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Break from the Masses

Chapter Text

Clarke steadies herself.

Her ears perk attentively, twitching restlessly and straining outward in the night for focus. The wood is quiet, mostly – the comforting chirp of a particularly noisy cricket; the soft, occasionally eerie hoot of an owl into the darkness; the creaking and groaning of the forest's swaying limbs – but Clarke carefully listens, anyway.

She knows that there is more out there, and she is swiftly proven right.

A twig snaps far off to the west, and Clarke predatorily lowers her stance in answer. Her ears flatten in strict, aggressive warning, quiet growls vibrating across menacingly bared teeth. The pure white fur of her belly weaves between threads of rain-dampened grass and through the warmth of darker fur beneath, paws braced directly above her charge and clawing into the earth, ready to defend if needed. Her lips twist into a gruesome snarl – an evident challenge to anyone brave enough to approach.

Clarke doesn't even know this girl.

The wolf below her is not Pack; her scent is heady and overwhelming, but distinctly unfamiliar. Still, the mahogany-shaded omega Clarke so protectively guards is definitely hurt, and undoubtedly in heat, and the alphas of Clarke's Pack have tirelessly tracked the heavy, honeyed lure of her need through half of the forest, already. The snow white wolf hears at least one of her brothers in the distance nearby, and the others surely won't be long to follow.

This omega isn't safe here, and Clarke knows it.

Her wolf knows it, too.

A small, tortured whimper snares Clarke's immediate attention, azure blue eyes flitting rapidly to the injured girl beneath her. Clarke quickly tempers her defensive stance, nosing reassuringly into the pretty wolf's flank, and the girl trembles visibly with a long, instantly grateful purr. The white wolf preens, satisfied with the comfort that she has offered, but Clarke disregards her inner alpha's pride and frantically curses their location.

They're deep in the woods, too far out to seek refuge among the humans, even if the weakened omega could find the energy to make the shift, in the first place. Clarke has options, she knows, but they are limited, and neither of them propose enough chances to work in her favor.

She can fight off the other alphas of her pack, and she might keep this omega safe long enough for her to flee, but the probability of that is slim. A dark red slash, four marks wide, bleeds from the torn flesh of the wounded wolf's neck, and another matches it along the plane of her heaving stomach. Dark brown fur mats around the injuries, blood caking together only to offer another way for Clarke's Pack to track her, and even if Clarke manages to fight off some of the alphas who seek to have her, the girl is too hurt to make it far enough to escape them. Even if she could withstand the journey, Clarke considers rapidly, the consequences of defending her would leave Clarke Packless – and as questionable as Clarke feels her Pack's decisions often are, she thinks that being of no Pack cannot actually be an option.

The only alternative is to find shelter. To hide. To shift, and expose her humanity to this strange wolf long enough to move her. It's Clarke's best choice – she knows that – but it acts against every custom that she's ever been taught.

Shifting outside of Pack company is against Pack law, but Clarke knows she has no choice, and she's running out of time.

She releases a single, feral growl – soft and irrefutably dangerous – and the omega underneath of her rumbles with instantaneous greed, neck folding left to expose her neck to Clarke's teeth in deeply yearning submission.

The white wolf snaps her jaws, temptation luring her to just do it – just bite her, mate her, knot her; make this beautifully scented omega belong to her – but Clarke forces the shift, anyway. Her wolf rages internally, swearing its ability to demonstrate strength; swearing its ability to please this omega better than Clarke is able – to protect her better than Clarke is able – but Clarke snarls impatiently and shoves it further within.

There isn't time for her wolf's wounded pride, even if Clarke's heart thunders beneath her breast in growing fear that the white wolf might be right.

She crouches, long blonde hair curtaining off the moonlight as her nails dig into the soil beneath. The mahogany wolf watches with dark, bleary green eyes, curious and confused, hurt and clearly desperate for an alpha's touch. She writhes in the dirt, small whines tearing hungrily from her soft muzzle, and Clarke reaches tender hands outward to stroke soothingly through the fur just behind her ear.

"Shh," Clarke coos softly. "It's alright. It's okay. I'll keep you safe," she promises, then swallows thickly and prays that she can keep her word. "Trust me," she pleads earnestly. "I can do this, but I need you to trust me. Can you do that?"

The wolf whimpers again, but her soft brown snout pushes gently into Clarke's palm, and Clarke instantly breathes a sigh of relief.

"I need to mask your scent," Clarke tells her shakily. "Or as much of it as I can," she murmurs in morbid afterthought, curling her fingers more firmly into the earth and coming up with a handful of mud, which she slathers generously across soft, pleasingly thick fur.

The omega trembles under Clarke's cautious attention, and Clarke's body shakes in answer.

She could never take advantage – could never succumb to her alpha's need to take from this omega, with or without her consent – but the blonde can't deny that she is tempted. The brown wolf's pelt is luxurious and beautiful, her green eyes are wary but wanting, and Clarke had drooled over her sweet, delirious scent from more than three miles out, upwind.

Clarke has never smelt anything like it.

Still, it's that same scent that troubles Clarke; there's only so much that a little bit of mud can mask, and, frankly, this omega's pheromones are winding through the forest's trees like fog, heavy and thick and everywhere. There's little Clarke can do to contain it here, but there's a bunker not far out – Clarke tries not to think about the night Finn had shown it to her – and if Clarke can just get them there, she thinks it will seal most of the girl's scent inside. Clarke can lock her in, shift back, and confuse the scent with her own; the searching alphas will follow in Clarke's path, she knows – because she is Pack – and when they find her, Clarke will swear up and down and straight out of her ass that the pungent omega's scent had faded at the edge of the woods.

Clarke will tell them that the omega shifted, and escaped.

Clarke will lie.

She will lie to Pack.

With determined resolve, Clarke bears blue eyes into rich, leafy green, and tells the wolf quietly, "We don't have much time. I need to carry you, and you need to let me," she says, uncompromising. "You're hurt, you're in heat, and you're not strong enough to move on your own. I want to keep you safe," she swears quickly, "but I need you to help me make sure that I can."

The wolf beneath her slowly comforting palms whines – long and urgent and needful – and Clarke knows that it is more in wistful agony than anything else, but she chooses to accept the noise as one of agreement.

"I know," she murmurs in sympathy, bracing her hands against the omega's neck and hind haunches. "I know, it's not the kind of touch you need," she whispers thickly, and effortlessly raises both herself and the wolf in her arms from the ground, never more grateful for her alpha's physical strength than she is now. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," Clarke shakes her head in guilt, sighing deeply as the omega cradled in her hold squirms restlessly, a sharp whimper crawling from low inside of her chest at the close contact.

Clarke strains some small tuffs of dark fur through her fingers as best as she can for comfort. She still has to carry the girl – still has to keep her from writhing so much that she won't merely tumble her way from Clarke's hold, back to the forest floor all over again – but Clarke tries.

She tries her best to be soothing, strictly platonic, and kind, but she knows it means very little to the aching omega in her arms. Omegas are sensitive to touch regularly, but in heat

In heat, any sort of touch feels sexual, to an omega, even when it isn't; even if they are hit, or burned, or scratched, or bitten, the touch of an alpha is all that an omega can think about, while in heat, and – at least in that moment – the omega will thrive on any sort of touch that an alpha is willing to offer.

Clarke loathes it.

She is an alpha, too – a strong and uncommonly attractive alpha, her wolf boasts proudly – and she more than understands the insatiable desire to mate with a mewling omega in heat. Still, Clarke also knows that there is no measure of desire that could rightfully grant an alpha permission to take from an omega what they are not fit to willingly offer.

Clarke is one of few among her own Pack who honors that.

Clarke will never support the way that her Pack abuses the sacred union of alpha to omega. She will never understand how they believe it right for alphas to brutalize them for temporary, personal satisfaction, or how it is supposedly fair that the omega pays the lifelong price for it; how the toll it takes over the omega in the aftermath is enough to make them turn docile with shame, and how that docile behavior is the ultimate goal in treating them that way, to start with.

Clarke doesn't understand that, and she doesn't want to.

She can resist, even when it's difficult; even when this gorgeous omega thrashes with want for her in Clarke's arms, and even when her scent curls through Clarke's nose like wisps of smoke that seem to linger on purpose.

"It's not much further," Clarke whispers shakily. "Just hang on for me, okay? We're close," she promises with earnest.

The wolf answers with a gentle extension of the neck, wet nose pressing into Clarke's cheek before a soft tongue laps once, slow and tender, from the blonde's fluttering jaw up to her ear. The omega growls softly – Clarke guesses at the musky, very distinctive taste of alpha now burning against her tongue – but Clarke spares a soft chuckle for the greedy noise, anyway, and fights the way that her muscles tighten with the effort to keep a leash over her own desires.

She focuses on her task and listens as intently as she can, but Clarke's senses are weakened slightly, outside of her wolf. She thinks they have enough of a head start, and she doesn't hear anything quite yet, but she pushes her feet a little faster, just in case, stepping carefully to avoid marking the earth with her trail.

It's another three minutes before they find the bunker, and Clarke sweetly lowers the injured wolf near the trunk of a tree as they approach.

"Give me a second. I'll be right back," she vows.

She doesn't wait for the wolf to answer. Clarke knows the distance will agitate the omega – knows that Clarke is the only alpha here, and that the omega needs her touch, in whichever form she chooses to deliver it – but the separation is unavoidable. Clarke needs her hands for this.

She scrambles swiftly over the ground on all fours, feeling for the casual bunch of leaves and the thin layer of soil that mask the entrance to the small hideaway. When she finds it, Clarke drags muddy palms through the displaced patch of earth to expose the bunker's door. The blonde eases it open as quietly as she can manage, and hurries swiftly back to the twitching, wriggling omega by the tree, hoisting the girl back into her arms. The contact is enough to calm the omega, if only briefly, but easing her through the hatch and down the ladder is still a challenge.

Clarke knows it's probably uncomfortable, but she is more concerned about this mahogany wolf's safety than her comfort, so she hauls the omega's neck onto her left shoulder, arm braced across her lower spine, positioning the wolf's paws onto her chest. Her hind legs fold against Clarke's left thigh, pressing into it for stability, most likely, and Clarke carefully lowers herself onto the ladder, cradling the wolf to her chest like a toddler. She murmurs a swift apology for the indignity, all while doing her best to speed the journey along as much as possible.

Clarke clenches her teeth as she descends through the latch. The omega is so warm, pressed against her like this, and her scent is more powerful and tempting than anything Clarke's ever known. She's never felt like this – has never had her resilience tested, like this – and until Clarke has a second to gather herself, she thinks it's safest to breathe as little as possible. She closes the latch as they ease their way down, and Clarke navigates the ladder as quickly as she can manage with a medium-sized wolf still braced in her hold.

It's a relief when her feet finally touch the floor.

The small bed is in the corner, just like before. There's a desk, and a few cupboards, with a once-useable kitchen that really only boasts a stove that no longer has gas left to fuel it. Clarke thinks there's water, a few cans of non-perishables, and some dried meat in the cabinets – assuming no one has been here since she and Finn last visited – and after she gently settles the omega over the sheets of the bed, she quickly moves to make sure.

The omega might be here for a few days, and Clarke wants to be sure that she has everything she needs for the duration.

Everything in the cabinets is exactly as Clarke remembers, though, so she nods her satisfaction and steps into the bed, palm instinctively falling to the omega's injured belly in her approach. The wound is mostly shallow, though the ends drag deep into the wolf's skin, and Clarke whimpers as her alpha mourns the sight.

"I'll clean this for you when I get back, okay?" Clarke swallows thickly, eyes flitting toward the bunker's entrance. "I need to lead them off," she murmurs with a pained sigh, loath to leave the hurting omega behind, but knowing that it's necessary. "I'll be an hour, maybe two," she tells the wolf tremblingly. "And I'm sorry that I have to leave you here alone, but there's no other way. I'll be back soon," Clarke promises hoarsely, tugging reassuringly at mahogany locks, "and I'll make sure that you're taken care of, okay?"

Devastated green eyes peer up at Clarke from the mattress, so the alpha reflexively kneels and presses her nose into the fur of the omega's neck. Her scent is so strong there – so immobilizing; so enchanting – but Clarke inhales deeply once, and tells herself that it's enough. She tells herself that this contact, however weak and brief, is enough to sate her thirst for the lovely omega whose name she does not know.

The last thought is grounding, for Clarke, and so she focuses on that. This omega is a stranger, and Clarke won't allow herself to forget that she has no rights to her wolf's body, or to her heat.

Clarke's only job is to keep her safe. And she hasn't accomplished that, yet.

"I will be back," Clarke swears with conviction. "I won't leave you here longer than I have to, but I need to go now, or they'll catch up with us too quickly. Do you understand?"

Heat doesn't make omegas irrational, exactly, but Clarke knows that it's difficult to find focus beyond the urgent need to be satisfied, and she wants to be sure that her charge is able to hear Clarke's words. She wants this omega to know that Clarke will return for her; that Clarke will not leave her to suffer her heat alone, without any of her Pack nearby to soothe her.

The blonde shouldn't have worried. While her own alpha is one of, if not the strongest in Clarke's Pack, she thinks that this omega is unnaturally strong, too. Her body suffers for her heat, but the mahogany wolf's mind doesn't appear to suffer as greatly. Her belly arches pleadingly into Clarke's soft caress, but her tortured eyes calm mildly in the wake of Clarke's promise, and she arches her flank around to nip agreeably against Clarke's wrist.

"I'll come back," Clarke promises one, final time, before she instinctively drops her mouth to press between the wolf's burning hot ears.

She doesn't look back – can't look back; can't watch the omega's heart break as her salvation abandons her, if only for a short time – because Clarke doesn't think that her alpha can bear it. She is less possessive than most alphas, Clarke knows, but she is also more protective than most, too, and she knows that it hurts her more often than it helps.

Clarke's wolf thrashes from within, begging Clarke to stay at the hurt and aching omega's side if for no other reason than just to guard her, but Clarke won't let it. The benefit of being part human is that Clarke is able to think far beyond her wolf's more basic desires, and Clarke knows that her plan will keep the omega safer, in the long run.

It still isn't easy for Clarke to leave, but – with a deep, final breath of the omega's sweet, honeyed scent – she pushes her feet up the ladder and shoves her shoulder into the bunker's entrance to part the door.

Chapter Text

Lexa knows very little about the Skaikru.

She knows, of course, the story. She knows how they had fallen from their home in the sky more than sixty years before, in a desperate bid for survival that had barely worked in their favor. She has heard more than once the whispers of past commanders, telling her of the way that pieces of their ship had dropped like raging comets out of orbit into Trikru territory, burning fires in its wake for days. She has heard from the elders of many Trikru villages of how Heda Priyah had met only once with an envoy of Skaikru ambassadors – as little more than a dismissive courtesy – before rashly declaring them enemies to their nation.

Lexa, too, recognizes the mistake of her predecessor in doing so, as the result had been a damning alliance between the Skaikru and the Maunon, already greatly feared by Lexa's Pack. Heda Priyah's first – and only – attack upon Arkadia had ended in a debilitating loss of Trikru warriors by one of the Maunon's first-fired missiles, and the losses suffered by their armies had left them vulnerable to the power hungry Azgeda for decades.

Combined, the Skaikru and Maunon tek is something that Lexa's Pakstoka will likely never be able to combat, and Lexa has thus far agreed with the past commanders that it is safest for their people to simply steer clear of them. The Coalition despises the Maunon and all that they stand for – and, by association, many of its members also despise the Skaikru for the alliance that still holds between them.

Lexa has wondered, on more than one occasion, if that is just. The Maunon have greedily stolen betas from the Coalition's villages for more than eighty years – twenty longer than the Skaikru have even been a part of these lands. In more recent years, the Maunon have made ripas of their alphas, leaving approximately half untouched, and have refused only their omegas for reasons Lexa does not know. Her people's hatred for the Maunon is justified – Lexa wholly believes in that – but the Skaikru have never, to Lexa's knowledge, actively participated in her people's capture.

The Skaikru are the unknown.

For many years, Lexa's Pakstoka have raged against an enemy only rarely seen. They have yearned to tear at the walls of Maun-de and destroy every heartless beast that lives within it, and will argue in favor of this within their war rooms for days, if Lexa allows it – and yet, this has been the case for generations; no matter their fury, Lexa and her kru all know that the Maunon's tek is too much of a danger.

Infiltrating Maun-de is a wish – a hope that burns brighter with each attack upon their people; a flame that consumes their hearts with each member of their Pakstoka stolen from them, or returned as less than human or even wolf – but it has never been a practical wish. The Maunon are too powerful, and there is too much about them that Lexa and her Pakstoka cannot understand. They can take out too many of Lexa's warriors at once, and it is not a risk that Lexa or the past commanders have ever been able to take.

Lexa will not jeopardize the lives of her kru for a battle that they cannot win. Until now, Lexa has never seen a way around that.

Tonight, Lexa thinks, she has been presented with an opportunity.

Lexa has never spoken to a Skayon before. She has never even seen one up close, and has never been closer to one than the borders of their respective lands allow. The only Skaikru who leave the gates of Arkadia are their wolves, and they only ever depart as wolves. Their humans remain within their territory, and haven't interacted with any of Lexa's people since their very first meeting with Heda Priyah in the immediate days following their arrival to earth.

Still, the Skaikru are allies of Maun-de, and there is a chance – however small – that Lexa can use this beautiful, oddly sympathetic skai alpha to her advantage. Assuming, of course, that the skai gada keeps her word and returns to care for Lexa, as she promised.

Lexa is not naïve. She is in heat – an unfortunate happenstance of time that had turned her drugged and loose from Maun-de swiftly after her capture, but which had left her wounded and vulnerable upon her release, twisting her sense of direction until she'd stumbled unknowingly into Skaikru territory – but Lexa is not branwada.

She does not trust the skai gada's kru, or even the skai gada herself, but she recognizes fortune when it favors her.

There had been many an alpha set upon the trail of Lexa's heat, and she had worried for what might become of her Pakstoka if their heda became claimed by an unwanted skai alpha. Lexa had collapsed in her weakness, weary and injured and woozy from a cocktail of drugs which she has never experienced before, only to be discovered and curiously protected by one of the very alphas she had tried to escape.

Lexa's omega had practically crooned beneath the strong alpha's dedicated care. Her encompassing scent had roused every need that the mahogany wolf has ever felt to the surface. Her touch had blistered feverishly beneath Lexa's fur, but had calmed her in the very same instant. Even now, Lexa writhes with a long huff of dissatisfied breath at the unappealing notion that the alpha might not return to her.

It is strange.

Lexa has felt the indescribable pull of an alpha, but never this way. She has never been so tempted, and has never before offered her submission to another wolf – alpha or otherwise. Pure instinct had driven her neck to arch beneath the growl of that stunning, pure white wolf, and when the alpha's maw had snapped greedily at the air, the mahogany omega had not understood why her teeth refused to meet impact against her throat.

She has never seen an alpha with such beauty, and has never felt one with such strength, but her resistance is something else, altogether. Lexa has never known an unmated alpha to decline what Lexa, in her vicious heat, had been so very eager to offer, and the demonstration of her restraint had only forced Lexa to admire her that much further.

The omega wants her – wants her bite, her claim, her knot, her pups – and while that might largely be her heat dictating her actions, denying the wolf's desires is not something that Lexa's Pakstoka have ever been inclined to do.

Lexa does not trust her, no, but there is much of her that wants to. She is intrigued enough to try and learn from this skai gada, and she is desperate enough for her touch to want to know her better.

Lexa hears her before she sees or smells her.

She whimpers into the old world bedding that surrounds her the instant that her sensitive ears begin to pick up on movement, and she squirms restlessly overtop of now-muddied sheets. The Commander's skin crawls – too hot, too desperate, too untouched – and she mewls the very moment that the bunker door spreads apart to allow the alpha's unique, natural scent back into the sealed room.

Lexa watches with eager green eyes as the blonde girl hurries gracefully down the ladder with a pack strapped across her shoulders, and purrs in mild satisfaction when she darts swiftly over to Lexa's side. Her soft palms stroke tremblingly down the uninjured stretch of Lexa's flank, and she murmurs soft hushing noises directly into the omega's ear.

"I'm sorry that took so long," the girl sighs tiredly. "It took some serious work to get out of Arkadia unnoticed, after the hunt," she says quietly. "Our alphas were- very unhappy that I'd lost your trail," she laughs bitterly and rolls her eyes, "and they'll probably take a while to calm down."

Lexa wonders why she is doing this. It clearly is not simple for the girl to disobey the rules of her Pack, and she is risking a great deal by returning to Lexa's side at all. The Commander wonders about her purpose.

"Would you like me to clean these for you, now?" The blonde inquires gently, motioning briefly toward Lexa's injuries. "They look painful," she grimaces in sympathy. "I'm not- I'm not an expert, exactly, but my mom's a doctor, and I've spent a lot of time learning from her, so I know what I'm doing," she explains soothingly.

Lexa hesitates, but noses into the girl's palm in silent assent, purring deeply as the blonde takes it upon herself to scratch the sensitive fur behind the darker wolf's ears. She then tugs the pack from around her shoulders and begins pulling out supplies – a cloth, some sort of bandage, a liquid that will likely burn once pressed into Lexa's wounds, if it is anything like the treatment of her own healers, a silver, pointed object with something that looks like string, and a small container that rattles when the girl moves it too sharply.

"The one on your stomach isn't too bad," the blonde tells her reassuringly. "I'm sure it hurts," she smiles sadly, "but it'll close up on its own without any problems, as long as you keep it clean. The one on your neck," she swallows thickly, "will probably need stitches. It's pretty deep," she admits with a shaky sigh, "and if you leave it the way it is, it'll only get bigger, and it'll probably get infected."

Lexa does not understand 'stitches,' and she thinks her eyes convey that in ways that her words cannot, in her wolf form.

"Oh," the girl blinks. "Um… stitches are– Well, I have to basically sew the wounds shut?" She tries, and Lexa tongue lolls stupidly outside of her mouth in what would've been a smile, as a human, when it is pitched to her as an uncertain question, instead of an explanation.

She understands, now; many of her healers do not like to do… stitches, but the ones who travel with Lexa's armies are not shy with them. Given the injuries they are often forced to tend to, the travelling healers have little choice but to perform them, if they wish for their patients to live. Lexa has had this done to her body before, and she is not afraid, but the skai gada's hesitance and determination to explain to Lexa what is happening is endearing.

Lexa clearly is not in much of a position to object.

The girl works quickly, but efficiently, Lexa notes. She speaks to the brown wolf in soft, indulgent undertones that truly are not necessary, Lexa thinks, but the omega hums a near-constant litany of gratitude in answer to the alpha's care, despite it, and does her best not to squirm beneath her healing touch. She dwells on the attention and feels her omega swell with pride, even as her wounds burn when the blonde girl wipes a soaked cloth first over her own hands, and then over the gashes in Lexa's flank and belly.

When she's finished, the skai gada sighs deeply and blinks, before murmuring in muted realization, "I'm Clarke, by the way," she smiles repentantly. "I probably should've mentioned that before. Sorry," she shrugs sheepishly.

Lexa lilts her head to the side, eyes hungrily drinking in pretty golden curls and impossible blue eyes. The girl is small, in height, though the Commander knows that her wolf is not so; the blindingly white alpha is nearly a head taller than Lexa's own wolf, and Lexa recalls feeling distinctly protected as the giant alpha had stood guard over top of her, the omega thrilled with such a strong alpha's devotion. Her skin is fair, her cheeks dusted lightly with a faint blush – likely caused by the lure of Lexa's heat – and her pink lips bow prettily into a pout as she laments that she has no name for Lexa, in turn.

Lexa cannot offer her name, at the moment, but even if she could, she wonders if she might be too distracted to offer it, anyway.

Clarke, Lexa considers pensively, wishing to roll the name over her tongue, just to test the way that it feels. To know the way that it sounds, parting from the edges of her very own lips. To know the taste of that name in her mouth, because Lexa is certain that – one day – she will scream it often.

One day, she will belong to this sky girl. Lexa is sure of it.

Klark kom Skaikru.

Lexa does not know her, and does not trust her – but she is determined to, and Clarke has laid a very satisfactory foundation for it. She had saved Lexa from her own Pack, at great risk to herself. She had kept Lexa hidden, and had made Lexa promises that Clarke had then kept. She had returned to Lexa, as she had vowed to, and has done all that she can for the Commader's injuries. Yet, still, the girl has not left her side.

Instead, Clarke packs away her medical supplies, stows the bag on a countertop in the cramped, old world kitchen space, and shifts.

A sizeable, powerful white wolf stalks toward the bed in the moments following, leaping gracefully onto the mattress at Lexa's side, and a sharp trill shudders down the omega's spine in answer. The white wolf is fascinatingly pristine, deliciously capable, and remarkably attractive, and Lexa's omega feels proud just to know her touch.

She wants more – needs it; wants to drown in it – but each time Lexa attempts to nuzzle more firmly into Clarke's neck, the alpha nudges her away and chidingly nips at the omega's tender ears. Lexa huffs her displeasure, but Clarke merely purrs and curls the long length of her body entirely around Lexa's, smothering her in the alpha's embrace.

Clarke will not take her, no matter how badly Lexa's wolf desires it, and though the human in Lexa is grateful, the omega is mildly bitter. Still, she soaks in the press of the strong, lean alpha against her and marvels, again, at the confusing refusal of this alpha to dominate. The air is thick and heavy and strained, but Clarke does not waver in her determination even once. The skai gada only comforts, pulsing gentle waves of alpha pheromones at Lexa each time she begins to grow unsettled.

Despite Lexa's faint feeling of rejection, she knows that this is more than enough to guide her through her heat without allowing madness to overcome her in the process, and she knows, also, that this is far more than Clarke had ever been required to offer.

Chapter Text

Clarke stirs herself awake slowly, with a sleepy growl and a reluctant huff of breath pushed out through her nose. She sniffs keenly at the air while only half-conscious, quickly satisfied to note that the sweet scent of the omega she had rested beside bears no trace of fear or alarm. She is definitely still in heat, the alpha registers swiftly, and Clarke certainly wakes wanting, but the strength of her scent is just the slightest bit milder, which likely means that she has found the strength and energy to make the shift.

That realization alone is enough incentive for the white wolf to blink bleary, tired eyes apart in order to sate her curiosity and take in the scene.

The alpha lies on her stomach, front paws tucked beneath the white fur of her torso. Her snout both turns inward and lifts upward, weighing gently over top of a slender, beautifully curved hip, and a calloused palm rests – but does not stroke – in the space between Clarke's newly attentive ears. The white wolf's body is pushed tightly into the omega's warm side – chest to tail – offering as much physical contact as she can, even in sleep, and the omega does not seem eager to move away.

Instead, the omega is propped up with her spine pressed into the wall, one long leg bent at the knee, and its opposite fully extended across the mattress to accommodate Clarke's full-bodied touch. She watches Clarke wake with observant, openly inquisitive eyes, her dark emerald gaze peeking out from an oval-shaped face with black shadows smeared messily across its length in paint. Her jaw is defined and proud and enviable, her lips bare, pale pink, and full. The column of her neck is long and slim, stitches standing starkly against injured flesh – a strange working of biology between wolf and human that Clarke has long given up on trying to understand – and dark, brunette braids spill mostly untamed across strong, lean shoulders. She wears some kind of armor – at least, that's what Clarke thinks it must be, because it's too thick to practically be anything else – and, over top of it, a crimson sash offers more color to this small bunker than Clarke thinks it's probably ever seen before. A small, golden gear marks the center of the omega's forehead, pinned over smooth, sun-darkened skin, just between her eyes, and Clarke wonders idly at where it came from, and what it means.

The blonde's alpha is eager to see what the pretty omega will do next, and Clarke isn't entirely sure how to react otherwise, so she settles into her wolf and shuffles her nose off from the human hip it rests upon. She extends her paws a little further, lowering her chin to rest lazily over top of them, and languid blue eyes take in the omega before her without shame.

"I am Lexa, Heda kom Jus, and Commander of the twelve clans," the brunette announces after a lengthy pause, her voice surprisingly soft, yet unmistakably firm, "and it would seem that I owe you a great debt, Klark kom Skaikru."

The alpha adjusts her angle, head maneuvering curiously to the side.

Clarke knows practically nothing about the people and wolves who exist outside of Arkadia. Her Pack has been told that they exist, of course, but the Council has made it very clear that the Grounders are extremely hostile entities – savages, Clarke thinks Jaha called them, once – and the Pack is forbidden from interacting with them in absolutely any capacity. Up until now, obeying that law has never been a problem for Clarke. No stranger ever enters the lands of Arkadia, and all members of her Pack are strictly prohibited from leaving them – which begs the question of what Lexa had even been doing there in the first place, but Clarke stows it away for later.

The important part, Clarke thinks, is that there are apparently at least twelve separate clans thriving outside of Arkadia's walls. The people of those clans clearly have their own language – Clarke won't even try to translate Lexa's foreign words without help – and if they have a Commander, then they clearly have some kind of government, too, even if it is a militaristic one.

This omega hasn't shown Clarke a single sign of hostility thus far; this omega is educated and polite and respectful. This omega is clearly no savage, and this omega is their Commander.

Which means, Clarke considers with a resigned, but burdened snort, that she has likely stumbled across the most dangerous omega that Arkadia and its Council could ever even fathom.

And of course this is the one her alpha wants.

"You will be well reimbursed for the trouble I have wrought upon you. Please accept my apology for placing you in such a difficult position with your Pack," Lexa offers diplomatically, though her voice quivers noticeably when the white wolf offers a quick, but vicious growl partway through.

Clarke's Pack had threatened Lexa. They had hunted the omega – relentlessly – all through the forest, and the white wolf frankly doesn't give a damn about whatever difficult position she might be in, if her actions are discovered.

If the Council imprisons her, so be it. Ideally, Lexa will be long gone from here if or when that happens, and even if she isn't, Clarke will at least be able to sleep well at night knowing that she had tried; her alpha will know that she protected this omega, at least as long as she could, and both the wolf and the girl will be satisfied in that knowledge.

No omega deserves to become all but enslaved to an alpha they never Chose, and Clarke would never forgive herself if she allowed that to happen when she could've done something to stop it. Clarke doesn't need reimbursement for that.

"You do not wish for compensation?" Lexa asks after a long, hampered silence.

The white wolf growls again, slow and rumbling and clear, teeth bared in disgust. She snaps her jaws once in anger, and feels Lexa tremble against her side desperately at the powerful demonstration.

"Then what is it that you wish for, Klark kom Skaikru?" The brunette demands on a shaking whisper, omega pheromones pulsing out from her in heavy, needful waves.

The alpha exhales sharply once, but Clarke forces the shift before her next breath in. She does not trust her wolf to behave under the alien weight of that decadently sweet scent, and Lexa's question requires a true, worded reply. Her wolf is no longer needed here, and Clarke needs to escape the strength of those pheromones as much as she can.

It is the only advantage Clarke has ever found in her weaker human senses.

Contemplatively, Clarke frowns, briefly stretching her limbs and scratching idly at the uncomfortable material of her jeans before shuffling onto her side. She props her arm up near the brunette's stomach, supporting her jaw in her palm as she searches out emerald eyes that stare into Clarke's blue like Lexa is trying to crack her open, just to see what lives inside.

"Why would you assume I want something?" Clarke asks, offended.

"Our world is not that kind, skai gada," Lexa replies dryly.

Clarke hums thoughtfully. "What does that mean?"

"It means that it is rare, in this time, to receive a gift without being expected to one day return one of equal or greater value," Lexa answers pointedly, if not also impatiently.

"That's not what I meant," Clarke smirks playfully.

"Then what?" Lexa demands curiously.

"Those words. What you called me…" Clarke swipes her tongue over her lips in thought. "Skai gada," she recites after a pause. "What does that mean?"

"Sky girl," the omega translates easily. "Though you are the first I, or any of my people, have encountered in many years."

"I don't come from the sky," Clarke argues lightly. "My people did, once, but that was a long time ago."

"Then what is it that you call yourself, Klark nou kom Skaikru?" Lexa questions with a quiet, confident purr. "If not the sky, then from which place in this world do you hail?"

"Our land is called Arkadia," Clarke offers helpfully. "It's named after the Ark – the space station that fell from the sky."

Knowingly – and somewhat arrogantly, Clarke smiles fondly when she notices – Lexa's brow arches upward. "Skaikru," she reaffirms with a blatantly determined nod.

"But we aren't from the sky," Clarke laughs breathily, and tries not to take in more of the omega's scent than absolutely necessary, because, stars above, this girl smells perfect. "Not anymore," she insists.

"Perhaps," Lexa acknowledges thoughtfully. "However, the city of your people is named for the vessel that once lived in the sky; through this, it is clear that your Pack is quite proud of their heritage. Why, then, should we not name you for the sky from which you fell?"

Clarke considers her point, and she agrees that it's a fair one, but that's hard for Clarke to accept. Mostly, she wishes that she couldn't see the truth in it, though she suspects her reasons differ greatly from Lexa's.

"My people are proud to have survived the bombs, and the Ark was what made that possible," Clarke shares eventually with a tired sigh. "It's hard to be inside of it, though. Our entire city is built in or around the broken remnants of that spaceship, and it's- it's massive, Lexa," the blonde swallows thickly. "It's cold, and entirely made of metal, and it's so unnatural; there's no wind, or rain, or trees – just metal and machines," Clarke tries to explain, though she knows that no words can ever be enough to describe the injustice of a wolf trapped within the tin can of the Ark. "My Pack is proud to live on the ground, now, but- there are so many restrictions on how we must live that it almost feels like we aren't even here at all. It's a waste," Clarke spits distastefully. "The people of Arkadia – not the wolves," she clarifies, roughly clearing her throat, "but the people– They never have the chance to even see the world outside Arkadia's walls. Many of my people have never even seen a river, and even the wolves have never seen the sea," she laments wistfully.

Clarke takes a moment to collect herself, but she doesn't feel rushed. Lexa is patient and quiet, pumping out much softer, gentler pheromones meant to soothe the anxiety that Clarke knows she must be able to feel radiating out from her alpha. Lexa seems genuinely interested in Clarke's reply, so the alpha takes her time, drinking a few breaths of air into her lungs and shuddering when they fill with nothing but that damn omega's scent, before she tries again.

"You're right, I guess," Clarke confesses eventually. "My Pack hasn't changed much, from their times in the sky. Life in Arkadia– it still feels like a cage," she blinks tear-filled eyes and turns her gaze away from the open scrutiny of Lexa's. "It still feels the way that I imagine the Ark felt, when it was still in the sky," she sighs again and shakes her head. "My people are proud to live on the ground, but we aren't actually allowed to live on it. Not really. We just survive here, and I don't think most of them even realize it. So maybe we are from the sky," Clarke shrugs tiredly, but with fire in her eyes, "but I do not want to be."

"Then I wonder," Lexa murmurs solemnly, "what you will choose to become instead."

Clarke smiles grimly, and can't help wondering if she even has a choice. If she doesn't belong to her Pack, then there is nowhere else for Clarke to go.

"What are your people like?" The blonde asks after a moment.

It's partly to redirect Clarke from her own increasingly morbid thoughts, but mostly Clarke asks because she can't even imagine what life outside of Arkadia might look like, and she's curious to know where Lexa comes from.

The brunette bristles briefly at the inquiry, but Clarke furrows her brows in earnest confusion, and Lexa forcibly relaxes before the blonde can question it.

"Ai Pakstoka – my Pack – are at peace for the first time since the bombs," Lexa tells her slowly, though Clarke thinks she detects a small current of pride, too. "The clans trade freely amongst each other as they never have in past, and they travel freely, too. Floukru live with Trikru, Trikru live with Sankru, Sankru live with Yujledakru, and war does not emerge. It is- new," Lexa settles with a faint smile, "but it is peace, and it has long been fought for."

Clarke doesn't understand half of what she'd said, but she hears what's important. She hears that Lexa is content, with the peace between her people, and she believes that – as Commander – Lexa must have played a role in establishing that peace, for her to be this proud of it.

"That sounds nice," Clarke answers honestly.

"Sha," Lexa nods her agreement with that same, absent smile.

"That means yes?" Clarke guesses lightly, nudging softly into Lexa's hip with her spare palm.

"Sha," Lexa teases with a coy smirk, pheromones spiking violently at the alpha's touch, and Clarke all but chokes on the renewed strength of her scent.

It itches at the back of Clarke's throat and dries out her tongue and mouth. She feels half-crazed with sudden need, and she growls with tested restraint as her wolf howls with want from within. She has to shuffle somewhat awkwardly as she feels her clit begin to tighten, lengthen, harden, and Clarke huffs her displeasure with herself before standing from the bed, hurriedly inquiring, "Are you thirsty? Hungry? I'm going to get some water. I can get you something, if you want?"

It's a noticeable deflection, Clarke knows, but she can't help it. Her alpha has Chosen this omega, and Clarke wants her. Lexa is beautiful, wise, and purely fascinating, and while Clarke might be unhappy with her physical reaction to the omega, she certainly isn't surprised by it, and she isn't ashamed.

Still, the last thing she wants is to make Lexa uncomfortable – even if the omega is quite obviously preening over Clarke's obvious response to her, from the bed, her smirk turning sly and the ring of green in her eyes barely visible around pupils blown wide with lust.

"Sha, alpha," Lexa replies with an overtly seductive purr, and Clarke practically falls into the kitchen counter with an immediate groan of distress to answer it. "You may get me water, if you wish, though there are other things I would happily take from you, instead," the omega taunts mercilessly, staring pointedly at the straining fabric of Clarke's pants.

The alpha doesn't growl – the omega's evident interest in fact makes the white wolf unmistakably proud, and far more eager than Clarke would like – but the blonde shakes her head and refuses to let it emerge.

Lexa is in heat, Clarke reminds herself firmly – which means that the omega's interest is only partly genuine, at best.