Title: Empire State of Mind – Chapter 12: Top of the Rock
Word Count: 7900
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 1: A huge welcome back to my returning brilliant beta lizzylizbian, I've missed her so much and you probably have too ;)
A/N 2: This chapter is dedicated to lovebugxstories <3
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.
Success cannot be measured. Success is not a scientific or mathematical equation. Temperature, distance, time, these are things that can be measured and worked out methodically. However, success is a personal achievement. What makes success so personal, is one's own ideals, desires, and plans. For one person, it may be to find love. For another, it might be to progress in a chosen career. Some people just want happiness, while others just want to be healthy. People will always make judgements on other's successes and achievements; however, only you can determine how successful you are in your endeavours.
Santana Lopez first experienced success when she was accepted into a chef training programme in Paris when she was eighteen. For her, this was a huge accomplishment and everything she had ever dreamt of. By the time her apprenticeship finished, the chef already had new goals for the future. Her first being to work in a restaurant in London. Once this was achieved, Santana felt she could take her experience and expertise home to Los Angeles, to run her own kitchen, creating new dishes and menus from her teachings in Europe. And she did.
Following a slump in her personal life and several years in the same restaurant, Santana felt it was time for a new challenge. When she was headhunted for the Head Chef position at Empire State of Mind, she took it without hesitation. She had visited New York a few times. Thanks to it's charm and persuasion, she knew that she could easily fall in love with the City. What she did not anticipate happening so quickly was falling in love. It was not a part of her plan.
Brittany Pierce, a dancer from the early stages of her life, believed she could achieve great things within a career of dance. Her first success was the moment she opened the envelope to a prestigious performing arts school in London. The envelope contained an acceptance letter. Her second success followed soon after. She moved away from her tight family unit and established a home for herself in a foreign country. Brittany continued to amaze herself. With every reach she achieved, her confidence and abilities grew to heights she never thought possible. She was offered small parts in West End productions, in which she excelled. However, she was making friends and having fun, which was the most important thing to Brittany.
One fateful day, a director of a new musical saw her and personally asked her to audition. The audition was a success and she was cast as the lead. After an extended run in the West End, the musical moved to Broadway, where Brittany was asked to reprise her role. She took it without hesitation. She had visited New York a few times. Thanks to it's charm and persuasion, she knew that she could easily fall in love with the City. What she did not anticipate happening so quickly was falling in love. It was not a part of her plan.
Tonight was the biggest night of her career so far. Santana had experienced several of those already in her life so far. However, this was a significant step for the Chef. The James Beard Foundation awards were a national annual awards ceremony celebrating all aspects of the hospitality and catering industry. Santana Lopez was nominated as Rising Star Chef of the Year Award for her work as Head Chef at the restaurant. She had told Brittany of her invitation to the ceremony, though kept the nomination from her as a surprise. She had gotten tickets for her parents also, though she remained uncertain if they were going to show or not. After several attempts to contact her mother, she gave up. She would not admit out loud that she was disappointed, and a fleeting comment to Brittany about it being 'their loss' had ended the conversation. Yet inside, she was hurting. All she ever wanted was her parents to be supportive of her career choice. It was an ongoing battle she was resigned to accepting.
Santana was sitting alone at a table in the restaurant. Although she had the day off from work, she was going to meet Brittany for brunch after the dancer's vocal session. She was currently sipping on a hot cup of coffee and sitting back, enjoying a rare read of the Daily News.
"Another coffee Miss Lopez?" the waitress hovered over her with a fresh pot of brewed coffee.
"Berry, enough with the formalities, just pour the damn coffee," Santana spat, frustrated at being interrupted. It was when Rachel was still stood over her blocking her light that Santana looked up again with a questioning gaze. "What?"
"I'm dating Noah Puckerman." Santana raised an eyebrow in response.
"And you're telling me because . . . ?"
"Because you're dating a Broadway star also and I thought maybe we could -"
"No," the Latina answered sternly, holding up a hand to prevent the waitress from carrying the conversation further. "No double dates."
"I wasn't going to-"
"No, Berry. Just no."
"Please Santana, I just need to . . ." Santana rolled her eyes as Rachel continued, "how do you cope with dating a Broadway star?"
"You want to talk about that now Berry?" the Latina asked. "I'm waiting for my girlfriend so we can spend a rare day together," she raised an eyebrow at her intruder, "and you should be working."
"Please Santana," Rachel said as she pulled out a seat beside the Chef. Santana shot an incredulous look of disbelief in her colleague's direction who seemed oblivious to her intrusion. Rolling her eyes in defeat, the Latina huffed.
"Fine. You just deal with it, ok?"
"Wait, is that it? Just deal with it?" Rachel asked.
"Yeah, well, working in hospitality, our hours are very similar, so it's not as tough as it could be," Santana explained holding up her cup to a lips. She took a sip and sighed with satisfaction.
"And what about the unwanted attention?"
"I'm sorry what now?" Santana asked with wide eyes.
"You know, when you and Brittany are out on a sweet romantic date, you only have eyes for each other and then all of a sudden you get interrupted by a fan wanting a photo or an autograph," the waitress explained wistfully, images of her scenario flashing through her mind.
"It's very much like enjoying a cup of coffee and reading the paper only to be interrupted by an annoying talkative hobbit."
Ignoring her, Rachel continued in earnest, "how do you cope with the unwanted attention?"
"Oh pur-lease Berry, you strive for attention. You'd stand in the middle of Times Square with your own neon sign over your head if you could afford it." Santana scoffed, "actually, I'm surprised you haven't got a gig as one of those tour bus guides. You fit the mould perfectly with your jibber-jabbering attention whore ways."
"While you might be somewhat partially accurate in your assessment of me Santana, I am a romantic at heart. I would like at least one date without interruptions," rambled the petite brunette.
"Riiiiight," Santana drawled. "Listen Berry, if you're serious then you plan accordingly, choose a dimly lit restaurant, go to the movies, even the theatre. Go somewhere at off-peak times, away from the beaten track. There's loads of options Rachel."
"What was it like?"
"What was what like?" Santana asked, unsure exactly what Rachel was referring to. She took another sip of her coffee.
"The first time," Rachel replied spritely. Santana sprayed the coffee that was in her mouth across the table, soaking her newspaper. She stood up, grabbing the napkin from the table and began to wipe at the drips on her shirt.
"Are you fucking kidding me Berry?" Santana hissed, still swiping at the droplets down her front.
"What?" Rachel asked before her eyes widened in realisation. "Oh, no no no, that's not what I meant. I meant the first time someone recognised Brittany while you were out together."
Santana again rolled her eyes. The usually articulate waitress had failed to be clear in her diction. Sitting down, she replaced the napkin on the table. "It was actually on our first date, sort of date. At the time, for Britt it was a date." Santana chuckled at the memory of the day they spent together as tourists. "And now, I guess it was our first date." She spared a glance at her colleague who was leaning on her elbows with interest. She frowned at the wistful look in the waitress' eyes.
"It's so admirable. We really are thankful to Brittany for whisking you off your feet. You are so much more . . . mellow," the petite brunette concluded, causing Santana's eyebrows to knit impossibly close to one another.
"Excuse me?" she asked with disbelief.
Rachel shrugged, "you're less of a bitch."
"She's right," Kurt agreed as he swept passed. Santana opened her mouth to retaliate but no sooner had Kurt appeared, he disappeared.
"You should continue your story. I'm eager to hear how it works out and I'm a little short on time here," Rachel ordered, pointing to the imaginary watch on her wrist. Sometimes Santana felt like she worked in the twilight zone.
"So anyway," the chef began, shaking her head from the previous obscure conversation. "We were Top of the Rock and this couple recognised Britt and wanted a picture taken with her."
"Let me guess. You were rude?"
Santana feigned shock, her hand darting to her heart in mock pain. "So apparently I was a bitch back then."
"You're kind of still a bitch right now, just more . . ."
"Mellow. Fine I get it," the Latina smirked, "I mean Britt had gone to the trouble to organise a perfect day for us together, we were standing Top of the Rock at sunset, the view was incredible and I was with the most beautiful girl in the world. Of course I was pissed." She paused thoughtfully for a moment. "But Britt, she just handled both the couple and myself perfectly, with such poise and calm."
"That's why you work so well together. Polar opposites," Rachel concluded. Santana pursed her lips in thought.
"You have a point midget," the Chef nodded her head in agreement. "I mean that day was like the first day we spent any significant time together and it was like she just knew me. She got me. She just has this insane ability to get inside my head and my heart and just, I don't know I can't explain." She narrowed her eyes. "Anyway, why am I telling you this? This is so not appropriate. Get back to work," Santana said, ignoring the glare from the other woman. "Chop chop," she emphasised with the clap of her hands. She watched with a satisfied smirk as the waitress hurried to her feet and scurried away to tend to her duties.
Santana picked up her cup, placing her lips around the rim of the glass, sighing as the dark liquid washed over her tongue. It was a perfect hit of much needed caffeine following the impromptu relationship counselling session bestowed upon her. Taking another few sips in quick succession, the Latina began to finger the pages of her newspaper, looking for a story of interest. Flipping to the entertainment section, she scoured the Broadway news with hopes of a glimpse of Brittany's name or picture. However, what she found, she did not expect, the mouthful of coffee almost spraying from her mouth as she choked upon swallowing the hot liquid.
Today was an ordinary day for Brittany, except for the fact she would be accompanying her girlfriend to an awards ceremony that evening. It would be a perfect opportunity to treat it as a date. It was rare they were able to spend a whole evening together, let alone day. Wrapping up her vocal session, she took a swig of water, enjoying the feel of the cool liquid against her strained throat. She had felt a little hoarse that morning, but hot lemon and honey had loosened it significantly. Only now she was feeling a small strain after the session her vocal coach had put her through.
"Rest that voice Brittany," her coach ordered as she packed away her sheet music.
"I mean it," Mercedes warned. She was a pro who carried ample of experience with coaching Broadway stars. "No noise is to come out of that mouth unless absolutely necessary. Do you hear me?" she raised an accusing finger. The blonde opened her mouth to retaliate. "Oh hell no." Mercedes glared at her student.
"What about sex?"
"Noah Puckerman, you did not just say that," Mercedes retorted.
"Oh I did. And I'm picturing it. Have you seen how hot her girl is? I doubt our superstar here can keep herself from screaming."
"Is that why you have a sore throat?" Mercedes threw an accusatory glance towards a stunned blonde. "Second thought, do not answer that question." The audible gulp and rising blush from the dancer was all the confirmation the vocal coach needed. "Why do I even bother?" She threw her hands up with a dramatic huff and picked up her bag.
"But I have a date tonight," Brittany whined. The thought of not even being able to talk to Santana filled her with an overwhelming sense of sadness.
"I'm not saying don't talk at all Brittany," Mercedes replied, her eyes gentle and her smile soft, "Just take care of your voice. It's your instrument, your tool," she explained. The blonde nodded in understanding, a small smile tugging at her lips. "I'll see you guys next week," the vocal coach concluded as she departed, leaving the two Broadway stars alone.
"Can you not objectify my girlfriend like that." It was more a statement than a question, but the dancer was serious. "And don't make our relationship sound so sordid and trivial." She shot her colleague a stern frown.
"Woah, dude, I'm sorry, I was just messing with you," Noah defended, despite his obvious playboy attitude.
"I mean it Puck. It's ok to have the occasional laugh and joke, but you went too far," Brittany stated solemnly. Yes, she would joke that she had a hot girlfriend and the sex was great, but Puck had over stepped the mark. They were having a serious conversation about work and he had been inappropriate with his comments.
"Look, I'm sorry ok," Puck offered with genuine regret in his eyes. "I actually have a question for you. A serious one."
"Ok then, yes, you can watch," Brittany stated deadpan. Puck's eyes widened in horror before the blonde's face split into a wide grin. "Kidding, but you deserved that," she said with a playful punch to his upper arm. She guided them over to a couple of chairs that sat at the edge of the room.
Sitting, Puck played with the label on his water bottle while Brittany sat patiently waiting for him to speak. "I asked Rachel on a date."
Brittany smiled, she was fully aware of this information. Santana had filled her in on the brief conversation she had had with Puck over the telephone. It had been a comical situation, with Brittany drifting off to sleep and the brunette casually mentioning it, 'oh and Puck's asked Berry out on a date,' with an added snort of hilarity. The blonde's eyes had shot open, all thoughts of sleep now lost as she scrunched her nose up at the thought of Noah Puckerman sharing the gory details. She nodded her head, urging her friend to continue.
"I don't know what to do," he admitted shyly. He glanced up at the blonde and saw compassion and understanding in her eyes which gave him the confidence to continue. "I mean, I really like her, she's like so spirited and vocal," he added with a smirk, "But seriously, I haven't properly dated someone I like. I just bang 'em."
"Wow," Brittany muttered. "So eloquent." She smiled. Puck shrugged. If anything, he was blunt.
"I am what I am man," he smirked. The blonde smiled. She loved how Puck would talk to her like she was one of his buddies. It was because of that she knew she had made a good friend in Puck.
"How did you woo Santana?"
"Did you just say 'woo'?" Brittany asked, an eyebrow raised questioningly.
Puck sighed. "Can you please take me seriously here. I don't want to mess this up."
"Wow," Brittany said again. She was taken aback by the tone of Puck's voice. "Ok, sure," she agreed. "I guess woo is actually the right word to use," she hummed with a wistful smile. "The moment I saw her she took my breath away, but she barely gave me a second look."
"So what did you do?"
"You know the story Puck."
"Kinda," he shrugged, "I can't say I was properly listening ..." his voice trailed off.
"You were imagining us together weren't you?" Without receiving an answer, Brittany continued with a shake of her head. "Pervert." Again Puck shrugged half apologetically. "I knew I had to get to know her. She was captivating, so beautiful and her eyes, ohmygod. She had this look that I just knew she was everything I had longed for."
"What do you mean?" Puck asked, confused.
"Santana is very expressive with her eyes. She communicates things she can't say," Brittany replied. It was one of her favourite parts of Santana because she knew that she was one of very few who could interpret those looks.
"Woah that's deep. But I don't think Rachel has that problem," Noah replied.
"Hmm you may have a point there." Brittany giggled. "Just treat her like a lady, make her feel special, like she's the only in girl in the world. Make it all about her."
"She'll love that." Puck smirked. Brittany smiled with him, very aware of the petite brunette's spitfire personality.
"I can't tell you what to do Puck and I can't compare her with Santana because they are so completely different." Brittany surmised, "look, she loves musical theatre, use your contacts to give her an experience she'll never forget."
"Oh a night with this and she'll be begging for more."
"So gross," the blonde muttered.
"You still haven't answered my question," Puck said, his tone turning serious again. "What was the moment you knew she was hooked?"
"Top of the Rock." Brittany sighed. "We'd had an amazing day together just exploring the City and I took her to Rockefeller and we reached the top just as the sun was beginning to set. It was beautiful. She was beautiful and captivating and there was this whole other look in her eyes that I hadn't seen before and it was like excitement and nervousness and bliss all rolled into one." The blonde took a moment to catch her breath. "And then I just went for it. I hugged her. I didn't care for consequences and she relaxed completely. That was another sign. But then a couple recognised me and wanted their photo taken and Santana," Brittany giggled at the memory and the incredulous look on Santana's face, "she was so pissed they interrupted. She just wanted them to go away."
"Wow." It was Puck's turn to be amazed by Brittany's words.
"I know right. I just knew. We were so right together. She just needed a bit more time to realise it, but deep down, she knew."
"You're whipped." Puck smirked.
"Yep. And you need to be careful, because liking Rachel means you're on your way too." Brittany laughed. Her joy was interrupted by the shrill ringing of her cell phone. The blonde reached into her pocket and pulled the item free. She looked at the screen and frowned as the name of her agent flashed across the screen. Placing the phone to her ear, she answered the call.
"Hey Holly, what's up?" There was a pause, her face contorted into a look of pure disbelief. "Are you kidding me?"
Brittany peered at her reflection in the large double glass door and straightened her face, having just received some disbelieving news. Setting her shoulders back, she took a deep breath and took a hold of the large door handles before her. Her arms widened as she pulled them towards her, opening the gap large enough for her to waltz through. Stepping over the threshold, she glanced around before her eyes landed on the beautiful brunette at a table near the window, basking in the sublime sunlight. Her hair glimmered as the sun bounced off the silken locks adding an extra sheen. A lopsided smile adorned the blonde's features as she approached her girlfriend sitting serenely at the table, reading her newspaper and sipping at a cup of coffee every once in a while. She admired the way the white fitted shirt clung to the chef's body and could just make out the curve of her ass in the stonewash jeans she had wriggled into that morning. Without wanting to disturb the other woman, Brittany snuck up quietly behind her, ran her hands gently over her girlfriend's shoulders and nuzzled her neck earning a satisfied growl.
"Not now, I'm expecting my girlfriend any minute," Santana whispered, placing a hand over one of Brittany's.
"That's not funny," the blonde said, leaning across the brunette to place a kiss on her lips. Santana smirked at the pout that formed on the dancer's lips as she pulled away. Poking the blonde's nose with her finger, she winked.
"You're the only girl for me," she reassured. "You know that," she concluded warmly. Brittany beamed before removing her bag and jacket, placing the items on one of the empty seats. She took the spare chair next to Santana at the round table, leaning over for another sweet chaste kiss.
"Mmm," she sighed. "If I could have you for brunch, I totally would." She smiled.
"And you would be asked be leave," Kurt said as he approached the table, coffee pot in hand.
"Hi Kurt." Brittany laughed as she blushed shyly, holding out her clean mug which the Matre D dutifully filled with the dark hot liquid.
"Good morning Brittany." Kurt returned with a smile. "Santana." He nodded at the chef. "Rachel will be over to take your order." Santana rolled her eyes. Another encounter with Rachel Berry was exactly on her list of things to do, she thought with irony. As Kurt left the table, Brittany picked up Santana's hand in her own, turning it over, stroking it, and enjoying the feel of the skin upon her own. Santana stared down at their hands. Her eyes travelled up Brittany's cotton clad arm, over the lip that was caught nervously between her teeth, before landing on her pensive gaze.
"B," she said gently, causing the blonde to look up through her eyelashes. Santana shot her a questioning look, not wanting to force anything from her girlfriend.
"I had some news today," she began, quietly.
"Mmhmm." Santana nodded, urging the dancer to continue.
"From Holly," Brittany said. She chewed on her lip and tilted her head sideways, shaping the words in her head before she spoke them. "I don't know how it happened. I swear. I had absolutely no idea."
Santana narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "Okay," she drawled slowly. Her heart suddenly beating faster in her chest.
"I sort of got nominated," Santana's face cracked a huge knowing grin while Brittany glanced suspiciously around her, "for a Tony Award," she whispered. The Chef squeezed the hand that was planted in her own. Her feet did a happy dance underneath the table and leant in closer to the blonde.
"Why are you whispering?" she herself whispered her own words.
"Because I just remembered, I'm supposed to be resting my voice," Brittany replied. "But I have a week off so I can totally rest it later right?" She nodded affirmation to her own question. "But seriously, San, I don't think I deserve a nomination," she added with raw honesty. Santana's head tilted sideways, her gaze filled with confusion.
"Of course you deserve it baby. You're incredible," she reassured, her free hand stroking up and down the blonde's arm. "Why do you think that?"
Brittany shrugged her shoulders. "I guess, because I'm the new girl and there are people here who have worked their whole lives to achieve a nomination. I don't know, I guess I just feel bad for those who weren't nominated."
"You can't control it Britt. The organisers clearly see something special in you. And so do I," Santana said with a wide, proud smile. "You're like the unicorn of Broadway Britt-Britt. Believe it," she concluded. Brittany's bottom lip trembled, overwhelmed with the emotions that were flooding her body. She opted to do the one thing she knew that would calm her and threw her arms around the brunette's shoulders, hugging her tightly, feeling her heartbeat against her own.
"How did I get so lucky?" she breathed in the scent of the brunette as she nuzzled into her neck once again."I love you so much Santana." Pulling the Chef closer, Brittany could feel her own heart pounding rapidly against Santana's. Never had she felt so at home, so loved and encouraged. Although she had received those comforts with her parents, Santana offered it on a whole other level. The brunette wanted to be with Brittany and had matured and grown significantly since being with the blonde. Brittany marvelled at the way Santana had taken on her struggles as well as dealing with her own. Although she sometimes felt that the Chef was using them as a distraction from her own. However, to the dancer, that did not matter, because ultimately she knew Santana would always put Brittany before herself. And whenever Santana would need her, the blonde would be there for her too, however proud the brunette was. Brittany pulled away slightly and glanced at the proud gleam in her girlfriend's eyes. Those big, lovable, brown eyes held so much emotion, Brittany could easily become lost. It was when a distinct sound of a throat clearing that brought her out of her daze did she realise how captivating those eyes were. Shaking her head, she watched Santana's gaze drift upwards and over her shoulder. The amused glint immediately flashed to what she recognised as fear before quickly turning to a guarded, stoic look. Her focus was on something or someone behind her. Tentatively, Brittany turned in her seat, following Santana's line of sight, her own shackles raised, in automatic defence of her girlfriend.
"Mom," she breathed, eyeing the one person she was least expecting to see. It was not until she felt Santana's hand squeeze her own that she realised she was clinging to the brunette. She turned to flash Santana a warm appreciative smile before she stood and turned to her parents. "What, err, what are you doing here?" she asked, confused. Waiting for an answer, Brittany shifted nervously on her feet, debating whether to move in for a hug. Her mind was made up for her as her father swooped in, his arms engulfing the blonde and sweeping her up in a lovable father/daughter cuddle.
"Hello pumpkin," Ray greeted when he finally pulled free, allowing his daughter to breath.
"Hey Dad." She smiled, playfully punching his shoulder.
"Your mother wanted to come and see you. I hope you don't mind?" he asked. Brittany looked at her nervous mother, clutching at her purse in her hands, her eyes darting from her feet to her daughter, to her husband and back to her feet again, avoiding the brunette now standing beside her daughter. "Santana," Ray greeted. He took a confident step forward and Santana's eyes widened as he wrapped his arms around her in another hug. The brunette smiled and relaxed, her arms hugging back with appreciation.
"It's great to see you again Ray." Santana smiled, before turning her attention to Brittany's mother. "You too Valerie," she offered, her smile genuine. Valerie nodded, obviously a little uncomfortable. She raised her greying blue eyes and met the warm brown orbs of her daughter's girlfriend. She smiled shyly before speaking. "Hello Santana. Brittany," she said, with another small nod.
"Mom," Brittany repeated. She stepped up to her mother, hesitating slightly before putting her arms around the older woman's shoulders. Valerie sobbed into her daughter's shoulder, the emotions overwhelming her completely. "Shh Mom, it's ok," the blonde reassured. Santana turned to look at Ray. A look of concern washed over her features. Ray nodded gently, a small smile indicating that while Valerie seemed visibly upset, she was simply working through her emotions. She had not seen her daughter since Brittany's birthday and had not spoken to her since the blonde revealed the truth about her relationship with Santana. Valerie had ultimately felt betrayed and was hurt by the secrecy and lies. Although, deep down, she knew the reasons for Brittany's silence. She had decided a surprise trip to the city would be an ideal way to work things out with her daughter, to see first hand how happy Santana made her daughter. It was a huge decision to make and she had felt every nerve in the fibre of her being, especially considering that her conscience taunted her and her teachings made her question the decision. Having witnessed such a tender moment between Brittany and Santana, raised a multitude of feelings within her, many conflicting.
After gently pulling away, Brittany looked at her mother with concern, taking a moment to glance at her girlfriend and her father who appeared to mirror her own expression. "Would you like to join us for brunch?" Santana asked, her voice wavering slightly with nerves. She waited, patiently, holding her breath for the answer. She watched Valerie as she weighed up her options, the emotions tumbling through her mind as she made a decision. Valerie glanced at her husband briefly, before settling her eyes on her daughter and her girlfriend.
"Did we interrupt?" Valerie asked, cautiously eyeing her daughter.
"Oh no, it's just brunch," Brittany replied breezily with a wave of the hand.
"I meant when we arrived, it looked like you were having . . ." she paused, looking for the right words. Santana's gaze shot towards Brittany, watching as the blonde furrowed her brow in anticipation of her mother's next words. "A moment," Valerie concluded.
"Err..." Brittany began. She cleared her throat, "I err, well I just found out some news," the blonde said. "And I wasn't sure about it and Santana was amazing and so sweet and telling me stuff and . . ."
"Baby slow down." Santana smiled as she stroked her hand down the blonde's arm. She was rewarded with a loving gaze and matching smile. "Tell them," Santana urged with a gentle shrug. Valerie watched the interaction between the two with renewed interest.
"What is it pumpkin?" Ray asked. Santana took Brittany's hand in her own and squeezed with encouragement, her eyes gleaming with love and pride.
Brittany bit her lip and jiggled up and down a little. It was something she had done since childhood when excited about something. Her parents recognised the trait and waited in anticipation of the news. "I err, I got nominated for a Tony Award," she gushed in a hurry.
"Oh honey, that's incredible news. Well done. I'm so proud of you," Valerie gushed back, stepping forward to hug her performer daughter.
"Congratulations Brittany! That's tremendous news," Ray stated with a proud beam. "I knew you would get one sooner or later."
"Thanks Dad," the blonde breathed with relief. She knew it was good news and her parents would be ecstatic, but a niggling feeling in the back of her mind still told her it was too soon. As if reading her mind, Santana ran a hand down the blonde's back, stroking her and soothing her negative thoughts. She shook her head, her silent instruction, telling Brittany not to think such nonsense. The blonde leaned into the brunette, hugging her side, thankful for her reassurance and belief. "So, will you stay?" Brittany asked hopefully. Three pairs of eyes watched the elder Pierce woman with baited breath.
"Yes, thank you," she said. Both Santana and Brittany sighed gently with relief, flashing one another a small victory smile. However, how conversation would pan out would be anyone's guess.
Conversation was slow. Emotions were high and the four occupants at the table were wary of what they could or should say to one another. The food arrived after a few minutes of small talk. They discussed weekend plans, how long the Pierce's were in town and Brittany explained her own and Santana's plans for the evening, barely containing her excitement for the event. She loved being a part of Santana's life and being her date to the awards evening made her feel like Santana was proud to show her off. Not that she ever had any doubt, but she knew the brunette's line of work was very male oriented and had potential to make Santana's working life more difficult. However, the Chef continued to shine, rising above every professional challenge that befell her. She was proud and incredibly happy to support her girlfriend in any way she could.
Although seemingly difficult and unsure, the time spent with Brittany's parents over brunch was progress. Even though Ray had given his blessing and was pleased for the young couple, he was also cautious with his words and actions in fear of upsetting his wife. He was the family rock, keeping the two girls grounded and in charge of keeping the family unit together. Whilst he was ecstatic to see his only daughter happy, he was also wary of how her relationship made his wife feel. It was not because it was Santana, of that much he was sure. Valerie had praised the young Chef and lauded her as a pleasant and polite person who had a positive influence on their daughter. She liked Santana and had said as much. It was because Brittany was in a relationship with a woman. It saddened Ray to watch his wife struggle and his daughter suffer because of her mother's upbringing and teachings. He vowed that with Brittany and Santana's help, he would re-educate his wife, show her how happy Brittany was and the positive influence Santana was in her life. He trusted the brunette, especially following that panicked phone call almost a week ago. He knew his daughter would always be safe, so long as she was with Santana. He had no doubt in his mind that the Chef would always put Brittany first and make every effort in making her happy.
Beautiful. It was the first word that popped into Brittany's head. Stunning was the second. Breath taking, were the third and fourth. Next came the butterflies, then the gulp and the inevitable dry throat and severe lack of vocabulary. Her mouth hung open, her brain willing herself to say something. Anything. Santana stood in the doorway to her bedroom, fixing her earring as she exited the room. She smirked as she saw Brittany stock still in the middle of her apartment, mouth hanging open.
"Hu-" Brittany managed to vocalise, "-ba." The brunette froze and adorned a frown.
"Did you just say hubba!" Santana asked with incredulity.
"I . . . You . . ." Brittany shook her head, willing the words to fall from being trapped in her brain. Taking a deep breath she tried again. "Beautiful," she concluded with a defeated shrug. Santana truly had rendered her speechless. The brunette stalked towards her girlfriend, a predatory glint in her eye the closer she got. Brittany gulped once again. The sweet aroma of the Chef's perfume gently filled her senses causing her eyes to flutter heavily with lust. She opened her mouth once more, yet nothing escaped, until a gasp was heard after Santana captured her lips roughly and kissed her with fervour. The brunette's hands found themselves attached to the dancer's hips and pulled her closer. Her tongue darted out, inviting itself into the blonde's mouth. Brittany sighed heavily, feeling her muscles relax against Santana's body. Her arms snaked over the brunette's shoulders as Santana's inched further around Brittany's waist. The kiss slowed, lips and tongues moving softly against one another, hearts beating in unison, pounding and aligned with each other.
They were torn apart by a loud knock at the door. Two pairs of eyes wrenched away from one another and to the front door, before questioning gazes found each other. Santana's frown indicated the cogs turning in her head, the thoughts swirling around her mind before her eyes widened.
"Nooo," she gasped, her hand dramatically finding her heart.
"What is it?" Brittany asked with concern, her hand placed reassuringly on the brunette's back. The Chef began to walk toward the door, her heels clacking on the hardwood beneath her. She moved with a grace and beauty that Brittany admired from behind her. The black gown cloaked her body with perfection, clinging on in all the right places. The blonde's crystal blue eyes were hypnotised by the movement and the sway in the brunette's hips. Brittany was shaken from her trance when she heard a shriek of glee. Looking up at the open door, she glared with her mouth agape matching her girlfriend. Standing in the doorway were an older couple with striking dark features, crisp, luxurious attire and both perfectly groomed. Brittany identified them instantly as Santana's parents.
"Close your mouth honey. It's unbecoming," came the husky voice of the defined woman. She stepped over the threshold and held her hand up to Santana's face, wiping her thumb over the corner of her mouth, causing both the chef and the dancer to frown, "and your lipstick is smudged."
Shaking, Santana closed her front door as her parents ventured further into the apartment. She scrunched her eyes shut and took a deep breath, preparing herself with a big smile. She set her shoulders back and turned around, her head held high. She was greeted with the vision of her mother engulfing Brittany in a huge bear hug, pulling her tight. The blonde's eyes were wide, her arms flailing, unsure where to put them until she tentatively let her hands rest on Mrs Lopez's back.
"You must be Brittany," the older brunette said as she released the blonde. Brittany could only manage a shocked nod as Santana closed in on the small gathering.
"Mom, Dad, this is Brittany," she said with confidence. "My girlfriend," she concluded with a coy smile.
"It's lovely to meet you."
"You too Mrs Lopez," the blonde replied, finally finding her voice.
"Eva, please," Santana's mother scoffed, "and this is Roberto. But I'm sure he'll let you call him Rob," she added with a wink.
"Nice to meet you Brittany." Rob held out his hand. Brittany obliged and took the strong handshake with a welcoming smile.
"What are you doing here? I thought you weren't coming," Santana said, her arms crossed defensively across her chest.
"I didn't say we weren't Santana," her mother replied with matching accusation.
"You said you would see what you could do. That usually means no," the younger Lopez challenged. Eva closed her eyes and took a breath, knowing she would face the wrath of her daughter.
"Aren't you pleased we're here?"
"Yes, but . . ."
"No buts honey," Eva smirked, "we're here to support you and you," she turned back to Brittany, "are such a darling. Look at you." The blonde blushed under the scrutinising gaze of Santana's mother. She was very similar to her daughter. Their petite frame and bone structure were the same, with matching tumbling raven locks. It was almost uncanny, save for the telling signs of ageing on Mrs Lopez. Turning to Rob who was grinning from ear to ear, aware of his wife's antics, Brittany found the same smile as his daughter and the same gleaming, big brown eyes that had her captivated every time Santana would look at her. "And look what you've done to my daughter," she accused, causing blue eyes to widen with horror. Santana shook her head, encouraging the blonde to take no notice of the older woman's words. "She looks so . . ." Eva struggled to find the words, even looking skywards for guidance, before her eureka moment. "Relaxed." Santana raised a questioning eyebrow. "Oh come on honey. You're usually so uptight and defensive. I could sense the change in you immediately."
"She's right sweetheart," Rob began, "you have that glint back in your eyes." He explained, "and the perma-scowl has disappeared."
"That isn't even a word," Santana huffed, her arms across her chest tightened to emphasise her disdain.
"Oh there it is," Rob teased, earning a glare from his daughter and hearty laugh from his wife. Brittany looked bewildered standing between the two Lopez's. Santana stepped forward, taking Brittany's hand and pulled her away from her parents.
"As much as I would like to stand around here and have you mock me, we really need to leave if we're going to be on time," Santana said, a hint of hurt in her voice. Brittany squeezed her hand as Eva sidled up to the blonde and put her arm through the dancer's.
"Ooh we are going to have so much fun getting to know each other," Eva stated with over enthusiasm. Santana halted, raising her hand as her eyes grew wider and turned to her mother.
"Is that why you're here? Because you want to meet my girlfriend?"
"And because of the awards thingy, right sweetie?" Eva looked to her husband for confirmation. He nodded sheepishly. Santana raised her chin and narrowed her eyes with suspicion.
"So if you hadn't have found out about Brittany, would you have come?" she challenged.
"What does it matter honey? We're here now," Mrs Lopez replied with enthusiasm. Upon settling her eyes on her daughter's look of disdain, the disappointment in her eyes and the sadness in Brittany's, Eva took sighed before speaking again. "Santana," her tone changed, "I know I may have been less than understanding about your career choice, but having you cut us from your life hurt. You told me you moved away because of me and I'm sorry ok? So here we are, trying to make it up to you."
"If you knew your parents weren't supportive of your career, why did you invite them to this dinner thing?" Brittany asked, suddenly confused. It had not struck her before, but they were simply invited to the awards as guests, so inviting Santana's parents seemed a little out of place. "Ohmygod!" she exclaimed as realisation dawned on her. "You've been nominated haven't you?" she gasped. Santana blushed, a small nod indicated to the blonde that she was right. The blonde swiped at Santana's shoulder, "why didn't you tell me?" she whined.
"I," Santana started, suddenly finding a loss of words. She composed herself before continuing, "I wanted it to be a surprise."
"Why?" Brittany asked, "I don't get it."
"I don't know." Santana shrugged, "I guess, I don't know," she admitted in defeat.
"She was embarrassed," Eva stated, "Santana is proud but she's not boastful and she knows how much you love and support her. So she thought it would be a lovely surprise for you to hear her name amongst the nominees as if she was sharing the reward with you." Santana looked at her mother, her mouth and eyes wide with surprise. "You may feel like I don't know you Santana. But I do and I love you," Eva admitted.
"You're nominated," Brittany whispered, a slow smile spreading across her porcelain features. She untangled her arm from Eva's and pulled Santana into a loving embrace. "I love you so much," she cooed as she nuzzled her nose against the brunette's silken locks.
"I love you too baby." Santana returned, adding a squeeze to her already tight hug. "Surprise!" she sang as she broke away, causing her girlfriend to chuckle.
"I'll always be proud of you, because you're so passionate about your work, so don't feel embarrassed or hide anything from me, ok?" Santana nodded in agreement with a light blush. "Although I totally appreciate the sentiment and will totally pay you back later," the blonde added with a wink. This time the Chef blushed, her eyes downcast, avoiding her mother's smirk and her father's uncomfortable stance. Although she knew that he too would have his gaze averted. After a moment's silence, she dared to look up. Her mother was surveying her surroundings with interest.
"This apartment is so small," Eva commented, earning a dramatic eye roll from her daughter.
"We're leaving. Now," Santana ordered, gesturing toward the door. "Come on!" The Chef shooed her parents back out of the front door and froze momentarily when she felt Brittany's arms wrap around her waist.
"Whatever happens tonight," she began, her voice low and sweet in Santana's ear, "you'll always be a winner to me, you're my rock," she said, placing a light kiss on the brunette's shoulder.
"Of course," Santana said, patting the clasped hands on her stomach. "I have you don't I? And I consider you my biggest success."