Lexa squeezes her eyes closed and focuses on how cold the glass windowpane feels against her forehead, the chill seeping into her bones.
Behind her, the door creaks open, followed by the clomp of boots and a gust of wind, but Lexa doesn’t move. Goosebumps are sprouting all over her skin and maybe, just maybe, she’ll freeze over -- being an icicle is better than living through this disaster.
“I got the rest of the stuff from the car,” Clarke says in a rasping voice, like she’s out of breath. “My dad always makes me keep blankets, some non-perishable food, and water in the trunk, and I always complained that they took up too much space. Guess I’ll have to thank him when I get home.”
Lexa huffs, the corners of her lips creeping upward, smiling against her will. When she opens her eyes she finds the glass has fogged up from her breath, and all she can see is a blur of white.
Clarke sounds closer now, like she’s right behind her. Lexa winces at the worry in her voice. Steeling herself, she steps away from the window turns around.
“Thank you, Clarke,” she says.
It’s bright out, despite the storm, and Clarke looks beautiful in the gentle winter light. An oversized knit hat is pulled down over her ears, its pom-pom adorably askew, and her cheeks are rosy from braving the short walk to the car.
Lexa swallows, feeling herself thaw. Some icicle she’d make.
She digs her phone out of her pocket and checks to see if Anya had texted her again, hopefully to tell her that this was all some big joke -- that the police hadn’t closed the roads due to the storm and that she, Raven, and the others were actually going to join them at the ski cabin after all -- but, no. Zero new messages.
“So,” Clarke says, clasping her hands together. “Guess we’re gonna be here for a while. What do you want to do?”
Lexa shrugs and smiles weakly, hoping the terror she’s feeling doesn’t show on her face. Because what she wants to do is run.
What she wants is to be anywhere other than snowed in at a romantic cabin with her probably straight crush.
“Why would your father choose these items for your car’s emergency food supply?”
“I’m the one who chose them -- he just said to get non-perishables.” Clarke glances at her as she continues opening the box in her hand. “Why?”
“It barely counts as food,” Lexa says, glancing at the sad array spread out on the kitchen table. “There’s hardly anything with nutritional value.”
Clarke smiles at her, tongue caught between her teeth. Lexa rolls her eyes and looks away, hoping Clarke can’t see the flush creeping up her chest. Then something soft and a little sticky smacks her cheek, and her blush deepens.
She catches the second marshmallow Clarke throws at her and holds it in her palm.
“I figured if I was ever in such dire straights that I needed to break into the emergency food supply, I’d want comfort food,” Clarke says, before taking the treat from Lexa’s hand and popping it into her mouth. “Don’t s’mores remind you of, like, summer camping trips with your family, singing songs around the fire?”
“No,” Lexa says, definitely not focusing on the way Clarke brings her thumb to her mouth, licking a bit of marshmallow from her finger. “I’ve, um, actually never had one before. So they don’t remind me of anything.”
“Oh my god!” Clarke springs forward, absolutely beaming, and grasps Lexa’s shoulders. Lexa’s not sure why she’s so happy, but she can’t help but smile in response. “You know what this means, right? For the rest of your life, s’mores will remind you of this trip! Wow, that’s a lot of pressure, but I am up for the challenge. We’re going to make the most of being snowed in, Lexa Woods -- starting with the best s’more of your life.”
Clarke squeezes her shoulders before she bounds away, back to readying the ingredients. Lexa’s glad she’s preoccupied, because her next thought makes her face fall.
No, she thinks, for the rest of my life, s’mores will remind me of you..
“Clarke, we’ve been playing for an hour and you haven’t picked dare once.”
“That’s because dares usually require standing up and I’m too comfortable and warm.”
Clarke burrows in deeper into the couch and tugs the blanket up under her chin, as if to prove her point. In the process, her ankle winds up on top of Lexa’s. She leaves it there, a warm weight on Lexa’s shin, and Lexa has to fight back the excitement that’s building in her gut.
They’re sharing a small couch, and Clarke is one of those people who feels at home with everyone. It doesn’t mean anything.
“Fine,” Lexa says, reaching for her mug to buy herself some time to think.
She’s running out of safe truths to ask Clarke (she’s steering away from questions that could result in answers related to stories about her ex-boyfriends, or childhood, or anything that will make her like Clarke more) and the dark, syrupy liquor they found in the cabinet isn’t helping.
“Come on, Lex, we don’t have all day.”
“We do, actually.”
Clarke kicks Lexa playfully and her foot ends up hooked under Lexa’s calf. Clarke bites her lip and grins at her, lifting one eyebrow like a challenge. And Lexa should probably stop drinking, because the next thing she knows she’s slouching against the arm of the couch until her heel presses into the outside of Clarke’s thigh.
It’s probably from the booze, but she thinks Clarke’s cheeks heat up.
“We don’t, actually,” Clarke says. “I have other things planned for us.”
“Yeah right.” Lexa takes another sip of the liquor and grimaces -- bourbon (or brandy or whatever it is) doesn’t mix well with chocolate and marshmallows. (Though, she has to admit, the s’mores were pretty delicious.) “It’s unlikely the power will come back on anytime soon and, as I already told you, I’m not going outside to build a snowman.”
Clarke reaches for her mug on the coffee table and brings it to her lips, tipping it back and swallowing its contents in one gulp. She holds Lexa’s stare as she wipes the back of her hand across her mouth.
“Believe it or not, I have an activity for us that doesn’t involve electricity or going out into a blizzard,” Clarke says.
She looks rather pleased with herself, lazy smirk smeared across her face, and suddenly Lexa feels incredibly stir-crazy. It’s murky, this new territory they’re wading into, and she knows it’s dangerous to straddle the line.
Setting her jaw, Lexa sits up straight on the couch and pulls her legs in, crossing them at the ankle. Clarke’s face falls and Lexa downs the rest of her drink to distract herself. It’s better, this way. It’s for the best.
“Have you ever kissed a girl?”
Lexa’s pretty sure she looks as shocked as Clarke does that she asked that question, and she quickly schools her features back into place. Lexa scowls, wondering how her mouth could betray her like that. The smirk is on Clarke’s face again.
“Is that my truth?” Clarke asks.
“Uh…” Lexa opens her mouth and closes it. Then she nods, deciding to be brave. “Yes.”
“Is that your answer?”
Clarke lifts her chin, eyes locked on Lexa like she’s trying to get a read on her face. Her eyes drop to Lexa’s neck when she swallows, and when Clarke meets Lexa’s gaze again she looks smug, like she’s found the answer she was looking for.
“Now you,” Clarke says.
Lexa blinks. “Have I ever kissed a girl?”
“Pfft, no.” Clarke rolls her eyes. “I know you have -- the girl I sit next to in Art History doodled your name in her notebook for, like, a week. And I’ve seen you sneaking away with girls at parties. You’re not very subtle, Lex.”
The last sentence comes out sharp, sounding something close to jealousy, and the treacherous excitement gathers in Lexa’s chest again. She and Clarke have often attended the same parties ever since Anya and Raven became bosom buddies freshman year, but aside from exchanging pleasantries they’ve mostly hung out with their own friends. The thought of Clarke noticing her -- keeping tabs on her, even -- is too much for Lexa’s tipsy mind to process.
So she just shrugs. “I wasn’t trying to be subtle.”
“Anyway.” Clarke clears her throat and sits up straight against the arm of the couch. “I meant it’s your turn -- truth or dare?”
Lexa chooses it for the same reason Clarke won’t -- any excuse to get up off this loveseat and away from the confusing, heated exchange would be a godsend. But, of course, nothing’s going her way today.
“Give me your hand.” Clarke looks deadly serious, her jaw set tight. “The left one.”
“What kind of dare is that, Clarke?”
“Explaining the dare isn’t part of Truth or Dare,” she says, pushing the blanket down to her waist. “So give me your hand or take a shot.”
More alcohol is definitely the last thing Lexa needs right now, so she leans forward a bit and holds out her left arm. The next thing she knows Clarke is slipping out from under her blanket entirely and crawling toward Lexa, settling down on top of her knees.
Lexa’s pretty sure she gasps when Clarke takes hold of her wrist and guides her left ring finger into her mouth. She sucks lightly at her fingertip before swirling her tongue, then takes her deeper, wet lips reaching her second knuckle.
When Clarke finally releases her finger with a soft pop her pupils are blown wide, and Lexa feels like her whole body is flushing.
“You had a bit of chocolate on there for like an hour,” Clarke says, shimmying back to her side of the couch. “It was driving me nuts.”
Lexa curses all types of precipitation -- frozen and otherwise -- as she finishes lighting the candles.
The effects of the alcohol have mostly worn off, leaving her with a nice buzz and a pit in the bottom of her stomach. They crossed the line somewhere back there and sure, maybe Clarke isn’t straight, but that might even be worse for Lexa and the state of her crush. Because now Clarke is ever-so-slightly less unattainable, and that knowledge is going to make Lexa’s feelings even harder to get rid of.
And, on top of that, Lexa now knows just how beautiful Clarke looks like by candlelight.
They’re sitting on the carpet wrapped in blankets, shivering every time the wind howls through the eaves of the cabin. There are candles everywhere. Lexa found a stash in a kitchen drawer and she spaced them out throughout the house, because the city girl in her getting creeped out by just how dark it is out here. But now even the darkness seems preferable to seeing candlelight flicker across Clarke’s features as she smiles at her, pushing a few strands of hair behind her ear.
“Have you ever done this before?” Clarke asks with a teasing smirk.
“Yes.” (She hasn’t, but she’s sick of admitting to that.)
“So we just rest our hands lightly on this little triangle bit and it’ll sort of move across the board on its own accord.”
“I said I’ve played before, Clarke.”
“Right.” Clarke presses her lips together, hiding a smile. “Okay, what should we ask?”
Lexa stammers. She’s seen this done in movies, but she never quite grasped the point. “Why did you have this in your car again?”
Clarke quirks a brow at her. “You just never know when you’ll need to convene with the dead.”
“Hah, right.” Lexa hates herself for somehow finding Clarke driving around with a Ouija board in her trunk adorable. “You can ask first.”
“Hmm, let me see… Ah, got one! Okay, put your fingers on there.”
They both settle their hands on the wooden triangle and Lexa sucks in a breath when their pinkies touch. Clarke pauses, eyes trained on their hands, and Lexa wonders if the game has already begun.
“Don’t you have to ask out loud?”
Clarke startles, shaking her head as if to clear her thoughts. “Sorry,” she laughs. “I was trying to think of a good one.”
“Right,” Lexa says, letting it slide.
She inches closer until her hip bumps into Clarke’s. Clarke smiles at her, then closes her eyes and takes a deep breath.
“Have Lexa and I met in another life?”
Lexa almost laughs, because that’s not the kind of question she was expecting. She thought this game was supposed to be about “talking” to the dead, not asking existential questions of the universe. But Clarke seems so serious, eyes trained on the board, so Lexa keeps her thoughts to herself.
For a minute it seems like nothing is going to happen, but all of a sudden the triangle starts to move. Lexa gasps and Clarke turns to grin at her before returning her attention to the board. Clarke says each letter out loud.
Her voice is breathy with excitement, and Lexa gives up on watching the board to look at Clarke’s face.
Clarke’s brow knits like she’s trying to piece the letters together, like there’s actually a force other than gravity and maybe magnetism at work, here. It’s so damn endearing -- her faith in the universe -- that Lexa finds herself leaning in closer.
It’s nonsense -- or at least not English -- but for some reason the hairs on the back of Lexa’s neck stand up. Clarke blinks, and even in the candlelight Lexa can see her eyes are wet.
The wooden triangle stops.
Clarke sits back on her haunches and looks at Lexa, face full of emotion, and Lexa can only meet her gaze and nod. She briefly wonders if there was something weird in the liquor -- or maybe in the cups -- because she barely knows Clarke, but right now it’s like she can tell exactly how she’s feeling.
The blankets pool at their waists as they lean in, resting their foreheads together and breathing hard.
“What was that?” Clarke whispers.
“I don’t know.”
Lexa has imagined kissing Clarke many, many times, but not once did she ever think it’d be this gentle. She’s hesitant when their lips finally meet because she wants to make sure Clarke is okay, to be certain that she wants this, too.
They part and come together again and, this time, Clarke parts her lips, taking Lexa’s bottom lip between hers and sucking on it lightly. They keep kissing at that easy pace until the gentleness simmers away. Lexa changes the angle of her head, nose brushing over Clarke’s, and when their mouths meet again her lips are trembling.
Clarke wraps her arms around Lexa’s neck and she licks into her mouth, and it’s all Lexa can do to keep up. Her brain is buzzing, because part of her can’t believe this is happening, but another part has seen it coming all along. She strokes her fingers through Clarke’s hair and kisses her back hard, top lip catching on Clarke’s teeth.
The wind is still howling when Clarke presses Lexa back onto the carpet, warm and soft on top of her. Lexa takes Clarke’s face in her hands -- stopping her for a moment so they can catch their breath -- the way Clarke looks at her makes her think the universe answered her question after all.