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It’s her own fault, really.

 

They sent her the reminder emails and all her friends told her that she had to hurry but, for some reason, she thought she’d be okay.

 

But here she is, on the first day of semester, not entirely sure where the hell she’ll be living for the next year.

 

And maybe she should have checked her school emails or something, but she didn’t really want to do that between her odd jobs here and there and her summer of road trips and couch surfing. She’s still not entirely sure she’s even brought her laptop back with her, but that’s what her savings are for.

 

“Griffin!” A familiar voice calls and before she can turn around, she’s stumbling forward as Octavia climbs on her back over her huge backpack. She laughs in Clarke’s ear and Clarke somehow manages to shrug her off and turn around to hug her. “Where the fuck have you been? We woke up in New Orleans that morning and you’d gone!”

 

Clarke smirks and shrugs her shoulders coyly. The morning in question was over two months ago, during the long weekend they were supposed raising hell in the Big Easy. They’d met there about a week or so after last semester finished with plans to get incredibly drunk and have careless fun. There had been about a dozen of them but, on their last morning, Clarke had found alternative plans to heading home to California.

 

She’d spent the next few weeks working at a bar in Key West.

 

“You’re fucking unbelievable,” Octavia states but she’s grinning like she expects no less. Clarke smiles back innocently, knowing exactly what kind of shit her best friend thinks she got up to.

 

It’s probably not the scrubbing floors and sketching pictures of boats that Clarke actually spent her time doing. Octavia probably thinks that she was sleeping in the bed of some beautiful god or goddess when really she was sleeping in a cot in the mudroom of some old lady’s house. From Key West she’d followed an offer to work for a weeklong barbeque competition in Charleston. After that, she’d managed to wangle a couple of weeks work in Myrtle Beach. She’d bypassed all major cities and traversed the east coast, working here and sleeping there, to end her summer in Cape Cod before coming back to school.

 

“Which residence hall did you get matched to?” Octavia asks and Clarke groans, rolling her eyes and shrugging off her backpack.

 

She drops down onto a nearby wall. “I have no idea,” she admits. “I left it to the last minute so I’ve got to head over to the residency director’s office to find out.”

 

Octavia gives her a knowing, disappointed look. “Clarke, we told you—”

 

“I know, I know,” Clarke grumbles, picking up her bags again and hoisting them onto her back. “Don’t bother. I fucked up and I’ll figure it out.”

 

Octavia gives her a disbelieving look. Clarke kisses her cheek before wandering away.

 

//

 

“You got everything?”

 

Lexa looks around the room and finds the usual three duffle bags and backpack she takes everywhere. They’re sat beside her box of school books and stationery, and she gives Anya a look before the older girl snorts and rolls her eyes.

 

“Right, of course,” she says as she slips her hands into the back pockets of her jeans. She gives Lexa the same look she always does but doesn’t say anything. “Did you want me to help stay and unpack?”

 

Lexa shakes her head. “No, I’m good.” Anya gives her another knowing look but she quickly ignores it. “Thanks for letting me crash this summer.”

 

Anya laughs at that and pulls Lexa into an uncomfortable hug. “No problem, kid,” she says to Lexa’s frown. “Anytime. You know that.”

 

Lexa nods and she’s grateful. She’s grateful but she’d never say it out loud. That would be weird.

 

“I better hit the road,” Anya says when she pulls back. “You’ll call?”

 

Lexa nods. “I’ll call.”

 

Anya gives her another shorter hug. “You better.”

 

Lexa watches her leave, follows her all the way back to her car through the window, before she starts opening up her bags and dragging everything out. She decides on the smaller bed set-up in the corner, behind the door and closer to the window. She makes her bed and tries to ignore the hustle and screaming of friends reacquainting with each other in the hallway. It should probably worry her that she doesn’t have a roommate yet but she doesn’t care. She could probably live with anyone at this point.

 

She’s almost completely unpacked and organizing her books on her shelf when she hears a ruckus outside. She hears shrill excitement and a familiar voice. It sets her on edge because please, please, please, please…

 

She glares up at the ceiling when a familiar figure fills her doorway.

 

“This is me. I—” the voice laughs and then abruptly stops. “Oh… Lexa. Hi.”

 

Lexa looks up from her kneeled position on the floor and tries to be as polite as possible. “Hi, Clarke.”

 

Clarke looks around them to the empty side of the room and then to the number on the door before turning her attention back to Lexa. She has that same disappointed look that Lexa witnessed during their first ever conversation almost a year ago to the day. She looks like she wants to run in the other direction. Lexa tries not to let the ache of hurt fill her gut.

 

“Looks like we’re roomies,” Clarke comments as she finally steps over the threshold. She drops her huge backpack onto the bed and sighs before looking around the room. Lexa gives her a polite smile when her eyes land back on her. “Awesome.”

 

//

 

“Lexa Woods is your roommate?” Raven repeats before promptly lapsing into loud belly laughs. She rolls around on her bed as Clarke and Octavia sit on the bed opposite her.

 

Octavia pats her knee. “We did warn you…” she starts before Clarke gives her a look. Octavia winces sympathetically. “What did the residency people say?”

 

Clarke huffs and falls backwards onto her bed. She lets her hands cover her forehead and shakes her head. “That I was lucky enough to get a bed at all.”

 

Octavia’s brow raises at her words and Raven’s laughter just gets louder.

 

“Bummer,” Octavia mutters.

 

It doesn’t make Clarke feel any better and she’s glad when Octavia reaches for the emergency flask she keeps nearby at all times. It’s full of vodka and Clarke grimaces happily as she takes a long chug out of it.

 

Please tell me there’s a party,” Clarke gripes as she feels the burn the whole way down.

 

Both of her best friends grin. They’re pretty buzzed by the time that they make it down to the school welcome bonfire later that night. Everyone is there and they all greet Clarke happily. She spends most of her time hugging everyone and asking them how their summers were and Octavia rolls her eyes when she finally takes a seat beside her on the wall.

 

They’re only here because it’s tradition. Everyone is here. Everyone always comes to the first bonfire of the semester because it’s pretty much a requirement. Even Lexa is here and Clarke is pretty sure it’s only because she has to be. It’s not like she’s talking to anyone. She’s sitting on a wall on the edge of the festivities, wrapped in a huge cardigan with a book in her lap.

 

Clarke wishes she could be surprised but Lexa’s pretty hardcore about this studying stuff. Everyone knows her mantra is that she’s only here to study. She’s always first to class. She’s never been to a real party. She’s never made her way over to one of the bigger, nearby colleges to go to the frat parties. A lot of the girls go because it’s the only way to hook up with guys when you go to an all girls’ college, but not Lexa. Clarke’s heard rumors that Lexa’s into girls but those sorts of rumors go around here about a lot of people.

 

Lexa has a reputation and Clarke isn’t sure if she’ll survive this year because of it.

 

“How long do we have to stay here?” Clarke grumbles as she grabs the flask from Raven.

 

Her best friends grin at her. “We’ve got to get to Lincoln’s by ten.”

 

“And what time is it now?”

 

Raven takes the flask from her and chuckles. “Seven.”

 

Clarke drains half the flask and grits her teeth.

 

“Fuck my life.”

 

//

 

When it gets to midnight and Clarke hasn’t come back to their room, Lexa begins to wonder if the sheer idea of living in the same room as her has forced Clarke to take to the streets. She knows it’s silly because Clarke’s things are still here and she saw her disappear through the woods with Octavia Blake and Raven Reyes after the bonfire.

 

She knows Clarke’s reputation. They call her Party Girl Griffin. She’s a keg stand champion. Rumors follow her wherever she goes. Lexa’s pretty sure that she knew everything there was to know about Clarke before that one and only time Clarke sat beside her in class.

 

That one time had been enough for both of them.

 

She doesn’t know why all of this is bothering her so much.

 

She hates not being able to sleep.

 

She should be used to this by now.

 

She watches the numbers on her alarm clock flash until it’s almost four in the morning and jumps a little when she hears a hustle behind her door.

 

“She’s got to be asleep by now,” a voice says and Lexa can just about tell that it’s Raven. Someone shushes her quietly and Raven just starts giggling until something muffles it.

 

Lexa rolls over to face the wall and closes her eyes to stave off the hurt. She tries to ignore how she can hear Octavia asking Clarke over and over again if she’s sure she doesn’t want to stay in their room with them.

 

“I’ll be okay,” Clarke promises. Her voice slurs and there are a few moments of hushed whispers before it goes quiet. Lexa hears the click of their door finally opening and clenches her eyes closed when Clarke clumsily stumbles through the door. “Shit,” she whispers when she steadies herself. The room instantly smells of cigarettes, alcohol and maybe of sex. “Fuck.”

 

The door closes and Lexa’s sure Clarke is trying to be quiet as she fails miserably. She stumbles around the room and Lexa hears the drop of her shoes by her desk, the slump of her jacket as it hits the floor. Clarke hums as she falls to sit on the end of her bed and Lexa listens to the sounds of drawers opening while Clarke tries to find something to sleep in.

 

The clothes on her body drop to the floor like her jacket and shoes. Lexa stays still as the shadows of Clarke’s body flutter against the walls. Lexa bites the inside of her cheek when Clarke stumbles over one of her still unpacked bags on the floor before she hears the zipper on it open a few moments later. Clarke rifles around inside it for something until the light from their Jack and Jill bathroom floods the room. Clarke hisses in shock and closes it quickly behind her.

 

Lexa rolls onto her back and lets her hand rest against her forehead for a second. She has every intention of rolling back over and pretending to be asleep but she never gets to because the door opens sooner than expected. Clarke freezes when she catches sight of her.

 

There’s a toothbrush hanging out of her mouth and some toothpaste in the corner of her lips. She looks guilty and uncomfortable and Lexa just blinks up at her because she doesn’t have the energy for this.

 

“I didn’t wake you up, did I?” Clarke whispers and her voice slurs just a little.

 

Lexa shakes her head and keeps staring up at her.

 

“You sure?” she checks.

 

This is probably the nicest conversation they’ve shared in their entire history.

 

Lexa nods and clears her throat softly. It’s still croaky when she speaks. “Can’t sleep.”

 

Clarke moves to sit at the end of her bed again and slips her toothbrush and paste back into a wash bag resting there. She places it on top of her empty bookshelf and looks around their room. Lexa watches her carefully.

 

“I, um, I have Octavia’s flask if you think booze will help,” Clarke says turning back to her suddenly, eyes bright and sincere. “Something to take the edge off?”

 

Lexa smiles sleepily and gratefully. “I don’t really drink alcohol.”

 

Clarke gives her a look but then nods slowly. “Of course,” she says and it’s not unkind. There’s maybe even a tiny hint of a blush on her cheeks. “That makes sense to why you never go to parties. They must be really boring without booze.”

 

Lexa doesn’t say anything. Clarke’s not wrong but she’s also not right either. Lexa just never got into that. People like her grew up knowing which things to be wary of.

 

Clarke points a thumb back to their door. “I could go make you some tea or something.”

 

 

The kindness catches Lexa completely off guard. It makes her feel weird.

The kindness makes Lexa feel weird. It catches her completely off guard. The fact that Clarke Griffin just offered to make her tea doesn’t feel right. She swallows carefully before responding. “I’m fine, thanks.”

 

Clarke nods her head like that makes sense too. She watches Lexa for a few moments with slowly blinking eyes.

 

“I’m gonna go to sleep,” she says eventually as she falls sideways onto her pillow. There’s a blanket folded at the end of her bed and she pulls it up under her chin. It doesn’t even really cover her body. “Night, Lexa.”

 

Lexa watches as her eyes close and her breathing instantly evens out. Her wavy blonde hair falls in her eyes and her cheeks are pale at the same time they’re flushed pink from the remnants of alcohol. The room now smells less like alcohol and more like soap and mint toothpaste. Clarke’s lips purse cutely in sleep and Lexa swallows, taking the sight of her in.

 

It takes her a long time to realize that she’s staring. When she does, she jumps and rolls back over to face the wall.

 

She doesn’t fall asleep until the sun comes up.

 

//

 

When Clarke wakes up, she’s surprised to find that she’s back in her dorm room. She startles away, wincing as the light through their small dorm window burns her retinas, and rolls onto her back. Her hands come up to rub at her eyes and she groans unhappily as she allows her senses to acknowledge all the aches and pains in her body.

 

The nausea hits her first, and then the stomachache. She presses a hand to her gut in an attempt to stifle it but it doesn’t work. Her head is pounding and there’s an ache in her hips and thighs that tells her she probably had a better time than she expected. Her mouth tastes like ass.

 

“Fuck my life,” she utters and doesn’t expect the low chuckle she hears from across the room.

 

She peels one eye open to find Lexa already up and dressed, sitting on her desk chair and organizing the pin board on the wall in front of her. She doesn’t look at Clarke, doesn’t even say anything, and as Clarke leans up to glance over at her, she’s not even sure that little laugh was for her benefit.

 

“What time is it?” she grumbles.

 

Lexa reaches for the jar of pins beside her then glances at the watch on her left wrist. “Eleven-fifteen.”

 

Clarke gives a low hum of disappointment and lies back down when sitting up makes her feel more nauseous. “I drank a lot,” she comments. Lexa doesn’t say anything. “How did I get back?”

 

Lexa’s movements still and when Clarke glances over at her, there’s a look on her face that she can’t read. She almost looks disappointed. It disappears the minute Clarke sees it and Lexa weighs the small pins in her hand before shrugging.

 

“I don’t really remember,” she says with a polite smile. “I was asleep.”

 

It surprises Clarke a little bit when she suddenly puts down the pins and gets up from the desk. There’s a pair of perfectly clean Chelsea boots at the end of her bed and she pulls them on silently, fixing the bottoms of her skintight black skinny jeans once they’re on her feet. She barely glances at Clarke as she pulls on her jacket and something about it feels strange. She pulls her leather satchel over her shoulder and arranges her collar as she gets to the door.

 

Something about it all feels… unfinished.

 

“I’m going to go get coffee,” she comments as she turns back softly. “Do you want anything?”

 

Clarke narrows her brow and tugs her blanket more comfortably over her cold legs.

 

She thinks that Lexa looks nervous.

 

Despite everything telling her not to, she smiles and answers.

 

“Coffee would be great.”

 

//

 

The campus coffee shop and bakery is empty and she gets herself a cup of coffee and drinks it at a little table in the corner before going back and getting two more. She picks up two blueberry muffins and two peach scones without thinking. She doesn’t realize that she’s got enough for Clarke until she’s making her way back up to their room and knocking on the door because her hands are full.

 

She wishes she hadn’t when Clarke opens the door in nothing but a fluffy white bathrobe. She’s glad that Clarke’s more preoccupied with the tray of coffee in her hands to notice the blush on her cheeks and slips past her to put everything on her desk. She slips off her jacket silently and tries to ignore how Clarke still hovers in the doorway.

 

“I didn’t know how you took it so I kind of got everything,” Lexa mumbles as she grabs her own cup and takes a sip. She pushes the other towards Clarke before settling down on her bed and reaching for her book. Clarke hums as she moves over to collect it.

 

She soon learns that Clarke takes her coffee ridiculously sweet and milky. She hums happily as she takes her first sip and then picks up the white bakery box. “What’d you get?” she asks curiously. “Did they make any peach scones today? Those things are worth getting dressed for.”

 

Lexa looks up from her book and swallows. “There’s two in there,” she says. “And two blueberry muffins. Help yourself.”

 

Clarke looks at her hesitantly. “You sure? You already got me coffee and you really didn’t need to do that.”

 

Lexa looks at her and wants to tell her that there’s no way she bought all those sweets for herself and no one else is here. She wants to tell her to stop making it weird. She wants to tell her to just shut up and take the damn pastry.

 

Instead she says, “It’s fine. Go ahead.”

 

Clarke opens the box and takes one of the scones. She eats it quietly on her bed and doesn’t say anything else. Lexa rolls onto her side once her coffee is finished and they don’t speak for the next couple of hours. Clarke moves around the room, getting ready and finishing her unpacking. She doesn’t say anything until the sun is sinking low in the sky and hovers at the end of Lexa’s bed until she turns to look at her.

 

“Are you coming for dinner?” she asks. “We missed lunch.”

 

Lexa swallows and shakes her head even though her stomach’s been rumbling for ninety minutes.

 

“In a while,” she mutters.

 

Clarke leaves when Octavia Blake appears at their door. It’s only then that Lexa eats the other scone.

 

//

 

Octavia and Raven are just as hungover as she is. Raven pretty much communicates in grunts and holds a cup of coffee to her forehead as she stares down at the plate of food in front of her. Octavia carefully sips from a bottle of ice-cold water and turns green when offered anything else.

 

“How did I get home last night?” Clarke finally asks them and they grimace at the way she ploughs her way through the plate of pasta in front of her.

 

It’s Octavia that answers. “We took you home about four,” she explains. “We waited until we were sure that the Robot would be asleep so that you didn’t have to interact with her.” At that, it’s like Octavia remembers something. “Where have you been today, anyway?”

 

Clarke’s stomach drops a little but she decides to tell the truth. “Uh, I had to finish unpacking.”

 

Octavia fixes her with a curious look while Raven’s moves the coffee cup away from her face to stare her down. “Was Lexa there?”

 

Clarke licks some sauce off her finger before shrugging at whatever thoughts her friends are currently having. She doesn’t look at them. She knows that they don’t really like Lexa—that they’ve pretty much teased Lexa since they knew of her existence—but Lexa is okay. She thinks that maybe people just don’t get Lexa. She thinks that maybe Lexa doesn’t want people to get her. But Clarke kind of needs to get Lexa. She needs to be able to understand certain things about her because they’re stuck together for the next year.

 

“Yeah, she was reading,” Clarke says like that’s the end of the conversation.

 

She doesn’t mention the fact that Lexa wasn’t stiff and standoffish like she normally is. She doesn’t tell them how Lexa didn’t do anything to prove how smart or better than them she is. She doesn’t tell them how Lexa brought her coffee and a peach scone.

 

She can’t really believe it herself, so why should they?

 

Clarke reaches forward to grab the bread roll next to her plate and begins to butter it.

 

“She’s okay,” she comments.

 

Raven and Octavia stare at her for the whole of dinner. They stay there until it’s time for closing and Clarke never spots Lexa arrive to get food.

 

Her friends drag her back to their room where they ply her with a shot of the brandy Raven stole from her grandpa’s kitchen. It’s gross and they give her a beer when she complains before forcing her to watch trashy TV. Clarke isn’t feeling it and instead she feels a discomfort she’s never experienced before. She doesn’t drink most of the beer and excuses herself early.

 

Instead of going back to her room, she finds her keys in her back pocket and heads to her car. She takes the ten minute journey all the way to the nearest grocery store and reminds herself that she probably shouldn’t be keeping a small fortune in her glove compartment when she grabs a hundred dollar bill from inside. She grabs a cart and zooms her way down the aisles, filling it with the things she might need.

 

She heads for the hot counter and thinks about Lexa. She wonders if she skipped dinner and picks up a plate of mac and cheese before asking for some chicken tenders too. It’s the ultimate kid dinner and she feels a little embarrassed about it as she heads to go get a fuckton of ramen and cookies. She gets candy and sodas of all different kinds and makes herself feel less guilty about the sheer amount of sugar by purchasing a tea sampler and a bag of apples.

 

She barely has enough to pay for all the crap she’s bought and she shoves it all in the trunk of her car before driving back to school. She doesn’t know how she manages to carry everything up to her room. She’s ready to groan when she gets inside but stops when she realizes that Lexa’s asleep with her face buried into her book. She doesn’t look like she’s moved since Clarke left.

 

Clarke steps over to her bed without really thinking about what she’s doing. She sits in the small space left behind Lexa’s knees and rests her hand on Lexa’s shoulder to shake her awake.

 

Lexa startles and looks terrified when her eyes open to dart around the room. She stops when she sees Clarke sitting beside her, taking a steadying breath before burying her face into her pillow.

 

“Did you eat?” Clarke asks.

 

Lexa frowns and looks at her curiously. Clarke glances over to where one and a half of the blueberry muffins still sit in the bakery box. She clicks her tongue and rolls her eyes before stepping over to the small sea of grocery bags by the door. She takes out the container of mac and cheese and chicken tenders before stepping back over to Lexa and thrusting it at her.

 

“Dinner,” she tells her. Lexa frowns and looks ready to refuse her but Clarke just drops the container on her desk and points to it. “You need to eat.”

 

Lexa still doesn’t say anything but she sits up and watches curiously as Clarke moves the grocery bags over to the deep window ledge and starts piling everything there. When Clarke turns around, Lexa’s sat at the desk, looking into the container. Clarke hands her a bottle of water and a plastic knife and fork. Lexa takes them and smiles gratefully.

 

“You didn’t have to—”

 

Clarke shuts her up with an eye roll and a half smirk.

 

“Eat, Lexa,” she instructs and Lexa’s sweet little half-smirk is more than enough thanks. Her happy little satisfied noises make Clarke smile and she laughs at her softly as Lexa does the cutest little wiggle in her chair. She begins to wonder if anyone has ever seen this version of Lexa and it’s almost too much at once. “We need to get my fridge out of storage,” she says, quickly changing the subject before she does or says something stupid. Lexa gives her a questioning hum at the comment and Clarke turns to her pointedly. “I can’t live without milk.”

 

Lexa smiles and covers her mouth.

 

“Do you need it for all those cookies?” she teases.

 

Clarke gives her a half-assed glare until Lexa’s pleased smirk makes her smile instead.

 

“Don’t hate,” Clarke says. “Or I won’t share.”

 

//

 

Lexa wakes up early for her first Politics and Sexuality class and groans as softly as she can. There’s still a small cluster of grocery bags covering their floor and she glances over at Clarke as she remembers the night before. One of Clarke’s arms is thrown off the side of her bed and one of her bare legs pokes out the bottom of her blankets.

 

Lexa smiles at her and gathers her things to get ready for the day. She knows that Clarke doesn’t have class until this afternoon. Clarke made her pin a copy of her schedule to the wall by the door so they both know when the room will be empty. Lexa’s sure it’s so she knows when she can bring people back, but she tries not to think about that and gathers the books she needs off her shelf instead.

 

She slips them into her bag and leaves silently.

 

She goes to class and listens as her professors tell her about what they’re going to be doing this semester. She tries to hold back on her questioning because she knows that it annoys some people. She knows what people say about her. She knows the nicknames they’ve given her. She writes notes instead and approaches the professor after class to ask her all the things she wants to know.

 

She goes to the dining hall and gets herself a sandwich to take back to her dorm.

 

Clarke isn’t there but the room has been tidied and moved around. There’s a fridge in the corner and the grocery bags have been put away. The room smells vaguely of smoke and air freshener. Clarke’s hung a dry erase board on the wall and on it is a note.

 

Lexa

Got the fridge from storage. Feel free to use or take whatever. See you after class! - Clarke

 

Lexa opens the fridge to find it stocked full to the brim except for the empty bottom shelf. Lexa assumes it’s for her because there’s some cans of soda left in a box shoved on Clarke’s bookcase that easily could have fit there.

 

She doesn’t see Clarke after class. She doesn’t see her the whole evening and she goes for dinner and doesn’t see her there either. She hears some girls talking about there being another frat party at one of the neighboring colleges. She assumes that’s where Clarke is and goes to bed.

 

She’s woken up at 2am by something hitting her bedroom door. She’s ready to get up and open it when she hears muffled giggling. She rolls her eyes and waits for Raven and Octavia to start making a ruckus but instead she hears the low rumble of a male voice. It’s punctuated by the unmistakable sounds of kissing and Lexa lets her stomach pull uncomfortably as she rolls onto her side and buries her face in her pillow.

 

“Finn, I’m drunk,” Clarke slurs and Lexa squeezes her eyes closed to try and ignore it. “Finn… Finn… I’m drunk and you shouldn’t be here and I really, really shouldn’t have let…” Two giggles. “Well, you know…”

 

Lexa hears a thud against the door again and she winces a little when Clarke lets out a soft, airy moan.

 

“Fuck, I’m so drunk…” Clarke sighs and then, almost as if she’s just realized the truth in her words, a hand rattles the door handle. “No, get out of here,” Clarke instructs. “My roommate will be asleep. So nope.”

 

Lexa becomes breathless with relief. The guy laughs and there’s another of Clarke’s thick giggles before the door opens and a body slips inside. Clarke stops somewhere behind her and Lexa tries to keep her breathing steady as Clarke loiters by her bed.

 

“Lexa?” she whispers.

 

Lexa keeps her eyes closed and doesn’t say anything.

 

Clarke falls into bed twenty minutes later and her breathing evens out quickly.

 

Lexa barely sleeps.

 

//

 

Clarke wakes up most mornings to an empty dorm room and usually comes back to a sleeping roommate. She hasn’t actually spoken to Lexa in weeks other than passing random messages via the dry erase board when something comes up.

 

She feels like Lexa’s avoiding her but she also feels like Lexa is being the same person she knew last year. She’s driven and obsessed with schoolwork. She doesn’t care about much else and it makes Clarke feel strange that she’s living with a person like that. She doesn’t know what to think about her.

 

School is just as stressful and annoying as last year and Clarke hates that she’s falling back into old habits. She hates that she follows Octavia and Raven to parties at Lincoln’s frat house and always ends up sleeping with Finn. She promised herself she wouldn’t do that anymore but somehow she keeps getting stupidly drunk and doing it anyway. She hates that she keeps doing it sober too, especially when he looks at her like she’s more than what she is. She doesn’t want to be his girlfriend. Not after last year.

 

Letting him into her dorm room is probably a big mistake but that’s what she does one Thursday morning in late September. Lexa’s class doesn’t finish until three and she probably won’t come back anyway. Clarke doesn’t have class until one but when Finn calls her at ten and asks her to let him in, she does it without thinking.

 

“You have to go,” she tells him at 12:15. “I have class and my roommate will be back soon.”

 

He’s still naked in her bed and she shoves him out onto the cold floor ten minutes later when he doesn’t get up. He’s pulling on his clothes and Clarke’s still laid naked on her front with a blanket thrown over her bottom half when the door opens.

 

Lexa freezes when she sees Finn. Clarke just feels her entire body burn with embarrassment and panic. Her face falls and she buries it in her pillow as Finn finishes pulling on his sweater and finds his shoes. He squeezes her shoulder and utters a whispered goodbye before the door clicks open and closed. When Clarke looks up, Lexa’s still by the door.

 

It makes Clarke feel guiltier than she possibly should. “Sorry,” she whispers, picking at a loose thread of her pillow. “I didn’t think—”

 

Lexa jolts at the words and shakes her head, rushing to busy herself around the room.

 

“It’s fine,” she cuts through Clarke’s words. She throws her bag onto her bed and takes off her jacket. She throws books onto her bed and uselessly picks up others from the shelf but never actually does anything with them. “It’s my fault. My class was cancelled and I thought that you’d be at yours by now. You usually go for lunch first, so…”

 

She trails off and shakes her head and the whole thing makes Clarke feel weird.

 

She frowns when Lexa suddenly picks up her bag and jacket and heads towards the door. “I’ll go,” she mumbles. “I’ve gotta go…”

 

She leaves without another word and Clarke feels like her insides are squeezing and burning at the same time. She watches with red cheeks and a softened expression at the spot Lexa had occupied. She feels bad and she doesn’t understand why. She doesn’t understand the thick, churning sensation in her stomach. It’s guilt, she knows, but she can’t handle its strength and furiousness.

 

When she goes to the frat house later that evening, she pushes Finn away when he sidles up to her and tries to kiss her neck. He looks at her in confusion but she just shakes her head and tells him it’s not happening. He looks pissed and she’s pretty sure she sees him wander off to find another girl to pin against a wall. Instead of caring, Clarke drinks a ridiculous amount and then goes home by herself without telling anyone.

 

Lexa is asleep when she gets back and Clarke’s drunk and confused by that. Lexa’s wearing a soft white t-shirt with a stain on the shoulder as she lies cuddled on her front. Her fist is tucked under her chin and Clarke catches sight of the tattoo on her arm. It surprises her every time she sees it and the urge to trace her fingers over the pattern makes her feel dizzier than the alcohol.

 

She’s still staring at Lexa an hour later when Lexa stirs and turns over. Green eyes flutter open and then widen when they find Clarke sitting on the end of her bed staring into space.

 

“I’m really drunk,” Clarke whispers.

 

Lexa leans up on her elbows and frowns gently. She still doesn’t say anything.

 

Clarke swallows thickly. She thinks she might puke soon.

 

“I’m sorry about Finn,” she says because that’s all she’s wanted to say all day. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

 

Lexa shakes her head. “It’s fine.”

 

Clarke closes her eyes to stop the room from spinning. “It’s not, though,” she mumbles. “It’s not fine. I made you uncomfortable and this is your room, too. It’s not fair—It’s not fair… I don’t…”

 

When she opens her eyes, Lexa’s standing in front of her, looking worried. She wears blue plaid pajama pants and a pair of big, turtle shell glasses that make her eyes look bigger and more beautiful than usual. Clarke gets stuck for a second and doesn’t know what’s happening when Lexa stares at her.

 

“Clarke, you’re drunk,” she whispers. “You should go to sleep.”

 

Clarke purses her lip and swallows against her dry throat. “I probably won’t remember this conversation in the morning,” she tells her, ignoring her words. “I drank tequila. Tequila makes me forget.”

 

Lexa softens and nods. “That’s okay.”

 

Her sincerity is ruined when Clarke darts up and heads towards the bathroom. Lexa moves out the way and lets her by, watching her carefully as she opens the door and hovers by the sink.

 

“I’m gonna puke,” she mumbles and proves that seconds later when she darts over to the toilet bowl. She heaves the liquid contents of her stomach into it and shudders when she feels cold fingers tugging the hair from her face. Lexa piles all of her hair onto her head before snagging the tie from around Clarke’s wrist and fixing it in place. She continues to sweep wispy strands of it from Clarke’s cheeks and squeezes her shoulder as Clarke groans pathetically.

 

She disappears for a second and returns with a cold bottle of water. She presses it against the back of Clarke’s neck and Clarke hums in appreciation before gathering the energy to lean back and take a sip of it.

 

“Whole thing,” Lexa mumbles. Clarke looks at her and does as she’s told. “Better?”

 

She nods and drinks more, relishing the cold liquid as it quenches the thirst she hadn’t even realized. “Sorry.”

 

Lexa pushes more hair from her face. “It’s okay,” she whispers. “We should get you to bed, though.”

 

Clarke nods and stumbles back into their room. She starts undressing right there and Lexa just follows her as she strips out of her jeans and collapses onto her bed. She offers her the blankets and Clarke takes them happily.

 

“Wake me up if you feel sick again,” Lexa says as she sets the bottle of water at her bedside.

 

Clarke nods. “I’m okay,” she breathes and it’s the last thing she does before she falls asleep.

 

When she wakes up, there’s a fresh bottle of water on her nightstand and some painkillers beside it.

 

She doesn’t remember what happened but she doesn’t want to think about it.

 

//

 

She doesn’t know why she decides to go back to their dorm room in the middle of the day for the first time in weeks. She just does it automatically without thinking about it. Her feet move across campus and she lets them instead of forcing them to the library like normal.

 

She knows that Clarke’s going to be there because she doesn’t have classes on Friday afternoons. Lexa knows that Octavia and Raven do. She knows that Clarke usually catches up on reading and writing papers instead. Her side of the room is usually a mess of books and stuff when Lexa gets back from the library and Clarke’s already left for the night.

 

Today, however, Clarke is curled up in a ball facing the wall and Lexa winces a little when she accidentally closes the door too loudly and makes her jump.

 

“Sorry,” she mumbles when Clarke turns over to look at her. She looks surprised and frowns and Lexa ignores it like it’s nothing. “How are you feeling?”

 

Clarke groans and rolls over to bury her face in her covers. Despite the fact that Clarke looks pale and sickly, Lexa notices that she managed to change her sheets. The dirty ones tumble out over the top of her laundry hamper.

 

“Whatever I drunkenly did last night,” Clarke grumbles. “I can only apologize. I’m a dick when I’m drunk.”

 

Lexa laughs at that and kicks off her boots before setting them at the end of her bed. “They don’t call you Party Girl Griffin for nothing.”

 

“Ugh,” Clarke grunts and rolls over to give Lexa an unimpressed glance. “That’s a fucking stupid nickname. Especially when I’m the one who’s usually cutting everyone else off. Raven says I’m the ‘mom-friend’.”

 

Lexa smiles. “That’s cute.”

 

“It’s what happens when your mom is a doctor,” Clarke grumbles and rolls back into the pillows. “Also, if you were the person who left the water and painkillers for me… thank you but they’re not working.”

 

Lexa stands up and heads over to the fridge. “You need caffeine and grease.”

 

“I thought you didn’t drink,” Clarke gives her a smirk like she’s caught her and Lexa immediately rolls her eyes before throwing her a diet coke.

 

“You’re not the only mom-friend here, Griffin,” she teases. “But regardless of that fact, just because I don’t drink now doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fair share of hangovers in the past.”

 

Clarke looks at her dubiously. “Really?”

 

Lexa laughs. “No, not really. I’ve had like one and that was enough for me. Shall we order pizza?”

 

Clarke looks at her with such appreciation that it makes Lexa giggle nervously. She shrugs and Clarke forces herself onto her side to stare at her.

 

“If you carry on like this,” she tells her. “You might just end up the best roommate I’ve ever had.”

 

Lexa rolls her eyes and reaches for her laptop. She searches through pizza menus as Clarke yells out odd requests from across the room. She convinces her to take advantage of the buy four get one free offer and has never rolled her eyes so much as Clarke flails around searching for her phone to invite Octavia and Raven over.

 

They arrive after the pizza does and Raven looks at Lexa in confusion.

 

“I didn’t think you’d eat pizza,” she comments. “I had you down as more of a salad and soups kinda gal.”

 

Lexa fixes her with the same stern stare she reserves for everyone else. She’s about to speak when Clarke snorts and throws a pillow at the pair of them.

 

“Lexa is a junk food junkie,” she tells them happily. “Don’t be fooled.”

 

Raven looks impressed and Octavia looks confused. Lexa eats more than her fair share of pizza and is pretty much a spare part to the conversation going on around her. She catches Clarke’s gaze when Raven mentions how someone called Bellamy mentioned that Finn was sleeping with someone, that they both dodged a bullet by turning him down, but doesn’t say anything off of Clarke’s panicked look.

 

She grabs a book instead and observes the scene from afar. There are still two and a half pizzas stacked atop each other on their window ledge and Lexa isn’t surprised when Octavia asks Clarke if she wants to go to a party. Clarke nods and goes to the bathroom to change out of her pajamas while Octavia and Raven head out to go find another of their friends.

 

“I’ll be quiet,” Clarke says when she comes out of the bathroom. “When I come back.”

 

Lexa smiles at her. “It’s fine. It’s Friday night. I get it.”

 

Clarke pauses and smiles gratefully. She looks like she wants to say something but shakes her head instead and reaches for the leather jacket that hangs on her desk chair.

 

“Have a good night,” Clarke says as she reaches for the door handle.

 

Lexa nods and doesn’t plan to say anything but she still calls out Clarke’s name to stop her from leaving. Clarke looks back at her in quiet confusion.

 

Lexa shrugs. “Be safe.”

 

Clarke’s face softens as she nods but Lexa still ends up holding back her hair six hours later when she comes back alone and without her jacket. She stinks of rum and sex and Lexa tries not to think about that as Clarke rolls around on the bathroom floor trying to pull off her shoes.

 

“I’m such a mess,” she whispers when Lexa’s encouraging her to change out of her puke-stained blouse. She’s already shimmied out of her jeans and Lexa urges her hands to the buttons of her blouse when Clarke just lies there uselessly. “I’m such a fucking mess.”

 

Lexa’s brain runs through a thousand different scenarios and thoughts before she grits her jaw and shakes her head. Clarke looks up at her sleepily and Lexa gives a look before reaching for her buttons.

 

“You’re gonna make your sheets gross,” she says in explanation. “You only changed them today.”

 

Clarke nods and Lexa sighs in relief when she moves her hands aside to let Lexa remove the shirt from her body. There are bruises all over her skin and Lexa tries to ignore them and the perfect curves of her body as she finds her a long t-shirt and some warm socks.

 

She’s about to head back to bed when Clarke reaches for her hand and stops her.

 

“You’re so nice to me when you don’t have to be,” Clarke mumbles and her thumb strokes over Lexa’s pulse like she’s checking it before her eyes flutter closed.

 

Lexa pushes her wavy blonde hair from her face and sighs.

 

//  

 

Her mother calls her one night in mid-October and Clarke breathes out unsteadily because it’s almost one in the morning.

 

But then, that’s her mother really… never taking anything other than her own thoughts and feelings into consideration when making a decision. It never used to be this way and Clarke hates how everything’s turned out. She hates that she never came home one day in June and her mother is only just calling her now in October.

 

“Mom. Time difference,” is the first thing she says when she answers the phone, turning to her side and talking quietly so she doesn’t wake Lexa.

 

Her mom chuckles softly and it drives Clarke crazy. “ER night shift,” she says like that’s perfect explanation. “How are you?”

 

“Fine.”

 

“Clarke,” her mother warns.

 

Clarke scoffs. “I was asleep, Mom. What do you expect? I have class in the morning.”

 

The line muffles and Clarke guesses her mom is going somewhere more private where she can better effectively tear her down. It’s an old routine, one that’s been going on for years now.

 

“Clarke, I expect you to talk to me when I call you,” her mother says and it’s like she’s in her own little world, her own little bubble, where nothing other than her life and the hospital exists. “I’m your mom. I pay for your education. I expect to know how you’re doing. Even if I don’t understand why you want to do an Art History degree, I expect to know how you are.”

 

“But you can’t do that in the middle of the day?”

 

“Clarke.”

 

“Fine. Whatever,” Clarke breathes out. “What do you wanna know?”

 

Her mother hums in annoyance. “How are your classes?”

 

Clarke shakes her head. “They’re fine. Amazing. Professors are great. I’m getting good grades. Next?”

 

“Do you have a roommate this year or did they give you a single?”

 

Clarke shakes her head and rolls her eyes. It’s times like this when she wishes her mom was still a normal mother but she isn’t. If her mom were a normal mother, she’d be able to tell her that her roommate is great. She’s wonderful, but she’s not what Clarke expected. Her roommate blows hot and cold. She’s stern but she’s also soft. Her roommate can’t stand to be near her so much that she spends ninety percent of her time in the library. Her roommate looks at her sometimes and Clarke is never sure if they’re going to kill or kiss each other. Her roommate is the most confusing person she’s ever met but all Clarke wants to do is figure her out.

 

If her mom were still a normal, caring mom, she’d be able to talk to her about all these things she doesn’t understand. Her mom would be able to help her.

 

Except her mom can’t even help herself.

 

“There’s no singles available until we’re juniors,” she says instead. “I’m in a double. I have a roommate and her name is Lexa. She’s… she’s really nice. Smart.”

 

Her mother doesn’t say anything in response to that and Clarke breathes unsteadily down the phone, trying not to get angry or upset.

 

“Do you have enough money?” her mom asks after a while and Clarke shakes her head to force away the feelings she can’t ever seem to stop.

 

This is why they haven’t spoke since June.

 

“Yeah, mom,” she grits out. “I’ve got more than enough money.”

 

Her mother doesn’t notice the hurt or the anger in her voice, doesn’t notice the thick ache of tears that soak her words. Instead she makes a disinterested noise and leaves the line silent with all the things they never say anymore. The line is quiet for a long time until Clarke hears the sounds of the hospital intercom.

 

“Gotta go,” her mom says. “Bye, hon.”

 

The line clicks off before Clarke can respond. It forces the tears up her throat and she buries her head in her pillow to stave them off. Clarke wants to do something drastic like throw her phone across the room or punch a wall. She bites the fabric of her pillow before screaming loudly into it instead. It’s wet with tears when she pulls back, aching and gasping and she punches the spot before turning over to return her phone to her nightstand.

 

Green eyes stare quietly over at her from across the room, polite and understanding. Lexa’s fist is propped under her chin and she watches Clarke carefully before speaking.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

Clarke nods and angrily wipes the tears from her cheeks.

 

“I’m fine,” she whispers and turns away from her quickly.

 

She doesn’t need her pity.

 

 

Chapter Text

Clarke seems unsettled and Lexa hates that it bothers her so much.

 

She’s not been the same since Lexa woke up to her talking to her mom on the phone at one in the morning. She leaves the room when Lexa arrives from class or she shoves earphones in and disappears into a world of her own. Her face is always downturned unless she’s with her friends and Lexa wonders if she intruded too much by asking her if she was okay. She wonders if she overstepped assuming that something might be wrong.

 

It really doesn’t help that Clarke has come back to their room late and drunk almost every night for the past week and a half. Sometimes she lets Lexa help her but other times she just shrugs her off and changes out of her jeans to fall into bed. The times when she does let her help are the times when she’s too far gone to care.

 

It happens more frequently than not. Lexa hates that Octavia and Raven just dump her in her room and hope for the best. She hates that Clarke only comes back on her own when she’s had enough to drink that it’s dangerous.

 

There’s only one night that really scares her.

 

It’s about two and a half weeks after the phone call and Lexa watches her quietly as she takes herself to the bathroom. She hears the toilet flush and the faucet start to run. She waits for Clarke to reemerge for a while but she doesn’t. She expects for the shower to turn on, because Clarke’s done that before, but it doesn’t. It isn’t until she hears a crash and a thud that she panics. She rushes for the bathroom door and calls Clarke’s name over and over again. She decides she doesn’t care what happens when Clarke doesn’t respond. She opens the door and finds Clarke sprawled out on the bathroom floor.

 

“Clarke,” Lexa says, approaching her carefully. There’s a dumb smile on her face and Lexa kneels down beside her before checking her over. “I heard a crash.”

 

Clarke chuckles. “I slipped.”

 

Lexa pushes her hair from her eyes because it’s habit at this point. It’s the only thing she feels comfortable enough to do. “You should be more careful.”

 

Clarke gives her a look. “We can’t all be as sensible and put together as you.”

 

Lexa ignores the comment and reminds herself that drunk people say things they don’t mean. “You’re going to hurt yourself.”

 

Clarke starts chuckling and throws her arms out dramatically. Lexa catches them as Clarke almost hits her with a stray palm. “I drink to numb the pain!” she hollers and only laughs harder when Lexa presses a hand to her mouth. “You’re so serious!”

 

“You need to go to bed,” Lexa tells her, panicked and quiet. She’s scared because tonight isn’t like other nights where Clarke grumps around until she falls asleep. Lexa knows there’s something wrong. “You need to sleep it off.”

 

Clarke’s head rolls as she turns to her with a sudden look of anguish. “But I’ll dream about him.”

 

Lexa frowns in confusion and starts to tidy all the things Clarke’s knocked over to avoid the discomfort she feels. “Who? Your boyfriend?”

 

Clarke shakes her head and swallows dryly. Her jaw quivers when Lexa watches her. “My dad,” she whispers. “He died four years ago today.”

 

Lexa stops fussing and can’t think of anything else to do than reach up and push the hair from Clarke’s eyes again. She hates how fucking blue they are when she’s like this.

 

“I miss him, Lexa,” she whispers softly. She nods her head and her eyes are glassier from more than alcohol. “I miss my mom, too. She—she disappeared. Changed. Broke. I don’t know. I don’t know. She drinks a lot, too.”

 

“Clarke…” Lexa whispers and she wants to say something. She wants to tell Clarke that she understands what it’s like to miss something, to miss someone who isn’t here anymore. She wants to explain so many things but she knows that Clarke probably doesn’t want to listen.

 

Clarke closes her eyes and when she looks up, Lexa’s sure she’s never looked at her with such clear and soft eyes. Her jaw quivers and she manages to prop herself up a little so that Lexa can help her to sit up and lean against the bathroom cabinets.

 

“I’m tired of acting brave,” she whispers now that she’s closer. “Everyone thinks that my life is perfect and it’s not. It’s not. I’m tired, Lexa.”

 

Lexa’s thumb wipes away the first tear that escapes down the apple of her cheek and nods in understanding. “Me too.”

 

Arms find their way around her shoulders without another word. Lexa sighs at the weight and feel of them as Clarke sinks into her arms. She falls into the embrace without thinking and grits her jaw against the onslaught of things she doesn’t want to feel. Clarke snuggles softly into her neck and Lexa’s hand finds the back of her head without even really thinking about it. She lets Clarke find the comfort that she needs until she pulls back and wipes her face.

 

Lexa decides to act like the last five minutes never happened. “Ready for bed?”

 

Clarke shakes her head and smiles. “I think I need to puke first.”

 

Lexa reaches out to push her hair back behind her ear. “I’ll wait with you.”

 

“You don’t have to,” Clarke mumbles and the expression that crosses her face tells Lexa she won’t be waiting long.

 

She shakes her head. “I’ll wait anyway.”

 

Clarke’s expression softens and Lexa busies herself finding a hair tie and a bottle of water. When Clarke finally vomits, Lexa rubs calming circles into her back and tries not to think about the fact that Clarke comfortingly holds onto her bare ankle as she leans over her. She helps Clarke wipe her face, puts toothpaste on her toothbrush, and hands her a cold bottle of water. Clarke strips down to her underwear right in front of her and it’s weird that it’s not weird. She takes the shirt from Lexa’s hands and lets Lexa pull the covers over her.

 

She thinks that Clarke’s asleep, her hands reaching for the now-cold covers of her own bed, when Clarke speaks again.

 

“Lexa?” she whispers.

 

Lexa stops and waits for her. She catches sight of her, laid facing the wall, curled into a ball.

 

“Thank you,” Clarke breathes and Lexa thinks that she might be crying again.

 

“You’re welcome,” she whispers back. And then— “I’m right here.”

 

Clarke nods and snuggles down under the covers.

 

“I know,” she breathes.

 

She sounds peaceful.

 

//

 

She rolls off of Finn and instantly reaches for her bra. She feels his smug smile pressed against the back of her shoulder and gets up to shrug him off.

 

“That was the last time,” she tells him. It’s not the first time she’s told him this and he looks at her with smug disbelief. It drives her crazy—makes her mad—and she shakes her head and lets the color rise in her cheeks instead releasing the anger. “I mean it,” she says warningly as she pulls her jeans on over the underwear that she’s pretty sure is inside out. “Last time.”

 

Finn shakes his head and smirks. “You want me.”

 

Clarke rolls her eyes and steps up closer to the bed as she reaches for her shirt. “I want to be fucked.”

 

“Yeah, but you always come back to me,” he reminds her, his smirk growing. His face softens and he looks at her in a way that she’s sure is supposed to be romantic. “You want me, Clarke.”

 

She pushes him back when he tries to reach for her again, palm flat and firm against his chest as she shakes her head. “I come back to you because I’m hard to please and too lazy to teach someone else how to make me come.” He narrows his eyes at her and she smiles kindly. “I’m here today because I told my mother that I’d go home for the Thanksgiving and I don’t think I’ll be able to cope without relieving some stress first.”

 

“You can make all the excuses you want,” he quips and she reaches for her coat in favor of responding to him.

 

She’s wrapping her scarf around her neck when she reluctantly looks at him.

 

“Last time,” she tells him. “I can’t keep doing this.”

 

Finn gives her a smile and pulls her down by her scarf to kiss her quickly. She turns her head so that he only gets her cheek. “I’ll see you next week.”

 

She doesn’t respond but there’s a part of her that thinks maybe.

 

It depends how messed up her trip home is. She told Finn that she agreed to go home, but that’s not the truth. She’d been arranging to go home with Octavia and her brother for the holidays, but her mother had emailed her early last week with little more than a flight reservation. Clarke had called her cursing and her mother had pretty much threatened to cut her off if she didn’t come home. She was already dreading it.

 

She takes a slow drive back to campus via the grocery store and picks up a ton of crappy food before heading to the Chinese take-out place. She orders her normal order and then orders what she knows Lexa likes too. She doesn’t realize she’s done it until they hand her the huge bag of food. It catches her completely off-guard and she’s in a daze the entire way back to her room. She’s glad that Lexa’s there, laying upside down on her bed, watching a movie on her laptop with her earphones in. She’s wearing her glasses and Clarke alerts Lexa to her presence by pushing them further up her nose.

 

Her eyes go cross-eyed cutely and she reaches to take her earphones out. She glances up at Clarke and there’s a smile that half tugs at her lips before it disappears.

 

“What’s up?”

 

Clarke shakes the bag of take-out at her. “Dinner.”

 

“Chinese?” Lexa asks. “I thought Friday nights were party nights. I was about to go down to the dining hall.”

 

Clarke ignores her and takes the containers out of the bag. She sets them on Lexa’s desk instead of her own because it was too cluttered and messy with crap before she left. Except, when she glances at it now, it’s not. Everything’s tidy and placed into piles. Her books are organized into the order that she’ll need them. Her laptop sits in the middle on charge instead of shoved on the floor under her bed. Her school backpack hangs off the back of her desk chair. It’s then that Clarke also notices that her bed has been made and her trashcan has been emptied. Her side of the room is tidier than she could ever make it herself.

 

Lexa looks away sheepishly when Clarke glances over at her.

 

She chooses not to mention it and answers Lexa’s question instead.

 

“Um, the guys whose frat house we go to have some dinner thing with their professors tonight so there’s no party,” Clarke tells her. “Plus, Raven is sick with a cold and Octavia has a project due, so… They bailed.”

 

Lexa’s face changes and she sits up stiffly, looking away from Clarke.

 

“Sorry you got left with my company, then,” she whispers.

 

Clarke feels her stomach drop before she shakes her head. “I’d already told them I was staying in tonight.” Lexa glances up at her timidly but Clarke just busies herself with the food. “I got you that chicken thing you like.”

 

Lexa takes the container quietly and holds it in her hands until Clarke falls to sit on her bed beside her.

 

“What were you watching?”

 

Lexa swallows. “A documentary for class.”

 

Clarke unsnaps her chopsticks and hands Lexa a pair of her own. “Can I watch with you?” she asks as she gets comfy anyway. Lexa nods and sets her laptop on the desk where they both can see. She restarts the whole entire thing from the beginning and then sits uncomfortably back on her bed beside Clarke. When Clarke sees the name of the documentary, she chuckles. “Is this documentary about sex?”

 

When she turns to her side, she finds Lexa rolling her eyes. “Are you going to be a grown up, Griffin?” she asks. “Or shall I find some cartoons for you to watch?”

 

Clarke smirks and lets the sudden joy of sitting beside her roommate overwhelm her. She hasn’t felt this at ease all day, regardless of what she spent most of it doing.

 

“I’ll be good,” she giggles as she shoves her mouth full of lo mien.

 

Lexa looks at her dubiously until Clarke nudges their shoulders together and urges her to look at the screen. She has that half-amused smile on her face and Clarke wishes she could see it more often. She likes it when Lexa’s playful. She thinks that Lexa’s more fun than she’ll ever know, than anyone will ever know. She’s glad she gets to enjoy these moments when no one else is looking. She likes that no one else knows Lexa can be like this.

 

It overwhelms her in a way that makes it difficult to breathe.

 

“Watch your dirty documentary, Woods,” she whispers, glad that Lexa turns away with a roll of her eyes.

 

Lexa bites her bottom lip and quietly eats beside her. The documentary is actually weirdly riveting and informative and Lexa tells her to wait for the really shocking parts and holds her food when she goes to get a drink for them both. It’s calming and she can tell when they get to the part Lexa got to because she goes quiet and sets her food aside to pay full attention. Clarke finds herself glancing at Lexa more than she does the screen, and it’s endearing how Lexa’s brow furrows, her jaw sets and her glasses slip down her nose.

 

Clarke can’t stop herself from pushing them back up her nose when the documentary finishes and Lexa looks at her carefully before reaching for her food again. She gets up to find a fork and Clarke watches her move around the room with ease before breaking the silence.

 

“Where are you heading for the holidays?” she asks innocently. She’s sure that Lexa’s got some big important family somewhere who will have awesome holiday parties and a lovely family dinner.

 

Instead, Lexa’s back stiffens and she stops where she is. She stands stock still for a moment before busying herself finding something else to watch. She doesn’t say anything until the opening credits of White Christmas are playing on the screen and settles back on the bed, farther away from Clarke than before.

 

“Um,” she starts. “I’m actually staying here.”

 

That surprises Clarke and she doesn’t understand why. She watches Lexa shift awkwardly for a moment and it occurs to her, for the first time since she walked through that door and discovered who her roommate was, that she doesn’t really know all that much about the girl she’s been living with. It also occurs to her, for about the millionth time, that she really wants to know more about her… She just doesn’t know how to ask.

 

“That’s cool,” she whispers. Lexa’s cheeks still turn pink and her body becomes more awkward than Clarke ever remembers it being. It’s like she doesn’t know how to control her own limbs. “I’ll be gone Tuesday night through to Friday night, so… You can go wild with the place to yourself.”

 

Lexa nods and they don’t say anything else.

 

Clarke still watches her. She still feels happy.

 

Lexa mouths all the words to every song in the movie.

 

//

 

Clarke wakes her up with a hand to the shoulder.

 

Lexa stirs with sleepy confusion until she opens her eyes and finds her, sitting on the edge of the bed. She’s so used to Clarke waking her up with a ruckus and the stench of rum that it’s slightly jarring to see her sitting there bundled up in her coat and hat with a bag in her lap.

 

“Sorry,” she whispers softly. “I didn’t want to wake you, but… Well, you’ve been napping for about four hours now and you should eat dinner—” She gestures to Lexa’s desk and Lexa feels her insides burn when she sees the container of mac and cheese and chicken tenders sitting there. “And because I’m heading to the airport now. I wanted to say goodbye.”

 

Lexa sits up and blinks away the sleep. She can barely see and she jolts when Clarke leans over to her nightstand to grab her glasses and slip them up her nose. She was sure she’d been wearing them before she went to sleep.

 

“Have a safe flight,” she mumbles brushing a hand over her face to wake herself up. “Enjoy the sunshine.”

 

Clarke smiles and, when Lexa glances down, she doesn’t understand the hand pressed against her wrist, stroking her pulse. She doesn’t understand why it doesn’t feel out of place.

 

“Can I get a hug?” Clarke asks. Her voice is playful but there’s something in her tone, something similar and reminiscent of a night many weeks ago, which makes Lexa think that this is something Clarke needs.

 

She nods and sleepily reaches for Clarke, not prepared for the way that Clarke clings to her. She’s warm and cold at the same time and Lexa’s sleepiness is still heavy in her bones as Clarke holds her for much longer than necessary.

 

“Be good,” Clarke whispers as she pulls back, pushing the glasses up Lexa’s nose before she gets off the bed.

 

Lexa looks up at her and watches as she gathers the small carry-on bag and her school backpack into her arms. Clarke smiles up at her when she sees her watching.

 

“You too, Griffin,” she mumbles and watches as Clarke leaves.

 

The room seems quieter than ever before after she’s gone. It’s probably because she knows she’s the only person left on this floor. She puts a movie on loud and quietly eats the dinner Clarke left for her. It’s boring, and she falls asleep watching Netflix only to wake up early the next morning to a text from Clarke.

 

It’s the first text that they’ve exchanged that hasn’t been something school-related.

 

It’s raining, is all the message says.

 

Lexa doesn’t respond. She doesn’t know how to do this. She doesn’t know if she wants to.

 

She goes back to sleep instead and only wakes up when she’s hungry.

 

//

 

Clarke comes home for the first time in months to an empty house.

 

There’s a note on the fridge from their maid that says her mother will be at work until Wednesday evening. Clarke rolls her eyes and wanders up to her bedroom to find it almost exactly the way she left it.

 

It’s mostly bare.

 

Clarke moved out most of her things when she left for college. Her mom threw out the rest of the art stuff in a drunken fit a year and a half ago. She’d given her the money to replace it all but Clarke had spent it on rum, condoms, and ice cream for her friends. All that’s left in the room now is her furniture, a TV and the medical textbooks her mother had kept on her bookcase.

 

The dresser is empty of her clothes because Clarke had held a ceremonial burning of all her old clothes during last Spring break after another fight with her mother. It had been shortly after she’d switched majors from Biology to Art History. She figured she didn’t need the smart clothes her mother had forced her to buy if she wasn’t going to be a doctor anymore. Her mother didn’t talk to her for the rest of the time she was home after that.

 

She turns on the TV and falls asleep watching infomercials in her underwear. She doesn’t wake up until the afternoon when the maid brings her lunch and a cup of coffee before going home. She doesn’t leave her room until her mother comes thundering up the stairs and wanders in without knocking.

 

“Honey, you’re here,” she says in lieu of a greeting.

 

Clarke raises her eyebrows and eats another chip from the bag sat beside her. “Blackmail works, huh?”

 

Her mother purses her lips. “Still. I didn’t expect you to actually…”

 

“Come back?” Clarke asks darkly. “Listen to you? You said you’d cut me off if I didn’t and I actually want this degree, so…”

 

Her mother folds her arms and watches her quietly. Clarke glances at her and misses her mom. She misses the woman who would crawl into bed with her and eat the chips too, the woman who would never not hug her daughter after months without seeing her. She misses her family. She misses the Sunday mornings they used to have. She misses her dad reading the paper and watching football. She misses her mom leaning over to kiss his cheek as she makes dinner. She misses the laughter and the feeling of belonging.

 

She hates that she and her mother are falling apart because they lost the one thing that was holding them together.

 

“I’ve… invited Marcus for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow,” her mom says after a while.

 

Clarke rolls her eyes and gets out of bed, grabbing her jeans from the end of the bed and pulling them up her legs. Her mother watches her wordlessly as Clarke completely redresses. It’s not until Clarke searches for the cash in her backpack that her mother says anything.

 

“Where are you going?”

 

Clarke shrugs. “Out. I don’t know. I’m hungry, maybe.”

 

Her mother nods and lets her pass. Clarke takes one of the cars from the garage and doesn’t come back to the house until four the next morning. She sleeps until mid-afternoon when a hand on her ankle over the covers wakes her up.

 

“Hey, kid,” Marcus says softly and Clarke rolls over to glare at him. He’s her parents’ best friend, the peacekeeper, the man her mom somehow managed to “fall in love with”, even though she was still mourning Clarke’s father. She glares at him and he smiles, just like normal. “Good to see you, too.”

 

Marcus used to be one of her favorite people until he started pandering to her mother’s every whim and giving her excuses. Somehow that turned into love and Clarke thinks he’s an idiot because her mother is broken. Her mother is broken and if he doesn’t watch out, he’ll end up broken too.

 

“Can we try to have a nice, civil Thanksgiving this year?” he asks softly. “Dinner’s almost ready. She made it herself.” He looks at Clarke like that should make her happy and sighs when it doesn’t. “She’s trying, Clarke. She’s been desperate to see you.”

 

Clarke shakes her head. “I don’t care.”

 

Marcus squeezes her ankle. “Yes, you do, and that’s why you’re like this. But she’s okay, Clarke. She’s been going to therapy and she’s worked hard. She hasn’t had a drink in months and… Really, she’s trying.”

 

“She didn’t call me for months,” Clarke reminds him bitterly. “She blackmailed me into coming here.”

 

Marcus hums in amusement. “You ran away from home. You were only supposed to be gone for the weekend and you never came back. She didn’t know what else to do.”

 

“Then she’s not different. She’s not better,” Clarke spits before forcing herself to calm down. She can’t do this anymore. “I’ll eat later. I’m not hungry right now.”

 

Marcus gets up and she’s sure he’s gone back downstairs until he dumps her entire bag of things atop her head. “Get up,” he tells her. “And get your head out of your ass.”

 

She does as instructed and only goes downstairs when he calls her down for dinner. She sits far away from them and sulks, refuses to speak when they take turns to say what they’re thankful for. She talks calmly to Marcus about school, gives her mother one word answers to the things she asks. It’s not nearly as dramatic as it usually is. She actually agrees to play board games with them and wins every single time. They laugh at her like they expected no less and Clarke just misses her father. It feels like a hole in her chest: hollow and empty.

 

“Will you come back for Christmas, Clarke?” Her mom asks when they’re drinking coffee much later that evening. She looks sheepish but distant and Clarke eyes her harshly as she swallows and speaks. “It’ll be better this year.”

 

It sounds like a promise but her mother’s broken lots of them over the years.

 

“I’ll think about it,” she whispers.

 

She goes to bed and when she wakes up, her mother’s already gone to work. She’s left her an envelope of cash on the kitchen counter and Clarke pockets it as Marcus loiters around making coffee. He gives her a knowing look and she’s never sure what to think anymore. Nothing ever feels right. He tells her he’ll take her to the airport and Clarke lets him kiss the top of her head.

 

“We’re really proud of you,” he says and Clarke shakes her head.

 

She wishes she could believe that.

 

//

 

Lexa probably looks like she hasn’t moved since Clarke left when Clarke fumbles her way back into their dorm room. She groans as she throws all of her stuff on the floor by her desk and Lexa snorts when she flounces over to drop into the empty space at the end of Lexa’s bed. She kicks her feet up onto the footboard and falls closer to her before surveying the room.

 

“You look like you’ve had fun,” she quips and Lexa rolls her eyes. “This room is spotless.”

 

Lexa flicks her shoulder and scoffs. “I know you’re making fun of me, but I’m really glad you noticed.”

 

Clarke smiles at her and shakes her head. She looks at Lexa like she’s hopeless and Lexa hides her blush behind her glasses and the darkness of the room.

 

“You’re a dork,” Clarke tells her and Lexa shrugs it off as Clarke climbs off the bed to remove her coat. “Is anyone else back yet?”

 

Lexa shrugs her shoulders and wonders why Clarke’s asking her of all people. Clarke kicks off her boots and her jeans and finds some pajama pants before collapsing back onto Lexa’s bed.

 

“What are we watching?” she asks and then laughs when she sees that Lexa’s watching kids movies. Clarke gives her a look before squeezing her knee and Lexa finds herself staring, hating the fact that everything seems okay now that Clarke’s back. Clarke shuffles closer and pulls Lexa’s legs until they’re in her lap and then reaches over to shove her glasses up her nose like a habit.

 

Lexa gulps back all the weird things she feels and tries to concentrate on watching the bright colors of the movie. She tries to ignore the way that Clarke’s hand still squeezes her knee intermittently, like she’s trying to reassure her she’s still there. It’s too much and Clarke jumps a little when Lexa gets up and sits around properly beside her.

 

“I should order some dinner,” she whispers as Clarke eyes her in careful disappointment. “What do you want?”

 

Clarke doesn’t answer. Lexa shuffles through the pile of menus they keep by the window and tries not to let guilt and confusion seep through her body. She reminds herself she can’t do this. She reminds herself that she’ll be okay. She turns to find Clarke still reclined on her bed, toying with the blanket that had been thrown over Lexa’s lap. She watches Lexa carefully, eyes dark and sad. She looks like she wants to say something. She looks like she wants to ask a million questions. Lexa holds her breath because she knows that she doesn’t want to answer any of them.

 

She’s glad when Clarke gives her a timid smile and shakes her head. “Whatever you want is fine,” she whispers. “I’m happy with whatever.”

 

It feels like she means more than just dinner.

 

They order Thai food and sit in silence as they eat. Lexa lets Clarke put on some gritty, dark, action movie but she’s sure that neither of them watches it. Clarke’s eyes are too busy fluttering in exhaustion as her body slumps sideways. There’s a part of Lexa that wants to say that they should go to bed, that Clarke needs to rest, but she’s too busy watching the way that Clarke softens slowly into sleep instead. It’s so different from how she usually blacks out when drunk that Lexa feels like she’s intruding. She closes her eyes and looks away because it doesn’t feel right.

 

It’s not until Clarke’s head suddenly bumps into her shoulder that her eyes reopen and she takes an unsteady breath when Clarke just slumps further into her. Blonde hair falls over Lexa’s collarbones and tickles against her chin. She brushes it away out of habit and then chastises herself because Clarke isn’t awake and she isn’t drunk, either.

 

“Clarke,” she whispers but Clarke doesn’t make a sound, doesn’t move. If anything, she gets heavier against Lexa’s side and she feels her body shifting sideways under the weight. She lets it happen because she can’t do much else, falling backwards until Clarke’s head rests against her stomach and she can pull her feet back onto the bed. Clarke sighs in her sleep and Lexa watches as she moves, curling around Lexa’s body with a hand gripped in her t-shirt.

 

She should stop this. She should force Clarke awake and send her to her own bed. She should untangle Clarke’s fingers from her shirt and not enjoy the way that she feels warm with Clarke against her. She should stop this.

 

But she doesn’t. Instead, she reaches for her pillows and pulls them until they’re comfortably behind her head. She curls onto her side so that Clarke has just a little more room. She reaches for the blanket behind Clarke and pulls it over their legs and rests her hand against the back of Clarke’s head when she whimpers in her sleep.

 

She carefully sweeps blonde hair from Clarke’s face before tracing the shell of her ear. When Clarke doesn’t stir but instead buries closer into her, Lexa tangles her hands in the cotton candy pink ends of it, her fingers wrapping in it until it falls in perfectly soft curls.

 

Just this once, she tells herself. Just this once, and then I’ll stop.

 

She falls asleep with her fingertips against Clarke’s hairline at the back of her neck.

 

//

 

She never thought she could be so fucking idiotic.

 

She never knew she had the ability to be so foolish until this morning when she realized the last thing she ever thought she’d have to realize. And, for the most part, she’d gone into denial for fifty percent of the day. She’d attended her classes and seen her friends and somehow managed to act normal enough that they didn’t suspect anything. She’d gone for lunch with Raven and Octavia. She’d spoken to her professors about projects and things she needed to do before midterms. She’d acted completely normal until the minute she got back to her empty dorm room and let everything rush over her.

 

She lets everything rush over her at once and the tears have never come quicker because she’s honestly never felt so alone.

 

She momentarily debates calling her mom or, dammit, Marcus, because there’s no one else she can talk to about this. They’ve probably been expected something like this for a while now. It’s just what they need when everything seems to be settling down.

 

There’s no way she can tell Raven, not with their history and the circumstances. She could maybe tell Octavia, but she would probably judge her so hard that she’d never let her live it down. Clarke doesn’t need that right now.

 

She needs someone to give her sympathy, to tell her that she’ll be okay, that she’ll figure it out. She needs someone who will understand and she’s crying more for the fact that she doesn’t have anybody to turn to than anything else when the door to her dorm opens unexpectedly.

 

She expects maybe Raven or Octavia more than the person who actually appears around the door, even though she lives here. Lexa steps into the room with her hood up and her headphones in and Clarke buries her face in her hands to hide her tears.

 

Her eyes are blurry and noise is nothing more than a ringing in her ears. She thinks that she might be having a panic attack and the bottle of rum in her hand suddenly seems like a bad idea now that Lexa’s here. She’s got to stop putting her in this position. She’s already caused so much trouble for her already. She already makes Lexa uncomfortable enough as it is.

 

She never expects Lexa to wordlessly drop to her knees in front of her and press her hands on her thighs in concern.

 

“Hey, hey, hey,” she whispers softly, prying the bottle so expertly from Clarke’s hands that it just makes Clarke feel worse. A hand urges against her shoulder for her to sit up and Lexa narrows her eyes at her like she’s a riddle. “What’s wrong? Why are you drinking at five in the afternoon?”

 

Clarke shakes her head and lets her tears snivel pathetically from her. When Lexa strokes her hair from her face and manages to wipe away some of the tears, it reminds Clarke of the way she’d woken up pressed against Lexa’s stomach a week and a half ago. Lexa’s hand had been tangled in the back of her hair and Clarke hadn’t remembered waking up feeling so content in such a long time.

 

That comfort is what she needs now and she’s so surprised that Lexa’s so happily giving it to her. Lexa looks around the room for clues and Clarke can’t remember the last time someone cared as much.

 

“Breathe, Clarke,” Lexa whispers when that just makes everything feel worse. Because how is she supposed to know what to do when no one else cares. “Breathe, okay? You’re okay. You’re safe.”

 

Clarke takes her hands away from her face and lets Lexa look at her as she buries her hands into the fabric of her jeans. For all the embarrassment she feels at letting Lexa see her like this, it all disappears when Lexa’s eyes soften and her fingertips wipe away the rest of the tears. Clarke smiles despondently and shrugs her shoulders because she’s never seen someone so impatiently patient as the girl in front of her.

 

She smiles as she tries to explain.

 

“I’m late,” she whispers as the smile falls quickly. She waits for the judgment to cover Lexa’s expression, for her to get up and roll her eyes, shout and scream and make everything worse, but Lexa just keeps looking at her and wiping away her tears. Clarke’s chin trembles and she thinks maybe Lexa didn’t hear. “Lexa, I’m fucking late. I’m late.”

 

Lexa nods and calms her with gentle noises. “I heard you,” she whispers. “It’s okay. We’ll figure that out in a second. You need to calm down first.”

 

“But Lexa—”

 

Lexa hushes her softly and shakes her head. “You’re okay,” she says and she keeps saying it until Clarke’s tears slowly stop, until her breathing evens out. She keeps saying it until Clarke’s sure that her knees are probably numb and she’s desperate to leave, but instead she nods and gets up to disappear into the bathroom. She comes back with a washcloth and cleans Clarke’s face until Clarke can do little more than admire the sudden softness of her roommate. “There,” Lexa says and her mouth quirks up into a half-smile. “That’s better.”

 

Clarke smiles and takes the tissue Lexa offers her. “Sorry,” she says uncontrollably. “Sorry for piling all this on you. Sorry for being such an idiot… Sorry for crying. Sorry for—”

 

“It’s fine,” Lexa whispers. “Although you did look like a drunk raccoon for a second there. All your eyeliners run.”

 

Clarke laughs and takes the washcloth, standing to move over to the mirror on the wall. She blows her nose, wipes the rest of her face, and feels safe with Lexa standing behind her watching her.

 

“What’s the plan?” Lexa asks and Clarke turns around to her in confusion until she realizes what she’s asking. Lexa doesn’t look reluctant or annoyed. In fact, she looks kind of ride or die ready in a way that shocks Clarke more than anything else. “We can go to the pharmacy in town but—”

 

Clarke shakes her head and reaches for the bottle of rum. She takes a long gulp from the bottle until Lexa almost looks impressed.

 

“Probably not the best idea,” she mutters.

 

Clarke gives her a glare. “Alcohol is how I got into this mess and it’s how I’m going to hopefully get out of it. I don’t want to be sober for this and until something tells me otherwise I’m going to drink as much as I fucking want.”

 

Lexa snorts. “Fair enough. Gimme your car keys.”

 

“Can you drive?”

 

Lexa rolls her eyes. “I’m the most sensible human on the planet. Would I ask otherwise?”

 

“Good point,” Clarke nods. “Lemme get my stuff.”

 

Lexa is an incredibly sensible driver and at first they just drive around while Clarke drinks from her bottle of rum. It’s like Lexa knows she isn’t ready yet. She drives them around for hours until it’s late and they’re both ridiculously hungry. They’re probably about two hours away from where they should be when Lexa finally pulls into the parking lot of a Walgreens. She doesn’t say anything but she shuts off the engine and turns to Clarke.

 

“You’re really good at this,” Clarke chuckles because Lexa is calmer than she ever expected her to be. Something nags at her chest and she turns to her carefully to ask the thing she’s desperate to know. “Did you…” she starts awkwardly. “Have you ever had a scare like this?”

 

The smile that covers Lexa’s face is wide and pretty. She gives Clarke a look and Clarke remembers the rumors about Lexa but she’d never want to believe anything Lexa hadn’t told her herself.

 

“Uh, no,” Lexa shakes her head and she still looks amused, even as her face screams discomfort. “No, I haven’t. But it doesn’t really have a high probability of happening when you’re one, hugely gay and, two, a virgin… so…”

 

Clarke feels her brow rise at the information and keeps her gaze fixed ahead of her. There are about eight million questions she wants to ask her roommate at this moment but instead she just nods respectfully and tries not to explode. Lexa looks at her like she’s expecting something but when Clarke just nods she rolls her eyes and nudges her shoulder playfully.

 

“But one of my friends growing up had a lot of scares like this,” she nods in explanation. “A lot. Like, I remember yelling at her all the time that condoms are cheaper than pregnancy tests. We used to have to drive to the ass-end of New Jersey so that people wouldn’t wonder why we were always buying pregnancy tests.”

 

Clarke sighs at the mention and Lexa leans forward onto the steering wheel and closes one eye thoughtfully.

 

“Do you want me to go in?” she asks and Clarke just finishes the bottle of rum and lets the buzz sink in before nodding her head. She leans into the glove compartment to get her a hundred dollar bill and Lexa’s eyes widen before she disappears inside.

 

She returns fifteen minutes later, with water and some snacks and she throws most of it in the back before climbing into the drivers’ seat. She grabs one of the bottles of water and instructs Clarke to start drinking as she makes their way back to campus. She only stops to get Clarke a happy meal and more McNuggets than a human should ever need. She helps her back up to their room and forces Clarke to take the five pregnancy tests she bought. They leave them on her desk for way longer than they should and Clarke lays back on her bed as Lexa finishes the rest of her food in silence.

 

“I don’t know what I’ll do,” Clarke whispers and she didn’t know the words were coming until Lexa’s turning to her slowly. “If I’m…” she shakes her head. “I can’t tell my mom because she’ll probably fall apart again. I can’t tell Octavia because she’ll judge me. I can’t tell Raven because I’m sleeping with the boy she’s in love with who doesn’t want her back. I don’t know what to do because I can’t do anything.”

 

Lexa looks at her softly and shrugs. “Yes, you can,” she mutters. “You’ll make a choice and it’ll be the right one. You can do whatever you want, Clarke.”

 

Clarke closes her eyes and tries not to cry. She lies there quietly until Lexa reaches over and takes her hand, squeezing it tight.

 

“They’re all negative,” she whispers and Clarke can’t stop the tears any more than she can stop the hopelessness she feels. She sobs into her hands and laughs when Lexa starts chuckling.

 

The laugh until they fall asleep.

 

//

 

Lexa doesn’t talk about it after. She knows, from experience, that it’s just best to move on and get over it. It’s just a thing that almost happened and there’s nothing more to be done.

 

She remembers that one time that Anya told someone else about her scares and the judgment and hurt she received wasn’t worth it for something that didn’t even happen. It was more detrimental than the actual scare. Lexa doesn’t want to damage or hurt Clarke anymore than she already might feel. She wants her to know that everything’s still okay.

 

The only difference between before and after their little adventure across town is that Clarke seems to have calmed a little. She drinks less, comes home earlier, and can usually be found helping someone else deal with their drunkenness instead of her own.

 

Lexa doesn’t know if it’ll last but she likes that Clarke comes back, only ever buzzed from one drink, and falls asleep to the sounds of crappy TV shows on her computer. Lexa likes that the only thing she needs to do to take care of Clarke now is to take her laptop off her chest once she’s asleep.

 

She thinks that, maybe, Clarke will go back to her old ways once midterms are over and there’s less schoolwork to do. Maybe Clarke will get swept up in the parties of the pre-holiday season.

 

All she knows is that Clarke is somber and softer than she was before. She sleeps a lot and eats proper meals from the dining hall instead of take out all the time. She calls her mother more. She doesn’t let Octavia and Raven encourage her into doing things she shouldn’t. They come over for movie nights and Lexa sees the guilt eating away at her that she wasn’t able to tell her friends this important thing.

 

“I can’t believe we have like a week left of semester,” Raven groans from her place on Clarke’s bed. “I can’t wait to go home.”

 

Lexa looks over at Clarke and knows that she’s anxious about going home. Her mother’s called her a few times and the conversations seemed strained and forced. She knows that they’re both trying. She knows that Clarke doesn’t want to jinx the tentative effort they’ve made to be better.

 

“Lexa?” Clarke asks and Lexa shakes her head, suddenly aware that she was daydreaming about things she shouldn’t. She looks over at Clarke with a frown and tries not to wonder what her friends think when Clarke playfully nudges her with a foot. “Octavia asked where you’re going for the holidays. She wants to know where home is.”

 

Lexa glances over at Octavia who looks at her expectantly. She speaks without thinking because normally she wouldn’t answer such personal questions but Clarke’s blue eyes are curiously watching her.

 

“New York,” she says. “I’ll be in New York.”

 

Clarke smiles and looks ready to say something but the conversation has already moved on.

 

//

 

There’s three days until the end of school and Clarke feels strange and out of sorts.

 

She’s had a routine for a long time, even when she was back in high school and everything was much more difficult. She’s had a routine and that’s always included working hard to get good grades and finding someone willing to ease the tension that only knows how to leave her body through one thing. In high school, it used to be Wells and then maybe a girl here and there who was interested. In college, it was a few randoms and then Finn. It was Finn from early on and then it was not Finn when she realized that Finn was the same boy that Raven had told stories of being in love with. After that it was whoever was willing. She didn’t care who it was, just that they were capable.

 

(She still hates that it somehow managed to be Finn again after that.)

 

Now, it’s no one because sex makes Clarke stupid. Sex makes Clarke do dumbass things. Also alcohol. Alcohol makes her dumb as fuck and that’s why Clarke swore herself off booze and sex until she can figure her life out.

 

She can’t have another incident where her dumb, drunk self thinks that it’s an awesome idea to rip a condom packet open with her teeth and not do anything about it after because she was too drunk to remember. Nothing happened, but it could have, and Clarke never wants to have to drive to an unfamiliar Walgreens with a bottle of rum again.

 

The only problem is that she’s never been this wound up before. It’s been almost a month and she hasn’t had a goddamn orgasm.

 

The mere thought makes her want to cry. She hasn’t had an orgasm. She hasn’t had an orgasm and she’s on the verge of being ready to kill something if she doesn’t have one soon.

 

Clarke hasn’t masturbated in a long time. She’s never needed to. She’s pretty sure the last time she masturbated was when a girl she hooked up with in Myrtle Beach last summer asked her to. She can’t even remember the time before that. It’s not really something that she’s ever put enough effort into learning how to enjoy.

 

She knows that college dorm rules state that you do it in the shower or you do it when no one else is home but Clarke has serious issues with that. Masturbating in the shower scares her (she almost blacked out and tripped during shower sex once) and after Lexa walked in on her and Finn, what’s to say that she won’t walk in again?

 

She’s been debating these issues for about a week now and, short of fucking herself in public, Clarke knows that she’s going to have to wait until Lexa’s at class to do it.

 

Except Lexa sent her a text this morning saying that she wouldn’t be able to go for dinner until later this evening because she has a long exam that doesn’t finish till six. It’s four o’clock now and almost dark and Clarke feels her entire body fill with warmth as she realizes that she’ll be on her own for the next two hours. She was going to shower but she can do that after.

 

This is a more urgent matter.

 

She strips down to her underwear and turns off all the lights, lies back on her bed and pulls her blanket over her. It’s soft against her skin and after all these many days without release, that’s almost too much. Her hand finds the skin of her chest, tracing the curves of her body. Her eyes flutter closed and she sighs as she imagines the hand touching her isn’t her own. She thinks of long, lithe fingers and gentle hands. Her touch drifts down her body, fluttering over the bottom of her ribcage and the dip of her stomach as her diaphragm pulls with her suddenly heavy breaths. She wishes that there was someone kissing her skin, setting her nerve-endings alight. Her imagination runs wild, faces blurring in her vision as one hand hurriedly reaches up to grasp her breast while the other finally delves beneath the blanket and into her underwear.

 

She’s ridiculously wet and flashes of green burst behind her eyelids as a familiar body writhes atop her in her mind. Her fingers find her clit and sweep steadily, firmly, as a relieved shudder flutters through her body. She gets swept up quickly, her mind reeling with images of blushed lips and soft curls. Her hand sweeps up from her chest to her neck, wishing that someone was kissing her there, licking and biting and panting warm breath against her skin.

 

A familiar voice from her memory whispers that it’s okay and broken moans catch in her throat as she fits a finger inside of herself. Her thighs rise up, widening her hips and giving her more room. The voice is familiar, too familiar, and she only barely lets reality set in to realize who it is. She shudders and refuses to let herself acknowledge the want but doesn’t stop herself from thinking about thick, dark curls drifting over her skin. Her fingers swirl patterns over her stomach and ribs and she chokes back a moan as she adds another finger. She wants those swollen lips from her imagination against the wettest, softest part of her and she lets the name drop silently from her lips as her back arches and her toes already start to point against the covers.

 

She’s so close—so close—closer so much quicker than she’s been in a long time, than she thought possible. Broken little whimpers and moans flutter up her throat, and her neck and back are arched so tight that it hurts. The sensory overload is so overwhelming that she vibrates all over and she’s not even sure if she’s really feeling anything. She’s so ready to come, so ready to drop off the edge. She’s so close—so close—so close—

 

The light turns on and the mere shock of it is enough that she slips into her orgasm too quickly, too fiercely. It almost hurts and she groans in disappointment and alarm as her eyes fly open to find Lexa staring back at her. Those same green eyes are wide with shock and Clarke whimpers as she pulls her hand out of her underwear and rolls onto her side.

 

“Oh shit,” she hears Lexa hiss and Clarke’s pretty sure she knocks over about four different items of furniture, but she’s too busy being mortified to care.

 

She grabs her pillow and pulls it over her face, yanks the blanket over the front of her body and fails to cover the back as Lexa fumbles around behind her.

 

“You said you had an exam,” she groans and there’s another crash behind her.

 

“Fuck,” Lexa whispers and Clarke’s not sure she’s ever heard Lexa swear before. “Fuck, um. No. Well. My professor wrote the date on the schedule wrong and it’s actually tomorrow.” She drops something again and then Clarke hears her drop whatever it is in defeat as the door opens. “You know what? Fuck it. Carry on. I’ll go to the library. I’ll go to the library.”

 

The door slams closed.

 

Clarke doesn’t uncover her face until much later. She doesn’t think she’ll ever get over the embarrassment.

 

She doesn’t think she’ll ever get over the way Lexa whispered fuck.

 

//

 

Lexa spends the last three days of the semester pretty much holed up in the library.

 

She spends her last three days barely eating as she’s avoiding the dining hall, only sleeping when she can’t keep her eyes open any longer. She heads back to her room when she knows that Clarke will one hundred percent either not be there or be asleep. She sneaks in late and heads out much earlier than necessary.

 

She knows that Clarke is probably mad at her. She hasn’t said anything but Lexa knows. She knows that she accidentally overstepped a boundary that she never should have. She knows that she saw something she wasn’t supposed to, that she never wanted to, as much as she’s accidentally replayed it over her in memory in the hours since. She knows that what she saw has changed things. She knows they’ll never be able to come back from this.

 

It’s made things weird and Lexa doesn’t know what to do.

 

She’s overwhelmed with that same feeling she felt the first day she met Clarke. It’s nothing other than a desperate need to self-protect and avoid all the things that she knows Clarke will mean. Clarke is the thing that she’s deliberately avoided for almost all of her life.

 

Clarke is different. Special.

 

She’s not like everyone else and that’s a bad thing.

 

Lexa can’t disassemble special—she can’t figure it out—and it makes her feel unsafe and vulnerable. It makes her feel scared.

 

She’s sure all she needs is the time to get her head straight, to realize that Clarke is her roommate and seeing her how she did is just another fact of the predicament they find themselves in. She needs time to wipe what she saw from her memory, replace it with reminders of Clarke vomiting in the middle of the night and keeping her awake when all she wants to do is sleep.

 

She’s unable to avoid her on the last day of semester and she’s been preparing herself for it for the past twenty-four hours. They have to be gone from the dorms by five and Lexa’s taking the three o’clock train into New York from Boston. She sleeps in because she can. She stirs awake and buries into her covers when she realizes that Clarke is moving around behind her.

 

“I expected to wake up to find out that you’d left in the night,” she says and Lexa doesn’t understand how Clarke knows she’s awake because she hasn’t even opened her eyes. She doesn’t say anything and Lexa listens as she sits down on the end of her bed before throwing a pillow over at her. Lexa flinches and hates herself. “You can’t avoid me forever. You can pretend that you never saw what you saw. I’d probably appreciate that a lot. But you can also be a grown up and talk about it instead of hiding like a child.”

 

That makes Lexa mad. “I’m not hiding,” she says, still staring at the wall. “I just needed some quiet.”

 

“You’re full of shit,” Clarke says around a mirthless chuckle. “You’re also a big ass baby. You saw me masturbating, Lexa. I promise you it was one hundred times more embarrassing for me than it was for you, so get over it. I’m sure it’s something that you’ve done before yourself, so stop acting like you saw me murdering a puppy.”

 

The anger rises steadily within her. It hasn’t happened like this in such a long time. It’s the kind of rush of feeling that once used to get her in trouble. It used to leave her red with rage and with bloody knuckles. Now it just leaves her sore and breathless as she continues to hold it all back.

 

“You know what, Clarke?” she spits, sitting up in bed and shooting her a look of disdain. “Fuck you. Maybe if you stopped thinking about yourself and looked around you for one second, you’d see that maybe I don’t give a rat’s ass about the fact that you rubbed one out and I walked in on you. Maybe—just fucking maybe—you’d notice that the reason I can’t bear to be around you is because I’m so done with dealing with all of your shit that I needed a fucking break.”

 

She regrets the words as soon as she says them and she doesn’t understand why. It’s been four months and she’s surprised she didn’t burst ages ago. With anyone else, she would have probably smothered them in their sleep. She doesn’t take the words back, though. She jumps out of bed and gathers up the clothes she’d laid out last night before storming over to the bathroom and slamming the door.

 

She doesn’t expect the rush of panic and anxiety the minute the door is closed. She turns on the shower and lets the loud sound of the rushing water drown out the heavy panting of her breath and the ache in her chest. She leans against the counter and reminds herself that this is safer, this is safer and surer and better than anything else her body is desperate to do. This will keep her safe. This will keep her alive.

 

She showers for a long time and dresses slowly, dreading going back out and seeing Clarke again. She does it anyway, too familiar with confrontation not to, and is surprised when the room is empty.

 

There’s a piece of paper on her bed and she grabs it tentatively before reading what it says.

 

I’m sorry I made you feel that way. I’ll try to be better. Have a good break. Clarke x

 

She’s still holding it in her hand hours later when Anya meets her at the station. There’s a smile on her face and she instantly notices that Lexa’s responding one isn’t as wide as it usually is.

 

“You okay?” she says before she says anything else.

 

Lexa lets her arms fall around Anya’s slim shoulders and hold her tight in response. Her face buries in her shoulder and Anya pauses in confusion before wrapping her arms steadily around Lexa’s body and squeezing her tight.

 

“You’re okay,” Anya says when Lexa’s shoulders shudder just once before stopping. “You’re okay. You’re always okay.”

 

Lexa’s not so sure.

 

Chapter Text

Her Winter Break is weirdly okay.

 

She realizes how much she misses constant sunshine, the beach and well-made Mexican food. She spends most of the daytime lazing around, watching their maid, Rosa, cook all the dishes that her presence allowed Clarke to grow up with. She spends her evenings watching TV with her mom and Marcus, talking about everything but the pink elephant that’s slowly shrinking into non-existence. She spends her nights watching incredibly bad television and debating whether to call or text the last person she ever expected wanting to.

 

“You know,” her mom says on Christmas Eve, uncharacteristically falling to lie across the foot of Clarke’s bed. It feels new and old at the same time and Clarke tries to stop hope from growing in her chest. “I thought you’d be going to more parties than this. I thought you’d want to meet up with all your old friends. How’s Wells?”

 

Clarke shakes her head and throws her mom a pillow to rest her head against. “I haven’t really spoken to Wells in a long time.”

 

“He must be really busy,” her mom comments.

 

Clarke snorts. “Yeah, busy,” she says. “But also mad because I told him I didn’t want to have sex with him anymore.”

 

Clarke watches the TV and quirks an eyebrow in her mother’s direction when she looks up in surprise. Her mom’s shock transforms into amusement and she laughs before reaching to hold Clarke’s ankle.

 

“You never cease to amaze me, Clarke,” her mom chuckles. “You always did know what you wanted.”

 

That makes Clarke’s smile fall. “Maybe I used to,” she says. “I’m not so sure anymore. This year has been weird.”

 

Her mom stiffens and falters. “I—I just want to be your mom again, Clarke.”

 

Clarke waits before nodding and reaches down for her mom’s hand. “I know,” she whispers as their fingers tangle together. “I know that. And I see that you’re trying. I see how good Marcus has been for you. I see how hard you’ve worked to get better.” She frowns. “I’m really proud of you for that, but… I wasn’t really talking about you.”

 

Her mom rolls onto her side and shuffles closer. She holds Clarke’s hand and Clarke feels so strangely upset by it that she doesn’t know what to do.

 

“I did a lot of stupid stuff,” she whispers, giving into a need that she’s held for such a long time to just be her mother’s daughter. “I think I hurt a lot of people without meaning to. I keep doing all this stuff with no regard for the people around me and I just… I think I’ve ruined something I didn’t realize I needed to not ruin.”

 

“Clarke…” her mother starts and Clarke just smiles, looking down at her lap as she picks at the edge of her t-shirt. “Are you okay?”

 

Clarke doesn’t know. She doesn’t know anything anymore. She doesn’t look at her mother as she answers.

 

“There’s this girl…” she starts before scaring herself and stopping. If she says it out loud, that means it’s real. If it’s real, then it’s something else she doesn’t know how to fix. She shakes her head and laughs it off. Her mom moves closer and urges her chin up so she can see her. Clarke shakes her head and then lets her face fall in worried disappointment. “I think I broke it.”

 

Her mother reaches up to rub the worry from her brow like she used to so many moons ago. “What, honey? What did you break?”

 

Clarke swallows and shakes her head. “I don’t know,” she admits. “And that’s the problem.”

 

Her mom clicks her tongue and then shuffles up the bed until she can sit beside her. She reaches to stroke Clarke’s hair. Her hands press surely and encouragingly and there’s a part of Clarke that doesn’t want to give her mom this power back yet because she’s not sure if she trusts her with it. But it’s inherent, this need for comfort from the broken woman beside her. Clarke thinks she might get it, this forlorn, thick feeling of being lost that kept her mother from her for so long. She thinks she might understand what could make someone lose who they are completely.

 

It scares her enough to give in and finally bury her head in her mother’s chest after so many years of not wanting to.

 

“You’ll figure it out,” her mother whispers once she’s got over the shock. Clarke aches when she kisses the top of her head. “You always do.”

 

//

 

“You’re sick,” Anya tells her, two days before she’s due to return to school.

 

Lexa feels like there isn’t a muscle in her body that doesn’t hurt, that her nose will never know oxygen again, that the constant need to cough will never stop.

 

She also knows that being sick is not something she can afford right now. She feels betrayed by her own immune system for putting her at risk after so many years of being able to fight off anything.

 

“Shut up,” she hisses as she falls to lay sideways on Anya’s couch. “I’m fine.”

 

Anya clicks her tongue and tries to touch her forehead. Lexa slaps her hand away and glares. “Lexa.”

 

“I’m fine. I just need some Theraflu and maybe some NyQuil or something, I don’t know…” Her eyes flutter as she lets her body sink further into the couch cushions. “I’m fine. I’m fine. It’s just a cold.”

 

She’s sure that it only feels as horrible as it does because she’s not used to it. She hasn’t had a cold since she was really young and her immune system wasn’t like an iron fortress. She doesn’t know why she’s getting a cold now all of a sudden but it’s enough for Anya to frown at her on the morning she’s supposed to be heading back to school and tell her that she’ll drive her back.

 

Lexa tries to refuse but Anya pretty much packs her bags and puts them in the car. She’s not sure if the movement of the car is soothing but she’s glad when Anya pulls into the parking lot by her dorm. She helps her up to her room and Lexa winces a little that Clarke’s already there. Anya puts her bags next to her bed as Lexa falls into the pillows. She already feels better and only opens her eyes when she hears Clarke speak.

 

“Hi, I’m Clarke,” she says stepping closer.

 

“Anya. Lexa and I grew up together,” Anya says politely. She has that tone that they all have, treading lightly because they’re not sure what people know. “She has a cold and it’s completely knocked her on her ass.”

 

“I’m fine,” Lexa mutters but she doubts they believe her because she’s already falling asleep.

 

Anya pushes her hair back and leans over to press a lazy kiss to the top of her sweaty forehead. “I’ll see you soon, kid. Promise you’ll actually call this time.”

 

Lexa nods but they both know she won’t. She hears Anya say a polite goodbye to Clarke and then the room lapses into silence. She feels Clarke hovering around by the foot of her bed and Lexa ignores it because she’s too exhausted to do anything else.

 

“Can I get you anything?” she whispers eventually.

 

Lexa shakes her head and turns over without a word.

 

//

 

It’s been two and a half days and Lexa hasn’t said anything to her. She’s been asleep for most of them but she still hasn’t said anything. She just sleeps and lies on her bed and Clarke doesn’t know what to do. She doesn’t know what to say to make everything okay.

 

She’s sure that most of it is probably because Lexa’s sick but there’s also a part of Clarke that wonders if Lexa’s just really good at holding a grudge.

 

When she watches Lexa drag herself out of bed on Monday looking like death just threw up on her, she also wonders if it’s because Lexa is incredibly stubborn.

 

“You shouldn’t go to class,” Clarke tries to tell her but it’s no good. Lexa goes to shower and comes out looking a hundred times better than she did. She doesn’t give Clarke a second glance and grabs her books as she heads out the door.

 

It makes Clarke feel like she’s been slapped in the face but she decides to try again when Lexa comes back after her class anyway.

 

Clarke finds her when she comes back to grab a book. Lexa’s laid on her bed, obviously trying to grab a nap between classes, but all she can do is cough instead. Her voice is hoarse and her cheeks are red. Clarke leans down to check if she’s okay and tries not to feel hurt when Lexa rolls away from her.

 

“It’s just a cold,” Lexa croaks when Clarke ignores her attempts to scare her away and presses the backs of her fingers to Lexa’s forehead.

 

Clarke hushes her and holds her head still when she tries to move. “You have a fever. A slight one but a fever nonetheless.”

 

“I’m fine,” Lexa coughs, finally shoving her away. “I’m fine. I can look after myself.”

 

There’s a bite to her voice that has Clarke retreating. She reluctantly heads to class without another word and tries not to worry about her the whole time. Lexa isn’t there when she comes back and Raven tells her later that she saw her in the library, sharing her germs with everyone else. She hates that it worries her and she doesn’t think twice before heading to the dining hall once Raven leaves. She gets a cup of soup and asks for some hot water and dry toast to go with it.

 

Lexa’s in a corner all by herself when she gets there, mid-cough as her face looks paler than Clarke’s ever seen it. She doesn’t ask permission or even say hello before she grabs Lexa’s bag and finds a packet from the box of Theraflu she watched her put in there this morning. Lexa looks up at her angrily and Clarke ignores her as she puts the soup and toast in front of her.

 

“Eat,” she demands as she stirs the Theraflu and places it in front of her. “All of it. Because I can’t stop you from going to school, but I can make sure you’re at least trying to look after yourself.”

 

Lexa looks up at her and shakes her head. Her jaw quirks and Clarke tries to remain steadfast as Lexa looks like she’s about to bite her head off.

 

“You worry about you, Clarke,” she hisses, breathlessly. “And I’ll look after myself.”

 

She gathers her things and stomps away. Clarke watches her leave before gathering up the food and tossing it in the trash.

 

Each night, she listens as Lexa tosses and turns until dawn and struggles to sleep. She listens to her cough and whimper with struggled movements. She listens to her wheeze like her body’s about to give in during the short periods of rest she manages to get. She wishes she could do something, wishes she could stop Lexa from being so stubborn, wishes she could make sure she looks after herself.  

 

She wishes that Lexa would just let her in.

 

//

 

Lexa thinks she’s starting to feel better. She’s coughing less and her body doesn’t ache as much. Her cold is pretty much gone and she feels relieved because it’s been over a week and she never knew someone could be sick so long.

 

She feels even more relieved that she was still able to manage going to class everyday.

 

For a while there, she was worried that she’d miss school, that she’d lose participation and attendance points. She was worried that her scholarship would end up in jeopardy and she’d have no idea what she’d do. The last five days have possibly been some of the worst of her life.

 

“You look better,” Clarke says as she comes out of the shower. Lexa’s packing her books into her bag and breathing easier, purely for the fact that it’s Friday and she gets to rest the entire weekend. “When’s your last class today?”

 

It’s something that Clarke’s asked her every day this week, like there isn’t two schedules pinned to the wall still. Lexa knows she’s checking up on her, making sure she knows where she is at all times, and that’s why she never answers. Today, however, she doesn’t feel like making Clarke guess.

 

“I finish at six-thirty,” she says, her voice still gravely and thick. Clarke looks up at her in surprise. “And I have every intention of being in bed by seven. So if you’re planning on going out and partying tonight, please respect that.”

 

She tries to ignore the simultaneously hurt and amused look that crosses Clarke’s face. She shakes her head out the corner of Lexa’s eye and Lexa swallows thickly, even as she tightly grits her jaw.

 

“It’s okay, Lexa,” she murmurs. “I have no intention of going anywhere tonight. You’ll have to suffer my presence but I promise I won’t ruin your beauty sleep.”

 

She leaves a second later and Lexa’s still too tired to think or feel anything at all.

 

Her Friday morning classes are long and hard. She’s pretty sure her professor has the heating off because it’s freezing cold or maybe it’s broken because the room becomes stiflingly hot a while later. She shivers against the feeling of it and barely gets anything done because she’s too preoccupied with the irregularity of her body temperature. It probably doesn’t help that it’s cold and ready to snow outside either. The sharpness of the air makes it difficult for her to breathe and she practically collapses into a chair in the library once she gets there. She lays on one of the sofas on the second floor and tries not to fall asleep as she finishes the reading for her next class. It’s uncomfortable because it feels like there’s a damn elephant sitting on her chest and she starts coughing only to find the grossest looking stuff coming out of her.

 

It makes her hurt and she props herself up to give herself a pep talk, reminding herself that she just has two more classes this afternoon until she can go back to bed. Her body is already aching again and she tries not to whimper in disappointment that maybe she isn’t as better as she first thought.

 

The truth of that underestimation doesn’t become clear to her until she stands up and instantly feels lightheaded. Her chest suddenly aches and she only manages to make it halfway to her class before she’s breathing unsteadily and needs to sit down. It takes her ten minutes of sitting there to feel like she can get up and she’s almost late to a class for the first time in her college career. Her professor doesn’t even look annoyed, but concerned instead. Lexa sits in the back and spends most of the time with her hand pressed to her chest as she tries not to fall asleep.

 

By the time the class finishes, all she really feels is scared. She can’t stop coughing, can’t stop feeling like she can’t breathe as her body shakes and shivers, cold and hot and achy all at once. She’s not sure if she’ll make it to her next class but she gives herself the same pep talk, tells herself that it’s just one more hour before she can go back to her dorm and find Clarke.

 

Just one more hour until she feels safe.

 

She reminds herself she’s waited longer and manages to hoist herself up to leave the room. It’s hard work and she’s glad that everyone’s still waiting to be let inside the class when she arrives outside. She’s pretty sure she’s sweaty and pale. People look at her like she’s crazy and she ignores them as she steps up to the door.

 

She’s never felt this dizzy and lightheaded in her life. She gives her professor a smile when he opens the door.

 

She smiles and smiles and wishes she could get air into her lungs and—

 

The last thing she remembers is stepping forward.

//

 

She’d be lying if she said she wasn’t worried.

 

Raven’s called her twice and Octavia once, probably asking her to come to Lincoln’s party, but she’s ignored all three calls.

 

It’s just that it’s almost seven-thirty and Lexa isn’t back yet. There’s probably nothing wrong but that doesn’t mean she isn’t worried. She’s really worried because something doesn’t feel right. She’s worried because Lexa was so set on coming back and going to bed. She’d looked so desperate for it this morning that it doesn’t make sense that she’d be late.

 

Something doesn’t seem right. In fact, something feels really, really wrong.

 

When an unknown number calls her cellphone, she answers it without thinking because she instantly knows she was right. She knows that something is wrong—seriously wrong—and that she should have been worried. She feels like she’s been waiting for the phone call for the last half hour without realizing.

 

The woman on the other end of the line gives her patchy information that she takes in as calmly as she can. Alexandra Woods. Twenty years-old. Admitted to the local ER after an ambulance was called to her school.

 

When the woman tells her that Lexa’s asking for her, she doesn’t think twice about grabbing her keys. She finds her coat and heads downstairs, only stopping when someone calls her name.

 

“You’re not answering my calls!” Octavia shouts as she storms across the courtyard towards her.

 

Clarke groans in frustration before turning quickly. “I have to go.”

 

“Clarke! It’s Lexa,” Octavia shouts. Clarke instantly stops and spins around. Octavia jogs the rest of the way and grabs her elbow. “She collapsed outside her class. Harper was there. She said that it looked serious. They were giving her oxygen and calling ahead to the hospital as they left.”

 

Clarke shakes her head and tries to remind herself of the fact that the woman said Lexa was asking for her.

 

“I’ve got to go,” she says and she’s surprised when Octavia just nods and watches her leave.

 

It’s a ten minute drive to the hospital and she spends more time trying to park the damn car than anything else. The nurse behind the desk looks at her dubiously when she arrives, only to readily take her in the right direction once she utters Lexa’s full name.

 

She’s instantly relieved to see that Lexa’s awake once she’s led to her. She looks pale and sticky. There’s a pout on her face and Clarke steps forward to take a better look at her, hating the way that Lexa’s expression just seems to get sadder and crankier. They’re giving her oxygen through a nasal cannula and Clarke presses her hands to the side of the bed as she takes everything in. She was raised with this and she takes note of the fluids being given to Lexa through an IV and the monitors covering her body that give out information on the tiny screen above her head. Clarke takes note of a fast heartbeat and a low blood pressure. Her respiratory rate is high too.

 

“You okay?” she asks tentatively as she steps up to the bed. Lexa gives her the tiniest nod and it feels like the right thing to do when she presses her hand to Lexa’s forehead. It’s scalding hot and sweaty and Clarke’s glad when a man in blue scrubs and a white coat arrives at the foot of Lexa’s bed.

 

“You must be the roommate,” he says, taking a look at Lexa’s chart. “I’m Dr. Lauer. I’ve been taking care of your friend here.”

 

“Is she okay?”

 

The doctor looks at Lexa who gives him a glare and Clarke already knows that she’s probably been a complete pain in the ass. She moves her hand to the top of Lexa’s head and waits for the doctor to speak.

 

“She’s very sick,” he says like he’s trying to make a point. “And very lucky. She lost consciousness at school because she has a very low blood pressure. When she arrived, we did some tests and gave her an x-ray, which have confirmed she has bacterial pneumonia with early signs of sepsis.”

 

Clarke lets out a tiny gasp and looks down at Lexa to find her eyes closed and turned away. The doctor clears his throat until Clarke looks back at him.

 

“She insisted that it was just the flu—and it probably was—but we’re guessing someone is stubborn…” Clarke snorts at the accuracy and the doctor smiles. “…And probably didn’t take the symptoms as seriously as she should have. She’s lucky because, if she’d carried on, the outcome wouldn’t have been as positive.”

 

Clarke glances at Lexa who keeps a stern face but noticeably swallows against whatever it is she’s feeling. Her fingers shift against the top of her head and she needs the doctor to leave them alone. She needs to make sure Lexa’s actually okay.

 

“What now?”

 

“Probably a short stay,” the doctor tells her. “Couple of days, maybe more. We need her fever to resolve and to see that the antibiotics are working. She needs a lot of oxygen to get her back up to the normal saturation but, mostly, right now… She needs to be monitored and with professionals who can help her if things get worse. We’re just waiting for a bed to admit her.”

 

Clarke nods and with a few more words, the doctor leaves. Clarke pulls the chair by the bed closer to Lexa and sits down on it before expertly putting down the side of the bed so that she can see her face. The height of the bed and the short legs of the chair put them at eye level. Lexa looks so grumpy and sorry for herself that Clarke finds herself smiling as she reaches to gently push the hair from Lexa’s face.

 

“Only you would get sick on a weekend,” she mutters playfully. Lexa tries not to smile and Clarke lets her fingers rest against Lexa’s cheeks, her forehead, just to see if she’s any cooler yet. She isn’t and it almost hurts to touch her. “How’re you feeling?”

 

“Shitty.”

 

Clarke nods, hands against her neck and shoulders. She’s surprised Lexa hasn’t pushed her away yet. “You’re pretty sick, Lex.”

 

Lexa’s face falls and she snuggles into the hospital pillows moving closer to Clarke. “I should have listened to you,” she whispers. “Maybe then I wouldn’t be here and I’d be better. I was just so worried I’d lose my scholarship if I missed any school…”

 

Clarke hushes her and smiles. She ignores the surprise of Lexa being on a scholarship and shakes her head. “Don’t worry about that now. You need to get better so you don’t die or something.” Her playful words don’t seem as playful when she’s tugging the blankets up higher over Lexa’s hospital gown and fussing over her. “Do you want me to call anyone? I was kind of surprised they called me.”

 

Lexa closes her eyes and seems sleepy. It takes her a while to speak.

 

“I was hoping I’d be able to leave soon,” she explains. “Figured they wouldn’t let me if I called a cab, so I asked them to call you so you could come pick me up.”

 

It stings a little but there’s something about Lexa’s words that doesn’t sit right, especially when her eyes flutter closed and she swallows thickly again.

 

“I’m tired,” she whispers.

 

Clarke plays with the hospital band around the wrist that pokes out from the edge of the blankets. She runs her thumb over the skin beneath it and subconsciously finds Lexa’s pulse thrumming wildly underneath. It’s calming and terrifying all at once. “You should sleep.”

 

“You’ll be here when I wake up?” she mumbles and the gentle fear in Lexa’s voice makes Clarke sure that she’s here for a better reason than a ride home.

 

It softens Clarke and sets her at ease. She watches Lexa’s face flicker with exhaustion and traces the broken blood vessels on her face with her eyes. It feels perfectly normal to urge Lexa’s fingers to tangle with her own. She feels like she’s doing the right thing when she nods and rests her cheek on the curve of the mattress to watch Lexa sleep.

 

“I’ll be right here,” she whispers softly. “You’ll be safe.”

 

A sigh of what can only be relief leaves Lexa’s lips. She falls asleep minutes later and doesn’t wake up for a long time. Clarke’s half-asleep in a chair beside her bed, when she wakes up next. She still holds her hand and Lexa pulls it closer when she sleepily notices. She tucks it right under her chin and Clarke doesn’t care that she’ll have to lean over the bed to be comfortable. She can’t stop herself when she reaches with her other hand to play with the soft curls of Lexa’s hair.

 

“I’m not going anywhere,” she whispers as Lexa drifts into a deeper sleep.

 

There’s nowhere else she wants to be.

 

//

 

Lexa wakes up to a mop of pink and blonde hair in front of her face and a dry palm in her sweaty one. Clarke breathes steadily, softly, and Lexa almost feels bad when the need to cough has her sitting up suddenly and grabbing at her chest. Clarke jumps and instantly reaches for the paper tray on the table nearby, handing it to Lexa as she coughs up that same gross stuff she’d done the day before.

 

Except it’s better today because Clarke rubs over her back and shoulders to ease away the aches it causes. She keeps rubbing her back, even when Lexa stops coughing and puts her head into her hands to stop the world from spinning. Clarke disposes of the tray and makes soft noises as Lexa pants for breath. Her hands grazing the gap in the back of Lexa’s hospital gown shouldn’t feel as good and thrilling as they do.

 

“Better?” Clarke mumbles sleepily and doesn’t say anything before she starts gathering all of Lexa’s hair into her hands. She takes a tie off her wrist to knot it atop Lexa’s head and Lexa appreciates the sudden rush of cool that rolls over her warm skin.

 

“I’m hot,” she mutters.

 

Clarke hums out a chuckle. “And so modest, too.”

 

Lexa groans and tugs at her hospital gown. “Dumbass,” she comments. “I’m hot.”

 

“I went to pick up some of your things earlier,” Clarke says and reaches for a bag by her feet. Lexa looks over at the clock on the wall, sees that it’s only just eight o’clock, and wonders when Clarke had time to go out, come back and then fall back to sleep. “I got you some t-shirts and PJs and lazy clothes.”

 

“No clothes,” Lexa whimpers and Clarke has no choice but to go with it when she starts to reach for the ties of her hospital gown. Lexa notices how Clarke doesn’t really help except for guiding her hands to the ribbons and sighing when the sudden breeze to Lexa’s back is enough for her to stop trying to remove it.

 

She falls into the chair beside the bed and Lexa curls onto her side facing away from her.

 

“You have a tattoo on your back,” Clarke says curiously a few moments later. Lexa opens one sleepy eye to glance back over her shoulder. She hums out a sound of acknowledgement. “It’s really pretty. Why haven’t I seen it before?”

 

Lexa’s shoulders shrug. “I have one on the back of my neck too. I don’t really care that much about them anymore. I was young and stupid when I got them.”

 

“They’re so pretty though,” Clarke whispers and Lexa tries not to shudder at the way her fingertips skate up the length of her spine before finding the second tattoo at the back of her neck. She lets the touch soothe her instead and Clarke must notice because she doesn’t stop and hums gently to her as she steadily falls back to sleep.

 

She wakes up to cough a little while later and Clarke hands her another tray and disposes it before sitting back down beside her. Lexa watches her as her eyelids flutter against the tops of her cheeks.

 

“You should sleep,” she whispers. “You can go back to the dorm. I’ll be fine.”

 

Clarke shakes her head and props her chin up on her hand. Lexa pulls the blankets back without a thought and watches as Clarke eyes her curiously. She sighs before reluctantly dragging herself out of the chair and walking around to the other side of the bed. She climbs in behind Lexa and moves in close to her. Lexa can feel her breath against her neck as she turns to look at her questioningly.

 

“I didn’t want to tug on all your monitors that side,” Clarke whispers and Lexa likes how she reaches forward and arranges the pillows against the side of the bed so that she can lay more comfortably. She likes how Clarke urges her against them before pulling the blankets up around her waist. “Comfy?” she asks and Lexa’s eyes close when a hand presses to the middle of her back and a thumb starts sweeping over her skin. Her nod collapses into the pillow. “Rest.”

 

Lexa should have listened to Clarke all along.

 

//

 

The doctors tell her she can go home Sunday afternoon after six hours of her complaining that she can’t miss school.

 

Clarke tells her she’s not missing anything because she can’t go to school and Lexa spends the following three hours sulking under her covers while the doctors tell Clarke everything she needs to know. She’s written on the paperwork as the person who will be overseeing Lexa’s care and ensuring that Lexa stays safe. She’s their point of contact and Clarke takes the responsibility gladly as Lexa continues to peacefully drift in and out of sleep.

 

“I want food from that Chinese place,” Lexa mumbles as Clarke finds clean clothes for her to wear home from the bag of her things. She was surprised to find a pair of beat up old Chucks in Lexa’s things and she takes them out of the bag before replacing them with Lexa’s trademark ankle boots. “No more soup and toast.”

 

Clarke snorts. “You’re obviously feeling better.”

 

“I still feel like something’s crushing my chest but that doesn’t mean I’m not starving,” she mumbles and when Clarke turns to her, she’s smirking into her pillow.

 

“You’re a pig,” she comments as she puts the bag aside and reaches over to push Lexa’s glasses up her nose and her hair from her eyes. “You smell like one too.”

 

Lexa hums in agreement and Clarke smiles down at her as she continues to snuggle into the pillows. The doctor said she’d probably sleep constantly for the next week and Clarke’s not so worried about that. She’s not a pain in the ass when she’s sleeping. She’s sure the doctors and nurses can’t wait for them to leave.

 

After all, Lexa Woods is a little shit.

 

“I thought you wanted to go,” Clarke reminds her, hand stroking down the gap in her hospital gown. It’s a bold habit she’s developed in the last forty-eight hours and she knows she needs to stop doing it. She knows but she can’t because Lexa doesn’t seem to mind. “Can’t do that until you’re dressed.”

 

Lexa groans but they have to wait for the nurse to come and remove the cannula in the side of her hand anyway. She picked up Lexa’s medicine from the pharmacy already and she’s glad that they can finally go back to their own space. Lexa manages to set off about four alarms while changing into her sweatpants and Clarke rolls her eyes when she sasses the nurses. She acts like a complete baby when they remove the cannula and Clarke rolls her eyes as she clutches the spot like it’s a goddamn bullet wound or something. She complains the entire time she changes into her t-shirt and sweater and just takes her glasses when Clarke hands them back to her.

 

The nurses wish Clarke luck when Lexa gets wheeled down to the parking lot and Clarke laughs when Lexa laments about how she’s actually a good patient. She laughs so hard that Lexa punches her and ends up in a coughing fit. It’s funny and Lexa glares at her all the way to the Chinese takeout place where she becomes too busy ordering everything to carry on being mad.

 

It’s hot in their dorm room and Clarke makes Lexa take a shower before they eat. She stands near the bathroom door listening the entire time and hates that Lexa comes out looking uneasy. She barely eats and spends most of the time tugging uncomfortably at her t-shirt. Clarke tells her she should wear what makes her comfortable if she’s too hot and doesn’t bat an eyelid when Lexa sheepishly takes off her pajama pants. It leaves her in her t-shirt and underwear and Clarke rolls her eyes when Lexa blushes. She’s seen her in worse states and in much less this weekend.

 

Plus, it’s not like she doesn’t get cold fifteen minutes later and pull a blanket over her lap anyway.

 

She manages to stay awake until late and for some reason, it feels weird when Clarke disappears into the bathroom to change into her own pajamas. Lexa’s already in bed when she steps out and her eyes are heavy with sleep and exhaustion. Clarke steps over to pull Lexa’s blankets around her without thinking about it. It’s sort of become habit.

 

“Do you need anything?” she whispers. Lexa shakes her head and Clarke tugs the glasses from her nose before switching off the lamp on her nightstand. She falls into her own bed with a relief she didn’t know could exist, her entire body groaning in happiness as she tugs her pillow under her head and the blankets over her body. Her eyes flutter closed and it takes her seconds to fall asleep.

 

Her eyes open what feels like only a few moments later to coughing and uncomfortable shifting. She turns over and finds Lexa trying to muffle her coughs into her hands as her body winces with the pains that still overwhelm it. Clarke clicks her tongue before throwing back the covers and going to her.

 

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Lexa tries even as the sound of her chest and breathing says differently. Clarke presses a hand to her forehead and checks her pulse with the other. It’s as good as can be expected and Clarke rubs her back as she coughs into the tissues in her hands. “You can go back to bed. You can go back to bed. I’m fine.”

 

Clarke sees the black bags under her eyes and sighs. “Have you slept at all yet?”

 

Lexa pauses before shaking her head. Clarke runs her hand down Lexa’s spine and it feels strange not to be able to touch her skin. Lexa sinks into the comfort of the touch and it gives Clarke an idea.

 

“Lay down,” she whispers. Lexa does as she’s told and gets comfy in her pillows lined against the wall. She only glances anxiously back at Clarke once and softens completely when Clarke slips under the covers to lay behind her. She lies on her side and strokes the hair from Lexa’s eyes before drifting to rub over her back and shoulders. “I’ll stay here until you fall asleep, okay?”

 

It takes fifty minutes of Clarke’s hands on her body for her to fall asleep. Clarke kind of loves it and it takes her too long to move back to her own bed.

 

When Lexa wakes up coughing and panicking a few hours later, Clarke’s relieved she has no classes until that afternoon. The sun’s just about to come up and she climbs in beside Lexa and props herself up on an elbow to watch her. Her palm strokes soothing patterns over her arms and shoulders and she becomes bold when she reaches up to see if stroking her hair will soothe her too. It does and she smiles as Lexa’s body soon becomes heavy and ridiculously soft. She turns over into Clarke’s body twenty minutes later and Clarke likes how Lexa’s face buries into her neck, how her breathing seems more even than it has all weekend. She likes that Lexa reaches up to grip at her t-shirt, that she whimpers in her sleep when Clarke stops touching her.

 

She tells herself she’ll go back to her own bed soon.

 

Instead, she lets Lexa have her comfort and keeps her safe while she sleeps.

 

 

Chapter Text

She wakes up to the soft click of a door closing and the comforting smell of food. Her eyes stay closed and she snuggles closer to her pillows as she feels the familiar movements of someone behind her. She half-listens as Clarke moves around the room before her bed dips and a cool hand presses against her cheek.

 

Clarke doesn’t say anything when she reaches up to take the hand and hold it. It’s not like Lexa has it in her to care if she did anyway.

 

“How was class?” she murmurs into her pillow. Clarke lets their fingers tangle together and Lexa sighs because Clarke leans over her to let her other hand carefully stroke her hair from her eyes.

 

“It was okay,” she sighs, tucking the hair behind Lexa’s ear. “How did you sleep? Did you sleep the whole afternoon?” Lexa nods in confirmation and her eyes stay closed as Clarke plays with her hair. “That’s good,” she says softly. “I went to get some supplies.”

 

Her hands pull away and Lexa’s eyes open reluctantly. She turns onto her back with Clarke’s help and she wordlessly accepts her glasses when Clarke pushes them up her nose.

 

“So I got you some snacks in case you get hungry when I’m not here,” she explains as she goes through the bags sitting next to Lexa’s desk. There’s a case of Gatorade tucked into the corner as well as some water and just the sight of them makes Lexa thirsty. It’s almost like Clarke knows because she hands Lexa the open bottle of juice on her nightstand without thinking. “I also got a thermometer, just in case. Some cans of soup for when you’re not feeling hungry. Some flavored water if you wanted something sweet. Some tea. A thermos, so you don’t have to worry when I’m not here. Some really cute socks. Oh, and some blankets.”

 

“Blankets?”

 

Clarke pulls out the three blankets of different textures and thicknesses and starts laying them over the one already covering Lexa’s bare legs.

 

“I was thinking that it’d be easier to regulate your temperature if you had lots of blankets instead of one big thick one,” she explains, taking one of the blankets off again. Lexa smiles at her and Clarke smirks in response as she folds it and puts it by Lexa’s feet. “Plus they’re really cute and I thought they’d make a nice addition to your little nest.”

 

Lexa rolls her eyes and accepts the box of Saltines that Clarke wordlessly hands her.

 

“Oh!” Clarke says as she grabs her backpack. “I also got you some homework from your professors if you feel up to it. They also said to tell you not to worry and to just hurry up and get better.”

 

Lexa takes the papers handed to her and rests them on her lap as Clarke gets up and moves around the room again. Lexa watches her as she puts everything away and makes sure everything is in reaching distance for her. Clarke groans when she finally kicks off her shoes, dropping her jeans before searching for her sleep shorts. She tugs them up over her legs before falling onto the end of Lexa’s bed. She covers herself with the blanket and Lexa likes the way that Clarke angles her body towards hers.

 

“I was going to order Mexican food for dinner,” Clarke comments as she reaches for her laptop, already hidden beneath Lexa’s bed, and starts finding something to watch. Lexa’s eyes flutter in warning and she just watches Clarke as she makes herself comfortable. She pulls Lexa’s feet into her lap and Lexa nods in agreement as Clarke starts stroking over her bare ankles under the blankets. It’s a sensation she didn’t know she wanted or needed. It lulls her quietly back into exhaustion and Clarke doesn’t stop as she mutters about food and Netflix and annoying professors.

 

Clarke’s still talking when Lexa falls asleep.

 

//

 

She shouldn’t get used to this, to having Lexa sleeping on her chest or stomach. She shouldn’t get used to the feel of Lexa breathing exhaustedly into her neck and clutching at her clothing to keep her close. She shouldn’t be getting used to this, but she also thinks it might be too late for that.

 

She doesn’t realize how much she likes being able to comfort Lexa like this until Octavia and Raven intercept their pizza delivery guy and find Lexa sleeping with her head in Clarke’s lap. It had been a bad afternoon and Clarke had skipped class because there was a part of her that was sure they’d end up back in the hospital. After a panicked call to Dr. Lauer, he’d assured her that she was probably coughing more because the infection was clearing.

 

But Octavia and Raven still look at her in confusion when they follow in after the pizza delivery guy. Lexa doesn’t stir, too exhausted to notice. Clarke’s in the middle of watching another episode of some shitty reality TV show and they don’t understand why Clarke turns them down when they invite her to a party.

 

“I’m staying with Lexa,” she says and resisting the urge to stroke the back of Lexa’s head is like trying to hold her breath. Lexa’s nose presses against her stomach and it’s way too intimate, too telling, and God only knows what her friends think but she doesn’t care. “She’s had a bad morning and I don’t want to go too far in case we need to go to the hospital.”

 

“But Clarke…” Raven says, only to stop when Octavia gives her a warning slap to the arm. She glares at Octavia and lowers her voice to a whisper. “You don’t have to do this, you know?”

 

Clarke nods and smiles at them kindly. “I do know that,” she says. “But I don’t mind. I don’t want her getting sick again. It must be scary. It was scary.”

 

They leave with those same confused looks twenty minutes later and Clarke eases Lexa’s head from her lap to go and lock the door. Green eyes glance up at her when she returns and she helps Lexa to turn around and lay against the pillows. She forces her to eat pizza and puts on funny movies to make her feel better and, when Lexa giggles, it leaves a lump in her throat.

 

The sound overwhelms her. She wants to be near her and she puts aside the pizza box, lines up about four more movies on their Netflix queue, and then turns off all the lights. She flicks on the christmas lights she’d found for Lexa’s little nest the day before and Lexa smiles until Clarke climbs into the space behind her against the wall and rests against the pillows.

 

“Are we going to bed?” she asks timidly.

 

Clarke shakes her head and props her head up on her arm to look down at her. “No.”

 

Lexa looks scared but then nods. She curls into herself on the edge of the bed and makes sure there’s space left between them. Clarke respects that and lies quietly beside her for a long time. She’s almost sure that Lexa’s fallen asleep when she suddenly rolls over and buries her face into Clarke’s chest. It’s probably not a good sign that Clarke isn’t surprised.

 

Her fingers find Lexa’s hair without thinking about it. She pushes it away from her face and then lets her hand drift down Lexa’s back. The desperation and insecurity in Lexa’s expression when Clarke finally looks down at her makes her breath hitch in her throat. She looks so scared and Clarke feels the question bubble up her throat thoughtlessly as she shifts closer.

 

“Why did you get them to call me?” she whispers softly, snuggling into the pillow. “To the hospital?”

 

A million things cross Lexa’s expression and, for a moment, Clarke’s sure that she’s going to get up and run away or unknowingly make her feel like shit again. She’s sure that Lexa’s going to say something that will play on her mind for days but instead Lexa swallows thickly and grits her jaw. Her hand finds Clarke’s t-shirt and her green eyes flutter over Clarke’s face before speaking.

 

“Because there’s no one else,” she finally whispers.

 

Clarke can’t stop watching how her throat moves as she keeps awkwardly swallowing back the emotion she feels. Lexa watches her carefully when she glances back up to her face. There’s awe to her expression that makes Clarke feel big and important. She keeps stroking Lexa’s back for a long time, enjoying how Lexa’s eyes seem to soften and drift closed. She’s almost asleep when Clarke can’t help but speak again.

 

“Lexa, when you say no one,” she asks carefully. “What do you—”

 

“I mean that there’s no one,” she whispers without opening her eyes. “I don’t have anyone else. Except, Anya, but she’s… She tries.” She swallows thickly again and her expression changes in the low light of the room as her eyes open. She’s scared and Clarke can tell because her hand tightens in Clarke’s shirt. “I don’t have anyone, Clarke. No friends. No family. I—I grew up in the system.” She soldiers on past Clarke’s unsteady exhale of breath. “I’ve never had a dad, just a shitty mom. I was too old and messed up when she abandoned me so they didn’t think I had much chance of finding a family. They put me in a children’s home instead.”

 

She stops and everything goes quiet for a long time. Clarke feels her wince when she starts stroking Lexa’s hair again. She has no idea what to say. She has no idea what to think. She always assumed that Lexa had a big, important family somewhere and she didn’t like talking about them. She assumed that Lexa had received the same opportunities and experiences that she had. She’d assumed that Lexa had people who loved and cared about her and wanted to know that she was safe. She’d assumed that everyone did.

 

It’s a naïve way of thinking. She realizes that now.

 

“I’m sorry,” she whispers.

 

Lexa’s eyes flutter open and she laughs. Regardless of everything, she’s still able to laugh.

 

“Why?” she smiles. “It’s not your fault.”

 

Clarke feels ready to argue with that, even as she accepts Lexa’s words. She wonders how lonely Lexa’s probably felt for most of her life. She thinks about the things she’s never had. She’s sure now, that Lexa’s probably never had someone willing and wanting to look after her out of something that isn’t duty or obligation. She’s sure that Lexa’s never known a person who actually cares. Her fighting and refusal makes so much sense and she feels awful for not realizing. She feels horrible for not noticing that Lexa was so obviously alone, so incapable of accepting help.

 

Lexa’s eyes are wide and afraid when Clarke finds them with hers. Her stomach sinks when she realizes that Lexa’s waiting for her to leave, waiting for her to stop caring too.

 

She chuckles sadly and Clarke can do little more than just watch.

 

“People scare me,” she admits in a whisper.

 

Clarke’s fingers tangle in her hair and cup the back of her neck protectively. She needs Lexa to feel this inherent, hopeless protectiveness inside of her. She needs her to be aware of it and know that it’s there and that she can have it. Something inside of her shouts at her to make sure that Lexa never feels alone ever again.

 

She thinks Lexa notices because she swallows thickly and studies Clarke carefully.

 

“You scare me, too,” she tells Clarke honestly. “But not as much as everyone else. You’re—you’re different. That’s why I asked them to call you.”

 

Clarke lets her breath hitch. She’s glad when Lexa buries her head in her chest instead of saying anything else. She doesn’t know how to put into words what she thinks and feels, what she wants and wishes. She doesn’t know how to explain to someone who’s probably heard it promised and broken a million times before that she doesn’t have to be scared, that Clarke will be gentle with her and do everything she can to make sure she’s okay.

 

But Lexa is warm and safe against her chest.

 

That says enough for now.

 

//

 

The next morning, Clarke’s in bed with her when she wakes up and that’s not something she’s familiar with. She’s facing the wall, away from Lexa, and Lexa wakes up with her head resting between Clarke’s shoulder blades. She’s comfy and warm, not nearly as cold as she’d woken up the last few mornings. She’s surprised she’s not coughing yet and she breathes easier as her eyes flutter closed again.

 

She wonders if she’d have felt this much better if she’d told Clarke the truth earlier. She wonders if that’s what’s made everything feel different.

 

She doesn’t move when Clarke groans and turns over. Her face ends up buried back in Clarke’s neck and Lexa doesn’t want to think that Clarke sounds content at the sensation. She hums and Lexa tangles her hand in the fabric of Clarke’s shirt when a hand starts stroking up and down her back. It’s more delicate than normal.

 

“Morning,” Clarke whispers and Lexa only nods in response, already letting her eyes flutter closed again. Clarke groans a second later and it rumbles from her chest into her throat and against Lexa’s cheek. “I hate Thursdays. Classes all day.”

 

Lexa swallows against the feel of Clarke wrapping her tangled brown curls around a finger and watching them fall back around her neck. There’s something impossibly softer about her this morning, something delicate and gentler than she’s grown familiar with. It panics and soothes her at the same time.

 

“Cold pizza for lunch, then,” she comments around a yawn.

 

Clarke scratches at the back of her neck. “I can quickly go get you something and bring it back around one.”

 

Lexa shakes her head. “It’s okay. Maybe I’ll venture out and go make myself some tomato soup to dunk it in.”

 

“That’s so fucking gross,” Clarke snorts and then scoffs when her phone starts vibrating across Lexa’s nightstand. She grabs it and Lexa hears the tapping of the keys as Clarke checks it over her shoulder. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she comments and Lexa looks up when her head collapses into the pillow. “Octavia and Raven want to get breakfast before class.”

 

Lexa yawns, already halfway back to sleep. The fact that she’s tired all the time is less annoying when Clarke’s here.

 

“You should go,” she sleepy sighs.

 

Clarke’s touches drift down her neck, to the place where it meets her shoulders, and then back up behind Lexa’s ears. “I can stay…”

 

Lexa moves closer and throws an arm around Clarke’s waist in her half-asleep state. Her touch drifts under Lexa’s collar and Lexa hums in appreciation before speaking. “I’ll be fine,” she whispers even though she never wants these sensations to stop. “Go get breakfast.”

 

Clarke’s touch doesn’t let up and she doesn’t move. It’s not until they’re still lying there and Lexa’s almost completely back to sleep that she speaks.

 

“I’ll stay,” she whispers. “Just until you fall asleep.”

 

The next time Lexa wakes up, Clarke’s gone but she can smell her on her pillow as if she were still here.

 

//

 

They spend Friday evening and the weekend building Lexa’s stamina back up to return to class on Monday. They take long walks around the lake and venture into the nearby town to get take out from the local Italian restaurant. Lexa does better than Clarke thought but she still collapses into bed that night from exhaustion.

 

She promises to take it easy when they’re laying together in Lexa’s bed on Monday morning. Neither of them mentions how Lexa’s been sleeping fine by herself for days and just goes with it, too content with the routine to care what it means.

 

Clarke walks her to class and doesn’t feel like she can leave until Lexa talks to the TA and tells her about what things they should be looking out for to make sure she doesn’t get sick again. They force her to sit on the front row and Clarke gives her a teasing smile before she leaves for her own class. She spends the whole day wondering and worrying if Lexa’s doing okay.

 

She’s less exhausted than Clarke expects when she gets back to her room that evening, but she’s still ridiculously tired and face plants onto the bed. She agrees to go for dinner in the dining hall and eats like a horse. Clarke smiles and excuses them from the small group of acquaintances they eat with, encouraging Lexa back upstairs where she face plants onto the bed again. Clarke has no qualms about helping her to take off her jeans and tossing them over her desk chair to leave Lexa in her shirt and underwear. She leaves on Lexa’s socks so her feet don’t get cold and removes her glasses before she breaks them. Lexa doesn’t argue as she takes out the braids in her hair and removes her watch and jewelry. She’s practically asleep when Clarke finally climbs into the bed beside her and Clarke doesn’t understand why she’s still doing this, just that she has to do it.

 

All she knows is that they both need this but neither of them is brave enough to say they shouldn’t or figure out why.

 

“Octavia says that Zoe Monroe’s having a twenty-first birthday party tomorrow,” Clarke mutters as she lets her hand press to Lexa’s back.

 

Lexa makes a sound of disapproval. “Zoe Monroe who lives on this floor?” she questions. Clarke nods. “How? How will she get away with that with the RAs?”

 

Clarke snorts. “She is the RA.”

 

“Really?” Lexa says. “That explains some stuff. Whatever. Netflix with my earphones in tomorrow night.”

 

Clarke pokes her in the side and rolls her eyes. “Or you could like, go to it and be a sociable human being.”

 

Lexa rolls over onto her back and stares up at her. Clarke tries to remain soft and steadfast in her expression and shrugs when Lexa looks at her dubiously.

 

“If I get bored can I come back?” she whispers.

 

Clarke snorts but nods anyway. She’s too surprised Lexa’s agreeing to bargain. “Of course,” she smiles. “I won’t even ask you to have a drink. We can go and watch people be dumb and dance to shitty music.”

 

Lexa smirks. “Sounds awesome.”

 

Clarke shoves her and shakes her head. “Just come with me.”

 

Something changes in Lexa’s expression and, for a second, Clarke’s heart stops when Lexa’s eyes slowly drift to look down at her neck and then her lips. They dart back up a second later and her smile is so wide and true, Clarke wishes it wasn’t weird to ask her if she could take a picture of it.

 

“Okay then,” she agrees.

 

Her smile widens when Clarke grins.

 

//

 

She doesn’t dress up and she gives Clarke very clear instructions that she has to make sure that no one—no one—can come in their room. Clarke looks at her like she understands something Lexa’s never told her and tugs on the bottom of her shirt to force her outside and into the hall.

 

Music has pounded through the walls for about an hour now. Lexa has no idea what she’s doing but Clarke keeps smiling at her like she knows exactly what she’s thinking. There’s a warm palm on the base of her back as Clarke guides her through to the common area at the end of the hall.

 

It’s already full to the brim with people, most of them people who Lexa doesn’t really recognize. The counters of the kitchenette are covered in alcohol and there’s a sound system set up in the corner. Lexa moves to loiter behind Clarke and Clarke lets her as she guides them over to the drinks. She takes a beer for herself and cracks it open, quirks a questioning eyebrow at Lexa and then smirks when Lexa nods.

 

She shrugs it off. The anxiety Lexa usually feels around drunk people isn’t there and she’s sure it’s probably because Clarke is. She feels safe and knows that Clarke will make sure she stays that way.

 

“Ugh, the boys are here,” Clarke comments as she guides them to the edge of the room. Lexa looks over and sees a group of boys already playing drinking games in the corner. “Octavia said they weren’t coming.”

 

Lexa recognizes one of the boys as Finn and she glances at Clarke whose expression doesn’t change as she continues surveying the room. She leans in close so Lexa can hear her speak.

 

“That’s Jasper,” she says, pointing to a tall, silly looking guy with goggles on his head. “And Bellamy—Octavia’s big brother. And Lincoln, her boyfriend. He’s awesome. Oh god,” she comments as she tilts her head to the side. “Murphy’s here. That means this party will almost likely end up getting dumb and stupid. Unless someone punches him first.”

 

Lexa smirks and hopes for the latter because that would probably be funny. The guy in question looks like a typical frat boy and he keeps moving around to all the girls, desperately hoping one of them will humor his advances.

 

“Lexa!” Someone shouts and Lexa turns to find Raven and Octavia coming towards them. Raven grabs hold of her arm and looks at her with wide eyes. “Oh my god, Lexa’s here!” she says to Clarke. “Octavia, Lexa’s here!”

 

“I can see her, you dumbass,” Octavia murmurs and rolls her eyes at Clarke and Lexa. “Someone’s been pre-gaming this party since her last class finished at three. Please excuse her drunk ass.”

 

Lexa doesn’t say anything and Clarke just rolls her eyes as Raven launches forward to wrap her arms around Clarke’s body. She shares a look with Octavia and Lexa’s surprised when Octavia turns and smiles at her.

 

“Good to see you’re better, Lexa,” she says softly and sincerely. “And to see you’re here, of course.”

 

Lexa smiles and nods before glancing at Clarke who’s trying to prop Raven against the wall and check her over.

 

“She’s your problem now, Mom,” Octavia says to Clarke as she tries to ply Raven with water to sober her up. “I’m gonna go find Lincoln. Have fun!”

 

Clarke rolls her eyes and Lexa sips her beer as Clarke forces Raven to sit down and shut up.

 

“Now you can see why I’m driven to drink like a fool,” Clarke mumbles as she stands up. She snaps at Raven once more to stay still before turning to Lexa. “How’re you doing? You okay?”

 

Lexa smirks and nods. She thinks that she probably could have coped with parties all along if she had Clarke to hang around. It gives her a pang of regret for that first meeting they shared and she shakes it off because she can’t change it now. She can, however, give herself the things she’s always stopped herself from wanting. There’s something about Clarke that makes her want to seek them out now.

 

At least, she thinks it’s Clarke’s fault. It could be that being faced with her own mortality has changed her.

 

“Do you want to dance?” she says and the words shock even her.

 

Clarke’s eyebrows are practically in her hairline when she looks at her. She searches Lexa’s face for sarcasm, only stopping when Lexa holds out her hand. She holds it tight, like she’s waiting for Lexa to change her mind. As he passes, she grabs the collar of the guy she introduced as Jasper and forces him to watch over Raven. Lexa smiles at her and downs the rest of her beer, disposing of the bottle before letting Clarke lead her into the thick thrum of sweaty, dancing bodies. They get stopped a few times and Clarke wordlessly accepts shots from people who call her “Party Girl”. She smiles at them all politely, talks to them all like they’re her best friends, but always comes back to Lexa.

 

It’s not until they’re in the middle of the crowd that Lexa realizes she has no idea what to do. The music is loud and full of bass and Lexa isn’t sure about the way that the floor vibrates with the sound and makes her feel unsteady. She glances at Clarke and hopes that she understands.

 

She does and takes Lexa’s hand again, lifting it into the air to twirl her around. An arm wraps expertly around her waist as Clarke pulls her back into her body. The song slows to a slower, easier beat and Lexa can do nothing but enjoy the way that Clarke locks her hips against Lexa’s backside and keeps her close. She urges their bodies to move slowly together in an easy beat and Lexa likes the way that Clarke smiles proudly into her neck when she follows. It makes it easier for her to forget that Clarke’s body is pressed entirely against her. It makes it easier for her to follow Clarke’s movements as they get more complex like the others around them.

 

Lexa thinks she could stay in this crowd forever. She doesn’t understand how she can feel so close to Clarke when they’re surrounded by dozens of other people. She doesn’t understand it but she doesn’t question it either.

 

Clarke smiles when the song transitions into the next and changes their movements. The song is faster and louder and Lexa finds herself giggling as she struggles to keep up. It’s one of those songs that has a slow build and Clarke encourages Lexa to turn around and face her. Clarke’s cheeks are pink and flushed, her eyes glassy, and Lexa wonders if those few shots she took helped. Clarke pokes her tongue through her teeth in amusement when the drop hits and Lexa jumps. She takes her hands and encourages her into a twirl until Lexa’s back leaning against her front. Her hands take Lexa’s and Lexa giggles when Clarke moves her arms into ridiculous dance moves before wrapping them around her. Clarke keeps nosing into the back of her neck and it makes Lexa wish they were in her bed, as much as she wants to stay right here.

 

“Having fun?” Clarke whispers when the song changes again but she doesn’t move to let go, doesn’t untangle them so that they can leave the crowd. Lexa nods and likes the squeeze Clarke places around her middle. “Feeling okay?”

 

Lexa hums and she stays in Clarke’s arms until her feet hurt, until Clarke turns her around and asks her if she wants a drink. Lexa almost says no, too content with what they’re doing to need anything else. But she’s sweaty and thirsty so she nods instead. Clarke leads them to the alcohol and mixes Lexa a drink. It’s sweet and spicy and Lexa hums as she takes another taste. She can already feel it going straight to her head.

 

“Clarkey!” someone shouts and Clarke rolls her eyes before turning around to find Octavia coming towards her. She looks much more drunk than she had before and she collides into Clarke, jolting Lexa back too. “We need two more for Kings. Come play! Lexa, you too!”

 

Clarke goes to speak but Lexa finds herself shaking her head to say it’s okay. Clarke gives her a searching look but Lexa just takes her hand and follows after Octavia. She stands beside Clarke at the table and ignores the shocked looks from the other girls around them. The game is dumb but she keeps up and probably drinks more than she should. She thinks she’s possibly having a good game because luck seems to be on her side and she doesn’t drink nearly as much as Jasper and Octavia’s boyfriend, Lincoln.

 

“Shit, Woods,” Raven says, still drunk but looking better off than she had before. “You know how to hold your booze.”

 

Clarke looks like she’s ready to agree. Lexa’s sure it’s just because she’s the only one here who drank a ton of water and lined their stomach with food before she came out. Still, her eyelids flutter and Clarke takes her hand once everyone has dispersed. Lexa’s limbs feel soft and heavy and she stumbles into Clarke as Clarke guides her back out into the hall.

 

“Where are we going?” she slurs and tries to ignore the people quite brazenly making out inside the open bedrooms they walk past. Just thinking about them makes Lexa’s heart pound for something she’s sure she’ll never get.

 

Clarke chuckles and turns to her, reaching for her keys out of the pocket of her jeans. “I think someone needs to go to bed.”

 

The music still pulses loudly around them and Lexa wonders how anyone will ever sleep with everything going on. She assumes that the party will probably last into the early hours. She’s used to having to fall asleep listening to music when parties like this happen. Lexa wonders how much Clarke used to drink because she doesn’t seem nearly as bad as she has when Lexa’s looked after her before. Her eyes are just glassy and dark. She has the use of all of her faculties as she manages to get the door open. She leads Lexa inside, handing her a bottle of water as soon as she sits down on her bed.

 

“Drink that,” she chuckles and then gets a bottle of water of her own. She doesn’t even slur her words.

 

It still feels weird for Clarke to be taking care of her when she’s like this, even after the past couple of weeks when looking after her is all Clarke’s done. Lexa drinks the water and then smiles dumbly at Clarke. The alcohol just makes her feel warm and sleepy. She doesn’t even feel sick but she knows that she probably will in the morning.

 

Her dumb smile drops when Clarke moves closer and kneels in front of her. She brushes the hair out of Lexa’s eyes and Lexa gets stuck staring at her lips.

 

“How’d you handle all that booze so well?” Clarke ponders out loud. “You barely look like it’s affected you.”

 

Lexa licks her lips and lets her eyes flutter over Clarke’s face before speaking.

 

“I have exceptional internal organs,” she tells her and Clarke shakes her head in amusement. Lexa smiles and reaches to hold the forearm of the hand that rests on her thigh. “I have exceptional external organs too.”

 

That makes Clarke laugh out loud and she reaches up to brush Lexa’s hair from her eyes again. “So modest,” she whispers. “Do you want to go to bed?”

 

Lexa nods and notices the exhaustion suddenly filling her body past the warm, drunk haze. “I really do.”

 

She takes her shoes and jacket off as Clarke gets up and locks their bedroom door. She grabs her PJs before silently heading for the bathroom. Lexa doesn’t think twice about shoving off her jeans and the silk blouse Clarke had told her she looked pretty in. She changes into a plain white t-shirt and manages to pull her bra out through the sleeves. She’s mentally punching the air when Clarke appears from the bathroom in her t-shirt and sleep shorts.

 

“Go brush your teeth,” she instructs as she falls into Lexa’s bed instead of her own.

 

Lexa does as she’s told, stumbling gracefully over to the bathroom, and when she comes out, Clarke’s already half asleep in her bed. Blue eyes watch her as she walks over and her body shifts to make room for Lexa behind her. Lexa climbs into the space against the wall and snuggles into her pillows.

 

When an arm wraps around her waist, she doesn’t mention it. It already feels like it belongs there.

 

Clarke buries her head into Lexa’s hair and that’s the last thing she remembers before she falls asleep.

 

//

 

For a moment when she wakes up, she forgets where she is. She’s not sure why she’s awake but when her ears finally tune in to her surroundings, even as her eyes struggle to open, she realizes that she can still hear the music of the party along the hall.

 

It’s frustrating and annoying and she’s pretty sure that it’s the reason she’s awake until she suddenly remembers where she is. It catches her off guard at first, because something feels different about waking up beside Lexa to what it usually does. There’s no face buried into her neck, no head resting heavy on her chest. Lexa feels odd against her and when she realizes why it sets her entire body alight with embarrassment.

 

Because Lexa’s not against her, or beside her.

 

She’s underneath her.

 

Clarke feels a sudden rush of guilt as she takes note of the positioning of their bodies. Lexa lays on her front, flat against the mattress, the majority of the pillows that were once supporting their heads now shoved off the mattress and littering the floor. Clarke feels her heart rate increase as she carefully pulls back and quietly gasps at the way her body fits into Lexa’s. She’s almost lying completely atop her, her front against Lexa’s back, her arms pressed either side of her body. The worst part of it all is that her leg is between Lexa’s, wedged tightly into the apex of her thighs enough that she can feel things she shouldn’t be able to feel.

 

It makes her breath hitch in her throat and she has no idea what to do. Her brain doesn’t know how to function when she can feel the soft warmth of Lexa’s body against her own. The heat between Lexa’s thighs makes her aware of the deep, burning ache afire between her own legs.

 

She knows that she has to pull away. She knows that the right thing for her to do is to get up and finally sleep in her own cold bed for the first time in days. She should leave Lexa to sleep comfortably as she struggles to find rest in her own bed, shouldering the burden of what’s happened by herself. But the blankets are tangled around their legs, and she doesn’t know how she’s going to escape this absolute embarrassment without alerting Lexa to it too.

 

All she wants is to be able to retreat silently and try to forget that this ever happened. She wants to remember this far in the future and be able to smile that she did the right thing. She wants to keep Lexa safe and she doesn’t know how to do that when they’re in such a predicament.

 

She decides to bite the bullet and get it over with like ripping off a Band-Aid. She leans up onto her hands and shudders uncomfortably as the move shifts her closer. She grits her teeth against the feeling before trying to swiftly move away.

 

It doesn’t work when the thighs on either side of her own clench tightly and refuse to let her go. She freezes at the feel of it and glances down at the body beneath her to finally notice how tense it is. It sets her skin on fire with hope and arousal and she lets her breath hitch as she tunes her body into Lexa’s. She presses her thigh down harder, just to test the reaction.

 

Lexa shudders and Clarke gasps as she turns her head and buries it into the pillow beneath her. The sudden power she holds is intoxicating and the kind of drunk she feels right now is richer and more concentrated than any alcohol could ever make her. Lexa’s wet against her thigh and Clarke presses her face between tense shoulder blades to stop herself from doing something stupid like moaning.

 

Lexa’s shaking beneath her and she’s so warm. Clarke can’t stop herself from moving up to pant against her neck because the sudden craving for Lexa’s skin is like a fever. She gasps back every moan that threatens to leave her into a shudder and tries to analyze the moment to gauge her next move.

 

Strong, pale thighs refuse to let up squeezing her own and the wetness between Lexa’s legs just seems to increase. She wants this, and Clarke gasps in the truth of that realization when Lexa’s hips shuffle back seeking more contact. She needs this and Clarke gives another experimental push against her until Lexa lurches helplessly forward, her hands gripping the sheets either side of her head and holding on tight.

 

Clarke feels like this is the thing she’s needed to do to look after Lexa all along. She realizes that there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for this girl underneath her and it scares her as much as it makes her feel at peace. She lowers her body to Lexa’s and gives another, harder rock of her hips, loving the way that Lexa lets out a sharp, desperate gasp into her pillow.

 

“Clarke…” she starts, pulling back to turn around but Clarke drops her weight against her so that she can’t move. She lets out her own gasp against Lexa’s neck and pants there as her hands fit their way around her body to squeeze encouragingly at Lexa’s hips.

 

“Let me take care of you,” she begs into her skin and Lexa whimpers helplessly, nodding when Clarke rocks more boldly against her.

 

She finds a slow and lazy rhythm at first. Her movements are tentative and careful because she doesn’t want to scare her. She wants Lexa to be able to tell her if she realizes she doesn’t want to do this anymore. She wants Lexa to be able to tell her to stop because she knows she’ll never be able to make that choice on her own. But Lexa doesn’t say anything. She just seems to get warmer, her skin hotter than when she had her fever. She desperately reaches up to find something sturdier to hold onto and Clarke watches as one hand finds the rungs of the headboard.

 

Her body falters when Clarke reaches to hold the other hand still clutched in the sheets and anchors them together.

 

She muffles the sounds she makes into the pillow and Clarke wants to hear them. She wants a lot of things and she feels her hips moving more surely against Lexa. Her own sex grinds against the back of Lexa’s thigh when Lexa starts pushing back into her movements and it drives her crazy. She pants harder against Lexa’s neck and can’t stop herself when her mouth closes to press the softest kisses there. Lexa shudders again and Clarke can’t stop wetly pressing her mouth to her skin. Her nose traces the outline of Lexa’s tattoo at her hairline as the hand not holding Lexa’s reaches to roam her body.

 

She grips Lexa’s hip and gives herself no time for doubt when she reaches for the hem of Lexa’s shirt and urges it up her body. She tugs it until it gathers under her arms and tries to ignore how damp Lexa feels between her legs. She wants to ask Lexa if she can take her ruined underwear off but she doesn’t want to scare her. She’s never done anything like this before, after all, and Clarke almost wants to stop when she remembers that. She almost wants to stop and then she feels Lexa’s backside rub up against her and she forgets it completely.

 

She doesn’t forget that she wants to make sure Lexa gets what she needs and to learn what Lexa likes. She wants to touch every inch of her and discover which parts get the best responses. She strokes up her side as she sucks at the back of her neck, squeezes her hip as their bodies collide before reaching around to stroke her belly. She listens carefully for changes in the sound of Lexa’s muffled noises, hoping to hear her more clearly. She wants to find different ways to make Lexa draw away from the pillow with a whimper and a gasp for breath.

 

She feels like her own arousal is dripping down her thighs by the time that Lexa manages to push up onto an elbow and push harder back into her. When she opens her eyes, she can see the angles of Lexa’s body. She can see the beautiful expanse of her bare back and the teasing curves that lead underneath her. She’s sweaty too; her soft curls damp with sweat at the back of her neck. Her movements falter and Clarke doesn’t think before she curls her hand underneath her body to cup one incredibly soft breast in her hand. It’s an instinctive act to keep Lexa steady and when she lets out an undeniably loud moan into her pillow, Clarke knows that it was worth it.

 

Lexa’s always been worth it.

 

//

 

Lexa doesn’t know what she’s doing. She doesn’t know what she’s doing.

 

She doesn’t know what she’s doing but she seems to be managing anyway.

 

She doesn’t know how she could be doing anything other than managing when Clarke Griffin is kissing the back of her neck and stroking her chest as she moves so wickedly against her. Clarke’s thigh is strong and firm and this is not how Lexa thought her first sexual experience would go. It’s not like she wanted candles and rose petals but she didn’t think that it would be Clarke. She didn’t think that she’d get so much arousal from something so simple. She didn’t know that she’d feel so much from this kind of stimulation.

 

Her lungs burn but not in a way that scares her. She leans up on her forearms as her forehead presses into the pillow in front of her. She’s worried if she doesn’t muffle the noises she makes then she’ll scare Clarke away. They seem unnecessary, desperate and excessive. Her forehead furrows as her hips move instinctively back against Clarke’s movements. She thinks—she thinks—that she can feel Clarke wet against her thigh but that thought feels too good to be true.

 

It feels too good to be true but then all of this does. She never imagined Clarke Griffin would ever be touching her chest and kissing her neck. Clarke keeps delicately stroking over her nipples and Lexa shudders each time. She wishes she could feel as much of Clarke as Clarke feels of her.

 

“Clarke,” she grunts when the hand holding hers against the mattress reaches up to push the hair away from her face. “Clarke…” she whimpers, neck arching into her lips. “Oh.”

 

Clarke must hear her and it makes her flush until Clarke’s mouth descends lower and starts moving over her back. A tongue pokes against her skin and Lexa’s knuckles go white as she desperately holds back the moan that aches to leave her. Clarke pants hotly against her skin and she waits for Clarke to kiss her skin but she never does. Her mouth moves over her but it’s almost like she can’t kiss her, like she doesn’t have the energy. Her hand finds Lexa’s chest again, fingertips skirting under the fabric of the shirt to stroke up the column of her throat before fluttering down through her cleavage. Her palm flattens over Lexa’s stomach and Lexa gasps when she rubs teasingly over her belly until working back up again. Clarke’s hair tickles over her skin as she moves lower down her body, somehow managing to press a pacifying kiss to the middle of her back.

 

Lexa almost shouts when Clarke separates from her and leans up on her knees. She almost turns around to look at her and regrets not doing so when she feels the telltale softness of Clarke’s bare breasts against her back. One of her hands finds Lexa’s chest again and keeps stroking while the other moves the hair back from her face. Clarke’s mouth attaches to the curve of her neck and their cheeks almost press together when Clarke starts releasing the most gorgeous breathy sounds against her ear.

 

They’re hitched—desperate—and Lexa bites the pillow as she feels the telltale embers of release start burning between her legs. Clarke’s entire body feels tight and ready to snap against her and Lexa doesn’t understand why she hasn’t yet as her movements become slower and longer, each one punctuated by the soft gasp that she releases into Lexa’s ear.

 

“Lexa,” she mutters and there’s something soft and reverent about her voice that draws Lexa away from the pillow. Her breath catches with each hard press of Clarke’s thigh against her center, dragging over her clit. Clarke sucks on her neck and whimpers. “Lexa.”

 

Her voice is questioning and Lexa waits for whatever it is but the question never leaves Clarke’s lips. Instead one of her hands fumbles until Lexa can feel it between their bodies. She gasps and arches her neck, unprepared for the touch of Clarke’s hand over her backside, teasing between her legs as fingertips graze the inner crease of her groin and tug her underwear aside.

 

Her mouth falls open with a gasp, her back arching as Clarke’s pleased smile presses against the back of her neck. Lexa sighs and she can feel the skin of Clarke’s thigh directly against her as Clarke keeps tugging her underwear aside. She’s unprepared for the slide of her center against Clarke, for how soaked she is. Clarke hums in appreciation, her fingers lazily stroking her nipples again, and the stimulation is like nothing Lexa’s ever felt. Her release builds quickly, brokenly, and with a few more slow presses of Clarke’s thigh, she comes, unable to stop the long, broken moan that leaves her as her body undulates with the pleasure.

 

It’s not until the blackened haze of her orgasm leaves her that she realizes Clarke’s still writhing against her. She’s more desperate now and Lexa lays flat against the mattress as Clarke ruts against her. Her chin tucks into the curve of Lexa’s neck and Lexa somehow manages to get her jelly arms to reach for her, hand tangling into her hair and tugging encouragingly.

 

“Clarke,” she whispers. “Clarke.”

 

Lexa turns her head to the side, just enough to find her face and feels her stomach bottom out at the way Clarke instantly nuzzles into her cheek. She kisses there and Lexa only has to watch for a few more moments before Clarke’s mouth drops open and her body stops. It hovers against her for a long time, tense and unmoving, before Clarke shakes, hips jerking until they collapse against her.

 

Clarke’s eyes clench shut at the feeling and Lexa watches her quietly until they softly open again. It makes her breathless, how fucking blue they are. Their bodies shift, Clarke’s falling to the side as Lexa angles into her. Lexa pillows her head on her forearms and loves the way that Clarke looks at her. Her arms wrap around Lexa’s middle and her chin rests on Lexa’s shoulder. It makes Lexa feel everything all at once and she smiles lazily when Clarke just blinks at her in surprise.

 

When Clarke leans in to press their foreheads together, it’s about as much as she can take. Her face softens and she’s pretty sure her heart stops. They take it in turns glancing at each other’s mouths and it’s like the last few moments never happened because she still feels nervous when Clarke nudges their noses together. Her breath still catches when blue eyes anxiously search hers and Clarke’s lips quirk up as she leans in.

 

Her eyes flutter closed and Lexa sighs in anticipation before—

 

“Clarke! Clarkey! Clarke! Let us innnnnnnnn!”

 

Clarke jumps away from her and Lexa startles too, blinking out of the moment as someone starts banging on the door.

 

“Clarrrrrrrrke!” Raven shouts as Octavia yells profanities at someone along the hall.

 

Clarke shoots her an annoyed glance before Lexa snorts and buries her face back in her arms. She feels Clarke pull away from her and turns to watch her as she steps over to the door. She manages to catch a glimpse of Clarke’s naked back as she pulls her t-shirt back on and smirks when she grabs a pair of sweatpants off the floor to cover the noticeable wet patch on her shorts.

 

Lexa closes her eyes as the reality sinks in. Her skin burns as she reaches down to rearrange her underwear and pull her shirt back down over her body. She rolls onto her side against the wall, closing her eyes and burying her face back in the pillow as Clarke opens the door to her friends. She hopes they can’t see her blushing.

 

“Can we sleep here?” Octavia says. “Some dumbass lost our keys and we can’t be bothered to find them.”

 

Clarke pauses and doesn’t say anything before Raven’s stumbling in and nose-diving onto her unmade bed. Lexa’s heart pounds with the adrenaline she feels and she doesn’t know what’s going on as Octavia steps in mumbling about being tired. Clarke closes the door behind them and makes sure they don’t break anything. They curl into Clarke’s bed and Lexa can feel Clarke hovering awkwardly in the middle of the room like she doesn’t know what to do.

 

“Clarke,” Raven grumbles and Lexa’s pretty sure they both await the inevitable discovery. “Clarke, I’m sorry but there’s not enough room for you in this bed.”

 

Clarke snorts and Lexa smiles when she feels Clarke put the discarded pillows back on Lexa’s bed and pull the blankets back over her body. She climbs in behind her and they both lay there quietly as Raven and Octavia drunkenly mumble until they fall asleep. Lexa can feel Clarke still awake behind her. She can hear the unsteadiness of her breathing and it makes her feel safe.

 

She doesn’t expect for Clarke shuffle in closer to her once the room lapses into silence, but she does. Her forehead presses against the back of Lexa’s neck and a warm hand squeezes at her bare hip beneath the fabric of her t-shirt. Clarke’s hand drifts down and strokes over her stomach again, stopping and withdrawing when Lexa bites back a gasp. A smile grows against Lexa’s neck at the sound and Lexa gives a tiny shove backwards. Clarke sighs and wraps an arm comfortably and innocently around her middle in response.

 

Lexa leaves it there for a few moments, testing how right it feels, before she reaches across her body to hold it against her. Clarke tangles their fingers together and Lexa buries her smile into the pillow when Clarke grins against her neck.

 

It takes them ages to fall asleep.

 

 

Chapter Text

It’s early.

 

She’s sure she hasn’t slept nearly as many hours as she would have liked. She doesn’t really feel like she’s been asleep at all and she’s not sure why she’s awake now. She’s glad she didn’t drink much last night because she knows she could have felt way worse than she does. Her head feels a little fuzzy and her stomach is knotty with the need for food, but mostly she just feels really cold.

 

It’s a little confusing because she was so warm when she fell asleep. She’d felt so soft and heavy with release. When she remembers why she felt those things, she also remembers where she is and realizes why she’s cold. It’s because the blankets aren’t on them because they’re smothering Clarke’s hand instead. They pile over her arm where it presses against Lexa’s back to keep her close. They must have gotten tangled up and discarded when Lexa turned over in her sleep.

 

Clarke shifts closer with her eyes closed and opens them when she suddenly feels Lexa’s breaths against her face. They’re practically squashed together and Clarke likes that Lexa’s arms aren’t held protectively between their bodies like usual. Her arm falls limply around Clarke’s waist as her head tilts sleepily forward where it’s not propped up by the fist that usually rests under her chin. The other arm folds across her stomach to clutch at the arm Clarke has wrapped around her.

 

They’re so close that it’s easy for Clarke to edge across the pillow and nudge her nose against Lexa’s. Lexa barely stirs and lets out the softest, prettiest, sleepiest sigh. It causes a smile to break out across Clarke’s face and she bites her bottom lip to stop herself from giggling. The sound leaves Lexa again when Clarke leans back in and squashes their noses together. It’s gentle and delicate and it’s so fucking endearing. Clarke untangles her hand from the blankets, lazily pulling them back over their bodies as a wave of protectiveness washes over her. She makes sure every bit of them is covered before she lets her hand disappear back underneath.

 

It’s probably a little bold—and her touch is probably freezing—but she allows her hand to slip under Lexa’s t-shirt and stroke the skin beneath. Her fingers make gentle patterns up Lexa’s back and Clarke knows the exact moment Lexa wakes up.

 

Her breath hitches and her body stiffens for a long, confused moment. Her brow furrows before realization sets in and her entire being softens and sinks completely against Clarke.

 

“You hands are cold,” she whispers, her eyes still closed.

 

Clarke doesn’t stop and lets her fingertips venture close to the waistband of Lexa’s underwear instead. “You stole all the blankets,” she breathes back. “It woke me up.”

 

Lexa hums out another sleepy sigh except it rumbles happily in her throat. “Pretty sure that was the rain.”

 

Clarke tilts her head and looks up to the window above Lexa’s bed. Sure enough, the rain beats heavily against the glass and Clarke doesn’t know how she missed it.

 

When she turns back, she’s surprised to find green, sleepy eyes watching her.

 

They’re so clear and pretty that it forces a gulp up her throat. She gets stuck staring into them for a long time before she thinks of something to say.

 

“Do you want your glasses?” she whispers.

 

Lexa shakes her head. “I can see you,” she whispers, curling the arm across her stomach up around the pillow. Clarke tries not to jolt when soft fingers start playing with her hair. “How are you?”

 

Clarke snorts. “I’m pretty sure I should be asking you that.”

 

When Lexa tucks her chin down and lets her face burn red, all Clarke wants to do is kiss her cheeks until they stop. She pulls Lexa impossibly closer, as if by instinct, and loves the way she instantly looks back up to let Clarke look at her.

 

Clarke gives their noses another nudge and can’t help herself when she pulls back to kiss the tip of Lexa’s. Lexa lets out a different kind of sigh and nuzzles their faces together. Their cheeks lay warm against each other and, for a moment, Clarke feels inexplicably scared.

 

“You’re okay, right?” she whispers timidly. She doesn’t know what she’d do if Lexa gave her a negative answer.

 

Instead, Lexa tangles her hand in the ends of her hair and gives a gentle squeeze to Clarke’s waist.

 

“I’m perfect, Clarke,” she breathes and Clarke’s never heard more said with so few words.

 

Her mouth drops open in surprise and she suddenly can’t handle the miniscule space between their bodies. Her eyes drop to Lexa’s lips and back to her eyes. Her hand slides all the way up to grip the back of Lexa’s neck and she wants to kiss her. She wants to kiss her more than she’d wanted anything that happened last night. She wants to kiss her because she’s sure it’s the only way she’ll be able to breathe properly again.

 

But Lexa can tell and her smile grows as she pulls back. Clarke gasps in disappointment and she shudders when Lexa presses a kiss to the bridge of her nose instead. It lingers and Lexa sighs as she shifts back.

 

“Raven and Octavia are still here,” she whispers and Clarke jerks to let her eyes find them still fast asleep in her bed. It makes her stomach sink and she unconsciously pulls the blankets more securely around them—not because she doesn’t want them to see, but because she needs to keep Lexa safe. Lexa’s propped herself up on an elbow when she turns back and Clarke knows what’s coming before Lexa tells her. Her hand sinks low on Clarke’s back and she scratches there softly. “I’m going to go to the library,” she explains. “So you can be with your friends when they wake up.”

 

Clarke tightens her grip around her. “You don’t have to.”

 

Lexa giggles like she disagrees and Clarke hums when Lexa presses a line of kisses over her forehead before tugging her hands away.

 

“I’m gonna shower first,” she says as she climbs over her body. Clarke shamelessly lets her eyes wander over Lexa’s bare legs and the cute little swell of her backside. She watches as Lexa gathers clothes from her dresser and grabs her wash bag. Her towel is on the back of Clarke’s desk chair and she takes it quietly before disappearing into the bathroom. The sound of her moving around is soothing and Clarke closes her eyes and listens until she reemerges a while later dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt. She wears the cute socks Clarke got her last week and Clarke sits up when Lexa settles on the edge of her bed.

 

She smells good and clean and Clarke can’t stop herself as she leans in to nuzzle the crook of her neck. Her hand pushes hair away and she presses brazen kisses there, opening her mouth to taste her.

 

“Stop it,” Lexa warns with a smirk and a shiver, pulling away to grab her books.

 

Her cheeks are pink and Clarke’s glad when she pulls on a sweater and then her coat. She pushes up onto her knees to help Lexa fix her scarf around her neck, tugs her hat over her ears before pulling Lexa’s hood up over her head.

 

“Stay warm,” Clarke whispers because she can’t think of anything else to say that won’t leave her in a puddle of feelings.

 

Lexa leans forward to kiss the hinge of her jaw and lingers there, squeezing Clarke’s hand that rests on her hip.

 

“You too,” she whispers.

 

Clarke doesn’t lie back down until their door clicks closed. She doesn’t think she’ll ever sleep again.

 

 

//

 

When Lexa stops in the kitchenette and starts making tea in her thermos, there are party-goers still lingering in the common area who look at her like they expected nothing less.

 

It’s barely past six in the morning and Lexa has to step over people who are sleeping on the floor. She’s pretty sure the few people who are awake haven’t even been to sleep yet and she can’t explain the way her stomach plummets when she sees that Finn is one of them.

 

He’s sitting on the floor with the rest of the “boys” as Clarke had called them and she gives him a tight polite smile when he recognizes her.

 

She goes about her business, awkwardly pushing her glasses up her nose as she waits for the water to boil. She mentally makes a list of all the things she needs to do, reminding herself of all the work she has to finish in order to catch up with what she missed while sick. She’s so swept up in her own thoughts that she jumps when Finn arrives at her side.

 

He stinks of alcohol and body odor and Lexa jolts back as he drunkenly oversteps all personal boundaries.

 

“You’re Clarke’s roommate,” he says with a dumb grin.

 

Lexa smiles tightly and nods. “Otherwise known as Lexa.”

 

“You came to the party last night,” he observes and Lexa turns to him and gives him another stiff, polite nod. He doesn’t move away, or pick up on her social cues, so she goes about her business and tries to ignore him. He shouldn’t even be here anyway. “You seemed very close,” he continues and there’s a tone to his voice that Lexa doesn’t like. It makes her movements slow and stutter. She gives him a sideways glance when he just keeps knowingly grinning at her. “She fucked you yet?”

 

Lexa drops the spoon in her hand and turns to him agape. “Excuse me?”

 

His expression doesn’t change. He folds his arms behind his back and just keeps smirking at her.

 

“I asked if she’d fucked you yet,” he repeats nonchalantly. “Because I saw you dancing last night and I saw the way you acted around each other when you were playing Kings.” He lets out a low whistle. “Plus, you left early together.”

 

He wags his eyebrows like an idiot and Lexa just keeps staring at him as something slips and unsettles uncomfortably deep inside of her.

 

“It’s okay if you have,” Finn continues. “Clarke fucks a lot of people. Probably more than you’d think. Pretty sure she’s slept with most of the guys here.” He gestures to his friends behind him. “She usually keeps the girls on the down low—” He gives an exaggerated wink. “—But your secret’s safe with me.”

 

Lexa shakes her head, swallows thickly and frowns. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

Finn just laughs. “Yes, you do. And I’d have to say I’m surprised that she slept with you of all people. What was it they used to call you?” he looks off to the side, remembering. “The Robot?”

 

Lexa tucks in her chin and clenches her hands around the thermos. She’s mere seconds away from smashing it around Finn’s head because she hates that nickname. She hates how it’s followed her around for the past year and a half. People she’s never even met before call her it.

 

Finn doesn’t seem to notice her anger and chuckles to himself.

 

“I’m surprised she slept with someone she used to think was such an insufferable bitch, but…” Finn eyes her up and down before reaching to grab an unopened beer from the counter beside her. “Maybe you don’t know everything like Clarke thought, because you didn’t figure out the little game she plays. Did you?”

 

Lexa swallows and grits her jaw. Finn won’t stop smirking and she wants to snarl at him but she also wants to listen to what he has to say.

 

“Sometimes I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even realize she does it.” He pauses and sadly shakes his head like Lexa’s an idiot, a fool. “Don’t you know that Clarke gets off on feeling needed?”

 

Lexa feels like she’s been kicked in the stomach. She lived in children’s homes with bullies and assholes for most of her life but none of the words they said hurt as much as these words suddenly seem to. Ridiculously, she thinks she’s going to cry and she can’t remember doing that in such a long time. Not properly anyway. Not the full body, broken sobs that she feels welling deeply inside of her.

 

Finn snorts on a mouthful of his beer.

 

“Oh,” he chuckles. “You thought you were different, didn’t you?”

 

Lexa lowers her head and furrows her brow. She swallows back the sobs and manages to pull herself together enough to fill her thermos with hot water. She ignores the way that Finn happily grins at her, and screws on the cap before slipping it into her bag. Finn watches her as she silently walks away, and she somehow manages to make it all the way to the darkened, unused archway between two buildings before the sobs itch up and out of her throat.

 

Because she didn’t think she was the one who was different.

 

She was sure that Clarke was.

 

//

 

She goes for breakfast with Octavia and Raven and doesn’t say much as they talk about the party the night before. It was late when they woke up and most of the people who had gone to the party had crawled their way back home by the time they rolled out of Clarke’s dorm.

 

She’d managed to fall back to sleep for a few more hours, nose buried in Lexa’s pillow with the scent enough to make Clarke believe that she was still there with her. Raven had woken her up with a pillow to the face, looking at her questioningly as if to ask why she was asleep in Lexa’s bed. She’d thoughtlessly reeled off an excuse about how she’d slept on the floor and got into Lexa’s bed once she’d gone to the library, but Octavia had looked at her dubiously while Raven had seemed relieved.

 

It’s stupid how preoccupied she is and she doesn’t remember ever feeling like this before. She knows why she feels this way and it’s scary. She’d barely experienced this when things first started happening with Finn. Her feelings for him built slowly and steadily, until they were ruined by the revelation that her new best friend had loved him and been led on by him her entire life. They’d burned out quickly and irreparably.

 

The things she’d felt aware of when she woke up this morning are something else entirely.

 

They don’t feel as new as they should. They feel fast and slow at the same time and she doesn’t know how she never noticed them before now. Except maybe she does. She doesn’t understand how she could get to this point without realizing that her heart won’t stop pounding every time she thinks about her.

 

She doesn’t know when Lexa Woods became the only thought rolling around in her mind.

 

It’s hit her all so suddenly that she feels like she can’t even catch her breath.

 

“Where the hell is your head at?” Octavia snaps and Clarke looks up to find that Raven’s gone and it’s just the two of them.

 

Clarke shakes her head to clear it. “Where’s Raven?”

 

“You know Rae,” Octavia says bitterly. “Gotta top off a night of drinking with a booty call from her long list of special friends. Now answer the question. You’ve been off all morning.”

 

Clarke feels the words bubble up her throat but she swallows them back and shakes her head. “It’s nothing.”

 

Octavia gives her a look. “It’s totally something.”

 

Clarke rubs at her forehead and toys with the handle of her coffee cup. “I’m just worried about Lexa,” she half-lies. “I don’t want her burning herself out and getting sick again. I should go check on her.”

 

She moves to get up but Octavia grabs her by the wrist and pulls her back down to her chair. She gives her a look that Clarke hates. It scares her and she worries her bottom lip between her teeth as Octavia refuses to let go.

 

“You like her,” she says and it’s not a question.

 

Clarke rubs her forehead and shakes her head. She hides her face because she’s sure she’s going to cry and she doesn’t understand why.

 

“Nope,” she says in an attempt to be firm. Instead, it just comes out limp and breathless. “No. Nope. Nothing like that.”

 

“Clarke,” Octavia says and she hates the concern in her friend’s voice.

 

She shakes her head and manages to free her wrist from Octavia’s grip. She mumbles an apology and grabs her coat before fleeing. She doesn’t know where she’s going at first and she wanders around aimlessly until she realizes she’s thinking of all the places Lexa could be. She paces up and down the aisles of the library and then walks around campus for hours. It’s practically dark by the time she decides to head back to their room and she doesn’t understand why she’s so surprised when she opens the door to find Lexa sitting at her desk.

 

Her shoulders drop and there’s that urge again—the one that makes her want to kiss Lexa so that she can breathe—but she bites it back because she doesn’t know what to do with it.

 

It feels ridiculously natural to step over to Lexa and bend down to bury her head in the soft crook of her neck. It feels perfect and she hates how Lexa’s body stiffens at her touch.

 

Clarke,” Lexa whispers and her voice doesn’t sound right. She sounds like the Old Lexa and not like the Lexa that Clarke feels like she knows down to her bones. “Please don’t touch me.”

 

Clarke pulls away and she hates how words fail her. She steps backwards to sit on the edge of Lexa’s bed and, when Lexa doesn’t turn around to tell her off for wearing a wet coat inside, she knows something’s wrong. She sits there for ages, watching as Lexa just keeps typing at her laptop and never looking at her. She wants Lexa to look at her. She wants Lexa to give her that secret smile she’s never seen her give anyone else. She wants Lexa to look at her in that way that makes Clarke feel like she’ll never have to explain or excuse herself again.

 

“What are we watching tonight?” she whispers.

 

Lexa doesn’t stop typing and it takes her a long time to speak. Clarke waits anyway.

 

“I have work to do, Clarke,” she whispers.

 

“But later on?”

 

When Lexa stops typing, she doesn’t know how but she knows what’s coming. She should have known—she should have seen—that something like this would happen. She knew that she was going too far. She knew that she should have stopped it. She buries her head in her hands and shakes her head because she’s done what she always does and ruined the relationships that mean most to her.

 

“Clarke, I can’t do this,” Lexa whispers and it still hurts. “I can’t—” A hand swipes over Lexa’s cheeks but she still doesn’t turn around. “Clarke, I can’t let you do this with me,” she whispers. “I’m not like everyone else. I won’t bounce back when it all inevitably goes wrong. I won’t find someone else to trust. You’ll take everything and it’ll ruin me and I don’t want to do this, okay? I can’t do it. I respect you enough to accept that this is what you do and what you like but I don’t want to be part of it. I just want to be on my own.”

 

Clarke breathes out unsteadily. “Lexa—” she tries but Lexa shakes her head and carries on.

 

“I’m not a toy, Clarke,” Lexa whispers and her hands swipe more furiously over her face. “I can’t do this thing you do. I don’t know how to be close to people without trusting them. I’m not going to sit around and wait for you to get bored of me and find something else to play with.”

 

Clarke shakes her head and she’s ready to argue until Lexa turns to her with red, puffy eyes and pale cheeks. She looks so much different to the girl Clarke woke up with this morning. That girl was the prettiest thing Clarke had ever seen. That girl was everything.

 

“I can’t be your—your whatever this is—in my bed and nothing to you everywhere else,” she shakes her head. “I don’t want that. I don’t want to be a secret. I don’t want to be a joke. I just want to be by myself like I always have been for as long as I can remember. I want everything to be how it was before.”

 

Clarke lets her expression fall and feels the fight drain out of her. She feels herself nodding and she doesn’t understand why. She feels herself standing up even though she doesn’t want to. All she knows is that she should have seen this coming. For a long time, she should have expected that something like this would happen to her after everything she’s done.

 

Lexa doesn’t say anything as Clarke leaves and she doesn’t stop moving until she’s pressing the buzzer on Octavia and Raven’s dorm building.

 

Octavia stands alone and confused at the door when she heads upstairs and doesn’t say anything when Clarke falls to lie on Raven’s bed. She doesn’t say anything when Clarke just keeps rubbing her face like she’s waiting for something to happen, she just watches her until Clarke glances at her like she doesn’t understand.

 

“I…” she says and she intends on telling Octavia everything. She wants to tell her everything that happened, everything she feels, but she can’t. She can’t because it’s hers but, most of all, it’s Lexa’s and somewhere along the line she made an unspoken promise to always make sure to protect her. That includes this.

 

When she bursts into tears instead, Octavia still doesn’t look surprised.

 

//

 

Clarke doesn’t come back that night.

 

Lexa expected that but it doesn’t mean that her cheeks don’t burn with the need to cry. She still cries herself to sleep, face buried in a pillow that smells so much more like Clarke than it does of her laundry detergent. She tries to sleep without it, rips the pillowcase off so it’s just the padding beneath but that lasts all of ten minutes before she’s scrambling to put the case back on, terrified that she’ll lose the smell if she doesn’t.

 

She spends the whole night telling herself she’s done the right thing. She tries to remember all the times in her life where people let her down. Her faceless father was probably the first person, leaving her mom a mess that found it impossible to take care of her. Her mom was the second, of course. She left Lexa on the doorstep of a kids’ home when she was seven. She promised to come back but she never did. From the many meetings they used to have about her future, she knows that her mother moved and married, found herself a happy life. Lexa knows that she has a little brother called Aden. She always thought that her mom would come back and get her. She thought that one of the many families who drifted in and out of her life would pick her and give her the life her mom never could. She tries to remember all the friends who got the ending she always wanted by finding families. She tries to remember the children’s home workers she got close and attached to before they left.

 

Clarke is just like them. Clarke will treat her just like they did. She is filling a void, satisfying a need and Clarke—Clarke who never really had any interest in her before—will almost definitely move on to find someone better to fulfill those things for her.

 

She wakes up the next morning and burns with longing before she can do anything else. She’s spent too many days being spoiled with arms wrapped around her. She’s too used to not waking up alone. After so many years of accepting loneliness, she doesn’t know how it all got ruined so quickly. She hates how quickly Clarke got under her skin and broke down the walls she spent so long building.

 

She misses her. She misses her and it seems so silly that the only thing she has the energy to do once she realizes is lay in bed and cry.

 

She’s still lying there later that morning when the door to her room finally opens and Clarke walks inside.

 

Something settles inside of Clarke at the sight of her and she hates it. She closes her eyes and hopes the feeling will go away. Clarke doesn’t say anything and Lexa doesn’t look at her as she moves around the room, gathering clothes and heading to the bathroom. She reemerges a while later and leaves soon after without a word.

 

Lexa sucks back the tears that threaten to flood from her and reminds herself that this was her choice. This is for her safety. It’s not her job to apologize to Clarke for needing to take care of herself.

 

Clarke comes back in the early hours of the morning, smelling of smoke and alcohol. She isn’t noisy. Lexa’s pretty sure that she’d never have heard her come in if she was able to sleep. Clarke falls into her own bed and it feels so strange. The space beside Lexa feels so big and she sucks back the tears that well in her eyes. She buries her face into the pillows and tries not to remember how right it felt to have Clarke sleeping beside her.

 

Her face is sore when she wakes up and Clarke’s already left.

 

Lexa can’t remember falling asleep but the blanket that had been balled up at the foot of her bed is now folded atop Clarke’s pillow.

 

Lexa tries to remind herself that she’s doing the right thing.

 

It doesn’t make her feel any better.

 

//

 

It’s been three days of awkwardly sharing a space that had once seemed to have more than enough room when Clarke’s mom appears outside one day.

 

It’s the kind of intuitive thing the old version of her mom would have done and Clarke clings to her, hoping she’ll guess the rest. She does and sure hands find her shoulders, holding tight as her mother starts instinctively making soothing noises against Clarke’s hair. Clarke clutches at her desperately and Abby hums with affection as Clarke fills with relief.

 

It takes her too long to remember that Lexa’s in the room and by the time she remembers, Lexa already has her coat and boots on and is fixing the strap of her bag beneath her collar.

 

“You must be Lexa,” her mom says before Lexa can leave and Clarke can say anything. Lexa looks up with wide, bright eyes and then nods politely. “I’m Abby Griffin. Clarke’s mom.”

 

Lexa smiles and takes the hand her mom offers. “It’s lovely to meet you, Mrs. Griffin,” she says softly. It’s the first time Clarke’s heard her voice in days and it catches her completely off guard. It unravels everything. “I’m going to head to the library to give you guys some space. I hope you have a good evening together. Bye, Clarke.”

 

She leaves without another word and Clarke hates how her mom curiously watches after Lexa’s retreating form. She turns back to Clarke with her hands on her hips and smiles.

 

Clarke feels paper-thin.

 

“Well, isn’t she just the sweetest thing,” she comments and Clarke doesn’t know what happens when the sobs erupt up her throat. She grabs at her chest as she gasps for breath and her mom jolts in shock at the sight of her. She kicks the door closed and then reaches for Clarke, taking her by the shoulders and sitting her down on her bed. Her thumb makes soothing patterns into Clarke’s shoulders and Clarke silently begs her mother to understand.

 

She guesses she does when Clarke keeps glancing over to Lexa’s side of the room.

 

“Ah,” she sighs as Clarke continues to crumble. “I see. That explains it.”

 

She doesn’t say anything else after that and just keeps making soft soothing noises until Clarke’s pitched, childlike sobs turn into whimpers. Her hands sweep Clarke’s hair from her face like they used to when Clarke would hurt herself playing as a kid. She kisses her forehead like it’s the only thing she knows how to do to make it better. She hushes her until Clarke’s weight is too much for her and then pulls her back onto the bed. Clarke buries her head in her mom’s chest and lets the gentle rock of her mother’s body soothe her for the first time in days.

 

It’s a long time before one of them speaks. Her mother breaks the silence.

 

“Do you want to talk about it?” she mumbles into the top of Clarke’s head.

 

Clarke shakes her head but then feels the words bubble up like bile anyway. “I ruined it,” she whispers. “I ruined it before I even knew I’d ruined it.”

 

Her mom listens and Clarke likes the way her mom touches her in the way that only a mom could. It’s bold and familiar. There’s an awareness to it that leaves Clarke breathless with relief. She holds Clarke and they both know that, as much as Clarke could protest she’s her own person, she’ll always really belong to her mother first. She’s the person who made her.

 

It feels like the most right thing in the world to admit her next words to her.

 

“She didn’t want me,” she whispers brokenly and she’s surprised she doesn’t start sobbing, even as her tears already soak her mother’s t-shirt. Her mother makes a sound of annoyance on her behalf but Clarke shakes her head and clutches at her mother’s body. “She thinks I’m going to hurt her, that I’ll use her. She thinks I’m going to get bored and that I’m going to be like everyone else and leave.” Clarke reaches up to wipe the tears from her own cheeks and shudders. “I don’t blame her. That’s pretty much what I do.”

 

“Clarke,” her mother sighs. Clarke feels her hold and she feels safe, so safe that she lets go completely.

 

“I don’t know how to tell her…” she starts and trails off when she thinks she’s going to start sobbing again. “I don’t know the words. I don’t understand. I—I feel all these things and they’re so big and intense and scary. I don’t want to scare her. I don’t want to scare her away but I already did. I scared her before I even got a chance to prove to her that I just—I just want to take care of her, Mom.”

 

Abby hums knowingly. “You always want to take care of everyone but yourself.”

 

“Yeah, but not like this,” Clarke breathes and she sits up to look at her. Her mother brushes her hair from her face and watches her rapt with attention. “Not this—this fiercely. Not this badly. She has no one, Mom and it makes me hurt to think of her being all alone in the world. It scares me more than being alone myself and I don’t know how to—how to—”

 

She trails off into hitched sobs again.

 

“Clarke…” her mom sighs and there’s a hopeless understanding that Clarke hears in her voice. Clarke gasps and her mom cups her face and leans in quickly to softly, gratefully, press a kiss to her forehead.

 

“I—I—” Clarke jumbles as she suddenly realizes what this feeling really is. Her wide eyes find her mother’s but Abby just smiles at her reassuringly. It does little to prevent the sudden panic and regret that overwhelms her. “Mom, I think I—”

 

Her mother shakes her head and when Clarke looks in her eyes she sees her mom, the real version of her mom, the one that never really went far away at all. She’s still there, hiding behind the perpetually sad and struggling eyes of the woman in front of her. She’s still there, and Clarke can see her fighting. She looks so happy and proud and Clarke can’t handle the calm in her expression. She can’t handle how okay her mother looks about this when she feels so terrified.

 

“Mom, I—”

 

When her mother shakes her head, it’s definitive. It’s sure. It’s a warning. It makes Clarke choke back everything she feels and watch her silently.

 

“You can’t tell me,” she instructs firmly. “You need to tell her.”

 

//

 

Clarke’s sitting on her bed when she gets back from the library. She looks heavy and dazed and she jumps up when Lexa steps closer to her. Her hands release the pillow in one hand and the blanket in the other. She’s completely expressionless as she crosses the room to pick up her coat and keys and wordlessly leave the room.

 

It doesn’t surprise Lexa anymore. Clarke leaves the room as much as she can when Lexa’s around.

 

It’s easier for the both of them.

 

Clarke doesn’t come back until the early hours of the morning most nights and Lexa can’t tell if she’s going to parties or just avoiding having to be around her. Sometimes she comes back smelling of alcohol and sometimes she just comes back and silently falls into her bed, bringing the smell of the cold outdoors with her.

 

Lexa can’t fall asleep until she knows that Clarke’s safely in her bed and then sometimes she still can’t sleep after.

 

The silence lasts for days—weeks—and Lexa honestly has no idea how long it’s been since they spoke to each other when she wakes up one morning to Clarke asleep beside her. She stinks of rum and something else and when Lexa stirs her awake she jolts and winces when she realizes where she is. It takes her a long time to climb into her own bed but it’s too early for Lexa to escape to the library. Her cheeks burn awkwardly at the situation and she curls back into her pillows as Clarke settles into her own bed.

 

“Sorry,” she hears whispered across the room to her a little while later. Lexa’s still awake and she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to sleep in this room with her here again. There’s a soft hitch of breath across the room and Clarke swallows audibly to clear her throat before speaking again. “I just miss you, is all,” she breathes and her exhale is nothing but a shudder. Lexa holds her breath and shakes her head against her pillow. “I just miss you.”

 

Lexa stays quiet and lets her wet cheeks soak into her pillow. She bites her bottom lip so hard that she’s sure she draws blood and something inside of her shouts for her to just go to Clarke. Something inside of her shouts that she should just let Clarke ruin her and break her and leave her like everyone else because it would probably hurt a lot less than this.

 

“Lexa?” Clarke whispers to break the silence but Lexa buries her head further into the pillow and hides her face. She pretends she’s asleep and tries to wipe the sound of Clarke whispering through the dark from her memory.

 

Clarke sighs and Lexa feels her entire body shudder with the need for her.

 

//

 

Octavia invites her to a party at the boys’ frat house and, after almost three weeks of getting drunk on the beanbag in the corner of her and Raven’s room, they pretty much drag her there.

 

She still hasn’t told them what’s wrong with her but she’s pretty sure that Octavia knows more than Clarke would ever be able to explain anyway. Raven just thinks she’s having one of her “moments” and Clarke doesn’t have the energy to tell her she’s wrong.

 

The house is thrumming when she gets there and she ignores the usual shouts of “Party Girl!” as she makes her way to the alcohol.

 

She makes herself the weakest ass drink to pace herself and nurses it slowly from her place on the top step of the large wooden grand staircase. People run up and down it beside her and she watches over everyone from above. It takes her minutes to get bored. She hates all of it. For about the ten millionth time in so many days, she wishes she could go back to her room and curl into Lexa.

 

She takes a sip of her drink to stave off the tears and remind herself that she can’t. She’s still sipping it ten minutes later when someone sits down beside her.

 

“Party Girl,” Finn says as he practically sits in her lap. “It’s been a while.”

 

Clarke shakes her head and doesn’t even glance at him.

 

“Fuck off, Finn,” she says, even as she accepts the drink he offers her. She takes a test sip of it. It’s strong—too strong—and she winces before abandoning it on the step beside her. Finn chuckles like she’s a goddamn clown and Clarke rolls her eyes because it’s always the same.

 

How did she even let it get this way? When the fuck did all this become her life?

 

“So, how ‘bout it?” Finn says lewdly and Clarke gapes at him.

 

She looks at him incredulously and scoffs in disgust. “‘How ‘bout it?’” she repeats. “Go away, Finn.”

 

Finn laughs harder and rescues the drink from beside her before taking a long sip from it. It’s almost like he’s trying to make a point that Clarke will never understand.

 

“You’ve fucked me for worse,” he reminds her with a wink and Clarke feels sick at the reminder. She bites down on her bottom lip and shoves her red cup aside to hold her hands in her lap. She doesn’t understand how she used to like coming to these things. She doesn’t know why she still does. Finn chuckles. “You’ve fucked me for less, too.”

 

She hums mirthlessly. “Well, I’m not fucking you again.”

 

Finn moves closer and Clarke glares into the distance because, short of punching him square in the face, she can’t think of anything else to do.

 

“Do we really have to go through this?” he mumbles and her skin crawls when she feels him brush the hair away from the side of her neck. “The you telling me no, playing hard to get, and me barely even having to convince you before you’re riding my dick and coming harder than anyone else can make you? Because it’s getting boring.”

 

She turns to him with unbridled disgust, her nose upturned, lips pursed and her eyes burning with anger and shame. Finn eyes her expression and unabashedly glances down into her cleavage. It fills her with rage she never knew she could contain in the small space of her body.

 

“I will never fuck you again,” she whispers warningly as she shoves his hand off her waist. “You will never touch me again.”

 

Finn still has the audacity to laugh. “Is this about your little girlfriend?” he says and the words catch her off guard. Her face drops and she narrows her eyes. “Because I thought I’d dealt with that one.”

 

He takes a lazy sip of his drink and Clarke glares at him as something starts to click and everything starts to make sense. She can’t hold back the fear that suddenly rushes through her body.

 

“What the fuck do you mean?” she demands in her lowest, scariest voice.

 

Finn rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “What the fuck do you think?” he mimics. “I gave her fair warning. I told her not to get too comfortable because you… well. Let’s say I reminded her that you like to keep your options open.”

 

“Who?!” Clarke shouts and she’s sure that people are looking at her but she doesn’t care. “Who, Finn?”

 

He laughs and then stands up and starts moving his arms in an attempt at some sort of dance. “The Robot, of course,” he laughs and then tries to pull her up with him once he’s realized she’s not laughing. “C’mon, you don’t need her. We both know you’re gonna end up with me.”

 

Clarke grits her jaw as she looks at him and honestly doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Her eyes water either way and she hates how everything makes sense. She hates how he doesn’t have to tell her what he did for her to know what he’s done. She hates how she knows Lexa believed whatever it was that Finn told her. She hates that he called her The Robot because Lexa’s not. She’s not a robot. She nothing like Clarke ever anticipated and it makes her feel sick just thinking about all the things she once said and thought about her.

 

Instead of saying anything, Clarke decides it’s time to leave. It’s time to go and fix something she should have fixed a really long time ago. She clambers down the stairs and through the crowd of people looking at her. She’s already halfway to the sidewalk when someone pulls on her arm. She shoves Finn away and, when she turns to find him standing behind her, he’s flanked by Octavia and Raven.

 

“No,” Clarke says when Finn reaches for her. “No. Don’t fucking touch me. Do not fucking touch me because you’ve got no idea what you’ve done. You’ve got no idea.”

 

“Clarke,” Raven says in confusion and Clarke thinks back to a year ago when Raven was looking at her desperately. She was begging Clarke to say that she wasn’t sleeping with the boy she loved and she looks at Clarke exactly the same now.

 

Clarke shakes her head now but she’s pretty sure Raven doesn’t get it. She looks betrayed and Clarke honestly doesn’t care. There was a time when she would have done anything to make sure that Raven wasn’t hurt but she’s just so sick of hiding everything she feels all the time.

 

“Listen,” Finn says, stumbling forward until Raven pulls him back. He shrugs her off and her face falls. “Whatever it is, I’m sorry. Just come back inside and I’ll fix it. I’ll fix it.”

 

He tries to grab her backside and Clarke shoves his hand away as Raven looks on in disgust. Octavia looks at all of them like she’s known everything all along.

 

“Clarke, what the fuck is going on?” Raven demands because—of course—it would be Clarke’s fault.

 

Clarke shakes her head and scoffs. She doesn’t care anymore. She’s so fucking sick of all of them.

 

“Well, Finn and I have been sleeping together for like… most of the last year,” she explains petulantly and ignores the way that Raven’s face burns with betrayal and rage. Clarke shakes her head in disappointment for this girl who has so much fucking potential that she’s wasting on a guy who literally doesn’t give a shit. “Because he’s a manipulative asshole. And also a lying—” She lunges forward to push shove him and keeps shoving him as she speaks. “Cruel, disgusting, arrogant piece of shit who ruined the only thing that—the only good thing—”

 

She pulls away when Octavia grips her shoulder.

 

“You ruined it!” She shouts and this is when the tears come, when her supposed best friend looks at her like she just slapped her in the face. “You fucking ruined it!” she shouts at Finn. “You hurt her.”

 

“You’ve both hurt me!” Raven spits and Clarke looks at her in confusion.

 

“Not you,” she shouts brokenly. “Goddammit, Raven. Get the fuck over it. Get the fuck over him. You could do so much fucking better than this idiot. The boy has played you all along, has never wanted you, and you still choose him over everyone else. I won’t apologize for sleeping with a boy that I had no idea you wanted. I won’t apologize for the fact that he manipulated both of us. He wasn’t yours, Raven, so stop treating me like I did something wrong!”

 

Raven looks down at the ground and so does Finn. The only person looking up at her is Octavia who watches her carefully and knowingly.

 

Clarke chokes back a sob. “But he hurt Lexa. He told her things—said things that—”

 

Raven looks up and scoffs at Clarke in disbelief. “Who gives a fuck about that tight ass uppity robot who thinks she’s better than everyone else?”

 

“I DO!” Clarke shouts and she rounds on her and Finn with her fists at her side. “I do. I give a fuck. I fucking care. I always fucking cared. Because she is the kindest, sweetest, most caring and deserving person I have ever met. She’s smart and beautiful and she’s like—she’s like—”

 

She’s glad for Octavia, holding onto her shoulders because she has no idea what she’d do otherwise. Finn and Raven both look at her like she’s a completely different person and she feels like that. They look confused and wary. They look at her like they don’t recognize the person standing in front of them. Clarke doesn’t think she would either. She doesn’t see the same person staring back in her in the mirror that she did a year ago.

 

“What?” Finn mumbles, slipping his hands into his pockets and shrugging. “Do you like, love her or something?”

 

The question forces a deep, desperate breath into Clarke’s lungs and she shakes her head in refusal. She purses her lips against the words and reminds herself of what her mother said. There’s only one person she can tell first.

 

“I have to go,” she whispers.

 

Octavia rubs her back. “I’ll come with you.”

 

Clarke shakes her head adamantly. “I’ll be okay.”

 

There’s only one person she needs.

 

 

Chapter Text

Part Six

 

When the door opens, the last person she expects to walk in is Clarke.

 

It’s too early. Way too early. Especially for a Friday night.

 

Lexa’s folding laundry by her dresser when Clarke opens the door right beside her. Her eyes are wild and scared and they light up when they see Lexa awkwardly standing there. She looks relieved and terrified and Lexa narrows her eyes when she closes the door and turns to her. She steps close and stops, studies Lexa’s face for a long, slow moment before her breath hitches and she empties the space between them.

 

Her hand cups the back of Lexa’s neck and Lexa hesitates as everything seems to slow to a stop. She sees Clarke’s blue eyes flutter closed before her own do and when a soft, gentle mouth presses against hers, she doesn’t know what to do. Her hands fumble at her sides in shock and she whimpers helplessly against Clarke as Clarke wraps an arm around her waist. She kisses her for a long, slow moment that Lexa wants to last for much longer than it does. She feels like she’s been waiting for it forever and her body trembles as Clarke pulls back to look at her. She looks relieved and peaceful and Lexa hates the power she has over her.

 

Her mouth opens, ready to argue, but Clarke shakes her head. “No, shut up,” she breathes unevenly. “You need to listen.”

 

“Clarke,” Lexa warns.

 

She stops because the expression on Clarke’s face when she opens her eyes terrifies her. Clarke looks like she doesn’t know what thing she wants to say first and she holds steadfast at the back of Lexa’s neck as her other hand comes up to reverently stroke her cheek.

 

“You were right,” she says brokenly, her eyes never looking away from Lexa’s. “You were right about one thing. Just one… because I do want to take everything from you. I want all of it. I want everything and I especially want you. I want all of you.”

 

She swallows and Lexa frowns as she speaks.

 

“I don’t know what Finn said to you,” she continues on despite the strain in her voice. “I’m sure that a lot of what he said about me was true but not what he said about you. Whatever he said about you was bullshit. You’re beautiful. You’re amazing. You’re really fucking funny sometimes in a way that I don’t think you mean to be. You listen and you understand. You care so fucking much about everything. And I think—I think I’ve wanted to know you since you told me that Biology majors should be ashamed of themselves for taking up spaces in classes for students who could actually use the credits. I’ve wanted to know you since I accidentally bumped into you in the dining hall before that and you didn’t even look at me. I feel like I’ve always wanted you for the entire existence of time itself and it’s taken me this long to notice.”

 

Lexa takes a deep, unsteady breath in and shudders when Clarke swipes a thumb over the swell of her bottom lip.

 

“And I may have gotten swept up in the tirade of people who teased you and were cruel about you and didn’t want to understand you,” she whispers carefully. “But, you should know, that they’ve got nothing on you. I’ve got nothing on you, and I will happily spend the rest of my days on this earth proving to you that you could take over the world by yourself before breakfast if you tried. But you don’t have to do it by yourself if you don’t want to. I will happily follow you to the farthest star in the universe only to watch it collapse in on us, Lexa.”

 

Her breath catches and Clarke shakes her head against whatever it is she sees in Lexa’s expression. Her thumb swipes across her cheeks and Lexa notices that it spreads dampness across her skin. She must be crying.

 

“You’re my best friend,” Clarke sighs and shrugs. “No one has ever understood me and accepted me like you have. No one has ever taken care of me like you do. I trust you more than anyone.”

 

When Lexa doesn’t say anything, Clarke’s grip loosens on her face but she doesn’t move away. She watches Lexa carefully and Lexa doesn’t know what to do because her wildest dreams situation is happening right now. She’d hoped, dreamed, and silently prayed but never thought that it would happen. Clarke’s cheeks quiver with the threat of tears and Lexa gasps when she pulls them until their foreheads touch. She nuzzles their noses together and Lexa takes hold of Clarke’s shoulders to steady herself.

 

“I love you,” Clarke whimpers and Lexa doesn’t know what to do other than pinch herself to make sure she’s not dreaming. Clarke lets out a sob and Lexa loses the ability to breathe, to speak, to function. “I love you and I won’t let anyone hurt you. I’ll never leave you… not even if you begged me to but you can’t leave me either, okay? You can’t.”

 

It’s such a strange request and Lexa finds herself desperately taking Clarke’s face into her hands at the words. She’d always assumed that it would mean the most for someone to promise they’d stay. She never knew that it would mean a million times more for someone to ask her not to go. Clarke sways with hopelessness and Lexa doesn’t know what to do with this fullness in her chest.

 

Clarke’s bottom lip trembles and she looks so scared.

 

Trust me,” she begs. “You can trust me, Lexa.”

 

Lexa swallows and nudges her nose against Clarke’s in an attempt to calm her down. Her hands reach for the blonde tangle of Clarke’s hair and she curls it around her fingers to remind herself how it feels. It’s ridiculous how much she’s missed her.

 

It’s heartbreaking, that she’s never truly missed or understood missing someone until right this very second.

 

“I already do,” she whispers. “I do trust you, Clarke.”

 

Clarke swallows and then her smile is brighter than the sun, her eyes a million stars. Awe coats her features and leaning in to kiss her is like coming up for air. It’s like coming up for air and Lexa gasps her in, fills her lungs with her, and loves the way that the warmth of her rushes through her blood.

 

Kissing her feels like the only way to keep breathing properly.

 

//

 

She never wants to kiss anyone else.

 

Lexa’s kisses her slowly and softly, her hands cold and sure at her face, and that’s the only thing that Clarke can manage to think. She never wants to kiss anyone else because she doesn’t think anyone could ever make her feel as at peace as she does in this moment. Lexa kisses her and there are no nerves, no fear, no anger. All she has is quiet relief.

 

She feels like she’s spent the last three weeks gasping for air and now she’s finally breathing again. Lexa shudders and shakes beneath her palms but Clarke feels strong. One hand tangles in the hair at the back of Lexa’s neck and the other presses soothingly to the base of her back and Clarke feels like she’s holding the entire fabric of the universe together.

 

She doesn’t think she’s ever felt happier than when Lexa pulls back and giggles against her lips.

 

“What?” she whispers, letting her mouth drift over warm cheeks and sharp cheekbones.

 

Lexa bites her bottom lip and it’s sexy. Clarke feels a hum leave her at the sight and she can’t control herself when she uses a thumb to free it. She strokes over it and becomes momentarily fixated by Lexa’s mouth and her perfectly pink lips. They’re a craving she didn’t even know she had.

 

“I don’t know,” Lexa whispers and Clarke pulls her bottom lip away when she tries to bite it again. “I’m just… I’m happy.”

 

Clarke kisses her because she thinks she might lapse into relieved tears if she doesn’t. Lexa softens and relaxes completely against her and lets Clarke carefully guide her the few feet back towards her bed. Lexa sits on the edge and stares up at her before scooting back and pulling Clarke towards her. Clarke thinks that it would be so easy, to just fall atop her and kiss her until she forgot how to stop. It would be so easy but it’s not as easy as lying down beside her and pulling her until their noses bump and their bellies and hips press together.

 

Lexa kisses her nose as they fit themselves together and Clarke can’t stop the sudden feeling of exhaustion that overwhelms her. Her eyes begin to flutter closed and it’s purely from the feeling of finally laying beside her again. She feels like she hasn’t slept right in weeks, like her body hasn’t rested in forever. The arm that quietly and reassuringly wraps around her waist makes her feel safe. It holds her close and Clarke enjoys the sound of Lexa’s chuckle as she leans in to press her smile against the bridge of Clarke’s nose.

 

Clarke sighs and words mumble from within her as she settles into Lexa’s body. She feels like she needs to explain.

 

“I—I couldn’t sleep without you,” she admits sleepily as Lexa’s arm curls up around the pillow and starts playing with her hair. It feels so much like that morning that relief hits Clarke square in the chest and she has to swallow thickly. It’s overwhelming. “I—I couldn’t…” Clarke tries and she lets her bottom lip wobble as Lexa hushes her. Her next words come out as a shy, breathless whisper. “I—I had to steal your blanket so I could go to sleep.”

 

Lexa draws back and Clarke sighs when she starts pressing kisses all over her face to soothe her. She wishes she could kiss Lexa until their bodies ache with pleasure. She wishes she could make Lexa feel things that she deserves to feel more than anyone else. She doesn’t want to push her, though. She wants Lexa to be able to set the pace to something she’s comfortable with. She’s sure that she’s probably nervous and will need time. As much as she wants to kiss Lexa until there’s no oxygen left in her lungs, she wants her to be ready. She wants her to feel safe.

 

But falling quietly asleep in Lexa Woods’ arms is not a bad alternative. She is careful and thoughtful. Warm lips press delicate, reverent kisses to Clarke’s skin. There’s a stuttered restraint to her movements that reveal her insecurities. It probably settles Clarke more than anything else and she’s almost completely asleep when Lexa sighs hopelessly. Her nose presses against Clarke’s cheek and she pulls her imperceptibly closer. Kisses linger against her cheeks and Clarke fights off sleep, just to feel her a while longer.

 

“My pillow smells like you,” Lexa admits in a whisper.

 

It’s a simple statement but somehow, in those few, telling words, Lexa manages to take away all her loneliness.

 

//

 

It takes her way too long to realize that Clarke’s fallen asleep fully dressed.

 

Her thin, useless jacket is still wrapped around her and her boots hang dutifully off the edge of the bed to prevent dirty marks. Lexa bites her bottom lip and can’t stop looking at her. It doesn’t feel nearly as creepy as she thinks it should. She doesn’t think she’d be able to stop if it did.

 

She’s missed Clarke’s sleeping face and she’d look at it forever if she was allowed. She thinks, from remembering the words that still replay over and over in her head, that Clarke would let her if she asked.

 

Clarke loves her.

 

This sleeping face is hers if she wants it and, God, does Lexa want it. She wants all of Clarke and she doesn’t understand how Clarke managed to bury her way into the very core of her without Lexa even noticing. Clarke has changed her mind and revived her heart. Clarke has stolen her soul and swapped it with her own.

 

Lexa has never felt so much unexplainable happiness.

 

She never knew that another person could make her this happy.

 

It scares and excites her and she can’t stop the firm press of her lips to Clarke’s forehead in gratitude.

 

She feels a little bad for letting Clarke fall asleep like this and it’s with great pains that she manages to pull herself away from her. Clarke makes a noise of protest as she sits up and rolls into the space Lexa vacated. Her body curls forward and finds Lexa’s pillow, humming when it finds the comfort it needs. Lexa smiles again and reaches down to untie Clarke’s boots, tugging them from her feet before dropping them next to her own. She doesn’t know how she manages to get Clarke’s jacket from her body but the jeans are more problematic.

 

“Clarke, I’m gonna take your jeans off,” she whispers because it feels rude not to. She stops when something occurs to her. “You better be wearing underwear.”

 

Clarke is and Lexa’s glad for her sleepy cooperation when she lifts her hips and helps to push them down her thighs. They get tangled around her socks and Clarke pulls them off, too. She tosses everything onto the floor and it doesn’t feel weird to push her own pajama pants down her legs. That’s just how they fall asleep.

 

She squeezes her body back between Clarke’s and the wall, pulling the covers up around them before she wraps her arm around Clarke’s waist. Clarke hums in her sleep and Lexa smiles, kisses her nose and then her forehead before pressing their lips together. It causes Clarke to stir and if Lexa had known that was all she needed to do to get the attention of a drunk, unruly Griffin, she would have done it months ago. Clarke’s blue eyes flutter open and she looks surprised and guilty.

 

“Sorry,” she groans. “Sorry. I’m—I’m awake.”

 

Lexa strokes her hair away from her face and kisses her cheek. “Go back to sleep.”

 

Clarke stretches out before rolling back into her. Her eyes widen when Lexa boldly throws a leg over hers. They narrow and Lexa smirks happily when she feels soft fingers drifting up her back.

 

Clarke blinks at her, slow and confused. “Did you take my clothes off?”

 

Lexa nods. “Like five minutes ago.”

 

Clarke shifts and Lexa can feel her, not so innocently trying to figure out what she’s wearing under the covers. She bites her lip, a habit she seems to have picked up in the last few hours, and enjoys Clarke’s low appreciative growl at the back of her throat. Her jaw tightens and her hand slips down Lexa’s back to rest at her hip before slipping down to rest on Lexa’s thigh. She squeezes Lexa’s skin and Lexa gasps in a mix of shock and nerves. Her stomach swirls and Clarke pecks her lips reassuringly.

 

“I’m not going to do anything else,” she whispers. Her fingertips drag over the skin of Lexa’s thigh before Clarke finally wraps the arm back around her waist to settle against her. “I’m so tired.”

 

Lexa tangles her fingers in Clarke’s hair and snuggles back down into the pillows, warm and comfortable enough to feel at ease.

 

“I told you to go back to sleep,” she murmurs but Clarke’s breathing has already evened out again.

 

It doesn’t take her long to follow.

 

//

 

Before her eyes have even opened, she’s relieved to remember it’s Saturday morning.

 

It’s not like she would have moved anyway. She would have happily skipped class and forced Lexa to skip along with her just to stay this way for a little longer. Lexa’s head rests right in the middle of her chest, leaving sleep-mussed curls to litter Clarke’s neck and shoulders. There’s a leg thrown over her hips and she doesn’t think she’d be able to get out of bed anyway because the grip Lexa has around her bicep keeps her firmly against the mattress. Clarke lifts her head to look down at their bodies and smirks when she sees the blankets have gotten caught up behind Lexa’s back again. Her long, smooth legs are on display and her warm, heavy body is the only thing keeping Clarke warm. Lexa’s t-shirt bunches under her boobs and Clarke swallows thickly at all the soft, pale skin Lexa has on show. She’s such a messy sleeper.

 

“Behave yourself,” someone says and Clarke jolts when she realizes it’s Lexa. Her voice is thick with sleep and incredibly attractive. “I can hear your dirty thoughts from here, Griffin.”

 

Clarke giggles and lets her tongue catch between her teeth. “I won’t be held accountable for the things I do when I’m half asleep.”

 

Lexa looks up at her quickly and smirks. “Oh, really?”

 

Clarke should probably look guilty or something but it’s really hard to when she’s had a good night’s sleep and has an underdressed girl sprawled over her. She arches upward to kiss Lexa instead and giggles against her.

 

“You’ve seen you, right?” she whispers and loves the way that Lexa goes soft and lets her urge her over onto her side. Her hands find Clarke’s face and Clarke likes the way that their bare bellies press against each other as she continues pushing Lexa onto her back. She sucks kisses into Lexa’s jaw and gets way too much enjoyment from the way that Lexa’s breath catches when they drift down her neck. “I can’t wait to do ridiculously bad things to you.”

 

Lexa grasps for her and brings her back up so that she can kiss Clarke’s mouth. Clarke doesn’t think before she slips her thigh between Lexa’s and she knows it was the right thing to do when Lexa’s mouth falls open in a gasp. Clarke slips her tongue between her lips and Lexa groans when she presses down against her. Clarke kisses her, tongue exploring every inch of her mouth, until Lexa pulls back breathlessly.

 

“You’ve already done ridiculous bad things to me,” she whispers and Clarke likes the way that her ankle wraps around Clarke’s calf to keep her close. She wriggles to get more contact like she did the night of the party, and Clarke obliges happily, rocking her body lazily and thoughtlessly against her. She groans when she discovers that Lexa’s already wet against her thigh, her body already arching upward with the need for more.

 

Clarke glances between them and falters at what she sees. Lexa’s light blue t-shirt looks so good against her pale skin but it hides too much. Lexa’s stomach pulls and clenches with each press between her legs, and Clarke kisses her madly for a few moments as they rock desperately together.

 

“I want to see you,” she whispers into Lexa’s open mouth. Her hands are already gripping at Lexa’s t-shirt and Lexa moans before nodding in consent. Clarke barely manages to get it over her breasts and tucked under her arms before she’s pulling back and moving to kiss her skin. Lexa pants, one hand in Clarke’s hair as the other reaches up to grip the headboard. Her chest arches into the wet kisses Clarke presses down her chest and her body shivers at the sensation. Her nipples are as pretty and pink as her lips and Clarke doesn’t ask before she wraps her mouth around one and laps it with her tongue. Lexa’s gasp tells her she did the right thing. Her hips falter against Clarke’s movements and Clarke knows that she’s close already.  

 

She redoubles her efforts and moves back up to find Lexa’s desperate, shocked face. She’s determined to see her expression as she falls apart this time and she tangles one hand in Lexa’s hair as the other cups her cheek. Lexa barely notices, too busy searching for her release against Clarke’s thigh. Her expression is already too much, her brow taut and her mouth parted in shock. A blush covers from her cheeks all the way down to her chest and Clarke licks up Lexa’s neck, wanting to taste it.

 

“I’m gonna—” Lexa whimpers and Clarke presses her nose against Lexa’s as the most ridiculously gorgeous breathy sounds leave her mouth. Lexa’s hands grip her bare hips and Clarke watches, able to see as the orgasm washes through her. Her hips stop and her back arches. Her expression softens completely and she lets out the tiniest little “oh” before her breath catches. She stops moving for long, lovely moments before her hips jerk languidly against her. Clarke doesn’t stop moving against her until a firm hand squeezes warningly at her backside to make her stop.

 

“Fuck,” she whispers when Lexa’s body slumps against the mattress. She lazily kisses back when Clarke kisses her and hums happily when hands wander her torso to touch her.

 

Lexa’s chest pants heavily against hers and Clarke snuggles into her neck as she gets her breath back.

 

“Where the fuck did that come from?” she murmurs and, for a moment, Clarke worries she’s gone too far until Lexa giggles and starts stroking her back. “A little warning next time.”

 

It feels silly, but Clarke reaches up to pull Lexa’s t-shirt back over her boobs. “Sorry.”

 

Lexa shakes her head and sighs. Clarke’s pretty sure she’s falling back to sleep.

 

“Don’t be.”

 

//

 

When Lexa wakes up, she doesn’t actually remember falling asleep.

 

It confuses her for a moment until she feels Clarke snuggled into her neck and instantly remembers everything. It explains the comfortable, heavy feeling in her hips and she smirks into Clarke’s hair at the memory.

 

She likes this. She likes having a soft, affectionate Clarke in her arms. Clarke’s face is buried perfectly into her neck and her gentle fingers are tracing the pattern of Lexa’s tattoo. Lexa doesn’t feel awkward that her hand is on Clarke’s backside, or that her fingertips have somehow managed to dip beneath the fabric of her underwear. Clarke is heavy and warm against her and doesn’t seem to mind. She is completely at ease and Lexa likes this private side to her.

 

“You okay?” Clarke whispers against her neck and Lexa doesn’t understand how Clarke knew she was awake until careful fingers stroke up the column of her neck and press against her insistent whirr of her pulse.

 

“Yeah,” Lexa hums but Clarke still leans up on her elbow to check over her anyway.

 

Her fingers trace the line of Lexa’s jaw and cup her cheek. Her thumb sweeps over Lexa’s skin and a small smile quirks at her lips when she pushes Lexa’s wayward curls away from her face.

 

“Your hair is crazy,” she comments as her hand moves down to press against Lexa’s diaphragm. She looks incredibly proud of herself and Lexa knows exactly what she means by crazy.

 

Lexa has sex hair and she can already feel it matted to the back of her head.

 

She reaches up to touch it. “I need to shower.”

 

Clarke pouts like a petulant child. “But do you, though?”

 

Her thumb reaches up to sweep over Clarke’s protruding bottom lip before she leans up to kiss it quickly. “Yes, I do,” she murmurs as Clarke takes it as permission to capture her mouth and kiss her a little slower. A happy whimper rumbles up Lexa’s throat and she happily sucks Clarke’s tongue into her mouth before pulling away. “I smell like sweat and—” Clarke’s smirk grows again when Lexa pauses and her cheeks suddenly blush with the lack of appropriate words. “Other things,” she eventually settles on. “And I’m starving. I want breakfast. I didn’t eat dinner last night.”

 

Without warning, Clarke smothers her face in fond, playful kisses. Her thighs fit over Lexa’s hips and she takes Lexa’s jaw in her hands as she presses a firm, innocent peck to her lips.

 

“Why is it so hard for you to feed yourself regularly?” she asks as she sits up. She stretches her arms above her head and Lexa’s eyes are shameless when they peek down to see the gap between Clarke’s underwear and shirt.

 

Clarke catches her looking and her expression darkens slightly before she reaches for Lexa’s hands and puts them on her bare waist. Lexa falters before realizing that Clarke wants her to touch her. Clarke watches her curiously and quietly gathers her hair atop her head. Lexa squeezes the softness of her sides and Clarke’s breath hitches when she lets her hands drift down over her abdomen.

 

She leans back over Lexa so slowly that Lexa has enough time to anticipate the kiss that Clarke gives her. She rises up to meet her and it’s deep but innocent. Clarke’s tidy hair ends up messy and they only pull away when they can’t breathe anymore. They lay aside each other and Clarke looks so fucking pleased with herself. She buries her smirk in Lexa’s neck and Lexa spends way too long debating whether she actually needs breakfast or not.

 

It’s not until her stomach gives a huge rumble that the decision is made for her. Clarke snorts and rolls off of her. Her body curls around Lexa’s pillows and all Lexa really wants to do is wrap herself around her never go anywhere again.

 

“Go shower,” Clarke mumbles happily.

 

She looks so fucking adorable that Lexa almost doesn’t.

 

 

//

 

Strangely, the first real sign that anything has changed is when they go for breakfast.

 

It’s not like they often go for breakfast together, but they’ve been to the dining hall with each other more times than Clarke would ever be able to count. They have a routine that never breaks and Clarke loves it. Lexa always gets her food first and then finds a table while Clarke gets hers. Lexa won’t sit anywhere that doesn’t have a chair with its back against a wall.

 

So when they go for breakfast much later that morning, the fact that they woke up knotted together and that Clarke watched Lexa come before they did anything else doesn’t feel weird. The fact that Lexa totally let Clarke have a sneaky peek down the front of her towel when she got out of the shower felt completely normal.

 

What makes her aware that everything is real is the way that Lexa quietly wraps her ankle around hers as they eat their food. It makes her tummy flutter with butterflies that make her cheeks blush. She proudly glances around them to see if there’s anyone to see.

 

There’s only Octavia and Raven, and Clarke sits uncomfortably straighter when they beeline towards her. Lexa gives her a curious frown and sips her cup of coffee, her expression barely changing as Clarke’s friends quietly sit down in the seats beside them.

 

It’s awkward and nobody speaks until Lexa smirks at the three of them and says a sweet, “Good morning.”

 

It makes Clarke smile, even though she doesn’t want to. She glares down into her own cup of coffee while trying to force away the grin. Lexa must notice because the foot around her ankle tugs imperceptibly.

 

“Well,” Lexa says in quiet amusement, slowly moving to get up. “You three obviously have a lot to talk about, so I’m going to go and pick a book up from the library.”

 

Clarke’s head darts up and she watches at Lexa pulls on her coat and her scarf and searches through her pocket for her college ID. She’s glad that Lexa stops right by her as she leaves. Her hand finds Lexa’s and Lexa gives it a squeeze before leaning down to kiss the top of her head. It feels so ridiculously intimate that Clarke wishes she could just follow her.

 

“Bye,” Lexa whispers softly. “I’ll head back up, after.”

 

Clarke nods and watches her leave despite every bone in her body telling her not to. When she turns back, there are two sets of eyes watching her. Clarke ignores them and sips her coffee, reaching forward and grabbing Lexa’s to finish that too.

 

“You love her,” Octavia tries to tease.

 

It doesn’t really work when Clarke nods in agreement. “Yeah,” she whispers. “I do.”

 

Raven scoffs and laughs. “Really, Clarke? Her?!”

 

Clarke turns to her and shakes her head. She tries to keep calm regardless of the rage and disappointment she feels.

 

“You don’t even know her,” she says tightly. “You literally decided what you thought about her just from me telling you what she said that first time I spoke to her. I thought it was funny. I thought it showed that she cared about stuff and you guys took it as her being an uppity robot bitch. You made her into the thing you thought she was, because you couldn’t be bothered to get to know her instead. I wanted to know her and I couldn’t because all we did was tease her. And it’s sad because she’s smart and she’s funny. She sees this place as something more than just somewhere to come and party all the time. It means more to her than making friends and fucking around. She fought hard to get here and she wants to make a difference and we should respect that.”

 

“Clarke…” Octavia tries but Clarke shakes her head.

 

“No,” she says and shakes her head. “I’ve had a crush on her since the minute I saw her, you know that? Why else would I try and talk to her in that class and get completely and royally shut down? She was passionate and guarded and really fucking pretty. She made me actually think for the first time in years and if it weren’t for her I’d probably still be a Biology major. It was so goddamn easy to fall for her and if you have a problem with that, I don’t give a shit, Raven. It’s your problem but I have never felt this happy. I’ve never felt this understood.”

 

“You fucked Finn,” Raven says, like that’s a good enough response.

 

Clarke shakes her head and laughs mirthlessly. “Yeah, I fucked Finn. But I didn’t pursue him. He pursued me. He made me think I was in love with him and then you came along and he’d made you think the same thing. He used the pair of us and he almost made me lose Lexa. You can have him if you want, Raven, but I’m good. Your friendship means more to me.”

 

Octavia sighs and Clarke hears a thud as she kicks Raven under the table. “I told you,” she says lowly. “I’ve told you all along that he’s a piece of shit but you don’t listen to anyone, Raven. He’s a piece of shit. Do you not realize how many times he hit on me, too?”

 

“Don’t fucking lie—”

 

“Oh my god, Raven,” Clarke snaps and turns to glare at her with wide eyes. “Get over it. Get the fuck over it. Get OVER it. Can’t you see that he wants you to push everyone away? Can’t you see that he enjoys the attention?”

 

Raven slouches in the chair and shakes her head. “I’ve known him most of my life.”

 

“Doesn’t mean he’s not a fucking douchebag,” Octavia quips and Clarke finds herself laughing before Raven rolls her eyes and joins in too. “You both need to forget about him and remember that your friendship is more important instead of fighting over some boy.”

 

“Already done,” Clarke mumbles.

 

It doesn’t take long until Raven nods and sighs. “Sorry, Clarke,” she whispers.

 

Clarke nods and the three of them lapse into silence again. Clarke thumbs Lexa’s lipstick mark on the coffee cup in front of her and wonders how long she has to sit here before she can leave.

 

“Did you pet her kitty yet?” Octavia asks and Clarke looks up in bewilderment until she finds Octavia’s wagging eyebrows.

 

She scoffs and glares before instantly blushing down into her lap. She can’t fight the half smirk that covers her lips and Raven gasps, poking at her cheeks.

 

“That’s a yes!” she teases. “That’s a total yes.”

 

Clarke shoves her hand away and shakes her head, smiling. “No, no, it’s not,” she argues and shakes her head. “We haven’t. Not really. Just some… ya know.”

 

“You have it so bad,” Raven giggles. Octavia smirks.

 

Clarke’s smile makes her face hurt. She sighs and nods in agreement.

 

“I do,” she says. “I really do.”

 

//

 

Lexa’s reading her book and writing notes for a paper when the door opens. She barely gets to finish her sentence before Clarke’s straddling her thighs and taking the book from her hands. She tosses it onto Lexa’s desk before laying her head against her chest. Her body settles instantly into Lexa’s before Lexa can even think to react.

 

“Hello to you, too,” Lexa mumbles into her hair.

 

Clarke feels soft and delicate. She hums and fumbles to find Lexa’s hand at her side. The way she tangles their fingers together feels more intimate than the way her body sprawls over Lexa’s like a blanket.

 

“I just spent the past ninety minutes telling my friends how much I like you,” she mumbles shyly into the skin of Lexa’s neck. “I thought I should tell you for when they inevitably start to tease us.”

 

Lexa tangles her fingers in the pink ends of Clarke’s hair and rests her cheek against the top of her head. “That’s nice.”

 

“Is it okay?”

 

Lexa hums. “Of course. I like that you like me.”

 

“I love you,” Clarke corrects her quickly and Lexa’s even less prepared for the way it makes her feel than the first time. Her body rushes into a frenzy and Clarke must be able to tell because she reaches for Lexa’s wrist to check her pulse. She rolls to the side to glance up at Lexa and narrows her eyes. “Your heart’s beating really fast,” she whispers and then worries her lip anxiously. “Do you want me to stop saying it?”

 

Lexa feels her cheeks tingle and she swallows thickly before shaking her head. Clarke’s fingers begin to soothingly trace her face and Lexa lets her eyes flutter shut.

 

“No one’s ever…” she whispers and licks her lips. Clarke keeps stroking her face and she’s so quiet and understanding that Lexa needs to be closer to her. She turns her head until their foreheads and noses are pressed together. “Nobody’s ever told me that before,” she admits. “I don’t even remember my mom telling me that when I was little and it’s—it’s just a little bit overwhelming.”

 

Clarke’s blue eyes are so fucking calm. They make it easier to speak when Clarke says nothing and listens instead.

 

“I want to say it back,” Lexa admits in a whisper and Clarke’s face flickers with gentle recognition, moving closer. “I want to say it back but I don’t know how. I’ve never—I’ve never… You know?”

 

Clarke nods. “I know, baby,” she breathes but she doesn’t sound disappointed or upset. Lexa snuggles closer to her and lets Clarke hold her. She really likes it when Clarke’s holding her. Clarke’s arms around her make her feel present. They make her feel safe. Clarke leans up to kiss her forehead and Lexa holds her still with an arm around her bicep. “I know. I know how hard all this is for you. It must be scary but you are so…” She takes a deep breath in and shakes her head but doesn’t say anything else for ages. When she does, her eyes are bright and glassy. “It’s just really hard to not keep telling you all the time.”

 

Lexa hides her smile against Clarke’s cheek. “Really?”

 

Clarke chuckles and takes another deep inhale of breath. “Jesus, Lexa.”

 

“What?”

 

Clarke’s nose strokes down her cheek and when Clarke kisses her it’s slow and soft. It’s innocent and Lexa knows that it’s going no further than this, than Clarke’s mouth moving carefully and precisely against hers. She’s showing her. She’s telling her without words and Lexa sighs into Clarke’s mouth as they kiss for such a long time, until their lips ache and their chests hurt. Lexa feels alight with feelings, like every nerve ending in her body is awake. Her eyes flutter to find Clarke’s when Clarke softly pulls away.

 

“I just love you,” Clarke whispers in the small space between their lips. “That’s all.”

 

The third time is a little easier than the first and second but the butterflies still swoop inside of her. Lexa smiles and it barely takes a second before Clarke’s swiping her thumb over her bottom lip. She urges Lexa’s chin up and Lexa shudders as Clarke almost kisses her again. Their mouths rest against each other and Lexa tangles her hand in Clarke’s hair because this is how she wants to stay.

 

“I just love you,” Clarke repeats.

 

Lexa smiles and staying like this is all she wants to do.

 

//

 

Lexa makes her feel silly.

 

It doesn’t make sense when Lexa spends most of her time being so serious.

 

She hopes that she makes Lexa feel silly too because the silliness feels more like uncontrollable happiness. She wants to make Lexa happy. She wants to make her smile and she wants Lexa to always give her that secret look that she doesn’t give anyone else.

 

She likes the soft expression Lexa gets every time Clarke leans in to kiss her. She never closes the distance between them, but her chin lifts as the barest, calmest, pleased little look crosses her face. Her eyes become so dark it’s almost like they change color completely and Clarke likes watching for that moment she gets close enough that Lexa’s eyes close and her lashes flutter against the tops of her cheeks.

 

She loves how Lexa looks at her so fondly when she interrupts her seriousness.

 

That’s how they ended up sprawled on the floor of their room. Lexa had been sitting in front of her dresser, finally finishing putting away the laundry Clarke had interrupted her from two days ago, when Clarke had leaned down to kiss her. It had been to make her lose concentration but she’d been surprised when Lexa had pulled her back down to the floor. She’d been even more surprised that Lexa had let her pull her into her lap.

 

Lexa’s giggling is quite possibly the best thing Clarke’s ever heard and she shamelessly attempts to hear it as much as possible to fully inform that decision. If that means she has to pin Lexa to their bedroom floor and whisper the most ridiculous pick up lines in her ear then so be it.

 

“They’re so bad,” Lexa sniggers, her laughter bright and sweet around the room.

 

Clarke bites her lip just hearing it and kisses her jaw.

 

“I love listening to you laugh,” she whispers and when Lexa turns to her expectantly, it takes her too long to realize what she’s waiting for. “That’s not a line.”

 

Lexa’s giggles stop and maybe the only thing second to them is the way that Lexa has to look at Clarke sometimes to make sure she’s being serious. Clarke’s figured out all her tells and she knows that, when Lexa’s hand tangles into the back of her hair, she’s trying to figure out what to do next.

 

She expects a kiss but Lexa bites her lip and wraps her arms around Clarke’s shoulders instead. She brings their foreheads together and her hand cradles the back of Clarke’s neck. She’s so soft and careful. Clarke nudges their noses together, desperate to put her anxious body at ease. Her hand lifts to slowly stroke wayward brown curls from Lexa’s face as Lexa swallows back her worries.

 

“You make me happy,” she whispers shyly.

 

Clarke finds herself grinning, proud and enamored and relieved all at once.

 

“I’m glad my cheesy pick up lines could be of service,” she teases, pulling Lexa closer and quirking her eyebrow.

 

Lexa rolls her eyes. “Brat,” she whispers. “I’m serious.”

 

“I know you are,” Clarke nods, shifting so that both of her hands can tangle in Lexa’s hair. “So am I.”

 

“Clarke.”

 

“I am,” she smiles. “Because you just being here makes me happy. Happier than I ever knew I could be. And if I can ever make you as half as happy as I am right now then I’ll never need anything else.”

 

Lexa swallows thickly and Clarke finds herself pulled into a quick, messy kiss. It’s deep and desperate and Lexa’s breath catches in her throat as time seems to escape them. Her hands muss through Clarke’s hair and, when she pulls away, it curtains their faces. Clarke wonders if she’ll ever not fall even more in love every time Lexa kisses her. She wonders if she’ll ever not be completely obsessed with the way that Lexa combs her hair away from her face.

 

“Can I buy you dinner?” Clarke sighs.

 

Lexa looks at her in confusion. “You always buy me dinner.”

 

Clarke smirks and loves this precocious thing in her arms more than life itself. “Yes, I do,” she agrees. “But I would like to buy you dinner—maybe in a restaurant, maybe not—and then I would like to walk you home while holding your hand and then probably kiss you a little. If you’re lucky, maybe I’ll let you rub up against me again.”

 

Lexa burns bright pink and Clarke winces when she feels a smack to the back of her head. Her tongue pokes through her teeth and Lexa looks so embarrassed and proud and bashful that Clarke can’t stop the teasing giggle that bubbles up her throat.

 

“You’re so cute,” she whispers and lets her lips and nose tease up the side of Lexa’s neck before she moves in closer. “Don’t worry,” she whispers against her ear. “I have every intention of maybe rubbing up against you, too.”

 

Every inch of Lexa’s skin that she touches burns.

 

She lets Clarke take her out for pizza and never lets go of her hand for more than a few minutes. They walk back to campus slowly in the brisk chill of the evening and by the time they get back to their dorm it’s quiet.

 

Lexa kisses her against their bedroom door when they get inside and Clarke puts something old and familiar on Netflix before they get into bed. She can feel Lexa’s nerves vibrating the room and Lexa’s shaking when Clarke climbs into the bed behind her. She lets Clarke wrap her up in her arms but the longer they spend quietly watching the movie, the more nervous Lexa seems to get.

 

Clarke nuzzles into her neck. She turns over Lexa’s hand in hers and makes soothing patterns into her palm before bringing it up and kissing the center of it. Lexa takes a deep, hopeless breath and Clarke smiles against her skin.

 

“We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do,” she whispers eventually. Lexa doesn’t turn to her and buries her head into the pillow instead. Clarke kisses her neck and then her hairline until she breathes out and opens her eyes. “We’ll go to sleep.”

 

“I don’t want to disappoint you,” Lexa whispers. “I’m worried I’m going to scare you away by being such a fucking idiot...”

 

Baby,” Clarke whispers and she likes the way that Lexa turns to her at the endearment. “I’m not going anywhere. Take your time. I’d wait forever.”

 

Lexa shakes her head. “That’s—”

 

“I’d wait forever,” Clarke whispers. “I just want you to feel safe and comfortable.”

 

Lexa slowly relaxes into her arms when Clarke spends the rest of the movie nuzzling her neck and holding her hands. It’s already enough and she doesn’t know how to explain to Lexa that she doesn’t need anything else. She already has more than she ever expected to get.

 

When the movie finishes, Lexa turns over and buries her head in Clarke’s neck. She breathes softly and steadily and Clarke traces over the patterns etched into her back beneath her t-shirt.

 

“I love you,” she whispers.

 

Lexa’s already asleep.

 

//

 

“Cut it out.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Uh, because I have to write this paper.”

 

“Boring,” Clarke giggles and Lexa tries to look at her sternly and fails miserably.

 

Clarke places one more teasing kiss to the crook of her neck before flopping back onto Lexa’s bed and reaching for her laptop. Lexa looks at her over her shoulder and doesn’t understand how she’s managed to function these past few days. Clarke Griffin holds her hand and walks her to class and introduces her to people she doesn’t know. She brings her coffee to the library and then drags her to the dining hall when Lexa forgets to eat. She doesn’t do anything in public that Lexa isn’t okay with, but Lexa’s gotten so comfortable with forehead kisses that she doesn’t think she wants anything else.

 

She comes back from late classes to find Clarke napping on her bed with her face buried into Lexa’s pillow and Lexa’s blanket balled against her chest. Clarke wears Lexa’s shirts from the day before to bed and won’t stop regardless of how many complaints Lexa makes about her boobs stretching them out. Clarke is the last person she sees before she falls asleep and the person to wake her up with kisses each morning. Clarke Griffin has put a little heart emoji next to Lexa’s name in her phone and Lexa doesn’t understand anything at all.

 

Clarke Griffin smiles at Lexa like she’s the only important thing in the universe, and Lexa is completely and irrevocably in love with her.

 

She has fallen madly and desperately in love with her but she can’t tell her.

 

Clarke loves her back but Lexa is still terrified that she’s going to change her mind and leave.

 

She’s so used to people changing their mind.

 

But with each passing day, Clarke leaves her breathless because she’s still here. Clarke’s bed hasn’t been slept in for almost a week and the awe in her expression has only increased. Lexa doesn’t understand Clarke Griffin because she is not like anyone else she’s ever met. She has no idea what to do because she’s never been here before. And the worst thing is that Clarke knows that she’s scared, she knows that Lexa doesn’t know what to do, and yet she still smiles at her like she’s the best thing in the world.

 

“You look like you’re about to blow an aneurysm,” Clarke comments and when Lexa snaps out of her reverie, Clarke’s watching her with a smile. She playfully raises her eyebrows. “Stop thinking about everything.”

 

It’s easier said than done. Lexa doesn’t know how to do anything but think about everything.

 

Clarke’s brow furrows in concern and Lexa doesn’t look away as she shuffles forward and reaches over to cup Lexa’s face.

 

“Sorry,” Lexa whispers as Clarke studies her face. Her thumb sweeps steadily over Lexa’s cheeks and Lexa hates that she needs this constant reassurance. She hates that she still thinks Clarke will go to class one day and never come back. She hates that she thinks she’ll come home one day and Clarke will have brought back someone else. She hates that she’s waiting for the other shoe to the drop.

 

Clarke smirks. “You need a distraction.”

 

Lexa smiles but her heart still pounds in her chest. She’s so desperate to give Clarke everything but how is she supposed to do that when she’s not sure if she’ll stick around after? How can she do anything when she won’t just listen to what her heart is telling her?

 

“What kind of distraction?” she asks nervously and she knows that Clarke knows what she’s thinking but Clarke doesn’t comment on it.

 

She takes Lexa’s hand and gives a gentle tug until she gets up instead. Clarke pulls her into her lap and gives her the sweetest smile. Hands find her hair and Lexa lets her eyes flutter because she needs this.

 

“A party,” Clarke whispers. Lexa’s face drops on instinct and Clarke laughs. “I know what you’re thinking but it’s not that kind of party. Octavia and Lincoln have invited a few people by for a pizza party tonight. Just pizza and beer. I know you like both of those things. And I want you to meet my friends. I want them to know the you that I know.”

 

“And what me is that?” Lexa asks as Clarke pulls them back to lie awkwardly in the mountain of pillows.

 

“The real one,” Clarke sighs, kissing her nose. “The funny, smart, wise ass little shit.” She smirks. “The beautiful, kind, caring, thoughtful you. The one that I love.”

 

Twenty-nine, Lexa counts silently because that’s twenty-nine times that Clarke’s told her she loves her. Clarke’s told her twenty-nine times and Lexa’s not really sure how many times someone has to say something to know that it’s one hundred percent true.

 

She’s starting to think that maybe once is enough for Clarke.

 

“Okay,” she whispers. “Shall I change?”

 

Clarke’s smile widens and she shakes her head softly. “You already look perfect.”

 

Lexa’s starting to think that maybe once is enough for her too.

 

//

 

Lexa lets go of her hand the minute that they get to Lincoln’s.

 

Clarke thinks she understands why until Lexa asks her a question that she never expected.

 

“Will Finn be there?” she asks quietly. “Doesn’t he live here?”

 

Clarke slips her hands into her pockets and clears her throat. She looks down at the ground and shakes her head. “No,” she says stiffly. “He doesn’t. He has an apartment about twenty minutes away and you really don’t have to worry about him ever being invited anywhere ever again.”

 

Lexa nods and Clarke feels as unsettled as she looks. Her face is set in an unreadable expression and Clarke isn’t sure if this was a good idea. She feels strange not holding Lexa’s hand. Her hand finds Lexa’s elbow and she scratches there for a second until Lexa looks at her.

 

“Say the word and we’ll leave,” she mumbles, shrugging her shoulders.

 

Lexa shakes her head and Clarke feels her heart rate steady when Lexa reaches for her hand. She lets Clarke lead her inside and relaxes noticeably when she realizes there isn’t a person here she doesn’t already know. She’s polite but awkward. She grips Clarke’s hand as they move into the room and find somewhere to sit. Lincoln hands them beer—good beer, Clarke notes—and then asks them in they’re up for playing some board games.

 

Lexa actually looks excited at the prospect and agrees. They talk politely to Octavia and her brother Bellamy until the pizza arrives. Lexa’s surprisingly shy about accepting any until Lincoln smiles and insists that he bought enough pizza for them all to have one pie each if they want.

 

Clarke waits until everyone’s up and moving around before leaning forward and pressing her nose to Lexa’s neck. She watches the way that she squirms and blushes before leaning forward to nudge her mouth against her ear.

 

“You’re pretty,” she whispers and grins when Lexa’s expression softens. She turns to look at her and Clarke feels stuck to her like a fly to honey. Lexa’s lips twitch with a smile and Clarke wants to kiss her but isn’t sure if she’s allowed. She’s only encouraged by the way that Lexa imperceptibly moves close enough that their noses touch. Clarke thinks they’re going to kiss until something loud bangs nearby.

 

“Hey, lovebirds!” Octavia says and Clarke turns to her with a glare, sucking her bottom lip into her mouth. Lexa takes a nervous sip of her beer. “Are you two going to be a team?”

 

They play some trivia game that Clarke isn’t really interested in until Lexa starts kicking everyone else’s asses. She doesn’t know why she’s surprised but Lexa’s so preoccupied with winning that she doesn’t say anything when Clarke wraps a possessive arm around her waist and tugs her closer. Her hand finds Clarke’s without realizing and she finishes her argument with Jasper when his Google search proves Lexa right. She smiles at him smugly and only then notices Clarke when Clarke gives a soft scratch to her stomach.

 

She stiffens for half a second before softening into her embrace even more than before. Clarke hates that she can feel all her friends’ eyes on them.

 

They win because of course they do and Clarke has to part with Lexa when everyone starts fighting over her to be on their team next time. Lexa looks surprised but Clarke just smirks and raises her brow until she follows them.

 

She finds her way to the kitchen and watches from across the room as Lexa seems to settle and talk with her friends. She watches her and wonders if this could have been what it would have been like from the very beginning. She wonders if everything would have been okay sooner if she’d been brave enough to admit she liked Lexa from the minute she met her.

 

“She’s wonderful.”

 

Clarke turns and finds Lincoln and Bellamy watching her stare. She blushes and swallows thickly. She doesn’t say anything because the what-ifs make her feel sad and relieved all at once. She takes a sip of her beer and bites her lip. The boys stand on either side of her and tease her with playful nudges to her sides.

 

“Really,” Bellamy says and his smile is proud and knowing. “She’s great, Clarke. You should have brought her by sooner.”

 

Clarke hides her smile behind her hand as she props her elbow on the counter and keeps watching. When Lexa’s eyes find her across the room, Clarke can’t stop the feelings of peace and belonging that overcome her.

 

Lexa’s head tilts curiously to the side until she breaks away from her friends a few moments later. She moves gracefully across the room and stands beside Clarke at the counter.

 

Everyone watches but Lexa still leans in to kiss her anyway.

 

//

 

She doesn’t truly know or understand anything until a week later when the faculty decides that it’s time to do the yearly practice of the emergency lockdown procedure.

 

Lexa gets stuck in the library and, for the first time in forever, she doesn’t actually have anything to do. She was supposed to be returning a book she’d used for the paper she’d handed in that morning. Now, she’s here stuck with nothing to do and a phone with an almost dead battery, looking forward to a wasted afternoon that should have been free.

 

When they did this last year, she got stuck in a classroom for four hours.

 

At least the library has vending machines.

 

“Lexa!”

 

When she turns, she’s actually relieved to see Octavia and Raven sitting at one of the good, quiet study tables in the corner of the psychology section. Lexa prefers the usually barren study area upstairs in geology but some of the history kids had got there before she could claim a table for herself.

 

“Hey guys,” she says as she hovers by one of the empty seats. “You’re stuck here, too.”

 

Octavia rolls her eyes and shoves out a chair so that Lexa sits down. “We had every intention of studying but now we’re just too pissed off to even care.”

 

“Tell me about it,” Lexa huffs. “I only wanted to return something and head out.”

 

Raven lazily bites the end off a Red Vine. “Do you know where Clarke is?”

 

At the mention of Clarke, Lexa feels her chest ache with guilt. They were supposed to be heading into Boston tonight to go and see some art exhibition Clarke needs for a class. Clarke was so excited and they were going to go out for dinner afterwards. She doubts that’ll be happening now.

 

“Um, she was having a nap the last I heard from her,” Lexa tells them. “She doesn’t have any classes this afternoon.”

 

“Lucky,” Raven scoffs. “I bet she’s already sent one of us a smug message.”

 

“Nah,” Octavia chuckles before kicking her feet up onto the table in front of her. “You’ve seen her the past few weeks. If she’s heard about all this shit, I bet Lexa already has about fourteen texts asking where she is and if she’s okay.”

 

The words unsettle Lexa and she glances between the two of them, determined not to check, before she can’t wait any longer and grabs her slowly dying phone from her pocket. Her face flushes when she sees how many messages Clarke has actually sent her and rolls her eyes at Octavia’s knowing chuckle.

 

“Told you.”

 

Lexa ignores them as she sends Clarke a message. It feels strange to have someone so concerned about her. It feels even stranger that there’s someone out there who has laid enough claim of her that the rest of the world is aware of it. Lexa softens and swallows and kind of wants to cry because she doesn’t know what else to do.

 

“She’s got it so bad,” Raven comments and when Lexa looks up, her brown eyes are kind and understanding. Lexa opens her mouth to respond but Raven rolls her eyes. “Not you. I wouldn’t assume to know how you feel, Lexa, but I know how Clarke feels. She’s one of my best friends. I’ve honestly never seen her like this. I never thought I’d see her like this. Not after everything that’s happened.”

 

Lexa glances between the pair of them like a small, scared animal. Their words mean something. They mean something and Lexa doesn’t understand why. Raven notices the anxiety in her expression and Lexa flinches at the hand that reaches forward to press soothingly against her arm.

 

“You’re scaring her,” Octavia warns and rolls her eyes at Lexa’s scoff.

 

Raven gives her a bored look. “I’m not scaring her.”

 

“You’re totally scaring her.”

 

“I’m fine,” Lexa lies and she’s glad when Octavia rubs her back anyway.

 

“I think what Raven’s trying to say is that Clarke was a lot different… before you came along…”

 

Lexa laughs at that. “I know that.”

 

Octavia’s expression turns serious and Raven’s does too.

 

“You don’t,” Raven whispers and when Octavia nods, Lexa’s confused.

 

“Clarke was… pretty broken… when she first got here,” Octavia whispers, moving in close so that no one can hear. She props her head up on her elbow and watches Lexa carefully. “Her dad died in a car crash a few years back. Her mom was driving and she blamed herself. Her mom pretty much took up drinking as a sport and things… things were really bad for Clarke. Her mom ended up in rehab after almost killing a patient. Clarke wasn’t sure if she’d be able to come to college.” Octavia chuckles. “It probably doesn’t help that Clarke told us all this while drunk on the anniversary of her dad’s death, though. She doesn’t tell anyone anything sober. Not feelings-wise anyway. She was dead set on never feeling anything for anyone for a long time. She fucked around because it was easier for her. It was less scary. After the stuff with Finn and Raven happened last year, she pretty much went off the deep end. She barely went home for summer break because she was so angry. No one has any idea what she did or where she went for most of it. She sent me a weekly text to let me know she was okay and that was it. The first day of semester was the first time we’d seen her since she’d escaped in the middle of the night from a trip to New Orleans.”

 

Lexa clears her throat and remembers the way that Clarke was when they first became roommates. She was distant and she didn’t seem to care about anything. She didn’t tell Lexa anything unless she was drunk and Lexa hated it back then. Now, she’s grateful for it. She’s grateful that Clarke is safe.

 

“You—you really calmed her down,” Raven smirks. “And I have no idea how you did it.”

 

Octavia nods reverently. “We were so sure that the only thing that could end this was something really, really bad. Like, catastrophically bad. We spent most of the summer waiting for a phone call from a hospital. We didn’t think she’d come back this year. We didn’t think she planned to. And, when she did, we didn’t think she’d stay, you know? Then you came along.”

 

“I didn’t do anything,” Lexa shakes her head because she didn’t. She hasn’t. She was just there.

 

Octavia shakes her head and sighs in quiet amusement. Raven looks up to the ceiling and laughs before rubbing her hands over her face.

 

“You have no idea, do you?” she says fondly. Lexa tilts her head to the side in quiet, confused anticipation. Octavia lets out a huffed sigh. “You made her want to be better. She let you listen. She wanted you to listen. You made her feel understood.”

 

“You made her feel safe,” Raven interjects with a shrug. “You made her think about what she was doing.”

 

Lexa frowns and wraps her arms protectively around herself. She wonders if she was ever actively aware that she was doing these things to Clarke. She wonders if she made Clarke feel like she had to do these things. She would hate to think of Clarke doing anything against her will.

 

“You didn’t do anything,” Octavia repeats her words back to her and Lexa hates the pressure building in her eyes. “Except be the one person who could make her start believing in things again. She believes in herself again and she believes in the people around her again.”

 

Lexa bites her lip and hates that she’s locked in this goddamn library. She feels a wash of longing for Clarke as she stares between the two people who once knew her better than anyone else. Except Clarke says Lexa’s the only one who knows her the best, but maybe that’s not true. She feels like she knows very little about Clarke at this current moment and she’s glad for the comforting hand Octavia puts on her shoulder.

 

“She loves you, Lexa,” she explains. “And that’s not something I’ve ever heard her say about anyone.”

 

Thirty, Lexa counts but it’s not really thirty. It feels like one all over again and Lexa quickly wipes at her cheeks to hide her tears. She wipes her cheeks and picks at her bottom lip and she hates being stuck in this goddamn library. She feels spun out of orbit but she also feels safe because she knows that these women here with her will take care of her because that’s what Clarke would want.

 

It quickly occurs to her that Clarke would rather die than make her feel unsafe, would rather die than hurt her. It occurs to her even more suddenly that she’d rather die than go another second without Clarke knowing the same.

 

“Don’t break her heart, Lexa,” Raven warns. “If you don’t love her then put her out of misery.”

 

Lexa glares at her but then stops when she realizes what she’s spent the last couple of weeks doing. She’s spent so long worrying about the fact that Clarke might break her heart that she failed to notice that maybe Clarke’s been doing the same thing. Except Clarke hasn’t done anything but remind her how different she is, while all Lexa’s done is be scared.

 

The guilt Lexa feels makes her feel sick and ashamed.

 

When the alarm sounds to say that the lockdown is over, Lexa doesn’t even say goodbye before she’s jumping out of her seat.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“You should bring her home,” her mother says and Clarke smiles at the thought but also doesn’t know how to explain why it would probably never happen. “We have more than enough room.”

 

She hums noncommittally instead of answering. “We’ll see,” she mumbles. “I’ll talk to her about it.”

 

“I’m sure she has family stuff…” her mother tries but she’s cut off quickly.

 

“She doesn’t,” Clarke says and the silence her mom leaves over the line shows that this is probably explanation enough. Clarke sighs. “I don’t want to push her, Mom. This is all kind of new.”

 

Her mom makes a knowing sound. “Is it?”

 

Clarke doesn’t really have a response for that. She feels like she’s had these feelings forever. She feels like she’ll have them forever. Right now, the thought of not waking up to Lexa every morning feels terrifying. Lexa’s been stuck in the library during the longest lockdown drill in the history of their school and Clarke is about ready to go postal on campus security. She only called her mother to stop herself from going out and camping outside the library until it was over. It’s also probably why she decided to spend most of their conversation talking about her.

 

“I’m just saying that she’s more than welcome to come home with you anytime, Clarke,” her mother says before going off on a long tangent about a patient. Clarke makes noises where she’s supposed to make noises but mostly she thinks about taking Lexa back to California and letting her seep into every last bit of her life.

 

Her mother’s still talking when the door to their room opens. Lexa smiles when she sees her, but there’s something different about her that Clarke notices straight away. She moves around their room, her body and movements anxious as she hangs up her coat and kicks off her boots. She sets them at the end of her bed like normal and Clarke reaches silently for her hand when Lexa sits down on the edge of the mattress.

 

She barely has to tug before Lexa falls to lie beside her.

 

“Clarke, are you even listening?” her mother asks but Clarke’s too busy tugging Lexa’s limbs until they’re wrapped around her body. She’s too busy trying to find the thing that’s going to set Lexa at ease. Her mother sighs. “Lexa’s back, isn’t she?”

 

The sound of her name catches Clarke’s attention. “Um, Mom, I love you but I’ve got to go.”

 

“Of course, you do,” her mother laughs knowingly. “Love you, honey. I’ll send you some cash.”

 

“‘Kay,” Clarke whispers, before she hangs up and tosses her phone on the nightstand. Lexa looks at her weirdly and Clarke wraps an arm around her waist to protectively bring her closer. “You’re back,” she whispers. Lexa nods. “I thought I was going to have to send out a search party.”

 

Lexa smiles and reaches between them to rest her hand on Clarke’s chest, against her heartbeat. It’s racing and Clarke knows that she should feel slightly embarrassed that Lexa can probably feel it but she doesn’t. She wants her to know. She wants Lexa to feel what she does to her.

 

“If the goddamn lockdown carried on any longer I was planning some Mission Impossible-worthy shit to get to you,” she mumbles but she’s mostly preoccupied with the way that Lexa looks at her differently.

 

It’s not strange or weird or unwelcome but Clarke still doesn’t know what to think about it. Her fingers lazily trace the horizontal blue and white stripes of Lexa’s shirt to try and settle her. She looks ridiculously beautiful in it but that didn’t stop Clarke from teasing her this morning that it makes her look like a French mime. Lexa had rolled her eyes and looked at her so fondly that Clarke had suddenly become so preoccupied kissing her that they were almost late for class.

 

“I was going to traverse the roofs of all the buildings from here to there and then abseil in through a window,” Clarke jokes. “I had a plan and everything.”

 

“Sure you did,” Lexa whispers.

 

Clarke nods and lets one of Lexa’s curls wrap around her finger. “I did,” she murmurs. “All I had to do was pick out my best catsuit and I would have been there.”

 

Lexa laughs out loud and, after looking so serious before, it catches Clarke off guard a little. She grins but stops when she sees how the expression on Lexa’s face has changed again. It’s softer, more exposed, and Clarke unknowingly shifts back to give her some space when Lexa reaches further between them to trace her fingers up Clarke’s neck to her face. She traces Clarke’s chin and her jaw, curls fingertips over her cheekbones and over her eyebrows before sweeping down her nose. Her thumbs soothe over Clarke’s cheeks before one stops to gently rest against the beauty spot on her top lip.

 

Lexa looks at her and Clarke thinks that she knows what’s about to happen. She thinks she knows but she also feels scared and nervous that it won’t. She knows but she’s also really, really scared that she doesn’t and she’s got it all wrong.

 

But Lexa’s face is strong and tender. Her expression has never looked so sure and vulnerable and Clarke can’t help but notice the way that her neck moves as she swallows thickly.

 

“I love you,” she whispers in an exhale, and Clarke barely notices the way that she blinks in surprise as the words leave her.

 

She’s too busy letting the warmth of them wash over her and she didn’t know—wasn’t nearly aware—of how much she needed to hear them until they leave Lexa’s lips.

 

She breathes out and is sure there are tears in her eyes. Her fingers slacken against Lexa’s waist as she pulls further back to look at her. She waits for the punch line, the laugh, the take back, but it never comes. Lexa’s expression only becomes desperate and worried.

 

“Really?” Clarke is barely able to whisper.

 

Lexa’s face flickers with sadness before her chin tilts down once before she nods quickly and surely.

 

“Yeah,” she breathes and her smile is watery but sweet.

 

She looks so scared and Clarke wishes she had the words to tell her she doesn’t need to be. She reaches for her cheek, cups it in her palm as her thumb traces the outline of the lips that just made her the happiest girl in the world. “You’re sure?”

 

Lexa laughs and a tear actually escapes her. “How could I not, Clarke?”

 

Clarke’s breath catches at that. The rest of her words actually get stuck in her throat and she wants to explain that Lexa could do so much better, deserves so much more. She wants Lexa to know that she feels lucky and honored and that the things she feels inside of her are bigger and realer and more terrifying than anything else she’s ever felt. They’ve overcome everything.

 

Lexa’s put everything into perspective.

 

“But look at you,” Clarke says instead and Lexa frowns like she doesn’t understand. “You’re… You’re everything.”

 

Her chuckle is Clarke’s favorite sound in the world. Her smile is worth waking up early on the worst days. Her face sets Clarke’s entire universe right and one day she’ll find the words to tell her. One day she’ll be able to truly express how Lexa makes her feel.

 

“So are you,” Lexa whispers. Her thumb sweeps over Clarke’s cheek and she’s shaking. “You have no idea…” she struggles around tight breaths. “You don’t even have the tiniest clue what you are to me—What you’ve done…” Her expression wavers with sadness for a moment, and then sinks into devastating awe as she clutches Clarke’s face in her hands. “You’ll never know what you’ve done—How you make me feel… There will never be enough words—enough—enough…”

 

When Lexa kisses her, Clarke knows she’s trying to tell her something. She can feel it in the delicate and careful way that Lexa explores her mouth with lips and tentative fingers. Lexa’s mouth opens against hers and it’s like she’s trying to teach her a brand new language. Her movements are confident. They’re bold and clear, and as Lexa drags surprised whimpers up her throat, all Clarke can do is try and listen.

 

//

 

As she kisses Clarke and stops herself from letting those three words become the only thing she ever says again, Lexa can only remember one thing.

 

She remembers being thirteen and having a “slumber party” with Anya and all the other girls in the Children’s home. She remembers them drinking cheap alcohol and talking about things she didn’t understand. She remembers them talking about boys and not really knowing why. She’d asked questions about things she’d never been able to ask anyone else before that. They’d told her about how boys feel, what it’s like when they touch you, where they might touch you. There had been a few boys who had wanted to kiss Lexa, who had tried to touch her without her permission. She’d hated it and had broken the fingers of three of them. It had made her skin crawl and she thought there was something wrong with her for a long time. She’d said as much and the other girls had told her she was just with the wrong person. She’d asked how to tell if it’s the right person and they’d told her she’d just know.

 

In the seven years since that moment, Lexa has had three moments of just knowing.

 

The first was when she was fifteen and her friend Costia had kissed her to stop her from crying. Costia was messed up and brash but she kissed Lexa and Lexa knew that she’d never feel the same exhilaration kissing a boy. Costia was sent to juvenile detention a week later and ended up dead within six weeks. It was when Lexa was crying about her with Anya that she admitted what she’d always known to be true - that she was gay.

 

The second was when she woke up, still half-drunk from a party, with her college roommate laid atop her and a thigh wedged between her legs. She’d known because Clarke was pressing against places that Lexa had barely touched herself, and all Lexa wanted to do was turn around and kiss her. She wanted to push Clarke away and forget about everything else she was feeling and just kiss her.

 

The third is about ten minutes after she tells Clarke Griffin she loves her for the first time.

 

She knows and the feeling settles heavy and thick in her chest and stomach. She knows because she’s scared and nervous but she doesn’t want to run away. She knows because Clarke makes her feel brave.

 

There’s just something about the way that Clarke’s mouth moves so effortlessly against hers that sets her at ease. There’s something familiar and safe about her that Lexa needs. She’s sure that she’ll have this craving for Clarke for the rest of her life and her hands tangle in pink-dipped hair, desperate to sate it. Clarke’s face is her favorite face in the world and she’s become dependent on the sight of it to improve every single one of her days. Clarke’s hands grip her waist and keep her close and Lexa wants to claim every inch of her.

 

She wants to know that every single bit of this girl is hers.

 

That’s why she pushes Clarke onto her back and throws a leg over her waist. Clarke gasps and her neck arches up to desperately follow after Lexa’s mouth. Their tongues meet and Lexa’s almost sure she’s holding Clarke’s jaw tight enough to hurt her. Clarke moans into her mouth as her sure hands slide down her back.

 

Lexa can feel Clarke’s hips pushing upwards and inherently knows that she’s desperate for the upper hand. She drops her weight without thinking because the thought of giving up this exhilaration and control might drive her mad. Clarke gasps in surprise when she pins her to the bed by her biceps and kisses her harder. She grunts and writhes but Lexa is adamant. Clarke yelps in surprise when she bites down on her bottom lip before sucking it between her own.

 

Clarke’s throat gurgles with the words she’s unable to say. Her hips start to push upwards again but stop when Lexa finally allows her mouth to drift down Clarke’s neck. She’s wanted to kiss it for such a long time that now that her mouth is here, she’s all over the place. Clarke pants for breath, her palms gripped tightly around Lexa’s forearms to anchor herself. Lexa knows that she’s probably going to leave marks on Clarke’s skin, but she doesn’t know how not to.

 

“Fuck,” Clarke whispers when Lexa pulls away entirely to sit up.

 

Her bottom lip is kiss-bruised and swollen and her eyes are dark, hazy blue when they look up at her. Lexa knows all over again and swallows thickly before she reaches for the hem of her own shirt. Clarke’s mouth opens, ready to protest, but Lexa pulls the fabric over her head before she can say anything. Clarke watches as Lexa tosses the shirt to the floor before reaching behind her to unfasten her bra. She peels the black lace from her shoulders and watches as Clarke’s eyes quietly begin tracing the shape of her body. Lexa wonders if she’ll ever hear Clarke speak again when she climbs off her and reaches for the button on her jeans. Blue eyes follow her hungrily and she quickly pushes the black fabric down her legs as Clarke’s mouth works around words she’s unable to say.

 

She’s not entirely sure that Clarke knows what’s happening until Clarke quietly and quickly pushes her soft, worn lazy-day pants down her legs. She adds them to the growing pile of clothing by Lexa’s feet and lies back until Lexa shyly settles back over her hips.

 

She’s sure that the feel of Clarke’s thighs against hers will set her off until the end of time. Her pulse feels so loud in her ears that she can barely hear anything else and she takes a moment to breathe until Clarke pushes up onto her elbows and looks at her through heavy lashes. Green eyes travel down over her bitten lip and flushed neck. Lexa realizes for the first time that Clarke is wearing one of her old button downs and she reaches forward to tug at the haphazardly fastened buttons.

 

“Stop wearing my shirts,” she whispers.

 

Clarke’s expression barely changes except for slowly brightening eyes.

 

“Make me,” she murmurs and Lexa needs no other invitation.

 

Her mouth finds Clarke’s as her deft fingers slowly work open the buttons. Clarke smiles against her mouth until Lexa’s fingers graze over the front of her bra. She gasps at the sensation and Lexa smirks against her mouth, purposely letting her hands linger by her cleavage for longer than necessary.

 

When she finally pushes the shirt over Clarke’s shoulders, she’s shameless in her visual exploration. Clarke is all soft, pale skin and perfectly formed curves. Her bra is dark blue and pretty, and Lexa remembers the way that her bare breasts had dragged against her back as she’d moved against her the night of the party. It feels like a crime that she hasn’t seen them yet, that the only glances of Clarke’s bare skin she’s had are moments that shouldn’t have been hers, or blurred, rushed images as Clarke had hastened to hide herself.

 

Clarke’s thumb sweeps over her kneecap as she waits. She flinches in surprise when Lexa’s hand lifts to press against her collarbone, fingertips tracing shapes over and against them until she needs to kiss her again. Clarke falls to her elbows with the force of it, a groan escaping her when Lexa’s hand drifts down to rest on the slope of her chest. Lexa litters kisses over her cheeks and jaw before sucking down Clarke’s neck. She listens to the change in Clarke’s breathing as she gently slips her fingers beneath the lace and cups the swell of her breast beneath. Her thumb sweeps over Clarke’s nipple as her other hand reaches behind her to find the clasp of her bra. Clarke gasps and nuzzles into the kisses against her neck. Her lips part and she doesn’t argue when Lexa strips the fabric from her body.

 

Lexa isn’t sure if Clarke’s noises are sounds of shock or protest when she lets her kisses linger down over her collarbones. Nails bite into her right thigh and Clarke barely lasts Lexa’s mouth encapsulating one of her nipples before her arms fail her and she collapses back onto the bed.

 

Lexa falls with her and smirks against one breast as her palm finds the other. Panting fills her ears and Clarke’s hips shift warningly upwards until Lexa pins her to the bed again. She encourages Clarke’s hands up to the headboard and one hand finds a white-knuckle grip there as the other pushes away the waves of dark hair that litter her chest.

 

Clarke lays entirely still for her after that, spread out over the bed as she lets Lexa have her way with her. She pushes the hair from Lexa’s face and makes noises that Lexa knows she’ll have daydreams about. When Lexa glances up at her through the thick curtain of her hair, Clarke’s blue eyes are half-closed and dark. A flush covers her cheeks and she looks so perfect that Lexa almost isn’t sure what to do with her.

 

She feels really mad at herself when she starts freaking out against the skin of Clarke’s stomach. She was already shaking but she didn’t notice how much until she buries her face in Clarke’s skin. It takes all of thirty seconds for Clarke to realize and pull her back level. Their chests press together and it feels so wonderful that Lexa begins to tremble.

 

Clarke’s arms wrap around her and she presses a pacifying kiss to Lexa’s nose but Lexa won’t stop trembling.

 

“I’m here,” she breathes soothingly. Her hands trace the pattern of the tattoo on Lexa’s spine before rubbing wide, firm circles against the base of her back. “I’m right here. We don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with.”

 

Lexa looks at her and words fail her. She knows that it’s not this moment that’s causing her to freak out; it’s just the whole experience in general. This could happen now or in eight million years and Lexa knows she would still be freaking the fuck out. It’s a big thing. It’s a huge moment and she’s so desperate for it to be perfect. She needs it to be perfect, for herself but also for Clarke.

 

Gently, she kisses Clarke until Clarke gasps against her. Her hands make a path over the curves of Clarke’s body, until they rest at the waistband of her underwear. Clarke pulls away to look at her and Lexa continues to tremble as she traces patterns against her hip.

 

Blue eyes narrow in curious confusion and Lexa swallows thickly before speaking.

 

“Show me,” she whispers. “Show me.”

 

Clarke knows exactly what she means.

 

She waits a few, quiet moments before reaching down and letting her fingers catch at the sides of her underwear. Lexa watches between their bodies as her pelvis lifts and Clarke reaches down to push the fabric over her hips. They get caught around her ankles and Lexa helps, tugging them off and dropping them unceremoniously onto the pile beside them. It’s instinctive, the way that she uses one of her knees to push Clarke’s thighs open, and she breathes unevenly at the sight that’s revealed.

 

She settles against her body, forehead pressed against Clarke’s cheek as Clarke’s hand takes hold of hers. She expects Clarke to lead her straight to where she wants her but instead Clarke takes her hand and presses it against her breast, squeezing Lexa’s fingers against her nipple. She continues, silently showing Lexa what she likes. She taps at her diaphragm before tracing a line down her stomach. Lexa knows from the slow drag of her fingertips that Clarke wants a tongue dipping into her belly button and sucking at her hips. She can tell, from the way that Clarke spreads her legs and drags Lexa’s fingers along the inside of her thighs, that there are certain places she’ll take anything.

 

When her fingers find the place between Clarke’s legs, she’s not scared anymore but she trembles anyway. Clarke’s so fucking wet. Her eyes flutter closed and her fingers falter against the back of Lexa’s. Lexa finds her clit without help and rubs against it gently until Clarke’s hips twitch. She gasps, her neck arching, and Lexa kisses the curve of it on instinct as Clarke’s body buckles beneath her movements. Her tongue licks over the tendons and Clarke whimpers when fingers drag all the way through her wetness to find her entrance. She teases with one fingertip first but knows, as she slips it inside of her, that it won’t be enough. She explores the new textures and lets her breath shudder from her with each reaction she creates within Clarke.

 

Clarke’s hands are in her hair and clutching at her wrist by the time she finally adds a second finger. She makes nonsensical sounds and Lexa bites her lip as she watches her. Their breasts drag against each other and Lexa accepts the desperate kisses that Clarke tries to give her. It’s lazy and struggled. Gasps ring from her when the heel of Lexa’s palm rubs against her clit. Her eyes become dark and surprised. She looks lost and bewildered but her fingers push at the back of Lexa’s underwear. Her thigh clenches between Lexa’s when Lexa instinctively begins rubbing herself against it.

 

“Can I touch you?” Clarke whispers between kisses and Lexa finds herself nodding without really thinking about it. The shudders won’t really stop but she doesn’t think she wants anything more than she wants Clarke to touch her. She feels like a tide being pulled back out to sea. She wants everything to wash over her at once.

 

A hand grips at her hip and Lexa lets out a moan when Clarke somehow manages to push her backwards and trap her against the wall with a leg over her hip. Clarke kisses her madly and tugs down the front of her underwear until it’s halfway down Lexa’s thighs. Her movements are frenzied and her hips judder with warning. Lexa’s wrist hurts and her eyes open wide when Clarke’s palm slips between her legs. They flutter closed when careful fingertips drag through her and she lets out a relieved moan when they find her clit.

 

She redoubles her efforts and pushes Clarke back into the mattress because of it. Her hand slips between Lexa’s thighs and Lexa’s unprepared for the sudden burst of feeling awakening her every nerve ending. Her movements falter, slow, and Clarke whimpers as she strokes expertly over her. Her middle finger hovers at Lexa’s entrance, waiting, and all it takes is a lazy roll of Lexa’s hips before it’s slipping inside.

 

It’s like all the oxygen in the room leaves and she can feel Clarke watching her, choking back her shocked little pants of breath. They pause for a moment before everything seems to resume with warm, sticky slowness. Clarke’s finger stays settled still within her while Lexa curls her wrist to hit higher inside of her. She whimpers brokenly with each thrust and Lexa’s not sure if Clarke’s thumb keeps meaning to stroke her clit or if it’s just a residual motion.

 

Clarke’s arm wraps around her shoulders and keeps her close. Lexa’s spare arm curls beneath her neck, kissing Clarke slowly and lazily as her orgasm slowly builds through her body. And she knows when it comes because she can feel it as purely as if it were her own. Clarke’s face slackens and her breath catches. Her body stiffens in Lexa’s arms and the muscles inside of her squeeze so hard that Lexa worries they might break her fingers. It feels like forever—a forever of her watching the tight tension that draws together Clarke’s expression—before she falls completely apart. Her face slackens and her breathing hitches. The muscles inside of her flutter and pulse while her hips twitch.

 

It’s like her body restarts and Lexa can’t stop herself from leaning down to kiss her mouth to see if it tastes different.

 

She doesn’t get long because as soon as Clarke recovers, she urges Lexa back onto her side and finishes dragging her underwear down her legs. She continues to urge her over until Lexa’s buried in the white pillows beneath her. With a soft kiss to her forehead, Clarke’s fingers begin moving at the gentlest, sweetest pace that redraws Lexa’s attention completely. Lexa’s hands find the back of Clarke’s head and tangles into the pink ends of her hair. She curls it around her fingers and pulls Clarke close enough that she can swallow every gasp that leaves her mouth and every kiss that urges her lips. She’s gentle and Lexa’s body floods with emotion and arousal when Clarke fits another finger within her. The emotion feels almost as good as the stretch of her body when Clarke thrusts deeply inside of her.

 

The bottom sheet tangles around their bodies. It’s sweaty and cramped but Clarke doesn’t stop sweeping the hair away from Lexa’s damp forehead. Noises leave her that she never knew she could make and her limbs curl around Clarke as Clarke’s fingers do magic things to her body. It should probably surprise her less how quickly she needs to come.

 

“Clarke—” she yelps, her arms wrapped around Clarke’s shoulders as Clarke nuzzles into her neck. She can feel her wetness soaking her thighs and feels so fucking desperate as she spreads her legs even wider. It’s a struggle, with the sheet wrapped around them but it works. It helps and, with that one movement, Clarke finds a place deep inside of her that Lexa’s sure is a self-destruct button. She feels like her entire existence is shattering apart. Her body arches upwards at the sensation and she comes so quickly that she doesn’t have time to warn her. Her body shudders and trembles and she lets out a cry so sharp and loud that Clarke can do little more than smother it with a kiss while Lexa’s body quakes in her arms.

 

It feels like it lasts forever and when she’s finally able to breathe again, Clarke’s still gently stroking her back down. Her nose is pressed against Lexa’s cheek and she can feel Clarke grinning against her skin. She lets Clarke stroke her until the feeling starts moving past comforting and back into the beginnings of something else, before she reaches down to drag her hand away.

 

She tangles their fingers together and tries to drag them back up to the headboard. Clarke uses the move to shift atop her and pin her against the mattress. Lexa lets out a lazy laugh that only gets louder when Clarke starts throwing the pillows across the room. A cheek rests against her chest and, when she finally opens her eyes and looks down, Clarke’s grinning up at her.

 

“Hello,” she smiles.

 

Lexa rolls her eyes but reaches up to play with her hair anyway. “Don’t be smug.”

 

Clarke hides her smile in Lexa’s skin but can’t help but giggle a few moments later. Lips press over her chest and collarbones and Lexa can’t fight the smirk on her face when Clarke lets out a happy sigh.

 

“How are you?” Clarke asks and it’s so fucking innocent and endearing that Lexa pulls her down for a long, slow kiss. Clarke pulls back, sucks her bottom lip into her mouth, and nods knowingly. “I see. That’s how it is.”

 

Lexa scoffs and closes her eyes. “So fucking smug.”

 

“You love it,” Clarke chuckles but when Lexa opens her eyes, she’s propped up on an elbow looking down at her so carefully and curiously. Her smile is soft and gentle and her spare hand pushes Lexa’s hair out of her eyes. “Are you okay?”

 

Lexa gives her the coyest smile she can. “I’m pretty okay.”

 

“Sure?”

 

“Very.”

 

“Good,” Clarke mumbles and Lexa enjoys the way that their bodies move as Clarke shifts and starts kissing down her chest and stomach. “Because you haven’t seen anything yet.”

 

//

 

Nobody has ever made her feel this happy.

 

It’s an overwhelming thought, but nobody has given her the same sparkling happiness and contentment that Lexa’s mere presence has filled her with. She can’t even fathom how Lexa loving her makes her feel.

 

It’s an indescribable addiction she never anticipated and it’s not even for the things she expected. She doesn’t want the release and the hot, sweaty moments where all you can think about is coming. She doesn’t really care about the sex. She wants the slow blink of Lexa’s eyes every time they look at her and the reverence that fills her expression. She wants the way that the simplest things make Lexa tremble, always. She wants the look of relief that softens her features as she comes back down from her high. She wants the same lazy smile that Lexa gives her every morning when she wakes up.

 

Clarke has—somewhat shamelessly—slept with a lot of people but she’s never felt as protective of their experience as she has of Lexa’s. She wants it to be good. She wants her to be able to remember everything with happiness. She wants Lexa to know that she’s safe.

 

She also wants to make Lexa come as many times and in as many ways as she can because she doesn’t think she’s ever seen something so beautiful.

 

She’s indescribably proud of the gasp Lexa lets out when she starts kissing down her chest and stomach. Clarke anticipates the hands that grab for her and takes them in her own so that she can tangle them together. She rubs her nose innocently over the soft swell of Lexa’s belly until the harsh pull of her breathing calms down.

 

“What are you doing?” Lexa breathes when Clarke drifts over to stroke the harsh jut of her hips with the tip of her nose.

 

Clarke doesn’t answer. She presses a lingering kiss to her skin before looking up at her.

 

“I can stop if you want me to,” she mumbles because Lexa knows exactly what she’s doing but she’s panicking. “Do you want me to stop?”

 

Lexa barely hesitates before she shakes her head. Clarke responds with an open-mouthed kiss against her pubic bone and hums at the shallow gasp Lexa releases. Clarke untangles her fingers from Lexa’s and then boldly guides her hands until they’re atop her head. Lexa’s fingers automatically tangle in blonde hair, her hands shaking as Clarke palms at her hips and tugs her closer.

 

“You can pull,” she whispers, seconds before lowering her mouth to find Lexa’s center.

 

Lexa’s body jolts and she actually does pull Clarke’s hair as she pants out a “Jesus fucking Christ.”

 

Clarke chuckles against the softness of her and it’s probably not the best idea because Lexa keens at the feel of it. She tastes delicious and Clarke buries her face in her because that’s all she wants to do. She goes at her tongue-first and Lexa resumes her shuddering as Clarke takes her time exploring which parts of her excite the best responses.

 

She licks through the folds of her and Lexa gasps out unsteady breaths. She whimpers when Clarke’s tongue drifts close to her entrance. She turns into a bumbling mess of curse words when Clarke sucks on her clit.

 

It pulls Clarke away from her, giggling. “You have a dirty mouth,” she mumbles.

 

Lexa gives her a frustrated scoff and Clarke looks up to watch the way her stomach muscles pull with her breathing.

 

“You are in no position to throw those words around right now,” she hisses quickly. “Fuck, Clarke.”

 

Clarke takes a long lick up the whole length of her, just to make her mad. “Oh, contraire, mon amour.”

 

Lexa grapples for the headboard and Clarke feels angry heels digging into her sides. “You better not be speaking French for the reason I think you’re speaking French.”

 

Clarke hums against her clit and sucks it greedily into her mouth when Lexa’s back arches. “No,” she whispers, pulling away innocently. “Not at all. Never.”

 

Lexa pants and writhes her hips, seeking out friction.

 

“Clarke, please,” she whimpers and it’s all Clarke needs to hear before she’s lapping steadily at her. Lexa moans and tugs encouragingly at her hair. She yelps when Clarke’s tongue finds its way inside of her and lets her thighs tighten around Clarke’s head. It gives Clarke enough room to grip her ass and she palms it gently as her tongue works within her.

 

She can tell that Lexa’s close from the way that her hips falter against Clarke’s movements. They jerk and shudder but Clarke never expects for Lexa to actually reach down and start rubbing at her own clit. It sends a rush of warmth to her own center and she can barely see Lexa’s face past the steady rhythm of her fingers.

 

She wishes she’d never thrown all those pillows across the room because right now she could use one between her legs.

 

She’s glad when Lexa whimpers out a “C’mere” and pulls her away before grabbing Clarke’s hip. She urges her around and it takes Clarke way too long to realize what’s going on. She turns around in a daze and straddles Lexa’s chest before letting her tongue resume between Lexa’s legs. She’s sure that Lexa is staring at her and wondering where to start because Lexa comes the minute that her mouth finds Clarke’s center.

 

She’s eager and all over the place but she figures out the rhythm soon after her orgasm settles. Clarke rests her cheek against her thigh and twitches against her as Lexa’s hands grip at her waist. Lexa laps at her entrance and it sends a flood through Clarke that Lexa eagerly tastes. Clarke’s pretty much been on the cusp of coming since the minute Lexa took her shirt off, but her second orgasm takes forever. Lexa doesn’t seem to mind and she figures out everything Clarke likes before Clarke can tell her. She scratches over Clarke’s ass and down her thighs. She drags her knuckles over Clarke’s stomach and uses just the right amount of pressure to make her legs quiver.

 

When Clarke reaches down to start rushing things along and rub at her clit, Lexa shoves her hand away and starts stroking it for her. She makes delicate circles that instantly have Clarke choking back moans and coming so hard it propels her forward. She moans so loudly she has to bite down on the blankets she shoves into her mouth. She thinks she might black out when Lexa keeps pulling her hips back to bring her down steadily. Clarke is ready to collapse but then Lexa doesn’t stop. She doesn’t stop and, before Clarke knows it, there are fingers back inside of her and she’s coming all over again.

 

She pretty much face-plants into the mattress and she’s glad when Lexa somehow manages to escape from beneath her to crawl up and lay beside her once she’s done. A hand presses comfortingly against Clarke’s back as her hips continue to twitch into the mattress. A chin rests against her shoulder and Clarke leans forward to blindly kiss the taste of herself from Lexa’s mouth. Lexa laughs into her lips.

 

“You’re… you’re a fast learner,” Clarke comments breathlessly.

 

Lexa snorts and presses a kiss to her ear before swiping back sweaty blond curls from Clarke’s neck.

 

Clarke opens up an eye and nods. “I mean it,” she slurs as Lexa presses a kiss to her forehead. “You’re a genius. Fucking top notch work.”

 

Lexa props herself up on an elbow and Clarke practically purrs when she starts stroking her hairline with a delicate thumb. She buries her face into the pillow and Lexa’s smile practically warms up the room. It feels so natural to just turn and curl into her arms. Clarke likes how their naked bodies fit together as Lexa quietly wraps her limbs around her.

 

“I love you,” Clarke whispers.

 

Lexa’s mouth presses against the bridge of her nose. “I love you, too.”

 

Clarke smiles at the reminder and lets her hands press against Lexa’s body.

 

“We had sex,” she says stupidly.

 

A laugh erupts from Lexa’s swollen lips. Her fingers continue to play with the wispy hair at Clarke’s hairline. “We had a lot of sex.”

 

Clarke shamelessly gropes her backside before squeezing her hip. “We could totally have more, though.”

 

Lexa’s brow raises and she nods. “We could,” she agrees. “But I’m starving.”

 

“I know something you could eat,” Clarke whispers without thinking. It earns her an amused but stern look from Lexa. She smirks shyly. “Worth a try.”

 

“Pizza,” Lexa whispers, ignoring her and rolling atop and over her to reach beneath the bed. “Lots of pizza. With garlic bread and maybe chicken.”

 

Clarke’s too preoccupied with the bare breasts in her face to listen to the continuing list of food Lexa’s makes out loud. She hands Clarke her laptop and Clarke looks at it stupidly before Lexa smirks.

 

“You can have me anyway you want,” she whispers and it’s so bold and forward that Clarke’s ready to throw the laptop against the wall and shout fuck it at the universe. She’s seconds away from pinning Lexa to the bed when she rolls out of it and stands before her. Clarke feels like a teenage boy because she’s so fucking naked. Lexa stands there with her hands on her hips and a knowing smile on her face. “You can have me anyway you want… but you’ve got to feed me first. I need sustenance, Griffin. ”

 

She grabs the shirt she’d dragged off Clarke’s body from the floor and her hips sway as she makes her way to the bathroom. She gives Clarke a smirk before she disappears and Clarke collapses into the mattress, already replaying her most recent memories.

 

Lexa’s probably going to kill her, she thinks. But what a way to go.

 

 

Chapter Text

Lexa spends ninety percent of the following day shifting uncomfortably in her seat for a multitude of reasons.

 

Most of them are Clarke.

 

She’d always wondered, growing up, if people felt different after. She wondered if the people around her would know what had happened. She realizes now that the only differences she feels are held within herself. She’s the only person here who knows what happened last night on a boring Wednesday evening. She’s the only person here who knows what happened this morning. A blush covers her cheeks as she realizes that she’d happily shout it from the rooftops because the only difference is the giddy happiness that she feels. The only physical marker that anything has changed is the ridiculous satisfaction that oozes through her body, and the fact that everything from her eyebrows downward hurts in one way or another.

 

She doesn’t think she’s ever walked more awkwardly.

 

“So I just shared the most uncomfortable silence with our neighbors,” Clarke says when she finds her in the library that lunchtime. “They totally know.”

 

Lexa lets her silent pride radiate through her body as she goes through her school notes. “We weren’t exactly quiet, Clarke.”

 

Clarke’s half-smirk and sudden lapse into silence is everything. Lexa watches as her eyes glaze over before she snaps out of her reverie and swallows thickly.

 

“Octavia and Raven totally guessed, too.”

 

“Clarke, you’re wearing a winter scarf inside.”

 

“And whose fault is that?” she says, tugging the fabric away from her neck to reveal the purple bruises that paint Clarke’s neck.

 

Lexa smirks at her across the table and gathers her things back into her bag. Clarke gets up when she gets up and it feels so ridiculously domestic that Clarke reaches for her hand and starts walking with her towards her next class.

 

“There’s a party tonight,” Clarke whispers as they slow to a stop outside the classroom. Lexa instinctively pulls Clarke until their bellies press. “D’you want to go? Your class finishes at four, right?”

 

Lexa breathes unsteadily at the way sure arms fit around her waist and hold her close.

 

“And yours at six?” Clarke nods and Lexa swallows because, now that she’s this close, Lexa can smell her.

 

She can smell her and feel her and those things remind her of how Clarke tastes and moves and it’s a little overwhelming. She feels her entire body become sluggish with it.

 

“We could go to the party,” Lexa whispers coyly, fingers tugging at the buttons of another of her button downs that Clarke stole that morning. Lexa glances up at her over the top of her glasses and smirks at the sudden, knowing change in Clarke’s expression. “Or we could not go.”

 

Clarke swallows and the corners of her mouth quirk up. A hand finds Lexa’s hip and disappears beneath her sweater and the button down underneath. She tugs imperceptibly and Lexa wraps her other arm around Clarke’s shoulders to bring her closer. She’s sure that everyone is watching, but it’s like nobody else exists. She doesn’t care about anything other than the way that Clarke’s eyes are dark and hazy, that she licks her lips and struggles. Lexa loves the effect she has on her. She innocently lets their foreheads rest together and allows her brow to raise in question.

 

“Fuck the party,” Clarke growls out under her breath. “Let’s make our neighbors hate us some more.”

 

Lexa giggles and leans in to kiss her without thinking. It’s innocent and slow and maybe inappropriate considering the amount of people that are congregated around them. Clarke doesn’t seem to care and pulls away with a sigh that has Lexa remembering how carefully she’d found Clarke watching her sleep that morning.

 

“Love you,” she whispers against her lips.

 

Clarke still looks surprised but mumbles it back anyway. She almost doesn’t let Lexa let go when the last class starts filtering out of the classroom.

 

She doesn’t move until Lexa’s safely inside.

 

//

 

They don’t actually have sex.

 

Clarke comes back to their room at six-fifteen to find Lexa wrapped in comfy pajamas, clutching her tummy and pouting. She knows exactly what’s wrong and she coos out an “oh, baby” before collapsing onto the bed and wrapping her up tight.

 

Lexa looks weirdly shocked at the affection and falters in her arms before sinking into them happily. She whimpers against Clarke’s throat, apologizing for things she can’t control, and complaining about hating being a woman. Clarke just falls more in love with her. She pushes Lexa’s hair from her eyes, kisses her forehead, and sighs hopelessly.

 

It takes Lexa a long time to release Clarke long enough that she can get changed and settle in behind her. She offers to warm her up leftover pizza first but Lexa shakes her head and burrows down into the soft nest she’s built herself with every blanket and pillow in the room. Clarke puts on her favorite TV show, rubs her belly until it stops hurting, and nuzzles her neck.

 

Lexa falls asleep early and Clarke gets another overwhelming rush of love at the sight of her. She’s never wanted to do this for anyone else. She’s never wanted to be this close to anyone. She’s never felt this way about anyone, and the rush of emotion she gets doesn’t make sense until she wakes up in the middle of the night with a familiar sensation and an ache in her hips.

 

Lexa turns to her in confusion when she crawls back into bed after going to the bathroom. Clarke kisses her cheek and huffs into the back of her neck.

 

“You okay?” Lexa mumbles sleepily, grabbing Clarke’s hand and pulling it around her waist.

 

Clarke shakes her head and sighs. “We’ve synced up,” is all she says.

 

Lexa turns in her arms and clicks her tongue sympathetically. Their limbs tangle around each other and Clarke loves the comfort of Lexa’s hand pressing against her tummy. It’s so familiar and delicate and she never even knew she needed it.

 

Baby,” Lexa hums against her ear.

 

Clarke chokes back the need to cry and buries herself deeper into Lexa’s warm body.

 

//

 

They’re sprawled over Lexa’s bed doing homework when Clarke asks her what her Spring Break plans are.

 

Lexa looks up from her class reading only to glance pointedly back down at it again until Clarke understands. She gives a roll of her eyes and before Lexa can do anything about it, Clarke’s grabbing a wad of papers from her backpack and presenting her with a packet of information and an airline flight reservation.

 

The sight of it makes Lexa start to panic. She tried to argue with her but Clarke pretty much pins her flailing limbs to the bed and tells her they’re going to Texas whether she likes it or not. She explains how Octavia and Bellamy have family who own a beach house in South Padre Island and that everyone’s going.

 

Lexa feels like she’s intruding until Octavia corners her in the library one day to make sure she’s coming.

 

Lexa does a lot of research and knows that she’s in for a week of parties and alcohol. It makes her weirdly anxious but not so much when she remembers that Clarke will be there.

 

Clarke “helps her pack” by removing half the pants in her suitcase. She drags Lexa into Boston after school one afternoon and takes her to Macy’s so that she can buy a bathing suit. She looks really disappointed when Lexa picks up the boring one-piece and pouts until Lexa looks at the bikinis. Lexa still buys a cute one piece but Clarke buys more bikinis than necessary. Lexa doesn’t realize what she’s done until she packs them inside Lexa’s suitcase instead of her own.

 

She forgets to mention to Clarke that she’s never been on a plane before until they’re at the airport.

 

Everyone is here, ready to fly down together and Lexa takes Clarke’s hand and squeezes it tight. Her feet tap nervously against the floor and she eyes the environment around her. Clarke already has her sunglasses on and she pushes them atop her head when she sees the discomfort on Lexa’s face.

 

“You’ve never been on a plane before,” she states without Lexa having to tell her. Lexa gives her an anxious look but Clarke kisses her cheeks and mumbles soothing words to her until they board. Lexa argues that she doesn’t want the window seat but Clarke makes her. She strokes the back of her knuckles and Lexa’s anxious right up until they lift off the earth. It’s amazing and Lexa only breaks out of her wondered daze when she hears Clarke giggling beside her. Her blue eyes are glassy when Lexa looks at her. She frowns in confusion until Clarke grabs her cheeks and kisses her messily. “Your face,” she whispers in explanation. “Just, your face. You look so happy.”

 

Texas is hotter than she ever knew anywhere could be and she’s glad for the airport air conditioning. Clarke looks at her knowingly when she starts tugging on the fabric of her too-thick jeans as they make the drive to the Blake family’s house. It’s huge and they waste no time getting ready to head to the beach. Clarke drags Lexa to a bedroom at the top of the house and strips her of her clothes before Lexa can argue. She comes quietly three times before Clarke climbs off of her and searches through their suitcases. She tosses one of the bikinis at Lexa and Lexa doesn’t argue. She puts it on before pulling a button down on over the top of it.

 

The boys and Raven all whistle when they see her and Lexa rolls her eyes while Clarke puts a protective arm around her. Their walk to the beach is short but Lexa notices how many college students there are around them as they make their way there.

 

The beach is sure to be a huge party as soon as the sun sets and Lexa enjoys the feel of the warm sand on her feet. Bellamy sets everyone up underneath a huge umbrella and hands them each a beer. There’s music playing everywhere, different songs merging into one, and Clarke tugs her down onto a towel so that they can lie side by side while the boys run into the water. Clarke smothers her in sunscreen and they lay on their fronts next to each other until Octavia tells them that it’s time to party.

 

The entire stretch of the beach turns into a huge party and Clarke keeps a protective arm around her at all times, especially when random guys start talking to her. Clarke drunkenly shuts them all down as Lexa looks on appreciatively. She takes every drink that Clarke offers her and they end up stumbling back to the house before the others to have sex in Octavia’s uncle’s pool. They’re caught by Lincoln and Octavia (who look like they were coming to do the same thing) and disappear upstairs giggling.

 

They wake up late and have brunch before heading back down to the beach to repeat their actions all over again. It’s more fun than Lexa was prepared for, especially when Clarke is unable to keep her hands off of her. She actually feels like part of the group, like she actually has friends, and it’s not until Anya calls her on their fifth day that she notices. It’s also her first dose of reality in too long.

 

“Hey do you want to meet up in the city tomorrow?” Anya asks expectantly and Lexa suddenly feels guilty for not telling the closest thing to a sister she has that she was travelling across the country. Her stomach fills with discomfort and worry and she steadies herself before she answers.

 

“Um,” she says glancing down at Clarke lazily napping on her chest while the others play volleyball. “I’m in Texas.”

 

Anya’s quiet on the other end of the line for a long time. When she speaks, her voice sounds strange. “As in Texas-Texas?”

 

Lexa busies herself stroking Clarke’s hair back from her neck so she can trace lazy patterns there. “I came with my roommate and her friends.”

 

Anya doesn’t say anything in what feels like forever. The line is quiet for a long time before she gives a soft little chuckle and sighs. Lexa hears the disappointment clearer than she hears anything else. “Well have fun, Kid.”

 

She hangs up a few moments later and Lexa toys with the clasp of the necklace around Clarke’s neck for a few moments before she hears someone laugh beside her. She turns to find Raven sitting across from her. She still makes her feel weirdly nervous and anxious and Lexa steels herself for whatever’s coming.

 

“We’re your friends, too,” Raven says after a few moments. Lexa’s mouth drops open to explain when she realizes what Raven’s talking about. She hushes when Raven holds up at hand and points down at the girl lying on her chest. “And she most definitely is not just your roommate.”

 

The words leave Lexa feeling odd for the rest of their trip and it isn’t until the night before their flight back to school that she says anything. Clarke leads her down to the now-quiet beach and kisses her in the dark. They lie on a towel in sand with a blanket thrown over them and stare up at the stars. Clarke tells Lexa about constellations she could never see growing up in New York. She tells her ridiculous stories and Lexa can’t help the words that drive helplessly up her throat.

 

“What are we?” she asks abruptly and Clarke looks at her in shocked confusion.

 

Her eyebrow raises and she lets out a laugh before propping herself up on an elbow and looking down at her.

 

“My friends have referred to you as my girlfriend for a week straight and now you want to know what we are?” she asks around a fond smile.

 

Lexa’s cheeks burn and she’s happy when Clarke leans down to kiss them softly.

 

“Girlfriend can mean anything,” Lexa grumps out uselessly as Clarke starts laughing again.

 

She lowers herself and tugs Lexa until they’re on their sides facing each other. Their hands find each other between their bodies and Clarke sweeps back sweaty curls from Lexa’s face with gentle fingers. She kisses her slowly and purposely until Lexa thinks she can feel every atom of her being.

 

“You’re my girlfriend,” Clarke whispers softly. “But you’re also more than that. You’re so much more than that, you know? It’s hard to explain but for the sake of other people, you’re my girlfriend. Is that okay?”

 

Lexa nods and curls into her. She kisses her gently and loves the way that Clarke’s hands feel. She loves the way that Clarke’s nose strokes against hers and the way that their hands clasp together between the beating of their hearts. Clarke is so much more than her girlfriend, too. There aren’t words for the way that Clarke makes her feel but she’s pretty sure that with each kiss she comes closer to being able to explain.

 

“I wish we could stay here forever,” she whispers unexpectedly. “Just you and me.”

 

Clarke’s eyes flash with something and Lexa moves in closer until their foreheads press together. She closes her eyes and an arm wraps around her waist. Clarke holds her so tightly that, for a moment, Lexa thinks they might transform into one person.

 

Lincoln finds them there sleeping early the next morning.

 

They almost miss their flight.

 

//

 

“Have you asked her yet?” her mom asks on a phone call between classes one day.

 

Clarke really doesn’t have the time for this.

 

“No, mom,” she sighs impatiently, looking for one of her books. “I haven’t. And I won’t. She’s probably going to have her own plans.”

 

Her mom hums in amusement. “Doesn’t mean that she won’t want to change those plans to be with you.”

 

Her mom is probably right but that doesn’t mean that Clarke’s willing to ask her. She still wants Lexa to make her own decisions and choices. She wants her to still be able to do the things that she wants to do. Just because they’re together doesn’t mean that they become one entity.

 

“I don’t want to pressure her,” she says and her mother sounds unamused and annoyed. “She’ll have her own plans, I’m sure of it.”

 

“I want to meet her.”

 

Clarke laughs. “You’ve already met her. You loved her. You called her the sweetest thing ever.”

 

“That was before I knew that you were in love with her.”

 

It sounds so much more serious coming from her mother’s mouth and it makes her ache in this weird way that she doesn’t understand. She knows it’s serious but now that her mom’s said it out loud, she feels strange. She feels overwhelmed. She knows that Lexa would too, because Clarke can tell that the idea of families scares her. She knows that the thought of going to the Blake family’s beach house scared the crap out of her. Lexa doesn’t let Clarke hear when she’s on the phone to Anya. She knows that Lexa becomes weird every time she hears Clarke talking to her mom on the phone.

 

Lexa gets this weird, faraway look sometimes that Clarke doesn’t know how to read. She’s stopped taking her mother’s calls when Lexa’s in the room and it’s not something she knows how to talk about with her. She doesn’t know how to tell Lexa that families aren’t scary because they are. They’re probably one of the scariest things in the world. Clarke’s family fucked her up a long time ago.

 

The only feelings Lexa has left behind from her family are ones of abandonment. Lexa has Anya but Clarke doesn’t understand their relationship. She knows that Lexa respects and cares for Anya but something about them seems strained. Lexa looks concerned every time Anya’s name comes up on her Caller ID.

 

Clarke knows it all unsettles her and that’s why she knows she’ll never do what her mother is asking of her.

 

She wants Clarke to invite Lexa back to California for the summer but how does Clarke convince her to willingly involve herself in something that will make her feel so unsafe?

 

“Mom…” she sighs and she scratches her forehead. “I can’t do that. I just can’t, okay?”

 

Her mother sighs and agrees.

 

It doesn’t stop Clarke from wanting it more than anything else.

 

//

 

“You have a girlfriend?” Anya asks incredulously like such a thing could never happen.

 

Lexa’s been avoiding this conversation since they got back from Texas. It’s been weeks but she still wishes she’d managed to last longer. She’s still not ready.

 

She ignores Anya’s tone. “Her name is Clarke.”

 

“The roommate?” Anya shuffles around at the other end of the line. “You’re gonna have to tell me how that happened.”

 

Lexa swallows thickly and scrubs a hand over her face. “It just kind of did.”

 

Anya hums and Lexa wishes she could tell her how Clarke Griffin walked into her Minorities in Cinema class one day and turned her world completely upside down without Lexa even knowing it. She wishes she could tell her how Clarke wouldn’t stop talking as much as Lexa ignored her. She wishes she could tell Anya—the only person she knows who would truly understand—that she knew in an instant that Clarke was different. Blue eyes looked at Lexa and that was it. Clarke was different and her soul knew it. It terrified her and she heard all the things Anya told her growing up inside her head and knew that she couldn’t let it happen. She knew what Clarke would do, so she scared her away instead.

 

“So, it’s not serious?” Anya asks, and words catch in Lexa’s throat.

 

Because as much as she knows that Anya won’t understand, she also knows that Anya would think she’s crazy because people like Clarke don’t exist. People like Clarke are something that kids like them were taught to believe in to make the dark days better. People like Clarke are what lifers like Lexa and Anya soon learned were nothing but fairy tales to keep them from losing hope.

 

Except they do exist and Lexa has no idea how insane she’d sound trying to explain that to Anya.

 

Anya is nearly thirty and she still lives the same lonely existence that Lexa had always assumed she’d have herself. Anya got herself a good job and a nice apartment and she didn’t depend on anyone to get it. Anya wanted Lexa to do the same, told her that she was risking everything by going to college. She regurgitated the same things that the social workers had done and told her that what Lexa wanted was a pipe dream. Lexa had tried anyway. She’d proved them all wrong, but she’d almost lost Anya in the process. But she knows that Anya loves her, that she’s looking out for her because she wants her to stay safe and to depend on nobody but herself because that’s how they survive.

 

Anya will remind her that the way she feels about Clarke threatens everything.

 

“No, it’s not serious,” she utters instead of telling the truth. It kills her and Anya moves the conversation onto other things that Lexa can barely concentrate on.

 

She still feels unsettled by it when she gets back from class and Clarke finds her, sprawled out on her bed. She curls around Lexa’s body and kisses her like she’s been doing it every day of her existence. She kisses her like she wants to do it every day of the future. It leaves Lexa breathless and, as Clarke starts stripping the clothes from their bodies, she wishes she had the words for this.

 

She wishes she could explain Clarke.

 

//

 

“So I’m thinking maybe we go to Portland,” Octavia says, slipping into the seat across from her in the library. Clarke looks up from her notes to frown. “This summer. Last year we went to Nawlins’ and this year we should go laugh at all the hipsters. What do you think?”

 

Clarke shakes her head noncommittally and looks down at her notebook.

 

“C’mon, Griffin,” Octavia says before she audibly rolls her eyes. “Lemme guess. You’ve gotta ask the girlfriend.”

 

Clarke looks up and frowns. “I don’t, actually,” she says softly. “I don’t know what Lexa’s plans for the summer are yet, but Marcus has a friend who owns a gallery back home who’s running art classes for kids. He’s asked me if I want to help out.”

 

Octavia gives her a look and settles back into her chair. Clarke averts her gaze back down to her notebook when Octavia’s glare starts making her feel uncomfortable.

 

“Clarke, we’ve literally got like three weeks left of semester,” she states in disbelief.

 

Clarke looks up at her and nods. “Yep.”

 

“Three weeks and you haven’t talked to Lexa about what you’re both going to be doing this summer?” Octavia says softly. “You’ve made no plans to how you’re going to see each other and spend time together?”

 

“Do I need to?”

 

Octavia laughs. “Clarke, Lincoln and I have had our summer plans pretty much set in stone since January when he got his internship. Are you really just going to wave goodbye to Lexa on the last day of semester and wing it?”

 

Clarke shifts uncomfortably in her chair and opens her mouth to speak before shaking her head.

 

“Lexa has no plans,” Octavia reminds her. “She was telling us last weekend how she wishes she could afford to travel or something.” Octavia leans forward and tries to catch her gaze. “Has this got something to do with your mom? Are things with her bad again?” she asks. “Does Lexa not want to meet her? Or is it your dad or—”

 

Clarke looks up at her in annoyance and shakes her head. “Octavia. Leave it alone.”

 

“Clarke.”

 

She shakes her head and feels the same panic she gets when she speaks to her mom rising up her chest. “Leave it alone. It’s fine.”

 

Octavia stares at her for a long while before scoffing and walking away.

 

Once she’s gone, Clarke buries her face in her hands.

 

She doesn’t know what to do.

 

//

 

The closer the end of semester gets, the clearer it becomes what Lexa’s waiting for.

 

Anya calls her every other day asking her if she knows what her summer plans are and if she needs picking up but Lexa tells her she doesn’t know every single time. She’s pretty sure that Anya’s getting annoyed but she doesn’t care. She just needs to wait a little longer before she makes her choice.

 

She only has eighteen days left.

 

She loves how being preoccupied with thoughts of Clarke somehow makes her more focused on schoolwork. She feels like she could kick the asses of all her finals with her eyes closed. She’s pretty sure that all the people around her know that too because she works like a demon. She’ll pretty much do anything to take her mind off the fact that her girlfriend hasn’t talked to her about summer plans yet.

 

“Lexa,” Raven says flopping down into the chair beside her in Lexa’s quiet, secret corner of the Library. Octavia trails behind her and drops into the seat opposite. “Can you try and convince Clarke that coming to Portland with us for the weekend is a good idea?”

 

Lexa frowns. “This weekend?”

 

Raven looks at her like she’s a dumbass. It’s not unfamiliar and Lexa’s becoming accustomed to the fondness in it. “No,” she says. “The first weekend of summer, before Clarke heads back to Cali.”

 

It’s the first that Lexa’s heard of Clarke heading back to California this summer and she tries not to let that show on her face as she attempts to find something to say. Octavia and Raven both study her carefully.

 

“You don’t have plans with her that weekend, do you?” Raven asks when she just keeps staring at them.

 

It’s Octavia that takes pity on her and states the obvious.

 

“You didn’t know about California, did you?”

 

Lexa plasters on a smile as she quickly shakes her head. Her eyes start to water and her skin feels kind of prickly. She recaps her pen before leaning back in her chair and scrubbing her hands over her face.

 

“Parents stuff?” Raven frowns over to Octavia who gives an almost imperceptible nod.

 

“I think so,” she whispers. She turns to Lexa when those words catch her attention. “Clarke was weird when I talked to her about it. She probably doesn’t want you to meet her family when yours is probably all perfect and shit…”

 

Lexa does a double take. The words sink in her gut and laughs mirthlessly as a million things go through her head. “Did Clarke tell you that?”

 

Octavia frowns. “What?”

 

“That my family is perfect?”

 

Octavia’s mouth drops open and she looks trapped for a second before shaking her head. “No, I just… I just assumed because…”

 

For the first time in her life, Lexa ignores the ache in her chest and pushes forward. Usually she’d shrug this moment off, tell Octavia to mind her own business, but Octavia is her friend. Raven is her friend. She thinks, one day, she’ll be able to trust them and the first step to doing that is being honest.

 

“Octavia,” she sighs as bravely as she can. Her eyes close and she shifts uncomfortably in her seat. “I don’t have a family. I grew up in the system.”

 

Raven’s face falls and softens, while Octavia just looks shocked and guilty. Lexa’s surprised when Octavia doesn’t even leave a beat before she reaches over and squeezes her hand.

 

“I didn’t—” she starts before her face sets in recognition and she lowers her tone. “Does Clarke know?” Lexa gives her a soft nod and before she knows it Octavia’s on her feet and heading for the exit. “That dumbass!”

 

Lexa turns to Raven in confusion. “Was it something I said?”

 

Raven slumps back into her chair and folds her arms over themselves. She rolls her eyes and laughs and Lexa doesn’t understand until Raven sighs.

 

“Your girlfriend’s an overprotective dumbass,” is all she has to say and Lexa’s still not entirely sure what’s going on.

 

She’s quiet for a long time and it almost becomes uncomfortable until Lexa feels Raven kick the leg of her chair.

 

“You should talk about yourself more,” she says shyly and shrugs. “It’s nice.”

 

Lexa grins.

 

 

//

 

“Tell me that you not asking Lexa to come home with you doesn’t have anything to do with her not having a family,” Octavia demands as she comes into Clarke’s room like an angry elephant.

 

Clarke frowns at her words. “Who told you—”

 

She did!” Octavia shouts. “Now tell me the truth!”

 

It takes her a while but soon Clarke grits her jaw and sighs reluctantly. The words she’s been holding inside of herself for weeks break free and she hates every single one of them.

 

“People scare her,” she explains. “Families scare her. They scare her and I don’t want her to feel obligated to like… open herself up to a summer of discomfort because of me. She should be able to do what she wants to do.”

 

Octavia stares at her for a really long time before she laughs right in her face. She laughs at her until her face falls and she slaps Clarke around the head.

 

“Dumbass!” she shouts and Clarke’s too shocked to do anything other than cower. “You don’t want to scare her but you’re going abandon her?! Are you a fucking MORON?!”

 

“I’m not…” Clarke tries to argue.

 

“Dumbass!” Octavia shouts in her face. “You haven’t even told her about California! Are you trying to scare her?! What the fuck possessed you to think that doing this was a better idea than just giving her a fucking choice, Griffin?”

 

Clarke opens her mouth to argue but then frowns when she realizes that Octavia’s right.

 

“But, by all means,” Octavia scoffs. “Abandon the girl who has probably spent her whole life being left by everyone she knows. What do I know?”

 

She gives Clarke a swift flick to the forehead and moves towards the door.

 

“She loves you, Clarke,” she says, softer now. “She loves you. Anyone can see that she loves you. And—honestly, Griffin—she’s way too good for a dumbass like you. She’s totally smart and funny and could probably end up dating a lawyer or a senator or something but she wants you. You should probably make a conscious effort to not fuck it up. She’s good for you.”

 

Clarke smirks at her friend’s words, and is about to mention how Octavia’s standing up for the same person she used to believe was a know-it-all Robot, before she thinks better of it and nods instead.

 

“I know,” she whispers.

 

Octavia rolls her eyes before smiling. “She’s in the library.”

 

Clarke bites her lip and reaches for her bag.

 

//

 

Anya calls her again shortly after Raven leaves to go find one of her “special friends”.

 

Lexa knows that the only “special friend” Raven has is Bellamy. It wasn’t hard to figure out after spending enough time with them. She’s pretty sure that both Octavia and Clarke know but there’s no way she’s opening up that can of worms. God knows what would happen.

 

“Any news on what your summer plans are yet?” Anya asks and she sounds rushed.

 

Lexa swallows and what Raven said still weighs heavy on her mind. She can’t help but think that maybe she doesn’t need to talk more about herself but more about everyone else. She needs to tell more people about her mom, and Anya, and the little brother she’s desperate to meet. She needs to tell more people about Clarke. She needs to tell Clarke about Clarke and all about how she feels about her.

 

“I have no idea yet,” she whispers.

 

Anya scoffs and lets out an annoyed laugh. “Lexa, I need to know if you’re going to need picking up because I have work and schedules and—”

 

“I’m waiting to see if Clarke will invite me home with her,” she admits quietly. Anya’s words trail off and her apparent anger disappears over the line as Lexa’s panic rises up instead. “I’m waiting to see if she wants me to meet her mom and just…”

 

Anya sighs. “Lexa, you said it isn’t serious,” she mumbles and Lexa can hear the disappointment. “What are you doing?”

 

Lexa tries to fight the usual shame and guilt she would normally feel at disappointing the only person who stuck around this long. She always reminds herself that Anya’s been looking out for her longer than her own mother ever bothered to. She owes Anya a lot but she owes herself more. She owes herself a chance to actually become part of something. She owes herself a chance to see if she can actually forge something real.

 

Clarke’s the most real thing she’s ever had.

 

“I lied,” she whispers softly and swallows. “It’s serious. It’s completely serious. It’s the most serious thing I’ve ever had, Anya. She’s—she’s so damn beautiful and kind and—” The tears come quicker than she expected. “She’s smart but she knows what she wants. She was a Biology major when I first met her but she changed to Art History because that’s what she loves. She doodles on napkins and she draws landscapes on my back with her fingers when she thinks I’m sleeping. I can always feel her tracing out the shapes of trees.”

 

When Lexa laughs, Anya sighs, and it forces her to power through.

 

“She has an Ansel Adams picture as her phone background and her camera roll is full of pictures of trees and—and of me while I’m sleeping…” Her voice is cracked and timid but she keeps going anyway. “She hates reading and documentaries and people being mad at her. She loves warm, milky coffee and ridiculously sugary sodas. And rum. She fucking loves rum and morning sex and cuddling.”

 

“Lexa…”

 

Lexa closes her eyes and grits her jaw because she needs to get this out. “I’m pretty sure that she’d happily spend the rest of her life napping and eating pizza. She picks the weirdest toppings too. And she never wears pants unless she has to but—but—”

 

She scrubs her hands over her face and lets her feet anxious tap the floor.

 

“Anya, I love her,” she explains at last. It feels good to tell someone who isn’t the girl in question. “I’m absolutely in love with her and maybe you think that’s naïve of me. Maybe you think that I’m being stupid but I will absolutely risk her making a fool out of me, just for the chance that she might just love me instead. And I think she will because I spent so long trying to scare her away and she just… nothing worked and she took care of me instead. And it’s been… three months, Anya. It’s been three months and she still kisses me awake every morning. And maybe one day she’ll stop but I don’t care. I really don’t care. It hurts more to fight it and be lonely.”

 

Anya is quiet for a long time before she lets out a sigh. Except it’s soft and giving and she chuckles at the end.

 

“Lexa, I’ve been dating the same guy for three years,” she admits softly.

 

Lexa almost falls off her chair in surprise. “What?”

 

Anya giggles. “I didn’t know how to tell you,” she whispers. “I spent so many years telling you to keep yourself safe and to trust no one… that love wasn’t worth it. That it kills us. I didn’t know how to tell you how wrong I was. I always get everything so wrong.” She sighs. “I’m happy for you, Kid. I really am. And I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s okay,” Lexa smiles. “Thanks.”

 

“I have to go,” she chuckles. “Call me soon?”

 

“Yeah,” Lexa sighs and for the first time, she knows that she will.

 

Anya hangs up and Lexa can’t stop the smile that works its way across her face. She smiles until something moves out the corner of her eye and she spins around to find messy blonde hair and familiar, glassy blue eyes looking back at her. Clarke looks at her so softly that Lexa knows right away that she probably heard more than Lexa ever wanted her to. She knows Clarke did when she doesn’t say anything and just steps up behind her, tilting her head backwards until she can kiss her deeply.

 

“What else do I like?” she murmurs against Lexa’s mouth.

 

Lexa sucks the taste of Clarke from her lips and sighs.

 

“Me,” is all she can think to whisper.

 

Clarke gives her a wide, loving smile before she starts stroking Lexa’s cheeks.

 

“No,” she hums as she nudges their noses together. “I love you.”

 

Lexa whispers the words back and Clarke moves closer when she tugs on her elbow. Lexa pulls her into her lap and Clarke’s arms wrap around her shoulders to hold her tight.

 

“I know this might be a little late notice,” she whispers as Lexa presses soft kisses against her cheeks. “But do you think you’d like to spend the summer with me in California?”

 

She looks nervous and Lexa keeps kissing her face as she talks.

 

“I’m going to teach kids how to paint but we could also spend some time on the beach and like, you can read books and stuff.” She tangles her hand in Lexa’s hair and Lexa smiles that she’s using books as a way to convince her. She wishes Clarke knew that she doesn’t need any convincing at all but she lets her speak anyway. “I could show you what proper Mexican food tastes like, and you can meet my mom for real. Maybe—maybe visit my dad with me, too. I could tell you all about him.”

 

Lexa drags her in for a messy kiss that she struggles to keep going because she’s smiling too much. Clarke pulls back and giggles at her, thumb sweeping over her bottom lip and the shape of grin. She looks at Lexa expectantly and, when Lexa nods, she just giggles harder.

 

“Yeah?”

 

Lexa nods and bites her lip. “Yeah. Yeah, Clarke.”

 

“You’re sure? You don’t have to—”

 

Lexa’s hand finds the back of her neck and she hushes her with a long, deep kiss. Clarke looks dazed and beautiful when they pull back. She clutches at Lexa’s shirt and her shoulders and smiles softly when Lexa pushes the hair from her eyes.

 

“I want to be where you are,” Lexa tells her. “Always.”

 

Clarke traces the outline of the tattoo at the back of her neck.

 

“Me too,” she whispers. “Me too.”

 

//

 

They’ve been in Venice Beach for a week and a half when Lexa wakes her up in the middle of the night and takes her by the hand.

 

Clarke still feels shaky because that morning they’d visited her father’s grave. Lexa had held her hand the entire time but Clarke had been on the edge of sobbing since she’d made Clarke stop at a florist so she could buy a bunch of white peonies. She’d waited for Clarke to give her the okay before she’d laid them on the ground and that’s all it had taken before Clarke was sobbing. She’d sat on the ground before him and Lexa had wrapped her arms and her legs around her as she listened to Clarke talk about her dad and her mom and all the shit that had happened after.

 

She’d told Lexa how her dad would have loved her because she’s smart and almost as nerdy as he was. Lexa had giggled when she’d told her they would have been crossword buddies.

 

“I am so in love with you,” she’d whispered against Lexa’s cheek. Everything had gone quiet and Lexa did nothing more than kiss her in response.

 

Clarke had napped most of the afternoon, falling asleep and waking up to the feel of Lexa stroking the back of her neck, even as she slept herself. Clarke was yet again struck with the thought that she didn’t belong anywhere that wasn’t with Lexa, that she’d go anywhere Lexa went.

 

That’s why she lets Lexa lead her all the way down to the beach. She’s bleary eyed but she helps Lexa to lay down one blanket before they curl together atop it and pull another over them like they had in Texas. Lexa stares up at the night sky, at the hundreds of stars, and says nothing for a long time.

 

Clarke’s sure that this is all they’re going to do until Lexa turns to her and nuzzles her head softly into her shoulder.

 

“Do you believe in soulmates?” she whispers and Clarke barely hears her over the roar of the ocean before them.

 

She turns her head to the side and nods so that she knows Lexa can feel it.

 

Lexa grabs desperately at her bicep and Clarke cups her elbow to anchor her and remind her that she’s safe. She’s sure that she feels Lexa’s breath hitch against her neck and she turns to soothe her with forehead kisses. Her other arm wraps around Lexa’s shoulders and she tangles her fingers in Lexa’s curls.

 

“I think you’re mine,” Lexa whimpers brokenly and Clarke doesn’t understand until she shuffles down to her eye level. Lexa’s green eyes are bright with tears and happiness but also fear. She shakes her head and Clarke frowns. “I think you’re my soulmate.”

 

Clarke lets all the breath get sucked out of her and it feels like getting caught on a wave and being pulled under.

 

“Before I met you…” Lexa continues and Clarke can do little more than listen. “Before I met you, it felt like I was just shouting into a void, like I was waiting for the universe to swallow me up.” Clarke frowns and Lexa seems to relax when they turn on their sides to face each other. “Wherever I went, it felt like I was screaming at the top of my lungs, waiting for someone to notice… to pay attention… to just save me.”

 

She smiles and Clarke shuffles closer until their noses press together.

 

“And then you showed up, and it felt like you dropped out of the sky,” she giggles and her fingers find Clarke’s cheek. “You turned around one day and looked at me and everything inside of me went quiet. You looked at me and it was like my heart and my mind and my entire soul was at peace. I saw you and I knew who you really were and it terrified me for so long because I didn’t think I’d ever find you. I didn’t want to give you that power but it was like the universe wanted me to. It wanted me to love you and it did everything to make sure that I did.”

 

Tears rush down her cheeks and Clarke doesn’t know what to do because she doesn’t think she’s ever seen Lexa cry before. She wipes her fingers over Lexa’s cheeks and shakes her head because she needs to see her smile again.

 

“And I tried to fight all of it,” Lexa chokes. “I wanted to feel safe but the truth is that the first time I ever felt safe in my entire life is when you looked at me and said—and said—‘Hi, my name’s Clarke—’”

 

“‘I love your shirt’.” Clarke strokes her hair back from her face. “‘Do you mind if I sit here?’”

 

Lexa’s eyes widen. “You remember.”

 

Clarke smiles. “Of course I remember, I replayed that moment over in my head for weeks once you shot me down wondering what I’d done wrong.”

 

Lexa’s bottom lip trembles. “I was so scared.”

 

Clarke strokes her thumb over it until it stops. “You didn’t need to be,” she whispers. “I felt it, too. I knew it, too. I fought it, too. It doesn’t change the fact that I loved you from the minute I met you, that the scowls you gave me that first year were always the highlight of my day.”

 

Lexa laughs and Clarke feels her entire soul relax at the sound.

 

“I wish I could go back, sometimes,” Lexa soon softens and she sighs. “I wish I’d never been scared. Because then I never would have been mean enough to make you go back to your friends and loathe me enough to make them tease me.” Clarke clicks her tongue and shakes her head but Lexa smiles coyly. “I used to plan what I would have said, you know?”

 

Clarke smiles. “And what would you have said?”

 

Lexa bites her lip. “Well, I would have smiled. I wanted to smile. I wanted to tell you that I got my shirt from a thrift store in Williamsburg.” Clarke grins and strokes her cheek. “I would have told you that my favorite movie is Some Like It Hot, with Marilyn Monroe.”

 

Clarke nods. “I know that.”

 

Lexa shifts closer at the reminder. Clarke knows everything now. It makes everything less scary.

 

“I would have told you thank you when you told me I had pretty eyes,” Lexa whispers around a shy smile. “Remembering you saying that made me smile for weeks.” Clarke pushes Lexa’s hair back from her face and her tongue pokes through her teeth as she smiles. She sobers when Lexa’s smile slowly falls into one of reverence and respect. “I would have never made you feel bad that you were taking classes outside of your chosen area of study. I would have told you that I actually thought it was awesome that you wanted to take the class because you were actually interested in it. A lot of people in that class were only there because they were made to be there, but you weren’t. You were interested and I would never have belittled that if I’d have known what came after.”

 

Clarke sweeps her thumb over Lexa’s cheek and looks at her carefully. She looks so small.

 

“I would have told you that I would have loved to have gone to that party with you, but only if we could have gone out for coffee first,” she whispers and there’s a half-smile on her face. “I wanted to talk to you more about how you think Alfred Hitchcock sucks.”

 

Clarke snorts. “He does suck. He really sucks.”

 

Lexa eliminates all the space between them with a sigh and leans in until their lips are practically touching. After all these months, Clarke’s breath still hitches when they’re this close.

 

“I think I would have liked to kiss you, too,” she whispers, seconds before she does just that. It’s quick and barely a peck but when she pulls back, Clarke is overwhelmed and breathless.

 

She clutches at Lexa and keeps her close, shakes her head at her words, and hates the idea of things happening that way. She loves the way they fell in love like they did. She loves the way that they got to see every single broken and beautiful piece of each other and got to put each other back together stronger. She loves that they hurt each other and still managed to fall in love anyway.

 

She feels that love so strongly that she frowns and wraps herself around this person who she never wants to be without.

 

“But it had to happen like this,” she whispers and Lexa looks at her curiously. “We had to hurt each other. We had to call each other out and we had to do everything this way or it wouldn’t be like this. If you’d never said what you did that day, I probably would still have been a bio major and dropped out. I probably would have treated you like I treated everyone else. I would have never earned your trust and everything would have gone wrong. It wouldn’t have worked. Everything had to happen this way or we wouldn’t be here right now.”

 

Lexa holds her face and presses their foreheads together.

“You saved me, Lexa,” Clarke whispers. “You put everything into perspective. You made everything worth it.”

 

Lexa sighs. “So did you.”

 

Clarke smiles and when they kiss, it feels like more. It feels better and whole and Clarke pulls away knowing, somehow, that she’ll be kissing Lexa like this for the rest of her days. This unexpected person in her arms is the other half of her entire life.

 

Clarke smiles and they kiss until the sun starts rising over the horizon. They kiss until it starts to warm their cheeks and the first signs of morning start to sound around them. Clarke leads her all the way back to the house, slipping quietly past Rosa, her mother, and Marcus, until they fall back into the nest that’s become Clarke’s bed.

 

“Thank you for loving me,” Lexa whispers as they curl around each other beneath the covers. “Thank you for seeing me.”

 

Clarke’s hands find her face and she cups it in her palms as she brings it closer. Lexa is so sleepy and at peace and it makes her happy. It makes her calm and she knows that she needs nothing more than this to be content.

 

“You’re so very welcome,” she whispers against Lexa’s brow.

 

Lexa sighs in exhaustion. Clarke drifts off to sleep to the sound of her sure, steady breathing.

 

//

 

A few weeks later, Clarke receives her new residency assignment.

 

Lexa does, too.

 

They look at their single room designations and can’t help but feel sad and disappointed and just a little bit sentimental.

 

Clarke kisses Lexa’s forehead and reaches for the phone.

 

It doesn’t take much persuading for the university to let them switch to a double.

 

//

 

A few weeks after that, they drive back to school together in Clarke’s car.

 

It’s full of Lexa’s books, empty In-N-Out bags, crappy pop music mixes, and the combined bags of all their things.

 

Lexa goes to the residency office to get their keys and, when she bounds happily back to the car, Clarke frowns at her in amusement.

 

“You’ll never guess what?” she says and then shoves the room assignment notice under Clarke’s nose.

 

Clarke looks at it and frowns for a moment before she realizes what she’s looking at.

 

“Hey, that’s our old room,” she says before smirking up at Lexa.

 

Lexa smirks.

 

“The universe loves us.”

 

Clarke kisses her against the hood of the car and can’t help but agree.

 

//

 

The get back to their room and unpack their things and it feels like nothing’s changed.

 

Lexa falls into her nest of pillows and reaches up to habitually stroke the back of Clarke’s neck when she falls in beside her.

 

It feels like the summer never happened. It feels like no time has passed at all and that they didn’t just spend the last three months teaching kids how to paint during the day and quietly making love in Clarke’s king bed every night. If they closed their eyes, they could pretend it was still May.

 

Clarke presses a kiss to Lexa’s neck and Lexa feels her words mumbled against her skin.

 

“Home,” she whispers.

 

Lexa sighs. “Yeah.”

 

In each other’s arms, they always will be.