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BY THE TIME THE MORNING sun peeks over the islands across the bay, Clarke Wilson is already winded, parched, perspiring, and in need of an entire bucket of scrambled eggs. She thwacks through the bush at breakneck speed, chest heaving, arms pumping, displacing the makeshift dirt pathway in her wake. Muggy daybreak air lines beads of sweat across her forehead. She wipes it off with the shoulder of her t-shirt.

Clarke's been awake before the sun for as long as she can recall. It's a routine so engrained in her internal system she doesn't know—or isn't sure she could even—break it. In the younger years, she watched the six o'clock news with her dad over chocolate milk (her) and black coffee (him) before he went to work. When high school came around, and Clarke's gym teacher suggested she join the cross-country team, it became news on the odd days, runs along the river behind their house on even ones. Sundays were reserved for chocolate chip waffles and a healthy dose of back bacon (occasionally burnt, because Clarke was about as good at cooking as she was at handling large social situations).

There was something about sprinting at dawn that she loved. She loved the smell of fresh dew lingering on the grass from the night before, the stillness of the water, the first prickle of hot sunlight on the back of her neck. It was peaceful. It was placidly quiet. It was also the only time of day she was sure Parker Riley—her junior year lab partner and long-term crush—wouldn't see her dripping buckets of sweat as she rounded his house at the end of the street.

So that was a plus.

As Clarke slows to a jog near the main hotel—looming with it's intricate wood exterior and sunny veranda—her mind roams. She thinks of Sawyer Mills. She thinks of when they used to play H-O-R-S-E on the net screwed to his garage door after school, of how she bleached his hair for prom, of how Sawyer used to drive her out to the empty grocery store parking lot late at night to do donuts when he got his license (his mother later yelled at them for stripping the tires). 

She thinks back to last night, before Willow whisked her away into the woods, of his 'are we every gonna talk about winter break?' and her lukewarm response and what it means for their friendship. She likes Sawyer, she always has. He makes her laugh and texts her cute pictures of animals when she's lonely and he's at College. He's read all her favourite books because they're her favourite books, and their parents are best friends. Sometimes she wishes things were different, that she was different, because it would be so easy with Sawyer. 

But she's entirely convinced she doesn't like him like that. And she's starting to feel entirely convinced he might. Like her, that is. Like that.

And that scares the shit out of her.

The restaurant is quiet when she swings open the door and steps inside. The clock reads just after seven. It's a Friday. Breakfast service doesn't start for another hour.

She meanders towards the kitchen, heart rate only now coming down to a resting level. She can hear the faint sounds of pans sizzling and knives chopping and the boys talking about what she thinks is sex. She's halfway through the maze of tables when her eyes find a blob of tawny skin and black tank top. There lies Willow Rhodes, sprawled out along three bar stools, limbs all akimbo, looking a gnarly shade of grey. She turns her head as Clarke approaches. Her mouth hangs perpetually agape.

"Sorry, Clarke Kent," she croaks, closing her eyes, "we'll have to start our sidekick adventures tomorrow. Lois is immobile, sore, and plastered."

"Long night?" Clarke asks.

"You have no idea."

Clarke observes Willow. Her hair is tousled in all directions and her nametag is on upside down and there's a blooming bruise on her left cheekbone. Clarke doesn't think it's physically possible for a girl with the bone structure of Willow Rhodes to look bad, but in this instance, she creeps fairly close to that benchmark (and it's almost relieving, to Clarke, because she was starting to wonder if the girl was an actual human).

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