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The Nerd is Strong With This One

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      Clarke shuffled a bit in place, her legs were falling asleep from standing so long. She stretched her arms across her chest and rolled her neck, trying to restore some circulation.

 

      “Dude, you okay?” Clarke’s best friend Octavia spoke up from behind her, seeing Clarke fidgeting.

 

      Clarke grinned as she replied, “If my entire body protesting our current situation is okay, then yes.” At this admission Clarke felt a pair of strong hands grip her shoulders and start kneading. “My my, Octavia Blake. Are you giving me a massage right now?”

 

      “Don’t push your luck Clarke, I’m just making sure you’re fit to make it the entire day. I don’t plan on leaving the convention halls until they force me out. And I don’t want to deal with a whiney you all day.”

 

      At this Clarke tried to turn around to glare indignantly at her friend. “Hey-” But Octavia tightened her grip to stop the movement before pressing her thumbs down on Clarke’s knots harshly. Clarke’s yelp of surprise startled the woman in front of her, and she proceeded to glare daggers at her. She opened her mouth to provide an explanation but was cut off by her friend yet again.

 

      “Don’t mind my girlfriend, she’s full of pent up sexual frustration and any little touch puts her over the edge. I’m just helping her out since we’re standing here twiddling our thumbs and all. I might as well put those thumbs to use. You don’t mind right?” She smiled a sickly sweet smile at the woman who gaped in horror and quickly turned forward again.

 

      Clarke tried her best to keep in her laughter. She really did. She bit her lips and screwed her eyes shut tightly. It wasn’t able to withstand the next assault though. Octavia tilted her face next to Clarke’s ear and muttered lowly, “I think we just made her day. That’s going in her spank bank, I guarantee it.”

 

      “OH MY GOD, OCTAVIA!!!!” Clarke found herself doubling over when the laughter finally came tumbling from her lips. She clutched her abdomen which was already getting tight from the strain. Octavia just stood there, head tilted sideways as she watched Clarke lose her shit, with a shit eating grin plastered across her face.

 

      “There, I bet you feel better after that. Your muscles are probably all warm and loosened up. Amirite?” 

 

      Clarke was preparing herself to respond when the line in front of them started moving forward. “Ugh, finally! We’ve only been standing here two hours!”

 

      “Don’t be a downer Clarke, you know all the best stuff will only be available the first few hours. I need to scour all the booths immediately before I can take in everything else.” Octavia elbowed Clarke lightly in the ribs as they followed the crowd into the large stadium, flashing their weekend pass wristbands as they got through the main doors.

 

      Ahead of them the convention took up every available space in the super huge hall. The first third where they entered was taken up by artists alley and was full of original work by local and far flung artists of all types from figures, to drawings, to paintings, to sculptures, and everything in between. The centre section of the hall was predominantly comic book vendors with every back issue imaginable available somewhere among the countless cardboard storage boxes (which were hopefully alphabetical but who knew), and a few independent companies trying to raise awareness for their products ranging from small movies to 3D printer manufacturers, to fun events happening nearby during the convention weekend. And the third section was vendors selling collectible merch, a few food vendors, the clothing booths, weapon sales, and a few group stalls.

 

      Octavia immediately grabbed hold of Clarke’s hand and practically pulled her arm out of it’s socket in her haste to get to the weapons vendors. If anyone looked at Octavia on a regular day they wouldn’t imagine she was a nerd in any sense of the word. She was stunningly beautiful, athletic, popular, and always fashionably presented. But when it came to weapons, Quentin Tarantino, and Joss Whedon she was fanatical. They found their way to the biggest weapons booth and Octavia started scanning them quickly, searching for something specific from the looks of it.

 

      “Octavia, what are you looking for? Anything I can help with while you’ve got a death grip on me?” Clarke glanced sidelong at her friend, waiting for the inevitable sassy retort but to her shock, she didn’t get one. “Holy shit, are you having a stroke right now?” She reached for Octavia’s face and grabbed it firmly before wrenching it around so she could look teasingly into the brunette’s eyes. They were rolling but not in a health emergency sort of way. More in a ‘Clarke you’re a dumbass but I put up with you because I love you’ sort of way.

 

      “Dude, no. I’m just focused is all.” She shrugged her shoulders and turned her attention back to the displays, seeing a section of a specific type and pulling Clarke with her to investigate. Upon reaching their destination Octavia inhaled sharply and her eyes adopted a sort of hellish glean.

 

      “Um, should I be worried that you’re looking at a weapon with such intensity and...... lust? Octavia are you lusting after that sword?” Clarke pointed to the one she thought Octavia was focused so intently on and laughed. “Wow, you’re totally jonesing for that sword. I wish I had a camera so I could show Lincoln.”

 

      “Lincoln would be just as excited as I am, trust me. I also desperately want the one above it. Both of them. Who wouldn’t?? Dude, that is the Bride’s Sword and that’s Bill’s Demon.” She looked at Clarke expectantly. Clarke just looked from the swords to Octavia, and back again a few times before Octavia took pity on her with a long suffering sigh. “They’re replicas from Kill Bill. Beatrix Kiddo and Bill’s Hattori Hanzo swords. And look! The Demon is signed by David Carradine! Do you know how rare one of these is? He didn’t sign a lot before he died notoriously for that sex thing.” She waved her free hand at the swords in a sort of frantic (and possibly manic) Vanna White impression.

 

      “Oh. Yeah. I totally knew that. So are you going to buy them?” Clarke had no idea what she was talking about. 

 

      “If they cost no more than half my convention budget, then yes. I just need to flag down one of the sales people.” Octavia turned back to the counter and finally released her grip on Clarke’s hand. Lifting it in front of her chest Clarke rubbed her chafed wrist softly with her other hand, muttering a soft ouch under her breath.

 

      Seeing that Octavia was probably going to be preoccupied for a while longer, she scanned the nearby booths hoping that something might catch her eye and keep her occupied until Octavia was finished.

 

      Spotting a few set ups for local art schools, Clarke went over quickly. She got a pamphlet for each and spoke briefly with the rep from one of them. They all seemed to focus mostly on game development which wasn’t really her main interest so she didn’t stay long at any of the booths.

 

      Wandering more, Clarke found herself a little ways down the aisle from where Octavia was now animatedly talking to the sales guy. A flash of movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention and she turned her head hoping to catch whatever it was before it disappeared. What she saw was not what she expected. 

 

      A group of cosplayers had made their way to the centre of the aisle and stood at the intersection, each being flagged down by various convention goers for photos. They were pretty impressive, even Clarke could see that. They all seemed to be in army fatigues, and some were wearing makeup to look like zombies. She assumed they were from Call of Duty, although she had never played the game herself. 

 

      There were a few members of the group who weren’t being pulled out for photos, even when their costumes looked far more interesting to Clarke. They were rather individual looking, and intriguing as well. One costume stood out though and Clarke recognized it as the one to catch her eye as it was passing. A tall woman with striking cheekbones and piercing green eyes stood a bit to the side of the rest of the group. She was wearing combat boots and black cargo pants with a black tank top. Her skin was made to look pale and almost silicon-like, and her hair was slicked back into a bun and painted white. She was also carrying a rather impressive automatic rifle replica (but for the glaring orange tip which was required for lifelike weapons to be allowed in the building. Or at least that’s what Octavia had told Clarke.) 

 

      Now Clarke may not know a whole hell of a lot about the most popular areas of nerd culture but she could wax poetic about the little hidden gems and b-list parts of it. She immediately recognized the outfit and was slightly outraged that no one else seemed to.

 

      “Well that’s not right.” She muttered under her breath as she started to make her way down the hall.

 

      Clarke noticed that the place had filled rather quickly after the doors had opened. She had to maneuver around a great many people and her path was rather zig-zaggy, but she eventually found herself near the group.

 

      She walked toward the woman and cleared her throat to get her attention. Her ploy worked and she found herself staring into the eyes that had been piercing from a distance, but were infinitely more jarring up close. The woman also had a soft but strong jaw, and full lips that Clarke imagined were quiet kissable. Wait what. Way to jump the gun Griffin. You haven’t spoken a word to each other and you don’t even know her name. Chill. 

 

      “Hi there. I just wanted to compliment you on your Ava costume. You’re quite convincing.”

 

      The girl dressed as the protagonist from The Machine had previously been stone faced, but at Clarke’s admission of knowledge a corner of her lips twitched up.

 

      “Thank you, you’re the first in a few conventions to recognize who I am.” her voice was surprisingly soft and feminine, not what Clarke was expecting. Far from unpleasant though.

 

      Clarke’s eyebrows screwed up in confusion and surprise. “Seriously? I mean I know the movie isn’t exactly popular but I would have figured someone would have recognized it before me.”

 

      At this the girl grinned a little wider. “I knew someone would eventually. Besides, I wear it for me not them.” She stared at Clarke, seemingly evaluating her. Even that felt like the character she was playing although Clarke had a feeling that was also just her. She found a hand being offered to her. “I’m Lexa by the way.”

 

      She extended her own hand and shook the proffered one, finding Lexa’s grip to be strong and sure. “Clarke. A pleasure to meet you Lexa.” Clarke smiled fully for the first time during their brief conversation and she could have sworn she saw Lexa’s breath stutter in her chest and her throat bob as she swallowed thickly. But then she’s always had an overactive imagination.

 

      Before anything else could be said, one of the other cosplayers addressed Lexa. “Hey Lex, we’re moving down to the next hall. We have a photo op with a professional photographer we can’t miss.” This was another woman, she also had cheekbones which could probably cut glass although hers were higher and slightly more slanted. She had almond eyes and a long aquiline nose and was dressed as Suri, a companion character to Lexa's Ava.

 

      "Thanks Anya, I'll be right behind you." Lexa slanted her head towards the other woman and nodded her head shortly before turning her attention back to Clarke. “Thank you for the compliment to my costume. It was nice meeting you, Clarke.”

 

      Oh good grief. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say my name that way. The taller woman had said it in such a way as to make it sound like an endearment. She rolled the l, and enunciated the pop to the k. It almost sounded exotic. I like it.

 

      “You too, Lexa. I hope to see you again.” She smiled up at the girl, genuinely meaning the words as she let them pass through her thoughts before voicing them. Lexa let escape another small smile before turning and following her group members closely.

 

      Clarke felt an arm wrap around her neck, jolting her sideways as she finally lost sight of Lexa in the crowd.

 

      “Sup’ Griffin. Did I just see you flirting with tall, pale and scary?” Octavia grinned at Clarke, pulling her closer for a quick forehead bump.

 

      Smiling brightly, Clarke wasn’t about to let her friend get to her so easily. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

 

      “Cheeky. I like it. Alright, I paid for my swords, we’ll pick them up at the end of the day. Turns out they don’t like attendees walking around with dangerous weapons and they hold them until you leave. Who knew?” She released her grip from around Clarke’s neck and grabbed hold of her hand again. “Alright, my big first purchase is done, now we need one for you. Comic books ahoy!”

 

      Clarke laughed fully at her friend, following happily with thoughts of soft green eyes swimming in her brain.