Chapter 1: Revelations 1 - 3
This is the first chapter of what will be a 10-11 chapter fic. This first chapter is posted today in honor of #sanversweek day 7: soulmates AU. It's also crossposted to my tumblr (same name) as well as my minific roundup "Mean Peach Mojito" here on AO3 so it can be friends with the other #sanversweek posts.
Enjoy, and please share what you think!
It’s past Alex’s bedtime, but she can’t sleep. She’s squirming under her covers, restless, more excited than she’s ever been.
Tomorrow is her birthday, and birthdays are always amazing. She always gets cake and a party, and tomorrow she gets to spend the whole afternoon at the zoo with her mom and her dad and her two very best friends.
But tomorrow isn’t just any birthday. Tomorrow is her fifth birthday.
And that means tomorrow is her first Revelation.
Tomorrow, when she wakes up, when she’s finally five years old, she’ll learn something about her soulmate for the very first time.
Her mom has said it’s like Santa – he only comes after you finally go to sleep on Christmas Eve, and the Revelation will only come while you sleep.
So Alex tries to sleep, she really does, because she wants to know, she wants the Revelation, she wants to be grown up enough, big enough, to handle it. Littler kids don’t get Revelations because they aren’t mature enough, ready enough. (I am mature enough, Alex had whined on her fourth birthday, I am! And her parents had looked at each other with raised eyebrows because where did their preschooler learn the word mature and what the hell were they in for with this brilliant stubborn little child?)
But mature, big kids go to sleep the night before their Revelations, so Alex tries. And tries and tries and tries and, finally, succeeds.
She wakes up when her mom and dad come into the room in the morning. They sit on the side of her bed, her dad brushing her bangs out of her face. She blinks up at them blearily, wondering why they’re both there.
“Good morning, birthday girl!” Her mom’s singsong voice is soft and loving and happy, and Alex grins. It’s her birthday!
She reaches up to push the blankets down to her waist, and then catches sight of something dark on her arms. She gasps and rockets to sit up, holding her arms out in front of her.
She can’t believe she forgot.
Today is her birthday, and she is five years old, and so today is her first Revelation.
She knew what was coming. The first Revelation is favorite animal.
On her right arm is her own favorite animal, a representation of what her soulmate will see (had seen?) on his arm when he turns five (turned five?).
She had thought it would be small, simple, maybe a line drawing or a sketch, something like what she can draw herself with her small fingers. But she was wrong. All up and down her right arm, from wrist to armpit, is the most intricate, complex, and beautiful snake she’s ever seen. It isn’t in color, just in black, but it doesn’t need to be. There are more shapes than she knows the name for making up its strong lithe body as it wraps and weaves around and around her arm. Diamonds and spots and splotches, a distinct head and tail. It’s the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen.
“A boa constrictor,” her father says, a little breathlessly.
Alex looks up at him, beaming. “Did you know that boa constrictors can swim? And they can get to be thirteen feet long, which is longer than two daddies on top of each other? And even though they’re reptiles they give birth to live babies like mammals!?”
Eliza shakes her head a little, but she’s happy. “My little scientist,” she says, reaching over to tousle Alex’s hair.
Alex finally tears her eyes away from her right arm and looks to her left. This is the real Revelation – while the drawing of her boa is cool, this is what she’s been waiting for.
“Sharks,” she breathes out, her little voice full of awe. “He loves sharks.”
Her left arm doesn’t have just one shark. Instead it’s covered, from wrist to armpit, with all different types of sharks. Great whites and hammerheads and tiger sharks and blue sharks and whale sharks, and a ton she doesn’t know the names of. They’re stylized too, like her snake, beautiful and intricate and somehow both delicate and deadly strong.
She’s a little relieved. She’s glad her soulmate likes a cool animal, not something dumb like a poodle or a bunny rabbit or a kitten. She knows she’s supposed to love him anyway, but it’s gonna be way easier to love someone who likes sharks than poodles. And besides, snakes and sharks go great together.
She looks up at her parents, happiness radiating out of her entire self. “Can we go to the library and get a book on sharks?”
Alex is young for her class, so she was one of the last to get her first Revelation, and now she’s one of the last to get her second. Lots of kids born in the spring got their second Revelation at the end of last year, but October baby Alex has to wait until the fall of second grade for hers. But it’s not like the excitement has worn off. Sure, maybe, by the time of her last Revelation everyone will be more relaxed about it, but Alex is only six years old, and it’s only her second ever Revelation, so she’s completely and utterly hyped up.
She somehow manages to fall asleep on her last night of being six, but it isn’t easy.
She wakes up on her own this time, remembering instantly that it’s her birthday, that she’s seven years old now, and that it’s the day of her second Revelation.
She pulls her arms toward herself, not even bothering to sit up first. On her right forearm, just below her elbow, is an intricate letter A.
A, for Alex.
Because today is the second Revelation, which means she gets to know the first letter of his name.
She barely looks at the A before she turns to her left arm where, in the exact same spot, is the letter M.
The letter is beautiful. It’s stylized like the snake and the sharks were. She remembers, because even though the mark will disappear after she goes to sleep tonight, she had her dad take about a million pictures of her arms during her first Revelation, and she’d put them right in her Revelations journal. She even got her mom to print out a couple and has them hung up in her room.
“Mmm,” she says out loud. “Matt. Mark. Mike. Michael.” There are two Michaels in her class, but she brushes off the idea immediately. They’re both really annoying, and Michael G. smells terrible all the time. No way is either of them her soulmate.
She shows everyone at school, because this year her birthday is on a Monday, so she has school. Her friends immediately start calling her soulmate Marky, because before they had called him Sharky, and that just fits so easily.
“Alex and Marky, sitting in a tree,” they tease at recess, dancing in a circle around her, “k-i-s-s-i-n-g!”
Alex blushes and laughs and grins. Revelations are so so so fun.
Her parents, and the world in general, try to make the even number birthdays exciting too, even though they never have Revelations on them. When she turns eight, Alex gets to have a slumber party birthday for the first time, where ten of her friends and their sleeping bags and pillows squish their way into her living room. And it’s really fun – they play games and watch movies and make a couple prank phone calls and gorge themselves on pizza – but Alex misses the excitement of learning something new about Marky. She thinks about him, as she drifts off to sleep on her living room floor. She hopes he’s happy tonight too.
She thinks about him a lot. She idly plans the tattoo she’ll get when they meet – it’s becoming a more and more common tradition to get a tattoo of the first Revelation after you find your soulmate. To make permanent the first thing that joined you together. Alex thinks that’s hopelessly romantic and, sometimes, when her teacher is talking about something so boring, something she learned years ago, she’ll doodle a little shark on her left arm, just under her elbow.
She can’t wait to meet him.
“See you next year,” she whispers to the ceiling.
The next year, Alex wakes up at six am. She started getting serious about surfing a couple of months ago, so even though she’s only eight, she and her dad go out before school a couple days a week to catch the smaller, glassier waves that are easier for her to learn on.
And today is Wednesday, so it’s surf day, so her alarm wakes her at six.
But this morning is her birthday, and she’s nine years old, and she’s in the fourth grade, and she’s exceptionally grown up, and today is her third Revelation.
She clicks on her light and looks at her left arm, excitement drumming through her.
The third Revelation gives the biggest clue there is. She and her friends have talked about it at length, and they all agree. The third Revelation is the best one.
It tells you where he is.
On her left arm, in the same spot as the M but bigger, is a map. It isn’t intricate this time – not at all stylized. Just a simple line drawing, no shading, no details. She has to squint at it for it to make any sense, but she realizes, tracing the bottom line carefully with her finger, that it’s a map of the middle of the United States. There is an outline and a lot of states going up vertically, with what looks like Texas at the bottom. Each state has an outline, but they’re pretty much all squares
Alex is a California girl – she can barely recognize Texas – so she darts out of bed and over to her bookshelf to pull her huge atlas off the bottom shelf. She sits on the floor, cradling the enormous book in her lap, and flips through it. It takes what feels like forever to find the US pages. Looking between her arm and the page, her lip between her teeth, she names all the states quietly to herself, starting from the top.
“North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas.” She says it over and over and over until she’s memorized the list in a little song.
She reads the heading on the page softly. “The Midwest,” she says softly. “My soulmate lives in the Midwest.”
She barely spares a glance to the map on her right arm, showing what she knows to be California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, and Idaho, with little smaller disconnected pieces that are Alaska and Hawaii. She does look closely at California, at where she knows Midvale is, but there is nothing distinctive about it on the map. No clues for Marky.
After school, she goes to the public library and the librarian watches, bemused, as Alex makes a beeline for the travel section. She assumes that Alex has a school project, but the longer Alex sits right on the floor, between the shelves, paging slowly through books on Real Texas Chili and Hiking South Dakota and Hidden Gems of the Upper Midwest, the more her curiosity gets the better of her.
“What are you working on, Alex?” She asks, finally giving in and walking over to her.
Alex looks up at her. She holds out her arm, and the librarian understands. “Happy birthday,” she murmurs. “Third Revelation, hmm?”
Alex nods, a little bashfully. She’s started to learn that the Revelations are a weird combination of public and very very private.
“He lives in the Midwest,” she says softly, like that explains it.
And it does, kind of. Except that no child has ever done this before. “You know,” she says carefully, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone come in to do so much research after each of their Revelations as you do, Alex.”
Alex looks up at her, eyes completely confused. “Really?”
The librarian nods.
“But…” Alex sputters, “how else will they learn what they need to know? Don’t they care about their soulmates?
And the librarian doesn’t know how to tell Alex that not everyone demonstrates caring by learning every fact in the world. That not every child’s first instinct was to spend their entire fifth year reading about sharks, just in case their soulmate still cared that much about them as an adult. That Alex was the only child who had ever checked out books of baby names and the mythology of every culture she could get her hands on to learn about M names from every culture in the world. That Alex is the only child who seems to think that a detailed knowledge of hiking trails in South Dakota will unlock some secret key to her soulmate’s heart.
But she’s come to expect that of Alex, and she loves that about Alex. All the librarians in this branch know Alex and love Alex and talk about Alex. She’s their little Matilda, and they’ve all taken it as their full responsibility to give her the best books, the most diverse books, the hardest books and the sweetest youngest books, to expand her mind as far as they can. This particular librarian was the one who gave Alex the book Matilda, putting it on top of her towering stack one day when she was seven years old and whispering to her, “Trust me, you’ll love it.” Alex’s father had laughed and her mother had made a little face, but she hadn’t minded.
Alex had come back just days later, beaming and gushing. “I loved it,” she said. “I read it twice already.”
So she just nods, and pulls a couple of other books about the Midwest down from the top shelf that Alex couldn’t reach on her own, and then gives Alex a hand to help her stand up. “Let’s get you checked out, then, shall we?”
Chapter 2: Revelations 4 - 5
Alex has changed her mind. The third Revelation wasn’t the best one. For all the kids in her class who had the same map on both arms, the kids whose soulmates also might live in California, or maybe even in Midvale, sure, it was meaningful. But all Alex learned is that he isn’t here.
The fourth Revelation, though, she’s really excited about.
Because the first was something he liked, but the second and third were just things about him, things he couldn’t choose.
The fourth Revelation will be her first time in six years to learn what he likes. Maybe about what he’s like, himself.
Alex spends her last night as a ten-year-old working on her science fair project, hoping that even though she’s only in sixth grade—and even though she’s one of the youngest people in sixth grade and even though she’s a girl—she’ll win the school contest and make it into the all-district competition.
She stays up later than she’s allowed, but since both her parents won their schools’ science fairs when they were her age, they don’t say anything.
So even though she’s possibly more excited for this Revelation than for her second and third, she manages to fall asleep easily. She’s exhausted.
But when she wakes up to the sound of her favorite No Doubt song – the CD player was a tenth birthday gift – she flings herself out of bed as quickly as she can.
Today is her birthday, and she is eleven years old, and she’s in middle school, and today is her fourth Revelation.
No one quite knows what to call the fourth. Most people call it hobby-sport, but it’s really just interests. What does he spend his free time on? What does he like doing? What does he love?
She looks to her left arm first, much more interested in him than in herself.
Up at the top of her forearm, closest to her elbow, are a stylized glove and bat and ball. “Baseball,” she whispers, tracing the shapes lightly with her finger. Further down her arm, about halfway, is the second image, smaller and less stylized, which she knows means it shows something that is a little less important to him. It’s a stack of books. She flushes with pleasure as she whispers, “Reading.” And finally, down near her wrist, the smallest and simplest drawing – the least important of the three – is another ball. “Soccer,” she says.
“Baseball, reading, soccer.” She nods to herself. “Sharks, and baseball, and reading, and soccer, and he lives in the Midwest and his name starts with M.” She smiles to herself. This is getting to be a good list.
She looks over at her right arm, and is a little dismayed. Her largest, most complex, most intricate drawing is of books. Her middle image is a surfboard, and her smallest is a chemistry set. All true, so completely true of herself, she knows, but she can’t help but worry. She knows, now that she’s in middle school, that being a nerd isn’t exactly the best or most desirable thing. People are starting to have crushes and have boyfriends and no one wants to date a girl who is all about books and chemistry, and not about fun. She knows that. And it hasn’t made her change anything about herself, but she can’t help but worry.
She hopes he isn’t disappointed in her, when he sees it.
She’s happy about his, though. Baseball is cool, and she plays soccer too, and the fact that he loves to read makes her so happy. Some of her friends’ Revelations were football/baseball cards/video games, or hunting/fishing/football, or football/hockey/pokemon, and Alex had been worried. She knew that she was supposed to love him no matter what, that she could love him no matter what, but she’s really glad he likes things that she likes too.
She just worries, for the first time in her life, that he might not like her back.
It doesn’t always work out, with soulmates. Lots of people never find theirs, but even if you do, it isn’t a guarantee. Alex doesn’t totally get it, why you wouldn’t stay with your soulmate, who you were meant for, but she’s read enough books over her grade level to know that it happens to a lot of people.
She had never thought she might be one of them.
So she’s happy with this fourth Revelation, but it makes her worry. It makes her question. It makes her realize, for maybe the first time, that this might all be adding up to something different than she’d hoped.
It’s during February of her twelfth year, when Alex is in seventh grade, that she might feel something Resonating through the soulbond for the first time. It’s really young to feel anything like that – most Resonances don’t come through until the soulbond opens when you’re sixteen – but if something exceptionally strong and powerful happens to your soulmate, it’s possible that you’ll feel it. It depends, Alex knows, on how bad or extreme the event is, and on some internal calculation and chemistry that the Earth’s best scientists haven’t been able to understand.
But in February, when Alex is twelve, she feels…something. She isn’t totally sure it’s from Shark (there is a new kid in most of her classes named Mark and she hates him, he’s awful, so she’s started thinking of her soulmate as Shark again). She’s twelve and hasn’t gotten her period yet but is getting some small boobs and some hair in some new places and she is having a lot of feelings that honestly feel like they’re coming from outside of herself, that she can’t fully control or even understand. So she isn’t positive it’s from Shark.
But one day in February when Alex is twelve, she feels these waves of sadness, and of anger, and of self-loathing, and of overwhelming fear. Of hate. And it feels a little like how music sounds when you hear it being piped through someone else’s headphones near you in the library or on the bus – you know the music is loud, it has to be loud for you to hear it at all, but what you hear is just the faintest, tinniest echo.
But Alex has been having a pretty good day, a pretty good week, so the feelings seem like they’re coming out of nowhere.
The sadness and anger and fear – those are familiar, at least. Alex recognizes those, she’s felt those before, inside of herself. Things in her life have prepared her to recognize those feelings. The self-loathing, though, and the white-hot hatred…those she hasn’t really felt before. Not like this. They’re stronger, sharper, harder, meaner than anything she’s ever lived through. Nothing in her life has treated her harshly enough for her to have ever felt anything like this, to have felt this hatred and despair coursing through her veins and lighting her skin on fire.
But she isn’t completely sure – she’s so young for it to be happening – and she’s becoming more private and more secretive, so she doesn’t tell anyone. She doesn’t even write it down in her Revelation journal. But she remembers.
She remembers that on February 14, the year she was twelve, something really bad might have happened to her soulmate.
Alex doesn’t feel anything else through the soulbond after a couple of days in February when she’s twelve, so she’s more ready than ever for her thirteenth birthday, for the fifth Revelation.
This is the first Revelation where she really can’t predict what will be on her right arm – what the universe knows to be a deep truth about herself. The fifth Revelation is different from the first four. It happens when you’re thirteen – an age that a lot of cultures think makes you kind of an adult.
Alex has chosen not to become a bat mitzvah – she doesn’t believe in God enough for that – but her family still marks thirteen in a special way. She’s in eighth grade, she goes surfing by herself, she’s allowed to date if she wants to, her birthday party is going to have boys at it. She’s going to spend spring break at science camp, all the way in Nevada, without any of her friends. She’s taking math and science classes at the high school, in with sophomores and juniors.
The fifth Revelation marks you as an adult, not a child. It’s written, not drawn. All of the following Revelations are written. No more beautiful intricate drawings – like how she graduated from picture books, now she’ll graduate to written Revelations. To mature, honest, real, sometimes overwhelming or frightening Revelations.
Alex feels adult. She feels ready for the fifth Revelation.
Because the fifth Revelation is greatest fear.
When she wakes on her thirteenth birthday, she leaves her eyes closed and takes a couple of deep breaths. This feels, for some reason, like the end of her childhood. Like she’ll look at that fear on her right arm and will suddenly become an adult. And like she’ll look at that fear on her left arm and will suddenly know something so deep and real and scary about Shark, something maybe no one else in his life knows. Something she has to be mature to handle.
She lets out a puff of air, and opens her eyes.
She looks to her left arm.
The word is bold and blocky, in the stark black that marks all of the Revelations. Alex squints at it a little bit, because it isn’t what she expected. She hoped maybe it would be something normal and a little childish, like “spiders” or “heights.” Everyone knows the horror stories about the fifth Revelation – people whose soulmates are much older often have fears that don’t translate well to thirteen-year-olds. There is a notorious rumor of kid at school years ago who had “impotence” inked on her arm for a day, and there are whispered stories of others with “heroin” or “AIDS” or “prison” or “metastasized” or “adultery” or “murder.” People with much younger soulmates, too, can be disappointed.
But Alex’s arm doesn’t say any of those things. Alex’s left arm simply says, “girls.”
Alex’s soulmate is afraid of girls.
And Alex kind of gets it. Everyone else she knows is really into boys, loves boys, and she doesn’t, really. She gets attention from them, she’s been asked out and she might even say yes one of these days, but she doesn’t seem to care as much about them as everyone else does. And yeah, that scares her. A lot. Her mom says she’s a late bloomer, and that lots of girls don’t care about boys until they’re a little older – until the boys mature a little more, her mom says.
So, okay. Maybe Shark is a late bloomer too. Maybe they can be afraid of that together.
So it’s a weird fear, and one Alex really isn’t looking forward to sharing with her friends, but it isn’t a bad one. She wonders if he’s younger than she is. He’s not too much younger – if he’d been too young to have a favorite animal when Alex was five, her skin would have showed only her own favorite, not his. So he can’t be, say, more than four years younger than her. But if he is younger, if he’s only seven or something, then sure. Fear of girls makes sense.
But that Resonance that she may or may not have felt last year – that just really seemed like something kind of adult. She’d been assuming, since then, that he was at least her age, or probably a little older.
So yeah, it’s kind of a weird fear.
She looks to her right, and sees her own fear, stark and black against her pale skin.
It says “failure.”
And Alex just rolls her eyes at herself, because she must be the biggest nerd in history. She hopes Shark hasn’t given up on her. She wonders if she’s actually as boring as she seems.
If only the fifth Revelation had been a year later, or if Kara had arrived a year earlier, because she certainly doesn’t feel boring anymore. Now that she’s fourteen, now that she’s in high school, now that she has an orphaned super-powered alien for a little sister, she’s certainly not boring.
She knows, deep down, that her fear has changed. No longer failure, her fear is simple. Her greatest fear is Kara. Kara hurting herself, Kara hurting someone else, Kara getting found out, someone else hurting Kara. And yeah, failure is definitely mixed up in it; Alex is terrified of failing Kara, of being the reason that Kara is hurt or found out, but it’s all about Kara.
Her whole life, it seems, is now about Kara.
Kara obviously doesn’t have a soulmate on Earth, hasn’t had any Revelations. She’s upset, when Alex first haltingly explains it to her, that everyone else is meant for someone and she isn’t. Alex tries to console her, telling her that not everyone has a soulmate, and not everyone finds theirs, and maybe there is someone waiting for her, or maybe she’ll find love anyway.
It doesn’t seem to help much.
As a last-ditch effort, Alex offers her something else. She grabs her Revelation journal, which is her most private possession – something no one else, not even her soulmate, should ever touch without her permission – and brings it into Kara’s room.
“I know you don’t have a soulmate,” she says softly, sitting next to Kara on her bed, leaning back against the wall with her legs out straight in front of her and the journal closed on her lap, one arm around her sister, “so I thought maybe you could share mine, if you wanted to?”
Kara looks over at her, confused.
Alex realizes immediately that didn’t come out right. “I mean, not like, the same, not like, marry him but, like,” she picks at the front of her journal with her free hand. “If he’s someone that I’m meant to be with, to marry or whatever, and if I’m your big sister…” (“You ARE,” Kara interrupts, breathlessly. Alex squeezes her tighter) “then I guess he’s kind of like your big brother, in a way.”
Kara’s eyes light up. “A brother.” She barely makes a sound, her lips just trying out the words for the first time.
“So then the Revelations,” Alex continues, encouraged. She opens the book to the first page of photographs, showing Kara her tiny arm covered in sharks, “they’re not just for me to figure out who he is. They’re for you, too. For you to learn about your big brother.”
Kara holds up the photo to her face, looking at it closely. “The Revelations are for us,” she says, softly, reverently.
“Yeah, kid,” Alex says, her voice a little thick. “They’re for us.”
Chapter 3: Revelations 6 - 7
Revelations 6 - 7, brought to you by the dictionary, grief, sex, and baseball
thank you all so much for your generous support and lovely and wonderful comments on this story. it means so much to me.
and don't worry. this sucker is far from over.
Kara might be more excited than Alex on the eve of her fifteenth birthday.
Kara’s doing much better – acclimating well, getting used to the normal sights and sounds and smells of Earth. Her vocabulary is nearly at grade level, and she’s making friends. Alex still sits with her at lunch every day, but sometimes Kara hangs out with other friends, slowly getting more comfortable without Alex glued to her side.
Alex loves her so fiercely. She hadn’t realized how lonely she’d been as an only child until there was Kara. And yes, it’s hard and often exhausting to help take care of her, but Alex loves her, and Kara loves Alex so fully and so unabashedly, and it’s nice. It’s wonderful.
So when Kara asks to spend the night in Alex’s room with her, so she can be there for the Revelation, Alex only hesitates for a second before saying yes. Her parents gently try to tell Kara that isn’t appropriate, that the sixth Revelation, like the one before it, is deeply private and personal. Alex doesn’t even have to tell them what it reveals, if she doesn’t want to.
Because the sixth Revelation is what the people closest to him think of him.
It’s probably the most personal, even though it’s something he can’t control, really.
And Alex would be nervous enough just to know what word will be on her right arm, what word will sum up what the three people closest to her think of her.
She thinks about that Resonance when she was twelve and she thinks about his fear and she’s kind of worried about what it might say on her left arm.
But Kara’s face is falling and she’s trying not to cry and she’s trying not to pressure Alex and she’s trying to keep Alex from knowing how much she wanted to be a part of the Revelation, so Alex doesn’t even hesitate. She brushes her parents off and wraps her arm around Kara. “Of course you can be there, Kar. It’s for us, remember?”
And Kara beams and Alex hopes this wasn’t a mistake.
They fall asleep, later than they should, busy speculating about what it could be.
Kara wakes up first and tries to keep still, she really does, but she’s only thirteen and she’s hungry and she’s basically a puppy and she has never really been the calm type and it’s her very first Revelation and she’s dying to know.
“I can feel you squirming over there,” Alex mumbles, her eyes still closed.
“Happy birthday, Alex!” Kara tries, and fails, to keep her voice down.
Alex looks over at her and grins. Kara darts in and kisses her cheek (gently) before whining, “Wellllll???”
Alex laughs, and sits up, and pushes the sheet off of herself and, together, they look down at her arm.
Because today is her birthday, and she’s fifteen, and today is her sixth Revelation.
Her right arm says the one adjective that best describes what the three people closest to her think about her. “Brilliant,” it says.
“Alex,” Kara breathes, tracing it with her finger. “It’s so true. You’re the smartest, most wonderful person there is.”
Alex blushes and smiles and knocks her head gently against Kara’s.
Then, with a long exhale, she holds out her left arm.
“Abomination,” it says.
The font is plain, stark. The letters thick and black. The word starts just below her elbow and goes almost halfway down her forearm. “Abomination.”
Alex doesn’t realize she’s crying until Kara speaks, her voice soft and halting. “I don’t…what does that word mean?”
Alex slowly climbs out of bed and pulls the dictionary off her bookshelf. She’s forcibly reminded of being nine years old, eagerly grabbing her atlas off her bookshelf and greedily flipping through it. She’s only fifteen now, but she thinks she might as well have aged a lifetime since then.
She brings the dictionary back to bed and finds the right page. She knows the word, she knows exactly what it means, but she can’t bring herself explain it. It’s going to break Kara’s little heart.
“Abom—abominition,” Kara hesitantly sounds out.
“Abomination,” Alex corrects her, softly.
“Abomination.” Kara nods, and then reads the definition out loud. “Something regarded with disgust or hatred; something vile, shameful, or detestable; anything abhorred.”
Kara pauses for a second, the big words tripping her up. “They…they hate him? They think…they think he’s disgusting? Rotten?”
Alex nods. “Shameful,” she whispers. “Sinful, maybe. Just…wrong in every way.”
Kara blinks a couple of times, trying to understand. “They hate him,” she whispers again, almost to herself.
She looks up at Alex, tears in her eyes. She didn’t know it could be like this.
She thought the Revelations were always fun and exciting.
She hadn’t felt that Resonance through the soulbond.
Alex takes some time. Kara just wraps her arms around her big sister and holds on. Alex cries a little more, not nearly as much as Kara, but more than Kara’s ever seen her cry. More even than when she got hit with the piece of exploding car and had to get stitches, more than when she got a concussion in that surfing competition over the summer.
Finally, Alex feels something shift inside of her. She picks up her head, and traces the letters with a finger that doesn’t shake. “It’s wrong,” she says softly. “They’re wrong about him.”
Kara nods, suddenly understanding. “They’re wrong about him,” she echoes. “And that makes sense,” she continues, feeling her way through it, “because people are wrong about people all the time. I mean, most of the kids at school would probably say ‘freak’ about me, but they just don’t understand me. So if I had a soulmate they might see ‘freak’ and get worried or upset, but it wouldn’t be true. It’s just what they think, it isn’t what’s true, you know?”
“But, Kara,” Alex doesn’t want to shatter her illusions, but she can’t help but be scientifically accurate. “This isn’t what the kids at school think of him. It’s what the three closest people in his life think. Probably his parents, his family.”
But Kara just shrugs her shoulders a little bit. “So he has a family of idiots,” she says with a certainty that feels both very childish and very adult. “We shouldn’t hold that against him.”
And Alex laughs, and leans into Kara, and feels herself relax a little. Kara is right. His family is stupid. His family is wrong. His family is the abomination, not him.
She gets angry. “How dare they treat him like that,” she says, her voice suddenly hard. “His own family.”
“Well,” Kara says. “At least he has us.”
Alex shakes her head, still staring at her arm. “Fat lot of good that does him now, though, Kara.”
“Maybe he knows?” She suggests. “Maybe he can feel that you don’t think that about him, that we don’t.”
Alex shrugs. It doesn’t seem very likely.
“I wish we could tell him,” Kara muses, mostly to herself. “I wish we could tell him that his family is wrong and that he isn’t disgusting or bad.”
“What if he is?” Alex’s voice is the smallest and softest it’s been all morning.
Kara squeezes her tighter. “He isn’t,” she says, firmly. “He’s meant for you, Alex, and you’re the opposite of an abomination. You’re the best sister in the world, the smartest and kindest and most wonderful person in the universe.”
Alex shrugs it off. “I’m just normal.”
“No, Alex.” Kara hovers a little in the air and moves to land right in front of Alex on the bed. “You’re my best friend. You’re my sister, and I know that you love me, and you don’t have to do that. You spend all day taking care of me at school, and you’ve taught me everything, and you let me sleep in here when I’m scared, and you’re sharing your soulmate with me, and you treat me so well, and I don’t think there is another person in the galaxy that would treat me as well as you do. You told me that we’re really sisters, that you love me even more than if we were born into the same family. That’s not normal, Alex, that’s not regular.” Kara’s eyes are shining. “I am the luckiest person in the galaxy to have been chosen by you.”
She reaches out and squeezes both of Alex’s hands as hard as she dares. “And if he’s meant for you, then he’s a good person. If he’s your soulmate, he’s a good person, because you’re the best person there is.”
Alex chokes down her new tears, looking up at her sister with more gratitude than she thought possible. “Okay,” she says softly. “Okay.”
Kara lets go of her hands and leans back a little. “I still wish we could tell him what we think.”
“Wait! Maybe we can! Okay, listen. He won’t know now, but you can write him a letter, right now, this morning, about how you feel seeing that word, knowing it isn’t true, and reminding him that we’re his family too and we don’t think that, and then you can put it in your journal and give it to him when you meet him! So it won’t make him feel better now, but later when you’re older he’ll at least know you were thinking good things about him, that you never believed it!”
Alex looks at her sweet, gentle, beautiful little sister. This girl whose entire family and life and planet were destroyed, but still has so much kindness and thoughtfulness inside of her. This girl who is thinking about the future worries of someone she’s never met.
“That’s a great idea, Kara. One condition, though, okay? You have to write one too.”
Kara nods, her eyes shining with happiness at making Alex happy, at being included, at being trusted to help take care of her future big brother.
And so they both write him letters. And Alex tucks them into her journal, and she puts on a long sleeved shirt for the day, but she spends most of the day pressing her hand against that spot on her forearm and wishing, as hard as she can, that he feels some of her love and support coming through.
That Revelation too, came a little too soon. Because not four months after her fifteenth birthday, the word used to describe Alex probably changes.
Not four months after her fifteenth birthday, Alex’s father dies.
Alex’s grief is sharp, jagged, and bright. It slices through her, constantly present, constantly at the front of her mind. It weighs her down, it tears her apart.
Kara is desolate. She barely knew him, in the grand scheme of things, but he’s now the third parent she’s lost in her young life. And Alex tries to be there for her, but she can’t, really. She aches so badly, she can barely drag herself out of bed, can barely speak, absolutely can’t offer comfort.
And it feels like she lost both of her parents, because Eliza changes, seemingly overnight. She was always the less playful of the two, but she hardens immediately. She becomes brittle and she turns on Alex. Everything bad that happens – to Alex, to Kara, to anyone – is now Alex’s fault. When Kara cries at school, Alex gets blamed for not being there for her enough. When Kara fails a vocabulary test, it’s because Alex is too selfish to help her. When Alex is too depressed to do her homework and brings home a concerned note from her AP Calculus teacher, Eliza yells at her.
Alex is pretty sure the new word for herself is “disappointing.” As in, “you keep disappointing me, Alexandra.” As in, “you’re disappointing your sister, Alexandra.” As in, “your father would be disappointed in you, Alexandra.”
She wonders if she’s disappointing her soulmate, too.
Her sixteenth birthday isn’t a Revelation year, but something else important happens. It’s when the soulbond really and truly opens, when things start to Resonate down the bond.
Once you’re sixteen, you can feel it if your soulmate is going through something particularly emotional. You feel an echo of their physical pain – not too much, maybe thirty percent of what they do – so if they get a bruise you don’t notice, but if they get shot, you hurt like hell too. You feel it when they have sex with someone, and you’ll know it if they get married, or if a family member of theirs dies. If they get pregnant and you haven’t found them yet, you’ll feel it. Apparently the pain of being the unfound soulmate of someone giving birth is excruciating (although, anyone who has given birth themselves tends to roll their eyes when men complain about that, because no Resonance will ever compare to the real deal).
If they die, you’ll feel it.
But Alex doesn’t really care anymore. Her father is dead. Her mother’s soulmate is dead. Her mother went through all of this too, all of the Revelations, the opening of her soulbond, the Resonances, and for what? Less than twenty years with her soulmate? Less than twenty years out of what will hopefully be 80 or 90 years alive? To live less than a quarter of her life with someone?
What a fucking waste of energy.
Alex still thinks about her soulmate, sure, it’s hard not to. But it’s hard to believe that this is going to be something that works out, something that matters. She has Kara and her studies and her friends and her fraught relationship with her mother and she doesn’t need anything else.
She thinks about that tattoo she’d planned like it was a joke. She hasn’t doodled a shark on her arm since the day her father died, and she never will again.
It gets even worse the first time her soulmate has sex. It happens in November of her sixteenth year, her junior year of high school. She doesn’t know if it’s her soulmate’s first time having sex, or just the first time since Alex turned sixteen and the soulbond opened.
But the feeling is unmistakable. It’s late at night, and Alex feels a tightness between her legs that’s both familiar and incredibly new to her. It’s pleasurable, in a soft sort of way. She knows this is what happens; the other girls who turned sixteen a while ago talk about it a lot. People say that the universe made it feel good for you to make you feel better that your soulmate is banging someone else. Alex thinks its just anatomy and chemistry – if he’s feeling particularly good down there, that Resonates down the soulbond to her. Simple.
But it feels more…intimate…than she’d expected.
She doesn’t tell anyone.
It happens pretty regularly, and she never tells anyone. This doesn’t seem like the kind of thing Kara needs to know about her big brother.
A couple of months later, in February of her junior year, Alex gets into the worst fight of her life with her best friend, Vicky.
Vicky’s soulmate lives on the west coast and starts with J, and she’s convinced that it’s Jason Andrews, a senior on the football team at a neighboring high school. They met at a party, and talked and flirted and kissed and he told her that his soulmate lives on the west coast and starts with V and she’s sure it’s her.
She gushes to Alex about how happy she is to have found him. And Alex tries to talk her out of it. There a ton of people with J who live in Midvale alone, she reasons. Why would it be Jason? Jason sucks. But Vicky doesn’t listen, doesn’t care.
At the next party, Alex overhears Jason brag to his friends that he lied about his soulmate to Vicky, because her tits are out of this world.
Alex immediately grabs Vicky, dragging her outside and telling her what she learned, sure Vicky will cry or hug Alex or let Alex punch him in the face for fucking with her like that. Soulmates aren’t something you lie about – even sociopaths don’t do that. It’s one of the most adhered to unwritten laws of human society. You never lie about your Revelations.
But Vicky just laughs. “I don’t really give a shit,” she says with a shrug. “He’s hot, and he’s right, I do have amazing tits.” She saunters off with a look over her shoulder, a look that makes Alex feel both extremely old and extremely young at the same time.
Vicky sleeps with him.
And Alex yells at her, the next time Vicky comes for a sleepover. Yells at her that she deserves better, that she should treat herself better, that she’s better than this, than him.
And Vicky walks out, and she never comes back.
Alex really doesn’t care about her seventh Revelation. She should. It’s her last one.
After the seventh, all you have are the Resonances. No more clues, no more facts. Just echoes from his life.
But Alex is still grieving and she’s applying to college and she’s taking care of Kara and her relationship with her mother is still deteriorating and she has basically no real friends left and she’s already taking a bunch of college level classes and she really can’t make herself care.
Kara cares, but she’s more cautious now. She hasn’t asked to spend the night in Alex’s bed, but Alex invites her to anyway.
This feels like the end of her childhood, in a way. She remembers thinking that when she was turning thirteen, but she’d had no idea back then. The whole idea of Revelations seems childish, now that her body is woken in the middle of the night by her soulmate fucking someone else. Now that her sister doesn’t have a soulmate and her mom’s soulmate is dead, and a bunch of kids in her grade have parents who are divorced soulmates.
It kind of seems like a joke, the whole Revelation thing, the whole soulmate thing, but this is marking something particular. It’s marking the end of an era for her, and she doesn’t really want to be alone for it.
So Kara snuggles up to her, and they await her seventeenth birthday together.
Alex wakes up before her alarm. Today is her birthday. She’s seventeen years old. It’s the seventh and final Revelation.
The seventh Revelation is greatest desire.
Alex looks at her right arm first. It says, in the same bold blocky letters as always, that her greatest desire is “to be relieved.”
Alex looks up at Kara. “What the…? To be relieved?” She raises an eyebrow in disbelief. “Like, oh wow, what a relief?” She shakes her head, then shakes her arm like a Magic 8 Ball, trying to crack a joke. “Is this thing working?”
Kara laughs, but then her crinkle comes back as she thinks. “Maybe it’s the other meaning, like in baseball?” Alex’s chest tightens – her dad and Kara always watched baseball together. “Like how a relief pitcher is someone who comes in and finishes the game when the first pitcher is too tired.”
Alex looks over at her. She doesn’t really get where Kara is going with this.
“Alex,” she says, her voice a little cautious, “you work so hard. At school, and with Eliza, and to protect me. You’re just constantly, like, fighting, you know? So maybe this means that your greatest desire is to have someone that can step in, that can step in front of you and fight in your place for a minute, or hold up your burdens for you when they get too heavy. Like, backup, you know?”
And Alex leans over and kisses her baby sister on her head because this girl is so thoughtful and brilliant and wise, and Alex hadn’t even known how badly she wanted that until Kara said it. To not be shouldering the burden of her family alone.
She slowly holds up her left arm, and they read the words together. “To be loved.”
Alex can’t help but roll her eyes. “Laaaame,” she says, because it kind of feels that way. How incredibly…generic. To be loved? Who doesn’t want to be loved?
Kara pushes her and Alex falls off the bed.
Chapter 4: Resonance
Resonance, brought to you by feelings
You all have been leaving such thoughtful questions in comments here, which I LOVE, about how the Revelations work and what some of the rules of the universe are. The questions make me so happy! But because I know some of you have similar ones, and because not everyone reads the comments, please submit ya questions to my tumblr (performativezippers). I promise to answer everything over there, and hopefully that'll be easier for folks to see. All answers will be tagged with #RevelationsQ&A for easy finding! But also, of course keep asking here too! And feel free to send ideas for vignettes you'd like to see in this universe, or prompts in general to me on tumblr as well.
As always, thank you SO much for your comments, suggestions, questions, and feels. This story is very close to my heart, and I'm loving sharing it with all of you.
Alex goes to Stanford. She’s young for her class, so she starts when she’s still seventeen. She turns eighteen in her dorm room, woken by a pillow thrown in her face by one of her roommates.
She’s pretty sure her soulmate is in a steady relationship, because she can tell that he’s having sex about twice a week, sort of like clockwork, whereas before it was pretty erratic. She confesses this, one drunken night, in her new circle of friends from her hall. A couple of the other girls nod, their soulmates have been in relationships like that too. They giggle a little bit about how it feels, until one girl in the circle haughtily says to another that you can tell who the virgins are from this conversation.
That shuts everyone up pretty quickly, and they don’t talk about it again.
Alex loses her virginity right before winter break of her first year. She tells herself she wants to do it, but she knows, deep down, that she just doesn’t want to face her former high school friends back in Midvale still the prudish virgin she was when she left. She wants to show them, show Vicky—just on the off chance that she runs into them and it comes up—that she’s cool.
So she sleeps with someone named Sean, and makes herself do it a couple more times because she doesn’t want to think of herself as a slut who gives up for the first time on a one-night stand. And it’s…fine. Sean is nice – he’s in her bio lab, he’s a sophomore, and he’s cute – and he treats her with respect and everything. But she really doesn’t feel much more than she does during the Resonances when her soulmate has sex.
She’d thought sex would be this whole big miraculous thing, but it isn’t. Kind of like her soulmate, she thinks. She wonders if anything in adult life that she’d been excited about will live up to the hype.
She does end up seeing people at parties over winter break, and it turns out losing her virginity is not one of the hot topics. Because two girls have come home with their soulmates.
And they fawn and they gush and they parade these boys around, and Alex can’t quite figure out what she feels. Jealousy, certainly, she’s big enough to admit that. But also…like, they’re so…blah? These were girls she’d been friends with since elementary school, and she remembers their animals and their letters and their hobby-sports. And why a great girl like Elena would be so excited about an okay-looking guy named Eric who liked video games/football/pogs and seems a little dumb and is definitely boring, is kind of beyond her.
She wonders if her own soulmate will be as much of a letdown.
It’s weird, she thinks on her nineteenth birthday – her first odd birthday without a Revelation since she was in kindergarten – because each Revelation was such a big deal when she was young, but putting the facts together now, she knows basically nothing about him.
His favorite animal was a shark, back when she was five. Big whoop, that means nothing now. A boa constrictor isn’t Alex’s favorite animal anymore. She doesn’t know what her favorite is now – last time someone asked she’d answered “a stem cell” just to be an asshole (but also, stem cells are really fucking cool).
He once lived in the Midwest, but people move. Her roommate this year is from Wisconsin. It means nothing.
He used to like baseball and soccer and reading, but Alex had loved surfing and she doesn’t really do that anymore. Since starting Stanford, she’s traded her surfboard for kickboxing and weight lifting. So if her soulmate were looking for her out on the water each dawn, he’d be out of luck.
He’d been afraid of girls, but he won’t stop having sex, so she’s pretty sure he’s grown out of that one.
His family had sucked. Lots of people’s family sucked. Alex’s own mom kind of sucked, now.
He’d wanted to be loved. Who didn’t.
Seven Revelations, and Alex only knows for sure that his name starts with M.
Other girls woke up at age seven to the letter X on their arm, or maps of New Zealand when they were nine, or chess pieces all down their arm when they were eleven, at least that was specific. At least they had a chance.
Alex and Shark? They don’t have a chance.
Alex flies through Stanford, finishing her undergrad in two and a half years and continuing straight through to a joint MD/PhD program with her same advisor. Her mom and Kara come to the small mid-year graduation ceremony, and her mom shakes her advisor’s hand and they nerd out about bioengineering, and Kara gives Alex the tightest hug, and Alex wonders if her soulmate knows that she’s happy.
A couple months later, Alex feels a burst of pride Resonate down the soulbond. She’s in the middle of lab and lets out an involuntary little sound. Happiness and fierce pride are filling her body, the kind of pride that has hurt behind it. The kind of pride that Alex herself had felt that first moment looking around at all the asshole dudes who’d talked down to her, when she’d strolled back into the lab as their PI while they were still undergrads. The kind of pride that says you tried to keep me down but look how far I’ve risen.
Alex hopes he knows that he isn’t an abomination. Alex hopes he’s loved.
Alex wonders if he even wants to meet her.
It’s about a year later, when Alex is 21, that she feels something Resonate that hard again. There have been lots of twinges – exhaustion, pride, joy, frustration, anger, sadness, desolation, and, of course, the sex (but that’s been tapering off lately) – but nothing so bold or full or dramatic.
But tonight, Alex doesn’t sleep. She can’t.
First, she feels a roll of desire and self-loathing grip her body as she lies in bed. Before she can process it, her body tells her that her soulmate is having sex. And it’s been over pretty quickly recently, but this takes a long, long time. Hours.
And then, almost as soon as it’s over, despair. Despair and self-loathing and hatred and disgust. It shoots through Alex’s body, flooding her.
A little later, anger and frustration enter the mix.
By the midday the next day, it’s just crushing sorrow and crushing self-hatred.
Alex wonders if he cheated on his girlfriend. Cheating certainly isn’t good, but at least he hadn’t cheated on his soulmate. One of the things about a world in which people are encouraged to date, and to have sex, while they look for their soulmates, is that every other relationship kind of has an expiration date. Sure, people end up marrying and having kids with people who aren’t their soulmates, but if you meet him when you’re 50, you’ll probably still leave your husband for him. So, yes, cheating is bad, but Alex can verify for a fact that his girlfriend and his…mistress?...weren’t his soulmates. So, yes, it’s bad. But it’s not, like, the worst. Some people don’t even really consider it cheating – you’re already sleeping with one person who isn’t your soulmate, why not make it two? Alex knows plenty of people who have done it.
The only reason she hasn’t done it is because sex isn’t nearly compelling enough for her to seek it out from someone she isn’t dating.
But he seems to be taking it hard, if that’s what happened. The waves of sorrow, of hate, of self-destructive feeling, keep coming for days. Alex is pretty sure his relationship is over, and she’s worried he might try to hurt himself, but, thankfully, he doesn’t. She’d know, if he did.
He’s so miserable. She wonders if he’s thinking about the word “abomination” too.
It takes months, but he starts having sex again. A lot of it.
One particular night he starts going at it, and Alex nearly screams with frustration. It’s the third night in a row and she’s tired and she wants to go to sleep and her fucking soulmate won’t stop sleeping around and it turns her on and it’s impossible to sleep through and she’s pissed.
And since she’s angry and turned on and alone in her tiny grad student apartment, she breaks a taboo she’s been too afraid to break for years. Or, well, she’s not actually sure if it’s a taboo. People don’t talk about it. (But, she wonders, do most people’s soulmates have quite this much sex – does it come up this often for everyone else?).
She doesn’t know if it’s something everyone else does, or a line she really shouldn’t be crossing. But she’s angry enough, and tired enough, and turned on enough to not care anymore.
So she touches herself while her soulmate is fucking someone else, and it feels incredibly perverse but also kind of…wholesome…in an unexpected way. Maybe because it’s the closest she’s ever come to having sex with him.
It’s better than it’s ever been before, either alone or with someone else.
And that pisses her off more than anything.
“Fuck you, asshole,” she mutters to herself, as she drifts off to sleep.
Alex is 24, and she’s in the lab mixing chemicals – she’s working on her own but there are other people in the lab, a couple undergrads and Jess, another grad student in her department – when it happens. Suddenly, and without warning, she’s stabbed in the gut.
Pain sears through her. She drops her vials and they shatter immediately, but she doesn’t notice. Her eyes are filled with tears and she’s groping at her lab coat, trying to expose her body enough to see what’s happened to her. Jess is on her immediately, touching her, helping her with her coat and pulling her away from the acid that’s creeping toward her shoes. Jess pulls off Alex’s gloves and her coat and says, in a voice that’s surprisingly calm and firm, “Where does it hurt?”
Alex swipes at her stomach on the left side, between her ribs and hipbone. She presses, she pulls up her shirt and looks, but her goggles are fogged up. She can’t see anything.
She rips them off and looks again.
Her skin is whole – untorn, unblemished. She’s not bleeding.
Jess places her hand where Alex is staring. “Is it here?”
Jess nods back. “It’s the soulbond, then. A Resonance. Your soulmate is hurt.
Alex looks up at her, horrified. She may not be obsessed with him anymore, but she’s immediately overcome with fear and helplessness.
“Do you know him?” Alex stares at her, blankly. “Have you found him? Do you know who he is?”
Alex shakes her head.
“Okay. Okay, come on, then.” Jess guides her out of the lab, barking at an undergrad to stop gawking and clean up the fucking floor. She half-carries Alex to own office, parking her in her own desk chair. “Just breathe through it, Alex,” she says. “It’ll start to fade soon.”
It takes nearly an hour, but it does fade enough for Alex to be able to breathe. Meanwhile, Jess calls campus security and they pick Alex up and drive her to her apartment. Jess offers to stay with her but Alex declines, calling Kara as soon as Jess leaves. Kara’s there within ten minutes, her face pinched tight with fear for both Alex and her big brother. She holds Alex and makes her drink water and strokes her hair and tells her that he’s going to be fine.
When she can, Alex pulls out one of her anatomy books and shows Kara where the pain is, and comforts both of them with her medical knowledge that a stab or shot there isn’t necessarily fatal.
She doesn’t know what it feels like if your soulmate dies, but she knows that she’d know. And she still hurts like hell, so that’s a good sign.
Over the next few days, she learns that he really doesn’t like to take his pain medication. It’s the most frustrating cycle: Alex will feel pretty fine, and then it gets more and more painful, until it’s a kind of dull agony, before it precipitously drops off, and the cycle starts again. And, of course, painkillers don’t work against Resonances, so Alex is completely at his mercy. She’s never hated him more.
Kara stays with her for almost a week, and Alex can’t stop whining about it.
“Just taking the fucking pill, you piece of shit!” Alex growls, awoken in the middle of the night for the third night in a row by the pain.
Kara holds her hand and mumbles and doesn’t quite wake up.
When Alex is 25, her life isn’t going quite as smoothly. She’s starting to stutter in her program – the constant pressure from her committee and from her mother has started to overwhelm her. She feels a little bit like she’s drowning.
She’s started drinking more and partying more and fucking random guys more, trying to numb her feelings of inadequacy, of failure. She wonders if failure maybe is still her greatest fear.
Kara is doing great. She just finished college and just got a job answering the phones at a law firm. It isn’t glamorous, but she’s finally feeling normal, and she’s dating this guy who is just fine but she really likes him, and Alex is so happy for her.
Of course, Eliza isn’t happy with her “dead-end” job and “dead-end” boyfriend and “dead-end” apartment with her “dead-end” roommates, and Alex never hears the end of it.
So she drinks and she parties and she has unsatisfying sex and she feels sorry for herself.
And then her stupid soulmate must accomplish something amazing because pride and joy start Resonating strongly through Alex’s body – not just once, but over the course of weeks and months.
And Alex doesn’t tell Kara, doesn’t tell anyone. She just grits her teeth and tries not to hate herself.
She fails at that too.
Less than a year later, Alex has just turned 26. She’s now officially in her late-twenties, and it’s weighing on her.
She’s so close to finishing her program, except she can’t make anything work anymore. She gets a letter that she’s on academic probation. She wonders if her soulmate can feel it as her stomach slips out of her body and thuds on the floor.
She hides it from Kara – the letter and the fact that she’s losing this fight – and that hurts like hell too.
And then her motherfucking soulmate Resonates a burst of pride and happiness and accomplishment and grit and determination and pleasure. And obviously he’s having a great life, getting promoted or whatever, and banging people left and right, and Alex is just drowning.
So she goes out harder than she usually does, and she gets so hammered that she thinks she might as well drive home. Because it’s not like anyone would miss her if anything happened to her. Eliza wouldn’t, that’s for sure. Her soulmate seems to be doing just fucking fine. And Kara…no, Kara would miss her. She drops her keys at the thought, fumbling them. Maybe she won’t drive home after all. Kara’s lost enough.
Of course, the fucking cop doesn’t listen to her that she’d changed her mind, and he arrests her.
She sits in the jail cell, sobering up, pretty sure this is the end of her graduate school career.
And then a man comes up behind her and he starts talking to her, and he knows. He knows everything. He knows her name, he knows about Stanford and about academic probation, he knows about Kara, about Kara Zor-El, and about how she’s felt all these years, like she could never measure up. He knows she’s lonely and she’s failing. He knows that she feels worthless.
But he tells her that she’s special. That her life is worth something.
He tells her he needs her.
He brings her to this weird cave out in the desert filled with advanced tech and her sister’s spaceship, and tells her he’s going to lock her in a room for five months to train.
And, honestly, that sounds better than her current life. So she says yes.
And on the day that she finally beats him, she hopes her soulmate can feel it Resonating down the bond. Grit and happiness and fierce pride born from hurt. She hopes it knocks him on his ass.
Alex devotes herself to the DEO. Kara takes over Alex’s old apartment, and their relationship is stronger than anytime since Alex went away to college. Kara starts working for Cat Grant, and, while the job duties are often humiliating, Alex thinks it’s good for her.
Cat doesn’t have a soulmate. Cat is a full-on born-on-Earth human being who, in her own words, “is perfectly enough myself, thank you very much.” Kara starts gushing to Alex about how inspiring it is to see a woman who has built this career and this empire, who has a son (two, it turns out later), who can (and does) land anyone into her bed that she wants, but who isn’t tied to the idea of one particular person. Who didn’t spend her childhood chasing Revelations and Resonances, but just lives the life she wants.
Kara is thrilled and inspired, and Alex is glad.
She wishes she didn’t have a soulmate, sometimes. When he starts sleeping with someone new, when he’s inconveniently happy. And she’s pretty sure he must regret being paired with her. Since starting with the DEO Alex’s mood has been much better, but she feels guilty about the amount of physical pain he must be in. It only took one month of training for her to stop counting cracked ribs and broken fingers as injuries. She was training with people twice her size and ten times her experience, and they were going all-out. “Your enemies won’t hold back,” Hank often said, “so why should your friends?”
By her 28th birthday, Alex has been seriously injured three times, two of which required surgery. She’s in a constant state of recovering from bruised or cracked ribs – because apparently the number one rule in the angry alien handbook is swatting humans across the room – and some part of her always aches or hurts. She isn’t sure how much of that Resonates down the soulbond, but she feels a little bad for the guy.
Not that bad, because she hasn’t had sex in about two years and he really doesn’t seem to be slowing down as he ages, but kind of bad.
But unless she’s particularly hurt, or something is actively Resonating from him, she doesn’t think about him much.
Until her plane starts to go down.
She really, really doesn’t want to die. She doesn’t want to leave Kara alone. She likes her life for the first time in a long time, and she doesn’t want it to be over.
As the plane falls from the sky, she thinks about Kara, and she surprises herself by thinking about Shark, too. She hopes feeling her die won’t be too horrible. She hopes he’ll be happy, that he’ll be loved.
She tries to help the man next to her calm down because she doesn’t want his soulmate to feel his panic before feeling him die.
And then Kara saves them. And she wonders if her soulmate knows that she’s on that plane, because what other reason could there be for the sheer terror and then overwhelming relief she must Resonate to him?
Once she’s on sturdy ground, once she’s gone to Kara’s and checked in on her, she lets herself hope, for possibly the first time since her father died, that maybe she’ll find him one day.
Of course, Kara saving her plane means that Kara reveals herself to the world as a superhero, as a person with extraordinary powers. As an alien.
Alex’s stomach is in knots. Cat Grant names her Supergirl and somehow Kara’s doofy friend Winn is making her a suit to match her cousin’s and, all at once, Alex’s awkward fragile little sister is an international superstar, notorious for her strength and her pose and her smile. And Alex is whirling because this is the girl who hid underneath the covers during thunderstorms and still uses a nightlight and held her hand during her last two Revelations and cries when she sees kittens.
And now she’s Supergirl.
Alex is terrified.
Chapter 5: Maggie
It’s been almost a year since Kara became Supergirl.
It’s been quite a year.
They’ve grown closer as sisters than Alex could have imagined. Working together is incredible. Alex loves being able to take care of Kara out in the field, and having superpowered backup for her own missions is kind of great. Alex is immensely proud of how much Kara has grown – in her strength, in her powers, in her strategy, in her compassion.
She’s really, truly, a superhero.
And she’s always been a superhero to Alex; she’s always been the kindest and most loving and sweetest part of Alex’s life. She kept Alex stable after her dad died, she held Alex’s hand during her last Revelation, she loved Alex so fiercely when it felt like no one else would.
And now she’s holding the city together, and protecting innocent people from natural disasters and unnatural attacks and she’s so wonderful, and Alex is so proud of her.
And sometimes it’s terrifying, obviously. When Kara was poisoned, when Kara was taken by the Black Mercy, when Kara lost her powers.
When Alex kills Astra. When Alex’s mind is stolen from her and she almost kills Kara.
But it’s a different kind of horrible today, because Kara is going to fly Fort Rozz into space, and she calls Alex to say goodbye. Forever.
Alex’s head is throbbing, just inches from killing her with the pain, but it’s nothing compared to the pain of saying goodbye to her sister.
She doesn’t even know if the world is worth saving if Kara won’t be there anymore.
She sobs, managing to choke out one last “I love you” before the comms cut off.
And Alex almost collapses under the weight of her grief, but then she feels it. Something Resonating from her soulmate – not just pain and despair, but something else.
Determination, and trust, and grit. Love.
And Alex doesn’t know what he’s doing, what’s making him Resonate that, but it’s enough. It’s enough to snap her out of her grief, to make her determined too. To make her tough again, too.
She looks over, and she sees Kara’s pod, sitting in the corner of the cave.
And her soulmate is Resonating trust and determination and grit and love, and Alex gathers it up inside of herself and takes it into the pod with her.
And Kara saves the world. And Alex saves Kara.
And Shark saved Alex.
The President gets attacked. Alex surveys the scene with a bouncing Kara, who is thrilled just to have spoken to her idol. Alex can’t help but roll her eyes, but she’s out in the sunshine, working next to her sister who is so completely happy, so she’s pretty good herself.
She spies a group of cops hovering by the physical evidence, and heads over to kick them off her scene. The lead detective stands, eyes her, and spars with her a little bit. She’s pretty, in an intimidating sort of way, and even though Alex wins the jurisdictional fight, she’s pretty sure that Maggie Sawyer won the battle.
Sawyer wins again at the warehouse, and Alex is pissed. A trickle of amusement and attraction Resonates down her bond that day, and Alex pushes it out of her mind, irritated.
Sawyer calls her, almost immediately after, and Alex finds herself in a grungy bar, surrounded by aliens.
And Maggie tells her that she used to date the waitress – the female, alien, female waitress – and Alex tries to play it cool.
And Maggie tells her that she grew up in Nebraska, and the little song that Alex had memorized at age nine trickles back into her brain, and for the first time Alex realizes that Maggie’s name starts with an M.
It’s a funny coincidence, and one that in different circumstances she might mention, but she doesn’t.
Maggie doesn’t really seem like the soulmate type. She’s so tough and badass, and anyone who dates aliens probably isn’t that into finding a human soulmate anyway, right? Alex has learned that some people think those who are looking, searchers, they’re called – or, less politely, hunters – are childish, immature, little princess girls.
Alex doesn’t want Maggie to think of her like that.
So she doesn’t bring it up.
Alex and Kara rescue Maggie from a different warehouse with a different alien, and Alex patches Maggie up at the DEO. Maggie, Alex can’t help but notice, looks completely stunning her dark tank top, but before Alex can get a real handle on why she can’t stop looking, Maggie’s hoping up and putting on her jacket.
“What, you got a hot date or something?” Alex jokes, trying to make herself feel less like Maggie’s walking out on her.
“Actually,” Maggie says with a little smile, “I do. And I don’t wanna leave the lady waiting, so.”
Oh, right. Lady. Because she dated the female waitress and she said she’s not straight so, right, yeah. Lady.
“See you around, Danvers,” she says, and Alex watches her go.
The next case they work spirals out of control quickly. There’s a crime scene and a brawl and Maggie gets tased and they accidentally infiltrate an underground alien fight club and Alex learns that Maggie looks really good in a dress and that her own command of the English language may be slipping, probably due to how much time she spends alone in the DEO lab. And Kara ends up in the ring, and then they arrest Roulette (who, Alex can’t help but notice, is rocking the hell out of a snake tattoo) and then Maggie has to let her go.
And then Maggie’s girlfriend comes to pick her up, and Maggie calls her babe and kisses her, and turns Alex down for a drink, and Alex wishes, for the first time in years and years, that she were in a relationship. That someone would casually peck her on the lips and call her babe and turn down drinks with someone else for her.
And she feels a trickle of confusion and worry Resonating down her soulbond the next couple of days, and she almost laughs because she’s probably sending the exact same thing back.
It turns out, though, that Maggie wasn’t just letting her down gently when she said “next time.” She texts Alex a few days later and asks her to meet for a drink to go over an NCPD case file and to “take you up on that round of drinks you offered.”
Alex meets her at the alien bar, and they go over the case file for a couple of minutes but it was clearly just an excuse to get together and to drink and to see each other in a less stressful situation. So they play a couple games of pool (Maggie loses spectacularly, even when Alex tries to go easy on her) before sitting down at one of the high-top tables with fresh beers.
“So, Danvers. Tell me about you.”
Alex shrugs a little. “Not much to tell.”
“Come on! You gotta give me something.”
“Is that your interrogation technique, Detective? Whining?”
Maggie laughs, loud and full. “Is it working?”
“Nope.” Alex grins at her. “My little sister has the best pout in the universe, and is a world class whiner. I’m immune.”
“Ha!” Maggie triumphantly smacks the table, before energetically pointing a finger right at Alex. “You admitted you have a little sister. It is working!”
Alex rolls her eyes, but grins. “That’s common knowledge, but sure. Feel good about yourself.”
Maggie rolls her eyes back. “Soooo,” she drawls, “tell me about the annoying little sister.”
“She’s…kinda great, actually. She lives here, in National City, so you’ll probably meet her eventually.” Maggie’s mouth quirks up at that, and Alex hopes she hasn’t assumed too much – maybe this drink was a one-time offer?
But Maggie isn’t saying anything else, so Alex goes on. “She works at CatCo, she’s Cat Grant’s personal assistant, so she has some crazy stories.”
Maggie smiles, and it’s a fond, affectionate look that Alex isn’t quite sure she can handle. “Sounds like you’re pretty close.”
Alex rolls her eyes. “Yes, detective, I’d say that’s accurate.” Maggie throws a nut at her, and Alex, without blinking, swats it out of the air. Maggie raises an impressed eyebrow and Alex just takes a drink of her beer, pretending to be casual. “But, yeah, we’re close. She’s my best friend, always has been.”
“That’s sweet. It’s bullshit, but it’s sweet. You telling me you never hated each other when you were kids?”
Alex shakes her head. “Never. Although it helps that we didn’t meet until I was 14, so we weren’t sharing toys or anything.”
“Shit,” Maggie says, her eyebrows up. “That’s a pretty serious age difference, Danvers.
“What?” Alex furrows her eyebrows before she gets it. “Oh, no. She’s only two years younger than me, but she’s adopted. She came to live with us when she was twelve after her parents died.”
“Wow,” Maggie’s voice is softer. “That’s really rough.”
“Yeah, it is. But she’s incredibly resilient. She’s like this really bright, happy person who sees the good in everyone, and I’m the cynical asshole of the family. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Maggie holds up her beer, inclined toward Alex. “To cynical assholes,” she says.
Alex clinks her bottle against Maggie’s. “Amen.”
After a long pull, Maggie continues the interrogation. “So, parents? Good, bad, ugly?”
Alex just barely holds in a snort, swallowing her beer down quickly. “Uh, my mom is pretty good, I guess. She’s great to Kara – that’s my sister – but she’s pretty hard on me. The curse of high expectations, or whatever.” Alex rolls her eyes at herself a little bit – she’s such a nerd.
Maggie just nods. “Yeah, I get that.” And then she pauses, clearly waiting for Alex to keep going.
“It’s just my mom,” Alex says after a slightly awkward pause. “My dad died my sophomore year of high school.” It’s not true, she knows now – has known for half a year – that it’s not true. But it’s the only thing that makes sense to say. And, after all, he still isn’t here, she still hasn’t seen him, she still doesn’t know for sure if he’s alive, or if there’s anything left of who he once was. So it still sounds kind of right, in a twisted way, to say he’s dead.
“Oh, shit.” Maggie’s voice is soft. “Danvers, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to –-“
“No, it’s okay.” Alex holds up a hand to stop her. “It was a long time ago. But he…he was a really great guy. A great dad.”
“Yeah,” Maggie says, her voice soft and affectionate and that same fond look in her eyes. “Yeah, I bet he was.”
It’s quiet for a moment, before Maggie speaks again. It’s a little hesitant, now. “So, your sophomore year. So you were what, fifteen?”
A few weeks later, Alex feels a stronger Resonance than normal. Sadness, frustration, a little anger. Resignation. And just an overwhelming feeling of emotional exhaustion. It’s been mostly good feelings Resonating lately, and Alex wonders what’s changed.
She hopes he’s okay.
As those feelings fade and the now-familiar self-loathing returns, Alex hopes he doesn’t think he’s an abomination.
They’ve hung out a lot since that first time, meeting up a couple times a week for pool or reviewing case files (which usually turns into beers and taunting and sometimes into a game or two). Maggie is hopeless at pool, but it doesn’t seem to bother her. But tonight Alex is still being buffeted by self-loathing Resonances, and she almost feels bad about taking Maggie’s bets about their game.
Maggie insists that she could win her money back, but, after three failed games, Alex isn’t buying it. “With the rate that you play?” She scoffs, holding her beer in one hand and rubbing bills together with the other. “We’d be here for hours. Your girlfriend would have to put out an APB.”
And Alex thought that was a pretty solid cop joke, but Maggie’s face just falls. “Not likely,” she says. “We broke up.”
And Alex can’t even believe it, and she trips all over herself trying to respond. “Oh my god, I’m sorry,” and she doesn’t know if she’s apologizing for what happened to Maggie or for bringing it up. “What happened?”
“She dumped me,” Maggie says simply, and Alex is aghast.
“She dumped YOU?” Alex is fired up and ready to go, but also, completely confused. Maggie is like, the perfect human woman. This makes no sense. “Who would do that?”
“She did. Convincingly.” And Maggie isn’t looking at her but Alex can’t take her eyes off Maggie’s face, can’t play it cool even though that’s clearly what Maggie is begging for.
“Well maybe it was just a fight,” Alex suggests. She’s trying to be delicate here – she isn’t sure if this is Maggie’s soulmate they’re talking about, or someone else. Maggie seems hurt, but not completely destroyed, so it’s probably not a soulmate. But, would Maggie actually show it if she were destroyed?
“Well,” Maggie reaches into her pocket and pulls out more crumpled bills. “She said I was insensitive, hard-headed, obsessed with work…”
“Well, that’s not so bad,” Alex interjects. She’s definitely all those things herself, it’s not a huge problem (is it?).
“Also, uh, borderline sociopathic and she never wants to see me again. So I’m pretty sure it’s over.” Maggie actually looks over at Alex for a second, and Alex wants to hug her.
But they don’t have that type of relationship and Alex hasn’t hugged anyone but Kara or her mom or J’onn in years (when did she get this lame) so she just awkwardly holds up her beer again. “Well, her loss.”
But Maggie doesn’t raise her own. “I just thought, whatever…she was…” But Maggie trails off, letting out a frustrated puff of breath.
“Thought she was what?” Alex can’t help but finish the thought. “Thought she was your soulmate?”
And that gets Maggie’s attention. She looks quickly over at Alex, eyebrows up and skeptical. “No,” she says immediately, “no, not my soulmate. I just thought…” Maggie leans her forearms on the bar and pushes her body back a little bit. “I thought she was maybe someone I could have a life with, while I was waiting.”
Alex nods. That’s rough, then.
“But, obviously, I was wrong.”
Alex eyes her for a moment. “I’m sorry,” she says softly.
And then Maggie leaves, heading home to drink something harder and lose her cool by herself, and Alex can’t say she blames her. It’s her favorite coping mechanism too.
And that night, and the next day, self-loathing is still Resonating through her body, but there’s maybe a tiny bit of something else too. Maybe a little bit of hope.
Chapter 6: Gay Panic
It’s about a month after Maggie tells her about the breakup before they return to the alien bar. They’ve been meeting up in coffeeshops and sharing lunches over piles of paperwork more than drinking together lately, and Alex worries about how Maggie’s coping even though Maggie says that she’s fine. Alex just wants her to be happy, and she wonders sometimes about how much she’d do to make that happen. Because Alex cherishes their time together – loves it, really – and without her really realizing how it happened, Maggie’s become one of the most important people in her life.
She’s smart and she’s tough and she gets Alex’s job, and Alex gets hers. And it’s so freeing and wonderful to be able to talk shop with someone, to make jokes about alien physiology to someone who’ll laugh, or crinkle up her nose, or turn it into a sarcastic eye roll that she softens by bumping Alex’s shoulder with her own.
And Alex is honored to be around her, really. She’s incredible. She’s strong and brave and heartstoppingly beautiful, and Alex has never been quite good enough but Maggie liking to spend time with her, prioritizing spending time with her, makes her feel radiant, sometimes. And Alex cares about her, and finds more satisfaction than she probably should in making Maggie laugh when she’s sad or frustrated after a case, in being the person who gets her forehead to relax after a long day, in being the person who helps her forget, for a couple of hours, when a case goes cold.
She hasn’t had a best friend in a long time, not since Vicky, and it feels like a childish and stupid and immature thing to want, but when she imagines, in the most secret parts of herself, Maggie thinking of her as a best friend, her heart thumps and her gut warms and she can’t help but smile.
Alex just craves her. She hadn’t realized what she was missing, not having a best friend for all these years.
Finally, after about a month, Maggie invites her out to the bar, and she brings over a case file and they talk through it for about an hour. They determine it’s something NCPD can handle alone for now, but Alex will be on standby in case anything escalates.
Maggie buys Alex another beer to thank her for her time, and when she returns she leans back in the booth, looks directly at Alex, narrows her eyes, and casually asks the question that everyone wants to ask but no one quite knows how. “So, Danvers. Met your soulmate yet?”
Alex nearly chokes on her beer, but recovers well. Maggie had asked it super casually, so she tries to respond the same way. “Nope, no sign of him yet.”
Maggie’s eyes narrow even more, and something flicks across her face, but she just makes a humming sound.
“You said you’re waiting for yours, right?”
Maggie nods. “Yup. Kind of hoping she’ll hurry the fuck up, you know?”
Alex blinks at her, maybe four or five times. Because she knows that Maggie’s gay—knows that her recent ex and her waitress ex are both women—but it still hadn’t even occurred to her that Maggie’s soulmate would be a “she.”
“When did…how did,” Alex sputters her question out without really thinking it through. “How do you know your soulmate is a woman?”
Maggie raises her eyebrows at Alex – it’s not her usual look, though. It’s a little more judgmental. She leans forward, propping her forearms on the table in a direct challenge, one eyebrow up. “How do you know yours is a man?”
And Alex just codfishes for a minute. “I, it…uh. I mean, just, of course he’s a man.
Maggie leans back with this look on her face that she must have during interrogation when someone incriminates themselves. Smug as all hell. “You sure about that?”
And Alex just sputters some more, and finally Maggie takes pity on her, flashing a dimple and waving a dismissive hand in the air. “I’m fucking with you, Danvers.”
But it didn’t feel like she was being fucked with. Maggie’s kind of an asshole so she’s fucked with Alex before. But it never felt like that, with the eye contact and the aggression and the direct challenge.
But Maggie doesn’t seem to notice. “I mean, of course I’m not sure of anything until I meet her, but I’ve known I was a lesbian since I was fourteen, so it’d be pretty fucked up for the universe to have set me up with a dude.”
Alex nods. “Yeah, sorry, that makes sense. I just wasn’t thinking.”
Maggie shrugs it off. “It’s fine.” Alex must make a face, because Maggie laughs lightly at her. “Really, you’re fine. You’re not the first to ask. Although…” Maggie trails off for a second, looking at Alex a little more intently.
“Although usually the girls who ask me that are the ones who are starting to hope that their ink was about a girl too.”
And Alex sputters again. “Mine…I’m, I’m straight, Maggie.”
“Yeah,” Maggie says, waving that away again. “Yeah, I know, you’ve said. But…” she hesitates, and then seems to decide to jump right in. “But, you sure about that? Cause,” she holds up a hand to keep Alex from interrupting, “I’ve met a number of girls who were definitely straight, until they met their very gay, very female soulmate. It happens.”
Alex says nothing, just blinks again and again.
“Sorry,” Maggie says after a long and very awkward moment. “I didn’t mean to make it weird. I’m just fucking with you, kinda.”
But she isn’t, and they both know it.
Alex’s soulmate is frustrated, but Alex can’t really deal with that right now, because she’s confused.
She shows up at Kara’s apartment, eating a donut. “I’m feeling confused about something,” she says.
And then she gives Kara some big sisterly advice, and it makes her feel a little better. Everything else might be confusing, but least she’s still good at that.
She finds herself giving an impassioned answer to a bland question, going on about how people need to “find what works for them, who they are inside, what they’re meant to be,” and she wonders if confused isn’t really the word for it.
And then Kara asks her what she wanted to talk about, and she hesitates and takes a couple breaths, and then, haltingly, starts. “Have you ever thought about, I mean, have you ever wondered…has it…” She trails off, swallows, reminds herself that she’s a badass alien hunter, and says it.
“Have you ever wondered if you might…like…girls?”
Kara looks at her for a long minute, her hand freezing on her small bottle of water.
Kara adjusts her glasses nervously. “I…no, I guess, not really.” She pauses, then delicately, asks, “Are you…wondering?”
And Alex just looks at her for a long moment before dropping her gaze down to the table and giving a small jerky little nod. “Yeah.” Her voice is small and muffled and thick. “Yeah, I might be.”
And Kara is truly the best little sister in the world, because she’s up in an instant, rounding the table and pulling Alex into the tightest hug that she dares.
It takes Alex a little while to be ready to talk. Kara takes her on a walk, down by the waterfront, because Alex always thinks better when she’s moving.
“Did something…happen?” Kara finally asks, her voice soft and caring.
“Um, kind of. I was talking with Maggie—“
“Your cop friend.”
“Right, yeah. I mean, you know that, um, she and I started working on a couple of cases together. And, you know, we started hanging out after work, and she…she was dating this…girl, uh, woman, but they just broke up, and so we were talking about soulmates.”
“Was the girl her soulmate?”
“No, but uh, I asked her that, and she said no, and then she asked if I’d met mine yet and I said no I haven’t met him and then I asked her and she said no she hasn’t but she hopes that she hurries up, or something.”
Alex pauses for moment, but Kara doesn’t say anything, so she goes on. “And it’s so stupid, I feel so stupid, because I knew she was gay, she told me she was gay the first time we hung out, and I’ve, like, sort of met two of her ex-girlfriends, just in passing, but I just…I just assumed, you know?”
“That her soulmate was a man.”
“Yeah. And I said something like that, and she just gave me this look, you know, like I was an idiot, and I was so humiliated, and then, I—I don’t know, she said she was messing with me, but…”
And it just pours out of Alex in a stream, fast and frustrated and confused and afraid and little bit defensive. “But she asked me if I was really sure that mine was a man, if I was really sure that I was straight, because she knows some women who didn’t realize they were gay until they met their soulmates, and she just kept saying that, are you really sure, have you really thought, and I just –“ Alex lets her hands drop to her sides, defeated. “I’m not sure. I haven’t thought. I’d never wondered, I’d never questioned. I’d just…assumed.”
“And now that you’re wondering? What…what are you thinking?”
Alex shrugs. “I don’t…I don’t know. But I’m…remembering things, things with Vicky especially, that I shoved down so deep it was like they never happened. And things with guys that just didn’t…” she lets out a puff of air. She can’t possibly find the words for this. “And now I…I’m just remembering, I guess.”
“Would…” Alex’s voice is more halting, more timid, more afraid now than ever, because this is the biggest thing she needs to ask. She needs to hear Kara’s answer and she’s not sure that she’s strong enough. “Would you…” she swallows, thickly.
Kara reaches over and takes her hand. “You can ask me anything,” she says as softly as she can.
It comes out in rush, garbled and choked. “Would you be disappointed in me if Shark were a new sister instead of new brother?”
She’s buried in Kara’s arms before she even realizes that she’s crying. And it takes her minute to realize that Kara is saying her name over and over again, and saying no over and over again. “Of course I wouldn’t, Alex. Of course I wouldn’t. I would never be disappointed in you.” Kara pulls back a little, and cups Alex’s face in her hands as gently as she can. “Anyone who makes you happy, Alex, I don’t care if they’re a man or a woman or an alien or what. I just care about YOU, Alex, you’re my sister, and I love you just the same no matter who Shark turns out to be, okay?”
And Alex keeps crying but she’s nodding, and Kara pulls her back in for a hug.
“You’re not alone, Alex,” she says. “I’m here.”
And Alex is sure that her soulmate must feel this relief Resonating down the bond as forcefully as anything, and she wonders, with the small part of her brain that hasn’t stopped whirring since Maggie challenged her at the bar, if her soulmate can tell that she’s changing.
It isn’t until later that night, when Alex is snuggled up on Kara’s couch in Kara’s most comfortable sweatpants, eating Kara’s pizza and wrapped in Kara’s arms, that they talk about it again.
Or rather, Kara talks about it, shooting up off the couch with an excited yell so quickly and so forcefully that Alex nearly topples off the couch.
“OH MY GOD, ALEX!”
Alex rubs her closest ear. “What, Kara, jesus.”
“ALEX.” Kara is hovering a couple inches over the couch, excitement beaming out of her face. “ALEX.”
“Kara.” Alex deadpans.
“Her name is Maggie! With an M!”
Alex holds up a hand immediately. “Don’t start.”
It seems to have no effect. “You said she’s from Nebraska, that’s in the Midwest, right!?”
“And, oh my GOD, if she was a girl and she was gay, no WONDER her greatest fear was girls! Alex! It all makes sense!!”
Alex holds up a hand again, more sternly. “Kara.” She’s using her commander voice. “Stop.”
Kara sinks back down to the couch. “Why? Alex, this is the closest you’ve ever gotten! Why…why aren’t you excited with me?”
“It’s not Maggie.”
“Are you sure? Do you know her letter? Is it A?”
“No, I don’t know her letter. But it’s not her. It can’t be.”
“I don’t…it’s not…I’ve spending time with her for over a month, Kara, I think I’d know.” There’s no way it could be Maggie. Maggie is perfect and Alex is usually just a couple steps up from disappointing. Maggie is smart and tough and so beautiful, and cool and experienced and has that confident swagger, and Alex is just a mess.
Maggie dates pretty blonde real estate agents and telepathic aliens who know they like women.
Maggie isn’t interested in her. It’s not Maggie. She’d have said something. She knew she was looking for a girl, and she knows Alex starts with A and is from California and is a scientist and she’d have said something.
Kara shakes her head. “Yeah but you just realized you might like girls, like, today.”
“I’d know.” Alex’s voice is stubborn and final, and Kara knows better than to push when Alex is using that tone.
“I still think it’s her, Alex.”
It’s not Maggie. There’s no point in thinking about it.
And Kara doesn’t say anything else, but they both know it isn’t dropped.
And Alex has another thing to add to her growing list of things to be confused about.
Chapter 7: Superfriends
The next time they see each other, Maggie apologizes for overstepping, but Alex waves her off.
“You’re fine, Sawyer,” she says.
They’re playing a round of pool when Alex’s phone rings. She answers it, assuming that it’s work, but it’s just Kara (not Supergirl) wanting to chat.
“Can I call you back later? I’m out.
“Oooh,” Kara’s voice is instantly teasing in the way only little sisters can pull off. “With Maaaaaggie?”
Alex rolls her eyes. “Yes, with Maggie. I’ll call you later.”
Alex’s eyes dart over to Maggie and she gives her apologetic look. Maggie just grins at her, full dimple.
“Wait! Invite her to game night!”
“Uh, no way.”
“What! Why not!”
“Because Maggie doesn’t need to spend her precious free time watching you destroy every good relationship in your life because you’re a sore loser at Monopoly.”
Maggie laughs out loud at that.
“Okay, well then, how about for a drink at Noonans? I want to meet her, like, as Kara, and I’m sure the boys do too!”
Alex has learned the hard way to be wary when Kara is this excited. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, Kara.”
“Pleeeease, Alex? You can’t see me but I’m doing the pout AND the puppy eyes!”
And Alex laughs despite herself. “The pout AND the puppy eyes, huh?”
“Yeah, hold on, I’m taking a picture.”
“You’re ridiculous, I have to go.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll ask her. Call you later bye.” Alex hangs up, cutting off the sounds of Kara starting to celebrate.
“I thought you said you were immune to the pout,” Maggie teases, grinning.
“Yeah, well,” Alex shrugs a little, trying to push down how much she likes making Maggie smile like that, how much she likes having a private joke with her. “I never said anything about the puppy eyes. Those things are deadly."
“Well good thing you’re a world-class bioengineer then, huh? Maybe you should be cooking up a vaccine.”
And Alex’s heart is stuttering because Maggie remembered the stupid detail that she’s a bioengineer and she called Alex world-class and she’s still smiling like that.
And then Alex’s phone chings and she checks it and she laughs, and she tilts the screen to show Maggie, who obligingly takes a couple steps closer until she’s right up against Alex so she can see it as well.
It’s a picture of Kara, a close-up selfie, and she’s indeed pouting and giving the puppy eyes, and she’s helpfully labeled each in a messy hot pink scrawl.
And Maggie laughs too, taking the phone out of Alex’s hand to look at it more closely, and Alex wonders, for the first time, if watching anyone big sister Kara would feel this good, or if it’s a Maggie thing.
Alex stays true to her word and she invites Maggie for a drink with Kara and the boys at Noonan’s, and Maggie looks like she’s going to say no, but Alex puts on a small pout of her own and shows her the picture of Kara again, and Maggie says yes.
She’s been feeling a giddy nervousness Resonating down the bond the past couple of days, and for once it’s actually matching up with how she feels herself. She’s nervous for Maggie to meet her friends, to meet Kara (as her sister, not her super-powered running buddy). Maggie has been this kind of private thing so far, someone that Alex saw on her own and kept separate from the rest of her life. She hasn’t had a friend that was just hers in years and years. It feels weird to be sharing her.
But it’s happening. Kara has already set up a group text, blasting everyone (except Maggie) with emojis and reminding them to pretend that she is a fully normal totally human just regular ole person. In response, Alex simply sends a photo that she always keeps on her phone of a thirteen-year-old Kara covered, head to toe, in spaghetti sauce, with the caption “normal? fat chance.”
But the Thursday they decide on, Alex’s soulmate’s mood sharply tilts. A low-grade panic is Resonating through her, making it hard to focus all day at the DEO. It doesn’t feel like fear, it feels more like, a big presentation, maybe? Like he’s (she’s?) panicking and trying to gear himself (herself?) up for a big event.
Alex hopes it goes well (and ends soon).
Maggie comes to Noonan’s a little late, and Alex doesn’t blame her. She seems nervous, but she’s covering it up well. She looks beautiful, like she always does. She strides up the table, and if it’s missing a little of her usual swagger, she’s still got a bravado about her that Alex envies. She’s wearing her usual black leather jacket, the one with the diamond stitching on the shoulders, and dark jeans and boots with a little more of a heel than normal. Alex wonders if she’d been expecting to stand all night and was trying to give herself a little more height. It’s kind of an adorable thought.
She gamely shakes hands with Winn and James, and offers her hand to Kara, but Kara makes a squawking noise and pulls her in for a very uncomfortable side-hug. “Sorry,” Kara says with a grin, letting go of Maggie and gesturing for her to take the empty stool between Winn and Alex, “I’m a hugger.”
“Sorry about her,” Alex murmurs to Maggie, leaning towards her.
But Maggie just grins at her, full dimple, as she gets settled on her stool. “No,” she says, her voice soft and private, just for Alex. “She’s cute. I mean, you described her as a puppy, and…wow.”
Alex grins at her. “I know, right?”
Maggie nods. “So much more accurate than I expected.”
And Alex laughs and Maggie laughs and Alex feels really, really good. And if she were paying attention, she’d notice that the Resonating panic is fading – but she isn’t.
They shoot the shit for a little while, Alex and Winn talking shop about the DEO and Kara and James regaling Maggie with stories about Cat Grant.
Maggie goes up to the bar to buy the second round – everyone had protested but she’d threatened to arrest them all for obstruction of justice and they all know that’s not what it means but it was so cute and she’s clearly trying so hard that they let her – and a girl tentatively comes up to her and chats with her for a couple minutes.
Kara shoots a concerned look at Alex, but Alex shakes her head, just the tiniest bit. It’s not Maggie, so there’s no point in dwelling on how shitty she suddenly feels.
The girl writes something down on a napkin and hands it to Maggie and Maggie puts it in her back pocket and Alex resolutely does not look at Kara, and focuses on coming up with the best hair related insult she can use on Winn tomorrow at the staff meeting. It’s not Maggie, so it doesn’t matter if Maggie calls the girl and takes her out and kisses her and marries her.
Maggie comes back, expertly handling all five beers at once. She distributes them, returns to her own bar stool, swings her leg over it, sits, and pulls the napkin out of her back pocket. “I’m not sure if you’re single,” she says, holding it out to James, “but the lovely young woman in the red shirt over there sends her compliments.”
And Alex feels like an elephant (or maybe her extremely heavy alien sister) has just climbed off her chest. It’s not Maggie, but they’re all here for her to get to know Alex’s friends, so it just would have been rude for her to be picking up girls, that’s all. Kara relaxes too, like she’s no longer trying to keep herself from accidentally frying the table with her eyeballs.
James takes the napkin, turning a little in his chair to raise his hand in acknowledgement to the girl.
“She’s pretty,” Kara says, awkwardly.
James blushes and is suddenly very interested at picking at the label on his bottle. “Yeah, I’m, uh, not really interested in dating right now, though.” Winn claps him on the shoulder sympathetically and Kara busies herself with her own beer. Maggie sends an inquisitive look to Alex who tries to give her a “tell you later” kind of look.
Apparently she isn’t as subtle as she’d hoped, because James speaks again, this time directly to Maggie. “I was in a serious relationship for a long time that ended pretty recently. I’m still sort of…trying to figure out who I am without her, you know?
Maggie nods. “Oh, yeah, been there. Sucks."
James laughs and holds out his beer. She clinks hers against it.
“Was yours your soulmate?” James asks. It’s a pretty normal question in that context, when talking about a long relationship.
“Oh, no, no. She was…we met my sophomore year of college, dated for about five years. She was definitely not my soulmate, but she was the first person I loved. I grew up with her, in a lot of ways, you know?”
James nods knowingly, and Winn and Kara and Alex nod too even though they never really had anyone like that. And Alex looks closely at James and Winn but neither of them seems to be batting an eyelash that Maggie said “she.”
“What about yours?” She asks.
“No, Lucy wasn’t my soulmate. But we were together for so long that I thought maybe we’d be one of those couples that doesn’t need it. But…uh, guess not.”
There’s a bit of an awkward silence then, but luckily, there’s Winn. “Wow,” he says, his voice upbeat. “We are a pathetic group! Look at us! Five beautiful, smart people, all soulmate-less.”
And everyone laughs, even Maggie. James holds up his bottle again. “To the search,” he says.
They all clink, even Kara.
“To the search,” Winn says back, enthusiastic.
"Alex,” James says, his voice thoughtful. “Have you done any research on soulmates? Wouldn’t that fall into your field?”
“Um, yeah, some bioengineers work on it, but it was never my research area, myself. But this girl I was in grad school with, Jess, she was trying to understand what happens biologically when the soulbond opens, and I read a couple of her dissertation drafts, they were really good.”
“Anything to share with the class?” Winn asks.
“Uhh,” Alex squints a little. “In short, no.” Alex laughs a little. “Her whole dissertation basically boiled down to ‘all my hypotheses were wrong and I have no idea what happens or why.’”
“Man,” Winn says, “I remember the day my soulbond opened. It was so weird.”
Kara leans forward a little bit, always eager to learn more about soulmates. “Had you ever felt anything Resonate before that?”
“Before I was sixteen? No. That’s practically impossible.”
“Alex did.” Four heads swivel directly to Alex, and she just raises her eyebrows right at Kara. She can tell that her sister spoke without thinking – Kara always takes any opportunity to brag about Alex, no matter the appropriateness of the situation. It’s cute…usually.
“Uh, yeah.” Alex’s voice is a little soft. “When I was twelve.”
“Twelve?” James is incredulous. “That’s so young!”
Alex shrugs a little, and can’t help but look over at Maggie, who has a wide-eyed but suspiciously blank look on her face.
“What was it like?” Winn is leaning in now, in full on diagnostic mode.
And Alex is pretty sure that Maggie isn’t her soulmate, but there’s like a 0.01% chance and anyway this is kind of private and she didn’t even tell Kara until years afterwards, so she tries to keep it vague.
“I wasn’t really sure what it was, because I was so young. And it was pretty faint, but it was definitely…something, uh serious.” She pauses for a moment, picking her words carefully. “It must have been something…something really bad, or, just…intense, for them, for me to feel it back then.”
And if Maggie notices the gender-neutral pronoun, she doesn’t say anything. She’s looking at Alex with this intense look on her face – she’s both emotionally blank and incredibly, fixedly, intently present. A muscle in her jaw twitches, twice, and Alex has a strange sudden urge to reach over and touch it with a soft finger.
“But, um, then I didn’t feel anything else until I was sixteen, so, I don’t know. Jess actually did a brain scan on me, when I told her, but she didn’t find anything.”
“Oh, okay, wait, let’s, oh sorry Alex not to cut you off but I realized, Maggie is new, and I don’t know this about you Alex either, let’s do favorite animals!” Winn is babbling, but his point is clear.
Revelations are private, for the most part, but the first is so childish and innocent that people talk about it a lot. Sometimes it’s even what you’re asked to share when you go around the room and introduce yourself in a new class or meeting. Name, major, hometown, favorite animal when you were five. You’re never asked for your soulmate’s favorite animal – because some people don’t have soulmates and some haven’t been born yet and it’s delicate – but you’re often asked for yours. And it’s not like you really have to think about it, because it was inked on your arm, plain as day, on your fifth birthday.
And Alex does not want to do this right now, she isn’t ready for this right now, she isn’t ready to hear what Maggie’s animal was. Either way, shark or no shark, she isn’t ready.
But Winn is bouncing in his seat and he’s so excited, and Kara clearly thinks she’s helping when she enthusiastically agrees, and suddenly it doesn’t matter what Alex thinks because it’s happening.
“Okay, okay, I’ll go first,” Kara says, sitting up straighter and pushing her glasses up her face. “Mine was…(drumroll please) aaaaa….moose!” It’s what she always says. It’s a lie, obviously. When she was five she was on Krypton, but she can’t exactly name a Kryptonian animal (although she has described her favorites to Alex, in depth, many times). And her favorite was kind of close to a moose, and it’s a funny thing to say, and it’s distinctive, and also Alex is the one who suggested it, so she’ll never say anything else.
She and the boys get into a short Bullwinkle impersonation contest, but after that there’s this awkward moment because they’re at a round table. If they go clockwise, James will go next, and Maggie will say hers before Alex does. But if it goes counterclockwise, Alex will go next – before Maggie.
And she definitely can’t handle that. It isn’t Maggie, but…what if it is?
What if she wants it to be?
So she holds out a hand and gestures to James. “Ladies first,” she says. And he scoffs a little bit, but he does it. And Alex can feel both Kara and Maggie boring holes into her scull from either side, but she impassively looks forward, hoping that her ability to beat a lie detector test will translate into this moment.
“Okay, okay,” James says. “Mine was a bear.”
Kara doesn’t even blink before she asks: “Black bear? Grizzly? Panda?”
“Koala?” Winn asks.
“Polar?” Maggie adds, earning herself a wink from Winn.
“Uhhh…” Kara searches for another one, but laughs. “I’m out.”
“I think we got them all,” Winn says.
“Uh, no.” Alex says automatically. “You missed Asiatic black, Andean, sloth, and sun bears.” She ticks them off her fingers. “And koala isn’t technically a member of the bear family, Winslow.”
The table erupts. It takes a good five minutes for the debate to settle on whether or not sloths are bears. Kara and Maggie seem to be taking Alex’s side on pure faith, while Winn and James are arguing the other side.
“Not all sloths are bears,” Alex says wearily after what feels like too long, “just this one species in India.”
“And Sri Lanka!” Kara pipes up, her gaze down at her phone under the table.
“Cheater!” Winn cries. “Brazen woman!”
“Look!” Kara coos, undeterred. “They’re cute!”
James grabs the phone from Kara, scrolling quickly. “Damn, Alex,” he says, impressed.
“Is there anything you don’t know?” Winn’s tone is annoyed but Alex just smirks at him.
“Okay, okay,” Kara says, pulling her phone back from Winn. “Your turn, Winn.”
“Oh, right, yeah. Mine was a gorilla.”
Kara and James immediately coo again.
“I had this book about Koko the gorilla, and I would read it like every day.” Winn smiles a little. “I loved that fucking monkey.”
Maggie nods, knowingly. “Yeah, Koko’s the shit.”
Alex laughs. “I was obsessed with her too.”
“Oh yeah!” Kara’s eyes are bright. “I’d forgotten! You showed me that book in the library when I first go to Ea—uh, Midvale!”
Alex smiles over at her, giving her the special big sister smile that she knows always makes Kara melt.
“Okay, okay, Maggie, you’re up.” James says. Alex suddenly develops heart palpitations. She tries not to get her hopes up. It’s not Maggie, she reminds herself.
“No, wait,” Winn interrupts. “Let’s guess.”
“Uh, lion,” James guesses.
Kara jumps in next, probably trying to throw off suspicion. “Tiger.”
“Cheetah!” Winn is practically bouncing off his seat. “No! Jaguar! No! Panther!”
Maggie laughs. She’s so beautiful.
“Are we on the right track?”
Maggie grins at him. “Well, as flattered as I am that you think I was the type of kid to be into large predatory cats, unfortunately I wasn’t that sophisticated.” She takes a half a beat pause, and Alex’s heart is somewhere in her gut.
Maggie says it directly to Winn, but it feels like she’s saying it only for Alex. “I was a hardcore tomboy and not super subtle,” she gives a small little self deprecating laugh before shrugging, “so I liked sharks.”
Alex nearly falls off her chair.
Kara does fall off her chair.
“Sorry!” She squeaks, popping back up a smidge faster than humanly possible, her cheeks bright red. “Sorry! I’m, um! I’m scared of sharks!” Her voice is still a squeak and it’s the worst excuse in the world, but at least it’s given Alex half a second to collect herself.
But before she can do anything — before she can say her own animal or address Maggie’s or even look at Maggie, and oh my god, it might actually her, it might actually be Maggie — her phone and Winn’s phone both go off.
They look at each other quickly before Alex answers hers. “Danvers…I – yes, I’m with Agent Schott…was it a major satellite?...Okay, yes…no sir, I’m in the area. ETA five minutes.
She hangs up and points at Winn. “Emergency on satellite two-alpha,” she says, and Winn shoots up off his stool, practically sprinting toward the door.
“I’m sorry,” Alex says to Kara and James. Then she turns to her other side. Maggie is sitting there, looking shell-shocked, but Alex can’t process that right now. “Mag – I’m…I’m sorry, I have to go.”
And she turns and she runs out after Winn, and she feels like a coward.
Chapter 8: Final Revelation
It takes Alex and Winn hours to deal with the satellite. It’s one of the DEO’s primary tracking hubs, one of the main ones that monitors the skies for new alien activity. One of the ones Non had used in one of his attacks last year, one of the ones Cadmus has been feinting at lately. Alex and Winn are, after a long night, able to stop the current problem, but Alex is worried this was just the opening move in a new chess match.
So she’s distracted when she’s driving her bike home, and when she’s parking, and when she’s walking up the stairs to her apartment, and when she’s walking down her hallway.
But then she sees Maggie, sitting on the floor of the hallway, her back leaning against Alex’s door, and suddenly she can barely remember the word “satellite.”
God, she’s so beautiful.
Maggie’s head snaps up when she hears Alex’s footsteps, and she awkwardly clambers to her feet. She’s usually pretty graceful, and Alex fleetingly wonders how long she’s been sitting there.
“Mag-“ Alex’s voice unfortunately cracks a little bit, so she clears her throat and tries again. “What are you doing here?”
“We need to talk,” Maggie says, her face resolute, her eyes firm.
Alex isn’t ready.
She’d expected to have more time to think about it, to process it. To talk about it with Kara and to let Kara’s excitement wash over her until she’s comfortable with her own. She needs time to analyze, to tactically prepare, to do the research and make a plan.
She hasn’t had a second for any of it, yet. She’s not ready.
“It’s late,” she says lamely. “Maybe we can try tomorrow?
And Maggie has always been supportive and has always let Alex go at her own pace, but she isn’t budging. In fact, she’s drawing herself up, straightening her spine, and planting her feet. “No. Not tomorrow, not next week. Tonight, Alex. Right now.”
And Alex isn’t sure if it’s still night or if it’s morning now, technically, but she takes her keys out of her pocket and walks over to Maggie and Maggie barely makes space for her, so she’s so close enough to feel (or is it just wistful thinking?) the heat of Maggie’s body as she unlocks her door.
Alex leads them into the apartment. “How did you find out my address?” It’s the least important question, but Alex can’t handle anything else.
But Maggie doesn’t bite. “I’m a detective, Danvers,” she deadpans. “I detect.”
And Alex turns back to her and smiles at her, but Maggie looks hurt and vulnerable and still so, so resolute, and Alex realizes she can’t stop this. She can’t put this off. She can’t say no any longer to this incredible woman in front of her. She tries to shake off her expectations for how prepared she wanted to be for this conversation, for the practice rounds she’d have liked to have with Kara.
She braces herself, and lets it happen.
“Alex,” Maggie says, her voice cracking. She hasn’t taken more than three steps into the apartment, hasn’t looked around, hasn’t taken off her jacket. “I need to hear you say it.”
Alex just looks at her, blinking a couple of times. Maggie is unraveling in front of her, just cracking apart. Alex doesn’t know exactly what Maggie wants her to say – and, at the same time, all of the deepest and most fundamental parts of Alex know exactly what Maggie’s asking.
But it’s like Alex’s brain is going too slowly for her to form words, so Maggie keeps going.
“I know, Alex, I know it’s you. I know it is. I can feel it, Alex, when I look at you, when I think about you. I know it’s you.”
Alex gapes at her. Maggie is braver and stronger and bolder and more incredible that Alex had ever imagined.
Alex is pretty sure she loves her already.
Maggie holds up a hand and starts ticking off her fingers. “You’re Alex,” one finger.
“And you’re from California,” a second finger.
“And you’re a huge fucking nerd and there is a god damned surfboard in that corner,” a third.
Oh my god, Alex thinks. This is really happening. Maggie’s her soulmate. Maggie’s her soulmate.
Maggie’s naming her Revelations. Maggie’s naming her Revelations and they were leading her, her entire life, to Alex.
Alex can’t breathe.
Maggie’s still going, plowing through, determined and firm but something nearly frantic in her tone. “And I’ve seen you, you’re such an overachiever and you’re so desperate for approval, and I know you’re afraid of failure.” She ticks off a fourth finger. Alex shudders.
“And you’re a fucking doctor doctor special agent and tonight you fixed a satellite and you’re just stupidly brilliant, Alex,” a fifth. Alex can’t breathe.
“And you have the fucking weight of the world on your shoulders and you’re constantly throwing yourself into danger like you’re the only one who can save everyone and I fucking bet that you’d like to be able to take a weekend off, to be relieved for just a hot minute, to feel less responsible, Alex, I know that,” a sixth. Alex wants to cry.
Only Kara has ever understood that about her. Only Kara has ever understood how she’s needed to be relieved, but she’s never completely gotten it, because sometimes Alex has needed to be relieved from Kara. But Maggie is standing here in front of her and she gets it and she understands and she wants to help and she wants Alex to be relieved, and she’s Alex’s soulmate, and Alex has been waiting for her soulmate for her entire life, and she’s here and she’s brilliant and she’s beautiful and she’s standing in Alex’s living room and Alex can’t even believe this is happening and everything that’s rolling over her is very cliché.
Alex is silent, mouth agape, letting it all roll over her. Maggie is talking about her Revelations—which were about her. Nothing in the world could have prepared her for hearing it out loud. For hearing out loud that when Maggie woke up, at age five and nine and seventeen, the ink on her skin was about Alex. And Maggie remembers all of them and Maggie has figured her out – figured it out, figured them out – and Alex can’t even draw a breath.
And she’d been pretty sure at the bar, and had been almost completely sure when she saw Maggie sitting in her hallway, but Alex still can’t quite believe that she’s lucky enough to have this gorgeous, strong, badass, brilliant, tough person – who is standing in her apartment and crying, who came to drinks with her friends, who is so terrible at pool but never turns down a game – as her soulmate.
Alex is a mess, she’s almost thirty years late to being gay, and she’s never been the best person in any room she’s in. And Maggie is the most amazing person she’s ever laid eyes on.
Alex can’t quite believe it, and she still can’t draw a breath. This is too good, it can’t be true. She can’t think, she can’t move, she can’t believe it.
But Maggie can, and does, and she keeps going, starting to move closer to Alex, holding up a hand and pointing a finger right at Alex. “And when you were fifteen,” she says firmly, her voice shaking, “I was seventeen, and the bond was open for me, and I felt anguish and grief and horrible guilt and I know that was when your dad died, I know it was.”
Alex wraps her own arms around herself, hugging her ribs tightly. She’s so completely overwhelmed by how much Maggie remembers – Alex remembers everything, of course, but she’s always the one who cares more, who remembers more, who notices more – by how much Maggie cares, by Maggie.
And Maggie looks her square in the eye, tears absently falling. “And when you were twelve you felt something and I know, I know what it was. I was fourteen, and I bet it was Valentine’s Day, wasn’t it, when you felt it?”
And Alex gasps a little bit, because that’s kind of irrefutable, even to the most doubtful, rational, scientific parts of her brain. She’s never told anyone, not even Kara, that it was Valentine’s Day.
Maggie nods, in a satisfied way, even though she’s still crying and her voice is still cracking. “And that was the worst day of my life – and I’ll tell you about it, I swear, because I know it’s you, Alex – but you felt it.” Maggie grasps at her own chest. “You felt me, Ally, I know you did.”
And it’s all Alex can do to nod, taking shuddering breath after shuddering breath. She’s been feeling Maggie inside of her body since she was twelve years old. It’s always been Maggie.
She’s crying too, but she barely notices. She can’t feel her body at all, but at the same time she can feel the ghost of every Revelation burning onto her skin.
“But I just…Ally I know it’s you, but I need to hear you say it. Just say it, Alex, just tell me.” Maggie closes her eyes, screwing them shut as tightly as she can while she asks it. “What was your animal, Alex?”
And Alex chokes, and stutters, and tries to breathe.
Her entire body is heavy, her lungs are heavy, but her eyes are still open and she can still see this person, this woman, standing in front of her, crying, whose life has been inked on her skin and whose heart has been Resonating through her body.
“When I was young,” she starts, hesitantly, still clutching herself tightly. Maggie’s eyes fly open, locking onto hers like lasers. Alex’s voice is barely a whisper, hoarse and raw and jagged. “I had this book of Shel Silverstein poems, and my dad would read them to me before bed.” Maggie makes a choking sound and her hands twitch, like she wants to reach out to Alex but she stops herself. She wraps her arms around herself instead, holding tight to her ribs, mirroring Alex.
“And my favorite,” Alex says haltingly, “my favorite poem was…”
“Say it,” Maggie begs. “I need to hear you say it.”
“My favorite was about the boa constrictor.”
And there’s a long silence, an earth-shattering silence.
Then Maggie drops her head, heavily, down into her hands. She lets out a long, loud, shuddering breath. “Jesus christ, Danvers,” she whispers feelingly, her voice a map of exhaustion and passion and relief. She makes a little choking sound. “Jesus fucking christ.”
And Alex doesn’t know what to say, or what to do. She just stands there, holding onto herself, watching Maggie hold onto herself. She’s getting scared, this wasn’t quite the response she’d been primed to expect from the Kate Hudson movies she’d grown up with. She doesn’t know if Maggie regrets it, or isn’t happy, or doesn’t want her back, or if she’s somehow already messed this up.
So she does what she always does. She falls back on the science. “Did you—“ She swallows heavily, “did you know that boa constrictors can grow to be thirteen feet long?” Maggie looks up at her, tears coating her cheeks and her eyes, her hands hovering uselessly above her torso. “And that they—they can swim? And they give birth to live babies? Like mammals?”
Maggie’s voice cracks as she chokes it out. “Fuck, Alex.” She reaches up and angrily swipes at her tears. “I’ve been waiting for you for so fucking long.”
And Alex has been waiting for her, too, but she hasn’t been waiting to stand like this, staring and afraid. And Alex has always been brave and has always been bold and has always been the type to let her body do the talking.
So she steps forward, releasing her own iron grip on her ribs to reach out and pull Maggie into her.
Maggie lets out a little sob into her neck.
“Too long, Mags,” Alex breathes into her ear. “I’ve been waiting too long for you, too. But I’m here now.”
They stand in that hug for a long time. It takes Maggie minutes just to stop hugging herself, to let her arms come around Alex.
Nothing has ever felt like this. Alex hasn’t ever even imagined anything remotely close to this. She’s hugged a lot of people in her life, but nothing has ever felt this safe or this secure or this soft or this firm or this perfect, or smelled so good or felt so wonderful.
And her mind is flying, and she’s thinking the most absurd things, and her heartbeat is going like a hummingbird’s, and she hopes Kara doesn’t come crashing through the window if she’s listening for it.
And Maggie is hers.
Maggie is hers.
And, god, is she Maggie’s.
Without letting go of Maggie, Alex starts to whisper what she’s thinking.
“I can’t believe it’s you,” she whispers.
Her mouth moves against Maggie’s hair. “I didn’t know it could feel like this.”
She dips her own head lower, trying to wrap her entire self around Maggie. “I can’t believe I get to be yours.”
Maggie shudders in Alex’s arms. Alex just holds her tighter.
Maggie hasn’t said anything in a long time, but, finally, she whispers back, the words dulled by Alex’s chest. “I’ve always been yours,” Maggie whispers, her lips just brushing Alex’s skin. “I’ve always.”
From deep inside the hug, several long moments later, Maggie insists that they take this slowly. That she has to leave, it’s too late, they’re too emotional, they need time to think and process, but she’ll come back tomorrow and they’ll talk more and maybe spend some time just being together.
And Alex is nodding but she isn’t releasing her grip on Maggie’s back because holding Maggie makes her feel whole in ways she hasn’t since she was a small child.
But then Maggie is pulling away, and Alex’s hands are slipping from her back to her waist. Maggie’s travel up to her shoulders. “It’s important to me that we go slow,” Maggie says again, “that we do this right.” She swallows, and reaches up to tuck Alex’s hair behind her ear. Her face is still scared, still vulnerable, still unsure. And her voice is still shaking a little but her words are firm. “But life is too short, and I have waited thirty-one fucking years for this, Ally, and I can’t wait another single minute to know what it’s like to kiss you.” She takes a beat, searching Alex’s face, and her face flickers into a tiny shy scared little smile. “I wanna go slow, we’re gonna go slow, but I just…I want to kiss you.”
And Alex nods, as fast and as hard as she can, because yes.
And Maggie cups her face with both hands and gently pulls her in and softly kisses her for a long moment. And Maggie’s thumb is on her cheek and her fingers are gliding down her neck and her lips are soft and smooth and loving and Alex’s entire body feels like it’s filling up with honey – golden and soft and warm and glowing. The kiss is smooth and warm and tender and Maggie’s lips are like nothing Alex has ever imagined. Maggie’s mouth is open and velvety and instead of ending the kiss, Maggie comes back for more, and Alex fleetingly wonders if she’s going to die from happiness.
Maggie is gentle and firm and smells amazing and she’s pulling Alex into herself with hands and lips like she can’t get enough and Alex just wants to dissolve into her.
It’s the best thing she’s ever felt in her entire life.
After a long moment Maggie pulls away, but Alex stops her, squeezing her bicep to hold her close. Maggie looks right into her eyes, and Alex is open and adoring and completely disbelieving that this incredible thing is happening to her.
Alex can still taste Maggie on her lips.
“My beautiful girl,” Alex whispers, before running her fingers through Maggie’s hair, and pulling her back in for another kiss.
Chapter 9: Soulmates and Sisters
Another two chapters here, then we start over again with the Maggie companion piece. This universe will finish off with a one-shot collection. Feel free to send ideas, prompts, and questions for one-shots to my tumblr (same username) or leave them in the comments here.
Hope you like this one! Let me know what you think.
Maggie does come over the next day. She brings lunch, and Alex barely slept and put body wash in her hair instead of shampoo twice but she’s never felt so good, so alive, so ready for anything.
Alex hugs her the second she walks in the door, and the second Maggie’s in her arms she feels centered and calm. It’s like her body has been frantically buzzing since the instant she’d let go of Maggie last night, and it’s only quieted and calmed now that she’s back under her hands.
Alex wonders if that’s permanent, but is pretty sure she wouldn’t mind if it were.
They finally manage to let go and they eat lunch and they talk, sitting on the couch, alternating between eating their burritos and holding hands.
After they eat, her life starts tumbling out of her mouth. Alex tells Maggie about Kara coming to live with them (the edited version), and about Jeremiah (the edited version) and about how her mom changed. She tells her about Party Girl Alex and academic probation and about how Hank saved her, and about how she found herself at the DEO, and she apologizes for all of bruised ribs she Resonated to Maggie these past couple of years, offering to make it up to her somehow.
She asks Maggie about her childhood, because Maggie’s never mentioned it much.
Maggie takes a moment and it seems like she’s deciding something, and her hands twitch a little, but she takes a deep breath, and she answers.
She tells Alex about growing up in Blue Springs, Nebraska, a tiny farming community an hour south of Lincoln. About her parents. About her two older brothers. About being the only non-white kid in school.
About realizing she was the only non-straight kid.
She tells her about falling for her best friend when she was fourteen, a tall blonde girl named Eliza Wilke. She tells her about how they played soccer together and how they snuck cigarettes down in Eliza’s basement. She tells her about how she’d realized that was she felt for Eliza was different. She tells her that, on Valentine’s Day, she’d left a note in Eliza’s locker confessing her feelings.
Alex remembers the Resonance, and she’s crying before Maggie even tells her what happened.
But it’s even worse that she imagined.
Maggie tells her about coming home that night for what turned out to be the very last time. She tells her that her parents were disgusted by her, that they kicked her out, that they disowned her, that they didn’t even let her pack.
She tells her that she went to live with her aunt for the rest of high school. She tells her, in as few words as possible, what it was like to have to go back to that tiny high school every day until graduation.
Alex tries to control herself, managing not to call Kara to fly her to Nebraska to commit murder, but rather to gently take Maggie’s face in her hands. “You didn’t deserve that,” she says, but it’s more than that. No person would deserve that, but Maggie is so much better than just anyone. She tries again. “You’re perfect, Mags, just like this. You’re perfect. You couldn’t possibly be better.”
And it’s all true, but it’s not everything. What happened to Maggie should have emotionally crippled her. It should have broken her. But this person – this beautiful, perfect person – has been nothing but kind and gentle and tender and soft with her. Her own family treated her like trash and she has never treated Alex like anything other than a precious gift. “You’re the strongest person I’ve ever met,” she says, because it’s the truest thing she can say. “You’re the most incredible, the most exquisite person I’ve ever met.”
But then she thinks about the word “abomination,” and she hears herself swearing to rip off Maggie’s parents’ heads with her bare hands.
They take a moment, just pressing close together, before Maggie pulls away a little. She wipes her face, and she keeps going, clearly not ready to dwell on it. Alex lets her, but keeps a hand on her, gently reminder her that she isn’t alone anymore.
Maggie gives Alex only the broad strokes of the next years of her life. She mentions getting to college and finally meeting other gay people, other brown people, even other gay brown people. Maggie apologizes to Alex for all the sex she’d Resonated over the years, and oh, Alex hadn’t gotten around to thinking about the sex yet.
But now she can’t help but wonder what sex with Maggie would be like. If it would be as disappointing as sex has always been, or if, just maybe, it wasn’t sex that was the problem, and it wasn’t her that was the problem, but it was men who’d always been the problem.
Kissing Maggie last night was, without a doubt, the most intensely pleasurable physical experience of her life.
Alex can’t help the blush that floods her face just at the though of what more with Maggie could be like.
Maggie, thankfully, doesn’t mention the blush. She keeps going, haltingly bringing up a girlfriend, Emily, who she was with for a long time. She doesn’t give Alex the details, just that they were together for almost five years and it was the longest and most intense relationship Maggie’s ever had.
Alex remembers her Resonances, and she asks if Maggie had cheated on her at the end.
Maggie hesitates, and equivocates, and stutters, but eventually says yes. And she’s clearly afraid to say it, afraid Alex will hate her for it or judge her for something that happened so long ago.
But Alex isn’t a saint. She’s killed, she’s betrayed, she’s lied, she’s made a lot of questionable sex decisions.
So Alex just tells her, reaching out for her face again, stroking the hair at her temple with a soft thumb, that she understands. She tells her that Maggie isn’t a bad person. She says that she’s here to help Maggie heal from everything the world did to her before Alex was there to stand between Maggie and danger, Maggie and heartbreak.
She tells her the most true thing she knows. That Maggie is safe now, with her.
They have to take a little break after that, for snacks and for TV, because it’s heavy. But they do keep going, later. Maggie tells her about how fucking good it felt to get into the police academy, and then to graduate at the top of her class, and then to be promoted to detective, and then to finally get the transfer to the highly coveted science division. She tells her about how she got stabbed when was 26, and Alex lays into her about not taking her pain medication in a timely manner, and Maggie looks so guilty that Alex can’t help but kiss her.
But after another break, the conversation turns to the Revelations, and after a while Alex stops it.
“Mag, I want to talk about the sixth, I do. But it…when we do, Kara needs to be there too.”
“Yeah. It’s…okay,” Alex takes a breath and launches into the explanation she’s given so many times, practiced so many times, that it’s nearly second nature. “The best way to explain it is that Kara was raised in a really different culture. Like, imagine she was Amish – like, really different. She grew up in this insular community where no one had soulmates. No Revelations, nothing. And it was really, uh, closed, I guess, so she didn’t even know about them. And then there was an accident and Kara was one of the only survivors. So she came to live with us, and she’d never even heard of soulmates. And she was so sad that she didn’t have one, so I told her that she could share mine. So she was there with me for the sixth and for the seventh, and she’s just…she’s part of this.” Alex squeezes Maggie’s hand. “Not like, romantically, obviously, but…” She swallows. She hopes this is okay. “She thought of you as her future big brother – uh, sorry, for thinking you were a guy for 29 years, by the way…”
Maggie grins at her, full dimple. “No problem.”
“So…just, I need her to be here, when we talk about it.”
And Alex is keyed up, and nervous and worried, but Maggie just keeps smiling. “Okay, Danvers,” she says, her eyes full of affection. “Set it up.”
And Alex knows they’re going slow, but she can’t stop herself from leaning over and kissing Maggie, just for a minute.
By the time Maggie leaves, they’ve been holding hands for hours and have kissed more than ten times and Alex only has only cried twice. And Maggie has looked right into her eyes and called her beautiful and Alex has told her how happy she is at least four times, and it’s starting to seem like Maggie may be, against her better judgment, starting to believe her.
Alex could tell, after just a few moments, that Maggie isn’t comfortable talking about herself. That she’s guarded, that she’s scared, that she has trust issues, that she’s been hurt, that she doesn’t think she deserves to be happy. And Alex still kind of can’t believe that Maggie wants her, that being with her could make Maggie happy, but Maggie deserves literally every good thing in the world. If, for some baffling reason, she wants Alex, well. She’d better believe that she has her.
Alex is proud that Maggie doesn’t run, that she doesn’t bolt, that she doesn’t shut down. That she keeps looking into Alex’s eyes, and that, even when her hands shake, she keeps them inside of Alex’s.
She’s is beyond honored because Maggie is clearly terrified but she’s pushing through it for Alex. For the both of them. For a relationship, together.
But she doesn’t quite understand the stakes for Maggie until she’s getting ready to go.
“I’m scared of this,” she finally admits to Alex in the smallest voice, toying with her sleeves, standing by the door, about to leave, not making eye contact. “Because no one’s ever loved me as much as I loved them.”
And Alex is pretty sure that Maggie had expected that to scare her off, but she just nods. “Me neither,” she says simply. “But Maggie,” she reaches over and lifts Maggie’s chin with one gentle finger. “You don’t have to be guarded with me,” she says. “I’m here. I’m here to help you heal, I’m here to put you first. I’m just…” She swallows and makes a choked little laughing sound as how much she already loves Maggie washes over her. “I know – I know I’m new to relationships, and to women, but…Maggie, I…” she has to stop to take a breath, because she feels so much it’s completely ridiculous and words have never been less adequate.
She ends up saying what might be the understatement of the century. “I just…I don’t think you need to worry about that, with me, Mags.”
And Maggie gives her a watery little smile before stepping into her and holding her, hard, for a long moment before leaving.
So it was, basically, the best afternoon of Alex’s life.
She’s called into work that night, but she’s flying so high that she doesn’t mind.
She knows she’s beaming, visibly happy, and she tries to put a damper on it but she just can’t. She wonders if everyone can tell, but she can’t quite find it in herself to care.
Kara swoops in, her cape billowing behind her. Her eyes are shining with accomplishment and satisfaction, and Alex walks over to give her a quick hug. She knows that Kara’s indestructible, that the likelihood of her getting hurt on these routine rounds is low, but she likes to check Kara over herself when she can. She still worries.
But Kara grabs her, lifts her off her feet, and literally flies them into the training room, slamming the door shut behind them.
“Kara, what the fuck—“
But Kara doesn’t let her finish. “ALEX!” Her voice is loud and high and she’s nearly yelling. “I’VE BEEN CALLING AND CALLING, where have you BEEN?”
Oh. Right. Kara was there when Maggie said “sharks,” and Alex hasn’t talked to her since.
But Kara doesn’t wait for her to answer. She grabs Alex by the arms and shakes her. “Alex! Maggie is totally your soulmate! What are you going to do? When are you going to tell her? Oh my god, I’m freaking out! Do you think she knows? Will you propose? What are you going to wear? Oh my god,” she covers her mouth with her hands, completely overcome. “You’re going to kiss!”
And Alex laughs, because Kara is so fucking cute she can barely stand it.
And also because thinking about kissing, about kissing Maggie, just makes her so completely giddy.
But Kara misinterprets the laugh and she sputters. “Stop it! It’s not funny, Alex, she’s your soulmate! You can’t deny it, she IS.” She grabs Alex’s arms again, shaking her harder. “The sharks, Alex!”
“Okay, okay,” Alex says, holding up her hands to try to get the shaking to stop. “Try not to make my brain into a smoothie, okay, Kar?”
Kara drops her hands guiltily. “Sorry. I’m just excited.”
“I know. But I need you to calm down for a second.” Alex tries to make her voice a little serious, because Kara is terrible at listening when she’s like this.
But she may have overcompensated, because Kara’s eyes fill with tears. “What’s going on?”
Alex reaches out quickly. “No, no, nothing bad. I just…I need you to start at a calm baseline, cause if you’re this excited before I tell you, then after I tell you, you might shatter all the glass in the building like that one time you saw all those puppies napping together.”
“Oh my god,” Kara says, closing her eyes in pure bliss at the memory. “They were all in a piiiiiiiiile, Alex, so sleepy and fuzzy and small!”
And Alex laughs, even though she hadn’t been able to buy a new microscope because of how expensive those infrastructure damages had been to replace.
But then Kara’s eyes snap open. “Wait, wait, you said ‘before you tell me.’ Before you tell me what?” And then she gets it, and she nearly screams. “OH MY GOD, ALEX.”
And Alex just grins.
“OH MY GOD, ALEX.”
“Oh my god, Kara,” Alex says, but she’s grinning and she’s nodding and she’s trying not to cry but she really can’t care about that too much right now.
And Kara launches herself at Alex and the force of her hug pulls both of them up into the air. And Alex is laughing and Kara is squealing and it takes her over a minute to lower them back down to the ground.
Kara finally pulls back just enough to be able to look at Alex’s face. “Wait, okay, so you told her?”
Alex nods. “Well, actually, she told me.”
Kara’s eyes fly wide. “WHAT. Oh my god, tell me everything.” But then her eyes flash with something else. “Hold that thought,” she says, and superspeeds her way out of the room.
She’s back two seconds later with an honest-to-god couch and a huge bucket of popcorn, setting both of them down right in the middle of the sparring floor, creating an impromptu living room. She yanks Alex down onto the couch with her, pulls the popcorn onto her lap, and shoves a handful in her mouth. “Okay, I’m ready,” she says with a grand gesture, her cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk.
And Alex doesn’t even have it in herself to be surprised anymore.
“Okay, well, so she was waiting for me when I got back from the satellite problem last night.” Kara squeals, and Alex gives her a look and a waggles a warning finger at her. “If you shatter the windows again, you’re replacing them out of your own pocket,” she warns.
Kara just rolls her eyes. “Keep goingggggg.”
“She…she said,” Alex can feel it all bubbling up in her again, and she can barely talk. “She said she knew that it was me, that I was…hers.” Kara squeals again. “And she just, she listed all of her Revelations, Kara, and it was just…the most intense thing I’ve ever felt, hearing her say all of them. It – all of her Revelations, Kara, they were…they were about me.” Kara grabs her hand with her own (buttery) one. “And she remembered all of them, and just…” Alex sighs, pretty overcome. “She asked me what my animal was. She said she knew it was me but she needed to hear me say it.”
Kara isn’t even breathing. “Oh my god,” she whispers.
And Alex doesn’t know how to say the next part, so she just shrugs a little. “And I told her, and she…I don’t know. She just stood there for a minute and I was worried for a second that like, that it wasn’t the right one, you know? That I’d already messed it up, which is crazy cause she knew all the rest of them, but, obviously it was right, and she was just…I just…god.” Alex tries to pull herself together, to remember that she’s fluent in multiple languages, but right now she can’t communicate in any of them. “Anyway, I just can’t believe it’s real. That’s she’s…” Alex lets out a breath, slow and shaky. It’s all so overwhelming, but in the best way.
“That she’s what?”
“Mine,” Alex whispers. “That she’s the one I get to have. I just…” She smiles and gives a little laugh, shaking her head at herself. “She’s so good, you know? Better than I ever imagined.”
And Kara nods because she knows, because she knows that Alex gave up on this a long time ago, the day they thought Jeremiah died, and hasn’t believed in her own happy ending since.
And Kara can’t help it, she’s trying to be supportive but she can’t keep it inside anymore. She squeals again. “Aleeeeeeex what else, what else happened, oh my god, did she propose?” Kara gasps a little. “Did you kiss?”
Alex shakes her head. “No one is proposing, Kar, jesus. We said we’re going to take it slow.”
“What does that mean? She’s your soulmate.”
And Alex can’t bring herself to worry if how much she beams at that sentence is embarrassing. “It means, we’re going to take each other on dates, and get to know each other. She came over this afternoon and stayed for like, four hours. It was amazing.”
Kara covers her mouth with her hands and tries to muffle her excited sounds.
“But we did kiss.”
Kara literally shrieks, and Alex winces, listening for the sound of glass breaking outside the room.
Alex just grins at her.
Kara’s eyes are wide and thrilled and amazed. “How was it,” she whispers reverently.
And Alex can’t even find the words. She lets her face show everything that she’s feeling –she grins and her eyes sparkle and the sun is practically bursting out of her face, and Kara just launches herself at Alex again, squeezing her to within an inch of her life.
From inside the hug, Kara asks what might the most obvious question in the world. “I think I know the answer to this, because you definitely look like you’ve been shot with a love ray, but I have to ask. You’re happy?”
Alex pulls back and nods and lets out a little puff of a laugh. “Yeah, I am. I’m…I can’t even believe it, Kara. I’ve never felt anything like this, not ever. I’m so…” she laughs again, so happy she can’t even say it. “I don’t even—I just like her so much, you know? She’s so…smart, and she’s tough, and she’s just…”
“Just what?” Kara asks gently, her eyes loving and soft.
“Just, beautiful. She’s so beautiful.”
“So are you.” Kara’s beaming as she wipes her greasy fingers on Alex’s hair. “So are you.”
Chapter 10: The Danvers Sisters vs. The Abomination
It’s almost a week before the three of them can get together to talk about the sixth Revelation. Work has been intense for all of them, so Alex has only seen Maggie once since that first afternoon together. They’d gone on their first official date, and it had been, without a doubt, the best date of Alex’s life.
But it’s been four days since the date. Four days since Alex has been able to see her.
The withdrawal has been killing her.
They go to a bar for the conversation with Kara. Not the alien bar, because Alex doesn’t quite know how to tell Maggie that Kara would be more comfortable there than anywhere else, but back to Noonan’s.
Alex gets there a couple minutes early, and sees Kara already there, sitting in a booth in the back corner. Alex waves, stops at the bar to order a whiskey for herself and for Maggie, and then heads over.
“Did you bring them?” Kara asks immediately as Alex sits down across from her.
“Hello to you too, my darling sister.”
Kara rolls her eyes. “Aleeeeex.”
Alex laughs. “Yes, I brought them.”
“Did you open them?”
“What! Of course not!”
Kara shifts a little bit in her seat. “Do you remember what you wrote?”
Alex shrugs. “The broad strokes, yeah. I don’t think you’re an abomination, blah blah. But not the details.” She narrows her eyes at Kara. “Do you remember?”
Kara shrugs. “Not really, that’s what’s making me nervous.” She leans forward on the table and lowers her voice to a whisper. “What if I said I was an alien?”
Alex narrows her eyes further, leaning forward to match Kara’s posture. “Did you?”
“I don’t remember, Alex, I just said that. But I was really new to Earth, so…I don’t know. It’s possible.”
Alex sighs heavily, leaning back in the booth and toying with her glass of whiskey. “We’ll put out that fire when we get to it, okay?”
Kara nods, a small grimace on her face.
Maggie comes in then, striding toward their booth in the back like she isn’t nervous at all. Both Danvers women pop up to greet her. Alex takes hold of her arm and kisses her on the cheek. “Hi,” she says softly.
“Hey beautiful,” Maggie says, smiling right into her eyes.
Maggie turns her attention to Kara. “Hey Ka—“ She’s cut off by the force of a Kryptonian body slamming her into a hug. “Oof.” Maggie staggers backwards a step, but Alex catches her and Kara was never going to actually let her fall.
Kara squeezes her to within an inch of a cracked rib before pulling back and beaming. “I’m so happy it’s you, Maggie!”
Maggie dimples at her and starts to respond, but Kara keeps going, still with the same huge grin on her face and happy tone. “If you even think about hurting Alex, I will actually murder you with my bare hands!” Without even a beat, she pulls Maggie back in, squeezing her again. “Eeeee! I’m so excited!!”
And Maggie looks at Alex, her wide eyes asking if Kara’s excited that they’re soulmates or about murdering her with her bare hands.
Alex takes pity on her and pries Kara off her tiny body. “Kara, if you suffocate her I’m going to be very upset with you.”
And Kara nods and apologizes and sits down on her side of the booth, and Maggie and Alex settle into the other side and Kara uses her x-ray vision to see that Maggie immediately finds Alex’s hand under the table and squeezes it, and she can’t stop her little squeal.
They chat for a little while, Maggie asking Kara about work and Alex about her day, and no one is drinking quickly, so they’re only about halfway through their drinks when Maggie takes a deep breath.
“So,” she says, clearly nervous. “You guys wanted to talk about the sixth, right?”
Alex nods, and Kara immediately shifts to looking more like a puppy.
“Only if you want,” Kara says softly.
Maggie nods. “Sure, yeah. Let’s do it.”
Alex clears her throat a little. She’s pulled something out of her bag, and Kara immediately recognizes it at her Revelations Journal. “We, um, well. Okay. So, Kara came to our family between my fifth and sixth Revelation,” Alex says softly, “and I told you the other night, that she was raised differently and she didn’t know about soulmates.” Maggie nods. “So she was there with me, the morning of the sixth. And it…” Alex swallows, hard.
She doesn’t know how she’s going to get through this. It’s worse now, so much worse. It was bad when her soulmate was a nameless faceless might-be, some boy she might never meet, who was thought to be an abomination. But now? Now that it’s Maggie? The sweet, loving, gentle, kind, brilliant, tough, beautiful girl next to her, with the soft eyes and the huge heart? Now that she knows that Maggie’s parents thought she was an abomination, that when they thought about Maggie they thought abomination – that’s nearly impossible to bear.
Alex just loves her so much.
“It said abomination,” Maggie says softly, and Alex trembles with rage. That’s not a word that should ever have to come out of Maggie’s mouth.
Kara comes to her rescue. “We were really upset,” she says softly. “We were scared for you, to be living in that type of environment, where they thought that about you. We were worried about you, and we didn’t want you to feel alone.”
Alex nods, reaching up to brush her tears away. She wasn’t even the one who lived through it, she feels ridiculous being the one crying. This soulmate thing is no joke.
“It was Kara’s idea,” she says, “to write you letters that morning.”
Maggie furrows her eyebrows. “Letters?”
“We wanted you to know how we felt – that we knew you weren’t…that.” Kara can’t even bring herself to say it.
“Even though you wouldn’t know it then,” Alex says softly, reaching over to tuck Maggie’s hair behind her ear, “We wanted you to know. That we cared about you and we were on your side. Both of us.”
Maggie blinks back tears as her eyes dart to the journal in front of Alex. She detects. “And you…you still have them? The letters?”
Alex nods. “They’re for you. You can read them now, or later, or never, whatever you want. Or we could read them to you, if you want, or whatever.”
Maggie cuts off her rambling. “I can’t…” She takes a deep breath, absently noticing that her hands are shaking. “No one’s ever done anything like that for me before.”
“Sure we have.” Kara’s voice is gentle and tender. “You just didn’t know we were doing it.”
And Maggie clearly takes a minute to let that settle.
“Your whole life,” Alex says softly, “I’ve cared about you.” She pauses for a moment, and then she says something that’s probably completely obvious, but something about Maggie’s face makes her want to say it. “I’ve never believed it, not for a second. I’ve just cared about you.”
Maggie’s little body shakes with one silent sob, and she buries herself in Alex’s neck for a minute, clearly trying to pull herself together. Kara reaches out a hand across the table and Alex takes it, anchoring herself to both of her girls.
After a moment, Maggie unburies her head and straightens some of the way up, still leaning into Alex’s body but no longer hiding. “I’d like you to read them to me,” she says softly, reaching with one hand to toy with the hem of Alex’s shirt.
Kara nods, and Alex kisses Maggie’s head. “You sure?” She asks softly. Maggie nods.
Kara and Alex exchange a quick look. “Me first?” Kara asks. Alex nods, and opens the journal to the right page, and pulls out an envelope.
It says “To Alex’s Soulmate, From Kara” in messy childish handwriting.
Maggie tucks herself more comfortably into Alex’s side, letting Alex’s arm fold securely over her shoulders and pull her close.
Kara opens the envelope gently. “I’d like to apologize in advance,” she says wryly, “for anything weird I might have put in this letter. I was new to Alex’s family, and stuff, so, I make no promises about what’s in here.”
Kara pulls the paper out – wide ruled lined paper, three hole punched, meticulously folded. She clears her throat, and starts to read.
Dear Alex’s Soulmate/my future big brother, I guess?,
We learned in school how to write letters, but I already messed it up, cause I didn’t put my address up at the top. This is from Kara, okay? Alex’s sister.
“Wow,” Kara says, looking up from the paper. “Great start, here, young Kara. Definitely reporter material.” Alex and Maggie both chuckle before Kara looks back down and keeps reading.
Today is Alex’s fifteenth birthday, so it’s her sixth Revelation. But for me, it’s my first Revelation, even though I’m 13 years old. Because I don’t have a soulmate and Alex’s family adopted me last year so it’s my first time seeing a Revelation. And Alex promised me that I could share you with her, that you’d be like my big brother. [“Sorry,” Kara mutters, looking up at Maggie. Maggie smiles at her, knocking her head against Alex’s softly.] Because I don’t have my own soulmate. The reason for that is complicated but it’s also a secret so I won’t write it down here.
Alex snorts, but Maggie doesn’t ask. “Sorry,” Kara says lightly, trying to move past it, “I didn’t realize how much of this was about me! Whoops.” Her eyes scan down the page. “Oh, okay, here we go.”
The important thing is that you know that we don’t think you’re an abomination. (I had to check Alex’s arm to make sure I spelled that right). [“I also underlined that twice, okay, I think thirteen-year-old me would want you to know that.”] I know that’s the word on her arm, but it’s not true. We know that your family are idiots for thinking that about you. Even though I haven’t met you, I know Alex, and she’s so good to me and so wonderful and smart and thoughtful and generous, that there’s NO WAY her soulmate would be a bad person.
“Oh my god, Kara,” Alex mutters, blushing.
“All true,” Maggie murmurs to her.
And Kara, of course, heard her. “Cheers,” she says, holding her glass out to Maggie. They clink before Kara turns back to her pages.
People think bad things about me too, big brother, [“again, sorry,”] but they just don’t understand who I really am, or what I’ve been through, or what it’s like to be me. I bet it’s the same for you.
But you don’t have to listen to them, and you don’t have to be alone or scared or sad. Because you’re going to love Alex when you meet her. I do, a lot. Alex didn’t have to love me (I’m adopted, which I sort of mentioned before) but she LOVES ME, [“also underlined AND capitalized,”] just like a real sister (she’d be mad at me for saying “real sister” because she says that we’re as real as it gets). [Alex rolls her eyes and makes a little pfft sound, but both Kara and Maggie saw her tense at “real sister” so they just exchange a cute little look before Kara moves on.] She knows what everyone says about me, all the reasons she shouldn’t love me, but she does anyway.
And she’s gonna love you too. And me too, I’m gonna love you. I’ve never had a big brother before, not in any of my families.
“No regrets though,” Kara says, looking right into Maggie’s eyes. Maggie nods. She understands, she really does.
Kara scans the next line, and laughs. “Oh my god, this is about to get so embarrassing.”
Alex grins at her. “I’m ready.”
I’m really excited to meet you. I’m sorry your family is poopy. [That startles a laugh out of both Alex and Maggie.] There’s nothing wrong with being different.
I know I’m supposed to end a letter with “sincerely” or “cordially” but I don’t like that so I’m going to end it differently. [“Oh my god, Kara,” Alex mutters.]
El Mayarah (that means Stronger Together and it’s kind of like my motto),
Your New Little Sister
Kara folds it back up, putting it back in the envelope and handing it to Maggie. She shrugs a little. “Not sure that was worth waiting fifteen years for, sorry.”
But Maggie is standing up and coming over to Kara’s side and sitting down next to her and wrapping her arms around her.
“That was worth waiting a lifetime for,” she says softly.
Kara hugs her tightly, rubbing one hand up and down her back.
“Look,” she says softly, when she can feel Maggie starting to pull away. “Alex told me the general idea of what your parents did to you when you were a kid. And I know it’s not the same at all, but I lost my parents too. And I learned recently that what happened to them, to everyone I knew, was partly their fault. I’ve learned that they weren’t…totally good people. And it’s been really hard, to miss them and mourn them, and also know how ruthless they were and what they were capable of.” Maggie’s crying now, so Kara finishes as gently as she can. “So if you ever want to talk about anything like that, I’m here for you, okay? We don’t even have to invite Alex. We can eat all the good pity-party pizza without her.”
And Kara grins at Maggie, and Maggie grins back through her sniffles, and Alex tosses a napkin at her sister but she’s so unbelievably grateful. Kara is the best sister in the galaxy.
“You’re gonna be a really great little sister, aren’t you?” Maggie asks her, giving up and letting her tears come.
Kara nods and holds up her left hand, palm outward, in front of her chest, her face serious. “I solemnly swear to eat all of your food, take and save bad pictures of you, and never let you forget anything embarrassing you ever do in front of me, cross my heart and hope to die.” She holds her serious face and pose for a beat before cracking, grinning and winking. “The little sister pledge, you know.”
Maggie smiles back at her. “And what’s the big sister pledge?” She asks it softly, and Alex can tell there’s real weight behind it.
“You solemnly swear to hold my hair back if I get sick, and scare away any boys who aren’t good enough for me, and listen to me whine about any and all promotions, before and after I get them. Also snuggle me during thunderstorms.” Kara turns to Alex. “Anything I didn’t mention?”
“Bring her donuts,” Alex adds, her heart swelling painfully in her chest. “For any and all occasions. Also potstickers.”
Maggie nods, face just as serious as Kara’s was. She holds up her own left hand. “I solemnly swear,” she says to Kara. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”
And it’s stupid and it’s clearly not real, but it’s also so completely real. And the two of them hug and Alex’s heart is definitely exploding in slow motion, and she feels relieved for the first time in a long time, and god, this woman just could not be more perfect.
After a couple moments, in which Kara insists on the two of them creating and memorizing a complicated secret handshake (“an addendum to the pledge,” Kara insists, “like the Bill of Rights”), Maggie turns back to Alex.
“Okay, Danvers,” she says, her voice steady. “Your turn.”
“Well,” Alex says, trying to cover her nerves. “I can’t promise that mine will have the word poopy in it, but…”
They all laugh.
Alex takes a beat, waiting for Maggie to come back to this side, but she stays where she is, nestled into Kara’s side.
Alex slowly opens her envelope, the one that just says “M” on it, takes a deep breath, unfolds her paper (which is graph paper, not normal lined paper, because apparently fifteen year old Alex was an enormous nerd), and starts to read.
I don’t really know what to write. It’s weird knowing that you won’t see this until we’re older. I wonder when we’ll meet. I hope we do, one day. I’d really like to meet you.
“Nailed it,” Maggie murmurs. Kara chuckles and squeezes her even tighter.
Today is my sixth Revelation. I think you probably know what it said on my arm. I won’t even write it here, because it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter what other people think about you. It doesn’t matter because they’re wrong.
I don’t know what happened to make them think that about you. I don’t know if it’s related to what I felt when I was 12, in February, or what. [Alex looks up at Maggie and just holds her eyes for a moment before going on.] But I know that, no matter what happened, you’re not a bad person. You’re not sinful or hateful or disgusting or anything like that.
My favorite subject is science, and my mom says that scientists never jump to conclusions (she and my dad are both scientists) but for some reason this doesn’t feel like jumping to a conclusion. This doesn’t feel like a hypothesis or a guess. It feels true, like something I know. You’re not all those bad things. I don’t know how I know, but I know.
“Oh my god,” Kara whispers loud enough for Alex to hear. “I had no idea where she was going with that but it’s so cuuuute.”
Even if it doesn’t work out between us, even if we meet and then we don’t get married or stay together forever or if you don’t want to be with me, I want to you know that I have really liked being your soulmate so far. I really care about you, and that hasn’t changed, and it won’t change no matter what.
“Alex,” Maggie breathes. “Sweetheart.”
Alex looks up at her and gives what she hopes is a grin but worries is a grimace. “Always a realist,” she says, trying to keep her tone light.
Maggie gets up and walks back over, settling herself next to Alex again. “This is real,” she says softly, taking Alex’s hand in her own and squeezing it.
Alex swallows back tears and nods, a little jerkily. She’s just trying to keep it together for the rest of the letter.
Maggie squeezes her hand again, and Alex takes that as permission to keep going.
My sister says that your family are idiots for thinking this about you. I think she’s right. She’s really different from everyone else, but I think that makes her wonderful and special and I love her for it.
“She’s talking about me,” Kara stage-whispers, just to make them laugh. It works.
It’s the same for you. I think you’re going to be wonderful.
Please be careful, and stay safe, and I hope you don’t let it get to you too much, although I know how hard that is. When my best friend says mean things about me, it really hurts, so I can’t even imagine what this must feel like for you. But I’m here for you. You’re not alone, M.
Alex stutters. She’s read ahead, she’s read the next line, and she hasn’t said to Maggie yet – it’s true, clearly, but she hasn’t said it – but her fifteen year old self clearly wasn’t as afraid, and she owes it to scared little fourteen year old Maggie to say it. So she does.
I know it’s weird, because I haven’t met you, but I think I love you.
Maggie takes in a sharp breath. Alex doesn’t look over at her.
And I think I love you more now that I’ve had the sixth than I did before.
So even if your family doesn’t love you right, or doesn’t love you enough, well.
I do. And Kara does – that’s my sister.
I wish I could give you a hug that lasted all day. I wish I could show you and tell you how much I care about you today, not just later when we finally meet and you read this letter.
Alex swallows heavily.
I don’t know what love feels like, but I’m pretty sure this is it.
I really can’t wait to meet you. Hurry up, okay?
“Alex,” Maggie says softly.
Alex doesn’t look over at Maggie, busying herself with folding the letter back up, tucking it back into the envelope it’s been waiting in for almost fifteen years.
Alex looks over, the soft word reminding her of how safe and warm and cared for she feels in Maggie’s arms. She belatedly realizes that her face is wet with tears.
So is Maggie’s.
Alex stutters, her breath hitches. She wants to say it, she does, but this doesn’t feel slow, and her heart is slamming around in her body, and she can barely breathe.
“It doesn’t have to mean anything, Alex.”
Alex shakes her head immediately. She wasn’t ready to say it, but she’s not going to deny it. She’s never going to deny this, this most true thing. “No, it…I meant it, then, but I…” She presses her lips together for a second and tries – and fails – to keep her voice from cracking. “I mean it now, too.” She gives in and lets her tears come. “I love you.”
Maggie reaches up and, impossibly softly, brushes the tears from Alex’s cheeks. “Don’t cry, beautiful,” she says softly. “I love you too, you know.”
Alex can barely breathe, but she smiles. “Yeah?”
Maggie grins at her, full dimple, giving her a signature head tilt. “Yeah.”
And Alex pulls her in for a kiss before resting her forehead on Maggie’s and just breathing her in.
Kara, from across the table, squeals so loud that her glass cracks, just a little bit.
Chapter 11: Snakes and Sharks
Hi friends. This is the last chapter of this story, and I just want to say a couple of things.
1) I have been completely and utterly blown away by your response to this work. I put a lot of time and love into it, and I have been beyond honored that so many of you have read it, and commented on it, and talked about it with your friends, and spent your time thinking about it. Honestly, I’ve never experienced anything quite like this and I’m floored and just so, so grateful to you all.
2) This is the final chapter of this story. Next comes the Maggie piece, which will be called Revelations – Sharks (the first chapter will be released later this week). After that will come the series of one-shots which will be called Reverberations. All will be listed under the Series called “Revelations” here on AO3, so adjust your alerts as fits your needs! I know this chapter may feel like not quite the finale here, and that’s because the one-shots are coming! I wanted to structure it this way because I want the one-shots to incorporate what we learn in the Maggie piece, but also (to be perfectly honest) I am not great at making sure I write a whole and robust world after our nuggets finally get together. So I need to hear from you! Please leave either here in the comments, or send me a message or an ask on my tumblr (same username) with scenes you’d like to see. From after this point in time, from just before this point in time (first date, for example), or even holes from earlier in their lives before they meet. I have some things already on my list, but I need you!
But really, just thank you for being on this journey with me. I love you.
Alex is very clear that she’s never been happier.
She has Maggie, and she has Kara, and she has J’onn, and her relationship with her mother is much better than it’s been since Jeremiah disappeared, and she loves her job, and she has friends.
But it’s a lot to balance. It’s a lot to balance, and she doesn’t really have practice doing it. Ever since Kara came crashing into her life, her sister has been her priority. She used to have Kara, and her mom, and her dad, and Vicky, and her other friends, and whatever boy she was letting hang around her just for the optics of it, and her school work, and surfing. But then her dad had disappeared and her mom had turned on her. And then she’d lost Vicky, and then the rest of her friends, and she’d never really replaced them. And then she’d quit surfing when she’d moved inland. And then she’d leaned on the boys but dropped school. And then when J’onn came she’d gotten him and work, but had dropped the boys.
The most she’d juggled for years was Kara, J’onn, and work.
Adding in Kara’s friends hasn’t been too hard, but it means she’s had to learn how to balance alone time with Kara with game nights and group drinks.
Adding in her mom has been hard. Alex still forgets to call her as much as she should.
Her life felt full a few weeks ago, with Kara and her mom and J’onn and work and friends.
And now there’s Maggie.
Maggie, who can’t be more than 5’3 but who takes up a huge amount of space in her heart and her life and her future.
And that’s a good thing – Alex wants her there, wants her to take up all that space and more.
She just doesn’t quite know how to navigate it, that’s all. Suddenly Maggie’s work schedule gets added into the equation with Alex’s and Kara’s. Suddenly the only night Maggie has free all week for a date is Sister Night.
Suddenly, Eliza calls for the first time in three weeks while Alex is sitting on Maggie’s couch for the first time ever, and she completely panics trying to decide if she should answer before it gets kicked to voicemail.
Suddenly James and Winn are texting her to ask why she’s never around anymore, and Vasquez is asking her why she’s missed two knife practices in a row, and J’onn is asking her to rotate out to the desert base for a week to oversee a retrofit.
Alex feels like a child, because this is the type of thing most people learn to do in their teens or early twenties. Most people are done having fights with their sisters about being ignored or passed over by the time they’re nearly thirty.
By this age, most people know how to be in a relationship.
Alex doesn’t, and she’s never been happier, but she’s starting to panic, just a little bit.
Kara goes missing.
Kara was investigating the disappearance of a teenager, and Maggie had put her on the trail of other missing people.
And now Kara is missing.
And Alex is the one who finds the portal, and finds Kara’s clothes in a crumpled heap on the floor.
And Alex is the one who realizes it.
Kara is missing, and she’s on another planet.
Her baby sister isn’t on Earth anymore, and Alex can’t possibly protect her.
They trace the portal, and they figure out that Kara is on a moon that happens to be the hub of the intergalactic slave trade.
And Alex can’t abide by the fact that there even is an intergalactic slave trade. It makes her want to go on killing rampage, but if any of those genocidal maniacs think for one second that they’re going to sell her beautiful little sister into slavery, well.
They will have another fucking thing coming.
But it’s a red sun, J’onn tells her. Her beautiful little sister is powerless.
And Alex should have gone with her, should have been with her.
But she didn’t. She isn’t. Because she was with Maggie.
Because last night she and Maggie had graduated from slow to not slow, and they had spent all night exploring each other’s bodies, and Alex has never been as physically present and as embodied and as happy and as satisfied and as insatiable as she was last night, with Maggie’s body right there and Maggie’s hands everywhere and, just in case she’d still had an inkling of doubt, oh, she’s definitely gay.
Because last night and this morning she had bailed on Kara to be with Maggie. To spend the night and the morning with Maggie. And she had called out of work and she hadn’t come in until after lunch because she’d been with Maggie. Again and again.
And she’d never been as happy as this morning, not ever. And Maggie – standing in the bright sunshine in Alex’s kitchen, dimpling harder than Alex had ever seen before – had told her to get used to it. But she shouldn’t have.
She shouldn’t have, because in that one moment, she had traded her sister for her soulmate.
Kara is missing, and alone, and powerless. Off-world.
And it’s Alex’s fault.
So Alex shuts down everything that isn’t Kara. She ignores her phone, she forgets about hunger, she dismisses Winn’s problems, and she focuses on getting herself to that moon. To her sister.
And Maggie comes to visit her at work, and Alex wishes she could be fucking happy to see her, but her overwhelming guilt just means that Maggie’s face only reminds her of what she traded. Of the cost she’s paying to have Maggie in her life. Of the knowledge that she might just have to decide between the two of them. Right now.
And Maggie is her soulmate, the love of her life, and last night was one of the best things to ever happen to Alex, but Kara is her baby sister.
Alex tells her that Supergirl is missing, but her heart is screaming that her baby sister, her baby sister, is going to be killed or sold or dismembered and it’s Alex’s fault.
And Maggie is looking up at her with such sweet confidence, such affection, telling her “If anyone can find her it’s you,” with that tender dimpled smile, and Alex wants to throw up.
“I knew this was going to happen. I knew it.”
Maggie’s confused, clearly, her dimples are falling away and she’s knitting her eyebrows and tilting her head a little. “What are you talking about?”
But Alex can’t answer that question. She’s complicit in her baby sister’s death or enslavement, and it’s her fault, and it’s happening because she shoved Kara to the side to make room for Maggie. “I was happy for like five minutes,” she hears herself say.
And Maggie doesn’t know what’s happening in Alex’s head, but she’s a good detective, so she can clearly tell that something’s seriously wrong. All she says is, “What?” but her tone is more hurt than Alex has ever heard from her.
And Alex wants to say I love you but my sister is missing and she wants to say I don’t know how to make space for both of you and she wants to say Please hold onto me, I’m disintegrating and she wants to say I won’t be able to breathe until she’s back and she wants to say Tell me this isn’t a punishment for being so happy with you last night. But instead she hears herself ask Maggie to leave. To give her space. To let her focus on Kara. “You know, I’m sorry. This—this was a mistake. I’m sorry, you—you have to go. I’m sorry. I—I can’t.”
And she doesn’t realize until Maggie’s face falls, until she sees Maggie control herself, until she sees Maggie stop herself from reaching out or from crying or from fighting, that Maggie thinks she just broke up with her.
That she did just break up with her.
And Maggie’s saying “Okay. Got it,” before Alex can react. And she’s walking away, and saying “see you, Danvers,” and Alex wants to run after her, and she wants to grab her and hold her and try it again, to beg her to stay and beg her to help and beg her to hold her up because she’s crumbling under this pressure.
But every second she spends on Maggie is a second she’s not rescuing her baby sister from evil.
So she lets her soulmate walk away from her, head bowed, and she hasn’t felt anything like a Resonance since the night they kissed for the first time, but she’s pretty sure she can feel both of their hearts breaking inside of her own chest.
But her baby sister is missing and is likely only moments away from death or enslavement, so Alex turns back to J’onn and gets back to work.
J’onn tells her to “bring our girl home,” and she just nods but she wants to scream at him that she’s fucking trying.
And Winn is too scared to go with her, and Alex doesn’t have time for his shit.
She just accidentally broke up with her soulmate. Winn’s tender feelings are so far down her list of priorities right now. She demands – orders – that he comes with her. “Nobody gets better by running away,” she tells him, and it just makes her hate herself even more because she is doing nothing that feels like getting better and everything that feels like running away.
They step through the portal, and Alex doesn’t pause for a second at the fact that she’s on another planet – she’s not on Earth – because she has to find her baby sister. She leads her team into the building, hoping against hope to find Kara before they all get killed by genocidal thugs.
She finds herself with an amazing new alien gun, and her first thought is that she can’t wait to show it to Maggie, and she hates herself even more.
But then they bust through a door, and footsteps come towards them, and suddenly her baby sister is there. She’s there, and she’s okay, and even without powers she’s so strong. Alex runs to her without a thought, squeezing her as hard as she can, and Kara makes a little oof sound because she never actually feels how strong Alex’s hugs are normally.
“You found us?” Kara asks, and Alex hates that her voice is full of wonder.
“Always,” Alex says firmly, disgusted that it was even a question.
They run back to the portal, and Alex uses the yellow sun emitter, and together the two of them get everyone home safely. Back to Earth.
And Kara hugs the girl she rescued, but then comes over and hugs Alex again, and Alex feels some of the pieces of her heart start to slot back together.
Alex waits as Kara reunites the girl with her mom.
Somehow Kara always seems to have time in her life for everything. For Kara Danvers, for Supergirl, for Cat Grant, for James, for Winn, for Lucy, for her new best friend Lena Luthor, for reporting, for working with the DEO, for Supergirl duties at children’s hospitals and birthday parties, for Eliza, for searching for Jeremiah, for J’onn, for Snapper, for this random girl. For Alex.
They pick up a pizza and take it over to Kara’s place, and Alex is quiet and sad and heartbroken, and she should be happy to have Kara back.
All she wanted was Kara back.
And she’s back, and she’s safe, and she’s whole, and Alex is so relieved.
But she’s heartbroken.
“What happened?” Kara’s voice is soft, and her hand is on Alex’s shoulder, and Alex doesn’t know if Kara’s asking because she’s crying, or if she’s crying because Kara asked.
“I snapped at Maggie,” she says softly. “You were missing, and I was so scared, and it was my fault, and I snapped at her, and I think we broke up.”
“Uh,” Kara blinks at her a couple of times. “I’m sorry, I just don’t know where to start with that one.” She blinks a couple more times, before her voice changes, ratcheting up a couple octaves and getting louder. “Wait, what do you mean it was your fault?”
“I should have been with you. I should have been with you last night, and this morning. I should have gone with you. You never should have been alone.”
And Kara’s face falls, and she lets out a deep breath, and she sags a little bit. Alex is sitting on one of the stools at her counter, and Kara lets her hip rest against the countertop, her hands holding softly to Alex’s arms. “Alex, no.”
Alex nods. “I should have been there.”
“You were with Maggie last night,” Kara says softly.
“And this morning,” Alex admits. “We called out of work this morning.”
“Alex, that’s a good thing. Spending time with her, that’s a good thing.”
And Alex is suddenly furious, because Kara is the one person in the universe who knows all sides of what happened to her today. She slams her palm down on the countertop, hard. “YOU COULD HAVE DIED ON THAT MOON, KARA.”
But Kara doesn’t yell back, doesn’t so much as change her posture. “That has nothing to do with you spending time with Maggie.” Her voice is even and calm, like she thinks Alex is being ridiculous, and Alex wants to scream.
“It has everything to do with me spending time with Maggie. If I hadn’t been with her, I would have been with you. I would have protected you.”
“Alex. I walked through that portal to save that girl, to save Izzy. You couldn’t have protected me. It was my idea to do it.”
“I would have stopped you.”
“Then Izzy would be dead.”
Alex wants to scream I DON’T CARE ABOUT IZZY, but she doesn’t. She just drops her head into her hands. “How do you do it, Kara?”
Kara steps into her, letting Alex rest her head against Kara’s breastbone. “Do what?”
“Care about so much, so many people, all at once. I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t even care about you and about work and about Maggie all at the same time. I snapped at her and I accidentally broke up with her because I couldn’t do it.”
“Oh, Alex.” Kara holds her tighter. And Alex wants Maggie back, wants her back so badly it feels like her heart is on fire, but her baby sister is here and alive and well and holding onto her.
“Alex,” Kara says softly, pulling a Cat Grant and cutting right through to the heart of the matter. “You deserve to have both of us. You get to have both of us. You deserve to be happy with both of us. You don’t have to choose.”
Alex lets out a sound that is more like a sob than she’d like it to be.
“I was with her, and you almost died.”
“Yeah, I know. But how many times have you been with me and I almost died? It’s my job, Alex, to help people. I’m always in danger. Today wasn’t any different. It’s just that instead of not being with me because you were at knife practice or sleeping or beating up J’onn, you were with your girlfriend. Your soulmate.” Kara pauses for a moment, but Alex doesn’t say anything. Kara keeps going. “And guess who saved me, huh?” She squeezes Alex even tighter. “You did. You found me. Even though you weren’t there when it happened, you found me. You saved me, Alex. You spent the night and the morning with your soulmate, and the afternoon saving me. Sounds like a pretty good day to me.”
Alex mumbles into Kara’s chest. “You’re leaving out the part where I spent the first part of my afternoon accidentally breaking up with my soulmate.” Even just saying those words is a stab through her heart.
But Kara just shrugs. “You keep saying ‘accidentally.’ How exactly do you accidentally break up with your soulmate?”
Alex pulls back and wipes her face a little, sighing heavily. “I was trying to ask her to leave the DEO because I was scared, but she doesn’t know who you are, so I couldn’t tell her how completely panicked I was.” Kara reaches out and takes her hand. “I meant that taking the morning off had been a mistake, that blowing you off last night had been a mistake, but she thought I meant that she was a mistake, that we were.” Her voice cracks. “So she left.”
Alex twists her lips into a grimace and tries not to cry as she says it again. “She left.”
“Hey,” Kara says softly, “I’m not a relationship expert, okay, but I bet if you explain to her, if you apologize to her, that she’ll forgive you.”
Alex shakes her head. “You didn’t see her, Kara. She was…god. Exactly like how I’d be if she dumped me, I guess.”
“You didn’t dump her. You panicked and said something you didn’t mean. You have to talk to her. Just explain.”
“Kara, she thought I was sleeping with Supergirl for like a year because of how much I Resonated whenever you were hurt. What am I supposed to say? No, I’m not sleeping with her and I can’t tell you how I know her, but Supergirl going missing made me completely insane? I can’t explain it, Kara, I can’t.”
But Kara just shrugs. “Tell her the truth.”
Alex gapes at her. “Tell me you’re kidding.”
“She’s your soulmate, Alex. She’s basically part of the family already. She loves you. She wouldn’t do anything to hurt you. I trust her. You should tell her.”
Alex closes her eyes. “It’s so dangerous, Kara. If she ever wanted to get back at me, to hurt me, she’d know so much.”
But Kara just says it again. “I trust her.”
Alex doesn’t know what to do.
Her heart is still on fire.
“Tell her, Alex.” Kara’s voice is still loving but now it’s firm. “Or I will.”
Alex calls Maggie from Kara’s apartment. She doesn’t answer. Alex leaves a voicemail, asking Maggie to give her a chance to explain.
She ends the voicemail with a choked “I love you,” and she wonders if it’s the last time she’ll ever get to say it.
Alex texts her, about an hour later.
I know you’re mad. You should be. I treated you so badly today. But I didn’t mean to break up. I don’t want to break up. I know you don’t owe me anything, but please let me explain. Please, Maggie, I’m so sorry.
Five minutes later she can’t help herself. She sends another.
I love you, so much. I made a mistake. I know that now. I made a mistake, and I want to fix it. Please, just let me explain. I want to be with you. I’m sorry. I love you.
The text she gets back isn’t what she expects.
Did you find Supergirl?
Alex knits her eyebrows as she types back.
Yeah, we did.
No response. She sends another.
Please, Mag. I can feel you hurting, and I know you can feel me. Please.
Finally, finally, Alex sees Maggie start to type. The little gray dots appear and disappear for what feels like hours before, finally, Maggie sends a message.
Your place, 7pm. No promises.
Maggie actually shows up. Kara had been so thoroughly prepping Alex for what to do if she didn’t, that Alex sort of can’t believe it when she sees her beautiful girl through the peephole.
She lets out a deep breath, and opens the door. How much she wants Maggie in her life hits her like a truck as she sees her standing there, flannel shirt tucked into her jeans, her hip cocked, pain all over her face.
And she’s pretty sure starting by falling on the floor and begging for forgiveness isn’t the right move, so she just clutches the door and all she manages to say is “Thank you for coming.”
“I almost didn’t.” Maggie shoulders past her into the apartment, and Alex’s heart is just shattering.
They’re standing right where they had their first kiss. Right where they’d stripped each others shirts last night. Right where Maggie had started whispering “I love you” onto every inch of Alex’s skin.
Alex doesn’t know what to say to that. Where to start.
Maggie, again, starts for her. “You said you wanted to explain. I’m listening.” Her tone makes it clear that’s a temporary condition.
Alex lets the words fall out. She’s been planning what to say for hours now, but she still feels completely unprepared for this. “I—I didn’t mean what I said to you. I didn’t mean to say this was a mistake. I know – I know I said it, I’m not blaming you, I’m blaming me. I just mean…I just mean I don’t think this is a mistake. I didn’t think that. I was just going crazy.”
But Maggie shakes her head. “Going crazy isn’t an excuse, Alex. You’ve got to give me more than that.”
Alex wrings her hands together, and tries to speak clearly. “We slept together last night, Maggie. And this morning. And this morning you were here, in my apartment, wearing my t-shirt and making me coffee, and I was just…I was just so happy. I’ve never felt that happy in my life. And then today Supergirl went missing. It was just like – just like the universe was magically smacking me down from being happy. Like it was telling me that I only get to have one of you.”
Maggie doesn’t say anything, and Alex knows she isn’t doing this right at all.
“I thought it was my fault that she was gone. That if I hadn’t been with you, I could have protected her.”
“You can’t protect her every second, Alex. She’s a grown up, so are you.”
“I know. I mean, I sort of know. Intellectually, I know. But when something bad happens, I just…I don’t know.”
“You – you love her,” Maggie says softly, and Alex can’t tell from her tone if she’s resigning herself to it or just figuring it out.
“It’s not what you think.”
But Maggie advances on her, and it’s the first time Alex can get a read on her emotions, and, okay, she’s pissed. “Alex, you’re forgetting that every single time she’s been hurt, or has gone missing, or has been turned evil, or whatever, I’ve felt what you’ve felt.” She points a finger at her and says it again. “I’ve felt what you’ve felt. So don’t even try to deny it, Alex. You love her.”
And Alex can only nod. “I love her.” She just keeps nodding. “I do. I love her. But not how you’d thought, Maggie, not like that. Not how I love you.”
“She’s your sister.”
And the world seems to crash to a halt for a second. There’s a bit of a ringing in Alex’s ears.
She feels herself stand up straighter. And even though she’d been planning to tell the truth sometime tonight, in her surprise she hears herself say, “What are you talking about?”
“Come on,” Maggie says, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “I know you, Alex. I’ve felt you inside of my body since I was sixteen years old. I was made for you. I know you. And the only person you get that torn up about, the only person who makes you that crazy, is your sister.”
All Alex can do is whisper her name, softly. “Maggie.”
“Plus, the glasses don’t help.”
And Alex just huffs out a laugh at that, because it’s true.
Well, the cat’s out of the bag now.
“I’ve always said that too,” she says softly, with a little smile. “It’s kind of ridiculous.”
And Maggie smiles too, her dimples peeking out, before she pulls it back in, schooling her face back into concern.
“Your sister went missing, and you thought it was because we had sex?” Maggie’s eyebrows are up. “You got some big religious guilt complex you haven’t told me about?”
And Alex huffs out another little laugh, but she still doesn’t know where they stand. If they’re getting back together or what. If they ever even officially broke up or what.
“No,” she says quickly. “I just…I don’t know how to balance the two of you, yet. Last night she asked me to have a sister night, but I had plans with you, and I didn’t think about her all night when I was with you –“
“Which, based on what we were doing together, was definitely a good thing,” Maggie interjects.
“Right, yes, very good thing. But then, when she went missing, it just…I felt so guilty. I know it doesn’t make sense.”
“It makes sense, Alex. You want to be relieved, right? So you took a night and a morning off, and something bad happened. It’s normal to react to that. It’s normal to freak out.”
Alex can feel a “but” coming.
And, boy, does it come.
“But you don’t get to throw me away when you freak out, Alex. You don’t. I don’t deserve that.”
And Maggie is so strong and so brave and so perfect and Alex has never even come close to deserving her. And everyone else in Maggie’s life has thrown her away at the first sign of trouble and Alex knows, she knows that this was the worst thing she could have done.
“No,” she agrees as quickly as she can. “No, you don’t deserve that. I’m sorry.”
“I know you’re sorry. But you’re right, that you’re new at this. And it’s going to happen again. I don’t think you’re ready for it. I need you think about what you’re going to do the next time something bad happens to her.” Maggie pauses for a second, and then she says it. “Because you don’t get to do this again, not if you want to have me.”
“I do,” Alex says in a rush. “I do want to have you. I do. I want you.”
“How do you know you’re not going to run again?”
“I won’t. I won’t. Next time, I’ll ask you to stay and help. Or I’ll explain what happened, I promise. I won’t run. I promise.” Alex lets out a deep breath. “I just want to be happy, Mags. With you. You’re my soulmate. I just want to be with you, always, no matter what, no matter what happens, I want us to be together. Please.”
There’s a long pause, and Alex says the only thing she hasn’t said yet.
“I love you, Mags. I love you. I’m so sorry I hurt you. I’m so sorry I acted like everyone else. You deserve better, and I can be better. I love you. I love you so much.”
And finally, finally, Maggie nods.
“I love you too, Alex.” And she didn’t call Alex any of her pet names – none of the things that she says to show Alex how special they are, how intimate they are, how deep they are with each other, how much Maggie cares, how different this relationship is from all her others. She doesn’t call her beautiful or sweetheart or Ally or Al, but she said I love you, and Alex knows the rest will come back with time.
Alex steps forward and Maggie lets Alex wrap her arms around her, and Alex almost cries at the feeling of Maggie’s arms around her own waist, of Maggie’s hands coming up to cup her shoulder blades and to run up and down her spine.
Later that night, they’re sitting on the couch. They’re cuddled up – not quite as close as they’ve ever been, but Alex tries to be patient.
“When did you figure it out,” she asks during a commercial break. “That Kara was Supergirl?”
“I wasn’t sure until tonight,” Maggie admits, “but I knew something was fishy ages ago. The way you talked about her was a little off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. But then, do you remember, you told me she didn’t know about soulmates because she was raised sort of Amish?”
Alex nods. It’s the story they always use.
“Well, that’s when I started seriously considering the possibility that she was an alien.”
“Have you ever met an Amish person? For more than like five minutes?” Alex shakes her head. Maggie actually snorts a little bit. “Jesus, Al, you’re a researcher.” She looks Alex right in the eye and grins. “Amish people definitely have soulmates, babe.”
And Alex feels pretty dumb, but Maggie called her Al and called her babe, and she’s never called her babe before, and Maggie knows about Kara and Kara knows about Maggie, and she really messed up today but Maggie took her back.
And Alex still isn’t totally clear on the logistics of how it’ll all go, but she’s sure now.
She’s sure this is going to work.
She takes the risk and curls herself into Maggie’s body.
And Maggie’s arm comes around her, warm and firm and tight. And Maggie holds her close, and she can hear Maggie’s heartbeat under her ear.
“I love you,” Alex whispers, for maybe the tenth time tonight.
And Maggie presses a tender kiss to the top of her head, and then one to her forehead. Alex looks up at her, and Maggie pulls her in for a long, soft kiss, her lips gentle and so loving against her soulmate’s.
Maggie’s thumb presses hard into Alex’s left forearm, right below her elbow, where the letter M had been inked on her seventh birthday.
Where, someday, a shark will be permanently inked.
“I love you too, beautiful,” she whispers against Alex’s lips. “I always have.”