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The salon is smaller, more unassuming than Clarke was expecting for its supposed ultra exclusivity. There’s a small reception podium at the entrance, two battered leather couches in the waiting area, four stations, a row of vintage sinks along the back wall. The decor ticks all the hipster clichés; exposed brickwork, reclaimed wood, wrought iron fixtures, naked lightbulbs dangling on long cords from the ceiling. Slinky beats play over the sound system, a little too much bass for comfort, and Clarke begins to wonder if this is really the right place. It’s hard to imagine Indra, with her sleek power suits and an AirPod perpetually stuck in her ear, sitting in one of those old-fashioned barber’s chairs. But it was on the studio exec’s recommendation that Clarke made the appointment. She was told this particular stylist is heavily in-demand, booked solidly for months in advance, but all she had to do was name-drop Indra and the salon would magically find the time to squeeze her in.

Which is how Clarke finds herself in Los Feliz at noon on a Tuesday.

Reception is manned by a tall, muscular guy with a shaved head, a face full of piercings, and an elaborate tattoo on his neck. Based on appearances alone, Clarke assumes he’s going to have an attitude, but he offers a disarmingly friendly smile as she slides off her sunglasses, a spark of recognition in his eyes.

“Hi, Clarke Griffin. I have an appointment with—”

“Lexa. I’ll take it from here, Lincoln.”

A woman stands to the side, eyes coolly appraising. Clarke hadn’t even heard the approach, and she’s a little thrown by it, by Lexa in general.

Because Lexa is… not at all what Clarke had imagined. Well, she’s not sure what she expected. Someone more seasoned to match the reputation that precedes her. With her doe eyes and elfin features and a mouth that's default setting seems to be a perfect pout, Lexa can’t be a day older than twenty-five.

Remembering her manners, Clarke offers her hand. “Nice to meet you.”

Lexa’s grip is surprisingly firm, her long, slender fingers wrapping around Clarke’s own and squeezing once.

“Let’s get you settled, hm,” Lexa says, leading Clarke over to the sole empty chair. “Can I offer you a refreshment? We have water, coffee, tea, craft beer, wine. Or I can send Tris to the juice bar down the street if you want something else...?”

“I’m good, thanks.”

Around them the salon is abuzz with activity; three other stylists cutting, applying foils, blow-drying while their clients chatter and a young girl goes around with a broom sweeping the floor.

Clarke meets Lexa’s eyes in the mirror. 

Something about the intense focus of her gaze leaves Clarke dry-mouthed and wishing she’d accepted that drink after all.

“So—what did you have in mind?”

“A shag.”

There’s a pause.

Lexa raises one eyebrow. The faintest hint of a smirk twitches at the corner of her mouth. “Usually, a girl has to take me out to dinner first.”

It takes a second for Clarke to cotton on.

When she does, her eyes widen.

She chokes on a nervous burst of laughter. Touches a hand to her cheek, as though she could ward off the blush, but her face has already turned a deep shade of red.

“Okay, um, let me rephrase that. I need to get a ‘70s-style shag haircut for an upcoming role.”

“I figured,” Lexa says drily. Green eyes sparkle in the reflection. “Relax. I’m just fucking with you.”

That little smirk grows and God, I wish you would is Clarke’s immediate thought as she drinks in Lexa’s appearance.

This town has no shortage of beautiful women: aspiring actresses/models/singers, most bartending or waiting tables or hustling in the gig economy, and every single one of them is drop dead gorgeous. But even by LA standards, Lexa is something special. Blessed with naturally full lips, immaculate skin, an enviable mane of chestnut brown hair flowing past her shoulders in perfectly coiffed waves, and the kind of bone structure that devotees of cosmetic procedures would trade their Bel-Air mansions for in a heartbeat. 

And that fitted black shirt and skinny jeans combo on her slim frame is… oof. One too many buttons undone, the sleeves rolled unevenly to her elbows, showing sun-kissed forearms and a fascinating fine line tattoo that runs from the wrist of her right hand and disappears beneath the edge of the shirt sleeve.

Okay, okay. 

So Lexa is hot (and possibly gay); whatever.

It’s nothing for Clarke to lose her mind over.

She clears her throat and offers a tight smile. Wills herself to get it together. To be cool, be professional, stop drooling before she causes herself further embarrassment. 

She pulls out her phone. “I’ve got some reference pics the producers sent me, if I could show you?”

“Of course,” Lexa says, still with that wry look that makes Clarke’s stomach flip-flop in a way that she tries to ignore.

But she’s unprepared for the moment Lexa moves in closer, leaning down to look at the screen over Clarke’s shoulder. The sudden nearness flusters her, all too conscious of their proximity, of the subtle fragrance Lexa wears that invades her senses. The scent surrounds Clarke, makes her feel lightheaded and her thoughts fuzzy as she covertly breathes it in.

“Just, um, give me a sec to…”

Her fingers are a little clumsy as she taps and scrolls until she locates the email and opens the attachments. 

The low, thoughtful hum Lexa emits so close to her ear does nothing to help Clarke’s situation. It sends a shiver down her spine, and she shifts in the chair to disguise it.

She clears her throat again, to rid her voice of its conspicuous scratchiness.

“We’d talked about doing like a Stevie Nicks boho vibe,” she explains, then flicks to the next image, “but mid-length, so I can toss it around without taking someone’s eye out.”

A sage nod. “Long bangs; choppy layers; loose waves. Got it.” 

Lexa straightens up and examines a lock of Clarke’s hair, rubbing the strands between her fingers. There is absolutely nothing sexual about it, but Clarke experiences the distinct stir of arousal nonetheless.

Her eyelids flicker. “Yeah. Exactly.”

Lexa is smoothly all business as she discusses cut, colour and texture. And Clarke can only nod along, far too distracted by the slope of Lexa’s jawline to make any valuable contribution to the conversation beyond “sure”, “mhm”, and “okay.” Lexa could be suggesting a two-tone purple mullet and Clarke would be none the wiser, because her attention is helplessly drawn to Lexa’s throat and lower, to the collarbones peeking from the open collared shirt. 

It’s ridiculous, not to mention rude and basically kind of lecherous, but Clarke can’t tear her gaze away from the several inches of golden skin on display.

Absently, she licks her lips. 

When she does finally force herself to look up, locking eyes with Lexa in the mirror again, the sight of her own dilated pupils is like a tiny shock to Clarke’s system.

It doesn’t escape her notice that Lexa’s eyes have gone dark too, an observation that makes her pulse leap and her cheeks grow warm, and suddenly this run-of-the-mill appointment just got a whole lot more intriguing.

The seconds stretch while they stare at one another. Lexa’s hands grip the top of the chair and Clarke isn’t certain if the brush of knuckles against her shoulder blades is real or imagined.

It’s Lexa who breaks eye contact at last, turning her head to catch the attention of the teenager with the broom. “Tris. Grab me a cape, will you?”

And, Jesus, the view it affords Clarke of the sharp hinge of that jawline, the way the cord of tendon in Lexa’s neck stands out in relief. She wants to drag her tongue up the length of muscle slowly, see what noises it might draw from this woman.

She’s still thinking about it when Lexa murmurs, “Sit tight, I’ll be back once I’ve mixed the colour solutions.”

While Lexa disappears into a side room, Tris helps Clarke into a full-length, black polyester cape that flutters around her legs when she sits back down.

Minutes later, Lexa returns wearing disposable gloves and an apron over her clothes. Hair tied back. Glasses; the kind with thick black frames, and Clarke has to press her lips together to smother a smile. Especially since Lexa is pushing a little cart. The whole image is strangely endearing, at odds with Lexa’s otherwise achingly too-cool demeanour. She looks like a nerd about to conduct a science experiment.

Eyeing the various plastic tubs on the cart, Clarke realises she probably should’ve been paying attention during the consultation. She vaguely remembers Lexa saying something about lowlights, graduating a darker shade from the roots to the midpoint to give more dimension to Clarke’s natural blonde. In the grand scheme of things it isn’t a drastic change, although it’s still more adventurous than what Clarke would usually go for, preferring to play it safe when it comes to her personal style. But it’s for the job, and she trusts in Lexa’s expertise; Indra doesn’t give praise lightly, after all.

Lexa doesn’t talk while she works, apart from the occasional request for Clarke to tilt her head this way or that. She is methodical, focused and efficient as she dabs the dye over small sections and nimbly folds them up in foil. Clarke is content to watch for a time, but the longer the silence goes on, the more she itches to end it, her curiosity piqued by the woman in front of her.

“How long have you been doing this?” she pipes up at last. Drawls with no small amount of irony directed at herself, “Hair stylist to the stars.”

Lexa glances up for a second, then returns to the task at hand. “About ten years.”

Clarke is unable to mask her incredulity. “Were you twelve when you started? I thought we had pretty strict anti-child labour laws in this country.”

That earns a barely-there smirk but Lexa doesn’t miss a beat, dipping the brush into the tub and painting another section. “I was eighteen.”


Well. Clarke feels marginally better about ogling Lexa now she knows they’re actually roughly the same age.

“Alright, now I want to know where this fountain of youth is that you’ve been drinking from.”

Lexa shakes her head, the smirk edging into a fuller smile, and to be the cause of it gives Clarke a tiny thrill.

“What about you?” Those eyes flick towards her face in the mirror once more. Lingering a bit longer this time. “Did you always want to act?”

“I’m such a cliché. I got bitten by the bug in college. Switched my major to Performing Arts and, pretentious nitwit that I was, insisted I was only ever going to do serious theatre, dahling.” Clarke rolls her eyes at her younger self. “But then I got an agent and he told me that if I wanted to have a career and not, you know, suffer in abject poverty for the rest of my adult life, I should move to LA.”

Not that it was all sunshine and roses when she arrived here. For the first year, she couch surfed and occasionally slept in her car. Subsisted on a steady diet of instant noodles and whatever other cheap nourishment she could afford. The constant rejection was hard to swallow. Being judged on looks more than talent left her frustrated and disillusioned. 

She was flat broke, down to the last fifty dollars in her checking account, about ready to quit and drive back east when her luck turned and she finally caught a break. In the space of a month she managed to book a couple of commercials, secured some voiceover work, clicked with a sympathetic casting director on a police procedural, getting to portray a ‘victim of the week’ on the mortuary slab. From there she made slow inroads: from speaking-part day player, to guest spots, to a recurring role on a mediocre genre show aimed at the teen demographic and sex-starved straight housewives. Then came the audition for this current as-yet-untitled project, followed by second and third callbacks as the producers narrowed down their choices.

When she got the good news straight from Indra, Clarke didn’t fully believe the job was hers, convinced it was all an elaborate prank. For days afterwards, she braced herself for the rug to be pulled out from under her feet, expecting to be regretfully informed that they’d changed their minds, that on further reflection she wasn’t what they envisioned for the role.

Even now, weeks into prep, she still has to pinch herself. Because it’s a dream come true: a prestige drama on premium cable with a cast to die for. It has Emmy-bait written all over it. Yeah, hers is a fairly small part but it’s instrumental to the story, something she can really get her teeth into and prove her range as an actress. It’s an exciting and scary challenge, but one she’s more than ready for.

She realises she’s retreated into her head and huffs out a self-deprecating laugh. “Honestly, if I wasn’t an actress, I don’t know what I’d do. I’m totally unqualified for anything else.”

“Seems kind of harsh.” Lexa has finished with the foils and is carefully stirring the next tub of hair dye. Eyes on the brush swirling around the mixture. “I mean, you could be a radio host or the voice of an A.I. assistant.” She looks up. “I could listen to you recite Google search results all day long.”

It’s such a breathtakingly corny line. The audacity, really. But Lexa’s smooth delivery and the prolonged, direct glance that accompanies it one hundred percent works in her favour.

Clarke bites her lip and drops her gaze. “Good to know I have options if I find myself unemployed.”

With the open flirtation, this tacit acknowledgment of attraction, the energy between them shifts perceptibly. Neither are shy about looking—although Clarke is aware of how comical she appears right now with all the tin foil sprouting from her scalp in every direction; that Lexa is able to see past it is a small miracle.

“I did once catch an episode of that show you were on,” Lexa says, starting on the roots. The brush strokes are more slapdash as she applies the dye liberally, the sharp chemical smell making Clarke’s nostrils twitch. “The one with the improbably young and hot, yet also incredibly dumb astronauts, who—”

She cuts Lexa off with a groan. 

“God. Don’t. Not my proudest work, but it paid the bills.” Clarke sighs. “Most people in this business don’t have the luxury of choice. You take what you can get. If you’re fortunate and ambitious, if you work hard enough and make the right connections, it’s a stepping stone to something better.”

“I was going to say you were good,” is Lexa’s pointed response. She pauses, then adds, “I really believed you were overcome by alien pheromones on that planet that looked exactly like British Columbia.”

Clarke’s eyes narrow when she spots Lexa’s smirk. “Oh, fuck you.”

“Now we’re back to propositioning me.”

“And you can kiss goodbye to a tip.”

“How about a date instead?”

Clarke gapes slightly but doesn’t answer; too stunned.

After a final dab along Clarke’s middle parting, Lexa puts down the brush and peels off the gloves. 

“I’ll leave you to think about it while the colour sets, hm? You’ve got—” She checks the watch on her wrist. “Just under forty-five minutes to decide where you’d like to go. In the meantime, Tris will bring you a bottle of mineral water.”

Clarke watches her depart with a blush, eyes glued to Lexa’s retreating form, dipping down only for a second to check out her ass in those jeans before guiltily cutting away.

For the next while Clarke pretends to be engrossed in her phone, idly scrolling through her social feeds, checking the mentions on Instagram and Twitter. Beyond the small but devoted army of fans of The Ark, she’s largely unknown to the average person in the street. Only on rare occasions is she ever stopped for a photo. For the most part, she’s able to go about her daily life and run errands without intrusion or anyone making a fuss. But online, there are a few dozen loyal followers who clamour for her attention and sometimes she throws them a bone in the form of a retweet. It’s nice to be nice, and this whole fan interaction thing is still kind of a novelty.

On a whim, she snaps a mirror selfie and cross-posts it to her accounts (#makeover), and within minutes the likes start racking up.

While she has half an eye on her feed, she also keeps sneaking glances at Lexa, busy with another client on the other side of the salon. Now and then, they catch each other’s eye in the reflection and every time it happens Clarke feels another little jolt of giddy excitement.

By the time Lexa returns to check on Clarke, unwrapping the foils to inspect the dye and humming her approval, Clarke has run out of patience. She’s been sitting on a sassy retort for too long, rehearsing it over and over in her head, and now is her big chance to deliver a killer one-liner worthy of—

“All done.” Lexa nudges her head in the direction of the sinks. “Come with me and we’ll get this washed out.”

The slow realisation that Lexa is going to be the person to give her a shampoo knocks the wind out of Clarke’s sails. Flusters her all over again. Because someone massaging her scalp can be unintentionally stimulating at the best of times, but when that someone looks like Lexa? Uh-huh, no. This is going to be disastrous for Clarke’s underwear.

In a daze that she’s going to blame on inhaling chemical fumes, she follows Lexa to the sinks and takes the seat Lexa points towards. A soft, thick towel is draped around Clarke’s shoulders and Lexa tells her to lean back. The water runs for a minute, allowing it to get up to temperature before Lexa tests the spray. 

“How’s that? Too hot?”

“No, it’s fine,” Clarke says, voice sounding rusty.

Lexa slides her hand to the base of Clarke’s skull to scoop her hair up into a loose hold, and Clarke barely has the presence of mind to stop a soft groan from slipping out. Another noise gets clogged in her throat as Lexa’s fingers sweep over her forehead and temples, keeping the warm water from spilling into her eyes.

As the dye is rinsed off, Clarke finds herself in a weird liminal state, hovering between total relaxation and being attuned to every touch, simultaneously melting into the seat and tingling all over. And it only gets worse once Lexa lathers up the shampoo, working her fingers against Clarke’s scalp, alternating between firm scrubs and gentle kneading, and it all feels amazing. Lexa’s hands are magic. She sighs quietly in contentment, eyelids sliding shut as she gives over to the sensations, floating away on a cloud of blissful tranquility until—

“About this date, then.”

Clarke peers up only to have her suspicions be confirmed that Lexa is every bit as attractive from this inverted angle.

“You’re making a pretty big assumption that I’ll say yes,” is Clarke’s arch response. “I could be in a relationship.”

There’s a slight curve to those beestung lips and she has a sudden urge to kiss that smirk away.

“Are you?”

Clarke draws in a breath. “No. But—”

“Just saying, if you were, I’d be up for the challenge of stealing you away.”

Lexa winks. Actually fucking winks, and Clarke hates to admit it but she dies a little inside, swooning at this display of supreme confidence. Outwardly, she’s less impressed.

“Do you often hit on your clients? Seems like a harassment suit waiting to happen.”

The spark of mischief in Lexa’s eyes is extinguished and Clarke instantly regrets the sardonic barb. 

“No.” Lexa’s jaw tenses. Her face is drawn and serious. “I’m sorry if I misread the signals. I can have someone else—”

“You didn’t, Lexa,” Clarke says. She lets out a sigh. “I’m just trying to deflect with poorly judged humour because I don’t want to seem too eager, alright?”

Maybe it’s the fact she’s looking at Lexa upside down, but Clarke feels all the more vulnerable for her honesty.

They’re both quiet for a spell, while the water drums off the porcelain sink and hair dryers blast nearby.

At last, Lexa gives a shallow nod. The corner of her mouth ticks up and her eyes take on a softer glow, magnified by the lenses of those geeky glasses. And it’s possibly just the lighting here, but her eyes are so green they don’t seem real.

“Well, in that case.” Lexa wets her lips and Clarke watches the quick dart of tongue with interest. “If you’re free sometime this week or next, maybe we could hang out together.”

“Mm. I'll have my assistant check my calendar and get back to you.”

Lexa’s answering pout and slight eye roll of faux exasperation is nothing short of delightful.

“Are you allowed to spill any details about this role, or is it top secret?”

Even as she asks the question, Lexa’s laser focus doesn’t waver. She wields the scissors with precision and flair, a maestro at work. 

“It’s for HBO. About a fictional music venue loosely based on CBGB in New York. Have you heard of it?” Off Lexa’s blank look, Clarke fills in, “It was this iconic club in the East Village where all these legendary punk and new wave bands played.”

“Like The Ramones?”

“Mhm. And Blondie. Talking Heads. All those amazing groups.”

Lexa nods to indicate she’s listening. She moves around the chair, hip brushing against Clarke’s wrist on the armrest. It might have been accidental but it makes Clarke lose her train of thought for a second.

“Anyway, um, John Murphy is the lead. He plays this ambitious, sleazy, coke fiend music promoter and one of the up-and-coming bands he books features yours truly on lead vocals.”

“You sing?”

Clarke shrugs. “I’ve dabbled. Although, this is my first onscreen outing.”

Talking about it, Clarke feels a frisson of exhilaration mixed with an undercurrent of anxiety. Because, aside from bit parts in musical theatre choruses and a few half-assed jamming sessions with musician friends, she hasn’t done anything serious like this before. But Indra, Marcus and the other producers seemed enthusiastic about what they heard at the auditions, and only mentioned vocal coaching to build on her natural ability. A couple of weeks into it, her confidence has grown in leaps and bounds, and she really does feel like she has the pipes to pull it off.

“What’s your character like?”

“She’s kind of an amalgam of several pioneering frontwomen of rock. So I’ve been studying tons of archive footage—Suzi Quatro, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Cherie Currie, Chrissie Hynde—to really get a handle on the tough, spunky attitude of the time.”

Lexa stoops, using the comb to pull a section of Clarke’s hair taut, and Clarke feels the light gust of breath against her cheek, hears the soft snick of the scissors. 

Snip snip snip.

She keeps talking to distract herself. 

“The casting notes said they wanted someone who could embody rockstar magnetism and swaggering sexual energy. The kind of woman who’s equally at home smashing beer bottles and tearing up the stage as she is snorting cocaine off her lovers’ naked bodies.” Clarke chuckles a little self-consciously. “I’m not sure how they saw those particular qualities in me but I’m glad they did.” She lifts one shoulder in a shrug. “I guess acting is seventy-five percent costume and makeup, and the rest is being able to successfully bullshit people into believing you’re someone you’re not.”

“I don’t know about that,” Lexa murmurs, as she steps in front of the chair. 

She hooks her fingers under Clarke’s chin and tips her face up gently, and if Lexa detects Clarke’s quiet intake of breath, her controlled expression gives nothing away.

She snips a tiny lock off Clarke’s new bangs. 

Her gaze wanders, landing on Clarke’s lips then flicking back up to lock onto wide eyes.

“The sexual energy I’m feeling from you right now is off the charts.”

Never in her life has Clarke wanted to make out with someone so badly, and the gradual stretch of Lexa’s smile, the twinkle in her eyes says: I know.

It’s imperative that Clarke recovers some of the balance of power in this situation, for the sake of her own ego. 

“Sure you aren’t projecting? From where I’m sitting, it looks like you’re the one who’s itching to get into my pants.”

Lexa’s mouth twists. 

“What?” Clarke cocks an eyebrow. “Am I wrong?”

The other woman stands tall and studies Clarke from beneath her lashes. Lips pursed. Arms folded. She tips her head to the side and appears to come to a conclusion. 

When Lexa leans down again, she braces her hands on the arms of the chair. Brings her mouth next to Clarke’s ear, and Clarke shivers at this complete disregard for her personal space, a surge of prickling heat rushing over her skin.

“Given the opportunity,” Lexa whispers, “I would absolutely fuck you on this chair. Both couches. The table in the break room. About a dozen more times in the place where I’m crashing above the shop.”

Clarke blows out an unsteady breath.

That’s… a lot of orgasms.

Possibly more than she can handle in one day without carb-loading in advance. 

(Yet another reason to curse this diet the producers insisted she go on to attain the requisite heroin chic rocker look.)

Lexa draws back several inches and Clarke’s stomach swoops to see the lust so obviously etched across her features. Plush bottom lip caught between her teeth. The dark, dark, heavy-lidded stare that keeps dropping to Clarke’s mouth.

It makes her head spin. 

“Nothing to say?” Lexa asks, low and husky. “Or are you going to leave me hanging?”

“No, I’m just—” It takes all of Clarke’s restraint not to grab the front of Lexa’s shirt and reel her in. “Thinking I should’ve picked out nicer lingerie this morning.”

Lexa’s eyes flash and Clarke can guess what’s going through her mind; she’s entertaining similar ideas.

“When do you get off? You could give me a tour of that apartment.”

Forward, but she gets the impression Lexa isn’t going to judge her too harshly for it. Maybe the many hours she spent watching badass rock vixens strut their stuff is starting to rub off on her. She’s channelling that raw energy in her own life, going after what—and who—she wants without shame or apology.

“You’re my last appointment today.”


“Not so much for the clients who’ll need to reschedule.”

The slow, self-satisfied half grin that embeds itself into Lexa’s pinked cheeks induces tiny palpitations in Clarke. Not just her heart but lower down, too. 

“What do you think?”

Lexa stands behind the chair, taking the jagged, razor-finished ends of Clarke’s artfully dishevelled locks between her fingers. Her expression is unreadable, except for the subtle pout of her lips as she scrutinises the symmetry of her work.

For her part, Clarke is very much enjoying the pleasurable tug on her scalp. 

“Good shag.”

In the mirror, Lexa casts her eyes towards the ceiling. “Surely we’ve exhausted that joke by now.”

“Have we, though? I think I could get another two or three cracks out of it, minimum.”

Lexa only releases a quiet sigh, combing her long fingers through the flicked-out layers at the back to give the volume a little extra oomph. And Clarke could get easily get used to this: Lexa’s hands in her hair. It already feels familiar. 

“I love it, Lexa. Genuinely.”

The cut is fucking awesome. She looks like the illegitimate love child of Stevie Nicks and Farrah Fawcett, conceived during an epic three-day odyssey of drug-fuelled debauchery and mayhem. Pour her into a pair of skintight black leather pants, apply a fuckton of smoky liner and silver eyeshadow, and she’s ready to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

If she’s being honest, she wasn’t sold on the bangs at first but they really frame her face and bring out her features.

Yeah… it’s safe to say she’s feeling it.

And Lexa is too, if the way she’s staring is any indication.

“So…” Clarke lifts her eyebrows expectantly.

“Right.” Lexa springs into action. “I’ll take this—“ 

She plucks the cutting collar from Clarke’s shoulders and puts it aside. Helps Clarke out of the cape and guides her towards the reception area with a hand at the small of her back. 

“Linc, could you ring it up for me?” 

He perks up as soon as his eyes land on Clarke, and he gives the new ‘do a nod of approval. 

Lexa lowers her voice for Clarke’s ears only. “I have to make some calls to clear my schedule, but you can wait here or there’s a decent coffee shop across the street.”

“I‘ll wait.” 

Clarke is antsy enough without adding caffeine to the equation.

Lexa remains where she is, eyes making a slow sweep of Clarke’s outfit, from the peep toe heels, bare legs exposed by the short, one-piece romper suit, lingering on the line of her cleavage. Getting stuck there for a second. And Clarke sees the small gulp, the slight bob of Lexa’s throat as she swallows.

When their eyes meet again, Lexa’s are dark and full of glittering promise. It’s a look that leaves no doubt about what her intentions are for the rest of the afternoon.

Clarke sends her off with a hushed, “Be quick.”

While she deals with payment—trying not to wince too obviously at the charge on her credit card (this place definitely has the price tag to reflect its celebrity clientele)—she leaves a tip generous enough to make Lincoln’s brown eyes bulge almost as much as his biceps do.

He almost falls over himself to oblige Clarke with a snap for Insta. She’s in the midst of posing up a storm for their mini photo shoot when Lexa returns, a little red in the face, a backpack slung over one shoulder, hair loose and flowing free again.

“Ready?” Lexa asks Clarke.

Lincoln looks perplexed as Clarke relieves him of her phone with her thanks. 

He frowns. “Are you going somewhere?”

“Yeah, I cleared it with Anya. She already gave me shit so don’t start, okay?”

He holds up his hands in mock surrender. “Alright. Guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.”


Clarke gives him a sheepish parting wave as she hustles to keep up with Lexa’s long strides. As soon as they step outside onto the sidewalk, she reaches for Lexa’s wrist.

“Hey. Look, Lexa, I don’t want you to get into trouble with your boss because of...”

She trails off, silenced by Lexa crowding into her space, backing her against the whitewashed wall. 

“Me,” Clarke finishes on an exhale.

Lexa’s hands cup her neck, thumbs stroking over her jaw, and Clarke draws in a hurried breath before Lexa breaches the final gap.

Clarke sighs into the soft crush of lips. Waits only a beat before she pulls Lexa’s lean frame flush against her body by the belt loops of her jeans. Heart racing, knees trembling as Lexa’s mouth shifts and the kiss deepens with mutual hunger.

“Upstairs?” Clarke pants out after probably a solid thirty seconds of thoroughly acquainting herself with the contours of Lexa’s mouth. 

Lexa nods and surges forward again, claiming a string of heated kisses that leave Clarke wobbly on her feet when they separate.

“Side alley. Entrance is around back.”

The fact Lexa only seems capable of speaking in fragmented sentences is a tremendous ego boost, but Clarke’s not going to boast about it. Yet.

Tangling their fingers together, Lexa tugs Clarke in the right direction with a determined gait, charging down the alleyway and up the stairs to the second floor.

After some minor fumbling with her keys, Lexa gets the door unlocked and, once it slams shut behind them, she drops her bag and pulls Clarke to her. Without anyone around to bear witness, this kiss is dirtier than the ones that went before. (Although, Clarke really hopes no random bystanders filmed the impromptu make out on their phones and posted the videos online. She’s not ready to make her debut on Perez.)

Their lips slant together, mouths open, breath coming in harsh, fast puffs. Clarke dips her tongue inside and Lexa’s groan slices through her, cuts to the quick. With a muffled growl, Clarke attacks the buttons on Lexa’s shirt, clumsy in her haste to uncover skin. She yanks the open shirt from Lexa’s shoulders, but pauses when she gets her first full glimpse of the sleeve tattoo that runs the complete length of Lexa’s arm. 

It’s stunning. An entire woodland scene depicted in black ink: canopies of leaves and branches sprouting over the expanse of skin; creatures of the forest deftly woven into the intricate illustration. There’s a bird soaring over the treetops on the ball of Lexa’s shoulder; a family of owls perched above the inside crook of her elbow; a deer grazing on moss and lichen on the forest floor beside her wrist.

Clarke is awe of the artistry, but Lexa doesn’t let her admire the tattoo for long, fitting a hand around the back of Clarke’s neck and recapturing her lips. While they trade feverish kisses, Lexa unties the drawstring at Clarke’s waist, makes quick work of the buttons down the front of the romper. She doesn’t wait to strip Clarke out of it, just shoves her hand inside and down, over Clarke’s stomach and into her underwear. 

Warm fingers dive through wet heat.

They both groan into the kiss.

“God, Clarke.”

“We’ve been eye-fucking in the mirror for the past two hours. What did you expect?”

They each grapple to get the other out of their clothes, shedding items as they stumble to the bedroom. Never ceasing contact. Mouths sealed; hands roaming, grasping at flesh. Greedy, demanding kisses that set every inch of Clarke’s body alight.

She moans when Lexa pushes her against the wall, is weak for the way Lexa takes her wrists and pins them above her head, how Lexa crushes into her.

But then Lexa’s gaze drops and her breathing alters.

Whole face going slack as her eyes trip over Clarke’s bust.

It’s a temporary lapse in concentration, but it makes Clarke feel good about herself. Pleased that even in this plain, everyday bra, her breasts still have the power to make hot girls gawk.

To her credit, Lexa recovers swiftly.

A smooth, bare thigh wedges itself between Clarke’s legs and she rocks her pelvis down to meet it, the rub of damp cotton causing a delicious kind of friction.

Lexa’s face remains close, swollen lips only a tantalising inch away. Her eyes are hooded and black, blown pupils surrounded by the thinnest ring of green, and that look alone is going to figure prominently in Clarke’s fantasies. She wants to lock it in to memory, and revisit it again and again.

But that’s for later. 

In the present, she’s focused on this: the desperate grind of her hips against tensed muscle, the pressure direct and constant and exactly what she needs. 

It’s over within a matter of seconds.

The breakneck speed at which orgasm rushes up on her catches her wholly off guard. She goes from rolling undulations in one moment to jerky thrusts in the next. Gasping. Crying out. A hoarse, half bitten-off yelp of Lexa’s name as she shudders through the powerful tremors.


Part of her should be embarrassed she didn’t even make it to a horizontal surface before she came.

She tips her head back, a raspy, breathless wheeze of laughter bubbling up.

Lexa kisses Clarke’s neck, nips at her jaw. “What?” 

“Just—God, I…” 

Clarke stops herself, because Lexa is arrogant enough without learning that this is the quickest Clarke has reached orgasm in recent memory. Maybe ever. And that puffed-up ego hardly needs to be inflated any further. 

“I’ve had worse,” Clarke concludes.

The grudging compliment doesn’t deter the spread of Lexa’s smug smile as her lips travel down Clarke’s exposed throat.

The hands holding her wrists in place let go, and she clings to Lexa’s shoulders, fingers digging in while Lexa’s open mouth latches to her pulse point. The hot, wet suction makes Clarke’s knees buckle slightly, and she grabs Lexa by the cheeks, guiding her back up to her mouth.

Lexa kisses like she can’t get enough and Clarke is right there with her, already hopelessly addicted to the lush, soft give of those pouty lips.

“Please tell me you have a sturdy bed in this place,” she husks, breath hitching as Lexa’s splayed hands slide around her hips to grab her ass. 

Without warning, Lexa lifts her up. Swallows Clarke’s small gasp of shock and arousal at this unexpected show of physical strength. Instinctively, her legs wrap around Lexa’s waist as they cross the threshold of the bedroom, holding on tight as Lexa carries her a few short steps to topple onto the unmade double bed.

They land with a quiet, “oof.”

The glib remark that’s on the tip of Clarke’s tongue about Lexa being stronger than she looks vanishes. 

Because Lexa is between her legs. A dark, voracious glint in her eyes that leaves Clarke’s mouth parched and other parts overflowing.

Lexa maintains heavy eye contact as she slips off the bed to kneel on the floor, as she hooks her fingers into the waistband of Clarke’s underwear.

Propped on her elbows, Clarke watches and waits, holding her breath.

“Is it okay if I go down on you?” Lexa asks.

While consent is sexy and all, Clarke would’ve thought the answer was patently obvious by the impatient wriggle of her hips. But she nods anyway.

“Consider this an unequivocal yes.”

Lexa smirks and shimmies Clarke’s underwear down until the lace is sitting low on her hips. 


“Are very welcome, also.”

With those parameters agreed, Lexa doesn’t hesitate to peel Clarke’s underwear the rest of the way off. She puts her hands on Clarke, palms gliding from ankle to knee and along her thighs, goosebumps rising in the wake of the touch. On the reverse journey, Lexa drags the tips of her fingers over Clarke’s skin, blunt nails scraping lightly down her thighs.

It’s too much.

She squirms. “Lexa.”

The smirk grows. “Something you want?”

A frustrated noise escapes.

Lexa strokes a path back up to Clarke’s hips.

She’s trembling with arousal and anticipation. So she decides to wrestle back some control since Lexa is being such a fucking tease.

Clarke spreads her legs.

In an instant, Lexa’s eyes grow wide and so, so round and she utters a choked, unintelligible sound that might be some scrambled version of Clarke’s name.

“Is there something you want?” Clarke volleys back.

Lexa’s eyelids shutter and she licks her lips, her dark stare zeroed in. Mesmerised. But within seconds she’s in motion, hands hooking behind Clarke’s knees and dragging her to the edge of the bed.

As Lexa’s mouth descends, Clarke’s hips rise up. She gasps at the first contact. Arches into the broad sweep of Lexa’s tongue moving through her, a deep guttural moan rising up her throat. She reaches out without thinking, threading her fingers into Lexa’s hair at the crown; an encouragement to keep going, please God, don’t stop. Her other hand scrambles to grip the rumpled sheets, clutching and releasing while Lexa licks firm circles around her clit.

Lexa applies the same singular concentration and diligence to eating a woman out as she does to her craft. Every lap and flick of that expert tongue drives Clarke higher and higher, speeds the unstoppable momentum of her hips.

But it isn’t until Lexa dips into her, edging inside, replacing the lost pressure on Clarke’s clit with a thumb, that Clarke feels the tingling onset of orgasm. White hot heat and pressure that builds, static noise ringing in her ears as Lexa draws shapes and pushes in deep enough for Clarke to clench around the warm, wet muscle.

Their eyes meet along the length of Clarke’s body and it’s electric.

And then suddenly she’s there.

That perfect moment where the waves rush over her and her body goes taut, spine arching off the mattress. 

And Lexa, Lexa is relentless. She just keeps on rubbing with her thumb. Groans, low and appreciative as Clarke begins to quake, both fists tugging carelessly at Lexa’s hair as she rides it out, a litany of curses punctuated by heavy gasps filling the air.

Sweaty and spent, Clarke flops against the sheets. She stares up at the ceiling, unseeing, as she tries to catch her breath.

A moment later, Lexa swims into view.

If Clarke thought Lexa was insufferable before, she’s positively glowing with self-satisfaction now. Preening and proud. So full of herself. Even with Clarke smeared all over her lips and chin, hair a wild nest.

But, God, Lexa is sexy.

One bra strap sliding off her shoulder. Small breasts encased in black satin. The slope of her torso leading to a toned stomach. Booty shorts that show off legs for days.

The tattoo. 

Clarke wants to see the tendons flexing under the skin, bringing the body art to life as Lexa fucks into her.

First, though, she really needs Lexa to kiss her. 

She pulls Lexa down, eager to feel skin on skin. Seeks Lexa’s lips, a moan leaking out when she tastes herself. The initial urgency soon gives way to deep, languid kisses. Slow and surprisingly gentle, but no less arousing for it. And Clarke knows without a doubt that Lexa’s mouth could ruin her in a hundred different ways.

Her hands trail down Lexa’s back, feeling the subtle shift of muscles. 

The bra clasp releases with a quick twist of Clarke’s fingers and she tugs it off and away, cupping her hands around soft flesh and hard nipples. Living for the catch of Lexa’s breath, the faint whine as she arches into Clarke’s palms. Every sound that Lexa makes fuels Clarke’s desire. She wants to collect and catalogue as many of them as she can. 

The muffled, startled half-giggle she gets when she rolls them over might be her favourite so far.

Beneath her, Lexa is beaming and Clarke takes a moment just to look, to soak in the view. Taking in the tiny crinkles around bright green eyes, the crease above her top lip, the splash of colour in the round apples of her cheeks.

Lexa’s wide, unrestrained smile is a lovely, breathtaking sight.

“I hope this place is soundproofed,” Clarke says, to avoid blurting out something stupidly sentimental. “It’d be really embarrassing if your coworkers overheard you getting railed through the mattress.”

An eyebrow quirks, but Lexa’s grin doesn’t falter.

“Oh, is that what’s going to happen?”

Clarke’s hand skims down Lexa’s navel and into her shorts, finding her slick and ready.

“Mhm. So, fair warning, you might want to find something to bite down on.”

“I’m notoriously quiet.”

“We’ll see.”

Lexa isn’t quiet.

Not when Clarke’s mouth is on her breasts, sucking the nipples to stiff, puckered peaks.

Or when Clarke has two fingers pumping inside. 

Definitely not when she adds a third and starts to curl the tips in tandem with the swipe of her thumb over Lexa’s clit.

The noises spill forth freely into Clarke’s mouth as she drives Lexa towards the brink.

By the time she shakes apart, Lexa is a beautiful, shivering, gasping mess, and Clarke is enthralled by every second of it. But the part she likes most is how Lexa clings to her while she comes down from the high. 

Long limbs entangled with her own. 

Arms looped around her neck. 

Belly to sweat-slick belly and chest to chest. 

Not an inch between them as they share the same hot, muggy air.

The sun has already sunk low in the sky once they’ve exhausted each other, orange bleeding into pink and blue behind wispy clouds. It casts a warm glow over their still entwined bodies, nude except for the sheets draped over their lower halves.

At any point they could have renewed attentions, rekindled that fire, but their touches have slowed, the intent to soothe rather than arouse.

And besides, Clarke is starving.

The loud rumble of her stomach gives it away.

Lexa regards her with a small, almost fond smile. “Hungry?”

Feeling oddly shy, considering what they’ve been doing for the last several hours, Clarke hedges, “I could eat.”

Lexa rises, still gloriously naked, and stretches her arms above her head, working out the kinks in her muscles with a soft grunt.

Confronted by this vision of perfection, it takes all of Clarke’s iron will not to drag Lexa back into bed. Because the graceful definition of Lexa’s arms and back, the flare of hips, the tight, high curve of her ass, those legs that go on forever is just plain rude. 

Lexa really struck the jackpot on the genetic lottery, and Clarke is torn between wishing she had a figure like that and wanting to fuck this woman every which way.

Oblivious to Clarke’s predicament, Lexa saunters out the room and returns with her phone. Looks up, and when she notices Clarke’s half-lidded, slack-jawed expression, her smile grows impish.

“What are you in the mood for?”

Another twenty-four hours of this, you, please.

What Clarke says is: “I would kill for an In’N’Out Burger. But,” a forlorn sigh, “some kind of salad, I guess. You choose.”

Lexa fingers dance over the screen as she presumably places an order on DoorDash or a similar app. 

“Tell me you’re not on one of those crazy fad diets promoted by GOOP.”

Clarke makes a face at the suggestion. “Oh, God, no. I love food.” She purses her lips and rolls her eyes. “But the first thing Thelonious Jaha said to me during the kickoff meeting was that I had to drop ten pounds in eight weeks.”

“Seriously?” Lexa’s disdain is clear as she wanders over to the closet and starts to rifle through it. 

Given the chance to examine her surroundings while Lexa’s attention is elsewhere, Clarke notes the unopened cardboard boxes stacked in the corner, the absence of any personal items on the nightstand, how bare the walls are.

It seems as though Lexa is only one step above living out of a suitcase, and again Clarke burns with curiosity.

But she files her questions away for now.

“They really wanted that gaunt, strung-out look. And I wanted the role, so.” She shrugs. “Hollywood.”

There’s a lull.

She peers down at the sheets, at the place where the small, soft podge of her stomach used to be; the little muffin top that she personally never had any issue with until Jaha’s assistant gave her the contact details of a trainer-dietician (everyone is hyphenated in LA).

Which is when the self-doubt crept in.

“Also, I wanted to look good for the steamy intimate scenes, you know?”

Lexa turns around, a maroon t-shirt in hand.

“Steamy, huh? Should I be jealous?”

She hoists an enquiring eyebrow and the sight of that, as much as the implications of Lexa’s words makes Clarke blush.

“Uh, trust me, the reality isn’t sexy at all when there’s a dozen guys on the crew staring at you and you’re trying to strategically place your scene partner’s limbs to hide your lumpy bits.”

She watches, biting her lip, as Lexa pulls the oversized shirt over her head. The gold block lettering on the front has faded but ‘Polis High School Athletics Dept’ remains just about legible.

“Besides, what would you have to be jealous of?” Clarke says lightly. She runs her eyes over Lexa’s face, gauging her expression from across the room. “It’s not like we’re dating.”

Lexa tilts her chin up. Makes a noise to the contrary. 

“I did ask you out.”

“So that wasn’t just a tactic to get me into bed?”

“I mean… making you come so many times was a definite bonus, but sex isn’t all I want, Clarke.” 

The cockiness recedes for a moment, Lexa becoming solemn and serious. (As much as anyone can be when they’re pantsless, wearing a shirt with a raccoon mascot on the front, and sporting a severe case of bed hair.)

“I’d like to get to know you.”

It gives Clarke butterflies, causes a warm flutter in her chest. Flattered and gratified to hear that Lexa is interested in more than just her body or a one-off tryst.

Because the feeling is mutual.

Everything about Lexa turns Clarke on. And maybe it’s her libido talking, maybe not, but there’s something here. 

A connection. 

A possibility. 

She turns onto her side, head propped on her hand, and meets Lexa’s eyes squarely.

“So ask me something.”