Mom, if its not too much to ask, could you do a story about Maggie having trouble dealing with a perpetually disappointed parent? Constantly being disappointed in her lifestyle choices out of 'love and worry'(style of dress, job, eating habits, etc.) and J'onn noticing and balancing it out with his own brand of space-dad approval? It's getting harder and harder to deal with my mom's disapproval lately. I feel like I can't do anything right. If not, I can wait for prompts to open again.
He only ever hears one side of the conversation, but that’s all he needs to hear to put the pieces together.
“Now’s not a great time, Pop, is Ma okay? I – yeah – yeah, I’m on duty. Yeah, Pop, I know it’s eleven at night. No, come on, I can’t do this right now. Because I love my job, Pop, it’s important, I’m changing the force from the ins– you know what, I don’t – I don’t have time for this, I gotta go. I love you. Yes, of course I do, why the hell would you say something like that? I – hello? Bye to you, too.”
Another night, this time earlier in the evening, the day after Maggie picked up Alex wearing a sharp flannel and massive smile, with a dozen red roses in tow. Winn had insisted on taking their picture, and apparently Maggie had sent it to her parents, because I want them to see how absolutely beautiful my girlfriend is.
“Hey Pop, how you doing? Aw, you did? Isn’t she gorgeous? I – it – I – I think I was in a flannel, wasn’t I? It – yeah, I know I’m not on the farm anymore, trust me, I know – no, Pop – “ J’onn almost doesn’t notice when Maggie switches to Portuguese, having known the language for so long the translation came to his mind just as quickly as the English did – “It’s not just a white girl look, Pop, plenty of self-respecting brown women dress like this, I’m not betraying anyt – well hey, you didn’t see anything wrong with raising me in an all-white town – no, I know you love me, I know you want what’s best for me – “ J’onn blinks when she switches seamlessly back to English – “but maybe what’s best for me is having you actually be happy for me when I send you a picture of me so clearly happy with how my life is right now, instead of calling me to just to criticize my – no, I don’t wanna talk to her right now, I – “
She groans and J’onn lowers his eyes and sighs quietly.
It happens again as she and Alex are gearing up for Alex’s first visit to Blue Springs, which has one of his girls wide-eyed and nervous, and the other both loving and terribly, terribly tense.
“Nah, tell her she doesn’t have to make me anything special, I’ll just whip something up for myself when we get there – yes, Alex will eat what she – because, Pop, I’ve been vegan for years, you’d think you both would get used to it by – well somehow I manage, and Mama is the one who taught me to cook, so if I can figure it out, I – no, you know what, you’re right, I’m sorry, I’m not trying to fight with you, just… just don’t go to any trouble, okay, I’ll work it out when I get there, I – no, I didn’t mean – yes Pop. Yes sir. Yeah. I love you. Bye.”
J’onn doesn’t imagine it would help his newest child much if he flew himself out to Blue Springs and gave Mr. Sawyer a piece of his mind.
And Maggie always slips off into a corner, whisper-shouts instead of shout-shouting, turns her face, her body, away when she gets her father’s calls. And she’s not like Alex, but she is, she is, so he doesn’t want to hurt her pride by bringing it up with her directly. Or violate her privacy, for that matter (though he supposes he can’t very well help what his ears pick up).
So instead, he starts doing small things, saying small things, that he hopes she’ll notice, that he hopes will lift, at least a little, the sad sagging in her shoulders; relieve, at least a little, the tension in her coiled lower back, her fists; soothe, at least a little, the burning tears in her eyes, the raging pit in her stomach, the defeat in her chest.
“You know, Detective Sawyer, since you started liaising with the DEO, our communication with the NCPD has never been better. The increased efficiency is saving a lot of lives; that’s a lot you have to be proud of.”
Alex is – nowadays, anyway – generally the one to blush, to squirm, to fumble over her words. And, true to form, Maggie doesn’t squirm, not exactly, but she stammers a bit and it’s clear she doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t know how to respond, doesn’t know how to feel, doesn’t know what to do with her hands, her eyes, her face.
So she falls back on her training, and she nods, and she says, simply, “Thank you, sir. That… means a lot.”
He covers her shoulder with his hand and she looks almost overcome by the gesture.
And then again, later, the next time he sees her decked out in flannel and sharp pants and a belt of the sort that he’s overhead Winn referring to as gloriously gay, he makes sure he smiles at her. He clears his throat, because if what he’s about to say is going to be uncomfortable for her, it’s even moreso for him, but that doesn’t matter, because she deserves to hear it from a potentially father-type figure.
So he clears his throat once, twice, and before she can ask if he wants some water, he forces out, “You look particularly sharp today, Detective. Agent Danvers is fortunate to have a woman as beautiful as you.”
“J’onn, are you hitting on Alex’s girlfriend?”
“Oh, leave the man alone, Schott, just because he knows how to compliment a woman better than you do,” Maggie quips through her smile ,through her deep, deep blush. She reaches up to put her hand on J’onn’s shoulder, this time, and he’s sure that as she walks away, it’s with a straighter spine and a prouder strut.
And when it’s one of the rookie agent’s birthdays and Kara insists on throwing him a little party, it’s J’onn who takes Maggie aside to make sure she knows that there are three different flavors of vegan ice cream, just for her.
“You know, when I first arrived on this planet, I was startled by how many human cultures emphasize animal flesh as their major culinary staples. Since then I’ve deeply appreciated humans who can see part their society, to a different sort of ethics.”
Maybe it’s because she and Alex didn’t get much sleep the night before, so her guard is lower than it might otherwise be; maybe it’s because J’onn’s eyes are as soft and as warm as his voice is awkward and gruff; or maybe it’s because her own father’s words are still stinging so sharply, so loudly, so painfully, in her ears; or maybe it’s all of it, everything, because suddenly Maggie is leaning up on her tip toes and she’s reaching her arms up and she’s burying her face in J’onn’s chest.
He only hesitates for a brief, startled moment before he wraps his arms around her, too, one of his hands covering the entire small of her back.
“Thank you, J’onn,” she’s whispering, and he catches Alex’s wet smile from across the room over Maggie’s head.
“Thank you, Maggie. Thank you for giving my girls – both of them – such happiness. We are all… truly lucky to have you in our lives.”
And now, if Maggie doesn’t know what to say, it’s because her body is speaking her gratitude for her, and J’onn nods when Alex mouths her thanks at him, because he means it; even in times like these, they’re still lucky, because they have, somehow, against all odds and probabilities, found each other.