"Brittany! Brittany, come on, open up!"
Brittany groaned as she turned in her bed. She cracked one eye open to look at the time and saw it was only 6:30am. Which wouldn't have been so bad, if it was not a Saturday. She closed her eye again and covered her head with her pillow, hoping that her friend would take a hint and leave her alone.
No such luck though. The obnoxious pounding on her door continued, as well as the high-pitched voice calling out her name.
Muttering swear words that would have made the ghetto kids blush, Brittany threw the pillow off her face and sat up. She rubbed her eyes before opening them. She looked around her to see sunlight spilling over her room and instantly, she felt her irritation lessen.
That was the thing about Brittany: she'd be as grumpy as that old lady with forty-two cats who lived downstairs the moment she'd wake up. But this grumpiness only lasted a minute since once she opened her eyes, she'd immediately take in the beautiful things in the world, like the sunlight on her bed, or her beloved cat curled up beside her or the photographs that covered the walls of her room.
For a moment, she was lost in her head with appreciation but the knocking brought her back.
"Brittany Susan Pierce, I swear on Cristobal Balenciaga's name if you don't open this door this very second, I'll—"
Brittany heard a door open and a second voice muttering something in a low but distinctively threatening voice. Then a door slammed shut.
When she finally reached her door and opened it, she saw her friend looking at the door of the apartment across from hers.
"You sure chose a perfect time to go mute, Kurt," Brittany greeted her friend.
Kurt slowly turned to face her, his baby blue eyes wide. He raised his hand, his thumb jerking to the door of 6A. "I think your neighbor just threatened to shank me."
Brittany smirked. "You think?"
Kurt shook his head, regaining his composure, and strode into her apartment. "I couldn't tell for sure; she was speaking in Spanish. But I have seen enough movies to know that when somebody repeatedly points at you and making that—" Kurt made a cutting motion across his neck with his hand "—gesture while scowling like the devil, it usually means that that person will come back with a shank and—" Kurt shivered. "—I'd rather not continue that thought."
Brittany let out a chuckle. "Nobody likes being woken up at 6:30am on a Saturday. Even roosters sleep in on this day."
Kurt eyed her doubtfully. "How would you know?"
Brittany went over to the counter to start the coffee maker. "Lord Tubbington told me. He's got friends in high places."
"Mm-hmm." Years of friendship had taught Kurt not to question the apparent wisdom of Brittany's fat cat. "So anyway. Brittany, guess what?"
"Scientists have determined the exact number of rainbow particles that unicorns store in their horns?"
"Wait, what, no! Madame Tibideaux is here! She's finally here!"
"Your monthly horniness fairy has arrived?"
"What—no, not libido, Britt. La Tibideaux, as in Carmen Tibideaux? She's only the greatest fortune teller of our time!"
Brittany's eyes lit up. "Oh! Can she help me find out if Lord Tubbington is ever going to find his soulmate?"
"Who cares about that, Brittany?" Kurt snapped. "She's here, and we can finally get a glimpse of our own future! Like if I will ever get to start my own fashion company, or—or how many children Blaine and I are going to have—no wait, which would be the best medium for my brilliantly inspiring life story: play, movie or novel?" Kurt's eyes glazed over as he began visualizing his autobiography in all media.
Brittany frowned. "I don't know, Kurt. There's nothing I really want to ask. I mean, I'm perfectly fine where I am." She poured coffee into two mugs, setting one down before her friend after putting milk and sugar, and taking the other, blowing on it before taking a sip.
Kurt snapped out of his haze. "Britt! You can't be serious!"
"It's Lord Tubbington who needs to know if he's going to end up with somebody."
Kurt's features softened. "Britt…" Years of friendship had also taught him that sometimes his friend uses her cat to project her own fears and anxiety. "Hailey's wedding is in three weeks, right?"
"Yeah, and she's having her bachelorette party this afternoon. It's gotten Lord Tubbington to thinking, you know? He's not getting any younger and I think," Brittany leaned over the table and lowered her voice," he's spiraling into depression. I found his baggie the other day; it's getting serious, Kurt."
Kurt pinched his lips together. Despite knowing Brittany's unconventional way of talking about her feelings, it never made it any easier for him to talk to her in her language. "You—uh, he really feels lonely, doesn't he?"
Brittany sighed, straightening up. She set her mug on the table and ran her fingers through her hair. "I can only do so much." She gave Kurt a quick smile. "It's just that he's getting all this anxiety at the sight of my sister's impending wedding, you know? Like she's getting married to somebody she loves and they're going to start a family and live happily ever after. I've told him before that it doesn't always have to be that way, that happy endings don't always have to take that kind of path. But, I don't know. It sure seems nice, having someone you're gonna spend the rest of your life with and have beautiful babies together."
"I mean, he's beginning to see it, you know? He's being surrounded by couples all around—you and Blaine, Rachel and Finn… even the forty-two cats downstairs have paired off, though I highly suspect that they're into swinging."
Kurt cleared his throat, seeing his chance to do away with the proxy. "There's you."
Brittany gave him a wry smile. "I'm different."
"You are, in a magical sort of way, but it doesn't mean that you—and he—will end up with nobody. There's always someone for everyone. Madame Tibideaux will tell you as much; she may even give you clues into finding that person just for you—and er, for Tubbs as well."
Brittany's smile was now genuine. "Thanks, Kurt."
"Now, let's get you dressed up. Rachel's meeting us at the Center in an hour."
Brittany pulled a face. "Rachel's coming, too?"
"Well, of course. I've invited Blaine along, too, but they have rehearsals today. Besides, Rachel needs to know how many Tonys she's going to win in her lifetime, and, more importantly, if she has to hold on to Finn, who has, once again, taken off to soul-search," said Kurt, rolling his eyes. "Honestly, I don't get why she still takes him back every single time."
Brittany chuckled. "He's your step-brother."
"That doesn't mean anything when it comes to my friend's happiness." Kurt pulled the mug towards him and took a sip. "I mean, for goodness' sake, somebody who still acts like a high school student when he's past thirty should have been a warning sign for her." Kurt sighed. "Anyway, I'm hoping that Madame Tibideaux will be able to put some sense into her head."
Brittany bit her lip. "I know you and Rachel are close, Kurt, but she doesn't really make me feel comfortable."
"Oh," Kurt waved his hand dismissively, "she got over you and Brody hooking up a long time ago."
"It's not that. And besides, that wasn't really my fault." Brittany paused for a moment before continuing in a small voice, "She makes me feel stupid sometimes."
"Oh Britt. Rachel's as offensive as Broadway divas come. If it makes you feel any better, I'll duct-tape her mouth until it's her turn for a reading." Kurt paused. "Even then I don't think she'd need to speak anyhow. God knows she'd give Madame Tibideaux unsolicited information about herself starting from when she was belting out show tunes at the age of two. Yeah, duct-tape it is." Kurt nodded his head solemnly.
Brittany broke into a grin. "You really don't have any bias, do you?"
Kurt winked at her knowingly. "I'm biased towards my fellow unicorns."
"We're here!" Kurt squealed, clapping his hands together. "I can't believe we're here!"
"Sorry, Rachel. I love you but this is for your own good. There's only a certain number of times that we'd be willing to listen to your drama with Finn. It gets old, darling. Besides, I heard that Madame Tibideaux hates it when people interrupt her when she's telling fortunes. Rumor has it that she threw a patron out when his phone rang while she was doing her reading."
"Wow, there are so many people here!" said Brittany, looking around. The Center was packed and she immediately realized the wisdom of getting here early. Within a few minutes of their arrival, the line was cut off and the people who weren't admitted were told to come back next week. Apparently, Madame Tibideaux was going to stay in the city for two weeks but would only be doing readings for two days, one for each week.
"I know! Oh my god, is that Vogue magazine's Isabelle Wright? I have to go and introduce myself, excuse me, ladies." And with that, Kurt disappeared into the crowd, leaving Brittany with a bound and duct-taped Rachel.
After a minute of awkward silence, Brittany spoke up. "So… the weather's nice, isn't it?"
"Yeah, I also like this time of the year. Not too hot, not too cold."
"Why, thank you. I think you look, er, nice, too… if you'd just get rid of that hot-pink sweater and those yellow knee-high socks. Kurt's right, you know; they just make you look like a diseased candy cane."
Brittany sighed. "Yeah, I know. It's still a wonder how Kurt isn't able to infect you guys with his good fashion sense. I mean, he and Blaine have been together for seven years now and he still can't pull him away from his bow-tie-and-tight-pants-and-no-socks obsession. And you guys have been friends for just as long and you still can't keep away from the toddler-grandma fusion look. But then again, I guess that's love, you guys getting to keep your own idiosyncrasies and him accepting you two regardless of how your outfits traumatize him every single day."
"Oh look, the line's moving along now. I do hope Kurt comes back soon."
By this point, Rachel seems to have deemed it a hopeless cause and she just bowed her head. Which Brittany silently thanked the heavens for. Kurt came back just in time, beaming. They then entered into the vestibule, and, maybe as a sort of apology, Kurt urged Rachel to go in first.
While waiting for her, Kurt filled Brittany in about his encounter with the magazine editor and how she had looked approvingly at his outfit and even complimented him for his fashion sense. She gave him a few tips on which scarf would look best with which particular blazer and in the end, she gave him her calling card. Brittany couldn't help but feel happy for her friend since she knew how much Kurt had wanted to break into the fashion industry, but had been having a difficult time doing so because of lack of connections. But at the same time, she also felt a twinge of jealousy as her friend was now getting a step closer to his dreams.
It's not that Brittany hated her current job as a photographer for the daily paper. She liked it well enough, but she just felt it was too constricting at times, being only limited to taking photos of stuff relevant to the news. She wanted to just take photographs of people, kind of like The Sartorialist, but less of the fashion (though she found the way ordinary people dress quite fascinating) but more of the looks on their faces. She liked photographing people's faces and capturing the emotions that flitted through them. In fact, the walls of her room were covered by strangers' faces, some happy, some sad, some wistful, some fretful.
But of course, those pictures weren't exactly in-demand, so she took the practical road that still had aspects of what she liked doing.
Kurt had lapsed into silence as he giddily texted his boyfriend, Blaine, about his encounter with Isabelle Wright. Brittany looked around her for something to do to pass the time. Her eyes landed on a Marie Claire magazine on one of the chairs that lined the wall. Despite the fact that she didn't exactly read Marie Claire—and in those times when she did, she just snorted at the articles written there—she thought that it was better than letting herself wallow in her thoughts. She reached out to grab it and started flipping through the pages. This issue was filled predominantly with articles on sex and seduction. But one title caught her attention.
What's Your Number?
She continued reading.
According to research, the average American woman sleeps with 10.5 people in her lifetime—wait, what? 0.5 as in one-half of a person? Brittany crinkled her brows as she imagined a person being segmented into two, first horizontally, then vertically. Hmm, she sure had a lot to see in this world. But she quickly shook her head; that was ridiculous. If she herself hadn't seen half-a-person, how could every other woman have? Maybe 0.5 meant that one of those eleven people didn't come, or didn't make the woman come, so it only counted as half. She scanned the article and stopped at the part that said that in America, 96% of the women who had more than twenty lovers have difficulty finding a spouse.
She paused. Then she tried enumerating in her head the people she had slept with. Artie Abrams, Noah Puckerman, Holly Holliday, Ryder Lynn, Brody Weston—
"What are you reading?"
Brittany was jolted out of her thoughts and she instinctively closed the magazine. "Uh… I was just—uh, looking at the ads," she mumbled.
Kurt raised an eyebrow, with a look that plainly said, 'Oh really now.'
Brittany flushed. "Hey, Kurt—" she racked her brain for something to say to distract him. "How many people have you slept with?"
Brilliant, Brittany. Just brilliant.
Now it was Kurt's turn to blush. "W-What? Brittany, that's a very personal question!"
Brittany's mind worked quickly and she turned towards the heavy drapes that separated the vestibule from Madame Tibideaux's lair. "Rachel is sure taking a while."
Kurt was suspicious at the change of subject but was also thankful that they veered away from the topic. "Yeah," he said slowly. "She is taking long."
Relieved, Brittany whispered, "Do you think she managed to remove the duct tape and is now subjecting the poor woman to an endless tirade about Finn and the Tonys?"
"No, I don't think so," said Kurt, frowning. "I don't hear any Broadway tunes being belted out."
At that moment, the heavy drapes parted and Rachel strode out, a fierce, almost manic glow in her eyes, which lost its effect with the duct-tape still on her mouth. She went towards them. "Mmmhrrmmhmmhnnmhrmm!"
Kurt cast a wary look to Brittany. "You think it's safe to remove the tape now?"
Brittany shook her head. "We should wait until we've all had our readings done and are miles away from this place."
Kurt nodded his head in agreement. "You want to go next?"
Brittany stood up and went towards the heavy drapes. What she saw beyond that was an immense dark room, lit only by candles that almost encircled the whole space, with two rows of them on either side of the path that led from the entrance towards the imposing figure of a turbaned woman sitting behind a table covered with crimson cloth.
Brittany's first thought was that this woman had a startling resemblance with Sister Mary Clarence, and she immediately began hearing the first strains of I will Follow Him.
Brittany made her way with cautious steps. The woman just looked at her with impassive eyes through her glasses.
"Come on now, we don't have all day."
At that, Brittany quickened her steps. When she finally reached the table, the woman gestured for her to take a seat on the bean bag.
When the woman still didn't say anything, Brittany shifted a little on her seat. "Um, I want to know if—if Lord Tubbington is ever going to find his soulmate."
The woman's dark eyes bored through hers and Brittany felt that her entire being was being scrutinized. She shifted awkwardly under the woman's gaze.
"Give me your left palm."
Brittany's left hand immediately shot towards the table. She gulped as the woman took her hand and began running her fingers through the lines on her palm.
"You are at a crossroads in your life. In the next few days, you will be making decisions that will determine if you are going to stay on your current path or if you are going to make that leap. Security versus passion. Hmm." The woman leaned over the table to peer over carefully at Brittany's palm.
"What do I choose? If I… if I follow my heart, will I succeed?" Brittany blurted out.
The woman just gave her a piercing look. "Your success in any endeavor relies solely on you. I merely point out the points where you are going to make important decisions. The decisions themselves and their outcome are something that I cannot reveal as they will disturb the order of the universe."
"Oh." Brittany bit back her disappointment. She felt a question simmering inside her but she couldn't bring herself to verbalize it. She dropped her gaze to her lap. "What about Lord Tubbington?"
The woman was silent for a while but Brittany didn't dare look up. Finally, she heard a sigh. "You will find your soulmate if you take another look at those who have once been your lovers."
Brittany's head snapped up and she stared at the woman. Her lips were pressed together. "All your decisions in the next few weeks are interconnected, so I advise you, clichéd as it sounds, to choose wisely and to follow your heart."
The woman let go of Brittany's hand. Brittany stood up to go, but just as she was about to turn and leave, the woman spoke again.
"And your cat will also find his soulmate in due time."
"…and then she said that the encounter I've had will pave the way for my dreams to come true! I'm sure she meant my encounter with Isabelle Wright!" finished Kurt gleefully, setting down his cup of grande, non-fat mocha. They were at the coffee shop across from the Center, talking about Madame Tibideaux's readings.
"That sounds really great, Kurt. I was hoping that she'd be able to tell me how many Tonys I'll win before I'm thirty, or at the very least, if I'll clinch the role of Eliza Doolittle in the upcoming revival of My Fair Lady. I am sure I'll be able to do it justice, although I would rather they stage Funny Girl, Hello, Dolly, or even On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, if only so people would discover that I am the heir apparent to Ms. Streisand's greatness. Nevertheless, I think it is still a very good thing for my career to display my versatility as an actress and my talent for accents; I believe that I could still very well play the part of a flower girl hailing from Lisson Grove and her transformation into a lady of high society enough to fool a queen! I've been practicing Wouldn't It Be Loverly every night before I sleep and I daresay I've outdone the great Ms. Julie Andrews. Do you guys want to hear it?"
Before Kurt and Brittany could say no, Rachel closed her eyes and pressed her hands together over her heart. She began singing.
"All I want is a room somewhere / far away from the cold night air / with one enormous chair / oh, wouldn't it be loverly?"
"Rachel!" Kurt hissed but she remained oblivious to everything around her.
"We should've kept the duct tape until we parted ways," said Brittany dryly. She took another sip from her cup of no-whipped chocolate. Kurt covered his face in mortification. "Should we leave her?"
"That sounds like a great idea, actually," said Kurt, rising. But he soon noticed the people looking in their direction, as well as the small crowd slowly congregating around their table. He sat back down. "There's no way out now." He covered his face with his hands again.
Brittany just shrugged and was effectively tuning Rachel out when she got to the last few lines of the song.
"Someone's head resting on my knee / warm and tender as he can be / who takes good care of me / now, wouldn't it be loverly?"
And just like that, she felt the pang again. Thankfully, the sudden burst of applause following Rachel's performance drove all other thoughts from her head.
Rachel stood up and began curtsying to the crowd. "Thank you, thank you. Do I hear a call for an encore?"
"Let's go?" Kurt whispered. Brittany nodded and they were able to slip through the crowd as Rachel began singing I could have Danced All Night.
When they were outside of the coffee shop, Brittany couldn't help but tease Kurt. "Are you sure you don't want to go back in there and do a duet with her?"
Kurt just gave her a look. "Although I still enjoy singing, I am very much aware of the proper venues for such performances." He sighed. "You know, Blaine took me out to the amusement park once for an impromptu performance, together with his boy band—"
"Yes, them—though I still do not like that Smythe and his weasel face and the way he keeps on eyeing Blaine like he's the last pair of Louboutins on sale. Anyway, Blaine was trying to show me the joys of such performances but frankly, even at the risk of sounding elitist, I just can't get the thrill unless I'm on a stage, and not just any stage, but the ones that are strictly for musical performances." He paused and a soft look crossed his face and his eyes took on a lambent glow. "But I guess the way he enjoys that kind of thing is rather cute and endearing."
Brittany smiled at the look on her friend's face. She thought of saying That's so sweet or You're really in love with him, aincha? but that veered too close to a topic she didn't want to deal with just yet. So she said, "And you don't find the cute and endearing quality when Rachel does that?"
Kurt pulled a face. "No." He shrugged. "I think that's just part of the package of being in love; the things you normally find annoying can be something charming when it's the person you love who does that." He paused. "Some things, because god knows those bow ties still drive me insane."
Brittany laughed. Kurt rolled his eyes in faux-annoyance but he was smiling. "So anyway, you haven't told us about the Great La Tibideaux's reading on your future."
Brittany bit her lip. "She said that Lord Tubbington is gonna find his soulmate in due time."
Kurt narrowed his eyes. "Lord Tubbington… or you?"
"Lord Tubbington," she answered promptly. Kurt continued looking at her, making her squirm under his gaze. "What? That's what I came to find out."
Kurt was torn between grilling Brittany further and letting this slide, but then he remembered how Brittany would expertly obfuscate her words when she didn't want to talk about certain things so he decided to let things go. For now. "Okay, whatever you say, Britt."
"Rachel hasn't talked about Finn," said Brittany, changing the topic. "I thought that was one of her reasons for coming?"
"Maybe she doesn't want to talk about it yet," said Kurt pointedly.
Brittany coughed. "Well, would you look at the time," she exclaimed, looking at her wrist despite the glaringly obvious fact that she wasn't wearing a watch. "I've got to go and tell Lord Tubbington the good news and I've got to get ready for my sister's party!" She leaned over to kiss Kurt's cheek. "See you around, Kurt."
Kurt forced a smile. "Bye, Britt."
As Brittany walked away, she heard in her head strains of the song Rachel sang earlier. She smiled softly.
Yes, it would be. Loverly.
Brittany was fumbling for the keys to her apartment for five minutes now. She paused and wondered if Lord Tubbington had found a way to open the door, so she started calling to him, interspersing it with meows and purrs, when she heard a door open behind her.
"I sincerely hope this isn't a prelude to a catfight with your door."
Brittany turned around and found herself facing her neighbor from unit 6A. 6A had just moved in two weeks ago and, had Brittany not been busy with work, staking out to get good shots of the disgraced congresswoman Sue Sylvester—who had been found guilty of causing intense emotional distress on her assistants through verbal abuse resulting in nervous breakdowns—and helping out her sister with the wedding, she would have come over to say hello. As it was, the past weeks have been hectic for her and this was the first time that she actually had a good look at her neighbor.
And man, what a look it was.
6A looked like she stepped out of the front cover of FHM magazine in her red plaid button-down—with only one of the last buttons actually buttoned, showing an ample amount of cleavage—and white cotton briefs that accentuated her slim almost-boyish hips. But it wasn't just 6A's toned body that had Brittany stupefied; it was her face, too, her beautiful face with dark brown eyes that had a mischievous light in them, her cute perfectly shaped nose, those plump lips lifted in a smirk, and the black wavy locks that framed these features.
6A was drop-dead gorgeous.
When Brittany just stood there gaping, 6A lifted an eyebrow. She lifted her rolled-up newspaper and began tapping it against her shoulder. "Like what you see?"
That snapped Brittany out of her haze and she felt her face heat up. "I-I… uh, hi, I'm 6C, I live here."
"Well, 6C, I hope you have informed your friend of the appropriate times to have a screaming match with your door."
Brittany gulped. "I… uh, I think you've already scared him away from that."
"Did I?" said 6A, raising her eyebrows in mock-surprise.
"Yeah, well, I gotta go in now." Brittany turned away from the woman and fortunately, she found the right key, so she was able to let herself in. When she was halfway through the door, she turned to look at her neighbor, who was still standing there with that amused expression on her face. "It was nice meeting you, um, sorry, I didn't get your name."
The woman just grinned. "I'm 6A, 6C."
Brittany blushed when she realized that she had never given out her own name in the first place. She opened her mouth to say something but 6A already turned around and went back inside her apartment, closing the door behind her.
A/N: Okay, this used to be a really long one-shot but upon the recommendation of my beta, MisAtentionSpan (who saved us all from the horrors of grammatical errors and pesky prepositions in this fic), I've chopped it up to seven parts. Since everything has been written out, the updates will be more or less regular. Oh and this story diverges from the movie a lot, save for some major plot points.