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“What’s our timing for Finn’s party tonight?” Octavia asks while fixing her hair in the mirror.

Raven’s busy typing on her phone, so she only shrugs.

Octavia looks at Clarke expectant like they always look at her to decide things. It’s strange really. She is the one who constantly has to decide what they are doing and how, and yet they always seem to disagree with what she eventually decides.

“We have to be late of course,” Clarke tells them while slightly pouting her lips. She has the bad habit of biting on her lip, which results in them being cracked of course. Her mother hates is, so maybe that’s why she continues doing it. Although, it doesn’t make her lips prettier exactly.

“I heard he’s bringing back the ice luge,” Raven adds to the conversation. She tucks away her phone and joins the other two girls at the mirror in their school’s bathroom. Just like Octavia, she runs a hand through her hair. Clarke can only look at her jealousy. Everyone seems to love her blonde hair, but she doesn’t have as thick hair as Octavia and Raven.

“Oh please, do not throw up again,” Octavia laughs, while shaking her head slightly.

Clarke joins the laughter and Raven just looks extremely bothered.

“Can you guys forget that already, it was a one time mistake.”

Octavia and Clarke exchange a look, making clear to each other that they are never forgetting the incident.

Raven had been busy gathering courage to ask a guy out. She found that courage in the alcohol from the ice luge, but that ended badly. She ended up throwing up all over the guy. It’s safe to say they never went on a date after that.

Clarke’s eyes fall on a girl who is trying to hide herself as much as possible. It’s clearly a freshman who secretly looks up to the three girls with whom she’s sharing the bathroom. It seems arrogant, but those type of girls remind Clarke of groupies. Besides their obsessiveness, they tend to drive her crazy.

“Can I help you?” Clarke asks, her voice more arrogant than she would like. She deems it necessary in this situation.

Before the girl can react, the school bell rings. The three girls start to collect their stuff, when the door opens.

“Oh look, it’s Kendall and Kylie,” a familiar sarcastic voice fills the room.

Clarke shares an annoyed look with Octavia in the mirror. Of course, Lexa would interrupt their peaceful break.

Octavia and Raven don’t know that Clarke used to be friends with Lexa. They don’t really need to know. Lexa and Clarke were a few years old when they met in the playground close to their primary school. They had a short friendship, which ended quickly after Lexa started hanging out with those burnouts. Her new social group were the last people Clarke wanted to be associated with. Even at that age, she was more than aware of the consequences of her interactions with people. Her mother made sure of that.

Clarke and her friends don’t even respond to Lexa and just pass her while giving her a dirty look. Lexa doesn’t seem impress, although she never really does. Just when Clarke is about to leave the bathroom, she quickly looks back.

“Not the friendliest bunch, are they?” the girl says to Lexa, who reacts by blowing smoke in the girl’s face.

A disappointed sigh combined with a small amused chuckle escapes her mouth. It’s no surprise that Lexa would be vaping in the bathroom.

“What are you laughing about?” Raven asks curiously - always afraid to miss out on something.

Clarke just shakes her head to let her know it’s not important. “Nothing.”

Raven doesn’t seem convinced, but she has no time to press because Octavia beats her to it.

“I need new clothes for the party though. Can we go to the mall after school?”

Her two friends once again look at her for confirmation. “Sure,” Clarke lets them know.

“Sweet,” Raven responds, before waving at Clarke and Octavia and turning a corner to get to her class.

Octavia and Clarke continue walking to their shared class. In the hallway, Clarke notices how Octavia’s eyes linger on a big guy leaning against the lockers. His head is shaved and his dark eyes are intense. Clarke has to admit she has never seen the guy. She wants to ask Octavia what that’s about, but they are interrupted by Finn who throws his arm around Clarke.

“Hey babe,” he whispers into Clarke’s ear.

She knows it appears sweet, but Clarke can feel her toes curl just because Finn is near her. She liked him. She really did, but the last month things started to change. He started to annoy her and there were even days in which she tried to avoid her own boyfriend. Finn is clueless to all of that when he presses his lips to her.

“Excited about the party tonight?” he asks her. He clearly feels like he is the king of high school by throwing a highly anticipated party.

Clarke just thinks it’s sad that his dad continues to allow these parties because he wants to make up for divorcing his mother and bringing home another young woman every week. She never tells Finn that - of course.

“Yeah, I can’t wait!” Clarke says, hopefully the faked excitement in her voice comes across as sincerely.

“Good. I just got a text that the ice luge arrived,” Finn tells her. He is clearly proud of arranging that.

“That’s so cool!” Clarke hates how shallow she sounds. It seems a bit sad to her that the highlight of some high school party is an ice luge, but that’s just her life.

“I just hope Raven doesn’t throw up again,” Finn thinks aloud. “We had to change the carpet after that, because they weren’t able to remove the stain.”

Clarke snickers. “I will keep an eye on her,” she promises him.

“I know you will,” Finn whispers husky to her, as if it’s something attractive to say. He goes in for a kiss again, but Clarke just bends back enough so his lips only slightly touch hers.

“I see you tonight. Wear something pretty for me,” he says with a wink. Clarke sighs when she watches him leave.

 


 

 

Clarke strolls around the mall. She’s separated from Octavia and Raven. They wanted to go to another store and Clarke told them she quickly needed to run an errand for her mother and went the other way. They know her well enough to know that she would never have to buy something for her mother, but they didn’t care enough to question her. Clarke didn’t mind either. It gives her the opportunity to do what she came here to do.

She enters one of the bigger stores they have at the mall. It’s one of the first things she learnt. Never steal from small stores. It’s easier to notice someone putting something in their pocket when there are only a few customers than when the store is full of customers.

She walks to the department with glasses. With fake interest, she looks at the different montures. She has no idea why she wants to steal a pair of sunglasses. It’s been a while, she guesses.

It takes a few minutes before an employee joins her and asks her if she can help her. Clarke follows the saleswoman to the counter.

“Can I see that one?” she asks, pointing to one of the ugliest sunglasses she has ever seen.

The saleslady unlocks the case and carefully puts the sunglasses on the counter. It gives Clarke time to look at the saleslady. She’s the same age as her mother, she guesses. And while her mother knows how to hide her misery with a fake smile, the saleswoman can clearly not. The corners of her mouth are permanently down and a look of constant impatience has taken over her eyes.

“Wait, those too,” Clarke says while pointing randomly at some other sunglasses. “And those.”

Clarke continues this until there are six pairs of sunglasses placed on the counter. While randomly picking, she made sure that she actually chose a pair that she wanted.

“I like your blouse, by the way,” Clarke smiles sweetly at the saleswoman. It’s clear she yearns for compliments. “Where did you buy it?”

The woman looks surprised at her, but it’s obvious she loves the compliment. A careful smile appears on her face but quickly disappears again when another employee softly touches her shoulder.

“It’s Bran on the phone,” she whispers, but Clarke can hear it. She has to suppress the devilish smile that is about to take over her face. This is her opportunity.

“Tell him I’m with a customer,” the saleswoman snares at her colleague.

Clarke gasps indignantly. “No, no, no. Go ahead.”

She watches the saleswoman leave and can’t help but feel sorry for her. Bran is probably the worst guy ever, who just drinks beer and watches football. A bit like Finn actually. It strikes Clarke that she may even be more similar to the saleswoman than she would like. Now is not the time to think about that, however. Once the saleslady has turned her back to her, Clarke grabs the sunglasses she picked out and slides it easily in her pocket.

It’s important to not look around. It just makes you look guilty. Another big sign that you’re doing something you’re not supposed to do is walking away too quickly. No normal customer who actually wants to buy something walks away while the saleslady is busy with something else. They wait for her to come back, so that’s exactly what Clarke does.

When the other woman has returned, the corners of her mouth even lower than before, Clarke gives her the sweetest smile possible. “I always have a hard time choosing. I’ll come back later. Thank you! Bye!”

She waves and then wills herself not to walk away too fast. Walking out of the store with a trinket in her pocket is probably the most exciting part of shoplifting. It’s a bit like gambling. Are you going to get caught or not? Clarke casually puts her hands in her pockets, but she’s actually busy with removing the sensor and throwing it away. She walks past the electronic gates without any problems. Most of the time, those gates are fake anyway.

She turns around the corner and finally lets a smile take over. She did it again and she starts to wonder if she’s getting better or if everyone in stores just seems to get dumber.

Octavia and Raven agreed to meet her for fro-yo afterwards, so Clarke quickens her pace. They will only get suspicious when she’s late. She doesn’t get far, however.

A big hand lands on her shoulder like the sword of Damocles. With an even sweeter smile, Clarke turns around. She’s face to face with a big security guard. He looks at her just as sweetly. His smile, however, is crueller.

“You have to come with me,” he says. His voice is a lot higher than Clarke would have expected and if she wasn’t in such a fucked up situation, she would actually laugh at him.

“Is everything okay?” Clarke feigns innocence.

Of course, he doesn’t fall for it.

“I don’t think so.”

Clarke’s heart is beating faster than it ever did, but a weird feeling of calmness falls over it. Isn’t this what she was waiting for. To finally get caught? It’s a bit like drugs. You use, just waiting to overdose. Right?

Maybe that’s the whole point of living anyway. You keep going, waiting for everything to fall apart and once it does, it’s just your new life. Is that what her new life will be? Juvie, maybe? Do minors go to jail for shoplifting? Despite shoplifting regularly, she doesn’t even know the consequences. She didn’t dare to look it up, afraid they will look at her search history. Who 'they' are, she didn’t exactly know. It’s not like the security guard is allowed to look at her internet history.

While her minds keep spinning, they reach the store. The saleswoman is looking at her gleefully. It’s probably the highlight of her day to have caught a shoplifter. Clarke has no time to feel sorry for her though. She has much bigger problems, like the hand of the security guard disappearing in her pocket and returning with the sunglasses in his hands. The guard shares a look of triumph with the saleswoman and Clarke feels her heart stop beating for a few seconds. This is really happening.

“Not so innocent now, are we?” the security guard chuckles as he pushes her towards the office in the back of the store.

It is as if she can see her life falling apart before her. They are going to call her mother without question. Will she get a criminal record? Time in juvie? Everyone in school will find out. Her social life is as good as over. Yet, she doesn’t feel remorseful. People like to steal things once in a while. Everyone does, right? She just has the misfortune of being caught.

Everything will be alright, she tries to tell herself. She can only watch how the guard calls her mother. The sunglasses lay between them on the table as a reminder of what caused all this mess. A pair of fucking sunglasses, really? They live in Portland. It’s not like the sun ever really shines around here. She should have stolen an umbrella. That would have been useful at least.

Her mind drifts away. How would one steal an umbrella? It’s not like you can put it in your pocket. Hide it under her coat maybe? If she wore one of those longer rain coats, it would be possible to hide the umbrella and it wouldn’t even look weird.

The guard sits across Clarke and just looks at her like she’s an interesting piece of art at a museum, although she doubts he has ever been to one. Security guards don’t strike her as being interested in art.

Her mother gets there much too quickly. Clarke actually enjoyed the serenity of the grey office with the impending doom behind the door.

“Clarke!” Her mother’s voice fills the room and it’s the first time Clarke actually realises what mess she’s in. Leave it to her mother to make her miserable after being caught shoplifting.

Clarke turns around and sees that her mother isn’t alone. An attractive man in a suit is following her mother in the room. He stands beside her mother confidently. Unlike her mother, he looks at her gratefully.

Grateful? The situation got even weirder. Who is this man? And why would he look pleased to be there?

“Sir, I’m sure there’s no need to make a big mess out of something so small,” the man interrupts the silence of confusion.

“Small?” the guard scoffs. “She stole a pair of sunglasses that cost more than 300 dollars.”

300 dollar? She didn’t even know that. It would have been one of her most expensive trinkets. It’s a real shame she got caught.

Her mother and the mysterious man, who turns out to be a lawyer, start to discuss with the guard. Clarke just zones out. They don’t ask her anything. She’s treated like a child. Maybe she still is, despite her wanting not to be.

“Do you agree?”

Clarke shakes her head confused. “What?”

Her mother sighs. “Do you agree to go to the Shoplifters Anonymous meetings for the next two months?”

“Do I have a choice?” Clarke asks.

“No.”

“Fine, I guess.” She knows she shouldn’t be playing the part of an ungrateful child. She didn’t know how, but the man got her out of a lot of trouble.

Shoplifters Anonymous it is.

 


 

 

Clarke was allowed to go to Finn's party.

It is a good reminder of how messed up her relationship with her mom is. As long as Clarke keeps up appearances, it doesn't really matter what she does.

Besides, her mother had plans with Marcus, the lawyer. Although Clarke would never admit it, Marcus was actually pretty decent. He drove Clarke and her mom home and stayed to drink some tea. They even had a good time, which seems ironic after she had been caught shoplifting.

Apparently, that's her life. Almost getting arrested and then going to a party and drinking tea as if nothing happened.

Clarke is seated on a sofa with Finn's arm around her. The party is a good few hours underway and Clarke is starting to feel the effect of all the alcohol.

She started the party with downing a few shots because Octavia and Raven kept pressing on about where she went earlier that day. Clarke couldn't really tell them, so she was glad they came to the conclusion that she left to have sex with Finn. It took a few shots before they agreed to that conclusion, hence the drunken feeling that started to creep up on her.

While others might get extremely honest or emotional when they are drunk, Clarke gets melancholic and even philosophical. If she ever wants to start a career as a philanthropist, she just needs to get drunk, which is what is happening right now.

She looks around her group friends and starts to wonder why they are even friends. Raven is interested in mechanical stuff, which is the last thing Octavia and Clarke interest. And while Octavia gets excited about sports, Raven and Clarke herself have never seen a gym from the inside. And Clarke? She likes to paint, but nobody needs to know that.

The artistic people at her school are all a bit alternative. Clarke can't deny that she never laughed at a remark some of her friends made about the art group. So, are they really friends, or are they just a group of teenagers that pretend to be friends because they are all pretty and somewhat extraverted.

"What are you thinking about?" Finn asks her with a sly smile.

She gets his sexual innuendo, but she pretends like she has no clue. "Just drunk thoughts," she reassures him, which is the wrong thing to say.

His somewhat attractive smile turns into a smirk. "I like to know more about those thoughts."

Clarke suddenly gets very hot and not in a good way. Finn's presence, the way his arm always seems to be around her, his warm breath against her cheek. It's all too much and too suffocating.

"I need some fresh air," Clarke erupts and she jumps up and almost runs outside.

Of course, Finn follows her.

"What is it, babe? Did you get too hot?" He winks at her.

"Can you please leave me alone," Clarke whispers. She can't deal with him right now. She's had a shitty day and she doesn't even want to be at this party right now.

"Why are you always such a drama queen?" Finn asks annoyed. It's one of his sudden mood swings.

“I am not,” Clarke retorts, starting to get really annoyed.

“Look, why do you even bother coming if you’re going to be such a bitch?” Finn snarls.

Clarke feels herself getting scared, but she pushes it away otherwise it would feel like she’s letting Finn win.

“You’re being offensive.”

“What?” He follows when she tries to walk away. “Come on, let’s go back inside.”

Clark can feel the desperation taking over. “Finn, I just want to go,” she exclaims. She hates how weak and pathetic she sounds, but that’s the least of her concern right now.

Finn is going full in the attack right now. “What’s going on? You used to be more fun,” he says, knowing that it will hurt her.

Clarke isn’t going to let him know that it indeed did. “You used to be less of a dick,” she answers back.

Before she knows it, Finn grabs her arm and squeezes. It hurts, it really hurts. Clarke tries to wriggle away, but he’s too strong.

“You’re hurting me,” Clarke mumbles weakly.

He holds her arm for a while. Squeezing even more and looks at her with eyes full of rage. Clarke starts to wonder if this is the point at which he will hit her for the first time, but he lets go of her arm and scoffs before walking away.

Clarke takes a shaking breath and recollects herself, so she can go.

While fighting against her tears, she tries to leave the party as quietly as possible. It’s hard not to be recognized by someone, but she actually manages to walk towards her car without someone trying to talk to her. Well, almost. She can see her car from the porch and she quickens her pace, not really noticing the people around her anymore. It happens in a second and before she can even see the big guy, she feels liquid spreading all over her.

“Shit!” she gasps. She looks down and sees the red liquid all over her white top, which she stole a few weeks ago.

Tonight is the first night she’s wearing it and tonight is the night that she can throw it away because red wodka just ruins your clothes. She looks up to see whoever is the culprit when she meets friendly but scared big brown eyes.

It’s the guy Octavia was ogling earlier in school.

“Perfect,” she mumbles, before pushing past him. Now, she really wants to go home.

She just sits down at the side of the road and grabs her phone to call herself an Uber. She sees she has a text from her mom. As if her night couldn’t get any worse.

 

Mom: Tomorrow: first SA meeting, 11:30. Location attached.

 

Clarke really doesn’t want to be reminded of that, but now she can add that to the pile of shit of tonight. The last thing she wants is to sit around with a bunch of losers and talk about stealing stuff. It’s probably the only thing interesting about their lives, but she has a lot more going on. Besides, what if someone recognizes her? She’s doomed.

“Fucking Shoplifters Anonymous,” she mutters.

Chapter Text

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

 

Silence.

 

“Good morning, everyone. I’m Shawn,” the woman in front of the group introduces her.

 

Everyone is focused on the leader of the group, which gives Clarke the opportunity to sneak in unnoticed - hopefully. She’s late, but she can’t really blame herself. Waking up with a hangover it just the worse and getting out of bed for a Shoplifting Anonymous meeting isn’t exactly a priority when she’s hungover.

 

A collective mumble of ‘Hi, Shawn’ follows after her introduction.

 

“... and I’m a kleptomaniac,” Shawn adds after that.

 

Of course, she is. Why else would she be here? Clarke rolls her eyes and takes a seat at the back of the group. She can hear that Shawn continues to talk, but she doesn’t really register what she’s saying.

 

She’s more intrigued by everyone around her. There are around 10 other people of all ages. She sees the typical soccer mom, an old man who could be her grandfather, some students and finally, she sees Lexa.

 

Lexa Woods is at Shoplifters Anonymous.

 

Things get even stranger when the door opens again. Clarke turns around to see who is even later than her and her mouth falls open when she sees it’s the big guy with the shaved head. They exchange a look before the guy turns around to focus and whoever is speaking now.

 

Clarke is surprised when a piece of crumpled paper falls in her lap. She opens the note and is even more confused when she reads it. It just has one word on it.

DIE.

 

She turns her head to look at Lexa, who just glares back at her. She is slouching in her chair and has her feet popped up at the chair in front of her. A notebook rests on her lap, which is most likely the source of the note.

 

Lexa breaks the eye contact and returns to scribbling in her notebook. Clarke continues to look at her, but her attention is brought back to the meeting when Shawn addresses her.

 

“You in the back. Do you like to share something with us as a newcomer?”

 

Clarke can feel a blush starting to spread around her cheeks. “I… don’t really feel like sharing if that’s okay.”

 

“That’s okay,” Shawn responds. “But your shares are a valuable part of our collective journey.”

 

What?  Clarke has to do her best not to start laughing. Collective journey? It isn’t like they are here for some higher calling. Everyone is here because they like to steal things.

 

The meeting goes on and on until Shawn finally announces it is time for a break. Clarke practically jumps up from her seat. She couldn’t really eat anything that morning, due to her hangover but right now food is the only thing she can think about.

 

She rushes to the snacks table. It’s full of snacks and other fast food. Donuts. She really wants a doughnut now. Without any shame, she grabs two doughnuts and starts stuffing it in her mouth. She groans when she swallows the first bite.

 

“I take it you like doughnuts?”

 

Clarke’s eyes widen. The guy from her school is standing right in front of her. As if it isn’t embarrassing enough that he sees her at this stupid meeting, now he has seen her eating doughnuts as if her life depends on it.

 

She can better own up to it.

 

“I just love doughnuts.”

 

Lincoln flashes her a small smile. “I used to work at Dunkin’ Donuts. It took me a while to start appreciating them again.”

 

She wants to respond, but she sees how Lincoln’s eyes flicker up and widen slightly. Clarke can only guess who is approaching them.

 

“You like long walks on the beach? I like long walks on the beach,” Lexa says sarcastic, clearly mocking them.

The guy sighs. “Lexa, why are you always giving me shit?”

 

“With a face like that? Someone’s got to,” Lexa answers immediately.

 

Clarke is almost impressed with how fast she can come up with a cynical answer. But more importantly, how do they know each other. As far as Clarke knows, he is new to their school.

 

“You guys know each other?” she asks confused, not bothering to sound disinterested like she planned to.

 

“I know her aunt,” the guy explains, while Lexa just starts grabbing food and putting it in a napkin.

 

He offers Clarke a hand. “I’m Lincoln, by the way.”

 

Clarke shakes his hand. “Clarke.”

 

“And don’t mind Lexa, she just can’t help herself,” he adds while giving Lexa a look. Clarke can’t decide whether it is teasing or scowling.

 

“Shall we reconvene?” Shawn shouts, ending their conversation before it can get any weirder.

 

“Just so we’re clear, this never happened,” Clarke instructs them and then turns around to reclaim her seat.

 


 

It seems to take hours before the meeting finally ends. Without saying a word, Clarke hurries out of the community centre. She doesn’t want to be dragged in another conversation with Lexa. It stays a mystery to her how someone can be so infuriating.

 

Next to the community centre is a clothing store, which is probably not the best idea once you know what kind of meetings are being held in the centre. Like the cliché she is, Clarke starts to walk towards the store.

 

She felt so down this week. If only she could feel the rush of stealing something. It goes against everything she just listened to at the meeting, but that someone makes it even better. Isn’t that the whole point of being a teenager? Exactly doing the thing you’re not supposed to do.

 

When she’s in college, she will start being responsible but right now she doesn’t want to. The clothes that are on display are actually really pretty. Clarke can already spot a few things she wants.

 

What she doesn’t want is for Lexa to see her, yet the girl is leaning against her bike, which she parked near the store.

 

“Shocker,” she says, once she knows Clarke has noticed her.

 

“Oh, hi. I was just…” Clarke tries to deny what she was about to do, but even she knows it’s fruitless.

 

“Sure,” Lexa responds with a smirk on her face. She runs up the small stairs that lead to the store and holds the door open for Clarke.

 

If you ask her why, she couldn’t even give you a clear answer but for some reason, Clarke follows Lexa and enters the store.

 

They walk around the store together without saying a word. “So,” Lexa eventually drawls out. “Why did you start stealing?”

 

The question takes Clarke by surprise, even though it’s literally the only thing that she and Lexa have in common. It’s not out of the ordinary that Lexa would question her about that. Looking for common ground, right?

 

“I just…” Clarke begins, without finishing that sentence. Why did she actually start?

 

Lexa slowly nods, seeming to accept that answer. She opens her mouth to say something else, but she quickly closes it again when she spots Lincoln.

 

“Oh hey!” Lexa shouts, trying to attract some attention from the employees in the store. “You better keep an eye on that one!”

 

With a slight bounce in her step, Lexa walks over to Lincoln. “Guess old habits die hard.”

 

It leaves standing Clarke alone in a shop where she planned to steal something. However, shoplifting doesn’t feel right at the moment. It is as if the mood is ruined. Not wanting to seem like a lonely idiot, she follows Lexa to join her and Lincoln.

 

“Now my question is, what are you doing at a woman’s store? Do you have more dirty little secrets, Linc?”

 

Her voice drips with amusement, but there is some sincere curiosity too. Clarke can only look at Lexa fascinated. There is something about her that just keeps her on her toes. Lexa is unpredictable.

 

“Why are you only giving me crap. She stole too!” Lincoln retorts, obviously done with Lexa.

 

Clarke wished that she had just left when Lexa turns around and the amusement in her eyes is even bigger than before. She found a new victim. A few seconds ago, she thought Lexa was unpredictable, but she actually is so predictable. Whoever she can antagonize is worth her time apparently.

 

“Look, I was only there because my lawyer convinced some guard that going there would be my salvation,” she tries to defend herself. Not only defend herself but place herself above them. That some judge took pity on them and their miserable life by sending them to Shoplifters Anonymous doesn’t mean that Clarke has the same sad life story.

 

“Salvation from what?” Lexa snickers. “Your unlimited allowance? Mommy’s Pinterest palace? The holistic family chef?”

 

Clarke can feel herself getting angry. Who does Lexa think she is.

 

“Was he mean to you?” Lexa adds whispering. She is clearly teasing Clarke, but yet there is no real amusement on her face anymore. There is just an empty, almost bored look in her eyes.

 

“I’m not doing this with you,” Clarke replies, taking pride in being the bigger person and not letting Lexa get a rise out of her.

 

“Yeah,” Lincoln supports her. “Stop this shit, Lexa.”

 

Lexa shrugs. “Sure. Talking is boring either way. Let’s have some fun, right. Let’s see who can get the best shit in the shortest amount of time,” she proposes.

 

There she is with the unproductiveness again. Clarke can’t help but wonder if Lexa hasn’t got anything better to do than spend her free Saturday with two strangers from her high school. Yet, it isn’t like Clarke has any exciting plans today. And maybe she wants to prove she’s the best at shoplifting. She can’t explain why. Perhaps her pride is hurt a bit by Lexa’s remarks. Or she wants to prove to herself that she still got it, despite getting caught last time.

 

“How do we account for taste?” she inquires, still acting like she’s not really considering it. She knows, however, that she already decided that she will accept Lexa’s challenge. It’s even more fun to make a game out of it than shoplifting just because you can.

 

“Highest price tag wins,” Lincoln says, joining their little game too.

 

“Fine,” Clarke agrees.

 

They decide where to meet in 30 minutes. It’s not much time, but it is enough to steal something nice. They scatter around the store. Clarke decides it’s too obvious if they all try to steal something from the same store, so she leaves and enters another store a few buildings further down the street. It’s a more expensive store, so even better.

 

While walking around the store - trying to decide on what to take, she wonders what she has gotten herself into. Why does she feel like proving herself to those two? Maybe those meetings could really be her salvation if she just stopped shoplifting.

 

Her thoughts stop when she sees a beautiful leather jacket. She’s sure she will win their stupid game with it, and she really wants that jacket. So, her old routine starts again. Sneaking the jacket to the fitting rooms, removing all the tags and sensors, stuffing the jacket in her bag and walking out of the store as if nothing happened.

 

She nails it. Of course, she does.

 

Without looking back, she walks to the spot they agreed to meet. She immediately spots Lexa leaning against a bench. She’s vaping again. Clarke ignores the thought that she looks really hot blowing out some smoke.

 

Clarke moves to stand next to her without saying anything. She actually has no idea what to say. Lexa remains a mystery. She’s curious what Lexa has stolen. What if Lexa actually beats her?

 

“Looks like Lincoln is a no-show,” Clarke mentions when some time has passed and Lincoln still hasn’t shown up.

 

“Probably got nabbed,” Lexa shrugs. “When will they ever learn?”

 

A small laugh escapes Clarke’s mouth. She looks at Lexa and shakes her head. Lexa just looks at her curiously.

 

“Sorry, it took longer than I thought,” Lincoln interrupts their little stare down. Clarke has to tear her eyes away from Lexa’s green ones. Were her eyes always so green?  

 

“Whatever. Let’s get this over with,” Clarke says in an attempt to regain her composure.

 

It turns out that Lincoln actually managed to steal some expensive necklace that costs a lot more than a leather jacket and some worthless Spanx that Lexa stole.

 

“Did you even try?” Clarke asks when Lexa showed them her trinket.

 

Lexa chuckles. “I’m sorry I’m no criminal mastermind.”

 

Lincoln lets Clarke keep the leather jacket, because what does he need with a women’s leather jacket. Yet, he wants to keep the necklace, saying he knows what to do with it.

 

“I would sell it,” Lexa advises him.

 

Lincoln smiles shyly and quickly makes an exit. “Well, that’s weird,” Lexa says, watching him leave.

 

“See you around, Clarke,” Lexa tells her. Her voice is suddenly a lot sweeter than it was. She gives Clarke a small wave and a nod before she’s gone too, leaving Clarke standing in the middle of a park with a stolen jacket in her hands.

 

Clarke grabs her phone, just to have something to do with her sudden loneliness. Disappointment fills her when she sees she has a text from Finn asking where he can pick her up. A sense of duty makes her send him her location and she walks to the road nearby, ready for Finn to pick her up and spend the rest of her day together.  

 


 

“This STEM program in Korea is a big deal,” Gustus tells her.

 

Lexa nods, barely able to contain the grin from her face. “I know,” she replies.

 

It really is. Nobody would believe that she would even qualify. Sometimes, she doesn’t even believe it herself, but she knows she can do it. Her grades are high, even when she sometimes lacks motivation.

 

Not only would it help her get into a good university, but it would also mean that she can leave this place. Away from Portland, with all the shitty people and her own bullshit.

 

“What does your aunt think?” Gustus asks her.

 

It’s getting serious if he wants to know what Indra thinks about the program. Sure, Lexa knows this is serious, but she didn’t think it would actually become a real possibility when Gustus first proposed applying for the program. She didn’t even tell Indra yet, but Gustus doesn’t need to know that.

 

“She’s totally pumped,” she lies.

 

Gustus sees right through her and raises his eyebrows.

 

“Yeah, I don’t want to go all in before it’s official,” she explains Gustus. They both know it’s more than that, but they leave it alone for now. First, she needs to know she’s in and then she can tell Indra. Otherwise, she would get all excited about nothing if it turns out she’s not accepted at all.

 

“With your grades and my recommendation, you’ve got a real chance,” he tries to boost her confidence. “Just work on your attendance.”

 

“Thanks, man,” Lexa mumbles while throwing her backpack around her shoulder, getting ready to leave Gustus’ office. Attending all her classes from now on might become a challenge, but she will try. She really will.

 

Before she opens to door, she makes sure she removes the big smile from her face. With an annoyed look, she leaves his office.

 

“What did Gustus nail you for this time?” Roan asks her, his little grin shows his awe for her.

 

It’s weird how her friends can appreciate someone by how much trouble they can get in. But that’s just how it works in her group of friends, she guesses. If you break the rules, you belong.

 

“You know, same shit as always,” Lexa shrugs. They wouldn’t understand her. “Got it out for me.”

 

That last part isn’t even a lie. It might not be Gustus, but the rest of the teachers have it out for her. She’s always the first one they look at when there is trouble somewhere as if she is the cause of all the bullshit on this school.

 

“Ontari scored some pot. You in?” he asks her. His voice stays even, but Lexa notices how excited he is about the prospect of smoking some weed in their usual spot behind the bleachers.

 

She becomes distracted by a flash of blonde hair. Clarke is walking through the hallway. Her usual followers, Octavia and Raven, on her side. Lexa scoffs lightly at the high school cliché of the popular kids walking through the hallway. It’s not like everyone parts for them, but it is close.

 

They used to be friends for a short while. Lexa still remembers it. Their friendship was a painful reminder of the time before her life turned around. She’s always resented Clarke for abandoning her when she actually needed some friends, but that somehow has changed. Her view on Clarke has changed. From resentment to neutral, she guesses.

 

“Let me catch up with you guys later,” she tells Roan and walks away, making sure to pass Clarke.

 

They make eye contact for a second. Lexa notices that Clarke’s eyes have become less intense blue than they were when they were younger, but the blue is still mesmerizing. With a light shake of her head, Lexa tries to get rid of the sappy thoughts in her head.

 

She turns her head away to take a look at her phone, seeing she got a text from Indra letting her know that she’s picked up an extra shift at the hospital. Another night alone. She’s sure she will find some money on the kitchen counter with a note that says she should get herself some dinner.

 

Despite her resenting all the nights she’s alone, she can’t really blame Indra. How can she really? Indra had taken her and her sister Anya in when their father went to jail and spend the rest of her life taken care of them. Suddenly having to provide for two girls is a lot and costs a lot, so she can’t blame Indra for taking as many shifts as possible. Although, she guesses it’s been a bit easier since Anya isn’t really around much anymore.

 

Since Indra has basically given up her life to take care of Lexa, she wants to make her proud. So, instead of smoking weed with her friends, she makes her way over to the classroom of her next class, making sure she’s on time.

 

She needs to focus on school and making sure she’s in Korea next semester. Pretty blonde girls with beautiful blue eyes only distract her from that. It would be easy to just stop going to these Shoplifters Anonymous meetings, severing her only connection to Clarke, but she can’t.  She actually likes those meetings, and she isn’t going to let anyone take that away from her.

 

Not even Clarke Griffin.

 


 

 

Turns out she was right, Indra left indeed some money on the counter for dinner. Lexa is sure she has ordered from every takeout in Portland. The thought of ordering something and eating it alone in front of the tv is just depressing, so she decides to go out and get food somewhere.

Out of automatism, she cycles to Paula’s diner close to her high school. She used to work there during the summer, so it’s nice to show her face again. Once she arrives at the diner, she realises she should have thought this through.

A lot of students from school are at the diner, spending time with their friends. Her own friends aren’t there, of course. It isn’t exactly their scene, but it is perfect for the rest. However, she’s already parked her bicycle and she’s hungry, which makes her decide to go in anyway.

All she has to do is keep her head down and hope they leave her alone. She makes it to the bar without anyone throwing some not-really-funny remark at her. It’s not like she’s scared that they will bully her or anything, but she’s just not feeling any social interactions tonight.

Paula is glad to see her, though.

“The prodigal employee has returned,” she greets her.

“You know, that’s me,” Lexa replies while taking a seat at the bar.

“How can I help you?” Paula asks. She grabs her notebook to write down the order.

Lexa doesn’t have to think for long and orders one of Paula’s notorious burgers.

“Coming right up,” Paula tells her and turns around to pass the order to the kitchen.

Lexa takes a sip from the coke that Paula has placed in front of her. From the corners of her eye, she looks around. The usual customers are there. Some theatre kids who are probably finished with their repetitions for today. The swim team is there too, all sipping on their water. And in the far corner is the group with the loudest kids. She can hear the loud voice of Raven, followed by even louder laughter.

Before Lexa can look away, she notices Clarke looking at her way too. Great.

Lexa quickly turns around again, pretending she wasn’t watching Clarke and her friends. Gladly, Paula has prioritized her order and within minutes the smell of the burger is filling her nose. It gives her something to do instead of just creepily observing everyone in the diner.

Halfway through her burger, she notices someone standing next to her. She looks up and is met with Clarke blue eyes.

“That looks nice,” Clarke says softly, obviously afraid someone might hear her talk to Lexa.

Lexa shrugs while swallowing. “It is,” she answers once her mouth is clear again.

Clarke nods, accepting the silence that follows it.

“So, did you steal anything recently?” Lexa asks her. She has no idea if she sincerely wants to make conversation or if she just enjoys making Clarke squirm because she isn’t exactly whispering.

“No, because I actually have a life,” Clarke answers, clearly feeling attacked. “So, did you?”

Lexa chuckles. Clarke has no idea. “Maybe.”

“Living the typical bad girl life, aren’t you,” Clarke sighs, signalling for Paula that she wants to order.

Lexa takes another bite of her burger. It makes Clarke having to wait for a reply. She knows Clarke is a rather impatient person.

“Just living life to the fullest. Are you enjoying life as a high school cliché?”

It’s mean, and Lexa knows it. Sometimes she just can’t help herself. Indra once told her she got that from her father, which is something she had rather not known.

“You call me a cliché?” Clarke scoffs.

It makes Lexa shrug again. “Aren’t we all?” she concludes and Clarke seems to accept that.

Finally, Paula comes over. Clarke turns to Lexa again after ordering some drinks.

“So, how’s Anya?” she asks suddenly.

This takes Lexa by surprise. Why would Clarke ask about her sister?

“Why do you ask?” she inquires defensively. Her family is nobody’s business. She gets enough judgement about her dad alone. The last thing she wants is everyone giving her grab about her sister.

Clarke rolls her eyes. “Asking about someone’s family is just basic conversation skills.”

“Oh,” Lexa mutters.

It makes Clarke chuckle. Lexa has no idea if Clarke is laughing at her or if she is just amused by this strange conversation.

“Did she go to college?”

“No,” is all Lexa says.

“Well, she is away right?” Clarke asks further.

Lexa knows this is passed basic conversation like Clarke implied just a few seconds ago. This is more like digging in her private life. She isn’t going to give Clarke anything to talk about with her friends.

“Yes,” is the only answer she’s going to give Clarke. It’s vague, so she can’t judge her about it.

Clarke seems to understand her, and leaves it at that. Besides, Paula has placed the drinks at the counter.

“Lexa, if you could be a dear and walk with this young lady to bring their drinks to their table,” Paula asks her, but actually it’s an order.

She doesn’t work there anymore, but if Paula tells you to do something, you just do. Even if it means walking to a table full of Clarke’s awful friends.

With a sigh, Lexa grabs a tray and places the drinks on it.

“You don’t have to do that,” Clarke tells her, noticing Lexa’s aversion.

Well, she isn’t going to let Clarke know that she’s indeed not looking forward to it. “It’s fine,” she says curtly.

With a passive look on her face, she follows Clarke to her table.

She places the tray on the table and turns around to walk away quickly, but she is not far enough to not hear Finn and his friends.

“Glad she’s useful for once,” he laughs.

“Very funny,” Lexa mumbles under her breath.

The laughter hasn’t died down, however. “Is her father still in prison?” Raven asks her friends.

This makes Lexa lower her pace. Gossip is a bit torture, isn’t it? You want to know what everyone says about you, even though it will hurt you. All she can do about it, is owning the narrative. Maybe it’s why she went to those Shoplifters Anonymous meetings in the first place.

“No way. Didn’t he like murder three people,” Octavia answers.

Lexa walks away, so she doesn’t have to hear the rest of the conversation. She doesn’t even bother correcting Octavia that her father didn’t murder anybody. Sure, he did a lot of other things wrong, but murder isn’t one of them.

In silence, she eats the rest of her burger, which has started to become cold. She throws some money on the counter, despite Paula’s protests that she doesn’t have to pay. With the frustration in her body only growing bigger, she leaves the diner.

Angrily, she grabs her bike and starts cycling towards to old skate park nearby. She didn’t plan on going there tonight, but she’s actually craving getting high. Even when her friends aren’t at the park, there are always people who are willing to share some weed with her.

It’s nice and simple, just like she likes it.