It had been going on for a while. Rival papers, rival journalists. Clarke would get the tip, Lexa would arrive first at the scene – or vice versa. She rather liked it when it was her getting the story first, but her victories were just as frequent as Lexa’s.
There had to be a traitor in her office – there was one in Lexa’s after all, with Niylah feeding Clarke scoop after scoop just as soon as Lexa got word of them. Was Lexa flirting with one of her co-workers too? The thought was… oddly unpleasant.
Of course, there were the times when their rivalry, known (and barely put up with) by all, took a slight… detour and things between them would heat up in a very different way than usual.
Even though she would never admit it to anyone, those were the times Clarke revelled the most. Those were the times that made losing a few first hand stories almost worth it. Lexa didn’t need to know that, though.
“Penny for your thoughts.”
The voice, softer than her own, pulled the corners of Clarke’s lips up into a smile. She lay her chin on the chest underneath her, blue eyes playfully meeting green ones.
“Thank God none of our friends know about this,” she admitted, placing a soft kiss between Lexa’s breasts. “Raven and Octavia would tease me endlessly.”
To Clarke’s surprise, Lexa didn’t smirk; she frowned. “You haven’t told your friends about us?”
Clarke laughed and got off of Lexa, opting to lie down beside her. “What, like you have?” The deepening crease between those striking jade eyes was answer enough and she didn’t know how to react. “There is no us, Lexa.”
Suddenly Lexa was up, throwing covers off her lithe body and searching for her clothes among the jungle of Clarke’s bedroom floor. Clarke, in turn, was utterly confused, taken aback by Lexa’s sullen behaviour.
“Where are you going?”
“What does it look like, Clarke?” Lexa snapped as she pulled pants up to her waist. “I’m going home.” “Why? We were just relaxing, I don't– what the hell is wrong with you?”
Lexa finished buttoning her shirt and heaved an exasperated sigh, turning to Clarke with a cold gaze.
“I get it, Clarke. We are rivals, we steal each other’s stories, and then we fuck to keep the adrenaline pumping.” Lexa’s voice was as gelid and stoic as her eyes. “It’s just curious that you still see it as that when we have been staying the night for over three months.”
Feeling exposed all of a sudden, Clarke sat up and pulled the blankets up to cover her chest. “We agreed that it was easier if you caught the morning train to your place,” she said defensively.
“I’ve got a drawer in your wardrobe, Clarke!”
“Not my fault you leave your clothes here all the time,” the blonde shrugged.
Lexa’s eye roll was worthy of some Olympic back flip medal or something. Were there Olympic medals for back flips? Clarke didn’t really know a lot about sports.
“You call me aloof and emotionally constipated, but I am not the one who keeps believing those easy ways out after three months of mornings after,” Lexa claimed, a hue of hurt in the rainbow of feelings in her voice.
Clarke was at a loss for words, so she said the first thing that came to mind. “We fuck. What’s the big deal about that?”
Apparently, that was the wrong thing to say, for Lexa just turned away with a huff and walked out, making sure to slam the door as she left.
They hadn’t talked for a month. Lexa had been keeping her distance: not coming any close to her stories, leaving Clarke alone to make the most of her own scoops. It would have been paradise, if not for the gaping absence of teasing remarks, insufferable smirks – any words at all. Clarke kept trying to steal some scoops for herself, but Lexa was relentless, never letting Clarke win.
In a fell swoop, Clarke had lost her fuck buddy and her rival. Every time she got to a place, Lexa would either be long gone or never show up at all. Journalism just wasn’t as fun anymore.
Clarke had loved the whole enemies/lovers dynamic, sleeping with none other than your greatest rival. After every hustle, they would fall into bed together, releasing their frustration and satiating their rivalry in each other’s arms, mouths, fingers. It was something Clarke had never experienced.
Clarke was snatched out of her thoughts by a binder falling violently on her desk. She looked up to find Octavia glaring at her.
“What now, O?” Clarke asked impatiently. “Too much paperwork for your lazy ass?”
“Wow, Lexa really left your panties in a twist,” her brunette friend chuckled dryly. “Can you two please go back to fucking?”
Clark’s bewildered gasp and choke would have been funny if not for the situation they were in. “You know? she choked out in a spluttering mess.
“Of course I do,” Octavia frowned. “We all know Lexa lets you get half of her stories and then you two go home and fuck each other’s brains out. Or, well, did. Now you two just mope around like you lost your favourite candy.”
The knowledge that Lexa was doing just as bad as her gave Clarke an odd hopeful feeling. “She’s moping?”
“Of course she is. How would you expect her to react to a break up?”
“This was not– We weren’t even together.”
This time, Octavia laughed heartily, taking more than a minute to gather her bearings and turn to Clarke with a mocking expression.
“Sweetie, like or not, you two were dating for the past three months. You don’t do the morning after with someone you don’t care about.”
There it was again, the morning after. Clarke didn’t understand what relevance it had to the case. “I still don’t know why the morning after seems to be so important,” she grumbled.
Octavia just shook her head in disbelief. “You may be blonde, but you’re not blonde, Clarke. Don’t lie to yourself just because you’re afraid to face the truth.”
Clarke was determined to get this right. This story was Lexa’s, Niylah had promised, and she was going to get there fast enough to catch the brunette before she could leave.
She would also steal the story, but that was another story. Pun fully intended, Clarke decided in that moment.
When Lexa showed up, she was the image of beauty. Long brown curls tamed in a ponytail, her face was clean and open and probably what heaven looked like. Emerald eyes didn’t hide their owner’s shock to see her.
“Clarke,” Lexa half breathed, half gasped, eyes wide and lips parted.
Clarke had to remember the speech she had practiced at home, in front of her mirror, like a romantic loser.
“Lexa, I– Can we talk?”
Lexa eyed her suspiciously, but eventually agreed, with a discreet nod of her head. They headed to another room, making the interviewee wait for its five minutes in the limelight.
“What do you want, Clarke?” The hostility of Lexa’s tone made her flinch. She had a lot of explaining to do. “I will not go back to the way we were before.”
“I know, I know,” Clarke rushed to say, promising her memories of Lexa writing under her that she would give them full attention once she got home. “I don’t want that either.” At Lexa’s frown, she ploughed on. “I don’t want to go back to the way we were before, because I want so much more. I thought what we had was just an easy rivals with benefits situation. We would do the rivalling during the day, fuck during the night. You kept clothes at my place so no one would ever see you leave with the clothes of the day before on. In the middle of all the lying I did to keep myself from panicking, I forgot to realise that you started staying the night because I asked you to. And it went on for three months because I wanted you to. And I would ask and want you to stay the night because I needed to fall asleep and wake up next to you, because there is no greater feeling in the world than that of spending every hour of your day with the person you love.”
Lexa’s eyes were wide like saucers, but Clarke couldn’t stop now.
“That’s the other thing I forgot,” she admitted, her voice small. “I forgot that slowly but surely, I was falling in love with you.”
Lexa pressed her lips together pensively, letting the silence stretch before she broke it. “Why didn’t you tell your friends?”
“The same reason for all my other fuck ups: I was afraid. Telling them would mean they would be able to give me the advice I was dreading: that all those mornings after did hold meaning after all and that I couldn’t hide from my feelings anymore.”
Lexa nodded this time, still not making a sound. “Will you tell your friends now?”
Clarke couldn’t help but smile. “Already have.”
Another nod. “Are we still rivals?”
“You’re as much my enemy as when we started this whole thing.”
Lexa was sporting a small smile now, a crooked little thing that Clarke had always found adorable. “I would not have it any other way.”
“But Lexa, now you’re also my best friend and… If you give me the honour… My girlfriend.”
Lexa’s shy smile turned into a smirk. “Only if you admit that Polis is the superior newspaper.”
Clarke didn’t even gasp. “For you, I would quit the Arkadia.”
Lexa’s amused smile, however, showed she was just kidding. “No need. Wouldn’t want to end the rivalry, would we?”
In that moment – and the moment after, when she finally got to get reacquainted with Lexa’s lips –, Clarke knew that she wanted all the mornings after and the nights during and the afternoons before.
She wanted everything with Lexa.