Victory had been hard fought and won. The civilians in the mountain who'd helped the Sky people take shelter were spared. The rest were executed. Allowing them to live presented a far greater risk than the alternative. The research labs were burned, along with the cages and torture devices that had for too long terrified her people. This mountain had been the heart of hell and now it was no more. And while she threw her arm up, sword in hand, and shouted a cheer of victory, her mind couldn't help but linger on one unsettling truth – with the battle now over Clarke would leave with him and it would crush her.
She'd missed their reunion and was glad for it. Glad because she couldn't have watched the two of them embrace without turning away. The boy Bellamy, he stood close by Clarke's side as though if he were to take a single step away she might disappear without him. It was how Gustus had been with her, protective, paternalistic, and possessive. Gustus had never gone so far as to express his feelings openly, and neither would this boy, but she recognized the expression in his eyes when he looked at her. It was the same one she shared, a gaze filled with adoration and teeming with a hunger that had too long gone unfulfilled. They weren't so different, she and him, as difficult as that was to admit. They both cared for Clarke. They both wanted to protect her. And at the end of the day, whether they were willing to admit it or not, they both wanted to stake a claim on her heart.
Their eyes met through the crowd and Clarke offered her a look of relief and a timid smile. We did it, her expression said. We actually defeated Mt. Weather! Lexa couldn't stop her eyes from darting to the boy Bellamy's dark, blood-stained face and then back to her. Clarke's eyes followed, showing her confusion at first, and then gradual understanding. She looked as though she wanted to say something but Bellamy stole her attention away with a comment that had her turning to look somewhere behind her. Lexa had no intention of waiting around. She turned and led her army back through the tunnels to freedom. Clarke would find her in time and when she did she could only hope that she would have the strength to let her go.
It was late. The camp was quiet as the warriors rested and tended to their wounds. They were a hard, merciless people, but they were also human and this was how they survived. Perhaps now they wouldn't have to fight so hard. With Mount Weather gone they could focus on aspects of life that went beyond survival. They could build more permanent villages and homes. They could grow their families. They could allow themselves to fall in love.
It was a strange life to consider, one void of the daily threat of death at the hands of another. It was a life she'd never known. A life she couldn't even begin to imagine for herself. But being with Clarke had made it seem possible for a while. It was Clarke who'd encouraged her to live better and give of herself. It was a sacrifice not easily won for someone who'd felt the stinging blow of losing someone they loved at the hands of another.
The curtain draped over the entrance to her tent moved aside and Clarke entered. She'd taken care to wash the blood of Mt. Weather's men from her skin and hair. She looked about nervously and her feet drew to an eventual halt not far from where she lay stretched out on her cot. She sat up slowly, anxious about why she was here. Had she come to tell her that they were leaving? Had she come to tell her that she'd made her choice?
Instead Clarke reached for the wine and poured herself a glass. She took a careful sip and then set it aside.
"I want you to know," she said in a tone that lacked the strength of their earlier encounters, "that Bellamy and I are just friends."
"You sought me out to tell me that?" she replied with a lift of her brow and rose slowly to her feet.
"Yes," Clarke maintained as her eyes followed her. "I thought you should know."
"You think I feel jealous towards that boy," she deduced as she reached for the wine. She poured herself a glass but couldn't be tempted to take a sip while her stomach was churning with expectation.
"I know you do."
"Do you not think that a bit presumptuous, Clarke?"
"I think it's the truth."
She set down her wine more forcefully than she would have liked and turned with eyes blazing to face her. It unsettled her that Clarke could read her so easily, could see right through the careful walls she'd constructed to keep everyone else out.
Seeing her fierce expression Clarke's own softened and took a hesitant step forward. "When I said I wasn't ready," she offered, her voice low, "I didn't mean that I was waiting to see if Bellamy survived in Mt. Weather."
Lexa pulled in a deep breath and let it out slowly, struggling to contain the words she so wished to speak. But if she spoke now she'd never know what Clarke intended to say and so she bit her tongue until she tasted blood and kept silent.
"I care for him," Clarke added as her eyes briefly drifted towards the door. "I care for him and I care for you. What's happening between us…" she shook her head and lifted her gaze so their eyes met, "it terrifies me."
She felt the breath escape from her lungs in a sudden whoosh and a faint smile graced her lips. "I never thought I could care for someone again after losing Costia."
"But you do…"
She nodded. There was no point in hiding behind walls now. She took a bold step closer until they were within touching distance and answered, "Yes."
Clarke's breaths were shaky and she nervously licked her lips. There were times when she was impossible to read and this was one of them. Lexa held her breath, alarmingly aware of how fragile her position was. She wasn't certain enough of anything to speak the way she truly wished. Like a fledgling horse not yet broken Clarke was unpredictable and temperamental. If she was going to have any hope of winning her heart she would need to be patient and give her the freedom to make the choice for herself. It wouldn't be easy, but the reward in the end would be worth any amount of temporary suffering.
"I'm going to need some time," Clarke pleaded, her voice small.
With her ready acceptance Clarke's face broke with relief and she smiled. It was radiant and beautiful and Lexa felt her heart clench tight inside her chest with want.
"Before I go," she said, inching closer, "there's just one more thing."
Clarke took the last step that would bring their bodies together and tilted her chin upwards, just enough for their lips to touch. Her kiss was soft at first, and tentative, like the hand that settled at her waist. But as she opened her mouth against hers to return the gesture, the mood changed from sweet uncertainty to hunger.
Clarke's hand skimmed up her arm until her fingers met bare flesh and the touch of her skin jolted through her veins like liquid fire. She pushed her fingers deep into her hair and deepened their kiss, pushing Clarke back against the edge of the table. She wanted her to taste this, the depth of her passion. She wanted her to know just how deeply her feelings ran. This was no fling or momentary stress relief. For her this was real and gut-wrenchingly honest and it left her absolutely vulnerable.
She'd thought Clarke might pull away. Instead her hands went around her neck, holding tight and pulling closer. She opened her mouth a little more, giving herself up to the kiss that she'd been so scared of before, the one that said clearly and in no uncertain terms exactly how she felt. And with the arching of Clarke's body against hers, Lexa released a soft, needy moan and fisted her hand in that soft, blonde hair.
In that moment, all that existed was the feeling of Clarke's lips against hers and the demanding pull of her hands around her neck, and the eager, greedy press of her body. It was more than she'd ever expected and certainly more than she was prepared for. When the force of it became too much, she pulled back, resting her forehead against Clarke's in an effort to catch her breath. Clarke's chest was heaving too, she noticed, and couldn't help the short, breathless laugh that escaped her lips.
Clarke licked her lips to capture the last remnants of their kiss and swallowed hard. When she felt composed enough to retreat, Lexa reluctantly released her hold on her and pulled away.
"I should go," she said quietly and glanced towards the door. "When you have made up your mind, come and find me."
There would be no more talk on the matter until Clarke had made her decision and she was okay with that, more than okay even. Because regardless of what the leader of the Sky people decided, they had shared this moment. And there wasn't even the slightest doubt in her mind that it'd affected Clarke as much as it had her. Things were not over between them and they never would be, but for now she would need to be patient.
"Until then, Clarke," she said and sent a fond look over her shoulder as she headed for the door.
Clarke stared after her, hands still braced against the table, and looked for all the world as if she were struggling to convince her legs to stand. Knowing that she'd nearly brought a woman like Clarke to her knees would be fuel enough to brighten her mood for days to come. When the time was right, when she was ready, the leader of the Sky people would return and utter the words she so longed to hear, I'm yours.
Author's Note: Many, many thanks to the wonderful readers who have left me such kind words of support on these Clexa fics. I hope to have more one-shots and drabbles to come. This one was in my head for a while, mainly because I wanted to write Clexa a bit jealous and also to have another kiss between them. Completely self-indulgent :) I hope you enjoyed reading it. All comments and critiques are welcome.