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groceries and good customer relationships

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The girl standing at the end of the aisle, where Lexa is shelving canned goods, is annoying. She's been walking to and fro, looking for something she definitely couldn't find, if the times she walked the length of the aisle was to go by.

The girl already stopped a few times behind Lexa. At first Lexa leaned sideways, because, maybe, whatever the girl was looking for was on the shelf she was reorganizing but the girl move down the aisle after a few seconds. It happened a couple of times more and Lexa decided to ignore to customer altogether (if she didn't find what she was looking on the shelf the first time, she will certainly not find it even if she look a few more times), and to just continue shelving the other canned goods (god, who even eat canned pickles?)

But the girl keeps on walking through the aisle back and forth, and Lexa is really, really tired and she just want to shelve in peace, and the girl sometimes shuffle her feet which irritates Lexa, and it is 10 pm, why are there people who buys grocery this late? So the next time the girl gets near her, Lexa turned sharply and in the most polite voice she could muster asked, "Can I help you?"

The girl jump a little and stare at Lexa, Lexa stared back, face impassive. The girl opened her mouth a few times, as if to speak but nothing came out, and Lexa, doing her very best to not snap at this customer and keep being polite (it is not a problem, usually, but Lexa is running low on sleep and there are still chapters and chapters of books to read after her shift and Lexa is really fucking tired), asked the girl again, "What are you looking for?"

"Uhm.." the girl started, and in a slightly squeeky voice, said, "sugar!" She nods to herself and repeat, "sugar."

Lexa fight the urge to roll her eyes and just point the girl to the shelf where the sugars are (the first shelf that you will see when you step inside the grocery, why did the girl didn't see that?), and go back to shelving. Not sparing the blonde another glance.

And maybe if Lexa wasn't so irritated she might have have noticed the rising blush on the other girl's cheeks or the way she keep looking back at Lexa on her way to the cashier, bypassing the shelves of sugar, lips pouting a little.

/

The next time Lexa notices the girl, she is manning one of the counters. She asked if the girl have a loyalty card, as per usual, and when she receives no answer she looks up and see a blonde that looks familiar. She is worrying her lips and looking at Lexa.

Lexa was about to repeat the question when the girl, still in a slightly squeeky voice, answered, "nope!" and all but run once Lexa was done scanning her items.

What didn't occur to Lexa was that the girl chose to wait in line on her counter even though the self-help counter have less people on it.

/

One time, Lexa put her hair out of its usual braid and just left the brown curls hanging around her shoulders and cascading down her back. Her scalp had been itchy the entire shift, probably from her hair being pulled back too tightly. The store is about to close, anyway, so it is fine if she let her hair down.

As Lexa was sweeping the floor (so someone could mop it later), she heard shuffling behind her. Last minute buyers, she thinks, so she turned and stepped aside to let them through, eyes still on her broom and the floor she was sweeping. As she did so, she heard a small gasp and a muttered beautiful from the person that is now in front of her.

Lexa looked up and saw the blonde girl quickly look down. Her again, Lexa thinks. She was about to ask her what she needed when the girl pointed at the broom in Lexa's hand.

"That-That is probably the most beautiful broom in a broom closet full of brooms," the girl said quickly, voice octaves high (Lexa's starting to think it was the girl's natural voice.) She opened her mouth as if to say something more but then thought better of it and just made an abrupt turn, she all but fled from where Lexa was standing.

Lexa just stood there for a while, confused about what the girl had said (brooms are beautiful?) and a bit bewildered, but then she dismisses it. She had heard weirder things from dumb or drunk (or sometimes both) college kids, afterall, so she just proceed with her cleaning.

/

The next time she saw the girl, Lexa was doing inventory check.

She noticed in her periphery blonde hair and blue hoodie enter the store from her perch on the farthest shelf from the door. Moments later, Lexa looked up from counting goods when she heard a cough, and there was the blonde girl, asking, somewhat nervously (probably from the impassive stare Lexa is giving her), if Lexa could reach one of the cereal boxes on the top shelf. She glance back at the packets she was counting, the tip of her pen touching the one where she stopped, then glance back at the girl, hoping the girl would get the hint that she was busy. But the girl is looking at her feet, toeing the white tiles of the floor, her lower lip caught between her teeth. So Lexa just sighs and stand up to help the girl, walking a few shelves over to where the cereals are, she even smiled politely (Anya will kill her if she found out that Lexa was scaring the customers, even if it was unintentional) at the other girl when she gave her the cereal box.

What Lexa noticed was that when the girl asked for help, her voice is not naturally squeeky (thank god) but deep and somewhat husky, like when a person just woke up from a good night of sleep, and Lexa found that she like her voice.

What Lexa failed to notice was that Lincoln, who was inches taller than Lexa, was shelving boxes of biscuits and cookies on the other end of the aisle where the cereals are. Lexa also didn't notice the pleased flush on the other girl's cheeks or the slight upward curl of the other girl's lips when Lexa handed the cereal box to her with a smile.

/

After those few interactions, it's kinda hard to not notice the girl.

Lexa see her inside the store everytime she was on shift, sometimes on her counter, othertimes asking her for help, be it reaching for something or looking for a specific product, up to the point where the girl became familiar.

Greetings of good evening were muttered first. Then small, fleeting his and hellos were exchanged. Sometimes a small smile here and there. Lexa doesn't mind, Anya always tell her it was good to have good customer relationship, inspires customer loyalty and all that.

But Lexa kinda finds it odd, why the girl chose to buy groceries at night. Was she not afraid of walking home alone? And why buy just a few things and then come back couple days later to buy the same stuff? Why not just buy a lot in one go? Does she live with a lot of people? Why do they never accompany the girl?

So Lexa become curious. She sometimes find herself watching the girl. Staring while the girl peruses the shelves with furrowed eyebrows and pursed lips, or while she mull over what brand she should buy, worrying her lip while weighing pros and cons.

The girl is really pretty, Lexa thinks, if a bit weird. And the lips she was biting looked so soft and Lexa wonders how it will feel like to ki-- And that is when Lexa knew to cease her staring for the night.

/

Once, Lexa was looking unseeingly at the door. It was a slow night and Lexa was definitely not waiting for a blonde in a blue hoodie to come in when the said blonde came into view. It just so happened that her eyes meet the other girl's and Lexa saw how they brighten when she stepped inside the store and Lexa couldn't help the thought of clear, beautiful autumn skies from invading her mind. (Lexa also wonders how someone could be so happy with just stepping inside a grocery store. In the middle of the night, nonetheless.)

The girl smiled Lexa's way and Lexa smiles back (because good customer relationship, nothing else.) The girl then proceed to get whatever she needed this time (some bag of chips and two tubs of ice cream, no wonder she look so happy,) and walked to the counter.

"Slow night?" The girl asked once she was done putting down all her junk foods, voice a bit loud (but, thankfully, not squeeky.)

Lexa wince a little. It is a slow night and she got used to the quiet, the only sound is the soft music coming from the speakers, so the loud voice is a bit jarring.

When Lexa looked up, she found the girl looking at her, biting her lower lip nervously. Maybe it was the walk back home alone, she thinks (surely, the source of her nervousness can't be Lexa, she's not scared of her anymore, is she?)

"More like dead," Lexa answered, crinkling her nose and smile a little at the blonde, hoping to ease the girl's nervousness somewhat.

The girl gave her a small grin in return and Lexa think it was mission accomplished. And well, why not go all the way and make small talk? (Lexa never do small talk. Also, Lexa wants to erase the girl's remaining wariness of her) So she asked, "Movie night?" while glancing at the girl's purchases.

The girl's grin widen, pleased with the question or with the growing silence being broken, Lexa doesn't know.

"Yeah," the girl said. "My friends decided to clear the apartment of all books and relax a little. You know, take a break from studying," then she makes a face and add, "the stress is making us all grumpy," followed with small laugh that sounded like a huff.

Lexa eyes the girl's small grin, she can't really imagine the girl being grumpy, but Lexa just smile at the her, sympathetic to the woes of the girl, what with her being a stressed college student herself.

She hand the plastic bag where the girl's purchases are and said, "Well, I hope you enjoy your movies."

"We mostly just make fun of horror movies," the girl said while pocketing her change (she didn't even count it.) "But thank you," and after hesitating a little, softly adds, "Lexa," and the girl is out of the door.

Lexa can not decide what she liked more, the small huff that is a laugh or the sound of her name coming out from the blonde's lips.

/

So, that is how the small, if sometimes awkward ( because Lexa never do small talk, dammit), talks started. Just mundane stuff, like weather (in the middle of the night. See: awkward), or bad purchasing decisions (that one became a short debate that the blonde had won by firing health facts at Lexa), or music choices (Echo's bad 80's ballad playlist echoing through the speakers and the blonde's mock-serious comment of "i admire you for not falling asleep on your job"), and other random things.

And the girl is not really that weird, Lexa learned. A bit odd, yes ("I am an art student, Lexa," the girl said, lifting her chin, after Lexa mentioned beautiful brooms in the middle of their conversation about Harry Potter movies and the girl flushes, clearly remembering the interaction.

"I find beauty in all manner of things," she said defiantly, but her cheeks are still burning.

"But you gotta say, finding brooms beautiful is a bit odd," Lexa teases.

"Again, art student," the girl said pointing at herself. "We are an odd bunch. It's a given."

Lexa just hums an unimpressed "whatever you say," and look at the girl. But inside, Lexa is oddly charmed.) but it just made the girl more interesting.

Lexa also found out what the other girl's name when she asked if the blonde wanted to get a loyalty card (which is definitely not an excuse to learn the girl's name) since she buys at the store regularly.

"Clarke," Lexa read from the form, testing how the name rolls off her tongue. The girl--Clarke, Lexa corrects herself, beams at that.

Lexa tells herself that the fluttering in her stomach is from hunger and not at all caused by a blonde girl (even though it happens a lot when the said blonde girl is around.)

/

"You should bang her," Anya said one night, just after Clarke stepped out of the store.

The small smile on Lexa's lips, left from another brief interaction with Clarke, fall at that and she looked sharply at Anya.

"What?" Anya asked when Lexa just continue staring at her. "You know you want to," she said, smirking.

"I don't know what you are talking about," Lexa answered looking at the scanner, what a fascinating scanner it is.

"Oh, Lexa," Anya said condescendingly. Her amusement could probably be heard from space. She pat Lexa's shoulder twice, to Lexa's chagrin, then say "Tell that to your heart eyes."

"I do not have heart eyes," Lexa said impassively, swatting Anya's hand away from her shoulder.

Anya just cackle (an honest to god cackle) at that, give Lexa one last pat, and walked back to the storage room.

Lexa still glares at Anya even after the door has closed behind her back. And then she sighed.

"She's probably not interested, anyway," she said quietly, looking (not longingly, nope) outside the store where Clarke had disappeared minutes ago.

/

Clarke handed Lexa one of the chocolate drinks that she bought (that chocolate soy milk again) and leaned on the counter. It's another dead night (this became an inside joke between the two of them), and the only people are Lexa and Clarke (Anya's inside the storage room, probably sleeping.) Lexa accepted the drink and looked at Clarke questioningly.

"You're about to fall over," she said with a small grin, eyes soft.

Lexa raised her eyebrows at that and gave Clarke a half smile, touched by Clarke's concern. "Classes are killing me," she said, an explanation at her more-tired-than-usual state.

"You know, chocolate soy milk is not really my thing," Lexa said, checking and turning the bottle in her palm. She never liked soy milk, they taste weird, and she doesn't think she would like the chocolate variation either.

Clarke shrugged, "The marketing advertisement promised energy boosts and nutrients the body needs," her eyes roaming on Lexa's face, "looks like you need both."

"Oh, c'mon," the blonde said when Lexa just continue staring at her (she can't help it), with a raised brow. "I promise you, it's not that bad."

Lexa is still not convinced but she twisted the cap off and took a sip, just to humour Clarke. She hummed a little, it didn't taste weird, it tasted just like any other chocolate drink, actually. Lexa is a bit disappointed.

"Yeah, not bad," Lexa said, licking the excess chocolate off her lips while putting the cap back on, eyes on the information printed at the back of the bottle.

(If Lexa had just looked up, she would have notice how the blonde's eyes trace the movement of her tongue, pupils widening a bit, swallowing a fraction of blue irises.)

"Thank you," Lexa said, looking up from reading the bottle label, and give Clarke a grateful smile.

"You're welcome," Clarke answered as she stepped away from the counter, cheeks a little pink. She tilted her head towards the door, and said, "so, I'm gonna go," and then she turned and started walking hastily towards the exit.

Lexa narrows her eyes at Clarke, it had been a while since she last saw Clarke act weirdly (the last time is when they crash down on the floor.

Lexa teased her about being so short and the blonde took that as a challenge and tried stubbornly to reach something from the top shelf.

She can't remember what happened but they both ended on the floor, Clarke landed on top of her, thankfully not hurt. But Lexa's sternum, where Clarke's elbow dig a bit too hard, hurts for a few days, along with her bruised ass.

Clarke apologized profusely but she couldn't really meet Lexa's eyes after that and the next few times they see each other.) She's about to call Clarke back to ask if something is wrong when the blonde made an abrupt about-face.

"You know, chocolate soymilk is not really my thing, too," Clarke started, hands twisting and untwisting on the strap of her eco-bag, a clear sign of the girl's nervousness.

Lexa's about to say that it's okay to not like soy milks, if that is what she's worried about but Clarke keep on talking--

"It's actually O's-- Octavia's--my roommate's thing. The soymilk. I just drink it when I run out of milk. Which is funny because I'm here, like, every other day and I could buy a few more cartons of milk easily. But my other roommate, Raven, sometimes she chugs milk like it's water and never tells me when we don't have any anymore--not that she's a bad roommate! She's good, she's actually my bestfriend, along with O. She just forgets. So anyway, I don't have any choice but to drink O's milk, which is the chocolate soymilk. And I promised O that I will replace it every time i took a bottle. That's why I buy chocolate soy milk so often. But now I'm rambling and everything I just said was beside the point! What my point is," here, Clarke inhaled deeply and stopped talking, then let the air out slowly through her mouth. Lexa is oddly reminded of a deflating balloon, losing all its air.

Clarke's face is completely red and Lexa can't figure out if it is from embarassment or lack of air. It's actually impressive, how long Clarke could go on talking, faster and faster, without stopping to take a breath. But Lexa is bit afraid that Clarke might pass out because of that.

"Clarke?" Lexa called but she was ignored.

So Lexa stand up slowly, tentatively, afraid that any sudden movement might make Clarke bolt. She still hasn't resumed her talking, just standing there, looking at her feet, hands gripping the bag too tightly. And from Lexa's position, she could see that Clarke is biting her lower lip furiously.

Lexa walked silently towards Clarke and stopped a couple of feet away. Lexa doesn't know if it's okay to touch the girl so she just opt for calling her name again.

"Clarke," Lexa repeated softly, leaning a bit to see the other girl's face. Then she asked, "Are you all right?"

Clarke nods. She then put both of her hands on her face, the strap of the bag sliding down to the crook of her elbow. She rubs her face furiously, as if she's trying to lessen the redness of it.

It didn't take long for Clarke to compose herself, just a few deep breaths and some more face rubbing.

"Sorry 'bout that," Clarke sighed, voice huskier than usual. Her face still red, but not enough to make Lexa worry about her passing out. "I tend to ramble when I'm nervous."

"Yes, Clarke, I noticed," Lexa teased, "It would be hard not to, after that," she adds, smiling fondly at the blonde. Clarke just humms, so Lexa asked, "you sure you're okay?"

Clarke nods again and mumbled "sure," but she won't meet Lexa's eyes.

Lexa leaned her head further to see the blonde's face, trying to catch her eyes. But Clarke seemed intent to not make any eye contact. Lexa sighed, she's sure that if she doesn't do anything this would be just like the last time, Clarke acting awkward and skittish around her, she would probably avoid the store for a while, too. Lexa is never good at comforting people, but for the blonde, she will try.

"So?" Lexa prompts, elongating the o, trying to sound playful.

"'So' what?" Clarke questions, glancing at the door.

"So, what is your point?" Lexa replies quickly, afraid that Clarke might excuse herself and run out of the door. "If it's not your roommate's thing about chocolate soy milk and your other roommate chugging milk like water, then what?"

Clarke groaned loudly at that and Lexa tried to keep a straight face, fighting a smile she knows would look affectionate, but it's kind of hard. The blonde look very adorable in her flustered state, hands over her eyes as if that would stop Lexa from seeing her.

"Can we, like," Clarke starts tentatively, eyes still hidden behind her hands, "forget that."

"What, your point or you being cute?"

"Lexa, it was embarrassing, not cute,"

"Not from where I'm standing," and that is true, the whole thing is oddly endearing. Lexa move closer to touch Clarke's shoulder comfortingly. She leans her head closer, too, to catch the blonde's eyes, then adds"and it's just me, Clarke, no need to be embarrassed."

"That's even worse," Clarke grumbled quietly, but she finally lift her head to look at Lexa, bringing their heads closer even more.

"Hi," Lexa murmurs when her eyes meet the blonde's. This close, she could see flecks of gold in Clarke's blue eyes (and Lexa wonders how clear blue skies could have stars), her eyes mapping really faint freckles on Clarke's nose that she haven't noticed before. Her eyes never strayed below Clarke's nose, it would be dangerous in this proximity.

Clarke's eyes is oddly brighter, and Lexa realized that it's because of the slight wet sheen on her eyes. Lexa immediately feels bad about teasing her. "All right?"

"Yeah," Clarke answers, she tries to smile and then wince, frowning a little, "though my lip is a bit sore."

And before she could stop herself, Lexa's eyes flicked down at the said lip. A very stupid mistake. No wonder it is sore. Her lower lip is swollen and so red, it looks bruised, like someone kissed Clarke and nibbled on her lower lip over and over and over and stopped just shy of drawing blood. And Lexa's mind conjured an image of her doing just like that to Clarke.

A flash of desire runs hot through Lexa and can feel her mouth drying up, breathing suddenly became a struggle.

"It looks raw," she said to Clarke, she hopes her voice doesn't sound as hoarse as it feels like, "but you didn't draw blood."

Lexa looks up at Clarke's eyes, deeming it safer to stare at (she is afraid her control might slip if she stare a bit longer at Clarke's lips), but it's just as bad.

Clarke's eyes are dark, dilated. Pupils blown wide, swallowing the irises and leaving just a sliver of blue. Lexa thinks her eyes' state is probably not far off from Clarke's. And Lexa realizes that Clarke is staring at Lexa's lips, and--nope, eyes is not as bad, it is worse.

Lexa's hand on Clarke's shoulder (she had completely forgotten it was there) inches closer to Clarke's neck unconsciously and Clarke's eyes snapped up to meet Lexa's.

She felt Clarke take in a shaky breath and--Lexa felt something inside of her snap and fuck it, she cupped the back of Clarke's neck, pulling her up for a kiss but Clarke beat her to it. She grabbed Lexa's collar to pull her down, crashing their lips together.

Lexa wants to say that there are fireworks or stars when their lips met but she honestly cannot remember, so overwhelmed by Clarke's soft lips and the feel of her, pressing in front of Lexa, of Clarke's scent surrounding her, making Lexa want to bury her face on Clarke's neck and inhale, inhale, inhale her. She pulled Clarke closer, winding her hand around the blonde's back and press their lips harder, kissing her enthusiastically, she runs her tongue over Clarke's lips and decided to do what she was thinking moments ago. She put Clarke's lower lip between her teeth and nibble on it, licking the lip while doing so.

Clarke let out a moan and Lexa pulled back, thinking she might have hurt the blonde but Clarke leaned up and chases her lips, breathing out "more, Lexa," her voice impossibly huskier.

And Lexa thinks she might be powerless to deny the blonde anything, so Lexa just continue kissing Clarke. The store completely forgotten. But it's fine, it's a dead night anyway.

/

"What were you trying to say earlier?"

"Hmm?"

"You know, your point."

"Oh, I was trying to ask you out on a date."

"Really?"

"It was actually along lines of 'since choco soy milk is not both our thing maybe we should go and get coffee together next time.'"

"Oh, that is.. quite smooth, Clarke. Shame you butched it up."

"Hey! Rude, much?"

"So, anyway, are you?"

"What?"

"Still going to ask me out?"

"Oh, it depends."

"On?"

"On if you are going to resume kissing me in the next five seconds."

/

They went on a date the next day.