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Catch Me, I'm Falling

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Today was the day.

A fresh start. A new beginning!

Another hectic morning in the Woods-Pine household.

Aden had moved in with his Aunt Indra and Uncle Gustus at the end of the last school year, as his own parents were needed abroad for business, and didn’t want to drag their children with them, away to a new environment with a language neither of them spoke.

Aden, of course, had been ecstatic at the prospect of moving in with his aunt and uncle, who were among his favorite people in the whole world, as well as Anya, who was, by his standards, the coolest cousin ever. His older sister, Lexa, however, had been much more reluctant for the change of pace. In her eyes, switching high schools meant that she would have to completely re-establish herself in the social hierarchy, and have to find chemistry with an entirely new football team. Aden knew that she was overreacting, because, from what Anya had said, everyone at Arkadia already adored his sister, and she would have no trouble whatsoever fitting in.

Either way, today marked a huge milestone for Aden.

His first day of high school.

Anya, of course, was completely befuddled as to why he was excited, citing that: “Aden, high school is four years of your own personal hell, why are you excited to go?” Aunt Indra had clipped her daughter on the head in passing reprimandingly, which only served to worsen the blonde’s mood, but Aden continued on being as chirper as ever.

He’d had the day planned to a T.

But then Anya, being the bitter, exhausted teenage girl she was, had snuck into his room and changed the time on his alarm clock, resulting in the family waking up with only thirty minutes before school began.

It was a warzone.

Both Woods siblings wanted to make good first impressions, for different reasons, but good impressions all the same, and thirty minutes didn’t allow enough time for the proper preparation.

Aden had barely escaped the clutches of death, leaping over the small brawl that was Lexa and Anya wrestling for the hairbrush—both of them conveniently forgetting that there were several others in the bathroom—silently thanking whatever higher forces of nature existed that his hair was easily tamed and naturally well-kept.

Within ten minutes, he had shimmied his way into black skinny jeans, which were about the only pants that fit his lithe frame, a white t-shirt, tying a flannel around his waist as he fixed his black beanie on just the way he liked it.

In his haste to make it out the door, he forgot a sneaker, which Anya threw at the back of his head, causing him to tumble forward and knock into Lexa, who was hopping on one foot, trying to lace up her combat boot while balancing. He scowled, rubbing the back of his head while Anya laughed heartily, doubled over at the garage door, snapping a picture of the two siblings sprawled out on the floor.

“You look ridiculous,” she wheezed, clutching at her stomach, “oh, I’m going to cry—ow! Mom!”

“Stop harassing your cousins,” Indra’s voice was as low and commanding as ever, and Aden smiled cheerfully as she hoisted him up off of Lexa, who looked positively murderous, handing him his bookbag, which he’d left on the stairs.

“Thanks, Aunt Indra,” he quipped, smiling radiantly back at the usually stoic woman when she graced him with a small smile of her own, “I’ll make sure they don’t kill one another during school.”

“I trust you to do so,” Indra responded gravely, clasping a hand on Lexa’s shoulder as she pushed the two in the direction of Lexa’s car, an expensive looking Audi A7 that Anya called “gaudy” and “too expensive for a senior in high school”. Lexa knew her parents were particularly wealthy. She also knew it was a consolation prize, given to her as a meek apology for missing a year of her life, to be abroad on business. She still yearned to be like her parents. So formal, so exotic and important. The car seemed to be doing its duty of filling their roles in her life. And it looked damn good.

By some miracle, they arrived on time, right before the ring of the first bell, signifying the end of summer and the beginning of the school year.


 

It wasn’t that Clarke was dramatic, or anything.

Really, she wasn’t.

She merely wanted her senior year of high school to be…different. Palatable. She wanted to feel eighteen, like she was. She wanted to forget about Finn Collins and move on. She wanted a drama free year with the greatest friends she could ever ask for. She wanted to have sophisticated conversations about art, poetry, and the great institutions and places she could travel to, and study.

She really didn’t want to talk about another so called “star” of a new kid, coming into the system and crowning herself at the top of the social hierarchy.

When Lexa Woods first arrived at Arkadia High, every single student, parent, and faculty member was in awe of her.

They’d heard stories, seen her compete several times at the local level. They’d crafted elaborate myths and legends about her skills, her family life, where she came from…everything.

The stories preceded her in ways that annoyed Clarke Griffin to no end.

Okay, she got that there would be rumors, and little bit of mystery. It was the new star quarterback of the Grounder’s illustrious varsity team, after all.

But Clarke wasn’t a ‘jock’, like everyone else at school. She couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that anyone would idolize someone merely over the idea of how good they were at a sport. She enjoyed art, music, intellectual pursuits….

And no, she was not, as Octavia had so eloquently put it, a ‘snob’.

She just, couldn’t understand all the hype.

And then, she actually saw Lexa Woods for the first time.

It wasn’t life shattering, or anything like that.

It wasn’t like time froze, and Raven and Octavia’s cacophonous chatter tuned out for the first time possibly ever.

It wasn’t as if the fluorescent class lights revealed a goddess, with brown locks framing a chiseled, angelic face.  

It wasn’t like Clarke dropped her notebook right onto Lexa’s passing shoes, clad in combat boots and the most enticing skinny jeans Clarke had ever seen, leading up to a tight fitting shirt and a black jacket that completed her image of what Clarke then dubbed, “formal badass”.

Raven and Octavia later corrected it to, “Fine stud”, which Clarke was just now beginning to understand.

Okay, maybe it was like that.

But Clarke wasn’t about to admit it to anyone, let alone accept it herself.

So, in her rush to reach over the desk and grab the textbook, her fingers brushed over long, delicate looking hands, and she froze, unable to breathe, to think, to utter a single word.

“You dropped this?” Lexa Woods stood, towering over Clarke’s seated position, hands reaching out to pass Clarke’s sketchbook back to her.

Her eyes were like intense virid gardens, bright and dark simultaneously, sizing Clarke up before she could muster the courage to speak.

Clarke’s lips parted, but words never left her mouth. She wasn’t sure if that was good, or bad, because she was sure that if she had been able to come up with anything, it would have been inherently stupid, or embarrassing.

Silence, however, was a short lived glory.

Lexa glanced away, and then back at her, sculpted eyebrows raised in what could only be described as an expectant look.

She glanced at her wrist, where Clarke saw a dark black and gold watch gleam, conveying the time, and Lexa’s eyes widened slightly, as she noticed the room was filling up rapidly.

“Uh.” Clarke breathed for the first time in that long while. “Thanks. Sorry.”

Lexa offered her a quick smile.

Clarke had never seen anything like it.

It was arrogant, cocky, but oh…it gave Clarke some sort of electric feeling, coursing through her, like a chill or a shock, but pleasant.

With that smile, or smirk, even, Lexa Woods turned and took a seat directly across from Clarke, though there were plenty available behind or around her.

Clarke fought off the urge to frown. Was it something she said? It couldn’t have been. She hadn’t said much of anything. Her eyes widened. Did she sound rude? No, Lexa was the one smirking like that. Why was she over analyzing such a simple exchange?

Feeling foolish, Clarke leaned back into her seat with a huff, eyes falling to the door as Raven and Octavia came in, breathless, right as the bell rang.

Clarke glanced up towards the front of the bustling room.

No teacher in sight.

“Hey, Griffin.” Raven clapped a hand on her back, sliding into the seat beside her, while Octavia took the one to her left. “Sorry we’re late.”

Clarke shrugged, trying not to show that she’d been so deep in thought.

Apparently, she’d failed to hide her blushing cheeks.

Octavia’s baby blue’s lit up at Clarke’s features, a smirk sitting on her lips. “Clarke’s found someone she likes.”

Raven smirked. “Weird…I don’t see Bellamy here.”

Clarke rolled her eyes, sinking further into her seat, praying that Lexa wouldn’t hear their whispers. “I don’t like Bell like that, lay off.”

Octavia grinned. “ I hope not. You’d make a pretty shitty sister in law.”

Clarke feigned a look of hurt. “Hey! Okay, firstly, I would make an awesome sister in law, thank you very much. And secondly, we’re eighteen! I don’t want to get married, like…ever.”

Raven shrugged. “You’d marry art if you could.”

Clarke sighed. “Too bad art doesn’t seem to like me very much.” She huffed dejectedly.

Before Raven and Octavia could protest, however, the door swung open, revealing the perfectly sculpted form of Niylah Crewe, perhaps one of the most ethereal looking teachers Clarke had ever had the fortune of seeing. From a strictly artistic point of view, the woman was stunning. Her jawline appeared as though it was chiseled by the gods themselves, and her muscles were toned and well defined.

“Cool it with the hearteyes, Griffster.” Annoyed at the interruption of her purely aesthetic appreciation of their english teacher, Clarke tore her cerulean eyes away from the woman at the front of the room to glare at Raven, who was smirking at her.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she huffed under her breath, before turning her head to once more fixate on Niylah, who was introducing Lexa Woods to the rest of the class. As if anyone didn’t already know who she was. The girl was practically all the school could talk about. Every other phrase was ‘Lexa Woods this’ or ‘Lexa Woods that’. Honestly, it was maddening. “And I don’t have hearteyes.”

“Whatever you say, Griff,” Raven said, propping her legs up on the desk in front of her and tilting her chair back precariously.

“...be sure to be welcoming—Miss Reyes, what have I said about putting your feet on the desk?” With an apologetic smile at Niylah, Clarke shoved Raven’s feet off of the desk for her, and the other girl yelped as they slammed back into the ground, her chair following their lead.

“Sorry, teach,” Raven grimaced, pulling herself closer to her desk, “nervous habit.”

“Make sure it doesn’t happen again, Reyes.” It seemed, for a moment, that the goddess of an english teacher was going to burn holes through Raven with the intensity of her glare, and Octavia and Clarke couldn’t hide the snickers that escaped them as their usually bravado-filled friend slunk lower into her chair, looking as though she wanted to melt, before Niylah looked away.

“Not. Funny.” Raven’s disgruntled scowl, however, only made Clarke and Octavia more amused, and she began muttering under her breath about traitorous friends and evil english teachers.

“Admit it, Rae, it was kinda funny,” Octavia shot back when Niylah wasn’t listening.

“I hate you.”

At least Raven and Octavia were the same idiotic buffoons as always.


Aden, of course, had already memorized his schedule, as well as a map of the school so that he wouldn’t get lost in the sea of people on his first day. That, and Anya told him that all the freshmen who could be seen clutching school maps looked like dweebs, and he certainly didn’t want to look too obviously like the lost, over-excitable puppy his cousin informed him that he was. 

His mood dampened slightly when he remembered that his first class was Honors Algebra 2, which would doubtlessly be filled with students older than him who wouldn’t want to associate with a freshman, but he walked into the class with his head held high and with a spring to his step. If Anya could see him, she would without a doubt call him a nerd.

His eyes scanned the classroom for a place to sit, one of the biggest decisions a student could make. The seating chart basically determined your happiness for the remainder of the quarter, or for however long the teacher allowed you to sit there, and he wouldn’t make a horrible choice. Not since the incident in seventh grade when he’d been stuck sitting next to Reese Lemkin, who had always kicked his desk to annoy him and never stopped talking.

Relief flooded his body when he spotted a girl sitting in the left corner of the room, who had a school map on clear display on her desk. Bingo. Another freshman.

He walked over to the red-haired girl tentatively, placing his bag on the desk next to her.

“Mind if I sit here?”

She took a moment to regard him, dark brown eyes scanning his face while Aden’s own traced the constellations of freckles mapped across her pale skin, before she shrugged and nodded her head in the direction of the seat.

“I mean, if your conscious won’t be too weighed down by kicking Banquo’s Ghost out of his spot, then go ahead.” He grinned widely as he sat down next to her, knowing that they’d get along swimmingly.

“I’m Aden,” he introduced himself, “Aden Woods.”

“Ellis Abrams,” the girl shot back, gripping his hand firmly, “nice to meet you. The idiot snoozing behind me is my friend Nam Bui.” He almost hadn’t noticed the boy behind Ellis, as he’d hidden himself underneath a discarded hoodie, but he snapped up at the sound of his name, blinking exhaustion out of his eyes.

“Sup?” the vietnamese boy greeted with a half-hearted wave, before turning to Ellis, “is Trikru here yet?”

“No,” she informed dutifully, “you’ve got a minute or two left of peace.” He grinned thankfully before once more retreating into the darkness of his hoodie, and Aden turned towards Ellis questioningly.

“Titus Trikru, the resident horror of Arkadia High,” she elaborated, “I’ve never had him as a teacher myself, obviously, but I’ve only heard horror stories.” Aden grimaced at the mention of their math teacher’s name, as he’d been trying to deny the fact for as long as humanly possible.

“My cousin, Anya, told me about him,” he shuddered, “I think we’re going to need to form a study group, or something.” Titus Trikru was known for being one of the worst teachers in the history of math teachers ever, and also one of the meanest. It had been theorized commonly between past students of his that the only reason he hadn’t yet been fired was because Principal Jaha himself was scared of the balding, no-nonsense man.

Aden really wasn’t looking forward to this class.

At the loud slam of the classroom door, effectively jolting Nam out of his half-asleep state, and the dark mumbling of the man about how much he hated children, Ellis pulled a similar face, slinking into her chair.

“You may be right,” she muttered under her breath.

“Open your textbooks to chapter one,” the man drawled from the front of the room, hawk-like eyes scanning the crowd of students, searching for a weak link, anyone out of line in any way. They rested for a moment on Nam, who was trying his best to look as awake and aware as possible, and passed over Aden, much to the blonde boy’s relief. He didn’t want to make enemies with the math teacher on his first day of class. “Take notes and then complete the entirety of the homework assignment, due on my desk at the beginning of class tomorrow.”

Ellis looked positively horrified, and Aden knew his face must have mirrored her.

Relatively no instruction in an advanced math class was a recipe for disaster, especially seeing as Aden absolutely abhorred the subject, and he groaned internally as he realized just how utterly fucked he was.

He wondered if Anya knew any good tutors, because he was surely going to need one.


 

Lexa didn’t flinch under the intense stares and gazes she’d received since she’d first set foot into Niylah Crewe’s honors senior english and literature class. She did notice them, however.

She’d noticed them from the wide-eyed freshmen in the window, who’d peered at her like she was a saint, or a rockstar. She’d noticed them from her fellow classmates, who had the audacity to gaze at her like they hadn’t just been whispering about her.

She noticed them from the blonde who’d so smoothly dropped a textbook on her combat boot.

Of course, Lexa wasn’t complaining. She was conditioned, trained to be in the center of the spotlight. And that was where she thrived, on and off the football field. She lived for the stares, the gaping and widened eyes in awe of her prowess.

She’d spent the entirety of her childhood and teen years working for it, after all.

But this was different. Something about that girl, with the cerulean gaze and the slightly parted lips…

Lexa narrowed her eyes at the girl, taking in her features. Her beauty was the first thing to strike Lexa. Her blue eyes seemed to glitter under the intensity of the classroom lights just overhead. And then there was her pearly smile, flashing when her two apparent friends walked in the room.

Lexa glanced away, hoping to stave off the blush she felt rising when all three of them glanced her way.

‘Dammit, Lexa, this isn’t you’. She thought to herself.

Before she could hone in on their conversation, Niylah Crewe herself stepped into the class, ever fashionable and ever beautiful.

Lexa resisted the urge to roll her eyes when she saw all the boys’ eyes locking on their new teacher, mostly her chest and below, even though her face was virtually flawless.

And then her eyes found the blonde’s gaze, intently locking on the teacher’s face with an intense expression of…was that attraction?

Lexa’s eyebrows shot up.

Was the blonde into girls? This was certainly a development.

Of course, she’d never have admitted that aloud, if Costia were around. The last thing she needed was Costia suspicious of her.

She’d realized that she’d zoned out for a great portion of Ms. Crewe’s lecture.

“Students.” Niylah clapped her hands once, clasping them together, demanding the attention and silence of the unruly bunch of careless seniors before her. “Today I have the pleasure of introducing our new star quarterback, Miss Lexa Woods!” Niylah stepped forward, and Lexa felt inclined to rise from her seat, offering a small smile to the class in thanks.

The class roared their approval, and as Lexa’s emerald gaze scanned the room, she felt a little stab of something awfully resembling disappointment as she noticed the blonde’s energy was spent not clapping, but examining their teacher from over Lexa’s shoulder.

“Now, I know she’s already such a hit here, but…Let’s be sure to be welcoming-—Miss Reyes, what have I said about putting your feet on the desk?”

Lexa’s eyes widened slightly at the abrupt change of pace, and with a sinking feeling, she realized her moment under the sun was cut off abruptly by the Latina girl’s bold move of resting her feet atop her desk.

Lexa rolled her eyes, mumbling something along the lines of, “heathens.” She sat back into her chair, eyes finding their way back to the blonde, who’d just knocked her friend’s feet off the desk in an apologetic manner.

Okay, so she was a kiss ass. Brilliant.

Lexa just knew there had to be something wrong with her.

She tried her best to tune into Niylah’s excited rambling, something about them reading Pride and Prejudice, Catcher in the Rye, and other books Lexa had read ages ago with her advanced tutoring and education.

She glanced away boredly, trying to focus on something worth her time.

It looked to be another dull year, as far as literature was concerned.


Arkadia’s library was one of the most fantastic things Aden had ever seen. 

As soon as the bell for first lunch had rung, he had practically bolted out of his history class to reach the library before it was crowded, having promised he would meet Ellis and Nam there. As it turned out, they shared all of their classes together except third and fifth period, which was a complete relief, as Aden now had two people to sit next to who he was already on a friendly basis with.

A friendly junior in Trikru’s class had informed the three completely lost freshmen that there was tutoring sign up available in the library, and they’d quickly jumped at the opportunity, knowing that tutoring was on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“Took you long enough, Woods,” Ellis teased, leaning up against the counter where the sign up sheets were, causing the blonde boy to scowl good-naturedly. Despite his rushed exit, the red haired girl had still managed to beat him to the library.

“Seen Nam yet?”

“Nope,” Ellis responded, popping the ‘p’, “he probably won’t be here for a couple more minutes, that boy’s practically a sloth before noon, and then he finally starts waking up.”

“Has he always been that tired?”

“His mom’s intense, has him signed up for so many things outside of school that it’s a wonder he manages to sleep at all,” Ellis laughed, quickly jotting down her name in neat penmanship, passing the pen to Aden, who scrawled his own in his loopy handwriting.

“Yikes, sounds rough.”

“I’ve known Nam since preschool, and Mrs. Bui hasn’t gotten any better with time. You should’ve seen her at his soccer games in first grade, if you looked up a picture of tiger mom in the dictionary, it would probably just read Phuong Bui.” Aden smiled at her joke, perking at the mention of soccer.

“Does he still play?”

“No,” Ellis responded quickly, “broke his arm tripping over the ball in fourth grade so his mom pulled him out and put him in swim, saying that it was a much safer sport. He’s actually pretty good at it.”

“Shame,” Aden said, shaking his head jokingly, “would’ve loved to try out for the school team with him.”

“You play soccer?”

“It was either that or football,” Aden shrugged, “and I’m much too small for the latter. Besides, wouldn’t want to constantly live in my sister’s shadow now, would I?” Ellis laughed at that, having already heard plenty about Aden’s sister, who was practically all the school could talk about at the moment.

Nam stumbled in five minutes later signing his name quickly, and as the three of them began to make their way out of the library and to the cafeteria, two students entered, seniors, by the looks of it.

Aden’s eyes widened at the sight of the blonde girl passing him. He could only see her clearly for about two seconds before she had moved past him, but he was still struck to the core at her physical beauty, with wide cerulean eyes and pale skin, and he could feel the blush heating his neck all the way up to his ears when Ellis playfully shoved his shoulder.

“Careful there, ladykiller,” she teased, “you might catch flies.” Sufficiently mortified, Aden scowled and looked at the ground, ignoring the laughter from his two new friends.

“Shut up, she’s pretty, is all.”

He was never going to live this down.


 

Why are we in the library again?” 

“I needed to sign up to be a tutor, the extra money goes towards art supplies.” Money had been tight after the death of Jake Griffin, as Abby’s job as the school’s athletic trainer didn’t offer much money, and Jake’s job as an engineer at NASA had provided the bulk of funds, so Clarke was left to pay for her own supplies more often than not. 

“So that’ll take two seconds?”

“Yes Monty, I just wanted someone to come with me and everyone else is too lazy.”

Monty was truly a “cinnamon roll”, as their friend group had colloquially dubbed him, and definitely the most reliable person in Clarke’s said group, which had been dubbed fondly the Delinquents by Aurora Blake, who had chased them out of her pantry on too many occasions to count. He’d gotten up to go with Clarke to the library no questions asked, his loyalty one of his most prominent qualities.

“Done! We can head back now.”

“Great! I have a piece of chocolate cake waiting for me with my name on it, and if Jasper steals it again I’m going to need you to help me bury his body.”

“Of course,” Clarke agreed solemnly, a bright smile crossing her face at how serious Monty sounded. If there was one thing that the korean boy loved more than physics, it was his mother’s homemade chocolate cake, which he practically worshiped. Jasper had a bad habit of stealing it and evoking the wrath of his usually peaceful best friend, and Clarke would’ve thought he’d have learned by now, but Jasper was nothing if not consistent in his ways.

As they approached the table they’d sat at since freshman year, she could see the chemist’s hand snaking into Monty’s bag.

“If you want to keep that hand I suggest you remove it from my bag, Jordan.” The floppy-haired boy threw his hands up into the air in surrender, smiling innocently up at Monty.

“Was just looking,” he promised, fiddling with the goggles that always rested on top of his head briefly, “definitely wasn’t going to eat any cake that you may or may not potentially have with you today.”

Sure.” Upon inspecting the cake in question to make sure that Jasper hadn’t eaten any of it, Monty resumed his typically happy nature, smiling at his friends.

“There’s everyone’s favorite princess!” She scowled at Bellamy’s nickname for her, laughing as he pulled her onto his lap. “Could’ve sworn you were avoiding us.”

“Must have something to do with how awful you smell,” Clarke teased, sliding off of Bellamy’s lap and into the empty spot to his left, “honestly, Bell, do you ever shower?” The male Blake twin clutched at his heart, eyes widening in faux horror.

“If I had anything to say about it, he wouldn’t,” Octavia complained, “the idiot spends forever in there gushing about his hair.”

“Hey!” Bellamy laughed. “Beauty like this doesn’t come naturally. And Clarke, I’ll have you know that I smell fantastic. I didn’t spend thirty dollars on lavender oil for my hair for it to not smell heavenly.”

“And you call Clarke princess,” Raven snarked, “if anyone here’s the princess, it’s you, Bell.”

“You bet your ass I am,” Bellamy shot back, flipping his hair to emphasize his point, “I mean, have you seen my body? I’m hot as hell.”

“And so modest,” Octavia mocked.

“If you had my genes, you’d flaunt it too, O.”

“Bellamy, we’re literally twins.”

“Yeah, and it’s obvious that I stole all of the beauty in the womb.”

“Whatever helps you sleep at night, Bell.” The group of friends kept conversation flowing smoothly, Raven and Jasper already excitedly discussing what sort of experimentation would be going on in Chem 2 and promising to be one another’s lab partners. Usually Jasper paired up with Monty for everything, but the korean boy drew the line at chemistry, because he didn’t want to constantly worry about his safety with Jasper as a lab partner, as the brown haired boy was almost as bad as Raven when it came to blowing things up.

“Oh hey, it’s Woods.”

Almost unconsciously, Clarke’s head snapped up to where Raven was pointing, blue eyes fixated on the new girl. She couldn’t help but appreciate how she looked, with her vivid green eyes and easy charm. Really, she was perfect.

“Wow, Griffin, is that drool I see?”

“Shut up, O,” Clarke glowered, tearing her eyes away from Lexa for a moment to glare at her grinning friend.

“Am I missing something here?” Bellamy asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Griffster’s got a lady boner for Woods.”

“I do not—” her cry of denial was cut off by Bellamy dramatically gasping.

What? You mean to tell me that you’re thirsting after someone who isn’t me? I’m hurt, princess, I truly am.”

“I mean it’s not her fault, Bell, Woods is, uh-oh.”

And then she went and walked up to Undesirable no.1 within the group, Costia Greene.

The rivalry between Clarke Griffin and Costia Greene was one for the history books, dating back to the early days of pre-k at City of Light Nursery School when Costia smeared paint into Clarke’s hair and tore up her drawings, and had only grown since then. The two girls were always at the top of their art classes, and competitions would have ended in bloodshed if it weren’t for the intervention of Raven and Octavia, who had to forcefully restrain their best friend from physically attacking the other girl at times. It was a hatred so deep rooted that, upon first hearing Monty’s last name, Clarke had interrogated him fiercely to find out if the two were related, regardless of the fact that Monty was definitely not black.

The sight of Lexa, with her arm casually flung around Costia’s shoulders, made Clarke’s blood positively boil, for some strange reason that Clarke couldn’t quite place. Of course the new darling of Arkadia High would be dating it’s other doll, the head cheerleader and apple of the faculty’s eyes.

The others would privately admit that they didn’t think Costia was all that bad, but kept those thoughts to themselves in order to avoid Clarke’s long, well rehearsed rant on how Costia was secretly some sort of heathen that the world had sent specifically to exist as Clarke’s archnemesis.

“Whoa, is there a reason blondie’s stabbing her food as though it personally offended her?”

“Fuck off, Murphy,” Clarke groaned, slamming her head on the table rather dramatically.

“Why, Griffin, I didn’t know you were into voyeurism.” Bellamy snorted, coughing on the iced tea he was sipping, raising a hand to offer Murphy a silent high-five, which the other boy readily accepted.

“You’re an asshole,” Clarke glowered, to which Murphy smirked and jauntily waved.

“At your service, milady,” he snarked before turning to Monty and wordlessly handing over a wad of cash, to which Monty fished through his backpack for a few altoids tins, “pleasure doing business, as always, Jordan, Green.”

“Make good life choices!” Monty called as he walked away, before turning back and focusing his full attention on his cake.

“So, back to Griff’s thirst for Woods—”

“Not happening, Rae,” Clarke interjected, still in a sour mood, “even if she wasn’t dating Little Miss Perfect over there, the two of us obviously aren’t compatible, so drop it, okay?”

“Alright, alright, I’ll drop it,” Raven appeased, Clarke missing the quieter “for now” muttered under her breath.


 

There was something about the way the football field looked, that lit a fire within Lexa.

She didn’t know what it was.

Maybe it was the way it made her feel, free and alive, running across it’s green expanse, the feeling of the gritty turf under her shoes.

“Lexa, hey!” Anya’s wave was quickly transformed into a high five as Lexa jogged past her, wearing a tight fitting tank top bearing her new team’s mascot, the armed warrior wielding two swords with a position of poise and power. 

The sound of their high-five brought the rest of the team to attention, the closest friends of Lexa and Anya making their way over to their captain expectantly.

“Lexa!” Lincoln Forrest, her best wide receiver, jogged over, sweat beading above his brow. He ran his hands over his shaved head, grinning when he saw Lexa bearing the team uniform. “It’s like a dream come true, seeing you here.”

Anya smirked at her friend. “You have a thing for her, too? What, one slice of the Blake cake not enough for you?”

Lexa’s sculpted brows furrowed at Anya’s statement, her hands on her hips expectantly.

“The Blake cake?” She repeated, unsure.

“Octavia and Bellamy Blake.” Lincoln clarified with a grin.

“Only the most beautiful family in all of Arkadia High…” Anya spoke in a teasing tone, as if mocking the words spoken by every other student on campus. “Oh, their genetics are to die for…” Anya teased, feigning a fainting motion. “Lincoln’s hitting that.”

“Okay first of all, I’m not hitting anything.” Lincoln rolled his eyes. “It’s official. I’m dating Octavia Blake.” The muscular boy gave a wiggle of his eyebrows, and Lexa’s eyes narrowed.

“You’re dating? In the pre-season?” She inquired.

“Like you and Costia aren’t?” Anya scoffed, stretching her hamstrings simultaneously.

Lexa glanced away momentarily. “That’s different. I’m captain.” She added with a smirk.

Anya stood, matching Lexa’s smirk with one of her own. “Sweetie, you may be captain, but I’m your older cousin. What are you gonna do?”

“Laps. Four of them.” Lexa grinned when she uttered the order, and Lincoln let out a low whistle.

“Ordering laps to your own family? That’s brutal, commander.” Lincoln shook his head in disbelief.

Lexa smirked at the nickname.

Anya rolled her eyes. “I’m not running a mile in this weather.”

Lexa shrugged, giving her a good-humored smile. “I suppose I could let it slide this one time…”

The school bell rang, signaling the end of the day, and the beginning of after school practices. Lexa’s eyes immediately searched the entrance to the field, where several students began pouring in for various reasons, many of them just aching to see the new teams practicing for the first time.

“Aden will be here.” Anya assured her with a knowing glance. “But, so cute of you to worry. How...sisterly.”

Lexa rolled her eyes, hands moving up into her brown locks to tie them deftly into a beautiful bun, using the tie that sat unused on her wrist all day, just waiting for this moment. “I’m not worried.” She retorted, noticing many eyes on her as the students made their way to the bleachers, coming for the various teams that were now taking up various parts of the field. “I’m just making sure he survived his first day. Freshman year was…” She paused for a moment, biting her lip. “-Not without its difficulties.”

“So, captain.” Lincoln turned to Lexa, bowing over dramatically. “Tackle drills?”

Anya and Lexa smirked at each other, a vicious, competitive fire in their locked gaze.

“Oh boy.” Lincoln muttered to himself, turning to get the attention, and labor, of the newcomers to the team. “I’ll go set up the tackle dummies, in case you decide you want to hit something other than each other.”


 

Aden was seriously considering diving off of the bleachers, just to give him something to do. 

Watching his sister and his cousin try to tackle each other was only amusing for so long, and he had no patience for practices. Real games against actual opponents were much more interesting, but Lexa was his ride and thus, Aden got stuck staying after for evening practice with her.

The stands were relatively empty, making him seem even more alone than he actually was.

A girl with brown braids was watching keenly near the front, eyes tracing every move the players made and hastily jotting down what he assumed to be notes in her notebook, as though if she studied them hard enough, she could absorb their skills. He recalled seeing her in his history class, Tris, if he remembered correctly.

The blonde girl from before was lounging around the top of the bleachers next to an equally attractive dark-haired girl who Aden vaguely remembered from pictures as Lincoln’s girlfriend, Octavia. The blonde’s name rested at the tip of his tongue, but he couldn’t quite place it.

His phone provided amusement for a while, blasting Wannabe on repeat while perusing the dark depths of tumblr, as well as playing miscellaneous games. He really should have been working on his math homework, which was staring directly into his soul from its position on the bleachers next to him, but Aden wasn’t in the mood to cry, so he left it there to marinate in his cloud of self-loathing and procrastination.

Overall, it hadn’t been a terrible first day of high school.

Other than his class with Titus Trikru, his teachers were competent and agreeable, and seemed genuinely happy to be teaching a classroom filled with teenagers. There wasn’t actually a lot of work that happened, because they all knew that the incoming freshmen were still on a rush from the last days of their summer holiday, as well as excited at the brand new environment that came with coming to high school. Classes had been filled with ice-breakers and get-to-know-you activities, including one too many games of human bingo, which Anya had told him to look forward to and cringe inwardly at just how tacky the activity was.

Absentmindedly, Aden joined in on the chorus to the music drifting through his ears, bouncing his knee to the beat, closing his eyes as he leaned back into the bleachers in an attempt to distract himself from his boredom.

“If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.”

“Well, well, well, boys, look what we have here, a little fairy all alone, singing to himself.” Light blue eyes snapped open, righting himself immediately, and he groaned silently as he saw the trio approaching him. Anya had mentioned that wannabe—which was an apt description considering the song he was listening to—jocks hung around the field towards the end of night practices, blazing up and just generally being annoying, and had warned him to keep his distance. At the head of the pack was a block-faced boy with messy brown hair that he probably thought made him look cool, but in all actuality just emphasized his horrid bone structure.

“Really, ‘well, well, well, boys’? That’s what you’re going with? Is this some weird rendition of West Side Story? Where you’re the stereotypical bullies who pick on innocent bystanders such as myself?” He’d been told on numerous occasions that his mouth would get him in trouble, but he had never paid the words any mind until now.

“Stuff it, runt,” the boy, who Aden now recognized as Dax Mulligan, who Anya constantly complained about as being the world’s biggest idiot, sneered, motioning towards his two lackeys.

“Really? Three against one? I hardly think that’s fair. Especially seeing as someone as tough and mean as you shouldn’t need backup, right?” The older boy considered this for a moment before shrugging, and Aden sighed as he felt himself be lifted from the bleachers by two strong pairs of hands, pulling him forcefully to the back of the metallic steps. He turned his head as he was being carried away, and frantic blue eyes made eye contact with narrowed green ones from across the field, a silent plea for help.

Once they’d successfully made it to a more secluded area, Dax motioned for his two sidekicks to move aside, and lifted Aden up with his own two closed fists, sneering up close to Aden’s face.

“Aw, Dax, if you wanted to be alone with me, you could’ve just asked. No need for all of the rough-housing. But I’d suggest mints before you try and proposition a guy, last week’s barbeque doesn’t exactly scream kissable.” Inwardly, Aden knew he ought to shut up, but watching the bully’s face go from chalky white to dark red to deep purple was quite the spectacle, and Aden wondered if anyone had ever so closely resembled a prune before.

“Why you little fa—

“I’d carefully consider those words before they leave your mouth, Mulligan.” Well that certainly wasn’t the voice of the person Aden expected to swoop to his rescue, though he could hear Lexa’s angry mutterings in the distance, and his blue eyes widened as he took in the sight of his savior, the blonde haired angel from before, whose name he still couldn’t quite place his finger on.

“Stay out of this, Griffin,” the bully sneered, turning his head away from Aden for a brief moment, allowing the blonde boy a much needed moment to breathe—because his breath really did reek—quickly gulping in a mouthful of air, to sneer in the blonde’s general direction.

“Just leave the kid alone and get out of here,” she shot back, crossing her arms over her chest.

“I don’t think I will, Clarke,” he spat out her name as though it was an insult of some sort, and the metaphorical lightbulb went off in Aden’s head. Clarke. That was her name. He knew it started with a ‘c’. “You’d do to remember your place, preferably underneath me, on my bed, begging—” Whatever he was going to say was cut off as the girl—Clarke!—swiftly and deliberately lashed her fist out and hit the jeering boy directly in the throat, and Aden grinned as he was released, noticing his sister’s wide-eyed gaping from several yards behind the blonde.

“I’m sorry, repeat that? I’m not sure I heard you correctly.” Clarke’s voice was simply dripping with her uncontrolled amusement at watching him topple over in pain.

Coolest.

Girl.

Ever.


 

The “fight” was over as soon as it started. Clarke’s strike was precise, clean, and efficient. Just like Jake had taught her. 

Dax hit the pavement beneath him, writhing around as his own hands clawed at his throat.

He choked, coughed, and sputtered as Aden’s eyes widened, watching the scene unravel before him.

As for his lackeys, they quickly made themselves scarce, having been embarrassed at Dax’s inability to do anything other than cry out in pain at Clarke’s assault.

“Hey…” Clarke nudged him with the toe of her boot. “You’ll breathe easier if you stop struggling. Then again…” She shrugged. “Not a huge loss if you don’t.” She turned and guided the smaller boy away by the shoulders, trying not to listen to Dax’s whining about how much agony he was in.

“You okay?” Clarke asked, her tone softening as she chanced a smile on the boy. She took him in. He was adorable, definitely a freshman, by the looks of it. His eyes were wide as he gaped up at Clarke, like he’d just seen a miracle.

“I..Yeah, yeah!” The boy nodded enthusiastically. “Thanks for uh...punching him in the throat.”

“My pleasure.” Clarke faked a little curtsy, which got the boy laughing.

“Can I...have my hero’s name?” Aden enquired, cheeks rosy just from being such close proximity to the goddess apparently called Clarke. He wasn’t sure where he’d gotten that line from, but it seemed to do the trick, as she cracked a grin.

“I’m Clarke Griffin. Senior artist and puncher of throats, at your service.” She offered.

Aden grinned back, extending his hand for her to shake. His father, before leaving on his business trips, would always tell Lexa and him that the proper way to greet and impress someone was with a firm, hard handshake.

So maybe Lexa was the sibling who’d become the formal, business, cut-throat type. But still, Aden had to try, right?

“Aden here. Freshman and apparently damsel in distress.” Aden beamed when Clarke shook his hand with a surprised smile.

“Aden.” Clarke repeated, nodding. “I’ll remember that.”

“In case I need more saving?” Aden quipped, getting a laugh out of the blonde, until she froze, straightening up, her blue gaze going past him.

Clarke stiffened, hands falling to her sides.

Lexa Woods had frozen a few feet behind her new friend, arms folded. 

Clarke couldn’t help but notice how stunning she looked, her black jersey complimenting a fit frame, with toned arms revealed under the bulk of her shoulder pads, her hair tied in a neat bun that allowed Clarke to see more of her face since their run-in that morning. And of course, the tights.

But that didn’t mean Clarke suddenly enjoyed football, or anything.

She simply knew how to appreciate art.

Lexa glanced disdainfully at Dax, who’d stopped sputtering, but instead now heaved for air, ever the dramatic victim.

Before she could open her luscious lips, which Clarke was infinitely curious to hear the contents of, she was interrupted by a shrill cry.

“Clarke Griffin!”

Uh oh.

Clarke knew that voice, that tone, and that anger. Hell, she’d probably hear it on her deathbed.

Lexa’s eyes widened as she took in an older blonde woman, with several distinct facial features that likened her to Clarke, kneeling over by Dax’s fetal position, likely sent for by one of his lackeys. 

Dax wheezed, muttering. “She hit me, Dr. Griffin. In the throat.”

Abby glanced down at him pointedly. “Yes, Dax, I’ve gathered as much. Come on, let’s get you up, huh?” She motioned behind her, and her student TA, Jackson, stepped forward, bending over to help Dax up. Abby motioned to him, muttering, “Just get him into my office. I’ll make sure he’s not...injured, and then we’ll get him out of here.”

“Yes, Dr. Griffin.” Jackson nodded, ever the faithful assistant, and began helping Dax limp away, though Dax was, in no way, unable to walk normally.

Clarke rolled her eyes. It was all for show, and Dax was just dying to get her into trouble.

“Clarke.” Abby stood, putting her hands on her hips, voice stern as ever. “ You punched him? Are you kidding me?”

Clarke glanced at Aden, and then Lexa, before locking gazes with her mother. She didn’t want to bruise Aden’s ego, not knowing how he’d react to her admitting that she’d saved him.

“He was making sexually inappropriate comments. No big deal.” Clarke shrugged, deciding, for some idiotic reason, to play it nonchalant and cool.

Not to impress Lexa Woods, or anything.

Wrong choice.

“Clarke!” Abby seethed, stepping forward threateningly. “I...do you want me to go back to working at the hospital? Is that it?”

Clarke’s cheeks burned as she felt Lexa and Aden’s gazes awkwardly boring into her as the slowly began to shuffle away, unable to handle the heat of the moment between the mother and daughter. “No, I-”

“Then you can serve detention, like any other student.” Abby sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose.

Clarke’s jaw dropped. “Detention? What?! But mom, I never-”

“Clarke.” Abby’s tone was firm. “I can’t be biased. I didn’t hear him say anything, unfortunately, but it’s very clear that you hurt him. Rules are rules.”

Clarke shook her head in disbelief, biting her lip to keep from saying something particularly unsavory and spoiling what was left of their strained relationship.

“Come on.” Abby jerked her head. “Let’s go. You can clean my office.”

Clarke’s eyes narrowed, but she said nothing, turning to Aden who’d been in a stunned silence. “You’re good, right?” Her voice was gentle, and she even chanced a smile. “I’ll see you around.”

Aden nodded apologetically. “Okay. Sorry, Clarke…”

Clarke shook her head. “No worries. I did hit the guy.” She shrugged, winking at Aden as she followed her mother to her office, several buildings away.

Lexa turned to Aden once the blonde was out of earshot, her voice dripping with worry. “Are you alright? I was on my way over.”

Aden nodded good naturedly. “Yup.” He smiled. “She totally decked him. It was awesome. I think...I think she might even be able to take you.”

Lexa rolled her eyes, but smiled relievedly nonetheless. “Doubtful.” She muttered, eyeing the blonde’s retreating figure. “Aden.” She turned back to her brother, putting her hands on his shoulders. “Go to Anya, and stay there.”

Aden’s brows furrowed. “What? Why?”

Lexa bit her lip. “I’m going to go confront Dr. Griffin. You stay with Anya, she’ll keep an eye on you.”

Aden rolled his eyes. “Lex, I’m fifteen! I don’t need anyone to watch me like-” he trailed off when he realized that he’d almost been...he wasn’t really sure, but he knew Dax didn’t exactly have a day of fun in the sun planned for him. “Okay.” He muttered. “Fine.”

Lexa winked at him, her softer side showing ever so slightly. “Just until you can find a kru of your own to back you up.” She teased, referring to what the school had already dubbed her group of athletic, no-nonsense friends.

Aden smiled up at his sister. “You are my kru.”


To Lexa’s surprise, Abby Griffin was a surprisingly quick woman, dragging her daughter alongside her. She could hear the two of them bickering as she approached, and she couldn’t help but grimace, remembering some of her own arguments with her parents, which never ended nicely. 

“—why don’t you ever believe me on these things?”

“All I saw was a boy on the ground and you standing over him! What was I supposed to think, Clarke?”

“I don’t know, that your daughter was telling the truth?

“Hey, that’s not fa—”

“Doc!”

Both Griffins froze when Lexa called, jogging lightly to catch up with them, the elder immediately placing a sweet smile on her face while her daughter continued to scowl mutinously. Lexa couldn’t help but take a moment to think that, though the blonde was obviously in a rather precarious mood, she looked, well adorable. Kind of like that one internet meme that Aden had been obsessed with for a while… Grumpy Cat! That was the one. He’d forced her to buy him a giant plush of the cat as well as watch Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. It was horrific, and only worth watching because Aubrey Plaza voiced the cat, though Aden claimed it was a “modern day cinematic masterpiece ahead of it’s time”.

“What can I do for you, Lexa?” Dragging her eyes away from the younger Griffin and ridding her thoughts of the frowning internet sensation, Lexa turned to observe the team doctor.

“She’s telling the truth.” There was an awkward pause as both of the Griffin women stared at her, Abby trying to comprehend her words, and Clarke openly gaping as though she didn’t expect Lexa to defend her.

Lexa couldn’t deny that the utter befuddlement on the girl’s face stung a little. Had she really made that bad a first impression on the blonde? It had been her who dropped her sketchbook on Lexa’s feet, it wasn’t as though she’d done anything wrong.

Or had she?

Whether or not Lexa made a bad first impression on Clarke Griffin was irrelevant at the moment, however, because currently Lexa needed to pay back a debt. The girl had rescued her baby brother, and she wasn’t about to let her get punished for it.

“About Mulligan, I mean,” Lexa elaborated, taking Abby’s bewildered look as confusion, “he and his two friends had Aden pinned up against the bleachers. I was on my way to help him when Clarke stepped in.” She paused, locking gazes with the other girl, which was a mistake on her part. She could get lost in their depths, more expansive than the sky and deeper than the ocean.

“He was essentially sexually harassing your daughter, Doc,” Lexa continued, “even I was uncomfortable from the things he was saying. All she did was defend herself and Aden, she shouldn’t be punished for that.” Abby took a long moment to consider this, scrutinizing Lexa as though to find a single shred of dishonesty, but she wouldn’t find one.

Lexa was being one hundred percent genuine, and it showed. 

“Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Miss Woods,” she finally said in a clipped voice, nodding once, “I’ll make sure Mr. Mulligan is punished for his actions.” Lexa nodded, shooting an awkward half-smile at Clarke, which she inwardly berated herself for as soon as it happened, she was not awkward. She was Lexa Woods, the legendary Commander, badass extreme.

“Not a problem, I’ll see you tomorrow.” Before she could make an even bigger fool of herself, she began jogging in the other direction, back to her teammates, who were waiting patiently.

Anya was standing close to Aden, her arm protectively slung over his shoulder, eyes scanning as though to find invisible bullies. For all the other girl teased him, Lexa knew that she would protect him with the fierceness of a mother bear. There was something about Aden that drew out the protective instincts of everyone.

“Practice is out early, guys,” Lexa announced, “gotta get Pipsqueak home.”

Aden scowled at the nickname, crossing his arms over his chest as he glared at his sister, who laughed and ruffled his hair.

“Honestly, Lex, I’m fine, they’re just idiots,” he protested, “you don’t have to end practice early. And also, I’m not that small.”

“Yeah but I want to end practice early,” Lexa laughed, “and yes, you are that small. It’s a wonder they even let you in here, you look like you belong in the elementary school down the street.” With narrowed eyes, the younger boy launched himself on his sister, who pretended to stagger, though she could easily support his weight.

“I’ll show you small!” he laughed, climbing up Lexa as though she were a tree, ignoring the sticky sweat clinging to her uniform in an attempt to get her to squirm.

“Tiny hands, my only weakness.” It was an ongoing joke between the two siblings, as Aden had loved to cover Lexa’s eyes with his little sticky hands as a toddler and yell “Boo!”, to which Lexa would always feign surprise.

“Alright, you two, knock it off,” Anya teased, shaking her head, “let’s get out of here and go get food.”

“Chicken fries!”

“Aden do you know how unhealthy those are?”

“Lexa if I see another quinoa salad I might actually die.”

“Melodramatic much?” Lexa rolled her eyes.

“He gets it from you.” Anya chimed in.

“I’m not dramatic!” Lexa protested, ignoring the raised eyebrows of her friends. “I’m not.”

“You’re a literal gay puddle,” Anya deadpanned, causing Lexa’s eyes to narrow.

“Excuse me, I am a badass, not a gay puddle—”

“You cried when we watched Dolphin Tale, Lex.”

“Lincoln, you’re supposed to be on my side!” The gentle giant of a young man raised his hands in faux surrender, though a grin crossed his face.

“Sorry, Lex, but even I have to admit you’re a little extra.”

“Extra Lexa. LEXTRA. I’m a genius.”

“Aden?”

“Yeah Lex?”

“Shut the fuck up.”