Rubber squeaks on the slippery curb and Clarke needs to balance herself once out of the car. She fishes her old phone from her back pocket, hands damp from the storm. Raindrops slide down the screen and it turns black as soon as Clarke touches it, enticing a groan from the alpha. She chides herself for not remembering to charge it at the airport.
Clarke looks back at the uber driving away and hopes, prays for Raven to have gotten her message.
Cold wind and chilly rain dampen the happiness of the house, an unusual storm for the early summer. Clarke feels an anxious tug in her gut at the sight of the dark windows. Her steps are clumsy and loud as she approaches the front door, the residential neighborhood silent in the dead of the night. Her drenched jacket weights on her shoulders, her wet hair falls limply on her face; if this was a bad idea, it’s too late now. Her eyes fall upon the wooden door, hands clutching the strap of her backpack tighter as she takes a deep breath.
Clarke doesn’t want to ring the bell. Her watch blinks two in the morning, but the wind picks up on her damp clothes and her trembling fingers press the button before she can convince herself otherwise.
One quiet, slow minute passes before any movement is heard within the house. Clarke’s bright eyes well with tears, because fuck, maybe this was a bad idea.
She’s about to turn back when the door opens to reveal a sleepy Raven. The woman’s brown eyes wide in surprise, and maybe a little bit of relief. Or so Clarke wants to think.
“Holy shit,” Raven breathes, and with her words, the sky decides to strengthen the downpour that accompanied most of Clarke’s trip. “I thought the message was some bad, bad joke.”
“Hi Raven,” she says with a tight voice and cold lips.
“Come inside. You’re soaked.” Raven steps aside, and under the small light of the entrance hall, Clarke sees that her friend’s face is different. Older, more mature. Happier. She doesn’t want to think what Raven might be seeing in hers.
Clarke finds Raven’s eyes when the door closes behind them, and the smaller alpha offers the first hug Clarke has received in months. They don’t talk, though Clarke plans to do it in the morning. Raven is kind enough to ignore the tears in Clarke’s eyes when they meet hers again.
“I’ll prepare the guest room for you. Is that your only bag?”
Clarke nods, one arm adjusting the wet backpack.
“I’ll get some clothes, too,” Raven adds, a small smile on her face that relieves Clarke because it’s not from pity.
“Raven, thank you, I really—”
“Raven?” They both look up at the stairs, where the voice came from. “Who’s at the door?”
Clarke watches Anya on the mezzanine, and the smile starting to tug on her lips dies in a gasp of surprise.
The omega squints down at Clarke, and in the moment Anya recognizes the alpha, her stoic, beautiful features turn into a deep scowl, amber eyes on fire.
“What is she doing here?” Anya hisses, careful not to wake the precious bundle in her arms.
Raven offers an apologetic smile to Clarke before climbing up the stairs to speak with her wife. They exchange a quiet conversation that only aggravates Anya’s frown. She relaxes when the, until now quiet, baby in her arms wriggles in annoyance at the noise. Another whisper from Raven and Anya disappears into the dark hallway above.
Clarke doesn’t want to think why Anya might hate her. She is still processing the pup Anya carried, and the known yet new scent it had, a sweet combination of Raven’s warm alpha aura and Anya’s earthy omega tones.
“You have a pup?” Clarke asks in reverence when her friend meets her at the bottom of the stairs.
“Our little Liam.” There’s nothing but pride in Raven’s voice. “He’s almost two. You can meet him tomorrow.”
Clarke follows Raven silently to the guest room. That boy, happily curled around the protectiveness of his mother, is more proof of how long Clarke was gone and how much she missed.
“Raven.” She touches the tanned arm before Raven can go for the dry clothes she promised. “This is just for tonight.” Clarke sees the questioning look that turns into defensiveness right away and hurries to explain. “I mean, my bank account is frozen and all I had was the money in my wallet. Tomorrow I’ll check on that and …” She trails off, unsure on how to complete her sentence.
“Abby will be happy to see you.” Raven smiles at her. Clarke nods and thanks her friend.
Later that night, when Clarke lays down on a comfortable bed, fresh sheets wrapped around her, the name comes back to her mind, making the faded scar on her shoulder tingle in response. The whispered word weights on her tongue, making her mouth dry. It has been so long, and she allows herself the pleasure of having it click on the roof of her mouth, lips forming each sound.
She doesn’t have the right; Clarke doesn’t feel entitled to be whispering that name into the night, though it has accompanied her for the past years like a warm shadow. Clarke ran away to deal with her inner demons, but she could never forgive herself for what she left behind.
It rolls off her tongue one last time before empty oblivion embraces her.
Clarke wakes up to the smell of bacon and eggs. The warmth in her bed is strange and she panics for a moment. The sight of a high ceiling and white walls calms her, helps her remember where she is.
When she walks into the kitchen, wearing one of Raven’s shirts and a faded pair of jeans, her heart pumps with the possibilities she threw away.
Raven is in the middle of an argument with Liam, who apparently doesn’t want to drink the juice his sire offers in a yellow sippy cup. Anya has her back to them, filing a plate with eggs.
“Clarke!” Raven acknowledges, giving up on the sippy cup — which Liam promptly throws on the floor with a loud huff.
Clarke smirks at Raven’s grunt when the juice spills on her shoes. “Good morning.” Clarke laughs at Raven’s poor attempt at drying her shoes with a cloth.
Anya scolds Raven with a groan and nods at Clarke from the stove.
“What are your plans today?” Raven asks, but for the moment Clarke is entranced by curious brown eyes looking up at her. Eyes like Anya’s, but the soft edges of the pup’s face reminds everyone who sired him. From the high chair, Liam is fixed on Clarke’s figure, his light auburn hair shining in the morning sun. Raven picks him up and steps closer to Clarke.
“Liam, this is Clarke.” The pup keeps staring at Clarke before glancing back at Raven. “She’s mom’s friend.”
The quiet boy wiggles in Raven’s arms to feel Clarke’s scent. He scrunches his little nose at the strong, unfamiliar alpha scent, and both Clarke and Raven laugh.
Anya watches the exchange in silence from the other side of the room.
Not discouraged, Liam tries once more and sniffs close to Clarke again, who leans in to allow the pup exploration. His dark eyes shine with recognition, and his arms shout in excitement as he looks at his sire.
“‘Erah!” he screams, “‘Erah!”
Anya is there in a second, sweeping the boy from Raven’s arms. They share a serious look Clarke doesn’t understand.
“What does that mean?” Clarke asks when Anya leaves the room with Liam.
Raven waves it off, guiding her to the table. “He’s a pup, he babbles stuff all the time. Do you want a ride today?”
Clarke makes note of the change of topic, but doesn’t push it, instead serving herself a plate with eggs and bacon. “That would be great. I need to go to the bank and the hospital.”
“Sure. You can catch Abby there.”
Clarke nods, mouth full of scrambled eggs.
Throughout the ride to downtown, Clarke can’t stop thinking about the happiness in little Liam’s face when he recognized something in Clarke’s scent. It’s her instincts playing with her and she should let it go, but for some reason, it doesn’t leave her mind until she enters The Ark Hospital.
A chill welcomes her with the sterilized scent. She watches heads turning her way as she walks in the direction of the administration wing. Clarke doesn’t stop to satisfy the curious glances, hoping she will have time later.
Clarke has many memories in this hospital, including the worst of her life. She pushes the thought away when she reaches Abigail Griffin’s office, noticing the door slightly ajar.
She tells herself she’ll rewrite bad memories with good ones. That was the point of coming back.
It doesn’t stop the tears that fills her eyes at the sight of her mother, older than she remembers, as familiar brown eyes find hers.
“I … I’ll call you back.” Abby ends her phone call. The device has barely hit the receiver before she hurries to catch her daughter in a tight embrace.
At that moment Clarke’s tears are happy ones.
The drive to Abby’s is as long as she remembers. After leaving downtown and getting to the highway, the buildings lining the skyline change to soft green leaves and tall trees. Abby still lives in the same house Clarke grew up in, and it’s something familiar to cherish after a long time away.
The familiarity ends the moment she passes through the door. The house is different, more alive, even a little messy. There are plants, the fruit bowl is full. The wooden floor is new and the walls are different colors. Toys fill the living room, scattered around.
“Do Anya and Raven come here often? With Liam?” Clarke asks as her mother guides her to the guest room. She doesn’t ask what happened with her old room.
“Sure,” Abby replies. “I work part-time these days. I babysit those rascals all the time.”
“Mother …” Clarke leaves her small backpack on the bed and turns to face her mother.
“Take a shower, change your clothes,” Abby interrupts her. “We’ll talk over dinner.”
Clarke bites her lip, but lowers her head in submission. There’s much she wants to ask her mother, but there’s even more Abby needs to ask her.
Dinner is simple, but Clarke finds herself eating with renewed hunger.
They wait until dessert to talk, and Abby is the first to break the silence.
“Why didn’t you call?”
Clarke stops with her fork mid air. She lowers her hand and clears her throat.
“I needed time. Time alone to think and to put everything back into place in my head.” It sounds like a ridiculous excuse, but it’s as close to the truth as Clarke can get.
“Five years, Clarke. You left to spend three months with the Red Cross and disappeared for years.”
Clarke finches at the harsh tone her sire uses, but she deserves it.
“I couldn’t come back … not like I was.” She can’t meet Abby’s eyes.
“You were depressed, we get it.”
Clarke notices the plural pronoun, keenly. “But running away like that? It hurts people, Clarke.”
“I’d have hurt you more if I had stayed,” she defends.
“We’ll never know that now, will we? After the process was settled, two years ago, we thought you would be back. The hospital was ready for you. But again, nothing.” The anger is gone from Abby’s voice, and a deep concern replaces it. “How are you now?”
“What was the last thing I told you before … before I disappeared?” Clarke finds the courage to meet her mother’s eyes. Abby holds her stare and answers evenly,
“That you’d come back when you were ready.” She takes a deep breath, not breaking their eye contact. “Are you?”
“Every day, every … every hour away from here,” Clarke says with a voice laced with tears. “I was trying to get better to be back. It took longer than I expected but … I’m better, Mom.”
The first smile of the evening paints Abby’s lips. “Good to know.”
They finish dinner with small talk. There’s a question gnawing at Clarke, but she’s ashamed to voice it. It tickles her lips, toys with her tongue, but the words don’t come out. When she gathers the courage to ask, dishes clean and her mother’s back to her as she heads to bed, her voice is weak and trembles at the first word. “Mother?”
Abby stops and turns to look at her.
“How …” Her voice betrays her like an adolescent pup and Clarke has to try again. “How is she?”
It hurts people, Clarke , Abby’s voice replays in her mind. “She’s healthy, that’s all I can say. The rest you’ll need to figure out by yourself.”
It’s final; Abby won’t tell anything else, even though she knows. Emotional pain bonds people; Abby and Lexa were the ones that most loved Clarke, which means they were the ones Clarke hurt the most.
“Can you at least give me her number? I know she doesn’t live at our old place anymore.” Clarke had tried a letter earlier that year, discovering Lexa had moved from their apartment.
Abby stops halfway up the stairs. “There’s an appointment book near the phone.”
“She knows I’m back, right?” Clarke asks, and there must be some intensity to her gaze because Abby smiles at her. Clarke had a feeling she would have to move earth and sky to try and reach Lexa.
“Anya told her,” Abby replies, turning once more.
“Did you talk to her since then?” Clarke is pushing, but she hopes her mother gives any clue as to Lexa’s reaction to her return.
“Give her time, Clarke.”
That night, when the name fights its way out her mouth, burning the old scar on her skin, Clarke realizes that’s the only way she can find the peace to sleep.
She fought her inner demons, but in the battle she lost what grounded her to happiness.
Clarke is able to wait for a week until she can’t handle it anymore and calls Lexa. Abby growls low when she catches Clarke next to the phone that night, and Clarke growls right back. It lacks aggression, and Abby sees it as it is: a veiled ask for support.
Clarke watches her mother leave the hall, a frown still in place. She’s giving her space, and the younger alpha is thankful for that.
The line beeps until it goes to voicemail. Clarke tries again, with the same result. She’s about to dial the apartment’s number for the third time when she hears Abby’s cell phone ring tone from the hall. Clarke slowly steps towards the living room, her heart accelerating; it might be Lexa.
Abby answers the phone with a low voice, and Clarke has to edge closer to the living room entrance to hear her.
“... I know, dear, I know. I’ll tell her.”
Clarke hears her sire’s loving tone, and it confirms that her mother and Lexa grew closer the years she was away. People bond through pain.
She steps back to the hallway when Abby turns off the phone. She doesn’t try to call again, waiting for the reprimand. Abby walks to her side, one hand on her shoulder.
“Clarke. That was—”
“Lexa. I know,” Clarke finishes for her. “She doesn’t want to talk to me. I get it.”
“Give her time, okay? She’ll eventually come around,” Abby insists. “Are you working tomorrow morning?”
Clarke shakes her head. Her working hours were building up; beginning to resemble her normal hours, but she still has a free morning in the week.
“We could watch a movie together?” Abby’s voice is hopeful, and it brings a smile to Clarke’s face.
“I’ll take a shower and meet you upstairs.”
The ensuite bathroom of the guest room is slowly growing on Clarke. It helps the feeling of coming home become true. Part of her knows she won’t live with her mother forever, but for now it’s the comfort she needs.
She tries to keep her thoughts away from green eyes; she hopes they will vanish from her mind, but after five years she should know better. Warm water falls on her golden locks, running down her tired back and massaging her shoulders. She wanders off to her secret place where Lexa doesn’t hate her; where Lexa wants her back and learns to forgive and love her again.
Pearly teeth close over her lip as images form unabashedly in her fantasy. Lexa’s plump lips find hers, mouth wet and hungry. Slender bv arms wrap around her waist, pulling her closer, pulling her in, and Clarke’s right hand closes around her erection. She pumps with the same pace Lexa welcomes her in silky warmth in her mind, where a sly smile turns into moans in a steamy room.
Her other hand finds a perked nipple, and Clarke pumps faster. She swells angrily in her hand, wanting, growing, thick need between her legs. She should — but refuses — to be ashamed that Lexa is still the only woman, the only omega that calls to her, that awakens and moves her alpha. Clarke's time away didn’t involve any romance, and whenever it became too much for her body, it’s Lexa’s smile, Lexa’s touch and Lexa’s body that aroused the alpha. Memories of Lexa are all she has.
She moves her hand from her breast to brace it against the tiled wall, helping her maintain balance because of the strength of her grip. Quiet, suppressed moans and her name escapes her throat, opening her lips in the foggy stall. The scar on her shoulder burns down to her spine and back to the memory of blunt teeth biting on pale skin.
At the end, it’s the memory of a tight ring of muscles closing in an iron grip around her knot that brings her over the edge. Clarke muffles her moans as best as she can, hand in a haphazard rhythm over her spilling length.
Lexa still controls all of Clarke’s pleasure.
Her hair is still damp when she climbs the stairs to her mother’s bedroom. The door next to Abby’s room, where Clarke’s room used to be, is closed, and she tries it out of curiosity. It’s locked.
Abby’s door is ajar and she ignores her old room in favor of her sire’s comfort. Clarke finds her mother’s embrace and settles in silence as Abby surfs through channels.
Clarke lets out an exaggerated sigh, and Abby mutes the TV.
“I won’t talk about Lexa, Clarke. She’ll talk to you when she feels ready.”
“If she feels ready …”
Abby beckons her daughter closer, and Clarke doesn't hesitate to lay her head on her lap.
“She’s hurt,” Abby continues. “It’s not easy to forgive. Give her time, Clarke.”
Clarke looks up, and sees the hurt she caused reflected in dark eyes. “You forgave me.”
Abby chuckles at that. “I’m a parent, Clarke. It’s easier for us to forgive our children.” Amusement shows itself in the brown eyes locked on Clarke’s. “Maybe someday you will understand.”
The idea of being a sire herself stirs something in Clarke’s chest. She can’t think about it right now, since the only person who she imagines starting a family with hates her at the moment.
She falls asleep, her head on her mother’s lap, Lexa’s name tumbling out her lips as she surrenders to exhaustion.
Clarke’s body falls back into the routine easier than she expected. A few weeks after coming back, and she’s used to the long shifts and odd hospital hours.
She finds herself at a park downtown, near the hospital, looking for a distraction before going home after a 16 hour shift that turned into 20. It’s not even 9 am, but Clarke deserves strawberry chocolate chip ice cream after a long shift. It’s Saturday, after all, and that's her excuse when she approaches the park.
Kids play in the playground at the center of the park, and Clarke follows their loud laughs in search for her ice cream. She smirks in triumph at the colorful cart close to the pups and gets in line.
Her hand closes around the strawberry cone, the chocolate chips the exact proportion she likes, and she’s about to get her first lick when something collides against her legs. The ice cream in her hands almost falls down, contrary to the girl who blindly ran into her legs and sits on the ground, astonished.
“Hey,” Clarke says in a sweet voice, trying to push the tiredness away. “What a tumble. You okay?” She offers one hand to help the girl up, and as if out of a trance, the slim kid is up in a blink. “Your ice cream fell down”—Clarke points to the pink mess next to the girl’s feet—“and I see you like strawberry too. Do you want mine?” Clarke kneels to meet the pup’s eyes, a pale shade of green like new grass after a cold night. “I also love strawberry with chocolate chip,” she encourages the shy girl.
“The best,” the girl agrees, extending her hand to get the still untouched cone.
As fast as she appeared, the girl runs back to the playground in a flash of brown hair and swift limbs. Clarke smiles watching her go, and turns to get another ice cream because she deserves sugar after that shift.
She finds an unoccupied bench close to the playground, sitting to enjoy the calm morning. She’s halfway through her ice cream, mindlessly watching the pups playing around monkey bars, when she hears it.
She knows that voice, that scent.
“... she gave me ice ‘ceam!”
It’s the girl from before, that’s for sure. But next to her, that tone, that—
“Did you say thank you?”
Clarke freezes. There’s ice cream on her lips as she gasps, and she stands up in a hurry to compose herself.
The girl is in front of her bench, holding hands with a woman. “She got me ice ‘ceam, mommy.” She eyes Clarke curiously before turning to her mom again. “She’s pretty.”
Clarke swallows hard, because holding the girl’s hand is Lexa.
Lexa composes her facial expression sooner than Clarke, smiling down at her daughter and using a low tone. “Say thank you, Serah. That’s what you do when someone is nice to you.”
Clarke listens attentively to Lexa’s tone, motherly, new … and yet familiar.
“Thank you!” Serah says to Clarke, craning her neck to look at her face, showing her brightest smile.
Lexa uses her sleeve to clear off the last remains of ice cream from Serah’s cheek, eyes avoiding Clarke’s curious glance.
“Why don’t you play around a little bit more, honey? I’ll wait here,” Lexa suggests, pumping protective pheromones around her daughter. If they are meant to scare Clarke away, they fail miserably. Clarke misses her scent.
Serah smiles again, waves at Clarke and runs to where other kids are playing tag.
Lexa sits down next to Clarke, and it takes a second for the alpha to react and follow.
“I didn’t plan this,” Clarke says quickly, feeling Lexa’s pheromones peak. “I didn’t know you would be here, I—”
“I know.” Lexa’s voice is calm, certain. A contrast to the way her green eyes move between Clarke and Serah. Her voice calms Clarke, who visibly deflates.
“She’s beautiful,” Clarke comments. She chooses not to think who the sire is. She was away for years, of course Lexa — beautiful and single Lexa — would find a new mate.
Stupid. Clarke sinks further in her seat, defeated.
Children laugh and squeal, filling the silence. Clarke sees the tension bunched in Lexa’s shoulder, and scowls at herself and her instinct to massage it away.
Clarke hears Lexa’s deep breath, the light grinding of her strong jaw. Birds sing playfully above them when Lexa says the next words with the same calmness and serenity that one talks about the weather,
Clarke gasps in shock, then almost chokes on her bite of ice cream. She had certainly not expected that answer from the omega, who stares at her in surprise. Lexa wordlessly offer her a bottle of water.
“What?” Clarke asks between gulps of water. They don’t do much to help recover her stolen breath. “What do you mean?”
“I mean you’re her sire,” Lexa says matter-of-factly. Clarke hands the water back with trembling hands, shaking her head to assure that she’s alright. She’s not sure that Lexa cares at all.
“Why …” But the question doesn’t come to life. Clarke should know why.
Lexa answers anyway, anger coating her clipped voice. “I tried to contact you throughout the pregnancy, but you disappeared in Africa. After Serah was born and Abby found you, I asked her not to tell.”
Green, stony eyes meet Clarke’s, daring her to ask why, to push. She feels Lexa wants any excuse to end this conversation.
Clarke doesn’t, though. There’s nothing but regret and pain in her bluish eyes, and Clarke looks back at their pup.
Serah plays among other pups with a lopsided smile Clarke is able to recognize as her own. The way the girl cringes her nose is familiar too, but what swells Clarke’s chest with pride is how the girls looks like Lexa. Tall forehead, sharp chin and beautiful, high cheekbones.
The tears come faster than expected — faster than she can stop them — and Clarke wipes at them with the back of her hands. Clarke uses her napkin to wipe away her tears, aware that Lexa is watching her. The omega silently offers her a decent tissue, strawberry-free. Clarke shudders when their skin touch, but she gulps down her hope.
Lexa pulls her hand away and bites her lips.
Clarke doesn’t see it, though. She’s too focused on messy brown hair, carefree smile and the hearty laugh Serah has to pay attention to Lexa. She curses herself in her mind. How could she abandon Lexa like that? A tired voice answers it, but she doesn’t give it any attention; she spent too long listening to that voice. It didn’t matter how bad the state of her mind was, Clarke would be back to help Lexa and her pup.
Clarke’s pup .
“I have a pup?” She asks with a shaky voice, clearing her throat to get rid of the tears.
Laxa sighs, nodding. “We will continue this conversation at your sire’s house. I’ll call her and set the details.”
Clarke watches Lexa stand up and go to Serah. The pout which graces Serah’s little plump lips — a copy of Lexa’s — brings a smile to Clarke’s face for the rest of the day.
More than anything, she wants to set things right.