The sudden loud blaring of Lady Gaga's Paparazzi coming from her nightstand made Santana shoot up in bed. She tried to shake the sleep out of her brain before opening her eyes to glance at the clock. 1:57 stood out in bold red against the darkness. If she just let it ring, he would probably give up. It can wait. She wiggled herself back into the mattress. Gaga quieted and she shut her eyes again. Right before she drifted off, the Lady struck again. I'll follow you until you love me. Papa-paparazzi. This could only mean one thing and it wasn't good. She hefted herself up and swept the dark hair out of her face. With a quick check, her suspicions were confirmed. She answered her phone with a quick slide of her thumb. "What the fuck do you want, Puckerman?"
"Hey there, Lopez," came the tell tale sing song of the biggest thorn in her side since Charlie Thompson stole her first girlfriend in third grade. This was the bigger, swarmier version of that asshole. "I got the goods on your gold star girl."
Santana set her jaw and tried to block out the sirens echoing off the buildings right outside the window. "Why can't you just be a normal scumbag and call me in the morning?"
"You know I treat you right," the man retorted. "We have history, so I feel obligated to give you the heads up."
"Yeah, yeah," Santana rolled her eyes before realizing he couldn't see her. "We have history, Noah. That's the only reason I don't send my goons to mangle you."
"Rachel Berry doesn't have any goons."
"I never said they were Rachel's goons, I said they were my goons."
"I'm calling bullshit on your bullshit."
"Puckerman, just tell me what you have. I was asleep and you're pissing me off," Santana grabbed her laptop from the other side of her bed, popped it open, and refreshed the tab already displaying the TMZ webpage. Nothing there. She did a quick check of the rest of the gossip sites...not a thing. Yet. "I don't see anything. This better not be like the time you snapped her on toilet, you sicko."
"It's an exclusive," Puck informed her. "Rachel Berry flipping her shit on some chick at that new club on 92nd. I have her. I have Finny boy. I have the girl screaming 'psycho' at Berry while she threatens her with a shoe. I have the Golden Ticket crying on the street. And I have video of all of it."
"Oh please, Puckerman. She has a breakdown over that good for nothing douchebag husband of hers at least once a month. And she always flips her shit in public. Everybody and their mom has a shaky cell phone video of her ugly crying, singing the Cell Block Tango accapella, and wielding a spiked stiletto . If I went around paying off everybody, I'd be in national debt territory. Call me when you have something better. Or, you know, get a job that doesn't require being nastier than scabies."
"I'm sending it to Sylvester then."
"Good, she needs the business," Santana closed her laptop, shoved it under her pillow, and settled back under her sheets. "Let Sue know we don't give a shit and she can run that crap all day. I'll even write up a little press release to go along with the photos. It'll make her job a hell of a lot easier."
"I'm not kidding around, Lopez. Sue's offering a nice chunk of change."
"Spend it wisely, dumbass," she answered before cutting off the call.
It was times like these, she really did wish she had some goons. Noah Puckerman would be the first on her list. The two of them used to be pals, sure. When it was all good and fun. That was before Rachel landed that big audition, when Santana was still just a communications major and Puck was referring to himself as a photo journalist who took shots mostly of pigeons. It sure felt like a long time ago. Hell, it was a long time ago.
Fucking Rachel! No, no, fucking Finn Hudson! Santana seethed just thinking about him. Getting around another one of these 'Rachel Freakouts' was going to cost some money. That wasn't a problem. Rachel had plenty of it. But, Santana really wished that she'd stop giving Noah Puckerman a free show, because that guy was not getting a penny. Not after throwing them under the bus and heading for the darkside. No chance in hell.
When Santana's phone rang again, she didn't even think before answering, "And another thing, Assclown, stop fucking saying we have history. We had a few beers, like, years ago. We have history like Liberace had slight homosexual urges or Berry has subtlety. I've never given you any money for chasing around my client and I'm never going to, so knock off the insane fucking vendetta you have against us..."
She heard a rebuttal coming on the other end, but she wasn't finished. In fact, she whipped the sheets off her and threw it into third gear. "Oh and also, your hair looks like some reverse mutant skunk. It's ridiculous. People laugh at you, Puck. Not just laugh, but howl. Literally. And that girl that you're banging? Zizes. Yeah, I know her. And I know she has The Herp. So why don't you fuck off and beg somebody to hold you down with a good set of clippers and do the whole fucking world a favor."
Santana paused when she heard the voice. She pulled the phone away from her face and ran the number through her head a couple of times. "Who is this?"
"Hopefully not who you thought it was."
"Unless you're a shithead pap with a bad mohawk and even worse photography skills, then no," Santana answered icily. "But you're still fucking calling me at two in the morning, so now you're on my list, too."
"Uh...wrong number, I guess. I was trying to call my mom."
"Do I sound like your fucking mom? Do I have a motherly tone?"
"Well, then, I really don't have the time or the patience to play Bedtime Stories with Mystery Caller, okay."
"I apologize for-"
"For what?" the angry woman huffed. "For being so incredibly rude. Phone etiquette dictates that you don't. fucking. call someone at two in the morning."
"I didn't mean-"
"Yes, you did. You did mean to. You pressed send, regardless. And now I'm still awake and having a completely meaningless conversation with you. You're wasting my time, yours too, but exponentially more important, mine." She glanced at the clock again and clenched the phone tighter in her fist. "If I had goons, lady, I'd send them after you, too."
"Listen, Bitchy McBitcherson," the brunette was taken aback by the forcefulness of the tone. "It was an honest mistake. I'm sorry. Calm down. And I'm not even sure what expendency means, but you're the one who's rude. You're the rudest phone answerer I've ever accidently wrong numbered. So...bye."
Santana was impressed for a millisecond and was even going to say so when she heard the click signaling the end of the call. She glanced at the number again. "Huh," she said to no one. She set the phone down, but promptly picked it back up to program the number as Mystery Caller. "Weird," she thought out loud. She studied the number. She gave serious thought to calling it back, but decided against it. Finally, she dropped her phone next to her and settled in for a few hours of sleep.
Which was roughly four hours.
Sleeping in was a luxury when you were the publicist for the "biggest star of this generation." Those were Rachel's words, certainly not hers. It was quite possibly true, but Santana would never, ever, under any circumstances actually admit that. Not of her own volition anyway. Okay, maybe she'd written that exact phrase in few releases, but it was her job to bullshit. As she gazed out her highrise window overlooking Manhattan, she snorted into her first cup of coffee. She spent 18 hours a day making a batshit crazy woman she could barely stand look like a squeaky clean, put together mega star. At least the view was nice. Rachel Berry certainly did pay well.
By the time Santana entered the Berry/Hudson residence that morning, Rachel's very put upon fashion guy, Kurt Hummel, was handing over her third cup of coffee. "How bad was last night?" she asked him quietly as they climbed the grand staircase heading for Rachel's master closet.
Yes. Master closet.
The man brushed back his hair with his usual annoying dramatic flair, "It must have been just awful. I saw the remnants of a broken Tony."
"Say it isn't so," Santana responded sarcastically.
"Featured actress," he waved it off as he opened the door and waited for her to enter. "She has another."
Santana took her usual seat on the couch while Kurt went through his morning routine. The publicist sipped her drink as she watched him agonize over which brown leather loafer was most likely to make it look like Rachel wasn't even trying to be trendy. "What are we going for today?" she asked.
He tapped his finger to his chin a few times before glancing up thoughtfully, "Sad-but-still-standing-by-my-man?"
"Oh," she scrunched her face in thought. "Not, depressed-because-my-fuckface-husband-won't-stop-groping-people-in-bathrooms?"
"Nope, People Magazine won't print that headline."
"He's making us look like idiots, Kurt."
"Not us," the man said offhandedly while comparing belts to the newly selected loafers for a color match. "Her."
"Us," Santana bit. "I'm the one who has to talk to all those bloodthirsty reporters with this, 'Their marriage has never been stronger' schtick."
"Uh huh," Kurt hummed while gliding over to the trophy display of watches in the accessory corner. "This is why I don't get personally invested, Santana. I show up and make her look fabulous, then I go home."
"You're full of shit, Hummel," the woman said as she propped her jean clad legs up on the couch. "You cried like a little wussy girl for a week last time they had a huge public blowout."
"No," he turned and pinned her with a glare. "I cried for a week because she was on Mr. Blackwell's Worst Dressed list. The timing was purely coincidental."
"Oh yeah," she smiled behind her Starbucks brew, "how are you still employed again?"
"She thinks it makes her edgy," Kurt sighed.
"It does make me edgy," Rachel announced as she stumbled into the room from her private entrance looking like Lindsay Lohan on a walk of shame. "But to my even greater advantage, it makes it seem as if the Big Bad Worst Dressed list makers are picking on me. It drums up public support, because everyone loves me. That, and honestly, pleated skirts are never out of style."
"I thought I burned all those," Kurt said in a panic, eyes darting around for anywhere she may have hidden one.
The Broadway diva ignored him. "Also, I have all the intercoms on and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop commenting on my marriage."
"It's my job to comment on your marriage, Rachel," Santana shot back. "In fact, I comment on your marriage everyday, all day, to several people a day, including you. So, in case you missed it the first time, I'll put in terms you can understand, the guy's a schmuck."
"He's not a schmuck."
"Oh yeah," Santana hopped up ready for the challenge. "What'd he do last night, Rach?"
She was pointedly ignored as Rachel took a sudden interest in Kurt's mission to find the perfect 'Rachel' gold plated necklace for the day's ensemble.
"Puckerman got some awesome pics of you, by the way," the publicist said with a light nudge.
Rachel pointed to a piece of jewelry in Kurt's hand and nodded her approval. "Well, that explains the pungent odor of muskrat and filth last night." She coughed a little into her hand, "I still taste it in my mouth. Can you go grab me a bottle of Tasmanian Rainwater, Santana?"
"Here, Rachel," Kurt handed over his own drink, "why don't you have some coffee and save the hard stuff for later?"
"Sylvester is probably going to have the video by the afternoon, if she doesn't already," Santana continued. "I'm sure all your fans are going to enjoy watching you perform an impromptu Fatal Attraction tribute with a pump in one hand and a Cosmo in the other. I'm sure it will be even better on Sue Sees It. You know, edited for content and such."
"She won't run it, she never does."
"She doesn't run it, Rachel, because I'm so fucking adept at cleaning up your messes."
"Which is exactly why I pay you so much money, Santana," Rachel replied as she kicked her pajamas across the floor and received their replacement from Kurt.
"You have to get rid of Hudson before we get into a situation that I can't control."
Rachel scoffed as she raised her arms for Kurt to pull a shirt over her head, "Get rid of him? I'm married to him."
"And?" the publicist laughed. "You were married to Jesse St. James for seventy two hours. Did you forget that? You probably did. You know how? Because I made it disappear."
"It or him?" Rachel questioned. "Because he's still yet to be heard from."
"What you don't know won't hurt you," Santana winked. "The cops would crush you like a twinkie, so it's best you only ask questions you can handle the answer to."
Rachel eyed her curiously and looked over to where Kurt was sliding his finger across his neck like a knife. "Nevermind."
"That's what I thought." Santana shot a quick grin at Kurt. "Now what are we to do about Funny Finny? Do you have a secret chamber we can lock him in?"
"I'll take care of Finn, Santana."
"Oh, you will? Because I thought we tried that approach."
"Seriously, you need to trust my judgment."
Santana looked Rachel over thoroughly. Kurt was doing the final touches of her I-had-a-rough-night-but-believe-me-I'm-fine shawl.
"I can't. Not when you take fashion advice from a guy who looks like he slathered on a crapload of honey, ran through a Salvation Army, and blindly declared whatever stuck to him a brand new trend."
"Hey," Kurt shouted indignantly. "Don't start on me."
"Take that back, Santana. Kurt Hummel is a brilliant fashionista," the star of the room said as she studied herself in the mirror.
"If brilliant is synonymous with cringeworthy homeless man apparel, then hell yes, he's the most brilliant pastel in the box."
The young designer threw the pajamas he had just collected at her. They landed in a bunch on her head. "Well, just so you know, you look like a lesbian in that blazer."
She rifled the clothes back at him. "I am a lesbian, Kurt."
"And you're doing an excellent job of broadcasting it," he said catching Rachel's pajamas and discarding them in a drawer.
The clothes in that drawer were probably never heard from again. They were most likely auctioned off to desperate Rachel Berry fans on eBay.
"I mean, seriously, Santana, you're not allergic to flattering cuts are you?"
Thankfully for him, a buzzing from the publicist's pocket momentarily distracted her. She slipped her phone out and was greeted by a new text.
So sorry again for last night. I hope this is a more respectable hour for phone interaction. Forgive me for saying this, but you should seek therapy.
She couldn't help but smile at the forwardness of the advice.
Kurt noticed with rapt attention. "You're smiling, who died?"
"Huh?" she asked, rereading the text. "Oh, it's nothing. Nobody. Just...last night..." she scratched her forehead and grasped for an explanation. "Wrong number. I...it's nothing."
"And you're stuttering," he smirked.
As soon as Rachel realized her spotlight was waning, she was intrigued. "Is it a sext? Let me see."
"C'mon," the diva made a grab for her phone. The quick cat-like movement surprised Santana and Rachel's eyes lit up when the phone starting ringing in her hand. She looked overjoyed until she saw the name dance across the screen and shoved it back into its owner's hand. "Ew, gross, it's Sue Sylvester."
The publicist groaned and steeled herself for this sure to be shitastic conversation, "I didn't know they got cell reception in the depths of hell. Is this the first call from the seventh circle?"
"Guess what I have," Sylvester sidestepped the greeting.
"I know exactly what you have, Sue, and it should be treated immediately."
"American Inquisition is running the Berry video at two, Lopez."
"Awesome, do I need to register for that or will it come with my nonexistent subscription to Sad Crap Gossip Rag's special features?"
"American Inquisition at americaninquistion dot com," Sue growled. "You can just click on the 'Rachel's Finally Lost her Berries' link."
"Okay, wait a second...hold on..." Santana held her phone out a little before shouting, "Rachel grab me a notepad and a pen..." She shuffled the device a bit and then tapped on the mic just for giggles. "Just a second, Sue. We're writing down that information. Okay, okay, what was that address again? Oh yeah...www. national. enquirer's. younger. dumber. uglier. bitch of a second rate cousin. at scumsuckers. dot. net. Got it. Thanks Sue."
"Insult me all you want..."
"But I'm uploading it."
"No, you're not," Santana said as she rolled her eyes at Rachel running back into the room with a notepad and pen. "You're not because I'm going to get you something better and you know it. That's why you called."
"What do you have to offer me, Lopez?" Sue sounded downright giddy. "I've already got your Jewish Polly Pocket crawling across a bar and swinging at a defenseless girl with an empty bottle of Cristal."
Santana shot Rachel a look, "Really?" she mouthed.
"What?" the movie star shrugged, completely oblivious to both the discussion on the phone and what she did the previous night. "Okay, Lucifer, we'll give you whatever we gave you last time."
"No fucking way!"
"Oh my," Sue chuckled. "Right now, I'm watching in slow motion as her hulk of a husband is throwing her over his shoulder and giving us an upskirt. I thought the Golden Ticket's golden thongs were only a myth."
Santana cringed. "We'll give you double and an interview."
"She's making her usual rounds today. You'll be able to find her. Exclusively. On camera. Ask her about her new movie and she'll give you plenty of sound bites. But, no mention of last night and ditch the video."
There was a long pause before Sue agreed with, "Fine."
"And send Jacob Ben Israel. Rachel will only talk to JBI. Those other rats you have working for you creep her out."
"Nice work," Kurt commented as she punched the red button on her screen.
"That's why she pays me so much money," she said as she dusted off the shoulders of her lesbian blazer.
"JBI, though, Santana?" Rachel complained. "I said he creeps me out more than the rest of them."
Kurt covered his laugh with his hand, "Honest mistake."
"Honest mistake," she repeated and clicked through to find the last message she received. "I'm gonna..." she pointed at the door. "I'll catch up with you before JBI, k?"
"Sure," Rachel nodded, already enthralled by the glint of whatever earrings Kurt was holding up next to her face.
She went back and forth in her mind for a few seconds before hastily scrolling down to place a call.
"Hello?" came a gruff voice on the other end of the line.
She stopped in her tracks on the grand staircase, "Uh...you sound decidedly less female than you did last night. And a little like James Bond."
"This is Sean Connery and I bet you're looking for Brittany," she heard a muffled voice and a thwack. The next voice she recognized and was surprised by the sudden feeling of warmth that invaded her body, "Mom? I'm sorry, Sam's being a doofus. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I had Tina look at the suspected mole on my back and it was definitely just a freckle. So you can just disregard the panicky voicemail and stop cruising webMD."
Santana smiled, "Still not your mom."
There was a long pause and another thwack followed by a wail.
"Um," the girl continued, though this time not nearly as cheerfully. "Midnight answerer?"
"Yeah, I gathered from your boyfr-guy...who does a really terrible Sean Connery," Santana stumbled. "You should let him know that."
"I will," came the sharp reply.
"I just wanted to apologize for the rant last night, I was rude. I was dealing with a...situation. I usually don't yell at misdialing strangers, so I'm sorry," the brunette offered.
"Not good enough?" Santana asked as she made room in the elevator for an incoming couple.
"You were really mean."
"I was, wasn't I?" the publicist winced. "Well, in my defense, for most of that conversation, I thought I was talking to someone else."
"And they deserve to get yelled at?"
"I guess I'll take your word for it," phone girl said after a playful sigh.
"And I'll take your advice into consideration...Brittany."
"You do that." Santana could hear the smile in the girl's voice. "Okay, now that I've embarrassed myself twice, at least tell me your name so I can apologize properly for waking you up."
"You didn't. I told you, I was dealing with a situation," the New Yorker stated as she walked out the front door of Rachel Berry's apartment building and entered the bustling streets of the city. "And there's no way I'm telling you my name, you could be an axe murderer or something."
"Yeah, right. I don't even know where you are."
"NYC, baby," Santana said as she filed along with the foot traffic and did a little fist pump with pride.
"Ahh, I'm in Seattle, so you're probably safe."
"Oh, I don't know about all that," the brunette teased as she passed her favorite pizza place.
"No need to feel threatened."
"Threatened? Ha. No. Let's just say that you're the first person who's put me in my place in a long time," Santana answered. "I respect that."
"You respect me now? That's an improvement over rude time waster."
"You have spunk. I like spunk." Santana entered Vic's Diner with a wave at Vic. She looked around until blonde hair caught her eye. "Take care of yourself, Brittany from Seattle."