Title: Empire State of Mind – Chapter 12b: The Start
Word Count: 2300
Disclaimer: Glee is copyrighted and belongs to the creators and Fox. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for-profit, it constitutes fair use. Use of other personalities is not a reflection of their real lives and is completely fictional. Title taken from Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind, this fiction does not use any other material from the song.
Summary: AU Two very different young women find themselves in the big city of New York about to embark on the biggest career moves of their lives.
A/N: A short one I’m afraid, it ties up the last chapter so I can move on with the story, so please forgive me. Also I apologise for the long delay, things have happened in RL that I couldn’t get away from.
Previous Chapters: Prologue / Chapter 1: Sweat and Tears / Chapter 2: Hustle and Bustle / Chapter 3: Will and Hope / Chapter 4: Tiptoe / Chapter 5: Entwined / Chapter 6: New Beginning / Chapter 7: Two Become One / Chapter 8: Unholy Trinity / Chapter 9: Stripped / Chapter 10: Las Madres / Chapter 11: Head. Ache. / Chapter 12: Top of the Rock
Crazy. It was one way to describe the day. However, upon second thought, it would describe the previous six months perfectly. Nothing had happened how she envisioned it. Her career had soared to a whole other level, she was getting the recognition she deserved by peers and other industry influences. She had her own apartment in probably the most famous city in the world. But to her, the one thing that had snuck up on her was the relationship she found herself in with who she believed to be the most incredible girl in the world, and yet there was still more to learn about her. The idea thrilled her. So far, every new discovery was like she was opening her eyes for the first time to Technicolor. It was exhilarating. Here she lay, the love of her life cradled in her arms, her mind drifting over the events of the evening as her eyelids grew heavier with sleep.
"You didn't win," three words uttered, stung the brunette, not for the content, but for the tone. Accusatory would be the most accurate way to describe it, maybe even disappointed. It was one thing for Santana to be a chef, but if her mother were to accept her profession then she at least expected her to be the best. The young woman sighed, never would she live up to her mother's expectations. Feeling a slender pair of arms wrap snugly around her waist, she leaned gently against her support. The side of her head rested upon Brittany's collar.
"You're a winner to me babe," the blonde reassured with a gentle kiss to the top of her girlfriend's head. Santana's own arms wrapped tightly around the dancer, squeezing her appreciation.
"Love you," Santana mumbled into the soft skin beneath her lips.
"Now that," Eva beamed at full volume, "is what I call punching above your weight Santana Lopez. Well done you."
Several pairs of nervous eyes rested upon the two Latinas. Brittany's grip on her girlfriend tightened in warning, protecting the brunette from saying anything she may regret later. "It's ok." Santana urged as she gently untangled herself from the blonde.
"You're right," she conceded. She watched emotionless as her mother's jaw dropped. So seldom did her daughter agree with her or back down from a pending argument.
"I'm sorry what?" her mother asked in astonishment, almost stuttering over her words. Almost. So assured of herself was Eva Lopez, she would not be rattled so easily. If anything, the elder Lopez always kept her wits about her. She was prepared for any eventuality, however absurd it may seem to her.
"I said, 'you're right'," Santana repeated, her voice worryingly calm. "If this City has taught me anything, it's that anything is possible."
"I don't understand."
Santana shrugged at her mother's confusion. "I had always put my career first. You know that," she began. "And I found love when I was least expecting it, in fact, it found me. Brittany found me, she saved me and I'm not sure who else in the world could have done that because even my own mother had no faith in me."
"San-" Eva began, reaching forward. Santana snatched her hand away, her father offering a small apologetic smile as he took a hold of his tipsy wife's hand.
"Brittany is everything I could only ever dream of, so much, I gave up dreaming. After so many disappointments and set backs I didn't want to deal with it any more. I didn't feel like I was good enough for anyone," the Latina spoke with such honesty, tears pooled in her eyes, threatening to spill. The crowd that had stilled, now began talking quietly amongst themselves, awarding the Lopez's the privacy they deserved. Most of the people in the room were Santana's colleagues and friends and family of the restaurant staff. Brittany remained behind Santana, her hand resting supportively upon the brunette's back. "Brittany is so amazing and so special and beautiful and she chose me. So yeah, sometimes I don't feel like I'm enough for her, but I did win Mom, I won Brittany's heart."
The hand on her back twitched before she felt it leave her completely. The coldness forced the tears to spill from her chocolate brown eyes, her brow knitted together before she swept up in a crushing hug. Soft, tender words echoed through her ears, calming her almost instantly. Santana relaxed into the arms that had become her home. Her breathing evened out, the sadness dissipating slowly. She was disappointed, she was so sure her mother had turned a corner and accepted her career choice, yet a couple of glasses of champagne had inadvertently loosened her tongue.
What surprisingly did not bother Santana as much as she had thought was the fact her career now took a back seat. Sure she loved it, she gave it everything she had, Santana just did not spend as much time there anymore because now she had Brittany. The blonde had almost seamlessly fit into her life, their working schedules similar in the free time it afforded them and often times they would spend it together. It meant Santana was more amiable, approachable and agreeable at work, spending less time there meant it was quality time spent there and she had seen the benefits of it. In a way, she was a better Chef, certainly a better manager. Twelve months ago, had she been nominated for an award, the Latina would have put in all the hours in the day to prove she deserved it. Now she was wiser.
"Hey," Brittany said, gently cupping the brunette's cheeks in her hands. When Santana refused to meet her gaze, she tried again, "hey."
The tears making tracks over Santana's soft skin broke Brittany's heart. She leaned forward, attempting to kiss the tears away with her lips, whispering soothing words of encouragement and love to ease the sadness that she saw in the brown orbs before her. The brunette attempted a smile, it grew as she saw the sincerity and love in the crystal clear blue eyes of her girlfriend. "Hey," she replied.
"I think she's had too much to drink," Brittany began.
"Don't," Santana said before a small hiccup escaped her lips, both women giggled, before the brunette spoke again. "Don't make excuses for her Britt."
"I just want you to feel better."
"I know," Santana smiled, "and I do. I've never felt happier."
"Those tears would disagree with you Miss Lopez," Brittany smiled. She hugged Santana closer, wrapping her arms fully and protectively around the brunette's body. "All mine."
"I love you," Santana offered, her voice muffled against Brittany's chest.
"You may have mentioned that," the blonde laughed, pulling away to look at the Chef's face. She shrugged before continuing, "but I'll never tire of hearing you say it." Brittany loosened her grip on the brunette and was rewarded with a pout. Laughing, she leaned forward and placed a kiss on the inviting lips before her.
"Oh must they, in public,." a distant voice was heard.
"Hey," a louder voice shouted across the girls aimed towards the other side of the room. Santana's eyes widened in horror as she watched her mother march passed herself and Brittany. The blonde and the brunette turned their heads, following the path of the elder Lopez. Mr Lopez hurried behind his opinionated wife. "I said, 'hey'," Eva almost bellowed. Once again the room grew quiet, emphasising the volume of Eva Lopez's voice. "Do you have a problem?"
"Erm, I just..." the quiet stuttered reply came.
"Are two people so obviously in love offending you?" Eva started, "You know this is a private party. I suggest if you don't like it, you leave."
"Wow," Brittany began.
"I know," Santana agreed, "she's like two different sides of the same coin."
"But a coin does have two sides," the blonde pondered. "Oh." Santana grinned as the penny dropped, smirking at her own pun.
"We were invited," a third voice spoke, deeper and louder. Brittany's head shot toward it, she ducked and dodged, trying to look around Eva and Roberto Lopez. She clung on to her girlfriend, squeezing her eyes closed, silently praying to the gods above she was wrong.
"Britt," Santana said, concern lacing her voice.
"I think our parents have just met," she replied, one eye inching open, just in time to witness the brunette's jaw drop. Santana quickly grabbed a hold of Brittany's hand and dragged her over towards the impromptu meeting of the parents.
"Oh really and just who would invite such big-"
"Mom!" Santana all but yelled as they approached the group. Eva snapped her head around and stared incredulously at her daughter, angry for being interrupted.
"Santana Lopez, can't you see I was defending your-" Mrs Lopez began.
"Mom," the Chef tried again, wishing her mother would take the hint and stop talking. The brunette was sure Valerie Pierce's opinion of her relationship with her daughter would dwindle further if Eva were to continue in such a manner. "I see you've met Mr and Mrs Pierce." she emphasised the surname, sending her mother a warning glance. She was amazed at the sudden transformation of her mother as she stuck out a hand in greeting.
"Eva Lopez, how do you do?" Ray tentatively took a hold of Eva's hand and shook it firmly, his gaze drifting to his daughter and her girlfriend, nothing but embarrassment and shame plastered across the young Latina's face. She knew her mother would offer no apology. If anything, Eva was an advocate of gay rights, particularly Santana's and she would never be ashamed of her daughter or her relationship. The brunette was grateful for it. In small doses. "While it is a pleasure to meet the parents of my daughter's delightful and gorgeous girlfriend, I still don't understand why you are against them sharing a little kiss."
Valerie scowled, she did not want to get into an argument about what she thought was appropriate behaviour with Eva, or with anyone. She had not meant for her comment to fall upon any ears, and it so happened to reach those of the proud mother of her daughter's girlfriend. She could sense a rocky relationship with Lopez's. "Mom," Brittany said, the elder Pierce looked at her daughter questioningly. Bewilderment painted her features, unsure how to take the scene that had just transpired before her. Her eyes softened at the pleading look in Brittany's honest orbs. She trusted Brittany and she liked Santana a lot and had come around to them being together, however the public kiss had knocked her sideways somewhat and after a glass of wine had felt compelled to comment. She now regretted it.
"I'm sorry sweetheart," Valerie began, "I didn't mean to-"
"I know Mom," Brittany sympathised, giving her mother a hug. "I know it's hard for you, I'm sorry."
"Don't be," Valerie stated as Brittany stepped back accepting Santana's hand into her own, she gave it a squeeze and glanced at her girlfriend briefly before turning her attention back to her mother. "Mrs Lopez is right, you're so obviously in love and you have every right to show that. It's me with the problem, not you two and I'm sorry I treated you the way I did."
Santana's eyebrows hit her hairline, unsure if her hearing was playing an evil trick on her. All the while Eva stood by, her hands on her hips, head nodding up and down in an 'I told you so' manner. Her face smug and proud. Santana scoffed at her mother, it was so typical of her. The hand in her own was gone in an instant and her girlfriend had wrapped her arms around Valerie, releasing a small sob in the crook of her mother's neck. Valerie hugged her daughter back tightly as Ray and Santana watched, smiling in awe.
"You're welcome," stated Eva. "Now where's my Champagne. Waiter!"
The Latina laughed, the whole evening since they had returned to the restaurant for the party had been ridiculous. Following a very elegant awards ceremony, the after party became completely unscripted. Everything that could go wrong had gone wrong until now. In a bizarre turn of events, Eva Lopez had been the one to turn Valerie's opinion of their relationship in their favour. She understood it was not completely her mother's doing. Valerie had been through a lot to come to terms with the fact Brittany was in a loving and committed relationship with Santana. Yet the missing piece of the puzzle came in the form of the very opinionated tone of one Eva Lopez. Santana did not know whether to laugh or cry. Either way, she looked at her mother with a new fondness, she was grateful, though she would never say so out loud within her mother's earshot. Her ego was large enough already.
Laying in bed together that night, both women could not be more grateful for what they had both achieved in life. But it was each other that they were truly thankful for as they both brought out the best in one another. Together they felt they could conquer anything, from wayward ex's to unruly and opinionated mothers. It had been a strange day, from start to finish. It had been a whirlwind six months which neither had expected. But it was the next day when they awoke in each other's arms and the next six months together that would be exciting, offering new challenges along the way. This was just the beginning.