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Burnt Out

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Maggie woke up and rolled over the side of the bed, frowning at the emptiness but not fretting over it; she knew that she’d wake up alone since last night when Alex warned her of some...government visit for a conference or something. As director, Alex was busier than ever; Maggie respected that.

She’d just been promoted to captain of her precinct, so as much as she missed company every morning, she couldn’t really complain. She did the same thing to Alex some days.

At least she’d gotten a kiss on the forehead in the wee hours of the morning before Alex left. It was soft, as the agent was trying not to wake her, but Maggie was far too sensitive to touch while she slept.

“Mags,” she read, picking up a piece of notebook paper from the nightstand. “Kara crashed here at some point last night- something to do with the noise of the construction by her apartment...she wasn’t looking too hot. Make sure she sleeps in and eats a big breakfast; I’ll be back as soon as I can to check on her.”

Maggie’s eyebrows furrowed. “Wasn’t looking too hot” could mean a variety of things, but if it had to do with too much noise, Maggie had an idea of what was going on with her sister in law. She was overstimulated almost constantly, but when she had an exhausting day at work, her senses flared up and stimuli rubbed her raw like sandpaper. It could lead to an episode if they weren’t careful.

It just so happened that Kara had been flying around the city all damn day prior because of the multiple structural fires and underground alien crime rings.

God, it must’ve been so hard for Alex to leave the apartment that morning, knowing just what was going on with her little sister.

It was up to Maggie to take over.

She slid on a pair of maroon joggers, pulling her tee down and flattening her bed head to at least make herself look human before preparing the world-famous extra protein, all natural gluten free blueberry waffles.

Alex hated them, Maggie loved them, and Kara just enjoyed anything edible.

If the choice was between Maggie’s waffles and some sort of processed, low-energy, high sodium crap for her sister in law, the captain knew exactly which one she’d prefer for her. She decided to forgo her normal morning vibes playlist, conscious of the superhero (hopefully) sleeping in the bedroom just off of the living room.

Once it was done, Maggie gently pushed open the door to see whether or not Kara was sleeping. The food could always be refrigerated and reheated, but if the superhero was woken in a state of anxiety, it could make her more prone to issues all day long.

“Kara?” Maggie asked, seeing her lay flat on her back with the blankets down around her ankles instead of her normal fetal position. Her chest was rising and falling rapidly, the superman emblem on her (Alex’s) tee going up and down, up and down. Her tan legs were stock still, and her fingers skidded around over the fitted sheet as if they didn’t know where to go. She was awake, and she was in the very beginning stages of a panic attack.

Maggie wished Alex were around.

Knowing that your mind and body are going to disconnect and shut down doesn’t make the actual process any easier. If anything, it only speeds it up and intensifies it because Kara- well, Kara had known it was coming since the early evening the night prior, and her anxiety about the actual episode was like an episode all in and of its own.

The construction at her apartment was too much. That was the excuse that she used to be closer to her sister, but she’d forgotten something after it was already too late- Alex had that stupid meeting with the vice president, and Kara was supposed to be there too.

But she woke up, and her eyes felt like lead balls, her fingers like spaghetti, and her tongue like a wad of cotton. She knew she was pale and shaky- that her chest was going too fast and that her eyes were too vacant. She knew it, and it freaked her the hell out. She hated thinking of herself in the third person. It made her mind wander too far.

“It’s bad, huh, Kara?”

That was Maggie, far off somewhere. Kara was in her apartment. Part of her was glad to have company so she knew she wasn’t alone. Maggie was awesome- just like a second big sister, but...but she wasn’t Kara’s /actual/ big sister. She couldn’t replace Alex.

Alex, who would hold her all the way through the night or day. Alex, who would whisper in Kryptonian. Alex, who would play with her hair until the tension melted from her shoulders. Alex, who knew when to shut up and when to talk over Kara’s thoughts. Alex, Alex, Alex-

“She’s at work.” Maggie walked into her sight, arms crossed. “You’re having a shut down, Kar- your powers are draining all out of whack. Have you taken your medication?”

She had a bottle of pills specifically crafted for her shut downs. It was a special concoction with the effects of muscle relaxers for pain and tension and a sedative for her haywire brain. Kara needed one desperately. “No,” she ground out, eyes on the ceiling. “No. No, I- I- need-”

“I know, love; I’ll grab them,” Maggie told her, running off to the bathroom to get the pills. When she returned, she held them out with a bottle of water, but Kara swallowed them dry, pinching her eyes closed as her breathing picked up, mind on a hamster wheel.

“No, no, no,” she chanted, the words growing further and further apart until she was silent, save for the ragged breaths escaping her lungs. Dissociation was normally the second phase of Kara’s episodes.

Maggie hadn’t ever experienced a power shut down for obvious reasons, but the least she could say was that she understood...this- the feeling that everything was spiraling out of control- the breathlessness- the panic. Nobody- super or not- enjoyed that feeling.

She climbed onto the bed, grabbing Kara’s cold hands and holding them together in her own. “Come on back, Kara. Breathe deep and focus on my voice.” Deciding that simply holding her hands wasn’t enough touch for Kara to feel it in her far away psyche, Maggie pulled the blanket over her legs and torso to keep her warm and hauled the blonde into her lap, cradling her head.

She ran nimble fingers through Kara’s hair, detangling it as she went and talking in a low murmur about what she’d prepared for breakfast or saw on the news- anything, really, to see Kara’s chest slow and her eyes focus.

“Are you following me better, Danvers?” Kara gave her a slight nod. “Good, good to see your pretty eyes with somebody behind them. Now we just need to breathe, okay? That’s an easy one. Do it with me.”

Maggie demonstrated slow, deep breaths, thankful that the other caught on remarkably well.


“There you are.” Maggie smiled, helping her sit up. She was still using the backboard a hell of a lot for support, obviously beyond drained. “The medication must be working.” Kara nodded weakly. “I’ll let Alex know, but meanwhile, you get breakfast in bed. I made waffles.”

Kara smiled, and though it was tired and small, Maggie appreciated the effort. “Thank you...Maggie. I didn’t mean to impose, so- yeah.”

“No worries, kid. That’s what sisters are for.”