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The thing is, Maggie knows she hurt Alex. She knows. Alex is not nearly as good a liar as she thinks. But it was better than jumping headfirst into something that would end up hurting them both in the end. Alex isn’t ready for a serious relationship and Maggie wants serious. She wants to start settling down, or at least be looking for someone who might also be thinking about settling down. Not too soon, but eventually. Someone she can build a life with. And you just don’t settle down with the first girl you date.

The best she can do is be understanding and give Alex her space. That first crush is so powerful; even without the haze of being a teenager in a hormonal body, it feels like the world is ending when the first girl you like doesn’t like you back.

She keeps it professional at the first crime scene where she crosses paths with the DEO again, some alien in a back alley likely dead of exposure. She sighs as she stands up from examining his body, pulling the sheet over his face as she does so.

“Something wrong?” Alex asks, her tone too bright to really be genuine.

“Just…” Maggie shrugs. “Poor guy. He comes here hoping for a better life, maybe fleeing a bad homeworld situation. And he ends up like that. I feel for him, that’s all.”

“Yeah,” Alex says softly, and for a moment they’re united in their regret over someone else’s tragedy. But it soon passes, and they’re emerging into the weak winter sunlight outside the alley, where people are trying to gawk at the scene from behind the yellow tape.

Maggie opens her mouth but Alex cuts her off. “We’ll take possession of the body, do an autopsy just in case.”

Maggie’s first instinct is to fight for jurisdiction, something snarky and pointed that would get Alex to smile that half-flustered half-challenging smile and fight back. But that’s not what they do right now. “Sure. Your lab is probably better equipped.”

The expected “oh so you admit it then Sawyer?” never comes. Alex just nods tightly and starts walking away, but she stops when Supergirl lands with that trademark whoosh, her cape billowing all heroically. Maggie would never ever admit it, not even under oath in a court of law, but the landing is actually really cool.

“We got this,” Alex says, her head down, eyes not quite meeting Supergirl’s very direct gaze.

She stands there with that dumb heroic pose of hers, hands on her hips, and Maggie fights the urge to straighten up her posture. “Are you sure?”

Something about the way she asks the question, looking carefully at Alex, then over at Maggie, makes it seem like they’re not talking about the dead guy in the alley.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Alex says, nodding a little. Supergirl puts her hand on Alex’s shoulder, giving her a little squeeze, and oh. Ok. They’re not just running buddies. Well, Maggie can’t blame a girl for moving on fast.

“I’ll see you later,” Supergirl says. And then she looks right at Maggie and she would swear that Supergirl is using her freeze breath with how chilly her words come out. “Thanks for your assistance, Detective Sawyer. I’m sure the DEO appreciates your help.” Her knees flex and she takes off before Maggie can say another word.

Alex keeps going, ducking under the tape, and Maggie is left at the scene with the distinct feeling that she just got told off.

*

Maggie doesn’t know if it’s lucky or unlucky that there’s no alien-related crime for a couple of weeks. She likes it when the city takes a break, usually. If her job is boring that means people aren’t getting hurt.

On the other hand it gives her no good reason to talk to Alex, who has gone radio silent. She can’t blame Alex at all; it doesn’t matter how much she understands, it’s mortifying to be rejected. To put yourself out there like that. Maggie spends a couple nights at the bar – their bar – drinking and hoping Alex will come in again, but also kind of hoping she won’t. She feels bad, and she doesn’t know if she has it in her to deal with Alex looking at her with those sad wounded fawn eyes. She shot Bambi. She deserves to feel bad.

But after a couple of weeks she figures that’s enough distance for them to at least start trying to get back to normal. She looks at reports of Supergirl doing good around the city and sometimes catches herself looking for a glimpse of that black DEO kit, that chin-length haircut, even from behind.

So it’s almost a relief when she gets a call about a robbery gone bad and maybe some alien tech left behind. The place is an absolute mess, storefront window completely shattered, jewelry cases all smashed in, glass everywhere, blood smeared on one of the walls where a body fell against it then toppled to the ground. The guard on the ground there is under a sheet, his hand just barely sticking out. Maggie wants to go over and tuck the sheet properly around his body, but techs are processing all around him and she doesn’t want to step on their toes.

She stands there for a minute, hands on her hips, surveying the scene and feeling like shaking her head. She’s aware of the crunch of glass under heavy boots, and then Alex pulls up next to her, also checking out the scene.

“What’s up?” Alex asks, and this time it sounds like her. Not forced, just brisk, ready to work. Maggie can deal with ready to work.

“One dead that we know of. Robbers took most of the jewels, roughed up the owner and some customers, the usual yelling about nobody better call the cops. My guys are interviewing witnesses right now,” Maggie says. She tilts her head, glancing sideways at Alex. “I’ll make sure you’re copied on all that.”

“Thanks,” Alex says. She pulls a pair of nitrile gloves from her utility belt and snaps them on. “What about this alien weapon the witnesses claim the robbers used?”

“Said it shredded the guard pretty instantly.” Maggie grimaces. “Never stood a chance.”

Alex looks at the covered body. “He wearing armor?”

“Went right through the Kevlar.”

Alex grimaces, but quickly morphs into a more thoughtful face. Her nerdy scientist face, the one that usually leads to her doing that cute tech talk thing.

Maggie turns around, only to find Supergirl standing there right outside the store with her arms folded over her chest. “Detective,” she says, biting off the word with a little snap.

Maggie blinks. “Uh. Supergirl.”

Supergirl walks right past her to join Alex, bending her head close and murmuring something that has Alex shaking her head.

“So you got any ideas what kind of weapon could do this?” Maggie asks, not wanting to interrupt their private discussion but also needing to do her job.

Supergirl peers over at the guard and Maggie wonders what she’s doing before she remembers about the x-ray vision. Supergirl wrinkles her nose. “I’ve never seen damage like that specifically,” she says. “But Krypton didn’t use weapons that did that kind of damage.”

“You guys were more into science and stuff, that whole advanced society thing,” Maggie says, trying to make polite conversation.

“Yes, I suppose,” Supergirl says stiffly, and Maggie figures maybe she might have hit a painful nerve, bringing up the world Supergirl lost.

“There’s nothing else for you to do here,” Alex says, emerging from the shop and pulling off her gloves. “I’ll see you back at base.”

And then Supergirl does it again, that intense look at Maggie that makes her feel like she might be getting incinerated by heat vision in about half a second. “Thanks for your help, detective.”

As for Alex, she gets another squeeze to the shoulder and a look like Supergirl would rather be hugging her instead, and then she’s gone with a whoosh. She’s definitely not imagining it. Supergirl does not like her.

*

The alien arms dealer they’ve been tracking for the past couple of days is sitting in his lair in the meatpacking district, completely unaware he’s about to get raided by a joint NCPD/DEO task force. Maggie tries not to fidget with the velcro tab of her kevlar vest while they wait for Supergirl to finish scanning the facility from above.

“Three floors,” she says, landing neatly between Maggie and Alex. “I think he’s on the top floor with eight guys. I counted twelve more on the second floor and seven on the first floor.”

“That matches our thermals,” Alex says.

Supergirl turns her body, the angle just enough to effectively shut Maggie out of the conversation unless she sidles around a bit. “What’s your play, Agent Danvers?” she asks.

“We’ll take ground entry from the south and east entrances,” Alex says. She looks at Supergirl, and Maggie can see the concern in her eyes, even though Supergirl is the bulletproof one. “You’ll be okay to hit them from the roof?”

“Punching a hole through the top won’t collapse the entire building, but it will be fun,” Supergirl says, with perhaps more destructive glee than Maggie would have ever given her credit for. Perhaps it’s just the prospect of punishing bad guys, and she can get behind that sentiment.

“Okay, let’s-” Maggie doesn’t finish her sentence, instead getting a near-mouthful of red cape as Supergirl takes off, ready to divebomb the building on Alex’s command.

“Stay sharp in there,” Alex says, adjusting the sling on her rifle. She holds out a fist, and even though it’s more about getting ready to rock and calming down the jitters that hit before an entry, Maggie really appreciates her reaching out for the first time since their disaster at the bar. She bumps back with her fist and then gets set with her guys at the south entrance, watching as Alex leads her team over to the east. Alex’s voice is steady on comms, counting down.

Just as she hits one there’s an almighty crash from above, the deep cracking boom of something going through concrete like a pencil through a sheet of paper. The breaching teams hit first, blowing off the hinges and battering both doors with rams. They’re pouring in and instinct and training take over for Maggie, following her squadmates, sweeping each room, subduing targets who look shellshocked by the flashbangs. There’s a lot of ominous thumping sounds filtering down from the top floors, and as they rush up the stairs to the second story, the ceiling suddenly gives way, pouring rubble in the flickering lights.

Supergirl flies down through the hole, holding their target by the scruff of his jacket. He has a swollen eye but he looks pretty subdued, especially when Supergirl shakes him once like a cat with a kitten. “It would be nice if you all surrendered,” she tells the bad guys waiting for them.

A high-pitched whine splits the air.

“Take cover!” Maggie shouts, figuring that it can’t be anything good. NCPD officers and DEO agents scatter. Maggie can’t find Alex in the bustle as she ducks around a corner and gets low. Her last glimpse of Supergirl is her whirling in midair, protecting even that scumbag weapons dealer with her body as something flashes bright and hits her hard enough to knock her across the building.

Maggie ducks instinctively as she hears the impact of Supergirl’s body against the thick concrete wall, and when she peeks out, sees that she’s managed to turn her body again so that she took the brunt of the impact instead of squashing the fragile human in her arms. He gets tossed to the ground at Maggie’s feet.

“If you would, detective,” says Supergirl, shaking it off, and glaring in the direction of the weapons fire.

Maggie drags him over and begins securing his hands behind his back with a thick zip tie.

Supergirl gathers herself and pushes off, flying straight down the short hallway and into the open room, and then Maggie hears a thud, another whining shot, and concrete crumbling.

A body goes rushing past Maggie, just a pair of legs in black uniform, but she knows it’s Alex.

“Wait, Danvers-” She’s struggling to her feet like the rest of the strike team around them, trying to push forward again.

Alex is gone, charging into the strobing darkness at the other side of the building where a lot of very meaty punching sounds are getting progressively louder. Two guys, then two more get tossed out onto their backs. Officers and agents pounce on them, getting them cuffed, and then Supergirl herself emerges, holding two halves of a sparking weapon in each hand. She tosses them to the ground.

“The rest of them are in there,” she says, indicating behind her with a little toss of her head.

“Always good doing business with you, Supergirl,” says Maggie.

*

The cleanup is a little rough with all the rubble in the way, but Supergirl looks at the destruction and sheepishly helps them cart out unconscious bad guys three or four at a time, flying them out through the two holes she punched through the top floors and setting them by the wagons. The conscious ones look only too glad to be walking of their own volition and go quietly, sitting in neat lines without much fuss.

Maggie goes back to check on the weapon Supergirl destroyed, only to find Alex squatting nearby, scanning it with something that looks science-y.

“That the only one?” Maggie asks.

Alex stands up, tucking away her little meter. “There was another crate of these on the top floor. Looks like our arms dealer was planning on supplying a lot of his guys with these so they could hit more robberies.”

“Well, good thing we hit him when we did then,” Maggie says, trying for a smile, wanting that old rapport back. Something better than this “just the facts ma’am” attitude even though Alex doesn’t owe her anything more than that.

“We’ll do our best to trace the weapons back to their source. There’s no way a low-level arms dealer gets his hands on these by himself.” Alex looks at Maggie with her hands resting on her utility belt, and then does something that hits Maggie right in the gut with how unexpectedly painful it is. She walks over, hand extended, and shakes Maggie’s hand like they’ve just closed a business deal. “Thanks for your help.”

“Always a good time when the DEO and Supergirl show up,” Maggie says, trying to keep the smile on her face.

“This is the last of it,” says Supergirl herself, floating back down through the hole in the ceiling, one hand holding a large black crate. She only looks at Alex when she speaks.

“Okay. Make sure it gets back to HQ,” says Alex. Supergirl nods and Maggie could swear does a dismissive little flip of her cape before shooting up into the sky, one fist pointed upwards.

“Does she not like me or something?” Maggie asks. She’s not interested in getting disrespected at her own crime scenes while she’s just trying to do her job.

Alex looks at her and doesn’t even have the grace to not seem apologetic. It’s all the confirmation Maggie needs. “I’m so sorry. She’s just…she’s having a hard time right now with some other stuff. I’ll talk to her about it. Really, it’s not your fault.”

“Uh huh,” says Maggie, who wants to push, because the timing is all very suspect, but she doesn’t feel like it’s her place anymore. She and Alex aren’t friends. They’re work colleagues and they’re still cleaning up the last of a weapons bust and she has so much paperwork waiting for her at the precinct.

“Thank you again. For the help,” says Alex, and this time her lips press together into a tight smile but still a smile nevertheless.

“Always,” Maggie says. “I’m just a phone call away.”

*

Whatever talk Alex had with Supergirl – Maggie doesn’t doubt they talked, because Alex keeps her word like that – it doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect. Maggie gives Alex a call when one of her leads shakes out and she shows up looking tired, too tired for Maggie’s liking. She acts just fine and seems alert and functional, but the dark bags under her eyes can’t be totally hidden with makeup and there’s this wall between them now and Maggie doesn’t know how to get over it, doesn’t know if Alex even wants her to try. And Maggie has every intention of following her lead on this; Alex deserves that much consideration. But god, she misses having the closest thing to a partner that she’s found in National City.

As for Supergirl, she lands nearly at the same time as Alex pulls up on her bike. She has a short nod for Maggie and the rest of her attention is on Alex. Maggie knows for a fact it is not necessary for Supergirl to be tagging along while she and Alex interrogate a scared middleman, but here she is anyway, peering suspiciously at Maggie when there is a perfectly good perp two feet away.

Maggie cocks her eyebrow at the guy anyway, and starts listing all the crimes she could nail him on, never mind she doesn’t have enough evidence for most of them. But he folds like a wet napkin anyway, and Maggie gets to handcuff him and push him into the back seat of her police sedan while Alex calls it in and Supergirl watches her from the sidewalk, ignoring the tourists gawking at her from across the street.

It’s all the more bizarre when a little girl runs up to Supergirl and her whole demeanor changes, that sunshine-bright smile coming out in an instant as she kneels down to give the girl a hug. Her parents are nearby, taking a million photos on their phones, but Supergirl’s sole focus is the little girl, asking her all about what she wants to be when she grows up, encouraging her to eat her vegetables and stay in school, and to never give up on her dreams. It’s so heartwarming Maggie almost wants to join the perp in the back seat to get away from the schmaltz, but she can tell Supergirl one hundred percent believes every single word she’s saying, and so does the little girl, and that’s the important thing.

As soon as the kid skips off with a wave, Supergirl stands up again and turns towards Maggie, arms folding, smile disappearing. “Good work, detective,” she says, her tone making it sound like she means the complete opposite.

“Sure,” says Maggie. “I’ll let you know what else the investigation turns up.” She wants to get in a goodbye to Alex, but Supergirl is actually standing between them, her cape blocking out most of Alex’s body.

Alex gets off her phone and pokes her head around Supergirl’s extremely muscular shoulder. “Thanks Sawyer, I’ll call you if we get anything on our end.”

Maggie flicks her eyes between Alex and Supergirl, back to Alex. “Yup,” she says, and gets in her car. She doesn’t need this kind of aggro at work; she can get plenty of drama in her personal life if she wants it. As she drives off she can see Alex and Supergirl in her rearview mirror, looking like they’re starting a heated argument.

*

That night there’s a knock on her living room window, which scares her badly enough that she actually jumps in the air and knocks into her sofa. “What the fuck,” she says, peering at the window. It’s Supergirl. Supergirl is floating outside her fifth-story apartment. Cautiously, she approaches the window and flicks the latch, pushing it open. The curtains billow suddenly in the cold breeze and Maggie shivers.

“May I come in, Detective Sawyer?” Supergirl asks, as though she couldn’t just force her way inside with a flick of her pinky.

Wordlessly, Maggie stands aside and Supergirl flies in, landing softly in Maggie’s living room. It’s such a surreal image, seeing this woman in her red and blue costume, cape gently billowing before it settles neatly around her body, juxtaposed against the old couch Maggie dragged from her last apartment because it’s perfect for her back.

Supergirl assumes the pose, fists on her hips, chin lifted. “It’s come to my attention that I haven’t been exactly fair in dealing with you.”

“You’re just now noticing?” Maggie asks, rather more sarcastically than she intended.

Supergirl winces a little, which she so did not expect. It’s a very human gesture from her, and it makes Maggie feel a little better about having her in her apartment, all heroic and costumed while Maggie is in worn flannel pajama pants and a baggy t-shirt. “Yes, well. I apologize. It won’t happen anymore. You’re an excellent detective and I would hate for this to impact your work with the DEO.” It sounds a little rehearsed, but there’s genuine remorse there in her eyes. She has expressive eyes, and up close she seems so, so young. She moves back towards the window, but Maggie stops her with a word.

“Can you just – just tell me why? Was it something I did or said?”

“No, detective. I assure you it was a misunderstanding on my part,” says Supergirl.

“Does it have anything to do with Alex?” Maggie asks softly.

Supergirl freezes.

“If you two, you know. If you’re…together, you have nothing to worry about from me,” Maggie says, even though it hurts her pride to say it. It shouldn’t, but it does, because Alex picked her first. She wanted Maggie first, before she wanted Supergirl, and that means something that Maggie doesn’t want to think about right now. Not if she wants to keep her distance and let Alex figure out her life.

“That’s…that’s…no. It’s nothing like that,” says Supergirl. She seems pretty flustered by the suggestion. “I’m very protective of Agent Danvers, is all. She’s been a good friend to me at the DEO and I…” Her voice trails off, as though she realizes she’s said too much.

“Can you tell her I’m sorry,” Maggie says. “I know I said it was for the best, but I understand that it still sucks.”

Supergirl turns back to her, cape swishing. Her face gentles, and Maggie sees that famous compassion, the concern that had her protect a human life even as reprehensible as a man who supplied a murderer with a gun and would have handed out more. “I’ll tell her. And detective, I really am sorry. I see now that you meant well.”

“Is she okay?” Maggie asks, unable to help herself. She has to know and she can’t ask Alex directly, not anymore. She could but she can’t and she hates how wishy-washy that sounds.

“She’s strong. Stronger than most people I know,” says Supergirl. She gives Maggie a small, real smile. “Good night, detective.” And then she’s gone, flying back through the window with nothing but the soft rustle of curtains to signal her departure.

Maggie leans against the back of her sofa, not quite believing what just happened.

*

They hit another lull in crimes. The arms dealer investigation is in a rut too. Maggie takes out her frustrations on the gun range and on savagely perfect paperwork that has her desk the cleanest it’s ever been. Alex doesn’t call. She doesn’t show up at the bar.

Maggie goes on a date with a girl she knows through a friend of a friend and it’s nice. This girl is pretty and she has a cool job doing something with rainforests and she’s got dozens of fun traveling stories and kisses Maggie on the cheek at the end of the night. It feels…nice. She agrees to another date and Becca puts her number into Maggie’s phone before heading up into her apartment building.

Their second date is at a little restaurant owned by a queer woman; it sits right next to a nightclub that has good women’s nights, perfect for a meal and then some drinks and dancing.

The moment Maggie walks into the restaurant she knows it’s gonna be a bad night. Alex Danvers, Alex fucking Danvers is at a little table in the corner, laughing at something a gorgeous woman has just told her over an intimate little gourmet pizza for two.

“Do you know her?” Becca asks, looking at Maggie, how she’s pulled up short and is staring at the far table.

“Yeah, uh, from work,” says Maggie. “I should stop and say hi, do you mind?”

“Go ahead, I’ll grab our table,” says Becca, leaving Maggie with a lingering touch at the small of her back.

Maggie self-consciously pulls her blouse straight and runs a hand through her hair as she approaches the table. She doesn’t know why she’s doing this. They aren’t friends anymore. But she wants to be. She misses Alex so badly it’s like there’s an actual physical Alex-shaped hole in her life. “Hi,” she says as she reaches the table.

Alex looks up at the intrusion and her eyes go wide. “Maggie! Hi.” Then she looks at the other woman, obviously her date. “This is Riya. Riya, this is Detective Maggie Sawyer. We work together sometimes.”

Riya offers her hand and shakes with Maggie and Maggie can’t help but notice that she’s even more beautiful up close, dark luxurious hair and perfect skin and lips looking perfect in a shade of red just dark enough to be subdued instead of sinful. Her sleeveless dress shows off perfect arms and a graceful neck and in some other circumstance Maggie would definitely try to get her number. As it is, she’s here with Alex, and Maggie is interrupting.

“Just wanted to say hi,” says Maggie. She flicks her eyes at Riya and gives Alex a proud smirk that she doesn’t feel under the surface. “Have a nice night. See you at work, Danvers.”

Alex blushes, catching Maggie’s implication, and looks at the tablecloth. “Sure, Sawyer.”

Maggie tries to swagger off, but her heart isn’t in it. Becca takes one look at her face as she sits down and says, “Ex?” Her voice is sympathetic. They’ve all been there. Maggie manages to avoid a lot of the regular National City dating scene by going to the alien bar, but she’s seen her share of small dating pools.

“We never dated. It was…complicated,” Maggie says. She puts on a lighthearted smile. “There’s always a someone complicated, though.”

“Mine was named Christine,” says Becca, and for a bit, Maggie tries to focus on her. She touches Becca’s hand, laughs at her stories, asks appropriate follow-up questions. She’s glad her back is to Alex so she can’t be checking on her every other minute. But when they finish their meal and get up to hop over to the club, she can see Alex and Riya are still at their table, now with an empty dessert bowl and two half-full glasses of wine, heads leaning closer together than Maggie would like.

This is not fair to Alex at all, nor is it fair to Becca. Maggie grabs Becca by the hand and pulls her through the restaurant entrance to the club and does her best not to think about Alex Danvers, on a date with another woman.

*

Maggie feels like a total fraud doing it, but the next morning she texts Alex, good seeing you getting out there Danvers, hope the date went well.

Then she goes to work and doesn’t check her phone every five minutes like a normal person who is busy with her job and not thinking about this girl who kissed her, who did this really brave thing and was so hurt and sad and Maggie knows she did what was best for both of them but she doesn’t feel like it. She feels lousy.

Her phone dings and she’s way too eager to check it. But she’s crestfallen when she sees it’s not Alex. Also relieved; she doesn’t want Alex to take it the wrong way and she doesn’t want to get a text that’s basically thanks but please let’s stay professional. It’s Becca, who had a great time over the weekend and would like to invite Maggie over for dinner at her place. Third date.

She hesitates, thinking of other people on other dates, and types out a quick sounds great, I’ll bring the wine.

Then she really does do her best to keep her mind on her work. They still have to find this arms dealer, even though no more strange weapons have turned up on the streets in the meantime. But she can feel that it’s only a matter of time. It comes as a genuine surprise when her phone dings as she’s getting off the elevator in her apartment building, looking forward to the leftover takeout in her fridge and maybe some mindless TV.

thanks the date was pretty good, hope yours was good too.

Maggie stares at her phone, her key halfway out of the lock, and tries to think of something just right to text back. She falls asleep still trying to compose a reply.

*

Becca isn’t her girlfriend, but she’s a little more than someone Maggie sleeps with on the regular. Fuck buddies don’t go out to gallery openings together, and tonight Becca has dragged her away from work to see some great new queer artist in a big loft downtown. The space is almost completely open, with one large sculpture dominating the center of the room and a lot of paintings lining the brick walls. It almost reminds Maggie of the last warehouse she raided but she keeps that thought to herself. Becca doesn’t mind hearing about her job for the most part, but she doesn’t like it when Maggie “cop-ifies” things. It’s probably good for her; keeps her from turning everything into work.

Becca is off grabbing them drinks from the cash bar when Maggie hears a very familiar laugh and freezes. This is just not happening.

But it is happening. She turns around, and there’s Alex Danvers with yet another very attractive woman. It’s not Riya from the restaurant; this woman is taller, willowy with the height, her brilliant red hair carefully arranged over her shoulder. She cuts a sharp figure in her nice suit and Alex has her arm in the crook of the woman’s elbow, looking pretty damn nice herself in a little black dress.

Maggie is debating the finer merits of just walking away when Alex turns and catches sight of her. Her eyes widen a bit, but she says something to her date and walks over, hips swaying, hands holding her matching clutch in front of her body. “Hi,” she says.

“Fancy meeting you here,” says Maggie.

“I’m just here with a friend. You know, getting out. Um. Learning, I guess.” Alex stammers a little, like she does when she’s nervous, but she’s still smiling.

“Learning?”

“I’m…I never, you know. Did gay stuff before. I mean, like, gay culture. So I guess I’m making up for it now.” Alex looks around as she speaks, clearly still a little uncomfortable saying it all out loud.

Maggie finds herself smiling in return, a genuine happy smile. “That’s really awesome, Danvers. Good for you. How’s it feel?”

A little shrug. “Meeting a lot of new people. My sister is probably more excited about that than I am.”

“That’s good. I’m glad Kara is so supportive,” says Maggie.

“She, uh.” Alex looks down at her shoes. “She keeps setting me up. That’s actually how I met Danny.”

Maggie looks at the redhead over Alex’s shoulder. “Your sister has nice taste.”

Alex’s blush is immediate and adorable. “I mean we’ve barely been out. This is our second date.”

“Hey, you move at your own pace,” Maggie says, and then adds slyly, “But there’s no time like the present.” It’s awful, encouraging Alex to hook up with someone else, but it’s also the right thing to do. She’s clearly exploring, and as long as she’s learning about herself and having fun, Maggie has no place interfering.

“I, uh. How are…”

Becca picks that moment to return, handing Maggie a tumbler of whiskey rocks, and holding a glass of champagne for herself. “Hi again,” she says. “We didn’t meet at the restaurant, but Maggie pointed you out to me.”

“Oh, hi,” Alex says, and they shake and introduce themselves and it’s fine and polite and Maggie just wants the two of them away from each other.

“Well enjoy your night,” she says as soon as she can without interrupting their small talk. One hand touches Becca lightly on the waist to start steering her away and Alex just says her farewells and returns to tall Danny and Maggie does her best to take her own advice. There’s no time like the present, and Becca is here and deserves her full attention.

She falls asleep that night in Becca’s bed, making a sleepy resolution to herself to stop being hung up on someone she said she would be there for as a friend.

*

The leads have almost all gone cold when one of her CI’s finally comes through. Unfortunately he leads her right into an ambush because the word has gone out that a nosy little NCPD detective would like to shut down the alien arms game in National City and she’s backed up in a corner with a rather frightening alien gun chipping away at the concrete column helping to provide her cover and she has maybe half a mag left when there’s a familiar whooshing sound followed by even more familiar punchy sounds.

She peeks out of cover and there’s Supergirl in all her muscle-y glory absolutely laying into the guys who have her pinned down. Maggie feels like letting out a cheer but instead she just does her best to stay out of the way while Supergirl punches six guys in a row.

They start fanning out, trying to catch her from all directions, and Maggie darts out with her best rugby tackle right into the legs of the one closest to her. His shot goes astray, pinging up into the ceiling of the empty warehouse where she thought she was going to find a bunch of alien guns. She jams her knee into the small of his back and manages to cuff him before picking up his discarded weapon. Before she can figure out how to fire it, DEO agents in their signature all black come pouring in. The fight is over in a matter of seconds.

Supergirl, evidently still a little piqued by a bunch of jerks trying to shoot her in the back, doesn’t throw down the gun in her hand, but snaps it easily over her knee before crunching each section in her hands and tossing the pieces at the feet of the guy in charge of these jumped up security guards.

Maggie stands up from the perp she collared. “Have I ever told you that you have the best timing,” she says to Supergirl.

“You could have called us for backup,” she says. “Agent Danvers or I would have been happy to help.”

“To be fair to me, I didn’t know I would need backup,” says Maggie, impish grin taking the edge off. She’s still shaking a little from the adrenaline, the shock of being fired upon, thinking that maybe today was the day she was finally gonna bite off more than she could chew.

Alex saunters up, looking very official in all her tactical gear. “Care to sit in on the interrogation, Detective Sawyer?” she asks.

“What every girl dreams of getting for Christmas,” says Maggie. She rides in an SUV with Alex back to the DEO, very aware that the vehicle is full of other agents. Alex sits shotgun and doesn’t say much, just calls ahead to have an interrogation room prepared. She can still feel her hands trembling and balls them into fists, holding them tight down by her thighs to hide them.

The agents pile out in the DEO garage, headed for the gun cage. Maggie just follows Alex, who hands off her gear to a junior agent and leads the way to the elevator and up into the building proper. Supergirl meets them there, having flown up, and Maggie would be lying if she didn’t have a reaction to the site of Supergirl floating in that high window, haloed by sunlight. It’s a very iconic image, and she did just save Maggie’s life. She offers Maggie her friendliest greeting yet, having evidently taken her apology to heart, because of course when Supergirl apologizes she means it.

“Come on,” says Alex. She shows Maggie to the interrogation room, where the prisoner is just being led in and shackled to a steel table bolted to the floor. “How do you wanna play this?”

“Ooh ooh,” says Supergirl. “Alex you should be the bad cop.” She glances at Maggie and tries to make her face a little less puppy-like with what she probably considers a professional scowl. “I mean, Agent Danvers, you’re very intimidating.”

Alex just makes an amused expression. “I think we’ll start with regular cop regular cop. After you, Sawyer.” She pushes open the door and gestures.

Interrogation is short and sweet. The guy flips quickly enough, less afraid of his boss than he is of doing hard time in a federal prison where they send people who commit really bad alien-related offenses. They’re slowly climbing up the pecking order, and now that they have the next rung on the ladder, Maggie feels like it’s only a matter of time until they nail their man to the wall. It’s just good, solid police work, the kind she always loved digging into, especially right now with Alex by her side.

“How about a drink. We can figure out next moves,” Maggie says as they stand outside interrogation.

“Oh, uh.” Alex’s hands go to their safe spot, on her waist above her belt. “I’m meeting up with someone tonight. Maybe you can just fill us in if this pans out? I’ll make sure my agents know you’re to be notified if we turn up something first.”

“Yeah, sure. Of course,” says Maggie. She uses her detective voice, that firm “I know what I’m doing” voice she’s had to cultivate after years with macho cops looking over her shoulder, and even more years with ignorant small-town assumptions following her around. “Thanks for the interrogation. It was nice to see you doing honest work for once.”

“I do plenty of honest work,” Alex says, mouth dropping open.

This feels good, Alex giving back as good she gets. It’s like when they first met and Maggie had thought in the back of her mind, oh, here’s someone who might get me, here’s someone who’s gonna make work interesting. “All right, big time federal agent. I gotta get back to my trenches.”

“Yeah, I’ll just be here enjoying a latte and a bath,” says Alex, and Maggie immediately says her goodbyes and makes her way to the elevator to cope with the image of Alex in a bathtub.

Supergirl is waiting for her at the elevator, her arms crossed in a very familiar pose.

“Uh oh,” says Maggie. “What’d I do wrong now.”

“Agent Danvers is my friend,” says Supergirl, and even though her pose is intimidating, her tone isn’t nearly as cold as it was when she was giving Maggie the brush-off. “And I can tell she’s been happier lately. I know you’ve been a good friend to her, so I’m asking you to keep doing that.”

“I am. I will,” says Maggie.

“You’re the one who turned her down,” says Supergirl.

Maggie nearly reels back in surprise that Alex would have confided that in her, close friend or no. She clearly underestimated the strength of their friendship.

“I see how you look at her. And she may not, but if she does, that’s going to confuse her. So please, keep your promise to be there for her as a friend, and only as a friend.” Supergirl tilts her head slightly, the warning clear.

“Or else?” Maggie says jokingly, but the delivery is weak.

“I’m not threatening you, detective. Just trying to protect a friend. Have a good evening.” And she walks off, head held high, cape swishing.

Quite frankly, Maggie preferred the cold shoulder.

*

She throws herself into her relationship with Becca, and it continues to be nice. Sometimes being with her, Maggie can even pretend for a bit that Becca is someone she could come to love. She feels crummy underneath it all, knowing that she’s just leading this girl on, and the tension of it makes her sleep badly, and that makes her short-tempered and distracted at work.

“You’ve been working really hard babe,” Becca says one night when Maggie is drooping after dinner. “You should have a night off, hang out with some friends.”

It sounds like a good idea. There have been a string of break-ins at alien-registered addresses recently and between those and tracking down the arms dealer, she hasn’t exactly been keeping up her social life. Maybe a beer after work once a week, and she put in an appearance at some work function with Becca where they talked about tree fungus and insects that had her zoning out pretty quickly.

The alien bar is hopping as usual. She hasn’t been by except to check in with her CI’s lately and it hits her how much she’s missed this place. She can breathe here, feel nearly invisible with how little she stands out, even if she is a human. After a long childhood of being stared at, one of the greatest luxuries can be to go where she’s utterly normal and no one really gives a flip about what she does.

Alex Danvers is, of course, the wrench in her plans, because that’s just Maggie’s life now. She’s leaning over one of the pool tables, casually lining up a shot, then sinking a solid ball in a corner pocket. She straightens up, smirking a little bit at the woman she’s playing with, and Maggie just keeps walking to the bar to get a drink.

For a moment she has a chance to watch Alex play, watch her saunter around the table and lean towards this other woman, who’s a bit on the short side but with some killer curves and carefully styled short hair that Maggie is certainly not admiring. When she’s not having an existential crisis, Alex Danvers is surprisingly smooth. Maggie remembers that kiss, their first and last, her utter surprise at being pulled in with such confidence and how good the kiss was for all that it was a complete shock. She and Alex hadn’t really gotten to the part of their friendship where they talked about the people they were dating. Well, and Alex was never dating anyone, and Maggie was heading for a disaster, so. Alex Danvers is smooth, who knew.

Alex glances towards the bar and spots Maggie and she lifts her pint glass in a little salute, her elbows tucked back on the bar top. Alex says something to her date, who just smiles at her, kind of dopily if Maggie is being honest.

“Hi,” says Alex, leaning up against the bar next to Maggie. “Haven’t seen you around here lately.”

“You stealing my spot, Danvers?” Maggie asks.

“Just trying to get out more. My life has kind of been all about work and my sister for so long I’m…well, you know.” Alex doesn’t sound resentful at all, just fresh and new and kind of excited by the prospect of it. Happy.

“That’s good,” says Maggie and means it. “You seem more relaxed.”

“I feel more relaxed,” Alex says. She looks at Maggie for a long moment. “Thank you, by the way.”

Maggie’s smile goes lopsided. “For what?”

“For…you know, being gentle with me. For being understanding. And giving me space. I really appreciate it.” Alex is genuine and steady, looking at her with this quiet confidence that Maggie finds utterly, devastatingly attractive, and she knows she can’t do anything about it.

“Hey, I remember what it was like.” Maggie tilts her glass towards Alex a bit. “If I could make it easier in any way, it was basically my duty to do it.”

“I’ll keep that in mind if I ever meet anyone else going through a late bloomer crisis,” Alex says.

“Come on, I still owe you a beer,” Maggie says.

“Oh uh, I have to get one for my, uh…” Alex glances back at the pool table where her date is racking up balls.

“Hey, don’t let me interrupt. I’m just here for a drink and some quiet time,” says Maggie.

“You could join us if you want,” Alex offers with that kind of last-offer politeness that comes at the end of a conversation.

Maggie really has zero interest in third-wheeling it, but she hides it behind pretending to be tired. “Really. I’m cool. Enjoy your night. I just wanted a drink to wind down. It’s been a long day.”

“Okay. Well, if you change your mind,” Alex says, slipping cash towards the bartender and taking her two drinks.

Maggie makes herself finish her beer at a regular pace and goes out the back way so she doesn’t have to pass the pool tables again.

*

The breakup with Becca is better than Maggie could have hoped. Becca is a better person than Maggie deserves and one night she sits Maggie down and confesses she just doesn’t feel a spark and would really like them both to have a chance to spark with someone. They’re not getting younger and life is short and so on.

They hug and Maggie gathers up a few of the things she’d left at Becca’s – extra shirt, change of underwear, biography she was slowly working her way through – and slips out, glad she can fit everything into a pack she can secure to the back of her bike. She can see now how she was resisting intertwining their lives almost every step of the way. It turned out to be for the best.

Her apartment feels lonely that night, but she also feels cleaner than she has in a while. She looks at her phone a long time while she lies in bed, debating whether to turn in early or to try and talk to someone about this. She doesn’t feel particularly bad. But she did come to the end of something, and there’s an urge to process it a little bit just to get her feelings completely straight.

The chat window with Alex is open before she can fully realize what her thumbs are doing. one word of advice Danvers, no matter how long you’ve been doing this breaking up is always weird.

The text hovers there for a while before she backspaces, the words disappearing faster and faster, and then she starts over. let’s hang out tomorrow and brainstorm some leads for our case

This one she sends, and when Alex doesn’t reply right away, she leaves her phone plugged in on the nightstand and rolls over, missing the ability to just snuggle up to another body under the covers.

*

Alex texts her back in the morning, saying she’ll stop by for lunch at the precinct. It’s more of a work meetup than Maggie wanted but also she did say she just wanted to talk about their case, so she can’t really be disappointed.

She half expects Supergirl to come too, the way she’s been keeping an eye on Maggie whenever she’s remotely near Alex. But Alex plops down next to her desk, tossing a large paper bag on top of her file folders. “Cheeseburger, extra pickles, extra onions,” she says.

“This is proof god exists and she loves me,” says Maggie, grabbing the burger marked XP-XO and diving into it so fast she almost gets some of the wrapper in her teeth.

Alex laughs at her and opens up her salad. “So what have you got so far?”

Maggie mumbles something through a mouthful that doesn’t even sound like words, holds up a finger, and slides over a file from the other side of her desk so she can keep eating. Alex makes a slightly disgusted face at the way Maggie is really drilling down into her burger but Alex has seen her eat before and knows what cheeseburgers from Mac’s do for her so she continues to enjoy, only tapping her finger on the file to indicate Alex should catch up.

She does, flipping through the file, occasionally taking a bite of her healthy whatever with avocado and supergreens or whatever is the good food right now. The cheeseburger is gone in fifteen minutes and Maggie looks almost sadly at her wrapper before balling it up and dabbing at her mouth with a napkin.

“I think it might be time to ask Interpol for help,” Alex says, turning a page and reading down line by line with that little concentration furrow she gets right above her eyes.

“Last time I asked for help they gave me a week long runaround before they sent me the least helpful file I’ve ever received,” Maggie says.

“I have a friend there,” Alex says offhandedly.

“All right DEO, just calm down there,” Maggie says. Alex tosses a crumpled napkin at her.

They make plans to see if their mysterious dealer has pulled off similar operations in cities outside the United States, and the last ten minutes of lunch is just shooting the shit. Alex mentions a few dates and Maggie just nods encouragingly, even though every single one is harder to pull off than the last.

“Kara keeps buying me all these, uh, queer literature books,” says Alex, and a few months after coming out she already sounds more comfortable just saying the words.

“You know, I kind of envy you,” Maggie says, watching her, trying not to look overly fond.

Alex scoffs.

“I mean it. Not the figuring it out later stuff, that’s always hard. But you have access to a lot of stuff that a small-town kid ten years ago might not have been able to find. Look at you, you’re practically blooming,” says Maggie.

Alex’s scoffing deepens into mock disgust. “Blooming? Please tell me you did not say blooming.”

“Admit you’re a rose, Danvers. Past all the thorns and stuff, you’re blooming,” Maggie says, and then panics on the inside when she realizes how perilously close she is to flirting with the one woman she absolutely cannot flirt with at the moment. It was always so easy before with Alex, and Maggie flirts like she breathes, and that’s what got them into this mess in the first place.

Thankfully Alex continues to play at being grossed out and at the end of their meal, helps clean up and promises to get that Interpol contact to come through.

“Thanks for lunch,” Maggie says.

“You’re buying next time,” Alex says. It makes Maggie want to make their next-time lunch plans right then and there. She plays it cool.

“Sure, but I’m not buying a salad,” Maggie says, earning her a dirty look as Alex strolls away from her desk.

*

Maggie buys her the damn salad. She even asks for extra power kale or whatever the enthusiastic girl behind the counter recommends. “This is thanks for the Interpol tip,” she says, dropping the salad next to Alex’s arm at her desk at the DEO. Her office is nice, open and bright, with a great view of the city.

“You know, J’onn said we should bar you from entering the DEO but I fought for you and it paid off,” Alex says, happily accepting her food.

“Excuse me?” Maggie says, dropping into the seat on the other side of Alex’s desk.

“Don’t worry about it, I’m on your side,” Alex says, like they’re conspiring together.

Like a puppy who’s heard the crinkling of the treat bag, Supergirl appears at the open door. “Detective Sawyer. Good to see you again,” she says.

Maggie looks at the way Supergirl is eyeing her takeout box of fries and silently proffers it.

“Oh no, I couldn’t," Supergirl says, even as she inches into the office. “Are those from Mac’s?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, maybe just one.” Supergirl almost daintily picks out a single fry and eats it with something like bliss on her face.

“Go get your own fries,” Alex says sternly.

“But-”

“Stop eating other people’s lunches.”

Supergirl honest to god pouts, but leaves in a rush of wind. One minute later she’s back with her very own extra-large box of fries slathered in cheese. It looks like the platter size that Mac’s sells to people for football games. “Superpowered metabolism,” she says to Maggie, eating six fries at once. She plops down, still in costume, like she’s not one of the most powerful beings on the planet, and stuffs her face with junk food. “So what are we discussing?”

“We’ve got another lead on the arms dealer case thanks to Interpol,” says Alex. “Maggie helped us track it down.”

She’s not particularly sure why Alex wants to give her credit she hasn’t earned in front of Supergirl, but she’s willing to let it play out a little bit.

Supergirl sits up in her seat, precariously balancing her box of food. “Do we know where he is?”

“Well we know now he’s set up operations like this before in a couple different cities, all of them in Europe and Asia so far,” says Alex. “So we can generally predict what he’ll do next since he seems to follow the same pattern.”

“Although he didn’t have a super smashing and grabbing his operations as fast as he could get them set up,” Maggie points out.

Supergirl kind of preens, or she would if it weren’t for the fries sticking out of her mouth.

“There hasn’t been any activity for a while, so he’s probably trying to put a more solid, widespread network into place, something we can’t dismantle easily with a raid,” Alex says.

“So let’s not give them the time to set up,” says Supergirl, sounding ready to flip her box of fries and go punch somebody right then and there. Maggie’s a little envious of that Alex has a ride-or-die friend like Supergirl, as if it weren’t already obvious from all the passive aggressiveness right after Alex came out.

“Problem, we don’t have a concrete target yet,” Alex admits. She digs around in her salad, perhaps searching for inspiration, perhaps just kind of glum that she can’t find the next step in this investigation. Maggie knows at the DEO they’re used to much faster action and result, especially with all their resources and their kind of scary unilateral capacity to act.

“Well let’s hit the streets hard,” says Supergirl. “You know, shake out…pockets. Ask tough questions. Right?”

Maggie wants so badly to laugh but Supergirl is very earnestly looking at the two of them and it’s honestly not a bad suggestion. It’s just really impossible right now to imagine Supergirl giving the hairy eyeball to anyone, much less some tough gunrunner with a couple of prison tours under his belt. But Maggie has seen her when she’s mad on behalf of someone she values, and maybe that’s the Supergirl they can bring out. “Yeah, sure. I’m game,” she says.

Alex gives her a capital-L Look but Maggie ignores her. “It’ll be good for Supergirl to walk a beat, keep those boots on the ground,” Maggie says, her tone the equivalent of digging her elbow into Supergirl’s ribs a little bit. She bets actually elbowing Supergirl would be like hitting concrete.

“I’ve never walked a beat before,” says Supergirl, sounding entirely too charmed by the prospect.

“I need to keep you two apart,” Alex mutters.

*

Maggie had expected Supergirl to just fly ahead and meet them at the first address where she thinks one of her CI’s might be laying low, but instead she gets into the backseat of Maggie’s sedan and looks expectantly at her behind the wheel.

“This is weird,” Maggie says.

“I could fly all of us there,” Supergirl offers. “Your car will be easy to handle.”

“No, no, all four tires of my car will be staying on the ground,” Maggie says right away, starting the engine. Next to her, Alex is smirking, as if to say I told you so.

They head out to the suburbs, to one of the smaller, poorer neighborhoods. They trot up to the door of a house near a cul de sac, Maggie leading the way and Supergirl bringing up the rear. A couple of people are gawking, unused to seeing Supergirl in their neighborhood walking around like she’s just making a house call.

Maggie knocks, then pulls off her sunglasses and clips them to the front of her shirt. There’s no response. “Might be at work,” Maggie says.

Supergirl squints, then straightens up. “No, there’s definitely someone in the back bedroom.”

Maggie knocks again, louder this time, but still no response.

“Oh,” Supergirl says softly.

“What?” Maggie asks, looking at her, how she’s suddenly downfallen.

“I can’t hear his heartbeat,” Supergirl says, very softly, as though it’s her fault.

“Shit,” says Maggie, preparing to charge through the door.

“I got it,” says Supergirl. She twists off the knob of the door handle, then gives the door a push with two fingers, cracking the deadbolt right through the frame. Maggie rushes in, headed towards the back of the house. But they’re far too late; the body in the master bedroom is room temperature, eyes fixed up on the ceiling.

“Shit,” Maggie says again, pulling back from feeling for his pulse, one knee on the mattress.

Alex comes up behind her, and a warm hand lands on her shoulder. It’s the first time Alex has touched her in a non-professional way, in their old friend way, since that night at the bar, and she realizes how much she missed it. She missed her friend, and even though it was for the best that they spend a little time apart, that doesn’t mean it didn’t suck. She covers Alex’s hand with hers and for a moment takes comfort from the connection.

“I’ll call it in,” Maggie says. She pats Alex’s hand and leaves the bedroom, finding Supergirl waiting respectfully in the living room.

“He’s got a lot of mail piled up,” says Supergirl.

“He was a slob and kind of a shut-in so that’s not the best indicator of the last time he went out,” Maggie says glumly. She notices how Supergirl picks up the glumness too and tries again. “But it’ll help us establish a general range. You wanna help me talk to his neighbors?”

“Me?” Supergirl asks, pointing to her own chest.

“Yeah, I think they’ll open up more if they see you’re involved. Make them feel safer about talking.”

“Gosh. Sure.” Supergirl is back to her previous enthusiasm levels, already looking impatiently at the door. She seems to gather herself a bit when she notices Maggie not heading out right away. “I’m still learning to do this part. The asking questions part. It’s part of my day-” Abruptly her mouth clicks shut. “Uh part of my days at the DEO now. Because I want to do more than just fly and punch things.”

That is very distinctly not what she meant to say, which Maggie files away for later. “Let’s secure the scene first, then when backup arrives we’ll ask questions,” she says.

They spend the time walking around the house, looking for evidence. Maggie tries not to think about how if she’d only come and checked on the guy sooner, he might still be alive. He was a terrible CI and she hadn’t really expected this to pan out, but with his death she knows they’re probably close to something relevant, and it sucks that he died for it.

Maggie is right about the neighbors, though. A lot of them are only too happy to help Supergirl, especially one old lady across the street who doesn’t speak a ton of English but holds Supergirl’s hand to her forehead and says something that might be a blessing. “Oh, your gutters are loose,” says Supergirl, who spends the next twenty minutes fixing things around the lady’s house while Maggie continues questioning people. When she comes back Supergirl has fixed and cleared the gutters, taken out the trash, raked up the dead leaves in the back yard, repainted the inside of her garage, and gone and brought back a couple of bags of groceries.

“Do you take in stray animals too,” Maggie deadpans.

Supergirl’s shoulders droop. “I’m not allowed to adopt animals because I would have too many.”

“Who told you that?”

“I did,” says Alex, joining them on the sidewalk. “Coroner’s report will take a while, but I got a witness who says he saw someone leaving through the back door this morning who matches the description of one of the suspected links to our guy.”

“Well let’s go get him,” says Supergirl, back in crimefighting mode, hands on her hips.

“You have…” Alex motions to her own cheek.

“Oh,” says Supergirl, and rubs off the eggshell paint on her face.

*

Working with Alex and Supergirl is fun. It’s definitely fun having a perp try to take off, only to run bodily into a red-and-blue immovable object, bounce onto the concrete, and immediately give up. Maggie likes it when they give up easily. She’s almost ready to take a request to her boss for an arrest warrant for their guy by the end of the day, and that’s the only reason why she asks Alex to go out for a drink at their usual spot. It’s not that she’s spent the whole day watching Alex be competent at her job and patient and kind with her friend, Supergirl. It’s that they’re just two law enforcement officers who need to get off their feet after pounding the pavement for six hours.

Supergirl is invited too, which is how Maggie justifies it as being totally friendly.

Supergirl looks at Maggie, really looks at her, like she’s using the emotional version of her x-ray vision. And then she looks at Alex and some kind of silent communication goes down, that best friend telepathy that takes years to develop, and she fakes a very unconvincing yawn. “Oh, no, I’m exhausted. I have to get to…rest. For tomorrow. Thanks for the invite though, detective.”

She takes off, and Maggie definitely wishes she could just leave a conversation by flying away.

“How long have you guys known each other?” she asks Alex.

“Sometimes it feels like all our lives,” Alex says, still following Supergirl’s dwindling figure in the sky. She comes back down and smiles at Maggie. “Ready to owe me a drink?”

And so they go to the alien bar, and Maggie loses at pool, and she buys their drinks, and they talk about work, and Alex talks about some of the girls she’s dated over the past couple of months. Ones she met on apps, ones her sister set her up with, even one she met at work.

“It just, it feels like it was supposed to. Everything my friends always talked about, the fun they had. I finally know what they meant,” Alex says, her hands trying to describe the ineffable over her pint glass.

“It’s a good feeling,” Maggie agrees.

“What about you? What about that girl from the art gallery? Um.” Alex thinks for a moment. “Becca?”

Maggie makes a light, dismissive noise. “We were just having fun for a while.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Alex says sincerely.

“Don’t be. We were just hanging out, maybe seeing if it turned into anything. No hard feelings on either side.” This is undoubtedly the greatest acting job Maggie has ever pulled because Alex is nodding along like she buys all of it, like Maggie isn’t dying a little bit on the inside as she hears Alex describe all these undoubtedly beautiful women who just weren’t quite right for her but were definitely a lot of fun.

Alex looks at her watch. “Well, I gotta run.”

“Hot date?” Maggie asks, not really teasing.

Alex pulls her jacket off the stool, pulling it on in one smooth move. “I learned from the best, Sawyer. Don’t keep a lady waiting.” She drops a few bills on the bar top and then she’s gone and Maggie is left with her drink and the feeling that she’s going to have to do something about her life, and soon.

*

When in doubt, call your mother.

“I’m stuck and I don’t know how to get out of it,” she confesses.

Her mother, who took a little while to be confused but never stopped loving her daughter and now pesters her on the regular about grandchildren (“Adoption or in vitro, mija. You can do it either way these days.” “MOM PLEASE.”), sighs over the line. “Did you create this situation yourself.”

Maggie would be offended except her mother knows her so well. “It was the right choice to make at the time. But now it’s a different time, and I want to make a different choice.”

“What’s stopping you?”

Maggie considers that. “What if she doesn’t like me anymore after I told her no?”

“Then she won’t like you anymore and it will hurt.”

That’s her mom, straight shooter. Maggie sighs, sounding just like her mother. “And I guess it wouldn’t be fair of me after I said no to suddenly turn around and say actually, I changed my mind.”

“Minds change. Situations change. Be honest and direct. The rest is up to her.”

Maggie sags a little. She wants her mom to tell her it’ll all be okay and she doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to do. But those days are past. Her mother raised her to see past bullshit, encouraged her to get out of their little town, to pursue whatever dream she had no matter how far away it took her. “Okay, mom.”

“Do you know if she wants children?”

“MOM.”

*

Normally Maggie would take a couple of uniforms as backup to serve a warrant. Considering their guy is some kind of major arms dealer who has been setting up high-profile crimes across the city, this warrants slightly heavier firepower.

This time Maggie and four uniformed officers take the elevator up to the twentieth floor of some fancy corporate building, with another two in a car waiting on the ground. She hopes it doesn’t get messy; this would be a lot easier if they were in some abandoned warehouse in the boonies. But of course a fancy European gun smuggler with alien tech would set up in a corporate office filled with people. Maybe it would be better to call in Supergirl, but she figures she can just call Alex when they’re back at the precinct.

She marches right past the stammering secretary and into the office, finding their man at his desk on the phone, leaning back in his expensive-looking ergonomic chair.

Everything is going swimmingly until they actually put him in one of the cars. They’re only a block away from the office building when absolute pandemonium breaks out. The lead car goes flying sideways into the sidewalk, sending pedestrians scattering. A huge piece of steel embeds itself in the hood of the follow car, the one containing their perp. Maggie pushes back in her seat, her entire body reverberating with the heavy chunk that went through the whole car and killed the engine. She’s on the radio, calling it in, her other hand pulling her gun from its holster, trying to get a twenty on the shooters while Mr. Fancy Arms Dealer smirks at her from the backseat.

“Shut the fuck up,” she tells him, and then ducks as something else whistles into the car, piercing the driver’s side and neatly impaling Officer Cho.

“Goddammit,” Maggie says, trying to hold her hands around the piece of metal to help contain the bleeding.

“Go, get to cover,” says Cho through a grimace.

She kicks open the door and dives out, rolling and getting back to her feet to dive behind a concrete column.

Masked men in black swarm the car, prying open the back door with something that is definitely alien, pulling her perp loose and hustling him off. This is right about when Maggie expects Supergirl to show up, but she never does, and Maggie can’t do anything but try to fire back when her line of sight clears of civilians while Officer Cho slowly bleeds to death in his car.

It’s over in minutes, even though to Maggie it felt like hours. From beginning to end the extraction probably took three, maybe four minutes. Fast and professional, not a ton of collateral damage, if you can count one civilian critically wounded and four more in bad-to-okay shape as “not a ton.” The cops in the lead car weren’t so lucky.

DEO cars come screeching up outside the perimeter after the ambulances have already come and gone, Cho still miraculously hanging on.

Alex is speedwalking to where Maggie sits sideways in the passenger seat of the cruiser with the door open, just looking at all the carnage. “Maggie, what the hell were you thinking, you should have called-”

“Where were you guys?” Maggie croaks. She couldn’t have been yelling for that long, but her throat feels raw.

“There was an incident on the other side of town. It must have been a distraction to ensure Supergirl wouldn’t show up here,” says Alex.

“These guys are coordinated. Big time. Lots of personnel, lots of training.”

“You should have waited to deliver the warrant, this was a joint investigation-”

“I don’t need your permission to do my job, Danvers,” Maggie says mildly, but something in her tone is still enough to shut Alex’s mouth.

“That’s not what I meant, I just meant—”

“Look, can we do this later? I lost two of my guys and Cho is going to the hospital so…” Wearily, Maggie pushes herself to her feet. She needs to find a ride to the hospital first, and then her lieutenant is probably going to yell at her for the rest of the night.

“I’m sorry,” Alex says, her posture softening. “Let me give you a ride.”

Maggie shrugs. “Sure.”

In the silence of the DEO SUV, Maggie sits and zones out. “This is a nice car,” she says. “You guys really went all out. What is this, real leather?”

Alex chances a quick glance at her while she drives. “Maggie, I think you’re in shock. Did any of the paramedics check you out at the scene?”

She’s got a whole world of shrugs in her tonight, and not much else. “They had more important things to take care of.”

“You’re important, Maggie. I’m gonna make sure someone checks you out at the hospital.”

Maggie laughs humorlessly. “Make sure she’s hot. Maybe I can get her number.”

“I’ll be sure to ask them for the hottest doctor on call,” Alex says, playing along, but sounding far too worried for Maggie’s taste.

“So,” Maggie says after they’ve been stuck at a stoplight for a minute. “How was it on your end?”

“Supergirl managed to clean things up before they got too bad,” Alex says. “We rounded up about a dozen guys, all of them armed with similar tech. We think they might have figured it out and set up manufacturing.”

“Yikes,” Maggie says.

“Yeah. Yikes,” Alex murmurs.

The hospital is busy with the casualties from the attack, but somehow Alex gets them into a curtained-off area in the ER and makes Maggie sit down on the bed while she takes a nearby rolling stool.

“I have to go see how Cho is doing,” Maggie says, trying to get up. Alex is there, steady pressure on her shoulders keeping her seated.

“Not until the doctor checks you out,” she says.

“Fuck you, I’m going to see Cho,” Maggie says, trying to stand up again. She doesn’t know how Alex is keeping her in her seat so easily. “Since when are you this strong?”

“You’re in shock,” Alex says again, slower, like Maggie didn’t get her the first time. “It’s why you’re shivering.”

“I’m not-” But she is, she realizes as soon as she focuses on her own body. Her hands feel cold, almost bloodless. “Um.”

Alex pulls the knit blanket from the end of the bed and drapes it around Maggie’s shoulders, and then pulls Maggie close in a hug, her arms keeping her still, her chin resting on Maggie’s shoulder. “It’ll be okay. I’m sorry I was an insensitive jerk at the crime scene. I was worried about you.”

“How are you this warm,” Maggie mumbles, turning her face into the crook of Alex’s neck, letting her nose burrow in.

“I’m not. You’re just really cold right now.”

“Well sometimes emotional distance is a tool we use to protect ourselves,” Maggie says with a smirk she knows Alex can’t see.

“I didn’t mean—”

“Just laugh at the joke, Danvers.”

Alex just rubs her back over the blanket, a soothing circular motion that makes Maggie want to cry all of a sudden. “Alex,” she says.

“Mm?”

“I want to take you out on a date.”

The rubbing stops. “Oh.” Alex pulls back, though she keeps her hands on Maggie’s shoulders.

“Come on. Things are different now. You’ve been around the block a few times. It wouldn’t be a disaster like if I’d said yes right away.”

“Maggie-”

“What’ve you got to lose?” Maggie asks. She scoots forward, knees spreading a bit to keep Alex standing close.

“I think we can talk about this later, when you haven’t just been through a traumatic experience,” Alex says. Her tone is so kind, so understanding, it makes Maggie feel almost worse. She wants a fight, she wants yelling, anger, something she can get mad at. Not this sinking feeling that everything is going wrong.

“You don’t like me anymore or what?” Maggie asks.

“It’s not that, it’s–you were right, Maggie. If I had dived into something right away with you, who knows what would have happened. I did so much learning these past few months I’m not sure I’m totally the same person anymore.” Alex squeezes her shoulders.

“That’s not a no.”

“That’s a…” Alex’s mouth twists into something that looks like regret and hope at the same time. “We’ll talk about it later. When you have your head on straight.”

Maggie laughs. “My head’s never on straight.”

This time Alex smiles with good humor. “You know what I mean.”

Maggie stares at her, her kind face radiating sympathy, not judging her. “You’ll stay?”

“Yes,” Alex says. She steps close again, hugging Maggie, sharing her warmth. Even in shock, Maggie knows she’s a goner.

*

Alex wants to stay with her and take her home, but Maggie has to report back to her precinct and start trying to make sense out of the giant cluster that this investigation has become.

“Promise me you’ll keep the DEO up to date. We should be handling this together,” Alex says from the foot of Maggie’s hospital bed.

“Get out of here, Danvers,” Maggie says while the doctor takes her blood pressure.

Alex was right; it was shock, and she’s discharged without a fuss about half an hour later. She checks in on Cho’s surgery, but there’s no word yet, just a bunch of grey-faced cops in a waiting room while they wait for his wife to arrive.

Her lieutenant is surprisingly understanding back at the precinct and lets her head home after filing her preliminary incident report. He made some noises about benching her but she just looked him directly in the eye and said she’d be in early tomorrow.

Her apartment is quiet and lonely, but she could use quiet and lonely at the moment. A lot of the immediate aftermath of the attack is a bit blurry, the memories refusing to stay coherent. She can’t quite remember what she said to Alex at the hospital either, but she knows she made her move and Alex was kind but firm and they’re probably going to go back to being awkward again.

Exhaustion hits her like Supergirl punching someone through a wall, the last of the shock and adrenaline wearing off and leaving her a bit faint. She rummages in her pantry for some food, fully intending to put something warm in her stomach and go to bed, but then there’s a knock on her door.

She knows it’s Alex. Even before she opens the door she knows and Alex’s face is as kind and worried as she thinks it was when they were at the hospital.

“How are you?” Alex asks. She leans against the doorframe with one arm, leather jacket open to reveal a soft-looking black sweater underneath.

“Not feeling great, but not dead either,” Maggie says. She walks away from the open door, a clear invitation for Alex to come in, but she lingers in the entrance. Maggie waggles the cans of soup she pulled out. “I’ve got Campbell’s finest if you’re hungry.”

“Ate at the DEO,” Alex says. She tilts her head. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“Short people are naturally feisty. It’s cause we’re angry all the time at being short,” Maggie jokes.

“Well, I won’t keep you up,” Alex says, already making to walk away even though she just got here and said two sentences. Screw peace and quiet; Maggie really doesn’t want her to leave.

“Hey,” she says. “I don’t remember everything I said to you at the hospital, but I know you were there for me. So thank you.”

“You were…” Alex makes an interesting face. “Fine.”

Maggie’s eyebrows pop up. “Define ‘fine’.”

“Very, um. Forward,” Alex says, though she looks amused by it.

“Oh no.” Maggie leans on the kitchen island on her elbows, her face going in her hands. “What did I say.”

“You may have implied that I’ve been sleeping around,” Alex says, still amused. She joins Maggie at the island, one hand just barely brushing Maggie’s forearm to get her to lift her head. “But it’s okay. It’s flattering, honestly, that you think I have that kind of game.”

“Please, Danvers. You have so much game,” Maggie says.

“I guess…” Alex looks at her hands on the island, thinking for a moment. “I’m not a teenager. I didn’t really feel right to go at this like I was sixteen, you know? I mean I may not have dated women before but I’ve dated. I have life experience. I know myself pretty well…minus the gay thing. So in some ways I had less to figure out than a kid coming out. Not that it wasn’t hard, but at least I don’t have acne and braces anymore.”

Maggie snorts a small laugh at that. “Yeah, that’s rough whether you’re straight or gay.”

“And sixteen-year-old me definitely didn’t have a bike to impress women,” Alex adds.

Maggie looks up at her, half incredulous. “Wow. That might be the gayest thing you’ve said yet.”

“They dig the bike!” Alex says, holding her hands out in a what-can-you-do gesture. “I got it for me. It’s just a nice side benefit that so many women like it.”

“Ok, so many women, I get it, you’re a hot item,” Maggie says, and she means it in a lighthearted way but it makes Alex go quiet.

“Maggie…”

She has no idea what to say now, what to do. Her mother said be honest and direct but she can barely look at Alex.

“You know I’ll always be grateful to you for giving me the time and space to get comfortable with myself,” Alex says. “I don’t want you to think you have to…feel bad. Or guilty, or anything.”

“I mean I did,” Maggie admits. “I felt bad because I made you sad. And I know it was best for both of us but I hated that it made you sad because coming out is so hard and you were trying to be brave and I made it harder.”

“I’m not gonna pretend it wasn’t rough, but I got over it,” Alex says. She touches Maggie’s arm again. “So if this is your way of making me feel better-”

Maggie grabs her hand, letting their fingers twine. “Look, I know you’re dating around right now and having fun. I’m really happy for you, so you just say the word and I’ll back off. I don’t want to rush you at all. But I do like you, even if I articulated it very poorly at the hospital. I’d like to take you out and see what happens. So.” She gives a final squeeze and lets go, trying to stand up straight, bracing herself on the island, forcing herself to look Alex in the eye.

“I…I don’t…” Alex stammers incoherently a few more times.

“Take your time and think about it,” Maggie says, even though what she really wants to say is I almost died today, what are you waiting for, take off your clothes.

“I don’t want to think about it,” Alex says, rounding the island and pulling Maggie to her and kissing her like she’s been waiting months to do that very thing.

*

The day began so abysmally and yet at the end of it Maggie is on her couch, straddling Alex Danvers, hands in her hair, kissing her slow and deep, grinding down and enjoying the little panting sounds Alex is making. She has her hands up under Maggie’s shirt and it’s the nicest feeling she can imagine, short of actually having Alex naked in her bed.

“I, um…” Maggie kisses Alex again. “I really want you to stay, but…” Another kiss. “I think we should go slow.”

“Uh huh,” Alex says, moving down to Maggie’s neck. “Sounds good.”

Maggie tilts her chin up, enjoying the sensation of Alex kissing down to her collarbone. “So you go home and I…” She summons the willpower to sit back a little bit, creating some distance, even though it means Alex’s mouth is no longer touching her. “I stay here and then I take you to dinner.”

“When,” says Alex, looking up at her. Those eyes are gonna be a problem; Maggie has known that since almost the very beginning.

“Tomorrow night,” Maggie says. “Somewhere nice.”

“How nice.” Alex’s hands are wandering, her fingers leaving trails of heat up and down Maggie’s skin.

“Um.” Maggie arches a little under her touch. “Like on a scale of one to ten?”

Alex nods.

“Seven?”

Alex shakes her head.

“Eight?”

“Warmer,” Alex says.

“Damn, nine?”

“We’ve both waited a long time for this,” Alex says. “Make it count.”

“If I’d known you were gonna be high maintenance—”

Alex rolls her eyes and pulls Maggie close again, kissing her and coaxing her mouth open with her tongue. It’s a solid five minutes before Maggie can even think again. “So. A nine restaurant. And what will you be wearing?” she asks, murmuring the question against Alex’s mouth.

“Show up and find out,” Alex says. She presses a few more kisses to the corner of Maggie’s mouth, and then Maggie is reluctantly climbing off of Alex and letting herself fall into the corner of her couch while Alex stands up and straightens out her rumpled clothes.

“Tomorrow night. 8 PM. I’ll text you the location in the morning,” Maggie says. She feels boneless and relaxed even though something awful happened today, and she decides to let herself just have this.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Detective Sawyer,” she says, and lets herself out, something of a swagger in her hips.

“No game my ass,” Maggie mutters to herself.

*

Unfortunately, their plans get derailed by a citywide emergency when their arms dealer decides to go for broke and unleash everyone in his network at the same time. Everything is in lockdown and Maggie knows Alex is probably even busier than she is, trying to put out fires all over the city.

Maggie’s phone rings right around the time she and Alex should be sitting down to an obscenely expensive meal. “Danvers, please tell me this is about our guy and not our date.”

“Who do you think I am? We think he’s getting out of the city under cover of all the chaos. Meet us at the docks. I’ll text you the address.”

“The docks, what’s that, only a one or two on the nice scale?”

Alex hangs up on her.

Maggie arrives at the staging area just fifteen minutes later, glad for the lack of traffic as everyone has gotten off the streets. Alex finds her as she’s pulling her kevlar vest from the trunk and strapping it on. Alex is already all strapped up, with an automatic rifle hanging from a sling in front of her and her sidearm holstered on her thigh.

“He’s on a shipping freighter, we’re not sure where. There’s a lot of lead in the cargo hold so Supergirl hasn’t been able to give us a good fix on his location. Thermals indicate twenty-two onboard. We think some of them are crew, but they could all work for him. We’re assuming everyone is a hostile until proven otherwise.”

“Sounds like another day in National City,” Maggie says.

“Come here,” Alex says, and leads her to the back of an open SUV. First she holds out an earpiece, which Maggie dutifully fits in her ear until it feels snug. Then she holds out another automatic rifle, this one unloaded, which Maggie takes by the barrel and points down, looping the sling over her head and under one arm.

“How do you know I’m rated on these?” she asks.

“DEO vets everyone who walks through its doors,” Alex says steadily.

“Fine. We’ll talk about how unfair it is that you can read my jacket but I can’t read yours later,” says Maggie. She accepts a magazine from Alex and locks it in, working the cocking handle and making sure the safety is on. “Lead on.”

There are two entry points, the main stairwell down into the cargo hold, and a hatch in the bow. Maggie sticks with Alex’s team at the hatch. Supergirl is leading the way down the main stairwell. No punching holes this time. She can feel her adrenaline already spiking as she waits behind Alex for the signal. Her safety is off and she resists the urge to flick nervously at it with her thumb. The signal is evidently Supergirl taking off into the ship and clearing a path for them and after that it’s a jumble of leaping into the hold and clearing the ship deck by deck until they find a room in the stern where Supergirl has already blown through the flimsy wooden door and caught their guy by the collar, keeping him face down on a desk.

Maggie lowers her rifle, wishing she’d asked for a pair of earplugs. Sounds ricochets a lot down here and all the gunfire is still rattling around in her brain. Next to her Alex is already pulling out looped zip ties ready to cuff.

“Nice one,” Maggie says.

Supergirl looks pleased at the praise, but then scowls again at their arms dealer, pushing his face just a little harder against the desk. “You’re gonna answer for all the pain you’ve caused.”

He chuckles, though the effect is ruined by his mouth being half-smushed against the desktop. “Unlikely,” he manages to garble out.

Alex pulls the zip ties tight-maybe a little too tight by the wince on his face-and Supergirl pulls him to his feet, frog-marching him out of the room.

Maggie looks at Alex, still breathing hard from the rush and the firefight. She checks her watch. “It’s not even nine yet. Maybe we can still make our reservation.”

*

The person on the phone had actually laughed when Maggie called to see if they could still get a table at the little French fusion place she had found that would be fancy enough to suit their needs. “There’s always the taco place down the street from my precinct,” she offers to Alex.

Alex seems game as they stow their weapons back in the SUVs, but then Supergirl appears out of nowhere. “Did I hear you guys were planning a date?” she asks. She looks practically giddy over it.

“Um,” says Maggie.

“Sorry, she figured it out,” says Alex, unzipping her utility vest.

“I’m so sorry your reservation got ruined,” says Supergirl, as though it was personally her fault. “But I think I can make it up to you.”

“Um,” Maggie says again.

“Look, I once saved the life of the head chef at Saison and she promised me that I would always have a table at her restaurant but I don’t exactly go out to eat, so…” She honestly seems so happy to be able to do this for them and is looking back and forth between them like if they say no they’ll break her heart.

“I guess so?” Maggie says. She checks with Alex. “You in?”

“It’s kind of better to just go with it when she’s like this,” says Alex.

“Yes, this is fantastic,” says Supergirl. She gives Maggie a slight push that rocks her forward several steps so that she’s standing much closer to Alex, and does the same to Alex, leaving them with barely six inches between them. “Okay, I’ll take care of everything. You guys just go change and show up there whenever.”

“Sure?” Maggie says, bewildered at how quickly the situation has turned on its head.

“You need me to fly you home?” Supergirl asks, and Maggie almost laughs, but then she catches sight of just how deadly serious Supergirl’s face is.

“Thank you, Supergirl,” Alex interrupts. She adds a very pointed look. “We’ll take it from here.”

“Oh, yeah, sure,” says Supergirl, backing off. She looks between the two of them one more time and Maggie could swear she squeals into her hands before taking off into the night sky.

“She do you personal favors a lot?” Maggie asks.

“She’s just…excited. For me.”

“It’s better than when she hated my guts,” Maggie says matter-of-factly.

“Supergirl never hated you,” Alex says, although with her back turned so Maggie can’t see her face.

“She definitely did not like me for a while there.”

“She’s overprotective like that.” Alex finally finishes stripping down to her just her uniform quarter-zip top and turns around, holding her hand out for Maggie’s earpiece.

“So is she like, gonna give me the shovel talk?” Maggie asks, and she means it as a joke, but there’s a flicker of hesitation in Alex’s eyes. Maggie withholds the earpiece just short of Alex’s hand. “Danvers I swear to god you better tell Supergirl she’s not allowed to punt me off the planet.”

“She wouldn’t…not off the planet,” Alex scoffs, too exaggerated to be entirely truthful. “Maybe just from coast to coast.”

“Ha ha, so reassuring,” Maggie grumbles, finally giving Alex the earpiece. She glances around once, sees that everyone else is occupied, and gets up on her toes to plant a kiss square on Alex’s mouth. “Anyway I’m not planning on doing anything to earn a punting. So you can tell her that too.”

Alex makes flustered sounds, fumbles the earpiece, and manages to stow it in a pull-out tray from a small storage compartment. “I will certainly pass that message on.”

“Not the whole message,” Maggie says, enjoying herself at having caught Alex off guard. She pulls back. “See you in an hour?”

“An hour,” Alex confirms. Then it’s her turn to glance around, and her fingers sneak under the shoulder strap of Maggie’s vest and yank her back for another kiss, a little longer than the last. Just when Maggie is opening her mouth, wanting to feel Alex’s tongue with her own, Alex breaks it off and lets go, settling her back on her heels.

Maggie walks back to her sedan, unable to stop grinning.