Being starstruck is not a habit that Brittany can afford to keep. She’s a reporter, a great one, and she didn’t rise to this level in her profession without knowing when to be passionate, and when to push her emotions away. She has learned to read any situation and be respectful of it. She’s learned how to toe the line and be unafraid to push and challenge a situation or a person. She can lull even the most paranoid politician or celebrity into such a false sense of security, when she inevitably pulls the rug out from under them, they’re left so blindsided they can’t help but give her complete honesty.
Brittany’s certainly had missteps, (she’s quirky for a reason) but she didn’t become the number one reporter at the Daily Planet without reason. Such habits have become nearly second nature to her. She’s seasoned and good at her job, and that confidence has given her the power to maintain a similar sort of poise in her personal life, despite whatever insecurities are still inside of her.
But when faced with Superwoman…
She’s not delusional enough that she thinks Superwoman is her friend, but they’ve run into each other several times now. And yet, every single time, for some infuriating reason, this poised, passionate, sexy reporter devolves into a smitten idiot.
It’s kind of astounding then that this time feels… different.
She’s actually able to keep her head. Superwoman is still the gorgeous brunette from before, but…
Maybe it’s the circumstances. They’ve run into each other in a perfectly safe hallway, not plummeting off the roof, airborne and speeding toward Brittany’s inevitable death. Brittany’s heart isn’t pumping so hard she’s afraid it may kill her with the adrenaline thanks to that near-death experience and the chase that probably occurred right before it. Superwoman’s gorgeous raven curls aren’t seductively floating over her shoulders as they’re floating gracefully down to earth in an intimate embrace. And, if Brittany is going to be truly honest, the lighting in this hallway doesn’t compare at all the sun’s rays that do so well to highlight Superwoman’s perfect cheekbones and plump lips.
It’s not doing anyone any favors, really. Mercedes may be super rich, but she’s also cheap (most rich people, Brittany has noticed, are. Which is probably why they’re the ones with all the money), and that means she’s lit her back hallways with those energy efficient gross fluorescent bulbs that Brittany hates because it washes her out and casts shadows under her eyes.
Or maybe it’s the fact that she isn’t Santana? Even in the face of Superwoman, Brittany finds herself missing glasses, a red dress and a sweet smile from an off-beat reporter who has gone missing.
The fact that Brittany even takes the time to think about all of that is ridiculous, but she has always been disturbingly one-track when she wants to be (her shrink called it hyper-focus) and though she knows she came out of this bathroom with a mission, now that she’s faced with those dark gorgeous eyes that seem so hauntingly familiar and that deceptively tiny body that always seems so imposing when Superwoman is flying, she finds herself wondering more about the circumstances of their meeting.
Was it hero worship all this time?
They’re staring, she realizes. All of them, because Superwoman called her by name and asked if she was all right, which means the polite thing to do would be to respond that she is just fine. Brittany finds that any words of reassurance are stuck in her throat, blocked by the odd discovery that a) Superwoman is standing in Mercedes’ hallway, and b) she’s doing so with Quinn Fabray in her arms.
Thank God Mercedes, though obviously surprised, seems at least capable of speech. “Superwoman!” Superwoman’s dark eyes avert away from Brittany and instead focus on her friend. “What are you doing here?!” Mercedes sounds oddly nervous, and Brittany realizes why when she swivels and glares at her accusingly. “Tell me you didn’t try and invite her as your date!”
It’s an accusation that seems to come out of left field, and Brittany blinks, momentarily offended. Yes, she’s got a crush, but she’s not a STALKER.
Superwoman, however, doesn’t give her the chance to defend herself. “Ms. Jones,” she breaks in with that husky voice of hers that usually goes straight to Brittany’s groin. “Unfortunately I have some bad news.” Brittany would be more interested in hearing what that news is, if she wasn’t quite so fixated on the way Superwoman’s palm stays comfortably spread intimately against Quinn’s waist, keeping the taller woman curled in tightly against her. Quinn allows it, welcomes it even. She rubs against Superwoman’s thumb distractedly, and it brings to the forefront of Brittany’s mind such a sense of déjà vu that she finds herself blinking back the mirror image, remembering suddenly the way Quinn’s fingers flicked loosely around Santana’s waist in a much similar way. “A group of armed men just tried to kidnap Miss Fabray and smuggle her out of one of your service entrances.”
The memory flies immediately from Brittany’s focus, as her eyes widen with the news.
“Excuse me?” Mercedes sputters, because yes, this is an unexpected turn of events.
“I was almost kidnapped from your charity gala, Mercedes,” says Quinn, in a voice that WOULD be her usual condescending, bitchy tone, had it not sounded so obviously weak. “By thugs,” she adds, like that is the most insulting part of the ordeal.
Brittany’s mouth twitches as she studies Quinn. It’s odd, the way she sees Quinn in Superwoman’s arms and feels almost grateful that it’s Superwoman and not Santana this time. It allows Brittany the motivation to look at Quinn with eyes that are not distasteful or jealous.
What she sees is jarring. Quinn’s hair, previously so carefully swept into perfect curls, is now disheveled and nearly messy. There is an overcompensation of make-up on Quinn’s left cheek that does an admirable effort to hide the bruise blossoming against the usually flawless, fair skin.
Quinn, usually so poised and perfect, digs her teeth down into her lower lip, an obvious attempt to steady herself because it’s clear that she’s trembling.
She’s never seen Fabray like this. She’s never seen the mask Quinn wears so dangerously close to cracking.
Brittany exhales slowly, turning to catch Mercedes eyeing her wildly, obviously unsure how to take what Superwoman is saying. “Is she serious?!”
“I’m afraid I’m very serious, Ms. Jones,” Superwoman says, and Brittany finds herself nodding somberly, lips pressed together as she stares at Quinn once again.
Yes, they’ve had their differences. Yes, Brittany’s never tried to understand Quinn or her position or why on earth she would think it’s worth it to closet herself for the sake of her bigot father’s career. But she would never wish this on her.
“Are you okay?” she finds herself asking.
Quinn Fabray stares at her, surprised. Brittany guesses she can understand why. “Yeah,” Quinn says after a moment. “Lucky for me, Superwoman was in the neighborhood … “
Fingers press in at Superwoman’s shoulder, and the superhero and the debutant share a quiet, unspoken familiar look.
Brittany’s oddly naked heart, vulnerable after being so bruised this evening, tightens in her chest. The uncomfortable feeling it induces wars with her itching mind.
There it is again – that FEELING that makes Brittany want to dig her fingers into her scalp and scratch out her frustration.
Is it jealousy? Maybe. She should be jealous, of course she knows that. She’s used to being the damsel in Superwoman’s arms. She’s used to being the one who Superwoman smiles at, but that’s stupid, because Superwoman saves a lot of people, and Brittany knows that she shouldn’t be special.
But she does feel it. Every time Superwoman scoops her in her arms, in those quiet moments before they touch the ground, Brittany feels like they share something intimate. Like they KNOW each other. They don’t feel like strangers; not when those brown eyes stare at her with this unsettling familiarity that makes Brittany think …
She doesn’t know what to think.
But oddly, in the space of an evening, Brittany’s discovered that it doesn’t quite matter. Not when her one-track mind has accepted and chosen Santana.
So… maybe a bruised ego? Maybe that’s what makes this uncomfortable? Brittany has always been proud, and she never likes to lose…
Or maybe she’s just a reporter used to sniffing out leads, and that’s what makes her think that there’s more to this than a woman who has just been saved from a kidnapping appreciating her savior.
She decides to forget it. Brittany has had enough of worrying about Quinn Fabray this evening.
“It’s kinda her thing,” she says, in a tone that is more flippant than actually snide. “Guess it’s someone else’s turn today to fall into your arms.”
It’s supposed to come off like a joke…
It just comes off as awkward. Superwoman, being a superhero whose job it is to save people (duh), looks completely unsure what to do, so she says nothing at all. Quinn just rolls her eyes, which makes it worse, because of course now Brittany looks jealous, which is infuriating because she’s just realized in this really awesome epiphany that she’s NOT, and it makes Mercedes staring at her with this furious glare that much more annoying.
“Quinn,” she breathes, fighting hard to get her composure back and redirect the conversation. “Quinn, did you recognize the kidnappers?”
Quinn’s throat bobs. Her eyes flutter for a moment, and then she slowly shakes her head. She notes the tired, scared eyes on the usually picture-perfect face.
“So you have no idea why they would try and take you?” Brittany’s voice is strong and steady, and thank God for that, because everyone finally starts to look at her like she’s human again.
Once again, Quinn doesn’t speak.
“We have no idea, Miss Pierce,” Superwoman says, in a formal, quiet tone that would sting if Brittany wasn’t trying so desperately not to feel a thing other than her usual reporter’s hunger. “That’s what the Metropolis Police and I need to figure out. If we don’t find out who they are, there’s no guarantee they won’t try again.”
That’s true. Brittany crosses her arms, lost in thought. “This is a celebrity event. Mercedes has hired more security than Fort Knox. How did they even get to you?”
“Ms. Fabray says these men gained access to her from backstage, right after her performance with Ms. Lopez.”
Hearing Santana’s last name from Superwoman’s throat brings with it an odd feeling, but it’s overtaken immediately by a somber moment when Brittany realizes that that is nearly the last time she’s seen Santana herself.
Suddenly the panic hits her so hard she can’t quite breathe. It feels like a clasp to the throat, choking the life out of her as she remembers the look on Santana’s face as she left her in the ballroom.
If they tried to take Quinn…
“Oh God,” Brittany breathes, because if that’s true… if that happened-
She nearly stumbles, standing on her feet only thanks to Mercedes, who notices her horror and grabs hold of her. “I’m sure she’s fine,” she says immediately, trying to be reassuring and failing miserably.
Brittany only has eyes for Superwoman. “Please tell me they didn’t take anyone else,” she chokes out beseechingly.
The unreadable expression on Superwoman’s face is anything but comforting. “No,” she says slowly, and Brittany’s knees weaken. “I only saw Ms. Fabray.”
It’s not good enough. Brittany fumbles for her purse, fingers shaking as she struggles with the zipper.
“What are you doing?”
“Calling Santana,” she mumbles, slipping her phone out and nearly dropping it in her haste. “Mercedes, this was an inside job, and Santana-“
“Brittany, don’t jump to conclusions,” Mercedes breathes, in that same voice she always uses when Brittany has an instinct that usually turns out to be right. “I’m sure Santana’s just fine-“
“You don’t know that!”
“They didn’t take Santana,” Quinn snaps, with a certainty that makes Brittany want to punch her. Brittany instead wraps her fingers tighter around her phone, teeth gritting as she turns away from them all to focus on the ringing. The sound feels like a taunt. Every bit of her is on edge, waiting for the moment that Santana’s husky, gorgeous voice will pick up to greet her, the way she always does.
“How are you so sure?” She dimly hears Mercedes ask.
The phone goes to voicemail, causing her heart to stutter. “Fuck,” she snaps, loud and rudely. Mercedes jumps, but Brittany doesn’t care. “Santana,” she breathes, the second the greeting is finished and the tone beeps, “I don’t know where the hell you are or why the hell you left me, but if you don’t call me in the next five minutes, we are never working together ever again. I mean it.” Her eyes close; she forces herself to breathe. “Santana,” she begins again, gentler than before. “Please call me.”
She can feel the heat of Superwoman’s stare blazing into the side of her face as she lowers the phone and stares at it miserably. Brittany can’t quite bring herself to care.
“Why would they?” Quinn asks. “She’s just a reporter, isn’t she?”
The casual dismissal of her sweet friend and her station is infuriating. She whirls, pinning Santana’s college fuck buddy with a glare of her own. “Seriously?” she snaps. “I thought you were her friend.”
Quinn’s eyes grow cold. “I am her friend.”
“Ms. Pierce, I’m sure that Santana is safe.” Superwoman says, and it’s the first time that Brittany can ever remember being this actively ANNOYED at the super-gorgeous being.
“You said yourself you have no idea why they even tried to take Quinn,” she snaps, because Superwoman obviously has no clue how bad this could actually be.
Superwoman actually looks taken aback. “Yes, that’s true but-“
“So if you’re right, and this an inside job, then the kidnappers have access to nearly every part of Mercedes’ house,” she explains, slow and clear so any idiot within hearing distance will understand. “And you have no way of knowing if Quinn was their only target. Quinn, who was last seen dancing and singing with Santana Lopez.”
It’s terrifying how easily the pieces fit.
“Oh Lord Jesus,” Mercedes whispers.
Every part of Brittany screams that it can’t be true, that Santana will come around the corner every second now, with those stupid glasses askew, telling her about the heel she broke or the way she got tangled in a random rope, or how her phone just ran out of battery because she forgot to charge it AGAIN.
Just another excuse, just another mishap, and NOT a kidnapping.
Brittany’s heart trembles in her chest; she dares herself to hope.
“Santana is not kidnapped,” Quinn says again, sounding exasperated as she says it. “Okay? She’s… I told her to meet me … somewhere and she’s probably just there waiting for me.”
“Oh hell no,” Mercedes breathes.
The chill that fills her is so unpleasant Brittany nearly splits her phone in half with the force of her grip. Slowly, she swivels on her heel the study the debutant. “Excuse me?”
“Quinn-“ Superwoman starts, clearly trying to be some sort of mediator.
“After the performance, I told her to meet me because I wanted to… talk to her…alone… and she promised that she would, so I asked her to come home with me to catch up-” She finishes the word in a squeak, as Superwoman shifts her weight and her hold on Quinn abruptly.
The chill grows even colder. Brittany’s fury is now without measure. It’s worse than the hurt, or it would be, if Brittany was capable of feeling anything at all beyond the urge to crack her phone across Quinn’s already bruised face.
“So what you’re telling me,” she begins, in her interviewer’s even tone, determined to get the facts straight before her head actually explodes, “Is that Santana agreed to meet you and spend the night with you, while on a date with ME?”
Quinn actually seems to shrink from her glare. All the make up in the world can’t hide the way the blood drains from her face. “Okay, that came out wrong,” she says immediately. “Brittany, it’s not what it sounds like.”
Brittany doesn’t care.
This entire evening, Brittany’s been thrown off her game. Santana Lopez, in her gorgeous fitted red dress and sweet melodic voice is the cause. She’s the reason that Brittany has spent all night chasing love instead of leads. She’s the reason that Brittany has been called stupid today, has allowed Sebastian Smythe to get the better of her. She’s the reason Brittany decided to fall in love.
Brittany was literally run into a bathroom sobbing as thanks for even attempting to open her heart, for acting against character, determined to fall in love with some fantasy version of her so-called partner in red lipstick and heels, who turned tail and ran, leaving her alone.
God, this is why she doesn’t do love. This is why. No matter who it is, people can’t be trusted. It’s stupid and ridiculous, and it’s another reason why Brittany should have brought a bang buddy to this mess instead of Santana Lopez.
And now there’s a story. A real scoop of a story that has literally been placed in her lap like a friggin’ Christmas present, and instead of being a professional, instead of being Brittany S. Pierce, Star Reporter, Brittany has become this heartbroken… fool.
Because of love. Because of Santana. Who smiled at her and asked her to dance and then left her to meet Quinn Fabray.
No. No. No.
Fingers gently poke at her, forcing her attention away from the blonde. It’s Superwoman, disentangling herself from Quinn and reaching carefully for her, fingers tangling against her, tugging her with surprisingly gentleness away from Quinn and Mercedes. “Or there is an explanation that doesn’t involve Ms. Lopez being a complete asshole,” she says, voice oddly tight in a way Brittany hasn’t heard before. She pulls again, keeping Brittany’s focus on her. “But right now, that is not the focus. Ms. Pierce, I promise you, Santana Lopez is safe. There was only one group of kidnappers, and for the moment, their only target was Ms. Fabray.”
It’s almost silly, the way Superwoman is trying so desperately to reassure her. Brittany sucks in an unsteady breath, and looks again on those gorgeous brown eyes and perfect face. “How do you know that?” she asks, and immediately hates herself for the way her voice threatens to crack.
But those fingers just tangle against hers, until their hands are swinging between them like children. It’s so comfortably familiar it makes Brittany ache. “Hey,” Superwoman whispers, with a sweet, simple grin. “How many times have I saved your life?”
Brittany’s mouth twitches with unwilling affection. “Four,” she admits. Four times she’s been caught when she’s fallen. Four times Superwoman has been there when Santana Lopez hasn’t. Four times Superwoman has proven herself steadfast, loyal, and dependable.
The opposite of Santana Lopez. Just today, Santana held her fingers just like this and told Brittany that she was here for her, no one else.
And yet, once again, there is no Santana. In her place is Superwoman, who bestows on her a reassuring smile that curves onto those gorgeous lips, so easy and sweet. “Then give me a little bit of credit.”
God… Brittany wishes she had given her all the credit to begin with.
If and when she ever finds Santana again, there will be no dance. And they will not be partners. Not now.
Brittany’s heart, and more importantly, Brittany’s CAREER, can’t afford it.
She takes her strength from Superwoman, from those slender, comfortable digits and the way they thumb purposefully against hers. “You better be right,” she says quiet.
“Of course I’m right.” Those dark eyes sparkle at her beautifully. “It’s kinda my thing.” The words strike a pang deep inside of her. “But I need the help of the star reporter of the Daily Planet.”
God, the irony how even hours ago, that would be enough for Brittany fall into a state of catatonic, blissful shock?
Currently, all her bruised and battered heart can do is thump painfully.
“Right,” she breathes, and remembers again the two other people in the hallway. With a deep breath in, she turns and untangles her hands from Superwoman, ready to work. “Mercedes, you need to call the police, and talk to Blaine.”
Blaine Anderson is Mercedes dapper, sneaky-gay head of security. He is a tiny hobbit-looking handsome little guy with dark brown curls and a charming smile, and oddly enough, serious fighting skills that he honed in his prep school’s secret fighting club that he is supposed to not talk about and does anyway.
He takes his job seriously, and would honestly give his life for Sam and Mercedes. Brittany suspects it has more to do with the fact that Blaine has a not-so-hidden unrequited gay boner for Sam than actual work ethic, but the devil is in the details.
“Of course,” Mercedes says, and already has her phone out to dial.
Beside her, Superwoman speaks up. “I’m so sorry that your evening has been interrupted to this degree, Ms. Jones, but right now we need to halt the party and begin the process of questioning every guest.”
“You really know how to throw a gala, don’t you Mercedes?” Quinn twitters, and Mercedes just ignores her.
“Of course,” Mercedes nods, eyes instead on Brittany and Superwoman. “Whatever you need, Superwoman. I want to catch these sons-of-bitches. I don’t care who you are, you don’t come to my house and try to steal anything.” Her nostrils flare, a testament to her anger, before her eyes float to the shaken debutant who leans back against the hallway wall. “Even her,” she adds.
The distaste is obvious.
“Thanks,” Quinn mutters dryly.
“Don’t thank me,” Mercedes mutters darkly, with such venom Brittany almost smiles. “It’s just rude, is all.”
“I managed to detain three of the men,” Superwoman says, stepping between the two woman in a transparent attempt to dissolve the tension. “However they all need medical attention and I want to keep an eye on them. Ms. Jones, can you please take Ms. Fabray and make sure she gets checked out?”
For her part, Mercedes looks as though she’s just been asked to swallow a goldfish, but she nods stoically. “Sure,” she sighs and reaches out to gently take Quinn from Superwoman’s hold.
Gay Fabray, for her part, looks no more enthused. “I told you I was fine,” she grumbles. “Can I please just go home?”
“You’re NOT fine, Quinn,” Superwoman snaps, and her tone is so familiar that Brittany can’t help but be thrown by it. “You probably have a concussion. Go with Ms. Jones, and don’t leave her side until I come back for you. Whoever did this is probably still around.” Her eyes once again fall upon Brittany. “Work with the police, tell them what I told you. And have them meet me.”
She’s dismissing them.
“Wait, where are you going?” Brittany asks, because she’s not ready for that yet.
Superwoman stalls, hesitating as she glances back to the direction she and Quinn came from. “I have three thugs to question.”
“Then I’m going with you.” It’s not a question.
Superwoman’s eyes go wide, and Mercedes, currently hobbled with an armful of Quinn Fabray, does her best to give her a murmured, “Girl, now is not the time to get your flirt on-“
Brittany’s shoulders roll with an exaggerated huff. “One of Metropolis’ most influential debutants was almost kidnapped and we have the guys that did it, primed and ready to be interviewed,” she explains with a clipped, calm tone. “This is the perfect time.”
Superwoman stares, fingers clenching as she absorbs that.
“You’re thinking about a story at a time like this?” It’s Quinn, and Brittany ignores her. Her focus remains on Superwoman, strong and steady as those dark eyes rake over her, study her intensely.
“She wouldn’t be Brittany Pierce if she didn’t,” the other woman says finally, with such a knowing, resigned sigh that Brittany can’t help but smile, just a bit.
“You said you needed my help,” she reminds her. “I’m a good interrogator. I can ask those men the right questions and get you answers faster than you can and with half the violence.”
Superwoman purses her lips. “And by helping me you get your exclusive?” she asks, because Superwoman isn’t stupid.
And neither is Brittany. Carefully, she steps forward, one foot in front of the other, until she’s only a foot away from Superwoman, entirely in her space. “Isn’t helping me out kinda your thing?” she whispers, low and for her ears only.
Dark eyes search her own, but Brittany feels it – that connection that tells her that Superwoman isn’t nearly as unflappable as she appears.
She has abs of steel, but she’s a woman.
And Brittany’s baby blues do their job.
“You can have five minutes before the police come, but you’re not allowed to touch them,” Superwoman says finally, and Brittany’s grin widens. “And I’ll be with you at all times.”
“That’s no problem.”
“Oh, I bet it’s not,” she hears Mercedes sigh, and pretends not to.
Instead, she remembers her phone, and the voicemail she left for Santana Lopez. Brittany’s smile falters, and she forces herself to swallow hard and turn back to Quinn Fabray. “If you hear from her,” she begins, as civil as she can considering the circumstances. “Can you please let me know she’s okay?”
Quinn inhales unsteadily. After a moment, she nods.
A strong, gentle hand presses lightly at her elbow. Brittany’s head lifts.
All Superwoman says is, “Follow me.”
For a moment, Brittany wonders at this beautiful stranger, who dresses in blue and red spandex and flies around a strange city to rescue debutantes and comfort broken-hearted reporters. This superhero who lives a life of service, who has no real name, and no real connections; who flies off into the unknown and only appears when needed.
She wonders what kind of life she leads.
She wonders who comforts Superwoman when she’s disappointed.
She wonders, quite possibly for the first time, who Superwoman is when the spandex falls away.
Brittany suddenly desperately wishes she knew.
But Superwoman keeps going, and Brittany, who must prepare herself to interrogate three prisoners before the police come and remove her from the scene, has no room to think of anything other than the story.
It’s a good thing, actually.
This way, she doesn't have to think about Santana.