Pairing: Brittany Pierce/Santana Lopez (Glee)
Rating: T for coarse language, and sexual themes. Rating subject to change at author's discretion.
Summary: "I reach for another dish on the table when probably the cutest little chuckle I have ever heard floats up from behind me. Even sitting a couple tables away, I can see you're probably the most incredibly beautiful girl I think I've ever seen."
Disclaimer: Glee and all related characters are owned by Fox Networks. No profit has been made through the publishing of this work of fiction; it was created for entertainment purposes only. Song lyrics belong to Taylor Swift and the Big Machine record label.
You were in college working part time waitin' tables
Left a small town, never looked back
I was a flight risk with a fear of fallin'
Wondering why we bother with love if it never lasts
"Pierce! Y'ain't gettin' paid t'paint yer nails and stare at boys! Getcher butt inta gear and bus them tables, girl! Git a move on!"
The snarled command comes from somewhere near the hot mess that is the kitchen at Breadstix. Rick, the head chef, isn't exactly big on girls as a rule. At least not as employees. I wasn't actually doing either of those things, technically. In between cleaning tables I like to watch the guests and make up stories about them as they enjoy their meals (or don't enjoy them - food quality is kinda luck of the draw here). The bit about my nails was probably because I have a bad habit of picking at my cuticles when I'm bored. And I get bored a lot at this job. Seriously. My nail beds are completely shredded, like, all the time. I keep my nails pretty short so I'm not tempted to chew on them too - not that it helps.
I jump a little because Rick's voice is suddenly a lot closer than it was a minute ago. He's standing at the entryway to the kitchen, hands full of squirming lobster, glaring at me. I grab one of the grody black tubs and set it on my hip. The dishes thunk heavily into the basin as I drop them in, some splattering leftover bits of sauce on my clothes and my bare arm. It doesn't really bother me anymore, though it definitely did when I first started here seven months ago.
I used to try to carefully set each dish in so that no mess would happen, but that took forever and then Rick would yell at me for dilly-dallying, whatever that means. I'd never heard that word before working here, but I bet it sounds super cute when someone other than Rick is saying it. Everything Rick says just sounds angry and mean. I think it's because of his hair. I'd be mad too if my hair only grew long in the back. It looks so weird, all short on top and long down his neck. I told him once that he should think about just keeping the back short since the top obviously isn't growing any longer, but he just started yelling about parties and business and bullets or something. What his hair has to do with business at Breadstix, I have no idea.
After that I just started throwing the dishes in and soon I stopped even noticing the splatters until I got home and had to scrub my left arm more than my right because it'd be covered in little red or white splotches. Sometimes when I'm not too tired I'll try and make a game out if it and guess what splotch comes from what dish, but since the only two sauces at Breadstix are marinara or alfredo, it's usually a pretty short game. One time I found a blue splotch and that kind of freaked me out for awhile because I'm pretty sure that there are exactly zero dishes with blue sauce, but then I remembered that I'd gotten a blue slushie before coming into work that day. I still can't figure out how I managed to get the slushie on my arm though.
One of the dishes makes a really loud clatter as I toss it in and it snaps me from my thoughts. Tina, one of the waitresses, narrows her eyes at me and I shrug an apology. At least, I think she's narrowing her eyes. It's hard to tell since she's Asian. They're all plastic anyways, so it's not like I could have broken them. It was one of the reasons I took the stupid job in the first place - as long as I'm not ever the one taking orders or delivering food, it's easy enough for me to avoid messing up. Which, honestly, was reason enough on its own to, considering that's all anyone seems to think I do.
I always volunteer for the mindless jobs at Breadstix. Busing tables, seating guests, washing dishes, anything that doesn't require me to pay attention or talk to people and I'm just fine. I know if I tried to do something like take orders I'd mess them up. It's just too hard for me to pay attention to what people are saying and write down their orders and remember the order that those orders are supposed to go in. I dunno how Tina and Quinn do it.
"Brittany! Watch out!"
I spin around just in time to catch the tray as it slides out of Quinn's hands. The glasses all jostle a little, but hardly anything spills, so I hand it back to her with a big grin. She just rolls her eyes.
"Yes, yes, you have cat-like reflexes, very nice. If your head wasn't up in the clouds all the time, things like this wouldn't happen and you wouldn't have to have fast reflexes."
I blink slowly at her. "Quinn, I'm pretty sure I'm stuck with these reflexes whether you drop a tray or not. Like, it's Genesis or something."
"Genetics," she snaps shortly. "And fine, but if you would just pay attention, you wouldn't have to use them here. I didn't just drop the tray spontaneously, you know." She glares at me accusingly.
"Well then why'd you do it?"
She huffs and blows some of her bangs out of her face. "I didn't do it on purpose, Brittany. And it happened because you were dancing in the aisle. Again. I swear, sometimes I think you must have ADD or something. I've never seen you focus on just one thing for more than a moment at a time. It's a wonder you can make it through your classes."
I blink again and stare back at her. She's probably right about the ADD, but my parents didn't believe in that kind of stuff and never had me tested, so I couldn't say for sure. Still, I kinda hate it when she says things like that. It makes me feel guilty, like I did it on purpose or something. Or like maybe I'm broken or something. I get through my classes in school just fine. Okay, so maybe most of them are dance classes, but still. It's not like I don't have to take some regular courses too, even at Juilliard. So I make my face really still in that way that always confuses her and ask in my most serious voice, "Quinn, what does math have to do with busing tables?"
She stares at me in shock for a few seconds, then rolls her eyes and stomps past me, grumbling under her breath. I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm an idiot because she can never tell when I'm joking, but at least it gets her to leave me alone.
I reach for another dish on the table when probably the cutest little chuckle I have ever heard floats up from behind me. My head whips around, searching for the source of the noise, when I spot you.
Even sitting a couple tables away, I can see you're probably the most incredibly beautiful girl I think I've ever seen. Even more beautiful than Quinn, who is so pretty I'm almost completely positive she has her own American Girl doll modeled after her. But you...You're something completely different.
I think I notice your mouth first because of your laughter, but I keep looking at it because of your lips. They're so round and soft looking, and your teeth are pearly white against their redness. And you have dimples. Oh wow. Your hair is long and inky black, and it looks so thick my fingers twitch a little with the sudden urge to run through it. Your skin is really tan, but I can tell it's naturally so, because it's just the tiniest bit rosy around your cheeks. Too cute. My own cheeks flush a little when I realize I'm staring, but then I notice that you're watching me too. I probably didn't see it at first because you're sort of looking up at me through your eyelashes, but yeah. You're definitely looking at me.
Then my cheeks burn even hotter because if you're looking at me then you're probably laughing at me too. Oh God, what if you heard me and Quinn? I bet you think I'm a total idiot too. Great. Just great. I drop my eyes immediately and start fumbling with the tub still perched on my hip as I try to think of the least awkward way to get out of the situation.
"That was pure brilliance."
My eyes snap back up to meet yours. I'm not sure if you said that, but there isn't really anyone else around us right now, so it had to have been you. I frown a little, trying to figure out what you could be talking about.
"The way you handled that bitch just now? It was just masterful. Sheer genius." You're grinning even wider at me now, so that even your eyes are part of the smile.
I think my jaw pops from dropping so fast when it finally clicks that not only did you hear what I said to Quinn, but you actually got it. You got my joke. Hardly anyone understands my humor. I smile back nervously and mumble a quiet thank you.
Your smile gets smaller, but not in that way that means you're less happy. It's more like you noticed how anxious I am and you're deliberately softening to make me feel better. It makes me want to just sit down and start a conversation with you, and I almost do, but then I hear Rick shouting from the kitchen again.
"Pierce! Quit buggin' the customers and git back t'work! Them tables ain't gonna wipe themselves!"
I have to roll my eyes a little, especially since he can't see my face. Rick sounds like just about every guy I've ever known from my hometown. I don't know what it is about small towns, but it seems like they're all full of jerks with even worse English than mine. I'm about to offer an apology to you, but you're not looking at me anymore. You're glaring at Rick now, and your face is completely changed. Everywhere that was soft and smiling before is now hard and angry and cold. Even so, I can't help but think that maybe you're glaring at Rick for my sake, and the thought makes my stomach clench in the best way.
I don't want to make Rick any more annoyed than he already is tonight though, so I quickly shovel the rest of the dishes in my area into the bin and return them to the kitchen to be washed. I think for a minute about washing them right away like I'm supposed to, but I really want to see you again, if only to check and make sure that you really are as beautiful as I first thought. I mean, it's totally possible that I imagined that, right? Normal people just aren't that gorgeous.
I chew on one of my fingertips for a moment before deciding to go ahead and wipe down the tables now. It's almost closing time anyways, and Rick did just tell me to wipe them, so...Boom. Lawyered.
I grab two of the cleanest rags I can find and soak one of them in the sink. I have to clench the rags to keep from doing a little victory fist pump when I see you're still at your table, sipping at a glass of water like you've got all the time in the world. I start at the far end of the restaurant and slowly work my way toward the front, and the booth you're sitting in.
I realize about halfway through my task that I haven't really thought this through beyond seeing you again, and I have no clue what to do next. Except to keep cleaning, of course. I don't want to seem like a creeper and just stare at you while I'm wiping and drying, so I keep my eyes down, only glancing up after every other table to sneak a peek at you. When you catch me looking, it makes me jerk in surprise so that the wet rag slips right off the edge of the table and I only just stop myself from face planting into the scratched wooden surface. I can hear you chuckling from a few tables away and it makes my cheeks burn again. I'm such a spaz today. More so than usual, it feels like.
After that I keep my eyes on my hands and don't look at you at all anymore. I've had enough embarrassment for one day. I get so into my cleaning that I almost miss it when you finally speak up again.
"That's some Karate Kid level concentration you've got going on there."
Your voice is quiet and kinda low which is probably part of why I almost didn't catch your words, but when I look up you're right there, only a table away. How did I get so close so fast?
I think I must be staring again because you start to fidget a little, and it makes me smile. You're just so cute.
"Uhm, sorry. That was me being a lame movie nerd. Just forget I said anything."
The embarrassed tone of your voice snaps me out of my own thoughts and, after I take a second to recall what you said, my smile grows.
"No, Mr. Miyagi. I get it. I guess I'm just a little slow tonight." I meant it as a joke, but my voice gets really soft at the end and makes it sound a lot more serious than it should be. I try to laugh it off, but now you're looking at me with a little wrinkle between your eyebrows, like I just said something kind of sad or upsetting.
You reach your arm out across the table as if you want to touch me, even though you're at least ten feet away, and your eyes bore straight into mine.
"Don't say that. You're brilliant."
You sound so serious, and your eyes are so dark and intense, that it knocks me breathless for a minute. I think we've been staring at each other for too long, because you drop your eyes and start to fidget again, and it looks like your cheeks are getting even pinker under the tanness. My brain scrambles for something to distract you with, because you're clearly uncomfortable now. I say the first thing that pops into head.
"How do you know?"
Your gaze lifts to meet mine and you smile, smaller than before, but it still manages to catch in your eyes. It's sort of entrancing. Then your smile turns into a smirk.
"Anyone who can handle Little Miss Prim And Proper," you nod your head at Quinn, who is counting tips at the bar, "the way you did has to be brilliant. I mean, you barely said three sentences, and I thought her head was going to explode. It was pretty awesome to behold, honestly."
I should probably feel bad about irritating Quinn so much, but the way you're smiling at me like I'm the most interesting person you've met today is making my stomach do cartwheels. Plus, Quinn was rude first. Not that it really matters.
I wipe my right hand, which had been clutching the wet rag, on the leg of my pants, then offer it to you. "I'm Brittany."
You look down at my hand for a second, like maybe you aren't quite sure what it's there for. Your expression falls just the tiniest bit, and your eyes get this really guarded look in them, like you're trying to be really careful about something. Finally, just when I'm about to pull my hand back and mumble an apology, you take it in a soft grip and give it a gentle squeeze. The cartwheels in my belly turn into full layouts.
You quickly drops my hand and fix your face into that sly little smirk again.
"I can see that."
Your eyes drop slowly to my chest, and mine follow to see you're looking at my nametag. Oh. Duh. I can feel the tips of my ears start to get hot. Apparently my cheeks were getting tired, doing all that blushing on their own.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Brittany. I'm Santana."
"Santana," I repeat, letting the word roll around on my tongue. It's a strange name, but it fits you. It's a little exotic, even for New York. "That's super pretty."
You smile big enough to show your dimples again, but roll your eyes at the same time.
"Well, I can't really take credit for it, it was my parents' idea. But thank you."
I have to chuckle at that. I'd never really thought of it that way before, but you're totally right. Complimenting someone on their name is mostly just complimenting whoever named them. Unless they changed their name themselves, but I'm pretty sure you didn't, since you just gave your parents credit for it.
I don't want the conversation to end here, but I'm not sure what else to say to that, so again I just say the first thing that comes to me.
"So how come you're here alone? No boyfriend tonight?"
As soon as the words come out, my hand flies up to clap over my mouth. I can't believe I just said that. What if you just had a really bad break up? Or what if you think I'm being really rude? I'm about to apologize when you surprise me by answering.
"Ugh, no boyfriend any night, thank you. No, I just needed to get out of my apartment for a while, and I love this place, so I thought I'd grab a little dinner." Your nose crinkles a little bit on the word 'any' and it's just about the most adorable thing I've ever seen.
"Oh, that's cool," I offer lamely. You shrug, like it doesn't really matter to you. You didn't seem annoyed or offended by my question, so I decide to press my luck a little. I can't help but be curious about the way you answered the boyfriend question.
"If it's okay to ask, what did you mean by that? The way you said 'no boyfriend any night'? Like, ever?"
You shift uncomfortably in the booth and immediately I regret saying anything. "You don't have to answer that. I'm being really nosy. I'm sorry."
You just look at me for a few seconds, dark eyes searching my face for...something. I dunno what.
"It's fine. I just, uhm...I mean, yeah, as in ever. I'm gay."
"Oh." I try to ignore the way my heart clenches a little at that. I try to tell myself to be cool about it. Just because you're gay doesn't mean you'll automatically be into me. Sadly.
"Oh?" You look nervous now, and I realize I haven't said anything else. I offer you a big smile and you seem to relax a little. Good.
"Me too. Well...sort of. I'm halfway there." Your eyebrow quirks up and it's way sexier than a simple eyebrow should be. Way sexier. "Uh, I mean...I'm uh..." I've completely lost my train of thought. Oh right. The gay. "Bi!" You jump at my shout and and I cringe a little. That was definitely louder than it needed to be. "Sorry," I whisper. "I'm bi. So like...half gay, half straight, I guess? That's what I meant."
Oh God, I'm rambling. I'm such a spaz today. Luckily you just nod and chuckle a little. Even so, I really need a subject change.
"So, if you're gay, how come your girlfriend isn't taking you out to dinner?"
Your smile falters again, and I start to wonder if I'm ever going to say anything to you that I won't immediately kick myself over afterwards.
"I don't have a girlfriend, actually. I don't...I don't really do the whole dating-relationships thing. At all."
My stomach goes from doing layouts to sinking like a rock in seconds. Of course you wouldn't be interested in dating. A girl like you could probably get any woman she wanted, any time. Certainly someone better than a part-time dishwasher, anyways.
"I uhm..." Your stutter pulls me out of my little wallow of disappointment. You look really nervous again, so I just watch you curiously to see what you do. "I do do the friend thing, though...if s-someone were...into that." You fiddle with the straw in your water and keep your eyes lowered so I can't catch your gaze. For some reason, it makes my stomach come back to life a little. Little tiny somersaults, barely even noticeable.
"I would like that," I say shyly. You look back up to me and the tiniest little smile curves your lips. But your eyes...your eyes take my breath away completely. They're so soft and warm and hopeful. It's wonderful and scary and magical all at once. "I would like to be your friend, if you wanted," I say again. Because I would. You're the most fascinating person in the whole world - I'm sure of it - and I'll take any chance I can to get to know you better.
You smile a little bigger and reach over to touch my fingers lightly for just a second, but it's enough to make my whole body tingle.
"I do want. I want very much for you to be my friend, Brittany."
"Good," I say with a grin I couldn't hide if I wanted to. "Then friends it is."