Author's Note:

Hi everyone!

I just want to make sure that everyone is aware before they start reading that in the future I will have to put trigger warnings on this story. Though this chapter is pretty safe, in the future there will be content that deals with anxiety, depression, self harm, and suicide. If these things will bother you, then I hope you won't get too invested.

Reviews are STRONGLY encouraged as this is my first shot at fan fiction. I could really use the feedback!

Thanks so much for giving my story a try, I hope you enjoy it! Much more to come!


Rays of barely morning sun streamed through the crack between the curtains, beckoning her eyes to open, warming her face. She stretched her waking limbs and wiped the last bit of sleep from her eyes before sitting up and tossing her blankets aside. As she pulled on leggings and a light jacket, her alarm blared. Five A M, it told her. She had made good time already. Down the stairs of the apartment building, out the door, and to the woods, Lexa strode quietly and breathed in deeply, preparing herself for the run.

She couldn't remember a time when a morning run was not part of her routine. Before middle school, when she began focusing the habit as a way to train for the track team, she had often gone out with her father in the mornings and tried oh so desperately to keep up with his long, steady bounds. She may have been able to do so, by middle school, had he continued to run with her. These days, she immersed herself in the run and in the woods for herself, and no one else. Many seasons and many people had come and gone, but the sting of her lungs and the pull of her muscles and the rush of the air all around her as she glided through the trees would remain. And that was all she needed.

Six fifteen, her phone told her as she peeled sweaty layers from her skin. Though her heart rate had slowed from the run during her stretching, her body temperature had only continued to rise. The shower raised the hairs on her arms and the back of her neck, but it settled her steaming blood and awoke any remaining sleeping segments of her brain. When she finished, she combed her hair and donned the outfit she had chosen the night before: tight blue jeans, black converse sneakers, a worn leather jacket, and a loose grey t-shirt.

"Monday," she mumbled to herself, leafing through her planner. "Giving a speech today in public speaking, and starting a new project in artistic explorations…dammit." The speech would be no problem for Lexa; she had always been a charismatic speaker and she had prepared well for this one in particular. It was the art project that gave her a wave of nervous energy, for several reasons. The first reason was her lack of artistic skill, which could lead to embarrassment or even bad marks, which were both completely against Lexa's standards for herself. The next reason, though it had the potential to help with the first, was the knowledge that this would be a partner project. It was the brunette's senior year, but only her second year in this new town, and she had not made much effort or progress towards being friendly with classmates. The final reason was Clarke.

Clarke had been in a few of Lexa's classes since she moved to the town of Polis in the middle of last semester.

"So, what brought you and your mother here, Clarke?" The teacher mused. Clarke stood, arms crossed, in front of expectant classmates.

"Um...a plane." Several students giggled at the curt response, though it wasn't what she had intended. She was undeniably beautiful, though one could rarely tell, as she almost always wore a hood over her head and rarely looked anyone in the eye. But Lexa saw her. She saw something in Clarke that she had not allowed herself to see for years.

Clarke Griffin, quite by accident, had become known as one of the best artists- if not the best- in the school. This semester, of course, she had managed to find her way into the one art class Lexa would be required to take during her high school experience, but not into any of the classes for which Lexa felt pride. She didn't see a way that this project wouldn't end in her embarrassment in front of the other girl, until her name was spoken.

"Lexa Woods, you will be paired with Clarke Griffin."

Her heart beat wildly, threatening to leap through her rib cage, but her face succeeded in remaining stoic. She stood and gathered her things to take up her new seat next to her partner.

"Hello," she began. The blonde sat on the edge of her seat, barely acknowledging Lexa.

"Hi."

"So...did you want to set up a meeting tomorrow?"

"Sure," she shrugged, biting her nails.

"Great. For other projects I would say we should meet at the library, since it's close and we don't know each other well." She carefully kept her signature diplomatic tone. "However, paint is not very library friendly. So would you prefer your house, or mine?"

The blonde turned to answer her partner, removing her fingers from beneath her teeth. Lexa noticed for the first time how blue the girl's eyes were up close.

"Can we go to your house? My mom doesn't like people over when she's at work." Her heel tapped rapidly, nervously.

"Sure, that's fine with me. Do you think you'll stay for dinner?" The blonde paused, eyes locked with Lexa's, before returning to her staring contest with the wall across the room.

"Probably not," she muttered. Although they were not surprising, the words stung Lexa a little more than she anticipated. She looked down at her hands in her lap.

"Alright, then."

Their art teacher called her students back to attention, giving a few final instructions about the project before the bell rang. When it did, the blonde pulled her bag from behind her and hurried towards the door.

"Wait, Clarke!" Lexa called. Clarke stopped.

"Will you need a ride over?" She shook her head, pulling a sharpie from her pocket and grabbing Lexa's wrist. Her hand was quick and deliberate, but gentle. Lexa's stomach lurched at the touch and she struggled to calm the heat in her cheeks, but it was over before she could process what exactly had happened.

"Text me your address. I'll stop at home and then come right over." Lexa looked down where the girl's hand had been to find seven digits in thick black ink.


Mon 2:31pm: Lexa

216 Maple Avenue, second apartment. Press the buzzer next to my name and I'll come down to let you in.

She held her breath, finally pressing send after staring at the words for several minutes. It was unlike her to fret over something as trivial as a text message, but this somehow seemed more important. Clarke had always appeared anxious in class, but Lexa's assumption was that she, like every other student, was simply anxious to leave. Their interaction had told her otherwise. She wondered if Clarke's reluctance to communicate would continue, and knew that if it did, the success of even small interactions would be crucial to any relationship they might have, even simply as project partners.

Mon 2:34pm: Clarke

Thnx. C u then.

It was brief response, but alone in her apartment, Lexa allowed herself a grin. She had anticipated silence.


When she got home on Tuesday afternoon, Lexa set immediately to work on preparing the apartment for her guest. She vacuumed the carpet and dusted around in the living room, she picked up her shoes by the door and swept underneath, she lit a candle on the counter to give the house a hint of "apple cider" scent. In the kitchen, she cut up two apples and put them on a serving dish, filling the dressing bowl in the center with peanut butter. While adding some crackers to the plate, she paused, in a panic. What if Clarke is allergic to peanut butter? She put down the box of crackers, leaning on the counter and glaring across the room, deep in thought. Think. Have I ever seen her eating anything with peanut butter? No, I don't recall...I don't know that I've ever even seen her eating. Have we ever had lunch together?

Just then, the doorbell rang. There's still time for me to clean up if she is...right?

Clarke stood on the porch of Lexa's apartment, breath visible in the February air.

"Hey," she muttered, avoiding the girl's eyes.

"Hey," Lexa returned, "come on in." As they climbed the stairs, she noticed the pink of the blonde's cheeks behind her hood and the snow caked to her boots.

"Did you walk here? From your house?"

"Yeah," Clarke shrugged.

"I told you I could give you a ride! Aren't you freezing?" She could hear the concern in Lexa's voice. This surprised the blonde, who knew that Lexa rarely let notes of emotion slip into her words. Lexa noticed the slip herself and quickly looked away.

"It's not too cold out," Clarke mumbled.

They arrived at the third floor, and Lexa got out her key.

"So um, this is my place." They stood for a moment, Clarke taking in the room. To the left was a small kitchen with a wooden countered bar, and to the right, a pine green couch, a coffee table, and a small television. It was somewhat plain, but impressive all the same.

"Do you live alone?" She asked, a little bewildered.

"Yeah. I moved out last year before school started." Lexa's face turned stony.

"Oh," Clarke mumbled, embarrassed. Is that a touchy subject for her?

"So should we get started?" She interrupted Clarke's thoughts, pushing the awkward tension aside. "I bought a big canvas yesterday and picked up people's old newspapers around the building. You said you'd bring the paints and brushes, right?"

"Yeah, here." She sighed silently in relief, pulling off her bag and her coat, happy for the change of subject. Lexa got busy pushing the coffee table against the back wall and heading to her room for the newspapers and canvas. Before returning, she took a deep breath, willing away the storm that threatened to brew inside her. It was rare that she was confronted about her living apart from her parents, and when she was, she made a point not to leak any information. It was her business, and the wound was still a little too raw to be dealt with in front of others.

As she returned to the living room, she found Clarke surrounding herself with small paint jars in an array of colors. Two sets of brushes in excellent condition lay in front of her, descending in size. She wore a hoodie and utilized the hood, as usual, but her typical absent stare had been replaced by a soft concentration. Her hands both worked pulling jars from a canvas bag she had shouldered all the way to the apartment; neither set of fingernails moved nervously under her teeth. Lexa's discomfort subsided, and a smile crept to her lips.

"You have a lot of paint," she said, cutting through the silence of the girl's work. Concentration broken, blue eyes snapped towards Lexa.

"Did I bring too much?"

"No, not at all," she knelt nearby and examined a jar labelled "red maple."

"The label on that one's a lie," Clarke murmured, looking back to her bag. "Red maple leaves are darker and have more purple than orange. It should have been called cardinal red or something." Lexa stifled a laugh. It must have been more than she'd ever heard Clarke say at once.

"So you can decide our color palette, then. You're definitely more informed than I am about colors." It might have been remnants of the cold walk over, but Lexa could have sworn she saw a slight blush on the blonde's cheeks at her words.

"I mean I guess I know some stuff about color. That's just because I study it a lot. Everyone thinks I'm some kind of amazing artist, but I think they just get overexcited by how often I practice. I mean, it's mostly all I do." She paused her work, lifting a hand to resume biting her nails.

"Are you kidding? I've seen your paintings and your charcoal work, and they put our class to shame. Seriously, even your handwriting looks like art." Lexa glanced down at her arm, where she had been careful not to rub off the thick black numbers. Perhaps she had said too much. Clarke shrugged, fingers still at her lips. Her expression was blank, walls doing their job to guard, but Lexa saw a tension in her eyes. She spoke barely above a whisper.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Let's um, let's get this done." The blonde started laying out the newspapers but kept her eyes to the floor, careful not to let Lexa in again. They spoke sparsely to each other while sketching, only just enough to keep the project a team effort. Lexa's pencil dragged lifelessly across the canvas. Her mind was somewhere else; she couldn't help wondering what switch had been flipped in the girl beside her to send her back into that defensive state.


Tues 6:17pm: Clarke

Thnx 4 bringing me home.

Tues 6:19pm: Lexa

You're welcome, anytime you need it. You don't live far from me, anyway.

Tues 6:23pm: Lexa

Hey, um, since we didn't get to finish today, did you want to come back tomorrow?

Tues 6:51pm: Clarke

Sure

Tues 6:54pm: Lexa

Great! I hope you know I won't be letting you walk this time :P

Tues 6:56pm: Clarke

Haha. Okay Lexa.

That night as Lexa lay in bed, she hesitated before turning off her phone. The blinding screen stung her eyes, but it was worth it, and she stared straight into the light. When she finally did fall asleep, the phone still laid on her chest, and a grin had spread across her face. Clarke had called her by her name.