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Quarantined

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Maggie Sawyer knew that it had all gone wrong the second she set foot into the DEO that Monday afternoon.

She wasn't supposed to be meeting anyone, but work had been slow, and she figured that she could take home the paperwork, and stop by her girlfriend's workplace with a coffee and some food first.

Their weekend had been absolute hell. Between Alex's research on the DNA of an alien captured on Friday, and her own investigation into a brawl that left two aliens dead on the curb, neither of them had really seen much of the other.

They'd canceled their Saturday night dinner reservation without discussion, and had both worked late. Alex had been home first, Maggie crawling into the bed hours later, and falling asleep quickly.

Sunday morning had been one huge clusterfuck of arguing. Alex's frustration at the lack of progress, and Maggie's exhaustion from running all over town to chase leads the day before and barely getting any sleep brought out the worst in them.

Neither of them knew who started yelling, or why they were taking it out on one another. But Maggie had stormed off to work, leaving a raging Alex behind, and they hadn't talked since.

She assumed that Alex had slept at the DEO, because she hadn't seen her at all that evening. After Maggie had sent out a text to ask if she was safe and alright, Alex had sent back one single 'I'm fine', and that had been the end of it.

But now, after spending the early morning chasing and apprehending the brawlers, she finally had a clear mind to make things right with Alex. She hated fighting with her, and she hoped that they would be able to talk it out.

The rational part of her knew that Alex wasn't angry at her, just frustrated at how little she'd progressed. Maggie had briefly heard from Kara that morning, who had mentioned how Alex seemed to be falling into the bottomless pit of obsessive research. No eating, barely any sleeping…

It was a side of Alex Maggie recognized and admired, but hated. She knew the things Alex had done with the rest of her team. Incredible biological advancements, revolutionary science. But it cost Alex her health and wellbeing – and Maggie would never be okay with that.

So she hoped that the coffee would get Alex to stop working, even for just a few minutes, to eat and talk. Vent about her frustrations, if she really had to. But Maggie would be there.

The receptionist buzzed her in with a wide smile, and Maggie stepped into the elevator.

As the doors closed, she remembered the last time she'd been in the DEO. It hadn't been for Alex, but rather for J'onn, who insisted that they needed to talk, just the two of them.

He'd offered her a job at the DEO as a field operative. Assisting in missions, as she'd previously done a few times. As much as he liked having her as a contact at the NCPD they could rely on, J'onn knew that her alien knowledge and situational assessment were invaluable to the DEO team. He'd seen the way Maggie got information out of people. How she told the right people the right things to get what she wanted. She was an excellent negotiator in crisis situations.

Maggie would be lying if she said that she wasn't completely flattered. But she'd asked for time to think it through. She liked working at the NCPD. Her father, flawed as he was, was a cop. And she'd looked up to him all through her childhood. He was the reason she wanted to become a police officer. That she eventually enrolled in the academy. As much as she loved the DEO with all of its technological advantages, budget and equipment – compared to the NCPD's resources, the DEO was heaven on earth – the charm of good old fashioned policework had never failed to grab her.

The DEO was a secret organization that only interfered in the field when absolutely necessary, and even then handled things as quickly and discretely as possible. The NCPD handled aliens on a daily basis, with a wide range of issues and crimes.

At that point, Maggie was completely unsure what to decide. She loved Alex, and the thought of working alongside her every day made her heart flutter. Kara, Winn, J'onn… All of the people she now considered family would be there with her.

But the NCPD, as cold and lonely as it could occasionally be, had been her home for the past two years. She was appreciated. A great detective, and she had her partners' backs in the field. The medals that Alex had so proudly put in plain view at their apartment proved that she was at least doing something right. The DEO would mean completely different moral gray areas, and starting from the bottom once again.

The elevator doors opened on the floor of the command center, and Maggie walked out. She could see J'onn talking to Winn at his desk, a few other agents that she didn't recognize standing next to them. They seemed in the middle of a briefing, so Maggie didn't disturb them, and went straight for Alex's lab.

To her slight surprise, she found the lab completely deserted. The computer was on, and there were notes scribbled down in her girlfriend's meticulous handwriting scattered all across the table, but no Alex in sight.

Maggie walked down the corridor, looking through the glass walls of the labs trying to spot Alex, when she finally crossed a familiar face.

Milo. A bioengineer at the DEO, and a close collaborator on most of Alex's projects. A blonde man in his late twenties, wearing a DEO-issued lab coat. His glasses were halfway down his nose, and he looked to be in a rush. Maggie reached out her arm before he could pass her, grabbing his upper arm.

The man turned around, and smiled quickly when he saw her, adjusting his glasses. "Detective."

"Have you seen Alex?" Maggie said, trying to get to the point as fast as possible as to not waste the man's time.

Milo frowned in thought. "She's still working on that DNA reconstruction… I think she was going to the med bay to take more samples from the subject."

Maggie nodded gratefully as she walked in the direction of the med bay. Behind her, she heard Milo's amused voice. "Good luck!"

Well, if anybody knew the Alex-obsessed-with-work-mode, it was him.

Sure enough, she spotted the back of Alex's head through the glass panel wall of the room, before entering. Alex was crouched down next to a cupboard, grabbing supplies and mumbling to herself darkly. "Where is that damn scalpel…"

Maggie raised an amused eyebrow and looked around the room, spotting a wrapped scalpel on a tray next to the door. She grabbed it, and raised it. "Right here."

As expected, Alex jumped at the sound of her voice, and almost hit her head on the cupboard she'd been digging in. She carefully pulled her head out, and looked up.

"Maggie…" She said, surprised to see her girlfriend standing next to the door, scalpel in one hand, and a brown bag in the other.

"I brought coffee." Maggie offered, raising the bag. Alex sighed, and took the scalpel from her hand. "We have coffee here."

Maggie rolled her eyes. "Yeah, but you always complain that it's horrible."

Alex took a seat on a small rolling stool, moving towards one of the beds, occupied by a huge, caveman-like alien. Dark, hairy and intimidating, although he looked more or less harmless in his unconscious state.

"I've been trying to analyze him for two days straight, but it's…" Alex trailed off, as she pulled down the sheets to make an incision in his side. Maggie watched her work.

"… The DNA is not comparable to any species we know." The agent concluded, inspecting her work as she reached for a small container on a nearby tray.

Maggie took another long look at the restrained alien. She didn't recognize it. It looked vaguely human, but too disformed and animalistic to actually be one. It looked more like those reconstructed animations of how humans had evolved from apes.

"How did you find him?" She finally asked. The concern for Alex's state was going to be her next move, but for now fascination and interest took over. Adding new species and solar systems to the list was always exciting. It felt like putting down one more piece in the infinite jigsaw puzzle of the universe.

"He crashed down to earth on Friday." Alex said, not looking up from her work. "… Not exactly a pod, more like a comet he was inside of. It landed a few miles off the shore, but he has been unconscious ever since we pulled him out. Scans showed that the bone structures were pretty humanoid, but the organs were completely different, so I can't pinpoint what's wrong exactly. He could be dead, or comatose…" She concluded with a heavy sigh, before raising the tissue, hairs and other samples she'd been extracting. "… I need to get this back to the lab."

"Alex." Maggie stopped her, moving in her way. "Can we talk first?"

The agent rolled her eyes. "Can we just… do this tonight?"

The detective raised an eyebrow. "That depends on if you're going to hide out here again like last night."

Alex huffed. "I wasn't hiding. I worked, and by the time I wanted to go to sleep, it was already morning, so I just slept here for a few hours instead of losing time by driving home."

"Yeah, sure. Keep telling yourself that." Maggie grunted, putting the bag down. "I brought you food, and a cup of coffee from that place down the street that you like. Can you please just eat something so I know you're not going to pass out?"

The agent put the samples down on the counter and crossed her arms, leaning against it. "Fine. I'll eat after I'm finished testing the samples."

It seemed like an evasive answer, and Maggie wasn't completely satisfied, but she knew that it was all she was going to get out of Alex for now.

She sensed that Alex seemed more eager to talk when it was about the alien, so she segued back to that quickly. "Did he have anything on him? A distress beacon, homing device…?"

"Nothing. We're working on analyzing the comet as well, but so far it doesn't pinpoint any location."

"You need a break, Alex." Maggie said in a quiet and gentle voice, taking a few steps in her direction until she was in front of her, putting a hand on her cheek and looking at her with concerned eyes. "I'm worried about you. And so is Kara."

Alex shook her head. "Everything's okay. I just need to find a way to get this."

"Listen." Maggie roped her arms around Alex's neck. "The guy's unconscious. He could stay like that for hours, days, months. You taking a one-hour break to get out of here and get some decent food in you won't matter. It won't end the world. You know that."

Alex sighed, looking down. "I… I know. But I'm just…"

She trailed off. But Maggie didn't need the words to know how Alex felt. She leaned forward, to pull Alex in a proper hug, and hold her. "I get it. It's okay. But please, Alex. For me?"

She felt the agent pull away, and watched Alex nod. "Okay. One hour. You're buying me lunch."

"Deal." Maggie smirked, as she leaned in to capture Alex's lips in a sweet kiss. She was kind of glad they hadn't exactly sat down to talk about their feelings in terms of yesterday's argument, but she knew that they were in a good place again.

Maggie let go of Alex, and walked over to the door with a bright smirk.

But as she passed the bed, a rumbling noise to her left made her stop dead in her tracks and turn into the direction of the sound.

Coming from the alien on the bed.

"I think he's waking up." She said, leaning in slightly to confirm. Alex put a hand on her shoulder to pull her back. "Careful. We don't know if he's friendly."

Maggie took a step back, but watched with fascination as the alien started shifting, and finally opened its eyes. Bright, brown, and so nearly human that it was actually scary.

Yet she didn't have a lot of time to reflect on them, as the alien's eyes settled on her as the first thing he saw in the room, and stared her down.

"Hey." Maggie tried from the side of the bed. "Can you understand me? Do you know where you are?"

Alex, in the meantime, had taken a seat on the rolling chair again, moving it forward to the foot of the bed, checking his charts but keeping one eye trained on his figure.

The alien didn't reply to Maggie, but continued to stare at her.

After that, everything was a blur.

Alex was just about to make a comment about the lack of knowledge on the alien's vital signs, when she saw him pull out of the clasps that confined him to the bed effortlessly, raising a hand to pull a caught off guard Maggie onto the bed.

The indignant yelp that her girlfriend let out was enough for Alex to jump up and reflexively reach for the back of her leather jacket, to pull her away from him.

Seconds later, she felt a sharp sting at her neck, but ignored it in favor of pulling Maggie to the ground. She watched the alien escape from the rest of his restraints, and jump off the bed to run out of the med bay.

Alex stumbled towards the touchpad on the wall, and triggered the emergency protocol with a few taps. Immediately, an alarm started blaring, as the DEO went in lockdown. If she didn't know what the alien was, the last thing she wanted was for it to run around National City freely.

A grunt from the floor made Alex run back to Maggie's side, and roll her over. "Maggie…? Babe?"

The detective moaned weakly, as she was clutching a spot on her left shoulder. Alex gently pried her hand away, and her stomach dropped.

"H-he bit me…" Maggie needlessly supplied, as Alex saw the large, angry mark, oozing blood where the teeth had broken her skin.

She didn't want to think about what endless, horrible effects that bite could have.

As she moved her head to look around for help, she felt something stinging in her neck. She touched around the sore area with her finger, finding something hard stuck in her skin. She yanked it out, expecting it to be a needle or dart of some sorts.

She almost threw up at the sight of the yellowed and dirty fingernail in her hand. The tip was coated in blood, and Alex realized immediately that it was hers.

Grasping the possible severity of the situation, Alex moved back to the touchpad, and activated the quarantine mode, to lock off the med bay as a safety precaution.

Protocol.

Because whatever that thing was, if its defense mechanisms were anything remotely contagious or toxic, then the both of them were severely fucked.