AU Brittana with a hint of Faberry.
"...as you can see the new interface systems will work much more efficiently..."
They weren't listening to a word she was saying and Santana knew it. She knew it by the way their eyes glassed over and they vacant nods they would offer at times, leaning to each other and whispering snide comments, earning a smirks and grins from the guys next to them.
"...The design has been a few years in the making, the IT team at Clockwork and myself have been working on integrating it flawlessly with an upgrade to our older models without too much customer hassle..."
A few of them were openly leering at her, eyes roaming, they hadn't once looked at the display for the new IT model, not once. She wanted to scream. She wanted to take her years worth of computer programing and circuit mapping and smash it over the creeps heads. She was nothing but a pretty face to them, nothing but a fantasy.
That was her sell, or "Gimick" as the guys in marketing told her, she was what they were looking for to cater to a certain demographic. The 15-35 year old computer nerd demographic who could never get a date, let alone talk to a girl in person. So they found a beautiful woman to draw these people to their products, no need to mention her prestigious degrees in computer science, information technology, and computerized robotics and engineering, no none of that mattered. All that mattered to them was that she looked nice for the shows, smiled, and talked about their products.
No one believed that she was actually apart of the IT team, hell, she lead the IT Department, but the general consensus was that it was just for show. They thought she was just fed lines to read off to cameras at conventions, but she knew it all by heart. She could do it in her sleep, but all people saw was a pretty face.
Sometimes she believed it too.
They called her IT Barbie, and that pissed her off more than anything because she wasn't tall, blonde, or even white. She wasn't a ditz, and she sure as hell had more attitude than Barbie. It was a nickname one of her competitors had started using when her IT systems became more popular than theirs last season. The name stuck and now it was all over the industry. One of their marketing guys had suggested she roll with it an dye her hair.
She punched him in the face.
After that she was assigned a handler, a Miss Quinn Fabray. She handled her schedule, PR, and acted as a middle man between Corporate Marketing and Santana Lopez, Head of the IT Department of Technology.
"...We are hoping to get these models out on the market this season. Are their any questions?"
No. There were never any questions, how could there be questions when they hadn't listened to a thing she said. She played absently with a pen behind her back, a nervous habit she had when she was talking in public.
"Miss Lopez," a short little man spoke up. He reminded her of a hobbit, short and squat and needing a shower. "Is it true that you are going to be posing for Maxim this spring?"
The pen she was holding behind her back snapped in half, the only one to notice was Quinn who was at her side in an instant, a firm grip on the Latina's elbow.
"Santana we need you in the back," she offered the group a sweet smile, "technical difficulties."
They laughed, thinking it was a joke. A joke on her, as if she would ever be able to actually help with things like that. She conceded to Quinn's insistent tug on her elbow, and followed her into the back area reserved for members of the companies showing products on the floor. They found their reserved cubical and Quinn had Santana sit in a chair, telling her she would be right back. Santana was glad for her absence, she let out a shaky breath she hadn't known she was holding.
She needed to calm down and to keep herself from showing how much this was actually bothering her. And not in a 'I'm going to punch someone kind of way,' more like a 'this makes me feel so bad about myself, I just might cry,' sort of thing. She threw her broken pen across the cubical and pushed all the bad feelings down, it was nothing, that hobbit was nothing. He didn't know her, what she was capable of, he doesn't matter. None of it matters. Moments later Quinn returned, offering her friend a cold bottle of water.
"Why did he say that?" Santana worked the cap off and took a sip. She was glad that her voice came across as annoyed and nothing gave away her near meltdown.
"Say that crap about Maxim?" Quinn leaned on a table, crossing her arms over her chest and shrugged. "It's just wishful thinking."
"You mean corporate isn't trying to push me into becoming IT Barbie Swimsuit Addition?" Santana eyed the blonde in front of her.
Quinn was smart, she knew how to play the game, she knew how to get people to do things she wanted, and she also knew Santana, better than anyone. They had known each other since high school, went to the same college, moved to the city together, and when Santana had hit it off in IT Department at Clockwork Technologies, Quinn applied for a Human Resources position. Santana's hassle with the marketing people made hiring Quinn that much easier after Santana told them that she would quit if they didn't.
"Well, Jesse might have said something about it," Quinn studied her nails so she wouldn't have to look at Santana's glare, "but it was in passing, a joke, no one would ever ask you to do that."
"Quinn why didn't you tell me?" Santana was careful to keep her voice down. The cubicle was hardly soundproof, it didn't even have a door, and she didn't want this conversation getting picked up by and idiots down at marketing or, even worse, her competitors.
"Because its not something he's interested in pushing on you," Quinn explained with a stern voice. "He can't ask you to do it, it's in your contract remember? You had me put that in exclusively, you even gave me a list of magazines you wouldn't work with and Maxim is on it."
"He can't ask me outright, but if this gets too big a buzz I could get strong armed into doing it 'for the fans,'" Santana made quotation marks with her fingers sarcastically. "You know they pull that shit all the time."
"I know," Quinn held out her hands, admitting Santana had a point was the first way to make her calm down, "but I've been playing damage control all day, trust me on this Santana."
They eyed each other before Santana yielded and leaned back in her chair. "Fine. And thanks for getting me away from that dwarf, I was about to stab him in the face."
Quinn snorted lightly through her nose, rolling her eyes, "I saw. I almost let you do it too."
"You should have," Santana shook her head, "now that would have been something to put in a magazine."
The blonde watched her friend for a moment, she had calmed down yes, but she could tell that all of this was really getting to her on a deeper level.
Quinn knew that nothing would make Santana happier than to just go back to the computer lab and forget all about being The Face of Clockwork. It had been hard for her, to adjust to that kind of image, in grad school Santana had settled into a niche about not worrying about her looks, what she was wearing, who she was dating. She completely dropped off the social scene they had established in Junior college to focus on her studies and an work projects to get her internships that would ultimately get her the job at Clockwork. Quinn soon followed suit, realizing that there was no time for partying if they wanted to become as successful as they had hoped to be one day. They had made it in a small way, and Quinn was glad that they were together to share it.
"Come on," Quinn stood, glancing at her watch, "you have two more presentations and an interview before we can call this a night."
"Who's the interview with?" Santana asked, standing to follow her friend. Quinn pulled out her smart-phone and looked at the schedule.
"Magazine covering the convention," Quinn read. "Reporter named Brittany Pierce."
"At least it's a chick," Santana sighed, "and I wont have to watch her stare at my boobs the whole time."
Quinn laughed, "You never know."
Brittany looked around quietly, she wasn't really sure what was going on, what everyone was talking about, or what the displays were all about... computers were never her strong point. She played idly with the badge on her vest pocket that clearly labeled her as member of the press. She had lost Artie, the display she had just left was a little too interesting to not look at for fifteen minuets, but now she was kind of regretting it. She needed to find Artie so he could show her where the girl she was supposed to interview was.
Artie knew who she was from their industry, he worked for this place called Orbit Tech and did computer things, and that was really all Brittany knew about it. She sighed, she knew her supervisor only assigned her this convention because she was dating someone involved.
It wasn't even that big a piece, but Brittany was glad for any sort of work, her editor didn't have that much confidence in her yet and she needed to do this right to prove herself and make that jump from reporter to journalist. The only problem was, if she couldn't find Santana Lopez for the interview then she would be in a bit of trouble.
She wandered to the area of the convention floor with the Clockwork signs, she knew Lopez worked for Clockwork... she was an IT Department Head and Artie said her nickname was IT Barbie. She looked around Clockwork's displays, she took a few pictures of them for the article. Looking through the sight, she turned her lens to her left, following the voice that was being amplified softly through a microphone.
She had seen pictures of Santana Lopez on the internet while she was researching questions she would ask, but she didn't feel that any of them did her justice in person. Brittany twisted her lens, zooming in as best she could, the woman was stunning. The dark curls falling over her shoulders, the naturally tanned skin, her attentive and focused eyes held a hit of light as she talked about something she loved, something she was proud of, her technology.
She took a few quick shots as Santana walked through the rest of her presentation, displaying the new technology her team was putting on the market next season. Brittany lowered her camera and watched her through the rest of the reveling. When Santana opened the floor to questions Brittany bit her lip, she hadn't understood everything about the technology Santana was showing, and she was too nervous to ask and make it known that she didn't really belong here.
One man raised a hand and asked, "Who came up with the idea for the new design?"
"Well, the concept had been in the making since before the last model was released," Santana answered, "but the key framework to the newer model was developed and produced by myself and my colleague, Mike Chang, who couldn't be here tonight."
"Mike Chang developed the software for the previous system right?" another man asked. Brittany watched Santana's face closely, her eyes darken but the smile on her face never wavered.
"Mike and I developed that software together," Santana kept her voice even, diplomatic. "He's never said otherwise."
The men nodded and Santana answered a few questions about things Brittany couldn't quite make sense of. She watched Santana answer their questions clearly and with no hesitation. She knew what she was talking about. People dispersed slowly, a few men stayed and tried to talk to Santana personally but a blonde woman kept them at bay.
Brittany started in their direction, putting her camera back into its bag over her shoulder. She took a deep breath and stepped into the brunette's line of sight, holding out her hand and saying, "Brittany Pierce, I think we have a date for an interview?"
"Santana Lopez, Head of IT at Clockwork Tech," the brunette said slowly, taking her hand firmly. She looked the reporter up and down, fashionable to say the least. Her gray slacks matched the tweed vest and ascot over a white blouse. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a loose bun with curls pouring out of a news boy cap. The badge hanging from her vest assured her Santana that she was actually in the press and not a model dressing the part.
Brittany smiled when she noticed the angry lines around her chocolate brown eyes disappeared. Santana gathered her thoughts and gestured to the blonde next to her, "This is Quinn Fabray, Public Relations."
Quinn smiled and took Brittany's hand, "I was the one you spoke to over the phone last week."
"Oh," Brittany's face lit up in recognition, "well, it's nice to meet you."
"Same," Quinn nodded.
"When's a good time for you?" Brittany asked Santana. "I know you just finished with your showing, I can come back in a few—"
Santana shook her head, "Now is fine with me if you're up for it. You're my last obligation to this convention and I really just want to get home."
"Um... right," Brittany's smile faltered suddenly feeling like she was wasting the brunette's time, Quinn noticed and elbowed the brunette softly.
"She didn't mean it like that," Quinn gave her friend a pointed look.
"She's right," Santana pinched the bridge of her nose lightly, closing her eyes. "I'm sorry, it just been a long day."
"Do you get that a lot?" Brittany asked softly, "people thinking Mike Chang should get all the credit?"
Santana's hand fell from her face and her eye's shot open, surprised at the audacity of the question. Quinn seemed surprised too, and she glanced from Santana to Brittany and back trying to gauge her friends reaction and figure out what kind of damage control would be needed. Surprising her friend, Santana just looked at the blonde, and they stared at each other for a heart beat before Santana spoke.
"The IT developer's at Clockwork are a team," Santana's voice was a practiced tone that reminded Brittany of someone reading a long boring speech. The pleasant look on her face never wavered, she was composed, elegant, intelligent, and Brittany could see the clouds in her eyes. "We work together to develop and provide the best possible tech for the market."
"I would be upset too," Brittany offered a small smile, shifting her camera bag on her shoulder lightly.
"I'm not upset, do I look upset?" It was an honest question, because she was sure she didn't look like she was about to cry, even if that was exactly what she wanted to do. Santana turned to Quinn who opened her mouth and closed it again, still too shocked to say anything.
"Not on the outside, you hide it well," Brittany reassured her with another smile. Then changed the subject abruptly, "Did want to go somewhere to do the interview or is here fine?"
"We have a place in the back," Quinn interjected, taking hold of Santana's elbow and pulling her along, motioning for Brittany to follow.
Santana sat across a table from the blonde, Quinn had procured a meeting room for their interview, and after placing two bottles of cold water next to the women, she left to attend to other business. The brunette watched as Brittany set up her things, a small blue notebook, a digital voice recorder, a pen, she set her camera bag down on the floor and picked up the bottle of water, taking a small sip.
As she screwed the cap back on she smiled warmly at Santana, who had yet to say anything since she being placed in the room. Brittany picked up the small voice recorder, "Do you mind if I use this?"
"Knock yourself out," Santana shrugged. A little light turned red and Brittany set it down.
The reporter rattled off the date, time, name of the convention with a business like tone then turned her attention to Santana, "...Where I, Brittany Pierce, will be interviewing the lovely Santana Lopez, Head of IT at Clockwork Technologies."
Santana flushed lightly under Brittany's playful gaze.
"Miss Lopez," Brittany started, flipping through the notebook to a page that had her interview notes on it. "Tell me about the products you're showcasing for the spring season from Clockwork Tech."
The interview went well, Brittany asked questions about the new systems, the updates and changes to be expected to the old system. She asked how Santana liked the conventions, what other conventions Clockwork will be showing at. She asked about the competitors market and what Santana thought of their products and Santana answered with political grace and made sure not to outright insult anyone, that was never good PR.
"I think that's all I need, thank you Miss Lopez," Brittany smiled and clicked off her recorder. She closed her notebook and started packing up her things.
"Of course," Santana stood as Brittany did and they headed to the door, Santana opening it for the blonde.
"Thank you," Brittany sent her a small smile that immediately died on her lips as she looked around.
"I'll show you back if you want," Santana offered, realizing that Brittany might be a little lost.
"That would be amazing," she laughed at herself. "I'm horrible with directions."
"It's alright, this place is built like a maze anyway," Santana started off towards the main floor and Brittany fell into step.
"Why are you covering the convention?" Santana asked abruptly, wondering if this girl was genuinely interested in the subject matter or was just put here to fill a slot. "I mean, I'm sure you don't get to pick your assignments, but was there a reason you're here for the convention?"
Brittany laughed softly, "My boyfriend works for Orbit, so they threw me on it."
"Oh," Santana's eyes narrowed slightly, of course she had a boyfriend, of course he worked for Orbit. "So why are you interviewing me? Our companies are huge rivals."
"I know that now," Brittany rolled her eyes, "but I set up the interview before I realized. I don't know anything about this industry, and honestly, I guess I don't care either way. No offense."
Santana shrugged, thinking apathy was better than hostility, "None taken."
"I wanted to interview you because when I Googled the list of people that were going to be showcasing," Brittany explained with a small smile. "You were the only girl, and I thought that was pretty cool."
The brunette nodded, unsure of what to say, so she just kept walking. They made it out to the main floor and Santana looked around and spotted Quinn with a couple of guys from her department, the blonde waved and mouthed, 'one minute.'
"It was nice meeting you Miss Lopez," Brittany caught her eyes, and held out her hand again.
Santana took it for a final shake. Brittany's hand was warm in hers, and so much softer than her own. She found herself not wanting to let go, "Thank you, for your time."
"You know, I'm not big into technology or electronics, or stuff like that... it took me a while to figure out my iPod," the blonde shrugged, embarrassed, but too honest to not say this, "but I can tell that you know what you're talking about, and that you love what you do."
Santana blinked, her eyes were watering. Was she about to cry? About something a complete stranger told her in a passing farewell? It was just so... awesome to have someone say that to her.
'I can tell you know what you're talking about.'
That was what she had been fighting ever since she became The Face of Clockwork. That was what she had wanted to hear all day, for someone to actually listen to her and realize she deserved her place as Head of IT. She opened her mouth to say thank you but nothing came out, Brittany seemed to know she was having a moment because she reached out and gently squeezed Santana's arm.
"Brittany, there you are," a voice said from behind them, "are you finished with IT Barbie yet?"
The girls looked behind them and found the man who called to Brittany, and his wheelchair. Santana's lips formed a thin line, she was trying to keep her cool. She pushed it all down, everything down, she had no feelings, no thoughts. She just needed to get to Quinn and get home. She didn't want to know how Brittany knew Artie Abrams, Artie fucking Abrams. She hoped to god that he wasn't the boyfriend she had mentioned.
"Artie," Brittany frowned at him, and Santana appreciated the chastising tone of her voice, but it also verified that Artie was probably her boyfriend. Artie didn't seem to care though.
He scoffed and sent an annoyed look to Santana.
"Abrams," Santana acknowledged, she wanted to insult him, she wanted to punch him even, but she wouldn't. Not when his girlfriend had just said the nicest thing to her. "Thanks again Miss Pierce," Santana said quietly too keep her voice steady. She turned to leave but Quinn had just arrived at her side.
"Ready?" Quinn asked, her brow furrowed when she noticed Santana's 'I'm barely holding it together' face. She turned to Brittany, "Have your office send me the article information, alright?"
"All about the publicity," Artie muttered from his wheelchair a few feet away.
"Okay, I will," Brittany smiled kindly, ignoring Artie, and keeping her eyes on Santana. "Nice meeting you both."
"Same to you," Quinn smiled back and she and Santana started to leave. "Nice to see you again, Abrams."
"Can't wait to see you in Maxim!" Artie called snidely from behind them.
Santana breathed deeply through her nose, she wasn't going to freak out, she wasn't. Not here, in front of everyone, that was the last thing she needed. IT Barbie going all PMS on a paraplegic. That would be great for her image. Quinn wrapped an arm around her waist and they left the convention together. Quinn had their car brought around and Santana slunk into the passenger's seat as Quinn jumped behind the wheel. They pulled out of the convention in a silence that wasn't unusual between them.
"I don't care how many of those dweeby nerds want it," Santana mumbled, letting her head rest against the window and watching the city pass by. "I'm not doing Maxim, just to turn into some jack off material."
"Ew," Quinn scrunched up her nose at the thought.
"That's what I'm saying," Santana huffed.
"So, how was the interview?" Quinn asked to change the subject.
"Fine," Santana shrugged. "You know she picked me to interview because I was the only girl showcasing material at this stupid convention?"
"Really?" Quinn thought back, "She didn't mention that when we set it up."
"She kinda just said it in passing," the brunette said like it was no big deal, she didn't want to let on that the interview with the blonde had been her highlight of the whole convention for her.
"Why were you acting like that to her?" Brittany's face was a mixture of disappointment and disbelief.
"Because she doesn't deserve to be the Head of IT at anywhere," Artie rolled his eyes, "let alone at Clockwork."
"Why not?" Brittany crossed her arms over her chest. Why did he feel the same way as everyone else around here? Why didn't he want to give Santana credit for anything either?
"She's just a pretty face," he explained. "She's just a marketing ploy Clockwork uses to make people like their product. She doesn't actually know half the stuff she's talking about, it's all an act."
The blonde's eyebrows knitted together, "When I was interviewing her she knew what she was talking about."
"Brittany," Artie shook his head, this argument wasn't worth his time. "She could have been saying anything and you would have believed it because you don't know the first thing about computers. You have trouble turning one on."
Brittany clutched her bag a little tighter, "I... I guess you're right."
Artie knew he had hurt her feelings, "Brittany, I'm just saying that—"
"I'm gonna go," she gestured to her bag, walking further away, calling over her shoulder, "I have a lot to write."