It's not something she thought of, going in. She should have, Kate knows that now, but she didn't. She can't even say she thought it was impossible. She just didn't think about it. It wasn't on the radar.
Then there was Renee and, Renee had been drawn into Kate's world. She wasn't ready, she thinks. Not like she is now. She wishes there were someone to talk to about this, but Batman doesn't seem the type for heart to hearts and neither is she.
Still, she has a feeling Batman's solved this particular problem by avoiding it entirely (rumors about the Justice League aside) and that isn't possible for her. She reminds herself that Maggie isn't Renee and whatever happens, it will be different this time.
With Maggie standing in her kitchen, skin sleep-warm and tempting, Kate finds herself in the unwanted position of doubting that when Maggie's fingers ghost over her shoulder and the bruise left bare by her robe. Her eyes fix on Kate's face and Kate's stomach sinks.
"This isn't from last night, is it?" Maggie asks. "This looks about three days old." Kate remembers the fight, slamming her shoulder, but it's the realization that this is just the first unexplained bruise. If her career as Batwoman is anything like the Batman's, it will be joined by many more like it. And that's if she's lucky.
"I've taken up boxing again." The lie falls easily from her lips. She's prepared for this, she's done this before, but that doesn't stop the rush of guilt or the fear as she waits for Maggie's reaction. She tries not to fidget, not to give anything away to the detective standing before her.
If Maggie notices, then she betrays nothing. Instead, she believes Kate and lets herself be drawn off topic.
Kate pulls her close, kisses her, and tries not to feel the sickening sense of relief that steals over her.
Maggie slumps against the mattress, cheeks flushed and eyes blown wide. She looks relaxed, loved, and Kate presses her face against her shoulder. Her heart's pounding in her ears and Maggie's short nails are sliding up and down her spine, the teasing touch enough to keep her blood racing.
"Call in," she whispers, lips brushing Maggie's skin with every word. "Stay here with me." She closes her eyes and feels the cold of a Gotham night closing in. The Weeping Woman won't quite leave her. Just beneath the sound of their breathing she can hear water and tears.
She shivers. Shudders, really. She's cold to the core, clammy, and Maggie's body against hers offers no solace. This isn't what she signed up for and she feels weak even thinking about it. She'd known it would be bad, Gotham has never been kind to her protectors, but this is hollowing her out.
Maggie's fingers card through her hair, skimming it behind her ear and guiding up. "Hey," she says, quiet and worried. "Are you all right?"
Kate looks at Maggie. She's not the only one who's suffered through this. She can look at Maggie and see the toll this case has taken on her. Maggie's exhausted, weary, and Kate presses her lips together to hold back another shudder.
She thought lying to Maggie would be the worst; she was wrong. This is worse. "I'm fine," she says, the lie thick on her tongue. "Promise."
She pulls together a smile that's almost real and moves; she slides her body up Maggie's to rest her forehead against hers. "You're exhausted," she says, instead. "This case—you're worn out. Just take one day," she whispers, her hand moving down Maggie's arm to curl her fingers around Maggie's. "Just one."
"Kate." Her name on Maggie's lips is the kind of thrill Kate lives for. She lets the warmth of it wrap around her, hold her close, and savor the feeling. "What aren't you telling me? What's wrong?"
Everything. "Nothing," she says, kissing her. "I'm worried about you."
It's the truth. Or, at least, as close to it as the Batwoman will ever allow her to get.
Kate's late for a date. Her fault, this time, and not Batwoman's. Even though that's whose skin she's wearing when she steps into Bette's room to be greeted by the bank of equipment keeping her cousin alive.
She lets the window slide closed and moves for the bed. Bette looks better today, features peaceful, and Kate's gaze goes to the monitors. They tell her nothing, but Kate's never come here for answers. She's not sure why she comes here, really. She just stands and waits, the DEO-provided suit like a collar pulled tight enough to make every breath a battle.
When she goes, she bends to kiss Bette's forehead goodbye. The wig she wears swings forward with her and it's like looking through a veil of blood.
Batwoman runs from nothing, but Kate bolts into the night. She doesn't pretend she isn't shaking when she does.
By the time she dashes into the restaurant, none of that shows on her face.
"Sorry," she says, trying to put just the right amount of sheepish into her smile. "Fashion emergency."
"It's fine." Maggie's eyes sweep over her, curious, then she smiles with the kind of intent that makes Kate's heart beat faster. "More than fine," she reaches out, one finger sliding down the shoulder left bare by the dress Kate's wearing. It's a sleek little thing, clinging everywhere, and it's not something she usually wears, but the look in Maggie's eyes makes it worth the extra time it took to change. "In fact, I would say it was well worth the wait."
Kate's smile might not be a lie when she lets Maggie draw her onto the dance floor, but it's not the truth either and, maybe, that's the point.
She doesn't know how Maggie can't see it. Maybe it's her guilty conscience talking, but each and every time Batwoman and Detective Sawyer meet, Kate doesn't know how Maggie doesn't look at her and know.
Kate knows the value of a good disguise and how easy it is to trick the mind. She's made good use of that particular failing. She depends on it.
Still, when Maggie runs into the Batwoman at crime scenes and in dark alleys, Kate wonders. She stands across from Maggie, keeping to the shadows as much as she can, and can't quite shake the uneasy feeling.
She keeps waiting for an accusation that never comes and, sometimes, she worries about why.
Maggie's learned a lot of things in her life. She's learned when to speak truths, when to keep them to herself, and when to pretend she doesn't know them at all. She learned that last from a friend in Metropolis and, some day, she'll thank him for the lesson. He probably doesn't even realize he's taught her anything at all, but learn she did and she'll be forever grateful for it.
It's close to dawn when Kate slips into bed. Maggie rolls toward her with a sleepy murmur that's only halfway fake. She's down-to-the-bone tired, has been drifting in and out of sleep for a few hours, but she'll never miss the way it feels when Kate walks into the room.
Maybe that's why. She doesn't know. She's spent weeks thinking about it, poking at it, and she can't really say. There's no moment of revelation she can point at and say "Yes, then." It feels, sometimes, like she's known from that first moment, but that doesn't fit either. She just knows and she can never, ever tell.
She presses a kiss into Kate's hair and closes her eyes.