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A Lover Of The Light

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LA, two days ago:

Elyza tosses and turns fitfully in her sleep. It's been longer than she can remember since she's had a dreamless sleep, or rather, a sleep without nightmares. All she knows is that it’s been too long. For many, many years it was nightmares of her childhood, losing person after person, never being able to save them from unforeseen circumstances, and struggling to survive life's curveballs. There’s been too many nights spent in nightmares and days spent in an equally terrifying reality.

Lately, her nightmares are a little more extravagant, more detailed. More shocking to her system, more real than her previous ones - even though she's never lived these ones. For some reason they resonate, they leave her startled and struggling to overcome the emotions that wrack her when she wakes. She’s experienced them in fleeting images, in bits and pieces but tonight, something is different.

Tonight they are more detailed, more impacting, toying with her emotions more than ever before and tonight, image after image, are all interrupted by the light and heat of flames.

Tonight, Elyza experiences pieces of lives she does not know, yet somehow feel familiar.

It started with a quaint, quiet street. 

And her in a body that is not her own.

She's young. And when she looks around she sees sunflowers, picket fences, a forest and river in the distance. When she looks ahead she sees a girl, about her age with beautiful brown hair.

Before she can get the girl to turn around the flames shift and she changes. She's in the body of an older woman. The girl has grown into a strong and confident young woman. Elyza experiences quick glimpses and intense emotions surrounding a brunette she never sees the face of. 

But she knows the name, as if she's said it a million times, as if she's loved her for over a hundred years.

Alex.

She experiences young love rapidly blossom into undying devotion. It’s all encompassing, powerful and deep.

She graduates, Doctor of medicine, is proposed to and marries Alex. Gladly. A thousand times over if she had to. And still she sees no face.

Yet, she knows she's the most beautiful woman in this world, or any world. The connection is soul deep, never superficial, intensely interwoven into the deepest parts of her being.

She is the happiest she’s ever been.

And then she's sick, so sick she's dying, her body wracked with illness and disease. Her wife's salty tears on her own cheek as she holds her. She's trying to be so strong, to hold them both together.

This Elyza, the true Elyza, connects with that unwavering need to be strong for the ones she loves.

But in this dream, though she never hears it, she knows her name is Claire.

Claire's life rapidly flits by. Her wife, the scientist saves her and they return home. They share experiences, they work for a common goal and do it all with loving care side by side. Soon, they feel like they are saving the world.

But when Elyza follows the dream, when she descends into the dark and mysterious insides of a vault, when it depicts the start of an outbreak from years and years ago she knows that is not the case.

She recognizes pain and heartbreak, she knows what is coming, doesn't want to see it, and cannot escape it. She watches a rocket fly into the sky before she is underground once more, alone, devastated and punching in a code.

Elyza learns what it feels like to end the world and then Elyza learns what it feels like to enter the flames.

It's hot, it burns, and her skin simultaneously melts but remains intact. She's afraid, deathly afraid, and so unbelievably heartbroken she can almost feel it physically shattering into pieces.

Her physical body, sweat covered and heaving in rapid breaths, thrashes about. A small, now semi-conscious, part of her brain wonders if you really can die from a broken-heart. Wonders how, if she were Claire, would she overcome pain such as this.

And then a voice reaches out to her, calming and familiar. She’s heard it before in her dreams of her past, calming her, giving her comfort and strength. Promising that someday, all her pain, her misery and heartache would end. Promising that someday she’d find a life worth living instead of merely surviving.

‘Don't be afraid, Elyza.’ 

And for a brief second, she listens.

But when the flames put her in a new body and the scene changes, Elyza, pushes back against the voice, the flames and the images that come flooding. She feels like she can’t take anymore. A part of her begs the voice to stop, to stop pulling her to flame and pain. It doesn’t listen, doesn’t let her go.

She sees a man she’s never seen before, blonde hair and blue piercing eyes reaching into her soul through their gaze, the connection is so intensely strong that she waivers. A father, a good man, one that doesn’t deserve this fate; she senses what's coming, feels the desperation as her body is clutched and held back by strong motherly arms.

And then she watches horrified as the man is sucked into space.

Floated; the air sucked from his lungs never to be returned. It's too much for her to take. It feels like losing her father all over again, her own memories of him filtering in, layering over the current image.

She screams in agony as her already broken heart splinters again. She fights back, her body twists and turns and her mind begins to build walls to fight against the heat of the flames and the pain of her heart. She doesn't want to see anymore, feel anymore, she can't. She’s not strong enough to stay and experience this anymore, but she is strong enough to fight back.

And, she thinks, fuck that voice; she's not afraid, she's fucking terrified.

Her eyes fly open; she bolts forward, hands clutching both gun and blade as she screams. Rapidly breathing, Elyza's eyes dart around the dark room for threats and finding none. She drops her weapons. Her candle has gone out, she rushes forward out of the bed, finds her lighter and sparks the wick.

For someone who ran from the flames in her dreams, she finds she needs the comfort of the flame in reality.

When the candles light flickers in the room Elyza's breathing has not calmed, her nightclothes stick to her skin and Phoenix practically breaks down the door machete raised in a panic.

"Elyza?" her eyes find her sisters and she drops her blade.

She can't answer, she finds she hyperventilating, she barely feels Phoenix’s arms encircle her. They spend the remainder of the night huddled together on the floor, Phoenix stroking her damp, matted hair and Elyza clutching to her so strongly there will be bruises.

Neither of them speak until dawn.

Elyza doesn’t mention that the voice followed her out of her nightmare.

 


 

Polis, Two days ago:

Weakness. 

Loss. Grief. Pain...

Love.

This is what this is; this display of a broken woman, of a fractured mind, a tired soul and a bleeding heart.

This is what Aden saw when he quietly enters the throne room to check on Lexa like he told Clarke he would.

What he sees shakes him to his core, but what it makes him feel is confusing. A part of him wants to join her, fall to his knees and cry for his family. Another part of him wants to be strong, wants to be able to pick Lexa up, dust her off and make her see that this is not the end.

He hears her quiet whispers, mumbled and gruff, unlike Lexa at all; the only words he makes out are suffering, tired and weakness.

He swallows hard and blinks at the tears. He feels his heart swell and energy return when he hears the need and desperation in Lexa's voice.

When he hears that weakness.

It's a weakness so deeply rooted in the heart it becomes strength, and though Lexa does not feel that way now, one day, it will prove itself to her again. It’s a lesson we often must learn time and time again. It’s a lesson that Aden is becoming more and more familiar with.

"Gone..." He hears her whisper break and crack this time. He's never heard or seen her look so small, he wants to help, but he doesn't know what to do.

He wishes Kai was here, she'd know without thinking. She's much like Clarke in that way, where Aden is more like Lexa, more calculated, more head than heart at times. Regardless, he finds his body moving closer.

"...I imagine the pulse, can almost feel it, yet I know it is a fool’s hope," she continues to herself, he assumes.

The boy slowly moves, careful to avoid looking at or stepping in the blood remaining in the room. The bodies, he avoids even more so.

He's strong, a boy on the cusp of manhood, but he is not strong enough for that.

"...Heda?" He calls hesitantly a few feet from her, attempting to reach the part of Lexa he has seen overcome such pain time and time again.

He sees her close her eyes sadly, fingertips still resting on the pulse of the girl, the one Lexa believes she's imagining. A small sad smile twitches at Lexa lips when she hears the boy call out her given name.

And Aden knows Heda is not in reach. Not right now.

"Lexa,” he tries again.

"I can hear you as if you remain Aden.” She says it so quietly that Aden strains his ears to hear her. “I am glad you have not moved on yet..." She sniffs as a tear escapes, "I am so sorry...I never meant for this to happen… This shouldn't have happened."

No longer able to remain at this distance when he hears her words, Aden rushes closer, "Lexa. I am right here."

She still does not open her eyes. He chokes on his own tears, "Lexa! Ai laik hir!" I am here! He can do nothing to avoid the desperation that finds its way into his tone.

He watches multiple fresh tears roll down her cheeks from closed eyelids, he falters no longer; Aden moves instinctively, following his heart, he puts his hands on her cheeks forcing her to raise her chin.

"Ai laik hir, Lexa! Situ is here! We live!" The despair in his voice is evident once more. He doesn't care. Let this weakness show, let it join hers; let it make them both strong again.

"I can almost feel your touch, you were always such a gentle boy. One with the mind and heart of a leader..." She says quietly leaning into his palms, "I know when I open my eyes I will see you. I will see you because I want to believe. Want you to be true. But I know I will see you like I see them all... fresh ghosts of my past, standing tall despite my failure to protect you." She sobs again and he wipes his thumbs against the tears, silently begging her to open her eyes. "Ghosts of my legacy…" she adds in a chokes breath.

"Lexa!" He shouts out, moving his hands to her shoulders and shaking lightly. "Snap out of it! Open your eyes! See!"

She awkwardly sucks on air through another sob and slowly opens her eyes.  Aden stands and steps back abruptly, gasping as he moves, like he was burned.

Lexa's vibrant greens are dark and murky. Where once they held the forest of evergreens, now replaced with swampy waters as deep as the ocean. She looks at him and he can feel her gaze going right through him, as if he really were a ghost.

It's so believable, so haunting, that Aden finds himself gripping at his body making sure he is still there. 

Alive. Standing tall, not in the face Lexa’s perceived failure, but because of her.

Standing tall, turning weakness into strength, because of her lessons, her guidance, her heart. Her love.

But he shakes his head absently at a total loss of what to do.  He stands there for what feels like days. Aden crying silently as Lexa continues to stare right through him. 

And when a whole new wave of devastation wracks Lexa's body Aden flies into action; reaching the point of both frustration and devastation, he palms her cheeks forcing her to raise her head again, "Lexa! Ai laik hir! Ai gonplei ste nou odon” he slaps her in hopes to snap the shock from her system, “en neit ste yun!” My fight is not over and neither is yours!

Just as he finishes his sentence Octavia enters, shock written all over her face. Aden drops his hands, as well as his eyes, ashamedly. Lexa reaches up to rub the now red cheek, smearing more of the blood and war paint as she does so, blinking rapidly through the fog in her mind.

Octavia frowns slightly and comes beside him, putting a hand on his shoulder, "Hey, don't beat yourself up over it, look, it worked..."

He follows her gaze back to Lexa who is now staring at him fully, shock and awe on her face, but finally looking at him instead of through him.

"Aden?"

He drops to his knees and envelops her over situ in her lap, "Ai laik hir, Lexa. Ste yuj. Situ is here as well. Oso gonplei ste nou odon." Our fight is not over.

Lexa looks over his should as she pulls him in and grips him with one arm, the other remaining on Situ. She glances at Octavia who nods to echo his statements, her eyes filled with her own grief and immense worry. The look Lexa doesn’t understand, not fully. She has no idea that on top of the weight of what occurred in this very room and city, Raven and Clarke are walking into the proverbial bear’s den in search of her daughter and the maniac that caused such heartache.

Aden pulls back and Lexa focuses on Situ's pulse, eyes wide and breath tight in her chest. "She really lives... so that means…" and this time she turns her head to the right, gaze falling right above the body of Peyton as her voice trails off.

And that is the moment everyone in the room knew Lexa was seeing things that were not there. 

She really was seeing ghosts.

An audible breath is sucked in the next second that terrifies the bystanders.

The whiplash they experience next is astounding. Lexa rises fluidly with Situ in her arms. She hands her to Octavia gingerly with a nod, "get her to the healers," her hand lingers just above the girls heart, just for a moment. Then she's turning, taking a final glance at Aden before she hides her face and leaves the room.

"Where is she going?" Octavia asks aloud, confusion on her face and unconscious girl held bridal style in her arms.

"Up." Aden answers solemnly, a sense of his own failure washing over him. "Here, I'll take her down. You go to Lexa. Maybe you can..." He trails off unable to finish, at a loss for what anyone but Clarke could do, and just moves his body instead. He hopes she’s having better luck in search of Kai.

He takes Situ from Octavia and the woman looks at him sympathetically as he walks away. 

"Aden," she stops him at the door, "you did great back there. I know it doesn't feel like it right now, I know this all feels hopeless, but you are strong, stronger than you know, and we need you to remain that way." She looks at him both tenderly as a brother and as sternly as a mentor.

He nods slowly; he pauses before leaving matching her gaze...

"Things are not hopeless, we have all the strength we need, and we just need to find it again." He looks at her with a tilt to his head for a few seconds, "you're stronger than you know too, sis," sister, he adds quietly.

As he leaves on those words, Octavia is taken aback once more by the boy’s resilience.

In the face of everything tonight, she barely feels like she's holding it together, how he's doing it she will never know and be forever grateful for it nonetheless.

She silently prays to the spirits that Clarke brings Kai home safely, because she knows if she does not, that loss on top of the rest will make them all crumble to ash.


 

Lexa climbs the ladder to the roof despite her muscles protests. She pushes through the pain, the desire for air she can't find within the tower driving her onwards.

She can feel her ghosts climbing up behind her and she attempts to move faster wishing to evade them, to distance herself from the pain.

Breathe.

She feels like she can’t.

When she climbs through the hatch the cool wind whips around her face. She can feel the dried blood and war paint cracking against it. As she pulls herself through she breathes in deeper than before, she smells moisture in the air and hears thunder in the distance.

And she looks over her city briefly before looking straight into the giant flame atop the tower. She feels the ghosts join her in her silent weeping. She almost feels their ghostly touches, attempting to soothe her, offering comfort she does not feel she deserves.

So all it does is bring more pain.

All it brings to mind are memories, all she has left of them. Her hopes for most of them are now dashed, soon to be ash along with their bodies. She shivers to her core and raises her chin against the onslaught of agony and fighting her tears from blinding her.

 The beacon looks small tonight, dimmer. Like Lexa's heart isn't capable of fuelling it tonight...

Almost as if... Her heart wasn't here...

Lexa's eyes widen, "Clarke."

Along with the thousand terrible things that happened today, a thousand more things begin to flow through her brain while she tries to locate Clarke. Panic and an aching worry causing her to clench her hands into fists.

And when she finds she can't find her, when she finds she being blocked, her mind skitters before her emotions begin to toy with the knowledge.

Clarke has run.

Impossible.

And yet... 

She's not here.

Her mind continues to play tricks with her; her insecurities, her panic, and her pain and fears all coming to the forefront.

Because if Clarke has not run then something Lexa definitely would not like is happening; she can feel it in her bones, evident when she realizes her wife is keeping her from reading her emotional state along with locating her. It's insult to injury right now, one Lexa can't see beyond, not when it’s combined with the burning betrayal she feels the moment she knows her wife broke her promise to never shut her out. 

Though the logical part of her brain, the Heda in her, tells her here must be a good reason, there had to be. That tells her Clarke would never do such a thing if she absolutely did not have to.

But Lexa can't really think logically right now.

And there's a foolish part of her that actually blames Clarke for that, because once again, Heda and Lexa are both reeling in emotions. In weakness that does not feel like it could ever be strength at this moment.

Clarke taught her to feel, to react unabashed, to display emotions, and now she doesn't know how to stop it. Doesn't remember how to turn it off, doesn't remember how to let Heda find the strength for Lexa to operate.

Or maybe she doesn't have the strength to keep fighting anymore.

Lexa chokes back her sobs, sits on the edge of the tower's roof and remains there, alone, until Octavia finds her.

Octavia doesn't say anything. She just quietly joins Lexa on the edge and looks over the city with her. They watch the smoke rise from the rubble, the torches flickering, and the bodies moving to clean the city of the dead. They watch the enemy corpses being collected and taken outside the city walls for the larger pyre. Let them burn together, outside the walls of the city they tried to break and couldn’t.

The people that fell for polis will burn within the city, just as they should. 

As Lexa would.

Hours before dawn, Lexa finally cracks and leans into Octavia for a comfort she desperately needs. The warrior slings her arms around her and holds her silently, stroking her back and hair as Lexa cries.

And once again, an hour later, whiplash occurs for Octavia.

Lexa leans out of her hold suddenly and stands. "Where is Clarke?" she asks while her eyes fall onto Octavia.

Octavia looks at the city once more before answering, "She’s taking care of things for you. The uh, pyres and such, she thought you deserved some time to yourself..." She half-lies and omits the full truth carefully.

"Taking care of things..." Lexa repeats quietly, her eyes falling from Octavia to her own blood covered hands.

There's a change in her voice that Octavia doesn't miss and causes her to look at her as she rushes to stand.

"Lexa-"

"No.” Lexa holds up her hand, anger much easier to deal with and much easier to display, “I don't want to hear it. Clarke can come to me when she feels it appropriate."

"That's not it! She's simply fulfilling her duty to her people -to you…"

That was the wrong thing to say.

"And I am not..." Lexa says to herself.

Octavia mentally slaps herself; she knew it was the wrong way to put it as soon as it left her mouth, she nervously glances from Lexa to the ledge, wondering if that would be how Lexa kills her.

There’s a darkness washing over Lexa’s features, a change that calls Octavia's mind back to the cold Heda she met so long ago.

"Lexa-"

"Enough."

Octavia is forced to clam up and run after Lexa as she leaves her alone on the roof. The woman chases her down the hallways until Lexa stops outside her room. Without looking at her, Lexa grits out a dull, "Leave me."

Then the door slams in Octavia's face.

She huffs out a breath before turning down the hall and frowning, "Well, I guess that could have gone worse..."

It is an hour before dawn when Clarke and Raven return with a slumbering Kai and tired souls.

 

 

Chapter Text

Polis, two days later:

Clarke sips at the cup in her hand as she stares over the city from the nightgrove. Dawn is a short ways off and the tea she's keeping hot by heating the cup with her hand is doing little to soothe her nerves. They've been shot for days. She feels fried, strung out. Super emotional and like she’s barely holding it together.

Truthfully, she is barely hanging on. 

Professionally, she's got that shit on lock down. That stuff is easy. Something she never thought she would be able to say. The only difficulty right now is with the Ontari, Azgeda situation – which she hasn’t really figured out yet. She hopes that by the time she radios the woman she has a plan. She can’t wait too long, she promised communication at the very least and Ontari’s threat of invading Arkadia is burning in the back of her mind; she knows she’ll follow through on it.

And Clarke also knows the blame will fall with her if she does.

Relationship wise, on a personal front, she couldn't fucking tell you where they all lie exactly. They're all a little strained right now; everyone is emotionally spent and hurting. 


 

Two days ago, the night Clarke returned with Kai and Lexa stormed out of the room she didn't chase her. Maybe she should have, but instead, she stayed with Kai, changing and washing them both before tucking the girl into her side when she got into bed. Selfishly, Clarke needed the comfort of the child, the soft breaths and beating heart, reassuring her she made at least one correct choice that night.

Clarke did not sleep; no, she could not sleep. She remained there, brushing her fingers through Kai's damp, clean hair and tried valiantly to stay out of her own head. She thought about Claire’s brief message; she considered trying to reach out to Elyza, but she didn't know exactly how to do so and knew for sure it wouldn't be the best time. If Claire approached Elyza the way Clarke inadvertently did, she knew there would be little hope to reach her sensible side right now.

So she sat there, back to the headboard, silently avoiding her own dark thoughts by forcing herself into thinking of literally anything else than what they’re all experiencing. She tried to think of her father, of his warmth and comfort. She imagined his strong arms around her, keeping her safe from a nightmare she can’t seem to wake up from. She thought of her wife, wished she had the strength to go after her, to bring her to bed with them. To hold her close and promise never to let her go, to use each other as the life preserver they know each other to be whenever the stormy seas get so high.

The Queen and Lionheart.

It was over an hour later when Lexa finally returned to their room. Neither leader says anything. Lexa bathes, changes and Clarke simply lifts back the furs and opens her arms so Lexa can join her and Kai in bed. Lexa lays into Clarke's other side, her arm wrapping across Clarke's stomach and over Kai protectively.

They share a collective breath soaking in the quiet comfort and shared sorrow.

Nothing was fixed. Nothing was better. 

Nevertheless, nothing about the way they love each other had changed. They held each other right through what little sleep finally came to them.

The next morning, Kai finally woke, fresh eyed and before her mothers. She’s given a brief moment of contentedness before the night’s events came flooding back to her upon seeing the look of anguish soaked into their sleeping faces. Worst of all to Kai, Lexa’s orb of protective light, dim around the three of them, unlike how Kai has ever seen it. Her.

When they finally wake, Lexa found Kai has snuggled in between the two of them, awake and watching over them protectively, concern etched on her face. Little was said that morning; Lexa shed no tears, though the other two in the room knew they were there behind the walls.

When Lexa left the room to attend to duty, Clarke and Kai shed the tears Lexa would not allow to herself. They cried for her, for themselves, for the fallen. Then, they dried their tears, dressed for the day and left the room hand in hand.

Wanheda and her Smolheda.


 

So here she is, sipping tea, two days later thinking back and finding things have not changed much.

The dead have yet to be burned, the constant barrage of storms with rain falling too intensely for the fires to burn even with Clarke’s help. The winds and rain clearly echoing the emotions of the city in an ominous way; chilling and unnerving to even the strongest of person. She can see the pyres ready, both inside and outside of the city, now dry and waiting to carry the souls lying upon them on.

Titus was attended to; his wounds treated just enough to ensure the ability to prolong his suffering on the blood tree. He dies as a Natrona today, the way he goes in complete control of Lexa; it was her wish to wait out the rains. It was her wish to make sure he was healed enough that he did not die too quickly. Clarke doesn’t blame her, she agreed with her decision a hundred percent, as did everyone else. Not that Lexa cared. She didn’t even spare Mira, the other Natrona, and the door opener for Azgeda, the radio stealer and the spy. She’ll have her own tree, her own pain to echo the city and people she betrayed.

Lexa and Clarke are still walking on eggshells around each other during the daytime and huddled close in silence at night. Words have never been needed between the two of them, but Clarke finds she wishes for them desperately now. She needs them, needs to know what’s really happening inside her head, but doesn’t know how to broach Lexa’s walls any longer. Maybe she’s just telling herself that. Maybe she just doesn’t want to be turned away, to be turned down, to be held at arms length once more. She knows she can’t handle that pain, but honestly, Wanheda is losing patience and fiddling with the sledgehammer once again.

Clarke has lowered her walls, she's allowed Lexa in, only to find that Lexa had returned the favour and blocked her out. Built her walls higher than before, curled inside herself behind them, keeping Lexa safe, while Heda rules in a stoic fury.

Clarke finds that she doesn't blame her for that either.

She deserves it. If she could trust the Wanheda side of herself not to go too far she would do the same. It’s safer that way, but that’s never been Clarke’s strong suit; hiding away from her feelings, running away from her pain, it never works. She learned that the hard way, not so very long ago in reality, but in what feels like a lifetime.

Clarke has spent the last two days periodically visiting the grove like this, despite the rains, going over all the things happening around her. Thinking of how to fix everything. Thinking on the things she could have handled better. Maybe even a few things she wished she had have done differently. Like approaching the Azgeda Truce subject at a later time, she had two days. She could have put it off one night; she could have waited. She should have waited.

Or how blocking Lexa out when she knows the whole purpose of their ability to feel each other like that is so they make use of it. Lexa has every right to be upset over that, to block Clarke out now. Clarke broke a promise, a vow, and did so consciously. She chose to walk this path just like all the others. She thought it would be easier that night to do it that way. She was wrong.

She's not sure how to make it right. She needs Lexa to help heal her heart. She can’t do that alone; they can light a million pyres, send on millions of souls to make amends for their mistakes, but without Lexa, it matters none.

Not to mention, she also needs Lexa’s help with Ontari; needs her wisdom, her strength. Clarke’s about to tread dangerous waters, alone, if she can’t reach her wife’s logical side today. She’s flip flopped over the right time to try again today; can’t decide if it would be better to do so before or after the pyre and blood trees. She thinks it may be better to wait until after for Lexa to be in a better frame of mind but her fear of Ontari’s impatience and threat on Arkadia forces her to think the opposite would be true for their people…

She doesn’t know what to do so she tries the only thing she can, she silently tries to reach out to Lexa. To feel her, to let her feel, to let her know she’s not alone, to let her know she needs her. She hopes, as she stares out over the city, that today's proceedings help put them all on the path to heal. They’ve waited long enough.

And if today solves nothing, she’ll bring out the sledgehammer again, she’ll pull as many ‘Clarke’s’ as she needs to…


 

Lexa stares out over the tower’s edge as the sun just peeks out beyond the horizon. She goes few places in Polis to feel peace when she gets overwhelmed, here and the nightgrove. She’d be lying if she said she hasn’t been avoiding the grove, she totally has been, Ryder has kept her informed of Clarke’s movements. She tasked him on watching her back again, keeping her safe and under Lexa’s protection when she cannot do it herself.

She’s been avoiding Clarke as best she can, finding ways to keep herself busy until late at night when she can fall silently into her arms and off to sleep. Her endeavor has not gone unnoticed, her wife clearly seeing what Lexa is doing. Sensing her walls are up, and of course, knowing why, this morning, Clarke was gone before she woke an hour ago. Lexa can’t help it, the fear to break down and never be able to build herself back up again causing her to act. She fears opening her mouth and her broken sobs never ending. She worries her frustration and pain will come out a misguided anger.

She can’t trust herself right now, can’t trust her reactions, but she can trust Heda. She trusted her when Costia was taken and she trusts her now when Lexa is at her weakest once more. She ignores that Heda seems to ache for Clarke and Wanheda’s help as much as her.

Lexa has been so very angry. She’s mad about Ontari’s offer. Mad about Clarke going to the meeting without her, without even telling her. Angry that Ontari went so far as to use Kai as bait. Angry, perhaps childishly so, that Clarke agrees with Ontari. That they shared some vision Lexa knows she hasn’t heard the whole truth about. She’s angry that she can’t find herself strong (or perhaps stupid) enough to trust Azgeda again; she almost lost Clarke to Nia during a truce and look what happened. She’s angry that Clarke’s right about it all and she is too stubborn to give in because of her fears. She’s angry that she can’t listen to her own advice, that fear plays a big role in the hearts of men.

For once, Lexa isn’t sure she’s making the right decisions. And she feels horrible, inadequate even, that Clarke stepped up while she fell to her knees.

Lexa clenches her fists at her side and narrows her eyes as her anger swells within her. She thinks more on Ontari, envisions a thousand scenarios in which she could cause her pain in turn for the pain she inflicted on them. Instead of considering the outcomes if she were to let Ontari into the coalition, Lexa thinks of all the things that tell her she shouldn’t even entertain the notion.

“We can’t trust her,” she murmurs to herself as her mind’s eye flickers to the ghosts of the children following her around. A gust of wind whips at her coat, kicking up the sash on her shoulder and Lexa breathes in deep with it.

And then, she vows for Ontari to die; the ghosts of the nightbloods standing beside her reminding her of her blistering pain and causing her thoughts to run wild.

She finds she meant what she said to Clarke, they mave have their truce, but it begins with Ontari’s death. Once she falls, then Lexa will force Azgeda to kneel or they will die with their Queen. She does not believe she needs them to save the world, she tells herself. She can end their threat now, a retreat is weakness to Azgedakru; it would have caused doubt, she thinks, it could be done my way.

“Ontari must fall,” she seethes; anger, easier to access, so close to the surface now, easier to display without seeming weak. She's fairly certain she skipped right over the denial and bargaining stages of grief and dove headfirst into rage, depression and a begrudging acceptance.

Though death is not new to Lexa, she grieves as though it is; for these deaths, were never supposed to come while she still breathes.

And those are the many reasons why Lexa and Heda have put on the mask and kept it on. Why she has pulled up her walls and crawled deep inside herself while she lets the only emotion she trusts right now, her anger, run her.

Taking another deep breath that doesn’t quite satisfy, Lexa dips her head and shuts her eyes in attempts to calm herself. She feels a sudden onslaught of emotions being pressed like rolling waves against her walls, she can feel Clarke pushing to her, reaching out like so many times before in the last two days. But Lexa makes sure her walls stay intact, she doesn’t let her in though she wants to desperately.


 

“Lexa,” Clarke breathes slowly approaching behind her.

“Hello Clarke.”

The greeting is not as cold as it has been, at least she actually spoke this time. It’s not exactly as pleasant as it always was before when Lexa would say her name, the pain and anger she’s trying to hide, evident as Lexa hesitates to turn to meet her gaze.

“It’s almost time,” Clarke says lightly.

“I am aware.”

“Right. Right, yeah…” Clarke trails off watching her carefully. She sighs and runs a hand through her hair instead of reaching out like she wants to. “Um, you’re sure you want to do the trees on the balcony?”

“Yes. The tower was their home, kept them safe through many years. They die as traitors to it, it will be good for the people to witness,” Clarke hears the silent ‘for me to witness’.

The blonde nods, “okay. Then it’s all set up as you requested. They await your command, Heda.” The title comes out on instinct, a way for her to approve of the decision without having to say it out loud. It’s not the only reason she has come to Lexa now, not why she interrupted her moment of solitude but now that she’s here she finds her nerve waning.

She clears her throat awkwardly as Lexa meets her gaze. She sees the murky greens of her eyes staring back at her, clouded with unspent anger and frustration.

“What is it?” Lexa asks.

Clarke purses her lips, “Have you thought anymore on-”

“Yes. I have not changed my mind, Ontari must die and then Azgeda will choose their path.”

“Lexa, we can do this without bloodshed! The option is there to do this now and save our people later! Please, see beyond your anger, I know you can!”

“No. She dies, Clarke.” Lexa spits out. She takes a couple hurried steps closer, her eyes flashing in pain, “Don’t you see what she’s doing? She’s trying to weave her way in, get under the radar once more, save her ass and then destroy us from within. Do you not understand why I cannot allow that? Nia almost took you from me under the guise of peace! Ontari has had you within deaths reach more than once now, I am trying to protect you!”

“Lexa! Our people-”

“Our people need you, Clarke.” I need you. “They need the Commander of Death against the undead not a false Queen and her army! You’re too trusting, it will get you killed.” Lexa says raising her chin in defiance, “Ontari must die. Ontari will die.”

Clarke shakes her head sadly, realizing that she will not win this argument; she knows what she must do now.

“Fine,” she says as softly as she can. “Ontari must die.”

Lexa nods in a slight frown. Clarke blinks as Lexa leans in and kisses her forehead before leaving with her light, the only action telling Clarke for certain that her Lexa is still in this shell of her wife.

Before Clarke leaves the tower's roof, she looks to the sky and breathes in deep. She gathers her strength before she flames down to Raven's shop.


 

"So we're really doing this?" Raven and Octavia question.

Clarke rounds on them, meeting their gaze, "I have no choice."

"You do."

"She's right, you don't have to do it this way Clarke," Raven says. "You can contact her and try to buy some more time. She must understand."

"She won't."

"Clarke?"

"She won't!" Clarke shouts, "I've been over it time and time again with you Raven. Even you worked out the math on our probability of not needing Azgeda. Lexa is blind to anything but her anger and resentment of her grief. She hasn't even tried to heal yet, she won't back down anytime soon and I don't exactly have the time to wait!"

Octavia purses her lips, "I don't like this."

"Yeah? Well, I didn't ask you," Clarke spits before she can stop herself. She sighs, "Sorry."

"Don't be. I get it. This is a choice only you can make, you know we'll back you no matter what we feel about it."

Clarke looks down at the radio and hesitates, she doesn't voice the thought that says that maybe they shouldn't. Regardless, the next second she is hitting the button to switch channels. She looks at Raven, who nods in a serious way, she can tell she feels as helpless as Clarke does.

"Just... be careful."

Clarke nods and clicks the button to call the Queen of Azgeda. No one in the room hears her silent prayers to the spirits to let her be right about this.

No one hears the silent apology to Lexa but Clarke.

 


 

The blood trees have been set on the broken balcony of the fourth floor. It is high enough for the people to witness clearly without distancing them from it because these ceremonies, like the pyres, are for everyone.

This ceremony is where some justice is found. Not all of it, but some. Lexa is disappointed that she did not get to bleed Ambrose, but she has the route to justice for BlueCliff in the back of her mind already set, she just needs to follow that path. Much like the path she must follow for Ontari, when she does, justice will truly be done.

For now, they will find justice in the deaths of Mira and Titus.

She stands in the hall waiting as Titus and Mira are dragged through the streets from the dungeon and into the tower. She palms the handle of her sword at her hip, fingertips tapping impatiently. She wears full commander garb, her ceremonial armour in place, complete with flowing sash. Her headpiece is shiny and in place, giving her strength, reminding her of her duty. Today, she feels her trinket of purpose, more than ever before.

Clarke arrives minutes later along with Raven and Octavia at her flanks. Clarke wears her own headpiece, her black sash entwined with the piece of Lexa’s own, flaring behind her as she approaches. Her hair is pulled back, various braids plaited within loose strands.

Lexa nods to them, seeing the obvious worry in Octavia’s eyes and Raven’s troubles on her face. Lexa understands, Raven must face her friend, someone she trusted and let in only to be burned and betrayed; she’ll have to lay cuts to Mira. Catching her eyes Raven nods back as if to say, ‘I got this’, like Lexa had any doubt.

Lexa feels Clarke’s tentative hand travel along her free arm, winding through her elbow and laying flat on top of her hand. The touch is tingling, even through the clothes she wears, Clarke’s walls obviously not in place, her eyes, deep blue and understanding. Watching with care. Lexa releases her other hand from her sword and lightly places it atop Clarke’s and her own, brushing her thumb on the back of her hand before bringing it to her lips. Clarke does the same before kissing Lexa’s cheek and resting their foreheads together.

They take a moment gathering strength for the blood they are about to spill, the healing they hope to spark, and the pyres yet to come.

At the sound of the approaching footsteps Clarke draws back but leaves her hand on Lexa’s, which Lexa is grateful for. They eye the twins with a slight nod as they pass in front of Titus and Mira, who follow behind them, with Ryder trailing in back. The traitors are taken into the room where Luna, Shaw, and Ziva wait with the remaining natblida. Raven and Octavia follow suit and take their places, Octavia stands with Luna and Raven moves to the balcony as Fleimkeppa.

Lexa and Clarke wait outside as the final preparations are made. The guilty are strapped to their trees and Raven speaks to the crowd, hushing them and requesting them to not throw the produce they wielded during the prisoner’s march. She puts on a brave face as she introduces the Heda’s to roars and whistles proving their love and faith in them as they come into view.

Lexa raises her free hand as she feels Clarke’s grip tighten on the back of her other. The crowd falls silent immediately before she opens her mouth.

She’s sure when her voice comes out it will be weak and broken, but it comes out strong and true. She credits Clarke’s unwavering strength at her side. Though she doesn’t let her in, she keeps her walls up; she can still sense the constant wave rolling off of her anyways, can feel her Clarke standing tall beside her and proving her own undying love and faith.

Kru kom Polis, Kru kom kongeda-au,People of Polis, people of the coalition, she says in trig. “Today, we gather to see justice done!” The crowd cheers as she growls it out. “We stand tall, united in the face of those who move against us! Here we stand, bent but not broken, stronger than ever before and for the natrona’s to witness Polis’ rise from the ashes!”

Clarke squeezes her hand again and Lexa glances at her briefly before looking back to the crowd. “Titus, bearer of no titles, no power and no position and Mira, daughter of Azgeda, you are proven guilty of treason! You die by the means of any who wish to take from you!”

There are gasps ringing out from the room, the blood trees and the people in the crowd. Clarke hides her confusion well behind a passive mask as Lexa ignores the confusion. She thought long and hard about this, spent hours tirelessly considering her options and found this was the most satisfying. She has chosen to allow any who wish to make their marks, to inflict their own pain on the two to do so, however they choose to.

They will all have a chance.

Lexa pulls Clarke to the side after glaring at Titus through tight jaws, “Let them show you how deep this pain goes and how strong love can make them. Love is not weakness, love brought us here, love saved Polis.” When her words cause Titus to waiver, to appear shaken and weak before her she then nods to Raven to proceed with the ceremony.

Raven takes a quick breath before she places her own mask on and calls forth the first to make their mark.

It’s Aden, looking both angry and sad as he approaches. The hatred in his eyes evident as he swings a fist and breaks Titus’s nose, causing the blood to flow on the first hit. He chooses to use no weapons, he swings violently, time and time again before he’s breathing hard and his knuckles are bloody an torn. He chooses to cut Mira, slicing her cheek right through Azgeda scars that don’t exist there.

The next to approach is Situ, she grits her teeth nodding to Lexa and Clarke before grinning at she slices Mira’s thigh, above the knee and deep enough to make her howl, the finishes the cut with a twist to her blade inflicting as much damage and pain as she can. Then she moves to Titus, her tiny body moving forward at a violent pace. Her anger coming out as her tiny blade is driven into the palm that’s tied to the post, “that is for striking Kai,” she whispers in his ear. She then proceeds to break his four fingers and finally his thumb, “That is for the other’s that you failed.”

Zora goes next, her eyes furious and full of loathing. She barely looks at Mira as she cuts her scalp with the deadly glare like her sisters plastered on her face. She has seen many battlefields, more than her fellow natblida, and still she has not seen enough blood yet. Her need for Titus’ is clear to all in the room, she works on Mira quickly before moving on. Her sister stands proudly behind her as the younger girl moves to her prey. She pulls out a curved blade, given to her after her first kill from her sister; her strike is powerful and precise. She filets the skin from his hip to his knee, as if skinning a fish, and she throws the piece at his feet as he whimpers. She takes the sharp edge and then presses it in to the gaping wound, slowly, ensuring he feels every second of her touch.

As he waivers consciousness from the pain, Kai approaches after a pat on the shoulder from Luna. Kai walks briskly forward, straight for Mira and rounds to face her. “You,” she sneers, “We trusted you. Raven trusted you.” She launches a quick punch, followed by another. Mira spits out blood from a cut lip and blinks beneath a bruise forming on her eye. She steps closer to whisper in her ear, “A friend, we called you, all you have proven is that you were not worthy of such a place. I am not sad to see you go.” Kai’s knife slips from out of her coat and lands deep in the side of Mira before she brings it to the left, slicing her belly to a satisfying scream. She grins darkly before glancing at Raven who’s watching with fierce pride and a little sadness. She doesn’t falter, she turns her attention on to Titus.

She see’s that he is weaving in and out of consciousness, she growls as she moves and she slaps him to wake him up, “You can rest when you’re dead!” She shouts at him like he yelled at them so many time before. She smirks when he looks at her, wild eyed and fearful when he sees the darkness in the child before him. He begins to tremble when he sees her power, her strength, driven by a ferocious love he didn’t understand but is beginning to.

Kai reaches into her pockets, pulling out sleeves of torn parchment, each one once pinned to his hood unbeknownst to him. The remnants of their game held at his expense, the remnants of her brothers and sisters’ smiles and joyous times they had together, she kept them all. His eyes widen when he sees them, she shuffles through them before him like a deck of cards. She puts Peyton’s last one, the one Kai took the blame for, the one she was whipped for, on top of the pile before pulling her small dagger back out and using it to pin them right to his shoulder. As the blade sinks in, he howls as she grins darkly, her very own monster, her smolheda, coming through in spades.

Kai leaves him like that before moving to stand beside Clarke, who places her hand on her shoulder and draws her in a little closer. Lexa glances at her and gives her a brief nod and small smile. She’s proud of her, of all of them.

And the adults all move to take their turns.

Raven cuts Mira’s palms, finding herself unable to handle doing much else to someone she once saw as a friend but making sure the thief and traitor feels her anger. Even in betrayal, she can’t find the sense in inflicting much pain on her, she doesn’t think it will help; at least it won’t help her. Octavia does not follow that sense of thought. Octavia snaps both of her elbows. The rest in the room take their own cuts one by one after her.

Titus is served a much crueler fate. The pain inflicted on him is both necessary feeling and quite revealing to his true character. No one takes it lightly on him. Octavia snaps his knee before pulling a knife and removing the kneecap from its home. Raven fucking whipped out a handgun and shot him in the gut, ensuring his suffering will be even worse. Making sure Skaikru makes its mark and pressing into the wound with her hand with a dark smile before slapping the bloody palm across his face.

When it is Clarke and Lexa’s turn they move together as a unit. They request the prisoners to be taken down from their posts as they approach. Working as a silent team, Clarke burns white-hot flames on Mira’s thief hands while Lexa removes her traitorous tongue, making sure to keep her alive a little longer. They move to Titus, Clarke striking first, a flaming palm reaching up and gripping his throat, burning the flesh beneath her fingers. She holds him there, his back to the people of Polis, as Lexa moves to stand before him. She speaks, leaning in so that only Clarke and Titus can hear her, “You once warned me of Wanheda’s power, of what Clarke’s presence would do to me. You were blind then” she pops her knife into his eye socket, removing each one swiftly, “and you are blind now.”

She throws the now useless organs into the city before glancing at Clarke, still holding Titus, and nodding at Ryder who holds Mira. “Let the people of Polis have the rest,” she turns as Clarke flings Titus backwards off the balcony and Ryder kicks Mira off unceremoniously.

As if it were as easy as brushing off her hands, Lexa just walks out of the room and she doesn’t look back. She’s not done yet, but she’s on her way. Clarke and the Natblida follow her silently as they progress through the tower to relocate at the pyres.

The bodies of Titus and Mira are dragged out to the enemies pyre outside the city walls hurriedly before the burnings take place. Today, murder and murdered will not be burned together. The enemy does not deserve to burn within the city they tried to destroy. Let them find new life on their own. No one gathers there, just Lexa and Clarke. There are no words spoken to send them off, just ‘yu gonplei ste odon’ from each of them before they take Clarke’s flames back into the city.

Inside the city walls, the crowd does not take long to gather. The warriors and protectors of the city will burn first, in larger pyres while the natblida all have their own pyre to themselves, as fitting for their station, for their missed futures as leaders. As is their birthright and bloodright demands.

Silence hangs around the gathered as they prepare to say their final goodbyes. The air is heavy with loss and visible on all present. Lexa steps up with Clarke onto the raised platform, a traditional torch held high in each of their right hands.

They thank the fallen out loud; thank them for their sacrifice and strength in the face of evil. They wish them luck on their journeys and slowly lean in to light each fire.

As the fires begin to rise into the morning sunlight, the smoke billowing high as if carrying their spirits with it the crowd watches silently as Lexa speaks again, “Hofli yu na hon bida chilnes op ona yu brana sonraun.” May you find peace in your new life.

Hofli yu na hon bida chilnes op ona yu brana sonraun,” Clarke repeats. “Yu na ge mema we.” You will be missed, she promises.


 

 

Clarke and Lexa remain at the pyres long after the crowd disperses. They are watched keenly by their loved ones, who remain in the distance or periodically coming back to check on them between their duties. They stand hand in hand until evening begins to fall and Lexa finally speaks.

“Thank you, Clarke.”

Clarke turns her head to look at her, confused.

“This could not have been easy for you, standing by my side even though we don’t agree on our path from here,” Lexa continues.

Clarke shakes her head slightly, “Lexa our path leads forward, together. It always has.”

Lexa sighs and looks at her now, “I will never condone what you are proposing. We will never agree on Ontari and Azgeda unless you come to my side of that argument. She has to die, Clarke. I will not rest until she does so. I can’t risk it.” I can’t risk you, Clarke hears between her words.

Clarke reaches out and strokes her cheek softly, “We’ll figure something out.” She hides the fact that she’s already walking both paths tumultuously; she hides her guilt. “Let’s just worry about healing for now. We can worry about her later. Tonight, let’s just be.” Clarke pulls Lexa in close and holds her tight as Lexa’s arms weave around her back.

She strokes her hand on the back of her head softly murmuring her love in her wife’s ear before swallowing and pulling back to look at her. “Lexa, please. Let me in?”

She wants to take it back as soon as she says it. Lexa immediately bites her lip before setting her jaw. Clarke backpedals, “Forget I said that. I get it; you don’t have to, just know I’m here okay. Whenever you’re ready.” She swallows reaching up to brush Lexa’s cheek with her thumb tenderly, “And I’m sorry. I wish I could go back and handle it differently, I’m not even going to try and defend my actions… I’m just, so sorry, I never meant to hurt you like this. To add to any of this…to make everything harder…” she trails off wincing at how utterly pathetic that sounded.

Lexa sighs; running her hands along Clarke’s arms soothingly, “shhh, niron. I understand. I just… I need time.”

Clarke nods, watching her closely. She decides to lower the sledgehammer and trust Lexa’s words. She decides to give her time. She’s not sure how much time they have to spare, but she pledges as fiercely as Lexa has vowed to kill Ontari, that she will give her as much as she can.

Again, nothing is really fixed, nothing feels completely better, but that night, when they crawl into bed together they sleep a little more soundly. With entwined limbs and matching rhythms of their hearts, foreheads pressed together and Lexa’s light, a little brighter around them, the candles flames a little higher than normal.

Things aren't perfect, but they're better.

 

Chapter Text

 About two weeks later, things in Polis are calming down. Slowly life is beginning to return to normal. The people of Polis and the clans of the coalition have really come together to raise the Capitol back up to its former glory and give aid to the villages ravaged by the Bears. They've sent masons, builders, manpower and goods to help in whichever way they can. Slowly, the city is healing.

Perhaps, even a little faster than some of its people.

Definitely faster than Lexa, who remains hidden behind her walls, keeping everyone at arms length despite their efforts to get close. She's made some progress, not near enough for her loved one’s liking.

But grief cannot be rushed.

And Lexa's grief is heavily weighing on her. No longer seeing the ghosts of the children, she finds herself feeling slightly lost. Many of those children were innocent, un-bloodied from war or battle; children she helped raise from the time many of them could barely walk. Kids she watched grow, helped mould into potential leaders and good people, only to see them perish before their time.

They say no parent should have to bury or burn their child. Lexa has now burned five.

It's something that sinks in with Clarke, as she too considers the natblida a part of her with or without the black blood tie. Clarke understands, or likes to think she understands, Lexa's process and purpose right now. She's grieving. She's also angry and hurt with the disagreement and moves Clarke made behind her back and because of this, Clarke is trying not to push too hard or rush Lexa. And yes, perhaps she does that in effort to alleviate some guilt she has for continuing to make such moves.

She desperately hopes that she's right in thinking this is her only way to ensure her people, who she now considers the 'living' versus clans of coalition, will survive against the walking dead. Clarke has learned a lot since coming crashing to Earth, she's learned a lot about herself and her heart, she's learned a lot about human nature and even more than she ever wanted to know about life on the ground. What she has learned recently, from experiencing tragedy after tragedy throughout the many lives her soul has lived, is that doing evil, being evil, and doing good or being good, is not so black and white. It's not cut and dry all the time, which is why she stands by her decision on Ontari.

Clarke has destroyed two entire civilizations in this lifetime alone, she does not wish to add to that. She has experienced ending the world now through meeting Claire in the veil and knows if she does not make her moves to stop the undead from rising, she will be forced into the same position. She would be forced to repeat her soul's deepest regret. 

Commander of Death, that's what they call her, that's who she is, and she'll be damned if she allows that to mean she can't control granting life as much as ending it. 

She can do both.

Clarke hasn't forgotten the added pressure of Elyza's world, the other world now infected, but right now, she sort of has a priority to her own world. She hasn't heard from Claire, hasn't tried to reach out in her dreams, she knows why, knows where she is, and she's put her trust in Claire to keep watch over Elyza. She's concerned of course, but she has more pressing concerns right now.

This morning, it is most definitely her wife. It's been a long two weeks and Clarke is beginning to get worn out with worry.

Lexa hasn't said a word this morning. She sits quietly pushing her breakfast sausages around her plate with her fork, her head resting in her other hand. She resembles a sad puppy and Clarke's having a hard time ignoring it. She wants to give her time, but damnit, it's been two straight weeks of this. She misses the soft smiles, the hidden glances, the cocky smirks, and the secret smile that's only for her. She misses her bright green eyes staring out at her alight with energy.

She'd give anything to hear her laugh.

Clarke purses her lips as she swallows her tea. They eat alone in their chambers this morning, like the week before, Lexa claiming to need to spend more time with Clarke in private even though they speak little. Lexa eats little. Clarke watches her a lot. Lexa rarely looks back. Clarke would be lying to herself if she said she wasn’t growing a little impatient, a little more bruised by it as it continues every day.

"So, do you think you will be coming to training this morning?" Clarke says in a small voice. When Lexa doesn't answer, or even acknowledge she said anything at all, Clarke lays it on a little thick. "The kids have been asking about you..."

"I am not sure I have the time today," Lexa says after a moment more of silence, lowering her hands to the table, she finally raises her eyes to meet Clarke's.

"You said that yesterday and Raven found you on the roof, said you'd been there for four hours," Clarke says softly, her hand slowly creeping across the table towards Lexa's. Her eyes asking a silent question before she makes contact with her hands, finding consent, she folds her hands over Lexa's.

"Please, ai niron, talk to me?" She doesn't even try to prevent the sound of begging leaving her lips.

Lexa heaves in a shaky breath, the tears brimming behind her mask, Lexa making herself seen for only a second before she's gone. "I can't."

"Yes. You can. You just keep choosing not to!" Clarke shouts before she can stop herself, her frustration over the last two weeks coming to the surface, she stands up, pulling her hands back in the process. "You're keeping everyone at arms length Lexa. We all see it, everyone who knows the true you feels it. You're trying to protect yourself and I get that, this pain sucks, it hurts like nothing else, but you need to realize that you're not the only one feeling it! You are not alone!" 

Clarke's eyes widen at the end of her shout, surprised at herself, she tenses up, wondering if she made a huge mistake. Again.

Lexa doesn’t respond, she looks away.

Clarke tries a different approach trying to grasp at anything to get Lexa speaking. “Have you decided what we are to do about Bluecliff? Now that Ambrose is gone and their invaders defeated, do you think they will be a problem?”

Lexa clenches her jaw, still avoiding Clarke’s eyes. “Yes. Ambrose has a child, a natblida babe.”

Clarke’s mouth drops open unsure of where Lexa is headed with this. She’s slightly shocked when her mind, knowing the dark gloom hanging over Lexa, considers if Lexa will invade Bluecliff to kill the babe in the name of justice as well as to keep Bluecliff from attempting any further moves on the throne. She shakes her head, “Lexa, it’s just a baby.”

Lexa’s eyes dart to Clarke’s dangerously, “A baby that will grow into a man, a baby that will grow to know the story of his father, a baby that may grow to have the same ambitions, one that may grow to seek vengeance.”

Clarke furrows her brow, Lexa’s not wrong, of course she isn’t, actually, what she says makes a lot of sense, but Clarke wonders how she plans to deal with this if not death. She worries that in her wife’s blinding grief she will make a poor decision, one that she will grow to regret.

“You can’t kill him!”

Lexa’s eyes widen and her mouth drops in shock. She gathers herself quickly, slamming her hands on the table in tight fists, “kill him? You think I plan to kill a baby, Clarke?”

“No. I’m sorry… I just…” She doesn’t know how to take it back; she’s disappointed in herself for blurting it out, for being irrational and emotional. The hurt in Lexa’s voice choking her words in throat, the look of disappointment from Lexa breaking her down, and Clarke doesn’t blame her. She hates herself for saying it out loud; she knows better, she knows Lexa and Heda would never after hearing it out loud. Desperation and sorrow or not, she would never-

“I plan to take the baby to Polis, to bring him into the fold, to allow him his birthright to his blood. A child of bluecliff, living in the city, already being trained to perhaps one day rule as Heda, will be an awfully big deterrent for them to try for the throne again.”

Clarke nods sadly; realizing that was the second place her head had gone when Lexa mentioned the child, wishing she had said that instead of what she had… For the strong mind she supposedly has, she sure can’t control the word vomit she keeps spewing…

"Get out, Clarke,” Lexa sighs and stands abruptly, roughly pushing her chair back behind her.

"Lexa, wait, I didn’t mean that. Not really, I know you would never! I just have no idea what’s going on in your head because you won’t tell me! You hardly speak to any of us, you’re obviously sad and angry-" it’s a weak defense, one she doesn’t even feel she deserves to be saying, but she does it anyways.

"Out! Leave me! Out! Get out!"

"Lexa you don't mean that, beja, we never leave it this way, not in anger."

"I'm not angry Clarke. I'm saddened, filled with sorrow and loss; blinded. Weak! Hurt. Bleeding from a wound I don’t know how to find. I am not angry Clarke… I am resentful."

Clarke stumbles back in her chair, the words a blow she did not expect. "Resentful…" Clarke repeats slowly, the word leaving her mouth with a bitter aftertaste. She swallows it, "as in you resent me."

Lexa doesn't respond and Clarke gets angry, shooting out of her own chair. Knowing this is not all about what she just said about the baby; she wants to hear her say it, despite knowing it may crush her, "Why? Why Lexa?"

"Why Clarke? Why?" She parrots in a sneer stepping into Clarke and forcing her back, "look at me! You made me feel and now I feel too much! I can't get out of it; I need to not feel it, to shut it out! You did this to me!"

Clarkes backs up a few paces, and her mouth snaps shut as if she was slapped, the words stinging her very soul. She wants to fight back, to make Lexa see past the pain, to fight her into taking back her words. She knows deep down she doesn’t mean them, but just like Clarke hurt her in her assumption, Lexa has said something that she may not be able to take back.

They remain, locked in hurt gazes, both by what was said and what they heard. Then, Clarke finds she’s already forgiven her for her outburst, for her misguided anger.

She doesn’t know that in that moment, Lexa has done the same about her notion about Lexa’s plan for the babe. She doesn’t know that what Clarke suggested Lexa would do was something that she had considered the morning following the massacre in particular bitter and vengeful moment.

She swallows in attempt to compose herself, she straightens her shoulders, and her mind switching from loved one to fleimkeppa and Wanheda in hopes to bring them forward instead of keep pushing them back. She raises her head powerfully to meet Lexa’s gaze.

"If you do nothing else today, consider this, those kids out there are already here, in a position you know better than anyone.” It’s a subtle poke at her role as Heda, a reminder of her duty to mentor the young natblida, and a reminder that they are suffering too. If the tiny spark she saw in Lexa's eye was any indication, she may have finally cracked her fucking wall, and at the very least, made her think about her actions.

Clarke steps a little closer, she runs the back of her knuckles along Lexa’s cheek and down her jaw softly. Tenderly finding her wife’s cloudy eyes, “hodnes ste nou kwelnes, Lexa. You make me believe that.” Love is not weakness. “Mema, disha pein ste nou y’un kom beir.” Remember, this pain is not your own to bear.

She turns and heads for the door, stopping before she exits she turns around to find Lexa's eyes on her, brow now furrowed in thought, caught in Clarke’s message, unprepared for what comes next.

"You can't run away from who you are Lexa."

 


 

A strange wave of purpose washes over Lexa as she decides to make the long walk to the training ground, Clarke’s words echoing in her head with every step. Emboldening her on her walk, giving her strength to peek out behind her walls.

Lexa finds Clarke in the nightgrove with the natblida. Her voice trails off as Lexa comes into view during her instruction and a warm smile takes over her face. It looks as though simply Lexa’s appearance has lifted her spirits, and pride shines behind her eyes. Lexa missed that look of love and respect. She missed that smile. She’s missed Clarke.

Her words sunk in this morning. Found their way through her walls and struck a chord in her heart. Maybe Lexa was beginning to tire from drowning in her own misery alone, perhaps she was tired of treading waters too stormy and rough for her to handle alone, maybe she needed that life preserver now. Maybe she was beginning to understand again that she’s not alone, not even in agonizing pain and sorrow.

Clarke was right; she can’t keep avoiding everyone like she has been. She can’t keep running off to the tower roof to foolishly attempt to hide from pain that follows her everywhere. It must hurt Clarke just as much as it does her to see fewer numbers of natblida, but she bears that pain for the good of her charges. Clarke understands her heart and feelings at a greater capacity than Lexa. Clarke knows and accepts pain as much as she accepts happiness and love because often they begin in the same place. Lexa, only recently learned to open her heart again, and loved so fiercely that she forgot how bad the pain that could come with it could be.

It simply caught her off guard.

Then, Clarke’s final words to her this morning caught her off guard once more, completely unprepared. She once said the very thing to Clarke in a tent in the face of Mount Weather; she never expected to hear it back from her. Never expected to be in this position where she needed to be reminded of who she is and who she was meant to be.

Never expected to be in a position where she wasn’t truly alone.

Lexa clears her throat with a subtle nod to Clarke, a small smile twitching at her lip, “Please, continue.”

Clarke’s smile widens for a brief moment before falling back onto her topic of discussion with the kids, one her conversation with Lexa this morning inspired. Lexa moves to the left to stand beside Raven, who grins at her, happy to see a version of Lexa she somewhat recognizes.

“As I was saying,” Clarke says with a little more emotion than before, “As leaders you will face many challenges. Your spirits will be dampened, beaten and bloodied, they already have been. You will be tested more times than you can imagine, more times than you deserve. Yet here we all stand, together, as one. You will not give up, you have been given your bloodright, your birthright, because you have been chosen, because the spirits know you to be strong enough to bear whatever life throws at you.” She turns her head, making contact with each one of them.

“Things seem bleak, things seem dark and gloomy, like there’s no end in sight but you must believe you will find a way. You lean on those around you, the ones whom you trust and love; you find a way to continue on. That’s the way of life on the ground, you build the world and it falls apart. It doesn't mean you stop building. You learn from your mistakes. You keep growing; you build stronger foundations each time they crack. Each stumble leads to your next breakthrough. You find your light and work every second of every day to keep it burning bright…” She ends her talk with her eyes locked on Lexa’s. A silent conversation continuing on in the lingering looks, the murky waters starting to slowly clear.

Raven claps her hands twice, “Alright, enough talk. We’ve patched our wounds, today we dust ourselves off, and we fight through our pain. Ge smak daun, gyon op nodotaim. Partner up!” Get knocked down, get back up.

They spend over two hours in the grove going over defensive skills. Lexa gets involved, a small smirk finally twitching again at the corner of her lips as she teaches her students. Clarke, Raven and Octavia back off and let her work with each one, let her get back to her roots, back to what always gave her joy.

It’s a sight that seems to bring new life to all of them, it’s fresh air cleansing their lungs, and it’s a beat that their hearts were missing. Clarke holds back the first happy tears she’s shed since she got Kai back as Lexa catches her fond looks in subtle glances, forgiveness and thanks etched in the silence between them.

By lunch, Lexa is speaking more freely, feeling lighter than she has in two weeks. It’s bittersweet, knowing there are missing faces from the group, but Lexa has finally gotten back up after getting knocked down.

All because of Clarke.


 

That evening, Lexa requests Clarke’s presence after dinner in their quarters. It is a second before Clarke enters the space after saying goodnight to the natblida that she feels Lexa reaching for her through the door. She shuts her eyes for a moment allowing her wife’s emotions and love encompass her before sinking in and touching her heart. She missed it desperately and can’t stop the tear that rolls down her cheek. She takes a shaky, grateful, emotionally charged breath and opens to the door to find the room lit with soft flickering candlelight and a soothing aroma wafting from the bathroom.

There, she finds Lexa, robed and putting the final touches, flower pedals in the steaming bath she’s drawn. She smiles softly when she sees Clarke standing in the doorway gazing at her with tender affection. It’s silent for a moment before Clarke cross the threshold and lands in Lexa’s arms pulling her body as close as she can manage and hiding her nose in the crook of her wife’s neck.

“I thought I lost you,” Clarke murmurs knowing that Lexa has lowered the walls and crawled out of her shell, let Heda finally find some rest.

Lexa holds her just as tightly, her own nose burying itself in Clarke’s hair and breathing deep. “I’m sorry, Clarke. I’m here. I’m back.”

Clarke simply nods against her, sniffling as she does so. Finally, they separate and Lexa offers the bath with a gesture of her hand, “Beja, join me?”

Clarke nods through soft eyes, the alternative never crossing her mind, “Of course.”

Lexa helps Clarke remove her clothes before they both get in the bath, Clarke leaning back into Lexa’s chest. For a long time, no bathing is actually done; it’s simply the two of them enjoying the soft silence and presence of each other. The skin-to-skin contact is a therapy like no other, a closeness that finds its way to their various hidden wounds and stitching them closed.

And when Clarke finally rises from the tub, her hand coming out to help Lexa rise, like so many times before, things are finally beginning to feel a little more right with the world. They leave little space between them as they dry off and head to the bedroom. Clarke crawling under the furs and turning on her right side to face Lexa as she mimics her position.

Their hands entwine between them as the others find their way to each other’s bodies. Lexa’s hand trailing Clarke’s soft curves, drawing indescribable patters on her side. Clarke’s hand sparking it’s way along Lexa’s toned arm and over her shoulder to play with the baby hairs on her neck.

Hours pass before either of them moves any more than that and it is Lexa that moves first. Her hand travels up Clarke’s back, weaving into her hair and pulling their heads together. She kisses her forehead, lingering her lips in a loving way before tilting her head and finding waiting, pliable lips.

From there, passion takes over. A need they both have felt for days, the desire to feel anything but what they had been for so many days before, and a love that continues to burn in the face of constant storms driving them forward and running away with them. In this bed, in this room at the top of the tower, they become lost in each other. No one exists outside this world, there is no Heda, no Wanheda, no duty or people to care for other then themselves.

Just houmons reintroducing themselves. Rising from the ashes to soar high above the storm clouds, together.

Finding home again.

Chapter Text


The other night proved to be healing to both Clarke and Lexa; things are much better. They are finally speaking to each other a little more freely, less guarded than before.

Lexa's slowly coming out of her shell again; attending lessons and training with the natblida regularly, Heda and Lexa becoming their balanced self once more.

The only thing is, she still feels off; she feels an odd sense of foreboding that refuses to leave her. She considers it being due to the tasks she set before herself that she has yet to complete, the most prominent being killing Ontari.

Sometimes, on the tower roof meditating she will find herself trying to distance herself from the situation completely, if only to find an escape, to find a little silence from her own mind. The constant threats, the stress, and the exhaustion are also causing her mind not to rest when she sleeps and she hasn't told anyone exactly what kind of dreams plague her.

For many nights, after the city was attacked, it was nightmarish memories of loss. And then, since Clarke and Lexa reconciled and found their way back to each other, as soon as she felt the littlest bit lighter, the dreams shifted.

Lexa wakes at odd times during the nights, forcing herself to escape her newfound nightmares. Nightmares from memories she's never experienced before, touched by a life she knows nothing about, doesn't recognize in the slightest. She wakes, only to fall back into the dream minutes later, when she can fall back to sleep at all that is.

Lexa's experienced many dream memories before, some through the commanders before her, and of course through Alex, but these feel different in a way she isn't quite sure how to articulate. It seems she falls asleep with Clarke, only for her mind to wander elsewhere, to connect to someone she knows relatively nothing about, other than what she learns in glimpses. It's always brief, she's never there for long, but travels in and out. Her dream memories before seemed to make sense, to take her on a path to understanding, last longer, but these ones, these do nothing of the sort. They're a jumbled mess, no timeline to follow, no rules to the images she's experiencing and never happening all in one shot, no, to make matters better, she falls in and out of the images to a blank black space multiple times throughout a night.

If it weren't for the intense emotions the dreams pull from her she would consider a large part of these nightmares to be the product of her worrisome imagination, which only makes this all the more confusing to her. Though she doesn't understand, she feels the emotions like they are her own. At the very least, she can empathize with the pain and fear she's experiencing. Can empathize with the need for understanding, for comfort, and for human contact.

That she understands very well.

But It is one particular evening of such nightmares that Lexa can't take it anymore. One particular evening where she refuses to be taken any further, to lose what little control she feels she has left.

One evening, where she and heda fight back.

She forces herself to get a grip, to try and steer the direction of the dream to pull her mind back. Slowly, she begins to feel the separation; feels her vision become like a tunnel until all around her is black except for a light at the end and the silhouette of a young woman within it.

Lexa begins to look around wildly for any other markers other than the woman and the light. She begins to hear strange music, a song she's never heard before, a song that she finds herself drawing comfort from regardless. She looks back to the woman, who also seems to be experiencing and doing the same thing.

Even from this distance, Lexa can sense her confusion, and it makes her pause in thought.

If she is as confused as Lexa, she wasn't the one controlling this, and if she wasn't calling out to Lexa then Lexa must have been calling out to her. But why? And how? How do you call to someone you don't even know exists, how is she able to contact someone, through whatever means, without knowing who they even are...

Lexa tries to call out to her just as a gust of wind steals her voice. She braces against the force of the wind before trying to push forwards. She bows her head, raises her left arm in front of her face and pushes onwards. She struggles for every inch.

The wind quickens and pushes harder against her the farther she gets. It drowns out the whispers and music and she blinks against her now very dry eye lids. She peeks out periodically behind her arm to find the woman getting closer, mirroring her movements.

Every step they take the wind pushes harder; inexplicably, instead of sucking the woman towards her, it seems to be pushing against her as well. Lexa doesn't understand but refuses to leave her, refuses to leave not knowing at least something new, to understand even in the littlest bit.

Lexa shouts again, her voice seemingly being thrown back at her as it echoes in her ears, "Who are you?" And then she surprises herself, worrying in a way you would for someone you cared for all your life, "Are you okay?"

She feels the pull of the woman and the push of the wind, like she's not supposed to be here, but has to be.

It gets more forceful, more insistent that she leave the closer they get, she peeks out again and her eyes widen. She stops moving the same very instant the wind stops its violent push; Lexa reacts very little, her confusion fading minutely as she peers upon the terrified face of herself, only a few years younger and wearing modern clothes.

Alternatively, the other her, is thrown off by just about everything. She, most definitely, reacts.

Lexa sees it rapidly take over her features; it’s in the way her eyes widen and lock on her face before taking in the form before her in entirety. Her mouth drops and she loses her words as a fresh fear steals her voice. The younger woman doesn't understand, has clearly never experienced something like this, it is evident in her mannerisms. As her panic floods her, Lexa finds she is reaching out in hopes to ground the both of them, but before she can touch her arm the woman pulls back.

"Wait!" Lexa shouts out before she can stop herself. "Please! I need to know who you are!" She rushes forward just as the wind picks up again and the other her stumbles away out of her reach. Lexa tries to brace against the wind just as the surroundings begin to shake violently. She finds she's being pushed backwards more forcefully than before; she grits her teeth and forces herself forwards again, chasing after the woman who keeps trying to stagger away in fear as she too is being sucked back in the direction she came.

In her stubborn determination Lexa pushes on, following the other her, needing to know what life she is from, why she's found her now, why she seems as confused as Lexa in this situation.

The only conclusion Lexa can make at the moment is that this woman lives; this is not a past life she’s touched or been touched by, this is different.

Before, her other lives, past lives, drove her dreams, they were the ones who contacted her, but this seems different. It’s never occurred like this, seemingly by accident. The other her doesn't seem to know her; seems afraid of seeing her even. It is abundantly clear that she had little to do with this contact. Lexa doesn't understand. She calls out again before the woman begins to run full tilt towards the light. Just as she disappears through it, Lexa lets out a startled scream as she is violently pulled backwards in the opposite direction and out of the tunnel.

She wakes, bolting upright in bed with a now rough strangled scream; part frustration, part shock. She pants heavily as the strong, warm arms immediately encompass her and soft hands stroke her hair and back in hopes to soothe her.

“Clarke,” Lexa shudders out, trying to snap out of it. Coming home, finding her centre with her wife again.

"Lexa?" Clarke says, both concerned and cooing, in a way only she can, "You're okay. I'm here. You're safe."

Lexa sinks into Clarke's embrace, her clammy skin slightly sticking against Clarke's warm body. She slowly catches her breath before she can even try to open her eyes. Simply feeling grounded again, safe in Clarke's arms is all she needs. Clarke doesn't try to push anything out of her, she just patiently waits for her wife to come back to reality.

This isn’t the first time this has happened after all. It’s a common occurrence for the both of them, just occasionally with them each in opposite rolls.

Finally, Lexa pulls back, rises from the bed wordlessly and heads to the bathroom. She washes and changes into fresh clothes, now clothed for the day even though the sun has yet to rise because she knows she will not succumb to sleep again tonight.

When she leaves the bathroom, she finds a few candles lit on the bedside tables and Clarke, puffy eyed and sitting cross-legged on the bed, watching her with concern.

"Better?" She asks lightly.

Lexa nods slowly and sighs, "Some." She comes to the side of the bed and strokes Clarke's cheek before kissing her forehead and bringing her body closer. Clarke remains sitting, only now leaning forward slightly to lay her head on Lexa's chest, instantly sighing when she hears the now steady rhythm of her heart has returned.

“Who was it?” Clarke's muffled question comes out. Obviously picking up on Lexa’s emotions and knowing this wasn’t as simple as a nightmare. Knowing, to cause this reaction, the intensity of the flux of feelings alone, had to be caused by something more.

"I'm not exactly sure..." Is all Lexa can offer. She sighs, "I'm still trying to make sense of it." She begins to explain what she experienced to her wife, the wind, the tunnel, the emotions Clarke could feel coming off of her, and finally, the other her. “I think… I think I was the one who reached out to her. She didn’t seem to understand what was happening either."

"You spoke to her?"

"No, not really. I tried to but she never answered, she ran. Perhaps, I am a coward in another life."

Clarke snorts and leans back to look at her skeptically, her thumbs caressing Lexa's lower back, "No. You could never be a coward." She says it so firmly, so heavy in belief, that Lexa doesn't argue with her, finds she hears the double meaning whether Clarke meant it that way or not, she hears the omitted 'in any life.' Lexa gives Clarke a small smile before kissing her head in silent thanks.

“When you reach out to Elyza what is it like?” Lexa asks coming to sit beside Clarke again.

Clarke looks off into the candles flame, she is silent a few moments before she figures out how to answer. “At first, it’s black, I can’t see anything. Then, it’s emotions that pull me towards her, like I can locate her, really feel her almost. Then, it’s silence before I see a bright light and blink to look out of her eyes…or her mind…I’m not really certain on that part.”

Lexa is silent for a moment in thought, brow furrowed. what Clarke describes is somewhat like her own experience tonight, only Clarke’s was more controlled. She tilts her head as she looks at her wife, “Clarke, I think I reached the me from Elyza’s world.”

“How?” Clarke’s brows knit together, “We don’t know anything about her. I was only able to find Elyza after I met Claire in the veil.”

Lexa nods, “I know. That part I do not understand.”

“It started the other night didn’t it?” Clarke says squeezing her hand.

“Yes. Only tonight was different, I was continuously moving in and out of that void over the last few nights, I grew frustrated and…” she pauses reassessing the situation briefly, “it’s almost as if I pulled the both of us into the black void, the tunnel," she tries to explain. Her voice is thick with thought and wonderment when she finishes.

Clarke lets out a long-winded breath through her lips, unsure where to go from here. Confused of how Lexa found this other her, she thinks she may need to talk with, “Claire,” Clarke says out loud. “She may be able to help make sense of it.”

Lexa nods slowly, “You can try later, Clarke. For now, rest, I know you have not had a restful sleep either. We have a long day ahead. There will be time.”

“Lexa,” Clarke says softly, surely about to insist they do this now. Lexa hushes her with a finger to her lips, “Rest niron, I’m okay. I just need some air.”

Clarke looks at her for a few moments before nodding and letting Lexa tuck her in again in the bed. After a lingering kiss to her lips, Lexa heads for the door. Clarke's slowly fading into a light slumber when she looks back and Lexa whispers her promise, "I'll see you for breakfast," she smiles again before leaving the room.

After she leaves, she doesn’t know that Clarke rises and pulls the radio out to wait for the hour she told Ontari she’d contact her this morning. Lexa doesn't see her Brow furrowed in thought, heart a little heavy again with worry, and guilt written all over her posture.


 

Lexa walks the dimly lit halls; this time, instead of going up, she is heading down the tower towards the kitchens where she’s sure the cooks are already awake and baking breads for the day. Before she can reach them however, she begins to hear a rush of sound that draws her attention. She follows the sound to find the source being music blared from the mechanics workshop.

She tilts her head with a small smile as she opens the door, she hears raven's voice singing along to the lyrics. It would seem Raven is also experiencing a little trouble with sleeping through the night.

Lexa cringes against the bass drumming in her ears and closes the distance to the Rover; she kicks at the pair of legs that are hanging out from under the rig. Lexa hears a dull thud and then a slur of curses as Raven is pulling herself out from under it. She appears on her rolling board, rubbing her head looking a little miffed.

She can clearly hear the mechanics words but feigns that she can’t over the raging music from the Rover; she raises her hands apologetically gesturing to the vehicle. Raven cocks her brow before hitting a switch on the remote in her pocket.

“I hope you have a good reason for that,” Raven says sternly, “I love that song,” she ends, laughing at Lexa’s brief look of shock.

Lexa rubs her forehead and rolls her eyes at her friend. “Good morning to you too.”

“IS it technically morning without the sun being up? I prefer to think not.” Raven says wiping her hands as Lexa helps her up, “Can’t sleep?”

Lexa shakes her head solemnly, offering nothing more than that.

Turns out, that's all Raven needs, she nods in understanding, “Yeah. Me too.”

She catches Lexa’s eyes and in them, Lexa can see a brief window of vulnerability from her friend, usually so carefully hidden behind her lighthearted demeanor and crude jokes. She puts her hand on Raven’s shoulder and squeezes in support before she feels herself pull her into a hug.

They cling to each other for a few moments, Lexa finding comfort in giving and receiving the embrace from her friend. It's been a rough few weeks and she doesn't feel it's quite over yet.

“Thanks,” Raven says, finally pulling out of the embrace, looking somewhat thrown by not being able to find her normally explosively fun temperament.

She's been hiding it well but She’s been struggling lately, haunted by the scene in the throne room and all the loss. Struggling to sleep, her mind tired but finding it’s way into falling into someone else’s dreams; occasionally it was Octavia’s beside her in bed, dreaming of the village and running as a wolf (the first time it happened she almost went to pee outside the next morning). Sometimes, it’s one of the natblida’s or one of the many people inhabiting the tower. She’s having a hard time guarding and keeping her mind blank like Beland taught her. She blames the stress and the lack of sleep that keep perpetuating the cycle.

They don’t talk about what’s keeping them awake, at least at first. They tinker on the Rover, Raven making adjustments and repairs and guiding Lexa as she assists her. They get lost in the work, minds drifting in and out of focus, bodies moving as if on their own. For a while, it's quiet, it's therapeutic and a small escape.

But all too soon Lexa's mind begins to dwell on her troubles once again. It goes on for a little while before it finally can't be ignored and Raven speaks.

“You know, I prefer when Clarke hangs out with me when she’s troubled, she at least blocks me from listening to her mind, leaves me to my own dark and twisty thoughts," Raven mutters.

Lexa’s mouth gapes as she looks at her sideways, “Sorry. I didn't realize what I was doing. I have a lot on my mind.”

Raven shrugs and smirks at the apology, "I can tell. So... you think you met the other you? The one from Pheonix and Elyza’s world.” Oddly, this topic seems to lift her spirits and she sounds a little excited. At the very least, intrigued by the possibility.

“Does it really count as meeting if you never learn each others names and one of you runs away?”

Raven laughs, a real laugh she hasn't heard herself make in weeks, “Okay, ‘meeting’ may have been generous.”

Lexa grins back as she turns the screw driver in her hand, “...While we’re on the subject, do you have any idea how I am able to reach her without knowing anything about her?”

Raven’s mouth purses as she thinks, her brain going over what she knows, what they’ve learned, and what she hypothesizes based on that.

“I think…” she trails off before starting once more, “maybe because you are aware that this world exists now, you were able to bridge the gap? If what Claire says about our souls is true, then you’re as connected to her as Clarke is to Elyza, it’s just Clarke knows specifically where she can find Elyza, knows how to find her. Lexa, You’re just as strong as Clarke is, your mind is powerful too, you found her without realizing you were searching. My educated guess is that you caused this to happen, but for you to stand face to face with her, even if it was through your mind could mean she was reaching out without knowing it too..."

Lexa nods slowly, “Maybe…” she’s a little disappointed that she still doesn’t have an exact answer. She wishes Alex were still around so she could question her.

She feels lost, unguided, unsure of how to be the guide if that is truly the position she is in now in regards to the other her. Then again, maybe we are meant to guide each other.

“Hey,” Raven interrupts her thoughts, “Knock it off. Let’s take a break, you guys are heading out to Bluecliff today right? Bringing home baby?”

Lexa rolls her eyes and let's out a sigh, her shoulders heavy, "It’s not exactly a joyous moment Raven. I am literally having to break the very rules for the changes to the conclave I just made. That baby should not be coming to Polis this young. I will have to forcibly remove him from his family, his mother, his people…”

Raven puts a hand on her shoulder, “These are extenuating circumstances though, you don’t really have another choice that won’t involve blood spilling. You're trying to prevent anything from happening in the future!"

“We still don’t know for sure that no blood will be spilled in doing this.”

Raven sighs, knowing in her mind there's someone they could potentially tell them exactly how this will end, but she knows she's in no position to propose it. Lexa doesn't know that Raven is helping Clarke walk both lines of this war. Her guilt swells as she sees the troubled look take over Lexa's face, she hates it. All of it. They all need a break. They deserve it.

Lexa deserves it.

"Raven?" Lexa questions when she doesn't respond.

"Sorry, just a lot in my head too. I know we don't know what's going to happen today, Which is why I said we should take a break. Come on, let’s take the ole’ girl out for a ride.” She points her thumb in the direction of the rover with a glint in her eye.

Lexa can't argue with Raven on this, they do need a break. All she wants right now is a little reprieve, a little freedom, a little air; a light moment with her best friend, a chance to forget it all just for a moment like she can with Clarke. Lexa smirks, “Thought you meant Octavia for a second there.”

Raven laughs and opens the driver’s side door, “I see my sense of humour is rubbing off on you, let’s see if my driving skills have.”

Lexa hesitates before nodding. Raven does make driving look like fun, how hard could it be? She hops in and Raven slams the door before hopping in the passenger side. She hits the button for the large door she jimmy rigged back together after the attack.


 

“No, she's not changing her mind,” Clarke says in to the radio. She's tired and hunched over rubbing her eyelids.

"I am disappointed in you, Clarke. I thought you would be able to do this,” Ontari’s voice crackles through the speaker.

Clarke sighs before clicking to respond, “Look, the sectors are being double searched for both you and the vaults, so you better hope to have a good hiding spot. If they find you, they'll take you by whatever means, and then she will kill you.”

“They will not find me and if they find any of my own search teams, they will die…”

“No. You don’t have to have your teams fight with them, Lexa doesn't want their blood, just yours. Just tell them not to engage! To stay hidden!"

“Azgeda will remain as unseen as possible, but if they are found, your people will die. We have to keep up appearances after all, can’t have word getting back to Lexa that we backed down when our peace offer was foolishly thrown in our face. She would grow suspicious of another Natrona in her midst...” Her voice had begun with a lilt to it but ended with bitterness that Clarke could almost taste herself. She didn't miss the hidden dig at herself when Ontari mentioned a traitor, for she is it in a way, and she has accomplices. She sighs heavily as her anger bubbles, then steams over and wanheda is reacting with Clarke internally clapping for her.

“Can you really blame her?” Clarke growls with a venom of her own, unable to sit by and not defend her wife’s decision, or even her own. “You broke into her city, massacred children, destroyed half of Polis and two neighboring villages before using her daughter as bait to broker a truce behind her back with her wife! She doesn’t trust you and never will!” She doesn’t deserve it, Clarke thinks, wondering if she even deserves that trust anymore… so torn between doing what is right for all of them and doing what is right by her wife.

“We want the same things, Clarke." Ontari's voice is calm once more, almost soothing now, and Clarke's disgusted that she finds a little comfort in it, "Lexa will come to see it eventually.” Hearing someone agree with her decision was something she didn't know she needed.

It's funny how when you are broken down you become weak for even the smallest bit of understanding or comfort, even in the entirely wrong places. All because you made a decision alone, forced friends into the same position, and now it's slowly eating you from the inside out.

"You keep saying that but you don't explain how you know," Clarke replies, forcing herself to remember who the fuck this bitch is. Reminding herself that not so very long ago, the things Ontari wanted were the very throne Lexa sits on and the right to lead, when clarke and Lexa simply want to live in peace together, throne and duty long forgotten.

With nothing more owed to their people. To anyone but themselves.

All Ontari says again is, "she will see it, Clarke."

They plan to share information, that was the deal, yet Ontari continues to hide information. Clarke's not naive, she knows to be careful with what is shared and what is withheld. It's just good practice when dealing with someone you aren't certain you should trust. So She doesn’t tell Ontari of their plans to leave the city today for Bluecliff, she doesn’t inform her that their sectors intersect, that the chance of their people running into each other are higher than ontari suspects.

She swallows her anger and resentment, her current distaste for herself, for this whole shitty fucked up situation, wanting nothing more right now than to get this over with, “In two days. I’ll contact you again.”

"Wanheda, beware of the cliffs..." Ontari's voice, thick with warning crackles through before the transmission ends. Clarke's eyes widen, her words, the message is too specific, too coincidental for her to ignore.

She's not sure how, but Ontari knows Lexa and her will travel to bluecliff today.


 

So, it turns out driving is a lot more difficult than Raven made it look.

“Jesus,” Raven says, wiping her mouth and sitting back down in her seat after spilling her guts out the window for the second time. “I’m getting sea sick in a fucking jeep on land, with you… I can’t fucking believe," she says dramatically.

“Well stop swearing and help me,” Lexa shouts at her, white knuckled grip glued to the steering wheel. Heda's side eye glare very evident.


Raven eyes her form, “Well, first of all, you need to chill the fuck out.” She flicks the switch to the radio and music rushes out, she adjusts the volume to a reasonable level. The Beatles, hey Jude, crackling out of the speakers.

"Relax your grip, don't sit so rigid and tense, this baby won't break and neither will you." She stops and watches Lexa try what she says, she chuckles, "try one foot controlling the gas and break instead of two... No use the right leg. There ya go." Lexa switches and the rover begins to roll along more fluidly, Ravens stomachs stops doing somersaults.

Lexa's grin widens and her head begins to bob and weave to the song. Inspired by the moment, Raven pushes on her right leg a little bit pushing enough so Lexa gets the hint to go a little faster. Raven turns the volume up and starts belting out the song.

They play it two more times before Lexa joins in, word for word, left arm crooked on the door frame, relaxed and exhilarated all at once.

Free.

By the time they head back towards the city gates, Lexa has gotten brazen in her driving. The grass by the tree line is tore up from doing doughnuts, a rapper named drake is blaring from the radio and her smile is as wide as the field before her.

Raven threw up again, but this time she didn't mind. It's their little secret that Lexa is a badass behind the wheel.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

It didn’t take long for Clarke to find out about Lexa’s experience behind the wheel of the rover. She hates that machine, she doesn’t trust it, she doesn’t know why exactly; perhaps, it reminds her of the metal tin confines of the ark, maybe it’s the gigantic machine gun mounted on the hood, maybe it’s the danger and speed the beast screams in appearance alone. Regardless, whenever she thinks of the four-wheeled monstrosity she has a foreboding feeling, a desire to keep Lexa away from it. Far away from it.

 

But it’s impossible for Lexa or Raven to hide their adrenaline filled morning, or the doughnuts in the field, or the smile that’s plastered to their faces as Clarke finds them at breakfast.

 

Their little secret lasted all of five minutes.

 

Lexa got plenty of stern looks but little could be said from Clarke when the experience had lightened her spirits so much. Raven took the brunt of it, because of course, it was her idea. She got an earful to say the least, but after a long… discussion (one sided) on keeping Lexa safe Clarke finished it with a kiss on her cheek, a tight hug that Raven will feel for the next hour, and a murmur of thanks for helping Lexa.

 

Breakfast was an okay affair after that. Everyone conveniently ignoring what was occurring today, trying to forget where some of them were headed, what some of them had to do. That is, until they were saying goodbye to their loved ones. They could not ignore what lay before them any longer, could not put it off, were forced to set off. It started with Kai, sitting on Lexa’s lap and playing with her dagger, “Can’t I come too?”

 

“No,” just about every adult close to her responded together before Kai dropped the dagger slowly and raised her hands in surrender, “sheesh, I was just asking. I love tiny humans.”

 

“You are a tiny human,” Raven points out.

 

Kai gives her a challenging look, “Okay, humans that are tinier than me.”

 

“Why not just say babies?” Octavia asks, though it comes out muffled, fighting it’s way through a gigantic piece of bread Clarke’s sure she hasn’t chewed.

 

Raven tries to save them all the view by holding her hand in front of Octavia’s mouth, while Luna answers, “because going to an enemy village and taking a tiny human sounds better than going into an enemy village and taking a baby.”

 

A hunk of bread hits Luna in the forehead before the table turns to look at Lexa who threw it, “What?” Luna says glancing at Raven and back to Lexa, shrugging she says, “it’s true.” Raven nods as if to say, ‘exactly’.

 

“I think the assault by bread means stop teaching Kai your terminology,” Octavia says, chewing finally and displaying it all for them, Raven’s hands no longer hiding it.

 

“I’d rather the assault of flying bread versus the view of you assaulting that piece in your mouth,” Clarke groans, “Jesus O, the seven year old has better table manners than you!”

 

Octavia grins as she swallows a huge glass of water, “there’s not exactly a table in the forest for the four-legged,” she tries to defend.

 

“Well you’ve only got two at the moment so nice try,” Lexa quips, a tight smile on her face.

 

Sha, heda’s,” Octavia says dramatically to soft chuckles from the group.

 

It’s short lived, but relished in, because, moments later, the original conversation comes back to their minds and the group falls quiet as they think about the baby tiny human they plan to take…

 

It doesn’t matter what they call him, they all feel the weight of the truth.


 

 

Clarke's been on edge since before they left Polis, before they sat down for breakfast, ever since the moment Ontari not so subtly stated her knowledge of their travels today. She rides rigid in her saddle on top Daedalus, her usual joy and sense of freedom on top her strong steed lacking today.

 

Lexa rides beside her, straight backed and shoulders tight. Ryder flanks them with Beland while the two wolves run ahead as scouts. Raven stayed behind in the city with the Natblida, Luna, Ziva and Zora, who made the trip back to keep her company and help keep an eye on things while the leaders were absent.

 

They don’t want to be caught off guard again.

 

The sun beats down overhead through clear blue skies, but the mood is anything but as bright and cheerful as the weather.

 

While Clarke is preoccupied with being concerned about Ontari knowing where they are heading, Lexa and the rest of the party are on edge for other reasons, though they happen to relate. They watch the route carefully, taking note of their surroundings and varying their speeds to prevent ambushes. The wolves smelling for threats ahead and doubling back to give the all clear to continue forward.

 

They all fear what could take place when they arrive in the village that houses the boy, the village where Ambrose was born, and the village Lexa knew well before she was called to lead.

 

Clarke knows Lexa hasn’t been there in years. They’ve spoke about Ambrose a few times, she knows she knew him while she was younger, spent some of her adolescence with him, went to war with him, fought alongside him. She hasn’t been back since she became Heda and Clarke knows she is concerned with appearing there now for a multitude of reasons; the most pressing, to remove a child from its home, something she had just worked tirelessly to prevent ever happening again. Clarke understands what she’s feeling coming off of Lexa and she is very careful to acknowledge it without drawing attention.

 

To give Lexa the support she needs, even in silence.

 

They catch each other’s glances occasionally, eyes full of understanding as much as troubles. They don’t speak of what’s to come, they’ve talked that subject to death already in Polis, all that is left to do now is follow through.

 

That is, until Octavia comes flying back to the group still in wolf form, panting and staring from Beland to the leaders and snapping her teeth. The party automatically halts its progress and closes ranks.

 

“What is it?” Clarke questions, staring from Octavia to Beland who is clearly the only bridge they have to really understand her in this form without Raven present.

 

Beland furrows his brow and glances at Lexa before answering, “Azgeda. They caught the scent, a small party, the trails maybe an hour old.”

 

Clarke tenses, her fears coming to the forefront, a slight panic edging up her spine as she considers that Ontari has betrayed what little trust she and Clarke had built between each other, emphasis on the little. A part of her wonders if it’s simply one of the search parties Ontari sent out in search of the undead or the vaults, but a larger part thinks she’s rarely that lucky, thinks things never work out the way she means them too. (See a large majority of her life for proof.)

 

Clarke’s hopeful, not stupid. She ignores the voice that questions if they aren’t one and the same, and this time, the voice oddly reminds her of Elyza. She knows it’s not actually Elyza, she believes she’d sense her presence like she can with Claire, she somehow just knows it’s the connection she forced, the knot she made to tie their beings together.

 

Lexa, on the other hand, tenses for different reasons, for deadly reasons. Clarke can see it in her posture and definitely hear it in the slight growl that escapes her wife. She fears Lexa’s blind hatred for Ontari, her vow to end her fight, when she sees it, she fears it will overcome her sense of self and duty and cause her to go running off after a possible lead. To be impulsive, something Lexa or Heda rarely is.

 

Clarke swallows and catches Ryder’s glance, one that happens to look as concerned as she’s sure she does. Daedalus stamps his feet restlessly, Octavia ruffles her fur impatiently, and Clarke absentmindedly pats the horse’s neck to calm him while she desperately tries to think of how to defuse this situation.

 

“We should follow them,” Lexa’s stern voice breaks into the tension and everyone’s shoulders slump slightly, which Lexa does not miss. Before she addresses it, or rather, the person she is most concerned with hearing their thoughts, she looks at Ryder and Beland, “secure the perimeter,” she orders.

 

They nod to the command and head off to do as she said. Lexa turns her head to look at Clarke, “You disagree?” Her voice is both dangerous and accepting; she already knows the answer.

 

Clarke swallows hard, grimacing while she straightens her back and raising her chin to meet Lexa’s eyes, “Sha. I think we should continue on our course.”

 

“Ontari could be with them.“ Lexa eyes her carefully, while also trying to downplay her wishes to proceed this way. Clarke can tell she’s trying to hold her rage back, her heart both wanting to pursue this lead and wanting to remain on the same sense of purpose as her wife.

 

It’s a delicate situation; Clarke doesn’t blame her for her desires. Fuck, every time she speaks with Ontari she struggles with the same desires, whether to join her wife in pursuit of the woman’s blood they deserve, and the want to pursue this lead that could lead them all into peace down the road. She has that effect on people.

 

“I doubt she is with them or with a small party at all,” Clarke says, she hopes, “she knows you’ve marked her for death by now, surely.” She barely gets the sentence out, it’s truth hidden between the lines, for she was the one who informed her of the impending death sentence. She swallows thickly, trying to hide how uncomfortable she is, she is careful to not let Lexa feel anything off her but love. She may or may not be pulling a Clarke (she is) as she figured she promised she wouldn’t block Lexa out, she means to see that through, however, she never promised she’d let her feel everything all the time; plus, she figured, she knows Lexa has been doing the same in her own way, trying to keep her from sensing just how damaged she still is from everything.

 

“They are probably just scouts. If we follow them we risk the chance her knowing where we are, what we were planning to do today. Not to mention we’ve already come this far, Bluecliff scouts could have seen us by now and tipped off the village, if we delay longer we risk everything,” Clarke continues.

 

Lexa adjusts her jaw, clearly mulling over Clarke’s words, and trying to come back to see everything instead of just her desire for justice; for Ontari’s blood. Clarke remains silent as she watches her consider it all; she has faith that Lexa will listen to reason, that she’ll see their only path today should lead to Bluecliff, and then home.

 

Please, just let us get home, she thinks as her heart thumps in her chest to the tune of Lexa’s name.

 

Instinct takes over, her body moving on its own accord as Clarke urges Daedalus to move forward so she can reach out and place her hand on top of her wife’s. Lexa’s gaze slowly falls from her wife’s to their hands. It’s a few seconds before Lexa adjusts her hand to properly hold Clarke’s, their thumbs softly rubbing soothing circles on their wrists.

 

Now, Lexa looks up to the blue eyes she loves so much, the eyes that remind her of home, “You are right. We should continue on.”

 

Clarke nods, though a look of concern unable to leave her face because she can see how difficult this decision was for Lexa, and that worries her. It shouldn’t have been that hard of a choice, it is a clear indication that though Lexa is coming back to herself, she is still a little misguided, a little torn between her head and heart. Torn between the want to make Ontari pay for her crimes and the need to do what is right for their people, not unlike how Clarke is torn between doing right by Lexa and doing right by everyone.

 

Clearly able to see her concern, Lexa lifts their entwined hands to kiss the back of Clarke’s before flipping it and kissing her palm with lips that linger.

 

Clarke gives her wife a small smile to match the one Lexa gives her before she nods and Lexa lets out a loud whistle calling their party back to them. A few moments longer and they are back in position awaiting their orders. Lexa nods at Clarke before kicking Icarus into motion again, Clarke mirroring her motions.

 

We can do this. As long as we are together, everything will be fine; she lets out a long tight breath in hopes to relax a little. She can’t go in to Bluecliff all worked up, getting worked up means the Wanheda part of her will come out, she’s not sure they want that; the baby making her believe this is a situation for Clarke.

 

Kom Bluecliff,” Lexa orders and they pick up their speed.


 

The party continued on through the morning at a quick pace, never stopping a second time until they reach the outskirts of the village. They gather, dismounting their steeds and the wolves sit close by, waiting for their orders.

 

They have not seen a soul. It has Wanheda and Heda coiling protectively, ready for anything.

 

“We should have seen someone by now,” Clarke says as though it’s a question.

 

Lexa nods, “sha, a scout at the very least.” She looks at the wolves and then Beland, “They smell no one?”

 

Beland shakes his head, “no one…”

 

“How is that possible? They should expect something in response to the attack on Polis.”

 

Lexa’s brows knit together in thought, “there could be many reasons…” she pauses, “I can only assume they’ve have pulled all their forces back, consolidated to show their strength. They await us in the village.” That’s why Lexa brought so few with her, to show their strength. Lexa doesn’t need an army.

 

She needs Clarke.

 

And she has her.

 

Clarke has a thought and looks to Beland, “Can you reach out, can you listen for the closest person? Find out if they’re waiting for us?”

 

“I can try,” he says and closes his eyes, the rest of the party looking around nervously. Clarke is holding her breath without realizing it. All she wants is for this to go smoothly. She doesn’t want things to get out of hand; she doesn’t want things to get any worse. She doesn’t think they could handle that. Not right now.

 

Beland opens his eyes slowly and connects with Clarke, he shakes his head, “No one within range.”

 

Clarke sighs heavily, nodding her thanks for his efforts and looking to Lexa, “What do you think?”

 

Lexa does something Clarke doesn’t expect, she smirks after a second of looking at her wife and tilts her head, “…I have an idea.”

 

Clarke turns her head in curiosity, her brain immediately trying to pick up on why she feels both pride and a sense of excitement from her wife. She’d be lying if she said she wasn’t slightly concerned, especially when considering how somewhat unpredictable Lexa has been of late.

 

Something she rarely is, at least, to Clarke.

 


The flagship village of bluecliff, sits perched high on a blue cliff of a crater caused by the bombs and some mineral in the rocky earth that reacted to the heat.

 

As it turns out, they did want Wanheda to enter the village. A last resort if need be.

 

Clarke’s got to hand it to her; Lexa’s plan is a good one. She just hopes it’s enough to convince Bluecliff where their best interests lie. She heads off with Ryder and Beland, who will cover them with their arrows. They bid her a ‘ste yuj’ each, which she returns, before she is separating from them as well to get into her position.

 

Once settled in her crouch, one knee touching the earth, she takes a deep breath, fingertips grazing the ground as she tries to relax her tense muscles. There, waiting in the wings, hidden by trees, she hopes this works they way they plan.

 

When she hears the whistle, she steps out of the crouch and into the very edge of the village dwellings. Clarke sparks the flames and they shoot out of her palms to slowly spread in a thick wall to encircle the village. The energy hums within her as she grins, basked in the flare of the light, where she watches Lexa spark her own light and shroud her and the wolves within it.

 

Her wife walks at an intimidating pace; a true embodiment of the ‘throw me to the wolves, and I’ll return leading the pack,’ as she walks in the middle of the two wolves, a bright white light surrounding them, blinding even in the midday sun. She stalks the ground, owning every inch, Heda matching the wolves wide gait stride for stride.

 

Lexa shows no fear. No weakness.

 

Right now, she’s a wolf herself, walking on two legs.

 

She leads them safely through the wall of flames to greet what appears to be the entire village that has come to see what the commotion is. They stand in awe of the flames and the scene of heda, flanked by wolves, untouched as she walks through the fire.

 

The shouts of Heda, slowly break out across the crowd, the questions of where her ghost wife is follow, then, directions to keep an eye out for Wanheda. Their voices are fearful, shocked and questioning. No one makes any aggressive moves forward; they simply stand on guard now, weapons raised, and prepared for an attack.

 

Lexa waits, eyeing the situation carefully, calculating the numbers of threats before she lets her shield down and she speaks. When she opens her mouth a rush of energy, like a gust of wind, shoots out as she yells causing the people before her to tremble and stumble in its wake.

 

Kru kom Bluecliff, the leader you foolishly chose to follow has fallen! Ambrose’s fight has ended in his search for the throne; betrayed by Azgeda before he could do the same! He fell by The Winter Queen’s hand! He was not worthy to try for the throne! It is not his birthright!”

 

No one shouts out, not one person seems to breathe at the news as she continues. Clarke can’t tell if it’s because some Bluecliff returned to inform them, or if they are simply shocked by the news. She didn’t miss Lexa’s emphasis on the whole his birthright thing, but it seems the people around Lexa have.

 

I offer you today the chance to see your people survive this! His blood soaks the Polis streets, his ashes taken away with the wind; we need no more of yours! You can kneel, you can have a leader chosen for you from your numbers, and you will be admitted into the coalition where you belong!” she lets the offer hang in the air, here eyes scanning the crowd in search of something, or someone.

 

“You will surrender the natblida, that is the only blood we seek today; fail to do so and the clans of the coalition will declare war with Bluecliff!” she finally adds the condition tied to what she offers.

 

As expected, shouts erupt at the mention of the child and of war. Word has spread of the conclave changes, the mood shift from fearful to angry. It shifts again from anger to rage as they consider the threat of being at war with more than Polis.

 

Clarke works to breathe slow as she watches, tightening the flames circle as she moves a little closer at the sense of threat.

 

The wolves growl threateningly and Lexa stands firm, “Surrender the child, kneel, and live to see tomorrow’s dawn! This is not a negotiation.”

 

Mob mentality is a weird beast in both human and animal nature. A beast Lexa did not take into account in her plan.

 

Because, all it takes is one.

 

One person to begin and the herd to follow.

 

So when one of the closest men shouts, “Gon we o wan op!” Leave or die! Clarke curses under her breath as Lexa narrows her eyes to the threat just as another shout rings out and another after that. Clarke is forced to drop the wall of flames and use them to move further inside the village in hopes to alleviate the threats from a different angle, to watch Lexa’s blind side.

 

Wamplei kom heda!” Death to the commander! A woman shouts out loud above the rest.

 

And then all hell breaks loose.

 

The first man, the one that started the shouting, rushes forward and an arrow flies through the air, piercing him right in the neck, dropping him at Lexa’s feet. She smirks as Heda’s mask is firmly set in place, eyes flaring at the blood, and she pulls her swords from her back with lightning speed.

 

Then Lexa becomes a blur of light and black clothes. Swords ring out, shouts continue and Lexa is unmerciful in those that threaten her.

 

The wolves pounce with her and Clarke lands in flames to run towards the fold. However, before she can get there, she finds a form in front of her causing Clarke to stop in her tracks. Her senses tingling, the baby hairs on her neck standing on end, she freezes uneasy.

 

It’s an older woman, hunched over slightly, and trying to remain upright against her walking stick that’s in her left hand. She leans on it heavily as Clarke’s eyes dart from Lexa, who is moving through the riotous crowd with deadly efficiency, and back to the old woman, wondering just what the fuck she is thinking. She finds the woman has been staring at her the entire time.

 

The woman catches her eyes, there’s a brief glint to them before she smiles; it’s unsettling amidst the chaos in the distance, and yet, somehow soothing, familiar.

 

Wanheda,” she says with a slight nod.

 

Clarke doesn’t respond, her mind racing and her heart beating wildly. Is this women meant to distract her?

 

Clarke,” the woman speaks again, this time slightly scolding sounding.

 

Clarke’s mouth drops slightly, knowing as heda, no one is to call her by her name unless given permission. She slowly turns her head to the side, her sword in hand but making no moves to use it, “Who are you? What do you want?” she urges in trig, torn between finding out what this woman wants and just using the flames to get beyond her. (She really doesn’t want to kill an old woman in cold blood.) She pushes closer to the woman, apparently her body had other plans.

 

The woman smiles a little wider, her wrinkled face crinkling and a twinkle to her eye. Her right arm slowly rises to point towards a small dwelling. Clarke’s eyes follow the direction before she feels a sharp thwack from the walking stick on her backside that causes her to take a step forward. Clarke looks back to give the old bitch a piece of her mind only to find the woman gone, vanished.

 

“No…” Clarke whispers, unsure of what the fuck is happening.

 

She looks around wildly for her before looking back at the building. She looks to the chaos, unable to see Lexa, but feeling her rage as if it were her own. She works to keep it separate from her own emotions so she’s able to think clearly.

 

“Fuck”, Clarke curses. Her instinct to trust her gut kicking in, she begins to run full tilt towards the hut.

 

 


 

 

Lexa moves fluidly through the barrage of weapons that flail around her. She was apprehensive of raising her weapons here, she wished she needn’t have to, but they gave her no choice. She told Clarke her wish to show strength in so few numbers was to demonstrate her lack of fear of Bluecliff, she hoped to inspire a fear in them that caused them to think twice about acting out against her again; but what she had not told Clarke, was that she was ready for the alternative.

 

Lexa was more than prepared to raise her weapons and use her energy if need be.

 

She was ready to do whatever necessary to do what is right for her people.

 

She plunges both blades into the chest of a man before she drops him to the ground like a sack of potatos. Octavia flies by her left, ripping the throat out of a woman who had caught Bill unawares. The giant grey wolf pads past her other side launching over Octavia and crushing the chest in a sickening crack as he lands on the next man.

 

Lexa ducks a spear, spins and cuts the legs out of another before finishing the turn to run the woman through as she followed through on her strike with the spear. Lexa growls as a blade slices her arm and she bends backwards to doge the next thrust of the closest warrior. With her legs bent at ninety degrees, she feels her back hit the warmth of fur before the beast is moving to force her up into the air; Lexa rolls in the momentum, her body floating gracefully, as she arches her blades and removes the man’s head from his body before she lands on her feet.

 

She grins at Octavia before the red wolf bounces off for her next kill.

 

Beland and Ryder have joined the fight, their arrows long gone and Clarke nowhere to be seen. Lexa can feel her, knows she’s close but also knows she is not fighting.

 

Her eyes widen, no, she senses Clarke’s desperation. It makes no sense and Lexa is forced from her mind as she uses her energy to push the forces back as they crowd her. She needs space. She needs to see better. She desperately tries not to call out for Clarke.

 

Fear has slowly begun to seep in.

 

Lexa pushes forwards, the desire to find her wife, the desire to stay alive driving her blades and body. “Beland!” she shouts as he ducks an errant arrow, “Clarke?”

 

He shakes his head, “I don’t see her, nor do I hear her!”

 

Heda!” Ryder’s voice cries out to her from her right, she finds him pointing in a direction to the south. “Wanheda!”

 

Lexa follows the direction he pointed and her breath catches for a moment in her throat.

 

Then, something inside Lexa clicks on, takes over, it’s heda and Lexa combined as the wind rushes out of her again in a blinding light and she shouts so loud it echoes. “EM PLENI!” Ripples of air sound off like percussions as she annunciates every syllable. They’re beating against everyone around her and causing the fighting to stop in its tracks as body after body goes flying to the Earth until the only ones standing are she and Clarke and those in the distance.

 

Lexa watches horrified as she takes in the scene of Clarke, standing alone, behind enemy lines, mere feet from the edge of the cliff. She hasn't turned around, she's focused on something in front of her.

 

And when she sees just what it is, Lexa's heart drops.

 

Right along with the body.

 

Followed by Clarke.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Previously...

Lexa watches horrified as she takes in the scene of Clarke, standing alone, behind enemy lines, mere feet from the edge of the cliff. She hasn't turned around; she's focused on something in front of her.

And when she sees just what it is, Lexa's heart drops.

Right along with the body.

Followed by Clarke.


 

A few minutes earlier...

Clarke runs full tilt towards the hut the mysterious old woman had directed her to, unsure why exactly she finds she trusts her direction, her silent urgency.  Clarke pushes her feet faster, a weird sense of time starting to weigh on her, the sting of the woman’s walking stick still fresh on her mind and ass.

Everything seemingly, to imposing an unknown time limit. 

She forces her mind to focus; she blocks out all but the hut before her, letting her instincts drive her. Trusting herself, trusting Wanheda, like she knows she should.

 Clarke kicks down the wooden door before bolting inside, sword held at the ready, prepared to attack or defend.

Hod op!” She shouts, stretching out an arm, when she sees the thin face of a hooded woman bolting through the back door, carrying something in her arms. "Stop!" Clarke shouts, dashing into the hut and out the back door after her.

As she exits, Clarke leaps over a barrel and then some crates the woman knocked over. She runs, light on her feet as she has been taught, swiftly hurdling more objects meant to slow her down. 

The woman takes a sharp right, then a left. Unable to shake Clarke's pursuit, she bolts straight into the chaos of the fight.

Clarke follows the woman, diving through the wall of Warriors, avoiding errant blades and arrows as she moves after the woman.

She's forced to stop and step back as a particularly pissed off woman lunges at her screaming her title and drawing more attention to her. Clarke slashes her sword down so hard she cuts her arm clean off, the woman's sword falling uselessly with the severed limb. Clarke doesn't have the time to end her life, the sense of urgency driving her forward again after the woman.

She hurdles a fallen warrior and then another, before ducking two spears and cutting down the Warriors wielding them. She spins and deflects another sword before hurling fire to create some space. She darts forward into the thick of the fighting, this time, stopping for nothing and no one.

And then all too soon Clarke understands why Ontari warned her to beware of the cliff. 

Breaking through the enemy lines in a ball of fire and fury, Clarke is forced to pause, to stop dead in her tracks, feet from the edge of the cliff. 

The hooded woman is staring her down, wild eyed and feral looking, her back to the edge of the cliff, heels dangerously close to the edge.

And a raven-haired baby in her arms.

"Hod op!" Clarke shouts, pleads. "Don't do this!" She lowers her sword as if held at gunpoint, slowly before dropping it. She raises her palms to indicate no threat, her eyes darting from baby to the woman. 

Each flicker of her eyes, each tense second, chilling her blood a thousand times over. 

The woman's eyes darken, her right arm flashing and a small severely sharp dagger pulled from the folds of her hood.

"Beja!" Clarke's voice breaks out of fear and desperation, just as the woman holds the blade against her neck.

And then, Clarke's eyes close for a second at most as she hears Lexa's voice ring out across the village, her waves of energy sensed as if she caused them herself. She can breathe for this second and this second only, the briefest relief before she opens her eyes and the woman moves.

"For Ambrose and his child, I am the only nomon he shall ever know." The woman slashes her own throat sloppily and topples backwards over the cliff.

"No!" Clarke shouts, entire being leaping after her, the woman's garb flapping in the wind, echoing off the cliff as she falls, baby still clutched right to her chest.

Clarke descending right behind her.

What the fuck am I doing?

Clarke fights the wind in her eyes as they begin to burn in protest, focused on the bundle clutched in the woman’s arms. She tightens her body, streamlining herself to fall faster. Darting downwards at breakneck speed, the wind shooting in her ears, wiping her hair back so hard it hurts, the ground hurtling towards her.

Finally close enough, Clarke grabs hold of the woman clothes, her feet landing on her chest, the woman's blood from her neck, dense and hitting her in the face as they fall. The woman fights her, and Clarke reaches forward, flame igniting into the woman's face before she finally lets the baby go and she hears a sickening splat of body meeting earth.

Clarke manages to clutch the baby to her chest before attempting to use the flames; she turns her head to see the rush of the ground feet away from killing them both. 

She's too late.

And just as she is about to meet her fate, a force like a drop ship hits her in the side, blinding white light taking over her vision before it falls to black.

 


Lexa sees Clarke fall.

Watches, paralyzed for a split second as she witnesses her heart falling from a cliffs edge.

No. Not falling.

Leaping!

"Clarke!" Lexa screams in pure shock, her body seizing before instinct launches her forwards.

Striding into a full sprint, Lexa panics, she feels Clarke's matching her own.

 No! She insists to herself, she promises to Clarke. No, this is not how this ends!

Lexa knows the fall will kill them; saw that the woman still lived as she fell despite her attempt to cut her own throat. Amateur. Lexa knows they don't have time, she doesn't have time, and too much time has passed already. 

She feels her energy react to the moment, letting it guide her, letting it take her. 

Her mind, her soul, and every beat of her heart, focused on Clarke. Hell bent on keeping Clarke safe. Alive.

She vanishes mid run, flattening her body horizontally like a linebacker from the old world game of football, blinding light encompassing her before it falls to black.

Lexa is weightless for a split second, right before she has wind whipping her face and ringing in her ears. She sees Clarke as their bodies collide in thin air and Lexa's desire, what feels like her entire being's sole purpose, to protect Clarke, flies into effect.

Energy swarms, flames emit and light encompasses them, as the ground doesn't disappear, it breaks.

Lexa's shield braces their fall, it shatters the ground, creating a crater of her very own. The surroundings tremble and shake as much as her wife in her arms as the tremors ring out and begin to split the cliff they fell from.

"Lexa," Clarke definitely sighs, praises even, as she braces against her wife's chest, encircled in her strong arms, her protective warmth and light saving her life once again. The immense relief of safety and protection taking over her.

"Clarke," Lexa sighs back, clutching her despite the danger of imminent death being gone.

Silence rings out except for the ground settling.

And then a baby's coo brings them back. 

They both look down to see deep yellowish green eyes staring back at them from a bundle of furs, tiny hand grasping on to errant strands of golden hair. "Ow," Clarke says after a painful tug, "you're strong aren't you little Natblida,” she pokes at him playfully.

Lexa smiles at the warmth shown from her wife; unsurprised in the affection she both feels and sees.

"Little Natblida? He has no name?" Lexa pokes a finger into his space and he grabs it, as strong as Clarke implied.

Clarke shakes her head against her, "sounded like he hadn't received one yet. Like she was waiting for Ambrose to return..." Clarke trails off, glancing at the indescribably grotesque image of his dead mother, pancaked into the earth.

Another tug on her finger causes both Lexa and Clarke to break the moment of tension. “He’s so strong. He reminds me of someone.”

Clarke feels Lexa stroke her arm lovingly as she watches the boy grasp at her finger, "Sha…” she says softly…”What about Lincoln? Or Gustus?" Lexa suggests both names lovingly.

Clarke turns her head to beam at her wife as the baby coos again and kicks his tiny feet. Lexa, her entire attention on the beauty of her wife, watches as blue eyes fall on the child again. The instant she heard his name she knew that is who the baby reminder her of.

The very man who gave his life for Lexa immediately before Clarke almost did the same.

"Hey Gus," Clarke coos right back at the baby fondly; his little yellowy green eyes shining back at her. "Hey, little man," she rocks the babe against her like she's been doing it her whole life.

Lexa smiles fondly as she strokes back a tear that fell from Clarke's eyes and landed on her cheek, "come on, this is not over yet."

Her light emits as Clarke sinks further into her chest. Lexa carries them back up to the village.

They are greeted with silence when they reappear, Lexa's light fading and revealing the Heda's and the child. There is a moment of shock, followed by quick relief, as the villagers begin to understand what occurred.

And then they fall to their knees in the presence of such purity. In surrender, in allegiance, to those that would sacrifice - that would risk - such a death for a mere baby.

Yes, fear plays a big role, it has its place and time, but it is their hearts will inspire loyalty.

That will inspire devotion. 

And it does.

Just like mob mentality can spread like wildfire, sparked by one can infect so many, so too can the good, the mentality of 'for one and all', one good gesture, one good deed can cause the next.

And in this case, Clarke and Lexa's efforts triggered what happened next.

 Every member of Bluecliff’s flagship village, that still retains the ability to do, so bows.

Lexa stands proudly beside her wife as they swear to her, to them. Clarke watching, voice stolen from the events, she's overwhelmed. 

She just wants them to go home.

 Heda speaks to the people, requesting knowledge of what befell the previous leader before Ambrose and who wishes to be put forward for consideration to lead their clan. Clarke hands the child off to Octavia and Bill to look after while she helps tend to various wounded.

They remain there for hours, tending to wounded, voting on the proposed leaders and selecting the delegation. It is long after nightfall before they return to the lights of polis.

 


 

 

“When will they return?” Kai asks excitedly to Raven.

 "They are due before nightfall, if everything goes to plan,” Raven tells her as she is handed Kai’s parchment. She has the kids doing human anatomy this afternoon with the healers, completing a test of sorts. Raven looks over the paper briefly before tilting her head to look at Kai, “You missed one.”

 She hands back the paper and Kai frowns, “No way?” She says it like it’s impossible and Raven cocks a brow.

 Raven chuckles, “See if you can find it.” She kicks softly at her butt, “If you need my help just holler! Go sit down and try again squirt.”

  Kai huffs angrily as she snatched back her paper examining her work and trying to find her mistake. She grumbles, in a way that reminds Raven of Clarke and Lexa, the entire way back to her seat.

Raven smiles fondly after her before looking at the window and judging the time based on the sun’s position…

 


 

And when that sun sets and it falls later into the evening, Raven’s fears come to life; she knows things have not gone to plan. 

She stands on the balcony of Clarke and Lexa's room, her optical device in front of her face scanning the direction they should be returning from.

Five hours later than expected, five tense hours of silence, Raven finally sees the sign of the party returning.

Her eyes fall immediately to the smaller wolf appearing in the screen of her device. A breath she had held since Octavia left escaping her finally.

They're almost home.

Raven races down the tower, wakes Kai and Aden like she promised, and brings them out of the tower just as the company calls for the doors to open.

Kai and Aden rush forward to meet Lexa and Clarke in relieved smiles and long hugs when they dismount. Lexa carrying a slumbering baby, wrapped in her Heda sash and furs, kept close to her body.

 Raven makes no point to hide her happiness as Octavia morphs mid run to human form and Raven clutches to her, wrapping a cloak around her naked form. 

"Are you okay," Raven says giving her a quick once over before she grabbed her. "Welcome home," Raven whispers relieved in her warrior's ear, her hand woven in her brunette hair.

Octavia sighs against her, holding her just as tight, grinning. Happy to be home. To be in the arms of Raven. They breathe as one, a moment to themselves, reveling in each other's grace.

"You sound like you weren't expecting me to return," Octavia says leaning back after a second, a tilt to her voice and head. Looking for the break, the crack in Raven’s tough exterior, waiting to observe the gummy bear within.

Raven doesn't put on a brave face, she doesn't hide anything, not her fear, her worry, not her joy or relief, she lets the tears flow down her cheeks and into her smile.

"I'd be lying if I said it didn't cross my mind," she manages to chuckle. "You're late," she scolds.

Octavia's grin fades as she reaches out to wipe Ravens tears, "Hey, we're all okay. Everything's fine. I'm right here. We all came home." She tilts her head to maintain eye contact when Raven tries to glance away, Octavia knowing how hard it is for Raven to show her softer side. To be left raw and open for her or anyone to see.

Without another word she kisses her cheek, lingering her lips lovingly as she grabs her hand, nodding at Clarke when she catches her eye and pulling Raven inside. Taking her to their room, giving her what she needs; holding her through the night, bodies entwined, few words spoken and tears of fear and relief dried on bare skin as soaked into damp hair.

Hours later, Raven tilts her head from the crook of Octavia's arm to smile at her, "hey," she calls.

"Hey," Octavia sighs pushing back hair for Ravens face.

"I love you, you know that?"

Octavia beams and laughs, "Yeah Rae, I know that. You know I love you too, right?"

Raven grins and winks before settling back down against her chest, "Of course I do, I know everything."


 

"Be careful," Lexa scolds gently as she hands Gus to Kai when they are inside the tower. She has her seated on the couch, Aden beside her, in their room. "Shh, be calm, he's had a long night…” she patiently watches Kai relax and hold the baby with ease, “That's it." She helps her brace his head and neck a little better, receiving a wonderfully light note of thanks from her daughter.

Aden and Kai dote on the baby as Clarke ushers Situ and Zora into the room to greet their blood brother. Zora sits down close to Aden, watching as the young man cradles the boy now. Clarke and Lexa watch fondly as the boy is gently passed around, everyone saying hello and bidding their welcome. 

Embracing him despite was his people did to their city, welcoming as their own because he is their own.

That night, the Natblida, both children and adult, in Polis sleep in the same room. Spread out wherever they will fit, in Clarke and Lexa’s room, sleeping soundly right up until the baby wakes hours before dawn hungry and demanding.

Then, it’s just poor Clarke; left holding the kid while everyone else disappears, Lexa among them. She huffs out air, blowing errant hairs back from her face as she tries to shush Gus.

"Of course you would become my duty once you start crying," she murmurs matter-of-factly to him. He gurgles and stops crying for a moment, an odd look taking over his face right before he spits up all over her chest.

And holding the child out from her chest, face contorted in disgust, is how Luna finds her minutes later.

"I'd appreciate you choking on your laughter," Clarke threatens darkly at the woman as she comes closer to inspect the damage. "Where's Lexa?"

Luna smiles as she reaches out to take the boy, tucking him into her side and pushing Clarke to the bathroom. "She's saving your ass for the second time in less than twelve hours I believe. She'll be back shortly. Now move."

Clarke tries to protest and Luna takes none of it, giving her a spite-filled glare as she gestures to her chest, "That's gross. Move," she scolds as if Clarke could control where the kids vomit landed.

Clarke cleans up and changes while Luna tries to entertain the baby. 

"He's hungry," Luna explains as Clarke cringes after a sharp squeal from Gus.

"He's demanding," Clarke says, tossing her dirty clothes into a basket. 

Luna laughs as she dangles her woven, seashell bracelets in front of him, "so were we all at his age. To Eat, laugh, be sheltered, sleep and poop, that's all he asks for..."

Clarke watches fondly at the two of them, pondering her words, going over the simplicity, before the door bursts open with Lexa leading and two women following her.

"Mom?" Clarke questions, coming forward when she sees her following her wife.

"Hey, honey," Abby says absently, looking beyond her daughter for the baby, quite excitedly.

"What are you doing here?" Clarke gapes as she’s overpassed.

Abby gives her a look over her shoulder, one that says she already should know, but answers anyways as she pulls a stethoscope out to listen to the baby's chest.

"Lexa told me days ago to make sure I was here for today. Marcus and I arrived last night." Abby continues her examination as if no one else was present as Luna holds the baby for her.

Clarke's eyes widen before her brain sort of goes ‘duh’ and she smiles at the bashful look that appears on her wife's face; the cutest tinge of red on her cheeks that Clarke quickly swoons over.

Lexa shrugs in the company of family, "I had to be sure he was healthy." She grins in a small way at Clarke when she feels the radiating love and affection from her, and for a second, they are both lost in it.

Abby clears her throat as she finishes her exam to break their moment reluctantly. 

Lexa comes back long before Clarke, blinking as she does so, "this is Anna," Lexa directs her attention to the second woman that had entered the room; A busty, curvaceous, middle aged redhead, "She's volunteered to be Gustus' wet nurse."

The woman moves to receive the baby and gently guide him to feed.

 Lexa doesn't say it but Clarke feels the pang of pain that tells her Anna has recently lost her own child. Perhaps in the attack on polis caused by the very child's father that she has volunteered to feed and help care for.

Once again, an act of good that will inspire many and embolden the belief of those in the room.

The one that suggest, despite the darkness, good will overcome.

Overcome what the baby's own mother tried to force on him. The Commander of Death and the Commander of the Blood, thwarting her efforts.

Together.

Clarke tries to hide her emotions as she watches Gus fight the woman before latching on to suckle. She's smiles through tears as he calms instantly, the candles in the room flicker with her heart beat and Lexa watches her with knowing eyes.

A little later, the eyes have not left her as she's handed Gus.

They fuss over him before Clarke and Lexa leave Luna and Abby to watch him while they begin their day.


A little later that day, Clarke has found herself in quite an uncomfortable position. 

Gustus stinks. 

Okay, like really, really stinks. (You don’t understand; the kid smells like he ate a corpse.)

So Clarke holds him, arms straights out, baby dangling like he's going to explode.

She's not convinced he won't.

She's trying not to breathe; every fibre of her being, working to prevent the intake of the putrid fumes emitting from the baby's diaper wrap. Gus makes a funny face before he gurgles a spit bubble through his lips like he was bearing down on something.

She doesn’t want to think of what.

Clarke's eyes widen and the smell immediately gets worse. "Oh god," she gasps turning towards Raven.

Her friend has tied a scarf across the lower half of her face in defense of the toxicity, "Nope. Sorry, I did not sign up for that!" She protests hands raised, fingers crossed as if to ward off the devil. 

Clarke gives her a pleading look before doing the same gesture to Octavia, "uh, uh..." The warrior stammers, "let's get a bath going! You know bathe ...that -she gestures at Gustus’ entirety- uh, away." 

"Octavia," Clarke weakly protests as she bolts out of sight and in to the bathroom. Clarke turns when she hears Luna cackling in laughter, clearly not about to offer help.

"The great Wanheda," she cracks, "defeated by a baby!" Clarke knows she’s imagining the drinks this tale will buy her in the tavern.

"This kid could kill a village with this arsenal," Clarke points out dryly in defense, gagging on the smell, baby still held like a bomb.

Gus spits and drums his lips together, a clear sign he's bearing down again.

"He's gonna go boom," Raven yelps as she dramatically ducks for cover on the ground beside the bed.

"Octavia?" Clarke screams, wondering if she can just plunge his lower half in a bath and make it all just go away. 

She doesn't want to think about what it is.

Octavia appears in the doorway, her hair askew, and her eyes wide in fear Clarke feels on a very real level, "Stop yelling at me! You know, I didn't remove my contraceptive implant for a reason Clarke!"

Clarke can’t help but gasp dramatically as she rolls her eyes and ends up coughing as the fumes choke her again. "Oh god, what do I do," she questions aloud, scanning the room. Seeing a potential solution, she runs to the balcony in attempts to let the wind take the smell away.

Fresh air, that’s what they need.

Just as she gags again when the wind kicks the smell directly into her mouth, so bad she can almost taste it, Luna and Raven’s laughter picks up in the room.

Then, the bedroom door bangs open for them all freeze seeing Lexa staring in the doorway at the scene before her.

Her eyes flicker from her wife to the others before she noticeably gets a whiff of what the issue is. She tilts her head in pity before she quickly strides across the room. She takes Gus from Clarke in a practiced manner, without a word, and brings him to the bed. 

With one hand, she rips a pillowcase off one of the pillows and lays it down before gently placing the baby down on top of it. She sighs as she calls for Octavia to bring a basin and two large cloths.

Lexa moves with expert ease to a shocked and silent Clarke, Octavia and Raven, while Luna observes her smugly. Lexa pulls the soiled garment from the boy and cleans him with precision and little difficulty; in fact, Gus giggles and gurgles in joy at her attention.

Lexa smiles and indulges his cuteness, mirroring it with her own, speaking softly only to him, before she expertly wraps and ties the second clothe around his bottom.

She pokes him in the stomach and tickles him, "There. Better?"  Lexa continues to coo at him as she is picking him up, raising him above her head as he giggles with joy. She tucks him down into her chest before swiftly walking back across the room and handing the boy to Clarke. There’s an undeniable smirk and another tilt to her head when she sees Clarke accept the boy, her mouth still fully agape in awe.

Owning the situation in every movement, Lexa quietly leaves without another word or look to any of them.

The door closes in her wake to shocked silence from all in the room.

Raven blinks, pulling down her makeshift gas mask, "What. The. Fuck. Was. That?"

Luna cackles again, "That is the beauty that is the beast of both Lexa and Heda."

Clarke can't help but agree.

Falling back into sheltering the baby against her chest as she contemplates her wife continuing to astound her in her abilities. She doesn’t believe a single heda before Lexa has changed a diaper. Even to what most would deem as simple as changing a diaper, Clarke sees it as a testament to who her wife is as much as Luna acknowledges it.

Just as Clarke is Wanheda, Lexa is Heda, their beauty transcends the physical, overcomes the duty and their power; it revels in their humanity.

 

 

Chapter Text

A week later, it's early in the afternoon, sunlight is pouring in from the open balcony and the drapes are gently rustling in the breeze. It's calm outside, a wonderful summer day, promising plenty of sun and shade alike.

Unfortunately, the gentle weather and soft hum of the city creeping in from outside is the complete opposite to the atmosphere within the throne room.

You could describe it as organized chaos.

Lexa sits, regal by nature in her throne; chin held high, with Clarke standing to her left, her right hand resting on one of the ornate branches. She's Drawing strength and recharging just as Lexa is from the contact with the century old seat. Their faces remain stoic, impeccably passive as Heda and Wanheda listen and watch the room of clan leaders and dignitaries discuss (bicker over) plans, while Raven attempts to play mediator.

Raven looks sweaty and odd, like she's trying not to combust where she stands, as she tries to keep order from between both sides of the room. As intense as the situation is for her, Clarke can't deny the smile and undeniable enjoyment the new Flamekeeper also seems to be getting from the drama and somewhat explosive atmosphere. 

Raven is thriving, incredibly fearless in her role. Organized chaos is, apparently, her thing. (As if anyone could have doubted her.)

There are various arguments going on around the room. Abrupt outbursts, occasional posturing and quite honestly, bitching

Glowing forest has complaints of their search parties not returning; they've lost four in the last two weeks. They weren't the first to go missing and Clarke knows deep down that they won't be the last; every clan of the coalition has lost search parties and people over these many months, all the way back to when jasper was still alive. The issue is that they all go missing in various parts of the nations and borderlands, so they can't narrow down who is taking them or what exactly is happening to them. They have to be connected but so far, there's nothing to prove it except some bloody scenes and no bodies.

 It's odd, infuriating, no one knows anything, no one comes back to camp with new information. They have no one to point fingers at.

Well, almost, no one.

There are reports from Trikru and the boat clan that broadleaf has all but disappeared, shallow valley much the same. No one knows where they are and are finding it far too easy to draw a conclusion on ice nation, a known threat. Delphi swear they've seen Azgeda in their borderlands, while other clan reports put them in three other locations as well as their own nation. 

 The clans are understandably restless and growing increasingly impatient. Lexa and Clarke's handling of Bluecliff both alleviated and added to the pressure all at once. No one is sure what to do, but when you can only really see one side of the war right now how can you blame them for pointing at Azgeda. The only enemy they have real undeniable proof of now is ice nation, which unfortunately means that's the only thing they all agree on.

Go fucking figure, Clarke thinks.

What does surprise her, though she can't fault them, is that Even Luna and Shaw have become both apprehensive and restless on which courses of action they should follow now. Their people are pushing for action they keep trying to hold a bay. They are sworn allies with undeniable and unwavering faith in their leaders, but they are finding it harder and harder to justify decisions to their people. 

Clarke understands. She doesn't like it, but she gets it. She's facing and has faced similar issues.

 Azgeda showed weakness in retreat, it only makes sense that they all want to attack now. Even word from skaikru tells of some people pushing for action, Bellamy among them (not that Clarke's surprised). 

 To add to that issue, No one has come forward with any advancement on the vaults or the undead. No one has had visual of Ontari; some rumours have even spread of her being dead by her own people's hands.

 It's all adding up against them and Lexa and Clarke are having a hard time justifying holding off on invasion.

Except for entirely different reasons.

For Clarke, she has a secret tumultuous truce with their queen. A bargain she struck for the good of them all, and by communicating in secret, she knows that bitch lives. At least, for now.

For Lexa, she has a not so secret wish to destroy Ontari herself. To end her fightno armies’ necessary, all while maintaining hope to keep the nation alive by sacrificing their monarchy and having them kneel. It's what she believes she should have done with Nia after Costia, what she foolishly gave up on thinking peace would be lasting; a mistake she made that could have prevented all of this. A mistake she won't make again. For Lexa, that truce Clarke already struck in secret doesn't begin until Ontari's dead.

Clarke nervously glances around the room as the shouting picks up again and a few too many side eyes are thrown their way for her liking. She grips the throne a little harder, preventing her itchy fingers from pulling a blade or sparking a flame. She can fucking feel the Sparks in her left hand that's clenched at her other side. 

Chill the fuck down, be cool, she tells herself.

Lexa can sense the tension rolling off her wife, as it causes Lexa to indiscreetly (to everyone but Clarke) roll her neck to relieve it. Seconds later, Clarke feels her calm energy wash over her like a cleansing rain. She breathes a little easier, her arm tingles instead of her hand sparking, and her fist and grip on the throne relax a bit.

 She calms minutely however, because now she wonders how Lexa is keeping so cool amidst all this chaos. She watches her wife discreetly, her eyes never lingering for too long while she mulls it over. 

Lexa is acting... Normal. Balanced, perfectly at ease. Able to keep herself calm as well as me.

And Clarke's confused... 

Which worries her. For one, Lexa rarely confuses her anymore; Clarke has always read her like a book, cover to cover in just one look. Second, She should be thrilled to see her wife back in action; she would be, except she knows Lexa hasn't been sleeping well, knows she's been anything but relaxed. She watches her leave at random times of the night to walk the tower and find a peace she can't in sleep. She does it In hopes to let Clarke rest peacefully undisturbed, she doesn't know that Clarke always watches her go, doesn't know her wife remains awake while she disappears. Yes, Clarke is well aware that Lexa is still a bit of a mess inside, overwhelmed and scared of losing control, despite her valiant effort to hide it.

Just as they all are in some way, over something.

So Clarke watches her, because not so very long ago, Lexa was acting brash and unpredictable, and now she sits calm and cool. Clarke is wondering where that rage has been channeled now, wondering what is keeping her mind and emotions on the same page, and there's a large part of her that's worrying if Lexa's using all her strength to remain passive and stoic now only to crash hard later in the privacy of their chambers. The thought alone is a weight on her chest.

It's true, they've mended some of the damage they both caused to each other, but some secrets still remain, some truths have not been revealed and some conversations have yet to be had. They sit in the room with them at all times, the elephants they can't ignore though they try.

Lost in thought, Clarke almost doesn't register seeing the head of Bill pop through the doors to signal not her or Lexa but Raven. Almost misses the flashing glance from Raven to Lexa indicating a silent conversation. Almost.

Of course she sees it, she's been focused on her wife and feels the switch instantly when the calming presence washing over her is removed and something like anticipation is sensed from her wife.

A second later, Lexa is standing, signaling the room to quiet down immediately. Raven bows slightly and dashes out the door while Lexa speaks, "that is enough for now. We reconvene at dusk."

With a hand held out to Clarke, which is instinctively grabbed, Lexa leads them regally from the room, while Clarke hides her confusion. They never break this early; the meeting had only been going on a little over an hour. Once more, she's confused.

Once away from prying ears and eyes, Clarke pulls Lexa to a stop. "What was that about?"

"Clarke, we don't have time for this. You'll see soon enough. I have to go meet with Raven." Lexa moves to leave.

"And the twins?" Clarke questions with raised brows, crossing her arms across her chest.

Lexa stops and turns to look at her, sighing, she answers, "yes."

"And there's a reason you're trying to get me to let you go alone?"

"Yes."

Clarke's eyes widen. She was expecting an affirmation, but perhaps not so bluntly delivered. A 'Clarke, no' thinly veiled, but evident to her.

Lexa turns again to leave with Clarke gaping after her, "so, are you coming or not?" She calls over her shoulder.

Clarke indulges in the briefest of smirks before she trots after Lexa, a weird sense of pride and love swarming inside her when her wife knew her well enough to know she'd follow - invite or not.

She mentally shrugs, the ever present mantra of 'Clarke, yes' echoing in her ears as she quickens her pace.

 


 

 

Clarke follows Lexa, barely a step behind, all the way out of the tower. Her wife begins to veer left and right before entering a newly formed doorway into the remaining, rubble cleared dungeons.

She's about to ask why they're here, wondering who Lexa had been holding down here, as far as she knew they were holding no one; before she can inquire, she sees bill, Beland and Ryder speaking in hushed tones ahead of them. She sees raven standing by a cell, her head tilted in contemplation.

Clarke's questions die in her throat as she moves beyond Lexa, passed the men, and comes to a stop beside Raven. Her eyes widen as she watches the cell for a few moments before turning on her heels, "what is this?" She demands to know, her eyes on Lexa now.

Her wife, who had her green eyes glued to her the entire time, looks briefly at the floor before glancing at Raven and back to her. "Hopefully, proof."

"Lexa?" Clarke says cautiously, somewhat confused, before turning back around to look at the cell. Then she's forced to reach up and grip the iron bars as her vision blurs and she's dropped back into a memory of an eerily similar situation. 

A memory where she's Claire and Lexa is Alex, standing not behind her but beside her as they stare through a pane of glass, deep beneath the earth.

A wet gurgle rattles her vision back to the situation at hand and she blinks to clear away the fog. She looks beyond the bars into the tiny cell to see a young man, clad in glowing forest colours, and struggling to breathe.

Clarke growls and glares at those in the dungeon with her "open the door!" She shouts, "I can help him!"

"Clarke." Lexa says hoping to calm her; she sends a wave of it over Clarke to be sure.

Clarke spins when she feels the attempt and glares harder at her, she holds up a hand, "Don't even try to pull that shit with me right now, Lexa! Open. The. Damn. Door!"

Lexa immediately stops trying to calm her and looks at her momentarily before ultimately resigning and nodding to Ryder to follow the direction. Clarke moves to follow him to the door, impatiently tapping her foot while he fiddles with the keys, "get me water and cloths, now! Get a medical bag!" She snaps at the twins.

"Bill," Lexa corrects the order, wishing for Beland to stay.

Bill nods and leaves at a run, as Ryder finally springs the lock. A hand on Clarke's shoulder tries to stop her before she shrugs out of Raven’s grip and ducks into the cell.

She drops to her knees and starts examining the young man, "what happened? Why is he in here?" She questions to no one in particular, as her hands fly around his feverish body, frantically looking for the wound.

No one answers.

No one has to.

Clarke's hands stop as she moves the boy’s shirt aside.

She tenses, eyes flicking from his pained face to a revolting looking bite. 

Human bite.

A festering human bite.

With purplish blood, congealed and slowly oozing, a tinge of a putrid smell wafting from it.

Her heart spikes as another wet gurgle and raspy breath breaks the boys lips. Clarke stares; frozen in shock, mouth slightly parted, while her mind reels.

"We found him this morning in the rover," Raven's voice cracks behind her, she can tell she's moved into the cell door way. "He had escaped the attack and was running through the tree line, south of here, he fell unconscious before we got to him."

Clarke clenches her jaw as bill comes into the cell with what she asked for. He doesn't leave her side; in sympathy, or perhaps pity, he helps her back to her senses by handing her the wet cloth. He even helps her guide her hand to the task of wiping the boys wound when at first she made no move.

Her hands shake as she tries to clean the bite. What can she do? How is she supposed to help? 

She's out of her element here; she knows how to cause death, she knows how to prevent it, prolong it if she so chooses, but she doesn't know how to combat a virus (or whatever the fuck it is) that brings you back from it.

Clarke inhales sharply as she blinks through visions of what comes next after a bite, after death, things she saw first hand through Claire's eyes.

She drops the cloth in bills hand, trusting him to continue as a strange frustration and fury is taking over her that's fuelled by fear. She's the only one in the room who has truly seen what happens next.

They have no idea. Not yet.

Before she knows it, she's standing and closing the distance before she pushes Raven in the chest forcing her backwards out of the cell. "I don't even know where to begin with this! I don't know what to start yelling about, there's that much!"

She glares from Raven to Lexa, the boys and back to the flamekeeper as she hears Ravens huffed comment of 'seems like you're off to a good start.'

Fine. That settles where.

She steps into Ravens space again, "What if he turned? What if he turned before you got him into a cell! In the fucking Rover? You didn't see what I did, the speed I witnessed in the vaults after the turn takes over, after you come back! You both could have-"

"We didn't." Lexa is quick to point out, foolishly trying to think that makes the risk worth it to Clarke. Trying to defend her and Ravens actions, trying to protect Raven from taking the brunt of Clarke's anger.

The blonde rages, "that doesn't matter! You could have! Easily! That fucking tin can is tiny! Bound or not, the speed and strength, he could have!" As mad as she is, she can't bring herself to say exactly what she fears could have happened. She doesn't need to.

"Clarke," she vaguely hears from one of the men but she ignores them, finding her groove.

"You two have been sneaking out, taking joyrides while none of us knew! Anything could have happened out there!" Her eyes flare briefly to Lexa, driving a certain hurtful point home and simultaneously letting Lexa know she watches her leave at night, " For fuck sakes I thought you were at least in the tower!

Finding no reaction other than her wife's eyes widening Clarke continues into her next point, "Paul is looking for his people and you have one, have had him since before dawn, waiting for him to die just to see if he comes back. Some kind of twisted experiment-"

"Well when you put it like that, it sounds terrible." Raven mutters.

"It is like that!" Clarke shouts, her hands balling into fists, the torches along the wall flaring.

"If what you say is true, there's nothing we could do for him anyways. Not until we know more," Raven defends.

"We needed proof Clarke," Lexa's velvety voice seeps into the conversation finally. It's calm in the face of Clarke's rage, not a trace of guilt now on her features, stoic. 

Resolute in their actions. 

It irks Clarke more than it soothes right now.

Because, in Lexa's emerald eyes, Clarke can see the sadness and pain, it's threatening to throw a wet rag on her blazing fury.

"I get that," she says a little softer, disappointed even, "but you shouldn't have let this happen. Not this way." She does get it, she understands both their points, Lexa wants proof to buy them time with the clan leaders and Raven wants to understand what the fuck they're up against.

Silence falls briefly, too much silence, and it becomes very apparent that there's no wet gurgle in the background any longer. She tenses as bill calls to her again.

"Clarke!"

All eyes go from her to the cell as she too turns to see.

"Get out of there, Bill!" She shouts, immediately seeing the now dead body, she rushes forward to the cell door as he looks at her questioningly but ultimately rises to the order.

She stares beyond him as he comes closer watching and waiting for the threat to appear. She can feel it coming, but she still gasps as what she saw through Claire, is now witnessed by her own to eyes. 

The boy begins to stir, eyes flicker open and his chest barely moves but a new gurgle, choked and unfulfilling, breaks his lips as jaws begin to snap. 

Clarke claws at Bill's shoulder, pulling him out of the way as the boy moves at lightening speed to rise from the bed. He's drawn by the sound or smells, maybe both; she doesn't have time to consider as she hears her name being shouted behind her. Wanheda rouses and she sidesteps bill and pulls the sword from her back. 

The boy sees her through dead eyes and shifts, making a grab for her. The cell is small; she kicks his chest before her back hits the wall. She strikes him in the head with the hilt of her sword, buying her a second to leap on to the bed to round on the not so dead man right before he lunged a second time.

She takes her chance and stabs her sword directly through his back, the tip piercing through his rib cage and clattering into the cement wall in front of him.

No cry of pain, no scream of rage comes when it should from the force of her blow.

The gurgle turns into a snarl, and jaws continue to snap. He acts as though there is no weapon protruding through his form, his hands reach and claw at his own back in attempts to get to her, spit and blood flying from his mouth as his teeth snap over and over again.

Clarke is momentarily stunned, both hands gripping her sword, frozen where she stands, one foot awkwardly on the bed and another on the ground. She's planted solidly but she feels like she's floating. 

This isn't happening, she thinks desperately. This is not happening.

Except, it totally is.

However, for Clarke, it seems knowing it is out there and seeing it before you are two entirely different things. She didn’t expect to react like this, not after everything she’s been through.

As well, she didn't realize there truly was no pain after death. She didn't believe that possible, not after meeting Claire in veil who still carries a very real pain with her, and certainly not after what she's been through herself. 

And definitely not after what she's done.

Also, how is he still functioning, she's sure her blade had gone right through his heart. She is about to remove it and strike again as waves of panic are rolling through her now trembling body. In her alarm, she forgets that through Claire and Elyza she has seen how they are to be put down, she forgets that she has the knowledge to end this now.

"Clarke! Hod op!" Lexa voice comes through her wall of panic and snaps her out of it, "hold him steady!"

"Right," Clarke manages to mutter less distractedly, somewhat sarcastically; as the boy continues to struggle, her blade is continuing to rip a larger hole in him as he moves, and his dead clouded eyes are unblinking. Lexa and Bill are beside her now, murmuring to each other in trig, as they help hold him steady and bind the boy’s hands.

"Don't let him scratch you," Raven says, "hey, watch the mouth!" 

Clarke glares at her over her shoulder. As if they needed that point of advice. Clarke doesn't even want the thing at the end of her blade, let alone allow it to touch her in any way. She briefly remembers touching his wound and the medical training in her immediately wants to wash her hands with scalding water...

"No," Lexa says when Clarke makes another move to remove her sword after the boy’s hands are tied  "keep him like that."

Clarke frowns, awkward as ever with the struggling being impaled on her sword, as Lexa leaves the cell. She's unsure of whether Lexa wishes to leave him on the end of her sword to let the clan leaders see that the boy should truly be dead, or if it's to keep him secure and her out of his reach should his binds come loose. 

As she glances from his back to his hands, she figures it's probably both considering he's now struggling so much his skin is breaking and a purplish red colour is beginning to stain the ropes that bind him. She's also sure she heard the distinct sound of his right shoulder coming out of place and his elbow snapping, but he made no obvious sign of pain or discomfort. 

It all makes her stomach roll.

"Beland? Raven?" Lexa asks them questioningly.

They both fall quiet in concentration before they sigh and shake their heads.

The undead have no thoughts. He's not a man-child of the glowing forest any longer, that boy is gone. Replaced with a mindless rabid hunger and about to become a symbol of the new battle before them.


 

Entering the throne room to reconvene the meeting is not a particularly joyous or victorious moment for Lexa as you might expect.

Yes, she's brought proof of the new and previously unseen threat, but at what cost?

Not only was she, as Clarke not to wrongly put it, 'sneaking out' with Raven when sleep was hard to come by, not only was she hiding that and a few other things from her wife, but she hid a member of her coalition from his own people to wait for him to die.

Just to see if he would come back.

A twisted science experiment indeed, Clarke wasn't wrong about that either.

She feels horrible about it all, of course she does, but she also had few other options. Previous teachings that love is weakness have been proven misguided and devastatingly wrong, but the underlying message that the duty she has to her people has to come first remains ever present and true. Doing this, in such a way, is to protect the many at the expense of a few.

After all, what also remains true is that victory stands on the back of sacrifice. Lexa's fighting two battles, black and white does not exist for her. Good and bad are one and the same at different times.

That's something that Clarke and her know very well though they can occasionally land on different sides of the situation. Her belief that she had to make this choice is all that keeps her feet moving at a steady pace as she enters the room, followed by a walking, jaw snapping corpse that's controlled by the sword of her wife.

The walking dead, the first that they've seen, Commanded by the Commander of Death herself.

Needless to say, the throne room doesn't bow like they typically do when the leaders enter; Lexa lets it slide, knowing they would have had they not been assaulted by the startling view.

Silence echoes around the sounds of scuffling feet and a corpse making noises, as Lexa and the group take their positions. She stands in front of the throne, taking in the various expressions around the room.

"Well, shit." Luna breaks the lingering silence and some of the tension.

Shaw elbows her in the ribs but her eyes are glued to Clarke and the not so dead man, she's hiding her fear well. Those in the room well trained in battle and death know he should not be moving, let alone walking; they watch with guarded eyes, hands twitching for blades that may or may not be there.

Heda has brought proof of the new enemy, the previously unseen threat and her and Raven bought Clarke and Lexa time to keep the clans from invading Azgeda.

Or so they thought.

 Hours later, Clarke still holding the struggling man with her sword, hears the shouts saying Azgeda could be behind this as well. The finger pointing continues and she fights the urge to roll her eyes. She's tired, drained from today and the physical effort of holding the boy, but glad to find that his strength and speed is waning. His binds still hold his hand tight though they have broken the skin and rest on bone now. Frustrated and tired, She also fights the urge to shout at Paul for making the suggestion but refrains, understanding his desire to get justice for the tragic fate of his young scout.

"He did not travel from Azgeda," Raven says to him, an air of fatigue in her own voice, "we located him in the borderlands, returning from the southeast.

"The southeast? He should have been in the north!"

Lexa turns to look at Paul, pouncing on his slip, "the north? Had I not forbade your clan from searching there a month ago?" 

The room pauses at her question, everyone knowing the answer.

Paul swallows, "sha, Heda."

"And you defied me?"

Again, not really a question that required an answer.

Paul glance around the room before clearing his throat, "I had little choice. My people wouldn't stand for waiting, they sought proof."

"Proof that may or may not be in Azgeda." Lexa says forcefully coming to a stand, "your efforts came to nothing, your efforts impeded progress we could have made elsewhere. Trikru and Skaikru were searching the north, unknowingly passing the very areas your people were." 

She's visibly angry, Clarke doesn't blame her, Paul has hindered their progress by this move, had he put his scouts where they directed they would have searched more land instead of some places more than once. The urge to yell and smack his stupid ass upside the head grows.

"I apologize commander, I was just trying to do what is best for my people."

"As we all are," Lexa states, eyes pointed, fixed on the now trembling man. A challenge.

He bows his head and falls to his knees, wisely choosing not to take it.

"No one else has made a move to defy their orders despite increasing pressures from their people," Lexa points out, an obvious dig at his weakness and inability to properly lead. "Your actions require punishment, you question your leaders decisions and defy their order. I should throw you from this tower!" Lexa seethes, she glances around the room, letting her threat sink in.

They've seen it before, and for lesser reasons. Lexa has every right to kill those she does not trust; it's partially what has kept her alive in her reign much longer than her predecessors.

Lexa raises her chin and stands firm, hands clasped at the elbows, behind her back. "I am not going to do that; instead, before we continue I make a motion to have Paul removed from his role and advocate that his wife Sameen take his position," Lexa says to the room after a moments deliberation. 

Sameen has always been quite apt when she and Lexa met at gatherings and would discuss coalition proceedings. Her conversations had always led her to believe she was the one speaking in Paul's ear on matters, as often, she would hear her words from his mouth verbatim. Though she rarely attends polis councils she's smart, well informed, and aware of a bigger picture versus what she's shown. She has foresight, where Paul lacks it.

Also, Sameen is present today for the meeting because Lexa requested it and Paul won't fly from the tower because Sameen requested it; Lexa knew about Paul's move the day after he made it, informed by his wife, she simply needed proof from the horses mouth to prevent any who would question her motives for removing him (she doesn't need any more trouble). She has every right to kill the man, proven to be untrustworthy in his position, but doing so at this stage would be unwise. Her threat was for show to all but her and his wife, Sameen and Lexa had agreed to this course of action a month ago.

Clarke's knowing glance that Lexa catches confirms that she's caught on to what happened behind the scenes without any of them knowing it, even her. There's an apology in her eyes that Clarke doesn't think she needs, but a second later, the now apparent slight she feels when she runs this little secret over again in her head says otherwise. Then, before she can stop herself her mind wanders to how secrets began to build up between them, guilty of it herself, her heart pangs for them both. Sure, they can read each other like a book, cover to cover, but she never realized they should also be reading between the lines.

Clarke watches Lexa take a beat of eye contact with her before she finally looks away to nod at Raven. 

The flamekeeper clears her throat and steps forward on cue, too ready to move - making Clarke aware that Raven knew this secret long before she did. (The jealous monster inside her seethes despite her wishes.) 

"Those in favour raise your right hand." Those opposed, go float yourself, Raven thinks, allowing Lexa to hear it and earning a small twitch at the corner of her lip. It's Something she does often now, a goal she's placed before herself to see if she can get the mask to slip, for Lexa to fall out of Heda's character like a skit in Saturday night live; to get her smiling again. She just misses her bro, the Lexa that she grew to know and love, the one who had finally started living. She’s trying to get her back, little by little, to remind her that life goes on, that they all have battle scars, that she too can build a brace for hers. Perhaps, even that love and laughter is the way to do it.

The hands in the room rose unanimously, Sameen's included, at the call for a vote. 

Lexa glares at Paul before speaking, "the coalition has spoken. there is little happening in my nations without me knowing, you will do well to remember that." He nods solemnly and rises from his seat, allowing his wife to take his place. 

Watching the scene unfold, the room is shook back to the other issue at hand as the walking corpse chooses this moment to shift on Clarke's sword, finally tearing a gaping hole through his torso and freeing himself as he lunges for Lexa. Her body, years of training and blessed muscle memory kicking in and taking over, quickly moves to avoid his snapping lunge. Just getting out of the way as Clarkes sword swings to land a blow on his hip, slowing him down again. Lexa moves another step, her long regal coat and sash floating as she's launching a rounded kick to his back forcing him behind the throne and towards the balcony. 

The momentum carries him, he stumbles onward, and Lexa helps him along with another straight kick sending him off the towers high window. The sickening crunch is heard ringing out through the city and up to the tower. The room collectively stills as Clarke and Lexa move with Raven to peer over the edge.

The dead man is finally moving no more.

As soon as they turn around, shouts erupt in the room, both worried and furious at what they witnessed, not at what Lexa had been forced to do, but at what it took to finally end him. Chaos runs rampant once more in the form of shouts and Lexa lets it, always finding it easier to control the room after the pent up energy is expelled. Letting them know they are being heard. She stands, not winded at all, as if nothing happened, with her hands behind her back in the midst of the yelling, eyes coolly observing the room.

It's Clarke that is having a hard time, her chest is the one that's heaving, her mind that's reeling with images of a hundred years ago mingling with what she's seen for their future. She blinks and glanced at her wife, her slight panic attack making itself known to Lexa swiftly as she feels her wife send calming waves over her to help soothe it.

Then Clarke receives a nod from Lexa, granting her permission to leave while she continues the meeting. Clarke pulls Raven with her and together they flame down to remove the body. She needs to calm down, she needs time to think, to process, but they can't risk rumours and fear spreading or even someone unknowingly contracting the disease through the spread of his blood.

There is still work to be done.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

"So, on a scale of 1 to Wanheda, how pissed are you at us?" Raven asks eventually when they put the body in a private room where they will draw blood that will be taken to Abby and Jackson for analysis.

Clarke finishes washing her hands and pointedly looks at her friend, "Wanheda."

Raven cringes dramatically, "Come on, Clarke. The rover is safe, no one knew that Lexa was in there."

"That doesn't matter, it's very clearly a Skaikru vehicle, any of our enemies could try to stop it regardless of the cargo it carried." Clarke sighs, "not to mention you both took off without telling anyone! Multiple times!"

"Clarke-"

"What if you didn't come back? What if he turned and got you both before you got him into a cell? One bite Raven, that's all it would take. Not to mention, What would have happened if the vehicle did break down or was attacked? Then where would you two be? Where would I be? Where would Octavia be?" Clarke spits out, She has a sinking feeling her best friend doesn’t know about their late night rides either. She highly doubts Octavia’s reaction would be much different from her own.

Raven’s undoubtedly smartass remark dies in her throat as Clarke glares at her, the unmistakable proof for Clarke that she was right in thinking Octavia too had no idea of their escapades.

 The mechanic runs a hand through her hair after a moment in the silent standoff, resigning she sighs, "I'm sorry, okay? You're right. We should have told you guys." 

Clarke stares at her for a second longer before nodding once, "yeah...You should have." You should have told us lots of things. She can't help but think it, though she knows Raven is not to blame, nor Lexa for that matter - Clarke knows she started this thread of secrets the night she met Ontari in the woods.

Maybe that's why they hurt so much

Secrets and guilt to a heart so pure go hand in hand. 

She feels dirty, has so for weeks, yet her own secrets remain intact as she continues to stare at one of the people who is well aware of the weight of the secret she keeps; one of two people that she knows will keep it as long as she needs them to.

She understands that Lexa has revealed a few things to Raven, or discussed things with her she has yet to with Clarke; she believes she understands why she's done it as well. Lexa needed a different outlet, as they all do, she needed to talk to someone else, maybe find understanding from a different source other than just Clarke. After all, Clarke relies on her friends - why shouldn't Lexa have that luxury as well.

It just doesn't make it hurt any less.

An awkward silence falls over them as Clarke leans her side against the table, crossing her arms over her chest. "Is it helping," she finally asks, her voice quiet, full of remorse that Raven understands.

Raven lowers her optical device that she was using to examine the body and slowly turns to look at Clarke as if she's considering her words. 

"We've been doing it for about a week or so now, do you notice a difference?"

Clarke furrows her brow, "a week?" She pauses and thinks more on Lexa. "I guess? Although, she's still sneaking out in the middle of the night to be with you so... Who can tell?" 

She didn't mean it to sound so bitter but really it couldn't be helped. (She's just so tired.) Clarke makes to busy herself after that particular vulnerable moment, to draw various amounts of blood for her mother and Jackson, as well as a little extra for Raven's own study.

Raven rolls her eyes before fixing Clarke with a very poignant stare she can feel burning into the side of her head, "she's not doing it to 'be with me', Jealous. So relax. Lexa can't sleep, or won't let herself properly sleep, which I know you know, so cut her some slack."

Girl, she is trying.

Uh oh, here comes the word vomit with a hint of petty jealousy on the side...

"She never had an issue falling asleep beside me before, our nightmares were always kept a bay when we were together," Clarke vulnerably says to her, keeping her eyes on the corpse and literally anywhere other than her friend.

Damn her and her ability to see multiple sides of the issue.

Raven sighs, "Clarke, she can't relax because she fears disrupting this other ‘her’s’ life because she can't deal with her own reality right now and thinks she'll try and reach out again. Lexa is restless, she carries the same weight on her shoulders that you do; she feels trapped by the situations before you guys and she's trying to help herself feel useful, like she's making progress. So yeah, we take the rover out and run some search patterns when we can't sleep. I know you understand that need." 

Raven pauses, waiting for Clarke to acknowledge that she's speaking, when she catches the glance she continues, "Your wife's a protector, a proverbial symbol of safety, and she's trying to protect everyone, us, you, and this other her... Everyone."

Clarke bites at her cheeks, mulling over Ravens words, trying to hide the way she bristles at the knowledge that Raven knows and understands things Clarke does not. Not yet. Things Clarke knows deep down but her own worries and insecurities twisting it in her gut and muddling her view. Head and heart, for one of the few times ever for Clarke, are struggling to see eye-to-eye today.

Her mind whirls trying to go back to being consciously aloof all while suffering from bitter jealousy at their sleep deprived bonding sessions. She briefly wonders if she should get over her issues with the rover and ask to join in one night. She wants to feel included but doesn't want to interfere. 

But mostly, she's concerned with Lexa's safety and mental health, so she tries to push the jealousy further down. She started this spiral of hurt feelings and deceptions, and now she must deal with it.

To bear it like she should.

Clarke doesn't know how much longer she can keep this up. She feels stretched thin. Tired. So tired.

"Clarke?" Raven questions when she does not respond.

Clarke blinks to clear a bit of the mess in her mind, "yeah?"

"You doin' alright?" Raven watches her carefully.

Clarke nods, "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine." Lie.

"Clarke." Raven knows it's a lie, mind reader or not. She watches her intently, waiting for the truth.

Clarke sighs this time, "okay. I'm not exactly fine, nothing is really fine, but I don't think you're the one I need to talk to in order to fix it."

Raven nods in agreement, "Probably not."

Clarke sets down the vial of blood she had drawn, "we've never had real secrets before..." She says quietly. 

Raven nods, bites at her lip and awkwardly clears her throat, "Everyone has secrets, Clarke."

Clarke shakes her head, "Not us. We aren't supposed to anyways." She furrows her brow and shakes the blood vial in front of her face walking the purplish goo move, "Sameen? You knew that as well?"

Raven pauses and nods, "Yes, but not because Lexa told me..."

Clarke glances at her as she lowers the vial into the holder.

Raven shrugs like the answer should be obvious, and maybe it is, "I read thoughts, Clarke. You and Lexa may be able to block me out when you wish but Sameen can't. I only knew since the day before yesterday when she arrived. Saw her in the tavern after speaking with Lexa with a large drink- What?" Raven exclaims when Clarke's gaze becomes slightly, let's call it, 'judgy. Raven waves it off, "I was curious and it was a slow night, I mean she was right there," Raven defends. “Couldn’t resist.”

Clarke's face softens because she could laugh at herself, or Raven, she isn't sure. Maybe it's just the relief in confirmation that Lexa had tried to keep that secret quiet to everyone, and not just her. Maybe it’s the knowledge that a buzzed Raven is an ever-curious Raven just with less inhibitions.

 Rationally, it makes sense for Lexa to be quite mum about the whole thing; she had to keep the knowledge she had of Paul's disobedience quiet if her plan to keep order, while removing a member of standing to be replaced with one she had already chosen was to occur as smoothly as it did. As well, She certainly couldn't have the agreement to spare Paul that she made with Sameen to come out in the open or it would come off as special treatment, unequal standards, and undoubtedly cause the fragile coalition to shatter and the price on their heads to rise. Lexa made the best move she could; and quite honestly, it's what Clarke would have done as well. (Go fucking figure.)

Clarke gets why she did it, she simply needed the vulnerable side of her, the one that feels slightly disconnected with her wife, to catch up to logic.

For a second, she is feeling lighter, before her own culpability and remorse swells again as if reminding her that she carries a much larger secret. That she started this worry of deception and vulnerability by being deceptive in the first place.  Seriously though, she thinks, fuck Ontari. She blames her as much as she blames herself; it's easier that way. 

It's not. 

Not really, and her face seems to show it because she's pretty sure she's blocking Raven from actually reading her mind right now but she speaks like she knows.

"Hey, you need to cut yourself some slack as well Griff. Your secrets aren't malicious or made with the intent to hurt each other, or even particularly to keep the other from getting hurt. Your situation is unique," Raven tells her when she falls quiet again, purposefully looking anywhere then at her friend.

"Yeah, but that doesn't make it right or make me feel any better, Rae. It's not going to make it hurt less when Lexa finds out about my working with Ontari... It doesn't prevent me from feeling hurt by her secrets either..." She can't help wondering what else she's in the dark about. She's fucking paranoid.

Clarke blinks, that's just great. I'm going to be one of those wives, except I won't be worried she's cheating on me, I'll be worried she's hiding something that'll get herself killed.

Perfect.

Clarke hears Raven exhale as if it pains her, what causes the reaction, she isn't quite sure, but Raven speaks before she can dwell on it.

"To have secrets is to be human, Clarke, we all hide something from someone. The circumstances behind yours left you little choice. You two are trying to protect everyone and with that responsibility there will be times when you don't agree or maybe need to keep the other from knowing certain things. Eventually, you know you'll have to reveal them, you'll come clean and I believe you made these choices with the intent to reveal when appropriate." Clarke silently absorbs what her friend is saying while chewing her lip like it's giving her sustenance.

 Raven gives her a sympathetic smile, "You did the best you could with the information and situation at the time," Raven repeats as she finishes, one hand gently on Clarke's back, letting the blonde find comfort in the touch.

After a moment, Clarke gathers herself and thanks her friend quietly, before they begin wrapping the body for burning. "So, what are you hiding," Clarke asks quietly, her mind unable to stop thinking about their conversation despite her efforts.

Raven’s hands pause for a brief second like she wasn't expecting the question. She clears her throat awkwardly, "who me?"

Clarke tilts her head and gestures open palmed to the room, the room that consists of her, Raven and the corpse, to which she then points at, "Well, he won't be speaking up, so yeah."

 Raven doesn't smile like Clarke expects. She does, but it's not as full as she's used to, regardless, Raven replies like the asshole she is, "it could have been rhetorical, I mean technically he is hiding something - it's just in his blood."

"Your deflection needs work," Clarke tells her, oddly impatient, still waiting for an answer.

"Does it?" Raven asks, seriousness in her voice and features.

"Yeah, that was horrible. Pretty weak."

"I resent that. They were valid points! This guy is going to tell us what we need to know about this infection."

"You think?" Clarke hears herself ask before she stops and blinks. She cocks a brow as she catches herself biting into Raven's avoidance of the question, maybe her deflection doesn't need work after all, she'd almost applaud at how easy Raven made that seem. Clarke shakes her head, damn her, "damn you."

Raven smirks and shrugs, "it was worth a shot."

"So, are you going to tell me what you're hiding?"

Raven finishes her part of the wrap with a grunt, a scowl at the pungent smell and a shrug, she gives herself a moment and then she sort of bursts.

 "I'm human, Clarke. I'm hiding a lot of things, are you referring to how I'm hiding me losing my virginity to not Finn but a girl from farm station named Amanda? Or how I'm hiding that my baby toes are double jointed and I'm super self conscious about it? Or how about me hiding that I'm self-conscious about being self-conscious over my goddamn toes? How about me hiding that Finn never spacewalked, that it was actually me and he took the fall to save my life? Or how about me hiding that I'm worried about O worrying that she and I may not be soulmates? Or how about the fact that Le-ha-ho-hoooly shit-" she cuts herself off before she can divulge the next secret, screwing her eyes up as she does it and breathing deep. 

Whatever was coming out next is now seemingly a grenade she's trying to swallow.

Clarke's not sure when her mouth began to drop during Ravens rant but she's fairly certain it occurred somewhere between the baby toes and mentions of Finn and then hit the floor when she heard about Octavia's fears.

Thankfully, she recovers and snaps her jaw closed, taking a breath before she speaks.

"...Fine, don't tell me." Clarke surprises herself when she attempts to joke, hoping it lands and doesn't explode in her face. She's not even sure where to go with half of what Raven may or may not have meant to reveal, or for that matter, even at what she didn't say at all, what she stopped herself from saying.

(She's not stupid, she heard the beginning of Lexa's name and it's taking everything in her not to ask.)

Raven turns to her and a snort that turns into a weak chuckle breaks her lips as a small grin grows. "Ass," Raven mutters as she goes back to helping Clarke finish her job on the wrappings. It’s awkward as what’s left could hardly be described as a body at this point; falling over 100ft would do that to you.

Following her lead, Clarke lets it go (for now) as a thick silence falls over them. Clarke wonders what Ravens brain is grinding over, wondering if she's waiting for Clarke to acknowledge her revelations, wondering if she's silently preparing to defend herself physically should Clarke inquire again.

So she says nothing and Raven seems grateful.

It's not until just after they have instructed the guards posted at the rooms doors, 'to not allow anyone entrance without one of us or Heda', that Clarke feels she can no longer not address some of what Raven said. 

Or at the very least, be there if she needs to talk.

She clears her throat as they walk through the halls, "so... did you want to talk about it?"

Raven pointedly glances at Clarke before looking back to the direction they're headed, "I'm going to assume you don't mean Finn."

Clarke softly chuckles, "no, I don't mean Finn. I'm actually not surprised about the whole Raven spacewalking and Finn covering for you thing - that sounds exactly like him..." she trails off thinking of the young man that the ground quickly destroyed. 

"Yeah," Raven murmurs quietly. Clarke reaches down to hold her hand in comfort while they walk. Raven squeezes back in thanks and doesn't move to disengage them.

"So... Octavia..." Clarke prompts after a few seconds, not really sure if Ravens going to deflect again.

Raven nods, "yeah..." she catches a breath before her voice breaks a bit and it kills Clarke a little, "she uh, I don’t know, she... she told me she wasn't sure if we were soulmates not too long ago. I mean, it was stupid and naive of me to ask, but I just- for me, she's it you know? I wanted to hear it from her..."

Clarke squeezes Ravens hand a little tighter as she fights the tears threatening to fall at the emotion in her friend’s voice. It's obviously a shitty situation and the two of them have been through so much, they found each other and stuck by each other no matter what, they don't deserve this bump in their road. Especially not when things are so epically fucked up. She's also wondering when soulmates came to mean they were the ‘be all end all’ of love. As far as she’s concerned, you can love someone who is not your soulmate and appreciate and revel in it all the same. It can be just as wonderful, just as easy, and just as tough; can be as much of a weakness as it is strength.

Love is love is love.

"I've gone over it a lot, Clarke," she looks a her very seriously to emphasize, "a lot, and as far as I'm concerned we are. We may not be as flashy and poetically queer as you two, but I firmly believe, no, I feel, that I've found her here and I'll find her in every life. Octavia, that wild thing, she's it for every me."

Clarke tries to smile as Raven bravely speaks so passionately, it's rare to see her bare like this - no jokes, no tough shell, no cussing. She can't imagine the pain of knowing or feeling something so deeply ingrained inside of you and then not having it reciprocated by your partner.

“Soulmates can’t be one-sided, they just can’t be. It doesn’t work that way,” Raven whispers, almost to herself.

She doesn't know what to say.

"Raven..."

PatheticDo better.

Clarke mentally shakes her head and starts again, her heart now aching for both Raven and Octavia, both in a difficult position, "...do you think... that is to say, ...does she maybe feel guilty?" Her mind travels to Finn, how quickly and how strongly she felt for Lexa, so much so that she gave in to her feelings, couldn't deny them, and kissed her back. Then, not yet came out of her mouth, a breathy, twisted mixture of desire and guilt, of want and pain and salvation. All because of timing, all because of a first love that was lost in a desperate situation.

She has a feeling she knows where Octavia is coming from. (She makes a mental note to check in with Gus’ current babysitter.)

Raven stops walking at her words and turns to look at Clarke's face, she looks mildly terrifying.

"What?" She demands.

Clarke's eyes widen, she swallows thickly before she opens her mouth, “Maybe she feels guilty?"

Raven blinks. 

She blinks again and tilts her head. Her face softens, but frowns.

Clarke blinks.

"Rae?"

Raven blinks a few more times as if coming out of a trance and tilts her head back straight.

"Rae?" Clarke jiggles the hand she's holding in attempts to get her to respond. Raven seems dazed.

Raven mutters something Clarke doesn't quite catch and turns her body to look away. Clarke moves to get in her line of sight again, hands gently gripping at her, "Raven you're freaking me out here, I've never heard such a loud silence before..." she's never heard so much silence from Raven as she has today as a matter of fact; please don't explode, please doesn't explode, Clarke chants.

"Lincoln," Raven finally whispers through reddening eyes.

Clarke swallows and moves the hand that’s not gripping Raven’s own to rub Ravens arm.

"All this time, so much has been going on... I forgot... I didn't think... she never said anything... Lincoln..." it’s breathy, painful, full of remorse and compassion.

Clarke's not really sure what to make of that. Although, she knows and acknowledges that Octavia, the grounder born in the sky, is a little less likely to express herself, less likely to show weakness, especially if it's going to hurt someone she loves.

And Clarke is extremely impressed that Raven respects and loves Octavia so much that though the situation could be a little more clear had she listened to her thoughts - she obviously didn't. 

"I'm not saying she thinks he is her soulmate," Clarke blurts out, in hopes to clarify, a somewhat poor attempt to make Raven feel better. "I'm not saying that she feels guilty being with you, thought she very well could at times- I don't even know, she hasn't said anything of the sort anyways; I'm saying she maybe won't say it because she feels guilty about betraying Lincoln's memory in a way." 

Raven is full on crying now, if the tears are any proof, which they must be because aside from that Raven doesn't really seem to be moving. Clarke's certain to produce that many tears you'd have to be visibly sobbing, chest heaving and hyperventilating.

Raven, ever the wildcard, is able to speak relatively clearly, though it is slightly choked.

"Shut up Clarke, I know what you mean. I... I just never even considered guilt." She blinks and looks into blue eyes, "can you believe I have all this advanced spiritual gift shit going on in my head and I never considered one of the most human emotions to exist?"

Clarke furrows her brow, confused by the tears and the utter curiosity in Ravens face right now. "Umm..."

"Even if it is guilt from being with me and thinking he's the one; or being with me, feeling that I'm the one, and feeling guilty for his death, it makes sense. They ended things before he fell and she was there to see him go, what they had was real, Lincoln was real..." she swallows and looks a Clarke a little softly, “her and I, we’re real too, Clarke." She whispers.

Clarke nods slowly but surely, she knows deep down it's true. She sees their connection, she sees how they ground each other and guide each other.

Lincoln was real; Lincoln taught Octavia life on the ground, introduced her to love, blossomed her like the sun would a flower, but Raven was home.

 Raven taught her how to live.

Clarke has never seen a pair that could bounce so fluidly between easy jibes and soft, passionate devotion. Clarke feels it deep inside and sees it in the two of them each day - Octavia and Raven are two halves of one whole. They’re a perfect storm of personality, cursing and good hearts.

Clarke watches Raven a few seconds longer before speaking, thinking through her next words carefully. "The important thing is that you know what she means to you, whether you are soulmates or not, it doesn't matter, all that matters is what you have found in each other. You know that right?"

Raven nods slowly, but before she can answer Clarke says one more thing, "and for the record, I do think you two are the real thing… I've been there, you know," Clarke squeezes Raven against her in a hug, "Just give her time."

"Thanks, Clarke." Raven pulls out of the hug a few seconds later, she lets out a wet chuckle, "Lexa said I had to do the same thing."

Clarke smiles and wipes at her own tears, "Well, she would know, she did the same thing."

They begin to walk back down the hall. Raven seems a little lighter, the dawn of understanding bringing the dark cloud off of her. Clarke's glad she could help and she knows she needs to get Octavia to spill her guts on this next. She knows her well, she knows if she keeps whatever this is all inside she'll break, and she can't have that. She needs Octavia. They need Octavia.

Clarke and Raven don't make it very far before footsteps echo ahead of them and Lexa comes rushing into view.

"Clarke? Are you alright?" Lexa questions, hurrying her pace as Clarke steps forward. "I came as soon as I could get away."

"Yeah. I'm fine, we're fine," Clarke says as she puts her hands on Lexa's waist, like magnets drawn to each other, before she can stop herself, her body closes the distance until she's pressed right against her wife soaking in the comfort of her presence. Hands wrapped around her lithe body and absentmindedly clutching at her like she’s keeping her from drowning.

Like she always is.

Lexa embraces her back, hands protectively encompassing her, naturally holding her close and looking from her to Raven questioningly. 

Raven, to her credit, bounces back first, "Jesus, you two are gross; Clarke, you really got that emotional that your wife felt it? So much so that she came rushing down here?"

Clarke glares at her from Lexa's side, once, again amazed at Raven’s ability to emotionally bare herself and then slap you with the asshole side of her. The resiliency of Raven is always astounding. She’s always been constant.

"Everything's fine, Lex," Raven continues, "Your wife's just making me realize I'm an idiot." She claps her on the shoulder as she continues passed them to give them a moment alone with a wink in thanks to Clarke.

"Clarke?" Lexa checks in for confirmation, rubbing her back and making no move to follow Raven just yet. 

Clarke smiles against her chest, relishing that Lexa came searching for her once again at the sign of distress, "Everything's okay, just a little heart to heart that went a little deeper than expected."

"I would have come sooner-"

"-You didn't have to come at all."

Clarke feels a hand caress the back of her head pulling her closer, "yet, I always will," ghosts past her ears in a hushed whisper, a promise, a vow she made long ago.

Things are heavy between them still, Clarke riddled with guilt and secrets, paranoia and wondering what Lexa's hiding - knowing that Raven knows something, but still they find their common ground. Difficulties arise, a push and pull exists in every relationship – soulmates or not- and Clarke is grateful they can lean on each other. With everything that's been going on, they've all be struggling with a multitude of things, a lot of it emotional. Things have been hard to deal with while trying to see through sorrow of loss. 

They all have to do better. She has to do better. 

So she begins to make a plan.

 Lexa and her need to hash it all out. They've made small strides but without baring themselves clean of the secrecy they can't move forward, not really. 

She also needs to talk to Octavia; she needs to check in beyond their professional relationship, which once again has become the focus of their interaction. This time, she hasn't realized until now, that she wasn't the one driving that, now that she thinks on it, Octavia's the one that’s been extra focused on her duties lately - even for her.

However, her previous thought threatens to go out the window when they reach Raven and O’s bedroom. They find Octavia and Raven with a little baby Gus cooing between them with-

"You gave him a moustache again?" She exclaims before she sees the added monocle on his left eye. Clarke has to elbow Lexa lightly in the ribs for beginning to laugh at it.

"What?” Lexa exclaims, feigning pain, “Look at that and try to tell me it's not the cutest thing you've ever seen," Lexa lights up and every word brought her closer to the baby before she scooped him up. Gus immediately begins laughing and his tiny fists begin yanking at her braids in his excitement.

And Clarke, powerless against the scene, melts internally as his excitement reflects the buzzing in her chest and the smile on Lexa's face. Full, toothy and stealing Clarke's breath away.

She comes closer and kisses Lexa on the cheek, lips lingering by her ear, "he is pretty cute, but I won't be the one fighting him to wash it out of his nose later."

Lexa laughs and a mischievous glint enters her eyes. "Oh, neither will I," she finished with a smirk and a head tilt at Raven and Octavia, who immediately begin bartering bribes with each other on who will have to deal with the crying baby that will protest their cleaning.

Lexa sits down with Gus and Clarke joins her poking at his tummy and having him kick and giggle as she tickles him. He's cradled in Lexa's arms and Clarke can't stop fucking glowing at the two of them and causing the candles in the room to bloom and flicker bright.

For a moment, worry and doubt, guilt and pain, do go out the window.

This is what it's about, pockets of peace and tranquility, brief moments of solace and safety, warmth and light that make all the darkness in this world worth it.

Moments that remind her life really is about more than just surviving.

 

Chapter Text

Leaving Clarke and Lexa's room, Octavia has her arm draped around ravens lower back as her girlfriends arm lies lazily over her shoulders keeping her close. Soft smiles are on their face as they just left the undeniably cute scene of lexa sprawled graciously on the couch with Clarke and the baby dozing and drooling and draped across her using her like a matress. 

 

"I'm happy for them," raven says quietly before laying a kiss to Octavia's temple as she murmurs her agreement. "I'm going to make fun of lexa for it tomorrow relentlessly, but I'm happy for them."

 

"I know you are babe."

 

They laugh softly as they pass dim braziers along their path to their room.

 

They walk quietly after that; Octavia slowing up so naturally to match ravens slightly hindered gait. The walk may be quiet now, but her mind certainly is not as she unconsciously grips her girlfriends hip a little tighter. In the wake of the family scene she just left, Octavia has been going over her own happiness, the source of it. Thinking about her own family and her own recent withdrawal from some of it, and now the additional tension of all that she's learned has been kept from her about ravens dangerous late night rides.

 

"You wanna talk about it?" Raven murmurs quietly as they reach their room. Whether she was listening to her thoughts or she just knows her that well Octavia doesn't ask as she passes raven Popping the door open for the her and hearing it close behind them.

 

Octavia sighs and begins to take off her small pieces of armour dropping them haphazardly in her path across the lavish room. She says nothing for a moment continuing her path like normal. (Ravens surprisingly good at dodging the minefield now.) 

 

"That's a loaded question isn't it?" Octavia finally asks, dropping a final leather to the floor and turning to face raven in only her leather pants, boots and small top. "Kind of broad," she elaborates.

 

Raven purses her lips and nods sympathetically, sighing before she sits on the couch to take the weight off her leg. She gingerly extends it before beginning to loosen the straps on her brace while Octavia slips her own boots off.

 

Octavia walks over quietly in her bare feet, kneeling and gently pushing ravens hands away before she says "let me," in the most tender gravelly husk ravens ever heard from her. In a way that touches her so completely she's momentarily lost in the force kneeling before her.

 

Raven swallows as she watches Octavia slowly remove the various buckles that strap her in, hands lingering tenderly as she pulls and holds ravens somewhat useless leg with such care and compassion that the mechanic is continuing to be lost in her movements and silent praising though it is Octavia is kneeling.

 

And then her friend Guilt comes banging in her ears and on her heart, as she remembers her conversation with Clarke from earlier. She softly smiles as she leans forward again and places her hands on Octavia's to stop her motions. 

 

"Hey," she says waiting for Octavia to look at her, "talk to me."

 

Octavia gives her a weak smile knowing raven could easily just focus and hear her thoughts but respects her enough to not invade her privacy like that.

 

"Yell at me?," raven tries again with a tilt in her brow when the brunette doesn't answer right away.

 

Octavia huffs a small laugh, "that's more likely," she mutters.

 

Raven controls a small smile of her own, catching her sharp gaze she nods at Octavia as if to say 'go on, I can take it," but Octavia hears 'go on, I deserve it' in her head.

 

The small warrior shakes her head as if to say no, but when she hears raven tell her again in her mind, she breaks and everything she's been holding in since she found out about the secrets raven had kept comes out in a rushed mocking shout as she stands, "for a genius, you're a god damned idiot raven reyes!"

 

Ravens eyes follow her up into the stand as she frowns and nods as if to agree, half strapped on brace Long forgotten.

 

Octavia rolls her eyes, "I wanna yell at you, be angry with you, but at the same time I want to hold on to you and love you and ask you why!"

 

"So yell, scream at me, ask me why! What's stopping you," raven says remarkably calm but tone somewhat challenging.

 

Octavia stares at her a moment, chest rising and falling fast and chin jarring around like she's chewing on something. 

 

Maybe she is.

 

"Octavia." Raven prompts again.

 

The brunette frowns and then steps back and turns around, hiding her face, "how can I?"

 

Raven looks from the brace to her girlfriends back watching her form deflate, shoulders sag. She doesn't move or dare to breathe, afraid to break the moment, urging her silently to continue. This will only work if they talk.

 

Finally, the silence breaks and even though it's hard to hear she sends silent thanks to whoever is listening that it happened.

 

"You owe me nothing raven. You owe me no explanations and I can't expect any when you ask none of me. Not even when you keep pulling these crazy dangerous stunts with the half-cocked heda at your side!" Her outburst ends with hands flailing before falling to her side again.

 

And it's true. Raven has never asked Octavia of anything, but she's always selflessly been whatever Octavia needed, whenever she needed it. 

 

"When Lincoln was..." Octavia takes a deep breath as her gravelly voice wavers, "when Lincoln was alive, while I was in love with him, you were there. When I went to you instead of him, when all I could offer you was friendship, you were there, you stayed...for me." She turns slowly to meet ravens soft gaze, her voice falling ever softer, "I knew... Deep down, I knew it was more for you..." she swallows as she gazes a little more deeply into ravens chestnut eyes and quietly reveals, "I knew it was more for me as well."

 

"O," raven whispers, eyes reddening with the urgency to tear.

 

Octavia chuckles a somewhat watery laugh as she's caught by her emotions and bewilderment of the woman before her, "You would have stood by, you would have let me love him, give myself to him, bind myself to him, while I kept you holding my hand on the side. Catching me when My smile fell. You would have sacrificed your heart for me Raven."

 

Raven swallows and nods, unable to hide the truth. After all, She did, from the moment their connection began all those months ago at the drop ship she sacrificed a piece of herself everyday Octavia wasn't hers, even though she didn't understand what it was back then. Even now, She wouldn't have regret any of it had it gone that way; had she remained as Lincolns, raven would have given all of herself, day by day, just to have Octavia in any capacity. even if it broke her. Day by day.

 

"You're selfless Rae," Octavia continues with a passionate burn, stepping forward again and kneeling once more in front of her. She grasps her hands and kisses each palm, "I've thought about it, a lot," she emphasizes, "and I- I don't deserve you."

 

"No." Raven sputters out through tears she never felt begin to fall, "hey no, that's not true."

 

Octavia gives her a watery smile before releasing her hands and continuing on the brace straps as if she needed something to do. She buys herself a moment to compose herself as she continues her tender touches as she removes the straps, "it is true." She glances at raven briefly, "I wouldn't have done that."

 

Raven tilts her head as Octavia goes back to work, before she can ask Octavia continues.

 

"I thought about it," she says almost to herself, stronger than before, "if the roles were reversed, I wouldn't be able to sacrifice my heart for you like that."

 

Well... that hurts.

 

"Ouch." Raven mutters, withdrawing slightly.

 

Octavia swears, "fuck. That's- that's not what I meant." She tugs the brace loose and sets it on the table carefully, buying herself time to find her words. She crawls closer to place herself between ravens legs, lifts a little on her knees and reaches up to cup her cheek with her left hand as her right rubs at the previously braced leg gently loosening the muscles. "I wouldn't have been able to do what you would have done, I wouldn't have been able to stop fighting for us... for you. Had it been the other way around I wouldn't sacrifice this." Her hand gestures between them.

 

The moment hangs between the two. A silent acknowledgement of what Octavia is revealing without saying. 

 

She believes, Raven thinks.

 

Raven reaches up to cup the hand on her cheek as Octavia's thumb brushes a tear away, "that's because you're selfish," she says with a lilt in her voice.

 

Octavia's serious face slowly breaks into laughter as raven joins her before Octavia leans in and kisses her lips effectively swallowing ravens laughter.

 

"You're an ass," Octavia murmurs against her lips. 

 

Raven just laughs as Octavia moves to straddle her on the couch.

 

 "Oh and you're heavy," she counters feigning pain from the girl who weighs maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet.

 

Octavia hums as her lips touch ravens neck, "it's the high protein diet," she tells her before sharp wolf like canine teeth graze a pulse point and latch softly to suck and nip.

 

Raven squirms and can't help the small moan she releases, but manages to stop the roll of her hips just in time, "easy wild thing, we aren't done yet."

 

She can feel Octavia pout against her neck before she leans back and the serious conversation comes back. Fluid like the easy digs and tender love they go back and forth from per usual. Octavia rolls her eyes at ravens knowing smirk.

 

"You should have told us where you two were going."

 

Raven nods, "I know. Lexa knows too, we didn't want to worry anyone..." she sighs and runs a hand through her own hair, "I was just trying to help my friend."

 

Octavia nods sympathetically but eyes raven closely, "that's not all..."

 

Raven glances away, "no that's not the only reason," she admits.

 

"You're not sleeping well either, she hasn't woken you up, this has been for both of you."

 

Raven catches her eyes again before nodding, "we wanted to feel useful, I know I did. It's just, this whole thing feels like a bit of my fault? The attack, the kids, lexas pain. I played a part in it. I didn't... I could have done more."

 

"Hey," Octavia says soothingly cupping the back of her neck, "you did all you could babe. Without you the city would have fallen,  without you Clarke and lexa would have saved kun but lost Zivas village. You saved Kai, situ and Aden. Without you they would have been lost as well."

 

Raven looks away again nodding sadly but Octavia pulls her gaze back, "don't you ever feel like you're not enough raven reyes. You're more than anyone could ever ask for, selfless and pure. You have been through hell and come back with a badass brace and the ability to smile enough for an entire city." She leans in to kiss her passionately, "you're raven reyes, you don't know the strength you carry and..." she softly tucks a stray hair behind her ear, "you're my soulmate. So fuck everything else-"

 

She's cut off as Raven kisses her so fiercely they fall off the couch and land in a heap of laughter. 

 

"Smooth move genius," Octavia smirks as she untangles them and helps raven stand up. "Here," she says tenderly as she scoops her up and carries her to the bed knowing she'd struggle without the brace.

 

Laying her softly against the furs Octavia can't help but follow her down, trailing kisses across her jaw then slowly down her neck.

 

Raven can't control her hips as they roll agains Octavia, the woman lands a thigh between her legs and presses perfectly where she feels a burning growing. Her hands clutch at the thin shirt nails of her pinky fingers digging into flesh she manages to find.

 

She whines when Octavia detached her mouth from her neck and the warrior smirks.

 

"Wait, wait. Before I forget, you promise to tell me next time you're going for a late night joyride?" Octavia asks in a rush, flustered and trying to remember she was supposed to be cross with Raven.

 

"Yes, god yes, as long as you promise to keep going."

 

Octavia smirks at the crack in ravens voice, "deal," and  then she kisses her before guiding her hands under ravens shirt and to soft skin. Her fingertips graze over flexing sensitive ab muscles before scraping against ribs and pushing the shirt further up.

 

with the grace and speed of a trained warrior, Octavia smoothly, lifts raven enough to remove the garment and begin lacing kisses along her torso. 

 

"O," raven squirms as hands roam, "please, take this off." She clutches at her girlfriends shirt desperate to feel her closer. It's been so long since there has been tenderness like this in their intimate moments; where it feels like they're taking deep breaths just filling their lungs with each other while they move.

Lately, it's been rushed, pushy and desperate with the need to feel each other, feel alive again, remind them they're still breathing. It's been passionate and needy since the attack, like under neath it all they feel they didn't have the time to revel in it. 

 

Like they needed to have each other right then because they didn't know if they would have another chance and not like they need each other right now and don't need or want another chance because that moment right there would make it all worth it.

 

This is the latter.

 

This is different. This feels like they are stealing the time, taking back what's there's and connecting for the first time all over again.

 

To echo that, their gazes meet as Octavia leans back after ripping her own shirt off over her head, and everything stills.

 

Blue meets brown and the world stops for them.

 

"Rae," Octavia says raspy in a way that curls both their toes. 

 

She's met with a slow kiss, lips pressed before her mouth is devoured and hands clutch again. "Let me love you," Octavia says against her lips before kissing her jaw line straight to ravens ear lobe. She nips and flicks before sighing, "let me show you how selfless I can be," she whispers with a playful sincerity before ravens moan takes over.

 

Octavia moves trailing kisses and nips along ravens shoulders, down her collar bones and then to taught nipples. Raven arches into her mouth, clutching at braided hair and rolling her hips again. 

 

Octavia takes her time. She's needy but attentive in her ministrations. She's everywhere at once and no where raven really needs her. She's both playing with and savouring every sound and move the woman beneath her makes. playing her like an instrument perfectly tuned for her.

 

And she plays her so well.

 

Her lips find their way lower, caressing lines and muscles as hands fondle and press into pliant flesh. She grips at divots in ravens hips as she grinds into her eliciting another keening moan from both of them.

 

Eyes meet as Octavia begins to unlace and remove ravens boots with speed no one knew she possessed. Then she takes her sweet ass time crawling up once more, hands pressing teasingly along thighs, thumbs digging in the soft flesh beneath leather pants before she finally begins unlacing the ties at the front of ravens pants.

 

With her teeth.

 

"Oh sweet fucking Christ," raven rolls her eyes in the back of her head when she sees Octavia with leather clad ass in the air, her own pants already undone and pulling at the strings with her mouth.

 

Unless she wants to come without any touching at all she keeps her eyes closed until Finally she feels air on her thighs and core as her pants are pulled free.

 

"No panties," she hears a moaning admission and heady approval from Octavia, "you're so hot."

 

Raven can't help but moan again as she feels  how slick she really is now her pants are history. It worsens as she feels her legs slowly being spread and she complies with a soft whimper that sounds like a plea.

 

If raven had a coherent thought other than how hit Octavia is right now she'd be embarrassed.

 

And then everything becomes a blur as the teasing is gone and a mouth is diving into her centre drinking her in like she's an oasis.

 

"Octavia!" Raven exclaims before her voice is stolen and her body responds to the attention.

 

Her hips roll against the tongue that's exploring her folds before it dives straight into her. The resulting moan she hears but didn't make, the one that came from the head between her legs, instantly makes her wetter than she's ever been in her life.

 

Octavias tongue drives into her over and over before travelling to the bundle of nerves and a single digit is slipping into her girlfriend. "Fuck Rae, I've never felt you this wet before," she moans between licks finding her eyes before they're gone again.

 

Raven is incoherent right now. 

 

She tries to respond but finds her words choked and her eyes are rolling back again when Octavia reattached her mouth and pushed a second finger in.

 

"Please," she finally hears herself moan over the sounds of delicious lapping happening down south. She doesn't know what she's begging for but a second later she's certain Octavia does.

 

The wild thing curls her fingers when she hears what she wants and doubles her efforts with her tongue on ravens clit. 

 

"Shit! There! Yes! O!" Is the responding shout, choked and muffled by furs being clutched to her face as raven uselessly tries to downplay the volume.

 

"Mmm," Octavia says pulling back while driving her fingers in deeper, "found your words I see." She cruelly slows her motions as ravens hips keep rolling, driving now uselessly to find release, "look at me Rae."

 

The hips stop moving, her eyes stay closed, a frustrated moan escapes her while hands keep clutching furs to her chest and mouth. Like she's trying to compose herself and follow Octavia's direction. She was that close to the edge that she is clawing to keep herself from falling.

 

And For a moment Octavia is caught off guard, she was so in control the moment she started worshipping raven that her beauty has stunned her into stillness.

 

With soft candlelight gracing lusciously caramel skin, hair askew, bare, vulnerable and spread open before her, raven takes Octavia's breath away. Blue eyes tear up as her heat swells, the warmth of her skin, the tight fluttering around her stilled fingers, the trembling, sweat glistening body beneath her causes Octavia to cry in a way she never had before. A soft pulled in breath as a tear escapes her has Octavia's heart and soul finally, fully, making the connection. She feels her soul physically reach out and encompass ravens own, feels it connect the broken pieces with ravens like puzzle pieces. The overwhelming affection that she can feel... and she knows she's home.

 

 She sees her soul.

 

 Raven looks exquisite, so ready to fall off the edge, about to break into pieces for Octavia that the warrior can't help but realize once again ravens being selfless. She's stilled except for her fluttering walls begging along with her racing heart to bring her to the stars, waiting patiently, giving everything to Octavia without her asking. 

 

Waiting for her.

 

All for her.

 

Seeing her without looking. Knowing without having to listen.

 

"Rae," she says softly, smiling endearingly through tears as her free hand strokes her temple and cheek, "look at me."

 

And when chestnut glowing eyes meet watery blue, the chestnuts blink to release a tear as Octavia hears ravens voice in her head.

 

I see you too.

 

A shuddered breath is shared between them as Octavia melts for her. she knows in that moment that raven heard her thoughts moments before, she feels the connection as completely as Octavia, as though the world has indeed stopped for them. For right now.

 

Octavia nods with a small smile at their understanding, "I got you. Come here." 

 

Her hands tenderize flesh, slowly resuming their movements inside her as she pulls raven closer with her free hand. She moves lithely pulling her into her lap while pressing deep and lovingly, curling fingers just so, making sure to make love to every inch of her as ravens head finds her neck and thighs brace around her hips and arms encircle her neck. 

 

Octavia presses into her seven more times, Raven rolls her hips six before she comes undone in an exquisite beauty of curses and body convulsions she can't control. 

 

And Octavia lovingly guides her through them all until they subside and they remain in place, only moving to properly hold onto each other. 

 

There's no playful banter after, just soft tears and silent soulful 'welcome homes' before sleep takes them away in a sweet embrace that pales to what had just occurred.

 


 

 

Raven slept all night.

 

As she makes the realization, raven blinks through the early morning bleariness and pushes at the lump beside her on the bed.

 

She hears a groan and soft grunt but sees no movement.

 

She chuckles softly and pushes again this time a litter harder, unsure if she pushed torso or thigh. (Octavia's sleeping habits are as wild as she is.)

 

Another groan and a muffled threat later and the furs at the end of the bed ruffle before a head pokes out with a stern face attached.

 

Raven tilts her head and looks at the mass beside her still and then back to Octavia and just shakes her head smiling. "You know that's getting out of hand," she points out. "I never know if Im going to wake up with you're ass in my face or with your face in my face or the occasional foot in my mouth."

 

Octavia scoffs as she moves to rearrange herself properly on the bed and into ravens arms, "please, you love waking up with my ass in your face."

 

Raven shrugs as they comfortable with Octavia's head on her chest, "touché. It is your best asset."

 

That earns her a jab in the ribs before Octavia settles again, "it's too early for puns."

 

Raven hums in agreement as she brushes her hand along Octavia's arm. 

 

"Hey," Octavia says suddenly, "you're here, it's morning and you're still here." She turns to catch ravens eye.

 

"Slept the whole night," raven says proudly.

 

Octavia grins lovingly, fingertips pressing into raven like a hug within a cuddle before a smirk takes over. "Don't know why you're so proud, feel like that was my hard work that did that."

 

Raven cackles and begins to tickle her side as Octavia squirms and squeaks, "so full of yourself for a tiny thing!"

 

They jostle a little more before following into soft gazes and smiles again.

 

"I love you," raven says brushing her nose against Octavia's. 

 

"Ai hod yu in," Octavia responds softly before kissing her. "I'm glad we talked."

 

Raven smiles, "I'm glad too. We needed that. I needed that."

 

Octavia traces her finger tips along raven jaw, "I know. Next time we stop actually talking, slap me." She grins as raven rolls her eyes, knowing that'd not ever be her route, nor at all successful.

 

"And lose my hand? No thanks." Raven jokes back before sighing and glancing away before tilting her head and softening her eyes. Once the puppy dog face is in place, she opens her mouth again, "while we are on the subject," She says slowly.

 

"Oh I like the sound of that," Octavia says dryly, before becoming serious. "What haven't you told me."

 

Raven looks like she's weighing things out "A bit." 

 

Octavia just scowls, "spill it reyes."

 

Oh she's mad. Not the time to keep joking. Noted.

 

"Well, first, Clarke may or may not corner you into an emotional conversation that may or may not have been because I spilled the tea to her a little bit about things that may or may not have been about us..."

 

Octavia just cocks her brow expectantly, "you suck."

 

Raven nods and frowns, "yep. I may or may not have done that."

 

 Then she stops nodding completely and there's a moment where Octavia can physically see the switch in her eye as she makes a decision.

 

"There's more…and you will be one of only three that know about this.”

 

When Octavia leaves the room after hearing ravens other secret she is not thrilled and cautions raven only with a soft, "I hope you know what you're doing."

 

Chapter Text

 

Lexa watches with brow furrowed and small hiccups escaping her as Clarke tosses in her sleep. Her nose ends up buried in furs, now lying flat on her stomach. To anyone else witnessing the scene, they would think she’s simply having a dream, maybe even a bit of stomach gas -and though Clarke did eat some questionable jerky earlier- Lexa knows it is so much more than that…

She breathes in slowly, her chest softly expanding at the effort. She smells the scent of a previous cooked crappy meal mixed with a musty twinge that seems to be coming from the blanket on her face, she scrunches her nose at the intrusion and pulls it down.

That’s when it registers: it’s all wrong. The smell is wrong, the blanket is wrong, the mattress is wrong. The pounding in her head, is very, very wrong.

Clarke jumps to alertness. Her eyes flash open to take in her surroundings. Ripping off her blankets and getting into her crouch, she turns her head and blinks through the dim light of the room. It’s dark, lit only by the moon outside that’s creeping through the small window.

“Shit,” Clarke mutters, immediately noting her current location is not her world at all.

“Double shit,” she says when she registers the Australian accent that escaped her. She bolts to her feet and crosses the room to look in the small mirror on the back of the door.

“Well… that’s not good.”

She’s Elyza.

But, she’s also still Clarke. She’s Clarke in Elyza’s body.

She furrows her brow and watches the mirror play out her actions; she moves her hand and waves to Elyza’s reflection. “I am so confused…” she murmurs pressing her hand to the glass and marveling at the real feeling it gives her.

This is different.

“What in the actual fuck…” she looks at the palm of her hand and then flexes her fingers.

It’s not like any other time she’s slipped into Elyza’s dreams or consciousness. It feels more solid somehow, almost real, but she can’t tell if this is real or a dream. She’s not quite sure what it means and she doesn’t understand what’s happening. Usually when she made the connection in her sleep, she just sort of checked in, maybe followed Elyza down memory lane and through dream city while she slept.

This is different in that, for one, Elyza doesn’t really seem to be present except for in body alone. Secondly, Clarke feels oddly like herself, in control, moving as she would normally, just in slightly different skin.

Okay, a whole different body, but you get the point.

This feels more like when she was in the veil and visited through her doorway, when she walked as Elyza - a not so silent passenger- though she had meant to be.

Clarke tilts Elyza’s head as she thinks about the absurdity of this. There’s no way she’s actually subconsciously and also sort of physically in Elyza’s world, that can’t be a thing.

She’s not ready for that to be a thing.

She wonders (hopes) that she really is sleeping in Polis, and this is just her own dream and that’s why she’s feeling so in control, that’s why she seems to be guiding it. Maybe, just maybe, this is her own subconscious trying to tell her something. She glances at the doorknob and huffs, “Well, only one way to find out.”

Ignoring the pounding of her head, Clarke slowly lets the door fall open and peeks beyond it. The hallway beyond is long and dark, with doors closed at the other end and a stairway leading downstairs with only a hint of light down there. She licks her lips in hesitation before remembering what exactly lurks in the darkness in Elyza’s world, and though this very well may be a dream, she’d feel better if she’s a little prepared. Looking down at her sleepwear she sighs, she can’t go like this.

Turning, Clarke pulls on a pair of black biker boots and grabs the baseball bat next to the bed. In the boots, small sleep shorts and a large t-shirt, she shrugs, deeming this prepared enough and heads out the door.

Clarke decides to creep further down the hall first, intent on clearing the floor before heading down the stairs. She shuffles along the hall, listening to the doorway she lands in front of. Opening the door she finds an empty bathroom, breathing out slowly, Clarke shuts the door again and decides to be safe and check the last door as well. Just to be sure.

She rethinks this decision as she immediately hears a groan come from downstairs and elects to backtrack, creepy sound trumps creepy hallway. She grips the bat with confidence as she quietly takes the steps two at a time, ears perked for more sounds. Clarke rounds the last step and turns the corner ready for anything but thankfully finds nothing. Her elation is sucked from her as she nearly screams when she hears another groan from further down the hall.

Glancing into what appears to be a living room, complete with sleeping bag and empty chips bags on the sofa, Clarke chooses to bypass investigating that room for now and moves towards the sound. She sees the flicker of a candle light beyond the threshold but no shadow on the wall. Whatever is in there is on the other side of the room. She readies her bat, carefully getting familiar with its weight, and then steadies her breathing as she comes through the entryway into the dimly lit kitchen.

Clarke freezes, her heart in her throat, when she sees brown hair with blue and red strands laced into the ponytail, “No, please no.” she whispers quietly in disbelief. The woman’s back is to her, but she doesn’t have to be Elyza to recognize the woman she knows to be her sister Phoenix. The one person she knows to be Elyza’s remaining family, now groaning and moaning while arms reach towards the top of the pantry.

If this is a dream Clarke would like to wake up now.

The woman flails a little more while she grunts and Clarke steadies herself and steels herself to do what must be done. If that thing turns around, she’s not sure she could look into what she would see as Raven’s face and then smash it in. Sucking a breath through her teeth, she moves closer, crossing in front of the candle with her bat ready and arching back to swing. “I’m sorry,” she says about to follow through.

“You’re wha-Aaahh what the fuck, Elyza?”

Pheonix, seeing the shadow of Clarke come into the candlelight, reacts just in time to pause Clarke’s actions and shield herself. Falling backwards, ass landing hard on the floor.

“Holy fuck, I thought you had turned,” Clarke yells, sounding quite angry. Jesus Christ she almost killed her. Her adrenaline is pumping and her heart is racing.

Phoenix stares at her when she hears the tone, “You come at me with a bat and you’re yelling at me? Jesus Lyza, lower that thing already, who do you think you are, Babe Ruth?”

Clarke pauses and cant help but smirk at that. “Babe Ruth? You couldn’t think of a more relevant reference? Really?” To which, Phoenix shrugs, mumbling about being a science nerd and how it’s the best she could do after almost losing her life a second ago.

Clarke rolls her eyes, “You were groaning and moaning like one of those things!” Clarke defends finally lowering the bat.

“Sweet lord, Elyza, you’ve known me for how long?” Phoenix questions, getting up and rubbing the tenderness in her ass, “You know a walker groan between a ‘Phoenix hasn’t ate since dawn’ groan.”

Clarke tilts her heads and actually cracks a laugh at Elyza’s sister who she knows to be a lot like Raven, even in the delivery of her statements. “There’s a can of beans right there,” Clarke points out. Literally points to it on the counter.

Phoenix arcs her brow, “Thanks mom.”

Clarke rolls her eyes; that was also a very Raven thing to say. Just as she’s about to offer to make the beans, Phoenix continues, “I was saving that one for us to split tomorrow. It’s one of the last cans from our run. You know we are running out of houses on this street to hide from them in, running out of food; eventually we will have to make a run for it. We need to find a good stock location before heading to the safe house or we aren’t going to make it.”

Clarke swallows and rubs her head as it throbs a little harder, “Right,” she says in agreement. She’s not sure what situation they are in exactly, but she has a good guess. They’re either hiding from someone’s or something’s and the rumbling in her own stomach tells her Pheonix isn’t the only one who hasn’t ate since dawn. Things are desperate.

“Hey, you okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, just a hunger headache,” Clarke manages to squeeze out just before she feels like her brain shrinks, her vision blurs and she shakes her head to clear the growing fog. “Nope,” she mutters when that makes it worse. She sees the blurry image of Phoenix move towards her as her knees buckle and she is caught in strong arms. Her vision swims again and Phoenix looks like, “Raven?” she murmurs, confusedly, before she’s forced to shut her eyes in pain. She faintly registers the arms holding her tense at the name before they begin to shake her gently.

“Elyza?” she hears a desperate yell, “Elyza? What’s going on?”

Clarke feels like she’s floating as she’s listening to the fading voice, desperately trying to hang on to see if Elyza will respond, if she will respond.

She grips as hard as she can to stay just a little bit longer.

And then she hears the voice that was temporarily hers speak on its own.

“Nix? Nix, something’s wrong. I don’t remember coming downstairs.”

Clarke wakes up screaming for Lexa, who’s already there despite not being there when Clarke made her way into the bed. She’s holding her steady and keeping her safe. “Breathe, niron, just breathe. You’re okay,” her wife’s soothing velvety voice soaks into her skin and Clarke slowly comes back.

 

 


 

 

“I hope you know what you’re doing.”

 

Octavia shuts the door behind her, sighing slightly as the soft click of the latch is heard and she leaves Raven behind it. She turns, snapping the final clasp of her shoulder guards in place and heading forward through the hall while she struggles to pull her mind from her previous conversation. Adjusting the blade on her back, Octavia internally wonders just what her girlfriend is thinking while going over all the ways everything could go horribly wrong. 

 

Horribly fast.

 

What Raven revealed to be hiding was twofold and did nothing but make Octavia feel anxious. She hates feeling anxious, she doesn't do well with it; it makes her feel claustrophobic and itchy. Confined. Her skin is already crawling and it’s taking everything in her not to claw at her arms in scratches she knows won’t satisfy.

 

The soft growl that then escapes her makes her think she's definitely feeling a little more than just anxiety and that Clarke better be ready for an enthusiastic training session this morning. They have plans to train before the lessons with the natblida are to begin and Octavia is feeling all sorts of unpleasant energy swarming inside her just begging to be released. 

 

Suddenly, Octavia stalls a moment in the hall as her mind wraps around the morning’s events and where she's currently headed.

 

Oh balls. She smacks her forehead. Clarke

 

On top of everything, She forgot about Raven’s warning about the probability of Clarke trying to talk to her about the issues they were having. ‘An emotional talk’ she had said, Octavia groans with a roll of her eyes, awesome. That’s just what I need right now, she thinks as she begins forward again.

 She's going to have to be careful during their interactions to keep Clarke from digging unintentionally into what Octavia just learned. She'll have to hide how she's feeling about it carefully so she doesn’t inadvertently reveal anything is off; they aren’t her secrets to share.

 

More secrets. Fucking peachy.

 

She doesn't think she's that good of an actor. This may have to be quite the performance...

 

Octavia rolls her neck at the tension she feels building in her shoulders, she tries to drown out all the noise in her head by focusing on the sound of her boots hitting the concrete floor. She takes a breath in hopes to calm herself a bit before knocking on Clarke's door at the end of the hall. Octavia can't help but smile when she hears the soft laugh, followed by a dull thud and another muffled laugh. Then she hears, "go on, I'll get the door." 

 

The door creaks open a moment later and Lexa is standing in her silk smock and loose silk pants, hair disheveled, fighting a smirk as she says, "Clorke will be with you in a moment."

 

Octavia tilts her head and blinks at literally all of it, "clorke?"

 

Lexa laughs again lightly as she nods, "Yep." She pops the 'p' while stepping aside and ushering a still perplexed Octavia in.

 

"Ignore her," she hears Clarke call out from the bathroom, "I think she's still drunk."

 

"What?" Octavia asks with a smirk looking at Lexa and falling into the couch, "When we left you two were comatose with the baby."

 

Lexa grunts as she stumbles slightly while attempting to avoid Octavia's legs on her way to join her on the couch. 

"Then Luna happened," she mutters falling beside her heavily, her head coming to rest on Octavia's shoulder. 

 

A dressed for the day Clarke appears in the bathroom doorway, leaning against the frame while she shrugs in explanation, "Raven takes her on joy rides and Luna takes her drinking, apparently. It's their form of therapy." She finishes a final braid on the left side of her head with an endearing smile.

 

Lexa groans, rubbing her eyes, "it's something we started years ago..."

 

The weight of what she just said, though seemingly simple of an explanation, did not fall on deaf ears. Clarke's gaze softens even further along with Octavia's, who moves to put her arm around Lexa's shoulder in a silent affirmation of her pain. Octavia, no stranger to Lexa or Luna, happens to also pick up on just when that particular therapy began; she knows all about the losses that drew it to fruition now as well. She glances at Clarke with a sympathetic frown that was meant to be a smile.

 

Neither of them say anything. Lexa seems somewhat grateful for it as she settles a little better in Octavia's hold when the warrior brushes her fingers through Lexa's hair.

 

Clarke watches the scene quietly, while falling back into the somewhat silent familiarity and pain that comes with the thought of Costia. She's drawn her face; sculpted a treasured moment, intimately touching it like the gift she knew it to be through hours of dedication as she fought to get it right. She depicted her laughing portrait to an almost exact likeness for Lexa and tried to immortalize a memory she never had the pleasure of experiencing. Clarke feels she knows her, in a way, through Lexa and Luna and finally her artist’s hand. Despite never meeting, she feels the loss; after all, Lexa loving Costia means that a part of Clarke loved her too.

 

And truth be told, Clarke's made the connection to her wife's first love months ago, oddly enough, exactly when she made the first emotional tether to her soulmate at a funeral pyre.

 

When Clarke looks at Lexa’s far off gaze, she knows the particular eyes that haunt her right now are the same that haunt Clarke at times; the same striking rounded shape that light up when in laughter she’s never heard. 

 

She swallows her now small frown before she speaks. "Hey," she says softly, causing Lexa to meet her eyes when she moves forward into the room, "you rest for a bit longer, I'll have some food sent up." Lexa nods against Octavia shoulder in agreement as the girl gives her a last squeeze and then moves to untangle them. 

 

In silent understanding of Lexa's needs that only she would be able to achieve, Clarke grabs Lexa’s journal and Clarke's drawings for her and sets them on the coffee table. Octavia shifts a big pillow under Lexa’s head, "here ya go bud."

 

As Lexa adjusts to lie more comfortably, Octavia grabs a fur and Clarke reads her wife’s now errant arm waving for the table easily. She places the items she had grabbed for her on Lexa’s chest as she leans down to kiss her forehead with an endearing smile.

 

"Rest, love," she whispers, "we will see you at lessons in a couple hours."

 

Lexa nods and grabs for the book of drawings first as she murmurs her thanks. Clarke's hand lingers on her head for a moment longer, softly brushing her fingers through soft locks while watching protectively with a soft gaze. Her heart thrums softly while her head acknowledges Lexa’s need for a moment alone, or rather, with ghosts and memories. She fights the desire to wrap her little gay puddle into a tight embrace and try to sponge away her pain, but she understands her wife's need to embrace that pain this morning. 

 

Luna's technique on helping Lexa grieve may not be clarke's ideal method, but she can't help but notice it's effectiveness; if it can lower her inhibitions enough for her to face her pain and not hide behind her stoic walls then, in moderation, she will let her concerns go. She has seen Lexa drink before; watched with bemused smiles as her wife occasionally crossed the line from buzzed to really quite loaded, joined her in such from time to time, and because of this - she knows that her mood, no matter what substance, depends on the conversation and circumstances.

 

So  Clarke knows it's not just about downing copious amounts of spirits; Luna is a tactician, there is a method to the madness, and Clarke is more than aware through her own time spent with the floukru leader, that there were deep feelings embedded and loaded inflections laced within seemingly easy conversation. No, Clarke can't be angry because she trusts Luna, their way of coping has nothing to do with her - it's theirs and she doesn't feel the need to step in unless it becomes more common and less helpful.  

It's not until Lexa actually opens the book that Clarke finally breaks from her thoughts and her motions through Lexa's hair. She turns away and leaves with Octavia after dropping a final kiss to her wife's forehead. The weight of once again, seeing Lexa vulnerable is hard for her, especially when she’s been having her own vulnerable moments alone of late. Usually, she could do it, could be there for her silently while Lexa mourns, but right now, Clarke just doesn’t have the capacity to witness it without breaking down herself. The night spent in confusion with what happened with Elyza, took its toll on her, she doesn’t really feel strong enough this morning. She still doesn’t understand what occurred, how she had managed to completely override Elyza causing the woman to blank out on how she ended up in the kitchen. She wants to believe it was a dream, but deep down she knows it wasn’t, she knows her mind was really there, in present time in Elyza’s world.

 

Which is fucking terrifying. She doesn’t know how she managed it, what caused it, which makes it dangerous.

 

When the door clicks shut, Clarke nods to the guards in a rough good morning and orders to have food brought up, before speeding up to catch up with her friend. Octavia, for an admittedly short woman, is making good time as she moves through the halls towards the elevator, so much so that Clarke struggles to keep up. It causes the blonde to frown slightly in confusion at the haste, momentarily wondering what the rush is, I mean, it’s barely the ass crack of dawn. 

 

She’s pretty pumped about the elevator ride, to be honest, because the bundle of weird energy beside her finally slows down enough for Clarke to get a read on her face. It’s awkwardly from the side because she doesn’t want to be noticed but she’s making due. Octavia looks, nervous, anxious even, maybe. Her eyes are strangely darting around the small box as if looking for escape routes, Clarke notes.

 

 Clarke rocks on her heels a bit as she watches Octavia tap at the dagger handle on her hip – a tick the warrior had developed- one that Clarke knows could be anything from nerves to raging anger.

 

Needless to say, things feel tense, or maybe only Clarke does.

 

Clarke frowns to herself thinking that training is certainly going to be as fast paced as her previous walk was. She better get some energy back that was sucked out of her that night if she hopes to have a chance. She takes another glance at Octavia and finds the girl's eyes darting away from her own, seemingly to pretend she wasn’t just watching Clarke as well.

 

Weird.

 

She's not sure why exactly Octavia looks like she may shit a brick but chooses to stay quiet, to keep watching, though now a little more discreetly. This whole thing is weird, she expected Octavia to question her about Lexa’s behavior. To check in with her at least. 

 

But she doesn't.

 

Which is really so fucking strange. Typically, Raven and Octavia can't help themselves or their curiosity; they usually dig into Clarke’s business, especially if it could potentially become a funny anecdote or ammunition for playful jokes at Clarke or Lexa’s expense. So, obviously, her 'spider-senses' are tingling.

 

The entire ride is silent and Clarke’s growing even more concerned. It's a long way to the ground and the lift goes a lot slower than a drop ship. That's a long ass time for her patience to run its course. 

 

So, as the lift hits the ground floor and the doors begin to open, her hand flies out to stop Octavia from moving to the opening door, “hod the fuck op,” Clarke says. Octavia grunts as she runs into the arm. “Seriously?” Clarke questions.

 

What?” Octavia shrugs, cocking her brow. Tensions rising a little more, not unfelt by either of them.

 

“You’re just not going to say anything about Lexa being,” Clarke glances behind through the open doors and quiets her voice, “drunk this morning?”

 

Octavia rolls her eyes and puts a hand on Clarke’s bracer attached to the arm that’s in her way, “She was drunk from last night, Clarke,” she points out. She moves the arm and passes her, leaving no choice but for Clarke to follow. “After everything she’s been through, she deserves a night out that leaves her calling you Clorke in the morning.”

 

And just like that the tension ebbs a little, allowing them to breathe a bit.

 

Clarke smiles despite herself as she remembers the morning that led to that little emphasis on her name. Octavia’s little grin directed at her over her shoulder causes Clarke to actually slip a small laugh as she explains, “I had this… dream thing with Elyza and when I woke up it hadn’t quite worn off,” she waves her hand, “anyways, I still had a bit of the accent and called her name in a way that sounded like Lexer." She rolls her eyes at Octavia's resulting snort of laughter, "Clorke was her way of returning the favour and trying to lighten my mood.”

 

Octavia laughs and Clarke cant help but chuckle along softly. “Oh man, that’s so much better," her friend says.

 

Clarke swallows her last chuckle; donning a stone face, “Don’t call her Lexer, O."

 

Octavia obviously ignores her. "Oh man, wait ‘til Raven hears this," she chuckles and catches Clarke's resulting glare, “Oh come on, I have to now.” She shrugs as if it's now law.

 

Clarke shakes her head and jabs her in the side, “No. No you do not, I do not need my wife or Raven calling me Clorke until the end of my days. You know this is going to come back at me, clorke and not Lexer."

 

Octavia just laughs a little harder when she hears Clarke nail the name in full accent as she says, “I’ll see what I can do.” She definitely says it in a way that Clarke knows is not going to go in her favour.

"Brat," she mutters.

 

They fall into an easy silence after that while they make their way to the training grounds. Unfortunately, the walk is long and used to loosen their muscles as a slight warm up, so naturally that tension that ebbed, seeps back in a strong wave. As their breathing labours slightly with the exertion, Clarke begins noticing more weird glances from Octavia every now and then that send her senses tingling once more. Helping to bring that tension back.

 

Something is off, though she can't figure out what. She wonders if it's just Octavia’s inner turmoil as she remembers her conversation with Raven about soulmates and O's concerns. She wonders if it's something elseShe decides not to say anything and let this play out as they make the final jaunt up the trail to the nightgrove while she goes over what else could be causing the weird tension between the two of them. She can't help herself.

 

There is an early morning fog that’s beginning to clear off as the temperature slowly rises with the sun when they reach the grove. Octavia walks across the space, removes her scabbard from her back completely, tossing it to the side as she pulls her blade.

 

Clarke watches as she cracks her neck while Clarke removes her cloak. She folds it and places it on the well’s bricks; followed by her scabbards, leaving one sword behind and she readied the other in her left.

 

The only warning that their session has begun is the sound of Octavia's feet rushing her from behind. Clarke smirks as she turns in time to block the strike, the force of the action causing vibrations through her arm. She pushes Octavia back and darts her blade out to give herself room and time while her friend dodges the point. Clarke gains distance from the well, she takes the space Octavia is forced to give her.

 

She steps to the left as Octavia steps left, both watching each other closely. Octavia smirks as she gives a few halfhearted swipes at Clarke to test her readiness, which are easily blocked.

 

Then Clarke moves to the right and takes a swing that Octavia dodges completely before she surprises her with a quick jab to her face with her free hand. Clarke's neck snaps back at the force, as she grunts in pain at the shiner that she can already feel coming. Rounding and blocking the next fist with her forearm, Clarke kicks a knee into Octavia's stomach before using the flat of her sword and free hand to shove her back. 

 

Octavia heaves air when Clarke’s knee steals it from her. It takes her little time to recover, using a technique Indra taught her to get it back quickly. In the space Clarke fought to create, Octavia uses it to launch into the air in a downward strike. 

 

Seeing Octavia fly towards her, reaching a height Clarke knows was enhanced by her gift, she has no choice but to tuck and roll to the side. Quickly ducking her head and springing off her back and back onto her feet, Clarke rounds in time to block Octavia’s second attempt with her sword and strike her with her elbow.

 

Octavia comes back with two quick slashes that Clarke has the fortitude to see coming as she hastily parries. Clarke spins with a strike of her sword, their blades catching in a lock and bringing them closer together. 

 

"You're awfully energetic this morning," Clarke grunts as she fights for decent footing. 

 

"What are you complaining about? This was your idea."

 

Octavia strikes her foot into the back of Clarke’s knee, causing her to buckle to the ground. Sensing her current vulnerability, Clarke’s arm darts out and weaves around and between Octavia's legs for leverage before squeezing and forcing her to her level.  

 

"Yeah," she grunts, "I wasn't complaining. Bring it o-omph!"

 

Octavia's elbow catches Clarke in the collar, before the fist encompassing a sword’s handle darts out to pummel her side. Clarke's awkward position, slightly tucked in and bent leaves her little room to protect herself. Grunting through punches that are forcing air from her lungs, Clarke forces herself forward and essentially tackles the woman. Their swords clang together as they fight for dominance in the struggle. Her fist flies out and catches Octavia’s cheek in two swift jabs.

 

Using her legs, Clarke’s training with Ziva comes to give her an edge as she tangles and squeezes her thighs to pin Octavia. She's about to ask Octavia if she yields so they can reset but the small warrior beneath her reaches out and cracks Clarke across the face with something that feels like a brick.

 

Clarke rolls off her in shock of the violence of the hit. "Fuck!" Her hand comes up to the side of her head where she feels a large cut. Glancing not at the blood she feels trickling down her face but at Octavia, she stays on her knees, "did you actually just hit me with a fucking rock?"

 

Octavia drops the large rock and scrambles a little closer, "Fuck. Clarke. I-I got carried away…"

 

Clarke tilts her head, "ya think?" She grumbles getting back to her feet, what the actual fuck, wiping her hand on her pants she gestures at Octavia, "get up. Let’s go again."

 

"Clarke, I don't think-"

 

"Get up." It's an order that comes out as a growl.

 

Octavia gulps, I have poked the lion... she slowly rises to her feet and tries again, "listen, I'm sorry, that was dirty-"

 

"Stop," Clarke says, icy tone evident, "it was real. I'd expect you to do that in a real scenario, I should've seen it coming."

 

Octavia eyes her warily, "okay..."

 

"Again," Clarke commands.

 

Octavia is given little choice but to defend herself... enthusiastically. Clarke is working with double the effort, it's taking everything in her, and I mean everything - including the enhancements from her gift - to keep Clarke from causing her serious harm.

 

It's the most terrifying session she's ever had with Clarke.

It is also the best. They are both quite bruised and beaten, breathing rapidly as they relentlessly try to beat each other. Octavia can't wrap her head about what's gotten into Clarke, she's attacking like she's angry but she's cautious like she's worried. It’s a trend she’s seen develop over the last couple weeks, one she let herself ignore, but now, there is no ignoring it.

Clarke is on another level this morning.

As Octavia is flipped hard into her back and a sword blade is brought to her neck she feels the edge cutting just slightly. That's when she snaps, "Okay, okay, Clarke. I yield. I need a break!"

 

Clarke blinks a few times, as if trying to see through a fog, before Octavia roughly shoves her off and rubs her neck where the blade was. "What is going on with you today?"

 

Clarke stands up and goes to the well, seemingly ignoring the comment and getting a drink.

 

Octavia, too tired to get up just yet, throws a stick she finds close by at her. "Hello, earth to Clarke?"

 

The blonde glances at her before she focuses on refilling the water skin and chucking it to Octavia. She sits up on the ledge of the well, laying her blade flat on her lap and watches her for a moment. She considers Octavia for a moment before speaking just a sliver of what’s ‘going on with her’.

 

"We once promised each other not to let duty overcome our friendship, not to let it drown out us actually speaking to each other."

 

Octavia swallows the water she had gulped back, her eyes flashing in brief panic, slightly shocked that Clarke didn’t need more prompting. Here it comes. She internally curses Raven, not knowing that Clarke would have come to this talk with her regardless, simply on how she behaved this morning.

 

"We did," she finally admits.

 

"We did," Clarke echoes, looking at her pointedly.

 

Octavia frowns and rolls her eyes, falling back to lie on the grass. Rip the Band-Aid off. "What do you want to talk about Clarke?"

 

She can see Clarke shake her head and hears her sigh, "That's funny. I sort of thought you'd direct this one."

 

Octavia thinks about the secrets Raven told her and fights to focus back on what she thinks Clarke believes to be the problem. 

 

When she doesn't respond Clarke sighs again, "Come on, O. I just want to help. How can I fix anything if no one really talks to me?" Her statement is soft at the end, filled with a quiet despair that feels loaded. Like it goes beyond just between the two of them.

 

At this, Octavia sits back up and looks at her friend who looks pretty dejected and has a far if glaze to her eyes. Her heart breaks a little for Clarke as she thinks about her statement. Clarke is always, always trying to fix things, to look out for them, to make things right. She thinks about how Clarke keeps trying to get life to return to normal for them all, how she works tirelessly to look after Lexa, how she tries to be the best friend she's expected to be. How she’s helped them all grieve.

 

But who is really checking in with Clarke?  They all look to Clarke to lead, to fix things, to make decisions and handle shit. Even in their grief, where she was feeling it as well and then some, they had somewhat overlooked it. She looks at her own behaviour, she's been there for Clarke sure, but maybe not like she should have. Lexa has been dealing with things in her own way, there for Clarke of course, but maybe not as fully as she could be. Raven is, well Raven, she can help as much as hinder in her attempts to help people process. It’s a little like they unconsciously expected Clarke to be okay, to fix herself while fixing them, but Octavia finally hears the desperation in Clarke’s statement and tone and makes the connection.

She’s finally paying close enough attention. To her friend and not her leader. She sees her, really sees her and her motivations.

Clarke feels she needs to fix them to fix herself. Like that’ll give her reprieve, forgiveness for all she’s had to do, for all they’ve endured, though Octavia knows she doesn’t think she deserves it.

Octavia gets up and dusts herself off while going over to Clarke. She grabs the bucket beside her on the well and rips one of her sleeves off to use as a cloth. She tilts Clarke's head back and dabs at the cut the rock gave her. 

"I'm sorry," she says softly glancing at Clarke’s eyes and back to the cut as she winces. 

"It's fine, I told you."

Octavia shakes her head, "Not about the rock, you were right, you should have seen that coming." Dabbing the cut again, she continues, "I mean about what's been going on." It's a loaded statement, one that is full of everything that's been happening to them, the secrets, and the ignorance to Clarke’s own pain. 

 

"It's fine. It's not your fault."

 

Octavia huffs, "It’s not yours either. And also not what I meant.” Of course, Clarke doesn’t understand what she means. Octavia hasn’t really said much of anything, she internally groans. She hates these talks, she’s had two in the span of like twelve hours, and she deserves a fucking medal.

“I mean..." she pauses her hand on Clarke's cut and looks at her, "I broke that promise we made. With everything that's happened and all you've done I fell into some sort of default mode. I dove into duty, exploring the wolf, and trying to act casual. I stopped checking in with you personally.” She sighs catching Clarke’s eyes again, “I think we all did a little bit. I guess I'm sorry for taking you for granted."

 

"Hey, I don't think-"

 

"Clarke, stop. It's true and it literally just took you hitting me in the head to figure it out. We all take you for granted without meaning to. You kind of let us. You just stand up; rise from the ashes and we all just see you make it work, and I for one, didn't really see how much effort and work that takes. When do you grieve Clarke? When the fuck do you deal with all of this?"

 

Clarke's response dies in her mouth and she swallows and frowns. After a moment, she can speak, "I'm okay." It sounds as unbelievable as it is. She’s not okay. She’s fooling neither of them.

 

Bless Octavia because she calls her out on it. "That's what we all want to hear but are you?"

 

"I have to be."

 

"You can't be all the time," Octavia says somberly.

 

"And I'm not. I have my moments. I may be filled with fire but I still feel," Clarke defends. She feels too much at times.

 

Octavia sighs, "I'm not saying you don't; I'm saying are you actually dealing with all of this or are you pushing it down and focusing on everyone else."

 

"I'm not-"

 

Octavia tilts her head along with her brow; she even cocks her hip, the sassy brat. "Honey. You are. Even now, you were trying to help me with my shit remember?"

 

Clarke rolls her eyes, "Well, that was the general idea, I mean. I may have heard you and-"

 

Octavia cuts her off, "Raven and I are fine Clarke. We sorted it last night, trust me and the face I had full of pu-"

 

"Nope. Do not finish that sentence." Clarke jabs her in the tummy. 

 

Octavia manages to laugh lightly, "Fair enough. Anyways, we are fine. She's an idiot, but we're fine, okay? I want to talk about you. How are you?" And when Clarke goes to answer Octavia stops her. "Dont forget that I spar with you all the time, I can read the way you fight and can tell when you're worked up. You’re fighting weird."

 

Clarke frowns and Octavia smirks, going back to clean the cut. 

 

"It's just..." Clarke sighs, "hard. It's so hard. I'm trying all the time and it's just..."

 

"Hard," Octavia murmurs soothingly in understanding. She feels the guilt of not seeing Clarke's burdens so fully before. She really wasn't paying close enough attention. Raven’s not the only idiot.

 

"Yeah," Clarke says quietly, blinking through the burning years beginning to grow. She feels the dam crack as she finds understanding and sympathy from her friend while not able to elaborate right then.

 

"Come here," Octavia says bringing Clarke into her chest and cupping the back of her head. She feels the blonde shudder and let out a quiet sob. "It's okay, you're going to be okay."

 

Clarke regains her composure after a bit leaning back and nodding her thanks at her friend. Octavia moves some loose hair behind her ear after drying her cheeks carefully, "What's going on? Come on, I want to make up for breaking my promise, talk to me. Now that you got your anger out, let's hear it."

 

"My anger? What about yours?" Clarke deflects, a habit she formed lately after being vulnerable.

 

Octavia stills momentarily, she can't tell her that tension came from her having to keep secrets from Clarke. So she deflects with efficiency Raven would envy, she clears her throat, "I um, was not on the receiving end of anything last night."

 

"Ugh," Clarke grimaces at the image that produced, "right. Gotcha," she says in a way that doesn't really seem like she believes her.

 

"Yeah," Octavia coughs and sits down, "so, your turn.”

 

Clarke's eyes widen slightly as she thinks to how she felt while they fought. Octavia wasn't the only one abnormally aggressive during their matches. She shrugs, "Frustration, I guess."

 

Octavia nods a little waiting for Clarke to elaborate.

 

The blonde reaches up to fix her hair and braids, "I guess it's just everything building up. I needed to get it out."

 

"Well, keep going," Octavia prods.

 

Clarke glances at her sideways grin, she nods in understanding. Now she's got it out physically, it's time to talk about it. 

 

But where to start.

 

"Things are fucked up."

 

There's a good place.

She scratches the back of her neck. "Everything is so, so fucked up. I mean there's a fucking baby in my care now. I just lost so many young lives over a chair and now there's a baby. My wife and I are keeping secrets from each other. I have so much to be happy for and yet, I am so fucking sad sometimes… I feel like I am drowning in the weight of all the deceit and despair while trying to keep it all together. And…" She groans, “And I think I may have taken over Elyza’s body last night while she was sleeping.”

Her dump truck of fuckery lands in heavy silence.

Octavia, eyes still wide at everything she heard, finally blows out a breath, "that's… a lot."

"That's just the tip of the iceberg." Clarke rolls her shoulders, "Something feels off. I don't know what it is but I'm right on edge. I feel like I'm paranoid, learning about Raven and Lexa's little Frankenstein project and late night rides only made it worse. I'm like, I don’t know… looking for lies around me now."

Octavia grunts, it's not like she can say that's crazy thinking, I mean she is currently helping keep things from her.

But, then again, her loyalty to Clarke is unmatched to maybe only a few other people, and it's what causes her to speak.

"If there's one thing we've learned on the ground is that secrets can keep you alive, they can also tear you apart, you have every right to look for the lies." Clarke looks sideways at her and meets Octavia's eyes. The warrior places her hand on Clarke's and squeezes, "just look carefully, okay?"

Clarke's confusion is evident as she wraps her head around the words. She feels a little justified in her paranoia now, which both makes it better and worse. Better because she has someone who is in her corner on this, and worse because the paranoid part of her will only grow. 

Octavia knows something.

And she knows something she can't tell Clarke.

Clarke's insides coil as she thinks of just where these secrets could have come from, she has two guesses and neither make her feel any better. She sighs as she hears the coming voices from the trail to the grove signalling the end to the their talk.

Lessons are about to begin and Clarke's about to get more paranoid by the hour.

 

Chapter Text

Meanwhile, Lexa has been left in her room to sober up a bit in more ways than one.

 

Lexa sighs heavily as she opens Clarke's sketchbook. The very one she had made with her own hands for her. She smiles as she remembers Clarke's habit of selecting pages to draw on out of order, how she’s not one to always just turn to the next page for her next work, how she says it's more exciting that way when she looks back through them. Lexa flips quite a few pages in, to a spot she knows quite well, to where she finds the numerous attempts and rough drafts Clarke had made at drawing Costia for her. Obviously drawing with no reference other than Luna and Lexa's descriptions clearly made for hard work.

 

Wistfully, she touched the pages with affection. She familiarized herself with the tentative strokes and practice lines. Her fingertips brushing coarse paper and smudged lines while her head and heart converse over a love once lost.

Still feeling some of the effects of the alcohol and her night with Luna, Lexa's eyes grow heavy with tears as she flips a couple more pages. There she finds more completed sketches of Costia, each with a small difference in the face. On a few it's the light that catches her eyes. On a couple, the smile is slightly smaller, not as full of life as the version she was given. A couple of them make her laugh, as the nose is just so wrong. There’s so many drafts that it's obvious Clarke worked tirelessly to get the finished product perfect. Like she just had to make the face and expression so full that Lexa could hear the laugh it should produce.

And honestly, she could.

As a tear dribbles its way down her cheek, Lexa let's it flow unhindered.

Right along with the others that follow.

She cries quietly, not with restraint but not with exuberance, despite the pain she feels. She uses the drawings to summon memories of her first love, of her life as a teen before she took her reign, before Nia took what was hers. Took what they had. Clarke's drawings act like a safety blanket, helping her to accept the despair, but also and more importantly, to remember the happiness. Luna's conversations may have sparked the need to reminisce but Clarke's drawings help her to do actually do so.

 

Which is why she continues to flip the pages when she's ready. The next few that she happens upon are of villagers of the floukru that Clarke spent time drawing while she had visited. There's a few with the sea and it's setting sun that draw Lexa back to a memory of taking Clarke to see the sea for the first time. She smiles as she's flooded with the memory and the feeling of Clarke's lips pressed to hers, the view of the three blues mixing together effortlessly, and the sand beneath their feet. Her fingertips brush her tingling lips before she flips the page again.

 

The next one causes Lexa to falter and sit up straighter on the pillow. She's never seen this page and it causes the air to catch in her throat. Her face breaks into a small sad smile, the tears flowing easily again as she takes in the image. In soft greys and blacks, Lexa sees herself seated on her throne with the entire class of nightbloods sitting in front of her listening to her counsel. She's even got a small smile on her face, one you’d have to look closely to catch during the moment.

 

There's so much detail in the drawing that Lexa can easily make out and identify each tiny head seated in front of her. She smiles as she thinks back to before Clarke and her had wed, to when they were all alive and seated this very way while Lexa talked about the pillars to being commander. She did not know Clarke had been drawing the scene, she thought she was busy with plans for a meeting. Lexa smiles, feeling quite touched by the drawing, she never knew.

 

Her face in the picture is done with meticulous detail, the light coming in from behind her leaves them all in a soft glow Clarke managed to create with her shading. Lexa looks at the way the light is seemingly reflecting here and there creating such a real image she hardly believes its charcoal. She can almost smell the branches and antlers that make up her thrones structure though she currently sits a floor above it. 

 

Once again, Lexa softly touches the page. Her finger lightly traces the head of every night blood, the ones they have lost she does twice. Again, the picture helps her mourn but safely brings fond memories forth of her time with the kids. It doesn't drown her though she continues to cry. 

 

It helps her float.

 

Finally shutting the book of drawings, Lexa sits up straight and puts it on the table and then grabs her journal. She opens it to the next free page and writes about everything she's feeling. It's only when she's done, when her hand is cramping and her lower back hurting, that she realizes she's effectively rebounded from her night with Luna and inadvertently wrote Clarke a letter she's not sure she'll ever see.

 

Wiping her tears from her cheeks she smiles as she shuts the book and a knock comes at the door. "Enter," she says getting up and putting the books back in their bedside table. 

 

"Morning nomon!" Lexa hears squeak behind her before it's followed by a thud and small curse.

 

Lexa grins as she turns to see Kai trying to balance the tray full of food and drink while also trying to pick up the apple she dropped.

 

Lexa swiftly grabs it for her before kissing her forehead, ruffling her hair, and looking down at the ice blue eyes and huge grin. "They were calling for food for you and I offered to bring it up!" Kai says proudly. "I thought we could eat together."

 

Lexa smiles fondly at her; quite touched by the idea, she nods to the table, "Good idea little one, you set up and tuck in, I'll be right back."

 

When Lexa comes out of the bathroom, properly dressed for the day and braids complete, she finds her couch and chairs full of natblida. She smirks; obviously she misread Kai's words, not picking up on the proper meaning of ‘we’ before.

 

Lexa smiles as Aden tosses her a baked breakfast pie and she sits down with them, easily finding a spot when Situ is scooped into Zora’s lap to make space for her. They've even brought the babe and the wet nurse with them. Lexa chuckles softly as some milk dribbles down Gus's chin while he feeds and Kai wipes it up with her thumb when she notices it as well. 

 

The kids chat with each other and joke around while Lexa just soaks it all in, marvels at their ability to rebound from their own grief, and loves the carefree atmosphere they created. The morning’s mourning helping her feel much lighter and the easy going mood the kids brought to the room are helping her to gather the energy she needs for the day. It’s impossible not to be effected. 

 

When their bellies are full and the juices are gone Lexa claps her hands twice. "Natblida, now that you have had your fill, let’s walk it off. Quickly now, to the grove."

 

The kids get up, gathering their empty trays and bringing them with them to drop off at the kitchen before they head out. They may have people who help work to keep the tower clean and serve in the smallest requests, but it is not an excuse to be intentionally lazy. It may be a small thing, but Lexa knows cleaning up after themselves, especially without being asked, even after something as simple as a meal, is good practice. 

 

It will translate into cleaning up after themselves when faced with the bigger more important things.

 

Messier things.


 

Arriving at the grove now accompanied by the kids, the twins and Raven, Lexa’s eyes immediately find Clarke. They widen as they scan her quickly and she notes how Octavia guiltily looks away and Clarke avoids her eyes all together. Lexa frowns at both the avoidance and the bruises and cuts she can see on her.

 

The kids move on to say good morning and take their places to begin their lessons. Raven stands up before them and begins to go over a bit of history of the clans and previous wars. Her message this morning involves tactics for gaining intel and the children are all enraptured. Lexa has to hand it to her, Raven was made for imparting knowledge, not just because she has an aptitude in understanding, but because of the joy and enthusiasm she has while doing so. It's not haughty and taught with an air of someone who knows a whole hell of a lot about everything; it's taught with an air of someone who cares. 

 

Someone who understands that the information they pass on will help to save lives later.

 

Lexa watches proudly from behind the group beside the twins while stealing glances at her wife every now and then. The few times she has caught Clarke's eyes have been brief and quickly over as soon as it started when Clarke would hasten to look away. Lexa wonders what sparked the odd behavior; it's obvious to her that Clarke is feeling much different than two hours ago. She tries to reach out and sense what's going on and frowns slightly when she realizes it's nothing concrete, it's a muddled mess and her frown deepens. 

 

She doesn't have time to dwell as the lessons move from instruction to demonstration. She is called forward for her turn, she snaps to attention and immediately calls the kids to stand before she dives into the topic of stealth.

 

"You cannot expect to have your spies and scouts to do all the work for you," she says as the kids spread out. "Sometimes, you will have to do your own digging, sometimes you will be in a position where you will have to adopt their training and move as silently as they do."

 

Lexa brings up a few examples of when she had to scout or spy, including when she first spied with trikru on the drop ship kids. She talks about how she remained unseen but sent a message through a spear that had struck the skai person jasper. She talks about how she listened to instinct to stop Clarke from crossing the river, a way to help them realize and differentiate between duty and trusting your gut, but doing so tactically and with thought. 

 

“Heel to toe, bend your knees to help make less noise,” she adds as she dives into practice as she has them practice their footwork. “Think light, be light.” Later Luna will be joining them and further their instruction on how to remain invisible in a multitude of environments. 

 

After a break Lexa is standing by the well sipping at some water when raven nudges her. "So, I have an idea for our next practice..."

 

Lexa raises her brow in question. She's not sure why raven seems nervous.

 

"I'm not sure you're going to appreciate its merits," Raven says to the silent question.

 

"I see," Lexa smirks in understanding that it may be a little unorthodox to their typical training, "but I also trust you to not do anything without reason. They are your novitiates now as well as mine Fleimkeppa. If you see it as having merit, I am sure I will as well."

 

Raven looks at her with slight reverence at the words, she even blushes a little when she uses her new title, "thanks" she mutters punching her in the shoulder in hopes to hide the blush. "Try to remember that for me later, okay? I’m sure it’ll come in handy." She laughs and claps her hands calling the attention of the kids.

 

"Natblida, it's time to put in more work." She grins mischievously, "split into teams of two please."

 

As the kids pair off quickly, looking curiously at raven once they've done so, the mechanic begins to explain their task but not before making a correction. "Nice try you two," she points to Aden and Zora, "you've had the most time training and have already begun more advanced stealth training, you can't go together. Zora you're with Deke," she beckons one of the younger guards in training she had requested from Ryder over. “Deke, welcome to training.”

 

She smacks her hands together and rubs them excitedly. "Okay. In your teams of two you will go to the thicket of the grove and try to remain unseen. My lovely assistant Clarke is going to hand you some powder puffs, filled with coloured dust. Try not to pop ‘em yet please, that’s important. The team returning with the fewest colours on them wins."

 

Clarke moves around the group giving them each a small satchel with the round puffs in them. She pulls one out of Aden's bag last before handing it to him. She tosses the stone shaped puff in her hand before she catches it and tosses it quickly at Aden hitting him in the chest.

 

“What did I just say?” Raven barks.

 

"Hey!" Aden says at the same time, "no fair, now our teams already down one!"

 

Clarke acts like she's being sympathetic, mimicking his expression before she laughs and ruffles his hair, "that's for being the last one up the hill this morning kiddo."

 

The others chuckle behind him as Aden scoffs, "didn't know that was a thing we were to avoid."

 

Clarke laughs again, "Well, now you do."

 

Octavia jabs at the kid’s side, "if you're not first, you're last."

 

"I'm on your team, you should be upset too," he points out crossing his arms petulantly.

 

Octavia laughs, adjusting her satchel, “I'll only be upset if we lose," she says it in a playfully threatening tone.

 

Aden rolls his eyes as Zora, who's back for a couple weeks from her training with her sister, chuckles and nudges his back, "better prepare yourself for her anger Ade, because you are going to lose. I'm coming for you."

 

He blushes and looks anywhere else as Octavia grins between the two and mutters 'how cute', receiving a sharp elbow in her side from an extremely embarrassed Aden. Then she is coughing through coloured blue dust that exploded in her face. 

 

She glares at Aden when it clears; he shrugs, "now we are even."

 

Clearing her throat Raven speaks up a little louder demanding attention, "The point is to hit the other team losers, smarten up."

 

Lexa shakes her head with a slight roll in her eyes, "begin!" she barks out.

 

The kids all scramble; a few launching puffs early while laughing before they run into the deeper cover of the grove. The laughing dies off as they begin to take it more seriously in the shade of the trees. The serious weight that always falls around their training maneuvers taking over them quickly.

 

The adults, minus Octavia, stand watching fondly as they disappear before Raven begins to move around and pick up a few things. Lexa catches Clarke's gaze and finds it a little lighter than before but still brief like she's hiding. It proves to Lexa that Clarke is conflicted but trying to participate as she normally would.

 

Before she can look into it more closely, she is startled from her thoughts as a satchel is thrust in to her hands. Instinctively she takes it before looking at Raven curiously as she tosses another to Clarke. Then she grabs a puff to examine it. She pinches it lightly and tosses it in her hand to get the weight of it. She crushes it in her hand and marvels at the ingenious idea. She's got to hand it to raven again, it's a new method of training, one that sparks excitement and fun, but also carries worth to the task it is to inspire.

 

Much like the game they played with Titus's hood, this is both a game and training. She's actually finding herself as excited as the kids when she adjusts her own satchel; she never had the pleasure of fun like this during her training. Titus wouldn’t even let them have snowball fights.

 

 This is new. This is welcomed.

 

"Want to be on my team?" Clarke asks quietly, breaking her from her thoughts and surprised at her closer proximity. 

 

Lexa smiles warmly at her as the twins are handed bags too, as if she needed to ask. "Otaim." Always.

 

"What about you little bird," Beland asks as he puts his bag on, “Are you not participating?” Noting the difference in numbers, which leave Raven without a team member.

 

Raven grins, "Oh don’t worry, I’m not letting you guys have all the fun. I got the only teammate I need right here," she bends over to her bag and pulls an item out. When she stands she cocks a gun that clearly used to be bright orange. 

 

"Did you steal that from the bunker?" Clarke asks incredulously, marveling at Raven’s ingenuity. The toy gun has obviously been tweaked but the body is much the same, she can even see the faded stickers.

 

Raven smirks, "Reduce, reuse, recycle."

 

When she points the gun at them they have no choice but to bolt as her puff bullets begin to fly. 

 

They quickly dodge and dart away. Lexa follows Clarke swiftly and silently deeper into the thicket of trees and brush, quickly leaving Raven and the others behind them. They move without speaking for a while before Clarke halts them and they crouch by some bushes. 

 

She points and Lexa follows it easily to find the head of Situ poking out from a behind a bush. Her head is whipping around looking for the new presence.

 

"She doesn't see us."

 

"She heard us,” Lexa points out noting their proximity and following Situ’s line of sight.

 

Clarke chuckles softly, "yes, they're obviously taking this more seriously than we were."

 

Lexa shrugs, "they don't know we are participating."

 

Clarke smirks, "they will shortly. Follow my lead."

 

"What are you thinking?" 

 

"Just grab a puff and watch," Clarke says with a slight twinkle in her eye. It’s nice to see it back, even if it’s just for right now.

 

Then, she darts out and runs full tilt towards Situ; Lexa tenses and realizes what she's doing. As Clarke launches a puff at a surprised Situ, hitting her in the side of the head and continuing on to disappear again in the trees. Lexa watches for what was Clarke’s goal and is not disappointed as two puffs fly out from a different direction that just misses her disappearing form. Lexa quickly adjusts her position and finds Situ’s partner Kai. Lexa launches a puff hitting Kai's shoulder and grinning at the girl, who looks at her in shock, before she disappears to go catch up with Clarke.

 

Impressed with how seriously they are taking it, Lexa moves just as she would in a real scenario, she blends into the trees and even manages to find Clarke before the blonde has realized it. She has seen no other teams, nor heard them.

 

Lexa smirks as she creeps closer to Clarke from behind, she's carefully avoiding soft spots and places she will break the silence. Heel to toe, like she told the kids earlier, she aims for the harder packed soils as she moves lightly towards her target. 

 

As she positions herself a foot from Clarke without the blonde noticing, close enough to smell her morning soap, Lexa speaks softly, "if I were the enemy, you would be dead, Wanheda."

 

It's meant to be playful but the reality of the situation isn't lost on her or Clarke - or so it seems - as the blonde tenses before looking over her shoulder. She meets her eyes briefly before looking away again, "and if you were the enemy you'd have more of a fight on your hands to make it so."

 

Lexa allows her lips to twitch in a slight smirk, "I am aware."

 

Clarke is still tense in front of her and Lexa doesn't really understand. She tries to get a read on her emotional state but still finds it muddled. It’s more frustration and anxiety than anything else, though she picks up some guilt and paranoia now a little more clearly. It confuses Lexa further. 

 

Lexa sighs and takes her chance. This is the closest Clarke has allowed them to be since this morning. "Now may not be the time to talk about it," Lexa says quietly, eyes placed on the back of her head and the honey blonde hair, "but whatever it is. Whatever is going on... we should."

 

She sees Clarke glance back at her again, adjust a little, and then nod. "Okay."

 

Lexa nods as well, though Clarke has already looked away from her again. “Okay,” she says softly.

 

The silence is heavy feeling after that, the weight landing on each of them in it’s own way. It’s interpreted differently and causing quite different thoughts and possibilities to swarm in each of their heads. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, lovers do think quite different thoughts while sitting side by side. (Dear America, please read that poem, I am afraid.)

 

While they sit and wait for their next move or target, Lexa quietly goes over what could be plaguing her wife. Moving slightly so she can get a decent look, even just the side of her face, Lexa takes her in under the guise of trying to see beyond her better. She notices the crease between her eyes, the slight frowning determination, and the small chewing motions she makes on her lip. She sees the tightness in her shoulders, the tension in her posture and the flexing of her hands. She sees it all right now.

 

It's clear that Clarke's head is full and Lexa wants nothing more in that moment to understand. She thinks about their interactions the last few days and even the last few weeks.

Her own frown appears and sinks deep as she thinks it all over. 

Clarke making sure she ate. Clarke making sure she had a reason to smile. Clarke making sure she was safe. Clarke making sure she wasn't alone. Clarke making sure her head went back on straight. Clarke making sure her life returned to a somewhat state of normalcy.

Clarke, being there.

For her. Always.

Lexa being somewhat absent. Blind and withdrawn within herself. Dare she say she was even a little neglectful, all while Clarke worked tirelessly to keep her together.

 Green eyes widen, they begin to burn with realization. Has she really? Yes. She gasps softly, tightness in her chest increasing, she’s panicked and angry with herself. Her gift begins to radiate, sifting through the emotions she continues to read from her wife and trying to reach back and grab hold of what she had read off of Clarke during those interactions the last few weeks.

Her chest tightens tenfold as she muddles her way through it all and realizes that Clarke has been there for her relentlessly. She was always there offering whatever she could vigorously, while Lexa selfishly took it. She soaked in her wife's care and love without really returning it all. She had been so blind to her own grief that she forgot to help the other half of her soul grieve along with her. The mourning was mostly one sided, either by the efforts and demeanor of Clarke following the instinct she has to heal, or by Lexa's own selfish needs. Clarke’s personal affinities for healing aside, it is really no excuse for Lexa to not try to heal Clarke in return. To be as selfish and blind as she has been. Unintentional or not, she’s not letting herself off the hook that easy. It’s not her nature. 

And Lexa thinks about what she and Raven have been doing; the joy rides, the discussions in the dark of the night, the small lies and little deceptions that hide a much bigger secret. One she isn't sure how to broach with her wife just yet. Working through her grief with Raven wasn't just about blowing off steam; it was tactically helpful as well and led to ideas and mock-ups of plans on how to move forward against that which threatens them. She wasn’t purposely hiding anything from Clarke but she wasn't exactly forthcoming with everything either.

Semantics make no difference.

It's still a lie.

And Lexa's not naïve; no, she knows with all she reads from Clarke and her actions that she is not the only one refraining from mentioning things, omitting things and completing her own small lies. Though she knows not what they are exactly, she doesn't blame her; she would do the same if she had seen Clarke struggling as much as Lexa knows she had been. 

But now things had to change. 

They have to change. Neither one of them can keep this up. There’s some sort of barrier, a disconnect that has happened between them in the midst of all the stress and despair, though they both work to hide it. 

It’s there. Lexa can see it clearly now she is rebounding out of her despair, now that she doesn’t feel so blind.

 Lexa is feeling better, her night with Luna and morning with the sketches and her journal fees like a culminating moment of progress through the pain. The loss is still there, it will never fully leave, but she feels better equipped now to deal with it, more like herself. Which mean she's needs to be more like herself. She needs to get back to being there for Clarke with as much devotion as she has for her, as she normally is. She needs to give back all that she has taken and then some. 

She needs to make it right.

Not even. No, it's not about a scorecard. It's about completing a duty and promise. About a vow that doesn't involve her people. One that only involves her person.

It's Duty to her wife and her wife alone. It's time to step up, to rise from the ashes of her despair and take care of what is most important to her. Lexa is filled with determination as she swallows and nods in a silent agreement with herself. She will fix this.

Then suddenly, the blonde hair in front of her is in her face and she is toppling backwards as Clarke straddles her and fires off two puffs behind them. Oh right, they’re in a training simulation. Lexa rebounds from her shock of being caught so unaware, which took a longer amount of time than she would admit, as Clarke grabs her by the front of her shirt and halls her to her feet and continues on back in direction Lexa had come. 

"It's Octavia and Aden," she explains, choosing to ignore Lexa's previous absentmindedness. Not questioning where her head was at but obviously knowing Lexa should have heard them long before Clarke did.

Lexa dodges a puff meant for her side as she bolts behind Clarke; she grabs her shirt from behind and tugs her to the right as three puffs explode against the tree they use to shield themselves.

“Little shits,” Clarke grunts as she rounds the tree trunk to go on the offensive, launching three quick puffs at a bolting Aden. Lexa joins in from over her right shoulder and catches him in the butt with one of her puffs as he launches himself towards a bush. 

"Get down," Clarke shouts as she covers her by taking a couple shots at Octavia's moving figure. 

The noise has attracted new foes as more puffs begin to fly from other directions. Lexa and Clarke make a run as Raven’s puffs fly from her gun in rapid succession at them. “Say hello to my little friend!” the mechanic cackles right before she is ‘puffed’ from behind by Kai. 

Kai darts out and slides through the dirt, changing her direction, to pummel her with a few more before Raven turns to return the favour. Kai laughs as they puff around her and she falls back behind her tree cover. Situ comes to her aid, catching Raven off guard with a few puffs before she too retreats from the twins now coming after her. 

 

Lexa watches with amusement as everyone scrambles for cover while coloured powder explodes around them all. The light coming in through the tree cover making them glow and swirl in the light somewhat magically. Beautifully. Hearing the laughter and playful shouts Lexa absorbs it all, putting it to memory, putting it deep within her heart and head as one of her favourite moments. She even laughs herself as Clarke ends up tackling Bill and puffing his face before she scrambles onto the back of Beland and puffs his hair over and over again as he gropes to pull her off. 

 

Lexa begins launching her own balls again, keeping Bill distracted while Clarke deals with his brother. Lexa dodges a puff from Bill before she sees Aden running at Zora and launching puffs at her.

 

Zora rolls and throws some back at him, each trading laughs, taunts and coloured puffs evenly. Forgetting about the rest of them completely. It shocks Lexa for a moment as she recognizes the light in both their eyes as they ‘fight’; she had been so blind she had missed that particular development as well. It causes her heart to both swell and constrict at the thoughts.

 

Bill takes the advantage of her daze and rounds quickly to find an angle on her but he doesn't see Deke launching his own puffs at his running form until it's too late which saves Lexa. His beard is covered in pink powder and his brother laughs at him.

Soon the puffs from the satchels are gone and they're exiting the thicket breathing heavily and sweating. It was quite the workout; motivating and fun, and though the original idea behind the session stealth literally went 'puff' at the end, it was efficient. The kids did well.

 

"Seriously, how did that happen?" Octavia questions Lexa and Clarke by the well as she takes them in. 

 

"What?" Clarke asks.

 

"Turn around," Octavia gestures with her hand in a spin. "You too, Heda." They do so and Octavia swears, "not a single puff hit you? What the fuck?"

Lexa shocks them in a bark of laughter at the look on her face, "what did you expect?"

A puff hits her in the chest, followed by two others, bright green, blue and yellow clouding around her face and she looks to the source. 

"That," Raven says, lowering her gun.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

After the morning’s sessions they split off for lunch and showers before the kids have chores and further lessons with Luna later.

 To begin her session, Luna has Lexa tell the kids to see if they can find her in the thicket. An hour later they return; all of them covered head to toe in coloured powder once more and following a smiling Luna. "You've trained them well Heda, but they still move like paunas in the woods."

 Lexa rolls her eyes, "That's why you're here."

 "Mmmhmm, and why is that," Luna probes as she swallows the drink Clarke handed her.

 Lexa sighs exasperatedly, complete with a very heavy eye roll. "Because you're the best," she admits.

 "That's right,” Luna nudges her after wiping her upper lip, “don’t forget it.”

 “Begin your lesson Luna,” Lexa prompts feigning annoyance, as she moves hoping to take advantage of the situation. Lexa stands next to Clarke as Luna begins her true lesson with the kids. "Walk with me?" she asks Clarke.

 Clarke glances from Luna to Lexa and nods, allowing Lexa to place a light hand on the small of her back and guiding her towards the path and out of the grove.

The twins follow them out, many paces behind to allow privacy, but still watching over them. Lexa takes the time to gather her thoughts again; she thinks about how to really talk to Clarke, she thinks about why it's so difficult to do so now. The weight of her guilt, of her selfishness, and how she overlooked some of Clarke's pain sits heavy in her chest and answers her internal question. 

Halfway down the path to the city, Lexa breaks the heavy feeling silence. Offering an anecdote, an icebreaker. "The lessons went well today… and despite her cockiness, I am glad Luna is here, they will benefit greatly from it."

Clarke hums her agreement after a moment. "They will."

Lexa nods awkwardly. Crap. That didn't go as smoothly as she hoped. She chews at her bottom lip, as they get closer to the square and chances a few glances at Clarke. 

The blonde is walking at a seemingly easy pace but can’t hide that it’s with a certain determination. Lexa clears her throat as she takes in the sight of Clarke's cut head that had been stitched closed earlier after their showers. She hasn’t asked about it though. Training with Octavia must have been fairly intense for her to end up with the shiner, cuts and what she's sure are multiple bruises under her clothes. She thinks about how Clarke was so different from this morning to when she first saw her in the grove, even to how she is now. It’s what kept her from asking.

She's not exactly cold, but she's not exactly warm either. She's distant but watchful, present but not in some way. Lexa curiously wonders about the change. It's unnerving to see Clarke acting somewhat cagey, right on edge. IT’s only gotten worse as the day continued.

She's about to bring up another icebreaker, in hopes to soothe whatever tension is there and perhaps allow them to finally talk, but Clarke beats her to it.

"Um, I'm kind of tired…” her voice is quiet, it cracks a little. “I think I may just go rest before dinner."

"Oh," Lexa says softly and with disappointment. She’s working hard to hide the resulting hurt in her voice, but she's not quite sure she's successful when she sees Clarke look guilty before it's quickly masked again.

"Yeah, I- I know you want to talk, but I'm just tired from last nights Elyza thing… I can't-" Clarke hesitates and seemingly changes what she was going to say, "I'm just tired, Lexa." Yeah, Lexa clearly didn’t hide her disappointment and hurt well at all.

"Okay," Lexa says softly after a big swallow. She wonders if she should ask to join, if she will be asked to join. She hopes it's the latter, she'd take it as a sign that Clarke may be ready for her to take care of her instead of the other way around. A way to tell her Clarke is really just tired of being so Clarke for everyone else that she needs Lexa; not to fix her, but to keep her together like she had for her, to help her heal too.

 However, and to her disappointment, when the invitation doesn't come Lexa thinks it may be time to send her own signal, her own sign that it's okay, she's okay, and she can take Clarke's pain again along with her own. She can carry it too. She can help instead of being helped now.

And it's her guilt from weeks of neglecting her wife’s needs that keeps her from asking right up until they reach the lift. Internally angry with herself for waiting this long, for taking this long for a lot of things, she finally speaks.

"Would you like if I joined you?"

There. She said it.

She tries to play it cool, but she fidgets for the blade on her hip, hand gripping the pommel as she waits for the doors to open. She’s waiting for the rejection she is certain she deserves.

Clarke stops inside the lift watching Lexa with a small frown that slows into a small soft twitch at her lip, "Yes. Please."

Lexa breathes out the breath she was holding. She makes a bold statement -a move to further her silent message- by putting her arm around Clarke's shoulder and bringing her closer to her side while the lift rises. After a moment, Clarke's hand, somewhat tentative it seems, slowly laces up lightly around her lower back to land on her hip.

Lexa guides them through the hall when they reach their floor, opening the door for Clarke and following her in.

 Clarke takes her weapons and armour off, followed by her boots, before crawling into the bed. She turns and watches Lexa slowly follow her lead with removing her items as well. She shuffles closer to the bed and watches Clarke closely, though tentative. She feels like a puppy waiting to be turned away.

She would hazard a guess that she looks quite similar to one as well.

 The blonde huffs and gives her a small smile, "Get in the bed Lexa."

Needing no further order, Lexa climbs in the bed and settles beside Clarke. She is careful to keep some distance, unsure at what she's reading from her. Not wanting to cross any boundaries, but wishing to just hold her close and squeeze all her stress and problems from her body.

Clarke is watching her with a sideways glance as her head lies heavy on the pillow. Blue eyes trail her form and the distance between them slowly, calculatingly, before they go to the ceiling. It happens more than a few times, weighted more each time as the silence continues.

Lexa lays still as she watches it all happen, calculating in her own way. Wondering silently what's going on in her head but understanding and following Clarke’s lead when she had said she was too tired to talk at the moment. Though, she’s not sure she believes it, knows Clarke well enough to know that it was most likely a deflection, a way to postpone the inevitable for when she felt more ready. Perhaps when it could be on her terms. Lexa listens to Clarke's heavy sigh and sees her closes her eyes, clenching them a little, as if trying to force sleep to come.

 

She waits a few more moments before Clarke’s eyes open to the Ceiling once more and then she furiously shuts them again. It's painfully adorable. She watches it all and holds herself back from trying to wash Clarke with calm, she has a feeling it wouldn’t go over well right now. Besides, if Clarke wanted it, she would ask. Lexa doesn’t want to impose on Clarke, to hide or shield Clarke from what she is feeling, to manipulate her emotions with her gift, when she can clearly see the confliction happening within her wife. She wants to help soothe her, to make her burdens lighter, but she reads the situation well enough that she has no right to do so despite her burning want to make Clarke’s mind calmer.

She cannot, however, ignore her own instincts to protect Clarke. Fighting to keep her gift to herself, her body reacts instead. Lexa moves her arm across the two inches of space between them that feels much larger, her fingers grazing the top of Clarke's hand that lies at her side.  The blonde stiffens at the brush of fingertips and Lexa wants to pull back, afraid she overstepped, but her hand is quickly snatched into a slightly sweaty palm as soon as the thought hits her. It’s gripping tight and causing her to find blue eyes pleading with her. Lexa nods slightly after a moment when Clarke doesn't say anything but simply looks back at the ceiling. The brunette leaves her to her thoughts and silently waits for them to pour out of her wife.

Only, they don't. 

No, after a few minutes of tense silence, blue eyes are off the ceiling and staring at her with something of a darkness along with a twinge of something Lexa can't put her finger on. Lexa reads her nervous energy overcoming her, tentative and anxious. Then she feels Clarke pour desire out of her and Lexa is shocked by the abrupt switch when soft lips press quite harshly against her own.

A velvety tongue crashes into her mouth when she gasps in surprise that is quickly overtaking her just as her body is dominated with her wife straddling her. Lexa can do nothing but grip her hips tightly and kiss back in confusion and instinct as her mind runs momentarily blank, consumed by all that is Clarke. Her wife is relentless in her kisses, her tongue flicking and twirling against her own before she finally is forced to come up for air.

"C-Clarke," Lexa whispers out, still in shock, rampant with confusion, "what-" her question is cut off as Clarke captures her mouth with her own again. The second attack is as intense and as aggressive as before. It is all Lexa can do to keep up as Clarke's hands begin to grip at her with intent. This time, Lexa is more prepared. Her mind whirs as she tries to understand Clarke’s move from her earlier goal of napping, her goal of delaying a real, potentially painful conversation.

When her mouth is released and an assault on her neck has begun, Lexa shakes herself from the misty fog of desire Clarke is raging with and causing in herself. Her body is betraying her, powerless against Clarke. She works devoutly, her need to make sure Clarke is okay working to pull her head back on straight (well, as straight as it can be with Clarke’s hands gripping her in all her sensitive places), Lexa stammers, "Clarke. I don't understand. Clarke, slow down."

Clarke doesn't slow down - no, foolish Lexa - Clarke rarely plays fair.

 She plays so unfair that she leans back and pulls her shirt off in one swift motion, leaving her in her bra and leather pants. (She can't be blamed for her mind short circuiting as a result.) Lexa can't help but forget what she was going to say and take in the generous view offered to her. One that causes her mouth to water right before she catches Clarke's triumphant smirk and her neck is assaulted again.

A moan slips out unregulated despite herself, but she grips Clarke's hips to try and slow her motions and tries again, "Clarke, wait."

Lexa is so confused, the awkward tension and weird vibes she felt from her throughout the day hard to forget; even more so now that Clarke seems more determined to keep her mouth occupied with other noises.

Make no mistake, Lexa wants Clarke, she always wants Clarke, but she’s not sure she wants her this way –like this- while things are feeling so off - while she is confused and Clarke is apparently desperate to be close physically. She just doesn’t want it to make things worse. Her heart and mind connect and Lexa fights for balance between it all and Clarke’s maneuvers. “Clarke,” she tries again, more pleading for understanding than anything physical, which Clarke picks up on despite her need.

Hips stop their grinding, lips detach from her neck, but Clarke remains close enough that she doesn’t let Lexa get a good look at her. Like she’s hiding from her gaze that she knows could reveal her darkest fears. She feels her shudder against her and Clarke’s hot breath streaks across her neck before she whispers vulnerably.

 “Please, Lexa... I just need to feel close to you."

 Lexa's heart breaks a little as she hears the admission. She catches the layered meaning. The inflection. She hears the crack and breaks, and the shaky breath that follows her truth. She knows then that she was right earlier in thinking Clarke wasn't as okay as she was appearing through Lexa’s previously foggy eyes.

That they weren't as okay as she may have thought. Unintentionally oblivious then and eternally regretful now.

She hears the quiet inflection that though they have been close, much like the space that had been between them when they first got into bed, there had still been a barrier. A disconnect, with one of them drowning in their own feelings and the other trying to keep theirs at bay.

One that was unintentional, one that grew as Lexa receded into herself more, needed Clarke more, and one that bred lies. Omitted truths.

They never needed many words to have conversation but somewhere along the way Lexa was barely part of any conversation at all. She hates what she had become in grief. Detests the shadow that she became of who she was.

 “Please,” Clarke’s voice cracks again, emotional and exposed.

A small gasp takes Lexa’s air at the whimper she hears. Pulling herself together, Lexa nods slightly against Clarke, her chin softly rubbing on Clarke's forehead as she does so.

She makes her decision then to be there for Clarke however she needs, even if it's just a moment to feel alive, even if it’s to overcome that barrier and distance by carnal force first and words later. They’ve never been the most conventional couple and if Clarke needs this to help break the tension and bridge the gap then Lexa will oblige, but she'll do it right.

Making up for her lack of attention while in grief, Lexa will not 'fuck Clarke back together' like her actions and pleas seem to want and warrant, but she will love her into oblivion. She will provide release to whatever tension she can for Clarke.

Physical first. Emotional later. She’d do anything for Clarke.

And she’ll fucking prove it once more to the both of them. Consequences and fear of making things worse be damned. Clarke’s wants and needs rise above everything right now, just as they always should since she made her pledge many, many months ago, long before they wed.

"Okay," Lexa says softly but strong, turning and pushing Clarke to her back, finally taking control. Catching the blue eyes and trying to look past the twinge of melancholy and desperation she still sees, Lexa leans in when they plead with her once more. "Okay," she says again. "I'm here," she tells her softly, filling the sentiment with every ounce of love she can and washing it over Clarke unrestrained. She doesn’t hold back.

Clarke wants to feel her; connect with her. This is her way of asking Lexa to take the negative thoughts and feelings from her, she wants her emotionally and physically, inside and out, and Lexa is only just now understanding her wife’s actions clearly.

Now that she has, she gives her everything she can.

Kissing Clarke soft and deep Lexa takes charge. Her hands hold Clarke down, gently with care, but with purpose as she devours her mouth. She returns the earlier needy aggression with passion and has Clarke moaning at the feel of her on top of her. Of her taking control and allowing Clarke to submit gratefully to the feeling. She's stunning as she's letting Lexa take charge, allowing the burden of any responsibility to momentarily lift completely. 

As she continues on Clarke's mouth, her hands move to rove over every inch of exposed skin. Thumbs press into Clarke’s sides, running up her ribs and over abs before hands completely cup her breasts and massage heated, pillowy flesh. When Clarke writhes at the attention she slips her hands under her bra, pushing it up, and thumbs brush pert nipples teasingly. The hands slip behind Clarke as they undo her bra and her nipples are taken into a luxuriously wet mouth. Alternating side to side at a good pace, Lexa teases and toys her into rolling her hips and begging for more pressure elsewhere.

 

"Lexa," Clarke moans out, as her bra is stripped from her and her breasts are taken care of further. She cups the back of the brunette's head to her chest with one hand, keeping her close, while the other scrapes along her back over her shirt.

Lexa's left hand slips down to pull Clarke's thigh up over her hip, the blonde following direction easily and slipping the other up as well, locking them behind Lexa's back. Pinning their bodies together. The different position allows for more concrete friction as they grind into each other. Clarke's hips move wantonly as Lexa toys with her a little more, hands roaming and gripping supple flesh. The brunette can feel the desire from her wife mixing with her own, the dampness of Clarke's pants proving to her that Clarke's slowly soaked right through her underwear.

Capturing her mouth again, Lexa grips at Clarke's ass, a handful of cheek in each hand, as she pulls her somehow closer. Controlling her motions of her hips and making her match her pace easily. Clarke conforms to the control, moaning into Lexa's mouth and shuddering beneath her.

It's lovely and breathy; it does crazy things to Lexa's insides, she's a mess of butterflies, a burning fire and quivering muscles, just as she's currently causing in Clarke.

Lexa smirks and trails her lips along Clarke's bare neck before moving lower and visiting the valley of her breasts again. Clarke groans as Lexa's lips go all over her, trembles more as teeth graze and nip at her sensitive flesh. Lexa feels like she's on fire, her own body shamelessly responding to how eager and ready they both are for this. Fears from earlier momentarily forgotten, heart and mind besieged by desire and love.

Lexa pulls back to work on undoing Clarke's pants and takes the moment to take in the sight of her wife. Breasts exposed, chest heaving, sweat on her brow and glistening her pearly, sun-kissed skin.

"Beautiful," Lexa murmurs before kissing her again and tugging at the untied pants. Once removed, Lexa takes her own top off, leaving her in her bra, as the heat of their bodies overcomes her. Clarke’s skin has always left tingles when it touches her but today she almost literally feels like she’s on fire.

Lexa lowers herself further; coming face to face with Clarke's underwear that's so damp it's clinging to her. Lexa runs her cheek across her cloth covered mound, taking in the tangy sweetness of her smell and running finger tips teasingly over where she knows her clit and lips to be. Reveling in the guttural moan and new wave of heat she causes to pour from her wife.

sinful. Seductive.

Clarke's body trembles at the teasing, as Lexa increases the pressure and eases off in perfect harmony, causing Clarke to try harder to buck against her. Unable to resist teasing her more and fully intending to fulfill Clarke's every need, Lexa places her mouth on the fabric and tongues at her through it. Clarke's resulting buck against her is so forceful Lexa almost feels bad for her teasing.

Almost.

No, she's about to get Clarke back for her earlier dirty move of removing her shirt and goes in a second and third time before she can tell Clarke's about to come. She pulls back from the soaked under garments. The rushed out breath and groan that escapes Clarke tells her she better make up for edging her like that.

Except she can’t, she has no time, because something has shifted then in Clarke; her teasing went too far, Lexa feels her legs tighten around her and she’s flipped onto her back. All of a sudden, Clarke is towering over her, straddling her chest, palms gripping Lexa’s hands high above her head. Her eyes are dark with a burning fire and Lexa’s lips part as she sucks in a harsh breath while Clarke stares down at her with unbridled intensity.

Lexa reads the look well. Familiar with Clarke’s inner Wanheda and becoming more and more aware of Clarke’s mixed emotions, she relents and allows her to take back some control.

Lexa remembers their discussions; their carnal adventures between Heda and Wanheda, the need to be submissive and alternatively the need to exude dominance that occurs within them both. She remembers it all and she sees where she made her mistake; Clarke was there, she was in the mindset and proper headspace, willing, needing for her to take complete and utter control, but Lexa teased a little too much, a little too far. She missed the subtle signal, the brief window. She got a little too carried away with her task and didn’t check in enough with Clarke. She forgot her main goal, to be there for Clarke. In every way she needs.

And now that need has clearly shifted.

Seeing the dark pools of blue above her, lustful and needy, but full of a ferocious love that’s trying desperately to speak to her without words, Lexa fully begins to understand. She assumes her new role and position. She easily relents and offers Clarke what she needs. Lexa allows Clarke to take from her without even a thought about fighting it and taking back the control she had in the moment. Another silent sign to her wife that she’s there, she’s back, she can see again. A silent proclamation she would make a thousand times over just to make up for her lack of presence recently.

It’s heavy, her heart beats wildly in her chest and her eyes soften, she relaxes. Her fingers become more gentle, her body pliant.

And Lexa thinks Clarke understands, or maybe she hears her silent sentiment somewhere deep inside. She watches intently, but gently. Even as something sparks in Clarke’s eyes, Lexa feels an outpour of love from above her as their eyes meet and Lexa knows Clarke’s starting to understand things as well. The blonde leans down and captures her lips again, her soaked underwear dampening the skin at her hips, as Clarke remains perched, thighs spread on either side of her. Tongues meet and Clarke resumes her control from when she first initiated this intimacy.

However, Lexa easily notes, this is different. It’s still needy, still filled with desire, but it is more passionate, less aggressive. Clarke’s dominance of the moment radiates as she starts to take care of Lexa. Already soaked through her own underwear from her previous activities with Clarke, Lexa feels slick and needy herself as her wife’s hands mold to her form. Clarke doesn’t bother to undo her bra; she simply lifts Lexa’s back with one hand just below her shoulderblades and pulls it off with the other in one swift motion. Right over her head and arms through the straps, leaving Lexa bare and nipples erect in soft daylight.

Lexa doesn’t even try to hold back the whimper that escapes her as she catches Clarke’s hitched breath, the soft whisper of her name, and eyes roaming her topless form and flushed face. Eyes meet before dark blue disappear with a sinful moan and lips attach to her left nipple. A hand massages her chest right as she is gently lowered back into the furs, her hips react on their own and Clarke pushes her own closer in response.

Their bodies bump and rub as Clarke continues to work her tongue from nipple to nipple and it’s all Lexa can do to hang on to the back of her head as pleasure overcomes her. Clarke’s hands continue to roam her body, scraping nails and fingers kneading soft flesh. When Clarke’s left hand finally presses against her mound that’s still covered in two layers, and a heady rasp enters her ear Lexa actually feels the juices flow inside her.

“I can feel how wet you are for me.” Fingers press a little further down from her clit this time, softly, just enough pressure to make her hips buck for more. “How hot, how needy, how easily you respond. Tell me Lexa,” eyes meet, green wide but heavy lidded with submission and bliss, pupils blown. Dark blue peer down full of intensity and a resounding fire cloaked in a certain softness, one that tells Lexa this is still Clarke, she hasn’t assumed her inner Wanheda, she whispers again, “tell me what you want.”

Tell me we’re going to be okay.

“I want you, Clarke,” Lexa moves her hands to cradle her wife’s face and touch their foreheads together, “I’m here, I’m yours. I need you niron just as you need me.” Her thumbs brush round, flushed cheeks. To further her message throughout this whole moment with Clarke, Lexa speaks again, repeating Clarke’s own reminder back to her, “Hodness nou laik kwelness, Clarke.”

Clarke gasps, nods against, her sucking in a strangled, emotional breath and then pressing their lips together and resuming control. She’s already beginning undoing Lexa’s pants and is pulling them from her before Lexa is ready to even break their kissing. Somehow, without much moving on her part, Clarke has also found a wedding gift they haven’t put to use in a little while. She slides the straps on while Lexa gasps for air, now completely bare and hand trailing through her own slickness while she tries to assuage the burn she feels.

Clarke tuts and slaps at her hand, “Naughty,” she comments and pulls her wrist to her side as the phallic toy is rubbed through her slickness, sinfully careful to miss her clit completely. Lexa nods, because what else can she do when Clarke makes her feel like this? Then, before she knows it Clarke is silently looking for consent and Lexa’s moving her hips on her own to sink onto the toy strapped to her wife. Overcome completely in the need to be closer.

Smiling at her eagerness, Clarke grips her tight and drives in fully, completing the bond and making sure they’re pressed as close as possible while Lexa adjusts to the full feeling. They kiss languidly, slow and smooth, before Lexa finally signals more movement. And Clarke surprises her, not by pulling out, no, Clarke simply juts her hips a little more forward, sparking a sharp cry of pleasure from Lexa feeling her so deep. It lasts a moment longer before she finally pulls back and begins a slow rhythm.

“Yes,” Lexa hums as Clarke drives in a little deeper each time. “Clarke, yes!” Her hips move as slow as their kisses, she drives as tender and as deep as her tongue does. It’s all too much and not enough for Lexa after a few minutes. Clarke plays her body as she should, like she’s known her soul for a hundred years. Soon, Lexa is crying out for more.

“Clarke, harder. Please. More.” Its broken and needy and only drives her crazier as Clarke willingly complies.

All of a sudden, they are sharing the control, they are passed teasing and fully into providing for the other. A harmonious give and take. The pressure of Clarke’s hips causing a perfect fullness to overcome Lexa and she responds accordingly, driving her own down into her wife providing the delightful press of the toy to Clarke’s clit. The blonde licks and nips at Lexa’s swollen lower lip before she moans as she approaches her own release from the force of it all. Lexa’s own echoing moan joins her in a crescendo of smacking skin, clenching muscles and scraping nails.

A few more driving thrusts and Clarke takes Lexa so far over the edge that she screams her name. LIquid rushes out of her, soaking their thighs and causing Clarke to pound even more furiously as she too falls with her. The blonde collapses as her hips lose rhythm and her body fails her.

Lexa allows her no time to recover. Her chest heaving as she shoves Clarke onto her back slipping the toy from her easily. She spreads her legs and dives in to the source of Clarke’s heat.

In a desire to taste her wife, to complete her task from earlier, to make up for her teasing, to thank her for that moment, Lexa laps at the wetness eagerly. Two fingers find their way deep inside of her wife as Clarke bucks at the intrusion and she tries to catch her the breath that escapes her. It’s not deep but it’s filling, Lexa works to build her back up after falling so beautifully with her only moments ago.

 "Yes," Clarke moans out, "finally," she says in sweet relief as Lexa leans into her fully. Tongue taking broad strokes and licking through the now overflow of juices. She's so wet, Lexa's tongue feels like its everywhere at once to both of them.

Sensing the trembling bucking against her face Lexa lifts Clarke's hips and slips her legs over her shoulders giving her a new angle. “Holy fuck! Lexa! Yes!” With every lick and press of her tongue Lexa washes Clarke over with her love and desire. She works to increase Clarke's pleasure both physically and emotionally with enthusiasm. Purposefully misses her clit, drives her to the brink, before she lays the hammer down and is driving her two fingers deeper into her fluttering opening with a tender need to provide.

Clarke screams her name out as Lexa moans at the tight clenching she feels. The increase in slickness allows her to spin her wrist over and hit Clarke's back wall. Stretching her out and hitting a different spot now, has Clarke bucking wildly as her clit is finally assaulted by her skilled tongue. Her moans are strangled and jagged as she fights for breath through her trembling body. Lexa is relentless in her pressure and speed, reading Clarke so well she knows she won't come until she changes her angle again. Like this, she can keep her on the edge before she finally lets her fall. 

Hitting where her fingers are inside of Clarke the blonde moans so deep when it coaxes even more liquid from her, "Jesus. Lex. So deep," she stammers out. “So-so good. Don’t stop babe. Beja.”

 

A few more thrusts and violent bumps of Clarke's pussy on her face, Lexa flips her wrist again and massages her front wall without losing pace. 

"Lexa!" Clarke cries out in desperation. It's needy and questioning in all the right ways.

The pressure is good but not enough to drive her over, not yet. Lexa pumps into her a few more times before Clarke gasps her name again, eyes meeting green and flashing with something intense. Something clicks again between them, sparks between the meeting of eyes, and Lexa understands why she sounded like she was questioning her with name alone.

Like she was questioning if Lexa truly was back. If she was really there. If she was okay. Lexa leans back just far enough, saliva and slickness dripping from her chin and swollen lips as she speaks, "I'm right here, niron. Let go for me, Clarke." I can take. She silently adds, she can take it and so much more again now.

The next time she drives her fingers into Clarke, it's with intent to finally have her peak and release once more. It's loving pressure right where she needs it, right when she needs it with the addition of a merciless tongue on her clit.

Moments later, Clarke finally crashes and her hips tense before bucking without any real rhythm. Lexa's fingers fight against clenching walls to keep their pressure and pace for her. Another gush of wetness pours out of Clarke and splashes Lexa's chin, hand and further down her wrist.  

"F-f-fuck, Lexa!" Clarke screams out as a second orgasm rocks her body, body sent into trembles and shakes as her eyes disappear in the back of her head. Tears spring out of her eyes without permission and Lexa, seeing it all, feeling it all, quickly brings her down. Breathing heavily, she is coaxed down and Lexa catches her and brings their bodies quickly together. Pulling Clarke to lie with her head on her chest she holds her tight as Clarke comes back from space and begins crying in earnest. Lexa pulls the disregarded furs up and over them as their bodies quickly cool from the burning fire that had consumed them.

With the shock of her orgasms and the intensity of the moment they shared, the full body release of tension, Lexa let's her cry into her chest. Fingers tangle in Lexa's hair and claw at her neck. Fully understanding that there's a good chance this is the result of an expulsion of so much tension that goes beyond just sexual, Lexa stays silent until Clarke finally gathers herself enough to meet her eyes. They're heavy with tears and exhaustion and she peers at her somewhat sleepily. 

"Rest, Clarke." Lexa says softly, kissing her forehead. "We can talk later. I’ve got you." 

Clarke smiles at her softly; sniffling as Lexa’s forefinger rubs against her nose to catch a bit of spittle. "Gross," she murmurs adorably, a glint in her eye at the tenderness that overcomes her as she nods and follows the pressure of Lexa's other hand stroking her back into relaxing fully once more against her wife. Clarke relents, she allows Lexa to control the moment, to protect her as she comes through her high and the intensity of her emotions. She’s surprised at how hard it seems for her, like she’s still sort of waiting for the moment to burst, for Lexa to turn back within herself like she has been previously.

When Lexa doesn’t, when Lexa continues to silently prove to Clarke that she’s there for her in silence and presence alone, their overwhelming trust and love carries her body as well as her mind into relaxing more into the embrace. Sighing softly, as she feels and blinks slightly against Lexa’s soft encompassing bubble of light that begins right where her head lies on her chest. Clarke is overwhelmed by the affection she desperately needed to feel but didn’t know how to seek with everything that had been happening. Soon, she falls asleep to the soft breathing and thumping of Lexa's heart.

Lexa, dutiful and protecting, working hard to make up for her inadequacies before, watches her sleep. not allowing herself to falling prey to it herself despite the warmth and calming feeling to do so.

Clarke doesn't know that Lexa stays awake -despite her affinity that had grown for naps- and watches over Clarke, protectively projecting love and care in hopes of giving her a peaceful sleep. She doesn't know that Lexa's working her mind to figure out how to tell Clarke she's sorry for how she's been behaving, for what she's been hiding and for what she will have to do.

 Clarke rests peacefully under her tender gaze up until she doesnt.

Right until she meets Claire once more in the veil, and man, does that moment ever suck.

 

Chapter Text

Lexa watches Clarke nap in her arms. They're comfortably sprawled out, bodies and sheets still damp with their sweat from earlier. She hasn't moved except for the soft stroking motions she's making through Clarke's hair.

 

Her protective glow encompasses them in lovely warmth and calming light. She allows it to wash over Clarke, to seep within her and lull her into a safety net for her to have sweet dreams. Unable to actually read her mind, especially with her blue windows closed, Lexa believes it's working if her wife's small content smile is anything to go by.

 

Lexa hums and sings the chorus to their song for her. A soft smile graces her own lips as she finds the moment as peaceful as it should be. She hums and she sings, she goes through the song twice before her mind, surely driven by her heart, starts to wander. It starts to go over how she's been behaving, what she's been failing to do, what she has been doing and where it has lead her. She also, goes over what it took to get herself back to feeling more like her self again, how much effort and time it took her to properly grieve when she was allowed it for once.

 

No one had ever let Lexa properly fall into herself and allow her to feel sadness like Clarke had recently. Every death that came before Clarke's presence Lexa had to put her mask on and continue, she had to survive.  Even alone, she was rarely given enough time to even explore the possibility of true sadness and loss. Yes, she feels each loss, feels it all but she's never had the chance to understand a true and healthy process through it. 

 

Which meant, when finally given the chance, she felt them all all over again. That's why it took her so long to find her way back to clarke, that's why she had been so lost. She had spent the time going over and grieving over all of her loss, not just the attack on polis. It was intense, it was torture, but it was needed. Necessary. 

 

Lexa was so blessed; so thankful for Clarke and their life together, for the hope she brings her. So much so, that she would never regret a moment. However, there is a small part of Lexa that still feels a little resentment towards her, Perhaps foolishly, but there it is. She taught her to let herself feel and be vulnerable to the fullest extent. It was true what she had said to Clarke, that now she feels too much. And it is now also true that some of that resentment comes from Clarke allowing her that time and space, that freedom to process the grief and agony in her life; That Clarke Allowed her to break down without ever committing herself to do the same. 

 

Then again, she hadn't really given her the chance either, when given her freedom to grieve with relative normalcy she ran with it. Lexa scrunches up her face at the rapid pace of her thoughts. Her heartbeat is moving a little faster, her chest tense.

 

It's then, when she glances at Clarke to centre herself again that she sees the blondes face, contorted in discomfort while she clings to her. It's then, that Lexa notes her heartbeats irregularity is because of Clarke's rampant mind and emotions. 

 

It is now when Lexa clears her mind of all but Clarke. She shines her light a little brighter, pours her loves and protection into her with such force it should help ease Clarke's trembles. However, all it does is calm her face slightly. 

 

Clarke's emotions are all over the map. There's confusion, desperation, a healthy dose of fear and heavy guilt. Lexa strokes her cheek, "I'm here, Clarke."

 

Clarke trembles a little more. Lexa continues her motions, "I'm here. You're safe."

 


 

Clarke sighs under the warmth of the noonday sun. Her eyes are closed, hands folded on her stomach, as she lies in a field of grass. Her head is propped up on a warm stomach of the body lying perpendicular above her, steadily rising and falling with each breath. The clear blue, cloudless sky of a summer day is encompassing her senses. The warmth of the sun feels wonderful and healing, reaching deep within and touching her soul. Her ears are filled with a soft warm breeze, children's laughter in the distance, the birds chirping, and the steady thumping of a lovers heart.

“This is what it’s all about,” she says dreamily.

“What is?” Lexa’s melodic voice rings.

“Life.”

She feels soft fingertips start brushing through her loose hair, adding braids and massaging her scalp. “Life is about lying in a field of grass, being lazy and basking in the sun?” She asks playfully.

Clarke nudges her side by reaching up above her head, “Jerk. You know what I mean.”

She feels Lexa’s belly laugh as it jostles her head and she basks in its warmth, soaks in the moment and commits it to memory. 

“Sha, Clarke. I know what you mean.” Lexa's hand strokes through her hair again, “Listen to them, niron, you gave them that.”

As if on cue the laughter in the distance picks up, it becomes louder and more clear. Less of a cloud and more of a presence, it’s peaceful yet jubilant. 

It's cleansing. Pure.

Clarke opens her eyes to the sounds and sees the nightbloods running around playing a game of tag. All of them are practically glowing in the light of the sun, smiles radiating and healed. Not a scratch or bruise or broken limb in sight. 

She sits up for a better look and feels Lexa adjust with her; her legs coming to brace around Clarke’s hips, hands coming to encompass her stomach and hold her close. Lexa’s warm breath tickles her neck as her soft lips make contact with her neck and Clarke could cry in the euphoric feeling she has. The kids are truly at play, unburdened, no weapons on this excursion, she notes with a spark of excitement.

This is not training, this is joy, and this is fun for fun’s sake. This is living. These are children with the opportunity to be just that.

She sees unbridled smiles and can’t help but feel her own grow to match. She doesn’t have to look to know Lexa has the same one on her face as well. She can feel the smile on her lips that linger by her neck.

 Clarke feels content, like she had lived through a thousand wars, completed her trials and now finally gets to bask in the knowledge that they owe nothing more to their people. Owe nothing more to this world but to live and love the life they fought to create for themselves.

She hears Lexa laugh and call the children back to them for their picnic. 

Clarke sees all the remaining nightbloods now running towards them, with Aden and Zora holding hands, leading the pack. Kai and her auburn hair, wild with tangles bouncing behind her as she closes the distance as well. She laughs herself when she sees Situ carrying a now toddler sized Gus on her back, he's holding on to her hair like she’s his personal pony and she doesn't seem to mind at all. In fact, she encourages his imagination by whinnying and huffing air through her lips.

Clarke is overcome by so much joy, so much warmth and love directed at and around her, that tears escape her eyes unashamedly. This is what she wanted. 

This is all she ever wanted, for all of them.

Life. Unburdened. Peaceful.

The way they deserve it to be.

“Clarke,” another voice breaks her concentration, and her vision of the kids running towards her slows.

“No,” she resists the familiar voice, as she wills the vision to catch back up to proper speed. She tries to ignore the pulling sensation in the back of her mind.

“Clarke.”

“No,” she growls out, more determined, she sees the image of the kid’s speed up again to a normal pace. She feels herself fight a little harder to keep it before she is screamed at with such intensity that she feels herself shift, as if physically pulled in a completely different direction.


 

"Clarke!"

Clarke blinks against the new sensations of blinding white light and a foggy mist. Whispers begin to fill her ears, slamming of doors and gusts of wind pull her to her feet.

She recognizes her location easily; it's one that will be forever burned into her mind. 

The veil.

“Claire?” Clarke calls, now recognizing the voice from earlier, the one that pulled her here.

“What did you do!?” Claire’s voice rings in her head, so loud and forceful that Clarke is forced to cup her ears in attempts to block it. It does no good; the voice is in her head and pummeling her heart, more than it is in her ears. 

Clarke blinks again as hands dig into her shoulders and shake her. Claire’s face appears through the fog in front of her, filled with worry and intensity.

“What?” She feels herself yell back just as intensely.

“What did you do Clarke?”

Clarke shakes her head confused, “N-Nothing. I didn’t bring me here, you did!”

“No! Not now, I mean with Elyza!” Claire loses none of her intensity. 

“What are you talking about?”

“Last night! Last night you were there! Something happened! I missed it while I was checking on Alex!”

Clarke shakes her head again, trying to force herself to remember. It’s blurry. She scrunches up her face, "I- I don’t know what happened. I was asleep in Polis and the next second I was awake in Elyza’s world.”

Claire fixes her with a poignant stare. She knows there’s more. The hands gripping her shoulders continue to dig in, as if to keep her from bolting. "Clarke, tell me what happened! Exactly, what happened."

“I… I wasn’t in Elyza’s world, but my mind was. I think, I mean, I was… in Elyza?” She says it like a question, because honestly, she still doesn’t really understand what happened that night. Or for that matter, why Claire is so pissed at her now.

It's not like she had a choice in the matter, Clarke thinks.

Claire’s grip on her tenses and then releases, she turns around and grips her forehead in thought. “Foolish,” she hears her murmur, before a slur of trig and English curses leave her as well. Clarke puts her hand on her shoulder, trying to get her to turn around.

“I don’t understand. What’s wrong, what happened?” What did I do, she can’t bring herself to ask.

Claire whirls back around in a cloud of fog, “You happened! I warned you about Elyza! I told you she has a hard time accepting us, her connections to her other selves, and I had been making progress with her trust up until today! Up until you decided to take over her body!”


“I didn’t… I don’t….”

“You did.”

“That doesn’t make sense! How could I even do that? Let alone while asleep! I didn't have control of it!" Clarke screams back, nervous, worried for what harm she caused by accident. “I don’t know how it happened!” her last cry is strangled, desperate. 

She didn’t know, she doesn’t know. She didn’t mean to. Her body begins to tremble, her chest wracks with sobs.

Claire’s posture seems to soften in the presence of Clarke’s desperation. Her face softens as she looks at her. Softer blue eyes fix on her as a hand, now gentle, comes to rest over her heart right before she is pulled into a tight embrace. Claire cups the back of her head soothingly; Clarke can feel her warmth, “Shhh, Clarke, shhh. I am sorry. Shhh, ai yongon.”

Clarke sinks into the embrace and works to calm herself with Claire’s help. “I’m sorry.”

Claire pulls back slightly, just enough to see her face, “you don't have to be sorry if you truly have no idea what happened that night. I'm sorry for yelling at you." She strokes Clarke's cheek, "Listen, We don’t have much time child. Tell me what you know, if you didn’t mean to do it, tell me how it happened. What do you remember?”

Clarke nods and takes a deep breath, recalling the evening, starting with how she woke up while cuddled into Lexa and Gus on the couch, to Luna knocking at their door.

“I was in Polis. I had some time alone, I was sketching Gustus after I had..." Clarke pauses, before continuing figuring Claire already knew, "Before i had radioed Ontari. Lexa was out with Luna and I had passed Gus off to his nurse to take him to the crib in the natblida dorm. I had a headache… thought it was from not sleeping properly… could have just been all the stress, I'm not sure." She shrugs.

 "I had a draught of Lexa’s sleep tea to help ease it and I curled up in bed with my sketch book.” Clarke squints as she thinks back, “I fell asleep surprisingly quickly. I don’t remember dreaming, but the next thing I knew I could smell musty sheets and that’s when I woke in Elyza’s world. I thought… I originally thought I was actually just dreaming, how could I actually be there right? Silly me. Everything was so real, feels as real as this, as real as you and as real as when I’m with Lexa. I really should have known, maybe I did, but if I did I didn't want to believe it."

Claire nods calmly, absorbing what she's saying and her mind obviously going in a million directions at once. She’s trying to capture all the possibilities as Clarke speaks. Clarke recognizes the look on her face well, she makes it too, it's like looking in a mirror and seeing her older self. 

So the younger blonde nods back and continues, “I think I almost killed Rav- No, Phoenix, I might have freaked out a little, or somehow triggered Elyza, and that’s when I started to really believe that it really wasn’t a dream. My head was pounding again, like my brain was being beat into submission… I fell and everything went black… but,” Clarke pauses as she remembers. 

“But what?” Claire urges.

“I held on, I hung on as long as I could. Right Up until I heard Elyza speak. She said... she said she didn’t remember coming downstairs…” Clarke trails off quietly trying to wrap her own mind around it. Maybe she needed this; maybe speaking with Claire will help her understand.

For her part, Claire is quiet after her explanation. Clarke sees her eyes calculating and sifting through the information, while she spends the minutes listening to the ambient noises around her. She hears the ongoing whispers, the doors opening and closing and the gusts of wind, she waits.

But Claire’s warning that they didn’t have much time echoes in the back of her mind, so after what feels entirely too long, she clears her throat. “Claire?”

The older woman blinks and slightly shakes her head, “Sorry, there's a lot going on and I was listening to the spirits,” Claire explains.

 Clarke nods dumbly, thinking about how she didn’t hear anything but whispers and wind and doors. Claire’s lip twitches somewhat knowingly, probably hearing her thoughts again. Feeling exposed, Clarke glances away. 

Claire’s soft hand runs along her cheek again to make her meet her gaze, “You will hear them clearly soon enough, Clarke. No need to wish to rush it.”

Clarke swallows at the words, unsure what they mean. They don’t come like a cold warning, Claire delivers the message warmly, softly, as if trying to prepare her with a motherly caress. They simply wash over her like unknown truth, one she is being told she doesn’t need to understand yet. So she lets it go, although she stores it in the back of her mind - She wouldn’t be Clarke if she hadn’t.

“So…do you know what happened?” Clarke asks finally.

“Not exactly for certain, but it seems like you may have taken over Elyza’s body while her mind was in rem sleep… Although, how you managed that from sleeping in Polis, is a little beyond me; Perhaps, the connection you made with Elyza is stronger than I first thought; maybe you are even stronger than I thought,” she pauses again. “I think you are correct when you say the shock of almost killing Phoenix must have triggered Elyza out of rem, and I would hazard to guess she started to fight for control. I’m surprised you didn’t hear her while she was, she can be quite vocal, such colourful language," Claire offers in solidarity, a soft smile playing on her lips, which Clarke mimics.

“I know the type.”

“Sha, don’t we both,” Claire agrees warmly. “So it seems it was a case of sleepwalking for both you," she continues.

Clarke huffs out a laugh, “Great explanation.”

“It’s more likely than anything else Clarke. You broke some sort of barrier and now you must be more careful,” Claire says turning stern, a switch Clarke knows very well, a switch that exists within herself. She nods, knowing Claire’s right. "It is the same trip you made when you peered through her door, only this time you bypassed the veil completely as far as we can tell."

Clarke swallows thickly, absorbing the information. "...And this time I wasn't a bystander looking through, this time Elyza was my puppet."

"Yes," Claire says simply. A clear warning as Clarke absorbs how dire and dangerous that is, especially when she hasn't meant to do it in the first place. She'll have to speak with raven, see if she can come up with any explanation on how or why it happened.

“So…how bad did I fuck things up,” Clarke says after a moment, feeling extremely guilty of violating Elyza like that, even unintentionally. “Is… is she okay?”

Claire sighs in front of her and hugs her again; it makes Clarke think the worst until Claire speaks. “She’s alive. She’s confused, but still in control for the most part.”

“For the most part...” Clarke echoes quietly, not liking the sound of that at all.

She feels Claire nod against her, “You know some of her past, Clarke, you saw the flashback with her mother and how she died.”

Clarke quiets the sob that tries to leave her when she thinks back on the image, on the woman, an exact likeness of her own mother. She recalls watching her snap, the final thread of her hold on reality breaking and her trying to hurt Elyza. She feels the pain the young blonde had felt even now, as she takes it on as her own. She blinks at the image of the woman falling to her death at the bottom of the stairs, dead by her daughter’s hand. Elyza’s first kill, now part of Clarke’s nightmares as well.

“She thinks she’s going crazy,” Clarke surmises.

Claire leans back and braces her by the arms; it's so motherly it hurts her heart in a fantastic way. The connection is so strong, Clarke feels so eerily at home in her presence. Claire smiles sympathetically at her, knowing the guilt Clarke is feeling for effecting Eliza. 

 “Elyza is afraid of herself, of what she thinks she could do. She is afraid for Phoenix, for the people she cares for. She fears she may hurt them."

Clarke swallows again and nods; she knows that feeling well. She recognizes that within herself too. She holds that very same fear even if it is for very different reasons. “But she’s not crazy," Clarke defends.

Claire laughs lightly, “No, she is not. It doesn't matter, you know that as well as I, she's as stubborn as we are. All that matters is that Elyza thinks she is, her experience and lack of information tells her she's right. She thinks she has inherited the sickness from her mother. She doesn’t know it wasn’t genetic, that it was circumstantial, that Amber lost her mind to her grief. No one ever told her any different so Elyza has actually feared this for a very long time.”

“Well, what about Phoenix, she’s not going to let her do anything stupid is she?” Clarke voices her concerns; she knows the fear of yourself and how it can override your heart. How it can take control of your mind, make you want to keep distance, keep everything from your own harmful touch. The Commander of Death certainly knows the pull well, she has a feeling she knows what Elyza will want to do. “She’s not going to let her go off on her own.” Clarke says it like she knows, she believe ravens other self is just as stubborn and resourceful as she is. She believes she'll find a way to make her see reason.

Claire sighs, though she still smiles somewhat fondly at the fact that Clarke knows Elyza so well, “Phoenix may not have a choice, Or a say for that matter… which I am sure you know as well.”

Clarke furrows her brow and nods slowly. Yeah. That makes sense; that would be the same for her as well if Phoenix is indeed like raven.  In her own experience, including the one when she disappeared after mount weather, She wouldn’t -and didn't- give them a choice. Knowing they would try, fearing she would be swayed, feeling that it would be impossible to leave if they asked her stay. Clarke understands how Elyza would decide to play it and it wouldn't even give them the chance.

Clarke blinks. 

Lexa. 

Raven. Octavia. Kai, Aden and the rest of the kids. 

"Lexa," she whispers this time. She looks at Claire, “Elyza needs to not be alone. She can’t do this. She needs the human contact; she needs them to stay who she is. She’ll change," Clarke says concerned, "I changed," Clarke admits to herself. Thinking back to all her of own misguided adventures. All her own risky endeavors to keep the people she cares about safe, the hardships, the pain it took, the amount of energy it stole from her. 

What it took from her. 

How she repeatedly almost lost her life. The shift that meant the Clarke that first stepped to Earth no longer existed.

Claire looks at her thoughtfully, “If she does leave it will be her choice. It may not be that she ends up alone, that she leaves her heart behind, it could be that she goes and finds it.”

Clarke tilts her head trying to understand. She blinks, thinking she gets what Claire is subtly saying.

Her heart screams for her mind to listen. Lexa. Alex.

Clarke looks at her shrewdly, “You know where she is. You know who she is!” The one Lexa had found one night in her own sleep.

Claire nods slowly, “I believe I found her door. She looks remarkably like her." Claire smiles at the thought. She sighs and runs a hand over the back of Clarke's neck, "There are many pathways Elyza could take that could lead them closer together and even more she can take that will take them further away.”

Clarkes jaw juts around, “So you’re saying she will find her? Or she won't?"

“I’m saying if she stays with Phoenix, if she miraculously catches on to what is happening and manages to changes Elyza’s mind, she may find her..."

Clarke squints, “But you’re also saying there’s a chance she won’t. That if she leaves she could also both find or not find her.”

Claire shrugs a little helplessly, “yes, also that something completely unforeseen and unique could twist the hands of destiny. Fate is not very forthcoming in how it comes about. All we can hope is that the both of them make the best decisions they can and that there is a forgiving spirit out there to guide them home.” 

Claire takes a breath and graces Clarke's forehead with a soft kiss, "for what it's worth, I too believe she needs her. She deserves her."

Clarke cocks her eyebrow, so basically it's a crapshoot with a heavy tilt allowed only by their dire hope. She sighs deeply, "is there anything I can do?”

Claire swallows and pats her hair, “If things go the way I believe they will, yes. For now, no. I must try and help Elyza understand what happened and you must focus on your own world. Things are speeding up Clarke, I know you can hear the doors; both worlds are a tinderbox waiting to ignite and I need you to be ready for when it does.”

“I thought you said fate wasn’t very forthcoming with how things come about?”

"It's not." Claire tilts her head cockily, “Don’t forget, I am the original Heda Kom Faete; I understand that role better than you do yet, I know how to read the signs with leverage Clarke.”

“Wait,” Clarke asks, “What?”

Claire shrugs smugly before kissing her forehead once more in a goodbye, “Having a century of sight allows me certain fortitudes, you'll learn when you're ready,” she explains as little as possible before spinning Clarke and giving her a shove forward. “Go now, Lexa is freaking out. Go calm our little gay puppy down, she’s worried.”

“Wait,” Clarke shouts as the wind picks up, the image of her guardian is overtaken by fog.

“Claire. Hold on, wait-“

 

 

Chapter Text

The wind abruptly stops, black overtakes her vision and Clarke can hear her name being said over and over again. It's desperate and clawing at her insides, trying to pull her back to consciousness. Slowly, the voice becomes clearer and she can make out exactly who is drawing her back.

“Clarke? Please. Please, wake up!” Lexa's hand cups her cheek. It’s delicate but needy at the same time, she's clearly panicked, "Come back."

Light begins to press against her eyelids, urging her back to consciousness. Soft furs tickle her nose; she blinks against the setting sunlight that’s in the room, trying to get her bearings while her heart continues to race. “Lexa?”

“I’m here,” her wife’s velvety soft voice above her soothes her; a soft hand begins rubbing soothing circles over her heaving chest. “Take your time.”

Clarke nods and blinks a few more times until her wife’s face comes into focus; she’s cradled in her arms and being held tight. Clarke uses the sound of Lexa’s slightly erratic bumping heartbeat to bring her back from the erraticism of her own, she listens to it slow its pace now that she’s awake, while Lexa calms herself as well.

“Are you alright,” Lexa quietly asks Clarke after a few minutes, voice still laced with concern.

Clarke nods slightly against her chest, though it is half hearted. That feels like a loaded question with an even more loaded answer. So Instead of answering she glances up at her wife’s concerned eyes. “Were you awake the whole time?” Clarke asks just as quietly against her shirt.

“Yes,” the answer flows easily, delivered with such sincere certainty and care that Clarke hates that she even had to ask. A part of her just didn’t know, or maybe she didn’t believe until she heard it, maybe she just needed to hear it. 

She feels Lexa stroke her hair, so much like how she was when Clarke was first dreaming that the blonde trembles out her next breath, caught off guard by the bombardment of emotions. The feeling is bittersweet as she remembers that utopia in her dreams that's slowly fogging over the longer she is awake. 

Clarke’s smart, she knows it was more than a dream; it was her wants, her desires. Her needs. Her body feels the warmth and love surrounding her just as it did in the dream while she lies in Lexa's arms, but her mind doesn't seem satisfied -won't be satisfied- until that peace is true and lasting. Until that utopia is theirs. She feels her body stiffen as she tries to claw at the serenity of the images, trying to keep them close, within her reach. Her body and mind, so ironically desperate while she is trying to claw back that serenity.

To her surprise, Lexa, more aware and assertive than she has been with her in weeks, registers it, marks the subtle change in Clarke’s body and pulls her somehow closer as she speaks. “Clarke, talk to me. What happened?”  

Clarke shifts her head a little to gaze into soft green eyes as she really looks at Lexa. They're surprisingly not smoggy, not swampy like they had been the last few weeks; they are clear and soft again, open, they’re back to their natural forest green, speckled with flecks of gold and blue. It takes Clarke’s next breath from her as she reaches up to stroke her cheek, as if to make sure this image before her is real. Her thumb gently runs across the apex of her flawless cheekbone, grounding her, tingling her skin as always.

Impossibly soft eyes stare down at her waiting for Clarke to be ready to break her spell, allowing them both to bask in each other's presence alone for a little longer.

 “We were happy,” the blonde finally tells her, voice thick, the emotion she felt in her dream coming back in full force and causing her voice to crack. “We had peace,” she swallows as she says it with reverence, “we were just… living.”

The final word comes out in a sense of awe that she finds impossible to hide. The theme, the very idea of peace, such an eternally strong tether between them - that life is more than just surviving - hangs in the spaces between their parted lips.

A sweet and eternally fond, though slightly wistful, smile graces Lexa's features for a few moments as she gazes at her wife in quiet reverie before she moves a piece of hair behind Clarke’s ear. "It sounds lovely," she hums.

“It really was,” Clarke tells hers honestly, “The kids were there, just playing, we were just having a lazy summer day in a field of grass…” She trails off as the images of the kids laughing faces aglow in the sunlight flash in her mind. Blinking again, she sees Lexa in her own halo of light peering down just as lovingly as she is now. Again, the image of her dreams and the image of her reality leave a bitter sweetness on her tongue and within her heart. Her chest tightens and her eyes burn.

Peace, still feels so out of reach. 

It's A concept she's not entirely sure she deserves after all she's had to do. It's an idea she's certain their people deserve, that Lexa deserves, one she has and will continue to fight for despite the fact that she fears never seeing it.

Despite the warmth of the moment, her worry of how she'll make the scene come to fruition must make itself known across her face because Lexa calmly brushes her thumb against her cheek in a sympathetic fashion. An all encompassing compassionate fashion, with a renewed warmth that had been absent for a couple weeks.

Their eyes lock for a moment, silent understanding crossing between them, before Lexa leans in and kisses her forehead, “We will have many lazy summer days,” she whispers. Her light of warmth encompassing them with the end of her sentence, flashing blindingly white, filled with even more warmth. “I will give my last breath to deliver that dream to you.”

Clarke frowns a little, that's exactly what she was thinking, what she would do. Her breath hitches as she thinks about giving her life to give Lexa peace, as she thinks about her wife doing the same.

She licks her lips and blinks against the burn of tears. “It’s only worth it if you’re there Lexa.” 

She shakes her head slightly at Lexa and her own romanticism that seems like absurd nativity when Lexa fails to see the main point. “You're at the centre of all my dreams. It’s not a life I want without you," she rasps out, trying to ignore the fact that she knows that sentiment is more than reciprocated.

Lexa’s eyes widen slightly at her honesty, she gives one of her patented single nods, one of the ones she gives when she understands but fears that understanding. When she can't find the words, or fears she won't get them out. Clarke gives her the time she needs. 

Slowly, Lexa smiles softly, eyes full and open, making it clear that she does indeed understand their mutual needs. Then she leans in kissing her head again, lingering a little, and finally breathing her in before leaning back to see Clarkes small smile form again. 

“Someday, my love," Lexa whispers. This time it comes out soft, it's not a promise because she doesn’t know she can keep it, but hopeful, because she can promise to do everything in her power to try anyways.

Even her last breath.

Just as Clarke will.

'I would die a thousand deaths for you.'  Clarke hears Lexa's voice in her head from long ago in a tent in tondc, an offering Clarke didn't want but was equally returned. Then  Clarke's own voice then fills her head, just like it did then:

 'all it would take is one.'

She shivers slightly, brow furrowing and soft smile fading slightly as she reads Lexa’s delivery and finishes her own thoughts.

Someday,” she echoes, nodding ever so slightly, attempting to hide her foreboding feeling along with her fear.

They each let the word, the sentiment, and the hope hang in the silence that follows. Each of them slipping into the depths of their own thoughts. Lexa strokes her hair a few more times, she hums a bit of their song, a habit she’s developed whenever the silence felt to be too much and the need to soothe them both overcomes. Clarke spins her wedding cuff around her wrist as she thinks, soft hums escaping her as certain parts of the song register.

As her head gently bobs to Lexa's humming moving her chest, the soft rumble is lulling her deeper into her mind, further into her other worries. Now, it travels to her time with Claire, and to the consequences her accidental trip into Elyza has now caused. She feels that particular guilt weighing on her heavily, she singles it out easily, recognizing it for what it was; she hopes she'll be okay, that she didn't make matters for her too much worse.

It's a fool’s hope, she figures, knowing her luck; but still, she hopes that Elyza’s luck is better than her own. Maybe they'll cancel each other out and even their odds.

Her mind travels in circles, from Elyza and Claire, Ontario, the undead and unknown, to Lexa, slowly hitting it all and going back around. She thinks about what she learned, what she fears for Elyza, her people, and the change she is currently noticing in her wife. As the soft motion through her hair and the saccharin humming continues to mingle with the silence, Clarke’s mind drifts to methodically recount it all before again, landing on Lexa. She's literally going in circles and it takes a great effort to stop and focus once again. She chooses to focus on the woman of her dreams and how closely she's resembling that again. This Lexa, this version of her wife, has been missing these last couple weeks and Clarke's eyes stare at her begging not to be deceived.

Clarke acknowledges that the last few weeks Lexa has been healing, peaking out from behind her walls -briefly, but still- and making progress. She has been attentive to Clarke’s nightmares and emotions to a certain extent, but has always retreated back within herself as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Like she had exposed too much, had been too vulnerable, had opened herself up too wide to leave weaknesses. Like she was afraid to really feel again and when she did for Clarke she wasn’t able to handle it for more than a few minutes at a time. At the first sign of Clarke dusting herself off and continuing on like she typically did would allow Lexa to fall back behind her semi-erect walls.

However, Clarke has yet to see that behaviour now.

Right now, to Clarke’s relief, Lexa was there. Still there. She was really there for the first time in weeks, fully and unguarded. Steadfast and unmoving. She’s not retreating. She’s as protective as she was before the massacres that had left her broken and, as Clarke saw it, in need of Clarke's protection. Lexa had been there since yesterday when Clarke saw her break out and reach across the invisible divide that was between them, felt her hold her together and give her reprieve. Her strong presence and devotion released Clarke of burdens held deep freely and selflessly. She hadn’t retreated once since that moment, she had stayed. She was present and aware, more capable to express and receive emotions than Clarke had seen in weeks. 

Hell, she's even noticing that Lexa’s orb encompassing them is brighter than ever. For the first time in weeks it beckons Clarke to breathe a little easier. 

Unfortunately, there is a small, annoyingly unwelcome part of Clarke that she finds is waiting for her to revert back and she hates it. Hates the part of her consciousness, part of her heart, that expects this to be fleeting, not unlike any other time solace has given her reprieve.

Blue eyes search easily for green, looking for the truth that is screaming in her heart. The scream that's trying to get her to see this for what it was while the small voice in her head debates it. Her inner confliction causing her eyes to worry, she sees the moment Lexa picks up on it.

The brunette strokes her hair again and sighs, Clarke wonders if she knows what was running through her mind on this simple reaction alone. It’s strange that the thought comforts her, helps dull the naysayer piece in her mind.

“It is almost time for dinner,” Lexa says softly, like segue, she feels the moment, or rather Clarke, needs.. She adjusts her jaw and seems to think over her next words. As usual, she is unable to hide the questions in her eyes from Clarke.

Clarke reads her too well, the soft out Clarke was given on the pretense of dinner sidestepped, and she decides to dig into more “Just ask me, Lexa.”

Lexa sighs softly in resignation, a little rigid now in posture she asks, “What happened after? After the dream in the field? Where did you go?”

Of course Lexa would have felt the shifting emotions that played out within her during her nap. She knows she picked up on the moment Clarke was pulled from her utopian dream to Claire. Clarke suddenly feels more tired than she had before she rested, as the burdens seem to land on her in full force again.

“Um,” Clarke sits up, furs falling off her, swinging her legs over the side of the bed, her back now to Lexa. She sighs as she brushes a hand through her hair before it’s gently slapped away by Lexa who begins tugging the locks with skill. She begins fixing Clarke’s hair and the blonde shifts to sit cross-legged just letting the expert do her work. “Ouch,” she says after a sharper tug from behind, when she had apparently been moving her head the wrong way.

“One would think you’d get better with this not worse, I swear, at times you’re still like a yongon when you have your hair done,” Lexa sighs pushing her head where she needs it, while effortlessly giving Clarke time to live in this moment. “Anya would’ve made you shave your head,” she adds.

Clarke gasps exaggeratedly, “Not my hair! It’s unique remember.”

Lexa laughs quietly, “like that would matter to Anya? You’d be bald within the first week if under her care. Remember how it was red and absolutely horrid at one point? I was even tempted to shave it then, and you know how I treasure that hair." You can hear her smile.

"Rude!" Clarke scoffs and jabs her elbow into Lexa’s thigh, a stupid move considering Lexa is fingers deep in her hair, and her resulting defensive move yanks Clarke’s head to the right. The blonde groans and Lexa’s laughter fills her up.

“I believe we call that karma,” Lexa says, gently fixing Clarke’s posture and continuing her work.

“Noted,” the blonde says smiling at Lexa’s easy actions and How easily conversation is flowing again. Clarke clears her throat, appreciating the moment but knowing she would probably threaten the light of the moment when she speaks. 

However, this is their dynamic, always has been; it’s always brief and star touching moments that seem to succumb to the darkness that those stars rest in. “Um, so. I got yelled at.”

“What?”

“Yeah,” Clarke answers and is promptly stopped mid nod by Lexa’s hands cupping the side of her head to cease the motion, while the brunette releases another heavy sigh.

“ I need to ask Abby how she got you to sit still when you were young,” Lexa mutters.

“Sorry,” Clarke’s lips twitch up on their own, "and how do you think I got so good at drawing? It was the only thing that could make me sit still... other than chess with my dad."

"Ah, so treat you like a yongon? Got it. I will remember that for next time." You can hear the smile in Lexa's voice. It’s so tempting Clarke sneaks a glance, her heart flutters at the sight. It's worth the tug she feels in her scalp at the motion.

Clarke chuckles as she shrugs coyly. "Whatever, at least I'd get to draw while you occasionally pull my hair." 

Lexa hums, tugging her hair sharply in response, clearly enjoying the moment as much as Clarke. 

“Ah, Ah! Hey, I said occasionally!” Clarke defends squirming in front of her while Lexa chuckles back and lands a few extra pokes at her side.

"So, who yelled at you?" her wife asks as they fall into an easy flow, both relaxing as the lighthearted play works it’s magic and she continues her work. Her fingers graze along Clarke's neck, gathering more hair, forming more plaits and eliciting sparks beneath her touch.

Clarke shivers in how soothing her wife's touch feels, still feeling bubbly and trying to keep it that way while unfortunately brought into simultaneously thinking about how scary Claire had been so she can answer Lexa. "Claire, she cut my dream short. She pulled me to the veil and ripped a strip off me, kinda like how my mom used to when Wells and I would break into my dads vintage horror movie collection and I’d have nightmares for weeks.”

“She yelled at you?”

“Oh yeah,” Clarke cringes, “Abby was not happy, who do you think had to get me to go back to sleep?"

Lexa gives her another playful tug of her hair, and you just know she rolled her eyes. "Claire. Why did Claire yell at you, Clarke?"

Clarke awkwardly smiles at her delay of angst while her brows shoot to the ceiling (thankfully keeping her head still), “Well, I may have inadvertently figured out an alternative theory to sleep walking.”

Lexa’s hands still in her hair, Clarke doesn’t need to look to know she has a face of confusion on.

“Maybe sleep walking isn't the right term, it was more of a soul-walk." Clarke tries to help explain. "It seems like I took over Elyza’s body while she was in a deep sleep…” Clarke says slowly. “We aren’t sure why or how I did it from my own sleep, but really it’s the only thing that makes sense, Elyza woke up after and couldn’t remember how she got there.”

Lexa’s hands have slowly begun to finish their work as she chews it over. “This could be dangerous.”

Clarke barks out an incredulous laugh, “You think?” This time, she swats Lexa’s hands away as she turns to look at her, “Jok, Lexa, it's as dangerous and uncontrollable as you finding the other you in that tunnel!" She ignores Lexa's flinch at her words.

"I don’t know how I did it, I didn’t have any control of it until I was awake in Elyza’s body." She stares back at her wife and huffs as her main worry for her other self pangs her heart, “Jesus, Elyza is gonna pull a Clarke.” She hates that she just used herself as a verb, she internally curses a certain couple of brunette little devils.

Lexa's voice comes out quiet and filled with concern, "'pull a Clarke', how?"

Clarke purses her lips and sighs before answering. " Elyza wants to leave because of what happened. She wants to set out on her own because she thinks she’s lost her mind! She's afraid. I’ve endangered her life even more! And... and I may have prevented her from finding the other you!” The end comes out hight-pitched with remorse and worry. It's too much, she feels like she's being pulled in a thousand different directions while residing under a never ended cloud.

“Hey, Clarke, shhh,” Lexa reaches out and pulls her into a tight hug when her voice reaches that level. "Calm down. We will figure this out. It’s going to be okay.”  

“...it doesn't feel that way..." Clarke croaks out, clinging to her.

Lexa is quick to console, "I know, niron, but we always find a way."

She falls quiet for a few moments after that before she pulls back and cups Clarke’s face in her hands, thumbs bracing cheeks with a calming brush. “Maybe it doesn’t have to be a bad thing… Maybe it is something you learn to control, you learn to utilize. Maybe this... this breach between you two, it can help you both? Perhaps, you can twist fate.”

Clarke sighs, shaking her head. She doesn’t really know how to even start with that, though her mind is already going through a hundred different ways it could go wrong.

“Maybe this connection is meant to happen, is meant to be nourished,” Lexa adds in a tone that makes Clarke tilt her head as internal alarms bells ring. It’s said in such a way that it makes Clarke’s senses tingle and her mind begin to look for alternative meanings to her wife's words. It makes her think that it’s not entirely just about Clarke’s connection with the other world, but Lexa’s as well. She doesn't like the idea it forms at all. Wasn't she just thinking about the many ways this sort of thing could go wrong? Yeah, they've multiplied as she thinks of the repercussions two breaches into the other world could cause. 

Sensing the danger in both Clarke and Lexa's connection with the other world has her back on edge, dangerously teetering over the cliff of losing it completely, she feels like she's been on this ledge in one form or another for weeks. Her skin crawls and her muscles tense. Claire’s warning that Clarke should focus on her own world rings in her mind and she shakes her head at Lexa, “I don’t think that’s the right move right now. Claire thinks she can handle Elyza… we need our focus here. Our focus should be our own world.” She adds with emphasis for good measure in case she’s right about Lexa. She omits the 'for now', though she thinks a part of Lexa hears it anyways.

“Right,” the brunette says quietly, picking up on Clarke’s tone as a signal not to push it further. She easily recognizes the formation of a wall as Clarke shifts, subtly tries to roll tense shoulders and waits for Lexa to finish her hair. Lexa picks up on that too, obliges silently, and pats Clarke’s shoulder when she’s done.

Just like that the moment, the communication lines, are threatening to break.

Though Lexa, again showing signs of her true self, tries to salvage it. She tries to give Clarke hope from the patchwork heart she had helped stich back together, “Clarke, for the record, I firmly believe that no matter what life, what world, I will always find you." She says it with such quiet passion that it burns Clarke's already fiery heart.  "That is always our fate. Every me will find every you.” 

Clarkes breath hitches as she turns back and stares into the forest of Lexa’s eyes, seeing endless lazy summer days and peace that first presented itself in her dreams. She manages to nod slightly, attempting to will herself to believe but finding herself afraid. She’s afraid of so much; she has so much on her shoulders, still feels the tingle of uncertainty in her wife’s state, and can’t quiet the seeds of doubt and paranoia that linger. Can't swallow enough times to keep her own guilt in the state of things down. But she tries.

  She swallows and tries to smile, it comes out as laboured as it feels. Her voice fails her when she opens her mouth and her heart hammers in protest at her lack of response. She blinks back tears before turning away and sucking in a choked breath. Both stomachs in the room drop instantly at her action... or lack thereof.

And just like that, the commander of death, does in fact, kill the moment, burns the lines of communication to ash and lets her emotions swallow her whole.

This time, it is Clarke that leaves the bed first with a muttered explanation that they'll be waited on if they take much longer. She's quickly crossing the floor and using the bathroom to freshen up. She comes out in a robe, grabbing her clothes for the evening in silence. 

Lexa is slow to the bathroom once she’s done, quietly allowing Clarke the space she’s searching for at the moment. Blue eyes follow her form disappearing behind the threshold and she lets out a heavy sigh once alone. This time, it wasn’t Lexa retreating, pulling into herself; it wasn’t Lexa turning abruptly cold, putting up a wall and waving a white flag.

This time, it was Clarke.

It sucks, it’s shitty and she hates herself for it, but Clarke has her reasons - very good reasons, as well as a good memory. On top of Elyza and the myriad of threats to their people she remembers how fragile Lexa has been lately, how fleetingly the real Lexa was around, and how hauntingly broken she was. 

Clarke ponders her feelings as she dresses. She finds herself using that good memory further, thinking that she also knows what broken trust feels like; felt it first hand at the mountain, committed her own treason to that rebuilt trust with her deal with Ontari, and so, she figures it's not surprising that she sure as hell knows it's what she's feeling now.

Only it takes a few moments for her to comprehend why that is exactly.

No, as far as she knows, Lexa may not have broken any trust between them as large and impactful to the coalition as well as their personal relationship recently like Clarke has, but she has in regards to the two of them as a unit; as Lexa retreated into herself, and Clarke let her, she inadvertently broke Clarke’s trust in her, or, at least, caused it to waiver. Clarke feels guilty for even thinking it, but it feels true. 

And she hates it.

Tragically, what also feels resoundingly true, is that maybe Clarke is breaking that trust too in more ways than just secrets with Ontari; maybe Clarke is... or was, with how she has been treating Lexa recently, how she has been treating her with kid gloves versus how she should have been treating the post-apocalyptic warrior queen she is. She feels like she maybe overcorrected on that regard, gave her too much room for her grief to take hold. Maybe her actions with Lexa led to that trust wavering, or at the very least, allowed it to happen. 

She hates that too.

Sure, she tried to remind Lexa of her duty and her role to their black blooded kid squad, but perhaps she had only allowed herself to push as far as she could against heda. She used those manipulation tactics to reach mostly the leader and not the girl. The girl, her Lexa, she has shielded, fortified her wife's walls for her to fall behind, to be bereft. Sad but safe.

And Lexa let her while heda tried to to be there as much as she could for Clarke.

Maybe they’ve both been in the wrong.

And in so many different ways.

Late night joy rides, secrets in the dark, hidden radios and omitted truths, it’s all connected and they’re both at fault. Tension rises within her, pressure builds; Elyza, Claire, Lexa, Ontari, their people, the undead… leadership... it feels like too much again. She wonders what will be the last straw. She swallows against the burn inside her as she catches her hands momentarily sparking at her stress. 

Clarke clenches her hands a few times to stop the sensation, as she hurriedly looks over her shoulder to ensure Lexa isn’t witnessing her distress and works to calm herself. Her hands stop sparking but still tingle before she rubs her face and then her neck as she sighs, “fuck.”


 


 Meanwhile,

"Fuck." Lexa sputters against the water she splashes on her face. Leaning over the basin, she scrubs her face and freshens up, before she begins to redress in the bathroom. Her mind goes over everything that just happened while her energy picks up on Clarke’s current rampant emotions; pain, worry, sadness, anger, guilt, frustration... complete and utter heaviness, now sits tight within both their chests, now double the intensity for Lexa but she doesn't shy away. Not this time. 

This time all she does is run a cool wet hand under the collar of her shirt and over her aching burning heart. She swallows thickly looking up at her reflection in the mirror before beginning to fix her hair. Breathing techniques acquired long ago being put to use like so many times before.

She sighs as she finishes the last braid in her hair. She’s concerned about Clarke, worried for the state of her mind, the condition of her heart. Wondering what pulled her away so suddenly before, why she turned so cold, so quickly. Why so much plagued her now. Why Clarke seems to think she can't help, or doesn't want it.

She's trying not to feel hurt, as she knows she had been doing the same in recent weeks and has a strong suspicion that could have a part to play in Clarke's actions. She hates that Clarke is still trying to carry the weight of their burdens and those of her own by herself, but she doesn't blame her - Lexa knows she let that happen- but she can't ignore it now her journey through the dark has cleared. 

Clarke is her sun, her gravity, her lazy summer day. She's everything. She stood as a lighthouse, a beacon, patiently awaiting, silently guiding Lexa through the storm and straight to her safe harbour. She must now do so for Clarke, show her she's not afraid to stand tall beside her, be that pillar of strength and allow her wife weakness; love requires sacrifice and her lionheart has sacrificed enough. She's carried enough and Lexa is strong enough to carry its weight again, for Clarke

So Lexa breathes through her nose slowly to try and calm herself against the brunt of what she’s feeling from Clarke along with her own torment. She needs to relax and to let things run their course for now. She knows Clarke needs time to process the intensity of what happened minutes ago, hopes that she makes the right decision in taking a break from delving deeper into a discussion they can no longer avoid. They've only scratched the surface, she knows this deep down, but it’s a very real struggle not to react. Not to lay bear what she has been running over in her mind since they began their walk to the tower earlier, but she can't, not right now, not yet.

So instead she slams her fists on the side of the basin before clenching out a tight exhale that should have been a scream - She's thankful her years of training to hide her rage at least covers that

"Lexa?" She hears Clarke's muffled voice through the door.

Her head shoots up and she silently curses herself, Clarke definitely heard her fists though she hid her scream, she probably felt the clench of Lexa's fury when she did it.

Breathe, Lexa. 

She goes to open her mouth to respond that everything is fine but nothing comes out, she doesn't trust her voice not to waiver in the lie.

Breathe.

Her stomach growls on her next exhale and she smirks at the audacity of her body and how her current state sparks memories of the multiple times Anya had to tell her a full mind and heavy heart could always use a full belly to match. It happened more and more after Costia had been taken, but Lexa knew it was mostly because she never felt any grumbling from her stomach at the time, she hadn't felt anything but pain.

The irony of her belly growling now and her recognition of Clarke's very similar pain she's failing at hiding is not lost on her as she finds herself standing not in Anya's shoes, but her footprints.

Despite the pang she feels at the thought of Anya feeling as helpless for her as she does for Clarke right now Lexa rolls her eyes at herself in the mirror; somehow she highly doubts dinner is going to solve what’s happening with them. She knows a full belly will not ease Clarke's mind, let alone her heart. Dinner isn’t going to magically wipe away neglect and secrecy; it isn’t going to magically reveal untold truths and renewed strength. 

It won’t explain why Clarke is all over the map emotionally or why Lexa is just as bad.

We need to talk. I need to find a way to reach her. What happened just now was just a start, she thinks as she coaches her reflection. Her motives and actions were pure, her signals were there waiting to be recognized but she knows proof of her recovery, her strength found through succumbing to weakness, will only become fact in the follow through.

“Lexa?" Clarke calls again when she never answers, the brunette again curses herself for her inaction when she feels the slight it caused in her wife. She wonders when she'll stop hurting her and heal her instead; but Lexa's never been a healer, she's a double edged blade and it seems she can't stop cutting Clarke. 

It takes everything in her not to slam her hands against the basin, not to smash through another reflection of failure at her thoughts.

Instead she swallows and is surprised with how calm she can manage to get her voice, "yes, Clarke." She keeps the volume low, to raise it will reveal her tension.

Clarke must hear it anyways, it takes a few moments of silence before she hears her again.

"You almost ready?” Clarke’s voice is quieter now, but more clear. She came closer, she crossed the room and is right outside the door at the sound and feel of Lexa's distress. 

Because, of course she did. Lexa swallows again and takes a breath.

Sha, coming.” Lexa replies looking at herself one last time, filling herself with resolve. She’s going to fix this. She has no idea how exactly, but she'll be damned if she didn't try.  

For right now, she figures making sure the most basic need of sustenance is met is an awfully good place to start again.

We'll be fine. We'll be fine. She'll be fine. We'll be fine. It's going to be okay...

The mantra continues in her head all the way to dinner and deep into the meal.

 


 

The tables are filled; different kru’s of the coalition are intermingled and seated throughout the hall. There is laughter, good food and a heady supply of wine courtesy of Luna’s people. The table Lexa sits at the head of is filled with the usual sort with the natblida holding down the other end of it. Clarke is seated at her side, leaning heavily on the arm of her chair, one hand holding her glass, the other her head. Her plate lies before her, barely touched.

It’s not unnoticed by Lexa, not this time. Not anymore. So much so that She’s spent the last hour going over the thought that this may have been happening these past few weeks right in front of her while she had, most likely, been doing a bit of the same. Her earlier reminder of Anya's presence in the absence of costia once again making itself known in her heart. The guilt weighs heavy and her wedding cuff feels like it burns her wrist as a reminder of her promises, to both Clarke and herself.  

It was simple really.

Love her. Protect her. Elevate her as she elevates you. She makes you better in more ways than one; she heals you, takes your ragtag heart and makes it whole. She tries to put you above herself and you used to fight it, like she would you. You owe it to her to do the same. You had always done the same. 

And then you didn’tYou couldn’t while given the chance to follow your grief through, a chance she gave you. Then you couldn't.

But you can now.

Lexa swallows against the bitter taste of her thoughts, while determination is filling her, and love is motivating her just as it had before.

She leans a little closer to Clarke, using the break in conversation caused by Raven delving off into describing her puffball gun -in great detail- to Luna. Not that either of them were particularly involved in it before. oWhispering, so only she can hear her, “You should eat Clarke.” 

Clarke eyes, for the first time in a while, lift from her cup, instantly sharp and cutting. “What?” she says rather loudly, and to Lexa, it’s like a twig snapping in the silence of a forest. 

Lexa swallows and glances at the worried looks they receive from Octavia and Luna, the sky high brows of Raven. Her protective nature pushing her onwards, “You should eat. You have barely touched your food Clarke and have had a good amount of wine.”

Lexa’s no stranger to the effects of alcohol, she wants to smack herself; she knows as soon as the words leave her mouth -though delivered with the sincerest intent- how they will sound to inebriated Clarke. 

Patronizing. Condescending. Judgmental.  She hears it.

So she is really not surprised at the reaction it receives.

Clarke’s eyes flash, her lip curls, “Oh of course, that you noticed.”

Though ready for the cut, though feeling like she deserves it, Lexa still flinches.

Again, she glances around the looks they receive when the others hear Clarke's sharp tone. She blinks and swallows the urge to show Clarke how much that dig hurt. 

Although, she’s sure her eyes show it regardless, she knows she can’t hide much from her on a good day let alone a dinner that’s quickly turning into what Raven will later akin to a telenovela. She licks her lips and lays a gentle hand on Clarke’s arm, eyes becoming doe-eyed and unthreatening, "I notice more than you think, have noticed more than I have been recently... beja, eat something now and then we can go and talk?”

Lexa has had her own generous amount of wine; mostly out of nervous energy and the desire to give herself something to do while she mentally frets over her and Clarke. Still, she remains somewhat level headed as she actually ate a good portion of her plate. Her anger and rage at her self and their precarious situation still sits beneath her skin, boiling from her wine, but she holds it down.

“I’m fine,” Clarke says, spitefully taking another sip, eyebrows ticking up as she does so, eyes silently probing Lexa for more cracks in her armour. 

Petulant Clarke, great, Lexa resists rolling her eyes, she even catches Octavia nudge the blonde and give her a stern look. “Eat,” she hears her hiss.

Clarke grumbles back low to Octavia and the brunette’s eyes widen before going cold and she growls right back at her friend. Lexa watches the interaction all over the rim of her own glass, desperately trying to hear what is being said. 

Meanwhile, Raven, trying to downplay the drama in a weirdly heroic way, continues to ramble off about her puffs to Luna while checking in with Lexa mentally.

So, what’s all that about?

Lexa glances at her and purses her lips before answering; she’s been like this since right before we were coming down here. She’s angry but I don’t know what I have done to upset her. Things were heavy, but not like this.

You didn’t do anything?

I held her, braided her hair, we talked about her dream and Claire, then Elyza a little bit. Lexa furrows her brow and sips her wine, but it feels like it is more than just what was mentioned outloud… I feel like a silent conversation I took no part in took place camouflaged in the background and nuances... then, it’s like she saw something and pulled away as if…Lexa pauses trying to gather her thoughts, it feels as if she pulled away before I could. 

It takes everything in her to keep the contents of her stomach down as it drops with the realization. She knows Clarke well; she has seen her pull away like that before, just as she had herself at times; unfortunately, it happens to be one of the many traits they share.

Maybe she’s angry with herself, Raven pipes up, breaking her silent layering of guilt.

Why should she be? She should be angry with me. She has every right to feel these burdens on her shoulder and feel alone. Lexa eyes Raven, her eyes dark and laced with unshed tears, I ran Raven, she gave me the out to fall into my darkness and I took it. I took it without any regard to them, to her, she repeatedly had to remind me that I can’t run from who I am… and look at what I did. The bare minimum. Heda reigned and Lexa ran. I grieved and I feel like she didn’t, how could she have?  Look at her. She’s riddled with the weight of my title that I thrust upon her in our union, the weight of the good of everyone because I let her carry it alone for too long... 

she didn't ask for this.

Lexa watches Raven gulp at her drink and the emotions Lexa can see shes fighting as she takes a brief break in the simultaneous discussions she’s having. Their eyes meet and the weight of Lexa’s revelations make themselves known only to Lexa and the girl herself.

Lexa, you cannot blame yourself for the process or time it takes to properly grieve. There’s no book, no rules written down to follow. It takes time, it is a process unique to the individual, and I am certain Clarke doesn’t blame you for taking that time to find your way through it. She gave it to you. It’s who Clarke is, and that is why she's probably angry with her self. Add to the fact that the girl is too busy fixing everything and everyone that She didn’t take that time to fix herself; she pulled a Clarke and rose above it for all of us and now it’s time we return the favour. She didn’t have this thrust upon her Lexa, she held your hand and pulled it across both your shoulders.

Raven falls silent in Lexa's mind and lets her mull it over as she takes another sip of wine.

Lexa nods once in acknowledgement as she works to hide the emotions coursing within her. She takes a deep breath as she hears the continued hushed argument happening between her wife and Octavia. Lexa swallows thickly, jaw jutting back and forth before she gathers herself to speak again to Clarke.

 However, before she can, she hears an obnoxious snort and Clarke’s voice rings out bringing Lexa’s eyes back to fierce blue, “Fine, whatever makes you happy right?”

Then, she petulantly looks at Octavia again and shovels potatoes into her mouth. “Happy?” she glares back at the both of them.

Make that Childish, petulant, drunk, Clarke. Lexa sighs heavily and grimaces but refuses to look away from her wife's clouded, red-rimmed eyes.

Octavia looks apologetically at Lexa and then at Raven. Raven rolls her eyes and speaks to Lexa again, Octavia says she’s sorry – she had to name drop you a few times to get her to eat something. 

Lexa’s left eyebrow ticks upwards as she dares to look away from Clarke briefly to glare daggers at Octavia and mentally relays her passive aggressiveness through Raven. Great, so she made her feel guilty because of how it would affect me? Thanks. Huge help.

Lexa can see the moment Raven relays the heavily laced message; Octavia’s eyes go down cast as she tries to vanish from her spot and from Lexa’s glare.

Easy commander, Raven coaches, she was just trying to help.

Lexa purses her lips again but a second later Clarke’s hand slams her drink on the table causing them to startle and her voice breaks the silent conversation. 

“You know, it’s pretty fucking rude to talk behind someone’s back while they’re literally right in front of you.” Her voice is ice; it both cuts and creates a frigid intensity.

She’s glaring, hunched over, one hand on her glass and one hand dangerously holding a fork, meat precariously hanging from the spines of it. Raven and Octavia’s eyes widen, their table’s conversations quiet down and Lexa tries to calmly nod everyone back to their own business with her stern gaze, the one that says one word and she'd have their tongue. She swallows and leans forward to Clarke again, “We were not speaking about you.” Not in that moment, but Lexa chooses not to divulge that to inebriated Clarke.

Not that it matters. Clarke's drunk, not clueless.

And she's just getting started. 

Chapter Text

Clarke feels the burn of the wine as she takes another sip, even while Octavia lectures her on why ‘she needs to pull her head out of her ass and eat something solid before her wife hulks out and starts flipping tables’. The tiny warrior is not above trying to add a little more guilt to Clarke by continuing further that she’s disappointing more than just one of them right now. Clarke hisses back asking why she should care, because right now, the guilt of that has nothing on the crushing weight of what she’s already feeling.

It hurts when Octavia simply responds with a growly, “You know why.”

Clarke sips her wine instead anyways. Sure, it’s a pretty fucking petty move, taking the sip, but she can’t help herself; the wine she has downed in the last hour and a bit was heavy and potent. It doesn’t help that she cleared the first picture entirely on her own and their end of the table is already on number three. She’s feeling it burning in her chest and sitting high in her virtually empty stomach, her eyes feel heavy but she’s unsure if that is due to the wine or the tears that have been building for weeks and hasn’t let fall.

She doesn’t know what’s wrong with her tonight. 

In all actuality, aside from the verbal assault from Claire, today had been a good day; no one died, they had a good time with kids, there were no tedious meetings they had to attend, Clarke only ended up with a bad shiner despite the intensity of her sparing this morning with O, she and Lexa had begun to build a bridge back to where they had been, and yet, the darkness of her thoughts kept following her. They turned ugly and more painful as the evening progressed, the longer she let it continue the faster it turned to internal anger and frustration.

Call it stress, call it overburden, call it whatever you want – but Clarke can’t call it an accident.

She wouldn’t bother trying to fool herself with the notion. The wine was there, the stress was thick and Clarke instantly became thirsty with the need to escape. At first, it was taking a cup to help ease her mind, to let the alcohol’s burn help melt her tension and let her relax. However, when the first didn’t complete its task, she took a second, then a third, then before she knew it the picture was cleared, two more came, and now she’s borderline drunk. 

She tries to hide the small hiccup that escapes.

Make that more than likely drunk and still riddled with internal darkness. The time with Lexa in their room was so much, so dangerously close to getting to the conversation she’s been running from, that now she’s even become even more hateful towards herself for running further and drowning it in drink.

She just feels like a little ball of fury with boiling blood and nowhere to direct it but internally. She’s a ticking time bomb and she fears setting the forest on fire. A very large, very guilty part of her also fears her loose drunk tongue will reveal her deepest betrayal and the resulting effect will be the forest drowned with tears…

She takes another sip and hisses out at Octavia to shut the hell up when she tries to stop her again. She doesn’t shut up, she pushes on with a chilling intensity; Octavia lays the guilt of her current state on thick as she explains how she’s affecting her wife. Clarke doesn’t want to hear it, doesn’t want to have the pain and worry she’s causing in her wife to be pointed out to her - she can already feel it, thank you very fucking much. She fights the urge to jab Octavia with her fork as she finally decides to relent, although in a spectacularly insolent way. Meanwhile, Wanheda is going over the very many ways she could prolong the girl’s death with the utensil, Clarke lets her.

She hisses at Octavia, “Fine,” she stabs the potatoes instead of Octavia, “whatever makes you happy right?” Eyes flash to Lexa and back to Octavia. Then she shovels them into her mouth. She glares at them both as she chews the hunk, rather unattractively, and smirks like the little shit she is currently being, “Happy?”

God, she really hates herself right now.

She can feel her filter slipping, her internal agony and pent up frustrations threatening to boil over. Lexa continues to stare at her, passing a brief glare Octavia’s way as Clarke swallows her mouthful and washes it down with another sip of wine. Smooth, Griffin.

She may have agreed to eat, but she didn’t say anything about not having more to drink. In an absurd way that is definitely the alcohols fault, she finds this reasoning and action giving her some semblance of control back as everything else feels like it’s slipping.

Honestly, at this point, she’ll take it.

Clarke now stabs at more potatoes as her eyes travel around the table like a lion protecting her territory; she sees Lexa’s glare, her pursed lips, Octavia’s lowering of her head, Raven’s intense gaze and the not so hidden glances between her and her wife.

Clarke’s drunk, not clueless. Her right eyebrow ticks up as she swallows another sip. She’s glad she’s at least in control enough to keep Raven out of her own head. There’s not enough room, bitch.

She knows what’s happening around her and it seems to rile her up further. She caught the glances, the long looks that were shared this entire meal, all from behind the rim of her wine glass. Lexa's foolish if she thinks she can't recognize a silent conversation when she sees one, she's the one that introduced her to them for fucks sake, and in her opinion, Raven’s gift is just cheating.

She takes another sip at the thought and then slams the glass down with such force the items on the table bounce and her wine sloshes over the rim. “You know, it’s pretty fucking rude to talk behind someone’s back while they’re literally right in front of you,” her voice comes out as icy as she feels even though she’s running red-hot.

Clarke forcefully stabs at a hunk of meat on her plate and narrows her eyes. She’s glaring, hunched over, one hand on her glass and one hand dangerously holding the fork, meat now precariously hanging from the spines of it. She’s the definition of threatening – drunk- but still threatening. Raven and Octavia’s eyes widen, their table’s conversations quiet down and Lexa tries to calmly nod everyone back to their own business with her stern gaze, the one that says one word and she'd have their tongue. Her wife swallows and leans forward to Clarke again, “We were not speaking about you.” 

Clarke scoffs, she may not have been the topic exactly in that moment but she knows she had been previously. Lexa’s omission of that fact is not lost on her and she finds herself becoming even angrier at the acknowledgment that Raven and Lexa had been talking about her.

Fuck it, she thinks, add some more jealousy to Raven and Lexa's relationship to the mix of everything I’m drowning in right now, because, fuck you, that's why. Great, now she’s mocking herself.

“I call bullshit,” the blonde cocks her brow in a challenge.

“It’s true Clarke,” Raven joins in.

Oh no, bitch. Wrong move right now considering she’s just been added to her reasons to be upset. She does not need Lexa’s ‘bro’ trying to protect her right now; even though logically she should be angry with the both of them since it’s raven’s gift that allows the silent conversation, but drunk Clarke doesn’t seem to care, in fact, she’s quick to cut her off.

Quiet Raven, I don’t think we need your involvement any further on this,” Clarke growls without even looking at her, she knows she flinched though her eyes remain in a dead lock with forest green that look wounded. 

In her peripheral vision she does smugly see ravens mouth drop as well.

And spurred on by the wine, so closely resembling the colour of blood, she seethes; while one part of her breaks at the sight of the wounded doe, another part of her boils in misguided anger she can’t hold back; the part of her that has recently constantly felt angry is making itself known, easy to cling to – though this time not at the stress that sits like a noose around her neck - but at the doe-eyed worry and hurt swirling with fierce compassion in green that is currently staring back into her soul. So she continues over Raven’s attempt to protest again, just because she can, filter gone

"I think my wife can give me an honest answer without your involvement," she tilts her head innocently, “or do you need the second flamekeeper on this too heda? First Titus, now her.” Okay, she definitely felt her blow land that time and she hates it.

Lexa’s mouth parts infinitely small, as if she sucked in a sharp breath. Clarke can tell she’s trying not to react too much to her words, but she can’t hide it from her. The briefest moment of pain flashes before she sits rigid and tense in her seat, chin slowly raising in defiance.

Clarke can see the moment Lexa realizes that she’s out for blood.

She feels everyone else figure it out. Octavia fidgets nervously in her seat, eyes wide, mouth silently forming a 'wow'. Luna just stays silent across from the blonde, calm as a lake, observing, seeing the darkness. Raven’s brow shoot up and her mouth snaps shut in a split second of restraint before she snaps; she's the total opposite of Lexa and Luna as she leans over the table, palms flat to the course wood.

"Woah, woah. Hold the fuck up bitter-bi-baby, are you seriously jealous?"

"Fuck you, Raven."

"Hey-" Octavia says.

"Clarke," Lexa foolishly but bravely scolds.

"Don't bother," Clarke cuts them off coldly. "I'm sorry, or whatever."  She doesn't even look at Raven and she hates herself so much right now.

The mechanic raises her eyebrows again and is about to retort when Octavia starts clearing her throat obnoxiously, clearly trying to get her to just let it go, screaming at her in her head to keep her from hitting the boom button.

But it's Raven, so come on Octavia - you're better than that. Raven watches her with a titled head and an amused gaze, while she just waits for Octavia to realize she's failing miserably at any form of subtlety and then falls quiet. Knowing she's done, Raven speaks, remarkably calm but very clearly hurt. "Whenever your ready for a real apology, I'll be all ears," she says, giving Clarke a final glare before glancing at Lexa in sympathy and sighing.

Clarke pours more wine to further her own defiance and hide her hands shaking with internal conflict, and only making everything worse. Her filter is gone and she’s losing her grip on her actions, her mind is only half involved, too drunk, too full of everything else to focus for long on how completely awful she’s becoming.

Clarke is all reaction right now, lots of thoughts, but no direction.

Luna clears her throat awkwardly, passing glances around the table before catching Raven’s eye. A moment passes before Luna gives an almost imperceptible nod to her and speaks.

“Well, I think I’ve had enough to eat, if you’ll excuse me.” She stands and tries her hardest not to look at Lexa’s pleading eyes. Luna had barely touched her glass during dinner knowing she had a lesson to teach that required the dark. She manages to give Lexa a soft apologetic smile before turning to the other end of the table. Miraculously, Luna refrains from trying to do anything towards Clarke and the blonde is grateful. Luna is her mentor, her awkward break in Clarke’s fury has the blonde red-faced and embarrassed for her actions, but still the alcohol makes her care a little less, and not having to look at Luna makes this easier.

“Natblida, I have a final lesson prepared for you upstairs,” the boat leader says. “Clear your places."

Clarke glances up at this though, she watches the natblida hop to attention and she has the sudden urge for the soothing presence of her little Kai. She needs her little light while surrounded by a darkness she has created at the table. Catching sight of the hair, so like her wife's, Clarke calls down to her, “Kai, c-”

Lexa clears her throat and places her hand on Clarke's arm, "Clarke?"  The one word question, the touch, and the tone, causes Clarke to pause and look at her expectantly. "Are you... are you sure," Lexa continues and her glance flickers from Clarke to Kai, who heard her call and is currently disposing of her garbage and plate for washing. 

Clarke's jaw clenches and she narrows her eyes, "Am I sure about what?” she hisses, “Am I sure that I want to speak to my child, Lexa? Yes, alwaysunlike-" she cuts herself off before she goes too far, eyes widening at what she almost said. 

But it’s far too late and too far already; she sees her words gutting Lexa where she sits and she can't take it back. She didn't have to say the words for Lexa to know - for her to hear them anyways. 

Clarke watches Lexa's throat bob with seemingly painful effort and she braces because she knows, she just fucking knows, Lexa is going to voice it. She's going to gut them both with it this time, and Clarke deserves it. She deserves to be bloodied after that slip. She wanted blood and Lexa will deliver it. She knows it’s coming and she’s still not ready.

Displaying more pain and remorse than Clarke thought was humanly possible, her Lexa, the double-edged blade, delivers her thousand cuts in a single strike.

"You mean to say, Unlike me.”

Clarke sucks in a sharp breath, heart opened and draining before her eyes. She expected the whisper, the cracking and coarseness, but Clarke did not expect the utter heart wrenching acceptance and agreement. Her stomach plummets and Clarke marvels in Lexa's resiliency when she speaks again, while Clarke feels like she can't even breathe, "…I just wasn't sure if you wished to see her like this."

It's quiet and Clarke rebounds to balk at it, a defence mechanism. (We’ll blame the hooch.)

"She's seen me drunk before Lexa."

Lexa's face softens but is still pained, her voice is delicate, "Drunk, yes, in pain? No, …not like this."

And though it's delivered softly, like a feather’s touch, it still knocks Clarke down a few pegs. She suddenly feels incredibly self-conscious, even angrier with herself for letting herself come to this point. How extremely shamefully weak she is being. Her eyes burn against tears that haven't fallen and the alcohol, her skin crawls and her mouth feels dry. She hates that it causes her to take another sip of wine, without thought, simply a habit from this evening. She grimaces at both the burn it now causes and how the sweetness in Lexa's face and the wine are now completely gone.

No, now the wine tastes like poison and Lexa is made of stone.

As soon as Clarke's lips touched the glass again the softness left and stoicism of the utmost cool indifference took its place. It was the lowering of a veil, a separation from emotions and moment. Heda returned.

Which is the worst part, Clarke knows ‘cool indifference’ is absolutely nothing close to the fury and fire that's swarming beneath the layers. She can feel it, Lexa makes no move to hide it from her and Clarke makes no move to shield herself from her wife's gift. 

Even as painful as it is.

It was a stupid move. She really wasn't thinking and she should have put the glass down hours ago, but she also can’t really defend herself. Drunk Clarke was not a friend right now and future Clarke was going to pay, she can feel it.

There's no way this goes on past tonight. 

She wondered what the last straw would be earlier this evening, she should have known it would be her own actions.

It’s a sobering notion.

She violently slams the cup down once more and shoves it away as if it burns her, glaring at the object as she does so. She swallows; a part of her is about to apologize to Lexa when Kai runs up to their end of the table and her mouth snaps shut again. Clarke watches out of the corner of her eye as Lexa corals her before she can get to the blonde and she pulls her close to speak in her ear. 

The exchange is brief but touching, Clarke's anger at herself quiets momentarily but the guilt only grows, as she's lost in the softness she witnesses. Lexa holds Kai close, arm over her shoulder, her hand on the back of her neck, thumb softly rubbing and their temples touching while they whisper. Clarke’s heart burns with warmth that is surely coming from the two most important people in her life. Kai nods against Lexa and her tiny fists reach further up Lexa's arms to hug her. Lexa welcomes it greedily, pulling her just a little tighter before pulling back and kissing her forehead and exchanging a nod with a radiant smile. Unfortunately, she tries to hide it well, but Clarke can see the pain behind her eyes.

Clarke glances from her wife to the small brunette as she finds herself holding her breath as Kai turns to her. Her ice blue eyes are somehow so full of understanding that’s beyond her years, it has Clarke close to whimpering in their gaze. Small, soft lips grace her cheek before she feels strong tiny arms embrace her neck. "Ai hod yu in, nomon," is whispered into her neck and Clarke shudders as she reacts to the warmth and grips her a little too tightly back. The seconds tick by and she can feel the soothing balm the hug creates within her, her fingers dig further into the rough fabric of Kai’s tunic as she tries to pull her closer, she breathes her in. Pine, fresh grass and sunshine, she soaks in her tiny summer day.

Clarke cards her fingers of her left hand through the back of Kai's hair as she breathes her in gratefully, "Ai hod yu in, ai gada," I love you, my girl.

Kai pulls back with a soft empathetic smile to kiss her again on the cheek again before placing her palm on the spot, “she says it's going to be okay," she whispers to her like it's a secret.

Clarke smiles softly though her heart clenches and she glances at Lexa. Clarke nods to the girl, and kisses her cheek, as Lexa speaks up to save Clarke from having to send off her safety blanket. She’ll do it for her and Clarke’s grateful.

"Go now little lion, no daughter of mine will be late for their lesson with Luna of all people,” Lexa winks at her.

Kai grins and gives her a wink back, really, it turns out as a forced blink with both eyes, "I'm never late, and I arrive precisely when I mean to."

There’s a moment of silence before Octavia and Raven happen to burst out laughing when they hear it, but Clarke and Lexa can't do anything but momentarily be stunned from their tension in astonishment at her swagger.

"I can't believe she just quoted you," Octavia heaves out between laughter and fought for breaths, "like that, when you had said it when we," she heaves again, "were talking about -hahaha- talking about orga-"

"Octavia kom trikru you will not finish that sentence in front of her!" Lexa cuts her off, seeing exactly where that was going and quickly standing to nudge Kai on her way.

It causes the two 'adults' to cackle even more, while Clarke rolls her eyes. She and Lexa fall into an incredibly uneasy silence and awkwardly let them finish as Lexa resettles in her chair. Clarke looks anywhere but at her, Lexa does the same. They both fall back into their own heads and the swarm of emotions within, the brevity of Kai’s buffer felt and quickly fading. The tension from minutes earlier is back in full force, though this time malleable, not as rigid as it was. 

The other people in the room remain, but their table resides empty now but the four of them as Luna disappeared with the kid. Octavia makes to shovel more food in her mouth simply for something to keep her occupied through the tension that seems to flow back over them like a wave. Raven chews her cheeks and narrows her eyes at the blonde trying to get a read on her. Lexa sighs and hates herself for allowing things to come to this. Clarke goes back to burning inside out.

A storm brews outside, as abrupt and intense as the storm inside the room.

 They all look down to their own plates in attempts to avoid the burning gaze of the blonde that’s darting around. Lexa’s eyes remain the only ones that continually pass over to the dark circles surrounding her wife’s clouded gaze. 

“I don’t see what the big deal is,” Clarke finally spits out at the fifteenth time she caught Lexa glancing worriedly at her, “no one said shit about you getting drunk.”

Lexa’s hand balls into a fist and her eyes widen but Raven comes to her defense, her own anger at Clarke’s behaviour coming out, “She wasn’t the only one ‘getting drunk’ then, it was more of a group task - and it sure as shit wasn’t at dinner with the kids at the other end of the table.”

Clarke slams her own fists down, cutlery, cup and plate bouncing as she stands, her chair almost falling over at the force of it jutting out from behind her. She can’t speak, can’t hide the pain the scalding truth tea Raven just spilled all over her, can’t deny that she’s right. She looks anywhere but at the members of her table, especially her wife, as she grabs a chunk of bread and bolts from the hall.

What the fuck is wrong with me?


 

Clarke’s pretty mad at herself right now as she rushes through the darkened hallways of the tower. The twins are hot on her heels when they noticed the woman they’ve pledged their lives for bolting for the exit. She's only stumbled a few times, something she considers a win after all that wine on an empty stomach. The bit of her plate of food helped sober her up immensely, but unfortunately, her mood remained sour. Stupid. “Stupid, Clarke.” She rips off a piece of bread and shoves it into her mouth to help soak up more of the wine as she mumbles angrily to herself. Her mind continues to reel in the bitterness she heard in her own voice, the spite in her tone, as she spoke to the people she loves while she revelled in her own self loathing and frustrations. 

Raven's sharp tongue and cutting honesty pushed her far too close to losing it completely.

It's what led her into fleeing from the dining hall when it felt like too much, it was like the tension and the walls were pressing in on her from all sides along with everything else. 

When she realized how wrong, how desperately stupid and callous she had behaved.

She panicked.

She's not proud of it and she is definitely ashamed that she only ran faster when she felt, rather than heard, Lexa following her down the hallway behind the twins calling out to her. 

But she couldn't take it; she needed to get out of there, out of the tower, out of the confines of real and metaphorical walls, to where she felt like she thought she may be able to breathe again.

She sucks back wind as she runs through the halls and towards the doors that lead out into the city. She stumbles on the steps and scrapes her knee bad enough to bleed and bruise, like some kind of sick way of keeping her from reaching oxygen a moment longer. She gets up, grimacing but she continues on, a burn felt so deep roaring inside her. The guards at the door swiftly move to open them for her as she bolts through them.

Lighting clashes and the rain falls in sheets before her. Once the cool air hits her face she rears back and looks at the night sky, blinking through the rain. She heaves back air that doesn’t feel like enough, her chest is too tight, her heart is thumping fast from exertion and her mind is telling her she's still not safe. She senses Lexa following, her heart screaming for her to wait but Clarke can’t listen.

She Can’t hear the thunder.

 Doesn’t want to think about how she may still be able to hear Lexa’s heart break.

She can’t handle this right now.

So Clarke runs. She swore she wouldn’t, but here she is.

She just can’t.

She's halfway through the city to the trail to the grove when the fire inside her can't be quelled any longer, she's never felt her gift burn her like this before. Despite the icy feeling rain that’s soaked her through, she feels like she may actually explode. 

Just in case, because that really does feel like it is a veryreal possibility, Clarke surprises herself by being able to use that fire in this storm to take her far away from the mass populace; apparently, the storm raging within is able to best mother nature’s previous handicap on her. Right now anyways. She clenches her eyes shut, she thinks about air, wide-open spaces, an endless sky… soothing waves, though she doesn’t know how to swim.

 Clarke pictures the sea.

Mid-stride, she goes weightless in flames and darkness before she lands on the open expanse of a beach. Clarke's motions continue as her feet touch wet sand and she thrashes into the rolling waves then finally falling to her knees in submission. In penance. She gives herself up to the storms.

The cool water is instantly sucking the air from her lungs, cleansing as the sky weeps for her, pelts her with bullet tears and shrapnel winds.

And there, in the special spot where Lexa first introduced her to the sea, a hundred yards from where they spent their wedding night, Clarke finally sobs into the night and flames shoot out from her open palms that request mercy towards the sky. 

She is uncontainable. 

She lays herself bare in her pain, in her torment, to the sea.

The freezing cold water laps at her, the rain that feels like ice falls heavy on her face, but her fire rages in defiance and agony.

She cries for herself, for the last time she truly felt like she could breathe, long ago to when she didn't feel the weight of everything that's happened. She cries for the lives in her hands and those left in her wake, for the innocents. She cries for her wife, for her Lexa

A broken sob escapes her in a new wave of emotion, from her knees and miles away, she feels Lexa feel her pain.

It only adds more guilt; her wife so tied to her, entwined, takes the pain on as if it's her own.

It threatens to break Clarke down further.

She clenches her fists, stifling the flames and drawing black blood under her fingernails with the force. She welcomes the pain as she looks to her bleeding palms, now she thinks about the young who share her blood and fell too soon, she hasn’t let herself think about them for longer than a few moments at a time, she just wasn't strong enough, and she feels that weigh heavy on her now that she is. 

The waves crash against her thighs and hips with every ebb and flow, salty cold water and rain hit her cheeks but do nothing but sizzle in the wake of her tears. 

Undaunted.

She doesn’t flinch when the sky flashes and crashes with lightning and thunder that are no match for her own storm.

She thinks she must stay there for hours without her tears ever ceasing; her legs feel numb, she's shivering and she's not sure if it's from her turmoil or the frigid waters. It’s not until after hypothermia is a real possibility and her teeth are chattering through her ragged breathes, that Clarke finally rises. The storm around her is easing; the rain is softer, tapering off slowly with every moment, but not completely gone.

Fitting, she figures, as her tears are still falling as well.

She keeps her head down as she finally feels brave enough to turn to walk out of the water. She makes it out of the raised tide and back towards the trees before she finally lifts her head.

And her head may lift, but her heart sinks when she takes a breath and opens her eyes. She gasps as she makes out a shadowy figure in the distance, hooded and seemingly alone. 

Clarke stops moving, body stiffening instantly; her shivering stops as she holds her breath and tenses. She hastily wipes her cheeks, eyes narrow and peering through the darkness, while the only light to go by is the half moon and a few stars peeking out from the rain clouds. The light is rolling with the clouds and the shadows move and sway, the figure remains momentarily still, so still Clarke blinks to make sure she is seeing true.

"Who goes there?" She calls out in trig and hates the way her voice sounds to ragged and weak. She blames the sobbing for making her sound so defeated.

Of course, the creepy shadow figure hiding in the dark doesn't respond, she wonders why she even bothered. She's tired and worked up all at the same time, frustrated and cold; she's hardly ever cold since she took on the black blood and her gift, and now she finds it uncomfortable. She's carrying no weapons but for three assassins blades, of little use in this distance and dark. She growls at her own impromptu escape and leaving herself defenceless, but to be fair, she wasn't exactly thinking at the time. 

She was reacting.

And she certainly wasn't expecting anyone else to be so far out in the borderlands in the middle of the night and a storm. 

She rolls her eyes at herself before she begins scanning her surroundings a little more closely; of course, she just knows in her heart that this is too convenient to be an accident. Her gut is rarely wrong; somehow she knows this person expected her to be here. Her suspicions are egged on further the more she confirms that it is indeed just the two of them.

And she doesn't know what is worse, that she knows inside that this is true or that no move, no explanation, no reason for it has been made. Yetanyways, she notes.

Neither her nor the shadow in the night moves for agonizing seconds before Clarke speaks again. 

"What is it you want," she swallows and waits for a response, for anything.

Nothing comes.

And the anger, so quick to grab lately, comes back, but this time, to help. Her head tilts forward, Wanheda, thankfully readying to move at a moments notice. "Ai laik wanheda,"Clarke says moving forward, feeling like a predator beginning its chase. Finding comfort in her movement, brazen with the power she knows her title wields. Reacting, now feels right. 

She swears she sees the figure stiffen and the hood shake in shadows as if someone shook their head. Clarke tilts her head and moves a little more carefully, though she definitely feels ill at ease, the reaction she witnessed doesn't make her feel that threatened.

 And that bothers her.

"Hey," Clarke shouts dropping to English as a weird cloying sensation grips her when she noticed the figure back up a few steps. "Heywait!" she pushes a little faster.

A twig snaps and the figure takes off into the trees, Clarke immediately gives chase, the cold tightness in her muscles making her grimace. She follows the figure into the trees, at least this time she's doing the chasing, she figures. She pushes herself faster, harder. The figure a few yards ahead is fast, lithe and moves effortlessly through the trees but Clarke's just a fast. She's not as graceful, not even close to as quiet as she runs full tilt, but she's making do. She vaguely notes the similarities in their style of maneuvering through the trees and over rough terrain. 

She can make out flowing wet robs and an oversized cloak, hears rapid breathing as she gets closer, she knows she's catching up. 

When she's finally at a distance where she can gauge a bit of the scenery ahead in the direction they are running, she cheats. She uses her gift and vanishes in flames to land before the figure and braces for impact as she sucks them back in.

And just as she preps herself and opens her eyes for it, she makes out the figure’s features causing the wind to be knocked from her lungs before the body actually collides with her. 

Dark brown eyes, full cheeks, shapely lips and wild hair, and then pain - lots of pain.

Clarke gasps for air as they go flying into the dirt; her ribs feel like they're on fire as they bend on impact, her head cracks against a tree trunk and the other body lands on top of her. She hears a groan escape them both as they work to recover from the shock, Clarke blinks against the stars in her eyes and tries to clamber up onto her knees to grab the person rolling off of her.

"Wait," Clarke coughs out against the pain in her lungs, "hod op!" The figure scrambles further away from her reaches as Clarke struggles against the pain and dizziness.

She pushes through it and uses her last bit of strength to launch herself at the form, she manages to grasp hold of a pant leg, "waitbeja!" Desperation burns from her lungs and the name she's afraid to say out loud, the one that popped into her mind when she saw the shadow’s face manages to slip from her mouth, "Costia!"

She feels the leg she's gripping onto for dear life tense and the body stumble back to their knees. She hears a whimper and then feels them shudder, "wrong," it comes out breathy and worn, painful.

Clarke blinks against the fog that's clouding her mind from hitting her head, her fingers dig in deeper to the leg she's clutching, "No, it is- I saw-" She blinks as her head throbs and she winces. 

"I don't know what you're talking about, what you think you saw! you are injured, unable to think clearly!" The figure is close to shouting, turning on their back and sitting up to face her, they kick her hands off her legs and Clarke struggles to follow suit to sit upright. Her body and head feeling thick and slow, each breath hurts and she’s still blinking against stars.

She blinks again and again as she looks at the face before her. It doesn't make any sense.

She doesn't see Costia’s face at all, she sees not the young almond skin or deep brown eyes that glow in starlight like she could have sworn she had a few moments ago, but a woman in her 60s with thick tattoos across her face.

"No," Clarke chokes out, her hands folding around her painful ribs, becoming too intense to relent that sign of weakness to the woman before her. "I saw. She was... you were..." Clarke hisses as she labours to catch her breath.

 "You are foolish for being out here, you should be home." It's said with such passion that Clarke reels again, painfully leaning over, she spits up a little vomit, actually quite pleased it's kept to a minimum. Clarke groans as her head and body throbs with every pulse of her blood. She's slow to fix her posture.

The woman's face softens from its previous intensity and eyes speaking remorse reach out to her followed by warm hands. 

Clarke, stunned by pain and confusion, doesn't flinch, she simply stares as the woman helps her right herself and begins to gently touch her face and hair. The hands are tentative, Clarke notes she’s shaking as well, but she assumes it’s the fact that she’s fully aware that she’s touching the commander of death. She’s taking a great risk in her compassion.

She's close enough to smell her, to feel her warm breath. She smells of thunder and lightning, of water and honey.

Vaguely, she registers that she's checking her head wound, Clarke dazedly thinks that's nice for someone she had been chasing only moments ago; while instead of being concerned with her own wellbeing and safety as she should be, she's more preoccupied with how she swears moments ago this woman had the face of a dead woman.

Costia.

The very thought brings chills; she doesn’t understand the cruel game her mind is playing on her. She hisses as she mumbles, “I am neverdrinking again.”

 (A few months from now she will be glad no one but the stranger is here to hear that.)

Clarke peers at the deep tattooed lines and wrinkles in the woman's face. The kindness in her eyes. She blinks again, She could have sworn... the shape of her eyes, the fullness of her cheeks, the structure of her lips; she's drawn that face a hundred times for Lexa. She could have sworn...

And yet, the proof is sitting right in front of her, older, darker skin, rougher and more mysterious. Not a single feature of a dead woman, except for the kindness in her eyes. She really could have sworn...

"She's dead," Clarke spills out in attempts to stop her minds cruelty, just as this shadow lady pulls back her eyelids. She's careful with Clarke swollen eye, hands becoming a little more sure with every gesture. She isn't shaking as much but she is still tense. She tsks at Clarke's eyes responsiveness, or lack there of. Her hands are gentle but calloused, Clarke feels oddly calm in her presence though still confused, but she can't ignore that the woman feels kind.

"She is," the woman says so quietly, so softly and so sadly that Clarke's not sure she imagined it; given the state of her, she figures she has. And she doesn't get the chance to ask.

The woman tilts Clarke's head to look at her, while Clarke uses the opportunity to her advantage. Trying to look at her more closely, she feels like she's trying to look through a mask that's more than obviously not present.

But she could have sworn... and that was before she took the hit, she groans as she gingerly reaches for her wounded head. Her body convulses as the woman begins to press on her side, she pulls back as Clarke lets out a ragged scream. Tears spring from her eyes, a hissing wail continues through her and the woman startles further. Then, in an astonishing move, the woman shifts silently and pulls Clarke close and begins humming in her ear. Her body begins gently rocking Clarke through her pain, the way she’s braced around her body keeping it from further aggravating Clarke’s ribs. “Breathe. In and out, slow. Repeat after me WanhedaI give myself to the miracle of the sea…”

Clarke shudders at the strangers attempt to soothe her, “I…” she heaves, “I give myself,” her body reals with pain again, the humming continues, “to the miracle,” she groans, “of the sea.

The woman repeats it and Clarke slowly follows suit, the motions continue and she finally feels the pain ebb. The calm care of the woman course through their wet clothes, her motions, her soothing words carry Clarke through the pain. Her breathes ease and her body slows its tremble, becomes small shivers. Clarke sighs as she is righted gently and the woman creates distance, the lack of heat and comfort instantly felt.

"You'll be fine, just take a moment and then you will go straight home," the shadow woman says as she helps Clarke rest against a log.

"Who are you?" Clarke asks, voice unable to rise much louder than a whisper or her ribs will pinch.

The eyes flicker at her questioning gaze and Clarke peers more closely. "I'm no one," the woman says slowly, "none of your concern. I’m just one of the many. I should not have been out here." The last part comes out as if said mostly to herself.

"But you were," Clarke says, "watching me,” she adds making it clear she knows the woman saw more than she should have. Now the pain has eased slightly and her head feels a little more screwed on her suspicion comes back. “Why?"

Silence. The woman stands and backs up further into shadows. Clarke's eyes follow her retreat. 

"I... wasn't." The woman clears her throat, "I'm a scout in the coalitions forces, your forces, I was simply on my route. I saw you and investigated."

Clarke blinks, as an image of a dead woman flashes, but she could have sworn...

"I must continue on my route, take a few more moments and go home cl-wanheda."

Her eyebrows tick upward, Clarke didn't miss the almost slip, not that her true name is a mystery - it's just that so few people feel comfortable enough to use it - let alone a stranger who she never told it to. Her eyes then narrow and track the woman, but she gives no further clue that that was more than a simple mistake. 

Clarke swallows and nods after a few more moments of silence and uneasy eye contact neither would submit to breaking. "Be safe, wadastryda." Water strider, Clarke calls her, easily making the connection of where the woman's skills come from, taught by the very same boat clan leader and scout as she had. The woman’s meta of the sea, confirming her thoughts though she's never heard it before today.

The comment has the woman's lips parting before she catches herself and instead only offers Clarke a final nod. 

Then, "Go home, get dry and warm," she scolds.

Clarke watches her disappear into the darkness unable to stop her and wanting to. She lowers her gaze. She rubs gingerly at the massive bump forming on her head and grimaces as her ribs twinge as she moves to rise. She knows if she stays much longer, even if she ignites her fire to keep her warm she will stiffen from her injuries and will make them worse when she tries later. Her clothes are suctioned to her skin from the wetness and now the mud from her tumble in the woods, she feels all sorts of uncomfortable. 

She figures after her behaviour tonight, she deserves it. Deserves the pain, the confusion, the terrible heaviness, and her minds dirty trick of placing a dead woman’s face on a stranger. She even deserves the guilt of running away from Lexa and disappearing. She knows Lexa could have followed when the rain lessened, but she didn’t. Clarke knows she was trying to allow her wife the space she was so desperately trying to achieve.

Letting Clarke run, because that's what she needed.

She groans to herself. Clarke presses a hand to her side when she finally gets righted and sighs out a shuddering breath; it really could have been worse though, she figures. As if to contradict her, her head swims again and her vision blurs as her skull throbs from her effort.

Even if seeing the face of your wife's deceased first love in the midst of a chase after an emotional upheaval doesn't seem all that Great, she's gotta admit, things could have been worse.

Clarke closes her eyes and tries to ignore the nagging feeling in the back of her mind as she tries to focus. She channels in on the image of home and lets the flames encompass her, all while thinking of the mess she's in and the mess she's left behind.

Seriously, fuck you, drunk Clarke.

Chapter Text

Clarke falters as she channels her focus and flames. Her mind and heart battle with everything that occurred tonight, everything she’s got inside and on her shoulders.

Her plan, if you could call it that, originally, was to walk. When Clarke left the rising tide and finally moved her feet, she was just going to walk; intended to just wander into the wilderness and just disappear for awhile, a day at most, she figured. If she had any clarity in the moment she would know that really her 'plan' was to hide; just like after the mountain, she thought she needed space, the wilds, time to think, to breathe...

A moment to be no one.

The freedom to be anyone.

Just a small escape from the relentless torment of her life, the incessant darkness that keeps threatening to squash any light, and the loneliness she has been feeling; because, as she realized during her breakdown at the beach, that she does feel like she's been alone all while surrounded by people. They’ve been there but distant, either by Clarke’s doing or their own. Fault lies on both sides in that regard and she knows the last couple days they have been trying to rectify it on their side, especially Lexa.

But Clarke's not convinced she has though. If anything, she made things worse. Trying to be strong and keeping everything in order, running smoothly, is a crutch for Clarke. It allowed her to not have to dwell on the real pain she was feeling by loss or secrecy. It kept her from breaking, until tonight, and now that she has broke under the crushing weight of everything, she is reluctant to face the fact that while everyone else mourned and rebounded, Clarke remained busy physically, but so stagnant emotionally.

Add to that the pride of a lion and her plan was clear.

Just walk. Delay. Push off dealing with the mess at home and what would undoubtedly cause her a second crushing breakdown of the night.

But it wasn't running, she swore; she was just going to walk and clear her head. Delay. Delay.

Delay.

Maybe camp under the stars she used to call home before she sucked it up, put on her big girl pants, and went to face the incredibly large pile of unresolved tension and angst that she left in polis. Make apologies she knows they deserve, ask for forgiveness she isn’t sure she does.

Then she saw a dead woman in a strangers face and her plan went to shit. 

She still can't wrap her mind around the image she curses her brain for producing, it doesn’t make any sense for her to create the face of the woman, to place it on a stranger. She still can't ignore the gnawing in her belly at the coincidence of someone being out there with her, witnessing her break, the kindness, and ultimately, the lack of surprise the woman showed.

And it's that particular thought that has Clarke hanging in the black, suspended in the nothingness. Has her considering changing course from home to somewhere far more risky, while amongst the black weightlessness of taking the flames. Her body is still riddled with pain, her mind stewing in everything from guilt to anger to confusion and remorse. She's momentarily lost.

Torn in two directions, while being pulled in a thousand others.

Yes, she had wanted the woods, the air, the space; the fending for nothing but yourself, battling nothing but your ghosts... to be lost on her own terms; and then, the stranger came. Instantly stopping her from walking, making her run, making her hurt in more ways than one. 

And now in this moment, she is once again, lost on someone else’s terms, deep in the dark; body, mind, soul encased in the shadow of flames and stuck with indecision.

She lingers for a moment. For several moments…

 Temporarily, she is no one and nowhere.

However, not alone.

Clarke, she hears Claire's voice in her head, lingering in the black with her. What are you doing? It’s cautious and apprehensive. Worried.

Considering my options, Clarke says honestly.

You have no options; this is a fool’s notion. You are injured in more ways than just physically; this will accomplish nothing. You’ve been told the truth, already.

No, Clarke finds the strength to deny. I always have options, always choices, and one always worse than the other. I need to know for sure. I’ve been told, yes, but I... she doesn't know what she hopes to achieve really, she's just feeling driven by the nagging in her gut. Of course, she's afraid of what she may find, or not find. Of course, she's afraid of making this decision and making things worse at home. However, with the pride of lion and the determination to make this night worth something more than her emotional upheaval, I can get answers, Clarke insists.

She won't tell you, Claire seems cross and tense, though she has no solid form here. She just, exists in this space, attached to Clarke's consciousness, a part of her unconsciousness.

She might, Clarke replies.

You are not friends. Claire sounds even more cross.

No. Clarke admits, no, we are definitely not.

She could kill you, most likely will. 

She won't, she needs me alive as much as I need her. 

So you hope.

Yeah, that's fucking true, she figures. It doesn't matter though, this is my decision, my life! Clarke finds herself feeling angry herself being scolded like a child. Feeling off that her and Claire can't agree for once. No one tells Clarke 'no', and if they do she rarely listens - so why would she start now? She knows her logic is ass backwards but she'll blame the head injury, the emotional backlog. And she loosely tries to defend her reasoning for considering this; She's largely to blame for a lot of what I'm going through. 

A deflection, Claire calls her on it, you are avoiding the mess you left in polis.

Probably. If you could shrug in the vastness of black weightlessness, within flames you travel in, Clarke would do so.

Definitely, Claire says dryly, and this is too dangerous for you to do tonight. Go. Home. Do this when you are rested, healed.

I'll never be either of those things. Not fully. Not anymore.

Clarke. You know that is not true, deep down, it’s just buried by your hurt right now. Do not be fooled by yourself or attempt to fool me. I know you, a part of you wants this danger, wants the risk, and you’re looking for a fight.

I'm not. I'm never looking for one, they find me. Truthfully, this ‘fight’ did come to her, it started with the stranger and it will end, in some way, tonight. She will get an answer to something.

ClarkePlease-

No. This is not your call. You said it yourself, I am Heda Kom Faete, the decisions I make can have influence!

Clarke, that is true, but I fear you are not thinking this through. You are emotionally exhausted, injured, and you forget that though your decisions influences have turned out positive a large amount of the time, they can also be negative. Do you forget what brought the attack on Polis on? What brought the massacre to your doorsteps? Do you really forget that your decision to take the trial influenced Ontari to seek the blood she thought she was owed?

Clarke falters at the reminder. Her heart pangs and mind works overtime to convince her she's still right in this choice, despite the sinking feeling it exposes

Noting the hesitance, Claire continues, This could make things worse at home... I fear this choice will influence your relationships, cause pain you are not thinking of, or trying not to think of.

Clarke hates that she's right. She knows what she means, how this could cause so much damage right across the board, but she doesn't want to be wrong. Can't be wrong when she needs to know and knows who to ask. Something is wrong inside her, something she hasn't realized and she knows this choice is wrong and right in every way. This one detour could answer many things in just a few questions. Resolve fills her.

Go to Elyza, I do not need you here.

She almost hears Claire sigh, I am a part of you, and in some way I am always with you. Please. Don't do this.

Clarke pauses in Claire's echo, her warning, her plea. She's right, of course, about all of it, but Clarke is stubborn, and quite honestly, not in the mood to be told what to do. First the stranger, and now the traveller, this being in the veil, in her.

And just like that, the decision is made. Her mind sparks; a small part of her is triggered with the shadow that had greeted her in the night, the face of a dead woman, and then the face of a stranger. It digs and registers somewhere inside her; the convenience of the meeting, the circumstance... and while also thinking of Lexa, maybe in the weakness of her own self at the moment, her want to wander, to delay, to make a selfish decision; Wanheda takes control.

Clarke loosens the reigns on her alter ego without realizing it, it's just slightly, in the shadow of flames but enough to fall prey to the pull. She doesn't feel bloodthirsty or a surge of rage, Wanheda seems to be content, composed. Graciously accepting to guide Clarke where her mind leads.

And she knows a moment later that she's headed far from home. She's moving against her heart, against her mentor, against a strangers scolding.

Once more, 'pulling a Clarke' and justifying it as purpose. Validating it with reasoning that’s full of holes.

All too easily, Clarke is pulled from the direction of soft candlelight and warmth, from home, and sideways further into the darkness.

A second later, there is solid ground. Crisp, freshly damp from the rain, fresh air. Her nose fills with the scent of fire, trees and dirt. Her ears perk to the sound of the wind and rustling in the leaves. She blinks as she lands; right arm braced against her side, holding her ribs, while her mind struggles to keep pace with her travel, and her stomach from unloading the rest of its contents. Mildly concussed, emotional, and recovering from booze, is no way to travel with flames.

One day she'll learn.

As everything becomes a little more solid, more vibrant, she hears gasps and rustling of brush and trees as she looks around. She's blinking as her eyes adjust further. There's a small cooking fire a short ways in the distance, a larger one even further away - she can sense it but not see it through the thick brush. There are also bodies scurrying around her in the shadows and trees, whispers of Wanheda on the winds.

Clarke frowns, she's too tired for this shit. This reaction is weird; she expected to be staring at the business end of spears, axes, and threats...

Not... whatever this is

This is strange. No one approaches her in any threatening manner, no one coming closer for her to see clearly; they keep their distance, eyes peeking out in shadows as they move around, part of the night. Her head throbs and she clenches her eyes shut for a second as she fights to keep her balance. 

A voice and footsteps coming closer have her opening her eyes, a thrash of adrenaline coursing instantly within her. She’s poorly prepared, hardly armed, not in any shape to fight, but reacting all the same.

"Wanheda," a younger soldier comes closer, careful in his approach. She tenses, still slightly confused, more than likely concussed, definitely unsure of why exactly she thought this was a solid decision. Her body had ached in the weightlessness, but it was nothing compared to how it throbs when back on solid ground. She can feel her energy ebbing away with every second, her body is weak, in pain and she's emotionally drained. Chilled to the bone and on the verge of hypothermia, her fire inside as dampened as her body.

Breathe, ClarkeJust breathe. 

Claire. She stayed.

The fact doesn't bother her like it should after she asked her to leave; she finds her presence placating, she's not alone. She's never truly alone.

Breathe. She slowly follows the coaching of herself, of her spirit, of a part of her. She regains a bit of her composure sucking in a sharp breath, slowly letting it out. She needs to calm down or her aches in her ribs and the throbbing of her head, will only worsen.

The young warrior continues to watch her apprehensively, keeping a couple feet back.

Speak, Claire coaches when Clarke struggles to react.

Clarke blinks, "Azgeda," she notes the scars on the young lads face, he's about her age, one of the youngest Azgeda Gona she has seen. She could laugh at herself for how she sounds surprised; maybe she is though, at least in the fact that her mind would win to override her heart for once. It's the only way she could have ended up here.

Expectantly, she doesn't like the feeling it gives her. She feels right and wrong at the same time. She feels dirty. Wanheda and Clarke, unbalanced. Selfish.

She acknowledges how she got here. She knew the general area where Ontari was going to be based on their last transmission, so she knows why she found them, even if it seems she was a bit off from the main camp, even if she is a little shocked that Ontari spoke true of her location.

That truth swirls strangely in her gut.

And then she noted the stranger, the convenience, the face of a dead woman - it all brought her to one veiled undercurrent: Azgeda. Ontari.

 She understands her minds thought process, even if she's a little foggy on exactly she hopes this will achieve. The boy watches her carefully as she sways slightly, she blinks to clear more of the cobwebs. He makes to move his arms, possibly to aid her, but her instinct and precarious situation kicks in, and she tenses once more. Left hand twitching to pull her hidden blades.

He stills, his empty hands drop, eyes watching her motions. He decides not to touch her. She's grateful.

She's also pretty fucking stupid, considering her state. This is kind of like a death sentence she may have just requested by just showing up here, but nevertheless, here she is.

Moron.

She's apparently full of poor decisions tonight.

But she's here and now too weak to try and travel again just yet. She better make the most of it.

"Where is she," Clarke grits out. All her strength is going to staying upright and trying not to show how visibly injured she is. She's here, she came for a reason, and now she needs to follow through. She ignores the beating of her heart, the feel of Lexa at home; the one that yearns for her to retreat.

She's not ready. Not yet. This, she does know.

The young man gestures with his head, careful to keep his distance. "This way." Clarke doesn't like that it looks like he was expecting her, that they were expecting her. 

Not at fucking all. Though, grateful she wasn't met with hostility, she can't ignore the truth that sinks into her as she notes this lack of hostility is because they thought, knew, she may come. It should cause her to hesitate again, but it doesn't, it emboldens her will to know.

Her feet move, even if it’s painful in every step, she moves.

She struggles to make it farther through the brush, following him to the larger fire's light. The young man looks like he may aid her again when she stumbles and winces, but he resists as she coldly glares. It's strange to see such kindness and curiosity from an Azgeda member; as far as she knew, all those who tried to defect, those that had shown any understanding to her, tried to join her and Lexa, didn't make it; but then again, she considers, maybe this one didn't even try. He seems... soft. 

She vaguely wonders when she started considering softness, even kindness, as a weakness.

She glances at his form as she tightens the leash on Wanheda; she doesn't like that particular thought at all. Softness is not weakness. Compassion is one of Clarke's greatest strengths; she has no right to judge him based on his clan, his upbringing. No right to call him weak simply because he is not what she knows most Azgedakru to be. Wrapping the leash around her wrist, Clarke reminds Wanheda that she once thought her wife, their heda, their soulmate, was a savage based on her upbringing, on their ways. Reminds her that Lexa's heart and her capacity to care, for empathy, is what kept Clarke going. 

Softness can be strength. It is strength of character, at the very least. She wonders if she should apologize for her aloofness, her brash tact and unease. He's made no move to harm her, to impede her personal space without consent. He seems to only wish to aid her if she needs it.

But She doesn't have time to consider it further, as she finally feels the warmth of the fire and is met with, not strict tension, but breathable movement; another, slightly shocking development. There are people moving around her, but not in anyway that she picks up as threatening; in fact, Wanheda seems quite pleased with this development and at ease. It’s as if Wanheda was expecting this, like now that she's got Clarke here, she's happy to let her run the show.

That bothers Clarke as well.

 More so, if anything.

Clarke could have sworn she was looking for a fight like Claire suggested, but Wanheda seems to know this would happen. And if that's so, then was it Clarke looking for a fight? Is that why she feels so off, so wrong, so... not where she should be... so lost?

She stops as they are finally approached and the boy is spoken to in hushed gruff tones by an older woman, visibly, a superior. He nods as she hands him something bulky and Clarke blinks against more waves of nausea. Her brain struggles to keep up with the now ceased motion of movement, she shivers in pain and wet, cold clothes.

She feels so tired, drained from emotion, layers of pain and fire, that she finds herself welcoming the offered thick fur, finally nodding in allowance as it's draped around her shoulders by the boy. It's rougher than a trikru fur, not lined with another pelt or smoothed leather like Niylah had taught her so many months ago, or like those she is accustomed to. This one is thick, coarse. Heavy. It is as rough as the Azgeda environment, as the people it breeds.

However, as irksome as it is, the weight of it, the warmth it begins to provide, she finds she welcomes.

She should have known it would be ruined. 

All momentary introductions of warmth are sucked from her in the next second and her wet clothes feel even more cumbersome. She hates that she trembles as she hears a voice she both dreads and needs, even expected, to hear right now. Her side twinges again as her body ripples in a shiver but she refuses to let it show on her face, she dares to look upon the woman who looks way too calm for her liking.

Ontari rests on the ground, a few metres away, close the fire, her back against the giant bear, Bamse. The one Clarke now knows used to be her father, still is, somewhere inside, his loyalty proving his love, their deep connection. The bear watches, blinking slowly, seemingly as relaxed as his daughter, but Clarke notes the subtle flexing of his paws and the alertness she sees in his eyes. Ontari's arms are folded in her lap as she watches Clarke rake over the scene.

 Their eyes meet in a moment of consideration; Clarke knows she can see the way she holds her body, the way she tries to stand her ground - Ontari knows she's injured. Clarke's heart races in acknowledgement but she refuses to let her eyes dart to look for an escape, instead, she lets them gaze right back in her own assessment.

Again, Ontari looks too comfortable, especially when it's somewhat her fault Clarke is in such a shit state. When it's her fault she's here now.

Passing blame a little bit aren't you? You know you didn't have to come here. You chose this. 

She tells her little voice to shut up.

They stare at each other, caught in gazes that burn, but each refusing to break it. It is clear Ontari will not speak first, she's holding out, one eyebrow cocked in assessment. Like she wants Clarke to acknowledge that she came to her, was not brought here, was not coerced, she chose this.

The fact that Ontari and Claire agree in that also bothers her. Then again, a true pioneer, the pioneer, in fact, of WWCGD, steps up and decides to own it.

She'll acknowledge her decision if that's what it takes to get this show on the road. Conceding a bit of pride now may not hurt her chances of walking away unscathed... or rather, further scathed.

"Ontari," Clarke works to force her voice to a calm tone. 

Ontari's face doesn't change; she continues her appraisal a moment longer before she gestures to her side. "Clarke," she greets, "come, you're cold."

Not injured. Not in pain. Not vulnerable. Cold.

Also, not 'Wanheda', 'Clarke'.

With the warriors surrounding them in hearing distance, Clarke warily notes that not mentioning her obvious injuries is a kindness she did not need to afford her. She could have, at one point would have boasted of Clarke’s weakness before her people to make herself look stronger. But she didn’t.

And then, there is the fact that she called her Clarke, not Wanheda, and it prickles beneath her shivering skin. The familiarity, the lack of formality, should not feel as welcomed as it does, as normal as it seemed. This woman is not to be trusted completely; she has no reason to be, if anything, Clarke should be more wary.

And yet, the lack of formality, rings to her own when addressing the murderous woman before her, Ontari, not the ice queen, not bitch, not butcher, not savage. Clarke furrows her brow in reflection. Weeks of conversing in the dark of the night, plotting, discussing sectors and searches led to finding common ground when once there was none. Working together for the sake of each of their people, trying to let bygones be bygones, though driven by necessity, led to being allied with the enemy. Not quite friends, not quite enemies... somewhere in between.

She hates that she's really not surprised by their strange, precarious connection. A deal made in secret; betraying the one that holds your heart as the one you shake hands with, the one that betrays their people - you can't help but find commonality - camaraderie in an ass-backwards sense and way, but you suddenly don't feel so alone, at least in that decision. And it’s that decision that eats away at you until you finally find yourself here, looking for answers, perhaps even wanting to be reassured, that you made the right choice though it still feels so wrong.

If anyone understands her choice, and she doesn't necessarily doubt that Lexa won't, considering the choices she's had to make, particularly: the mountain, it would be Ontari. Raven couldn’t, maybe didn't want to, but saw the logic; Octavia won’t and refuses to look; and Lexa, Lexa probably would.

She’ll hate it, possibly -most likely- hate Clarke for doing it, but she will understand it. She doesn't know, doesn't want to dwell right now in how she will handle it. Clarke went a little crazy in the woods, she fears this may shut Lexa down completely, allow her to be overrun completely and forever by cool and calculating Heda. She shivers at the notion, it's a version of her wife she had learned to love, but not the one she fell in love with. 

As Clarke hesitates to take the offered spot of warmth, obviously noting how being so close to an enemy, who is also an ally, not to mention the giant bear of death, would probably be of little comfort. She can’t deny however, that she can practically see the heat of the spot, it would help her current state immensely. Clarke shudders again as she glances quickly around one more time, she is cold, shivering and in pain. She still sort of questions why she is here, but then again, she also doesn't.

"Clarke, I will insist if I must," Ontari surprises her by speaking again. She then calls out for a healer and hot food.

Weak, head throbbing, ribs aching and mind fogged she notes the thin threat; this is not something that will be offered a third time.

Somewhat friendly. Not friends, she reminds herself.

Clarke shuffles and works to hide her grimaces of pain as she sidles closer. She swallows as she stands besides Ontari and the bear, she pauses, she isn't sure she will be able to get to the ground without falling painfully with her ribs the way they are and her balance so off. 

God, this was a fucking stupid idea.

Clarke clears her throat and glances from Ontari's eyes to the space beside her, then back again. Ontari almost smirks, and it makes damn sure that Clarke is going to refuse to flat out ask for aid, from her, at least. She flicks her eyes to the boy who brought her in.

She considers his nature, her pride too much to ask Ontari, but not too much to ask the second stranger who wished to help her tonight.

"I... can't, beja," Clarke whispers out, lifting her left shoulder in a gesture. She watches him glance to Ontari for an ‘okay’ before moving to help.

With a few hisses, tentative, shaking hands that try to brace her, Clarke manages to make it onto Ontari's fur, her back instantly encased in the warmth of the bear and her front thawing in the fire's heat. She’s only mildly put off by the heat to her left that's coming from Ontari. (She's fucking cold okay, she’s not used to it any more.)

Ontari's healer comes into view, he holds out a tankard, mumbling to her, and Clarke hesitates again. "Are you going to poison me?" She glances at Ontari with a weak face, somewhat certain that is not the intention at all.

Again, for the second or third time tonight, she can't really keep track right now, Ontari surprises her by smiling and laughing once. It is… off-putting, out of place, on features she has mostly known to be cold, conniving.

"You know that if I was planning to kill you I'd be much more dramatic than that. Poison is for the meek," Ontario offers with the slight wave of her hand.

"Right, bloody is more your style," Clarke bites out, unable to stop herself. Displeased with Ontari and Wanheda's ease.

Ontari doesn't take it like she expects, she simply nods, "yes. It is how I was raised." Simple as that. She pauses, eyes lancing over Clarke, “Make no mistake, we both know it’s more your style as well,” Ontari can't help to bite back. This is the Ontari Clarke is more familiar with; quick and poignant but also with childlike innocence at times.

Clarke hates that it makes her twinge with regret of her remark, especially as the literal father bear grumbles behind her. It wasn't her choice, Nia stole her, raised her to be as bloodthirsty, to be as much of a glory hound as she was. Like Lexa, had her childhood stolen from her because of her blood. Few have a say on the ground in how they are raised, but Clarke knows better than anyone - there is always a choice being made, circumstance of upbringing be damned. She refuses to ignore that.

And just like that, her regret is gone.

The healer pokes at her, continuing to mumble, while gesturing with the tankard and Clarke nods finally and takes it. She smells it first; it's piping hot, herbs and honey and something like mint but more earthy, more raw like Azgeda, she doesn’t recognize it at first but she thinks it may be spearmint. She takes a sip, welcoming the warmth the tea provides. It soothes her ragged from crying throat, helps thaw out the more of her chills, and works to calm her mind.

Ontari watches on silently as Clarke moves her arms to let the healer look at her ribs. She shakes her head no and blushes when he grabs at her clothes and lifts, "No. No." She insists, she scolds him like a puppy, not understanding what he's trying to say, not getting why he won't listen to her.

She looks at Ontari when he continues to pull at her, his mumbles getting more unintelligible, more intense as she struggles against him.

"What is his deal?" Clarke groans as she moves too fast to try and stop him again, it twinges her side and the tea spills a little on her hand.

Ontari smirks, "I thought you were trained to be a healer? He is trying to get you out of the wet clothes so you don't catch a cold death."

Clarke furrows her brow, "No, I’m fine. Really, they'll dry. I'm warmer already,' she insists. "What's in this tea?" She deflects verbally and physically again, trying to shoo away his hands once more. She is not getting naked in front of any of these people. Sorry. Hard no.

"He doesn't understand you. He only understands trig and signing, he has lost his tongue. He will not answer you."

"What? Why?" Clarke shoos away the man’s hand again. Bad puppy.

Ontari furrows her brow like Clarke should know this answer. "I took it."

"You took his tongue?" Clarke blinks at her, "that's barbaric."

"It is prudent," Ontari counters. "He cannot understand me or those I speak with in English, and he cannot reveal anything he sees or surmises."

"Another one of Nia's lessons," Clarke spits out, understanding the reasons, but still judging.

"Yes, and one I've learned first hand."

"Would be easier, kinder, to just find people you can trust."

“Trust." Ontario scoffs. "You remember my dear Echo, do you not? How is she, still carrying the sky child?” Ontari tilts her head, looking dangerous for a moment. "Trust is hard to find, harder to place,” Ontari says just as pointedly back, eyes slowly moving back on the fire. 

Clarke narrows her eyes, in a sideways glance, as she again weakly refuses in the healers prods at her clothes and mumbles in his mouth. The inflection makes her consider how much Ontari knows, how much Clarke thinks she knows and everything in between. She blinks at the nagging feeling in her stomach, she never told Ontari of Echo and Bellamy.

"It is," she eventually says. "Even when trust is there, it may not always be."

Silence hangs between them, the fire crackles and spits, as they mull over the concept, each drawing on their own examples. The beast behind them breathes deeply, making them rise and fall just slightly with every motion of his lungs.

Ontari looks from the fire to Clarke, eyes not as glaring, softening, as she rakes Clarke’s form while the healer is finally at least allowed to lift the shirt to look at the ribs in question.Clarke's one hand clenched in the shirt to not let him move it above where she's comfortable, keeping her from being too vulnerable.

"It is more than physical pain that bothers you tonight."

"No shit." Clarke can’t help but blurt out. Ontari smirks and the healer begins to wrap her chest with binding under her clothes.

"So, do you know why you have come?” Ontari fishes lightly, gaze going back to the fire to not seem as probing. “As far as I knew we had no plans to meet."

Clarke shifts a little for the healer to finish as she narrows her eyes at Ontari, "No plans, no, but you did expect me." Not a question.

Ontari's eyes widen slightly, so briefly, that had Clarke not been looking she would have missed it. 

Bingo. She’s getting warmer in more ways than one.

"You did know I was coming,” Clarke repeats her deduction.

Ontari purses her lips in consideration before she speaks, "I knew you were coming, or may come, I should say."

"How?"

"I see all-"

"No. No, you don't, not with me. Not usually,” Clarke cuts her off. “So how?"

Ontari chucks a twig into the fire, "is that really what you want to know?"

Clarke furrows her brow at Ontari's response, her action, so normal, so reactionary and undisciplined for what she's seen of her before. That and her question, causes her to pause. Always with the riddles, this one, Clarke internally groans.

Then. A face of a dead woman. Why she came. What she wants to know.

Dig, Claire coaches her, you came this far. You want to know. SO ask. Come back to the matter of 'how' after.

"Who is she?" Clarke hisses out, laboured with every syllable, as her heart rate spikes again. She knows she's awkwardly hunched over, thick fur hanging roughly over sopping wet clothes, still, she tries to maintain a form of power. Fuck, she feels so weak though.

Ontari considers Clarke a few moments more, head on a tilt, lips tight, eyes roaming her form but never changing to opalescent. Never looking beyond, perhaps not needing to.

"So you did meet her," she says, as if confirming what she thought. Her glance goes over Clarke's injuries again and her eyes narrow in thought. 

"Who is she," Clarke repeats, "why was she there?" The puzzle pieces are slowly coming together, trying to fit, trying to be made into a complete picture; Ontari has just confirmed she knew of the stranger, meaning, most likely of the location of their meeting as well. Possibly could have had something to do with it occurring, to be honest, Clarke wouldn’t push it passed her.

Ontari frowns for the briefest moment before standing, walking slowly around, she glances at her warriors, who back off further into the campsite with her look. She comes closer after circling the fire and Clarke braces but doesn't move when her hand touches her shoulder. Slowly, it makes its way to her head, pushing the blood and rain soaked hair aside from a cut. Eyes scanning it and deciding it's not in need of immediate attention, she orders the healer to move along.

 It makes Clarke sick for not retreating from her murdering touch, but unfortunately, impossibly even, the small, beat up, confused, tormented, and weak part of Clarke finds faint comfort in it. She allows her to beckon her further to warmth; this woman, this child, this spirit, who wished her death, wanted her wife’s death, who tried to kill her dreams... this woman with whom she also has an unlikely bond with, somehow further ties them in this moment as it delves beyond them in a way Clarke doesn't comprehend yet.

Ontari looks, sympathetic, and Clarke will never un-see it. It will stick with her, make her question who this woman is, and who she could have been. Who she may still be. Fate can be funny that way. She shivers again and blinks back to focus on the information she wants.

"She's a ghost," Ontari finally says, withdrawing her hand and watching the healer scurry off as she drinks from her own steaming mug. 

Clarke groans, "I'm too tired for games, Ontari. She's a ghost like I'm a ghost, or she's a literal ghost?"

Ontari looks back to Clarke with a smirk, "cute," she remarks sarcastically to Clarke’s tone and reference to her legend. She's undaunted by who Clarke is, what her legend has become when she had once vowed to rewrite it; the blonde simply intrigues her. Always has.

Clarke rolls her eyes and adjusts more gingerly into the bear, trying to find more heat, "It's been a long night, just give me a break. No cryptic shit. No riddles."

Ontari watches her for a moment before she decides on how to answer. "It is hard to say who she is exactly. She is of the living, of course, but she is no one and many."

"What did I just say?" Clarke wants to smack a bitch. She hates the thought that under different circumstances, Ontari would fit right in with Raven and Octavia and undoubtedly cause Clarke endless suffering.

"We all have our vices," Ontari says, clearly enjoying herself, finishing with a shrug. 

Insufferable. Both hated and liked to be hated, playful and on the verge of friendly at times as well. She always throws Clarke for a loop the way she flits from personality traits. It's like she can never set on one, like she too is many someone's and no one herself. A product of Nia's harshness and a woman trying to find her true self. It's like watching a person audition for many rolls all at once. Empathy strikes within her again. Though their paths may be different, they're not so different in the end.

"I hate you,” Clarke states dryly.

Ontario chuckles lightly. “It is not a riddle, the stranger just simply is no one and many. Even I cannot see who she identifies with. You know to see requires a mind to follow, to see her is almost like trying to see you, except different in that she simply has too many minds for me to follow.”

Clarke scrunches up her face in thought, slowly muddling through what she’s being told. “So, she’s gifted?”

“She may say cursed,” Ontari offers, almost like an afterthought. Seconds hang as it registers deep within both of them.

Cursed. Clarke could see that. They each take a long sip of tea.

“If she's no one, why was she there?" Clarke tried to cut back to the chase. She sips again at her tea, pleased to find it's soothing some of her aches and easing a bit of the throbbing in her head as she gets deeper in her tankard.

"I think you know."

"She knew I'd be there," Clarke states what she had originally thought, originally felt. Still trying to get Ontari to give her something concrete.

"She was told you may be there," Ontari concedes, before taking another drink.

"By you."

Ontari now watches her before sitting down beside her again, "by me," she concedes again.

"So you do know her."

"Yes, I suppose, but not who she was before. Though, I have my suspicions on who she used to be, hints from stories amongst Azgedakru, but it does not matter, that woman is gone, she really is no one now," Ontari says quietly, eyes falling into thought.

"Before what?" Clarke prods, confused.

Ontari blinks a few times, “before she became what she feared,” the sentence comes out as a whisper, as something that clearly sinks deep within them both.

Clarke huffs and tries to roll her shoulders as Ontari’s words touch her. It's more common ground built on shaky footing, and just another conversation that is thoroughly layered. Fucking riddles.

“Why me?” Clarke hears herself question.

“Why you, what?” Ontari furrows her brow.

“Why did you tell her about me? Why would she care?” Clarke doesn’t need to ask if she’s in danger, the woman could have killed her in the forest and didn’t. it doesn't mean it couldn't potentially be a threat though. She saw too much.

Ontari juts her jaw around, she is silent as she watches the fire before she finally answers, “Who doesn’t want to see the Great Wanheda in person?”

Clarke rolls her eyes, “knock it off, answer the question.”

“You’re not going to like it.”

“Oh, I’m betting on it.”

Ontari smirks, “Fine. She wanted proof, and you were it.”

“Proof for what?”

“Proof of our alignment.”

Clarke narrows her eyes, “What did you do?” She growls, though it hurts her ribs.

“Oh relax, it's nothing you wouldn’t have done, little bloodshed – I behaved,” Ontari said. “I simply tried to get us an advantage. She was not receptive at first, but it seems curiosity got the better of her... It means I can try again.”

Sweet Jesus, great. Now she’s smiling. “Stop smiling, it’s only making my suspicions worse. ‘Try again’ at what exactly?” Clarke questions.

Ontari frowns, “It is better if you do not know ‘what exactly’. I may have seen you at the beach but I never saw her, if she did that to you, it is best if I try and gain this advantage alone.”

“No. No, you do not get to dictate to me what you are going to do, like it or not this is a partnership that has to function on some basis of trust, as weak and brittle as it may be.” Clarke tells her coldly, but not disrespectful. Agitated, if anything. “You can’t very well expect me to trust you to go seeking an advantage that if successful could just be turned around and used against us and not on our mutual enemy.” She doesn't think to mention that her injuries were really her own doing.

Ontari watches her for a moment in the corner of her eye; she sighs when she realizes Clarke will not let this go. “She is a prominent leader of the gifted, the ones who abandoned these lands to colonize themselves.”

Clarke narrows her eyes, she remembers learning from the twins and Lexa about those who were persecuted for being spiritwielders and mutants. Knows the majority of them fled to seek safety and acceptance, to escape judgement and fear. She lowers her head, “We decided not to look for them,” she says quietly.

Ontari huffs, “’We’, as in you and Lexa. Lexa, who is not part of this deal between you and I. Who we both know has people looking for me to bring me to heel so she can kill me herself. It is not two versus one if this were a vote, Clarke. Her opinion in this does not matter. Not to me.”

Clarke sighs, “I would have lost the vote if she had been a part of this, if we had a voted on it.”

Ontari turns to look at her, blinking slowly, parted lips, moving to taste the truth Clarke just revealed. Ontari laughs quietly, “So Lexa and I agree on something it seems.”

“I said no, we discussed it over and over again, and yet... it was my verdict that counted.” Clarke falls quiet, thinking about in how many ways their relationship was unbalanced right now. “I suppose it doesn't matter to you that I still don’t think we should involve them, they owe us nothing, it’s not right of us to ask.”

“She is intrigued, she went and saw you, I am going back," Ontari tells her. "This is our chance. I spoke true Clarke; you know my motives and what I plan to ask. I know we do not trust each other so easily, but since we struck our bargain, I have not lied.”

Clarke considers this a bit, she hates that she finds it true. Even tonight, randomly showing up in the wilderness, Ontari has been true to her transmissions, with her location and Clarke hasn't betrayed that.

“At least, continue to behave,” Clarke impores, using the same term Ontari had before. “We don’t need them coming after us on top of everything else.”

Ontari purses her lips into a sideways smirk, she raises her hand to the sky, “On the spirits' mercy,” she mocks.

“I know you’re joking, but I’m serious," Clarke purses her lips. "And I want it noted that I don’t agree with this.” But really, she has no dominion over Ontari’s actions, they are a partnership of necessity and it’s not to be confused any other way despite how fucking weirdly light their interactions can become.

Ontari laughs lightly, “It’s noted.” She's shuffling a bit to get more comfort from the bear’s side they rest against. “Now,” Ontari pokes her leg in an unsettling manner, but Clarke doesn’t flinch as it's not meant to hurt, it just… throws her a bit. “Ask me what you don’t want to hear, Clarke.” Ontari says quietly, almost sadly, if Clarke isn’t mistaken.

Why me? Clarke almost blurts out again but this time not in any relation to the stranger. She bites her lip and thinks. Clarke blinks slowly, before licking her lips to soothe where she had dug her teeth in. She goes back to her very first question.

How.

"How did you know, how could you have seen?" She finally asks quietly. She knows the questions go far beyond the stranger; delve into the reason she was at the beach in the first place.

She thinks, judging by the weirdly sympathetic face Ontari gives her that she also may be right to consider that she knows just how raw Clarke is from the evening – inside and out. Seeing it would be feeling it as well based on Clarke’s experience of watching the past unfold in the veil in in her dreams, and when she had consciously allowed Ontari to look into her future before. 

So, she reasons, so too would it be when she hadn't consciously allowed it. Which begs her previous questions and eerily gives Clarke a semblance of camaraderie, even if it is and should be unwelcome. Ontari may be a terrible ally to have, but she is the only one who may come close to understanding the burden of their deal other than Lexa. Ontari, may know, may have seen her entire day, felt it all as Clarke and Lexa did through her own gift, or so Clarke suspects.

It does help her understand why, in her want to delay that-which may break her that waits at home, she ended up here. Here, she could feel like maybe she could, and did, find some answers to something, when she feels so unanswered with her situation at home. She looks more intently at Ontari, begging silently for another answer.

Ontari considers her a moment, her eyes, dark and intense before they soften slightly. "So many walls, Clarke,” she says lightly, “One of them had to start to crumble..." she tilts her head in consideration, "Maybe even the whole foundation."

Clarke shivers despite the warmth around her and the slow drying of her clothes. She understands easily what she's implying, what she's saying without saying.

Clarke’s been slightly lost, trapped in repetition and routine; avoiding many things inside her head and heart while the chancellor, wanheda, the wife, the leader, went through the motions. And to think she had the audacity to silently begrudge Lexa for falling into somewhat the same issue.

And tonight, she considers the dinner alone, her actions only prove Ontari right. She had had to work with extra effort to keep Raven out, to stay in control, something she's not entirely convinced she achieved. The stress, the grief, guilt and loneliness she had felt made her work harder and harder to hide it for weeks, let alone tonight. The sleepwalking to Elyza, the worry for her, combined with her nightmares…

She's gotta admit. It makes sense.

Something always has to give.

Clarke grits her teeth in her own stupidity, she wonders how long Ontari had been able to watch her. Worse, she wonders how long she's been watching without her noticing, she had always been able to feel it before...

Clarke sighs, but if your wall to her has cracked, has fallen, you wouldn't have felt her gaze.

Really. Fucking. Stupid. Clarke.

"You hate that I know," Ontari breaks her mental berating. She knows too much. Way beyond anything Clarke would ever allow her to know.

"Yes. Obviously."

"Why?" Ontari sounds actually fucking curious and Clarke hates it. 

Clarke doesn't answer.

"We are ally's now," Ontari prods.

"Ally's, not friends," Clarke hisses in clarification. 

"In a way, they are the same."

"Not with us."

"You wound me," Ontari feigns hurt. Her eyes do portray it slightly though. Clarke hates that too.

"Yeah, sure I do," Clarke scoffs. 

“You are going to tell her?”

“About our deal?” Clarke sighs, “Yes. I would hazard to guess you’ve seen that?” I can't keep this up. I need Lexa and I can't keep this burden alone any longer.

Ontari nods slightly, “Yes, as a possibility... She’s not going to like it.”

“No,” Clarke agrees, “she will not.”

“You’re not going to like it either,” Ontari warns gently. A little hint that this is going to be just a rough as Clarke suspects but in no way she expects.

Clarke nods, “I’m aware.”

Something always has to give. And Clarke can’t keep this up because keeping everyone out - let Ontari in.

That terrifies her.

Silence falls and Clarke startles when Bamse snores behind her; she tries not to note that they both laugh lightly at it.

Not friends. She repeats to herself.

But she can't really deny that the fact that they have both acknowledged, in their own way, that Ontari had indeed felt and seen Clarke’s moments of weakness without the woman inflicting more damage. She knows where the wounds lie beneath her skin, within her heart and mind, and she doesn’t strike.

She isn't using it against her, isn't callous with her, has actually been quite hospitable... even kind, tonight. 

Devilishly infuriating, per usual but still, kind.

Frenemies, maybe. Frienemenamallys…Frienemallys... stop. She sets down her tea tankard, her eased pains and mind fully noted. That's enough of that.

"Will you rebuild your wall, will you block me out?"

Now she knows where she has been blind and vulnerable to someone she still can't trust like that, she must repel. She'll lower that wall if and when she needs to, she is more aware of her downfall now. "Yes," Clarke confirms, no point in lying. "It's prudent," Clarke repeats Ontari's earlier excuse about trust. 

The girl laughs, deeply oddly freer than earlier, "I suppose you're right."

Clarke gives a small grin. She has to admit she prefers this Ontari to the bloodthirsty glory hound.

"Thank you, for at least attempting to answer my questions... and for the hospitality." Clarke roughly gets out.

Ontari smirks at her awkwardness, "did that burn your tongue?"

Clarke rolls her eyes, "I hate you."

"You said that," Ontari hums, "but I don't think that's true, not fully."

"No, I do." It's true and also not true. She is growing on her, is proving more surprising and surprisingly trustworthy the more they have talked over the last few weeks.

"A part of you."

Damn her.

She should hate her. She should. A large part of her does; will not forget, not forgive, but she will find understanding and attempt to rise above. A part of her does not hate her. 

Clarke and Ontari are brought hot food and silence falls around them again while they dig in. Clarke watches the girl beside her and the movement in the camp. They seem to be packing up, making ready to move out.

"Time to go?" Clarke says, reluctantly acknowledging that she should probably be going too; she's made enough stupid decisions for one night, it's time to face the music and go home.

"Time to move, we have another sector to check. Something I saw in a dream I shouldn't have seen. Then beyond to find the ones who left."

Clarke swallows the chunk of meat in her mouth, slightly gagging because she barely chewed it. "When? What?"

"Nothing for you to worry about right now, you have enough to deal with tonight," she says gently. "We will speak in four days, I should know more then."

Clarke shakes her head, "thought you wanted to be my friend, 'we are ally's'" ' Clarke mimics Ontari’s earlier prodding, unable to stop herself. Always the manipulator.

Ontari smirks and takes another bite of food. She chews a bit before she answers her at all.

"Lexa and I may agree on one other thing,” she says thoughtfully, “I see the draw to you; the manipulation, your tact, your mind, the beauty... I understand a little more about Sophie’s situation. Lexa really has her hands full with you. "

Clarke purses her lips and cocks her brow, "she can handle it." 

"I'm sure she can."

Clarke rolls her eyes and sighs. This conversation is swaying off course again, damn her, "what sector?"

"10, possibly 12 as well."

Clarke nods. "Okay. Four days."

"What will you do?"

Clarkes eyes widen, "go home." Obviously. 

"Not take to the wilds?"

Clarke grumbles under her breath, realizing Ontari saw that option she almost took. "No, I'll go home."

"A final question, Clarke. Do you wish you never left the sky?"

That causes Clarke to pause. Does she? Do I?

The pain, the blood, the death, her ghosts…

The black, the constant vastness, the fake light, the tainted oxygen…

Her father. Wells. Before.

Lexa. Her family. Her people.

“The ground, that was the dream,” she says quietly. “Turns out, it's a real nightmare sometimes," she swallows as her mind runs from blood to Lexa, "but it’s still the dream.”

“That is a no?”

“That is a no,” Clarke confirms.

Ontari nods, “Good. Remember that.”

And then she is moving, barking out orders before looking back to Clarke. “Bamse will stay with you until you feel ready to leave. Jauquin, will stay as well in case you need assistance,” she motions to the young man from before. Clarke nods gratefully. She’s about 85% sure she’s going to need help getting up, wrapped ribs or not.

“Be safe, Clarke and ste yuj,” Ontari says, “You have a rough go ahead.”

Clarke nods, fully aware of why that is. She chews her lip, wanting to ask one final question, one she has kept down so far. She sighs as Ontari rolls her eyes.

“Ask me.”

“Has it… Did it… The image, as far as you can see, did it change?” Clarke voices quietly, pleadingly. SHe knows Ontari knows of what she means.

Ontari tightens her jaw, "no," she says and minutely shakes her head, “No. I am sorry.”

Clarke almost believes her.

Her mind flashes to the burning sight of Lexa encased in flames.

Chapter Text

 

[Cue Drunk Clarke before she left]

“I don’t see what the big deal is,” Clarke finally spits out at the fifteenth time she caught Lexa glancing worriedly at her, “no one said shit about you getting drunk.”

Lexa’s hands ball into fists and her eyes widen but Raven comes to her defense, her own anger at Clarke’s behaviour coming out, “She wasn’t the only one ‘getting drunk’ then, it was more of a group task - and it sure as shit wasn’t at dinner with the kids at the other end of the table.”

Lexa watches, wide-eyed and unable to stop the slow motion implosion in Clarke that occurs at Raven's words.

The blonde’s eyes, so close to tears, snap shut, she winces as if physically struck before she's shooting up from the table. Lexa gasps and rises as Clarke runs from the room.

She flashes a glare at raven before she gives chase. The two other brunettes quickly share a look of 'oh shit', before joining her.

Lexa curses raven and herself as she bolts after the twins who are following Clarke as well. Lexa's not exactly running, but her movements are hastened to avoid causing more speculation as to what had been occurring at their table. Like they could even be remotely close to guessing exactly why their leaders are so quick to leave, but still, she didn't want to cause unnecessary panic.

Lexa vaguely notes Octavia and raven following her, slowed by the mechanics long-term injury. She feels clarke’s heart spasm, feels her despair and her lack of oxygen. 

How she feels like she's suffocating.

The realization slows Lexa slightly as she blinks, but she doesn't stop. It hurts, but she understands that clarke's pain is worse; She can feel it, almost all of it, but it's not attached to thoughts like Clarke's is, and it's the thoughts that make the pain in her heart worse. Lexa knows. She wonders, briefly acknowledges even, that it's her presence that's aiding this feeling in her wife.

 That also slows her pace a bit. It causes her to stumble.

She watches Clarke stumble next, but she continues forward. Her pace quickens and Lexa feels every bit of the same tightness in her own chest. Clarke is near full tilt before she trips again, falling this time on the steps to the doors, and Lexa can feel the fresh cut to her knee, the bruise that will follow. The fall doesn't faze Clarke; she perseveres to rise and bolts through the doors that open for her.

The twins are hot on her heels, undaunted by the storm ahead of them and Clarke's incessant fleeing. They weren't instructed to follow or not to follow; they're simply following to ensure the woman they swore their lives to is protected. From the look Lexa saw as they followed Clarke out of the hall, they too are concerned.

Lexa sees Clarke raise her head to the sky trying to find breaths that don't come as she's pelted with rain.

There's a second of hesitation, a ripple through her form. One Lexa feels just as intensely. 

Then, she's bolting again.

The sight, the fear, she can feel amidst the various other emotions in her wife, cracks her armour and her heart is calling out to the girl. She wants her to wait; wants her not to run, but can see, feel, her desperation for escape. 

The rain pelts Lexa as she follows out into the night. The lightning crashes, is followed by thunder, but Lexa can only hear her wife's cries.

Unable to hold back, Lexa calls out to her. "Clarke!" her voice is cracking in desperation, just as she feels a gripping burn, followed by pain, wrack her body. Her right hand flies to her heart as she stumbles with the shock. Lexa struggles momentarily and then pushes her legs faster, ignoring the heaviness of the wine and food, of the pain in her heart. 

"Clarke," she breathes out a second time, weaker as the feeling continues and she can feel her wife's control slipping. Lexa feels like she may combust, like she'll burn on the spot despite the downpour.

Implode along with Clarke.

And then it happens, the wind smacks against her like a wall and she's shocked to her knees, puddles splashing up at her already soaked form as Clarke's flames defy Mother Nature. The pain she was feeling, the overwhelming turmoil, continues even as Clarke vanishes and try as she might, Lexa can't follow. 

Frustrated, heaving in pain, and bombarded with rain that feels like razor blades, Lexa can only summon a flicker of light. She tries over and over again and the light just shines a split second and fades the next as her body ripples in fear and worry and everyone that's crushing Clarke. It's not even enough to move her a foot, let alone to follow wherever Clarke went.

Lexa weeps.

She howls out a hollow scream in frustration and agony.

She can't even control it, the tears are hers and not hers; for her and not for her.

She feels far away, incredibly full with emotions but also so empty. Alone.

Lexa hangs her head in shame at her wife's pain and her own frustration with herself. Her hand continues to clutch her chest, trying to soothe its ache. The fire in her wife continues to rage while immense sorrow consumes them both.

But this time, Lexa doesn't shy away. Her and Heda feel it together, brace each other and back each other. They take Clarke's pain and their own and they embrace it, they let it make them stronger. Feel it and overcome it. Lexa has learned the impact of avoidance in recent weeks. A lesson tough learned, and with obvious consequences, but she's a good student. She's learned. Adapted. She will not retreat; she will take it and weather the storm. She'll be Clarke's beacon in the darkness. She embraces this pain, allows it to strike hot now only to make her stronger.

Lexa finally feels eyes on her, feels two sets of hands softly brace her before they're pulling at her to stand. She blinks as she realizes raven and Octavia are holding her up, holding her together. The twins stare at them with compassion and worry in their eyes. 

Lexa catches their glance and she knows they're looking for orders. "Go out of the city, gather the wolves if you must, try to find her. We will send the birds should she return while you're gone," she's thankful she can at least squeeze out the words even though they come out ragged. The twins nod, eager to follow after Clarke, they bolt from them to the cities exit. Lexa has to send them, the last time Clarke felt so lost she went to Luna, went to the sea, but Luna is here and Lexa can't help but draw on the time before that when Clarke ran.

When she vanished for three months.

"If she doesn't want to be found, she won't." Octavia cautions lowly in her ear, her hand brushing soaking wet hair from Lexa's face. Sympathy and worry evident in her every motion.

"I know," Lexa sighs, "I can't...I can't follow," she whispers out. "I don't know where she went." She pauses, "I'm not as strong as her... I can't fight the rain and this pain."

"Hey, it's okay. You tried, you'll try again," raven consoles, slowly bringing her arms more firmly around her and turning them. Her and Octavia begin guiding Lexa back to the tower. 

"She left for a reason," Octavia cautions ravens last words. "I'm telling you, she won't allow Lexa to follow until chooses."

"I can feel her," Lexa winces as her heart spasms again.

"Because she swore she wouldn't shut you out," Octavia reasons, unable to deny the desperate need for escape she saw in Clarke's face before. Octavia knows that look well, she harboured it for 17 years in the vents of the ark. She can't help but understand and defend Clarke's need and choice, as foolish and impulsive as it is, she gets it, "it doesn't mean she'll let you follow."

Lexa clenched her eyes shut, knowing she's right. Knowing she asked for this, to feel her pain as her own, asked for the this torture from Clarke not realizing that there would be a time she couldn't do anything about it.

If she can't follow, how can she fix it?

"She'll be okay," raven says quietly, almost to herself. Lexa can tell she's feeling guilty for what she said to Clarke, she finds she doesn't feel sorry for her though; if raven had of kept her composure, there's a chance Clarke would still be safe inside the tower. Bitter and drunk and probably mean but Inside the city, at the very least. Lexa is angry with raven, though she knows she was only trying to defend her when Clarke attacked. She still knows she won't forgive her if something happens to Clarke tonight. She thinks raven knows that too. She knows raven won't forgive herself either.

The thought doesn't help like she thinks it should.

The walk back is anything but silent as the storm rages; the rain, wind and thunder go off in an orchestra above but none of the three women hear it.

They're far too deep in thought and replaying every way they've failed Clarke the last few weeks. 

Raven thinks about what she and Lexa have been up to, add to that the guilt weighing on her for both hiding things from Clarke and keeping quiet of Clarkes secret with Ontari from lexa.  She thinks about her actions with Clarke this evening, feeling an extra pang of guilt, but unable to think she was totally wrong for being so blunt. She was just saying what everyone else was too afraid to, saying what Clarke needed to hear... or so she thought, anyways.

 Octavia thinks over how she and Clarke lost touch a bit, how they fought this morning and got a little closer to how they had been. She thinks of how she couldn't protect her, properly defend her, at dinner. She feels guilty for failing, for allowing raven to defend Lexa but not allowing herself to defend Clarke. No matter how bad she hadn't wanted to, she did sort of agree with raven - maybe not the bluntness of delivery (though neither one of them are particularly known for any other way)  - but with the truth.

Lexa thinks about how lost and alone Clarke is feeling, has been feeling - she registers that too. She replays all the times she pulled away, when she ran behind her walls and Clarke let her. She thinks about how she couldn't keep her safe, keep any of this from happening. She thinks about her guilt of keeping secrets, making plans behind her back. She had every intention of telling her, she just kept putting it off, probably because she knows it won't go over well. They've had similar discussions previously, all surrounding the topic, but at that point, she had made no moves. Now, she has.

And now Clarke is gone; running. Looking for escape and Lexa has no way to follow, probably shouldn't follow, if Clarke's current state is anything to go by. It digs deep inside her as she goes over how her presence and calling out to Clarke as she bolted only made things worse. Made her feel even more suffocated. Lexa will never forgive herself if something happens to Clarke, if she weren't to return. If something's happened to Clarke it would be devastating enough, but if something happened to Clarke while they were on such rocky footing, Lexa feels like their entwined souls may tear apart because of it. 

She's sure hers will.

Octavia and raven rush her inside, Lexa is hardly capable to even raise her chin and walk with any semblance of control. Heda works overtime to make it believable but she too feels weak. Her chest still aches with Clarke, for Clarke.

They take the back stairs to avoid more eyes, to protect Lexa's admittedly fragile form. The hike up the many, many steps is long and exhausting, but the burn in Lexas muscles help her focus on something other than the pain in her chest.

She is ushered into her room, her coat and clothes being pulled from her as soon as they're in. Octavia rushes to get hot water ready, Lexa vaguely notes that she's shaking and shivering. In fact, they all are, but Lexa seems to be the priority.

Too stunned and dazed by her pain to protest Lexa let's them fuss. She's stripped and guided into a hot bath as raven and Octavia take turns watching her and also changing into Clarke and lexas clothes because they're readily available.

When her body feels warm to the touch, though she's still trembling, her hands are being pulled from the tub. She hears the door in the other room open and close with a slam as someone rushes into the room.

It gets her head to perk up, wishing to see Clarke, disappointed to only find Luna now staring at them in confusion, "I cut the lesson short, heard there may be a situation?" Raven nods, noting they weren't exactly subtle when they bolted from the hall. She rushes to fill her in while Octavia helps Lexa dress in warm nightclothes. 

Lexa continues to cry, though not making any effort or force in her breathing, the tears just... fall.

Fall for Clarke, from Clarke, for Lexa and from Lexa. They continue like they had outside.

"Ah, the wine is not always kind," Luna says as Lexa is brought into the room and raven finishes explaining what happened after she left with the kids. Luna watches Lexa cautiously as she listens with sympathy in her eyes.

Lexa flashes her a glare as she moved on her own, shrugging away from Octavia and towards the balcony. Needing the cool air, needing to be as close to the storm as possible because that's where Clarke is.

Out there, somewhere. Braving a storm outside and a storm within. Alone.

Lexa shudders as a fur is draped over her by Octavia before she is given the distance she sought. She vaguely notes the women in the room finding spots to rest and converse. Making no motion to leave her alone tonight.

Lexa rubs her chest discretely and her shoulders fall as she stares out into the night.

After a few heart wrenching moments she begins to really sob. Unable to contain herself, to hold back what Clarke puts out, she lets out undignified gasps and harshly quieted wails.  Instantly a hand is on her back, between her shoulder blades as another lands on her shoulder.

She gasps for breath.

"Hey," ravens voice fills her ears, "its going to be okay."

"You don't know that," Lexa chokes back a sob and manages to whisper. Anger with raven, blame with raven, still quick to grab.

"No, but I can believe it."

Lexa doesn't look at her, "I can't." Another jolt fires though her body, she feels Clarke freezing, her fire raging and her walls cracking.

"She's breaking," Lexa says a little louder. Devastated.

She hears Octavia gasp at the sound of her pain from the statement. Knows she wishes almost as much as Lexa that she were there for her.

"Good," Luna surprises the room by saying. "Let her break." She remains behind the three women, closer to the couch.

A fire ignites in Lexa, she whirls around, shoving ravens comfort from her and causing Octavia to back up a few steps. 

"Excuse me?" Lexa heaves, glaring daggers, while raven swallows her pride and makes her way over follow Lexa. She has her head cast down, the epitome of guilt.

"You heard me Lexa. Let her break," Luna states calmly, voice soft but determined. She raises her chin slightly.

"She is alone and in pain Luna! In the wilds, alone, while we are surrounded by the enemy and the unknown!" Lexas voice is hoarse but powerful in her anger. "She is in danger!"

"She's been in that situation before," raven says quietly, eyes glancing away as Lexa rounds on her as soon as she utters the first word. 

She moves forward threateningly, her anger at ravens comment and her actions before coming through. Her own anger towards herself, for understanding the look of utter breakage in Clarke before she even left the table - Lexa has seen it before, when a crazed Clarke found her in the Alley and pushed a blade against her throat, when a tormented Clarke arrived after putting the desert to rest- its all pushing her further. 

"I put her in this situation before when I left at the mountain, and WE put her there tonight! But Youbroke. her!"

Lexa's not even shocked to find her hand raised as if she'll sock raven, filled with rage and frustration -pain- but a firm hand grasps her wrist, halting her motion.

"Lexa! Calm yourself," Luna jumps up between them, her other hand landing on lexas chest pushing her back. Raven looks away again guiltily, turning her head as if welcoming the blow that should have landed. She's looking across the table and finding no warmth in Octavia's eyes.

Shock, sadness, yes, but no warmth. Even further, Octavia looks disappointed and that guts raven where she stands, lands harder than any blow Lexa could have just dealt. She looks to the floor, sighing, holding back tears.

"You agree?" Raven finds the will and asks her girlfriend, blinking at the ground, against the salt in her eye. Hurt evident in her voice. Then her Eyes are finally rising to get her answer.

Octavia shifts where she now stands, eyes flickering away, she fidgets with the cotton shirt before she meets Ravens eyes again. "You could have been a little kinder," Octavia shrugs, "she was hurting and drunk, barely in control, it's not much of an excuse on her part, but you could have been a little more understanding."

"Understanding?" Raven balks now, finding a spark of fire of her own, swallowing at her tears and fighting to defend herself, as weak and fickle as it feels.

 "I was being understanding, I tried to help and she jumped down my throat. Jumped down Lexa's throat because she knew she would take it! She went too far and she needed to hear it. I was just saying what everyone else was too afraid to." She doesn't even bother getting into the ridiculous jealousy she saw. However, Ravens defence is a little too forceful, they can tell she's trying to prove it to herself as much as them. She's got too much pride, she feels like she was right even though it turned out wrong. 

"I didn't need you to defend me, and you should have waited to defend yourself," Lexa growls, shaking Luna's grasp loose. "Clarke deserves and is entitled to feel whatever she's feeling. To cope however she chooses." I was.

"She does, but it doesn't give her the right to walk all over anyone," Luna says gently, trying to appease both of them. "Clarke was walking in darkness long before the wine hit her tongue; we may not like how it occurred but we have to acknowledge that Clarke finally giving in to her pain was needed."

Luna places her hand on Lexa's shoulder, squeezing gently, "Clarke is who Clarke is because she gives in to her emotions, and you can't deny now that she hasn't been lately. She needs this. As painful as it is."

Lexa looks away. Torn by the truth, hating every second of it. Her chest still pangs painfully with both their sorrows. 

Raven finds herself speaking again, anything to help ease what she helped stir up, "Lexa, you can feel her, she isn't shutting you out. Thats something at least, right? maybe she just needs some time."

"Time?" Lexa counters, "and how many countless things can go wrong while she takes this time? She doesn't want me to follow, I can feel her allowing me in but keeping me at distance all at once. She is alone."

The eyes in the room watch her carefully as Lexa trails off and her eyes squeeze shut in despair.

"She's breaking... broken," she whispers, tears still falling, only slowed from her previous anger. 

Luna brings her in to a warm embrace, hands slipping behind Lexa and under the fur, "so were you." 

Lexa clings to her tighter, searching for comfort though it doesn't satisfy. It only buffers the pain. It only momentarily delays her coursing worry. "Tell me it's going to be okay," she whispers so quietly, it is only Luna that hears it and it breaks her heart.

Luna can't tell her that, knows the ground and Lexas life well enough to know that despite their hope, anything can happen - even the worst. Instead she says something philosophical but pointed enough to offer as much comfort as she can. 

"She'll come home when she's ready child," Luna whispers back, slightly choked herself, rocking her gently, kissing her temple.


 

Clarke thanks Jauquin and Bamse for watching over her while she gathered her strength. The two of them were left behind by Ontari in a semblance of concern that Clarke finds she's grateful for. She's glad she has someone here to defend her in her weakened state should the need arise. It is another kindness Ontari did not have to offer, another bridge of trust being built to help her believe in her choices. They'll catch up after Clarke leaves. 

Bamse watches over her, keeping her warm while she rests a little longer, finishing the hot meal. Jauquin doesn't speak much but scans the perimeter like his life depends on keeping Clarke safe.

When she finally feels a little less damp, not as trembling with shivers from the cold snap, she motions for Jauquin to aid her in rising.

He is careful and smooth in his assistance; she thanks him again, noting how he seems to beam at her gratitude. "You could come back with me," she finds herself saying as she's helped upright. Bamse is stretching behind her and rising as well.

Her legs, stiff from the night and her pain, wobble and she feels Bamse push lightly against her backside helping her remain upright while the boy holds her forearms.

The boy ducks his head slightly, "I am sworn to serve me queen. I will return to her."

Clarke tilts her head a little in consideration, so he hadn't wanted to dessert with the others after all. She finds herself nodding, "good, she needs people she can trust." And she knows it's true, she owes Ontari very little but she can't help but understand the need for confidence in those around you. Although, she finds herself surprised at her consideration and show of softness for the woman. 

But then again, they understand each other in ways possibly no one else would.

The boy nods, at her inflection. He adjusts the fur on Clarke's back, "she is troubled, but the true queen can be kind, loving even."

Clarke furrows her brow, noting the softness in the boys tone, the reminiscent look in his eyes.

He loves her.

Clarke blinks, "you would know better than I," she finds herself saying lightly. She can’t imagine anyone loving Ontari after what she’s done, but then again, after all Clarke has done – she’s kind of shocked that she is even loved.

The boy’s lips twitch in a smirk at her words and Bamse groans behind her. Clarke smirks at that. 

Yep, there's definitely something between them. Father bear’s reaction is a key indicator.

"Are you sure you will be able to make it back?" He asks quietly, now moving to douse the fire.

Clarke runs her hands through Bamse’s fur, soaking in more warmth, pleased to find that though she killed the white bears, the king of them seems to harbour no ill will.

Because, perhaps, Ontari harbours no ill will. Clarke knows Bamse will not hesitate to harm her should Ontari wish it, but Clarke finds understanding with him as well. She knows his loyalty is to Ontari but she can't help but note the trust in her lies within the bear as well. She's still shocked that she can touch, and more so, is not afraid to touch, the giant.

Clarke sighs and finally steps away from the bear, "I'll be fine. Go, catch up to your queen."

Her clothes aren't completely dry, just damp, on the cusp of drying. As the fire goes out and she's no longer in the close proximity to the bear she shivers a little again. Her body still feels weak but not as violently as before, her heart and mind still feel heavy but she finds she doesn't want to keep running. Doesn't need or wish to delay any longer.

Her plan to walk into the wilderness truly did die with the appearance of the stranger, choked out completely with Clarke's experience and learning at the azgeda camp. She didn't know she was looking for understanding as well as answers but she found both.

She shrugs off the fur, tossing it back to the boy. She can't very well show up with an azgeda fur, which will help literally nothing. She still hasn't decided if she'll reveal where she ended up tonight, but she's sure as shit not going to do it by accident. Believe that.

"Until we meet again," Clarke says turning to face them both. Bamse blinks, seems to nod, while the boy smiles and waves, delighted in their meeting, and Clarke rolls her eyes.

She focuses the flames, she channels her mind and heart to where she wants - needs- to be.

Weightlessness overcomes her, soaking in the bit of energy she regained and using it to take her as far as possible. 

She lands, stumbling and swaying slightly as her head adjusts again to the motion. She finds herself outside the tower, roughly where she had been before she left. She sighs as she starts to move forward through the puddled streets, knowing this long walk and climb upstairs is going to suck as much as what will most likely await her.


 

Holy hell,” Octavia gasps.

"What in the..." Luna trails off, turning as the door opens.

"Clarke Elizabeth Griffin! Where have you been?" Raven exclaims at the sight of her. Her inner guilt now tenfold as she sees her beaten form. 

Clarke winces at the use of her skaikru name, a childhood habit no matter who delivers it. Thank god her head has already begun to feel a little better because, if not, she's sure the volume alone would have caused her agony.

Raven, Octavia, Luna, and followed just a few feet back is Lexa, coming forward as Clarke walks into their bedroom. She expected a reaction similar to the one she receives; though Luna's presence is a surprise, she vaguely notes. She avoids Lexa’s eyes.

She knows she caused worry in her disappearance, especially in her gifts defiance of the storm; She’s never been able to use the flames amidst such a downpour before, not even when Kai was being punished by Titus, and she knows the women in the room know it as well. Her gift is tied to her emotions and she can tell they understand how out of control she must have been feeling at the time.

Though Lexa is the only one that truly knows.

She also knows her appearance is quite different from hours earlier. Especially considering she’s still damp covered in mud, bleeding from various cuts, freshly bruised, and also taking shallow breaths, quite frankly, because they don't hurt as much.

She's still in so much pain. The travel, the energy to do so, the hike up the tower, brings it back in spades.

She tries not to flinch as she sees her wife really take in the image with wide careful eyes, "Clarke?" Full body scan, assessing, noting all the differences from hours earlier.

"I'm okay," she says to the worry in green eyes, unable to hold her look for long. The brows above those eyes tilt up incredulously. Clarke concedes with a sigh, "Okay, mostly okay," she says as she crosses the room. Her head throbs with the movement and she pauses momentarily so she doesn’t fall over. She still feels dazed from everything that happened. She gathers herself and moves further, kicking off soaked boots and untying her pants. 

The three women follow her with their eyes; Lexa is the only one that moves to follow her. She’s unable to resist her gravitational pull, or her own concern.

"Clarke, you're still wet, covered in dirt and bleeding!" Her voice reaches a weird strangled pitch Clarke is unfamiliar with.

"I think I've got a couple of cracked ribs too," Clarke isn't sure why she adds that so casually, it’s not a light matter, but her minds still catching up and reeling in everything that happened, while her body is now painfully stripping off her damp dirty pants. She also figures there’s no use in trying to hide it; her lack of mobility isn’t easily hid. The wrapping around her body, holding her ribs securely, will soon be seen as well. Her movements have already given her injury away, as she struggles with the pants, resigning to just using her legs to shimmy them the rest of the way down. It’s still a struggle, her muscles clench with each movement, shocking her ribs; her strength she had gathered to enter the room is continually fading and fading fast.

Ever the fighter, she continues to move.

"Clarke!" All three women shout at her as she now gingerly bends to put on her sleep pants. They snap out of their shock. Clarke hisses, with her move, it’s painful. She turns her head to look at them, "A little help?" She gestures with the pants with as much force as she can.

Lexa shakes her head in frustration, but comes to her aid. She gently slaps at Clarke's hands when she tries to scoop her foot into the leg, "a bath," she mutters, pulling the pants away and looking behind her, "draw a bath." 

Octavia nods and bolts to call for hot water and prepare the bathroom. 

Clarke stands awkwardly in her underwear and damp shirt, as Lexa moves to gently brace her hips. The brunette tilts her head to catch Clarke's eyes.

Clarke avoids it.

"I'm okay," Clarke finds herself pulling away, shying away from the look of concern. She hates that she made her hurt. Made her worry. Hates that she can't find the confidence she had to face the group that she had before she left the camp.

Lexa's hands drop uselessly, dejectedly, to her sides as Clarke moves away. She furrows her brow and breathes out through her nose to try to keep the hurt from touching her heart. 

(She fails.)

"Luna," Clarke says, gesturing to the woman towards the bathroom. Finding her relatively neutral attitude to her and the situation this evening is easy to latch to. 

Luna nods, glancing at Lexa in sympathy as she comes to help Clarke to the bathroom while Lexa stands heartbroken to be pushed aside. To be, almost, feared. She shakes off Raven’s hand that lands on her shoulder in comfort. She makes herself busy by calling for broth and bread should Clarke be hungry, working to hide the pain she's in.

"Thanks," Clarke whispers as Luna aids her to rest in the bathroom. Hot water is brought in to the tub and she begins to help remove her top clothes. Octavia hovering carefully, waiting to dismissed or asked to help. Her aching ribs don't allow her room to protest against Luna, she shivers as the night air hits her damp bare skin.

Luna's eyes widen when she sees the wrapping before she narrows them in thought. She sighs, slowly pulling the wrapping loose, "it seems you were not as alone as we all thought."

Clarke swallows roughly, looking anywhere but at her. Eyes catching Octavia’s briefly who looks suspicious. Clarke knows it's a slight accusation, sparked by confusion, and she is unsure on how to answer. Octavia knows about Ontari. Luna does not.

She thinks of the stranger looking her initial injuries over. She thinks of Ontari's tongue-less healer. She huffs as she realizes how fucking lucky she is that things went they way they did. She could have died, multiple times. May die, if she doesn't rid this cold from her bones once and for all tonight. When she doesn’t answer she hears Luna sigh and she feels her underwear peeled from her body, her legs compensating each other as she follows gentle hands lifting her feet to loose the garment. 

She could lie; she could say she went to see her mother in arkadia, say that she had aided her. That's hardly believable, Luna knowing full well that Abby would not have let her out of her sight like this. Her clothes? Obvious enough, plus she's still bleeding from her head cuts, and hasn’t been properly cleaned, for Christ sake. The healer only tended the wound that could cause her immediate death say if her ribs further broke and pierced a lung. It probably didn't help that she was a less than willing patient, but she pushes that aside.

Luna continues to assess her injuries; hands ghosting over her, tilting her head, moving her hair, tsking like the stranger and wincing when Clarke does.

Clarke's not ashamed in her nakedness, shivering form the cold but not feeling any invasion on her dignity, not with Luna, who has seen it all before, who had shared her body heat to help save Clarke's life when she was recovering from the desert. Luna is a comfort, a sister, a mentor and a friend.

"Clarke," Luna calls to her when she does not answer, wrap free from her body. Her hands brush gently against Clarke's bruising ribs, dark purple and black splotches. "What happened, strik won?" Little one. 

Clarke blinks as the image of this woman's dead sister flashes in her mind, only to be replaced by the stranger and then Ontari.

"A stranger," Clarke swallows as Luna pulls her, braces her and guides her towards the tub. Octavia comes to help. Clarke rests her hands on her shoulders as she is helped into the tub. She hisses as Luna helps lower her, her own clothes getting wet in the process. She hushes Clarke soothingly, brushing hair back from her forehead. Clarke blinks against tears that come simply from the overwhelming night and the kindness she's being given, and the soothing bone tingling heat of the bath. Luna slowly drags a rag over her head, gently washing the grime from her, patient with the girl.

"Clarke, are you okay?" Luna finally asks, going beyond her visible injuries.

Clarke shakes her head minutely. She’s not. She’s not okay.

She blinks as she tilts her head to look at Luna, her face blurs into the face of her sister before going back. Clarke winces and groans; Luna's hand cups her cheek.

"Clarke?" 

"Do you have anyone scouting the beach, a hundred yards from where we had our wedding night?" Clarke asks her own question, unable to quell her thoughts, wanting to find answers beyond Ontari's vagueness. She sees Octavia look at her questioningly.

Luna furrows her brow, hand brushing Clarke's cheek, "you went to the sea?"

Clarke blinks as she thinks back to the moment. Crying out into the night, unable to stop the flow of tears or flames erupting from her. The sea, the endless sky and the storm bearing witness to her destruction.

And the stranger. The moment of seeing the face of a dead woman.

A spirit wielder. No one and many.

"Who did this to you?" Luna asks when Clarke's eyes glaze over. 

"Wadastryda," Clarke murmurs, "do you have a scout in those lands?" Clarke repeats.

Luna shakes her head, confused by why Clarke uses that term. It is a common word amongst her people, but only afforded to the most efficient, most notably gifted in moving like ground water. It is not something she would apply to the men she thinks of. "only my villages scouts patrol there, two burly men, swifter and more silent than you would think but no wadastryda's. I have put the most skilled on the task of the bunkers and the undead."

Clarke swallows, chewing her lip in deliberation. Luna’s admission helping prove what Ontari said was true. Though the stranger’s explanation was a good one, it was definitely not true.

Which means Ontari’s was.

"That is not who you saw," Luna deduces.

"No." Clarke shakes her head. The stranger’s tattooed face fills her mind. This woman is no one; perhaps Luna doesn't even know her. “I saw a woman. Told me she was a scout in our forces, she moves like you.”

"You could draw her," Luna offers, unable to quell the worry in her eyes. “If someone in my command is defying orders, I need to know.”

Clarke glances away, knowing this woman is not in Luna’s command, but that maybe she was at some point. "Okay."

Clarke shivers as her mind flashes. Who will she draw?

The face of a dead woman? The woman she's perfected in charcoal? Or a wrinkled, tattooed face of a stranger, with eyes and spirit that speak kindness?

Luna breathes a little more freely, focusing back to helping Clarke clean up. "Did they help you with the binding? Why injure you only to aid you?"

Clarke's breath hitches and she swallows thickly. Reminded that Luna knows nothing of her deal with Ontari, Clarke is frozen in fear as she thinks of what neutrality Luna offers now could disappear with the utterance of the truth. She fears that.

Lie. Somewhat lie. Just don't tell the whole truth. Not yet. It is Lexa’s before it is anyone’s, she owes her that much.

"Yes. The woman helped me before she went on her way, she had said she was a member of our forces and I noticed her style of moving through the trees, it's similar to yours... and-" Clarke cuts herself off.

"And," Luna asks, as she’s handed a towel from Octavia.

Clarke looks to the brunette, “Can you give us a second O?”

Octavia’s eyes harden in hurt before she silently nods and leaves the room. Her head hangs low. Clarke's breath hitches again.

“Clarke?”

"I saw costia... right before I hit my head, I could have sworn I saw her face," Clarke blurts out, terrified of voicing it. Unable to hide her worry that she’s seeing things that shouldn’t be there. Costia’s ghost can’t haunt her, she just can’t. It’s not fair.

Luna withdraws further, frowning, "Costia is dead," she says lowly.

Clarke starts to cry a little more, "I know."

Luna seems to soften slightly at her emotion. She goes back to helping Clarke out of the tub and to dry off. She calls for bandages that Octavia delivers, head bowed, eyes worried, before she disappears again. Luna wraps her side once more in silence, but obviously deep in thought.

"You will draw this stranger," she finally says finishing the binding. Not mentioning Costia. "I will look into it."

Clarke nods slowly, allowing Luna to guide her into warm nightclothes. 

"Do not mention her to Lexa." Luna says quietly moments later while tying Clarke pyjama pants.

Clarke doesn't need to ask if it's the stranger or Costia she's not supposed to mention. She knows.

"Okay," Clarke says quietly. I’ll try, she thinks, but she knows hiding something else from Lexa will do her no good, no matter what damage that truth may cause. She swallows again, now unable to hide her internal worry; maybe she really is broken, maybe everything on her shoulder has finally crushed her head, damaged her brain. "Do you... do you think I'm sick," she asks unable to stop herself from worrying over seeing what shouldn't have been there. She’s vulnerable and afraid.

She either conjured the face of a dead woman on her own or the stranger is walking around in the faces of the dead. Neither makes her feel particularly warm.

Luna pulls her closer, hugging her and letting Clarke's head rest against her chest. She hushes her again and braces her as she rocks gently while Clarke's body racks in a quiet sob.

It lulls Clarke, gives her a little reprieve, it brings her mind into drifting to the strangers motions and her meta of the sea, combining with Luna's gentle embrace. She repeats the words internally, giving herself to the mercy of the sea, in the arms of the one who makes their home there.

"You're not sick, not broken, not completely. You are just surrounded by darkness, Clarke. We all bend to its will from time to time." She kisses her temple, "Do not run from what you feel, this is not sickness, this is life. Embrace your pain, it’s what makes you you."

Clarke nods slowly against her chest. Octavia comes back into the room as Luna's motions slowly calm Clarke. Octavia begins gathering Clarke's wet clothes for washing and disposing of the old bandages. She lingers after, eyes carefully probing over Clarke. 

"That needs stitching," she says gently coming to help Luna guide Clarke back to the main room. "Just breathe," Octavia coaches as Clarke tenses a little before the threshold, picking up on why Clarke may be wary of what awaits her, "she's mostly just concerned; more angry with Raven and herself than anyone."

It doesn't make Clarke feel any better.

Emerald eyes catch her own, Lexa falling silent from her whispered conversation with raven. She probes Clarke's form, noting her tension and her obvious aches.

She finally comes forward, eyes hardening slightly, preparing to be rejected like she was when Clarke asked for Luna's aid over her own earlier.

Clarke gives her a small, sheepish smile as she reaches out for her wife. She’s unable to ignore the pain she caused and feels within her. A look of relief goes over Lexa's face as she moves to replace Octavia on Clarke's side. Luna detached as well, murmuring about going to check on the kids.

Lexa guides her to the couch as she takes in the head injury next, she tsks at the sight, just like the way the shadow woman had, just like Luna had, and Clarke sucks in a painful breath. Lexa pulls back her hand and Clarke reaches to grab it, it grounds her, "that wasn't you, you didn't hurt me." 

Lexa's eyes catch her own, as if to say ‘right then’, before she nods once and goes back to examining the wound. She's handed a needle and thread from Raven, who then places a fur over Clarke’s body to help keep her warm. Clarke doesn’t look at her. Octavia hands Clarke some water with a small sympathetic smile. Clarke drinks the entire glass quickly, suddenly feeling dehydrated from the crying and the wine earlier. The effects of Ontari’s tea is wearing off. The two brunettes sit down on the chairs across from them and all three wait for Clarke to speak.

She rings her hands in her lap after handing the cup back when Octavia reaches for it and tries to process the incredibly long day she had and the impossibly long evening she's having. It's just passed midnight and she has a feeling, despite her fatigue, it's going to be much longer before she sleeps.

Today feels like inevitability.

She knows she has some explaining to do.

 “I went to the sea,” she says quietly, in a way that she knows Lexa will know where she means.

“The sea?” Raven questions and Octavia nudges her in the ribs.

“I needed to breathe,” Clarke says.

“That doesn’t explain the walking wounded routine you just pulled coming in here,” Raven points out, casually ignoring Octavia’s silent ‘what the fuck’ gesture.

Clarke swallows and replays the moments she had walked out of the sea with her eyes clenched shut tight, she could have sworn dark brown eyes, plump lips, full cheeks and wild hair flash in front of her before a body is crashing into her.

Don’t do it. Don’t do it.

“I saw Costia,” she blurts out. Damn it.

It explains nothing; it’s only making things worse, shocking her and the room. Right after Luna asked her not to, she said it. There’s even a sharp gasp that comes from Lexa, painful and revealing. Clarke internally curses. That was tactless, and really, she probably should have kept the whole ‘seeing things that aren’t there’ thing to herself, but she’s had a long night and she’s too tired to keep lying or hiding things from Lexa.

“Clarke, that’s not funny,“ Raven cautions slowly and Octavia looks like she’s about to shit in the chair as her eyes dart fearfully between Lexa and Clarke.

“It’s not a joke,” Clarke says lamely, wincing at the twitch in her side, eyes looking anywhere but where but at the pain she’s sure is on Lexa’s face.

Clarke makes the mistake of looking anyways, she deserves to see it and feel the pain it will cause her. She should have kept it inside like Luna told her, but she couldn't; overwhelmed by the night and feeling like she is unable, unwilling, to keep anything else from Lexa had her spilling what she feared the most tonight.

Lexa’s hands tremble and Clarke can tell she’s trying to avoid looking at her as well. Her eyes are heavy with worry and tears she won’t let fall, Clarke feels guilty for allowing the name to cross her lips for another time tonight. Lexa struggles to tend to her wound, hands shaking just like the strangers had. 

Lexa is so close to her side she can feel her heat and her body shudder. “Costia is dead,” Lexa states firmly. Blunt in her delivery, though it escapes as a whisper.

Clarke shudders now too, “That’s what I said.”

Lexa pauses and looks down at her finally, her jaw clenches and her fingers flex with the needle and thread while she tries to stop her shakes. “Said to whom?”

“The stranger,” Clarke tells her. 

“Clarke, you’re barely making sense. You’re still drunk,” Octavia says leaning forward.

Clarke laughs painfully, “No. I’m very far from it right now.”

“Then you’ve clearly bumped your head too hard. You sound delirious,” Raven says, frowning.

“That may be true,” Clarke conceded, her head throbs as if to back that statement up.

“What of this stranger?” Lexa directs them back to the topic at hand. Unable to dwell on what Clarke htinks she saw right now. “Did they do this to you?” That time, she growls.

“Not intentionally,” Clarke murmurs, glancing around the room. She swallows thickly and bites at her lip, “Could you… can you,” Clarke lamely gestures to her head, for some reason unable to actually voice the request for Lexa’s care, for her touch. She doesn’t think she deserves it but she craves it now and will do so always.

Lexa swallows and sighs before going back to work. Her hands are still shaking, but are as soft and as gentle as she can muster. She finishes the stitches and pulls her dagger to cut the thread before sheathing it and walking to the nightstand without looking at her. 

Clarke sighs painfully and can’t ignore the sets of eyes that are still on her waiting expectantly. She finally looks to meet them from across the coffee table and finds them full of careful worry; it makes her feel worse. She’s been so fucking extra tonight; she literally can’t give herself a break. She looks over her shoulder to check on Lexa, who stands beside the bed staring out towards the balcony. Clarke notes the small trembles that course through her, sees the tense rigidity in her posture and can sense emotions as rampant as her own. 

Even through her back, Clarke sees right through her; she can feel the tears that have managed to escape like they’re falling from her own eyes. Lexa is crying.

It breaks her.

“Lexa,” she calls out to her wife, unable to take the sight any longer, her voice gravelly and rasped with pain.

Lexa shifts on her feet and hastily wipes her face before turning to face them. She moves swiftly, working extraneously to hide what was happening. Clarke’s extremely grateful that though she feels weak, she’s still not retreating, she’s even actually physically moving towards her. After the bullshit of her night, caused by her own animosity and frustration with herself, Clarke is so unbelievably grateful that Lexa is ready to put up a fight. She sees her in all her open glory, pulling herself together to face whatever this is exactly. Her eyes watch Clarke cautiously, clearly looking for any obvious signs that Clarke's mind is unwell. Seeing a dead woman is not a good omen for anything or anyone. Clarke can tell she fears for her.

“The stranger,” her wife says coming to stand behind the couch, close but not close enough for the blonde’s liking. She’ll take it at the moment, not wanting to force Lexa in any way. If she is comfortable there, if she needs the couch as a buffer, she’ll let her have it, for now. “You said it was unintentional?”

Clarke can’t help but grin, but she knows it comes out as a grimace, “Yes and no. It was unintentional that she injured me, considering I sort of orchestrated that part, but it was intentional that she was there.”

“She said that?”

“No, she said quite the opposite, but I could just tell. ” she doesn't mention where that hunch had lead her or how right she had been. Not yet.

“You spoke to her? Why?” Lexa starts pacing uneasily. It’s happened so many times before that Clarke actually finds the action soothing right now. Her eyes travel along with Lexa, pacing vicariously through her; it helps her control her thoughts. Keeps her focused.

"Clarke?" Lexa repeats, without breaking strides, eyes still cautiously on her when she doesn't answer.

“I was…” Clarke clears her throat, trying to find a way to explain without explaining, “dealing with things on the beach, just thinking…” She downplays the experience, needlessly because they all know, but she does for some reason – probably what little dignity and pride she has left. Her eyes travel the room, working to avoid anyone else's. She’s unable to divulge that really she had a panic attack and then cried until it felt like there was nothing left, she knows they wouldn’t and don’t judge her for it but still. It’s hard to be vulnerable. Harder still to be vulnerable and pridefulbut , Clarke can’t voice to them how broken she is. She can already see the heavy laced looks of guilt and worry and apprehension, she doesn't want to make them worse. Tonight she felt everything: guilt, grief, remorse, anger, confusion... too much for one night. She can't handle opening that can of worms all over again, not fully anyways, she’d prefer to just acknowledge it with a slight nod from afar.

 “When I was… done,” she says at the lack of a better word, her eyes now flitting back to Lexa. “I noticed that I was being watched from the tree line. I announced myself and she ran, I followed. Then I used the flames to cut her off.” She glances away from Lexa, her voice drops again, “That’s when I thought I saw…her…” she can’t say the name again right now, not when she knows how it will only worsen things for Lexa. “Um, then we collided and I took the brunt of it; she hit me, I hit tree, the usual.” She waves her hand a little.

It’s quiet for a moment. Octavia and Raven holding their breaths. Lexa breathing out slow and deliberately, jaw jutting around after. Clarke tries to shrink on the spot.

“You couldn’t have seen her,” Lexa says quite forcefully, a minute later, trying to will Clarke to understand the seriousness of the matter. Confused and a little angered by her insistence on seeing her dead love and (probably) Clarke’s weird dry levity mixed with intense internal pain in the moment. “Costia is dead.” 

“I know,” Clarke quietly chokes out again. “I know,” she says more quietly. She’s more than aware of the problem.

"And you could have died." Lexa adds on, stern in her gaze. Angered by Clarke's disappearance and driven by how desperately worried she had been, how worried she is now. She's trying to keep composed and not attack Clarke, but come on, seeing a dead woman and chasing a shadow into the night in her emotional state? How moronic could she be? Her decisions tonight were poor and Lexa is… she frowns, disappointed. She can also tell that something more is bother Clarke, something else is going on. She is different than when she left; she’s resolute, seems sound despite what she says she saw and the gash on her head. She looks harder, more determined about something.

 "I'm sorry," Clarke says to Lexa, frowning, "I wasn't thinking straight, I was just reacting...I needed to get out of here, away-"

"Away from what?" Lexa stops pacing, turning to face her.

Clarke's shoulders slump, she sighs. She knows Lexa thinks she may answer with 'you' and that tears her up inside.

 She shakes her head and looks to the other two in the room, a bit of anger flares when she sees Raven’s soft eyes, part of her blaming her for driving her into her panicked state earlier. She’s grateful they stayed with Lexa and were worried for her, but she doesn’t need them here right now. This is between them. In a way it involves all of them, but Clarke owes it to Lexa for them to discuss this on their own.

"Can you give us a minute? I mean, I appreciate everything you're trying to do, but Lexa and I need to talk and I don't really think you being here right now is necessary." She winces when she hears how cold that sounded, perhaps is a little more angry with herself and Raven then she thought. She glances apologetically at Octavia.

Octavia glances at the tone to Raven’s profile with wide eyes before nodding to Clarke and pulling Raven to get up. The mechanic looks like she's fighting herself tooth and nail not to speak and she rises but shakes Octavia off. It seems she refuses to leave the room without saying something, taking a step to right a wrong.

"Stop, O. Hang on," she looks at Clarke with an apology on her lips, "I..."

"Save it for another time, Raven," Lexa interrupts. Her hands are clasped behind her back, she looks stern but understanding, her eyes aren’t as hard as they were but their still pointed.

 Raven swallows and looks dejectedly at the ground, she shakes out of Octavia's hand again and grumbles at her, "Stop trying to make me feel better, I know you're pissed at me too."

It wasn't supposed to be loud enough for the other two to hear but they did. All the women feel a pang in their heart as they watch Raven leave the room.

Octavia looks at the closing door blinking, a little shocked at what just happened. Clarke didn’t mean to cause them issues, to get in the middle of their dynamic, even if it wasn’t intentional – even if it’s because once again her friends are torn between her. Between what is right and what is less right but needed. Octavia looks back to Clarke, who gives her an even more apologetic look and sighs, "sorry," she whispers.

Octavia frowns, "Yeah. Me too. I'll talk to you tomorrow." And she leaves the room, head held low and her chest heavy. 

Silence echoes as the door closes behind her. Clarke takes a steadying breath before turning her head back to Lexa. She catches a fleeting glance before Lexa falls back into pacing. Clarke sighs.

“I’m sorry, Lex.” Clarke says quietly, eyes trailing her wife as she moves.

She sees Lexa’s posture change slightly, “I am the one that should be sorry.” She had been distant, she had been resentful of Clarke and blaming her for things Lexa had no right to. She should be sorry.

Clarke shakes her head, because no, to Clarke, she really shouldn’t. “Don’t do that.”

“Apologize?”

Clarke nods as Lexa stops to look at her, “I don’t deserve it.”

“Clarke-“

“No Lexa. You don’t understand I don’t deserve it.” After all she’s done, all she’s been keeping from her, Lexa won’t come close to understanding until Clarke finally tells her why. Until she does they are just going to keep having this conversation where Clarkes apologies are layered in what Lexa does not know.

But she’s afraid. She fears what this will do to Lexa, to them.

Lexa tilts her head, seeing this could go in circles for hours, each of them feeling to have wronged the other in some way, in many ways. Lexa decides to come at this differently. Needs Clarke to know her side of things, where she stands and what she’s realized. Her mind starts wheeling into directives and how to get Clarke deeper into the conversation they need to have.

“You said you needed to get away,” Lexa goes back to the topic before they bid raven and Octavia to leave.

Clarke swallows and bites her lips, “Yes, I know you think it was from you, but Lex, I swear - it was not from you.” Not exactly.

Lexa nods and comes a bit closer, “Then what? Talk to me.”

It shouldn’t be this hard.

“I…” Clarke gathers her thoughts, “I was overwhelmed. I’ve let things build up, piled on more and more and buried everything else…” she shakes her head sadly. That doesn’t even begin to cover half of it.

Lexa comes around the couch and sits on the coffee table across from Clarke. She’s careful in her movement as not to encroach Clarke’s space, clearly unsure of the emotions swarming in the room. She places her hands on her lap and fiddles with the band on her wrist as nerves work her over. She watches Clarke to see if she will speak but the blonde’s eyes glaze over in thought, her brow creases. Lexa fears she is shutting down, she has to keep her talking. She wonders if Clarke is angry with herself more than anyone else, especially since she refuses to let Lexa apologize for what she feels she should. Lexa thinks over her next tactic, her jaw moving around slightly. She thinks about her own anger, her resentment towards Clarke, how she had blamed her for things Lexa let happen all too easily. She thinks about how wrong she had been. How sorry she is now.

"The night Finn passed, the night you earned that scar below your breasts from Indra’s spear,” Lexa asks, “do you remember when I walked into the tent and saw you wiping away your tears?"

Clarke scoffs, surprised by the topic, "like I could forget..."

Lexa reaches up with her hand to raise Clarke’s chin before lowering it again, her face is full of serious undertones, "I wanted to comfort you even then."

"You told me his death would haunt me until the end of my days." Clarke bluntly points out, eyebrows ticking upwards. Coming back to the direction conversation Lexa is pushing, confused as to its relevance.

Lexa fights a small smirk, "I had an appearance to uphold."

A roll of her eyes is Clarke’s response to that; she knows the ‘appearance’ well, stoic and cold, indifferent. Impenetrable. Except for the eyes.

"You were saying," Clarke pushes Lexa to continue cautiously.

Lexa sighs, "You had killed a love for the good of your people, and you sacrificed a part of yourself for him as well as them. I recognized it, know the strength it took to do so, saw your kindred spirit. After, I even somewhat envied your ability to break down and find resolve moments later; it seemed to seamless, something I haven’t even perfected after years of training. I felt for your pain that night like I had been doing it all my life..." Lexa smiles in a slightly innocent way before continuing,  "I had known you less than 24 hours..."

Clarke swallows, bracing what's coming. She sees the twitch in Lexa’s jaw as her smile vanishes a moment later and she finds her following words.

"You've known me for months, Clarke. You married me, pledged your life for me, let me do the same... vowed," Lexa swallows, fighting tears and the hurt she's letting herself feel, part of the hurt she had felt when she realized Clarke had let her fall into her grief. "After all we've been through, all we have experienced together, how could you have left me that night?"

Clarke blinks, stunned by the turn. She knows what night she means. The night that started all of her current sorrows.

"We've been over this Lexa," Clarke sighs rubbing her temple. She doesn’t want to go there, pleasenot there. Not right now. She needs more time. Selfish.

She’s so afraid to lose her.

There's a tense silence that follows, a small standoff. 

"If we had been over it Clarke, it wouldn't be an issue right now," Lexa comments a little too calmly, like she knew Clarke would avoid this. She can read her so well. Clarke works double time to hide some of what she’s feeling, Lexa can’t feel this guilt swarming inside her, she feels like she’s about to drown.

"I did what I thought was best,” Clarke whispers, “I had to get Kai back from her and I didn't think...I didn't know if you would be able to think rationally if I told you, let alone had you actually come with me."

"Well you certainly didn't give either one of us a chance to find out." Lexa winces as she says it, some residual anger and frustration squeaking out.

Clarkes mouth snaps shut at Lexa’s verbal slap. She swallows and licks her lips, breathing laboured and tears burning in her eyes. Lexa speaks again before Clarke has a chance to really do more. "You wondered why I bring up Finn and your ability to bounce back before, perhaps I had that too thinly veiled; I meant that I allowed you that chance, you did something that night so brash and dangerous, something that could have gone horribly wrong - would have - had I not given you the second chance in the hut. You could have tried to use that knife a second time, for its original intended purpose, and you didn’t. Despite how tormented you had been feeling. And when I requested him to burn with the ones he murdered, your mother fought, Kane fought, but you, you swallowed your pain and guilt and elevated above it. You accepted the request where you had a right to fight based on your people's traditions, you gave what we felt we were owed."

Clarke stares at her wife as if with fresh eyes, "a test," tests among tests, she murmurs. Lexa watches a realization dawns on her, "I never gave you the chance..." she repeats Lexa’s sentiment, "Lex..." she swallows and allows her gaze to reach her wife's, she pauses a moment as tears brim and she sinks in this feeling she deserves, regret. "I'm sorry." Her voice cracks and Clarke owns it, lets it expose her raw. This sorry has nothing to do with the deal she made with Ontari, this one felt so deeply, is only meant for how her kid-glove treatment with Lexa began before she even left. She can’t layer it, Lexa deserves better.

Lexa’s right, she never gave her a chance. She made the decision for her, for them all. Ignored Octavia’s voice of reason and clung to Raven’s insight that she may have been right that night. Clarke blinks as she mentally scolds herself. She trusted Raven’s judgement over Lexa’s that night.

Basically, what it comes down to is that she just. Didn't. Trust her. Clarke blinks as realization lands heavily on her; that night, she didn't trust Lexa.

It was hidden beneath circumstance and heavy emotions of the night, and she didn't see it for what it truly meant. With fresh eyes that have been peeled back by her wife's words, Clarke sees it clearly; she didn't trust her wife that night, her wifesoulmate, even her Heda of the coalition and leader of mankind, a woman who has overcome countless tragedies to make the right decision in the interests of the many...

 “Branwada,” Fool, Clarke says to herself and shakes her head. 

Yep, Clarke concludes, she's an idiot sometimes. She should have known better, believed harder, thought beyond the pain she too had felt that night and trusted her wife to elevate herself as she had.

She could smack herself right now, wants to smash her own face into her fist for then going even further beyond that and letting Lexa fall within herself. Clarke gave her too much space, too much kid-glove treatment when she should have done more, expected more as she would of herself, like Lexa had the night Finn died. It wasn’t fair what she did to either one of them for various reasons. She sees it now. Just one of the many decisions she made on her own and without her wife’s input when they very clearly involved them both.

And now look where they are.

"I get what you're saying. I truly am sorry Lexa. I… There’s no excuse. I thought you needed the space, the time…”

Lexa’s face softens at her wife’s honest apology; she can feel the remorse within her. She scoots closer, their knees touching, “Clarke, you misunderstand where I am going with this. Although I am angry that you chose that route that night, I am thankful that you gave me an opportunity to follow my grief through. I need you to know I will never forget that moment you didn’t put your trust in me, but also that I forgive you for it, and you are not to blame for me wallowing though you are a catalyst, I needed that. As much as I hated to admit it, as much as it hurt to do so, I needed it. I had never properly had a chance to follow a healthy way through the pain of loss. Though it hurt, though it has caused tensions between us, I did need it.”

“I let it go too far,” Clarke says, she wants Lexa to be angry with her, but maybe for the wrong reasons now. Maybe, she wants her anger because of what Lexa still doesn’t know what she’s mortified to tell her. The truth is bubbling on her tongue and she works with effort to stifle it. 

“It went as far as it needed to,” Lexa reaches across and holds Clarke’s hands in her lap, fingertips brushing her wedding cuff.

Clarke can’t help but scoff at Lexa’s ignorance; her innocence while Clarke basks in her treachery. The tenderness of her touch burns her guilty skin. Lexa’s too kind, too understanding; forgiving her for one thing when she should be hating her for another. “Please, stop.”

“Clarke?” Lexa tilts her head confused. “It’s okay.” There’s more she wants to say. More she needs to say. They’re finally speaking, finding their way back through the darkness.

“Just, stop Lexa.” Clarke shudders, “beja.”

Lexa’s chin raises, Clarke shrinks in her gaze, wasn’t she thinking earlier that she was glad Lexa was going to put up a fight? She regrets that now. Lexa isn’t going to let this go and Clarke can feel tongue loosening under her gaze and the guilt. She bites her lip to keep her mouth shut.

“No,” Lexa tells her, “we have been avoiding this conversation long enough. You need to hear that I am not angry for allowing me space and I need to know you are not angry with me for taking it.”

“I’m not,” Clarke says forcefully, “I’m not angry at you at all.” It’s true.

Lexa sighs and refuses to let Clarke’s hands go. She lets the silence hang between them for a few moments, listening to Clarke’s laboured breaths. Lexa tries to think about how to get Clarke speaking again, to get her to realize she’s safe with Lexa. Can be vulnerable without disappearing to the wilds, has to know that it’s okay for her to grieve. Lexa needs her to see that this is unhealthy, if Clarke puts it off like Lexa had for years, she too will break again much like tonight, and fall into herself. Clarke could fall so deep she could be lost forever. Lexa swallows as she thinks of how Clarke thought she had seen Costia earlier, she wonders if it’s already started. It is not uncommon for battlesickness to occur weeks, even months later after an incident, it is even less uncommon for it not to present in severe stress.

Lexa clears her throat deciding on a route to take with Clarke.

“How many days, Clarke?”

“How many days what?” Clarke murmurs still lost in her thoughts, her gaze on her hands clasped in Lexa’s.

“How many days did it take for you to fall in love with Finn?”

Clarke frowns, “ What? I don’t know, a couple? It was nothing like I now know love to be though,” she says quietly.

Lexa nods, smiling a little because she knows. “And how many days did it take you to love your people enough to kill for them?”

Clarke furrows her brow, glancing up at Lexa, “Not many.” She says it cautiously.

“And how many days did it take for you to fall in love with me,” Lexa asks quietly.

Clarke smirks, “Not as may as it should have.” It was pretty much introduced at first terrifying sight, and then it was falling every since she first heard her name grace her lips.

Lexa rolls her eyes and brushes her thumb over the back of Clarke’s hand lovingly. “Fine, how many days in the wilderness did you spend all alone where that love only grew though we both know you tried to handicap it?”

“I…” Clarke shakes her head, damn her. “Lexa you know it started the first time we met. It was inevitable. Falling in love with you was inevitable.” It started with her name.

Lexa smiles softly, bringing Clarke’s hand up to kiss her palm. She pauses a moment, watching Clarke carefully as she is about to ask her next question and get to her point. She lowers their hands, “How many days did you spend knowing the kids?”

Clarke feels a pang in her heart. “Not as many as you. I don’t know; I didn’t exactly keep track. What does this have to do with anything?”

“It has everything to do with it, Clarke. If these feelings, as intense as they can be, can be forged in mere days and simple moments, then how can you say either of our loss in the massacre is greater than the other? I may have had more time with them, known them longer, but we loved them the same.”

Clarke licks her lips and swallows at the emotions choking her, “Lex, what is the point of this.” She doesn’t want to think about that day, doesn’t want to focus on this feeling. “Stop.”

“No. You need to hear this. You have not grieved for them. You need to grieve for them Clarke, beyond laying cuts on the guilty and continuing on with duty, beyond a few small cries here and hidden tears there,” Lexa says softly. “You let me and now you must let yourself. We loved them the same,” she repeats in a whisper.

She’s right. Clarke hasn’t really processed what losing the kids meant to her. She was too focused on what it meant to Lexa. She thought about how it affected her and not how it impacted Clarke much the same. Fool.

“You should be angry with me for not allowing you that time, for being selfish and taking what you gave me. I know you may not want to hear it but I am sorry for leaving you alone.” Lexa whispers through a small sob.

Clarke sighs and shakes her head. No this is wrong. Lexa is here being as close to perfection as you could get, tender and loving where Clarke doesn’t deserve it. Not yet.

She’s so afraid. She doesn’t want to lose her.

Clarke adjust her grip in Lexa’s hands, holding her more than she was. Keeping her in place perhaps.

“I’m not the one that should be angry,” Clarke whispers, eyes lifting to meet Lexa’s; heaviness meeting confusion.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, you should be angry with me.”

“No, I shouldn’t, we’ve been over this,” Lexa shakes her head, still confused how they keep ending up back here.

“Yes! You should!” Clarke manages to huff out as loud as she can. She feels the couch dip as Lexa moves to sit down beside her. Her grip in Clarke’s own tightens.

“Clarke, talk to me. Why should I be angry?”

Clarke’s lip trembles, her eyes water, “Because… because you should.” She chokes back the main reason, choosing cowardice first. “I handled everything all wrong! I treated you with kid-gloves, I was insolent earlier tonight, I was so rude to you guysI brought you pain, and I…” she stops herself.

Damn it, Clarke. Just tell her. It’s not even Claire that growls that out - it’s Wanheda. Clarke thinks about Ontari’s warning from earlier that night.

“And you?” Lexa gently squeezes her hand, prodding gently. Trying hard not to let Clarke shut down.

The sympathy in her voice, the concern in her eyes, the slight of wariness she sees behind Lexa’s calm face has Clarke glancing away and taking a breath. “And I…” she wants to tell her, she wants to loose this monster horde of guilt inside her, she wants the pain the distrustful and hurt look Lexa will give her will cause. 

She’s so afraid and it’s not a fear Wanheda can consume.

“Tell me why I should be angry with you Clarke, because right now, I see no reason. You are allowed to feel however you do, your feelings are your own and don’t need to be validated by me or anyone else. Yes, I was angry and a little shocked with your behaviour at dinner, but I’d like to think I understand you well enough to know that you’ve already done enough yelling at yourself and don’t need me to add on. As for the others and me, I think it goes without saying that we know your actions weren’t really because of any animosity directed at us.”

Clarke’s brow furrows as she looks at Lexa’s understanding gaze, it only makes her feel worse because that really is not the deep seeded issue. Dinner is an easy thing to apologize for and this is not. Lexa has no idea what her real problem is right now and it’s all her fault. Here she is, hiding something that could literally break them in two, divide them like never before, something she also figures is good cause for grounds to call for her death, and Lexa’s sitting beside her trying to make her feel better about it and everything else.

She hates, hates, HATES, that she’s so fucked up right now that Lexa’s presence, so gentle and kind when she deserves anger and rage, is making her uncomfortable. 

There’s a first time for everything.

And this first time, is entirely too much for her to handle. Her heart cracks and her pulse races, her head aches. SHe hates that she doesn’t deserve this. Hates that Lexa deserves so much more from her.

Clarke’s eyes dart around the room, her hands tingle, her body feels like it’s about to combust and she’s half certain the walls are actually closing in on her. She squirms her way out of Lexa’s grasp, hissing in pain as she rises and moves towards the open balcony doors, the fur falls to the ground. Clarke’s body trembles and shakes, her painful sobs begin and tears fall heavy on her cheeks.

The wind kicks at her face, so strong it gently rocks her and Clarke clenches her eyes shut at the motion. Her mind tries to claw at the memory, the soothing voice, the stranger’s calming mantra, and the waves. “I give myself,” she breathes out quietly; “to the miracle of the see,” she murmurs low.

She repeats the words, so quietly she thinks they’re only in her head. She feels the weight of a fur grace her shoulders with the gentle touch of her wife and Clarke repeats it again. She doesn’t look at her, but she feels her silent presence at her side. She’s ready to catch her should she fall.

I give myself to the miracle of the sea.” She hears a gasp that causes her to look at Lexa.

“Wh- What did you just say?”

“I give myself to the miracle of the sea?” Clarke says quietly.

Lexa shakes her head, looking wild eyed and bewildered. “Where did you learn that? From Luna?”

Clarke wipes at her cheek, and sniffs, confused as to what the big deal is. “No. The stranger.”

Lexa’s mouth parts and she takes a step back. Clarke feels hurt by the motion, but doesn’t move. “Lex? Are you okay?”

“Fine,” she says tight-lipped, Clarke knows it’s not true. She doesn’t understand.

“What is it?” 

“Nothing. It’s fine, I just haven’t heard that in a very long time.” Her jaw juts around and she looks pained. Clarke notes the reaction and will ask Luna about it later, she's known her the longest. Her gaze finally lands on Clarke again, something shifting in her face as it does so, “I am glad you find something to comfort you.”

Clarke feels whiplash. One moment, Lexa was as calm as easy breaths and now she is rigid, and don’t even think Clarke missed the coldness of her second comment. She wonders why the words upset Lexa so much, why she feels defensive enough to lash out a second after she looked wounded.

“Something to comfort me?” Clarke murmurs, “What? Lexa, wait, what’s…” she falls quiet as she strangers voice plays in her head, then the woman’s face and then another’s… she winces… round cheeks, full lips…

“I have to go, are you well enough to make it to the bed or would you like some assistance?”

Clarke reels, “What?” she sputters, “You’re leaving? Where do you have to go?”

“I have to send a message to the twins to stop their search for you, the falconer is waiting.” The answer is quick, it seems true, but Clarke can tell she’s looking for an escape. She needs a moment.

“Are you going to come back after?”

Lexa nods and places the briefest kiss on Clarke’s cheek before she’s brushing past her, “You shouldn’t wait up, I’ll probably wait for their response.”

Clarke’s mouth drops, “Lexa, wait. We aren’t done here.” Damn it, Clarke. Damn it! You had your chance and your blowing it. End this now!

“What is it you’d like to say, all you keep doing is falling into your head and running away,” Lexa shouts, unable to stop herself. “Just when I thought we were getting somewhere you bolted - again. A few feet, a few hundred feet – it doesn’t matter. You won’t explain anything, I know you’re hiding something Clarke and it hurts. I may have run behind my walls but you’re building them and tearing them down right in front of me. One second your remorseful and the next in pain, the next angry and the next moment-“

“I know! I know, okay?” Clarke cuts her off, “I’m sorry Lexa. Please, I just, …I don’t know what’s wrong with me tonight.” Yes she does, she totally does. Tell her, her heart screams. Lay it out now, you can’t take much more of this. Clarke is so afraid though, she is so desperate in this moment, so scared that Lexa wants to get away from her right now that it chokes her as she thinks about how she will act when Clarke reveals her truth.

“Who was the stranger?” Lexa questions, needing to get an answer to something.

“She’s a spiritwielder, a wadastryda at one point, but Luna knows of none that should be where I was.”

Lexa’s eyes widen, “Is she why you are acting so strange? Did something happen beyond what you think you saw?”

Clarke shakes her head unsure of how to answer.

Lexa huffs out a breath in her silence and her fists clench and she moves to come closer, “Then talk to me, what is really going on? This is driving me crazy, I know I have been absent but I am here now! Please, let me help you.” Her hands reach for Clarke’s.

Clarke’s chest tightens as she hears Lexa beg for her to lean on her. Clarke was scared for the last couple weeks to do so, she had protected Lexa as long as she could, and now she feels like she needs that protection. The weight of everything is coming to a tipping point; she can no longer keep her head above sea level.

Clarke glances at her, she swallows, “You’re right. You’re right,” she says quietly. “I need to tell you something.”

“Yes, that much is clear,” Lexa says pointedly. Clarke scowls, Lexa’s face softens, “I should probably tell you some things as well,” she offers as a peace flag.

“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours, “ Clarke sniffles and Lexa steps closer to wipe her other cheek.

“Deal. I’m here for you Clarke, I know I haven’t been, I have been failing at that. I’ve been soaking in your support but offering little of my own. It’s time to return the favour.” Lexa tilts her head to the couch and Clarke lets her guide her back over. Sitting down again is painful but Lexa’s as gentle as possible in her aid.

Clarke swallows, and wrings her hands nervously, “I think you should go first.” Coward, she thinks to herself, you only want her to go first because you fear her taking her warmth away from you when you drop the bomb. It’s true, she wants to soak it in for what it’s worth, though it may feel tainted, she can’t bear for Lexa to pull away just yet.

(Ever, truthfully.)

Lexa observes her for a second and then nods, “Okay.” She takes a breath, “While I was…taking a break, let’s call it,” she smirks as she keeps from saying what was really happening, just like Clarke had about crying at the beach. “You know I was processing my grief, of course, but I was also working with Raven to make some sort of contribution to keeping our people, our family, safe. The ‘late night joy-rides’ you called them were purposeful but not enough. There’s only so much we could do in the span of one night…”

Clarke doesn’t like where this is heading. She keeps her mouth shut though. She has no fucking high ground here.

“Since we have begun this, I have been using my light to travel more whenever free time arrived.”

“Of course you have,” Clarke can’t help but mutter, frustrated that Lexa was also disappearing without anyone knowing. “Jesus, Lexa, that is beyond dangerous and stupid.” Really, Clarke? Lexa’s the stupid one here? Really?

“I was perfectly safe,” Lexa defends. 

“What did these field trips yield then? Besides, space from us.” From me. 

Really, Clarke? I will repeat, you have no high ground here, knock it off. Lexa is heda, she has every right to make decisions, just as you will -and do- justify your own, isn’t that right, Wanheda? Great, now she’s mocking herself.

Lexa narrows her eyes at Clarke’s snide remark, but lets it go. Clarke feels guilty that Lexa’s reaction makes her think she thinks she deserves it. “Well, they allowed me to view terrain and visualize landmarks for further trips.”

Clarke perks up at this, she looks at her shrewdly, “Further trips? Further trips for what exactly?”

Lexa swallows and glances away, “To scout with new technology and hopefully make headway in a few different regards.”

“New technology…” Clarke repeats, “So Raven’s in on this.” Not a question. She feels herself boil a little again, jealous and slighted by Raven and Lexa’s secrecy. It’s stupid, she knows, especially when Raven is keeping a much larger secret from Lexa for Clarke. “Headway in what regards?” She tries to put on the appearance of calm, cool, and not uncollected.

Lexa rubs the back of her neck, “With the undead, bunkers, the disappearances and…” she glances from Clarke again, “looking for the spirit wielders.”

If Clarke could stand right now without causing excruciating pain, she would. “What?” Alarms are going off in her head. No. No, that cannot be happening for a multitude of reasons, the most notable right now – that’s where Ontari was planning on heading soon.

“You heard me correctly,” Lexa is now watching her intently, rebounding from her previous fear of telling Clarke. Being brave.

“No.” Clarke refuses. “No, you can’t. We said we wouldn’t involve them.”

“Clarke-“

“No, Lexa! Your people cast them out for centuries, the wielders and the mutated, in fear and a foolish notion of what weakness is. They left for a reason, are in hiding, for a reason!” She throws her hands up in the air.

“I know, which is not the case any longer. We have changed things, the people seeing us carry the gifts has helped changed their minds,” Lexa calmly defends.

Clarke shakes her head; she laughs painfully, “You’re foolish if you think they’ll just forget years of banishment.” Ontari’s foolish as well, but she has no influence on her decision there. With Lexa, she feels she should.

Hypocrite. Entitled, spoiled, hypocrite.

“It wasn’t forced.”

“The hell it wasn’t.” Clarke scoffs as Lexa looks guilty. Clarke’s not wavering from her original stance on the matter. She’s not going to lie, it helps that trying to squash this idea means Ontari and Lexa may not cross paths. “You know better than that, once the fear spread like a cancer there was no place safe for them. It may not have been decreed, ‘enforced’, hell, you may not have even played any part in it considering it began before your reign, but by letting it continue, by turning a blind eye, doing nothing about it until now - when we may need them - you are just as responsible.”

“We are the same,” Lexa says a little quieter than before. The truth of Clarke’s words ringing true, she had always agreed with her opinion, held it as her own too, but felt she had no choice. It’s a terrible choice, worse circumstances that led it to come to having to do something about it now, this way, but it’s one she feels though wrong – would be right in the long run. This could help save them all.

“Are you only saying that now because you have recognized and received your gift spirit wielder,” Clarke digs, still upset that this is what she has been up to.

“No,” Lexa barks out as she stands, hurt by Clarke’s jab, knowing Clarke knows it’s not the reason. “I am saying it now, trying to do something about it now because I actually can. I could have found them before my gift was actualized, I could have made more effort but I chose to let them live without anyone’s influence, the way they decided was best for them. They do not need to be under my rule, part of my coalition, when they had no home within it, I understood that then. I could not just walk into their territory as heda, wherever they are, and declare it safe to return to the homes they were born to; many of them lived through four previous commanders, those who had feared their gifts as they could threaten their rule - I would be killed on sight, they have no reason to be friendly or trusting; their experiences would tell them that will only get them killed.”

Clarke furrows her brow in thought and Lexa’s reasoning. She has to admit, Lexa does know more about the situation than her, but she can’t help her bleeding heart for wanting to defend those treated unjustly. It never occurred to her that the Commanders before Lexa maybe hadn’t decreed their expulsion but hadn’t exactly discouraged it either.  She sighs, as she connects the dots and sees how Lexa would approach it now, just as she would if it were her.

“But you can go there now, you have the gift to help keep you safe and a bargaining point that if the people can accept you as you are, they can accept them,” Clarke surmises, her fire quieted. Her worry of Lexa insisting on going, of running upon Ontari, and countless other pitfalls only grows.

“Sha, but that’s not just it,” Lexa says, her voice taking on a wistful tone, “in my coalition, in my territory or not, they are of us and of this world. They will not be kept safe if this sickness progresses, if we can’t contain it they will be just as at risk. Like it or not, this effects everyone. I know and agree the clans fighting is not their concern, but the disease is.” Lexa falls quiet and watches Clarke mull it over.

“I’ll go,” Clarke finally says. “I’ll go instead.”

Lexa fights not to roll her eyes, because of course, wounds and all, Clarke would volunteer instead. “No. I do not think this is something even Wanheda will be able to do. If they are going to help us, if they are going to trust that this is true, it must be heda. I have to do this.” Lexa says passionately, hands balling at her side.

“I get it Lexa, okay. I do, I see what you’re saying, but please, don't do this." Clarke’s not beneath begging. This is dangerous, increasingly so with the potential of Ontari’s presence. She knows the stranger is a leader of the wielders and she was shown kindness to Clarke tonight - but she was not on their territory - and not a heda requesting aid.

Lexa’s chin raises in Clarke’s gaze. Hardening slightly so she can refuse her. Clarke knows what’s coming. "I have to do this and you have to accept it."

Clarke swallows back emotion; she shakes her head against the tears, this is dangerous and wrong, it feels wrong. The bad feeling that began when Lexa had started divulging her secrets is only getting worse. "No. I won't.”

“Clarke,” Lexa sighs.

 Clarke spits out a callous laugh, desperate for anything to keep Lexa from making this decision, from moving forward. "So you were saying before that you were going to be there for me. But you're leaving."

Yep. That was unfair. Lexa’s only being as honest as Clarke requested, trying to lay any omitted truth bare for them both to move forward; and yet, the blonde snaps like a bow string. She’s grasping at straws. Something in her guts is telling her this is wrong, Lexa can’t do this, it feels off. She has a sinking feeling and she still can’t swim, literally and metaphorically.

“I think this is a route we have to take, I know you don’t like it – I’m not particularly enthused about it but-”

"Wait, I thought we put a pin in this plan long ago. We talked about this Lexa!” Clarke hopes she doesn’t sound as hysterical as she thinks. No, no, no. This cannot be happening. She wonders if Ontari’s warning had a little to do with this as well. It runs a chill through her spine. “We decided not to do this!”

"You did. I did not,” Lexa calmly responds. Too calm for Clarke’s liking when she’s falling apart.

"Lexa, you can't be serious?"

"If you were not my wife I would still be going. I cannot send someone else because it would look like I am requesting their service rather than asking them to join me. They need to know they will be accepted - they need to see my gift and hear my truth."

"Send me. I'll go,” Clarke tries again, eyes pleading. If someone has to go dangerously into no mans land, let it be her, let Lexa be safe. Let her be far away from Ontari.

"Absolutely not." Lexa stares at her earnestly, “I will not send you in my stead for the reasons I have already said, not to mention your current state. Even if I could send you, I would not. You are too busy taking care of everyone; you need time to heal in more ways than one. You need to take a break. I meant what I said earlier, it is time to take care of yourself.”

“Taking care of you is taking care of myself!” Clarke fights back, wincing at the exertion. "You don't even know if they are actually in hiding. They could be dead!” she knows that’s not true. “When did you decide this?"

"Long ago."

"Jesus, Lexa."

"You are more than capable of taking care of things, in my absence," Lexa says calmly, as she steps a little closer.

Clarke blinks and looks away for a second, "Seriously?" She runs a hand through her hair, "you think that's what I'm worried about? It hadn’t even crossed my mind." Maybe it should have though. That is why she didn’t suggest they go together. Someone has to stay behind.

Lexa sighs, but Clarke continues, “And that’s only If they are in hiding,” she points out, “you don’t know that they haven’t disappeared like the others.” That’s kind of true, the disappearances could have reached the wielders, she has no way of knowing.

“It is a risk I am willing to take.”

“Well I’m not!”

“Clarke,” Lexa turns softer now, “Please.” Understand.

“No, I’m not okay with this. This is foolish. Raven is going to get you killed.” That’s another low blow, this isn’t Raven’s idea, and it is very clearly Lexa’s. If anything, she should be grateful the master of explosions is at least invited. She’s trying to push the jealous part of her down further, that’s so not the issue right now.

“You will not pass the blame off on anyone but me Clarke, for that is where it truly lies,” Lexa states a little sternly. Eyes a little colder. “Do not forget that I am heda. This is my responsibility, my choice, whether you like it or not. I am heda, and yes a spirit wielder, we are the same, but we were always the same. Now I can do something about it. I have to try.”

“No, it’s too dangerous. Foolish,” she repeats.

Lexa raised her chin defiantly, “You forget how stubborn I can be as well, niron.”

“Don’t you niron me right now, Lexa.” Clarke scolds. “Please, don’t do this,” it’s another quiet plea.

Lexa’s eyes soften but her face remains stoic, “I have sat by time and time again while you make these sort of decisions. I followed you to Arkadia from the burning villages when you chose to go back when Azgeda attacked from within. I waited while you sacrificed yourself for our people at the trial, not knowing if you would live or die, if I would see you again. I trusted you, I always trust you. I watched you fight to live; incapable of doing more than bleeding myself dry for you if that’s what it took.” She reaches out to cup Clarke’s cheek.

“Please,” Clarke tries again, “Don’t do this.” She’s sure she’s bleeding from Lexa’s mention of trusting her, that one cut her too deep.

Lexa cups her cheeks, leaning over her slightly, “I would do anything for you,” Lexa sighs and kisses her forehead, “but I cannot do that.” She pulls back to look into fearful blue eyes, “It is your turn to watch me give myself over to the mercy of the spirits and try to mend terrible wrongs, to try and bring us victory through sacrifice. I have to go and you have to let me.”

“You could die.”

“If that is my fate,” Lexa replies softly, “though I do not think that is my fate…”

Clarke’s breath hitches as she sees Lexa shrouded in flames just as she knows Lexa is referring to. She shuts her eyes tight willing it away. She hates that they both know what the image most likely means. Droplets of tears squeeze out from her eyelids. Lexa reaches to wipe them tenderly but Clarke shakes her head and looks away through the burn. She tries to calm down; feels Lexa rub the back of her neck though she doesn’t push the contact further. Clarke can’t shake the feeling that this is so wrong, she feels herself grasping at anything to get this to end in her favour. This can’t happen. This can’t happen and yet she can’t find a way to stop it.  

“When do you leave?”

“Not for a while,” Lexa says quietly, carefully. “Not until Raven is ready… not until I am sure you are alright.”

“What if I’m never alright,” Clarke asks slowly.

“Clarke,” Lexa sighs exasperatedly.

“Sorry,” Clarke says. Then she nods slowly, determinedly. “You’ll take the twins.” It’s not a question.

“I wasn’t going to.”

“You’ll. Take. The. Twins.”

“One twin.”

“Damn it Lexa, this is not a negotiation, you made that very clear. You will do this for me,” Clarke growls, gripping her side as her ribs twinge with the effort.

Another sigh, “Very well. Ryder will remain here in their stead.”

Clarke thinks about refusing but decides with the twins going, being able to fill them in on Ontari’s potential presence and what occurred tonight may help things should they cross paths. “Fine, but you take Octavia with you.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“She is your guard, you need her here.” She’s your best friend, you’ll need her should something happen.

“I’ll have Luna, Ziva too if I ask her.”

“Octavia stays,” Lexa says.

Clarke narrows her eyes, “Shaw then. We ask Shaw to join you.”

Lexa’s head tilts in deliberation. “That is quite agreeable.”

A huff. “Fine.”

“Clarke, I know you’re angry and you’re hurt with this decision-“

Clarke scoffs.

“-but I swear to you, I will delay as long as possible whether Raven is ready or not. I am here for you even though I have to do this. Please, lean on me.” Lexa fears her pulling away.

Probably as much as Clarke fears the same.

Clarke tries to, she tries to lean on her in the moment, she wants to reach out to her, but the second she does she feels herself pulling away again. “It’s hard to lean on someone who may or may not be there in a week,” she knows her words cut Lexa and she’s about to make it worse. She’s hurt and she feels like she’s losing control, the foreboding feeling is heavy with Lexa’s truth and she finds herself lashing out. She doesn’t like this decision, try as she might to help make it weigh in her favour, it’s not sitting right that Lexa made it. It’s not sitting right that she can do nothing about it. It’s not sitting right that there’s an increased chance of Lexa and Ontari crossing paths when her wife still harbours so much hatred to and is owed so much blood from, Ontari. She sees no other way around it, she’s backed into a corner. Emotionally she has been pushed to the limit and now circumstantial, she has to tell her what she did.

Clarke frowns with fear filling her, thinking about what this will do. Worried about what it will do to them both, to their idea of 'we', 'of us'. Lexa stares at her warily, no doubt picking up flickering glimpses of what she’s feeling though Clarke tries to hide the brunt of it, unwilling to do even more harm than she’s about to.

She swallows uneasily, breathe, Claire coaches Clarke who's on the verge of tears again. “On the topic of honesty, in the spirit of ‘you show me yours and I’ll show you mine’, you should know…” she pauses and looks at Lexa, she takes the deepest breath she can muster without causing too much discomfort, “I made the deal with Ontari.”

Chapter Text

Maybe next time I’ll remember my password.