Thirty years ago on this day, July 11th, in Newark, Winslow Schott Jr was born and to mark the big day, the gang had gathered at the birthday boy’s abode after work.
It was as much a birthday party as it was a gathering of singletons. Winn’s relationship with Lyra had long fizzled out; James and Lena had come to the mutual decision that they were better suited as friends rather than anything more; Mon-El had left again and Kara decided the healthiest option would be to permanently part rather than attempt to engage in an inter-galactic long distance relationship; and Alex, well…she’d dipped her toe into the dating pool a few times within the past year but hadn’t particularly enjoyed the experience. The only member of their group that was actually in a relationship was the one that was absent, with J’onn having sadly gotten tied up with something at the DEO at the last minute with no guarantee when, or even if, he could drop by.
The gift that Alex had picked out and stuck in a card was simple – a hundred dollar gift card for the Playstation Store – but it was most certainly appreciated. ‘This will definitely be getting spent once you’re all gone,’ the man of the hour grinned.
‘I thought it was a safer bet to get you that, than getting you a game and risk you already having it,’ Alex explained.
Winn pulled her into a tight hug. ‘You thought well. Thank you.’
They’d only arrived five minutes ago, and Kara was already poking through the presents and cards that were dotted around the apartment. ‘This,’ she held up an expensive looking camera. ‘Is nice. Birthday present?’
‘Yep,’ Winn said as he rushed over, no doubt fearful of an accidental breakage from super-strong hands.
Alex was a step ahead, beating him there and taking it from her sister. Upon closer inspection, she came to the conclusion that the device definitely cost more than her monthly rent. Way more. ‘Yeah, very nice. Remind me to befriend whoever got you it.’ She estimated it cost at least two grand. ‘Who got you it?’
‘Uh, old friend,’ Winn stammered. His nerves appeared to ease as his new toy ended up in the expert hands of James.
‘More like good friend,’ James said. ‘This is the latest model and better than most of the ones I have in my arsenal. I expect you to seriously up your Instagram game with this. No more taking dorky photos, you hear?’
*** *** ***
The party was essentially another game night, except with cake and presents but, as always, it was a great night with great company.
Then it was back home to an empty apartment, an apartment that she longed to move out of but couldn’t. The place was ideally located, close enough to her sister’s and the DEO and, by National City’s ever-rising standards, rent was reasonable. If she did decide to move, her friends would soon click onto the real reason for doing so – it’d been way over a year, she didn’t want to seem that pathetic even though she felt it when she came home every night and expected to see a tiny detective curled up on the couch, waiting for her. Therefore, Alex was stuck here for the foreseeable, until something either changed in her life or she’d had enough in her savings to get somewhere permanent.
She’d been deemed officially short sighted by her eye doctor some six months ago. Whilst contacts were best for work, they were a giant pain in the ass and taking them in and out was not an experience that she particularly enjoyed. So her glasses, along with her pyjamas, were her first priority when she got home, as was the leftover pizza in the fridge from the night before and a can of soda – she was cutting back on alcohol these days, after growing resigned to how sad it had become to drink alone.
Living alone felt bad enough.
She grabbed a blanket and settled on the couch, her heart set on marathoning FRIENDS on Netflix. She’d just picked an episode to start on when her phone buzzed.
Winn: thanks for coming tonight
and yeah gift card has already been spent, thank you again!
Alex: You’re welcome. Enjoy your senior years.
Winn: hey you’re older than me
Alex: Men statistically die younger.
*** *** ***
A little after midnight, she jerked awake, the sound of her phone vibrating against the coffee table starling her. She rubbed her eyes as she reached to answer. The number wasn’t familiar, but it was from NC. ‘Yeah?’
‘Hi, is this Alexandra Danvers?’
The use of her formal name did not go unnoticed. ‘It is, yes,’ she said as she sat up a little. ‘Who is this?’
‘Hello Miss Danvers. I’m calling from St. Christopher’s as I have you listed as Margaret Sawyer’s emergency contact?’
*** *** ***
The last time she’d seen Maggie was a year and a half ago, on the day their hearts broke.
They hadn’t kept in touch since they ended their engagement, not really. They’d sent a handful of texts in the months that followed, a quick Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas but that had been it. Even though things had ended amicably, it hurt too much to try and maintain a friendship. So they hadn’t, and their paths hadn’t crossed professionally either, as Maggie had switched to working homicides – Alex had a feeling that wasn’t mere coincidence.
Yet despite everything, Alex didn’t hesitate. She hastily pulled the first items of clothing she found on over her pyjamas, and took off into the night, speeding through the deserted streets on her Ducati, paying scant attention to the few lights that weren’t in her favour.
Within fifteen minutes, she was at the hospital and sprinting up to the reception desk.
‘I’m here for Maggie, Margaret, Sawyer?’
Each keystroke on the computer felt like an eternity. Then finally, ‘Family room on the second floor.’
Alex rambled her thanks and began to follow the necessary signage. There was a familiar face sat waiting for her when she finally got there. Captain Charles James – a man that she had not seen in almost two years who was Maggie’s mentor and superior. He greeted Alex with a small smile, and she was relieved that if he harbored any animosity towards her, he was at least keeping it buried. ‘I’m glad you could come,’ he said, standing to give her a quick hug. ‘It’s good to see you again.’ His words sounded sincere, despite everything.
‘I just wish it were under better circumstances,’ Alex replied and it was met with a nod in agreement. ‘How is she? They’re not telling me much, what happened?’
Charlie gestured towards the seat beside him. She sat and he explained, his tone sombre. ‘Maggie was shot in the chest. She’s in surgery, that’s…that’s all I know, all they’ve told me.’
The room started to spin a little; nausea crept up.
‘How…’ Alex closed her eyes and took a deep, steadying breath. ‘How was she shot?’
‘Someone turned up at her apartment. She managed to take them out before placing an officer down call. It happened an hour or so ago, so details are scarce right now.’
One thing, however, was painfully obvious. ‘It was a hit.’
Charlie nodded. ‘I’d say so.’
And then the guilt came crashing down. If they’d still been together, Alex would’ve been there and would’ve been able to do something. Hell, if they’d still been together, it probably would never have even happened because her apartment’s security had been upped significantly since Rick Malverne had abducted her – the door had reinforced locks, there were cameras monitoring the doorway and there was even, although Alex hated the term and the fact it was even a necessity, a panic alarm installed to summon her sister at the press of a button. It was secure, she’d have been there but no…she’d kicked Maggie out and broken both of their hearts.
Over a concept.
When they could’ve had something real.
Charlie rested a hand on her shoulder. ‘I know this is an unusual situation but I think she’ll really appreciate you coming.’
‘Are you sure?’ Alex asked. She was certain that, besides inviting Mr and Mrs Rodas, seeing her ex-fiancee would be the last thing that Maggie would want. Hell, they might as well invite said bigoted parents just to complete the set of people who had wrecked Maggie’s life. ‘She probably just forgot to update her contact details. I doubt she wants me here.’
‘But you came.’
‘Yeah,’ Alex nodded. ‘I did…I still care about her.’ And love her, and miss her – greatly. ‘I couldn’t not have--.’
‘What the hell are you doing here?’
Alex didn't need to look to know the question had been spat in her direction, but she did anyway.
‘Do you seriously think she’ll want to see you when she wakes up? That’s if she wakes up.' Kevin Grisham's hair was a little greyer now than it was the last time their paths had crossed.
‘That’s enough, Kevin,’ Charlie said, attempting to defuse things but Kevin continued.
‘C’mon Cap. Maggie’s like your daughter and that bitch right there is the one that broke her heart. Maggie didn’t come into work for weeks after what she did to her. She has no right to be here.’
‘No. You have no right to be here.’ Charlie's tone was firm. ‘She’s Maggie’s emergency contact – she has more right than anyone to be here. So if anyone should leave, then it’s you. And, as your superior, that’s exactly what I’m telling you to do, Detective Grisham.’
Grisham shot Alex one final glare. ‘If you upset her again, you’ll regret it,’ he warned before leaving.
‘Ignore him. He’s an asshole.’
‘An asshole with a point.’ Alex could hardly fault the guy’s logic. She’d broken Maggie’s heart and, from the sound of things, broken Maggie too. In the two years that they'd spent together, Maggie had rarely missed work, something that was more often than not to her own detriment when she had been struggling with a cold or the flu. And yet she had after the break-up? Then, even despite her unbridled passion for helping aliens, she had switched to working homicides? It was no secret that homicide was one of the most financially lucrative divisions - and no secret either that the relatively new science division was seen by some as a joke and, as a result, struggled for funding - but Maggie wasn't a cop for the money, or fancy police equipment. She was a cop because she cared and, whilst so few people cared about National City's alien populace, Maggie's faith and kindness towards them had never faltered. 'You don't have to be nice to me, Charlie. If you think me being here is a bad idea, then I'll go. It's the least I can do after what I did to her.'
'What? Ended things like an adult because you wanted different things?'
'She told you?'
'Yes,' Charlie affirmed. 'But I don't think she told many other people, certainly not Kevin. We both know she only tolerates him at best.'
That truth made Alex smile. 'How she didn't punch him at that Christmas night out I'll never know.' Kevin had been drunk and acted as if beating Maggie resoundingly at pool was some great achievement, and had gloated about it for the rest of the evening, much to everyone's annoyance.
''Cause she's too nice for her own good,' Charlie said. 'Maggie doesn't hate you, Alex. And I'm sure that she'll want to see you.'
The words came out of Alex's mouth before she could stop them. 'If she pulls through.'
'Everyone has their breaking point.' There had to be some limit to all the shit Maggie could endure. Alex sighed. 'I'm sorry, I--.'
'Don't apologise,' Charlie rested a hand on her knee. 'It's okay, stuff like this isn't easy for anyone.'
'I just...don't like the vagueness.'
'You and me both, kid,' he concurred. 'You and me both.'
*** *** ***
It was another half hour until they got news.
Though it wasn’t good news really. The bullet had torn through the wall of her aorta, and had lodged itself against her fourth vertebra. She’d lost a lot of blood, and her heart had stopped during surgery. Her left wrist had also been fractured, presumably from falling, and would require an operation at a later date but still...she’d done what she had done for most of her life – Maggie had survived, though would still be in surgery for a little while yet.
Alex could feel the weight being lifted from her chest.
With the news, Charlie excused himself. ‘I’m going to head to the precinct, and get a head start on the investigation,’ he said, patting Alex’s shoulder. ‘Keep me updated please. Do you still have my number?’
'I do, yes.' She'd kept it just in case anything had ever happened to Maggie, never once expecting to still be listed as her ex's emergency contact. 'I'll let you know anything they tell me.'
Once he was gone, Alex reached for her phone and fired off a text.
Alex: Come to St Christopher's as soon as you can. Give Maggie's name at reception and say you're with me x
It'd been a necessity to upgrade Supergirl's phone so that a message notification would wake her if she was ever desperately needed at some ungodly hour. Now was such an hour and, thankfully, she came within minutes. 'Alex?'
Alex tried to explain but managed only a couple of rambled sentences before it finally got to her, and she began sobbing into her sister's arms. Kara held her for as long as needed, before Alex pulled away. 'I...I need you to tell J'onn,' Alex wiped her tired eyes. 'The NCPD will take too long, I need the DEO on this. I want justice for her.'
'Of course, of course,' Kara said. 'You...you think there's something more to it than what you said happened?'
'Maybe, maybe not, I don't know, I...I don't want to take the chance. She deserves justice...she deserves the whole goddamn world and yet this happens? What has she ever done to deserve constant crap thrown at her?'
'Nothing. And that's why we will look into it, I promise,' Kara smiled, leaning forward to brush a rogue strand of hair away from Alex's face. 'Before I go, do you need anything? Drinks? Food? Or I can fly back and get you something from home?'
The only thing Alex wanted was to go back two years so that none of this ever happened. Instead she settled on a bottle of water which she sipped from as she awaited further updates - she didn't attempt to sleep as she knew that would be futile. After the longest two hours of her life, she finally heard the words that she'd been longing to hear.
'You can see her now.'