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love at first disaster

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Civilian life was boring.

Okay maybe boring wasn’t the right word, but Lexa really had no idea what to do with her free time. It wasn’t really something she’d ever had before. Free time, freedom in general were concepts very foreign to Lexa Woods. 

No, boring definitely wasn’t the right word. She wasn’t sure what word she was looking for - frustrating perhaps. She wasn’t frustrated with her free time, she was frustrated with herself for not being able to really enjoy it. 

Lexa woke up early every morning, a force of habit built from the last six years of lights shining in her face and buzzers blaring for work duty before the sun even started to rise. 

Now, there were no buzzers. When she got her first job she set an alarm on her phone to wake her up. She woke up an hour early and was in the middle of sipping coffee when it went off, it sent her into the worst scare slash flashback imaginable and caused her to spill brown lava all over herself. 

Needless to say, Lexa never used the alarm on her phone again. 

So yeah, civilian life was frustrating and that was only because Lexa herself was frustrating. In fact, she was the most annoying person she knew. Nothing could ever be simple with Lexa Woods. She woke up too early, she drove too carefully. She spent too much time making sure the cream packets and sugar shakers on every table were aligned just right. 

The most frustrating part was that nobody else seemed to care but her. 

Anya certainly didn't - in fact, Anya went out of her way to drive Lexa’s obsessive need for perfection off the road. 

Like today, when Anya showed up twenty minutes late to her own cafe with her hair looking like she’d lost a fight with a badger. 

“Morning, kid.” Anya said, the casual tone of her voice making Lexa’s eye twitch. “Any customers?”

Lexa rolled her eyes. “You know I can’t unlock the cash register until you get here.” 

“Oh right, your parole officer is a pain in the ass.” On that, Lexa could agree. Anya moved slowly, like a sloth with a hangover as she made her way around the display counter and dug around through her fanny pack.

The sound of keys jingling around was borderline cartoonish. “Why do you have so many keys?”

“Cause I got a lot of shit,” Lexa bit her tongue - she knew better than to ask Anya questions before ten in the morning. “Ahah! wait - storage shed near the dock.” How this woman ran a coffee shop as successfully as she had would never cease to amaze Lexa. “Here it is, you’d think I’d know since it’s the only silver one, right?”

“You would think.” 

Anya fiddled with the slot for a moment before the register clicked and the drawer popped opened. “Okay, go ahead and flip the sign whenever you’re ready - should be a busy morning with all the peppermint shit coming out for Christmas. Which reminds me, Gustus is gonna come by this afternoon and set up lights outside and in here. If it’s not busy, could you give him a hand?”

“Of course,” Lexa actually liked Gustus. He was as interested in small talk as she was. Which was not at all.  “Where will you be during all of this Christmas time fun?” 

At that, Anya pulled a pair of sunglasses out of her fanny pack and Lexa wondered how scratched they were from sharing space with all those keys. She put them on and shook her hair from side to side. “I’ll be in the back doing paperwork. So much paperwork with running a business, you know?” 

Lexa pursed her lips and nodded, Anya was going to nap until noon. 

“When will the new hire be arriving?” Lexa asked, not thrilled at the prospect of another solo shift. They didn’t do Starbucks business, but it could get pretty crowded. 

“Raven should be here any minute. She walks from her apartment and the cold weather makes it hard on her knee - it’s a whole thing. She’ll work the counter, you go table to table and prepare any food that’s ordered.” 

“Okay,” Lexa wasn’t fine with that. They rarely had sit-ins and making the food was much more enjoyable than dealing with the people who ordered it.

With that, Anya went to the back room for her mid morning nap and Lexa made another round through the tables to make sure everything was in order before flipping the sign outside and positioning the bell over the door to jingle when it opened. 

As soon as she turned back to the counter, it rang. She jumped, almost squealed but years of emotion suppressing training kept her from making any embarrassing noises. 

Well they tried, but what she saw was something not even a childhood of trauma could have prepared her for. 

She was a snow covered angel. That was the ridiculous thought that entered Lexa’s mind and she absolutely fucking hated it. But it was true - how could it not be? Nobody’s eyes were that blue, with hair that bright and perfect. 

Lexa found herself fascinated with the girl. Her black, leather jacket lined with fur and gloves to match. There was a thin layer of snow on every inch of her. She had speckles of snowflakes in her eyelashes and dancing along her cheeks. Lexa had never been more jealous of frozen water crystals.

It was all so very romantic and lame and Lexa couldn’t believe she was living in a slow motion reveal scene from a movie, but here she stood like an idiot just...gawking at this poor girl. 

Of course, it was only made worse when said girl actually looked at her and offered up the softest smile in the history of this planet. “Morning,” she said, her voice too sweet. Like they’d been waking up together for years. 

“Snow,” Lexa said - for some reason. “It’s...snow...pretty hard.” Almost a sentence, Woods. 

The girl laughed. “Tell me about it. I would have worn a hat if my weather app hadn’t lied to my face.”

“Yeah, you can’t trust those apps.” Lexa had no idea. She barely knew how to text. “Can I get you something to warm you up? Cup of coffee? Hot chocolate? I could cut down the tree outside and build you a fire.”

Shut up, Woods.

Again, this girl laughed. Lexa was sure it was forced - it had to be. She wasn’t funny. No one in her entire twenty-six years of life had ever called her funny. 

“I think I’ll go with the coffee for now.”

Lexa nodded. She couldn’t talk to pretty girls, but she could make them coffee. 

She made her way around the counter and turned to face the girl who’d followed her. “What can I get you?” She sounded so much better using the trained barista dialogue Anya had given her. “We have a new peppermint mocha for the holidays.” 

Pretty girl cringed a bit. “No thanks,” she laughed again - Lexa wished she knew how to work the sound recorder on her phone. “Peppermint anything is kind of gross.”

“It really is,” Lexa smiled. Everyone went on and fucking on about this drink but it just tasted like someone dropped gum in their coffee. “We’ve got just about everything though. What’s your poison?” 

“Just an iced mocha latte,” she sighed. “Which is kind of like poison considering how many I drink.” 

Lexa nodded. “Well you certainly can’t tell.” She said and the girl frowned a bit. That’s when Lexa’s brain caught up with her mouth. “I mean...I didn’t...I meant your face.” Okay, maybe it hadn’t caught up entirely. “Chocolate breaks my face out...but not you, clearly. You’re…clear.”

She really needed to stop talking. 

Thankfully, the smile came back and Lexa was surprised at how genuine it was. “You want to know my secret?” 

She did, she very much wanted to know all of this stranger’s secrets. “If you say magic I’m going to believe you.” 

“Almost, it’s actually…” she stopped talking, instead tapping her finger on the glass of the display case. Lexa looked down and saw that she was pointing at a blueberry muffin. 


“Blueberries are great for your skin.”

“Huh,” Lexa hadn’t been excited to learn in twenty years. Of course none of her previous teachers looked like this. “Would you like a muffin with your coffee?” 

“I suppose I should, it’s obviously doing me some favors.” She winked, she fucking winked and Lexa dropped the stupid empty cup she was holding and it made sure to clatter across the tile floor like sixteen times to make sure it was known how big of a loser she was. 

Swallowing her pride, Lexa bent down and picked up the cup, tossing it in the trash and reaching for another.

“Actually, can I get it for here? I’m early today and I’d like to see if the snow slows down.” 

Lexa smiled like an idiot. “Of course,” the pretty girl was staying. “Give me your name and I’ll call you when it’s ready.” 

“Clarke, with an ‘e’” 

With a nod, Lexa watched her move to a table by the window and sit down. She’d been carrying a backpack and Lexa wondered if she was a student. She took it off her shoulder and placed it in the seat across from her. Probably an old trick she used to keep people from trying to sit with her. Strangers with eyes who saw how beautiful she was and wanted just a few minutes of her time to try and ask for her hand in marriage or something. 

Putting the order together was a nice change of pace from the slow fall of love at first sight, minus the existential crisis she had when her brain tried to convince her that the ‘e’ in Clarke’s name might go after the ‘a’ like some kind of weird aesthetic situation. Once she realized nobody was named ‘Claerk’, she spelled the name properly and resisted the urge to draw a heart after it because she was still a convicted felon and had a reputation to uphold. 

Plus she didn’t actually have a shot with the most beautiful woman in the world so why make a complete fool out of herself for nothing. 

Lexa plucked the freshest muffin she could see from the display and put it on a plate before walking over to Clarke and setting it down in front of her. 

Clarke was on her phone, staring at something intently with her tongue sticking out just a bit - it was endearing as hell. 

“Here you go,” Lexa said, wanting to interact but not stand there forever waiting like a creep. 

Without looking away from her phone, Clarke smiled just a bit. “Just a sec,” she said and Lexa was ready to stand there for the next hour if she had to 

Thankfully, Clarke’s phone made a soft sound of celebration and she pumped her fist. “Okay, sorry - this Shape Slammer game has me addicted and it’s the worst.” 

“Looks like you won,” Lexa said - she really had no idea. 

“Beat that level, only...eight hundred more to go.”

“Eight hundred?” 

Clarke nodded somberly. “I’ve already beaten four hundred and fifty two of them.”

“There are twelve hundred and fifty two levels?” 

“Give or take a few,” Clarke sipped her coffee. “Mmm,” she moaned into the cup and Lexa died a little inside. “S’good,” she said with a sigh. “You know, I don’t usually take this route to work, but there’s construction on my usual path and...well...this coffee is making me rethink my routine.” 

A chance to have this good of a morning every morning was something Lexa was not about to let slip away. “I’d be more than happy to -’

“Fucking shit!” The voice was so loud they couldn’t even hear the bell jingle over the door. “This white Christmas bullshit is really getting old. Every fucking year we...oh…” The voice in question belonged to a sharp jawed, bright eyed girl who very clearly didn’t think anyone else would be in the building. “Are we…” She looked back and saw the open light shining. “Of fuck, I’m so late. I’m sorry. I…” She sighed and untied the scarf around her neck. “It’s snowing like a bitch out there and my hip hates the cold worse than I do. How long have we been open?”

Lexa sighed. “Only about ten minutes.” 

“Thank God. I ran here, I swear. As fast as a gimpy hipped girl can run in the snow.”

“You’re fine, we’ve only had one customer.” When Lexa looked at Clarke again, she was refocused on her phone. That seemed like a sign to let her have her breakfast in peace. Lexa made her way back around the counter and watched the new girl follow her. “You must be Raven?” 

“Yep, name like a bird, move like a slug.” She extended her hand. “If I can ever get my piece of shit car fixed it’ll make all this easier.” 

“Anya said you would be handling the counter today, I assume you know how to -”

“No yeah we’re good. I’ve done the coffee shop thing before. But like...what’s your name?”

Lexa looked down at her nametag, but Raven just kept looking into her eyes expectantly. “Lexa,” she said, almost sticking her chest out a bit to show that was, in fact, wearing a nametag. 

Raven didn’t seem to care. “Nice to meet you, Lexa. Yeah, I’m good back here. You do your thing and go chat with your girlfriend while I get this stupid fucking brace unfrozen. I swear to shit if -”

“She’s not my girlfriend.” Lexa said, far too loudly. She glanced at Clarke, who looked up from her phone but not at Lexa, just in general. She absolutely heard that. “She’s just a customer.” 

“Oh, well shit I thought maybe she’d come in early with you for a free coffee before the crowd showed up.” 

The thought of giving Clarke a free coffee was suddenly at the forefront of her mind as a great way to send the message that she wanted to have this blonde goddess’ babies. But she already had robbery on her record and her parole officer would be pissed if Anya turned her in for giving free drinks to cute blondes. 

“Just a customer.” Lexa repeated, looking at Clarke just in time to see her eyes dart in another direction. 

Such a strange morning.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world didn’t stand still and people did start showing up like always. They also really loved their gross peppermint coffee because four straight customers ordered it. 

Lexa was mostly working to go orders, making drinks for Raven to give out. Every time she finished one, she’d sneak a glance at Clarke who was working her way through her muffin. 

It wasn’t until Lexa was finished dealing with the world's most intricate iced latte with all of its various creams and sugars and foams, that she turned back and saw Clarke suddenly at the counter again 

Raven was busy giving obnoxious latte guy his drink and Clarke was just standing there waiting to be helped. Lexa did work here, after all - she could help. 

“Another muffin?” 

Clarke smiled. “Nah, I think my face is clear enough to get me through the rest of the day.” 

Lexa nodded. “I agree,” she could do this. She could be cool. Even if it could never actually go anywhere given who she was and who this girl probably was - she imagined the scales were extremely unbalanced. 

But flirting was innocent and fun and somehow it made Clarke smile and that was probably the best Christmas gift she’d be getting this year anyway. “You know you really nailed the coffee to chocolate ratio on that drink. I expect that same perfection tomorrow.” 

“I am a very precise person. You will not be disappointed.” 

“That’s what I like to hear.” Clarke sighed. “Okay, I’ve loitered enough. See you bright and early tomorrow…” Clarke glanced at her chest and Lexa felt heat rising in her neck before Clarke spoke again. “Lexa.” Oh right, the nametag, like a normal person. 

“I’ll be here,” Lexa said, proud of herself for not stuttering like an idiot. It was kind of amazing how good Clarke was at making her feel comfortable. She imagined that was something Clarke did with everyone. 

Lexa watched her walk out, and made her way around the counter to pick up the plate Clarke and left from her muffin. When she did, she saw the flashing lights of Shape Shakers or whatever it was called dancing on a small screen by the perfectly placed cream packets. 

Clarke left her phone.

Quickly, Lexa picked it up and refused to actually look at the screen and risk any sort of invasion of privacy. Instead, she raced out the door, hearing the bell jingle above her on exit and was immediately hit with a wave of cold air. She was not wearing a jacket or a scarf or even long sleeves and her shoes were not made for the snow covered sidewalks. 

Still, she had a mission and she saw blonde hair stepping off the curb and called out. “Clarke!”

She stopped, turning towards the call of her name and for a brief moment through the falling snow and sounds of the street, their eyes met and Clarke smiled. “Couldn’t resist, huh?” She teased and Lexa wasn’t cold anymore.

“You forgot your…” Her sentence froze at the sight of a car driving right through where Clarke had stopped.