Lena had been spacey and distracted since returning to her seat. She’d ignored Sam’s questioning glances, and later, the questions themselves. She didn’t want to admit to her assistant – to herself, really – that she’d stalked the artist, and then offered her a job for no other reason than to be closer to her.
The sound of clapping broke through her thoughts, and Lena regarded the stage where another actor had taken the spotlight. She watched his performance for a full minute before losing interest. So far, no one had caught her eye. Ella Peters had left half an hour into the auditions, proclaiming it a waste of her time. Lena might have been tempted to follow suit were it not for the fact that Lucy’s audition was coming up.
There was another round of clapping, and Lena glanced down to see a familiar brunette take the stage. Lucy Lane introduced herself and the two contrasting monologues she’d prepared. After a short pause, she began.
Lena hadn’t been expecting much. All performances up to that point had been adequate, perhaps excellent at times, but certainly not what they were searching for. Lucy, on the other hand, was something else entirely.
As Lena sat in her balcony seat, watching Lucy Lane, she found herself shaking her head. What were the odds that Lucy would be this talented?
“What do you think?” Diana asked, when Lucy had finished and the thunderous clapping had died down.
“She’s worth calling in.”
“Agreed.” Diana wrote something down in the notebook she carried. “I also liked that other girl; the one with the hot pink scarf and the funky glasses.”
Lena must have been spaced out during that one. “Uh, yeah. She was good.”
“Great. I feel good about this.”
Lena smiled at the director’s optimism, but felt a pain in the pit of her stomach. Her life, which up until this point had felt simple and straightforward, was suddenly spinning out of her control. Even if she had never emailed Kara, she would still be sitting there in that theater, agreeing to grant Lucy Lane an audition.
“Maybe it’s fate,” Sam whispered, as if reading her thoughts.
Lena ignored the comment. Ignoring things seemed, for the moment, like the best thing to do.
“I still think we should go out and celebrate or something,” said Lucy, as she tossed her keys onto the kitchen table. “I mean, just the fact that she suggested – hell, just the fact that she came up to you. When does shit like that happen? Never. Shit like that doesn’t happen. We should celebrate the anomaly that is your encounter with Lena Luthor.”
Kara sat down on the couch and kicked off her shoes. “If we’re to celebrate anything, it’s your totally kick-ass audition today. When did you get that good?”
“I’ve always been that good,” Lucy said, without an ounce of modesty. She dropped down on the couch beside Kara and popped open a can of soda. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean crap. Lena and her posse will probably cast that guy... the one that was drooling during his monologue.”
“It was some pretty impressive drool.”
“Or how about that girl, the one who clicked her tongue after every other word. It was like, ‘Today tsk I went to the bank tsk and it was great tsk.’ What was that?”
Kara laughed, both at the memory, and at Lucy’s rendition. “There were quite a few disasters up on that stage.”
“Thank God, too, ‘cause it would’ve been so boring with no one to make fun of. Anyway, back to this whole Lena Luthor business... I feel like we should be screaming and jumping around or something. Just sitting here feels wrong; like it’s no big deal that a major celebrity wants to hang your artwork in her apartment. I don’t know how you can act so blasé about the whole thing.”
Kara felt anything but blasé. She had fidgeted in her seat the entire time she’d been at the theater. As much as she hadn’t wanted to think about it, or get her hopes up, she couldn’t quite stop trying to picture what it would be like to work for Lena Luthor; she couldn’t help but worry about all of the things that could go wrong. What if the actress didn’t like what Kara came up with? What if Kara was unable to meet Lena Luthor’s demands?
The ringing of the telephone broke through Kara’s thoughts, and she was secretly thankful for the interruption. As much as she prided herself in telling Lucy everything, she was embarrassed by her worries. Why, for once, couldn’t she just feel proud?
From somewhere in the apartment Kara heard Lucy say, “This is Lucy Lane,” in the voice she reserved for Matters of Great Importance. Curious now, Kara turned around in the couch to catch her best friend walking back into the living room. “Absolutely,” Lucy said into the phone, “...where?... ten o’clock? I’ll be there... Do I need to prepare anything?... Oh, sure... no that’s no problem... see you then.” Lucy clicked the phone off and stared at Kara. “Okay, now it’s my turn to ask if this is a dream.”
“Who was that?” Kara asked.
“That? That was frickin’ Diana Prince! She was only like one of my favorite theater actresses ever. And then she completely dropped off the map and reappeared as a film director at Sundance a couple of years ago. And now she’s calling me because she saw me today and wants me to come in and audition for her next film.”
Kara hopped off the couch. “Okay, now I feel like we should be screaming and bouncing around.”
Lucy suddenly looked panicked. “Oh God, I need a haircut. And a new outfit. We need to go right now. Get your coat.”
Kara frowned at her best friend. “Your hair is fine.”
“Fine? Fine?! I can’t get a role in a movie looking fine, Kara. I need to look spectacular. I need to blow them away. Looks first, talent later. Come on. We’ve got serious ground to cover.”
Lena stared at the computer screen, at the flashing cursor ticking away the seconds of wasted time. For days, she’d gotten only as far as writing “Dear Kara” before getting distracted or interrupted or simply giving up. It had been easy at first to tune in to that other part of her; to slip into the character of her distant, other self, and forget, however briefly, that she was pretending.
But now the thought of emailing Kara made Lena feel only ashamed. Each time her fingers moved over the keys, her mind would flash back to the artist, standing before her, beautiful and unsuspecting. Everything she thought to say felt like a lie, and lying was out of the question.
She closed the laptop and placed it beside her on the couch, feeling depressed and alone in her empty hotel room.
The knock at the door was soft but audible in the sudden silence and Lena frowned briefly before moving to answer it.
Diana stood in the hallway, looking somewhat hesitant to be there. She smiled shyly. “I hope this isn’t a bad time?”
Lena regarded the director with mild curiosity. “Not at all,” she said. “Would you like to come in?”
“No, that’s okay.”
Lena felt nervous suddenly, and didn’t know why. She now regretted telling the director the truth about herself. It made her feel exposed. It made her feel unbearably shy. But at least she could pretend to feel otherwise. Acting was, after all, what she did best.
“I just came by because... well, what are your plans for tonight?”
“None.” Lena smiled. “Why? Did you schedule some exciting auditions for tonight?”
“Actually, I got a couple of tickets for Wicked and it was either invite you or invite Ella Peters or just go by myself, and honestly, the first option was the most appealing so... here I am. You are, of course, under no obligation to say yes.”
Lena’s nervousness escalated. “Uh...”
“It’s not a date,” Diana added, “if that’s what you’re worried about. I mean, unless you want it to be. Not that I want it to be a date... or not want it to be. Uh...” She took a breath. “How am I doing on the smoothness scale?”
Diana looked so nervous that Lena had to smile. At least she wasn’t alone. “Wicked sounds fun,” she said, because it was the truth and because the thought of being outside was less depressing than the alternative.
“Excellent. Glad this wasn’t as awkward as I feared.” Diana laughed. “Seven o’clock sound okay to you? Meet up in the lobby?”
“It’s a plan.” She’d almost said ‘date’ but stopped herself. “See you then.”
Lena closed the door and leaned against it. She let out a long breath and tried to relax.
Diana had asked her out. Sort of. Diana had maybe kind of asked her out, which made tonight a sort of kind of maybe date to which she had said yes.
She thought of Kara suddenly. At that moment, she wanted nothing more than to talk to the artist. She wanted to gather up her mess of feelings and drop them at Kara’s feet, to sit quietly by and watch the artist sort through them. She wanted it to be Kara who sat in her room, telling her what to wear. She wanted it to be Kara that stood at the other end of the evening, eagerly awaiting the details of her date.
Lena desperately wanted Kara to know her, really know her; not as Tess, not as Lena Luthor, but as her. The part of her not captured on film. The part of her few others saw.
She sighed sadly, glancing at the computer. Perhaps she could drop Kara a quick email. Just to say hello. Saying hello wouldn’t be a lie.
Back on the couch, Lena stared at the empty email message before starting to type.
I’m sorry I’ve been so bad about writing to you. I’m not the best at online communication.
However, I really wanted to say hi and see how you’re doing.
Currently, I’m freaking out a bit over the fact that She Who Saved Me From Boring Conversation asked me out. Well... that’s not entirely true. She invited me to go with her to see a play. The date-or-not-date aspect wasn’t quite clear as she kind of stumbled through that section.
I have no idea what to wear.
I hope your day is going well.
Lena wondered why everyone felt the need to leave the theater at the exact same time.
Did they all have important meetings to get to? Was the air inside so suffocating? Had someone shouted, “Fire!” the moment the curtain had gone down? She watched the crowds of people as they pushed their way toward the exits.
“So what did you think?”
Lena turned to Diana. They were both still seated in their VIP seats, waiting for the masses to disperse. “I loved it,” she said. “I feel like watching it all over again.”
Diana smiled brightly. “That can be arranged. I’m sorry I could only get two tickets. I’m sure you would’ve liked to invite Jack and Sam along.”
The comment surprised Lena, but she didn’t show it. “They’re actually out on a romantic tour of the city.”
“So, you and Jack... you were never really...”
“A couple? No. The media liked us together so we went along with it.” Lena shrugged, feeling uncomfortable with the conversation.
Diana nodded. “Yeah, I know how that goes.”
Lena wondered at that, but didn’t ask. “Looks like the coast is clear. Shall we?”
Lena trailed after Diana, wondering what might come next. Despite her nervousness she didn’t want the evening to end. She enjoyed the director’s company. More than that, she dreaded the thought of returning to her empty hotel room.
“Are you hungry?”
She was, Lena suddenly realized. She was starving. “Very.”
“I wasn’t sure if you wanted to go back to the hotel or not...”
Lena smiled. “What did you have in mind?”
Diana laughed and looked away. Lena thought she saw her blush. “For dinner? I have just the place.”
Kara settled into bed and pulled the covers over herself in an effort to keep warm. The temperature outside had dropped considerably and the temperature inside her room wasn’t faring any better. She shivered and pulled the laptop closer.
She’d spent the evening chasing Lucy from store to store, giving half-hearted opinions about outfits she’d never personally wear in her lifetime, and trying desperately to think up a good excuse to escape. But she’d stayed through to the end of the madness, as a good best friend would, and now she was happy to be home, tucked away in the peacefulness of her room, freezing her ass off.
Kara watched the email load on her screen. She hadn’t heard from Tess since their phone conversation. Their email exchanges had tapered off over the past couple of weeks and Kara wondered if she should take the hint and stop writing. But just as she had the thought, the name Tess Thorul caught her eye.
She read the email over a couple of times. She’d developed a strange habit of reading Tess’s emails too quickly the first time around, as though it might suddenly self-destruct and disappear forever. Then she clicked reply.
Well if she stumbled her way through asking you it definitely sounds like a date to me!
That’s exciting. I can’t wait to hear (read?) all about it.
Things on my end are... well. Where to start? This morning I went with Lucy to an audition thing because she likes to drag me along to these sorts of things. I think she gets bored going places where she has to wait around and needs to have someone there to hear her talk.
Anyway, long story short, I ran into Lena Luthor just as I was coming out of the men’s room (don’t ask). I was terribly humiliated, especially since she actually a) remembered me b) came over to talk to me. If that wasn’t bizarre enough, she also claimed to be looking for me. (!!!) And then she told me she wanted to hire me to create some art for her new apartment.
See, I’m typing this but I almost feel like all of it is a dream I had instead of something that actually happened.
Then, because the day just wasn’t surreal enough, Lucy got a call from some movie director who wants her to audition for a film. She spazzed out and dragged me to every store in downtown Manhattan in search of... hell, I don’t even know what it was she was looking for.
I’m even unsure as to whether or not she found it.
So yes, today has been insane. I keep randomly pinching myself because it all seems too... incredible, really.
It might all go nowhere, of course. Lena Luthor could just as easily forget all about me tomorrow (I sort of expect her to actually) and Lucy might not get a role in the film. But at this moment, it’s wonderful just to feel... validated.
Anyway, I’m afraid I must end this now because my fingers are about to fall off from the cold. I dream of one day living in an apartment with proper heating.
Bet it’s nice and warm where you are. :)
Hope you’re having fun on your date!
Your frozen friend,
Lena shivered and dug her hands deep into the pocket of her coat. Diana’s idea of ‘just the place’ wasn’t quite what Lena had imagined. She’d pictured a restaurant with walls, and tables, and chairs; a place where the two of them might sit across from one another and exchange conversation over a bottle of wine.
Lena stared up at the big, somewhat gaudy sign that read Gray’s Papaya and arched an eyebrow at Diana. “Here?”
Diana smiled. “Both the best and the cheapest hot dogs you’ll ever have. My treat.”
Lena couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a hot dog. She wasn’t entirely certain that she ever had. “The best, you say?”
“What do you want on it?”
Diana laughed. “How brave of you.”
The director got in line and Lena stood off to the side. Despite her best attempts to blend into the wall, she was recognized almost immediately, and spent the subsequent minutes signing her name onto ketchup-stained napkins and posing for pictures with strangers.
Diana eventually rescued her by placing a hot dog in her hand and dragging her away from the crowd. “I’m sorry about that. I forgot who you were for a moment. You could’ve stayed in the limo.”
Lena smiled, liking the thought that Diana could see her as something other than a famous actress. “I didn’t really mind. It kept my mind off the cold.”
Back in the limo, Lena glanced down at the hot dog. It was piled sky high with sauerkraut. She’d never felt quite as intimidated by a meal before. “You sure this is safe to eat?”
The director laughed and took a bite of her own. “Mmm.”
Lena took a deep breath and gave in. After the second bite, she decided Diana wasn’t quite as insane as she’d originally imagined.
“It’s quite good.”
Diana grinned. “I was worried you were going to hate it.”
“Yet you seemed so confident.”
“Never let them see you sweat.”
Lena smiled and returned to her food. She thought of Kara, because thinking of Kara had become a constant. Did Kara like hot dogs? It was an odd thing to wonder. What difference did it make if she did or didn’t?
“What would you like to do now?” Diana asked. “If you’re not already sick of me, that is.”
Lena finished eating and glanced at the director. “Where did all that confidence go?”
“Unless you’d rather lie.”
Diana took a deep breath. “You make me nervous.”
“I make you nervous?” Lena frowned briefly. “Why?”
“Because I have no idea what you’re thinking. I have no idea if you’re having fun or if you’re bored or if you enjoy my company or if you’re just humoring me.”
“I suppose that’s true. But then, I don’t know any of those things about you either.”
“Really? Do I seem bored?”
“I’m not sure. Honestly, I’ve been too busy being nervous myself to wonder.”
Diana looked surprised. “I make you nervous?”
“You don’t seem nervous.”
“I’m an actress.”
Diana laughed at that. “Okay. Well, why do I make you nervous?”
Lena sighed and looked away. The limo was inching along with no particular destination, and she was on the brink of blunt honesty. What was it about New York that made her feel like an entirely different person? What was it about being here that made her want to take risks? “You make me nervous because I’ve never so much as kissed another woman, and being around you terrifies me.”
Diana looked at her for a long moment. The sound of traffic hung in the background, distant but audible against the silence. “Because I’m gay?”
Lena caught the director’s gaze. “Because you know I am. Because I don’t even know if this right here is a date or not, so I’m not altogether sure what to expect. I can’t even decide if I want it to be a date or not. I’m worried you’ll mistake me for someone with experience when I’m anything but. I’ve been hiding my entire life and I’m comfortable in that place. Miserable, but comfortable; lonely, but comfortable. So yeah, you make me nervous. Petrified, even.”
Diana seemed to absorb that. She smiled. “How about you get back to me when you decide whether or not you want this to be a date, and we’ll go from there?”
Lena relaxed suddenly. “Okay.” They settled into an easy silence. After a moment, she added, “I am having fun, by the way.”
Diana smiled brightly. “Me too.”