear Abby trying to get Clarke's attention, so she pried Clarke's fingers off the phone and handed it back to Raven, then wrapped Clarke up in a hug.

 

Raven took the phone and gingerly held it to her ear, "Dr. G?" she said in a small voice.

 

"Raven, thank God," Abby breathed out. "You have to get Clarke to listen to me. She didn't let me finish. All I said was that I was so sorry…Oh, god. Raven, I'm sorry, I'm so tired, and I wasn't thinking about what I was saying and how it would sound. Clarke must think…never mind. You have to get her back on the phone – please."

 

Raven nodded and then looked at Clarke, clutching onto Lexa's shirt, still shaking her head. "Clarke," Raven said, and then louder, "Clarke!"

 

Clarke pulled away from the front of Lexa's chest and turned red, puffy eyes on Raven. "You need to talk to your mom, Clarke. I think there might be a misunderstanding," Raven softly said as she offered the phone to Clarke.

 

Clarke swallowed thickly and wiped her eyes before taking the dangling phone from Raven's outstretched hand. "Mom?" she said again, confusion and terror making her voice shake.

 

"Clarke, honey, I'm…Okay, wait, first things first. Your Dad is alive, Clarke," Abby said quickly.

 

Clarke closed her eyes and felt her shoulders slump when she heard those four words leave her mother's mouth. He's alive, she thought. Clarke straightened in her seat and wiped her eyes again as Abby started speaking again before Clarke could fully register her relief.

 

"Dad came out of surgery about 15 minutes ago," Abby began. "He has several broken ribs and had a collapsed lung, as well as some internal bleeding. It was a long and gruelling surgery, but the surgeon that worked on him, and saved his life, assures me that he should make a full recovery. It's going to take some time, and he's in intensive care for the next 24 hours, but then they are going to fly him to our hospital in DC."

 

"What happened?" Clarke asked in a small voice, still trying to process all Abby had said.

 

"An explosion in the lab when they were running tests on fuel mixture ratios. Computer error, they think, but they'll be investigating for a while, and I'm sure your Dad will want answers," Abby laughed tiredly.

 

Hearing her mother laugh, caused the rest of Clarke's anxiety to ebb away slowly. If her mom could laugh, then her father would honestly be all right. Clarke opened her eyes and looked into the concerned faces of her friends and gave them a shaky smile. The relief around the room was palpable, and Clarke was never more grateful for her friends than she was at that moment. She felt Lexa squeeze her hand and she focused once again on her mother's voice.

 

"Dad won't wake up before the transfer, Clarke; they have him in a medically induced coma for the next two days so his lung can heal some before he tries too move to much. So, it doesn't make much sense for you to fly out here today. We'll be back on Monday, and you can see him then. However, if you feel like you need to come, I understand," Abby finished.

 

Clarke looked around at her friends and shook her head. "No, it's fine, Mom. I trust you when you say he'll be okay. I'll see you both at the hospital on Monday."

 

"Clarke?" Abby said. "About how I started this conversation…, I wasn't thinking. I was just trying to apologize for not being able to take you with me. I didn't mean to give you the wrong impression, and I'm so sorry you immediately thought the worst and what that must have done to you."

 

"It's okay, Mom. I understand, it's been a long night and I know you tried to get a hold of me. I'm not sure I would have forgiven myself for not having my phone on me if this had turned out differently," Clarke said, mentally chastising herself.

 

"Oh, honey," Abby sighed. "Don't do that to yourself. You had no way of knowing, and besides, it's all going to be okay. Dad will be all right and up to his old tricks in no time."

 

Clarke chuckled. "He'll be the worst patient ever, and he'll drive all the nurses crazy."

 

Abby laughed lightly and agreed, "Get some rest, Clarke. I'll call tomorrow with an update and an arrival time at the hospital on Monday."

 

"You too, Mom. You must be exhausted. Thank you for the call. I love you," Clarke finished softly.

 

"I love you too sweetie. Give my love to the girls. Good night," Abby replied.

 

"Night, Mom," Clarke said before hearing the disconnect on the other end.

 

Clarke lowered the phone and looked at the relieved, but expectant faces surrounding her. She quickly relayed the news and her friends hugged her in relief, one by one. Once Anya and Raven had both embraced Clarke, Anya indicated that she had to go.

 

"I'm so glad your Dad's going to be okay, Clarke," Anya said sincerely. "I'm sorry I have to go, but I enjoyed meeting you all, and I'm looking forward to coming back for Spring Break."

 

"Thank you, Anya. Have a safe trip back, and I'm also looking forward to seeing you again at Spring Break," Clarke said, stepping in and giving the taller blonde another farewell hug.

 

Lexa stood semi-awkwardly off to the side, not sure what she should do anymore. She had been prepared to wait with Clarke, but now she thought she should see Anya off. She looked back and forth between Clarke, Anya, and Raven hoping for inspiration. Finally, she said, "I guess I can take you to the airport, Anya."

 

Anya looked at Raven, and then back to Lexa. "Yeah, okay, great."

 

Raven looked at them both before declaring, "Well, I'm still coming," before crossing her arms in front of her chest with a look daring either of them to argue.

 

"I wouldn't have it any other way, grease-monkey," Anya said affectionately.

 

"Why don't we all go?" Clarke suddenly blurted out.

 

"Yeah, that's an excellent idea," Lincoln piped in, quiet up to that point. He shot Clarke a quick glance as if realizing she needed to move and not focus on the tragedy so nearly missed. "We're all awake anyway; we can give you send-off and then maybe we can all go get breakfast?"

 

"Ohhhh, that's why I love you," Octavia said, throwing her arms around Lincoln's neck and kissing him on his cheek with a loud 'smack.'

 

Lincoln caught her with wide eyes and a surprised look on his face. "You love me?" he asked as Octavia pulled her lips away from his face.

 

Octavia's face paled and then went very red, very quickly. "I mean, I only meant it's just one of the reasons I love you…I mean," she said frantically, still hanging off Lincoln's neck. "Oh my god," the feisty brunette said, as she untangled herself from her boyfriend and facepalmed before she took a deep breath, dropped her hand from her face and looked up, into Lincoln's eyes. "Yes, I love you, you big idiot. Did I ruin everything? It's too soon, isn't it? I can't believe I said that, let's just pretend I didn't say that okay? Can we start again from where you said, ‘let's all go get breakfast'?" Octavia babbled.

 

Lincoln just looked at her with adoration and grabbed her chin to meet his eyes. "I love you too, O," he softly said and kissed her before continuing. "Love doesn't have a time limit; it happens when it happens." Everyone but Lexa missed the covert glance he shot her way when he said this last, and she smiled shyly at him.

 

Octavia's friends watched the brunette with amusement as she melted into her boyfriend as he reclaimed her lips. As soon as she came up for air, Octavia looked around sheepishly at her audience. "Well, that just happened; and you two," she pointed at Raven and Clarke, "can just shut it right now."

 

The group laughed as the rest of them moved to put on coats and shoes before they headed to the airport to see Anya off.

 

 

 


 

 

Anya's goodbye was a quick affair since, by the time they had found parking and made it inside, Anya only had a few minutes before heading through security. Octavia and Clarke said quick and heartfelt goodbyes and stepped aside to let Lincoln in for his farewell.

 

He hugged Anya tightly. "Don't be a stranger," he said before he pulled her in for a second, longer hug, and whispered in her ear. "Thank you for not giving up on her, Anya. And for being here."

 

Anya swallowed thickly and blinked back the tears threatening to fall as she heard the sincerity and emotion in the young man's voice. She nodded against his cheek and whispered back, "I'd do anything for her, you know that."

 

Lincoln squeezed Anya tight one more time and then stepped away with an affectionate smile on his face. He turned and walked to Octavia's side and slung his arm over her shoulders and pulled her to his side, where the brunette sank into him with a sigh.

 

Lexa was next, and she stepped up and pulled Anya into a fierce hug, tears brimming in her eyes. "I love you, Ahn. Thank you so much, for everything."

 

Anya took a deep breath, knowing that Lexa was talking about more than just her visit. Again, she had to blink back tears as she said nothing, just turned and placed a chaste kiss on Lexa's cheek before pulling her in for another quick hug and then pushed back on Lexa's shoulders and looked her in the eye. A thousand conversations passed between them at that moment, and Lexa let her hands trail down Anya's arms as she backed up until she reached her hands. With one final squeeze from both of them and a quiet nod, Lexa stepped away to join the others, which left only Raven standing waiting for her turn at goodbye.

 

The rest of the group, uncharacteristically, turned and walked a few meters away to give the two women some privacy as Raven stepped up and wrapped Anya in a bone-crushing hug.

 

"I'm going to miss you so much," Raven mumbled into the side of Anya's neck.

 

Anya didn't respond verbally, not trusting that the tightness in her throat wouldn't betray her real state of mind. Instead, she just squeezed Raven tighter for a moment before reaching up and untangling the smaller woman's arms from around her neck and taking a step back. Anya swallowed thickly and cleared her throat as she looked off at the group of friends standing just out of hearing distance. When she looked back at Raven, she was more or less in control of her features, and she gave Raven an unsteady smile.

 

"I'm going to miss you too, Rae. You must know that. No expectations, okay? Let's see where this goes, one step at a time," Anya softly said.

 

Raven looked at her sadly and nodded her head. "No expectations," she whispered back. Raven then squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. "Call me, or text me when you get home, okay? So that I know you got there safe?" she asked. “I can expect that at least?” she concluded with a quirked brow and a small smirk on her lips.

 

Anya felt a warmth bloom in her chest as she nodded and bent to pick up her bag. She backed away from Raven a few steps, keeping her eyes locked on the brunettes before spinning on her heel to make her way to the security gate.

 

Raven watched Anya turn her back and stood rooted to the spot for several heartbeats before she started sprinting towards the other woman, yelling, "Anya, wait!"

 

Anya spun around with a look of surprise on her face and barely managed to drop her bag in time to catch a flying Raven who had launched herself at Anya as soon as she had turned. Anya caught her mid-leap and staggered back a few steps from the force of the impact, as Raven wrapped her arms around Anya's neck and pressed a desperate kiss to the blonde's mouth. It took only a fraction of a second for Anya's surprise to wear off, to release her grip from around Raven and lower her to the ground and then return the kiss. When Raven moved to change the angle of the kiss, brushing her nose lightly against Anya's, before going in again, Anya grabbed Raven more forcibly by the hips and pulled her in impossibly closer than they already were. They stood kissing in the middle of the causeway for several minutes until they heard the boarding call for Anya's flight.

 

"Shit!" Anya said, pulling away, trying to catch her breath. "I have to go, Rae. They just called my flight, and I still haven't gone through security."

                 

Raven kissed her quickly on the lips one more time, before giving her a gentle push towards the security gates. She swallowed thickly and husked, with a slightly forced smirk, "Get going then, Cheekbones."

 

Anya darted in for one last kiss, bent down and picked up her bag for the second time, and turned and jogged through the mostly empty security lineup. She turned to wave quickly before turning the corner and then she was gone. Raven sighed deeply and swallowed a few times convulsively to dislodge the lump in her throat before moving to find her waiting friends. She spotted them several meters away and walked towards them, forcing a smile on her face.

 

"Didn't someone say something about breakfast?" she asked as they turned to regard her approach. "I'm starving, let's go."

 


 

 

 Before long the group found themselves at Lincoln's Waffle Shop on 10th St. There were pictures of President Lincoln plastered on the walls and windows, with one wall almost covered in little slips of paper. Octavia couldn't stop giggling and teasing her boyfriend that they were eating at 'his' restaurant. Lincoln just smiled at her and shook his head, while Raven made fake gagging noises at the two of them.

 

They were all squished into one of the last remaining open tables, eating waffles of various varieties, and quietly talking amongst themselves.

 

Clarke was quiet, joining in only rarely to the conversation around her; lost in her thoughts and worries about her dad, and her friends let her be, knowing she needed the time to process. It didn't stop any of them from shooting her the odd worried glance every now and again though.

 

Once they had finished breakfast, Lincoln drove everyone home, dropping Raven off first who reached over to Clarke sitting next to her in the back seat and gave her a tight hug.

 

"Call me if you need anything, okay," Raven whispered in her ear.

Clarke just nodded against Raven's shoulder before tightening her grip for a moment before letting her best friend go so she could climb out of the back of Lincoln's truck.

 

Raven said her good-byes to the rest and jogged up the stairs to her apartment. Once she had let herself in, Lincoln pulled away and headed to Clarke's house. Once there, Clarke opened the door with soft "thank you," to Lincoln and stepped out. Octavia quickly jumped out of the truck and ran around to wrap Clarke in her arms and kissed her cheek.

 

"Your dad's going to be okay, Clarke," she said as she released the blonde. "He'll be home, and we’ll be rescuing his burning waffles on Sunday morning in no time.”."

 

Clarke managed a small smile and looked up to see Lincoln and Lexa standing just behind Octavia. Octavia looked over her shoulder and then stepped aside so Lincoln could step forward. He quickly wrapped Clarke up in a tight hug, Clarke's face pressed into the centre of his chest, eyes wide in surprise for a moment before she recovered and hugged him back, a small smile on her lips.

 

"I'm glad your dad's okay, Clarke," the young man said into the top of Clarke's hair before releasing her.

 

Clarke looked up at him and smiled again and squeezed his hand before turning to look at Lexa.

 

Lexa didn't know what to do; when Clarke was so clearly hurting, it had come naturally to Lexa to comfort her, to be there for her and to open up to her. Now Clarke, while still worried about her father, knew that he would be okay and Lexa was at a loss. She was shifting from foot to foot and didn't know what to do with her hands, and as a result, she found she was twisting them in front of her, so she quickly pushed them into the pockets of her down-filled jacket. She watched as Lincoln gave the blonde a hug and saw the slight smile that appeared briefly on Clarke's features. Lexa's brow crinkled at the sight, her heart racing; she wanted to be the one to make Clarke smile, she wanted to be the one to bring her happiness, she wanted.... With a start, Lexa shot her head up, eyes wide as she realized what she had just been thinking. Her feet stilled, her hands clenched and unclenched in her pockets and her back was ramrod straight. No, no, no, she thought frantically to herself. No, I can't do this, I'm not ready. Lexa was on the verge of panic when suddenly Clarke was standing in front of her and Lexa's mind completely shut down as she stared into the cerulean blue eyes of the blonde and she was lost.

 

Clarke was looking at her curiously as Lexa opened and closed her mouth a few times before she swallowed thickly and gave her head a slight shake.

"Lexa?" Clarke softly asked, quirking an eyebrow at the befuddled woman in front of her.

"Uh," Lexa stammered, "Um, I'm glad your dad's okay, Clarke," she softly stated, looking away from the eyes that seemed to be trying to peer into her very soul.

Clarke didn't say anything, and Lexa glanced back up, and her heart clenched at the confusion she could read in Clarke's eyes and the slight frown that had formed on her brow.

"Thanks," Clarke whispered, still looking at Lexa with a frown.

Lexa looked away again, torn between stepping up and hugging the blonde, or just turning and walking back to Lincoln's waiting truck. Before she could decide one way or the other, her body chose for her. She stuck out her hand towards Clarke who looked at her with even more confusion, and Lexa swore she saw a flicker of hurt pass through her eyes, before Clarke's face smoothed out and settled into one of calm acceptance.

 

Clarke didn't say anything though, just looked at Lexa's outstretched hand for a moment before reaching out and grasping it with her own. "Okay," Clarke softly said as she squeezed Lexa's hand and looked her in the eye. The hurt was gone, and Lexa saw understanding there instead. Clarke squeezed her hand one more time and nodded her head before she inhaled deeply and breathed out another, "Okay," before she released Lexa's hand and took a step back. She sent a quick wave to Lincoln and Octavia and then turned and walked into her house without looking back.

 

Lexa watched her go, conflicting emotions chasing themselves across her face. Her heart wanted to call out to Clarke, to wrap her up in the safety and warmth of an embrace; her head was telling her that she had done the right thing, the safe thing by letting Clarke walk away as she did. The problem, Lexa thought bitterly, was that she wasn't so sure she wanted to be safe anymore, she just didn't know what to do about it.

 

When the door closed behind Clarke, Lexa turned and walked back to Lincoln's truck. She ignored the looks sent to her by both her cousin and Octavia and climbed into the back seat in silence; head bowed, fingers clenched tightly into fists. Her demeanour and body language practically screamed 'don't talk to me', so neither of the other two occupants tried and the trip to the Woods' home passed in silence.

 

When the truck rumbled to a stop in the driveway, Lincoln got out and held the seat forward for Lexa to climb out. He offered his hand which she grabbed hold of as she ducked out from the back seat, shooting him a quick look of gratitude before shifting her eyes away again. Lincoln just sighed as he watched Lexa walk toward the door, before turning to look down on Octavia as she stepped up beside him.

 

Octavia leaned into his side and wrapped her right arm around his waist and looked up at him in return. Lincoln could see how tired she was by the pinch of her brow and the lines radiating out from the corners of her eyes. He briefly wondered when he had learned to read her so well before draping his arm over her shoulders and pulling her closer to his body. Octavia sank into his warmth and smiled tiredly at him.

 

"Do you have to work today?" she asked him.

 

"Hmmm," Lincoln hummed as he nodded his head in the affirmative. "Not until later this evening, though. Night shift. Lots of time for a nap," he added, shooting his girlfriend a wink.

 

Octavia laughed lightly and bumped against him further. "I'd love a nap," she said. "But, I really do need to sleep, so I should probably head home. You and your body are not conducive to a good sleep. At least not right away," she added with a smirk.

 

Lincoln grinned back at the brunette. "You're probably right. But what if I promised sleep only?" he asked with an innocent expression on his face, eyes pleading.

 

Octavia couldn't resist the look he was giving her, and nodded her head, trying to contain the smile that threatened to spread across her face. "Okay," she said, feigning exasperation, still battling the twitching of her lips. "Just sleeping though," she added sternly, pointing a finger and poking Lincoln in his chest.

 

Lincoln laughed again and pulled her into a side hug before he dropped a kiss on the top of her head. "I love you," he said into Octavia's hair. He felt his girlfriend sigh as she turned into his body, and wrapped her arms around his waist.

 

"I love you too," she mumbled into his chest, and Lincoln knew he would never get tired of hearing her say those words to him.

 

"What are we going to do about your dumbass of a cousin?" Octavia said, as she pulled away from Lincoln and looked up at him.

 

Lincoln frowned down at her. "What?"

 

Octavia rolled her eyes and waved in the direction of the house. "Lexa," she began as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "What the hell was she doing at Clarke's house? A handshake for god's sake?" Octavia asked, an incredulous look on her face.

 

"Octavia," Lincoln began, a slight warning tone in his voice that his girlfriend completely ignored before she continued, waving her hands for emphasis.

 

"I mean, she didn't leave Clarke's side once, after we got the news. She went and found her in the cold, she held her hand and comforted her through the whole night, but shakes her hand when we drop Clarke off?" Octavia asked, honestly confused.

 

"Octavia," Lincoln tried again. "Let it go," he added when she looked up at him.

 

"What? But.." Octavia tried again.

 

"Let it go," Lincoln softly repeated before he took a deep breath and looked to the sky for a moment before seemingly deciding on something. He put his hands on Octavia's shoulders and looked into her eyes until he was sure he had her full attention. "Lexa stepped up when Clarke needed her, and now the feelings and emotions that she repressed for Clarke's sake are crashing down on her," Lincoln revealed. "Lexa needs to figure out how she feels and what she wants, and she doesn't need anyone, anyone," he repeated looking at her seriously, "telling her how she should act or behave."

 

Octavia nodded and dropped her head before raising it again and asking, "This has something to do with how she was in the hospital when Clarke got hurt, doesn't it?"

 

Lincoln nodded and whispered, "it does."

 

"Okay, can you tell me what it is?" she asked.

 

"It's not my place to do that, O," Lincoln stated. "It's Lexa's story, her history; hers to tell."

 

"I can respect that," Octavia responded, a slight frown on her face. "But Clarke really likes her, Lincoln," Octavia stated.

 

"I know," Lincoln said with a small smile. "And I think Clarke's good for her. Lexa has been more herself in these last few months since we met you all than she has in the last two years." He paused while he thought about what he wanted to say next. "I can tell that Clarke gets it. I’m not sure how much Lexa has shared with her, but she gets it, I can see it in her eyes, the way she treats Lexa, and the way she’s letting Lexa set the pace and the depth of their interactions. So, no pushing, no teasing, respect that Clarke knows what’s she’s doing and follow her lead." he said, looking at Octavia in earnest. "Let Lexa work this out on her terms, okay?"

 

"Wow, Octavia stated with a smile. "You really have been paying attention to my and my best friends’ interactions, haven't you?" she laughed. "Okay, I promise. No pressure or teasing from my end and I'll make sure I speak to Raven as well. Because the heart-eyes are real, Lincoln. Even if Lexa doesn't want to acknowledge it yet and it's really hard not to be a smart ass about it. Especially with Clarke. But I will limit it to when only Clarke is present."

 

Lincoln grabbed her and pulled her into a tight hug. "Thanks, O."

 

Octavia patted her boyfriend's muscular chest and looked up into his shining eyes. "No problem. Now how about that nap?" she asked slyly.

 

Lincoln chuckled and bent to kiss his girlfriend before interlacing their fingers and leading her toward the house.