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The Hardest Part is Living With It

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She doesn't realize she's doing it; not at first. Not until she's already figured most of it out and it's too late by then. She didn't mean to. It became a habit so long ago she doesn't think about it anymore.

There are people, not including a myriad of government agencies, who have devoted their lives to unmasking heroes. Most have absolutely no intention of doing anything about it should they pull off the impossible.

Maggie was not one of those people. When she'd set out to unmask (so to speak) Superman, she'd had every intention of doing something with the knowledge. Printing it on the front page of the Daily Planet, no, but using it as leverage, perhaps? Something to keep Superman out of the police's business.

She hadn't gotten far. Unlike Batman or the Green Arrow with their custom gear, Superman's sole accessory were the literal clothes on his back. Still, those nights with the white board and her notes had made for good exercise. Made for good habit.

Made it so easy to work things out with Kate. So easy she doesn't realize it's happening until she's standing in the bathroom, staring at her reflection in the steamy mirror, stunned into silence by the realization that Kate and Batwoman are one and the same.

She thinks it was the bruising on Kate's body that sealed it. The perfect shape of body armor pressed into the skin all down one side, the unmistakeable souvenir left over from a truck's glancing blow. Romy had described the Batwoman's body arching up and away from the truck detailed enough to put an inexplicable tension in Maggie's chest.

Inexplicable until now.

Maggie shivers despite the lingering heat from her shower. Batwoman. On the other side of the door, Batwoman is asleep in her bed, red hair and bruised body buried beneath a mountain of sheets to ward off the winter chill.

Batwoman. Christ.

Maggie lowers her head and breathes in, out, and focuses on the pattern until her heart stops racing and her head clears. Kate is Batwoman. She looks at the pieces in her head, the tiny telltale clues, and then forces herself to accept the conclusion the evidence presents her.

That is, after all, the easier part of whole process. The complications lie in deciding what to do about it.

She picks up her hairbrush, running it through her hair by rote, letting her mind wander. This isn't Metropolis with its shining towers and incorruptible officials. This is Gotham City, one step up from the old west, where Maggie isn't sure, one day to the next, just who she can trust. Outside of her own team, her people, its a precious few. Gordon. Superman...and Batwoman.

Maggie closes her eyes, the hairbrush dropping to the sink with a soft clatter. It's been a long time since she was naive enough to think they don't need the heroes that watch over this city, but it hasn't been long at all since she realized that those heroes need them just as much.

Someone has to keep their secret, and in this case...

Turning around, she grabs her robe off the bathroom door and wraps herself up in it. A few steps and she's through the door and standing by the bed. Kate rolls toward her, red hair stark against her pale skin, not nearly as asleep as she pretends.

"You missed the weather," Kate says in a sleepy mumble. "I think you're going to get a snow day."

Maggie walks away from the bed, opening the curtain to a wall of white, and nearly sighs in relief.

"I think you're right," she says, trying to hide it. She grabs her phone on the way back to bed, calling around to make sure everything's covered at the office, then drops it on the beside table. Kate rolls toward her when she lifts the bedclothes, holding out an arm to make room for her. "Any suggestions on what I should do with it?"

Kate smiles and rests a hand on Maggie's hip. The bruises begin on her shoulder, stretching across it and down out of sight. Someone hurt her. One of the Penguin's men. Maggie feels that tension start to creep back into her chest. Except Kate's kissing her and all thoughts happily flee in the face of that.

When they surface, she curls one lock of Kate's hair around her finger and smiles. "I think I can work with that."

Kate is Batwoman. The bruises on her body are just the latest in a never-ending line of injuries. There will be more, some of them worse, and Maggie doesn't know if she can handle that, but maybe she doesn't have a choice. Kate is Batwoman and Maggie is the head of the MCU--neither job comes with a retirement package.

And that's something they're both going to have to live with.