Clarke wouldn't say that she was proud of herself.
Hiding in the boys bathroom stall to avoid her friends wasn't the highlight of her day. Though, to be fair her whole day had been one step downhill after the other so she couldn't make herself feel too surprised that it had ended up here. Here being, sitting in the public bathroom, feet tucked up on the closed seat underneath her as she played with her phone and ignored the constant worried messages. Here also being the mental state of 'fuck fuck fuck' and 'fuck my life' and 'I probably deserve this'.
She could hear Octavia's voice outside and distracted herself with the bathroom graffiti, hoping that she wouldn't come in.
gry waz here. Well that was succinct, to the point. She'd give it two stars for that at least. The constellation design on the other wall was pretty - three out of five. At least the crass poetry that had been scrawled black was kind of genius, though rhyming dick with thick was a little boring and she could have done better.
It was the number written in bold black that caught her attention, and the message underneath it that made her frown.
She fiddled with her phone for a moment and then, Did you know that your number is in a bathroom stall?
Clarke killed time by sending a snapchat to the only one of her friends that wasn't currently scouring the campus for her (and only because he was on the other side of the world) who promptly replied with why are you sending me pics of a bathroom clarke wtf? and she sent him seven more to annoy him because he was a jerk and she had nothing better to do while she waited for the stranger to reply.
When they did, it was with a curt No.
Well it is. do you want me to cross it out for you?
She watched as the little bubble popped up, the dots blinking. Then, Yes.
Clarke nodded. She would have done it anyway - the message wasn't flattering by any means - but she hoped that she had made someone feel a little safer in this big stupid world by letting them know. Letting her know, she assumed from the message.
Consider it done
She leant to her side, dug in her bag for a moment to find a marker she knew was in there somewhere, and began embellishing the number. Blacking it out first, and then covering it up with a drawing of her own. A little devil with numbers dancing around him. She would call it the Number Devil and he would remain as a warning to anyone who thought writing their enemies numbers in bathroom stalls to get people to harass them was a good idea. Her phone buzzed just as she was drawing the devil face (he was going to be eating a phone, it was going to be a bold statement entirely worthy of her art major) and she capped her pen to read the message.
Why did you tell me?
Clarke hesitated. Then, well, she had nothing to lose so why not tell this complete stranger absolutely everything?
Because I'm hiding from my friends in the boys toilet
Because I'm a terrible person and I feel like crap today because everything has been going wrong and yeah I know that it's a mindset or whatever that I've put myself into and I know that my friends are just trying to help but honestly they're making it all worse and I can't deal with it right now
Because I know that girls don't generally put their numbers up where boys can find them to harass so I thought why not do a good deed maybe it will make me feel better
She dropped her head back against the wall and sighed. Stupid. Annoying random strangers with her problems because she couldn't face her friends. The buzz of her phone tingled in her hand and she sighed again. She wondered if she should even bother reading the message her stranger sent back - it was probably going to be an 'okay fuck off now I'm busy' kind of thing and, while she knew that she deserved that, she still didn't want to read it.
Clarke was curiosity's bitch though so she groaned, rolled her head to face her lap, and opened her phone to read it.
Did it? the message read and Clarke frowned.
Did it make you feel better?
Clarke smiled. She thought about the question until her screen dimmed and locked itself, and then she thought about it some more. Finally, she tapped out a reply.
A little. There was the temptation to add an explanation - why she was upset, why her friends were looking for her, perhaps a rant about how she found it kind of foul how people spread numbers like that as a kind of an attack, why she felt like she needed to do something or have something good today - but she just took a photo of her half-finished drawing instead and sent it along with the message.
What is that?
My response to shitheads who post people's numbers without permission. I'm calling it the number devil and it's meant to stand as a rebuke against privacy violation... also to freak boys out.
It was a rather gruesome picture, to be honest, and Clarke couldn't help the amusement she felt at the idea of boys sitting in the stall and doing their best not to look at it.
You are very strange.
Yeah. Clarke smiled down at her phone.
You are also very talented. I would like to see it when you are finished.
And that made Clarke smile like nothing else had that day and she tucked her phone into her pocket and got to work, immersing herself in the wretched and the wicked drawing until the devil was finally done and she was happy enough to lean back and nod. She snapped a picture and stood - crashed back down because her legs were tingling with pins and needles and one was fully numb from the knee down and she had to hold herself up, hands pressed against the walls of the stall, and jump in place until the feeling was back. Her leg buzzed unpleasantly but it was better than the constant fear that she was going to break her ankle walking if she couldn't feel it (improbable, but she couldn't help the fear).
Plus, she had dinner plans she had to make.
She sent the finished product to her stranger as she wandered back to her apartment. Octavia wasn't home and she did her best to move quickly, showering and changing, and by the time she checked the clock the hour until dinner yawned wide and empty ahead of her.
She dropped into her desk chair. Checked her phone. Two messages.
It's good. Creepy.
And, Thank you.
Clarke smiled - she had been counting, and this stranger had pulled four smiles from her now, an unheard of number especially today of all days.
You're totally welcome, stranger. Sorry for dumping all my problems on you. She fiddled with her phone for a moment, feeling oddly exposed. Sure, she had told this girl stuff but - wait. You are a girl, yeah? Just checking because I totally assumed and I shouldn't have done that. Rude.
Okay. Cool. Me too, btw
I was uncertain. You were in the male toilets after all.
I was hiding. It was the first place I found.
That is very strange of you, her stranger told her and Clarke couldn't help but smile again - that was five now - because her stranger's replies were instant and it make Clarke feel good that someone was waiting for her to talk. Someone was listening to her and it wasn't heavy with pity or concern or worry. It wasn't anything but fun and light teasing.
I have to go, Clarke sent and she found herself regretting it instantly. Regret felt oddly like suddenly exposed dread and she knew that she had been using these messages as a buffer, as a way to forget dinner and everything else that was going on, to pretend that life wasn't always moving and that she could stay and talk forever with no worries.
She wanted to nestle in a cocoon of blankets and maybe drink a stupid amount and she absolutely did not want to leave the house. But. She had to.
She looked down and saw she had been doodling as she texted her stranger. Clarke snapped a picture of the drawing, sent it off. A phone with a smiley face - utterly lame, utterly childish. But cute.
Have a good evening, was her stranger's reply.
She thought maybe that the girl kept the photo though. Wishful thinking, that, whimsy thinking. But there was no harm in that. None at all.
Clarke picked up her jacket and her keys. Left a note on the kitchen counter for Octavia, didn't let herself feel the prickle of guilt that she had avoided and ignored her all day, and she made her way to her car, the weight of her phone in her pocket reassuring.
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
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?
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. 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?"
"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.
"Clarke." No response. "Clarke. Clarke." Octavia rolled closer on the floor, hugging her pillow to under her chin. She glared up at her best friend, who was very happily absorbed in her phone. "Clarke. Clarke. Clarke."
"Mm?" Clarke lifted an eyebrow, the only indication that she might have heard her.
"The remote, Clarke. If you aren't going to do your job and fast forward through the ads then you have to let me do it. Please." Octavia raised herself up onto her knees, dropped her chin heavily onto Clarke's thigh. "Please, Clarke," she grumbled, puppy dog eyes at full effect.
"Yeah, sure," the blonde mumbled back, carefully constructing her text.
Octavia took the remote. Considered her next move. "Clarke, can I eat the leftover cake in the fridge?" If her calculations were correct, Clarke wasn't listening at all and she should, in a moment, say yes.
"No," Clarke said in that same distracted tone. She sent off her message and grinned down at Octavia, phone dropping in her fist to the side, onto the couch. "O, just because I'm thinking doesn't mean I'm not paying attention to you."
"Right. 'Thinking'," Octavia mocked, making air quotes with her fingers.
"Why are you saying it like that."
"Oh please," she laughed, but Clarke was frowning at her and she quickly searched her friend closely, looking for any sign of guile. "Oh. My. God. You really don't know?"
"Know what, Octavia?"
"Clarke," Octavia shifted, took Clarke's free hand in both of hers. (Remote, hardly won, easily abandoned.) "Clarke, you're totally crushing on mystery girl." She laughed when Clarke's mouth dropped open, and then she laughed and laughed and laughed. Clarke snatched her hand back and Octavia let herself fall back to the ground, hugging her pillow to her chest as she laughed some more. "You really didn't know?" she managed to get out between giggles when she finally calmed down enough to speak.
Clarke answered through stiff lips. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh okay, hmm, let me think about it. You literally text her good morning every morning," she ticked off on her first finger, "you send her pictures of your napkin doodles you do when we go out for coffee," ticked her second finger, "you text her good night every night and send her stupid jokes when you hear them," third and fourth finger, "and don't think that I don't know she's the one you talk to now when you can't sleep at night because you haven't woken me up in at least a week."
Clarke's hand tightened on her phone. "She's a friend," she said, unsteady.
"No, Clarke. I'm your friend. But you don't want to talk to me literally all day every day about everything."
"Because you live with me and I'm sick of you," Clarke said - not unkindly, trying to force humour into the situation because her fingers were starting to prickle and she could feel heat in her cheeks and it wasn't the good kind of embarrassed. Questions began to flood her brain. Had she been flirting? Had she made Lexa uncomfortable? Had she come across too strong? Would Lexa have even told her if she had? Did Lexa feel the same? What was she thinking doing something like this, getting involved? She buried her head in her hands and groaned, digging the base of her palms into her eyes and rubbing. "Shit."
Octavia patted her on the shoulder. "Sorry. I would have told you earlier but I thought you knew."
"Shit," Clarke repeated with passion. "What am I going to do?"
"Uh. Maybe meet her?"
"What? No!" Clarke whirled on Octavia, grabbing her arm. "I can't do that! I'm a mess. I'm a complete and utter mess and she's the only one who doesn't think that right now because she barely knows anything about me and I want it to stay that way."
"Clarke," Octavia started but the blonde talked right over her, jumping out of her seat to pace the length of their living room.
"She can't think that I'm a freak, she can't, O. She's nice and funny and she compliments my art and doesn't think that wanting to do that is a waste of my potential and she thinks I'm funny or at least I think she does because she always teases me after I send her a really bad joke and I think that's her way of being affectionate? And I just, ugh." Clarke flopped face first back onto the couch, drained.
"You really like her." Octavia tried to be gentle about it but the declaration still pulled a groan from Clarke. "Hey, hey, you're okay," she reassured her friend, patting her lightly on the back. "You're a total catch."
"I'm a mess."
"A total messy catch," Octavia reiterated cheerfully, smiling when that pulled a laugh from Clarke. "I know you're still getting over Finn but you know what they say." She pulled and pushed at Clarke's shoulder until she was facing up and sat next to her, eyebrows waggling salaciously. "The fastest way to get over someone is to get under someone else."
"That's not how I roll and you know it." Clarke sighed. Rubbed a hand over her face. "Maybe I should just stop." She looked at her phone. There was a new message from Lexa and she considered just ignoring it.
"Clarke. Look at me. I'm going to be serious and this doesn't happen often so indulge me." Clarke let her face be directed to look straight at her best friend. "She makes you smile. And she's just a series of messages. She makes you laugh and she makes you not drag your feet so much when you get out of bed. So." Octavia clapped her hands down onto Clarke's knee with an encouraging smile. "This is what we're going to do. You're going to go have a shower because sixteen hours of watching TV is eight hours too long." She stood and hauled Clarke - who whinged only slightly - to her feet. "And then we are going to do your hair all fancy and take some selfies and send them to your girl and you're going to pretend it's to show her me but really it's an invitation to show her you - got it? Also, you are going to look totally hot and she's going to fall head over heels for you."
"I think you've been watching too many rom coms, O."
"Shut up! It'll work." Octavia slapped her on the butt - hard, which ouch, made Clarke frown and rub at the sore spot - and took Clarke's previous place on the couch. "I'll be waiting right here."
Clarke hesitated for another moment and she looked unexpectedly small and nervous when she spoke next. "You really think this is a good move?"
Octavia cursed the day Clarke had ever met Finn.
She hid it well but Octavia knew that Clarke was always second-guessing herself now, and piling guilt and blame on top of her like they were her favourite blankets, sure that everything bad that happened was her fault and that everything bad that happened to her was deserved.
Octavia hated it. She wanted her vivacious friend back. Her friend who danced like everyone was watching her and she knew it and loved it. Her friend who gave exactly zero shits what anyone thought about her because she knew who she was and what she was doing and that was the only thing that mattered. Her friend who had been shining through now and again more and more frequently in the last two weeks, ever since she started talking to this Lexa.
She unfolded her legs from underneath her and waved Clarke closer, taking her hand. Very gently, she asked, "Are you doubting my impeccable wisdom?"
Clarke's lips twitched into a smile. "No, ma'am."
"No. I didn't think so. Now get that cute butt into a shower. You stink."
Lexa never regretted going to the gym on her Friday evenings. After her week of studying - and studying and studying and, occasionally, if she had the time, more studying - she always needed to find her way to the gym and spend an hour or two feeling more like a human than a jumble of definitions and textbook answers. She wanted to feel her muscles working and the prickle of sweat and hear her gym playlist blasting through her instead of seeing words scatter themselves over the insides of her eyelids every time she blinked.
By the time she finished her workout, she would be refreshingly exhausted and she could sleep right through her roommate crashing into her dresser and onto her bed when she returned early the next morning stinking of alcohol, if it turned out to be a party Friday. She would also be able to sleep through her roommate crashing into her dresser and onto her bed, mumbling profanities and badmouthing peers if it turned out to be a project Friday.
Lexa had her routine and she liked the way it settled her.
Endorphins were a welcome side effect.
So no, she never regretted her Friday gym sessions until she turned her phone on as she swiped her members card to exit and checked her phone as she walked out into the parking lot. Clarke's number flashed up onto the screen and suddenly every part of Lexa was regret because she could have seen these messages earlier if it weren't for her gym session. Message from Clarke, she saw. Dragged her thumb up and scrolled through the notifications. Several messages from Clarke, actually.
The too-quick thump of her heart had nothing to do with exercise and everything to do with the name on her screen, equal parts concern (why had Clarke messaged her so many times, was she in trouble, did she need help) and fondness.
Lexa forced herself to wait until she was in her car and in the drivers seat - gym bag placed neatly in the boot first - before she checked the messages and she was glad she did because it wasn't a stretch in the slightest to think she might have collapsed. She was sitting down and her legs still felt like they turned to jelly when she saw Clarke for the first time.
The first photo was a girl on the couch pulling a face. Captioned, my oh so lovely roommate. She was all dark hair and, in the next photo, a wicked wide smile. Small braids through the mass of hair and Lexa thought maybe she spotted a tattoo on her wrist. She looked over the photos closely before she moved onto the next one.
Knees weak - yes, she most likely would have collapsed. Teeth dug into her bottom lip and she couldn't look away because she was stunning.
Iridescent, her mind supplied, and that was far too Romantic a thought so Lexa banished that one and focused on words like blonde and straight nosed and so so lovely.
Clearly her roommate had stolen her phone because there were a few unflattering candid shots before Clarke turned, confused, toward the camera and then she was laughing (beautiful) and reaching out for the phone (beautiful) and Lexa did her best to stop herself from blinking. Those split seconds where she couldn't see Clarke's face were far too long and oh
This was a disaster.
She locked her screen.
Lexa had had thought like that before, about another girl with eyes like the sea (she could be still, so still and calm, but with one hundred thousand lives thoughts directions swirling fierce beneath the cover of those eyes and Lexa wouldn't have known until it all came crashing down around her and swept her away, there was no standing in the way of her) green and she drowned in them.
Blue didn't mean that Clarke was any different.
The sky was just as dangerous as the sea.
There was just as much danger when your feet left the ground as there was when you held your breath and ducked beneath the waves.
But she was stronger, smarter, wiser now. She wouldn't make the same mistakes. (Clarke couldn't be a mistake. She hadn't been a mistake either.) She wouldn't get attached in the same ways. She wouldn't fall for her. (She was half gone already.)
Lexa opened her phone to look at the photos again.
The moment she considered sending a photo back, in gym gear and with sweat-slicked hair plastered across her forehead no doubt, she knew she was doomed. Let herself pretend otherwise, when she thought better of it and placed her phone in the glovebox and drove home. Showered and dressed and clean, she would send one back. It was only fair.
She spent far too long considering what she could possibly send.
Settled on her own roommate, snoring on her bed, and ignored the way her hands wanted to shake (they didn't, she wouldn't let them) when she turned the camera on herself and sent Clarke her most unamused expression. She was trying to study, after all. She didn't need Raven snoring loudly beside her.
Lexa tried to think of a not-creepy way of telling Clarke that she was beautiful.
Decided that doing so would be a very bad idea, that people didn't say that unless they were close or wanted to be closer. (Very thoroughly ignored the fact that maybe a little part of her did want to be closer, knew that she was already walking in dangerous territory because her texting had slipped to involve emoticons and Clarke was the first person she thought about in the morning when she woke up and all in all the thought of the other girl twisted her stomach in knots.)
I like your face, Clarke sent back and Lexa stared at that for a few moments.
Wondered how it was that Clarke could be so much braver than she was. That she could just bodily launch herself over that line.
Maybe Lexa was the only one with those lines and rules and boundaries (she had considered the possibility before) but she couldn't shake that voice in her head that told her to stay still, be calm, too much emotion would earn her only ridicule, never to hug else she would make them uncomfortable, keep yourself to yourself because that is your own defence.
So Clarke. Clarke was an experience. I like your face. Lexa looked at the message again before she shook her head.
She was reading into it. Nothing about Clarke had said queer yet, or lesbian, or bi, or anything that meant Clarke didn't simply and sincerely mean I like your face. Lexa was reading into it. There was no line to cross. There was no charged meaning behind any of it. Clarke was being kind.
Lexa took the niggling feeling that told her maybe she wanted it to be less simple, more meaning, and quashed it viciously.
I like your face too.
Somehow, Lexa had been bullied into getting snapchat so that Clarke could send her tiny videos and photos of her art and, though she would never admit that she thought so, the most adorable 'I don't want to wake up and go to this stupid seven am class save me' selfies. (Clarke would never admit it but the reason she made Lexa get snapchat in the first place was that so she would know when Lexa saved the photos of her art, the idea that she was keeping them, even the terrible doodles she did in the margins of her notebooks, making her smile for days.)
Clarke was funny, Lexa continued to learn. Lexa, of course, rarely replied with more than a blurred photo of her wall to send Clarke a message - usually "I am asleep" at three in the morning or "your humour is boundless, truly" though she had to rework her vocabulary a lot of the time given that messages like that didn't fit in the box.
Clarke used snapchat differently. She loved to send Lexa stories, pictures of leaves as she walked to class, more unhappy Clarke pictures sitting in the mostly empty lecture hall, "look Lexa a bird!", and one of the boys who had decided he was going to sit with her in each of the lectures they shared complete with added devil horns and a twirling moustache courtesy of Clarke's art skills. (She put them to good use.) Lexa had, on several occasions, checked her snapchat at lunch to see that Clarke had already eaten...and documented the entire thing, replete with photos of empty tables with stick figures sloppily drawn in and silly messages of "look @ me w all my friends".
It was a mystery to both of them how it took so long for them to figure out they went to the same university.
It was Clarke's doing, naturally.
She sent more pictures over all.
So when she sent one of her roommate, covered in grass stains and in her soccer uniform with the little badge on her chest with the name of their university, Lexa didn't know how to respond.
Eventually, it was with a simple TonDC State?
Lexa held her phone gingerly in her hand and then laid it next to her on her desk. She had to think.
Clarke made it difficult to think, what with the notifications from her pictures - she had told Lexa she was going to her friend's soccer game that evening so no doubt it would be videos of that, and perhaps a championship cup drawn into her roommates hands. Lexa clenched her jaw and dropped her phone into the first drawer of her desk when it buzzed one too many times.
She could hear it.
The soccer field. It was down the hill from her college and if she looked out the window - she didn't - she could see the spotlights on the field and the spectators lining the sides. She could look for blonde hair and that now familiar face.
She could go down there.
What she did, eventually, was leave her phone in her room. She closed her textbooks and slid them into her bag, made her way in the opposite direction of the sports field. The library instead, she had decided. Clarke was taking over her brain but sans phone she would be able to concentrate and with several mock exams made available for one of her classes that morning, she should be studying.
Lexa hated the way she wanted to go back for her phone and text Clarke, text her about how much she hated the term mock exams. There wasn't a thing moderately funny about them. Clarke would laugh at that, she knew.
Clarke laughed at a lot of things, most of them terrible. (Why did the emu cross the road? To prove it wasn't a chicken!) (What is a koala's favourite drink? coca koala!)
But she had books to read and exams to take and Clarke, and her newfound proximity, had to be put out of her mind.
It was simple enough, when she slipped into her concentration and played her music, but she couldn't find it in herself to be surprised that when she was done and making her way back to her dorm her first thought was of Clarke. She tried to err on the side of anger because she didn't like the swirl in her stomach when she thought about leaving her phone in her room for four hours and all the messages she had missed, all the photos, all the emails. But it had been the right thing to do, she told herself, because Clarke wasn't a necessity and she had to stop treating her like she was.
Lexa placed her bag next to her desk neatly. Returned her books to their appropriate place on top. Pencil case next to them. Untied her shoes and placed them at the end of her bed. Grabbed a bottle of water from their shared fridge - Raven had eaten her leftovers again, she saw - and collected her phone from its prison. Turned it on. Pretend like she hadn't delayed getting it out of spite and pride (she could go without checking her phone because of Clarke, she could, she had proven it when she left it here hadn't she?)
38 new messages from Clarke stopped Lexa in the middle of her room.
That was excessive.
Well and truly excessive.
O is kicking butt tonight. Normal. She dragged her thumb down, over messages much the same, and her stomach dropped out from beneath her when she saw why Clarke had messaged her so often.
O went down - going to hospital - she looks bad - lexa where are u? - r u busy? im sorry i know u have exams i just need someone to talk to - im shaking lex, where r u? - get back to me asap - doctor says her arm is broken and she has a concussion so she's staying overnight - they're letting me stay too because she might wake up and freak - i get to pick the colour of her cast, Lexa read and she knew that Clarke was doing her best to be positive, no doubt she would pick a bright yellow and laugh when Octavia hated it. No doubt she would draw all over the cast too. Can i call you? was the last message Clarke had sent, two hours before.
She called Clarke.
"Lexa?" Clarke picked up on the second ring. Her voice was groggy and very quiet. (Lexa didn't think at all on the way Clarke said her name. It wasn't the right time for it. She could marvel on the way that voice handled her name like it was special at some other, more appropriate, moment.)
"I'm sorry I didn't respond," Lexa started. "I didn't have my phone. I left it when I went to study." Her excuse sounded flimsy, it was flimsy, and she felt the first pricklings of guilt because she had left it for exactly the reason that Clarke would be a distraction and she couldn't tell her that but she knew that if she hadn't done that then she would have been on the phone with Clarke the whole time, calmed her down, been there for her.
Lexa squeezed her eyes shut and pinched the bridge of her nose. Weak. Stupid. Weak. She should have had her phone with her.
"It's alright," Clarke said a little more loudly. The sound of shuffled footsteps came through the phone as well and Lexa guess that she had stepped out of Octavia's room. "You were studying, it's cool."
But she sounded exhausted and perhaps a little scared and there was nothing Lexa could do to make that better so she steeled herself and went for the facts instead.
"How is Octavia?"
"Yeah she's good." Paused. "Better," she corrected herself. "It was bad." Lexa could hear Clarke swallow. "I don't know how my mum does it," she said. "I could see O's bone," she said and her voice was tight and strangled and the moment trailed off between them as she took small breaths to calm herself.
"Clarke, are you alright?" Silly question. But Lexa needed to hear the answer.
"I saw her go down and when she didn't get up..." Lexa imagined that the other girl shrugged. "The ambulance was there quick but she was looking at me and I tried to stop her from looking but she fainted in my arms and, fuck," she breathed, "I thought, she, I thought that she,"
"Clarke," Lexa cut her off. "You need to breathe," she told her because she could hear the uneven catch of breath and the hint of panic in her voice. "You need to breathe deep and slow, alright?" She continued to speak in that same way, low and reassuring, until she heard Clarke's even out a little more. "Is anyone with you?" she asked and there was a part of her that wanted to go to her, to help her, to make sure that she slept and she was okay but Clarke didn't know yet that they went to the same university, didn't know that Lexa could be there within half an hour, and it was entirely selfish of her but she didn't want their first meeting to be awkwardly over the hospital bed of her friend. And she didn't want Clarke to think she had to pay attention to her when she should be with her friend. So she was relieved when Clarke told her yes.
"Lincoln, O's boyfriend. He got off work about half an hour ago." Clarke sighed. "Sorry for blowing up your phone, by the way," she said after a short pause.
"Sorry for not having it on me," Lexa said softly and they both left it at that because they were both right and they didn't want to think about sorry's. It wasn't important. "Do you need anything?"
"Can you...just talk to me a little longer?"
Lexa closed her eyes, tried to control the fierce protectiveness that took over her when she heard all that vulnerability, and fear, and fatigue in Clarke's voice but there was no point and she knew right about that moment that there was no going back.
"Of course. Would you like to hear about Shakespeare or about my Women Writers class?"
"Shakespeare is all dick jokes, yeah?"
"I could do with a laugh." Lexa heard a whisper of fabric and imagined Clarke sitting alone in a hall somewhere saying with an effortless handle on understatement that she could do with a laugh. "Hit me."
Clarke's voice shot across their dorm room, only slightly muffled by the door and the sound of her jumping into her jeans.
"O, I have class now. You need anything while I'm out?"
"Are you sure?"
Clarke slid in her socks across the floor and grabbed at the wall to slow herself as she reached Octavia's bedroom, pocking her head around the corner.
"Are you sure?" she asked again.
Clarke was one big ball of worry - from her frazzled hair, messily done up in a ponytail down to her odd socks. She'd been like that for days, ever since Octavia had been given the all clear to go home so long as she didn't move around too much. Octavia was still fuzzy from the pain medication and her arm twinged horribly in that hour or so between the painkiller wearing off and her next dose. So Clarke had made it her solemn duty to look after her.
Which had been fine for the first day - they really just had a movie marathon and Clarke had recorded Octavia each time she took her painkillers, asking her questions and keeping the video responses for the next time Octavia told her soccer buddies one of Clarke's sport-related mishaps, of which she had many.
Four days in, however, Clarke was still worried about Octavia and near enough waiting on her hand and foot and Octavia appreciated it, she really really did.
But it was bugging her.
So she closed her eyes and sucked in a deep breath. Counted to three. "Yes Clarke," she said, as calm as she was able. "I am sure. I have my pillows that you have very kindly arranged for me. I have food and water within reach. I have the remote and enough spare batteries to power my vibrator for days."
"It's for the TV remote and you know it," Clarke said with a reproving scowl. "The doctors said no physical activity."
"Are you sure? And what if I said my arm really, really hurt and I needed you to do that for me? Are you sure you wouldn't take care of it for me?"
Clarke frowned heavily. "I feel," she said slowly, "like you're trying to tell me something."
"Yeah I am. I'm trying to tell you that if you don't leave right now for class I'm going to throw this pineapple at you." Octavia hefted the fruit in her hand. "I don't even eat pineapple."
"I thought you might want some fruit!"
"And what? Peel it with my teeth?" Octavia grunted as she held it out for Clarke to take. "Go away," she said, not unkindly. "I love you Clarke but I'm fine. I promise." She nodded sharply, eyes fixed on her best friend, hoping that the look of confidence would drive her message home. She even gentled her next words, knowing that Clarke was just doing her best. "You don't have to hover over me twenty-four seven."
Clarke's shoulders slumped. She shuffled forward to take the pineapple - Octavia wondered if she knew that she instantly cradled it like she would a baby. "I know," she sighed. "I, it scared me. When it happened." Her voice was a low murmur as she tried to keep her fear as much to herself as she could, not wanted to bother the recovering Octavia with her stuff as well as healing. "But you are strong and fine," she said, nodding with each adjective, and they both knew she was reassuring herself more than Octavia. "And I will work on being less of a creep," she promised, stepping away.
"Again," Octavia said, "I love you. But thank you."
She crashed back onto her pillows and sighed. She knew that Clarke was just trying to make her comfortable and look after her but she hadn't had someone other than her brother - who, it had to be noted, was brusque though good intentioned - to do that for her and she would feel so much better knowing that Clarke wasn't skipping lectures to make sure that her elbow wasn't itchy.
Or ditching her friend/crush. Octavia didn't even know if Clarke had been texting her over the past week. She certainly hadn't seen her phone in her hand at all and since she was basically always hovering at Octavia's side, she had to think probably not.
She hoped whatever they had, whatever that whole odd relationship was, she hoped it wasn't ruined.
God. She didn't think she would be able to take that.
Clarke had never looked happier than when she was talking to that girl lately.
"Okay, okay, okay," she could hear Clarke muttering from somewhere outside her room. She heard the tell-tale stumblings of her clumsy friend pulling on her boots and then she was at her bedroom door again. "Now, I can go past the corner store on the way back so if you want anything...?"
"I swear to god, if you don't leave right this instant I am going to scream."
Clarke held her hands up in surrender and was almost at the front door when she heard Octavia yelling her name. She sprinted back, heart rate jumping up and up, only to see her friend absolutely fine but looking guilty.
"What? What is it?"
"My phone," Octavia said, biting her lip and shrugging her shoulders, doing her best to take advantage of her sweet face and Clarke's good humour. "It's on my desk."
Clarke pressed a hand to her wildly beating heart and scooped up Octavia's phone, lobbing it to her. When she had it in her hand, Clarke shook her head - that was really all she could manage, heart in her throat and stopping her words - and left.
She took the pineapple with her.
You never knew when you might need a pineapple.
"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."
Lexa kept her phone by her head when she slept now. She knew that she didn't need to - she wasn't a heavy sleeper and she knew that, if Clarke messaged her, she would hear her phone when it rumbled against the wood of her bedside table.
She couldn't help keeping it close though.
The last time she hadn't, Clarke needed her.
(Someone, that little voice in her head said. Clarke had needed someone. Lexa just happened to be one of the people she had asked.)
And what had she been doing? Wilfully ignoring her, that's what. She buried her face in her pillow and groaned. Loud. It hadn't been her fault that Octavia ended up in hospital and she shouldn't feel bad about leaving her phone behind.
(Felt like she was being punished, though, when Clarke messaged her less and less as the week went on.)
It was what she had needed to do in order to study and that was equally important to her - more so, she reminded herself, studying was far more important than any girl.
Her fingers clenched in the sheets and Lexa groaned again, louder.
She was a mess.
"Oh, sorry, do you need some time to yourself or something?" Raven joked as she wandered in, late as ever.
"Fuck off, Raven."
"Ooh, feisty. I like it."
Lexa turned her head toward the other girl. Narrowed her eyes at her roommate, who was sitting on the edge of her bed and just grinning at her. Raven never made conversation with Lexa - why was she starting now? It wasn't that they were enemies or anything as childish as that. Now and again when it was necessary, they even managed to be friendly.
"What do you want?" Lexa asked slowly, suspicious. True, Raven was bearable. She had even spoken to Lexa’s mother that one time (though she had been wearing the same insufferable grin the whole time) pretending that she and Lexa were the best of friends while her mother babbled on about ‘oh I’m so glad’ and ‘I get so worried about Lexa sometimes’ and “she always studies studies studies I don’t know where she gets it from” and “I was worried she wouldn’t make any friends, how nice that she has such a lovely roommate”. But that didn’t mean that they were close or that Lexa wasn’t still nervous every time the topic of bathroom hours came up because Raven was a hog and had more than enough know-how to make Lexa’s life miserable, if she were so inclined. (They had come to a tentative truce about the shower times when Raven had rigged the water to run ice cold after two minutes and Lexa had retaliated with hiding all of Raven’s things in strangers rooms. How she got into them, Raven still didn’t know, and the mystery and vague threatening air to it had led to their eventual truce.)
“What?” she asked again, seeing that Raven’s grin only widened farther into an oddly familiar grin.
“Do you remember that time you said you owed me one because your mum called and you needed to pretend that we were friends?”
Oh. That was why the smile looked familiar. It was. It was Raven’s ‘I’m about to take you for all you have’ grin that she used when she was hustling poor strangers on online poker, and her classmates when they told her that she wasn’t going to be able to come up with a better mech project on her own than they could in a group.
Lexa prepared herself. “Yes.”
“I’m cashing it in. Friday night. We are going to a party.”
“We’re going to a party?”
“You’re inviting me to a party?” Lexa asked quietly, surprised. “With you?”
“Well. Kind of? I need someone to look after me while I’m there and make sure I don’t do anything too stupid. And to drive me home. And drive me back here. And make sure I don’t puke all over anyone.”
“So you’re inviting me to be your babysitter.” That was more in line with what Lexa had expected, though she did admit that perhaps just once she would quite like to be invited to a party.
“Lexa,” Raven teased. “Did you want to come to the party?”
“Well I assume that I am. I can’t look after you if I’m waiting outside all night for you in the car.”
“Lexa,” Raven said again, smiling. “Did you want to come to the party as my friend?”
“No.” Lexa turned away stiffly. “Certainly not.”
“I can tell when you’re lying, you know.” Raven dropped back onto her bed, lifted her leg up with a groan. She began to undo the buckles on her brace and when she was done, she looked back to Lexa. “You can come as my friend, if you want. But!” She held up a warning finger. “You’re still going to owe me one.” She smiled when Lexa scowled. “Decisions, decisions,” she teased.
Lexa frowned at her heavily. Then, “Iwouldliketogoasyourfriend,” she muttered down toward her pillow.
“I’m sorry, what was that?” Raven cupped a hand behind her ear, leant forward. (Still with that infuriating grin.) “You have to speak up, I’m disabled.”
Her leg, yes, not her ears, but Lexa just rolled her eyes and raised her voice. “I would like to go as your friend,” she repeated, chin up and refusing to feel ashamed for that. It was natural for people to want friends, surely. She wasn’t wrong in wanting that. Perhaps her choice of friends left something to be desired because by all accounts Raven was brash, self-serving, crude, headstrong, and a little selfish. (Not that there was anything wrong with being those things, and since she was also: funny, smart, caring, deceptively optimistic, and fun, she was actually a rather incredible person. But Lexa wouldn’t admit to that.)
“I would’ve invited you to others if I knew you wanted to go, you know,” Raven said, pulling her covers up to her chin.
“Hey Octavia, I’m home and-”
“Fuck me I’m itchy,” were Octavia’s first words, grumbled and desperate, when Clarke and Raven stepped through the door.
“Is that an invitation?” the mostly unfamiliar girl at Clarke’s shoulder asked, grinning down at Octavia where she was laying on the couch. “Or do you actually need some help?” she asked, noting the cast.
“For you, gorgeous? Both.”
“Oi.” Clarke stepped in between them, blocking their line of sight. “No. No flirting. No.”
“Aww but Cla-arke-” Octavia whined, pouting, and her friend just dropped her hands heavily onto her hips and frowned sternly at her.
“You’re no fun, Clarke.” Raven limped her way to the end of the couch, and waved Octavia up, taking a hold of her arm and examining it to see how much space there was between skin and cast. “I can work with that,” she said, pulling her bag open and searching through it. “You guys got a spare fork?”
“Great, get it for me.” In a matter of moments, Raven had cobbled together some kind of ‘ultra scratching device’ as she called it - Clarke didn’t want to be the one to point out that it was really just a fork bound with wire to another piece of metal Raven happened to have (Clarke was fairly sure that whole bag was just varying pieces of scrap metal, which, okay, to each their own) to make it longer. Clarke just rolled her eyes. “Genius,” Raven proudly pronounced, testing it quickly to make sure that the connection wouldn’t come undone and leave the fork inside the cast before she handed it over. “Give it a go, hot stuff.”
“Hot stuff, huh?” Octavia raised her eyebrows at Clarke. “You bring home the most wonderful people,” she praised her best friend. She knew full well that Raven was needlessly flattering her. She’d had about half a shower since she’d come back to their home (they still couldn’t quite figure out how to properly cover her arm so they’d been winging the whole washing process) and her hair was a disgrace, but she liked the way Raven winked at her. “By the way, do I know you?” She took the scratcher and eased it into the space and groaned long and deep, throwing her head back as it dragged over her itchy skin. “Who cares? I want to know you. Intimately,” she moaned. “This is the best thing I’ve ever felt in my life.”
“Contain yourself, Octavia,” Clarke said, rolling her eyes again. “I swear, she’s not always like this. Sometimes she even remembers that she has a boyfriend she loves very much, when she isn’t being wooed by a mech major.”
Raven shrugged. “Hey, I can’t help it. I’m good with my hands.”
“Clarke, Clarke,” Octavia sighed, “I’m in heaven.”
“You’re in our dorm.”
“Right.” Octavia frowned, pulled the scratcher out of her cast. “Now that I’m not deliriously in love with you, I swear I know you.”
“Raven Reyes.” She held out her hand for Octavia to shake.
“This is Lexa’s roommate,” Clarke told the frowning Octavia, knowing that her brain was sluggishly trying to put the information together. Plus, Octavia hadn’t examined all the photos Lexa had sent as closely as Clarke had so it wasn’t a surprise that she didn’t immediately place her.
“Lexa, your,” she paused for a moment, carefully avoiding look at Raven “friend?”
“That’s the one.”
“Lexa goes to uni here? With us?” Octavia continued.
Octavia hummed. Pushed herself up further so she was sitting cross-legged. “Are you going to meet?”
“I don’t know.” Clarke ran her hands through her hair. Re-did her ponytail. “I mean, she already knows that I go here so if she wanted to meet then she would have said something, right?” Octavia shrugged. They turned to Raven. “Right?”
“Uh, okay, I might be her roommate but that doesn’t mean I understand a lick of what’s going on in her head. If I had to guess,” she said, “Lexa’s kind of private. Also, she likes things to be perfect. I don’t know - maybe she’s waiting for the right time?”
Clarke wanted to kick herself over the pathetic little flutter her heart started when she thought about Lexa thinking about her - had she worried about them meeting? Had she thought of a way to make it happen?
“Clarke.” Octavia threw a magazine over at her, jerking her out of her thoughts when it hit her knee. “Stop daydreaming, Clarke.”
“I wasn’t, I was just - okay whatever. So I should just text her, right? Ask her if she wants to get coffee?”
“Whoa whoa whoa no!” Octavia looked frantically between the two of them. “Are you kidding me? This has all the makings of a truly excellent meet-cute!”
“I’m sorry?” Clarke blinked at Octavia. Raven looked equally bemused, just shrugging at Clarke.
“Meet cute! That cute way that people meet for the first time and they fall in love and-”
“Slow down, O. I don’t even know that she likes me. Or that I like her. I mean I like her, but I don’t know that I like like her because we’ve only been texting and she’s probably not even a lesbian so.” Clarke crossed her arms.
“Don’t know. Like I said, Lexa’s private. But she does get an incredibly goofy smile when you text her and if you tell her I said that, I will disembowel you.”
“That being said, she’s smart and pretty cool. If you like her, it’s worth a shot.”
“Great!” Octavia bounced a little in place. “So we’re agreed!” She grabbed her phone and clumsily typed out a message. “Done!”
“The first step towards your happy ever after, of course. We’re having a party.”
“And my prince is going to turn up? Also I didn’t agree to that,” she said, Octavia ignoring it happily.
“More like your princess,” Octavia said. “Because Raven,” she prodded her newest friend happily in the shoulder, “is invited and she’s going to bring a plus one. Aren’t you?”
“Just checking, my plus one is my roommate, yeah?”
“No!” Clarke shook her head hard. “This is a terrible idea.”
“It’s a great idea. And,” she showed Clarke the messages flooding in, “it’s already done. Weare having a party this Friday Clarke and if I have to tie you to the body shot table to keep you here, you better believe that as your best friend I will do that.”
There were a few long moments, Octavia’s eyes wide and hopeful, before Clarke sighed. “It has been a while since I’ve been to a party,” she admitted. “And I do like body shots.”
“Really?” Raven sat up. “I had you pegged for the quiet wall flower at a party.” She didn’t take offence at the way Octavia laughed and laughed and laughed, just took it to mean that it couldn’t be further from the truth, and looked over Clarke with an appraising eye. “This could be a lot of fun,” she said slowly. “Save a body shot for me.”
Late that night, Raven stepped into her dorm. She couldn’t help the grin that crossed her face when she saw her roommate staring pathetically at her phone. Barely withheld a far-too-pleased chortle when Lexa groaned.
“Oh sorry, do you need some time to yourself or something?”
“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.
"Lexa?” Clarke took a half step into the crowd and honestly? She wasn’t surprised when there was suddenly a pair of very broad shoulders blocking her path. She was a little shocked when she was then doused with alcohol from a giggling and very drunk girl but, seeing that Lexa had literally fled instead of returning her smile or taking a step towards her or even looking like she was the slightest bit pleased to see her, she couldn’t bring herself to be actually surprised.
Her night was shit.
It had started shit, and she was pretty sure it was going to end shit. How could it not? Lexa had literally fled.
“Octavia?” She pushed through the crowd, searching frantically for her. “No not you, who are you?” she said, shoving past a boy who grabbed at her, laughing. “Octavia!” Clarke found her sitting on her boyfriend’s lap and grabbed her shoulders, breaking her away long enough to catch her attention - probably due to her wide eyes and unsteady breathing.
“Oh well hey there.” Octavia waggled her eyebrows. “Got lover girl in your room? Need some advice? I would say,” she pursed her lips thoughtfully, draped her arms happily around Lincoln’s neck, “start off slow - you two must be into that since you’ve been flirting heavy over text and-”
“No, Octavia, you don’t, that’s not what this is.” Clarke’s hands shook when she pulled away and Octavia pressed an ‘I’m sorry’ kiss to Lincoln’s cheek and turned sideways to face her. “Lexa ran away. She saw me and she,” Clarke grimaced, twirled her finger. “Fled. Do I go after her? Do I let her go? I don’t want to spook her, O, but I mean does it say something about me that she literally ran out the door?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Smile,” Octavia commanded her. Clarke reluctantly bared her teeth and Octavia checked her quickly. “Well you don’t have anything in your teeth. Maybe it was the way you licked up Ashley’s body like she was a popsicle and it was the middle of January?”
“Octavia! Not helpful!”
“Clarke,” Octavia sighed. Patted Lincoln to let go of her and she hopped up onto her feet. Took Clarke’s hands in hers, laid them on her cast and patted them gently with her free, uninjured hand. “Clarke,” she said again, pulling the blonde’s attention back to her, Clarke scouting the crowd. For Raven, perhaps. Or perhaps hoping that Lexa had changed her mind. Come back. “Clarke, what do you want to do?”
“I want…” Clarke sighed. “I want to talk to her.”
“Sure. That’s all you want to do.”
“O. Be serious.”
“I am,” she murmured, but then she nodded. “Go after her. And I’ll find Raven. Track your lover girl down and, if worst comes to worst and she’s run all the way back home because she saw your stunning face and freaked out for some unknown reason,”
“Alright, alright, enough with the pushing and the shoving,” she said, swatting away Clarke’s suddenly pushing and shoving hands. “That’s a terrible habit you have,” she commented, looking back over her shoulder at Clarke who was determinedly directing her toward the depths of their apartment where the mass of the people were. “Really, Clarke, I’ve got this. I’ll find her and Lincoln hasn’t had anything to drink so we’ll drop her off home.”
“Octavia,” Clarke said and she hugged her tight even though the smaller girl had started to complain. “Thank you.”
“Yeah yeah. Go get your girl.”
“Hey, did you see a girl come by? Like, five minutes ago?”
“Gonna need more than that, Clarke.” Her neighbour, more or less, from the ground floor (a man with a fondness for muscle shirts and backwards caps and sculpting), smiled at her and tilted the neck of his beer her way in a hello.
“Right. Umm, jeans, shirt, jacket, long curly hair, absolutely stunning in every way.”
“Oh, that girl. Yeah she went that-a-way.” He made a swooping motion with his hand, pointed down the road.
There was a taxi rank and a bus stop just down the road, she knew, and she jogged a little faster. Maybe Lexa would still be there. Maybe she would be waiting for her (okay, that was wishful thinking and she was big enough to admit that there was no possible way that Lexa could be certain that Clarke would follow her out).
She moved right past the taxi rank - there was no one there and Clarke closed her eyes, lifted her head to the sky. Hoped the bus stop turned out better. She couldn’t help the way she slowed right down as she approached it and she thought, perhaps, she was a little bit relieved when it was empty.
What would she have said to her anyway?
Why did you run?
Why didn’t you tell me we went to the same university?
Do you like me?
The timetable said the bus had come by only two minutes before. That, or Lexa had walked on down the street to whoever knew where and Clarke stared for a few moments into the spots of streetlights, trying to make out a moving shadow. But there was nothing and her arms started to prickle with the cool night air so she wrapped her arms around her stomach and walked back to her apartment.
“Didn’t find her?” he asked, still sitting outside the apartment.
“Sorry to hear that. Was it important?”
“I don’t know.” Clarke motioned to the empty seat next to him and he dusted it clean for her, smiling happily. “I think it might be. She might be.”
“Well. Got her number?”
“You should give her a call. But,” he tilted his head from side to side, thoughtful and teasing. “Maybe wait until tomorrow. Clear head and all.”
“You give excellent advice, Scott.” Clarke accepted the beer he handed her.
“Free of charge. Unless you happen to have five bucks on you?” He raised his eyebrows, shrugged when she shook her head no. “Ah well. Worth a shot.”
“Morning.” Raven barely gave Lexa enough warning to shift to the side before she was dropping onto the bed next to her and taking up an unnecessary amount of space, stretching out her leg and pulling one of Lexa’s pillows comfortably into her side. “Hey, nice.” She squeezed the pillow, fluffed it a little. “Where did you get this? Mine feels like a piece of cardboard.”
Lexa had been going over this moment - or a moment like it - since late the night before when she had been pressed against the brick wall, breath coming a little too fast, and seeing Clarke run to the bus stop after her.
Raven knew that it had been Clarke’s party and she had taken her anyway and what, had she meant to humiliate her? Lexa clenched her jaw and rolled away from Raven, picking herself up and sliding off the end of the bed. She snatched up her clothes.
“Clarke told me you ran away.”
“Clarke,” Lexa snapped, wheeling around on her, “shouldn’t - she, you should have told me.”
“Lexa,” Raven laughed, “It’s fine.”
“It isn’t! You should have told me!” she repeated, louder, and Raven cocked her head to the side, eyes curious. “You should have told me,” she said once more, softly, looking down at the clothes in her hands because she didn’t want, she didn’t want to see Raven looking at her like that.
Lexa just shrugged, disappeared into their shared bathroom.
She wouldn’t confront Raven about it again, she decided as she scrubbed hard at her hair. She wouldn’t bring it up. Raven had dragged her to the party and Lexa was sure it hadn’t been a direct effort to humiliate her - Raven teased, sure, but she didn’t seem malicious - so she was inclined to forget that it had ever happened.
The first step was to finish her shower, dress again like she was supposed to dress, and redirect herself firmly onto the path she needed to follow. No leather jackets and no ridiculous attempts at…being someone that she wasn’t.
The second step was deleting Clarke’s number. She had wasted far too much time and energy on that. It was distracting her from her study. She was. With her jokes and pictures and her everything. So she had to put an end to that, no matter how much it felt like there was a hand clamping down on her lungs at the idea and she had to press her head against the cold tiles of the shower because she didn’t feel strong, she felt like an idiot, she felt stupid and small and-
“I’ll be out soon,” she said, an edge to her voice. “Just give me a minute.”
“No, I, it’s not that.” Raven actually sounded nervous. “You know I wasn’t trying to be mean. Right?” Lexa pushed her cheek against the tile. Sighed. “There’s probably a better time for me to talk to you, like when you aren’t showering. I get it if you don’t want to talk but…okay I’m getting breakfast now. If you’re here when I get back, we can talk. If not, that’s totally cool as well.” There was a faint rapping on the door, not a knock, just an acknowledgement, Lexa supposed, and then she heard their door open and close.
She was out of the shower two minutes later, dressed quickly and bag packed for a full day at the library. Her phone - still off, had been since she had received the second text from Clarke last night following the whole debacle - she slipped into a pocket of her bag and then she stood, hand on the doorknob, until she heard Raven’s distinctive gait coming back up the hallway.
“Oh hey.” Raven blinked at her when the door opened into the room and into Lexa. “You’re kind of in the way.”
“Sorry.” Lexa stepped to the side. Looked longingly out into the hall. It would be easy to step out and then…never think about any of this ever again.
She closed the door. Helped Raven pull the breakfast food up onto the counter and found some clean dishes - most of them were sitting in the sink, not dirty but not clean either, all courtesy of Raven and her late night snacking.
“We need to get this shit out of the way,” Raven said as she divided the stack of pancakes between them. “I met Clarke when I modelled for her class the other day,” she explained quickly. “She recognised me, we got to talking, she realised that we all go to the same uni, she wanted to meet you.” Raven pushed Lexa’s plate over to her. “We weren’t, she said you already knew. I didn’t think that you’d freak out.”
“I didn’t freak out,” Lexa denied.
“You kinda did.”
“I did not.”
“Maybe you did. Just a little? I mean, you saw her and sprinted. You freaked out.” Raven shrugged, held her hands up in surrender. “No big deal, everyone does it, it’s cool.”
“I didn’t freak out,” Lexa said again. She pushed her pancakes around on the plate for a moment. “I just…didn’t expect it.”
“So a surprise birthday party is not a good idea?”
Lexa was impressed, just a little, that Raven didn’t quail under the force of her glare. “No.”
They ate in silence for a few minutes before Lexa sighed. “I’m afraid I’ve made a very bad first impression.”
“Eh.” Raven’s shrug was lazy. “I’ve seen worse. Totally salvageable. Unless, like, you’ve deleted her number and decided to be super mean to her then you can totally fix this. Not,” she continued, “that it’s all on you. We probably should’ve been upfront about the whole thing. Sorry or whatever.”
“Your sincerity is astounding.”
“I’m sincere! It just makes me uncomfortable.”
“I see.” Lexa allowed Raven to sneak a pancake off her plate, still feeling too tight to breathe, let alone eat. “You truly think it’s salvageable?”
“Totally. Here, want me to do it for you?” Raven held out her hand, took Lexa’s phone and clicked it on with a quirked eyebrow at that. “You know you can’t talk to her if you can’t even get her messages, right?”
“Alright. Just checking.” Raven skimmed through the messages. “Let’s see - Lexa why did you run, Lexa you looked nice, Lexa I wish you had stayed, Lexa sorry for springing it on you, Lexa it wasn’t any fun after you left, blah blah blah,” she scrolled down to the end of the messages. “Clarke,” she started, “sorry for running?” she suggested. Lexa bobbed her head in a hesitant nod. “I didn’t expect to see you.”
“And I dealt with that in a less than exemplary fashion,” Lexa continued. Raven kept her face blank - wasn’t what she would personally right but it was very Lexa so she typed it in obediently.
“Are you free today?” Raven looked up and Lexa nodded.
“Okay, how about, I have the afternoon free. Could we meet?”
Lexa bit down on her lip. Pushed her fork through the syrup on her plate. “I made an idiot of myself,” she said quietly. “How am I supposed to face her after that?”
“Nah. You’re fine. It’s our fault anyway. It was a total dick move to spring it on you like that.” She raised her hand, pointed to her face. “I take full blame for that, by the way. Clarke was fully against it but, well, let’s be real - I get my way a lot.” Raven finished her message and turned the phone around to face Lexa. “Okay. How’s that?”
Clarke, I’m sorry for leaving last night. I didn’t expect to see you and I dealt with that in a less than exemplary fashion. I’m free this afternoon if you would like to meet. Carbon Cafe, 2pm?
Lexa hesitated. Then tapped send.
Octavia wasn’t sure exactly what she was looking at - it looked like Clarke and smelled like Clarke and, when she tentatively poked her, it felt like Clarke. But it wasn’t acting like Clarke. She was frozen at the door of the cafe and, when Lexa looked up and lifted her hand in hello, she wheezed a little.
“How you doing there, Clarke?”
Clarke gulped, turned slightly to give her friends a double thumbs up.
“Mhm. Okay, sure. Clarke?” Octavia grabbed her shoulders and tugged her to the side, smiling cheerily at the girls who sidled past. “What’s happening with your face?”
“Yeah, that’s not a smile.”
“It is.” Clarke bared her teeth again. “It isn’t. What am I doing?”
“Colloquially, I think it’s called panicking.” Octavia sat herself down on the bench and looked for the ultimate scratcher in her bag. She groaned when it scratched at thatone place that had been bugging her all freaking day. “Oh my god, amazing. This is beautiful.” She blinked. “What was I saying?”
“You were giving me advice about the disaster I’m walking myself into.”
“Oh right. Yeah, it’ll be fine.”
“Fine? O, she ran away from me.” Clarke dropped onto the bench next to Octavia, and sighed.
“And yet here she is. That’s something.” Octavia peeked through the blinds, waved at Lexa again, who cocked her head slightly to the side. “She’s maybe a little anxious. She’s tearing her napkin.”
“Oh god. That’s bad. That’s bad, isn’t it?”
“Well it might be nice if you went to talk to her.” Octavia gasped a little before she patted Clarke’s knee. “Oh, got to go! See you.” She jumped up and more or less sprinted away, sneaking back to pick up her bag. “Have fun,” she murmured, kissing Clarke quickly on her temple. “Be good, be safe, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“What? Where are yo- oh.” Clarke looked up, only to come face to face with Lexa. “Hi. Hey. Lexa.” Clarke jumped to her feet. “Hi.”
“Hello.” Lexa gripped tight to her bag. “Clarke,” she added, hesitant but very much enjoying the chance to say her name, in person, to her. It was heady, in a way, and Lexa wondered if it would be strange to sit next to her.
“That’s me. Hi.”
“I think we’ve sufficiently exchanged hello’s, Clarke.” She really did like to say her name. Lexa looked away, down at her shoes. “I understand if you don’t want to come in or meet with me,” she said, gesturing to Clarke and her bench, very much outside the cafe, “but I would appreciate it if you would give me the chance to apologise. May I buy you a coffee?”
Clarke bit her lip. Lexa looked kind of adorable. And in all the photos they had exchanged, she might have gone with hot or beautiful or a little very much intimidating. Last night, she would have gone with spectacular and fleeting. But today? Standing in front of her in sensible pants and a button up shirt, hands tight on her bag, hair in a perfect braid, Lexa looked adorable and unsure and Clarke knew what she wanted.
“Sure. As long as you don’t apologise.”
“Look, Lexa,” Clarke had to laugh over the seventh time the other girl started to apologise. “It wasn’t cool of us to spring the party on you, and maybe you should have told me earlier like when you first figured it out, that we go to the same school. But we know now and we’re having coffee together - how cool is that? I mean think about it.” Clarke grinned over at her and Lexa blinked quickly, returning her own gaze to her coffee. “I start texting a random person in a bathroom stall and instead of being gross or creepy, it’s you. And you’re also very close by and kind of awesome. What are the odds?”
“Considering you found my number in a stall, quite low I should think.” Lexa smiled carefully at the blonde. “I didn’t want our first meeting to be because I turned up at the hospital. That was when I knew,” she clarified.
“Right, Octavia’s uniform. Of course.”
“Precisely. I thought it might be too much. And I wanted our meeting to be…”
“Well no. That would be improbable.”
“I don’t know. This is pretty nice.” Clarke gestured between them and then around them at the light filled cafe, the student fast asleep on his stack of chemistry textbooks, the barista with the most incredible monotone. “But were you thinking about us meeting a lot?”
“Yes. It was rather distracting actually. I thought about talking to you very often and I had to study so - why are you looking at me like that?” Clarke just shrugged, knowing that Lexa had no idea she had been unintentionally very sweet. “Well.”
“This has been acceptable then?”
“More than. Is that why you ran, last night? You wanted a plan?”
“I was surprised.” Clarke just nodded at the answer. Lexa drew a quick tree in the condensation of her water bottle. “I have everything planned out. Things happen according to the schedule and,” she frowned over at Clarke, “you didn’t.”
“I’m not certain it was a compliment,” Lexa said, raising her eyebrows, but Clarke just grinned. Shrugged.
“I’ll take it like one. That’s very sweet of you.”
“You are very welcome, then.”
Clarke tilted her head a little to the side, lips pursed. Her brows pulled together to push a small and thoughtful line between them. “Are you always this formal? You weren’t when we were texting, that’s all,” she said, not wanting Lexa to be offended. But the other girl hadn’t once slipped from perfect posture and she didn’t exactly talk like everyone else. Which Clarke didn’t mind. She thought it was endearing. But she wasn’t sure that Lexa was entirely comfortable. Which is what she wanted because she had seen, just for a moment she had been sure of it, she had seen last night a sliver of a smile and she wanted to see it again.
“No.” Lexa shook her head. “I confess, I wanted to make a good first impression. Or…” she counted in her head. “Third impression, technically.”
“Why’s that?” Clarke leaned forward over the table a little. Her grin all too wide, all too inviting, her eyes too bright and lovely. Lexa couldn’t help but smile back.
“Because I like you,” she said quietly.
There were other ways to say it. Enjoy your company. Enjoy having a friend. I like this time we have spent together. But none of them felt so fitting as the simple ‘I like you’, though it did mean that Lexa felt the overwhelming urge to turn away, let her eyes linger on the bust of some scientist with an unfortunate name, because all of that would be better than seeing Clarke laughing at her.
(That couldn’t be further from the truth.)
Clarke had frozen, smile in place. Which was strange, given that a wild and rather intense warmth was spreading through her and she felt a little bit like she should be singing, which was new. Also, she couldn’t control the very goofy smile she felt replace her normal smile.
But Lexa looked uncomfortable after the proclamation and Clarke knew that wouldn’t do at all.
“I like you too,” she said simply. Which didn’t have to mean anything more than friendship, of course. God, why did Lexa have to have the most incredible jawline and beautiful hair and intense, intense green eyes? “Do you want another coffee?” she said, clearing her throat. “I’m going to get one and maybe a cake. You never did tell me about the other classes you were taking and now is as good a time as any, right?”
Lexa lifted her eyebrows, surprised. “I, yeah.” She bit her tongue in reprimand. Polite, Lexa. “Yes. A mocha, please,” she told her, searching for a bill, but Clarke waved her away.
“I got this. You can get it next time if you want.”
“Sure. If you want.”
“I do! I would like that,” Lexa said quickly. “Yes.”
“Okay. Cool.” Clarke tapped the table, gave Lexa a shy smile. “I’ll be right back.”
Lexa dragged a hand over her curls, relaxed very slightly back into her chair. Her phone buzzed in her pocket and she sighed at the message.
got company 2night. u might want 2 be late
Raven. Lexa sighed again. Of course.
“Everything alright?” Clarke asked, slipped back into her chair.
“Yes, yes of course. Raven has just made it known that I have plenty of time to stay out of our dorm this evening.”
Clarke opened her mouth, delighted. Then she closed it again. After a moment, she made to speak but she shook her head and finally Lexa had to break, smiling.
“What is it?”
“Nothing! Well, if you don’t have anywhere to go, O and I have a spare room or a very comfortable couch and you can stay with us?”
“That’s awfully forward of you, Clarke,” Lexa teased.
“Not at all. Forward would be saying that you could sleep in my bed and also letting you know that I have a lock on my door and no classes tomorrow so we could make a night of it.” Clarke smiled again at the waitress who intruded, accepting her coffee with a thank you. “That,” she said, coming back into the conversation, “would be forward.”
“Yes,” Lexa said with a slightly strangled voice. “I suppose it would be.”
“Octavia, put some pants on, we’ve got a guest,” Clarke called out as they walked through the door that evening
“Nope, don’t want to.” Octavia leaned back over the arm of the couch carefully, doing her best not to slosh her cereal out of its bowl. “Oh, hey Lexa.”
Lexa bobbed her head. Watched Clarke kick off her shoes around the corner, where several other pairs waited, and she neatly did the same. Though, Clarke just pressed her toes against the heels of her shoes and literally kicked them off, Lexa knelt and undid her laces, slipping them off and placing them neatly next to the pile. “Hello, Octavia,” she said, looking up from the rather stubborn knots, “it’s nice to see you again.”
“Of course it is.” She seemed to shrug, swore a little at the cold milk that splashed from the movement. “Gross. Anyway, colour me impressed Clarkey-”
“Don’t call me that.”
“- you work fast. I didn’t think you had it in you.”
“Do I need to put headphones in tonight? Do I need to call a date of my own? Do I need to get Raven over here for a double date? Do I need-?”
Clarke tutted, moving to Octavia’s side and moving her laptop from her lap to the coffee table. “What you need to do is stop irradiating your body. Okay?”
“Yes mum.” Octavia rolled her eyes at Clarke’s back - the blonde disappeared into her room, from the sounds of it she dumped her bag - and rolled completely off the couch, hand extended to hold her cereal steady. She padded, shirt underwear and socked, around to the kitchen and Lexa held her gaze steady on the ceiling.
“Also, you should know that Raven is otherwise occupied tonight,” Lexa told Octavia quietly. “In case you were in fact serious about asking her on a date.”
“Nah, she’s not my type.” She swung the fridge open, hung off it.
“No?” Lexa peered down at her hands next. “Female?”
“Mm.” Octavia shook her head, looked back over her shoulder away from the welcoming dim light of the fridge. “Loud. I have a bit of a thing for the strong, silent types. Speaking of,” she raked her gaze over Lexa, winked. “How you doin?”
“Octavia,” Clarke said warningly, lowly, walking into the kitchen to search the fridge.
“Hey, it’s alright.” Octavia made room for Clarke, wrapping her non-broken arm around her waist. “You know you’re the only girl for me.”
Clarke made a pleased sound - or possibly a laugh, Lexa couldn’t tell - and she only moved away when Octavia started pressing kisses to her shoulder. “Ew, ew gross Octavia, stop it.”
“I love you dearly, Clarke,” she said, somber. “Never forget that.”
“You disgust me greatly, Octavia,” Clarke mimicked. “Never forget that.”
“You say,” she said, pretending to sob, “the sweetest things.”
Lexa wondered when they would remember her. The scene felt rather like something that had happened many times before and the way Clarke’s eyes widened when she saw Lexa, standing very still by the kitchen counter, only confirmed that they had forgotten her.
“I’m fine, thank you.”
“Bullshit. I can hear your stomach from here.” Octavia opened the fridge door a little wider, scoffed when it began to beep its distress for having been open for so long. She slammed it shut, waited five seconds, and opened it again. “What do you like?”
When Clarke smiled at her - and she had changed into shorts and a white tank top so she looked positively angelic and there was something very strange going on in Lexa’s lungs that meant they seized every time she looked Clarke’s way - Lexa thought it might be best if she concentrated on something other than her new friend.
“Do you have anything other than take out?”
“For sure. Cereal, some fruit stuff, vegetables. A pantry of stuff.” Octavia waved her hand. “It’s a kitchen.”
“Do you ever eat anything other than takeout?” Lexa asked, because Octavia was looking at one of their utensils with a confused expression. (It was a can opener.)
“Not really,” Clarke answered for them.
Lexa thought it best if she searched in the pantry rather than look at Clarke. She was quite fond of breathing. “Would it be amenable if I cooked for you tonight? It’s the least I can do,” she told them, exiting with a number of ingredients.
“Sure!” Octavia sock-surfed out of the kitchen, CLarke catching her.
“Please, O, don’t break your other arm.”
The smaller girl just pushed into the space between Clarke and the counter, which wasn’t very much to be honest, and wrapped both arms around her waist. “For you, I will try.”
Lexa didn’t like the twist in her gut. She set out her pots and pans, and the ingredients. “Are you allergic to anything?” she asked, voice mild.
“No. Oh, Clarke is allergic to shellfish.”
“And Octavia doesn’t like cinnamon.”
Lexa ignored the bigger twist in her stomach when they answered for each other and just frowned down at the counter. “Alright. How does a chicken pesto pasta sound?”
“Amazing,” the girls chorused, wide-eyed.
“You can really make that?”
“Of course. Would you like to learn?” she asked Octavia, who nodded quickly. “You should put pants on first,” and then Octavia was gone, stumbling - yelling an ‘I’m good’ back because Clarke was up and out of her seat at the noise, worried that she’d broken something else - and back in the blink of an eye with pants in hand. “Put them on,” Lexa repeated.
“This is a first,” Octavia mumbled. “A hot girl telling me to put my clothes on.” She winked at Clarke and grinned when she laughed, grin growing when she saw the small smile on Lexa’s face too. “Alright. What’s first?”
“Clarke, would you care to learn?”
“I’m good watching,” she told Lexa. “Besides, someone has to be on hand with the first aid kit if it all goes horribly, horribly wrong.” As one, they all reached out and rapped their knuckles on the wood counter.
“As much as I would love to stay and eat with you,” Octavia said, honestly and sincerely sounding as though she would love to do exactly that, “I have to go.” She wiped her hands on the spare tea towel, checking her watch.
“What?” Clarke sat bolt upright at that. It might have been the first thing Octavia had said that she actually listened to in about half an hour - she was far more interested in watching Lexa move around the kitchen like she owned the place, chopping and dicing and stirring, having stripped off her jacket so she was down to her shirt (it was a button up but Clarke had an artist’s mind and used her imagination to fill in the blanks where arm muscles and collarbones would be) with the tea towel slung over her shoulder and wielding with impeccable control a wooden spoon coated in the red of the tomatoes she had decided to throw in - for flavour, for colour, nothing bad about a tomato, she had told them. “Where are you going?”
“Out with Lincoln.” She pressed a kiss to Clarke’s cheek, scooped up her jacket.
Clarke, kneeling on the kitchen stool, pushed at the counter to spin her chair around, following Octavia with her eyes. Her wide, pleading eyes. She had been relying on Octavia to be the vibrant, awesome social buffer that she was. What if she screwed this up? What if when Octavia left, there was an awkward pause that lasted all night?
I need you, Clarke mouthed, sweat already prickling on her skin. It was going to end badly. She knew it. Disaster zone.
You’ll be great, Octavia mouthed back, eyes darting to Lexa to make sure she still had her back to them. Smile, she continued, with a thumbs up. When Clarke playfully bared her teeth in a broad grimace, Octavia pushed her thumb down and shook her head.
“Who is Lincoln?” Lexa asked, looking up from their dinner.
“My boyfriend.” Neither of them noticed Lexa’s frown, the way she blinked a few times in a row before she shook her head, very slightly, and returned to her cooking. “Anyway, Clarke, remember-”
“Toilet paper, I know.”
“Your magazine comes out tomorrow.”
“If they have any, I will pick it up but I make no promises. You know my last class is busy.”
“And sometimes you don’t want to swing by the corner store. I know. But you know that I will love you forever if you would grab me some?” Clarke huffed, blew a clump of hair away from her face. Nodded. Octavia squealed a little and hugged her. “Okay, love you, got to go.”
Clarke refrained from running to her and begging for her to stay. She sucked in a breath and nodded. “Alright. Have fun. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“Which is it?’ Octavia asked, already at the door, stopped for just a moment. One last jibe at Clarke’s expense. Totally worth it. “Either I have fun, or I don’t.”
“Oh har har. I hope Lincoln ignores you all night and makes out with your brother.”
“Eh, pretty sure it’s happened before,” Octavia shrugged. “We have the same devastatingly rugged jawline and sometimes Lincoln gets a little fuzzy when he’s been drinking. Well,” she wiggled her fingers in a cheery wave, “have a great night.”
“Text me when you get there!” Clarke shouted to the closing door, straining her ears to make sure Octavia grunted in the affirmative. Clarke sighed and swung in small, awkward jerks on the chair, spinning back to face the kitchen and Lexa. “I worry,” she said, spreading her hand in a supplicant gesture, asking Lexa to understand (and not to think that her actions were due to the laughable idea that Clarke was, for instance, nervous).
Lexa just said a quiet, “mm” and continued to prepare their meal.
It was happening, Clarke realised. The awkward pause was descending upon them.
“So. Where did you learn to cook?”
“It became necessary,” Lexa said. “Raven is actually pretty awful at cooking and I don’t want to contract scurvy so I taught myself.”
“Not really.” Lexa offered her a small smile, almost cheeky. “I pick pretty simple dishes. No more than ten ingredients.” She wiped her hands on her towel and shrugged. “Raven is still alive though, so that’s something. I think she was about a week away from some kind of nutrition deficiency disorder until I came around.”
“A saviour,” Clarke sighed, fluttering her eyelashes. “How brave.”
Neither of them were expecting Lexa to snort with laughter, least of all Lexa who raised her hand, wide-eyed, to cover her nose. Clarke bit down hard on her lip to stop herself from laughing, but the giggles snuck out. Lexa recovered, snapping the towel in Clarke’s direction, before she shook her head sternly. “Bowls?”
“Top right cupboard, no, not that one. Here, let me.” Clarke slid off her chair, stepped around, and came up behind Lexa. “This one.” She placed a hand on Lexa’s shoulder, pushing up onto her toes, and opened the cupboard, pulling out two bowls for them.
Lexa held her breath. Clarke didn’t notice, of course, of course she wouldn’t notice (she did, she very much did) but they were touching at the shoulder and Clarke’s thigh was against the outside of Lexa’s thigh and when she dropped down to flat feet with the bowls in hand and a triumphant smile, Lexa could have sworn that she moved forward just a touch, and that her eyes drifted down to Lexa’s lips.
Wishful thinking. Silly thinking.
“Thank you,” Lexa said, moving away.
“Sure. It,” Clarke shook her head, reminded herself to behave, to not freak Lexa out, that she was being inappropriate. “It looks great, Lexa.”
“It tastes even better.” Lexa served out their portions with a sharp eye and, Clarke noticed, the very tip of her tongue poking out from between her lips. Hardly noticeable, incredibly adorable. “Let’s eat.”
“And that is why I firmly believe that children should never be allowed to play with Lego without adult supervision.”
“I don’t think the majority of children are quite so malicious as that, Clarke,” Lexa began, but trailed away when the blonde set her face stubbornly. Clearly she refused to listen to reason about the topic and Lexa let it slide. “I actually have a question for you,” Lexa started very carefully, a few moments after Clarke’s tirade drew to a close.
She nodded, smiled. “Sure, shoot.”
“Octavia,” Lexa said. “Is she your, are you two,” Lexa pursed her lips - be concise and clear, Lexa, she reprimanded herself - “Is she your girlfriend?”
The first time Clarke had been asked that, she had scoffed. Loudly. Octavia? Her girlfriend? Nothing could be further from the truth. After the twentieth time, they realised that there were aspects of their relationship that were somewhat associated with dating and Clarke was used to it.
“No,” she said, grinning. “She’s my best friend.”
“I see.” Lexa nodded. “You two are very close.”
“That’s what happens when you meet on the first day of high school.” Lexa thought of all the people she had met in her first year of high school and started to disagree, only to stop. Clarke had continued, “and she kisses you full on the mouth before you even know each others names because the whole point of the drama lesson was to shock someone.” Clarke shrugged. “We got an A and she was my best friend ever since.”
“That is peculiar.”
“That’s Octavia.” Clarke grinned, shrugged. “Why do you ask?”
“I just,” Lexa flushed, concentrated on collecting the pasta on her fork. “Curious.”
“Right. Well,” Clarke shrugged, “she’s taken I’m afraid. Lincoln is her boyfriend. They’ve been going steady for three years now. It’s gross,” she said with an affectionate smile. “What about you?”
“Oh no. Unaccounted for.” Lexa swallowed. “And yourself?”
“Single. Very single.” Their eyes met and Clarke smiled, just a little. It was enough to prompt one in return from Lexa and they sat there until Clarke’s phone buzzed from the couch. “That’ll be Octavia,” she said, not pulling her eyes away from Lexa.
“You should get it.”
“She’ll be fine,” Clarke said, ignoring it. “I’d much rather hear more about that bus ride you were talking about. I believe you called it the trip from hell?” She laughed when Lexa’s face dragged down with disgust, just a touch, and she nodded invitingly. “Tell me,” she insisted. “Please?”
“You’re lucky you’re cute,” Lexa grumbled and Clarke bit her tongue because, again, Lexa had been unthinkingly adorable and she didn’t want to point it out in case she never did it again. “Alright. Let’s see. Well, I should start by pointing out that it was a summer trip so it was stinking hot,” she began and Clarke rested her chin on her hand, elbow propped up on the table, and nodded for her to continue.
She was in deep.
She really liked Lexa and she thought, perhaps, Lexa liked her too.
But she couldn’t push, she couldn’t be certain so she didn’t dare push because things like that didn’t work in her favour, they never had, and this was something that Clarke really, really, really, really didn’t want to mess up.
He was weighing on her mind and she wanted nothing more than to just forget about him. Easier said than done, though. Perhaps it would have been easier if she had known that opposite her, Lexa was doing her best to pull back, that she was in too deep. She had to remember to look away from Clarke occasionally, a little voice reminding her that too much eye-contact was creepy, too little perhaps even more creepy, and that She was weighing on Lexa’s mind and she wanted nothing more than to just forget about her.
“The air conditioning was broken,” Lexa continued, “and I was seated next to Jenny Walker.” She threw herself into the story, and hoped that it would be enough to distract her from Clarke’s very blue eyes and very lovely smile.
“Hey babe,” Clarke answered her phone, smiling up at the ceiling as she took a break from her work and stretched, glad that she had called her. “What’s up?”
“Not much, just wanted to hear your voice.” Clarke could hear the smile in her voice, even with her phone’s speaker acting up as much as it was and making the voice that little bit crackly, and she made a small adoring sound much like she did every time she saw a particularly adorable dog (that is, every dog). “How are you? How’s your study going?”
“Not bad, not bad.” She looked down at her book, flipped through the pages she had managed to read and looked at the far more impressive number of pages she had yet to read. She shrugged, though they couldn’t see her, and smiled again. “Better now that you’re talking to me.”
“You are so disgustingly sweet, Clarke,” she said, making the blonde laugh softly, very much aware that she was in the library and not wanting to disturb anyone. “Is it okay if I pop by for a few minutes? There is something that I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Yeah of course!” Clarke checked her watch. “How far away are you? I can meet you for coffee, maybe.”
“Oh no, it’s okay, stay where you are. I know you have an exam coming up and I have class in twenty minutes anyway.”
“Okay. See you soon?”
“See you soon,” she confirmed warmly. “I love you.”
“Love you too, O.”
Clarke laid her phone gently, happily, down on top of her small stack of books in the Yet To Read pile and hummed to herself happily. She read for a few moments more before her study companion cleared her throat. Lexa was watching her curiously and Clarke cocked her head slightly.
Lexa shook her head. “Nothing.”
“Do I have something in my teeth?” Clarke grabbed her phone to check but Lexa shook her head.
“That’s not why - oh, yes you do. A sprinkle.” She drew back her own lips, pointed to the left of her front teeth and nodded when Clarke showed her again, having sucked the sprinkle away. “You’re good now.”
“Thanks. I love donuts,” she said, “but honestly I could walk around with sprinkles in my teeth all day and no one would tell me.” Clarke sighed. Lost herself in a daydream of donuts. “Anyway, you said that’s not why…?” she trailed off, raised her eyebrows for Lexa to fill in the blank.
“Oh. It’s just,” she tapped the end of her pen on her page, “you and Octavia are very close.”
“What do you mean?”
“You sound like you are dating.”
“No we don’t,” Clarke laughed. Lexa just pursed her lips, fighting a smile, because she thought that Clarke honestly might not hear how she spoke to Octavia. “Do we?”
“A little.” Lexa shrugged.
“She’d make a good girlfriend,” Clarke said thoughtfully, returning to her book, and Lexa found herself floundering again because the hints so far had all added up to the fact that Clarke would date a girl, but she didn’t know for sure.
And Lexa very much liked to be certain about things.
She let the topic fade away, immersed herself in her own book, and only came out again once when Clarke asked her if she could borrow her highlighter and once when Octavia dropped loudly into the seat next to Clarke and threw her arms around her neck.
“Hey babe,” she said. “So-”
“Shhh,” came the angry voices scattered around the room, dozens of pairs of eyes locked on the noisy intruder. And in her running shoes and grass-stained, mud-stained gear, Octavia certainly looked like an intruder in the clean library.
“Octavia,” Clarke hissed quietly, “what the hell do you think you’re doing? Have you been training? Your arm is broken.”
“Yeah but my legs are fine,” she returned quickly. “Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about-”
“You’d better believe that we’ll be talking about it when I get home tonight-”
“Clarke,” she said sternly, tone firm enough that the blonde simply shot her a disappointed look but ended her tirade before it could really begin. “I came to invite you two to my birthday party. As you know, well, as you know Clarke, it is coming up. Lexa,” she turned with a smile to face the girl, “my birthday is coming up next week.”
“Congratulations,” she said quietly.
“I have a question.” Clarke raised her hand. Octavia inclined her head regally, giving Clarke permission to speak. “Why are you inviting me to your party? I’m the one that organises them for you.”
“And you do such a wonderful job of it, my queen.”
“Ugh.” Clarke rolled her eyes. “Gross. Lincoln has been reading you poetry again, hasn’t he?”
“Yes he has and I will thank you to keep your unromantic nose out of my business,” Octavia sniffed. She burst into a smile again and clutched at Clarke’s arm. “So? Is that okay?”
“Is what okay?”
“For Lexa to join in on the festivities? Duh. This was my formal way of telling you to invite her.”
“You could have told me on the phone.”
“Yeah, but I wanted to see you,” Octavia said, eyes wide and adoring. She jumped up when she caught sight of the large clock on the wall, grabbed the strap of her bag and slung it over her shoulder only narrowly missing hitting a neighbours stack of books. “But anyway, I have to go to class. You two be good, no funny business in the bookshelves okay?” She kissed Clarke quickly on the cheek and waved at Lexa as she ran.
Her exit was punctuated by the relieved sighs of library goers.
Clarke just smiled and returned to her books. Lexa took more time to recover from the whirlwind experience that was Octavia.
“She is inviting me to her party?” Lexa asked Clarke after some time. “We only just met.”
“Yeah but she’s happy that I’m happy so she kind of loves it when you’re around. Plus, you’re smart and she thinks you’re cool.”
Lexa tapped her pen on her page for a moment. “You are happy when I’m around, Clarke?” she asked, smirking, because that was more or less what Clarke had managed to tell her and her smirk only grew when Clarke kicked her in the shin and pointed her back to her study.
“Shut up,” Clarke muttered, her cheeks dusted with red.
“Honestly,” Octavia sighed, flopping down onto her bed. “It’s disgusting.”
“I know, I know.”
“Like, okay the other night when you were off getting hot and heavy Clarke brought her home and do you know what they did?”
Raven paused. “While I hope that you’re about to say Clarke kicked you out and promptly tore off all of Lexa’s clothes and they had a wild night of passion, I get the feeling they did something like watch re-runs of Charmed and slept in separate beds.”
Octavia blinked up at her ceiling. “That was freaky. That’s exactly what happened.”
“I’m a god,” Raven told her casually, wiping her hand on her pants. “Hold on.” She lowered her phone to the desk and took a quick moment to twist that one fucking bolt, as she called it with a grunt, into place. “Okay I’m back. What were we talking about?”
“Your uncanny ability to know what is happening always.”
“Oh right, that,” Raven laughed. “No, sorry to disappoint, Lexa already told me in excruciating detail everything that happened. I was just fucking with you.”
“You’re a jerk.”
“Thanks, babe.” Raven made kissing noises into the phone and didn’t stop until Octavia laughed. “So why are you talking to me about this and not your better half?”
“Oh she’s out shopping for my birthday present and I don’t want to distract her. She gets into this headspace - it’s awesome, it’s like looking at another me. But she stole my favourite pants this morning and I wanted to wear them so now I don’t want to leave the house. Plus, I kind of hate her because she looks better in them than I do - no, it’s fine, it’s true,” she said when Raven tried to disagree. “Whatever, no big deal. Anyway, I think she pretends to be me and goes looking for things I would want. One year, she bought me a motorbike.”
“I know, right? She’s beautiful,” Octavia gushed. “1200 cc Harley. Rides like a dream.”
“Why didn’t I know about this?” Raven asked her in a strangled tone, hands twitching slightly with the incredible want that buffeted against and through her.
“I love. Please tell me she’s somewhere near by and I’ll get to put my hands all over her,” Raven said, almost begging.
“I’m not going to lie, I like where this is going and the images I’m coming up with are very, very hot. Are you free this afternoon?”
“I am now.” Raven made a note to text that boy she had lined up that she wasn’t going to make it. “Oh, yeah, what do you want for your birthday?”
“Boots. I’ll send you a link to the ones I want.”
“Done and done.” Raven started to pack up her tool kit, put Octavia on speaker. “By the way, what are we going to do about those two? I mean, if we leave them to it they are going to take fucking forever to get it together.”
“Clarke is usually pretty great about these things. Knows what she wants, totally understands when people are giving her the oh my god take me now right here on the table eyes,” Octavia denied. “But yeah. Not with Lexa.”
“No, she had a bit of a bad breakup. Slow to get back in the game.” Octavia would defend Clarke and her right to be cautious with her dying breath, there was the slightest edge to her tone even though she knew that Raven didn’t mean anything by her comment.
“Ouch.” Raven hissed sympathetically. “Okay. Fair enough. So what, we just leave them to it?” Her mouth twisted at the idea because honestly the two were disgusting to be around.
“No way. Horrible idea.”
“I know, I know. I’m just trying to be nice.”
“Don’t do that,” Octavia scolded her, making Raven snort a laugh. “No, I need you to be that annoying one that makes kissing faces at them whenever they are together while I be the sympathetic shoulder to lean on while they talk about how disgustingly in lesbians they are. Can you manage that?”
“Octavia, my love,” Raven said, voice low and sure and only mildly suggestive, “I would do anything for you.” She paused. “And your motorbike.”
“I’ll take it. Come over whenever you’re free. Also, I’m not wearing pants because Clarke stole them so don’t be surprised by that, okay?”
Lexa’s hand like it wasn’t part of her body anymore. She had to keep looking down at it to remind herself that yes that tingling hand belonged to her and yes it was being held in Clarke’s.
“Is this okay?” Clarke asked her quietly, swiping her thumb over the back of her hand to say, this, what we are doing, my hand and yours, this swooping unsettling totally amazing thing, and her smile, when Lexa looked up to catch it, was warm.
She wanted to chide herself - yes? That was all? She couldn’t have told Clarke that she was very much enjoying holding her hand, no that would have been odd, but she could have said - no, that would also have been odd. Still, she should have thought of something. What would Clarke think of her? So brusque and uninteresting, certainly.
She forgot, now and again, that they had been talking for a lot longer than they have been speaking and Clarke knew that Lexa was different.
She liked it.
She liked that Lexa answered questions with a certain yes or no.
She liked that there wasn’t pressure to talk but, when she did, Lexa listened to her with careful eyes like she was weighing everything and considering and her replies were always thoughtful.
She was different. Clarke swiped her thumb over Lexa’s hand again, enjoying just for a moment more the feel of smooth skin and the warmth, and then she changed her grip so she could tug Lexa in through the crowded mall.
“I think we’re done,” she said, gesturing with her other hand heavy with bags. “But we could...” She bit her lip, scanning the storefronts for an idea, darting over bike shops and clothing and toys and coming up with a massive lot of nothing.
It became rapidly obvious to both of them that Clarke was stalling.
Lexa couldn’t help stepping closer, their whole arms pressed together, and she thought, perhaps, just maybe that Clarke’s breath hitched. “Coffee?”
“Yeah.” Clarke turned her head toward Lexa, licked her lips. “There’s a good place just outside,” she continued, but didn’t move to leave.
They were so close, she could just make her brain understand. Lexa was pressed against her and her head was turning toward her as well and they were so close she was sure that if she just shifted a little, and she knew she would be welcome because Lexa was looking at her with darkening eyes and her lips softened from that thoughtful line and -
“Oops, sorry mate.” Clarke was jostled by a passing man, who barely looked up from his phone. She stumbled backward, Lexa’s hand tightening on hers and her other arm shooting out to curl around her, holding her steady.
“He should not have done that,” Lexa bit out.
“It’s fine, it’s fine.”
It wasn’t fine. As much as Clarke thought that Lexa saving her life - or, more probably, her pride - was worthy of a kiss, Lexa had stepped back as soon as she was stable and her cheeks had darkened just a fraction. The moment broken, Lexa retreated.
“Yes.” Lexa’s hand slipped out of hers and she gestured for Clarke to lead.
Clarke tried her best not to curl her hand into a fist, but it felt cold and empty and so she traded the plastic handles of her bags into her now Lexa-less hand and ignored the way it still didn’t feel right.
“We’ve got company,” Clarke called out as she jiggled open the door. “And you haven’t fixed the lock.”
“Oh yeah. Raven?”
“Raven’s here?” Clarke darted through the hall, smiling at the girl who groaned heavily as she lifted herself off the couch. “Hey!”
“Sup. What do you need my mechanical expertise with?”
“Oh, the lock. It’s been playing up and sticking and I don’t know, Octavia got locked out the other night when her key didn’t work. You mind taking a look?”
“Nah, no problem. Hey Lex.”
“Aren’t we a big happy family?” Octavia crooned, resting her chin on the back of the couch. “Ooh, shopping. What did you get for me?”
“Birthday stuff.” Clarke dropped a kiss on her forehead as she walked past, kicking off her boots. “No looking.”
“Boo, you suck. What about you, Lexa? Will you tell me what she got?” She widened her eyes, bottom lip quivering ever so faintly, and Lexa blinked. Looked nervously over at Clarke, who very calmly shook her head no and drew her thumb with terrifying seriousness over her throat.
“I can’t do that, I’m afraid,” Lexa told the other girl. She gestured weakly to Clarke, who smiled sweetly at her roommate.
“Don’t be such a creep, Clarke, scat. Hide my presents then. But I will be looking.”
“If you dare step into my room before your birthday, I will tie you to your bed and shave half your hair off. Don’t think I won’t.”
“Fine. Just know that I hate you.”
“What’s new? Love you too, O.”
Octavia huffed, threw herself back down on the couch.
Lexa remained awkwardly standing by the kitchen counter until Raven sauntered back with her bag. “What are you doing, Lurk? Sit down.” She slung an arm over Lexa’s shoulders, happily ignoring the glare she got for it, and pulled her to the living room.
“By the way, Lexa,” Octavia said, “you really don’t have to get me anything.” She craned her head back, scouted the room for any sign of Clarke. Lowering her voice, she continued, “I invited you for Clarke,” she said, and Lexa couldn’t help the still pang of hurt at that. “No, no, wait, I mean you’re my friend now absolutely, it’s just that the best gift is seeing Clarke smiling and I couldn’t be happier that we met you because she does it a lot now and-” she cut herself off, hearing the soft soft of bare feet padding around the corner.
“Sup losers.” Clarke dropped onto Octavia, grinning when she groaned. “Are you two staying for dinner?”
“I have a hot date, and by date I mean steamy encounter,” Raven clarified, “that I cannot miss so alas.” She shrugged. “I cannot. Another time.” She waved away Octavia and Clarke’s protests. “I love you guys but you cannot make up for what is about to occur. It is phenomenal.”
“He’s that good?” Clarke asked.
“What? No, I’m that good,” Raven shot back. “Duh.” She lifted one shoulder in a shrug as she collected her bag. “He’s okay, I guess.”
“Are we still on for the weekend?” Octavia asked.
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world, birthday girl. Four o’clock, right?” she asked, directing that at Clarke. A double thumbs up in reply sent her packing and she left without another word.
“Four o’clock?” Octavia poked Clarke’s arm. “What’s happening at four o’clock?”
“That is a surprise and you know it.” Clarke snuggled back into her. Sought out Lexa across the room and gave her a warm smile. “You’re staying for dinner though, right?”
Lexa shifted slightly in her seat, beginning to shake her head no. “I wouldn’t want to impose.” She was still turning over what Octavia had said, still cataloguing each of Clarke’s smiles now that she knew they were doubly precious, when she caught another one. Gentle, this one, and sweet.
“It’s not an imposition,” Clarke said in a tone that made Lexa feel like they were the only two in the room. Octavia held her breath. “We’re ordering pizza, having a study night. I know you brought your books with you. It’ll be fun,” she said, and Lexa was unable to think of a single answer that might contain a no.
“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.”
She couldn’t feel her arm when she woke up. It was very disconcerting.
She couldn’t feel her arm.
But that was okay because when she opened her eyes to check why, there was a mass of blonde hair in front of her and it smelt of strawberries. Or perhaps roses.
Both, most likely.
Lexa eased her arm slowly out from underneath Clarke’s head, held her breath as she slowly wriggled her way back and away from her. All her stealth didn’t serve her when the edge of the bed arrived suddenly and precariously behind her and she toppled, no longer silent, a yelp pulled from her as the bed disappeared and she met with the cold, hard ground.
There was a yawn.
The shuffle of bed sheets.
Then Clarke was peering over the edge of the bed, trying her best not to smile.
“Hey,” she said, and Lexa tried not to groan because it wasn’t fair that she had fallen out of bed and made a buffoon of herself when Clarke got to have a beautiful raspy morning voice and truly admirable bed hair.
“Good morning,” Lexa replied, pushing up onto her elbows. “Your floor is not comfortable.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“Still.” Clarke shrugged, huffed when her hood - the covers, pulled up around her - fell over her eyes. She scraped it away with slow hands. Lexa was smiling at her when she emerged, victorious. Clarke bit her lip, tugged on it to stop her smile from growing too wide. “Good morning,” she said, softly.
Lexa couldn’t help but duck her head shyly. At which point, she realised that she was in her underwear and shirt and she tugged at the end of her shirt to cover her legs as much as possible. Mortification - falling out of bed would do that even if she were fully clothed, which she definitely wasn’t - was coming to her thick and fast, unasked for, and she could feel her cheeks heating up. “Umm.”
It took a sleepy Clarke ten whole long seconds to realise why Lexa looked so uncomfortable and, when she did, she first buried her laugh in the bedsheets before she tumbled out the other side of the bed, apparently purposefully. She snatched up Lexa’s pants and dropped them on her bed buddy when she stumbled past. “Breakfast,” she said, rubbing at her eyes. “Octavia.”
It wasn’t so much of an explanation, but Lexa vaguely understood and when she had pulled on her pants once Clarke left the room - she heard a few bumps as the other girl knocked into the wall - she stepped out quietly into the kitchen.
“Oh. My. God.”
A spoon whizzed rapidly through the air.
“Oh my GOD.”
“Please don’t,” Clarke grumbled, slipping into her seat and lowering her head carefully to the countertop. “It’s too early.”
“This is the best birthday present ever I need to call Raven right now.”
Sleepy or not, Clarke’s hand shot out to wrap around Octavia’s wrist, holding her in place with an iron grip.
“Nothing happened. Call her and die. Got it?”
“Good.” Clarke dropped head and hand back down to the countertop. “Coffee?”
“Right here.” Octavia pushed Clarke’s mug across to her. “You’re terrifying in the mornings, you know that right?”
“You keep reminding me.”
“Alright. Just checking.” Octavia turned to Lexa. “Coffee?”
“Oh. Uh. Yes, thank you, if that wouldn’t be a problem?”
“Not at all. I’m glad to see you’re not some kind of unresponsive cyborg in the mornings like our dear friend here,” she said, raising her voice.
Clarke sipped slowly at her coffee and ignored them.
“Now, I believe Clarke when she says nothing happened,” Octavia continued, popping a mug underneath their coffee machine, “except that I don’t believe her at all. I know rumpled clothing when I see it. What happened? Tell me everything. Start from the beginning.”
“I, uh, I don’t,” Lexa started, eyeing Clarke who was unhelpfully still prone next to her coffee. “Uh.”
“Octavia, leave her alone.”
“Fine.” She sniffed. Placed Lexa’s mug on the counter. “But I’m only making you a small stack of pancakes because you’re being mean and not gossiping with me. Lexa, you’re nice so you can have as many pancakes as you want. How many?”
Clarke grabbed at Lexa’s arm. “Ten,” she whispered loudly. “Say ten.”
“Clarke, you’re a horrible influence and I hate you.”
“I’m meeting up with Lincoln in a few,” Octavia said when they were done with breakfast. “Clarke, washing up is yours.”
“Thanks, love you, have fun, toodles, see you later,” Clarke yelled up to the ceiling, too full to move. She waited until the front door closed after her best friend tbefore she turned to face Lexa. “So.”
“So,” Lexa repeated.
“I’m sorry I sounded so weird earlier, making Octavia leave you alone. It’s not that I don’t want to tell her we kissed - we did kiss, right?”
“Okay great.” Clarke cracked a relieved grin and she laughed, shaking her head. “That’s awesome,” she said like she didn’t quite believe it had happened.
“Could we, do you think you’d like to do that again? Sometime? With me?”
“Okay,” Clarke grinned. “Okay great.” She tucked her hair behind her ears, traced her fork lightly in patterns over her scraped clean plate. “Umm. Where was I?”
“Before we started talking about kissing again? You were reassuring me that you didn’t not want to tell Octavia.”
“Oh! Right. Yeah, I’ll tell her everything once you’re out of the house because, well, she’s my best friend.”
“Of course.” Lexa knew that she would be calling her sister, most likely as soon as she stepped out of Clarke’s home.
“I just wanted to talk with you first. Make sure we were on the same page, I guess.”
Lexa smiled back at Clarke, nodded slightly. “Last night,” she said. “You, we, said we wanted to go slow. I was wondering if perhaps that meant I could take you on a date?”
Clarke’s eyes brightened and she nodded quickly. “Yeah! Yeah, I’d really like that. Oh, hold on a sec.” She leant forward, lifted her hand up to Lexa’s cheek. “You have, there’s a little,” she dragged her thumb over Lexa’s bottom lip, pulled her hand away. “Syrup,” she said by way of explanation, showing her the sticky sauce she’d wiped away.
And then she placed her thumb in her mouth and sucked and Lexa’s breathed halted in her chest, eyes fixed on Clarke’s mouth. “I’d like to kiss you again,” she said, voice low and quiet, and Clarke just grinned.
Which Lexa took as invitation, shoving her chair back to stand. She made her way to Clarke’s side, tipped her head up, and leant down. She paused, just out of reach, nose nudging against Clarke’s, until the blonde girl gave an impatient huff and pulled Lexa down by the back of the neck.
This kiss, Lexa thought while she still could, was not like the kiss from the night before.
That had been sweet and slow.
This kiss, though syrup sweet, was hot. It was like a wildfire, flashfire, burning whitehot as it zapped from Lexa’s tingling lips to the tips of her fingers and down to her socked feet. It left her gasping as it went from gentle one moment to Clarke, standing, pushing Lexa back onto the table, moving to barricade her against it. Her eyes darted down to Lexa’s lips, parted, sweet, beautifully pink, and she kissed her again and again until she could hear Lexa’s faint moans. (She wanted to taste them, had to pull back a touch to slow herself down.)
“This isn’t, ah,” Lexa had to stop speaking when Clarke nipped at her lip. “This isn’t slow,” she puffed out, mirroring Clarke’s thoughts.
Clarke drew back a fraction. Her hand had migrated to Lexa’s hip, thumb resting just above the hem of her jeans. Shirt not tucked in, Clarke’s thumb pressed into the skin there and itburned deliciously the imprint of her finger print on Lexa’s side. She drew in a shuddering breath. “This isn’t slow,” she said again, before she wound her arm around Clarke’s neck and brought her mouth crashing back.
The way Clarke pressed against her, kissed her so that she could feel Clarke’s delight, her want, had Lexa biting back whimpers - and Clarke laughing. Who would have guessed that reserved Lexa would be so sensitive? And vocal, she noted, taking in the groan when she dug her teeth into that bottom lip.
“I wonder what you sound like,” Clarke said, teasingly, “when I kiss down your neck. Tell me, what is your opinion on hickies?”
“Oh fuck,” Lexa whispered, Clarke not even having moved yet, and the words made Clarke laugh.
“You’re too easy, Lexa.”
Lexa gathered herself enough to pull back, direct a haughty look - all raised eyebrows and flattened lips - at Clarke. “Well you’re not in my pants yet so I’m not sure that’s accurate.”
“Give me time,” Clarke near enough purred and Lexa was thankful for the table behind her when her knees melted beneath her.
Clarke pressed her lips to the too-fast flutter of Lexa’s pulse, her fingers slowly stroking the wayward curls of her braid away from her skin in movements that had Lexa shivering. She moved to kiss her again, perhaps to suck a mark into her skin.
“I knew it!”
Lexa stiffened. Clarke didn’t shift, still pressed against Lexa, who was pressed against the table, but she did turn to look over her shoulder at her roommate. “Octavia. A moment?”
“Sure, sure. I’ll be,” she gestured back to the front door, a wild and wide grin cutting a swathe across her face. “Carry on.”
“No, I think you’ve ruined the moment,” Clarke said quickly to herself.
Lexa agreed with a faint hum.
“Hey.” Clarke brought her hands up, thumbs smoothing across her Lexa’s cheeks. “Sorry about that.”
“I’m okay,” she said.” But she was gnawing on her lower lip and her eyes darted back to the front door. “I should go,” she said, more quietly. “You should talk to your friend, maybe.”
“She’s your friend too. We should share the responsibilty.” Clarke closed her eyes, pinched the bridge of her nose. “Please, share the responsibility with me.”
“I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of committment,” Lexa said, extracting herself from their position. She laughed and it was quiet and a little shakey and even though they had been interrupted, the sound sent a shiver down Clarke’s spine and she couldn’t help but feel all over again that she was probably the luckiest person in the world because her lips -her lips - had been kissing Lexa’s lips and that was some kind of magic, it had to be. “We’re taking it slow, remember.”
“Fine. Rude. I’ll talk to her. But, umm,” she ran her hands through her hair. Looked cautiously at Lexa. “Are we, are we okay?” she said, stepping back so Lexa could move more freely if she wanted to.
She moved straight to Clarke.
Took her hand in one of hers and, after a moment, squeezed it gently. She let it drop - there was that voice still, that one that said don’t push it, the one that said if she wants to touch you she will don’t force it on her - and she ignored the way her hand felt empty and she felt cold without Clarke holding her (and kissing her).
The same simple, straight forward answer as usual. It made Clarke smile.
“Okay. I’ll text you.”
“You do that.” Lexa pressed a lingering kiss to Clarke’s cheek, very nearly the corner of her lips, and she pulled away when there came a faint squeal from the front door.
“I’m sorry about her,” Clarke muttered. “I’ll talk to her. See you on Saturday? Four o’clock.”
“I will be there, Clarke,” she said, and she ignored Octavia’s presence in favour of not feeling silly for the way Clarke’s name came out so entirely sweet and careful. Octavia was peeking around the door and she sighed. Collected her things and made her way out, giving Octavia a tight smile in return for her too bright excited one.
“Hey babe,” she whispered. “Babe, it’s time to wake up.” Clarke shook her friends shoulder lightly. “Octavia.”
“Go ‘way,” the girl slurred, pulling her blanket up over her head and turning away.
“O,” Clarke said, softly pulling the blanket back down. “Wakey, wakey.”
“No.” The pillow was next, clutched in her good arm she dragged it down over her head. “Go ‘way,” she said again, words muffled.
Clarke went slowly and carefully, not wanting her friend to smack her with her very solid arm cast, and peeled the pillow away. “Come on. Time to get up. Birthday time, O.”
Octavia lay still for a long moment before she sighed and turned over onto her back. She rubbed at her eyes, grinding away the sleep dust, and blinked up at her friend. “Birthday?”
“Mhm.” Clarke stroked Octavia’s hair away from her face. “Happy birthday,” she said, smile stretching, pushing at her cheeks, and Octavia smiled back. “Let’s get you up,” she said, patting her shoulder.
For each and every one of Octavia’s complaints, all bar one, Clarke had an answer and a response. “My feet are cold,” was her first complaint as her blanket was pushed back, but Clarke was already kneeling by her bed and opening a gift bag. She waved a pair of socks - thick, purple, striped, incredibly warm - and Octavia smiled and rolled them onto her feet. “Still cold,” she said, and she clapped her hands when next from the bag Clarke pulled a sweater - forest green and soft and just long enough that Octavia could comfortably wrap her hands in the ends of the sleeves - and let Clarke pull it on over her head. “Why are we up so early?” she asked, and that Clarke refused to answer. Just smiled. Held her hands out to help Octavia stand. “What’s the time then?”
“In the morning?” Octavia gasped, tried her best to collapse back into the bed but Clarke, grunting, took the brunt of her weight and shuffled her into the doorway.
“What are we doing? I’m hungry.”
“Then it’s a good time for breakfast, isn’t it?”
“Okay, hey, hey.” Octavia patted Clarke clumsily on the face. “Hey. I love you but please tell me you didn’t cook for me.”
“You don’t want to be rude to the person organising your birthday, missy.” Clarke glared at her unhelpful friend and continued their awkward shuffle, nudging Octavia until she took one step and then another. Once they were on the wooden floor of the hallway, it was easier to drag the socked Octavia toward the living room - and all of Clarke’s efforts were made worthwhile when they made it there.
“Babe!” she squealed, hopping away from Clarke with a beaming smile. Lincoln quickly put down his knife - chopping capsicum was great but Octavia was coming towards him quickly - and laughed when she leapt bodily into his arms. Legs wrapped around his waist, arms around his neck, Octavia rewarded his early morning surprise with kisses pressed into his cheeks and his lips and a beautiful smile.
“How’s the birthday girl?” he asked her, accepting another kiss as answer. Clarke gave him a little wave - pointed toward the couch and the coffee table where they had set up Octavia’s birthday surprise - and he waited until she was gone before he grinned at his girlfriend and palmed her butt, pulling her tight against his body. “Happy Birthday, babe,” he said sincerely.
“Best. Birthday. Ever,” she said between kisses. His cheeks underneath her hands, she pulled him close, kissing him again and again. “The best.”
“It hasn’t even started yet,” he told her.
“Still. I have you,” she said, “and my best friend, and you’re making me breakfast. Plus.” She smiled. “Cool socks.”
He craned his neck to look at her feet, toes wriggling, being very careful not to drop her. He nodded approvingly. “Very cool socks.”
“Alright, enough talking.” She pulled him close again.
They kissed until Clarke cleared her throat, smiling an apology. “Sorry lovebirds.” She raised her eyebrows at Lincoln and he nodded, letting Octavia down onto her feet. “Okay. O, it’s time.”
“Time for what?” Octavia - excitement burning away her sleepiness rapidly - bounced lightly in place.
“Well, Lincoln is going to finish up breakfast-” Clarke paused so Lincoln could point to the various dishes - cereal, waffles, icecream, bacon, toast, fruit - he had set up for her and then she laid a hand on Octavia’s elbow and ushered her into the next room. Sat her on the couch and then, biting down on her lip, Clarke lifted a computer up onto the table.
“Whoa, Clarke, did you get a new computer? That is sweet.” Octavia looked it over, whistled lowly.
“Sort of. I know you need a new one and I talked to mum and, well,” she shrugged. “Happy Birthday.”
Gaped at her friend. She pointed a finger at the computer. “This is mine? For me?”
“Yes. Is that okay?” Clarke crossed her fingers, hoping this time she hadn’t crossed a line. (The motorbike, of course, had cost far far more than the computer but Octavia had been so shocked by that particular gift she hadn’t even blinked and had just thrown herself at Clarke.)
“I owe you guys so much,” Octavia muttered, running her hands over the computer.
“You know that’s not true. Mum was stoked when I suggested this. You know how intense she is about us being able to do our assignments without worrying about anything.” Clarke squeezed Octavia’s hand. “Besides, you’re family.”
Octavia ran her fingers over the computer one last time. “I love you.”
“I know.” Clarke grinned. “You’re about to love me a whole lot more.”
“As much as I wanted to watch you set up your computer yourself,” Clarke said, easing the lid of it up, “I took the liberty of doing it myself.” When it looked like Octavia was on the brink of complaining, Clarke raised her hands in surrender. “I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t super important.” She clicked, just once, and a small screen popped up on the screen.
“Happy Birthday!” a very, very familiar voice called out, face blurring just slightly as he shifted forwards to get a better look at his baby sister. “Hey, O. What’s it like being the big one - nine?”
It took her a long, long time to respond. She reached out to brush her fingers against the screen before she slapped Clarke’s shoulder.
“You’re such a jerk!” she said. “You should have warned me.” Tears blurred her eyes and she swiped at them impatiently. “I’m only crying because it’s so early and Clarke woke me up, not because I really, really, really, really missed you okay?” Her brother just laughed, delighted.
“Sure, sure. My god.” He brushed some tears of his own away. “Look how big you are.”
“It’s only been four months, Bell.”
Clarke crept away then, leaving the siblings in peace. There was a bounce in her step knowing that she had done something very, very good.
“Hey Clarke,” Lincoln said quietly. “That’s a generous gift,” he said and Clarke knew exactly what he was too polite to say.
“My mum paid for most of it,” she said, ignoring as always the flinch at the thought of her dad. It came when she thought of her mother. She couldn’t help it. “She, well,” she wrinkled her nose in thought, wondering how to say it, picking at a piece of toast. “She’s kind of disgustingly rich. Cardiologist,” she explained. “A really, really good one.”
“Huh.” He nodded, whisking more quickly at the cake mixture. “Okay.”
Clarke was relieved that he didn’t push any further. It had been a point of contention between her and Octavia early on. At sixteen, money meant a lot, especially when one of them was disgustingly rich and the other wore the same clothes a second day in a row because her brother was still coming up with enough money for them to use the laundromat. So when he just hummed and nodded, she smiled.
“She’s lucky to have you,” he said.
“That’s true,” she grinned. Remembering some of the shit they had gone through - some of the shit Clarke had gotten herself into - and seeing Octavia stick by her side no matter what, Clarke had to laugh and shake her head. “I’m lucky too.”
Octavia Skyped with her brother well into the morning, throughout breakfast, all four of them talking until the birthday girl began to drift off. Then began the clean up. Around Octavia, Lincoln and Clarke put away dishes into the fridge and the sink - they could wait. They prompted Octavia to return to bed for a nap and Clarke set their alarm for midday.
“Ooh, kinky,” was Raven’s first comment as she slid into the car and noticed that Octavia was more or less trussed up in the backseat, blindfolded.
“She kept struggling,” Clarke excused herself. “Hey.”
“She’s bringing the presents down. They’re heavy.”
“Does she need help?” Clarke was unbuckled and halfway out of the car before Raven could say no but it was too late then because Clarke had seen Lexa stepping carefully down the staircase and she jogged over to help. “Hi,” she murmured, taking a bag off the top of the box Lexa was carrying. Her cheeks flushed when Lexa’s eyes met hers and she grinned when the other girl stumbled a little on the last step.
“Hello,” Lexa returned. “Thank you for helping.”
“Sure, no problem.”
They stared at one another for a long moment - the thought of leaning forward, kissing the other, occurring to both of them and it felt like a very, very good idea. Lexa was the first one to step forward, hands clenching on the sides of the box. But before they could kiss, Raven had rolled down the window. Not looking at them, eyes closed after a long night, she yelled at them, “come on, let’s go!”
Lexa glared at the girl in the car. “It has become more and more apparent that I will need to murder her,” she said quietly.
“I appreciate that,” Lexa said with a fond smile. “Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome.”
“Please! For the love of god, stop flirting and get in the car!” Raven groaned.
“Shut up!” Lexa and Clarke snapped in unison. Raven huffed, crossed her arms, and nudged Octavia.
“Lexa and Clarke are being mean to me,” she said.
“Well that’s probably because-” Octavia began before she stopped, frowned. “I’m not allowed to tell you that.” She sighed. “You’re going to make me tell you, aren’t you?” she asked, feeling the weight of Raven’s eyes on her face, intense, intent.
“Alright. But tell Clarke that I at least put up a struggle.” Blindfolded, she none the less shifted to face Raven. “They totally made out,” she whispered. “I walked in on them.”
Raven swallowed a loud cheer. “Keep going.”
“Clarke had Lexa pressed up against the table and okay personally I have never made out with Clarke but I think about it sometimes because the general agreement is that she is an excellent kisser. Like, a superior kisser. Very gifted.”
Raven nodded. “Go on.” This was exactly the kind of thing she wanted to hear about. Especially about the two girls who had very quickly become her friends.
“So Clarke had her pressed up against the table and they were looking at each other like they were going to burst into flames if they couldn’t touch. And then, I don’t know what Clarke said but Lexa’s eyes basically rolled back into her head and she, like, says something back and slumps against the table and-”
“If what I think is happening is happening, it better not be,” Clarke growled. Her face filled half the window and Raven gulped at the menacing glare.
“Raven tortured it out of me!” the birthday girl yelped, blindly searching for Clarke. She shifted closer to Raven, who patted her knee reassuringly. “She’s evil, terrifying. I feared for my life! I had to tell her everything I knew!” Raven’s hand turned into clawing fingers. “Ow, ow, I’m sorry,” she hissed. Clarke rolled her eyes, able to hear every word. “Take one for the team, Reyes. Be a woman. Also,” Octavia said, turning back to Clarke, “you’re not allowed to kill me today.”
“Fine.” Clarke sat herself in the drivers’ seat again, returned the bag to Lexa once she was comfortable in the passenger seat. “But I make no promises about tomorrow.”
With that settled, there was a period of silence as Clarke pulled away from the curb and started their drive to the Super Secret Birthday Location. Lexa kept her hold on the box on her lap but her eyes…they stayed on Clarke for as long as she could bear. She looked away, time and again, trying to orient herself because Clarke was too bright, too beautiful, too close and Lexa wanted to reach out and touch her. She had to look away again.
Raven could see it, all of it, every fleeting and then lingering look, in the side mirror and she did her best not to smirk too obviously but they were so lame the way the two of them kept glancing at one another and sharing those small, soft smiles, and she couldn’t help the little pleased flutter in her chest knowing that they were doing something about it, something good.
She wanted, badly, to tease them but she knew it was far too early.
“Are we there yet?”
“No. Not yet.”
“Are we almost there?”
“How much longer?”
“As long as it takes.”
“Where are we going?”
It took her only a few more minutes to sigh and shift in place. “Can you crack the window then?” Octavia asked and Clarke obliged. Raven watched, confused, as Octavia cocked her head to the side and a little furrow of a frown appeared on her forehead. “Yes!” she hissed after a moment or two. “We’re going go-karting!”
“How…how did you…”
“Well, I can hear a busy road which means that we’re on a main street. I smell something - car fumes, obviously, but also donuts which means we’re going past that bakery I like. In the far distance, I can hear children’s laughter-”
“The blindfold is too thin and you can see everything, can’t you?”
“Yes.” Octavia freed her hand and loosened the blindfold. “Also, Lincoln broke and told me your plan like three days ago.” She smirked. “Except for the Skype call. That was a surprise.”
“Good.” Clarke sighed. “I’m never telling him anything ever again.”
“This is the best day ever!” Octavia screamed into Clarke’s ear, wrapping her arms around her waist, careful with her cast, and jumped excitedly. Clarke laughed, jumping with her. “I beat Raven! Did you see, did you see, did you see?”
“Yeah, I also heard your trash talking,” Clarke laughed. “And, by the way,” she lowered her voice, “so did like all of those ten year old kids and their parents are giving you the stink eye. So…” Clarke grabbed her hand. “Let’s go, come on. I saved a table for us inside.”
Raven and Lexa were waiting for them at the table. Raven with a scowl, Lexa with one of the largest smiles Clarke had seen from her. Clarke dropped next to her, nudged their shoulders together.
“So much!” she said, and there was none of that formal tinge to her voice that they were all familiar with. Just a loose smile and a light tone. “I’ve never done this before.”
“Go-karting?” Octavia asked, bouncing again when food was delivered to their table, thanking the waiter with a big smile.
“No.” Lexa shrugged, only a little self-conscious at what she was saying. “A party like this. The parties I was allowed to go to,” she said, “have been quite different. Very formal.” She smiled shyly at Octavia. “No fries,” she added.
“What about you, Raven? Having fun?” Octavia nudged her with her foot.”
“Except for the absolute mortification at being beaten by you in a go-kart?” She shrugged. “It’s fine.”
“Well, you haven’t got any presents yet have you? Totally lame.”
“Excuse me, I am a dignified lady and very much above the institution of consumerism that would mean I demand presents from those who love me.” Octavia sniffed and turned away from Raven. Clarke counted silently - three, two, one, lowering her fingers with each mouthed number. When the third finger lowered, Octavia turned back to them. “However, speaking of presents, where are they?”
“They’re in the car,” Clarke told her, grinning. “You can have them later.” When Octavia pouted, she sighed. “Okay fine, you can have them now. And then afterwards, you can have another few laps on the race course and trash Raven again. How does that sound?”
“Like the best present ever.”
Raven huffed. A smile pulled at her lips and she had to hide it, chewing on the end of a straw. She lifted her hand when Clarke excused herself. “I volunteer to go with you and laugh while you struggle to carry them,” she said, scooping up her cane. “Octavia is being a brat.”
“It’s my birthday,” she shrugged. “I’m allowed.”
Clarke laughed and offered Raven her elbow. “Come on,” she said. “Let’s get the brat her presents.”
Lexa and Octavia chatted quietly as they waited for the two of them to return.
After five minutes, Lexa felt a little niggle of nerves. She ignored it, in favour of hearing about Octavia’s last birthday - rock climbing, camping, a long weekend in which Clarke suffered nobly for Octavia’s enjoyment and cried with relief when they got home to their beds and appliances.
“She’s not one for camping,” Octavia told her. “So it was basically a love poem for her to agree to go camping with me.”
Lexa smiled obligingly - not that she didn’t appreciate the story, it was just that it had been a long ten or so minutes since Raven and Clarke had left. “They’ve been gone for a long time,” she said, craning her neck to look at the door.
Octavia was about to wave it off as that fog of early love, that Lexa was just feeling strongly the separation from Clarke, but the food had gone cold and she frowned. “Yeah. That’s weird.” She bit down on her lip, then nodded. “Yeah, come on. Let’s go make sure they’re okay.”
There were two rules that Raven “Badass” Reyes lived by. The first? Suck it up. Be a woman. Be the entirely awesome badass woman that she already was and take exactly zero shit. (Yes. That was only one rule.) The second? Defend other women no matter what. After a few altercations in her past, Raven knew how important it was to follow her rules and the moment her gut twinged with that sense of “something isn’t right here”, she knew to trust it.
Clarke had fallen silent half way across the parking lot. She started to search for her keys, digging through her bag, kept her head down low. Raven didn’t say anything when Clarke started to walk faster.
“I’m sorry,” Clarke murmured, glancing down at Raven’s brace when she had to pause for a moment to loosen it.
“Please,” she scoffed, gripping onto Clarke’s elbow as she worked on the brace quickly. it took only a moment. “I’ve run a damn marathon with this thing on. This is nothing.” Raven patted her thigh as they walked, grinning at her friend. “So, who are we avoiding?” she asked, sounding all the world like she was asking Clarke to pass the butter at dinner.
“You caught that, huh?”
“Hard not to.”
“Guess so.” Clarke gnawed at her lip. Then sighed. “On your eight o’clock,” she murmured and Raven turned to look. Caught a glimpse over the top of the cars between them, of a young man about their age, white, tall enough, floppy haired, and staring right at them.
“Uh oh. He saw me looking. Coming right for us.”
“Crap.” Clarke pulled her keys out, jerked her head at the car. “Come on. Let’s grab the presents and make a run for it,” she said, grinning in an effort to make it sound like a joke. It wasn’t though and her hands shook as she opened the door.
Raven waited by her side as she stacked them up on the seat. But he was coming closer rapidly and she tightened her grip on her cane. “Want me to beat him?”
“What? No, no,” she said, but she was taking careful note of exactly where he was and her hands were shaking even more when she reached for the presents.
“Come on, Clarke. Stop.” Raven shook her head, stopped her from picking them up. “Let’s just get in the car. I’ll call Lex and tell them what happened and we can pick them up at the door. Yeah?”
Clarke let her breath out slowly before nodding. He was only twenty or so metres away and, when he saw them getting into the car, he began to run.
“Hey! Hey!” Clarke swore quietly and moved faster, slipping into the front seat but before she could pull the door closed, he had his hand there in the door and yanked it open, shoving his hip against it when it was open far enough and she pulled her hand away, not wanting to touch him. “Hey,” he said again, with a smile.
Raven was up and out of her seat in seconds. Next to him in a few more seconds and then her cane was jabbed into his chest and pushing him back. “Hey! Space invader, back uP!”
“No, Raven.” Clarke stepped out of the car again, and rested her hand on Raven’s back. “It’s okay.”
“Hell no it’s not.”
“I know him,” she excused.
“I don’t give a shit.” Raven glowered at him. “Do you know how fucking creepy it is to be followed? To have someone yell at you and run up to you and grab the door of your car? Do you have any idea how creepy that is?”
“Hey, no, I just wanted to talk.”
“I don’t give one single fuck. Apologise now and while you’re at it, take several very large steps back.”
“But you’ll leave,” he argued.
Raven jabbed him, almost kindly, just a tap really, with the cane again. He rubbed at the spot with a wince. “Guess what?” she said, sickly sweet. “We’ve got every right to leave if we damn well choose. So step. Back.”
He looked over her shoulder at Clarke, whose hand stayed on Raven’s back, clutching at her shirt each time the guy spoke. “Clarke,” he said, voice lowering gently. “Come on. Talk to me.”
“Well, at least look at me. You owe me that much.”
Raven knew from the impossibly small, choked sound of anger from behind her that he had made a very, very big mistake with that statement.
“You listen to me, Finn Collins,” she snarled, stepping past Raven to jab him herself. Same spot. Made him wince. “I don’t owe you shit.”
“We were together for almost two years.” Raven looked him over. He was attractive enough, she thought, and there was something oddly familiar about him but that could be perhaps his very television appropriate face. “Two years. You won’t even look at me when you see me? Say hello? What the hell is that about?”
“Since you seem to have missed it the first time,” Clarke said lowly, “I don’t owe you shit. I don’t have to explain what I do - which is anything I want to do.”
“Come on Clarke, don’t be a bitch.”
Raven pursed her lips. “I can punch him, if you want?”
“Oh no, that’s fine. I can handle it. Thank you though.”
“Yeah cool, great,” Finn threw his hands up, sighed heavily. “Just pretend to ignore me while talking to each other. Very mature, Clarke.”
“I’m not pretending to ignore you, Finn. I am ignoring you.” Clarke crossed her arms. “Hurts, doesn’t it. But hey,” she said, slowly, thoughtfully, “how about this scenario. It’s a week after your father dies right in front of you.” Raven’s eyes widened and she looked towards her firend, whose voice was cold. Controlled. “And your boyfriend is ignoring you. That would hurt. But he’s ignoring you so thoroughly that you get scared into thinking holy crap, maybe something happened to him too. You know now that shit happens. You know that it can happen to anyone and you are petrified, sure that your boyfriend is hurt, that he needs help. Maybe already dead.” Finn’s jaw clenched and he looked down at the ground. He lifted his hands in surrender, taking a step back but Clarke grabbed his jacket and held him in place. “And then you get to his house and it turns out that he just turned off his phone so he didn’t have to listen to you whining about how sad you were because it’s a terrible inconvenience,” she forced the word out, “terrible inconvenience to listen to someone grieve. That’s not what he signed up for. No, you signed up for happy party Clarke. You signed up for eager to fuck you Clarke. You signed up for easy Clarke and you lost her the second you decided that sleeping with another girl because I was too hard to ‘manage’ was a good idea. You lost any right to talk to me at all when you rolled off that poor girl who had no clue. No clue at all that you had a girlfriend. You lost any right to talk to me when you told me that it was my fault.”
Raven stepped forward, placed a hand on Clarke’s shoulder. “Hey,” she soothed. “Come on, let’s go.”
“No.” Clarke managed a stiff smile but she shook her head. “Finn,” she said with finality, “you convinced me that it was my fault and I believed you because you told me again and again that you loved me and I wanted so bad to believe you.” She shrugged. “You took advantage of that, of me. So. If now I see you in the street and I walk by you without acknowledging the fact that you exist, you are going to have to deal with that.”
“Clarke,” he tried to say, but that was when their knights in shining party hats arrived, Octavia with curses on the tip of her tongue.
“The fuck you think you’re doing here, Collins? You following us?”
A full foot shorter than him, she nevertheless bullied her way between her best friend and him, crossing her arms and glaring at him so darkly that Raven was surprised he didn’t turn tail and run. “I don’t believe you.”
“I work here, okay?” He opened his jacket, showing her the logo on his shirt.
Octavia didn’t let that throw her at all. “Oh, so you think that it’s okay to harrass people who come to have a good time, then? You think that just because we walk into your place of work, you have any right to talk to her in a manner other than one hundred per cent professionally?”
“No. That’s right. Walk away, Collins.”
“I was just trying to say hello! I just wanted to talk,” he said.
“Look jackass,” Raven said, joining Octavia to block his sight of Clarke as much as they could. “I’m new to this whole scenario but even I know that your advances are super unwelcome. You really screwed the pooch on this one. Run along.”
When he was gone, shuffling along dejectedly, hands stuffed into pockets, Lexa cleared her throat. “Screwed the pooch? What is that supposed to mean?”
“Wow, you really have been sheltered. It’s pretty self explanatory.” Raven waited for Lexa to grimace, understanding, before she grinned. “Yeah, you’ve got it.”
“Hey, you knew what you were getting into when you decided to be friends with me.”
“I forgot to read the fine print, actually,” Lexa shot back, leaving Raven to blink for a few moments.
“Nice one.” She popped Lexa lightly in the shoulder, nodding appreciatively. “Very nice. Okay, I don’t know about the rest of you but I feel like we should just leave. Go somewhere else.”
Octavia, hands rubbing up and down Clarke’s arms from wrists to shoulders, nodded. “I think we should just go home. We can have cake and presents there.”
“Cool. Shotgun your bed,” Raven said to Octavia. “Lexa, you can share with Clarke.”
“Or I can use the couch.” Lexa glared and Raven winced, remembering what had just happened.
“Right. Sure. Right.”
“I’ll drive,” Lexa said, and she nodded for Octavia to direct her friend into the backseat where they sat together. Clarke didn’t speak for the whole ride back to their apartment block and the journey upstairs was quiet as well.
“I’m going to have a shower,” Clarke said, doing her best to force a smile for Octavia. “You should cut up the cake. I’ll be out in ten minutes.”
“Okay. Okay, yeah.” Octavia squeezed her hand. She waited until Clarke was around the corner before she sighed, tension running out of her body instantly. “Crap.”
“Is it so bad?” Lexa asked. She was still staring at that hallway, concern painted clear over her expression. Eyebrows furrowed, lips flat and tight, shoulders tense. “Is she okay?”
“Finn Collins, aka her first love, aka biggest asshole ever.” Octavia swept the cake out of the fridge. “I really can’t tell you anything else,” she said. “Not my place.”
“No, yes of course. I understand.” Lexa’s hands tightened on the edge of the countertop. “Of course,” she repeated quietly.
They were sitting quietly in the living room. Spoons scraped against the edges of their bowls as they ate their cake, quiet murmurs of ‘wow’ and ‘delicious’ and ‘Lincoln made it’ barely disturbed the mood. Clarke smiled and nodded at each comment about the cake but it was clear that she wasn’t thinking about the cake or the room she was in.
“Maybe we should leave,” Lexa suggested. It was those words that made Clarke blink and she almost seemed to panic, setting her bowl down immediately and sitting upright.
“No, no, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s okay, I’m okay, really.”
“Clarke, you were made to confront your ex. You deserve time to think about that in peace.” Lexa stood. “I would be quite happy to return another time. Octavia, happy birthday.” The birthday girl nodded her thanks. “Raven?”
“Yeah, I’m coming, I’m coming.” With one last mournful look at her cake - “delicious, really” - she eased herself up and saluted Octavia with her cane. “Happy birthday. Call me?”
Clarke tried again, and once more, to convince them to stay but Lexa just shook her head and Octavia, with a calming hand on her friends arm, convinced her to let them go.
“Sorry I ruined your birthday,” she said, curling up next to Octavia later that night in bed.
“Hey, no, you didn’t. I had a great day. And seeing you cut that guy into tiny little pieces?” Octavia grinned up to the ceiling. “Beautiful.” When Clarke just sighed, she pulled her into a hug. “I’m serious, Clarke. You did a great job, I had a lot of fun, and even if I didn’t you’re more important than any of that.”
“You’re such a sap.”
“You shut your mouth, I am not.”
They were almost asleep when a thought occured to her.
“What if Lexa thinks that I’m just playing with her? That I’m actually straight or something? What if that’s why she left so quickly?”
“Destroy that idea before it starts,” Octavia told her as firmly as she could with sleep settling down on her heavily. “Just talk to her. Okay?”
“Yeah.” Clarke stared up at the ceiling. “Okay.”
6:16 hey lexa!! good morning!!!
6:16 wow that was energetic
6:17 i know how you are in the mornings. you know. functional but angry at the world lol. better than me of course but still
6:18 ‘so why are you five exclamation points awake this morning clarke’ you might ask and
6:18 that is a good question
6:20 the answer to which would be that i might not have gone to sleep at all. maybe.
6:25 yeah i didn’t
6:31 at all
6:44 i just…i’ve been thinking about what happened today - yesterday, oops. see? yeah haven’t slept so yesterday still feels like today. anyway. i’ve been thinking about it a lot and i thought maybe i should talk to you because im not sure how much you saw/heard
6:45 and i just wanted to make sure…idk. i guess i just wanted to talk to you about it. i’ve gotten used to talking to you about everything
6:47 i like it
6:47 shit anyway im so sorry. i should have sent all that in like 3 messages or less but i went ahead and sent like 12. oops. i am SO sorry. please dont kill me
Lexa checked her phone when she woke. She was surprised when she saw the screen was filled with message from Clarke but, scrolling through them and getting a few words from the previews, she knew - she hoped - that it wasn’t anything to worry about.
Her chest still felt tight with maybes and what ifs, because she might like Clarke a lot and she might be fairly certain that Clarke liked her as well, but that didn’t mean much when it came to history and first loves. Not that she had been in love with him.
Or she might have been.
Lexa didn’t know.
She didn’t know nearly enough about Clarke.
The first step, however, was reading the messages and she did quickly and then again slowly, trying to understand what the sleep deprived Clarke had been trying to tell her.
I’m not going to kill you, Lexa replied. There was a lot to reply to, but that was the first.Although I was concerned when I saw so many messages. I thought perhaps Octavia had been injured again.
The reply was quick.
nah. she’s a disaster but not THAT much of a disaster.
i take that back, Clarke sent a few moments later. she just walked into a wall. it’s early so she doesn’t think i heard her. lol sucks to be her im going to tease her about it forever
im a good friend like that
she really does have a certain clumsy grace about her
Lexa huffed a small laugh and the sound - small as it was - made Raven groan loudly and pull the covers over her head.
“You’re so loud.”
“I didn’t say anything,” Lexa denied but that earned her a glare and a huff as Raven slowly emerged from her blanket cocoon. “Good morning though.”
“Is it?” Raven turned her glare on the window, at the crack of sunlight dashed across their room where the curtains didn’t quite close, and she sighed. “Shotgun shower first.”
Raven huffed again, almost a laugh. “You’re talking to Clarke, aren’t you?” she guessed, nodding to the phone gripped tight in Lexa’s hand, and she strapped on her shower brace. “Toss me my cane?”
Lexa rolled off her bed and picked it up from where it was leaning against the kitchen counter. “Try not to use all my shampoo again.”
“I’ve got lustrous and difficult hair, okay?” Raven closed the door to their bathroom. She pulled it open a crack again. “And your mum buys it for you so stop complaining.”
“Whatever,” Lexa muttered, returning to her phone and the messages that had buzzed through from Clarke.
i didn’t annoy you too much did i? :p
funny face aside, that was a genuine question. i can stop if you want
Lexa’s heart dropped at the thought. No, of course not! I’m sorry, I was talking with Raven.
oh okay phew
Also, Lexa wrote, scrolling back to one of Clarke’s earlier messages because she just couldn’t resist pointing it out, clumsy grace is an oxymoron.
hey! i might be silly sometimes but that’s a bit harsh don’t you think?
Oh! No! That wasn’t an insult. I’m sorry, oxymoron is a figure of speech, two contradictory words used in conjunction. I wasn’t insulting you, I’m sorry.
chill lexa i was kidding. i know what an oxymoron is. poetry analysis is compulsory in high school, remember?
Oh. Lexa closed her eyes tight, shook her head. Right. The relief she felt knowing that she hadn’t insulted Clarke - that Clarke hadn’t actually taken it as an insult - was overwhelming.
There was a pause and then,
also i mean aren’t we all oxymorons? hypocrites all of us. doing one thing and wanting to do another.
Lexa frowned at the message.
I feel like you might be talking about more than figures of speech here, Clarke.
There was another pause.
Far away, in her own room, eyes locked onto her own phone screen, Clarke gnawed at her lip and tried to ignore the panicked fluttering in her stomach. There was a long moment - too long? she questioned - before those three little dots appeared and every second they remained there felt like an eternity. Clarke had to remind herself to breathe.
I am surprised by this bombshell of an announcement
Clarke blinked. Was she…was Lexa angry? Was that an angry message? Or did she not believe her? She didn’t think that Lexa would be the biphobic type but she had been surprised before by the kinds of people who were and -
were you joking? Clarke sent back, hoping that Lexa had been.
Clarke let her breath out in a rush and she thought her eyes might have been prickling with relieved tears - it could also have been because she was very terribly tired - and then she had to smile because Lexa had written again and that message read,
May I call you?
She didn’t bother to reply, just pressed the little phone icon herself and curled around her pillow, resting her chin on it. A little because it was comfortable but mostly because she felt the need to hide the smile that lingered when she heard Lexa’s voice.
“Hi,” she murmured.
“Good morning.” Lexa huffed then. “I was going to ask whether you had slept well but,”
“Yeah. No sleeping for Clarke.” She laughed a little, trying to lighten the mood, but she hated that she had ruined yesterday for Octavia and the others and she hated that he still had any kind of effect on her, more so that he had so much of an effect that she could’t get her mind to just let go and let her go to sleep. “So. Umm. You knew that I was bi?”
She heard the faint sounds of a bed creaking and tried to imagine Lexa sitting or laying back on her bed. Those eyes staring up at the ceiling. Whether Lexa would be relaxed in her own room and be sprawled or whether she would have her ankles crossed neatly and lay straight up and down on the bed. Whether she would have an arm tucked under her head, the other holding the phone. More than anything, she wanted to be there to see for herself.
“Not exactly,” Lexa said in that deliberate way of hers. “But I knew you had had a boyfriend and, well. You’ve expressed that the idea of kissing me or going on a date with me is not…entirely repulsive to you.”
“Not entirely repulsive,” Clarke repeated and she couldn’t stop herself from laughing quietly because even the thought of Lexa, just texting with her, brought a smile to her face. And talking with her was sometimes difficult because it meant she should be paying attention to the words and all Clarke wanted to do sometimes was let them wash over her and just listen to her voice. And she felt like her chest was filling up with warmth whenever she thought about the other girl and kissing her, kissing Lexa was, wow, that was on a whole other level. “Not entirely repulsive, no,” she agreed.
“I’m glad to hear that.” Lexa paused, but there was a catch of breath and Clarke waited to hear what words were being planned after it. “Thank you. For telling me.”
“Oh. Sure. No problem.”
“I am serious, Clarke. I understand there can be a backlash to the idea of bisexuality and I find myself relieved that you trusted me with this.”
“That’s not why I told you.”
“No, I mean yes I trust you, but I told you entirely for selfish reasons. I like you, Lexa. A lot. And seeing me all hung up over Finn… I didn’t want you to think that I was stringing you along or anything. I do like you and I am over him. So over.” She rolled her eyes, terribly annoyed that her brain still went back to him and went over everything that had happened between them. “I guess I wanted to make sure that we were totally on the same page. Me: bi, over Finn, into you.”
“Not quite yet,” Lexa murmured.
There was a pause. And then Clarke snorted. “Oh my god, Lexa! Did you just make a dirty joke?”
“I have been known to, on occasion.”
“I like it,” Clarke teased, biting her lip because she did. She liked that a lot.
“Alright then.” Lexa coughed, obviously awkward, and Clarke’s grin pushed at her cheeks. She was relieved that Octavia couldn’t see her like she was, hugging her pillow and grinning the goofiest grin. She would never live that down. “Clarke?”
“I do understand if you would like to delay our date. You say you’re over him but he has obviously hurt you.” Was that anger in Lexa’s voice? Clarke couldn’t tell, but Lexa’s voice seemed tighter than usual, more controlled, and yeah she thought that might mean that Lexa was angry. “I am very happy to wait until you feel more comfortable,” she said. But Clarke wasn’t having that.
“No. No way, he’s not ruining something else for me. You’re sweet and I appreciate it, but I cannot wait to go on a date with you.”
“Very well.” Lexa wanted to point out that he wouldn’t be ruining it - if Clarke needed more time then she needed more time and she was more than happy to give that to her - but she was pleased that Clarke wanted to go out with her. “In that case, a new exhibit arrived at the Old Museum last weekend that I thought might be enjoyable. You have tomorrow free from class, yes?”
“I know it might be a little quick-”
“No! Tomorrow is good!” Clarke confirmed.
“Alright. Then would you like to go see that? With me?” she clarified. “We can do something else if you would prefer, of course.”
“This is the dinosaur exhibit, yeah?”
“Lexa,” Clarke said, very serious. “I would love to go look at the dinosaur exhibit with you.”
The other girl cleared her throat. “Okay. Cool.”
Clarke bit her lip so as not to comment on the soft, nervous tone or the lack of formality because she was afraid that maybe it would send Lexa rocketing right back into that stiff tone. But hearing the quiet and shy Lexa sent a warm feeling right through Clarke and even more so when she considered that maybe, right at that very moment, Lexa would be smiling that small smile she adored so much.
“Okay then,” was all Clarke said, but she pushed as much warmth into her voice as she possibly could.
They sat together for a moment longer, just silently, their only connections to one another their hones and the same delicate, happy feeling in their veins.
“I don’t mean to be rude, Clarke,” Lexa said then, “but Raven is gesturing to me quite urgently so do you have anything more to say?”
“Oh. No, no, you can go if you need to. I just like listening to your voice.”
“I understand. I feel the same way. One moment.” She must have covered her phone then because Clarke only heard the faintest of muffled words and then Lexa was back. “If I leave soon, I can be at your apartment in half an hour.” A pause, then. “Forty-five minutes, Raven says. She is - oh, I see. Yes. Alright. That’s a nice idea.”
“What’s a nice idea?”
“Nothing. We will see you in forty five minutes,” Lexa told Clarke. “If that is amenable?”
“Oh sure, yeah it’s cool. I’ll double check with Octavia and text you in a few.”
“Wonderful,” Lexa said and hung up.
Clarke looked down at her phone, eyebrows pulled up in surprise. “Alright then,” she murmured, wanting to laugh a little because Lexa had just gone, just like that. She was constantly surprising her with things she did and said. She wanted to know what she had been talking to Raven about. “Time to face the day,” she said, mostly to her feet because her floorboards would be cold and she wasn’t sure she was brave enough for the four steps it would take to get to her drawers to pull out a pair of socks.
Octavia would help her.
“O!” she yelled and smiled when she heard her friend trudging in her direction. Smiled more when Octavia awkwardly opened the door - with her foot, she saw when it swung open - and stood in the doorframe with a bowl in the crook of one arm and a mixing spoon uncomfortably gripped in the cast clad other.
“Can you get me some socks? Please?”
Octavia’s smile dropped into a surly, more morning appropriate glare. “Fine. Plain or colourful?”
“Of course colourful,” Octavia muttered, setting the bowl down on Clarke’s desk. “Of course you don’t bloody have any in your drawer. Give me a minute!” she called over her shoulder, sliding on her own socked feet to the laundry.
Eventually, Clarke was napping with her head on Octavia’s lap a good hour or so after Lexa had hung up on her. The other girl spoke quietly to Lincoln over the phone, gently carding her fingers through Clarke’s hair.
“Yeah, they’re on their way,” she said to him. “Of course, I’d love that. Just let me check. Clarke?” She tapped her friend’s forehead, smiling when Clarke whined and wrinkled it against the feeling. “Is it alright if Lincoln stays over tonight?”
“Thanks babe.” She bent awkwardly over, doing her best not to shift her lap so Clarke wouldn’t have to move at all, but couldn’t get Clarke’s forehead so she kissed her finger and tapped it on Clarke’s nose.
“Love you too.” Octavia went back to her phone. “Oh, no, I was talking to Clarke but yes I love you too. Yeah. Uh huh. Uh huh. No, he didn’t say much.” Octavia listened for a moment. “Yeah. Okay. Clarke?”
“What now?” She turned and pressed her face harder into Octavia’s thigh, sighing.
“Lincoln wants to chat,” she said soothingly, brushing through her hair again.
Clarke groaned but reached her hand up blindly to accept the phone. “Yeah?” She listened for a bit, yawning. “Yes. No, we kind of just yelled - yeah. No. I told her. Yeah, she was cool with it. Okay, yeah. Yeah, I’d like that. Okay.”
“Like what?” Octavia asked.
“If Lincoln draws with me this evening. Would that be okay?”
Octavia almost wanted to say no, or complain. The words were right there but she swallowed them and paid them no mind, smiling instead because she knew that Clarke would love the time to sit and draw with Lincoln and she also knew that at the end of the day she would still be able to sit and cuddle with him. Besides, it wasn’t like they would ignore her while they did their thing.
“Sounds good,” is what she ended up saying and Clarke was relieved because she thought, perhaps, she really needed it.
It was another ten or so minutes and Clarke was very almost asleep, happily wrapped in Octavia’s arms when she hung up and shifted to lay with her, when a familiar voice broke into their little home.
“Sup nerds! How are we all feeling today?”
“Hello Raven,” Octavia and Clarke chorused, cuddled together on the couch.
“You two,” the girl said, dropping into the armchair, “have the strangest relationship I have ever seen.”
“It’s called love, Raven.” Octavia tightened her hold and smiled when Clarke rubbed her nose into her shoulder. “Pure love.”
“To clarify - are you two dating?”
“No,” they said.
“Oh good. Because Lexa was so fucking nervous asking you on a date, Clarke. And coming over here today, she basically pushed me into the car and she changed her outfit literally four times. I’d hate to think you’re double timing anyone.”
“First of all - polyamory does exist thank you very much,” Octavia argued on Clarke’s behalf. The blonde was too tired to do it. Plus, Octavia wanted to. “And second of all, that is super cute. Where is she?”
“Here,” Lexa said, vaguely from the direction of the kitchen. “And she’s lying. I wasn’t nervous.” Raven shot Octavia a knowing smirk. “The real reason we are late is becausesomeone insisted on stopping at three different stores on the way.”
“Oh please. I might have helped you but this was all your idea. And, quality is quality. I’m not settling for sub-standard crap, alright? Sue me.” Raven crossed her arms. “Also,” she continued, another thought occurring to her, “I was just trying to help out. If you’re going to impress a girl, you have to put some thought into it. So I’m like, the greatest friend- wait, rewind. I’m the best friend for that, okay?”
“Your enormously inflated ego aside,” Lexa said, snide, “you really did come up with all of this.”
“All of what?” Octavia asked. She disentangled from Clarke, ignoring her whine, and sat up. She then poked Clarke until she did the same - still whining and rubbing at her eyes - and they propped their chins lazily on the back of the couch and looked into their kitchen.
Octavia saw the fresh orange juice, the chocolates, the alcohol, and the bright and lovely flowers in reds and yellows and oranges. She also saw Lexa and smiled.
Clarke only saw Lexa.
She had her hair out again, loose and tucked forward over one shoulder. A bare shoulder, Clarke noted, because Lexa was wearing a dress with thin straps and her shoulders were all golden skin and Clarke found that she was drifting towards Lexa. She stumbled into the kitchen counter because she couldn’t tear her eyes away and she forced her hands into fists because touching Lexa out of nowhere would be creepy, she knew that, but at least she had to be by her side.
Lexa jumped when she turned and saw that Clarke was standing there and just…staring at her.
“Clarke,” she said because she had only said her name fourteen times that morning and it wasn’t enough. “Is everything alright?”
“Yeah.” Clarke blinked. “It’s just that every time I think I’m used to how beautiful you are, you go and surprise me and I find that I’m not.”
Lexa flushed instantly, her eyes moving away, darting into the living room.
Octavia and Raven had been clever enough to make themselves scarce (as best they could) and had removed themselves from the conversation, talking quietly between themselves, Octavia balanced on the arm of Raven’s chair. So it was just Lexa and Clarke in the kitchen and their conversation just between them and that didn’t make it any easier really because Lexa’s heart was pounding double time and she smoothed her hand over her own curls once, twice, and shook her head.
“Clarke,” she said with a hint of a laugh, a hint of embarrassment. She made the mistake then of meeting Clarke’s eyes and was struck by the genuine awe she found there. All she could say was, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Clarke paused. Then, all in a rush, “Can I draw you?”
“Your dress,” she offered. “The lines are really lovely and I can’t look away.” And that was true but it wasn’t the whole truth. It was just everything about Lexa, she couldn’t explain it, it had just hit her all at once when she saw her that she needed to draw her. “I understand if you don’t want to be recognisably you. I won’t draw your face if you don’t want me to, that’s totally fine, but”
“No.” Lexa smiled. “That’s fine.”
“If you would like to, I am more than happy to oblige you.”
“I, great. Okay.” Clarke’s smile spilt over her face like sunshine and honey and everything golden and it was Lexa who was dumbstruck then and adoring. “Just give me a minute and I’ll grab my stuff.”
By the time she returned, Raven was already teasing Lexa.
“It’ll be hard to top me, of course. I was a great model. Very easy on the eyes, obviously, and plus my brace makes a sweet structural feature for artists. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m her favourite model, to be honest.”
“Raven, what are you talking about?” Clarke clutched her sketchbook and pencils to her chest and frowned at the girl.
“Right.” Lexa was looking away and Clarke scowled at Raven threateningly - she was very excited about drawing Lexa and if Raven did anything to sabotage that, well, she didn’t know what she would do but she wouldn’t be pleased. “Lexa, maybe we can do this in my room instead. You two, shut up!” she said, pointing at the now suddenly innocent as babes pair, both feinging surprise, outrage, and hurt.
“So rude, Clarke.”
“That is so rude. I didn’t say a thing.”
“Neither did I.”
“We didn’t say a thing.”
“And that’s how you treat us?”
“Your closest friends?”
Clarke turned on her heel. “Let’s go, Lexa.”
Lexa did as she was asked (told) without a second thought. Her eyes dipped low and caught sight of Clarke walking ahead of her and she followed happily.
Raven and Octavia followed. When they stood at Clarke’s doorway and made kissing noises, Clarke closed the door in their faces and turned on the radio to tune them out.
“How would you like to do this?” Lexa asked, standing still and stiff in the middle of the room.
“Well, you’ll have to be okay with sitting for four hours and holding a live snake.”
“What?” Lexa blinked, eyes wide.
“I’m kidding,” Clarke said and she walked past Lexa to her desk, dragging her fingers along the skin of Lexa’s arm when she did. She also gave her a sweet smile and her stomach fluttered when Lexa returned it. “You’ve seen me sketching Octavia before, haven’t you?”
“I have, yes.”
“Well it’s like that. I’m pretty informal so I guess,” Clarke looked around her room. “You can wander around, look at stuff, sit on the bed if you want to. Anything. I just…” She squeezed her hands into fists and then loosened them, blowing her breath out quiet. She laughed a little, unsure how to describe the feeling. “I just really want to draw you,” she said, shrugged, feeling so much like that didn’t capture it at all.
It was very much a need, for one.
And Lexa looked so beautiful and striking and her hair, god, Clarke thought maybe she could spend forever and a day drawing her hair and never tire of it. And her eyes and the way she moved, so confident and yet so contained… Clarke shook her head.
She didn’t know how to put it into words.
Lexa released her from the obligation of having to when she moved, ducked her head, and smoothed her hair over her shoulder again. She nodded. “Alright.” She pointed, then, to the wall where charcoal sketches covered the white paint. “May I?” Lexa kept her eyes on Clarke until the blonde nodded her permission. But as soon as she did, Lexa turned and looked and her eyes devoured every inch of that wall from the smallest faintest sketch Clarke hadn’t yet finished to the large central image, the earth, in the middle of the wall.
Clarke drew her like that. Hair cascading over her shoulder all ringlets and curls and half circle light reflecting and the curve of her neck and those eyes and lips and chin upturned and she was a scattered thing across the page and that seemed almost a violation against how self-possessed and singular Lexa was but it was impossible to to because she was three pairs of lips, more, drawn across the page one after the other, those ones not quite right, those half finished because the image faded before Clarke could get it down and when she looked up to check again, Lexa’s smile was different again and just as beautiful so that was the next one to try. She was a hand pointed upwards, hands pulling her hair to her other shoulder, hands skating over the wall not quite touching, hand folded into the other hand and pressed into her stomach as thought Lexa had just reminded herself look, don’t touch.
Over and over Clarke reminded herself of the lie - the dress, it was the dress she wanted to draw - because yes it was a beautiful dress but it was Lexa’s face she kept returning to and especially those features upturned lips and crinkles by her eyes that said smiling, that saidhappy.
Lexa eventually tore herself away from the wall, cheeks lightly flushing with embarrassment and her voice full of apologies. “You wanted to draw me and I had my back to you all that time,” she said. “You are very talented,” she said as well when she sat on the end of the bed only a few feet from Clarke. Her fingers gripped the edge of the mattress, shoulders rolling in protectively. She brushed over her hair again and offered Clarke a half-smile.
“I’ve drawn plenty,” Clarke reassured her. Dipped her sketchbook a little to offer Lexa a glimpse of a page half full (her second page). She placed it on the desk then and turned back to Lexa, pushing against the floor to roll over. “Can I?” she asked, hand upraised, and when Lexa nodded, Clarke pushed her fingers behind Lexa’s ear and slowly, carefully, untucked Lexa’s hair and moved it to fall behind her back.
Lexa’s fingers twitched with the itch to pull it back. But she didn’t move to correct it so Clarke picked up her pencil and paper again and set tip to paper but, when she looked up and saw Lexa so close and looking directly at her, head cocked very slightly to one side, her desire to draw faded.
No. Not quite.
It was just that she wanted something else much more.
“Can I?” she asked again, intent very clear when her eyes dropped to Lexa’s lips and she lifted her hand to Lexa’s cheek. She smiled when the other girl nodded firmly. Twice.
She pushed a little closer with tiny nudges of her toes on the floor and when it didn’t work, Lexa reached out and gripped the back of the chair, pulling Clarke flush up against the bed next to Lexa’s legs.
It was breath-taking, the way Lexa leant in and kissed her. Clarke had meant to take a moment, to examine the way her eyelashes fluttered closed, the way Lexa opened her lips very slightly to draw in a breath. But this was so much better.
Lexa was so gentle about it. She leant it and caught Clarke’s lip softly, pressing against her. Her hand came up to cradle Clarke’s cheek and Clarke settled her on hand on Lexa’s waist. She shifted a little. Pushed her other hand through Lexa’s hair to cup the back of her neck, and Lexa pulled away. Their noses grazed and then Lexa was back, kissing her again more firmly.
Clarke pulled back.
“Did I do something wrong?” Lexa asked, hand dropping away immediately.
“No.” Clarke licked her lips. “I just kind of want to kiss you all day and-”
“Is that all?” Lexa shrugged. “It is a Sunday, Clarke. I have no other place to be and no where else I would like to be.”
“So, you have no objections to that?”
“Alright then.” And Clarke stood from her chair, swung her leg over Lexa’s, and her knees pressed hard down into the mattress bearing most of her weight. She had to look down at Lexa, just for a moment. She was stunning. Striking. Utterly, utterly beautiful and Clarke couldn’t believe that it had come to this.
“Are you waiting to ask permission again?” Lexa asked, her own hands hovering inches away from Clarke’s hips. Just in case.
“No.” Clarke twirled a strand of Lexa’s hair around her finger, brushed the fingers of her other hand very lightly up Lexa’s neck to her chin. Smiled when she shivered. “In a moment.”
“In order to speed up the process,” Lexa said, “you may kiss me whenever you please.”
Clarke bit her lip, trying (and failing) not to show how pleased she was with that. “So tomorrow, when you come meet me for our date,” she asked, “I can kiss you then?”
Lexa nodded. “Yes.”
“And when we’re at the museum? Can I kiss you then?” Clarke was stroking lightly at Lexa’s neck as she asked, feeling the steady thrum of her pulse pick up as she leant closer, lowered herself onto Lexa’s lap, dropped a kiss to her cheek and another at the corner of her lips.
“Yes,” Lexa said, and Clarke was impressed by how steadily she spoke.
“And after the date is over, if I want to press you against the front door,” she said, voice low, “and kiss you until your knees are weak, that would be alright too?”
Lexa could only nod then because Clarke’s lips were right over hers and dammit she knew that Clarke would be able to tease her for it but she licked her lips and her eyes dropped shut and she tilted up her chin just a little more because she wanted Clarke to just kiss her already.
So she did.
The date was going well.
Lexa knew it by the small smile Clarke shot her over her shoulder as they walked into the museum, the way she stood very close by Lexa when they bought their ticket, fingers tucked neatly in her back pocket, the way Clarke stood behind her and rested her chin on Lexa’s shoulder as she tried - and failed - to tell Clarke about the Rhoetosaurus they had on display.
“You’re distracting me,” she murmured. Clarke dug her fingers lightly into Lexa’s waist.
“How can I if you are distracting me?” Lexa wiped slightly damp hands on her jeans, for what felt like the hundredth time. “Clarke,” she murmured. Clarke just laughed.
“Keep going,” she said again, but she took a step away and crossed her arms to stand next to Lexa. “I like hearing you talk about it.” But before Lexa could continue, she was talking again. “How do you know so much? I thought you were studying English.”
“And Business, yes. Doesn’t lend itself to learning about dinosaurs,” Lexa agreed. “I like them.”
Lexa laughed, cutting herself off quickly when the loud noise drew too much attention. She apologised under her breath but her smile, quick and full, remained. “I think they’re cool,” she said, and her smile was the sweetest thing (she had thought that before, Clarke had, but each time it was sweeter and she didn’t want that to end). She smiled and Clarke laughed too.
She didn’t apologise to the frowning faces.
“You think they’re cool,” she repeated. The words were informal and held none of the abashment of the childish proclamation it sounded like, not when it came from Lexa so confident and easy. “Okay,” Clarke said. “Tell me about it then,” she asked.
She didn’t hear a word and Lexa knew it but she talked and talked anyway because Clarke’s eyes were fixed on her and she liked the way it felt. She smiled at Clarke. Then blinked. “Pardon?” She had missed a word, something she said, and Clarke was smiling at her in a laughing way - beautifully. “I was distracted.”
“By you.” Lexa looked away. She didn’t see it, but she heard Clarke laugh again. With just a hint of a snort, but so full of affection. It made her throat tight and she looked high up to the head of the fossilised bones until Clarke spoke again.
“I asked if you wanted something to eat. I’m starving.”
“Oh!” Then Lexa looked away from the dinosaur, aghast. “Yes! Of course, I’m sorry.” She kicked herself for being so distracted. She pointed to the cafe at the end of the room. “They have great sandwiches,” she told Clarke, betraying perhaps that she had been here more times than she had admitted. She took Clarke’s hand and pulled her that way. When Clarke caught the way her hand started to pull away after just a moment, and caught the nervous glance she sent down to their joined hands because she wasn’t entirely certain if it was okay even though her lips still tingled from the kiss they had shared earlier that morning, Clarke tightened her grip and rubbed her thumb over the back of Lexa’s hand.
“Perfect,” she reassured Lexa. “Hot chocolate too?”
“Probably.” Definitely. Lexa couldn’t help but wonder what Clarke tasted like after chocolate. Syrup, she knew. Orange juice, she knew. Not yet chocolate.
“What are you thinking about?” Clarke asked, curious about the way Lexa was looking at her. “Lexa?”
“Oh.” Clarke smiled. Her chin lifted a notch, her walk took on a touch of swagger. “Is that so?”
“You have a rather large ego. It’s not attractive.”
“Yes it is.” Clarke nudged her. “It makes you hot for me.”
“No it doesn’t.”
“Yes it does, you liar.”
Lexa rolled her eyes. She laughed when Clarke rolled her own. “I’m going to kiss you now,” she said.
“You don’t have to ask. Or announce it every time, you - mm.” Clarke closed her eyes and pressed into the kiss. It was awkward, her smile pulled her mouth tight, but it was wonderful still and Clarke slipped two fingers under Lexa’s collar and pulled lightly, pulled her closer.
The little gasp Lexa gave her was delicious.
Lexa’s phone rang. They ignored it. Clarke pulled them both out of the way of the cafe door, into a small alcove hidden enough that Lexa thought Clarke had been here many times before - that, or she had a wonderful, wonderful gift for finding good places to kiss. To kiss. Lexa felt a heat rush through her and she ran her hand up Clarke’s neck, up to her cheek, and held her close. Kissed her fiercely. Clarke might have been there with him. And if she had, Lexa was going to make damn certain that those kisses - those previous kisses, that boy - were nothing compared to her.
She forgot to care about him, or her, or whoever Clarke had kissed when the blonde pushed her hard back against the wall. Lexa’s head dropped back and she laughed softly. “Pause,” she huffed. “Peace.”
“There is no peace in love or war,” Clarke said before she nipped at Lexa’s neck, making her arch into her, hands grip at her shirt.
“That’s not the quote, Cla-arke!” Lexa broke her name in two, eyes flashing open when Clarke slid her hand just under Lexa’s shirt, fingertips barely skating over her hip. “Hold on,” she said, and Clarke moved back to the opposite wall of the alcove.
“I thought you said you were hungry.” It took a moment, distracted as she was by the hot and tangible feeling of Clarke’s fingers on her skin still, to put together Clarke’s smirk and the innuendo. When she did, she rolled her eyes. “For food. What are you, twelve?”
“On a scale of one to ten I am.”
“What did I say about ego?”
“I forget. But you did kiss me right after whatever you said so it was probably something good.” Clarke laughed when Lexa huffed - she very, very much liked to tease her, she was discovering. “So. Lunch then?”
“Yes.” Lexa held out her hand. “Lunch.”
They were waiting at their table for their meal when Lexa remembered the call.
One new voicemail, the screen read and she frowned. “Do you mind?” she asked Clarke, who just shrugged. “Thank you.”
“Hey Lexa,” the message began. “I know you’re on your first date and all, congrats by the way I want to hear all about it and I bought some pizza and vodka to have a congrats on having your first date party celebration feat yours truly - oh, right, that’s not what I was calling about. I just thought you should know there is a very, very attractive woman lounging on your bed. Came home after my morning class - Dr Jerk was so boring yet again - and then boom! There she is on your bed. Did I mention she’s very attractive? Oh, she’s looking at me. I’m going to buy her a coffee. Toodles, my noodle.”
Replayed the message.
“What on earth…” she murmured.
Clarke looked up from her own phone - smiled at the waitress setting their food down on the table - and nudged Lexa’s foot with her. “What is it?”
“I don’t know.” Lexa hesitated. “I’m sorry, is it okay if I call Raven back?”
She looked uncomfortable at the suggestion - it bit at her, the impoliteness of it, and also the fact that she just wanted to spend a few happy hours with Clarke and just Clarke - but she was uncomfortable too at the idea of a stranger in her room.
Clarke nodded. “Yeah, go for it. I’m going to eat your chips while you’re gone though, fair warning.”
“Save some for me.”
Lexa narrowed her eyes. She debated for a moment whether to call Raven at all, whether her time might be better spent defending her food, but no. She stood and walked to the balcony of the cafe. Turned, caught Clarke taking another chip, and sighed.
A quick conversation then.
“Lexa, hey. What’s up?”
“I’m calling about the voicemail you left. Five minutes ago.”
“Oh. Sure, right. What’s up?”
“You tell me. What do you mean by ‘there’s a woman on my bed’?”
“Okay first of all I know that I used the words ‘very’ and ‘attractive’ at least once. And what I mean is that there is a hot woman on your bed. Scary hot.”
Lexa pinched the bridge of her nose. “What does she look like?”
“Umm.” Raven took her time in answering. “Attractive.”
“Thank you, you have established that. Can we move past that now into something useful?”
“Alright, alright, don’t get your knickers in a knot. Leather jacket. Eyeliner. Long hair - brown, dark brown. Black jeans, boots, a glare that could kill a man and make a girl swoon. Tattoo. Did I mention hot?”
Lexa squeezed her eyes shut tight. Nerves crept up her spine and she could feel her shoulders tightening. “Where are you?”
“On my bed.”
“Can you please ask her name then?” she gritted out.
Raven paused. “Oh. That’s a good idea. Hey!” she called out to the girl. “What’s your name?” There was a faint murmured reply. “Cool. Says her name is Anya.”
“That’s what she said.
On the phone, Raven was surprised by the way the tension rushed out of Lexa’s voice, leaving it soft. “Okay?”
“Can you please put her on the phone?”
“Ugh. Fine.” Lexa listened to the sounds of Raven rolling off her bed. What was probably her cane falling to the ground, followed by a series of swears. “Here.”
“Thanks,” Lexa heard. She couldn’t help but smile. “Sup nerd.”
“What are you doing in my room?”
“Tut tut, Lex. Is that anyway to greet your big sister?”
Lexa rolled her eyes. “Good afternoon, Anya. What are you doing in my room?”
“Can’t a girl come for a visit?”
“You can. You never have before.”
“You say that like you’ve been here for more than a few months.”
“It’s been almost two semesters.”
“Oh.” Anya scratched at her chin. “Well, fine. But before, you didn’t have a girlfriend that made you forget to call me.” Anya flicked the photo frame of her and her little sister on Lexa’s bedside table. “I’m hurt, Alexandria.”
“Don’t call me that. You know it makes my skin crawl.”
“Whatever, Lex.” Anya looked up, over at Raven, who was standing and staring at her with a happy grin, alternating between happy actually and intrigued. And appreciative, her glance moving up and down Anya’s body. “Your roommate is hot, by the way,” Anya couldn’t resist saying.
Raven’s grin grew, along with her ego.
Anya winked, brought a finger up to her lips to shush her, and turned the phone on loud speaker.
“Okay, no. No no no. That’s not happening,” Lexa’s voice crackled out of the phone. “I’ll be there as soon as possible. Keep it in your pants.”
“You’re not the boss of me,” Raven couldn’t resist saying.
“I swear to god, Raven.” Lexa scowled when Anya laughed and hung up on her. She stared down at her phone, aghast, then strode back to Clarke. “We need to go,” she bit out.
“What?” Clarke asked, talking around a chip. She didn’t even bother to pretend she hadn’t eaten half the bowl.
“She hung up on me!”
“We need to go,” Lexa repeated, even as she sat down and pulled the bowl of chips away from Clarke. “After lunch.”
“I also want to check out the room we passed on the way in. And the shop.”
“Also that one we didn’t get to, the one with the plants.”
“Okay.” Lexa agreed to it all, Clarke’s hand stroking down her wrist in distracting patterns. She even smiled when Clarke kissed her cheek softly, knowing full well that Clarke was relieving her of yet more chips.
“Wow Lex, you took your time. I thought for sure you would hurry back. She must be a hell of a - woah.” Anya’s eyes widened. “This is your girlfriend?”
“Hey.” Clarke waved, stepped out from behind Lexa and into the dorm room. “I’m Clarke. Anya, right?”
“In the flesh.” Anya looked down at the hand Clarke offered. “You’re the reason Lexa didn’t call me last week,” she said, voice hardening. Clarke’s hand wavered. “You’re distracting her,” she continued. “I’m not sure I like that.”
“You don’t like your sister being happy?” Clarke retorted. She didn’t back down in the slightest, even when Anya stepped forward to tower over her by a good four, five inches. She was, however, a touch confused when Anya smiled.
“I was just playing,” she said. She took the hand Clarke offered, shook it firmly, warmly. “It’s really nice to meet you, Lexa’s said a lot of really good things about you.”
“Lexa hasn’t told me much about you so I guess I’m at a bit of a disadvantage.”
“Lexa’s a closed book, that’s for sure.”
“She’s not.” Anya tilted her head at Clarke’s statement. Waited for her to go on. Clarke just shrugged. “She’s not.” She’s much more than that, were the words hidden behind it. But Clarke just smiled and moved further into the room. “Coffee?”
“Yes, thank you Clarke.”
“Coffee. Do you want one?”
“Nah, I have to go to class in five.” Raven looked up from where she was repacking her bag. “Can you make it to go, actually? I have a travel cup. In the top left cupboard. That’s the one. The blue cup.”
“Got it.” Clarke set it down on the counter, and pulled out three more cups. Lexa’s favourite, a plain mug, and one with numbers all around it. “Is this okay?” she asked Anya, gesturing to the numbered mug.
“It’s the one Lexa gave to me actually. How did you know?”
Clarke tapped her nose. “Secret.”
“It has your name written on the bottom,” Lexa said from her bed. She toed off her shoes and had already draped her jacket over the back of her study chair and she padded over to join Clarke in the kitchen.
Anya watched as they moved together, and shared their little smiles, and drifted closer than need be, and she tapped her fingers on the counter. “Actually,” she said before Clarke could pour her drink, “I’m going to go with Raven.”
“You are?” Lexa asked.
“You are?” Raven echoed.
“I am. You’re mech, yes?” Raven nodded. “I have a couple of things I wanted to have a play with in your lab. Think you can get me in?”
“Well, you’ll have to go through rigorous testing,” Raven said as she opened the door for Anya, “by yours truly to make sure that you’re worthy to enter our lab. What’s your take on the robotic processes of Dr-” Her voice drifted as they moved down the hall.
Lexa frowned. “I’m not sure I like where that is going,” she said.
“What? Don’t like me and Raven hanging out?” Anya asked, having returned quickly. She grinned, seeing she had made Lexa jump.
“I hate it when you do that.”
“I know. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you to be dressed and ready by six. The parental units want to take us out to dinner.”
“Didn’t get the email?”
“No.” Lexa’s fingers tightened on the mug. “They tend not to tell me about these things.”
“Yeah. Figured.” Anya did her best not to look too sympathetic - it made Lexa itch. Instead she knocked on the door frame. “Got to go. Raven is going to show me how they got their robot to run.” And then she was gone again.
Clarke and Lexa drank their coffee in silence for a few minutes.
Clarke watched, leaning against the kitchen counter, as Lexa’s countenance shifted from cold and firm - worried, Clarke gathered, worried and bothered and perhaps a touch angry, if she was trying to act like she wasn’t bothered - to calm. It was the slightest of differences, more to do with something in the eyes and the set of the chin, the lips, all of it together meaning that Clarke found it a good time to push away from where she was leaning to touch Lexa very gently on her back, rub soothingly for a moment.
“Hey.” You alright? Is everything okay? It didn’t feel right for her to ask so she didn’t. “So that was your sister, huh?”
Lexa’s lips twitched upwards. “Yes.”
“She’s…” Clarke shook her head, made a small ineffectual searching gesture before giving up.
“Yes,” Lexa agreed. “She is.”
They moved to the bed. Clarke did, sitting on the end of it. Lexa sat in her study chair and turned it to face Clarke, burrowing her toes underneath the mattress to warm them.
“Are you two close?”
Clarke smiled. “What’s her favourite colour?”
“Purple. She insists that it’s black but it isn’t. She has black gloves with purple lining, and a black coat with little purple buttons.” She rolled her eyes. “She’s very insistent on being perceived as a bad ass though, so black.”
“Is she? Bad ass?”
“Yes. She’s also a jerk and a huge nerd.”
“So she acts like a sister, basically,” Clarke laughed. Lexa smiled, nodded.
“Why the interest?”
“She’s your sister.” Clarke sipped at her coffee. “I want to know more about you. I want to know where you came from, who you grew up with.” She backed off a little as the cold seeped back into Lexa’s expression. “Lex? You okay?” She did ask it that time, the words slipping out before she could stop them.
“Yes. I am,” she tacked on when Clarke didn’t look convinced. “I am.”
“Okay. Well, we’ve got a few hours before you have to start getting ready for a dinner. Do you want to watch Harry Potter with me?”
“That’s it?” Lexa asked. “You’re not going to ask me…”
“Lexa, Lexa,” Clarke stood quickly, stepped over Lexa’s legs to put her cup on the desk. She knelt next to Lexa and rubbed her knee, pushed her thumb into the muscle of her leg to soothe it, massage it. “No, I’m not. You’ll tell me when you want to or when you need to, right? Or you’ll tell someone else, a friend, Anya, someone.” Lexa nodded. “Then all I really want to do is make you happy.” Clarke grinned. “There’s a dinosaur documentary on Netflix. I added it to my list when we were at the museum.”
“You’re a dork,” Lexa chided, bending down to kiss Clarke. She made a small surprised noise when Clarke pushed up but she followed her with her mouth until she couldn’t, until Clarke had stood fully and was out of her reach. To her surprise, she felt her lower lip jut out in a pout.
Clarke saw it too, before Lexa could disguise it, and she laughed. Pulled Lexa to her feet.
“Come on,” she murmured against Lexa’s ear. “Let’s go to bed.”
“Get your mind out of the gutter, Lexa. I mean to watch a documentary.” She grinned when Lexa rolled her eyes and she spoke when Lexa opened her mouth. “I know. My ego. It does things to you.”
“Arrogance, despite what television might have taught you, is not charming.”
“Maybe not.” Clarke waited until Lexa was situated on the bed and she dropped next to her, using her rather limited strength to brace herself over her for a moment, dipping her head in a kiss. She brushed their lips together fleetingly. “But I am.” Another kiss to Lexa’s cheek, her chin. “Say it.”
Clarke pulled away, licked her lips. She settled her weight on Lexa’s thighs. “You’re not a very nice girlfriend,” she teased. Fingers tickled at the hem of Lexa’s shirt, not suggesting, just resting there and enjoying the feel of the cloth.
“Says the girl who won’t kiss her girlfriend.”
“Tell me I’m charming and then I’ll kiss you all you want.”
“All I want?” Lexa asked delicately.
Clarke smiled - charmingly, Lexa supplied the adjective in her mind. “All you want.”
“Fine. You’re charming.” Clarke hissed a quiet yes in triumph and bent down to reward Lexa - only to be stopped by a hand on her shoulder. She did her very best to keep a straight face when Clarke frowned, confused. “No kissing,” Lexa said. “I want to watch the documentary.”
She allowed herself a smile when Clarke rolled off her with a huff. And then another one when, two minutes into the show, Clarke slipped her hand into Lexa’s and lifted it to her mouth, kissing the back of it.
“You’re a charming sap,” Lexa told her.
“Shut up and watch your dinosaurs.”
“You ready for this?”
Lexa smoothed down the front of her dress. It was black and neat and ended just above her knees and it didn’t make her unbearably uncomfortable so she thought it was okay. What her mother thought would be another matter altogether.
She shook her hair back, ran a hand over the tight braid. “Do I look okay?”
Anya slung an arm around her shoulder. She was careful not to mess up Lexa’s hair, no matter what big sister instincts told her to, because she knew exactly the anxiety that was eating at the lining of Lexa’s stomach.
“You look great.”
“My hair too?”
“Your hair looks great.”
“Your shoes are appropriate, your makeup is nice yet understated, and you’ve got your game face on.” Anya gave her shoulders a squeeze. “You’re the perfect daughter.”
Both of them grimaced at the slight strain of bitterness in those words.
“Sorry,” Anya said. “Teenage angst.”
“Don’t put me in a box. Geez, kid, I thought you were different.”
“You’re very dramatic and your jacket smells of motor oil.” Lexa narrowed her eyes, shrugged away Anya’s arm. “How was hanging out with Raven?”
“And on that note,” Anya muttered. Stepped forward. She hesitated before knocking. Asked again - “You ready for this?”
Lexa gave her a brisk nod. “Of course.”
“Liar liar pants on fire.” She grinned when Lexa rolled her eyes and then she reached forward, closed the gap, and gave the door a firm rap. “Brace yourself.”
“What’s the worst that could happen?” Lexa asked.
They both winced.
She had to ask.
“Anya, dear, we have a doorbell. No need to beat the door down like some ape. And Lexa, you couldn’t have dressed up a little? We get to see you so rarely. Ah well.” Their mother clasped her hands in front of her, staring at them for a moment. “Come in then, girls.” She stepped aside to let them through and, while she closed the door, Anya winked at her sister.
“You’ve outdone yourself tonight, mother,” she said. When their mother preened, Lexa did the best she could to contain the sudden need to laugh. Anya was right. Point two seconds in and she’d been more annoying than usual. Definitely a new record. “Where’s Dad?”
“Oh he’s setting the table. Lexa, would you go help him?”
“Actually, me and Lex were going to pick up a couple of records I left here and -”
“Lexa and I,” their mother corrected. Clasped her hands tight, just like her lips pressed into a firm white line. “And that can wait. Your father is waiting, Lexa.”
“Of course.” Lexa gave her sister a wide, apologetic look when she was shot her own special ‘please don’t leave me alone with her’ eyes, but she already had a firm grip on Anya’s wrist and was guiding her to the study. “Sorry,” she mouthed. Anya shrugged, jerked her chin to the door of the dining room.
“Save yourself,” she mouthed back.
The dining room was Lexa’s least favourite room. High ceilings, a long black table too big for their family but absolutely perfect for uncomfortable evenings with a pantheon of guests they didn’t know, finishings that made her feel oh so much like she was in a museum instead of a home.
She dragged her fingers over a scratch in the wood. She grinned, remembering the way she and Anya had been playing, one of their stupid games or maybe a anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better competition, the like of which her entire childhood had been made up of, and then their complete horror when they saw that something they had pushed over - a dish, a heavy one - had left a very noticeable mark on the glossy black surface. Lexa ran her finger over the gouge and her smile faded when she remembered that her nanny had been fired the day after.
“Hello, darling,” a warm voice said. Lexa turned to the kitchen door. She smiled.
“Hey, dad.” He walked to her, wrapped her in a quick hug and dropped a kiss on the top of her head. “How’s work.”
“Ah work.” He patted her shoulder. “Work is good, work is...yes, it’s good.” His smile was tired, she noticed. Everything he did was tired nowadays. She reached up to run her fingers lightly over a spot of grey in his hair, along the line of his temple. “Long hours,” he explained, catching her hand. “Grab the napkins for me?”
They were in the same place as always. So were the sets of chopsticks that had never been removed from their packaging, the same old paintings that had always hung on the walls, and the green and ugly vase that always had a new bunch of flowers that Lexa never failed to hate. Everything was exactly the same.
“That’s not me, mother,” Anya snapped from the next room, the only words Lexa and their father heard before Anya stormed into the dining room followed the quick click step of their mother. “How are we doing, folks?” Anya forced a smile.
“Hunky dory, darling. You okay?”
“Good, good.” He handed Anya the cultery. “Help your sister?”
Lexa waited until he had taken her mother by the elbow and gently led her out of the room, waited for them to start to talk in hushed murmurs, before she moved to Anya’s side and started laying the napkins on the table.
“You okay? For real?”
“She’s just…” Anya shook her head. It worried Lexa. They didn’t keep stuff from each other - details, maybe, but not what had happened. Not when their mother was involved at least. Lexa raised her eyebrows. “Don’t worry about it,” Anya said, and Lexa continued to worry.
She knew that tone.
That was ‘I’ll teach you how to run properly even if I get in trouble for it.’
That was ‘I’ll sneak into your room at night and make sure you’re sleeping okay and look for monsters under the bed, even though mum and dad think a six year old should be over that by now’.
That was ‘I’ll walk you to school and beat up those bullies for you’.
That was ‘I’ll protect you from anything and everything. Even if I get in trouble’.
Lexa hated that tone. Because every time without fail, Anya did get in trouble. She hated that. She loved it, because Anya would do anything for her and she would do anything for Anya and she could count the number of people who would do the same for them on one hand, but she hated it because it was always her fault.
Her coming home with a tear in her dress and a scraped knee, explaining that they’d been running and she fell. And Anya being taken into the study while Lexa swung her feet on the chair outside.
Her explaining that she was afraid of the monsters, that she could absolutely definitely hear them scraping their claws on the floorboards in her cupboard, under her bed, and Anya being taken back to her room and made to stay there. Scolded - loudly - for telling Lexa scary stories, for perpetuating a childish state of mind.
Her with a bruised lip and a proud set to her shoulders telling her parents she stood up for herself and Anya had her back and they made such a good team being taken to the kitchen and having her swollen lip checked, her knuckles washed, and Anya. Lexa was fairly sure she’d been taken to the study again.
But that time, she’d been old enough to leave. And she had. Moved out a week later, found an apartment with a friend, a new job. Still walked Lexa to school, though.
“Tell me,” Lexa said, and she lifted her chin up so she could stare her older sister right in the eyes.
“No. It’s nothing.”
“It’s not nothing. Tell me now or I’ll ask Mother myself.”
“No,” Anya hissed. She placed her hand on Lexa’s wrist. “Look, I’ll deal with it okay?”
Lexa’s jaw worked angrily. That was the point. How did Anya not understand? She didn’t have to deal with it alone - Lexa wanted to help.
“It’s about me, isn’t it?” she asked. There was a brief flash of triumph when Anya’s shoulders slumped and she looked to the ceiling.
“You know you’re too smart for your own good. You know that, right?”
“It’s not about you though.” Anya didn’t squirm when she lied. She had no visible tells. Lexa still know.
“Language, Alexandria!” their mother snapped, and Lexa felt - not for the first time - like telling her mother to just shut up because she was talking to Anya. But that would be way out of line and no matter how much she might want to, she couldn’t. Instead, her chin lowered, and she laid the last napkin perfectly into its place, and she murmured a demure apology. “No, this won’t do,” their mother said. She moved a place to the opposite side of the time.
Again, Lexa wanted to argue. Anya always sat next to her - why on earth would they change that when they never changed anything? Anya didn’t argue either, in fact she visibly swallowed whatever she wanted to say with a bitter look. Lexa frowned.
“I always sit with Anya,” she mentioned quietly.
“I said not tonight, Alexandria!” their mother snapped.
Lexa looked to the floor again.
“And how’s work, kid?” he asked Anya, cutting into his steak.
“It’s good. I’m working on coding a -”
“Let’s not talk work at the dinner table, Joseph.”
“Di,” he said.
“And let’s not talk with our mouths full, hmm?”
He swallowed. Cast a quick look across to Anya, who just sighed, shrugged, and leaned back in her chair.
An awkward silence fell. Lexa closed her eyes for a moment to fortify herself - it was her turn next.
“How are your grades, Alexandria?”
“High, mother. I’m maintaining sevens in three of my classes.”
“And the fourth?”
“I received a six for my last project.”
“A six,” she repeated flatly.
Lexa turned her knife over in her hand. “It was a group project,” she said.
She missed having Anya next to her. She missed being able to kick her under the table when she was uncomfortable and she missed just having her right there. Across the table, such an unnecessarily large table as well, she felt like she could barely see her sister let alone talk to her.
“I want to see those grades pick up, Alexandria.”
Lexa gripped her knife tight. “It’s Lexa.”
“My name,” she said, still soft, “is Lexa.”
“Your given name is Alexandria and I’ll thank you not to take that tone with me, young lady.” Those words, that tone, that was all Lexa needed to sink back into herself. She nodded politely, held her elbows tight at her side, and soon enough she placed her knife and fork together on the plate.
“May I be excused?” she asked, waiting for her mothers nod before she picked herself up and strode out of the room.
She made it to the bathroom, fingers shaking on the door handle, before she sucked in a deep breath. She fumbled with the zipper on the side of her dress, yanking it down. Tried again to breathe then and managed, bracing her hands against the marble counter.
In. One. Two. Three. Four.
Out. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six.
After a moment, she lowered herself to sit on the closed toilet. Lowered her head into her hands, and reached into the pocket of her dress to pull out her phone. That had been a deal breaker for the dress. Hidden pocket just big enough for her phone.
Her fingers were still shaking when she pressed call.
Clarke picked up after two rings. “Lexa? I thought you were having dinner with your parents.”
“Why are you whispering?” Lexa heard the sound of the television in the background, quickly shut off. “What’s up?”
“I’m hiding in the bathroom,” she admitted, and she didn’t let herself think of what Clarke might take from that, what kind of utterly weak person she might think Lexa was that she had to hide from her own family. Then she was thinking about it too much. “I’m sorry,” she said, almost stuttered. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have called, I just-”
“Hey, hey, no. Lex, it’s okay. I’m glad you called me.”
Lexa let herself believe that. Clarke had seen her, sweatpants and makeup less, geeking out about dinosaurs and she said ‘I’m glad you called me’ like she was glad, like she was happy, like it had made her evening.
“You’re in the bathroom?” Clarke continued. She could tell from Lexa’s ragged breathing that she wasn’t okay, wasn’t going to be able to talk, or maybe wasn’t going to be able to talk and pretend that she was okay, which was maybe a very important thing for Lexa to feel she was capable of. “What a coincidence.”
“It’s where we met for the first time. Two girls, both alike in hotness, in a bathroom where we lay our scene,”
“Are you...re-imagining Romeo and Juliet?”
“Well yeah. You said you were studying it in class, I thought I’d check it out. But of course ours is going to have a happier ending.” Clarke paused. “And we’re both girls.”
“You’re reading it because I am?”
“Are you kidding? You got so worked up about Romeo being shit and kissing Juliet without her consent, and then you got worked up about all the remakes of it and how brilliant some of them are, and then your nose did this little angry scrunch thing when you told me about that girl in your class who wrote it off as like, the ultimate worst play ever. Of course I’m reading this. Plus,” Clarke cleared her throat. “I’m maybe procrastinating one of my projects but that’s not the main reason.”
Lexa laughed quietly. She hated the way it was edged with a sniffle because she hadn’t cried about her family since she was twelve, nearly thirteen, and she wasn’t going to start now. “You should do your project.”
“Mm, yeah, I’ll get around to it. When does your dinner finish?”
“Started six-thirty. Mother will want to keep us here until at least ten.”
“Okay well, when you make your escape you are very welcome to come to my place. We can eat junk food and watch Jurassic Park.”
“Amazing. I know. I’m a great girlfriend.” Clarke choked on her breath. “I mean, I don’t mean to assume. I just. That just came out. I’m sorry, it’s okay if you don’t want to call us that.”
“Clarke.” There was a firm rap on the door and Lexa became suddenly aware that she was sitting on the toilet, talking to the girl she had been kissing, dress unzipped, hair probably ruffled, and her breathing picked up again.
She couldn’t go out looking like this.
“Lex, it’s me. Let me in.”
She shot up to her feet, unlocking the door, and Anya slipped into the room.
“Whoa. Okay. What are you and Clarke doing? Phone sex in the bathroom or something?”
“Shut up,” Lexa hissed, pushing the phone to Anya. “Just...talk to her while I fix myself okay?”
“Do I want to touch that?”
“We didn’t do anything. I just,” Lexa’s face broke a little and Anya suddenly understood why Lexa had fled. She didn’t say anything, just moved to the opposite wall and cracked open the small window high up to let some fresh air in. “Can you talk to her? Please?” Lexa reminded her sister as she tugged her zipper back up. She breathed in. Adjusted her breathing shallowly, her lungs feeling compressed by the dress. “I hate this,” she said. Anya squeezed her shoulder.
“Hey hot stuff,” Anya said into the phone. The death glare Lexa gave her was doubled in the mirror but it had no effect, just making her grin. Anya ran her fingers through her hair before ruffling it again, going for the optimal mess to hotness ratio. “She’s getting dressed. Oh, you didn’t know she undressed for you? You should probably talk about that sometime. What’s she wearing? Yeah, I’m not going to join in your games, that’s so inappropriate.”
“She didn’t say that,” Lexa said with a scowl.
“She did! I swear. Clarke,” Anya gasped. “I’m not saying that to her. Lex, you’ve got a dirty one here.”
“Anya, I swear to god, give me my phone back.”
“Sure, just a second. Uh huh. Uh huh. Love you too, boo.” Anya made kissing noises into the phone until Lexa snatched it off her.
She sighed heavily. “I am so, so sorry you were subjected to that, Clarke,” she said.
Clarke was just laughing. And laughing. She snorted, even, as one laugh came to an end and prompted another.
“Okay. I’m hanging up now,” Lexa said, rolling her eyes.
“Wait!” Clarke managed to get out. “Do you want to come around after? I’d love the company.”
“I-” Lexa hesitated. “I don’t know.”
“That’s okay. I’ll be up late anyway so text me or just come around and I’ll let you in.” Clarke hesitated. “You’re okay,” she said softly. “No matter what happens at this dinner, or doesn’t happen, or whatever. You’re okay.”
Lexa blinked down at her hand tight on the tap.
“Did you hear me, Lexa?” Clarke asked.
“Yes.” Very softly, very carefully.
“Alright then. I’m going to hang up now but my phone will be right next to me all night so…” she trailed off. “Bye.”
Lexa slid her phone back into her pocket. Smoothed down the front of her dress, turned and craned her neck to look at her back. Tugged at the waist of her dress to ease out the small crinkles but it was a lost cause.
“You can wear my jacket if it’s such a big deal,” Anya told her.
“No, please.” Anya was already shrugging out of it and Lexa gasped seeing the shirt she wore beneath - I’m too tired, feminist, & queer for this shit was stamped black and thick on a plain white shirt. “What?”
“You chose that shirt?”
“Oh. Well.” Anya shrugged. “I forgot to do my washing. It’s actually my roommates shirt.”
“Hmm.” Lexa shook her head no at the offer of the jacket, urging Anya to put it back on. She did, in jerky motions and somewhat somberly, pulling the jacket closed quickly and zipping it in a single forceful move. “Something you want to tell me?”
“Not yet, Lex.” Anya ran her fingers through her hair again. “Maybe later.”
“Ready for round two?”
“Want to try sneak out the window?”
They both turned to look up at the tiny window. It was nowhere near big enough for their heads, let alone their shoulders or hips. They still wanted to try.
“Girls.” Too late. Their father rapped on the door. “I know that going to the bathroom is a, uh, girl bonding time?” Anya grinned, rolled her eyes. “But dessert is served and your mother is having conniptions at the thought of it going cold.”
“We’re coming, dad.”
“This dessert is nice, mother.”
“I bought it from the bakery on High Street. Annabelle told me about it at the book club last Tuesday.”
“You don’t need to eat all of it, dear. It was a generous serving and your dress is looking, mm,” her mother lifted her eyebrows. “A little tight.”
“Are there any cute boys in your classes, Alexandria?”
“She hasn’t been looking, I’m sure,” her father joked. “Too focused on your work. Right?”
“I can make a booking with my hair dressed for next weekend, if you’d like. I really do think we should start taming that wildness, Alexandria.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Good. I’ll make the booking anyway. You can cancel if you really have to.”
“How about you make it when she thinks of a hairstyle she prefers?” Anya suggested. Lexa gave her a small smile - thankful - but it didn’t last long.
“They have books of styles there and really, she should go with the suggestion of a professional. It never hurts to try something new.”
Anya grimaced, mouthed an apology. She tried her best but even she couldn’t stop the bombardment sometimes.
“Well.” Their father clapped his hands, rubbed them together. “ Since dinner is over now, I’d like to finally hear a little more about your work, hmm?” he suggested to Anya.
She glanced briefly over at their mother, who smiled slightly and nodded. Lexa wasn’t sure what it was, but Anya seemed to fade a little. Her voice was tired, when she spoke, and her eyelids drooped a little.
“It’s nothing important,” she told him. “Some number crunching. It’s basically just electronic organisation.”
“Like a secretary?”
Anya’s shoulders tensed. Lexa knew that her hands were closed tight in fists, even without looking. “Yes, mother. Like a secretary. Nice, boring work. Nothing scandalous or unwomanly at all.”
Her mothers lips flattened at the snide comment but she continued on cheerily. “And you’re working tomorrow, yes?”
“It is getting late. Perhaps you should make your way home soon. I know you live somewhat far away and sleep is very important, even for young adults.” She smiled still.
Anya nodded. “Sure. Lex, let’s go.”
Their mother shook her head. “Alexandria? No, the university is only a short way away. You can stay, can’t you?”
“Yes, but I’m her ride home.”
“She can stay here tonight.”
“I have assignments,” Lexa said stiffly.
She felt like an idiot. She had seen what her mother had been doing over dinner and it hadn’t clicked until that moment that her mother was actually trying to separate them. Lexa just wasn’t sure yet if it was to get rid of Anya, or if it was to get her on her own.
“Your father can drive you early in the morning. It’s no trouble.”
“I’d much rather go home now,” Lexa said, pushing her chair back and moving to stand with Anya.
“Alexandria, we haven’t seen you in a month. It is no trouble for you to-”
“I have assignments, mother. You surprised me with this dinner and I was gracious enough to come but I have to leave now and you will respect that.” Anya’s eyebrows climbed higher at her sister’s firm tone. “I’m not certain what the point of tonight was but I’ve felt uncomfortable all evening and I would like to leave. Dad, thank you for tonight. Mother-”
“After all the trouble I went to tonight, this is the way you respond. Well, I’m sorry that you’ve been uncomfortable. All you had to do was tell me and I would have done something to help you. But no. You sit in silence and then at the end of the evening you tell me that it’s my fault? I’m sorry I can’t read minds, Alexandria.”
Lexa reached back to Anya, who took her hand instantly and squeezed it reassuringly.
She couldn’t tell whether her mother was right to be upset. Whether she had said something terrible and should apologise. But if Anya supported her, she could live with it.
“You’ve been sniping at Anya all evening,” Lexa said quietly.
“Do you not know what that means, mother? Sniping means to make petty or sly comments. Digs. Underhand verbal assault. Does that make it clearer, mother?”
“Alexandria! That is no way to talk to your mother.” In his slow, careful way she had always associated with kindness and now floundered, uncertain, her father folded his napkin and stood. “Apologise now.”
“My name is Lexa,” she snapped. “And I want to know why you’ve been attacking Anya.” She waited. Then, “Now!”
Anya slid her hand into the crook of Lexa’s elbow. “It’s not important,” she said, urged, tugging at her. “Come on. Let’s just go. Lexa, please,” she said when her little sister didn’t shift.
“You are important. And I know you know what is going on.”
She let herself be turned, let Anya yank her around. Her sister shook her head solemnly.
“Let’s go,” she urged, and Lexa let herself be led away and out the door. “Get in the damn car, Lex,” she snapped and Lexa slid in, buckled up, and waited for Anya to get out onto the road before she turned to look at her sister who was so tense she seemed locked into her seat, knuckles white around the steering wheel. “What?”
“Are you going to tell me what just happened?”
“No.” Anya gripped tighter at the wheel. “Yes. Just. Not now.”
“Okay. Can you take me to Clarke’s then?”
She opened the door for Lexa with a smile and then a hug and didn’t say a word when Lexa just took her hand, led the way down the hall to Clarke’s bedroom, and curled up on her bed. But she did hold her all night long and buried her face in Lexa’s shoulder in the morning, shy about morning breath and pillow marks and sleep mussed hair.
It was some kind of heaven to wake up to Clarke.
Her head was in Clarke’s lap, a hand sifting gently and slowly through her hair over and over. Her first step, naturally, was to roll away and shuffle her way blearily into the bathroom where Octavia had - very kindly the night before - set out a new toothbrush for her.
Teeth clean, she crawled back into bed with Clarke, took her hand, and returned it to her scalp. Clarke obliged, playing again with the soft curls upon curls.
“Did you go clean your teeth?”
“You got out of a perfectly warm and comfortable bed with me to clean your teeth?”
“Okay then,” Clarke said, smile obviously in her tone. “Just checking.”
Lexa waited a few moments, luxuriating in the gentle scrape of Clarke’s nails on her scalp and the slow tugs in her hair before she sighed.
“Why do you ask?”
“No, I’m serious, no reason. It’s just very cute, that’s all.”
“It’s good manners, Clarke.”
“Not even a good morning or anything. Nothing.”
Lexa turned her face, pressed it a little against Clarke’s knee. “Good morning, Clarke,” she said, and she hoped that her position hid the light flush of red that rose to cover her cheeks.
But Clarke didn’t mention it, just continued stroking Lexa’s hair and smiled again. “Good morning, Lexa.” She moved her laptop to her bedside table and lifted Lexa’s head with an “up” and a gentle urging press of her hand under her neck, shuffling down the bed so they were laying next to one another. “Hi,” she whispered and Lexa felt like pulling the blankets over their heads and hiding them away from the rest of the world. Clarke was looking at her with such simple and close affection she was sure she didn’t need anything more, and she certainly didn’t wish to share it.
“Hi,” she said back. Then, “Thank you for letting me stay here last night.”
“Any time.” Clarke shuffled a little closer. “So.” she paused. Lexa waited. “Are you okay?” she asked quietly, eyes ducking down so Lexa couldn’t read the worry in them. “You seemed a little upset last night.”
“Dinner with my parents was…” Lexa searched for the right word. “Trying.”
“Sure. trying. Trying is why you and Anya showed up like you each had your own personal storm clouds following you around.” Lexa turned away at that, onto her back, and her lips flattened.
“Sorry,” Clarke offered after a moment.
“No. You aren’t wrong.”
“No, I’m not. But sometimes it’s nice to apologize.”
“You didn’t mean it?”
“Not at all.”
“Clarke, that isn’t a good precedent to set! How will I know if you are genuine next time?”
“I’ll tell you.” Clarke tapped Lexa’s hand. “Good attempt at deflection, by the way, but I’m not biting. Do you want to talk about it?” Lexa hesitated. She did want to talk. But with Anya first. When she told Clarke that, the blonde just nodded. “Do you want to invite her over for breakfast?”
“What’s the time?”
Clarke arched back over to her laptop, tapping it to wake the screen. “Umm. Just past nine.”
Lexa sighed. “No. I think she’ll be at my dorm. I should go and talk to her.”
“Do you want breakfast first?”
Lexa shook her head no.
Lexa shook her head again.
Clarke sighed. “Water? That’s my third and final offer and I’m afraid you have to accept.” At that, Lexa nodded and mouthed a thank you. Clarke tapped her hand again to make her look at her. “Hey. If it helps at all, I had a really great time with you yesterday.”
It took a moment but that smile Clarke adored bloomed and Lexa’s socked feet shuffled in the blankets. Her cheeks darkened, just a touch. “I had a lovely time as well,” she murmured, catching Clarke’s eyes.
“Good. So, you want to do it again sometime?” Clarke grinned. “Because there is this great bookstore and bar I want to check out in the city.” She raised her eyebrows.
“I, yes, that sounds like fun.”
“Yes?” Clarke checked. Lexa nodded. “Okay. Okay, great.” She slid her hand up to Lexa’s wrist. “Can I kiss you?”
Lexa’s face exploded into a blush when Clarke laughed at her eager nod, but she couldn’t find it in her to care. There was only a gentle warmth and a flutter in her stomach and a want, kicking right up to a whole marching back of stomping when Clarke slid closer. Want stuttered an evolution into need when Clarke brushed her nose slowly against Lexa’s and her fingers delicately pressed against suddenly burning points of skin on Lexa’s neck.
Their kiss was quiet and slow, Clarke smiling into it. Lexa was the one to catch Clarke’s lip between her teeth and tug, soothing it with another sweet kiss.
Clarke took it as a challenge. Lexa had pulled a small sound from her, surprise and delight mixed, and Clarke thought it only fair to let Lexa experience the same.
“Can I touch you?” Clarke asked and Lexa whimpered at that. Clarke smiled. “Lex?”
“May I touch you?” Her fingers grazed Lexa’s side and Lexa let out a shaky breath.
“I - over the shirt?” Lexa suggested, a tightening around her eyes hinting that she perhaps thought Clarke wouldn’t be okay with that, would want more, that the suggestion was a bad one. But Clarke’s smile never shifted, in fact she took it very much as a go ahead and she nodded.
“May I touch you over your shirt?” she clarified. Lexa nodded. Clarke grinned. She didn’t have to, but the thought of teasing Lexa was a happy one. “Say it out aloud, please.”
Lexa huffed. “Clarke. Yes, I would like you to touch me.”
“You know,” Clarke said, “There’s no need to be grumpy.” That earned her a glare.
“I wouldn’t be if you would just - oh.” Lexa cut herself off in a sigh, eyes fluttering closed again when Clarke flattened her whole hand against Lexa’s waist. She was warm and smooth and Clarke was of the firm opinion that Lexa’s skin would feel better - smell and taste amazing too - but this, just this, was good. So good. It wasn’t time yet but this? Clarke could work with it, very happily.
“I’m just making sure I have your complete and willing consent, Lexa,” Clarke said, hand inching slowly up Lexa’s side. They were both still - Lexa, barely breathing in case the movement would dislodge Clarke; Clarke with no intent whatsoever of stopping but enjoying very much taking her time. “It’s the right thing to do in this kind of situation, right?”
Lexa nodded. “Ye-es,” she croaked out, Clarke’s hand taking that exact moment to fit neatly against Lexa’s ribs, just below her breast. “Oh my god,” she let out slowly. One hand came up to cover her face.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Lexa waited for Clarke to move for what seemed like an age but finally, with a huff, had to do it herself. She tugged on Clarke’s wrist, pulling her hand up that final distance and she pressed her lips closed firmly around a soft “oh” when Clarke’s hand cupped her breast. She cleared her throat. “Move please,” she commanded.
“Move away?” Clarke teased. She just smiled sweetly when Lexa glared at her again. “You’re so bossy,” she teased, and Lexa would have replied, only Clarke grazed her fingers ever so gently over her nipple and it was through the fabric of the shirt still but it sent shivers through Lexa. The soft and lovely laugh Clarke laughed at the expression on Lexa’s face - dual surprise and desire - was another bonus.
She wasn’t laughing for long. Lexa had placed her hand on her breast, and she was soft and morning rumpled next to her so it wasn’t really a time for laughter, she thought. Clarke moved closer, to lay right next to Lexa and she kissed her as delicately as she could, hand shifting to cup Lexa fully, to trail her fingers over her, knead and hold her, until her kissing wasn’t delicate anymore and Lexa had lifted a hand to clutch Clarke’s shoulder. She made the most wonderful noises each time Clarke shifted her pattern and when Clarke settled on gently kneading in a slow, regular pattern, she noticed Lexa’s hips settled into the same rhythm. Only very slightly. But enough to make Clarke’s breath catch at the idea of a future time when that would mean something. Big.
She nipped at Lexa’s neck, pulled her hand away to run trails over her side, her stomach, and Lexa combed a hand through her own hair.
“Clarke,” she hissed when the blonde dragged her blunt nails down Lexa’s side, contrasted with the slow soft kisses she pressed down the column of her neck.
“Yes?” she mumbled, loath to pull herself away.
“You scratched me.”
“Yes,” Clarke agreed. “How did it feel?”
Lexa grinned, eyes still closed. “Good.”
“Good.” Clarke lowered her head again, lips teasingly brushing at the skin. But before she kissed her again, she lifted her head. “Was that all you wanted to say?”
Lexa moved her hand to the back of Clarke’s neck and pressed, pushing her head down.
“Bossy,” she felt mumbled against her skin, before it was lost in nips and sucks along Lexa’s collarbone. The attention pulled a pleased sigh from Lexa and it was lovely but Clarke wanted to hear that groan again. The one Lexa had treated her to when they shared syrup kisses and - oh. Maybe if she…
Clarke pushed up and away from Lexa, grinning when she made a noise of complaint and reached for Clarke.
She was appeased when Clarke hovered over her, pushed a leg carefully between Lexa’s. “Is this alright?” she asked, searching for a reaction. On the lookout for any sign of nerves or a negative, but relaxing and pressing further against Lexa when the only response was a “yes, oh god” and wide brown-black eyes.
Lexa pulled Clarke down into a kiss, groaning when Clarke’s thigh pressed harder against her. It was entirely Lexa’s fault, that, her teeth had scraped lightly against the sensitive skin of Clarke’s neck and Clarke reacted.
“Jesus, Lexa,” Clarke laughed. “Warn a girl.”
“Where’s the fun in that?” Lexa answered, a little distracted as she ran her eyes over Clarke to decide where she wanted to sink her teeth next. She pushed her hands under the soft fabric of Clarke’s shirt, dug her fingers into the skin.
Clarke’s arms threatened to give out, and they did when Lexa tugged on her and urged her to lie on her so their bodies were aligned. Both of them took a moment then - it was warm in Clarke’s bed and they were both soft and Lexa smelled of shampoo and mint and Clarke like morning coffee and sunshine, the barest hint of sweat, and Lexa’s breath was shaking and hot against Clarke’s neck, her nose brushed up lightly leading her mouth to underneath Clarke’s jaw, nipping at the skin there.
“Kiss me,” she demanded of Clarke, who obliged.
It was hot, the kiss, hot and open and Lexa lost a little of herself the instant Clarke dragged her tongue along the seam of her lips, melted into the mattress, and her mouth fell open in a gasp. Her mouth, Lexa’s, tasted like toothpaste.
She wondered if Lexa had planned it. This.
No, she guessed Lexa just liked to brush her teeth first thing and that was almost better. Lexa, Clarke thought. Lexa brushed her teeth first thing in the morning. She wanted to make a note of the feeling that travelled through her then, like a small victory. She had learned something about Lexa and it was small and sweet and so Lexa. Though, if she had been planning for it, Clarke had no objections whatsoever.
“You’re smiling,” Lexa commented, gasping when Clarke sucked lightly on her neck. Light enough to not leave a mark, hard enough to make Lexa feel it.
“Because.” She sucked again, after moving the tiniest distance down her neck. She was intent on adoring every little bit of her.
“That’s not an answ- oh, oh-kay,” Lexa sighed, Clarke scraping her teeth against the patch of skin hard enough to make Lexa roll her hips down onto Clarke’s thigh. She pulled Clarke up to her, kissing her again, and there was more of tongue and teeth and Clarke happily went where the kiss led.
She couldn’t pinpoint the moment it changed. It wasn’t something that Lexa had done, or Clarke, but all of a sudden Clarke felt it had changed. There was a hint of desperation, a hint too much of teeth and nails digging into her back, and normally that wouldn’t bother Clarke. But something was different about it, something distant and rough in a way that Clarke wasn’t sure Lexa really intended. Clarke couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. She pulled back.
“Clarke,” Lexa groaned. But Clarke was already pulling away. “Clarke?”
“I, uh,” Clarke shook her head. “I don’t want to do this right now.” The words made Lexa flinch and slip out of the bed, stand, a reaction Clarke didn’t miss at all. “It’s not that I don’t want to. Honest. I really, really,” she paused, “really do. You’re beautiful and I like you a lot. But,” Clarke shrugged. “I’m really sorry, this doesn’t feel...right.”
“Right,” Lexa echoed.
“I don’t know.” Clarke sighed and pushed her hands through her hair. “It felt like maybe you were doing this because you’re bothered by something instead of because you...actually wanted to,” Clarke suggested.
“I’m not bothered by anything.”
“Yes, you are,” Clarke returned, equally stubborn. “And I’m serious. I will be so happy to continue this later but, just, I don’t want it to be something you feel you have to do or something, I don’t know. I just. I want it to be good and fun and because,” Clarke rubbed her hands over her face, hid behind them for a moment. She couldn’t tell if she was being stupid or not, if she had made the wrong call. But she had been sure that something wasn’t quite right and she stuck with it. “I want it to be for the right reasons,” she said softly.
Lexa wrapped her hands tight around her waist, face suddenly solemn. “I didn’t mean to,” she said.
“I know. And it’s okay. Really. Like I said, I will be totally thrilled to pick this up later. But maybe you should talk to your sister first, have some breakfast, I don’t know.”
“Yes. I suppose I should. Excuse me.” Lexa collected her things - her dress, her bag, her shoes she remembered vaguely she had toed off, exhausted, at the door - and started to leave. Clarke scrambled out of the bed after her.
“Lexa,” she called, “Lex, I’m sorry.”
“For what?” Her movements were stiff as she pulled on her shoes. “I will return your clothes at the earliest convenience.”
“Wow, okay, back to formal talk,” Clarke sighed, running her hands through her hair to scoop it up into a bun, wincing when a finger caught in a knot. “I fucked up,” she said quietly to herself when Lexa moved to the door. “I fucked up. Shit.” Then, “ Lexa, please, just, let me drive you back to uni,” she offered more loudly.
“It’s a twenty minute walk and those shoes look really uncomfortable.” Clarke reached out but Lexa’s arm tightened around her waist and Clarke turned the movement as easily as she could, as gently, into reaching for the door. “Please,” she said softly.
After a moment, Lexa accepted with a nod.
“Good. Thank you, Lex.”
“She dropped me off here and left. If she even is my girlfriend,” Lexa told her very calmly. Only her slightly jerky movements betrayed just how she actually felt. Anya sat and watched - Lexa cast her sleep shirt off onto her bed, leaving it in a crumpled mess. Her fingers trembled just slightly, pressing hard against her eyebrows. Headache then, Anya guessed. “I’m going to have a shower, excuse me” Lexa murmured, collecting her things.
“Hey.” Anya caught her arm loosely as Lexa moved past her and let go when Lexa shook her head. “Hey,” she repeated softly. “You’re okay though?”
“I’m fine. I’m safe.”
“Okay. I love you.”
“Sappy, Anya,” Lexa teased as well as she could, lips curling up even if her eyes didn’t change at all from tired and nervous and deep and nervous.
“Hit the showers, kid. I’ll have coffee and breakfast ready for you in a bit.”
“Where’s Raven?” Lexa asked as she turned the shower on.
“Oh, I wore her out. She’s sleeping off the exhaustion.”
“Ew. I didn’t need to hear that.”
“I’m kidding. She was super great about me sleeping over, made sure I had a blanket, made me coffee, and went to class.”
“This class?” Lexa peeked out the door, holding her towel to her front. “Her eight am one?”
“Huh. No, she just never goes to it.”
“Maybe waking up to my stunning face put her in a good mood.”
“Or scared her away,” Lexa said, and she laughed when Anya turned to glare at her.
“Shower. And I’m gonna look for some poisonous shit to put in your coffee.”
“We have some bleach in the cupboard over.”
“You aren’t supposed to help me - you know what, I’m tired of your rude ungrateful little ass,” she said, opening the cupboard to find cups and bowls. “Go away.”
Anya made her tinkering in the kitchen as loud as possible so Lexa would know that she was still there the whole time. Coffee for two, a reheated stir fry (found in the fridge with a post it reading Lexa’s and Sunday and keep away from my FOOD RAVEN on it) and mindless clattering later, Lexa stepped out of the bathroom towelling off her hair. Anya didn’t react at all but she had a very good idea of what kind of mood Lexa was in and it belonged to the slouchiest, most comfortable sweater, distressed jeans, and socked feet.
“Oh kid,” she sighed, and Lexa stepped in toward her and leaned her forehead on her big sister’s shoulder. “Hey, hey,” she said, “what is it? What’s wrong?”
“What isn’t wrong?” Lexa grumbled.
“Alright grumpy butt.” Anya pushed her back a little, squeezed her shoulders. “Talk to me. Sit,” she commanded, “and talk. What’s going on?”
Lexa let herself be guided to a seat and picked up her coffee mug, wrapped her hands around it, and stared down at the counter for a long time.
“Have you thought of something?” Anya asked eventually. Lexa nodded. “Are you going to tell me?” She got a shrug in return. “Okay. I’m just going to guess, alright? Jump in and correct me whenever.” Lexa nodded slowly. “Last night sucked. A lot. The parental units were being crap as per usual and it hit you pretty hard.” Lexa’s grip shifted a little on her mug and Anya picked up her own, noting how warm it was. Lexa’s hands had to be burning. Anya set her mug down quietly and reached over and, with a look and a tug, convinced Lexa to relinquish her own. Anya continued. “You went to Clarke’s. She asked some questions. You two had a fight and you’re feeling a bit weird because you don’t know what you feel and now you aren’t sure where you stand. How did I do?”
“We didn’t fight.” Lexa paused. Frowned. “I think. I don’t know.”
“How about you tell me what happened? You can do this, Lex,” she prompted when her sister opened her mouth and froze. “You can.”
“I can’t. The words won’t come out, okay?” Lexa snapped. “I think of what I want to say and the words won’t come out because I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to think about what it, I don’t want to say it, I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want you to hear it. So just leave me alone.” She shoved her way to standing and strode to the other end of the room. “What about you? Tell me about what happened last night,” she demanded. “I know our parents and that was something different and I am very, very confused.”
Anya hesitated. She scratched at her arm before taking a sip of her drink.
Lexa pressed her knuckles against her eyebrows hard. “It really is something to do with me, isn’t it?” she said very quietly.
“No. No, kid, not really.” At a look, Anya shrugged. “It isn’t. Directly.”
“Look, it’s just something that when you find out what it is, it’ll be pretty shit okay? You won’t be happy which is why I don’t want you to know.”
“I’m a big girl. I can handle it.”
“Maybe I don’t want you to have to.” Anya lifted her eyebrows. She was the big sister - she got to do the protecting.
Lexa forced herself not to grind her teeth in response. Her reply was, as always, quiet and controlled. With the faintest hint of a growl. “Maybe you don’t have to carry everything by yourself. Maybe you can let someone help for once.”
“Maybe.” Anya scratched at her arm again. Made herself stop when Lexa narrowed in on the movement. “Fine. They were pissed at me because they think I’m gay. Okay?”
Anya sighed. “It’s an epic. Carol - Nina’s mother? She was at the shopping centre the other day when I was hanging out with Basil. I think it was Basil, from the description Mother gave me they’re the most likely candidate.” Lexa nodded. “Anyway, so she saw me and Basil and told Linda, from soccer. Linda told the soccer moms, one of them is Pe - P something?”
“Really? Well thanks, that ruins Agent Carter for me.”
“I know. Continue.”
“Well Linda told Peggy and Peggy is in mother’s bookclub and apparently ‘all the girls’,” she said with a mock frown and an affected pose Lexa recognised as their mothers, “‘knew about your....colourful company before I did and it was a disaster, Anya, a disaster. I didn’t have any time to come back with anything. I floundered. You should be ashamed of yourself’.” Anya shrugged, carefully with ease. “And I guess that was one notch too many on the belt of disgrace because they don’t want me being too close with you anymore. You know, spending time with you. Sitting next to you. Looking at you, probably.”
“Because Basil has their head shaved and wears a little rainbow badge and I hugged them goodbye.”
“They look queer. I am queer by extension.”
“Do they know-” Lexa’s hand pressed into her sternum and Anya shook her head.
“No. No way. I wouldn’t tell them that.”
Lexa nodded quickly because of course, of course she wouldn’t. She folded and unfolded her arms, laid a hand protectively over her hip. Anya closed her eyes. “So they’re homophobic,” she said after a moment. “We knew that already.” Plucked at the sleeve of her sweater. “We knew that,” she repeated, before sinking down onto Raven’s bed and pressing tiredly at her eyebrows again.
“It’s fine,” Anya said.
“Fine? How is this fine?” Lexa wanted to be loud, wanted to be angry, but her throat closed around the words so they came out small and pained. “She separated us at dinner because she didn’t want your gay cooties to contaminate me.”
“I prefer the term iridescent germ cloud thanks very much.” Anya grinned, laughed when Lexa rolled her eyes. “My homosexual cloud spore.”
“Anya. Please, be serious.”
“Rays of radioactive ultraviolet gayness.”
“They don’t want my queer to just rub off on you.”
“That’s not a good one.”
“Well it’s hard to think of them off the cuff. I’ll text you more when I think of them.” Anya stood and moved over to her, dropping onto Raven’s bed next to Lexa and, waiting for her permission, hugged her. “It’s fine,” she said.
Lexa nodded. She pulled the ends of her sweater over her hands. “Anya?”
“I don’t think I want to see them for a while. Do you think we can do that?”
Lexa leaned into her and for a while they just sat there together.
“Our parents are shit,” Anya sighed.
“Here’s a hint, kiddo, maybe don’t sound so disappointed. I am your girlfriend’s sister.”
“Not disappointed. Just surprised.” Clarke smiled and gestured into the room, moving in when Anya stepped to the side. “Lexa in?”
“She stepped out for something, I wasn’t really listening.”
Clarke nodded. She fiddled with the strap of her bag and peeked quickly into the bathroom - it wasn’t that she didn’t trust Anya but what she needed to say definitely needed Lexa not to overhear and misconstrue anything. She had seen and read too many of those scenarios to know that would be terrible.
“Can I talk to you for a second?” she asked. Anya shrugged and nodded. “Okay great.”
A few minutes later, Anya cleared her throat. “So, did you want to say something?”
“Yeah. Yes. Just...thinking.”
“Okay sure. Take your time. Coffee?”
“Please.” Clarke fell gratefully into the seat by the counter. “Okay here’s the thing. I think I may have really hurt Lexa?” She saw the way Anya’s fingers clenched on her mug and hurried on. “And I didn’t mean to, I just wanted, I want us to do this right? I really, really like her and I want to do this right,” she repeated. “And I don’t want us to do anything that Lexa might regret, I don’t want her doing something because she had a bad night or-”
“Okay stop.” Anya rolled her eyes. “Wow, you two are gross. If I have to listen to you and Lexa freaking out about this any more I’m going to do something drastic. Talk to her. She feels like shit because she thinks maybe she was taking out the wrong emotions on you, you feel like shit because you told her to stop - which, by the way, you should never feel shit about. If you don’t feel like something is right, trust your gut. Okay?” Clarke stifled a grin and nodded very seriously. She had never wanted a sibling before - she had Octavia and that was very, very close - but all of a sudden she wanted one, just for a second. One that looked out for her like Anya did for Lexa. But the way it bled over to her automatically was a very nice benefit. “Just,” Anya sighed. “Talk to her, okay?”
“Yeah. Okay. Thank you.”
“Sure. Anyway, I gotta run. Work,” she explained.
“Do you want me to tell Lexa anything?”
“Nah. I’ll text her later. Be safe,” she called back over her shoulder.
She allowed herself a huge smile when she closed Lexa’s door - her sister had found a good girl for herself, she was talking, she was fine, she would be fine.
It was a good thought.
There were two instances early after Lexa’s dinner with her parents when Clarke began to fully shape the idea of who Lexa was. Human, that is, and messy. And incredibly beautiful for all of it.
“Do you know how to play golf?”
She watched as the crowd waited, still and completely silent, for the man to hit the ball with his stick. At least, that’s how she saw it. Her eyelids drooped and she tried to keep herself awake by blinking hard and tapping her fingers lightly against Lexa’s ankle.
After a moment of no response, she titled her head back and up, searching for Lexa behind her. “Lex?”
Lexa curled her fingers soothingly through Clarke’s hair, starting and leaving unfinished braid after braid.
“You okay?” Clarke asked. “You haven’t talked much tonight.”
“Just thinking,” Lexa murmured, as though that weren’t one of the most dangerous things a person could do. “You said something about golf?”
“Yeah. Oh yeah,” Clarke sat up a little. “Do you know how to play?” she asked again and, when Lexa shook her head no, she turned the television off. “Then I’m super bored of that.”
Lexa laughed. “Okay. What do you want to do instead?”
“Kiss you.” Clarke shrugged. “I wasn’t even really watching TV, I was just thinking about kissing you and I didn’t realise when the golf came on. What were we watching before?” she asked, genuinely curious. “I don’t remember.”
“Neither do I.”
She said nothing about kissing, though, so Clarke let the topic and the idea go. As pleasant as it was, it was something they could revisit at some other time. Lexa played with Clarke’s hair still, smiling when she turned her head a little to drop a kiss onto Lexa’s knee and rest her cheek against her leg. “Feel nice?” she asked.
“Mhm,” she murmured back, utterly relaxed as Lexa moved on from braiding her hair to running her fingers lightly over Clarke’s scalp, massaging at her neck.
“My parents are homophobic.”
There was a pause. Then, Clarke looped her arm around Lexa’s leg and leaned more fully into her knee. “I’m sorry, Lexa.”
“Not really,” Clarke disagreed. It wasn’t heated. It was too late and they were too comfortable for any kind of heat, but the words came out of her with a certainty that calmed the doubt in Lexa.
It wasn’t that she didn’t know it was wrong. She did. But she was so very used to them insisting that they were right, so used to everything telling her that her parents were to be respected and listened to and admired and respected and to learn from them and respect them again and again and again and it clashed with the very simple ‘but they’re wrong’ until she felt....rattled. Uncertain. Which wasn’t a new sensation but she still didn’t like it - she didn’t like not being sure about how she would come out of something. She didn’t like that at the end of the day, she loved her parents but she wasn’t ever certain if they loved her. She didn’t like that they stood against something that was, at the end of the day, if not the biggest part of her certainly something that affected all of her.
She blinked, face smooth, hands moving gently through Clarke’s hair and nothing giving away the rioting in her stomach and chest. “They don’t want me to spend time with Anya. They think she’s gay and they don’t want their pristine,” the word dropped like it was precisely the opposite, “little girl contaminated.”
“They don’t want me to spend time with her. What are they going to do when they,” Lexa licked her lips, “when they find out that I’m, that we’re both, that I am,” she said, tried to say, and couldn’t finish.
“Hey. Lexa. It’s okay.” Clarke must have extricated herself at some point from between Lexa’s legs because her knees were pushing into the mattress next to her and she was hovering next to her, hands cradling Lexa’s cheeks, and thumbs dragging slowly over them with enough pressure to remind Lexa that she wasn’t fragile. “It’s okay. Just breathe, Lexa, you’re okay. This isn’t something that we have to sort out right away. It’s okay to just breathe right now. Hey,” she said, drawing watering eyes to meet hers. “I promise, you’re safe with me. Let’s breathe together, okay?”
It took almost a full half hour before Lexa’s breathing returned to normal and when it was over, Clarke pulled a strand of Lexa’s hair out of her mouth and laughed. It was beautiful and wild hair but it was kind of ridiculous too and Clarke laughed again, taking a few moments to scrape all of Lexa’s hair back. She took her time, catching as many of the wayward curls as she could, and then reached over her girlfriend to find the hair tie on her bedside and did it up for her. And if that gave Lexa enough time to compose herself, to wipe her cheeks, then that was just happy coincidence.
When Clarke was finished with Lexa’s messy top knot - she eyed it warily, she tried dammit, but it looked like it was precarious and about to collapse at any moment - she dropped back into place and draped her hand loosely over Lexa’s knee and squeezed.
Lexa looked at her carefully, out of the corner of her eye. Her fingers, tangled together in her lap, took some time to disentwine and it was still more time before she put her hand over Clarke’s.
She looked so small, so quiet and still, Clarke felt a lurch in her chest.
“Well, that was fun,” she said. Maybe - probably - it wasn’t the best thing to say or the right thing to say but Clarke didn’t know what to say, she was still figuring out everything and hell. It made Lexa laugh. She nudged Lexa with her shoulder and beamed when the other girl kissed the skin of her shoulder where her pyjama shirt had fallen down. “Can I sleep here tonight? I’m exhausted.”
Lexa tugged her down, then, until they were laying on her bed and she pushed her head under Clarke’s chin and her reply rumbled against Clarke’s collar and chest. “Yes please,” she said, letting herself relax into just a little vulnerability.
It wasn’t the first time they had slept in the same bed, but Lexa’s was smaller and it felt new and different and lovely to be all kinds of tangled up in one another.
When she woke, Clarke was hugging her back into her chest, an arm around Lexa’s stomach. She grumbled when Lexa made to move, buried her cold nose into Lexa’s neck, and Lexa stopped.
Just another few minutes, she decided.
They were in Clarke’s bed, Lexa’s hands held down securely by Clarke’s as they kissed like the world was ending, or just beginning. Either way, all they needed were lips on skin. Someone’s, somewhere, the details didn’t really matter.
It was Clarke’s lips, dragging up the arched column of Lexa’s throat, that made the girl let out a surge of a groan. Clarke laughed into her skin at the feeling of Lexa’s hips rising off the bed to find her, find some kind of contact.
“Touch me dammit,” Lexa demanded.
The best part of all of this, Clarke decided, making absolutely no move to touch Lexa at all and continuing at her incredibly slow pace, was that Lexa was smart and strong and confident - she had seen it all when she had looked in on her classes and group projects and every day that Lexa was a leader, a commanding presence - and damn if it didn’t do amazing things to Clarke to see her underneath her, hair wild, eyes dark, and lips forming the word ‘please’.
“You’re a tease.”
“Mhm, yeah.” Clarke smiled. “You like that about me though.” Lexa huffed. She couldn’t deny it, not without lying, so she huffed again. “Over the shirt still?” Clarke asked for confirmation, kissing over Lexa’s collar. She looked up to see Lexa’s nod, but stopped when she saw the conflict written over her girlfriend’s face. “Lex? What is it?”
“I want you,” she said, no trace of shyness, no reservation. Clarke did her best not to swallow her tongue though the words burned at her in the most delicious way. “There’s just,”
Clarke nodded when Lexa hesitated. She moved off her so she was no longer straddling her, and nodded again. “You can tell me.”
Lexa shook her head no. She pushed herself up so she was sitting up against the headboard, legs long out in front of her, and Clarke lost her breath for a moment just looking at her because she was delicate and strong and curves and long and beautiful and she was just so pretty. Then she realised that Lexa was looking back at her - really looking - and whatever she saw made her reach down. Fingers curled at the hem of her shirt and in one easy move, her shirt was off and over her head.
Clarke stayed very still.
On the one hand, Lexa was sitting shirtless in front of her with what seemed like, to her very interested hands and lips, miles and miles of new lovely skin to explore. On the other hand, Lexa had just told her she could touch over her shirt but had said nothing about under, so Clarke kept her eyes up on Lexa’s face (okay, she couldn’t help but dip down to the sweet hollow of her collar, but other than that she stayed stoically up towards her face).
“Lex,” she said, “it’s cool. We don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with. We aren’t going to do anything you’re not comfortable with,” she corrected herself.
Clarke shivered. She loved the way Lexa said her name.
“I want to have sex with you,” she said, very certain. “First, you should know that I am a virgin.”
“Second, that’s not the reason I’ve been stopping you.” Lexa licked her lips. Her face was all that Clarke was looking at, so it was easy to see the tightening of her face, lips firm and set instead of relaxed and easy and smiling and Clarke tilted her head to the side, questioning. “I stopped you because I didn’t want you to see these.”
Her hand lifted away from her side.
Across the curve of her hip, just above the waist of her jeans, were six neat, silver lines.
“It’s nothing,” Lexa went on to say.
Clarke shook her head quickly. She was angry. She was furious. She tried her best to contain it but she knew that Lexa could read it on her face, in the way her fingers gripped onto the bed sheets, and Clarke had regretted sometimes before the way that she showed emotions but this was on just a whole new level the way regret slammed into her. Because Lexa was up and moving away from her, pulling her shirt back on with hurried jerks, and she murmured an apology and moved away from Clarke, another apology tumbling out after.
She ached to...to leap up and block the doorway, something extravagant that shouted I’m not angry at you, I’m not angry with you but she didn’t. Lexa should be able to leave if she wanted to, she reminded herself, but she did jump up and shuffle gracelessly to the edge of the bed and did her best to soften her expression.
“Fuck. Fuck, shit, I fucked up I’m sorry.” Lexa stood in the corner of the room and shook her head, no, it’s fine. Clarke nodded. “I did, I’m sorry. I’m not angry, I swear. I just, you said it’s nothing,” and she could hear the anger sneak back into her voice so she blew it out harshly on the next breath. “It’s not. What you...what you feel and go through, that’s not nothing. You’re really important,” she said, and she felt like an idiot, struggling with expressing it in the way that she knew she should because she wanted Lexa to be okay, to feel okay, to know that it didn’t change anything. “I’m really glad you showed me.”
“Only at the idea of you feeling something that made you, that resulted,”
“Relax, Clarke. I’m safe now, I promise. It was once.”
“I’m really glad to hear that,” Clarke said, “but if you feel, fuck.” She ran her hands through her hair. “Lexa, shit, I like you so much okay and I don’t want to fuck this up. You can talk to me, and I’m so glad that you showed me? It doesn’t change a single thing, okay?” She barrelled on, deciding that if she wasn’t good at delicate - she so wasn’t - honest and sincere was going to have to be enough. “You don’t have to talk to me about it if you don’t want to, but shit Lexa you are such a good person and, like, you can talk to me about this. If you want to.”
She looked over at her, looked over Lexa carefully. She was standing there with arms around her waist, hand on her hip where Clarke then knew her scars were. The pose made her look uncertain and vulnerable and small and, Clarke thought, she was beautiful. Achingly so. Like small hands and small wrists and black and white and pencil lines. But there was another kind of beautiful that Lexa was good at - that Clarke was all about - and it was an easy, colourful, happy kind of beautiful and it involved paint smears and the smell of grass and the taste of orange juice and she liked that one better on the merit that Lexa was happy like that.
She wanted that.
“I’m here for you,” is what she said, “and, you know, I’m your girlfriend-” she paused a little, because was that totally set in stone? And Lexa looked at her quickly and her teeth caught at her bottom lip hopefully and Clarke shrugged, grinned. “So, you know. Whenever you’re feeling down or, unsafe?” She said, using the same terms Lexa had. “Come over. Call me. Hit me up, I’ll be yours. And like, as a future thing,” she continued because Lexa was slowly unfolding herself and she wanted to see this, to see the way Lexa would smile. “I think we should do this again some time soon.” She aimed for nonchalance. Shrugged again. “Sex, I mean.”
Lexa blinked, eyebrows shooting up in surprise. “Excuse me?”
“I’m am very interested in having sex with you.”
“You are,” she said, half question, half incredulous statement.
“Absolutely. I would like to have sex with you. I would like to bone you. Fuck. Screw. Do the horizontal, sweaty tango with you.”
“Do the do. Make sweet love. I suh-premely wish to have the honour of banging with you.”
Lexa looked to the ceiling, huffed a laugh. “You and Anya will get along very well, I think. You have the same sense of humour.”
“Nice.” Clarke grinned. “Very nice.” She held out her hand and, when Lexa slipped her hand into it, she lifted it to her lips. Kissed her wrist. “This doesn’t change anything, yeah? I mean, it changes some things I guess, but not this.” She waved between them and a smile, so bright it dazzled, broke across her face when Lexa stepped into the cradle of Clarke’s legs.
“Okay. In that case…” Lexa pushed Clarke down onto the bed.
“Oh. Okay, I didn’t mean like right now but-”
But Lexa just tugged Clarke’s shirt up for a moment to look her over, down at her bra and her soft stomach and she nodded. “Now we are even,” she said, pulling it down again.
“We can leave that off? If you want?” Clarke suggested but when with it when Lexa shook her head no.
After a short while, when they had settled outside on the couch, cuddled together, Clarke hummed thoughtfully. “What about my pants? Do we really need them?”
It was wrong, she knew, but she couldn’t help it. She was relieved. Worried, of course, but relieved because Clarke had taken such good care to be lovely and careful and to make her feel safe and she had talked her through an anxiety attack and the whole time she had sat there beautiful with her perfect hair and a firm grip on herself that Lexa envied.
She was wonderful and perfect...and then she wasn’t
Then she was human - messed up, just like everyone else - and Lexa loved her.
“Lexa?” Octavia blocked the doorway to her apartment. Or tried to. She was so small that Lexa could see over her head into their home but she didn’t. “Hey. Hi. What, uh, what are you doing here?”
“Clarke and I have a date.”
“Oh, that’s so sweet!” Octavia beamed. “Oh.” Her smile fell and she ran her hands through already messy hair. “Right, okay, she didn’t tell you either. Okay, that’s fine, I guess.”
“There is something wrong,” Lexa said.
“You could say that? Clarke is…” Octavia bit her lip, looked back over her shoulder into their home. “She’s having an incredibly shitty day.”
Lexa paused. “I should go.”
“No. No! Maybe?” Octavia’s mouth pursed and drummed her fingers on the door handle. “No. You should come in, you’re her girlfriend, she’s mad about you, it’s totally cool. She’ll be happy you’re here, yeah, it’s great.” Octavia stepped aside and waved Lexa in. “She’s in her room anyway so I’ll ask Lincoln if she’s okay with you being here. Which, like,” she pulled her phone from her pocket to message her boyfriend, voice dropping away for a moment as she typed. “Sorry, I’m really like, focus on one thing at a time today. What’s that called? The opposite of multitasking…”
“No, because I keep jumping from shit to other shit. Whatever, doesn’t matter. What was I saying?”
Lexa shook her head, mute. She had no idea.
“Right. No, so, if she doesn’t want you here, please don’t take it as a personal thing? She just needs a day - or three,” Octavia grumbled, “to herself.”
“I understand. Is she okay?”
Lexa glanced around the apartment as Octavia reassured her that Clarke was fine.
Blankets were strewn over the couch, their normal home but messy. Usually Clarke folded them. Or at least draped them over the back of the couch in the same place. She could see a bottle - or was it two? - in the kitchen. The mail was piled up on the table by the door and, strangest of all, an easel sat in the middle of the living room.
“Fuck,” Octavia hissed, looking wild-eyed into the hallway. “Shit, good catch Lexa. Okay. Good spot,” she grunted, walking the easel awkwardly into her own bedroom.
Lexa frowned. There was something about the whole thing that felt wrong, and she stayed exactly where she was, awkwardly in the entry hall. “Was I not supposed to see that?” she asked when Octavia walked back in, and Octavia dragged her hands through her hair again and dropped onto a kitchen stool.
“Nah. It’s like her sad shit art work. She gets drunk and paints until it’s all out of her. Feelings are kinda incredibly visceral for her and I love her to bits but she isn’t always the best with dealing with them. So she gets drunk and she paints because it’s like, I don’t know. I guess if you can make something out of it, then it’s easier to deal with or something. She’s super talented,” Octavia said softly, a little so that Clarke wouldn’t overhear and a little thoughtful. The words came out slow as well, as she considered how to explain it to Lexa. “But it’s like. More than that. Raw. Super personal. And once she comes out of it, once she feels more like her, they’re really hard for her to look at. So I get rid of them.”
“You destroy them?” Lexa asked quietly, a sickness churning in her stomach at the idea of destroying Clarke’s work. Something so deeply personal she could understand hiding, she could understand the want to destroy it, but she didn’t think she could ever do it.
“I’m supposed to.” Octavia kicked her feet out, frowned down at them. “I never do though. I just,” she shrugged. “I can’t. It’s Clarke’s stuff. And also? I’m pretty sure one day she’s gonna be like, oh man I wish I still had those. And it’ll be my time to shine, y’know? I’ll be like, I gotcha bitch and pull them out and she’ll cry and be super relieved and it’ll be a whole big thing, y’know?” Octavia shrugged again, grinning over at Lexa. “I’ve thought about it a lot.”
“I can see that.”
There was a small, polite throat-clearing from the hallway and Lincoln stepped out. “Hey, Lexa. Hey, babe.”
“Ew, don’t Umbridge us, Lincoln.”
“Pink lady, looked like a toad, cleared her throat to announce her fairy-floss dementor presence?”
“I am not Dolores Umbridge, Octavia,” Lincoln frowned. “I was being polite. I like your description of her though but seriously?”
“Did I offend you?”
“Yeah kinda. Jerk.”
“Sorry babe. So.” She hooked her foot around his leg and waved him forward. “How is she?”
“Yeah, better. I think we came in on the end of it.”
“I know. Right at the end. She could have called me - she should have called me, you know?” She groaned, buried her face in his chest, and wrapped her arms around his waist. “I’m so angry,” she said, words muffled. “I’m so angry,” she repeated, turning her head to the side to talk to Lexa and Lincoln. “Is she coming out soon?’
“She’s out,” a soft voice confirmed, and Octavia abandoned Lincoln, leaping up to hug Clarke. “Oh, hey,” she said very quietly, releasing the strings of her sweatshirt hood to hug Octavia back. “Hey, O.” Clarke wrapped her fingers into the fabric of her best friends shirt and held her for a bit, looked over Octavia’s shoulder at Lexa. “Hi.”
“Hello, Clarke. Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” Octavia harrumphed into Clarke’s shoulder and the blonde sighed, backtracked. “Sort of. I had a,” she stopped. “A bad day. I’m better now.” When Octavia released her, she stepped toward Lexa but stopped when her best friend blocked her path.
“I say this as a friend, Clarke, you want to take a shower. Right now.”
“What?” Clarke frowned. “No. Lincoln was cuddling with me for, like, an hour. I’m fine.”
“You stink,” he said. “Sorry. I just didn’t want to say anything.”
“Yeah, babe, like really bad. He probably didn’t want to say anything in case you burst into tears of something,” Octavia added, nodding seriously. “Or, like-”
“Stop.” Clarke shook her head. “I feel like you don’t have to continue talking about this?” She backed up into the hall. “I will go shower, okay, just please. Stop talking.”
“Love you babe!” Octavia called after her. As soon as she was gone, she turned to Lincoln. “So, I’m thinking we need to get some good food. Something light to break her back into the whole eating thim. Also, I need to get rid of that painting. I can take it to Abby’s?”
“I’ll get something from the diner.”
“Great. Good idea.” Octavia turned to Lexa. “Can you hold down the fort?”
“Clarke is going to be in the shower for, like, at least twenty minutes. Hopefully Lincoln will be back by then but if he’s not, you’ve got this. Right?”
Lexa blinked. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I think I would be more comfortable saying yes if I knew what I was agreeing to. What exactly is happening?” She wrapped her hand around the strap of her backpack. Why did Clarke look sad? Why was she cuddling with Lincoln and not Octavia? Why did she paint something so sad? All questions she wanted to ask, but didn’t.
“Right. Right. Lincoln, babe, can you-”
“I’ve got it.” He bent down to kiss her goodbye quickly. “I’ll bring extras.”
“You’re the best, thank you, I love you.” Octavia walked with him to the door, somewhat to kiss him goodbye again, but mostly to collect Lexa, who still hadn’t moved from the entry. “Okay,” she said, seating Lexa on the couch. She began to pace. “Clarke is my best friend, you know that.”
“So, I know that she’s pretty much incredibly into you so I think it’s okay that I tell you that sometimes she’s a bit...really sad. It’s not like a chronic thing? So I’m not sure if I can call it depression. I don’t know how it’s qualified. Anyway,” Octavia shook her head hard, pulling herself back onto track. “Her dad died about two years ago and sometimes now she just a couple of days where she’s just. Out of commission. And this time it didn’t happen until I was gone for the whole weekend,” she said through gritted teeth, “which is totally shit because she does shit like not eat for the whole time or shower and like, it’s - you know how Clarke is so into everything. She’s happy and excited about life and she’s just a really super person. She cares so much about everyone.” Lexa nodded. “With her it’s kind of like...everything is fine until it isn’t. Pushes shit away until she feels it all at once.” Octavia sat next to Lexa on the couch. “She’s a mess.”
“She’s incredible,” Lexa said. Not a disagreement. Just, saying it.
“Yeah.” Octavia laughed a little. Collapsed back into the couch. “She’s that too.”
“Alright.” Lexa nodded. “What do I do?” She turned to Octavia with eyes dark and intent under a thoughtful frown. “You should take the painting if Clarke doesn’t want it here. I can look after her, just tell me what to do.”
“You beautiful person you.” Octavia smiled at her fondly for a moment before composing her face. “Okay. Shit, babe, just be you. She’s into you. But okay, she will want to sleep some more. You can just chill. You can read or do an assignment, she won’t care. She’s going to be super cuddly and it’s cool if you don’t want to cuddle or if you have to leave or something, just give her a pillow to cuddle. What else?” Octavia bit her lip, worried at it. “Umm, try to get her to drink some water. Probably hasn’t done any of that, no, just some good old whiskey that’s fine, that’s super great,” she grumbled. “Sorry. I’m sorry, I’m just, she usually tells me when it’s about to happen, y’know? And I was gone all weekend so I don’t know when it started and how long she’s been like this so I’m just,” she shook her hands out. Ran them through her hair again. “I’m going to hit her with my cast.”
Lexa smiled. “Before you try to beat her, you should go.”
“I can do this. Go.”
The words drained the fight and worry right out of Octavia. “Lexa, you’re a treasure. Like. Honestly. If I weren’t madly into Lincoln, and then if Raven weren’t second in line for me to jump on, I would marry you.”
“Thank you,” Lexa said. She’d heard enough of Octavia’s compliments in the past to know this was high praise.
“Sure.” Octavia patted Lexa’s knee. “Alright! I’m gonna go and talk to Mama G. Let her know what’s going on. And stash the painting. So - remember, cuddling and water and some food if you can get her to eat it.”
As soon as the other girl was gone - “I can do this, I got this, I’ve got this,” Octavia grunted as she made her way down the stairs with the canvas in her hands - she moved into Clarke’s room and stripped the bed. It took a few minutes but she found some spare sheets in the hallway closet and by the time she tugged the covers back on, Clarke was standing in the entry to her room, a towel around her, hair dropping beads of water onto her shoulders.
Lexa swallowed. “Oh. Hello. I’m sorry,” she started, “for intruding. Octavia, she said that you might want to go back to sleep and I thought,”
“Thank you,” Clarke breathed.
She felt stupid with tears pushing at her eyes, but exhaustion still clung to her and, while the idea of slipping back into a dirty bed when she was newly clean wasn’t what she wanted, the idea of making it had been daunting to the point where her only thought had been fuck it I don’t care. But then Lexa, glorious pretty Lexa, was standing by a beautiful clean new crisp bed and - “Are those hospital tucks?”
“Oh. Yes. It makes it harder for you to pull the sheets free and looks neater.”
“You’re an angel.” Clarke sagged against the door. “You’re actually an angel.”
“I’ve slept all weekend,” she said with a yawn.
“And you’re still tired so,” Lexa walked to her. She hesitated but Clarke looked up at her with clear - if tired - blue eyes and smiled, so she kissed her cheek and rested her fingers on Clarke’s elbow gently. “I’m going to give you a few minutes to get changed and then we are going to watch TV. Or sleep. Does that...sound okay?”
Clarke left one hand on her towel, holding it in place against her chest, and looped the other around Lexa’s neck. “It sounds amazing,” she said, her nose nudging at Lexa’s, and when she kissed her, it felt better. Everything did. She still wanted to sleep, and she was still sad enough to want to close out the whole world, but Lexa was warm and soft and the backs of her teeth tasted like candy. Clarke smiled. Pulled away and pushed her nose into Lexa’s neck. Lexa tried not to squirm but Clarke’s nose was cold and her hair was still wet. “You’re so weird,” Clarke laughed, glancing over at her lovely bed. “Thank you for making my bed.”
"What do you mean you're going to be late? You can't be late to this, babe, I can't go alone - you know I can't go alone. I need you there. The wheel of death terrifies me!"
"I know. I know and I'm sorry, I really really am." Technically, she didn't have to say it. Octavia already knew. But it felt better for both of them to hear Clarke say it. "But there's been an accident in the tunnel and the traffic is backed up all the way out by mum's place so I'm still probably, shit, I don't know. Forty minutes out?"
"Clarke - my appointment is in twenty minutes!"
"I know. I know that, O. And I want to take - HEY SHIT HEAD, IT'S NOT LIKE WE'RE GOING ANYWHERE. WHY THE FUCK GO AHEAD OF ME? YOU'RE NOT GONNA GET THERE ANY FASTER. OH, MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE TEXTING. THAT'S YOUR BLOODY PROBLEM. OH NICE. NICE. THANK YOU. FUCK YOU TOO!" Octavia winced, pulled her phone away from her ear. That was fine. She didn't need that ear anyway. "Where was I?"
"You said, I want to take, and I assume you're ending it with take you to the doctors but I'm open to surprises."
"Right, I want to take you to the doctors. I have a notebook to write down all of Doctor Koha's instructions. A toy for you-" she ignored Octavia's mutters of 'I'm not four, Clarke, I don't need a toy', and barrelled on. "I, honestly O, I'm so angry. If I knew this was going to happen I would've,"
"You would have gone anyway because you're an excellent daughter."
"Well. Maybe. But I would have complained a whole lot more."
Octavia laughed for a moment because yeah, that was Clarke. She rubbed at her forehead then and sighed. "Ah well. It's okay." She knocked her cast lightly against the kitchen counter and sighed again.
"I want to be there."
"Clarke, I know. It really is okay. I'll just call up Lincoln and," she paused, remembering that he was in the middle of a training session.
"He's got a training seminar," Clarke reminded her, speaking Octavia's thoughts. "And my mum is going into a surgery now otherwise she would love to zoom around to get you. We know how much you love her car."
"Babe, it's a Porsche. Of course I love it!"
"Well, maybe next weekend. She's got a few days off, we can totally hand out. Take it for a spin."
"Yes! We should have a party!"
"That would be awesome. Round up some people, make a day of it."
"It can be prison themed. Like, 'freed from your shackles' kind of thing! Everyone dresses up like a prisoner or a guard or something." Octavia bounced in place, grinned when Clarke just laughed.
"I don't know how much of a prison having a cast is, babe, but if that's what you want I will organise it tonight. it's - fuck we got distracted again. We really need to find someone to take you. I'm stuck in this stupid-" she honked again "-traffic. Mum can't take you, Lincoln can't. Raven is away. What about Lexa?"
"Lexa?" Octavia thought about that for a moment before she fell into the idea happily and squealed. "Yes. Yes. Okay, bye babe. Talk to you later."
Clarke smiled, even as Octavia promptly hung up on her.
Lexa picked up on the third ring.
"This is Lexa Woods."
"It's Octavia, hey."
"I'm aware. I have caller ID."
"So you just like answering the phone like that?"
"Of course. It's polite."
Octavia laughed. Lexa was such a different kind of person, so different from her and from Clarke, and she kind of loved it. "Yeah, it is."
"Did you need something, Octavia?"
"Oh. Yeah. Yes! Okay, I know I'm asking for a massive huge favour here but Clarke is stuck in traffic from hell, Lincoln is in a training session, and I can totally take a taxi if you can't do it because it's early and you probably just want to sleep all day-"
"Octavia. The favour?"
"Right. I have an appointment to get my cast taken off in twenty minutes and I would really appreciate it if you would take me."
"I will be outside your place in fifteen minutes." Octavia smiled widely at the sound of a book closing and the jangle of what she assumed were keys. "Would you call ahead and let them know you will be a little late?"
"For sure. Lexa?"
"You're the best."
Lexa laughed sweetly at that and closed her door behind her. "I'll be there soon."
They were sitting to the side of the waiting room, Lexa leaning against Octavia's side as she read a magazine aloud. Her appointment had been delayed - "you are late, Miss Blake, but luckily Doctor Koha has a free slot at eleven, how does that sound?" - and Lexa had promptly sunk into her side and dozed off.
"Here! I'm here," she said quietly, snagging her doctor's attention. Seeing the girl slumped into Octavia's side, she nodded and pointed back to her office.
"Door on the left," the doctor told her, held up three fingers. "Number three."
Octavia nodded, shot her the thumbs up. Carefully, trying her best not to dislodge Lexa, she reached out and dropped the magazine back on the table. She tapped Lexa's knee to get her attention. "Hey, hey Lexa? My name was called."
Lexa hummed quietly at that, sat upright to let Octavia stand, and stood with her to follow her into the doctor's office without even a question.
"Hello again, Octavia. So we're getting this off today are we?"
"That's the plan, doc."
"Let's get a look at this arm then, hmm?" She wheeled her chair over to Octavia and lifted the arm, peering at the ends of the cast, prodding at the skin. "You haven't had any discolouration? Any excess pain or swelling?"
"Mhm. Any numbness?"
"And you've been able to move them? Can you wiggle them for me?" Octavia did and the doctor smiled. "This all looks great. I'm sure the doctor at the hospital told you all about those symptoms?"
"Yeah. Yeah he did." Octavia swallowed, not noticeably but enough that Lexa moved from where she was standing by the door to sit beside her. "Stuff about swelling and all that. Clarke kept an eye on it for me as well. Her mum is a nurse so I think it's okay."
"I think so too, Octavia, it's definitely ready to come off." The doctor began to collect the tools she needed. When she set the cast saw on a tray next to Octavia, Lexa slipped her hand into Octavia's uninjured hand. Seeing the movement, the doctor smiled at her. "And are you Clarke? Octavia's...girlfriend?"
"Oh." Lexa blinked. "No."
"Clarke isn't my girlfriend. And this is Lexa, also not my girlfriend."
"Oh, I'm sorry," she offered, but Octavia shook her head quickly.
"No, it's fine. It's great. Really. Lexa is totally hot so, like, I wish. And plus I can totally see why you would think that - we look totally hot together." The doctor laughed at Octavia's enthusiasm and her wink. Lexa's lips pulled up a little. "But they are girlfriends. To each other. Clarke and Lexa are. Clarke is my best friend, she's totally hot too. So like, they're a great match." Lexa raised her eyebrows, turning slightly toward her friend. Octavia was babbling already, and, Lexa noted, she was eyeing the saw. "But no, we aren't dating. Mostly because I'm in love with a boy named Lincoln. He's not as pretty as Lexa," she squeezed Lexa's hand, grinning, "but he's the best."
Lexa hid her smile under her hand, looking up and away, at the ceiling.
"He sounds great, Octavia. You can keep talking about him while we go, if you want. It's going to be very quick." Octavia nodded. "Alright. I'm going to start the saw now."
"Sure thing, doc." She hesitated, a long hesitation, breath caught in her throat as the doctor picked up the saw.
Before she began, the doctor spoke again. Reminded her. "How about you tell me more about Lincoln?" The whirring of the saw, then, and then the deeper sound it made when it touched the cast, vibrating up her arm. It made Octavia close her eyes for a moment. "Octavia?"
"Yeah. Lincoln. Oh he's great. He's a really good cook and he's sweet and strong and he has a great butt.
He's a really good cook and he's sweet and strong and he has a great butt." She drew in a breath, nodded. "He's two feet taller than me. Gloriously attractive. He's good. He's a really good guy. He has a dog. Her name is Jessie. He likes art a lot and," the sound bumped up a notch, coming to the end of the cast, "umm, his favourite is charcoal and sketching. He, he likes nature scenes. Buildings and statues and trees, stuff like that. Sometimes he'll draw people."
"That's great. I'm making the second cut now, okay?"
Octavia nodded. Squeezed Lexa's hand a little tighter. "Uh. He, he works in a diner. He's the head cook there. Very...kind, very," she took in a shuddering breath and shut her eyes tight, kept them closed. "Umm." The sound, the saw, was louder then and it seemed to shudder all the way up her bones to her teeth. Octavia's eyes opened when Lexa stroked her thumb gently over her hand and she looked sideways to her friend. Took comfort in her reassuring smile. "We played charades," she told the doctor, "with Clarke and Lexa the other night and totally destroyed them. Honestly, they sucked. We kicked their butts."
Lexa's eyebrows shot up at the challenge. "You beat us by three points. And we've only been together for three weeks and five days. Of course you two had the upper hand."
"It's so gross that you know that. Do you know the exact hour as well?" Octavia laughed when Lexa rolled her eyes. She suspected that Lexa did know. Not offhand, maybe, but that she could work it out? Definitely. They were gross.
She loved them.
"You're doing very well," the doctor interrupted. "I'm going to make the third cut now." She turned Octavia's arm over to get at the underside of the cast and Octavia froze, head jerking back to look down at it. "Octavia?" Doctor Koha turned the saw off. "Are you alright?"
"Oh yeah. Totally fine. Go ahead."
"Octavia," she said. "If you need a break-"
"No. Really, I think it's gonna be best if you just," Octavia shifted her arm just a little. "Rip the little sucker off, you know? Like a bandaid. Get it over and done with."
"If you're sure." She watched Octavia for a moment longer before turning the saw back on. Octavia looked away, at Lexa. She tried to smile.
"You're perfectly fine, Octavia," Lexa soothed. "And you're doing very well." She brought her second hand up to hold Octavia's between both of hers, firmly. "Did you know that when I was five years old, I broke my arm." She didn't let go of Octavia's hand but she pointed to a place on her arm where she had been told it had fractures. "I fell off the monkey bars at the park." Octavia blinked at her. "Anya, my sister, she took me there to the park. I wanted to play. And we had a little time on our way home so we went in and we had a great time. Until it all went to shit, of course."
Octavia laughed, then, because Lexa never really swore. Even mildly - shit, damn, that kind of stuff. She hadn't heard them come from Lexa often at all and she was sitting there and holding Octavia's hand. She had clearly rolled out of bed, or the couch maybe, she had been lounging, relaxing, and she had stopped for Octavia. Her hair was wild and done up in a bun and she was wearing leggings and a shirt. Octavia had noticed it earlier of course, when she first saw her that morning. But it only really hit her when she was looking at her sitting there next to her, soft and so so pretty, and she was holding Octavia's hand, which she squeezed tight. Octavia felt a rush of affection for her friend - she was lucky, so lucky - and smiled at Lexa, barely even noticing that the doctor had finished and was cutting through the gauze underneath her cast with a pair of scissors. Then came the unfamiliar feeling of cold washing over her and she looked down at her arm.
Her weird, pale, slightly lumpy arm.
"Is it supposed to look like that?" she asked quietly. A little curling, creeping feeling unravelled in her stomach. It was uncomfortable. She slipped her hand out of Lexa's and gripped the edge of the bed hard. "Is that...is something wrong?"
"Oh the contrary," Doctor Koha told her. "Just from an initial examination, this all looks really great. You've healed very well, Octavia." She prodded at Octavia's arm, making her way down from the elbow to the wrist, and she asked questions Octavia only very vaguely heard. Is there pain? Does this hurt? What about here? No and no and no.
Staring down at it, Octavia's breath shook out of her. A little unsteady, a little wet. She nodded quickly when they were done. "Great. That's great. Thanks. I really appreciate it, doc." She sniffed back the urge to cry but it was clearly obvious because the doctor excused herself and, when she left the room, Lexa stepped in front of Octavia and placed her hands on her shoulders.
"Hey. Congratulations, Octavia."
A wet laugh was her answer and then Octavia was hugging her arm to her chest and crying and Lexa hovered awkwardly for a few moments - was she supposed to embrace her? If she did, was she supposed to pat her back? Or rub? In circles or up and down? Finally, she settled on simply hugging her and it seemed to work because after just a little while, Octavia pulled away, nodded, and wiped at her cheeks.
"It's cool, I'm fine," she laughed. "It's just kind of a big deal. Having a badly healed arm isn't exactly a step in the right direction for a national sporting career."
"I understand," Lexa said solemnly.
"Anyway, look at it!" Octavia waved her arm. "It's fine. All healed. Just...weird and pale."
"That's to be expected."
"But that's a lump - what is that?"
"Right, right..." Octavia poked and prodded at her arm for a few moments. "Actually, can you... please don't look at it," she asked quietly, and Lexa nodded and turned away.
Octavia ran curious and shaking fingers over the scar. It was pink, healed, still healing. It was obvious. She sighed - she was nineteen years old and yeah, maybe she was being a little vain, but it was weird to see. Weirder than even having the cast. That, of course, had to look different. Someone gave that to her. But once it was gone, well. She knew that it was stupid but she had expected to see her arm just the way it had been. Before.
"It's normal." Lexa offered that to her after a time of silence. "You had an injury, a surgery, and you've had your arm in a cast for eight weeks. The fact of the matter is that it will be different." How Lexa knew what Octavia was thinking she didn't know. But she was glad for it and she hunched a little over her arm and listened to that calm, serious voice. "Of course it's pale. Of course there will be some sign that it was broken. Lumps and bumps, perhaps, or a scar." Octavia sighed, wiped at her cheeks again. What Lexa was saying wasn't really helping, exactly. It was nice that she was trying. But it wasn't helping. But then. "Besides," and Lexa sounded...cheeky? Octavia tilted her head to the side, listening closely. "I've heard that chicks dig scars."
The words sounded odd coming from Lexa. A little awkward. Octavia suspected that she had never called a girl a 'chick' before in her life and the fact that she had said it just for Octavia, well. It was delightful. Octavia barked a surprised laugh.
"Or so I've heard," Lexa shrugged.
"Well." Octavia laughed again and she stood, using her newly freed arm to knock against Lexa's hand affectionately. "Thank you, Lexa. I'll keep that in mind."
"Thanks for taking me to the doctor, Lex," Octavia said when they were most of the way to Lincoln's house. "And to the candy shop and to get a milkshake and to the pet shop and the gaming store and-"
"I understand, Octavia. You're grateful."
"Yeah. Super. You really didn't have to."
Lexa reached across the centre console and took Octavia's hand, after some minor hesitation. Both just to hold her hand and also because Octavia had been poking and prodding at her arm for most of the morning and it had begun to unnerve her.
"I'm a firm believer that milkshakes and kittens soothe most ailments." Lexa said it very seriously. She liked the way that when she said something silly as though it were serious, Octavia laughed.
"You're a great friend. You know that?"
Lexa shrugged. "Is it left or right from here?"
"And you're sure you want to wait at his house? I would be happy to take you back to yours." Still, she turned the steering wheel to Octavia's instructions.
"Nah. Lincoln talked to his boss and he's getting off at lunch." She wiggled her phone in Lexa's direction, text lit up on the screen. "But thank you."
"Of course. Any time."
"Well. Like, ideally I won't have to break my arm for this kinda girls day out to happen again. But I would do it. Just for you, babe."
No, of course not, that's not what I meant," Lexa said quickly, dragging her eyes away from the road to shoot a wide-eyed look at Octavia, who was just grinning. "That's not funny, Octavia."
"It's a little funny."
"It's a little funny," she laughed, and Lexa sighed. "Oh, here. That's his place, the one with the blue mailbox."
"Do you want me to walk you in?"
"Nah, it's all good." A woman stepped out the front door and Octavia opened the door - her new released arm stayed in her lap, Lexa noticed. "That's his mum." She waved. With her unbroken arm.
"Alright then." Lexa relaxed into her car seat. "Have a good day then." Octavia turned back to her, nose wrinkling thoughtfully. "What is it?" Lexa asked, only to stop and blink when Octavia leaned across and kissed her cheek quickly. "Oh."
"Thanks for the lift," Octavia said, and smiled brightly. When heat rushed up Lexa's cheeks, when she saw Lexa's blush, Octavia's smile kicked up a notch to dazzling and she laughed a little before she slid out of the car.
Lexa waited for a moment before she started up the car.
Octavia Blake, she thought, was some new kind of person entirely. The kind of person who made every day brighter and better. She was quite possibly the most alive person Lexa had ever come across and she was her friend. Lexa's friend. She smiled and waved back at Octavia as she drove away.
Lexa hummed along to each song that played on the way back home. She hadn't ever had a friend like Octavia before, one that was bright and hugged at every possible occasion and truly obviously relentlessly enjoyed her company, but she did now and she liked it.
The day couldn't possibly get any better.
The day got better.
Clarke pushed her up against the wall when she arrived at her place, following a curt text she had received from the blonde: when youre done with octavia come back to my place
Her lips were adamant. Hands more so, pushing at Lexa until her back hit the wall and holding her there.
"Thank you," she murmured against the skin of Lexa's neck, "for," another kiss, "looking after," another kiss, that one on the edge of Lexa's breast, Clarke tugging her shirt down as far as it allowed her and Lexa wound a hand into blonde hair, pressed her closer. "Octavia."
"Clarke," Lexa breathed.
"Clarke," she repeated, and then again, and Clarke grinned a sharp grin when she realised Lexa just wanted to say her name.
Clarke's hands hesitated at the hem of Lexa's shirt. "Can I take this off?" she asked, and when Lexa nodded quickly, Clarke crouched low and followed its path up with her lips, from the slight softness of Lexa's belly up her stomach, up slower - much slower - between her breasts, her neck, following a slight tangent over her collarbone, taking her time. Lexa's nails scraped gently at Clarke's scalp, a soft encouragement.
When Clarke's hands settled on each of Lexa's hips, they both stopped still.
"Is this okay?" Clarke asked.
"Yes." Lexa tugged her back into a kiss. She didn't feel like she was standing solid - she wasn't unsteady. No, she wanted it. She wanted Clarke. Incredibly. It was just new. It was new and Lexa was giddy. Was that the word? She would use it. Giddy with it, with the closeness of Clarke, with the...the openness of the whole situation.
Clarke had paint on her hand. Her left hand. On the thumb. When it rubbed across her skin, Lexa imagined that it left a mark on her hip. That one, that mark she would be happy to keep.
She was herself and Clarke loved her, and Clarke, god, Clarke was herself and Lexa loved her.
She had her up against the wall and she fell to her knees. Lexa caught her breath. And laughed.
"Should I be offended?" Clarke asked, but she was smiling.
"No, not at all. It was just..."
"You thought of something funny."
"Just clichéd. You look like an angel."
Clarke laughed too and she shook her hair out over her shoulders, bit her lip when she smiled up at Lexa. "That's fair."
"Only if you want."
"Groaning my name already? A little premature but that's okay. Girls can always go again."
"Clarke." Lexa clicked her tongue, rolled her eyes. "You're ruining the mood."
"You like me when I'm like this. Gets you hot." Clarke smiled wider when Lexa didn't reply. "Can I take your pants off?"
"Are you going to take your clothes off?"
"Yes." Clarke slipped her fingers into the waistband of Lexa's pants. "Oh - right now? I can go first if you want?" She jumped up to tug off her clothes, shirt first slung over her head, bra next.
"I know, right?" Clarke winked at Lexa and finished, hopping on one foot as she pushed her pants down and off. "How do I look?"
"Stunning. Pants, Clarke."
"Yes ma'am." Clarke dropped down again and let Lexa use her shoulder as a balancing post as she stepped out of her leggings. She stood. Stepped forward until the softness of her was pressed against the softness of Lexa and she kissed Lexa hard. "Couch?"
Lexa nodded. Pressed kisses onto Clarke's skin - lips, neck, shoulder, a checklist - and pushed her down onto the couch. "Is this okay?" she checked.
"Yes." Clarke wriggled into a comfortable position and nodded, guiding Lexa's leg over her hips so her girlfriend was straddling her. "You are so beautiful."
Lexa looked down at Clarke beneath her. Trailed her fingers over her collar, over the strap of her bra. "As are you." She blinked. "While I have you here, I think now may be a good time to discuss our yes no maybe lists."
"What lis- Lexa, please, is this something we can do after we have sex?"
"No." She frowned. "That defeats the purpose of the lists." Lexa bit down on her lip when Clarke surged to sitting up, slipped her hand down Clarke's back to press against the muscles there, drag her fingertips across her skin.
"If you want me to concentrate on something, I suggest you don't do that," Clarke drawled. Lexa paused. Considered the alternative.
It wasn't appealing, exactly, but it was right.
She pulled her hands away and locked them loosely in her lap.
"Alright. Tell me about these lists." Clarke put her hands behind her head - she was finding it difficult not to touch Lexa and the weight of her head reminded her no, not yet, keep them there.
"Yes no maybe lists." Lexa nodded. "They're consent lists. Easily changed, if you change your mind about something. And they're for both of us." There was a sweetness in that statement - for both of them, for as long as they might be together. Growing together, changing things together. Perhaps never making another list with another partner.
Lexa swung off Clarke's lap.
Clarke stopped herself from groaning because obviously the lists were important but she very much enjoyed Lexa's weight in her lap and she wanted it back. Immediately. Right fucking now.
"I have two I prepared earlier. I printed them out in case I came around. I've been meaning to talk to you for a while about - why are you looking at me like that?" she asked, standing up with the paper in her hands, dropping her bag back to the floor. Clarke gave her a lazy, slow smile.
"Clarke." Lexa huffed. "This is serious. Don't distract me."
"Me? You're the distracting one! Look at you!" Lexa rolled her eyes and walked back over, ignoring her girlfriend. "Damn girl, you look good. I can't wait to get you into bed and just,"
"Dirty talk later, please. Do you have a pencil anywhere?"
"I am not above sitting us on opposite sides of the room if you can't concentrate. This is important, Clarke. It's for a healthy relationship with open communication and that is based on consent and trust." She sounded very much like she was repeating something and Clarke frowned.
"Where did you hear that?"
Lexa fiddled with the corner of the pages. "I talked with Anya," she confessed. "She thought this would be a good idea.
She looked uncertain. Clarke could see it and so she nodded and she held out her hand for a sheet. "It is. Let's do it."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course. Come on, hand it over." She sat up fully and noticed where Lexa's eyes went. "Do you need me to put my clothes back on?"
"I think...just a blanket. The idea of you putting your clothes back on annoys me."
"You want to get right to it when we're done with these," Clarke teased, draping a blanket over her shoulders and holding it closed. Lexa smiled and Clarke's eyes widened. That was basically a yes. They needed to start this now and finish it.
Partway through, thinking of some excellent things she could put on the yes column, Lexa moved to the other side of the room. The way she could Clarke’s eyes, hot and intent, on her back (and her butt) didn’t make it any easier.
“Thanks for this,” Clarke said when they were done, in a quiet voice.
“Yeah. I, uh,” her fingers brushed over the sheet. “I’ve never done anything like this with anyone. So. It’s,” she shrugged, ran a hand through her hair. Smiled at Lexa. “I like it, I like that I got to do this with you,” she confessed.
“So, uh,” Clarke cleared her throat. “What do we do now? Read through each others lists?”
“Yes. And you aren’t allowed to make fun or push about anything." She smiled when Clarke made an 'of course, duh' face down at her sheet. "And if something is one one yes list but on a no or a maybe,”
“Then they’re both a no or maybe.”
Lexa nodded. “Exactly.”
“And then we have sex?”
“If we want to.”
“Oh yeah. I want to.” Clarke tugged Lexa close, cupped her hand around the back of her girlfriend’s neck, and kissed her. It was hard to express exactly in words what the whole thing meant to her - everything, Lexa, making the list, that Lexa would make one with her, relationships - but she did her best to express it in the slow, soft way she kissed Lexa and in the way she parted reluctantly from her. “I love you,” she murmured.
“Thank you,” Lexa said, and her smile was young and quick and bright and so good it made Clarke ache. “I love you.”
“So. Let’s have a look at these lists, yeah?” Clarke forced herself to let go of Lexa but at some point, their hands came together and then, at a far more distinct point - when they were both done reading through their lists - their lips came together and after that, not so much together as Lexa came first, then Clarke, then Lexa again. And then Clarke once more, some time later.
Clarke stumbled out of bed late, very late the next morning.
"Well, well, well," came a very familiar, very smug voice. Clarke blinked her eyes open and groaned, seeing her best friend sitting on the lounge, a small cache of clothes in a pile in front of her. "Good morning," Octavia said cheerily. "Someone looks...very satisfied this morning."
"Octavia," Clarke said quietly. "No. Nope. I'm too tired for this," she admitted, and turned slowly and shuffled her way back into her bed. And into Lexa's side.
"Breakfast." Lexa prodded her side, a reminder.
"Octavia was out there," Clarke grumbled, a happy sigh escaping her when Lexa fitted herself into the hollow of Clarke's arms and pushed her face into her neck. The kiss there sent a shiver right through her and Lexa's little rumble of a laugh told her that yes, she did remember that Clarke was ticklish there and that she enjoyed teasing the reaction out. "We can have breakfast later."
"It will be lunch later."
"I want breakfast. A balanced diet is very important, Clarke."
"Octavia is out there."
"I can deal with Octavia." Lexa kissed her neck again and crawled out of the bed.
She was back moments later and Clarke laughed. "Shut up."
"I told you."
"Raven was there as well, Clarke. Both of them. You didn't tell me that."
"I didn't see her. Oh well. We'll just have to stay here all day," the blonde suggested and Lexa just rolled her eyes. She was definitely smiling when she flopped down next to her girlfriend.
"I suppose so."
“So you’re going then?”
“Your suit is hanging in your closet.”
Ankle crossed over his knee, he tapped lightly, thoughtfully, at his shoe. Once. Twice. “Do you know what we used to call them? Before all this…” His tapping paused. Finger twirled lightly. “Political correctness.”
“Faggots. Sick. Sinners.”
“That’s enough.” She clicked her bag shut, eyebrows cutting down into a frown. Try as she might, her mouth didn’t - couldn’t - make the firm, stern line she wanted. It wavered a touch. Lower lip trembled to hear him saying things like that. But it didn’t matter. He wasn’t looking at her anyway. “That is your daughter.” Her daughter, so small and delicate and lovely. Her beautiful, lovely little girl. “Our daughter, Joseph. Don’t you dare.”
He closed his book. Placed it on his desk.
They were in a war of quiet words and tiny closed doors. Her bag. Click. His book. Shut.
“I don’t know that girl.”
“Maybe,” she said, lifting her chin, “it’s because you haven’t taken the opportunity she has given us. The one she has been so generous in giving us.”
“Generous,” he scoffed.
“Yes, Joe - generous. You heard what she told us. What she said - what we did to her.”
“We didn’t make her gay. That’s some, some-”
“Don’t. That is not what I am talking about. We made her sad, Joe. And that is something that I am going to do my utmost to rectify so,” she sniffed, unfolded her hands from in front of her where she clasped her bag delicately, and laid a crisp white slip of paper on his desk in front of him. “If your obtuse, narrow-minded, bigoted head will allow you, this is your ticket. Now you can sit here all night a sad and lonely man or you can come and join me and hold the camera.”
At the door, she paused a moment longer. “I look forward to seeing you there,” she said, because he was wrong, and he was hurtful, but he was also her husband. She loved him.
He didn’t touch the ticket until long after she was gone.
“Ugh. When is this going to start already?” Clarke’s knee jittered impatiently. She craned her neck to peer over the sea of heads. “Come on, come on, move it along.”
“Clarke.” Abby slung her arm around her daughter’s shoulders, pressed a kiss to her temple. “Shut up.”
“Yeah Griffin.” Anya leaned forward to look around Raven and she glared at Clarke. “You’re disgusting.”
“You can’t go two hours without seeing her. It’s gross.”
“Raven, defend my honour.”
“What honour?” Raven asked and she laughed at Clarke’s devastation as Anya sniggered away.
“Fine. Whatever. So what if I can’t? Why would I want to?” Clarke relaxed into her mother’s side, crossed her arms sulkily. “I have a hot girlfriend.”
“Ew. That’s my sister you’re talking about.”
“Yes, but you can’t deny that she’s hot. Aesthetically at least.”
“Mum. Please. Don’t comment on the hotness of my girlfriend.”
“What? I’m a cool mum, I can do that kind of thing. Lexa is very, very attractive.”
“Fine.” Abby picked a wayward strand of Clarke’s hair, tucked it back into place. “Noted. Now, shift down a seat.” At Clarke’s confused frown - was she being banished? - Abby nodded to the aisle where a woman was standing and searching calmly for a familiar face. Upon seeing Abby, and her raised hand to wave, Lexa’s mother lifted her eyebrows and nodded. “Move it, Clarke.”
“Alright, alright,” she grumbled. The three younger girls all moved one seat to the left. “No Mr Woods today, I guess.”
Anya rolled her eyes. “No surprises there.”
“She’s here though.” Raven smiled, a touch wicked, and kissed Anya full on the mouth. That might have been solely to see Lexa’s mother stop and take a breath before continuing on toward them, but the softer smile and the nod she gave Anya was just between them. “That’s something,” she murmured.
“Mm.” Anya’s hand tightened on Raven’s.
“Be nice,” Abby told her fidgeting daughter. “She’s trying. Are you ever going to forgive her?”
“Maybe, maybe not.”
“Lexa hasn’t forgiven her. Lexa has just decided she would rather have her mother in her life than not and moved past it. I have not.” Nevertheless, Clarke gave Lexa’s mother a tight smile and a nod. “Hello, Diana.”
“Hello, Clarke. Abby, it’s very nice to see you again.”
“Diana, please, sit. The ceremony will be starting soon.”
“Oh yes. I apologise for my tardiness,” she excused herself. Clarke had to look away. She didn’t like the way that Lexa’s mother fixed herself - smoothed a hand over her hair, then over the front of her shirt, her skirt - because it was so Lexa that she couldn’t help but feel a hint of fondness. “I don’t suppose you would have picked up - oh you did, yes, thank you so much.” She took the pamphlet Abby had snagged for her and Clarke let go of her grudge long enough to point her to Lexa’s name. She pretended she didn’t see the way Diana’s hand stilled, careful not to touch Clarke’s by accident. She was trying, Clarke reminded herself. “Thank you, Clarke.”
After a few moments, Anya cleared her throat. “Hello mother, I also exist.”
Clarke lifted a hand to her mouth to cover her smile and then dropped it because whatever, who cared if it wasn’t polite to let her see that she was laughing, she deserved to be laughed at. Diana sat there, eyes wide. She knew she had been called out - it would be impolite now to say hello to Anya after she had either not noticed or ignored her but was it ruder still to ignore Anya’s greeting?
Clearly. She sat forward in her seat and looked down to the end of their row, to her daughter. Offered her a small smile. “Hello, Anya. I am pleased to see you.”
She was pardoned from saying more when a hush fell over the hall.
Diana’s eyes lingered on Anya a moment longer - her daughter hadn’t even looked her way but she lingered before she turned away - and then her eyes fell on Clarke. Clarke, who sat bolt upright and just...smiled.
The blonde searched for Lexa in the mass of black robes and caps. When she saw Lexa, Diana knew it because she lit up so brightly, just like she always did - when Lexa entered a room, when she turned toward her, when she reached over and took Clarke’s hand, she always smiled, just like that - and Diana sighed. She knew what that was. Love. And Clarke was very clearly a girl, which was something she had never expected for Lexa, but it was a love that she had always wanted for her and the clash of the two resulted in a stunning stillness with one thing coming out victor.
She reached over, rested the tips of her first two fingers on Clarke’s wrist. “My eyes,” she murmured. “I’m afraid they aren’t as good as I might wish. Would you point her out for me?”
Clarke nodded. “She’s right in the back. Of course. Woods, you know, alphabetical order. Can you see her?” She pointed to the back, to the right.
“Ah yes. Thank you.”
There were many, many people graduating and Clarke slumped in her seat further and further the longer it took. Finally, they reached the end of the alphabet and Anya reached across Raven and Clarke and twitched her fingers in a give it to me gesture.
“The camera,” she asked her mother. “I’ll take photos.”
“Thank you. Your father-”
“I don’t care.” She took the camera with gentle hands and rough movements. Clicked the seven required photos - Lexa standing, Lexa walking, Lexa shaking hands, Lexa shaking hands, Lexa holding her certificate, Lexa looking so very adorable searching for her family in the far too large hall, Lexa walking - and as many more as she could fit in between those.
She handed the camera back to her mother and turned to Raven, to smirk over the photos she had taken of Clarke - bright, adoring Clarke.
“Are those photos of me?” Lexa gone from the stage, Clarke focused on her friends. “They are. Let me see.” She flicked through them, nodding approvingly. “I look good. I’m so gonna get some later.”
Abby pressed her lips firmly together to stop from laughing out aloud and stayed staring straight ahead, and she made no comment on the strangled sound of shock that came from her companion.
Lexa’s mother managed a full two hours at the graduation party, a full hour and forty five minutes longer than Raven had bet. Which meant that Raven was sulking in the corner, Anya next to her and twenty dollars richer, when Lexa said goodbye outside the front door.
“Thank you for inviting me.”
“Thank you for coming,” Lexa said.
“Of course. I am incredibly proud of you,” her mother said back. “I will email you the photos Anya took.”
“I appreciate that.”
“Alright then. Enjoy the rest of your party.”
“Thank you, mother.”
Clarke wrapped her arms around Lexa’s waist and kissed her girlfriends cheek before looked to Diana. “Leaving already?”
“Ah. Yes. I am. I enjoyed myself,” she said, and Clarke smiled because she knew that the woman wasn’t lying.
“Good. I’m glad. Maybe we’ll see you again soon.”
It was all very tight and very formal and remained so until Lexa’s mother nodded and excused herself. Then, a knot of tension in Lexa’s shoulders dissolved and she turned in Clarke’s arms.
“You rile her up on purpose,” she stated and Clarke shrugged.
“Is it because I haven’t kissed you since this morning?”
“Mostly because she's a little bit shit but sure, it's because you haven't kissed me. Actually,” Clarke said thoughtfully, “you haven’t kissed me at all today. You were too worried, practicing marching down the hallway and shaking hands with Lincoln.” She laughed when Lexa blushed. “All your practice paid off, by the way. You looked incredible.”
“All I did was walk across a stage.”
“And you did it very well.” Lexa rolled her eyes and caught her in a kiss before Clarke could say anything more. When she pulled away, brushed their noses, Clarke drew in a breath to speak. Lexa groaned, rested her forehead on Clarke's shoulder. “I’m sorry, more kissing in just a second.”
“What is so important that you won’t kiss me?” Lexa demanded.
“I’m just really proud of you.” Clarke parted them only far enough that her eyes could take in all of Lexa’s face. Her hands reached up to cup Lexa’s cheeks.
“And I love you.” Lexa - god, her smile was glorious and small and soft and Clarke’s heart kicked against the cage of her ribs. Every time. Her smile was so incredible every. Time. “I love you,” she said again.
“I love you too.” Lexa tapped her fingers on Clarke’s hip. “We should kiss some more. Right now.” She shrieked when Clarke picked her up and swatted her her shoulder. “What are you doing? Clarke!”
“Carrying you into the house.” Clarke grunted. “What does it look like?”
“It looks like you’re struggling.”
“Shut up. I’m being romantic. We are,” Clarke dropped her on the other side of the threshold, breathed out, relieved. She really needed to start going to the gym again. “Starting a new aspect of our lives.”
“I graduated, Clarke, it’s not that big of a deal.”
“In that case, I’m just having fun.” She looked into their house, bright and full, and she smiled. “This is going to be good,” she murmured, and if she meant more than just the party, that evening stretching ahead of them, she didn't say it out aloud and she reached out to rap on the wooden door because that of all things was something she didn’t want to jinx.
Lexa pursed her lips. “How long do you think it will take to get them all out of our house?”
“Too long. And it’ll be too obvious. I say we just lock the door.”
“Raven has a lockpick perpetually strapped to her wrist.”
“Okay but if we are really, really quiet…” She stopped when Lexa laughed, raised her eyebrows in a question.
“That’s not exactly something you’re known for,” Lexa said, incredibly smug, and she left Clarke there staring after her as she rejoined the party.