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Search For Space to Breathe

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As the credits roll across the screen in front of them, Alex shifts against Maggie and mumbles something about taking a shower.

Maggie tries to phrase the question as casually as she can: “You want company?”

“I don’t need…” Alex says hastily.

“That’s not what I asked, Danvers.”

Alex takes a deep breath. “Yeah. That would be great.”

When they undress in front of each other, it’s no longer self-conscious, no longer a performance. Alex still folds her sweats and lays them on the back of the toilet, while Maggie leaves her clothes in a heap. They crowd into the stall together, and Maggie murmurs, “Gonna turn on the water now.”

Alex nods, but when she hears the water start, her breath catches. “Sorry,” she says when Maggie squeezes her arm.

“Don’t apologize.” Maggie reaches for the sponge and body wash, scrubs the tense muscles of Alex’s back, kisses her shoulders, and lets herself believe that everything will be all right. “You’re not there, okay? You’re here.”

As if to prove her right, Alex ducks her head under the stream from the showerhead, lets it spill over her face and hair, and then convulses like someone’s jabbed her with a cattle prod. Taking heavy gulps of air, she flattens herself against the tile, pinned by what must be the memories of her kidnapping and near-drowning.

Maggie touches her girlfriend’s arm again, and – when Alex doesn’t move away – gathers her close, whispering, “I’ve got you,” in her ear. They hold each other, damp skin against damp skin, under the falling water, until Maggie reaches over to turn it off, and Alex stops shaking against her.

As it turns out, her hands still tremble so badly that she can barely tie the sash of her robe, but she hisses, “Don’t!” when Maggie tries to help her.

“Okay.” Maggie holds up her hands. “I’ll just be…” She tilts her head toward the door.

She’s perched the edge of her bed, wearing an oversized Cape Cod T-shirt, when Alex slips into the bedroom. “Remember when you said I was a badass?”

“What makes you think I changed my mind?” Maggie asks.

Alex shakes her head. “If I freak out like that in the shower, what’s going to stop me from going into panic mode in the field?”

“Your psych evaluation…” Maggie begins.

“Is a piece of paper,” Alex interrupts. “It can’t predict the future.”

“I’m not a psychologist, but I don’t think that worrying about what happens if you panic, will make you less likely to panic.”

“All it takes is one moment of weakness,” Alex insists.

Maggie came close to releasing a criminal from prison, putting her own career and the safety of civilians on the line, in order to rescue the woman she loves. They both have to face that, too, because if they let it fester, their relationship might not last long enough to take that first vacation. And Maggie’s been looking forward to showing Alex her favorite hiking trails, miles away from the city.

“Come here,” she says, and when Alex does, Maggie embraces her again, kisses her forehead, and whispers into her damp hair, “I know those moments well.”