You know that I could use somebody
Someone like you…
... I hope it's gonna make you notice
Someone like me
‘Use Somebody’ Kings of Leon/Pixie Lott
It had been a relatively minor thing that had caught her out, in the end. Minor in the grand scheme of things. It could have been far worse, something could have gone wrong on a mission and given her away. A delayed reaction or some such.
Belligerence, when the officer pulled her over for running an intersection, probably hadn’t been wise, but she had needed to buy time as if he breathalysed her now, she was fucked.
Flashing her (fake) FBI badge hadn’t helped and the whole thing had escalated until she was at the station, looking at a blood test.
She really didn't want to call J’onn to bail her out, for a second time, but showing her credentials had led to a call to her former superior officer.
He didn’t speak, the entire drive back to her apartment. Not a single word, until they stood outside her door, when he handed her a sheet of paper.
“Court?!” Alex exploded.
J’onn looked around, conscious that it was 3am and that the neighbours wouldn't appreciate being woken up by Alex’s yelling.
“What the fuck, J’onn? I thought you’d fixed it with that paper pushing jobsworth?”
“When they test your blood for alcohol, they also test for drugs.”
“Oh.” Alex deflated.
“Yes. Oh.” He frowned at her, hands on his hips.
“I knew you were struggling, after Malverne. I understood that you were having more than the odd drink Alex. I thought you would get a grip on it on your own, in time, but your blood chemistry was practically a pharmacy.”
His tone dropped it’s harsh edge, and became coloured with concern.
“I spoke to the arresting officer’s supervisor and explained that you really are a federal agent and were, usually, pretty responsible. He’s going to push for rehab.”
Alex’s gaze shot up and she stared at him in wide eyed horror.
“I will tell the rest of the DEO simply that you are on medical leave, but you’ll need to talk to Kara.”
Alex watched him go, in absolute shock, frozen in place for long moments, the paper dangling forgotten from her hand. It slid to the floor, snapping her out of the trance.
She snatched it up and swore as she tried to get through the front door, hands shaking so violently her keys hit the ground twice.
Eventually making it inside, she dumped them and her paperwork on the counter. Habit had her snatching up the tumbler from where it sat next to an open bottle of scotch.
“FUCK!” She screamed as it shattered against the far wall.
She scooped up the bottle and stalked off to bed, taking deep swigs from it as she went.
The sunlight was too bright as an obnoxiously loud noise roused her from sleep the next morning.
The frantic hammering on the door was replaced by a resounding, and clearly angry, voice.
“Alex. Alex, open this door.”
Alex groaned, rolling over, arm flung over her face against the harsh daylight. She fervently hoped if she ignored her sister, she might go away and leave her in peace. Unfortunately experience made her painfully aware that this was unlikely to to be the case.
The door was flung open and Kara was standing at the end of her bed.
“Spare keys were for emergencies only, Kara.” She groused.
“This is an emergency; you are due in court in half an hour.”
Alex groaned again, louder this time, as the previous night came rushing back. She pulled her arm out from under her, where she had fallen asleep on it, and attempted to rub her face. The empty whisky bottle thudded to the floor, ejected by the movement as she pulled the blanket back.
“Did you fall asleep fully dressed?”
Alex ignored her sister and struggled to a wavering sitting position.
“Oh my God Alex, are you still drunk ?” Kara’s voice was loud, her tone accusatory.
“Oh, fuck Kara, stop yelling.”
“You are due in court in half an hour, about to be ordered to rehab and you're drunk ?”
“Why are you here, Kara?”
“J’onn told me you wouldn’t be in today and that you might need my moral support.”
“Oh God, you badgered it out of him, didn’t you.”
“I think he realised that you weren’t going to tell me. Like I wouldn't notice you vanishing.” Her tone softened. “Although clearly I didn’t notice this.”
“Now get in the shower. I’m going to have to fly you there as it is.”
Alex looked green at the prospect and ran for the bathroom.
Fifteen minutes later they stood outside the courthouse, Alex dressed in a rumpled black suit and shirt, but the clothes were, at least, clean. Her bloodshot eyes were hidden behind sunglasses as she squinted, despite it being overcast. A coffee sloshed in her hand, hastily purchased from the vendor at the bottom of the courthouse steps.
All in black and a little rough around the edges, she was a stark contrast to her sister; neatly turned out in a pastel-hued dress and cardigan, her hair swept up in a perfect chignon.
Kara adjusted her glasses and turned to Alex.
“Are you ready?”
“No.” Alex’s tone was sullen.
“Well, tough. Come on.”
Lucy took a deep breath and tugged down her uniform jacket, before she stepped out of the elevator and onto the DEO main floor.
“Major! Thanks for coming.” J’onn’s smile was warm and welcoming and Lucy felt herself relax slightly at the greeting.
It had been a surprise when J’onn had called her, and she felt nervous meeting him again, given the first time they met she had arrested him. He looked a little incongruous, standing in the middle of the DEO now, dressed in jeans and a hoodie, where everyone else was in fatigues.
He shook her hand warmly and gestured towards the offices.
The office door had a sign that said “Director”, but J’onn sank into one of the visitors' chairs in front of the desk. He motioned towards the other and Lucy tucked her skirt under her as she sat, crossing her ankles. She was stiff and poised where J’onn was relaxed.
“Thanks for coming.” He repeated. “As we discussed on the phone, you are the ideal candidate as interim director, as you’ve done the job before.”
“It was surprisingly easy to arrange, actually. I think Washington are glad to have me out of their hair.” She laughed, rolling her eyes, clearly not entirely joking.
“To be honest I am glad of the break from it, so I’m happy to help.”
J’onn smiled, gratefully, if slightly sadly.
“Why do you need me?”
“Alex has been the Director here since I left. I had my reasons for leaving and those haven’t changed. So, as much as the DEO needs someone while she is away, it can’t be me.”
J’onn stood. Lucy was startled into standing as well, surprised he was leaving already.
“How long before Alex is back?”
“A month. But you’ll be here in a supervisory capacity after that.”
“Is Alex being demoted?” Lucy asked, shocked.
“Not exactly, she just needs…” He trailed off, searching for the words. “A little help. Some time.”
Before Lucy could ask any more questions - not that she had been able to get many in during their phone call either - J’onn took her hand in both of his again and shook it, smiling somewhat sadly again, before hastily striding out of sight.
The next few days had kept Lucy busy. Fortunately not with any major alien-related incidents that the DEO needed to be involved in, but in a lot of paperwork. A lot had happened since her previous tenure, and she had spent days in briefings with various department heads, and late nights engrossed in files, trying to get caught up. She still had much to cover, she knew that, but she was starting to feel that she was getting an idea of the shape of things. There was a nagging feeling that had been there since J’onn’s call as to why she was here and why she was even needed. He had been surprisingly reticent about the whole thing, giving her the minimum of details. She hoped the more she got into things, the more the sense of unease would abate. Although her disquiet wasn’t helped by the fact Kara hadn’t been to the DEO in her guise as Supergirl since Lucy had arrived.
Lucy looked up at a knock on the open door to her office.
“Detective Maggie Sawyer NCPD Science Division.” The woman stuck out her hand as she walked into Lucy’s office. “My Lieutenant said you were interested in some old case files, so I thought I’d drop in to grab the list, since I was over this side of the city. See if you have any questions.”
Lucy stood and took the proffered had, the grip firm, but warm. They both sat, Maggie crossing her ankle over her knee, as she slumped comfortably in the visitors chair in front of the desk.
“Sawyer…” Lucy looked at the woman in front of her thoughtfully “Why do I recognise that name?” She turned in her chair and started to riffle through the files on her desk.
Maggie huffed a mirthless laugh. “You mean Alex never mentioned me?”
Lucy looked up abruptly.
“Well, you must be working with her, she’s the Director here.” Maggie looked out of the glass walls of the office, her eyes searching.
When Maggie turned back to look at her, Lucy was frowning.
“No. She’s on...” There was a hesitation in her reply. “Medical leave. That’s why I am here; I am interim Director.”
Maggie's eyes went wide. ”Oh my God, is she ok?”
Lucy cleared her throat. “I am not aware of the reason for Alex’s absence, just that she will be back in a month.” Her tone was formal, hiding her own lack of knowledge on the matter.
“So, why would Alex have mentioned you? I didn’t realise we worked that closely with the NCPD.”
Lucy tried to read the look on the other woman’s face as she took a breath before answering, but couldn’t fathom half the emotions she saw.
“We were engaged.” The tone was far too casual to be anything but forced.
Lucy’s eyebrows rose slightly.
“Engaged? I have barely even known Alex to date .”
“I wasn’t aware you knew her?”
“I was the Director here briefly while J’onn was...indisposed.” She tried not to wince, knowing that his enforced absence was in part due to her, and her role in the investigation into him, after his publically coming out as an alien.
“Can I ask what happened?” Lucy’s tone was gentle, but clearly curious.
Maggie looked away and the Director regretted her question, the younger woman’s attempts to control her emotions painfully clear.
“She wasn’t the same after what happened with Malverne. She wouldn’t say anything, wouldn’t talk to anyone, it’s like she just...shut down, you know? She pushed everyone away and eventually that included me.”
Her expression was haunted.
“You can’t be with someone if they won’t let you in.” She sighed, deeply.
“What happened with Malverne?”
Maggie threw up her hands and stood up. “No, I can’t go there. I’ve already shared way more than enough for one day. You’ve got the files. You could maybe ask Kara, but I doubt she’ll want to talk about it any more than I do.”
She pulled out a business card and handed it to Lucy.
“Email me a list of the files you need and I’ll get them sent over. If you have any questions, give me a call, but I think I’d rather not have to come back here.” She attempted a weak smile, but it didn't reach her eyes.
The Detective was barely out of sight before Lucy was at the filing cabinet, flicking rapidly through the hanging files, before she found the one she was after. Pulling it out, she sat back down at the desk and started to read.
An hour later Lucy sat back in her chair, the colour had drained from her face. She shook slightly as she picked up her phone.
“J’onn” She took a deep breath. “I think I need you to tell me why Alex is on medical leave.”