“What are six things you can’t live without?” Octavia asked from where she was sitting on Clarke’s bed.
“Why are these questions all so difficult?” It wasn’t actually that hard of a question. Clarke was stalling, but to be fair, Octavia and Raven were forcing her to set up a dating profile that she was not all that interested in.
“Just answer the damn question or I’ll answer it for you.” They were on the fourth iteration of this cycle by now, and Octavia was losing patience with her. But bullshitting an answer was infinitely better than letting Octavia and Raven come up with one, because well, Raven mostly.
“Let’s see, um, art supplies, corny romcoms, friends, family, and coffee.”
“That’s only five,” Octavia said, entering Clarke’s responses.
“Do I really need another one? Five seems like enough.”
“What do you think?” Octavia asked Raven, who was watching her fill out the profile.
“Lame. Give it some personality. How about, ‘my ten inch strap on’ for the last one?” Clarke flipped Raven off, wishing she had something handy to throw at her.
“Alright, alright, make the last one, I don’t know, the collected works of Dr. Seuss.”
Octavia scoffed. “Ya sure you want to include Green Eggs and Ham in that?”
“Green Eggs and Ham is a literary masterpiece,” Clarke replied airily. “I still don’t see why I need a dating profile though.”
“Because you haven’t even gone on a date since you broke up with Finn, and that was a year ago, and frankly, it’s getting kind of pathetic.” Octavia wasn’t wrong, but it was still annoying.
“Yeah, you really need to get laid.” Raven also wasn’t wrong, but it hurt Clarke’s pride to think that she wasn’t holding it together as well as she thought.
“Just try it out for, I don’t know, three months. If you make it for that long I’ll buy you a handle of vodka, but if you quit before that, you have to buy me a handle of rum.” Octavia knew she couldn’t resist a challenge, which really wasn’t fair as far as Clarke was concerned. “And it’s not all bad. I met Lincoln on this site.”
“Fine,” she conceded with a huff. “Let me see it.”
The profile wasn’t as bad as she expected. They had picked some good pictures, and the about me section Octavia had written was pretty decent. Raven had tried to sneak “badass bi bitch” into the description, but other than that she didn’t change anything.
She hit publish and wondered if she would rather this work or not.
“How many times are guys going to message me asking if I want to have a three way?” Clarke asked, blocking yet another guy. She had to admit, the dating site was efficient, because she had started getting messages right away. Granted, most of them were either obscene, vaguely creepy, or asking if she wanted to hook up, but some of them seemed nice.
Raven looked up from where she was working on some project that involved too much soldering for Clarke’s comfort. “You’re listed as bi on your profile, so it’s never going to stop.”
“Ugh…Why do guys think that asking a stranger for sex online is going to work?” She hadn’t been all that into this whole online dating idea to begin with, but messages asking if she liked nine thick inches apropos of nothing were quickly sapping any enthusiasm she might have had. “I really hate you guys for making me do this.”
“It can’t be that bad. It’s been like three days. Let me see.” Octavia grabbed Clarke’s computer and started reading through her messages. “Creep, creep, gross, weirdo, no, creep, bible verse, oh this one seems nice. And he’s cute. You should message him back”
Clarke read over the profile Octavia pulled up. The guy was kind of cute, and there were no major red flags in the profile itself. She could certainly do worse when it came to meeting strangers online.
“Okay fine, but what do I even say?”
“Are you going to make me do this entire thing for you?”
“Well it was your idea…”
“Fine.” Octavia took back Clarke’s computer and started typing, refusing to let her see what she was doing. “Okay, you have a coffee date on Thursday.”
“Wait, really?” Clarke was a little amazed at how fast Octavia had set it up.
“Yeah. I just told him that I don’t like to get to know people online so we should meet for coffee.” Octavia shrugged as Clarke read over the message thread. “It works every time. The only downside is that you end up with a higher change of actually meeting creeps, but that’s why you get coffee in the middle of the afternoon.”
Clarke had to appreciate Octavia’s logic, especially when she noticed that date was set for exactly an hour before she had class and was at Coffee Station, during Raven’s shift. “You’re pretty good at this, O.”
“I know.” Octavia shrugged. “By the time I met Lincoln I was pretty much an online dating genius.”
“Not as much of as genius as me,” Raven chimed in. The room was starting to smell like solder and Raven looked a bit woozy.
“You should probably open a window, Rae, before you pass out,” Clarke suggested, getting up to do just that. “We don’t want you dying before you can supervise my date on Thursday.”
Raven considered that for a moment before clumsily setting her soldering iron down and going to open another window for a cross breeze. “You’re right. I have to be at 100% if I’m going to fully appreciate you embarrassing yourself.”
“Why do you have so little faith in me? I’m charming as fuck.”
“You literally just had Octavia ask a guy out for you.”
“Well I’m not as charming online, but I am very charming in person.”
“Yeah, okay.” Raven rolled her eyes, returning to the circuit board she was working on.
Clarke was determined to make sure it was the best first date ever, just to prove Raven wrong.
The pretty blonde sitting at the next table over had not escaped Lexa’s notice. Lexa was pretty sure she had seen the girl at Coffee Station a couple of times before, but now she was sitting close enough to distract Lexa from the reading she was supposed to be doing. Not that it was difficult. Literally anything was more interesting than Hemingway.
Lexa studied at Coffee Station a lot, because the laid back atmosphere made it a good place to read, and unlike the rest of the study spots around campus, there was no wifi to distract her. And occasionally seeing pretty blonde girls didn’t hurt either.
Her attention was pulled away from her reading when the girl got up to greet a guy who had just walked in. From their awkward small talk it was obviously a date. Lexa felt a twinge of disappointment, which was ridiculous as she didn’t know the girl at all and would probably never interact with her. She returned to her book, determined to forget about the girl.
Her attempt didn’t last long however, because she could hear everything happening at the next table, and boy was the date not going well. The guy just wouldn’t stop talking, and the girl couldn’t get a word in edgewise. He had an opinion on everything, and the girl really didn’t seem impressed.
She eventually gave up on even pretending to read and started texting Anya the play-by-play.
Lexa: I’m at Coffee Station and there’s a couple here having what seems to be the worst first date ever
Anya: I don’t know, I’ve seen some pretty bad dates in my day
Lexa: This guy just won’t shut up, and the girl looks very done with him. it’s only been like five minutes
Lexa: He just said that he thinks Marx is overrated but he was really onto something with the ‘whole religion is the opiate of the masses thing’. She asked what he was studying. I’m not completely sure how he ended up there.
Anya: He sounds like quite the charmer
Lexa: She told him she’s an art major and he just started in on how useless art is. I think she might hit him.
Anya: I kind of hope she does at this point
Lexa: This is making me so glad I don’t date men
Anya: I honestly can’t even defend them
Lexa: She just got up and left. Didn’t even say a word, just walked out in the middle of his rant about the declining state of society
Anya: good for her. he sounds like a douche
Lexa: He’s mumbling about ‘fucking bitches’ now. I think I might hit him.
Anya: If you do I promise I’ll bail you out
Lexa went back to her book after the guy left, finding Hemingway much more palatable all of a sudden. Even he wasn’t as much of an insufferable jerk as that guy had been.
“What happened this afternoon?” Raven asked when she got home that night. “I looked over and you were gone.”
“It was awful so I left.” Clarke looked up from her sketchbook, trying not cringe at the memory of just how bad the date had been. “It was that or punch him.”
“I vote for punching him.” Clarke had already given Octavia the details, and she had to admit, punching him would have probably been more satisfying.
“Of course you vote for punching him.” Raven rolled her eyes at Octavia. “What happened? Was it really that bad?”
“It really was. He wouldn’t stop talking. Literally the only thing I said the entire time was that I’m an art major, and then he spent the next fifteen minutes ranting about how art is pointless and doesn’t contribute to society.” Clarke could feel herself getting angry again just describing it. “So I left.”
“Yeah, you really should have punched him,” Raven conceded.
“Weren’t you supposed to save me if the date was going badly? Some chaperone you were.” Clarke had tried to catch Raven’s eye several times that afternoon, but she had kept disappearing. Clarke was only a little bit bitter.
“Sorry about that.” Raven at least had the good grace to look abashed. “One of the espresso machines broke and I ended up spending most of my shift fixing it.”
Clarke huffed and made a face. “Fine, I guess I can forgive you for doing your job.”
“I mean it’s not technically my job, but it was more fun than making coffee for six hours.”
Clarke just glared at her. “You’re not helping.”
“What do you mean? I’m always the most helpful.” Raven gave her an overly innocent grin. Octavia laughed when Clarke threw one of the couch pillows at Raven.
Clarke rounded on Octavia. “You don’t get to laugh. You’re the one who insisted that I sign up for this stupid site and go on a date with that guy.”
“Hey, I warned you that sometimes you meet weirdos. You just have to keep going on dates until you meet someone you like. Eventually you will. If you give up after one bad date you’ll never meet anyone.”
“Look on the bright side,” Raven added. “Things can only get better from here.”
Clarke hated to admit that they had a point, but they did. And if she quit now she’d have to buy Octavia liquor, and on top of that they’d never let her forget it, and she wasn’t about to give them more fuel. “I guess you’re right.”
“Of course we are.” Octavia was a more gracious winner than Raven, but she still managed to make it sound like Clarke was crazy for only now realizing it. “Anyways, it’s a good thing you’re not giving up because you have another date on Tuesday, and one next Thursday too.”
“Really, O?” Clarke sometimes forgot how singled minded Octavia could be about things. It was funny when it Bellamy or Raven she was focused on, but Clarke didn’t like being the object of her attention nearly as much.
“Hey, it’s about quantity, not quality at this point. And if you want me to buy you alcohol at the end of this you need to go on at least one date a week.”
“No fair! You can’t change the terms once it’s already started,” Clarke complained.
“I’m not changing the terms, I’m specifying the terms. And I’m already setting up the dates for you, so you really can’t complain.”
“Fine, but if any of them are as bad as today’s I’m definitely going to punch someone.”
Lexa was moderately surprised to see that the pretty blonde girl was once again sitting at the next table over the next Tuesday. She hadn’t expected to see her back at Coffee Station after her disastrous date. Not that Lexa was complaining, but her presence did make it difficult to focus on writing her Hemingway paper.
She was more surprised when another guy came in and joined the girl and it became clear that she was on another first date. She resigned herself to not getting anymore of her paper written, as she listened to them awkwardly attempt to get to know each other.
Lexa: The girl from that horrible first date last week is back, and on another bad first date
Anya: At least she’s trying, unlike some people
Lexa: I’ll have you know that I asked that girl from the bookstore out last week
Anya: Did you actually ask her out or just randomly quote poetry at her and then run away?
Lexa: I don’t understand what you have against poetry
Anya: I don’t have anything against poetry. I have something against the way you randomly spout it at every pretty girl you see
Lexa: Anyways, she keeps asking him questions but he is only giving one word answers
Lexa: She’s trying so hard, and he’s giving her nothing. She just asked him what he wants to do with his degree and all he said was “get a job I guess”
Anya: Hey it sounds like it’s still better than the last one at least
Lexa: It’s a pretty low bar but yes
Lexa: She just very politely told him that she has to go to class, which is at least an improvement from the last time
Once the girl left, Lexa tried to keep working on her paper, but her focus was completely shot. A part of her hoped this would become a regular thing so she could keep seeing the girl, because she really was very pretty. Another part of her didn’t want it to, because the girl deserved better than the shitty guys she’d seen, but Lexa didn’t think she could stand to watch her go on a good date.
“Do you know anything about that girl?” Clarke asked, waiting for Raven to make her coffee. She nodded at the cute dark haired girl sitting at the table next to the one she’d claimed. “It seems like she’s always here.”
Clarke had some time to kill before her latest date so she was bugging Raven, mostly as payback for leaving her to her own devices during both of her previous horrible dates.
“Triple caramel soy latte extra foam? Not much. She comes in a lot, usually spends all afternoon reading.” Raven shrugged, handing Clarke her coffee. “Sometimes she comes in with the hot girl who flirts with me.”
“You mean the girl you thinks flirts with you but is probably just being nice?”
“Who said anything about her being nice?”
“You have a problem, you know that?”
Clarke took her coffee back to her table. She pulled out her sketchbook while she waited for her date, and found herself drawing the girl at the next table. She told herself that it was just because the way she was sitting, curled around her book with her feet propped up on a chair, made for an interesting figure study, but before she had time to think about it any more than that, her date showed up, and she braced herself for yet another bad first date.
(It ended up being the best one so far, but that wasn’t saying much. The guy was possibly the most boring man on the face of the earth, but he didn’t make her want to actively harm him, so it was a win in her book.)
The next Thursday Anya managed to scrounge up some work to do as an excuse to accompany Lexa to Coffee Station in hopes of seeing yet another bad date. Lexa knew she probably shouldn’t encourage Anya, because she really did want to study, but there was no dissuading her.
Lexa dutifully pointed out the girl when she came in, and ignored Anya’s excitement when a guy joined the girl and they started making standard first date small talk.
“It’s not that exciting.”
“From the way you talk about it, one would think differently.” Anya raised an eyebrow, and Lexa struggled to maintain her composure. “Anyways, my followers think otherwise.”
Anya waved her phone in Lexa’s face and then settled back in her seat.
“You’re tweeting this?”
“Of course I am, it’s a good story.” Anya shrugged as if it was the most obvious thing ever. “I’ve been posting your texts about it since it became clear it was a regular thing. Hashtag 50 worst dates.”
“That’s an atrocious pun.” Now it was Lexa’s turn to raise an eyebrow at Anya, but she just laughed, and turned her attention back to the date going on at the next table.
This particular guy seemed like he could maintain a moderately interesting conversation, which was an improvement from most of the others, but every couple of minutes he snorted in the most disgusting way possible, like he was trying to inhale the contents of his sinuses. Every time he did it, Lexa wanted to gag, and the girl looked like she felt the same way.
After about forty minutes the girl politely excused herself and left, and Anya dissolved into laughter.
“That was every bit as good as you made it seem. That girl is too nice, I don’t think I would have sat through that for as long as she did. That or she’s just really desperate.”
“She’s probably just trying to find someone to connect with.”
“You’ve got it bad, don’t you?” Lexa rolled her eyes at Anya, but she could feel her ears burning. “Just don’t start quoting poetry at her. She doesn’t need another weirdo to deal with.”
“I think the poetry is romantic.” Lexa knew she wasn’t going to win this argument. It was a regular point of contention between them, and Lexa rarely won arguments with Anya.
“It’s been well established that you thinking something is romantic doesn’t actually make it romantic. Need I remind you about the girl you literally set on fire with your weird candle obsession?”
“That was one time.”
“One time too many.”
Lexa shook her head and went back to her reading. “Are you going to study or just keep mocking me? Because unlike some I have actual work to get done today.”
Anya laughed and made a show of pulling out her notes and starting her homework. Lexa had to admit that Anya had a point though. She was starting to like this girl a lot, which was ridiculous because they had never actually met. But where was the harm in a little crush? It made her Thursday afternoons more interesting, that was for sure.
“Hey Clarke, you’re famous.” It was Friday night, but Octavia had gone out with Lincoln, so it was just her and Raven hanging out at home.
“What do you mean?”
Raven laughed and handed her computer to Clarke. “Have you seen this?”
Twitter was open, with a feed pulled up consisting of a series of tweets describing things that she quickly realized were all of the dates she had gone on in the past month. The fact that they all had hundreds of likes and retweets made her want to curl up and die from embarrassment.
“Oh my god. Please tell me this isn’t you.”
“Of course it’s not me. I’m a better friend than that, and I would have come up with a better hashtag than 50 worst dates.” Raven made a face to illustrate just how bad she thought the pun was. “But you gotta admit it’s kind of funny.”
“It’s embarrassing is what it is.”
“They’re funny tweets, and at least they make fun of the guys and not you.” Raven was right. They were good stories, and it wasn’t like anyone could link it to her.
“If it’s not you, and it’s not Octavia, then who is it?” Clarke hadn’t told the details of her dates to anyone but her roommates, but there was no way it was one of them.
“Probably just one of the regulars at Coffee Station. I can pretty much hear everything from the bar, so I assume that everyone else can too.”
That was even more embarrassing. She took some consolation from the fact that whoever was live tweeting her dates seemed to be sympathetic, but it wasn’t much help.
“Eventually one of these dates has to go well, right? And then it won’t be fun to tweet about them anymore, and this whole thing will blow over.”
Raven gave her a sympathetic look. “I’m sure it will.”
She really wanted to just give up on this whole endeavor, but she was too stubborn to quit now, especially since quitting would meaning letting Octavia win, and that was the only thing she liked less than letting Raven win. She really needed better friends.
The pretty girl came in right on schedule the next week. Lexa wasn’t quite sure when she had started looking forward to Thursday afternoons, or when she had come to expect seeing the pretty girl show up for her dates about half an hour early, but the time before the guys showed up was the highlight of her week. Anya was right, she really did have it bad.
She settled in to try and do her modern poetry reading, but she kept catching herself stealing glances at the girl, who was sketching something. After a while she realized that if the girl had a date today, he was late. She wasn’t sure if she was happy about the prospect of the girl not having a date or disappointed because it had become such a regular thing.
Anya: Where are my highlights from this week’s horrible date? Don’t tell me she has a date that’s going well
Lexa: She’s here but she’s alone. Maybe she got stood up
Lexa: Wait…oh my god
Anya: What happened?
Anya: The suspense is killing me here
Lexa: Nothing exciting. Her date is a girl this time.
Anya: Seems like you might actually have a shot then. Unless you panicked and did something embarrassing.
Lexa: …I did nothing of the sort
Anya: You spilled your drink didn’t you
Anya: I’m taking your silence as confirmation
Lexa hated that Anya had correctly guessed that she had spilled coffee all over herself. To add insult to injury, she had also choked on her drink and had a coughing fit, which had drawn the girl’s attention, so now she was thoroughly embarrassed and covered in coffee.
One of the baristas noticed her plight and came over with a washcloth and a glass of water.
“You know, I’ve seen you watching her. I could just give her your number if you wanted,” the barista offered after she finished wiping down the table.
Lexa felt her face turn bright red, and she stared at the barista for what was probably way too long before she remembered to speak. “No…no I don’t want that.”
The barista looked like she was trying not to laugh at Lexa’s obvious discomfort. “Okay, have it your way.”
Lexa was mortified by the whole encounter. She was pretty sure she could never show her face there again. She wasn’t sure if the worst part of the whole thing was losing her favorite study spot or the fact that Anya was never going to let her live this down.
Clarke hadn’t seen the cute reading girl at Coffee Station for a couple of weeks, not since she had practically run out after spilling coffee on herself. She asked Raven if she knew anything about it. She claimed ignorance, although she was a bit too innocent about it in Clarke’s opinion.
Clarke missed seeing the girl. She had become one her favorite subjects, and her sketchbook was filled with half completed drawings of her that Clarke did while waiting for her dates.
Her dates were slowly improving, with the last one she went on being almost pleasant, but more than once she had caught herself thinking about the missing reading girl, wondering if she would be more interesting to talk to than John the accounting major.
She took consolation in the knowledge that she was more than halfway through her ridiculous bet with Octavia. She could suck it up and get through a couple more weeks of lackluster dates. At least at the end of it should would have bragging rights and liquor, which were two of her very favorite things.
Lexa avoided the Coffee Station for as long as she possibly could, but midterms were coming up so all the other good study spots around campus were packed, and she really needed to work on her modern poetry paper.
So she swallowed her pride and went back. Just as she was settling into the groove of writing her paper the pretty girl showed up. Lexa could have sworn that the girl smiled when she saw her, but she just buried herself in her computer, trying to forget how mortified she still was from the last time.
After a while a guy showed up and joined the girl, and they fell into a familiar rhythm of a date. Lexa was almost surprised that the girl was still going on regular first dates after over two months, but she was determined to just ignore it this time and get her work done.
Once again she found herself paying more attention to the date than to her paper, since this guy seemed like the worst one yet, and the girl was having none of it.
Lexa : I went back to Coffee Station and that girl is here on yet another date
Anya: I admire her dedication if nothing else
Lexa: I think this one may the worst yet though. The guy is a total douche. He just said, and I quote ‘your profile says your bi, so you must be down to party’
Lexa: She just told him to leave. Now he’s complaining that she doesn’t know how to take a joke. She looks pissed
Lexa: Oh my god she just punched him in the face
Lexa: His nose is bleeding, and now he’s threatening to call the cops
Anya: Hahaha he obviously deserved it
Lexa: She told him that he could call the cops if he wanted to, but then he’d have to admit he was hit by a girl and now he’s leaving with his tail between his legs
Lexa: I think I’m in love
Anya: Of course you are
Clarke shook out her hand, while Raven cleaned up the blood from douche-face’s nose. She really shouldn’t have hit him, but he was being so horrible she had snapped. She was glad that Octavia had taught her to throw a proper punch though, because her hand hurt but she was pretty sure nothing was broken.
“I can’t believe you actually hit him.” Raven was far too excited about what had happened, but Clarke couldn’t fault her for it. It was probably the most exciting thing to happen in the small coffee shop in a long time.
“I told you that I was going to hit the next douchebag I went out with.”
“I mean yeah, but I never thought you’d actually do it.”
Clarke noticed the cute reading girl was sitting watching her, not even pretending to be working. She had been thrilled that the girl had finally come back, before douche-face had ruined her good mood.
Maybe it was just the adrenaline high from punching a guy, but the way the girl smiled at her before dropping her eyes back to her computer gave her an idea.
“What did douche-face order?” She asked Raven, picking up his untouched coffee that had miraculously not gotten any blood on it.
“A soy mocha latte I think.”
“Perfect.” Raven gave her a confused look when she grabbed her drink and went over to the cute girl’s table.
She sat down across from her and handed her douche-face’s drink. “It would be a shame to let this go to waste.”
The girl looked at her in surprise, and Clarke noticed the pink rising in her cheeks. It really only made her cuter. “Um…thanks.”
“It’s soy, and I promise it didn’t get any blood on it,” Clarke added. The girl shook her head, laughing softly.
“Awed by her splendor stars near the lovely moon cover their own bright faces when she is roundest and lights earth with her silver,” she recited quietly, almost under her breath.
“That’s pretty, who is it?” Clarke asked, charmed by this girl who was reciting poetry before even asking her name.
“Sappho.” She seemed a bit embarrassed by the admission, and Clarke couldn’t help but laugh.
“I was right. You’re already more interesting than every single one of those guys put together.”
Lexa couldn’t believe her luck. She had spent the entire afternoon talking to the pretty girl, Clarke she reminded herself, and had left with a kiss and a number and a promise of meeting again soon.
Anya could suck it, the poetry had worked.