Title: Empire State of Mind – Prologue
Rating: generally 15 – R (may reach NC-17 in some chapters)
Word Count: 2700
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.
It was a cold, blustery, typical January New York day. The sky was grey with the ever present threat of snow or rain. Tall, threatening buildings towered over the sidewalks, casting ominous shadows to the pedestrians below, briefly providing a welcomed respite from the biting winds. It was a day for warm woollen coats, fluffy hats, thick gloves, and hugging scarves. The chill factor was certainly prevailing, not caring for its countless sufferers. But it was a part of the charm. The weather of New York was as mainstay as the abundance of attractions. Today was no different. As the darkness descended into light through the break of dawn, for some the day was just ending, for others, it was just the beginning.
Today was the big day.
For two people, today was set to catapult them into the rest of their lives. On opposite sides of the City, slept two different individuals, about to embark on the biggest day of their careers so far. This was make or break for both them.
The brunette stirred, she had endured a restless night of tossing and turning. She had only been in the city for several weeks and it was a vast difference to the lifestyle she had become accustomed to in Los Angeles. The opposite side of the country. She had flown in from a warm sunny climate to what can only be described as arctic conditions. The moment Santana Lopez stepped through the automatic doors of JFK airport, she had come to realise the pilot was indeed right with his weather report. So far, she has yet to even glimpse the big orange ball of fire in the sky, home seemed so far away. Thinking of golden sands, blue oceans and tropical palm trees, Santana sighed, her mind coming to focus as her eyes fluttered open. Turning over, she glanced at the clock beside the bed. It was far too early; in her line of work Santana was used to late nights and late mornings. Until recently, she had forgotten this time of the day even existed. Reaching over toward the clock, she hit a button to prevent the alarm from sending a deafening shrill throughout the room.
It was going to be a long day – that much she could predict. She had to get to work early, ensure all the plans were in place, that everything she needed had been ordered and delivered and was up to the standard she expected, or rather, demanded. Santana had learnt her trade in Europe, ever thankful for the funds her parents afforded her. The Latina had spent the latter part of her teens training to become a chef. She had always harboured a love for food, her parents hectic lifestyle often meant she ate well at fine restaurants. The older she became, the more her interest grew, although obsession may have been a more accurate word to describe her passion, particularly when she managed to get herself a job in one of her favourite eateries as a kitchen hand at the age of sixteen. It was something she had argued with her parents about. They were adamant she didn't need a job and should concentrate on her studies, however, the ever argumentative and stubborn young Latina debated her cause, citing it was the career she desired. Eventually her parents relented. Her father insisting it was good for their daughter to have a passion that didn't include parties and boys, like other girls her age. It was not 'cool' according to her peers. She endured the usual teasing and verbal bashing by her schoolmates, but the brunette was determined and knew she could carve herself a very illustrious career if she applied herself.
Santana Lopez was now in New York for a reason. She was there to further her career and to take the next step. The Latina had built up quite a reputation in Los Angeles, working for some of the finest restaurants in the region and had happened to be in the right place at the right time when she was offered a lucrative job as head chef in a top New York restaurant. She was leaving her life behind. Not only did the Latina have her family close by, she had built up a close knit group of friends, albeit a small group – her working hours were far from sociable – so it made sense for her friends to be in the catering business. The chef had a mantra – that attachment was something she could not afford. Throughout her training, it was drummed into her that regular hours were but a dream, however, Santana had the personality to cope with that. She had grown up an only child, her parents working constantly. It was something the girl had deemed normal.
It was her ferocious and fiery personality and her determination to succeed that had gotten her into this position, as well as an immense amount of hard work. It did not mean the Latina never had her doubts or her worries, of course she did, she was as human as the next person, and that is how she had found herself this very morning. Insecurity was a word Santana kept close to her chest. It really only prevailed in her personal life, although these days, that was somewhat lacking. In the kitchen however, the Latina commanded it like a General commanded his troops. She was respected. She was confident. She was firm with her staff, yet fair and her creative ability was an admiration to those around her.
Today was the day. If she was going to make it to the big time, today was the start of that. Lifting her head from the comfort of the plush pillow, it felt heavy and somewhat sluggish. Santana needed to be on her game today. Steadying her hands on the mattress, she lifted her stiff shoulders and sat up, the duvet pooling at her waist. She shivered at the instant cold that hit her torso, the heating not quite having had enough time to circulate. Pyjamas were not something the Latina had in her wardrobe, although now she believed she and the garment would become very good friends over the next few months. However, she had yet to purchase any, her days and nights having been spent working furiously over creating a new menu and selecting products for the restaurant. The only people the brunette had encountered were the staff at the restaurant. They seemed to be friendly enough, some fairly anxious and wary of their new boss. There were whispers of a fierce reputation, of a strict demeanour, although truth be told, Santana was of the school of earning respect and it was a two way thing.
The Latina placed her bare feet on the hardwood floor, a quick reminder to herself to purchase a rug, and made her way to the bathroom. Turning the shower on, she waited for the water to heat up, leaning her hands on the bathroom sink and staring intently at herself in the mirror before her. What she saw was someone slightly different to what she was used to. Santana knew she should be excited – a new city, a new job, it was a big adventure. However, grey skies and the hustle and bustle of busy people was tainting it for her slightly. She looked at the slight darkness beneath her eyes and squinted, lines forming, adding to the aging process. She was still young, yet the crazy hours and stressful kitchen had begun to take their toll. Sometimes she wondered if it was all worth it, particularly on mornings like this, then she would be in her kitchen, wielding her knife, carefully placing food on a plate, creating a piece of art and it was then she knew the answer. That yes, it was indeed worth it, particularly when she would see the smiles and hear the satisfactory groans and words of praise from her patrons. If it was one emotion over any Santana was feeling, it was loneliness, she smiled sadly at herself in the mirror as it clouded over with steam. She stood tall, took a deep breath and stepped into the hot spray, taking the opportunity to wash away any worries or doubts. Today was hers and if treated right, it would make her.
The blonde yawned, her arms stretched upwards yelping slightly as her fingers came into contact with the wooden headboard. Laying her hands to rest safely on her stomach she sighed with contentment. New York was a city she had always had an affinity with. She had been a fleeting visitor several times but now she was here for at least a six month stint. She was looking forward to spending time exploring the city, if or when she had time of course. She turned over onto her side and snuggled deeper into the duvet. The cold mornings was something she was more than willing to put up with for this was a part of the charm of Manhattan. Brittany Pierce lay relaxed, smiling wistfully to herself. She chanced a look at the aluminous numbers of the clock, knowing full well it was still early. The room was dark and there was yet to be any sign of daylight. She lay there a little longer, enjoying the feel of the comforter over her body, for she knew the moment she threw it back, the cold would hit her.
Brittany had been preparing for this day for months. She had put her body through an incredible regimen of constant training and rehearsing. The blonde felt ready, itching to get started. The last couple of months had been leading to this day. It had been something she had dreamed of since she was a little girl, putting on shows for her family and coaxing her friends to join her routines in recess, now was her chance. Brittany had the luxury of incredibly supportive parents who had put up with constant travelling for shows, last minute costume alterations and affording the best training available to the young blonde. Brittany owed her parents everything, they had put up with her tantrums and disappointments but like their daughter had never given up on her dream and now here she was, being rewarded for her talent and her persistence. Brittany Pierce was a performer, from a small town in Ohio, she had big dreams and having trekked thousands of miles upon leaving school, she was accepted and enrolled at a performing arts college in London, where she would perfect her art of dancing and learn the trade of being a West End performer. Whilst it was difficult for the dancer to settle at first, she persevered and subsequently reaped the illustrious rewards. It was both physically and emotionally challenging, yet she was a very determined young woman and by applying herself and constantly putting herself in a learning environment, she knew she would one day make it.
Brittany Pierce was in New York for a reason. She was there to further her career and to take the next step. Much like thousands of other hopefuls this magical city enticed. The blonde had worked tirelessly to build her reputation in the West End, attending audition after audition, taking any small part that would come her way until she slowly progressed up the ranks. She had felt it was fate when as an understudy she was called up one night when the lead had suddenly taken ill. Little did she know there was one person in the audience that would change her life. Several weeks later, Brittany found herself on a plane to New York City having been asked to audition for a part in a new musical on Broadway. It was due to her undoubted talent and incredible fresh outlook and modern take on theatre that swung her the part. She was fresh to the scene, had worked with some of the most famous names in the West End where she had learnt her trade and was deemed an asset to the production.
Brittany Pierce was a naturally positive and cheerful person, always seeing the good in people and often placing trust too easily. Many a time she had learnt the hard way that people were not always what they seemed, particularly in the business where she worked. While she was a generous young woman, the dancer had learned to put herself first and had proved vital in the progression of her career. It was difficult not to like the bubbly infectious blonde, she was everybody's friend, and whilst she wasn't the most academic of people, it didn't bother her. She knew she was good at her job, she oozed confidence on the stage and felt blessed to have people around her who would thrive off of her positive energy.
Today was the day. If she was going to break into the Broadway elite, today was the start of that. Feeling excited by the prospect, she sat up with a renewed energy, stretched her arms above her head and stretched out the kink in her shoulders. Any aches or pains would have to be gone if she were to put in a stellar performance. Shivering slightly at the ghost of cool air that swept across her bare shoulders, she made a mental note to wear more clothes to bed the next night. Either that or adjust the timer on her central heating. Her thoughts drifted to the day ahead, to the friends she had already made on the cast and crew of the show. She smiled profusely. This was what dreams were made of and now she was living it. Her parents would arrive in town later on in the morning for her opening show and they were to meet for celebratory drinks and a bite to eat afterwards. Brittany was beyond excited. This city promised so much for her. She had moved to the city several weeks prior to Christmas for rehearsals before returning to Ohio for the festive break. Now she was back and raring to go.
The dancer jumped out of bed and padded across the carpeted floor to the large window, drawing back the heavy curtains and gasping at the view that befell her as the material was swept aside. The dawn morning draped the city, the lilac sky a picture of beauty. Brittany smiled, noting the similarities between New York and London, yet both remained entirely dissimilar. One thing you could guarantee in both cities in January was the cold weather. The blonde did not pay particular mind to what the weather was doing at any point. She enjoyed dressing for the occasion and having a chance to show off her multitude of hats, scarves and gloves. Yes, winter was an opportunity, not a hindrance. One thing the dancer would really like to keep her warm was another body. She longed for the closeness of one special person, the thought of long walks in the park on a Sunday frequently occupied her mind, however, with her busy schedule and lack of contact with the outside world, she was lacking in that department. Sure she was not short of offers in the business – it wasn't that she was particularly choosey – she just either was not interested or simply could not find the time. She sighed heavily, she was living her dream in one sense, maybe anything else would just be too much to ask for. However, right now she had more important thoughts on her mind, taking one last glance at the spectacular city, Brittany turned and walked over to the bathroom, a shower is exactly what she needed to set her up for the day. Today was hers and if treated right, it would be her break.
For two people, today would change their lives forever.