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Catch Me, I'm Falling

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The final weeks of school rushed forward much quicker than Clarke could have ever imagined.

It seemed that, just days previous, she had walked into the halls of Arkadia for the first time as a wide-eyed freshman, accompanied by Octavia and Bellamy as Wells, a sophomore at the time, expertly cajoled them around campus. And now, she was on the brink of graduation, ready to plunge into the metaphorical deep end of life, travel across the country to pursue the career she’d dreamed about since childhood, and set off on her own little journey. It was only natural that she’d be filled with nostalgia.

The bell rang, as loud and annoying as it had always been, signaling the end of class, and, by the extension, the end of her finals. From thereon, it would be smooth sailing.

Same as every day since freshman year, Clarke walked to the cafeteria where the delinkru were situated, though now her hand was laced in another, soft, oh-so-perfect hand, and she leaned into Lexa as the two of them walked, side-by-side, soaking up each other’s presence. Clarke had been more touchy than usual with the other girl, which was saying a lot, but if it bothered the football player she didn’t say anything.

The thought of not being able to be besides Lexa all the time caused Clarke physical pain, so she was initiating as much physical contact as she could, never eager to leave her girlfriend’s side.

“See?” Lexa whispered to her as they walked, still easily heard regardless of the cacophony of chatter provided full-time by the student population of Arkadia. “I told you Kane’s final would be easy.”

“Who said it was easy?” Clarke responded, and Lexa rolled her eyes fondly at the artist.

“You wouldn’t have finished it with twenty minutes to spare if it was hard, love.”

“How do you know? I could’ve just randomly circled answers or left half of the questions blank.”

“I’m his aide, niron , remember that,” Lexa laughed, squeezing Clarke’s hand slightly, “besides, I know you. You’re too smart to be stumped by a Kane final.”

“I’m glad you have so much faith in me,” Clarke grinned, pressing a quick kiss to Lexa’s cheek as they rounded the final turn to the lunch table they’d all grown to call theirs, taking her place between Lexa and Murphy, the latter of whom was hanging off of his chair, head resting on the floor.

“Comfortable?” she quipped, and he looked up at her expressionlessly.

“Very,” he responded dryly.

“It’s weird to think we’re done with finals,” Raven said, arriving at the table with a huff and a graceful dump of her belongings on the floor, “like. That’s it. We’re pretty much done.”

“Graduation is in three days,” Anya pointed out, “what did you expect? To stay in high school forever?”

“God I hope not,” Raven laughed, “I’m ready to hightail the fuck out of this hellhole.” Her words held little truth to them, though. While the classes and the homework weren’t exactly ideal, over the four years at their stay, the delinquents, at least, had made the school grounds their home away from home, their empire, their kingdom.

Countless days had been spent at that very lunch table, complaining about Trikru and rushing through forgotten homework and discussing Bellamy and Raven’s new flings. To think that in a few days, it would all be over, was almost sad.

“Not as much as Bell, though,” Octavia chimed in, “he’s practically dying to leave for Europe, fancies himself a world explorer.”

“I’ll be able to learn so many things!” he interjected. “All that history, it’s so rich and entrancing―”

“I thought the point of a leap year was to spend time away from learning,” Lexa chuckled, “and here you are, throwing yourself into the thick of it all.”

“Once a history nerd, always a history nerd,” Raven added with a fond glance in the boy’s direction as he prattled off to Monty what his first plans of action were, the kind Korean boy always willing and eager to listen.

Their conversation was easy and flowing, but Clarke’s heart wasn’t entirely in it, and Lexa took notice of that quickly.

“Clarke?” when she turned and blue eyes met green, in the most familiar, comforting way, she almost felt the urge to cry. Lexa gently took her hand and pulled her up from the table.

“Leaving already?” Jasper piped up.

“Let them go,” Murphy dismissed, “we’ll see them again tomorrow anyways, if they ever decide to resurface.” Lexa shot him a thankful glance as Clarke followed her out of the lunchroom.

“How about we skive off our next couple classes and head to our flower field?” she offered, and Clarke took only a few moments to consider the offer before nodding her consent. “I don’t think they’ll mind much, anyways, we are almost done with the year, after all.”

The two girls walked in comfortable silence, hands swinging slightly between the two of them until they sunk down on the soft grass of their flower field.

“Wanna talk about it?” Lexa murmured, pulling Clarke in between her legs so that the blonde girl’s head rested on her chest, arms wrapped comfortably around her.

“I just can’t believe it’s all ending,” Clarke sighed, “high school, that is.”

“You’ll still have the summers here,” Lexa offered as some form of consolation, “but I understand. It’ll be a big change, especially with you delinquents spreading out across the world.”

“God I hadn’t thought about that,” Clarke ran her fingers along Lexa’s arms, marvelling at the goosebumps that rose despite the warmth of the spring sun, “we are going separate ways, aren’t we?”

“Well, Murphy will be going with you to California,” Lexa said, pressing a swift kiss to the top of Clarke’s head, “and Octavia and Lincoln will be over there as well.”

“Who knows,” Clarke laughed, “Raven might end up over there as well. She still hasn’t made up her mind. But Bell’s going to be off touring Europe, and Monty and Jasper are going to be off being geniuses somewhere, god I’m going to miss them.” A pause. “I’m going to miss you .”

Lexa sighed as she pulled Clarke closer to her, not for the first time wishing to just tell Clarke about her plans to follow the girl to California―she would have followed her to the end of the universe, surely Clarke would have expected it already―and squeezed tightly around her waist.

“I love you,” Lexa confessed, as she had many times before, nestling her head in the crook of Clarke’s shoulder, “so so much.”

“I love you too,” Clarke breathed back, and the slight constriction of her tone, clearly the result of holding back tears, broke Lexa’s heart, “more than you could ever know.” She paused, grasping at her own words, before continuing. “I just can’t help but feel like everything’s ending , like we’ve finally reached some final deadline, and we’ll all continue on with the rest of our lives and not think twice about high school. That we’ll move forward and, and forget .”

“Well,” Lexa said gently, turning Clarke around so she could look the other girl in the eye, “I can’t speak for myself, but you, Clarke Abigail Griffin, are utterly, entirely unforgettable .” She smiled widely as her words coaxed a slightly hiccuped laugh out of Clarke.

“Always with the lines, Woods.”

“You love it,” Lexa shot back, allowing her girlfriend a moment to calm herself, rubbing comforting circles on her back. “And Clarke, I’m serious. You and me? We’re forever, niron , until you get sick of me.” Clarke laughed before she kissed Lexa’s cheek.

“Never,” she promised.

“That’s a relief,” Lexa laughed, “because I’m going to marry you one day.”

“Hm, Lexa Griffin does have a nice ring to it.”

“I like Clarke Woods better.”


 

In a blink, graduation was upon them.

It all seemed a bit surreal.

Clarke stared at herself in the mirror, dressed in her Arkadia green graduation gown, which she’d quickly come to associate with Lexa, though the other girl’s eyes were a much prettier shade. Her cap was resting on the table, decorated with the image of two girls in the middle of a flower field, their faces masked by their hair, but easily recognizable. Raven had taken one look at it, titled Clarke an overachiever, and then had gone on to check if she could attach fireworks to her cap.

(Jaha’s answer had been a vehement no , but Clarke didn’t think that her friend would pay much attention to his words. She never had.)

“Clarke, honey, are you almost ready?” she turned at her mother’s words as the older woman entered the bathroom where she was getting ready, and, upon seeing her daughter, tears immediately welled in Abby’s eyes.

“Mom,” Clarke laughed as her mother held her hands up to her mouth, “it’s not even the ceremony yet and you’re already crying.”

“My baby’s all grown up,” Abby defended, voice shaky, “I’m allowed to cry. Oh, look at you, it seems like only yesterday I was taking you home from the hospital. You were so small.” At this point, she looked close to collapsing from the weight of her emotions, so Clarke scooped her mother into a crushing hug.

“I love you mom,” she whispered into Abby’s hair, and the woman gripped her infinitely tighter.

“I love you too, Clarke, so much.”

For a moment, Clarke felt the ghost of a deep, rumbling laugh, the musk of old cologne and the tightness of a second pair of arms around her waist, and she melted further into the hug, a few tears escaping her own eyes. A smile prevailed though, as she hugged her mother tightly, knowing that, somewhere, wherever he was, her father was watching and smiling down at her from his lawnchair, there in spirit.

Likewise, Lexa was in the midst of being coddled by her parents, who were still making up for countless years of absence in the best way they could.

“Oh, darling,” Anastasia cooed, “how far you’ve come.” She and Alexander exchanged a proud glance and Lexa smiled at the two of them, somehow looking like a model in the unflattering graduation gowns.

“Shaping up to be quite the Woods,” Alexander grinned, “we’re proud of you, Lexie.” She smiled up at them, before looking around for her cap. Aden had stolen it a few days prior, claiming Clarke had set him up to the task, and she hadn’t seen it since.

“Aden!” she called out, rapping softly on his door. “Where’s my cap?”

He stepped out of his room, smiling softly.

“I don’t have it,” he quipped, “Clarke said she’d give it to you on the field, it’s a surprise what she painted on it.”

“Well, I’m sure it’ll be fantastic,” Lexa muttered, “Clarke’s art is nothing short of perfection.” She turned to leave, but noticed her little brother’s slight hesitance. “Aden? What’s up, strikbro?”

“It’s just―” he paused, shifting his weight on his legs, eyes fixed firmly on the floor before mumbling something entirely incoherent.

“Come again?” she pried gently.

“I’m gonna miss you,” he repeated, voice small, “when you go to college, that is. California’s pretty far away.” Her eyes narrowed somewhat, wondering who spilled the beans, but Aden continued before she could ask. “You aren’t very sneaky. You left your acceptance letter up on your browser when I was looking for my soccer ball. Don’t worry, I didn’t tell Clarke.”

“I’ll always be a call away,” Lexa promised him, “even if you call me in the middle of an exam, I’ll answer.” In many ways, Lexa had essentially been Aden’s mother in their parents’ absence. Sure, there had been nannies, but they had come and gone, and the only constant in Aden’s life had been his sister.

And now she was leaving.

She hadn’t thought about how much that could affect him.

“Hey,” she kneeled down so she was looking up at him, “you’ll always be a priority to me, right?”

“Yeah,” he laughed, “I’m too awesome to be ignored.”

“You’ve got that right,” she responded, ruffling his hair fondly and, for once, he didn’t protest. “Besides, we’ve got the summer, and now that mom and dad are moving back, hopefully you’ll have a more stable environment.”

“I think I’ll still come over here for dinner, though,” he whispered conspiratorially, “between you and me, mom and dad can’t cook for shit.” Lexa laughed, smiling brightly, and pulled her brother into a hug.

“Truer words have never been spoken, strikbro , now, c’mon, mom wants to take pictures and Anya’s getting fussy.”

In short order, the Woods-Pine clan were en route to Arkadia, the football field already bustling with students milling around, waiting to be lined up for the ceremony. Green eyes scanned the masses, looking for a familiar flash of sunshine-colored hair, but her vision was interrupted by face of perhaps Lexa’s favorite delinquent.

“Woods, fancy seeing you here.”

“Likewise, Murphy.” His green cap was decorated with a giraffe―sans legs, of course, in true Murphy fashion―with the words thank fuck it’s over in elegant calligraphy underneath.

“I see you’re missing your cap,” he pointed out, eyes dancing, “lose it already?”

“I’m too organized to lose things, unlike you,” Lexa huffed, “Clarke has it. Except I can’t seem to find her― oof―” her words cut off as a weight was added suddenly to her back, and she put her arms back to steady the girl, whose legs were already wrapping around her waist.

“Hey.” She grinned when her favorite voice chimed into her ear before her girlfriend pressed a quick kiss there. “I missed you.” Clarke’s steady hands quickly placed Lexa’s fitted cap on her head, though the girl still hadn’t seen it.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, you two saw each other literally yesterday.”

Lexa flipped the boy off in favor of maneuvering Clarke around her so the other girl could give her a proper kiss, and paid little mind to his low-toned threats of sewing their lips shut so they couldn’t participate in their constant public displays of affection.

“There are children here.”

Eventually, they separated, breathless and grinning as Lexa lowered Clarke to the ground gently, and Lexa made quick work of removing the cap from her head, face morphing into a good-natured scowl at the sight of it.

“Really? I thought we were past this.”

“You love it,” Clarke grinned, “besides, you’re my puppy.”

Painted, very clearly, on the top of Lexa’s graduation cap was the easily recognizable form of a golden retriever puppy with a football in its mouth, title easily observable from a distance.

“Airbud, I’d almost forgotten about that.”

“Mention it again and I’ll punch you so hard you’ll forget, Murphy,” Lexa threatened, and he held up his hands in surrender.

“Alright, Airbud.”

Lexa made a lunge for the grinning boy, but was stopped by an equally as amused Clarke.

“No killing Murphy,” she laughed, “I need him in Polis to keep me sane.”

“Not even a little bit?” Lexa pleaded, and Clarke shook her head fondly.

“Not even a little bit.”

Before Lexa could make anymore moves towards Murphy, Jaha made his appearance, corralling students into their alphabetical positions with as little success as one might have imagined.

“Think you’ll be able to survive the hour-or-so separation?” Murphy snarked at the two of them. “There’s a lot of letters between Griffin and Woods , after all.”

“I should have married you already, that way we could be together,” Lexa pointed out, and Murphy let out a long-suffering sigh.

“You two are ridiculous I swear to fuck.”

Regardless, Clarke and Lexa went their separate ways, and the ceremony began.

The march onto the field was slow and maddening. Lexa had walked onto the football field too many times to count, and she noted that the grass felt strange under her feet with the absence of her football cleats. A podium was set up in the center, ready for the speeches, but all Lexa could do was focus on Clarke, countless students ahead of her, but easily recognizable by her keen eyes.

Bellamy, as class president, recited a rather inspiring speech about living life to the fullest extent, and taking full advantage of the moment. Raven cheered loudly for him, earning a sharp scowl from Jaha, though he no longer tried to contain the girl’s antics. His speech was followed by Monty’s, who had―unsurprisingly―earned the title of valedictorian. Lexa looked upon him fondly, having no negative experiences with the quick-witted boy whom she’d almost punched Nathan Miller in the face for once upon a time.

Most of the time, though, she just looked at Clarke, seated many rows in front of her, cap glinting proudly in the fading sunlight.

And then they started calling names.

Niylah’s voice, clear as ever, rang over the football field as countless students headed up to receive their diploma, their time at Arkadia officially coming to a close.

Bellamy Blake .

He grinned with his easy, somewhat boyish charm as he shook Niylah’s hand, and Lexa admitted, silently, to herself, that he wasn’t as bad as she initially thought.

Octavia Blake .

If Raven had cheered loudly for Bellamy, she must have burst several eardrums in her exclamation of affection towards one of her best friends, and the girl bowed dramatically before leaving the stage.

Lincoln Forrest .

Her childhood friend towered over Niylah’s relatively small stature, and the football team cheered loudly for him when he shook hands with Jaha.

Monty Green .

He waved at his friends as he accepted his diploma, and made brief eye contact with Lexa, but the girl’s focus was on the student behind him in procession.

“Clarke Griffin.”

Lexa smiled softly to herself when she heard Aden cheer from the bleachers, eyes glinting with pride as her girlfriend walked up to the podium to receive her diploma. A small frown crossed her face when Clarke, ever the delinquent, leaned in to kiss Niylah swiftly on the cheek when the teacher whispered something in her ear before leaving, eliciting the hoots and hollers of her classmates. She turned around to find Lexa’s familiar green gaze and winked, causing the girl to wish more than ever that her last name and Clarke’s were the same.

The rest of the delinquents made their way forward, scattered amongst countless students that Lexa would never know the names of, each trying to one-up Clarke’s exit in their own way. Jasper accepted his diploma with a fake hand, earning an eyeroll from his teacher, while Raven handed Jaha a bundle of fireworks she’d somehow concealed under her robe, telling him to add her specially made concoctions to the mix.

Murphy, in true Murphy fashion, accepted his diploma before flipping Titus the bird, earning the chuckles of the student body.

And then, finally, after much waiting, it was Lexa’s turn.

“Alexandria Woods.”

She walked up to the podium with her usual commander confidence and accepted her diploma from Niylah with a steady hand, but before she could move on, the english teacher pulled her closer to whisper in her ear.

“Send me an invitation to the wedding.” Her eyes were dancing with amusement, and Lexa grinned at the realization that she had Niylah to thank for her and Clarke’s forced cooperation at the beginning of the year.

“Thank you,” she told her honestly, knowing that the woman would understand the deeper meaning, before she moved on to shake hands with Jaha, who was smiling at her.

And just like that, high school was over.

The marching band gave their last hurrah as Jaha said a few quick words, and the students of Arkadia flung their hats into the air, fireworks exploding with a satisfying boom in the sky, some of Raven’s among the mix.

Through the masses of people, Clarke and Lexa somehow found one another, and Lexa quickly pulled the love of her life close to her chest, capturing her lips in a searing kiss achingly similar to the one they’d shared on the roof at New Years.

In that moment, with Clarke, she was home.


 

After the roar had settled, and the fireworks had dissipated into smoke, and the caps littered the ground, forgotten along with Arkadia High School for many students, it was time to leave.

Most families were intent on celebrating their student’s achievements, which meant fancy dinner, parties, and even vacations for some. The Woods parents had booked a very expensive, private dinner for Lexa, and Clarke knew better than to intrude. It was their time to finally assess what a fine woman Lexa had become. And while Clarke ached to be by Lexa’s side as much as possible, she knew to give them space.

Abby wanted to take her to Jake’s favorite restaurant, where he’d always promised to take Clarke on the eve of her graduation, to listen to their favorite records and let her sneak sips of his drink as they talked about her career, college, and the world ahead of her.

Jake never lived to see this day, but Abby was hellbent on making it happen in his honor, especially seeing as Clarke had been rambling about how he “saw everything from his lawn chair” or some such nonsense.

And so, amidst the clearing crowd, in flowing green gowns and fading voices, Clarke reached out for Lexa’s wrist, pulling her away for a moment to bid her farewell, and that she’d see her tomorrow, if possible. She felt a little pathetic, being so attached to her, but Lexa didn’t seem to mind, so it was a possibility the feelings were reciprocated.

“Hi.” Lexa grinned at Clarke, pulling apart from her posse of family and friends wishing to congratulate their commander (and hopefully buy her friendship and connections in the coming years).

“Hey.” Clarke smiled, though it was a little downcast, and Lexa caught on instantly.

“You ready to go?” Lexa nudged her gently. “Sorry if you’re hungry, I didn’t expect everyone to-”

“Lex.” Clarke shook off her apology. “It’s okay. I’m not coming with you. You guys go on, I just wanted to say goodnight.”

“What?” Lexa wore her best “sad puppy” look, and Clarke’s heart shattered into a million pieces. “What do you mean?”

“You deserve this time with your family.” Clarke smiled supportively. “I want you to really soak up their words, their praise. You deserve it, baby.”

Lexa blinked, pout undeniable. “You’re not getting in the way, Clarke. We love you.”

Clarke laughed gently. “I love you, too. But My mom wants to take me to Dad’s favorite bar, and I just...Don’t want you to have to deal with my emotions tonight, you know? I want you to enjoy yourself with Aden and your parents.”

Lexa pulled Clarke into her arms, tightly securing her there. “Clarke. You know I adore being with you, rain or shine. What’s this about, suddenly?”

Clarke didn’t want to have to tell her that she was trying to slowly distance herself from Lexa. Not in the break-up sort of way, but damn, if Lexa was to live across the country for university, Clarke had to build some sort of defense. Could they go a single night without each other?

“Nothing.” Clarke offered nonchalantly, standing on her tiptoes to lace her arms around Lexa’s neck. “Woods, I love you.”

Lexa picked her up with graceful ease, and Clarke’s legs wrapped around her waist, as she tucked her head in Lexa’s neck.

“Happy graduation.” Lexa murmured, rubbing her back. “Even though you don’t seem so happy.”

“I am. I will be.” Clarke sighed, kissing the soft skin at the base of Lexa’s neck.

“Can I call you tonight?” Lexa asked, her voice tinged with sorrow.

Honestly, it was a few hours apart. But Clarke had grown so dependent on Lexa’s warmth, her love, it just hurt her to be away. But even that wasn’t really it. It was the impending knowledge that a break-up was in the cards. Not for Clarke, of course, only if Lexa grew tired of her.

“Of course.” Clarke squeezed her tighter, and felt Lexa reciprocate.

“Good. I can’t sleep without you. I’ll need to hear your voice.” Lexa charmed her gently, and Clarke tried, desperately, not to cry.


 

The soft kick of the Rolling Stones’ Greatest Hits album hit the air in Jake’s favorite old bar, which appeared to be a looking glass of sorts into his personality -or what it used to be. Old black and white photos hung on the walls, and the unmistakable clatter of resin pool balls being hit echoed in the faded space.

Clarke sat across Abby in a booth, munching on a hamburger she used to adore, and watching her mother’s expressive eyes.

It wasn’t a five star restaurant like Lexa was used to. It was casual, comfortable, fun. It was Jake Griffin. It was Clarke Griffin. And it was one of her last nights to truly soak in Arkadia. The school, the students, the accident, her father, her friends, her enemies, her failures, her successes, and Lexa.

Alexandria Anastasia Woods.

“What’s got you all quiet, baby?” Abby questioned, sipping her beer with a kind expression. “That’s the look I wore when your father asked Aurora Blake out to the dance because he was too shy to ask me.”

Clarke smiled fondly at that, biting into a fry as Abby gently rubbed her arm.

“Well, your face has Alexandria Woods written all over it, honey.” Abby added with a wry smile, watching Clarke blush. “What’s going on with you? I imagined you’d be ecstatic. California, art school, a happy relationship…”

Clarke's little lip bite was the only giveaway, but Abby knew her daughter far too well to miss something, despite it being minute.

“Mom.” Clarke sighed, clasping her hand with Abby’s. She was glad they were able to mend their relationship, now that they’d accepted each other’s significant others with open arms. Granted, Abby was a little fonder of Lexa than Clarke was of Kane, but it was progress nonetheless. “Do you think we should break up?”

Abby nearly coughed out a bite of her salad, and spent the next sixty seconds trying to clear her throat. “Uh...what? You and Lexa?”

Clarke nodded slowly. “...Is this the end?” She asked, a somber tone laced into her tone that had Abby worrying about her daughter more than anything she’d said all year.

“Oh, honey, no.” Abby shook her head quickly, remembering Lexa’s grand romantic plans for Clarke. “Quite the contrary, actually.”

At that, Clarke’s mood visibly shifted, her face became inquisitive. “What do you mean? We’re moving away. Lexa’s this hotshot that everyone wants.”

“And what are you, chopped liver?” Abby snorted.

Clarke rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “I just...I really love her, mom.” Clarke’s whisper was frightened, open and vulnerable to Abby, begging for her counsel. “I don’t like being without her. I don’t like the idea of anyone else getting near her. I just want things to stay the way they are, you know? Is that pathetic? Do I sound pathetic?”

Abby chuckled, a wry smile on her features. “No, honey. You sound lovesick. I was the same way with your father. High school sweethearts just run in our family, baby.”

Clarke smiled weakly. “I’m trying to distance myself. To build a little wall, you know? So it’ll hurt less when we….when she...when it’s all over.” Clarke whispered, her voice barely rising above the new song filtering out of the speakers, sounding suspiciously like “Going to California” by Led Zeppelin, and Clarke had to wonder if maybe Jake was with them in some form.

“Why live in fear?” Abby mused aloud. “You know, when Marcus first came into my life...I was hesitant, to say the least.

“Because-”

“No, not because he was your teacher, smartass.” Abby grinned, and Clarke mirrored her, soul feeling light for a sparing second. “Because I was fearful of getting hurt again. Of that pain. It kept me from being happy. It kept me from enjoying what I could have had, for a little while. And let me tell you, Clarke, there’s no point in passing up one something, or someone you love, in anticipation of something that might never happen. You have to enjoy everything, given the opportunity.”

Clarke nodded slowly, sucking in a breath, trying not to cry. “I didn’t expect you to get so deep.” She chuckled, but it came out as more of a choked laugh.

“Well, I have to impart some knowledge to you before you’re swept away to college.” Abby smiled, tears shining in her eyes. “I’m sure your father would’ve done the same.”

“Yeah.” Clarke nodded. “I...I feel as if I’m leaving him behind, along with Arkadia. I’ve never really left here, since…”

“I know.” Abby sniffled. “But maybe that’s okay, honey. Maybe it’s time to let some things go.”

“Letting go.” Clarke echoed, with a slight nod of her head, tears falling freely as Abby dabbed at them with a napkin, coaxing her into relaxation. She thought of Jake’s promise, that he’d always be with her. She thought of the comfort in the record player back at home, in Lexa’s arms, in his favorite music that seemed to follow her, and she decided that she could pull through, if that was what it took. “I can do that. But...I need something first.”

“What’s that?” Abby asked, quirking a brow in response.

“A tattoo.” Clarke smiled when Abby began choking on her food all over again. “Now.”


 

“Does it hurt?” Abby asked the following morning, watching Clarke prod at the exposed skin of her hipbone, where she’d tied her shirt back with a hair-tie to keep it from touching the sore spot.

“Hmm?” Clarke hummed, absently drinking her orange juice as she glanced lovingly at her hipbone, carefully untying her loose shirt, letting it flow over to hide the scar. “I don’t know.”

Abby snorted, dropping a stack of pancakes onto her plate. “Lovesick.” She murmured, and Clarke smiled fondly, leaning on the table, trying not to stare at her phone.

“You can relax, honey. She’s here.” Abby set the pan down and slung her towel over her shoulder, beating Clarke to the door to open it.

Lexa stood there, looking glorious and goddess-like as ever, wearing a faded band shirt (that was Clarke’s), and some tight, ripped jeans (that Clarke had chosen for her).  Clarke’s mouth watered as she took Lexa in, her high ponytail with stray locks to frame her high cheekbones, pouty lips pulled into a smile as Abby hugged her tightly in greeting.

“Good Morning Abby.” Lexa dipped her head, ever respectful, accepting Abby’s kiss on the head before she was ushered into the kitchen.

“Sit, honey. I made way too many pancakes.” Abby smiled, patting Lexa as she went to grab another dish.

Clarke’s heart thumped in excitement as Lexa approached, and she all but threw herself into Lexa’s arms with renewed vigor from her talk with Abby last night.

Lexa grinned, arms wrapping around Clarke tightly as she leaned down to meet Clarke in a mostly chaste kiss, seeing as Abby was present.

“Hey baby.” Clarke whispered, and Lexa brushed their noses together in response.

“Hey yourself.” She murmured, keeping Clarke in her arms. “How’d last night go?”

“I missed you. But it was good.” Clarke replied, lacing her arm with Lexa, pulling her to sit beside her at the table, Lexa’s arm wrapping comfortably around her as Clarke felt a kiss pressed to her temple, Lexa’s lips lingering.

“Here you go.” Abby smiled, happy to see Clarke so blissfully happy, as only Lexa could make her. She leaned over, depositing a stack of pancakes onto Lexa’s plate. “You two enjoy, I’m going to go get ready to meet Marcus for a jog.” Abby excused herself upstairs, and Clarke immediately stabbed at her pancakes, pushing them against Lexa’s lips with a smile.

Lexa bit down happily, and Clarke had to focus very hard to avoid the butterflies in her stomach at just seeing Lexa smile.

Clarke leaned forward and licked a bit of syrup off Lexa’s lips, wrapping her arms around her neck, clambering into her lap.

“What’s all this special treatment for?” Lexa smirked, running her hand up Clarke’s back.

“I just...last night was a hypothetical taste of life without you. And it sucked.” Clarke sighed, allowing Lexa to hug her tightly.

“Well then, let’s not do that again.” Lexa hummed as if it were the easiest solution in the world.

“But college-” Clarke protested gently.

“And what about it?” Lexa prodded. “We’d still be together.”

“But so many people would want you. I don’t want to hold you back. But I also selfishly want you to be mine.” Clarke’s voice was conflicted.

Lexa smiled, nuzzling the nape of Clarke’s neck. “I am yours.”

“For now.”

“Always.” Lexa corrected. “What did I tell you, on the first night we kissed?”

“...That I could never be just a fling.” Clarke recalled softly.

“And I meant it, Clarke Abigail Griffin.” Lexa whispered. “I’m dedicated to you, one-hundred percent. I’m in love with you. And…” She smirked, nudging Clarke gently. “...I have a surprise for you.”

Clarke glanced up in her own surprise, unable to believe that Lexa could possibly give her anything more. “What? Lex, I didn't get you anything.”

Lexa’s smirk only grew. “That would be the point, Clarke.” She cleared her throat, gently rubbing at Clarke’s side. “My parents are leaving back to Paris in four days.”

Clarke gasped. “Oh, wow babe. I thought they’d stay until you went off to DCU. I’m sorry to hear it.”

Lexa smiled wryly. “I’m not.”

“You’re not?”

“No.” Lexa hummed. “Because I’ll be joining them.”

Clarke froze, leaning back in Lexa’s arms, suddenly stiff as a board. “That’s...great, baby.” She breathed somberly. “For how long?”

“...Three weeks.” Lexa murmured, breathing in the scent of Clarke’s hair.

“Three weeks?” Clarke echoed, feeling hollow inside. Three weeks without Lexa. “Oh.” She tried to mask her pain. She tried to be happy for her girlfriend. But Clarke was terrified. This meant that Lexa truly was starting to let their relationship slip with the new obstacle of college, and specifically, the distance between them.

“You don’t seem ecstatic.” Lexa murmured.

“I am. That’s amazing, Lex. I just...I’ll miss you so much.”

“Even if I hold you every night?” Lexa whispered, and Clarke felt her heart constrict.

“How could you hold me-”

Lexa gently reached into her pocket, pulling out two long, rectangular strips of paper, glossy under the soft morning light of the window.

Clarke eyed them. Two boarding passes to Paris. One for Ms. Clarke Griffin. One for Ms. Alexandria Woods. Right next to each other.

Clarke’s jaw dropped and she made a small, squeaky noise, followed by a gasp, and then a slight choking cough as Lexa soaked it all in, enjoying her flailing.

“You…” Clarke couldn’t speak, she couldn’t find any words.

Of course Lexa would.

“You think I would go anywhere in this world without my best friend?” Lexa asked softly, lips grazing Clarke’s neck. “You think I could go more than a day without you?”

Clarke didn’t realize she had tears in her eyes until Lexa was dabbing at her cheeks, kissing away her tears.

“Oh my god.” Clarke breathed. “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.”

“Lexa will suffice.” Lexa smirked, accepting Clarke’s heated kiss with a smile.

Clarke smacked her arm gently, shaking her head. “I..I can’t afford a hotel, Lex! Even with the scholarship, I have to pay for other things like some housing, and-”

“It’s on my parents.” Lexa interrupted immediately. “You think I’d let you spend a dime?”

Clarke gasped. “I can’t do that! Lexa, baby, this is insane!”

Lexa snorted. “They owe me, they love you, and they can handle it.” She rolled her eyes in obvious disdain, and resumed wrapping herself around Clarke, lips brushing the shell of her ear. “And of course I know I’d love to devour you in our room with a view of the eiffel tower, staying up late and ordering champagne and just...being alone.” Lexa whispered temptingly, biting Clarke’s ear gently.

Clarke shuddered in pleasure at the idea, kissing Lexa’s cheek in acknowledgement. “Aden’s coming too, right?”

Lexa waved Clarke off nonchalantly. “I’m sure. Just, not in our room.”

“You’re awful.” Clarke smirked against her lips, tugging her lower lip into a tender kiss. Lexa could practically feel the excitement buzzing off her girlfriend in waves. She was so happy that she could give that to Clarke.

“Mom!” Clarke hollered from her seat in Lexa’s arms, unwilling to let her go any time soon.

“I know. Your girlfriend notified me beforehand.” Abby called from upstairs, her voice smug as could be.

“You told her first?” Clarke gasped, feigning shock as she turned to Lexa. “My mother and my girl, keeping secrets from me? Abby Griffin and Alexandria Woods?”

“She’s my new best friend. Sorry, Clarke.” Lexa teased, nudging Clarke’s arm. “Finish your pancakes, love. We have a lot of planning to do.”


 

Clarke tapped her foot somewhat nervously on  the floor, hand laced in Lexa’s, as they waited to board their flight.

It wasn’t as though she hadn’t flown before. No, she could clearly remember plane travel throughout her early life when it came time for family vacations until Jake grumbled about a fear of heights and Abby relented and vacations became only driving-distances away. There was just a random, bubbling anxiety in her chest that she couldn’t quite shake, which was all the more irritating because she couldn’t pinpoint the cause.

Sometimes anxiety was like that, though. Random.

Regardless, she didn’t want to cause any trouble for the Woods family, who had been so kind to her already by buying her a plane ticket, so she remained silent.

“Have we ever been to Paris as a family before?”

“Of course we have,” Lexa laughed, “you were just too little to remember.”

“Last time we went with Aden he was just short of two years,” Alexander recounted, “had a monster of a crying fit on the plane, too.”

“The flight attendants were about ready to toss him off,” Ana chuckled, “we wouldn’t let them, though, of course.”

“I don’t know,” Lexa teased, “would’ve saved me a lot of trouble.”

Aden scowled and shoved Lexa’s side and Clarke smiled. Seeing them interact like a normal, healthy family was refreshing, especially since she had been there during Lexa’s dismay at her parents’ constant absence in her life.

“You’ll love Paris, dear,” Ana told her, “all the art, the ambiance of it all, you’ll fit right in.”

“Do you think if I dress up like a mime and follow one around that they’d get annoyed?”

“No son of mine will be dressing like a mime,” Alexander huffed fondly, “and besides, that’s a myth.” Their easy family banter continued as Clarke pressed further into Lexa’s side, drawing warmth from the other girl in the cool airport.

“Ready?” Lexa grinned when boarding was announced, gripping Clarke’s hand tighter.

“Onwards to Paris,” Clarke echoed, before she allowed herself to be lead through to the plane itself.

She’d certainly never flown in such a luxurious aircraft in all her travels.

Of course, she’d have expected nothing less from Alexander and Anastasia Woods, who had their own private jet―which, upon Aden’s excited questioning of whether or not they were going to fly to Paris on the jet, Ana and Alex quickly shut down, citing that the jet was to be used for business purposes only―but it was still somewhat surprising.  

Her attention, however, was quickly nabbed by Aden.

“I call sitting by Clarke.”

Lexa rolled her eyes at the younger Woods sibling at his words, pulling Clarke closer to her on reflex.

“As if, kid. She’s my girlfriend.”

“Exactly! You’re with Clarke literally all the time .”

“And it still isn’t enough,” Lexa murmured into Clarke’s ear, before sticking her tongue out at Aden.

“Stop behaving like a pair of five year olds,” Clarke grinned, “I’ll sit in the middle, alright? Compromise is key.”

Aden then quickly attempted to claim the rights to the window seat, but Lexa shut him down under the pretense that he’d be sleeping throughout the entire flight as it was, and therefore didn’t need to have access to the window.

Clarke shifted in her seat somewhat uneasily as they prepared for takeoff, and Lexa began to rub soothing circles on her soft skin.

“Hey,” she whispered, “it’s alright, Clarke, we’re good.”

She nodded, though her grip on Lexa’s hand tightened as they rose rapidly into the sky, the sight of their homes, the airport, and Arkadia, quickly fading to nothing but dots in her vision.


 

Clarke was running her hand through Lexa’s hair as she leaned on her shoulder, anxiety eased, as usual, by Lexa’s embrace, and of course Aden’s head touching her other arm as he softly snoozed on his sister’s girlfriend.

Lexa nudged her champagne glass in Clarke’s direction, smirking when Clarke glanced up in surprise.

“I love the drinking age of literally everywhere else.” Lexa murmured, and Clarke smiled, but she didn’t reach forward to take a sip.

“What’s wrong?” Lexa frowned.

“I can’t move.” Clarke admitted in a soft whisper, jerking her head in Aden’s direction.

Lexa wore a wry smile. “Kid sleeps like a rock, Clarke. You can relax.”

Clarke smiled when Lexa leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her temple, and Clarke very gently moved her free hand to sit in Lexa’s lap, drawing circles on her thigh, appreciating the way Lexa’s abs constricted against her tank top as she drew in a breath.

“I love you.” Clarke murmured, and Lexa leaned in for a kiss, tasting like champagne and smiles.

“I love you more.” Lexa hummed, cocking a perfectly shaped brow when Clarke’s fingers dipped into Lexa’s inner thigh, rubbing tight, mocking circles.

“Is that a challenge, Griffin?” Lexa growled in a soft tone.

Clarke smirked. “I want you, Lexa. Don’t tell me you haven’t been dreaming about this ever since you got the tickets. And Aden’s asleep, now.”

Lexa’s jaw dropped. “You’re quite forward.” She clucked, leaning forward, lips grazing Clarke’s jaw, but drew apart as a flight attendant passed.

“Miss Woods?” The flight attendant asked, seemingly remembering Lexa’s name and status, as the three of them and perhaps two other people were in the largely empty first class section. “May I get that out of the way for you?”

“Yes, thank you.” Lexa handed the now empty glass to the stewardess.

“You two make a beautiful couple.” She praised as she politely took the flute away, disappearing behind the drawn partition.

“Thanks.” Clarke murmured, mostly to herself, as she wore a smile, heart fluttering.

“You’re the beauty. I just complete the “couple” part.” Lexa smirked, pressing another kiss to Clarke’s cheek, grazing the corner of her mouth.

“Right, yeah, you’re certainly not the hot one.” Clarke tsked, and Lexa chuckled against her. “Now, what did you say about the mile high club?” Clarke smirked.

“It’s unsanitary.” Lexa teased.

“So that’s a no?”

“Oh, I can pick you up, love.” Lexa smirked, sucking gently on Clarke’s bottom lip.

“Then fine.” Clarke smirked into her lips. “Take me, Commander.”

“I thought you’d never ask.” Lexa grinned as she unbuckled her seatbelt, stretching to show a hint of her abs, making Clarke drool in anticipation. “Oh, look, you’re stuck.” Lexa teased, motioning to Aden.

Clarke pouted, using her cute face to her advantage. “Baby. Help me.”

Lexa melted almost instantly, reaching for a pillow, laying it behind Aden’s head as she reclined his seat at the touch of the button, marveling at the luxuries of first class.

Slowly, she tilted his head off of Clarke’s arm and onto the pillow, turning to Clarke with a triumphant smile.

“Thank you.” Clarke leaned forward, hugging her midsection,

Lexa gently ran a hand through Clarke’s hair, and it seemed to trigger something within her as she purred gently, using Lexa to pull herself up.

“I need you now.” Clarke groaned in her ear, and Lexa ran a gentle hand on the small of her back.

“Your wish is my command.” Lexa smirked, voice low and throaty.

When the two stumbled back out, brushing back stray hairs with their fingers, faces reddened, grins on their faces, they heard the telltale sound of the seatbelt sign.

“You want to switch seats with me?” Lexa prodded gently. “To look out the window?”

Clarke nodded sheepishly, and Lexa smiled in response, switching with Clarke as she leaned over, lifting her arm around her girlfriend as she pressed a kiss to her head.

“You ready for a vacation, Clarke? I think we deserve one, after this year.”  


 

Paris was supposed to be the city of love. And in many senses, it was. The lively streets, the city lights, the life that poured out of every crack and crevice on every walk Clarke took.

But, cliche as it was, Clarke felt that simply being with Lexa made wherever they were, a city of love. It was that simple. Loving Lexa was like wearing rose tinted lenses that illuminated the world in the softest hues of a dusky sunset. Wherever Lexa was, if Clarke was by her side, she was happy.

But that didn’t mean Lexa wasn’t trying her absolute best to give Clarke the most wonderful time of her life.

Lexa’s parents had booked them in one of the priciest hotels Clarke had ever seen, the kind her father used to stay at on long business trips. It was luxurious and opulent, and everything Clarke had come to expect from Lexa.

The first day was mostly jetlag.

Aden had stumbled into his own room to sleep, and Clarke and Lexa had moved into their suite, much to Clarke’s amazement.

The first week was spent, for Clarke and Lexa, mostly in the confines of the hotel room.

Yes, they had a gorgeous city to behold, to soak in and enjoy.

But they were also incredibly horny, naive teenagers, who were also incredibly in love. And with the softest luxury robes and a bath big enough for a handful of couples, they decided that they had a few of their own records to break.

Much to Lexa’s disappointment, the Four Seasons seemed to have sturdier bed frames than the cheaper hotel they’d stayed in for prom.

The second week was slower, sweeter, and breathtaking. Clarke took endless photos of Lexa, from her grinning at Clarke and blowing kisses to the camera, with enamored onlookers soaking in her beauty as well.

Lexa took her to the louvre, wrapped her arms around Clarke from behind, while she stared at some portrait painted well over a century ago, and whispered, “I think they’d be honored to have your work in here someday.”

The days filtered by, each more romantic than the last.

Clarke was amazed when Lexa spoke to their waiter in french, though perhaps not fluent, certainly something she’d picked up from her mother well enough.

Lexa seemed to notice Clarke’s fascination, and that night, whispered to her in french under a much, much different setting.

Lexa took her to see the sights, her parents’ office being one of them. Clarke got to see Lexa handle her own set of tasks, and she fell in love with the faint idea of Lexa coming home to her after a long day of work and settling down for dinner.

Lexa pampered her with dinners and desserts, and kissed her in the most cliche, corny way atop the eiffel tower, while Aden snapped a picture that would later become one of their favorites.

Lexa, Lexa, Lexa. Everything was Alexandria Anastasia Woods, and Clarke had never been more in love.

It was some of the greatest few weeks of her life.


 

Though there were still months yet before Clarke needed to move her things across the country for her journey to Polis University, she’d already begun packing, and had enlisted the help of her ever-willing girlfriend in this endeavor.

“We can pack away all my old sketchbooks,” Clarke told her, motioning to a shelf filled with completed books marked cover-to-cover in drawings, “seeing as I’ve already been accepted on the art scholarship and won’t need anything to put in portfolios anymore.”

“I’ll do that,” Lexa agreed, pressing a quick kiss to Clarke’s forehead.

“Great!” Clarke grinned at her girlfriend. “I’ll be in my room purging, it’s been forever since I’ve cleaned out all the useless junk there.”

“It’s even worse than Aden’s room,” Lexa teased, “and that’s saying something, seeing as his room is a black hole of useless knick knacks he’s collected.”

“Watch your tone, Woods,” Clarke called over her shoulder, “or I’ll make you clean the bathrooms.”

Her threat had no real meaning behind it, though, so Lexa busied herself with snooping through Clarke’s sketchbooks before putting them in the cardboard box she’d been presented with, taking time at each drawing to marvel at the sheer talent of the girl in the other room.

The majority of the pages were filled with profiles of the delinquents, obviously work from earlier on in the year. The sharp angles of Murphy’s jaw, the soft slope of Raven’s eyes, Octavia’s long, braided hair. As she delved into sketchbooks from later on, however, Lexa smiled when she saw her own features being added to the mix.

There were several pages just dedicated to her eyes.

Lexa hadn’t ever thought much of them, but Clarke seemed to have had quite the obsession. Pages upon pages of just eyes, each colored a slightly different shade of green, as though Clarke couldn’t make up her mind on what color they were exactly . Even Lexa herself wasn’t sure.

It was almost possible to mark the progression of their relationship from the sketchbooks in her hands.

The flower field soon began to make an appearance, two huddled forms leaning into one another for support as they stared out into the distance. As Lexa traced her fingers over the outline of herself, she realized that she and Clarke had been in love for far longer than either of them admitted openly.

Lexa had never been one to believe in fate, or destiny, or soulmates.

While her parents were doubtlessly in love, there were moments in which she felt they treated their marriage, as well as their family, as more of a business than was healthy. She’d grown up with them as her main example of a properly-functioning couple, and the two cut-throat executives left much to be desired in the romance department. Likewise, her aunt and uncle, while affectionate, were still distant with one another most of the time, with two quiet personalities that often resulted in silence, which a younger Lexa had perceived as unhappiness.

For a while, she’d thrown herself into romance novels, trying to understand, at the core, what love was and how it affected people. As she came to grips with herself, and her own sexuality, she strayed further and further away from those books, somehow equating the heteronormativity of it all with the fact that she, herself, would never have a relationship worth writing about. Those stories were the work of fiction only.

But where she was now, with Clarke, made Lexa feel like a child again, gleefully consuming books by candlelight, dreaming of a prince (or rather, princess) to sweep her off her feet. Only now, Lexa had found the ever-unattainable “ one” , the person she wished to spend every waking moment of her time with. Her lover. Her best friend.

Her soulmate.

And, inexplicably, her fingers itched to write.

While she’d often dabbled in poetry in the past, there was something about Clarke that fueled the author in Lexa, made her want to dedicate entire essays and novels on the concept of love in its entirety, how it made her chest bubble and overflow with hope, how it could breathe life into an angry shell of a girl.

Clarke made her want to be better, not just for the other girl, but for herself as well.

A small smile graced Lexa’s face as she neared the most recent sketchbook, adorned with drawings of elegant white wedding gowns and intricate floral bouquets. She’d suspected she’d find something like this in Clarke’s work after the many times they’d discussed, sometimes jokingly, sometimes not, their future “hypothetical” marriage. It wouldn’t be hypothetical if Lexa had anything to say about it.

As she flipped through pages of dresses, Lexa couldn’t help but imagine it all.

The thought of marrying someone would send most high schoolers into a blind panic, but for Lexa, it felt like a wonderful, attainable dream. She could easily visualize herself standing at the altar as Clarke walked down, in all her ethereal glory, to meet her.

When she turned the page again, expecting nothing more than more wedding drawings, her breath caught in her throat.

“Clarke?”

Her voice came out as more of a strangled whisper than anything, and she was surprised that Clarke even heard her, but barely a few moments passed before the blonde was exiting her room to see what her girlfriend was talking about.

“Lexa? What are you-- oh.

Emerald green eyes were fixated on the sketches on the page in front of her, and Clarke shifted nervously from foot to foot.

“I know it’s kinda weird,” Clarke said, “and it’s probably much too ear--”

“They should have your eyes.” Lexa cut her off abruptly.

“What?”

“They should have your eyes,” Lexa repeated forcefully, looking up at Clarke with wonder in her own, “they’re a much nicer color.”

Scattered across the pages were dozens of sketches of children, in all different ages. Cute little boys with curly blonde hair and little girls with brunette ringlets. Their faces varied in structure, with cute little noses and rosy baby cheeks, but the common factor among all of them was their eyes. Lexa’s eyes. Green and vibrant and so filled with life.

“You...” Clarke started, “this doesn’t weird you out?”

“Why would it?” Lexa exhaled breathlessly, eyes still busy soaking in every potential child Clarke could have imagined. “Clarke, these are wonderful.”

“Yeah, but most high school couples aren’t thinking about children.”

“Clarke, I would love nothing more than to be married to you in a big house on a hill with a small brood of children, a dog, and a cat,” Lexa assured her, pulling her girlfriend towards her, grinning. “In fact, I’d like that right now.”

“Lexa,” Clarke laughed, “that’s not genetically possible right now, and we have college--”

“Screw college,” Lexa told her reverently, “I’m so in love with you, Clarke.” With another look at the pictures, Lexa pulled Clarke towards her, peppering kisses all over her girlfriend’s face, resulting in Clarke’s furious giggles. Lexa moved her kisses down Clarke’s neck, fingers tracing down her sensitive sides, and she lifted the bottom of Clarke’s shirt gently, pressing soft, tender kisses to the other girl’s stomach.

“Lex,” Clarke giggled, “baby, there’s nothing there.”

“Not yet,” Lexa said in between kisses, “but someday there will be.”

“How many kids do you want?” Clarke asked, curled into her girlfriend’s side.

“Thirteen,” Lexa responded immediately with a wide grin, her favorite number. Clarke’s eyes narrowed when she turned to observe the other girl.

“Lexa, there is no way in hell I’m pushing thirteen babies out of me,” she chided, “think about how many months of pregnancy that would be, no thank you.” Lexa frowned, though she wasn’t entirely deterred.

“Seven?”

“I think two would suffice, babe.”

“Five?”

Lexa , we’d be outnumbered. Two.”

“...four?” she pleaded, eyes wide, and Clarke sighed.

“Three, that’s my cap.” Lexa grinned, her hand finding a resting place on Clarke’s stomach, as though she was willing children to grow there already.

“Boys or girls?” Lexa asked, lost in the fantasy of it all.

“All girls,” Clarke responded immediately, “much easier to manage.”

“All girls? Can’t we have at least one boy?” Lexa pleaded. “A big brother for his little sisters? Or a baby boy?”

“Hopefully we don’t have more than one boy,” Clarke laughed, “seeing as he’ll have your stubbornness and accident-prone behaviors.”

“Have you thought of any names?”

“Well, we’ll have to name one of our daughters after you,” Clarke grinned, “maybe Alexandra.”

“Please tell me we aren’t continuing the A-name legacy of my family,” Lexa pleaded, “I don’t think I’ll be able to handle welcoming anymore people with the name A. Woods into the world.”

“Only the one,” Clarke promised, “though I’m also really fond of the names Elizabeth and Darcy.” Lexa narrowed her eyes and Clarke laughed.

“Naming children after Pride and Prejudice, Clarke? Really?”

“What?” she defended. “They’re good names.”

“And for boys? I personally like Oliver, or maybe Benjamin.”

“Or Nathaniel.”

“How about Jake?” Lexa asked, suddenly, and Clarke quieted. “Clarke?”

Lexa’s eyes filled with concern when she noticed that Clarke’s were filled with unshed tears, and pulled her closer to her.

“I just wish he was here to meet you,” Clarke told her sadly, “he’d have loved you, and how good you are to me.”

“He sounds like a great man,” Lexa agreed, “I would have loved to have been able to meet him.”

“Jake,” Clarke repeated again, “it’s a good name, isn’t it? Jake Woods.”

Lexa hummed in agreement, resting her head in Clarke’s neck as they stayed there, sprawled across the floor. They fell asleep thinking about the patter of little feet against hardwood floors, laughter echoing through the halls of a home filled to the brim with life and love.


 

“I can’t believe you have to leave early.” Clarke breathed for the billionth time into Lexa’s neck, the two of them cuddled on Clarke’s bed, all tanned and relaxed from their trip.

But of course, the happiness could never stay. Reality, cold and steely, with a grip like a vice, had to resurface and choke the happiness out of what had been a calm moment.

“I know.” Lexa murmured, Clarke wrapped tightly against her chest, ear listening to the thrumming of Lexa’s heart. “But it’ll give me a chance to settle.”

“You were going to come to Polis with me tomorrow.” Clarke spoke, voice cracking, and Lexa knew she was on the verge of tears. She’d held out this long. Just one more day, and her months of planning would come to fruition.

“I know, love. I was called in early for a sports orientation.” Lexa reiterated her lie softly, kissing Clarke’s head afterwards to make the sentiment doubly sweet. “But I’ll fly out and visit you during your syllabus week. I’ll take you out. You can show me everything.”

“This is pathetic, right?” Clarke snorted, tears staining Lexa’s shirt as her girlfriend rubbed her back. “We’re going to be apart for what, three weeks? Maybe a tiny bit more? And I can’t even let go.”

“Hey.” Lexa frowned, resting her head atop Clarke’s. “Don’t say that. It’s not pathetic. I feel just the same.”

Clarke relaxed in Lexa’s arms, breathing in the scent of her perfume, savoring every spicy note she could distinguish, hoping it would last forever.

“You won’t forget us?”

“Clarke, how could I forget the person I love most?”

“You’ll call?”

“And text. And facetime. And handwrite you letters.” Lexa teased, trying to lighten Clarke’s mood.

Clarke wasn’t in her right mind, else she would’ve questioned why Lexa wasn’t nearly as upset as she should have been. But the sadness was addling her mind. And the impending thoughts of her leaving to California to move in the next day, of course. She had her hands full.

Lexa glanced at the elegant watch on her wrist, rising.

“Oh, no.” Clarke muttered, squeezing her tighter. “Not yet.”

“I have to go, Clarke.” Lexa whispered. “Just for a little while, I promise.”

“Lex.” Clarke choked back a sob, leaning up to kiss her, ignoring the tears streaming down her face.

“It’s alright.” Lexa smiled comfortingly against her lips. “You’re gonna be alright, Clarke.”

“I sure hope so. You turned me into this sobbing wreck.” Clarke muttered as Lexa kissed away her tears, chuckling all the while.

Clarke slowly followed Lexa to the front door, where Abby was waiting.

Everything felt like it was in slow motion.

Abby’s kiss and farewell to Lexa.

Lexa turning and lifting Clarke, kissing every inch of her face with an innocent, watery smile as Clarke clung to her for dear life.

Abby pulling Clarke off with an amused look as Lexa gave Clarke a final wink and turned, trying to ignore the intense heartache she felt at leaving her girlfriend in that state, with her final whisper of “may we meet again….soon.”

Time didn’t ever resume for Clarke.

In fact, it slowed, and slowed.

That night, she didn’t sleep at all. She tossed and turned, inhaling Lexa’s unique scent of perfume and shampoo on her pillow as she cried gently, trying to be stronger than she felt she was.

Time did not resume when Clarke got onto the plane the following morning, barely at dawn, shooting Lexa a text of a quick “Good morning, I love you” and wishing her a safe drive.

Lexa sent her a photo of herself and her parents in the car, her parents smiling while Lexa blew her a kiss.

Clarke’s heart ached when she saw those lips, Lexa’s sharp inquisitive gaze, even the tiny freckle on her lip.

Her heart ached for Lexa.

And yes, while it had only been a few hours apart, Clarke’s brain couldn’t lie to itself. It knew that practically a month would pass before she’d see her girlfriend again. And that was what killed her.

In fact, Clarke was so out of it, that Abby was slightly concerned.

“Clarke, honey?” Abby asked as she pulled the rental car to the front curb of the student drop-off zone, where hundreds of freshmen were moving in, taking the beating of the hot august sun.

“Yeah?” Clarke blinked wearily.

“I’m going to go back to the hotel, and work out my stay. Once you’ve figured out your rooming situation, give me a call, and I’ll bring your immediate belongings. Remember, your things won’t arrive for another few days, so when you’re negotiating for closet space, don’t-”

Clarke smirked, rolling her eyes. “Don’t underestimate how much I’ll need. Thanks mom, I got it.”

Abby’s eyes glimmered with pride. “I’m so proud of you, baby. My little girl, moving into her dorm. Ugh, god, what a day!”

“Bye, mom.” Clarke smiled as she waved her phone, indicating that she’d call later.

Abby grinned as she pulled out of the carpool lane and turned around, leaving Clarke by herself on campus, with absolutely no sense of what to do.

Okay, no problem.

Clarke tried to ignore the tugging feeling in her gut, for her best friend. Of course Lexa would be leading her, if she were there, holding her hand and tugging her towards the football stadium, neglecting their duties in exchange for some adventure.

God, she missed her already.

‘Okay, get it together, Griffin. This is pathetic. You always have, and you always can take care of yourself. Now get to the housing office, and let’s figure out where you’re going to be living for the next year.’

Clarke gave herself, and her inner thoughts, a firm nod as she made her way for the large office building towards the side of the path she was walking on. She took some time to take in the faces: No Murphy, Luna, or any other familiar faces yet. She had yet to reach out to them.

She needed to do this alone. To prove her self-sufficiency to, well, herself.

She took the time while she was strolling to eye the sights, curious as to what kind of people the prestigious Polis University housed.

And damn, she wasn’t disappointed. Guys and girls surrounded her, some of them absolutely picturesque in their beauty, sending a few glances her way, smiling in a friendly manner, others smirking in a more suggestive tone.

But none of them held a candle to her girlfriend. She turned on her phone, and while the screen adjusted to the blazing brightness of the outside exposure, Clarke’s heart warmed when she saw Lexa’s face, smiling adorably back at her, her favorite screensaver ever.

Clarke took a breath, and with renewed vigor, set off to enter the building, greeted by a gust of cold air as she flicked her gaze up to a row of computers, with a crafty sign that read: Freshmen! Enter student ID and name here to receive housing if you haven’t done so already via email!

Clarke smiled to herself. Step one, check. How hard could the rest of it be?


 

Very hard, apparently. Clarke had entered her name and ID approximately seventy-two times, and yet, she was getting the same incorrect result.

Apartment housing. The really expensive apartment complex that sat at the top of the hill that overlooked the campus and the city. The one that she couldn’t even think about affording.

Apparently, she’d booked an apartment with some random, nameless senior.

And all of her incoming mail had been forwarded there, as a result.

No orientation packets, no map, no personalized schedule- nothing, until she went up that godforsaken hill and retrieved it herself, from her anonymous roommate, who was probably expecting her to pay rent or something sketchy like that.

Of course her life had to be this hard.

“So what you do is, see that shuttle over there?” A counselor pointed to the vehicle in question, engine whirring as it sat at a stop along the carpool lane. “You take that, it’ll drop you off right at the apartments. Yours is, apparently, number thirteen. You get your belongings from the mailbox, and report here. We’ll get you sorted immediately.”

Clarke gaped on. “Are you serious?”

The counselor hardly looked apologetic. “I’m sorry, Ms...Griffin. You must not have filled out the housing application properly. This is not the school’s fault, and the system isn’t known to make errors.”

Clarke scoffed, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. “Fucking perfect.” She muttered to herself as she stalked off in the direction of the shuttle, glancing at her phone.

No . No messages from Lexa,  or her mother, or anyone else.

It was just her, and her alone, and she could do this.

She stepped into the shuttle, clutching the one empty notebook the counselor had given her to hold her papers when she received them.

Abby was right. What a fucking day indeed.


 

The shuttle ride was hot, sweaty, and just a little disgusting. The apartment complex was the opposite. Brand new and cool, and oh so painfully out of Clarke’s budget.

She’d accepted that she was going to live in a cramped two or three person dorm room with very little breathing room. She didn’t know what kind of tycoon could afford such a nice living arrangement, but it sure wasn’t someone Clarke knew.

For a moment, she took in the fountain in front, the elegant palm trees swaying by the building.

At least the journey to her mail was going to be tasteful.

Clarke bit her lip, eyes falling on the spiral staircase that led to the second floor, where her unlucky room thirteen was waiting.

Clarke ascended the steps slowly, wondering what kind of girl she’d find inside. Maybe it was all some mistake, and she was supposed to live with some graduate student by accident? She hoped that her mail would be sitting by the slit near the door, by some miracle, so she could return to her side of campus and settle in the shitty nest of building that passed for a dormitory.

Clarke continued down the upper hallway, feeling the hot wind kiss her face as she laid eyes on door thirteen, the last in its row.

No mail on the doormat, dammit.

Clarke sighed, taking a moment to fix her hair in the covered window of one of the nearby apartments. She could at least look presentable if she was going to knock on some graduate student’s door and demand her freshmen mail, right?

Clarke took a breath, stepped on the mat, and knocked.

Once, twice, three times.

There was a beat. A pause, where nothing but Clarke’s heartbeat filled the void.

And then the door was swinging open, a very, very, very familiar face smirking cockily, leaning against the doorframe.

And then, she actually saw Lexa Woods for the first time.

It wasn’t life shattering, or anything like that.

It wasn’t like time froze.

It wasn’t as if the fluorescent class lights revealed a goddess, with brown locks framing a chiseled, angelic face.  

Memories of their first meeting flooded Clarke’s mind, and all she could think about was Lexa, and the year they spent getting to know each other, loving each other, worshipping each other.

Clarke gasped, body going rigid with shock as she took in the brunette locks, those full lips pulled into an arrogant smirk, those tight, muscled arms leaning against the doorway.

In fact, Clarke was so stunned that she dropped the notebook she’d been carrying.

Ever the gentlewoman, Lexa bent over, reaching for the notebook as she gazed up at Clarke with the most loving, affectionate gaze.

Clarke heard her utter a single question before she launched herself into her girlfriend’s arms, tears welling in her cobalt gaze as she realized all that Lexa had done for her.

One question that began everything.

“You dropped this?”

Lexa was grinning against Clarke's flurry of sobs and kisses as she hoisted her up, Clarke's legs wrapping around her waist as she slammed the door behind her.

“Welcome home, Clarke.”