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I Need You

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I grew up with two loving parents, fell in love for the first time, got my first job, and graduated high school in the same small town before going off to college 7 hours away. I never went back home unless I had something to give my parents. The first thing was a degree, then a fiancé, and, in a few hours, I was going to give them a husband.

My fiancé was the kind of person you knew had never seen a cow with his own eyes before. But he loved me. So when his mother insisted that we get an expensive venue uptown, where he would undoubtedly be more comfortable, he made it clear that we would have the wedding where I grew up. She just added it to the many reasons as to why she hated me.

But that isn’t where the story starts, nor what it’s really about. No, it all truly began yesterday.

 

My friends and I walked into a little bar named Arkadia. I remembered walking past it on my way to school everyday when I was younger, never imagining I’d ever step foot inside. You could tell it was a bar in a small town that was just starting to get gentrified to hell, but it was full and there was a certain energy in the air you could get drunk off of if the alcohol wasn’t enough.

Raven, being born and raised in the urban, metropolitan giants of the US, had initially wanted to drive out to a big nightclub in the city, but my friends convinced her that Arkadia would keep the small-town spirit alive. I was glad to stay in town, I didn’t need a big party on a big night, for I didn’t have a life to say goodbye to. My bachelorette party would just be another ‘girl’s night’, and I was happy with that.

We grabbed drinks and they all talked about how exciting the entire thing was, how lucky I was to have my fiancé. How happy I must’ve been. I just nodded and laughed with them.

The sound of taps on a mic came from the corner of the bar where the stage was. We all turned our heads to find the owner of the bar standing up there.

“Evening, everybody,” he said with a big smile, “it seems we’ve hit 9 o’clock, so how’s about we get the night started with a little live music?”

A few people cheered, including my friends. They liked that sort of thing; It proved they were young and alive. I, however, wasn’t sure what I enjoyed. The only emotions I knew were being upset and being not-upset, at which point I’d just say I was happy. So much time had passed since I’d felt anything else, I guess I just forgot. I turned back to our table to finish my drink, ignoring the lively scene around me.

It was a screeching, record scratching halt when I heard her. Her voice marched into my mind through my ears and shook me until I looked at her.

“How’s everyone doing tonight,” she asked the crowd with that sweet, beautiful grin that used to drive me crazy. “Well, if you all don’t mind, we’ll be playing a few songs tonight. If you got any requests, let us know.”

She glanced behind her and nodded to the band. They started playing and I immediately recognized the song. The idiot in me smiled, imagining she was singing it to me even though she hadn’t seen me yet. The narcissist in me couldn't think of another reason.

I almost wanted to jump out of my seat. I imagined myself doing it. ‘I’m here. Lex, I’m here. I’m back!’ I would’ve said it if I had the nerve. But I didn’t. Not yet, anyway. I just sat there and stared at her and wondered how we both ended up here tonight, I even told myself it couldn’t have been a coincidence.

 

On the corner of Main Street

Tryna keep it in line

You say you wanna move on and

You say I’m falling behind

Can you read my mind?

Can you read my mind?

“I never really gave up on

Breaking out of this two-star town

I got the green-light, I got a little fight

I wanna turn this thing around

Can you read my mind?

Can you read my mind?”

 

She spun the song into the air, wrapping everyone in her voice, making them all feel like her muse. It was impossible not to fall in love with her. It was like a rapture where she was pulling you right into heaven, and you would never even think of fighting to pull away. She was the world, and she made you feel like the sun. She was a star, and she made you feel like the sky. 

 

“Good old days, the honest man

The restless heart, the promised land

The subtle kisses that no one sees

The broken wrist and a big trapeze

Oh, well, I don’t mind if you don’t

‘Cause I don’t shine if you don’t

Put your back on me…”

 

My friends, and the entire bar actually, swayed along as she sang. Some sang with her. And I knew that the only reason she was singing in a bar and not a stadium was that she could never leave this place. Not like I had.

And then she saw me. She seemed to lose her place in the song in the half-second that we locked eyes. I wanted to smile, wave, I wanted to do anything. But her eyes were gone before I could.

 

“Let me make shit right…

“It’s funny how you just break down

Waiting on some sign

I pull up to the front of your driveway

With magic soaking my spine

Can you read my mind?

Can you read my mind?

“The teenage queen, the loaded gun

The drop dead dream, the chosen one

A southern drawl, a world unseen

A city wall and a trampoline

Oh, well, I don’t mind if you don’t

‘Cause I don’t shine if you don’t

Put your back on me…”

 

She looked at me again, as if she were making sure it was really me.

 

“Let me make shit right.

“Slipping in my faith until I fall

You never returned that call

Woman, open the door, don’t let it sting

I wanna breathe that fire again

Oh, I don’t mind if you don’t

‘Cause I don’t shine if you don’t

Put your back on me

Let me make shit right.”

 

They sang another song, some classic, country-folk crowd pleaser my father would’ve loved. All the while, she didn’t look at me again. I knew because my eyes never left her. 

The guitarist ended up snapping a string, and they had to take a break. I watched her step off the stage and walk towards the bar. The bartender quickly came over to her and started serving something up. I always thought that telling a bartender “the usual” only happened in the movies, but it seemed to happen with her. She was special that way. In a split-second decision, I decided to go to her.

“Hey,” I said as I walked up to her.

She set her glass down and looked at me. Her eyes seemed to quiver, unsure if to look angry, heartbroken, or happy. One thing’s for sure, though, she was surprised to see me.

In the end, though, she settled for no emotion at all. “You really are back, huh?”

“Yeah…I am,” I nodded with an awkward smile. 

She nodded back at me and threw the rest of her drink down her throat. She grunted as she swallowed and set the glass down.

“Alright,” she said.

“Alright?”

She waved the bartender over and signaled for another round. “Yeah. I’m sure your family’s real happy.”

“They are,” I smiled. I knew she actually cared, she always would. I guess I would, too. “Anyway, how’ve you been?”

“Great,” she said as she twirled the cup around.

“I’m really glad to hear that.”

“City treating you well,” she asked, “I mean, are you happy?”

“Yeah,” I almost sounded like I was trying to convince her. I quickly hid my hesitation with a smile and shifted the attention away from me, “What about you? Where are you living these days?”

“Same place. Ain’t had a reason to go yet,” she shrugged.

Well, now would be a perfect time to buy a house. You know, before prices skyrocket, ’ I almost lectured, but I knew that would’ve upset her. 

“Hey, Lex! We’re good to go,” her bandmates called from the stage.

She turned to them and gave them a thumbs up before looking back at me, “Well, I should go finish up our set.” It almost seemed like she wanted to say some kind, sweet parting words. But she didn’t. “Goodbye, Clarke.”

“Bye,” I said, her back already turned to me.

We stayed for a few more songs before we left and got home by 11. Everyone told me to go to bed early, that they’d stay up all night and worry about tomorrow so that I wouldn’t have to, but by 12, they were all knocked out.

My bed was empty, my fiancé off with strippers his friends bought him. Knowing him, he was probably rejecting every offer for a dance and was just aching to see me in white. He was a romantic that way. And I should’ve loved him for it. Hell, I did love him for it.

I just didn’t desire it. And I guess that’s the funny thing about desire. It almost has nothing to do with what you want. Because what I wanted was to be married, have a nice family everyone was jealous of, and be ignorantly blissful. My desire, though, ran free and wild. My desire wanted fire and adventure, hurt, and gore. My desire is what took me into my bathroom, put dark lipstick onto my lips, painted my eyelids, and pushed my body into the most provocative outfit I owned.

My desire is what then snuck me past my sleeping friends and relatives in my parents’ living room, into my car, and over to the east side of town.

My desire is what parked me in front of one of the two apartment complexes in the entire town, put me in an elevator, and landed me outside of Lexa’s door.

She was so close, I imagined I could taste her through the paper thin walls. My humanity begged to think about and regret leaving her over something like her not wanting to get married. My heart begged to think about my fiancé, who was only hours away from being my husband. And I ignored both of them. I just needed to feel her.

I knew she’d be angry when she saw me. She had to be. I’d stupidly invited her to my wedding, and she’d sent the invitation right back. Express shipping, nonetheless. Then, I showed up at her gig and talked to her like we were old friends while she was trying to have a drink. And yet I hoped that would be all the more reason for her to invite me in, to push me against the wall before kissing me, to take me into her bed and reclaim me even if it was just for one night.

It must’ve been fate because when I raised my hand to knock and the feeling of turning around started bubbling in my stomach, she opened the door. She was standing there like she was guarding the gates of Heaven. I could tell she had just gotten home. She’d probably forgotten something in her car, or got a random craving for fast food, or just felt like stepping outside. I don’t know. I was away from her for so long, I got so used to imagining the things she’d spend her time doing. But now I was actually there, now I could actually know. All I had to do was reach for her.

“Clarke?”

She looked at me, searching, almost not believing I was really there. Her eyes seemed hopeful and worn out. She wanted it to be me. She was happy it was me.

But the anger washed over her like a heavy tide. Her eyebrows fell together and her eyes fixed into a glare as she hardened her jaw.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

Even then, I could never lie to her. I said the only true thought I had. “I needed to see you again,” I whispered.

My hands were restless, and I wasn't sure if it was because of the nerves or because I wanted to touch her so badly.

“Does he know you’re here?”

“No,” I answered.

She scoffed, “‘Course he doesn’t. Let me guess: you want me to talk you out of it. You want me to convince you that it’s a mistake. That you were wrong about what you wanted.”

“No—“

“Good. Because I won’t,” she said coldly. “Go home, Clarke. This isn’t a mistake you want to make. Not tonight. Not any night after tonight.”

She moved to shut the door and my hand smacked the door, stopping her. The plan had been so simple, mostly because there hardly was one. I was meant to go to her and she’d just… want me. So when she didn’t, when she’d dismissed me, I felt compelled to justify myself, to make her see why I needed her, why I didn’t care if it was a mistake or not.

“Don’t,” I looked into her eyes. I could’ve sworn they softened. I stepped closer to her. Close enough that I knew she could inhale me, close enough that I could touch her. I placed my hand on her cheek and rubbed her cheekbone with my thumb, “Please, don’t ask me to leave.”

“You can’t do this, Clarke,” she said more calmly. Though, her gaze left me; she was afraid I’d take her morality.

“Why,” I snaked my head back into her view so that she’d have to face me. I knew I made her weak. I knew I was wrong to use that against her, but I desired her. There is no way to explain why I did what I did beyond that: I desired her.

She swallowed hard and stared at my lips for a moment before speaking, “Because he loves you.”

I frowned, “Don't you?”

“Not enough,” she looked into my eyes.

“It doesn’t have to be enough,” I said.

She thought about it for a moment. I could tell only by the sadness in her eyes. A small, dying flame wearing the mask of anger. It was a thought she didn’t want to have poisoning her mind. She was a good person, always had been. But I was bigger than her morals, so she never stood a chance.

“Clarke…” it was a last attempt to keep the walls from crumbling, but she was already coming undone.

I brushed my palm against her cheek and smiled, “It’s enough for one night.”

I felt her hand against my waist. She was always so warm, so easy to fall into. At that moment, I loved her again, or, maybe, I just remembered that I still did. I couldn’t be sure.

She pushed her forehead against mine and huffed. Her voice trembling, “I hate you.”

Her mouth was open and so, so close to mine. I could feel her breathing like she was about to lose her mind. I could’ve kissed her. But I needed to know.

“Why,” I asked naively.

“Look at what you do to me,” she pulled away and held my head in her hands. Her eyes were wide and filled with everything she never said, “And I let you… I always let you.”

I put my hand over hers and nuzzled into it. I didn’t realize until I felt the burning trail down my face that I was crying. She didn’t even let it fall off of my face before wiping it away. And, for some reason, that just made it worse.

I said it without thinking. If I’d thought about it, I would’ve never said it. I shouldn’t have said it. “Why couldn’t it be you?”

“You know why,” her shoulders slumped, knowing exactly what I’d meant with my question.

I opened my eyes and looked straight into hers, “I don’t. I never did.”

“It wasn’t enough,” she dropped the hand I wasn’t holding. “It never is.”

“Bullshit,” I shoved her other hand away from me. “Bullshit. You loved me, Lex… I know you did!”

“I couldn’t give you what you wanted,” she whispered.

Another tear escaped my eye, and I felt as though it were mocking me. I wiped it away myself that time.

“I just wanted you.”

She scoffed, “No, you wanted the big, white dress and chapel. You wanted a big family with an even bigger house. You wanted to move in next to the people we have nothing in common with. You wanted to be able to believe that everything was right in the world because everything had worked out right for you. And I couldn’t have any of that. But that didn’t have to mean that you couldn’t either… so I let you go. I let you go because you loved that dream more than you loved me, and I didn’t love you enough to not be okay with coming in second.

“How can you say that,” I shuddered. “Of course I loved you more.”

She laughed a little. It was the kind of laugh that tells you someone really doesn’t find anything funny at all. “Well, I guess it’s too late for that, isn’t it? In a few hours you’ll be Mrs—“

She couldn’t even bring herself to call me by his name. I don’t think I could’ve either. I put my arm around her neck and let myself fall closer to her. She smelled of a forest I could’ve gotten lost in.

“I’m not yet,” I whispered against her skin.

“I don’t want you to be,” she shook as she wrapped her arms around me.

“I can’t promise that.”

“I know.” Her hold softened.

“So,” I asked, “what then?”

“Would I be wrong to say that I don’t think I care? That I’d still let you in?” 

I shook my head, never letting my eyes leave hers. “I wouldn’t hold it against you.”

She laughed a little. “Of course you wouldn’t, but that’s not what I asked, Clarke.”

“It’s wrong to everyone else,” I dropped my gaze, “but it doesn’t feel that way to me. This can’t be wrong. Not when you look at me the way you do, not when I need you the way I do, and not when I feel the way I do. They’re wrong. They have to be. Everything is always wrong when I’m not with you.”

She looked at me. I could read her mind at that moment. Wishing we lived in another universe, one where we were destined lovers, one where we could just be . She wanted our story to be long and beautiful and grand, she wanted to return to the days when we swept across the page, before we came to a stop and the ink began to bleed through. I was supposed to be hers, as she was meant to be mine. We both knew it. Undeniably, indisputably, positively— we knew it.

“Is this really what you want?”

I only nodded. Words have always failed me.

When she began to lean into me, I rushed to meet her. I won't lie about that or try to make it seem as though she kissed me and I only let it happen. No, I kissed her just as much as she had kissed me. And we weren’t sorry about it. Hell, in that moment, it felt like we would’ve screamed it from the top of the largest tower in the world. Our lips crashed together, an explosion as we collided. Hot and heavy, she was all over me again. Filling my mouth and lungs and mind. I missed feeling her this way.

I pushed my body onto hers, letting my breasts push against her chest. My arms tangled themselves around her neck. Her hands reached everywhere they could, and her leg found its way between mine. I rocked into her, my body aching to be touched.

We tumbled into her apartment, chests heaving and hands full. Our mouths slipped against each other, all of our love and hatred spilling out as passion.

My mind was in a frenzy, like some primal instinct just took over. The only coherent thought I could form was, ‘I need you .’

“Me too,” she muttered against my lips before filling my mouth with her tongue again.

I’d said it aloud. And yet I felt no desire to retract my statement. It was true. And part of me needed her to know. I needed her. To hate me, love me, want me, push me away, touch me, I just needed her to acknowledge me, to see me, to know I was here and that I was alive and that I needed her.

Our tongues swiveled in circles, embracing each other as if making up for all the years apart. All the while, her hands got wilder and wilder, braver and braver, until they finally reached my ass.

She squeezed it, pushing us closer together and I felt her dick pulsate against my hip. I grinded into her almost mindlessly, aching to feel more of her. She groaned and pushed me against one of her walls as we stumbled closer to her bedroom.

I could tell not much had changed since the last time I was there. We were right outside of her bedroom. God, it felt like ages since we were last there together.

My hands moved to the button on her jeans. I stopped for permission and she quickly nodded, “Just do it.”

I pushed her zipper down so fast I was sure it was left broken. Her pants slid past her hips on their own, and then I tugged at her grey boxers. I could feel myself getting wetter and wetter with each inch that came into view until it finally sprang free.

I dropped to my knees and wrapped my hand around her cock. I’d forgotten what it felt like to have my entire hand full, not to say that I wasn't pleased. I gave it a small stroke and she stumbled forward a bit, catching herself on a bookshelf.

A vase fell as she brought her hand down on the wood, it shattered when it reached the ground.

“Leave it,” she groaned, “I need to feel you.”

I wrapped my lips around the head of her cock and pressed down firmly. My tongue lapped at it as I took more and more into my mouth. The snake, and I was Eve. And yet, even knowing I was damning humanity, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

She threw her head back, and I only wished I could see the way her throat stretched and the way her jaw became tight. She put her hands on my head and began to pump into my mouth.

Fuck ,” she moaned when she hit the back of my throat for the first time.

Her moans were gentle and quiet, as if afraid to let the world know what we were doing. If we were found, it would’ve ended. And I don’t think she ever wanted it to.

Her hairs tickled my nose as I gagged on her, and she massaged my head with her fingers. I couldn’t wait to feel them on me. The way they were always so cold, and the way she’d slowly drag them over me was an addiction I never forgot.

I let her cock slip out of my mouth with a wet pop. I kissed it gently before looking up at her, “Take me to bed.”

She nodded and pulled her pants up before she picked me up. I’d forgotten how strong she was, how easily I fit in her arms.

She laid me down gently on her bed and stood. She pulled her shirt off, leaving only her golden necklace flowing between her breasts. She threw the shirt off to the side, not caring where it landed. She slipped her pants off next, leaving only her boxers, and crept closer to me. Her hand reached my cheek, while the other slid up my side until it reached my breast. I could sense her desperation in the way her hands sat awkwardly on me. She used to be so purposeful in the way she would touch me because all she wanted was to please me. Her kisses, though, were just as loving as I’d remembered them. People always talk of the way words are more memorable than actions, that it is possible for someone to touch you in the same way as someone else, but no one can replicate someone else’s way of speaking. But that’s just not true. Her touch was something I would never forget. I would search for it everywhere. I would know it anywhere.

She kissed me softly and passionately, taking her time to fill my entire body with the taste of her mouth. I could taste the whiskey she’d had at the bar earlier, the cigarette she probably smoked after I’d left, the frustration of knowing I wasn’t really hers, the longing of it all.

I reached up and grasped her breast. It fit perfectly in my hand, like we were made for each other. I rolled her nipple between my fingers until it perked up. I imagined it reaching out to me, begging for my tongue. She bit my lip and began to slip her boxers off. She was never too shy to get undressed first.

With the newfound vigor she was able to syphon from me, she snatched the straps of my dress off of my shoulders and pushed the skirt up at the same time. I got up and pulled it off of my body with her help. It landed somewhere I didn’t know until later that night. She leaned back until she was resting on her knees and admired me for a moment, taking in every inch of me. I knew my body was different, I’d been insecure about it for the last couple of years, so I was almost afraid she wouldn’t want me when she really saw. But she only looked at me with love. In fact, I don’t think she’d ever looked at me with that much love before. ‘ Is this what it feels like to be beautiful? ’ I’d thought. 

I could hear her gentle breaths, and I could feel the way her eyes analyzed me. She was so beautiful sitting up on her knees, naked and hard for me. It was all for me.

“You’re beautiful, Clarke,” she looked into my eyes, showing me how her pupils expanded.

She leaned back into me until she was over me. Her hands went straight to my body. I gasped as she tore my panties away and slid her fingers through me. Gliding effortlessly as they became coaxed with my arousal.

“You’re so wet,” she breathed over my mouth.

“I want—“ I gasped as she began to rub my clit, “I want you to fuck me.”

 “Tell me you need me to,” she said as she rubbed faster, “tell me just feeling my fingers is better than anything he’s ever given you.”

I could feel something building inside of me as she massaged my clit with her tender fingers. It was indescribable and unfamiliar in the way a foggy memory always is. But I was chasing after it, I was wiping it clear. I wanted to know. I had to know.

“It is,” I gasped, “I need you. God, I fucking need you, Lex.”

I watched as her other hand went south. The hand that was on my clit moved beside my head as she held herself up. And then I felt the head of her cock slide between my legs. She grunted as it made contact with my clit. She pulled away and stroked herself, spreading my wetness from the head to the entire length.

“Tell me what you want,” she whispered to me.

“You know what I want,” I said. “You want it, too.”

She grinned as she slid her cock down to my opening and pushed herself inside. She slid into me so easily, like my body was welcoming her or even begging her to come closer. Even in the deepest parts of my subconscious, I missed her.

I felt her everywhere. Inside of me, in my heart, my mind, my soul. I moaned as I gripped her arm. I was afraid that if I didn’t hold on, she might go. And I couldn’t handle that.

She slid back, only to push into me. She did it again and again, each time getting faster until I could hear the smack of our skin. It sounded like a melody she was dedicating to me.

Her moans were deep and long, and she let them out right over me so that I could devour each and every one. Mine were soft and begging. I was addicted to her again from the moment I took her into my mouth. I was never going to get enough.

The feeling of Lexa Trikru inside of you is truly indescribable. My body was on fire. We moved together rhythmically as we chased each other. I wanted her to go deeper, I wanted her in every inch of my being. I could feel the pulsating of her cock as she tried her best to keep her movements steady. 

“I love you,” she panted and only sped up. She gripped the sides of my hips and pounded into me.

“I-“ I began to say, but the head of her cock made contact with my g-spot. My face contracted as I wailed out a moan. I couldn’t stop after that. I was diving head first into pure euphoria. My body writhed under her as I rode my high, all the while she never stopped.

I was crashing into the sun, and she was driving me there. I felt her digging into me like she’d found a new world. Her necklace was hanging above me and I could feel it dragging across my face as she moved. I felt like begging. Or screaming. Or doing anything just for her to go deeper. I couldn’t let it end.

Coming down was like sliding down a smooth mountain. Exhilarating and tiring. 

She slid out of me as I settled and kissed me. She pumped her cock a few times before her gentle grunts signaled her cum spurting onto her bedsheets.

She sighed and dropped onto the bed next to me.

“You didn’t have to do that,” I said.

She chuckled and gave me a kiss on the cheek, “Your husband would be confused if his kids came out with green eyes.”

“He’s not my husband,” I said definitively. “And I think they’d have blue eyes, actually.”

“Trikru genes are strong,” she shrugged.

I smiled, “You’re right. They’d probably come out singing some early-2000’s rock song, green eyes, sharp jawline, and all.”

“I’d name him Aden. Well, if they chose to be a he.  I’d want his name to be Aden,” there was a glint of hope in her eyes. It was easy to dream at night; Reality was asleep.

And, well, dreams never really hurt anyone. “If they were a she, I’d want her name to be Madi.”

“If they were a they?”

“Maybe we could put our names together. Larke? Clexa?”

“That’s silly,” she giggled.

 

I’d made my way to the bathroom to get cleaned up. After I did, I stood in front of the mirror and just stared for a moment. I patted my hair down to fix it as much as I could. My makeup was smudged, and the dark tints made it look as if I’d been beaten. I should’ve felt guilt or sadness, or anything that would reflect my morals. I had just cheated on my fiancé, afterall. But I didn’t. I just felt… content , maybe. No, that wasn’t it. I was happy. For the first time in what felt like a Millenium, I was happy. I was with her again, and that was all I’d needed. So, while my face looked like I’d hit rock bottom, like I was driving myself ill, I only felt alive. I felt like I could live forever as long as she would stay with me.

I searched Lexa’s cabinets for makeup wipes until I eventually found some. I regretted putting a face on at that moment; Lexa wouldn’t have cared if I’d come in an old t-shirt and ripped sweatpants. I was always beautiful to her, just in different ways. 

I ran the water and let it flow through my hands for a moment before splashing it onto my face. When I got up to dry it, I realized how much older I looked since the last time I’d truly looked at myself.

My life is over. ’ I thought, the disappointment shining through in the privacy of my own mind and driving away my momentary euphoria as reality set in. I didn’t mean to think it. I wasn’t even sure if I meant it. It was one of those thoughts you have and quickly reassure yourself that it’s not true, that it isn’t you. I was going to get married and I was going to be happy. That was the plan. That was what I wanted.

I only blinked and she was behind me. Beautiful and glowing, she took my breath away all over again. She wrapped her arms around my abdomen and pushed her body close to mine. It was only then that I realized how tense I was. I let my body relax as she held me up.

She looked at me through the mirror and grinned. “I still can’t ever tell what you’re thinking.”

I looked into her eyes in her reflection and let myself smile at her, though it was small. My frown inevitably pushed it back. “Do you think I’m making a mistake?”

“In being here?” She asked like she already knew the answer.

“In marrying him,” I clarified.

She sighed and turned me around so that I was leaning on the counter and she was standing in front of me. “I’m not the person to ask, Clarke. Of course I’m going to say it’s a mistake. How couldn’t I?”

“Well, maybe, that’s why I’m asking you,” I half-whispered.

“If it’s the answer you’re looking for, then it’s the answer you’ve already chosen.”

“…What do I do?”

They say you never truly become an adult. I’d never admit it, but it’s true. I needed her to tell me what to do like I was still a stupid kid, I needed her to figure it out for me. I couldn’t. I loved him, but I loved her, too. I wanted to marry him, but only because I couldn’t marry her. I wanted to hyphenate with his name, but I would’ve taken Trikru over Griffin any day. I wanted a family, but I wanted my kids to have her eyes. I loved her. He was just the best available option. But, God, did I want her to be the one.

But she loved me too much to ruin something like that for me.

“I don’t know,” she said.

“Because you don’t love me enough,” I added.

She clenched her jaw as she looked at me, “If you think that means I don’t wanna be the one to marry you, you’re wrong.”

“Then what does it mean?”

“It means that 7 years ago, we couldn’t get married. Not in the way you wanted, and I didn’t love you enough to make us settle for a certificate. 6 years ago, we could’ve, but you were on your way out, and I didn’t love you enough to keep you from that college you worked your ass off getting into. 4 years ago, I wanted to, but you were in a new city with a new boyfriend, and I didn’t love you enough to shrink your world back down to this town. And, now, I wish I could, but you’ve got someone who will . And I don’t love you enough to put our maybe over a sure thing. Even if we hadn’t had any of that in our way, it wouldn’t have worked. Your family would’ve hated you if you chose me, and I don’t love you enough to make you choose. I don’t love you enough to be selfish like anyone else would…like I know he would.”

“I don’t care about any of that, Lex. I just want you,” I let the tears go. It felt like they clawed into my skin, trying to stop themselves from falling, but I was being pulled into the ground towards a grave.

Her eyes watered and she took a deep breath. Her tears never fell for anything. They would come, but they would never take the leap. “Maybe in another life, Clarke.”

How can she say that? ’ I looked up at her and pounded my fist on her chest. I was so angry. But it wasn’t her fault. And she was only trying to make me feel better. That was just a hard thing to realize at the time.

“I don’t want ‘another life’!” I yelled. “I want this one! I want now! I want you! I- I need you…”

I could see her soul begging to reach out and say she wanted the same. But, like I said, she loved me too much to ruin this for me. She may have thought that meant she didn’t love me enough, but it was the complete opposite. Desire drives you to things like that, like being selfish. Love, however, is what stops you. I knew that. I knew because desire drove me to her despite being engaged. I knew because if I truly loved my fiancé, I wouldn’t have let it. But I did, and I couldn’t find it within myself to regret that.

“You won’t feel that way tomorrow when your dad’s walking you down the aisle, and your mother’s tearing up over it, and he’s standing at the altar waiting for you and looking at you like you’re the only girl in the world. You won’t. You won’t think about me at all.”

She ended up driving me home after that. We didn’t say another word. I was afraid she’d convince me to want to marry him, and she was afraid I’d convince her to steal me away.

I got home and didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. If I did, I would’ve welcomed the next day, and then she’d truly be gone. When everyone woke up and found me awake, they assumed I was excited for my “big day”. My mom brought me coffee in a mug I made her in my 1st grade art class. I couldn’t put it down because the bottom was crooked, of course. She sat beside me as we got our hair and makeup done. The entire time, she spoke of the day she met my dad and how she knew he would be the man she’d marry. How she’d made mistakes before him, no doubt referencing my time with Lexa in high school. And how he had forgiven her and given her the life she needed. Not the life she wanted , I noted.

I love my parents with all my heart, but I hated them sometimes. I hated how I was so desperate to be like them. They were in love and they were happy, but they weren’t me. They lived the kind of lives you see on mediocre TV dramas that bore you to death, but people like my parents love. Like Grey’s Anatomy or Friends. But, mostly, I hated them because of what I knew. I knew that, if I had chosen Lexa from the start and didn’t let them believe she was just a phase, they would have hated me like Lexa said. A book written thousands of years ago said they had to, so they would. I tried not to let that fact make me cry. 

Hours later, I wore my beautiful dress. I felt like royalty in it. It was long and flowing and I loved it. My father walked me down the aisle. People who watched me grow up smiled as I passed by. And all the while he spoke softly, so that only I could hear him, about how proud he was.

“He’s a good one, Clarke,” he’d said. “I told you He had a plan for you, and this is it. You’re right where you’re supposed to be.”

But, now, is the moment of truth. I’m looking at my fiancé and I should be realizing that this is the only man I was ever meant to love. But I’m not. All that I’m realizing is that it’s all wrong. I’m realizing I was wrong, that desire is the exact same thing as what I want. And I realize that I want her . But it’s too late now. Everyone’s watching me, waiting for me.

He glances at our friends and family with an awkward smile and looks at me like I’m embarrassing him.

“Clarke,” he mutters, “‘I do’.”

“I…” I turn my head and see my father sitting in the first row of pews. He wipes a tear from his eye and I realize this is the first time I’ve seen him cry. My mom isn’t hiding her tears, she’s holding onto my dad’s arm and bawling with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on her face. Even my soon-to-be mother-in-law is smiling and tearing up.

But I can’t. I don’t want to be with him. I can’t be with him. It was easy when I’d forgotten what she felt and tasted like. But I remember now, and it’s all I can think about.

I have to say no. I have to say I don’t .

The church’s heavy doors smack against the frame and pull everyone’s attention away from us. She’s standing there, out of breath like she just decided to come. Her eyes find me instantly.

“I object!”

It’s exactly like the movies. Everything freezes except for the murmurs and gasps. Like no one knows what to think or say. I watch my father stand, fuming. My mother looks like she’s about to lunge. My fiancé is more confused than anything. But, me, I’m smiling. I’m smiling because she loves me enough, and we both know it.

She walks down the central aisle, never taking her eyes off of me. And if the ancient Greeks had seen her, Helios would’ve been named a goddess. “I have loved you for half my life. I loved you when you were here, and I loved you when you left, and I love you now. I let you go because I thought it was what was best for you. But we’re the same, Clarke. You’re as much of me as I am of you, so I can’t let you do this. I can’t let you pretend like he’s the piece you’re missing. And maybe that makes me selfish, but I’m willing to be if it means you’ll be happy. I’m asking you to choose me. And I’m promising that I will always choose you.”

“What the hell is this” he asks me. “Who is she?”

My father marches up to her and glares, “Get the heck out of here. I will not let you ruin my daughter again.”

“She’s happy,” my mother chimes in, “can’t you see that? Can’t you just be happy for her?”

She drops her gaze in shame. And I decide I can’t let her stand there alone. I practically run towards her. But, like I said, words always fail me.

So I kiss her. The heat of her body is enough to make me think we’re being dragged to hell already. But how can we be? If this is the most divine action I have ever taken. She hugs me tightly and kisses me back, and I know for sure that this is right.

I can only imagine everyone’s faces. Shocked, maybe even disgusted. But I can’t care. They can hate me. The whole world can hate me. As long as she loves me, though, they feel like nothing. Like a star in the Milky Way.

I grab her hand and run. I hear everyone calling after me. When I turn back, it isn’t to see them, it’s to make sure she’s with me. I smile at her and she shines her beautiful teeth. When we reach the outside of the chapel, I kiss her again. And I don’t stop until my lungs remind me I’m not breathing. I know the dirt is tainting my dress, but I don’t need it to get married. I just need her.

“I love you, too,” I finally say.