She was sitting in the waiting room, slowly bleeding to death from the cut on her left palm, and no one was around to help her.

This is how I die, thought Lexa, complete blood loss in an empty room because the nurse's office is understaffed.

She squeezed the thick white rag on her hand a little tighter, applying pressure as little needles of pain shot up her arm. It was actually more red than white now, spotted and seeping with her sticky blood. She mentally cursed the idiot cadet that had slipped halfway down the rock wall and gotten his uniform stuck on a shard.

Of course she was the junior officer on training duty for the recruits' first time across the Minefield. Of course she couldn't just ignore the screams of the boy as he dangled upside down from halfway up the 50-foot rock wall (affectionately dubbed the "Wall of Terror"). Instead of just hanging there and waiting for help, he yelled and scrambled and wouldn't stop moving, so in the process of trying to get his pants free from the wall without letting him fall to his death, Lexa's hand was stabbed and cut on an unnaturally sharp rock.

She hadn't realized it at the time—it wasn't until she had gotten them both safely back to Earth when Anya, her commanding officer, pointed out the small river of blood flowing from her hand. Lexa just made a sound of annoyance, as if the cut was more of an inconvenience than an actual injury. She insisted she was fine, but the blood loss was a bit scary and if Lexa was being totally honest, she felt a little dizzy, which was why she didn't complain as much when Anya ordered her to visit the nurse's office. And that's how she found herself sitting and waiting in an empty room, trying to staunch the bleeding with an old towel she found on the counter full of medical supplies when she came in.

It was simple really—all she needed was an antiseptic and a big band-aid and then she'd be on her way.

She tilted her head back, resting it against the wall behind her. She was a little tired. A little light-headed, a little out of it. More than a little worried about the sheer volume of blood that was leaving her hand.

"Um, I'm sorry, but is this the nurse's station?"

The voice came from the door and Lexa looked up, not even trying to hide her annoyance. At the entrance stood a girl about her age, blonde, and very obviously not in her uniform. Lexa couldn't remember the last time she saw someone walk around Polis wearing just jeans and a regular shirt. With a small grunt in confirmation, Lexa closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the wall again. She was too tired to deal with all these rule-breaking infants.

"You're not up to code, private," she said from her seat. She heard the girl enter the room.

"That's probably because I'm not a private," replied the voice from a few feet away. Lexa heard rustling and the sound of a cabinet being opened and closed.

"Then you probably shouldn't be here," Lexa retorted. The girl completely ignored her statement.

Without a word, she walked over and knelt in front of Lexa, who in hearing her approach, peeked one eye open and glared as menacingly as she could. Before Lexa could react, the blonde gently took her injured hand and removed the rag. She bent over to her side, tipping a bottle of rubbing alcohol onto a big chunk of cotton. They were at eye level, and Lexa really looked at her. A face that resembled someone she knew. Bright blue eyes, a tiny little scar on the bridge of her nose, skin that was a nice mix of tan and pale, wavy blonde hair.

Not all too awful to look at.

"What're you doing?" Lexa questioned, a little worried considering some random person who wasn't even a part of the academy was trying to treat her hand.

"I'm trying to keep you from dying of blood loss," she said without looking up. She brought Lexa's hand close to her. "This is gonna sting a lot." She dabbed gently at the angry red slice on Lexa's palm with the cotton while blowing on it lightly. Lexa was about to scoff at the assumption that she couldn't take the pain, but it quickly turned into a hiss. The alcohol burned like a small inferno in her hand, and Lexa squeezed her eyes shut.

My god that hurts like a—her own thoughts were interrupted by a small whine that escaped from her throat.

Clarke laughed a little at the sound, but continued on her gentle work. It wasn't a laugh at Lexa, but moreso one of amusement, a light-hearted laugh that wasn't at her expense but one that sounded like something the girl wanted to share. Lexa felt her cheeks burn from embarrassment. She didn't squeak, she didn't whine. After a heavy moment of silence, Lexa cleared her throat.

"Tell anyone I made that sound and I'll kill you."

"Your secret's safe with me, captain," said the girl in a very serious tone, but her small smirk said otherwise.

"I'm not a captain," Lexa replied. The girl just shrugged and continued her work. The silence resumed as both the cotton and the cut turned to a sated pink.

"You're gonna need a few stitches," the girl said as she pushed her hands off her knees to stand. She walked over to the trash to throw out the wad of cotton and retrieved a small needle and thread from the cupboard. As she approached Lexa again, the slightly alarmed patient held her non-injured hand up.

"If you're going to stab a sharp object through my skin repeatedly, I'm going to need to know a little more about your medical background," Lexa said as intimidatingly as she could. But for some reason, it sounded a bit like teasing, and the girl laughed again. It was nice and light, like cotton and her gentle hands.

"Alright, what do you want to know?" She said, putting the supplies down and leaning against the table opposite Lexa. Lexa pondered for a moment.

"Name. Education. Why are you here if you don't go to Polis?" She started easy. The girl smiled a little.

"My name's Clarke. I'm a pre-med student at Jaha across town. And I'm here to fix your hand," she said with a smirk. Clarke, Lexa thought. Jaha. Avoidance of the last question.

"Oh, so you're one of the Haha's," Lexa prodded. The military students at Polis Academy had a sort of rivalry with the nerds at Jaha University, despite having wildly different specialties. Polis destroyed them in sports, but they struggled to beat Jaha's stellar academic record. Clarke rolled her eyes at the stupid name the Pole-heads used for her university.

"Watch it. You would've bled out if I didn't come in and treat you. I basically saved your life," Clarke said with that small smirk that Lexa was already getting used to.

"But really, why are you here?" Lexa said, dodging the reminder that she had been in very visible pain in front of a stranger. Clarke thought for a moment before answering.

"It's kind of an interim thing. I'm here to help out with first aid for a while," she replied, as she turned around and faced the supplies on the table again. There was obviously something more that she wasn't sharing—Jaha's class schedule was identical to theirs and school should be in session—but Lexa didn't push. She knew the feeling. Clarke busied herself, sterilizing the needle and uncoiling the thread as she continued.

"Just the easy stuff. Headaches, bruises, maybe some fractures," she turned around to face Lexa again with the needle in hand, "life-threatening cuts." She walked over and took a seat next to Lexa, pulling her hand onto her lap. Lexa blanched as the shiny, sharp object approached her skin.

"Would now be a bad time to tell you I hate needles?" Lexa practically whispered. She disliked doctors overall but reserved a special hate for shots and stitches. Clarke looked up at her and stared right into her eyes, trying to gauge if she was kidding or not. When she saw the seriousness and the tiny speck of fear, she smiled lightly at Lexa.

"Nope, perfect timing. I'm going to sew it closed with my right, so why don't you hold onto my left arm. We'll talk to keep you distracted, it'll be easy," Clarke said quietly. She guided Lexa's other hand to her forearm. Lexa closed her eyes, taking a deep breath.

She could jump out of planes, was better at hand-to-hand combat than her entire class, could disassemble and reassemble eight different types of guns in under 60 seconds, and was Polis's reigning champion in archery (three years in a row, for the record)—her fear of teeny, tiny needles was completely irrational and she knew it, but she couldn't help it. But Clarke's warm, easy hands and the steadiness and strength of her forearm under Lexa's clenching fingers anchored her to a feeling of safety.

"So since you asked me three questions, I get to ask you three," Clarke said to the girl whose deep, dark green eyes had closed. Lexa nodded lightly. Clarke decided to time each stitch with a question. She estimated six across the length of the cut.

"What year are you?" she asked as she dipped and pulled the needle once. Lexa squeezed her arm gently in response.

"Third," Lexa said in a quiet, clipped tone.

"Rank?" Another dip and pull. Two.

"E-4 Corporal." Clarke's needle paused. She knew that was an unnaturally high rank for an academy student, and a third year no less.

"Specialty?" Dip. Pull. Three. Lexa's grip pulsed on her arm.

"Ground operations." Clarke nodded, even though she knew Lexa couldn't see with her eyes closed. She tried to be as gentle as she could, and found the girl next to her relaxing little by little.

"Alright, that's my three. We can take turns asking now," Clarke said. Lexa nodded. To be honest, she was getting a little lost in Clarke's soft touches, in the warmth that seeped into her other hand from Clarke's arm. The ease of questions and answers. She considered what she'd ask next.

"How long are you going to be here?" she asked. She tensed as she felt the needle enter and exit her skin. Clarke tugged lightly on the thread, pulling it along.

"Already trying to get rid of me, huh?" Clarke teased. Lexa smiled slightly as Clarke continued. "As long as I'm needed." Lexa noted the somber tone and how the gentle rhythm of Clarke's motions faltered before answering. She knew the feeling that was radiating from Clarke. She was running from something. Locking it away and trying to look the other direction.

"Would I be wrong to peg you as the resident bad-ass corporal that takes no shit from anyone?" Clarke asked. Lexa smirked. Clarke was making her smile way too often, it was unnatural. She didn't even feel the next stitch. Five.

"No, you are not wrong," she responded, finally opening her eyes. She looked straight at Clarke. "Especially not from mysterious interim nurses." Their eyes met for a brief moment. Clarke was the first to look away, and Lexa could've sworn a light blush tinged her cheeks. She cleared her throat.

"Okay, last question," Clarke said. Her tone was a bit more melancholy than before, and for some reason, Lexa felt a need to cheer her up.

"Aren't you going to ask me for my name?" She felt a little spark of delight in her gut at the sight of Clarke blushing slightly again.

"I was just going to keep calling you Captain Whiney in my head," Clarke retorted.

"It's Lexa. And you promised to keep that a secret." Clarke smiled and nodded. Lost in the smile that Lexa was a little proud to have produced, she didn't realize Clarke had finished the last stitch and had already knotted it closed. Clarke brought the hand up close to her face to analyze her work.

"What's the prognosis, doc? Give it to me straight," Lexa whispered dramatically. Clarke let out another laugh, bright and warm. Lexa felt it fill the room to the brim.

"I predict a full recovery, after rest and proper cleansing every morning and night. You'll need to avoid using that hand as much as possible for the next two weeks," Clarke listed. She glared at Lexa when she rolled her eyes a little.

"I mean it. Don't go all 'nothing in this world can hurt me' and ignore it. It'll minimize scarring if you take care of it," Clarke insisted seriously. It touched Lexa (just a little) that Clarke genuinely cared. It was then that she realized her other hand was still on Clarke's arm. She quickly withdrew it and busied herself with examining her new stitches. Clarke stood up and brought her supplies back to the counter.

"How should I clean it and all that?" Lexa asked as she got up as well. She stretched her stiff legs and back from sitting tense for so long.

"Take some isopropyl and some cotton and wipe it clean every morning and night. It has to be cotton, fabric will be too harsh on the healing tissue. You'll need some sort of disinfecting cream and scarring oil since the cut is on your palm and the skin there doesn't heal as readily," Clarke said, sounding very much like a doctor. Lexa just stood there and stared. Clarke saw the look on her face and sighed.

"You don't have any of that stuff, do you?" Lexa shook her head. She didn't have the time or patience for any of what Clarke just said, honestly.

"I bunk and share a single bathroom with eleven other girls, Clarke," she responded. One corner of Clarke's mouth lifted and Lexa thought that one small movement could move mountains and start wars if Clarke so wished.

"Then I guess you'll have to come here and visit me for wound care, as it is part of my first aid training," Clarke said as she turned around to the medicine counter to clean up after herself. If she were to be honest, it was more to hide the full smile at the idea of the cutely serious corporal coming every morning and night to be taken care of. Lexa felt the heat rise up her neck.

"Well, orders are orders," Lexa said as serious as she could. She straightened her dark-green uniform shirt and walked towards the door. Clarke turned to face her, a hip leaning against the ledge of the counter and arms crossed in front of her. Lexa stopped at the door and cleared her throat.

"Uh, thank you. For all that," she said, lamely. She didn't really show gratitude often, so she didn't know how to express how truly grateful she was for Clarke's understanding and gentleness. Clarke smiled, Lexa melted, and the natural order of the universe flipped on its head.

"You're welcome," Clarke said with more softness than Lexa had ever heard from another human being. She nodded once and turned on her heel to leave. She had important things to get to, and it wasn't as hard as she expected to leave.

She would be back anyway.

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