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My Words are Flying (over your head)

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Alex has the worst possible words tattooed on her arm.

Can I buy you a drink?

Really? That’s the best her soulmate could do?  She spent all her college years hoping that every sleazy guy who hit on her at the campus bar would be her soulmate, only to be met with disappointment after disappointment.  Once she realized she wasn’t into guys, well, it didn’t change too much at the gay bars she went to.

But now?  Now Alex is fucking tired.  Instead of the slight flutter of hope she used to feel in her chest whenever she heard those words, she feels annoyance, and wants to rip off the face of every person who says those words to her.

It makes her wonder why she still even goes to bars at all.

But on days like today, all she needs is a drink.

Alex has heard those six words no less than three times, and she’s only been sitting at the bar for twenty minutes.  Maybe it’s her fault for drinking alone when she could have easily called her sister, but she doesn’t want to deal with Kara right now.  She wants to be alone.

The bar is busy and no matter how long she sits there, the bartender won’t even give Alex the time of day, let alone take her drink order, and Alex is just about ready to hop behind the counter and pour herself a drink when she hears those godforsaken words again.

“Can I buy you a drink?”

Alex is done being pleasant.  The first guy, she politely declined.  The second guy, she waved him off.  The third guy she flat out ignored until he walked away.  But now, Alex’s patience is far past the line of what she can tolerate.  She rolls her eyes, doesn’t even look at the person and simply says, “Fuck off.”

There’s a drawn out beat, and Alex thinks they left, but then she hears an offended but curious, “Excuse me?”

Alex turns in her seat, glare plastered on her face.  The girl is kind of cute, and Alex almost feels bad for snapping at her, but she just wants to be left alone.  “Look, lady, I’m sure you’re nice but the last thing I need after the shit day I’ve had is another person I don’t know hitting on me at a bar.”

The woman purses her lips and looks down at the ground.  She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear, then looks back up at Alex.  “I wasn’t hitting on you,” she says with a sympathetic smile.  “You just looked like you could use a drink.  And maybe a listening ear so you can talk about the shit day you’ve had.”

Alex doesn’t agree, but she also doesn’t tell her to leave again, so she sits down next to Alex at the bar and raises a hand.

“Hey, Stan!” she calls, and the bartender immediately approaches her.

“Hey Mags,” Stan says with a grin.  “What can I get you?”

“Whiskey, neat,” the girl, Mags, says.  “And whatever she’s having.”  She gestures to Alex.

Alex contemplates telling her off again, but this is the first time the bartender has so much as looked at her, so she nods.  “I’ll have the same.”

The bartender quickly fixes their drinks, and the woman hands over a twenty before Alex can even reach for her wallet.  “So, you wanna talk about your day?” she asks.

Alex snorts, then brings the glass up to her mouth and sips.  “Not really.”

“Okay, we can backtrack a little,” she says.  “I’m Maggie.”

“Alex.”

They fall into silence.  Maggie studies Alex’s face as Alex sips at her drink.  Alex doesn’t even look at Maggie, and tries not to think about her day, but the more she tries not to, the more she does.

“Look, Alex, I don’t want to make you talk,” Maggie sighs.  “I’m perfectly fine with just buying you a drink and leaving you think about your shitty day, but something is clearly wrong and I just want to help.”

“Why?” Alex scoffs.

Maggie shrugs.  “I help people.  It’s what I do.”

Alex can hear the genuine concern laced in her voice and as much as she’d love to tell this girl to fuck off again, she can’t bring herself to do it.  She sighs and downs the rest of her drink.  After a deep breath, Alex starts, “I just found out today that I’m on academic probation in my PhD program,” she says.  It’s the first time she’s said it out loud and the reality hits her like a truck.  “And my little sister still thinks I’m the perfect role model, so when she stopped by this morning, I had to lie to her.  I hate lying to her.  But if I don’t then she’ll know that I’m just a failure.”

When Alex stops talking, and suddenly some drunk guys shout after doing a couple of shots.  Maggie meets her eyes, and without looking away, she finishes her own drink.  “Stan,” Maggie calls.  “Could we get a couple more drinks over here?”

Maggie doesn’t try to make her feel better, which Alex appreciates.  She just lets her talk and orders drink after drink.

Eventually they migrate from their barstools to a booth in the corner and switch to beer.  Alex has probably shared a little too much about her life at this point, but she’s three drinks past the point of caring.  Maggie’s a good listener.

“You know, my partner killed a guy last week,” Maggie says as she grabs her fresh bottle of beer and takes a sip.

Alex’s eyes grow wide.  “What the hell, Maggie?!”

“Oh, shit, I’m a cop,” Maggie quickly backtracks.  “I should’ve led with that.”

“You think?” Alex snorts.

“But he killed a guy and the guy was bad, but I saw it happen,” Maggie explains, slurring her words just a little.  “And so my asshole chief decides to put me on desk duty for a month because my fragile feminine heart can’t handle death.  What the fuck does he think I trained for, you know?”

“That’s bullshit.”

“I know, right?”

Across the room, two guys playing a game of pool finish up and leave the bar.  Maggie throws a smirk in Alex’s direction.

“Fancy a game?” she challenges.

Alex glares playfully, then gulps down the last of her beer.  “You’re on, Sawyer.”

As it turns out, Alex is either more drunk than she realizes, or she underestimated Maggie’s pool skills.  Maggie wins three games in a row and Alex is about to snap her cue in half out of pure frustration.

They finish another couple of beers, and by the time they finish their last game, Alex is stumbling and slurring.

“Come on, just one more game,” she says, leaning on the pool table for support.  “I know I can kick your ass.”

Alex takes a step toward Maggie, and stumbles a little.  “Whoa!”  Maggie lunges forward and catches her by the arms.  “Maybe we should get you home.”

Alex shakes her head, hair getting stuck in her face.  Maggie brushes it out of the way.  “No, I don’t wanna go home,” she pouts.  “I wanna stay here with you.”

The pool cue clatters to the floor as it slips out of Alex’s hands.  The whole bar goes silent for a moment and looks at them.  Maggie awkwardly chuckles, picks up the cue and sets it on the table, and leads Alex outside.

“Do you have anyone who can come pick you up?” Maggie asks.

“Please don’t call my sister!” Alex begs.  “She can’t see me like this.”

“Okay, okay,” Maggie reassures.  “I’ll call you a cab.”

Maggie slips her phone out of her pocket to call a cab, and waits with Alex to make sure she at least gets into the car safely.

Ten minutes later, a cab pulls up to the curb.  Maggie walks Alex over and opens the door for her.  Before Alex gets inside, she turns back to Maggie and grasps her upper arm.  “Thank you,” she says.  “For tonight.  Not just, you know, this, but for listening.”

Maggie smiles, genuinely.  “Of course.”

Before Maggie can register what’s happening, Alex surges forward and plants a sloppy kiss on her lips.  Maggie turns her head and pulls away.

“You’re drunk,” Maggie says pointedly.

“You’re... not,” Alex replies.  “Surprisingly.”

“You finished like half of my beers for me.”

Alex scrunches up her face in concentration, thinking.  “I did, didn’t I?”  She frowns.  “Sorry.”

Maggie laughs.  “Go home.  Go to sleep.”

“That’s a good idea,” Alex says, and backs up to sit down in the backseat.

Maggie closes the door behind her, then knocks on the driver’s window to hand him a few bills to cover the fee.  Alex watches out the window as the cab pulls away from the curb and Maggie waves her goodbye from the street.

The next morning, Alex wakes up with a killer hangover and a lot of embarrassment.  She could very easily forget last night ever happened, since she and Maggie never exchanged contact information or anything, but when Alex thinks about the end of the night, she cringes.

Alex is pretty sure she remembers Maggie mentioning which precinct she works at, and does a little digging to confirm.  Once she’s showered and dressed (and popped a few painkillers), it’s around lunchtime, so she grabs enough Chinese for two people and heads to the police station.

It’s not the best idea Alex has ever had, and maybe her intrusion will be unwelcome, but she wants to make up for the night’s awkward end.  Alex enters the station, clutching the bag of food, and asks the man at the front desk where she can find Maggie Sawyer.  He gives her quick directions, and Alex is off again.

She finds Maggie hunched over her desk, drowning in a sea of paperwork, looking miserable as ever.  Alex takes a deep breath, then walks up to her and drops the bag of food next to the papers.  Maggie looks up, and lifts an eyebrow in confusion when she sees Alex.

“Alex?” she asks.  “What are you doing here?”

“Apologizing.  For last night.”  Alex purses her lips and shrugs.  “I shouldn’t have… done that, and I’m sorry.  And you are an angel for putting up with me all night.”

Maggie leans back in her chair and laughs.  “It was my pleasure.  You’re not the most insufferable drunk I’ve ever met.”

“Just the second most.”

Maggie giggles.  She eyes the bag of food next to her.  “Is this for me?” she asks.

Alex nods.  “I hope you like Chinese.  You free for lunch?”

“I think I can squeeze you in,” Maggie says with a wink.

Alex pulls up a chair and plops herself down.  “So how much longer are you on desk duty?” she asks.

Maggie opens the bag and takes out a box of food and passes it to Alex.  “I don’t even know,” she groans.  Alex splits her chopsticks and digs into the food.  “The chief said two more weeks but I think he wants to extend it.”

“Sexist bastard,” Alex mutters with a mouthful of beef.

Alex bringing Maggie lunch sort of becomes their thing.  It’s an unspoken thing, but every day, without fail, at twelve-thirty sharp, Alex drops a bag of food on Maggie’s desk and pulls up a chair.  Alex tells herself that she just wants to make up for embarrassing herself that first night they met, but they’re far past that point.  She tries not to think about the nervous flutter in her chest whenever Maggie looks at her.  She tries to not let herself hope that she’s finally met the person whose words are tattooed on her arm, because she hadn’t let herself hope for that in years.

Maggie always wears long sleeves, and Alex is thankful because not knowing is better than disappointment.

One day, Alex is running late for lunch, and she doesn’t have time to grab food before she gets to the station.

Maggie is already waiting, feet kicked up on her desk, and Alex wonders if she’s just imagining the way Maggie’s face lights up when their eyes meet.  She points at the clock that reads twelve-thirty-one.

“You’re late.”

“I’m so sorry,” Alex says quickly.  “I had a meeting with my advisor and I lost track of time!  I rushed over as soon as I realized—“

“Alex, it’s fine,” Maggie grins.  She stands up from her chair.  “I’m just teasing you.”

“Oh.”

“And I see that you’re sans-food today,” Maggie points out.  “Should we go out for lunch?  My treat.  To make up for all the times you’ve bought me food.”

“What?” Alex frowns.  “No, you don’t have to—“

“I insist,” Maggie says.  She grabs her coat off the back of her chair, then walks off and grabs Alex’s hand on the way.  “Come on, I know just the place.”

It’s a casual little diner across the street from the station, and Alex hadn’t even known it existed before.  They both get greasy and delicious diner food, and decide to split a milkshake too.  Alex doesn’t think about how much this feels like a date.  It’s just lunch.

When they finish their food and leave the restaurant, Maggie lingers, leaning in just a little closer to Alex.

“I don’t want to go back to work,” Maggie sighs.

“You still have ten minutes for lunch, right?”  Alex asks.  Maggie nods her head.  “Let’s go for a walk.”

Maggie’s lips turn up in an adorable smile.  “Sure.”

They walk in silence for a block or two.  One thing Alex likes about spending time with Maggie is that, although conversation came easy to them, they don’t always have to speak.  It’s a comfortable silence that surrounds them.

Alex glances over at Maggie, and sees her deep in concentration.  There’s something on her mind, and Alex isn’t sure if it’s her place to ask or not.

While Alex is still contemplating, Maggie clears her throat.  “I have a confession to make.”

They stop walking.  Alex turns to her, concerned.  Her heart pounds in her chest, unsure of what’s to come.  “What is it?”

Maggie’s brow is furrowed, and if Alex wasn’t so goddamn nervous she would probably find it adorable.  Maggie draws a deep breath.  “Do you remember the night we met?”  Alex nods.  “And how we met?”  Alex nods again.  “I wanted to buy you a drink, and—“

“And I told you to fuck off,” Alex finishes with a laugh.  “Sorry about that, by the way.”  Maggie isn’t laughing though.  She’s looking at Alex with wonder and excitement and nerves, and Alex doesn’t know why.  The smile falls from her face.  “What is it?” Alex asks.

Maggie bites her lip, then shakes her head.  Instead of saying anything, she rolls up the sleeve of her left arm to reveal the words, ‘Fuck off’, tattooed there.  “Those first words aren’t too common,” she says lightly.

The world slows down for a moment, and Alex’s breath gets stuck in her throat.  She wants to say something, anything, but no words would come out.  It’s what she’d both hoped for and feared for so much of her life, and now that it’s here, she doesn’t know what to do.

Maggie’s face falls at Alex’s lack of response, and Alex wants to reassure her, but she can’t.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before,” Maggie says.  “It caught me off guard, and you—you were so upset that night and I didn’t want to give you even more of a burden.”  Maggie’s eyes glisten, and Alex still can’t find her voice.  She just gazes at Maggie, opens her mouth, closes it, and repeat.  “Say something, please.”

Alex sighs, and begins rolling up her sleeve.  “Do you have any idea,” she starts, “how annoying it’s been having these words on my arm?”  Alex shows off her own tattoo, the words, ‘Can I buy you a drink?’ stand out dark against her pale skin.  “I spent most of my life worrying that every single douchebag at a bar is my soulmate.”  Maggie giggles.  Alex reaches out for Maggie’s hand and intertwines their fingers.  “I’m glad it’s not.”

Alex doesn’t want to overstep her boundaries, especially after the last time she tried to kiss Maggie and it was a drunken mess.  She doesn’t have to fret too long, because Maggie quickly stands on her tip toes and pulls Alex in by her shirt to kiss her.

Alex sighs into her touch, the feeling of Maggie’s lips against her own, and wraps her arms around the smaller woman, holding her close.  One of Maggie’s hands trails up to cup Alex’s face, and a thumb brushes across her cheek.  Alex feels herself smiling into the kiss.

After a blissful moment, they break apart.  Maggie has the biggest grin on her face, and her eyes are lit up like she’s just seen the sun.  Alex looks at her and thinks that she’s so lucky her soulmate is so beautiful.  She leans in and presses another kiss to Maggie’s lips, never wanting this feeling to end.

They’re startled from the moment when an alarm sounds on Maggie’s phone.  She yanks the device out of her pocket and shuts it off.  “Shit,” she mutters.  “I gotta get back to work.”

Alex is disappointed, but nods.  “You should go.”  Her eyes trail down to the tattoo on Maggie’s arm again.  “I can’t believe you’ve had that on your arm for years,” she laughs.  “I’m so sorry.”

Maggie chuckles too.  “Don’t be,” she says.  “This is how my entire first grade class learned the word fuck.  And the teacher couldn’t even do anything about it because it’s from a soul mark!  It was hilarious.”

Alex smiles at the story, and she thinks, she can’t wait to hear all the other stories Maggie has to tell.