"Though I'm glad to see that you are prepared for the still life section of our tutorial, Clarke, we are actually working on the human body this week."
Clarke frowned, confused. Her tutor - a pleasant but sharp woman who could sink into the background of things when she pleased, and who could become the undisputed centre of attention, all bold lines, snapping fingers, and commands in a brief moment - nodded to the pineapple cradled in Clarke's elbow. The blonde had to smile, and then laugh, because how had she lugged it all the way across campus without realising?
"You know me, Duong. Always prepared."
"Always distracted," she corrected Clarke, who just shrugged because hey that was fair, and she gestured to Clarke's usual seat. "I am glad to see you back," Duong said to her as Clarke moved to sit. "Your friend?"
"Getting better, thanks."
"Good. Then you will have no trouble focusing in today's lesson, will you?"
"No ma'am." Clarke wavered for a moment, wondering what on earth she was going to do with the pineapple, but it was a comforting weight in her lap so she left it there and curled around it before offering the tutor her brightest, most reassuring smile.
"As I thought. Today," she continued, turning her body to include the rest of the class, "we have a guest model. You will not speak to her. You will not speak to me. You will draw and then I will tell her to change positions. No, she will not be naked. No, you are not permitted to touch her. No, you are not allowed to ask her questions." She looked over the class - she would never admit it to them, it wasn't her place, but she knew they were fairly good kids all of them - and then she nodded to the woman leaning in the doorway.
"Long way to go," she muttered. "You could've moved your class, you know. Let them see the wonder of our mech labs instead of making me trek the whole bloody way here to snoozeville."
"No. You said you required no special treatment." Clarke smiled down at her sketchbook, flicking to a clean page. She could hear the fondness in her teacher's voice, even though she knew that if she looked up it would be as impassive as always. "You will be sitting for an hour. I thought you might like some exercise."
"You thought wrong. Where d'you want me?"
The woman dropped her bag and cane - it made a din, all clanging and sharp noises, but she didn't spare it another glance. Clarke begun her warm up sketch, some lines and circles on the corner of her page, before looking up. She did it slowly, hoping to get a brief sketch down before she actually saw the woman's face - it was something she liked to do, she couldn't explain it. Something about what the body showed being different to the face. She'd tried to explain it once to Octavia, when she had bent over Clarke's shoulder and commented on the fact that her team only had bodies and no heads, or no faces at least, and Clarke had stumbled for a few moments over describing the kick and the push and pull of muscles and the energy of their bodies and graceful movements, compared to the expressions, so often misleadingly violent or set in concentration. Octavia had listened until she trailed off - she was good like that - before clapping her on the shoulder.
"Alright. You keep doing your thing then."
"Tell me if a ball comes my way this time, yeah?" Clarke had called after her, rubbing at the sore spot on her forehead.
"How do you know it isn't me kicking them at you?"
That had earned Octavia the middle finger - well deserved - but all that garnered was a smirk and a taunting 'love you' in return.
So, Clarke sketched the bulky brace, wondered if it were possible to somehow capture the limp as well as the strong gait - it was like she had been graceful before, in a different way, all striding and swagger and confidence. And then the brace, Clarke was fairly certain it was a new addition because there was this minute adjustment every time the woman shifted her leg like she was still surprised, just a little, by the extra weight or stiffness. And now her grace was all determination and adjustment and it was fascinating.
Clarke moved her attention up to the trim waist, sketched the hands loose and long, knew she would want to go back to those hands because of the grease stains, the abrasion there on her wrist, the slight crook in her pinkie finger - natural? broken? Clarke wanted to know. She made her way then up to the shoulders, paused for a moment to brush her hair back because an annoying strand or two were tickling at her eyebrow, and then she started on the curve of the chin and the face and -
"Raven?" she asked, remembering that face from blurred pictures and a photo bomb and a borrowed phone once, that had sent Clarke a dozen and more photos of their shared room including a sleeping Lexa and bored selfies.
The woman looked up at the sound of her name.
"No talking," Duong discouraged. Clarke nodded, returning to her drawing. She pretended she didn't feel the curious eyes on her, both her classmates and Raven's, and sketch until she felt like the last few days of worry had been sketched right out of her and her fingers relaxed around her pencil and her lines began to come out how she intended them.
"Better, Clarke," Duong said softly over her shoulder. "I would like you to try the different shading techniques we've been looking at," she added, and moved along when Clarke just nodded.
She couldn't forget who it was she was drawing, though, and so when the time came to put away her book and her pencils and tuck her pineapple against her side, there was a faint hammering in her chest she knew well enough by now was nerves.
"Clarke," Raven called out before she could leave. Not that she would have. Or maybe she would, because there was some part of her that felt stupid, so stupid, because Lexa knew that they were going to the same university - she had been the one to say so mildly TonDC? like it was nothing - and now Clarke was the one left in the dark feeling like an idiot. Again. "It's Clarke, right?"
"Lexa's Clarke?" Raven clarified, grabbing her cane and bag as she moved to join her by the door.
"Yeah," Clarke said again and she tried not to let her voice crack because it was very, very odd for her to feel so pleased by the term. Lexa's Clarke.
"I didn't know you went here." She hefted her bag onto her shoulder and waved Clarke away when she made a small gesture to help. "Nah, I got it. Anyway, you go here? Art kid, I guess?"
"Yeah. And from your little dig earlier at our lovely 'snoozeville'," Raven just shrugged, thoroughly pleased with herself, "you're a mech major?"
"That's right." Raven grinned, clearly proud. "Mechanical engineering major, baby," she crowed. "Best lot around. Well." She grimaced. "Actually most of them are gross dudes, kinda thick, incredibly obnoxious. But I'm the best so I like to talk it up a little."
"Ah." Clarke's grin matched Raven's, wide and cheery, and she walked with her out of the room and down the hall. Considering her next move, she bit her lip when they came to the exit. She paused. "Are you hungry?" she asked. "I have a pineapple."
"Yeah, I noticed that. Thought it might be rude to ask but since you brought it up..." Raven made a face, pointed to it. "What's with the pineapple?"
"Long story. Things have been a bit hectic lately, I wasn't thinking clearly. Grabbed it along with - thankfully - most of the things I needed."
"Hectic, huh?" Clarke nodded. "Well come on, you can tell me all about it over lunch. Your treat - I'm poor."
"Art student," Clarke reminded her, turning and nodding in the direction of the cafeteria. She led the way, Raven unfamiliar with the area of the campus.
Raven faltered, considered the usually very true stereotypes concerning broke art majors. She sighed. "Right. My treat, I guess."