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the business of caring

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+++

 

Lexa startled awake, looking around wildly for a moment while her eyes tried to adjust to the dark. All she managed to bring into focus were a bunch of freeloading plants and the ghastly image of her own work uniform hanging on the back of a chair. There was a solid moment when Lexa thought she was seeing the ghost of her own sad life trying to throw in the goddamn towel across some stranger’s chair.

False alarm. This time.

“What’s wrong?” Clarke slurred, pushing up on her elbows to squint around her room. “What time is it?”

Lexa tore her eyes away from her empty depression vessel across the room and flopped back against the pillows. “Dunno. Don’t care.” It was kind of disturbing to her that she’d had the natural inclination to retrieve her work uniform from the floor and hang it up even after all…that.

“Then why did you wake up?” Clarke grumbled, slinging an arm across Lexa’s stomach and burrowing back under the blankets.

“I don’t know, why do you feel the need to sing that stupid jingle from the gum commercials in the shower?”

“Wow.”

Lexa sighed and pulled a hand across her drooping eyelids. “Ugh, sorry. That song is criminally catchy; it’s not your fault. I’m pretty sure I just had a dream that they wouldn’t let me start academy until I adopted a child so I ordered one on eBay, but when it came in the mail it was Reyes.”

“Holy shit.”

Despite the lingering horror, the corner of Lexa’s mouth pulled up and she pressed a tired kiss to the top of Clarke’s head. “Think it means something?”

Clarke laughed quietly. “God I hope not. But we need to address your understanding of where babies come from – not that I don’t fully condone the idea that Raven was created in a factory.” Lexa had just started getting her heart rate under control from her sudden, startling return to consciousness when Clarke thought it would be acceptable to kiss her neck and drag a finger lightly down her ribs. “I mean, we could address it now if you’d like.”

“I think we addressed it plenty before bed…but like, in a gay way that doesn’t actually address it at all.” Lexa frowned up at the ceiling fan while Clarke continued drawing patterns on her ribs with her fingers. “I think I’m losing a handle on our euphemisms for sex here, but if Reyes shows up tomorrow in a FedEx truck, I blame you.”

“I’m like, 86% sure she won’t,” Clarke said like that was any kind of reassurance. When safeguarding against Raven Reyes, Lexa required 100% assurance. Nothing less would allow her to sleep soundly. She pressed another kiss against Lexa’s neck that turned into an unmistakable grin. “Want to ‘address it’ again anyways? Jake’s asleep on the couch, so he won’t make it weird.”

While sorely tempting, Lexa felt sleep tugging heavily on her eyes and her brain. “First off, please don’t mention your father and proposition me for sex in the same breath. You made it weird. And second, I’m too worn out. I’m pretty sure you threw my back out earlier. Not complaining here – but I don’t bend that way.”

"I hardly bent you!"

Lexa shook her head. "No, no. I don't bend at all. I have roughly the flexibility of a diving board."

Clarke laughed sleepily into her neck. “God, you’re so old, Lex.”

“Yeah, it happens with the rhythmic revolution of our planet through the solar system, sweetheart.” Lexa was used to jabs at her lack of character and general lethargy about anything exciting, but Clarke was the only one who could say it in a way that didn’t sound insulting. Apparently that sort of thing just did it for her. Or maybe being insulted by Clarke was just one of those things. And by ‘one of those things’, Lexa meant something she had neither the narrative prowess nor the energy to explain.

“I fell in love with such an old person.”

The words twisted their way between Lexa's ribs and sunk in the cavity of her chest, warm and comfortable and just a tad bit scary. But in a good way. She took a deep breath in, held it for a beat, then released it, watching Clarke rise and fall against her chest. By the time she had released that one breath, the fear pattered out to nothing but easy comfort and a pleasant sense of inevitability.

Turning her head to press her nose into Clarke’s hair, Lexa rolled her eyes.“That’s your own damn fault.”

(And it was, really. Clarke was supposed to be the smart one.)

Clarke didn’t contest that, but rather tightened her hold on her and laughed quietly to herself. “Did you catch that? How I casually slipped that in during clever banter so it wasn’t a big deal?”

Clarke could have locked herself in a concrete bunker and thought it halfway across the ocean and Lexa probably would have caught it.

“It was a little contrived.”

Clarke shrugged, her shoulder nudging into Lexa’s side, but otherwise didn’t contest it. That would have been a good time for Lexa to provide some form of validation for Clarke’s spontaneous confession, but words were, as always, extremely difficult and hard to put together in completely not-awful ways. Every combination of words in her head sounded stupid and clunky and awkward, so she kept her teeth clamped together and leveled a frustrated look at the ceiling fan.

Words were awful.

“Uh, you too,” Lexa forced out.

In the great, sweeping, romantic ballads and flowery poems of history, painting galaxies of soulmates and gut-wrenching love, a monument stood in the tumbling ivy and sprawling meadows of flowers of the most beautiful place in the universe carved in marbel and proudly declaring the world’s most romantic declaration: ‘Uh, you too’.

Fucking Christ.

Clarke must have been on the verge of sleep again, because her words were slow and confused. “Huh? I’m contrived?”

“No, that’s – that’s not what I meant. I mean the other stuff.”

“Right,” Clarke murmured absently. There was no recognition, though – she sounded too tired to care what Lexa was trying to piece together.

“I mean…fuck.”

“Sure.”

Lexa groaned and gave the ceiling fan another glare. “How is it still this difficult to talk to you?” Clarke made a vague noise to indicate she wasn’t completely unconscious, but she was fading fast. “What I mean – I guess I mean that I’m glad I’m here. With you. So, uh, thanks for that.”

An addendum to history’s monument to romance: ‘thanks for that’.

Honestly.

“You got it, champ,” Clarke slurred.

Eh, close enough.

There was plenty of time for them to figure out less horrible ways to be sincere later on. Clarke was already asleep anyways and Lexa was tired of glaring at the ceiling fan. Was she delaying the inevitable? A little bit. Could it be proven in a court of law in front of a jury of her peers? Well…probably. She’d take her chances either way.

Her consciousness was slipping, tugged under the thick waves of sleep close behind Clarke’s own when a loud rumble shook the glass panes of Clarke’s bedroom window. It was a rolling sort of thunder – grumbling and groaning in decreasing and increasing frequency without any clear beginning or end. In her sleepy haze, Lexa hadn’t even noticed the rain pinging off the window and slapping into puddles around the building’s badly irrigated landscape.

Like pulling her feet out of quicksand, Lexa propped her eyelids open and turned to watch lightning flash in blinking patterns across the thick, dark sky. She smiled sleepily at the sight before releasing her hold on Clarke to roll over on her stomach and watch the storm as it rumbled by the window next to her side of the mattress.

Lexa’s father used to tell her it was giants fighting in the clouds. Honestly she was pretty sure he had stolen that from one of their awkward parenting books, but it takes very little for children to find magic in their parents. To everyone’s amusement, Lexa had asked her uncle Gustus at the next family holiday if he was one of the fighting giants. It was cute at the time, probably, but now it was just fuel for annoying uncle jokes. Every time it stormed, Gus felt the burning need to tell her that he was ‘a lover not a fighter’. Goddamn uncles.

“Clarke,” she whispered, reaching blindly back to poke at her side. “Clarke, wake up.”

Clarke did no such thing. Instead, she groaned and flopped over even further away from Lexa, tugging the blankets with her. Lexa rolled her eyes and slapped blindly at Clarke’s body. “Wake up!” She hissed.

“Fuckin’.” Clarke rolled back over, wrapping herself in the blankets so Lexa was left out in the cold. “What?”

Lexa propped her chin on one of her hands. “It’s storming. And stop taking all the blankets.”

The mattress jostled and dipped as Clarke extricated herself from the tangled mess of sheets and limbs. Even though she was facing the window, Lexa could feel Clarke sit up as she huffed irritably. The girl took a few minutes to wake up enough to converse, but when she did, it absolutely did not disappoint.

“Hehe, you’re naked,” Clarke sang, drunk off sleep.

What Lexa wanted to do was roll her eyes, but what she ended up doing was laughing. “You are too, dumbass.”

“Uh, huh.” She watched Clarke rub at her eyes in the faint reflection from the window. “Yeah. Yeah, alright.”

“It’s storming,” Lexa repeated. “Don’t you like storms?”

Clarke yawned and threw one end of the blankets over Lexa’s exposed waist before crawling over to get a better view of the window. She hauled her upper body over Lexa’s back, digging her elbows into Lexa’s spine in her attempt to see better.

“You’re killing me,” Lexa wheezed.

“Sorry.” After a moment, Clarke relented and pried her elbows out of Lexa’s bruised flesh. Her compromise was to flop down over Lexa’s back so they could both have the best view of the lone window in the bedroom. They shifted a bit to get more comfortable, swiping each other’s hair out of their faces and laughing at the mess of it all. Eventually, they settled.

“Am I too heavy?” Clarke whispered, tapping a finger on Lexa’s shoulder.

“Nope.”

Clarke placed a light kiss where her finger had tapped and fell silent again. The storm rolled through slowly – a consistent rain and steady thunder pulling along the skyline like it was content never to pass over. Silence stretched between them, snug and comfortable in the small bedroom while tiny flashes of heat lightening illuminated the plants and pictures all along the walls and desk. Lexa felt full. Good. Happy, content, and ready.

“Hey,” she whispered, reaching up to snag a lock of blonde hair that had fallen over her shoulder. “I wanted to tell you something.”

Clarke pressed her cheek against Lexa’s back and hummed. “What’s that?”

“It might be kind of weird.” She could feel Clarke’s smile form against her skin.

“How intriguing.”

Lexa smiled into her arm. “Oh, it is. Don’t be too weirded out, but I can’t seem to find a way around it. I’m pretty sure I love you and there’s nothing to be done about it.”

Clarke’s soundless laughter fanned over her back, tickling her skin pleasantly. “That’s not that weird. It’s probably weirder that I’m in love with you.”

“Ugh. That is weird,” Lexa scoffed.

That time, Clarke’s laughter was decidedly not quiet. Lexa shushed her quickly, insisting they were ruining the ambience of the storm. Despite their intentions to enjoy it until it’s end, they both ended up asleep in a pile long before the clouds moved away and the giants quit their grumbling. Clarke totally drooled all over her shoulder at some point. Completely gross.

It was great.

 

+++

 

Graduation came along, as scheduled, with the basketball stadium filled to the brim with weirdly dressed seniors and their strange square hats. You couldn’t walk down the hallway without ending up lurking in some stranger’s selfie or having your hand shaken by a professor surprised to see you succeed. It was overwhelming.

However, Lexa didn’t have to worry about that very much. True to form, she was on the clock, pressed in a uniform, and ensuring the general security of the event. All of the senior auxiliary officers wanted to walk during graduation and all of the underclassmen were buried in a semester worth of procrastination as finals loomed ominously. So, naturally, that left Lexa and the one other person in the department who didn’t care about performing academically. Or in anything.

“Where do you want me?” Murphy asked, shoving his hands deep into his pockets and glancing around at the excited graduates. “Six feet under?”

That was insulting. If Lexa truly wanted Murphy dead, she wouldn’t bury him, she’d burn him on a ceremonial pyre to rid the planet of his corporeal form. “Not today,” she said instead. “Just post outside the entrance and make sure people aren’t parking in the drop off lane. I’ll stay and make sure nobody tries to sneak onstage before the ceremony.”

Murphy scowled at his assignment – parking duty was never preferable – and headed out to the front entrance with mumbled objections. Lexa grinned at his retreating back. The both of them knew she had taken the better assignment. But if she didn’t have the opportunity to participate in graduation ceremonies, the least she could afford herself was an indoor assignment and a chair to rest on. She deserved that much.

Threading through the throngs of excited students, Lexa tapped her earpiece further into her ear and snagged a volunteer chair to plant in front of the stage entrance. Ideally, she would have had a few more auxiliary officers with her, but they could manage with two. Right before she could enjoy the comforts of planting her ass in a chair for the foreseeable future, she was attacked.

Okay, not attacked. Hugged. Even worse.

Some massive moron had swept her up in a crushing bear hug while she yelped in a distinctly non-authoritative manner. Her attacker laughed uproariously before setting her back on her feet and releasing her from hell. “Woods!”

“Joey,” Lexa muttered, straightening out her uniform. “Always a pleasure.”

Joey grinned and adjusted the tiny graduation cap struggling to escape his thick skull. “Why ain’t you walkin’? Where’s your graduation gown?”

“Somebody has to run things,” she said with a shrug. “It’s not that big of a deal.”

“What? But I got like, most of the division teams to give you a holler when they call your name!” Joey pouted, slumping his enormous shoulders. “You’re breaking my heart.”

Lexa rolled her eyes fondly and crossed her arms. “That’s very…sweet. Feel free to scream anyways. It’ll be weird without me there, but don’t let me crush your dreams.”

Joey seemed to consider the offer for a few moments. “Yeah okay,” he sighed. “Guess I can settle.” The resigned look dropped from his face in an instant, replaced by a cracking grin and mischievous glint in his eyes. “Anyways.”

With that, Joey hoisted her up on his shoulder, aided by the sudden appearance of a crowd of massive men and accompanied by the sweet, melodic sounds of Lexa’s undignified screeching. She slapped at a sea of thick heads and muscled shoulders, cursing Joey’s entire ancestral line while they chanted her name and paraded her around the secluded hallway. It was simultaneously gratifying and on par with being disemboweled by a nightmare hellhound. Mixed feelings, overall. 8/10.

“I thought you liked being tall!” Joey laughed, whirling her around one last time before depositing her back on the safe, blessed ground.

Lexa braced herself against the wall with one hand and glared at him. “Like I enjoy root canals. Or speeding tickets,” she hissed, gripping at the fabric over her heart.

Joey nodded with a trace of guilt. “Sorry, Woods. Just…thanks. Thanks for caring. I know it wasn’t easy.”

“It wasn’t,” Lexa said truthfully. “But you’re welcome. Now go or you’ll miss the ceremony.”

The crowd filed out after that, jostling each other and engaging in a rousing chorus of the school’s fight song. Finally, blessedly, Lexa was left to enjoy her chair. She did so with a contented sigh, leaning her head back against the wall and turning her radio up in case someone needed her.

The peace was, as always, short-lived.

Something kind of heavy dropped into Lexa’s lap and her eyes snapped open, reaching out instinctively to stop whatever it was from falling to the floor. She was pleased to find the object she had secured was Clarke.

“I have arrived,” Clarke declared, slinging her arms around Lexa’s neck for support. “I am here.”

“You don’t say?” Lexa glanced over Clarke’s body, grinning at the ridiculous amount of honors cords and medals. She didn’t even know what most of them meant, but it sure looked impressive.

Clarke pulled the graduation cap from her head, removed Lexa’s work hat, then swapped them with a satisfied smile. Lexa could feel the graduation cap tilting dangerously off her head, but Clarke reached out to fix it after she had adjusted Lexa’s baseball cap over her own head.

“Oh! I stopped by Dr. Tsing’s office to pick up your glasses on my way home today,” Clarke said, snapping her fingers. She reached into the folds of her gown and pulled out a black leather case. “For you.”

Lexa reached out reluctantly for the case, eager to shove it somewhere deep in her pocket and forget about it until the second coming of Christ. Clarke had other ideas, though, and popped it open to retrieve the black frames. She slid them awkwardly over Lexa’s nose, jabbing her once in her eye and twice in the ear. Satisfied with her terrible work, Clarke sat back and nodded.

“Aw, they look good!”

Lexa adjusted them slightly on her face and gave her a doubtful look. “Hm.”

“I mean it,” she insisted.

Lexa blinked a few times and squinted. “Everything’s all blurry.”

“That’s because they’re just for reading. Dr. Tsing thinks it will help reduce your headaches and process writing better.” Reaching into her gown again, Clarke produced a crumpled program for the ceremony and held it out in front of Lexa’s face. “Can you read better?”

“I think so?” Lexa allowed her eyes to roam over the program for a minute. “I don’t know, we’ll see I guess.” She pulled the glasses off gently and handed them to Clarke to return to their case. When they were safely put away, Clarke tucked the case into Lexa’s pocket.

“Don’t stress about it. You’re going to do great in academy,” Clarke assured her. “You’ll see.”

Lexa’s arms tightened around Clarke’s waist and she shrugged hopelessly. “Well, we’ll definitely see, I suppose.” She wasn’t worried persay. Academy would be a bit of a culture shock – difficult and time-consuming, but not impossible.

Clarke dropped her head to the side, leaning their temples together gently. “When you said you’d be here, I didn’t think you meant you’d be working,” she said critically. “Couldn’t you find someone else to do security?”

Lexa shrugged and offered her an apologetic smile. “Everyone else has finals. Besides, I’m graduating without any kind of honors or anything. I’ll still get my degree whether I walk across a stage or not.”

“But you worked so hard,” Clarke pouted. “Isn’t your uncle or your cousin coming?”

“They couldn’t.” Lexa pulled Clarke a little closer to stop her from slipping to the ground in her silk gown. “Big training conference. Seems kind of pointless when nobody can make it.”

Clarke sighed. “Yeah, I guess I get it. Nobody’s here for me either. My mom couldn’t get out of work at the hospital. Man, I miss when she was only interested in cleaning up my vomit. Growing up blows. If I had it my way-“

Their conversation was cut off abruptly by a gruff man and the pompous, blustery clearing of his throat. Lexa glared up at the perpetrator, fully prepared to tell him to get lost, when her scandalized gaze fell on the most intimidating mustache she had ever bared witness to. The man attached to it was immaculate and stern and altogether capable of colonizing the entirety of Europe on a casual weekend getaway with nothing but an unamused huff and sidelong glance.

But that mustache.

Lexa’s second thought was the horrific realization that she was glaring up at the County’s Chief of Police. You know: the man who was about to own her ass for her foreseeable career. Lexa jumped to her feet with a jolt, dumping Clarke to the side of their chair, flat on her ass.

“Sir,” she gasped, clasping her hands behind her back and straightening her spine. “May I assist you with anything, sir?”

Why the hell was the chief of police even there to begin with? Surely he hadn’t shown up to quiver his mustache at her and reprimand her for public frivolity.

The man raised one of his bushy eyebrows and stared down his mustache at her in judgmental silence.

“Or…not,” Lexa murmured, eyes fixed on the mess of medals and commendations pinned to his breast.

Finally, his mustache spoke. Er, he did. “No assistance required at this time,” he said imperiously. “I was merely touring the facilities before the ceremony. They have asked me to speak during the ceremony, you see.”

“Ah.” Lexa nodded and willed herself to stop addressing his mustache.

The man’s eyebrow climbed even higher and he leaned forward, eyes flickering briefly to where Clarke was…doing something. Lexa couldn’t tear her eyes away long enough to know what. “You’ll be joining us shortly I hear, Ms. Woods?”

“Yes sir.”

He nodded slowly before outstretching one massive hand in her direction. Internally, Lexa began to panic. What the fuck did he expect her to do with that? Should she…slap it?

No.

God, no, shake the damn hand. “Yes sir,” she choked out, grasping his hand firmly and giving it a shake. “Next academy class. Good luck on your speech.”

After releasing her hand, the Chief straightened his perfectly straight shirt some more and tucked his hat more securely under his arm. “We look forward to having you.” Lexa fully expected that to be the end of their awkward encounter, but the man surprised her by glancing down to Clarke. “Might I suggest a chair next time, Ms. Griffin?”

Clarke huffed, thoroughly unimpressed, and Lexa shot her a warning glance. To her surprise, when she looked back at the Chief, he offered her a cheeky wink before turning on his heel in a perfect pivot and taking formal leave of them.

When he had gone, Lexa snapped out of her daze and bent to help Clarke from the floor. “Shit, sorry. That guy scares the hell out of me.”

“Why?” Clarke muttered, dusting herself off and pushing Lexa back into her chair so they could resume their previous positions. “Thelonius is a doofus.”

Clarke,” Lexa hissed, jabbing a finger into her side. “You can’t say that about him! And since when do you call the Chief of Police, Thelonius?”

Clarke rolled her eyes and adjusted herself on Lexa’s lap. “Please. He let me believe he was a desk officer for years when I came by headquarters. The guy is a total softie – and kind of an ass. I never would have complained as much to him if I had known he was the goddamn Chief.”

“God,” Lexa laughed. “That’s an astounding level of obliviousness.”

“Oh, shut it.” Clarke grinned, fiddling with Lexa’s fingers with the hand that wasn’t wrapped around the back of her neck. She swung her legs a bit where they hung off Lexa’s lap and reached out to adjust the earpiece port on her radio. “So you’re not going to walk during the ceremony? For sure?”

“Yeah, I’m going to have to pass,” Lexa said apologetically.

Clarke considered the information with a calculating look, then shrugged helplessly. “Alright, we’ll skip it.”

Lexa frowned. “We?”

“Yeah. It’s boring anyways.”

A tug at her uniform shirt brought Lexa’s gaze down to watch Clarke undoing and securing a button on her shirt at her stomach absently. “Well, if you don’t want to sit through the ceremony, I could just let you walk across the stage when everyone’s gone. It’ll be a while, but it’ll be all yours in two hours.”

“That sounds cool.” Clarke pulled her cell phone out to check the time, formulating the plan in her mind. “Yeah, let’s do that. But what are we going to do until then?”

“Nothing. We’re mostly here just for appearance’s sake.”

Clarke frowned, twirling the soft hair at the back of Lexa’s neck with one of her fingers. “Nothing?”

“Well, I don’t know. I’m sure we can find something responsible and wholesome to pass the time.”

 

+++

 

 

“This is neither-“ Clarke choked on her words, cursing and gripping at Lexa’s hair while Lexa pressed hard on her hips to minimize her squirming. “This is n-neither responsible nor wholesome.”

Lexa’s mouth was far too busy to dignify a response, so she offered a distracted shrug instead, jostling the leg Clarke had propped over her shoulder.

Besides, Clarke had totally started it.

The girl had tugged her around the shadowy, unoccupied corners of the stadium, whispering promises and wicked things before turning and walking ahead like nothing had happened. She got what she wanted in the end, some ten minutes into their wandering.

Admittedly, trying to fuck in the trophy room was a lot less sexy than either of them had probably envisioned. Clarke had likely gotten some kind of bizarre, gay carpal tunnel from her poorly planned handjob, right before whacking the back of her head against the Women’s Softball Team’s 2010 Championship trophy – which was also pretty gay. Everyone knows softball is gay.

Lexa, being the reasonable, more highly evolved member of their party, had allowed her competitive nature to take over and endanger their lives. Unless you’re a goddamn gymnast, you have no business trying to eat someone out without a bed or a chair or something to prop your poor significant other against. But stubborn souls have overcome greater odds, Lexa supposed.

So there they were.

About to die for some poorly planned sex.

Which, in the wide world of ways Lexa saw herself leaving the mortal plane, was not the most surprising. As far as things go.

“Oh shit,” Clarke gasped, slapping one of her hands back against the wall. “You’re gonna make me fall, I swear to –jesus, control yourself.”

On the contrary, Lexa felt perfectly controlled. Clarke was the one heaving in stuttering gasps of air, legs trembling around Lexa’s face and shoulder while she ran the gambit of every curse word known and unknown to the general population. For as much as she swore she wasn't vocal, she sure sang under Lexa's hands and mouth.

If Clarke could finish up before she sent them crashing into the extensive collection of Men’s Soccer Team trophies and inevitably to their deaths, that would have been greatly appreciated. By all parties involved. The most prominent of those parties being the men’s soccer team, who were going to have to endure the strange story of why all of their trophies had been confiscated as evidence in a double homicide.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Clarke stuttered, tugging on the back of Lexa’s hair. “Oh my god, wait.”

Pulling back with a rather raunchy, slick sound, Lexa huffed a sigh and leaned her cheek against Clarke’s thigh. “What?”

“S-stop. Jesus,” Clarke laughed, clawing at the wall.

Lexa smirked, raising one eyebrow and huffed another sigh. “Stop what? There was a lot going on.”

“S-stop -stop breathing.”

Lexa barked out a disbelieving laugh. “Stop breathing?

Clarke covered her own mouth to stifle her returning laughter and moans. “Well I’ve basically stopped breathing. What’s your excuse?”

“Is this really why you wanted me to stop?”

Clarke’s eyes flickered up to some point above Lexa’s head and she shook her head, still laughing through her fingers. “God no. I just feel really weird that the entire fucking lineage of university football coaches are staring at us while your tongue’s in me.”

Sure enough, when Lexa glanced back over the shoulder that wasn’t supporting Clarke’s leg, she was met with a large wall of stern looking men in athletic polos watching them completely dishonor Lexa’s uniform. “Oh fuck,” Lexa breathed.

Small tears were gathered in the corner of Clarke’s eyes with the effort not to bust out laughing. “I can’t fucking look at them like this.”

Lexa laughed and placed a kiss on the inside of Clarke’s thigh. “Then don’t. Look at my beautiful face instead.”

“I can’t see your beautiful face, Lex!”

“Then look at the top of my beautiful head. I don’t fucking know. Give me three minutes,” she reasoned.

Clarke raised one eyebrow. “That’s a lot of confidence.”

“Yes.”

Game on.

Clarke only laughed harder, but she nodded and patted the back of Lexa’s head. “Okay, okay. I’m close anyways, I’ll just…” Clarke gestured helplessly before covering her eyes with the hand that was meant to be holding her up. “Out of sight out of mind? This is definitely going to haunt me, though.”

Yeah, they were going to die.

Three minutes ended up being more like six minutes with their awkward, middle-aged voyeurs glaring at them from their glass frames across the room. Lexa counted it as a personal victory that she drove Clarke to her release despite the obvious handicap on the mood. Sure, Clarke was breathless from more than just arousal, but the laughter felt just as good where it pulled at her sore muscles as the efforts of their illegal tryst felt.

Lexa just managed to catch Clarke before they actually broke anything – school property or their own bones. Clarke laughed through her dimming release, her chest pushing against Lexa’s as she wiped the tears from her eyes and pressed giggling kisses to her temple, cheek, and lips. When their ridiculous laughing fit tapered off to happy sighs, Clarke leaned forward in Lexa’s lap to rest her chin on her shoulder, hands trapped between them where they pressed into her stomach.

“You know, I guess the guy in the bottom left corner is okay as far as old dudes go. I’m kind of into grey temples,” Clarke murmured into her ear. “I guess I can get used to an audience if that’s what you’re really into. You could have just told me you were into that.”

Rolling her eyes, Lexa knocked the sides of their heads together lightly. “At this rate, I’ll probably have grey temples soon too. If I’m such an old person it’s only because you’ve made me this way.”

“This was a little stupid,” Clarke admitted without even bothering to dredge up some fake regret. “Let’s be honest.”

 

It was kind of stupid.

It was kind of perfect.

 

+++

 

The janitors had long gone, following on the ghosts of the tails of parents and students who had all left to celebrate somewhere along the scale of frivolity between ‘well mannered’ and ‘see you in jail, buddy’. One of the local colleges was renting out the stadium for their own graduation ceremony, so everything was left pretty much intact from the chairs to the podium to all the cameras and screens and mics.

Lexa was reclining against the back of one of the foldout chairs at the foot of the stage, one arm slung over the back of a neighboring chair and one ankle propped on her knee. She had a massive knot in one of her shoulders from failing to be sexy, but felt otherwise relaxed and content.

Clarke was busy onstage trying out every single chair that belonged to anyone of importance, offering an imperial wave to the empty audience with each new seat. One of the deans had left their robes there, which Clarke promptly pulled over her own – much to Lexa’s dismay. Dismay wasn’t enough to prompt Lexa to stop her, though. The girl was having way too much fun.

Eventually, after trying out every single chair, Clarke made her way to the podium and tapped at the mic. The taps reverberated around the enormous stadium, bringing an extra gleam of joy to Clarke’s already gleeful expression.

“Holy shit, this thing’s still on!” She nearly screamed into the mic, flinching back when she realized how loud it was turned up.

Lexa covered her ears and gave her a pained smile and a thumbs up. “Still on.”

Clarke adjusted her ridiculous, stolen robes and cleared her throat. “I wasn’t prepared to give a speech, but – well, if you’re all going to insist.”

“I think I speak for everyone,” Lexa called up to the podium while gesturing around at the thousands of empty seats, “when I demand a speech.”

“Alright,” Clarke laughed. “Democracy has it.”

She placed her hands in a wide stance on either lip of the podium and gave the entire stadium a sweeping, grand look. “As my time here at the university comes to a close, I would like to offer a formal thanks to the kid in my freshmen orientation class who told me never to get drunk on anything when energy drinks are involved. Your advice was as wise as it was pointedly ignored. But from the depths of the second worst hangover of my life: you totally called that one. You can’t save everyone.”

“Additionally, from a place of professional advisement as the dispatcher who logs every stupid thing that has ever happened on this campus, please stop putting weird things up your butts. We do talk about it in the office. And we do judge you.”

“Wow, I’m bad at speeches. Um, shout out to family, friends, and coworkers – in that order – for not murdering me. Actually, biggest shout out to Alexandria Woods for being as into me as I’m into her…well, almost.”

Lexa pointed a finger gun at Clarke and winked.

“Oh, and a huge thanks to her for asking me to be her girlfriend while she essentially had me under arrest. That was wild and I can’t wait to share that with our beautiful cats someday.”

Lexa frowned and Clarke offered her a cheeky grin.

“Or children, whatever. We can talk. Anyways, it’s been wild, co-eds. Take a tequila shot for me tonight and imagine I’m doing something less lame than picking out curtains for our new apartment. Happy graduation, losers.”

When Clarke realized she had no microphone to drop, she grabbed an abandoned notebook from under the podium and threw it somewhere irresponsible. Satisfied with her graduation experience, Clarke made her way to the edge of the stage and dropped down to dangle her legs over the edge. She reached her hands out and gestured for Lexa to help her down.

Lexa obliged, catching the majority of her weight on the way down.

“Your turn,” Clarke sang, gesturing at the stage.

“My turn for what?”

Clarke grinned. “A speech! I demand a speech! My kingdom for a speech.”

“Alright, alright,” Lexa grumbled, releasing Clarke’s hands to hoist her body up and clamber onto the stage. God, she hated giving speeches. Occasionally she had been forced into public service announcements, safety talks, or press conferences for the university and they had all been terrible. But graduation was about grand gestures and milestones, so what the hell.

Sighing heavily, Lexa set her hands on the edge of the podium and glanced out at the nonexistent crowd before zeroing in on Clarke where she sat on the edge of a foldout chair, hands gripping excitedly on her knees. “Look: you’re on t.v.!” She called, pointing upwards.

Lexa jerked her head upwards and found her own unamused face projected on the screen above the stadium. “So I am,” she laughed, looking back down at her solitary audience.

“Speech, huh?” She mused, tapping her fingers against the polished oak of the podium. “Well, my college experiences weren’t exactly…universal, shall we say. Were any of you present at all right now, I’d ask you to dig for both your worst and best college memory. Hold onto it. Replay it. I’m probably somewhere in one of those. I might be holding your hair back or putting you in a headlock or driving you home or, for a select few, maybe carrying you home – not that you’d actually remember that one. I’ve met a lot of you in situations that make me look forward to never meeting you again. And I’m sure the feeling is mutual.”

“I want to state clearly for the non-existent record that I did not enjoy ‘ruining your day’ or ‘fucking you over’ or ‘writing tickets for fun’, contrary to popular belief. The things I did enjoy were the same things you did: the football games, late night bonfires and fireworks, the 5k’s for charity, intramurals under the midnight flood lights, and wild homecoming dance parties in the union – all of it. I was there. You may or may not have thrown dog shit at my windshield at some point during those events. Not pointing fingers here, but one of you assholes was fond of canine excrement. What I’m trying to say here is I might have been a background character to your time here at the university, but it was honor to be a part of the story anyways. It’s been a son of a bitch fighting you guys and a racket winning those fights. Seriously. Some of you should be really embarrassed by how thoroughly I kicked your asses.”

“Now that I’m done regularly cleaning your vomit out of the back of my truck, I want to wish you all a sanitary, safe farewell. I feel confident I’ll hear from you when you’re plastered and forget I don’t work here anymore. But I’ll come anyways. You should consider tipping from now on.”

“Final shout outs to my uncle and cousin for keeping nepotism alive and well in the County Police Department. And also to Clarke who is incredibly cute, but a horrible liar, because I totally waited until after I had signed off on her disposition before asking her to be my girlfriend. Shout out to that jerk.”

Clarke booed heartily from the front row.

“Oh, yeah, and Clarke Griffin is the vandal you were all creaming yourselves over. I totally outsmarted her.”

Clarke booed harder.

“Anyways. It’s been real. Not adding an adjective there. It’s been real…something. Stay hydrated, don’t walk home alone, and call 411 for Supervisor Miller if you ever feel unsafe. Happy graduation, you fucks. Cheers.”

Clarke clapped heartily at the end, the jarring noise diminishing to something small and out of place in the enormous, echoing stadium. Lexa took an exaggerated bow for her audience of one before hopping off the stage and throwing herself in the chair next to Clarke. One arm cast around the back of Clarke’s chair, Lexa stretched her legs out and sighed.

“Well,” she said warmly, “we’re done.”

“Nah. We’re just getting started,” Clarke returned, reaching up to grab the hand hanging by her shoulder.

Lexa nodded critically. “I think we should have prepared our speeches better. Kind of an awkward reception here. It’s like we were the only ones clapping for each other.”

“You exaggerate!” Clarke scoffed, jumping to her feet and dragging Lexa up with her. “Come on, curtains are only on sale through the end of the day.”

Lexa didn’t fight it. She just let herself be drawn out through the metal doors into the crisp night are while Clarke went on about patterns and styles that would be best suited for her plants.

Of course, little did they know, but the very next day would find them fielding and attempting to negate an unfortunately popular video that had popped up from their impromptu speeches. Turned out that graduation had been streamed live for those who couldn’t attend and had never actually stopped streaming after the ceremony.

So that was fun.

It was largely received in good humor, but Lexa felt compelled to write herself up for the transgression as her final act as supervisor. Calling her entire graduating class 'you fucks' wasn't something she felt appropriate letting slide without punishment. Both she and Clarke signed the incident report, stealing away with an extra photocopy of the disciplinary form on their last shift to hang in their new apartment.

You know:
For posterity’s sake.

 

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End.

 

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