Chapter 1: First impression is key
Friday evening, 7pm
Clarke Griffin was not having a good evening by any means. The TV in her hotel room only got reception on three channels, her hair was refusing to curl the way she wanted despite her best efforts and she absolutely, definitely would have rather been anywhere else than here.
She could have been at home, curled up on the sofa in her cosy little one-bed flat catching up on the new series of Supergirl. She could have closed the curtains, prepared a bowl of popcorn entirely too big for one person and ignored that a world existed outside those four walls. That was her go-to routine just lately.
Instead she found herself sitting alone in a swanky five star hotel room somewhere in rural England. Sitting alone in a cocktail dress and heels far too high to walk in. Sitting alone and turning the engagement party invitation over in her hands as the party itself began downstairs. Here she was all because one of her best friends had done something as preposterous as fall in love.
She rolled her eyes at herself for being so dramatic. Of course she didn’t actually harbour any feelings of resentment towards Octavia for falling head over heels with Lincoln. She’s only met the guy a handful of times due to their very much whirlwind romance but he seems like a total sweetheart. Plus he's got Bellamys seal of approval. That's rarer than gold dust.
No, she wasn’t heartless or jealous or even bitter. She was just...dubious about the whole notion of love. For Clarke, true love like the kind you see in sappy movies and read about in Nicholas Sparks novels, just didn’t exist. She watched other people in her life make these amazing, romantic connections but it just hadn’t ever happened for her. Not through lack of trying though.
What really caused the churning sensation in the pit of her stomach was that Octavia had been threatening to set her up with one of Lincoln’s friends for weeks now. Tonight was the night they met.
Clarke couldn’t remember her name. Naomi? Nina? Something like that. Apparently she worked for an advertising firm, loved yoga and was newly single. Clarke couldn’t have cared less. The woman could have been brought up in the wilderness and have no ideas or expectations of normal social interactions yet Clarke still would still have found a way to put her foot in her mouth. It was a unique skill.
She crossed the room to the mini-bar and pulled out a small bottle of chardonnay, twisting the top off as she sat down in front of the vanity. She took a long sip and then looked hard at her reflection in the mirror.
‘Come on,’ she said aloud in an effort to psych herself up. ‘Just pull it together for one evening for Octavia’s sake. You are a strong, attractive, intelligent woman and you are not afraid to go and make small talk with a pretty stranger at a party.’
Except she really was afraid. Afraid or just plain unwilling. With a sigh she set down the bottle of wine and held her head in her hands, admitting defeat. She would not be leaving this room.
‘No! No, you are going,’ said the voice in her head which had for one reason or another adopted the tone of Raven Reyes. ‘Put on your big-girl panties, march out that door and just see what happens. You can do it.’
Yes I can, she thought, smiling to herself. She took another sip of wine for courage, tucked her bag under her arm and headed straight for the door.
She got as far as the elevator before she ran back to her room and slammed the door shut, leaning bodily against it. She absolutely could not do this.
Half an hour later she was still in the hotel room, lying on the bed in her sweatpants and sipping from her second miniature bottle of wine. Mercifully she’d managed to find one of her favourite movies on the hotel’s on-demand service. She’s mouthing along to Fat Amy’s ‘lesbi-honest’ speech when there’s a knock at the door.
Clarke opens it to see a gangly young man with unkempt hair and a goofy grin staring back at her. She notes that his name-tag states ‘Jasper’ in gold lettering.
“Hi, Room service?” Jasper says, grin still in place.
“Yeah, come on through,” Clarke smiles, holding the door open so he can wheel the cart into the room.
She sits back on the end of the bed as Jasper removes the plate covers and makes sure everything she ordered is there. If she’s staying in a posh hotel, she may as well take advantage of their posh food.
“So Jasper,” Clarke says, flicking pause on the TV, “can I call you Jas?”
Jasper nods. “Sure.”
“How’s the party downstairs? Is it going well?” she asks, trying her best to sound causal.
Jasper nods again. “Yeah it seems to be,” he pauses and gives her a questioning look, “you know they have food down there right? There’s like a buffet and everything?”
Clarke’s own smile falters for a second. “Yeah, yeah, I know, I know...I erm, I’m just not really in the party sort of mood this evening.”
She’s saved momentarily from any further awkwardness when her phone rings. She answers it absentmindedly without looking at the caller I.D. “You wouldn’t happen to have any ketchup Jas, would you?”
She smiles when he produces a couple of sachets from beneath the cart.
“Jas? Who’s Jas?” comes Raven’s bemused voice from the other end of the phone.
Clarke curses under her breath. Why didn’t she look at the call I.D?
“A very nice young man who just brought me dinner,” Clarke answers cheerfully.
Jasper quirks an eyebrow at her. What? It’s not a lie. Technically he did bring her dinner.
“You’re not at the party?!” Raven yells.
Clarke holds the phone away from her ear and frowns. She’s about to get an almighty torrent of abuse from her oldest and dearest friend. It’s probably not going to be pretty. Staying vague might be her best option here.
“I not at thee party but I’m at a party. Fat Amy and Becca are here, not to mention Jas. But he’s just leaving.”
She signs the room service bill that Jasper holds out to her before he makes to leave the room.
“You’re in your hotel room watching movies aren’t you?” Raven sighs. “I knew it. Put Jas on the phone please.”
“Jas. My best friend would like to speak to you,” Clarke calls, extending the phone to him.
She hits the speakerphone button before she hands it over so she can still hear their conversation. Jasper looks completely perplexed as he brings the phone to his ear.
“Jas, my name’s Raven and I need you to listen to me. Somewhere in the room there will be a beautiful party dress just begging to be worn. I want you to take it off the hook and give it to Clarke. And tell her to put some make-up on”
Clarke groans in protest as Jasper picks up the dress and lays it on the bed in front of her.
“She wants you to put some make-up on,” he says weakly.
Clarke takes the phone back from him and he scarpers from the room before either she or Raven can make another unusual request.
“Raven I can’t do this,” Clarke huffs in frustration. “I’ve been sabotaged. Octavia’s trying to set me up with one of Lincoln’s friends.”
“Wait, what? This is great. Is it a guy or a girl?” Raven asks excitedly. “Not that it matters. Getting laid is still getting laid, right Griffin?”
Clarke holds the phone away from her ear again as Raven cackles to herself. Still, she can’t help but smile at her friend’s brashness.
“It’s a girl. Well, woman actually,” Clarke says, looking forlornly at her party dress. “It’s just...ugh I don’t know. It’s all so organised. I feel like I’ve been left on the shelf and I’m one of those sad old spinsters who has to rely on their friends to set them up with other sad old spinsters.”
“Clark Griffin, you’re being a total idiot,” Raven says flatly.
“Wow, don’t mince your words, Rae.”
“I won’t. Now listen to me. You’re not a sad old spinster. You’re 26-years-old, you’re gorgeous and you’ve got an ass that many women would kill for. Me included.”
Clarke laughs and rolls her eyes. She loves Raven, has done since they met at primary school when they were five and Raven hogged the good crayons. Clarke’s parents have pretty much been Raven’s parents over the years seeing as her own mother was an alcoholic waste of space. If there’s one thing Clarke’s learned about the Latina over the course of their friendship, it’s that she gives excellent advice. That and she's got a killer right hook.
“Honestly Clarke, you’re great and I’m not just saying that because I’m obligated to as your best friend. You’re one of the kindest, most compassionate people I know and you will find someone who deserves to be with you,” Raven continues, her tone softening. “Might be this woman at the party downstairs, might not be. But you’ve gotta put yourself out there, ok?”
Clarke smiles. There’s tears in her eyes and a soaring feeling in her chest that could be confidence. She wished she believed in herself as much as Raven did.
“Are you crying? You’d better not be going all mushy on me blondie,” Raven warns, though there’s no edge to her voice.
Clarke sniffs and chuckles lightly. “Don’t be a dick, of course I’m not.”
There’s a beat of silence before Clarke speaks again.
“You’re right, Rae. I’ll go to the party. I just wish you were here to be my wingman, you know?”
“I know,” Raven sighs. “I would be there if there was any other way but they need me here. I’ll see you at your Mom and Dad’s anniversary party tomorrow though, right? How’s your speech coming along?”
Clarke suppresses a groan. There’s another thing she's got to worry about. Tomorrow her parents will have been married for 30 years and they’ve asked her if she’ll give a speech in front of their family and friends. Like the good daughter she is, she’d agreed. What a chump.
“Just great,” Clarke says with too much false enthusiasm.
“Cool,” Raven adds. Clarke can tell she doesn’t believe her but Raven doesn’t push. “Listen I’m bringing that girl with me tomorrow. Anya. You know the one I’ve been seeing for a couple of weeks?”
“That’s great Rae, I can’t wait to meet her,” Clarke says truthfully. “Look I’d better go and get ready. If I don’t turn up soon O’s probably gonna murder me.”
“True, she’s a firecracker, that one. Say hi from me.”
“Knock em dead, Griffin! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” Raven chuckles before she hangs up.
Clarke takes a deep breath and moves to sit at the vanity again so she can reapply her make-up. Out of the corner of her eye she spots her leather-bound notebook peeking out of her suitcase. She reaches out for it and flips a few pages until she finds one titled ‘mantras.’ It was something her mother had told her to do: write down a list of things she needed or wanted and say them aloud.
- Put yourself out there.
- Paint when you feel inspired.
- Do whatever makes you happy.
The list goes on and on all the way down to 10. There’s even something ridiculous in there about getting stronger thighs. At the bottom she notices someone, likely Raven, has written in '11. Follow your heart.’ Clarke rolls her eyes. That’s probably the gayest thing she’s ever heard.
Clarke stands hovering in the doorway, eyes widening at the scene before her. To say there’s a lot more people here than she expected is an understatement. Octavia and Lincoln have hired out the hotel’s main ballroom and it’s pretty much wall-to-wall with guests. Clarke had no idea they both knew so many people. Though to be fair this is just the engagement party, the actual wedding in a couple of month’s time should be a quieter affair.
Over by the bar she spots Bellamy perched on one of the stools and makes a beeline for him. He sees her coming and his face cracks into the familiar grin that he and Octavia both share.
“Clarke!” Bellamy shouts, leaping up from his seat and throwing his arms around her. “It’s great to see you! I’m so glad you made it.”
Clarke returns the hug and smiles into his shoulder when he lowers her down again. “It’s great to see you too, Bell. How long’s it been now? Eight months? Nine?”
She’s missed Bellamy. Along with Raven and Octavia, he’s one of her oldest friends. They grew up together and he’s pretty much the big brother she’s never had. As kids he was always looking out for the three of them like a mother hen. They used to find it hilarious to wind him up. For the better part of a year he’s been travelling and teaching English overseas. Octavia went with him originally but came back five months ago when she met Lincoln.
“Nearly ten by my count,” he says, brushing his hair back off his face. “It’s good to be back, I’ve missed everyone so much. Let me get you a drink and we can catch up.”
“I’d love to but can it wait till later?” Clarke asks, feeling a pang of guilt when his grin falters. “I should really go and say hi to O seeing as I turned up late to her party. Have you seen her anywhere?”
Bellamy scans the crowd and his face lights up again. “She’s over there,” he says, pointing to the left. “You owe me a drink later, ok?”
Clarke smiles and promises him that yes, they’ll talk later and makes her way across the ballroom. She spots Octavia in a navy blue dress, Lincoln’s arm wrapped protectively around her waist. They’re leaning into each other as they talk and Octavia looks happier than Clarke’s ever seen her. She walks up silently behind them and grins to herself.
“Excuse me have you seen my friend? She’s five foot nothing and wearing an awesome dress,” Clarke announces, setting her hand on Octavia’s shoulder.
“Clarke!” Octavia shouts, almost deafening her. “Holy shit I can’t believe you showed up. God it’s so good to see you.”
She almost has the wind knocked out of her when Octavia pulls her into a crushing hug. She’s grateful when Lincoln opts for a far more civilised hand shake.
“Good to see you too, O,” Clarke wheezes once she’s detached herself from the younger Blake. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world. Sorry I’m late though, I-”
“That doesn’t matter Clarke,” Lincoln smiles warmly. “What matters is that you’re here to celebrate with us.”
“Exactly,” Octavia grins as she passes her a glass of champagne. “You look great by the way. Now that you're here, you have to let us introduce you to Niylah.”
Clarke feels the smile slip from her face as she looks down into her glass. “Listen guys,” she begins as tactfully as she can, “it’s not that I’m ungrateful...”
“Come on Clarke, give her a chance,” Lincoln cuts in. “I promise you’ll like her, she’s great.”
Fuck it, she thinks. She’s already here now.
“Sure, bring it on,” Clarke says casually. “I’m just a sad single loser in my mid-twenties, meeting another sad single loser in their mid twenties.”
“I’m a sad single loser in my late twenties, actually,” comes a voice from behind her.
Clarke freezes like a rabbit caught in headlights as every single curse word in the English language running through her mind. Slowly, she turns until she comes face to face with the owner of the voice who she assumes to be Niylah.
“You must be Clarke?”
Lincoln and Octavia laugh together before they take their leave to talk to their other guests. Clarke doesn’t miss Octavia’s not-so-subtle thumbs up as she passes. She’s probably going to murder both of them for making her feel like the biggest idiot in the room.
Clarke subtly gives Niylah the once-over. She's pretty, that's for sure. She’s a couple of inches taller with defined cheekbones and blonde hair styled into a skilful up-do.
“And you must be Niylah,” Clarke says, extending her hand. She notices it’s a little wet from the condensation on the champagne glass.
“I am,” Niylah confirms.
“That’s not sweat,” Clarke blurts out.
Niylah furrows her brow. “Excuse me?”
“My hand, I mean,” Clarke holds up her palm dumbly. “It’s not sweat. It’s from holding my drink for too long. I don’t have a perspiration problem or anything.”
Niylah chuckles once, awkwardly. “I mean...I didn’t think it was sweat.”
Jesus Christ this is like watching a car crash in slow motion. Clarke hopes that no one else can hear their conversation because she’s not sure she could continue living with that knowledge. Come on Griffin, change the subject. Be normal!
“So uh, Octavia tells me you work in advertising?”
“Cool. Working on anything I might have heard of?”
“Actually I’m working on a new campaign for a premier league football team. Do you follow any clubs?”
“Nah, I’m not really a fan.”
“Of any sports really.”
An awkward silence falls between them and Clarke wonders if it would be unforgivably rude to excuse herself to the bathroom and never come back. She can tell Octavia that suddenly came down with a case of food poisoning or something.
No, that’s ridiculous. She’ll have to stick to what she knows. She downs the rest of her champagne and lifts her empty glass to Niylah.
Niylah looks a little taken aback but nods politely anyway.
Alcohol – the solution to all life’s problems.
Saturday morning, 10am
Alcohol – the cause of all life’s problems.
Clarke pushes her sunglasses further up her nose and squints at the digital display above her. As if it wasn’t enough that she was sporting the mother of all hangovers, now her train to Kings Cross is running late. She clutches her Styrofoam cup of coffee like it’s a lifeline and tries not to think of all the bad decisions she made last night.
The set-up with Niylah had been a total bust. They had absolutely nothing in common and the conversation between them was more painful than watching an elderly relative try to navigate facebook. So party-animal Clarke Griffin opted to do what she does best: get wasted. She has a vague recollection of dancing the Macarena with Bellamy but not much else.
Her train pulls in 10 minutes late and she hauls her bag onto the overhead luggage rack before sinking heavily into one of the seats. At least she can get a little more sleep before she has to go to the anniversary party later. London is an hour away and it’s the final stop. Just as she’s about to close her eyes, her phone rings, Raven’s face appearing on the screen.
She groaned dramatically, earning a curious look from the woman sat opposite before she answered the call.
“What do you want?” Clarke grumbled into the speaker.
“What do you want, Raven, I’ve got a hangover the size of China. I feel like I’ve been chewed up and spat out and I’m not in the mood for your sarcasm this morning. I can and must have aspirin.”
There’s a silence on the other end of the phone in which Clarke imagines Raven is probably flipping her off.
“I feel like I should tell you, Griffin, that this is no way to talk to your best friend and gay confidante. Be nice or I’m snitching on your ass to Mama G. Now tell me how last night went.”
Clarke groaned again, leaning back in her seat and pinching the bridge of her nose.
“That bad, huh?”
“It was terrible Raven, like it always is. You know what? I think I’m gonna let my vagina seal over and be done with it. No more sex for me. Sex is off the menu for good.”
She glanced up as the woman sitting opposite choked on the water she’d been drinking and looked scandalised to have been subjected to their conversation.
“I don’t think that’s the answer,” Raven protested. “You’ve just got to keep trying. Get back on the proverbial horse. You don’t want to be one of those crazy old ladies who keeps pictures of her 12 cats in her wallet.”
“Cats are cute,” Clarke defended.
“True, but so not the kind of pussy you should be going after.”
Clarke bit back a laugh. “You’re disgusting, you know that? How have you managed to convince a girl to date you?"
"Through sheer luck and determination."
"Look I’m on the train so I’m gonna have to go.”
“No worries, Griff. We’ll talk it out later. How long are you gonna be?”
“Until I get to Clapham? About two hours.”
“Cool, see you then. And don’t forget to work on your speech. Make sure you write something nice my little scribe!” Raven trills as patronisingly as possible.
“Yeah, yeah, fuck off,” Clarke mutters as she ends the call.
She shoves her phone into her coat pocket and pulls her black notebook out of her bag along with a pen. The page marked ‘Mum and Dad’s speech’ is decidedly blank. She brings the pen to her mouth and chews thoughtfully on the end. What can she say about her parents other than they have a great marriage and love each other very much? How can she stretch that into around 300 words?
The sound of someone clearing their throat pulls her from her thoughts. When she looks up the woman sat opposite her is staring back intently. Clarke silently takes in her appearance. Thick brown hair pulled into a neat bun and a pink shirt/sweater combo that wouldn’t look out of place on a Sunday School teacher. She’s cute but there’s something about her which instantly irritates Clarke.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing,” the woman simpers. “I think that maybe you should read this.”
The brunette pushes the book she had been reading across the table that separates them. Clarke glances down at the cover and frowns. ‘Six Billion People and You: Your Guide to Meeting a Mate in the Modern World.’ Great. It’s not enough that her friends are giving her dating advice but now the universe has apparently decided it’s fine for total strangers to get involved.
“That’s nice of you but it’s really not my thing,” Clarke says as evenly as possible. “Thanks though.”
She pushes the book back across the table and looks out of the carriage window to signal the end of their conversation.
“It’s an international bestseller. The reviews say that this book could change your life,” the woman continues, brandishing the book at her.
Clarke clenches her jaw because this woman is completely oblivious.
“Did it though?”
“Change your life?”
“Well I don’t know yet. But you’ve got to try haven’t you?” the brunette says with a wide smile. “Else you might just end up alone.”
Clarke flashes her teeth in what could pass for a smile. “Alone it is then.”
“See you do need to read it. I’d lend you my copy but I need it for my date,” the woman says smugly.
Clarke can’t hide her frown. “You’re taking a book on a date? Wild.”
“It’s how we’re going to recognise each other. It’s a blind date. We’ll both be holding this book and standing underneath the big clock at Kings Cross.”
“Sounds romantic,” Clarke deadpans, voice dripping with sarcasm.
“It is,” the woman counters, pressing her lips into a thin line. “You know what? I think you need this more than I do. Have my copy. I’ll pick another one up at the station.”
She slides the book across the table once again and offers Clarke a sweet smile.
“Why is everyone always telling me what to do?” Clarke mutters with a roll of her eyes.
Surprisingly this woman, whoever she might be, still doesn’t catch her cue to shut up. “Perhaps if everyone’s always telling you what to do, you should listen?”
That’s it. Clarke Griffin has reached her breaking point.
“Look, not to be rude, but I’m gonna need you to stop talking.”
“You want me to-“
“Shh? Yes please.”
“But I ju-”
“Ah ah ah, shh.”
She fixes the woman with a final glare and turns her body to lean against the window. Before she falls asleep she replays snippets of the failed dates she’s had over the past three years and wonders where she’s going wrong. If there truly is someone out there for everyone, she wonders when or if she’ll find hers.
The screeching of the trains breaks some time later jerks her awake. She opens her eyes and blinks blearily. Kings Cross. Time to depart this rickety hangover prison on wheels at last.
Mercifully her irritating travel companion has already left the carriage. She’s only gone and left that book behind though. Clarke glares down at it with renewed contempt and sees that he woman has left a bookmark within it. Curious, she flips it open to the marked chapter. ‘Your negative thoughts are ruining your life (and everyone else’s)’
Her vision narrows to a pinpoint and her cheeks grow hot. She can’t remember the last time she was this furious. Livid, she scoops up the book and grabs her bag, tearing out of the carriage as fast as her legs will carry her. When she catches up with this ridiculous woman she’s going to make her eat this book. That or shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. Either option is appealing.
She spots her about 30 feet ahead, cutesy pink sweater standing out against the black and grey business suits of the station. She’s gaining on her when the ticket barrier rejects her card she’s forced to stop for a moment. The inspector takes his time looking at her ticket whilst she taps her foot impatiently. When she pushes through the barriers and into the main part of the station, the woman is nowhere to be seen. It will be almost impossible to find her in this crowd.
“Where the fuck are you?” Clarke mutters to herself, looking around erratically.
“Oh God I’m not that late am I?”
Clarke turns around swiftly and almost collides with the most beautiful woman she’s ever laid eyes on. Her wavy brunette tresses are thrown over one shoulder, giving Clarke the most impeccable view of a jaw line that she’s certain could cut glass. Her eyes flit up to stare into deep orbs in the most intense shade of evergreen. Clarke knows she’s staring and feels her mouth go dry. Goddamn this woman is gorgeous. Why is her brain failing her? Why can’t she remember how to speak?
The woman smiles and Clarke’s gaze is immediately drawn to her full lips. “Sorry my train got delayed. Public transport, am I right? Good idea to recognise each other though,” the stranger says, gesturing to the book Clarke is still holding.
Clarke looks down at the book, then back to the woman. The woman is also holding a copy of the book. She casts her eyes to the ceiling. Right there above her is the station clock. Somewhere in her brain she puts two and two together. She’s only gone and gotten herself mistaken for the annoying train woman. How typical. She should set the record straight immediately. This is definitely going to be embarrassing. Raven will mock her forever when she hears about this.
“Though I think it would have been hard to miss you under that huge clock.”
“No, no, no, I uh-”
“Sorry I just realised I haven’t properly introduced myself. I’m Lexa, you know that of course. And I promise I’m never usually late.”
“Honestly it’s fine, I just-
“It’s Luna, right?”
Clarke falters. She knows she should own up and tell Lexa that she’s got the wrong woman. That this is just a case of mistaken identity. But she’s never felt something quite like this before. There’s some sort of instant pull between them that leaves a funny feeling in Clarke’s stomach. It's something she can't put her finger on. Lexa’s looking at her so hopefully under the bright lights of the station that Clarke does something incredibly stupid.
“That’s me,” she smiles, holding her hand out for Lexa to shake. “It’s nice to meet you, Lexa.”
Stealing a date. She’s stealing a date. She’s going to hell for sure. When Lexa smiles again, her nose wrinkling slightly, Clarke finds she doesn’t care.
“So then,” Lexa begins, looking around for the exit and then back to Clarke, “where to first?”
Chapter 2: Take more chances
Some background on who Lexa is, what she does and how she ends up on the date.
First off I'd like to say thanks very much for the positive response to the first chapter.
This is only my second Clexa fic and I really appreciate all your feedback and comments :)
Hopefully you'll enjoy reading this chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lexa stares blankly at her computer screen and silently wills the machine to suffer a sudden and irreparable breakdown. She tries to make sense of the latest in a string of client emails she’s received (the tenth one this morning) but finds she can’t concentrate at all. At this point the email may as well be in French. And no, she doesn’t parle français.
It’s been a hell of a morning and her eyelids are already drooping. Whoever said working as a hotshot lawyer in the City was going to be easy was a liar. Oh, right. No one has said that. Ever. Still the money’s good and there are certain perks of the job that she rather enjoys. Namely the view from her office window.
She rolls her chair back from her desk and moves to stand in front of the huge window which also serves as the back wall of her office. Trikru & Co Solicitors is based on the 21st floor which means she has an outstanding view of central London. Sometimes she likes to just look out at the city and let her mind wonder. There’s something oddly relaxing about watching the world rush past whilst she stands still. That could pretty much be a metaphor for her life.
Unfortunately there’s to be no relaxing today as the phone on her desk rings yet again. The damn thing’s been ringing off the hook all morning. With a sigh she dashes over to answer it in her best telephone voice.
“Trikru & Co, Lexa Woods speaking.”
“Uh, yes hello. Could I speak with Mr Wall please?”
Lexa frowns. The woman on the line has a very strong eastern European accent. She can barely understand them.
“Sorry there’s no Mr Wall here. This is Trikru & Co solicitors. Maybe you have the wrong number?”
“Ah...ok, ok. There is Mrs Wall maybe?”
“No we don’t have anyone of that name, sorry.”
Lexa’s trying to be polite but she’s quickly losing patience. There’s a massive pile of papers sitting in her ‘in’ tray which need to be completed before 5pm.
“Maybe I say it wrong...I am looking for Mr Henry Wall.”
“Look I’m sorry but there are no Walls here,” Lexa snaps.
“Then what’s holding up your ceiling?!” the woman shouts, now in a distinctly American accent.
The sound of wild cackling echoes from the speaker before the line disconnects.
Lexa frowns and looks up from her desk. Sure enough across the hallway in her own office sits her best friend and professional pain-in-the-ass, Anya.
Lexa can’t hear her through the thick glass doors but she can see that Anya’s laughing manically to herself and pointing directly at her. She scowls as she realises she’s been pranked yet again. That’s the third time in as many weeks.
She flips Anya off as the blonde walks towards her office wearing a smug grin the entire time.
“I’m pretty sure Indra’s not paying you to make prank phone calls,” she huffs when Anya enters.
“I’m pretty sure she’s not paying you to have a stick up your ass but there we go,” Anya retorts.
She never misses a beat which is one of the reasons Lexa both loves and loathes her. Who is she kidding? It’s all love. Strictly platonic of course. Anya’s known her for the whole seven years she’s worked here and is the closest thing to family she has. Well, the closest thing she has anymore.
“So,” Anya says, taking a seat in one of the leather office chairs, “how is our focused and driven Litigation Expert, Lexa Woods, on this fine Friday morning?”
Lexa takes a sip of her coffee and wrinkles her nose when she realises its stone cold. “Feeling entirely unfocused and driven to distraction,” she sighs heavily. “Trust me, the weekend cannot come soon enough.”
Anya picks up one of the personalised pens from the pot on her desk and twirls it between her fingers. “I thought you said you weren’t doing anything this weekend?”
“I’m not,” Lexa grins, stretching her arms above her head. “I have absolutely zero plans which is why it’s going to be perfect. The most exerting thing I’m going to do is raise a glass of merlot to my lips.”
“That sounds riveting,” Anya drawls in the most sarcastic way possible. “These are cute by the way,” she waves the pen playfully in front of Lexa’s face, “you give these to girls in bars when they ask for your number?”
Lexa snatches the pen off her and places it back in the pot with the rest. “Those are for clients,” she huffs, crossing her arms. “Anyway I don’t want my weekend to be ‘riveting.’ I want it to be relaxing.”
“Didn’t think you knew how to relax,” Anya shrugged. She grinned teasingly whilst Lexa’s expression remained impassive.
“Sorry was there a reason you came in here or did you just want to annoy me?”
“The second one.”
Lexa arches an eyebrow.
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I actually came in here to take you out to lunch. My treat,” Anya says, rising from the chair. “So come on, grab your coat.”
Lexa’s immediately suspicious. Anya never offers to buy her lunch. A round of drinks in a bar, sure, but never lunch. She must be up to something.
“What are you talking about? We can’t go for lunch its only-”she looks at her computer screen, “Oh...12:15. Guess we can.”
“Excellent. See how time flies when you’re having fun,” Anya trills as she heads for the door.
“I’m having so much fun I can’t believe it,” Lexa mutters under her breath.
Lexa takes a cursory glance at the menu out of politeness. She knows what she’s having. She always has the same thing whenever they come to The Ark. A chicken Caesar salad with a room-temp mineral water and a slice of lemon.
“Let me guess,” Anya teases, setting her own menu down on the table, “You’re having a salad and a water?”
“I like the salad here,” Lexa says plainly.
Anya flashes her a self-satisfied smirk and shakes her head. “You’re so predictable, Lex. In fact, I bet I could tell you exactly what you had for breakfast this morning, the colour of your underwear and how many times you’ve watched Pitch Perfect in the past month.”
A mixed berry protein shake, black and five.
“No you couldn’t,” Lexa counters, her lower lip jutted out in the slightest of pouts. “Anyway that doesn’t constitute being predicable. That’s called having a routine. Though I expect that isn’t something you’d know much about.”
Anya’s properly grinning at her now that she’s taken the bait and argued back. Why must she always let Anya draw her in? She’s too competitive, that’s her problem. Must be the lawyer in her.
“Well you know what they say about routine?” Anya pauses for a beat. “It’s fucking boring!”
Here we go again, Lexa thinks with a roll of her eyes. She chooses not to dignify her friend’s mocking tone with a response and instead looks around to see if there’s a waiter nearby to take their order. She spots their usual server, Monty, and catches his eye. He smiles brightly and waves before he makes a beeline for their table.
“Afternoon ladies, what can I get for you today?” Monty asks, taking out his order pad.
Lexa’s first to order. “Could I get a-”
“Actually let me guess,” Monty cuts her off with a knowing smile. “Chicken Caesar salad and a room temp mineral water with a slice of lemon?”
Well, fuck. Lexa’s flabbergasted. They don’t come in here that often, maybe once per month and already the staff have got her down to a tee. Perhaps Anya has a point about predictability after all. All she can do is nod and offer Monty a tight-lipped smile. He doesn’t even bother to jot down her order.
“Let’s see,” Anya muses, scratching her chin in faux-contemplation as she looks down at the menu, “Gosh there’s so many choices. Whatever will I pick?”
Lexa glares from beneath her eyebrows. She knows Anya’s doing this on purpose to mess with her. She dislikes indecisiveness almost as much as she dislikes spontaneity. She’s not one of those ‘let’s see what happens people’ who go through life with reckless abandon. She likes to have a plan and stick to it. It leaves less room for error. Not that she’s always been that way.
“Can I recommend the halibut with a lime and ginger reduction?” Monty chimes in. “It’s today’s special.”
“Sounds great,” Anya agrees. “And a glass of sauvignon blanc please.”
Lexa looks at her incredulously.
“Excellent choice,” Monty nods. “I’ll be right back with your drinks.”
“You’re having wine with lunch?” Lexa hisses as soon as he’s out of earshot.
The look Anya fixes her with is withering at best and pitying at worst. “It’s Friday afternoon, Lexa,” she deadpans. “It’s pretty much the law to have an alcoholic beverage with your lunch. Everyone knows that. Live a little.”
“I can’t ‘live a little’ as you put it,” Lexa retorts, air-quotes and all. “I have a ton of paperwork to finish when I get back to the office. We can’t all be so flippant with our responsibilities.”
Lexa knows immediately that she’s overstepped. That’s why she’s surprised when Anya’s expression changes to one of sympathy rather than anger.
“What happened to you, Lexa?” Anya asks softly.
It’s rhetorical, Lexa knows that. They both know what happened to her. She clenches her jaw and stares down at the table, suddenly very interested in the cutlery.
“Remember when we first started working together?” Anya continues. “We used to sneak out an hour early on Friday afternoon and get wasted at The Crown. Or how about that time we changed all the company portraits to photos of Nicholas Cage without anyone noticing? Or when we used to send anonymous articles on hair-loss remedies to Titus’s printer and he’d get really mad?”
Lexa chuckles quietly to herself. She does remember. Especially the last one. Indra’s assistant is a real buzz-kill.
“It’s like someone’s stolen the best part of you. You’ve been so different since the divor-” Anya stops herself short.
Lexa looks up at her with a sad smile. “It’s ok, Anya. You can say divorce. Costia isn’t going to suddenly appear like Beetlejuice if we say her name too many times. I’m over it.”
There used to be a part of Lexa that wished Costia would do just that. Turn up unexpectedly, apologise profusely and say it was all a mistake. Costia would tell her she regretted all the cheating and all the lies, all the times she said ‘I love you’ and didn’t mean a single syllable. Lexa would forgive her and they’d be happy again.
But that part of Lexa is gone. It’s been over a year. Over a year and she’s done mourning that relationship. That’s something at least. Instead of sadness now she just mostly feels angry that she tried to cling onto it for so long.
“Good. You know I never liked her,” Anya says bluntly.
Lexa laughs for real this time. Loud and long and for the first time in ages. The sound is alien to her and she’s missed it more than she realises.
Anya’s honesty is refreshing. Everyone else in her life has tiptoed around the divorce like they’re afraid she’ll suddenly shatter like glass. But Lexa Woods is not fragile, never has been. She’s a warrior of sorts. Her love for Costia may have made her weak but she’s not naive enough to believe that all love is weakness. It simply can’t be. She will pick herself up and start again. That’s what warriors do.
A comfortable silence falls between them when Monty brings their drinks over and promises to be back with their meals shortly. Lexa takes a sip of her water and realises that Anya is still staring at her, head tilted to one side.
“I do worry about you, you know” Anya confesses, fingers drumming against the stem of her wine glass. “I just want for you to be happy again.”
A beat passes.
“Me too. It’s time I got back to my old self,” Lexa says, chewing thoughtfully on her lower lip. It’s then that she has her first brilliant idea of the afternoon. “And I think I know just how to start.”
She pulls her bag towards her and then rummages around in it for a moment, smiling widely when her hand closes around her phone. She unlocks the screen and brings up her list of contacts.
“What are you doing?” Anya asks, furrowing her brow.
“Making an important business call.”
Anya opens her mouth to question her further but Lexa silences her with a raised palm. Anya scowls but lets it be, her curiosity piqued.
Lexa feels her hands shaking as she waits for the call to connect. Lying to her boss is something she’s never considered before but that’s exactly what she’s about to do.
“Hello Indra? Yes, it’s Lexa...no I’m afraid I won’t be returning to the office this afternoon...The Shearmans have requested an urgent meeting about their impending court date on...I agree, it should be our top priority. That’s why I’ve enlisted Anya’s expertise.”
Lexa shoots her best friend a wink which is returned with an enthusiastic thumbs up.
“I trust that won’t be a problem? Excellent. I’ll see you Monday. Bye.”
Anya stares at her in awed-silence.
“That was fucking awesome.”
“I know,” Lexa smirks.
Monty returns with their food moments later. Before he leaves Lexa requests a glass of wine, then changes her mind. They’d better make it a bottle. There’s a whole afternoon ahead of them and a lot of overdue fun to be had.
Lexa snorts into her glass as Anya tells her all about how she met her new girlfriend. Apparently having coffee accidentally spilled on you during rush hour and then being sassed by the perpetrator is a great meet-cute. Whoever this Raven is, Lexa can’t wait to meet her.
“So I gotta tell you something,” Anya says, slurring slightly.
They’re almost two bottles of wine into the afternoon by this point. Lexa figures what the heck, its 5 o’clock somewhere.
Lexa nods, wine sloshing precariously in the glass as she gestures for Anya to go on.
“I had an ulterior motive for buying you lunch today.”
“I knew it!” Lexa crowed, slamming her first on the table. “And you say I’m predictable. What is it?”
She’s feeling pretty smug that her earlier suspicions had been proved correct.
“Promise you won’t be mad?” Anya asks, holding out her pinkie.
Lexa pinkie promises. “I won’t be mad.”
Anya smiles sheepishly and clasps her hands together. “Well you know how you’ve been saying for a while now that you want to get back out there?”
“...Yes,” Lexa says suspiciously.
“Well...the thing is...Isetyouupwithsomeone,” Anya blurts so quickly that Lexa can’t be sure she heard correctly. “It’s a blind date. Tomorrow.”
A good five seconds of stunned silence follows.
“Anya...what the fuck?”
“You promised you wouldn’t get mad. You pinkie promised!”
“That was before I knew you were pimping me out to strangers!”
“She’s not a stranger!” Anya protests. “Look just hear me out ok? Hear me out and then you can go into full-on Commander mode afterwards if you want. Deal?”
Lexa narrows her eyes. “You have 30 seconds.”
“Right well first of all her name’s Luna. I’ve known her since I came to university here but she's been travelling the States for a while. She’s a triathlete so she works out a lot. She loves old black and white movies and has a weird obsession with the works of Neil Gaiman,” Anya reels off.
Despite herself, Lexa’s interested. She works out a lot in her spare time. She loves old black and white movies. She has a weird obsession with the works of Neil Gaiman. Nevertheless she keeps her expression impassive.
“I told her a little bit about you and she said she’d be down for meeting up. I said you were free tomorrow seeing as I know you don’t have any plans this weekend. I can give you her number. All you have to do is text her and agree a time and place,” Anya finally pauses for breath. “So what do you say?”
Maybe it’s the wine making her confident. Maybe it’s the fact that she hasn’t had a single date since she split up with Costia. Maybe it’s because she realises that she needs to give herself a shot at happiness.
“Sure,” Lexa shrugs. “Why not.”
“Wait, what?” Anya questions, her eyes wide in disbelief. “Seriously?”
“Yeah. Give me her number.” Lexa slides her phone across the table.
Anya types it in and hands it back to her. She still looks awe-struck that she’s gotten Lexa to agree to this.
“You’ll love her, Lex. Honestly, she’s a great girl and I think you’ll have a lot in common.”
Lexa mulls it over as she sips her wine. “So is she your age then?” she asks, subtly probing for more information.
Anya looks downright offended. “My age? Excuse me, I am only two years older than you,” she protests haughtily. "Anyway they say life begins at 30."
“I’m pretty sure the phrase is life begins at 40,” Lexa says with an arch of her eyebrow. “But at least that gives you a while to sort yourself out. Who knows, by then science may have come up with a way to eradicate those wrinkles around your eyes.”
She has to dodge sharply to the left after than when Anya hurls a breadstick her way.
Morning rolls around quicker than Lexa would have liked and she’s feeling decidedly less confident than last night. Still, she’s here. She’s made it to their agreed meeting point in spite of her train being delayed near Russell Square.
Last night she’d worked up the courage to message Luna and they’d texted briefly. Luna had suggested they should meet up under the station clock and have a distinguishing item with them.
To Lexa’s astonishment she had suggested a book. Not just any book, but the only book anyone was talking about lately: ‘Six Billion People and You: Your Guide to Meeting a Mate in the Modern World.’ It’s essentially a book on ‘how not to be alone’ for dummies. Lexa only has a copy because her mother gifted it to her. A not-so-subtle hint to move on from the divorce.
They’ve also agreed to write a list of their favourite things; foods, music, films etc which they can exchange later. Lexa thinks that’s a little weird but she goes along with it. She’s got nothing to lose.
She’s navigating her way through the crowd when she spots her standing beneath the clock. For a moment she literally stops in her tracks because dear lord this woman is absolutely stunning. Lexa can plainly see that from where she’s standing nearly 100 feet away. Somehow she finds it within herself to move and walks over to where Luna’s standing, her legs feeling like jelly the entire time. When she reaches the clock, Luna’s got her back to her.
“Where the fuck are you?”
“Oh God, I’m not that late am I?” Lexa says, trying to keep the panic out of her voice.
Luna turns around and Lexa genuinely forgets how to breathe for a solid five seconds. She owes Anya many many favours for setting this date up because stunning doesn’t do this woman justice. She’s beautiful. Like ‘how are you even real’ levels of beautiful.
Everything about her is enchanting from the deep sapphire of her eyes to the golden glow of her blonde hair that falls in loose waves around her face. The next thing Lexa notices is the tiny beauty mark above her top lip. It’s impossibly cute. She then realises she must look like an absolute creep staring at this woman’s lips and wills her brain to engage.
“Sorry my train got delayed. Public transport, am I right? Good idea to recognise each other though,” Lexa says, hands gripping her book tightly. “Sorry I just realised I haven’t properly introduced myself. I’m Lexa, you know that of course. And I promise I’m never usually late. It’s Luna, right?”
She notices that Luna looks nervous and feels an instant wave of relief wash over her. At least she’s not the only one who’s anxious about this date. She also notes that Luna looks quite a bit younger than Anya. She looks a little younger than Lexa herself but that’s irrelevant because she’s...you know...breathtaking.
“That’s me,” Luna smiles as she holds out her hand. Her voice has a distinct raspy quality to it that Lexa decides she likes in an instant. “It’s nice to meet you Lexa.”
Lexa shakes her hand a smiles back lazily, feeling herself transfixed by those sparkling blue eyes. She becomes aware that the handshake has gone on a lot longer than necessary and jerks her hand back awkwardly. Before they met she had a plan. Before they met she had a well-formed idea of how they could spend their date. Before they met she was somewhat sure of herself.
Now all the brilliant ideas she’d cooked up have deserted her and she finds she’s drawing a blank. So Lexa does something completely out of character; she puts the ball in someone else’s court.
“So then,” Lexa says, looking at their surroundings and then back to Luna. “Where to first?”
Luna smiles up at her beneath long lashes and Lexa tries to ignore the way her heart thumps rapidly in her chest.
“I know a place,” Luna says, inclining her head to the exit. “Let’s go.”
Lexa is more than happy to follow her, their shoulders brushing together as they fall into step.
Thanks for reading - please let me know if you like the story so far.
Next time - Clexa Clexa Clexa & Clarke's lie becomes more complicated.
Come yell at me on tumblr at toolateintheday
Chapter 3: Out of the frying pan...
The date progresses and Clarke gets deeper into her lie.
Thanks all for your feedback so far - I have loved reading your comments.
Hopefully you'll like where the story goes.
Just an FYI, I have changed the rating to M for language (just to be safe)
Chapter is longer than I intended but hey ho. Enjoy! :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Clarke is trying to concentrate on what Lexa’s saying as they walk side by side along the riverfront. Trying being the operative word. She is trying, but the voice of reason that resides in her temporal lobe is screaming that this is a terrible idea.
She has no clue what she’s doing.
Once they’d left the station she’d suggested to Lexa that they grab a coffee from a great little cafe called Grounders. ‘The best coffee in all of London’ Clarke promises. It had better be. Lord knows she needs something to fall back on if she’s exposed for the liar she is.
Perhaps she could just fling herself into the Thames and be done with it? It can’t be any worse than Lexa’s reaction when this all inevitably goes tits up and the brunette finds out she’s a date usurper. Or is it date opportunist? Either way, it’s bad.
She had intended to set the record straight at the station but when Lexa had looked at her with those brilliant green eyes, Clarke resolutely discarded her morals. How does the old proverb go? The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Something about Lexa intrigues her. It’s as if Lexa has some gravitational pull that she’s powerless to resist. Maybe she can use that excuse in her apology later. ‘You were so attractive I pretended to be your date.’ She wonders if it will sound as bad out loud as it does in her head.
“Are you alright, Luna?” Lexa asks, placing a hand gently on her elbow. “Because you look a little freaked out.”
Oh that’s right. She’s Luna, not Clarke. She must remember that.
She looks down at the hand delicately resting on her arm and forces a smile onto her face when she meets Lexa’s concerned gaze.
“Do I?” Clarke breathes out. “No I’m fine, honestly. It’s just that I-”
She hesitates. Contemplates coming clean and ending this ludicrous charade.
Of all the stupid things she’s done in her life, this one is by far the stupidest. It even trounces that time she and Raven raided her parent’s liquor cabinet when they were sixteen and made ‘blackout punch.’ They blacked out all right. Straight after they’d spewed up said punch all over Clarke’s en suite. Anyway, this is infinitely worse.
Luckily or unluckily, depending on how you look at it, Clarke’s phone rings in that moment and disturbs her inner turmoil.
“Sorry, this is embarrassing” Clarke mutters as she scrambles to pull the phone from her pocket. “I should have put it on silent.”
She looks down at the screen. It’s Raven.
Raven’s probably wondering why she hasn’t turned up at her parent’s house yet to help with the anniversary party preparations. She thinks of the speech lying unfinished in her bag and feels a pang of guilt. She ignores the call and it’s only the second worst thing she’s done today.
They’re both unlucky, it seems, because just as Clarke begins to apologise, Lexa’s phone rings. Lexa whines as she looks at the caller I.D. and Clarke thinks it’s adorable.
“I know it’s a first date faux pas but I’d better take this call,” Lexa says apologetically. “It’s Anya. I promised I’d text her when we met up and I forgot.”
Clarke surmises that Anya must be the one who set up this blind date. This is the woman she’s supposed to know. Where has she heard that name recently?
Lexa accepts the call. “Hi Anya...yeah I’m here...I’m with Luna. Yeah...do you want to speak to her?”
Clarke’s stomach lurches violently. This is it. The jig is well and truly up.
She contemplates planning her escape route before Lexa fully works out what has happened. How is she supposed to look Lexa in the eye and explain herself when the brunette becomes angry, or worse, upset? The thought of those soulful green eyes darkened with hurt and disappointment makes her feel physically sick.
“No? Ok then. Speak to you later, Anya.”
Clarke breathes a subtle sigh of relief as Lexa ends the call. That was far too close for comfort.
Though there’s that name again. Anya. She remembers then that Raven’s new girlfriend is called Anya. It can’t be the same one. That would be too much of a cruel coincidence. She puts it down to paranoia....you know...being as she’s still having to keep up the pretence of being a completely different person today.
“That was odd,” Lexa remarks, looking completely nonplussed. “She thought we hadn’t met up.”
Clarke laughs nervously. “That is odd.”
Lexa hums her agreement. “Anyway shall we turn these off?” she asks, holding up her cell phone. “I just want to give you my undivided attention. No more interruptions.”
Lexa lips curl into a smile until she’s flashing a set of brilliantly white teeth. Clarke grins back like the idiot she is and nods. Turning her phone off means no more interruptions but it also means no more responsibilities. God, she is going to get a serious ass kicking from karma when all this is over.
“So you were saying something about coffee?” Lexa suggests, still smiling as she offers Clarke her arm. “Lead the way.”
‘Goddamn this woman is smooth’, is Clarke’s primary thought as she loops her arm through Lexa’s and walks them in the direction of the coffee shop.
A short while later they’re sitting on a bench facing the river and drinking coffee. Well, Lexa’s drinking coffee. Clarke’s opted for a massive hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. She needs the sugar boost to get over the last leg of this hangover.
“So Luna, Anya mentioned you’re a tri-athlete?” Lexa questions, glancing at her over the top of her cup.
Clarke damn well nearly chokes on one of her marshmallows.
“Uh...yeah. Not professionally or anything obviously,” Clarke stammers. “It’s more of a hobby than anything. My day job is in administration.”
At least that part isn’t a lie. Her day job is in administration.
“Pretty intense hobby,” Lexa quips. “I take it you’re not in training at the moment?” she says, grinning pointedly at Clarke’s hot chocolate with her tongue between her teeth.
Clarke gulps. Of course she has picked the most calorific drink on the menu. Not that she cares. She’s incredibly proud of her body and the way she looks but her drink choice doesn’t exactly back up her lie.
“It’s my cheat day,” she explains quickly. “I give myself a few days off each month and then it’s back to the routine.”
“Well for what it’s worth, I think you can afford to take more than a few,” Lexa says, letting her eyes trail up and down Clarke’s body slowly. “You look like you’re in fantastic shape.”
Clarke tries not to let that compliment go to her head just as she tries not to let the blood rush to her cheeks. She’s more successful with one than the other. She ducks her head and subtly pulls the collar of her jacket up in an effort to hide her face. Is fruitless at this point because she’s pretty sure even the tips of her ears are red.
“Are you cold? You’re shivering,” Lexa observes.
It’s probably because she’s so damn nervous.
Before Clarke can protest Lexa’s removing her scarf from around her neck and looping it around her own. Clarke just sits there and lets her, eyes trained on the way Lexa holds her tongue between her teeth in concentration as she ties the material. She wills her heart not to beat double time when Lexa’s knuckles brush lightly across her cheek as she completes the action. It’s no use. She didn’t realise how gay she was until right now.
When Lexa’s done, folding her hands back into her lap, Clarke gives her a murmured ‘thanks.’ Lexa shrugs her shoulders like its nothing and smiles shyly before looking away again. There’s a short silence between them where Clarke realises that Lexa has been the one making most of the conversation. She decides to take a stab in the dark.
“So you work with Anya then?” Clarke asks cautiously. Lexa hums as she sips her coffee. “What is it exactly that you do?”
“I’m the head litigation lawyer at a solicitors firm,” Lexa says casually. “I’ve worked there for just over seven years.”
“Yeah it basically means I try to resolve conflicts between two parties amicably so my clients can avoid going to court.”
“So you’re like a professional peace keeper?”
Lexa laughs and throws her head back. The sound is like music to Clarke’s ears and she decides there and then to make it her mission to hear that laugh again. As many times as she possibly can.
“I mean, kind of,” Lexa shrugs. “It’s a lot less noble than you’re making it sound. Helps me pay my mortgage though.”
“Mortgage?” Clarke repeats, not sure she heard correctly. “You own your own place?”
Lexa nods. “Yeah, over in Kensington.”
Clarke whistles lowly and grins as Lexa’s cheeks turn pink.
“It’s really nothing fancy,” Lexa protests, blush now creeping up her neck. “Just a small flat is all.”
Clarke can tell she’s being modest because everyone knows that Kensington is fancy as fuck. You have to be doing pretty well for yourself to afford a place there.
“So did you always want to be a lawyer, Miss ‘I live in Kensington but it isn’t a big deal?’” Clarke teases with a grin.
“I don’t know Miss ‘I do triathlons for fun,’ did you always want to work in admin?” Lexa counters.
That catches her off guard.
“No,” Clarke answers honestly, her grin slipping a little. “Can’t say that I did.”
Clarke is certain that it’s precisely no one’s dream career to work in admin. She knows it isn’t hers. Admin is all A-Z filing and excel spreadsheets. It’s mind-numbingly boring but she has to make a living somehow.
She’s so busy thinking about how much she dislikes her job she doesn’t realise that Lexa’s gotten up from the bench and moved to stand in front of her. The brunette takes her empty cup and puts it in the trash then motions for Clarke to follow her.
They end up leaning against the wall that overlooks the river. Lexa’s looking straight across to the south side, the bitter November wind whipping through her hair and blowing tendrils across her face. Clarke’s transfixed by the sharp slant of her jaw and the soft curves of full lips stained with a coat of barely-there gloss. She’s still staring when Lexa turns to face her.
“So what was it that you wanted to do? Professionally I mean?” Lexa questions, her tone gentle and inquisitive. “You know, if it’s not too rude to ask.”
“I always wanted to be an artist,” Clarke says, turning her gaze away momentarily. “I did my degree in Fine Art.”
“You have a Fine Art degree from Oxford?” Lexa blurts, eyebrows rising.
Clarke pauses and then nods uncertainly. She hasn’t mentioned anything about Oxford but she’s not about to tell Lexa she actually got her degree at the University of Durham.
“Sorry I didn’t mean to look like a stalker, it’s just Anya told me you met at university and I assumed you studied something similar. She likes to brag that she’s an Oxford law grad,” Lexa smiles as she shakes her head. “In fact she brings it up at every available opportunity.”
“That sounds like Anya,” Clarke laughs.
Great, now not only is she lying about her identity, she’s lying about her credentials too.
“How come you didn’t follow it up?” Lexa presses. “You must have some pretty incredible talent.”
Clarke frowns slightly and shoves her hands into her pockets. “It’s hard to make a successful career out of art. I mean I love it but painting canvases isn’t exactly lucrative,” she says with a bitter laugh. “But I guess the truth is I think I was always too scared to give it a proper go.”
“If you love something you should always pursue it,” Lexa says sagely. “To create one’s own world takes courage.”
Clarke’s eyebrows shoot up practically into her hairline. “Did you just quote Georgia O’Keefe at me?” she asks disbelievingly.
She’s becoming more and more intrigued by Lexa with each minute that passes. The woman is intelligent, beautiful and knows about art. If she reveals she’s unashamedly into musicals and Chinese food, Clarke might just ask for her hand in marriage here and now.
Lexa smirks. “I believe I did. Are you impressed?”
Clarke draws her lower lip into her mouth and bites down in an effort to keep from grinning. “Maybe,” she admits. “But only a little.”
“I’ll have to try harder then.” A beat passes. “Shall we go somewhere else?”
“Where did you have in mind?”
Lexa reaches forward to secure the borrowed scarf more firmly around Clarke’s neck from where it’s been worked loose in the wind. Clarke stares at Lexa’s eyes the whole time, willing the brunette to look up and meet her gaze. She’s a little disappointed when Lexa looks out across the river instead.
“There’s a great little bar I know just over the bridge if you fancy it?” Lexa suggests. “That is unless you think it’s too early in the day for a quiet drink?” she adds hesitantly.
Clarke’s definitely open to that idea. A beer or two might calm her nerves and allow the conversation to flow a little easier.
“Sounds good to me,” Clarke reassured. “Let’s go.”
Clarke clinks her glass against Lexa’s and then throws the shot back. She hisses only a little as the liquid pleasantly burns its way down her throat. She slams the empty glass down on the bar. This is definitely not a quiet drink. This is tequila slammers at three o’clock in the afternoon.
In her defence it was all Lexa’s idea. The brunette has turned out to be a lot less reserved and uptight than she originally thought a lawyer would be. For a start she’s taken them to a cantina which Clarke soon discovered was a type of Mexican bar. Hence the tequila.
It just goes to show you should never judge a book by its cover. Well, she of all people should know.
“Hey Lexa,” the bartender greets as he takes their empties away.
“Hi, how’s it going?” Lexa breezes.
Clarke quirks an eyebrow at her. “You a regular here?” she asks curiously.
“Define regular,” Lexa gives a nonchalant shrug. “I mean what is it-”
“Lexa! Hi,” one of the waitresses calls as she passes them by with a tray of drinks.
Lexa waves sheepishly and Clarke smirks at her having been caught in a lie. Oh the hypocrisy. She’s about to start on her line of teasing when Lexa smiles widely and points at Clarke’s bag resting on the bar. Clarke follows her gaze and sees her black notebook is poking out of the top of her bag.
“Ah, snap!” Lexa declares. “We’re swapping.”
Clarke frowns. “Swapping?”
“Yeah. The six billion ways to get to know you lists that you suggested?” Lexa says distractedly as she roots around in her own bag. “It’s actually a really good idea now that I think about it.”
Clarke swears inaudibly. That fucking book. That stupid self-help book than Luna had given to her on the train and the thing that had gotten her into this situation in the first place. This must be Luna’s karmic revenge. She swallows down the lump in her throat as Lexa pulls out a black notebook almost identical to her own.
“This yours?” Lexa says, reaching across to take her book before Clarke can say anything. “My list is in the front.”
Clarke screams internally, opening the first page of Lexa’s notebook whilst she watches the brunette flip through hers out of the corner of her eye. All Lexa is going to find is a half finished anniversary speech, birthday reminders and a number of to-do lists.
When she looks down at Lexa’s book there’s a list numbered one to ten ranging from her favourite drink (whiskey sour) to her favourite band (The Smiths). Clarke reads number 8 ‘Lifetime ambition’ where Lexa has written ‘fall in love again.’ Her eyes stick on the ‘again’ part of the sentence and she wonders what happened to the woman Lexa used to love. It’s probably beyond rude to ask.
“Shall I read yours first?” Lexa asks. “Put yourself out there,” she frowns. “Paint when you feel inspired?”
Oh no. No, no, no. Lexa’s only gone and found that stupid list of mantras that her mother forced her to write.
“Black sock wash?” Lexa reads, throwing her a puzzled smile.
Ah yes, her laundry reminder scrawled on the corner of the page in black biro. Of course. How classy.
“They’re a band,” Clarke blurts out. Nice save, Griffin, she congratulates herself.
“A band?” Lexa furrows her brow. “Are they new?”
“Uh yeah...yeah they’re new. They’re very underground folk disco,” Clarke babbles, nervously. “They’re my favourite band.”
Lexa gives her a blank look before rolling her eyes at herself. “Oh yeah, of course. They’re very uh...funky,” she looks down at the list yet again. “Get stronger thighs?”
“Hey this is a weird coincidence,” Clarke cuts her off. “My favourite film is also Pitch Perfect!” she says with too much enthusiasm.
“What are the chances?” Lexa grins brazenly.
“None chances,” Clarke grins back.
“Aca-awesome,” Lexa exclaims and then cringes immediately. “Sorry, quoting the film sounded like a much better idea in my head. Out-loud it just sounds terrible.”
Clarke shrugs, grin growing wider. “I thought it was cute.”
Lexa blushes just as much as Clarke does. At least they’re both as awkward as each other.
“Well that’s the lists done with,” Lexa says, closing Clarke’s notebook. “So...another drink?”
“Yeah, sure,” Clarke nods.
“What would you say to another tequila shot?” Lexa challenges jokingly. “Or are you too much of a lightweight?”
“Lightweight?” Clarke scoffs. “Please, it takes more than a couple of shots to put me on my ass. They don’t call me party animal Clar- uh...party animal Luna for nothing you know?”
Fuck that was close. Way too close. She can hear her heartbeat pounding in her ears and feels a twinge of guilt when Lexa smiles warmly at her. Party animal Clarke Griffin needs to control herself.
“That’s an interesting nickname,” Lexa remarks, flagging down the bartender. “You’ll have to tell me about it sometime.”
Clarke smiles but inside the guilt of lying to Lexa is wearing her down. From what she’s seen Lexa is a genuinely nice person; sweet and funny if not a little nerdy. She doesn’t deserve to be lied to like this. No one does.
The bartender sets their drinks down and Clarke sighs heavily.
“Lexa...look, I have a confession to make,” she starts. “I’m uh, I’m just gonna come out with it.”
“I’ve got one too,” Lexa intones.
“Oh, you have?”
“Yeah. Let me go first.”
“I’ve never heard of Black Sock Wash,” Lexa admits, holding her hands up in surrender. “I just, I wanted to be honest with you because honesty is very important to me.”
Clarke bites down on her tongue so hard she’s afraid she’ll draw blood.
“I tried to look cool but the truth is I haven’t dated in a while,” Lexa continues. “I mean these lists you suggested are great and everything and they’re a brilliant ice-breakers...but you can’t believe that just because we both like the same film we’re gonna end up together forever?”
“Well, I mean... no,” Clarke says cautiously. “It also depends how you feel about Chinese food and musicals,” she grins, tongue poised between her teeth.
Lexa lets out a short laugh and shakes her head. “I love both actually.” A beat passes. “Look Luna, I just wanted to say that whatever happens for the rest of the night, I’m having a really good time getting to know you,” she says, smiling shyly
Clarke smiles back. “Me too.”
“And look I don’t know why I brought you here,” Lexa gestures around the bar. “So let’s do something different. Anya said you like bowling?”
“I love bowling,” Clarke confirms.
She isn’t lying either, she actually does. She’s just not brilliant at it.
“Cool. Well let’s drink up and hit the bowling alley?” Lexa says, raising her glass.
Clarke picks up her own drink and clinks it. She throws back the shot and hopes it gives her the courage to keep up this charade.
If Clarke is bad at bowling, Lexa is terrible. The brunette has thrown gutter-balls on her past two turns and Clarke is taking the opportunity to mock her as much as possible. She wouldn’t be enjoying it so much if Lexa hadn’t insisted she was going to ‘wipe the floor’ with her before they started.
“Another perfect bowl,” Clarke says dryly when Lexa fails to knock down a single pin. “If I’d have known you were this good I never would have agreed to play.”
Lexa gives her a wry smile as she walks back from the lane. “I’ve been taking it easy on you this whole time,” she defends. “Now I’m really going to let you have it. You’re in for the thrashing of your life.”
Clarke rolls her eyes and sips her beer. “Sure, whatever you say Lexa.”
She almost chokes on that same beer when Lexa smirks and shrugs off her blazer. Because, oh, the button-up she’s wearing is sleeveless and Lexa’s been hiding some seriously toned arms beneath that material. Seriously, the woman has been putting in some long hours at the gym. She stares as Lexa folds her blazer, watching clearly defined muscles work beneath tanned skin. She swallows hard; her eyes glued to the intricate tribal-looking tattoo that wraps itself around Lexa’s upper arm.
She doesn’t realise Lexa’s been speaking to her until the brunette steps forward and waves a hand in front of her face.
“What?” Clarke splutters, jolting back to her senses.
The smirk on Lexa’s face is a mile wide. “I called your name like three times but you were totally zoned out,” she says, arching an eyebrow. “It’s your go by the way.”
Clarke blushes furiously and takes another sip of beer to try and cover it. She gets out of her seat and picks up her preferred bowling ball, walking slowly up to the lane. A quick glance over her shoulder tells her Lexa is watching her closely. Very closely in fact, her gaze unmistakably lingering on Clarke’s ass. The brunette snaps her eyes up when Clarke catches her gaze and casually looks off to the side.
Clarke smirks and continues walking up to the lane; swaying her hips entirely more than would be considered necessary. If Lexa’s going to distract her with those impeccable biceps, Clarke’s going to play a game of her own.
When she reaches the stop line she dips low but keeps her legs almost completely straight to accentuate what Raven had called her best physical feature. She releases the ball and turns quickly, not bothering to watch its trajectory. The awed look on Lexa’s face is a far more satisfying view.
“Oh look, another strike for me,” Clarke trills, pointing up at the TV display. “Please do let me know when the thrashing is going to commence,” she winks.
Lexa looks like she’s trying not to swallow her own tongue. Mission accomplished.
“Don’t feel bad. The important thing is you tried,” Clarke says patronisingly, unable to conceal her grin. “God loves a trier.”
“It’s not fair,” Lexa grumbles, scooping some guacamole onto a tortilla chip. “Obviously I’m going to lose to a tri-athlete. You have an unfair advantage when it comes to sport.”
Clarke laughs internally because she can’t remember the last time she did any sort of physical exercise...unless running for the tube counts. Probably not.
“I don’t know if you can really class bowling as a sport,” Clarke deliberates, pausing to pop another chip into her mouth. “I mean it doesn’t require a lot of skill. All you have to do is throw a ball in a straight line.”
“Yeah, well. There’s nothing straight about me,” Lexa counters with a wry smile.
Clarke stares blankly, letting the joke hang between them. She waits for Lexa’s smile to slip a little before she starts giggling. After a few seconds Lexa joins in until they’re laughing uncontrollably, causing people on the surrounding tables to look at them.
“That was terrible,” Clarke declares after she’s composed herself. “Does blatantly stating your sexuality usually work as a flirting technique?”
“I don’t know,” Lexa muses, taking a sip of beer. “You tell me.”
Clarke’s eyes flit up to meet Lexa’s intense gaze and she feels whatever sarcastic reply she had die on her lips. It totally does work as a flirting technique.
“I don’t really think I can comment. I mean my idea of romance is treating a girl to bowling alley nachos and watered down beer,” Clarke says, gesturing at the table between them.
“Good job I like plastic cheese and cheap alcohol,” Lexa smiles. “This is the best date I’ve been on in ages.”
“Me too,” Clarke admits.
She almost forgets that this isn’t actually her date. However the connection she’s made with Lexa and the fun they’re having outweighs the creeping feeling of guilt.
“Have you dated much since the break-up?” Lexa asks.
Clarke’s face must convey the panic she feels at having walked into another lie because Lexa grants her a sad smile and drops her gaze.
“Sorry that was rude. I don’t mean to pry it’s just Anya mentioned you split up with Kate a couple of months ago,” Lexa explains. “If it helps, I know how you feel. Cheaters are the worst.”
It doesn’t help at all. There is no Kate. Well there obviously is but she’s Luna’s heartbreak, not Clarke’s. She remains silent, not trusting herself to say anything that won’t pull her deeper into this mess.
“Just be grateful you didn’t get married because it’s a lot more awkward when you have to figure out who gets the keep the flat,” Lexa jokes weakly to break the silence. “Winner, by the way.”
Wait, hold up. Lexa was married? So that’s what happened to the last woman she loved. Clarke feels 10 times worse. Also who would cheat on Lexa? You’d have to be a total imbecile.
“I’m sorry that happened to you, Lexa,” Clarke apologises, unable to meet the brunette’s eyes. “No one deserves to be cheated on.”
Lexa shrugs and takes a sip of beer. “It’s in the past now. Let’s be honest we can both do better. We are doing better. What is it that ‘Six billion people’ says?” she grins.
Clarke takes a wild guess. She has no idea what that lame self-help book has to offer. “Fuck the past?”
“Fuck the past,” Lexa agrees.
They both laugh and down the remainder of their beers. Clarke excuses herself to the bar to buy them another round, swaying slightly. They’ve had four beers apiece now and she is staring to feel the effects but she’s impressed Lexa is keeping up with her.
She’s smiling back at Lexa over her shoulder when she hears it.
“Clarke? Clarke Griffin?”
Oh hell no.
The sound of her own name sobers her instantly. She spins on her heel to face the source of the noise. Behind the bar, the bartender is grinning at her as if he knows her. She doesn’t recognise him at all. Still, the sense of panic she feels is very real.
“Sorry do we know each other?” Clarke frowns.
“It’s me, Finn!” the bartender exclaims. “Finn Collins.”
Clarke stares blankly. Either the alcohol is affecting her more than she thought or this guy is totally forgettable. She doesn’t recognise the name or the man standing in front of her at all.
“St Andrews comprehensive 2001-2008?” Finn tries, smiling excitedly at her. “I was two years above you? Bellamy’s friend? I gave you that valentine’s card in year 9. You tore it up in front of everyone?”
Clarke shakes her head. “No. Sorry.”
“Your friend Raven set fire to my trousers once?”
“Oh God, yes, yeah I do remember,” Clarke cringes. “Sorry about that.”
“Don’t be, I glued it back together. Only about 57 pieces,” Finn chuckles with a wave of his hand.
“I meant about your trousers,” Clarke deadpans. A beat passes. “I didn’t recognise you. You were so...”
“Fit?” Finn supplies. Clarke was going to go for ‘annoying’ but hey ho. “Yeah, I’m not as active these days,” he chuckles, patting his beer belly. “Still charming though. Still got the moves with the ladies,” he winks.
If Clarke’s honest she can’t believe this is the same person. Everyone at school used to refer to him as ‘Fuckboy Finn.’ He tried it on with all the girls and trailed around after Bellamy like a lost puppy because they were both on the football team. He also used to have a full head of floppy brown hair. The man who stands before her now is receding quite badly. Time has not been kind to Finn Collins.
“You’re looking really great Cla-”
“Could I just have two beers please?” Clarke interrupts. She wants to get away from the bar and put as much space between herself and Finn as she possibly can.
“Y-yeah,” Finn stammers, dopey grin still in place. “I can’t believe it’s Clarke fuckin’ Griffin.”
“Ha-ha, shush,” Clarke mutters as Finn turns to get her drinks.
She looks nervously over her shoulder at Lexa and can see the brunette is looking straight at her with a curious sort of smile. Clarke waves and mouths that she’ll be back in a second. She had better hurry up before Lexa comes over to see what’s taking so long.
“These are on me,” Finn says as he sets two bottles down.
“Thanks,” Clarke responds, moving to put her money away. Finn’s hand catches the top of her wrist as she does so and he gives it a light squeeze.
“So good to see you,” he grins.
Clarke’s face is a strange hybrid of awkwardness and disgust as she thanks Finn again and pulls her hand away. She can still feel his eyes on her as she walks back to where Lexa’s sitting.
“Ah, flirting with the bar man I see,” Lexa teases when Clarke sits back down.
“Ugh no, not at all,” Clarke protests with an exaggerated shiver. “So not my type.”
“Relax, I’m kidding. I’m the least jealous person you’ll ever meet,” Lexa says, standing up and walking back towards the lane. “Let’s wrap this up shall we? We have one more game and I believe you’re owed a thrashing,” she winks.
“Let’s make things more interesting shall we? Loser buys the next round of drinks?” Clarke challenges. “Not that I’m competitive.”
Lexa gives her a lopsided grin and Clarke feels a whole colony of butterflies come to life in her stomach. She watches intently as Lexa prepares to take her next throw.
“Clarke, I brought you some nachos.”
Clarke turns sharply to her left. Oh fucking hell...not this guy again. Finn stands there grinning like an idiot and holding up a plate of nachos like that’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do.
“That’s alright, I’ve got a wheat allergy,” Clarke lies, trying to get rid of him.
“Nah you don’t,” Finn says, setting the plate down. “Do you remember this,” he asks, handing her a photo.
Clarke looks down at the photo and her eyes almost bulge out of her head. It’s a photo of her but she can’t be older than about 17.
“Where did you get this?”
“In my wallet.”
“Who took it?”
“But this is my bedroom. You’ve never been in my bedroom.”
“I wasn’t in your bedroom, silly. I was outside. In a tree.”
O-kay. This just got way too weird for her to handle. She doesn’t have time to process just how weird it is, however, because she’s got a beautiful brunette date to worry about.
“Luna! Watch and weep,” Lexa declares, holding up her bowling ball as if were a weapon.
Clarke nods and smiles as Lexa turns back to the lane to take another go.
“Luna? Why is she calling you Luna? Your name is Clarke. Clarke Griffin,” Finn frowns.
Clarke grabs his arm and veers him off to the side. Time to do some damage prevention.
“Ok listen, that girl is not actually my girlfriend. She’s not even my proper date. I sort of...stole her from under the clock,” Clarke babbles, much to Finn’s confusion. “And now I’m pretending to be the girl she’s supposed to be on a date with. It’s all a bit...”
“Kinky,” Finn grins.
Clarke’s about to lambast him when Lexa appears at her side.
“Everything ok?” she asks carefully. “Hi, I’m Lexa,” she says, turning to Finn.
“And I’m Finn,” Finn answers, pointing to his name tag.
“So you are,” Lexa says coolly. “You two know each other?”
Clarke says no at the same time Finn says yes.
“We used to go to school together,” Clarke supplies.
Great, now she looks like she’s lied to Lexa. Because she has. She really really has.
“We’re old friends,” Finn brags.
“Old old old friends,” Clarke clarifies nervously. “Acquaintances really.”
Lexa looks between the two of them, her expression confused. “That’s nice. Shall we get back to the game, Luna?”
Clarke nods and Lexa makes her way back towards their lane. Clarke goes to follow her when Finn calls after her and she stops in her tracks.
“Hang on, Luna,” Finn smirks.
“What are you doing?” Clarke hisses.
“It would appear I’ve got you over a barrel.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Look at you, Clarke Griffin. Once cool and confident. Now...stealing other women’s dates from under clocks.”
Clarke scowls at him. “You’re working as a bar man in a bowling alley. You still have to wear a name tag on your shirt and your hairline looks like it’s afraid of your face.”
“And yet I hold the cards,” Finn mocks.
“Look, Finn. I’m having a date with a woman. A smart, attractive woman who actually might have some potential...so just be cool, yeah? Don’t ruin this for me.”
“Ok,” Finn agrees, holding his hands up. “Sure.”
“If you give me a blowjob.”
Clarke feels her world come screeching to a halt. “What the fuck? Are you out of your fucking mind?” she hisses, unable to hide her contempt.
“No way. What’s wrong with you?!”
“Fine. A kiss then. Kiss me or I unravel your carefully constructed web of lies. Your choice, Clarke.”
Clarke contemplates her options. She can come clean to Lexa and tell her their whole evening has been a lie. Lexa will probably call her all the names under the sun and leave feeling absolutely devastated. Clarke will likely never see her again. Or she can kiss Finn and carry on like this night isn’t the worst idea she’s ever had.
“Fine,” Clarke sighs. “One kiss. No tongues.”
“Fine,” Finn pouts. “But it has to be tonight. In the toilets. If you don’t I’ll follow you and see to it this lie comes crashing down around you.”
Clarke begrudgingly agrees and turns away, walking back to the lane and Lexa. She forces a smile onto her face and gives Lexa some story about how Finn is just a weird old school companion. Lexa smiles and tells her not to worry, she’s still having the best time. What the hell is Clarke doing?
Ten minutes later she’s walking arm in arm with Lexa back to the desk where they got their bowing shoes. They put their coats on and Lexa drapes her scarf around Clarke’s neck once again, brushing a strand of hair back off her face. Clarke looks up into Lexa’s eyes and mirrors the brunette’s smile. Her gaze drops down to Lexa’s lips and she subconsciously licks her own. Lexa really is beautiful. And kind. Much too good for her.
“You saving that for later?” Lexa teases
“What?” Clarke frowns.
“You’ve got some jalapeno in your teeth,” Lexa laughs. “From the nachos. It’s wedged in there pretty good.”
Clarke runs her tongue over her teeth and groans. “I’m gonna run to the bathroom. Wait for me here?”
Lexa chuckles again. “I’ll think about what we can do next,” she calls as Clarke stalks off in the direction of the toilets.
Clarke enters the bathroom and makes a beeline for the mirror. She removes the offending bit of food from her teeth and pops a breath mint into her mouth. She checks her hair and then cautiously sniffs the scarf around her neck. It smells like Lexa’s perfume and she smiles to herself. A second later she jumps when she feels a hand grasp her ankle.
When she looks down Finn is lying on the bathroom floor, body half in and half out of the cubicle. From what Clarke can see he isn’t wearing a shirt.
“Hope you weren’t leaving before making good on our agreement,” he leers. “I saw you were leaving and took my break early.”
He disappears for a second before the cubicle door unlocks. Clarke’s eyebrows shoot into her hairline when she sees he’s standing there in only his boxer shorts.
“I’m out,” she says flatly. “Goodbye Finn.”
Her hand is on the doorhandle when he says, “Fine. Let me just put my clothes back on and have a word with Lexa about Luna.”
Clarke freezes and turns back around.
Finn smirks. “That’s what I thought. Now,” he says taking a step forward. “I believe there was talk of a kiss?”
Clarke looks up at the ceiling and sighs heavily. “Ok, let’s just get this over with so you can leave me alone forever.”
Finn picks up the two ends of Lexa’s scarf and ties it around his neck. Clarke groans. She feels sick. Is she really actually going to do this?
“That’s it, come closer,” Finn whispers, pulling on the ends of the scarf. “Hold my face, it’ll be more romantic.”
“I don’t think this could be any more romantic,” Clarke’s voice drips with sarcasm.
She can smell his stale breath as he steps closer and wrinkles her nose. No way is she going through with this. Fuck it, she’ll tell Lexa she lied and at least she can cling to some small shred of dignity. She’s worth more than this and no way is she going to let a dickhead like Finn blackmail her. She’s gonna tell him to go fuck himself. And then maybe deliver a swift kick to the balls.
Before she can do either of those things the bathroom door swings open.
Of course it’s Lexa standing there. This whole thing just took a right turn at messed up and nose-dived straight into fucksville.
Oh no, Clarke. What have you done?
Next time: Lexa hits the roof but she isn't as squeaky clean as she seems.
Chapter 4: ...And into the fire
Picks up straight where the last chapter left off.
Fair warning: things are gonna get angsty.
Thanks once again for your comments and kudos - loving the feedback so far.
I hope you enjoy this chapter, there is certainly a lot going on.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lexa glances down at her watch and then looks in the direction of the bathrooms once again. Luna’s been gone a while now she she’s beginning to wonder if the blonde might have ditched her. She scolds herself for the ridiculous thought. They’re having a great time, even with that weird barman hanging around like a bad smell.
Though would it be totally weird if she went to the bathroom to see if Luna’s ok? Accidents happen all the time...what if she’s slipped on a wet patch on the floor and got a concussion? Or maybe she picked a cubicle with a faulty lock and now she’s trapped? She scolds herself again. She has a habit of letting her imagination run riot when she has too much time to think. Maybe she should have been a fiction writer, not a lawyer.
Still, she could do with freshening up. She can reapply her lip balm and set her mind at ease at the same time. Two birds, one stone.
Only when she reaches the women’s bathroom and pushes open the door, the scene she sees before her knocks the air out of her lungs.
Luna’s there alright. She’s standing way too close to the simpleton of a bartender from earlier...who for some reason is wearing next to nothing. In the split second before either of them notice her, Lexa’s stomach lurches violently. Her scarf is wrapped around the pair of them in what looks like some bizarre bondage practice. Nothing about this scenario says “old school friends.”
“Lexa!” Luna cries, frantically trying to detangle herself. “Whatever you think is happening here is definitely not what’s happening here.”
Lexa’s head is spinning as Luna pushes Finn away and smoothes down her shirt. She feels like a complete fool. Was she really naive enough to believe that a woman like Luna would genuinely be interested in her? Yes. She was.
“I’m just gonna go,” Lexa murmurs, reaching blindly behind her for the door handle.
“Please don’t leave,” Luna pleads, reaching out for her arm.
Lexa pulls back as though burned and squeezes her eyes shut in an effort to block out the inexplicable surge of guilt she’s feeling. Please don’t leave? As if she should feel bad about wanting to escape this god-awful situation. As if she has any choice in the matter.
“Look I thought we made a connection this evening but obviously I was wrong,” Lexa says stiffly, unable and unwilling to look Luna in the eye. “Clearly you have something going on with Finn here...you’re rekindling something from your school days or you...whatever. I’m out.”
She turns to walk out of the bathroom and away from this disaster when she feels Luna’s hand on her shoulder. She twists out of her grasp harshly and turns, working her features into her best death-glare.
“Lexa, please just let me explain.”
Something in Luna’s voice gives her pause and she slowly looks up into captivating blue orbs. In that second she knows she’s done for. The blonde looks so distressed with her eyes wide and lower lip trembling. Part of Lexa wants to hear her out but the other part doesn’t want to listen. Doesn’t want to hear the excuses. She’s heard them all before and then some. Disappointment takes a back seat and frustration bubbles to the surface.
“You don’t have to explain,” she hisses and Luna flinches. “Really, it’s fine.”
“Lexa just take it down a notch,” Finn chimes in. “Calm down. Don’t be so hard on Clarke.”
Lexa does a double-take. “Who is Clarke?” she questions, furrowing her brow. “Why is he calling you Clarke?”
Luna looks like a rabbit caught in headlights. Finn is opening and closing his mouth like a particularly stupid goldfish. Lexa works her jaw back and forth as she waits for an explaination.
“It’s my nickname for her,” Finn blurts as Luna elbows him in the ribs. “You know like Clarke Kent? Superman? Because she’s out of this world.”
Lexa stares at him blankly before raising both hands in front of her and taking a few back. “Ok. I’m gonna leave you two to whatever weird shit you’ve got going on here.”
“Lexa wait. Let me just tell you the truth,” Luna sighs, taking a step forward. “Because now is as good a time as any to confess.”
“Confess what?” Lexa groans exasperatedly.
She’s done. Absolutely 100% done. All she wants now is to go home, crawl into bed and pretend this whole mess never even happened.
Luna runs her hand through her hair and licks her lips nervously. Lexa really wishes her eyes weren’t following the movement of the blonde’s tongue quite so closely but it is what it is.
“The reason he called me Clarke is because...I’m not called Luna. The reason I’m not called Luna is because I’m...not actually Luna.”
“She’s Clarke! Clarke Griffin!” Finn crows, practically bouncing on the spot with glee.
Lexa is speechless. None of this makes sense. What the fuck is going on here?
“Yes, thank you Finn,” Clarke scathes. “You can put your clothes back on and fuck off now, you’ve done enough damage here,” she hisses, pushing him roughly towards the door.
Finn stumbles from the bathroom with his clothes in his hands, leaving the two of them alone. When Lexa looks up, Clarke is standing in front of her with a nervous smile that looks closer to a grimace.
“Anyway look, I was in here with him because he said he wouldn’t tell you who I was if I kissed him,” Clarke babbles frantically. “I was stupid but the truth is Lexa, I’m not really your blind date. There was this whole thing on the train with this girl and then the book and the clock, I-”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Lexa interrupts, pinching the bridge of her nose. “So you’re saying you’re not the girl I was supposed to meet earlier?”
Lexa stares incredulously. She knew this date was too good to be true, knew there had to be a catch. And what a catch it is: this girl is insane.
Clarke stares back, teeth worrying her lower lip as she struggles for an explanation. “I know. I know this looks bad,” she admits. “I kind of look like a crazy person but if you think about it it’s really more impulsive than anything.”
Lexa can’t believe her ears. Is this girl really trying to downplay what she’s done? Screw being frustrated, now she’s just plain pissed.
“Who does that?” Lexa demands, throwing her hands up. “What kind of person lurks around under clocks waiting to steal dates?”
Clarke actually looks a little offended. “Ok, I wasn’t lurking, for one. And it’s not stealing in the conventional sense of the word. That girl gave me her book, that’s why you thought I was her.”
“No. No I thought you were her because you said you were,” Lexa retorts.
“Actually you just kind of assumed that I-”
“I mean when we you going to tell me? What was your plan here?”
“I, uh, I didn’t really have one.”
“Of course you didn’t...” Lexa shakes her head disbelievingly. “Because no one could plan for something this fucked up.”
Clarke shifts uncomfortably, moving her weight from one foot to the other. “I mean I’m sure people have done worse things,” she offers meekly.
“I’m struggling to think of any right now,” Lexa deadpans.
An uncomfortable silence falls between them and Lexa does her best to control her emotions. Why did this have to happen to her? It’s as though her love-life is cursed. A small part of her wishes Clarke’s lie had never been exposed because up until about 5 minutes ago this was the best date she’d ever been on.
She knows that’s ridiculous though. It’s not realistic. Clarke couldn’t have continued pretending to be Luna forever. Luna who Anya said was a perfect match for her. She feels her heart sink in her chest because probably everything Clarke’s told her about herself this evening has been a lie.
“I don’t think that girl was right for you anyway,” Clarke offers, breaking the silence.
Lexa’s head snaps up. “Well now I’ll never know. You saw to that didn’t you?”
“I was just trying to meet my mate in the modern world,” Clarke continues, trying to dig herself out of the hole she’s created. “I was following the advice of that book you love so much.”
Lexa scoffs and rolls her eyes. She hasn’t even read that stupid book. She skimmed it at best on the train here so she’d have some clue as to what Luna was talking about.
What she does next comes as a total surprise. She laughs. Long and loud, letting the absurdity of this whole situation wash over her. It’s an odd reaction, she knows that. Clarke’s looking at her like she’s spontaneously grown another head before she giggles herself. Then they’re both laughing like idiots before Lexa stops abruptly, working her features back into a scowl.
“Who even are you?” Lexa asks more to herself than anything.
“Clarke Griffin,” the blonde smiles brightly, holding out her hand for Lexa to shake. “Hello.”
Lexa shakes it, wondering where the hell she’s going with this. She tells herself she’s only still here in this bathroom because she wants answers.
“Are you even a tri-athlete?” Lexa questions.
Clarke frowns. “That’s the second question you ask?”
“And where is Luna?”
“No idea. Probably out sticking her nose in some other lonely singleton’s business. She seemed to be good at that.”
Lexa resists the urge to laugh because she’s angry. Really, she is. Clarke’s unique and sarcastic sense of humour had been one of the qualities that had Lexa had been attracted to. It’s one of the things they’d bonded over this evening. She doesn’t want to be reminded of that now. Clarke trying to make light of this situation isn’t going to work.
“Are you even an Oxford grad?” Lexa asks suspiciously.
“No, I went to Durham.”
“Jesus fucking Christ.”
Clarke’s furrows her brow. “Okay, that was a bit uncalled for.”
“What was uncalled for,” Lexa retorts, just about managing to keep her voice level, “was you derailing my date and letting me think you were someone else.”
Clarke’s glare slips away to be replaced with a look of sincere guilt. She opens her mouth and closes it again, eyes flitting down to the floor. For a moment Lexa thinks she might apologise. She doesn’t wait around to find out, turning swiftly on her heel and stalking out of the bathroom.
“Fucking ridiculous” Lexa mutters to herself as she strides back towards the front desk. She’s going to pick up her coat and bag and get the hell out of here. What a huge waste of time this has been. Anya’s probably going to wet herself laughing when she hears about this one.
“I think you’re overreacting a little,” Clarke calls from behind her.
Great, she’s following her. Will this woman never quit? Lexa knows she should ignore her but she stops in her tracks and turns to face the blonde who almost bumps into her.
“Oh really?”Lexa asks witheringly. “You think I’m overreacting?”
Clarke nods. “Yeah. Yeah, I do actually.”
“Well how would you feel, Clarke,” Lexa sneers, pointedly exaggerating her name, “if the girl you’d been set-up on a date with, the girl you were told would be absolutely perfect for you, turns out to be some opportunistic crazy person instead? Hmm?”
Clarke rolls her eyes. “Ok. A, Set-ups never work. And B-”
“Anya said we matched,” Lexa counters defiantly.
Clarke scoffs. “Believe me, it wouldn’t have worked,” she protests, placing her hands on her hips. “That girl reads self-help books, lectures strangers about their love-lives and wears chintz sweaters!”
It’s Lexa’s turn to roll her eyes now.
Clarke looks equally as irritated as she continues her rant. “And she ‘works in the city.’ What does that even mean? I mean when people say that what does that mean?”
“What it means is she’s a high-flying, successful Oxford graduate with-”
“There you go again with the Oxford thing,” Clarke cries, throwing her hands up. “You’re obsessed. It’s like your favourite part,” she scathes, shaking her head.
Lexa’s jaw drops slightly as Clarke pushes past her and continues walking towards the front desk. She doesn’t need to indulge Clarke, doesn’t need to retaliate, but whatever. She’s not backing down. Which is why she follows, feeling her temper build with each step.
“Well isn’t that just a classic response from a woman bitter about her own career choices because she was too scared to go after something a little difficult,” Lexa taunted as Clarke froze on the spot. “Excuse me for having high standards in potential partners.”
Clarke turns around, her eyes flashing with anger and her nostrils flared. Ok, so Lexa might have gone a little too far with that comment. It was a low blow. Maybe she should apologise and-
“Pretty rich coming from a woman so desperate for affection she allowed herself to be set-up without asking for so much as a physical description,” Clarke gibes, crossing her arms. “You just assumed your date was the first halfway-decent looking girl you ran into at the station. How’s that for your high standards?”
Were they not arguing like children in the middle of a bowling alley, and were Lexa not quite so angry, she would have told Clarke that she was far above ‘halfway-decent looking.’
But those aren’t the circumstances. They are arguing. And Lexa is angry. She goes on the defensive. Clarke has touched a particularly sensitive nerve with that ‘desperate’ comment.
“You know what, Clarke? The bitter look really suits you. It really, really doesn’t surprise me that Kate slept around. Oh wait...there is no Kate!”
“And there is no wife, is there? Because she left you!”
Ouch, is what Lexa thinks. ‘Yes,’ is what she says, as sarcastically as humanly possible.
“And you know what?” Clarke says, pausing to moisten her lips, “Here’s your thing, here’s your act. ‘Ooh I’m so wounded and rejected, please help me, attractive stranger who I know nothing about.’ Get a grip.”
Lexa scowls darkly. “This is coming from a woman who had to steal someone else’s date to even get one,” she deadpans.
They’ve been so wrapped up in each other...well, in their argument that she didn’t notice they’d reached the front desk. The guy working behind the counter is looking at them with a mix of trepidation and discomfort.
“At least I’m not walking around like the fucking catch of the century,” Clarke retorts as she slides their ticket across the counter. “Oh ‘look at me with my fancy lawyer job and my flat in Knightsbridge,” she trills, doing a poor impression of Lexa. “But what I really want to do, what I really want to do is fall in love again.”
Huh. So Clarke did pay attention to her list. Go figure. The desk clerk gives them a wary look and hands over their coats along with Clarke’s handbag.
“I am gonna fall in love again,” Lexa hisses, pulling her coat on. “It’s clear that you don’t know anything about love with your bitter outlook and defensive sarcasm.”
“Whatever,” Clarke mutters as she picks up her bag. “Good luck with that.”
Lexa glares intently as Clarke throws her bag over her shoulder. Never in her life has she been so irritated with another person.
“Thank you very much, it has been a pleasure not getting to know you and congratulations on your massive pack of lies,” Lexa says with an air of finality. “Where’s my bag?” she demands, addressing the desk clerk.
“That’s all that was on the ticket I’m afraid,” he shrugs nervously.
Lexa turns to face Clarke. “Where is my bag?”
“How should I know?” Clarke snaps, rooting around in her own bag. “Why have I got your notepad?”
She holds up the offending item up for Lexa to see.
“Fuck. We must have left my bag at the cantina earlier,” Lexa huffs.
“You left it at the cantina, Lexa. Not me,” Clarke corrects with a smirk. “Goodbye.”
“Ugh, there’s some really important client paperwork in there,” Lexa groans aloud.
“Ooh sexy,” Clarke remarks flatly as she walks towards the exit.
“I came straight from the office!”
“Ooh, sexier!”Clarke shouts without looking back. Her hand is on the door when she stops in her tracks and lets out a whine of frustration. “Ugh, your fucking paperwork and my notebook...with my speech!”
Clarke gives no further explanation as she runs from the building, bag swinging wildly over her shoulder. Lexa stares dumfounded for a second and then takes after her. She has no idea what speech Clarke is talking about. Maybe the girl is giving a lecture in how to be rude and obnoxious? She would certainly excel at that.
“Wait, what speech?”Lexa calls, curiosity getting the better of her as she follows Clarke.
“It’s my parent’s 30th Wedding anniversary tonight,” Clarke grumbles, looking up and down the street.
Lexa lets out a hollow laugh. “This just gets better and better. Not only do you steal someone else’s blind date, you abandon your parents on one of the most important milestones of their life,” she cries disbelievingly. “You really need to consider your motivations for doing things and not doing things.”
This girl, Lexa thinks, this girl is an absolute disaster of a person. So why is there a part of her that wants to keep arguing with Clarke? Doesn’t want to just let her walk off into the night in a flurry of fury and sarcasm?
“Great,” Clarke shrugs. “I’m gonna go and get my speech.”
She turns to walk down the street as Lexa hails down a cab.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Clarke challenges.
“I’m getting a taxi so I can go back to the bar. What does it look like?” Lexa snaps.
“It’s a ten minute walk.”
“No its not. It’s at least 20.”
“It’s 10 minutes!”
“You seem awfully confident about that, Clarke.”
“Because its a fact Lexa.”
“Oh it’s a fact? It’s a fact, is it?” Lexa patronises. “What like the fact you’re a tri-athlete? Tell you what, I’ll get in a taxi and you can run, swim and cycle to the bar and we’ll see who gets there first.”
Clarke gapes at her. “What?”
“You don’t even know what a tri-athlete is, do you?” Lexa deadpans.
“Yes I do!” Clarke protests unconvincingly.
She definitely doesn’t. The corner of Lexa’s mouth threatens to pull into a smirk. She stops herself. She’ll save that satisfaction for when she’s won.
“Well in that case Clarke, ready, steady...”
Clarke’s already running down the street before she can say ‘go.’ Lexa throws herself into the taxi and shouts the bar’s address at the driver as the car speeds off.
It’s not until she’s alone in the taxi that Lexa has time to collect her thoughts. In the space of a mere half an hour her day has gone from A+ to ungradable. She thinks a little about the real Luna who must have stood alone at the station wondering where her date was.
Mostly though, she thinks about Clarke and her lies. The kicker is she genuinely was having a great time with the blonde. Clarke is funny, witty, intelligent, beautiful...at least that’s the impression she gave whether it was true or not (besides the beauty, obviously, she can’t very well lie about that).
The taxi swerves down a side street and speeds past Clarke who is still running in the direction of the bar. It’s started to rain. Lexa’s not above giving her the finger as she passes, enjoying the shocked expression on the blonde’s face far too much.
She wonders how things might have panned out had they met under different circumstances. You know, where one of them wasn’t being deceitful.
Still, she hasn’t been totally honest herself today. She is dreading going back to the bar and with good reason. There’s a fairly high chance she’ll run into someone she definitely doesn’t want to run into. It was incredibly stupid of her to even take Clarke there earlier.
Lexa wears a triumphant smile for a split second when the taxi pulls up outside the bar. That is until she sees Clarke whizz round the corner on a pushbike.
Clarke is sweaty and red-faced, hair damp with rain as she clambers off the bike. Lexa is dying to know where this crazy woman acquired a bike in central London at 8pm on a Saturday evening. When Clarke shoots her a smug grin, she decides she doesn’t want to know after all.
Clarke isn’t grinning for long though. She obviously pushed herself to the limit to get here and is breathing quite heavily as she leans against the wall for support.
“Are you alright?” Lexa asks as Clarke dry heaves.
“Yeah, ‘m fine,” Clarke says, standing up straight. “Told you it was 10 minutes.”
Lexa rolls her eyes. “My bag had better be in there.”
“Course it will,” Clarke insists.
For the second time tonight, she pushes past Lexa and enters the bar. Lexa follows her inside and the first thing she notices is that the bar is considerably busier than it had been earlier. She supposes that’s because most people don’t drink tequila at three in the afternoon.
She follows Clarke to the bar, through the throngs of people dancing to whatever passes for popular music these days. Whatever it is, Lexa doesn’t care for it.
The same bartender from earlier is serving and smiles widely when he sees them.
“Hello again ladies. More tequila?” he asks cheerily.
Clarke and Lexa both shout ‘no’ in unison.
“Have you seen my bag?” Lexa asks him. “I left it here earlier.”
The bartender goes off to check and as soon as he’s gone, Clarke walks away too.
“Where are you going?” Lexa shouts over the music.
“Toilets,” Clarke supplies in a clipped tone. She doesn’t look back.
“Oh right, are you gonna meet someone else in there?” Lexa sneers.
Clarke turns to face her but continues walking backwards through the crowd. “No, so you don’t need to follow me in there this time.”
“Trust me, I have no intention of doing that again,” Lexa calls at her retreating form.
When Clarke disappears into the bathroom Lexa lets out a heavy sigh and slumps against the bar. It’s exhausting, this passive aggressive back and forth they have going on. As frustrated and annoyed as she is with Clarke, something about the girl intrigues her.
As soon as she gets her bag back and returns Clarke’s notebook they can go their separate ways. The thought leaves her feeling oddly empty.
She’s glancing down at her watch when she sees Clarke walking back across the dancefloor. Lexa’s heart skips a beat because damn, if she thought Clarke was beautiful before, she’s fucking radiant now.
Clarke has shed her plaid shirt, soaked with rain, and now wears a simple vest-top. Her damp hair curls around her face, framing it like a goddamn work of art. Lexa’s eyes trail over Clarke’s body slowly, perhaps lingering too long on swaying hips and the slight bounce of her breasts. Luckily for her, the blonde doesn’t seem to notice she’s being checked out. It’s a blessing really, because she doesn’t think she can handle any more of Clarke’s mocking tonight.
Clarke hoists herself onto one of the barstools and leans her elbows on the counter. Lexa regards her out of the corner of her eye. Clarke’s eyes look a little bloodshot as though she’s been crying. She swallows the lump that’s formed in her throat and decides to put her anger aside for a moment.
“Do you even like bowling?” Lexa asks quietly.
“I love bowling,” Clarke says, sparing her a quick glance.
Lexa sighs and sits on the stool next to Clarke’s. “So you weren’t faking it the whole night then?”
“Bet you’ve said that line before,” Clarke jokes softly.
Lexa chuckles and then Clarke’s eyes meet hers with a sad smile. Lexa’s heart clenches when she realises that yes, Clarke definitely has been crying. Whether it’s over her or something else entirely, she doesn’t know. What she does know is the expression on Clarke’s face. It’s one of regret.
Lexa can hear her heartbeat pounding in her ears because despite all this evening’s craziness, despite how messed up it’s been, she has a wild idea. Maybe, just maybe, they could try being civil to each other.
Clarke breaks the silence between them. “Look I realise this is not my finest hour,”
“Bit of an understatement,” Lexa intones lightly.
“Yeah. Yeah I know...in hindsight agreeing to Finn’s demands might not have been the best idea I’ve had all night,” Clarke trails off, biting her lower lip.
“You could have just told me the truth,” Lexa offers.
“No, I know. And I was going to, I just...” Clarke pauses, looking up to the ceiling as though an explanation will fall from the sky. “Everything was going so well. I didn’t know how-”
“I would have understood.”
Clarke’s head snaps up. “Would you?”
Lexa nods. “Yes,” she says simply. “I mean, I would still have been pissed but if you’d been honest I would have been a hell of a lot more understanding. Surely you have to see that?”
Clarke drops her gaze to the floor. “Yeah...I know,” she mutters. “I guess I didn’t know how to tell you without ruining everything. You-”
“Voila. One handbag,” the bartender announces, setting it on the counter in front of them.
Lexa smiles in thanks and pulls it towards her. To her relief the client papers are still there along with Clarke’s notebook. She holds it out to the blonde and then chuckles to herself. Clarke throws her a puzzled look.
“Black Sock Wash?” Lexa questions amusedly.
Clarke stares blankly for a moment and then snorts. “Not an actual band, just a laundry reminder. I panicked,” she shrugs.
Lexa smiles genuinely for the first time since the bathroom incident. “You have no idea how relieved I am that ‘underground folk disco’ isn’t a real thing.”
Clarke holds her hands up in a ‘you got me’ gesture and returns her smile. “I could make it a thing?”
“Idiot,” Lexa says softly, grinning and shaking her head.
“Idiot,” Clarke agrees, her smile reaching her eyes.
Lexa holds her gaze for a long moment and feels some of the tension leave her body. This is why she’d had so much fun with Clarke to begin with. They just kind of...click. If she’s honest with herself, she never lets her guard down this quickly around anyone. That had been the problem with Clarke. She’d opened herself up to being hurt.
It’s a strange notion, certainly not the rational thoughts of a normal person, but she thinks perhaps they could start again. She’s not sold on religion but she’s a big believer in fate. Perhaps the universe dropped this weird and wonderful girl on her for a reason.
“Look Clarke, I-”
“Oh my God. Lexa? You’ve got to be kidding me?”
Lexa freezes. She knows that voice. It used to be the final thing she heard before she went to sleep and the first thing she heard when she woke up. It’s the absolute last thing she wants to hear right now. She stands up and sets her features into a neutral expression before she turns around to face her ex-wife.
Costia looks almost exactly the same as the last time she saw her over a year ago. Her dark hair is a little shorter and her lipstick a few shades deeper than she used to wear. The wedding ring is gone, of course, but the reason it’s gone is stood right next to Costia wearing a leather jacket and a smirk.
“What are you doing here?” Costia demands. “I thought we agreed.”
Lexa tries to remain calm but she’s been caught off guard and is flustered at best.
“W-what am I doing here? What are you doing here?”
Good one, Woods. Solid retort.
“Fuck off, Ontari.”
She stares down the woman to Costia’s left, not bothering to hide her contempt.
“I get this place between 5-10pm on Saturdays,” Costia says stiffly. “We agreed.”
“Oh did we?” Lexa feigns surprise. “I thought that was on Sundays.”
Costia’s eyes flash with anger as she pulls a diary from her purse. “I think we both know it’s not on Sundays.”
Lexa groans inwardly when she see’s that diary. Costia keeps a note of everything. Hair appointments, meetings, menstrual cycles, you name it. Too bad she didn’t keep a note of the gym schedule, Lexa thinks bitterly; else she could have gotten away with the affair for a long longer.
“Oh how I miss that pissy little diary of yours,” Lexa announces sarcastically. “Do you still mark the pages with a ‘W’ when it’s back waxing week?”
Cosita’s cheeks turn an impressive shade of red and she covers her mouth with her hand. Ontari’s eyes widen as she turns to look at her girlfriend in alarm.
“Whoops, guess she didn’t know,” Lexa shrugs. It’s petty but it makes her feel better.
She turns around to see Clarke watching the exchange with clear curiosity and gets an idea. Without hesitation she wraps an arm around Clarke’s shoulder and pulls her in close.
“This is Clarke, by the way,” Lexa announces with a smile. “My girlfriend. Clarke this is Costia, my ex wife, and Ontari, the woman she left me for.”
Clarke has the good grace to smile politely but Lexa can feel fingers digging into her skin from where the blonde’s hand rests on her hip. This is a ridiculous idea. Not as ridiculous as Clarke’s date-usurping, but still.
“Come on Lexa,” Ontari cautions. “Let’s be adults about this.”
In a perfect world, Lexa would like nothing more than to smack this woman in the face and get away with it. In reality all that would likely get her is a criminal record. Possibly a busted hand. But she’s still got her integrity and that’s more than she can say for the two women standing in front of her.
“You know what, Ontari? You’re right,” Lexa says brightly. “We’re all adults here. We’re all in the same bar with our new partners. Come on, let’s have a drink together.”
She glances at Clarke and smiles. Clarke looks like she’s screaming with her eyes and shakes her head ever so slightly.
“We’re all mature, stable adults,” Lexa continues, looking back to Costia who’s scowling. “Let’s do it. Have you got a table?”
“Yep,” Costia clips.
“Is it our table?” Lexa frowns, her smile slipping.
“Not anymore,” comes her ex-wife’s curt reply.
“Good,” Lexa nods, forcing her smile back into place. “Even better. Lead the way.”
Lexa smirks in satisfaction as the two of them walk towards the table looking extremely uncomfortable. Her smirk vanishes when she looks at Clarke and sees her grinning triumphantly. Well...that’s an odd reaction.
“Oh my god. You knew they were gonna be here,” Clarke declares, poking Lexa in the arm. “That’s why you brought me to this place earlier. To rub it in their faces! Oh that is sneaky, Lexa.”
“No, that’s why I brought Luna here, ok?” Lexa corrects, blushing heavily. “Then I came to my senses and we left but you left my bag here and-”
“You left your bag here,” Clarke interrupts.
“And we walked back into here and you came out of the toilets looking all...” Lexa makes a strangled noise, gesticulating frantically.
Clarke tilts her head to one side and gives her a curious smile.
“And I just thought...people have done worse things in the world and you are very good at pretending to be people you’re not,” Lexa babbles. “Plus you kind of owe me, Clarke.”
Clarke stares at her hard. She chews her lower lip as though contemplating the idea, looking over her shoulder to where Costia and Ontari are seated at a nearby table.
Clarke takes a deep breath and puffs her cheeks out. “Okay,” she agrees. “But what exactly are you trying to achieve here?”
Lexa smiles wryly. “I believe they call it closure.”
So Lexa is a bit of a dark horse - who knew.
Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you're enjoying the story so far.
Next time: the most awkward double date in history.
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Chapter 5: Shut up and dance
Everyone deals with the date from hell.
Mostly Clarke POV but some Lexa.
Thanks for all your comments and kudos on the last chapter - I am loving the feedback.
Equally, I hope you enjoy this chapter.
It's mainly Clarke but some Lexa as the date moves along.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Well this is nice, Clarke thinks as watches Lexa glare at Costia over the top of her beer bottle. And by nice she means totally fucking horrible. It’s excruciatingly uncomfortable and tense. No one has said a word since they sat down a few minutes ago and you could cut the atmosphere with a knife.
Honestly, what had Lexa been thinking asking her ex-wife and new partner to sit with them for a drink? It’s madness.
Clarke fishes an olive out of the small bowl of nibbles in the middle of the table and pops it in her mouth for something to do. She can’t imagine how awkward Lexa must feel for putting herself in this position. This is a special kind of self-torture.
As if its second nature, Lexa wraps an arm around her shoulder and pulls her in close. Clarke stiffens a little under her touch but maintains her smile nonetheless. Lexa’s hands are unbelievably soft and her skin tingles under her touch.
The next thing she feels is Lexa’s breath against the shell of her ear as the brunette leans in and whispers a barely audible, ‘please help me’. Her voice is so pleading, so raw, that Clarke doesn’t even hesitate before she hums to signify a resounding ‘yes.’
Costia narrows her eyes at the pair of them. “So how did you two meet?”
Clarke says ‘party’ at the same time Lexa says ‘work.’
“A work party,” Lexa clarifies as Clarke nods enthusiastically.
Wow, they are doing a truly spectacular job of messing this up already.
“So you work at Trikru & Co, too?” Costia presses, eyes scrutinising Clarke’s appearance. “I certainly wouldn’t have called that.”
“No, I uh, I am a...” Clarke stammers, struggling to think of a believable lie. Her eyes land on the fire extinguisher on the wall opposite. “...firewoman. I’m a firewoman.”
Lexa chokes on her beer.
Ok, so that wasn’t the most convincing lie but fuck it, she’s going to commit to it now.
“There was a fire,” Lexa intones helpfully.
“Yep, there was a fire at her office party,” Clarke breezes causally, “and then in our pants.”
Clarke feels Lexa shaking with silent laughter beside her and wills herself not to grin as Costia’s expression darkens. She’s already predisposed to dislike this woman on principal, but honestly, Lexa’s ex-wife seems like a total dick. And that girlfriend she has isn’t any better. Clarke’s already caught the woman leering at her chest more than once since they sat down.
“And you, Costia?” Clarke continues as if she hasn’t just said something wildly inappropriate. “What is it that you do?”
Costia immediately straightens up and her lip curls into a smirk. “I’m an account manager at a leading PR firm.”
“Mindblowing ,” Clarke deadpans. “And what about you, Ontari?”
“Oh I’m a merchant banker,” Ontari says, looking delighted to have been included in the conversation.
“Here’s an interesting fact,” Lexa chimes in, “did you know merchant banker is cockney rhyming slang for wanker?”
Costia scoffs and rolls her eyes. Lexa coolly raises a sculpted eyebrow in her direction as she takes another sip of beer. Clarke watches on with barely concealed amusement.
“I’m just saying it’s a fact,” Lexa shrugs. “I’m not lying. Did you know that, Clarke?”
“I did not,” Clarke says feigning surprise. “How interesting.”
“It’s been a year,” Costia mutters under her breath.
“Oh it’s not the first time I’ve heard that one,” Ontari admits, missing the insult aimed directly at her. “The cockney language is a funny old thing.”
Clarke can’t help but think that somewhere a village is being deprived of their idiot. Why Costia would cheat on Lexa with this woman she will never know. The differences between the two of them are staggering and Clarke knows who she’d rather come home to, hands down. Hypothetically speaking, of course.
“First time I’ve ever heard it,” Clarke reiterates, smiling at Lexa warmly.
Lexa smiles back before she frowns and turns her attention back to her ex-wife. “Anyway it’s been more than a year, Costia. It’ll be 14 months on Tuesday,” she says coldly.
Clarke cringes to herself. Yikes. Clearly Lexa is still understandably angry about the situation. Clarke can’t blame her. She can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must be, thinking you’ll be with someone forever only to find your home, your family, your world...all ruined in one day.
She can’t imagine loving someone that much, period. She came close once but that, like so many relationships she’s seen, turned out to be built on broken promises. That’s her outlook and she’s sticking to it.
“Not that I’ve been keeping score of the days since I came home to find you screwing someone else in our bed,” Lexa scathes before downing the last of her beer. “Excuse me. I have to go to the bathroom.”
Clarke watches with a lump in her throat as Lexa makes a hurried exit from their table, bumping into a waiter and sending his tray of drinks and nibbles flying in her haste. She throws an apology over her shoulder and then stalks off in the direction of the bathrooms. Clarke can’t be sure but she thinks she might have seen tears welling in those captivating green eyes.
Then all of a sudden she’s left alone with two total strangers. She can’t say she’s surprised to find herself in this kind of situation. It’s been a wild day. So far she’s stolen a date, done physical exercise for the first time in forever and begged some random guy on the street for his bike whilst shoving £50 into his hand. It isn’t even 9pm yet.
Now this, pretending to be the adoring girlfriend of a woman she met just 6 hours earlier, is the icing on the cake. Fucking hell Griffin, she thinks, you’ve truly outdone yourself this time.
Clarke turns her attention back to the table just in time to see Costia hold her head in her hands and hiss a barely audible “for fucks sake” under her breath. It makes her blood boil.
“This was bound to happen,” Ontari points out, rubbing Costia’s back. “We were bound to bump into her sooner or later.”
Costia looks up and her gaze locks with Clarke’s. “She always does this. Sort of blackmails people with her feelings. It’s a total overreaction,” Costia explains as Clarke frowns. “Lexa’s a very emotional woman.”
Clarke tilts her head to the side. This bitch is unbelievable. If anything Lexa’s earlier outburst, if it can even be called that, was a total under reaction. Clarke doesn’t see how being upset over the woman you loved cheating on you is emotional blackmail at all. It’s a perfectly natural reaction. One that Lexa had handled with more grace and decorum than Clarke herself could ever have mustered.
She makes up her mind there and then. She is going to take this pair of morons down a peg or two. Maybe three.
“So...question,” Clarke says, pausing to take a sip of her whiskey sour. “You two had an affair?” she asks, indicating her glass at each of them.
Costia gives Ontari a nauseating smile. “We fell in love,” she simpers.
“Yeah but you had an affair?” Clarke repeats pointedly .
“The marriage was on the rocks anyway,” Ontari defends. “Cos would have left her eventually.”
“...But you did have an affair?” Clarke deadpans.
She stares them down until they both squirm uncomfortably and avert their gazes.
“Yes,” Costia mutters lowly.
“Right. Guess Lexa is just an emotional woman,” Clarke says flatly, draining the last of her drink.
Costia snaps her head up to shoot her a glare that could stop traffic. Clarke isn’t at all phased. In fact, she feels an enormous sense of satisfaction at having riled this thoroughly unpleasant woman. She makes the decision to up her game just as Lexa returns from the bathroom.
Lexa sighs as she sits down. “Look, that was immat-”
“Baby, I missed you,” Clarke pouts. She throws her arms around Lexa’s shoulders and presses a wet kiss to her cheek. “You were gone way too long.”
Lexa looks stunned for a beat, blinking dumbly. She opens her mouth to speak but Clarke takes the opportunity to shove one of the olives in her mouth and silences her with a subtle warning look. Lexa chews slowly and Clarke turns back to Costia and Ontari with a bright smile.
“So what rating are you two lovebirds on?” Clarke asks innocently.
“Rating?” Costia frowns.
“Yeah, rating. Sexually speaking,” Clarke breezes casually. “Cause Lexa and I...God, we’re still pretty much in porno land.”
Lexa coughs and spits out the olive pit in shock. Clarke, cool as a cucumber, caches it in mid-air and throws it over her shoulder, still smiling succinctly at Costia all the while.
“Porno land?” Ontari echoes.
“Uh-huh,” Clarke nods, one arm still slung over Lexa’s shoulder. “Shall I explain?”
“Please do,” Lexa urges hoarsely.
“Ok, so you know how when you first start sleeping with a woman, you pretty much act like a porn star?” Clarke begins, met with three bemused expressions. “Like you just can’t stop touching each other so you just do it everywhere. I mean literally everywhere. Backseat of her car, under the pier at the beach, her office desk, against the back wall of a club...Like you just can’t get enough, right?
Clarke pauses to take a breath and watches everyone’s reactions. Costia isn’t so much glaring as trying to murder her with her eyes. Ontari looks overly invested in the conversation. And Lexa...Lexa is looking at her with a mix of awe and amusement, a wide grin stretching across her face. Perfect, Clarke thinks.
Clarke keeps her eyes locked on Lexa’s as she continues. “It’s like, remember that time you said we should do that thing? And I was like no we shouldn’t, I can’t bend that way.”
“I do,” Lexa confirms, grinning wider still. “It worked though.”
“It did,” Clarke confirms. “I mean at first I was a little scared because I couldn’t see but then, God, you flipped it. And I was like ‘please don’t stop, Lexa. Please don’t fucking stop, Lexa!’” she cries, slamming her palm against the table for effect.
She pauses again, letting the stunned silence hang for a moment or two.
“And that’s when you think ‘our life is always gonna be like a porn film,” Clarke sighs, resting her elbows on the table. “But then inevitably after you’ve been together for a while you tone it down a bit. The sex becomes less passionate and less frequent until all of a sudden we’ve got ourselves a PG-13 situation. Before you know it you’re wearing tartan pyjamas and doing the ‘goodnight’ roll-over before you can say ‘missionary position.’ Right?”
Ontari nods and receives a sharp elbow to the ribs from Costia who remains tight-lipped and looks on the verge of a meltdown. Lexa looks as though all her Christmases have come at once.
“That’s a brilliant theory,” Lexa remarks.
“Thank you,” Clarke grins, turning to face her.
She drapes both arms over Lexa’s shoulders and leans in until their faces are only inches apart.
“But you know what, Lexa?” Clarke asks seductively, looking deep into green eyes. “I think you and I are gonna be in Porno Land for a lot longer than usual.”
Lexa’s gaze drops to her lips and Clarke feels her breath hitch. When their eyes meet again, Lexa’s pupils are a hell of a lot more dilated than they had been moments ago and Clarke can feel the soft puff of Lexa’s breath against her own lips. She swears Lexa is leaning forwards, ever so slightly as if in slow motion. She holds her breath, heart hammering uncontrollably in her chest as she does the same.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Costia sneers, doing exactly that. “But do you think you could stop eye-fucking each other? It’s pretty disrespectful when we have to sit here watching it.”
“Is it as disrespectful as actually fucking someone else in the marital bed?” Lexa retorts without missing a beat.
Oh no, Clarke thinks as she comes crashing out of the moment. Costia’s eyes have narrowed and Lexa’s jaw is clenched as her nostrils flare. It was all going so well until reality kicked in. She’s not Lexa’s girlfriend and they’re not in love but she does, so to speak, ‘owe her one.’ This is going to get very ugly, very fast if she doesn’t do something. She can’t think over the noise of the music.
Hold on, the music...
“Hey, this is our song!” Clarke cries, smiling widely as she leaps up from her seat. She has no idea what this song is. “Maybe we should dance, come on Lexa.”
Clarke avoids Costia’s burning stare and Ontari’s bemused expression as she drags Lexa from her seat by the elbow and ushers her onto the dance floor.
“What are you doing?” Lexa hisses as Clarke pulls her along.
Clarke drops her hand as they reach the edge of the dance floor and turns to face her. Lexa looks over her shoulder to see Costia still glaring at them from the table. The next thing she feels is a pair of soft hands cupping her cheeks as Clarke gently but firmly turns her head back to face her.
“Stopping you from making a fool of yourself in front of your ex-wife by using the medium of dance,” Clarke replies, with a wry smile. “You need to calm down, she’s not worth it. I’m going to slow dance you into submission.”
Lexa blinks dumbly as Clarke stands there expectantly. She doesn’t even know this song. It’s the kind they usually play in bars towards the end of the night when everyone’s paired up and they’re waiting for the music to end so they can take each other home. The DJ in here sucks.
“You’re going to need to put your hands on my waist for it to work,” Clarke insists, doing exactly that.
Lexa tries to pretend she doesn’t notice how natural it feels with her hands resting on Clarke’s hips as the blonde drapes her arms over her shoulders. Mercifully there’s a little space between their bodies so her brain doesn’t implode entirely. She drops her gaze to the floor as Clarke slowly moves them to the music.
“I’m such an idiot,” Lexa mutters.
“You’re not,” Clarke protests, shaking her head. “You’re not an idiot. You know it’s always better to be the one who’s cheated on though, right?”
Lexa quirks her eyebrow.
“Yeah because then you never have to regret anything,” Clarke explains, lacing her hands behind Lexa’s neck. “She’s got to live with that mistake for the rest of her life. You’ve got nothing to feel guilty about.”
“Yeah but it’s not as simple as that is it?” Lexa counters.
“It will be,” Clarke assures. “It’ll just take time. Your hands are slipping down my arse.”
Lexa looks down. Oops, Clarke’s right. Her hands have, of their own accord, wandered where they shouldn’t.
“Sorry,” Lexa cringes, moving her hands to their original position. “Old habit.”
“It’s fine,” Clarke mutters as they continue their languid dance.
“It’s just, I can’t believe I didn’t notice it for so long. She was going behind my back for months,” Lexa sighs.
“It’s rough. I know it’s rough,” Clarke says sympathetically. “Hands, arse.”
Clarke arches her eyebrow pointedly and Lexa realises her hands have wandered again. Dammit. She immediately moves them back to the safety of Clarke’s waist.
Clarke cocks her head and smirks. “I bet you proposed in front of the Eifel tower.”
Lexa chuckles to herself. “It was the Pont des Arts Bridge actually,” she corrects. “We put our padlock on the bridge and then I got down on one knee.”
“Spent about a year planning the big day?”
“Twenty grand all-in?”
“Little bit more actually.”
“And lets not forget about the ring.”
“Yeah it was four grand. And we had to get it changed because she hated the first one I picked.”
“You spent 24 thousand pounds on a party and some jewellery,” Clarke says disbelievingly, shaking her head.
“It was a grand gesture!” Lexa argues. “What’s the point in life if you can’t make a sweeping romantic gesture every now and then? What’s the point if you’re not up for stuff like that?”
She can feel herself getting wound-up as the song begins to fade out. Frankly, Clarke’s scepticism of her past behaviour is getting on her nerves. So what, she spent a ton of money? She was in love. People in love do stupid things. She would have given Costia the moon back then if she had asked.
“A grand gesture that amounted to nothing,” Clarke deadpans. “Hands, arse.”
Lexa tears her hands away and takes a step back, scowling at Clarke.
“God, you’re such a fucking cynic!” Lexa accuses.
“You’re such a fucking romantic!” Clarke counters.
The song changes to something more upbeat as she stares Clarke down. She recognises it immediately as “Shut up and Dance.” It’s one of the few pop songs she actually likes. Clarke’s eye catches hers and there’s a flicker of something that could be amusement before she starts dancing. Lexa hates dancing but it’s either that or go back and sit with Costia and Ontari at the table of pain and betrayal. She joins in.
“The thing is,” Clarke begins as she moves along to the music, “is you put so much emphasis on one big day that you forget about, whoops, the rest of your life.”
“What’s wrong with having a big day?” Lexa argues, side-stepping a particularly enthusiastic dancer. “I mean look at your parents. Married 30 years? I bet they had a big day.”
Clarke shakes her head as she moves a few steps closer. “Nope. They got married in a registry office. 10 guests and they had their wedding reception at the pub over the road. They decided it was more important to concentrate on the promises they were making.”
Lexa feels her back hit the wall. She hadn’t even realised she’d been backing up. Clarke places her hands on the wall either side of her head and looks at her hard, waiting for a retort.
So this is what her life has come to? Passive aggressively dancing with an attractive almost-stranger to make her ex-wife jealous. It’s a perplexing feeling: being angry with someone whist simultaneously being entranced by the sway of their hips.
“Don’t you think that’s why I wanted?” Lexa counters, ducking beneath Clarke’s arms and twisting around. “When you get married you make a promise to love someone forever. It’s difficult but I believed I could do it so I went for it. I’ll never regret that. Which is more you can say...sat there on your single perch with all your judgements!”
Clarke reels around, still dancing. “They’re not judgements. They’re theories. It’s a different thing!” she insists.
“Whatever,” Lexa mutters as the chorus kicks in.
She throws herself into the beat of the song and tries to dance out her aggression. It must look a little alarming because Clarke’s staring at her, halfway between amused and confused. Whatever. Lexa is fuming because how dare Clarke assume to know her. They met hours ago. Clarke knows nothing about her life before tonight or how it feels to be in love and have your heart broken. She refuses to be a part of some ridiculous cynical theory.
So how she finds herself dancing with Clarke again, their fingers intertwined as Lexa spins her around, is anyone’s guess.
“You know what your problem is, Clarke?”
“You spend so much time on the sideline theorising about what does and doesn’t work that you never put yourself out there. You never take any chances.”
Clarke scoffs as she spins again. “I happen to think my actions today could be considered quite chancy, really.”
“Oh really?” Lexa challenges, turning them so that Clarke’s back is pressed into her front.
Her hands are resting on Clarke’s hips and as she leans in, her nose grazes her neck. It’s wildly inappropriate. She’s angry and frustrated and honestly, more than a little turned on. It makes for a very confusing mix of emotions.
“Yeah,” Clarke answers a little breathlessly.
“You need to take a good look at yourself, Clarke,” Lexa breathes harshly into her ear, not missing the way Clarke shudders against her. “I married that woman over here. And yeah, she tore out my heart. But I’m still standing. I’m still putting myself out there!”
Clarke falters. “Ok, I err-”
“And who are you to say my marriage was doomed from the start?” Lexa questions, ignoring Clarke’s protests. “Who are you to say the girl I met tonight, the girl I was supposed to meet tonight, wasn’t the woman of my dreams?” she continues, her voice wavering.
This is all getting too much. She can feel the aching pull in her chest and the tears forming in her eyes.
“You know what?” Lexa hisses, taking a step back from Clarke. “You need to leave me to my sad single-life crisis and keep your cynical opinions and theories to yourself,” she says as her voice cracks.
She turns on her heel and stalks across the dance floor without so much as a backwards glance. Anya was wrong. Putting herself back out there was futile after all.
Clarke sways on the spot a little as she stares at Lexa’s retreating form.
She’s really done it this time. Finally pushed Lexa too far and genuinely upset her. Why couldn’t she have just stuck with the flirty banter? That was working fine. But no, she had to go ahead and critically evaluate Lexa’s love life in front of her.
It’s not fair and she knows it. She knows next to nothing about Lexa. Everything she’s said has come from her own experience or from witnessing some of the awful relationships Raven and Octavia have had over the years. Though saying that, her friends seem to have found people worth being with. Octavia’s about to get married. Raven was immediately taken with her new girlfriend. It’s just Clarke who remains cynical towards the idea of love.
Cynical. That’s what she is. Cynical and stupid. She needs to fix this.
“Lexa?” Clarke calls as she enters the bathroom.
A group of women touching-up their make up by the sinks turn to glance at her. She offers them a tight lipped smile as she walks by, knocking lightly on each stall as she goes.
She’d been in here herself only an hour before. Desperately trying to fix the mess the rain had made of her hair. She’d also turned on her phone and seen the 12 missed calls and 20 messages from Raven asking where she was. When she’d tried to call back there was no answer. Raven was probably busy with the party. The party she should be at right now.
Lexa was right. She really does need to think about her motivations for doing things and not doing things.
“Lexa?” Clarke calls again, pushing on the door of the final stall.
Its not locked and when the door swings open, Lexa is sitting there with her head in her hands. She looks up briefly before dropping her gaze and Clarke feels her stomach swoop with guilt when she sees the brunette is crying.
“Hi,” Clarke says nervously as she steps into the stall and closes the door gently behind her. “Nice place you got here. Cosy,” she tries, attempting humour.
Lexa doesn’t smile but she doesn’t tell her to get out either so Clarke takes that as a good sign. She sinks down onto the floor, not daring to think about all the grime and germs that it’s sure to be covered in.
“I’m sorry,” Clarke says after a minute. “I’ve had a bad relationship run over the past couple of years and it’s made me...not a very positive person.”
Lexa looks up at her and sniffs. She wipes her eyes with the back of her hands and looks at Clarke expectantly.
Clarke takes a deep breath and exhales slowly. “I overanalyse and I come up with these...elaborate theories and make monumentally bad decisions. I'm sorry. I had no right.”
Lexa gives her a sad half-smile and shakes her head. “I’ve gotta move on with my life. I mean she’s out there and she’s happy...and I’m just..holding on,” she chokes out a sob.
Clarke leans forward and rests her hand on Lexa’s knee. “Ok, A, I wouldn’t say she’s exactly happy. I mean she lost you and gained Ontari. That’s like losing a pound and finding a penny.”
Lexa lets out a noise halfway between a sob and a laugh.
“And, B, you’re not holding onto her. You’re holding onto a feeling,” Clarke reasons gently. “That feeling will eventually pass. I promise.”
Lexa looks up at her and nods. Clarke is relieved to see she’s stopped crying.
“Look, maybe I was wrong. Maybe dating a girl who reads self-help books and wears gross chintz sweaters is exactly what you need right now.”
Lexa chuckles lowly. “You’ve changed your tune.”
Clarke smiles. “Yeah well, she doesn’t seem like she has a lot of baggage. I myself, am way over my baggage allowance,” she jokes. “I’ve been single for four years. Prior to that I spent two years with someone who I thought was in love with me.”
“What happened?” Lexa questions, furrowing her brow.
“He ended it. Out of the blue,” Clarke shrugs. “Said he wanted to travel the world and find himself. I was in my final year of university. I couldn’t just drop everything and go, you know?”
“Anyway he found himself in East London six months later,” Clarke continues bitterly. “Shacked up with some new woman. I’m mean I’m over it obviously, It’s jus-”
“Yeah you really sound it,” Lexa cuts in smiling wryly.
“I am,” Clarke insists. “Apart from one thing. One thing I’m not sure I can ever get over.”
“What?” Lexa asks.
“He err...he changed the password on his Netflix account,” Clarke says flatly.
Lexa looks her dead in the eye for a long moment then bursts out laughing. Clarke joins her, their laughter echoing off the tiled walls around them. Clarke feels the tension leaving her body as Lexa’s cheeks turn pink and a huge grin makes its way onto her face.
“You’re right. That is unforgivable,” Lexa agrees once she’s composed herself. “So what is it you actually do, Clarke?”
“I work in admin, that wasn’t a lie. And I really do want to be an artist,” Clarke says.
“Makes sense that you’d be a creative-type with all those theories,” Lexa jokes.
“Yeah, well...I wouldn’t really listen to me. I’m not exactly the poster child for relationship advice,” Clarke holds her hands up.
“Really?” Lexa scoffs. “I’m 28, already divorced and crying in a toilet.”
Clarke meets Lexa’s eyes. She slides her hand into Lexa’s own and gives it a reassuring squeeze.
“You are just...you’re an emotional jigsaw at the moment. But you’re gonna piece yourself back together,” Clarke smiles lightly. “You’ve got to start with the corner pieces, then the edges. Look for the blue bits.”
Lexa’s still looking into her eyes, her bottom lip trembling slightly. “Where do I find these blue bits?” she asks quietly.
Clarke’s gaze flits from Lexa’s eyes, to her lips and back again. Her heart skips and beat and she feels that same pulling sensation from earlier. The one that’s got her leaning in to Lexa ever so slowly. She wonders if Lexa feels it too. Then she decides not to think at all and-
“Took me three years to get over my ex. I burned his clothes”
Clarke’s head snaps up as she searches for the source of the interruption. Above them there’s a girl leaning over the cubical divider. Well, thanks for ruining what could have been a moment, you asshole, Clarke thinks to herself.
“Shall we get out of here?” Lexa asks, corners of her mouth twitching in amusement.
Clarke nods. Probably a good idea to get out of the bathroom. There’s too many rogue emotions flying around in here.
Of course Costia and Ontari are standing directly in front of the bar when they emerge from the bathroom. Of course they couldn’t make a stealthy getaway. That is absolutely typical.
“Hey where have you two been?” Ontari grins as they approach.
“Being inappropriate in the toilets no doubt,” Costia sneers
Clarke stares her down and Lexa does the same. God this woman really is abhorrent.
“How about some shots?” Ontari suggests. “Seeing as we’re all having a drink together.”
“Actually we’re gonna go,” Lexa says. “We’ve got somewhere else to be.”
“One for the road then,” Ontari insists as she turns to the bartender to order drinks.
Clarke rolls her eyes. She wants to leave and she wants to leave now. If she never sees this pair of awful human beings again then, well, that would be just peachy. She can see Ontari is ordering some sort of flaming shot and nudges Lexa to pick two up before they’re lit by the bartender. She really doesn’t need to add flaming alcohol to her evening.
“You look as though you’ve been crying,” Costia observes, eyes scanning Lexa’s features.
Lexa picks up two shots from the bar and hands one to Clarke. “I have been crying actually-”
“-with laughter,” Clarke supplies. “Have you ever tried fucking in a bathroom stall? It’s pretty funny. I’m pretty sure I left my knickers in there.”
Costia’s face flushes and Clarke sends her a smug smile before she turns away. She wraps an arm around Lexa’s waist and pulls her in close.
“She doesn’t need to know the real reason you were crying,” Clarke whispers against the skin of Lexa’s neck.
“Did you want to leave you knickers in there?” Lexa murmurs cheekily.
“Focus, Lexa,” Clarke chides as she pulls back a little and smiles.
Lexa returns the gesture and holds up her shot glass.
“After this shot, you are going to be better, happier, stronger, wiser,” Clarke declares, holding up her own glass.
“After this shot, I am going to be better, happier, stronger, wiser and finally moving on,” Lexa agrees.
“Fuck the past right?” Clarke smirks.
“Fuck the past,” Lexa grins.
They clink glasses and Lexa downs her shot. Clarke sniffs hers and recoils. It’s sambuca. There’s no way she’s drinking that. She’s spent too many mornings throwing up because of sambuca. She chucks the liquid over her shoulder instead of drinking it.
Unfortunately she didn’t look where she was throwing it because it splashes into Ontari’s eyes the woman grunts and flails comically. The next thing Clarke knows, the sleeve of Ontari’s jacket is on fire and the bartender is frantically trying to pat the flames out.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry!” Clarke cries.
“Do something, you’re the bloody firewoman!” Costia shouts. “Put the fucking fire out.”
Oh right. Yeah. Definitely not the best lie to have used.
Clarke looks to Lexa for guidance but the brunette is too busy laughing to be of any help.
A second later the barman is shoving a fire extinguisher into her hands. The crowd that have gathered around are looking at her expectantly.
Clarke aims the nozzle of the extinguisher at Ontari and prepares to pull the trigger. Then she has a wicked idea. At the last second she points the hose at Costia instead and lets loose. Costia ends up being doused head to toe in foam. At this point she’s just an angry pair of eyes poking out beneath the coating of white liquid. Lexa’s laughter drowns out Costia’s screech of frustration.
Clarke smirks and then manages to successfully put out the flames on Ontari’s jacket. There’s a smattering of applause as she sheepishly hands the extinguisher back to the bartender.
Clarke slowly turns to Lexa raises her eyebrows. “Look Lexa, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t ha-”
“Don’t be,” Lexa cuts her off, pressing a finger to Clarke’s lips. “That was thee best thing I’ve ever seen.”
It’s all Clarke can do to smile and pretend her lips aren’t tingling from where Lexa’s finger rests. She might just have saved this date yet. Maybe they can look past all the horrible things that have happened up to this point.
Clarke glances over Lexa’s shoulder and sees Onatri pointlessly trying to wipe Costia down with a bar napkin. Costia’s eyes meet hers and they flash with anger. Clarke lets out a snort of laughter and grabs Lexa’s hand.
“Come on. Let’s get out of here before your ex-wife takes her revenge,” Clarke says, pulling Lexa towards the door.
Lexa follows her without hesitation, still grinning like an idiot.
Thanks for reading - your feedback is always welcome. Please let me know if you're liking the story!
I have potentially another 2 chapters left of this fic.
Next time: Lexa makes a questionable decision and so does Clarke.
Chapter 6: You're gonna need a bigger boat
The evening continues with mixed POV
Each chapter I'm gonna start by thanking you guys because the feedback has been awesome :D
So glad you are liking this little story so far & I love seeing the kudos and comments - you guys are great <3
That being said, I hope you told your hearts to buckle-up because they're in for a rough ride with this chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Clarke grasps Lexa’s shoulder with one hand, almost doubled over with laughter as they stumble down the street. Their situation has only been made funnier by the fact that Lexa had to dash back inside for their bags and make a stealthy escape via the fire exit. She’d emerged into the alley dramatically humming the Mission Impossible theme tune and holding their bags up like priceless artefacts.
Clarke hasn’t stopped laughing for a solid five minutes. Her cheeks ache and her lungs burn in the best possible way. She looks sideways at Lexa and sees the brunette is in a similar state, her eyes bright and her smile a mile wide. It gives her a warm feeling in her stomach.
“How was that for closure?” Lexa asks when the giggling subsides.
“That’s a textbook example right there,” Clarke grins.
“I mean it had it all!” Lexa exclaims. “Denial, depression, acceptance-”
“-Fire,” Clarke adds. “So much fire.”
“Oh there was definitely a lot of that,” Lexa says with a wink.
Clarke blushes and drops her gaze to the floor as they continue in the direction of Kings Cross station. She feels elated as they walk along side by side, shoulders brushing against each other occasionally. This is has been hands-down the craziest day of her life. It’s also been one of the best.
Despite pretending to be someone else for half of it, and despite the blazing arguments, she’s had an amazing time with Lexa. They just sort of...click. Obviously not in the conventional sense (nothing about this day has been conventional) but she feels like there’s this invisible pull between them. Like they shouldn’t work but they do. Like they’ve barely scratched the surface of what could be. She kind of doesn’t want this night to end.
“So where to next?” Lexa questions as they walk up the steps to the station.
“Hmm what time is it?” Clarke asks.
Lexa glances at her watch. “It’s almost ten.”
“Shit. I’d better check in at home,” Clarke says as she pulls her phone out of her coat pocket. “My parents probably think I’ve been kidnapped or something.”
Lexa chuckles as she pulls her own phone out of her pocket and switches it on.
Clarke looks down at her screen. Three more missed calls and a text from Raven who threatens to “kick her fine ass” if she doesn’t call soon. She curses under her breath. She really should get to the party. She’s put it off for long enough and it’s time to stop neglecting her responsibilities.
10 o’clock. If she leaves now she can be there on a train in 20 minutes. She’ll swing by the 24-hour bakery and pick up some of that expensive chocolate cheesecake her parents love so much. Perhaps if she walks in bearing gifts that’ll smooth things over a little.
Only that plan involves leaving Lexa.
Or does it?
This night has been absolutely farcical by anyone’s standards. Would it be crazy to invite Lexa to her parent’s 30th anniversary party full of her family and friends? Yes. Would it be any crazier than some of the other things she’s done today? No. Actually, it’s comparatively tame.
Then she remembers Lexa’s comment from earlier, the one about her sitting on the sidelines and not putting herself out there. It resonates in her mind and although she feels nervous, she knows what she has to do. Take more chances, right?
Lexa’s staring at her phone screen. Since she turned it back on, it’s been lighting up with notifications non-stop. Now the brunette is furiously typing away as they meander along.
“So I- I think I’d better finally head to my parent’s anniversary party,” Clarke begins nervously. “And this is a crazy idea but I was wondering if you-”
“Sorry, hold on a sec,” Lexa mutters distractedly as her phone dings again.
“If you wanted to join...uh...cause it might be nice to...not go alone for a change?” Clarke continues cautiously.
Lexa doesn’t appear to have heard, eyes still glued on her phone with her brow furrowed. She’s totally engrossed in whatever she’s reading.
Clarke swallows the lump that’s formed in her throat. “And uh, you don’t have to...but if-”
“Oh my God...she’s called and texted like...a lot,” Lexa breathes out, finally looking at Clarke.
“Who has?” Clarke frowns.
Ah yes, that fly in the ointment. She had almost forgotten about that completely.
“Yeah. She said she spoke to Anya and there’s obviously been some sort of misunderstanding. She still wants to meet up,” Lexa says, smiling and shaking her head. “Can you believe it?”
No, Clarke thinks as the world comes screeching to a halt. No. She can’t believe it. She feels as though she’s been punched in the stomach when Lexa’s face lights up hopefully.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, Luna is the woman she was supposed to meet, the woman who is supposed to be a perfect match for her. They’ve been pretending all this time, haven’t they? It shouldn’t come as a surprise but it does. It knocks her for six. As such she reverts back to her default setting; defensive sarcasm.
“You stood her up and she still wants to meet up?” Clarke scoffs. “What is she a loser?”
“Technically you stood her up,” Lexa teases as they walk along. “Anyway she seems like kind of a go-getter which means she isn’t a total cynic like you...like us, yet.”
“Ah yes, this is your Oxford Grad obsession again isn’t it?” Clarke teases back, though her tone borders on bitter.
Lexa stops walking. “Hang on, you said she might be exactly what I need right now,” she counters, her smile slipping a little.
Dammit, she did say that.
“When?” Clarke asks, feigning confusion.
“Like half an hour ago in the bathroom,” Lexa answers. She tilts her head to the side. “So what’s your theory on this one, Clarke?”
“My theory?” Clarke asks, arching an eyebrow.
Honestly, she’s trying to keep it together but this is all going so wrong so fast.
“Yeah, your theory,” Lexa presses. “I want to hear it. Come on. Is it girl meets girl or is it girl doesn’t meet girl?”
Clarke gives Lexa a pained smile but says nothing because really, what can she say? Don’t go and meet Luna because I don’t want you to? She can’t. That would be selfish.
“I mean come on, this is where you tell me what to do,” Lexa says, grinning and gesticulating animatedly. “And then we argue and then there’s a bit of back and forth banter and then eventually I-”
Clarke turns on her heel and walks away. She can’t listen to any more. And she certainly can’t give Lexa dating advice. It’s too much. It’s all too much.
“Hey wait,” Lexa hurries after her.
“What for?” Clarke retorts, still walking.
“Because all night you’ve had these theories and opinions and now suddenly you’ve got nothing to say,” Lexa points out.
Clarke stops abruptly and spins around to face her. “What do you want, Lexa? Do you want my permission or something?” she challenges mockingly.
Lexa looks taken aback. “No...no, I just-”
“Ok, well then I think you should meet Luna,” Clarke shrugs.
She’s being petulant and she knows it. But that’s easier than admitting the truth isn’t it?
“Yeah but...that’s not what...” Lexa falters.
“What are you waiting for?” Clarke asks, looking to the ceiling as though it will provide her with a solution.
She closes her eyes for a second. If Lexa just says it, if she feels the same, it will make things so much easier. She can only hope Lexa does because she can’t find it within herself to say it. The risk of being hurt and humiliated is too great.
Lexa smiles and shakes her head. “What am I waiting for?” A beat passes. “I don’t know, Clarke...I don’t know what I’m waiting for.”
A pregnant silence stretches on for so long that Clarke almost can’t bare it.
“Fine, I’ll meet Luna,” Lexa finally says.
God this is fucking catastrophic, Clarke thinks. It’s the opposite of what she wants. What she wants to do is tell Lexa not to go. What she wants to do is take her to the party and introduce her to her family and friends. What she wants to do is kiss her in a quiet corner out of sight. They can laugh about what a ridiculous day this has been but agree it’s alright now because they found each other out of all of this.
She doesn’t say any of that. Instead she smiles as if she isn’t doing some complicated mental gymnastics to convince herself that this is fine.
“Ok, great. Are you meeting her here or...?” Clarke asks, pointing to the station clock above them.
It’s the same clock they met under. She supposes that would be poetic were it not so tragic.
“Ah there it is,” Lexa says, glancing upwards.
There’s a few seconds of awkward silence between them before Clarke comes to her senses.
“You can give this back to her then,” Clarke says as she reaches into her bag.
She holds out Luna’s copy of ‘Six Billion People and You’ for Lexa to take.
“Oh, she brought another copy.”
“Of course she did.”
Clarke laughs nervously as she shoves the book into her bag. As soon as she passes a bin this book is going straight in it. It’s the reason she’s in this situation in the first place.
“I uh, I haven’t actually read it,” Lexa admits.
“Maybe we should have,” Clarke shrugs.
“So umm,” Lexa begins. It’s her turn to laugh nervously now. “Is that everything?”
A beat passes.
“Anyway, so sorry for derailing your date,” Clarke apologises, smiling wryly.
Lexa smiles back. “I’m kinda glad you did. Else I’d have nothing to talk about on the next one,” she jokes.
Clarke chuckles. “Yeah it is a good anecdote I suppose. I’ll probably use it in future myself.”
Her eyes meet Lexa’s and she feels a peculiar ache in her chest when she looks into green orbs flecked with gold and she realises that this is it. They’ll probably never see each other again.
“So uh, take care of yourself, Clarke,” Lexa says, offering her hand out.
Clarke pauses before she shakes it and nods. “It’s what I do best.”
Lexa’s hand is still in her own and the brunette is looking at her strangely. Clarke can’t quite place it. Whatever it is its too intense so she looks away and mutters a final ‘bye then’ as she turns to leave.
She feels a sharp tug on her sleeve and spins back around. In one fluid movement Lexa steps forward and places a lingering kiss on her cheek before pulling away. It’s just like Clarke’s seen in so many movies. Except now Lexa won’t meet her eyes and seems intensely fascinated by her own shoes.
The voice inside Clarke’s head is screaming, ‘Just tell her you idiot. Tell her she’s the best thing to happen to you in years... maybe ever. Just tell her you like her and you don’t want her to go.’
But she can’t. Her life isn’t a rom-com and this isn’t their happy ending. This is reality.
Clarke lets go of Lexa’s hand and turns once more to walk towards the ticket barriers.
“I’ll facebook you!” Lexa calls after her.
Clarke turns but keeps walking backwards. “I’m not on facebook!” she grins.
“Idiot,” Lexa grins back, shaking her head.
“Idiot,” Clarke echoes before she turns away once again.
It’s not until Clarke sinks into her seat on the train that the gravity of what just happened hits her. Why did walking away from Lexa hurt more than when her ex-boyfriend deserted her? She was supposed to be in love with him. She knew him for years. She’s known Lexa all of 10 hours. It’s ridiculous.
“Idiot,” she mutters quietly to herself.
Anyway, Lexa’s gone. She let her go. Then again, Lexa was never hers to begin with. They’re not lovers or girlfriends or even friends. Hell, Clarke wasn’t even her date.
There’s an unpleasant ache in her chest when she pictures Lexa spending the rest of her evening with Luna. Talking about all the things they have in common and laughing about this whole big mix-up, Clarke herself reduced to nothing more than a funny anecdote. Still it’s nothing compared to the way her stomach twists when she imagines Lexa kissing Luna goodnight.
She wonders how Lexa kisses. Gentle and slow, probably. Careful, too. Taking her time as she leans in closer and those soft, supple lips part to-
No. She absolutely cannot and will not think about that. It’s torturous.
To distract herself she pulls out her phone and dials Raven’s number. The line rings three times before her best friend picks up.
“Clarke, you asshole!” Raven yells into the receiver. “Where have you been? The party started at eight! You’d better have some fucking epic excuse at the ready. I’m talking alien abduction or some shit.”
Clarke smiles despite her low mood because if there’s one consistent thing in her life, it’s Raven. She can always count on Raven to be...well, Raven.
“Sorry. I got held up,” Clarke offers weakly.
There’s a frustrated sigh before Raven speaks again.
“That’s all I’m getting? You got held up?” Raven challenges.
Clarke can practically hear her scowling down the phone.
“Do you know how many hors d'oeuvres Abby made me assemble, Clarke?” Raven interrupts. “Do you? Go on, guess.”
“I don’t know. 50?”
“156, Clarke” Raven deadpans. “One hundred and fifty fucking six little quiches and salmon tarts. Hors d'oeuvresyou were supposed to help me make.”
“156 is an oddly specific number,” Clarke intones, hoping to distract her.
“Yeah well there were 160 but Anya scoffed a bunch of them like a ravenous beast before I could stop her.”
Raven yelps and cries a muffled ‘What, babe? You did.’ Clarke chuckles as she imagines Anya reprimanding Raven down the other end of the phone. She hasn’t even met this woman but she likes her already.
“So anyway,” Raven continues. “I think I deserve more of an answer than ‘I got held up,’ don’t you? Spill it, Griffin.”
“I went on a date.”
There’s a silence so long on the other end that Clarke thinks she might have accidentally cut Raven off.
“Rae? You still there?”
“A date, Clarke? Really? I think the alien abduction story would have been more believable.”
Clarke rolls her eyes. “I’m being serious. I met a girl and we went on a date. There were drinks and bowling...and fire. I went into detail about the ‘Porno Land’ theory.”
“Wow. Sounds like a hell of a date,” Raven jokes.
“It was,” Clarke admits. “It really was.”
Raven must catch the change in her tone because her own voice turns sympathetic. “You, ok? You sound kinda bummed out about it. Was she a weirdo or something?”
“No,” Clarke says, becoming all too aware of the ache in her chest again. “No, she was...
“...Nice. It’s not going to work out though.”
It’s not going to work out because I’m a stubborn idiot, is what she should have said.
“Ah, another one bites the dust eh?” Raven jokes. “Never mind, there’s plenty more fish in the sea and all that usual bollocks.”
Clarke laughs in response but it sounds oddly hollow.
“Look I’ll have a glass of wine waiting for you, Griff. You can tell me all about it. And I’ll stall for you with your parents a little while longer. Just make sure you blow them away with that speech, ok?”
And there’s the icing on the cake. The speech she forgot to finish. Motherfuc-
“You got it. See you soon, Rae.”
Clarke ends the call and slides her phone back into her pocket. She reaches for her bag and fumbles around until her hands find the pointed corners of her notbook. She pulls it out, opens the first page and then frowns.
Instead of her anniversary speech scrawled across the page, she’s staring at Lexa’s list of favourite things. In all the excitement they forgot to trade notebooks after all. That had been the whole reason she’d rushed back to the bar in the first place. She rolls her eyes at herself and then takes another look at the list.
Lexa’s favourite colour is sky blue. Her favourite junk food is Reeces Pieces and her favourite place to visit is the planetarium. Clarke chuckles at that last one. What a nerd. Then, just as they had hours earlier, her eyes pause on number 8. “Fall in love again.”
Lexa’s handwriting blurs as Clarke’s eyes brim with tears that threaten to spill over.
“Idiot,” she whispers to herself as the train pulls out of the station.
“Idiot,” Lexa chuckles to herself as she watches Clarke disappear from view beyond the barriers.
When she can no longer see the back of Clarke’s head she lets out a heavy sigh and squeezes her eyes closed. That goodbye was one of the more intense social situations she’s ever found herself in, and that’s putting it lightly. This whole day she’s been torn between wanting to strangle Clarke and wanting to kiss her. Why should their goodbye have been any different?
Clarke is equal parts intriguing and infuriating. Lexa’s not sure how she’s been able to switch from furious to infatuated quite so many times today. Clarke just seems to have that effect. No one else has ever made her feel quite so intensely before, good or bad. Now she’s gone.
It’s probably for the best. If Clarke had felt anything genuine for her, she would have said so. Lexa’s only known her 10 hours but in that admittedly short amount of time she’s certain of one thing; Clarke Griffin does not mince her words. Not even when Lexa wishes she would sugar-coat things just a little.
Still, she can’t help but imagine what kissing Clarke just once would have felt like. If she’d just angled her head to the right a little more when she kissed the blonde on the cheek, she could have found out.
No. No, she cannot live on ‘what ifs’ and ‘could haves.’
Lexa spins round at the sound of her name and comes face to face with a petite brunette. This has to be Luna.
She’s pretty, Lexa notes, conventionally so with her wavy hair pulled back from her face and pale pink lipstick staining her lips. Clarke had been right about the chintz sweater though. It’s ugly. Though not so ugly that she’s can’t look past it. She isn’t shallow after all.
“Yes. You must be Luna?” Lexa smiles as she steps forward, extending her hand. “Hi.”
Luna takes it and returns a smile of her own. “That’d be me. It’s great to finally meet you!”
“Likewise,” Lexa agrees with a nod. “Sorry about that whole mix-up earlier. I honestly didn’t know that even happened, I just-”
“It’s fine. Really, don’t fret about it,” Luna insists as she cuts her off. “How about we go to the Southbank and grab a drink?”
Lexa doesn’t have the heart to tell her that she’s already been to the Southbank today when she got that coffee with Clarke. She also won’t tell her how cute Clarke looked wrapped in her borrowed scarf as the unforgiving autumn wind whipped through her hair. Details like that are better kept in the confines of her mind.
“Deal,” Lexa confirms, smiling warmly. “Though only if I can buy the first round. I figure I kind of owe you.”
“I won’t argue with that,” Luna winks. “Let’s go, shall we?”
Lexa throws one final glance over her shoulder at the ticket barriers before she follows Luna out of the station.
“What kind of nutter pretends to be someone else’s blind date?” Luna grins disbelievingly. “You honesty couldn’t make it up.”
“I know,” Lexa agrees hesitantly. “It’s been really...” she trails off.
“Anyway this just proves what a massive success the 'Six Billion People' book has been,” Luna gushes. “Let’s just pretend this whole thing never happened and start again.”
Luna raises her glass of wine and Lexa clinks it with her beer before tilting it back and taking a long drink. She hopes Luna wants to talk about something other than that joke of a self-help book. One, because she hasn’t actually read it. And two, because it reminds her of Clarke who she absolutely should not be thinking about right now on a date with someone else.
She realises she’s still chugging her beer when Luna raises her eyebrows in surprise.
“Sorry. I’m very thirsty,” Lexa says, setting the bottle down. “I did a lot of walking today.”
And if I have a few more beers I might be able to forget that tempting blonde siren who stole your date, she thinks.
Luna lets out an awkward laugh and then looks down into her glass of wine.
“So Luna, Anya tells me you’ve been travelling?” Lexa asks, determined not to allow any further pained silences.
Luna’s face lights up. “Yeah I went around the States for a year and I’ve not long come back from back-packing in Australia.”
“Cool. You must have seen some pretty interesting things.”
“Oh it was great. I did all sorts of exciting suff. Hang-gliding, bungee jumping, cage diving with Great White sharks off the south Australian coast.”
“Ah. We’re gonna need a bigger boat, right?” Lexa grins.
Luna gives her a blank look.
“Jaws?” Lexa explains. “It’s from Jaws...the film? The Steven Spielberg movie about the Great White Shark? You know...Smile you son of a bitch!”
Luna frowns a little and gives her a light shrug in response.
Lexa’s pretty surprised because who doesn’t know a classic like Jaws. Clarke would have totally gotten that reference and added some cheesy quote of her own. Clarke is a total sucker for Netfix marathons the same as she is and...there she goes again, thinking about Clarke when she really ought not to. This needs to stop.
“Oh wait, is that the one with Samuel L Jackson?” Luna asks, looking pleased with herself.
No, that’s Deep Blue Sea.
“Uh...no, nevermind. It’s not important,” Lexa dismisses with a wave of her hand. “So...Anya tells me you’re a tri-athlete?”
Lexa glances down at her watch. The date has only been going on for roughly twenty minutes but it feels like so much longer. Luna seems like a nice enough girl and very sweet but there’s no spark between them. No instant connection which leaves her wanting to find out more.
“Anyway I’m so glad you’re a fan of ‘Six Billion People and You’ as well,” Luna says with a smiles. “And I’m so sorry I was late to meet you in the first place but the reason I was late is because I left my copy for this woman on the train.”
Clarke, Lexa thinks as she nods along to Luna’s story.
“And she so needed to read it,” Luna breezes. “She seemed like a very sad soul. One of those sort-of, lost hope, doesn’t believe in love kind of women,” she says with a hint of pity. “I hope she does read it at some point.”
Lexa gazes off into the middle-distance as she imagines Clarke alone on the train, speeding towards wherever it is her parents live. Clarke hadn’t seemed sad at all. Luna has it wrong. Clarke’s cynical and sarcastic, certainly...but not sad unless Lexa had read her entirely wrong. And surely she must believe in love after that heartfelt speech about the emotional jigsaw and finding the blue bits...whoever Clarke ends up with, they're very lucky. Lexa hopes that whatever the future holds for Clarke, she’s happy. A girl like that is one of a kind.
“Anyway, enough of that,” Luna says as Lexa snaps back to reality. “Shall we do the lists?”
Lexa blinks dumbly a few times before she remembers. “The lists! Yes, of course.”
She digs around in her bag and pulls out her notebook. Only when she flips through the pages, she doesn’t see her own neatly written cursive staring back at her. Instead she’s looking at a page headed ‘Anniversary Speech.’ Several lines have been crossed out and there are numerous intricate drawings of flowers and mandalas scattered across the page. Lexa supposes that Clarke must have sketched them quickly but they’re surprisingly detailed. Clearly she’s talented.
She flips the page again and smiles to herself when she sees ‘Black Sock Wash’ scrawled in the upper right corner. Her eyes follow the page down to Clarke’s list of ten mantras. Beneath the original list she sees one particular sentence that she reads over and over again. ’11 - Follow your heart.’
Lexa’s own heart beats double-time. Her stomach does that weird swooping thing that only usually happens when the elevator moves too fast between floors for her liking.
Because Clarke is everything she’s not. Clarke is spontaneous, reckless, disorganised...an absolute disaster of a human being. On top of that she’s sarcastic to the point it hurts. So then why can’t Lexa get her out of her head? It defies reason.
But isn’t that what they say about love?
“Are you ok?” Luna asks, concern etching her features. “You’ve gone all pale.”
Lexa raises her head to look up at Luna and shakes her head slowly. This is all wrong. This isn’t where she should be and this isn’t who she should be with. Poor Luna is about to get her second disappointment of the day.
“I’m sorry,” Lexa apologises, sinking back into her chair dejectedly. “I’ve made a huge mistake. Possibly the biggest mistake of my life. And I know this is going to sound insane but let me try to explain it to you.”
“Once again, I am so sorry about this, Luna,” Lexa says as she hurries down the steps leading to the street.
“What?!” Luna calls disbelievingly, following a few paces behind. “What are you talking about?! This is amazing! If I hadn’t met her on the train and given her my book none of this would have happened. It’s like the most epic love story ever. Plus it means that I was right and she was wrong.”
Lexa grins as she sticks her hand out to hail down a taxi. Luna is being surprising supportive. Hell, she’s being downright encouraging of all this. Anya was right, she is a really nice girl. Just not the right one for Lexa.
“This is so romantic,” Luna gushes as a taxi pulls up beside them.
“I suppose it is,” Lexa admits, grin growing wider.
This whole idea is crazy, impulsive and definitely not sensible. But then again meeting Clarke, getting to know her...this whole mess of a day has been all of those things so at least she’s following a theme here.
Clarke had chastised her earlier on for being a romantic but Lexa will happily take that title and wear it with pride. She truly is a sucker for grand sweeping gestures. This could be her biggest one yet.
“Where does she live?” Luna asks as Lexa clambers into the taxi.
“Fuck. I have no idea,” Lexa admits as the grin slides off her face
She hasn’t thought this through at all. This is why she doesn’t do spontaneous.
What is she supposed to do? Blindly drive around greater London and hope she’ll bump into Clarke on the off-chance? It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. An exceptionally beautiful needle, but still, impossible.
“Well call her and find out,” Luna prompts.
Lexa’s face lights up only to fall again a second later. “I don’t have her number. I only have yours.”
“What’s her name?”
“Clarke. Clarke Griffin.”
“Find her on Facebook?” Luna suggests.
“She doesn’t have Facebook,” Lexa says dejectedly. “She must be the only person I’ve ever met under the age of 40 who doesn’t use it.”
“Well exactly,” Luna chuckles as Lexa frowns. “Everyone’s connected. You’ll have some mutual friends or something.”
Lexa thinks hard for a moment. Then she practically sees the light bulb above her own head as an idea forms.
Finn! Of course.
“You’re a bloody genius!” Lexa crows as she presses a quick kiss to Luna’s cheek.
“Don’t mention it,” Luna smiles. “Now what are you waiting for? Go!”
“Green Lane bowling alley please,” Lexa directs the taxi driver. She sticks her head out of the window and calls back to Luna as the taxi pulls off. “Good luck with the tri-athlete thing! And thank you, Luna!”
Lexa wears a grin impossibly wide as the taxi weaves down the side streets. Screw being sensible and fuck the past. She’s going to get her girl.
Thanks for reading - I hope I didn't cause you too much anxiety there!
As always, I love your feedback so if you liked it, let me know :)
I'm also on tumblr at toolateintheday if you have any questions or w/e.
Unsure if it's going to be two more chapters or one long one...guess we'll see.
Chapter 7: Faster than you think, time staggers on
Thank you, thank you and for a third time, thank you.
Absolutely loving the comments, kudos and feedback - its awesome.
I decided to do two more chapters or the last one would have been incredibly long so here we are.
I hope you enjoy it - its mixed POV throughout.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lexa glances at her watch for the umpteenth time as the taxi comes to a stop at some traffic lights. It’s almost 10:30.Time is ticking on and she wonders what the acceptable cut off point is to turn up at a 30th anniversary party unannounced...the 30th anniversary party of the parents of a girl you just met today, that is.
11 o’clock? Midnight? It’s probably wholly unacceptable irrelevant of the time.
This is crazy. Scratch that, it’s downright insane and so totally far removed from anything she would usually do. She would never usually drink tequila at 3 in the afternoon or eat greasy bowling alley nachos. She wouldn’t usually be caught dead crying in nightclub toilets or asking her blind date to be her fake girlfriend. Then again she would never usually go on a blind date, period. That’s down to Anya’s interference.
For a moment she contemplates calling her best friend and asking for advice.
Ultimately she decides she could do without the inevitable teasing that would go hand in hand with said advice. Besides, Anya’s at some party with her new girlfriend tonight and Lexa doesn’t want to interrupt. She’ll fill her in on the particulars later but for now, she’s on her own.
Lexa looks at her watch again. 10:34. The queue of traffic hasn’t moved in the past couple of minutes and its giving her too much time to think. She gets out of the taxi and decides to run the rest of the way to the bowling alley, throwing a twenty at the driver as she goes.
The persistent patter of rain against her face does nothing to numb the feeling of excitement coursing through her veins. With every step she takes, she’s that bit closer to Clarke.
The thought of seeing her again, of watching that beautiful smile light up across her face and those mesmerising blue eyes sparkling with amusement only makes her run faster. She has to believe it will happen.
It’s not until she’s standing under the neon lights of the bowling alley signage that she realises she has no idea what she’s going to say to Finn. If past experience is any indication, this probably won’t be a walk in the park.
And what if he won’t cooperate and refuses to tell her where to find Clarke? Would beating an answer out of him be going too far, she wonders, as she descends the stairs two at a time. Probably. Plus, physical violence really isn’t her style. It’s the last refuge of an idiot.
If there’s one thing being a litigation lawyer has taught her, it’s that the majority of battles can be won with carefully worded arguments and ample preparation. She has no time to prepare but then again, Finn seems a little (a lot) on the moronic side. Perhaps she can simply bamboozle him into helping with an authoritative tone and enough legal jargon.
When she arrives in the bar she spots him immediately in the far corner playing pool by himself. She thanks her lucky stars than Finn is the kind of loser who hangs around at his pace of work after his shift is over.
“Hey! Finn!” Lexa shouts as she runs over to the table.
Finn looks up at the sound of his name, eyes bugging comically when his gaze settles on her. Lexa’s heard the expression “deer caught in headlights” many times before but it’s never been more relevant than right now.
“Is that my scarf?” Lexa frowns as she draws to a stop, eyes settling on the woollen garment wrapped around his neck.
“Where’s Clarke?” Finn asks, ignoring the question as he cranes his neck to look behind her.
Lexa resists the urge to roll her eyes. “That’s what I need to talk to you about,” she says, trying to catch her breath. “I need you to help me find her. I think she’s at her parents’ house.”
Finn sets down his pool cue and crosses his arms. “And why should I help you?” he sneers.
And, there it is. She has nothing to convince Finn with. No time to think of a believable and elaborate excuse. No clever words or arguments spring to mind now that it comes down to it. There’s nothing but...
“Because I think I’m in love with her,” Lexa blurts out.
Ah, the truth.
She reels at her own words but it’s due to the honesty behind them more than anything. It simply shouldn’t be possible to feel this way about Clarke after only knowing her a matter of hours. But she does. It defies logic, reason, common sense...but it’s time to listen to her heart, not her head.
To her great surprise, Finn’s expression softens and he gives her a sympathetic nod.
“Yeah, I get that. Clarke will do that to you,” he says sagely, picking up his pool cue to take another shot. “She has that effect on people. Always has.”
Lexa resists the urge to roll her eyes once again. She needs Finn’s help but gets the feeling that he’s about to go off on some nauseating nostalgic trip down memory lane that she would rather not endure.
“You know I’ve been in love with her ever since I saw her on that first day of school? I tried so hard to get her to notice me. Real romantic shit, you know? Like I used to write poetry about her on the bathroom stalls and stuff,” Finn continues as Lexa cringes. “But she was never short of admirers. Boys and girls used to fall at her feet. Not a surprise really with that gorgeous face and a killer set of boo-”
“Look Finn, not to be rude but I really don’t have time for this,” Lexa cuts in exasperatedly. “Do you know where her parent’s house is or not?”
Finn drops his pool cue with a clatter and stares at her hard. “I know the exact Google Map coordinates. Come on.”
With that he snatches his keys from the edge of the table and stalks past her determinedly. Lexa stands rooted to the spot for a second before she spins on her heel and jogs after him.
Clarke takes a deep breath as she stands in front of the house she grew up in. She’s been trying to psych herself up and ring the doorbell for the past five minutes to no avail. All she’s done is hover on the front step and clutch the boxes of chocolate cheesecake from the fancy bakery as though they’re a lifeline.
It’s not that she doesn’t want to go in. She’s been looking forward to the party for months and loves nothing more than being surrounded by her close family and friends. It’s just that she doesn’t know if she can force a smile onto her face and hold herself together when she feels so utterly miserable.
The whole train journey home she’d been fighting off tears as she thought about Lexa. She hadn’t allowed herself to actually cry of course. She didn’t want to be that girl, bawling her eyes out on public transport. But now, as the distant sound of music and conversation emanates from the house, she feels her eyes prickling with moisture once again.
She’s still thinking about the way Lexa’s eyes crinkle when she smiles when the front door opens abruptly.
“I thought I saw someone lurking out here through the glass,” Raven drawls as she leans against the doorframe. “What are you waiting for, Griffin? A formal invitation? Get your impeccable ass inside.”
Clarke transitions from sad to sassy with well practiced ease. “I would do if your enormous ego would stop blocking the doorway,” she retorts, glaring up at Raven.
They stare each other down for a long moment until Raven breaks first, unable to stop the grin that spreads across her face.
“I’m glad you’re finally here, you dork,” Raven says, opening the door wider.
“Aww, did you miss me?” Clarke teases.
Raven rolls her eyes. “Don’t flatter yourself. I’ve been entertaining your Great-Aunt Muriel for the past hour. Did you know she hates the self-checkouts at the grocery store? I do because she told me...five times!”
Clarke lets out a snort of laughter. “She’s 85, Rae. Her short term memory isn’t the best.”
“Yeah well, I can’t take any more. I’ve done my time,” Raven grins, holding up her hands. “And Anya was no help. She’s been taking full advantage of the sauvignon blanc and talking to your Mum all evening.”
“Sounds like my kind of girl,” Clarke grins back. “I can’t wait to meet the woman who decided you were worth putting up with. Does she also have short term memory problems?”
“Ha ha,” Raven says flatly. “As fun as this is, you’d better come in. We’ll have time to trade barbed insults later. Plus you can tell me about your date!” she trills, turning back towards the house.
Clarke’s heart sinks at the mention of Lexa but she forces her smile to remain in-tact as she walks over the threshold and into the party. She has absolutely no business being sad right now. This night is about her parents, not her.
She follows Raven down the hall towards the living room, smiling as she passes by the numerous family photos and artwork she’s created over the years hanging on the walls. There’s some faint mellow music playing but the unmistakable sound of her father’s deep yet soothing voice rises above it. By the sound of it he’s coming to the end of his speech.
Raven slips back into the living room and moves to sand next to a woman with dark blonde hair that Clarke doesn’t recognise. This must be Anya, she surmises, as the woman laces Raven’s fingers with her own and gives her a warm smile.
Clarke herself lingers in the doorway, not wanting to interrupt her Dad’s speech. Instead she stands there just out of sight and listens intently to his words.
“...What else can I say about my beautiful wife that hasn’t already been said? I love her still now, as I did the day we met. 30 years of marriage and there isn’t a single day that goes by where I don’t think about how lucky I am to have found my soul mate. Abby, you complete me. You’ve made my life richer and more meaningful than I ever imagined possible,” Jake declares, smiling adoringly at his wife.
Clarke smiles through her inner turmoil as their guests let out a chorus of “awws” and her Mum places a kiss on her Dad’s cheek.
All this talk of love is making her head spin and her chest ache all over again. She knows it’s ridiculous to think she’s in love with Lexa, knows how stupid it would sound to say out loud...but there had definitely something between them that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. She’s never felt quite so connected to someone, never felt so inexplicably drawn to another person. She simply cannot get the brunette out of her head.
This has to stop. Lexa is gone. She made her choice...although Clarke may have forced her hand a little. Idiot, idiot, idiot.
Clarke shakes her head and edges quietly into the room as her Dad continues his speech.
“And let’s not forget that you gave me the most precious gift of all, our beautiful daughter, Clarke,” Jake beams, immediately catching Clarke’s eye. “And here she is now! Talk about timing!”
Clarke freezes at the chorus of cheers as everyone in the room turns to look at her. She looks back into the sea of faces, each one of them smiling widely and does her best to smile back. Though she’s surrounded by people she loves, standing literally in the middle of a party, she’s never felt so alone in her life.
“Hi everyone,” Clarke greets, forcing herself to grin. “Sorry I’m late...but I brought cheesecake!” she says, holding the box up as evidence.
She succeeds in keeping herself together until her eyes find the smiling faces of her parents. They must never be allowed to know what a terrible person she is. Both of them look so pleased to see her, elated by the simple fact she finally turned up to what should be one of the most memorable evenings of their lives. There’s no trace of anger or annoyance on either of their faces, just that same look of adoration and pride they always wear when they look at her. That’s what does it.
Clarke finally lets go.
Everything she’s been repressing since she left Kings Cross, all the regret and sadness she’s been carrying with her on the journey here comes bubbling to the surface like so much emotional lava. Her face crumples and her vision blurs as she feels the first of many tears roll down her cheeks. Suddenly the room is all too silent and stifling as she sways on the spot precariously.
“What’s the matter, sweetheart?” Abby cries as she rushes forward.
Clarke opens her mouth to try and speak but manages only to emit a strangled sob. It’s no good. She’s started crying now she suspects she won’t be able to stop any time soon. She won’t even try to fight it any more.
Someone lifts the cheesecake box from her hands and the next thing she feels are her mother’s arms clasping around her torso as she’s pulled into a tight hug. She buries her face in Abby’s shoulder and sobs quietly as careful fingers run soothingly though her hair.
The details of what happens next are fuzzy but she somehow finds herself back in the hall, sitting on the bottom step of the staircase. Blinking through a haze of tears she can see her Dad and Raven looking down at her with concern etched across their faces. Anya stands a few steps behind them looking equal parts uncomfortable and worried. Her mother is sat next to her on the step murmuring words of reassurance and rubbing calming circles onto her back.
“Clarke, honey,” Jake coaxes, lowering himself to kneel in front of her. “What’s wrong? Please just tell us what’s wrong.”
Clarke sniffs and wipes her eyes with the heels of her palms, choking back another sob. Everything, she thinks.
“Jesus fucking Christ Finn, are you trying to get us killed?!” Lexa shrieks as the car sails over another speed bump and lands with a jolt. “I would very much like all my limbs intact when I leave this death-box on wheels!”
Finn grins but mercifully keeps his eyes trained on the road as they whizz down another suburban street. Lexa’s not quite sure where they are, perhaps somewhere near Clapham Common if she’s not mistaken? She never really ventures this far south of the river and is relying totally on Finn to bring her back to Clarke.
She had been reluctant to get in his rusty old Citroen Saxo but there hadn’t really been much of a choice. Finn’s car was parked right near the bowling alley and driving would have quicker than going back to King’s Cross and waiting for a train. Still, she is certainly having her reservations now as the tyres squeal across the tarmac when they round a particularly sharp corner.
“Come on Lexa, where your sense of adventure?” Finn teases, beeping the horn and wolf-whistling as they drive past a group of girls.
Lexa throws them an apologetic look out of the back window as they pass. He may be helping her, but Finn still behaves like an absolute pig when it comes to women.
“It’s being overshadowed by my desire to survive this car journey,” Lexa deadpans, gripping onto the overhead handle. “Holy fuck!” she yells a second later when he slams on the breaks at a red light.
“So what’s your plan?” Finn asks as he takes a sip of whatever drink is in his coffee flask.
Lexa highly doubts it’s actually coffee. Finn doesn’t seem like a coffee kinda guy. More like a Mountain Dew and Doritos fan.
“My plan?” Lexa frowns.
“Yeah. Your plan to win her heart,” Finn presses. “What is it?”
Lexa turns to scowl darkly at him. “I don’t really have some well though-out plan. This isn’t a rom-com.”
“Well it should be!” Finn declares as he puts his foot down on the gas. “Big romantic gestures, Lexa, that’s what it’s all about! Declarations. Heart on the line. Life changing sort of stuff.”
Lexa’s expression softens and she nods in agreement. Begrudgingly she has to admit he’s right. She’s going to need to do something pretty fucking spectacular to make up for being a fool and show Clarke that she’s the one for her. Good job she’s a sucker for romantic gestures, really. Now she just needs to think of one.
“That’s what I was going for in the toilets earlier,” Finn continues. “Actions speak louder than words, you know.”
Oh Finn, Lexa thinks; seeing you almost naked, beer gut hanging over the waistband of your boxers, says more than mere words ever could. She longs to make a sarcastic remark about how Clarke must have great will power to resist such a sight but decides it’s probably better to keep that particular thought in her head. It can stay there with the vivid image of a semi-nude Finn that’s forever burned into her brain.
Finn takes another right and speeds down a smaller street, stopping abruptly in front of a row of houses.
“Is this it?” Lexa questions, craning her head to look out of the window. “Are we here?”
“Yep,” Finn replies, looking straight ahead at the road.
“Ok. Ok,” Lexa breathes out as she fumbles to undo her seatbelt. “What number is it?”
“Its number 13,” Finn says, drumming his hands on the steering wheel.
Lexa throws him a sympathetic glance. This must be difficult for him given his feelings for Clarke. Finn is obviously deluded and perhaps a little unhinged but he’s done her a solid by helping her tonight. Perhaps she has judged him too harshly.
“Listen, thanks for this, Finn,” Lexa says as she closes the car door behind her and ducks her head back through the window. “I mean it. Really, you’re doing me a massive favour here.”
“No problem,” Finn shrugs, turning to smile at her as he revs the engine. “Go, go go! Bon Chance, mi amigo!”
With that he speeds off down the road, leaving Lexa alone on the sidewalk. She stares after him for a moment before she comes to her senses and begins jogging down the street in search of number 13.
It’s a typical middle-class suburban street, lined with trees that tower almost as tall as the Victorian houses. She spots number 13 a little further down on the left and sprints towards it, tripping slightly as she scrambles up the gravel-lined driveway.
When she reaches the door she raises her finger to hover over the doorbell and pauses. She can hear music coming from inside and sees numerous shadowy figures behind the frosted glass pane of the front door. Is she really about to walk straight into a family gathering uninvited and proclaim her love for a girl she met earlier that same day? Yes, apparently.
She takes the plunge and rings the doorbell, waiting on baited breath. She shoves her hands into her pockets and then quickly pulls them out again. She clasps them behind her back and bounces slightly on the balls of her feet, fully unsure of what to do with herself. Her anxiety levels are off the charts and the butterflies in her stomach feel as though they’re staging a sudden and violent revolt.
What is she actually going to say? Going straight in with “I love you” is probably coming on a little too strong. How about “I like you a lot” or maybe “I am stupidly attracted to your beautiful face?” God this is stupid. Maybe she should have stopped to get some flowers or something. Maybe she should hav-
Lexa doesn’t have time to complete that thought because the front door swings open to reveal the party within. When she sees the identity of the person who opened the door, her eyebrows practically shoot into her hairline.
This is entirely unexpected.
Clarke hasn’t really managed to calm down much in the past ten minutes. She’s graduated from sulking on the stairs to sulking whilst leaning against the doorframe between the hallway and the kitchen. She’s still crying though.
Raven had persuaded her parents to go back to the living room and mingle with their guests, reassuring them that she would look after Clarke and bring her to rejoin the party when she had calmed down. Clarke hadn’t protested at all, just sat there numbly whilst they talked about her like she wasn’t there.
Raven and Anya are standing close by, still trying to get an intelligible answer out of her. They haven’t had much luck so far. She’s pretty much just been babbling nonsensically.
“Idiot, idiot, idiot,” Clarke groans as she hits her head off the wall repeatedly. “I should have just said don’t go...I should have just said.”
Raven places her palm between Clarke’s forehead and the wall, effectively halting her movements. “I get that you’re upset, Clarke, but this is a partition wall. It can’t take much more of your massive head pounding against it like a battering ram,” Raven quips.
Clarke snorts despite herself and she’s pretty sure it’s the most unattractive she’s ever looked. There’s mascara running down her cheeks, her nose is running and her skin is red and blotchy from crying.
“You’re a dick,” Clarke says feebly, offering Raven a hint of a smile.
“Must be why you like me so much,” Raven smirks.
Clarke lets out another snort and shoves Raven on the shoulder.
“How do you put up with this one?” Anya intones, cocking her head at Clarke.
“Years of practice,” Clarke says without missing a beat.
Anya chuckles lowly and takes a step forward. “I’m Anya, by the way. It’s nice to meet you Clarke, even if it is under slightly odd circumstances.”
Clarke laughs at that and then shakes Anya’s hand. “It’s nice to meet you too,” she agrees, trying for a smile. “Raven’s told me a lot about you. Actually, she kind of doesn’t shut up about you.”
“Is that so?” Anya questions, arching an eyebrow at her girlfriend.
Raven blushes and holds her hands up in deference. “Ok, as much as I am enjoying this game of “pick on Raven Reyes,” can we please get back on track? You gotta tell us what’s wrong here.”
Clarke drops her gaze to the floor. “It’s nothing,” she mumbles. “I’m being stupid.”
“Griffin, something that makes you this upset can’t be stupid,” Raven presses. “From what I could make out when you were crying into my very expensive leather jacket, you were saying something about a girl?”
Clarke looks up to scowl at her and then drops it when she thinks about Lexa again. She feels a fresh wave of tears coming and tries desperately to blink them back.
“Yeah, you kept babbling about a bowling alley and a fire,” Anya cuts in.
Clarke laughs then. Truly laughs, gripping onto the doorframe and throwing her head back as the memory of Costia covered in foam comes to the forefront of her mind. She laughs even harder when she remembers Lexa dramatically humming the Mission Impossible theme. Anya and Raven are looking at her as if she’s grown a second head.
“It was my date,” Clarke finally says. “I was upset about my date.”
“I thought you said it went well?”” Raven questions. “I mean I know you said it wasn’t going to work out but-”
“I did go well,” Clarke confirms, moving back across the hall to sit on the stairs. “At first it went awfully but then it went really, really well. It’s the best date I’ve ever been on,” she admits with a sigh. “I really liked her.”
“Sorry, am I missing something?” Anya asks. “Why are you so upset if it went well?”
Clarke bites down on her lower lip and shakes her head before she looks back up at the two of them. Anya’s wearing a slight frown and Raven looks on expectantly.
“Because I let her go,” Clarke says with an air of finality, the words unbelievably heavy on her tongue. “I let her go.”
Clarke hangs her head and swallows the lump in her throat. Maybe she should come up with a new theory that revolves around self-sabotage? That ought to be a good one, seeing as she’s a fucking expert in it. Just when she feels the tears welling in her eyes again, the doorbell rings.
She frowns and then snaps her head up because it’s pretty odd for anyone to be ringing the doorbell at 11pm at night. True enough she was late to the party, but all the other guests are here already.
“I’ll get it,” Anya offers as she walks over to the front door.
Anya swings the door open and Clarke cranes her head to get a better look at their visitor. When Anya steps to the side and she sees who it is, her jaw practically hits the floor. For a good few seconds she’s too stunned to form words.
When she does regain the ability to speak, it’s a far from eloquent: “What are you doing here?”
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed your chapter.
Love hearing your feedback so drop me a line with your thoughts if you liked it.
Next time: the big finale :D
Chapter 8: A finale of sorts
We have reached the end. Mixed POV
Thank you so much for reading this story!
This is the shortest fic I have ever written but I am sad to see it end all the same.
Anyway, I hope you like this last chapter because I certainly enjoyed writing it.
If you have seen the film this is based on, you'll know what's coming next.
If not, you might be in for a surprise
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“What are you doing here?”
Clarke feels the words leave her mouth, hears them loud and clear in the now silent hallway. But still she can’t quite comprehend the situation. Because it defies belief. It defies reason. And it quite simply cannot be happening. It’s like something out of a dream.
Well, a nightmare actually.
Anya moves backwards to clear the doorway and then, just like that, Finn Collins steps into her home.
The hairs on the back of Clarke’s neck stand up and her hands subconsciously ball into fists as she stares at him in bewilderment. There are a number of questions ricocheting around her head. How and why is he here? How did he even know that she would be here tonight? Does he just drive past her parent’s place every once in a while hoping that she’s visiting on the off-chance?
Whatever the reason, this is tragic. Just when she thought her night couldn’t possibly get any worse, up pops Finn to remind her of the terrible decisions she’d made some hours ago. The universe has it in for her, she’s sure of that.
Lexa stands on the doorstep, peering up at the man who has opened the door of Clarke’s house. Only he’s not a man as such. He’s a boy, no older than 15, maybe 16 at a push. And he is clearly very intoxicated, swaying on the spot with a red solo cup clutched in his hand.
“Err...is Clarke here please?” Lexa asks hesitantly. “I’m Lexa, by the way.”
She holds her hand out for the boy to shake but he just stares at it dumbly before taking another sip of his drink.
This is very odd.
Her relatives tend not to give their underage children alcohol at family gatherings. However, if Clarke’s family are anything like Clarke herself, they’re probably more easy-going and liberal than most people.
It sounds like it’s quite a party too. Now that the door has been opened she can hear some rather loud dance music coming from within the house. The people inside sound like they’re having a great time. Perhaps this is fine.
“Are you the stripper?” the boy slurs at her.
This is not fine.
“Excuse me?” Lexa exclaims, mouth agape. “Did you say stripper because I can assure you I-”
She doesn’t get to finish her sentence because the boy grabs her by the sleeve and pulls her stumbling into the house.
“What are you doing here?” Clarke repeats as she gets to her feet.
“Don’t you remember?” Finn asks with a sickly smile.
“Remember what?” Clarke snaps.
She remembers him stripping to his boxers the middle of a public bathroom. She remembers her skin crawling when he had tried to kiss her. She also distinctly remembers telling him to fuck off so why he’s here, crashing her family gathering, is a total mystery.
“You invited me over when we saw each other at the bowling alley. It was so good to catch up with you earlier, Clarke. Anyway, you said I should pop by whenever I was in the neighbourhood and well...here I am,” Finn chortles. “Oh are you having a party?” he asks, craning his neck to look towards the living room.
Clarke is truly speechless.
She did no such thing. Earlier she’d got a decent measure of exactly the type of person Finn is - that type being ‘decidedly strange and bordering on creepy.’ But this, showing up out of the blue at her parent’s house uninvited, is a whole other level of fucked-up. It’s categorically unsettling.
“Wait a second, wait a second,” Raven interrupts, furrowing her brow. “You’re Finn, right? Finn Collins? From St Andrews?”
“Yep, that’s me,” Finn nods, still grinning like an idiot. “So glad you remember me because I remember you, Raven Reyes.”
Clarke doesn’t like where this is going. Raven had disliked Finn at school almost to the point of hatred. She’d been moved up a year into his science class because she was so advanced in chemistry. Then there was that one incident...
“Pretty hard to forget the guy who ran around the science block screeching like a little bitch with his trousers around his ankles,” Raven smirks as Anya tries to disguise a giggle as a cough.
There it is. Finn’s face flushes an impressive shade of red.
“I wasn’t aware the human voice could reach such a high pitch,” Raven continues. “You should have talked to Professor Jaha about joining the school choir...they were lacking a decent soprano.”
“That was your fault,” Finn retorts, scowling at Raven. “You set my trousers on fire with a Bunsen burner!”
“Oh it was your own fault,” Raven drawls with a roll of her eyes. “You were asking for it. You shouldn’t have tried to look up Harper McIntyre’s skirt.”
Clarke zones out as the two of them begin to bicker. This cannot be happening. How have things gone from brilliant to tragic in the space of an hour? More importantly, how is she going to explain Finn’s appearance without exposing the nature of her date with Lexa? Because admitting “I stole a date” doesn’t look particularly good no matter how you dress it up.
“Everything ok out here ladies, you’ve been gone a while?”
Oh great. Just perfect, Clarke thinks, as she turns to see her Dad emerge from the living room with her Mum following close behind.
“Everything’s fine here, Jake,” Raven answers without taking her eyes off Finn. “I was just asking Finn what he’s doing here.”
“I told you, Clarke invited me,” Finn protests.
“Somehow I don’t think she did,” Raven counters.
“Is that right, Clarke?” Abby asks, brow furrowing slightly. “Did you invite this young man around?”
Fuck fuck fuck. Clarke internally screams as all parties present turn to her for an answer. Her parents look confused, as does Anya, whilst Raven’s caught somewhere between pissed off and nauseated.
Clarke can feel beads of sweat forming on her forehead. She has two choices here. One, she can lie and tell them that she did invite Finn over and pretend that everything is fine. Or two, she can tell them the truth; that Finn is a slightly deranged admirer and have him thrown from the house.
Of course option two carries the risk that Finn will reveal his version of today’s events in the most brutal way imaginable. She doesn’t mind telling Raven all about her mistakes and misgivings because Raven knows everything about her. They went to university together so it goes without saying there are secrets between them that they will take to the grave.
But her parents...they are a different matter entirely.
No, telling them will require careful wording, a whole lot of damage control and eloquence that Finn simply doesn’t possess. Hearing him blurt out why their daughter was late will undoubtedly ruin the entire evening and permanently tarnish the memory of their anniversary.
She looks to Finn and he gives a barely distinguishable nod of his head. Clarke knows what that nod means. Once again, he has her over a barrel. Tomorrow when she’s away from her parents she can call him all the names under the sun and threaten him with a restraining order. For now...she has to play along.
“Yeah of course I invited him,” Clarke reassures with a smile. “Raven’s just kidding. He’s an old friend and we haven’t seen each other in a while so I thought we could catch up. I hope that’s ok?”
Clarke doesn’t dare meet Raven eye as she says this, just keeps her gaze focused solely on her parents who are both smiling once again. She won’t be able to handle whatever look Raven has waiting for her.
“Well of course it’s ok!” Jake booms enthusiastically. “Any friend of Clarke’s is a friend of ours. The more the merrier! It’s Finn, isn’t it?”
“Yes sir,” Finn nods.
Clarke is almost sick when her Dad steps forward and shake Finn’s hand.
“Come on through to the living room and we’ll get you a drink, Finn,” Abby says, leading him down the hall.
“I’ll come with you,” Anya offers, sparing Clarke a sympathetic glance as she passes.
Clarke watches after them and feels her stomach churn uncomfortably. She can’t blame Anya for waning to remove herself from this awkward situation. Hell, she’d remove herself if it were possible. This is such a disaster.
“You alright now, honey?” Jake asks once Abby and Finn are out of earshot. “You seemed pretty upset earlier. That’s not like you.”
Clarke forces her smile to stay in place. “I’m fine Dad, honestly. Raven and Anya talked me down. It’s just been a...funny sort of day. We can talk about it tomorrow, I promise.”
“Well as long as you’re ok,” Jake smiles warmly. “You about ready to give us your amazing speech now? I’ve been looking forward to it all day.”
“Sure Dad, I’ll be right there.”
Clarke makes to follow him into the living room when she feels a vice-like grip her arm just above the elbow. She spins around to be met with a furious looking Raven.
“What the fuck was that?” Raven demands, keeping her voice low. “Finn Collins, really? I know you didn’t invite him here, Clarke. Tell me what’s going on.”
Clarke sighs and pulls her arm from Raven’s grip. “Look please don’t make a scene,” she pleads. “I promise I’ll explain everything later but just let me get my speech out of the way first. I’ve already caused enough drama tonight by having an emotional breakdown in the middle of the party. I don’t need to add a fight to the proceedings.”
“Fine,” Raven says flatly, crossing her arms. “But as soon as the speech is over you are going to tell me everything.”
Clarke nods and Raven stalks down the hall and back into the living room. Clarke exhales heavily and shakes her head before she follows. She silently prays tonight doesn’t get any worse.
Lexa somewhat reluctantly follows the boy down the hallway towards what she assumes is the kitchen. Inappropriate stripper comment and drunk teenager aside, Clarke’s parents certainly know how to throw a party. It’s a pretty big crowd for a family gathering. Everywhere she looks people are dancing along to the music and the alcohol is flowing freely.
A girl, not much older than the boy who had answered the door, appears at her side and offers her a beer. She accepts and takes a sip whilst looking around the room for that familiar head of golden hair.
“I’m looking for Clarke,” Lexa explains, leaning into the girl to be heard above the music. “Have you seen her?”
The girl grins but shakes her head. She takes Lexa’s hand without warning and tugs her through the sea of party guests until they reach the kitchen island. To her great surprise the girl scrambles on top of it and cups her hands around her mouth like a megaphone.
“Everyone, this is...wait what’s your name?” the girl shouts as a few people turn around to stare.
“Lexa,” she states confidently.
“This is Lexa and she’s looking for Clarke. Has anyone seen Clarke?”
Lexa looks hopefully into the crowd, willing Clarke to burst forth so she can finally kiss her like she should have back at the train station. That doesn’t happen though.
“I’m Clarke!” shouts a girl by the speaker.
“No, I am,” yells another from the sofa. “I’m Clarke.”
Soon there’s a chorus of girls giggling and proclaiming to be Clarke. Disappointingly none of them are. It’s pretty childish behaviour actually.
Then she finally makes the connection. This is definitely not an anniversary party. This is a rager.
Now that she actually pays attention to the party-goers, she notices no one here can be any older than 18. The kitchen is absolutely teeming with teenagers in various stages of inebriation. It’s a little like watching a nature documentary, she thinks to herself, if the animals had drunk an abundance of very cheap alcohol, that is. Its utter chaos.
It dawns on her that Finn has sent her to the wrong house. That asshole.
Though quite how he’s been lucky enough to redirect her to another party, she doesn’t know. It’s a hell of a coincidence. She supposes it’s better than the door being answered by an elderly couple or something. At least everyone here is too drunk to really notice her mistake.
“We’re all Clarke,” several kids shout before cackling like the drunken idiots they are.
It’s like a very bad juvenile version of Spartacus.
“No, no, none of you are Clarke!” Lexa calls above them. “Clarke is 26. She’s not 15 or whatever...look there’s a girl being sick in the sink for Christ’s sake! This is terrible.”
Lexa sighs as she walks over to the sink and pulls the puking girl’s hair back from her face.
“Come on, let it all out,” Lexa reassures, gently rubbing the girl’s back. “Fyi, you might wanna avoid blue coloured alcohol in the future. It’s nobody’s friend.”
The girl turns her head to give Lexa a crooked smile before she retches violently again. Lexa wrinkles her nose and looks away.
This is not how she thought her day would pan out. Here she is surrounded by drunken teenagers whilst on an impossible mission to find a woman she unexpectedly fell in love with.
Anya is going to have a field day when she hears about this. She’ll be making fun of her for weeks, if not months...maybe forever. Lexa’s going to have to edit this story down considerably when she retells it.
She’s definitely going to include the part about Costia getting blasted by the fire extinguisher though. The memory makes her grin to herself. Then her heart sinks in her chest when she remembers Clarke’s radiant smile. She’s unlikely to ever see it again.
But she’s not ready to give up yet.
“Listen! Come on someone must know Clarke!” Lexa shouts at the top of her lungs, turning to face the crowd again. “Clarke has beautiful golden hair and a lovely face and...come on, please. Clarke Griffin?”
Everyone is looking at her now. She would allow herself to feel the embarrassment if she wasn’t so determined to see Clarke again.
“Clarke Griffin?” someone yells back.
Lexa spins around so fast to find the source of the voice that she almost gives herself whiplash. In the doorway stands a boy with sandy coloured hair who seems to be a little more sober than his friends.
“Did you say Clarke Griffin?” the boy asks.
Lexa nods her head. “Yes.”
“I know Clarke Griffin!” the boy declares. “She used to be my old babysitter.”
Lexa’s entire world narrows to a pinpoint as she stares back at the boy. She furrows her brow a little, unsure if this is another trick. The party around her has grown silent – someone has even cut the music. It’s incredibly tense as she swallows thickly and takes a step forward.
“Can you take me to her?” Lexa asks, not bothering to mask the desperation in her voice.
The boys face cracks into a warm smile. “Yes I can!”
There’s a deafening eruption of cheers around her as Lexa grins so wide her cheeks ache. She punches the air ecstatically and hollers a triumphant ‘YES!’ not caring how uncool that probably looks.
Then she’s being ushered through the crowd towards the front door where the boy is stood waiting for her. She high fives him and then decides it isn’t quite enough, pulling him into a spontaneous hug.
“What’s your name, kid?” Lexa asks, following him out into the street.
“It’s Aden,” he replies with a grin.
“Thank you for this Aden. I don’t know how to repay you,” Lexa babbles. “Honestly, you just made my night. You’re a hero.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Aden shrugs as they walk down the driveway. “So why do you need to find Clarke so bad? You have a crush on her or something?” he asks cheekily.
Lexa can’t help the smile that crosses her face. “Something like that. I was thinking she’d appreciate a big romantic gesture.”
“Well nothing says big romantic gesture like turning up at her door with sixty wasted teenagers,” Aden says, jerking his thumb over his shoulder.
Lexa stops walking and turns around. Sure enough all the kids from the party have followed them out of the door. All of them are looking at her expectantly, grins plastered across their drunk faces. The girl who had been puking into the sink gives her a thumbs up. Whatever, she’s not going to question it. If they want to come along for the show, she won’t try and stop them. It is a hell of a story after all.
“So how far is it to Clarke’s?” Lexa asks, turning back to face Aden.
“About a mile,” Aden answers. “Think you can run all the way there or are you too old for that?” he teases.
Lexa places a hand on her chest, feigning offence. “Excuse me young man, I am perfectly capable of running. I’m just worried you and your friends won’t be able to keep up,” she challenges.
“Then let’s go, grandma!”
With that Aden sprints off down the street in the direction Finn had driven earlier. Lexa smirks and then takes after him.
She’s running blind through an unfamiliar part of greater London for a girl. She’s tearing down a suburban street at 11:30 at night with a hoard of children following behind for a girl. She’s running the risk of making a total and utter fool of herself for a girl.
This is ridiculous, she thinks, smiling to herself as she shoes smack rhythmically against the pavement. This is reckless. This is love.
Clarke sips on her glass of champagne as she tries to mentally prepare for her speech.
All around the living room her friends and relatives are deep in conversation, looking like they’re having a great time. With the exception of Raven of course, who sits next to Anya on the sofa directly in Clarke’s eye-line. Raven’s glaring at Finn whist Anya strokes her arm comfortingly and whispers what Clarke assumes are calming words, into her ear.
Finn himself has somehow ended up talking to her Great-Aunt Muriel and is eating a slice of the chocolate cheesecake she brought earlier. She hopes her chokes on it.
“Ladies and gentlemen, can I have your attention for a few moments please,” Jake calls from where he stands at the front of the room. “My beautiful daughter, Clarke, would like to say a few words.”
Clarke gets to her feet and walks to where her Dad stands, her feet feeling as though they’re lead weights the entire time. Jake rests a comforting hand and her shoulder and smiles that twinkling smile as he makes his way back to his seat.
Clarke turns nervously to face their guests and forces a smile onto her face. Everyone is looking at her expectantly, glasses of champagne at the ready for a toast.
God know what she’s going to do because she doesn’t actually have any sort of speech prepared. Lexa still has her notebook. Even if she did have her book, the speech was only half finished and she can’t remember any of it now. Not with her head full of all things Lexa and the crushing feeling of anxiety that Finn will ruin everything
What can she do?
There’s only one real option. She’s told too many lies today already.
“I uh, I actually had something prepared for this but I lost it,” Clarke begins nervously. “You know what? I’m just gonna tell you all...because its actually the reason why I’m so late and the reason why this speech is going to be so rubbish.”
There’s a murmur of chuckles throughout the room as Clarke pauses. She catches the eyes of her parents, smiling proudly at her, and realises they deserve the truth.
Clarke takes a deep breath. “Err...the truth is I met someone today.”
“Hello,” Finn interrupts, waving to everyone from his seat.
“No, not this dickhead,” Clarke continues, jerking her thumb at him. “I met a woman and she was amazing. I was standing underneath the clock at Kings Cross Station when a woman mistook me for her blind date. And instead of just saying ‘hey you’ve got the wrong girl’ like a normal person...I thought it was a good idea to just pretend I was her date.”
There’s a collective intake of breath as Clarke pauses again.
“No you didn’t?” Raven questions in disbelief.
“I did,” Clarke admits with a grimace. “But, you know, we went out. And for the first time in ages I put myself out there. I took a chance,” she shrugs. “Then she found out I wasn’t who I said I was. An Oxford graduate and semi-professional athlete by the way! Then blah blah blah, she went to go and meet her real bind date. The end.”
Clarke squeezes her eyes shut and draws in a shaky breath, willing herself to keep it together. There’s a chorus of “awws” from her friends and family as she finishes her story.
Her parents are looking at her with concern etched across their faces but they don’t look angry at all. Raven appears genuinely upset and Anya...Anya is actually smirking at her. It’s an odd reaction but Clarke doesn’t dwell on it because she needs to get this speech out of the way so she can find a quiet place to cry.
“No don’t be sad,” Clarke protests, smiling softly. “I’m not sad...ok I’m a bit sad...but I’m also quite proud of myself because I tried. And no, it didn’t work out. But I got a hint of what could be out there for me.”
She turns and gestures to her parent’s. “A fun, loving, crazy, contradictory, long and happy life with someone. Something that my parents have had since they first laid eyes on each other 30 years ago. So I hope you’ll join me in raising a toast to them and wishing them a very happy anniversary. To my Mum and Dad. To Abby and Jake,” she finishes, raising her glass.
There’s a collective chorus of ‘To Abby and Jake’ before everyone sips their champagne.
“I liked that speech,” Jake says with a smile. “Much better than last year’s.”
“Thanks Dad,” Clarke nods, making a move for the door.
No sooner has Clarke taken three steps does Raven appear in front of her. She may have one bad leg but her best friend’s got the speed of a gazelle. Anya sidles up beside them a few seconds later.
“Clarke!” Raven exclaims, throwing her hands up. “I can’t believe you did something so, so-”
“Stupid?” Clarke supplies. “Crazy?”
“No, awesome!” Raven corrects. “I mean it was a little crazy, yeah. But that is some rom-com, follow your heart shit right there. I am oddly proud of you.”
“Thanks,” Clarke shrugs, looking at the floor.
She certainly doesn’t feel proud of herself at all. Sure, she took a chance but it amounted to nothing. Now all she feels is an overbearing sense of disappointment.
“So did this girl have a name?” Raven asks.
“It’s Lexa,” Anya answers.
Clarke’s head snaps up at that but Anya’s refusing to even look at her. Her eyes are trained determinedly on something over the other side of the room.
Of course. Of course this woman, Raven’s new girlfriend, would be the same Anya as the one who set up the date. Because the universe wasn’t cruel enough already, it had to throw in this gem. Fucking perfect.
“You’re Lexa’s best friend...” Clarke confirms dejectedly. “Look I’m sorry about Luna but-”
“No,” Anya cuts her off sharply. “I mean it’s Lexa.”
Anya points to the left and Clarke follows her gaze. When her eyes reach the window they almost pop out of her head...because yes indeed, there is Lexa, standing in front of the living room window.
Clarke stares in disbelief as she watches Lexa bang on the glass, grinning widely. She can’t hear her very well through the double glazing but she can make out the shape of Lexa’s mouth as she calls her name over and over again.
Clarke can’t bring herself to move. Her heart is hammering so fast she can hear it above the background noise of the party. Her hands are so sweaty she almost drops the champagne flute she’s clutching. Lexa’s here. Lexa came back for her.
“Clarke! Clarke!” Lexa shouts as she bangs on the window. “Clarke its me! Clarke”
When the blonde eventually looks up, Lexa’s breath catches in her throat because this is real. This is happening. She’s made it against all the odds and now she just needs the grand romantic gesture to show Clarke how she really feels about her.
People who she assumes are Clarke’s family and friends are staring at her from within the house like she’s a crazy person but she doesn’t care. This is her moment to shine.
“I’m coming in!” Lexa yells to Clarke, pointing at the window latch.
Aden helps her hoist the window frame up and a couple of other kids give her a leg-up. They end up not helping so much as throwing her through the open window where she lands in a heap on the carpet. She scrambles to her feet quickly and brushes herself off.
Out of the corner of her eye she sees Anya and does a double take, quirking an eyebrow in question. All things considered about this day, her best friend randomly being at the same party isn’t even the weirdest thing to happen. The world is as small as it is strange apparently.
“Sorry, sorry,” Lexa murmurs as she brushes past a couple of the guests.
This is so nerve-wracking. Everyone must be wondering why the hell this strange woman just entered the house via the window. But why be conventional and use the door now? Everything about this whole day has been unconventional to say the least.
“Clarke,” Lexa says as she takes a few steps towards the blonde. “I thought you might want your speech?”
Clarke stares open-mouthed and blinks a few times before she registers the question. “It’s too late. I’ve...I’ve sai-”
“No,” Lexa shakes her head with a smile. “I mean do you want your speech, Clarke?”
“Uh...yes?” Clarke answers, brow furrowing slightly.
“Good. Just be quiet and let me give it to you then,” Lexa says, running a hand through her hair nervously.
Here goes nothing, she thinks.
“Uh, ladies and gentlemen. Boys and girls,” Lexa begins, earning a cheer from the kids still stood outside. “And friends and family of Clarke who I have never met....this is...I uh, I met a girl today. The wrong girl. Except she turned out to be the right girl.”
Lexa pauses and meets Clarke’s eyes. Clarke looks a little less unsure of herself and is now looking at her intently, head inclined slightly to one side.
“And uh, this girl who took a chance on me in the most...bizarre and romantic way possible,” Lexa continues as Clarke smiles, “wanted me to take a chance on her and I...I-I didn’t. I blew it like the stupid, idealistic, slightly uptight idiot that I am,” she admits, holding her hands up.
There’s a general murmur of amusement as she pauses and bites on her lower lip, wondering what to say next. Clarke still hasn’t stopped smiling which she can only take as a sign of encouragement. Self-deprecation is apparently the way to go.
“That’s why I sought help from Finn over here,” Lexa says, gesturing in his direction.
Finn smiles and shrugs his shoulders. The guy clearly has no shame, not even when he’s being called out in a room full of people.
“Yeah, you,” Lexa chuckles, pointing at him now. “Not the most reliable of sources really. Yeah. Whatever. But undeterred I commandeered these brilliant young drunks because nothing was gonna stop me from finding this girl and telling her what I should have told her earlier on.”
Lexa pauses to take a deep breath and looks straught into Clarke’s eyes. Clarke’s smile has dropped and she’s looking at her with slightly wide eyes and parted lips. This is it, Lexa thinks. This is the crucial part of the speech where she lays her feelings bare and hopes for the best. This is the part where Clarke either feels the same or shoots her down in front of all these people. This is the part where she’s honest.
“Clarke. I am so glad you pretended to be my date today...because if you hadn’t I never would have heard all your amazing sex theories or watch you try and get jalapeno out of your teeth,” Lexa explains, her voice shaking with emotion. “I never would have witnessed your very instinctive firewoman skills,” she adds with a wink.
Clarke giggles and blushes, ducking her head down before meeting her eyes again. Lexa looks into the most captivating shade of sky-blue and feels her chest soar. Her own smile grows impossibly wide as she continues.
“I never would have got to see that, beautiful, breathtaking tri-athlete smile... or witnessed that highly competitive arse as you were about to get another strike. In fact, if you hadn’t pretended to be my date today, my day would have been utterly rubbish...”
Lexa clasps her hands together in front of her and lets out the breath she didn’t realise she had been holding. “And so quite possibly would have been the rest of my life,” she admits, lower lip trembling.
There’s a soft collective “awww” from their audience which Lexa tries her best not to be affected by. She’s right on the edge here. So close to tears with the raw emotion of it all that she’s afraid she’ll falter.
“Clarke you said that I was an emotional jigsaw and that I should look for the blue bits. And I think you might be the blue bits, Clarke. No wait, I know that you are,” Lexa affirms, putting her heart on the line. “So what do you say? Will you give me another chance?”
Clarke looks at her silently and Lexa can see her throat bob when she swallows heavily. The silence probably lasts no more than a few seconds but to Lexa it feels like forever as she waits on baited breath. The entirely room is deadly silent as everyone waits for an answer with her.
“What does it say in Six Billion People and You?” Clarke asks, the corners of her mouth twitching.
Lexa stares blankly for a second until her brain registers the reference.
“Oh yeah,” Lexa exclaims, dashing forward to snatch Finn’s champagne glass from his hand. “Fuck the past?” she grins, raising the glass to Clarke.
“Fuck the past,” Clarke grins back.
They both drink and everyone else joins in with a chorus of ‘fuck the past.’
Lexa wastes no more time. She steps forward and takes Clarke’s glass from her hand, placing both of them on the coffee table.
Her hands move to Clarke’s face, gently cradling her jaw as she runs her thumbs softly over her cheeks. Lexa looks her deep in the eyes before she smiles and leans in slowly, tilting her head and finally capturing Clarke’s lips with her own.
It’s everything a first kiss should be. Slow, sensual, utterly mind-blowing. Clarke’s lips are unbelievably soft and taste better than Lexa could ever have imagined, sweet and addictive. When Clarke parts her lips slightly and sucks Lexa’s lower lip gently into her mouth, Lexa sees a whole display of fireworks burst behind her eyelids.
She threads her hands into Clarke’s hair and holds her close whilst Clarke’s arms move to drape over her shoulders. Lexa sways slightly, dizzy of the feeling of it all. This is perfect. Clarke is everything she’s ever wanted and she may have gone through a hell of battle to get to this point but its so damn worth it. Nothing else matters when Clarke’s lips are on hers.
Clarke smiles against her lips and then pulls away but only so much that their noses are still brushing.
“Hands, arse,” Clarke murmurs against her lips.
“My hands aren’t on your arse this time,” Lexa whispers in protest.
“I know,” Clarke says with a devilish smile.
Then before she knows what’s happening, Clarke’s covering her hands with her own and moving them to the aforementioned area. Lexa grins and slides her hands into the back pockets of Clarke’s jeans, squeezing lightly as she pulls Clarke even closer to her.
Lexa’s about to connect their lips again when a loud cough startles her. She turns her head to see Anya and a slightly shorter brunette both smirking at them.
“Hi. Raven Reyes,” the brunette states, not phased that she’s just interrupted them. “I’m Anya’s girlfriend. Nice speech by the way.”
“T-thanks,” Lexa stammers. “It’s nice to meet you Raven, I-”
Raven holds her palm up to cut her off. “Let’s skip the pleasantries for now. We only came over here to remind you and Griffin that you’re in the middle of a family party and you might want to get a room.”
“People are staring,” Anya adds, smirk growing wider.
Lexa looks over her shoulder and notices that a few people are, in fact, staring. There’s a middle aged couple on the sofa regarding them amusedly. Lexa assumes they must be Clarke’s parents and sends an awkward smile in their direction.
“Anyway, see you nerds later,” Raven breezes as she walks away. “You can fill me in on the details of your date tomorrow, Griffin.”
“You too, Lexa,” Anya calls as she follows her.
Lexa blushes and shakes her head as she watches them go. Then Clarke’s lips are on hers once again. Its a sweet, chase kiss that is altogether too brief as Clarke pulls back again and rests her forehead against Lexa’s.
“I think we should take their advice literally,” Clarke murmurs. “Wanna go and make-out in my room?” she asks, biting on her lower lip as she smiles.
Lexa’s stomach does that funny swooping thing at the sight. She can’t believe how well this turned out. Can’t believe she’s here in Clarke’s living room, holding her in her arms. They’re going to get their happy ending after all.
“What are we, 15?” Lexa teases, ghosting her lips over Clarke’s.
“Is that a no, then?” Clarke challenges playfully. “You don’t want to make-out with me?”
Lexa shakes her head. “It’s a yes. Every single time.”
“Idiot,” Clarke chuckles before pecking her on the lips again.
“Idiot,” Lexa agrees.
Lexa laces her fingers with Clarke’s and they laugh together as Clarke pulls them from the living room and leads them up the stairs.
As bad as first dates can be, she’s pretty sure this is the last one she’ll ever have to go on. She never wants to let Clarke go. If Clarke’s pounding heartbeat is any indication when she leans in to kiss her again, she feels the same way.
Thanks for reading - please let me know if you enjoyed it!
This story has been a pleaseure to write.
I have no new fic plans for now but am always willing to take prompts/ideas on my tumblr at toolateintheday tho its Clexa or Octaven mostly.
Thanks once again - the feedback has been amazing! I