It’s kind of a shitty apartment, if you’re being honest. But, if you’re being more honest, it’s also perfectly within your budget (rent control, Charlie tells you, sending a dramatic silent prayer of thank you up to the heavens as she says it), in a… halfway decent location, and it’s a sure-fire way to make at least two friends in a new city, if the other tenant Charlie referred to is as cool as he seems to be. Charlie’s tall and friendly and approachable, and you think that even if you don’t become great friends with her, she definitely seems like she’d make a great roommate. The apartment is warm with light from the huge windows, and covered in some very mismatched decorations that range from hanging macrame plant holders to a set of silver-hilted, severe-looking crossed swords that you’d bet most of your security deposit were not Charlie’s idea. You’re in the kitchen, sipping tea she’s made you and leaning against a counter that looks like it was hastily wiped down seconds before you arrived when you decide that yeah, this is going to be your new home.
“It’s perfect,” you say to Charlie, and she practically sags with relief.
“God, I’m so glad,” she smiles, and she reaches out to shake your hand. “I’ll send you the lease tonight, and you can be in by tomorrow morning!”
You’re meeting her hand with your own and just about to thank her when somebody shoulders the door open, mostly hidden behind the enormous and completely unidentifiable sculpture they’re holding.
“We got Supergirl’s mail again,” a voice calls from behind the art. The person holding it shuffles through the entryway and attempts to kick the door closed behind them, turning their back to you and Charlie and setting the nearly five-foot abstract block down on the ground. They continue on, pulling off their backpack and kicking their shoes haphazardly toward the wall as they speak, “Also, I found this weird thing today. I think we should put it in the bathroom.”
You’re smiling before you know it, thinking about how great of a choice you’ve just made by choosing to live here, when Charlie’s clipped tone comes and pulls some of the excitement out of you.
“Uh, Marco, this is our new roommate,” she says, but her grip on your hand has increased tenfold and she sounds tense, and you know you’ve only known her an hour, but this is a full 180 from the easygoing way she’d been carrying herself earlier.
Just as the words leave Charlie’s mouth, the dark-haired boy spins to face you both, hand outstretched to drop a letter onto the countertop, and breathes, “Oh, fuck.”
There’s a beat of confusing silence, and you toss a joke into the space between you to dissipate the sudden tension that seems to have come out of nowhere.
“Supergirl’s mail, huh?” You say sarcastically, tipping your head toward the letter and cracking a smile. When neither of them laugh, you feel your heart jump into your throat. Oh God, you think, I’ve fucked this up somehow and I haven’t even moved in yet. Somewhere you must have severely misjudged the moment; did you misunderstand the joke? You turn toward Charlie, hoping for some sort of lifeline, and she’s ghost-white. You glance back toward Marco, and when you see the fear in his eyes, your brain kicks into gear.
“Wait,” you say, but your mind is jumping to conclusions that your mouth is far too embarrassed to vocalize, so you find that you don’t have any follow-up.
Marco pulls his arm back, tucking the letter behind his back and looking toward Charlie for help. She breathes in, quick and sharp, and that’s when it clicks.
“Are you--” you start, but you know it’s true even before you ask. “Seriously?”
Charlie’s eyes cut to you quickly, then back to Marco, before she gives him a curt nod and drops her eyes to the floor.
“Uh… yeah,” Marco responds, carefully pulling the letter out from behind him and setting it on the countertop as if it were made of glass. “That’s… we were… still figuring out if we were going to mention it to whoever moved in next. I’m usually better at keeping secrets.”
You blink back at him, still a bit in shock at the sudden change in environment, and nod dumbly, “...Right. Okay.”
“I’m Marco, by the way,” he says, and you shake his hand in a bit of a daze.
“Great to meet you,” you answer robotically, trying to get your conversational legs back under you. “Charlie’s told me a lot about you.” And then, before you can continue on with the wobbly attempt at pretending things are normal and you didn’t just find out that you’re moving in next to a superhero, Charlie interrupts.
“You can’t tell anyone,” she blurts, and she looks you directly in the eyes as she says it. “This isn’t like living on the same street as a celebrity,” she says, and she’s so serious and her tone is so firm that you find yourself a little bit scared.
“Oh, I won’t,” you promise, but she’s not quite finished.
“I mean it, this is--” She pauses. “We’ve never talked to her about it, and we don’t even know if she knows that we know, but… lives could depend on this secret. There’s a reason that almost nobody knows her identity.” You’re rooted to the spot at the intensity of her words, but you can hear the gravity of them in the way she speaks.
“I understand,” you reply earnestly, and her face softens a bit. “Really. I promise, I won’t say a thing.”
“Thank you,” she answers, and the tension drains from the atmosphere of the room as you give her a nervous smile.
“Yeeeeeeah… my bad for springing that on you,” Marco says from behind you as he makes his way toward his room, tugging the unwieldy sculpture behind him as he goes. “Besides, you just moved here, what, three days ago?” he calls over his shoulder toward you, and when you nod, he winks. “See, perfect. Who are you even gonna tell? You don’t have any friends yet besides us.”
You roll your eyes goodnaturedly but fight a smirk as you hear the kernel of something soft embedded in his ribbing: these are your friends now.
You tell yourself you won’t ask about it, but you make it all of three days before you can’t help it.
“Okay, I have a question,” you blurt out in the middle of the relatively peaceful silence the three of you have been existing in for the last twenty minutes.
“I knew it,” Marco snickers from where he’s sprawled across the couch, and he hits mute on the television he’s half-watching as he readjusts to face you.
“Three days is not bad,” Charlie admits to Marco with a smirk on her face, and she too turns to face you from where she’s seated at the kitchen countertop, leaving her laptop ignored. “Go ahead, ask.”
“Which apartment is she?” you ask quickly, choosing to barrel past the fact that they both perfectly guessed your thoughts.
“Mmm, not sure we should say,” Marco replies casually. “I think you’ll probably work it out for yourself soon enough.”
“Fine,” you huff, because that’s fair, you guess, in the concern of security and all that. “Are you even sure it’s her?” Marco snorts a bit and shares a glance with Charlie.
“Yeah,” Charlie says, “believe me, when you start noticing, you’ll see what we mean.”
“But does that even really make sense?” you ask. “Like shouldn’t she live in a… tower, or something? Somewhere hi-tech? Not a random 70 year old building in southwest National City?”
“I thought the same thing,” Marco replies as he tugs a throw blanket over his legs. “But…” he shrugs. “I don’t know, rent’s cheap here if you’ve been around for a while. Maybe she’s as broke as we are.”
“Huh,” you respond, because that stumps you for a second. You only know Supergirl from national news stories, so it’s never occurred to you that she was anything other than wealthy and well-connected. “I guess I never considered that she might be…”
“Normal?” Charlie finishes for you.
“Yeah,” you respond, a little embarrassed. “I don’t really know anything about her except whatever ends up on TV.”
“Most people don’t, I think,” she replies.
“And do you really think it’s a life-or-death secret? Is she like… that big of a deal here?” you ask, aware of how little news you’ve gotten about Supergirl in the last few years of your life.
“Yup.” Marco calls from the couch as he un-mutes the TV. “You just wait.”
“We get at least one big newsworthy save every few months,” Charlie explains as she turns back to your laptop. “I think you’ll understand better once you actually see her in action.”
You don’t think you will, actually. You’ve only been in the city a week, but there’s no shortage of Supergirl branded apparel and trinkets in the gift shops and at the tourist traps. You’d kind of assumed she was equal parts hero and attraction, that all the deification was saved for internet fanboys and scholars who build careers around Kryptonian culture or whatever. But now here are Charlie and Marco, both perfectly reasonable and normal people, telling you that Supergirl is not only your neighbor, but also so powerful that they can’t even explain it to you, that you have to see it to believe it. And maybe it’s true, you think, but also maybe they’ve both just lived here a little too long, and maybe they’re just caught up in the same hype the rest of the city is?
Two weeks later Supergirl singlehandedly lifts an entire submarine out of the water in front of you, and you’re so fucking awestruck you almost have to sit down in the middle of the crowd. She is larger than life, and you send a silent apology into the universe for ever having doubted your roommates. When you get home that night, still a little bit speechless and a little bit jelly-legged with nerves, Marco greets you.
“Holy shit,” he says, jumping up from his seat when he sees you come through the door. “Didn’t you say you were going to be at the docks today? Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I…” you trail off, blinking dumbly. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m great.”
His eyebrow quirks a bit as he looks back at you, tilting his head as if urging you to elaborate. “Uh, are you sure?” He asks through a laugh.
“Yeah! I’m definitely okay, I just… I saw Supergirl today. For the first time.” The excitement of the moment bubbles back up in your chest as you hear yourself say it out loud, and you start speaking faster. “I mean, Marco, I saw her lift the submarine like it was nothing.”
“Jesus. I was watching it on TV while I was at work,” he answers, pulling the fridge open and scanning the contents. “It looked terrifying.”
“It was, but…” you begin, but none of the words you can think of seem big enough to explain it. “She’s just really… wow.”
Marco snorts as he knocks the fridge closed with his knee, twisting the top off of a bottle of juice. “Yeah,” he chuckles. “Now you see what we mean.”
You shake your head a bit in disbelief at the memory, before risking embarrassment as you add, “Is it weird that it was… kinda hot?”
Marco bursts out laughing, just barely managing not to choke on the sip he was about to take. “‘Kinda hot’,” he repeats back to you through his laughter. “Understatement of the fuckin’ century, dude.”
A few weeks later, Supergirl gets knocked out of the sky by Reign. The media plays the footage of Supergirl getting dropped from that building over and over again until you have to ask the bartender of your new favorite hangout to please change the channel at happy hour. But then Supergirl is AWOL for another 8 days, and professionals are on the news analyzing her possible injuries and internet forums are starting to theorize that she might be dead, and it’s the first time since you’ve moved that you’re genuinely afraid for the city.
Almost two weeks after the fight, you notice the mail piling up in the overflow basket the other residents tossed atop the postal locker that holds everyone’s mailbox. Nosily, you flip through the first few, and it looks like most of the letters are addressed to the apartment two down from you. You chance a quick glance around before grabbing them and looking closer-- there doesn’t seem to be anything important, just the local take-out places pushing menus and a ‘Happy Howlidays!’ card from the pet shelter down the street. You start to feel something a bit like dread when you see that they’re all addressed to the same tenant, and when you check the postmarks to confirm your theory, you realize that yeah, nobody has been around to collect her mail for at least 12 days. Part of you wants to be excited that now you know for sure which apartment is hers, but mostly, you think as you step into the elevator, you just hope that Kara Danvers is okay.
Another week passes without news, and just as you and your roommates are starting to get really worried, all of Kara’s mail gets collected. The sight of the empty basket triggers a massive sigh of relief for a woman you’ve never even properly met, and you open the door to your apartment, ready to break the good news to Marco and Charlie. Instead, you’re met with Charlie and a woman you’ve never seen before.
“Uh, hi,” you say to your own kitchen, and both heads turn toward you.
“Oh hello!” the woman replies, getting up to take your hand in both of hers. “We haven’t met yet, but I live just on the other side of the hall.” Her hair is gray-white and her face wrinkles with her smile, and you like her instantly.
“This is Mrs. Hartley,” Charlie says from behind her. “She’s doing the baking this time.”
“Hi, Mrs. Hartley,” you smile, before peeking your head around to look at Charlie. “Uh… baking?” you ask.
“We like to bake for Ms. Danvers after she has… particularly hard days at work,” Mrs. Hartley says conspiratorially. You feign confusion a bit, side-eyeing your roommate for a tip as to how to proceed, and the old woman notices. “Oh sweetheart, we all know,” Mrs. Hartley says, giving your hand a gentle pat before stepping toward the door to see her way out. “And I’ll be sure to make extras for you. Are you allergic to anything?”
You blink. “Uh, no?”
“Glad to hear it. I’ll be back tomorrow with lemon coconut muffins,” she says as she shuffles out the door, and you barely have time to toss a confused “Bye” toward her before the door clicks shut. You turn toward Charlie, eyebrows knit together in confusion, and hope she’ll explain.
“Sorry, I forgot to tell you,” she says sheepishly. “Uh, the whole building kind of knows about Kara. Or at least, our floor does, and most of the floor below. We’re not totally sure about the people upstairs yet.”
“And everyone is managing to keep this secret?” you ask, amazed.
“It’s mostly friendly little old people who have lived here for decades, honestly,” Charlie answers. “None of them are really interested in having reporters swarming the building. Plus, they like her.”
“Supergirl?” You ask.
“No,” Charlie says thoughtfully, “Kara. They like Kara. I mean, I’m sure they like Supergirl too, but Kara’s been here for years, and she’s genuinely a good neighbor.”
You feel a bit of a tug at your heart at that. I really hope she’s okay, you think, and the look on Charlie’s face tells you she’s thinking the same thing.
You meet Kara for the first time not long after that. She steps into the elevator one morning just before the doors close, smiling apologetically at you when they start the long process of reopening and reclosing again before the car can move.
“Sorry,” she cringes, and at first, you don’t even realize it’s her. The first thing you notice about her is that she’s a little bit frazzled: she’s got a coffee in one hand and a donut, her keys, and a precariously clutched phone in the other. A single strand has fallen free from the bun her blonde hair is pulled into, and her glasses are just barely askew on her nose. You look closely at her, and even knowing what you know, it’s still extremely difficult to make sense of this woman being the same as the one at the docks that day.
“No worries,” you respond, and you’re pleased to find that your voice hasn’t given out on you even as your heart beats with the excitement of finally meeting her.
“Good morning,” she says brightly. Her phone rings before you have a chance to respond, and it’s almost comical to watch her juggle breakfast pastries and coffee and electronics to a point where she can reasonably answer it. Her face breaks into a massive smile before she slides her thumb across the screen, and you can practically feel the excitement radiating off of her as she answers with “Hi Lena!”
She gives you a half-wave as she steps out of the elevator, smiling into her phone in a way that you’re plenty familiar with. You don’t know who Lena is, and maybe you shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions, but there’s a seed planted somewhere in the back of your head that you’re going to keep an eye on, just in case.
The next time Supergirl saves the city, it’s your apartment’s turn. You can’t bake to save your own life and Charlie’s still at work, so you’re more than willing to let Marco take lead. His mother sends him her empanada recipe and he runs the kitchen like a drill sergeant for the better part of an afternoon, but you get to choose the playlist and you only burn yourself once, so all in all you consider it a win (and the empanadas are to die for).
This is how you find yourself outside of Kara’s door, tupperware full of still-hot empanadas in one hand, and the other poised to knock, on a Saturday evening. Nerves you’ve been pushing down all day begin to peek through the curtains again, and you reach out quickly and rap against the door before you have a chance to change your mind.
The door swings open to reveal a red-haired woman with a whiskey tumbler in one hand, and a half dozen Cards Against Humanity cards in the other.
“Hi,” she says, friendly but a little confused.
“Hi!” You reply, equally as confused. “I, uh… came to drop these off for Kara,” you say, gesturing to the container. “My roommates and I made a bunch of empanadas, and we thought maybe she’d--” You’re cut off by a burst of laughter from inside the apartment, and when the woman turns back to look, you see no less than six others scattered around the living room table.
“Oh, of course, thank you!” She says, tucking the cards between her glass and her fingers, and reaching her other hand out to shake yours. “I’m Alex, Kara’s sister.”
“Oh, hi! I’m in 504,” you say, pointing a thumb over your shoulder toward your door.
“Kara told me her neighbors bring her food all the time, but I didn’t really believe her,” Alex says lightly, taking the tupperware from you. “Is that a normal thing? You guys all make food for each other?”
You stumble over the question a bit. “Uh, yeah, you know, we all like to… make each other stuff. There’s a lot of baking for each other. You know, neighborly stuff.” Alex smiles at you in a way that tells you she’s unconvinced, and your heart beats a bit faster. You prepare to bolt back to your own home, “Anyway--”
“Wait,” Alex says, like she’s just realized something. “Wait here a second.” She disappears into Kara’s kitchen, and in the space she leaves behind, you see Kara and her friends, settled comfortably into the apartment and looking every bit as average and un-super as you and your own roommates are. Lena, that’s cheating, you hear her laugh, and as your eyes travel to find the woman she’s speaking to, Alex appears back in front of you, holding a square bottle. “Tequila!”
“Pardon?” You ask, even as you accept it.
“Kara can’t bake at all,” Alex says, “So I imagine she’s not doing much giving back in this communal baking thing you guys have got going on. This is our thank you!”
“Oh, you don’t have to--” you argue, but she cuts you off with a finger and a friendly smirk.
“Just take it. You know, neighborly stuff.”
You laugh at how she’s turned your own flimsy explanation against you, thank her, and say goodbye with promises to send regards to your roommates as well. And then, just before the door closes, you catch sight of the woman across from Kara-- and holy fuck, Lena is Lena Luthor?
You spend most of the rest of Saturday night trying to work out if you should mention your theory to Charlie or Marco. Probably not, you think, since there’s not a single bit of evidence to back it up besides a feeling you had in the elevator, but then Sunday morning comes.
It’s early and you’re tired, but you’re out of milk, and so you have no choice but to drag yourself out of the apartment and down the stairs to the corner shop. Interesting, then, that you should step out of the stairway at exactly the same time that Lena Luthor, definitely still wearing her clothes from the night before, steps off of the elevator. You blink twice as she strides past you, pulling her hair into a tight ponytail and stepping smoothly into a black car waiting for her outside of the building. You try (and fail) to fight the feeling of satisfaction as you rush to the shops and back home, and this is how Charlie (and Marco, an hour later) find you: sipping coffee impatiently at the kitchen counter, looking extremely smug.
“There’s no way,” Charlie says.
“I’m telling you,” you insist, “she was literally wearing the same clothes I saw her in last night.”
“I’m not arguing that they didn’t have a... sleepover,” she replies through a mouthful of toast, “but beyond that…”
“I’ve never considered that Kara could be gay,” Marco says thoughtfully. “Lena, sure, but--”
“What?” you ask, dumbfounded. “Hello? Aren’t you all also gay? Is everyone’s gaydar broken except for mine?”
“Okay, I object to that,” Charlie mumbles, pointing at you. “My gaydar is excellent. I knew Alex was gay way before she knew.”
You huff. “Fine. I just have a feeling.”
You’d promised yourself you wouldn’t do any digging out of respect for her privacy, but curiosity gets the better of you for the second time. You spend your entire lunch break the next day googling Kara Danvers, and you learn that by day she’s a pretty respected reporter. Her regular ‘exclusives with Supergirl’ actually make you laugh out loud. It’s a brilliant idea, really, and she’s a damn good writer as well, so you can’t fault her for using her resources to her advantage. The glowing article about Lena Luthor from a few years prior seriously catches your attention, and you file it away in the back of your brain under ‘Evidence I’m Definitely Not Collecting’, just in case.
You see Lena around twice more in the next two weeks, once in passing in the stairwell, and again on her way out on a Sunday morning. She’s not in her heels this time at least, and try as you might, you can’t dismiss the thought that purposely bringing flats to Kara’s apartment means she definitely planned to stay the night. You don’t mention it to your roommates, but you’re starting to feel like there’s something extremely obvious going on and you’re the only one who can see it.
On Thursday evening, there’s a bang so loud it rocks your entire apartment. You, Charlie, and Marco all come out of your rooms to share a look-- there’s a pretty good chance you all know where it came from. You spend the better part of thirty minutes debating whether or not you should go knock on the door and see if everything’s alright-- What if she’s fighting an alien? I don’t want to walk in on that. Yeah, but what if she’s hurt and we can help? What if she’s just working out or something? --before finally nominating Charlie to go check.
She comes back moments later, hands up when you bombard her as she comes through the door. “It’s fine, everything’s fine,” she says. “Alex answered the door, said it was no big deal. I couldn’t tell what happened, but it looked like Kara’s kitchen countertop was broken.” All three of you glance toward your own countertop, made of solid granite.
“Jesus,” Marco says, and you were just thinking the same thing.
There’s quite a bit of shuffling about and scraping and what sounds like a wholesale cleanup process the next day, and on Friday evening, you pass Kara in the hallway, propping her apartment open for the replacement.
“Oh hi!” She smiles at you, and then nods her head toward the delivery men angling the piece of stone through her doorway and kind of shrugs. “Getting some new counters.” You greet her back, and maybe your eyes are deceiving you, but swear you can see her impatiently flexing her own hands as she watches the two men slowly struggle under the weight of the granite.
On Sunday, the bang comes again, and scares Marco half to death as he’s trying to pour a glass of wine.
“No way did she just break it again,” Charlie says, but when you open the door and peek into the hallway, you see Alex standing in Kara’s doorway, fingers pinched on the bridge of her nose, and you just know that she very much did.
As you move to close your door quietly, you catch sight of an elderly man in the apartment directly across from Kara’s, who looks like he’s trying to fight a smile exactly as much as you are. You’re about to close your door when he steps out of his apartment toward Alex, a hand out in greeting.
“Hi, can’t help but notice you’re having some construction problems,” he says. Alex regards him suspiciously, but takes his hand gently.
“Yes, absolutely!” Kara calls out from behind her sister. “Sorry about the noise, Ronan,” she adds sheepishly. “I just had the counter replaced, but I um, I think they installed it wrong yesterday, so…”
The man called Ronan tilts his head to get a look at the damage through the doorway, and you see his eyes go wide. “Yeah, it looks fairly, um… pulverized.” Alex lets out a groan, but he continues on. “So, I have a nephew who works in private construction, and I was thinking I could give him a call for you, if you wanted.” His voice drops a bit lower. “You know, kind of no-questions-asked.”
Alex narrows her eyes. “What do you mean?”
“Oh nothing untoward!” He hurriedly responds. “Just that, if you ever need somebody to discreetly replace a 500 pound block of stone with,” he pauses, leans to the side again to peek through the door and accentuate his point, “a handprint in it, I’ve got a phone number.”
Alex looks as though she wants to argue, but then she looks at Kara again, who just shrugs sweetly and tries to look apologetic, and ultimately she sighs. “Thank you, Mr. Ronan. That would actually be really great.”
“Of course,” he says gently, and when he shuffles back into his apartment, Alex rounds on her sister. As you close the door quietly with a newfound respect for another one of your neighbors, you hear You couldn’t even last one day, Kara, I swear--.
Later that night, you and your roommates are tucked in around your television, you see Alex.
“Hold on, isn’t that--” you say, but all three of you know it’s her immediately. She’s in FBI uniform, giving a press briefing on off-world activities and Supergirl’s current cooperation with the government, and it suddenly strikes as you as so ridiculous that you can’t stop yourself from laughing.
“So Kara’s sister spends her entire work life with Supergirl, and her entire personal life with her sister, and still nobody knows about this but us?” You ask to nobody, because really?
“It is just a really, really, bad cover, isn’t it?” Charlie agrees, your laughter infecting her as well.
“I for one am grateful for our little apartment building’s secret society,” Marco says, several glasses of wine bringing out the slight touch of an accent long gone. “We’re the best neighbors. We’re super-neighbors.”
“Oh God,” Charlie groans. “Stop, that’s so goofy.”
“Superneighbors,” he repeats, raising his glass in a mock salute. “It’s like don’t-ask-don’t-tell, except with empanadas and coconut muffins instead of homophobia.” You and Charlie can’t contain your laughter at that, and all you can think is that if Supergirl really does have superhearing like the rumors say, then you’d better pray she’s not listening to her neighbors tonight.
A few weeks later, Charlie drops some cookies off with Kara and returns to your apartment with a bottle of whiskey worth almost as much as the monthly rent of your entire apartment. You’re all flabbergasted by this, because Kara doesn’t seem the type to drink 28 year old whiskey in a French crystalline decanter, let alone the type to give it away, but by the time you’ve all googled it and seen how much it’s worth, it’s too late to give it back. You have a sneaking suspicion this absurdly priced bottle of liquor is in fact in your home courtesy of one Lena Luthor, but in the end it doesn’t really matter anyway, because you’re all too intimidated by its price to open it, and too nice to try to re-sell it anyway. Marco sets it on the top of one of the bookshelves in your living room which everyone begins to lovingly refer to as “the super-whiskey bookshelf”, and it remains untouched.
“Okay, she’s not even trying to hide it anymore,” Marco says as he lets himself in and locks the door behind him. “My date and I were on the rooftop last night, and I literally saw Kara fly up to her windows in her civilian clothes, open them, and step inside like it was nothing.”
“Did anyone else see her?” Charlie asks.
“Well David didn’t,” he replies, flopping onto the couch. “Thank God I am so incredibly charming and quick-thinking. I just kept pointing out constellations so he wouldn’t look down, and he thought I was being romantic.”
“Oh that’s so cool, do you know the constellations?” you ask, delighted.
“Not a fucking clue,” he deadpans. “You’re welcome, Supergirl,” he calls toward the ceiling. “And also, what the hell? Her windows just open like doors? Do our windows open?”
You and Charlie make eye contact over the couch.
“No, they wouldn’t,” you say, holding her gaze.
“Right. Opening directly into a straight drop would be extremely stupid,” she says, staring straight back. Another second passes between you both, and then you break simultaneously, both jumping up to dash toward the wall of windows. You scour them all, top to bottom, but there are no hinges or latches to be found anywhere. Marco laughs at you both as you look, but you definitely catch him double-checking them all a few days later.
“Oh my God, you were right,” Charlie says as soon as she’s in the door.
“What? About what?” You ask, but she’s got shock written across her face in a way that makes you nervous. “Is everything okay?”
“Yes! No, but I mean yes. I just passed Lena crying in Kara’s arms in her doorway.”
You pause. “In like a, ‘hugging your friend after a breakup’ kind of way?”
Charlie gives you a look. “I mean. That’s not how I hold my platonic friends. And I also typically don’t do that in the hallway of my apartment building.”
You stay quiet for a moment as you think. “I’m going to ask her,” you say.
“You can’t just ask Supergirl if she’s dating--”
“I’m gonna do it,” you say, and you mean it.
You can’t do it. You see her twice at the mailboxes in the next week, but you just can’t bring yourself to ask.
You get your bag stolen once, during a picnic in the park. It’s a snatch-and-grab kind of thing, and the guy is off in a full sprint before you or Marco even have a chance to stand up from the blanket you’re on. You’re scolding yourself for your ignorance, telling Marco how you always tuck your ankle through the handle of your tote bag except for this one time, and God, your wallet was in that bag and now you’re going to have to go sit at the DMV to get a new license, and fuck, that was so stupid, and then-- your bag is handed back to you.
You glance up, and at the other end of your bag is Supergirl herself, slick and broad in the suit, cape snapping gently behind her from the soft way she’s touched down to the grass next to you.
“Don’t worry, he didn’t get anything,” she says to you, and you know this is Kara, you know this is just your goofy neighbor who burns everything she bakes and plays terrible music a little too loudly, but it’s also… not. She’s unbelievably cool and composed, and you’re reminded again how effective her two-personality camouflage really is. Your heart jumps hard in your chest as you reach out and retrieve your own bag from her, and then she smiles a brilliant, blinding, smile, and takes off before you can say thank you, leaving you a little bit breathless and very much blushing.
“Okay, wow, you look like you’re going to have a stroke,” Marco says lovingly as he pats your knee and hands you a bunch of grapes. “Reign it in. Have some fruit.”
“Right,” you say, mindlessly accepting them, still watching where she’s disappeared into the sky. “Right.”
You’re just leaving your apartment and locking your door when you see her. She’s entering her own apartment, and before you can even think, you call out “Hey, thank you.”
Kara freezes. For a second she doesn’t look anywhere but at the doorknob she’s got her hand wrapped around, and then she turns to meet your gaze head on. “For what?” She asks, and she’s almost convincing.
You see the wall she’s thrown up and recognize the reality of the situation for her, so you decide to walk yourself back. “Just for… being a good neighbor,” you say, and it’s definitely the weakest cover you’ve ever tried to sell, but.
She looks back at you for a moment, and then bites at her lip to hide a light smile. “You’re welcome,” she whispers, and that moment of a gentle shared understanding between you is something you won’t forget.
You’re drunk. Charlie is drunk, but in the responsible way that you know is a blessing for you and a curse for her. (Nobody will go to sleep dehydrated tonight. She’ll make sure of it.) Marco is drunk, but in a very frustratingly composed way, where you’re unable to ever really work out how drunk he is because he’s very very good at pretending to be sober. You’re regular drunk. You’re a little loud and a lot excited and you’re all going out tonight, and so maybe you’re singing and maybe Marco is harmonizing and maybe the three of you stumble a little bit into the hallway as you leave.
But then Marco goes suddenly silent and Charlie isn’t speaking either and you look up to see why nobody is singing along with you anymore and -- Oh.
Dreamer is here.
Dreamer is here?
All four of you freeze. She’s standing just outside Kara’s door. You’re standing outside your own door. Nobody speaks. A long, uncomfortable moment passes, in which nobody knows what to say, because one of National City’s superheroes is standing outside of Kara Danvers’ door as if that is the most normal thing in the world, and you are so drunk but you know that it actually is the most normal thing in the world, but you can’t say that, and so what are you supposed to--
Dreamer tilts her head toward Charlie, where a TRANS RIGHTS/TRANS POWER pin sits directly over her heart. “Cool pin,” the hero says.
A second of silence passes.
“Cool mask,” Charlie says.
Dreamer nods thanks. Charlie nods back. Another second passes. You grab at Marco’s hand, and take a surreptitious step toward the elevator; Marco follows you, and Charlie follows him, and on the tail of the most awkward silence you have ever experienced, all three of you are in the elevator car. Kara’s apartment door swings open just as you press at the ‘Ground’ button, and you hear Dreamer’s voice: Okay don’t get mad, but your neighbors saw me followed by an exasperated sigh, and This is why we talked about not wearing the suit all the ti---
The doors close, and the three of you stare blankly at the numbers as they count down from 5 to G, trying desperately not to laugh.
Later, when you’re all laying on the floor of your living room, exhausted and wasted and happy, Marco speaks. “Do all the superheroes in the city seriously meet in our shitty building? Like there’s really nowhere else they could be making plans to save the world?” And you laugh again, because you’re drunk, and it’s all just so, so, absurd.
You’re in the elevator with Lena, and she’s speaking to you, and your mind is completely empty.
“Kara’s told me about you,” she says, and there’s a hint of an accent on the last syllable that mesmerizes you. “The infamous empanadas from 504, right?”
“Uh,” Oh, God. Her eyes are just barely different shades of turquoise and her lips are so red and she is worth more money than you’re capable of imagining and how are you supposed to speak to her without your brain completely melting? How are you meant to lasso your thoughts as they disintegrate into the air right before your eyes?
And then Kara says “Lena!” and she is so full of sunshine, and you realize the divinity of the universe has rescued you: the elevator has opened on your floor, and Kara is right on the other side of the doors as they slide open.
“I’m so sorry I’m late,” Lena confesses, her question to you completely forgotten in the face of an energy as bright as Kara’s.
“No, no, it’s fine! I was coming down to meet you, actually, so we don’t miss our reservations,” the blonde grins, and it’s been all of 7 seconds, but you feel intensely like you’re intruding on something intimate.
“Okay,” Lena smiles, and they look at each other, and you look at them, and then they’re looking at each other, and then the elevator doors start closing. Kara just laughs and reaches out to stop them, and Lena pulls at Kara’s hand to tug her into the elevator, and Jesus Christ you need to get the hell out of here before they start writing wedding vows.
“Great to meet you,” you say as fast as you can, and then you book it to your apartment and throw yourself inside, and if there’s ever been any proof in the world that two people were dating, that was absolutely it.
Somebody tries to kill Lena. It’s all over the news, and they’re saying she’s stable now but Jesus, you just really hope Kara’s okay. She doesn’t seem to be around much, and you keep an eye on her mailbox and you linger a little too long in the hallway, but there’s no sign of her for almost a week.
On the seventh day, you see her. You try not to let yourself look as excited as you feel, but if Kara’s home, it must mean Lena’s really okay, and you really have no choice now but to be invested.
“Kara, hi!” You say, and as soon as the words leave your mouth you realize you’ve already failed at being casual.
“Hi,” she smiles back warmly, “How have you been? Alex said to say hi.”
“Good, good, tell her I said hi too,” you respond. She follows you into the elevator. “It’s good to see you again. Is your girlfriend okay?”
She snaps her head toward you. “What?”
“Lena,” you say, and you mean every bit of concern in your tone. “I saw that she was poisoned, I’m so, so, sorry.”
Kara’s eyes land on everything in the elevator except your own. “I don’t--- She’s not-- ” she tries, stuttering, and you feel your stomach drop as you realize your mistake.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” you rush out. “I just saw you two, and I thought--”
“No, it’s fine!” she says, talking over you. “It’s totally fine! But we’re not-- we’re just friends. Not that I have any problem with-- we just, you know--”
“Right! Right,” you say, and your cheeks are lighting up pink and you can feel the burn on the tips of your ears with embarrassment because how could you have read that so wrong? “I’m so sorry,” you repeat again, but then your nerves just kickstart your mouth and you feel yourself start to speak even as you will your brain to stop. “Totally my bad. I’m probably just biased, because like, I’m gay, and all my roommates are gay, and you know how gays definitely tend to flock together,” Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. “So I probably just over-assume everyone is gay…” Your mouth stops moving, but your mind is perfectly active as your soul withers in humiliation. You opt for silence for danger of whatever you might say if you keep speaking, but the damage is already done.
Kara looks at you, face unreadable, and you have to fight the visceral urge to continue apologizing. “Right… flock together” she says with a forced laugh, but it sounds less like she’s agreeing with you and more like she’s thinking very hard. “Lena and I are just friends, though,” she smiles, and the elevator doors open, “but good to see you again!” She steps away and speeds through the front door of the building without looking back, and you briefly wonder if “the most mortifying moment of my existence” would count as an appropriate cause to call in sick to work.
You can’t even tell your roommates. You can count on one hand the amount of life-changingly disastrous conversational interactions you’ve had, and this one ranks pretty goddamn near the top. If you tell Charlie, she’ll try to console you, which will be embarrassing; if you tell Marco, he will make fun of you until the day you die, which is probably reasonable, given the circumstances.
You decide instead to try to forget it, and also to try extremely hard to never interact with Kara again. Charlie gets the mail, Marco delivers the baked goods, and if you can get through a few months without having to speak to her, you hope that your horrendous misstep can be forgotten. (It won’t, you know. This will be your Greatest Shame for a very long time.)
Two weeks later, she knocks on your door.
Marco opens it, expecting Mrs. Hartley, and instead he’s met with earnest blue eyes and a face like the sun.
“Hey,” he says.
“Hi,” she replies.
A moment passes between them, and it’s this silence at the door that piques your attention from the living room.
“Um, I brought these…” Kara says, and you can’t see what she’s offering, but Marco accepts it without question. “They say ‘Thank You’,” she continues. “Your friend, um, said some stuff that, kind of, helped me… realize some stuff...”
“Uh,” Marco says.
You stand from your place on the couch, and she sees you over Marco’s shoulder, zeroing in on you in relief like a lifeline. “Hi! Thank you so much,” she says, and Marco steps aside so you two can speak. “You… do you remember a few weeks ago, in the elevator?”
You’ve been trying to forget that moment for almost a month, but you don’t say that. “Yeah,” you reply.
“Well I…” she motions toward the plate of cookies in Marco’s hands that read ‘Thank You’ in a looping script.
“They’re beautiful,” you say honestly.
Marco stuffs one in his mouth whole. “You made these?” he asks, muffled through the cookie.
“No, actually,” Kara replies sheepishly. “My L-- My girlfriend made them.” She glances toward you as she says it, and your eyes snap up to hers, a grin exploding huge across your face.
“Tell her they’re amazing,” Marco responds, walking back into the kitchen nonchalantly.
“I’m really glad,” you say quietly, and the smile on your face is so broad that you can’t control it.
“Me too,” she whispers back. “Thank you.”
You close the door, and spin to face Marco. He smiles mischievously, and then calls out for Charlie.
“What, what is it?” she asks, stepping into the doorway of her bedroom and rubbing her eyes.
“It’s finally time to open the super-whiskey.”