The first time Lexa invites you back to her tent, it’s raining.
The downpour was unexpected, but everything is on Earth. There’s so much you’ve never experienced before that it all starts to lose its wonder. You think back to a few weeks ago when you first arrived here. You smiled at the rain. Danced in it. Now you watch the Grounders flee from it. A few of them lift their flasks to the sky in toast, collect a few drops of water to satiate the dry scratch on their tongues. They view rain as nothing more than a necessity or an inconvenience. They have been here longer than you and you do not question their outlook. You are not mystified by the water in the sky anymore either.
Indra shouts something you’re almost sure is “take cover” to the army and you’re more surprised by the fact that you understand her than anything else. You’re stunned for a moment as the rain pelts you, gives you the closest thing to a bath you’ve had in ages, until an arm grabs you, snakes around your bicep and pulls you into a tent.
You guess you weren’t invited back to her place as much as you were led. At first you thought the arm was Indra’s. The Grounder guards have been looking out for you lately as if you were one of their own. Indra is a mother figure to you all, and even though she’s frightening you almost prefer her to your own mother at this point. You are more likely to follow Indra’s commands than Abby’s, but neither of them are directing you right now. The arm around you is Lexa’s, and as soon as you realize that you realize that the two of you are alone in her tent again.
For how protective her guards are, you’re surprised the two of you have ever gotten a moment alone together.
She closes the tent’s flaps and you realize that Indra is probably not coming back here, that she probably has her own tent. Not that you think she’s in it right now. You know she and Octavia are patrolling the army, making sure everyone has a place to hide out from the shower. Cold, wet soldiers are not effective ones. None of you can afford that setback right now. You wonder if maybe Mt. Weather can control more weather than just the fog.
“The downpour is not heavy. It will let up soon,” Lexa comforts.
You knew that already. Lexa knows that, too, but you nod anyway, let her know you’re listening. You think she just wants the excuse to talk.
You stare at the tent’s flaps, wondering how offended Lexa would be if you pulled them back again after she just closed them. You want to watch the rain hit the ground, drown the dirt into mud. You almost miss the dropship and how you could stare out of its windows when you sought shelter from the rain at your first camp. You miss the crowded heat of your people around you, all one hundred of you crammed into the three floors of one vessel. You think about saying something. Lexa would understand your need to be packed together with the rest of your people like wolves. Her own people are doing the same right now, stuffed together into their makeshift city at the bottom of the cliff. You wonder if it would feel like home if you slipped away and joined them, became just another body in the crowd and didn’t have to worry about the weight of them all on your shoulders. That’s not the reality of the situation, though. You turn away from the mouth of the tent because you know you can’t go outside to be with them. You are at the top of the cliff with Lexa.
You and Lexa were two of the first to seek cover, but when you look at her she’s peeling off the outer most layer of her clothes anyway. She’s damp at best, and you know none of the rain water has seeped through the fabric around her shoulders, but she treats the mission of undressing herself like she’s waded through a river, taking off her jacket and her boots and her wrist cuffs quickly but one by one. You turn away to give her privacy even though you’re pretty sure she’s only doing it to make you look at her. You won’t, though. You can’t. Not now.
Her fidgeting goes silent after a moment when she realizes you’re not going to watch. You turn around once more, then, take in her bare shoulders and the sight of an entire mass of small scars peeking out at you from below her left collarbone. You stare at them because you know you’d have just as many as her if you were one the Grounders. You killed three hundred of her people in a ring of fire. You killed two hundred and fifty people with that missile at Tondc. Each one of them would mark your entire left side if you burned the Grounders’ mementos of them into your skin. You know you can’t be one of these people because of that. No matter what you have with Lexa.
“You’re wet,” she says, and her eyes tell you she means more than one thing when she says it. She’s wrong. But she’s hopeful. It’s the most optimistic you’ve ever seen her be, and it’s progress. You can’t discourage it.
“I’m fine,” you say, and you mean it in the sense that you really aren’t that wet. Your hair is a little bit -you can feel it dripping onto your neck - but other than that you’re okay. A little water isn’t going to hurt you.
“You should dry your hair.” She hands you a cloth that isn’t as clean as the towels you were used to on the Ark and you hold it dry at your side. You like carrying the extra weight of the rain water around in your hair. Now you finally have something physical to blame the heavy feeling of your head on.
“Thank you,” you say, and she nods even though you don’t use the cloth.
“We have some time.” She sits on the bed and looks at you purposefully, lets her hands sink into the fur of the pelts keeping it warm. She holds your eyes, and it is so different from how she has been looking at the ground lately. You want to tell her that that’s good, that’s she’s paying attention to her feelings and she should keep doing it. You’re a hypocrite, though. You can’t focus on your own right now. You take up her role and look at the ground instead.
“We don’t have enough time.”
The second time Lexa invites you back to her tent, she just plain misses you.
You’re sitting around the campfire with a hog the hunters killed smoking over the flames and a palm full of berries you were too scared to eat when you landed and that you are still too scared to try now. The Grounders are eating them, though, shoving them into their mouths recklessly like Raven would throw her bombs. You know the berries are safe at this point, but you are still all too eager to throw them to the ground like skipping stones when Indra sneaks up behind you and tells you The Commander is looking for you.
Indra says it like you’re due for some secret meeting, leads you to Lexa’s tent like there are predators at all sides. You know better, though. When Lexa tells Indra to leave the two of you alone, you know she has just called you to talk to you and not about war tactics.
She’s sitting at the same table you mapped your war on with her blade held steady in front of her face and a small bowl of what looks like charcoal dust in front of her. She dips her fingers into the powder and smears it along her cheeks, following her own eyes in the reflection on the sword.
She’s doing her make up. You wonder if she even calls it that, if she calls it war paint instead. You want to give her a mirror, to show her all the cosmetic lines your people invented on the Ark. You remember that those things don’t exist anymore, though. You are on the ground. On the ground teenage girls smear charcoal on their faces. Lexa has never known a better method. She is happy to put her makeup on with the help of the weapon she has no doubt killed dozens with. You don’t think she’d like it any other way. You forget about the mirror.
“Clarke.” She looks up at you like she forgot you were here for a second, and you can’t help but pitch a small smile and project a small laugh. The streaks on her face are not even. You think she probably doesn’t care, but maybe she does and it won’t hurt for you to fix them. You walk over to her, sit on the table next to her charcoal and run your thumbs along her cheeks, smear the dust around until it evenly coats both sides of her face. She closes her eyes and you thumb her eyelids, too, paint them black like the rest of her.
The darkness brings out the silver in her eyes.
When you’re done, you do not remove your hands. You don’t want to, but you couldn’t even if you did. Lexa reaches up, laces her fingers around your wrists. You look at each other like that for a minute. You think she’s going to kiss you again, and you think you’ll let her this time, but she doesn’t.
“Thank you,” she says, and she is so small and so honest that you have to hop down from the table. You do not want to feel like you are towering over her. She is the one person you do not have any control over right now, and you want to keep it that way. You have control over too many people already.
“It’s not a problem.” You give her a smile you hope does not translate as awkward as it feels against your cheeks. The dirt on your skin is not there by choice. Lexa feels powerful. You feel gross.
With some space between you, Lexa remembers who she is and how to breathe. She inhales a deep lungful of smoky air that has traveled all around camp from the fire, steels her eyes, purses her lips. She almost looks like she’s going to say something important, but you know she isn’t. You know she sent you here to watch her do her makeup. And maybe make out a little bit. She hasn’t had the courage to push for that part yet though. Maybe she thinks you’ll be more likely to kiss her when she finishes putting herself together, dusting the charcoal on her cheeks and donning her leather jacket and protective shoulder pads. Maybe you are. You can’t help but notice how great she looks. You find her strength attractive, even though you prefer it when she looks vulnerable.
She stares at you again. She’s getting more confident at that. You like it. It’s not her usual icy stare. It’s warm. Sincere. There’s a wet realness to the whites of her eyes that you’ve never seen before. Maybe the makeup just makes her tear up a little bit. Makeup does that, you remember. You haven’t worn it since you were locked up on the Ark, though.
When she steps towards you, your lips are ready. The kiss is chaste. It’s not as sad as the first one, but it’s not as intimate either. It’s just a connection. She’s there. She’s a good kisser. You like having someone so close to you without being worried about them pressing a knife to the hollow of your throat. You feel safe with the length of her in front of you.
You let her kiss you for a while.
You’ve got a little bit of time.
The third time Lexa invites you to her tent, you let yourself in.
It’s late and Lexa is already in bed because she’s exhausted. She’s always exhausted, even if she never tells anyone about it. Being Commander does that to a person. It makes them tired. You hate that you know exactly how she feels.
When you place your knee onto the bed she rises, props herself up like your presence is a call to action. You put your hand on her shoulder, push her back down, and try not to think about how she isn’t wearing any kind of shirt. Her skin is warm for resting in one of the coldest beds you’ve ever been in. Grounder blood is just hot, you think. They are made of different matter than you, dirt from the melted center of the earth. Your people are made of frozen star dust, and you think the two go well together. At least you hope so anyway.
“Clarke?” Lexa makes a noise you first thing is Trigedasleng before you realize it’s just a hum. She sounds sleepy and confused, but she knows it’s you behind her. You wonder if she’s already memorized the way your body feels against hers. Hers against yours is familiar, if not entirely recognized, but she has never been this naked in front of you before, physically or mentally. She is so different when she is tired, so much more open.
“Shh,” you whisper in her ear, hugging her waist close to you. Part of you hopes she doesn’t remember any of this in the morning. You’re already thinking of ways you can wake up before her, slip out before she realizes you were ever here. “Go back to sleep.”
She twists in your arms, ruffles the stiff linens, and hums again, this time against the cloth of your shoulder. Her eyes are still shut. “What’re you doing here?” She speaks slowly and only partially from grogginess. She’s half asleep and you can tell she’s having trouble translating.
“I just needed somewhere to sleep,” you tell her honestly, pulling her covers over you. They’re only warm from her body heat.
“Octavia,” she slurs, but you know exactly what she means.
“Octavia’s upset with me,” you whisper. “I don’t want to sleep in her tent tonight.” She is and you don’t, and you really hope Lexa wasn’t just joking when she told you you were welcome in her bed at any time. You know how she meant it, know the wink after it was cheeky, but nevertheless it is the invitation you’re letting yourself in on, and you hope she doesn’t kick you out because you really don’t have anywhere else to go.
“You’re wearing too many clothes,” she says, and you know she’s awake now, can feel it in the way her nipples harden against your chest.
It’s a dangerous path, but you’ve got much more dangerous things to come.
“Shof op,” you command, and you follow through on your orders by sealing her mouth with your own. She rebels just because she can, just because you told her to be quiet, by moaning into your mouth, and you’re glad it’s too late for her guards to still be outside the tent. You kiss her harder and hope she gets the message. She does.
She is still tired and she melts beneath you, pools like the rain on her sheets, and it is amazing to you how this sturdy mass of commands and ruthlessness becomes so soft and pliable beneath you with only one kiss. She is so easy to bend, and you wonder for how long she has been ready to break.
Your teeth clash against hers accidentally, but neither of you seem to mind. She moans again and bites your lip, and you’re somehow not surprised that she’s picking a small fight with you now of all times, even naked beneath you and halfway to whatever spiritual dream world she believes she enters when she sleeps. It is so Lexa and so genuine and so very much what you need right now. You are wearing too many clothes, you decide, but you don’t have time to fix that problem at the moment.
The scars on her chest startle you when you grip her breast for the first time, but you steel yourself and refuse to let your hand waver. You will not show her you are afraid of what she is, and the texture of her skin, how it shifts from smooth to pockmarked so instantaneously, does not deter you from running your hands across the entire expanse of her chest, soothing every scar and groping both breasts until each of her nipples stab your palms and you reach lower, touch her where there are no scars and where she is so soft and so young and so very much more like you than you are willing to admit. The sounds she makes are more rewarding than you ever thought they would be.
You try to keep her quiet, but it is useless. She is a mess with your fingers inside of her, and you almost think she wants the whole camp to hear you, to let her army know that you can command just as well as she can, if only in bed. This is not how you planned on proving yourself to her people, but at this point you’ll take what you can get. In order to save your people you need them to listen to you and in order to make it through the night with your sanity you need Lexa by your side. It’s almost unreal that she is, but her body is very much real beneath you, against you. It feels like so long since you’ve been with Finn. Since you’ve been with anyone. Reality feels like whatever dream Lexa was having before you got here.
When she cums she’s simultaneously the most exhausted and the most relaxed you’ve ever seen her and your emotions mirror her own so well that you don’t even mind when she immediately falls back to sleep. You tuck your face into the crook of her shoulder and steady your chin just above her scars. She is beautiful, you can tell, even though it is dark, and tonight you may actually be able to sleep.
You will wake up early in the morning. You will convince Lexa this is all a dream because it is. She and you are nothing more than a fantasy, a future you cannot think about right now, not while all of your people are imprisoned in Mt. Weather. It is a good dream, though, a hope you’ll want to revisit when this is all over, when everything is okay again and the word ‘future’ doesn’t sound as foreign as Trigedasleng.
When you fall asleep, you know you and Lexa are imagining the same thing.