It was surprising the characters that would walk into her flower shop.
There were the usual one-time customers - men scurrying to hastily grab at rose bouquets, women who trundled in, critically eying every arrangement and petal before inevitably buying what Lexa had dubbed the 'open house showing' bouquet - a rather tame and inoffensive collection of roses, lilies, and alstroemeria.
Then there were her regulars.
The towering, gruff biker who purchased the occasional sapling, beard wilder and bushier with every visit.
An older, composed woman, whose mien screamed stern and strict, posture impeccably straight and stare frank and direct. But would smile, blindingly bright and beautiful when they talked about her efforts paying off with a budding garden.
The quiet young girl who came in weekly and shyly dropped small, crumpled bills and loose coins on her counter for a handful of flowers (Lexa always made sure to add a few extra flowers for her dedication).
Her sister, who kept killing her herb plants and every time insisted Lexa must have given her a defective bunch (Lexa was pretty sure Anya was just worried she wasn't making enough to keep afloat since she also insisted on paying full price when Lexa tried to give her the plants for free).
When a young blond woman wandered into her shop, curiously poking around, Lexa was ready to field some basic plant care questions and maybe sell an orchid and never see her again.
But it seemed she was content to browse around (Lexa really hoped she wasn't just some window shopper who wasn't even planning on buying anything) so Lexa just gave her a nod of acknowledgement and let her be, checking on her occasionally out of the corner of her eye.
The woman sneezed cutely after burying her nose in a cluster of jasmine and Lexa fought back a smile.
She looked up, expression sheepish. "Sorry. The fragrance was stronger than anticipated."
Lexa cocked her head. "The small size is a bit misleading. Is there is something I can help you with today?"
The blonde grinned. "So my friends have all commented, separately and on multiple occasions, that my apartment would benefit from another living thing that wasn't me, and since I'm in no way qualified for a pet, here I am."
Lexa nodded congenially. "Studies have shown there are numerous health benefits to having houseplants."
The woman shrugged. "Maybe just start with one. The only benefit I'm really looking for is getting my friends off my back. What's cheapest?"
Lexa frowned reflexively at the dismissal coloring her tone. She wasn't one to get all up in arms about what happened to her wares after they'd been sold, but knowingly selling them to someone who clearly didn't care at all rankled a bit. It just felt like a waste.
The other woman seemed to sense her mood, letting out a gusty sigh and running a hand through golden curls. "Look, sorry, I don't mean to offend, it's just there's a reason I've skipped straight from goldfish to plants." Blue eyes rolled self-deprecatingly before meeting Lexa's expectant gaze. "Okay, I'll admit. I'll probably kill whatever you sell me." She shrugged again, flashing a smirk. "Not much use spending a chunk of cash on something that'll die in a week, right?"
Lexa arched an eyebrow. Challenge accepted. She nodded once, sharply, coming out from behind the counter to walk a circuit around her shop. To her surprise the woman fell in step beside her, lips curled in a confident smirk.
It was unfairly attractive.
But she refused to be swayed by a pretty face. And when she finally stopped in front of her chosen plant she masked her triumph when that smug smile dropped right to the floor. She picked up a small pot, holding it aloft in the palm of her hand. "Astrophytum myriostigma. Or Bishop's Miter."
Blue eyes narrowed at her before dropping to look at the small plant. "Looks like starfruit."
That broke Lexa's facade, lips quirking up in amusement.
"Ah. You smiled."
Lexa immediately frowned.
Lexa cocked her head.
The other woman threw her hands up in a huff. "Fine. Just ring me up for your invincible mutant desert starfruit you cheat."
The blonde muttered and grumbled all the way to the register and out the door, purchase in one hand and Lexa's painstakingly detailed care instructions in the other.
"A fucking cactus," drifted back to Lexa just as the door swung shut, and Lexa allowed another smile slip free.
Unlikely as it was, Lexa hoped she saw her again.
A couple of weeks later the blond woman was back again. Lexa straightened from where she was bent over the alliums, cutting her off just as she opened her mouth. "I take it by your aggravated stomping into my shop your cactus is still alive?"
The woman reared up short, clearly not expecting that. "What?" She paused, a bit thoughtful, then disgruntled again. "...Actually yeah, the damn thing is just thriving."
Lexa smothered a smile at the heavy sarcasm.
"But that's not why I'm here."
Lexa brushed her palms absently over her thighs, silently bidding the other woman to continue.
The blonde started pacing, hands jerking frenetically through the air. "I need to get my boss a new office plant."
"Desk plant or floor plant?"
Blue eyes blinked at her. "...You're not gonna ask why I need to get my boss a new office plant?"
She sounded almost disappointed. Lexa decided to humor her. "Why do you need to get your boss a new office plant?"
"I may or may not have killed his previous one."
"I assume by that note of pride in your tone this is meant as proof of your unsurpassable streak of inevitable plant homicide?" Lexa responded drily.
"Well, that and my boss is an ass."
Despite herself, Lexa was heartily amused. "And he had a particular fondness for his office plant?"
"Well, no. But now he has to spend his own money to replace it." She shrugged. "I know, it's petty and small and pretty insignificant, but I gotta find my kicks somewhere."
Lexa chuckled. "I suppose you do."
The blonde strut over to one of the hanging ferns, giving the suspended pot a light push. "Plants are supposed have meanings, right? Like their own secret language?"
"Yes. Although it's hardly secret."
She was waved off carelessly. "Yeah, that, whatever." Blue eyes pinned her, mischief creeping over her features. "So...what have you got that says 'You're a lazy, pompous jerkwad?'"
Lexa let out an amused little huff. "Well, I suppose Narcissus Poeticus would fit the bill, although it's not really an office plant. But if you pair it with Eucalyptus Cinerea…" she eyed her customer. "Will 'slothful egoist' work for you?"
The blonde grinned in delight. "Yeah, I think that'll do fine."
"Would you like to add a card?" Lexa picked up the two plants on the way to the counter, carefully balanced in each hand.
Lexa whipped her head up. "Excuse me?"
"My name. Clarke Griffin. I figure you should at least know the name of the woman who is trying to kill your cactus."
Clarke. Lexa let it roll around her mind for a moment. It was nice. Unusual. She liked it. "I do hope you're not actively trying to kill it."
Clarke just winked. Lexa tried and failed to contain a blush. She cleared her throat. "Well, Ms. Griffin-"
Lexa paused. "...Clarke," she ignored the tiny quiver that tingled down her spine at Clarke's satisfied grin. "...Would you like to add a note to your boss' new plants? Perhaps an apology for assassinating his old one?"
Clarke scoffed. "As if I would ever be caught." She squinted at Lexa. "...If I were to ever do such a dastardly thing. Which I have not. And which no one could prove."
Lexa rolled her eyes. "Your plant-icidal confessions are safe with me."
Blue eyes sparkled. "You're the best florist ever."
"I'm the only florist you know."
Clarke grinned at her. Lexa refused to feel pleased.
Lexa glanced up from the register, scowl already forming on her lips at the boisterous entrance. The arrival was a young man, relaxed and slouched in an affectedly casual manner. He irked Lexa immediately.
"I was told that this was the place to go if you wanted flowers."
She pursed her lips. The boy (Lexa was well aware the person in front of her was an adult man, but his gentle baby-face and youthful demeanor could only emphasize his "boyishness" to her) grinned guilelessly, hair flopping into his eyes, hands tucked into his pockets. Lexa almost expected an "aw shucks" to slip from his lips. "This is a flower shop."
He chuckled. "Yeah, that's right." He started to wander around the shop, touching and rubbing at petals and leaves and Lexa's skin crawled with irritation. "So my girlfriend loves this place. Can't shut up about it, really." He grinned, light and airy, and irrationally Lexa wished him gone from her shop forever. He continued, blithely unaware of her quiet dislike. "And since our one-month anniversary is coming up…" He paused, tossing her an expectant glance, as if Lexa was supposed to interject with amazed congratulations.
Lexa just stared, silent. The boy squirmed before he continued, now with the slightest hesitation.
"Um, yeah. So I figured she'd really dig a bouquet from her favorite flower shop."
Lexa stared some more.
He coughed awkwardly. "You'd remember her, I think? She's hard to forget. Blond, blue eyes, great smile. A real pin-up bombshell."
It was hard to miss the inflection of pride in his voice. Lexa knew instantly he was talking about Clarke. She schooled her expression into stone, ignoring the tiny pang in the pit of her stomach.
He apparently took her non-reaction as a negative so he continued. "Her name's Clarke? Griffin?"
"I know her." Lexa cut in brusquely.
"Oh." The boy scratched at the back of his neck. "Okay then. So...what do you think she'll like?"
Lexa bit back her immediate reply that he should know, considering he was the boyfriend. "...You don't have any idea or preference?"
He shrugged. "Uh, I think she'd probably like roses. That's a pretty safe bet, right?"
Roses. Of all the generic...Lexa sighed. She was being unduly harsh. Roses were a fine choice. Classic. "Yes. They're very...romantic."
His eyes lit up. "Great! A bouquet of roses for my girl!"
Lexa nodded. His girl. "Do you have a price point?"
He balked a bit. "Oh. Um. No? I mean, it can't get that pricey, can it? They're just flowers." His eyes widened in alarm as soon as the words left his mouth, realizing his faux pas a second too late. "Not that they're not worth it! Flowers take a lot of time and care and effort to grow!" He laughed nervously.
Lexa ignored him, opting instead to start her circuit of the shop. She pulled together a combination of roses, petulantly throwing in some saffron and red primrose.
It was kind of petty and Lexa didn't want to look too closely at why being so was so satisfying. It shouldn't matter if that guy gave off bad vibes, Clarke was just another customer. Her life was her own, and no concern of Lexa's.
By the time she had finished the boy had his wallet in hand, pulling out a few bills to hand over, sheepish grin gracing his face. "I'm really sorry. These are beautiful. I'm sure Clarke will love them."
Lexa managed a stiff nod. "It's fine." She dropped his change on the counter. "Have a good day."
He bobbed his head, swiping up his money and the bouquet. Lexa internally winced at his rough handling, already envisioning the petals bruising. "Right. Thanks. You too."
She glared at the back of his head until he disappeared from sight.
Clarke wandered around the shop, hand trailing softly over green leaves. She had entered ten minutes earlier, throwing a large smile Lexa's way, motioning for her to stay put while she browsed. There was something somber though, masked under Clarke's cheer. It flitted like a shadow beneath her smile, lurked like a ghost behind the glassy brightness in her eyes.
So Lexa stayed by the violets, giving the other woman her space. She had moved on to the tulips when Clarke finally approached.
"I want a bouquet."
Lexa cocked an eyebrow. "Well, you've come to the right place."
Clarke let out a low, humorless chuckle. "Yeah." She rolled her shoulders.
Lexa thought she looked tired, worn. It made her frown.
"It's for my father. For his grave."
Her hands froze around the stems. Her eyes darted up. Clarke stared back, face blank.
It was a studied look. A practised one. An air of stoicism that was constructed and carefully donned. Lexa knew it well. She could see the faint cracks in Clarke's facade. Pick out the strain under the mask.
It was easy for her to recognize. She was better at it.
And she knew, knew all about that slight stubborn jut of the chin, the barely concealed glare of challenge. She knew Clarke harbored a seething coil of anger that had yet to cool, and sometimes condolences - well meaning as they were - were just empty words.
Clarke paused, waiting for something. Lexa cocked her head. "Would you like anything in particular?"
The blonde blinked in muted surprise, but recovered quickly and shook her head. "Doesn't matter. Whatever is...appropriate, I guess." She waved her hand dismissively. "Florist's choice."
Lexa hummed. "Very well." She began to gather up flowers, choosing to start with the basic arrangement. "Tell me something about him."
Blue eyes followed her warily, although Clarke stayed where she was, absently rubbing at a fern. "...Like what?"
"Anything. His favorite color. His favorite food. Did he prefer sunsets or sunrises?" Lexa shrugged.
There was a long stretch of silence as Clarke regarded her. Lexa stared placidly back.
"Or I can just throw in whatever." She held up a large six-petaled flower, vibrant red petals arcing upwards in ribboned elegance. "Gloriosa Superba. Twelve dollars per flower. I have an even dozen here."
Clarke rolled her eyes. "...He loved bad puns. He was a joker. He would have found it hilarious that you're blackmailing information out of me via ridiculous flower prices."
Lexa smirked lightly at her, beelining towards a specific flower to add to the bouquet. "Sounds like a fun guy." She returned to the counter, gently laying her load down. Under Clarke's watchful gaze she carefully wreathed together a riot of gladiolus and carnations, interspersed with long, elegant sweet peas, a small cluster of harlequin flowers tucked in the middle. When she finished she wrapped the bouquet in tissue and twine, nodding Clarke over to the register.
Clarke handed over her credit card without even waiting for the price. "Are you gonna tell me what this bunch means?"
Lexa pursed her lips. "Would you care?"
A bark of laughter cracked out, sharp and cutting. "Yeah. You're right, I don't really." She took her card back, hefting the flowers into the crook of her elbow. She waited a beat, staring at Lexa with a bit of expectation, the same kind when she revealed who the flowers were for. Lexa stared back wordlessly. A few long seconds passed before Clarke found whatever she was searching for, eyes softening into something resembling gratitude. "Thanks. See you around."
The next time Clarke walked into her shop she was in much higher spirits, a bit of swagger back in her gait. Lexa merely nodded a hello, occupied with another customer.
By the time she had finished Clarke was waiting for her by the forget-me-nots, brushing her fingers lightly over their petals. She looked up as Lexa approached. "Hey, I actually know these!"
"Myosotis. This particular species is Myosotis Scorpioides, or Scorpion Grass."
A blond eyebrow ticked upwards. "Well, that's considerably less charming."
Lexa chuckled. "The name only pertains to patterns."
"Sure, whatever. They're not venomous little stingers in disguise."
Green eyes rolled. "What can I do for you today, Clarke?"
Clarke grinned. "Well would you believe it, I need some flowers."
Lexa pursed her lips to prevent another smile from breaking free. "Mockery is not the product of a strong mind, Clarke."
"You started it."
Lexa shook her head, smile playing across her mouth. "So what kind of flowers are you looking for, Clarke?"
"A birthday bouquet."
"Birthday." Lexa echoed.
Regrettably, her first thought drifted to that floppy-haired boy, who had waltzed into her shop oozing a flirtatious charm that raised her hackles and set her teeth on edge. Was it for him?
Clarke flicked a finger at a nearby leaf. "My friend Wells is finally joining me at the quarter century mark. We're well into being adults now. No turning back."
A bit of tenseness leached from Lexa's shoulders. "Is he one of those friends who insisted you buy a plant?"
"Actually he was the one dissenter. He's on the same page I am - he knows I'm gonna kill whatever I'd bring home."
Lexa smiled lightly. "And how is your cactus?"
Clarke hummed playfully. "Stubby? Sadly, still hanging in there."
That threw Lexa for bit. "...You named the cactus 'Stubby?'"
"Courtesy of one of my other friends. Apparently bringing home a tiny, squat cactus was quite the disappointment. I think she was really hoping I'd spring for a puppy for her to play with."
"Has she no concern for the well-being of other living creatures?"
Clarke smirked. "Oh, is that sarcasm I hear in your voice? Are you acknowledging my utter failure at caring for other living things? Have you ceded the bet?"
"I wasn't aware we had an actual bet."
"Like you're not rejoicing every day that damn cactus is still alive on my windowsill."
Lexa tilted her head, smile tugging up the corner of her lips. "Well if it's still alive, why would I cede the bet?"
"Not 'it,' Stubby. She has a name."
Lexa swallowed down her laughter. "Oh, it's a 'she' as well?"
Clarke grinned slyly. "Only a woman would stick around so stubbornly just to prove me wrong." She winked. "Speaking from experience, of course."
Lexa's heart-rate tripled in the span of a second, heat rising fast and hot to the tips of ears. Was she implying…? She coughed, ducking her head. No way. "Well I am glad to hear Stubby is surviving."
Blue eyes rolled. "Trust me, she's doing much more than surviving." Hands dug into her purse, pulling out a sleek phone. A few taps and swipes and Clarke was holding it out. Lexa peered at the screen. She smiled.
Stubby was flowering. It was a little one, barely a bud. Still, she was proud of the delicate bloom. She gave an approving nod. "Ah. Looks good."
"Yeah, yeah. It's just precious."
Lexa straightened. "So. Flowers for your friend's birthday."
Clarke nodded, stowing her phone back in her bag. "Yep. You gonna ask me to tell you something about him?"
"Depends. What do you want say to him?"
Clarke thumbed thoughtfully at her chin. Lexa definitely did not think about the cute little dimple there.
"Well...I kinda want to tell him he's a nerd."
Lexa arched an eyebrow. "So this is going to be quite the light-hearted birthday affair, then?"
Clarke chuckled. "His father has the whole 'serious turning point in one's life' schtick covered."
"Hm." Lexa meandered to the other side of the shop, inordinately pleased when Clarke followed with no prompting. When she came to a stop Clarke snorted in amusement.
Lexa hummed. "Sometimes the literal is the most effective."
Clarke eyed the flowers in front of them. "...They do look like brains."
"Celosia Cristata. Commonly known as cockscomb. They're also edible."
"How practical," Clarke's dry, raspy voice countered. "Okay then. Brains it is."
"Zombified cerebral matter."
Lexa rolled her eyes, picking some stems and heading for the counter. "I hope you don't talk to Stubby like that."
"...Wait, am I supposed to talk to her? That wasn't in your instructions!" Clarke called at her back.
The chime from the door drew Lexa from the back room where she was greeted with the now common sight of Clarke meandering around her shop.
Clarke gave her a little wave. "Hey Lexa."
"Looking to purchase some company for Stubby? All alone on your windowsill? Blooming, alive and well?"
That earned her a withering look. "Would've never pegged you as a gloater."
Lexa shrugged. "If you consider celebrating the continued life of another living organism gloating, sure."
"Well, gloat away," Clarke sighed. "Stubby has fully bloomed in flowery magnificence, making the rest of my sad apartment pale in comparison."
"Good news indeed."
Clarke hummed, leaning against the counter. She ran a finger over one of the many scratches accidentally etched into the glass. Lexa narrowed her eyes, scrutinizing the other woman.
"...Is something the matter, Clarke?"
She jerked her head up. "What? Oh, sorry. I'm just...I've got a bit on my mind." She cleared her throat. "Anyways. I'm meeting my mother for dinner tonight. Thought I might bring some flowers along. Gesture of goodwill."
Which implied there was a reason it was needed to begin with. Not to mention this was the first time Clarke had ever mentioned her mother, despite Mother's Day already having come and gone since she had first stepped foot in the store.
Still, Lexa didn't ask. She wouldn't pry further unless Clarke volunteered more information herself. "Do you know what flowers she likes?" She offered tentatively.
That earned her another sigh, eyes lowered. "She used to like dahlias. I think." She shrugged lightly. "I really don't know. There weren't a lot of flowers in the house, growing up."
Her eyes flit up to meet Lexa's before straying aside, staring at a vague point in the distance. "This will be the first time we're talking face to face in...a while." Clarke chewed absently at her lip, gaze still unfocused. "We were...estranged, I guess you could say. After my father died."
Ah. The aftermath of grief could be messy and lingering. Lexa nodded. "And you are trying to reconnect."
Clarke snorted. "'Trying' would be the key word." She shrugged. "Figured flowers might help...lubricate the process."
Lexa quirked her eyebrow. "Couldn't hurt. Unless your mother is allergic." She pulled out a stalk of purple hyacinths, shaking it lightly at Clarke. "If this is some nefarious plot against your mother I'm afraid I'm going to have to decline fulfilling your order."
Blue eyes rolled hard. "Yes, you've uncovered my dastardly plot to make her sneeze herself into a coma. I guess I'll have to find my weapon of choice elsewhere."
"Hm." Lexa wandered towards the back, to the outdoor section, Clarke trailing behind her.
"It feels like you're not taking my threat to take my business elsewhere seriously." The blonde protested, playfully batting at the hanging ties of her apron. Lexa tossed a wry look over her shoulder. Clarke stopped swatting at her, blinking innocently.
That was not cute, damn it. She thrust the hyacinths into Clarke's hands. "Hold these," she muttered.
Clarke buried her nose in the flowers, breathing deep. "Hm...smells nice."
Lexa swallowed hard, jerking bodily around and fumbling in her pockets. "Yes, well, that's one of the main reasons people like flowers so much."
Amused blue eyes peered over the flowers. Lexa absolutely did not compare them to the velvet hue of the petals. "...You're a marvelous florist. A true credit to your trade."
"I try." She rejoined dryly.
They walked around the store, Clarke apparently accustomed to Lexa's methods. Lexa found she really didn't mind, even with the other woman's constant questions.
"So what are those?"
"...That's another major reason people like flowers so much."
Clarke huffed. "Oh shut up."
Lexa chuckled and led them back to the counter and began to piece the bouquet together. Clarke hummed absently as she worked, and Lexa found herself nodding along to the aimless tune. Sadly she finished rather quickly, Clarke's voice dying down and generally bubbly countenance giving way to a quiet apprehension as Lexa shifted to the register.
Fingers tapped nervously at the scratched glass counter. Lexa graciously ignored it as she rung the bouquet up.
She punched in a few numbers.
She entered a few more.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
"Please stop before you somehow manage to break through the glass."
Clarke froze, finger hovering a centimeter above the counter. Her hand curled into a fist. "Sorry." She ducked her head, tucking a golden curl behind her ear. It fell loose again immediately and before she even realized she had moved Lexa had reached out herself, brushing that errant tress back.
Wide eyes stared at her and Lexa snatched her hand back, cheeks burning in mortification. "Sorry."
"Um...n-no. No, it's alright," Clarke stammered, the barest blush dusting her cheeks. Lexa quickly busied her hands over the bouquet, resisting the returning urge to caress the other woman's face.
Damn it, get it together you big gaymo, she silently chastised herself. Thank god Anya wasn't here. She'd never hear the end of it.
A credit card was thrust under her nose. Lexa blinked out of her momentary stupor. "Oh. Right." She plucked it from Clarke's hand, careful not to brush their fingers. She inserted it into the reader hastily, thankfully handing it and the bouquet over without further embarrassment.
Clarke gave her a timid smile. "Thanks."
Lexa nodded stiffly. "Have a good day."
Something flashed through Clarke's eyes, face falling just slightly. "You too." And with that she was leaving.
A pang of disappointment echoed hard in Lexa's chest. "I hope things go well with your mother." She called out softly.
Clarke paused, turning, and Lexa felt her entire chest lift at the sunnier grin that now graced her face. "They're flowers, not miracles." She hefted the bouquet slightly. "But at least they're pretty and smell good."
Lexa chuckled as Clarke sailed out the doors.
Lexa looked up from her book at the rather violent jingle of the shop's hanging door chime, slightly alarmed at the sight of Clarke storming towards her, face dark with wrathful thunder. Clarke stomped right up to the counter, slamming a twenty down. Lexa winced.
"How do I passive-aggressively say 'Fuck You' in flower?"
Lexa blinked. "...Your boss again?"
Clarke scowled so fiercely Lexa quailed just a bit before self-consciously catching herself.
"My boss is a fucking saint in comparison. The flowers are for my fucking EX-boyfriend."
Lexa knew that pudgy sharp-nosed bastard was bad news. "I'm...sorry?"
Clarke actually growled. "There is nothing to be sorry about. No, all there is, is rage."
"...You're kind of terrifying."
Blue eyes narrowed. "Good." Clarke hissed, and the sibilant rasp seemed to snake through the air to shiver down her back, and Lexa nearly kicked herself at the wildly inappropriate reaction she seemed to be having to Clarke's ire. She cleared her throat, forcibly putting aside how unreasonably hot she found this rather...aggressive side of Clarke.
"I'm not really sure buying him flowers, no matter how passive-aggressive the meaning, is really the right course of action here." Lexa slid the twenty back towards Clarke. "No need to waste this on him."
"...It's his money."
Lexa paused. Dragged the bill back. Cleared her throat. "Well. Okay. You'd need geraniums, foxglove, meadowsweet, yellow carnations, and some orange lilies."
Clarke hummed. "That sounds like a lot." She leaned forward, eager. "What do they mean?"
Lexa led Clarke around the shop, first picking up some carnations. She held them up. "Carnations. In yellow they mean 'you have disappointed me.'" Next she gathered some geraniums. "Stupidity."
Clarke chortled, and Lexa nodded. "Figured you'd like that."
A bundle of small white flowers was next. "Meadowsweet, for uselessness. And orange lilies for hatred."
"Sounds terrible. And by that I mean terrific. Is that everything?"
"Just some foxglove to round it out." She plucked a few out.
Lexa added them to the pile. "Insincerity."
Clarke eyed the completed bouquet. "...It's actually a very striking bunch," she groused. Lexa huffed.
"They're flowers, not a flaming bag of poo."
Laughter rang out. Lexa drank in the sight of Clarke tossing her head back, pleased to have drawn the other woman out of her angry funk.
Clarke wiped at her eyes when her laughter died down. "That was Plan B."
"Well considering I know you don't have a pet, I have to say I'm quite relieved to be able to help carry out 'Plan A.'"
Clarke laughed again and Lexa warmed from the inside out.
"So are you just going to walk right up to him and give him these?"
Clarke frowned. "I hadn't even thought of that." She fiddled her fingers. "I don't really want to see him again," she confessed. "This was sorta spur-of-the-moment."
Lexa shouldn't. Really. She was already way more invested than she had every right to be. Yet it slipped out, traitorously, from her mouth. "I can deliver them."
Blue eyes searched hers. "You would?" Clarke asked softly.
In for a penny...Lexa sighed. "Sure. Just give me an address." She pulled out a pad and pen, poised and ready. Clarke studied her for a few long seconds before rattling off her exes address. Lexa noted it dutifully. "Got it. Now…" she looked up. "You want to add a card?"
A devious smirk spread across pink lips. "Oh, hell yes."
Lexa was beginning to feel a tad sorry for this ex. Sort of. "I'm afraid I don't have any passive-aggressive cards."
Clarke chuckled darkly. "Oh, I got that covered." Lexa handed her a pen and the card she pointed to and Clarke bent over the counter, scribbling furiously.
While she did that Lexa put the finishing touches on the bouquet, glancing over to watch Clarke's progress. The tip of her tongue peeked out as she wrote, brow furrowed, and Lexa's heart skipped just a bit at how endearing she was. Clarke was just signing her name with a flourish (Lexa thought she spied a rather...unfavorable doodle off in the margins) when Lexa settled the completed bouquet down. Clarke tucked the card next to the foxglove, satisfied grin lending the woman a rather sinister air.
"There." She peeked up from under fluttering lashes. "When will you deliver them?"
Lexa moved the flowers gently to the side, careful not to dislodge the card. "I have a couple deliveries slated to go in a few hours."
Clarke hummed, rocking slightly on her feet. "Good. He should be home then." Her smile turned somewhat rueful. "...Is it bad I'm getting so much satisfaction out of this?"
"As far as petty revenge goes, flowers don't rank as very diabolical. I think you can consider your soul clean," Lexa responded wryly.
"Unless the recipient were allergic."
An amused huff escaped. "Unlike your mother, I know your ex is not allergic. He did come by for a bouquet before."
"Ah. That's right." Clarke rolled her eyes. "He gave me flowers a couple months ago." She eyed Lexa thoughtfully. "I knew he got them here. But...well…" she hesitated.
"...You don't like roses?" Lexa ventured a guess.
Clarke shook her head. "No, no. Roses are fine. They-yours are beautiful, especially. They're just…" she glanced shyly at Lexa. "When he told me he got them from here I was expecting something, well…"
Ah. "Less pedestrian?"
The other woman flushed. "I guess. You always give me such interesting flowers; the roses were just a bit...unimaginative."
Lexa could practically feel her ego expanding in her chest. "I didn't choose them. I asked him what he thought you might like. He came up with roses."
Okay, so Lexa didn't exactly do her utmost to steer him in a better direction. It wasn't like he tried very hard himself. He had barely given the other flowers in the shop a second glance, letting his gaze skip uncomprehendingly over the leaves and blooms. Careless, Lexa decided that boy was. Spontaneous, perhaps, but careless. Which was a combination that only resulted in messes.
Clarke's grunt pulled Lexa from her unflattering assessment of Clarke's ex. She was scowling again and Lexa felt her lips pull down in sympathy. Lexa reached off to the side, nabbing a small pot and thrusting into Clarke's hands. Clarke fumbled a bit at the unexpected action before settling it firmly between her cupped palms. She blinked, perplexed.
"Thyme. For you. On the house."
"Um. Thanks?" Clarke brought the herbs to her nose, taking a little sniff. A smile creased her face. "Mm." She arched an eyebrow. "I know Stubby is doing well, but I don't think I'm ready to take on more responsibility."
Lexa just barely managed to keep from shuffling her feet, embarrassment rising up her neck. She hadn't really meant to shove herbs at Clarke, but she hated the sad frown on her face and simply wanted to draw her mind from dark thoughts.
"Thyme is pretty easy. Only needs about six hours of sun a day. Water thoroughly and wait until the first inch of soil dries to water again." She gestured to the clay pot. "But really, you'll most likely use it up - that's just to keep it alive long enough to use all of it."
Clarke eyed the herbs skeptically before leveling the exact same look at Lexa. "Yeah. That's assuming I cook." She waggled her eyebrows. "I've already admitted to lacking a green thumb, what makes you think I'm any good in a kitchen?"
Lexa balked. "...Doesn't everyone cook a little? Like...eggs for breakfast at least? Or even bake? You can use herbs in cookies too. A little savory, a little sweet…" She trailed off at Clarke's blank stare.
"That sounds like a lot of trouble."
Lexa rolled her eyes. Held out her hand. "Fine. Give it back."
Clarke immediately pulled the plant to her chest, shoulders hunched protectively. "Nope. You gave it to me. It's mine."
Lexa retracted her arm. "I'm sure you'll do fine." She cocked her head. "Gonna name this one?"
That earned her an appalled look. "I'm gonna eat it, Lexa. I'm not gonna give it a name."
"...Weren't you so sure you were going to kill Stubby?"
Lexa raised a skeptical eyebrow. Clarke flustered.
"Oh shut up!"
Clarke whirled around from where she was poking curiously at a large clump of plush moss. "Lexa! Hey there!" She wiped her finger surreptitiously on her thigh. Lexa shook her head at her to show she wasn't fooling anyone.
"If you are done violating the Leucobryum Glaucum?"
Clarke stared. "Just say moss."
Lexa stared back evenly. "No."
Clarke laughed. "Yeah, figured that wouldn't work. Anyways...I was wondering how the delivery went."
Lexa remembered very clearly how the delivery went.
Lexa hefted the bouquet in the crook of her elbow, knocking hard on the door. She only had to wait a few seconds before it opened, Clarke's ex (a Mr. Collins, Lexa had since learned) appearing in the doorway.
"Yes?" His bewildered stare shifted between Lexa and the flowers. "...Hey, you're from that flower shop!"
"Yes." She thrust the flowers forward, not really caring that Collins had to rear back slightly to avoid a face full of petals. "Delivery for you."
If possible, his face twisted into further confusion. "Uh, what?" He gripped the bouquet, rotating it warily. "From who?"
Lexa jerked her chin. "There is a card." She managed to grit out, somewhat civilly.
He frowned, tentatively picking it out and flipping it open. Lexa blinked. Was he actually going to read it in front of her?
Collins paled as his dark eyes skimmed the card. Lexa felt a surge of spiteful pleasure. He gulped, eyes darting up to meet Lexa's. She glared stoically back. He winced, turning even more ashen when he correctly surmised she had at least the basic knowledge of what was written on the note.
"Uh…" He stammered weakly. "Uh, thanks." He lifted the bouquet half-heartedly, entire demeanor wilting. "I guess…"
She held out a clipboard. "Sign here, please."
He hurriedly scrawled out his name, and Lexa basked in the satisfaction of his obvious discomfort.
"Here." He handing back the clipboard. "Thanks again."
"You're welcome. Have a good day." She returned tonelessly.
He flinched. "...Right. Bye." He slunk back into his apartment, door whispering shut in defeat.
Lexa held in her smile until she was safely back in her truck.
"He seemed very...unenthused."
Clarke laughed. "Well, he got the message." She tapped the side of her nose, eyes crinkling around the edges. "After one last text he's finally stopped trying to apologize and get back together."
Lexa almost growled at the thought of Collins groveling his way back into Clarke's good graces. Clarke seemed to sense her discontent, because she smiled reassuringly at her. "Yeah, not gonna happen." Her smile turned just a little melancholy. "Maybe one day we can be friends again." She sighed ruefully. "He was a better friend than a boyfriend. Time will tell if we can salvage that, at least."
"That's very big of you." Lexa murmured softly.
Clarke gazed at her, blue eyes tender. "Well, we all gotta learn to forgive and move on, right? Reconciling with my mom really puts everything in perspective." She smiled shyly. "Thanks for that, by the way."
Lexa brushed off the compliment. "For what? I literally did nothing."
"You were supportive. And not judge-y." Clarke shrugged. "It's surprising what a difference just that could make."
Lexa inwardly frowned at the thought that so small a measure of support would make so noticeable a difference to Clarke. "I'm glad you and your mother have reconnected."
"Still a work in progress." Clarke waved a cheerful hand. "Anyways. I wanted to thank you, for everything. Except the thyme."
Lexa arched an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"I'll have you know I almost set off the fire alarm in an attempt to utilize this wildly versatile herb of yours."
Clarke scowled, nudging her shoulder playfully. "Don't smile. Stubby could have been in mortal peril."
A little curl of warmth blossomed from her arm at the touch. Lexa allowed a little chuckle to slip past her lips. "Perhaps put Stubby outside for your next try," Lexa suggested, with a wry smile.
"Well, there's still plenty of thyme left, so I'll give it another go, somehow." Clarke cleared her throat. "Though…" She shuffled her feet, eyes darting nervously.
"...Maybe I could benefit from some supervision. You know, from someone with experience. With this sort of thing."
Lexa blinked some more. "Oh."
Clarke stared at her. Hard.
Oh? Lexa bit her lip. Was that…? Clarke was still gazing at her expectantly. Hopefully. Lexa took the plunge. "I can give you a few tips…?"
Relief broke out over the other woman's face. She let loose a sunny smile. "That would be great!"
Lexa smiled back tentatively, stomach flipping pleasantly. Clarke pointed to the pad in Lexa's apron then wiggled her fingers. Lexa obediently handed it over, and Clarke jotted down her number and address.
Clarke winked. "Text me, and I'll tell you when and where I'll make my next attempt."
Lexa grinned, shy. "Looking forward to it."
Lexa anxiously wiped the palm of her hand on her thighs, staring at the gleaming numbers on the door. Clarke was behind that door. She swallowed hard. Okay, no problem. Just an afternoon cooking with a new friend. She took a deep breath.
The ensuing thirty seconds felt like minutes. Then, faintly, the tromping of feet and the muffled sounds of cursing. One more reverberating thud and swear and the door flew open. Clarke appeared, flushed and tousled, and Lexa almost dropped the plant she was holding at the sight.
"Lexa! Sorry, sorry, I was just...prepping?"
Lexa eyebrow ticked up, all nerves forgotten. "Are you telling me or asking me?"
"...Telling?" Clarke rolled her eyes at Lexa's smirk. "All right. Just get in here." She stepped to the side, waving Lexa in. "Sorry about the mess."
Lexa inclined her head in thanks, stepping in. She waited until Clarke closed the door before holding out her offering. "I figured - thyme debacle aside - it was time to graduate you to another plant."
Clarke eyed the fern skeptically. "...And what is this guy's overly complicated Latin name?"
"Nephrolepis. A lemon button fern."
"...Gully it is."
Huh? Lexa's confusion must have shown on her face, because Clarke released an amused huff. "As in 'Ferngully?' The animated film? C'mon, you're a florist, movies about forests should be right up your alley."
At Lexa's dry expression Clarke threw up her hands. "Unbelievable. Well, let me give you a tour, and you can put Gully wherever's best."
Lexa followed Clarke around the apartment - pausing to drop Gully off on a low table in the living room - internally amused at the switch in roles. When Clarke stopped proudly in front of Stubby Lexa nodded approvingly, leaning forward to inspect the fully bloomed flower. "Looks good." She tilted her head towards Clarke. "And have you been talking to her?" She teased.
Clarke smirked. "You jest, but joke's on you. Stubby is an excellent listener." She jerked her head. "Now come on, you promised me cookies."
Much to Clarke's surprise, the cookies turned out great. Lexa had smiled smugly as Clarke downed two in quick succession, which prompted Clarke to toss a pinch of flour at her with a grumbled "Don't judge me. Everyone likes cookies." Lexa graciously ignored her and instead carefully wrote the recipe down in clean, neat letters, making sure to keep the instructions as simple and easy to follow as possible.
"So where did you learn to cook?"
Lexa glanced up at Clarke, who leaned towards her across the table, munching contentedly on another cookie. "I sort of fell into it, I guess." She gave a one-shouldered shrug. "My older sister pretty much raised me, she was busy working to support us, so the least I could do was take care of the meals."
Clarke hummed, brushing crumbs from her lips. "That was pretty mature of you."
Lexa ducked her head, pretending to concentrate on finishing the recipe to hide the light blush on her cheeks. "It's not that big a deal."
The smell of citrus and thyme and butter wafted through the air as Clarke waved a cookie under her nose.
"Cookies are always a big deal."
Lexa smiled, waiting until Clarke started to pull back before darting forward, cleanly snagging the cookie from Clarke's fingers with a quick snap of her teeth. Clarke let out a surprised yelp as she instinctively rocked backwards, arms windmilling as she teetered on her chair. Lexa chuckled, chewing victoriously on her stolen treat. Clarke glared as she settled her chair legs firmly on the floor. Lexa stared benignly. "You shouldn't start wars you're not prepared to finish, Clarke."
Blue eyes narrowed. She was opening her mouth to retort when the front door clicked and a second later flew open, banging against the wall.
"Honey, I'm home!" A young woman waltzed in, slim and dark with an exuberant, boisterous energy that immediately filled the room.
Lexa immediately straightened, playful demeanor falling away. Clarke startled in her seat.
"Raven!" She flustered.
The woman - Raven, clearly, Lexa assumed - grinned, planted firmly in the doorway, arms akimbo, dark eyes raking up Lexa's figure with something like predatory amusement. It sent a few ominous shivers down her spine - the expression was perilously close to the devilish look Anya sometimes sported right before a particularly rigorous bout of teasing.
"Well hello, who is this?" Dark eyebrows waggled. "Clarke, did you know there's a stunning brunette in your apartment? Who's not me?"
Clarke groaned, covering her eyes with her palm. "I'm so sorry, Lexa." She wearily dropped her hand, gesturing weakly at the smug woman still standing in the doorway. "This is my friend, Raven," she glared at the unrepentant woman, "who has the nasty habit of picking my lock and breaking into my apartment."
Raven took that as her cue to saunter in, leg kicking back to knock the door shut. "Hey, I knocked. When you didn't respond, I was overcome with worry, I had to let myself in to check up on you."
"You didn't knock."
Raven tilted her head inquisitively. "...Are you sure I didn't? Maybe you just didn't hear me because you were so busy canoodling with little miss hottie over there."
Lexa flushed, eyes darting between Clarke and Raven.
Clarke just groaned again. "Raven, what do you want?" She hissed, shooting another apologetic glance at Lexa.
Raven ignored her, instead plopping into the seat next to Lexa, thrusting out her hand. "Clarke's terrible with introductions. I'm her best friend andcertifiable genius, Raven Reyes."
Lexa grasped her hand. "Lexa Woods."
Raven paused mid-shake. "...Woods? For a florist? How apropos."
Lexa blinked. Clarke reddened.
"How did you know I was a florist?"
Raven winced. "Whoops. Caught. Okay, I'll give it up, you're clearly too slick to pull one over on. The truth is Clarke here-oh! Hey, are those cookies?" Lightning quick she snaked out a hand, snatching a cookie up and cramming it whole in her mouth. "Mmmf dees r'gud."
Lexa gaped. Clarke sighed. She stood and jerked her head, silently motioning for Lexa to follow her. They left the apartment, stopping just outside the doorway.
"Listen, I'm really sorry to cut your visit short, but Raven actually doesn't barge in for no reason."
Lexa shook her head. "I understand, Clarke. Thank you for having me over."
Clarke stepped forward, one hand reaching out to brush a speck of flour from Lexa's shoulder. "I had a lot of fun. This was a very informative session. And delicious."
"And all with zero fire hazards."
"Okay, wise ass." She tilted her head thoughtfully. "Although now that Raven's here, the chances of that is going back up."
Lexa arched an eyebrow. "...Should I be alarmed?"
"Oh, no worries. Most of Raven's explosions are pretty self-contained."
Lexa wasn't so sure Clarke was kidding anymore. "...Okay? I'll leave you two it, then. Goodbye, Clarke."
Clarke smiled. "Bye, Lexa."
They shared one last lingering glance as the door closed between them softly. Lexa stared a beat before making her way out of the building. And if she skipped a couple steps, who could say?
She was just walking across the parking lot when her phone chimed. Lexa glanced down, smile breaking across her face at the text.
[Okay fine, the cookies were a success. But what about a real meal? I can't survive on just cookies. Though Raven seems to be trying. She's given them the official Reyes seal of approval btw.]
Lexa quickly fired off a response, already giddy at the prospect of seeing Clarke again.
[Very well. How does chicken sound? I'm free friday.]
[Who would say no to that? It's a date!]
Date? Lexa almost walked into her car.
Lexa held out a single blossom. Clarke's eyes lit up, tracing across the pale blue-white petals. She raised her hand, gently tracing along one of the spindly leaves.
"Nigella damascena. An annual bloom." Lexa stepped closer, waiting a beat for Clarke's soft nod of permission before tucking it gently behind her ear, curling silken blond hair securely over the stem. She stepped back. "It suits you," she whispered.
A full blush bloomed, and Clarke tipped her head. "Charmer." She muttered, though she made no attempt to mask the pleased lilt in her voice, or the shy smile she wore.
Lexa congratulated herself on starting their date off right. And not, as Anya predicted, immediately bungling things up because she was a deadly combination of "out of practice" and "almost too gay to function." She held up a grocery bag. "Ingredients for dinner."
"Well, c'mon in, chef."
Clarke was perhaps the worst kitchen helper ever.
"...You're gonna have to leave some of those tomatoes for the salad."
Clarke popped another cherry tomato into her mouth. "Last one, promise."
"Sorry! Wasn't expecting that to...flame...like that."
"Isn't there something called flambe?"
"Yes, but we're not doing that. Also that tends to be done on purpose."
"I was actually going to use that wine for cooking."
Clarke swirled the wine in her glass before taking another sip. "It's good for drinking too."
At Lexa's flat stare Clarke winked. "Don't worry, this will be my only glass. While we're cooking."
"I chopped stuff."
Lexa chuckled. "I stand corrected."
"Okay, that's totally my bad."
"Leave the chicken alone."
Clarke froze from where she had been sidling towards the chicken, staring wide-eyed at Lexa's back. "But it smells so good!"
Lexa turned to glare at Clarke. "It needs to rest." She sighed at Clarke's piteous look. "It's only another five minutes."
When Clarke just stared longingly at the chicken Lexa rolled her eyes, taking her firmly by the shoulders and sitting her at the counter. She slid a plate in front of her. "Salad. Eat."
Blue eyes flicked to her. "But what about you?"
Lexa plucked up the fork, spearing a bite. She chewed demonstrably, then scooped up another forkful and held it up to Clarke's lips. "Say 'ah.'"
Clarke narrowed her eyes but took the bite anyways. "Don't make me punch you."
Lexa grinned, handing over the fork and turning back to the stove. "Wait 'til you try the chicken. You'll change your tune."
There was a definite pout in Clarke's voice. "I tried to taste it, but you shooed me away."
Lexa hummed, moving about the kitchen. "A little patience can have a large payout." She deftly sliced the chicken, transferring it to a plate. Hefting a large dish of roasted potatoes in her other hand she carried everything back to counter, placing them down with a flourish under Clarke's impatient gaze.
"Pan-roasted lemon-thyme chicken with garlic-thyme roasted potatoes."
Clarke spooned some steaming potatoes on the empty plates, quickly following with a few slices of chicken each. Lexa shook her head and smiled at her eagerness.
"C'mon, you're done chefing, so sit, sit!" Clarke patted the stool next to her. Lexa rounded the counter and slid into the seat, lightly bumping Clarke's shoulders.
Lexa watched as Clarke cut a piece of chicken and brought it to her mouth, rapt at the sight of pink lips closing around the fork. She coughed, taking a long sip of wine to mask her staring, heart thudding in her chest as she waited for Clarke's verdict.
A downright filthy moan made her flush to the roots of her hair. Oh god, did she have to sound so...orgasmic? Lexa wasn't sure if she was more flattered or aroused.
"This is so. Fucking. Good." Clarke husked out, eyes closed in apparent bliss.
Lexa squirmed in her seat, took another healthy gulp of wine. "I'm glad you approve." She managed to choke out, ears still burning.
Clarke's eyes slid open, something slow and indolent and borderline sinful in her gaze that made Lexa shiver inside. "Lexa, you're a gift. This is amazing!" Another bite. "This is totally restaurant quality." She stabbed another piece, excitedly holding it to Lexa's mouth. "Try it!"
Lexa obediently bit. "Mm." She cocked her head, smile teasing the corners of her lips. "Y'know, I have cooked this before. I know it's good."
Clarke's plate was already half empty. She brandished her fork at Lexa. "Good doesn't begin to describe. I think you've just grown inured to your own cooking. We're definitely doing this again."
Lexa chuckled, heart skipping. "Ah. I see how it is. That's why I'm here."
Twinkling blue eyes swept up and down her form. "Oh, that's not the only reason. But it sure doesn't hurt."
A hot blush gathered at Lexa's ears. She picked up a fork to fiddle with. "Well, it's good I won't be running out of recipes any time soon."
Clarke grinned, prodding at Lexa until she started to eat. "I'll definitely take you up on that challenge."
Neither could quite keep the smiles off their faces as they ate.
Lexa looked up from where she was clearing the table. "Yes?"
Clarke smiled at her from the sink, where she had just deposited a load of dishes. "Really, thanks for dinner."
Lexa shook her head, pleasantly warm when blue eyes tracked her as she approached. She smiled teasingly. "I'm sure your kitchen appreciates being smoke free for the evening."
Clarke took the plates from her hands, swiftly putting them aside only to reach back out and catch Lexa's elbow, tugging her to a stop in front of her. "Hey, I'm serious." Teeth caught nervously over her bottom lip. "You've been really kind. And generous."
The warmth in her chest expanded to press against her ribs. "It was my pleasure, Clarke."
The dopey grin Clarke flashed in response was perhaps one of the cutest things she had ever seen. Clarke tucked a blond curl behind her ear.
"So...dare I ask? Dessert?"
A dark eyebrow arched. "Run out of cookies already?"
Clarke leveled a serious look her way. "Lexa, those things didn't last a full twenty-four hours. I was lucky Raven didn't abscond with all of them."
"There were two dozen."
Lexa held up her hands placatingly. "No judging. Just...next time I'll make three dozen."
"Oh, what other delicious herby cookies can you whip up?"
The way Clarke's eyes brightened made an answering curl of warmth bloom in her stomach. Lexa wondered if this was what her flowers felt, when the sun rose and bathed them in morning light.
A blond eyebrow rose. "Hm. Just 'rosemary?' No overly formal, fussy Latin name?"
Clarke groaned. "God, that one's so much more pretentious than I could have ever imagined."
Lexa laughed. "Makes good savory shortbread cookies though. Perfect with tea…" She trailed off at Clarke's peculiar expression. "...Clarke?"
The other woman started a bit. "Sorry. I just...that's the first time I've seen you laugh. Like, a proper loud, gut shaking laugh."
Lexa blushed. Clarke stepped in close. Their noses brushed. "I like it. Your laugh. I like your smile, too. And the way you insist on enunciating all the prissy Latin syllables."
"Not prissy, proper." Lexa murmured. She tilted her head, and then they were kissing, lips sliding softly together.
Clarke tasted like herbs and citrus and wine, and something sweet and fresh under it all.
It was something Lexa could easily get addicted to. Apparently Clarke agreed, because she surged forward with a low groan that sent shivers down Lexa's spine. Her back hit the counter and a soft, breathy moan tripped from her lips. Clarke chuckled into her mouth, nipping playfully at her lower lip before withdrawing.
Lexa slowly opened her eyes, taking in the rosy flush on Clarke's cheeks, the shine on kiss-swollen lips, the hazy glaze over dilated blue eyes. And by the way those eyes tracked over her own face Lexa knew she was no better off. She cleared her throat. "That...that was...um, nice."
Clarke's eyebrow twitched up. "Nice?"
"Better. But don't think you're completely off the hook. 'Nice.'" She scoffed.
Lexa fisted a hand in Clarke's shirt, yanking her into another kiss. When they parted breathlessly Lexa hummed throatily. "There will be more cookies in your future," she promised.
Clarke pulled back. "Wait, so did you bring dessert or not?"
Lexa blinked at the sudden retreat. "Oh. Um. No, sorry. I can...maybe try to whip something up...?"
Clarke shrugged. "Nah. This is much better." With that she tugged Lexa back into a consuming kiss.
There were all kinds of people who wandered into Lexa's flower shop. And every once in a while, one of them was the type that could change your life. Clarke may just be the best thing that ever walked through her doors.