LOST – CHAPTER 13
The dining hall was marvellous just as Clarke had expected. There was a huge wooden table with 12 chairs, 4 of which were occupied by her friends and Vera. The chair at the head of the table was obviously left for the Commander. As Lexa made her way to her chair, she instructed Clarke to take the one at her side without any verbal communication. Vera was sitting on the other side of the Commander, beside her Octavia. Next to Clarke was Raven who was busy arguing over something with Wick, who had obviously taken the chair next to her.
Clarke, after noting the sitting arrangement, took a look at the food which the servers were lining on the table. Her jaw dropped; there were just so many kinds of food. She hardly knew any. So she picked up what looked familiar first.
"You know how to bake bread?" She asked Lexa.
"I assure you, she doesn't." Vera replied cheekily.
Lexa glared at her and Vera rolled her eyes.
"Bread is one of our main food courses, Clarke."
"Really? Do you have ovens?" Octavia joined in the conversation.
"No. Those were destroyed during the World War."
Octavia gave her a puzzled look.
"The Commander likes to read books written before the war." Vera answered Octavia's unanswered question.
"So how do you make them without ovens?" Clarke asked.
"I'll show you sometime." Lexa said.
"Mmmm. What is this? It's so sweet and tasty." Octavia moaned in pleasure.
"Pastry. It actually has a very rich history."
"It has been a favourite of almost all our Commanders, so there were some who rewarded generously the ones who invented new kinds of pastries."
"Wow. Heda, do you like pastries?"
Clarke eyed her curiously as she nodded slowly.
"It probably has something to do with the Commander's spirit." Clarke teased.
"You should try the fish, guys. I swear to God, it's the best thing I've ever had." Raven intervened.
The Sky People commented on each and every dish they tasted, leaving an amused Lexa and Vera. Lexa, though, was happy that she could provide Clarke even with this momentary happiness. She liked a smiling face on the blonde.
As soon as lunch was over, Lexa got up and asked the Sky People to follow her. They followed the Commander as she moved around the palace.
"This place is huge!" Wick exclaimed.
"When was it built?" Clarke asked.
"This used to be the headquarters of the Department of Defense before the nuclear war." Lexa replied.
"Wow. This was 'the Pentagon!' ". Octavia said excitedly.
"You are right. This does have a pentagonal shape now that I think about it. Wow, this is just so cool." Raven chimed in.
Lexa nodded in acknowledgement but kept on walking. Clarke now looked at the walls of the building with different eyes. She thought, this must be the place where all those horrible decisions were made. Where people decided the fate of other people. Where people protected the ones they loved and destroyed their enemies. This was where it all started. A shiver went down her body just thinking about it.
She was so busy thinking about it all, trying to picture it all, that she didn't realise they had reached their destination and thus, gave a questioning look to Lexa when she stopped. Lexa pried open the chestnut coloured door and moved to the left, about to allow the Sky People in. But Lexa didn't need to waste her breath as Raven pushed past everyone and entered the room.
"OH MY GOD! So many books!"
And in she went, leaving a dumbfounded Commander. No one had ever dared enter the room without her permission in her presence. She wanted to tell Raven that when she felt a light brush at her shoulder as Clarke went in, followed by Wick. Octavia, who was the last one standing outside the room, at least looked at her for permission before entering and Lexa nodded.
Clarke said out loud, the words echoed in the room that was full of cold air and books. Books everywhere! Each wall was armed with a huge shelf with many shelves in between as well. It was barely possible to see the paintwork on the walls. There were all different styles and sizes of lettering on the spines of black, blue, red… every coloured books. It was one of the most magnificent things Clarke had ever laid eyes on.
With wonder, she smiled.
She knew she was grinning like an idiot and tried to wipe off the smile, however, she realized instantly that it was a pointless thing. She could feel the eyes of the Commander travelling down her body and when she looked at her, they rested on her face.
The others had long vanished into different departments of the library, leaving the place where she was standing more silent than she ever thought possible. It extended like an elastic, tight and uncomfortable. She finally broke it.
Gradually, Clarke took a few steps to the shelf on her right. The distance decreased, decreased even more, until she could touch the books raising her hand. She ran the back of her hand along the first shelf, listening to the shuffle of her fingernails gliding across the spinal cord of each book. It sounded like a musical tone. She used both hands. She raced them, row after row. One shelf against the other; opposite to one another. And she laughed. Her voice was high pitched, full of joy, ringing in the area. She eventually stopped and stood in front of a book.
How many books had she managed to touch and how many were left behind? She wanted to do that again but heard soft footsteps behind her as the Commander approached her, reminding her of her presence. Clarke didn't run to another shelf. She just ran her hands through a compartment of the shelf in front of her. This time she felt the books through her palm. Several times she almost pulled a title from its place but didn't dare disturb them. They were too perfect. Too dreamlike.
Suddenly she felt the Commander's voice tickle her ear as she said,
"I don't know which one to pick." She said, ecstatic, her hand hovering hesitantly, traveling back and forth, over several titles.
Lexa laughed. Actually laughed.
Surprised, Clarke turned around. Little did she know how close she was to the Commander. Thus when she faced the Commander, her nose bumped into hers. Clarke gulped, realizing their proximity, and Lexa immediately stopped laughing. Her green eyes bore into the blue ones. She felt something move in her stomach as she observed Clarke's eyes drooping down to her lips. Lexa's eyes reciprocated the gesture and were met with Clarke's tongue wettingherown lips. Lexa tried to recall the reason why she had backed off the blonde in the first place. Why being with her wasn't a good idea. But in that moment, she seemed to be suffering from a memory loss. Her hands moved from their sides to cup Clarke's cheeks-
"Clarke! Come here, we've found some useful material!"
Raven's voice broke the trance and Lexa immediately moved back. Clarke, on the other hand, wasn't so quick to recover and her eyes were still glued to the Commander's lips.
"Clarke, I think we should go and see what they've found." Lexa said, clearing her throat.
"Huh? Oh, yeah yeah. I was just going." Clarke mumbled as she moved towards where she presumed Raven was.
"No Clarke. She is on the left side."
Clarke knew what a skilled hunter Lexa was so she didn't question her judgment, instead followed her and soon enough was met with her friends. Raven and Octavia were huddled over a book while Wick had another. Clarke moved to look at what Wick had found.
"It says here that if we have some record of the voice, we can modify it and make it command the machine." Clarke summarized, after reading a paragraph.
"Duh. But the Wallace didn't really send us welcome video messages or Christmas greeting voice messages." Raven said sarcastically.
"Didn't they have video recording machines installed in ?" Lexa asked.
"They did...Do you think we could have tapes of them over there?"
"Too late, princess. All the surveillance machines destroy the data after 60 days unless stored." Wick said, shaking his head.
"But I am sure they would've recorded something; some family video? Some party? Something with their voice on it." Octavia pointed out.
"Yes, Octavia is actually right." Raven said, closing the book she was reading with a thud.
"Why do you sound so surprised about it?" Octavia murmured and Raven rolled her eyes.
Clarke clapped excitedly, "Great. So we ride to Mount Weather tomorrow and get the-"
"Ladies, didn't you listen? We need to modify the voice. We don't have a software for that."
"Can't you create one?" Octavia asked.
"Sure I can, in a year or so." Wick said sarcastically.
Clarke waited for Raven to tease him and inform them of how much less time she'd require but when she didn't, Clarke sighed and said,
"Okay. Let's just keep digging. We will find something."
"Hey, I think I found something." Octavia's voice reached Clarke's ears after hours of silence.
"If a machine is damaged and then injected with a virus, it will lose its internal memory and be rendered useless until data is re-fed to it." Octavia read.
"It's a machine of destruction, I cannot allow you to damage it when you are not sure of the consequences. I cannot have it bomb down my people because of a mistake." Lexa harshly said and glared at Octavia.
"Commander, it will not only finish off your people but the entire human race. None of us want that. We are just discussing our possibilities here." Clarke spoke reasonably.
Lexa nodded and stopped eyeing Octavia menacingly.
"Raven, the machine has got to communicate with the silos. If we cut the connection or actually, as it probably uses wireless signals, we can smash the transmitter. No transmitter, no signals sent, no commands given." Wick said animatedly.
"You are right! We will just need to disable the transmitter but-"
"But what now?" Wick asked impatiently.
"I think the machine already has transmitted signals and set the bomb on time."
"Set on time?" Octavia asked confused.
"Like a time bomb, already activated, commands already transmitted."
"No, that's just not possible." Wick said, shaking his head in denial.
"We both know it is."
Wick moved to Raven and glared at her as if this was all her fault.
Clarke cleared her throat, "Guys, keep it together. We will find something. We will fix this. I know we can."
Octavia nodded encouragingly. Wick slowly backed away from Raven. It was clear he was under a lot of stress.
"I think we should continue this tomorrow with fresh minds. It's nearly 9pm anyway." Clarke said.
"Wow. I didn't realize we've been here for so long. No wonder Wick's become so cranky then," Raven said, murmuring the last part.
Lexa heard a knock on her door.
Clarke entered her room, gave a look at the untouched plate of food on the table and made her way to the balcony, where Lexa was standing.
They stood side by side but remained silent, both staring at the moon.
"Do you think they will be able to stop the machine, Clarke of the Sky People?"
"Honestly? I don't know. I never do." Clarke said, without turning.
Lexa, however, turned to Clarke at this.
"I never thought I would survive my 18th birthday, I never thought I would be sent to Earth and I never expected to survive here on Earth, when I still don't really know how... but I did,my people did, but I didn't know we would."
Lexa silently took in Clarke's silhouette in the moonlight. Her blonde hair were free from pins or ties. They rustled with the wind and the moonlight made it glow. The exposed skin of her arms and neck also glowed in the silver light. She was breathtaking. Slowly, Clarke turned to face Lexa and Lexa nearly forgot how to breath, looking into those beautiful bright blue eyes.
"Why did you think you wouldn't survive your 18th birthday, Clarke?" She heard herself ask.
"Because it was supposed to be the day I died." She whispered.
Lexa instinctively tucked Clarke's hair behind her ears as a gust of wind blew, bringing them on her face. Clarke waited expectantly for Lexa to ask her about the story but she didn't.
"I am glad you didn't." She just said and turned back around to the railing.
"My generals will be coming tomorrow. They all want to meet you, Clarke."
Clarke laughed a harsh laugh, "Of course they do. I am 'the destroyer' after all."
Lexa wasn't going to lie to Clarke. She didn't say anything.
"So I know I met all the generals when you announced the alliance between our people but I will be honest, I really didn't pay attention to the generals at the time. Though, I, of course, know the Ice Queen. Butwhich clans do your generals Jared and Michael belong to?"
Lexa was impressed that Clarke even remembered their names as Lexa knew very well what state of mind Clarke was in during those days. However, she didn't bring it up.
"Jared is from the Stone clan and Michael from the Wolf clan. You haven't met Luna from the Boat clan as she was absent from the meeting. Then there are generals from the Harvest clan, the Wind Clan, the-"
Clarke cut her off.
"I see, a lot of clans. Are they different from the Trikru?"
Lexa smiled a little before answering, "Did you find the people of Polis different from the Trikru, Clarke?"
"Same goes for the other clans. We are all different."
"They only use English here." Clarke said it as a statement.
Lexa regardless confirmed it with a nod. "Trigedasleng is only for the Tree people."
"How did you unite them then, all the clans, I mean when they are all different?"
"Destroying mountain men was our common goal."
"But now that the mountain is gone, will they listen to you?"
Lexa took a moment to contemplate this, "They have gotten used to the luxury of peace between the clans and no one amongst them will be able to keep peace without me as their leader. However, they are curious about another leader they haven't metyet who might have the power to replace me."
"They would want me to overthrow you?" Clarke asked surprised.
Lexa dipped her head.
"But that's insane!" Clarke protested.
"This is how leadership works, Clarke. My generals are not happy about their losses in Ton DC." Lexa said impassively.
"I am just as responsible as you for that!" Clarke said heatedly.
"I was responsible for my people that died there Clarke, not you."
"But you did it for the greater good! You said it yourself." Clarke continued in the same frustrated tone.
Lexa didn't respond anything to this.
"Lexa, I saw the people when we came here. You brought back their family to them. They love you." Clarke said softly.
Lexa smiled, this time the smile reaching her eyes. And they twinkled but soon, they hardened, "The generals don't agree with them."
"What about the Commander's spirit and all that?"
"No one can replace me while I am alive, Clarke."
"They will kill you?" Clarke shouted, outraged.
"If they must."Lexa said emotionlessly.
"What? That's ridiculous! The spirit will just travel, no?"
"My soul needs to be bonded with another's for that to happen."
"Umm...you have to marry a guy and have an offspring?" Clarke asked, feeling awkward.
"No Clarke, my soul has to be bonded with anyone. Not necessarily a man."
"Okay then, I just need to say that your generals are idiots if they think they can have anyone better than you to lead them and that certainly is not me."
Silence followed between them until Clarke asked,
"You have all these books, then why do you live like this? Without all the machines that could actually make your life easier?"
Lexa took in a deep breath before answering.
"Technology is what destroyed the old world, Clarke."
"But you do not hate technology. We formed an alliance because of it." Clarke argued.
"No, I don't. But my people do."
"Do you want thatto change?"
"No. I don't want them to become obsessed with it and repeat History. I value life and peace, even if I have to give up comforts for it, Clarke of the Sky People."
"Fair point. Anyhow, why is your food still untouched?"
Lexa ignored Clarke and kept staring at the sky.
"Lexa, eat please. What's the point of tiring yourself over something you have no control over?" Clarke asked and pulled Lexa's arm to turn her around and face her.
"This is the first battle I don't have any plans for." Lexa confessed in a small voice.
"Plans don't last very long in battles, remember?"
Lexa's eyes shined in recognition.
Clarke dipped her head and dragged the Commander to the table and, pulling out a chair, made the Commander sit.
Then she poured a glass of water for Lexa, brought the plate of food in front of her, all the while green eyes trailing her each and every movement.
"There. Now eat. I'll go and catch some sleep."
Lexa remained impassive, just staring at the blonde.
Clarke got up to leave but stopped by the door, "You are showing me around the city tomorrow, Commander."
As Clarke left, Lexa couldn't help but be amused by her last command. Clarke might show her respect in front of her generals and her people, but in private she treated her like a friend, like a playmate. Somehow, Lexa couldn't find it in herself to hold it against the blonde.
Smiling, Lexa started eating. Clarke clearly had a way with words just like how a leader is supposed to have. She had seen her get through her panic stricken group in the library and was even able to break through Lexa. Lexa hardly ever listened to anyone's wishes or commands, even before she became the Commander, but the Sky girl was a different case. Something about her made Lexa listen, though grudgingly.
After about an hour, when Lexa was sure everyone was asleep, she grabbed a heavy bag lying next to her bed, in the corner of the room, sheathed her sword, hung it with her belt, covered her face with a scarf and left the palace quietly.
Clarke threw herself on her bed and stared at the blank ceiling, thinking. She already hated the generals for what they wanted. Lexa didn't deserve it after everything she had sacrificed for her people. And to think that Clarke would take up Lexa's position after they murdered her was just outrageous. If that happened she would take the position just to kill each and every one of those ungrateful generals, Clarke thought. She shook her head. She was thinking about something that would never happen, she reassured herself. The generals would soon find out that she wasn't interested in their mad plans. What she needed to focus on right now was the stupid, pain in the ass, out of control machine. She groaned. Would she ever experience real peace? Both Mentally and physical peace? Probably not but she had to fix this for those who could have it. For her people.
Clarke tried closing her eyes to drift off into the land of unconsciousness but failed to do so. Somehow her mind wandered to the long list of names on Lexa's wall. She tried to imagine how Lexaacquired the names of her victims then wrote them down on the wall, to mourn them, to hate herself for it, to punish herself. She tried to imagine the tears that leaked from the Commander's eyes as she looked at the names and felt a pang in her own heart. With leadership comes sacrifices. She wondered if writing those names made her feel better because Clarke, despite now accepting the fact that she had no choice but to kill the mountain men, still hated herself for it. Still felt drowned in their blood. She still felt haunted by them from time to time. She tossed and turned in her bed, trying to find a comfortable position so that somehow sleep would invade her but this didn't happen. When her dad's watch beeped, she looked at it and read it was midnight.
Finally giving up trying to sleep, Clarke got up from her bed and opened her door. She thought a midnight stroll might be a good idea and made her way to the grounds. But once she reached the outside, she didn't stroll, rather sat by the fountain, observing it. She brought her hand in front herself to touch the water; it was chilly. She gasped and pulled her hand back. Silently observing it seemed to be the best choice. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a shadow by one of the statues of the Commanders. She thought she imagined it at first but then she saw it marching in a very rapid pace. Curiosity got the better of her as she followed it, though by keeping a lot of distance because she knew how well developed the grounders hearing ability was.
The unknown person stopped in front of a very old house. Then they knocked at the door discreetly. Clarke tried to peak in to see the stranger's face but failed because of the cloth covering their face. Clarke held her breath as the door finally opened and a lady appeared. She looked like she was in her mid-thirties and had a welcoming smile on her face.
The stranger handed over the bag they were carrying to the lady and said something that Clarke failed to hear. She dared to move a few steps closer to the women, inwardly thanking Lexa for all her training. Finally she was able to hear them.
"...yes, yes. They've been waiting for you. They will be very happy with all these but why don't you ever keep these with you? People give it to you out of love." She heard the woman say.
"I respect that but I don't need them. these children however will surely love them. Are they asleep?" A very familiar voice asked, and Clarke's eyes widened.
"Of course not. As soon as they heard you were back they've been waiting impatiently for you to visit them. They missed you, Commander."
"And I them."
With that the older woman moved and Clarke gasped as nearly a dozen children came to hug the Commander. All of them smiling at her. Some were dressed up like her and even had the war paint on. Clarke laughed out loud but was sure Lexa wouldn't be able to hear her thanks to all the laughter and joyful noise around her. Then she watched amusedly as the Commander unsheathed her wooden sword and started to play with them and teach them some useful moves at the same time. The moment was so perfect that Clarke wanted to commit it to her memory for ever. After watching the scene for nearly an hour long, she made her way back to the room she was given.
Once she reached there, she took out her sketchbook and pencil from her little orange bag that she had brought to Polis. She found a blank page and went to Lexa's room to draw. Somehow, she felt she'd be able to draw Lexa better in her own room, surrounded by her scent.
The sky had began to change colour from deep black to grey by the time the Commander came back to the palace. She jogged straight up to her room, with a broad grin on her face. She didn't even try to hide it as she knew she was alone. Once she reached her room, she took off her cloak, her scarf and slowly started making her way to her bed but her eyes fell on her desk and she turned halfway around. She had left the candles burning and wasn't surprised to find them in the same state. However, she gave another look to her desk and was sure that the things on them had been messed up. Her maps were placed on the right side on the desk though she was sure she had placed them on the left. The candle stand was sitting on the top centre on the table while she hadn't left it there either. She grabbed the hilt of her real sword and made her way to the bed. She was sure the intruder was laying there now that she really looked at it; the sheets were ruffled and not hanging properly. However once she reached the bed, the deadly look, which had taken over her features, turned into an amused one. Clarke, the leader of the Sky People, the beautiful blonde, was peacefully sleeping in her bed with her mouth hanging slightly open and drooling. Lexa was thoroughly exhausted after the long day and night but she couldn't find it in her to wake up the other woman. Clarke was sprawled diagonally on her bed, hence leaving no space for anyone else. The Commander stood there awkwardly, not sure what to do with her sleepy self now. Finally she came up with a solution and thought of taking the extra pillow, placing it on the floor and sleeping there. The pillow was next to Clarke's head. She put her sword away, moved back to bed and bent over to take the pillow,all the while trying her best not to look at the girl under her. She succeeded in grabbing the pillow but as she picked it up, she saw a notebook under it. Curious, she picked it up in the same swift motion. Lexa folded her legs and sat like a cat at the edge of the bed as she opened the book.
She saw a beautiful picture of the sky on the very first page. Clarke had managed to capture the beauty of an early morning sky. Lexa didn't know where she had found the colours but what she knew was that they were used with perfect accuracy. She brought her fingers to touch the paper, her eyes following the shades,, taking it all in. The next was a sketch of a man sitting with Clarke, an arm around her shoulders. He had a few wrinkles on his face and by the looks of it, Lexa deduced his was her father. She smiled at the sketch of the girl next the man. Lexa hadn't known herself a father's love but Jake's love for his daughter was palpable in his eyes; Clarke had captured it so well. Still smiling, Lexa turned the page and, as soon as she did, the smile vanished from her face.
There, on the page, right in front of her was the face of the woman who had made Lexa Commander. Who had trained her, who had nurtured her, who had supported her who had taught her what life wasand who had died for her. Her friend, her mentor; Anya. Tears filled the Commander's eyes without her permission. No, she whispered to herself. She was not weak. She willed herself to turn the page, and once again was shocked beyond compare. There, on paper, was her own self, with a big smile on her face, surrounded by the children she was with no more than 10 minutes ago. She sucked in a sharp breath as she stared at the picture. She felt emotions overwhelm her again. She needed privacy, she needed fresh air so she tried to get up and move to the balcony. Clarke now knew too much about Lexa, not the Commander but Lexa and Lexa didn't know what she should feel about it. She had managed to sneak upon her, follow her the whole way to the house and Lexa didn't even suspect a thing. She knew she was angry at herself for this. But there were so many other emotions raging in her mind right now that she couldn't separate them.
Just when she was half up, a hand curled around her wrist and pulled her back. She hadn't realized her cheeks were streaked with tears until she felt the set of hands of the other woman on them, when her face was turned around. The blue-eyed angel, wiped away the tears with her soft hands and cupped her face. Then she felt her lips yielding hers in a soft, chaste kiss. She closed her eyes to feel the love and tenderness of the kiss. When she opened them, the Sky Princess's lips were hovering over hers just a few millimetres away and her blue eyes were staring right into hers. She didn't need to voice what she wanted, as Lexa read it clearly in her eyes. She wanted to know Lexa and because it was Clarke, the loving Clarke, the understanding Clarke, the supportive Clarke, Lexa nodded lightly. She was going to bare her soul to the woman who held her heart, and wait for the answer to the question about whether or not this woman wanted to love her.