“If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?”
It was hard for Octavia to talk from still lips but she had a real future in ventriloquism, Lexa thought, seeing how well she handled herself.
“You really don’t need to stay so still, O,” Clarke said mildly from her place on the couch and Octavia shot her an exasperated look. “But I thank you for it very much, your dedication is an honour and very much appreciated, you are the best, the greatest, and I love you dearly.”
“That’s more like it,” Octavia grumbled, still doing her best not to move.
“But seriously, you can relax.”
“I like to pretend I’m a model.”
“You know I don’t draw people like that.”
“I like to pretend, Clarke. What about that don’t you understand?”
“Okay, okay,” Clarke surrendered, shrugging. “Umm, can you hold your cup for the though? Please and thank you.”
“Hmph. Only because you said please.” Octavia picked up her glass, held it loosely in her hand with her elbow propped up on the coffee table. “Good?”
“Perfect, as per usual.”
“Flatterer.” Octavia grinned over at Clarke, who missed it, head ducked down to her sketchbook, before she looked back at Lexa. “So?”
“If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?”
“Oh.” Lexa had honestly thought that Octavia had forgotten the question but she was glad that there had been a gap because, oddly enough, on the spot the only answer she had was that she was fine exactly where she was. It was hard not to give that as her answer because with Clarke sitting across the room and with Octavia - whom she was very quickly growing to adore - Lexa couldn’t think of a place she would rather be. But that wasn’t the answer Octavia was looking for, obviously, so she mulled over it for a moment longer. “There are,” she said quietly, looking down at her books and missing the way Clarke looked up from hers to watch Lexa give her answer (Octavia felt like hitting them, sometimes, because the way they kept missing each other’s obvious adoration bothered her to no end), “there is, ah, a library in Amsterdam. The Rijksmuseum. It is a research library and,” there her eyes took on an adoring quality, all stars and want, “it’s beautiful.”
There was a beat of silence. It felt wrong to intrude on it, like it held the last remnants of Lexa’s adoration and they were respectful of that.
Then, “That’s cool.” Octavia nodded. “So you’re a book nerd, huh?”
“Octavia!’ Clarke threw a pencil at her head, which she caught and threw back. “I’m angry and impressed.”
“Me too. Impressed, not angry. I wasn’t rude. There’s nothing wrong with being a nerd. Besides, I just want to know more about her. Geez.”
“Oh, it’s fine, really. Besides,” Lexa shrugged, “it’s kinda true.”
Both of the other girls registered Lexa’s use of ‘kinda’ and smiled - they were wearing her down. Formal Lexa was not so formal anymore and they couldn’t help but feel proud.
“I am working on double degree in English Literature,” she continued, “and Business.”
Lexa busied herself with shifting her books, choosing a new one. Her voice, when she finally spoke, was controlled but it was formal again and Clarke frowned. “It was a practical choice,” she said with careful pronunciation. “One that will provide me with safe career choices.”
“Do you like it?”
“Oh.” Lexa pursed her lips. “Yes. I quite like it. It is very practical and straight forward and I’ve always liked the maths that goes along with it.”
Clarke nudged Octavia, shaking her head lightly.
“What? There was totally a but in that.” Octavia slapped Clarke’s foot away and ignored the apologetic smile the blonde sent Lexa’s way.
“It’s fine, Clarke. Octavia is correct. English was my choice and I would have been very happy solely studying it. Business was my parents choice.”
“Screw ‘em,” Octavia suggested. “Do what you want.”
“But I am.” Lexa tilted her head slightly. “It’s not a bad plan, studying Business. I don’t mind it. And I still get to do what I wanted so…” She shrugged.
“Fair enough. You’ve got a fall back in case you don’t get a job where you want one. What can you do with that?” Clarke asked, putting her sketchbook aside. “Book reviewing maybe?” Lexa nodded, shrugged.
“Perhaps. But, well. I’d quite like to be a librarian actually,” Lexa said quietly, smiling shyly and she pushed a curl back behind her ear. When Clarke made a quiet choking sound, her face fell into control - she shouldn’t have told them. People had laughed before. Apparently being a librarian was a joke.
Octavia was howling with laughter and she slapped her knee hard and had to - finally - put down the glass she held for Clarke. She buried her face in her hand as her laughter faded. “Oh my god, Lexa,” she said, “I’m sorry, really. We aren’t laughing at you.” She paused. Sniffed, swiped beneath her eyes with her good arm. “That’s cool, really.” She pulled up, smiled fondly at their new friend. “Honest to god, we aren’t laughing at you. Clarke-
“No please, O, don’t.”
“It’s too fucking late, Griffin, I’m telling her. Oh my god, Lexa, Clarke has so many fantasies. So many.” Octavia’s grin cut her face almost in two. “So many librarian fantaies, you have no idea. I had front row seats to hear about some of them when she was drunk at this party and they had a stripper - terrible party, honestly, but we snatched a bottle of something and that was great fun. Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah - wow. Those are some vivid fantasies.” She sighed, wiped at her eyes again. “She’s never going to be able to visit you at work.”
Clarke rolled her eyes. “Now that you’ve thoroughly embarrassed me, I’m going to order the pizza. Octavia, you get nothing.”
“Incorrect! I would like Supreme please.”
Clarke bent down to murmur something in her friends ear, something that made Octavia grin and punch her arm, and when she stood Clarke was smiling again. “Lexa, any requests?”
She bit back the response on the tip of her tongue - “please visit me at work” - and shrugged. “Hawaiian?”
“Shut up, O. Cool. I’ll share with you, I’m not fussy.” Clarke walked past them to get to the kitchen, her hand brushed against Lexa’s shoulder as she passed.
There was plenty of space, Lexa thought. That couldn’t have been an accident.
But she was reading into it again, they were teasing her most likely, so she let it slide.
Octavia wasn’t very good at studying, Lexa had come to realise.
“Can you braid my hair for me?”
Lexa blinked. Placed her bookmark in her page and nodded. “Of course.”
“Yes, of course.” She shrugged a little. “I enjoy it. Besides, I’ve already read the required chapters.” Octavia gave her a bright grin and crawled towards Lexa, shoved at the table so it moved and she could slot herself in front of her. “How many would you like?”
“Go wild.” Octavia leant her head back, propping herself up on stiff arms. “Your braid is always so neat.”
Lexa hummed quietly, combing her fingers through Octavia’s hair. “My sister taught me,” she said quietly. “I quite enjoy it.”
“I didn’t know you had a sister.”
“She is older. She will be…” Lexa paused to think about it. “Twenty five come May.” She paused, eyes cutting over to Clarke huddled on the couch. “Should we be talking? I am afraid we are distracting her?”
“Nah, she’s fine. You could throw something at her and she wouldn’t flinch. She does this when she’s got a project due.” Octavia picked up a pen, aiming it at Clarke’s head, but Lexa snatched it away. “So, your sister?”
“She taught you how to braid, huh? Anything else?”
“Many things. And you?”
“Big brother for me. Bellamy.” Octavia paused and Lexa waited, tugging her hair into small strands and twisting them together slowly, carefully. “He kind of raised me. Our mum was gone a lot.” She shrugged as best she could without moving her head. “Anyway, now that I’ve got Clarke, he finally trusts that I’ll be okay without him and he’s going on his own big adventures.”
“What is it that he does?”
“He’s a historian. He goes around to libraries and checks out antique garage sales and does a buttload of dusty research and goes to excavation sites and gets super excited about pottery.” Octavia grinned over her shoulder. “He’s a huge nerd. You two would get along.”
Lexa smiled at the description. “I’m not done with these,” she said, tugging at a finished braid to get her to turn around. “Anya was adopted,” she said, feeling the mood required something of a give and take. Octavia told her Bellamy raised her; Lexa could tell her a little about her own family. “I was a surprise.” Lexa focused for a moment on the end of the braid, gathering her words. “I think she was jealous, for a while, at all the ways our parents doted on me. But then I was the child who could get away with nothing and she was allowed to more or less do as she pleased.” Lexa smiled fondly at the memory of a dirt covered Anya, toothy grin and scraped knees, grabbing her hand and urging her to run. Her, in her starched dress and knee socks, running down the dirty side street and playing soccer for the first time in her life with the neighbours boys. “She made sure I wasn’t too serious all the time,” she said because she wasn’t sure how to tell her new friend that Anya was an escape, all the good kinds of chaos and some of the bad, an experience, a lifeline.
“She sounds great.”
“Sibling laws require that I can’t admit that,” Lexa said and it pulled a loud laugh from Octavia (Lexa was very quickly deciding that she liked Octavia very much, she was loud and open and unafraid and Lexa thought perhaps she understood how Clarke could stomach to be so brave, when she had a friend like Octavia to stand by her side) “but I suppose so, yes.”
They spoke in quiet murmurs as Lexa finished Octavia’s braids - small ones throughout her hair, not nearly all of her hair in the intricate twists - and Lexa didn’t know quite what to do with herself when Octavia excused herself to bed.
It was late and a pleasant exhaustion had settled on her that she hadn’t recognised until she stood to leave.
Clarke blinked her way out of her sketchbook.
“Would you like to stay?” she asked in a whisper.
Her eyes looked up at Lexa, so blue, so clear, and so beautiful.
“Come on.” Clarke held out her hand, stood when Lexa took it, and she hesitated. Moved their hands so their fingers were entwined again. She looked up with raised eyebrows and Lexa couldn’t move, couldn’t speak. Whatever it was her face showed, however, was enough to make Clarke smile and she tugged her gently down the hallway to a room Lexa had not been in.
“This is your room?” Lexa asked her, seeing drawings scattered across the desk.
“I, is it,” she tried to get the words out but she made the mistake of looking at her and they scattered like birds at a too loud step, her words at a too-beautiful Clarke.
“Are you okay with sleeping in my bed?” Clarke asked her when it became apparent that Lexa couldn’t say it. “The couch is kind of uncomfortable.”
“Yes. That’s fine.”
“I, my jeans are uncomfortable,” Lexa said with a hint of apology.
Clarke bit her lip. Looked away. “You can take them off. If you want. Or I have pyjama shorts you can borrow?”
Lexa couldn’t misread it.
Didn’t want to.
Clarke was offering her own bed to sleep in. She was blushing. She had looked at Lexa’s lips.
Lexa smiled carefully at her - it made Clarke breathless, that calculated lift to her lips - and popped the button to her jeans, stepping out of them. “It’s fine,” she said, folding them.
Granted, the word was choked out, but it was coherent and they slipped into opposite sides of the bed and Clarke turned out the light.
“Clarke?” Lexa murmured. She was answered with a quiet hum. “Thank you for telling me my number was in that stall.”
Clarke huffed a quiet laugh. She scooted a little closer, until they were lying side by side, and Lexa turned her head to see Clarke smiling at her, features faintly lit up by the street lamp outside. “You’re welcome,” she said, voice oh so sweet, and her hand touched Lexa’s cheek gently. She shifted again, placing a kiss to Lexa’s opposite cheek, and she lingered until Lexa turned. “Can I?” she asked more quietly, and her smile when Lexa nodded oh so slowly was glorious. “Thank you,” she said, laughing at herself because thank you? Who said that? She did, apparently, and Lexa’s answering smile made it worth it.
She leant down and pressed her lips carefully to Lexa’s.
It was imperfect in all the best ways. Clarke’s lips were chapped. Lexa’s hands were cold. Their noses bumped and, in the dark, the kiss fell to the side just slightly.
But it made Clarke see colours behind her eyes and Lexa’s heart beat faster and she felt warm all over and burning hot where Clarke was leaning on her just slightly and neither of them remembered a kiss feeling so perfect.
Clarke moved to kiss her again, more direct, and Lexa curled her hand around the back of her neck. Lexa’s thumb dragged against her skin there and Clarke shivered at the sensation. She had to pull away, taking her bottom lip between her teeth and nibbling slightly.
“Sorry,” Lexa said.
“I…am not sure.” Lexa smiled, couldn’t help but smile because Clarke had kissed her and she thought perhaps that Clarke had wanted to kiss her for quite a long time. Possibly as long as Lexa had wanted to kiss Clarke.
“Well don’t be. My neck is just sensitive,” Clarke murmured.
“I will keep that in mind.”
“Oh goodie.” Clarke dipped down again, stopping just shy of Lexa’s lips, and she giggled when Lexa clicked her tongue and lifted up to close the distance. “I want to keep kissing you,” Clarke confessed.
“But you have class in the morning.” There was something else to her tone and Lexa pulled away, pushed Clarke back.
“And you don’t want to go too fast,” she suggested.
“There’s that too, yeah. Was it obvious?”
“No,” Lexa lied. “I feel the same,” she said, and that was not a lie. “Go to sleep, Clarke,” she said. “I will be here in the morning.”