She’s infuriating. She’s also infuriatingly pretty and the only lab partner you’ve had that isn't a total ass, but still - she’s infuriating. She keeps up with you in the work and never messes up the experiment - you work in this weird tandem, in which you already seem to know what parts the other one will do, and what’s left for you. It’s kind of like a dance, but she never talks, and you were never a fan of silent discos.
You mostly communicate in small nods and stoic looks. Or, at least, she does. Occasionally she’ll throw a smile your way and you feel like an idiot when your heart races because it’s just Lexa. The very same Lexa who stumbled upon you in the bathroom on the day you found out your dad was sick and hugged you until your tears subsided, and all you could hear were whispered words that you didn’t understand. You had kind of been under the impression that she hated you until that moment (you’re still not entirely sure where you stand).
Which brings you back to the infuriating. She’s always muttering in words you don’t understand because you’d been forced to take French as a kid, and you’d picked up some Latin from medical journals lying around your house, but for the love of all things good, you had no idea what was going through her mind, or coming out of her mouth, most of the time.
The problem was only furthered by the general lack of emotion of her face. If you watched her long enough you could see the flicker of a smile on her lips when she got a question right, or the shallow bob in her throat when she felt unprepared. If you paid enough attention you could see the flutter of her eyelids when she grew tired of a menial task, or the crossing and uncrossing of her ankles as she eagerly awaited escaping to soccer practice.
But the muttering. The muttering you could not figure out. Mostly because she did it when your back was turned or you were distracted by the blossoming trees outside. There were basically no signals for you to ascertain whether or not she was slyly calling you an ass hat.
“Clarke.” She’s talking. She is talking, and she looks like she has been for a while, and you have not been listening even a little bit, and what if it’s important, oh god it has to be important because she never speaks to you.
“Sorry, I sort of zoned out.” You watch the ghost of a smile pass over her lips as she hands you a flask with some kind of coloured liquid.
“I realised.” You look closer at the flask in your hand and allow your eyes to scan over to the instruction sheet on the table.
“You did the experiment without me?”
“I didn’t want to disturb your musings, that tree outside is quite exciting.” You place the glass on the table with a small nod before you realise she made a joke and end up smiling. You open your mouth to somehow explain yourself before you look like that lazy ass lab partner that no one wants. The second you decide on the best course of action you’re interrupted by the shrill piercing of the bell, and Lexa whispering something unintelligible under her breath before collecting her things and walking straight out the door.
“Clarke, you’re drooling again.” You’re not. You’re totally not. You wipe your mouth anyway as you slide your eyes away from Lexa, who was pointedly ignoring the carrot sticks Anya was throwing at her, and over to Raven who’s smirking far too widely for someone who has indulged you with one too many of her secrets.
“I don’t drool.”
“You do for the Commander.” You kick her leg under the table as she snorts out the nickname Lexa gained after a particularly impressive soccer game – even more impressive were her legs in the uniform (if you were one for drooling, that would have been the moment. Not that you would ever admit that out loud). “Just walk over and say I’m craving some bacon, wanna strip? And then do that eyebrow thing you do. It’s a no brainer.” You kick her leg again despite it not having the desired effect and she laughs unabashedly until Octavia falls into the seat beside her.
“What’s so funny?”
“Clarke’s just wondering what pick up line would work best on Lexa.”
“No I’m n-“
“What about I think you’re suffering from a lack of vitamin me?” These were your friends. Why were they your friends and how were they just offhandedly coming up with this crap, like you were actually going to walk over to Lexa and have the confidence to do something other than smile and tell her you’d see her in Bio.
“You two are idiots.”
“She’s right, O. Lexa would much prefer topical ones like do you have eleven protons because you’re sodium fine.” They’re both nodding along seriously by the time you huff and walk off in the direction of the art room, which just maybe coincidentally meant you had to pass Lexa’s table and offer a small smile because it would be weird if you didn’t. You had to smile at her. You’re heart didn’t have to flip when she smiled back.
You’re not at all oblivious to her small mutter or Anya’s mocking tone but you have no idea what’s being said.
You suffer through ignorance for another three weeks until salvation comes to you in the form of Lincoln angrily muttering at his sketch when it doesn’t go quite right. You startle embarrassingly when a “skrish” slips from his mouth because you've heard that before. You know you've heard that before.
“What language is that?” It’s his turn to startle as he turns from his work, avoiding the watchful eye of your professor who had only just stopped moaning at the two of you for talking too much and drawing too little, like she was actually going to throw the two of you out when you were the best in the class. He seems to come to the same conclusion as you as he turns away from his drawing and gives you his attention.
“Could you teach me?”
“Lexa” He grins like he wants to laugh at you, like he’s already planning the incessant teasing that’s going to come your way, especially when he inevitably tells Raven and Octavia. You really should have thought this through, Googled it and pretended that you weren’t completely crushing on your mute lab partner who may or may not hate you. “Can you just help me now and leave the teasing until after I work out if she’s been secretly threatening my life?” Thankfully he agrees. You still think it’s the worst idea you've ever had.
You’re not listening. At all. The sheer existence of the instruction sheet in front of you means you muted the nonsense words coming from Kane’s mouth, and instead found yourself trying to surreptitiously map out Lexa’s jaw in this particular light to sketch later - which seems way less creepy when you don’t think too closely about it. You've been watching her out the corner of your eye for at least twenty minutes by the time she turns and catches your gaze with a quirked brow.
“Will you be participating today, Clarke?” Klark. You try not to dwell on the fact that you shouldn't be letting your mind wander to those places at just the simple sound of your name in her voice. Mostly because you don’t want to actively stop those thoughts. Those thoughts are your only solace by the time Trig rolls around at the end of the day and you can’t stomach another equation.
“Yeah, let’s make some magic.” You should just never talk. Or maybe you should never stop because she’s smiling. She’s actually smiling and whilst it’s definitely in a way that tells you she’s trying not to outright laugh at the crap spewing from your mouth, it’s still a smile just for you.
You’re somewhat thankful that she refrains from speaking for the rest of the period, instead falling back into your easy rhythm. You’re also insanely disappointed because you think you could definitely get used to the lyrical beat of her words despite her aloof persona. You know it was probably for the best of your health when you finish cleaning up and hear her mumble before catching your eye and all but running away.
You definitely hear ‘beautiful’.
Your heart stutters for the next hour.
You study the language meticulously for weeks.
You study Lexa’s words even more meticulously. You've never been more thankful for your inability to half ass this whole thing than in the moment you arrive at Lincoln’s annual pool party to the sound of her shouting your name in a very un-Lexalike manner.
“CLARKE GRIFFIN!” She’s giggling. Honest to God giggling as she walks (stumbles) over to you with the widest grin you’ve ever seen on her face. The whole thing makes way more sense when she steps into your space and you smell the fruity alcohol on her breath. The very same breath that's dancing dangerously low on your chest as she rests her forehead against your collarbone. You didn’t really think you’d shown up that late to the party, but a quick scan of the room tells you at least fifty percent of your friends are drunk - including Lexa, who’s apparently trying to blow raspberries against your bare skin. “The room is spinning, Clarke Griffin.”
“Is it, Lexa Woods?” You ask mockingly and gasp when she playfully bites your neck in retaliation. You’re for sure going to combust the moment she soothes out the area with her tongue. You’re going to combust and just exist as a tiny pile of bisexual ash and repressed sexual desires. You had to be dreaming this. This had to be some kind of sordid dream that you were going to awkwardly wake up from in the middle of a lab, with drool on your chin, and a silently laughing Lexa.
You pinch yourself.
“Mockery is not the product of a strong mind, Clarke Griffin.”
“You’re right, I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright, Clarke Griffin.” She says confidently before she burrows further into you and whispers just like she always does before she runs off. “I still like you.” Your breath catches because you know what she said. You know what she said and she hasn’t run in the opposite direction.
You know exactly why a second later when you hear a subtle snore slip from her throat.
You pinch yourself.
Okay. Definitely awake.
She remembers. You know she does because she has refused to look you in the eye for three days and you thought the two of you were finally making some progress - a few jokes here and there, small smiles in greeting. Normal human interactions. You even miss the tiny incoherent babbles that she always parts with, and the confident smirks she sends your way when she catches you staring for a moment too long.
“Just tell her you like her.” Octavia breaks your reverie.
“What would I even say?”
“How about ‘Hey Lexa, I spent an entire hour yesterday angrily attempting to make the shade of green that is your eyes.’” You really needed to start eating lunch alone. Or making new friends.
“Firstly Lincoln, nobody asked you. And secondly, I don’t sound like that.” You sigh. “You guys are right though, despite being douches.”
“I’m sorry, could you repeat that?”
“Oh, sorry, Raven" You lean in closer. "I said you're douches.”
You were almost definitely going to regret this.
Your (loosely titled) plan essentially just consists of you getting Lexa to say something first and then you surprise bitching her with the knowledge that, you too, have recently (somewhat) learned to speak Trigedasleng. It’s obviously a terrible plan since it completely hinges on Lexa breaking the silent vow she took after she got drunk and adorably clingy, giving you a visible hickey in the process. It is, however, the only plan you currently have, so you stick with it.
You stick with it so well that the bell’s sounding and you’re still waiting for Lexa to say something, literally anything, to you. A part of you actually begins to believe in the possibility of a miraculous higher being when she opens her mouth and utters soft words that you actually manage to decipher.
“You look insanely pretty today.” This was your chance. You catch her wrist as she attempts her latest escape act, and she startles in a manner so completely opposite from the soccer captain/hardened warrior thing that she usually has going on, that you almost forget you’re supposed to be saying something.
“You always look insanely pretty.” At first you think that you’ve somehow said it wrong, that you’ve just made a massive fool of yourself because she’s walking off. Then you realise that she’s tugging you along with her, and pulling you into the empty locker room with an oddly soft tug.
“You speak Trigedasleng.” She states simply, although you can hear the apprehension behind her steely façade.
“I learned.” She swallows hard.
“About a month ago.” You admit to her grimace. The flicker of her gaze makes you think she’s about to take off running again but she still hasn’t let go of your wrist. You wonder if she even realises she’s running her thumb across your pulse. You wonder if she can feel how fast it’s racing, if she knows that she’s the reason your heart is thumping in the first place.
“So you’ve understood pretty much everything I’ve said to you this whole time?” You nod. “And you didn’t say anything because...”
“I spent some time figuring you out and then I thought you were working up the courage to say it in English. I kind of got tired of waiting though.” She looks less nervous when you shift your arm to catch her hand in yours. “Which is why I’m asking you on a date.”
“A date?” Her brow furrows and you’d call her adorable if you didn’t think it would make her scoff her smile away.
“Yeah, you know – food, laughter, maybe a kiss if you play your cards right.”
“And what if I deal right now?” Your stomach flips when she smirks. She was flirting? She was actually flirting and this was quite possibly the best moment of your life, including that time Raven was halfway through some joke at your expense when she was hit in the face with a soccer ball (which, come to think of it, was kicked by Lexa).
“I think it’d be a safe bet.” You take it all back. Kissing her then was the best moment of your life.
Or maybe it was the moments following your date. The moments under the cover of darkness when you hike her up against your bedroom wall and hear a whole load of words you’re not even sure are real, and the one that kick-started your salvation, “skrish!”