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Spending My Life Falling Deeper In Love With You

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Alex is drinking a brandy the first time she sees Maggie Sawyer.

She’s twenty-four and it’s just after eight at night. The bar in question is her favorite; it’s two blocks away from the National City University, where she’s working on her dual PhD/MD, and it’s located somewhat in a back alley.

Alex isn’t ashamed to admit that her favorite bar is a dive bar. It’s popular enough for her to not feel like she’s a lone lush holding the bar up, but not so popular that she can’t hear herself think. The floor’s dirty, the beer’s cheap, and the whiskey’s smooth.

It’s not the type of place Alex had frequented when she’d been in undergrad, partying so long and so hard in clubs and bars shadier than this one. Partying with purpose, so that she could barely remember anything more than blurs of those nights. The nights she was trying to completely forget her dad dying and the impossible pressure to be perfect weighing on her so heavy it felt like she was drowning.

No, she’s moved on from those days, thanks to her sister and J’onn – her professor turned mentor – and she’s in a better place in her life. Granted, her a place is fairly centric around work and her sister, but it’s good.

She’s good.

The bar is good. Tame, lowkey, and Alex finds her herself here a couple times a week.

Usually by herself, having a few drinks – not enough to get more than a buzz – working her ass off in the lab at NCU for her thesis. She’s brought Kara a handful of times, but not that often. It’s hers; she even has a barstool that her has name on it.

Okay, so it doesn’t, but she sits in the same one every time and M’gann, her favorite bartender, always gives her a familiar smile when she sits there. And the one time Alex had sat in another seat, M’gann had made mocking conversation with her about being in the wrong place.

She doesn’t forget the first time she saw Maggie Sawyer; her stool faces the door; over a month before they first truly meet, the shorter woman strolls into the bar. Her hands slipped in her pockets while her hips sway with confidence, even as her eyes track the room, measuring.

Her hair is dark and long, falling loosely over her shoulders, wearing a button-up shirt tucked into a pair of tight jeans, and when she grins a bit at the sight of the well-stocked liquor behind the bar, there are dimples.

She isn’t alone, either; she’s followed by a small group of people – mostly men, but a couple of women – who are a little rowdy.

Alex isn’t entirely certain why, but she can’t look away. There’s just a feeling in the pit of her stomach like she can barely breathe, and it’s – unfamiliar. It’s unfamiliar and every time she distracts herself and looks down into her notebook that she’d been jotting ideas down in to go over with J’onn about her thesis as she unwinds at the bar before going home, she can’t help but be drawn back to look up at this dimpled, self-assured woman.

She keeps an eye on the group as she finishes her brandy, slower than she normally does, and grins to herself for some reason when the woman orders a brandy.

It is the first time she saw Maggie Sawyer, but far from the last.

Because Maggie, or as Alex refers to her in her head for a while, Dimples, becomes a regular. Almost as regular as Alex herself. Maybe just as much of a regular, really, even if sometimes their nights at the bar don’t coincide. M’gann casually informs her – for some reason – about the brunette with the dimples coming in whenever Alex herself isn’t there to see her.

It just so happens that Dimples doesn’t come back to the bar with the group of people she came in with that first night. She sometimes comes alone, but more often than not, she brings a woman.

Scratch that – she brings women.

Alex at first thinks they are her friends… until she sees Dimples back one into the back corner and kiss her. It only lasts a few seconds, but it makes Alex’s stomach clench, her eyes go wide, and her cheeks heat, because oh.

It makes more sense, then, why the women who accompany Dimples swap out every few weeks.

It makes less sense for Alex as to why she feels the need to down her brandy and ask for a new one right away to down that, too, to calm the feeling in the pit of her stomach. It isn’t like it makes a difference to her whether Dimples is straight or gay or bi or – whatever. Alex doesn’t even know the woman.

//

She’s drinking a beer the first time they meet for real.

It’s still her first drink of the night, even though she’s been sitting at the bar for almost an hour. But it’s the only one she plans on having.

It’s midterms and all Alex is thinking about her upcoming exam; she wouldn’t even be here if Kara hadn’t staunchly insisted Alex leave their shared apartment. In her sister’s words, Alex had been “holed up” in there, studying so much “her brain was going to turn to mush” and even when Alex had tossed back, “Oh, is that a scientific term?” and teased her, her sister didn’t even break into one of her sunny smiles.

Instead, she’d made those puppy eyes at Alex, beseeching her to at least take some time off from staring at the books and do something else, because it could worry her about how focused Alex could get. She’d even threatened to cancel her date with James in order to stay home and enforce Alex taking a little break.

And since there was an extremely small list of people who could actually get Alex to bend to their will, and her sister was on that list twice, Alex had sighed and left her books at home. Sliding into her leather jacket and making her way out of the apartment. She figured she’d hang out at the bar for a little over an hour – long enough that her sister would be long gone and out enjoying herself – before she went back.

“Anyone sitting here?” a voice shakes her out of her thoughts.

She’s already shaking her head as she answers and turns, “No, go ahe –” her breath catches in her throat when she sees Dimples and, like, dimples. Right there, up close, creasing the brunette’s cheeks. And she hurriedly clears her throat, “Go ahead. It’s, uh, empty.”

Dimples sits down easily, and Alex can’t help but look around and try to spot who Dimples might have brought with her. But she didn’t see any attractive women looking like they are without their date, and she doesn’t see anyone that Dimples is looking at except for her.

Looking at her with a small head tilt – Alex might have noticed that she did that a lot – before she offers a hand, “Maggie Sawyer. I’ve seen you around here a lot.”

“Alex Danvers,” she manages to get out without an issue before she takes another sip from her beer to try to quell her confusion as to what Dimples – no, Maggie – is doing talking to her, “I’ve seen you around here, too.”

Maggie gestures at M’gann for a beer, and when M’gann places it down in front of them, she shoots Alex an encouraging look that she doesn’t quite understand, but her attention is drawn back to Maggie as she says, “Funny thing, you were in the bar the first night I came in; I remember you sitting right here.”

She gestures to where they are and for some reason, Alex wants to flush. But Alex Danvers doesn’t do things like that, and so she nods shortly, “Yeah, this…”

“It’s her seat,” M’gann supplies with a grin, before she turns to serve the people at the other end of the bar.

Alex huffs out a breath at her back, before she can feel Maggie’s amused eyes on her, and she turns her head to look at her again, “Anyway… I think, I remember that night you came in? With a group of people.”

Dark brown eyes sparkle in amusement and surprise, “You remember that?”

Honestly, Alex might have chosen to not actively socialize often, but she knows that she can be better at it than this. Or, maybe this was what she gets from mostly interacting with her professor, her sister, and her sister’s group of rag-tag friends who have somehow become her own for the past few years.

It’s lucky for Alex that her poker face had long since been perfected and she shrugs, her fingers toying with the label on her beer for a moment, “Yeah, sure. It’s not every day big groups of people wander in here,” she lies, “Makes an impression.”

“Huh. For observant people, I guess,” Maggie takes a sip of her beer and notices that Alex is almost done, “Do you want another? Or were you leaving? I have to admit… I hope you weren’t going, because I was kind of hoping I could ask you… what the hell are you always working on in that notebook of yours.”

Even though Alex knows she had plans to go back to her and Kara’s apartment and keep studying, but she finds that she can’t say no to staying for another round – and then another round, with Maggie.

She learns a lot of things that night. Like that Maggie is a year older than she is, that Maggie also drives a motorcycle, and that her favorite movies are the horror movies that she loves that Kara refuses to let them watch during sister nights.

She learns that Maggie doesn’t find science boring, like a lot of people she tries talking to about specific details of her projects, and she calls Alex a nerd, but she does so with affection, when Alex tells her that she’ll be done with her dual PhD and MD at the end of the following semester – a full two years early. She learns that Maggie is impressed with her, and she learns that she likes that.

She also learns that Maggie Sawyer is Officer Maggie Sawyer, and that she’s transferred to National City from Gotham only a few months ago. Her only explanation for this is a grimace and the wave of a hand as she mutters, “Bad breakup.”

And Alex can’t really empathize because she’s never had a real relationship where she cared enough about the guy but she finds that she wants to know more about Maggie and her past. She doesn’t push it though. Because this talking thing is new, and Maggie clearly doesn’t want to talk about it because she’s already moving on in conversation to tell Alex that her first night in the bar – the first night they saw each other – was actually her first night working after her transfer to NCPD, and her coworkers were going out for drinks and had invited her along.

“And yet, you don’t ever come back with them,” Alex states her observation, leaving out the part about how Maggie came back with the dates.

Maggie pauses for a moment, “Yeah, they’re… fine, I guess,” she shrugs and swirls her beer around in the bottle before taking a sip, “I just don’t really play well with others.”

And Alex can empathize with that, “I don’t either.” And they share a grin before clinking the necks of their beer bottles together.

Alex doesn’t know for sure that night that they would be friends, but she does know that it wouldn’t be the end. Because Maggie puts her number into Alex’s phone and challenges her to a game of pool the following night, too.

//

Alex figures out pretty quickly that most of the time, whatever she’s drinking, Maggie will have the same.

She learns that over nights playing pool and kicking Maggie’s ass – even when she tries to let her win! She learns it over nights of Maggie sitting with her while she talks about her thesis and about experiments and equations. She learns it over nights of Maggie falling into the barstool next to Alex’s and resting her head in her hands, looking so worn out that Alex just wants to figure out what she can do to try to make it better.

Those nights blend into months, and before she realizes it, she and Maggie are actually friends.

Maggie brings her a coffee when she realizes that they’ve become friend friends – by that, Alex means friends who hang out outside of a bar. She’s in her lab at NCU and if she didn’t have such practiced reflexes from having her sister sneak up on her when they were teenagers, she might have jumped.

Instead, she is just – surprised.

“Sawyer? What are you doing here?”

And Maggie’s in uniform, which… Alex has never seen her in before – it’s not like she wears it to the bar – but she makes it look good. Really good.

Maggie just shoots her a dimpled smile, “Bringing you a coffee, Danvers. Got assigned to the university beat and it’s slow as hell. Thought I’d swing by your lab and see the fancy digs you’re always talking to me about.” Maggie pokes a finger at some of the equipment and whistles, “You weren’t kidding about that grant. This is some nice shit.”

Now, Alex does flush, because, well, it had been her who had applied for a grant for a bunch of new, expensive equipment and her work had warranted it, so… she was proud.

And even though Alex was never one to go making close friendships – really, aside from Kara’s friends that she happened to befriend because they were always hanging out at their apartment, her last close friendship was in high school with Vicky Donahue. That had crashed and burned and Alex had taken that to heart as an example of the fact that she just wasn’t built to have those friendships where you text regularly and call to vent and want to hang out.

Save for her sister, which didn’t count. Kara had come to live with them when Alex had been almost fifteen after her parents had died, and sharing a room with someone who was the epitome of a puppy and looked up to you as her big sister… well, no one could put up a wall to that.

But all of the sudden, she has Maggie.

Those weeks start to slip into months.

Months where she and Maggie hang out at her apartment, months where Maggie meets Kara, months where Maggie laughs at her inability to cook. Months that they continue to hang out in their bar but now instead of always sitting at her stool – really, their stools at this point – she gets up regularly to beat Maggie at pool and then actually have to try to win at darts, since Maggie knows how to play those.

//

Alex is drinking sake – Winn brought it back for her from a tech conference he was at in Japan just for this occasion – when she turns twenty-five.

Kara apparently planned this party for her, and even though Alex doesn’t really care for parties all that much… well, she can’t complain about this.

Because it’s not that bad, not when it’s Kara, Winn, James, and Lucy – the normal crowd. Mixed with J’onn, who Alex is surprised showed up, and Vasquez, one of the other PhD candidates she works with in the lab sometimes. There are a few other people from the lab, and a few of Kara’s other friends from work that Alex doesn’t really know, but apparently they’d heard there was going to be a party, and whatever. It’s still good.

M’gann’s here, too, and Alex doesn’t want to even think about it what it says about her that her sister thought to invite her bartender to her birthday celebration. Or, even worse, what it says about her that she considers herself to be closer to her bartender than to most of the other people she knows from both her PhD and MD programs.

And she’s already buzzed when Maggie shows up. Dimpled smile fully intact, a present – which Alex will learn later that night is a watch, as she broke her own – and an air of excitement.

Alex grins – a little drunk, a little wider than usual – when she sees her, “I thought you were working tonight.”

“And miss your birthday, Danvers? Not a chance. It’s all in the power of misdirection,” she winked, and handed Alex the giftbag as she shrugs off her jacket. Not that she even really needs it that much, it’s the end of March and not that cold. “I got Flores to cover for me tonight; I’ll owe him one, but it’s worth it.”

It’s worth it sounds a lot like you’re worth it and Alex can’t stop herself from smiling even more as she sets the gift onto the counter.

“I’m honored to be graced with the great presence of Officer Sawyer,” she teased, but, you know, meant it.

Maggie rolled her eyes, dimples still showing, “Okay, Danvers, I’ll let it slide if you give me some of whatever you’re drinking that’s clearly doing it’s job.”

Alex does pour Maggie some of her birthday-gifted sake, and by the time Maggie has her buzz going, they’re teamed up in a trivia game. They win – though it’s a close call when it’s down to only them against Winn and James – and as people are cheering, Maggie presses a kiss to her cheek and whispers “Happy birthday” against her skin.

And Alex’s cheek burns for the rest of the night.

//

Alex is drinking rum when she realizes she’s gay.

Because she and Maggie have really become friends. Like better friends than she’s ever had before, and they hang out all of the time. Sometimes Maggie swings by the lab – the one she’s now working in at NCU and being paid to work there, an assistant with J’onn’s research – and they have lunch together, sometimes out to dinner, sometimes they’re going to the bar, sometimes to Alex and Kara’s apartment, other times to Maggie’s.

So, yeah, they see each other regularly. Like every few days, usually, unless one of them is really busy – when Maggie has been put on really intense cases that she’s trying to stack up because she wants to become a detective and she wants to do it early in her career or when Alex is basically living in the school lab, against J’onn’s wishes, but she’s finishing up her grad work and has a lot of stuff to do.

The thing is, Maggie still dates. Maggie dates fairly often. Which Alex knew, from before, but it feels strange now. Maggie’s dates don’t usually last for that long – sometimes it’s only the night, sometimes it’s a few weeks or up to a month at the most – and she usually doesn’t discuss them with Alex. A mention of a name or a date location every once in a while, but nothing substantial.

Alex likes it that way.

The nights Maggie’s out with women are usually fine. Alex takes that time to finish up research or hang out with Kara or their other friends. Or, some nights, she comes to the bar by herself. Just like the old days.

Except tonight… tonight, Maggie is out with Kate. Kate Kane. Maggie doesn’t often talk about her past – like, she actively tries not to, Alex thinks – but she never forgets a word Maggie says, so she knows that Kate is the ex that Maggie moved to National City to get away from less than a year ago.

And Alex doesn’t know if Maggie and Kate are getting back together or what, all she knows is that Maggie had been fidgeting when she’d told Alex about her plans with Kate. And Maggie? She doesn’t fidget.

Alex does know that the women Maggie casually dates? They don’t make her fidget. They can’t break her heart because she doesn’t care overly much about them and isn’t dating to get attached. Kate broke her heart enough that Maggie moved across the country to start over.

But apparently Kate was in town and wanted to see Maggie, and Maggie said she needed the closure.

“You don’t have to worry about me and Kate. Honestly? You kind of helped me build a life here, Danvers,” Maggie joked, but there was that softness in her eyes that she had so often with Alex that made something feel like it was cracking open and leaking in her chest.

Alex found herself at the bar that night, stewing, and feeling like her heart was being squeezed. What if Maggie left? What if Maggie left National City and went back to Gotham with Kate? What if Kate moved to National City for Maggie and the life Alex had helped Maggie build was gone, replaced with the life with Kate?

What if Maggie wasn’t over Kate, despite her assurances over Alex’s concern? What if she was still in love with her, really in love with her?

And why did it matter so damn much to Alex if Maggie was in love with her or not?

She is frowning into her Bacardi when M’gann leans against the bar across from her, “You glare any harder at that booze and it’s going to catch on fire.”

Alex, instead, glares at M’gann.

Who lifts her hands, swinging the bar rag over her shoulder, “Hey, I’m just saying.” She has a look in her eyes, though, as she asks, “So… where’s Maggie tonight?”

“Out with her ex,” Alex grunts back, taking a large sip and enjoying the burn in her throat. She shakes her head and can’t stop the words that come out, “I just – I want her to be happy, you know? She’s my friend; if it makes her happy to be with Kate, then I want that for her. I should.”

She frowns again, tapping her fingers against the bar.

She wants Maggie to be happy, she does. Because there were fewer things Alex liked more than seeing Maggie’s dimpled smile or the way her eyes sparkled when she laughed. And Maggie’s eyes actually did sparkle, which was crazy and way sappier than Alex usually thought, but it was the truth.

So, she wants Maggie to be happy. She just wants…

She wants Maggie to be happy with her.

The thought slams into her like a freight train and her hand tightens on the glass so hard she thinks it might shatter. Even as the realization is dawning and seating inside of her with a small amount of panic, Alex’s thoughts are whirling.

Is that what she wanted?

Oh, god. It is.

Because she hated when Maggie was going on dates; it didn’t usually scare her, like this night with Kate-the-ex did, because she knew they weren’t going to last. But she always was in a worse mood those nights. She hated the brief times she’d seen Maggie kiss said dates.

And she definitely did not hate the thought of Maggie kissing her.

Quickly, she gulps down the rest of her drink before she groans and rests her head in her hands. Her lips tingle and body feels warm at just the thought of being with Maggie; it was more than the reaction she’d gotten from actually being with any of the men she’d drunkenly been with – and the few she’d soberly been with – in the past.

“Fuck,” she whispers, her eyes squeezing tightly closed.

She only looks up when M’gann places another glass of Bacardi down in front of her, giving her a sympathetic look. Damn it, all of her looks made sense now.

She wants to ask if she’s been an obviously gay mess for months now and if she is the only one who hadn’t noticed, but she is worried she wouldn’t like the answer.

//

It’s orange juice Alex is drinking days later when she and Maggie are getting breakfast.

It’s actually over a week later, and Alex might have done as much dodging of Maggie that she possibly could without seeming completely off. Even if she felt completely off, given this whole revelation.

Maggie didn’t get back together with Kate that night. No, Kate was firmly back in Gotham, but they’d had closure on good terms finally, and Maggie felt good.

“It’s weird, but I’m glad that door is closed for good. I haven’t had a ton of chances for positive closure,” Maggie threw in, but then moves the conversation along, as she was wont to do instead of talking about her past.

The relief Alex feels is unreasonable but enough to make her legs feel weak. Her, “I’m glad. You deserve that,” is genuine, though, and not just because of her own happiness that Maggie wasn’t still in love with her ex.

But because she really does feel like Maggie deserves the best.

//

She’s drinking hot chocolate with Kara a few days later, sitting on their couch, continuing their rewatch of Game of Thrones. It’s sister night, the first they’ve gotten since Kara landed a job at CatCo, despite the fact that Alex is a little concerned with Kara working directly under Cat Grant.

Kara has been making her usual commentary and Alex “hmms” and sighs in response, but mostly she’s thinking about Maggie and Vicky and about dancing in the club and how it was always more fun – more exhilarating – when she was doing it with women.

It’s running circles on her mind, and has been for the last couple of weeks. It’s even distracting her a little at work, which… is new.

But it’s all she can think about. About the times Vicky would cuddle her in her bed during sleepovers and the way Alex didn’t want to get up even though she was an early riser. How she wanted to be Vicky’s lab partner even though Vicky wasn’t that good at science and before her, Alex would prefer to work alone. How she pushed Vicky away when Vicky started dating guys and how she felt sick whenever she would tell her about it.

About how she admired her TA in her biophysics class in undergrad to the point where she would voluntarily stay after class just to talk to her about her lecture. How she waited in anticipation every time she would lean over Alex’s shoulder and press against her almost too close.

It all circles back into this, into how she feels with Maggie. It’s all of that – the wanting to be around her, her breath catching when Maggie comes so close, about wanting to do everything with Maggie.

She jars slightly when Kara pauses the show, “Alex? Are you even paying attention?”

Her sister isn’t annoyed, Alex can see the concerned wrinkle of her nose, and she hesitates, before shaking her head, “What? Yeah. Of course I am.”

Kara’s eyes narrow at her and she gets that little aha expression dawning on her face that makes Alex roll her eyes, “I know you aren’t paying attention because you always make commentary with me about when Joffrey dies, and you didn’t even cheer at all or talk about how he deserved it.”

“I –” can’t argue with that, “He does deserve it,” she grumbles, finally looking at the tv and focusing enough to see the dead scene paused. But because of her thoughts, she can’t even really appreciate it like she usually can.

And Kara is giving her that look. The one that is asking her to just tell her what’s wrong, and then it’s spilling from Alex’s mouth.

About Vicky and Sophie-the-TA and these feelings she didn’t know she had. And then she pauses.

But Kara knowingly murmurs it for her, “Maggie.”

“Maggie,” she confirms on a sigh and finishes her hot chocolate.

Kara tells her that she should go for it with Maggie, and Alex wishes she had schnapps to add to her hot chocolate to get through that conversation.

But her sister’s words of “she totally adores you, Alex!” ring in her ears for days.

//

She’s drinking wine – red wine – during her first holiday she spends with Maggie.

It’s Thanksgiving, though, and her mother is in town, so of course she is. The turkey isn’t even served and Alex already feels somewhat like a failure. Just a small comment from her mom about her place of work and the fact that she’s definitely gay and doesn’t know how to say it or what her mom is going to say… yeah. Wine.

When Maggie knocks on the apartment door, Alex swings it open and stumbles just a step with the weight of it and how fast she opens it, and Maggie reaches her hand out and catches her elbow. Alex swears she can feel the heat from the light touch through her sweater and down her entire arm.

That’s been happening a lot lately.

“Danvers! I can see you started a little early?” Maggie is inquiring and using that joking tone, but Alex can hear the concern.

She shrugs, “Family… stuff.”

Maggie nods like she knows. Alex has only told Maggie about her issues with her mother in a very roundabout way – after Maggie caught the tail-end of a conversation on the phone – but granted, Alex figures Maggie has enough family issues of her own.

That’s why Alex had invited her to spend Thanksgiving with them in the first place, since Maggie had thrown into the conversation that her only plans for dinner were takeout and her couch. The invite was already rolling off Alex’s mouth.

“Where can I get a glass?” Maggie asks as she steps into the foyer, taking a deep breath before shutting the door behind her.

They move farther into the kitchen, so Alex can pour Maggie a nice healthy serving of wine, which also coincidentally is where her mother is putting the finishing touches on the sides for dinner.

“You must be Maggie,” Eliza says with a smile, and she offers her hand. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Alex is close enough to Maggie to feel her tense a bit as she shakes her mother’s hand, but her smile is genuine – if not slightly hesitant, “It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Danvers.”

“It’s Eliza,” she assured Maggie, which somehow makes Maggie even tenser, “I’m sorry you couldn’t be with your family today, but we always have more than enough. Even with the group we compile here,” she adds, with a comforting smile and Alex is glad that even when her mom sometimes fails to comfort her, she’s always great with others.

Kara, Winn, now Maggie.

Maggie’s smile gets a little brighter and less tense as she nudges Alex with her shoulder, “Yeah, well, Alex was pretty adamant that I didn’t spend the day alone, so.”

Eliza’s smile shifts to her and Alex enjoys the burst of warmth she gets when her mom gives her that proud look, “Alex has always tried to take care of others.”

She wonders if the tried part is a dig, but then tells herself to enjoy the moment and she smiles back.

The warm look Maggie gives her is even better, even more potent than her mom’s approval or the wine, and she hears Kara’s words from a couple of weeks ago in her head again she totally adores you, and as much as Alex had “pfft”d it off, she wonders now – again – while Maggie looks at her if it’s true.

Her mom starts to bring the food out to the table and leaves them in the kitchen as Alex pours her a glass. Maggie takes it and grins up at Alex with her eyes as she sips, “Two Dr. Danvers in the same room, sounds like the beginning of a weird joke.”

Alex rolls her eyes at Maggie even if she huffs out a laugh, “Shut up.” She watches Maggie though, the way her body relaxes when Eliza leaves the room, “Are you okay?”

“I’m…fine,” Maggie sets her glass down and sighs out a little breath and it’s actually serious now – Alex can tell just from the sound – before she fidgets with her sleeves, “I’m not that great with parents,” she admits quietly, “I don’t meet them that much, and I don’t – well. I don’t talk to my own anymore. Or, they don’t talk to me.”

The words are the most Maggie has told her about her parents in a year of friendship, and Alex just knows it’s more than Maggie says to most people. She puts her hand on Maggie’s shoulder, small and warm under her sweater, and squeezes a little. She opens her mouth to tell Maggie that she is here for her, that she can talk to her, that she can trust her –

Before Kara comes bounding into the room, “Eliza told me to tell you both that it’s time to –” she cuts herself off, blue eyes widening behind her glasses as she takes in how close she and Maggie are standing, the way Alex’s hand is gently touching her shoulder. Alex knows her sister like she knows her own mind, and she knows exactly what Kara is thinking as her mouth falls open into an almost excited squeal.

But Alex quickly gives her sister a look that cuts it off and leaves Kara looking deflated, “Ohhh, okay. Well. Dinner’s ready and everyone’s going to the table. So. I’m going to go.”

The moment is gone, though, Alex knows it, as she drops her hand. But as they walk out to the table, wine glasses in hand, Maggie reaches down and softly squeezes Alex’s free hand with her own. Like she read Alex’s mind about being there for her and she knows.

It leaves Alex with a dual buzz through dinner – the wine and Maggie both sifting through her veins and she thinks maybe she is going to tell Maggie. Maybe she’ll tell her.

She thinks that, until they are all sitting around afterwards, full from dinner and lazy, comfortable conversation being made. It’s Kara who suggests that they play Pictionary, already counting them up – herself, Alex, Maggie, Eliza, Winn, James, Lucy, and J’onn – and clapping her hands once together in excitement, “We have a perfect number for teams!”

“After we clean up dinner, you’re on,” James tells her, gesturing to himself and Winn, who are, as he said, cleaning a bit.

That’s when her buzz is destined to end, apparently, because Maggie sighs, “Sorry to be the buzzkill, Little Danvers, but I have to leave soon.”

Kara looks a little crestfallen, “Oh… but it’s not even nine yet?”

Alex turns to look at Maggie from her position on the couch, confused, “Thought you didn’t have plans today, Sawyer. You want to miss out on Pictionary? Then again, maybe it’s safer; Kara throws pillows when she loses,” she teases.

Maggie smiles, but nods, “Yeah, I didn’t have plans for dinner. Meeting up with Colleen, though, after her family dinner.”

Alex swears her heart stops beating for a second, “Colleen?”

Colleen, Maggie reminds her, the girl she’d been on a couple of dates with right before Kate came back to town. Alex hadn’t thought her overly important, just another one of Maggie’s girls. But, she realizes, it’s been over a month since Colleen appeared on the scene, and apparently, she’s important enough that Maggie is going to see her on a holiday.

That pleasant buzz is gone, now, and when the group breaks up to get ready for some games, Alex finds herself out on the little balcony.

It’s cold, sure, but she feels like her heart is aching and the chilly weather is a nice balm for it. She shouldn’t feel like her heart is aching; it’s not even like she’s told Maggie how she feels. But she does.

She thinks it’s Kara who opens the window and climbs out next to her, but she can tell a second later that it’s Maggie by the subtle perfume that smells like both sandalwood and vanilla. She looks up and sees Maggie already has her jacket on, and she instinctively knows it’s now because she came out here to see Alex, but because she’s leaving for the night.

“You okay? Is this about that comment your mom made about you working at NCU instead of that STAR labs position you got offered? Because you know that’s just crap –”

Alex shakes her head and makes herself smile through the tightness in her throat, “No, no. It’s –” it’s what? What is she supposed to say? It’s about the fact that I like you – a lot – and you have someone else? “Actually, yeah. It’s stupid to be upset about, but I just had to think.”

Maggie shakes her head and settles more comfortably next to her on the balcony, “Not stupid.”

Unable to resist, Alex turns to look at Maggie and take in the way the moonlight reflects in her dark hair, “You leaving?”

She gets a grunt as the affirmative before, “Yeah, but I wanted to say bye to you, first.”

“You drank wine, though,” Alex reminds her, and it’s not even to get her not to leave.

But Maggie snorts, “I stopped over an hour ago. Unlike some people,” she smirks and gestures to Alex’s empty glass.

Alex isn’t even drunk, though, which is a Thanksgiving feat in and of itself. Still, “It’s Thanksgiving tradition,” she says, “You’ll learn if you stick with us, Sawyer.”

“I think I might,” Maggie says softly, and it makes the tightness in Alex’s chest loosen.

Loosen enough for her to ask, “So… Colleen?” and she’s impressed with herself for her voice staying so impartial. Light, even.

Maggie shrugs, but smiles a little, “Yeah. I don’t know. I like her.”

“More than the usual?” she can’t help but ask.

And Maggie chuckles, giving her a look that Alex doesn’t really understand. She thinks it’s full of fondness, as Maggie tells her, “More than the usual.”

The confirmation… sucks. But Alex keeps a smile on her face and dimly hears herself say, “Good. That’s good.”

Soon, Maggie leaves, not without telling Alex to take it easy on the wine because she doesn’t want her best friend splattered on the ground – “You really have a way with words,” Alex dryly tells her in response.

She stays on the balcony for a little while. Kara brings her a little more wine and then sits outside with her.

//

So. Then, there’s a Colleen. Who doesn’t drink at all. And when they first meet, she gives a slightly disdainful look to Alex, who’s drinking lager.

Really, things don’t change that much, Alex supposes, after the leggy blonde becomes Maggie’s girlfriend. She still sees Maggie several times a week; she still kicks her ass at pool, they still drink at the bar, they still have meals together. Sure, they hang out less at Maggie’s apartment and Maggie does spend more time with Colleen than she used to with her whatever-dates.

Alex still feels like her heart is going to beat out of her chest whenever Maggie is close to her or when she makes her laugh or when Maggie is being vulnerable with her.

Actually, that feeling only gets worse.

//

Alex gets drunk with Maggie for the first time on moonshine.

Considering how often they get drinks together, they don’t get drunk together for quite a while into their friendship. They’re celebrating Alex’s breakthrough in her research that she’s been slaving over for over a year on genomics. She’s going to be giving a TEDtalk, publishing a research journal on it, and there are certain talks about her teaching a course about it at the university.

She isn’t even really sure what to make of it all, but she is happy and relieved and proud as hell.

The celebration is in Alex and Kara’s apartment, and everyone is drinking the moonshine that Alex might have been given as a present from some of the PhD candidates who assist her in the lab.

Maggie comes, of course, gifting Alex a bottle of Lagavulin 16 – her favorite whiskey – and the tightest hug with some softly murmured congratulations in her ear that gives Alex shivers down her spine.

Lucy’s in the kitchen, mixing drinks with the moonshine, when Maggie gets there, loudly calling out to her that she “better prepare to be shitfaced and better not be on shift tomorrow because she’s going to be an inch away from death with a hangover.”

Maggie chuckles and just settles in easily – kicking off her boots and shrugging off her jacket, “Bring it on. I’m no wimp.”

Alex agrees, silently, before she asks, “No Colleen tonight?”

Maggie pauses nearly imperceptibly but Alex notices everything about her, but then crosses her arms easily as she leans back against the door, “Nah. She was going out with some friends tonight, anyway, and drinking isn’t really her style. She says congrats, too, though.”

Alex doesn’t know how much she believes that; she and Colleen have only met a handful of times since that first time, and it’s not as if Colleen was particularly welcoming. Then again, Alex probably wasn’t either.

Still, Alex isn’t going to think about it tonight. She’s honestly just relieved and excited that Maggie didn’t come here with her girlfriend.

Instead, she accepts the words with a nod and smooths her hand over her stomach, nerves jumping there. They’ve been crazy all week, though, since she found out about how big her research had become so quickly.

Maggie touches the back of her hand softly, stopping the motion, before she tilts her head up to meet Alex’s gaze, “Hey. You good?”

Alex lets her tension drop from her shoulders and shakes out her arms a bit, before she smiles back, “Yeah… everything’s just been so crazy, and all of the sudden I have all of this recognition, and…” and something inside of her just tells Alex she’d rather be doing all of this work and getting the right praise – from J’onn and fellow like minds, but more lowkey.

“You deserve it, though, Danvers,” Maggie assures her.

When she rolls her eyes, Maggie’s voice is a little more urgent and way more serious, “You do.”

“You do, so quit doubting yourself and drink the hell up,” Lucy tells her as she walks out of the kitchen and hands them both a questionably looking pink-orange drink that she assures them will be delicious.

Lucy was right; the drink is delicious and strong as fuck all. It only takes the one for Winn to be hammered, two for almost everyone else, and three for Alex and James. The rest of the night is a blur of music and screaming and cheers and laughter and the only clear thing Alex retains from it is this:

At two in the morning, the apartment is basically silent because everyone passed out –

Kara and James in Kara’s bed, Lucy on the couch, Winn on the floor, and Maggie, the last Alex had seen her, was lying opposite with Lucy on the couch, their legs tangled.

Alex is in her bed and sobering up the tiniest bit, and she thinks she was only able to maintain enough sober headspace to drape a blanket over Lucy and Maggie because she’s had so much drinking experience under her belt. Probably not something to brag about. She barely managed to keep herself from reaching down and brushing back Maggie’s hair because it looked so soft, but she did.

She’s not exactly sober though, not at all, and her ceiling is spinning a bit while she lays on her back in a tank top and boyshorts. She starts to drift to sleep when she feels it.

The dip in her bed and the shifting of sheets – not all that graceful, and the blankets are tugged a little too forcefully for the small body to roll under and tuck against her. And her entire body freezes as her breath catches and Maggie is in her bed.

Maggie is in her bed, a hand resting on Alex’s stomach clumsily, her pinky finger resting on the sliver of skin between Maggie’s tanktop and panties, and Alex’s entire body is shivering while her heart pounds, and she whispers, “Maggie?”

“You’re a damn genius, Alex,” Maggie tells her, her voice sleepy and still a little slurred as her head falls on Alex’s shoulder. She yawns and rubs her cheek against Alex in the cutest, warmest way, before she sighs, “You’re so stupidly smart and you need to take credit for it.”

When Alex looks down at Maggie, unable to speak because her throat is too dry, she expects Maggie to be looking at her in alarm with the way her heart is beating under Maggie’s head. But her eyes are closed and her legs are curled against Alex’s and she is breathing deep and even and Alex –

Alex doesn’t – can’t – resist stroking her hand through Maggie’s dark hair now. Not like this. She does it lightly, so Maggie doesn’t wake up, and it’s so soft and soothing and she feels Maggie sighs against her shoulder and cuddle closer and Alex realizes.

She realizes at two in the morning, while Maggie’s stealing her blankets in her sleep and breathing softly against her cheek with breath smelling like sweetness and alcohol, while her own brain a little foggy from being drunk, that she never wants to fall asleep again without this.

That maybe she’s way past “liking” Maggie and might be headfirst in love with her.

//

She’s nursing a disgusting green “smoothie” – that what Winn refers to it as, anyway – the following morning when the sun is shining way too brightly into her and Kara’s living room. It’s supposed to help with their hangovers.

They’re all wrapped up in blankets and grumbly and bleary-eyed from the night before, and have made tentative plans to order mountains of Chinese food… sometime. For now, they crowd together and commiserate while The Wizard of Oz plays quietly on the tv.

All except for –

“Where’s Maggie?” Winn asks, scratching the back of his head while his hair is sticking up at all angles. He shifts to look at Alex, “When we got up,” he gestures to himself and Lucy, “She wasn’t in here with us anymore.”

He’s sitting on the floor, but twists around to look at Alex, who’s sitting next to Lucy on the couch.

Alex feels her stomach clench and churn and it has nothing to do with the hangover. She remembered stroking Maggie’s hair and holding her while she slept for over an hour before she herself fell asleep.

Just like she remembered waking up with her when Winn slammed the bathroom door across the hall accidentally. Maggie had blinked at her for a moment, before sitting up and giving a short, quiet laugh that sounded forced to Alex’s admittedly tired faculties.

“Uh, I guess Lane was a blanket hog on the couch last night,” Maggie joked, voice a little husky from sleep in a way that had Alex waking up a lot faster.

She could only give a sleepy, weak smile in response. She stretched and as her eyes were closed, she felt the blanket get tucked back around her and Maggie’s hand in her hair for a moment before she told Alex to “get some more sleep.”

And Alex did. But when she woke back up again, Maggie was gone. Not just from her bed, but the apartment, and she’d left Alex a quick text saying that she’d gotten called into the station. Which – was fine.

Okay, so she feels uneasy about it.

Lucy wraps her arm around Alex’s shoulders, encasing her in her warm blanket in a surprisingly soothing way, before she nudges Winn’s head with her foot. If his groan is any indication, it isn’t too gentle, either, and Alex grins just a bit.

“She had to go,” she gruffly tells him, staring at the movie.

“Mind your own business or if I puke it’s going all over your pretty little head,” Lucy warns him.

//

Alex finds Maggie drinking peach mojitos at their bar the night she hears about Maggie and Colleen’s breakup.

It’s three months after the Maggie-sleeping-in-her-bed situation, three months since she’s realized she might just be in love with Maggie. And, actually, two months since Alex’s twenty-sixth birthday, that found them in a very similar situation.

Maggie hasn’t been answering her texts all day, and Alex is just finishing up planning her upcoming curriculum for the class NCU has twisted her arm into teaching for this upcoming fall semester. Granted, they didn’t have to twist that hard… Alex might not want to be the center of attention, but she did want to talk about her research.

Still, it’s not like Maggie to not answer her phone and she feels a little concerned until Maggie texts her back finally –

Sawyer – 5:32PM
Dsnvers where are you.? The bars playing shitty
music and MGANN wont let me change it

Danvers – 5:33PM 
You’re at the bar? 

She doesn’t get a response and doesn’t ask anything more, instead pocketing her phone and in a split-second decision, decides to take a cab instead of her bike. If Maggie’s hammered and it’s not even six… well, Alex isn’t sure how she’s going to get Maggie home unless it’s in a cab.

Maggie is at their bar and is drunk. Not as drunk as Alex has seen her those two times – the moonshine and her birthday – but drunk enough to be attempting to have a philosophical debate with M’gann about the legal system.

M’gann looks relieved, at the very least, when she spots Alex, and points her out to Maggie. Maggie turns to look at her, and Alex had been expecting a drunk, happy Maggie, for some reason.

She was wrong.

Because Maggie does smile at her, but Alex can see the sadness in those dark eyes from a whole room away. The first thing Maggie does is ask her, “Did you know that M’gann makes a mean peach mojito?”

Alex is thrown for a loop at that, admittedly, and her eyebrows shoot up in surprise – and confusion at the topic – as she glimpses down at Maggie’s drink, “I had no idea. How many have you had?”

Maggie shrugs and waves her hand, “A few,” her voice is a little sullen as she asks M’gann for another, and “one for my friend,” which makes Maggie chuckle at herself as she gestures at Alex.

Alex doesn’t say no to it, as she sits in her stool, facing Maggie. She runs her eyes over her, taking in the bags under her eyes and how her hair is in a messy ponytail instead of it’s usual hanging down around her shoulders.

Worry settles in her. She’d thought at first – because of the debate Maggie had been trying to have with M’gann – that it would be job related.

It isn’t, apparently, and she only has to ask once, her voice reflecting her worry as M’gann drops off the mojitos and gives a sympathetic look before moving away to give some privacy, “Maggie, what’s going on?”

Maggie chews on her bottom lip for a second before she lets out a heavy sigh and dips her head in toward the bar, “Colleen broke up with me.”

And Alex is – floored, eyes wide and mouth hanging open, “She – what?”

“She dumped me, Danvers,” Maggie tells her, a bit more aggressively, as she swallows another mouthful of her mojito.

“But who would do that?” it slips out before she can stop it but really, she just doesn’t understand.

She doesn’t understand Kate Kane for letting Maggie move across the country from her, doesn’t understand any of the women Maggie had those casual flings with – because why didn’t they want to hold on? – and she certainly doesn’t understand Colleen, who was allowed to go to sleep with Maggie and hold her at night and kiss her the way Alex dreams of.

Maggie chuckles mirthlessly, “You’d be surprised.” She stares down at the bar for a few seconds and Alex does the best thing she can think of. She leans in and wraps her arms around Maggie.

And Maggie lets her. There had been times, she remembers, early in their friendship where touches or hugs were tense at first, because neither of them were particularly tactile. Well, Alex wasn’t with anyone but her sister, anyway. Not until Maggie.

Maggie’s relaxed in her hold even though Alex can feel her shake slightly under her arms.

If this was earlier in their friendship, she might have just suggested a whole laundry list of things she knows Maggie would find fun, like the tapas place they go to or the pinball arcade, to take her mind off of things. But she’s known Maggie for a couple of years now, and she knows that Maggie’s mind will be on this breakup for a while.

So instead she asks, “What do you want me to do?”

Maggie inhales deeply, before sliding Alex’s mojito closer to her and tells her, “Drink.”

And Alex does. Not very much – only two drinks – while Maggie drinks… more. Still not enough that she’s blackout-drunk, but enough that she gradually starts to talk. The bar gets a little more packed, and they’re tucked into their corner, sitting close, empty glasses being taken and refilled by M’gann.

“She called me insensitive. Stubborn. Obsessed with work,” she opens her mouth to continue, before eying Alex and biting her lip. Her voice almost cracks, vulnerable, as she finished in a mumble, “Among other things.”

And Alex is… pissed. She’s hard-pressed to think of another time where she’s been more pissed, honestly; Colleen is officially going into the list of people she hates and wouldn’t mind punching. Right along with the doctor who had informed them of her father’s sudden embolism-caused death – okay, it wasn’t his fault, but it was an irrational anger that sixteen-year-old Alex harbored and still held onto – and the guys who bullied Kara when she first started at their high school.

Still, she reigns in her anger because Maggie needs her right now, and there are fewer words she’s ever meant more than, “She’s wrong.”

Maggie shakes her head, “She’s not. She’s not wrong.”

“How can you say that?” Alex demands, her voice probably harsher than it should be, but she’s… god, she’s fucking angry. “You’re my –” many things almost come out, “Best friend; I know you better than anyone. You care more than almost anyone I know, and you know? What’s so wrong with being obsessed with work? You have goals. It’s admirable,” she finished with an angry huff.

When she finishes, Maggie is regarding her with something akin to amusement. There’s still pain etched into her features, but there’s that Alex-look she has on her face, too. “I don’t know how much it means coming from someone else who’s work obsessed.”

Alex shrugs, “So I love my work and so do you. It’s not like you didn’t make time, Maggie,” she says, her voice softening considerably. She hesitates for a moment before resting her hand on Maggie’s arm.

And Maggie relaxes into her touch only slightly but doesn’t look at her, staring hard at the bar. There’s a deep frown on her face that belays the thoughts Alex knows are spinning out in her mind and the sadness she feels.

“Not enough,” she mutters, rapping her knuckles on the bar, “It’s never enough, and I know it, and I can’t – I can’t help it.”

Alex knows she’s not just talking about making time anymore, but something bigger. She just doesn’t know exactly what, but maybe she doesn’t have to. She knows only glimpses of Maggie’s past, and Alex doesn’t press her. Just takes the information and tacks it away

You’re more than enough, the words want to escape but can’t leave her throat.

It was another drink later and they’re pressed closer as Maggie’s leaning slightly into her when she sighs, “I just – I want to find that person, you know?” and her voice was so imploring.

“What person?” Alex asks, her eyes going from where they were taking in Maggie’s profile to her eyes as Maggie turns to look at her properly.

And Maggie’s lips curl into the smallest grin, shaking her head at herself, “Of course, I’m trying to talk to the woman who never dates.”

The words are teasing, but Alex feels them like a sting in the chest.

She knows Maggie’s hurting and she tries not to feel offended but she recoils slightly. Because… okay. Maybe she doesn’t date, but – she’d had work and Kara and men had held no interest. And she’d only realized she was gay less than a year ago and was barely out to anyone.

Though, with the looks she got from their friends – mostly Lucy and James. And of course Kara, but Kara actually knew knew – she figured she might be more out than she thought.

Regardless, it apparently feels like shit for her dating life to be scrutinized by the woman you’re in love with.

Licking her lips, she turns to face the bar and grabs her mojito; which really wasn’t for her, but she would drink it with Maggie, if that’s what she wanted when she was feeling like crap.

Maggie lets out a groan and drops her head to the bar for a second before she turns in her stool to face Alex, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine,” she lies and shrugs. She’s heard worse things. Not from Maggie, but. Still.

And Maggie’s hand is on her arm, grasping at her wrist, her hold soft and firm, “No, Alex. I’m sorry. That was… it was a dumb thing to say because I’m feeling shitty about myself. Maybe you have it right, not dating around.”

“I don’t want to date around,” she mumbles, relenting as the last of the sting leaves her chest, and she turns toward Maggie now, too. The words are almost a secret in and of themselves; because she doesn’t want to date around, she wants Maggie.

But Maggie doesn’t know that, and she scoffs, then chuckles darkly, “Well, it sucks. Don’t.”

She can’t stop herself, “Then, why do you?”

Maggie sighs, her shoulders slumping as she looks Alex in the eye, her gaze searching, “Because I want to find that person,” she repeats from before, “The person who wants to be with me. Who’s going to be there at the end of the day even when I might be work obsessed or stubborn or – whatever. The person who doesn’t leave, who – I don’t know. Eats vegan ice cream with me even when she hates it. Someone… who deals with me and all my crap and doesn’t get sick of it.”

It makes Alex ache because she wants to scream to Maggie that she is Right. There. But Maggie’s sitting here, heartbroken, and – she can’t.

“You will,” she says, instead. Because even if Maggie doesn’t know it yet, she has that person.

It’s another stretch of time in companionable silence or an occasional comment from one of them, before Maggie looks at Alex again, facing her entirely. Maggie’s had enough to drink that Alex knows she’s way more than buzzed.

“I didn’t love her,” Maggie’s voice wobbles for a moment before she swallows hard and correct it, “Colleen… I didn’t. I just – I really liked her.”

“You were with her for months,” Alex says, surprised. Also hating herself for being pleased, but also assuring herself that at least that means that while Maggie is sad? She’s not completely devastated.

Maggie acknowledges it, “Yeah… I thought… maybe with some more time, we could – you know. But. No more time,” she put her glass back down on the bar and let out a deep, shuddering sigh, and when she looks back up at Alex, her eyes teary in the worst way.

 “Why is it so easy for people to walk away from me?”

Alex can’t help herself, not even if she wanted to. She slides off her stool and wraps her arms around Maggie, who moves in closer. Burrowing, almost, pressing her face against Alex’s neck and she is worried that those are tears she feels against her skin.

Alex doesn’t know; she can’t fathom ever walking away from Maggie, so she tightens her arms around her and whispers, “Because people are idiots.”

She can feel Maggie laugh for a second, the breath fanning out warmly against Alex’s neck, “I was being serious.”

Alex rubs her hands up and down Maggie’s back and she feels… so small. Which she is, but Maggie knows how to strut around a room like she owns it, so it’s easy to forget, “So was I.”

They’re quiet for a few seconds and Alex feels her heart beating quickly before she swallows hard and whispers, “You have me. I’m not going anywhere.”

More than anything, she wants Maggie to know that. To know that she has Alex. She has her in her corner, always.

And the way Maggie sniffles slightly and nods against her shoulder as she shakily says, “I know,” is one of the best moments of her life so far.

Not because Maggie’s in pain – never because of that. But because this woman who has such a hard time letting people in, is letting Alex hold her while she cries. Because this woman who expects everyone to leave her is telling Alex that she trusts her to stay.

Alex won’t let her down.

They stay at the bar until closing time, and the last time Maggie says before Alex gets her in a cab home is, “I never want to imagine my life without you in it.”

Alex feels her heart warm and her stomach drop out as she assures Maggie that she doesn’t have to worry about that.  

//

Alex sips on the scotch in her glass as she taps her fingers on the counter determinedly when she decides – she is going to do it.

This is the night that she’s going to tell Maggie how she feels. Because it’s been a few months since her breakup with Colleen, and Maggie is over her. Because they’ve only gotten closer and Maggie hasn’t started dating anyone else. Not even one of her casual dates.

But Alex is worried if she doesn’t make her feelings known soon and take the chance, she’ll be too late.

Tonight seems like as good a night as any; it’s Kara’s birthday and there’s a crowd in their apartment. Their usual group, combined with a plethora of people Kara, Winn, and James work with and handfuls that she still remains in contact with from college.

Alex doesn’t usually like big crowds like this, but she can’t begrudge Kara for having this big party; who wouldn’t want to celebrate her sister?

Maggie is with James across the living room and they’re debating something; Alex can’t hear what, but she can and does watch. Because sometimes she just loves to observe Maggie, much like a callback to before they really met. The way she speaks with her hands, the way the tilts her head, the way she shakes back her hair… everything.

She loves it all.

She loves it all and she’s had several conversations with Kara about telling Maggie how she feels and Kara had told her earlier to go get the girl tonight.

So when she sees Maggie’s and James’s conversation end with both of them laughing and Maggie shoving lightly at his shoulder as he walks away, she just – she can feel it. It’s the right moment.

Especially when Maggie locks eyes with her and in the room full of people, Maggie is all she can see. Even more so when Maggie smiles at her and her eyes do the sparkle thing, and then Maggie’s walking over to her.

Maggie had arrived a little late to the party, and as soon as she’d walked in, Alex had broke open the scotch in preparation for the moment.

Alex feels like she can’t catch her breath and this is it, this is the moment, and she has to lean against the counter for a second to gather herself. Before her hand is in a fist and she draws in strength just as Maggie gets to her.

“Danvers, it’s a party. You look so… serious,” she says it with a smile still, but her eyes are so inquisitive. “Is it because I wouldn’t let you use my gun at the shooting range?” she teases.

Alex normally would have rolled her eyes, but instead she lets out a nervous chuckle, “Uh, not – not so much serious as a little nervous.” Before Maggie can inquire why, even though Alex knows she’s about to, she downs the last of her scotch in one sip and Maggie watches her as she puts the glass down with a resounding snap, “Can I talk to you?”

Maggie smiles with her eyes, clearly questioning, but she nods, “Of course.” Alex nods and starts leading them just a little ways away from the crowd, over into the hall that leads to her and Kara’s bedrooms. As they walk, she’s trying to gear herself up and Maggie asks, “It’s not really about the gun thing, is it? Because even though you are a pretty impressive shot, but I can’t –”

It makes Alex crack a smile, though, and she shakes her head as they stop walking and she turns to face Maggie. “No. It’s not about that.”

Even though she was pretty sure maybe one day she could work up to getting Maggie to let her; they’d only gone to the range for the first time last week, so –

This wasn’t the time for that.

With a deep breath, Alex looks at Maggie, holding eye contact as she nods a little to herself, “I – the thing is…” wow, this is more difficult than she thought. In fairness to herself, Alex’s only experience in romance is with men and she never really cared about them so it was never nerve-wracking. “I want to talk to you about – the thing is, I’m gay,” she manages to get the word out despite stuttering over it and the way it sticks in her throat. “I like…” she tries to manage the word you, but it doesn’t work.

She cuts herself off on a groan and just takes a deep breath and goes for it. Leans down and her hands come up of their own volition to cup Maggie’s jaw. Her skin is so soft, and Alex already knew that, but right now, it’s so soft under her fingertips and Alex feels like her whole hand is tingling from the contact.

And then her mouth presses against Maggie’s and if she thought her skin was soft – wow.

Her lips are soft, so soft, and Alex can hardly breathe. Maggie’s lips part against hers on a gasp so quiet Alex can feel it and not hear it. The gasp travels through her entire body. She can feel Maggie’s hands come up to cup her elbows and rub gently on her arms and she breathes a whimper into Maggie’s mouth.

She can taste the way the scotch on her tongue melds gently with the taste of chocolate cake lingering on Maggie’s and she’s dizzy with it.

Because it’s a kiss, just a short kiss, and Alex is feeling more for Maggie than she has ever felt for anyone in her life.

Then Maggie is pulling back and so is she. Breathless, she’s breathless, and there’s a smile on her lips. A content smile with the words I’ve wanted to do that for so long bubbling on her mouth.

“Maggie…” she starts, the name like a prayer in her mouth. “I –”

But Maggie is looking at her with wide eyes and is shaking her head as her hands fall from Alex, breaking their contact completely as she steps back. Her eyes are wide for a second before she takes a deep breath and tilts her head and smiles.

And the smile isn’t one that Alex expects or wants to see – it’s not that warm, affectionate smile that holds fondness; it’s something Alex can’t necessarily place, but she knows it’s not good. She knows in the way her stomach is sinking.

“You’re drunk,” Maggie says softly, a tone in her voice that Alex can’t identify properly.

And she frowns because why would Maggie think that?

“Good scotch can make you do a lot of things,” Maggie continues gently and her hands are fidgeting a little, before she nods to herself. And Alex feels like her chest is breaking open right in front of her – how can Maggie not see that? “And you don’t – we don’t – want to make a huge mistake.”

Alex’s eyebrows come together in confusion because wasn’t that… didn’t what she thought just happened actually happen? Not a mistake but a kiss. A great kiss. She kissed Maggie and Maggie kissed her and stroked her arms and… this was all spiraling out much worse than Alex had imagined.

“Just, drink some water later tonight, okay?” the shorter woman adds on as she takes another step back. It’s a hesitant step, she thinks, moving slow. But every inch feels like a mile to Alex, creating an ocean between them.

Because she thought – hoped, mostly – that Maggie would kiss her back and that some good might come out of watching those romantic comedies with Kara, because that’s how the ending would go. And in her darker thoughts, where Maggie didn’t have feelings for her back? Well, those were never super vivid, but they never involved gently pitiful faces with soft letdowns.

Rejection. That’s what this feeling is. It’s a rejection that actually matters, that she actually feels, and Alex has never felt it – or been aware of feeling it – before, but it makes the backs of her eyes sting and her throat feel like it’s closing.

Alex’s mouth falls open and she doesn’t know what to do, except say a tremulous, “Y-yeah. Right. Okay.”

Her hand falls from where it’s been resting against the wall and slides sideways onto the doorknob of the bathroom and she grips it tight to keep herself from being even more pathetic and crying.

“I have to – bathroom,” is all she manages to get out before she nods at Maggie and pushes open the door, slipping inside so fast so she doesn’t have to look her friend in the eye.

It fucking hurts. It hurts so bad and Alex – she shouldn’t have done that. It was a mistake, she made a huge mistake.

.

Maggie is gone by the time she comes out of the bathroom. Apparently, she gave Kara a present – which turns out to be an ice cream maker and for some reason it makes Alex laugh and cry later that night when she finds out – and said she had to finish paperwork up at the station.

.

The funny thing is that Alex wasn’t drunk for their kiss. The funny thing, is that Alex had less than two glasses of alcohol because she only drank it to take some edge off but she wanted to remember everything. She wishes sort of the opposite now, because the ghost of Maggie’s lips will haunt her.

//

Alex breaks out the tequila sooner rather than later and within the hour is very much actually drunk. She avoids Kara’s questioning look and tries to let her sister have her birthday time, taking the liquor into her bedroom. Because honestly, she wants to drink alone anyway.

Kara comes in and lays with her before she falls asleep, though, and Alex turns her face into her pillow while her sister holds her and she cries.

//

Lucy takes her out the next day and buys them Bloody Mary’s and mimosas with brunch.

She has texts from Maggie on her phone that she woke up to –

Sawyer – 7:44AM
Didn’t finish my paperwork until after 1…
how are you feeling?

Sawyer – 8:31AM
Oh, and tell Kara that I have some interesting
flavor options for her ice cream maker. I
forgot to put them in the bag.

Sawyer – 8:33AM
That’s dumb; I can text her myself. Okay.
You’re probably still sleeping but we should
do dinner later?

And Alex hasn’t responded to them even though it’s been a few hours, because… Maggie is acting totally normal. Maggie is acting like Alex didn’t kissed her, like Maggie didn’t pass it off as a scotch-induced spontaneous coming out confession.

She’s acting totally normal and Alex’s heart hurts.

So, Lucy buys them alcohol because, “The best cure for a hangover is more liquor, Danvers,” and Alex can’t argue with that.

She and Lucy don’t usually hang out by themselves, but it’s never awkward when they do. You’d think it might be, since they met five years ago, when Kara had met James during her journalism internship and James and Lucy had been dating at the time. And it was complicated and more than a little messy but then Lucy had started hanging out with them, and their group was the better for it.

Maybe the fact that Lucy was hurt like she’s hurting and had still maintained the whole friendship-with-a-broken-heart thing plays into this, too.

They talk easily, about Lucy’s litigation cases at the moment and about how the class that Alex is teaching got extended for another semester because it was pretty popular.

And then Lucy gives her a look, the one that cuts through the bullshit, and says, “So. Maggie.”

Alex freezes for just a second before melting back into her chair and sighing in agreement, in affirmation, in sadness, “Maggie.”

Lucy reaches across the table and squeezes her hand, “Yeah, I might have been on the phone in Kara’s room last night during the party.”

Kara’s room, which was right across the hall from where the kiss had happened. Alex feels herself flush and it’s unstoppable, even as she wants to put her walls up.

But Lucy has no judgment and offers her, “It sucks. But I’m proud of you.”

A bitter laugh works its way out of Alex’s through, “Proud? For… being rejected?”

“For taking a risk, Danvers,” Lucy chides, green eyes rolling.

“Kara said… the same thing,” she murmurs, thinking back to the way her sister had whispered the words the night before.

It doesn’t necessarily make it easier to accept this whole… situation, but in a small way, it does.

//

She goes back home and drinks Gatorade for the rest of the day on the couch while she avoids Maggie. Because she wants to talk to her – like really, really badly; she can’t remember the last time a whole day has gone by without them talking – but she lets herself believe that she deserves the day just to wallow.

 Alex texts her back the following day. It’s forced, she can feel it in her own writing, but it’s something and Maggie responds easily. Almost relieved, Alex thinks.

She avoids actually seeing Maggie for a few more days, because she isn’t sure her heart can take it when she sees her. But then she isn’t sure her heart can continue to take not seeing Maggie, especially when Maggie is continuing to talk to her and text her like nothing is different.

And she needs to keep her promise to Maggie; she’d assured her that she would always be there and she needs Maggie to know that her promises mean something. Alex is a woman of her word. She can’t wait until she’s not in pain anymore before she sees Maggie again because who knows when that will be, and by then things will definitely be more than weird between them.

So she takes a deep breath outside of the bar after work, and she knows Maggie’s inside – she can see her through the window – and goes in.

God, it would hurt less if Maggie wasn’t so damn beautiful to her. If Maggie’s eyes didn’t light up and get all soft when she saw her, a small exclamation of, “Danvers! It’s been a hot minute.”

Her voice shakes loose a part in Alex’s chest that is both heavy and light and she manages a smile, “Yeah. Yeah, I’ve… been busy. Sorry,” she offers.

But Maggie is quickly shaking her head, and calls out for M’gann, who smiles at her, “What’re drinking tonight? First round’s on me.”

Alex arches an eyebrow, “Oh yeah? I didn’t even have to kick your ass at pool to get my free drink?”

Maggie regards her, giving her a probing look, before it melts into fondness and she settles her hand lightly over Alex’s for a second and says, “Welcome to Sapphic life, Danvers. I’m proud of you. Nothing wrong with being a late bloomer and I could be a pretty good wingwoman… if that’s what you want.”

Alex feels her cheeks heat when she realizes that Maggie is referencing their kiss. But she’s referencing it like Alex just did it as a – a drunk coming out? And more than that, Maggie is offering to be her wingwoman.

She… really can’t do anything right, she guesses, and she wants to pound her head against the bar in mortification.

And so they drink and Maggie buys and they pretend everything’s fine. Or… Alex pretends, because everything apparently is really fine for Maggie.

//

They’re drinking wine coolers – Kara likes the taste, and she is the one who insisted on hosting a “special” girl’s night – a few weeks later.

Kara’s special girl’s night features The L Word, and when Alex realizes it – while she, Kara, Lucy, and Maggie are on the couch together, Alex drops her head back and groans as she throws a pillow at her sister.

But she laughs and so does everyone else and things really do start to feel okay again, even after having her heart squeezed into a pulp with the words huge mistake still haunting her at night sometimes. No, it’s not her ideal dream – because that would involve Maggie up snuggled on the couch with her instead of sitting in the chair next to the couch– but they’re friends and she has her sister and their other friends. And she’ll be okay.

//

During Alex’s first date with a woman, they have margaritas.

It’s been over two months since she kissed Maggie and things are finally seeming to fall back into complete normalcy for them. Of course, Maggie has never acted as if anything was really off, but Alex could see the how she didn’t touch as freely as she did before. Or maybe that was just Alex thinking too hard about everything.

Which is entirely possible.

Regardless, she doesn’t cry at night anymore – that stopped weeks ago – and she doesn’t feel like her heart hurts so badly she can’t breathe when she sees Maggie’s beautiful dimpled smile or smells her perfume. Instead, it’s now just a little ache.

It’s an ache she can deal with because she would choose to have Maggie in her life as her best friend, the way she’s been for the last couple of years, over losing her. Even when it was killing her inside for the first month, Alex knows it kills her less than not having Maggie close in whatever way she can have her would kill her.

It’s an ache she can deal with because it’s very familiar to the one she’d already felt for over a year, being in love with Maggie. It was just that before, she didn’t know for certain that Maggie didn’t feel the same way and now she did, so the ache dug a little deeper now. Now that there was no what-ifs and maybes.

Anyway, she’s already been living with it for a while and now, this love for Maggie inside of her that’s both good and bad, is just a part of her at this point. She’s used to it.

And now that there’s no hope to keep this candle burning, according to Kara, it means Alex is ready to get out there and try to find someone else. Honestly, Alex doesn’t want someone else; Alex has never connected to people particularly easily.

Still, Alex considers her will power to be decently strong, but it takes someone stronger than she is to tell Kara no and mean it when she’s making those puppy eyes.

So, here she is, sitting in a really good Mexican restaurant that she’s been to with Kara a handful of times because Kara has set her up with someone from work. Her sister was brimming with far more excitement than Alex when she left their apartment to meet the woman here, but Alex guesses she isn’t dreading the meeting, so there’s that.

She arrived early; even took the time to go from the university back to the apartment to put on some makeup, tighter jeans that made her butt look great, and a nice but still casual – as the attire of the restaurant went – long-sleeved button-up that made Lucy snort and ask how she didn’t know she was gay earlier.

 Okay, and she might be just a little nervous.

To calm herself, she takes out her phone and is thumbing through her emails.

The emails get broken up though, by texts from Maggie – who had called her earlier to see if she wanted to get dinner and finish the DVD collection she’d bought a few weeks ago full of truly B-list horror movies. They’d left off on one about a chupacabra, which neither of them had been able to take seriously – and who had responded to the news about her having a date with an, “Oh” that Alex hadn’t known what to do with.

She’s texting her now though, telling her – have fun! And be safe and if you need an emergency exit, codeword is chupacabra.

It makes her chuckle, quietly, even as she feels that ache in her chest.

She ignores Maggie, though, for now and has told herself she’s going to focus on her night ahead. Starting, she guesses with reading some emails from her students about the start of the new semester, and Alex is surprised about how much she enjoys teaching. It wasn’t really something she ever thought for herself, and she loves working in the lab just as much if not more… but still.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but – Alex?” a voice asks, coming from someone standing next to her chair.

Alex quickly locks her phone and puts it face down, “Uh, sorry, you’re not interrupting anything. Yeah, I’m Alex,” she says and wonders for a minute if she should stand up?

She hasn’t been on a date in over two years and even when she was, it was never – well, obviously never with a woman. So she does stand, smoother than she’d expected of herself, offering her hand before she gets a look at the woman.

“Natalie, right?” she double checks, not that she really needs to. Kara’s told her enough about the woman.

Her sister said she was pretty, and she is. She’s a bit taller than Alex in her heels, long reddish blonde hair, and a smattering of freckles over her nose – she’s pretty and Alex smiles easily at her.

Natalie couldn’t look more different than Maggie if she tried, and Alex is glad. She’s already spending so much time with Maggie running circles on her mind, mental Maggie must be exhausted.

Natalie’s eyes track over her, appreciation clear in her gaze, and Alex feels a small rush of something, which is exciting in and of itself, because that’s a feeling she knows that the girls she’d known in her teenage years would talk about with boys, and she kind of gets it. Finally.

They sit down again and Alex orders a margarita, quickly followed by Natalie saying, “Um, how about a pitcher?”

Alex smiles then, again, because this is someone could get along with, clearly, and nods the confirmation at the waiter. She arches an eyebrow, “Long day at work? Kara said you’re one of the producers at CatCo News?”

Natalie shakes her head, grinning softly, “No, not a long day. Probably not as long as yours, anyway.” She slides a look to Alex, who’s confused for a second, before she explains, “You know, double doctor, doing groundbreaking research, adjunct professor. And you’re like two years younger than I am.”

Alex can tell she is probably looking a little embarrassed as she shrugs, and chuckles, “I guess Kara told you about me, too.”

Natalie nods before looking a little sheepish as she leans in slightly, begetting Alex to lean in, too, “She told me a little, but the truth is… that I read your article last year and watched your TEDtalk. When I was talking to Kara the other day waiting for my meeting with Cat, she mentioned her sister – well, you and the class you’re teaching. So… I might have asked about you.”

Alex stares at her, surprised and pleased and more confident than she can remember feeling in a long time because. Huh.

She feels less nervous after that. She and Natalie eat and finish the pitcher of margaritas and go their separate ways in the parking lot after a goodnight kiss that makes Alex smile.

She doesn’t feel the warmth of it in the middle of the night and it doesn’t make Alex feel like she dropped off the point on a rollercoaster. But that also means it’s not scary and her heart won’t break, and that’s – good.

//

They drink margaritas again the second time she goes out with Natalie, that time to a CatCo trivia night that Kara wants her to go to. They kiss a little more after and Alex gets informed that her mind is, in fact, sexy.

But when Natalie pulls back, her hands on Alex’s hips and stroking her there in a way that Alex finds really pleasant, she shakes her head and bites her lip, “Don’t get me wrong, because I find you incredibly attractive – like. Really.” And Alex can see the truth of that all over her face, even as she looks regretful, “But I’m – not looking for anything serious right now. I’m pretty fresh out of a long relationship, so… I wanted you to know.”

Alex doesn’t know how that’s supposed to make her feel, if there is a way, but Alex just feels relieved. Because, “I’m – same. Me neither.”

Okay so maybe she wasn’t out of a relationship, but her heart still feels like it’s in recovery. She’s enjoying fun with Natalie and her time spent there typically shifts Maggie into the back of her mind for a bit, which is nice.

She realizes that margaritas are Natalie’s drink of choice when they drink them a third time, too. This time at Natalie’s apartment, and they kiss more – a lot more – and touch and it’s Alex’s first time with a woman.

It’s good – better than any other times she’s had sex before. She guesses… women really are her thing, and it’s not just Maggie who she can be attracted to. She stays the night and when she leaves in the morning, coffee in hand and feeling good, she instinctively knows that was the end of her dates with Natalie.

She drinks her morning after coffee and thinks about how while she’s not only attracted to Maggie, it’s Maggie she stills longs to wake up with in the morning. At least she can say she tried dating, though, and that she gets herself better now.

That’s not nothing.

//

She’s with Maggie at their bar, drinking white Russians – M’gann is mixing up her typical blend and is giving “her favorite two customers” free trials, as long as they’re down to be her test subjects – when she lies to Maggie.

They’re playing pool and she’s kicking Maggie’s ass even when she’s giving her pointers, and Alex lives for these moments. She can’t help it. Hanging out with Maggie is like taking the strongest shot of anything, leaving Alex drunk on her.

She shakes her head as she watches Maggie – doing her damndest to not look at the curve of her ass – and grins in amusement, “How are you still this bad even after my trying to help you for over two years?”

“Trying to help me, Danvers? You kick my ass and then I have to pick up the tab. Me, the street cop, picking up the tab for you, doctor genius. Sounds a lot like you’ve been taking advantage of me for years,” Maggie shoots back, exaggeratedly groaning when her ball misses the pocket by just a hair. “I’m beginning to think that you’ve been giving me false tips to keep me from getting any better.”

Alex smirks, “Oh, you’re just figuring that out now?” before she sips at her drink and starts eyeing her next shot.

Maggie laughs, soft and it floats of Alex’s skin, before it fades off. She doesn’t even have to look at Maggie to know that the silence that encompasses them is one of Maggie’s contemplative ones. She just waits for Maggie to think over whatever it is she is thinking over as she leans down to sink her next shot, pocketing three shots before she misses one.

Maggie asks, slowly and nonchalantly, “So. How’s Natalie?”

And Maggie’s dark eyes are on her when she stands up, watching and intense in a way that Alex doesn’t get. She doesn’t blush anymore, when she thinks about her night with Natalie, because it’s been a few weeks. She had the day after, when Maggie met up with Alex for lunch and had just known.

So Alex sighs as she debates on what to say. Not seeing her anymore, too hung up on you, doesn’t seem like a great option, so she settles with something more vague but still true, “I don’t think we’re going to see each other again; it wasn’t that serious,” she finishes with a shrug as she sips at her drink.

When she turns to face Maggie, expecting the other woman to be aiming for her next pool shot, she instead sees Maggie shaking her head slightly in that way she does. That amused, affectionate way that Alex knows comes out for her and makes her feel special written all over her face.

“What?” she asks almost wanting to brush her hand over her face with the way Maggie’s eyes linger there.

She keeps shaking her head, though, still smiling that cutely. Fondly. “Nothing… it’s just. You come out, then date and sleep with your first woman. And two weeks later you’re all it’s not that serious,” Maggie does a terrible impersonation of her, but it’s adorable and Alex is scoffing even if she feels herself blush just a little bit.

Alex just looks at Maggie because she wants to know what she’s aiming at, when Maggie explains, “A lot of the time, the first woman you sleep with is someone you get stuck on, you know? Like, the first one that makes you feel… whatever. And then those things never really work out.” Her voice gets a little lower, thoughtful, before she pulls out of it, blinking as she looks up at Alex, “But here you are, shrugging and going, it’s not that serious.

Maggie tilts her head now, smile etching slow across her face, eyes sparkling. The gaze always makes Alex kind of feel like a hero – like Maggie’s hero, which is crazy, but. It is what it is.

Until she remembers that she does have a first one that makes her feel like the world spins backwards on it’s axis, she does have the one she’s stuck on, the one that’s not working out – romantically, anyway – and she’s standing right in front of her.

So she chalks up her cue for something to do as she arches an eyebrow, waiting for Maggie to continue her thoughts, because Alex knows she has something else to say.

And she does.

That same expression on her face, her tone pretending to mock but Alex can hear the genuine tone as Maggie says, “And it’s badass. You’re just – you’re special, Danvers.”

Alex squirms at the niggling burst of warmth in her stomach.

It disappears when Maggie bites her lip and turns to face the pool table, finally lining up her next pool shot. Her voice is serious now; a drastic turn from the lighthearted comment from moments ago, even a little tremulous for a moment before she clears her throat and asks, “So, if not Natalie and you have that first lady out of your system… you have your eyes on someone else? Some other lucky lady?”

Alex’s hand tightens into a fist because she wants to rub it over her chest when her heart lurches. You is already in her throat as she watches Maggie, who seems to be frozen against the pool table. It’s like she’s preparing to aim her pool cue, but she’s taking longer than usual, her hand tapping against the table.

And Alex closes her eyes and hears huge mistake and wingwoman and those things never really work out and she can’t.

So even though she hasn’t really lied to Maggie before, not about anything real or this important to her, she does. Because their friendship teetered a little a few months ago after that kiss and she can’t handle a rejection again.

“No,” she answers after a few moments beat between them, “I have a lot happening, with taking on more classes to teach in next semester and that grant proposal I’m working on. Just – too much going on right now to think about being in a relationship.”

Maggie accepts her answer with a nod and blows out a long breath, her shoulders hunching in as she quickly takes a shot on the pool table. It’s sloppier than usual, missing by a mile, before Maggie slowly straightens up and shakes out her shoulders, “No, yeah. I get it. That’s – you know – smart. You’re going to change the world.” She throws Alex a half-smile that makes her dimples pop but not as deep as usual, “Doctor doctor Danvers.”

Alex exhales, the heaviness in her chest releasing bit by bit and she rolls her eyes, “Shut up.”

//

They’re out at a bar – not M’gann’s – and Alex is drinking a long island iced tea when she meets Emily for the first time.

They’re out at this particular establishment, which is some sort of techno bar/club type place that is not somewhere Alex particularly wants to be in the first place, because Winn had designed a light show they were going to play. The whole group, minus Lucy because she’s in DC for a legal consult, is there in support and for the night out.

Alex, James, and Maggie are the ones at the table, though, as Winn went to talk to the guy he’s working for at this place and Kara went with him. Alex is listening to James and Maggie “debate” about photojournalism and the press – namely, her venting about “anyone with a camera” thinking they have rights on crime scene and James defending the right to the press.

It’s an old argument at this point, still a little entertaining, but Alex is only half-listening as she drinks her iced tea and mentally goes over the speech she’s been asked to give at a conference next week.

She’s the first one who notices the brunette that approaches their table. The woman is wearing almost uncomfortably out of place in this bar. Not that Alex particularly thinks they’re “in place” but she stands looking like she wants to fidget, slightly nervous, in clothes that make Alex think she came just from work, including a blazer.

But Alex isn’t the one she notices at the table; no, her eyes are on Maggie, and Alex can recognize that look all over her face. The look of wanting, of liking, because she recognizes it as something she feels all of the time.

It feels like a stone sinking in her stomach as the woman gives her a brief, nervous smile before clearing her throat, “Maggie?”

Alex is the one who nudges her friend with her elbow, almost a little too hard, and Maggie turns to look at her in question, but then notices the woman.

Alex notes that she’s surprised, but not displeased, just from the look on her face and in her tone when she says, “Emily? What are you doing here?”

“Oh, well, you mentioned you’d be here tonight for your friend, and I wanted to talk to you,” she hedges.

Maggie’s giving her a concerned look, “If it’s anything to do with the investigation, you should – ”

“It’s personal,” Emily cuts in, smiling now.

And wow Alex does not want to be here to see this at all.

Emily, Alex learns, is an art dealer who was involved in a case Maggie worked on last month – it was a big case and Alex herself had spent several nights talking it out with Maggie as best as she could. There was a large-scale black market operation and Maggie had been one of the cops who’d helped bust it open. Alex was, and still is, super proud.

Emily had been one of the people affected by the crimes, and, it turns out, had ended up being involved with the investigation more than once. It’s how she got to know Maggie a little. It’s how she apparently developed a little thing for her. A big enough thing to seek her out, anyway.

Maggie is flattered, Alex knows it, and she asks Emily to stay. They go to the bar together and Alex watches, aggressively pulling on her straw until her class is empty, eyes purposefully trained on the dance floor, where her sister has just been joined by James instead of… anywhere else.

While she drinks another long island iced tea, she gets a bad feeling in her stomach.

//

She’s drinking martinis with Kara instead of Maggie in M’gann’s when she realizes that Emily is really a Thing.

That feeling she’d had the first night she met Emily? Turns out to be legitimate, she finds out, over the next couple of months. It’s not like she doesn’t still see Maggie or that Maggie doesn’t clearly value their friendship and make time for her, because that’s not the case.

They’re still the only ones who value poorly done – and well done, but those aren’t as fun – horror movies and who never get sick of playing darts and pool and poker. They still dominate family trivia night and kick ass during group outings to paintball.

But Emily is now a Thing. Certainly not a casual one like Maggie’s things and more serious than Colleen was; she’s a girlfriend, and one that Maggie clearly likes. She’d told Alex as much during one of their trips to the shooting range a few weeks ago. Not that Maggie talks overly much about Emily to Alex. Just mentions that maybe Emily will be “sticking around” which, in Maggie speak, means that she likes her a lot.

It hurts. It hurts more than Alex thought it would, because Emily is the first person Maggie’s been with since Alex kissed her. She doesn’t know what she thought would happen or how she thought she would feel about Maggie dating post-kiss. But she knows that she wishes it was her Maggie wanted. So, so badly.

Emily doesn't have that same assured dislike of Alex that Colleen had and Alex makes more of an effort with Emily during the occasional moments their lives intersect. Because she doesn't want to make things uncomfortable for Maggie even when they are for her.

And she doesn’t even dislike Emily. Mostly.

Okay, there are things she isn’t a huge fan of – and not only just the fact that she has whatever it is Maggie wants in a woman when Alex doesn’t. But she’s not a bad person; she’s smart, artsy, and carries a briefcase without looking like an idiot, so Alex guesses that’s something.

So, she already knows that Emily is Maggie’s girlfriend, but she realizes that it’s maybe a little more serious the night that Maggie texts her and says that she’s having dinner with Emily’s brother and his wife, who are in town, and they’re at Mario’s uptown. Maggie texted to tell her that the steak is over sixty dollars and why is that necessary when Maggie grilled them better steaks last weekend for a third of the price?

It’s amusing and so Maggie and when Alex got the text as she’d left NCU for the evening, she immediately decided she needed a drink. She’d shot off a quick text to Kara, giving her a brief overview and that she’d be at the bar for a bit tonight.

And when she gets to M’gann’s, Kara is already waiting with a martini for her and a lemonade for herself and soft puppy eyes that Alex finds comforting, as she says apologetically, “I can’t stay for that long; Cat’s going to be working late, which means I’m going to be working late, but… I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Because meeting the family isn’t super Maggie-like – she hadn’t met Colleen’s and they’d been together over six months – but she’s at a restaurant she has complained about being ridiculously overpriced to meet Emily’s, Alex gratefully accepts the martini.

After she takes a sip, she sighs and shakes her head, “I’m fine, Kara.” She already knows her sister is going to protest, and she cuts it off, “Really. I’m a big girl; I can’t go around crying just because of – all this.”

She doesn’t want to talk about it, though. Not when she’s hating herself for not being able to get over these feelings and feeling shitty for somewhat hoping that her best friend’s relationship doesn’t work out.

Instead, she plays Kara in pool – her only true competitor in the game – before her sister has to leave and then tries to make herself think about anything else. The distraction happens when a guy challenges her to a game of pool, and Alex gladly kicks his ass.

She vacillates between swindling other people in the bar and playing by herself, trying to think about work, for over an hour, when someone approaches the table. Her stomach swoops deliciously low when she smells Maggie’s perfume before she sees her.

She turns around and is nearly breathless when she sees the dress Maggie’s wearing; black and form-fitting and leaving just enough skin on display that Alex’s fingertips itch to trace over soft, revealed skin. “You – uh, you really cleaned for up tonight, huh?” she manages to say, “With the hair and the shoes and…”

It’s not like, in the last couple of years, she hasn’t seen Maggie dressed up. But this is something a little different than what she’s used to, and her knees want to go weak.

Maggie grins at her, wide and dimpled, “Yeah, well, apparently they don’t let you through the doors at Mario’s unless you can pass for a socialite.”

The thought dawns on Alex again just why Maggie is dressed up so gorgeously that Alex wants to swallow her tongue, “Right. No Emily tonight? I figured you’d, you know, hang out after dinner.”

Maggie shrugs and Alex fucking loves that she wore her leather jacket over that dress, “I heard you were here hustling poor suckers out of their money and decided to take pity on those fools and come help them out.”

“Oh, so I can take your money instead? Officer Sawyer, you really are a humanitarian,” she teases, swallowing hard a moment later and having to turn away when Maggie slips out of her jacket in a smooth shrug, reaching for the chalk again even though she didn’t need it.

Dark eyes spark up at her as Maggie crosses her arms, “I’m glad you recognize what a philanthropic person I really am.” The way Maggie leans back against the wall is almost devastating in the way that Alex wants her so badly, but she looks pensive as she explains softly, “Emily wanted to spend some more time with her brother; I wanted to unwind a little. Figured you’d be here.”

Alex feels herself warm and grin because she doesn’t know if there will be a time where being the person Maggie is most comfortable with won’t feel like such an honor.

She hesitates for a moment before she decides, screw it, she’ll ask because the only harm is Maggie just saying that she doesn’t want to talk about it and they’ll move on. “How was meeting the family? That’s… something new.”

Maggie nods slowly, and Alex knows she’s going to answer before she even opens her mouth. “It was, you know, it was surprisingly okay. Her brother’s a little…”

“Pretentious,” Alex supplies easily even though she’s never met the man.

Maggie blinks, lips turning upwards into a small grin as she crosses her arms, “How did you know that’s the word I wanted?”

Alex can’t tell her that it’s because she gets that vibe from Emily sometimes – but if Emily Rhodes, art dealer, and her brother Caleb, investment banker, from Westport Connecticut didn’t just scream pretentious, Alex would be hard pressed to say what did – so she shrugs her shoulders and bounces up on her toes for a second, “I can read your mind.”

Whiskey brown eyes have narrowed at her ever so slightly, but they sparkle so Alex knows that Maggie knows what she was thinking. And that she’s more amused than offended.

Then Maggie tilts her head at the martini glass that Alex had been drinking out of as she asks, “What’s a girl gotta do to get one of those?”

She wonders how it is that Maggie doesn’t know that all a girl has to do to get Alex to do almost anything is just be Maggie Sawyer.

//

Alex is drinking daiquiris and piña coladas consistently for an entire weekend that the whole group spends at the beach.

The whole group, minus Kara, who can’t take vacation time off at CatCo – honestly, it doesn’t matter what Alex says about quitting her job, Kara apparently likes it and Cat – is stationed for two days at the Lane family vacation house in Santa Monica.

Alex hasn’t taken an actual vacation in years, hasn’t been to the beach to surf in so long she’s almost forgotten how much she loves the feeling of the sand under her feet, and had been so busy last month that she hadn’t even taken a day off when Kara wanted her to, to celebrate Alex’s twenty-seventh birthday together. So, this steadily tipsy weekend with her friends is in honor of that.

It also so happens that Emily is going to join them. Because she and Maggie have been dating for almost six months now, and even though Emily doesn’t spend that much time with them as a group, apparently she’d like to know them better.

When Maggie had posed this as a question to them, if Emily could join their weekend, it was Winn who said, “Why not?”

And Alex was so, so grateful that Lucy was nonchalant when she told Maggie that as long as she was fine with sharing a twin bed, she didn’t see any problems, since Alex is bunking with Lucy in the master room, the only room with a queen. Maggie had agreed easily and Alex had sighed, feeling more stressed about her weekend of vacation. Lucy had hit Winn on the shoulder at the quickest opportunity while Alex eventually relented that it was fine and really, she should probably get used to spending more time with Emily.

So, she happily takes the mixed drinks Lucy expertly makes throughout the weekend for a multitude of reasons. To help her not feel as suffocated when Emily and Maggie are all cutesy-coupley, to celebrate her time off, to relax.

She doesn’t spend that much time with Maggie that weekend, and she knows it. It’s not like she’s avoiding her, but spending time with Maggie also means – usually – spending time with Emily. When though she doesn’t dislike her, is she took Maggie out of the equation, Emily probably wouldn’t be someone Alex hangs out with. So, she’s nice to Emily in times where they all hang out and makes conversation with her despite their lack of shared interest.

She surfs and takes some time to lay in the sun and reads a book that she wants to read for fun.

The first night, they’re all a little tipsy from drinking and being in the sun all day, and when Winn says they should play never have I ever as they’re all sitting around the fire on the beach later that night, he’s met with halfhearted groans, and he just says, “I never played when I was younger! I didn’t have this many friends.”

“That’s shocking,” Alex deadpans back.

And so they do, which Alex later regrets. For several reasons; first of all, because she has to see Maggie’s responses to the statements about sexual experiences – which makes her heart pound in good and bad ways.

Secondly, because she truthfully answers about “never have I ever given someone a lapdance” – thanks, James – and apparently is the only one aside from Lucy to have done so.

Lucy herself is the one who challenges her about it, “Alex Danvers entering a lapdance competition at a club? I don’t think so.”

“You underestimate just how much twenty-one year old Alex would do for free drinks the whole night,” Alex retorts.

And somehow, she’s not drunk but she is drunk enough to let herself be goaded into “prove it.”

It’ll mortifying in the sober light of the next morning, but for the time being, she straddles Lucy and firmly does not look at Maggie even though she wants to. She wants to because god she’s thought so many inappropriate thoughts about Maggie even when she knows she shouldn’t because she’s her best friend. But when it’s late at night and she can remember their short kiss or all of the times she’s had Maggie’s body so close to hers, she can’t help it.

And she closes her eyes, inebriated mind picturing dark eyes watching her, as she rocks her hips along with the music against Lucy’s. But that makes her shudder, so she opens her eyes and meets Lucy’s surprised look with a smirk, and grinds down. It’s almost a little fun, reminiscent of the dancing part of her clubbing days, which she’s actually liked.

She makes the mistake of looking up and seeing Maggie’s dark gaze actually really watching her intently, eyebrow raised and head tilted.

And just that moment that one moment catches in Alex’s heart makes her blood sing and her hips lose rhythm, so she slides off Lucy’s lap, feeling shaky. When she’s done, Winn whoops with an impressed sound and Lucy stares at her with a glint in her eyes as she says, “You just might have something there, Danvers.”

She takes a deep breath and tries to quell that heat inside that only a look from Maggie managed to evoke, and shoves at Lucy’s shoulder, “I’m expecting a tip.”

Lucy winks, “We’re sharing a bed, remember?”

When she finally looks up again and across the fire, she sees Emily and Maggie, still leaning into each other. And Alex still feels that breath-stealing, fever-dream inducing heat inside at just the thought of dancing like that with Maggie, so she avoids her friends face. But instead lands on Emily, who has a considering look and a frown settled deeply into her face as she looks at Alex that gives her a bad feeling.

The third reason she dislikes the game is because nearing the end, Winn says, “Never have I ever kissed anyone here.”

And Alex doesn’t know if she should drink or not because – well, Maggie has been pretending for almost a year that they hadn’t kissed. Or maybe… she hasn’t been pretending anything and it’s just that the kiss didn’t mean anything to her. It didn’t break her heart like it did Alex’s, so why would it be relevant?

Regardless, James and Lucy obviously both drink – cheers-ing to each other – and so do Maggie and Emily. She wonders for a second if it’s just Emily she’s thinking of before she admonishes herself silently because that’s not something she should think about.

Then Alex drinks, too, because it happened and Alex can’t forget about it. Can never forget about it, when she still can feel Maggie’s soft breath against her face.

And Emily is staring at her again, she can feel her eyes on the side of her face, so intense it’s almost like burning holes into her skin. Alex pointedly stares into the fire while she thinks about the feeling of Maggie’s lips on hers that really shouldn’t be as memorable as it is but… it’s all burned into Alex’s brain, every second. She doesn’t look up, but she can feel the way the air changes just a bit.

Alex knows that no one else really notices it because she can hear the conversation going on normally between Winn and James and Lucy and Maggie – always Maggie, she can never not hear Maggie’s voice – but the moment is so uncomfortable that she can’t handle it. So, she pushes herself up and tells them, “Actually, I’m, uh, going to bed.”

“It’s still early,” Maggie says in surprise, probably because she and Alex have stayed up to drink together, to watch movies together, go to on late night runs during those movies tonight to the food truck parked near Maggie’s apartment so many times even later than this.

“Yeah, I’m… tired,” she mutters, drawing a hand through her hair and mustering a small smile for the group.

She goes to bed, lying there awake still when Lucy comes in. She changes into pajamas and climbs into bed next to Alex, resting her hand on Alex’s hip and rubbing softly there while she falls asleep. Like she knows Alex doesn’t want to talk about it – has talked about it, her feelings for Maggie already before – and Alex is grateful.

She goes outside a little later when she has trouble sleeping and is looking up at the stars from the sand just off the back porch. Wondering why Maggie never told Emily about their kiss. Then chastising herself because, why would she have? A single kiss that turned into nothing isn’t exactly a significant moment.

Her head is just starting to clear and her stomach starting to untangle the knots when she hears the door to the house quietly close and footsteps pad outside. It’s Maggie, she already knows it. She thinks about how it’s Maggie that gives her these complicated feelings, but is also the one who can soothe them like a healing balm.

She doesn’t turn and look at her but she takes in a deep breath and inhales both the ocean and Maggie’s perfume and it’s probably one of the best combinations Alex has ever imagined.

“Can’t sleep?” she asks, doing her best not to think about Emily upstairs in the bed they’re sharing.

Maggie shrugs – Alex can feel the movement against her shoulder – before she explains, “I was getting some water and looked out the window. Saw you here and thought you looked a little lonely.”

“Alone, not lonely,” Alex corrects, even though maybe she was feeling a little lonely. But sometimes she likes to be alone at the ocean; it makes her think about her dad.

She isn’t looking but she knows Maggie is rolling her eyes at her response.

“The first time I saw the ocean was the week I met you. That’s a coincidence, right?” Maggie says softly, and now Alex does look at her. Maggie has her eyes on the water and the moon reflects over her face, making her look like some ethereal being; as if Alex needed to give herself another reason to find Maggie gorgeous.

“I can’t imagine living somewhere without the option of the beach… even if I can’t go because I’m working too much,” she allows with a self-directed pout.

It’s then that Maggie does look at her, smiling and teasing, “Yeah, those surfing skills aren’t something you’d just picked up today. Smooth moves, dude. Tubular.”

“Oh, my god, get out of Wayne’s World,” Alex feels herself grinning back in spite of her laughing tone, as she kicks some sand over at Maggie, “You don’t think I could just pick up a skill like that, huh?”

Maggie chuckles and the sound feels like it’s sailing over Alex’s skin and blending into the waves crashing as she kicks sand back at her. This begins a sand-kicking war that lasts for long minutes and leaves them both grinning and covered in sand and Alex doesn’t regret a moment of it, as they lay on their backs looking up at the stars.

It’s quiet around them, save for the water, and Alex loves the sound of her childhood mixed with the feeling of Maggie so close to her that she can almost feel her body heat.

She tells Maggie that her dad taught her how to surf. That he also taught her about the stars. And Maggie requests quietly, “Tell me about them.”

So she does.

They stay out there for a long time, and Alex talking about the stars evolves into her talking about her dad and “he made me want to be a scientist” and “my mom was so much happier back then” and “he made pancakes every Sunday” and when she’s done, she is still covered in sand, but she feels cleansed in a way.

A deep way, because those words that have left her, about her dad, were words she hasn’t talked about with anyone in a long, long time. And never to anyone outside of her family.

Maggie is looking at her when she finally rambles to a stop, and Alex feels her cheeks heat slightly at the incredibly soft look Maggie is giving her. “Sorry,” she whispers, her voice suddenly raspy, “For talking so much.”

But Maggie shakes her head and Alex can see the way the sand sifts through dark strands in a way that’s hypnotizing for a moment before she looks back at Maggie’s eyes and sees that there are tears in them. “Don’t – don’t apologize, Alex. Your dad… sounds like he was great.”

“He was,” she agrees slowly. Worry washes through her, heady and concerning as she sits up a bit to edge closer, “Are you okay? Did I make you…” she trails off, lifting a hand to gesture at Maggie’s face.

Which makes Maggie choke out a laugh, and then tears fall, rolling down the sides of her face while she faces up at the sky. Wet trails falling into her hair, into the sand, and Alex can’t – she can’t sit here and watch Maggie cry. It’s physically impossible for her to do that, not when her arms ache to comfort her.

So she does.

She reaches out and first coaxes her arm awkwardly under Maggie’s neck and shoulders so she can rub little circles on the opposite shoulder, while Maggie lays warm against her. She wants to whisper comforting platitudes, but she doesn’t know what to say. Has no idea what is wrong, how can she chase Maggie’s demons for her, with her, if she doesn’t know what’s wrong?

Her voice is pleading just a little as she speaks softly, “What is it? Maggie, what’s wrong?”

Her breath catches when Maggie turns into her more, shifting so that their whole bodies are touching and Alex can lift her arm that’s around Maggie’s shoulders enough to stroke gently up and down her arm. Maggie is soft and warm against her and she’s crying quietly, tears leaking her from eyes, breaking Alex’s heart.

And finally Maggie says, “My dad… he – when my parents found out I was gay, they kicked me out. That was it, no second chance and no…” she trails off, her body shivering under the sweatshirt she’s wearing.

Alex uses her free hand to pull the sweatshirt tighter around her friend as Maggie tells her in murmurs and whispers and an occasional sniffle about the night her parents kicked her out and how she’d moved in with her aunt. Alex feels a simmering anger inside of her that makes her hand that’s on Maggie’s sweatshirt pull into a fist for a second before she forces herself to relax – because it’s not the time.

Can’t be the time when Maggie is crying and trusting her with her past. Alex does what she can and holds Maggie a little tighter and tries to comfort her and tries to make Maggie feel safe and warm with her, here and now, the way she often feels with Maggie.

“I… that’s why I – that’s why I wanted to find my person so badly,” Maggie tells her softly, not really crying anymore, and reminding Alex of that conversation they had what feels like forever ago, after Colleen had broken up with her. Alex hasn’t let her go yet. Is reluctant to let Maggie go because she wants so badly to be the one to help protect Maggie from the world, “Because someone has to be out there who would think, who’ll see everything. Everything that my parents saw, everything my exes saw, and still –” she cuts herself off and her breath hitches on a deep breath.

Alex turns her head enough so she can see Maggie’s face, see the downtrodden look on it as she explains herself and she knows that she would fight a war, fight an alien attack, fight anything and anyone in the world to be able to keep that look off of Maggie’s face and – god, she is so stupidly in love with this woman.

She takes Maggie’s chin in her hand like her hand as a mind of her own, tilting Maggie’s head up so those eyes, so dark they’re like obsidian right now and just as endlessly deep and reflective to look into. It makes her heart absolutely pound in her chest to be this close with Maggie, but she needs Maggie to hear her.

“Your parents were wrong, Maggie. And they missed out on knowing one of the best people I’ve ever met in my entire life. One of the best people that I’ll ever meet,” Alex’s voice is strong and sure because she knows that for a fact. She’s holding Maggie against her on the beach in the moonlight, and she can’t help but add, “And so was anyone else for walking away.”

She can both feel and hear Maggie’s scoff and the way her head starts to shake, so Alex uses the hand that’s still on the soft skin of Maggie’s jaw, making her stop her motions and look at her again, as she firmly tells her, “They were. Who’s the doctor here, huh? I know best,” she adds because this moment and this closeness is – it’s getting to her and making her stomach jump and her head feel light.

Maggie is looking up at her with that wondrous look in her eyes. Eyes that are searching Alex’s own and then slide down Alex’s face for a heart-stopping moment. She freezes… but then Maggie is sighing and looking back at Alex shaking her head slightly, dislodging Alex’s hand gently as her gaze warms, “You are the doctor here,” Maggie agrees gently.

It’s teasing in it’s own way, lightening this feeling between them, but it’s also serious. Because Alex knows Maggie does trust her. She knows for a fact that Maggie’s past has given her walls and fences and is something she never likes to share.

Alex takes that trust seriously.

When Maggie takes a deep breath, so close to Alex’s neck that she can feel her inhale and it makes her shiver, then pulls back enough so that she isn’t pressed against Alex, she feels the loss. Viscerally. But it’s also when she remembers that Maggie has a girlfriend inside, sleeping in the bed Maggie will go back to.

She hates remembering that and it gives her that tightness in her throat for only a second, before she leans back to their friendly distance.  

She doesn’t want to part with Maggie when they get back inside, but reluctantly does. Enjoying the hand on her arm as Maggie lightly squeezes her there and says, “Thanks for my astronomy lesson, Dr. Danvers. And everything else.”

When she finally gets back to bed, Lucy has sprawled out across the middle of the mattress and Alex has to push her over enough to fit in before Lucy immediately curls up against her, sleepily muttering, “You better not get sand in my bed.”

“Who knew Lucy Lane was such a cuddle monster?” she shoots back and gets a pinch on her hip that makes her yelp in surprise.

Despite knowing that Maggie is with Emily in the other room, she’s able to fall asleep then, not feeling that same heaviness she’d had only hours ago.

Things are normal again the next day.

Except Emily seems to have a speculative eye on her that she swears she can feel throughout the day. And that night, they play beer pong and it ends up being Alex versus Emily in the final round, which no one had really expected, given that Emily didn’t drink as much as anyone that weekend, and had stated that she wasn’t that big into partying.

But she really goes for it and there is a glint in her eye that feels more aggressive than beer pong and Alex can’t help but feel the same thing edge into herself. She doesn’t try to fight it that much, either, because she has always liked to win. And while playing beer pong shouldn’t be this intense, she can’t help it.

And when she wins and her friends drunkenly cheer, she can’t help but look up at Maggie. Who is smiling at her slightly and shaking her head and saying, “When are we going to find something you don’t win at, Danvers?”

She almost preens at the words, because praise always makes her feel good and praise from Maggie makes her feel even better. The smile on Emily’s face is forced, Alex knows, because she’s forcing one right back as she mutters, “That was impressive,” before downing the rest of her daiquiri.

Emily presses closer to Maggie and Alex wonders if she’s imagining the possessiveness in the arm she slings around Maggie’s shoulder and pulls her in. Probably not, though.

She understands the want to be able to affirm that Maggie is with her – really, she fucking gets that because she feels that want, that wish, every day – but she doesn’t understand Emily’s intensity because can’t Alex be allowed to have beer pong when Emily gets Maggie?

//

Alex buys artisanal ale for Maggie when she gets promoted to detective.

Maggie has passed her test and gets the promotion following a huge drug bust that she’d been working since the beginning. It had meant several weeks full of long nights and Maggie not spending as much time with Alex, the group, killing herself at the station.

She’s is the youngest person in ten years to make the promotion, and Alex could not be prouder. Really, there are fewer things she’s ever been this proud about – and she runs on pride.

It’s been a few months since the weekend at the beach house and nothing big has changed in terms of their social lives. Except for the fact that Emily seems to have picked up on the fact that Alex is wildly and painfully in love with Maggie, but Alex thinks at this point it’s only a secret to Maggie herself and maybe Winn.

There’s a little tension there now, and it’s been pretty clear, to Alex at least, that Emily has put the brakes on wanting to spend time with Maggie’s friends. She’s not super direct about it, because she’s not an outwardly rude person, but there’s a shift that Alex feels.

There’s a celebratory barbecue being thrown by one of the senior detectives, both in honor of the few detective promotions – including Maggie’s – and the successful bust, and Alex doesn’t question it when Maggie texts her the address after asking if she’s free for the night.

Alex is, and Maggie wants her to hang out, and Alex always wants to see Maggie, so she goes. It’s not the first time she’d gone to one of the barbecues or parties that Maggie’s been invited to with her coworkers over the years.

When she arrives, she parks her bike next to Maggie’s and remembers to take the bottle of the barrel aged abraxas she’d brought for Maggie carefully along with her. Maggie had mentioned it being one of her favorite drinks she’s ever had, but since it’s so rare, she hasn’t had it since then.

She walks into the backyard, into the group of police officers, and offers polite smiles. She recognizes some of them, from the past three years of knowing Maggie.

Briefly, she wonders if some of them were people who came into the bar the first time she’d seen Maggie. She wouldn’t know; she didn’t remember anyone else.

She doesn’t see Maggie right away and pauses to ask Flores, Maggie’s now former partner, “Hey! Do you know where Maggie is?”

“Alex!” he grins at her, and it’s easy to smile back. They’ve met many times, and Maggie had even hustled him at pool under Alex’s direction, “How’re you? Haven’t seen you in a while.”

She shrugs, rolling her shoulders back, “Good. The usual, work.”

“Yeah, Sawyer said –”

It’s only then that the guy next to them that Alex doesn’t know interrupts, looking Alex up and down in a way that makes her narrow her eyes, though he’s obviously excited, “Oh, you’re Sawyer’s girl, then?”

It would be a lie to say she didn’t get a rush from being called Sawyer’s girl, but then Alex can feel her cheeks heat and she crosses her arms with the uncomfortable pull in her chest reminder that she actually isn’t.

“No,” she says sharply, probably too sharply, but – oh well. “Anyway, do you know where she is?” she directs the question again to Flores, who points in a direction out in the far back corner of the yard, looking out at the way the sun sets.

Maggie’s tight jeans and a button down, with the sleeves rolled up – essentially part of her new work uniform, and Alex is just so gay and especially gay for Maggie. She would figure she’d be used to this by now, by the feeling she gets whenever she sees Maggie, but she isn’t.

She greets her with a big smile and a hug, where she feels Maggie’s arms wrap around her and squeeze in the way Maggie had that made Alex feel loved. When they lean back enough, she waves the bottle around lightly for Maggie to see it, as she bows down slightly, “For her badass majesty, Detective Sawyer.”

Maggie sees the label and her eyes light up in a way that makes the fact that Alex is a sappy idiot worth every second, “How did you get that?”

Alex shrugs as she hands the drink over, “After you told me about it, I entered the raffle they have online,” and had given extra lab time and an extension to one of the grad fellows in the PhD program whose uncle was a bigshot at a brewery and had some connections, “And I won. I was saving it for your birthday, but… this seemed more apt.”

Maggie gazes at her, eyes so warm Alex feels like she’s heated from them from the inside out, as she says, “Alex…” and trails off, shaking her head with a smile as she looks down at the bottle again.

She doesn’t know what Maggie was going to finish with, but she does know that when Maggie says her name all soft and slow like that, it makes her aware of the way her heart slowly lurches in her chest at the sound of it.

So, she deflects and shrugs as she jokes, “Yeah, well, I hope you enjoy it, weirdo. You and your twice toasted dry bagels and vegan ice cream and artisanal beer… how did we become friends, again?”

“I got sick of seeing you being a nerd by yourself scribbling in a notebook at a bar and took pity on you,” Maggie informs her, only the twinkle in her eyes belying the serious look she took on.

Alex narrows her eyes, “Excuse you, but that was my bar you came strolling into, as a little, new NCPD officer.”

Maggie can’t stop her grin now; it’s wide and adorable, dimples flashing as she runs one hand down to her waist. Alex’s eyes can’t help but slowly follow the motion, as Maggie taps a finger at her new badge, still securely hitched into her belt. Fuck, that shouldn’t be so attractive, but it is, and Alex thinks… she’s going to have to get used to that.

Her voice low is teasing, “But my, how I’ve grown.”

“In status,” Alex agrees, voice raspy, speaking through her dry throat as she flicks her gaze back to Maggie’s and grins, “But not in stature.”

It’s easy and a natural movement for her to loop her arm around Maggie’s shoulders when the smaller girl nudges against her, purposefully taking advantage of her height. She resists dropping a small kiss to the crown of her head against those soft dark locks that… wouldn’t be friendly.

It’s that reminder that has her asking, “Emily coming?” because she knows she didn’t see her on the way in.

And Maggie sighs and shrugs but Alex can feel the way her shoulders tense under her arm, as Maggie replies, “Uh, no. Not tonight.”

Alex bites her lip for a moment because it’s so much easier for her when they don’t talk about Emily. Because she can be Maggie’s friend easily even when she isn’t anything more, because it’s just so good when it’s just them.

But she’s her best friend, and it’s her job to ask, “Everything okay?”

Maggie is contemplative as she bites her lip and kicks at the dirt, shifting closer into Alex’s side for a second before she steps away, “Yeah, it’s… fine. There’s just some – ugh, stuff, going on and I wanted tonight just to be fun. No issues, you know?” she tilts her head as she asks, imploring Alex.

And she understands because she knows Maggie, so she knows that when she wants to talk, she will. Even if Alex wanted to push, she knows that there are certain moments to do it, and tonight isn’t one of them. Tonight, Maggie deserves to celebrate.

Besides… Alex never knows how to feel – how she feels – when it comes to Maggie’s relationship status.

So they drink the artisanal ale, and Alex affectionately teases Maggie about her weird tastes and Maggie looks at her with head tilts and smiles and there are no issues above the surface.

//

She’s drinking vermouth with Maggie when she tells her about the stuff with Emily.

They’re sitting at the island in the kitchen in Alex and Kara’s apartment, drinking while they eat dinner, and Alex is relishing in the time they have right now together. The semester has started and it’s been hectic, especially since she’s also been working in the lab to farther her genomics research. And Maggie’s been really busy at work, settling in as a new detective – plus, whatever there had been going on in her relationship with Emily.

Alex has tried to not to think overly much about that all.

But Maggie was the one to suggest they get together, so she’d picked up a pizza and some alcohol and had knocked on Alex’s door. She’s sipping her vermouth, when she sees Maggie answer a text from Emily. There’s a content look on her face, and Alex taps a finger against the rim of her glass, wondering about it. She spends too much time wondering about Maggie’s relationship than she should.

She doesn’t wonder for long before Maggie locks her phone and looks back at her, biting her lip for a moment before she tells Alex, “Emily got a job offer at a gallery in New York. That’s what the whole… situation’s been lately. Mostly,” she adds on, though Alex thinks it’s mostly to herself, because it’s in a murmur and then she nods.

For a moment, Alex’s world spins slower while her mind races and thinks: is Emily leaving? Why does it even matter to Alex, when it didn’t even really mean that she would have the opportunity to be with Maggie? It wasn’t like Emily was “keeping them apart” or whatever bullshit.

Would Maggie go with her?

In spite of the shock of worry that thought sends through her, she shakes her head at her own thought, barely managing to hide her thoughts on her face while Maggie was watching her. But even though Maggie had moved to National City ultimately at the result of a relationship, it didn’t mean she would move because of one. She’d just made detective here, after all.

Parts of her – the selfish parts that she hates but that still exist crawling in the back of her mind – want Emily to move. She drinks an extra-large sip of vermouth in response to those thoughts.

It helps her ask, “Is she taking it?”

Maggie shakes her head, “No. She thought she might, but. She’s staying in National City.” Maggie takes a sip of her drink, before looking back at her with a tinge of surprise in her voice that makes Alex ache, “She stayed to be with me.”

It’s the bigger part, the part that makes up almost all of her and lets her know for sure that she’s in love with Maggie, feels happy that Maggie has that wondrous tone, even if it’s for someone else. She’s happy that who Maggie is with is putting her first, because Maggie deserves that.

Even if, of course, it means things are even more serious between the two.

“I’m glad,” she says and she means it. After a moment of hearing and seeing that surprised look on Maggie’s face that she had a girlfriend who stayed repeat in her head, she traces her fingers over Maggie’s and feels the tingles shoot up her hand as usual, and ignores them, before she squeezes. Maggie’s fingers return the squeeze. “You’re worth staying for.”

“I guess she thinks so,” Maggie murmurs, that look of surprise still hinting on her features.

She wonders how Maggie feel like that about herself when Alex can see her for everything she is – flaws and all – and she still feels like she’s staring at the sun.

//

Emily and Maggie being serious actually makes Alex drink a little less in the next few months.

Mostly because Maggie’s still busy with making a name for herself as a detective and spending more nights with Emily than before, even though they haven’t yet officially moved in together. And Alex has found that even with M’gann’s company – which she enjoys, but M’gann is also actually working so it’s difficult to actually talk much – it’s just not the same to sit in the bar anymore by herself without Maggie.

Back in the day, she’d been fine to sit there alone for a bit. Chat with M’gann occasionally, sip a drink, take notes on some research. Now, it feels like she’s missing something.

So, she spends some more time in her lab, has her sister nights with Kara. Hangs out with Lucy – who has decided that doing more healthy things like going on runs, will help not think about Maggie. Plays more trivia with Winn.

But they still have their moments.

Their horror movie nights, where everyone else – if they are invited – bows out because no one shares their same affinity. They talk about the odds of horror movies and rate them on realism and likelihood of happening in real life. Okay, Alex does that part mostly along while Maggie chimes in occasionally but affectionately calls her a “nerd” in that soft vice. Maggie always rests her cheek on the top of Alex’s head and does that slight nuzzle-thing, when Alex inevitably gets sleepy and starts to droop.

Their motorcycle rides, where one of them has had a bad day or just needs some time to get out of the city or wants to race a little with someone who gets that same exhilaration, and they go outside of the city and into the desert. And everything gets quiet around them, peaceful.

And when Maggie gets tickets to a Barenaked Ladies concert, it’s Alex who she takes. They’d spoken so many times in the past about their mutual love for the group and it was just another thing that slotted them in so perfectly together. When she – reluctantly – asks about Emily, and if she would want to go, because why wouldn’t she, Maggie tells her that, “We haven’t seen each other as much lately; I miss you. Besides, you deserve this after slaving away in the lab for so long.”

She can’t argue with that.

She picks Alex up at her apartment and even though it was not planned, they’re both wearing band shirts, which Kara coos at. Alex agrees that Maggie looks adorable and perfect, but – she doesn’t need her sister encouraging her thoughts and especially not in front of Maggie.

So, Alex whips her head up to narrow her eyes at Kara, who smiles at her – guilelessly for someone who has a lot of guile whenever it comes to Alex and Maggie. Because Kara refuses to accept what Alex knows: that Maggie is with Emily and if she had wanted to be with Alex, she would have been after that kiss a year and a half ago.

But Maggie chuckles with Kara and disagrees, her voice light, “The Barenaked Ladies are cool, Little Danvers.”

“Cute,” Kara says back, blue eyes alight with excitement, “Now, have her home by midnight or she’ll turn into a pumpkin. And treat her right.”

“Of course,” Maggie promises, and she’s joking but there’s that underlying sense of seriousness as she tells her sister she’ll have her home safe and sound.

But it’s Alex who only drinks one pisco sour, and spends the rest of the night buying Maggie drinks but not drinking herself because she’s actually going to be bringing Maggie home safe and sound. She insists, because once they were alone and she could really look at Maggie, she sees that Maggie looks stressed and tired.

Maybe they haven’t seen each other for a week between work and… life, but she hates seeing Maggie so tense.

So Maggie drinks and Alex sips water, and they sing the way they both would have if they had been able to see a tour when they’d been teenagers and had first gotten into the music.

And Maggie’s drunk, so very drunk, at the end of the night as she leans into Alex’s side, alternating between singing and humming If I Had $1,000,000 into her ear. Maggie’s weight is leaning into her in a way that makes Alex feel comfortable and warm and her head is laying on Alex’s shoulder, not even looking where they go, because she trusts Alex to get them to the car.

Maggie’s breath washes over Alex’s neck and it makes Alex shiver as she wraps her arm firmly around her friend’s slim waist. She can feel the light brush of Maggie’s nose against her next and Alex almost stumbles as Maggie nuzzles her neck again and then inhales deeply, “You smell so good.”

God, her voice is low and Alex feels that rasp through her whole body. It makes her shudder and clench her jaw, “And you, are drunk,” she responds, trying to keep her voice neutral.

“Mm,” Maggie hums in agreement and then laughs a little bit before she tilts her head more and then Alex feels Maggie’s mouth rub against her neck.

Fuck. Alex does stumble then, having to tighten her hand hard on Maggie’s waist and in response, Maggie sighs against her skin and – oh, wow. Okay. Wow. She can feel arousal shoot through her, pooling low in her core and she has to swallow hard. It’s not like Maggie’s kissing her neck, right?

Just… nuzzling her lips back and forth. Which she’s never done before but – ugh, it’s a light touch and Alex can’t handle it. She thinks Maggie’s just trying to do that cuddling thing she does sometimes when she’s drunk and probably doesn’t realize what she’s doing, but. It’s doing things to her nervous system.

She’s grateful, so grateful, when they reach the car and her hand trembles a little when she unlocks the car door. Still trembling just a bit, with that rush of arousal that had slid through her, as she maneuvers Maggie into the passenger side of the car.

Maggie drowsily tells her, “I would,” as Alex leans back after putting Maggie’s seatbelt on for her.

Alex manages to take a deep breath – a much, much needed deep breath to try to calm herself – as she steps back out of Maggie’s orbit that has that easy, addicting way of sucking her in as she asks, “You would what?”

She means for her voice to be more serious, but it comes out a little breathy because she can still feel where Maggie’s mouth had rubbed over her skin and she still has a little shiver.

She wonders if that – the, the neck-nuzzling – is what Maggie is going to discuss again when she says she would, and she finds she’s waiting for Maggie’s response on baited breath.

Eyes so dark Alex is positive she could get lost in them blink open, slowly, cutely, as Maggie insists, “If I had a million dollars, I’d buy you all kinds of things. You’re my favorite person,” Maggie tells her, in drunk seriousness, “My best friend. Ever. Period.”

Alex feels her breath whoosh out of her, it was a dumb thing to wonder about – hope for? – anyway. But still, her stomach fills with pleasant warmth. That warmth dulling the heat there, because Maggie really is just so – Maggie. Her heart jump-skips a beat before it lurches; it’s a painful happiness she’s used to by now. She smiles with it, though, unable to stop it, “Okay, drunky. Let’s get you home.”

While she’s driving, stuck in a bit of traffic leaving the venue, Maggie speaks and it startles her for a moment, because she’d thought Maggie had fallen asleep.

“Danvers, do you ever feel like… you wish… life was different?” her voice is so pensive, Alex wonders what she’s thinking about, and she flicks a look to Maggie, whose head is back against the headrest as she looks at Alex. Her eyes are still a little hazy – intoxicated – but it’s such a serious, imploring question and Alex wishes she didn’t feel compelled to answer Maggie honestly.

Well, semi-honestly. Because inside, she wishes that life was different in that Maggie was in love with her, too. Or, she wishes she never kissed Maggie that night so that she didn’t have to know the definitive answer. She wishes her dad was alive. She wishes – a lot of things.

She nods slowly, “Yeah. Do you?” she can’t help but ask back.

Maggie shrugs and nods, “Yeah. Well, sometimes. No, yeah.” She shakes her head, looking confused at herself, and it breaks the seriousness of the moment because it’s all – perfect and Alex can’t stop her smile. But Maggie continues after thinking her next words over, “After everything with my parents,” Alex’s hands tighten on the wheel because she still can’t get over that.

“I realized… that happiness doesn’t only happen one way. Like, I thought I was gonna be part of their family forever and that was a future that made me happy. But then I, um, I learned to make myself happy with my aunt. I thought I was going to be happy with Kate, but that didn’t work out. And I came here and got happy. You know – you just think or hope you’re going to be happy one way, but then when it doesn’t work adjust.”

Her voice is low and a little raspy as she speaks, the words moving over her lips slowly, and Alex knows Maggie’s really drunk when she starts talking like this. She wonders if it says anything about her that she completely understands what Maggie’s saying.

She’d been happy with her life and seen it going a certain way before her parents had fostered and adopted Kara, but had found a different, even better happiness after her sister came along. She’d thought she’d had a life where her dad didn’t get hit by a drunk driver but then she’d been forced to adjust and make a new future, one where she wishes she still had him but she can be happy, still.

“I get it,” she says, still thinking, and she sighs for a moment as she gives Maggie another look. “Why’d you ask?”

Maggie’s looking out the window now, as she says, “I just – I try not to think about the first routes of happiness a lot. But sometimes, second routes are good and steady and you know you can make it work, but first ones are still… better. And it’s hard to let go of them even when you know – when you know it’s never going to happen.”

Alex’s ears ring with the words and her heart is pounding in her chest, and it hurts. Because she has her first route to happiness right here in the car with her but she hasn’t been able to figure out the second route. Her eyes sting with tears that she hadn’t foreseen from tonight, and she blinks them away as fast as she can.

Her voice is thick with the tears, though, rough, and she hopes Maggie is too drunk and too distracted by her own thoughts to hear them as her hands tighten on the wheel. “What – is there anything you want to talk about?”

Most of her thinks that Maggie’s talking about her parents, because – other than the first time – the few times Maggie will open up to her about them, she’s drunk like this. Drunk and contemplative Maggie shares her feelings, Alex knows. Or if she’s thinking about Kate in comparison to Emily; her first serious relationship to her current one.

Maggie’s quiet for long moments before Alex sees her snuggle into the seat and bite her lip. “Nah, Danvers,” she whispers, her words slurring a little, “’m just thinking dumb thoughts.”

It isn’t dumb, Alex almost says, but instead whispers, “Maggie, you’re happy, right? Like, everything with Emily?”

“Mm, happy.” Her tone is agreeable, albeit sleepy, “She’s good. Steady,” she slurs before her breath is evening out and getting deeper.

There’s a different heaviness inside of her right now because all she can think about, all she can wonder, is if she is ever going to find a second route when Maggie is her first and second. And every other.

Alex drives Maggie to her apartment, her hands tight on the wheel, unable to stop thinking. When she arrives, Emily’s waiting for them. They get Maggie out of the cab together, Maggie giving her a wide, dimpled, sleepy smile as Emily gives her a terse nod and a tense smile as she starts to bring Maggie inside.

She can still feel the place on her neck where Maggie had nuzzled.

She takes a cab home.

//

Alex drinks Jack Daniels and cries a little on the couch when she gets home, as she decides something needs to change.

Alex thinks about how pathetic she is – because she’s in love with her best friend who with someone else and she has no idea of how to get over it, get over her. No idea to get to a second route, when Maggie. And she’s a masochist, probably, because part of her – part of her doesn’t want to get over Maggie.

Kara comes out of her bedroom, rubbing tiredly at her eyes, asking excitedly about the concert, before she sees Alex. And immediately, she bounds over to the couch and wraps her arms around Alex – taking away the bottle – as she strokes her hands over Alex’s arms, her voice worried, “What is it?”

She doesn’t even have it in her to pretend she’s upset about anything else, “I can’t keep doing this.”

“Doing what?” Kara’s voice is soothing but Alex can hear the underlying current of panic, as her sister’s calming hands stroke her back now.

“I need – I need a change,” her words come out on a harsh whisper, brokenly admitting her failure. She’s not strong enough to be Maggie’s friend through all of this while her heart is being broken. She needs… something. Just, something different.

Alex resolves and makes a plan. She’ll sort herself out, figure herself out so that she can be the friend Maggie deserves. Able to be there for her without having these feelings in the way, without one part of her hoping that her relationship will fail and that she’ll want to be with Alex.

Maggie will always be a part of Alex’s happiness, she’s always going to be her first route, she thinks, but maybe she needs some distance to see the second route.

She lets Kara put her on the dating website her sister had been trying to get her to join for months and has four messages by the morning.

//

Alex drinks gin when she goes on her dates.

A gin and tonic is a good standard and she spends the next couple of months meeting women. She goes out with some of them once, some of them more than once. Kisses some, does more with others.

Nothing is ever anything special, though. Even though there are some girls she likes as people or is attracted to, there’s just no spark, not like she wants to find. She knows that kind of connection now – she’s felt that kind of connection – and she doesn’t know if she can really be satisfied with something lesser.

Lucy scoffs at her and calls her picky. Kara defends her and says that she shouldn’t settle for something or someone who doesn’t make her as happy as she can be. Overall, it’s a dissatisfying experience, this whole dating thing, and it leaves Alex feeling exasperated.

She goes to M’gann’s one night instead of going out to meet up with another one of her dates; she just needs a night off. And she sees Maggie there, sitting in her stool, with Alex’s typical unoccupied one right next to her.

There’s that feeling, that pull in her stomach, the spark she hasn’t felt with someone else. It’s automatic and it makes her actually happy, even if she’s been trying to move on.

Alex hasn’t spent as much time with Maggie in the last few weeks. She still sees her at game nights with the group and they still make sure to see one another usually every week if only for a little bit of time, because they’re Alex and Maggie and they have their thing, their friendship, and it’s important. It’s just that their time alone together has been fairly limited lately – a coffee or a working lunch, stuff like that.

Even if Alex is trying to find another way to be romantically happy, she knows that her friendship with Maggie can’t disappear. She can’t let it; Maggie is too important to her. She made a promise to Maggie that she’d always have her, years ago in this very bar after Colleen had broken up with her, and that promise was just as important to Alex as it was to Maggie.

She makes her way up to Maggie, who has been looking down at the bar in front of her where a case file is laid out, so she hadn’t seen Alex come in, and hops up onto the unoccupied stool next to Maggie – her stool – as she teasingly asks, “Anyone sitting here?” echoing Maggie’s first words to her.

She doesn’t think she’ll ever forget them.

Maggie’s eyes snap to her and Alex can see the way her expression shifts from focused on her file to happy, “Danvers!” and she gives her a big, dimpled smile that makes Alex feel like she’s home, before her expression turns a bit surprised, “What are you doing here?”

Alex’s eyebrows furrow in confusion as she shoots back, “Me? What are you doing here? No Emily?”

Because it’s a Saturday night, and Alex knows that either Maggie has plans on Saturday nights with Emily or with the group or she’s working or, on nights that are rarer most recently, she and Alex hang out together. Even more than that, between juggling making detective less than a year ago, having her girlfriend, and having their group of friends, Alex can’t remember the last time she’s seen Maggie in the bar just because.

Maggie shakes her head though, “No, no. My question first; what is Dr. Danvers doing slumming it in a place like this,” she jokes, “When you’ve been such a busy dating bee? Saturday nights are prime date nights,” Maggie reminds her in a mock-whisper.

Alex wonders if she’s imagining that something feels off in Maggie’s tone, but decides she isn’t; she knows Maggie too well to be imagining it. So she answers truthfully, and maybe a little exaggeratedly as she heaves a sigh because she wants to make Maggie smile, “This busy bee needs a night off.”

Maggie does smile and making Maggie smile feels like a victory. Her eyes sparkle at Alex as she teases, “Dating not all that easy, huh? Now you can reflect about all the times I was bringing my dates here and you know what I was going through.”

“I never said it was easy!” Alex shoots back, rolling her eyes and nudging Maggie’s shoulder with her own. She thinks about those days – the days where Maggie brought her dates to the bar and Alex would see them all – and how much simpler they were than this. But the last few years have also been the best for her, despite the fact that they’d gotten messy.

M’gann sees her and gives her a grin, “Well, well, if it isn’t my two favorite customers,” she jokes-but-not-really, because she gives Alex a genuine smile as she pours Alex a gin and tonic with a wink that makes Alex roll her eyes even as she thanks her.

The drink she has on her dates as she sits here with Maggie. Alex knows M’gann thinks she’s hilarious, really. Alex takes a sip of her date-drink as she turns to face Maggie, and it makes her feel that oh-so-familiar by now longing. Amidst all of these dates that don’t give her that feeling, it’s almost comforting.

Almost.

She regards her friend, though, and she knows something is wrong. It’s in the subtle set of Maggie’s jaw, in the slight storm behind her eyes. In the way that she’s in the bar on a Saturday night by herself, going over cases.

Her fingers, cool from having been wrapped around her glass as she sipped twitch slightly as she places them on Maggie’s forearm. Maggie’s wearing a henley that’s soft to Alex’s touch and makes Maggie look somehow both tough and soft – and, as always, heart-stutteringly gorgeous, but Alex isn’t thinking about that.

That spark that her dates lack zips through Alex’s hand at the contact, but she swallows and ignores that, too, as she says, “I answered you. So…” she trails off, expectantly.

And Maggie stares hard down at the file in front of her for a few moments, her jaw set, before she sighs deeply. She reaches for her drink – Alex knows it’s a rum and coke, because she knows that’s what Maggie would drink while she’s going over a case like this – before she says, “Emily’s at an interview. That gallery in New York from six months ago… I guess they really want her there, and – well, she went.”

Alex can tell that this is really digging at Maggie, and she takes a second to take it all in. The well, she went is Maggie-speak for revealing that they’d fought about Emily going, which means that this must have been going on for at least a few days, and had resulted in Maggie coming to spend time by herself in the bar.

And it makes Alex feel a little confused, “Why didn’t you ask me to come over? I could give you some better company than your old case files,” it’s teasing in it’s way, but also serious.

“You’ve been so busy lately, I didn’t know if you’d have time,” Maggie grumbles back, her voice rough and harsh.

It makes a feeling like a lead weight settle in Alex’s stomach; it was a response she hadn’t expected, and the unexpected tone shocks her.

Her mouth opens, but she can’t find the words to say.

She doesn’t know if she feels hurt – because any verbal slight from Maggie feels like it’s digging into her chest painfully – or if she feels guilty – had she been neglecting Maggie, making her feel like she wasn’t as much of her friend anymore? – or even angry – because she’s never given Maggie anything but her devoted attention, friendly or otherwise, and she doesn’t deserve that comment. It’s probably a mix of those things.

It seems Maggie can read her expression like a book, though, because quickly, the brunette’s grumpy face crumbles, and the hard line in dark eyes that had been there when she’d spoken disappears, regret shining all over.

“Alex, no. Wait. I’m – fuck, that was shitty. You’re going out and meeting people, and you deserve it, that was totally out of line. I guess… that’s a reason I didn’t message you,” she says, her voice regretful and pensive and sad, “That, and I don’t… I’m not really in the mood to talk about it yet. I’m sorry.”

And Alex thinks about the way Maggie had told her months ago about how Emily had stayed here in National City for her, and how much that had meant to her. Of course it had meant that much to her, because Maggie’s parents had left her and then her aunt had died and then Kate had broken up with her.

Maggie had never summed it up like this for her, would never, but Alex has put together all of the information she’s learned about Maggie over the years. Has put together all of the facts and experiences that Maggie’s been through that has made her into the incredibly strong, secretly vulnerable woman Alex knows her to be.

Emily hadn’t left and it had made Maggie feel as special as she deserves to feel. And now Emily’s apparently is considering leaving again, and it’s no surprise it affects Maggie the way it is. Alex is suddenly very irritated with her friend’s girlfriend and she huffs out a breath.

But Maggie said she didn’t want to talk about it. So Alex bites back her words – the angry ones about Emily and the comforting ones, where she can tell Maggie that she is every bit worth staying for, worth loving, worth everything – because she knows that respecting what Maggie asks for, like more time, is something that’s deeply important to her friend.

Instead, she squeezes Maggie’s arm again once, enjoying her warmth, before she says something she knows she’s allowed to say because it’s about her and it’s true, “I might be going out a lot, but I always have time for you.”

Maggie looks at her again, brown eyes shining despite the consternation still written all over her face, and her voice is soft as she checks, “Yeah?”

She allows herself a stroke of her thumb against Maggie’s arm before she makes herself take her hand away slowly, falling back to the bar, “Dates, apparently, come and go. But this? Is irreplaceable.”

Her voice is soft and sincere, and Maggie’s eyes lock on hers for a long moment. The walls in that dark gaze come down, and finally, Maggie cracks a smile, “You getting soft on me, Danvers?”

As if I haven’t been for years, “Pfft, no. If I was getting soft on you, would I challenge you to a game of pool where we both know I’m going to wipe the floor with you?”

Maggie accepts, and they play a game, and Alex has a better time playing pool with Maggie than she has in weeks on any of her dates. She’s winning easily – more easily than usual – though, and she’s taking it easy on Maggie. It’s how she knows that Maggie’s head isn’t in it.

Also because Maggie keeps throwing her considering, thoughtful looks, and Alex knows she’s gearing up to say something even before she does, “I thought… you said you weren’t even interested in dating.”

Maggie is leaning against her pool stick, appearing nonchalant, but also just so questioning. Genuinely confused and her shoulders a little tense. And she narrows her eyes slightly as she expands, “I just mean, well, I asked you before, remember? If you were wanting to date and you said no.”

She remembers, of course. They’d been playing pool in the same place and the question had felt like a weight on Alex’s shoulders and in her heart, and she’d lied.

“I guess, at the time, I wasn’t,” she settles on saying. It’s not that much of a lie, this time. She hadn’t wanted to date anyone at the time; she’d just wanted to be with Maggie.

She neglects, though, to mention that she’s really not even super interested in it now. She’s just trying to find that secondary route to happiness.  

//

She has bourbon the night of Kara’s promotion party and everyone is celebrating at M’gann’s.

It’s been a little less than a month since she was in here with Maggie that Saturday. It’s not the last time they’ve been here since then together, and they’ve built weekly bar nights back into their schedules.

Maybe she is still trying to get over Maggie, maybe it’s a long and slooow process that still feels impossible, and maybe she still feels this warmth of love that tinges with aches of longing; but she can’t regret their nights together.

Pool, a few drinks, amidst all of the craziness of the rest of life, with the woman who makes her feel things she’d always thought were lies or exaggerations made up by people who wanted to convince themselves that love was magical? Who is she to turn that down? It’s how she’d spend her twenty-eighth birthday a few weeks ago, and the night had been perfect.

She’s still going on dates, still has her account on that website, even if she isn’t going on so many anymore. Trying not to force it, but she’s still trying, and she thinks that counts.

The place is full of people who typically would not be coming to a bar like this – full of people who make M’gann look baffled as hell when they’d all come in earlier. A shit load of people from CatCo, really, as well as her old college friends. Even though it’s not Alex’s preferred group setting, she’s so proud of her sister for getting promoted to reporter, she wants everyone here to celebrate it.

She’s only on her second glass of bourbon – her limit for the night – because she has a lecture to give in the morning, when her phone rings. It’s J’onn and she thinks about how he’d been looking over some research samples when she’d left. But it’s too loud to hear in the bar, so she is pushing open the door to the alley in order to call him back when she hears the argument.

When she interrupts the argument, more accurately.

It’s Emily who she hears first, and she frowns because when did Emily even arrive? “– because we need to have the conversation, Maggie, and you fucking refuse to really talk about it!”

“What is there to talk about? You want the job, you want to go to New York,” Maggie tosses back, her voice low and pissed and hurt, and it makes Alex’s chest ache.

Because the last month has been rough for Maggie and she’s been stressed and upset and leaned on Alex a bit. Which Alex is happy to be here for, but she doesn’t want to have to be if it means something’s wrong in Maggie’s life.

“And I want you to come with me,” Emily all-but yells back, “I don’t want to leave you, I want you to come! But –”

And that is when the door Alex has pushed open seconds ago slams behind her, the sound jarring, and with it, everything freezes. The shocked look on Maggie’s face frozen in place, the air around all of them stilted.

Alex is wide-eyed and shocked and Emily asked Maggie to move to New York with her. The thought is running around and around and around in her head, and it’s all she can hear roaring in her ears.

She can barely wrap her mind around it, around what she heard in the last few seconds, and she can barely shake herself out of it enough to realize that now both Maggie and Emily have their attention on her. Maggie’s eyes are dark and looking dazed despite the answer and hurt that had been in them when Alex had first pushed open the door.

But Emily’s – Emily’s eyes look like they’re on fire. Burning bright and hot and angry.

Alex – okay, Alex can’t be here for this and she blindly grasps for the door handle behind her while her heart continues to pound in her chest. So hard it hurts. Her phone call is so going to have to wait, J’onn will understand.

She has to clear her throat. And no words come out still. Then she has to do it again, “I should probably…” she jerks her head back and has to clear her throat again, but it doesn’t get rid of any of the tightness there that is lodged from the fear of the thought of Maggie leaving.

Leaving National City. Leaving her.

It’s Emily whose eyes spark – and so far away from the good way that Maggie’s eyes sparkle – as she scoffs, her hands throwing into the air, as she all-but snarls out, “And of course, you’re here.”

Despite the way her heart is still thundering in her ears and the worry lodged low in her stomach, Alex feels her hackles rise at the accusing tone.

But before she can say anything, like about the fact that she didn’t do a damn thing and it’s not her who’s been making Maggie miserable for weeks now – really, Alex has been experiencing a lot of untapped irritation in the last month – Maggie all but growls out, “Don’t talk to her like that.”

The sound has a shiver that shoots down Alex’s spine and settles low in her stomach, because her friend’s tone is low and hot and protective. Apparently, Emily snapping at Alex had been the turning point that made Maggie snap back to the moment after Emily yelling at her about moving to New York.

But it’s what reminds Alex that this isn’t her place, this isn’t any sort of her argument to have, so her hand grasps the doorknob tightly and she steps back, “I’m just going to go back inside.”

She really needs to clear her mind. Really needs it.

Emily shakes her head, though, and seems to be choking on anger or hurt or something, as she first stares at Alex, eyes narrowed as she says, “No, stay. Why should you leave?” and her attention turns back to Maggie, her voice low now instead of the almost screams she was throwing when Alex stepped out into the alley. “Because it’s never only been the two of us in this relationship anyway, right?”

Maggie’s jaw sets and Alex is feet away but can see how hard Maggie’s teeth are grinding. And she can’t fully grasp exactly what Emily is getting at, but she knows that it’s nothing good for Maggie. And everything Alex is wants to defend her, words bubbling up about how Emily doesn’t understand just how much faith Maggie’s put in her and how she doesn’t appreciate what she has and –

Then Maggie releases a deep, shuddering breath that snaps all of Alex’s attention to her. Her shoulders slump slightly, defeated in a way Alex doesn’t understand right now, before Maggie’s gaze shifts to hers.

Her eyes are deep and dark, so dark, and brimming with emotion and Alex feels her heart in her throat at the sight even before Maggie says, “Alex, I… I’ll talk to you later.” She turns to Emily and says, “We should go.”

Emily’s lips purse in unspoken words but they’re both looking pretty wrecked at the moment, both still shaking from emotion. And when Maggie won’t meet her gaze anymore, Alex’s stomach sinks and she nods, not knowing what to say. So, she doesn’t say anything.

She slumps back against the door, watching Maggie and Emily walk away, but not really seeing anything. New York.

//

She has a glass of that Lagavulin 16 that Maggie had given her years ago, that she’d been saving for a big occasion, the next night even though it’s not any occasion at all.

Alex just needs some liquor, something good and aged, and this is here and reminds her of Maggie.  

It’s only been a day since the party, a day since she overheard that fight, a day since all she can hear are the words I want you to come with me burst from Emily. She wonders what happened after they left and doesn’t know if she can bring herself to really consider if they’d talked out their obviously overwhelming feelings and came to an agreement.  

Alex had spent all last night – barely sleeping – thinking about everything she heard, everything it could mean, everything she was feeling. And she felt almost numb once the possibilities all set in. Numb because, honestly, she thought it was just her body’s response because her heart just couldn’t do it anymore.

She’d been at work, still thinking about Maggie, about Maggie and Emily, about was she going to lose Maggie to New York? Her eyes had constantly flickered to her phone, hoping for Maggie to contact her, to follow up on her I’ll talk to you later.

There hadn’t been any message though and it made Alex even more on edge. Her fingers fidgeted by the afternoon as she’d tried to figure out what to ask, ultimately deciding on a simple:

Danvers – 2:45PM 
Hey… how’s everything? 

Maggie’s only response had been:

Sawyer – 4:03PM
It’ll be okay. Talk to you later?

Of course, Alex couldn’t argue with that. Clearly it had been a rough day, she couldn’t push Maggie on it. But.

What the hell did it’ll be okay even mean in a situation like this? Did it’ll be okay mean Emily wasn’t moving? Mean Maggie wanted to move with her? Did it mean they broke up but Maggie was doing okay?

She groans, burying her face in her hands.

Alex doesn’t know for sure what it all means, but she does know that the more she’s thinking about it, the more she’s fucking panicked. Because all she keeps thinking is that they resolved all of what was between them last night and that she’ll end up having to say goodbye to Maggie. That it’ll be okay means that Maggie’s going to New York and leaving Alex behind, constantly missing her, still in love with her.

Alex swirls the liquid in her glass, staring deeply into the whiskey, her eyebrows wrinkling together in thought as this feeling shifts inside of her. Shifting in her heart and her head and taking control.

Because she knows that she can’t be sitting here, thinking about how numb her heart will be when Maggie leaves. She knows that she can’t be sitting here, thinking about what she’ll drink at Maggie’s wedding one day, knowing she’s never really told Maggie how she feels.

Knowing that she gave her that one kiss and had that one moment and that was it. She knows that she can’t let Maggie leave without laying it all out in the open.

She can’t let Maggie go without telling her everything and letting her know that Alex is here – Alex has been here the whole time. And maybe, she takes a deep breath, that settles in the pit of her stomach like a lead weight. Maybe she can only move on if Maggie knows everything.

Maybe the only real way for her heart not to be so full of love for Maggie is if she lays it all on the line once and for all. Maybe she needs Maggie to know, to acknowledge how much Alex loves her, in order to be able to get a good night’s sleep again after this.

Maybe Alex knows she won’t be able to live with herself if Maggie moves across the country without knowing that Alex loves her, that she loves her so much and has for so long that it’s just a part of who she is now. That it’s as natural as breathing, as ingrained in her as being Kara’s big sister, as instinctive as being a scientist.

She finishes the glass she has of whiskey and just as she stands up and gathers all of her courage, the apartment door opens. Kara comes in, her face beaming in an excited smile, “I’m assigned to a story! I –”

Her sister takes one look at her and freezes, big blue eyes filling with concern, “Alex, what is it?”

Alex looks down at herself, smoothing her hands over her button down that’s tucked into her jeans, and she tightens her hands into fists as if that’s going to do anything to make her feel like she’s not going to have a heart attack, as she tells her sister, “I’m – I’m going to tell Maggie.”

The entire ride to Maggie’s is a blur, with Alex’s head reeling, and Kara’s words of excitement and encouragement sounding in her ears. She can do this. She has to do this. It’s now or never and Alex has tried to do never.

Never didn’t work. Never didn’t made this love she had fade in the least, only made it stronger. Which means that it has to be now.

Her fist shakes a little when she knocks on Maggie’s door, and when she brings it back down to her side, she presses both of her palms against herself. Her palms are sweating and Alex doesn’t know the last time that happened to her, and she feels lightheaded. She vaguely wonders if her head is getting enough blood with the way her heart is pumping.

She doesn’t know the last time her heart was pounding this heart, either, because she feels like it’s going to send her into cardiac arrest. The idea of spilling out everything to Maggie, all that she’s felt for years and the sheer intensity of it, is terrifying and exhilarating and she knows she shouldn’t have this little glimmer of hope inside, but she does.

It’s stupid, so stupid, and she has no idea what this is going to do –

Maggie opens the door and it’s only been a day since they saw each other, but Alex swears Maggie is more beautiful every time she sees her. Even when she has her hair up in a messy bun, when her eyes are tired; the world looks like it’s thrown everything at Maggie Sawyer that she could possibly take, Maggie handles it because she’s strong and she has to, but Alex wants desperately to be there to help her not handle it alone.

“Danvers?” Maggie’s eyebrows crinkle in question as she looks up at her. The adorably confused look makes Alex’s lips twitch into a nervous smile. Then Maggie she shaking her head lightly, biting at her lip, “It’s not really a good t –”

“I wasn’t drunk,” is what leaves her mouth, breathlessly under the weight of everything she feels, and she doesn’t know exactly what she’s getting at – because she’d planned a hundred things to say on the way over, gearing herself up. But that’s what comes out and it’s followed by a whole rush of things that she hadn’t planned but they’re all true.

The confused, questioning look on Maggie’s face only grows, the wrinkle in her forehead getting deeper as she tilts her head.

“I wasn’t drunk that night, the night I kissed you. I wasn’t drunk and I wasn’t trying to tell you that I’m gay. Well, I was, I guess, but I was trying to tell you that I liked you. Not girls in general,” her fingers twist in the ends of her sleeves and she pulls, bouncing back on her heels as she tries to draw in a deep breath.

She can’t imagine that she could ever say these words to Maggie but now that it’s happening, she can’t stop them.

Shaking her head, she frowns at herself, “And, no, not liked; loved. Love. I love you, Maggie Sawyer. I love you because you’re my best friend and you can make everything better just by being there and you know just what I need after a long day. But – I’m in love with you, because you’re the first thing I think about in the morning and the last before I go to sleep and you’re my route to happiness. All of my routes to happiness lead to you, because I haven’t found anyone else that can even come close.”

Maggie’s dark eyes are so, so wide and shocked and she’s tilting her head back to look at Alex. And Alex thinks her eyes are warm as she searches them with her own, but mostly she sees surprise, “Alex…”

But she shakes her head because there are more words, “And I don’t want you to move to New York, because I’m – I just love you so much, but I’m in love with you so much that if you want to go, I can be happy for you because I want you to be happy. I need you to know that. That you have me here, and I know you’ve spent your whole life wanting – deserving – someone to love you for everything you are and maybe Emily does, but I know I do. I’ve stayed through having my heart broken and watching you love someone else because being your best friend is worth it; loving you is worth it. And I’ll still be here if you don’t love me back, but I can’t… I need you to know.”

Finally, she stops, and her chest is heaving and she doesn’t know when her eyes started dripping with the tears she’s held back for so, so long, but they are. She can feel them on her face even as she manages to smile, tremulously, nervously.

Because please, go against the odds and love me back is all she can think about aside from – god – how do Maggie’s eyes manage to be so deep?

It feels good in a way she hadn’t been able to fathom to have the words out of her for the first time, but also terrifying because now they’re hanging between them. And Maggie’s eyes are teary, too, as she’s swallowing hard and Alex knows that Maggie is searching for the words to say because she knows Maggie.

But none are coming.

And the longer Maggie stays, standing there, looking at her with the look that Alex cannot decipher, the more her smile slips off her face.

Until finally, the words break from her lips, “Say – say something.”

Then she hears the small sound deeper into the apartment and for the first time since she arrived at Maggie’s, her vision isn’t tunneled in on the woman in question.

When she looks up, she sees Emily across the living room. There’s a box at her feet and an expression on her face that’s somewhat vindicated and angry and she’s shaking her head and Alex thinks she’s saying something, but she can’t hear it over the sound of her blood rushing in her ears.

God. Oh, god. Fuck.

Emily is here, Emily heard all of that, and she has a box. And then everything feels like it’s falling in on her, because she knew that Maggie not reciprocating her feelings was a huge possibility, the most likely outcome. But Maggie isn’t saying anything at all, and it still just staring at her with those big, soft eyes.

What did she just do?

Alex can’t – she can’t handle this. She was an idiot; why would this have made her feel better? Why in the world would she do this? Why would she think this is a solution to anything? Why did she think this would be better than a lifetime of silently loving Maggie?

And why isn’t Maggie saying anything?

She knows scientifically that heartbreak isn’t physical, that it’s a state of mental and emotional pain, but Alex really thinks she can feel her heart moving into pieces, the longer they all stand there in silence.

What is she expecting, anyway? Maggie’s girlfriend is standing right there and she knows Maggie would never want to hurt her. She knows Maggie would never intentionally hurt her, and maybe that’s why she’s silent.

Because what is she supposed to say to her best friend showing up out of the blue and confessing her love to her, while her girlfriend is right there, right after they’ve been making decisions about moving across the country together?

She’s done it now, laid everything out on the line, and she wishes her heart was still feeling numb like it was earlier. Because this? This is the worst feeling. It feels like she might have done something so dumb, that she might have altered what’s between her and Maggie forever. That she has ruined their friendship, the most perfect friendship Alex has ever had.

And that’s the last thing she wants, but she can’t do anything about it now. Because clearly she already fucked it up. The regret and crushing guilt and sadness come rushing in, choking her.

“I just – I wanted you to know that,” she whispers, her voice as steady as she can make it, before she turns to leave because she has to leave.

Alex knows a lot of things. She knows chemical equations and all of the constellations in the sky. She’s known Maggie for almost four years, she knows Maggie almost as much as she knows herself. But now everything has been spoken and Alex hasn’t thought this far, she’s had no idea what she was even expecting of hypothesizing to happen next.

Alex doesn’t know what to do or even what she should do, and she does the best thing she can think of.

She turns and leaves, despite hearing Maggie call out, “Alex!” behind her.

“I’ll – talk later,” she manages to get out, barely, over her shoulder, as she strides so quickly she nearly falls over her own feet because the tears forming in her eyes are so heavy they’re blinding her.

//

Alex is stone cold sober when she arrives home hours later.

Her hands are numb from holding too tight onto the handles on her motorcycle as she’d driven around the city for hours, unsure of what to do. Because Maggie has been her constant and her love for Maggie has been a constant, and now –

Anyway.

She is exhausted – mentally, physically, and emotionally – and she closes the door quietly, tiredly. It’s late and she doesn’t want to wake Kara up. Kara, whose texts and calls she’s ignored after sending a quick message to tell her sister that it didn’t work out and she needed some time.

The door snaps shut behind her and then the living room lamp clicks on, startling her. She’s rubbing at her eyes as she starts, “Kara, you shouldn’t have waited u –”

Before her words stumble and then her mouth snaps shut because it’s not her sister, but Maggie. Maggie sitting on her chair, still wearing the sweater she’d been wearing earlier. It had escaped Alex’s attention at the time that it was her sweater, one that Maggie had “borrowed” over a year ago and hadn’t given back.

Which Alex had noticed, but… it made her feel a lot of things, thinking about Maggie in her clothes. Happiness, arousal, love.

It still does.

Her heart thuds in her chest, full and still aching, but as always, glad to see Maggie. Like Maggie kickstarts something inside of her, something so good it overrides the bad. This time it’s not overriding the bad, necessarily, but mixing in with the guilt and mortification and misery that’s been swirling through her.

“Maggie,” leavers her on a whisper, before she clears her throat, which feels scratchy and raw still, “What are you doing here?”

Maggie’s dark gaze is on her, and it takes Alex a moment to realize that it’s angry, “Where were you?”

But Maggie is… here. Maggie is waiting for her in her apartment after Alex had confessed her love for her, in front of her girlfriend. After Maggie hadn’t said anything.

Her heart was strangely beating normally though. Her heart wasn’t pounding anymore, but her throat was tight and uncomfortable as she stares at Maggie, “I – went for a ride,” she says, lamely. But she doesn’t know – “What are you doing here?” she asks again.

Maggie ignores her, “You come to my apartment and say all of that and then leave and disappear for hours? Not even Kara knew where you were,” and the angry tone was fading enough that Alex could hear the worry.

But she just… she can’t stop staring at Maggie and feeling this tightness in her chest. She can see the slight puffiness under Maggie’s eyes and she knows that she caused it, and despite the fact that her heart was broken tonight, she can’t – she can’t handle knowing that she caused that sadness in Maggie.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers, not for going out and not coming home, but for – for the damage she is worried she’s caused between them. “I’m sorry if I… I didn’t want to cause any problems for you. Or, between you and Emily. I just,” she breaks off, biting at her cheek, not sure of what to say or how to explain any more of how she feels when she’s already said it all.

“Alex,” Maggie says and her voice is that soft tone. The one that usually makes Alex stomach warm and turn into butterflies, but right now she just feels like it’s going to break her apart, “Emily and I aren’t together anymore. When you came by earlier, she was packing up the stuff she had at my place.”

For a second, Alex doesn’t process the words and when she does, she blinks at Maggie from where she stands and the world pauses, “What? Because of earlier? Because of me?”

God. Tonight has already been so exhausting, and Alex falls back against the apartment door because her legs feel too weak.

Maggie watches her from across the room, and in the shadows cast in the muted lamp light, Alex can’t see the look in Maggie’s eyes. She can’t tell what she’s thinking or feeling, and Alex feels so wrung out that she doesn’t know if she feels guilty or hopeful or sad.

“Because of me,” Maggie corrects, “Because last night when we left M’gann’s, Emily accused me of cheating on her,” Alex already has a scoff on her lips that dies when Maggie pushes herself up from the chair and says, “And she was right.”

Confused – so confused – Alex sags back against the door, “What?” because she just – she has no idea about when Maggie could have… or why she would have or –

“I didn’t have sex with anyone else,” Maggie’s hands are in front of her and fidgeting, that nervous fidget Maggie gets so rarely, and Alex’s eyes are locked on her hands. She feels like the world has spun to a stop and she can’t bring herself to look at Maggie’s face while her breath hitches, “But emotionally, yeah. Because I’ve been in love with someone else for… the whole time. Someone I could never leave. ”

Alex’s stomach churns violently, flip-flopping and her hands start to shake when Maggie’s words ring between them. That hopeful feeling, this one she’s tried so hard for years to not feel, is ballooning inside of her, so big and so fast, she feels like it’s stealing all of her oxygen.

And when she manages to drag her gaze from Maggie’s hands to her face, she takes it all in. The small smile, riddled with nerves, but dimples showing still, the dark eyes sparkling up at her. Maggie is close to her, so close now that Alex could reach out and touch her, but she doesn’t dare do it yet.

Not until she knows. Hope isn’t enough; this much hope could break her completely. She needs to know for sure.

“You were?” she tries to make her voice steady, but it leaves her breathless.

“I am,” Maggie amends, her voice gentle. Loving. As she reaches out and touches Alex’s hand, and Alex can feel how Maggie’s is trembling slightly as it squeezes and then holds, not letting go.

Her heart is in her throat and her hand turns under Maggie’s to intertwine their fingers and they fit so perfectly, they always have. Her grip is tight, tighter than maybe she should have, but she can’t stop.

Maggie doesn’t seem to mind, though, her hand tightening too and holding onto Alex’s hard, anchoring her, as she steps even closer. She’s close enough that, with Alex leaning against the door like this, their eyes are level and only a few inches apart. Her eyes are shining now and Alex swears she can see everything in them.

Her heart, her future – all in that dark gaze that’s smiling at her, hypnotizing her.

And then Maggie closes the distance between them and it’s everything Alex has wanted for what feels like forever. God, Maggie’s lips are so soft. Softer than she remembers from their first, brief kiss years ago.

Soft and warm and Maggie is so close and Alex’s whole body feels like it’s buzzing. The reality of it all crashes over her, and it’s so much.

Her hand comes up and grips at Maggie’s shoulder, holding her right where she is as Alex tips her head back enough that their lips are still grazing each others. Her voice is shaking, pleading, as she says, “Say it. Please, tell me –”

She doesn’t want to not be kissing Maggie, but she needs to hear it. Needs to hear –

“I love you, Alex Danvers,” Maggie’s voice doesn’t shake. In fact, it’s strong and honest and her hand moves to Alex’s hip, squeezing her as she tilts her head a bit so she can look into Alex’s eyes. “I’m so in love with you.”

The heat from Maggie’s hand even over her shirt on her hip and the way her other hand is holding Alex’s like she never wants to let her go and the sheer emotion of it all washes over Alex heavily. Gives her a new energy, unlike anything she’s ever felt, and she surges forward again.

Her mouth is on Maggie’s now, and unlike their two previous kisses they’ve shared, this one is heavy and hot and she swipes her tongue over Maggie’s lip immediately before delving in. Stroking along Maggie’s and swallowing the groan that leaves Maggie’s throat that shoots right through Alex’s body, sending heat pulsing through her.

And Maggie’s pressing closer, her body pressing right against Alex’s, so close, no space between them. Her body sings at the contact and trembles just a bit as Maggie’s chest pushes into hers and her hips back Alex’s into the door, her mouth just as hungry as Alex’s now.

Maggie is sucking at her lips and nipping before she pushes back in with a sigh. Her hand comes up to Alex’s hair and tangles there, her kisses becoming slow and deep and Alex has never felt better in her entire life.

She almost wants to cry but she’s already done that so much tonight and she is so – happy.

“It was me,” the words get mumbled into Maggie’s mouth she grips the back of Maggie’s shirt hard because she doesn’t want this to end, can’t let Maggie go.

But Maggie is pulling back, pulling a little bit away from her even when Alex whimpers because she doesn’t want there to be any space. Maggie’s flushed and a little breathless and the sight makes Alex’s legs absolutely weak with want, as her voice, low and raspy, asks, “What? What’s you?”

She thinks back to the night of the concert and says, “The first route of happiness. It was me you were talking about,” the words come out in a wonder, the realization striking her hard.

Maggie’s smile is big and deeply dimpled and she’s pushing back into Alex as her fingers gently stroke Alex’s hair, “It was you. Always you.”

Their mouth come together again and Alex could spend forever kissing Maggie, she’s sure of it. She doesn’t think this feeling, with Maggie’s mouth warm and wet and soft and coaxing and skillful against hers, will ever fail to send sparks through her entire body.

She has no idea how much time goes by with Maggie’s body pressing her into the door, before Maggie’s mouth is on her neck. Sucking and kissing and making Alex shudder so hard, her hands tightening in Maggie’s hair.

Her mind is hazy but she eventually realizes Maggie’s mouthing words against her skin, “So long. I’ve wanted this for so long.”

“I bet I wanted it longer,” the words leave her, throaty and husky, and she barely recognizes her own voice as her head is tipped back against the door.

Maggie chuckles against her skin and the feeling makes her thighs quake as Maggie presses her hips tighter against her, “Doubt it.”

“Try me,” she challenges, her eyes glinting as Maggie – regretfully – stops her work on Alex’s throat. It makes her groan because she doesn’t want Maggie’s mouth off of her; she’s spent too long without experiencing it.

But Maggie’s hands, which at some point slipped under her shirt, stroke up her sides, making Alex whimper, as Maggie informs her softly, “The first night I saw you, Danvers. The first night.”

Surprise cuts through her and Alex shakes her head, a disbelieving scoff working out of her throat, “Pfft. No. The first night –”

“You were sitting at the bar, in your seat. You were drinking brandy, you had your research notes open. It was before you cut your hair,” Maggie’s voice is a little distant, her eyes glimmering like she’s picturing that night, as she lightly traces her fingers over the ends of Alex’s hair. The hair that she’s had cut to her chin for years now, and she knows that she cut it the week after she’d first seen Maggie, way before they’d even met.

And Alex is floored, “You… remember that.”

Maggie continues, her fingertips stroking down Alex’s neck and leaving shivers in their wake, “You were gorgeous and sexy and I looked for you every time I came in, no matter what. Then, well, I learned you were a genius who drove a bike, and I was gone over you.”

Her voice is reverent and so is the look in her eyes now, as she gazes up at Alex. And Alex is baffled and amazed and she can’t help but pull Maggie back into her, right against her, kissing her again so deeply. Because she can.

They don’t have sex that night, despite how much Alex wants to. Maggie does stay the night in Alex’s bed, though, and it’s not the first time they’ve spent the night together. But it is the first time Alex gets to wake up with her in the morning.

She never wants to let her go and for the first time, she realizes, with a smile as Maggie cuddles in closer to her, she realizes that she doesn’t have to.

//

They drink champagne at their wedding.