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The first time Maggie kisses Alex, Alex cries.

 

She doesn't mean to, and she's embarrassed and flustered and she doesn't know why she has to be so bad at this, but she sure as hell is glad they're alone in Alex’s apartment.

 

When Maggie kisses her, Alex can't help but feel it's like she's been kissed for the first time, even if that is such a goddamn cliché. Before, when Alex still let men kiss her, it was rough and messy and she hated it every time. Hated the way they grabbed at her, hated the way their stubble felt against her face, hated everything about the way it felt. But Maggie is different—her lips are soft and her touch is gentle and she holds Alex in her arms lightly, as though Alex is delicate and might break if she grips her too tightly.

 

Alex crumbles, anyway.

 

When the tears start to fall, Maggie pulls away. She looks almost afraid, as though she thinks she's done something wrong. “What's the matter?” she murmurs, eyes searching Alex for a reason.

 

Alex sniffs. She's not like this—she's not vulnerable like this, not to anyone, and this is terrifying—and she shakes her head. “It's not—I just… it's not wrong, there's nothing wrong, it's just—this is… this is what it's supposed to feel like,” she whispers. “It feels right .”

 

Maggie smiles—smiles that sunny, understanding smile—before she leans forward and kisses Alex again. She kisses her once before she presses her lips to Alex’s wet cheeks and pulls her close to hug her. Alex’s hands fist in the back of Maggie’s shirt, and she relaxes into the detective’s tight embrace.

 

“It's okay,” Maggie tells her. “It's okay not to be ready for everything.”

 

“But I want to be,” Alex says. She buries her face in Maggie’s shoulder. She doesn't know why she's crying—this is perfect, this is what she wants. “I should be.”

 

“You're not perfect,” Maggie tells her. “But you don't have to be. No one is.”

 

Then Alex really cries—lets out a sob into Maggie’s shoulder that she didn't know she had in her. It's the first time someone has told her she didn't need to be perfect.

 

The first time Alex and Maggie hold hands, it's late and they're off duty. They've just had a few drinks and they're walking to one of those 24-hour diners and it's Maggie that slips her hand into Alex’s and interlocks their fingers.

 

It's late, and there's nobody around, but Alex still stiffens. She still feels a rush of fear at the touch, and Maggie must sense it, since she pulls away just as quickly as she had reached out.

 

“Sorry,” Maggie says. She smiles at Alex, still as understanding and patient as ever, and it makes Alex’s heart ache. “Should've asked.”

 

Alex glances over her shoulder before she grabs Maggie’s hand and clutches it like she might lose her if she doesn't hold on tight enough. “It's cold,” she explains. “It—my hands are cold.”

 

Maggie just hums in acknowledgement and her smile deepens. Alex doesn't stop holding her hand until they reach the diner, but as soon as they leave, it’s Alex that reaches out first and grabs Maggie again.

 

The first time Maggie stays at Alex’s apartment, it’s late and they’ve been drinking and Alex tells her to stay.

 

“You shouldn't be driving,” Alex says. She reaches out for Maggie’s hand as she starts to move off the couch. “You had, what, three beers?”

 

Maggie just chuckles a little before she leans back on the couch. “What, you worried about me?”

 

Alex smiles. “I… also might just want you to stay. It gets lonely here, sometimes.”

 

Maggie doesn't argue, doesn't seem to be annoyed or put-off by Alex asking for her to stay, and she presses her lips to Alex’s cheek in a quick peck before she stands. “Let's go to bed, then,” she says. “I'm pretty tired.”

 

Alex has never done this—never slept with a girl in her bed. When she was young, her sleepovers were done with sleeping bags in living rooms, and when she still tried to date—when she still thought sleeping with men was a possibility—she rarely spent the night, and if she did, she slept rigidly on the end of the bed, as far out of their reach as she possibly could be.

 

Maggie slides into the bed next to Alex, and Alex doesn't know what to do. She wants to touch Maggie, to feel Maggie, but she's never done this. The only girl she has ever held is Kara, and that is so, so different than this. She shouldn't be nervous just to sleep , but she is, and she finds herself lying there as still and quiet as she would with any other person.

 

Maggie’s eyes are on her for a few long moments. She says nothing, as though only waiting to see what Alex will do. Finally, she moves closer and slowly wraps her arm around Alex’s waist.

 

Alex stiffens. Her throat is tight and her chest feels like there's a weight on it. But Maggie’s touch, as always, is so gentle and warm and feels so right , and it doesn't take long for a deep sigh to escape her as she relaxes into the embrace.

 

“Move your arm,” Maggie complains, muffled by Alex’s shoulder. “I want to hold you.”

 

Alex shifts so that she lifts her arm, and Maggie moves in closer, tucking herself into Alex under her arm. She tightens her hold around Alex’s waist and lays her head on Alex’s chest. Alex is sure that Maggie can hear the rapid, heavy pounding of her heart like this, but Maggie only smiles as she always does and hums in contentment.

 

Alex never realized how this could feel—how it felt to be hold and be held. This was its own intimacy, and it was a form of intimacy she had never appreciated. But this, now, being held and feeling right , Alex has never felt more comfortable. She rolls over so that she can wrap her arm around Maggie, and Maggie lets out a quiet mmm before burying her face in Alex’s chest.

 

Alex sighs again as she settles into this position. “Your hair smells nice,” she murmurs.

 

Maggie laughs into Alex’s chest, and Alex just tightens her hold on her.

 

Alex thinks that she wouldn't hate to sleep like this every night.

 

The first time Maggie tells Alex she loves her, it's after she's just yelled at her for being a fucking idiot.

 

To clarify, it’s after Alex has been under the knife for six hours, suffering from six fractured ribs, a bullet wound in her side, and a bullet in her leg. Logically, realistically, statistically, she shouldn't have survived. The first bullet had barely missed her internal organs, but she’d lost a lot of blood. It takes two days for Alex to wake up.

 

When she does, it isn't Kara there. It isn't even J’onn, or anyone who actually worked in the DEO, where she seemed to be resting—it is Maggie, and for once, Maggie isn't smiling.

 

Maggie has her nose buried in a book before she sees Alex’s open eyes. She has clearly been in this small room for a while—her shoes are off, and a packed bag sits in the corner.

 

Before anything else, Alex notices Maggie, and her heart aches.

 

...And then she realizes her chest fucking hurts, and she lets out a groan.

 

Maggie drops the book and her head shoots up. “Oh my god. Alex.”

 

It's the first time Alex has heard Maggie say her first name. Before, it's always been ‘Sawyer’ and ‘Danvers’, and while it’s never made Alex uncomfortable, hearing her name now, while she’s got an IV stuck in her arm and more layers of gauze on her than she’d like to count, just makes her smile more than she has in days.

 

“Alex,” Maggie chokes out again, as she stands and crosses the room. Alex tries to sit up, but Maggie keeps her still, pushing her back down by the shoulders. “Fuck, Alex… I thought you were going to die.”

 

Alex smiles, weakly, but she falters as she sees the tears brimming in Maggie’s eyes. “You getting soft on me?” Alex asks, quietly. She's trying to be funny, but her chest hurts—hurts from the literal injured ribs, hurts from the dark bruises she’s sure to have, hurts from the way she can feel Maggie’s hands tremble as they press against Alex’s cheeks, holding her.

 

“Shut up!” Maggie suddenly shouts, and Alex jolts. “I thought you were fucking dead. Do you hear me? I thought you were going to die. You fucking idiot, why did you go in with no backup? Do you have any idea how worried I've been?” She pulls her shaking hands away to wipe her face. “You fucking asshole. I thought you were dead.”

 

Alex reaches out for her hand—it's just about the only movement she can make that doesn't hurt—and holds it tight. “I'm sorry,” she whispers. “I'm so sorry. How long have I been here?”

 

Maggie sniffs, and her voice still shakes, but she doesn't pull her hand back. She grips Alex’s hand as tight as she can, until Alex worries she might break her fingers. “Two days,” she explains. “But you were operated on for… six hours, I think.” She lowers herself so she can kneel on the floor, and is eye-to-eye with Alex. “You fucking idiot,” she repeats. “I thought I lost you. You can't do that to me. I love you, and I thought—” her words trail off and her eyes widen as she realizes what she’s said.

 

“What?” Alex asks. She is stunned—Maggie, tough, hardass, incredible Maggie, loves her.

 

“I…” It's the first time Alex has ever seen Maggie flustered. It has always been the other way around; with Alex being the one stuttering and stammering until Maggie smiles and laughs and tells her not to worry. She's never seen Maggie at a loss for words.

 

“I’m–I'm so sorry,” Maggie finally says. “I didn't… I didn't mean to say it like this.”

 

‘Didn't mean to say it like this,’ could mean a lot of things, Alex figures. Either Maggie had been thinking about this for a while, thinking about loving Alex, or she hadn't meant to say it at all.

 

“Did you mean it, though?” Alex asks, quietly. She wants her to mean it, god , she wants her to mean it.

 

Maggie is quiet, unsettlingly quiet. Her brows furrow in the way that Alex has grown to know gives away her worry, her anxiety, and Alex swallows.

 

“Yeah,” Maggie admits. She smiles, but it isn't the same. It's a small smile, one of both an almost childlike innocence and a fear of rejection, and Alex can't help but smile back. “I guess I did. I've been in love with you for a while.”

 

Alex doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. Like most things, she hasn't done this before—hasn't loved a woman with all she had, with all of her being—and this is probably the most terrifying thing of it all.

 

Alex doesn't know whether to laugh or cry, so she does both. She chokes out a laugh as her own tears start to fall and she pulls Maggie in to kiss her until she pushes her away for the sake of her chest.

 

“Ouch, shit,” Alex groans. And then they both laugh, both laugh at their own tears and this mess of a situation and Alex squeezes Maggie’s hand and tells her, “I love you, too.”

 

The first time Alex kisses Maggie in public, it isn't late. It's just after one in the afternoon and they have just gotten lunch while taking a break from working a case.

 

It isn't late, and they aren't alone, and they're standing by their motorcycles while they talk over what they need to be doing.

 

“...Right, so I'll hit up the dive bar for any tips…”

 

“...And I'll see if I can dig up anything at the DEO,” Alex finishes. “See you after? Say… five?”

 

“I'll bring the takeout,” Maggie agrees.

 

“Great.”

 

They both stand there, neither eager to leave. Finally, after they've both looked at the ground, looked at the sky, and stared at each other, Alex shakes her head and laughs. “Okay, I do actually need to get going.”

 

Alex doesn't think about it, and she doesn't look over her shoulder to see who’s watching. She pulls Maggie in quickly to kiss her, and Maggie leans into her, hands gripping Alex’s hips for a few long moments.

 

It's the first time Alex doesn't care—doesn't care if anyone sees them, doesn't care if she's never done this before, doesn't care about what she should do.

 

It's the first time that Alex doesn't feel afraid.