“No. Absolutely not.”
“But I am comfortable in this,” Lexa argued, crossing her arms.
Raven didn’t point out that if she were actually comfortable she wouldn’t be standing ramrod straight and she wouldn’t be constantly on the verge of grimacing.
“And that’s great, it really is.” Raven struggled to her feet - her cane she had ditched somewhere near the door and she really had to stop doing that because by about nine at night her knee always started to ache, just a little, and she should really be using it - and made her way over to her own wardrobe. “Maybe,” she said slowly, “you’ll want to look a little less proper tonight,” she said, waving her finger at Lexa’s blue button up tucked into her jeans, “and a little more fierce tonight.”
“Don’t fuck with me, I’m too hot for you kinda look.” Raven let her eyes trail over her friend. “You’ve got most of that going on already with that thing your eyes do.”
“What do my eyes do?” Lexa asked low and dangerous. Raven grinned, pointing to her.
“They do that.”
Lexa looked into the mirror, noting the rather harsh set to her face, and turned back to Raven. “I see.”
“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. Man, what I wouldn’t give for a great glare sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, my resting bitch face is top notch but sometimes I can’t get the right don’t touch me, don’t talk to me, don’t even think about me vibe going with my glares.” She made a small noise of victory and threw a black jacket at Lexa, who smiled at the feel of leather under her fingers.
“A leather jacket? Really?”
“It’s a bit cliche bad girl, I know, but it works. Try it on.” Raven dropped back onto her bed. Lexa took a moment to admire her - she had made finding an outfit and making herself look good seem very easy. “I know I look hot but I want to leave some time soon so if you could chill with the staring and start trying that on, that’d be swell,” Raven drawled, nodding to the jacket.
Lexa rolled her eyes but obediently shrugged on the jacket. She did her best not to react when Raven whistled through her teeth.
“Nice. But that shirt has to go. Don’t you have anything casual?”
Lexa wavered - she knew that dressing well said a lot about a person, that dressing grunge (as her mother put it) said absolutely the wrong thing about a person. But she went to her drawers and pulled out her favourite shirt, soft, white, comfortable, and stripped off her button-up (she hated those things, really, hated the way they sat too tight around her neck because her mother insisted that she do up every last button and she wouldn’t hate them if only she could just relax, roll up the sleeves maybe, they were too confining and she couldn’t stand it but it was what she was supposed to wear so she did it and never made a fuss) and pulled on her shirt, tucked it loose into the front of her jeans, pulled on the jacket over the top. She turned to face Raven, bottom lip caught between her lip nervously.
“Yes,” Raven said simply.
Lexa brushed her palms over her jeans and was grateful that they were dark. She didn’t want Raven knowing she was nervous. (She thought Raven might already know - she was glad she didn’t have any proof.) “Alright. Good. What’s next?”
“Hair and makeup.”
“Where are we?” Lexa stopped to ask Raven, sliding out of the car after her. Raven blew a kiss to the driver - she’d decided since Lexa was coming as her friend, they were both going to let loose and neither of them wanted to risk Lexa thinking she could drive home after a party. Lexa didn’t ask but Raven had looked positively sick at the idea when she told her the plan, texting a boy from class who ‘owed her a favour’.
“Pick us up around, mm,” she looked over her shoulder at Lexa, who had on her blank, slightly tight around the eyes look that Raven had always assumed was worry, and she smiled at the boy. “Twelve? Maybe one. Text me.”
“Will do. Have fun.”
“You know we will.” Raven slung an arm around Lexa’s shoulders, squeezed hard once before letting go, and grinned at her. “We’re at a friends place.”
“Met her the other day at uni. Cool chick.” She smiled a too-innocent smile and Lexa might have thought she was being set up, if it weren’t for the obvious sounds of a party coming from what sounded like (and from the lights and the silhouettes dancing in the window) the third floor. “Come on. Let’s get some drinks in you.” Lexa was running her hand over her hair, again and again, and Raven wondered when she had last worn it out. She had looked in the mirror after Raven had taken her hair out of it’s nigh permanent braid and it had looked, just for a moment, like she hadn’t recognised herself in the mirror. “You look good,” Raven said as they climbed the stairs.
Raven grinned at that. “Good. Then stop looking so nervous - you’re making my brace freak out.”
“I’m not nervous,” Lexa denied quickly, spitting it at her friend. Eyes tight though - definitely nervous. “Also, your brace can’t feel emotions.” She blinked. “Oh, you were joking.”
“Yes. Yes I was. Which you would have known if you weren’t so nervous.” Raven rolled her eyes when Lexa denied it again and she leant against the wall as Lexa marched on, only to wheel around when she realised her friend had stopped. “We’re here,” she said, rapping her knuckles on the door.
It swung open to show a small, bubbly brunette, who braced herself against the door, one hand hidden behind it, and looked over Raven with a very appreciate look. “Well hello there. Don’t you look amazing.”
“You don’t look half bad yourself,” Raven countered. “Digging the new look.” She leant forward, dragged her thumb across the grit of salt on her neck. “Body shots?”
“You know it.” She jerked her head, opened the door a little further. “Come on in.”
Raven walked right in, made her way to the kitchen. Lexa followed a little more slowly, seeing the small groups that had formed here and there, all smiling and moving to greater and lesser degrees to the music that thumped through the apartment. An impressive array of drinks were lined up on the kitchen counter and there was a large, much larger, group that had gathered just away from the kitchen. Lexa could make out a body on the table, hear the cheers, and it didn’t take much to understand that the body shot party hadn’t ended with their host had left to open the door.
“Drink?” Raven offered her a cup and Lexa took it, sniffed the contents. Downed it in four long gulps and handed it back. “Damn, Lexa. Is there some wild party girl background I’m missing?”
“I’ve had my moments,” she said. The burn of the alcohol tingled in her throat and stomach and she let herself smile. “How much vodka did you put in that?”
“A lot. Like, a lot a lot.”
“I think I’ll have another.”
“Alright but maybe you should drink this one a little slower, okay?” Raven topped her up - some mix of coke and vodka and something else Lexa didn’t catch but tasted good when she sipped at it, actually tasting it that time, and she nodded. “I’m going to join the beer pong game,” she pointed over her shoulder to a back room. “My friend just told me they set it up and there are some boys that need to be hustled. You want to come with?”
Lexa shrugged. “Sure.” She wasn’t interested in hooking up with a stranger - she ignored the insistent reason why that might be - and she didn’t know anyone else in the room so, still not drunk enough to start random conversations with strangers, hustling drunk college boys seemed like a great offer.
Raven made three boys cry within a half hour.
Lexa hung onto her second drink, sipping slowly, and allowed herself to talk to the sweet-faced girl she recognised vaguely from her contemporary literature course, who had sidled up to her and started talking about one of their readings. She let the girl take her hand when the wild call of “body shots” rose through the apartment, an invitation for everyone to participate apparently, and she let her lead her towards the table.
They stood together, just outside the crush of bodies that surrounded the table, and Lexa returned each of the girl’s smiles and nodded at every joke. She couldn’t help staring at the flash of blonde - it’s not Clarke, she chided herself, and gritted her teeth because she really was being impossibly rapt in this idea of a girl she barely knew - and the rather hypnotising way the girl moved on top of the other, crawled over her, dipped her head when she reached her stomach. Lexa couldn’t help but bite her lip at the way the girl underneath closed her eyes, mouth dropped open. It had been a long time since she had felt anything like that and nerves swirled in the pit of her stomach because what if the girl next to her wanted to - no, she thought she would be able to take the shot off her, but she wasn’t sure that she would allow the reverse.
She cheered along with the rest when the blonde girl downed her shot and delicately, neatly, took the slice of lime out of a waiting mouth. There was a moment, a hesitation, and then the blonde pressed a lingering kiss to the girls cheek.
“Sorry folks,” a sweet, laughing voice said to the disappointed mass. “Not tonight. But I’m sure someone else will want to make out with the very lovely, very sweet, Ashley.” A few hands shot up into the air and the blonde helped her off the table, shooing her towards one of them.
The girl next to Lexa tugged at her hand, raised her eyebrows, and Lexa was about to nod. She was. But then the blonde turned around and never mind the broad-shouldered, beer-toting college boys between them, the half a room separating them, the alcohol and her lack of glasses very slightly blurring her vision.
Lexa would have recognised her anyway.
The widening eyes - blue, so blue - and the instant curl to pink lips told her that Clarke saw her too.
Lexa was buzzing - her ears were buzzing, her whole body too, and her lips suddenly dry, blood pumping, rushing, through her until it was all she could hear.
Clarke took a step toward her.