Sanvers 4th of July
This was supposed to be short and funny. It turned out to be long and full of feelings. Aka, I’m the most predictable. Whatever - enjoy!
“So, Danvers. What are the big 4th of July plans?”
Alex looks over at her, startled. It’s June 30th, and Maggie’s making breakfast while Alex washes the dishes from last night’s dinner.
“Uh,” Alex knits her eyebrows, running her mind as quickly as possible over the last couple of weeks, trying to remember if they’d talked about making plans. She comes up blank, so she tries to stall for time. “Don’t you have to work?”
“Nope,” Maggie says, and her voice is casual but there’s something behind it. “Took some wrangling, but I managed to get it off.”
Oh, okay. Okay, shit.
Alex can’t figure out if they’d talked about it and she completely forgot, or if this some new curveball.
But Maggie’s number one pet peeve is not being heard, and most cops have to work on the 4th because the holiday turns everyone in the US into delinquent assholes, so if she managed to get the day off she must have some serious expectations for something.
If Alex were Kara, she thinks, she’d make up some elaborate story, some oh yes we’re going to ride a ferris wheel and also be in Paris—oh, but like the Paris in Las Vegas because of America, haha, totally, definitely, I for sure already bought the tickets, surprise!
But Alex is Alex, so instead of hijinks she goes for insecure honesty. “Uh, I, uh haven’t made any plans? Yet? But I’d be happy to make some? With you?” Her hands stutter on the dishes, making jerkily little circles on the same plate she’s been washing since Maggie first opened her mouth.
Maggie doesn’t look over from where she’s expertly flipping an omelet. “Oh,” is all she says.
“Mags?” Maggie looks over, probably at the sheer panic in Alex’s voice. “Babe, I’m sorry, I didn’t—I didn’t know you wanted to do anything! But really, I—I can get the day off, I can—we can, um, I mean, I can plan something, or you can plan something, or we can go somewhere—”
But Alex doesn’t hear her, continuing to babble at high speed. “I can—there must be a hotel that still has space, or a beach? Or, um, I don’t—I’m sorry, I don’t know, but I can—we can do anything, I didn’t mean to forget—“
Alex hears her, finally, and quiets herself. She looks over at Maggie with eyes that are big and round and scared and a little wet.
“Babe, it’s fine. Relax.”
Alex blinks at her. This is clearly not fine. This is the opposite of fine. Alex is the worst girlfriend ever. This obviously matters to Maggie and she must have mentioned it, and Alex must have forgotten, and she’s trying to hard to be a good girlfriend, to be good at being in a relationship, but she fucked it up again, and it’s not fine.
“It’s not a big deal, Al. I just assumed that you all did something for it.”
Alex narrows her eyes, confused. “You all?”
“You know,” Maggie says with a little shrug as she slips the omelet out of the pan and onto the waiting plate. “You and Kara and your mom and Kara’s boy band of admirers.” Maggie starts making the second omelet, tossing the pre-cut vegetables into the pan. “I had just assumed – it was stupid, I guess – but you guys seem like an all-American family, I just thought you would have some barbeque traditions or something.”
Alex nods. That makes sense. It does – but it doesn’t totally account for the heaviness in Maggie’s voice, or the way she hasn’t made eye contact, or the way she’s hitting the eggs against the pan a little harder than she needs to.
“My parents were never really that into it,” Alex says softly, turning back to the dishes, pretending to be as casual as Maggie is. “They were a little far to the left for that kind of patriotism, I think. When I was little we used to go sit out on the beach and watch the fireworks, but we never did anything special.” Alex puts the now very clean plate in the drying rack and reaches for a mug. “But then when Kara came, the fireworks scared her – they were so loud and bright and really overwhelming for her. So she and I usually just marathoned movies and I always tried to get her into a sugar coma as early in the night as possible so she’d miss most of it.”
Alex sees Maggie nod out of the corner of her eye.
“Yeah, that makes sense,” she says, clearly still upset but clearly trying to hide it. “Poor little Kara.”
But Alex is in charge of this interrogation.
“Did you do something special when you were little?” She asks carefully. Asking about Maggie’s childhood is always delicate – Alex has learned to phrase it as when you were little rather than did your family or did your parents, but it’s still always delicate. She’s always careful.
She never wants to make Maggie remember her awful teenage years, and she hates the Sawyers even more for making it hard for her to get to know little kid Maggie.
Maggie doesn’t like to talk about herself, and Alex hates it because she wants to know every moment of Maggie’s life.
Maggie flips this omelet – perfectly, as always. “Yeah, it was a pretty big deal in Blue Springs. Not a lot else going on,” she adds wryly. “There was a parade with these ridiculously cheesy floats, and people would spend, like, months making them, it was ridiculous.” But her voice is fond. Alex never hears her talk like this, warmly and tenderly about Blue Springs and about her childhood. She almost holds her breath, still washing the same mug, afraid to make a sound. “We’d go stake out spots on the parade route like hours early, with coolers and chairs and shit, it was a whole thing. And then after the parade we always hosted this big barbeque in our front yard, and everyone came, basically every Mexican in Nebraska, I think. All the cousins and everyone, it was a total zoo. And then we’d all drive out to the prairie, which is like 10 minutes away, of course, because Blue Springs is nothing, and we’d lie in the beds of the pickups in just like, piles of cousins, and watch the big county fireworks.” Maggie’s smiling at the memory, still looking down at the omelet, and Alex wants to cry. “I drank my first beer in one of those pickups with my cousins, smoked my first joint. We’d set off fireworks, and the kids would have sparklers, and shit.”
She slips the omelet out of the pan and onto the plate. She turns off the stove, takes the first plate, and sticks it in the microwave, closing the door without starting it.
“I’m gonna take a shower before I eat,” she says casually. “Will you be gone when I get out?”
Alex knows that’s code. Maggie doesn’t shower as quickly as she does, but that’s clearly code for I’m going to take a long shower, please don’t be here when I’m done. Alex wonders if she’s going to cry in there.
Alex nods her head a little, hands still soapy. She wants to reach out, to hold Maggie, to tell her that she loves her, that she’s here now, that she’s here to help Maggie heal.
But Maggie’s already walking away, closing the door of the bathroom firmly behind her.
Alex leaves the rest of the dishes. She puts her omelet in a Tupperware and gets dressed as quickly as she can. She’ll brush her teeth at work.
She has some work to do.