Title: Empire State of Mind – Chapter 13: Jackpot
Word Count: 7300
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: I hope this makes up for the previous short chapter and the hiatus prior to that, I love this chapter and hope you do too :)
Preparations for these types of functions always seemed a chore. And she was still relatively new to this. She did not think she could ever get used to trussing up, being pampered, making herself look how everyone else expected her look. She would much rather slob at home in sweats, hair tied back in a sloppy fashion and not a trace of makeup snuggled up to her favourite girl. Yes, those are how evenings in one's spare time should be spent.
Santana stepped out of the cab and onto the sidewalk. It was a warm June evening, another night away from the pressure cooker that was the kitchen at Empire State of Mind. Another evening to be spent with the one woman she would quite happily spend the rest of her evenings with. The thought sent a shiver down her spine, yes she was in love with Brittany and yes their relationship was still fresh. But Santana struggled to think of a future without the dancer in it. In fact, she did not want to. Ever.
Tonight was Brittany's night. Santana had been the focus of attention several weeks ago when she was nominated for a prestigious award, of which she did not win. Tonight was Broadway's biggest night, the Tony Awards and Brittany was nominated for a best actress in a musical award.
Brittany had been through the same rituals as Santana, she was excited for the occasion, yet had realistic expectations of what the night would entail. The couple's new favourite mantra being 'I'm already a winner, I have you'. If Santana was honest then yes, she had been disappointed not to win, it was only human nature to feel such emotion, she was competitive after all. However, she knew the value of hard work and how far she had come at such a young age in a short amount of time. She had met countless Chefs much older than her struggling for their break, for the opportunity to run their own kitchen, and here she was, mid-twenties, already having achieved that accomplishment.
By no means had the chef given up, she felt like she had so much more to give. She was constantly learning, both in the kitchen and maturing as a person. There were a number of factors she was thankful for and the biggest influence always shone through, above all else. Brittany. Her inspiration. The dancer made Santana want to be better. She wanted Brittany to be proud of her not just at the restaurant, but as a girlfriend also. As proud as she herself was of her girl. She had heard the stories of a young Brittany Pierce dragging her parents across the country from one dancing competition to the next. Of a young blonde singing in front of a mirror with a hairbrush. She had heard of the financial struggles the family had met to keep up with Brittany's career demands. And although she had not known Brittany then, she was incredibly proud of the woman she had become. More often than not Santana found herself staring in her own mirror, questioning why Brittany had chosen her. What did she have to offer when there were so many other people better than herself?
No matter how many times Brittany tried to reassure her, there was always that small element of doubt in her mind, which she apportioned blame to her own mother. The drama the other week when the Lopez's met the Pierce's had reaffirmed the fact that whatever Santana seemed to do, it was never quite good enough. Even her own mother had suggested Brittany was too good for her. Brittany had spent all night, into the early hours of the morning proving just how wrong Eva Lopez was. To which Santana was left extremely satisfied and a firm believer in Brittany's methods of improving self esteem.
She owed Brittany. The blonde had been her saviour and it had taken immense effort on Brittany's part to defeat the insecurities and walls the chef had steadily built around her over the years. The dancer could see the cracks and ultimately, the beauty that lay beneath. She gently began to chip away, slowly revealing more and more before finally watching the guard crumble. Santana's eyes were open to a whole new world and it was illuminating.
Tonight she was going to help Brittany celebrate the dancer's awesomeness. The street was quiet, the traffic noise was unusually muted, possibly due to the thundering beat of her heart Santana heard echoing around her head. She was nervous. Nervous for Brittany, but nervous because this was their first major public appearance together. Santana was the plus one of Brittany S. Pierce, rising Broadway Star. However, now it was less rising and becoming more established. Brittany had worked tirelessly in the run up to the awards, giving press interviews and having photo shoots. The women had almost become strangers due to the amount of time Brittany was 'doing press' in between performing. But today was the day. Santana smiled as she climbed the small stoop and pressed the buzzer of the apartment building.
Brittany sighed as she hooked the earring through her ear and fastened it, offering herself a small smile in the mirror before her. She was adding the finishing touches to her outfit as she awaited the arrival of her girlfriend. Tonight would be the end of a tiresome few weeks of press and performances. It also marked the pinnacle of her career. She had worked so hard for this moment. For the nomination she had received for a prestigious Tony Award. Brittany never expected that she would be nominated for such an award, she only ever dreamt of it, and never so early in her career. She had done it. All those sleepless nights sitting in the back of her parent's car as they drove her the length and breadth of the country had led to this moment.
Brittany was excited, despite the disappointment of the Chef missing out on an actual award, Brittany would always be proud of her and told her so in more ways than one. Santana was adamant that so long as she had Brittany, she was a winner, for Brittany was bigger and more invaluable than any prize. Every new moment spent with Santana, Brittany would fall deeper in love with her, whether it was a simple phone call or a sweet welcoming kiss. Brittany was giddy and just like Santana, she felt like she already had won the greatest prize on earth. Whatever the outcome tonight, she already had everything she dreamt of and more. Being so young and new to the industry, there was still ample time for Brittany to grow and develop as an artist, to gain further experience on Broadway and be nominated for Tony Awards in the future.
Brittany knew she constantly had to try and convince Santana that she was worth the dancer's love. They were very affectionate towards one another, though Brittany was aware of the insecurities Santana felt. She had no problem showering her with love, in an attempt to prove that Brittany loved her and that Santana should not doubt herself. Though she was also aware that the journeys people take, events in their history contribute to the people they become, to who they are today. Brittany knew of Santana's past troubles with love, with people who betrayed her and she made a promise to herself that she would do everything she could to show Santana how Brittany saw her. She had already made incredible headway in breaking down Santana's barriers and building on her previous insecurities. In just a few short months she knew for sure she loved Santana so much and would do anything for her.
She sighed once again as she looked at her reflection in the mirror. Then she smiled. Brittany looked different now than when she first arrived in New York as a spritely, excited newbie in the business and the City. The wide eyed young performer had arrived with such high hopes and dreams on the crest of a wave of opportunity. Everything she encountered was so fresh and vibrant. It had all the hustle and bustle of London, yet it was incredibly different. The only thing the same was the working schedule she kept. The hours seemed mundane in comparison to the distracting bright lights and the attractions of the City. However, performing is what kept the dancer ticking over, it was her life blood. Until the day a sultry dark mysterious brunette chef entered her life. From that moment on, her life became just that much more exciting.
Brittany was looking forward to walking the red carpet with Santana on her arm. She could not wait to show off her girlfriend to the world. She wanted everyone to know she was in love with the beautiful woman and despite some inevitable resistance of their relationship from a minority, she was happy to prove that love trumps all. It had eventually worked with her mother. Their encounter at the party several weeks ago had been enlightening. Firstly, meeting Santana's parents was beyond interesting. Santana had been right about her mother, she was certainly a character, and more than one character it would seem.
However, it was Eva Lopez's outburst that prompted her own mother to reconsider her thoughts and beliefs of Brittany's relationship with Santana. After much heartache on Brittany's part, Valerie Pierce vowed to be honest with her daughter. She finally accepted Brittany was in a relationship with Santana and that they were very much in love. The dancer was elated, although a gathering the following day with both sets of parents had initially been frosty, the rest of the luncheon was largely painless. Trepidation remained as it was the first real meeting of the parents, particularly since the previous night's drama. Brittany felt incredibly positive about the future. Now, she was simply awaiting Santana's arrival.
The limo ride was short. Santana sat quietly, eyes tracing the contours of the buildings as they crawled passed in the evening New York traffic. Her leg jittered, moving up and down, shaking with nerves. She clung tightly to Brittany's hand, sporadically feeling a gentle encouraging squeeze. Upon the last pressure she felt, tighter than the others, Santana whipped her head around. It took less than a second for her to seek out the caring blue eyes gazing back at her, questioning the Chef of her state. Santana offered a gentle nod and reassuring smile. "I'm sorry," she hastily offered. Brittany shook her head, her own smile taking over her features.
"It's ok," the dancer replied with an undeniable warmth. The look in her eyes was full of fire and understanding.
"It's your night," Santana spoke softly, her turn to squeeze at the hand that warmed her own. Brittany shrugged in an all too familiar way. She was as calm as ever, emanating a smooth confidence Santana envied.
"It's our night," replied Brittany with added indifference. Santana chuckled and shook her head. She loved how blasé Brittany could appear to be. She was like a graceful swan gliding across a serene pool, however, beneath the surface the feet were working at an immense rate to keep up the calm appearance.
"You're nervous," it was a statement, by now Santana could read the dancer and her emotions, simply from a look or body language. Brittany grinned. Santana constantly reminded her of why they were so right for one another. She nodded her head in affirmation, bringing her free hand up, almost pinching her thumb and forefinger together.
"A little," she agreed. She could never deny her love the truth. "I love you." This time it was Santana's turn to shrug.
"I know," she responded with a cheeky glint to her eye.
The limousine rolled to a stop, as did Santana's heart. Almost. She could now feel it pulsating all over her body as the opposite car door flew open, revealing the warm June air. Brittany reluctantly let go of her girlfriend's hand and slid across the leather and out of the door like a professional. Once outside she offered a huge smile and wave to the awaiting cameras and fans. Glancing back into the car, she caught a glance of Santana's not so graceful emergence, quickly stepping in front of her to protect her modesty. Unable to contain her grin, she glanced at Santana as she straightened beside her, a gritted teeth grin adorned her features. "How do you do that?" she asked, her lips remaining still. Brittany let out a hearty laugh, snaking an arm around her date and leaning close to the brunette, her nose brushing against Santana's ear.
"Practise," she stated with a whisper, "you'll get used it." she concluded with a wink. Santana melted, her cheeks relaxed and with a deep breath offered her first genuine smile in front of their audience.
"It's crazy," Santana observed. It was loud; there were screams and whoops, names being called, camera shutters sounding, distant car horns honking and the occasional emergency vehicle siren blaring.
"Welcome to the Tony Awards," A stranger's gentle voice was heard. Brittany ushered her girlfriend forward, venturing further onto the red carpet. The further they walked the more shouts of 'Brittany' she heard. Santana could not contain the pride she felt swelling in her heart. The love she felt for this woman beside her was growing by the second. She knew Brittany was good at her job, amazing even, but to hear other people appreciate her girlfriend's talent was almost overwhelming. Had she been alone, Santana would be feeling a tear trickle down her cheek right about now. But she was not alone and that did not mean she felt any less; Santana was holding it together for her girlfriend.
"They love you," Santana spoke quietly into Brittany's ear as they stopped for some photographs. Brittany giggled and shook her head disbelievingly. "Listen to them," she urged, "that's all for you."
"So crazy," Brittany replied.
"I love you so much," Santana smiled, leaning in to her girlfriend.
"I know." the dancer shrugged, before winking at the woman nestled into her side. Her grip around Santana's waist tightened, not wanting to let go. It was then she heard shouts from photographers for her to have solo shots. She pouted before reluctantly loosening her grip on Santana, stepping away slowly, offering an apologetic look, whilst mouthing 'sorry' to her other half. Santana nodded in understanding and stepped away from Brittany. Curiously she heard one or two shouts of her own name coming from the congregated photographers. Taking a deep breath she straightened up and smiled, offering her own pose to the cameras. Brittany glanced sideways, her grin reaching her ears as she saw Santana lap up her own attention. Whatever nerves Santana had been showing before, there was no sign of them now.
No sooner had they parted were they together again, slinking their arms around one another they moved forward to the line of reporters that were awaiting. "You loved that," Brittany teased.
"I kinda did," Santana laughed, "I'm surprised they knew who I was."
"Remember their job San," Brittany mused, "they get paid to know stuff. Aaaaand," she drawled, "you have kinda been on TV and you're kind of a big deal in food, I mean you got your nomination and your restaurant is the go to place for Broadway glitterati." Santana laughed at the dancer's accurate description.
"I guess you're right."
"I know I'm right," Brittany grinned as she stepped up to a reporter with a cameraman and microphone.
"Brittany!" The reporter began, "How are you feeling about your award nomination?" she asked. Brittany glanced at Santana before she worded her answer.
"I'm excited. It was totally unexpected, I mean, I'm so new to Broadway so it was a complete surprise, but yeah, I'm very excited just to be here."
"You have a chance of winning, the bookies have you right up there," the reporter announced.
"I don't knooooww," Brittany drawled, "it's a dream, sure and I'll be psyched to win, but there are so many talented women in the category who have been doing this a lot longer and are far more deserving of the award."
"You totally do deserve it babe," Santana interrupted with a frown. The reporter sent a look her way, one she was unsure of, "sorry," Santana muttered. Brittany squeezed her arm tighter around her date.
"Santana's my biggest fan," Brittany laughed, "and my biggest inspiration."
"How long have you two been dating?" the reporter asked.
"That's a bit of a personal question," accused Brittany.
"You're going to break a few fan's hearts, knowing you're not single," stated the reporter, "they're going to want to know." Santana sent a glare the reporter's way, catching herself as she realised they were going to be broadcast.
"We met on opening night," Brittany smiled as she recalled the evening, "that was my winning night." She beamed with pride.
"Do you have a message for any aspiring Broadway or West End stars?"
"Don't ever give up. Work hard, play hard and keep your dreams in sight."
"That's some great advice right there," the reporter agreed. "Thank you for your time."
"You're welcome," Brittany smiled with a curt nod before turning, taking Santana with her. "I love that I can show you off," she said, her hand placed gently on Santana's back, guiding her forward. They made several stops on the way to the entrance of the Beacon Theatre, Brittany was a Public Relations dream, answering questions appropriately and keeping topics relevant. She would answer questions about Santana, albeit briefly without revealing too much about their personal life. Santana was happy to stand beside her and be the supportive girlfriend, listening intently with a permanent smile etched on her features. She was incredibly proud of Brittany and it seemed the previous weeks full of press and PR had built confidence and poise in Brittany and prepared her for the red carpet.
"You're such a pro at this," Santana teased as they entered the theatre. "It's like you've been doing it for years."
"I've had my fair share of red carpet moments," began the blonde, "I attended a few events in London and one or two when I first arrived here, but nothing on this scale. I've never been nominated for such a huge award before."
"Maybe not, but there'll be many more to come," Santana pointed out, "I'm sure of that."
"Well then you had better get used to all this attention, because you will be with me," Brittany flashed a genuine smile.
"I wouldn't be anywhere else," Santana agreed, stealing a brief kiss from her girl.
It was Brittany's category, it seemed to have taken an age to get there, yet no time at all, it really was a bizarre feeling. They had held hands all evening, not once letting go. Santana was keeping Brittany grounded, she also used the dancer's touch as a comfort, for she was nervous on Brittany's behalf. The names of the nominees were called, the two women smiling at one another when they heard Brittany's name. Santana mouthed 'I love you' to the nominee sat beside her, squeezing her hand for emphasis. Brittany took a deep as the announcer slowly opened the envelope. This was the moment. She could hear her heart pounding heavily in her ears, the pulsating in her chest was rapid and unforgiving, the hand in her own offered a magnitude of love and support. The announcer looked up. His lips began to move, but no sound penetrated her ears. Brittany could not hear a word above the thrumming of her pulse, the hammering of her heart pumping. She felt a pain in her hand as it was squashed impossibly tight, people were jumping to their feet. Brittany looked around her, perplexed, there were eyes on her, hundreds of eyes upon her. Santana pulled her up, throwing her arms tightly around the performer, hugging her close. Brittany was confused, with no clue what was happening, until Santana's voice penetrated the muffled bubble she was currently residing. A flood of sound crashed through her ears, clapping, whoops and again, Santana's voice, as clear as anything she will ever hear in her life.
"You won," Santana breathed, apparently not for the first time, "baby you did it."
"I, I," she stuttered, "I don't understand," Brittany said, shaking her head in disbelief, "it's not possible."
"Baby," Santana said sternly, garnering her girlfriend's attention. She placed a hand either side of Brittany's head, her thumbs stroking lovingly over the soft skin of Brittany's cheeks as she forced her to gaze into her sincere brown eyes. "Baby you won."
"I won," Brittany repeated, realisation slowly settled in, "I won!" she screeched before launching her lips at Santana's. PR be damned, she won and she was going to kiss her girl.
"You won," Santana grinned, "I think you better go up and accept that bad boy."
"Yeah," Brittany breathed through a laugh. She stepped into the isle and walked up to the stage, accepting a number of congratulations and pats on the back along the way. Once on stage, Brittany took the award into her hands and stared at it. Surprised at it's weight. The first thing she noticed was her name etched into it at the bottom. Forcing the lump in her throat down, she stepped up to the microphone. Shaking her head, she let out a shaky laugh before she composed herself.
"I can't believe this," she began, "really, I can't. There were so many seasoned pro's in this category who I feel deserve this more." She took a moment to look up and bit her lip, nerves creeping into her being. She had been on a stage in front of hundreds of people thousands of times before, but always as someone else, never had she stood on a stage with an audience as Brittany S. Pierce. She felt incredibly naked and vulnerable. "I have to thank my parents, for carting me around the country when I was younger, helping me fulfil my dreams. I also have to thank the production team of this very show in the West End, for helping me grow as a performer, which led me here, to Broadway. I want to share this award with my colleagues, my professional family because every show is a team effort." She paused, taking a moment to seek out Santana in the crowd. She was watching with pure adoration, her hands clasped over her heart as Brittany's words poured out, "and lastly I want to thank Santana, my inspiration," she sighed heavily and happily, "just, wow. Again, everyone, thank you."
Santana watched the beauty glide gracefully off the stage. Tears had welled up in her eyes threatening to spill over at any moment. She willed them to stay, yet she was so proud and felt so emotional watching her girlfriend on the stage accepting the award. Forgotten was her own disappointment in not winning her own award, to her it simply didn't matter. She wanted every success and happiness to come Brittany's way, because if Brittany was happy, Santana was happy and that was satisfying enough for the Chef. She knew she was good at her job, she did not need the awards to show it, in a business like hers, it was the joy and satisfaction of people enjoying her food. It was filling the restaurant with people, it was the waiting list for reservations, the food reviews, the team work in her kitchen. It was the fact she could rely on and trust her kitchen staff to run the place in her absence. She did not need an award for that, though she would not lie, it would have been nice. For Brittany's profession it was different, show business thrived on awards shows and was all a part of the razzmatazz and lure. It also negotiated pay cheques. Not that Brittany was like that at all. Brittany loved her job. She had worked hard since she was a child to get to where she was today and all the deserved attention was on her. This award would open many doors for the performer, it would effectively make her famous. Santana wondered for a brief moment how she would cope with that. She would cope with anything, so long as she was with Brittany.
The winner of the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical and her girlfriend, found themselves walking through the front doors of Empire State of Mind where they had hosted an exclusive viewing party of the Tony Awards. As they strolled through the doors, hand in hand giggling like school girls, a loud applause erupted. They had already battled through a number of paparazzi awaiting their arrival on the street, now they faced an excited and jubilant crowd of party goers, supporters and colleagues. Brittany glanced at Santana who nodded her agreement, the performer let go of Santana's hand and ventured in, with her award through the throng of people. Santana, once again, watched on with adoration.
"Your girl did good," came the voice from beside her. She glanced up to see Quinn grinning widely at the scene before them.
"She did," Santana sighed, "I can't tell you how proud I am of that woman."
"I can see it," Quinn offered, "your eyes are shining in a way I've never seen before." Santana frowned and looked at her colleague who nodded to emphasise her point, "I was so stupid to ever think I had a chance with you. Hell I didn't even believe that I did."
"Quinn, don't," Santana warned, they had moved passed the incident and had been getting along great as colleagues first and then as friends.
"Just, hear me out ok?" The restaurateur all but begged. Santana silently nodded her assent with caution, hoping that whatever Quinn said would not ruin her evening. "Thinking about it, I seriously cannot believe I made a pass you, I don't know what I was thinking. I knew you loved Brittany, I didn't even want to hit on you."
"Gee thanks," Santana joked, laughing nervously.
"No, I mean, you're beautiful, sure, but I'm not attracted to you, I never was. Sam had ended our relationship, you had a fall out with Brittany and I had no idea what I was thinking." she explained.
"That barely makes sense. But I guess the whole thing didn't make sense," Santana reasoned.
"All I ever wanted was to be your friend," Quinn explained, she held her hands together neatly in front of her, briefly dropping her eyes to her clasped hands before returning her hazel eyed gaze to her friend. "The way you kept everyone at arm's length, you were a challenge and I have to say, I'm a sucker for a challenge."
"That does not," Santana's voice rose. She glanced around cautiously before lowering her voice to a harsh whisper, "that does not give you the right to kiss me."
"I know, and I am so sorry, I overstepped the mark and nothing like that will ever happen again, I assure you," Quinn promised, she raised her hands in an almost prayer like gesture.
"Just do me a favour?" she requested with a sigh. Quinn nodded in agreement. "Never mention it again."
"Is Brittany mad with me?" Quinn ventured, curiously. They had not had many encounters since, the dancer always seemed preoccupied talking with someone else whenever Quinn had been within reaching distance of her. What the restaurateur was unsure of, was whether it was a ploy to keep her at bay.
"She was, of course she was, "Santana began almost wistfully, recalling her girlfriend's displeasure at the situation, "I was too and I'm pretty sure you were mad at you..." she trailed off, "but now it's nothing. OK?"
"Ok," Quinn agreed breathing a sigh of relief. "Thank you."
"No worries," Santana replied, "now where's my champagne? You're a lousy hostess Fabray."
"Santana! Santana!" Santana rolled her eyes, recognising the voice immediately. Quinn smirked at the woman beside her before deciding to hunt down a glass of bubbly for her friend.
"Rachel freaking Berry. What a surprise!" exclaimed Santana, her tone oozing with sarcasm. She took a moment to take in her surroundings as her colleague approached. Since she walked through the door, Brittany had disappeared into the crowd and she was left alone, an awkward conversation taking place with Quinn. Now she was to endure Rachel Berry's arduous rambling. Tonight was not quite working out as planned. She was supposed to be Brittany's date for the whole evening, however, since arriving at the restaurant, any onlooker would assume they had not arrived with one another.
"Can I just say," Rachel began, 'no' Santana thought, yet smiled and nodded politely, "that I am so happy for Brittany. I have seen her performance no less than five times," Santana's eyes widened at that revelation, "and she is thoroughly deserving of the award. I knew she could do it."
"While I appreciate that you have seen my girlfriend perform more times than I have, why don't you tell her yourself?"
"I would, but if I'm honest Santana, I'm a little star struck," admitted the waitress. If possible Santana's eyes widened even further, she was sure they could pop out at any second. Chuckling at her own absurd thoughts, Santana composed herself and tilted her head before replying.
"You've met Britt tons of times, what's the matter with you hobbit?"
"Now she has won such a prestigious Broadway award and beaten some of the biggest names in the industry, I just don't think I will be able to contain myself if I talk to her. I mean she's Brittany Pierce," Rachel chatted animatedly.
"Yeah, Brittany Pierce," Santana stated, "she's the same woman who was sat here having breakfast yesterday, who you so annoyingly decided to list your whole Broadway soundtrack collection to."
"It's different now Santana," Rachel said shaking her head before walking off. Santana was left, Rachel's parting words pinging around her head like a wild pinball, 'it's different now'. She looked across the restaurant, catching her girlfriend laughing and joking with people she didn't recognised. As blue eyes lifted to meet brown, an instant grin formed on the blonde's face that radiated through her gaze. Santana felt her own lips lift into an instant smile, Rachel Berry and her words now free from her mind. Brittany Pierce was still Brittany Pierce, Santana's Brittany.
Perched upon one of the high bar stools, Santana sat wearily, her head resting upon her hand. The clink of a bottle startled her, made her jump a little and her eyes opened having closed automatically when her head had made contact with her hand.
"Long day?" she heard, a familiar voice penetrating her mind. She frowned, her eyes heavy lidded, she slowly, painfully lifted her head and turned towards the voice. Santana smiled lazily, one particular memory flooding back to her with force. She opened her eyes and was met with the stunning gaze of a blue eyed beauty. Santana nodded her response to the question posed by her girlfriend. "You look how I feel," Brittany stated, sipping a clear liquid from a tumbler.
"Oh yeah? And how's that?" Santana asked curiously, her head now propped up on her hand, her elbow providing the support. She could not help the wide grin that graced her features, this very conversation an echo of the one that took place six months ago on opening night. The very night she first set eyes on the beauty before her.
"Tired," Brittany mused, tilting her head to the side in thought, "but you'll always be beautiful to me, no matter what."
"Good to know," Santana winked.
"The lady bought you a beer." Sam said, motioning to the bottle beside the Chef. He turned and continued to clean up the bar for closing. Santana could not help but shake her head as she chuckled.
"Is this your way of apologising?" Santana asked. Brittany looked at her with confusion, "I've had Berry in my ear night, like some crazy chirpy happy thing, while you mingle like a pro," she said, taking a swig from the bottle. "Thanks." she said, tilting the beer toward the blonde.
"You're welcome," Brittany replied, "and I guess I'm sorry for abandoning you."
Santana shrugged, she shook her head and smiled as she brought the bottle to her lips once again. She took in a long sip of the amber liquid, "you don't have to apologise honey. It's your night, you deserve all the love and attention and congratulations."
"Hmm," Brittany hummed as she scooted closer, "has anyone ever told you you're the best girlfriend ever?"
Santana thought for a moment, her brow furrowed, "actually? No."
"I feel bad for them," Brittany began, "because you Santana Lopez, are the best girlfriend ever." Inching closer, Brittany closed the gap between them and captured Santana's lips with her own. She could taste the cool beer upon her lover's lips. Santana took a hold of Brittany's waist and pulled her closer until their bodies were flush against each other. The fabric of their dresses caressed one another, the fine materials becoming one, as did the two women so obviously in love. Brittany's arms lay rested over Santana's shoulders, fingers idly playing with strands of hair as Santana slipped her tongue, first through her own lips, then through Brittany's. The two kissed as if they were the only two in the room, forgetting where they were. The party guests had left, leaving a small handful of staff clearing up around them, not one stopping to take notice of the lovebirds. Pulling away ever so gently, Brittany smiled as she rubbed her nose against Santana's. "I love you so much," she whispered.
"Me too," Santana said, "I love you, I don't love me, no, I love me, I..." Brittany cut her off with a chaste kiss.
"Get a room ladies," Kurt said as he so eloquently swept passed, causing Santana to roll her eyes.
"Hey, did you know my girlfriend is a Tony Award winner?" Santana teased.
"Yes Santana," replied Kurt with an eye roll of his own. "I'm very aware of that."
"Good," she smiled triumphantly.
"I think," Brittany grinned with a mischievous glint in her eye, "that we should take Kurt's advice." Santana smirked, her thoughts jumping to the exact meaning behind her girlfriend's words. "I do believe I've neglected you this evening and that just won't do."
"No," Santana shook her head, "no it won't do at all."
"I think I have some making up to do," Brittany said, nuzzling her nose into Santana's neck.
"I couldn't agree more," Santana sighed, feeling the warmth of Brittany's lips against her skin, "I also think," she gulp as Brittany nipped at her flesh, "that I must congratulate you properly."
"Mmm," Brittany replied, her lips still firmly attached to Santana.
"Baby," Santana began, reluctantly pulling away gently from her girlfriend, "baby." Santana coaxed Brittany, forcing her to look into her very persuasive eyes. "Home," she ordered, taking Brittany's hands into her own. She rubbed her thumbs over the soft skin and carefully brought both hands up to her lips and placed a sweet kiss on them.
"Home," Brittany grinned, she sincerely enjoyed the sound of that. It didn't matter to whose apartment they would retire, to her, home was wherever Santana was and she strongly believed that the feeling was mutual.
And like the opening night of Brittany's musical, the performance that had brought them to this moment, the cab ride was a quiet one. Instead of a nervous energy bouncing around the back of the taxi, both women sat in a comfortable silence, enjoying the feel each other's soft touch in each of their hands. Brittany eyed the woman beside her, and could not feel any happier. Every time she looked at Santana, her heart soared and the butterflies in her stomach raged with excitement. Santana was her everything. Imagining her life now without Santana was like believing she could live without air. It was an impossibility. Brittany would do everything she could to make Santana smile, to watch the sparkle dance in her eyes as she laughed, to gaze lovingly at the crinkle that would appear on her nose and the dimples in her cheeks that teased Brittany's melting heart. She sighed with content, her head dropping back against the worn material of the seat and watched as the buildings zoomed by the window as they passed. New York felt like home. Her career was here, her love was here. She had everything she could ever dream of and her life was only just beginning. Brittany was getting the recognition she had not necessarily sought but her talent and hard work had afforded her.
"What are you thinking about?" the hoarse voice broke her haze. Brittany smiled as the voice oozed through her being. She turned her head and caught Santana's intrigued gaze, her deep brown eyes offering so much more than she could ever imagine.
"You," Brittany blushed, a shy smile creeping across her face. Santana raised a questioning eyebrow. "And me." Brittany replied. "And all of this." she waved her hand around in the air.
"Life," Brittany responded with a sigh.
"Are you happy?" Santana asked tentatively. She watched as several emotions passed through the crystal blue eyes before her. Santana knew Brittany was contemplating her words and furrowed her brow in confusion. Because without doubt Santana would have answered the very same question instantly with a 'yes'. To have Brittany hesitate was disconcerting. Brittany squeezed Santana's hand in her own as brown eyes widened slightly. Santana's heart sped up, almost with dread as she began to anticipate Brittany's next words, a worst case scenario playing out in her mind.
"Happier than I have ever been in my life and it's because of you," Brittany smiled warmly, calming her lover's nerves somewhat.
"There's something else," Santana stated, rather than asked, however, she knew Brittany would afford her an answer. The dancer was always open and honest with her and for that Santana was eternally grateful.
"San," Brittany began, taking a deep breath, "tonight I reached my ultimate career goal and now I'm kinda stuck."
"What do you mean?" Santana asked.
"I need a new career goal," Brittany shrugged. "What do I aim for now? I mean, with you, there's so much more to come and I love you so much and I am so excited about our future and if I'm really honest, I could not even have a career and I would still be the happiest girl in the world, but..."
"I would never ask you to give up your career for me, you love it too much," Santana interrupted with urgency.
"I know honey," Brittany smiled reassuringly, she brought their clasped hands into her lap. "My dream was always Broadway and then my dream was a Tony and I got those in the same year, this year, it's crazy, who does that happen to?"
"You," Santana cooed, she leaned in for a quick kiss, "you're incredible."
Brittany blushed once again at the compliment, "Thank you." she replied.
"So now you feel like you need a new dream," Santana stated.
"Yes," Brittany smiled.
"Well hey," began Santana, she looked at their fingers entwined with one another and placed her free hand over the top of them before taking in Brittany's eager and enthusiastic gaze. "You don't have to decide now. Enjoy this moment, then maybe we could take a vacation and figure it out together." Santana murmured the last part with a slight hesitancy, unsure if she may have overstepped a boundary. "If you want to, of course."
It took another moment for Brittany to respond, the words sinking in and being processed, "Of course!" she exclaimed, "So, are we like going on vacation together?" she asked with a childish excitement.
"Yeah sure." Santana laughed, Brittany's reaction was infectious.
"We're going on vacation!" Brittany squealed before pulling her girl in for a hug and a kiss, "I can't wait to get you in a bikini." she whispered with sweet conspiracy against Santana's lips. Santana laughed and returned the favour, offering Brittany a sweet kiss. A loud cough burst their little bubble in the back of the taxi cab, the two women having forgotten their surroundings, only having eyes and ears for one another.
"Sorry," Santana muttered, searching for her purse having realised they had rolled to a stop. She paid the driver and waited for Brittany to exit the cab first. She shuffled across the seat, following her girlfriend out of the door and into the cool night air. She stepped up to Brittany and offered a warm arm around her shoulders as a slight shiver shook the blonde. "You ok?"
"I am now," Brittany smiled, her award clutched tightly in her hand. She snuggled closer to Santana and guided her toward the stoop of the building. "Home."
"We always land up at my place," Santana laughed nervously as she took her keys from her purse. She was very conscious of the fact Brittany had labelled it 'home' yet was timid to address it.
"I like it better than mine," Brittany shrugged. "I just love the Village. And you're here and I love you." she stated simply.
Santana paused at the door, she chewed on her lip as she watched Brittany speak her words so simply. The blonde was breathtaking. It had been a long day and she knew Brittany was tired, yet she looked as fresh as when Santana had turned up at her apartment earlier that evening. Santana was flagging, she had seen the dark circles beneath her own eyes when she looked at her reflection in the mirror at Empire State of Mind. It was right now she had two realisations. One, to suggest a name change of the restaurant to simply, 'Empire' or 'Mind' to give the restaurant more of an edge - that would take some discussion with Quinn. And two, "Move in with me." she stated, her own voice startling her.
Brittany stood stock still, slightly stunned that Santana had spoken so abruptly after her prolonged silence. "I'm sorry, what now?" Brittany asked, believing her ears had deceived her.
"Move in with me." Santana replied with a steal determination. It felt liberating, to say such words and not be afraid. Brittany set her free, free from what demons she once harboured. Free from the confines of her own fears and doubts. Santana now had no doubt in her mind that she wanted to wake up to Brittany every morning and lay down with her every night. The first and last thing she saw in between dreaming of the woman she loved.
"I need to buy a lottery ticket." Brittany stated in a daze.
"A what? Why?" Santana asked, with slight annoyance.
"A Tony, a vacation and now this?" she replied, "Santana I," Brittany took a breath, her heart pounding a million miles a minute, "yes, I'll move in with you!" she all but yelled, flinging herself into her girlfriend's arms. "Yes, yes, yes, a billion times yes!"
"So that's a yes then, right?" Santana smirked. Her own heart beating out of her chest, mostly from relief.
"Yes!" Brittany squealed. "Can we have sex now?" she breathed into her girlfriend's ear.
"I was counting on it." Santana retorted, hurrying to open the door. She took one last look at the quiet Manhattan street before she turned and ushered her girlfriend in to their apartment. Their apartment. Santana smirked, she had hit the jackpot.