Chapter 1: Well Met
Lucy had no idea what to expect coming home the evening before April Fool's Day. Frankly, she still wasn't completely certain that the others hadn't talked the twins into punking her. Still, the earlier text messages had finally set her to taking a few minutes in her office to call Ro.
"Yeah, it don't understand it either," the more stoic of the twins said, all concern and curiosity. "She never talks about her family, and even this lab rat knows that's a sensitive subject, but the text says, 'hey, can you bunk in with Bug tonight? Having family dramas. No, nothing dangerous.' We'll do as she asks, but can you check in on her?"
So Lucy quickly arranged for her staff to take control of the desert DEO base a day early and headed back to National City. The subject of 'family dramas' was making her twitch like an allergic reaction, but dammit, she liked Maggie! Realistically, she loved her, but regardless, the least she could do was be there for her. Even if she wanted to run screaming into the night to never be seen again.
No matter that it getting towards eight at night, the Friday congestion of National City had not let up and it was not helping her twitchiness any. A growling stomach just added to the annoyances and Lucy held off for precisely six minutes before calling for delivery in hopes of timing it to meet the food at the curb.
Finally, she made it to Hope Street and made her turn to dawdle past the ratty old hotel and storefronts and stubborn urban trees that made up the neighborhood adjacent to the Hudson building. As she came to the elegant brick and concrete structure that was home, she noted the top two floors and the roof were brightly lit where the night crews were clearly at work. Lena really wanted to move in as soon as possible and had the capital to pay the exorbitant fees of keeping the building active twenty-four seven.
However, the ground floor windows were conspicuously at the near-dark power saver settings.
The sense of worried dread was real as Lucy pulled around to the well-lit alley and pressed the button that had one of the big rolling doors humming out of the way so that she could slip into her narrow spot in the corner. Her internal clock was running down, so she grabbed her bags and hightailed it for the door that led to the main hallway, past the elevators and the door that led to the huge room that had held the Christmas party all those months ago. Through the glass front doors, Lucy was faced with an empty sidewalk, but waited there patiently. After no more than a minute, her food arrived and was paid for, leaving her to take a deep breath and head in to see how her girlfriend was doing.
Behind the sturdy, locked door, the room was dimly lit and echoingly empty. Her heels thudded dully against the three steps up to the sprawling deck that took up much of the space, extending the living area far beyond the fancy trailer and the side room the crews had put up for the pack of four.
The trailer too was dark, the television flickering in the window.
"Mags?" Lucy called softly as she entered the trailer, setting half her things down on the small kitchen island. Up the couple steps to the living room in the raised nose of the trailer, she found Maggie in the theater seating style loveseat, facing the TV. Somehow the glass in her hand and the glint of the bottle occupying the other seat didn't surprise her at all. The inky black bulk of Peggy the Labrador Retriever only surprised her in that it was so late in the day. The dog was sprawled out along Maggie's legs, her head on that flat belly. Maggie's barely healed leg was tangled amid big paws for safekeeping, the other leg dangling to the floor.
After a moment, and without looking up, Maggie's dull voice escaped, hoarse from her day and hard drink.
"There's a couple teenage kids sleeping in our bed. Weird, right? My niece I'd mostly forgotten I even had and a pal from school. She's a Metahuman. Can read emotions and affect them too. Oh, and she didn't say it, but I see how she looks at her pal and yeah, I'll bet both kidneys she's queer as a rainbow daisy. Ironic, right? Turns out my fucking sister lost her fucking mind somewhere along the line and junior is a real mess. Why the fuck is history repeating itself?"
Only on the last sentence did the underlying emotion burst forth, a savage attack of words that made Lucy blink. After a moment of absorbing the unexpected onslaught of personal information, she tossed the last of the things to the nearest couch and simply went to her lover. Setting aside the whiskey bottle, she settled to the other half of the theater-seating. With the dexterity of a cat, she arched over the armrest to wrap herself around Maggie's head and shoulders. If she could have purred in comfort, she would have.
The strangled noise Maggie made under different circumstance would have been hilarious, but Lucy understood it, that crumbling self-control in the face of high emotion. She was no fan of it either and merely hugged Maggie close in a undemanding quiet. For a long time, Maggie just clung to her like a life raft in stormy seas and breathed as hard as if she'd run miles, Peggy's tail thumping quietly against the footrest.
Waking with a start, Trini was utterly confused where she was and what the hell was going on. Something hot and heavy had her half pinned to a comfortable and completely unfamiliar bed and everything smelled wrong, though not unpleasantly so.
Kim. Who apparently became a human octopus when in a bed. A bed with some sort of fancy foam mattress, in a dim room full of stranger's scents that were somehow… comforting.
Pain and confusion and comfort and love washed over her, the aunt she had only just met and another mind, bonded closely to the one she knew. That bond allowed no alarm to invade Trini's exhausted mind. People who loved were unlikely to mean any harm.
For long moments she wallowed in that calm, loving presence of the two women in her immediate vicinity, and the press of Kim's body so close. It was a succor she desperately needed to even begin to soothe her hurts.
Kim was reluctant to give up her sleeping hold, but Trini managed to wiggle away and stand to quietly crack open the bedroom door. Even reassured by the feelings in her immediate space, she wanted as much information as possible before committing to this new phase of her life. Voices floated across the fancy RV, Maggie's and a woman she hadn't met yet.
"Were they impressed with you, oh big city cop?"
In response to the blatant tease, Maggie scoffed playfully. "They were impressed that I know Supergirl, who dropped in when Teen Two turned into a death-cloud and tore her way through the roof of their truck."
"You'll have to come back to that, because you have me curious now."
"I promise. So, duh, my department specializes in aliens and Metahumans. Of course I know Supergirl. I'm sure she'll give me crap about the whole incident later."
"What, leaving you with the killer teens? You know she can't resist yanking your chain just a little when she gets a chance."
They laughed together, easy and warm. It was soothing to Trini and she wallowed in the feeling, let it soothe down some of her own rough edges. The stranger spoke once more.
"Right? The sunshine puppy has teeth too."
The mood changed again, sober and edged with clear concern.
"Is she okay though?"
"I suppose so, all things considered," Maggie said somewhat offhandedly and Trini felt her mood shift to a dark rage. No, not rage, but a wolf-like protectiveness that made her blink and a warmth to spread through her just like when her oddball group of friends had taken her in as everything fell apart. "Her face is a mess and only some of it is from a fall of some sort. But the marks on her cheek and jaw? A hand made those."
Sniffling, Trini hung onto the door and clung to the sense of safety to keep her weird talent between her ears. The memory of her mother striking her was agony, a proof that she was capable of behaving that way to her own daughter. Knowing that hurt far worse than the bruises.
Maggie blew out a long, hard sigh before she spoke again. "I went from 'yay! I'm getting my life back after the broken leg' to 'what the actual fuck', in the space of a knock on the door, so to speak."
That made Trini flinch, but before she could do more than glance her own moroseness in the face, Maggie spoke again, her voice calm and laced with warmth.
"Still, she's worth it. Even with a briefly as we interacted, yeah, she's worth it."
Trini hadn't even realized she'd moved forward, creeping down the short hallway towards the kitchen, drawn to the safe harbor of this aunt she never knew. The stranger's voice startled her, despite her having spoken already and the presence of her feelings pressing lightly against Trini's mind.
"Seriously, what is it with you and Danvers?"
The tease fell flat as the woman in the kitchen caught sight of Trini and went from 'relaxed at home' to 'death before you can blink'. It was a startling transformation and Trini froze, her alarm flash-firing all over the neighborhood and the beauty's eyes went wide.
And she was a hell of a beauty, with good looks not unlike Kim's, a blend of something Middle Eastern-ish and Anglo that made a pleasant whole. Then some sort of recognition clicked and the naked blade of her menace vanished like a blade sheathed and she smiled a small, uncertain smile.
"You must be Trini," she greeted quietly and whipped her head towards the living room to bark, "and don't you dare get up, Mags. You keep your sore, sorry ass in that chair."
The flicker of movement silhouetted against the television subsided with a sarcastically grumbled, "yes ma'am."
Trini was astonished to feel a bubble of humor tickle her throat at the show, curling her mouth just a little as the sassy stranger smacked her hands together and stepped over, the right extended. "Lucy Lane, your aunt's better half."
Maggie snorted rudely but didn't argue.
Trini found she couldn't speak, her voice rusted solid in her skull, and she felt frozen in place. Lucy instantly adapted with an ease Trini would ponder later, turning the aborted handshake into a gesture at the kitchen island and the clutter of goodies there.
"You hungry? I ordered some Italian from a place I love, but I'm adding sandwiches to it. I have turkey, roast beef, provolone and cheddar."
It all sounded good and Trini could almost feel the puppy eyes she was suddenly making as her mouth filled with saliva. Lucy's grin was sly and softly understanding.
"Everything it is."
Chapter 2: A Manageable Reach
Have I mentioned what a joy Lucy is to write for?
Maggie watched the mouse-quiet teen creep up the stairs and curl up on one of the two couches that flanked the theater seating. Notably, she chose the end closest to the stairs and Maggie, dark eyes only a glitter in the flickering light the television provided.
They hadn't gotten a chance to talk, the teens clearly traumatized and exhausted to their bones. Supergirl had kindly hauled the ruined truck into a corner of the parking garage to be dealt with later. The teens had grabbed a couple of things from the tarp-covered payload in the back and wearily followed Maggie to her temporary home. There had been few words, despite a whole damn lot of mutual curiosity, and the girls had collapsed into Maggie's bed to sleep in the first safety they'd felt in some time.
And now that Maggie had Trini sitting three feet away, she had absolutely no idea what to say to the kid.
Lucy juggled out sandwiches and sodas to feed her girls, and made them both wince as she turned on the lights.
"We're not a Goth club, Sawyer. Eat."
There was no mistaking the affection in the sass, Trini warmed by it once again. The trio ate quietly for a time before Trini surprised herself by breaking the silence.
"I didn't know you had a dog."
The hoarse words were soft enough that Maggie was grateful she'd turned the television way down. Swallowing hard, she patted Peggy where she was looking adorable in hopes of a scrap of roast beef.
"I, uh, called a friend and asked if I could borrow Peggy here for the night. Y'know, so I had someone to cuddle." The look she sent to Lucy was vulnerable and adoring. "I guess I didn't need her after all. Thanks for coming home, Luce."
"Hey, family is what you make it, right?" The sappy statement came with a smooch on the head and Lucy looked wryly at the soulful expression of the dog where she remained glued to Maggie. "Your therapy dog is doing a great job, of course she can stay the night. Good thing you asked the twins to bunk in with Bug though. The bed is going to be crowded. We'll pull out one of the couches in here "
Kim's sleepy, vulnerable voice announced her shuffling into the kitchen and heading for the trio of steps that led up to the raised living room. Trini immediately set her plate aside and stood up to meet her.
"Hey, Kim, come're. This is Lucy, my aunt's girlfriend."
It was only then that Kim even noticed the older women in the room, blinking as her brain was waking up. "Oh, hey, cool."
"You're hungry again."
"Hollow. That stupid smoke monster routine takes it outta me and we went straight t'sleep."
Maggie spoke up then, her voice soft. "Take what you need, guys."
Kim made some wordless noise of thanks and shuffled back to the kitchen, Trini at her elbow. While they raided the fridge to the tune of Kim's greedy noises, Maggie and Lucy traded a look.
This was certainly a more complicated situation than anticipated.
Kim didn't let up for longer than even a hungry teen should have been able to stuff their face. Trini's expression was wry and sheepish as she gave up solidarity in favor of returning to her cat-curl on the sofa.
"Sorry," she said quietly and shrugged. "We'll have to go on a donut run tomorrow. Those work well, though you'd be shocked how fast they go."
"Oh, not really," Lucy teased gently. "We have a friend who could out-eat her no matter how much that monster-out I've heard about takes out of her."
And she actually earned a smile.
Maggie was shocked by the lightheaded flood of relief that came with the simple act of Trini's smile. And could have kicked herself for ruining it.
"Damn, you hardly look a thing like Junie, but I can absolutely see Jose in you. Wow."
Trini just blinked at her.
Because of course June hadn't been honest with her daughter. Maggie wanted to scream at the unfairness of it all. And now that she'd inadvertently stuck her foot in her mouth, she could hardly perpetuate more lies.
"Jose Gomez had been your mom's boyfriend for years, though they snuck around for most of it, since he was Mexican and I hardly need to explain that about our family." The bitterness was caustic in Maggie's voice and she forced herself to gentle. "He was a nice guy, would help me with my homework sometimes. I didn't get to see him often, since he had to avoid Dad and the rest of the good ol' boys."
"It was that bad, huh?"
Trini's wry comment was utterly unexpected and Maggie blinked at her, nonplussed.
"Blue Springs. I only visited a few times for family stuff. And it was always tense, even as a kid without these stupid superpowers, I picked up on that. It got worse after I found the box. Actually, hang on a sec."
Leaving the adults blinking, she raced off, returning with Kim and a battered lunchbox in tow. Shoving Kim at the couch, Trini stood by Maggie's seat for a long moment, clearly hesitant about handing over the treasure she gripped tightly in both hands. Some of her conflict was bleeding out, calmed when Maggie reached up to gently set a hand over hers.
"Take your time, Trini. No one will rush you, or hurt you."
A long, deep breath visibly drained away some of the girl's tension and she nodded before holding out the metal box. "This is how I found you."
Respectful of the gift it clearly was, Maggie took the battered thing, emblazoned with Dr Pepper logos. What she found inside was not at all expected. The yellowed photos were memories not hers, but of the mother who had taken most of them. Any memory of those halcyon days were more faded than ink and chemical and paper. Yet, they were captured there, her own little self, so happy then, by her sister's side.
The ache slammed her like a punch to the gut. A choked sob strangled her for a moment, making her hands shake.
"I'm sorry, I--"
Maggie grabbed Trini's wrist to stop the apology. "No. None of that. These are memories I'd lost, for good or bad. Thank you."
Trini was completely taken aback by that, by a thank you for the bittersweet feelings pouring off of her aunt. Sitting back down, she pondered both her own feelings and Maggie's. Some part of her that wasn't still reeling from all that had happened, understood. She could never hate the good memories of her family, no matter how much she ached over what had happened.
A soggy huff of amusement brought her back to the moment, Maggie scrounging out the handful of tiny toys hiding beneath the photos. "I remember these."
They were a tiny horse, cow and dog, a little Polly Pockets dolly and a plastic owl with windup feet that made it totter spastically across a flat surface. The latter hummed, high-pitched and urgent as Maggie wound it up and the feet flailed impotently in open air.
"It still works. I carried this damn thing around for ages when I was little. I'm shocked it's in as good a shape as it is."
Trini stared at Maggie's profile, caught up in the strange and familiar of her. Finding her had been an act of desperation, but she was beginning to think she might actually like this stranger. It was a comfort to her.
"I thought you should have them back," Trini said even as she could feel her sense of loss bleeding through her control. Maggie turned her head to smile warmly.
"We'll put them out somewhere we can both enjoy them."
Sixteen years old or not, Trini liked that.
A relaxed quiet fell over the group for long moments before Trini spoke up a bit hesitantly. "So, um, thanks. For telling me about my father. For being honest with me."
"You deserve that. I noticed you didn't seem all that shocked about my shittily-timed revelation."
Trini sighed and rubbed her face, hissing at the bruises and cuts she'd pretty much forgotten about.
"Oh, hey," Lucy said, uncoiling from the couch. "Let me get you something for those."
Nodding, Trini only hesitated a moment before giving in to her need to be close. Slinking around the footrest of Maggie's chair and Peggy's wagging tail, she sank down into Lucy's warm spot. "I've wondered for a long time if there wasn't something I was missing. My dad was pretty cool when I was little, but it didn't take much prodding from this," she stabbed wearily at her head, "to make him so distant I wondered if he cared about me at all."
An old memory assaulted Maggie, clear as day. Herself, dying inside from the pain and humiliation and loneliness of how her family had turned on her; curled up for protection just as Trini was now. And Aunt Marie's words came back to her, fell out of her mouth as she once again reached out and gave Trini's hand a squeeze.
"Genetics has nothing to do with doing good or wrong by a kid."
Trini blinked at her, rocked by the words.
"Something my Aunt Marie said to me when I came to her, just like you've come to me. I think it still applies."
Trini merely nodded and raised her eyes to where Lucy had been hovering at the small flight of steps. That was invitation enough and she stepped over to hand off a damp washcloth. "Mop your face off. You don't want this on dirty skin."
Doing as ordered, Trini groaned softly at the reminder of the abuses her face had taken recently. Dammi, that hurt! When she came up for air, Lucy was there with a couple of glops of some clear gel she'd scooped out of a plastic can she was holding.
"If you hold the can, that'll help ensure I don't get this shit in your eyes."
Chin tilted up, Trini let Lucy paint the cool gel over her bruises, breathing in the faint smell of aloe. "What is it?"
"A DMSO blend that will soak through your skin and break up the bruises."
Finished, she straightened up and wiped her hands on the washcloth. As Trini went to hand the can back, she caught sight of the label.
"Hey, this has a picture of a horse on it."
"That's because this is technically a veterinary product."
The matter-of-fact statement made the teens stare at her. Trini's voice was incredulous when she asked, "are you giving me horse medicine?"
Kim couldn't stop her bark of laughter. "I feel like I should make a horse-faced joke."
"Excuse you," Lucy sassed mildly. "Does it look like my looks have suffered from using it?"
Blushing and mumbling, Kim looked away while Maggie clamped down on her amusement over the whole spectacle. Trini eyed her almost accusingly and a snerk made its way through her self-control. It took a long moment before she could speak, and even then the amusement was clear in her tone.
"The U.S. won't sell the stuff for human usage, at least not commonly found. And it works wonders. You'll be fine."
Imperious and fearless as always, Lucy stalked over to Kim and shocked the girl by hooking a finger under her chin to bring her head up. Pinching the round chin, she turned the pretty face to one side and then the other, humming noncommittally. "You look remarkably unscathed after clawing your way through a truck roof."
"Yeah, I think my Hulk thing prevents any damage and even heals up stuff I might already have. Convenient, I suppose."
Before there were any more questions, Kim had an urgent one of her own.
"Do you guys have a shower I could use? I feel like the tail end of, well, being on the run for several days."
The stab at humor was a deflection and Lucy's expression told Kim that it hadn't gone unnoticed. But she relented gracefully. "Absolutely. It's past the little toilet room and our clothes."
"Through the back door of the trailer? We were really out of it earlier."
"Tell you what, go grab your stuff and I'll give you the nickel tour."
Before racing off, eager to be clean, Kim paused and stared intently where Trini was curled up like a cat, knees under her chin and leaning sideways into Lucy's chair. She was adorable, yet claws sheathed.
"You'll be okay?"
A faint, feline smile played around Trini's well-formed mouth and she nodded silently, her mind a brush of reassurance against Kim's.
Chapter 3: The Start of a New Chapter
There wasn't much in Kim's bag to change into, but there was a t-shirt and the ugliest pair of shorts she'd ever seen. Were these even hers? Ah well, the pertinent bits would be covered. Frankly, she was too wiped out to even haul her ass out to Jason's truck. Commando it was then.
"We'll figure out something better in the morning," Lucy said softly and Kim jumped a little, having forgotten she was there. Weirdly, her inner rage-monster merely grumbled at the small shock. "So we're not all tripping over one another."
Outside the door of the bedroom was a big room that was mostly storage holding a paired lifetime of clothes and clutter. There was a lot of black with splashes of color, and a riot of shoes from sexy stilettos to combat boots so beat up even a teenager had to wonder if they'd seen war. A stiff, formal jacket with a gold ribbon and more on the shoulder added to that impression. There was also an oversized windbreaker with big letters on the back that she'd bet said NCPD.
"The mess," Lucy introduced simply as she gestured about as she headed to the far end where there was a barn-style door in rough planks. "Take your time."
With a vague thank you, Kim wandered into the bathing area, taking in the big wooden tub, the Asian-inspired décor softening the rough surroundings. There was a showerhead sticking out of the plywood wall above a pan on the floor, and that was what she was after. Stripping, she started up the water and stood under the spray the moment it warmed.
As days of stress and filth washed away, Kim was happy to let her mind ease. Unsurprisingly, it turned to her new pal.
Kim couldn't understand why she was so ride-or-die for this girl. Sure, that empathy trick had made her feel like she could breathe again without fearing someone was going to die, but it felt more… personal than that. Like she'd seen something, some epiphany in those beautiful brown eyes, pupils gone to pinpricks as the train sped down on them.
Kim was ready for a change. Ready to throw away what she'd been, the hollow shell of popularity and mean girl that she'd put up like armor against a world that felt like it didn't care if she lived or died. As long as her grades stayed up.
It was no wonder she was full of impotent rage.
Having delivered Teen Two to the bath, Lucy returned to find the estranged relives sitting in an awkward silence. It reminded her of being around Lois and the aching, twisting, mixed emotions that never seemed to stay the same. So much of her own perceptions came from her fucking father and all of his own horrible prejudices and losses. Not the least was both of his wives, the mothers of his daughters, as different as their looks.
Lucy had been telling herself for months that she needed to reach out to Lois.
With a sigh at herself, she stepped into the mostly gutted bathroom in the trailer and grabbed the apricot oil blend she and Maggie liked. No friskiness this night, but she could help with that leg. She also grabbed a scrap of roast beef lingering on a plate in the kitchen.
"Hey guys," Lucy greeted her companions and dragged over the low table in the living room to park her ass on it. "Peggy, down."
Cradling Maggie's weak leg gave the dog room to painstakingly ooze to the floor.
"Good girl," Lucy praised and handed over the piece of meat as a reward before grabbing a light blanket from under the table. "Lose the pants, Sawyer."
It was the most embarrassed Lucy had ever seen her girlfriend and that included that little incident on Kara's roof!
"Bossy," Maggie muttered as she wrestled her jeans over her hips under the concealing blanket and Lucy stripped the snug denim away.
"Flattery will get you nowhere. Except maybe this."
The noise Maggie made as her oily hands smoothed over the wasted lower half of the healed left leg really wasn't appropriate to the company. Over the months, Lucy had gotten good at this, intuitively knowing just how and where to touch. It felt good to give something back to this unexpected soulmate and equal she'd found in Maggie.
"I swear I'm going to get Winn to design a FitBit with a lock on it so I can track your movements, pain in my ass. You'd think with all the goodies Lena plies your force with that they'd keep better track of you. I'm going to threaten the entire precinct with kale salad and saltines next time I'm in."
Trini's quirk of a grin echoed Maggie's low laugh and Lucy was grateful for both reactions.
When Maggie asked how Lucy had known she was needed and found out it was Ro that had called her, she fished out her phone from her discarded pants and hesitated over the thing. It was hard to believe it wasn't even ten pm yet; she was exhausted!
That it was just two hours-ish until April Fools did not escape her.
Taking a deep breath, Maggie tapped Ro's familiar name and then the mic button.
"Hey, packmate," Ro purred lowly, sounding sleepy and warm. It was comforting, and with Lucy and Trini by her side and knowing the rest of her oddball family were listening, Maggie quietly ran down what had happened. In the small gaps between her words, the droning rumble of the twin's purring carried over the line like a deep, monotone song.
By the time she wound down, Lucy's hands had definitely gone from massage to caress and even Trini had scootched closer, the hairsbreadth of space between them warm from their body heat.
"What can we do to help?"
Ro's gentle offer somehow still took Maggie off guard. No matter that Ro and Shan had been hers since that strange meeting beneath the truck in that dark hellhole, Maggie was still surprised.
"Help?" escaped her a little faintly and she could hear Shan's smile over the distance between them.
"We're your pack, Maggie. Your family is our family."
Maggie wanted to blame the fat tears on the booze still heavy in her system, wrecking her filters, but she was surrounded by loved ones, even the new one. It was a vulnerability she was still getting used to… even relishing.
"Thanks, guys," she managed to whisper and the purring was loud even over the speakers. For all these odd women had given Maggie, she had given back too. That thought bolstered her, made her smile, helplessly lovestruck, at a softly grinning Lucy. "I'll tell Trini about you so she can be excited to meet you."
"We look forward to it, Trini," Ro rumbled in that impossible way with her low voice a layer over the droning purr.
"Um, me too, I guess," Trini hedged, clearly curious about the sound and meeting more of the new life she'd come to. Shan's higher, sunnier voice broke in, gently cheerful.
"Do you need anything?"
Huffing a wet laugh, Maggie shook her head as though they could see her. "We'll be fine for a night and tomorrow we'll figure out something more permanent and private for Trini that keeps her close."
"We'll miss you," Lucy added warmly and the twins chuckle-purred.
"Same. We've enjoyed the slumber party with the bug, but will come home tomorrow," Ro assured them. "Sleep well. G'nite."
Worn out from her day, Maggie sagged boneless in her seat, the phone flickering dark as the connection was broken. The quiet was a surprisingly easy one, broken only by Kim's soft footfalls approaching. She paused at the steps when Trini's soft, stress-roughened voice carried through the quiet.
"Thanks, umm, Aunt Maggie. I really didn't know what I was gonna do." For a moment she paused before taking a deep, bracing breath. "I'm not going back." The very quietness of the words lent them weight, finality. "I can't. Not while I'm a danger to my family. I…" she had to swallow hard and her voice was shaky. "I'll run if I have to. Just keep running…"
Kim walked around the older women and offered her hands to pull Trini to her feet. For a moment, she just looked at the shorter girl, her expression inscrutable. When she did speak, her tone was dead serious.
"I go where you go, partner."
Despite the angst twisting her face and seeping out at the edges of her control, Trini smiled shyly and leaned in to bonk her forehead into Kim's shoulder. "You just want me for my push on your monster."
Kim took the hint to lighten up and teased, "it might have started out that, yeah, but I like you. Hey, the shower's great, I'll show you, come on."
The rush of eagerness swept over all four of them and the girls were off in a flurry of energy.
Trading a wry look with Maggie, Lucy used the peaceful moment to clean up and settle into her spot once more. The girl's voices carried in the echoing space outside and drifted in through the open rear door of the RV. But it was the burst of laughter that finally seemed to soothe the last of the stress in Maggie.
"If she can laugh, she's probably not broken, right?"
The whisper sounded a little desperate and Lucy pressed in to kiss her cheek. "From what I've seen, she's like you, Hot Cop. It'll take more than this to break her."
They stayed that way, just silently bonding to the sounds of new life in their lives, until the teens tumbled back into the main living space.
"Hey, this weird setup you have here is badass," Kim crowed in delight. "You said the whole building is being renovated?"
Maggie had been half-asleep and was blinking around the drag of the alcohol still in her system, so Lucy answered. "Yeah, some friends of ours inherited it and another friend is investing in the upgrades. I wouldn't doubt this thing will see another hundred years."
"Badass. It's a beautiful building."
"Well, the outside is," Trini chortled evilly in direct contrast to her high, girlish voice. It was good to hear her sound so normal for the time being, a testament to her resiliency. "Though that bang a few minutes ago startled me. Isn't it sorta late for construction workers?"
They joined the women, clearly more alert and curious about their surroundings now that they had slept and showered. With a fond smile, Maggie joined in on the running conversation. "They're here twenty four/seven. I don't even hear them anymore unless they do something weird. The investor has the cred to keep this site active and has a brutal deadline. It's a little worse since they got started on the manager's apartment directly across the hall."
"And they left you here…?" Trini's lilt of question was unmistakable and Maggie chuckled.
"To keep an eye on things. It was a low-stress moonlighting job and since I'm still on medical leave, which reminds me, I need to call my boss about that. Anyway, at the end of the mess and noise and living in this admittedly cushy trailer, I get a condo out of the deal."
The four of them killed some time just chatting, skirting the obvious subjects that would bring up all the tensions of what had brought the younger pair to Maggie and Lucy. Eventually the even pulled out a board game and had a remarkably nice, normal night.
It was a balm to ragged nerves and a sound start to a new chapter to all of their lives.
Chapter 4: The Queer Lady Brigade
One of my fave platonic OTPs is becoming Kim and Tilly. Hey, Kara and Alex are proof that you can find a sister anywhere, and Smoke 'N Fire and the Mini Brain will prove that again!
Also, Alex and Lucy yelling friendly insults at one another amuses me endlessly. It's also time to start handing out the hand puns. I've fingered Lucy and Susan for the bulk of the wordplay, because, duh.
The fantastic title and some of the killer dialog is once again thanks to theillogicalthinker. Love my brainmate!
They stayed up too late talking and determined to finish the Monopoly game. So Lucy's stomping out of the master bedroom startled the teens awake where they sprawled on one of the modular couches in the living room.
"Fuckin' hell, Danvers, did you have to be such an overachiever on my goddamn day off?"
Slamming open the main door, she vanished past the windows and metal on metal banging could be heard. Sleepy and comfortable side by side, Trini and Kim shared a look and a naughty giggle at the fiery Lucy's temper. Though the loud rattle of a rolling metal door got their attention, not to mention the babble of voices.
A lot of voices.
One in particular was engaged in an irately friendly shouting match with Lucy, every other word something filthy.
Too curious to resist, Trini left the bed and peeked around the open doorway to see that a crowd was filing into the gigantic room. Sunlight and fresh air poured in from behind the trailer, a glance through the windows showing that a large industrial door had been opened to the city. There was a flatbed truck there, unloading construction materials.
"What are they doing?" Kim whispered over Trini's shoulder and the smaller girl shook her head in wonderment.
Stuff was piling up against the walls, on the floor level some three feet lower than the sprawling deck. There was a brunette whose hair shone with red highlights that was Lucy's verbal sparring partner. She had a small kid on her back and was finally pulled away from the shouting with a sweet kiss from who was clearly her other half. There was at least one other woman couple, an attractive soft butch and a weary-looking redhead who was yawning her head off.
"Shit, it's like the Queer Lady Brigade," Trini admired and she and Kim sniggered with naughty giggles.
"Like FEMA(1), only with lesbians," Kim added in, enjoying Trini's laugh.
"Well, we range over a wide margin of the queer spectrum," Maggie added in dryly where she'd snuck up on the teens and made them jump. "Even some good, solid straight allies. Pay attention kids, there'll be a quiz later."
They gave her a 'ha ha' look that brightened to delight at the mugs of coffee waiting on the small kitchen island. They hadn't even heard her preparing the brew!
"Well, I better see what chaos they've brought me now," Maggie sighed as she grabbed her own coffee. Leaving the teenagers to watch the proceedings from the RV, Maggie strode out where Lena and Kyra were overseeing from the edge of the deck.
"Lena!" she mock bellowed and watched the billionaire jump and whirl on her. "You can't fix everything by throwing money at it!"
"Watch me!" Lena yelled back in a laughing tone and gestured at the supplies, nearly clipping Ro across the ear. "I like to help and this building project has open accounts with --get this-- eight different construction supply yards. So getting all of this was merely a few phone calls. Breakfast and coffee will be here any time now. Which I'm sure will bring Kara in."
Maggie swept into a deep bow and intoned ponderously, "I cede to your expertise, oh Queen of Damage Control." Lena just rolled her eyes while Kyra laughed. "But seriously, what is all this?"
"Your April Fools gift," Lena sassed and cracked Kyra up all over again.
Having deposited their load of long beams, the twins came over to stand at the railing, Ro shrugging and gesturing at the chaos. "Well, you made it clear that your niece was staying, so we're making her a little place to live."
Maggie did her best to recall exactly what she had said on the phone, but it was hazy, more an impression of love and caring than actual words.
"Maggie," Shan added in gently. "sometimes intent doesn't need words."
Leaning over the railing, Maggie hugged both of them to her, rubbing head and cheeks with them and pressing kisses to their cheekbones. "You guys are the best."
They nuzzled her back, kisses pressed to each dimple. "Are they hiding?" Ro chuckled and gestured at the trailer.
"In this racket, who can blame them?"
While Maggie was mostly kidding, she couldn't blame the strangers for hanging back. This crew could be a little overwhelming. In the best ways, sure, but still overwhelming.
Ecstatic to see her human, the old lab waited at the top of the short flight of steps and was quickly wrapped in a big hug. Grinning wildly, Angie pet the black fur and kissed all over Peggy's head.
"Were you a good girl?"
"She was the best," Maggie reassured her as she limped over. "I didn't expect the pleasant surprise of Lucy coming home, but the extra comfort was appreciated."
"Well, she loves this place at least as much as my tiny apartment. Frankly, she probably likes it more!"
Completely bewildered by the chaos, Trini and Kim watched through the living room window.
"Dude, you are related to the coolest people," Kim admired with awe and Trini tried to bristle around her own amazement. And failed miserably.
"I'm only related to one of them."
"They don't seem to care."
It was the truth. The squad of friends weren't just casually helping either, but pitched in with authentic enthusiasm. Even as Lucy and the redhead were still playfully arguing, others were getting started dismantling the ramp that led out towards the door they'd entered through last night.
"Should we help?"
Trini didn't know how to answer the question. She wanted to, but there were a lot of minds pressing in on her, energetic and bright. And they were underage and far from home. And…
And these strangers were building her a little place to live in. Just because they were Maggie's friends. It was pretty damn cool.
"Sure," she said nonchalantly, but Kim wasn't fooled for a moment, and not because that projecting empathy was a little leaky around the edges. Taking Trini's hand, she strode out into the fray, head held high. She'd faced tougher crowds than this.
Maggie was talking with the first woman couple, the redhead with her right arm slung over her partner's shoulders and the kid clinging to her leg. She projected an enticing combination of warmly maternal and total ass-kicker that drew attention, her lady soft against her side.
"Hey guys," Maggie greeted the teens warmly and gestured to the pair. "These are my friends Alex and Lena, and of course, their cute kid, Matilda."
Kim noted the shy child and the pair of adult smiles, her brain telling her that she was missing something. "Lena…" she mused to herself before it struck like a lightning bolt that made Trini jump as well. "Oh fuck me, you're Lena Luthor!"
Trini was completely startled to find the much larger Kim abruptly trying to hide behind her. She could feel the surprise and hurt rolling off the elegant brunette turn to amusement at the display.
"Big fan…" Kim barely managed to squeak out, completely star-struck. Trini just face-palmed. Alex didn't even try and hold back her amusement at the display, hugging Lena close to nuzzle at her ear. Whatever she said made Lena giggle prettily before she shoved off and tried to regain her composure.
"Well, thank you, ummm…" she was clearly fishing for a name, but Alex gave her a goose on the ass and got swatted for it. Maggie just chuffed a laugh and gestured to her charges, introducing them.
"Alex!" Lena finally hissed at her girlfriend's playfulness, but there was no heat to the rebuke and Tilly looked delighted at their play. Whatever sassy thing was clearly on its way out of Alex's mouth was interrupted by a shout from Lucy.
"Come on, not quite armed and dangerous. Grab a hammer and let's see if all that nerdy lab time has done you any good!"
"Armed. Hardy har, Lane, don't quit your day job. Well, come on, Bug, let's go see how this hand works with tools, shall we?"
"Field test!" Tilly crowed and hopped up onto Alex's left hand to swing up onto her back.
"Hey, I handed you that one," Lucy taunted where she was helping lift away pieces of the dismantled ramp.
"Eating out of your palm," Susan added dryly and looked innocent at Alex's flat look.
"Eh tu, Brutay?"
"Dude, we're gonna be talking smack all day."
Too embarrassed to stay near Lena, Kim slunk off, curious about the attractive stranger who had clearly stolen the heiress' heart. Completely amused with the ex-cheerleader's unexpected nerdiness, Trini trailed after her. Alex and Tilly were fussing over a hammer held in the oddly gloved hand.
"I can work on the 'ticulation later, Mama. By the thumb here, you can't tilt your wrist enough to use the hammer right."
"Well, let's see how well we do, eh?" Alex encouraged her youngster and noticed Kim approaching. Standing, she cupped her left hand around Tilly's head and offered her right. "Kimberly Hart. Alex Danvers. Welcome to National City and the weirdness we're famous for."
In Kim's favor, she only hesitated a moment to place her hand in Alex's, curious at the sensation of barely padded mechanicals closing around her flesh and bones.
"Cool. You built that?" Kim admired and Tilly jumped and pressed into Alex's side. "Wow. I can barely tell it's a prosthetic."
Unsure of herself around yet more strangers, Tilly only blinked at the teen, who scrambled for something else to say.
"You'll have to show it to our friend, Billy. He can talk to machines." That piqued Tilly's interest and Kim brightened as the kid relaxed, her voice getting more excited. "We outraced a train that way!"
Maggie shrugged where she'd wandered over with Lena. "Don't look at me, Danvers, this part of the story is new to me."
Alex smirked, but focused on her daughter, wrapping the left arm around her small frame. "Hey sweetie. I think Kim here is just trying to make friends."
Pleasantly surprised, Tilly chewed her nail for a moment, thinking things out, and then looked back up at the awkward teen.
"I don' always know how to act aroun' people. I'm new at this."
Kim shrugged and her smile was gentle. "I'm a teenager and new to being a Metahuman. I have no idea what's going on."
It got the laugh she wanted, Alex huffing a small sound to Tilly's giggle.
(1) FEMA = Federal Emergency Management Agency. From Wikipedia: The agency's primary purpose is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities.
Chapter 5: Claim It As Mine
This might be just about my favorite Kara moment, right there towards the end. Classic!
Breakfast arrived in the form of an honest-to-Abe 'roach coach'(1), complete with a friendly-faced Mexican team serving up some of the finest food anyone had ever tasted.
"They came highly recommended and were willing to make a quick stop at the end of their regular run," Lena explained as she nibbled her way through a paper tray of scrambled eggs and chorizo and fresh veg. She filched bits and pieces from Alex while Bug picked at both their offerings as well as a tasty little burrito just for her. Kim hovered nearby, chowing down on her own burrito that was half the size of her head.
It shouldn't feel so weird to not be the center of her attention… should it?
"And for you, Senorita?" the kindly man taking their orders asked, recognizing kinship in Trini's facial features. Reflexively, she balked, but then paused. There was nothing in the man's inquiry nor his attention that was anything but benign.
And her mother wasn't there to stiffen at the Spanish word.
She remembered suddenly, the bombshell of the man named Jose that Maggie was sure was her biological father. That was going to take some processing.
"Um, I'm sorry, uh, Senor. Can I have the number four plate?"
"Of course, mi cielo!"
It felt good to use the Spanish word, to reclaim some tiny part of the heritage kept from her.
Maggie stepped up and ordered a staggering amount of food, so much so that Trini looked as nonplussed at the order taker. Then she noted the tall, furry twin Metahumans hovering over at the building's door, looking eager and reluctant. One was engaged with a huggy Lucy, the other staring at the truck, catching Trini's gaze. She was clearly torn between bristling defensively and really wanting to interact. Trini didn't need her stupid superpower to figure that out. To wear your differentness so blatantly, Trini couldn't even image how hard that must be.
Food was a welcome distraction.
With bellies soothed, the crowd returned to the building project. Trini noted that no one asked any searching questions, despite waves of curiosity, merely engaged her casually in what they were doing if she wandered close. It wasn't at all what she was used to, being involved, being paid attention to by her elders in a calm, soothing way.
Trini very much felt like she was being eyeballed like an adorable new pet or project, the crowd's attention alighting and then skittering away with varying frequency. She couldn't really blame them, and they were being so damn nice about it, she couldn't really take it too personally. Kim was happy as a golden retriever in a room full of strangers, making a happy nuisance of herself and mostly sticking close to Lena Luthor and her little family. Trini wallowed in those happy emotions soothing the empty spaces in her pal where she was so attention-starved.
She hammered nails and sawed wood and held things level as the piles became a frame. It was some sort of shed kit they were adapting to stand taller than intended to accommodate a loft. An even smaller wing was being added, a big plastic pan with a drain hole and some sort of waterless toilet indicating it would be a bathroom.
Eventually, she ended up buddying up to the twins, too curious to stay away, finding them willing to quietly allow her into their space. The intent quietude was a relief and Trini could concentrate on them as individuals as well as a unit. their busy minds as similar as their looks, but clearly distinct. Ro ran quieter and calmer, but there was an underlying intensity to her that must be spectacularly terrifying when she snapped. In contrast, Shan was sunnier and busier, her mind and emotions lightning-quick.
Maggie watched fondly as Ro hoisted Trini up so that she could scramble onto the roof joists of the project and help Shan out. With those two watching over her, the teen was in good hands.
It was a relief to see her take to the twins, the other half of the weird family pack Maggie had fallen into. So much so that she felt like she could finally retreat back to the trailer to sit and take it easy. She'd been powering through hangover and the constant ache of her freshly-knit leg bones for Trini's sake.
Being part of this crazy clan had been good for all parties, not the least of which was the good lesson to take care of oneself as well as those you cared about.
Like iron to a magnet, Lucy drifted over to curl up under Maggie's arm like a cat, snuggling in with a yawn. "Up too early," she muttered with all the threat of a newborn kitten and glowered at Alex, who had followed her. "S'my day off."
When it was clear Alex was winding up for another round of verbal sparring, Maggie waved her down and gripped Lucy hard enough to make her whine in complaint.
"Enough already. I don't have the brainspace today, please guys."
They settled into the relative quiet provided by the enclosed space. Though Lucy must have been making faces as Alex stuck her tongue out at her. When a body filled the open door nearby, Maggie didn't even need to twist around to see who it was; Alex's instant delight gave it away.
Sure enough, Lena's merry voice carried to them even as her footfalls made the short flight of steps 'thunk'. "There's my handsome Tiger!"
Alex glared but happily accepted Lena dropping into her lap for a cuddle. "Are you picking up the hand puns now too? Did Susan put you up to that?"
The kittenishly playful and guilty look suited Lena's good looks and Maggie scoffed in amusement at the flirting.
"Traitors," Alex complained with no heat and accepted sweet kisses to distract her. Maggie ignored them, her eye drawn past their canoodling to the construction site beyond the living room window where Trini was helping Kim up into the roof trusses where the three Mutates already held court.
"I have no idea what to do with her," Maggie said quietly, barely aware she'd spoken out loud. "But I have to do something."
Her hurt was a palpable thing, instantly garnering the attention of her friends. The silence was an awkward one in the strain of helplessness.
"What about a school?"
Alex's question was so unexpected that everyone immediately focused on her.
"I'm serious. Those two are going to need to finish high school and there's no way in hell there aren't more just like them. And Lena, you wanted to get more public awareness and education out there. What better way?"
"What happened to teasing me that I can't fix everything by throwing money at it?"
Lena's teasing startled Alex so much her reaction was comical. "Hey! I--"
A sweet kiss stopped her protesting before they returned their attention to Maggie, who was clearly taken with the idea. Lena's grin was a mile wide as she added in, "besides, no normal school will ever keep up with Tilly. Cat's already made some noises about something along these lines. Carter would be a charter member as well, the smart lad, and now Ruby is here to add the weight of a more normal kid."
"Did I hear my name?"
They all jumped and twisted to see that Cat herself had stepped in with a smirk.
"Nice timing," Alex greeted her and Lena hopped up to go jump on Sam, Ruby and Kara, who trailed in after Cat.
"And you know what the best part is?" Cat asked them as she swept in. "If we play our political cards right, Lena, we can use a school as leverage to get our hands on the rest of this whole block."
Lena looked torn, excitement mixed with hesitance. "That's ruthless."
"Nonsense, they'll get their money's worth and most developers would just put in more unsightly parking. Speaking of which, I'm in a bidding war for that center building and one of the empty lots on the other side of the alley, so we should get moving on this ASAP."
Alex would never get used to the casual way these two were about money, but it certainly had its uses.
Trini noted that new people had come in, this time through the regular entry door.
"That totally looks like Cat Grant," she mused thoughtfully and earned the most fascinating sound of amusement from the twins. If cats could laugh, that rolling purry noise would totally be it.
"No way," Kim scoffed where she was settling a big sheet of plywood into place with one of the twins' help. It took a little effort to tell them apart, but there were definitely differences. They were a fascinating mix of overeager and intensely wary. It was a little exhausting to her mind, but she got it. Strangers were never easy.
Mischievous now, Trini pointed her hammer at Kim and teased, "just hours ago you were a lesbian mess over Lena Luthor and the possibility of another celebrity sighting has you doubtful? Seriously Hart?"
Blushing, she muttered, "bisexual," and Trini rolled her eyes.
As blasé as Trini might be on the surface, there was a surge of elation at the knowledge that there might actually be a chance for the weird something between them to be more than just friends.
The shy grins they shared felt like a new level.
With the shoptalk over real estate and starting up a school growing more intricate, Kara gave into her boredom and wandered out of the RV to see what the others were up to. Besides, she was pretty sure she had seen Angie and was both eager and reluctant to see her…
Right on cue, Angie's voice called out merrily, "there's my favorite superhero!"
The reflexive panic was so acute that Kara's mind blanked for a moment, the railing under her hand tearing loose. Eliza and the twins had frozen as well, just out of sight of Angie, who laughed.
A loose, warm, delighted laugh that rippled up against Kara's panic like a soothing tide, and left her all the more bamboozled. "Su… superhero?"
"Oh come on, have you forgotten my Thor jokes already?"
The wave of relief left Kara lightheaded and her voice was a little shaky, "oh, right, of course! And here I am ripping up this poor railing which clearly wasn't nailed in very well! Ha ha!"
Eliza could only marvel how a pretty girl they could be interested in would turn both daughters into stammering messes. She sidled over and put a hand on the chunk of railing, which upon any sort of inspection had been quite thoroughly nailed in, and had to wait a moment before Kara noticed her and released her grip. Eliza would have to find a discrete way to get rid of the wood and its telltale finger dents.
Leaving Kara to her fate, Eliza wandered off to the RV to see if she could find a place to stash or trash the damaged wood. Inside, the gang there paused in their lively discussion to greet her. Grinning wryly, she approached Alex to brush a maternal hand over her head.
"I feel I need to apologize again for being so hard on you about protecting Kara. She just had a complete meltdown over being flirted with by Angie. Oh, and the new railing by Trini's front door will need to be repaired."
"No!" Alex cackled at the damaged wood, the whole group of them laughing uproariously at their poor, hapless superhero. Jumping up to hug her mother, Alex waved her into her seat and went to check in on her sister, who was doing her embarrassed best to carry on a conversation with Angie. At least now she had her hands locked behind her back for safekeeping…
"Nosy!" Lucy berated as she jabbed Alex in the back to get out of the doorway. "We're taking a break because even my lawyer brain has had enough for the moment and I need to hit something. Damn but your woman is smart!"
So the school-building party waded back into the fray to help construction work get moving again.
(1)= 'roach coach' - A food, truck, of the portable kitchen variety.
I have no idea how common of parlance this expression is, I just remember it from my childhood back when food trucks weren't so popular.
Chapter 6: Find A Place To Fit In
In Kara's defense... it isn't her fault this time.
It was over lunch that Maggie called Trini out on it.
Michael and her marvelous little baked packets of deliciousness were the fare this time, the group pigging out and talking animatedly among themselves. Maggie came to rest at Trini's elbow, amused at how the girl stared quizzically at Kara.
"You figured it out, huh?"
She earned a sharp, defensive look made Maggie swallow down a blast of anger towards her father and sister. How dare they stifle down this wild spark! Then Trini rallied with a smirk and deadpanned, "what? She's just cute."
Cracking up, Maggie grabbed Trini's shoulders to turn her and shove her over to where Alex was chatting with her mother and Cat.
"Junior here has something to tell you, Agent Badass."
Trini had brushed up against a lot of minds and emotions, but this woman was in a class of her own. She was like standing in front of an intense blast furnace, yet gave away surprisingly little. It took a moment for Trini to visibly shake off her fascination, and it wasn't because Agent Badass was really pretty!
"So, uh, I can feel everyone in the room, right? And I can even pick out individuals, except…"
Her gaze darted around and Alex's smile was gentle, tinged with a resignation Trini didn't understand. "Go ahead, I doubt whatever you need to say will be a shock to any of us."
"Okay, if you're sure. So, the blonde with the glasses? Yeah, she's a total blank, like she's not even here. Because, yeah, I know what gay panic looks like and that was a bad one, and I felt nothin'. And that's only happened once before, which was yesterday when Supergirl dropped in to protect Maggie. The blank, not the gay panic. Y'know, just to clarify."
Cat Grant --cause it was definitely her-- covered a chuckle with a raised hand while Alex and the other blonde sighed and rubbed their foreheads totally in sync.
"Hey Kara!" Alex called out and the blonde in question jumped as though tazed and looked over. She and Angie both looked somewhat annoyed and relieved at the interruption. "Sorry to steal her, Angie, but I have someone she's gotta meet."
Awkwardly excusing herself, Kara stumbled up the steps and there might have been a crackle of stressed wood at the top. Trini marveled at her. This admittedly hot dork was Supergirl? She adjusted her glasses and shook herself out before walking over to Alex, who wrapped an arm around her.
"You two haven't actually been introduced. Kara, this is Trini Kwan, Maggie's niece."
Grinning like the poster child for 'Age of the Geek, Baby', Kara thrust out a hand and Trini only hesitated a moment before accepting the shake. There was nothing strange about her quick, hearty handshake. Maybe her skin was a tiny bit overwarm, but nothing weird. She was all slightly nervous body language and an overeager smile, but it was utterly disconcerting to have someone so clearly emotive be a complete blank to the strange ability she had.
Seeing something in Trini's expression, Alex added in gently, "Kara is my younger sister. Adopted. From out of town."
Kara's clear bewilderment and alarm was almost funny. Trini was confused by the hard lump of emotion in her throat and the prick of tears she self-consciously scrubbed at. "I'm fine," she groused at the stereo concern she could feel. "It's just weird to have someone I can't feel anything off of. Makes me realize how much… noise I really deal with."
Giving her a moment to get a grip, Alex smiled at her alarmed sister. "It turns out it's not just Martians that can't get a thing from your mind, sis. That little trick works on Humans too."
Realization swept over Kara then, of meeting the teens out on the street, and Trini watched the most fascinating transformation sweep over her. Like an actor shedding a role, Kara's whole body language changed, becoming guard dog focused, almost menacing. And just as quickly, it vanished behind the nerdy façade and Trini understood how it worked. Without a good clue, no one would ever suspect they were one and the same.
"Cool," she breathed out. The adoration and concern from Alex and the older blonde, and a tamped down echo from Cat Grant herself, clued Trini into some of what was going on. She'd seen the news footage of some of the crazy shit Supergirl dealt with in National City, the danger of it all. And these people really cared about her, and even without being able to feel it, Trini could see that the alien in their midst loved them right back. "I get it. You're protecting them."
For a long moment, Kara watched her shrewdly before nodding. "That's most of it, yes. And there's a real value in a normal life."
Again, Trini's throat was tight and her eyes watery. "Yeah. Yeah, I get that."
"My boss is going to need to speak with you," Alex told Trini gently. "Don't worry, he doesn't bite. Besides, it'll be interesting to see how a mindreader stands up against what you can do, huh?"
Wiping her eyes again, Trini was curious. "Is he a Metahuman too?"
"Nope. A Martian."
That perked Trini right up. "Really?"
"Yup. Come take a load off and I'll give him a call."
Even as Maggie gently prodded Trini to follow Alex, she paused and flashed a mischievous grin to a distracted Kara. "Oh, and hey, your pal there? The nice lady with the dog? Totally thinks you're adorable and hot."
Kara looked supremely startled and flushed around her ears, making her seem all the more Human. Choking down a laugh, Maggie shoved a little more forcefully and muttered, "troublemaker."
And that was how Trini found herself curled up on the same couch she'd slept on, surrounded by powerful women. The Danvers sisters sat on the floor, a fascinating dichotomy in how Kara clearly deferred to Alex, despite being a superpowered alien. Maggie had taken her usual seat with the older blonde who turned out to be Mom Danvers, which was cool. Rounding out the strange party was no less than the famous, successful and stupidly rich Cat Grant and Lena Luthor.
The energies in the room were a trip, because all of them were clearly really commanding in their own ways, and yet, Trini didn't feel intimidated. That couldn't be an accident either. They were all so laid back that when Alex asked, Trini spilled the entirety of her last week.
It was easier this time, putting words to the craziness. From the strange meeting at the mine, to the race with the train, the near-riots her gift had nearly caused, Kim tearing apart both their houses…
Her voice faltered at the memory of her mother's violent backhand, the bruises throbbing like they were fresh again. Unfortunately she could feel Kim's alarm in response to her own stress, the surprised noises of the adults around her.
"You're okay, Trini," Maggie said gently, daring to place a hand on her bent head. It helped her focus, battle down her own demons to make sure that Kim didn't become one. Still, there was a clatter of sneakered feet and Kim appeared to flop down beside her and snuggle in close.
"Y'know, we're going to have to figure out something with your folks," Alex mused and the blast of alarm was like a bomb going off, every intelligent mind in three blocks flinching like a grade A jump-scare. There were feelings and sounds of alarm as Kim tensed and went dark around the edges, Trini instantly pressing for calm.
For long moments, they ignored the strangers around them, caught up in their own push and pull, heads pressed close. In moments Kim was herself again, nodding at the silent sensation of curiosity and Trini reluctantly took her hand away from her soft hair.
Remembering their audience, the girls squirmed in embarrassment. Deliberately ignoring the others, Trini focused on Alex, who waved her off with unnerving calm. "It's okay. I promise that dealing with your folks does not equate to 'get the fuck out'. Whew, that is some punch you've got there." Her grin was warm and admiring before she went thoughtful again. "What we need is a plan."
Trini was completely nonplussed. No one had ever just… shaken her off before. She'd lashed out hard in her alarm and Alex had barely flinched.
"What's wrong, Trini?"
Honesty had rarely gone well for Trini since these stupid superpowers had started up, but she found it falling out of her mouth anyway. "You barely reacted. And I hit you hard!"
"Yeah, I felt it." The very matter-of-factness of the answer flustered Trini all the more, but she was calmed by Alex's gentle smile. "I deal with worse and weirder, I promise you that. Besides, I told you, my boss can read minds. Boy, was that a shocker to me when I found out."
In the comfort of acceptance, of big-sister mischief, of a mind strong enough to hold up under the force of what she could do; Trini found some peace. And her smile was a shyer reflection of the one Alex gifted her with.
"I've actually been wondering several things over the course of your story. For instance, Metahumans are pretty rare. Hell, here in NC, they're probably rarer than Aliens. Yet there are five of you in a close age bracket in a city the size of Angel Grove --which I'm familiar with as I grew up in Midvale-- and you somehow found one another at random?"
Nodding at the slew of words, Trini hesitated before once again the truth won out.
"I've been wondering if it wasn't me."
Really, that laser-intense dark stare was something else, but Alex remained gentle. "Go on."
"Well your friends with the tails feel a little different, but it's pretty obvious they're different."
"And Metahuman, yes. Anyone else?"
"Ummm… yeah, the tall Latina that came in late, and maybe the kid with her? I'm not sure. But I did get a little twinge off her, yeah."
"Remarkable," Lena breathed out wonderingly and Alex's smile was the warmest yet.
"I might just have a job for you, Trini."
To give Trini a little mental breathing room, Kim bravely gave her version of events and what her startling Metahuman power was, since they'd only seen the black fizzy edges of her. For the time being, they all played dumb when she talked about Supergirl's arrival the day before as she clawed her way out of Jason's poor truck. The memories of what she'd done still clearly haunted her and Trini didn't hesitate to lean into her shoulder. The way Kim looked at her, like she was some sorta hero, gave Trini a rush she'd never felt before.
"I felt like I was drowning until I met her," Kim admired softly, holding Trini's soft gaze. "That would have been reason enough to stick like a bad cold, but I like her too."
The girls smiled shyly at each other, forgetting for long moments they had such attentive company. They quickly flushed lightly and tried to act as though nothing had happened.
No one was fooled, but said nothing.
Clearing her throat, Kim said quietly, "it's pretty cool how chill you guys are about all this weirdness."
"Cop," Maggie said simply, gesturing at herself and then flicking her fingers at Alex. "FBI. As is Lucy. And all of us deal with a lot of Alien crimes. Mom Danvers there is an experienced biologist with a specialization in xenobiology, and Cat and Lena hardly need an introduction. You're not at all the weirdest thing we've dealt with, and a hell of a lot more reasonable then some."
Perking up a bit from her little mope, Kim looked around at the group. Seeing that the confessions were cheering the girl, Kara volunteered next, her tone dry. "I was Cat Grant's personal assistant for more than two years. Your smoke and claws routine will hardly faze me."
The gang laughed and Cat shot her former assistant a fond glare. "And managed to befriend me, which is not at all my usual MO. Besides, my claws are much longer and sharper than yours, Pinky."
The teasing was gentle and both teens wallowed in the sense of home in these people.
Chapter 7: Feels Like Home
At a later date, I have a confrontation with Maggie and sister over Trini, as well as bringing in the guys and starting up the school for real. Stay tuned!
Also, as usual, Lucy keeps upping the ante. Alex really needs to find a way to get her back! lol
PS: As requested my dear Pickle, a 'brrp'!
After the relaxed yet charged meeting with the grownups, the teens were happy to escape out to the worksite to marvel at the progress. The frame was done, towering a good fifteen feet at the roofline and half the sheeting was up. Tilly bounded from the roof to the railing to the deck with envious dexterity and started to make a fast beeline for Kim, only to hesitate. Grinning, the ex-cheerleader braced herself like she was about to take a football hit and opened her arms.
Radiant with glee, Tilly did her best tackle, nearly knocking the wind out of herself and blinking off the hit. Kim didn't even register it, hugging the child like they'd been friends forever.
As they once more pitched in, the teens noticed with fascination that the Mutates didn't talk directly to one another much, unless it was to clarify something, or distances were involved. There were soft cat and birdlike noises and lots of sniffing and tail postures.
The tiger-sized 'brrp' of curiosity was the biggest hit. Particularly when Kim made it right back. Trini enjoyed the warm joy and calm that had slowly relaxed the furry twins, felt the echoes of their noises to their emotions. She'd never had a pet, but this was way better.
The pack of powerful women eventually spilled back out into the larger space, Alex and Lucy once again haranguing one another while Maggie laughed and egged them on. Kara did an almost perfect impression of Cat's affectionate headshake while Eliza just grinned behind them.
"I don't know if I should call your Alex, 'Coach' or 'Dad'," Kim mused half to herself and half to the kid wrapped around her like a jetpack.
Tilly asked that a lot, ever curious about the world around her. It felt good to be needed in a way that Kim could rise to the challenge of, to interact without fear of the monster inside of her.
"Well, your Mommy is very soft and nice--"
"--and your Mama is also very nice, but more… not bossy exactly, but more focused and to the point. Coaches are like that, to keep their teams on task and to be safe and to maximize their skills."
"Are you on a team?"
The question caused a stab of sadness and loss that had Trini looking over sharply. But it was the pain of a mental bruise, of something lost that was not to be regained and the smoke and fire kept to the shadows.
"I was, but I did something bad to a teammate and they threw me off the team, which is only fair."
"You miss it," Tilly observed quietly, rubbing her skull up against Kim's, and the older girl sighed.
"I do. It was good to belong to something, a kinda family."
"I dinnit have a family until Mama found me. I kinda had Ro and Shan, but we weren't allowed to get close, and now they have a family too!"
There was a story there, but Kim chose not to pursue it for now.
"But why 'Dad'?"
Kim's laugh was pure delight and she rubbed Tilly's head affectionately. "Because she totally has a 'nice dad' personality."
"She cannot be a dad, she's a girl," Tilly harrumphed.
"We'll call it a nickname then, okay? Like she calls you Bug."
That was enough to appease Tilly and she brightened once more. "Okay!"
From below them, Maggie's amused voice floated up. "And besides, it'll give Danvers an excuse to make terrible dad jokes."
"She needs an excuse?" Lucy sassed and ducked away from a half-hearted head slap. Lena just tucked herself into Alex's side and Lucy was utterly forgotten.
"Do you think they'll let me call them Mom and Dad?" Kim stage-whispered to get a giggle out of her new sidekick, but one didn't need to be a Metahuman empath to hear the longing there.
Tilly giggled all the harder at the mock gagging noises from Lucy that had Kara covering her mouth to hide her grin. It also interrupted a very sweet kiss and made Alex glower balefully. Lena just patted her belly and happily gave Lucy crap.
"Lucy, stop being an ass and go pound some wood."
Blinking, Lucy looked around like she was waiting for a camera crew to jump out and yell 'gotcha!'
"Did you really just leave me a suggestive opening like that?"
That sweet of a smile should not look so dangerous, but Lena managed it with style to spare.
"Lucy Lane, you hussy. I'm spoken for and you know it."
Spluttering in the fakest rage, Lucy paused where she had been climbing up to stand on the railing in preparation to get to the roof. "Do you see this sass-holery? Unbelievable!"
With the opening number concluded to laughter and applause, the gang got back to work. Maggie collared Trini and Kim to herd them over to the conversation pit beside the trailer and sat them down with a laptop and the IKEA website open. "Pick what you want for your little dorm, kid, and don't worry about the money. The Duo of Many Zeros will cheerfully and charismatically make you comply, so don't skimp. Later, we'll move it all to something more permanent, so get stuff you like."
"Thanks, Aunt Maggie."
That would keep the kids occupied for a few hours and a shopping service already waiting on Lena's email would take care of the delivery. Maggie marveled that none of it even fazed her anymore.
Someone had smartly sent rockwool insulation instead of dangerous and itchy fiberglass, so the gang could install it without respirators. Maggie felt good in getting back into the twin's space, giving each a big hug and sweet words of thanks for their hard work. She pitched in for a bit, cutting and setting insulation, hammering pre-finished sheets of wall panels into place over it. Kyra and Bug were doing the same up in the loft while Reba ran the table saw outside.
The feeling of community was real.
The worksite was less of a mess than expected, the shed kit reducing loose debris and the women keeping tidy. Angie cheerfully assured Maggie that she had the cramped little bathroom well in hand.
"Besides, no one else could fit in here right now!" She laughed and waved a wrench over her shoulder in lieu of a smile.
"Hey, thanks for helping."
"My pleasure. It feels good to get my hands dirty on some good, honest work."
Speaking of work…
Calling her captain to request an additional week off due to a family emergency was not her favorite thing, but at least she got to see the Meta teens meet the pair of disguised Martians when they arrived. While there was some mutual fascination with J'onn, Trini was clearly uncomfortable with him. Not so with M'gann. Smitten was the best word Maggie could come up with to describe the girl's open delight and the hilariously poor attempt to be tough about it. Good. That relationship would be good for both of them.
With Martians, Mutates and IKEA keeping the teens occupied, Maggie finished up her phone call and returned to the trailer. To her enormous amusement, Lucy and Lena were sprawled on their bellies at the laptop, shoulders pressed together. With legs waving lazily in the air and mismatched kitty socks on their feet, the pair of them looked more like teens than the actual ones outside. Their rambling on and on and on about the school had chased off everyone but Cat and Sam, who chatted on the couch closest to the outside action. Every now and then, they'd toss in their two cents or tap at their phone.
Maggie figured she was getting a real look at the drudgery parts of their jobs. Minus the kitty socks.
"They mostly have the raw basics figured out," Cat informed her with a smirk as she walked over. "Certainly as much as can be sussed out in a single day anyway. And it's been greatly entertaining to watch Lena's insatiable need to help keep a check-balance on Best Lane's line of logic. Which I've noticed when it comes to live sentient beings, isn't always that great."
Rolling onto her back, Lucy stared up at the ceiling and made some ridiculous hand motions. There was a tension under her blunt tone that spoke more clearly than mere words. "Look, all sass-holery aside, I have no idea what I'm doing with these small human creatures. Well, dependant Human creatures anyway. Kimmie towers over me. Drama."
Grunting with the effort, Maggie sat beside Lucy and brushed her hair away from her striking face. Even stressed and petulant, she was the most gorgeous woman Maggie'd ever had the pleasure of meaning something to, and it was more than her looks. The fire and drive and smarts of her was intoxicating.
"Yeah, but you like them, despite yourself. Me too. And they're gonna be at least partially a work project anyway, because no one wants them going rogue."
"Or starving to death."
That was the Lucy she knew and loved. Heaving a chuckling sigh, Maggie laid down to rest her head on Lucy's shoulder and nuzzle at her cheek. "So, what do ya say? Ready to be a guardian?"
"At least their teenagers and not, like, eggs," Lucy grumbled but there was no heat to it and her kisses over Maggie's face were adoring.
Approaching footsteps announced Susan stepping in, her muttering full of amused consternation. "Stupid, charismatic, clueless Alex."
No one held back from laughing.
"I'm not sure if the new Hart is smitten or wants to be adopted, but it's cute. And your Trini is torn between her fascination with Alex and M'gann. The poor, wee baby gays!"
Maggie laughed harder than all of them, sassing, "at least she is now happily collared and leashed and not so dangerous to the unwary woman-loving-woman."
Grabbing a beer, Susan joined the group, smacking Maggie's upraised hand in an awkward high-five as she passed.
"She's right though, your wife is hot."
For a moment, everyone was shocked, Sam merely smirking as she had caught them all out.
"Sam!" Lena hissed in cartoon outrage while her pal just dissolved into merriment. Hopping up, she swatted at Sam's shoulder. "We're not married, oh my god!"
"Yet, maybe," Sam muttered into her wine glass and Susan nearly choked on beer and laughter, while Lucy and Maggie brayed in amusement.
"It almost sucks that you two are so into each other, 'cause I'm jealous as hell."
The stifled sound of high-pitched amusement that whistled out of Lucy sounded almost painful and Sam's eyes were wide from her own comment.
"Oh my god, I can't believe I said that! What's in this wine, Lena?"
And Lena dissolved into completely embarrassed hysterics. As though she had been invisibly cued, Alex herself appeared in the doorway, smiling and sexily disheveled. "What?" she asked in bewilderment as they all groaned and threw napkins at her. "You guys are so damn weird."
Shaking her head at the antics of her friends, Alex nonetheless joined them. Lena moved away from the computer to commandeer her lover's lap and snuggle.
"So the gang is touching up the dorm and getting on building the stuff from the delivery. Turns out the hand is still having trouble wielding a tool that needs to be parallel to my arm, so we'll have to do some more tweaking on articulation."
"Lena likes it hands on!" Lucy leered.
"I can attest to that firsthand," Lena teased warmly and pressed kisses to Alex's unimpressed pout. That complete, she grinned slyly and her voice was a low, sexy purr. "We're working on sensitivity, but my tiger has never left me complaining." A long, slow kiss left Alex so red she looked like she'd stuck her head in a furnace. "And, for the record, I love both your hands."
"Hey, so one is metal and plastic. So's a dildo," Lucy taunted gleefully. "As long as your lady is happy, what are you worried about?"
With only a moment of mechanical hesitance, the right hand moved to flip Lucy off.
Outside, Trini and Kim paused over the stacks of IKEA goodies to soak up the riot of laughter pouring out of the trailer. It mixed with the twins wrestling the heavy foam mattress into the loft of the shed and the chattering and busyness of the rest of the chaotic clan of friends and family.
It felt foreign.
It felt right.
It felt like home.