Clarke pulls the ear buds out of her ears and closes the anatomy textbook that’s on the table in front of her. She yawns and straightens out her back, stretching her arms above her head. Her eyes lazily scan the bleakness of the library around her, the scent of day old coffee and sweat riddled in the air. It’s quiet; the only sounds besides muffled chatter are that of pages turning, keyboards clicking, and the occasional whirr of the photocopier.
When she looks to her right, Lexa has effectively fallen asleep. Her body is slouched over the table with her head resting next to her laptop, hair a haphazard mess all over the place. Clarke checks the time and sees that she only has ten minutes to make it to her night class which is on the complete opposite side of campus.
“Lexa.” She whispers, softly running her fingers through the tangles in Lexa’s hair, nails scraping at her scalp to wake her up.
Lexa stirs and peaks at Clarke through her mess of locks. Her eyes are tired and bloodshot, but she manages a half smile. “Do you have to go?” She mumbles.
“Unfortunately.” Clarke settles her hand onto nape of Lexa’s neck letting her fingers gently knead into the tense muscles. It feels too good and Lexa groans only loud enough for Clarke to hear.
“What time is your class over?” Lexa asks, finally sitting up right. She rolls her head from one shoulder to the other. Clarke keeps her hand in place repeating the motions.
“I’ll be back in my apartment around nine o’clock.”
“My practice should be over before then.”
“Just let yourself in.” Clarke offers as usual. She removes her hand and pulls her bag onto her lap. She rummages through it until she finds her keys and gives it to Lexa. It’s muscle memory by now.
Lexa smiles. “Octavia?”
Clarke shrugs, shuffling all her belongings into her bag and zipping it back up. “Staying at Raven’s.”
Lexa nods relieved. She likes Octavia, sort of, but she can be a handful at times. And at least this way she doesn’t have to listen to the muffled sounds of her and Raven having sex through the paper-thin walls again. Besides, Lexa likes to be alone with Clarke whether they are just laying on the couch watching a movie or doing homework in silence. “Can I stay the night?”
“Like you have to ask.” Clarke grins. She stands and slings her backpack over her shoulder but not before remembering something. She slides her backpack off again and digs through the side pocket. “Here.” She hands Lexa two protein bars. “You said you ran out of these the other day and God knows when the last time you went grocery was. Can’t have you fainting at practice again.”
Lexa rolls her eyes, but she’s always thankful that Clarke seems to know how to take care of her better than she can take care of herself. “I didn’t faint. I just got a little…dizzy.”
“Right. And then fell to the floor. Your coach told me everything.”
“Whatever.” Lexa says silently bemoaning Gustus’ big mouth, but she’s gratefully taking the bars from Clarke. “Thank you.”
“See you tonight, okay?” Clarke says leaning down, close to Lexa. “And don’t forget your shin pads again.”
Lexa tilts her head up expectantly and Clarke presses a brief and by now routine kiss into her cheek before striding away. It’s not until Clarke disappears through the doors that she feels the girl across from her staring. Lexa blinks, seemingly having forgotten about her. It’s Harper from her from her political science class. They don’t talk much, just friendly hellos, how-are-yous, and forced small talk much like earlier when Harper took the last vacant seat in front of them in the study area.
Harper smiles. “I didn’t know you had a girlfriend. How long have you been together?”
Lexa warms. She cocks her head and quirks an eyebrow. Part of her almost starts laughing—she doesn’t want to admit this isn’t the first time this has happened. “I don’t—Clarke is not my girlfriend.”
“Oh.” Harper’s face tints red. “Sorry. I just thought—you were so—shit, nevermind. I’m sorry.”
There’s a beat of awkward silence and the only thing Lexa can do is offer a polite smile to brush it off. It fades just as quickly and is replaced by mild anxiety. Lexa does well to hide it. “It’s cool, don’t worry. I have to go, but I’ll see you in class?”
Harper nods still embarrassed. Lexa hurriedly shoves her belongings into her book bag and collects her gym bag from the floor. She waves once quickly at a distant Harper before making a beeline towards the door.
Along the way, she rips open a protein bar with her teeth and pats her gym bag to feel if her shin pads are in there. They are; but so is some other foreign feeling object. Lexa stops just before crossing the threshold to the outside and opens her bag.
It’s an unopened bottle of Gatorade (red, her favourite) that Clarke must have slipped into her bag earlier this afternoon while they were out getting lunch.
Lexa smiles to herself. The rubber soles of her sneakers kiss the concrete stairs as she jogs down towards the sidewalk. She might be unaware of the way her heart hiccups, but she is aware of just how special Clarke is.
Suddenly, Clarke’s room key, which is still in Lexa’s hand, starts to burn.
Lexa wakes up first to sun slanting across her face through the open blinds. She blinks, feeling the headache set in from the amount of champagne that was consumed last night. A bad idea knowing all she had to do today. Her mouth is dry, her neck is sore, and the weight of an arm is slung low and comfortable across her hips. She follows the arm as she rolls to her side and Clarke is in the same position was in when she passed out what feels like only several hours ago.
She’s balled tightly into the fetal position; blonde hair cascading in front of her eyes and tucked in close to Lexa. Lexa finds herself staring. She watches the gentle rise and fall of Clarke’s chest, the way her laugh lines and furrow between the brows smooths out. She watches until Titus starts meowing and pawing at the bedroom door.
The mattress dips under the weight of Lexa as she carefully shifts to get up but Clarke is stone cold out. Not even the floor collapsing could wake her. Lexa learns she only snores when she’s sick or has had too much to drink. She shuts the blinds and pulls the blankets over Clarke tucking it under her chin before brushing the hair out her face tiptoeing out of the room.
“Quiet, Titus.” Lexa hushes as she opens the door and scoops the cat into her arms. Anya had warned her to not get a pet; between school and soccer it would be too much, but Lexa insisted feigning loneliness as if she doesn’t already spend every waking hour Clarke. “You’re so needy and noisy.” She boops Titus on the nose with her finger before he wriggles free from her grip and darts away. “Let Clarke sleep, okay?”
In the kitchen, Lexa starts a pot of coffee and searches for an empty water bottle while the machine percolates. She has practice today and as much as she’d like to be around when Clarke wakes up and just hang out, which could be hours from now, she can’t.
So instead, Lexa downs two ibuprofens and a huge glass water before scrambling a few eggs and frying up some bacon quickly. She eats her half and leaves the rest of it in the oven to stay warm because she knows Clarke is going to be too hungover to make her own food. She even leaves a hot cup of coffee on the nightstand next to Clarke.
Clarke hasn’t moved yet; her snoring a little bit more aggressive than it was earlier. It’s cute, Lexa thinks, but also a little disconcerting that such a noise could emanate from a small, delicate person.
Lexa brushes her teeth and changes quick, grabbing whatever she needs from her room. This isn’t anything new, the sleepovers, the comings and goings. But before she’s out the door, she scribbles a quick note and leaves it on the counter.
“Sorry I couldn’t stay, have practice. There’s food warming in the oven and there’s still coffee in the pot if yours is cold. Help yourself to anything else. Titus is extra cranky today so beware.”
She taps the pen against the counter a few times before signing off the note. It leaves a small, blue ink stain. And it should be easy, she’s left a thousand notes for Clarke before but today the pen feels heavy, the meaning of the words running a little deeper than usual. Then finally:
PS: please don’t forget to lock up if you go anywhere. You know where the spare key is.
Hours later, Clarke stumbles into the kitchen in nothing but her underwear and one of Lexa’s oversized t-shirt. It’s too bright, but she’s too keen on following the scent of food.
She finds the note first reads it over and over, unbeknownst to the smile on her face. The sudden affection panging at her chest is interrupted when Titus pawing at her ankles becomes more of a nuisance than it is tolerable. Clarke has never been too fond of cats, especially this one. She drops him a tiny piece of egg in hopes that he’ll disappear. Instead, he inhales it before jumping onto the counter and purring at her, eyes narrowed in distrust.
“I should have left you in the pool when I had the chance.” Clarke narrows back, remembering how ungrateful he had been after pulling his soaking wet body out of the water. There’s the faintest hint of a scar just above her eyebrow to prove it. She feeds him a piece of bacon before shooing him off the counter.
When she’s done eating, she musters the strength to tidy up and take a shower. Along the way, she’s suddenly conscious of all the traces of herself she’s left around Lexa’s apartment. Her schedule is tacked to Lexa’s bulletin board, there’s regular dairy milk in the fridge just for her because Lexa only drinks soy, and she has a toothbrush and contact solution in the bathroom. The only thing short of Clarke actually living here is that she doesn’t have a drawer full of her own clothes yet. However, the clothes that she does have here are scattered everywhere. (She still hasn’t forgiven Titus for chewing the strap of her favourite bra.) And never once has Clarke felt uncomfortable rifling through Lexa’s closet like it’s her own. Not like Lexa minds anyways.
On top of all that, Clarke can’t actually remember the last time they she spent the night here and not wound up in Lexa’s bed. She often feigns the couch will be fine, but if it’s not Lexa waking her up and urging her to come to bed where it’s comfier, it’s Clarke subconsciously migrating to the bedroom like a heat seeking missile and latching onto Lexa.
Clarke watches as the suds pool at her feet and circle down the drain in a daze. The water is hot and it’s the only thing that makes her feel alive in the wake of her hangover. Her favourite part about showering at Lexa’s is that she can use her shampoo and smell like her for the rest of day.
It’s sort of then that Clarke realizes just how in over her head she is.
They practically do live together and not in the casual roommate kind of way, like her and Octavia. This runs deeper on an emotional, mental, and physical level. She can’t help but think this is just a relationship without the title—or the sex.
That’s not to say Clarke hasn’t thought about it.
Clarke blinks, mindlessly massaging the conditioner in her hair. She thinks back to Lexa’s note and the spare key. She does know where the key is. It’s usually in the cabinet where all the mugs and cups are hidden inside a shot glass pushed to the back—and it’s a little extra considering if anyone is going to break in, they’re going to do so from the outside without a key—but for the past few months it’s been fastened to her key ring and Lexa hasn’t even noticed.
Suddenly, playing house has never seemed so real.
It’s a Wednesday afternoon when Lexa takes a walk to the corner store to buy some groceries. She’s been out of the essentials for days and can’t stomach the thought of eating cereal for all three meals for one more. She could just go to Clarke’s and eat there since her fridge is always stocked, but Lexa is making a point to be more of an adult, more self-sufficient.
Mr. Lee is standing behind the counter as usual as the door chimes open. Sometimes it’s his wife, but Lexa thinks he’s friendlier and she’s become endeared to his collection of sweater vests and offerings of ginseng candies even if she never eats them because they taste like something that shouldn’t be ingested.
“Hello, Lexa.” He nods at her, lifting his glasses to his head. His comb over hasn’t changed in the last three years and neither has the liquid in the slurpee machine, so it seems.
“Hi, Mr. Lee.” She waves.
Lexa moseys through the quiet aisles, white fluorescent lights flickering above her as she collects what she needs. The fridge buzzes violently at her when she pulls the glass door open, reaching for the soy milk; and the scent of something stale wafts into the air.
“You sure you need all this?” Mr. Lee says when Lexa approaches the counter.
“One can only live off of cornflakes and poptarts for so long.”
Mr. Lee shakes his head. “No, I mean your other one was already here. She buy the same thing. Except real milk.”
Lexa grins politely in confusion. Mr. Lee has a bit of an accent so maybe she hasn’t understood correctly and his long-standing history of trying and failing for humour is heading for a new record.
“You know, the blonde one. Clarke.” He says it like Lexa should know exactly what he’s talking about. “Your girlfriend already come to buy all this.”
Lexa’s face burns hot and red. Somehow this is more uncomfortable than when Harper made the same mistake, but strangely enough she’s not all that offended by the implication. After all, why would she be? Clarke is beautiful and a catch by all standards.
Mr. Lee clears his throat and Lexa snaps back to reality. She fumbles her wallet when she pulls it out of her pocket.
“Clarke is not my girlfriend, Mr. Lee. We don’t even live—“ She stops. He means well, but this is not his business and Lexa is not one to share this sort of information with someone she doesn’t know.
Mr. Lee hardly bats an eye, but Lexa can tell he isn’t convinced. He settles his glasses back onto his nose and begins to ring up Lexa’s groceries. He only looks up once when he goes to put the soy milk into the bag.
“Real milk better for you.” He says, pressing various buttons on the register.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Lexa narrows her eyes and purses her lips into line. It forces a tiny smirk and a wink out of Mr. Lee.
She’s halfway to the door when Mr. Lee stops her. “Wait.”
Lexa turns and he points to the jar full of dusty ginseng candies by the door. “Take two. One for you and Clarke. Good for your health.”
She obliges, then tosses them into the garbage at the end of the block.
Mr. Lee’s words ruminate in Lexa’s head the entire walk home and even after she’s half set the groceries away. She repeatedly tries to think of all the times she may have been affectionate with Clarke around him and comes up with nothing. She’s in the middle of entertaining the idea that maybe the connection they have is so strong and deep that it’s their energy and silent chemistry that gives them away when the sound of a key sliding into the door startles her.
Clarke steps in, bottle of wine in hand, and Lexa breathes a sigh of relief. She could have sworn the spare key was still stashed away.
“I thought you had plans tonight.” Lexa meets Clarke halfway and greets her with a kiss on the cheek. Clarke squeezes Lexa’s side in response and it unleashes a flurry of butterflies in Lexa’s stomach.
“Cancelled them.” Clarke shrugs. “Wanted to hangout with you.”
Lexa prays Clarke doesn’t notice the blush in her cheeks. Then her eyes are flickering down to the wine bottle in her hand. “I see you came prepared.”
“I see you did too.” Clarke’s gaze finds the grocery bags on the table. “What are you cooking me for dinner?”
Lexa rolls her eyes and shuts the door behind Clarke. “Do you still have my spare key?”
“Maybe. Why? Do you want it back?” Clarke sets the wine onto the counter and rummages through the cabinets for two glasses.
“No. I just—how long have you had it?”
“I don’t know. A while? You really haven’t noticed it’s been gone?”
Lexa shrugs. “I guess not.” She pads over next to Clarke who has made herself comfortable at the kitchen table and stills the hand that’s trying to remove the key from the key ring. “Seriously. Keep it. It’s yours.” She assures, bending down to press a soft kiss onto Clarke’s forehead.
When she backs away, Clarke is smiling. Lexa only lets herself smile when she’s turned out, looking for the corkscrew.
“Hey.” Lexa says, rejoining Clarke at the table. “You’ll never guess what Mr. Lee said to me today.”
Freshman year seems like ages ago. Newly eighteen with a sense of wonder so untamable and taste for life so unbridled and pure. The freedom of college had been at their fingertips. Now adulthood is catching up with them.
Now they’re 21 with the same sense of wonder and maybe a slightly more corrupted outlook on life. The upside is that they can cope with all those things while drinking beers at their favourite bar; the one that Clarke had dragged Lexa into just days after her 21st birthday to wait out a thunderstorm.
It’s just after 11 o’clock and Raven and Octavia have since left feigning tiredness, but Clarke had known as soon as she saw the look on Octavia’s face that they weren’t going to back to Raven’s to just sleep.
In the wake of it all, Clarke and Lexa have made themselves comfortable on one side of table while they try too hard to decipher what is the meaning of life and what does the future hold. Neither of them is sure they want to know, though Lexa’s obscure viewpoint that life is merely about surviving troubles Clarke.
“Don’t we deserve better than that?” Clarke picks an invisible fluff off of Lexa’s shirt and Lexa simply offers Clarke a look. It’s a look that’s only reserved for her and it’s laced with an undercurrent of sadness, but then Lexa is changing the subject because she doesn’t want to deal with the heaviness of it all.
Besides, it’s impossible to feel down when trashy pop music fills the bar and Clarke is looking extra beautiful, like some radiant goddess sent to from the sky to keep her company. They eventually get too caught up in laughing and singing along to the music to really take notice of their surroundings. The bartender is boisterous, the crowd is rowdy, and there’s an intense game of pool going on just behind them.
But then there’s a moment where Clarke looks up and out of the corner of her eye, she sees him.
“Shit.” Clarke whispers, angling her body towards Lexa’s in the hopes that she goes unseen. It’s been almost two years since she last spoke to him and she had been hoping she could have gone a lifetime more.
“What? What is it?” Lexa’s eyes dart around the bar wondering who or what Clarke is hiding from. “Are you okay?”
Clarke groans, drawing long from her beer.
“Finn is here.”
Lexa stiffens. She knows of Finn, Clarke’s ex-hometown sweetheart. The boy she had left behind to go to college, the boy who wouldn’t stop calling every night and sending her letters. The boy who, when Lexa and Clarke had just become friends, was the only one who could muster a genuine smile from Clarke. That is, until Clarke finally had enough of his desperate antics and well concocted lies and tried to cut him off.
Lexa has never seen his face and that’s far from accidental. His name will forever feel sharp against her tongue and she could never fully understand why she resented someone so much whom she had never even met.
“Do you want to leave?” Lexa asks, keeping her gaze exclusively trained on Clarke and nowhere else. It’s her way of being protective.
“No way.” Clarke shakes her head. She enjoying the closeness of Lexa and the way the alcohol makes her feel light and carefree. “I’m not letting someone so irrelevant ruin our night.”
Lexa nods, signaling the bartender for another round of drinks. Still, she remains guarded.
Finn goes forgotten for a while and Clarke believes if she just sits here quietly and gives her all to Lexa, he won’t even notice her.
The minute she looks back up, Finn is already staring at her from across the way. He smiles, familiarity etched into his eyes. It’s tainted by the knowledge of his actions. Clarke’s heart nosedives, but that sting she used to feel doesn’t come anymore. She’s moved on and that hurt is now replaced with annoyance. She merely blinks at him before looking to Lexa.
“It’s okay.” Lexa says, placing a comforting hand over Clarke’s on the table. She had figured out on her own which one was Finn by the way his gaze kept settling in their direction, only to look away when she would look back. “Really, we can go if you’re uncomfortable.”
Clarke is stubborn and only drags her chair closer to Lexa’s. She wants to be here with Lexa, she wants them to get a little bit tipsy because she loves the way that Lexa touches her when she thinks no one is looking.
She wants to tell herself she only feels this way when she’s drunk.
“As long as he stays away, it’s fine.” Clarke reassures.
“And if he comes over?” Lexa questions.
Clarke shrugs. She doesn’t have an answer and then the wheels are turning in Lexa’s head.
She has an idea. Maybe not a good one, but it’s better than nothing. She drapes her arm around the back of Clarke’s chair and lets her hand wrap around her bicep. She leans in and softly tucks the hair behind Clarke’s ear.
“What are you doing?” Clarke’s voice is low and it hitches. Her eyes are penetrating.
“He won’t come over if he thinks we’re together.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“Do you have a better idea?”
“A hundred, actually.”
Lexa looks at her patiently, waiting. All Clarke can do is swallow because there’s something comforting and, dare she think it, really sexy about the way Lexa is leaning over her so confidently. It’s possessive in all the right ways and Clarke is also drunk enough that she begins to think this is also a good idea.
It’s hard to say no when Lexa’s eyes are so big and bright and she’s looking at Clarke like there’s no one else is the room. So they stay close like this for a while, Lexa whispering into her ear and tracing her fingers up and down Clarke’s arm for dramatic effect anytime she catches Finn looking their way.
She might even do it when Finn isn’t looking. Okay, she does. She wonders where the line starts and ends.
Clarke hopes Lexa can’t feel the goosebumps pricking at her skin or that Lexa hasn’t noticed the way she hasn’t stopped staring at her mouth.
The second time Clarke catches Finn’s gaze, Finn is halfway out of his seat and looking like he’s going to come over. Clarke flusters and hurriedly drinks what is left of her beer. Lexa can see him standing in her peripheral and that’s when she gets another idea.
It’s a stupid idea, even stupider than the first because she hasn’t had the time to think about the repercussions yet or even talk herself out of it. But she’s had too much to drink and can’t think of a reason not to.
“Lexa, what do I—“ Clarke’s question is cut short when Lexa leans forward and kisses her.
Somewhere in the bar, Finn stops dead in his tracks.
Clarke freezes. Everything around her stops and goes quiet. Lexa lips are just as soft as they look and her heart is beating heavily in her chest. Their lips stay locked for only a few seconds, but it might as well be an eternity.
Lexa panics and wants to pull away, but Clarke’s mouth feels too nice against hers; too much like all the times they fall asleep in each other’s arms when they probably shouldn’t. She’s halfway to regretting everything when Clarke’s hand reaches up and cups her cheek.
Then Clarke’s eye flutter shut and she’s exhaling hot and warm into Lexa’s mouth and Lexa has to summon all her willpower to not deepen the kiss right then.
Clarke on the other hand is still finding her bearings. Kissing your best friend shouldn’t feel this good, should it? It shouldn’t feel like fireworks inside of her. Like her lips are on fire and her head won’t stop spinning.
But it does.
“W-what was that?” Clarke’s voice is barely a whisper when they pull apart. Her breath is quick and airy and her cheeks have flushed scarlet. She absently licks at her lips, wondering if she’ll ever get to do that again.
“A…diversion?“ Lexa stammers, her whole body tingling. Her usual bravado falters at the mercy of kissing Clarke Griffin; she can’t actually believe the conviction in which she had done that. Call it liquid courage. Then she’s glancing to her side. “But it worked. Finn is gone.”
That’s all it takes for reality to catch up with them.
When Clarke looks up and searches the entirety of the bar, he is gone. His seat is empty and the jacket that hung over the back of his chair where all his friend still sit is gone with him. Clarke sighs relieved and part of Lexa wishes he were actually still here so she could keep up the charade.
“Thank you.” Clarke manages. For the first time in a very long time, she can’t look Lexa in the eye and she loves Lexa’s eyes. It’s not for any other reason that she may not able to control her impulses and might kiss her right back. The more she thinks about it, the more it seems like it might not be such a terrible idea.
She doesn’t, though.
The kiss doesn’t get mentioned for the rest of the night, even when they’re walking back to Lexa’s apartment through quiet and deserted streets, even when they’re laying next to each other in bed blanketed in silence and darkness. At least in the morning if it does get brought up, they both have alcohol as their reason, that what happened was nothing more than fleeting deviation.
Lexa is already asleep, back towards Clarke when Clarke’s phone buzzes and lights up on the nightstand. She leaves it for a moment, too busy letting her eyes play connect the dots with the freckles that smatter across Lexa’s shoulder blades.
Finally, she rolls over to check her phone and it’s a text from Finn. It reads:
“Didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable tonight. Sorry. I hope your girlfriend treats you better than I did. Take care.”
It’s the first time in years Clarke doesn’t have a negative association to Finn. Still, Finn is in her past so the suggestion of the text message is neither here nor there even if the words “your girlfriend” seem to be the loudest ones. She deletes the message and switches her phone to silent mode. Then she’s rolling onto her other side again and letting her face nuzzle into the back of Lexa’s neck; she smells sweet like her shampoo.
Lexa isn’t actually asleep though. Her eyes are wide open and staring blankly at the wall and she’s more than aware of Clarke’s breath on her neck. How did their friendship get like this, so blurry? At what point is it not friendship anymore and instead, a relationship? At what point do they take a step forward together, or take a step backwards and apart? At what point does all of this warrant a conversation?
Clarke drapes her arm across Lexa’s waist and Lexa doesn’t try to pretend to sleep anymore. She leans back into Clarke and then she’s lacing their fingers. Clarke stills for only a second, then she’s letting herself melt into it.
Sleeping close is not out of the ordinary, but this is a different kind of intimate. The kind that makes Clarke wish she were brave enough to say all the things she wants to.
Maybe it’s still the alcohol, maybe it’s something about the middle of the night that makes Clarke braver, but she’s pressing a feather light kiss onto Lexa’s bare shoulder, one that Lexa isn’t sure if she imagines or not, before she can stop herself.
Finally, they fall asleep together.
Lexa doesn’t think twice when Clarke asks her to come home with her for spring break. Her bag is packed before they’re even off the phone and she’s already making arrangements for Anya to cat-sit, who violently laments the idea of being alone with Titus for any period of time.
It’s not like they haven’t done this before, followed each other home during breaks and holidays. They practically live together during the summers, alternating several weeks at a time in each other’s hometowns. It all started in freshman year when Clarke dragged Lexa home for her birthday weekend, and now midway through their senior year, it’s just expected.
Lexa knows Clarke’s family; she might as well be part of it. There had been no avoiding it and everyone had been more than happy and willing to welcome her in when Clarke brought her home for Christmas last year after Lexa had a huge falling out with her parents. There were lots of tears and hugging and Abby and Jake had treated her as their own. They still continue to love her fiercely. Especially when they see how happy Clarke is around her.
It’s nine in the morning when Clarke shakes Lexa awake. Clarke is already showered and dressed for the day, and Lexa blinks through hooded eyes while Clarke wipes away the sleep.
“Five more minutes.” Lexa yawns and rolls to her side. “Come back.” She tugs Clarke by the hand, inviting her to join.
Clarke laughs, rolling her back. “Get up, pretty, we need to go see my grandma today.”
It’s a struggle, but Lexa is up and ready to go in less than thirty minutes. She’s far from a morning person, but she does have a soft spot for Grandma Jane even if she’s super old and starting to lose her mind a little bit. It has everything to do with the fact that Lexa never had the chance to meet either sets of her grandparents and that Grandma Jane as well treats her as one of her own.
On the way to the nursing home, Lexa makes Clarke stop at a florist so she can bring Grandma Jane a small bouquet of lilacs, her favourite.
“Are you trying to outdo me as her favourite grandchild?” Clarke teases, nose deep in a bushel of roses.
“The competition was over years ago when she knit me that scarf and all you got was a pair of socks.” Lexa quips, paying for the flowers and thanking the florist.
Clarke scoffs in mock offence, flashing a palm at her and Lexa is laughing as she jogs after Clarke back to the car. Inside, as the engine rumbles to life and radio kicks back on, Clarke’s mood shifts and her face tinges with melancholy. Lexa notices and reaches over the centre console to hold her hand. She knows where this is coming from.
“Hey.” Lexa hushes, her thumb stroking lightly over Clarke’s knuckles. “It’s going to be okay. Getting old is just a part of life. These things happen. She’s going to remember us, she’s going to remember you."
Clarke lets out the quietest sob that gets muffled into the traffic report. A single tear rolls down her cheek. “That’s the least of my worries.” She admits. “She’s in bad shape, Lexa. I just thought we’d have more time together, you know. I never got to take her to see the Grand Canyon. I’ll never get to take her to see the cherry blossoms in DC again.”
“Stop.” Lexa squeezes her hand. She doesn’t like to see Clarke like this, sad and helpless. “She’s not gone yet. She knows you’re coming.”
“I know, I know.” Clarke tries to calm herself down. “It’s just—she will be soon. They keep telling us how weak her heart is getting.”
Lexa shakes her head softly, willing Clarke to look at her. When she does, she wipes the tears from her face. “Death is not the end, Clarke.”
Clarke breathes out, seeking the warmth in Lexa’s gaze. She has never fully understood or agreed with Lexa’s belief in reincarnation, but now more than ever, she lets herself find some solace in it. She might be overreacting right now, anyways. Grandma isn’t gone yet, physically or mentally.
She squeezes Lexa’s hand back as a thank you. When Lexa tries to let go, Clarke doesn’t let her.
They hold hands for the entire car ride.
The nursing home, as usual, smells sterile and cold from the moment they walk through the front doors. The receptionist’s disinterest in their presence leaves a lot to be desired. Jackson, the regular, must be off today. The flickering of the fluorescent light bulbs in the hallways makes this place feel like anything but a home.
Clarke pauses just outside of room 2E and Lexa reassures her that everything will be okay, that she’ll be right there with her.
“Go on.” Lexa urges. “She’s waiting for you.”
Grandma Jane is already looking at Clarke when she rounds the doorway and steps in. She’s upright in her rocking chair between the window and the bed where the sun halos her, bright and warm. Her brow is crinkled and her frown lines are deep set. Clarke is already anticipating the worst when finally, she grins wide and her eyes light up.
“There’s my favourite Clarke!” Her voice is strained, but excited.
Clarke beams, overcome with utter relief. She’s lucid at least for now. “Hi, Grandma.” She wavers.
Then Lexa perks up from behind. “And your favourite Lexa, too!”
Both girls go over to greet her with hugs and kisses. Lexa sets the flowers on the windowsill, but not before Grandma Jane tells her to bring them over so she can smell them.
“Sit, sit.” Grandma tells them, motioning to the bed in front of her.
They do, making themselves as comfortable as possible on the lumpy mattress—it’s less a bed, more a futon/cot. It’s about the only part of these visits that they’re used too; visits are generally always hard, more so for Clarke than anyone else.
For a long time, all three of them sit there and talk. They talk about school, current events, how Lexa’s family is, and every so often, grandma tells them a story from her childhood; each time is a new story that neither of them has heard before.
“Grandma, are you hungry?” Clarke says, noticing the time. It’s been hours since breakfast. “Do you want to go that café down the street? I can get a wheelchair.”
Grandma smiles appreciatively. “I would love to Clarke, but I don’t think my body is strong enough anymore.”
Clarke nods, the words like cinderblocks in her chest. She dreads the thought of her grandmother eating whatever it is that they feed her here, and the thought that being pushed around in a chair is becoming too much of a task for her.
“Let me go bring back some food.” Lexa offers, trying to ease herself up off the bed. “You two stay here and catch up.”
Clarke looks at her, placing a hand on her knee. “Are you sure?”
“I’m sure.” Lexa nods, smiling at the both of them. “I’ll be back in twenty minutes. Any special requests, grandma?”
Grandma winks. “Surprise me, dear.” And with that, Lexa squeezes Clarke’s shoulder and disappears.
For the next new minutes, Clarke takes the time to tidy up the room. She unclutters the top of the dresser, organizes the shoes by the door, and finds a vase for the lilacs.
“Sweetie.” Grandma calls, gesturing for her to bring the stool in the corner next to her. “Thank you for cleaning up, but come for a second. I want to ask you a question.”
The stool is creaky as she sits, but she tucks in closely. Grandma holds a hand out for her and she takes it, smiling warmly.
“So when are you getting married?”
Clarke opens her mouth to say something, but the words are lost. There’s a tightening in her chest because it’s been years since she’s asked this and it feels like she’s slipping again.
“Grandma, Finn and I broke up a very long time ago. That is never happening.”
Grandma shakes her head and actually rolls her eyes. She holds Clarke’s hand tightly in both of hers.
“I know that, silly girl.” She pauses. “I didn’t mean Finn, I meant Lexa.”
“To Lexa?” Clarke blinks. Her head is starting to spin, but grandma’s eyes are relentless. “Lexa and I—we’re not—it’s not like that.”
A beat of silence passes and then grandma laughs. It’s pitiful and Clarke is nothing short of bemused.
“Clarke, baby, look at me.” Grandma says, her smile wry. “I’m old and senile. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning. I piss the bed more often than I don’t—don’t worry you were fine where you were sitting earlier. I’m not sure about a lot of things, like the date or where I am, but the way you two look at each other is the same way your dad used to look at your mom. He denied it just like you.”
Clarke doesn’t say anything. She’s not even sure what she would say. Instead, she lets her grandmother continue because as far as she knows, this could possibly be their last conversation.
“Honey.” She reaches up to touch Clarke’s face. “I might be old, but I’m not stupid. The way Lexa smiles at you is no different than the way she used to smile at you when you first brought her here. The way you talk about her…I’ve never heard you talk like that about anyone. Not Finn, not Wells, no one. Don’t let that potential go to waste.”
The air is thick and the words hang heavy around Clarke. She wants to say something, but still, the words won’t come. Luckily, Lexa walks through the doors at just the right time. Clarke turns and Lexa smiles. Her hands are full of goodies that smell delicious and the tension is alleviated.
“Grandma, I got you a sandwich and tea.” Lexa says, setting the bags in the middle of bed.
“Eh, maybe not there.” Clarke shrugs, having known too much. She helps Lexa move everything to the table.
Lexa sets the tea onto the windowsill next to grandma to cool for a bit. “I didn’t know how you took it so I brought you everything.”
“Oh, thank you, beautiful.”
Then she hands Clarke a cup. “Clarke, here’s a coffee, Splenda instead of sugar and cream instead of milk. Their espresso machine was broken so you’ll have to do without the shot. I was going to get you the tuna sandwich but there was celery in it and I know how you feel about that so I got you a wrap instead. I made sure they used real mayo instead of miracle whip.”
On any other day, Clarke would say thank you and not read too far into it. But now, considering the way the previous conversation is still replaying in her head, it sheds more light to the situation.
When she glances back to her her grandma, the knowing look on her face says more than any words could.
The drive home is quiet, the radio off and the windows open. Every so often, Clarke and Lexa will steal glances at each other. If either of them notices, neither of them says a word.
For the rest of the night, they take it easy. They make lazy spaghetti and meatballs, watch TV, and play two quick rounds of chess. Lexa wins both times. By the time bedtime rolls around, there’s an almost tangible shift between them. It’s not bad, just different.
Sleep doesn’t come easy for either of them. Lexa lays on her back and counts the stucco on the ceiling while Clarke is curled into a ball and pressed right into her, chin tucked into Lexa’s shoulder. Every so often car lights paint the walls. There isn’t much wiggle space considering they’re sharing Clarke’s childhood bed. The air mattress is long forgotten on the floor.
“Is everything okay?” Lexa asks.
“Long day, I guess.”
“I know. I know it’s hard, but you can’t worry too much about the things you have no control over.”
“I know.” Clarke echoes. “It’s not that, though.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Clarke stays quiet like she’s thinking about it, but Lexa takes her silence as an indication to not push. She’ll talk if she wants to.
For several more minutes, they stay like this. Clarke rests an arm over Lexa’s body, her fingers tracing unknown patters over her shoulder.
“Lexa.” Clarke whispers.
“I—“ She begins then stops. She shifts slightly then props herself up on one elbow and leans over Lexa, hair falling in front of her face. The backs of her fingers brush Lexa’s cheeks and Lexa shivers.
Lexa looks up at her, eyes wide and lips parted. From this close, she sees something in Clarke she’s never seen before. She can’t necessarily pinpoint what it is, but it makes the pit of her stomach burn hot and bright.
Clarke is still looking at her like she wants to say something. She opens her mouth, but then she’s leaning down and kissing Lexa.
It’s so soft and so gentle, like she’s unsure if this is okay. She’s nervous and Lexa can feel it in the way her breathing is uneven and way her pulse is erratic between them. Clarke’s lips move slowly and curiously around Lexa’s, learning them, feeling them. Lexa’s hand tangles into her hair.
This isn’t like the time they kissed in the bar, drunk and rushed. All pressure, no build up. This has been the crescendo since before then; since all those perfunctory kisses in libraries, at bus stops and street corners, and in place they may not even remember.
When Clarke pulls away, Lexa’s eyes are still closed. Her breath puffs shallow and Clarke leans down once more and kisses her softly again.
This time Lexa opens her eyes. Clarke’s hand is still on her face.
“Sorry.” Clarke mumbles, embarrassed. “I shouldn’t have done that.”
“Don’t be sorry.” Lexa manages, her voice hoarse and throat still dry from the kiss. “Your grandma made a good point today.” Now there’s nervousness starting to edge into her words. “About us.” She clarifies.
Clarke’s eyes are still searching Lexa’s when she settles back onto her side. Lexa rolls and follow her until they’re face to face and sharing a pillow
“What do you mean?” Another pause. And then the realization. “Oh. You heard.” It’s a statement rather than a question.
Lexa nods. She feels half guilty for standing outside of the door and listening but at the time it seemed like her only option. Clarke doesn’t seem upset, though.
“Don’t you think we at least owe it to ourselves to give it a shot?” Lexa continues.
Clarke’s lips curl into the faintest smile. “Miss life-is-just-about-surviving actually wants to take a chance?”
Lexa’s eyes glint with promise. “If it’s with you, then yes.”
The space between them closes again. Lexa kisses Clarke first, deliberately and painstakingly slow. And God do Lexa’s lips maneuver around Clarke’s like they’ve been there a million times before, like they’ve been waiting for years to do this.
Clarke only breaks the kiss for one second and it’s to breathe out,
And then Lexa is pushing Clarke onto her back and climbing onto her.
The next morning, Lexa wakes to find Clarke already in the kitchen standing over a pot of coffee and French toast cooking on the stove still in her pajamas. Jake and Abby are nowhere in sight and Clarke turns around bright eyed when she hears Lexa’s footsteps walk up behind her.
“Good morning.” Lexa says, hands low on her hips and yet still unsure if it’s okay to kiss her or not. It’s negated when Clarke pulls her close by the hem of her shirt.
“Morning.” Clarke grins, kissing her with coffee stained lips.
“I meant what I said last night.” Lexa reaffirms, reaching behind Clarke stealing a sip from her mug.
“I would hope so otherwise what was the point of me waking up early to cook you breakfast?”
They both laugh, light and carefree for the first time since yesterday. Out here in the open, sunlight cascading through the open windows and glinting off the marble countertops, it brings hope for a new day. Clarity.
Lexa sets the coffee back down too distracted by the way Clarke’s lips are clumsy on her face, then on her mouth, then on her neck. For too long they get lost in each other and it’s not until fire alarm starts beeping and the smoke swells from the stove that they realize all those years of playing house haven’t prepared them just everything yet, not this.
“Shit.” Clarke exclaims.
"Maybe we still have a few kinks to work out." Lexa grins, pulling the now black French toast off the stove.