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Caught Between Worlds

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Lexa's eyes shot open as she sat straight up in bed, gasping. That damn dream. Again. She grabbed the hem of her oversized shirt and pulled it up over her stomach. She ran her fingers over her abdomen, noting the smooth, unmarked skin. Lexa let out the breath she was holding and eased the tension in her shoulders. She was okay.

No matter how many times she had that dream, it always ended like this. It only recently began to feel so real.

Lexa collapsed back onto her bed and pulled the warm comforter over her head. Why couldn't she have had one of her other reoccurring dreams last night? There were plenty other good ones. Why did it have to be that one again? Now she was going to go to work, tired and in an all-around horrible mood. And she really didn't need to give Nia one more reason to take advantage of her.

Nia.

Nia had been in that dream too. She smiled to herself remembering how in the dream Nia didn’t control her, how she threw a spear into her chest. Lexa felt a surge of happiness at the image of Nia slumped back in that chair, blood pouring from the wound she herself inflicted. Lexa quickly shook her head, disgusted with herself for taking pleasure in someone's death, even if it was Nia. Her heart began to race. Great, she was worked up again.

Lexa closed her eyes, trying to calm down, to push that dream out of her head. Her attempt at relaxation was rudely interrupted by the bedside alarm ringing loudly. She threw her arm out of the warmth of her cocoon and smashed the clock quiet. Why did she insist on using that damn old school alarm clock? Why couldn't she just be normal and use her phone like everyone else? Oh, right, because Lexa was stubborn and had used an old clock like that her whole life. She was not one to change up tradition.

She rolled out of bed and made her way to the bathroom. She glanced up at herself in the mirror and noticed the dark circles under her eyes. These dreams were getting ridiculous. This particular one was the most common dream. Post-Apocalyptic world, wars, politics, and she was the commander. The leader of everyone. Lexa really wouldn't have minded the dream, if it weren't for the end. She was a goddamn badass in it, fierce warpaint, uniting warring clans, she wielded double swords, for heaven's sake. But it always ended the same. She took a bullet to the gut and died staring into the love of her life's eyes. A fucking stray bullet. Every time. 

Lexa sighed and began to brush her teeth. Her phone vibrated with a new text message.

Anya : Hey, bitch. They rescheduled that game. 8:30, tonight.

Yes! Lexa silently cheered as she typed her response. At least now she had the good fortune to have something to look forward to tonight.

Lexa : Cool, I'll be there. Thanks

Lexa loved playing indoor soccer. The games may be shorter and the field smaller, but it was so much faster, tougher, and arguably more dangerous than outdoor. She’d been playing on the same indoor team since she graduated college, and it had been a saving grace for her. Once a week, she was able to run, hit people (safely, of course) and just be free. Lexa was grateful to have that outlet tonight. Work was going to be hell today.

Lexa parked her car in the same spot she always did and made her way into the office, the dream from the morning nearly forgotten. She flipped on the lights and turned off the alarm. Lexa was no intern; in fact, she was one of the most requested CPAs at The Kalland Group, but that didn't stop Nia from treating her like one. She insisted that Lexa always be the first one here, be the one to open the office, make the coffee, get everything ready for the day. Lexa hated it, but she always kept her mouth shut, her face stoic, her voice emotionless. She couldn't defy Nia. She never would, and Nia knew that.

Lexa made her way to the break room and set about preparing the first pot of coffee. She didn't even drink coffee. She preferred tea. Lexa thought back to her first day at Kalland.

Nia had personally shown her around the office, smiling and generous. Lexa had been on cloud nine. She was fresh off her masters, new certification granted, one of the youngest CPAs in the state and the old family friend had immediately offered her a position with her prestigious firm.

The tour had ended in the break room.

“This is where I leave you. I have a few calls to make,” Nia had said as she turned to leave Lexa. Just as she exited the room, she poked her head back into the doorframe. Lexa had thought she was going to offer congratulations or a nice sentiment about her being happy to be working together. Instead, Nia commanded her in her deceptively kind voice, “Make a fresh pot, that one is empty. Deliver a cup to my office when it's done. I take it black.”

Lexa was disappointed and a little confused. It seemed like a task for someone else, not a CPA. But it was her first day, and she wanted to make a good impression. Lexa swallowed her pride and turned to the coffee pot, studying it. How hard could this be? Idiots can make coffee. She filled the water reservoir, grabbed a filter, scooped a few tablespoons of ground coffee into the machine and flipped the switch. The machine came to life, and soon the break room filled with the smell of coffee.

When the last drop splashed in the pot, Lexa poured a cup. It smelled right. Having never enjoyed coffee, she assumed she had succeeded. Lexa took the hot mug to Nia's office. The woman grabbed it without speaking, without even looking up at her, and took a sip. Nia spat the liquid back into the mug.

“What is this!? Did you make tea!?” Nia jeered.

Fuck.

“Uh, sorry. I can make another pot,” Lexa stuttered. She was mortified. Her first task at Kalland Group and she failed.

“Do that,” Nia demanded.

Lexa hurried back to the break room, dumped the contents of the weak coffee down the drain and tried again. She was sure to triple the amount of coffee grounds this time.

Lexa shook the memory from her thoughts. That was 5 years ago, but not much had changed. Nia still held power over her, still made her feel like a child. Lexa wished her past was different, wished she could rid herself of Nia, but she knew that would never happen. It was all her own fault really.

The day dragged on. Numbers, numbers and more numbers. Lexa was good with numbers, she'd always been. She didn't hate her job, but it wasn't a passion. She did it because it was easy, it paid the bills, and it gave her a distraction during the day.

“Hayes!”

Lexa snapped her head up from the screen at the sound of her name. Titus Sabio, Nia's business partner and co-owner of the firm, stood in the doorframe of her office. While Titus was tough and wise, and he had a soft spot for Lexa. She was grateful for him. It made working for Nia slightly more tolerable.

“Sir?” she replied.

“It's 7:30 on a Friday. Shouldn't you be at home, getting ready for a fabulous date?”

Lexa blushed at the thought.

“No dates for me. I do have a game to get to though. Thanks for the reminder.”

Titus chuckled to himself.

“Okay, get out of here then.”

Lexa saved her document and shut down her computer. She grabbed her messenger bag and coat and walked out of the office with Titus, turning off the lights as she went. They walked together out the front doors into the crisp autumn air. Titus bid her goodnight as he turned towards his car.

“Hayes! Don't forget, early day on Monday. The ad agency is sending over the art director for our new web design,” Titus shouted to her as he unlocked his car.

“I remember. See you Monday.”

As if Lexa could forget. The whole office had been buzzing for the past week. Their website was in dire need of an overhaul, and Titus had finally convinced Nia to hire an agency to design it. Lexa had been impressed with the preliminary designs the art director had sent over. They were elegant, professional, and beautiful. To say Lexa was excited to meet the person responsible was an understatement. She was positively eager.

Lexa pulled into the parking lot of the West Indoor Soccer Center at 8:27. She jumped out of her car and raced into the building, clumsily stuffing her shin guards into the sleeves under her socks in between strides. She saw her team already huddled up about to give their pump up cheer before taking the field. She ran to the door of the field and hopped over.

“Oh, thank fuck. Hayes is here,” Anya drawled. “You ready? I really don't want to put Gus on the field.”

“Hey! I can play her position just fine,” Gustus retorted.

“No one can play my position,” Lexa snapped, a sly smirk creeping across her face. The soccer field was the one place she felt confident. It was where she could let herself lose control, to be free, to be fierce, to be unapologetically herself.

“Good, you're in. Alright, ladies-” Anya started.

“And gentlemen,” Gustus cut in. The Grounders were the only team in the co-ed league to have only one male on the team. And they were usually at the top of the league.

“Right, ladies,” Anya repeated, deliberately not correcting herself. “Let's kick their asses. Hands in! Team on 3. 1, 2, 3!”

“Team!” They all shouted at once.

Lexa jogged on the field to her position. Left back. She felt her adrenaline start to spike. The referee placed the ball on the center circle. The whistle cut through the air, and the clock started its countdown.

Lexa's team had won the coin toss and started with the kickoff. The ball was immediately passed to her, and she controlled it effortlessly, taking a few strides up the field. An attacker from the other team approached her. In a quick move, she feigned right and sent the ball flying into the wall to her left, bouncing a pass directly to Anya. The attacker was moving too quickly to stop, so Lexa planted herself and gave the slightest of bumps with her shoulder. The momentum and Lexa's strong shoulder sent the attacker flying into the wall with a satisfying crash. Completely legal. And damn, did it feel good.

Lexa looked up and crashed the goal as Anya sent a well-paced ball flying off the back wall, setting up the perfect angle. All she had to do was tap it in. Easier said than done, but Lexa was perfectly skilled. The sound of the ball scraping the back of the net was drowned out by the cheers of her teammates as they celebrated the early goal.

Lexa jogged back to their half, barely a smirk on her face. Scoring felt good, but there was no need to act like she hadn't scored before. She was a commander of the field. This was turning out to be a great way to start her weekend.

Lexa walked towards her car after the game, feeling the best she'd felt all week. The Grounders easily defeated their opponents 7-2. She didn't score any other goals that game, but she was a defender, goals were not her primary objective.

“Lexa!” Anya shouted at her from across the parking lot. “We're going to The Tower for post-game beers. You better come! No excuses this time, Hayes! You need to get laid! I hear the ladies love a woman in uniform!”

“Fine! I'll come if you stop shouting about my sex life in public!” Lexa yelled back, mortified at her captain's lack of decency.

“No promises! You're a fine piece of ass and the world should know!”

“Anya!”

“See you there, Hayes!”

Lexa grumbled to herself as she got into her car. Anya could be so brash. It's not that she didn't date, in fact, she went on several dates. They just never really lived up to her expectations. Lexa had very particular tastes. One taste really. A very embarrassing taste.

Ever since the dreams started, Lexa couldn't help but notice the object of her affection in all of them. Every. Single. Dream. How could she not notice the same beautiful blonde woman, blue eyes, full figure, slightly husky voice and the mind to back it all up? Lexa was completely in love with her dream woman. Her literal dream woman. A woman she had only met in her dreams. And that was embarrassing, to say the least, unhealthy to say the most.

Lexa tried to shake the image of the blonde from her mind as she drove to the local bar, uncomfortably aware of the heat pooling in between her thighs. Lexa flipped on the radio to distract herself from her thoughts and began singing along to whatever 80's pop hit was blasting through her speakers. 80's pop always had a way to get her mind off of things. It was so happy and simple. A guilty pleasure that actually caused no feelings of guilt whatsoever.

The Tower was a local dive bar that looked nothing like a tower. Lexa didn't understand the name, and she never could get anyone to explain it to her. Nevertheless, it was appropriately packed for a Friday night, but Lexa found her teammates easily enough. The matching uniforms were a big help in that.

“Hayes! Gracing us with her presence!” Gustus boomed over the chatter of the bar. He passed her a glass full of cold beer and threw his muscular arm over her shoulder giving her a warm side hug. Lexa couldn't help but smile. Gustus was a huge man with a full beard and tattooed face. On all accounts, he looked like someone who shouldn't be messed with, but he was in reality, the biggest teddy bear on the team.

“Hey, yeah, thanks. Anya insisted,” Lexa said, clinking her full pint with Gustus' half empty one.

“It's about time. We like you, kid,” Gustus smiled.

“I’m not a kid, you know, I’m almost 30,” Lexa stated firmly.

“Yeah, well, you're still younger and smaller than me. That makes you a kid in my book.”

“Everyone is smaller than you, Gus. It's what makes you an unstoppable keeper.”

“Ha, and here I thought it was my unattainable athletic skill keeping all the goals out.”

“You let two in tonight.”

“Right, well-”

“Lexa! Fuck, yeah! I really thought you'd chicken out again,” Anya cut in. “Come here, let's find you a woman.”

Anya pulled Lexa's arm, dragging her away from Gustus. “Really, I don't need your help-”

“Would you relax, Hayes. I'm trying to be a good wing-woman here. What's your type? Tall, trim, athletic, blonde hair, brown eyes, legs for days?”

“Anya, you just described yourself.”

“Are you saying I'm not attractive? I’m a fucking catch, Hayes!”

Lexa inhaled, ready to give a sarcastic response when the front door to the bar opened. Lexa saw her out of the corner of her eye and immediately did a double take. It was her. The woman from her dreams. She was there. Walking into the crowded bar.

It was like a god damn rom-com movie. Time seemed to slow down, the cacophony of the bar all but faded away. Lexa could hear the music swell up. If she could think clearly, she would recognize the sultry tones of Peter Gabriel crooning “In Your Eyes” through the bar speakers. And Lexa couldn't take her eyes off the woman. She was more beautiful than in her dreams. Lexa watched as she navigated through the crowded bar effortlessly, gliding like a dancer. She was simply enchanting.

Anya's gaze followed her own and let out a long whistle. “Damn, Hayes. She's hot. Perhaps out of your league, but you gotta shoot for the stars, I guess.”

Lexa couldn't even muster a response. As far as she could tell, she was in shock. The dream woman was real, and here. Her eyes followed the blonde as she approached a group of friends, greeting them with a gorgeous smile. Lexa stared, too long, too hard, and the woman must have felt it and turned to meet her look. She smiled and gave a small wink.

Lexa choked on the beer she just gulped and spit the remnants out of her mouth before looking away. Her cheeks flushed red. She took a moment to compose herself before looking back at Anya.

“Whoa there, Lex. You okay?”

“What? Yeah, I'm fine.”

“Go talk to her.”

“No, no, I can’t.” What would she even say? What could she even possibly say to the woman she was so fucking in love with even though she had never actually met her?

“Lexa, just go talk to her. You can't embarrass yourself any more than you just did.”

Lexa shot her a vicious look.

“What? You think this whole bar didn't just see you choke on your beer when a pretty girl winked at you?”

Lexa spent the rest of the night stealing side glances at the woman as Anya supplied her with liquid courage. After her third beer, Lexa felt tipsy confident enough to rally up the courage to approach the blonde woman.

“Okay, I'm ready.”

“About fucking time, Hayes. You're starting to cut in on my hunt,” Anya stated.

“Your hunt?” Lexa scoffed.

“Mmhmm, my hunt,” Anya said, plastering a devilish look on her face.

“That's disgusting. It’s so predatory. Don’t you want a meaningful relationship? A real one? One that doesn’t start with such a-”

“You're stalling,” Anya interrupted.

“Am not!” She was. She knew it. The thought of finally meeting this woman in person was terrifying, and no amount of alcohol could prepare her for this moment.

“Come on, Lexa. I'll say hi first, break the ice for you, introduce you,” Anya said pulling Lexa by the wrist. Lexa began to protest but allowed Anya to guide her toward the blonde’s group of friends.

They weaved through the crowds of people. Lexa could feel her heart beating through her chest. She was about to meet the woman of her dreams. She felt her emotional wall build up. It was a nasty habit she formed after her teenage years, after Costia. Lexa had a difficult time opening herself up to potential relationships. It was a defense mechanism. 

“Well, shit. Where'd she go?”

“What?” Lexa stopped in her tracks, pulling her arm from Anya's grasp.

“I don't see her,” Anya said, standing on her toes, trying to get a better vantage point.

Lexa scanned the room, too. Sure enough, the blonde woman was nowhere to be seen.

She swallowed the lump forming in her throat. Lexa felt a pull of opposite emotions. She was devastated she didn't meet the woman of her dreams, but also slightly relieved she didn't have to face the rejection from the perfect woman. Because Lexa was sure an exquisite creature like the blonde would never be into someone like her. The world was not that kind.