Alex Danvers is in love with Maggie Sawyer.
She is completely, head-over-heels in love with her, and she has been for months. Probably has been since the first day they met, if she’s being honest. Which...she isn’t. Not out loud, anyway.
Maggie is her closest friend, and she doesn’t want to jeopardize that friendship, even if it means pining over her in secret. There had been a time where she’d thought about telling Maggie how she feels, but after an offhand comment about avoiding relationships with women who are “fresh off the boat,” Alex had shoved all of those thoughts down as far as she could.
Tonight, she watches her from across the table at the bar, head tilted back as she takes a swig of her beer. The dim, yellowish light hanging above the booth illuminates her profile, and somehow she still looks incredible. Alex will never cease to be amazed by Maggie’s ability to look so good at all times.
(At the beginning of their friendship, when Alex was still insisting she was straight, she had chalked up her feelings about her friend’s appearance to simple jealousy. Now, she’s able to admit to herself that what she’s been feeling all this time is attraction.)
Maggie continues on with the story she’s telling, gesticulating with the beer bottle still in her hand. She always talks with her hands—“I’m Italian, Danvers, what do you expect?”—and Alex can’t help but find it endearing.
(It’s honestly embarrassing how much of a goner she is for this woman.)
Eventually Maggie finishes her story and leans back against the booth, bringing the bottle up to her lips once more. Alex tries not to think about the fact that she would kill to be a beer bottle right now.
“So,” Maggie says after a moment, and Alex can sense a slight shift in her tone.
“Yeah?” she prompts, leaning forward on her elbows.
“Pride is coming up soon.”
“Oh! Yeah, the parade is next weekend, right?”
Maggie nods, a slight smile pulling at her lips. “Yeah. And I was thinking...if you wanted to go, I’d be happy to go with you. You know, show you the ropes,” she adds with a teasing smirk, a glimmer in her eye.
Alex blinks. “You, uh, you’d really go with me? I just, I figured you’d have other plans already.”
With people who didn’t take nearly thirty years to realize they were gay, she doesn’t add. Maggie has been so kind and supportive as Alex has been stumbling her way out of the closet, but she doesn’t want her to feel obligated to take her to her first pride parade. (Although Alex can’t think of anyone else she’d rather have at her side while she’s experiencing it all for the first time.)
“Of course I wanna go with you, Danvers. Are you kidding? I wanna see the look on your face when you see Dykes on Bikes for the first time.”
Alex huffs out a laugh. “Considering the fact that I see you so often, I’d hardly call it the first time.”
“Look who’s talking!”
Maggie is grinning broadly at her, those goddamn dimples making an appearance. Her eyes are shining with laughter, and her smile is wide enough that her “pointy little vampire teeth,” as Alex calls them, are showing. She looks so carefree and so beautiful and Alex is so in love with her. Fuck.
“But seriously, Danvers. I told you I’m here for you and I meant it. I’d love to go with you.” Maggie’s voice is gentler now, her eyes soft and sincere, and Alex’s heart swells.
“Okay,” she tells her with a nod and a smile. “That would be great.”
“Alright, it’s a date.”
Alex’s smile remains frozen on her face, but her entire body is buzzing and her brain has definitely stopped working after hearing the word date slip past Maggie’s lips.
What the fuck has she gotten herself into?
For the next week, Alex does what she does best. She panics.
She doesn’t do very well in situations where she doesn’t know what to expect, and she has absolutely no idea what to expect at a pride parade. Several times—more than she would care to admit—she picks up her phone and types out a message to Maggie, her thumb hovering over the send button until she eventually selects the whole thing and presses delete. She wants to ask questions, but she doesn’t want to embarrass herself.
After a few days, she cracks and calls her sister. Kara is at her balcony window in seconds.
“Alex, what’s wrong?” she asks as she makes her way inside the apartment.
Alex slumps against the couch cushions and blows out a breath, her cheeks puffing out with the force of it. “It’s just, um…”
Kara sits down next to her on the couch, grabbing two throw pillows and handing one to Alex. Alex accepts the pillow gratefully, hugging it to her chest and letting her cheek rest against the soft material.
“What is it?” Kara prompts again, gently. “Is it...is it Maggie?”
“No. I mean, yes. Kind of.” She sighs. “Mostly.”
Kara nods encouragingly, a knowing smile on her face. “What happened?”
Alex squeezes the pillow tighter against herself, wishing for a moment that she could sink into the cushions beneath her and disappear. “So, um. The pride parade is this weekend.”
“Oh, that’s right! Do you want to go? Do you want me to go with you?”
“No, um, I...Maggie offered to go with me.”
Kara leans forward, eyebrows raised. “Oh?”
“Not—I mean, just as friends, you know.”
“I mean, she did say, ‘It’s a date,’ but she didn’t mean it, you know, like that. It’s just a thing that people say, right? But now I keep thinking about how maybe she’d want to go with a date, or at least she probably wants to meet someone there, and what if I completely ruin her day because she has to spend all her time babysitting a twenty-nine-year-old who’s never been to a fucking pride parade before?”
Kara opens her mouth to respond, but Alex keeps going.
“And then it’s like, I have all these questions I want to ask her about the parade and how it all works, but I don’t want her to think I’m a complete idiot. And I don’t want to remind her how ‘fresh off the boat’ I am, or whatever. And it’s just...I feel like, like I’m...bad at being gay or something.”
“Is that...a thing?”
Alex sighs. “No, probably not,” she admits. “It just feels like...everyone else has known they were gay for so much longer than I have, and there’s all this culture and history that everybody already knows, and I feel so behind. But I don’t want to tell Maggie about any of that.”
“Because you have a giant crush on her and you want her to think you’re cool.”
“I…” Alex can’t even think of a good argument against that. “Yeah.”
“Okay,” Kara says simply, leaning forward to grab Alex’s laptop from the coffee table. “Let’s do some research.”
By the time the day of the parade rolls around, Alex is fully equipped with an arsenal of supplies. Two bottles of water, sunscreen, a snack, a pair of sunglasses, another snack (added at Kara’s insistence) and a small rainbow flag, all stuffed into a backpack.
She stands in front of the full length mirror in her bedroom, her brow scrunched as she narrows her eyes at her reflection.
She feels a little ridiculous. The bright colors are a stark contrast to the dark, muted tones she dresses herself in every day, and this particular ensemble reveals quite a bit more skin than her usual leather jacket and jeans. She hasn’t worn anything this revealing since her clubbing days.
She smiles a little at the thought. She’s come so far since then, since the skintight dresses and the alcohol and the meaningless encounters with men whose names she hadn’t bothered to learn. The last time she had gone out with this much skin exposed, it had been a calculated effort to get men to notice her, just to prove that she could. But today, she’s an out lesbian, she’s about to go to her first ever pride parade, and the only person she wants to notice her is a five foot detective who makes her feel more than she’s ever felt for anyone in her life.
Not that she’s ready to tell her that, but still. Progress.
A knock at the door startles her out of her thoughts.
She adjusts the thin straps of her rainbow-striped top once more before nodding resolutely at her reflection. You can do this, Danvers.
With one last deep breath, she strides across her apartment, unlocks the door, and pulls it open.
“Hey, Danvers,” Maggie greets with her signature dimpled smile, and all the air rushes out of Alex’s lungs at the sight of her.
She’s wearing a rainbow tie-dye t-shirt with the sleeves cut off and a pair of denim shorts, and the amount of smooth, tan skin on display makes Alex’s brain short circuit. When she manages to drag her eyes back up to Maggie’s face, she notices the stripes of rainbow glitter painted across her cheeks. She looks so hot and so adorable at the same time. It’s not fair.
“I, uh, hey, Maggie. Come on in.”
Alex can feel how warm her cheeks have gotten and she hopes Maggie doesn’t notice as she makes her way inside. When she turns around, Maggie’s eyes are already on her.
“Looking good, Danvers,” Maggie says with an appreciative nod. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in so much color before.”
Alex folds her arms over her torso, the flush on her cheeks deepening even further. “Is it too much? Kara made me buy this shirt.”
“No, no!” Maggie’s hands fly up as she rushes to reassure her. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have teased. You look great, Alex. I mean it.”
Somehow, Maggie’s gentle reassurance makes her even more embarrassed, and her head is swimming with all the ways she’s managed to fuck up before they’ve even left her apartment.
“Uh, you too,” she finally manages. “You look very, you know...sparkly.” She gestures vaguely in the direction of Maggie’s face.
Maggie smiles, warm and affectionate, and Alex wonders how she’s supposed to survive the rest of the day if just the last few minutes have been enough to make her brain melt.
“Thank you,” Maggie says, amusement seeping into her voice. “Hey, I’ve got some extra glitter if you want some too,” she adds, patting at the front pouch of her backpack. “I can help you put it on if you want.”
And because Alex’s brain has melted, and her entire nervous system is overloaded, and Maggie is standing there with her perfect hair and perfect arms and her stupid perfect dimples, Alex does the dumbest thing possible: she says yes.
Which is how she finds herself perched on her bathroom counter with Maggie standing between her legs, carefully applying the glitter to her cheeks with her fingers. Alex tries her best to focus on keeping her breathing even and steady with each gentle pass of Maggie’s fingers over her flushed skin. But Maggie’s face is inches from her own, and she’s touching her , so breathing in general is a struggle.
With each stripe of glitter, she tries to distract herself by remembering her crash course gay study session from earlier in the week. Red is for life. Orange is for healing. Yellow is for sunlight. Green is for nature. Blue...
Maggie had worn a blue shirt the other week, and the color had looked so beautiful against her skin. She had the sleeves rolled up, like she always did, and Alex’s eyes had been drawn down her slender forearm, to the glint of her watch, to her hands, strong and confident. Now, those same hands are brushing over her face so tenderly, each stroke as deliberate and precise as an artist painting a masterpiece. Alex has given up on breathing.
When Maggie finally finishes, she pulls back to examine her work, and Alex is both relieved and dismayed at the distance between their bodies.
“Alright, Danvers,” Maggie says with a satisfied grin. “I think it’s official. Now you’re ready for your first pride.”
Alex bites her lip in a vain attempt to keep the huge, dorky smile from spreading across her face. She hops down off the sink and turns to look at herself in the mirror, admiring Maggie’s handiwork.
“Yeah,” she says, pulling her shoulders back and standing a little taller. “Yeah, I am.”
Alex can feel her excitement building as she and Maggie make their way down the sidewalk. The closer they get to the parade route, the more people she sees decked out in rainbows and glitter. Some of them even wave at her, and she’s sure she looks like a complete idiot beaming back at them, but she can’t help it.
By the time they get to Main Street, her nerves have calmed considerably, overpowered by her eagerness to see the parade and an unexpected sense of relief at being surrounded by so many people draped in multicolored flags and dripping with beads and sequins. Everyone looks so happy, and so free.
The realization that this is her community slams into her so hard she finds herself choking back tears. She really hopes Maggie doesn’t notice as she brings one hand up to subtly wipe her eyes.
But she’s Maggie, so of course she notices.
“Hey,” she says, as softly as she can amid the noise of the bustling crowd. “You okay?”
Alex gives her a watery smile, nodding fervently. “Yeah. Yeah. It’s just...it’s...wow, you know?”
It’s probably the least eloquent thing she’s ever said, and she’s definitely not doing a great job of acting like she isn’t fresh off the boat, but Maggie is looking up at her with so much warmth and understanding that Alex doesn’t care how stupid she sounds.
“Yeah,” Maggie agrees, her eyes sparkling, not an ounce of judgement in her voice. “It’s amazing, right?”
Alex doesn’t trust herself to speak without her voice cracking, so she just nods as hard as she can.
“Come on, let’s make sure we can get a good spot,” Maggie says before reaching out and grabbing onto Alex’s hand.
Alex, too startled to react, follows obediently as Maggie drags her through the growing crowd. The feeling of Maggie’s hand against her own grounds her, her spinning thoughts shifting back into focus.
When they make it to the barrier that separates the parade goers from the street, Maggie lets Alex’s hand slip out of her grasp, and Alex misses the feeling immediately.
She turns to look at her, and is surprised when she’s met with a sheepish smile. “Sorry for manhandling you,” Maggie tells her, and Alex has to shove down all thoughts of other ways she’d like Maggie to handle her. “I just didn’t want to lose you. You know, in the crowd.”
“Wouldn’t want to lose you either, Sawyer, I need my pride guide.”
“Is that my official title?” Maggie asks, her bashful expression relaxing into a bemused grin.
Alex nods, fighting to keep her face serious. “I think it has to be, now.”
Maggie nods back, trying to bite back her smile. “Alright, I’ll take it.” She opens her mouth like she wants to say something else, hesitates for a second, then adds, “I’m honored to be your pride guide.” She says it like it’s a joke, but there’s something genuine in her eyes.
Alex doesn’t know what to make of it, but she knows it makes her heart beat a little faster in her chest.
The parade is one of the most incredible things Alex has ever experienced.
Everything is so bright and colorful and jubilant. There are huge, elaborate floats and glamorous drag queens and people walking dogs with little rainbow bandanas around their necks. There’s music and dancing and laughter, and a truly astounding number of men with perfectly sculpted bodies and very tiny underwear.
People are throwing beads from their floats and handing out stickers and lollipops and condoms. At one point, someone hands Maggie a handful of condoms and she stuffs them into her backpack. Alex wonders what she could possibly use condoms for, but she doesn’t want to ask.
Every so often, she can feel Maggie’s eyes on her, and she figures she’s checking to make sure Alex isn’t too overwhelmed. The next time she spots Maggie glancing up at her in her peripheral vision, she turns to face her.
“I’m okay, Sawyer,” she promises. “I can see you checking on me, and I appreciate it, but I’m okay, really.”
Maggie looks startled, and a little sheepish at being caught. “Oh, I—no, sorry, it’s not that. I just...you look so happy, Danvers, I wanted to see the look on your face while you’re seeing all this for the first time.”
“Oh.” Alex can feel her cheeks turning red, and her ears are burning, though that could honestly just be from the sun. “Sorry…”
She’s interrupted by a sound she instantly recognizes as the rumble of motorcycle engines—a lot of motorcycle engines.
Maggie’s face lights up immediately and she clutches at Alex’s bicep, bouncing a little on her toes in her excitement. “Yes!” she exclaims, and Alex can’t help but smile affectionately. Maggie’s enthusiasm is bordering on dorky, yet somehow she is still incredibly hot. (Alex should really stop being surprised at this point.)
Soon, dozens and dozens of women on motorcycles are riding up, rainbow flags billowing behind them, and Alex’s mouth drops open. Every bike has one woman driving and another woman sitting on the back—many of whom are topless, or at least as close to topless as you can legally be in public.
She entertains a brief fantasy of riding her own bike with Maggie on the back, but the subsequent thought of Maggie topless makes her choke on nothing.
By the time all the motorcycles have passed, Alex’s throat feels raw from cheering and screaming. She turns to look at Maggie, and Maggie’s already looking at her.
“So, how was your first time seeing Dykes on Bikes?” she asks, already smiling in anticipation of Alex’s response.
“Fucking amazing,” is the only thing Alex can think to say, eyes bright and cheeks pink with exhilaration.
Maggie laughs, and the sound stirs the butterflies in Alex’s stomach. “Glad to hear it.”
“I don’t…” Alex pauses for a second, hesitating. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many lesbians before.”
Maggie nods. “And?”
“It’s fucking amazing,” Alex repeats, and Maggie grins at her, dimples deep as ever.
For the rest of the parade, Alex whoops and cheers even louder than before, the giddy feeling bubbling up in her chest just begging to be released.
She waves back at every single person who waves in her direction as they walk by. She sticks her hand out across the railing for high-fives as people in rainbow tutus and feather boas run past. She claps her hands until her palms are sore, and she waves her tiny rainbow flag in the air. (Maggie promises to buy her a bigger one for next year, and Alex’s heart sings.)
She fills her backpack with stickers and buttons and rubber bracelets and coupons for free burritos. She reaches up to catch beads flung from passing floats and hands them out to the people around her. (Except for a few times where she hangs them delicately around Maggie’s neck, teasing that Maggie hasn’t caught any for herself because her arms are too short.)
She feels tears welling in her eyes every time she sees a family with two moms or two dads, and she pretends not to notice Maggie wiping her eyes when a group of people wearing t-shirts that say “Proud Parent of a Gay Child” pass by. (Alex doesn’t know all the details, but she knows that Maggie isn’t close with her family. She fights the urge to reach out and wrap her arm around her shoulders.)
As it all draws to an end, Alex lets out a happy sigh, smiling despite the fact that her cheeks ache. She’s not usually comfortable around people she doesn’t know, but it feels so good to be here. It feels right. Sure, these people are strangers, but they’re also like family, in a way. She’s never felt so at home around so many people she’s never met.
And of course, Maggie is a significant part of that. Maggie’s presence calms her, makes her feel free to be herself, to let loose more than she normally would. Maggie makes her feel comfortable in a way she’d only ever experienced with Kara.
She’s so important to her, and she needs her to know it.
“Maggie,” she says, turning to face her.
“What’s up?” Maggie cocks her head to the side in that way she always does.
“I just… Thank you. For coming with me today. It means a lot to me.”
And then, overwhelmed with all the emotions of the day and unable to put her thoughts into words, she steps forward and pulls Maggie into a hug. Maggie’s arms wrap around her instantly, and she squeezes her tightly for a few long moments.
When they pull back, Maggie is smiling softly, just a hint of one dimple peeking through. “Of course, Danvers,” she says, and Alex can tell that she really means it.
“I told you, there’s no way I was gonna miss out on your first time seeing Dykes on Bikes,” she adds, her dimples deepening as her smile grows.
Alex laughs, grateful for the shift in the conversation. “Our people!”
Maggie’s nose scrunches up as she smiles even wider, and she’s so fucking cute.
“Alright, are you ready to head out? I can walk you back to your place?” She phrases it like a question, as though Alex would ever say no.
They make the trek back to Alex’s apartment, arriving sweaty and tired and a little sunburnt.
Despite the fact that they’ve just spent half the day together, Alex is reluctant to leave Maggie’s side. Without thinking, she says, “Wanna come up for a little bit?” Before Maggie can respond, she rushes to add, “I’ve got popsicles.”
Maggie just grins at her and gestures toward the front door. “Lead the way.”
Alex is glad Maggie is behind her so she can’t see the idiotic smile lighting up her face.
Once they’re inside Alex’s apartment, they share twin sighs of relief as they shed their backpacks and take off their shoes.
“I’m so ready to sit down,” Alex groans, and Maggie hums in agreement. “But first: strawberry, orange, or grape?”
“Oh, strawberry, definitely.”
Alex grins. “A woman after my own heart.”
She trudges into the kitchen and grabs two strawberry popsicles out of the freezer. She hands one to Maggie and gestures for her to follow her into the living room, where they both collapse on the couch.
Plastic wrappers crinkle as they both unwrap their popsicles, and Alex has to avert her eyes as Maggie’s tongue darts out to take her first lick. Maybe this was a bad idea. Why does Maggie have to look hot doing literally anything? It’s very inconvenient for her.
Alex tries to concentrate on her own popsicle, pushing down all thoughts of Maggie’s lips and tongue. She keeps her eyes trained on the wall across from her for several long minutes, acutely aware of Maggie’s presence beside her but not daring to look.
“You zoning out on me, Danvers?”
Alex turns her head and—oh no. Maggie’s lips are stained red in the middle, and it’s adorable. If Alex wasn’t already thinking about kissing her, she definitely is now.
“I...huh?” is all she can manage, and Maggie chuckles.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Uh, nothing, just, uh, just the...the parade,” she stammers.
“Yeah?” Maggie smiles encouragingly. “You want to talk about it? I remember my first pride, it can be kind of overwhelming.”
Alex’s heart flutters. Maggie is just so good. She’s so kind and caring and patient, and she’s been there for Alex for every step of her journey.
God, she loves her.
“I just, uh, I know I already said it, but thank you for going with me, seriously. I’m...I’m really glad you were there with me.”
Maggie smiles affectionately, and Alex can’t help but smile too. “You don’t have to thank me, Alex. I wanted to be there. I’m the one who asked if I could go with you, remember?”
Alex shrugs, blushing. “Yeah, I just, you know, figured you’d have other plans. Better plans.”
Maggie tilts her head, her brow furrowing just the tiniest bit. “No way, Danvers. No one I’d rather go with.”
“I don’t know, I thought maybe you’d have a hot date or something,” Alex teases, trying to deflect from the emotion welling in her chest at Maggie’s words.
Maggie looks down at her hands, fiddling with her popsicle stick. “I haven’t really...been dating, recently.”
Well, now she feels like an asshole for bringing it up.
“Yeah, it’s just...there’s someone I’m interested in, and I’m not really...interested in dating anyone else.”
Alex feels a little sick to her stomach at the thought of Maggie having such strong feelings for some random woman she’s never even mentioned before, but she tries her best to ignore it. She wants to be a good friend.
“Well, um, whoever she is, she’d be stupid not to want to date you.”
Maggie looks up at her, one strawberry stained lip pulled between her teeth. “Yeah?”
“Maggie. Of course. Have you ever looked in a mirror?”
Maggie makes a noise that’s somewhere between a scoff and a chuckle.
“But more than that, you’re...you’re smart and you’re funny and you’re tough and you’re just...you’re an incredible person, Maggie. Any girl would be lucky to date you.”
“Yeah?” she says again, but her voice is softer this time.
Alex nods, a little stunned by the intensity of Maggie’s gaze, unable to look away.
“There’s just one problem with this girl, though,” Maggie continues, her voice still soft. Her lips twitch upward in a smile, but her eyes are wide, almost nervous. “We both like strawberry popsicles, so I’d always have to share.”
Alex blinks. Dumbly, she looks down at the red-stained popsicle stick in her hand, then back up to Maggie’s face. “I…”
Maggie bites her lip again and gives her an awkward little shrug.
The gears in Alex’s mind slowly shift into motion as she tries to process what Maggie is saying. “But what about...you said you don’t date people who are fresh off the boat.”
Maggie blinks, surprised. “I did?”
Alex laughs, shaky and nervous. “Yeah, you did, I’ve been thinking about it for months.”
Alex’s eyes widen as she realizes what she’s admitted.
“Why’s that?” Maggie asks quietly.
And Alex has already dug herself into this hole, she might as well go deeper.
So she takes in a deep breath and says, “Because as soon as you said it I thought there was no way that you’d ever want to be with me. That you’d ever...like me back.”
Her heart is beating fast and her hands are shaking and she’s still holding this goddamn popsicle stick.
“Alex,” Maggie breathes, and the way she says her name sends Alex’s heart thumping against her ribcage so hard she thinks it might be trying to escape. “Of course I like you. How could I not?”
And Alex must be dreaming, because there’s no way Maggie Sawyer, her best friend, the most perfect, beautiful woman in the universe, the woman she’s been in love with practically since she first laid eyes on her, is right there in front of her telling her she wants her too.
But then Maggie is leaning forward and slipping the popsicle stick out of her hand, setting it gently beside her own on the coffee table. And then Maggie’s hands are cradling her face, and she’s pulling her in, and she’s kissing her.
Maggie Sawyer is kissing her, and she tastes like strawberry popsicles and she feels like coming home.
Alex slides her hands up the length of Maggie’s arms, her thumbs gently caressing the soft skin she’s been thinking about all day long. Maggie slides her fingers into Alex's hair, pulling her even closer against her on the couch, and Alex grips even tighter at Maggie’s biceps. She can’t get enough of her.
When they break apart, all Alex can do is stare at her, eyes wide and cheeks flushed and mouth slightly agape. “So you...you like me?” she asks, stupidly, because her brain stopped functioning about five minutes ago.
Maggie is practically glowing with affection as she smiles at her, and the tiny little giggle she lets out is the cutest thing Alex has ever heard. “Yes, Alex, I like you.”
“Okay, good,” Alex says softly, dropping a kiss on Maggie’s nose. “I like you too.”
What she wants to say is, I’m completely in love with you, and I have been for months, but she can save that for later. She’s got time.
“Thanks for making my first pride experience as gay as possible,” she tells her, a stupid grin on her face, and Maggie rolls her eyes.
“Shut up and kiss me again," she says, already tugging her close.
Alex doesn’t have to be told twice.