“Kara!” Alex yells up the stairs. “We gotta get going, it’s a big day!”
Sure, they’re running late, the house is a mess and she can’t find the electricity bill she desperately needs to pay, but Alex can’t wipe the smile off her face. She slathers peanut butter on the last of Kara’s four sandwiches and shoves them in a paper bag. A blur of color whizzes past, the the bag is gone from her hands, and Kara stands at the table shoving a stack of papers into her bag.
“How was the study date?” Alex asks as she takes her last few sips of coffee.
“It wasn’t a date!” Kara says all too fast, her cheeks turning red.
“Sure,” Alex says with a smirk. “But if I had been invited to the Luthor mansion to study with the most popular girl in school, I’d be owning it.”
She raises her hands in defeat. “Okay, okay.” She catches a glimpse of the time on her watch. “Fuck. We’re late.”
Kara perks up. “Can I fly us??”
“No, get in the car.”
“You’re no fun,” Kara grumbles as she trudges out of the house.
“Guardians aren’t supposed to be fun, they’re supposed to make sure you don’t die or get discovered by the government.”
The ride to school is the same as always, Alex mentally prepares for her day of wrangling high schoolers to do sport and Kara scribbles away, doing a last minute bit of homework.
They pull to a stop outside Midvale High and Kara shoves her things into her bag.
“Good luck with your English test,” Alex says, “and I’ll see you fourth period.”
Kara frowns. “I don’t have P.E. today, though.”
“How could you forget? Kara, it’s the most important day of the year. Street smarts.”
She tries to hold back her laughter as she watches all of the emotion drain out of Kara’s body, she watches as Kara loses all will to live.
“I hate you so much.”
“Have a good day, kid.”
“You ready, Danvers?” Lucy asks as soon as Alex walks into the teachers’ lounge.
“For the best day of the year? You bet your ass I am.”
Lucy hands her a coffee, wistfully staring into the distance.
“Can you remember what our lives were like before the Hot Maniac?”
“We had nothing to look forward to,” Alex replies. “Only sweaty teenagers who refuse to follow instruction.”
“And who constantly try to blow up my lab,” Lucy adds.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Sam asks.
“Oh, Sam. Poor, naive, new Sam,” Lucy says, putting an arm around her. “Hot Maniac Day is the best day of the year.”
“It started a few years ago,” Alex explains. “For years - ever since I was a student - they had this guy, this ex-detective Bittenbinder, who’d come in and teach us how to like, not get kidnapped. He was a child homicide expert.”
“Street Smarts!” Lucy yells, in a thick Chicagoan accent. “God, I miss that man.”
“Anyway,” Alex continues in between sips of coffee, “he retired a few years back and his replacement is hot. Like, really hot.”
“Like made Danvers realise she was a lesbian hot,” Lucy says. “Which is extra hilarious because Hot Maniac is as colorful a character as her predecessor.”
“So it’s basically some hot weird chick who comes in and teaches the kids how to stay safe?”
“I don’t understand what’s so great about that,” Sam says.
“Oh, you’ll see.”
The bell rings, signalling first period and Lucy stretches as she stands up.
“Only three periods to go,” she grins.
A cacophony of impatience sounds throughout the gym, students packed into the bleachers like sardines. Notoriously cheap, the vice principal had only sprung for one Street Smarts session, so the entire middle and high school was packed into the gym, filling every last seat as well as sitting on the floors in front.
Alex stands with Lucy and Sam, to the side of the gym.
“Thanks for partnering Kara with Lena for their science project,” Alex murmurs as she watches Kara in the stands. She sits next to Lena, who laughs at something she’s just said. “I’m worried about her, she doesn’t have many friends.”
“Don’t mention it. Although, they’re definitely not just friends.”
“Oh, yeah, Kara’s totally in love with her. But she’ll never admit it.”
“Do you guys do anything other than matchmake and gossip about your students?” Sam asks.
“Yeah, we also talk about Hot Maniac once a year,” Lucy says. “And you’re gonna be exactly the same when Ruby hits high school.”
“Unlikely,” Sam replies, but she sounds unsure.
Vice Principal Jones sticks his head through the gym door and nods at Alex. She grins broadly. Last year, he’d given her the honor of introducing Hot Maniac to the kids. This year she didn’t even need to ask.
She walks to the middle of the auditorium, blowing her whistle loudly as she does so. The kids quieten down. She’s worked hard for her reputation as a teacher: fun and easy going, but tough as shit when she needs to be (and you don’t want her to need to be). As a result, she knows she has the kids’ respect. She rests her hands in her shorts pockets as she reaches the microphone.
“Alright, Midvale Junior and Senior High, you know the deal. No talking, no laughing, no texting. Please give our guest the respect she deserves. Without further ado, Detective Maggie Sawyer.”
Detective Maggie Sawyer enters the auditorium to a smattering of unenthusiastic applause. She Alex doesn’t blame the kids; she had hated Detective Bittenbinder when she was in high school. Street Smarts was definitely something you enjoyed more as an adult, something to laugh at rather than attempt to take seriously for an hour and a half.
As always, Sawyer’s dressed in a three piece suit. Like last year, she wears a cowboy hat and Alex stares in astonishment as she checks a pocket watch. She dresses exactly how Alex remembers Bittenbinder dressing, only instead of being intimidating as it had been when she was younger, it was… well, it was hot.
“Hello, students of Midvale High, and welcome to Street Smarts. Tip one of street smarts...” Sawyer begins, and for the next hour and a half Alex is torn between watching the infamous Street Smarts Sawyer and watching Sam pass through the five stages of grief as she experiences it for the first time.
“Let’s say a guy pulls a knife on you to mug you. What do you do? You go fumbling for your wallet. And you go fumbling for your wallet. Well, in that split-second, that’s when he’s going to stab you. So here’s what you do. You kids get yourselves a money clip. Okay, you can get these at any haberdashery. You put a $50 bill in the money clip then when a guy flashes a blade, you go, ‘You want my money, go get it!’ Then you run the other direction.”
“Tip Two: Street smarts! Let’s say a kidnapper throws you in the back of a trunk. Don’t panic. Once you get your bearings… find the carpet that covers the taillight, peel back the carpet, make a fist, punch the taillight out the back of the car, thus creating a hole in the back of the automobile, then stick your little hand out and wave to oncoming motorists to let them know that something hinky is going on.”
Alex scans over the audience of students every once in a while, looking for trouble. She spots Winn Schott, a small gangly friend of Kara’s who isn’t particularly good at P.E., taking diligent notes. Ruby Arias sits on the floor in a sea of seventh graders looking alarmed. Kara sits with the other juniors, and Alex wonders if she’s imagining Lena Luthor’s hand on Kara’s thigh. She makes a mental note, with a little shudder, to go over dating rules and basic sex ed with her younger sister.
“Tip Three: Street smarts! Okay, so when you get kidnapped, the place where the guy grabs ya, in the biz we call that the primary location. Okay. Your odds of coming back alive from the primary location, about 60%. But if you are taken to a secondary location, your odds of coming back alive are slim to none.”
Before long, Sawyer’s finished and the kids clap again and Alex walks to the microphone.
“Thank you, Detective Sawyer, for your valuable safety insight. Ms. Lane will now dismiss you all, class by class.”
Lucy takes the floor and Alex turns to Detective Sawyer, who checks her pocket watch again.
“Thank you, Detective, for another great year.”
“Alex. Alex Danvers. I’m the P.E. teacher.”
Maggie eyes Alex’s outfit: white knee high socks with gym shoes, gym shorts, a navy polo shirt and a whistle around her neck.
“Really? I couldn’t tell.”
Alex laughs. Maggie’s voice seems to have lost the accent, and the harsh tone it usually has.
“Do you need me to show you back to the principal’s office, or…?”
“I should be fine. See ya round, Danvers.” And just like that, she’s gone for another year. Alex watches her as she goes.
“That was… an experience,” Sam says in the teachers’ lounge at the end of the day. It’s become a routine: Alex and Sam wait for Kara and Ruby to finish their extracurriculars together, Lucy hangs around and tries to get some work done.
“Street smarts!” Alex and Lucy yell together.
“Tip number three. Street Smarts!” Alex says in the worst imitation she can muster. “You kids have no upper body strength. If some guy tries to grab you, you can’t fight him with fists.”
Sam and Lucy roar with laughter, and Alex is spurred on.
“So here’s what you do. You kids fall down on your back-” She doesn’t notice her friends stop laughing as she continues. “-and you kick upward at him. That’ll throw him off his rhythm.”
Lucy clears her throat, and points to behind Alex.
With a sinking feeling, Alex turns around to find Detective Sawyer standing there. She’s not in the three piece suit anymore. Instead, she sports black skinny jeans and a french-tucked button down. Her hair hangs in soft waves and Alex has never been more attracted to her.
“Detective Sawyer,” Alex says, her voice weirdly high. “We were just, uh, talking about you.” She ignores the snickering coming from behind her.
“I can’t find my pocket watch; I was hoping it might be around here somewhere.”
“Oh,” is all Alex says.
“Danvers will help you find it, won’t you Danvers?”
She’s going to kill Lucy.
“Uh, yeah. Sure. Let’s go to lost and found.”
Alex swivels in an empty office chair as Sawyer digs through the lost and found box. The office has the empty-school eeriness that Alex loves and she takes a moment to revel in it before turning to Sawyer.
“Any luck, Detective?”
“No,” she sighs. “And you can call me Maggie, I’m off the clock.”
“Aye aye, captain.” Maggie looks at her, bemusement, raising an eyebrow. Alex feels herself blushing, her cheeks hot and red. It’s not her fault Maggie is hot and has dimples for crying out loud. She’s only human.
“Let’s check the gym,” Alex suggests, “maybe it fell out in there.”
“You don’t have to wait around with me, I’m sure you have other stuff to do.”
“It’s fine. I have to wait for my sister to finish up Model UN anyway. Plus, I sorta feel bad for you walking in on my imitation.”
Maggie laughs. “I get it. I understand what I must look like.”
Alex feigns shock. “You mean it’s all just an act? No three piece suits in your everyday life?”
“Sorry for the disappointment; I know how good I look in those,” Maggie says with a wink.
“The cowboy hat is what really brings it all together,” Alex says, and smiles as Maggie laughs.
“God, you have a great laugh,” Alex says.
Maggie hesitates for a moment. “Can I be honest with you?”
“Yeah, of course,” Alex replies, leaning forward in the chair.
“For the few years I’ve been coming to this school, I’ve sort of had a bit of a crush on you.”
Alex leans too far forward at the piece of information.
And she falls onto the floor at Maggie’s feet.
“Are you okay?”
Alex jumps to her feet. “Yeah. I’m, uh. Yeah, I’m fine. You- you have a crush on me?”
Maggie grins. “Let’s check the gym, shall we?”
Alex thought finding a pocket watch in an empty gymnasium wouldn’t be too hard.
She forgot about the mess that tends to follow teenagers wherever they go.
She and Maggie sift through screwed up pieces of paper and other junk, looking for a glimpse of the gold watch. Alex would never have thought that she’d have so much in common with the Street Smarts Woman. But here she is, on her hands and knees, sifting through garbage, yearning to know more and more about the woman the more they talk.
“So why Street Smarts?” Alex asks.
“I do it through the police department, it’s their curriculum. A day here and there every few months or so.”
“But like… why?”
Maggie shrugs. “Why do you teach? Education is important to me, and knowing the other people in the Midvale PD who could’ve done it… I just wanted these kids to come away with something.”
“Even if that something is laughing at you?” Alex winces at her own words. “Sorry. That was really harsh.”
Maggie smiles. “I know it’s ridiculous, I know I look stupid. But those kids are laughing at me and quoting me to each other, and at the end of the day, they know exactly what I said. And maybe one thing I say can help one of them.”
“Wow. You’re like… a really good person.”
“You’re a good person, too.”
Alex laughs. “You don’t even know me.”
“That’s technically not true,” Maggie admits and Alex briefly wonders if she managed to land herself a stalker. “I remember your photo from the California Police Academy. It’s still hanging in the front office. The youngest and only ever cadet to get one hundred percent in all levels of training. And then you gave it all up. You’re a legend.”
“Oh wow that’s embarrassing.”
“You’re doing something you deem is important.”
Alex shakes her head. “I just did what I had to do.”
“Be more vague, I dare you.”
“You are asking for fourth date information right there, diving deep into my past. Dead parents and responsibility shenanigans. All the good stuff.”
Maggie smiles softly and steps slightly towards Alex. She’s not sure if she imagines it, but the room feels smaller, and there’s a buzz between her and Maggie that’s undeniable. She can’t remember the last time she felt like this, and it’s making her dizzy. Alex is about to say something she’ll probably regret when Maggie lunges toward the ground.
“Found it!” she said, picking up the pocket watch.
“Alex!” She hears Kara’s voice in the halls outside the gym. She doesn’t know what takes over her, the impulse to say the next thing she says. It’s like the more time they spend together, the more Alex knows she needs this woman in her life.
“Would you… would you want to get a drink with me some time?”
Maggie smiles. “I’d really like that.”
The gym door is thrown open.
“Can we please go home, if I don’t eat soon I’ll die,” Kara says dramatically, before spotting Maggie and frowning. “Detective Sawyer. Hi.”
Maggie nods hello, and hands Alex her card.
“Looking forward, Danvers.”
Alex watches - for the second time that day - as Maggie walks away, and this time she wishes she could follow.
Kara looks suspiciously between the two women.
“What was that about?” she asks tentatively.
“Just some teacher stuff,” Alex lies.
No reason to tell Kara, Alex thinks, convincing herself, it might amount to nothing.
Two months and several dates later, and Alex thinks maybe she needs to tell Kara about Maggie.
“Are you embarrassed of me or something?” Maggie asks playfully, but Alex can sense the realness of the question in her words. They lie together in bed. Kara’s sleeping at Lena’s house and for once they’ve got the place to themselves.
“I could never be embarrassed of you, Maggie.”
“Not even when I wear a three piece suit, a cowboy hat and my grandfather’s pocket watch?”
“Well then I’m embarrassed for you. There’s a difference.”
“Oh, it’s probably how I feel whenever I have to look at you in your coaching gear.”
Alex gasps. “You said you find my sensible shorts sexy.”
“No, I said you were sexy, and you just happened to be wearing those hideous shorts. There’s a difference.”
Alex wraps her arms around Maggie and kisses her softly. It’s familiar, despite the fact they’ve only been seeing each other for a short time. Alex feels as though she’s known Maggie her whole life, like she’s been kissing her for decades rather than months. And at the same time, each moment with Maggie feels electric and new, more exciting than anything she’s experienced before.
They kiss again, this time more heated, more driven than before. Alex is on her back, and Maggie leans over her, her lips hovering just above Alex’s. And then she kisses her neck. Her chest. Her stomach. Her hands roam Alex’s body as her mouth finds what it’s looking for and Alex moans under Maggie’s touch.
“Hey Alex, I forgot my retainer so I came back to get it Lena’s outside in the car waiting but I can’t find it - OH MY GOD.” Kara bursts into the room, going from talking at the speed of light to dry heaving in just moments. Alex sits up straight, pulling the blanket up to cover her, and almost pushing Maggie off the bed.
“Kara gET OUT,” Alex yells at her.
“OH MY GOD,” she yells. “That is SO NOT STREET SMART.”
“GET OUT LIKE RIGHT NOW.”
Kara retreats from the room blindly (one hand being used to cover her eyes and the other to feel her way out the door) and Alex groans, sinking back into the bed.
“Well,” Maggie says, “Guess she knows.”
“Admittedly, that could’ve gone better.”
They get dressed quickly, and Alex kisses Maggie once more before they leave the room to face Kara.
“Here we go,” she mumbles.
By the time they find her, she’s sitting at the kitchen counter, drinking orange juice from the carton, a forlorn expression on her face.
“Ew, Kara that’s gross.”
Kara laughs manically. “Oh, really, that’s gross? Why wasn’t there a - a - a sock on the door or something?”
“Because you’re supposed to be at Lena’s,” Alex reminds her.
“Yeah, well. Shut up.”
“You shut up.”
“Better than your face.”
“Oh real mature.”
“ Oh real mature ,” Alex mimics. Maggie clears her throat. “Oh. Right. Kara, you know Detective Sawyer.”
“You can call me Maggie,” Maggie says, flashing her signature smile.
“My life’s gonna be over. My sister the gym teacher is dating Street Smarts Sawyer.”
“Don’t be rude,” Alex says, and she knows Kara can tell she’s serious now.
“Sorry,” Kara mumbles. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“You too. And sorry to surprise you like this.”
“I’m sure Lena will help her get through it,” Alex says rolling her eyes.
Kara almosts spits juice everywhere. “Oh, shit! Lena’s still outside.”
“Go. We can talk about this once you’ve calmed down properly and processed a bit.”
Kara doesn’t move.
Alex sighs. “Your retainer is in the guest bathroom.”
“Kthanksbyeseeyoulater,” Kara says, setting down her juice.
“Normal speeds, Kara,” Alex warns, and Kara sprints off, only slightly faster than human standards.
“So,” Maggie says, resting her head on Alex’s chest. “Where were we before we were interrupted.”
Alex waits for a moment, listening until she hears the front door slam and Lena’s car drive away from the house.
“I believe you were in the middle of teaching me something.”
“Tip one,” Maggie whispers into Alex’s ear. “Try not to get caught by the younger sister.”
“And step two?”
Maggie smirks, pulling Alex back into the bedroom.
And then she teaches her a thing or two.