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You Deserve It All

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This has to be a joke, right? 

There is no way this is the address. She double checked it with Lena three times the other day, but there’s no way this $200 apartment is located in this high rise building deep in the wealthy district of uptown National City. Pristine marble tile covers the entrance in swirling mosaics, the deep-set patterns dancing from the outside doors all the way to the front desk. Part of Kara feels like she needs to take off her shoes to even go into the building; most of Kara feels like this is all a mean-spirited prank by her supposed new friend. It doesn’t seem like something Lena would do, although admittedly Kara only knows so much about the other girl. One thing she does know, however, is that there is no logical reason an apartment in a building like this would be within her micro budget. Tightening her grip on her bag, Kara walks into the lobby.

A polite but firm doorman waits just inside with a small metal detector held in gloved hands. He traces the machine over her backpack, smiles at her. Kara shifts uncomfortably and wonders what he thinks of her mud-stained bag and thrifted jacket.

“I’m sorry, I think I’m lost,” she says to fill the silence. “I’m supposed to meet my friend to look at an apartment, but-”

“Are you Miss Kara?” he cuts in. Kara blanches, but nods. He smiles again, the lines on his face deep and defined from years of friendly expressions.

“No, Miss Kara. They’re expecting you upstairs.”

Despite his gentle tone she feels dread waft over her like a thick fog, and it takes a bit of inner strength to nod and walk to the elevator. So apparently this is somehow, unbelievably, exactly where she is supposed to be.

She tries not to startle when she realizes he has followed on to the elevator with her. Her silent questioning is answered when she realizes there are no buttons on the immaculately polished walls, just a thin slit for a card key to go in. He pulls one seemingly out of thin air and slides it in with a small confirming beep. The doors slide shut and soon they are moving up so smoothly Kara doesn’t even feel it begin.

“When it’s all settled you’ll get your own key,” he says after a moment, breaking the somewhat tense silence.

She has no idea how to respond to that. 

In a matter of seconds the elevator opens to a short monochromatic hallway, at the end of which is a door partially propped open. Kara can hear voices whisper-yelling back and forth, although she can’t quite make out the words. She knocks gently and the voices go silent. Slowly, Kara peeks in.

It is, without a doubt, the biggest apartment Kara has ever seen in her entire life. 

With high ceilings and dark wood floors, the main room seems to stretch endlessly into the sky - partially due to the floor-to-ceiling windows covering the entire eastern wall - resulting in a breathtaking view of upper National City. The walls have an industrial feel to them, mostly comprised of chunky concrete with smatterings of underlying brick peeking through. And there, standing in the middle of it all, was Lena, standing with a woman Kara had never seen before.

“Kara!” Lena yells before clearing her throat, then saying more quietly, “lovely to see you. This is Jess, she is the property manager here.”

Jess, for her part, looks thoroughly unimpressed.

“Yep. That is now the job that I have apparently.”

Kara is painfully aware of how small she feels then, standing with these two confusing women in a giant empty loft.

“Lena,” Kara says with a questioning chuckle, “this is a joke, right?”

Jess snorts but Lena just looks thoroughly confused.

“No, Kara! This is the apartment I told you about! Jess, tell her.”

Lena shoves Jess forward a bit, a gesture the other woman clearly did not appreciate. With a sigh, Jess begins:

“Built in 2014, our condos blend state-of-the art amenities with a rustic, industrial feel-”

Kara can’t help but tune out the scripted spiel as she walks around the big open space, Lena trailing awkwardly behind her. Kara’s lived in a small handful of places in her life, and she’s pretty sure they all would have fit easily inside this condo. If anything, Kara is an expert at compact living.

She didn’t have a lot of stuff as a kid, even before her parents died. What things she did have were more or less lost during the four years she spent shuffled through the foster care system. By the time the Danvers adopted her she had nothing left from the life she lived before aside from one thing - the red baby blanket she’d had that day, clutched tight in her hands when Clark managed to break the dented lock off her car seat and pull her free from the burning wreckage that had been her family’s van. She wouldn’t let go of it for anything that day when he pulled her out and no one else. No one else but them. They were too far gone he said. Don’t look, he said, we have to get away from it. Don’t look, but she did anyway. They were good people, her birth parents. She doesn’t remember everything about them but she remembers that. 

So she has a childhood blanket, and she has a few good shirts. A nice pair of slacks, some thick socks, a pair of shorts. A few dresses. She has a backpack they can all fit in to if necessary, and she has a family that loves her more than anything else. She has friends, and she has a job that’s slowly helping the numbers creep upward in her bank account. All things considered, she’s got a lot. She’s never been one to complain.

“-And your monthly rent,” Jess says, her amused voice cutting through the mental spiral as she seems to be fighting a laugh, “is $200 a month, including all utilities.”

Kara’s young, but she’s lived a lot of life in her 23 years. She knows when she’s being lied to, when there’s another shoe about to drop. On a normal day Kara could probably laugh this off, could aw shucks! her way through the inevitable punchline awaiting her. But it has been such a long, terrible week, and in a few hours she has to drive Alex to the airport to pickup Lucy. At this point she is out of time to find a new place and the one morning she has off to look Lena takes her here. It’s needlessly cruel, and despite herself Kara finds tears creeping slowly down her face. Lena doesn’t notice at first; all her attention is focused solely on Jess, her lips moving minutely along with the words, like she’s reciting the script with her. 

Jess notices, though, and manages a shaky, “uh perhaps-” only for a loud sniffle from Kara to finally clue Lena in on what’s going on. Lena gasps, moves towards her, but the tears are free flowing now and even in this giant amphitheater Kara feels suddenly claustrophobic. Everything feels a bit too much and all she can do is quickly rush to the door.

“Kara wait!”

She presses the elevator button and the doors open instantly, yet no amount of frantic hoping will make it descend. Lena stops just at the entrance and stands awkwardly outside, staring in at her with terror clear in her eyes, before quietly saying,

“Y-you need a key to make it move.”

Kara laughs, snotty and thick, and gestures half-heartedly for Lena to come in. She does, quietly sliding her key in. The doors close and the box descends.

Tension permeates the elevator as they twitch and shift about in their own separate hells. Kara has no idea what’s going through Lena’s mind right now, but it’s taking all of her focus to calm down. With every second that passes the more certain she is that this was all an elaborate prank. The building has armed security, for God’s sake.

Time seems to slow down in there, each floor ticks by like they are slowly but fatally sinking into quicksand. There is no turning back, no way but further down into the discomfort.

“I’m sorry for whatever I’ve done to upset you-“ Lena starts, but Kara cuts in with a firm,

“I don’t wanna talk about it.”

Lena just nods, subdued. They make it past another two floors before Kara slams her palm on the emergency stop button.

“No, you know what! We are gonna talk about this. Is this some kind of joke? A weird prank? Is there a clown hiding somewhere waiting to jump out and yell surprise ?”

Lena looks genuinely confused.

“I don’t understand.”

Kara can’t help but pace back and forth, a tight line considering they’re trapped in a small box together. 

“Lena... I may not know a lot about housing prices but I know for sure that a building with a doorman isn’t gonna be $200 a month. What gives?”

A battle is happening in Lena’s mind. Kara can tell by the nervous shuffle of her feet, the way she bites her lip and squints her fluttering eyes. Finally, Lena speaks.

“I just want to be your friend, and I don’t know how to do that.”

Now its Kara’s turn to be confused.

“We’re already friends, Lena! There’s nothing for you to do! You already saw me naked, for goodness sake!"  She's laughing as she says this, teasing. 

Bright red and trembling, Lena presses on, “See? Like that! I don’t know how to be like that - just make jokes and be friends with people. But you do, and I want to too, and maybe if you live in my building instead of moving back to your home town we can keep being friends like that.”

Slowly the pieces are falling into place.

“So you were, what? Gonna pay for me to live in this crazy loft?”

“I don’t have to pay anything, Kara. This is my building. I own it.”

“What do you mean?”

“What do you mean what do I mean?”

“How do you own this building?”

“I- what? I own this building. This building was for sale, and I purchased it so that I could live here. I own all the condos.”

“You own this building?”

Lena finally laughs, breaking through the tension.

“Yes, Kara. I own this building.”

“How is that even possible?”

“I have a lot of money, Kara. Like, a lot. And letting you have this condo - or letting you pay me $200 a month or whatever you want - doesn’t set me back at all. It’s as easy for me as being kind is for you. It’s amazing, honestly. I’ve never met anyone like you before, I mean- you literally gave me the clothes off your back within minutes of meeting me!”

Kara laughs at Lena’s charmed exasperation, wipes clumsily at her eyes.

“And I’m not good at stuff like this. Social things. I don’t know how to deal with emotions or know what to say, and I’m really not good at giving hugs-”

“You’re great at giving hugs!”

“- I don’t bring a lot to the table here, is what I’m saying. But I can bring resources like this. I can help keep you in National City. And I’d really like to do that for you. I’d really love to be your friend, Kara.”

It’s a lot, honestly. Never in Kara’s wildest dreams would she imagine herself in a position like this, standing in a high rise with someone who clearly has more wealth than Kara’s seen in her entire life and offering to share it. It feels too much.

“I don’t want you to buy my friendship, Lena,” she says slowly, shaking her head. Lena reaches out and grabs tentatively at her arm, lets go, then grabs again a bit more confidently. Kara rests her own hand on top of Lena’s and gives her a reassuring smile which seems to relieve some of the tension. 

“I’m not trying to,” Lena says, “I just want to help you in the ways you’ve already helped me.”

Kara thinks for a long minute before nodding.

“I can do that.”

“Do what?”

“Help you. Be better, I guess, or maybe just loosen up? You seem crazy tense, like, all the time.”

Lena laughs at that, high pitched and nervous. 

“Great! I would love that, great.”

Kara gives her hand a squeeze before pulling it from her arm and lacing their fingers together. Lena stares intensely at their joined hands.

“But the apartment is it, okay? I don’t want you spending money on me left and right. I’ll help you because we’re friends, not because I want you to spoil me.”

Lena nods, but continues to stare at their joined hands. Kara can already tell she’s got her work cut out for her. Finally, Lena meets her eyes with a shaky, nervous smile.

“Got it. I won’t shower you in money,” she says, eyes shiny with emotion Kara can’t quite decipher. 

The moment is interrupted then by a voice chirping from the speaker: “madams, are you both okay in there? The emergency break has been held for some time now.”

Lena pulls back a bit in surprise, but Kara just holds her hand even tighter.

“Yeah,” Kara says, “We were just going back up.”