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: 1,824 - Favs: 1,748 - Follows: 2,363 - Updated: 07-31-12 - Published: 12-11-11 - id: 7627238
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN: If you're still along for the ride, thank you. We're probably within ten chapters to the end. Thanks for all the support.
"All these people are idiots."
Brittany was sure Santana hadn't meant that comment to be funny, in fact she probably meant it with every fiber of her being. Still, Brittany couldn't help the smile that came over her face. She dragged her thumb over the words on her phone, wishing that she was with the Latina and knew exactly why she felt that way. She glanced up, across the table Rachel had her nose buried in the third draft.
Technically, it wasn't her third draft, more like... third option. Brittany had written three versions of her story on Santana, each one with different takes on Clockwork as an employer and it's treatment of Santana. Rachel was torn between the second and third versions and Brittany was pretty sure they would end up writing a fourth version that melded the two together.
"Can I step out for a second?"
Rachel looked up, "Of course, Brittany."
"Did you want me to bring you a coffee on my way back?" Brittany offered as she stood from the conference table, making sure to take her notebook with her.
"That would be great, thank you."
Brittany slipped out of the conference room as her fingers were working the keys of her phone, "Do you have time to talk about it?"
Santana's answer came in the form of a phone call and Brittany answered happily, "Hey there."
"Brittany, I have more confidence in your ability to set up the network interface for this exhibition than the people that work here."
"I really don't think that I even know that that means," Brittany laughed, she had an idea, from the conversations she's heard around the COG, but nothing that warranted Santana's confidence in her.
"That's besides the point," Santana huffed. Brittany could hear the clacking of a keyboard in the background and knew she was either in the office of in her lab. "I know you would try. That's all I need these people to do, fucking try. I'm so sick of turning away their half-assed excuses for a solution."
"I would try," Brittany agreed, "for you I would try anything."
The faint pause of keyboard noise was enough to make Brittany picture Santana's blush.
"I miss you."
"I miss you too, Santana," Brittany slumped against the wall of stairwell. She had found this place that morning, in a quest to remind herself of the maintenance hall she shares with Santana. It was reclusive area, tucked into the corner of the building, occupied only by a hand full of employees. She was still amazed, and thankful, that her phone got a signal here.
"How's the editing going?"
"Oh, you know, long boring, full of grammar."
Santana chuckled on the other side on the line, "When do I get to read this thing?"
Brittany felt her stomach knot, "What?"
"You're kidding right?"
"No," Brittany rubbed her face. "I guess, I just never thought about that. It... makes me nervous."
Santana read her work? Brittany couldn't think of anything more daunting than that. She tried to remember the time when she had first met Santana, and was eager for her opinion of the piece she did on the convention. Now, it seemed too big, too personal, too risky. What if Santana doesn't like what she wrote? What if she shared too much? What if she got it all wrong?
"Britt, I think I'm just as nervous about it as you are," Santana admitted honestly, her voice a quiet reassurance, "I really don't have to read it."
"That's not it," Brittany tried to back peddle, "it's not that I don't want you to ready it. I would just be..."
"Upset if I didn't like it?" Santana supplied with an educated guess.
"Totally heart broken," Brittany confirmed softly, feeling vulnerable by just thinking about it.
"I'm entirely too certain that nothing like that is going to happen, because you're an amazing writer, Brittany. The best."
"You're just saying that," Brittany mumbled through her blush.
"Because it's true," Santana said it like it was the final decision on the matter and it gave Brittany a little confidence. "No one can tell me different."
"I—" Brittany fell short when she heard Santana start taking to someone else in the room, her voice muffled but no less authoritative.
"What do you mean you need an extension? I've already given you three."
Who ever Santana was talking to couldn't be heard through the muffled, aspect of the phone call and Brittany assumed the phone was being pressed against the front of Santana's blazer.
"What's today's date?"
"So that means the exhibition is how many days away?"
There was a pause.
"How. Many. Days?"
She wished she was there just to see Santana's face, and the man most certainly trembling in the wake of her stare.
Scratch that, Brittany didn't want to be a part of that drama.
"Don't even try me, Israel, I've given you too many second chances to prove that you're worth something to this company and you have yet to show me any redeeming evidence to that fact. You're fired, pack up your desk and get off my floor."
Brittany waited patiently as Santana used her office phone to tell someone that they were now assigned to Jacob's projects.
"I'm sorry about that," Santana sounded truly regretful about making the blonde wait for her like that, "I just needed to take care of some business."
"Santana, trust me, I understand," Brittany glanced at her watch, "I should let you get back to it, I bet Rachel's wondering if I got lost on my way for coffee."
"You have to bring her coffee?"
"Have to?" Brittany repeated the question, "No, but I offered, yes. Why?"
Santana paused in a moment of embarrassed hesitation, "I don't know, I guess I don't like the idea of you bringing anyone coffee. You're a journalist, not a gofer."
"I used to bring you coffee all the time," Brittany pointed out, the edges of her mouth quirking into a grin, she understood exactly what Santana was trying to say.
"Yeah, but that's different."
"I'm not your boss... and..."
"And I like you," Brittany offered after Santana trailed off.
"Right, that too."
Brittany could almost hear the blush in her voice, "San, you're adorable, but I really have to get back to work, text me, okay?"
"I will," Santana promised.
After their brief goodbyes, Brittany pushed through the thick door of the stairwell and back into the hallway.
"There you are!"
Brittany nearly dropped her phone as Rachel's voice startled her. The brunette was careening down the hall at a faster than brisk pace and for a moment Brittany thought she was about to be fired herself.
"What are you doing in the stairs?" Rachel questioned, stepping close and hushing her voice. "Were you on the roof?"
"No, Rachel, I was just making a phone call," Brittany held up the device like it was evidence and looked over Rachel's frazzled appearance, "What happened?"
"Jesse St. James' office requested us for a meeting in about an hour," Rachel explained, looking at her own phone to double check the time and confirm that they were sure to be late.
"What does he want?" Brittany was dreading the answer. This was it. This was the meeting where the feature would be put on the line. By the end of the day she would know if she was really going to be a published journalist or not.
"They didn't say specifically," Rachel took Brittany by the arm and started moving them towards her office. "This doesn't feel right though, I called Quinn as soon as I got the message and she said she wasn't even told about it. Where you on the phone with Santana?"
"Yeah, she doesn't know either," Brittany was sure it would have come up if she did. "Is Quinn telling her?"
"She was on her way to Santana's office when we got off the phone," Rachel confirmed, closing the door to her own office behind them, jumping onto her computer, and pulling her office phone to her ear, "Hey, could you get me a copy of the original Clockwork contract, along with the timelines, the meeting dates. Thank you so much."
Brittany fell into the chair across from her and tried to fight the urge to vomit. A moment later Rachel's secretary walked in with all the documents organized in a neat little binder, just the way Rachel liked it.
"This is perfect, thank you," Rachel smiled and it was almost believable, her secretary didn't take offense, the air in the room was tense and she knew there was something important happening.
"Is there anything else I can get you Miss Berry?"
"Would you mind calling a cab for me? I have a very pressing meeting and I need to get there as quickly as possible."
"Right away, ma'am."
After Rachel had everything she needed, including a digital copy of Brittany's work, the one that was most likely going to be approved by Jesse St. James, they made the short trip to the Clockwork corporate office. Walking into the lobby had never felt so foreign to Brittany. Suddenly, the men in suits and the security lining the walls could have all been pawns for Jesse St. James and his evil motives, her eyes ran along the security cameras and she couldn't shake the feeling that she was being watched.
"Follow me," this time it was Brittany taking Rachel's elbow as they approached the elevators. She took the puzzled brunette past them and towards the familiar escape of the maintenance hallway.
"Brittany what are we doing here?" Rachel asked, watching her friend dig through her purse, "We never checked in with the security people, I don't have a badge."
"I do," she pulled it out just as they were getting to the service elevator. Thankfully, the card was still active and she was able to punch in the code when the light blinked green. "I don't know why, but I think Jesse is trying to keep us from getting to Santana and Quinn so we wont have their support in this meeting. That's why he didn't tell them about it."
"Better safe than sorry, I suppose," Rachel didn't want to admit how nervous she was about this. She took the moment in the elevator to gather herself, remind herself that even if she was nervous, she was an incredible actress.
Brittany lead the way into, and through, the COG with a familiarity that impressed Rachel. More than a few people greeted her as she passed and Brittany returned their pleasantries in an effort to pretend that this was just another day at Clockwork, nothing horrible was about to happen, she was fine. Santana was fine. Everything was fine.
"Oh, thank goodness," Kurt burst into the main doors of the floor just as Brittany and Rachel made it to Santana's office, "they have security outside the elevators waiting to escort you to the conference room for the meeting, Santana's been trying to call you."
"I must have missed it," Brittany frowned, she didn't bother looking for the missed calls as Kurt opened the office door.
She found Quinn pacing near the windows, phone still to her ear, Santana was at her desk doing the same thing.
"Fuck, Britt," a wave of relief washed over Santana's face as she noticed the newcomers, she was on her feet before the door even had a chance to close. Professional or not, audience or not, she hugged Brittany because it was something she needed at the time. By the way Brittany clung her arms around Santana's shoulders, it was a good assumption that she needed it too. Without pulling away, Santana mumbled into Brittany's blouse, "Why didn't you pick up your phone?"
"I think I left it on Rachel's desk," Brittany admitted, her tone bordering on ashamed, "I'm so sorry."
"Don't worry about it," Santana coaxed gently, "I'm just glad that Jesse's goons didn't get you at the door."
"What's up with that?" Brittany pulled back, asking Santana and Quinn, whoever knew. "What's going on? Since when do we need to be escorted to the conference room?"
"Rachel is Sunshine still in the building?" Santana inquired seriously, and with one last squeeze of Brittany's arm she moved back to her desk to finish whatever kind of preparations she could for this meetings.
"No," Rachel glanced between Quinn and Santana, "I took her out the day Brittany confronted me about it. We had what we needed anyway, so there was no point in causing much more of a fuss."
"I don't think we've even started to hear a fuss."
Jesse St. James looked around the conference table; on his left sat Santana and Quinn, to his right, Rachel and Brittany. None of them looked particularly pleased to be there. The set up was hinting at ominous, the wall of windows that looked out onto the marketing floor had their blinds drawn tightly, Kurt had been asked to leave, there were complimentary water bottles set and waiting for each woman.
"You ladies certainly have been getting to know each other, haven't you?"
"Yes," Rachel spoke amicably, ever the actress, "I think we've all become a great working team."
"Speaking of work," Santana cut in shortly, she was leaning forward in her seat, her elbows on the table, hands clasped in front of her face. If her posture didn't give away her agitation, the look in her eyes sure would. "I still have a lot of it, with the expo this month, so if we could just get to the point, that would be great."
Jesse met her eyes and Santana forced herself to keep his. She wouldn't look away, her pride depended on it.
"You're right, Miss Lopez," his tone was sickeningly sweet as he glanced to the laptop set up in front of him at the head of the table. "I just wanted to get everyone together and go over this little project, before we go any further in the matter."
"The final editing underway, a copy will be submitted to myself and Santana for approval in two days time," Quinn tapped a ballpoint pen against her palm methodically, "we plan on submitting it for publishing within the week."
"It should hit stands a in time to create a nice buzz for your exhibition," Rachel added, "as planned."
"I think my final approval was also in that plan," he questioned as if he might even be wrong about it, "wasn't it?"
"I was under the impression that I would be taking control of this," Quinn said it nearly conversationally, but Santana could pick up on her threateningly possessive undertone, "since I'm already responsible for Santana's means of publicity."
"Miss Fabray, lets not get ahead of ourselves," he laughed softly, condescendingly, "you were hired to be Miss Lopez's keeper. You make sure she dolls up nice and you put her on display. You are not in charge of anything but keeping Miss Lopez in check, because she's more easily controlled by a woman."
The air in the room stilled. Brittany watched Santana's nostrils flair in a small show of barely contained rage, Quinn's pen had stopped against her skin.
"I'd hardly consider that accurate," Rachel was a little surprised at how quickly Jesse turned off his professional manner.
"Accurate," Jesse pulled a inquisitive face, "and what would you consider accurate? Miss Berry?"
No one liked where this was going. Brittany shifted in her chair, trying to catch Santana's eye, but the woman wouldn't look away from Jesse.
"Quinn Fabray," he spoke slowly, as a teacher would when reading a sentence aloud to kindergarteners, "is conspiring against me, for example," he looked at Quinn, "would you consider that accurate?"
"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about," Quinn said evenly.
"Funny how you would say that, Quinn," he leaned back in his chair, crossing his legs regally, "seeing as you're the one that's trying to get me fired."
"It's not like you wouldn't deserve it," Santana glared from beside her friend. "Your corrupted ass should have been out of here years ago."
"Perhaps," a small smile came over his face, "but I wouldn't be where I am today if I let a little thing like ethics get in my way."
"Mr. St. James," Rachel started packing her things, "when you asked us to a meeting I didn't think it would involve petty mudslinging. Miss Pierce and I will be much more inclined to continue business with you in a more professional climate."
He laughed, the sound bouncing harshly around the room, each time more gritting than the next.
"You wouldn't know anything about that, would you Miss Berry?"
"I certainly would not," Rachel stood from her chair, and Brittany was almost prompted to do the same, only she didn't want to leave Santana in this room with him.
"And releasing details of Harmony Gerber's relations with..." Jesse watched Rachel freeze, "a number of respectable Broadway producers, that's not mudslinging?"
"The Lead has never published anything against Harmony or her reputation," Rachel's voice was very definitive, but her eyes gave her surprise away.
"No, your publication hasn't," Jesse acknowledged that as truth, "but that doesn't change the fact that your pillow talk with Harmony Gerber became the next big tabloid cover story shortly after your break up."
"St. James," Quinn's warning tone wasn't missed.
He continued without a care, "It's quite heartless to throw out someone's business like that."
"That's a blatant lie and bordering on slander, St. James," Quinn didn't know if it was true. She tried to ignore the flash of guilt in Rachel's eyes and the turning sensation in her stomach that told her it might be.
Rachel's voice hardened, "You have no proof that I was the one that leaked that information."
"I don't," Jesse shrugged, "but it is rather convenient timing, and since you are already so well versed in sleeping with producers for the chance to land a role, I thought that you would know exactly what to look for."
"How dare you," Quinn sat up in her chair, and if it weren't for Santana's hand on her forearm she would have been out of it.
"This is insane," Santana was fighting too keep herself from yelling, "you can't just dig around in people's lives like a depraved sicko. You can't just fuck with people like this."
"Oh, I think Miss Berry is the one fucking people," Jesse touched his laptop and the presentation screen at the far end of the conference room sprang to life. It was a casual photo, of a younger Rachel and an ungracefully older man. They were sitting close in a booth at a restaurant, his arm around her waist.
"Robert Palino," Jesse explained, "you auditioned for his budding musical before you broke your arm."
"How did you get that—"
"Funny what people will do for money after their shows flop and they're desperate," Jesse almost laughed, "Palino was happy to make a few bucks."
"I did not sleep with him for my part!" Rachel pointed from the picture to herself, "I earned it with my audition."
"I'm sure that's exactly what you did with Joseph, here too."
Another picture of Rachel and an older man appeared on the screen, it was another situation with an older gentleman that looked a little too much like a date.
"If I was sleeping with them for a spot in their show I would hardly expect them to have the decency to take me to dinner first," Rachel reasoned desperately, hating the fact that Quinn was listening to this. These photos, pictures she might have seen in tabloids years ago, were being skewed into something they weren't.
"Rachel, you don't have to defend yourself," Quinn spoke through her teeth, and was still only being grounded by Santana's hand.
"No, no," Jesse chuckled dryly, "don't defend yourself, I'm sure the tabloids will love to hear about how a failed Broadway actress has been so bitter about an ex-girlfriend's success that she set out to ruin her reputation. The Lead's growing credibility would be sure survive a hit like that. Not to mention how kindly your avid Broadway readers will respond to the truth about the owner of this magazine."
"What the hell is this about?" Rachel turned to Jesse sharply, "what's the reason behind all of this?"
"You sent a journalist into this company for the sole purpose of gathering dirt on me," Jesse smiled kindly, "little did you know, you were only digging your own grave. While you girls were getting to know each other, I was getting to know you."
"And where the fuck is your proof of that?" Santana asked brazenly.
"It's amazing what people will keep to themselves when the have incentive to do so," Jesse's beady eyes trained on Santana, the amused glint in them was disgusting. "Poor Jacob Ben Israel was keeping an overheard conversation between Miss Pierce and Miss Corazon to himself, because he was worried that you would fire him if he didn't."
Santana's stomach bottomed out.
"Good thing you fired him anyway and he no longer had a reason to hold onto that juicy tidbit of information, but don't worry, you're not the only one throwing disgruntled former employees into the mix," he shifted his focus to Rachel and Brittany. "I received a curious email the other night, pertaining to Miss Pierce the legality of her employment at your publication, Miss Berry."
Santana's blood ran cold. The last thing she wanted was Brittany's business to be thrown out there like Rachel's had, "Brittany Pierce has absolutely nothing to do with the other journalist in Clockwork, she didn't know anything about it. I don't know what the fuck you're trying to pull."
"So she's completely innocent?" Jesse asked, amused at Santana's outburst.
Every muscle in Satnana's body tensed, he had something on her. Brittany seemed to know it was coming too, because she took a steadying breath and just waited. Santana knew there was nothing she could do short of destroying his laptop, but he was already reaching for it as she stood.
"Does this face look innocent to you?"
The next photo was a little more straight forward than a dinner scene that may have romantic intentions. It was an official identification photo of Brittany, holding a black and white sign reading, ID # 27343, Brittany S. Pierce, Chester County Police Department, and very unflattering.
"Brittany!" Rachel brought the hand to her mouth in a dumbfounded manner as she sunk back into her chair. "Is that a... mugshot?"
The black and white quality didn't take away from the large cut on her bottom lip or the darkened bruise around her left eye. Santana's heart throbbed helplessly. She her fists clutched tightly at her sides, she wanted to take Quinn's pen out of her hand and stab it through Jesse St. James' eye socket.
"Shit," Brittany kept her eyes on the ceiling because she didn't want to see Rachel's or Santana's faces.
"By your surprise," Jesse chuckled, "I'm sure it's safe to assume you didn't know you had a felon working for you?"
"Actually, they brought it down to a misdemeanor," Brittany found her voice, impressing herself by keeping it level. "So get your facts right."
"I did notice that in your record," Jesse nodded, nearly genuinely impressed. "I found it surprising, considering the nature of the arrest. Why don't you tell the class what you were arrested for, Miss Pierce."
Santana was the one being held down this time, "That's none of your fucking business you fucking—"
"Possession of marijuana," Brittany met Jesse's eyes for the first time since she entered the room.
"With? Come on, you know there's more."
Brittany just stared at him, she had never know a human to be so incredibly vindictive. She knew he was going to say it if she didn't, so she might as well fess up to her sins, "With intent to distribute."
"The Lead is quite the establishment," Jesse smiled at them, "harlots employing drug dealers."
Santana was muttering something in Spanish under her breath as Quinn pulled her slowly back into her seat.
"I was seventeen years old, you asshole," Brittany grumbled keeping her hands still to make sure she didn't flinch. She didn't want to give this guy the satisfaction of getting under her skin.
"You were twenty six years old when you first failed a urinalysis at The Lead," Jesse shrugged tapping his shoulders and clicked to the next photo. It was a digital copy of the drug screening results that were sent to the company after a testing.
"That's a confidential document," Rachel looked furious. "How did you get that?"
"Like I said, it was emailed to me by an employee you fired recently, can't recall his name, but I'm sure you can. I've always found that people with habits such as this one run out of luck eventually, so I looked into Miss Pierce's criminal record and sure enough..."
"So what do you want?" Quinn muttered. Her eyes narrowed and the pen in her hand straining under her grip. "Do you want a copy of the feature? Is that what this is? A way for you to remind us that you call the shots? Are you going to sit here and embarrassing us before you scratch the whole thing? Well congratulations, we all know you wear big boy pants."
"Big boy pants..." Jesse considered the words slowly, "what an... oddly maternal thing to say."
Quinn's hand, still on Santana's arm, grip tightened tenfold. Santana pointed threateningly across the table at him, "I swear to god—"
The next picture on the screen wasn't shocking at all. A blonde and beautiful little girl, sitting on a bench in a park, all dressed up in her softball uniform and looking mighty proud of herself.
"Take it off the screen," Santana hit her palm onto the table surface with a harsh slap, "take it off right now!
Quinn could feel three pairs of eyes staring into her skull, but all she could see was her daughter's face on the screen. A cold sense of dread filled her body, and Quinn was barely able to keep her voice from shaking when she asked, "How did you get a photo of her?"
"This photo is actually a matter of public record, published in a local newspaper about the spring little league playoffs," Jesse explained casually. "Her name on your life insurance policy was the connecting factor."
Santana took a sharp breath through her nose, "That's a twelve year old child and you have no rights to that picture you sick pervert."
"Twelve years old, so that must mean you were... how old, when you had her?"
Everyone could do the math in their head, Quinn had been sixteen years old when the child on the screen was born.
"Oh, Quinn," Rachel's soft voice floated through the conference room and Quinn wished she could crawl into a hole. To maintain any sort of dignity she had against St. James, she threw on her coldest mindset, the only one that knew how close she was to breaking down was best friend, who was sure to have a bruise on her forearm for how tightly she was gripping it.
"So I got knocked up in high school," Quinn was waiting for the punchline, "you can't ruin my career over that."
"Your career, probably not," Jesse shrugged like it was no big deal, "but I could probably ruin your summer plans."
Quinn's eyes narrowed ever so slightly, unsure of his meaning.
"Isn't it true that ever summer you act as a counselor at a youth ministries camp in Vermont?" Jesse pulled up another photo, Quinn with a gathering of teenage girls in camp tee shirts. She knew that photo had been posted on the camp's informational website. "I would hardly expect such a devout Christian group to welcome you back with open arms if any of them became aware of this smudge on your sterling reputation."
"That's bullshit," Quinn scoffed, "they don't care about my past, only about the work I do with the girls now."
"Then you wouldn't mind me bringing this to their attention now would you," Jesse called her bluff. "It's just hard for me to think that a organization with such a strong values on celibacy would favor someone like yourself."
Quinn's jaw tightened, even if her fellow counselors would be able to overlook that point in her life, it didn't guarantee that everyone in the organization, the predominantly conservative owners of the camp would see it the same way.
Santana started standing up again, "I'm going to the fucking ethics board right now getting your ass fired. This is ridiculous, St. James, fucking ridiculous."
"Ah, ethics," Jesse tapped his laptop again, "Miss Lopez, I've been protecting you from the board of ethics ever since your first year at Clockwork."
She saw it appear on the projector. A copy of the sexual harassment complaint that had been filed against her. It made her skin crawl, and she looked at Brittany for a brief moment, only long enough to see the complete disbelief on her features.
Turning slowly to her tormentor, Santana growled her only hope at a defense, "That was entrapment and you know it."
"I do," he nodded happily, clasping his hands together sarcastically, "in fact, I paid her to flirt her way into your heart. All I had to do was sit back and wait for you to make a move."
She had always thought it was entrapment, she had always hoped it was entrapment so she wouldn't have been responsible for something like that, she had told herself it was entrapment so she could sleep better at night. Never, had he come out and admitted it though.
Of course, it made sense, by the way Jesse had swooped in and gave her the perfect way to make it all go away, there was no way she would have been able to keep her recent promotion to Head of IT if that had got out. The acknowledgment of his part in manipulating her emotions to gain the upper hand on her career was just as infuriating as her situation with Artie. An incredibly hot swell of rage rushed through her.
"It did take a little longer than I expected, and countless times she came back to me telling me all about how you were so respectful, so intent on keeping things professional, so focused on your career—"
She was sure her body was shaking. She was so very sick of being manipulated, trapped, deceived. Everything in her life was one dirty little secret after another and she's had enough of it.
"Then of course," Jesse snapped his fingers as if he just remembered the best part, "I suspect the reason you weren't so willing to be in a relationship was because you had just been publicly humiliated at UCLA, and you ran off to Berkeley with you tail between your legs, didn't you?"
Jesse gave Santana a pitting smile that made her want to throw up.
"You don't know shit about it—"
"I know this," the mirth in his eyes was devilish as he touched his laptop one last time.
Santana didn't need to see the screen, or hear Rachel's shocked outcry, or Quinn's pen finally snap, to know what was on the screen. She wished Brittany wasn't being subjected to it a second time.
"With this, and the sexual harassment charge," his voice lost the condescending, sickeningly, sweet tone he had been pushing out through this whole thing. He wasn't playing around anymore. He was being ruthless, "I will destroy any chance of you getting a job anywhere in this country. And making it on your own? Please. I can see the gears turn in your head sometimes, Santana, the dreams whisper behind your eyes. You wish you could make it on your own, maybe, be your own boss? But honestly, what person in their right mind would invest in Clockwork's sloppy seconds? You're just a worn out showgirl, nothing but a pretty face."
Santana took a deep, ominous breath. Brittany watched her shoulder's square, and her eyes narrow.
"You know what Jesse?" she took a step back towards her seat. "You're right. I have a pretty face, and in this pretty little head of mine, I have a brain that I'm pretty sure, works at two times the capacity yours does. Now I'm not trying to say you're an idiot, because it takes some kind of skill to be as conniving and heartless as you are, but there are a few things you forgot to factor into all of this."
"What's that?" he leaned forward in his chair, darkly curious.
"First," she sat I her chair and picked up her forgotten tablet, flipping over the cover easily, "is that Rachel's mole, dug up a few things about you."
He rose his eyebrows in question, clasping his fingers together to hide his mouth behind his hands.
"Let's just see what we got here," she worked quickly, overriding his control of the projection display, and soon the image of her and Artie disappeared and was replaced with more digital copies of scanned documents, "do you know what these are?"
Jesse didn't answer, his eyes squinting to make out the tiny words on the screen.
"They're official travel documents, vouchers, rental car statements," Santana flipped through the pages, starting slowly then speeding up to show just how many there were. "The odd part is," she paused, turning in her chair to give Jesse a sarcastic frown and a taste of his own condescending attitude, "None of them are authorized."
"That's a mistake—"
"You cited that you were in Miami for a marketing conference with leading executives in our field yet, there was no venue of the sort that weekend. And in Chicago, three night stay in a ritzy suite for an advertising workshop that never happened."
Jesse kept quiet, watching the pages flip, the numbers add up.
Santana kept scrolling, "Las Vegas, a week long seminar on managing marketing techniques for directors and executives. Never fucking happened."
"I've been taking advantage of the company travel plan," Jesse's fists hit the table with a dull thud. "I have so many of the higher executives wrapped around my fingers that I couldn't even imagine anything coming from this."
She stopped, keeping her eyes on her tablet, "I know."
"So you have nothing."
Quinn, Rachel, and Brittany all slumped simultaneously in their seats.
"That's where you're wrong again," Santana lifted her eyes to meet his, "the second way you slipped up—you underestimated my talents with a computer."
It was with great pleasure that she watched a bead of sweat roll down his forehead.
"At first I was pissed," Santana admitted, "you're a manipulating dog that got to ride around for free on the company dime, taking nice vacations while the rest of us worked ourselves to the bone to keep this company in the running as a market competitor."
Jesse watched Santana's finger's ran along her tablet's screen, hesitating but for a moment, "Then I thought to myself, where is he going all the time? Surely traveling alone isn't that much fun?"
He paled as his hands turned red from clenching them so tightly.
"But, of course," she finally pressed in the final command and the next picture on the screen was just as scandalous as her own, "you weren't alone, were you? Each city was a different hook up, and look, it seems that we both suck cock."
"That's disgusting," Quinn mumbled into the back of her hand. The women across for her gave curt nods and looked away to keep the image from scaring into their memory forever.
"Good thing everyone just loves to take pictures on their vacations," Santana mused dryly. "So, let me think about what might happen if this starts circling around that stingy old boy's club you have going with the executives."
Inside she hated what she was doing. Even the threat of using a man's sexual orientation against him was disgusting in her book, and by his green pallor, Jesse was no where near ready to come out of the closet.
"I wouldn't," Santana admitted coldly. "Nothing about this sits in me the right way. It's fucking vile and I hate even thinking about how I hacked into your fucking computer and rummaged through your personal files, photos, and videos, to find something I can use against you. I find this more demeaning to my character than sucking off that asshole, because at least then I was the fucking victim."
"Then why are you doing this?" Jesse's voice shook, "if you're so much better than it?"
"Because you don't want to play nice," Santana took the picture off the screen, "and I'm sick of playing all together."
He stared at her, unsure of what was going to happen next.
"You're going to destroy all the shit you have on the women in this room," Santana stood from her seat, marching sternly up to the department head. "Because if you don't, you're going down with us."
"How can I trust you?"
"You can't," Santana told him flatly, "but you can trust that I'm not going to rest until I've scoured every inch of data on any computer you've ever hooked up to the internet, and if I find... a fucking trace..."
Jesse shook his head, eyes falling to the table top.
"And we're running the feature with your approval or not."
He nodded this time.
"And I'm done being IT Barbie."
Santana turned on her heel, scooping up her tablet, and grabbing a stunned Quinn's arm to pull her out of the chair. The action was enough to prompt Brittany and Rachel to do the same. Together they left the conference room, none of them walking with a more dignified stride than Santana.