July 17, 2015
There’s a moment of silence before—
“I want to know everything by the time I get back.”
Five sets of eyes snap to her in panic and she doesn’t look into any of them for fear of what she might find staring back at her. She feels her heart begin to speed up, her skin prickle with worry, and she doesn’t fail to notice how all of them look at her like she’s about to explode, like she’s a bomb ready to go off.
And maybe she is but, rather than thinking about anything that might make that true, she just re-tucks her shirt back into the waistband of her skirt and grabs her jacket from where Sugar knowingly hands it to her.
“Well?!” she shouts when she’s slipped her feet back into her heels and they’re all still staring at her. “What are you fucking waiting for?! Get to work!”
They don’t argue, don’t question, and just get to work.
She just leaves, hoping that no one follows her.
When she steps out of the lobby and straight into a heavy shower of rain, it’s like a bucket of water has been thrown atop her.
“Fuck…” she shouts. “Fuck, fuck, fuck… fuck!”
Her feet shift awkwardly, not sure where to stand as she feels the rain soak through her jacket and begin turning her shirt translucent.
“God-fucking-dammit!” She hisses and her hands go to her face to grab at her glasses when she can barely see through them any more. “Are you fucking kidding me?!” she asks no one in particular. “Are you fucking kidding me?! Goddammit.”
A million things run through her head—a million things from wondering what this bitch has on them to bright blue eyes that were too earnest and unsettled her more than she knew anything could.
She should have known. She should have seen it coming and now she feels something deep and overwhelming in her gut because she didn’t.
“Lopez!” someone shouts from behind her. She scoffs when she recognizes the voice and begins to walk away from the hotel. “Jesus, Lopez! Wait!”
A hand grabs at her shoulder and she spins around to push it away but can’t quite get there before it grips at her elbow and another tugs at her waist. She struggles but he’s too strong and his eyes are too worried and concerned. Her arms wriggle until she can get them between their bodies and she shoves him hard at the shoulders until he almost falls backward.
“Don’t touch me Puckerman!” she warns breathlessly when he attempts to grab her again. “Do not fucking touch me!”
He looks at her and, with a scoff, he raises his hands until their defensively held at either side of his head. “I’m just checking if you’re okay,” he says quietly, almost disappointed. He tries to reach for her waist again but she shoves him away, hard and square in the middle of the chest.
“Don’t. Don’t,” She warns darkly before she lets out a bitter laugh. “God, what do you think this is, Puckerman?! I don’t need you to come check on me. I don’t need you to make sure I’m okay. Just because I fucked you a couple of times doesn’t mean you’re my damn boyfriend! I’m your fucking boss and I need you to fucking do your job—”
“What the hell are you doing?!” another voice hisses. “You’re in the middle of the street and it’s nearly four in the morning!”
Santana turns away when Quinn steps closer to them, umbrella in hand and an irritated expression adorning her face. She wipes her hand across her face and takes a couple of steps back to get away from them. They both look at her and she shakes her head.
“I asked for one thing…” she mutters as she slips her glasses back up her nose, putting the persona back in place. “I want everyone up and in the room by the time I get back,” she tells them. “I want everyone up and I don’t want anyone to follow me.”
“Santana…” Quinn interrupts and Santana stops her with a glare that cuts through her.
“Everyone, Quinn,” she warns.
Quinn shakes her head and chuckles mirthlessly. “I’ll give you fifteen minutes,” she says and Santana just looks at her before nodding.
She goes up to the roof of the hotel and smokes the rest of her packet of cigarettes before she comes back down to the room. Quinn is standing there pacing, waiting for her and she walks straight past her and to where the most relevant members of their staff are working.
“What have you got?” she asks once she’s bee-lined for the analysts. She clicks her fingers when they take too long to give her what she wants and they shove it to her so that she can check it once, twice, three times, just to make sure. Quinn steps up to her a second later and she shakes her head as she keeps checking. “I thought I said I wanted everyone up—Lauren!”
Lauren stops in her tracks and turns around reluctantly. “Yes, Boss?”
“What do we know?” she asks in a mumble, taking more data that the two nerdy guys hand to her.
Lauren gives her an indifferent shrug. “Not a lot,” she admits.
Santana laughs bitterly because she only agreed to Puck bringing Lauren along for the ride because she couldn’t not when she witnessed her dry, no-bullshit attitude. Except, now, that dry, no-bullshit attitude is really not something she can be dealing with, right now.
“So let’s try and fucking learn something then, huh?” she says before shoving the new pages in Lauren’s chest. “I want to know her fucking bra size by the time the sun comes up. You hear me?”
Lauren rolls her eyes but still gives her an amused “sure thing, Boss,” in response.
Quinn chuckles mirthlessly and Santana resists the urge to throw something, or get up and push her off the arm of the couch so that she lands flat on her ass. She moves around her bedroom-come-office, looking through paperwork, not even sure what she’s looking for, while Quinn just stares at her knowingly the whole time. It’s like she’s waiting for Santana to do something. Sometimes Santana feels like Quinn thinks she knows her better than she knows herself and she fucking hates it.
She knows it isn’t true.
“What are you thinking?” Quinn asks her quietly.
Santana straightens her back and moves her hands to her rest on her hips as she stares out of the window and laughs. “How did we not notice?” she asks the universe more than she asks Quinn. “How did we not get to him quicker? Who fucking knows what she was doing in that hotel room or why she was there, ya know? What does she have on us? What’ll happen now? That’s what I’m fucking thinking.”
Quinn breathes out. “It’ll be fine.”
Santana laughs, her chuckle dripping with terrified sarcasm. All this time and it ends because of some blond, newbie congresswoman from New York. All this work and it’s over because of some ridiculous idealistic woman she failed to recognize. It’s the worst feeling in the world.
“Do you really think that?” she asks Quinn, not really meaning to.
Quinn blinks at the question. Santana sees it in the reflection in the window. “Honestly?” she asks. “No, I don’t. Not at first. But I’m not giving up yet. Not until we know everything. There’s still a chance.”
Santana nods in agreement and swallows, nervous for what she’s about to ask, guilty almost. “About that…” she says, moving to sit down at her chair. She drops down into it and rests her knuckles under her chin as she rests her elbow on the arm. “I want to call Holliday.”
Quinn’s expression changes instantly, like someone’s turned her bitch switch on. Her head begins to shake but Santana doesn’t give her a chance to say no. Not yet anyway.
“You know I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t an emergency,” she argues. “You know I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think it was necessary.”
“No,” Quinn says and it’s blunt and quick. It almost hurts. “No.”
“Quinn… come on…”
“No,” she says more adamantly. “It’s not happening. There was one condition for my involvement in this campaign and that was that the life I left behind didn’t get affected in any way—”
“It will,” Quinn laughs softly. “How will you calling my boss for tip-offs not be affecting my career?! What if this all goes wrong, Santana? What if we don’t even get to the general election?” Santana looks away because she doesn’t even want to think about that. “If I go back, I don’t want to have to owe Holly Holliday anything, Santana. I want to be able to go back there after all this and have a clean slate…”
“Quinn…” Santana says softly and it’s as close to begging as she’ll get. “Come on… Just this once.”
Quinn shakes her head. There’s a pause and she shrugs. “You said that last time,” she reminds her softly. “And the time before that.”
“Then what’s one more time?” Santana asks in exasperation. “And this time I really need it, Quinn… I really need this.”
Quinn looks at her and there must be something about Santana’s expression that makes something change within Quinn. She softens and her shoulders drop a little.
Santana swallows and hopes she doesn’t have to wait long.
There’s really no time to waste.
At first, she thinks that no one’s going to pick up but then—
“Jesus Christ, whoever the hell you are, you have a damn nerve calling me at six am…”
“Sorry, Holly…” Quinn mumbles towards the speakerphone. “But we couldn’t wait.”
There’s a quick pause but, strangely, there’s a laugh after that. “Well if it isn’t Quinn Fabray…” she says jovially. “And Lopez, I assume considering the circumstances. I’ve been waiting for your call.”
Quinn shoots her a look and she looks away. She knows that this is going to be worth it because she knows that Holly Holliday knows everything. It’s like she sold her soul to the devil or the mob and knows everything about everything before anyone else. She knows that Holly has the information they need to make sure that nothing can ruin this campaign.
“What can you tell us about Brittany S. Pierce being in Des Moines about ten days ago?” Quinn asks as quickly as she can when Santana doesn’t.
Strangely, Holly pauses. “Des Moines?”
“Yeah, just after the Fourth of July weekend…”
There’s a sound of rustling and footsteps before Santana’s sure she hears the sounds of a computer being turned on. “Your boy had a town hall meeting there that day, didn’t he?”
Quinn looks at her with a look she can’t quite discern but Santana’s already flicking back through the scheduling book she keeps with her, just in case technology fails her. Sure enough, she finds the information she needs there and gives Quinn a nod that she affirms to Holly.
“Well, Pierce has been getting a feel for the campaign for the last couple of weeks, so she was probably checking things out there,” Holly says, matter-of-fact, and leaves it at that.
Santana leans forward in her chair. “What do you mean?”
When Holly laughs, all-knowing and wise, Santana feels like everything’s cracking around her.
“Lopez,” she says softly. “What do you know about Wilma Ryan?”
Santana’s eyes close and she sighs, knowing what comes next.
The first thing she does when she gets back to the room is check the clock. It’s barely seven am and it feels wrong for everything to be ruined so early in the day.
“What’s wrong?” Puck asks as he watches her fall back into her chair and remove her glasses. “Where’s Quinn?”
She pinches at the bridge of her nose and inhales deeply. “She’s making some calls.”
Puck’s eyes narrow and he moves closer. Santana pushes back on her chair so that she moves away from him a little. “Is something wrong?”
She can feel the first signs of a headache behind her eyes, burying itself behind her nose and into her cheeks. She doesn’t answer him straight away and just sits there, silently.
“Lopez…” Puck laughs nervously. “What’s the problem? What did Holliday say?”
When she still doesn’t say anything, the laughing stops and the smile falls from his face. He tucks his lips into his mouth for a second before she hears him clear his throat.
“Is it bad?” he asks and she can feel the eyes and ears of everyone around them on her.
She takes in a deep breath.
“She’s running,” she tells them quickly.
Puck laughs at that when she doesn’t say anything else for a few moment moments afterward. “So?” he snorts. “It’s not like she’ll get very far.”
Santana shifts and shakes her head at the words, barely quick enough for anyone to notice. Puck narrows his gaze. Santana swallows.
“Wilma Ryan has asked her to run in her husband’s memory,” she informs him. “Apparently they were friends and she feels that there’s no candidate remaining in the race that fully represents the ideals that her husband wanted for this country, so she’s asked her to run.”
Puck scoffs and shakes his head even as Santana sees Mike’s face falling as he turns away. Puck’s so clueless sometimes she seriously has to stop and remember why she hired him in the first place. “And what’s that got to do with anything?” he asks, looking around the room. “He’s just some dead guys wife!”
Santana rolls her eyes and lets her head fall back. “’Some dead guy’s wife’,” she repeats. “Some dead guy’s wife that just so happens to be the daughter of Patrick D. Thompson, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.”
Puck’s face falls in understanding in an instant. Santana smiles part in satisfaction, part in sarcastic disbelief. Her eyebrows raise bitterly and she nods at him.
“She is definitely some dead guy’s wife, huh?”
Puck purses his lips and it doesn’t make her feel better.
They all go to Santana’s room to talk away from the junior staff. Quinn’s still there and she sighs as she puts down the phone and looks at them.
“So, basically, we’re screwed,” she says as they all sit down.
Santana doesn’t react, just swallows and pushes her glasses up her nose.
It’s Mike that shakes his head in refusal first. “How do we even know that?” He asks. “Not to be rude, Quinn, but how can we even trust that this information is true. It’s from a journalist and, sure, she’s the Executive Editor of The Washington Post, but couldn’t her information be false? It could end up going nowhere… this Pierce woman could change her mind!”
Santana’s eyes flick to Quinn’s and find them looking at Mike sadly. “Her source is Cooper Anderson, the Brooklyn Borough President. He was asked to join her staff but he refused. He gave her the name of his brother and apparently he’s now Pierce’s new head speechwriter. It’s not false information.”
The room goes silent. They all look to Santana but she remains busying herself around the room, avoiding their eyes.
For one of the few times in her life, she doesn’t know what to do and she can’t stand it.
They make a plan.
It’s not their best plan—if deciding to not do anything for now is worth being called a plan—but it’s all they have right now.
They can’t even be sure that anything will come of this. Mike’s right; she could change her mind and drop out before she even gathers momentum.
She instructs Lauren and her team to monitor Pierce and keep searching for everything on her, just in case they have to counter-blackmail her like Santana guesses they might have to.
She feels the anger, that she thought was dissipating, turning into a deeper worry, a stronger concern and she stands at the back of Will’s first town hall meeting of the day, staring into space, wondering if it’s worth telling him about his potential competition.
“What’s wrong, kid?” he mutters when he leaves the stage to head out. His eyes narrow in barely-there concern and she snaps her attention to him instantly, smiling as much as she can.
“Nothing,” she nods, letting her gut decide for her. “Nothing at all.”
It’s not until later that day, when they’re settled into another crappy hotel in Manchester, NH, that she notices there’s this feeling in her gut.
She wants to ignore it, but she can’t.
She tells herself that it’s hunger or it’s sleep deprivation or indigestion from the crappy burrito Puck got her for dinner, but she knows it isn’t. She knows it isn’t physical, or probably even really there, but she can feel it, nagging at her knowingly like only a few things have done before.
That makes her feel worse because if this ends up like those things did then her world is going to be turned upside down, inside out, and she won’t even see it coming. It’ll be like an earthquake without tremors; a cloudless blue-skied hurricane.
She’ll be a wreck and she won’t even know how it happened.
She won’t even be able to question it.
The clock on her newest hotel desk says 2:47am when Mike knocks on her door and lets himself in.
“Santana, can I just get you to check over this speech?” he asks softly, not even looking up.
Santana gulps at his presence and narrows her eyes, wondering. His eyes are on the paper in front of him, the pen in his hand is still making corrections, even as he asks her to check it over. She stands without thinking and moves around the desk until she can push the second chair out of the way. He doesn’t look up when she kicks off her shoes and pushes her pantyhose down her legs. He’s talking away about policy and how he thinks their position on education still needs a little work, and doesn’t look up until she hasn’t answered the question because she didn’t even listen to it, too busy unbuttoning her shirt.
His eyes bug out of his head like this is the first time he’s come into her room in the middle of the night and she’s asked this of him. She sees him gulp just seconds before she takes off her glasses and then shimmies out of her underwear.
“Santana…” he mutters but she cuts through him, her hands hiking her skirt around her bare hips.
She shoots him a look and he takes a step forward. “I need you to fuck me,” she whispers.
He nods as his hands go to his belt buckle and she smiles in relief as she bends over her desk and presses her palms flat to the papers that litter it.
When he slips deep inside of her, she sighs because she feels everything disappear from her head, just like she wanted it to.