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Stronger Together

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Maggie swallowed hard, trying to force down her nerves before leaving the apartment for the hotel. It’s for a good cause, she repeated to herself like a mantra, using it to steady her breathing and slow her racing pulse. It wasn’t like she had never gone out in drag before, but Alex had certainly never seen it. Plus, it had been a number of years since she’d been one of the contestants in the annual drag show her LGBTQ group did during Pride month to raise money for Project Trevor. It was the charity that kept her feet moving toward her doorway. The knowledge that she’d be getting up on stage in front of a very large—even if they were friendly—crowd was what kept drawing her back into her living room. Finally she sucked it up, threw on her butchiest leather jacket, grabbed her helmet, and took off for the hotel ballroom where the event was being held. Nothing like a swanky venue to get the well-to-do gay gentry to open their wallets.

On the ride over, Maggie wondered about Alex’s reaction. It wasn’t like either of them were high femme, but still, her wardrobe rarely looked like this. She had called Jay, an ex and a very good friend, to come over and help her get ready. They brought plenty of supplies, and, having participated in the show in years past and performed with a few of the local drag king groups, they knew exactly what they were doing.

“Your girl won’t be able to keep her hands off you,” Jay had winked, swatting playfully at Maggie’s ass when the woman had bent over to lace up her Tims.

“So long as she doesn’t laugh, that’s all I care about,” Maggie had grumbled in reply. She reached down and none too discreetly adjusted her silicone package.

“Look at you! Getting into the spirit already,” Jay teased, knocking the brim of Maggie’s snapback.

“Shut up. You know I hate it when guys do it. I’m just, ya know, trying to make sure it stays in the right spot and all.”

“Mhm, right spot meaning where it’ll feel good when your girl—”

Maggie cut off Jay’s comments with a loud hushing motion and a chocolate chip cookie being shoved into their mouth. “Nope! Your teasing will have to wait for when I don’t feel like I’m going to have a panic attack about having to strut on stage in front of all the rich people and my girlfriend.”

“Come on, just relax a bit. Wanna smoke a little? Always helps me to take the edge off.”

“I’m a cop,” Maggie deadpanned.

“Buzzkill,” Jay retorted, a playful lilt in their voice.

“Employed,” Maggie shot back with her tongue out.

“As am I, dear. But okay, you know what you can try? I like to remember that when done right, drag fucks with literally everyone in your audience. Like, you want to be so real that you’ve got the gays boys trying to figure out why they want you.”

Maggie smirked at that image. It was just like Jay to play to Maggie’s competitive side; she never could resist a challenge.

“Hate to knock that smirk off your face, but I need you to take your top off. C’mon, let’s bind your chest.”

“Hmm, an innocent bystander might think you just want to see me topless again,” Maggie teased.

“In your dreams, Sawyer,” Jay shot back, spinning Maggie around as they carefully wrapped the binder around her chest, pulling it snug but not so tight that it would hurt Maggie. “How’s that feel?”

“Eh, like it did the last time we were in a drag show together. But seriously, you’re a lifesaver. I couldn’t have done this without you.”

“Don’t I know it. And that’s exactly why you’re buying me brunch tomorrow morning.”

“Of course.”

Jay tossed Maggie a tight white t-shirt and a white Oxford, helping to fix her collar while Maggie tucked the t-shirt into her black jeans. “Do I tuck in everything?” Maggie asked.

“Nah, you don’t have a tie or belt, so leave it untucked. It’s not long enough to look sloppy.”

“Lifesaver,” Maggie repeated, pulling Jay in for a long hug.

“Now get that cute ass over to the hotel,” Jay yelled out, while packing up their stuff. “I’m sorry I won’t get to see you out on that stage, but you better send me pictures. And tomorrow I get to hear all the dirty details at brunch.”

“It’s called ‘no shame brunch’ for a reason,” Maggie shot back with a grin.

Of course, it had taken another half hour for Maggie to work up the nerve to finally leave her apartment, but now she was just a few blocks away from the hotel. She just kept reminding herself that the event was one she had helped to spearhead many years ago, that it raised a ton of money for people in the community.

While Maggie was parking her bike, she felt her phone buzz in her pocket. Once everything was settled, she read through the text messages she had missed:

Alex: “Can’t wait to see you tonight babe!”

Jay: “Kick ass, Mags. Just remember how hot you look and you’ll be great. Keep replaying drag ball 2008 if you need a reminder.”

Maggie rolled her eyes at Jay’s texts; they always knew what to say to get her confidence back up. Back in 2008 she had come in a full tuxedo, and she would neither confirm nor deny leaving with a woman on either arm. But she would absolutely confirm the number of phone numbers that were suddenly in her contact list. Sure, she had gone for a different look tonight, since it wasn’t black tie this year, but she just had to channel the same cockiness she had as a young, non-white, non-straight, non-male rookie cop who needed to make up for everyone else’s judgment with her own self-assuredness.

With a newfound spring in her step, which she widened to a more traditionally masculine swagger, Maggie made her way into the hotel, slipping her snapback on and making sure her hair had stayed pinned up and off of her neck. She smirked at the sight of a twenty-something woman biting her lip and clearly checking her out. She wondered how the woman read her, and she found the ambiguity delightful.

“Donna!” Maggie yelled out when she got to the ballroom, finding the redhead strutting across the stage and barking orders at her helpers.

“Why, Maggie Sawyer, is that you?” Donna called back, openly appraising Maggie’s outfit.

“Don’t I get a new name for the night?” Maggie joked.

“Oh I think you’re still going to be Officer Sawyer. I’ve got too many handcuff jokes ready to give you a new identity this year. But come in here, baby!” Donna opened her arms wide, pulling Maggie into a tight embrace. “How are you?”

“Good. Little nervous. But good. What about you? I’m sorry I had to miss the last fundraiser. Work emergency, you know how it is.”

“Don’t worry about a thing. You do more than the pretty boy who took over your spot on the planning committee ever could,” Donna reassured her, raising her voice enough that a lanky blonde boy looked up and rolled his eyes, shrugging off her teasing reproach. He had been around long enough to know that Donna was only openly mean to those she cared about. Plus, she had known him since he was a new fresh-out-of-the-closet baby gay, and she knew damn well that he got his work done, even if he took a long break every now and then to chase down a particularly cute guy.

“I got Jay to do my makeup, so I figured it was okay to come a little closer to show time than usual. Anything I need to do?”

Donna looked over Maggie’s face, giving her contouring and shading a nod of approval. “Jay does good work. Tell them I want them back in my show next year! No excuses! You can store your stuff in the back with the other participants. Do you want scruff or any facial hair? I think Diamond has a station set up for it in the back.”

“Nah, I’m just gonna stick with the shadows Jay gave me this year.”

“Your girl doesn’t like the feel of stubble?” Donna asked with a knowing eyebrow raise.

Maggie blushed slightly. “Not so much. Hell, I don’t even know if she’ll like this.”

“Please, you look hot, Sawyer. And there’s nothing like seeing a bunch of other women fawning over your girl to make a woman want to claim what’s hers, unless of course you’re looking to take home a third tonight…?”

Maggie blushed again, shaking her head. “No!” she squeaked. “Nope, not this year.”

Donna cackled and shoved Maggie off toward the back to hang out with the other volunteers. “Play nice!” she called after Maggie, earning a dismissive wave.

---

Alex hurried Kara along. “Come on! We can’t be late. I don’t want to miss Maggie!”

“I’m coming,” Kara whined. “It’s not like we’re going to be late. Lena is giving us a ride, and she’s their biggest donor. I doubt they’ll start without her.”

Alex chuckled. “I still can’t believe you didn’t realize she was gay all this time.”

“There are allies,” Kara grumbled, pouting at Alex.

“Mhm, because allies totally look at their ‘friends’ the way she looked at you…”

“We figured it out eventually. Give me some credit!” Kara protested.

“Thanks to a healthy serving of alien alcohol and the courage of a one Lena Luthor,” Alex sassed back.

“And yet you still get all weird when you find us together.”

“There’s a difference between seeing that you two are both flirting and actually having to see you two hooking up on your sofa. One involves the idea of romance. The other involves the reality of ‘oh god, that’s my sister!’”

Kara giggled and tossed a pillow at Alex, who just barely dodged it. “Lena’s here!” Kara squealed, grabbing her clutch and running for the door.

By the time they arrived, the show hadn’t started, but the room had filled to near capacity. The silent auction in the back was going swimmingly, with donations already reaching above and beyond the ask price for the items with another hour or two to go before they closed. Alex looked around for Maggie, but, when she couldn’t find her girlfriend, she figured she must be in the back with all of the other volunteers. Plucking a glass of champagne off of one of the waiter’s trays, Alex turned to survey the room while Kara and Lena made their way around the perimeter, checking out all of the items up for auction. The crowd looked amazing, having taken “business attire” in very different and very creative directions.

A little while later, a stunning woman in a black dress took the stage, tossing her mane of curly red hair over her shoulder as she waved to the audience, half of whom seemed to know her already. “Good evening, ladies and gentleman, bois and queens, and everyone in between! Welcome to our annual National City Drag Ball! As a reminder, tonight’s donations will go to the Trevor Project. They have representatives all around the room if you want to sign up to volunteer or learn more about the wonderful work they do. Keeping that in mind, don’t feel guilty about opening your hearts and wallets for us all tonight! And as payment, we have quite the show lined up for you. We’ll be bringing our kings and queens out on stage for you to admire as they strut down our homemade catwalk, then we’ll set them loose among you to mingle for the evening. And, new this year, we’ve decided to let you all vote with your entrance ticket to crown this year’s drag ball winners. Think of them as the prom kings and queens you always wished you had! Now, without further ado, let me introduce our first queen!”

Alex applauded with the rest of the crowd as Donna, she learned the woman’s name from Lena, began the show. The show began with the drag queens, and Alex had to admit, they were amazing performers. They strutted their stuff across the runway, most of them stopping to dance to the music with some very impressive dance moves—moves made all the more impressive by the sky-high heels most of them were rocking. When all of them had gotten their turn, Donna brought them all back onstage to go over their names one last time for the voting portion, then sent them to the back for the drag king show.

Kara jumped up and down and pulled at Alex’s arm. “Do you know when Maggie’s up? Did she tell you? What does her outfit look like?” Kara whispered excitedly in Alex’s ear.

“I don’t know! She left it all as a surprise,” Alex hissed back. “Now quiet down! I want to pay attention.”

The women stood in rapt attention as the first drag kings made their way across the stage. They chuckled along with Donna’s witty commentary and remarked upon all of the outfits. The first volunteer, a lanky Black woman with a bright smile, strode across stage in a three-piece suit, flashing her pearly whites at the women in the front room who seemed to actually swoon at her attention. Next up was a short, muscular woman who came out in full army regalia, followed by another participant in bright white sneakers, jeans, and a Chicago Bulls jersey with the attitude to match.

Finally Alex heard Donna announce that “Officer Sawyer” would be taking the stage, making some joke about what this king might do with his handcuffs. But beyond that, Alex didn’t hear a word Donna said because all she could focus on was Maggie—or rather, Officer Sawyer. Alex didn’t even care that she must look like a drooling idiot watching her girlfriend strut across the stage in full-on swagger mode. Alex could swear that from back here, it looked like Maggie even had a bit of five-o’clock shadow. Her black jeans weren’t tight, but she could still see the outline of Maggie’s toned ass through them, and she had rolled up her sleeves enough to show off her muscled forearms perfectly. But what Alex took note of most of all was the attitude Maggie was exuding—sheer cockiness, like she knew damn well how hot she looked. Alex was too enamored to pay attention through the rest of the show, silently apologizing to whatever drag kings followed Maggie’s act for not even noticing them. She had managed to pull her jaw back up, but she was sure her pupils were still blown with desire by the time they set the contestants loose into the audience.