As parties go this one isn't that bad. There's alcohol and food and the kind of music that makes Clarke's ears ring but it's fun. Finn is dancing like a dork in the corner with Bellamy, their drinks splashing down onto their shoes intermittently each time that one of them gets a little too into the choreography, and Octavia is whispering with Raven as they point across the room at the blonde guy that Raven brought with her. As she watches the party Clarke declines another drink from her passing friend; she's as drunk as she's willing to be on a Saturday night with this particular crowd. She's know that somebody needs to be sober enough to keep everyone from jumping from the roof and into the pool and thinking that it's a good idea. Her mom is out of town for the weekend with her new husband Marcus and the lack of supervision seems to have prompted Miller to play his music at full volume, his body rocking from behind the music as he keeps the crowd of juniors completely entertained before they head back to school in two days.
An entire summer of this debauchery has spoiled them all, Clarke knows, but she's looking forward to entering her senior year with a fierce attitude. College brochures already line her desk--thanks to Bellamy graduating school before them--and she has her favorites lined out and her major already chosen. Her grades are perfect, her friends are amazing and she has the sweetest boyfriend in all of Arkadia. He's attractive and sweet and his poetry always manages to inspire her art.
Her life, she thinks, is as close to perfect as it can be.
Sometimes she thinks there's something missing but she's still a kid; they all have time left.
"So this is where you've been hiding, Collins," distracts the party for a moment and they all turn to see Lincoln standing in the doorway, a smile on his face. There's a young girl with him and Clarke notes how Octavia seems to zone in on that fact quickly and she watches as her friends body begins to tense in a flare of jealousy that the girl isn't exactly known for. Clarke turns to the couple in the door and she watches as the female of the two winks across the room towards Finn, her boyfriend, and she bristles slightly at the movement. Lincoln seems to completely miss the fact that there are two pissed women looking at him, thanks to the new addition at his side, and he gestures to the girl excitedly. "Look who finally landed in Arkadia, man."
"Lexa," Finn slurs happily, his feet sticking to the floor slightly from the numerous drinks he's dropped, and he pushes by Bellamy in a clumsy fashion to make his way to the pair in the door. There's a dangerous feeling in Clarke's gut at how happy Finn is to see this girl (this utterly gorgeous, spectacular, pouting girl) and she flashes back briefly to the messages she'd once found on Finn's phone to an unsaved number. She plasters on a smile instead and looks at Finn when he yells across to her. "Clarke, baby, come here. Look who it is!"
She stands and walks to where Finn has his arm around the girls shoulders and she smiles at Lincoln as he moves past her gently to greet the rest of the room. The girl is looking at her in amusement and Clarke figures she should break the silence first since Finn has taken to giggling at his feet. "With the way Finn introduced us I have a feeling we're supposed to know one another but I'm sorry, I don't think I know you at all," Clarke starts with a soft smile and she extends her hand, ignoring how she's emphasized the word 'boyfriend' in a way she never has before. "I'm Clarke Griffin."
"I know who you are," the girl replies and her voice is hard to hear over the music but it's enough for Clarke to know that it's just as pretty as she is. She takes her hand and Clarke jumps slightly, the contact surprising her. "My cousin won't stop talking about you at family dinners."
"Cousin?" Clarke glares briefly at Finn because they've known each other for almost four years and they've been dating for six months and never once had he mentioned that he had a cousin -- or even other family besides his parents.
Finn looks like he wants to say something but he frowns suddenly, his face paling slightly. "Excuse me, I need the bathroom," he says and Clarke chuckles to herself as he leaves the room quickly to the sound of Raven's cheering for the first 'vomit comet' run of the night. The blonde is briefly distracted by her rowdy friend but she eventually turns back to the girl in the door, who has busied herself with taking her leather jacket off. The plain halter-style vest she's wearing does little to hide her tattoos--(which is obviously the purpose)--and Clarke really doesn't know why Finn wouldn't brag about this cousin of his more often because they've known each other for about three minutes and Clarke is already entranced by her.
"I'm sorry again. I'm honestly not this ignorant of my boyfriends family," she swears and she watches as the corner of Lexa's lips lift a little. The movement sets off something like alarms in Clarke's mind but she ignores then and instead moves slightly closer to Lexa, feigning being unable to hear her that well over the swell of music in the room. "Finn doesn't talk about his family much and I don't push it."
Lexa shrugs once and casts her eye over the crowd, briefly entertaining the looks she was getting, before she returns her dark gaze to Clarke. "It's okay, I've been away," she explains and Clarke sort of wants to know more but the girl is already barreling forward to the next topic. "Apparently been too busy growing his hair into that ridiculous style to be too talkative."
"I think it's nice," Clarke laughs and ignores the turn of her stomach at the sudden arch in Lexa's brow. "Are you here visiting him?"
The music dims when Lexa laughs and she shakes her head at the blonde, glancing once in the direction her cousin ran off in and she looks on in amusement. "He really is like a puppy," Lexa murmurs and Clarke finds herself taken with the way Lexa's lips curl around the words she's saying, finds that she can't really look away. "He's sweet and innocent to look at but he's practically useless in everything else he does."
Clarke is pretty sure that's offensive to puppies everywhere but the girl in front of her has green eyes and is made up of sharp angles and she can't find it in herself to yell at her about it.
"I'm moving here," the girl continues, waving a hand nonchalantly. Like Clarke's world hasn't just halted and began spinning on a different axis for reasons she's not willing to research into just yet. "Me and my sister just landed this morning and I start Arkadia on Monday. I can't believe Finn hasn't told anyone about this yet."
Clarke has never agreed with anyone more.
It takes Lexa all of three weeks to take over the school and Clarke has never seen anything like it.
She commands with a single wave of her hand, she has people moving out of lunch lines with a quirk of an eyebrow and she moves entire seating plans so that she can have the chair next to the window. Finn says that she's always been that way, that she's always been the quiet leader of the family, and Clarke can see how that would be. The onslaught of images of baby Lexa barreling around her kindergarten shock her a little but Finn is still talking and Clarke tells herself to pay attention, even as Lexa sashays past with her cheerleading team tripping over themselves to follow her. She smiles at Clarke and there's a quick greeting but Lexa has been a girl on a mission ever since she strode into Arkadia, dethroned Ontari Banks as the Cheer Captain and took the entire school into the palm of her hand.
Clarke honestly checked twice to see if she was on a movie set because she was sure shit like this only happened on television.
The school is a cacophony of football chants and music and pounding drums and it's nothing like it was before Lexa arrived. Clarke, flanked by Octavia and Raven, walks through the halls and watches as the boys hustle one another near the lockers and girls giggle over which player is the most attractive. Arkadia, while happy with their sports team, have never been much of a school that gets 'involved' like that. In Clarke's experience they've done nothing more than play the games they need to play and walk away if they need to, but with the injection of Lexa and her warrior cries and her determination to win everything seems to change that simple mindset.
The cheerleaders are suddenly banging on tables and riling up students--surely startling the lunch ladies who are sleepily stirring bland ingredients--and Jasper and Finn are pounding on their chests and roaring for victories like they never have before.
And kind of attractive that one tiny girl has caused all of this.
"It's not just football either you know," Octavia says as they reach Clarke's locker and she leans up against the ones next to her with a smirk on her lips. "Lexa came to our soccer practice last Wednesday to ask for our soccer schedule and the girls freaked out. The cheerleaders never come and cheer for us, it's crazy."
Clarke nods but Raven looks unconvinced, her lips in a soft scowl. "I don't understand why she had to change everything. Things were fine."
"Yeah but it's more fun now," Octavia shrug and pushes away from where she's once Clarke has shut her locker. She bumps her hip with her best friend. "Come on. When have you ever seen the school this excited about something?"
"The football team haven't even had their first game yet," Raven scoffs as Clarke checks her phone, sighing lightly as it indicates Finn still hasn't replied and she pockets it once more to tune back into Raven's rant. Both girls are used to their friend being grumpy for the sake of being grumpy but Clarke wonders what else is on Raven's mind, what has got her so irritated. "I just don't get it. We're not even a good team and we're nothing on Azgeda or even Mount Weather, you know?"
Clarke nudges her playfully and laughs at the scowl on her friends lips. "Where's your team spirit, Reyes? You love a good party. Lexa is practically giving this school a huge party every single day. It's fun."
If Raven agrees she doesn't let on and Clarke finds herself talking about Kyle Wick, the guy Raven invited three weeks ago.
Clarke knows that she's lucky and she knows that she's privileged. Her mother is a surgeon and her father, before he died, had worked as a renowned geological engineer which had afforded the Griffin's to live in the higher, more reputable, area of Arkadia.
And sometimes, knowing that, turns her into a spoiled brat -- a stage that she's currently in the middle of as she storms around her back yard, annoyed at her list of chores and sulking that she's been asked to tidy up the pool area. It's rare she gets like this and she uses the fresh air to try and calm down; she's out of the house which means she's aware from her mother and Marcus and that's enough for her. This little anger issue has probably stemmed from there, from when Marcus had stepped in and told Clarke that she needs to do more around the house. Like he has a say. Clarke kicks out a little as he huffs out a breath and ignores the plastic cup she'd left on the floor a few nights ago, her attention turning the environment around her.
Marcus mentioned earlier that someone had moved into the house next to them but Clarke didn't pay attention, her own fault really, and her brows furrow at the sight in front of her. She knows that body and she knows that familiar hair.
While they only speak a little during school Clarke can't deny that the two of them have become fast friends in their brief interactions; Lexa is friendly to her, polite, and Clarke finds herself more and more drawn to the mysterious brunette who seems to take pride in taking over the reigns of an entire school. She smiles across at Clarke as she walks over from where she had been stretching her calf muscles in her yard and begins the short walk over and completely unaware of Clarke's excitement of her being there.
"If you tell me that you've only just realized that we're neighbors, Griffin, I'm going to be hurt and heartbroken," and she says it so casually that Clarke has to repeat, just once more, that this is Lexa. This is Finn's cousin Lexa. "But you're not going to say that, right?"
Clarke smirks once and gives her a little shrug. "I'm not going to say it but that doesn't mean it isn't true," she replies over Lexa's laughter and she wonders why it sounds so much better here, between the two of them, in the spaces between their gardens, than it ever has in the hallways of Arkadia High. "I thought you lived with your sister?"
"So you didn't notice the huge moving van when I moved in but you did manage to grace me with your listening skills, huh?" Lexa teases softly and she leans against the fence separating the boundaries of their houses. It only takes Clarke a minute to mimic her actions just to Lexa's right. "It's my parents place," she shrugs, pointing behind her nonchalantly and Clarke bites back her questions of where they are. "Luna bought a diner in town and sunk her money into that and since mom and dad are proud of her for 'having a vision' they let her live here. Only catch was she had to look after me when I transferred to Arkadia, but we have a pretty sweet deal here."
If Lexa's home is anything like hers then yeah, the sisters definitely have a 'sweet deal.' Several bedrooms, two bathrooms, a yard that boasts a pool. "Where were you before you came here then? Finn hasn't mentioned you much."
"He wouldn't," the girl laughs and it's the way she raises her eyebrow that tells Clarke to not push that conversation too much. "I went to Polis."
"Isn't that the boarding school near the city? Why are you here? I've heard that going there pretty much guarantees you a place at any college you want," she answers and tilts her head, watching as Lexa turns her entire focus on her. Clarke blushes as she realises her mistake of bombarding the poor girl with question after question and she hopes that just this once the ground could open up and swallow her.
Lexa doesn't seem to notice her turmoil though and simply nods once, chews at her lower lip. "I didn't like it," she replies evasively and it only makes Clarke more curious but she's sure that Lexa isn't going to open that can of worms in her backyard on a Tuesday night to a relative stranger. "I missed my sister and my friends. Boarding school is lonelier than people say. It didn't take much convincing of my parents and now here I am."
"Yes," Clarke smiles deep enough for her tongue to press between her teeth and she knocks on the fence once just to have something to do with her hands. "Here you are."
"Hey, so --"
"Lexa, come on. If you want to fit in a work out before dinner then we need to go now."
The brunette is cut off at the sound of her name and both girls turn to see an older woman peering out of the doorway, wild curls framing her pretty face and Clarke only just manages bites back a comment about how unfair their gene pool is and clear favoritism by the Gods. Lexa holds up her hand to indicate she won't be a minute and then her sister--Luna, right?--smiles across the yard at Clarke, kind of stunning her for a moment.
Finn. Lexa. Luna. What the hell did these people drink?
"I'll see you at school. Don't forget where I live," Lexa parts from Clarke and is already walking back to her sister when Clarke realizes she's still waving goodbye like an idiot.
"She's so hot."
There's only a slight pause before, "Clarke, I can't. She's really hot."
"She's going to know you're watching her."
"She's working out in the middle of the quad. She wants people to watch."
Clarke finally sighs, looks up from her book, and shakes her head at how blatantly Octavia is roaming her eyes over Lexa as she lazily stretches next to her table of friends. It's nothing really, Clarke has seen the girl drop to the floor in the yard next to hers and punch out 100 press ups like it's the only thing she's good at. She's seen her as she comes home in leggings and a drenched sports bra after literally hours of running. These stretches, that do nothing but glorify her thighs and stomach, this is nothing.
"She's not working out, Blake, she's stretching. Quit being a perv and finish your juice," she scolds as sternly as she can and she smiles when Octavia spins slowly to sit with her back to Lexa before clearly rethinking it and standing up. "What are you --"
"Move," Octavia orders, pushing Clarke out of the way and taking her place so that her line of sight is more visually pleasing. "Better."
Clarke grumbles for a short while--her view was fine before, thank you very much--but settles in her place across from Octavia; who has taken to sipping her juice and unashamedly staring at the cheerleaders behind Clarke. She's aware that Lincoln is there in his own cheerleading uniform and she's also aware of the junior year hook-up that her friend shared with him but it's not Lincoln that her friend is looking at and it only makes Clarke's eyes narrow further. "So what's happening with you and Lincoln? Last I heard he rocked your world and now the two of you are on separate sides of school and he's teaching Lexa how to stretch correctly."
For a second it seems like Octavia completely freezes up and Clarke stops, unsure if she's gone too far, but then she pulls a face and scoffs in such a quick movement that Clarke has to blink and catch up. "Lexa's gay, I'm not worried about that," she says with a dismissive wave and she picks up her apple in the same motion, lifting it and biting into it as though to occupy herself. "His mom is still totally out for my blood and we're graduating this year so it'd be stupid to start something now just to go long distance in less than a year."
"Wait," Clarke stops, completely focusing on the wrong part of the conversation. She hopes Octavia doesn't call her out on it but she can't help but ask, "Lexa is gay?"
"Uh yeah," her friend replies with an annoyed look, letting Clarke know exactly what she thought about where her focus had gone, and she chews the fruit slowly. "She's not exactly shy about it."
Almost as if to prove a point Octavia gestures to the cheerleaders and Clarke turns subtly, looking over her shoulder, and she watches as Lexa smirks at a passing girl. The girls finger fingers against Lexa's bicep, rolling down to the hollow of her elbow, and she only moves when Lexa sends her a soft smile and a tilt of her head.
"Right," Octavia drawls and her lips spread in a knowing smile. "You think she's hot too, right?"
The clouds are dark as they begin to roll in over Arkadia, the town seemingly only big enough for the one ominous black cloud in the sky, and Clarke sighs as she checks her phone again. Finn had messaged her half an hour ago to say that he was running a little late in taking her home because the drama teacher was intent on keeping them behind a little longer. She was proud of him for his work in the club but she's cold and her car is still in the garage--("It's just one part, Clarke, I swear. I just need to get the buyer down a couple more bucks because he's laughing if he thinks I'm paying that for a new part. I'm Raven Reyes, I can build one myself for less.")--and, really, she just wants to go home. Her art folder is too heavy and gym class has been a bitch to her shoulders.
Where was he?
A car rolls to a stop in front of her and she recognizes it as the white BMW that parks outside of Lexa's. The window opens and Clarke looks in, peering past the stranger in the passenger seat, and at Lexa who looks on in utter amusement. "Do you need a ride home or are you content just practicing your hitchhiking pose?" The girl in the seat next to Lexa rolls her eyes a little, a laugh escaping that doesn't sound particularly friendly, and for the first time in a while Clarke feels self-conscious. It's not that she's exactly a social outcast but the cheerleaders are still cheerleaders and there is a popularity hierarchy, whether she likes it or not, and the two girls in the car in front of her are at the top.
"No, Finn is picking me up," she replies and the girl looks at Lexa quickly, the two of them having a conversation that is apparently made up of sharp jawlines and hard cheekbones. "He's just late."
"Uh, Finn has gone home," Lexa says slowly and she glances behind her like any of them can see into the parking lot. There's a sharp stab of embarrassment that she didn't think to go and look for his car but she trusted him to turn up when he said he would and Clarke flushes. The other girls try and valiantly ignore the situation in front of them, Lexa even pushes to offer and explanation. "Maybe his phone died. You should get in."
She pauses and bites at her lip, frowning softly, before the other girl practically growls. "Just get in, Blondie. I'm already late."
Getting into the car is only slightly awkward but there's a thrill, a knowledge that she's in the most popular girls' BMW, and she sits back happily.
She'll deal with Finn later.
The stranger in the front leaves after only five more minutes in the car and Clarke wonders if it was even worth Lexa driving her home, wonders if there was another plan that the two girls had had but Clarke had interrupted it. She's content to stay in the back but when the dark blonde leaves without so much as a goodbye to Clarke, Lexa turns in her seat and waits for her to get into the front. There's a second of hesitation before Lexa rolls her eyes, gesturing to the passenger seat with a bored wave and a, "Clarke, sit in the front. I'm your friend not an Uber."
She's about to comment on how much people like to tell her where to sit before she decides that's a conversation that Lexa doesn't need to know about, especially since she's the reason that Octavia made her move in the first place and she concedes to simply moving into the front of the car with only minimal blushing on her part. She leaves her art folder in the back considering it's bigger than her torso and she sends Lexa another smile in thanks as she turns the car, driving them both back to their respective houses and she's simply happy to listen to the radio fill the car with whatever latest hit is occupying minds at the moment. Octavia and Raven would happily tell her the song, she's sure of it, but she's more interested in the company than the music.
"So who was that? A friend?" She asks as casually as she can and Lexa nods, a smirk pulling at her lips as she seems to consider what she wants to reply with.
"Anya. And I suppose you could say that yes," she says softly and Clarke is as surprised as she always is with how elegant Lexa sounds when she speaks. Her and Finn have nothing in common, besides fantastic hair and bone structure, and it's kind of a shock to the system to talk to someone who is so quiet for once. Surrounding herself with people like Raven and Bellamy and Murphy was never going to lead to a silent life but at least it wasn't boring. "Our parents have known each other from before we were born. She's my best friend."
There's nothing to say to that really but Clarke decides right there that there's more to learn about Lexa and she wants to know it all.
"She seems nice."
Lexa genuinely laughs at her and Clarke changes her mind; she doesn't care if Lexa never tells her anything as long as she's laughs like that all the time.
"She's not but she's loyal and she's brave," Lexa humors her but she'd be a liar if she denied how fond her voice had gone, if she denied how her fingers start to relax around the steering wheel while she drives and speaks about her friend. "That was her playing nice."
Clarke laughs, "Like I said: nice."
She doesn't get to talk to Finn until the following night and she doesn't really try to seek him out.
Friday's usually consist of them having separate schedules anyway and she tries to not be mad at the fact that she doesn't get a 'good morning' message like she would have had back before they had started dating and for the first few months. The thing with Finn was he was either all in or all out; there was no middle ground for him, there never had been and Clarke had long since figured that was his personality.
It's less cute now that he's her personality to deal with.
And it was less cute thinking that if he wasn't all in this relationship then what was he.
When he climbs into her bed that night, chilled from his walk over and smelling like fresh air and weed, she tenses up and sighs when it seems like he doesn't notice. Or doesn't take it seriously. His arm wraps around her waist and it doesn't feel possessive so she takes that as encouragement, reminds herself that he's still her friend and holds all of her courage in her chest so that she can speak. Had she told Octavia or Raven about him leaving her at school she knows what they would say, she knows how they'd react, and she tries to visualize that as she moves from under his hold to sit up to look at him. His eyes are closed, features relaxed, and he looks so young when he's like this that Clarke is distracted for a few long seconds. Finn, when he's soft like this, is the Finn she fell for but she knows that that's not the point and she closes her eyes, waiting for a second before opening her mouth.
She might be an idiot when it comes to love sometimes, and she'll be the first to admit it, but she's no walkover.
She's nobody's second best.
"Where were you yesterday? You promised me you'd pick me up when you finished your rehearsal."
Finn freezes a little but she waits patiently, waits as he rolls onto his back and turns his head towards her before blinking his eyes open slowly. It's not just the smell that convinces Clarke that he's been smoking; his eyes are dark and wide and she sighs a little. He licks his lips and Clarke can hear her mom berating her, giving her advice: "If a man has to think about his answer then it isn't an honest from the heart reply."
"Murphy was in some trouble, I was helping him out. I guess we got distracted or something."
"Murphy? As in John Murphy?" Clarke asks and she knows she sounds like the stereotypical 'nagging' girlfriend but there are just some people in this world she isn't willing to trust and John Murphy is one of them. "Since when do you talk to him?"
Finn shrugs, his shoulder hitting Clarke's hip. "He's been helping to build the set for our show this year. He's pretty good."
"What kind of trouble was he in?"
"I promised him that I wouldn't say anything," he replies and Clarke can feel something dark tugging in her stomach, something she hasn't really felt with Finn before, because he promised her too and he broke that easily enough. She looks at him like he's a stranger and he shrinks under her cold eyes. "I'm sorry, okay? My phone died. I just figured when I didn't turn up that you'd ask Octavia or someone to drive you home."
She scoffs lightly as she draws her arms across her chest and she can hear Finn groan like he's growing irritated by the conversation. "You just left me there Finn. That's not okay."
"I said I was sorry and I meant it, Clarke. Come on, okay? I'm tired. Can we please just go to sleep now and I'll make it up to you in the morning, I swear."
Finn's hand moves across her stomach and Clarke clenches her jaw, annoyed that he's not listening and worried that she's making an issue out of nothing. Finn. Beautiful, reliable, wonderful Finn has always been nothing but a supportive friend and boyfriend for months and she knows that. But with colleges looming and the stress of their senior year she can't deny that she's felt a shift. It had started over the summer and it was stretching into the autumn and, really, she was starting to get worried. He was lovely and beautiful and kind...but maybe that wasn't enough to survive their last school year together.
"I think you should go home tonight. I'm upset with you."
When he sits up Finn looks annoyed and completely put out but he huffs in defeat and respects her words. There's a part of Clarke that wishes that he wouldn't, wishes that he'd argue with her, push her, test her and actually show a little passion towards her like he used to before they became official. Raven had commented once that boys always lost interest when the game was over and Clarke had always dismissed that but, as she watches Finn put his jeans back on, she wonders if that's true.
"Hey let's do something tomorrow," he says lowly and Clarke looks up so that she can meet his eyes. "I really do want to make it up to you Clarke, I swear."
And she nods because she wants to believe that more than anything.
She stops being mad at Finn after a week because she's tired of tensing her jaw and he actually picks her up after school each day. He puts in effort again and tangles his fingers with hers against her thigh while they at at their table during lunch. Octavia still watches Lexa 'stretch' and it only serves to make Finn roll his eyes continuously at the attention his cousin gets.
"Why don't you just go and talk to her?" Raven asks as she scrapes at the bottom of her pudding cup. The plastic scratches and the sound makes Clarke cringe despite the cute face that Raven is pulling in her determination. Finn lets out a noise but the girls ignore him, instead choosing to watch as Lexa laughs with Echo and Lincoln and Clarke can practically taste Octavia's sigh.
She wonders if her friends notice how often her eyes drift over to Lexa too or if Octavia's obvious crush takes the attention away from her.
"I'm not going to sleep with her," Octavia growls and her three friends turn to look at her in confusion because what? "Whatever. She's hot and I like looking at her but that doesn't mean I want to stick my fingers inside of her. I'd much rather ride Lincoln's dick than her face. Clarke is the token bisexual here, not me."
The silence at Octavia's blunt words lasts an entire three seconds before Raven is howling with laughter.
"I love you guys," she laughs harder, gaining the attention of other tables and Clarke flushes when Lexa looks across curiously and meets her gaze. Even as Finn squeezes her fingers in reassurance (of what she doesn't know) she can't look away from the brunette and she lingers on green eyes for a few more seconds before Raven gets her attention again. "The Token Bisexual, that's your new contact name. Thanks 'Tavia."
Clarke glares at Murphy as he slouches in his seat during their shared calculus class a few days later and she wonders where this heat of annoyance has suddenly come from. It's true that she doesn't like change but she has always adapted well to it and John Murphy becoming friends with her boyfriend shouldn't be as big of an issue as what she feels she is making it. Her thoughts are distracted as the door opens and Clarke looks up lazily to see Lexa swan through the door, the red and black of her cheerleading uniform catching more than one persons eye. She walks over to the teacher and hands him a note, her sneaker covered feet crossing at the ankle as she waits patiently for his reply.
"Students, Miss Woods will be joining us for the rest of the year," he finally says, letting them all know the reason for the distraction, and it seems to go wrong because the class begin talking in loud whispers and he frowns at that. "Miss Woods, please find an available seat and start work on the questions on the board. You can share a book with your partner if you don't have one with you."
Clarke can't deny the thrill she feels like Lexa zeroes in on her, her lithe body dropping into the empty chair next to her and Clarke watches her set herself up quietly as she ignores all of the eyes on her from the room. It's a surreal experience watching it happen, watching a popular girl exist in her natural habitat of the public eye, but soon enough people turn back to their work and Lexa glances towards her with a quick smile. "You were the only one not trying to measure my skirt with your eyes," she teases and Clarke bites her lip with a little smile because she might be a feminist but those skirts really are flattering. "Although by that look on your face I might have to rethink that. Is that what you were doing with your not-so-innocent eyes, Griffin?"
"No," she shakes her head as a reply and it's the only delay she has before Lexa is leaning a little closer, sending her a wickedly deep smirk.
"Do you want to measure it?"
"That's the worst line I've ever heard, shut up," Clarke laughs and Lexa just rolls her eyes before shifting closer to look at the open book on the desk and Clarke turns to her own book to start working on her answers. "Question One..."
She likes to think that the reason she struggles through ten questions is because calculus is hard and Murphy is annoying her.
She pretends that it has nothing to do with the fact Lexa smells like peppermint and peaches.
Clarke's waiting for Octavia to finish up her soccer practice when someone sits next to her and she looks up from her drawing with narrowed eyes, only slightly irritated that someone has interrupted her. When she turns she's surprised(but not really) to see Lexa looking softer than she's ever seen her. She's clearly had a shower after her practice because the usual dark eyeliner, similar to something like war paint, is down to a bare minimum and her hair is thrown up into a bun like it was put up to stay out of the spray of water.
"Do you need a ride home?" is the first thing to leave Lexa's lips and it takes Clarke longer than is strictly necessary to reply. She stares for a moment because this girl, the one next to her who looks cool and collected and a little bored, has gone out of her way to not only ask her but to find her--despite having no reason to think she'd stay behind at school--to see if she wants a ride home. It's kind of disconcerting because they've only known each other less than three months and Lexa has her own friends and sometimes they wave at each other through their facing bedroom windows; but that's where it ends. At least, that's where Clarke thought it ended. "Or, well, I guess you're waiting for Octavia..."
Lexa looks shy and the blonde shakes her head to put the girl out of her misery. "I was but when Octavia starts she really gets into it. Their coach has tried to end the game twice but Octavia is pretty stubborn and she just keeps playing around him." They both turn to see Coach Roan looking exasperated, his attention on the watch on his wrist and Clarke smiles fondly because Octavia is nothing short of hilarious. "Plus I think she might be waiting for Lincoln, I don't know. I'm kind of stealing rides from people until my car is fixed so I can't be too picky."
"Ah, I wondered what has had him so secretive today. If she has him smiling like that then please tell her to keep it up. It's his smile that wins us points at Nationals," Lexa grins and she looks happy for Lincoln which is sweet. It only makes Clarke smile harder because, well, Octavia is her friend and it's kind of nice that Lexa cares in her own way. That she doesn't have anything against Octavia pursuing her friend. "What about Raven? Couldn't she give you a lift?"
Clarke pauses, suddenly shy. "She's not allowed to drive," she explains and Lexa looks at her confused. "There was an accident freshman year. Raven's leg is, well it's --"
Lexa seems to get the hint that it's a subject they shouldn't be talking about when Raven isn't there and she interrupt as casually as she can without seeming rude. "So I'll be your Uber again. Let Octavia know you're with me and we'll go, okay?" There isn't much time for Clarke to say yes or no because the girl is up and off of the bleachers before she can really think about it. Her heart flutters as she thinks about how Lexa is so willing to help her, how she made it clear that she cares about Clarke's friends too, and she jumps up with a little burst of adrenaline to follow the cheerleader out of the gates.
There are a few eyes following Lexa as she walks and Clarke can't help but notice that, once again, Octavia is one of those staring. She glares at her friend, silently telling her to quit it, and she ignores how Octavia shoots her a thumbs up and a wink that would be ridiculous if it had come from anyone else.
Octavia, seemingly getting the unspoken message, gestures for Clarke to catch up with the cheerleader. For the first time Clarke actually does what her friend suggests and she speeds up to meet the girl that has comes to swiftly into her life.
They're only a few minutes into the drive home when Clarke notices how comfortable it feels being around the other girl. She doesn't know if it's because of the lack of Anya and her pursed lips or if it's because Lexa is easy to be around but she feels good, comfortable.
She feels safe.
Lexa is tapping along to the beat of a drum that's playing quietly from her speakers and she's glad for the change; Finn and Octavia like to have a concert when they drive, the bass vibrating through Clarke's feet and shaking the car. It's fun, yes, but sometimes she likes the quiet of a drive home.
"Did you manage to talk to my idiot cousin after he left you at school?"
The suddenness of the question makes Clarke's eyebrows shoot up but she hums an assent in reply anyway and nods a little. She doesn't know why but the thought that Lexa remembered that Finn had left her, that she'd been thinking about it, sends a flutter through her stomach and she wraps her arms around herself as though to preserve the feeling. "Yeah, yeah I did," she replies, clearing her throat and Lexa just hums as she brings the car to a slow halt at the lights. "His phone died like you said."
Lexa gives you a look that you're not sure you understand but she smiles tightly anyway. "Good to know," she says and that's that.
It doesn't occur until Clarke is in bed, the time signalling that it's creeping over midnight, that she hasn't spoken to Finn all day.
(It doesn't occur until much later that Finn dropped down her recent contacts, quietly replaced with Lexa. Lexa. Lexa.)
In all of the time that Clarke has known Raven, and she's known her for all of her High School career, she has never seen the girl look so small and guilty. In all of their years together Raven has done nothing but own her sexuality, breathe independence, stand tall on her broken bones and Clarke has been in nothing but awe of her since.
But when she approaches Clarke later that month, a few days before Thanksgiving break, she looks grim and low and Clarke physically pauses in her sketching as she stands next to her. Lincoln, her art partner, looks up in curiosity too but clearly senses the tension and he packs his things up slowly as Raven sits down and Octavia stands behind her. He sets a large hand on her shoulder and she smiles but her eyes remain on her friends, confused. Worried. She's vaguely aware that she's in the middle of the quad and that she's surrounded by other people but she's so focused on her friends that she can practically hear the catch of breath in Raven's throat as she starts to speak.
"What's going on?"
Octavia pales slightly but she nudges Raven and forces her into action. "Clarke before I say anything you have to know that I only figured it out last night," she says and Clarke frowns deeper as she watches Raven pull out her phone and open up an app with a few shaky presses of her thumb. "I've been talking to this guy on here, he calls himself Spacewalker. I didn't think anything of it, you know? We were flirty and stuff. A few dirty messages."
"Right," Clarke smiles, if only to ease the tension, but Raven still looks sick and at this point all three girls know where this is going. Clarke is smart. They all know it and they all know what's happening here but somebody needs to say it. "So, what? Did you not like the messages?"
"He sent me this last night," she murmurs and turns the phone enough that she can show Clarke the picture. It's clearly of a male, the angle in the mirror enough to show everything and Clarke cringes before she looks away. She knows that room. She knows that body. And she clenches her eyes shut. "I swear Clarke, we didn't send pictures until last night and before that we just used shitty aliases. I didn't know it was Finn, not until he took that and sent it."
Clarke almost gags because it was taken in her room. She had thought that he'd taken that picture for her, for only her. And he was sending it to other girls; sending pictures of himself in his girlfriends room to other girls on apps that Clarke didn't need to download because she was in a relationship already. She feels the embarrassment grow into hate, feels it grow into anger and then press behind her eyes. Octavia presses a hand to the back of her head and Raven swiftly takes the phone away, moving her hand closer to Clarke and waiting for her friend to make the first move.
"I promise, Clarke. If I'd have known it was Finn --"
Raven looks at her and Clarke raises her eyebrows letting the girl know that she's serious and she wants an answer. Raven sighs. "Since the beginning of summer."
"Shit," Octavia mutters and Raven nods, a scared look on her face, but Clarke knows better. Yes it hurts, of course it does, but Raven says that didn't know and she believes her friend when she says it. It's Finn who messed up, not Raven. And as much as TV shows two girls fighting it out, as often as books portray the mistress to be the bad guy, as many times as she hears lyrics of 'that girl' messing with 'that guy' she knows where to go.
"Let's go speak to Finn," Clarke says and both of her friends look at her in surprise. "Happy Thanksgiving, huh?"
They find Finn beneath the bleachers with John Murphy and a guy they only know as Atom. They're all smoking, of course, but Finn has the forethought to try and hide it when Clarke approaches. There's something that changes in his face when he sees the expression on all three girls faces and it's like he knows but he's not willing to concede just yet. Clarke eyes the other two but Murphy doesn't look like he's going to move and Atom is sending Octavia what she's sure he thinks is a flirty smile but she's too angry for this, she hasn't got the patience to wait for privacy.
"You've been cheating on me." Finn chokes on nothing, the joint dropping from his fingers, and he looks scared and sad and childlike for a second. It's enough to make Clarke laugh and she shakes her head because he isn't trying to deny it; there's just no fight. "I can't believe you. You told me you wanted me, only me, and instead you're messaging girls as soon as my back is turned."
"I do want you," he insists and Raven practically growls in annoyance. "I did."
It's Octavia who grounds her and she links her fingers with her friend, standing tall. "What does that even mean, Finn? You don't want me now?"
"I just...This is our last year here, you know? And Murphy said that we're going to break up eventually and that started messing with my mind. I should have spoken to you, I know baby, but..."
"Murphy?!" The boy in question raises his head from where he's cupping his hands around a cigarette as he attempts to light it. He waves at his audience and Clarke wants to smear his smirk across his face. "You're taking advice from a guy who has bought a one-way ticket to nowhere in life?"
"Clarke, come on," Finn thinks he's being placating and she wants to scream at him because she doesn't know if he's being so casual about this because he's high or because he really doesn't know what he's done wrong. Raven is just an inch in front of her and she's glad for it, because her presence and Octavia's hand are the only two things holding her back. Both of her friends know how to handle situations like this this better than her. "It's not like it's cheating, is it? I never met any of those girls. We were just talking."
Raven is the one to roll her eyes first and she pulls her phone out, wiggling it a little. "Hey Spacewalker, you might want to re-read those messages. Pretty sure you told me over and over you that wanted to meet me."
"Wait," Finn stalls and Clarke feels her world crumble as he stutters out his next line. "Which one are you on there?"
She doesn't know what's worse; that Finn genuinely believes it wasn't cheating or that he's been speaking to enough girls to confuse himself during his confession.
When she leaves she doesn't look back.
She wants to be flattered. She's been single for two weeks (one if she's going off of Facebook) and she already has four invites to parties and three to the movies and four 'study dates' that she's pretty sure won't involve analyzing Poe anytime soon. In truth she knows she should be flattered but she's not because Finn was kind of on his way to being her high school love and he threw it away like she was nothing to him. There have been a few messages since, a few beautiful words that he'd penned down for her, but as talented as Finn was at constructing poetry he was just as good at creating fictional worlds where he was the hero, where he was single and whichever girl he was talking to at the time was his whole world.
It's during these thoughts, as she sits on her window ledge, that her eyes meet Lexa's across the yard in her own room and she waves at the girl. She's pretty sure they're good friends now but they only spoke during calculus and when Lexa drives her home, but the breakup hasn't really been mentioned. Family means a lot to Lexa, Clarke is sure of that, and she hopes that Finn won't continue to have a lasting effect on her life now that he's out of it. Clarke watches as Lexa moves to her window in tiny cotton shorts and a vest shirt that she's pretty sure should have been thrown away years ago with how tight it looks, but she gestures for Clarke to open her window and suddenly Clarke finds herself not really caring about Lexa's attire now that she can hear her voice.
"Hey," Lexa calls across and it's late enough that the roads are quiet but Clarke is still glad that her mom is working, that Marcus is asleep at the other side of the house and that Lexa lives with just her sister. Because she wants this conversation, this connection. She needs it. "I heard about you and Finn. Are you okay?" Lexa leans on her own window ledge as she speaks, bringing her feet up and hugging her knees to her chest as she sits sideways and looks over at her friend. Clarke can't help but watch her, watch how elegant she is, watch how easy she moves around and smiles. She's hypnotizing and she thinks, briefly, that maybe she uses those powers to lead the school.
Clarke's heard all about the titles that the cheerleading team are winning, about how they're smashing through competitions with Lexa at the front, and she feels strangely proud.
"I'm getting there," she answers truthfully and Lexa leans her head back, patiently waiting for Clarke to continue. "I keep thinking that I probably should have noticed, you know? He's been lying to me for most of our relationship, maybe even before, and I didn't see it at all. Or maybe I just didn't want to see it, I don't know. All I know is that it hurts and I'm probably the worlds biggest idiot for thinking..." She trails off.
Lexa frowns, leans a little more out of the window in a way that makes Clarke's heart flutter. "For thinking what? That you deserved to be treated right? Come on, you deserve that and so much more."
"You don't know me."
"Maybe not, but I know good people when I see them and you're one of the better ones," Lexa replies and Clarke blushes under the attention. "Finn has always been a little impulsive. He's always jumping from one fun thing to the next."
Clarke laughs in annoyance but she doesn't know if it's at Lexa's words or at her own idiocy. "What? Do you think I'm just some fun thing?"
"I don't know. I've not had fun with you yet," she deadpans and Clarke can't help but smile that's growing. "Would you let me have fun with you?"
Lexa holds her stare and Clarke bites at her lower lip, utterly confused by the flirting, and she huffs out a breath that fogs up as soon as it meets the cool air surrounding them. "I don't know," she rallies back and Lexa's smile is slow and thick and wonderful. "I try to not get involved with the driver."
"Fuck off," the other girl grins and it lights something up in Clarke that she thought didn't exist anymore; not since Finn started his pursuit of her. "What if I stopped driving you home, Clarke, what about then? If I resign right here and now then you'd think about it, right? It's not like you even need me, you have your own car."
And, for some reason, despite her heavy heart and her pained thoughts and her tight chest...Clarke smiles, smirks, gives a look that says more than her words could ever. "We'll see."
When they say goodnight over forty minutes later Clarke is sure Lexa will fall asleep with a smile that matches hers.
There's an increase of Lexa in her life as the year begins anew and Clarke has to wonder if it's because Finn isn't around anymore but she doesn't want to hope and she definitely doesn't want to think too deeply about that or what it means. Her breakup with Finn is still fresh enough that she doesn't want to pursue anything particularly serious with anyone, especially if it's going to be an awkward rebound, but the little flirtations and the fact that Lexa waits for her if she comments that she'll be staying late after school are completely welcomed. Finn, for his part, has kept his distance from the friendship group but Clarke sees him with Murphy and Jasper and Monty more than she sees him with anyone else and she can't help but worry; he's still Finn, and she still cares about him, even if he hurt her.
Octavia is busy scribbling down some notes that Raven had taken for her in their biology class when Lexa approaches their table. She greets them with a gentle smile and a hand on her hip which seems to knock the wind out of Octavia and the girl makes a noise that makes Raven jump a little. Clarke really has to wonder how a girl like Lexa can make a girl like Octavia blush like that. Octavia who is known for punching a girl in the face for attempting a very legal tackle during an unimportant game of soccer.
"Hey Clarke," she starts before her eyes flick across to her best friend and she glances between Clarke and Raven. "Is she okay?"
Raven nods, pouting in sympathy for her friend, before she pats her arm condescendingly. "She thinks you're very pretty," she smirks and it trails off into a gasp as Octavia elbows her in the side. "What? You do! Are you really going to deny it now that she's stood right in front of you?"
"I -- What? No," Octavia blanches and looks beseechingly at Clarke like she has the answers to Raven's sudden teasing. "I do. I mean, I don't think -- Fuck."
"She'd love to do that too," Raven continues, directing her words to a bemused Lexa.
Clarke can't do anything more than simply stare at her friends. The most popular girl in their school is stood right in front of them and they're both still talking and embarrassing her like they're being paid to do it. What had she done to deserve that? "I'm sorry about those two. There's uh...Well, I have no excuse."
"Are you saying she's wrong, Clarke?" Lexa asks. Her voice is low and husky and Clarke literally shivers. "Do you not think I'm pretty?" Raven and Octavia watch, completely entranced, as Lexa reaches out and traces her fingertips along the length of Clarke's arm, their collective eyes taking in the goosebumps that appear on her pale skin.
"No I do," she says, suddenly sounding like Octavia, and completely unaware of her own volume levels as she squeaks out, "I just...What?"
Lexa looks down coyly like she's used to it and simply shakes her head at the scene. "I only came over to ask if you needed a ride home tonight. I have a double practice scheduled but I'm happy to take you home first. They can handle twenty minutes without me and Anya will coach them in my place."
Raven laughs loudly at the scene in front of her; how Lexa continues to ruin her friends, how Clarke looks completely entranced, how Octavia is still trying to explain the nuances of a straight girl crushing on another girl.
The whole thing is amazing and Raven kind of wishes Clarke had met Lexa before Finn.
"I can think of several things Clarke wants to ride when it comes to you, Woods," Raven answers and she watches as both Clarke and Lexa glance away in mortification. It's Lexa who looks up first but her eyes settle on Clarke for a few seconds, slowly turning away to bring her attention around to Raven once more and nobody misses the gleam in Raven's eyes as she figures something out. "Don't worry, Boss. We'll get her home safe. Right, 'Tavia?"
"--And I mean I have other girls who I think are pretty, okay? Like Amber Heard and Sarah Hyland. It's not like I'm some creep who pervs on unsuspecting girls or something--"
The next night Clarke watches as Lexa talks to a girl in her room; she's all dark skin and lean legs and she has the most beautiful hair Clarke has ever seen. She looks like the models that her art teacher tells them to picture and try to emulate, she looks like she knows she belongs in a house like that with a girl like Lexa.
Even after Lexa moves to the window to shut the blinds, with an expression Clarke can't place on her features as they look at one another over the space, Clarke can't stop staring.
"Her name was Costia," she hears and the blonde looks up to see Lexa taking her place next to her. There's a sound of her taking out her pencils and Clarke watches as the pristine uniform she always wears lays perfectly over her figure. She nods at her friend's words like they mean anything to her but Lexa isn't looking at her. Instead she's staring down at the desk like it has the words she wants to say written on it and Clarke takes note of her straight back, of the tight lines on her face, and she knows this is important to the girl sitting next to her. "She was mine and now she's not."
Lexa has always had a way with words but those particular ones leave Clarke a little breathless, a little confused. "What do you mean?"
"We broke up before I moved here. She moved away to go to college and we said that we'd keep it casual until I moved there.She thought that we could try and make it work long distance," Lexa swallows a little and furrows her brow. She might have not known Lexa for quite as long as her other friends but she's picked up the signs and she knows when Lexa wants to be comforted and when she wants to be left alone; this time it's the latter. "We were kidding ourselves. Love is nothing but weakness. I'm pretty sure it ended that first month but I still held on like an idiot."
Clarke shakes her head at that and turns a little towards her friend. "You don't mean that."
"No," Lexa admits through a soft laugh and she turns her eyes to Clarke, bright and wide and easy to love. "I wish I did though. Don't get me wrong I wasn't expecting forever but...Well."
"I'm sorry you lost her."
Lexa just nods and it doesn't go unnoticed when they move their chairs closer together.
Lexa attends more cheerleading competitions than ever and the school goes absolutely crazy over it. Their football team sank fairly quickly after their first major game but that was okay because Lexa reminded them that they were all together, that all the teams were important, and Octavia had walked out to a match to deafening screams and Arkadia's colors blurring out everything else. It was incredible, the atmosphere was intoxicating, and Clarke knew that Lexa was made for this. She was made to lead people, to be their biggest supporters, and that feeling began to spread through the school like a tidal wave each time a game was played or the cheerleaders were asked to perform.
She knows people scoff at cheerleading, that they don't count it as a sport, but watching Lincoln as he tosses Lexa through the air like she's nothing and witnessing her land on strong legs and help lift other girls is a feat in itself. They're incredible and, as they bring their winning routine to a close, the one that earned them a glistening trophy in the halls of Arkadia, Clarke has to clench her thighs together tightly. The team had won the competition earlier in the week but Principal Jaha had asked for them to show it off and, for those witnessing it for the first time, it was like magic.
Lexa made that happen, Clarke thinks as the students erupt in applause, she made it happen and they love her for it.
Pride swells in Clarke and she crosses her legs tighter.
"Lincoln is so strong," Octavia swoons next to her and Raven says something in agreement but all Clarke can see is Lexa, Lexa, Lexa. God. "Did you see him, Clarke? Who can balance a girls weight on one hand, huh? My guy, that's who."
Raven continues cheering, completely caught up in the excitement and childish glee, but Clarke can't stop watching Lexa for even a second. She's breathing hard and she looks elated, like she knows she's won the hearts of the people around her, and when she catches Clarke's eyes they both know that she has. Lexa gives her a smile, a private smile, and Clarke's world tilts on its axis much like it had the first time they met.
Only this time Clarke welcomes the shift.
"It's not going to work."
"Open your mouth."
"Lexa, stop being ridiculous. It's never going to reach me."
"Open your mouth."
Clarke rolls her eyes perfectly but she does as she's asked, leaning on her hands a little as she leans out of her window and she closes one eye so that she can keep the other one on her friend. Lexa aims her shot like she's going for Olympic gold. It's all testing throws and her tongue in the corner of her mouth and she barely shouts across a 'ready!' before she's launching a cashew across the yard that separates them and Clarke watches at the small projectile hits the top of her window frame and drops down to the ground.
"How are you part of the sporting community?"
"Shut up. Open your mouth."
And because she wants to hear that laugh again, Clarke does.
Winter begins to fade into Spring and Clarke can't remember a time that Lexa wasn't a part of her life. She sees her at school, sees her in class, in the halls, on the way home in the car (even though hers has been long since fixed). They spend time together outside of school at parties and while sometimes they remain separate from one another, both choosing to spend time with their own social groups, but it's getting harder to deny how often their eyes meet.
Bellamy is back from Brown and there's a party at the Blake's to celebrate both his return to town and Octavia's latest soccer win. The house isn't quite as big as Clarke's and the gathering is large but she's enjoying herself and she likes the feeling of bodies pressing up against her after months of being single and watching Finn throw himself at anyone who moves. Between Lexa helping her feel better and a productive senior year, in which colleges were far less scarier than they had been a year ago, Clarke wants to let loose.
She wants to party.
And she wants to forget about Lexa on the other side of the room.
She wants to forget the girl in the leather pants and the heels and the low top, the girl who is leaning against a wall as girls talk to her and sway their hips and bring her drinks. It seems, to Clarke at least, that since Costia left her Lexa has started opening her doors again. She's living up the reputation that she had before and she isn't coyly pushing girls away anymore.
"You know Lexa has been staring at you all night, right?"
Octavia is twirling Clarke's hair between her fingers as she patiently waits for Lincoln to return back with their drinks; when he'd offered to go Octavia had beamed and dropped into Clarke's lap, happily catching up with her friend. Clarke doesn't miss how her lips are swollen and that she looks happier than she has in a while.
"Stop," Clarke shrugs, letting her needy friend paw at her hair. Her eyes glance around the room as she tries to find Raven and she relaxes a little when she sees her, her body pressed tightly against Kyle's and a bottle of water in her hand. It's enough to calm Clarke's worries and she turns her attention back to her friend who has taken to resting against her shoulder.
Her eyes catch Lexa's once more and she feels her stomach drop as dark eyes take in the image of Octavia leaning against her, her fingers in Clarke's hair, and she watches as Lexa turns away to talk to the shorter girl who has been attempting to get her attention again all night. "Come on, Clarke, it's obvious. She's been sending you eyes for the last few weeks. At school, at parties. Raven thinks it's because you've already had sex with each other and now she wants more but I told her you would have said something to us by now."
"Yeah, that's why she's letting that girl mount her in front of everyone," the blonde scoffs and Octavia breathes out a laugh against her collarbone, her hand leaving her hair to slap against her shoulder in amusement. "We haven't slept together. She has girls for that."
"Careful Clarke," Octavia giggles as she pushes closer to her friend. "You almost sound jealous."
Wednesday afternoon and the car drive home is almost silent minus the music and Lexa's quiet hum to the lyrics. Clarke is kicking at her bag that's in the well of the car as she tries to figure out what's wrong with the girl next to her and she desperately tries to ignore the knowledge that she knows exactly what it is that's shifted between them.
"So did you have a good time the other night?" Clarke asks finally. Someone needs to break the silence.
"Yeah, it was nice," the girl replies and Clarke can practically feel the cringe, she can hear it in her friends voice. "I needed to blow off a little steam."
Yeah, it looked like it.
Lexa goes quiet again for a few seconds before she inhales deeply and grips at the steering wheel once more. "So what's going on with you and Octavia? I didn't think you two were that close."
"Because Lincoln mentioned something about him and Octavia getting serious so, you know, I'm just checking in for a friend."
Clarke laughs and she looks at Lexa long enough to witness the deep set of her brow, the hard frown as Clarke laughs at her, and she almost feels bad if the whole image wasn't so damn cute. She shakes her head and reaches across, hesitating for only a second before she places her hand on Lexa's shoulder and she leaves it there long enough for Lexa to relax. "For a friend, huh?"
"Yes," and Clarke notes how the girl is more attractive when she blushes.
"Okay," she appeases and tilts her head harder against the car seat. "Tell Lincoln that there is nothing like that between me and Octavia. She's just a clingy drunk; if it wasn't me it would have been Raven or Lincoln or you."
Lexa hums and when the car comes to a halt in Lexa's driveway she turns to look at Clarke, her eyes soft in the way Clarke has become accustomed to and she sighs in relief that she's getting through to her. "You just looked very close. He was worried, I think."
"No he wasn't," Clarke teases and she feels Lexa tense as she pushes the conversation in a direction that focuses more on the truth than this lie Lexa had tried to build.
"No. He wasn't," Lexa agrees and it makes a flutter set off in both of them.
As two more weeks pass Lexa starts to make Clarke want to do cliche things like write C.G 4 L.W on her condensed window pane in the morning and hold up signs from her bedroom with secret notes á la Taylor Swift circa 2008. She isn't sure when things began to change but she's pretty sure it started when Lexa arrived at that party all those months ago. It's not a scary thought that Lexa might like her back, because Clarke is pretty sure the lidded eyes and the lingering looks give Lexa away, it's scary because college is looming and Lexa has already been hurt by long distance.
She doesn't want to be another disappointment for the girl.
"What are you going to study?" Lexa asks one evening on one of the rare times that they are both in her bedroom. It's not that they don't spend time together outside of school, they do, but they each have extra-curricular activities that take their time and they both kind of enjoy the muted romance that comes with talking across the yard as the sky twinkles and the breeze hushes them to sleep.
"Marketing and Public Relations," Clarke shrugs, finishing off the small picture she's been sketching. "I want to go into advertising eventually." Lexa nods, barely even blinking at her choice and Clarke relaxes a little. Most people usually ask 'why?' but Lexa doesn't and it calms her heart a little. "What about you?"
That, Clarke thinks, makes sense. Lexa likes being in charge, she enjoys making people listen to her, and she smiles at her friend before she looks down to the floor and blinks slowly. "Where are you going to study that?"
"Ton DC University," comes the immediate reply and Clarke looks up in shock, the familiar university name echoing in her mind and it's like Lexa can't hold back the smug smile. "I've heard it's good there."
"Yeah," Clarke breathes out. "Yeah. Me too."
They should have known they couldn't hold out much longer.
Clarke has barely said goodbye to Lexa at her front door, the conversation of colleges still fresh in her mind, when she feels a hand wrap around her bicep when she's halfway down the walkway. She turns to see Lexa looking at her hand in complete confusion and then up at Clarke like she isn't sure why she's stood holding onto the girl at nine o'clock at night. "I just," she starts and she looks worried, almost like she isn't sure what to say, and Clarke turns slowly so that she can take a step closer. Only that move seems to fluster Lexa a little more and the girl takes a step back shaken. "You didn't really answer me before, that's all. About college. You just...I was just wondering, you know, where you were going."
"I'm going to Ton DC too," she whispers and Lexa looks relieved for a second and neither of them mention that she is still holding onto Clarke. "That's not all that you wanted to say to me, is it?"
Lexa's relief turns back into worry and then fades into fear and Clarke watches it happen, waits patiently.
"No," she says and her eyes light up like she's ready. "Finn really didn't deserve you, Clarke."
"And what do you think I deserve?"
Lexa doesn't hesistate when she says, "More."
Clarke barely has time to do anything besides look at Lexa's eyes flicking between her mouth and her eyes before the girl is leaning closer, tilting her head to the right just enough so she can press her body closer and close her mouth over Clarke's lower lip. She's trembling, Clarke can feel that, but her lips are confident and she kisses with commanding little sucks and a pressure that Clarke feels in her fingertips.
The hand around her bicep doesn't move but she can feel fingers at the back of her neck, directing her movements, and Clarke is powerless to do anything but enjoy it and let her hands slide over the firm lines of Lexa's waist. Lexa parts only to brush her nose against Clarke's to change angles, her eyes fluttering open to meet Clarke's lidded ones to confirm this is really happening, before she's pushing in again and kissing her in ways that makes Clarke want to scream and cry and hold on tighter.
There's a little puff of air against her cheek as Lexa fights with breath but Clarke isn't ready to separate yet and instead she pulls back to pant against Lexa's open mouth, each of her exhales being met with an inhale and she's never felt so connected to a person as she does right there.
"You can't kiss a girl like that and expect her to go home alone," Clarke whimpers and she feels the fingers on the back of her neck, the ones tangled in the fine hair there, tighten almost painfully. "That's just not fair."
Lexa laughs, kisses her again and Clarke revels in the groan she receives when she pushes her body tighter against Lexa's. "If I'd have known it would have been like this then I'd have kissed you at that party when we first met."
"You should have," Clarke reminds her, her tongue flicking at the girls top lip. "Why didn't you?"
"You were Finn's. I belonged to someone else."
Clarke smirks because the girl is still trembling and there's a part of her that hopes she doesn't stop. "We don't belong to anyone now," she tells her and Lexa gasps when cool hands dip beneath her shirt. "Are you going to take me back to your room or do you leave all the girls you kiss disappointed?"
Lexa's growl rings in her ears for the rest of the night.
AND THE END
"We should tell him together," Lexa tries one evening, a few hundred kisses later, and Clarke looks at her like she's lost her damn mind. Octavia and Raven had figured it out almost instantly when the girls had been unable to stop looking at one another across the quad, and how they sat closer in class, and by extension Lincoln had found out from his girlfriend. Their friends had promised to stay quiet about the blossoming relationship but there was still one person, an important person, who needed to know and both Lexa and Clarke could feel it in their stomachs. To Lexa this was Clarke; her cousins ex, the only cousin she had close to her age.
And sure she hasn't stolen Clarke away from him or anything but she knows how rumors work-- she knows she could end up being the invisible evil to Finn's broken hero in this story.
Clarke sighs at the words as they process and she drops her head back to Lexa's flat stomach, her hand smoothing over the material covering her as she thinks, and she buries her face to capture the scent of her girl (not girlfriend, not official, but hers anyway). "I know but that doesn't mean I want to," she says and turns her head just enough to press a kiss against the jut of Lexa's hipbone. She smiles as Lexa runs her hand over her shoulder, her fingers finding purchase in her hair, and she purrs under the girls attention. "What if he hates us?"
Lexa clucks in disagreement, "Finn isn't going to hate us, Clarke. He might be a little confused at a push but he's going to be more annoyed if we don't tell him and he hears from someone else."
"Who is he going to hear from?"
"Well," Lexa replies, elongating the last few letters and drawing them out as she encourages Clarke away from her stomach and more on top of her. Clarke's front presses against Lexa's entire left side and she hooks her foot over the blondes calf, fitting them together. "I think he's going to find out eventually. I can only stay away from you for so long at school. Not touching you is starting to give me withdrawals, especially since we don't have to really hide."
The blush that rises on Clarke's cheeks is attractive enough for Lexa to lean in and kiss her, her pouty lips capturing the other girls in an embrace that has both of them gasping in the back of their throats. They move together softly and Clarke soon finds herself pushing Lexa back, maneuvering herself so that she can roll on top of the strong girl beneath her and she feels Lexa's legs fall open enough to bracket her hips between her thighs. "Stop making me want you so much," Clarke breathes out eventually, her words lost to Lexa's tongue as the girl licks into her mouth and brings both of them into another deep kiss. One taste, Clarke thinks, that's all it took. One kiss, one shudder, and she was gone.
"We shouldn't stop," Lexa decides when she pulls away, her hands already inching up the hem of Clarke's blue shirt and her hips rolling enticingly up. It's not hard to give into this girl, Clarke notices, but she has to...they have to...Fuck, what were they even talking about? "Stay the night?"
"I'm pretty sure I've become a permanent fixture here anyway," she smiles back and Lexa drags her hands to Clarke's ass in a move that reminds Clarke of exactly why she hasn't been home in three days.
Before Clarke knows it there are exams and finals and proms and dances to keep her mind occupied. She knows that she's going to her senior prom with Lexa Woods, she knows that she's going to kiss her there in front of everyone and then go to a hotel neither of them need to go to. She knows all of that and because of that knowledge she decides, at seven in the morning, that that particular Saturday is the best day to tell her ex boyfriend that she is now dating his very female cousin.
"You're asking Lexa to prom, right?" Finn breaks the silence that's been stretching between them for a few minutes and Clarke looks up in surprise. They're sat on a bench in the park and she really should have figured that he would have known, he was pretty observant, but she still finds her heart racing at the outburst. "It's okay. After how I acted I don't deserve any explanation, Clarke. I don't even need one."
He sounds sad but not because he thinks he has to be, or because he wants sympathy, and Clarke can see flashes of her old Finn beneath the layers of fear and the smell of weed. "How did you know?"
"I can see the way you look at each other," he laughs and at Clarke's confused look he elaborates. "After we broke up, I mean. I could see the way she'd find you everyday just to drive you home; like she doesn't know you have your own car and like you didn't leave it behind on purpose."
She blushes a little at that because, yeah okay, that had been obvious.
Inhaling deeply Clarke shifts a little, turning to look at the boy next to her and she feels a hope inside of her that he'll find someone like she's found Lexa (or like Lexa found her) and she finds she means it. Beneath it all he's still a good guy, he's just made some silly mistakes.
"Luna told me that you've been staying over at hers a lot too," Finn smirks and Clarke thinks that right then, right there, she wants to die. "Lexa isn't subtle, you know?"
"It happened after we broke up," Clarke explains and Finn waves her off because he believes her immediately.
"We had something me and you, Griffin, but it wasn't big and incredible," he says and she wants to be offended but she knows he doesn't mean it like that. "We had a spark but you and Lexa are an explosion. I don't have to be around you all the time to see it; everyone at school has seen the way you are with each other and it's okay."
She wants to say something but, instead, she changes it to, "I hope you find something big and incredible too, Finn Collins."
He smiles at her and she worries about him but when she leaves she doesn't look back.
After prom is over and after the little celebrations the students host, it's time to face summer and the inevitable move to colleges. Raven announces she's studying something that Clarke doesn't think is real at M.I.T and Octavia tells everyone that she'll be following Lincoln around the world for a year, escaping the usual route of colleges and careers. Clarke only stresses about it for a little while--"It's too soon, you barely know each other!"--before she realizes that Bellamy is probably freaking out more than anyone and she's happy to let Lexa take her into her arms to calm her down.
They all spend their last summer together out by the pool in Clarke's yard, Lexa in the smallest bikini known to mankind, and basking in the glow. Between Skype and letters and emails and texting they know they'll stay in contact, even if it's hard, but they all vow that they're going to try.
Even Lexa who barely knows anybody that sits around them.
"Are you going to cheerlead in college, Lexa?" Octavia asks from where she's reclined between Lincoln's legs and she thinks she knows her answer by the heated look Clarke sends to her girlfriend, but she waits anyway.
"Yeah," the girl replies, oblivious to the way Clarke is looking at her, and she smiles at Lincoln and Octavia winningly. "It'll suck without Muscles over there but I'm sure I can find someone just as tall and dark and as handsome as you who can throw me around a room, right?"
Before Clarke can answer or overthink or worry, Raven shouts, "I thought you only let busty blondes throw you around a room, Woods?"
They get their answer from the mortified blush on Lexa's face and suddenly Clarke feels like her life couldn't get any better.
"I'm so glad you came to Arkadia," Clarke murmurs on their first night at college. They've been roomed separately; Clarke in B Building and Lexa in D. Clarke's roommate is some timid girl called Maya but, it seems, Lexa has won at something more than just cheerleading because when Clarke had helped her move into her room Anya was already reclined on her own bed. The girl had rolled her eyes at the pair but proceeded to tell them both about a party, mocking them when they turned her down to spend time together instead. Clarke twists on Lexa's new bed in her empty room. "I thought I had everything figured out until you came here and now look at me -- now everything really is perfect."
Lexa hums from where she's laid, her fingertips grazing against Clarke's shoulder and she kisses her once before she laughs. "You're being gross."
"Shut up," Clarke huffs and she tries to wriggle out of Lexa's grasp. She doesn't try hard though and all it takes is Lexa's fingers to flex against her shoulder to get her to stop, all Lexa has to do is smile and she's gone. "Stop making me fall for you. It's annoying."
Lexa grins wide, "I don't make promises I can't keep, Griffin."
"I'll hold you to it."