Author: Gorshenin PM
AU. They said she was just a pretty face, a model fed lines to sell a product. But if you squinted, there was more to Santana Lopez than they gave her credit for, and reporter Brittany Pierce was going to get to the bottom of it. Brittana/FaberryRated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Romance - Brittany P. & Santana L. - Chapters: 38 - Words: 209,311 - Reviews: 1,835 - Favs: 1,785 - Follows: 2,379 - Updated: 07-31-12 - Published: 12-11-11 - id: 7627238
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
They moved through the studio, Tina showing Brittany the different sets and places for wardrobe. It was the first time Brittany had ever been in a professional studio like this, and she had nothing to compare it to, but she was impressed. This was Tina's world and Brittany got the idea that even without Santana's influence, she would have made this happen for herself.
"That's my set crew," the photographer explained with a wave, "I try to keep no more than five around at a time."
Brittany glanced at the people setting things up on the set they were going to be using. She noticed that they were all women. She wondered if that was a precaution for Santana's sake or if it was Tina's hiring preference. Brittany followed Tina along a wall of various dressing rooms until they stopped at the door closest to the active set. Tina knocked and as they waited for an answer, they heard Santana's voice float through it.
"Kurt, no. I am not wearing that thing with the straps. I'm not doing it."
The door opened and Quinn slipped out, "Good you're here, she's already flipping out about the wardrobe. I'm going for coffee, have fun with that."
Tina laughed at her as they moved into the door.
Brittany found Santana sitting in a salon chair wearing a black robe, a stylist stood behind her, blow-drying her dark hair. Santana's arms were crossed over her chest, a heavy glare fixated on the material hanging from the clothing rack across from her. When she noticed them walking into the room her glare softened into a mild look of annoyance.
"Santana," Tina crossed the room and took the offending dress off the rack, "you know the rules."
"I don't care," her voice dropped a little, she didn't want to throw a fit in front of Brittany. "I'm not wearing it."
"What are the rules?" Brittany asked Kurt quietly as she took a seat next to him in one of the chairs along the wall.
"But it's so pretty."
"Yeah, pretty skimpy."
"She's not allowed to refuse an outfit until after she tries it on," Kurt answered with a roll of his eyes. "Just wait until her coffee buzz wears off, she's hasn't even started being a diva yet."
Brittany had to smile, watching Santana's jaw set rebelliously as Tina tried to coax her into at least giving the dress a chance. She recrossed her legs, the robe slipping a little further up her thigh. Brittany had to look away.
"I think it's kind of cute," Brittany chuckled to Kurt who looked disbelieving.
Tina shook her head, "I wouldn't call this designer skimpy, Santana."
"Really? Because that clasp on the back looks like a quick release button. It's totally a stripper dress."
"This dress cost more than your fancy computers."
"And yet," Santana scoffed, rolling her eyes, "it's about as useful as a wet rag."
A breath of a laugh escaped the photographer. Tina smiled at Santana, who was looking back at her, waiting for a rebuttal.
"I've missed you, Santana."
Santana's glare broke into a grin that they shared.
With her hair finally finished, the stylist scuttled out of the dressing room and Santana progressed to the next stage in the process.
Brittany watched Tina set up the makeup kits along the vanity, pick up a brush, and slowly lower herself until she was sitting on Santana's lap, one leg on either side of her hips. Santana was still talking about something that had happened at work last week and didn't seem fazed by the action at all. The way her hands settled instantly on Tina's thighs said she was pretty comfortable with it. Their conversation never wavered, they were casual, familiar, close.
Brittany felt her eyes narrow, something between her shoulder blades tighten.
"She always does this."
Brittany jumped a little as Kurt spoke next to her, "What?"
"Tina and Santana," Kurt leaned over to whisper to her, "they always do this. I'm sure you find it odd that she's doing Santana's makeup."
She found Tina's position on Santana more odd than the actual makeup application.
"The thing we love about working with Tina," Kurt clarified, "is that, beyond hair, she can take care of almost everything herself. Her sets are always able to be prepped by just a handful of people, and sometimes even herself if she can swing it. It makes everything so personable, everything is in her influence, lighting, placement, makeup."
"Oh," Brittany laughed a little, trying to downplay her bubbling unrest in her stomach. "Yeah, Santana's said that Tina has been her friend since college so... I guess it makes sense that they're… comfortable with each other."
A slow grin spread over Kurt's face that Brittany didn't notice, "Tina is great at bringing her out of her shell. Besides, sitting on her is the best way to keep her still throughout the whole thing."
If Brittany thought about it objectively, she had to give Santana credit. The girl had taste; Tina was beautiful.
She was radiant actually, with her hair in a perfectly casual bun, the gray and silver button down blouse with slimming slacks accentuated all of the right features, Brittany didn't blame Santana for looking. Being in her lap probably didn't help matters either. The photographer reached over, maybe just a little further down than absolutely necessary, as she went for another eyeliner pencil. The movement gave Santana an all too perfect view down Tina's shirt.
Santana had the courtesy to be subtle about it, and Brittany was sure no one would notice her discrepancy unless they were actively looking for it. She knew it was more than just a customary glance to compare, as women sometimes did, by the way Santana's eyes appreciated more than just her breasts. They trailed the curve of Tina's neck and up to her jaw. Watching the photographer worry her bottom lip in concentration.
Brittany wondered if she wanted to kiss the woman.
She hoped not.
Santana, it seemed, was open to physical contact. She allowed Quinn to lead her by the arm at the conventions, and she was accustomed Blaine's friendly pats in the gym. Tina was one more person in Santana's inner circle of physical closeness. She found herself, desperately, wanting to be apart of that. She wanted to reach over and take Santana's hand whenever she wanted. To put an arm around her waist while they were walking. To perhaps... kiss her on the cheek when they said goodnight to each other in the lobby of Clockwork.
Brittany wanted to smile and frown at the same time.
She wanted to smile because it was adorable how the Latina would flush lightly at the barest of touches, or when Tina would ask her a question and she needed to pull her eyes of of the photographer's cleavage to answer it.
She wanted to frown because she was jealous. She wanted to be the one making Santana blush, or advert her eyes in that coy little manner. Brittany wanted to march over there and push Tina out of the way, just so she could be the one applying lipstick to those deliciously full lips—
But she couldn't, so she just watched from her seat not too far off from the vanity. She reminded herself that she was there to observe, to experience Santana's life in its entirety, and that meant watch another woman sit on her lap and make her laugh.
"You need to stop that."
Santana furrowed her brow, why were they whispering?
"Checking me out," Tina smirked lightly.
Santana flushed, "I've been in this chair for half an hour, what else am I supposed to look at?"
"Not my chest," Tina teased.
"Like you even have one."
"Shut up," Tina breathed so only Santana could hear, keeping her lips from moving as much as possible. "She's already drilling holes into my skull."
Santana snorted disbelievingly.
"I'm being serious, I'm surprised she hasn't taken this pencil out of my hand and stabbed me with it," Tina wiggled the eyeliner pencil slightly in front of Santana's face.
"Don't talk about stabbing when you're about to use that thing," Santana mumbled. "It freaks me out."
Tina chuckled lightly, "Oh, be quiet. I think you're right about her. She might really be interested in you."
"You say that like you're surprised."
"I am," Tina whispered back to her. "It's not like you to let someone in this close so soon."
Santana bit the inside of her cheek, "She has a sneaky little way of getting past my defenses."
"Not an easy feat," she smiled softly, "I know I never made it past most of them."
Santana's brow furrowed in the only way she was able to express guilt with the utensils lining her eyes.
"I'm... sorry about that."
"I never took it personally," she brushed it off. "I'm just glad that you've finally found someone to let in."
"Nothing's even happened between us, I don't know why people keep insisting that we're long lost soul mates or something—"
"Santana hush," Tina took a risk and used a finger to lift the brunette's jaw shut. "You took her, by the hand, into my gallery, to show her your favorite photo. I don't think Quinn even knows which one is your favorite."
"That's because Quinn's never asked," Santana brushed it off, but the Tina could feel the heat on her cheeks.
"I doubt Brittany did."
"Hold still, I'm almost finished."
They fell silent as Tina stood up, hovering over Santana to examine her work. She turned to Kurt and Brittany, "What do you think?"
She hadn't meant to say it, but when Santana's eyes slid over towards hers, Brittany was glad that she had. The flush on those tanned cheeks was quite adorable, and perhaps, more pronounced than anything Tina had earned.
Brittany took a spot next to Kurt at the computer that was connected to Tina's camera.
The girls were on a set that depicted a stately looking study. Classic literature lined the walls, posh rug under her feet, and a realistic electric fireplace sat along the back wall washing warm light over the area. Santana was sitting in regal leather armchair, dressed in a classy black dress and a pearl necklace, a Clockwork laptop placed on her thighs.
"Santana, stop checking your email and focus."
"Tina," Santana rolled her eyes dramatically. "Don't you want this to be as authentic as possible?"
"She's such a diva," Kurt chuckled to Brittany from the booth.
"The light from the screen is messing up my shot," Tina frowned at her from above the camera, "now do you want to get this over with or not?"
"Fine." Santana powered down the computer and asked, "How's my position?"
"Tilt the screen just a little farther forward, I need the logo to catch the light," Tina squinted through her lens. "That's perfect, now, left hand on the computer, and your other elbow on the arm of the chair."
"Like this?" Santana sat as Tina directed her and looked towards the photographer.
"That's perfect Santana," Tina smiled into her camera, "now let's get to work."
Brittany and Kurt watched the pictures populate on the laptop in front of them.
"Oh wow," Kurt mused, shuffling through them, "that's pretty."
"Totally," Brittany agreed.
"I think they're going to photoshop the computer screen in later," Kurt told her, "it's too hard to capture on film like this."
Tina directed Santana into a variance of poses, subtle changes in her body shape. Place her hand here or there, look this way or that. It was all very repetitive and Brittany could see how Santana could grow to resent it. After a dozen or so pictures, Kurt was satisfied that they had achieved a few great pictures.
"I think we got this shot, Tina. Why don't you come check it out?"
"Be right there," Tina smiled, she knew of a particular frame that she thought stood out among the rest.
"You guys are already done with the first set?" Quinn appeared out of the main gallery and started towards them.
"Santana just rocked it," Tina praised as she came towards them.
"Hey Britt," Kurt took the drink out of Quinn's hand and offered it to the journalist, "do me a huge favor and take this to Santana, and please, for the love of god, keep her from touching her makeup."
Brittany laughed, taking the drink and standing up, "I'll do my best."
Santana wasn't a fan of photo shoots; it was the epitome of invasion. Right now, she had three people circling a computer to look at photos of her. Analyzing, comparing, judging. She knew they were doing it with the best kind of intention, but even then, it was too much for comfort.
She smiled when Brittany crossed the set to come and talk to her. The blonde sank onto the arm of the chair Santana was sitting in, holding out a cup of iced tea with a straw.
"Compliments of Quinn," Brittany smiled softly.
"Thanks. So what do you think so far?" she took the drink and helped herself to a sip.
She laughed, looking around at everything, "I don't envy you, Santana."
"I'm glad you understand why I hate this," she sighed, "and the worst part is that Tina makes it as painless as possible, and its still torture."
"I don't even want to know how the other shoots go," Brittany agreed.
They sank into a small silence, watching people work around them, either setting up the lights or fixing props. Brittany shifted a little on the arm of the chair, taking Santana's empty cup from her hands and set it on the floor next to them.
One of Santana's eyebrows lifted in question.
Brittany continued, "You and Tina."
"Me and Tina?"
"Is that proper English?" Brittany jested, poking the brunette's shoulder lightly.
A slow grin spread over Santana's face, "Tina and I, then."
"Tina and I...?" Brittany prompted the continuation of that sentence.
Santana's eyes fell to her nails, "Are friends?"
"You're close," Brittany knew she was treading a line, but she was curious and she knew Santana understood what she was asking. "Close enough to let her sit in your lap for just about an hour."
"We..." Santana flushed a little, dropping her voice, "...might have been something more than friends. In a past life."
"You only have one life Santana," Brittany chuckled, gracing her with an amused look, one that made Santana feel playful and giddy. "All the bits and pieces are connected somehow."
"Compartmentalization is a hobby of mine."
"I'm not sure what Dr. Phil would have to say about that."
"I could care less about that man's opinion," Santana snorted.
"Is that just because it's a man's opinion?"
Santana blinked, surprised at the question.
"I'm kidding," Brittany's serious face broke into a sly grin.
Santana ducked her head, a breath of laughter escaping her. She moved to scratch her nose in an effort to hide her blush.
"Don't—" Brittany caught Santana's hand before she could reach her face, "touch you makeup."
"Did Kurt send you over here to babysit me?" Santana asked, her eyes flickering between Brittany's face and their hands.
"I'm not complaining," she smiled running her thumb lightly over the underside of Santana's wrist. "Tell me about this... past life of yours."
"Tina and I, dated briefly," she watched Brittany's eyes, "in college... it was a phase."
Santana flushed, and Brittany watched her eyes skate around the room.
"What happened? If you don't mind me asking," she coaxed, turning Santana's hand over so her palm was face up. She used her index finger to trace a small pattering in the brunette's skin. The action was soft and calming, and Santana's eyes wanted to roll into the back of her head from the feel of it. "You two seem to work well together."
Santana laughed lightly and Brittany's stomach flipped at the sound, "You mean she doesn't take my crap."
Brittany grinned, tucking a stray hair behind her ear, "Maybe?"
"I was actually the one that ended it," Santana sighed, sparing a glance to the woman across the set. "She deserved someone that could make her happy."
Brittany's eyebrows furrowed, her eyes were softly asking for Santana to continue.
"I'm being serious," Santana's voice dropped into a self-conscious mumble. "A lot of stuff went down a few months after we started seeing each other... I cut it off to spare her the drama."
"I'm not sure if that's noble or... kind of silly of you."
Santana sent her a puzzled look, it was hard to think with those nails running over her palm, "How do you mean?"
"Do you always push people away when you're hurt?"
Santana ran her tongue over her teeth because she couldn't lick her lips. She was surprised that Brittany didn't ask what the drama that lead up to the breakup was. She didn't know how much longer she could keep it from her.
"I'm going to take your shy silence as a yes," Brittany smiled softly, pressing her whole palm into Santana's.
She wanted to interlace their fingers, but couldn't. That would be too personal. To intimate. She was already crossing the line. Her heart thudded when she felt Santana's fingers flutter upwards, so they would brush against hers more fully. Did Santana want the same thing? To hold her hand?
"It's nice that you're still friends," Brittany said honestly. Tina seemed like a nice woman, and she liked the idea of Santana being surrounded by good people.
Because it seemed like it was exceptionally important at the time, Santana blurted out, "Just friends." She blushed when her mind caught up to her mouth, "She's done a lot for me, but we're um… just friends."
A blushing smile spread over Brittany's face, "Good to know."
Santana dropped her eyes, knowing she had put herself out there a little too far.
The pads of Brittany's fingers ran over a particularly coarse patch of Santana's palm.
"Are gross," Santana whispered self-consciously, her fingers curled up trying to hide her palm, "I know."
"Are my favorite," Brittany brushed her fingers back again, brushing her own hand against Santana's until they caught at the thumb, positioned for a formal shake. "I noticed it the first time we shook hands… I like the way you hand feels…"
She wanted to finish that statement with, in mine, but that would have been entirely too inappropriate and she had basically been holding Santana's hand for the past fifteen minutes already. Brittany just couldn't help herself. She couldn't seem to keep the borders professional. She couldn't look down at the Latina, blushing with that shy smile, and not want to make her smile like that again.
"Santana, these turned out great."
Tina's voice cut through their little world. Brittany and Santana took their hands back instantly, making sure to make it look as casual as possible.
"We can start on the next set."
She didn't understand why this was necessary. She hated this much product in her hair and this dress was probably the skimpiest sheet of material she's ever worn. Santana was following Kurt's instruction and holding very still. As still as completely possible while he fiddled with the zipper in the back.
That horrible thing with the straps.
"I swear they make these zippers so small you need tweezers to grab onto them," Kurt mumbled from behind her.
"I swear they make these dresses so uncomfortable, you need a stiff drink just to leave your house," Santana seethed.
"Come on," Kurt rolled his eyes, "it could be worse."
"I don't see how."
"You could be wearing nothing but a lacy thong and—"
"Okay!" Santana cut him off, not needing the imagery, "okay, it could be worse."
"Hold your front up, I'm going to let this strap go so I can get a better hold of this zipper."
"Are you telling me I'm too fat for this dress?"
"Not at all," Kurt snorted, "I just need two hands to get this."
She put a hand on the material covering her chest as Kurt let go of the straps that would be tied to a metal ring between her shoulder blades.
Santana huffed impatiently, "This is taking too long."
"We're going to be here all day anyway so I don't even want to hear it," he scolded lightly. "If you don't want them sending in the professionals, you're just going to have to put up with me."
She rolled her eyes but didn't say anything else.
"I can't get this," Kurt stood up and wiped his sleeve across his forehead. "I'll be right back."
"Where are you—"
He had already left before Santana could finish her question. She let out an aggravated sigh, stranded in the dressing room, half dressed and holding flimsy material over her chest.
The door opened and Santana paled as much as she blushed when Brittany walked into the room with Kurt.
"Hey," she smiled kindly. She wasn't surprised that Santana looked a little uncomfortable at her appearance.
With this growing... something, between them, Brittany had stayed out of the dressing room as Santana went to change outfits. She knew there was no reason for her to be in the room for that. She hoped Santana knew that she meant it as a gesture of respect towards her modesty. She didn't want Santana to think she was taking advantage of this situation.
"Kurt said he needed some help, can I try?"
"Knock yourself out," Santana shrugged gruffly, then regretted that decision when the straps of her dress fell lower on her shoulders, one slipping off completely.
Brittany crossed the room, slowly, cautiously, as if Santana was a stray cat that could run at any moment. She reached out and touched the Latina's arm lightly, "You look very pretty, Santana."
The warm brown eyes skated around the room to avoid Brittany's as she flushed lightly, clutching the dress to her chest tighter. She was vulnerable, uncomfortable, and there was no escape.
"Let me see if I can get this zipper," Brittany moved behind her and as soon as she was out of view Santana glared daggers at the stylish man leaning casually against the wall.
Kurt smiled slyly and said, "I'm going to go tell Tina that you'll only be a few more minutes."
With that, he slipped out and left Santana alone and half dressed with the girl that made her heart race and her stomach drop.
"Jeez Kurt was right," Brittany chuckled quietly, "this zipper is tiny."
Santana felt Brittany fumble with the small piece of metal, her knuckles brushing along the material at the base of her spine. It was the most excruciatingly nerve-wracking thing, having the woman standing behind her, working on a zipper that would cover just a small portion of her bare back.
Santana could feel Brittany's breath on her shoulder as she said, "I think I got it."
It was irrational, but Santana felt her stomach tense inward in a last ditch effort to make this zipper go up and get this whole ordeal over with. She felt the zipper move up the tracks, cinching the material around her body.
"There we go," Brittany glanced up and met Santana's eyes through the mirror. "Can I get these straps?"
Santana nodded and tried to adjust her dress straps into Brittany's reach without revealing too much. She froze all together when Brittany reached around her shoulder and took her wrist in her hand.
"Let me get them."
Santana's breath caught in throat. Brittany's arms moved easily around her, taking her straps with a little more care than needed. She was so close, just a inch behind the shorter girl. Her presence was just as electrifying as actual contact, the thought that if she leaned back just a little, she would be pressing against—
"You really do look pretty Santana," she whispered, focusing on the straps, pulling them carefully over Santana's shoulders. Her thumbs brushed lightly against the skin as she went.
Santana willed her voice to keep from shaking with she said, "Thank you, Britt."
Brittany attached the shoulder straps to the metal ring, then another set that stemmed from the material around her ribcage. Santana was finally secure into her dress.
That should have been the end of it.
But Brittany lingered, there in Santana's presence, her fingers still tucked softly under the final straps. She didn't want to step away. She watched Santana's hands run along the edge of the vanity, her head tipping to the left as she studied the journalist in the mirror. Waiting with calculating eyes for Brittany's next move.
"I feel like..." Brittany struggled to come up with words to describe the feeling in her chest, "I'm letting you down."
Santana's face asked her to continue.
"I know that," she dropped her eyes to a small freckle on Santana's shoulder, then followed the soft arch of her neck, she swallowed thickly, resisting the urge to lean forward and kiss the skin there, "you hate it when the men at the conventions... stare at you. How they," she licked her lips, "want you."
Santana watched Brittany struggle with herself until she met Santana's eyes with a determined expression.
"Can I be honest with you, for a second?"
"I would appreciate it," Santana breathed. She was both hoping for, and dreading Brittany's next words.
What she wasn't expecting, was no words at all.
Santana's felt her entire body tense as Brittany's lips touched her skin, her eyes squeezed shut, her heart flared. The soft skin burned into the crook of her neck, hands taking a gentle hold her either of her biceps. She sucked in a breath, arching onto her toes to somehow get closer to the woman that inspired such a electrifying sensation.
"Britt," Santana let out a shuddering breath and Brittany loved the sound of her name in such a husky tone. A light noise escaped Santana's throat as Brittany's front came into full contact with her back. The soft material of her shirt brushed light against her bare shoulders.
Brittany took a gamble and glanced up at Santana through the mirror.
Her eyes were still closed, her mouth open slightly, the barest line between her eyebrows, as if she was concentrating entirely too hard to keep herself in control. Brittany could feel the heat pouring off of her body, the skin under her lips erupting into a warm flush.
Brittany pulled back slightly, letting her breath wash against the spot on Santana's neck that she had claimed.
With a frantic energy, Santana spun around to face her, pressing against the vanity to get as much distance between them as possible, her hands gripped the edge of the vanity tightly, eyes shifting between Brittany's.
"Brittany I—" she let out a unsteady breath, she felt so naked. Brittany could see how flustered she was, how her breath was shallow, how much she was affected by just a kiss on her shoulder.
Brittany licked her lips, a deep flush spreading over her face. She could barely hold Santana's eyes. She knew this wasn't the most ideal way to do this, with Santana in one of her most vulnerable settings, wearing a dress that embodied the objectification she was constantly subjected to.
"Santana," she took a small breath, steadying herself, "you're so much more than a pretty face, or someone who's really good at computer stuff."
Brittany's hand snaked down her arm, settling on Santana's clenched fist against the counter. She ran thumb over her knuckles until the tension eased and she was able to slip her fingers between Santana's.
"Everyday, you impress me in some little way... just by being yourself, and not a department head, or a poster girl, or whatever..."
Santana blinked rapidly, her eyes falling to their hands, then back to Brittany's eyes. This was happening. Brittany was telling her that she meant something to her. Something more than her body, something more that a title.
"So please, don't think I'm forgetting all of that," she looked at Santana through her eyelashes, their bodies gravitating closer together, "when I act like those men, and can't take my eyes off of you..."
Santana knew what she was doing, leaning forward, lifting herself onto her toes so she could be just a little closer. She was about to kiss this woman, the gorgeous blonde that had her wrapped around her little finger.
Brittany shifted slightly, right at the last second, so their foreheads connected instead of their lips.
A puff of her pout escaped Santana's mouth, and Brittany had to smile.
"As much as I would love to," she pulled back, bringing the Latina's palm to her lips instead, "I would hate to ruin your makeup, and I know you probably wouldn't want anyone asking questions..."
Santana fell back onto her heels, a deep flush on her cheeks, her pulse pounding in her ears. Brittany was right, this wasn't the time. Not here, with her friends watching her every move, with stage hands wandering about, and certainly not in this godforsaken dress.
"You're right..." She gave Brittany's hand a squeeze, thankful that she had thought of their privacy before things got out of hand.
"Come on," Brittany took a step backwards, and Santana followed by the hand, "let's get this thing over with."
Santana thought that was a great idea.