Rough hands grabbed Alex and sharp nails dug into her shoulders.
The world spun.
Dropping to her knees, Alex fought nausea as fire burned through her veins and her vision dimmed. Then she was released, and the alien she had chased for five blocks was running away again. She staggered to her feet, or tried to, but only succeeded in getting a foot on the ground to brace herself as another wave of dizziness struck and she pitched forward.
Alex shook her head, trying to clear the ringing in her ears and the lingering darkness around the edges of her vision. Strong hands, familiar hands, caught her arm, pulling her to her feet with negligent ease. Alex felt the weight of her tactical gear in her knees as she stood. Sweat dripped between her shoulder blades, even though the early October day had been brisk earlier.
Why was it so hot?
“What the hell just happened?” Alex stopped, blinked, took in her sister, and blinked again. “Kara, what... are you... wearing?”
Kara looked down at the gaudy costume with her family crest emblazoned across her chest, a vague facsimile of her cousin’s. “What do you mean? It’s my Supergirl outfit.” Her eyes narrowed, and she did an x-ray sweep over Alex. “Alex, what’s wrong?”
“Your…. Supergirl….?” Squeezing her eyes shut, Alex rubbed at her temple, but all the action did was bring about another wave of nausea and disorientation.
“Alex…?” Warm fingers wrapped around her bicep as she swayed.
Glancing around the unfamiliar warehouse, Alex saw agents clearing side rooms carefully. “This is a DEO mission. Why are you here? On a DEO mission? How do you even know about the DEO?”
“Alex, we’ve been working together at the DEO for more than a year, almost two. Remember?”
“No… no, I don’t.”
It was early summer when they stepped outside, the cold hazy day Alex remembered from earlier swept away.
The skyline of National City was… off, and Alex fought a sense of vertigo brought on by the subtle wrongness as Kara–no, not Kara, Supergirl–flew her through the city. It had been so long since they had flown together, or maybe it hadn’t. She didn’t really know. It would have been nice, Kara’s strong grip on her, the wind on her face, if it hadn’t been for that.
That alien had apparently scrambled her brain.
“This is the downtown office,” Alex muttered as Kara landed on the balcony. “When did I start working here?”
Alex wasn’t freaked out, not yet. She was sure that would come later. Right now, she was too preoccupied with analyzing the sensation of deja vu and cataloging the differences between her last memories and now.
Like the weird gun she had in her holster and a cut on her hand that hadn’t been there before. Following her sister down the stairs, Alex caught a glimpse of herself in the glass and saw her hair, redder and curled, and she wondered when she had started doing that.
“A few months ago.” Kara couldn’t hide the worry in her voice as she headed toward the command console, where Hank was huddled with a couple of civilians. They all turned as the sisters approached, and the dark-haired man looked vaguely familiar, but the other… Alex drew a blank.
A gold shield on her belt peeked out from under her black leather jacket. A detective. NCPD. Since when did the DEO work with local cops? Alex’s eyes lingered on the woman for a moment, on the long black hair that looked soft and silky, and deep, expressive eyes that Alex felt like she could drown in.
For a long moment, Alex forgot to breathe, and she had no idea why.
“Ah, good, Supergirl. Alex.” Hank said her name hesitantly, and Alex’s attention snapped back to the situation at hand. “How are you feeling?”
“A little like Rip Van Winkle, sir.” She straightened and crossed her hands behind her back in a modified position of parade rest. “Do we know what that alien was and what it did to me?“
Hank eyed her sadly, and when he spoke again, his tone was more formal and commanding. “What’s the last thing you remember, Agent Danvers?”
“I dunno. Work?” Alex shrugged noncommittally. “It all blends together.”
“She doesn’t remember I'm Supergirl,” Kara chimed in.
“Do you remember a specific event or a date?”
Alex searched her memory before shaking her head. Work was really all she did, and Hank should know that.
He rubbed his chin thoughtfully, and then asked, “What was the last alien you brought in?”
“Oh, the Saturnian, Jemm, with the weird crystal in the forehead.” Her voice picked up as she recounted the particularly impressive takedown. “You remember, I rappelled out of the helicopter and stunned him with a bean bag round to the head before he could take down any more members of the squad.” Alex’s gaze drifted, involuntarily, to the detective, unsure why she wanted to see if her story had an affect on her.
A small smile graced her lips, and she nodded reassuringly, and Alex smiled back before she could help herself. This small interaction caught everyone’s attention, and all eyes were suddenly, intently, watching them both.
“I, ah, I’m sorry, I’m sure we’ve met, but…” Alex stuck out her hand, and the light seeped out of the woman’s eyes as they fixed first on her hand and then her face.
“Detective Maggie Sawyer,” said the other woman, smoothly cutting off whatever Kara was about to say. “NCPD Science Division.”
“Alex, but you, ah,” Alex fought the urge to fidget, “probably already know that already. Sorry,” she finished, lamely.
Maggie caught her hand with a strong grip and shook firmly. The touch set off a cascade of sparks along Alex’s spine, and her eyes narrowed in confusion. Jesus, what had that alien done to her? “I....”
“Found it!” Startled, Alex dropped Maggie’s hand and swung to the other civilian. He swiped the surface of the tablet and a picture of an alien with bluish skin flashed on the screens. “Is this the alien, Alex?”
“Winn,” he supplied helpfully, and Alex nodded. Winn, Kara’s computer genius friend from CatCo. Who was apparently now working at the DEO.
“It’s an Iebbah,” Hank said thoughtfully.
“Is that a good thing?” Detective Sawyer asked, and Alex’s gaze was drawn to her once again. She was the wildcard in this whole thing. Who was she? Why was she here? Alex knew she was missing something big, something vital, but she had no idea of what.
“It could be worse. The species injects a neurotoxin to confuse and disorient prey, and it has been known to use it as a defensive mechanism when cornered. Most accounts say that the effects dissipate after a period of time.”
“But?” Alex prompted when Hank didn’t continue.
“The toxin has never been tested with human physiology, so there’s no way of knowing…” He glanced significantly at Alex, and then at Kara, and then the detective.
“If it will dissipate or when,” Alex finished for him, reading his hesitation. “It could have all kinds of unanticipated side effects given its unknown nature. It could have a degenerative effect on the human brain or...” She met Hank’s gaze squarely, preparing to launch into more worse-case scenarios until she caught the stricken look on her sister’s face before glancing to her left, to the detective. If anything, Sawyer’s expression was even more distraught than Kara’s, and it threw Alex for a loop.
“Or your memory could be back in just a few days and you’ll be fine,” Winn suggested. “That’s possible too, right?”
“Yes, of course” Alex replied quickly, struggling to read the room as she looked between Kara and… Maggie. “I should draw, I mean, I should get blood drawn so we can run some tests. There still should be some residue of the toxin in my blood, so the sooner I get it drawn, the better.”
Hank nodded. “Good idea, Agent Danvers. We’ll continue to investigate, and I’ll send a team to see if we can hunt down that alien.”
Gathering Kara in a hug, Alex squeezed as hard as she could in hopes her sister could feel it. “I’ll be okay, I promise.” She turned to head to the lab, hesitating by Maggie. The shorter woman had a brave smile on her face for Alex, but her eyes were bright with unshed tears.
Alex felt her heart constrict at the defeated slump of Maggie’s shoulders. “I’ll be okay,” she repeated, her fingers twitching as she fought to urge to run her hand over Maggie’s shoulder. “You’ll see.”
“Never had any doubt.” Her smile widened for a brief moment, and Alex caught a flash of dimples marking her cheeks. “See you around, Danvers.”
At least she hadn’t moved. That would have been weird. Alex had spent the better part of the afternoon analyzing the remnants of the toxin they were able to isolate from her blood, and, with every negative result, Kara’s smile had brightened. Finally, Kara had dragged Alex out of the lab and back to her apartment for pizza, only leaving when Alex had feigned a huge yawn and told her she was tired.
In truth, she wanted solitude to explore her apartment in peace.
She prowled around her apartment, noting every discrepancy like an archeologist analyzing a dig. Finally, she flopped back on the couch, her body tired but her mind still buzzing.
A pair of impossibly dark eyes swam into her head, and she sighed. Kara had answered a lot of her questions about the DEO, about Supergirl, and even about Winn and Catco, but she had only explained the dark-haired detective was a liaison of sorts between the DEO and the police, and she was a friend.
Rolling her head back to stare at the ceiling, Alex willed her mind to behave, willed her memories to come back, but the last twenty months were as blank as the white expanse of the ceiling. She grabbed her phone and searched, finding Maggie Sawyer on her speed-dial list, along with her address.
A second later, Alex was pulling on her leather jacket and heading out the door.
“Alex!” Maggie flashed her a broad smile with honest-to-god dimples as she opened the door.
Alex smiled in return, drinking the other woman’s presence in like the summertime sun. Some of the feeling of wrongness receded from her gut, and for the first time in hours, Alex relaxed, leaning a shoulder against the doorframe and folding her arms across her chest.
“Hey.” Maggie rested against the door, mirroring her pose. “What are you doing here?” Concern clouded her features, and Alex missed the smile and the dimples immediately. “Are you… are you starting to remember?”
“Can I come in?”
“Yeah, of course.” Maggie swung the door wider, and Alex stepped past her, feeling Maggie’s eyes on her back as she glanced around the unfamiliar space. “You aren’t, are you? You don’t remember.” Her voice was immeasurably sad.
Alex sighed as she turned, drifting closer to Maggie before she spoke. “No, not... not yet.”
The light in Maggie’s eyes dimmed and died, her gaze fixing on the floor, and the loss of that spark broke Alex’s heart. Something in her hated to see Maggie sad, and before she knew what she was doing, Alex closed the remaining distance between them in a rush, catching Maggie’s face in her hands and pressing their lips together.
It was breathtaking, the way Maggie melted into the kiss, into her, her hands sliding around Alex’s shoulders with an ease and familiarity… with an intimacy... that Alex couldn’t remember experiencing before. But obviously she had… with Maggie.
It felt so right to tilt Maggie’s head back and slide her tongue between those full lips and deepen the kiss. Her exploration was met with a low moan and Maggie’s body arching into hers, and Alex didn’t need memories, just her body’s response, to know to slide her arm around Maggie’s waist and crush their bodies together, impossibly tight.
When their lips parted, Alex kept her eyes closed for a long breath. She wanted to stay there, surrounded by the scent of Maggie’s shampoo and burned by the heat between them. She rested her forehead against Maggie’s and tried to make sense of the deluge of emotions running through her.
The husky tone in Maggie’s voice sparked a deep-seated need, and Alex was already searching for another kiss. A firm hand on Alex’s shoulder stopped her, and she sighed.
“What... what’s going on?”
Alex eased back so she could see Maggie’s eyes. “There’s two toothbrushes in my bathroom,” she explained. “Body lotion that smells like you.” Dropping her hands from Maggie’s waist, Alex stepped back and started to pace, listing the points one-by-one. “A bonsai tree. Gross ice cream in the freezer. Jeans and t-shirts that are way too small for me. It’s you. You’re all over my apartment.” Alex spun, facing Maggie once more. “You… you’re my... girlfriend.”
Maggie tilted her head to the side, her eyes soft but her tone light-hearted and joking. “You got all that from ice cream and a toothbrush? i don’t know if I should be impressed or disturbed, Danvers.”
“It’s not just that,” Alex replied stepping closer again and invading Maggie’s space, happy that Maggie let her. “It’s the fact that I couldn’t take my eyes off of you at the DEO.” Her fingers wound through Maggie’s hair and it was just as silky as she had hoped. “And the fact that I kept wanting to touch you. At work. In front of my boss.” A sudden thought made her chuckle. “Am I insufferably touchy-feely with you?”
A delighted laugh bubbled up from Maggie’s throat, and Alex knew she never wanted to stop hearing that sound. “Not insufferably so, but, yes, you do like to touch.”
Alex ran her fingertips down the column of Maggie’s throat, watching in fascination as Maggie swallowed roughly. She never imagined she could have that kind of effect on someone. “I probably can’t believe you’re mine… I mean, you are, right? We are dating, and I didn’t just make a fool of myself by jumping to the wrong conclusion?”
Maggie’s smile was impossibly wide as she shook her head. “No, we’re dating. We have been for about six months And I have to say, you are taking this whole ‘I’m gay’ thing a lot better this time, Danvers.”
Alex shrugged. “Probably cuz it already happened.”
“That’s an interesting rationalization.”
“I am a scientist.” Alex’s fingers hooked on Maggie’s belt loops, dragging their bodies closer together. Dropping her chin, Alex caught Maggie’s mouth with her own, thrilled by Maggie kissing her back with equal passion. This time, the moan came from her as Maggie slid her hand under Alex’s shirt and teased her fingers up Alex’s spine.
“Is it… always like this?” Alex asked, her breath ragged and self-control in tatters. She dipped her head again, but Maggie avoided her and stepped out of the embrace. “Maggie?”
“We should… slow down.” Alex collapsed back against the kitchen island, watching as Maggie pulled two glasses out of the cupboard and poured them both a finger of Scotch. She slid one over to Alex and picked up her own, toying with the glass and swirling the liquid but not drinking.
Sobered, Alex took a sip, waiting on Maggie to speak, but Maggie seemed content to let the silence stretch. Finally, Alex couldn’t take it any longer and asked the question that had been bugging her all evening. “I don’t understand why someone didn’t tell me we were dating.”
“Because I told them not to.”
Sighing, Maggie walked toward the living room, rubbing her hands together, and stopped in the middle of the room, her back to Alex. Alex followed, stopping just shy of Maggie and resisting the urge to run her hands over Maggie’s shoulders.
“You were disoriented, confused. You didn’t remember your sister becoming Supergirl, much less what happened… with us. It didn’t, it didn’t seem like the right time.”
“When would have been the right time?”
Maggie slid a hand through her hair with another sigh. “I don’t know.”
A sudden fear gripped Alex. “What would you have done if I never remembered?”
“I don’t know.”
This time, Alex didn’t resist. She slid her hands over Maggie’s shoulders and down her arms, catching Maggie’s fingers where they were knitting restlessly. “Please tell me you weren’t thinking about never telling me. About walking away.”
Panic caught her right in the gut, and tears sprang to Alex’s eyes. But Maggie was shaking in her arms, and Alex pressed a kiss to her hair. “This isn’t just about me, is it? You were afraid.”
Maggie choked back a sob and nodded her head. Alex wrapped both their arms around Maggie, squeezing their bodies together as she tried to imagine what Maggie had to be thinking. “You were afraid,” she repeated slowly. “What if I denied what happened? Denied I was gay? Turned on you?” Alex clung to Maggie, tightening her grip. “Oh, Maggie.”
“You didn’t remember... us. You still don’t.” Tears were streaking down Maggie’s face, and she pulled her hand from Alex’s to wipe at her face, and Alex knew, even without the memory of Maggie’s history and their life together, that speaking about herself was hard for Maggie. “This…the reason you came here, it’s not about us. You were just trying to solve a puzzle. Like you said, you’re a scientist.”
“No, Alex.” Maggie squirmed out of her grip, making a sharp chopping motion with her hand. “I’m sorry, I got, carried away with you, just now, I guess, hoping that maybe…” her words trailed off.
“Maybe what?” Alex moved in front of her and tilted her head, but Maggie was steadfastly avoiding her eyes. “Maybe I would remember?”
“It’s stupid,” Maggie spat; she was folded in on herself, hugging her arms across her body as she took an unsteady breath that ended with a choked sob.
“Maggie…” Alex ran her fingers through Maggie’s hair to raise her head. Her dark eyes were bright with tears, but she didn’t pull away again. Cupping her cheek, Alex searched for words, afraid that if she said the wrong thing, it would shatter them, shatter her.
“You know what this is like? It’s like I’m two people. There’s the me who I remember waking up as this morning, who I saw in the mirror when I brushed my teeth… But that ‘this morning’ was months ago. Then there’s this me who everyone else remembers, this me who I don’t recognize… I don’t remember why I decided to start curling my hair or how I got this scar on my leg or even what I had for breakfast.”
“Bagel, coffee, and then three donuts because Kara stopped by,” Maggie supplied with a small, sad smile. “You eat like shit, Danvers.”
“Do I really eat vegan ice cream?” Alex’s nose crinkled as she contemplated the thought. “Cuz gross.”
“Would you believe me if I told you you like it?”
“Absolutely not!” They shared a quiet laugh, and Alex’s heart swelled. She still wasn’t sure how it was possible, but this woman, and her happiness, meant the world to Alex. She would die rather than see her sad. “And I know everyone expects me to act like the present Alex, but I’m not her, not… right now.” Maggie stiffened and started to pull away. “But Maggie…” she breathed, and Maggie stilled. “There’s one thing that makes me feel whole, that lets me… bridge between the two.” Maggie’s expression was careful, guarded, as she searched Alex’s face. “It’s you.”
“Me?” Maggie scoffed. ”You didn’t even know me twenty months ago.”
“I know, it doesn’t make any sense and I can’t explain it, it’s like, I don’t remember the events, the stuff that happened before, but… I remember you. I remember is my feelings for you. I look at you, and,” Alex shrugged her shoulder helplessly. “I can’t describe it, but I just feel it, this connection, and it pulls those fractured pieces of me back together.”
Maggie’s gaze shifted to the floor before fixing on Alex again, and if anything, she looked even more vulnerable, more scared, than before. Like feeling hope was terrifying, and Alex wished she could remember what had hurt Maggie so badly, so deeply, that she seemed afraid to have someone care for her.
“Maggie, you need to believe, even if… if I never remember, I’ll still be here. With you. I love you.” Panic spiked in Alex’s chest as she realized what she had just said. “Oh god, we are at that place, right? I mean, I’ve said… that… before? Right? I didn’t just…”
Maggie caught Alex’s hand, keeping her close as she tried to pull away. “Yes, Alex, we are at that place. You said that a couple of weeks ago for the first time.”
“Whew,” Alex joked, but she eyed Maggie speculatively, and Maggie tilted her head to the side and smiled, reading her gaze.
“And yes, I said it back. I love you, so much.” This time, Maggie initiated the kiss, using their joined hands to tug Alex to her, her fingers curling around Alex’s neck to draw her head down. The kiss was soft and sweet compared to the heat earlier, but it was so full of promise that it brought tears to Alex’s eyes. “So very much,” Maggie muttered against her lips.
The kiss ended, but Alex rested her forehead against Maggie’s, just breathing her in and feeling grounded and solid for the first time since Kara picked her up off the floor of the warehouse. “You believe me? Memory or no memory, we’re in this together?”
“Ride or die,” Maggie affirmed as she rubbed her hands along Alex’s shoulders. “I just… it’s hard to believe. From the moment you looked at me in the DEO, no recognition, no nothing in your eyes, I just…”
Alex wrapped her in a tight hug, noticing how their bodies fit together, the brush of Maggie’s hair against her cheek, the smell of her lotion. She tucked these away, deep in her mind, determined to create new memories even if the old never returned. “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere,” she promised as Maggie began to shake in her arms.
“I’m sorry,” Maggie said, her voice muffled against Alex’s shoulder. “You are the one who had a traumatic day, and I’m the one breaking down.”
“Shh, it’s okay.” Alex soothed Maggie’s hair down her back, luxuriating in the softness. “I think in some ways, it was more traumatic for you than for me.”
“That’s silly. You…”
Alex shushed her, rocking Maggie in her arms for another minute or two before leaning back to meet her eyes, her fingers still restlessly stroking Maggie’s hair. “Like you said, for me, it was like a puzzle. I focused on analyzing the differences and trying to put pieces together.”
“You lost your memories.”
“But I didn’t, I dunno, realize what I had lost, the magnitude of what I had lost. But you and Kara and everyone, you knew what I lost.” She tucked a strand of hair that had fallen down into Maggie’s eyes behind her ear, smiling at herself. “I love your hair. Have I told you that before?”
Maggie shook her head, an answering smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. “How do you do it, Danvers? I was sitting here, alone, thinking I had lost the best thing to happen to me in my life, and you just show up, out of the blue....”
“I’m the best thing in your life?” Alex swallowed as emotions welled up in her chest.
“Yeah, Danvers, you are.”
The ability to speak went out the window as Maggie’s smile widened and lit her eyes. She wondered how long she had fought against her attraction to this woman or naively assumed they were just friends. It couldn’t have been long, could it?
Ales pressed a kiss to those irresistible lips until a tiny bubble of laughter burst through. “I have a girlfriend,” she said, and she didn’t even try to keep the dreaminess from her voice.
Laughing a little at her silliness, Maggie caught one of her hands and swung it between them. “Yeah, yeah, you do.”
“It’s weird, I woke up on this dreary, dull, October day, and now it’s sunshine and summer and I have a girlfriend…” A sudden thought hit. “Let’s go for ice cream. Then we can come back and cuddle on the couch and you can tell me all the things I’ve forgotten and all about you….”
“All the things, huh?”
“Yeah, and then we’ll go to bed with you cuddled in my arms.”
“Hate to break it to you, but I’m the big spoon.”
“That doesn’t seem right.”
Maggie smirked. “It just worked out that way. Can we go for vegan ice cream?”
“Gross. You know, there are some things I don’t have to remember. I wonder if there’s a way to manufacture that toxin for selective....”
The gentle teasing, said with a gleam in her eye, melted Alex’s heart just a little bit more. She wondered if it always felt that way, always made her want to laugh and wrap Maggie in her arms.
“I’m going to get my memory back,” she vowed. “If no other reason than to remember every moment with you.”
Maggie sobered a little, a hint of vulnerability seeping back into her eyes. “Yeah?” she asked quietly.
“Yeah.” It sounded like a promise, and Alex sealed it with a kiss before knitting their fingers together and tugging Maggie toward the door. “Come on, let’s go get our ice cream.”