Disclaimer & Notices: See Chapter 1.

 


Beauty and the Alpha
by Red Hope

 

Chapter 2

Clarke had been sleeping soundly, on her side. She was drained by today’s travel and the later conversations with the commander of the grounders. She was ripped out of her dreamless night by an ugly nightmare. Clarke ran and ran from those she murdered in Mount Weather, but they always found her. Just before they could tear at her throat, she sharply woke up with a gasp.

The tent was fairly dark other than the outside fires that offered a soft glow. The air was also cool, but the furs were plenty warm. But still Clarke shivered, thanks to her nightmare. Behind her, she heard Raven slumbering in peace. Clarke was grateful that the mechanic was able to rest fitfully.

After several minutes, Clarke pushed the furs off. She welcomed the cold air around her heated body. She quickly put on her boots then grabbed her jacket. She tucked her handgun into her waistband on the way out of the tent.

Outside, the night was quiet other than the bonfires’ crackles or the few grounders softly talking in Trigedasleng. It was a clear night and the stars shined brightly around the quarter moon. A soft breeze moved through the camp. It was a beautiful night compared to the horrors that lurked in the distant mountain.

Clarke folded her arms and stood in the shadows between two tents. She listened to the three warriors that talked in Trigedasleng. She could barely make out two words in every other sentence. She needed to learn more about the language. Gradually, she peered over her left shoulder and studied the commander’s tent that was nearby. There was no candlelight or movement so she knew Lexa was asleep. After a soft sigh, she looked at the three warriors.

The grounders continued talking, but they also played a game between them. One warrior threw something on the ground and the two others cursed low in their native tongue. As the seeming winner bent down to get his earnings, he sensed curious eyes on him. He twisted his head towards the attention until he saw the Skaikru in the darkness.

Clarke focused on him and stiffened when his eyes reflected back at her. She took a hesitant step until a hand was on her. Clarke jumped and brought up a fist meant for her attacker. Her other hand went for her handgun.

“Klark,” Lexa soothingly called.

Clarke dropped her fist and sighed in relief. “I’m sorry.” She pulled her hand away from the gun. “Don’t sneak up on me like that.”

Lexa glanced at the warriors, who settled down after they realized their leader was okay. She looked at Clarke again. “You should be sleeping.”

“Sleep is a funny thing right now,” Clarke muttered.

Lexa was openly concerned but offered, “Come with me.” She covered the short distance to her tent and allowed Clarke to go in first.

Clarke stepped aside but stayed in the same spot. She could hardly see a thing in the tent. She suspected Lexa’s tent was made from heavier fabric that held out both the cold and light. She heard Lexa’s movements and wondered how the Hell Lexa could see a damn thing. Clarke would have fallen over something or even everything. Shortly, the tent came to life under the candlelight.

Lexa approached her guest and offered, “Do you want something to drink?”

Clarke realized how much warmer it was in Lexa’s tent. She dropped her arms from her body. “Yeah… I think so.”

Lexa nodded and opted to make tea for them both. She indicated the stool. She went about prepping a small fire that had a metal pot near it.

Clarke propped her feet on the bar under the stool. “I thought you were asleep.”

“Sha.” Lexa had started the fire then moved the metal rack over it so the hanging pot could heat the water. “But I am awake now.”

Clarke glanced over at the pile of furs. She remembered when Lexa had sat there so casually the night before the battle. She shook away the thoughts and peered up at the tall woman that came over to the table next to her.

Lexa opened a small wood box that sat there.

Clarke curiously studied it and knew it was a special box by the ornate designs on the lid. She nearly asked about it until she saw how Lexa was carefully deciding on what to take out of it.

Lexa’s first choice was fast. She dropped a white pouch into the right mug. Her second choice seemed to take longer, but she picked one and put it in the other mug.

“Different kinds of teas?”

Lexa shut the lid. “Sha.” She ran her hand across the lid, which reflected back the special emblem. “I’m giving you one that’s… not as strong.” She failed to mention it contained a sleeping agent in it. She left the mugs there and turned her back to the table. She eyed the pot over the fire, but it still needed more time.

Clarke stared across at the fire too. She was briefly caught up in the dancing flames, but she looked up at the commander. “Thank you.” She found confused eyes on her. “For what you did up on the mountain.”

Lexa folded her arms and leaned against the table. “Like you, I made the best decisions I could during the heat of battle.”

Clarke puckered her lips a little as she weighed Lexa’s decisions up on Mount Weather. “How sure are you of that?” She noticed the sudden tautness along Lexa’s jaw line. “You didn’t take Cage’s deal… and you probably should have because a lot less of your people would have died.”

Lexa stayed quiet.

Clarke wondered if she would get a response. As the silence drew on, her attention was drawn down past Lexa’s shoulders. It was really the first time she had a chance to appreciate Lexa without a coat on and any guards around them. She stole the chance to inventory Lexa’s thick arms and suspected there was plenty more underneath the clothes. Clarke looked away and blew out a low breath.

“I should have,” Lexa admitted aloud.

Clarke looked up at the commander and watched the firelight reflect against Lexa’s eyes. It reminded her of the warrior by the campfire earlier. She shook away the strange thought and focused on the conversation. “Why didn’t you then?” Finally she had Lexa’s attention on her.

“Because our alliance was more important.” Lexa pulled away after she heard the water boiling in the pot.

Clarke sighed and silently repeated Lexa’s reason. There was so much left unspoken in Lexa’s reason. A secret was in Lexa’s words that neither of them was ready to face.

Shortly Lexa returned with the pot and filled the mugs. “You did not need my help to get into the mountain.” She set the pot to the side then picked up the mugs. She handed the one to Clarke and carried the other over to her favorite spot.

Clarke smelled the tea, which had a sweet and flowery hint. She cupped it between her hands and enjoyed the warmth.

Lexa relaxed against the furs and balanced the mug on her leg. “But if I had abandoned you and your people on the mountain then we would surely have war later.”

Clarke looked over at the commander, who was comfortable against the furs. “We still could,” she whispered.

Lexa tested the tea even though she knew it was too hot. She cleared her throat. “If there is then it will not be between Trikru and Skaikru.”

“Azgeda,” Clarke whispered. She stared down into the mug, as if it was filled with answers. “I swear they’re just a bunch of war mongrels.”

Lexa tapped the side of her mug and muttered, “It’s in our blood.”

Clarke narrowed her eyes at the commander. “Do you believe that about humans?”

“Humans?” Lexa repeated, as if confirming it. She shook her head and replied, “No.”

Clarke noticed how the commander held something back. She was confused but decided not to press further.

“Your people reacted to a threat,” Lexa recalled. She sipped on the tea and was pleased it had cooled off enough. “Even Anya understood that… later.”

Clarke drank the tea and was pleased by the flavors. She hummed contently.

Lexa looked over at the Sky leader. She was glad that Clarke drank more of it. “What was space like?” She hoped the change of topic would help.

Clarke was startled by the question. She peered across to the commander. “It was… kinda lifeless.” Like Lexa, she drank more tea. “Mundane too… really boring.” She shook her head and peered into the half empty mug. “It’s certainly not boring here on the ground.” She was surprised by the throaty chuckle from the commander.

“No… it is not.” Lexa enjoyed her tea. She could feel it working to sooth her natural instincts and cleared her mind further. She studied Clarke’s now weary features. “I would like to experience… mundane sometime.”

Clarke took a large swallow of the tea, nearly done. She decided against the rest and put the mug onto the table. “Put it on your bucket list then.” Suddenly her body felt heavy.

“Bucket list?” Lexa echoed.

Clarke touched her forehead. For some reason, the commander’s normally strong voice seemed awfully distant. She latched onto the base of the stool for support. “Lexa…” she pleaded, in worry. “Something is wrong… w-w-with me.”

Lexa set her mug on the ground then quickly got to her feet. “It was a sleeping tea.” She knelt in front of Clarke and grasped the Skaikru leader’s sides.

Clarke’s mind was nearly fuzzy. Now Lexa had two heads so she closed her eyes. “Why?”

“You need to sleep,” Lexa softly answered. She knew Clarke would refuse the tea if she had told Clarke what was in it. She stood a little and slipped an arm around Clarke’s back. She hooked her other arm under Clarke’s legs then stood up with the smaller woman against her chest.

“I can’t…” Clarke attempted shaking away the heaviness with no luck.

“You’re safe here with me,” Lexa promised. She turned and carried Clarke to her bedrolls.

Clarke’s head nearly rolled, but she leaned it against Lexa’s shoulder. She shut her eyes and started giving into the tea. “You’re… getting Hell… tomorrow.” She was floating in the air now but heard a gruff chuckle. She loved Lexa’s deeper laughs that were so far and few, and also new to Clarke. She felt her body sink into softness.

Lexa had retrieved Clarke’s handgun and placed it within reaching distance. She adjusted the furs over the Sky leader. She straightened up to her full height and freely admired Clarke’s beautiful features. She took a deep breath and Clarke’s fiery metal scent filled her senses. She huffed in hopes to chase off the distinct scent. Quickly Lexa moved away from the other woman and went for the tea near her favorite seat. She swallowed a healthy mouthful, and it soothed her belly’s light ache.

“Damn,” Lexa muttered, “It’s getting worse.” She peered into the empty mug and considered another one. She was slightly frustrated because the solution was only temporary before the real problem surfaced soon. After a low growl, Lexa went in search of her sword and whetstone. She needed to focus on something else.

For a couple hours, Lexa sharpened her favored sword with a lot of vigor. She would have gone for a walk normally, but she refused to leave Clarke by herself. Eventually her worries exhausted her so she dropped the whetstone on the ground. She slumped back in the furs with the sheathed blade across her lap. Somehow sleep found her a few hours before dawn.

A little after sunrise, Clarke stirred from her heavy, dreamless sleep. She softly groaned and tried wiping the fog from her head. She sat up on her elbows and scanned her surroundings with such confusion until she came to Lexa. She recalled nearly toppling off the stool last night thanks to a sleeping tea that the commander gave her. She glowered at the commander, who was still asleep.

Lexa had fallen asleep on her seat. Her hand was locked around the hilt of her sword, just in case. Most likely her honed senses were on high alert for trouble.

Clarke ran her hand through her hair then looked at the gun beside her. She picked it up and got out of the bed quietly. She stowed the gun in the usual spot and muttered, “I’m going to kill you for this.” She hated being tricked.

“Not likely,” came a husky reply.

Clarke glared over at the green eyes that peeked out at her.

“How did you sleep?”

Clarke folded her arms. “I’m sure better than you.”

Lexa rolled her head until her neck popped back into place.

“Case in point,” Clarke muttered.

Lexa was slouched in the seat, legs slightly spread open.

Clarke was about to fire off another threat, but her thoughts were tangled up by her view. She looked away from the commander and mentioned, “No more tea for me.”

Lexa had a sly grin. She finally stood up. “You will thank me later.”

“I didn’t take you to be delusional,” Clarke poked.

Lexa approached the shorter female. She easily towered over Clarke, who was never weary of her power. “No… just a liar.”

Clarke flinched at the harsh assessment she had given Lexa the other day. “I…”

Lexa stepped around the stricken leader. She went to the washbasin. “It’s okay, Klark.” She washed her face then patted it dry. “You only spoke true.”

Clarke turned towards the commander. “I could have probably delivered it with more finesse than I did.”

“Our people do not have tact. We speak only the truth, no matter how difficult.” Lexa set the towel aside then collected her long coat.

Clarke weighed Lexa’s response. She realized it was Lexa’s own way of admitting Clarke was right. She bit her bottom lip then looked over at the commander. “Yeah but I kinda backed you into a corner… and I shouldn’t have done it.”

Lexa had shrugged on her coat. She neared Clarke with her coat still open. “Well you were lucky.”

“Oh?” Clarke prompted. She saw a glint in the commander’s eyes.

“When I am cornered, I rarely give in.” Lexa wrapped her long fingers around her coat’s buckles. “I usually bite back.”

Clarke’s eyes instantly went to Lexa’s mouth. For a second, Lexa’s teeth flashed in her mind, especially where she might bite. Clarke shoved the image away and cleared her throat, but it was too late. She felt the warmth in her cheeks. “I’ll… keep that in mind.”

Lexa knew she was too close to Clarke, far too close. She dug her nails into her coat when the pain flared up in her stomach. Yet still, she kept breathing in Clarke’s scent as if it controlled her. She forced herself away but only made it a step before Clarke grabbed her arm.

“Lexa…” Clarke hastily released the commander’s bicep when green eyes dangerously flashed at her. She thought she had crossed a line, but whatever she saw in Lexa was gone now. She pushed past her uneasiness and offered, “Thank you for the tea.”

Lexa released a low breath then slightly inclined her head. “Pro,” she returned in Trigedasleng. She started for the tent flap and buckled her coat closed before she went out into the cold morning.

Clarke quietly followed and went to her tent because she knew Lexa would busy with morning checks. She hoped Raven was feeling better after yesterday’s trip. Shortly, she and Raven went in search of food and were helped by Anya and Octavia. Clarke was glad to hear that Lincoln and Octavia had spent time together. She considered how Indra handled her second’s return.

It was close to noon before Clarke saw Lexa again. She had almost thought the commander was avoiding her. Anya had merely told her that Lexa had to handle the departing clans. It was true that the grounder camp was thinning out every hour. Soon only the Trikru clan would be left in the valley.

“Klark,” Lexa greeted. She stood off to Clarke’s right. Her hands were behind her back and Ryder flanked her.

Clarke took the greeting as a prompt. She excused herself from Anya, Raven and Lincoln, who sat with her by the bonfire. She neared the leader.

“I would like for you to join us for our meeting,” Lexa informed.

“Of course.” Clarke tucked her hands into her jacket pockets. “When is it?”

“Shortly… in about fifteen minutes.” Lexa shifted on her feet and had a better view of her general. “Onya?”

Anya knew without asking and merely nodded her agreement.

“I’ll see you soon,” Clarke agreed then left the commander.

Lexa parted and took care of a few last things. She eventually met the others in her commanding tent. She slotted her eyes at the model of Mount Weather. She was grateful the damn war was over, even if it meant another was well on the way.

Clarke approached the tent with Anya at her side. She knew Lexa was there because Ryder stood guard.

“Wanheda,” Ryder properly greeted. He inclined his head with respect.

Clarke was baffled by the name and even Ryder’s formal display. For several days Ryder had guarded her and never once used such a title. She shook her head and asked, “What did you call me?”

“Commander of Death,” Anya translated for the Skaikru leader.

“Death?” Clarke repeated. She looked at Anya and then turned back to the tent’s entrance. “Well that’s just fucking great.” She hastily entered the tent with a bitter look.

Anya traded a glance with Ryder but followed in the Sky leader’s angry wake.

Lexa had briefly spoken to Indra, who was in the tent with her. She had become quiet when she heard the abrupt conversation between Clarke, Anya, and Ryder. She kept a neutral expression though.

However, Indra warily eyed the Sky leader. She considered why the commander had invited Clarke here. It was a meeting of Trikru leadership, not meant for outsiders. She held her tongue because she knew the commander’s favor for Clarke.

Lexa moved closer to her throne. She stood in front of it and faced her two subordinates as well as Clarke. She considered her next words carefully. “The army of the twelve clans is dispersing,” she informed her warriors. “Only the Trikru army will be left by nightfall.”

Anya leaned against the table that had the model. She folded her arms. “Have you decided where we will winter, Heda?”

Indra crossed her arms similarly. “It will be difficult without Tondc.”

“Boyce is our best option,” Lexa decided.

“That will take us further west… away from Polis,” Anya reminded.

Lexa understood the risk. “It is our best choice.”

“What about Tondc?” Clarke prompted the group. “Will it get rebuilt?”

“Eventually,” Anya answered.

“Will you go to Polis, Heda?” Indra asked. She clearly was looking for other indictors from Lexa’s answer.

Clarke looked from Indra and wondered the same thing. She recalled Lexa had invited her to go to Polis, like a vacation. It was such a luxury in Clarke’s mind.

“I am undecided.” Lexa cut her attention to Clarke, who stood near Anya. She could tell the Skaikru leader was more comfortable in Anya’s presence than Indra’s own. She knew Anya and Clarke had formed a bond after their escape from Mount Weather. It was a bond forged in blood and death that would bind them close for years. Lexa respected their relationship. “My concerns fall on the alliances with the Skaikru.”

“We have completed our alliance,” Indra declared.

Clarke did her best to stay calm. She had grown mostly use to Indra’s bitterness. She was more concerned by Anya’s opinion. It was an opinion that could better sway Lexa.

“Yes, it is complete.” Lexa firmly agreed she had seen the alliance through to the end of the war.

“And they have taken our lands,” Indra reminded. “They owe-”

“Nothing,” Anya finished. She looked over at Indra and countered, “Skaikru has given us back the mountain.”

“It was never ours,” Indra argued.

Anya shrugged. “It is now.” She looked at the commander. “The land debt is paid.”

Indra looked over at the commander and slotted her eyes at the consideration in Lexa’s eyes. “You cannot be serious?”

Lexa met the warrior’s annoyed features. “Anya has a point.” She crossed her arms and reminded, “We would still be choking on the acid fog without the Skaikru’s help.” She looked over at Clarke, who had remained quiet the entire time. She wondered if Clarke was overwhelmed by the meeting somehow, yet they had been in more heated ones in the past. For some reason, Clarke was allowing it to play out on its own. “Klark?” she softly called.

The prompt caused Clarke to shake off her thoughtfulness. “We want peace… another alliance.” She looked from Lexa to Anya then back at the commander. “Something more than just a truce.” She fisted her hands at her side. “We helped you with the mountain… now help us survive on the ground.”

A brief silence filled the tent until Anya broke it first. “Azgeda will wipe the Skaikru off the Earth, Heda.” She looked at Clarke. “And take their guns to use against us.”

Lexa sighed heavily and walked away from the small group. She weighed Anya’s warning.

“If Queen Nia can find a weapon against you, she will take it.” Anya watched the commander’s stiff shoulders. She hoped her former second understood the deeper meaning to her words because the most powerful weapon against Lexa was standing next to Anya.

Lexa bowed her head slightly. She tasted the old memory’s anger. After a few seconds, she put the memory to rest again and faced the two warriors. But her attention eventually settled on Clarke of the Sky people. She approached the Skaikru leader and asked, “What is it that you need to survive?”

Clarke lifted her chin and held the commander’s gaze. Before she even gave her demands, she knew exactly how it would be handled by the three grounders in the tent. She always seemed to do a fine job of stirring up trouble. She took a deep breath and finally answered, “We need supplies from Mount Weather.”

“Do you take us for fools?” Indra growled. She stepped towards Clarke but Anya blocked her. Indra was briefly startled by the general’s protection, but she barred her teeth anyway.

Clarke nearly choked on the friction in the tent. She glanced at Anya’s defensive stance and wondered when that happened between them. She only ever expected that from Lexa, who at the moment seemed far too calm.

“Indra,” Lexa warned, fairly.

Indra broke from her threat and the growl suddenly died off. She huffed and moved away from Anya and Clarke. She walked further and hoped the space would cool her head.

“What kind of supplies?” Lexa asked the Skaikru leader.

Anya had backed off and looked at Clarke.

“Food, medical-”

“Weapons,” Indra hissed from her spot on the other side of the tent.

Clarke slotted her eyes at the dark warrior and countered, “Well we don’t exactly know how to use swords and bows.” She was glad when Indra stayed quiet.

“There’s probably stuff in there that we could use that we don’t even know about,” Clarke mentioned.

Lexa glanced over at Indra, who was still struggled with inner control. She took a deep breath that calmed her own nerves. There was a lot of nervous energy in the tent that set all of them on edge. She noticed Clarke was the least affected by it and rightfully so.

“It’ll help us get through the winter,” Clarke explained, “Until we can get on our feet.”

Lexa understood Clarke’s needs for her people. She sensed that Anya was far less concerned than Indra. She nodded and made her decision. “I will have my warriors take the supplies to your people.”

Clarke narrowed her eyes at the terms meant to obviously satisfy everybody. However, Clarke was unhappy and it showed across her face. “No offense or anything, but we should really go through what’s in the mountain. We’ll know what to look for.”

Anya felt the charge first that came off the commander. She studied the commander’s features, which were barely staying together after Clarke’s argument. She breathed deep and was filled by the bitter scent in the air. “Clarke…” Anya looked at the Sky leader. “Heda is being gracious.” She saw the fire in Clarke’s blue eyes. “You should accept the offer,” she further advised. She prayed Clarke would listen to her. Normally Lexa had more resolve, but Anya suspected the recent battle had taken a toll on Lexa’s self restraint.

Clarke ignored the warning in Anya’s tones. She shook her head and argued, “No. The warriors could miss important medical supplies that we should have.”

“Should have?” Indra snapped. She neared the group again and centered all her fire on Clarke. “As if you are entitled to it, girl,” she snarled, dangerously.

“Well I did kind of take down the mountain,” Clarke fired back. “After years of your failed attempts.”

Indra took steps closer, hand on her blade. She bared her teeth in signal of an attack, until her path was blocked by the commander. She straightened her back and peered up into green eyes. Indra was pushed back by an invisible force coming off the commander. Still a low rumble sounded deep in her chest.

Clarke looked from the commander’s back to Anya. She noticed how Anya was shaking, for some strange reason.

“Leave us,” Lexa growled at Indra, first. She then turned her sights onto Anya, who also quickly left behind Indra. She remained rooted in the same spot. She was breathing heavy and stared up at the tent. “Everybody’s nerves are still on edge since the battle, Klark… including my own.”

Clarke sighed and carefully explained, “I’m not trying to piss anybody off but those supplies could make a huge difference for my people.”

“I understand.” Lexa finally faced the Skaikru leader.

Clarke noticed a strain in Lexa’s features that had never been there. She nearly asked what was wrong then thought better of it.

“But you must understand that my people fear what is in that mountain… what can harm them.” Lexa gripped her sword hilt at her side. Her knuckles were nearly white from her hold.

Clarke shook her head and asked, “I thought we were past this trust issue?”

Lexa took a deep breath. “You know I trust you.” She heard the strain in her own voice and hoped Clarke did too. Her nerves were nearly fractured by Clarke’s pure stubbornness.

“It doesn’t sound like it,” Clarke fought. She kept pushing the commander’s limits, and she could see it. She struggled to stop herself. It was as if something dark controlled Clarke.

“Trust is not the issue,” Lexa snapped sharply. She was trembling and yet doing her best to stay in place.

Clarke was breathing hard and felt overwhelmed by the fight. She tried recalling how it even started in the first place. She finally had nothing to say and yet her face said it all.

Lexa growled low at Clarke’s continued defiance. She could feel a slow snap begin in her chest and caused her growl to get more dangerous. She had the sheer willpower to walk away until Clarke grabbed her hand.

“Lexa…” Clarke froze at the alarming brightness in Lexa’s eyes when she looked back at her.

“Let me go before I do something we both will regret,” Lexa suggested.

Clarke easily allowed Lexa’s damp fingers to slide out of hers. She watched the commander rush out of the tent. Once she was alone, she felt a rush of calm air fill her. She let out a huge breath and touched her forehead. “What the Hell just happened?” She looked about the tent as if there were answers, except there was only more confusion.

Like the others, Clarke hastened out of the tent and the fresh air further cleared her head. She noticed Ryder gave her a dark glance. She considered whether he had heard all or parts of the conversation. She disregarded it and decided she needed a walk.

Like yesterday, it was a cool but calm day. There were more clouds but still plenty of sun. It was a perfect reminder why Clarke was happy to be alive. And whatever had happened in the tent was smaller than what was really important to Clarke. But how it all happened still troubled Clarke.

Eventually Clarke found herself at a creek. She decided it was a place to stop and enjoy further. She leaned against a tree and allowed herself a moment to relax. She became lost in her thoughts until a low cry caught her ear. Clarke grabbed her handgun and turned to her right. She waited for any other noise, but it was extremely quiet. She considered whether to go back to camp even though patrol was probably not that far.

After a few minutes, Clarke lowered her gun but kept the safety off. She listened to the creek’s comforting sounds. Then branches snapping caught her ear so she peered around the left side.

“Klark,” Lexa called.

Clarke relaxed and lowered the gun again. “Over here.”

Lexa knew better than to sneak up on the Skaikru leader that had a gun. She had made herself noisy just so Clarke detected her. She continued to do so as she neared the smaller woman.

Clarke looked up at the commander and quickly noticed the strained lines were gone from Lexa. She was relieved and quickly offered, “I’m sorry about earlier.” She shook her head. “I don’t know what got into me.”

Lexa considered a response, but all of them troubled her. She understood what probably happened to Clarke. She held the answer close to herself rather than telling Clarke.

“I know you do trust me,” Clarke whispered. She pushed off the tree and faced the commander. “I’m sorry I said that to you.” She and Lexa had come far in their relationship. She dared hoping they had formed a friendship in the past weeks.

“It’s okay,” Lexa offered. She had a slight frown and explained, “This battle has drained all of us… and that means you too.”

Clarke nodded and ran her fingers through her hair. “I know but I don’t usually push my luck like that.” She was still confused by what happened in the tent. “You were being fair about the supplies in the mountain.” She grumbled and quietly added, “But Indra was just getting to me.”

“Indra is ruled by her anger,” Lexa reminded. “Do not feed into it.”

Normally Clarke would ignore Indra and yet it was just different this time. She sighed and looked back at the creek. She worriedly stared at it. “We’re okay?”

“Sha.”

Clarke felt better about it, mostly. “Thank you for trusting me… still.” She peered up at the commander. Nothing was forthcoming from the commander, and Clarke worried again. She moved into Lexa’s space and reached for the commander but only grabbed air.

Lexa had back stepped to keep their distance.

“Lexa-”

“We should return to camp,” Lexa suggested. She waited for Clarke to go first.

After a heavy sigh, Clarke conceded and started for the camp. She noticed how Lexa remained behind her, flanked and careful. There was something strange going on between them. She wished she understood what, but she knew it was a bad time to press Lexa. Even if Lexa seemed calmer, it was probably more an act than anything. There was most likely a good reason why Lexa was suddenly keeping her distance. It was still strange to Clarke because only yesterday they shared a long hug and the day before that they had kissed. Clarke wondered if she would ever truly understand the grounders. She let it go for now and instead enjoyed the last of the walk back to camp. At least it was a beautiful day.

To be continued.