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just breathing hurts

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And I’m burning yeah I’m burning
I’m burning so deep that just breathing hurts
I’m melting darling, I can’t let go

- Foy Vance, "She Burns"

 

-

 

The first time they fuck, Maggie still has a girlfriend.

Well, Alex doesn’t know what they call it. Maybe she’s not her girlfriend. But the first time they fuck, there’s still a woman who Maggie calls babe and greets with a kiss. Alex knows this because Maggie calls the woman, before anything happens.

Maggie says, “Hey babe, I gotta cancel tonight. Working a case that’s taking longer than we expected.”

It’s true, and Alex doesn’t think much of it at the time, except about how her chest feels tight at the idea of Maggie going home to someone.

Alex doesn’t think much of it until later, when Maggie’s hands are pushing rough against her jacket.

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?”

“I’m exactly where I want to be, Danvers,” she says as she slips her hands into Alex’s pants.

It’s almost midnight and Alex still has blood on her—human, not alien. If it were alien, she’d have to go to the DEO to get cleaned up, wouldn’t have climbed on the back of Maggie’s bike and given her directions to her apartment.

-

The next time they fuck it’s Alex who blows someone off beforehand.

“I don't think I want company,” Alex tells Kara, and she can feel Maggie’s eyes on her. She’s been able to feel Maggie’s eyes on her all day. “I'm just going to pass out probably.”

Later, Alex pushes Maggie against the wall of the parking garage next to her bike.

“I thought you didn't want company,” Maggie says, biting at Alex’s neck.

“You know what I want, Sawyer.”

And she does. They go to Maggie’s place this time. Alex doesn't have time to look around, to see what she can learn about Maggie based on her apartment; they stumble their way to the bedroom, clothes abandoned along the way.

After, Maggie orders enough take out for four people. When Alex tries to cover some of it, she says, “You blew off Supergirl for me. The least I can do is buy you dinner.”

Alex eats chow fun and steals a bite of orange chicken and leaves without making an excuse, without kissing Maggie goodbye.

-

Maggie calls her at all hours, never about anything personal. She calls at 3 am about a case the DEO isn’t even a part of. Alex thinks why are you calling me, thinks what is this. Alex thinks where’s your girlfriend and says, “Talk to the cabby again. Something doesn’t add up there.”

Maggie calls the next day, opens with, “I’m taking you out, Danvers.”

“Excuse me?”

“Cabby confessed. I owe you a drink. What are you doing tonight?”

Alex thinks where’s your girlfriend and says, “Getting drinks with you, apparently.”

“Dolly’s,” Maggie says, which isn’t the name of the alien bar, because the alien bar doesn’t have a name, but it’s what they call it. “Eight. Bring Supergirl if you want.”

She hangs up before Alex can respond.

Bring Supergirl if you want.

So. It’s not a date, then.

Alex doesn’t bring Kara. Alex doesn’t even tell Kara.

Maggie smirks at her as soon as she arrives. “Supergirl isn’t going to miss her partner?”

“I don’t have a partner.”

“Could’ve fooled me.”

Alex doesn’t respond. She doesn’t know why Maggie cares.

It’s not a date, but Maggie buys her a drink. It’s not a date, but they only have a beer each before they leave together.

-

Alex finds out through Kara that Maggie and her girlfriend broke up.

“We should invite her to game night,” Kara says. “Because she and Elliot just broke up and I know she’s sort of broody but I don't want her to be lonely and sad.”

“She and who what?”

“Elliot. Her girlfriend. Or, well, ex-girlfriend now.” Kara looks at her. “Didn't she tell you?”

Alex didn't know Maggie and Kara even talked.

“You want to invite a detective who doesn't know you're Supergirl to a game night with a group of people who do know you're Supergirl?”

“Oh,” Kara says. “Right.” After a moment she adds, “Well you should go out with her.”

Alex’s eyes go wide.

“Like, be a good friend and be nice to her because her relationship just ended.”

Alex swallows. “Yeah,” she says. “Sure.”

Alex makes Maggie come three times before she lets her return the favor. That’s being a good friend, right?

-

Alex thinks of her as Maggie and calls her Sawyer. The first time she says her first name out loud, they’re two months into sleeping together. Alex’s back is against the door to Maggie’s apartment, and Maggie’s fingers are rough on Alex’s clit.

“Fuck, Maggie,” Alex mutters, and Maggie’s fingers stutter. Her breath is harsh in Alex’s ear.

Alex doesn’t acknowledge it, but she remembers.

Three weeks later, Maggie is pissed at her. The DEO had to take over an investigation, and Maggie doesn’t get to know why, or what happened, and she’s pissed. She’s more biting than kissing Alex, fighting her every step of the way. Alex swears Maggie is not coming just to be rude. She knows Maggie’s tells, knows she’s close.

“C’mon,” Alex murmurs.

Maggie snaps, “Make me.”

Alex twists her fingers the way Maggie likes, and Maggie gasps and gasps and doesn’t come.

“Please, Maggie.”

Maggie almost breaks the skin with how tightly she clutches Alex’s arm. Alex doesn’t think she’s ever seen her come so hard.

Maggie says, “I’m still fucking pissed at you,” then slides down the bed to settle between Alex’s legs.

-

Alex calls her Maggie every time after that. She swears Maggie waits for it, doesn't come until Alex says her name. Alex would test her hypothesis, but she's not willing to be proven wrong.

-

Maggie only ever calls her Danvers, and that’s how it happens, finally.

Maggie says, “Danvers” and Kara says, “Yeah?”

Kara, in her Supergirl suit, answers to Danvers.

At first Kara tries to play it off, but Alex knows better. Alex knows that look in Maggie’s eye. Maggie is too good of a cop.

Alex interrupts Kara’s babbling explanation to say, “Meet my sister, Kara Danvers.”

There’s a lot of paperwork after that. Maggie fills it all out silently.

When it’s finished, Alex walks her to the DEO’s parking garage.

“Explains why you don’t have any recent pictures of your sister in your apartment.”

“Yep,” Alex tries to laugh it off. She hopes Kara isn’t listening; she doesn’t want to have to explain why Maggie knows the pictures in her apartment.

Maggie scuffs her boots against the concrete. Alex gets the feeling she’s waiting for an apology she’s not going to get.

Finally Maggie says, “Okay, well. I should get going.”

“Right,” Alex says. “Have a good ride.”

Maggie puts on her helmet without another word.

-

Alex shows up at Maggie’s apartment that night, late but not so late as to be inappropriate. Maggie answers the door, pulls it open barely the width of her body.

“Danvers,” she says. She doesn’t smirk like she usually would.

“Sawyer,” Alex says, because that’s what they do, and she smiles even if Maggie’s not. “I wanted to check on you. I know today was—intense, and I just—wanted to see how you were.”

“Yeah, I’m good,” Maggie says. She pauses, then, “If this isn’t about work, I’ve actually got company, so…”

“Oh,” Alex says. “Right.”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, yeah, I'll just be, I'll go. Just wanted to check in. Bye.”

-

Alex goes to Kara’s place instead of her own, gets pizza on the way.

“Today was weird, right?” she says around a bite of pizza. Kara’s already had three slices.

Kara shrugs. “Not really? I’m glad Maggie knows. Now we can hang out, outside of work.”

“You want to hang out with Maggie?” Alex really wished she had brought beer, too.

“Yeah, like all three of us,” Kara says. “You guys go out sometimes, right?”

“Just, uh, just after cases and stuff.”

“Yeah,” Kara beams. “That sounds like fun.”

-

Maggie doesn't call about a case for a week. Ten days later, when she finally shows up at Alex’s apartment, Alex thinks I don't owe you anything, and kisses her more gently than she ever has.

-

Alex has known she was gay for a long time. Has known she’d be alone for longer than that. She doesn’t mean to sound pitiful. She’s fine with it. She’s meant for bigger things. That’s what happens when your sister is an alien superhero. She wouldn’t change a thing.

That’s what she thinks as claws sink in just below her collarbone. The alien had stopped hitting Kara when Alex rushed in, J’onn yelling at her to stop, and that’s what Alex wanted, that’s what needed to happen. He was beating Kara, and Alex gave her a break.

It was worth it, she thinks as her body collapses. The pain of her head hitting the ground is nothing compared to the screaming in her chest, warm and wet. The alien disappears, she doesn’t know how, and she blinks and blinks and Kara is above her, Kara is alive, and Alex’s vision is blacking out and she wouldn’t change a thing.

-

She wakes up in med bay. She wakes up in pain. She wakes up, and Maggie and Kara are there.

“Alex, thank Rao,” Kara says.

“Nice of you to join us, Danvers,” Maggie says.

“You okay?” Alex asks Kara.

“Yes, you idiot, I’m fine,” Kara says. “ You , on the other hand, had a collapsed lung and almost died and are never allowed to do that ever again.”

Alex thinks wouldn’t change a thing, and nods at her sister anyway.

“Can I have some water?”

“Of course, I’ll get you some.”

Kara leaves, with a glance at Maggie on the way out. Kara leaves, and she doesn’t immediately return, doesn’t use her superspeed. Alex doesn’t know why Kara’s giving her time alone with Maggie, but apparently she is.

“What are you doing here, Sawyer?”

Maggie looks offended, and Alex considers that maybe that wasn’t the best opening line. But the NCPD wasn’t on the mission with them, Maggie wasn’t there. She shouldn’t even know Alex was injured.

“Your sister called me,” Maggie says.

“Why?”

Maggie throws her hands up. “Maybe because she knows I give a fuck about you, Danvers, Jesus Christ. She called your mom, too, by the way. She’s on her way in from Midvale.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah, God forbid people who care about you be around when you almost die,” Maggie snaps. “Kara told me what happened. What the hell were you thinking running in there without backup?”

Alex’s chest hurts. Her head hurts. Maggie looks so angry, and Alex is in too much pain to fight with her. The breath Alex lets out is ragged, and Maggie’s face changes, the harsh lines smooth out. She sits next to the bed, squeezes Alex’s hand, doesn’t make her answer the question.

She doesn’t let go until Kara comes back with the water.

-

Alex is on desk duty for three weeks. She does more paperwork than she’s done in her entire life. Maggie comes by sometimes, pushes Alex’s things around on her desk so she has room to do her own paperwork. Alex makes Maggie talk about her cases, needs to live vicariously through her.

Maggie won’t go home with her for a week and a half.

“You’re injured,” she says once she’s sure the room is empty.

Alex shrugs. “You’ll just have to do all the work.”

“You’re something else, Danvers.” Maggie’s smirking, and Alex takes it as a compliment.

Later, Alex tries to help, tries to get her hands on Maggie.

“You said I had to do all the work,” Maggie says. She pins Alex’s hands and straddles her thigh, grinds down against her.

Fuck, it’s so hot. Maggie rolls her hips, drags her center up Alex’s thigh. Jesus.

This is maybe the best view in the world. Alex just has to lie there, gets to watch Maggie naked and grinding into her, gets to watch her face as she gets more and more worked up. Alex thinks she could probably come again, just from watching.

Then Maggie says Danvers in this low, demanding tone, and Alex doesn’t know what she's supposed to do. Maggie’s hands are still tight around Alex’s wrists, pushing them into the mattress. There’s nothing Alex can do to help out here.

Alex,” Maggie grinds out.

And she gets it.

“Maggie, please, I want you to come, please, Maggie,” Alex rushes.

Maggie lets out this whine, loud and desperate and like no noise Alex has ever heard her make before. She lets go of Alex’s wrists in favor of clawing at the mattress. Alex says, Maggie, Maggie, Maggie. Maggie buries her face in Alex’s neck and shakes.

After, Maggie on her back, still catching her breath, Alex can’t stop grinning.

“You pull any of that almost dying shit on me again, Danvers, and you’re going a lot longer than a week and a half without sex.”

Alex chuckles and tugs Maggie against her. She’s not cuddling, she just likes having Maggie tucked into her side.

-

Alex wakes up when the bed dips. It’s light outside and there’s someone in her room. She scrambles, thinking of the gun in her nightstand, but when she opens her eyes, it’s just Maggie, smirking down at her.

“Danvers, you’ve got no food in your kitchen.”

Alex swallows. “What?”

“I was going to be nice and make you pancakes, but now you have to take me out and buy me breakfast instead.”

“Uh. Yeah. Okay.”

Maggie’s smirk gets bigger. “Get dressed.”

She pulls the covers off. Before Alex can get her brain working well enough to move past Maggie stayed the night and make it to get out of bed, Maggie leans over her.

“I changed my mind,” Maggie says, even though it’s barely been fifteen seconds. “First I’m going to make you come, and then you’re going to buy me breakfast.”

Alex is not going to complain.

-

She takes Maggie to a greasy diner a block from her apartment. They know her there; she goes almost every weekend. Her regular waitress is a sixty-something named Ruth who grins at her when they take a seat in the counter.

“I didn't know you had any friends, sugar,” she teases.

“Who says I do?” Alex says.

Maggie and Ruth both roll their eyes at her.

“Coffee for you, Alexandra,” Ruth says. “And the lady?”

“Also coffee, please,” Maggie says. When Ruth leaves, she says, “Alexandra?”

Alex doesn’t have to look at Maggie to know she’s smirking.

“You’re only allowed to call me that if you’re over sixty,” Alex says. “Unless you want to be called Margaret.”

“Truce,” Maggie says, bumps her elbow against Alex’s on the counter.

Alex’s stomach flips at the contact. She doesn’t know what Maggie’s doing here. They’ve never had a morning after before. Maybe now that she’s almost died this is how things will go.

Breakfast is strange because it's perfectly normal. They’ve done meals together before, usually during or just after cases. Alex’s heart beats a little faster than usual, but she’s still recovering from her collapsed lung, is all. It’s not weird.

After breakfast Alex walks Maggie to her bike, stands on the sidewalk with her hands in her pockets. Maggie kisses her right there, in public, in daylight. She pulls away and grins.

“See you around, Danvers.”

Alex’s hands are still in her pockets as Maggie rides off.

-

The next time they sleep together, Maggie rolls away as soon as Alex comes.

She’s pulling on her pants while Alex is coming down.

“Hate to eat and run,” Maggie smirks and Alex would roll her eyes, but she still can’t quite catch her breath. “But I gotta go.”

“Sure,” Alex says.

Maggie doesn’t kiss her goodbye.

Alex totally doesn’t care.

-

Kara has a menagerie of suitors and she doesn't even realize it. Mon-El looks at her with stars in his eyes, and Winn and James aren't much better. She has a weekly lunch date with Lena Luthor, of all people. Cat sends postcards from wherever she is in the world. Kara talks about how nice her friends are, never seems to consider anything more than friendly.

Alex hangs out with Kara, and every once in awhile she and Susan go out, and she sleeps with Maggie. That's all she's got. She doesn’t know when it started being a problem for her. She’s an introvert, she doesn’t even like that many people. But Kara goes off Friday night with Lucy Lane—she invites Alex, sure, but Alex begs off, doesn’t want to be a third wheel. Kara goes off Friday night with Lucy Lane and Alex feels sorry for herself.

She solves that by getting drunk, which is fine, wouldn’t be a big deal, except then her drunk ass decides it’s a good idea to call Maggie.  

“Sawyer.” All business, which isn’t unusual, but Alex likes it better when Maggie answers already addressing her.

“You should come over.”

“One minute.” She’s at a bar, Alex thinks, from the noises in the background. She shouldn’t be at a bar when she can be getting drunk with Alex instead.

“Come over,” she says again. She knows this is bordering on desperate, but they’ve been sleeping with each other—once, twice, three times a week—for almost half a year by this point.

“I’m on a date, Danvers.”

Alex must have had too much to drink, the way her stomach rolls at that.

“Right,” she says. And, “Sorry.”

She wonders who Maggie’s out with. Where she took her. Have they kissed? Not that Alex cares, really, she just wonders.

And then she realizes Maggie hasn’t said anything.

“Have a good night,” Alex says, and hangs up the phone.

-

Alex is brushing her teeth, making faces at herself in the mirror, when there’s a knock on her door. She’s too drunk for this. It doesn’t make sense for it to be anyone except Maggie, but Alex knows it can’t be Maggie.

She spits, and rinses, and goes to open the door.

It’s Maggie.

It’s Maggie in date clothes, pushing her way in and tossing her jacket onto Alex’s table. It’s Maggie fisting her hands in the thin fabric of Alex’s t-shirt and kissing her hard enough to bend her backward.

There’s leftover pizza in the fridge and an empty bottle of vodka in the sink, and Alex is so glad she brushed her teeth.

“You can't call me like that, Danvers,” Maggie says. She’s still holding tight to Alex’s shirt, rocking back on her heels then surging up for another kiss.

Alex gets that she can’t, but she also doesn't, because Maggie is here, and that's what she wanted. That's why she called. Why shouldn't she call if it's going to get Maggie here?

“I'm going to start thinking you like me.”

Alex rolls her eyes and tries to find the zipper on Maggie’s dress. “I've been fucking you for six months, have you not figured out I like you?”

Maggie relaxes her grip on Alex’s shirt. “You getting soft on me, Danvers?”

“You’re the one who left a date for me, Sawyer.”

“She didn’t have legs like yours,” Maggie says, and pushes Alex’s pants over her hips.

-

Alex is too drunk to keep track of exactly what happens next.

They make it to the bed, pretty quickly. Alex is pantsless, Maggie’s in just a bra and panties, her dress somewhere between the door and the bedroom, Alex doesn’t really remember where.

“I’m not gonna be able to say your name,” Alex says as she mouths along Maggie’s jaw. “My mouth is gonna be a little busy. But you’ll come for me anyway, right, Maggie?”

Maggie nods, is still nodding as Alex slides down her body.

-

Alex doesn’t move after Maggie comes, just mouths at the inside of her thigh to give her a break.

“I could go down on you forever,” Alex says.

“I might let you,” Maggie says.

She doesn’t, in the end. Instead she pushes Alex away after her fifth orgasm, presses her legs tight together like Alex might try to touch her some more.

-

When Maggie finally recovers enough to slide her hand between Alex’s legs, she gasps. “Fuck, you’re wet.”

“I can’t help it,” Alex says, rolling her head back and forth on her pillow as Maggie swipes against her clit. “You’re too hot.”

Maggie slides her fingers inside and Alex comes.

“That was too easy,” Maggie says. “When you worked so hard for me.”

-

Alex can’t figure out how many fingers Maggie has inside of her, but it’s a lot . She’s fucking her, hard and fast and Alex’s entire body is shuddering.

“C’mon, Danvers.”

“I'm trying,” Alex whimpers. She is , she feels so good and she wants to come so bad, but she's also drunk, and it feels impossible.

“It's okay. You're okay,” Maggie murmurs. “Take your time, baby girl.”

Alex all but sobs. She bangs her head backward into her pillow and Maggie pushes closer to her face, makes Alex kiss her. She hasn't slowed down her fingers at all. Alex tries and tries and she’s so close and she cannot come. She feels like crying.

“Baby girl,” Maggie says again, and finally slows, just leaves her fingers inside Alex without moving them. “You don’t have to come. You don’t have to do anything.”

“I want to,” Alex groans. “You feel so good and you’re so good to me and I want to so bad.”

Maggie kisses her. “You’re trying too hard,” she says right against Alex’s face. “Stop worrying about coming and just let me make you feel good.” She flexes her fingers and Alex gasps. “Okay?”

“Okay.”

Maggie goes slow, and Alex doesn’t let herself think. Pleasure washes through her whole body, melting out from everywhere Maggie touches her—her fingers inside, her leg thrown over Alex’s, her chest pressed into Alex’s side, and her mouth, on Alex’s chest, neck, jaw, lips.

“God,” Maggie says. “This is so much better than anything else I could be doing tonight.”

Alex whites out. She thinks Maggie’s talking her through the orgasm but she can’t tell, her hearing’s gone static, her eyes clenched closed. She comes and she comes and she comes, and finally she feels like her body exists again, feels like she can breathe again. Maggie’s fingers slip out of her and she whimpers.

“Jesus Christ, Danvers.” Maggie’s voice sounds as shuddery as Alex feels.

Alex is going to open her eyes in a minute, but for now, the room’s spinning a little. She’s not sure if she’s still drunk or if she came hard enough to make her head spin even though she’s come down. Either seems plausible.

She doesn’t mean to fall asleep. But then she’s waking up as Maggie’s leaning over her. She drops a kiss onto Alex’s forehead and murmurs, “I’ll see you later, okay?”

Alex mmmms and leans up until Maggie kisses her on the mouth.

The next time Alex wakes up, her apartment is quiet. There’s a glass of water next to the bed.

She’s hungover, and mortified. Inviting Maggie over to fuck is one thing but calling, drunk and lonely and desperate? She wishes she had been drunk enough to forget all the stupid things she said when they were fucking. She wants to call Maggie and apologize; she wants to never call Maggie again. She drinks the entire glass of water and burrows back into her pillow.

-

Maggie calls about a case on Monday, acts like nothing’s different, like Alex didn’t call her because she was drunk and lonely. Alex feels like she’s still hungover.

They solve the case by Wednesday, and Maggie never acts like anything’s wrong. She takes Alex out for drinks to celebrate, takes her back to her apartment afterward. Fucking Maggie is supposed to be good, supposed to be release, relaxing. Instead, Alex spends the entire week jittery like she drank too much coffee.

On Friday night, Alex goes to Dolly’s. She’s been around enough to know when the password changes, doesn’t need Maggie to get her in anymore. She sits at a table in the corner and nurses a beer.

They hired a new waitress a couple of weeks back. She’s a pretty redhead who smiles at Alex every time she comes in. Alex thinks about Maggie, out on a date, thinks about Maggie leaving the middle of the night while Alex was too drunk and sated to say anything. Alex smiles back at the redhead.

Her name is Dawn. Alex doesn’t know what kind of alien she is and she doesn’t mind. Alex has learned about different species, has learned not to be immediately suspicious. Dawn might be able to kill her. She asks her when she gets off work anyway.

“Oh,” Dawn says, her face matching her hair. “You’re cute, but…”

“But?” Alex laughs. She thinks Dawn’s flirting, playing hard to get.

“I wouldn’t want to get between anything.”

Alex’s stomach feels like lead. “What?”

“I’ve seen you and your—” She stops at the look on Alex’s face. “I’m new,” is what she goes with instead. “And I wouldn’t want to step on anyone’s toes.”

She goes to wait on someone else before Alex can ask her what the hell she’s talking about.

-

Alex goes to a different bar. A human bar. A seedy little dive bar she hasn’t been to in years. It doesn’t take her fifteen minutes to have a girl on top of the counter in the bathroom, kissing with a little too much enthusiasm. Alex doesn’t even know her name, this woman who’s trying too hard in the bathroom of a shitty bar. Alex puts her hands on her face, slows her down a bit.

“So fuck me,” the woman says.

It’s too much, but Alex unbuttons her pants anyway, slides her hand inside.

The woman talks too much—ooh, there and yeah baby and that feels so good—and for one interminable moment, Alex misses Maggie. Maggie who is so quiet until Alex says please, until Alex says her name, and even then it’s just a gasp and a sigh, Alex might call it a whimper if she didn’t think Maggie would kill her for using that word. She misses Maggie, and then she shuts down that thought and pumps her fingers a little harder.

The woman is too loud when she comes, and Alex leaves before she does her pants back up.

-

Alex ignores Maggie’s calls, snaps at Kara, glowers around the DEO. J’onn pulls her aside to ask what’s wrong and she rolls her eyes at him.

“You’re going to have to pull it together, Alex,” he says. “The NCPD’s got a case and Detective Sawyer needs you.”

She rolls her eyes again. Detective Sawyer does not need her.   

-

Within five minutes of Alex’s arrival, Maggie asks if she woke up on the wrong side of the bed. It doesn’t get much better from there. The day drags on, and every lead they chase is a dead end.

It’s late, and they’re poring over crime scene photos, trying to find something they’ve missed. Alex yawns, and stretches, and looks at Maggie. There’s something on her neck. Alex doesn’t think about it, just looks closer, and—

It’s a hickey.

It’s a hickey on Maggie’s neck that Alex did not put there.

“Jesus, could you be professional?” The words come out of Alex’s mouth before she can think. “Coming to work like that.”

Maggie scratches at her neck immediately, which means she knows exactly what Alex is talking about. Alex wonders if she’s been thinking about it, remembering whoever gave it to her all day.

Alex’s chest feels tight, feels like it did when she woke up from the collapsed lung. It’s been two months, but Alex wonders if she healed right. Maybe she should see a doctor.

“It’s eleven o’clock at night, Danvers,” Maggie says, monotone. “I’m sorry my concealer wore off.”

Alex runs a hand through her hair. Her heart feels like it’s trying to beat its way out of her chest. She swallows.

“You’re right, it’s late,” she says. “I should go. We can do follow-ups in the morning.”

She flees.

She’d like to make herself sound more put together, but that’s what she does—she flees. It takes her three tries to start her bike, her fingers fumbling with the keys.

She takes the long way home. The really long way—drives away from the city, into the emptiness of the desert. It’s supposed to clear her head, being alone under the stars, but she just feels small, and lonely, and stupid.

It gets worse when she gets home and Maggie is leaning against her bike on the street in front of her apartment.

“What are you doing here, Sawyer?”

“We’re having this conversation.”

“We’re not.”

“Alex.”

Fuck. Apparently they’re having this conversation.

“We’re not having it in front of my building.”

Maggie follows her inside, silent the whole way. Alex has no idea how this is going to go. She knows she has no right to be jealous and she was jealous anyway and it’s pathetic, really, that she can’t just accept what they have, but here she is.

She drops her helmet on the table just inside her door, stalks across the room, and turns around toward Maggie.

Maggie closes the door behind her, locks it. She sets her helmet next to Alex’s, where she always puts her helmet, because she’s over enough to have a regular spot for it.

And then Maggie stares at her. Maggie stares at her and Alex has worked with her long enough to know this is how Maggie interrogates sometimes, just sits there and looks until the person talks. Alex has always thought people it worked on were stupid and weak, but she must be, too, because  it’s less than a minute of Maggie staring at her before she talks.

“Look,” Alex says, rolling her eyes. “You’ve got a hickey I didn’t put there and I got jealous. It’s stupid and irrational and you can fuck whoever you want. I’ll get over it.”

Maggie keeps staring at her. Alex’s chest feels tight and maybe she really should be worried about her lung.

“I know I shouldn’t care,” she says. “And I don’t. It was a—a momentary lapse.”

Maggie looks at her the way she looks at perps who are lying to her, but Alex isn’t lying. She doesn’t care. She was just exhausted and not thinking and—

“Maybe I want you to care.”

“What?”

Maggie’s looking at her the way she looked at her when Alex woke up in medical. “For God’s sake, Danvers, I’ve been trying to date you for months.”

That—that doesn’t make any sense. Alex opens and closes her mouth a few times.

“Excuse me?”

“I thought maybe you’d figure it out when you almost died, or when you were drunk and called me and ruined my entire night because fuck if I could think about anything but you after that.”

Alex wonders if she’s hallucinating. It’s midnight and she’s tired, has been tired for weeks, it feels like. Maybe Maggie’s not even here. Because this doesn’t make sense. Maggie had a girlfriend when they started this. Maggie still goes on dates. Maggie gets hickeys from other people. Maggie doesn’t want her, not like this.

Alex digs her fingernails into her arm and closes her eyes. When she opens them again, Maggie’s still there, looking at her like she’s breakable.

“But you—” Alex tries. Swallows, tries again, “Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

Maggie shrugs, nonchalant while Alex feels like she’s about to implode. “I didn’t want to spook you.”

“What? I don’t—I don’t spook.”

“You do, and that’s okay,” Maggie says. “Fuck, you scared the shit out of me at first—still kind of do, to be honest.”

Alex’s heart feels like it’s in her throat, feels like she can taste it.

“I scare you? Why?”

“Because you’re hot and smart and capable and I want to date you, which is terrifying.” Maggie finally stops looking at her when she says this, looks at her shoes instead. “I didn’t know how to make you want to date me, too.”

“So you dated other people?”

Maggie looks back up at her, grins. “Hey, it worked, didn’t it?”

Alex’s head spins. She thought—she did not expect the conversation to go like this.

“It did work, right?” Maggie says. “I’m not misreading this entire conversation? You want to…”

She trails off, and she looks nervous, and Alex realizes Maggie might actually be just as scared as she is.

“I want to,” Alex says immediately. “The, uh, the dating thing? Yeah, I want to do that.”

“The dating thing?” Maggie doesn’t quite smirk, but she’s got the sparkle in her eye like she wants to.

“Dating you,” Alex says. “I want to date you.”

Maggie grins, dimples on full display, and Alex digs her fingernails into her arms again. Apparently this is actually happening.

“I am...completely spooked,” Alex says.

Maggie laughs, and steps forward, wraps her arms around Alex. Alex’s steel spine melts. She dissolves into the hug.

“So we’ll be spooked together,” Maggie says.