She comes in every Tuesday night. Sometimes around ten, sometimes closer to eleven, but always there. Tuesday nights are when I perform, and every Tuesday night, she is sitting in the booth closest to my end of the stage, legs crossed daintily. She's small, a brunette with a fondness for argyle and a tendency to blush furiously when the routine becomes a little more risqué, which is quite often. Nevertheless, she watches intently, her deep brown eyes following the bend of my leg around the pole, the lines that my fingers paint in the air, and on nights when she's feeling a little more daring, the curve of my breasts. It's hard to make out her face; the lights are too bright and the darkness too concealing. But every Tuesday night, our eyes meet.
I've been meaning to talk to her. I really have. Every Tuesday night, I fumble with my clothes, desperate to change one minute quicker than last week. I rush out of the dressing room with my shirt barely buttoned, only to find the booth empty. Catcalls fill my ears and I finish buttoning my shirt hastily. Once upon a time, I might have taken the shirt off and bathed in the attention, but that part of me is long gone. I have been working here for five years now and each night is one day closer to the one when I will be deemed too old to continue. But until then, I have my body, sparkling personality, and questionable sense of humor.
I know I'm high maintenance. The kindest word to describe me would be abrasive. I speak my mind in the cruelest ways imaginable, have little to no visible sense of compassion, and am intensely territorial with a taste for revenge. I don't always mean everything I say, but the greater purpose is to keep an air of intimidation and power around me. A therapist will tell you it is because I feel like I have no power in my life situation. They'd probably be correct, but hell if I'll ever admit it. My process works. I use my influence to maintain control over those around me, an umbrella of safety for those who have had the balls to push through my walls and gain my trust. The number of people who have done so is embarrassingly small, but it could be worse. That's my mantra nowadays: It could be worse. It could be Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. But today is Tuesday, and I have a plan.
I won't be dancing tonight. Through a lethal combination of blackmail and seduction, I've convinced the new girl to take my shift. I'm wearing a plain white tee with jeans, because nowadays, dressing up means dressing like you're worth something. I smooth the fabric over my stomach, sitting in her booth. This Tuesday night, I'm going to talk to her.
She comes in a little after ten, the argyle making an appearance on her socks. I watch her approach, not-so-subtly appreciating the high cut on her skirt and halfway-buttoned dress shirt. The naughty schoolgirl look has always been a weakness of mine, so it looks like Tuesday is my kind of girl. (I don't know what else to call her.) The darkness and her constant looks of confusion at a stage that I am not standing on mask my presence. She slides into the booth, finally looking over at me. Our eyes meet.
It's her. Manhands. Hobbit. The Nose. Midget. I can't even remember the full list because she is smiling. A flood of nausea overwhelms my senses. She is smiling and I can barely contain my urge to vomit.
"Fuck you," I manage to get out, shock still wrapped around my tongue. My rage has me dying to throw her pathetically-sized body across the room and spit in her face. But I need this job.
"Is this what you do now? Come to gloat over the fact that yes, once again, Rachel Berry was correct and Santana Lopez is a disgusting little slut who will never find a job except one working on a pole? Well congratulations. You won. I lost. The high school pyramid of power is over. I'm just a whore, slutting it up for rent and Top Ramen and you're probably some bigshot on Broadway. You fucking win. Let me buy you a big fucking trophy. But this, this is bullshit. I took you for a lot of things, Rachel. Obnoxious, over-ambitious, selfish, and wildly misguided about the lack of sexual appeal in the tumor you call a nose. But I never thought you were cruel. But laugh it up. Laugh your fucking ass off. Karma's a bitch, right?"
My hands swipe at my wet cheeks as I stumble out of the booth and run for the dressing rooms, chest heaving. All the doors are closed. I knock furiously, palm slamming against each door repeatedly. But nobody emerges. Instead, I get angry retorts. So I run.
I lock myself into a bathroom stall, certain that the entire club can hear my sobs. But at this point, there isn't much I can do about it. So I cry and pretend not to hear the quiet footsteps that enter the bathroom. They stop outside every stall, presumably looking for the heels that I wasn't able to give up. Toilet paper scratches my face as I try to breathe, adamant that I will not let her see the full extent of my reaction.
She knocks softly, the tentative nature of the sound only intensifying my headache.
"I already said you win. Take your victory and just…leave." My voice is barely audible, breaking every other word. Shame replaces my anger, swallowing any wish to tear her apart with my words.
"Santana, I believe you've misunderstood my intentions." Her voice lacks its usual blaring quality, but her choice in vocabulary is much the same. I almost smile, but shake my head instead.
"Just leave, Rachel. I get it. You wanted me to understand what I did to you in high school. Mission accomplished. Now just go." I take a shaky breath, attempting to gather myself together.
"No. You will kindly exit this stall and have a logical conversation with me like an adult. I will not allow you to suppress this misunderstanding due to your inability to have even a hint of trust towards any individual besides yourself."
I can't see her, but I know she's crossed her arms and is wearing her signature expression of determined frustration. The image is mildly amusing and to be honest, I am desperate for any explanation other than the one I have written in. The shame is making me choke. So I unlock the door and step outside, my eyes firmly planted on the floor as if that will disguise the streaks of makeup on my face.
She places a hand on my arm and my eyes immediately flash to her face as I step away, eyeing her warily. Paranoia is surging through my body, convincing me that this is a setup. But like many of my other emotions, I suppress it. Mostly out of spite towards her calling me out on my lack of trust, but she'll take what she can get. Her eyes flicker over my face, taking in my disheveled appearance. I notice concern sneaking into the corner of her eyes and avoid her gaze, not wanting sympathy. She nods silently, understanding.
"Santana, my motivations are far from mocking you," she begins, her voice fading away.
"Then, what are they?" My eyes narrow, unsure of where she is going with this.
"I, um. Well, I mean obviously, um, everyone has well, um, urges. And I am no exception so, I mean, you, well…I mean, and you're very pretty and I um, enjoy your performance technique because well, it's quite um, flawless and I find myself, well, um, unable to stop watching because uh, you, well you always look at me, and well…" I watch her carefully as she trips over her words, clarity forming inside my head. My arms uncross, falling to my sides while she speaks. She fumbles with the edge of her skirt, probably flailing for a way to phrase her reasons for being at a strip club without sounding vulgar or hopelessly romanticizing the pole dancer she watches every week. The blush I know all too well is darkening her already-pink cheeks, proving my suspicions. She looks up at me, her eyes wide, begging me not to make her say it.
I pause for a second, then step forward and sweep her to me with one arm, pressing my lips against hers firmly. She whimpers against my lips, her body folding into mine as she returns the kiss with more force than I expected. Her fingers tiptoe around my neck, holding tightly. The gesture is oddly intimate, something that should be making me want to pull away and call security to eject her. But instead, I find myself moaning at her touch, meeting her tongue with my own and tasting. She tastes of coffee and sheet music, and although I am not sure how I came to the second conclusion, I am certain of it.
I feel her fingers trembling cautiously at the hem of my shirt, tracing the edge of my jeans, an unspoken question. It's the first time anyone has ever asked and while I have never been unwilling, the moment sneaks into a corner of my heart and takes up permanent residence. I pull away from our kiss, the center of our foreheads and tips of our noses pressing together. I nod, smiling crookedly.
She curls her fingers around the hem of my shirt and looks me in the eyes as she pulls it off. Her eyes flicker down to the shirt and for a second, I'm afraid she's going to fold it, but she sets it on the sink top carefully before turning back to me. I pull her into my arms, rapidly becoming very attached to the way her small body fits so neatly into mine. She smiles, standing on her tiptoes to kiss me lightly before unbuttoning her shirt. I watch, mesmerized as a barely-there lace bra appears.
"Damn, that's hot, Rachel, I would've thought-" She cuts me off with her lips and smirks. Clearly, she is picking up on my style and I can't say it isn't sexy.
"I've changed, too, Santana," she whispers in my ear, kissing my cheek and sliding her shirt off, setting it on top of mine. She leans up against the counter, only a hint of shyness in her eyes as I step closer, taking in the view. My eyes never leave her body as she reaches behind her back, unclasping her bra and letting it drop. I close the distance between us, reaching out. My hands ghost over her breasts and caress her firm abs, exploring the body that she kept so carefully hidden all those years ago. I connect our mouths in a tender kiss, suddenly needing more than pure lust can give me. Somehow, I trust her to be that for me.
She places her hands on top of mine, warmth spreading through my body. I am unsure whether the warmth is physical or something a little deeper, but it is a pleasant confusion. She senses my hesitation and guides my hands back up towards her breasts, my fingers obediently playing with her hardened nipples. She gasps softly and arches into my touch. I feel a shiver run through her body and look up just in time to catch her biting her lip. Maybe it's the insanity of our situation, but for a second, she is the most delicately beautiful thing I've ever had the honor of laying eyes upon.
Her lips slide across my cheek and move downwards, beginning to press a trail of kisses in my neck. My mind is reeling as she opens her mouth slightly, wholly at the mercy of the heat that is building between my legs. Her tongue moves in small circles on my neck, making its way downwards. I sense her fingers at the center of my back. She pulls my bra off easily, the palms of her hands brushing against the sides of my breasts. I am amazed by how sensitive I am to the way she touches me and roll my hips into hers, wanting. She reaches out and hooks her index finger into the front of my jeans, pulling at it gently. We kiss again, and I am so overwhelmed with want that I hardly notice her fingers toying with the button on my jeans.
"Now before we get further into this sexual liaison and our hormones overtake our better judgment, I would like to request permission to-" I stop her with another gentle kiss, nodding again. She looks a bit startled at having been denied her overly complicated sentence structure but warms to the interruption, pressing her lips into the crook of my neck. I smile and wrap my arms around her, lifting her up onto the counter. My hands slide underneath her skirt and up her smooth thighs. I tug at her panties, pulling them down and off. I add them to the pile of clothes next to her and feel myself being pulled in as she wraps her legs around me.
Her fingers make an easy job of my jeans, unzipping the fly and tugging them down just enough for her to push her hand inside my panties. I whimper, pressing into her hand as it spreads my folds, encouraging me to shift my feet wider apart. Her lips pull away from my neck and frown. She laughs softly, kissing the tip of my nose and grabbing my hand, guiding it down to cup her sex. My fingers find her dripping, more than ready for me, but I wonder if she has ever done this before. I look into her eyes, questioning. She blushes and nods.
I smile and claim her lips, two fingers pushing inside her. She gasps instantly, legs clamping down around my waist and thrusting her hips forward, forcing me deeper. I begin working my fingers inside her, curling them gently at first, but soon more roughly as the hot breath on my neck begs for more. She plays with my clit idly, testing my ability to stay standing. My job has given me strong legs and I squeeze her hip tightly with my other hand, urging her on. She understands and thrusts inside me, strong fingers bringing my higher. We find a rhythm between thrusting and moaning and once again, I am sure the entire club can hear me.
She throws her head back in pleasure, a few strands of hair sticking to her sweaty forehead. I reach out, brushing them to the side. Much of myself is occupied with the fact that she has added a third finger and I am reaching my climax very quickly. But the rest of me is watching the ecstasy spread across her lips as she rolls her hips forwards into my hand. I am both afraid that I will break her and more than aroused to be the cause of her whimpers. She cants forwards suddenly, her free arm gripping the back of my neck tightly as she shudders, fingers pushing deeper inside me as she comes. The sight of her coming undone tips me over the edge and I fly.
We cling to one another, foreheads pressed together and breathing heavy. Our eyes meet. I see not Rachel Berry, not the mystery brunette, but someone else entirely. I see a girl with gentle fingers and eyes that kiss the curves of my body. I see hesitation and a breathless determination to push past it. I see careful intelligence and insecurity sneaking into the way she presses her palm against my cheek. I see a smile as I turn my head to kiss her open palm.
"Santana, all those nights when you looked at me…" She looks down, eyelashes hardly disguising the fear in her voice.
"I needed to know who you were," I whisper softly. She nods and lifts her head. Our eyes meet.
"Now you know." Her hand drifts down my neck to press against my heart. I place my hand on top of hers and breathe.
"Tell me more."