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bathroom stalls & late night calls

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She didn't want for it to get out of hand. 

She barely knew the girl. 

It was three in the morning and she barely knew the girl but her phone was buzzing loudly on her bedside table and she was reaching out for it to read instead of throwing it across the room because it might be her

It was already out of hand. And she would just have to live with that. 

Favourite animal?, Art-e-miss had texted her. 

Lexa frowned down at the message. It was three in the morning and the stranger had messaged her that? Her phone screen was far too bright, it hurt her eyes, and she had been up late studying. The combination wasn't the best and, when added to the hair in her mouth - she blew it out crankily, took a moment to smoosh her sleep-clumsy hands against her face and push all her hair back, away from her cheeks and mouth and eyes - it all meant that she wasn't in the mood to answer questions like what her favourite animal was. 

its 3. wtf? she sent back. She blamed her abbreviations - something she had been taught never to do, it sent the wrong impression about what kind of person she was - on her exhaustion. 

Sorry. Didn't think you'd be awake

wasn't

Oh shit! I'm so sorry! I will stop now I promise!!

Lexa dropped her phone on her spare pillow and curled onto her side, buried her face into her blankets. The sweet warmth of her sheets welcomed her and the lazy feeling of sleep inched closer but she couldn't shake the uncomfortable feeling that poked and prodded at her. It couldn't be, could it? Could she be feeling concern?

No. 

Surely not.

She had never even met the girl.

But then her phone was in her hand and she did her best not to let it drop on her chest or her face as her thumbs pressed slowly to type out her message. 

what is it?

Go to sleep, stranger. Lexa imagined a friendly face behind that message, a light rebuke. A light deflection, really. 

She allowed it. She had offered to listen to whatever was bothering her stranger and that had been neatly sidestepped, so she let it slide. 

Lexa

What?

Lexa. my name

One minute, then five, passed. And then more but Lexa wasn't looking at her phone anymore. She dropped it to the side again and dug the base of her palms into her eyes, rubbing. Stop it, stop it, stop it, she tried to tell herself because it was ridiculous and useless to be disappointed that the girl hadn't responded with her own name. That the girl hadn't responded at all. She was a stranger and of no consequence in Lexa's life and that was the end of it.

She fell back into her sleep - this one uneasy, light - and she pretended that the tiny, creeping feeling in her chest wasn't hurt. 

The morning was bleary grey light creeping in through her window and another mouthful of hair. She scraped her fingers through it in lieu of a comb and stumbled across her room to the tiny en suite. Lexa felt gritty and slow, hadn't slept well since she had been woken and she clenched her jaw. She didn't like feeling slow or tense. A hot shower - a quick one, because her roommate would be back soon enough from wherever it was that she went every other night - would have to be enough to make her feel like her normal self. She had to be done with her bathroom routine before Raven came back; she had learned the hard way that Raven was a bathroom hog.

Lexa was braiding her hair when Raven knocked on the bathroom door. 

"Almost done," Lexa grunted. She snapped her hair tie in place. Wiped at the corners of her eyes and underneath them but the tiredness was apparently there to stay. 

"Cool, cool. No rush." That was a lie. Raven would get antsy and passive aggressive (and then downright aggressive) if she didn't get her shower in the next ten minutes and they both knew it. "Just thought you might want to know you've got, like, twelve messages. Who's Artemis? That's a wicked name by the way but it's spelled wrong. You know that, right?"

Lexa threw the door open to snatch her phone away from Raven. "I know what it says," she said, stiff. Regretted the uncommon show of annoyance when Raven raised her eyebrows - Lexa wasn't one to really show when she was annoyed or angry or happy, especially happy - and she gripped tighter to her phone. 

"Okay, okay." Raven lifted her hands, shrugging. "Chill. You done in there?"

"Yes."

"Cool. You won't mind if I just," and she pointed behind Lexa and they inched into each other's space - Lexa with the same protective hold on her phone, Raven with eyes only for the bathroom - turned to the side, switched places. "Are you going to stand there the whole time I'm showering?" Raven asked when Lexa still hadn't moved a few moments later, looking down at her phone and thinking, and it earned her a scowl. Lexa strode away, to her bed, and Raven shut the door with a definite thud. 

Her phone she placed very carefully on her desk. There was a very large part of her telling her to read her messages immediately but she ignored it - she wasn't a beast. She had control. Discipline. And the fact that she wanted so badly to continue talking with the stranger made her uncomfortable. Which would not be tolerated either. No one made her uncomfortable. Ever

She made her bed slowly, ignoring her phone.

Perhaps she should put the whole charade to an end. 

But that decision could wait - first, she dressed, prepared her lunch and coffee, packed her textbooks into her bag. And only then did she let herself look at her phone again, slipping it into her bag as she left the room.

Early morning classes were the worst, but her professors thought so as well, which meant they she would likely have at least twelve minutes to read through her new messages and, if nothing compelled her to continue the discussion, she would delete them and the number.

She was won over disgustingly quickly.

Hey! sorry sorry sorry, the stranger had messaged her. My phone ran out of battery and I had to charge it and you know phones, they do that stupid 'you've betrayed me' crap and refuse to start for a while. like I said, I'm really sorry

And then, Clarke.

And then, that's MY name. In case that wasn't obvious. Which is probably was, you seem pretty smart and that's what you had messaged me, your name I mean, so that was obvious and I am now making a fool of myself.

And then, how do you pronounce your name? Lek-sa? Lee-ksa?

And then, I like it. It looks like a nice name. very lovely. I'm changing your name in my contacts. (I had you as Sexy Stranger but I guess Lexa will do)

And then, oh my god I'm sorry, that was a joke. I'm just really tired and I don't know why I thought that would be appropriate. I just had you as stranger I swear and I'm really glad I know your name now

Lexa's professor was talking to the class, but Lexa couldn't seem to concentrate on anything other than the fact that this girl - Clarke, she reminded herself, turning the name over in her mind - had made her smile. Enormously so.

She wasn't sure what to do about it. On the one hand, she had no time for distractions. She had no want for distractions. She was at university to study and to learn and to graduate. Nothing more. And, though she would never admit it because it was foolish and ridiculous to be someone who carried hurt with them over a first love (because first loves always end and she was stupid to think otherwise and Lexa did not like to be stupid), she didn't want to be hurt. 

Lexa paused at that.

Her professor continued to talk; she continued not to hear him.

She would not be hurt by this, she decided, because what she had with Clarke was merely friendship. Of course. 

And perhaps she had time for friendship.