Now settled in New York City, Clarke thought the least of her worries was finally telling her secret to Lexa that she kept during her time in San Fransisco. But when Clarke finds out there is someone posing a greater threat to her and her family, Clarke is brought back into hunting again.
Sequel to It's Gonna Hurt
"It'll just be for tonight," Bellamy said, standing at the bottom of the foyer stairwell.
Octavia stood beside him, a firm nod of agreement. They were doing this every night, trying to get Clarke to step out of the manor for a change. Tonight, Bellamy figured if daily activities weren’t going to get her out, maybe a change of pace for dinner would. Clarke approached the top of the stairs. The first day they came to New York City Octavia and Bellamy spent their time eating at all the restaurants they could find, having heard about the opportunity the city offered. They eventually concluded in their year-long visit, the food would never beat the unique cuisine of Louisiana, but New York hard its appeal. For Clarke, that never became her purpose upon arriving in the city and since her departure, with Lexa, she had dedicated her time to her cases until fate had a different intention for her.
"It's a celebration, Clarke," Octavia said. "We just had a successful hunt. The city is one step safer from vampires."
Clarke bit her bottom lip, contemplating their offer. She did her job as promised when she got her leads. That was solved three months ago, but ever since Clarke was staying home as often as she could. Then she hired a housemaid to help her tidy up. The manor was left to Clarke in her father's will, much like many things he left in New York City, and her mother was able to keep the home out of disrepair. Bellamy smiled, holding his hand out to her.
"I promise there is nothing to fear," Bellamy said. "You could use some fresh air."
Raven exited from the lounge, mobile and no longer pregnant when she first met Clarke.
"I can take care of everything here with Maya while you're out for the night," Raven promised. "You have my word."
Bellamy raised his brow in question. He asked out of good nature for her to join them. Over the first year, he grew to trust and enjoy Clarke's company. In return, Clarke knew to rely on him for important matters. He had proven to be resourceful.
"Alright." Clarke agreed, turning away from the stairs. "Let me change into my evening bodice."
They settled on dinner at a steakhouse, one of New York's finest and highly praised restaurants, centered in the heart of Union Square. The street was the bustling heart of the city, full of horse-drawn carriages, a crowd of workers from the produce stalls to shoe shiners, and an endless supply of restaurants ranging from bakeries to seamstresses. The restaurant wasn’t short of stunning, a lush carpet in the foyer, a spectacular chandelier in the center, and a greeter offering to take their coats. The three of them are seated closer to the live orchestra playing on stage. Clarke ordered a bottle of red wine for the table and once her flute was filled, she let out a sigh of relief. She took a sip from her cup. Bellamy smiled watching her with his menu in hand.
"I told you, you would enjoy it." He said.
A waiter arrived to take their orders and they each had their preferred cuts of steak with gratin mashed potatoes, fresh bread rolls with butter, and a side of steamed vegetables. Clarke was the first to finish her cup, which Bellamy refilled, but she was sure to sip slower this time. Clarke looked at the other tables full of people who were couples, married, on dates, or with families, all enjoying their night with the pleasant music washing through the room and Clarke can't remember the last time she did this. How she would enjoy doing things like this with Lexa, given the chance.
The memory turned sour. Clarke remembered the time she spent with Lexa in a small village on the outskirts of Paris. Clarke looked down at her cup, biting her bottom lip. Sensing her frustration, Bellamy stood from his chair and offered his hand out to her.
"Would you like to dance?" Bellamy said.
Clarke took his hand, standing. He held his arm out for her to loop around it before they entered the dance floor. There were a handful of people already dancing, smiling and laughing, husbands and wives no doubt. Bellamy faced Clarke and put his arm around her waist then clasped his hand in hers.
"Relax, you seem nervous," Bellamy said. "You've danced before I'm sure?"
Clarke scoffed and Bellamy set the pace, leading them through the floor, stepping back and turning around.
"As a young girl, yes, but that was ages ago," Clarke said.
"There's no need to punish yourself during your stay," Bellamy said.
Clarke raised a brow.
"I'm not – "
"It's been a year since you've seen Lexa," Bellamy said. "The last letter she sent you was four months ago. You're worried something happened?"
Clarke brows pinched together into a frown. Lexa was on her mind more often than it should be. Lexa could handle anything and it wasn't because she was just a werewolf. She was witty and skillful, resourceful, but Clarke couldn't stop. What if something went wrong which was why she hasn't heard from her since?
"Yes, I worry, so much has changed since we departed," Clarke admitted.
"Don't you think you've done enough worrying?" Bellamy said, spinning them around at a slower pace. "The same can be done with your cases. You could use a break. You've done a lot as have Octavia and me."
In the one year of living in New York and getting her life together without Lexa, Clarke was grateful for Bellamy's and Octavia's help. It took only two months to find the two vampires Costia informed her about and the rest was vampire cases that terrorized the city.
"I don't doubt your hard work. I'm glad you came with me to the city," Clarke said, watching him smile. "I think it's time I get back into the cases just to keep my mind off of Lexa."
"We'll handle them. It isn't a problem." Bellamy promised.
Bellamy proved to be trustworthy with Clarke's company and the unusual cases that came about through the city. Costia was right to have him come with her. It was why she allowed him to travel out of state for any leads on the last two vampires Costia couldn't get her. But the two-month travel didn't appear promising from what she heard.
"Do you have the names of the last two vampires?" Clarke said.
Bellamy shook his head. He had a look of disappointment on his face. He was one of the best trackers Clarke seen, for him to come up empty-handed was unusual.
"I've only heard a few whispers. One worth noting is the man who organized the attacks on your village. He goes by the name Alan Lovette, but I can't say for sure where he maybe." Bellamy explained. "I have notified Costia and everyone else around the country to be on the lookout."
While it was a small lead to go by, they needed more information, something bigger than a name. Until then, the hunt was over before it began. Clarke expected his travels out of New York to bring up better results. Vampires were known to have an alias, at least far more sophisticated ones and Clarke knew this one wasn’t a simpleton.
"He may be already out of the states," Clarke stated a scowl in place.
"Yes, but with Anya overseas in Europe to strengthen the pack outside of our homeland it will only be a matter of time when he will show up again," Bellamy said.
News of the expansion was something the pack seemed hopeful about, but Clarke was less excited seeing that their growing strength meant gaining territory. That could make other wolves unhappy. It was a topic she had no place to discuss. Clarke knew it would take time for Costia's pack to organize and she assured Clarke they planned to come to a non-violent conclusion. That was something Clarke didn't have the time to wait for. The lead would soon grow cold.
"I can't exactly leave for Europe at the moment," Clarke said.
"You don't have to, stay in New York and run the shipping company. Murphy and I will continue to work at the docks with Miller and make sure everything is in order," Bellamy said. "I can get Octavia to work on the case."
"I can't ask that. She's done too much." Clarke rejected.
"Are you sure?" Bellamy said.
The music stopped and Bellamy bowed to Clarke as she curtsied then they moved back to their table. Clarke gulped down the rest of her wine, feeling the flare of its effects rush to her cheeks.
"Excuse me, I'm sorry to intrude, but are you, Ms. Clarke Griffin?"
A man in a black peacock coat and fine fur top hat approached the table. A woman with brown skin and jet black hair in a purple bodice stood beside him. He gripped his cane in his right hand, leaning forward with it as his support.
"Yes, I am, and you are?" Clarke said.
The man's face lit up with joy. He stepped closer, his cane bumped into Bellamy's boot. The woman followed him.
"Oh, what an honor! I am a fan of your work, Ms. Griffin." He chirped. "I am Dr. Cage Wallace. This is my colleague Lorelei Tsing. She has recently arrived from Canada for an apprenticeship in the city with me."
"That’s quite the travel. I have to say, I would not expect people of science to be so interested in my field of work. Most people laugh off the very thought of monsters." Clarke said.
Cage and Lorelei glanced at each other smiling and chuckling.
"Yes, I know how that sounds, but I've come to believe a true man of science doesn't factor out any possibilities." Cage said. "Oh, I hope we're not interrupting."
Cage glanced at Bellamy and Octavia. Bellamy gave Cage a stern stare, his fingers tapping against the table and his glass untouched. While out for their dance, their orders came and Bellamy did not touch his steak.
"Oh, no, please, come sit." Clarke invited.
Clarke picked up the tension between Bellamy and the rest of the table. Bellamy rubbed the back of his neck with a huff and picked up his utensils to cut into his steak. Cage took the seat next to Clarke and Lorelei to his right. Cage couldn't stop smiling with a look of wonder on his face.
"How long have you been in the city, Mr. Wallace?" Clarke said.
"Oh, I arrived years ago, once I finished my studies." Cage said. "I have my practice here. I know you know medicine yourself."
"I picked up a thing or two while I was with my mother." Clarke clarified.
"What brings you to the city? The last I heard you were traveling across Europe." Cage said. "Is there a case worth chasing after?"
"Oh no, I've decided to take a bit of a break on hunting," Clarke said.
Cage smiled, a teasing look on his face and glanced at Bellamy.
“A matter of the heart so to speak?” He asked.
Clarke scoffed. Bellamy bit his bottom lip, his cheeks flushing a shade of pink. Octavia put a hand over her mouth to hide her grin and coughed.
“Oh, heavens no, Bellamy is a good friend,” Clarke said.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have…” Cage muttered, fiddling with his silk tie.
They chatted a little more about their hometowns. Cage mentioned cases he followed, but many had remained out of the papers. Clarke was halfway done with her steak when Cage fished his left hand into the breast pocket of his jacket and presented a card to Clarke.
"Once again, I am humbled to be meeting you and I do hope we meet again Ms. Griffin." Cage said. "This is my card. It has my office address and my hours. Don't be shy to visit should you need my assistance."
Lorelei approached Cage and he gave Clarke a small wave before leaving. Bellamy watched him until he left the restaurant.
"He was a strange man," Octavia said.
"I agree," Bellamy said.
"All doctors are awkward, having spent their days away working," Clarke said.
"No one is this friendly in the city," Bellamy said. "Be wary of him Clarke."
"No need to worry Bellamy," Clarke assured.
Lexa clutched her folded newspaper on her lap, gazing out the train window. She wished she brought one of her thicker books during the train ride, but now closer to the end of her destination, she wouldn't be able to focus. Lexa clenched her right hand around the rolled-up paper. She shifted in her seat, finding little comfort in the action. The days-long travel finally having a toll on her. If she were to choose, she would take train rides rather than boats, while with the new invention of steamboats to get them faster across the world, the wait was what made Lexa restless.
"No need to fret," Costia said, seated across from her.
The woman with sandy blonde hair next to her, Echo, put down her book at the break of the silence between the cart. Lexa sighed. She had good reason to be nervous. She saw no reason to deny it either, Costia had come to know Lexa in their time together.
"I can't help it," Lexa said.
"Clarke will understand," Costia assured. "Are you concerned with things changing during your absence?"
Lexa pressed a finger to her temple.
"I'm not sure what to expect and that scares me more," Lexa said. "I promised I wouldn't be away for this long."
"There was no way of telling how things would turn out in San Francisco. A lot has happened during our stay. " Costia explained. "However, I am indebted to you Lexa, for helping my people deal with our skinwalker and changeling infestation."
Lexa frowned. That was a new case in her years of hunting to come across. While she read of all the mystical lores of monsters, that was something she didn't expect.
"I apologize for what happened after the case," Lexa said.
Costia's collected expression falters and her eyes filled with sorrow. A tremor showed on her bottom lip and Costia gulped to contain herself.
"How are you dealing with it?" Lexa asked.
Costia fiddled with her gold gem necklace below her collarbone and forcefully smiled.
"That is something that won't quite go away I'm afraid," Costia said. "For now, we have other things to focus on. There is plenty of time before the ceremony starts."
Lexa didn't press on about the subject, understanding from her own experience how a loss that close don't go away so quickly.
"I'm sure Bellamy will be happy to finally see you again Echo," Lexa said.
"Oh, he will. New York City isn't quite home for him. He's more of an outdoors type of man." Echo said. "I can't say the change will be any better than the commotion of San Francisco."
"New York City isn't any better." Costia disagreed.
Lexa crossed her arms over her double-breasted vest. She shifted again, keeping her eyes on the window. The sun had long set, but she had already read her paper three times.
"We'll be there soon, sit tight," Costia said.
Lexa only hoped not much had changed since her time away. The thing she looked forward to is finally getting to see Clarke.
Clarke changed into her nightgown, glad for a change she had dinner out with Bellamy and Octavia. It did enough to lighten her mood once she came home. Bellamy and Octavia were nice enough to walk her home before hailing down a carriage to go home themselves. There's a knock at her bedroom door when she pulled back the quilts of her bed.
"Enter," Clarke said.
Raven entered, holding a cooing baby boy with her tan complexion with a head of brown baby curls and the housemaid, Maya. The bundle in Maya's arms was whimpering while Maya tried to soothe the baby, but it did little to stop her from breaking into a faint cry.
"I'm sorry miss, she can't seem to settle down for the night," Maya said.
Clarke approached her and took the baby into her arms.
"That's alright Maya, thank you both for looking after Madi," Clarke replied, smiling as she gazed down at her baby. "I hope she wasn't too much trouble."
"It's nothing I can't handle. Madi is far less of a hassle than Lucas." Rave said, as he grabbed at Raven's necklace and tried to stuff it into his mouth. "You would think crawling doesn't get you anywhere fast enough, but he manages just fine."
Lucas mumbled and waved his left hand above his head. Raven stroked his soft angle hairs. He had mostly Raven's features, except Anya's sly shaped eyes. Clarke smiled.
"Maya is a great help I'm sure," Clarke said. "She did help me deliver Madi."
"I'll leave you to sleep then Ms. Griffin, goodnight," Maya said, exiting the room.
Clarke moved over to the rocking chair next to her bedroom window and sat down. Raven sat on the vanity chair with Lucas. Madi began to calm down, curling into the warmth of her mother's bosom.
"How are you feeling?" Clarke asked, gently move the chair to and fro. "Anya was supposed to be in the city a month ago, but instead she's sent overseas."
"I know she has important business to tend to, but both of us rather be back in Texas with Lucas." She said. "Once I heard about you carrying Madi, I decided to come here to help you. Lucas is already six months."
Madi let out a small whine and Clarke pulled down the collar of her nightgown. Madi latched on to her, suckling her bosom and settling down again.
"Thank you for that," Clarke said. "I had no idea how to care for a baby, especially one as unexpected as Madi."
Raven spotted Lucas letting out a silence yawn and sluggishly blinked his eyes.
"Ah, Costia has deemed you one of us, it's the least I could do. It must kill you staying home while Bellamy is doing the fieldwork." Raven said.
Clarke had thought about it a few times, but they are short-lived ideas that go away the second she held Madi. The little life in her arms she carried and created that relied on Clarke for her survival. How could she return to hunting with a baby waiting for her at home?
"It does," Clarke admitted.
"Will you return to hunting again?" Raven said.
Clarke stroked a finger down her cheek and Madi's hand bunched at her face moved, gripping on to Clarke's finger. She was only three months, but Clarke was sure she had many features of Lexa. The tuft of brown hair on her head for one.
"I haven't decided," Clarke answered. "I know people will need help with vampires and werewolves. I have monsters of my own to catch, but I also have Madi now."
"Anya is considering the same thing," Raven said. "She's thinking of requesting office work, but many people aren't quite as skilled to get the job done. I will continue to help as much as I can."
Raven stood, holding Lucas against her chest as he now drifted to sleep.
"Goodnight, Clarke," Raven said, exiting the bedroom.
Clarke checked on Madi, now asleep and still. Clarke stood, pulling her nightgown up and placed Madi into the bassinet beside her bed. Clarke blew out the candle next to her nightstand.
Chapter 2: Part II
Maya took pride in her work at the manor, while she didn’t enjoy being away from home since her mother passed, the job she landed as a housemaid was a job she was grateful for. Clarke was kind enough to understand her need to return home once to check on her father she was kind enough to allow Maya to live within the manor. She lived across the city and the trip was tiring and exhausting, especially during the winter months. In return, Maya awoke every day at dawn to set the table, clean the foyer and lounge for any possible guest and serve breakfast exactly at 7 am. Raven often came down to eat first as Griffin preferred to eat a little later.
“Morning Oscar,” Maya said, entering the kitchen.
Oscar was another werewolf within the pack and he was a quiet man, mostly to himself, probably because of his towering height and brutish figure. His arms were long with thick blocky forearms from his years of baking before he decided to move into becoming a personal cook. He grunted, not bothering to look over his shoulder from his stove. Another cook, one of Oscar’s well-known assistants, Benjamin worked beside him. Benjamin was smaller in size by an entire foot, slender with lanky legs, and not a single strand of red facial hair like Oscar. He was much more talkative too.
“Morning Maya, breakfast is on the cart,” Benjamin said, smiling as he placed a tray of pastries on the cart.
He went back to the counters, cleaning up the flour left behind. Maya pushed the cart out of the kitchen, watching the coffee pot rattle in front of her. Clarke entered as she made her way around the table.
“Hello, Ms. Griffin.” Maya greeted, placing a plate full of eggs, bread, sausages, hash browns, and baked beans in front of her. “Breakfast is served. Madi won't be joining you today?”
Clarke placed her napkin over her lap.
“I fed her first before coming down. I plan to go to the market this morning.” Clarke informed.
Maya severed her coffee with a splash of milk and a teaspoon of sugar. Clarke picked up a butter roll from in front of her and took a bite.
“Oh, is there something I can get you? I got everything you requested from your list yesterday morning.” Maya offered.
“I want to enjoy a nice stroll this morning,” Clarke said. “Has Bellamy visited this morning?”
He often started his day an hour before dawn while Clarke was still asleep. His route to the shipping company was always in Clarke’s direction. He came to give any news worth mentioning.
“He stopped by earlier,” Maya informed. “He requests you come to see him this afternoon. He has a case to go over.”
Clarke gulped her coffee. If he needed to see her about a case it was often a serious matter. She nodded.
“Thank you, Maya.”
Maya served her a plate of roasted vegetables and chicken before leaving the dining room.
Raven was in the lounge, seated on the couch with Lucas on the floor crawling about and Madi in her arms. Maya stood close behind Lucas as he moved about the room.
“I'm going to head out now. Are you sure you'll be okay?” Clarke asked.
“Of course, Maya will help me,” Raven said.
Clarke nodded, looking over Madi who laid contently in Raven's arms.
“Right, I won't belong,” Clarke announced, heading out to the foyer.
The market is only a two-block walk from the manor, but the distance was enough to have Clarke second-guessing to have Maya get what she needed instead. But determined to be at ease with leaving Madi more often, Clarke continued through the streets. The market was a lively and rambunctious area during all hours of the day until sundown. The paperboys yelling and asking if people wanted papers and stall owners trying to gather customers to buy. Clarke stopped at the produce stall first, getting herself six fresh chicken eggs to stuff into her basket. She picked up a beautiful bouquet of assorted flowers. She was on her way to return home when she spotted another stand with a collection of various goods and picked up a stuffed doll. The toy was of a bear with a ribbon tied around its next and button black eyes. Clarke smiled, rubbing her thumb over the soft fabric of the toy.
Clarke clutched the doll and spun around. Cage smiled looking over the doll. Clarke put it down.
“I was shopping for a gift,” Clarke said. “Good morning Mr. Wallace.
“I didn't mean to startle you.” Cage chuckled. “I was out to get chops for father's breakfast before I head into the office.”
“Well, I'd hate to keep you away from your work,” Clarke said.
“Please, it isn't any trouble. If you're up to it we can have lunch together at 2 pm. It's usually when I leave for my evening coffee.” Cage suggested. “There is an excellent restaurant across from my office that has the best pastries.”
“I would love to but I have quite a few more errands to run today,” Clarke said.
“Well, next time then. Good day, Ms. Griffin.”
He paid for his chops at the neighboring stall before leaving.
Clarke was putting her bouquet in a vase of water when Maya approached her.
“Ms. Griffin, you have a visitor,” Maya announced.
Clarke followed her into the lounge and nearly dropped her basket of eggs. Lexa stood at the window with her suitcase at her feet. There was a pause of silence as Clarke tried to gather her thoughts. A ray of emotions crashing down at her all at once. Lexa softly smiled. Clarke gulped.
“T-Thank you, Maya,” Clarke muttered.
Maya got to the cue to leave and closed the lounge door on her way out. Clarke can't seem to get herself to walk and continued to stare at Lexa in disbelief.
“Hello, Clarke,” Lexa said.
Clarke took a wobbly step forward and set her basket on the nightstand. They're close enough now that she can reach a hand out to touch her but Clarke fights her impulse to cup Lexa's face. Standing just two inches away, Clarke can see there was something different about Lexa, besides her appearance. Her wardrobe favoring darker and earth colors and consisting of men's clothing, trousers, double-breasted vest, jacket, shirt, and a necktie. Her hair tied back with the same silk black tie and ringlets at the sides of her face. There was a confidence in Lexa a stance of confidence and poise.
“I... You've changed.” Clarke whispered. “Is this – I'm so glad to see you.”
Clarke pulled her into a hug. Lexa held her, stroking a hand down the hood of her cloak.
“It's good to see you too,” Lexa said.
Clarke took a step back, cupping Lexa's face. There was not a single blemish or sign of aging, but her eyes carried a different story. One of wisdom and experience. Clarke sighed, smiling and brushed a finger down to Lexa's lower lip. Lexa's eyes filled with adoration and desire, being this close to Clarke again.
“I didn't know you were coming,” Clarke said.
“I apologize for the last-minute visit. My travels have been far too hectic to write to you.” Lexa apologized. “Costia and Echo came with me, but have decided to stay at hotels.”
Clarke stroked a hand down Lexa's neck. Lexa's lip trembled at the gentle touch of Clarke's slender fingers. The contact soft and fiery, awakening a long-simmering desire between both of them. Lexa pulled Clarke against her, relishing the feel of Clarke's warmth against hers. Clarke's left hand roamed down Lexa's cotton vest, gliding over her breast. Clarke felt the brush of Lexa's breath flutter against her cheeks. Lexa's lips brushed against Clarke's, nuzzling against her cheek desperate for more solid contact. Clarke sighed and let out a billowy laugh.
“Oh, I -- You've traveled all this way. You must be exhausted.” Clarke said.
Lexa gazed down at Clarke's lips, grinning.
“Among other things,” Lexa whispered.
“Let me show you to your room,” Clarke said, exiting the lounge.
While she would rather finish what they started it wasn't the time. Maya and Raven were awake and Clarke still hasn't told Lexa about Madi. That was something she just couldn't avoid. Lexa got her suitcase and followed Clarke upstairs. She was given the guest room at the end of the hall. Lexa set her suitcase down, looking over the vanity set.
“Thank you, Clarke,” Lexa said.
Clarke nervously clasped her hands together over her stomach.
“If you need anything just let me know. I can get the cooks to make you something.” Clarke said, turning toward the door.
“I'm sorry I haven't contacted you sooner,” Lexa said, watching her pause at the door.
Clarke faced her.
“There is no excuse to not keep in touch for so long, but I... I want you to know, I missed you the entire time I was away.” Lexa said.
“I'm just glad you've finally returned,” Clarke replied.
Lexa approached her, putting a hand on Clarke's hip, pinning her to the back of the door. Clarke gasped, feeling Lexa kiss along her exposed neck. Lexa stepped closer, pressing her body against Clarke's and slipped her hands to the back of her dress.
“Clarke.” Lexa moaned.
“Wait, Lexa, I um -- there is something I must tell you,” Clarke said.
Lexa's right hand glided up Clarke's arm and over the bump of the scar on her neck that was covered with powder. Lexa wiped it again, rubbing over the groves of the bite mark.
“The bite stayed?” Lexa stated, glancing into Clarke's swirling blue eyes.
“I didn't expect it either,” Clarke said. “I was sick for the first two weeks at first, but it eventually healed.”
“How could this be?” Lexa asked.
“Possibly because I am not exactly like most humans,” Clarke said.
“You mean you being a witch had something to do with this?” Lexa said.
“There is something else I must tell you.”
There was a sharp cry of a baby from up the hall. Lexa had a look of confusion. Clarke opened the door and had Lexa follow her out of the room. Clarke entered her bedroom. A bassinet stationed beside her bed. Clarke carefully picked up Madi into her arms, ceasing her crying.
“She must be hungry again,” Clarke whispered, gently rocking her.
Clarke turned around, showing the whimpering baby in her arms bundled in her blanket to Lexa.
“This is Madi,” Clarke said.
Lexa's face flushed white. A look of utter shock on her face. The silence made Clarke worried if it was too sudden to inform Lexa or maybe she should have told her sooner. Lexa's eyes were filled with tears.
“She's...” Lexa stammered, watching Clarke nod.
Lexa wiped her unshed tears. She didn't have to ask. She knew. Lexa could feel it. The connection between them. The hairs on her arms and neck standing up the second Madi was less than a foot away from her.
“I have a daughter?” Lexa said.
“I didn't think it was possible,” Clarke said. “And when I found out Raven and the others were sure I wouldn't be able to carry to full term or die during childbirth.”
Lexa gulped, her eyes focused on Madi who now stopped crying. Lexa licked her bottom lip.
“W-Why didn't you tell me?”
“None of us were sure I would survive. I didn't want to worry you.” Clarke explained. “If I did, you would have left San Francisco.”
She wasn't wrong about that. Lexa would be on the earliest train ride back to the east coast in a heartbeat. Now here she was, missing the nine-month pregnancy milestone, many first time parents would enjoy, and now missing three months of Madi's life here in the city. The guilt Lexa felt knowing Clarke had to endure such things alone was overbearing. The shame Clarke would get from being a single mother and an unwed woman made Lexa's stomach twist and turn.
“She has your appetite.” Clarke laughed. “And hopefully your looks.”
Lexa rested a hand on Clarke's upper back and stepped closer to her to place a kiss on Clarke's temple. The only thing on her mind now was to stay here.
They move back into the lounge once Madi was back to sleep and left snugged in her bassinet. Lexa still carried a look of guilt on her as they sat on the couch space apart. The distance was between them just as bothersome as the tension. Clarke expected it, but that didn’t make this any less enjoyable. The reality of Madi did not yet sink in and that was something Clarke related to the moment she found out she was pregnant. But to see Lexa conflicted not just on the situation but toward Clarke as she kept this a secret for the duration of her absence was what crushed her. Madi was an impossible reality, given the situation of Lexa's condition and Clarke's lack of species similarity, but it happened. And here was Madi and the two of them now parents. That was something anyone would need time to grasp, human or not. Lexa pressed a hand under her chin, leaning her elbow on the armrest.
“You have a wonderful home,” Lexa said.
“I inherited it from my father's will as well as his shipping company,” Clarke informed. “While I was away on cases mother had his relatives look after the company.”
“Now you run it?” Lexa asked.
Clarke twisted toward Lexa, bothered by the space between them. She now kept a more concealed expression, possibly lost in thought, a look of anger even. Clarke couldn’t be sure.
“I sign the paperwork for the imports, exports, and maintenance. Costia was kind enough to send me men to keep it running.” Clarke said. “I know little about how to run a business. Bellamy helps keep things in order.”
“And where are Bellamy and Octavia?” Lexa questioned.
“I'm on my way to visit him soon. He has a case we must speak about.” Clarke said.
Lexa raised a brow.
“You're taking up cases while tending after Madi?”
“I don't do the fieldwork. I do research and prepare them.” Clarke clarified. “Bellamy and Octavia handle the rest. But enough about me, how was San Francisco?”
Lexa's face became more grave. She nodded. That was a topic she wasn't yet ready to discuss in detail.
“Much has happened during my stay. Costia will be better at explaining their adventures.” Lexa said. “Vampires and Werewolves are not the only issues that the city itself attracts.”
“Are you alright?” Clarke asked.
“Yes, with practice I have my ruts under control now. I've learned so much during my stay.” Lexa said. “Did you find the leads Costia gave you?”
“That was dealt with before my pregnancy went any farther,” Clarke stated. “There are two more vampires I'm still searching for. One of them goes by the name Alan Lovette.”
“I can help you find him,” Lexa said. “I'm glad to help any way I can. In the meantime, we must talk to Costia about your mark and Madi.”
Clarke gingerly touched her scar.
“It hasn't bothered me,” Clarke said.
“We can't be too careful. What if the bite has side effects being that you're different?” Lexa explained. “Until then, shouldn't be off to see Bellamy? I'll be here. I need to rest.”
Clarke stood looking Lexa over one last time before leaving. There would be time for them to speak longer and about more important matters. Space apart would do them good now that Lexa knew about Madi.
“I'll see you for dinner then,” Clarke said.
Clarke hated coming here. It wasn’t just because of the distance. Bellamy lived farther away from Times Square, but in a much poorer area too. The streets fility with trash and a foul smell of rotten food and feces. He rarely asked Clarke to see him, but between working the shipping company and cases of vampires attack, he had little time to visit her. Clarke knew to be careful making her way through the area, familiar with its reputation of thievery. She kept her satchel tucked under her cloak and away from view. Bellamy lived in a clustered apartment building, with homeless people wandering the area begging for change and others sleeping on the streets. Clarke entered the building, greeted by the smell of body odor and urine. She made her way up the stairs to the third floor and knocked on the nearest apartment door. Bellamy opened the door, greeting her briefly before she passed. Octavia was seated in the tiny kitchen with a worn-out coffee pot and tin cups.
“Would you like a cup?” Bellamy offered, pulling out a chair for her.
“Thank you,” Clarke said, watching him fill her mug.
There was another knock at the door, Octavia answered it and let in another man with long brown locks. He wore a brown faded smock over his trousers and no tophat. He wiped his face self consciously, seeing Clarke at the table.
“Ms. Griffin, evening.” He greeted, joining them at the table.
“Hello, Murphy,” Clarke said.
Murphy poured himself a cup of coffee with no milk or sugar and took a sip. Bellamy finally took a seat, his hands folded on to the table and Octavia settled back into her chair.
“Shall we begin then?” Clarke asked.
While she tried not to be rude and show her disdain for being in this area, Bellamy knew she didn’t want to be here any longer than she needed to be. He didn’t exactly enjoy staying here either. It was far too cluttered in comparison to his farm back at home, but it was cheap. Bellamy nodded.
“There was an attack in the eastern region of the city,” Bellamy said. “One of our own was killed.”
“Rivalry packs?” Clarke suggested.
Bellamy shrugged, rubbing a hand down his beard. It was possible. Costia wasn’t the only pack in the country, she just happened to run the largest one with better connections. That would give any wolf a motive to attack her or others with her.
“It's possible. His name is Edward Pinkerton.” Bellamy said. “When I arrived at the scene I was told a human could have done this. I saw the body and there were no claw marks, teeth marks, no vampire wounds.”
Clarke took a cube of sugar from the table and dropped three into her coffee before stirring it.
“His body was found washed up on the bay,” Octavia said. “There was no scent. The water washed it away. The only thing left on him was his wallet, but his money was still there.”
Clarke frowned. Had it been another werewolf they had the strength to cause more damage to another wolf. The nature of a werewolf attack was far more brutal, but humans often used weapons of some kind like a knife or a lead pipe, sometimes a gun. And there was no way a werewolf would let a human get the jump on them if they were after money. A human didn’t stand a chance, yet this wolf was dead.
“It wasn't a mugging then,” Clarke stated. “He was targeted.”
Murphy scoffed, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
“Whoever did this was sloppy too, so it must have been done in a rush.” He said. “Why leave the body behind?”
Clarke took a swig from her tin. She knew Murphy didn’t have a clean reputation, but he proved resourceful in his own right. He thought like a thief but was loyal to the pack and the shipping company.
“We can't be sure what was their motive just yet, but we now have one dead wolf on our territory,” Bellamy noted.
“Is there a way to examine the body?” Clarke said.
“We've been trying to get one of our own to examine the body,” Bellamy said. “Costia has better connections here.”
“Don't be silly, I can help.” Clarke insisted.
“Echo informed me Lexa arrived today. I'm sure you rather spend your time at home for now.” Bellamy said. “I have someone willing to do the examination once they have the time to. Other than that, there is nothing else about the case. We'll all be on the lookout for more information.”
“In that case should you have something to bring to me I will use it to track what I can with it. Keep me informed, thank you all for your help.” Clarke said, making her way out.
Chapter 3: Part III
Lexa found little sleep once Clarke left. The rush and crushing sadness still thinking how she left Clarke alone and pregnant to endure it and childbirth alone was too much. She knew she had to speak with Clarke when they had more time, but she could put aside their conversation for more important matters. The next person she could think of to speak to was Costia and without a second thought, Lexa left the manor. She remembered Costia's hotel as they left the train station. She knocked on her room door a few times, too eager to wait. Costia swung the door open, standing in her shift with her hair down and flustered.
“Lexa?” She said.
“Can we talk?” Lexa requested.
“Now isn't exactly a – ”
Lexa rushed in, not taking no for an answer. She barged in and paused to see a woman in her shift and corset, tying up her hair into a bun. Costia trailed in behind her with a frown. Lexa turned around, bashful and gulped.
“I—I'm sorry,” Lexa whispered.
“Give us a moment,” Costia said, entering the bedroom.
Lexa stepped to the balcony and heard the curtains be drawn over the windows. When the curtains were pulled back again, Costia was more presentable and dressed and the woman was gone. Lexa sat on one of the bedroom lounge chairs.
“I didn't mean to interrupt... Whatever that was.” Lexa said. “I didn't know you had a – ”
“I don't, but I have needs,” Costia said, sitting on the edge of her bed.
Lexa picked up the thick scent of Costia's heat. She blushed.
“Oh, maybe I shouldn't be here,” Lexa suggested.
“Come to no Lexa, you've been around me during my heat plenty of times. I trust you.” Costia said. “Have you been keeping up with your regimen?”
Lexa nodded. Costia folded her hands on her lap.
“You've come all this way, you might as well tell me what got you so flustered,” Costia said. “Or should we speak at a cafe with tea?”
Lexa bit her bottom lip. She didn't want to be in public to speak about this. It was difficult to speak about now and for anyone eavesdropping, they wouldn't understand.
“Clarke was pregnant,” Lexa said.
Costia nodded. Her expression calm.
“So she safely had the baby after all,” Costia stated.
“You knew?” Lexa said.
“I did. Bellamy kept me in form during his letters.” Costia confirmed.
Lexa's jaw clenched.
“How could you keep that from me?” She hissed.
“I only knew seven months into her pregnancy. Neither of us was sure it would last and he stopped writing about it and so I had Raven sent to watch after her should she survive the birth.” Costia said.
Lexa stood, seething and her face red.
“How dare you.” Lexa spat. “She is my daughter. I have a right to know.”
“You had things in San Francisco that needed your undivided attention. You were making so much progress that if you knew and left before it was time all the hard work you went through would come undone.” Costia said.
“And if Clarke were killed during childbirth what would you have done?” Lexa said.
Costia sighed. She knew the risk of keeping this from Lexa. She knew how badly things could go if Clarke didn't survive and she would be the one to break the news to her. Lexa was in a delicate state when they arrived. She was homesick and missed Clarke daily and had many personal and physical obstacles to endure that Costia was sure would break her spirit had she not been stable enough to keep Lexa focused. And if she were the one to be the bearer of bad news Costia would be the one to tear Lexa down just as quickly.
“I would have told you,” Costia answered.
“Is that why you came to New York with me? You wanted to be sure Clarke was okay?” Lexa said.
“Yes, but I needed to see the baby for myself, to know if the child would show signs of a werewolf or a witch, possibly both,” Costia stated. “This baby is like no other. I'm sure you know that.”
Lexa's anger washed into dread. What if Madi was another werewolf or a witch. That was something neither Clarke or Lexa thought of. They wouldn't know how to deal with it either.
“Is that possible?” Lexa asked.
“And the conception of your child wasn't supposed to be possible either. Clarke is a witch and from my understanding still classified as human and not able to take a wolf's seed.” Costia reminded. “But, such things are theories that could be subject to change much like our kind. I can not say what your child will be, but she will need guidance.”
Lexa knew she was right. While she would have preferred Costia to tell her about the pregnancy, she decided for the better of Lexa's progress. That was something Clarke thought about too. They made the harder decision for the better good.
“I will guide Madi to the changes when that time comes.” Lexa insisted.
Costia raised a brow.
“And you know how to care for a second-generation werewolf?” Costia asked. “You may have seen them in San Francisco, but to raise one of your own in human society would be far more difficult. What do you plan to do when Madi starts to shift, say during a walk in the park?”
This was a situation Lexa had not yet considered. Madi was too young, but she was still her child. The genetics of either parent would show through. Lexa can't say which would be better. They both had a drawback to what could happen should they be found out. No human would understand.
“And you would be suitable to raise a child?” Lexa rebutted.
“I've had the experience,” Costia admitted.
Lexa's face softened. She knew a fair amount about Costia, but something like this wouldn't be what she expected. She had the chance to meet Costia's father. He was protective and demanding of her, always telling her to put her responsibility and the pack first. Lexa assumed she had no time for romantic affections and he knew Costia's interest in women. That never bothered him like the community of their town.
“I didn't know you were with child,” Lexa whispered.
“It was a long time ago and it was for a brief moment,” Costia said.
“I'm sorry,” Lexa said.
Costia shook it off.
“I'm not implying you leave your daughter under my care.” Costia clarified. “I rather Madi, Clarke, and you come back to San Francisco where the pack can help guide all of you.”
It was practical. Lexa had come to enjoy her time there, in the safety of the pack who were both encouraging and supportive. The issues were if Clarke would agree to move into an entire community of werewolves. She had her business here and her manor. Truthfully, Lexa yearned to return to the city. The feeling she got with others like her was welcoming than any other place she traveled, although she missed the open forest from time to time.
“Think about it. There is plenty of time before Madi begins to show her abilities.” Costia suggested. “I plan to spend a month in New York before returning. Why don't you and Clarke have dinner with me and we can talk about this.”
Lexa rubbed her hand down the curve of her knee, smoothing her trousers.
“I'll ask her. I will get back to you.” Lexa said, standing. “I'm sorry about the interruption earlier.”
Costia scoffed, unbothered.
“We're well past formalities wouldn't you think so?” Costia said.
Lexa nodded, smiling and let herself out.
“Are you going to tell me what's bothering you?” Raven asked.
Clarke glanced over her canvas, her brush gliding across her painting in a smear of pink. Raven sat in front of her, holding Lucas. Clarke compared the distance between Raven and the flower bushes framing behind her and went back to her wooden palette to mix. Maya sat at the table holding Madi.
“I'm fine,” Clarke said.
Raven scoffed. She may be bound to watching after Lucas, but she was sharp enough to be informed of what happened at the manor.
“Lexa is back, but I know she isn't here so that bothers you I'm sure,” Raven said. “Lexa didn't look happy when she left. She isn't taking the news about Madi well?”
Clarke frowned, pausing her brush above her painting. She sighed. That was something she didn't want to think about, hence her painting set up. It kept her busy and now with the free time she had Clarke was able to pick up where she left off before the attack on her village. Except, this time painting did little to improve her mood. She couldn't stop thinking about Lexa.
“Not exactly,” Clarke admitted.
Raven looked at Clarke.
“You think this will drift you both farther apart instead?” She asked.
Clarke felt a flare of panic settle into her chest. That was something she tried not to jump to. She knew Lexa. They had spent nearly two decades together, but a secret like this wasn't small either. Clarke kept her eyes on her painting to hide her fear.
“Keep your head down,” Clarke said, going back to mixing her paint. “She feels guilty, that's for sure.”
“You don't think she'll stay?” Raven noted.
Clarke put her paintbrush down, exhaling.
“I don't know,” Clarke said. “I just... There are more important matters. Bellamy told me there was a death at the pier, at the shipping company no doubt.”
Raven raised a brow.
“I think they can handle that. You need to speak with Lexa.” Raven suggested.
“I think right now Lexa rather have space,” Clarke said.
The backyard door opened. Lexa paused at the patio door, a stern expression in place. Clarke gulped.
“Thank you for your time, Raven. We'll pick up the next session tomorrow.” Clarke said, cleaning off her brushes of any paint.
Raven and Maya left, greeting Lexa on their way in. Clarke stored her brushes on the ledge of her easel and picked up a cloth to wipe her palette. Lexa hadn't moved.
“Please, come sit. Maya made tea a minute ago.” Clarke said, pointing to the garden table with the tea set on top.
Lexa approached her.
“This garden is beautiful.” Lexa complimented.
“It only took me a year to figure out how to grow the plants,” Clarke stated, stepping away from her easel.
“You paint?” Lexa said, looking over the art piece. “It's wonderful. I remember your charcoal and pen and ink drawings during our travels.”
“With all the free time I have now, why not?” Clarke said. “I used to take lessons as a child before father passed.”
Lexa knew of her artistic skill. Clarke would often spend her time traveling with a second sketchbook and charcoal. She drew when she couldn't sleep and that often meant Lexa was often her subject of choice. She made sure to have an extra box of charcoal in her suitcase, but Clarke was always prepared. They moved to the table and Clarke served them both a cup of tea.
“I spoke with Costia today.” Lexa started. “After I saw Madi I just... I needed some guidance.”
Clarke handed Lexa her cup with a saucer and sat down with her serving. She swirled a spoon into her cup. If Lexa went to Costia it made Clarke wonder if she didn't feel she could confide in her instead. Lexa frowned.
“She knew about the pregnancy, from one of Bellamy's letters,” Lexa said.
“I'm sure she had a reason,” Clarke said.
“Yes, the same reason as you. She rather me to stay focused on my progress in San Francisco, but that doesn't make this any less painful.” Lexa replied. “Costia thinks Madi might be a werewolf or a witch, but there is a possibility she may carry both genes.”
Clarke took a sip of her tea.
“Should I be worried?” Clarke asked.
“We don't know. If Madi is a werewolf that means eventually she will shift.” Lexa stated. “You won't be able to deal with that and if she's a witch there are far fewer of them than werewolves.”
Clarke put her cup down a furrow in her brow. Lexa's shoulders bunched up and her jaw clenched. She had much to consider about this. For all they knew, Madi would be an ordinary human, but many things that weren't expected to happen did, hence Madi's birth.
“We can raise Madi elsewhere. San Francisco is a very welcoming community. We would be accepted.” Lexa said.
That wasn't what Clarke wanted. She grew accustomed to New York, just how Lexa did to San Francisco.
“It appears that way with how much you've changed,” Clarke commented.
Lexa fiddled with her tie and blushed.
“It was strange at first, having to get fitted for men's clothing,” Lexa admitted. “But it's freeing. I can fight and shift comfortably in this rather than in a corset.”
“It looks stunning on you,” Clarke said.
Lexa picked up her cup, finally taking a gulp. The talk with Costia was what Lexa expected to keep herself grounded. But that still didn't put things at rest such as deciding if they should move. Clarke didn't look open to the idea.
“I was wrong for me to hide Madi from you and I'm sorry for doing it, but I needed to do something for the better for you for a change,” Clarke said. “You've sacrificed so much to travel with me.”
“Clarke, I chose to travel the world with you and I don't regret a single day with you. Can we be honest and open with each other from now on?” Lexa asked. “I want to be part of Madi's life now. Can we agree with that?”
“Of course. I want you to be a part of it too. You're right, I should have told you, but I made the choice for your sake.” She said. “I didn't want to hurt you. You're important to me as much as Madi is.”
Lexa stretched a hand out to Clarke, clasping her hand over Clarke's. They smiled at each other, a sigh of relief washing over them.
Clarke and Lexa are given a moment of peace before Maya returned to the garden with Madi crying and fussing in her arms. Then Clarke was left to take Madi and put her to sleep for her afternoon nap. While waiting, Maya served Lexa snacks with their tea, biscuits, and informing her of their lunch. It's another several minutes until Clarke returned, Madi now sounds asleep.
“How was your meeting with Bellamy?” Lexa asked.
Clarke picked up a biscuit and dunked it into her tea. She sighed.
“Well, it was... we have a bit of a problem,” Clarke admitted. “There was a werewolf killed, quite possibly on the premise of my shipping company. The body was found in the bay.”
“Do the police know about this?”
“No, Bellamy dealt with it that morning before dawn. He and several others cleaned up the mess. This man was part of Costia's pack.” Clarke informed.
Lexa's jaw clenched. This couldn't be allowed. Death of a member was not taken lightly. Lexa exhaled, releasing the tension from her shoulders.
“Who is the Mayor of New York City and the Senator?” Lexa said.
“Alice Fleming and the senator is Jonathan Lockwood,” Clarke replied. “Bellamy has notified them to no doubt.”
Lexa shifted closer to the table. Her hands gripping the edge.
“Clarke, this is a serious investigation. Humans can not know of our existence.” Lexa warned. “It was easier to hide in small towns and villages, but this city is highly populated.”
Clarke nodded. These were always a concern of her when she arrived, but vampires and werewolf attacks still happened somehow. While they were often at the dead of night and in more rural areas with only a handful of less in poorer areas of the city. This attack was closer inland.
“I know and it will be dealt with. I trust Bellamy and Octavia to get this done.” Clarke said.
Lexa raised a brow.
“You aren't going to be investigating?” Lexa asked.
Clarke put down her biscuit.
“It's a difficult decision, but I can't put myself in danger,” Clarke explained.
“It's always been a part of our job,” Lexa said. “It's what we always did, put ourselves at risk.”
“It isn't that simple anymore. What about Madi? I can't leave her an orphan should I die.” Clarke reminded.
“And you're okay with this? Others will need help.” Lexa said.
Clarke frowned. She couldn't come to terms with this. She knew only about the life of a hunter. It was her life's work. It was how she met Lexa and there was still justice to be served with her father. Then there was also Madi. She was just a baby.
“I'll have to be,” Clarke said.
“Then this will be our life then?” Lexa questioned. “A normal human life, trying to blend into something we are far from.”
Clarke rubbed frustratingly at her chin. The statement was bothersome and something Clarke didn't want to think about or say but hearing it from Lexa was much odder.
“It might be,” Clarke stated.
Lexa shook her head.
“I can't live a life like this. Who else is strong enough, wise, and skilled to solve this?” Lexa asked.
“I understand you're disagreement, but there is much more to consider now Lexa,” Clarke said.
“I'm sorry Clarke, but I can not sit around and not help.” Lexa denied.
“What if you get hurt? You just saw Madi.” Clarke said.
Lexa tugged at the ends of her coat.
“I'm sorry Clarke. I just... Excuse me.” Lexa said, exiting the garden.
Chapter 4: Part IV
I'll be announcing updates for the fic on my tumblr. I can be found under the username TeamKame. Writer junkie was taken, unfortunately.
Out of curiosity, would anyone be interested in a fic that is about Lexa's adventures spent in San Francisco? I'm planning to work on oneshots of Lexa's time with Clarke through Europe after they met in England. So long as I can keep them to one shots. I tend to go beyond that. That's how this entire series came about. I planned it to be a one shot first.
Costia wasn't surprised to see Lexa outside her room door. She looked troubled, her posture nothing like a strong and put together Alpha. Lexa proven to be different than the expectations many had come to see with evolved wolves. That was what Costia’s father was sure would be the reason for Lexa to be invoked in greater things. A thought Costia has pondered since the day her father mentioned it. Lexa stood in the hallway, mid knock and awkward in their silence and her eyes filled with worry. The dip in her brow was enough for Costia to know she needed more guidance.
“Lexa, we meet again. I was hoping you would return with Clarke this time.” Costia said. “I'm guessing your talk with Clarke didn't go as smoothly?”
Lexa sighed, her hands stuffed into her coat pockets and her shoulders bunched up to her jaw.
“I spoke to Clarke about the possibility of Madi being a wolf.” Lexa said.
“And she doesn't want to leave New York?” Costia asked, watching Lexa nod.
“But being here, in a crowded city puts us both at risk.” Lexa whispered, glancing over her shoulder as a hotel door closed behind her. “If only she could see how things are back in San Francisco. She would change her mind.”
“Lexa, her concern is her daughter as it is expected to be. Clarke wants a stable and good life for her.” Costia said. “Is that not what you want for your daughter also?”
Lexa gulped. The realization of a child under her care coming to her in full force. Madi was her child. She was her responsibility just as much as she was Clarke’s. Except, Clarke had time to bond with Madi and come to put her priorities first for her. Lexa arrived and she was suddenly given a responsibility she was not prepared for. The only solution to her was to have the guidance of other wolves to help her. Lexa couldn't see herself as a parent. She was just starting to understand herself with her changes and the pack.
“I... I'm sure living with the pack can supply what we need.” Lexa explained.
And while that much was true. Lexa has come to find them useful in her time of learning and exploring her abilities. She had never seen a community as welcoming. She had no reason to doubt them. They were far more open to new ideas and changes.
“And it bothers you that Clarke is thinking like a human regardless of her being a witch?” Costia said.
Lexa frowned. But what Lexa hates the most was how different they were. There was something to keep them apart. Clarke would never be a wolf and Lexa wouldn’t bite her to change that. She fell in love with how she was and it had no changed for the ten okay years tougher. The change, the evolution the pack called it, made everything feel even more unattainable. Their life together and their future still something of a distant idea.
“She wants to give up hunting.” Lexa stated.
That bothered Lexa. The hunting. The one thing they had in common and did together as an effective team would come to an end. Lexa didn’t want to let it go. She had met Clarke from hunting and they became romantically involved while on their hunt in Europe. She had something to latch to and it was enough for them to be happy.
“You don't?” Costia asked.
And while the thought of having a family was not possible and something Lexa accepted it seemed all the more surreal to find out she had a child. Clarke has given her a child. An adorable baby girl with her green eyes and brown hair. Lexa gulped. A tremor ripping through her spine. She straightened her stance.
“I-I have much more to explore and know about. I'm just beginning to understand pack laws and my potential. I can't be... I'm not ready for any of this!” Lexa admitted.
Lexa turned away, struck with shame to acknowledge this. The feeling she had curling and burning in the pit of her stomach. Fear. An overwhelming feeling Lexa had not felt so intensely since the day she was attacked by a wolf in her village farm. The sensation was foreign. She fueled on anger, adrenaline, lust even, but fear was a distant emotion. And to have this fear over a child made it the more unusual. Lexa pulled her hands out of her pockets, bunched up at her sides, shaking. She couldn't blame Clarke. This was her fault too. Lexa gave her this child and she left her alone to deal with her for a year, but now here with Clarke, Lexa didn't want this. She wasn't expecting any of this. She had plans with Clarke, to show her the world she saw in San Francisco. The cities she visited in California. The people she became friends with. It was supposed to be something they could share and explore together.
“But she is your responsibility just as much as it is for Clarke.” Costia clarified. “You can not reject this Lexa nor ignore it. Clarke will not forgive you for it if you do. She needs you.”
Lexa sighed. Costia was right. She knew coming to her Costia would remain level-headed. Her father taught her well. As long as she knew her, Costia was calm, no matter the situation and Lexa hoped with time she would be the same. Lexa nodded. She knew she couldn't lose Clarke either. That would be one of her biggest regrets.
“I don't think I can stay idle, knowing that one of our own was killed near Clarke's shipping company.” Lexa said.
Costia stepped out of the doorway and closed it behind her.
“There was an attack?” She asked.
“Clarke was dealing with it by having Bellamy and Octavia investigate.” Lexa said.
“As pack commander, I must deal with it too.” Costia replied.
Lexa was overcome with guilt. Seeing her discomfort, Costia beckoned Lexa to follow her. They leave the hotel and make their way down the block. Lexa was brooding during their stroll, which Costia didn’t question. She knew Lexa was still bothered by the change of command in her pack. They entered the entrance gate to Central Park and continued their walk.
“Why must you punish yourself?” Costia asked, Lexa froze, glancing at her. “You shouldn't feel you owe me or the pack anything. What happened that day in San Francisco was expected. It's dangerous work being Commander.”
Lexa shokenhee head. She couldn’t get how Costia could not still be as bothered about it.
“I rather not talk about it.” Lexa mumbled.
“Alright then. In that case, Clarke thinking about her daughter doesn't make her at fault to not to want to live
under pack law.” Costia said. “Shouldn't you be thinking the same?”
“I do, but... Hunting is a lot easier than parenting.” Lexa said, bitterly chuckling.
Costia smiled, glancing back at her. Lexa needed to say this. Her true feelings about the entire situation needed to come to the surface. Costia had a way of getting that out of Lexa, much to her dislike.
“Every human isn't your responsibility.” Costia stated. “Even more so with a child to tend after. Parenting is a terrifying thing.”
“Yes, and I hate that this responsibility feels dumped on me, unfairly.” Lexa said. “I've fought monsters children would only see in their nightmares, but a baby leaves me utterly defenseless. It's pathetic.”
“You will adapt and be a fit mother with time.” Costia assured.
“How can you be so calm about this?” Lexa said.
“I've seen you overcome many obstacles Lexa. I've seen you at your worst and defeated, but each time you've come back, stronger and wiser.” Costia said. “I have faith you can become a parent too. I don't mean that because of your strength, having a child requires inner strength.”
Lexa was struck with a flare of curiosity. Costia had a wistful gaze, an inkling of information Costia had not shared.
“Have you seen others fail at this?” Lexa asked.
“I have. The parents have tried to do both, hunt and raise a child. It wasn't always with a good outcome.” Costia answered. “I've seen them lose their child, split up with their partners, or orphan their child.”
Lexa's stomach twisted with dread. She couldn't let this happen. The possibility of losing Clarke. The idea of being the reason their child was killed was much more dreadful.
“You must be considerate of the little one you have and should guard her with your life.” Costia suggested.
“I have to speak with Clarke.” Lexa said.
“I hope you do, but in the meantime we can speak with the Mayor and Senator.” Costia said, turning back around and toward the park exit. “I've been long friends with them both.”
Costia flagged down a carriage from the sidewalk.
Raven stopped by Clarke’s study room after dinner. Clarke knew she would ask about her discussion with Lexa. Clarke never skipped dinner, unless she was in too much of a bad mood to eat. Raven entered alone, Lucas most likely put to bed along with Madi.
“Clarke, are you okay?” Raven asked.
Clarke looked over her forms to her company. The majority of the papers a list of exports and imports expected to arrive and ship out.
“I've been busy Raven.” Clarke said.
Raven sat on the chair in front of Clarke's desk.
“Clarke, I'm not stupid. I know Lexa and you argued.” Raven said. “Speak to me, please?”
Clarke put her fountain pen down, her arms folded over her paperwork with a scowl.
“As far as I'm concerned, Lexa wants nothing to do with Madi or being a parent.” Clarke stated.
“Did she clearly say that?” Raven asked.
“No, but she rather dedicate her time hunting rather than thinking for Madi's wellbeing and that's enough for me to get the message.” Clarke said.
“Clarke, this is still new to her. She hasn't even gotten the chance to bond with Madi. That'll change.” Raven declined.
“She hasn't even asked to hold her.” Clarke said. “I just... If this will be the reason for us to – ”
“You're her mate, Clarke.” Raven said. “That means you have a significant meaning to her. She wouldn't just end things between you over Madi.”
Clarke rubbed a hand down her cheek and exhaled.
“I hope you're right, because right now I seem to be the only one who wants to be a parent in this relationship.” Clarke said.
There was a knock at the door and Maya entered.
“I apologize Ms. Griffin, but I just wanted to inform you that Mr. Blake has arrived with his friends.” Maya informed. “I've already served them drinks.”
“Thank you Maya.” Clarke said.
Bellamy stood in front of the doused fireplace, his hand leaning on top of the edge of it. Octavia Sat at the couch with Miller. Bellamy approached her, his hand stuffed in his pocket and his face stern.
“Clarke, I apologize for the unscheduled visit.” Bellamy started. “Please sit, I have more news of Pinkerton's death.”
Clarke served herself a cup of coffee. Bellamy sat across from her, picking up a discarded flute of red wine from the ottoman.
“Mr. Pinkerton was speaking with someone weeks before his death. I've been told they were seedy deals.” Bellamy said.
Clarke put in a lump of sugar to her cup then stirred.
“What kind?” She asked.
“The opium trade, or at least unstamped opium.” Bellamy said.
Octavia scooted closer to the ottoman.
“He was using the company to smuggle it.” Octavia explained.
Miller rubbed a hand down his trousers, his lips pursed.
“The man he was doing his dealings with was possibly from a military background as he carried around a military grade gun.” He said.
“I don't quite understand why a military man would do such dealings with an opium trader.” Clarke said. “Has he had a history of such dealings? You're saying this was a trade gone wrong?”
“It's possible, but I did some more searching and found that Mr. Pinkerton had a bad reputation for years.” He said.
Clarke frowned. This couldn't be the reason why. She had a feeling that it couldn't be at least, but with the evidence they found it was clear.
“That doesn't solidify those claims for me.” Clarke said. “As far as I know, his history made him the perfect target. Who would suspect foul play on a lowlife like him? Have you found where he was staying?”
“Yes.” Bellamy answered. “We looked through his shack of a home ourselves. We found this.”
Bellamy fished out a small notebook from his coat pocket and handed it to Clarke. The book was worn down on the cover and some of the pages folded at the corners.
“He's referred to this man as General in his book, but something else. Pinkerton had access to the black market trades too.” Bellamy said.
Clarke flipped through the pages.
“I will look through this myself, thank you.” Clarke said.
“Have a good evening, Clarke.” Bellamy said, buttoning his jacket and heading out the lounge.
Miller and Octavia followed him out. Raven entered the lounge, serving herself a cup of whiskey from the liquors set aside on the décor. Clarke carefully skimmed through the book.
“This case sounds serious.” Raven commented, taking a sip from her cup.
“You might need to help them.” Raven said.
Clarke closed the book.
“I'm afraid so.” She agreed.
Maya zipped down the hall as a knock came from the front door. Clarke put the book down. Raven looked behind Clarke with her drink in hand and go up to leave. Lexa entered the lounge, facing Clarke with her hands folded over her coat.
“May we talk?” Lexa requested.
Clarke motioned to one of the couches. Lexa took a seat. She didn't know where to begin. She needed to finish their conversation this morning, but then there was the time spent with Costia trying to solve the case. Clarke looked more stand-offish sitting in front of her. It was clear they needed to have another serious talk. Lexa poured herself coffee and took a gulp.
“Is something wrong?” Clarke asked.
Lexa gripped on to her cup.
“I spoke with Costia today about the case Bellamy is working on. We met with the Senator and the Mayor.” Lexa informed. “This case is much bigger than you know. Costia requested she speak with you tomorrow morning.”
“Alright, have her come over tomorrow morning then.” Clarke agreed.
The silence between them was awkward and unusual. Lexa glanced down at her polished shoes. She can't remember a time having this tension between Clarke. Lexa put her cup down.
“We have to talk about what happened this morning.” Clarke started.
“Yes.” She said.
“You just stormed out of here. I get that we're at a disagreement with Madi's upbringing, but I can't help but think... Are we okay?” Clarke asked.
Lexa faced her. Her face pale and her bottom lip quivering. Seeing Clarke like this, scared about the future of their relationship and angry.
“Of course Clarke.” Lexa said.
Clarke's jaw clenched. A look of anger and sadness in her eyes.
“I don't think we are.” Clarke admitted.
Lexa's stomach fluttered and twisted. She dreaded this. The possibility of their disagreement leading to serious consequences. But Clarke looks to her, asking for once she tell her the truth and still wants this to work. Clarke wanted this whole situation to work and Lexa couldn't be sure if she could make it okay.
“I get that you don't want to raise Madi here, Lexa, but ever since you arrived you've been distant with her.” Clarke said. “You rather go back into hunting and not for a second think about Madi. She's your daughter too. I can't... I need to know if this will work or if you want to be apart of not just Madi's life, but mine too.”
Lexa sighed. She didn't want to lose Clarke, but she knew things would change now. There were other responsibilities to look after. Clarke needed her. While she seamlessly shifted into becoming a mother and Lexa less elegantly, Clarke still needed her and Lexa needed her too. Lexa looked Clarke over, the pull of attraction swirling through Lexa's head. Clarke was hers. She had her mark. She was officially her mate and to lose that and the deeper connection Lexa had, was a fate worse than death.
“I want more than anything to be with you.” Lexa agreed.
“Madi and you are my family. I will do cases when I can, but Madi will always come first.”Clarke said.
“I understand. I'll admit this isn't easy for me. I haven't a clue about how to be a parent but...” Lexa said, standing and approaching Clarke. “I love you Clarke, more than anything.”
Clarke smiled and Lexa dipped down to kiss her forehead. Lexa straightened up her stance and smoothed her hands on the sides of her trousers.
“I should go to bed. We have much to discuss with Costia tomorrow morning.” Lexa said.
“I'll see you in the morning.” Clarke agreed.
“You're in a good mood this morning, Ms. Griffin.” Maya said, exiting carriage.
Clarke climbed down, joining her on the sidewalk. The bustle of the city's early morning workers zipped through the streets. They weaved through the crowd.
“Lexa and I have come to an agreement.” Clarke said.
Maya smiled, gripping on to her basket. They entered the city market full of stalls.
“I'm glad, maybe now the two of you can work together to work with Madi.” Maya said. “She hasn't asked to hold her.”
“Yes, well, she hasn't yet adjusted.” Clarke explained.
They entered a bakery shop as the owner put a batch of fresh rolls on the shopping rack. Maya knew to not ask about it any further. Clarke put the rolls of fresh bread into Maya's basket.
“Are you expecting company miss?” Maya asked.
Clarke picked up several pastries. They moved to the register. The man in front of them paid for his rolls and turned around.
“Clarke, hello. We meet again.” Cage said.
“Mr. Wallace, uh this is my housemaid Maya.” Clarke said.
Cage greeted her and stuffed his paper wrapped rolls into his coat pocket.
“I was hoping we'd meet again. I wanted to invite you to dinner tonight.” Cage said. “I'll be going with a few of my friends.”
“Oh, I'll be too busy today.” Clarke declined.
“Well, how about tomorrow? There's going to be a huge dinner party at a ballroom too.” Cage asked. “I would love to introduce you to my guest. You'll be the talk of the party.” Cage chirped.
The bakery shop door rang and Lexa rushed inside, spotting Clarke. Cage adjusted his top hat, seeing Lexa's serious gaze.
“Apologies for the interruption.” Lexa said. “Clarke, there is some news I must share with you.”
“Excuse me Mr. Wallace. Maya would you--” Clarke said.
“Of course Ms. Griffin.” Maya said, pulling out a pouch of coins to pay.
She left the bakery with Lexa and she bustled through the crowd. Clarke jogged to catch up. Lexa scoffed, side glancing at Clarke.
“Who was that man?” Lexa asked.
Lexa's jaw was clenched and her nostrils flared as she heavily exhaled.
“That was Cage Wallace. He's harmless.” Clarke said. “You need not to worry. I only have eyes for you Lexa.”
Lexa bitterly chuckled.
“I'm not – that isn't what I meant.” Lexa clarified.
Clarke smiled and laughed. Lexa's face flushed red with embarrassment. She took pride in being calm and collective, but Clarke had always brought something unsettling inside her. An intense rush of emotions all piled into one.
“Oh, I know what I saw.” Clarke said.
Lexa bit her bottom lip and stuffed her hands into her trouser pockets.
“Erm, I have gotten word from Costia. This time the Mayor and Senator contacted her.” Lexa said, in need of changing the subject. “These are attacks are happening more frequently. We just received the news that two more werewolves were killed, both with the use of silver bullets, multiple times.”
Clarke frowned. An attack this soon? Whoever it was had no fear of getting caught. It was undoubtedly a human, werewolves had no use for weapons.
“Were these wolves criminals?” Clarke asked.
“Yes, they had a history of some sort with the law.” Lexa answered.
“Who could possibly be targeting werewolves?” Clarke muttered. “Are there any feral werewolves on this land?”
Lexa walked up to the manor gate and opened it for Clarke.
“There are some but they were forced to move to the forrest years ago.” Lexa said. “This is a very important case Clarke. We must take it.”
“I'm afraid so.” She agreed.
They walked up to the manor porch.
“The sooner we deal with this the better.” Clarke stated.
Chapter 5: Part V
Bellamy, Octavia, Murphy, Miller, and Raven were already in the lounge, seated when Clarke and Lexa arrived. Clarke knew from their faces the news they were about to discuss wasn’t as hopeful as she expected. Costia stood by the window, making a cup of tea Maya handed her before leaving. Costia approached them, looking Clarke over and gave a smile of relief.
“I'm glad to hear you're doing well since your birth,” Costia said. “You're positively glowing. How has motherhood treated you?”
Clarke chuckled. She certainly didn’t feel that way with the amount of time Madi took during her days, even with the help of Maya and Raven.
“It's tiring, to be honest,” Clarke said.
Costia chuckled, taking a sip from her cup. That was expected.
“I've received news about the case's situation by Lexa,” Clarke stated.
Costia's welcoming smile shifted to a firm authoritative expression. If it was as bad as everyone reacted maybe it was time Clarke should help.
“Have you come up with a plan?” Clarke asked.
Costia paced to the couches, putting her cup on the ottoman. The eyes of their guests watching Costia's every move. Costia seated herself between Raven and Bellamy.
“I haven't decided how to deal with this case just yet, but I am going to have scouts throughout the city. The new crime scene of these two wolves will be investigated.” Costia announced.
That was standard and aside from having to work quickly before the police showed Clarke couldn’t see why that would be enough to worry everyone. They’ve dealt with cases like this before. It was easy enough for them to do it without Clarke.
“Do you need my help?” Clarke said.
“Officially, as of this morning, the Senator has not approved assisted help from witches for this situation,” Costia announced.
That would give everyone enough to worry. While Clarke had freedom of range in Louisiana she couldn’t do the same in New York. Clarke knew little of their system, but then would that mean Clarke shouldn’t be here either? Lexa frowned.
“He can't be serious?” Lexa outcried. “She can help us solve this.”
“He is protective of his land and his people,” Costia explained. “I will be speaking with him again to bypass this.”
Clarke nodded. She somewhat of a better understanding of the laws from Raven. While Costia was kind enough to let rules go in favor of the town and her people it was much smaller of an area in comparison to New York City. Lexa wasn't pleased with the outcome.
“There must be something you can do. You're the Commander, Costia.” Lexa insisted.
“We have a system so such things would not be misused,” Costia said. “We'll be taking a vote with other local officials of the state.”
That explained how easily Costia was able to take control of the situation in Louisiana. Bellamy was the Mayor and she was friends with the Senator too, Clarke was sure. The living of Louisiana was different than the bustling city life. The people here have a different way of life with different ways of thinking than simple farmlands.
“Is there anything else I can do to help?” Clarke questioned.
“I thank you for the offer Clarke, but I will let you know otherwise if things change. It would be a great help that we use any of your resources, particularly research for this case?”
“Go right ahead, I have a large selection of books.” Clarke agreed.
Bellamy groaned, glancing down at his cup in his vice grip.
“I need something stronger than tea.” He sighed.
Lexa picked up a bottle of whiskey from the decor and placed it on to the ottoman. Bellamy poured himself a glass.
“Neither of us knows who could have done this, but we've already ruled out it being a wolf?” Clarke said.
“I’m certain it isn’t, because such a crime results in death as a punishment, but as far as I remember there are no feral wolves in New York. They were banished years ago.” Costia said. “Father saw no reason to have them roaming around causing havoc between humans and us.”
Clarke wondered if there was more than just Costia’s pack that lived here. The amount of power she had must have upset ones having no interest in joining a pack. That would be a good motive.
“Then is it not possible they could band together to seek revenge?” Clarke suggested.
“If so, why not target the Senator or Mayor? Even Costia herself? These are people of power to change laws, instead, it's a lowlife they kill.” Bellamy said.
That would be unusual if it’s change or revenge they seek. Miller picked up a spare cup and filled it with whiskey. The lack of motive or suspect had everyone on edge. Vampires and werewolves weren’t as organized or skilled in such elegant plans, but who was to say that like the wolves in this room they too evolved?
“It can't be witches. They were restricted to their locations with the exception of Clarke because she's half-witch.” Miller said.
Clarke raised a brow. She knew about witches, but it was just talking with little evidence to believe what she heard. Clarke didn’t have the chance to meet any herself, but to find out there were also rules for them was something she had never heard of either. Why wouldn't they tell her this?
“How would that make a difference?” Clarke asked.
“Most witches are now so isolated they wouldn't be suitable for human civilization. We did that for the safety of everyone both human and not.” Costia said. “Really, it can be anyone that would be against the pack.”
“Then why not humans?” Lexa reminded.
Everyone's face darkened with dread. The tension in the room increased. Bellamy hovered his cup over the ottoman as he went to put it down. Costia’s lips pursed into a narrow line.
“If that's the case it would start a war that we ended centuries ago because it almost wiped out humans and werewolves,” Costia said.
There was a pause between the room. Clarke glanced at everyone wondering why hasn’t anyone informed her of something this monumental? She had worked closely enough with everyone and would have expected things to be out in the open for her. Then again she was just a human, one who happened to be in love with a wolf. But from what she gathered, being one’s mate meant she had importance, except not enough for all of the werewolf affairs it appeared.
“We'll keep our eyes open on the streets,” Octavia suggested.
“The only thing we can do is wait. Keep me informed and I will set a meeting sometime at the end of the week to speak with the Senator and Mayor again.” Costia instructed. “However, Lexa and I will see one of the crime scenes and Bellamy and Octavia will handle the other. Mr. Miller, please see what you can get from the locals on the streets.”
Everyone began to file out of the lounge except for Lexa, Costia, and Clarke. Clarke debated returning back to Madi, but couldn’t without having to speak with Lexa again. She was going to be out in the field with this investigation and without her for a change. Seeing Clarke approach her, Lexa excused herself from Costia and went to Clarke.
“Are you alright?” Lexa asked.
“Please be careful. This may strictly be werewolf affairs, but I still worry how quickly this can escalate.” Clarke whispered.
Lexa bit her bottom lip, trying to calm her nerves. While she had done plenty of cases that she lost count it still made her anxious. Lexa clasped her hands together to stop them from shaking.
“I will. I promise.” Lexa said, planting a kiss on Clarke's cheek. “I'll be back as quick as I can.”
Clarke nodded, watching Lexa leave the manor with Costia.
The wolf's house they arrived at was rented by a man named Timothy McNeal. The apartment was as they expected it to be, a run down tiny shack of a home, small enough to fit a bed with a table and a single chair. Lexa frowned stepping over a pile of soiled clothing and to the round table.
“The only thing I smell is Mr. McNeal's spoiled food and filthy laundry,” Lexa commented.
Costia approached the dresser next to the single bed. She started opening drawers and sorting through the contents. The first two drawers Costia pulled up two pairs of socks and trousers. It was a little bare for someone who had lived here.
“That may be so, but we must be thorough in our search,” Costia said. “What exactly could he have done illegally?”
Lexa spotted two suitcases stored under the bed and dragged them out. Costia slammed a drawer and moved to the bottom one. The previous ones were empty.
“Have you and Clarke made amends?” Costia asked.
Lexa scoffed, seeing a tiny padlock on the suitcase and ripped them both off with her hands. She tossed the lock to the floor. Costia glanced over her shoulder with a glare. Lexa shrugged. They weren't supposed to leave anything out of place, but Lexa was impatient and this foul shack was more irritating by the second. If they can make things look like a break-in gone wrong the better.
“I suppose we have,” Lexa said.
“You're not sure?” Costia asked, moving to the other side of the dresser drawers. “No doubt, this relationship will be difficult.”
“I know that.” Lexa rebutted. “I’ve considered the possibility that Madi might or might not have powers.”
“What will happen then once Madi presents?” Costia said.
That always left Lexa stumped. She had no idea how to deal with Madi having powers or shifting. She wasn’t sure how to even take care of her now, but that scared Lexa less now. She was willing to learn. Lexa sorted through the suitcase, finding just a bunch of clothes and novels stuffed into it. She closed the first suitcase and opened the second one.
“We will decide when it happens I suppose,” Lexa replied.
“Things will only get harder,” Costia said, pulling out a stack of papers from the second drawer. “Clarke is still human. She wouldn't understand when that happens, nor will she be prepared.”
Lexa sighed seeing another suitcase full of clothing and closed it. She slid them back under the bed.
“We'll manage,” Lexa assured.
“I should hope so,” Costia said. “Does Clarke know you're going into rut? It's steadily been happening since you came back. Have you marked her?”
Lexa blushed. She was better at dealing with the start of her rut. The pain and fever were gone, but there were times she felt uncomfortable, specifically during the stages of her knot coming. But any wolf in the city could tell she was coming into rut, all except Clarke.
“It was an accident,” Lexa admitted.
“Much how it was unintended you have Madi.” She said, watching Lexa blush again. “Are you going to tell Clarke you've started your rut?”
Lexa faced her, a horrified look on her face. With the rocky start they had once Lexa arrived, she decided it was best she keep things less romantic.
“I-I... Sex is far from my mind at the moment. We've been arguing a lot and -- ” Lexa stuttered.
Costia stood, facing Lexa. A look of sympathy on her face.
“It must be painful for the person you claimed not only bear your mark but not know when you're at the start of your rut,” Costia stated.
Lexa exhaled, rubbing a hand against the side of her trousers. It wasn't easy. She couldn't have a deeper connection with Clarke. She hadn’t the slightest clue how to talk about her ruts to how to deal with them with her. The wolves talked about how great it was to have a mate back in San Francisco. The way they explained the feeling of them both having matching marks put them in an even deeper connection with their loved ones. It was something Lexa deep down wanted to experience. The first rut away from Clarke was difficult because technically Lexa wasn’t marked, just Clarke. The bite of a mating mark often kept an Alpha out of rut for longer, but once near their mate, it would often pick up again at a much stronger degree. Lexa can't say if she will be able to deal with this now that she's with Clarke again. Arguing made things more difficult.
“I will manage this just fine too,” Lexa said.
Costia didn’t press the matter. She knew she had so much advice to give. Lexa needed to do what was best for her and Clarke. Costia dug through the last drawer and pulled out a leather-bound journal. She flipped through the pages.
“This book has addresses and names on them and the amount of money,” Costia said, holding the book open as Lexa came over.
“We should take this back to Clarke. She can help us with some sort of a spell.” Lexa suggested.
The rest of the pages were blank until Costia flipped to the back. Written in black ink, was the address to Clarke's shipping company and her personal address. Below it was general information about the company as well as Clarke.
“He was stalking Clarke.” Costia gasped.
“He was hired to do this?” Lexa said.
Costia closed the book and handed it to Lexa to stuff into her pockets.
“We've got what we came for. Let's go back before we meet up with Bellamy and Octavia to the next location.” Costia said.
Clarke sat in her rocking chair, stroking Madi's cheek as she fell in and out of sleep pressed against Clarke's chest. Clarke smiled, seeing her mumble, trying to stay awake as Clarke hummed to soothe her, hoping it would put her to sleep quicker. A sense of pride filled Clarke, seeing Madi in her arms, growing and getting stronger each day. It was difficult to picture her having any aspects of a werewolf. She looked as human as they came, ten tiny fingers and toes, round human nose and no claws. Lucas looked the same too. Clarke's bedroom door opened and she glanced behind her to see Raven entering with Lucas.
“She's hungry again?” Raven asked.
“When is she not? Is Madi constantly being hungry a werewolf thing?” She asked.
Raven laughed, standing beside Clarke. Lucas was asleep in her arms.
“Yes, and it gets worse as they age,” Raven said.
“I at least know it isn't just something Lexa deals with,” Clarke said. “Well, that change?”
“Not until they shift. That way they can hunt deer to help with the appetite.” Raven said. “Surely, Lexa has done that around you?”
“Not as often as I thought she would,” Clarke answered.
During their travels in Europe, Lexa at first wanted to spend her time alone. They had separate rooms and Clarke would sometimes hear her come back late. She figured she was a heavy drinker, only to find out Lexa couldn't get drunk. That also the added effects of werewolves. Clarke had only seen her shift in need of food and she caught the tail end of it once. The rest of the time Clarke had seen her shift during cases to chase other beast or track better.
“Lexa has a lot of self-control then,” Raven said. “That isn't possible until a wolf is much older.”
“And how old are you exactly?” Clarke asked.
“A woman does not reveal her secrets.” Raven chided.
“You're a werewolf! That ought to be cheating for you to age so gracefully.” Clarke said.
Raven laughed. Madi whimpered from the sudden outburst and Clarke glanced down at her. She would age the same. At least, Clarke wondered if she would have a prolonged life expectancy like Lexa. Would Madi get all of Lexa's abilities? The strength. The quick healing.
“Will she shift too?” Clarke asked.
“Shifting is a rite of passage for a pup and hunt,” Raven said. “If you're worried there are signs to tell when one is ready to shift before it happens.”
Clarke stroked a finger down Madi's brow. She shifted, sighing before lying still again.
“She looks too harmless to be a wolf,” Clarke whispered.
“And so does Lucas,” Raven said. “It might be easier to Madi have the abilities of a witch.”
“I'm not so sure it would be,” Clarke admitted.
Maya entered the room.
“Ms. Griffin, Lexa has returned.” She announced.
Clarke put Madi in the bassinet before entering the lounge. Raven stayed behind to put Lucas in her room. In the lounge, it was just Costia and Lexa. They looked bothered, Lexa the most concerned. Clarke joined them on the couch.
“What is it?” Clarke asked.
Lexa fished the notebook from her pocket and handed it over.
“We found this at one of the crime scenes.” Lexa gravely said.
“Turn to the back of the book,” Costia instructed.
“This is my address,” Clarke said.
Lexa bit her bottom lip. The realization of their finding yet sitting well with her.
“We believe you're being watched, Clarke,” Costia said.
“Have you made any enemies during your stay?” Lexa asked.
Clarke stared at the book for a moment, a finger pressed to her chin. She hasn't the time to go out that often due to Madi. She had no friends other than the ones from her company and Bellamy and Octavia.
“I can't recall such a thing,” Clarke said. “I barely stepped outside during my pregnancy. Around four months is when I stopped trying to find the remaining vampires once the two leads here were killed.”
It did little to stop Lexa's frown from deepening.
“Is it possible the remaining two are targeting her for revenge?” Lexa suggested.
“That is not normal for vampires to werewolves as we can not stand each other,” Costia said.
Lexa shifted to the edge of her seat, a hand gripping on her knee and the other latched around the couch armrest. Her jaw clenched and her head down to the ottoman lost in thought. This finding was doing nothing but bringing more questions and it being too personal made Lexa at the more frustrated.
“Someone else must have a grudge against her. Why else would they hire a wolf to watch her?” Lexa asked.
“I'll have someone accompany you until we can figure out who is doing this and what are their intentions,” Costia said.
“Will that honestly make Clarke any safer?” Lexa questioned.
“This house is occupied by mostly werewolves I think we can manage.” Costia agreed. “Lexa, why don't you checked on Bellamy and others.”
Costia waited for Lexa to be out of the manor to speak with Clarke again.
“Clarke could you possibly do a spell on the book for more information?”
“Uh, but the Senators -- ”
“I’m aware, but this can not wait and what the Senator doesn’t know won’t hurt them.” Costia implied. “I won’t tell if you don’t.”
“Alright, I have my ingredients in the library,” Clarke said.
Clarke led Costia upstairs to her private library collection.
“What spell are you looking to do?” Clarke asked, scanning her bookshelves.
“One to pick up the residual energy from who or whatever touched that book,” Costia said.
“I can get a better reading at his house,” Clarke said. “Madi is asleep now. I can spare a few hours.”
“I'd appreciate it,” Costia said.
Clarke pulled out a book from the shelf and gathered several glass bottles from another to shove into her satchel.
“Alright, off we go then,” Clarke said.
Chapter 6: Part VI
Lexa showed up into a worn down and disrepair apartment complex. In the hallway, she can make out the sound of yelling and grunting, then the faint smell of blood. Bellamy had a man pinned to a wall with his hand grasping around the man's jacket collar. Octavia stood beside him, watching the man flinch and squirm. The man held in the death grip was filthy with torn clothing that had seen better days. Lexa can see his shaking hands, completely terrified.
“I-I don't know! I don’t know anything! I swear!” He screamed.
Lexa approached them, crunching on the gravel scattered along the hallway. Bellamy and Octavia turn around, alarmed and defensive. Lexa examined the scene before them. In the hallway, with Bellamy holding this man down and his lip busted and his face bloody, yet no now bothered to come out and stop them.
“What is this?” Lexa asked.
“We found him trying to leave his apartment when he saw us,” Octavia said. “It turns out, he was also neighbors with the first wolf who was killed before he moved.”
Bellamy stared him down, tightening his grip.
“He's part of a smaller pack,” Bellamy added.
Lexa raised a brow. It was no coincidence that he was leaving.
“Clearly you know something,” Lexa said.
“No... I don't.” He whimpered.
Lexa stuffed a hand into her jacket pocket and rubbed her right hand down her chin. Her nerves growing thin. A tick in her neck pinched at her muscle. She was in need of a good fight. The rush of her rut screamed for release or a fight to assert her dominance. She could use something to let off some steam. Bellamy looked her over, his nostrils flaring, clearly picking up the start of her pheromones. Lexa kept her glare on the wolf.
“What is your name?” Lexa asked.
“Donald Burke.” He said.
“Mr. Burke, what we're dealing with is far bigger than you can ever understand,” Lexa stated. “Your petty thievery is the least of your concern. I want to know what you know about Timothy's death and I suggest you do so quick.”
Donald gulped. Fed up with the silence, Bellamy growled and yanked Donald off the wall to slam him back into it, head first. He yelped, gripping Bellamy's wrist.
“Okay! O-Okay, I'll tell you, just let me go.” He pleaded.
Lexa pursed her lips, wondering if he would have the gull to run for it once he was free. By the smell of him, reeking of utter fear, it wasn't likely. Lexa looked to Bellamy and nodded. He released Donald's shirt. He let out an exhale of relief.
“Go on,” Lexa demanded.
“Tim and I were friends. We... Did gigs together for cash.” Donald started. “Then, three weeks ago, he told me about doing one for a guy, but I didn't want any part of it. He was strange, for a thief, but then Tim came back from the first job and he had decent money, so I decided to join in.”
“I don't need the details, Mr. Burke.” Lexa droned.
Donald nodded, swiping a hand along his sweaty hairline. The sooner he said what he knew the quicker he could leave. Now with Tim dead, it was best he stays far away from the city as possible.
“We got into an argument over pay and he got mad so he moved out. He was in the middle of moving his stuff out.” Donald said. “I tried to talk him out of it, but I got drunk that night and I heard someone knocking on his door as I made my way upstairs. He sounded angry. Tim and he were talking than yelling for a while.”
“What time?” Octavia asked.
“I guess around 1 am. I just remember hearing thumping after and yelling. Then there was a crash and it was quiet.” Donald said. “The man, I know he wasn't packing. He smelled human and he was tall with boots on and I vaguely remember Tim calling him Sargent. I never met up, but Tim did and I got jobs through him.”
“That's all?” Lexa asked.
Donald nodded. Bellamy let out a low snarl. Donald faced him, taking a step back against the wall to see his eyes glowing orange.
“If I find out you're lying or withholding information you will hear from Costia,” Bellamy warned.
“I-I don't want any trouble with Ms. Stone. I swear!” Donald said.
“We need to head back to the manor,” Lexa announced, turning around.
She treads through the halls, leaving Donald behind. Bellamy and Octavia followed her out.
“Do you believe him?” Octavia asked.
“He still smells of alcohol and Mr.McNeal’s home clearly had a struggle of some sort,” Lexa said.
“It was personal. All of his money was left behind.” Octavia said. “Any luck with the book?”
“After some help with Clarke, there just might be another lead.” Lexa agreed.
“But why would they kill their lookout if they were sent to follow Clarke in the first place?” Bellamy said.
Lexa glanced at him.
“Your guess is as good as mine. We clearly have a skilled human who knows how to deal with werewolves. I can't think of anything more dangerous.” Lexa said.
“They would be willing to start a long-dead war all over again?” Octavia asked.
“I should hope not,” Lexa said.
Clarke stepped through the threshold of Timothy McNeal's apartment. She took her time examining everything around her, the last detail of the room to find anything unusual. She glanced over her shoulder to Costia.
“There wasn't a body?” Clarke asked.
“It was removed after it was clear the wounds he sustained were human ones,” Costia said. “I doubt you'll find anything. His attacker was quite clean during his escape, not so much during the act.”
Clarke examined the floorboards. The wear of the wood, neglected and chipped from years of use, didn't look out of the ordinary given the bad part of the city, the house was in. A layer of dust covered the window sills. Farther into the house off to the corner just two steps away from the table, Clarke noticed a dark splotch into the wood.
“Was he shot here?” Clarke said.
“Yes, four times straight into his chest. It was a nasty mess to clean up.” Costia answered.
“And he lived alone?” Clarke said.
“From the looks of it yes. His scent is the only one here.”
Clarke paced to the bed, looking it over then faced Costia.
“He had no neighbors?” Clarke questioned.
This was an apartment complex, there had to be people home.
“We found that unusual since a gunshot makes quite some noise. The people nearby must fear this man to not do anything.” Costia said.
“Or they worked with the shooter too,” Clarke suggested.
Clarke opened her satchel and placed a bowl and several of her glass-bottled herbs on the table. Costia stood by her side, curiously watching her work.
“I know it is not my place, but knowing Lexa she will not have the courage to tell you this.” Costia started.
Clarke glanced up from her bowl.
“Lexa is in rut.”
“Why wouldn't she tell me?” Clarke mumbled.
Clarke took careful measures of her herbs and dumped them into her bowl.
“Bad timing I suppose, being that she arrived and the two of you have been arguing,” Costia explained. “If she won't speak about it surely you will. Sometimes Lexa needs a bit of a push, but with you she's cautious.”
Clarke frowned. She wouldn't have wanted to hear about this from someone else. That would be something Clarke and Lexa would talk about when they had time.
“Thank you Costia,” Clarke said.
Costia watched her chant over the bowl several times before taking out another bottle full of powder. She sprinkled a dash of it into the bowl followed by a drop of oil from another bottle. Clarke pulled out a match and lit it. It was tossed into the bowl and a small flicker of flame sprung from the bowl. The fire from the match quickly changed from red to green glimmer and a wisp of smoke trailed into the air. Clarke said a few more chants before blowing out the fire. A cloud formed from the bowl, growing in size then floated into the air, above Clarke's head and spread throughout the room. The grey smoke dissipated, soaking into the floorboards, the walls, and the furniture. A soft glow emitted from the walls and floor and settled down into the shape of footprints and handprints on the surface. The marks trailed throughout the house and clustered at the door and the tabletop. Clarke followed the footprints and opened the door. The same boot marks were down the hall and on to the porch of the house then was gone.
“The color of that aura shows that it was indeed a human,” Clarke said.
She pulled out a sketchbook and charcoal from her bag. Briskly, Clarke sketched out the shape of the footprints.
“I was afraid you would say that,” Costia said.
Clarke remained focused on the case, while she wanted more than anything to be angry and confront Lexa. She needed to get this out of the way first. The severity of this case bigger than her personal relationship. Clarke could be professional when she needed to. Miller and Murphy sat with Bellamy and Octavia, waiting for their return. Lexa approached her, sensing her tension and uneasiness.
“Did something happen?” Lexa asked.
“The spell worked smoothly,” Clarke said. “We found boot tracks leading inside the house. The attacker was human.”
Lexa gulped. Clarke noticed Bellamy shift, wiggling his necktie. His face somber.
“That's what our source said too.” Bellamy announced.“The scent was human. This man went by the name Sargent.”
“The wolves on the streets are scared of this guy. Many refuse to do business with him.” Murphy said.
“What exactly was he offering?” Costia questioned.
“He wanted someone to do his dirty work.” Murphy scoffed, with a shake of his head.
“That means more wolves to follow Clarke,” Lexa said. “They have more heightened senses to keep track of her.”
Miller rubbed a hand over his stubble and sighed.
“But why follow a witch?” He asked.
Costia looked Clarke over. She may appear human, but the skill of her power and knowledge would make her a good area. However, no one would suspect her to be a witch. At least, not a human as they're just another myth like werewolves unless they found out.
“It's possible they suspect something more of Clarke,” Costia said. “Aside from her fame and reputation as a vampire hunter.”
“A human after a witch?” He said.
Lexa's jaw clenched. Her face started to pale and her hands grew clammy.
“Or a child,” Lexa whispered.
Costia pinched her finger and thumb against the bridge of her nose with a grunt. That was the last thing any of them wanted. Clarke turned back to Costia, hoping she would dispel such a thought.
“It's possible someone got wind of Clarke's pregnancy and know about the baby.” Costia agreed.
Clarke blinked back her tears. Her hands curled into a fist and quaking.
“T-That isn't possible. It isn't... I made sure to stay inside.” Clarke denied. “Madi has never left the house.”
Lexa approached her, reaching a hand out to her forearm. Clarke jerked away and gulped seeing Lexa's hurt face and looked away. Lexa took a step back.
“Clearly this human has connections and that makes him a threat,” Bellamy said.
“But the wolves that were killed, what were they?” Octavia asked.
“They may have disagreed with continuing their work or not enough pay,” Costia said.
“The city isn't safe and neither is this manor.” He said.
“I can't just leave. I'll be followed.” Clarke said.
“We put everyone at risk staying here,” Lexa stated.
“We're going to need more help. I will speak with Echo and speak with the wolves in the city.” Costia decided. “Everyone returns home for now.”
“Uh, if we're in danger, maybe staying in a group is a better option,” Clarke said.
Costia nodded. With them here, Clarke would be protected should something happen if these werewolves got brave. She trusted the others to defend themselves, but with the risk of Madi being part of the target there needed to be better precautions.
“If you're sure, then Bellamy, Octavia, and I will stay here,” Costia replied.
“I have plenty of room,” Clarke said.
Everyone parted ways with Miller and Murphy leaving the house. Bellamy and Octavia left to gather their things from their place to settle into the manor. Lexa decided from Clarke's reaction it was best they had some space and went to her room. Costia stayed behind.
“May I have a word with you, Clarke?” Costia requested.
“Of course,” Clarke said.
“What happened back at the house was impressive and advanced magic,” Costia commented.
“Aside from caring about Madi and painting, I practice my spells and study,” Clarke said.
“I wasn't sure if you were suited for this, but there is a witch community on the east coast in Boston,” Costia informed. “With your power, I think they can help you grow and understand your lineage. These witches like you, are part witch, and much more civilized.”
“Thank you, I may take up your offer,” Clarke said.
“I'll need to get my things from my hotel room in the meantime,” Costia announced.
Clarke headed upstairs to her bedroom. In the hallway, Lexa stood outside, waiting for her, a look of worry on her face. Lexa folded her arms over her hips, biting her bottom lip and her eyes cast downward to her polished shoes.
“I think we should talk,” Lexa said.
Clarke folded her arms over her chest.
“Come inside, Madi is sleeping, keep your voice down,” Clarke whispered, opening her room door.
Lexa stopped, peering down at Madi, curled in her bassinet. Lexa rested a hand on the edge, contemplating to stroke her hand and pulled her arm back. She had no way of sorting out her feelings. The idea of Madi being targeted didn't sit well with Lexa much like the idea of Clarke being in danger. Lexa turned around as Clarke closed her room door.
“I'm worried,” Lexa muttered. “Madi she...She is like no other, Clarke, a mix of my genetics and yours.”
“I know. I'm worried too, but we'll figure this out.” Clarke assured.
Lexa sighed and turned around to Madi. She laid in her bassinet, stirring under her blanket. Lexa reached into the bassinet and stroked a finger down Madi's hand. She stirred again, her face bunching up and a hand curled up to her chubby cheek. This was her child. Madi was apart of her no matter the situation or how she came to be or how unexpected, Madi was her child.
“I know we didn't have a great start when I arrived, but I just can't sit here knowing she's in danger,” Lexa said. “It frightens me.”
Clarke moved over to Lexa, standing beside her, looking Madi over. Madi whimpered and shifted in her bed. Lexa withdrew her hand and Madi rubbed a tiny fist over her eyes.
“Would you like to hold her?” Clarke asked.
Lexa gulped, her shoulders tense.
“I shouldn't. I don't – ”
Madi's eyes slowly opened and she blinked, still groggy from her sleep. Clarke reached down and picked Madi up into her arms. She tucked her into her chest and Madi mumbled. Lexa stood, a flare of fear settling into her stomach as Clarke faced her with Madi. She slowly began to open her eyes, nuzzling into Clarke's bosom.
“It's alright, just be sure to support her head,” Clarke said, handing Madi over to Lexa.
Lexa gingerly extended her arms to take Madi. The warmth of her surrounding Lexa's arms. She put a hand under Madi's head and another under her back. Madi blinked, groggy and yawned. She blinked back at Lexa, her eyes less focused, but curious. Lexa exhaled, overcome with joy and smiled.
“Oh dear,” Lexa whispered. “S-she's...”
Lexa blinked up her tears and exhaled. She smiled, watching Madi nibble on her fingers and dipped down to kiss Madi's forehead.
Chapter 7: Part VII
I've decided to cut out a lot of the smut scene. The chapter is shorter and more of a filler now, but it's something at least I suppose. I'm not sure if I'll post the rest of it another time I've been having trouble with writing lately, making this update was quite the struggle, unfortunately. I'll try to make the next chapter longer.
Clarke smiled, seeing Lexa pace the lounge, holding Madi in her arms, watching her. Clarke went back to sketching them in her notebook, a tin box of charcoal on the ottoman next to their coffee. Since yesterday night, Lexa's attention shifted to Madi. The fear of her being taken away from them hitting Lexa with a realization that she needed to protect the family she had. Maya entered the manor a basket full of flowers, a loaf of bread, and chops in parchment paper.
“Ms. Griffin, I was told to give you this,” Maya said, entering the lounge.
She handed Clarke an envelope with a wax seal with the initials CW on it.
“I ran into Mr. Wallace at the market,” Maya stated.
Clarke put her notebook down and took the envelope. She opened it. Lexa came over, glancing over Clarke's shoulder.
“What is that?” Lexa asked.
“Cage sent me an invite to his dinner party tomorrow night,” Clarke said.
“Are you going to go?” Lexa asked.
Madi whimpered. Lexa shifted her in her arms and tried to soothe her, rocking her and pacing the lounge again. Madi continued to frown and cry. Lexa's rocking and even pacing did little to calm her this time.
“Oh, erm, what am I doing wrong?” Lexa said.
Clarke stood, approaching them and took Madi into her arms.
“That cry is when she wants me,” Clarke said, holding her to her chest.
Madi began to settle down. Lexa sighed. The frown on her face washing away. She had been trying to learn what she could since the day she first held her, trying to figure out what Madi liked. Her schedule to feed or need a change from her soiled cotton flannel diapers.
“Don't worry. You'll be able to tell the more you're with her.” Clarke coaxed.
Lexa picked up the envelope from the ottoman and read over it. She glanced back at Clarke. She didn't mention a banquet to her before.
“Are you considering attending?” Lexa asked again.
“I'm not sure,” Clarke admitted. “Social gatherings are things people in my class do.”
Lexa raised a brow. As far as Lexa knew Clarke, she had no interest in such things even more so in the social norm of her class either. The married life was something far from Clarke's view, but here they are with a family now.
“You mean, wealthy socialites?” Lexa said.
Clarke sighed. Such a title didn't sit well with any of them. The word they did was far from the proper woman of wealth. The gritty and hard labor hunting required had no room for gracefulness, but now they sat in this victorian manor that was a striking contrast to their field of work. Clarke shrugged her silk cloak on to her shoulders. The truth didn't make this any less foreign to her.
“I know how that sounds,” Clarke said.
“And what about the case? Clarke, you're being followed.” Lexa said.
That has crossed her mind. It was a threat Clarke trod carefully with, very few trips or walks out of her manor, but staying inside would drive anyone mad, no matter how large the manor was.
“If I stay inside whoever is watching may know I've found out what their intentions are,” Clarke explained.
Lexa frowned. They didn't want to draw attention either. Clarke had a point they had not talked about, but Lexa couldn't let her be at risk.
“Clarke, we aren't part of this life.” Lexa insisted.
“Madi deserves a normal life.”
“We aren't normal.” Lexa clarified.
Is this really what a normal life was? A luxurious manor, social gatherings, banquets, and other city life events people of Clarke's wealth did. But was any of this them? Clarke groaned.
“I don't want to live in fear hidden behind this house,” Clarke said.
“And I refuse to live in fear thinking you would be attacked.” Lexa countered.
Clarke pinched the bridge of her nose with her forefinger and thumb, exhaling.
“You do not need to protect me. I am more than capable of defending myself and you know that.” Clarke said. “Does attending a dinner have you that bothered?”
Lexa clasped her hands over her hips. This wasn't what Lexa felt they should be apart of. The only life she wanted was to focus on Clarke and pack affairs.
“I know that Clarke.”
“This isn't your decision to make,” Clarke said.
“In that case, do as you please. I've been gone enough for you to be used to making choices on your own.”
Seeing the anger and hurt flicker into Lexa's eyes, Clarke sighed and stood with Madi. She put her into her bassinet.
“I need fresh air,” Lexa said, exiting the lounge.
Lexa stood in the garden, blankly staring into the thicket of flowers and bushes in front of her. The sweet chirping of the birds surrounding her as she held onto her glass cup full of whiskey. On the garden table, a tea seat was put down but left untouched next to the whiskey bottle. She hoped the tea would calm her nerves, but after the first cup, Lexa had Maya fetch the whiskey from their stock. Lexa took a sip then turned around to sit. The longer she sat the less calm Lexa became, mulling over the conversation she had with Clarke along with the others since she first arrived. What if she and Clarke were different after all? A year had been a lot for them both, but Lexa's change had been the spark of everything. The only thing both had now was their best interest in Madi, but Lexa had never felt more out of place with her mate. Assuming Clarke was, she had Lexa's bite after all and her child. The backdoor opened and Lexa picked up the thick aroma of cinnamon spice and cocoa. Lexa gulped.
“Drinking whiskey at 11 am?”
Lexa looked over her shoulder to see Costia approaching the garden table. She turned back around, taking another sip.
“It'll be noon soon,” Lexa said.
Costia took a seat next to her, staring into the patches of flowers.
“Your affliction won't be able to get you drunk on mere whiskey,” Costia stated.
“I mixed this with a dash of wolfsbane,” Lexa said.
“Well, it seems your days as a San Francisco mixologist has been put in your favor,” Costia said.
Lexa faintly smiled, eying Costia.
“I learned from the best.” She said.
“Ah, but you've surpassed the master and you make quite a delish cocktail,” Costia commented.
Lexa put down her cup, facing Costia.
“Would you like a drink?” Lexa offered.
Lexa was already pouring a drink before Costia could reply and pulled out a small glass bottle of white liquid from inside her trench coat pocket. She poured two drops of it into the whiskey and handed it to Costia.
“What are you doing Lexa?” Costia asked.
Costia raised a brow.
“I meant your relationship with Clarke.”
Lexa turned away, biting her bottom lip in silence. Costia picked up her cup and took a swig. The amber liquid sloshed in her cup a drop of it trickling down the side. Lexa knew Costia heard their argument no doubt. A downside to their enhanced abilities.
“While you believe in the pack, Clarke must come to terms with it all while trying to compromise with you. This arguing will cause a rift.” Costia noted.
“It's been there since I left,” Lexa remarked.
“She bears your mark, Lexa.”
“I remember. I can smell it off her too.” Lexa said.
They're quiet for a moment. Lexa gulped down the rest of her whiskey in one shot with her head tilted back. She put the cup down and filled it again. Costia saw the red of the alcohol paint her cheeks in a faint glow. Lexa's jaw flexed in reaction to the bitter burning sensation.
“And by now you're fully into your rut I'm sure,” Costia said, causing Lexa to flinch. “She knows.”
Lexa turned around.
“My rut has nothing to do with how things are turning out.” Lexa declined.
“It adds to it. You're beginning to feel out of touch with her I'm sure and she's your mate.” Costia said.
Costia took a sip and Lexa's right hand clenched into a fist, opening and close several times until the knuckles were white. She rested her hand under her chin with her elbow on the table.
“It bothers me,” Lexa admitted. “Between Madi being raised human, Clarke and I fighting, my rut, and now... Clarke will never be able to tell if I'm in rut and I can never have her mark.”
“But you love her,” Costia said, watching Lexa nod. “She wants to be with you. She chose you and she wishes you tell her such things like your rut starting. She wants things between both of you to work. You must speak with her.”
Lexa sniffled, holding back her tears and sighed. She gulped her cup.
“Being by your mate and not mating will dampen even the strongest alpha's mood,” Costia stated.
Lexa's neck flexed and bobbed as she gulped down a sob and exhaled.
“What are the side effects of removing a mark?” Lexa asked.
Costia's hand around her cup faltered for a second.
“It has only been done twice and the process is painful, but can end badly for both parties.”
“But Clarke isn't a wolf,” Lexa said.
“She isn't, but the process will affect you,” Costia replied. “In my experience and better judgment it is not an option accidental bite or not. I implore you to speak with Clarke and come to a compromise.”
Lexa finished her cup in two gulps and put the cup down with a grunt.
“Thank you for your advice,” Lexa said, leaving her chair and heading back to the manor.
Clarke stride through her study room, a thick leather-bound book in one hand and her fingers skimming through the words as she read. She returned to her desk where her open notebook lay with her writing on the pages. Some time had passed since she and Lexa talked, the sun now started to seat and Clarke decided to go dinner tonight. Raven knew to not ask about it this time and Clarke put down her book to pick up her fountain pen. The least she could do while alone was work on the case, go over the information she knew in her book. Madi was sound asleep after the hassle of doing so. A knock on her door disrupts her note-taking and Clarke put her pen down.
“Enter,” Clarke said.
Lexa entered, her face bashful and her eyes cast to the floor as she pushed passed the threshold. Clarke was inviting, her face emotionless and her arms crossed defensively over her chest. Lexa stood at the opposite end of Clarke's desk, her hands tight fist and her shoulders tense.
“I'm not in the mood to argue again,” Clarke said.
“I'm not here to,” Lexa said. “I shouldn't have said what I did and I understand why you chose to live a normal life.”
Clarke walked around the desk, standing in front of it while Lexa kept her distance from Clarke. From the single step of space between them, Clarke saw the flush of red in Lexa's face. The quiver in her lip and the fiery glint in her swirling green eyes.
“I am sorry to cause tension between us,” Lexa said. “And I...”
Lexa flinched, her hands shaking. Clarke stood up straight, leaning off the desk.
“I love you both Clarke and I want this to work, but the changes are not easy, but I want to be in Madi's life more than ever.”
A light sheen of sweat flowed from Lexa's brow. Alarmed, Clarke stepped closer and caught Lexa into her arms and they stagger into the desk. Clarke wrapped an arm around Lexa's waist. Lexa let out a grunt.
“Lexa, you're burning up,” Clarke said.
Lexa leaned against her, a hand gripping on to Clarke's arm and Clarke touched a hand to Lexa's jaw. She cringed and whimpered.
“Your rut,” Clarke stated.
Lexa shook her head.
“No, I-I'll be alright. I just need some space.” Lexa said. “I'm so sorry you had to find out through Costia. I didn't know how to speak about it we haven't exactly been on good terms.”
Lexa let out a grunt of pain, bent over with a hand pressed to her stomach. Clarke held on to her.
“I should go.” Lexa huffed.
“You can barely move,” Clarke said.
Lexa flinched as Clarke brushed a hand down her cheek. The contact a tantalizing sensation that made Lexa want to grab Clarke and pin her to the desk.
“I'm hurting you aren't I?” Clarke asked, noticing the flex in Lexa's neck below her hand.
Lexa's face was completely covered in sweat and her breath uneven and heavy.
“N-No, no, you're... It's my rut.” Lexa said.
Clarke brushed her hands under Lexa's coat and slid it down her shoulders. Lexa sheds the garment from her torso, letting it pool on the floor. Lexa barely could speak as Clarke unbuttoned her vest and took that off along with her necktie. Lexa stepped back as Clarke yanked her shirt from her pants and bumped into the desk, making the books on top of it shift and shake. Clarke stepped forward, slipping her hands under the shirt and cup around Lexa's hips.
“You don't have to,” Lexa mumbled.
Clarke glanced at Lexa's plump lips and brushed her nose against Lexa's.
“I want to,” Clarke whispered.
Lexa pulled Clarke into a kiss with a hand cupped around her neck. Clarke moaned, pressing her body closer into Lexa. The contact of their life fast, hungry, and yearning. Lexa's left hand rested to Clarke's lower back on her corset. A fire long ignored instantly ignited filling them with a burning desire both missed since their time away. Lexa moaned, ending the kiss.
“Clarke, you don't – ”
Clarke pressed a finger to her lips. Lexa gulped.
“I want you, god Lexa I'll always want you, all of you,” Clarke said. “I only wish I knew sooner.”
Clarke watched tears streak down Lexa's cheeks and she smiled pulling Clarke into another kiss. Hastily, their hands moved, removing their clothes, untying the strings of Clarke's corset, until they're bare. The heat from Lexa's skin intensifying and radiating over Clarke. Clarke glided a hand down the slender shape of Lexa's waist, feminine and lean in contrast to her men's clothing. Lexa removed Clarke's bun, causing her hair to cascade down her shoulders. She tugged at her silk ribbon in her ponytail and kissed along the bite mark on Clarke's shoulder. Lexa let out a small growl and pulled Clarke by her hips into her pelvis.
“God Clarke, you're... Gorgeous.” Lexa muttered, her eyes scanning down Clarke's body.
She rubbed her hand over Clarke's pudgy stomach covered in faint stretch marks of her pregnancy. Lexa gulped, overcome with the images of Clarke's belly swollen again with another child. Lexa moaned. She took Clarke by her hips and spun her around, placing Clarke against the desk face down. Clarke's hands braced against the top of the desk and Lexa let out another low growl. Lexa pressed against the back of Clarke's thigh and nipped her shoulder down to her shoulder blades. Clarke whimpered.
Lexa rested her face against Clarke's chest, panting and slick with sweat.
“Are you okay?” Lexa whispered.
Clarke let out an airy laugh, still winded but now sated and nodded.
“Oh, I needed that,” Clarke said.
“I think we both did.”
Clarke stroked Lexa's hair and looked down her back to see the thin lines of blood on her skin but the scratches already healed. Clarke looked down between them .
“Do you think we woke everyone up?” Clarke asked.
She laughed seeing Lexa's face flush red.
Chapter 8: Part VIII
Since I'll be too busy tomorrow and Saturday to update due to my niece's birthday I decided to post today.
Clarke finished pinning her braided bun back into its neat style and sighed. A well-missed soreness throbbing between her thighs. She shrugged on her shift, stretching her arms. Lexa's warm hands wrapped around Clarke's stomach, pulling back against her bare body. Clarke exhaled feeling the bulge of Lexa's erection against her rear. A comforting silence washed between them. The tension melted away. Lexa nuzzled her nose against Clarke's shoulder and along her neck before kissing it.
“I... I wish I could have been here with you.” Lexa whispered. “And I felt so guilty, thinking of you having to struggle to move around pregnant or in pain during the birth.”
Clarke's hands linked with Lexa's. Clarke put her head down a flood of regret hitting her. She didn't want to keep Lexa in the dark about Madi. She wanted more than anything for Lexa to be with her, but the sacrifices Lexa put through to be with her. Why should Clarke ask for more? Lexa left England. She left her mother and sister behind to travel the world. Lexa gripped Clarke tighter.
“And I blamed you for it, but I shouldn't have. I know you did that for me.” Lexa said.
Clarke turned around, facing Lexa and resting her arms around Lexa's slender neck. The radiating heat of Lexa's skin searing through the linens of her shift. Clarke gulped. The look of desire still in Lexa's green eyes nearly had Clarke speechless.
“I love you, Clarke,” Lexa said.
Clarke softly smiled, studying Lexa's rounded face. The feel of her slender and lean body against Clarke's fuller curvier figure a welcoming contrast. Clarke stroked the back of Lexa's neck, watching her plump lip tremble at the touch.
“You were all I thought about,” Clarke admitted. “Even when I was out dealing with those vampires and it nearly got me killed to be honest if it weren't for Bellamy.”
Clarke let out a weak chuckle.
“We should both thank him, honestly, some sort of a gift too for his patience,” Clarke added. “But I am not without fault, while what I did was my way of love and care for you I should have told you. I shouldn't have expected you to be so accepting either the day of meeting Madi and I know it will take time.”
“I don't want to argue anymore.” Lexa pleaded. “I choose you Clarke and I choose Madi too. I want it no other way.”
Lexa stroked a loving hand down Clarke's face. Clarke stepped forward, bringing Lexa into a short and delicate kiss. Clarke parted, studying Lexa's face, no longer guilt-ridden or frustrated.
“I would like you to be my plus one for the dinner party,” Clarke suggested.
Lexa kissed her forehead.
“Alright, if you insist, I will attend,” Lexa said.
Lexa pulled her into a hug, relishing the feel of her. This closeness was something they both sorely missed more than Lexa expected. Clarke let a yawn.
“We spent all night here,” Clarke stated.
“Hmm, I couldn't help it, call it instincts I suppose,” Lexa said.
Lexa dipped down, kissing Clarke's neck then nipping below her jawline. Clarke giggled and lightly nudged Lexa at the shoulder. Lexa held her close and laughed.
“Oh, I can't possibly go again,” Clarke said. “And Madi is already a handful enough.”
Lexa let out a growl.
“Another child wouldn't be a bad idea.” Lexa purred.
“Maybe when Madi is older.”
Lexa placed one last big kiss on Clarke's neck and released her.
“Fair enough.” Lexa agreed.
They gather their clothes along with the room and re-dress. The only thing on their mind now was sleep, or what little they could get before sunset. Lexa waited for Clarke outside the study room door when she was dressed. Then walked Clarke to her bedroom, fighting against her urge to enter too. That would mean neither of them would sleep and Clarke needed all the energy she could get taking care of Madi and dealing with this case.
“Good night Clarke,” Lexa said.
She entered her bedroom and Lexa left, returning to one of the spare guest rooms.
Lexa stayed in until noon and by the time she entered the dining room most of the food was getting put back on to carts to be tossed away. Raven and Maya greeted her on their way out and Costia remained seated at the table with a set of coffee. Costa grinned at her and took a sip from her cup.
“I had them brew a fresh cup of coffee for you and saved some of the bacon and eggs along with blood sausages and eggs,” Costia said.
“Thank you.” Lexa groaned, taking a seat.
“Of course, a potent alpha such as yourself needs all the strength you can get,” Costia said.
She grinned seeing Lexa choke on her coffee as she took a sip and covered her mouth trying not to cough and spew it on the table. Lexa gulped it down and couched, turning red in the face. Costia laughed, sliding the plate of food she had beside the coffee tray.
“You had quite an eventful night,” Costia said.
“Costia please!” Lexa cried.
Costia let out another laugh.
“Oh come now, you're far too easy to tease,” Costia said. “I'm sure Clarke is still in bed? You know, many alphas would boast about such a feat.”
“I'm not one of the many then,” Lexa said, picking up a fork and knife to cut her sausages. “What is on the agenda today with the case?”
Costia put her cup down, picking up a roll of bread and ripped it apart. She slathered it with butter before placing one half of it on her plate. She shook her head with a frown in place.
“It's at a dead end I'm afraid. I only hope there will be no more dead bodies as the humans may suspect something.” Costia said. “Everyone is on guard for anything unusual.”
“And Bellamy?” Lexa asked.
“I allowed him to take two days off for a change. He needed to spend some time with Echo.” Costia said. “So have you and Clarke decided to attend the dinner party tonight?”
Lexa glared seeing Costia have a smile of glee to Lexa's embarrassed expression. Lexa cleared her throat and took a swig of coffee.
“We both will. The invitation was from Mr. Cage Wallace.” Lexa answered. “He's a New York resident and a doctor. I don't know much after that.”
Costia raised a brow. She took a bite into her bread.
“Do be careful and do not underestimate human hunters,” Costia ordered. “I can't see what better time to snoop around either, assuming the dinner as at his house and all those guests about. It'll be the perfect opportunity.”
“Clarke and I intend to do just that,” Lexa said.
“Socialite or not, I've come to find enemies come in all species and sizes,” Costia said.
“I couldn't agree anymore with you,” Lexa said.
Clarke was still asleep by the time Lexa finished eating when Costia got news of a lead for the case by Miller, who arrived with the news straight Bellamy's apartment. And while Lexa would like to wait for Clarke to decided if she should follow a lead but time was not on their time. Lexa and Costia let which turned out to be on a much seeder side of New York City.
“I was waiting to tell you this, but there seems to be something different about you,” Costia noted.
Lexa glanced over her shoulder.
“I'm not quite sure, but your scent has changed,” Costia said. “Ah, here we are.”
The arrived at an underground bar. They descended the stairs and knocked on the metal door. A small door above the doorknob opened and a wrinkly man with bushy grey brows glared at them.
“We're closed.” He grumbled.
“We are here to see Mr. Sinclair. I am Costia Stone.” Costia answered.
The man's brows raised with surprise before they're shifted back into a frown and he nodded. The door clicked and grind loudly before it opened. The man behind the door was a six-foot beefy man with no hair and a curly beard.
“Welcome, Ms. Stone. I'm Albert. Sinclair is in the back.” He said.
Costia thanked him before entering. The bar is empty with the chairs flipped on to the tables and the guy by the door grunts as he limps and took a seat on a wooden crate by the door. They move to the rows of tables toward the back, passed a storage room and see an open office door on the left. Inside, was a man with grey short hair and tan skin, standing over his desk fiddling with a gun and groaning as he can't get it to close at the barrel.
“Mr. Sinclair?” Costia interrupted.
He nearly dropped his gun and caught it.
“Ah, Ms. Stone, hello, welcome.” Sinclair greeted, glancing over the metals bits and papers on his desk. “Please excuse the mess. I've been busy tinkering with my toys. Ah, you must be Lexa, I've heard so much about you, have a seat.”
They took seats on the chairs in front of the desk and Sinclair sat down himself.
“What is your project?” Lexa asked.
Sinclair chuckled, rubbing a hand down his scruffy beard. He let out an exhausted sigh, tugging at the collar of his shirt that was covered in sweat, grime, and dirt. Sinclair blearily blinked at them, clearly tired, probably from a few days of no sleep.
“Well, a modern gun of sorts, for werewolves of course,” Sinclair said. “You see muskets are unreliable. Uh, they misfire, are slow to reload, can only do small amounts of damage, now what if one had a gun with multiple musket balls or such.”
“I think you're onto something,” Lexa said.
Sinclair chuckled. A prideful grin in place.
“Sinclair has been excited about his little project since he proposed it to me for approval,” Costia explained.
Sinclair stuffed a hand into his pocket and sighed.
“Of course, there are some wolves who disagree, but I am for the better of our kind,” Sinclair said. “But, I digress, what can I help you with Ms. Stone?”
“I've heard you have news about these killings?” Costia said.
Sinclair's smile dropped. He leaned back into his chair grunting and opened his top drawer to pull out a silver flask. He unscrewed the top and took a gulp. He nodded as he cringed.
“I overheard a few boys talking about a man went to the wolves again asking for information,” Sinclair whispered.
Lexa and Costia looked at each other, alarmed.
“Did he offer them jobs?” Lexa questioned.
Sinclair paused for a moment and nodded.
“Yeah, he was looking for hired hands too, said it was for his boss to move heavy cargo around.”
Costia folded her hands on to her lap.
“So he's catching on which is why no new wolves were killed,” Costia said.
“I'd be careful Ms. Stone, he didn't sound like a pleasant man and he despised us,” Sinclair warned.
Costia didn't flinch. She was no stranger to danger or the target of hate and violent attacks. She was the commander. She made plenty of enemies much like she's made plenty of friends running her pack and getting things in order.
“And what are the names of the wolves that spoke to this man?” Costia asked.
Sinclair took out a piece of folded parchment from his desk then took another gulp from his flask. He handed the parchment to Costia. Inside the paper were names and addresses.
“Thank you for your time, Mr. Sinclair,” Lexa said, standing up from her chair.
He bid them goodbye as they left his office and he went back to tinkering with his toys.
“You should go back to the manor to get ready for dinner.” Costia reminded. “I can handle this.”
“Alone?” Lexa said.
“I can have Miller and Murphy come with me,” Costia said.
“Be careful,” Lexa said.
Clarke looked over her blue silk bodice in her full body mirror. Maya kneeled at her feet hemming the bottom of the skirt.
“You look gorgeous Ms. Griffin,” Maya said.
Clarke looked behind her through the mirror. Raven sat on a chair admiring the dress.
“It looks great.” Raven agreed.
Maya finished the last of her pins and stood.
“Raven, would you mind?” Maya asked.
Raven joined her and they pulled at the strings of Clarke's corset. Clarke cringes as it's tightened and they work together to tie it off at the bottom. Raven picked up a velvet gem-encrusted masquerade and handed it to Clarke. Raven helped her tie it.
“We have a black one for Lexa, don't worry,” Maya said. “Are you nervous miss?”
Clarke chuckled, glancing down at her clasped hands.
“Yes, I know it's silly, but I haven't done events like this since father was still alive,” Clarke explained.
“Oh, no need to worry. Once you're there and with Lexa I'm sure you'll have a grand time.” Maya coaxed.
Raven sorted through a jewelry box on one of the dressers and handed Clarke a gold necklace and bracelets.
“Do you think the jewelry is too much?” Clarke said.
“You look breathtaking.”
Clarke turned around as Raven latched on the necklace. Lexa stood in the doorway in a black press clean jacket and suit. Lexa approached her and Raven finished putting on the bracelets before she left the room with Maya. Clarke stepped down from the stoop. Lexa was speechless, staring at Clarke without a word, but the same lovestruck gaze. She stroked Clarke's exposed shoulder, rubbing over the bite mark scar. Clarke shivered.
“I could say the same,” Clarke said, looking over Lexa's outfit and gulped. “Uh, Raven told me you left earlier with Costia on a lead? Any news?”
“Probably, there have been more wolves hired and we have reason to suspect that means everyone in this manner is being watched,” Lexa answered.
“Let's hope this ends soon.”
“No need to worry, we can hire people of our own to protect us,” Lexa said. “Until then all we need to focus on is the banquet and drinking. We can dance the night away.”
“I would love to,” Clarke said.
Lexa had a smile of pride.
“Oh, how tempting that would be to woo and serenade you, Ms. Griffin.” Lexa teased. “But Costia suspects this may be a good time to do an investigation.”
“Is that so? Well then, in that case, I can mingle with the guest while you rummage about.” Clarke suggested.
“That's the plan. I'll pick you up in the hour?”
“Such a gentleman.”
Lexa kissed Clarke's cheek and they laughed before she left.
Chapter 9: Part IX
Lexa held out her palm as Clarke stood at the carriage door. She helped Clarke climb inside, smiling as she looked over her dress with her red cloak on top. Clarke settled next to her, feeling Lexa watch her. Lexa could barely contain her excitement. While she never liked lavish banquets like this, getting a chance to attend one with Clarke was what she looked forward to.
“What?” Clarke said.
Lexa smiled as the driver shut the door and moved to the front of the carriage. Lexa scooted closer to her and chuckled.
“It's been a while since we've done something like that hasn't it, granted it was never this grand or formal,” Lexa said.
Clarke smiled. The time they spent in Europe led them to romantic days and passionate nights under the stars of small villages and their traditional communal celebrations. It was much different than city customs, more personal and close-knit as people in villages knew each other for generations. It was what Lexa missed about her village, the closeness of her neighbors she grew to love growing up. The seclusion of the villages was comforting in comparison to the noisy cities they visited. But being here, in New York City, one of the busiest cities to date, it was strange at first, but Lexa found comfort in Clarke during her stay. The banquet of this size would be a first for them both.
“It has, with our time spent arguing, Madi, and the case, we can't find time for ourselves,” Clarke said.
“I hope we can eventually,” Lexa said.
While they couldn't travel outside of the states, for now, it would be something they can talk about when things settled down. The carriage moved into the city streets. Lexa reached her hand over to hold on to Clarke's palm.
“The plan remains.” Lexa started. “You will socialize with the guest, Mr. Wallace and I will try to see if I can find anything related to our case.”
“Be careful,” Clarke warned.
“I have ways to dealing with trouble should it arise,” Lexa said.
Lexa lifted Clarke's hand and kissed the back of her palm. Lexa leaned over, kissing Clarke's temple. The contact flaring a rush of desire through her and Lexa clenched her jaw to try and bite away her growing desire, fueled by her rut. The time they spent together seemed to have only satisfied her need for a few hours. Clarke cupped a hand around Lexa's slender neck and kissed her. Lexa moaned, shifting to sit sideways and face Clarke and pin her against the side of the carriage. Lexa parted, gasping and shortness of breath. Clarke looked up into her dim glowing red eyes. The feel of her skin heated and flushed. Clarke glided her hand down Lexa's vest.
“I shouldn't,” Lexa whispered, her lips brushing against Clarke's cheeks.
But the longer she sat her, leaning over Clarke, seeing her tilted back below her, and her cheeks hinted red and her glimmering blue eyes filled with desire, the harder it was for Lexa to turn away. The banquet wasn't that far, in the same neighborhood. Clarke's hand shifted down to the waist of Lexa's pants and loosened the button. Lexa put her hand over Clarke's.
“You can't arrive like this,” Clarke said.
“I can manage for tonight,” Lexa assured.
Lexa delicately kissed the scar of her mark along Clarke's neck and she moaned. Impulsively, Clarke pressed a hand to Lexa's cheek and kissed her, tender and slow, relishing the feel of her against her. They parted, Lexa's eyes still closed and her breath uneven. A low growl emitted from her parted plump lips.
“Later tonight, I promise,” Lexa mumbled.
The carriage stopped and they parted an inch away, to try and look presentable. Cage's manor was a gothic designed building. Guest stood outside on the porch, behind the railings with drinks chatting and laughing. Lexa and Clarke stepped out, in awe of the liveliness of the event. They walked up the stairs and into the foyer of the manor. The blaring sound of chatting and music intensified, echoing through the halls. They reached the ballroom, lit with dozen of candles, and decorated with elongated mahogany tables set with food, and an orchestra in the front of the room.
“Would you like a drink?” Lexa asked.
Human alcohol had little effect on her, but it might help ease her mind full of a room of the city's socialites. Lexa had never felt out of her element as much as now. She picked up two flutes of red wine from a passing waitress with a tray in his hand. Lexa handed one to Clarke.
“There's Cage,” Clarke said.
He was stationed in the center of the room with Lorelei and a group of other men all with drinks in hand. They approached the group. Cage spotted Clarke mid-conversation and stopped to greet her.
“Ms. Griffin, you made it! Welcome, I'm so glad you came. And this must be Ms. Harper?” Cage said, extending his hand.
Lexa shook his hand with a smile. The eyes of the group on them.
“I have to say, you were not what I expected.” Cage said, looking over Lexa's outfit.
Lexa gripped the flaps of her jacket collar, tugging it forward to cover her vest. She noticed the questioning looks from the other guest, as expected. She was a woman wearing men's clothing, something that got looks wherever she went.
“Uh, allow me to introduce you to everyone,” Cage said, motioning to Lorelei.
“This is Lorelei and my dearest friends Carl Emerson, Sargent Bryan, Langston, and James Shaw.”
They each shook hands with Lexa and Clarke. These men were taller than Cage and thick in build, more rugged in their appearance. Their faces covered in scars and clean shaved. They stood with their backs erected at attention. Contrast to their suits and not the type of friends a doctor of Cage's class would have. Lexa had never seen men look so uncomfortable in high-quality custom suits, possibly bought by Cage himself for this event.
“Gentlemen, this is the infamous vampire hunter Clarke Griffin and Lexa Harper. They have quite a reputation in their field of work.” Cage said.
Sargent Bryan chuckled.
“Cage has spent years boasting about your work.” He said. “It's almost all he talks about aside from his study of medicine. You've left quite an impression on him, Ms. Griffin.”
Cage took a sip from his flute.
“Ah please, tell us a story of one of your travels. I am familiar with many that made it to the papers, but I'm most curious about the grittiness of the work.” Cage encouraged.
“Oh, I don't want to take the attention of your party. I'm merely a guest.” Clarke said.
“I insist, we all have so many questions. Please, humor me.” Cage answered. “How can we tell a werewolf apart from humans?”
Lexa's jaw clenched. She gripped the stem of her flute a little harder and side glanced at Clarke. Clarke fought against rubbing a comforting hand over Lexa's forearm. The distance they were from each other, just an inch away, was tantalizing and difficult for Clarke to adapt to. She wanted more than anything to hold Lexa's hand.
“Well, if you must know, there are many ways to find out, but one sign is scarring,” Clarke said.
Carl scoffed, a shake of his head in disbelief. Clarke noticed the three gash marks of scars along this jawline.
“So you're telling me, these things exist?” He asked. “I suppose silver does kill a werewolf then too?”
Langston swirled his cup in his left hand. All Lexa could see from these men were looks of judgment and snarky questions behind their smiles. They had their doubts like the people they helped.
“Forgive my bluntness, but how could a girl of your stature even take down a werewolf? These are a well known powerful beast, or so the lore says.” Langston said.
Lexa took a nervous gulp from her cup. This was territory she didn't want to speak about with men like them, arrogant and snobby. They were women after all working in a field that many might say would be fit only for a man. Clarke was much calmer in comparison to Lexa's growing anger.
“Yes, a werewolf is quite large, but I have ways of defending myself,” Clarke explained.
Shaw stuffed his hands into his jacket pocket. He stared blatantly at Lexa.
“And what about you Ms. Harper? How do you deal with a werewolf?” Shaw said.
Lexa politely smiled, holding back the flaring rage inside her. The way these men looked at her, judging her, questioning if women such as them could deal with dangerous monsters they didn't believe.
“I do more of the physical work, Clarke is the brains of this operation, so to speak,” Lexa admitted. “Being that this work is physically demanding, I find men's clothes to be less constricting and easier to move about when the time for a brawl should happen.”
The men chuckled.
“You fight?” Shaw questioned.
They laughed again.
“But aren't you both concerned with marriage? Surely, you're both well over the marrying age.” Lorelei said.
Lexa bit her bottom lip, trying not to glare at such a comment. Clarke let out a fake airy laugh.
“There isn't time for such things. People need our help all over the world from such a beast.” Clarke replied.
Cage nodded. He seemed the least tantalizing, genuinely curious of their skills, but he did nothing to stop his friends from questioning their capability of these cases. Lexa had no better of a view on him.
“And you take pride in your work to put any personal agendas aside.” He commented.
“This work is not easy and it can be tiring and dangerous. There is no room for error, but having Lexa with me makes the grueling work much more bearable.” Clarke said.
Lexa glanced down at her flute, smiling. She gulped her cup. She didn't trust herself to not have a look of admiration at Clarke if she locked eyes with her. That was something she didn't want these pigheaded men to see either.
“Would you excuse me for a moment?” Lexa said, exiting the group.
On her way out, Lexa placed her cup down and stepped out of the ballroom. As expected, the guest was too busy mingling and drinking with each other to notice her. The way guests moved, off-balance and sluggish, showed many were long drunk by now and no longer paying attention to their surroundings. Lexa moved through the crowd, trying to find doors that weren't locked. At the end of the hall, Lexa entered a library room, filled with books. She examined the room, finding a pile of books on a table. Some of the books were left opened, Lexa looked over the covers, then the pages. A collection of the books was about spells and werewolves, some vampires and folklores of the monsters. Lexa put the books down and left, sprinting down the hall. A noise from one of the doors she passed caught her attention and tried to open it but the door wouldn't budge. A snarl emitted from behind the door followed by screaming of agony. Lexa rushed away from the door.
They carried on the night, but as expected, Lexa grew more annoyed with Cage's presence. He flaunted over his earnings, property, his knowledge of Clarke's past cases. He was everything Lexa hated about the rich. He talked about his travels around the world, the old money his family came from, the plans he had for his practice of medicine, and the land he was looking to buy if he doesn't plan to return to Canada. In contrast, Clarke was better at pretending to want to listen. The men knock back cup after cup of wine and Lexa drank to keep up pretenses of its effects, while feeling nothing at all.
“Ms. Griffin, would you like to dance?” Cage offered.
“It's alright.” Lorelei coaxed.
Lexa took a long gulp from her flute as Cage took Clarke's hand and brought her to the dance floor. Clarke watched Lexa for some time, still hesitant to be this close to him, but focused back to him and his goofy prideful smile.
“I truly, thank you for coming tonight, Clarke. You've made my night.” Cage said as he took the lead of the dance.
“I'm glad to know there are people who do believe in my work,” Clarke said.
“Oh, I haven't doubted you for a second.” Cage replied. “I've noticed there has been no news on any further cases. Why is that?”
“I needed a break, twenty years of traveling can be quite tiring,” Clarke admitted.
Cage raised a brow.
“Do you plan to return?”
“Perhaps, there's been much to think about,” Clarke said.
Clarke had Madi. As far as she was concerned, she was was worried about her safety and if that meant no longer hunting that would need to be done. But with this case, Clarke couldn't ignore it thinking that Madi could be a target. There was a moment of silence as they move through the dance floor.
“I hope to see more of you, now that you remain in New York, for however brief it may be.” Cage said.
“My father loved America. I've come to enjoy it too.” Clarke said.
The music ended and they parted, returning to the group of friends. Clarke and Lexa stayed a little longer, but with how boisterous they were becoming Lexa saw no reason to stay around. After all, she found what she needed. They get into the carriage and Lexa looked out the window as the carriage rode away from the manor.
“Are you alright?” Clarke asked.
Lexa turned around.
“Yes.” She said.
“I just... If you didn't want me to dance with Cage I could have declined.” Clarke said.
Lexa raised a brow.
“I know you did,” Clarke said. “I can feel it.”
“What is it?” Clarke asked.
Lexa shook her head. She placed her hands on her lap.
“It's just... I should only be able to feel your emotions, because of my mark on you.” Lexa said. “If you can feel mine then that would mean I too have a mark.”
“That can't be,” Clarke said. “Can it?”
“After the number of impossibles that have happened between us, I can't say for sure if this is true or not. The sooner we get home the better.” Lexa said.
Costia was in the lounge when they arrived that night, a cup of wine in her hand. Maya asked if they would like a glass, but neither wanted to drink after spending their night at the banquet. Maya left and they joined Costia on the couch.
“Is something wrong?” Costia asked.
Lexa clasped her hands together over her lap and nodded.
“Mr. Wallace lets on more than he does,” Lexa said. “I managed to enter one of his studies and the entire room was full of books on vampires, werewolves, monsters of much different lore.”
“That would explain his interest in me. Why else would a doctor have such books on monsters?” Clarke asked.
Costia put her cup down on the ottoman.
“And you think that would be his motive?” She said.
Lexa gripped her hands before exhaling and releasing them.
“There's more,” Lexa added. “I passed a room and heard voices. They weren't human sounds it may be possible people are down there, but I suspect other werewolves too. In a cellar of some sort.”
Costia glared. Lexa knew this would change the case should she say this. That this would change everything they wanted to avoid since the start. But the idea of a possible werewolf held hostage by a human didn't make matters better for them.
“This case is officially wolf business. On our behalf, we thank you for your assistance, Clarke.” Costia said.
“I can't just step aside and let you lead this case. Madi is still at risk.” Clarke said.
“As are my people of this city, which I can not ignore as their leader,” Costia stated.
“So Madi isn't your people now?”
Costia sighed, pinching a finger against the bridge of her nose. Lexa bit her bottom lip, afraid where this conversation would lead. Costia kept her composure.
“Officially, no she is not. That was something Lexa and you were deciding on, but I will have my people continue to help you in any way they can.” Costia said. “But you must understand the bigger picture, a brewing war with humans all over again is the farthest thing I'm sure anyone would ever want wolf or not.”
How could the focus of the case go from protecting her and Madi to now the pack? Clarke had reason to be hesitant, but now with dangers, she faced she needed their help. Lexa shifted, keeping her gaze down as Clarke sat fuming.
“There's something else.” Lexa interrupted.
She looked up at Costia.
“During the dinner Clarke... Experienced my feelings.” Lexa said.
Costia faced Clarke, who nodded.
“I felt her jealousy while I was dancing with Mr. Wallace.”
Lexa blushed, rubbing the back of her neck with a sigh.
“And now what do you feel?” Costia asked.
Clarke looked at Lexa, her shoulders bunched up and her hands clenched at her sides.
“Her desire for me,” Clarke said.
Clarke nodded. Costia stood, approaching Lexa and examining her. There wasn't a bite mark or scar of any kind on her neck.
“What else could cause this?” Clarke questioned.
“Magic perhaps, but I would need to check,” Costia said.
“The sooner the better. I know the case is important, but I just...I need to know if this is true.” Lexa muttered.
“Come with me.”
Chapter 10: Part X
This fic is now halfway done.
Lexa stood in the middle of Costia's bedroom in her drawers, socks, and linen shirt. The rest of her clothing discarded and neatly set on the vanity set. She sighed, watching Costia work grinding herbs on her study desk with a mortar and pestle.
“Is this necessary?” Lexa asked. “What will that do anyway?”
“This spell will help me see anything that may explain why Clarke is connected to you without the need of a mating bite,” Costia answered, focused on her task.
“You don't think it should be something to worry about, do you?” Lexa said.
“What Clarke has experienced is unheard of, but I must be sure.”
Lexa tugged at the sleeve of her shirt. The baggy linen material covering her fingers. She pulled the sleeve back to set the cuff on her slim wrist.
“I've only spent a year reading the books you requested I finish,” Lexa admitted.
“That single volume is not enough to inform you of the 80 years of research that has happened to our species as a whole,” Costia said, with a scoff.
“I know, it's why I brought the book with me,” Lexa said. “If it's true Clarke can feel my emotions does that mean everything else she can experience?”
Costia nodded. Lexa gulped. She glanced down at her pelvis. The trail of her rut still left behind. Lexa put a hand over her growing erection.
“How long will this take? I'm standing here almost naked.” Lexa complained.
Costia chuckled, tossing another dry herb into the mortar.
“You have nothing I haven't seen before Lexa. We've hunted together remember?” Costia said. “And you're in your undergarments, don't be dramatic.”
Lexa let out a flustered grunt.
“Has your rut been painful since your time with Clarke?” Costia asked.
“Slightly, but I keep up with the concoctions and meditations,” Lexa said.
“And I'm sure Clarke must now feel this?”
“I'm aware. I can smell it.” Lexa said.
Costia glanced over her shoulder.
“Are you concerned about losing control?”
Lexa shifted a flare of anxiousness hitting her hands. She wiggled her fingers to ease the sensation. It did little to soothe her.
“I always am.” Lexa agreed.
Costia finished the last of her grinding and stood, facing Lexa with the mortar in her hands. She added a dash of yellow oil from a small bottle then mixed it into a paste. Costia dipped her fingers into it and approached Lexa. The dark green paste was smeared along Lexa's forehead, down the bridge of her nose, cheeks, and down the center of Lexa's chest. Lexa shivered.
“I feel a tingling sensation,” Lexa said.
They watched the paste dissolve into Lexa's skin.
“Relax and be still,” Costia ordered.
The sensation increased, covering Lexa's entire body before her chest began to glow, and amber yellow through the shirt. The glowing increased and a ball of light pulsed in the center.
“Would you mind... Removing your shirt?” Costia requested.
Lexa took off her shirt. A bold handprint showed between Lexa's breast.
“W-What is this?” Lexa asked.
Costia's lips pursed together.
“Clarke has indeed marked you, both of your souls are bind together. I have never...” Costia whispered she ghosted her two fingers down the handprint. “This is highly advanced magic and done with both parties willing it.”
“Clarke couldn't have done this,” Lexa said.
“When did you start to feel different?” Costia asked.
Lexa rubbed the back of her neck, trying to recall anything strange in her time here.
“Since we... It couldn't be.” Lexa insisted, glancing at Costia who raised a brow. “Since we slept together.”
“This spell must be been unknowingly on Clarke's end and her abilities seem to be growing faster than she's aware. This is remarkable.” Costia stated.
“Is this dangerous?”
Costia crossed her arms over her chest.
“I can't be sure,” Costia said.
Costia lifted Lexa's hands to her face. The palms were glowing faint lines of orange, pulsing and crossing over her palms like thick threads.
“Now this may be something of concern,” Costia said.
“What is it?”
Costia faced her.
“Clarke and you now share the same lifeline,” Costia replied. “Get dressed, we must tell Clarke.”
“How is this possible?” Clarke said, staring at Lexa's hands.
The glowing stopped by now. Costia watched Clarke pace around the ottoman.
“This was a binding, a magical one. I suspect it was made when the two of you... You get the idea, but either way, done subconsciously by you.” Costia informed. “Magic has to do with intention and the caster's strong feelings when spells are made.”
Clarke sighed, stopping and faced them.
“And with Lexa and I arguing for so long all I wanted was to reconcile and have some sort of connection with her,” Clarke muttered, a scoff of disbelief. “Is Lexa in any danger?”
Costia didn't look hopeful or reassuring either. This entire situation was something neither of them suspected or knew how to deal with. As far as Clarke knew, she couldn't subconsciously cast a spell, but with her time here in New York and the free time she had maybe those days of practice advanced her abilities.
“I can not say for certain. I am no master at hand readings. That's Echo's expertise.” Costia said. “I can have someone send for her.”
“Why not do that in the morning? It's too late.” Lexa suggested.
“I don't see why not. There is no life or death situation at the moment.”
“First thing in the morning then, I'll have Maya step out,” Clarke said.
Costia stood, smoothing her skirt.
“Alright, have a good evening,” Costia said. “See you in the morning.”
Costia left the lounge. Lexa remained seated and Clarke stood by the flickering fire, staring into the hearth. This wasn't what they had in mind to end their night. But with this newfound information, it did little to put any of them in the mood unlike how they felt during the carriage ride to the banquet. Clarke turned around.
“Are you bothered by this?” Lexa asked, watching her.
She reached over to the ottoman and poured a cup of whiskey for them.
“Aren't you?” Clarke said.
“For you to have an emotional connection with a werewolf was something I wanted for so long,” Lexa admitted.
She picked up her cup and took a sip. Clarke stride over, picking up the second cup.
“You're happy about it,” Clarke noted.
Lexa chuckled, taking another gulp and nodded.
“Something like this wouldn't come without consequences, given the cases we deal with,” Clarke said. “You would feel everything I do.”
Lexa put down her cup, sighing.
“It can be. While I was away I felt all of your worries.” Lexa admitted. “If this makes you uncomfortable I'm sure we can find a way to remove it.”
This would change things between them to an extent. Clarke shouldn't feel this level of closeness with another. She was a human and Lexa seemed to have time to adjust to such a thing.
“It isn't that, but rather your desire is what I'm concerned about,” Clarke said. “Your rut, was it always this painful?”
Lexa bashfully turned away.
“Not with the concoctions,” Lexa replied.
Clarke reached down and took hold of Lexa's hand.
“You shouldn't have to withhold that from me. Your ruts are apart of who you are.” Clarke said.
Lexa nodded. She looked up into sparkling blue eyes and Clarke dipped down and kissed her, grabbing Lexa by the collar of her shirt. Lexa moaned, leaning back on to the couch with Clarke following her. Lexa parted with a breathy whimper and smiled. She rolled on to her side, cuddling next to Clarke, a hand now wrapped around Clarke's hips and pressed against her back.
“Clarke,” Lexa whispered, her nose brushing against Clarke's.
“Don't try to deny this isn't what you want. I can feel you, remember?” Clarke said.
She pressed her hand against Lexa's chest, rubbing against her collarbone. Lexa grinned.
“It doesn't take a magical connection to figure that out,” Lexa said, pushing her hips forward.
Clarke laughed feeling the throb of Lexa's erection against her. Clarke stroked another hand down the curve of Lexa's neck and felt her shiver. Clarke exhaled.
“This is going to take some time to get used to,” Clarke said.
Lexa smiled, watching Clarke unbutton her vest and sat up to toss it over the couch.
The house erupted with shouting and a sharp scream of agony. The floorboards rumble and squeak with the sound of Bellamy's boots stomping through the foyer. Maya rushed out of the dining room. Bellamy had a man grabbed by the collar of his frock coat. The man gripped Bellamy's wrist, yelling and twisting to try and break free. His face full of fear and covered in sweat and a cut on his lip.
“Mr. Blake, what's going on?” Maya asked.
Bellamy brought them into the lounge.
“Have Clarke come down at once to open the basement,” Bellamy said. “Clarke?!”
Raven ran to the railing on top of the grand staircase.
He called her over with his free hand and she ran down the steps, pulling up the skirt of her dress an inch. Maya raced passed her upstairs, knocking on the nearest bedroom door. Costia, already away from the commotion was the first to join Bellamy.
“I'll help you,” Costia said.
They head to the basement, pulling and dragging the man along the way. His struggle did little to break him free. Clarke arrived with a key in hand to unlock the door then handed Bellamy the chains and shackles he needed to keep their hostage tied to a support beam. Costia stood quiet, looking the man over with a scowl.
“What's the plan?” Raven said.
The basement door opened and Lexa entered, now fully dressed and her hair tied up.
“I found this man following me for the last three days,” Bellamy stated. “He must know something about the killings, but he denies anything.”
Costia stepped closer, her jaw clenched. The man gulped.
“You're not a part of my pack,” Costia said.
“Please miss, I was just... I'm only a thief.” He whimpered.
“You will tell me everything you know and no more lying,” Costia said.
He quivered against the pillar, whimpering and begging to be let free. Costia looked between everyone, a glare of annoyance on her face.
“Should we get the tools out?” Raven asked.
The man flinched.
“Alright, alright I'll speak.” He said. “My name is Lionel. I was hired to watch you.”
Clarke approached him.
“By who?” She asked.
“I don't know.”
Bellamy struck him with the back of his hand across Lionel's face. He curled up against the pillar, his arms wrapped around his knees.
“He didn't give me a name!” Lionel cried.
“Where did you meet him?” Lexa said.
“At a local bar.”
Costia picked up parchment paper from one of the crates left to the side with construction tools. She handed him a pencil.
“Write the address.” She ordered.
“What did this man want?” Bellamy said, taking a step closer.
Lionel jumped, seeing his hand flex.
“I-I'm not sure, but he hired others too and told us to just keep an eye on everyone,” Lionel said. “He was a military man. He wore a couple of badges on his coat.”
“Why would he have wolves he hired, killed?” Clarke said.
Lionel shrugged, clasping his hands together as he shook.
“I don't know, possibly loose ends,” Lionel replied.
“Much like you.” She said.
Lionel brushed a bloody hand through his frayed hair. A wrecking sob shaking his shoulders.
“Bellamy, I trust you to deal with this, but keep it out of the manor,” Costia instructed.
Bellamy nodded. He waited for Lionel to write the address on the piece of paper and took it.
“I can get Murphy to look into the bar with Miller,” Bellamy said.
Costia left the basement. Bellamy grabbed Lionel by his hair, pulling his head back. He yelled, shaking his head and pleading.
“You can't be serious about killing him?” Clarke rebutted.
“He told us all he could,” Bellamy said. “He's as good as dead either way by the man who hired him. We can find others who will speak at the bar.”
“Clarke?” Lexa called, waving her over to the other side of the basement.
“You agree with this?” Clarke hissed.
Lexa sighed. This was something she couldn't control. Bellamy found someone to give us another lead and he couldn't be kept here. That was something everyone could at least agree on. He was a danger in this household. A desperate wolf was a dangerous one.
“Clarke, if he stays what if he kills someone while he's trying to get out or takes Madi?” Lexa said. “He's a wolf, Clarke. Who is to say he hasn't killed others for sport?”
Footsteps creaked from above their heads followed by crying. Clarke recognized Madi's cry by now. She looked back at Lionel then Lexa with a frown.
“I can have Bellamy deal with it elsewhere,” Lexa said. “We have people to clean it up.”
“Is this part of wolf business?” Clarke said.
The basement door opened and Maya stood at the top of the stairs with Madi, still crying. She rocked her in her arms, trying to soothe her.
“Ms, I'm sorry to interrupt, but Madi is--”
“It's alright Maya. I'll handle it.” Clarke said, walking up the stairs.
She took Madi in her arms before leaving. Lexa sighed and left just as Bellamy wrapped his arm around Lionel's neck into a chokehold.
Chapter 11: Part XI
Maya knew better to not ask about what happened in the basement. She can tell it had Clarke upset. She barely touched her breakfast as she held Madi to calm her. The whole house was filled with tension. Bellamy left with a body on his way out wrapped in linen sheets. Lexa kept walking the house, checking to see if anyone else was watching them. Then it's quiet again once Bellamy was gone with the body and with Miller and Murphy in the carriage. Then lunch came around and Clarke didn't bother to come down. Lexa ate alone not happy to do so, but hesitant to speak with Clarke again. After Lexa was done eating, Maya went back into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and Lexa followed her out to the garden where Clarke sat sulking with Madi in the bassinet, resting. Clarke didn't say anything when Lexa approached and she took it upon herself to take a seat. When the tea was served, Maya returned to the house with the tray. Clarke didn't touch her tea and Lexa served her a cup before her own.
“We shouldn't continue to live like this.” Lexa said.
Clarke glanced at her, but kept her attention to her sketchbook and charcoal.
“Clarke please, I don't want to end up back where we started when I first got here.” Lexa pleaded. “I did what I thought was right for Madi.”
“Maybe we don't exactly see eye to eye on that.” Clarke said.
Lexa dropped in two cubes of sugar for her tea and stirred it with a silver spoon.
“I know you're scared. I can feel it.” Lexa said. “And maybe killing that wolf wasn't the best idea, but he would have told his employer the second he got free. How is that better?”
Clarke put down her sketchbook.
“How can you be so calm? I almost can't feel you.” Clarke said.
Of all the feelings Clarke felt from Lexa at this moment, fear was not one of them. Even when making the decision to kill Lionel there wasn't a drop of fear. There was anger and determination, but nothing of that nature, not even regret.
“The meditations keep me grounded.” Lexa said. “But I do think what I did was the right thing. I can't risk anyone hurting Madi. I have the best interest in her, believe me.”
Lexa dropped in three sugar cubes for Clarke, before picking up her own cup and took a sip. Clarke closed her sketch book and picked up her teacup. Clarke felt a blimp of sympathy. A faint glow of concern and it brought Clarke's temper at ease. Lexa wanted nothing more than to protect them.
“This bar, is it wolf territory?” Clarke asked.
“It' neutral ground. Visitors pass through like a hostel, so to speak.” Lexa said.
“Will you go too?”
“I will.” Lexa confirmed.
She put her cup down on its saucer. Clarke blew at the rim of the cup before taking a swig.
“You don't want me to go.” Lexa stated.
Clarke can't deny it. Lexa felt her emotions too. That was something she could see being a hinderance. There was no way of breaking the news at her pace. Lexa would know without her saying anything and vice versa.
“What if it turns out bad?” Clarke said.
“I won't be alone. I'll have Costia with me.”
The stakes were high. Everyone in this manor was at risk, but Clarke knew she was the target, possibly Madi too. Lexa could be used against her. A wolf or not, Lexa could get hurt if she was outnumbered, even with help.
“I understand why you're scared. I need to do this Clarke. I need to take the risk to make sure you can be safe.” Lexa said.
Clarke shook her head. She couldn't leave now. The only thing she had was what was inside the manor. She faced Lexa, seeing the pleading look on her face. The pulse of emotion filling Clarke in the pit of her stomach. Lexa was afraid too. A small glow of it hit Clarke.
“I would do anything for you and for Madi.” Lexa whispered.
Even if it meant killing a wolf of another pack. If it meant going into another wolf's territory, neutral or not to get answers.
“When do you leave?” Clarke asked.
“An hour or so.”
Clarke slid her saucer and teacup farther away from the edge of the table. She dragged her wooden easel from the other end of the garden and brought it to the table. She opened the box on the back of it, sorting through her paints and brushes. She set them on to the table, laying out her paints on her wooden palette.
“What are you doing?” Lexa asked.
“Painting is the only thing that soothes me.” Clarke said. “Do you mind if I paint a portrait of you?”
“Not at all.” Lexa said.
Clarke carefully picked up Madi to not disturb her and handed her to Lexa. She went back to her easel. Clarke went to work, laying down flat strokes of color to get her foundation of the piece. Lexa studied Madi, stroking a finger down her chubby cheek.
“Do you wonder if she'll have your curious nature?” Lexa said.
“That would be a handful.”
“Oh I don't doubt it.” She agreed.
Clarke glanced over her easel.
“I suppose raising a child doesn't get easier either.” She noted. “A child like her will need plenty of outdoor adventures.”
“Maybe a bike will do when she's ten.” Clarke said.
“Traveling around the world would do her some good.” Lexa suggested.
“We'll deal with that when we get there.” Clarke said.
Lexa stayed for dinner with Costia. Clarke was less anxious, but still concerned about Lexa. She trusted Costia to watched after Lexa. While she had no reason to be worried, Clarke couldn't stop herself from thinking of what could go wrong and how could she be able to watch after Madi alone. They started to grow comfortable around each other again and working together to raise Madi for once since Lexa's arrival. It was something Clarke didn't want to give up. Clarke finished putting Madi to bed when she entered the foyer. Murphy, Bellamy, and Octavia waited for Lexa and Costia.
“Miller and Echo are in the carriage.” Bellamy announced.
“Do you need any help?” Raven asked.
“I'm sure we can deal with it. I want everyone to carry a concealed weapon.” Costia said. “I don't intend to be violent, but at the moment I can not guarantee that.”
Bellamy pulled out a blade from his trench coat pocket and handed it to Costia who stuffed it into her pocket. The rest of the group showed their pocket knifes before tucking them away. Lexa approached Clarke, seeing her face stoic, but the vibe she felt from her was teetering on fear.
“Clarke,” Lexa called.
“I rather you stay here.” Clarke said.
Lexa placed a hand on her forearm, firmly squeezing it.
“I promise to be careful. I have every intention of returning back to you.” Lexa promised. “Preferably, with you and Madi for the night.”
Clarke gave a meek teary smile. Clarke leaned forward, briefly kissing Lexa, pulling away just as Lexa was going to cup a hand around her neck. Clarke exhaled and handed Lexa a gold necklace with a clear crystal in the center. It was in the shape of a tear drop.
“I got this months ago, but just a few days ago I put a charm on it. It'll keep you safe.” Clarke said.
She helped Lexa put it on before tucking it into her shirt. Lexa hugged her, stroking Clarke's back, hoping to soothe her. She kissed the top of Clarke's head before parting.
“I will do what I can to return.” Lexa said.
Bellamy handed Lexa a pocket knife that she stuffed into her pants pocket. They leave the manor, entering the carriages that awaited them.
“What is the plan?” Lexa said.
“Miller, Echo, and Murphy will enter from the back of the pub. The rest of us through the front. The last thing I want is for them to escape.” Costia said. “You are all to wait for my command to fight should there be a need.”
They all give a nod of agreement and the ride is tensely silent, filled with determination and anger. This was to put an end to the danger of everyone in that manor. At least, that was the intention.
The bar was a tiny building packed with low class workers. A cluster of workers in tweed trench coats stopped chuckling as they were playing their game of poker. There was a thick cloud of smoke above their heads from their lit cigars. They all watched Costia and everyone else enter. The bar smelled of stagnant sweat, smoke, and liquor. Costia led them to the bar table. The bartender, a grey haired man with a scruffy beard, didn't look any more welcoming.
“Name's Alan. What can I get you?” He said.
“I'm looking for a man.” Costia replied. “He's tall with several military pins on the front pocket of his coat.”
“Why would I care about any man like that?”
Bellamy rested a curled fist on top of the counter and tapped his knuckles three times against the surface.
“This is neutral ground and humans are no exceptions.” Bellamy said.
“There was one guy. He came in last night. He's probably gone by now.”
Octavia gave out a sharp cough, tilting her head behind her to get their attention to the four guys sneaking up behind them. Costia spotted the six men playing cards shift in their chairs. Costia tisked.
“I was really hoping none of you would do this.” Costia said.
A chair was tossed across the room and Bellamy dodged just as it hit the bar counter and splintered.
“We don't have time for this.” Lexa hissed. “He could escape!”
Lexa leaped over the counter, swiftly landing on her feet and grabbed Alan by his jacket and slammed him face first into the counter. Octavia spun around, grabbing an on coming lead pipe to the face from the four men that sneaked on them. She squeezed her hand around the man's wrist and heard it snap just as he screamed, dropping the pipe. Bellamy moved into action, grabbing the other man looking to get a hit on to Octavia by the neck and slammed him to the ground. Lexa slammed Alan's face to the counter again.
“What room?!” She yelled.
Alan coughed, splattering the surface with his blood.
“Second floor! Third door!” He yelped.
Lexa forced him to stand and kicked him in the gut to send him doubling over. Lexa dashed out of the bartender booth and raced upstairs while everyone else took care of the fight downstairs. She made quick work kicking in the door when she reached the room, but it was empty. The only remains in the room were a heated meal of roasted chicken with potatoes on top of a writing desk and a pint of ale. A single window was left open. Lexa raced to the ledge of the window, but couldn't find anything. The noise downstairs intensified. The sound of yelling, grunting, thumping, and shattered plates. She left the room just as the fight started to settle down. She reached the bottom of the steps as Costia stepped on to a man's neck with a huff.
“He's gone.” Lexa said.
“This man must be paying everyone in this room a pretty penny to protect him.” Costia said, glancing down at Alan.
“Do you have any idea what you're doing?” Bellamy said.
“A sacred rule has been broken.” Miller informed.
Costia shook her head, disappointed and angry.
“Tie everyone up and move them out of here.” Costia said, releasing her foot from Alan's neck.
Costia went upstairs with Lexa, scanning the room. She opened the wardrobe that had several daily wears in it still.
“He must have left in a hurry.” Costia said.
“With that noise I would too. He must have left something.” Lexa said.
They sift through the wardrobe and drawers. Lexa even flipped over the cot of the bed. She pulled a suitcase from under the bed and ripped of the padlock. Buried under linen shirts, was a pistol, of military grade tucked away.
“This is all we need.” Lexa said, picking up the gun.
Chapter 12: Part XII
Clarke heard the commotion from the lounge. Lexa and Costia entered the foyer the march of Lexa's boots echoing through the silence.
“Where is everyone?” Clarke said.
They enter the lounge, Lexa sighing with her hands shaking still suffering the rush from the bar fight.
“We ran into trouble at the bar,” Costia said. “While it was neutral ground the patrons inside deiced to team with this human.”
“Are they from other packs?” Clarke asked.
“My pack is the biggest in the country. They were foolish to attack me.” Costia remarked.
“And with power and fear, you will run the others?” Clarke said.
Costia frowned. She knew Clarke wouldn't understand. She knew so little about them as a whole. It was something Costia would hope with time Clarke would understand, given she had Madi.
“I have been sure to make the rules learn and in agreement with the other packs. The shared agreement being those who break the sacred ground will be prosecuted, something those people knew. Which is why they had weapons, hoping to silence us for good with that advantage.” Costia said.
Lexa stepped between them, fearing the tension would bring about something more physical.
“We were on the right track, Clarke.” Lexa insisted. “We found where this human was staying. He is indeed a military man. He left in a hurry and we found this.”
Lexa took out a piece of cloth and unwrapped it to show the pistol she found from the boarding room.
“His clothes were left behind, but he made sure to take any form of identification,” Costia said.
“You want me to do a location spell?” Clarke questioned.
Costia and Lexa nodded.
“Bring it to the library,” Clarke said.
Costia scanned over a shelf with books on classical arts of the Renaissance, while Clarke worked over a table scattered with roots and plant leaves. Lexa stood beside Clarke, watching her grind the plants into a fine powder. Lexa bit her bottom lip, exhaling and paced behind Clarke, back and forth, the stomp of her boots sound with each step. Clarke flipped a page to her book laid beside the mortar.
“Will you stop?” Clarke said. “Your pacing is making me anxious.”
Lexa stopped, licking her lips and faced Clarke with her arms crossed over her chest. The bond between them only intensified their feelings and Lexa had yet to figure that out when to lessen it.
“I can't help it. We're close to something crucial.” Lexa replied.
Costia walked away from the bookshelf.
“Perhaps a cup of tea would calm you,” Costia said.
Clarke finished adding her powdered ingredients into her bowl. With a wooden spoon, she mixed it then took a pinch of it and sprinkled it over the gun. She let the powder coat it with a mix of greens, reds, and blacks and waited. The gun glowed green before settling. Clarke frowned.
“It'll glow green when it's close to the owner of this gun,” Clarke said.
“No more potions?” Costia asked.
“I've had some time to practice and find better options to avoid bitter potions,” Clarke said.
Costia picked up the gun, stuffing it into her pocket.
“You need to be careful. If you are closer to the trail it means this man knows too and he will attack too.” Clarke advised.
“I don't doubt that,” Costia said. “In the meantime, Bellamy and Raven will stay watch of the manor with Maya, as a precaution.”
“Then we shouldn't waste time,” Lexa said.
Costia thanked her for her help as Lexa left the library. It gave Clarke little time to say her goodbyes or try to talk Lexa out of leaving, but knowing her, Clarke doubted she could get Lexa to stay. Costia was then gone and Clarke went to cleaning up the powder.
Costia handed the gun to Lexa in the foyer. Bellamy was the first to arrive. Miller and Echo stood to watch outside for the others. They still had to wait for Octavia and Murphy to arrive. By then Clarke finished cleaning up her mess in the library and joined everyone. Lexa looked over the gun in her palm before covering it with the cloth and stuffing it into her coat. She approached Clarke. The closeness of her in the same room as Lexa only made the emotions Lexa felt from her increase. She walked to Clarke.
“You're worried,” Lexa whispered.
“With good reason.”
“When this is all over, we can be at peace and I wish to travel with you and Madi,” Lexa said.
“You're picking a human over pack?” Clarke said.
Lexa stroked a hand down Clarke's forearm.
“You're more than that. A well-acclaimed vampire hunter, a wonderful mother, and my mate I am proud to claim as my own.” Lexa said. “I wish to devote my time to you and my family. Even if you wish to stay in the city rather than in a village I will be with you.”
Lexa felt the fear wash away from Clarke. Her eyes speckled with tears of joy. Clarke placed a hand over Lexa's knuckles, rubbing her thumb over it. Maya answered the door and Octavia and Murphy entered. Lexa placed a kissed on Clarke's temple.
“I must leave now,” Lexa said.
Clarke wasn't a nervous wreck this time to see Lexa leave with everyone else out front to the awaiting carriage.
It was a tiring walk through the city streets. The hours they spent with the gun in hand hoping to find a trail. It led them to various neighborhoods. Lexa grew restless moving through the streets as the sun began to set. Her stomach growled, having missed lunch and wanted more than anything to return back with Clarke to share dinner with her. Then the gun glowed, right outside of a tailoring shop in the lower east side of the city. Lexa split up with Murphy, walking to the back of the building, while Octavia and Costia took the front. Lexa entered an alleyway, in front of a lodging building stationed behind the tailoring shop. Lexa spotted Costia reaching the back of the building.
“Murphy, go through the back door of the lodge,” Lexa instructed.
Octavia joined Lexa to enter through the front. The business was small with only three patrons and the owner inside. Costia entered after them. The man standing at the counter, a middle-aged man with thin wispy hair stepped out from the counter.
“Can I help you?” He asked.
Lexa peeled back a flap of the cloth in her hand, the gun glowing a bright green now. Octavia whipped through the aligned tables, heading toward the stairs.
“I see something!” She yelled.
“Hey, don't go up there!” The owner said.
Murphy entered from the back door and stood in the hallway, his back pressed against the wall. Lexa and Costia follow Octavia. Lexa kicked down the second door and Octavia was quick to follow up, entering the room and pinning the man inside to the ground just as he tried to hop out of the window. Lexa put the gun back into her pocket. Octavia grabbed the tuft of dirty blonde hair and press his face into the floorboards.
“What are you – ”
Costia grabbed the owner by his shirt and slammed him into the wall. He gasped, thrown off from her strength.
“I suggest you go back downstairs and leave this to us,” Costia warned.
The owner nodded. Costia released him, watching him rub his chest before he scampered away. Lexa approached the man, looking over his room.
“Do you think he was alone?” Octavia asked.
“Bring him back to the manor,” Lexa said.
Chapter 13: Part XIII
Bellamy threw the man against the house support beam, while Echo strapped him with chains around his ankles and shackles clicked on to his wrist. He's quiet, glaring at everyone as he stood in the basement, but refused to speak. Raven entered the basement, looking him over.
“This is him?” She asked.
Lexa approached him, a hand stuffed into her trouser pockets. He stared back at her, emotionless and without an ounce of fear. Now cornered in a room full of werewolves, but he had not a single quiver in his stance.
“Why were you sent to stalk us?” Lexa asked.
He huffed his upper lip curling into a snarl. Then let out a clipped laugh.
“You being human does not exempt you from wolf law,” Costia warned.
“The longer you stay here the worse this will be,” Bellamy said.
“If we can't get him to talk what good is he here?” Octavia said.
Murphy scoffed, pulling out a pocket knife from his trousers.
“At least, not yet.” He said.
Costia folded her hands in front of her hips.
“We need him alive.” She said.
Echo picked up a pipe from the ground. Costia nodded and watched Echo struck the man at his thighs. Another hit came and smacked against his ribs, he grunted.
“How will this solve anything?” Clarke asked.
Miller stood from the ground.
“We have no choice.” He said.
Clarke left the basement as another hit landed on the man's shins and he screamed. Lexa followed her out. Sensing her presence, Clarke spun around, angry and flustered.
“They can't do things this way.” Clarke insisted.
Lexa pulled her into a hug, sensing her frustration. Clarke leaned into Lexa, her head pressing into her chest. Lexa held her for a moment, waiting for Clarke to settle down.
“The police can't know about this, our existence. How this human does is a threat.” Lexa explained.
Clarke stepped back.
“And what about me?”
Lexa nervously tugged at the sleeve of her trench coat. There was always a bit of a grey area with Clarke. The things she was allowed to know or do, how she was requested to help them track people of interest. Then so quick to be turned away to be told anything due to wolf business. The line between her and the pack was not clear.
“You have always been an exception Clarke,” Lexa said.
“And is that because I'm a hunter and made a name for myself, or because I so happened to have the child of a werewolf?” Clarke asked. “This man still has rights.”
“That isn't...” Lexa stammered, rubbing a hand down her jaw. “If we can not get him to speak we will be stuck and at risk of another attack.”
Clarke shook her head a frown in place.
“I will not be apart of that torture.”
“And you don't have to,” Lexa said.
“We were never about these methods during our days together Lexa. We never did such barbaric acts.” Clarke stated. “Is this different now because you are in a pack? Is this how you wish to do things from now on?”
“Of course not Clarke, I – ”
An agonizing scream erupted from the basement. Clarke scoffed with a shake of her head and left.
Two days passed and they don't get anywhere aside from the man standing in the basement battered and bloody. He was stripped of his outerwear, spending his days in his undergarments, the linens of his shirt and shorts coated in blood. Bellamy landed another punch into his jaw before stepping back, panting. Costia approached him, moving his head to lift it up. He glared at her through his only good eye, the other swollen shut.
“Is this how you wish to go?” Costia whispered. “Dead in a basement, strung up like cattle, buried in an unmarked grave no doubt, without your last rites?”
He laughed a dry forced chuckle. Costia wiped her hand with his sweat on to his shirt.
“I have been in war. I have seen far worse than you can do.” He grumbled.
“There are ways to keep a man alive that you can only imagine to fathom,” Costia said. “What you're meddling with is not human affairs.”
Echo handed Bellamy a pocket knife. Octavia, who stood behind him, grabbed the man by his neck and squeezed his throat between her hands. Echo took the rope hanging by her waist to tie it around the hostage's wrist and yanked his arms forward. Bellamy lowered him by loosening the rope that was tied around another beam, as a makeshift pulley. He sagged to his feet, sitting down and was forced forward with his arms stretched out. Octavia pulled his head up, causing his back to ache in the uncomfortable position. Bellamy placed a block of wood in front of him, resting his hands on it. He kneeled down, pushing the point of the blade under the man's fingernail. He cringed.
“We'll start slow. Then move to your fingers and finally your hands.” Bellamy said. “What good is a military man without his hands? Or maybe without a foot?”
There was no response and Bellamy pushed the blade forward. Blood pooled underneath the nail and Bellamy pried the blade up, ripping the nail up then yanked it off. He moved to the middle finger. The man grunted and exhaled, his face flushed red and covered in sweat. He let out an uneven sigh.
“Are either of you a God-fearing man?” He said.
Bellamy removed the blade. They all scoff.
“The wrath of God is the least of your worries,” Costia assured.
The man laughed.
“Werewolves are all the same.” He said. “Thinking once you've changed they are above humans, the lord, a higher being. When you were all once humans and you are all quick to forget that. You fear nothing, maybe it's about time you do now.”
Bellamy slammed down his pocket knife, slicing through the skin and bone of the man's middle finger. The severed appendage rolled to the floor and the man screamed. There's a crash above them and while he screamed he laughed, smiling while blood gushes from his hand. Echo bind his hands together with the rope. Maya screamed and they rushed upstairs. The foyer was overrun by men, holding guns and a crowd of werewolves. Clarke kicked a man that cornered her to a wall and yanked out her pistol to shoot him in the leg. Raven was tossed out of the lounge, scattering across the floor with her hands around her face. She stood, snarling, with her eyes glimmering and black nails protruding from her fingers. Maya was on the stairs, trying to break free of a man grabbing her by her shoulders.
“This was planned.” Echo said.
Lexa watched more men filter through the foyer. The door blew open and hanging by a hinge. Clarke came over to Lexa, surveying the attack. Through the crowd, she spotted a familiar man with a brown coned slicked back hairstyle.
“Langston?” Clarke said.
He stood in the center of the noise, a gun of his own in his hands.
“Surrender now and no one will be killed,” Langston said, staring at them.
“We will do no such things.” Lexa hissed.
“Then we will do what is necessary,” Langston said.
Lexa snarled, her hands spread open at her sides and her nails pushing through her fingertips. She swiped her hands, sinking her nails to glide across an oncoming attacker's throat. A spray of blood covered his shirt and grabbed another mid punch as he tried to punch Clarke by his neck. Lexa thrust her left hand into his stomach and yanked her hand out to send his guts to the ground. She dropped him.
“Lexa, Madi!” Clarke cried.
“Search for the child and bring her unharmed!” Langston ordered.
Lexa stared at Clarke, flooded with fear. The pause gave two men a chance to tackle Lexa and she stumbled back, trying to stay on her feet as she slides across the ground. She crouched down, holding back with her hands against their chest and stepped up to shove them back. The men soared through the air, landing on the ground, dazed.
“Clarke, get Madi out of here!” Lexa shouted.
Clarke was quick to dodge and zip through the men that tried to grab her. She raced up the stairs, shooting another man as he charged toward her on his way down. The gun leaving a blast of blood in the center of his chest. Clarke gasped, hearing crying from on top of the stairs. One of the doors from down the hall opened and a man ran out, holding Madi in his arms.
“Madi!” Clarke screamed.
Two more men emptied the room, they each held a gun in their hands. They charged toward Clarke. She pulled out her knife from her hostler and blocked a punch directed at her face with her forearm. She cringed, feeling the burn of the hit and watched the second man who charged her go flying back across the carpet. He looked surprised and confused and Clarke shot a round into the other man's face with her pistol. The man holding Madi raced down the hall, smashing a window at the end of it.
“No!” Clarke shouted.
The walls of the manor vibrated and every single window in the house shattered, raining pieces of glasses everywhere. Everyone below them dropped to the floor, hands clamped over their ears. The man holding Madi fell to his knees. He let out a cry of pain, his ears dripping blood. Lexa painfully treads her way upstairs. The one holding Madi crawled to his feet, staggering toward the window. Lexa watched someone sneak behind Clarke and hit her over the head. Lexa released a gasp of air and gripped on to the railing.
“Clarke!” Lexa called, seeing her fall to the ground conscious.
Men rush up the stairs, kicking Lexa to the floor. She's staring at Clarke when a fist landed on her face and rendered her unconscious. Langston walked up the stairs, ignoring the fight with everyone else and looked Lexa and Clarke over. A wave of more men enters the house, keeping Costia and Bellamy busy enough to be unable to help them.
“The carriages are ready and move all three of them into it,” Langston said.
Clarke groaned, feeling a throbbing ache in the back of her head. She shuffled to sit up and gingerly touch her head when she heard the clank of the chains around her wrist. She turned around to see the chains pinned to a brick wall. She tugged at the chains. The room was dark, save for three flickering white candles in the center. A light filtered from the barred window of the door across from her. The door opened and Langston entered with Shaw and Cage.
“You,” Clarke whispered.
“Hello, Ms. Griffin.” Cage said. “I apologize for the brutality of my men. I did request they leave you unharmed if possible, but so long as you behave you will not be harmed.”
Clarke tugged at her chains.
“It's just a precaution.” Cage assured.
“Where's Madi? Where is Lexa?” Clarke said.
“They are safe. Lexa is in a more secure room for obvious purposes.” Cage answered. “Madi is being watched after, warm and fed, I promise.”
“Let me out of here!”
Cage ran a hand through his hair.
“I have bigger plans for the three of you.” Cage said. “Do you have any idea how much of an assist you all are?”
“People will look for me. I'm well-known.” Clarke said.
“And that is exactly why we're in this predicament. I know all about your Clarke, the life you grew up in. A life of wealth that you gave up to hunt in the name of your father.” Cage said.
“You don't know anything about me!”
Cage stepped closer, wiping the dirt from the sleeve of his coat.
“I know enough. How you tried so hard to hide that you were with child, or that you had one fathered by Lexa. An advanced wolf, one with a rare lineage, and I have no doubts Madi is just the same if not more.” Cage said. “I have friends all over the states and it was easy to get the wolves to follow me. They are desperate for land, something to call their own, and that was something Costia's pack system did not allow.”
Cage smiled, prideful of his feat.
“You'll be sorry.” Clarke hissed.
“When this is all over I'll have a fortune, something my father denied me the second I chose to marry Lorelei, simply because she was out of our race.” Cage said. “You just sit tight.”
Cage turned around, leaving the basement with Langston and Shaw behind him. He marched down the hall, smiling and peering into the doors he passed. Each door holding a monster of some kind all shacked up and in pain. He came across a door that shook and the banging and grunting behind it. He stepped forward, seeing Lexa wrapped in chains around her shoulders and legs. She huffed.
“Save your energy.” Cage said. “No one likes a tired out a wolf. It looks bad for business.”
“When I get out of here I'll deal with you myself,” Lexa said.
Cage smiled and laughed. He walked away, hearing Lexa slam into the door again.
“Where's Clarke?! Where is Madi?!” Lexa shouted.
Cage ignored her and exited the basement.
Chapter 14: Part XIV
Costia limped through the foyer of the manor, putting a hand to her hip. She cringed, dragging her foot along the floorboards. She wiped a trail of blood and spittle from her mouth, flexing her right hand to see if she had control of her hand. There was an aching pain in her wrist. It spread to her ankle and her ribs. Costia groaned, scanning the foyer to see bodies with puddles of blood on the floor. The sour smell of blood wafting into her nose.
“Bellamy!” Costia grunted.
Costia stood, feeling the pain steadily subside. The ache in her hand started to heal. She grabbed the stair railing and sighed. Bellamy thumped out of the lounge, wobbling his way over to Costia, his left arm pressed against his chest. A long gash ran along his bicep the blood dripping down and the wound starting to close up.
“I'm alright,” Bellamy said.
They heard the racket from behind the grand stairs. Octavia approached them, bruised and blood covered. Murphy raced down the stairs.
“They're gone!” He said. “Lexa, Madi, and Clarke are all gone.”
Miller ran down after him, a frown and a shake of his head. Raven ran to the top of the stairs, holding a crying Lucas in her arms.
“This turned out far worse than we suspected,” Costia said.
“They could be anywhere in the city,” Bellamy said. “Not to mention the wolves they recruited that will be expecting us to look for them.”
Costia sighed. This was not what they expected. The courage and manpower this human had to flood the manor.
“We need to find those who have sided with me. We need to find them.” Costia insisted.
Bellamy watched Echo exit from the lounge and approached her, putting a protective hand on her lower back. She had smears of blood on her face, but not a single wound on sight, most likely healed.
“Without being seen, it would be difficult to go out on the streets now.” Echo said.
“We heave no time and we must be quick. We'll change into different clothes for a disguise if we must.” Costia replied. “Carry weapons and spread the word.”
“First we should deal with the bodies.” Miller suggested.
Costia looked over the ones she could spot in the foyer. The bodies spread throughout the house, on the stairs, and in the lounge.
“You do have a point.” Costia agreed. “I'll find what I can for Clarke and Lexa and hopefully locate them.
Through the mess, Costia found a piece of cloth from their rooms and entered the library to find the same location spell Clarke used. It took a few minutes to find something of a similar nature, but longer to find the ingredients needed for it.
“Costia?” Echo said.
Costia glanced over her shoulder, reading over her book. She tossed a pinch of salt into her mortar.
“Echo, all done cleaning up?” Costia asked.
“You're sure this spell will work?” Echo said.
Costia ripped several petals of jasmine from her flower and tossed it in.
“There is still a possibility they're still in the city,” Costia said.
Echo approached the table, reading over the books.
“And what about the situation? We should tell the others.” Echo reminded.
Costia stopped reading her book, facing Echo. Her jaw clenched.
“I'm aware,” Costia said.
“I don't mean just the war with humans, but those who have sided against your pack,” Eco said. “This far too big to contain.”
Costia feared this. The possibility that lesser packs would raise against them, just as much as breaking into war again with the humans. But in her struggle to remain order, perhaps her rule, or her fathers before her's was far too strict, much too demanding. The reputation he had among their species wasn't always one of peace. He ruled with an iron fist. He had views and ideas for their pack as a whole spread throughout the country and now it was turning into spreading chaos.
“I know our allies would be afraid and not trust the pack. This invasion makes us look weak.” Costia said. “Is this something you've considered too?”
“Of course not Commander, I remain loyal to the pack. We need to stop this before anything worse comes of it.” Echo said.
“I agree,” Costia said, turning back to the table.
Clarke crouched on the floor, her back faced away from the dungeon door. She kept her hands locked together, under her chin and shaking from the draft from down the hall. Clarke chanted, staring at her shackles, watching tiny sparks emit from her hands. The sparks grew in intensity before fizzing out and disappeared. Clarke grumbled, starting her chanting again. The door down the hall opened and Clarke put her hands down, facing the door just as it opened. Shaw stood in the doorway, glaring, his orange thick brows shifted into a frown and stepped aside for two guards to enter. One guard, with a tweed cap on, held a metal tray in his hands.
“Food,” Shaw said, rubbing a hand down his red prickly beard.
The guard walked three paces forward before dropping it to the floor, sending the gruel on the tray to splat on the stone ground. Another guard handed Clarke a tankard of water.
“What, no bathroom break?” Clarke asked.
“That's what the bucket is for.” He said, pointing to a wooden bucket on the left corner of the room.
The guards and Shaw laugh.
“I have to say, you're handling things far better than Lexa. She can't shut up.” Shaw hissed.
“Don't you dare touch her!” Clarke spat.
“It isn't up to me.” He said. “But if she keeps it up, Cage might get tired of it.”
“Let me see her!”
Shaw shook his head.
“Let me see my daughter?” Clarke pleaded. “I want to see Madi!”
“Eat your food and hush up,” Shaw demanded, turning back toward the door. “I'll pick up the tray in an hour.”
He exited with the guards behind him and the door slammed, the deadbolt locking after. Clarke cringed, sliding the tray closer to her, seeing the gruel next to a small roll of bread, a wedge of cheese, and sausages. Shaw approached the door leading out of the basement and a guard patted him on his shoulder.
“The boss wants to see you.” He said.
Shaw made his way out of the basement and to the third floor of the manor. Cage sat in his study with Lorelei beside him. Cage put down his fountain pen and smiled, motioning with his hand for Shaw to sit on the chair in front of the desk.
“Ah, Shaw.” Cage said.
“You wanted to see me, sir?” Shaw asked.
“Now, I know this has been going well so far, but there has been word that Clarke's friends are gathering others in search of them.” Cage said. “We'll have to move much quicker than I preferred, unfortunately.”
“I was hoping I would have more time to gather data on our specimens.” Lorelei sighed. “Specifically, Lexa, but all I've been able to do is observe.”
Cage smiled, stroking a hand on to her gloved palm with a look of adoration on his face.
“Ah, you've been quite excited since her capture. I would like to have her for our collection, but our clients are interested in her as a set with Clarke and Madi.” Cage said.
Shaw shifted in his seat.
“Should I speak with the wolves than to secure a passage on our way out of the city?” Shaw asked.
“That would be most helpful.” Cage said.
“I should tell you, some of the wolves are asking about payment,” Shaw informed.
“The agreed-upon payment was discussed between Langston and Carl.” Cage said.
Shaw placed his hands on to his lap.
“And the agreed-upon rate, sir?” Shaw questioned.
Cage's smile dropped.
“We are to slaughter the wolves once we're out of the city safely of course.” Cage said. “We won't be able to reach the border of Canada without any help.”
Shaw nodded. He was hoping they would deal with them sooner, but with how quick south everything was going, the wolves were all they had to get out of here.
“It will take time for us to leave, but there might be a possibility that Lexa and Clarke will leave before we can move out,” Shaw warned.
Cage nodded, not alarmed.
“Of course, a werewolf and a witch can't be housed for long.” He said.
“I have a solution for Clarke.” Lorelei interrupted.
She picked up a book from the desk and opened it, handing it to Cage. The page was opened on a selection of runes and pictures.
“I'll set the seals myself then.” Cage said.
He stood, taking the book and whistled on his way out of the study room.
Sinclair dived under the bar table, his hand over his head as he heard a glass bottle smash above his head and the bits of glass and whiskey washed down the wall. Grunting and running from the other side of the table filtered the room. He peeked his head out from behind the table and watched two wolves tumble down the stairs and spotted the door blown off from its hinges. Costia entered the bar with Bellamy and Echo, their eyes glowing red and primal. Murphy and Octavia walked down the stairs, stepping over the two wolves they knocked down. The two customers in his bar froze at their table, watching them. Sinclair stood slowly to his feet, wiping his sweaty hands on his trousers. A wolf hiding from under a table jumped up and charged them. Echo countered him, lifting up her sword and swiping it, causing the man to grunt and freeze before his head rolled off his shoulders. Sinclair gulped, wide-eyed and shaken. Costia approached the bar, pulling out a pouch of coins and placed it down.
“I'm terribly sorry for the mess. This should cover for a new door.” Costia said.
“W-What could I get you?” Sinclair asked.
“A bottle of whiskey,” Costia said.
Sinclair took the only remaining bottle left unharmed from the shelf behind him and put it down with several glass cups. He poured them all a glass, watching everyone approach him and take a cup. Sinclair sighed.
“Is something wrong?” Sinclair said.
Costia knocked back her whiskey in one gulp and wiped the drops from her lips with the back of her hand.
“Clarke and Lexa have gone missing. I've had people scour the city. They took Madi.” Costia said. “Have you heard about it?”
Sinclair nodded. Costia served another cup, leaning against the bar table.
“Now is the time to prove your loyalty to me and the pack, Mr. Sinclair,” Costia announced.
A wolf that sneaked his way overcharged Murphy, who countered it with a sucker punch to his face. He hit the ground and Octavia sunk a blade into his chest. Costia looked behind her.
“Make note, that those who have sided with the humans are committing an act of war to fight against the pack and our laws.” Costia hissed. “Is a small sum of money greater than your lives? While it may feel like you may have the upper hand I have connections throughout the country to deal with this petty act of rebellion.”
One patron from the bar chuckled. He was standing at the other end of the bar.
“He promised us land.” He said. “Something you refused because we wanted a pack of our own.”
Costia turned around, holding her glass of whiskey.
“I offer land to everyone as well as safety, but people are far too prideful and stubborn.” Costia assured.
Costia glanced to the rest of the customers.
“I will ask again, those who have sworn loyalty to me, step forward.” Costia said.
Six men, seated at a table stood. Costia glared to the other remaining four customers. They sneer at her, faces dark and tense, ready for a fight.
“And those who are, I once again offer you the chance to join my pack,” Costia said.
One man spat on the ground and stood, pulling out a knife from his jacket.
“I would rather see you die!” He shouted.
Costia scoffed and gulped down her cup.
“Then your fates have been decided,” Costia said.
She glanced at Bellamy who spun around, dashing forward and thrust a blade of his own into a wolf's gut. The three remaining wolves flipped their table, hurling it toward them. Murphy blocked it with his hand, watching it splinter. Costia faced Sinclair. His face was white, covered in sweat, and his lips quivering. He gulped.
“I declare this bar of Mr. Sinclair, is now territory belonging to the Stone's. Those who oppose it shall be killed on the spot.” Costia stated. “I'll pay for the cleaning as well.”
“Is there anything I should do?” Sinclair said.
“I would like to use your bar temporarily as our home-base. The manor was unfortunately compromised.” Costia requested.
“Of course Ms. Stone,” Sinclair said.
The fight behind them finished and Miller yanked his blade from a dead corpse on the ground. He exhaled.
“Excellent. Miller. Murphy. Set up the basement would you?” Costia ordered. “Octavia, please inform Raven we will be settling here now.”
Bellamy came over, picking up the bottle of whiskey and took a drink from the bottleneck.
“Do you know where we can find Mr. Cage Wallace?” Costia asked.
“I might know a guy who can find him,” Sinclair replied.
Chapter 15: Part XV
Cage entered Clarke's dungeon when she finished eating everything but the gruel. It was far too bitter to stomach, no matter how hungry she was. Cage smiled and kneeled down in front of her with his book in his hands.
“Hello Clarke.” He greeted.
She glared at him. Cage placed his book on the floor. He pulled out a cloth tucked under his arm and unraveled it to take out a paint brush and a well of ink. He dipped his pain inside it and smeared a rune design into Clarke's shackle chain links.
“Why are you doing this?” Clarke asked.
Cage opened the book and glanced back at it as he dipped the brush back into the well.
“It isn't anything person.” Cage said. “What I've said about you is true. I am quite a fan of your work. The cases you solved in England have inspired me to delve research about these monsters.”
He steadily moved the paint brush up the chains drawing more runes.
“I've found all sorts of amazing beast.” He chuckled. “And it has led me to greater findings. The experiments I've conducted and finding have progressed my studies being that I've found far less fragile bodies to work with.”
“You work on them?” Clarke asked.
“But they have done little to give me the answers I seek in my studies as a doctor.” Cage grumbled.
“The son of Dante Wallace turned into a mad man. What would your father think about this?” Clarke questioned.
Cage glared, pulling the chain forward.
“My father would never understand. He's an old man with outdated thinking that does nothing to better the future of mankind. I wanted to work for the better of medicine, but he rather stick to tradition and money, such a greedy old man.” Cage spat.
He went back to painting the chains.
“No matter, I've found other ways to sustain myself during my studies in Canada and come in the next 48 hours we'll all be on our way out of the country.” Cage said. “I will have enough wealth to no longer need to sell these beast.”
Clarke blinked, flabbergasted and silent.
“You sell monsters to the rich?” Clarke said.
“Don't seem so surprised. Slaves are a good business but with the brewing war on slave rights it will be a trade that will soon die out, no doubt.” Cage said. “But I sell slaves as a pretense from the cops. Now moving you and Lexa out will be the true challenge.”
“You're a disgrace.” Clarke rebutted.
Cage shrugged, unaffected from the insult.
“There are plenty of people willing to pay a pretty penny to have you, but once I found out you had a child and from a werewolf no less, well that made all of you worth so much more. I will no longer need to work.” Cage said.
Cage finished painting the chains and looked up at Clarke. She headbutted him in his face, causing him to stagger back, yelping. A hand pressed to his bleeding nose. Clarke wiped off what ink she could. A guard standing by the door came over and kicked Clarke in the gut, sending her doubling over. Cage wobbled up to his feet.
“Stop it!” He cried. “If you damage the goods she's useless.”
Clarke rolled on to her stomach, pushing herself up to sit again. He pulled a cloth from his jacket chest pocket and pressed it to his nose, wiping the blood. When it settled down he put the cloth back into his pocket, his upper lip and nose covered in blood.
“If you make this harder than it needs to be I'll need to sedate you.” Cage warned.
“Go to hell!”
Cage groaned and picked up the book before leaving with his guard.
Costia sat behind Sinclair's desk, unrolling the scroll of the City's layout. Sinclair pinned it to the desk and handed Costia a pen. Bellamy, Raven, and Octavia moved closer to the desk. The map included the layout of the city's sewer system. Costia circled parts of map labeling neighborhoods and buildings.
“These are my territories.” Costia said, she picked up a pencil and made X's. “This is where we know the mutts roam, awaiting to attack.”
Murphy stood from his chair, approaching.
“It's not looking good.” Murphy said. “From what I saw, this guy has half the city against us.”
“And from what I last heard they've upgraded to guns?” Costia asked, seeing Miller nod beside Murphy. “This entire city is about to become a war zone and humans are in the middle of it. We are about to be revealed on a massive scale.”
Everyone looked between each other, scowling and anxious for the turn around of what's about to happen. This was far from what anyone planned and not what anyone could have expected either.
“Why not use the sewers?” Raven asked.
“That might be our best option. Is anyone familiar with the system?”
Miller raised his hand.
“I know someone who is.” He said.
A knock sounded from the office's door frame and a man with slicked back brown hair in a tweed trench coat stood in the doorway. He clutched his cap between his hands.
“Evening Ms. Stone.” He greeted.
Costia raised a brow. Sinclair stepped out from behind the desk and put a hand on the man's shoulder with a pat. He guided him toward the desk.
“Ah, Ms. Stone this is Jack. He's the one that knows of Mr. Wallace's whereabouts.” Sinclair announced.
Jack's blue eyes timidly met with Costia's and he bit his bottom lip and nodded.
“Yes Miss, I've gotten word of his location.” Jack said.
Costia scooted closer to the desk, her hands folded on top of it.
“Well then, do you happen to know how to navigate the sewers too by any chance?” Costia asked.
Costia smiled, filled with relief. That was one less of an issue.
“Wonderful, that just leaves for us to come up with a plan of attack.” Costia stated. “Come Jack, gather around.”
Sinclair walked with him to the desk and Costia handed him a quill already dipped in ink. He shakily grabbed it and scribbled along the map.
“Now, we're here, the estate however, is to the upper east side.” Jack started.
“The issue is getting through the city unseen.” Costia reminded.
“Oh, there are ways Miss.” Jack assured.
Cage entered the sitting room with his nose still throbbing, but it was no longer bleeding. He was sure it was sorely red. Lorelei sat in front of their fireplace and jumped out of her chair getting a glance of his bruised nose.
“What happened?” She gasped.
Cage put a comforting hand on her wrist.
“That witch has quite a few tricks besides spells to defend herself.” He said. “No need to worry darling.”
“You should have had Shaw do it.” Lorelei said.
Cage approached the mini bar next to the window and picked up a glass bottle of brandy. He poured himself a heaping glass and took two large gulps. He sighed and cringed as the brandy burned down his throat and settled into his chest.
“Cage we – ”
Banging erupted from outside the manor, quaking through the halls and echoing off the walls. Cage gripped his cup, glancing over his shoulder with a scowl. The knocking increased and Cage left the sitting room to see his guards pressed against the door to keep it shut.
“What is this?” Cage asked.
A man turned around to press his back against the door.
“It's the wolves sir. They demand they speak with you at once and want payment.” He said, jerking forward as another knock hit the door.
Cage grunted a flare of rage pulsing through him.
“Open the doors.” Cage ordered, and glared as the men stared at him frozen. “Well?! Open it!”
They stepped away from the door and removed the space bar that rested against it. Six scruffy and dirt covered wolves tumbled into the foyer. The closest one, with a cap and muttonchops stepped forward and growled.
“You promised us payment!” He shouted.
Cage loosened his jaw and sighed.
“What seems to be the problem?” Cage said.
The man grunted, a vein pulsing from his neck. Cage noticed his hands spread apart with nails pushing through the tips.
“Costia has more wolves helping her. It'll be harder to keep them away, our people are dying! We need better defenses.” He said.
Cage nodded, his face calm.
“The agreement was to secure the cargo then you'll get paid.” Cage said.
The wolf chuckled along with the other five next to him.
“At this rate we'll be dead before then.” He said. “We aren't going to move anything until we have half up front.”
Cage noticed his men hovering their hands over their holstered pistols. He sighed.
“Alright then, follow me.” Cage said, turning around.
He moved them to the sitting room. Lorelei scattered out of the room.
“Are you gentlemen.” Cage said.
The wolves entered the sitting room and the guards rushed passed Cage, pulling out their pistols and fired. Cage stood behind them, watching the wolves shake and grunt, hitting the floor covered in bullets. A splatter of blood coated the floor. They parted to let Cage move forward and survey the damage of his sitting room and the mess of the wolves. He noticed two crawling on the ground still alive, bleeding profusely and whimpering.
“Those who try to break the deal will be dealt with in a similar manner. Am I clear?” Cage said.
“Yes sir.” The guards answered.
“Clean up this mess.” Cage said, leaving the sitting room.
Shaw raced down the steps.
“We've secured carriages for our travel sir and the cargo boxes are ready.” He replied.
“Excellent, load everything up, but Clarke and Lexa will be last.” Cage informed.
Chapter 16: XVI
The planning took longer than Costia would have preferred but given the length of the sewers along with the locations of the mutts there had to be changes and much to consider to lessen the chance of an attack. While Costia trusted her people to defend themselves and stick to the plan, the humans seeing this was a concern. With all possibilities considered a plan was settled. Costia let out an exhausted sigh. It was three am when the meeting was over.
“Would you like coffee Ms. Stone?” Sinclair asked.
Costia pinched the bridge of her nose for a second then rubbed a hand under her right eye. Coffee would do some good for everyone now. There would be no time to rest. Costia glanced at the group around her all with similar exhausted faces.
“That would be great, thank you.” Costia said.
Sinclair nodded and stepped out of the office. He called for someone in the hallway. One of his barmaids and placed the order.
“Let's go over this one last time. We're going to need to split up into a team of three.” Costia said. “Each time has a different entrance to follow should any of us be caught and at all costs, stick to the plan.”
“We avoid being seen by humans at all cost.” Bellamy added. “I've armed everyone with a gun should that be needed.”
“And we rescue Clarke, Lexa, and Madi.” Raven said.
“That leaves anyone outside the pack as collateral damage.” Octavia stated.
Costia pursed her lips, nodding. It was not a preferred outcome, but they had priorities. The longer they stayed here the longer they run at risk of any of them ending up dead. That was something they could not allow.
“You are to do what is necessary to get them out safely. Cage is to be spared as he will be trialed along with his compliances.” Costia said.
A man in a white collared shirt and trousers ran into the room.
“Forgive me Ms. Stone, but I've just received word that Mr. Wallace. He plans to leave the city, tonight.” He said.
Costia frowned, her hand curled into a fist. This was sooner than she expected.
“We can not waste anymore time. I will lead one group. Bellamy you'll take the South entrance, and Echo the West.” Costia commanded. “Gather your weapons we're moving out.”
Costia rushed out of the office and picked up a cloak from the coat hanger on the entrance floor. Everyone was handed a similar cloak, tossed it over their shoulders and their hoods pulled up. They each had less expensive garments hoping to blend in as much as they could. When they were covered Costia stepped out of the bar with them.
Cage zipped through the crowd of wolves pulling the chains of his captures. A vampire he passed hissed at him, dressed in ripped rags, and a werewolf with a rope around his mouth snapped at him, but was yanked forward. He met Langston at the end of the hall, directing everyone to move through the manor.
“Is everyone packed up?” Cage asked.
“Just about everyone except Clarke and Lexa, sir.” Langston said. “They are giving us trouble.”
“I'll sort this out.” Cage promised.
He went to the second floor bedrooms where a housemaid was tending to Madi. He took Madi from the woman's arms and went back down into the basement. Madi started crying as he entered the dungeon halls. He reached Clarke's room, hearing her chains clink and her grunt behind the door. Cage looked through the window and watched her freeze as she heard Madi crying.
“If you do not listen I will shoot this baby.” Cage demanded.
Clarke gulped, her face paling in fear. She took a step forward.
“A-Alright, please, just let me hold her?” Clarke said.
“Once you're outside.” He said.
Clarke blinked back her tears and nodded. Seeing her slumped shoulders, Cage opened the doors. Guards entered her cell, detaching her chains from the wall and guided her outside the room. She gave a guilt stricken look to Madi as she passed Cage. The door down the hall shook and Clarke jumped startled to see Lexa pressed against the door, panting and red in the face.
“Let me out!” Lexa screamed. “Clarke? Are you alright?”
A guard shoved Clarke forward, moving her again down the hall and away from view. Clarke kept her eye on Cage, unsettled as she heard Madi crying behind her. Her cries high-pitched and heart-wrecking. The guards moved her out through the back of the house and to a thick barred cage that had wheels attached to it. She climbed inside. Cage handed her the baby once she turned around and quickly slammed the door. She cradled Madi against her chest, teary fully stroking her cheek and trying to fight off the cold night air.
“It's okay. It's alright Madi.” Clarke whispered.
Costia hiked up her trousers, feeling the murky water of the sewer soak through the fabric. She crouched over, a torch in her other hand and sighed. Rave trailed behind her, lagging behind as the levels of the water increased the farther they moved. The torch had little range for them to see ahead. Raven kept her gun out for any possible attacks.
“This goes on much longer than I expected.” Costia commented.
“There's an exit a few more miles in.” Raven said.
Between the foul smell, the flooded areas, and the tiring walk, Raven wanted more than anything to put an end to this, but they had a mission. The dire consequences of this entire situation the only thing keeping her going. A man behind her let out a unsatisfied grunt as he slipped into the water and struggled to get back up. It would put them in a bad situation if they were attacked now with the water impairing their mobility to fight. Costia sighed seeing the yellow glow of a streetlight above them and spotted a drain leading to the streets. Costia turned around, pressing a finger to her lips. A carriage wheel rolled over the opening then the laughter of two men.
“When will Wallace have us finish this job?” One man grumbled. “We ought to get paid already!”
“You shouldn't be asking that. The last ones who did got slaughtered. Just do as he says.” Another man said. “Now head back to the estate. He wants all the cargo moved out.”
Costia waited for them to be a good pace away from the drain and continued her walk through the water.
“He plans to leave New York tonight?” Raven whispered.
“We must hurry at once.” Costia said.
Chapter 17: XVII
Clarke kept her arms around Madi, hearing someone scream from within the house. The glowing lantern dangling beside her cage does little to help her see in the dark. Another yell echoed through the night and men started yelling as they pulled a set of chains behind them. Clarke saw Lexa thrashing and yelling as she tried to break free. One man behind Lexa hit her in the back with the butt of his gun and she hit the ground. A few more men kicked her a few times before stopping and allowing her to get to her knees, her face bloody and bruised around her lip.
“Lexa?” Clarke said. “Please, don't... Stay calm. We'll get out of here, but please if you don't stop this he'll kill you.”
Lexa nodded, standing to her feet. A guard kicked her legs causing her to smack the ground and they all laughed watching her get back up. She glared at them, allowing herself to be put into a separate cage. The guards laugh again once they lock her in and walk away.
“Where's Madi? I-Is she okay?” Lexa said.
Clarke pulled back her cloak that shielded Madi from the cold. It brought little relief to Lexa.
“She'll be alright. She's just hungry.” Clarke said.
Lexa licked at the bruise on her lip and cringed.
“How could we have allowed this to happen to us?” Lexa muttered, discontent.
“Costia and the others will help us.” Clarke said.
Cage approached the cage, his face smug.
“I have to say should Ms. Stone attempt to find you she'll have the entire city against her.” Cage huffed. “I doubt she'll be able to stop me.”
Cage moved down the row of cast iron barred cages and moved to the front of the caravan.
A carriage awaited him, with Lorelei already inside. A second carriage beside him had Carl, Langston, and Shaw inside, ready to go.
“Let's get going now shall we?” Cage said.
The drivers shook the reigns and the horses moved. The cages behind them following, linked together and lead by a set of six horses each. Clarke heard the snarls and noises from inside the cages, seeing some of the cages shake as they moved. Lexa looked between the cages, astonished.
“What is this?” Lexa said.
“He's been hunting and collecting monsters. He's experimented on some of them.” Clarke answered. “But tonight, he plans to sell them and us to the highest bidders.”
“Clarke, we have to get out of here.” Lexa demanded.
Costia climbed through the surface of the city streets and helped pull up the rest of her team. Raven frowned seeing her trousers soaked almost up to the knees and shook the water out of it. The streets were empty and poorly lit to give them enough coverage to keep moving.
“There's still a few more miles to go before we reach the estate.” Raven said.
“We don't have much time to waste.” Costia said.
She doused the torch out and raced down the streets. It wasn't until four blocks down when a group of men with crowbars in hand exited from the alley way. In the shadow, Costia saw their glowing orange eyes. Costia dropped her torch stick and pulled out her knife.
“Get ready.” Costia said.
“I've been waiting for this.” Raven hissed.
She growled a knife of her own in her hand. She let out a roar and the men charged forward, their crowbars raised. Costia dodged a swing from a pipe and countered it with her blade, slicking through his forearm. She kicked her leg out, hitting another oncoming man in the chest and lifted her pistol, shooting him in the chest just before he fell. Costia stepped forward and gasped as she was punched from the side then slammed into a brick wall, causing her gun to fire off and miss. She jammed her shoulder forward, connecting with a wolf's chin and dropped her gun to wrap her hand around his neck. Her nails pushed into his neck, causing him to choke. Costia snarled and felt his neck snap in her palm. She shoved him back.
“They're just a distraction! We need to keep moving.” Costia ordered.
Raven sunk her knife into a wolf's gut and stepped around him as he hit the floor. Her face covered in blood and sweaty.
“This way!” Raven called.
She ran around a man that tried to lunge around her.
Clarke stroked Madi's forehead, seeing her finally settle down into a peaceful sleep. She glanced back at Lexa, who sat hunched over, watching Clarke with a look of disappointment on her face.
“Can you shift?” Clarke asked.
“The chains are silver.” Lexa said. “My collar too. Can't you use a spell of some sort to loosen them? Open the door?”
Clarke studied her chains, still covered in black paint.
“I can try.” She said.
She placed her hands over a chain link and watched a green light spark then fizz out. Clarke tried again, seeing the same result and moved to another chain link. The same fizzed out spark happened. Clarke sighed.
“I can't.” Clarke said. “He must have put a charm on them.”
“We need to do something. A distraction may? Just until Costia arrives.” Lexa suggested.
Clarke nodded. She held Madi into her right hand and lifted her left hand. She snapped her fingers, focusing on them before she tried again. She inhaled snapping her fingers several more times until a puff of smoke came out. Clarke smiled, snapping her fingers three more times until a tiny fire covered her fingers. She chuckled. Clarke moved to the edge of the cage. She looked to the cage behind Lexa and snapped her fingers. The fire jumped from her fingers and moved to the bottom of the cage. The wooden platform of the cage began to smoke. It smoldered before a fire broke out and the beast inside it started screeching. The smell of smoke waft through the air and the carriages ahead stopped.
“Fire!” One man yelled.
Up ahead, Cage stuck his head out of the carriage window and glared.
“What's the hold up?!” He barked.
“There's a fire in one of the cages, sir.” The driver said.
Cage stepped out of the carriage.
Chapter 18: XVIII
Bellamy watched the wolf in front of him let out a wheezed grunt as his body slammed into the brick wall behind him. Bellamy snarled, thrusting his blade forward, feeling it sink into the plush of the man's gut. A splatter of blood speckled Bellamy's face when the wolf coughed and Bellamy stared into with shell-shocked green eyes. Bellamy yanked his knife free and jabbed it into the thick of his neck. The warmth of his blood spilled on to Bellamy's knuckles. Out of pity, Bellamy slid his knife into the wolf's chest, feeling the crunch of his sternum breaking under the force of his thrust and sunk into his heart. Bellamy retrieved his blade and walked, away hearing the body behind him slump to the floor. He wiped the remains of his red blood along his sleeve. Octavia let out a raged cry just before a body flew over Bellamy's head and he turned around to see two more dead bodies at Octavia's feet.
“We won't make it in time if they keep coming at us.” Octavia said, spotting a group of more wolves rounding the corner.
Bellamy wiped sweat from his brow and sighed.
“We can't stay behind. Costia is counting on us. Keep moving.” Bellamy ordered. “Let's go.”
Bellamy raced toward the group of men and leaped over a man that charged at him. He placed his hand on the wolf's shoulder, forcing him to fall off balance as he used the man as a pivot point to leap over him and the other two wolves. Octavia kicked her foot out as the wolf fell down, her shoe collecting with his nose and shattering his face.
“We'll have to make a detour to lose them.” Bellamy said. “We need to split up.”
“I'm not leaving you!” Octavia denied.
“I'll meet you at the estate.” He said.
He ran down the street, bringing the crowd of wolves with him, yelling for their attention to focus on him. Bellamy looked over his shoulder seeing three more join the chase with clubs in hand.
Cage reached the smoldering cage, now covered in a small fire near the wooden wheels and axel. The monster inside screaming and trashing the cage to be let out. Cage shook his head with a scowl and tisked. He faced Langston.
“Disconnect the cage and leave it.” He ordered. “There isn't anything we can do now.”
Lexa gripped the cage bars.
“You can't just leave it like that! It'll burn to death.” Lexa cried.
Cage faced her a look of indifference on his face.
“That's just a ghoul. We have other far more valuable cargo to move.” Cage said.
Cage smiled and moved back toward the front of the caravan. Lexa grunted and shook the bars again, flustered that it did little to bend the bars.
“Clarke!” Lexa called, pointing to the top of her cage.
“It's too dangerous.” Clarke whispered.
“Trust me.” Lexa said.
Clarke licked her lips and nodded. She snapped her fingers, staring at the top of Lexa's cage. A spark flickered on the inside of the wooden cage lid. The fire spread, moving to the outside of the cage and flickering.
“Fire! Another fire sir!” A man bellowed.
Cage rushed back.
“How could that be?!” He grumbled.
He stared, seeing Lexa's cage start to flare up and approached Clarke.
“Oh you're a smart witch aren't you?” Cage sneered. “But why would you be so stupid to put the one you love at risk? Everyone guns at the ready.”
Carl and Langston pulled out their rifles, standing behind a group of men. Carl handed the key and the door was pulled open. Lexa charged forward and groaned as the chains yanked her back, a foot away from the door.
“Don't move!” Carl yelled.
The three men in the front pressed forward, entering the cage. They're coughing as the smoke increased, covering them in the thicket of it. The chains from inside are rattling. Lexa was growling with the men yelling for her to be still. Then there's a snarl and screaming then one man was tossed out of the cage, slamming head first into another cage with a sickening snap of his neck. Cage stumbled back.
“Don't just stand there! Shoot her!” Cage ordered.
Several shots rang through the cage and Clarke stared, panicked as she held Madi, crying from the gunfire. Carl reached a hand in and pulled out a chain from the ground. Langston took another piece of the chain and pulled, tumbling Lexa out of the cage. Her mouth cover in blood and her eyes colored black. Langston jabbed her in the rib, knocking the wind out of her as she hit the floor.
“You're nothing but a rabid dog.” Cage spat.
Lexa jumped to her feet, tackling Cage to the ground with her arms around his hips. He dropped to the ground, squirming and kicking to break free. Carl reached down, grabbing Lexa by her hair and pulled her back. Langston pointed his rifle to her face.
“Let him go!” He barked. “You think we're stupid? These muskets balls are coated in silver.”
Lexa released Cage, panting and growling. Cage stood, wiping the dirt from his jacket and wiped the blood from his mouth. He took out a cloth to wipe the rest of the blood and exhaled. He let out a drained chuckle.
“You're proving to be far more of a hassle than you're worth.” Cage said.
Cage sent his boot into Lexa's jaw and walked away, looking into Clarke's cage.
“Mother and child might be enough for us. The set would be a nicer deal, but I think I rather cut my losses.” Cage said. “Kill her.”
Carl grinned, taking out his pistol and pointed to the back of Lexa's head.
“Lexa!” Clarke yelped. “Please! Please don't!”
An echoing howl bounced through the caravan. Carl and Langston surveyed their surrounding. The darkness shrouding the source of the sound. Cage gulped.
“Everyone guns up!” Cage said.
Men exited the carriage and from between the cages to gather together, surrounding Cage in a protective circle. Shaw beside Cage with a pistol of his own. Lexa got to her knees, smiling and laughed. A man screamed as he flew through the air and a towering wolf landed on his chest, crushing his ribcage and squeezing blood out of his mouth like a tube of toothpaste. The wolf snarled before ripping his arms off and tossed them to the ground.
“Shoot it!” Cage screamed.
Cage watched horrified as the wolf leaped above the gunfire, shooting he cages behind it and some of the men behind it. It leaped on top of one of the cage, splintering the wood on top and bending the bars. The nine foot black furred wolf reared its head back and let out a bone chilling howl. Lexa stood to her feet, shaking her chains. The wolf shrank inside, their bones snapping back into place, and Costia stood at the edge of the cage, naked and sweat covered. A row of glistening sharp teeth and black eyes peering down at Cage.
“This ends tonight!” Costia said.
Cage watched a mob of wolves dash through the cages, grabbing shoulders as they passed and he watched them disappear next to him. The wolves on his side started shifting, their clothes ripping and left behind in their wake. Costia shifted back and jumped down. Carl let out a shot, skinning Costia's shoulder. Other wolves tackled her, latching on to her, biting her, and slashing her back to slow her down.
“Bellamy!” Clarke yelled, seeing him run toward her.
“Octavia, Miller, help me with the door!” Bellamy grunted, trying to rip the large padlock off.
They gripped around the door and ripped it clean off. Bellamy held his hand out, helping Clarke safety climb down. Raven approached her, looking her and Madi over.
“Are you alright?” Raven asked.
“Please, take Madi somewhere safe?” Clarke said.
Miller nodded, taking Madi into his hands.
“Clarke, you can't stay here.” Raven said.
Clarke looked at the fight around her and Lexa still in chains standing.
“I can't leave. You need me.” Clarke said.
Bellamy and Octavia ripped apart Clarke's chains. Clarke rushed to Lexa tugging at her collar. The skin underneath burned and red. She stroked a hand through Lexa's loose locks.
“I'm fine, please Clarke, release me.” Lexa whispered.
Clarke nodded, placing her hands on the chains and a pulse of lighting filled the shackles. The shackles cracked, burned and black at the edges. Lexa's collar dropped to the floor.
“Clarke watch out!” Lexa shouted, moving Clarke behind her.
Carl's fist landed on her jaw but did little to disorient her. He aimed his gun at her.
“The both of you aren't going anywhere.” He hissed.
Chapter 19: XIX
Lexa glared. A surge of anger rushing through her. Carl looked at her, laughing, believing to have the upper hand in this situation. Lexa was tired of this. The danger these people put her people and now her family.
“This is over,” Lexa said.
Carl's hand tightened around the handle of his pistol. Lexa's hands flexed, open and closed, the rush of the fight coursing through her. She charged, blocking the end of the pistol barrel with her palm and side stepped as it was fired. Lexa cringed feeling the bullet rip through her hand and plunged into her shoulder. She left hooked Carl, sending him to the floor. They rolled around the ground, dirt and grass kicking up. Lexa ducked another shot and cringed as her eardrum rung and ached. She grabbed Carl's wrist and crushed it in her grip, causing him to drop it. Lexa blindly reached for his neck as Carl scratched at her face and pinned him down between her legs, crouched on her knees. She snarled, staring down at Carl and picked up the pistol. Lexa let out another snarl as she shot the pistol into his chest twice and his hands dropped to the ground. Blood pooled on his shirt and Lexa tossed the pistol before she stood.
“Lexa!” Bellamy called, trying to fight off two wolves that grabbed him by his arms.
Cage watched his men fall, screaming in agony, torn apart, shot and put his gun down, making a run for the carriage. He opened the carriage door.
“We must leave at once!” Cage ordered, taking Lorelei's hand.
They run through the chaos of bodies, a lantern in one hand and a gun in Cage's left. Shaw and Langston join them after shooting another wolf and guide them forward. A grey-furred wolf jumped in front of them and shifted. Octavia stood in front of them, blood-covered and snarling. The heard panting behind them and saw Clarke, Costia, and Lexa corner them from behind. Langston aimed his gun toward them while Shaw covered the front.
“Stay back!” Langston said.
Bellamy and Echo joined Octavia, spreading out to build a barrier. Costia stepped forward.
“Cage Wallace, by the order of The Pack, you are to await trail for your vile crimes.” Costia announced.
A shot broke through the silence and Lexa panicked picking up the musky smell of copper. Costia slowly dropped to the ground, pressing a hand to her chest.
“Costia!” Lexa shouted.
She ran over, grabbing Costia by her shoulders, keeping her steady. Clarke spotted the wolf with the rifle and lifted her hands, sending him tossing through the air by an unseen force. Lexa stared into Costia's tear covered eyes, her bottom lip quivering and her mouth covered in blood.
“Hey, Costia, look at me.” Lexa whispered.
Costia coughed, opening her mouth and struggling to talk. A thick strand of blood slid down her chin. She placed a shaking hand against Lexa's collar bone. Lexa sniffled, cupping a hand around her face.
“B-Be still.” Lexa said.
“Lexa.” Costia whispered.
Lexa let out a heavy exhale and gulped.
“It's okay. Y-You'll be okay.” Lexa muttered.
Costia let out a meek chuckle and coughed again.
“You know the custom of the pack.” Costia said, watching Lexa nod.
“Stop talking like that.” Lexa said.
“Lexa, the bullet was silver.” Costia said. “I want it to be you. It'll be you to carry the line.”
Lexa sobbed, her shoulders shaking.
“Don't blame yourself. This wasn't your fault. It was never your fault when my father died and it was never yours now.” Costia confirmed. “This is the life of the pack. You understand?”
“Y-Yes, yes I know. I... Costia?”
Lexa watched Costia lay limp in her hands, her eyes empty and still. Lexa held her to her chest, hugging Costia and crying.
“Lexa?” Bellamy called. “On your orders?”
Lexa gingerly laid Costia down and stood, her jaw clenched and her fist shaking. She stared at Cage and his men. A burning hatred seething into the pit of her stomach. This wasn't supposed to happen. Lexa's face steeled over, the flash of sadness gone.
“Had this been normal circumstance all three of you would be sent to San Francisco on trail.” Lexa said. “However, tonight, there will be no mercy, much how you showed little to me, my people, and our commander.”
Bellamy stepped closed his eyes shined with unshed tears and his face tight with rage.
“Your orders, Commander?” He asked.
Lexa stared at Cage, unaffected by his quivering stature.
“Kill them.” Lexa said, walking away.
“Lexa?” Clarke called, watching Lexa ignore her as she walked away.
She followed Lexa, seeing the tears coat her cheeks. Horrific screams sounded from behind them along with a snarl and a sickening rip and snap of bone and muscle. Clarke grabbed Lexa's wrist, spinning her around.
“Please,” Lexa begged. “Let's go home Clarke.”
Clarke doesn't push it. She let Lexa stay locked in her room the following morning and the next. The mood of the house was somber and empty with the lack of Costia's authority. No one hides their sorrow of their missing leader, but the order of the mutts changes. The wolves working for Cage now quiet and gone from sight. Clarke tended to Madi, feeding her and making sure Maya sent a tray of food to Lexa's room every night but she's not disappointed to see Maya come back each time with a full tray of food and nothing touched. Three days passed, Clarke doesn't hear from Lexa, she doesn't see her and she grew worried. Raven showed up to dinner again, with Lucas in hand but Lexa doesn't show.
“Lexa hasn't left her room.” Clarke said.
“She's been through a lot.” Raven said. “Her and Costia were close, she taught Lexa everything she knew.”
Clarke sighed, fighting back her tears.
“I understand but... The way she had Cage slaughtered, I worry it'll bring her somewhere dark.” Clarke warned.
“Our Commander was killed. This entire country is mourning.” Raven said.
“She was a whole new person looking at her say that. I've never seen her that way.” Clarke said.
“With time it will be easier. Lexa feels guilty. That never goes away neither does the death of someone close.”
Clarke nodded. She doesn't tell Raven what she feels, having still been connected with Lexa. The despair she was getting from Lexa was overbearing. It made Clarke's stomach twist and her nearly sick with it. Clarke picked up her cup of tea and took a sip. Maybe with time this will settle down. Lexa still needed her. Madi needed her too.
An entire week passed when Lexa came to her. It was at the dead of night. Clarke awoke to the cold draft of the night from her open balcony. She remembered closing it before settling into bed. Her room door ajar and through the billow of her curtain, Clarke saw her. The slender silhouette of Lexa's petite frame, standing at the balcony railing in her undergarments. Clarke slipped on a cloth robe before stepping out and Lexa didn't move, staring to the garden below. They stand in silence together. Clarke has no idea what to say and was glad to have Lexa near her again for a change. Lexa gulped.
“I'm not okay.” Lexa said.
Clarke put her hand on to the railing an inch away from Lexa's slender fingers. There was another pause of silence between them and it left Clarke flustered. This unknown feeling between them was foreign.
“Costia is dead.” Lexa whispered, a quiver in her tone.
“I know the two of you were close.” Clarke said, watching her nod.
“She... She believed in me, even when I thought I couldn't control the wolf or even be a mother, but she never gave up on me.” Lexa said, bitterly smiling. “I was training with her to be her Second.”
Lexa looked down at her hands, licking her lips and sighed.
“She had higher hopes for me.”
Clarke faced her, seeing the gleam of Lexa's silent tears on her cheeks.
“Like what?” Clarke asked.
“As Commander.” Lexa said. “It's the highest rank of the pack and no one has ever obtained this, at least someone who wasn't blood, but Costia had no children. And I took an oath.”
“An oath?” Clarke replied.
“Others might see me as unfit. The pack is in shambles, but at the same time, so am I.”
Clarke watched Lexa weep, pressing a hand to her mouth and sniffled. Clarke rested a hand on Lexa's.
“But I don't want to give up on my family.” Lexa weeped.
Clarke felt her tears filled with tears.
“You feel torn between the two.” She said.
“I'm sorry I distance myself from you. And I know you don't agree with how I had Cage killed.” Lexa said. “I was just so – ”
“I'm here for you. I'll always be here for you.” Clarke replied. “I'm not going anywhere.”
Lexa leaned over and placed a kiss to Clarke's forehead.
Chapter 20: Part XX
“Mama!” Madi, giggled, wobbly running toward Clarke.
Clarke entered the garden with Maya, holding a tray of tea and today's lunch. Clarke smiled, seeing Madi look behind her and squeal as she spotted Lexa chasing after her.
“Come here.” Lexa cooed.
Madi bumped into Clarke's shin and fell into a squat into the grass. Luca ran around the garden table, following after Madi, but disregarded them and went after Maya, with his hands up.
“We eat.” He said, following her back to the table.
Lexa reached down, scooping Madi into her arms and smothered her with kisses.
“Gotcha!” She said, tickling her rounded belly.
Madi laughed and kicked her legs out. Her face rosy with laughter. Clarke stroked a finger down Madi's wrist.
“Lucas, don't climb on the table.” Raven said, reaching over to take him off the chair.
“I see Madi is having a fun play date with you and Lucas.” Clarke said, dipping down to kiss Madi's cheek.
Lexa smiled and gave Clarke a quick kiss before turning around toward the table. Lexa sat down with Madi on her lap, picking up a plate of roasted duck with a wedge of cheese. She took a roll of bread before breaking it in half and taking a scoop of butter. Maya served them each tea.
“Mama.” Madi whined, reaching her hands out for a piece of bread.
Lexa handed her a slice. Two years passed a lot quicker than Lexa expected. She chose to remain in the city, help raise Madi, which was proving to be a rewarding experience. The chance to finally see Madi grow, walk and talk. It was a gift Lexa appreciated. Clarke continued to spend her time with Madi and with the shipping company. Lexa didn't do many cases, spending her time with Madi at home and Clarke. Bellamy took care of the shipping company with Miller. Murphy helped keep order on the streets with Sinclair. It was quiet after Costia's death. The funeral was out of state and with her connections a cause of death was faked to not cause any suspicion. Bellamy and Murphy kept her informed of anything pack related.
“Should I get some milk for the children Ms. Griffin?” Maya asked.
“Please.” Clarke said.
“Lucas!” Raven cried, watching him toss a piece of duck across the table.
He laughed, seeing it land on Madi's plate. She frowned. Lexa rubbed a hand down Madi's arm to soothe her.
“You think they'll burn this energy off enough to finally take a nap?” Clarke asked.
Lexa laughed and picked up a scoop of broiled mixed vegetables. She cut a slice of cheese and gave it to Madi.
“With all this energy she has I don't think so.” Lexa said.
“The wolf genes seem to have kicked in.” Raven said.
Clarke leaned closer, peering into Madi's green vibrant eyes. She had a scowl at Lucas still and angrily chomped into her slice of cheese. Raven laughed.
“She certainly has Lexa's features.” Raven said.
Maya returned with the bottle of milk and the children's bottles. She filled them before setting them on the table.
Lexa exited Madi's nursery with Clarke. She put up a fuss before taking her nap, but with the time she spent with Lexa, running around and playing it was enough to get her to finally rest.
“At least this time it was easier.” Clarke said, exiting into the foyer. “Lately she's been fighting her sleep.”
“She's two. It will change.” Lexa assured.
They entered the lounge and Bellamy sat at the fireplace with Murphy. Standing beside the couch was Anya and another man next to her, in a black coat and bald.
“Anya, I didn't know you were planning to come back to the states.” Lexa said.
Anya gave a curtly nod in greeting. The man next to her remained silent. Bellamy shifted in his seat, his gaze to his lap and his brows pinched together into a nervous tick.
“I am as soon as I could.” Anya said. “Firstly, I would like to thank Ms. Griffin for the hospitality to showed toward Raven and Lucas and to thank you for keeping my son safe.”
Clarke approached them, taking a seat on the opposite of Bellamy with Lexa.
“Of course, it's the least I could do with her help.” Clarke said.
“May I ask why you've returned so early from your travels?” Lexa asked.
The man next to Anaya gave a sharp cough, clearing his throat, and drawing the attention of everyone to him. He sighed.
“Commander, I am Titus Cowell. I was Ms. Stone's personal advisor.” Titus introduced. “I was sent to retrieve you.”
Clarke raised a brow.
“I was informed I would not be leading the pack.” Lexa said.
Bellamy tapped his fingers against the armrest of the couch. The tick in his brows increasing. Titus's lips pursed into a frown.
“At the time yes, as no one was willing to anointed a new commander who had no bloodline linked to such a title.” Titus said. “However, after two years of discussion with the other advisors and reevaluating the pack we are in desperate need of a Commander.”
“There's been an increase of mutts. People were fighting each other over land no one is listening to the pack rules. The city has been contained but even now, with what I'm seeing wolves are becoming brazen.” Bellamy said.
“We will have a rebellion in the next year, maybe less.” Murphy added.
“We're about to watch 87 years of order to crumble.” Titus said.
Anya stepped closer, her arms crossed over her chest.
“At this stage we will take the order we can get.” Anya said.
“You can't leave.” Clarke defended.
Titus glared. A crease in his brow.
“She has taken an oath, by pack law she must. If she refuses, she will be deemed an enemy of the pack and banned from all our territory.” Titus warned. “She will be killed on sight should se cross it.”
Clarke scoffed. Titus showed no concern to Clarke's frustration. His demeanor stoic and still.
“You can't force her to live like that!” Clarke said.
“It is law.” Titus reminded. “She had enough time to have this normal life, now it is time for responsibility. The pack needs her.”
Lexa placed a hand on Clarke's thigh, hoping to calm her.
“You can come with me.” Lexa said.
“It is recommended the Commander distance themselves from their mate. It would only serve as a distraction.” Titus said. “Your mate would be an easy target.”
“We will have men watch after her and Madi.” Anya offered.
“And how long do you expect this to last?” Clarke said.
Anya and Titus glanced at each other. The exchange and frown on their faces did little to assure her of this being a short term travel.
“It is unsure.” Titus admitted. “As all states have their own issues to be dealt with. We'll start with San Francisco.”
Lexa scoffed. This she should expect. She was pack leader after all. She had other responsibilities to consider now.
“May I have a word with Clarke, please?” Lexa requested.
The guest left the lounge. Clarke stood, pacing the ottoman. Lexa followed her, grabbing for Clarke's wrist. Their fingers linked together into a warm hold.
“Clarke?” Lexa whispered.
“Tell me you can't be serious about this?” Clarke said.
Lexa bit her bottom lip. She looked down to their hands, her thumb rubbing over Clarke's knuckles. Lexa stared at them, finding it easier to look at than her watery blue eyes and the sorrow etched into her brows. But the longer Lexa started, the more she thought of how much she wanted to place a ring on one of her fingers, find a way to do it through the pack. Lexa gulped, swallowing down a whimper.
“I should have known something like this would happen.” Lexa said.
“Madi needs you.” Clarke reminded.
“And so does the pack. They need order and I need to keep you safe.” Lexa said.
Clarke slipped her hands out from Lexa's warm grip. Lexa flinched seeing the anger and disgust on Clarke's face, directed at her. Lexa folded her hands together, resting in front of her hips.
“I-I can't... This is too sudden.” Clarke gasped.
“Clarke, please, I'm doing this for you.”
“Every time it comes down to this. You chose the pack or me and now Madi. How do you expect me to explain this to her?” Clarke said.
“I can't sit idle watching wolves overrun the city again. Who knows what else they'll try to do.” Lexa said. “I need to do what I can to keep order and to keep my family safe.”
Clarke glared. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. They were supposed to stop Cage, deal with his men and the wolves, then go back to their time together before leaving for San Francisco. The only difference being Madi. This wasn't what they had planned.
“And what you expect me to sit here waiting again? Worrying about what will happen to you out there?” Clarke hissed.
“I know this is difficult Clarke.” Lexa said. “This is difficult for me too. I will ask Titus for some time to decide.”
Lexa skipped dinner to allow Clarke some space since her meeting with everyone. Lexa couldn't find it in herself to rest, knowing she would probably be leaving here. To distract herself, she went to the library, but reading did little to ease her mind. Anya entered, her face less stern than when she first arrived.
“You're upset.” Anya said.
Lexa's frown in her brow dipped farther down her nose.
“Titus gave us two days to decide if I want to run this pack.” Lexa said.
“And you're worried about Clarke?” Anya said.
Lexa sighed and closed her book, putting it on the table.
“We can make this work between us.” Lexa said. “We've done it before.”
Anya raised a brow.
“That's since changed with what happened and Madi.” She said.
Lexa frowned. That was something she couldn't forget. And now having lived two years here she got to know Madi much better. She had a bond with her, one Lexa wanted to see grow as she matured.
“The two of them would be targets.” Anya said.
“Then what do you suggest?” Lexa asked.
Anya walked around the table.
“The life of Commander is a lonely one.” Anya started. “But it is a responsibility very few can hold. You are fit for the role in many ways. You would not abuse your power and you have the natural heart of a leader.”
Lexa exhaled. This was the same thing Costia and her father told her. The time they spent together her father had been the one so certain of this role for her. Costia took some persuasion, but by the end of it they all agreed and Lexa spent time trying to figure out how they could see anything like that. A farmer's daughter in the heart of England in a sleepy village that had nothing to offer even for bandits, but now she was here.
“Clarke won't understand.” Lexa said.
“No one does.”
Lexa looked at Anya, tearful and frustrated.
“I want to spend time with her.” Lexa said.
“As you should.” Anya agreed.
“There's one more thing. I've asked before, but is there a way of removing a mating bite?” Lexa questioned.
“Yes, but it's painful.”
“I'm not afraid of pain. I would like to ask for a favor.” Lexa said.
The two days aren't long enough. Lexa spent what she could we Madi one day. Another with Clarke, her trying to talk Lexa into staying, and her begging, crying, then angry about the entire situation. She blamed her in her stupor, mixed with alchol and Lexa let her. Clarke had every reason to be angry and unhappy about it and Lexa had no room to disclaim it. Then they would kiss and Lexa spent the night trying to remember every touch and taste of her. The sound she made calling her name when she orgasm and Lexa was left a weeping mess, laying on top of Clarke in the end. They had breakfast that morning and Clarke wasn't any less upset but she wasn't yelling and that was something Lexa would have to take. Lexa didn't have to contact Titus until late afternoon. Clarke went to the garden after breakfast. Lexa found her painting at her easel, something she did a lot more now with her studies being of Lexa or Madi. Lexa approached her, seeing Clarke work on another painting of Madi, this time of her sleeping on her basinet.
“It's almost time.” Lexa said.
Clarke frowned, her brush stroking up her canvas.
“Your mind was already decided since yesterday.” Clarke said.
“I will return Clarke. I promise.” Lexa said.
Clarke put down her paintbrush and faced Lexa.
“You've said that before.” She said. “And what about Madi? Raised by a single mother, are you okay with that?”
Lexa looked at her hands, clenched at her sides, the nails cutting into her palm and her bottom lip pinned between her teeth. The pain did little to keep her tears at bay. The warmth of them touched her lashed as she blinked.
“Of course not.” Lexa muttered. “But I can... I will see you when I can.”
“You know that can't always happen.”
Lexa nodded, gulping down a cry. Her hands are shaking. Lexa fished into her trousers pockets and presented Clarke with a golden bracelet with a green gem in the center.
“I had this enchanted.” Lexa said. “It glows when I think of you. I'm sorry we need to be apart.”
Clarke glared, seething and hurting. This was not supposed to happen again. This wasn't supposed to be another end. Clarke scoffed. Lexa watched her, timid and loving. Clarke couldn't be angry with the way Lexa looked at her, yearning and in love.
“If you were sorry you wouldn't leave.” Clarke snapped.
“There's one more thing.” Lexa said.
She reached a hand out, pressing her palm against Clarke's neck on her scar and Clarke felt a jolt of heat rip through her. Lexa's hand glowed and Lexa cringed, grunting in discomfort and released her hand. Clarke gingerly put her hand over her neck. The skin soft and unmarred. Lexa licked her bottom lip, tears trickling down her cheeks.
“No one can know.” Lexa said. “But... The magical bond we have, you'll be able to feel me.”
“How did you – ”
“I had Anya do it for me. It was safer for you to go through it.” Lexa replied.
“And you didn't think to talk about it with me first?” Clarke said.
“I'm trying to do what is best for you Clarke.” Lexa defended. “Please, this is already hard enough as it is.”
Clarke turned away, angry but her face covered with tears. This wasn't fair. Between the pack, Madi, and Lexa, how could she let this happen to them.
“And now you expect me to wait for the day you might come home which we will never know for sure?” Clarke said.
“I won't – ”
“You don't know that! You can't possibly know how any of this will go and you're just going to risk your life for them.” Clarke spat. “Just go, before Madi sees you.”
Lexa stayed, hoping to get Clarke to look at her one last time, but she rather not see her this angry.
“I will come back to you Clarke. I promise.” Lexa said, walking away from Clarke.
She gulped, trying to gather herself as she heard Clarke cry behind her.