A/N: I do not own Glee nor the characters within. Continuation of my Vigilante story/universe (so I highly recommend you reading that story first). With eventual Pezberry goodness, so if you don't like femslash, I'm sorry. That's just how I roll. This will also have hints of Brittberry, Brittana, as well as past Finchel and Puckleberry. I think that's every warning I can think of. If I've missed any, I'll address them later. *grins* Anyways, this is mainly an introductory chapter. Enjoy~
Note: Originally, I had named this story Vigilante: 2.0, but ffnet changed it to Vigilante: 20, and nah, that wasn't what I wanted. Because I had been agonizing over what to name this for an hour before I had posted it, and I can't make up my mind what to rename it, Vigilante 2: Untitled is what it is for now. If any of you has any ideas for a good name, don't be afraid to suggest it to me! :D
Two weeks had passed since the night Rachel met Panther. Having watched the daily news, picked up a couple of different newspapers, and searched online, Rachel had come to one conclusion: the civilians of New York City had no idea of the masked vigilante. It wasn't like the response to Spiderman or Batman, but that probably had more to do with there being no insane super powered villains running around, and she couldn't help thinking that was a good thing.
Sighing, Rachel rested her head on her hand, fingers cupping her cheek. Her eyes were starting to burn at the hours spent staring at her computer screen, and she knew she should stop soon. But the next link could be the one that confirmed there really was a Panther, and that someone else had met her. While Rachel didn't doubt her mental faculties or memory, she would feel better knowing she wasn't alone.
Searching the NYPD website had come up empty. While it was almost silly to think they would acknowledge someone who worked around their constraints, it hadn't hurt to check. Going up to a random police officer on the street and asking them if they knew of Panther certainly wouldn't have gone over well, and Rachel was not naïve. After receiving a call the day after the assault from the prosecutor assigned to her case to let her know that her attacker had taken a deal and was safely behind bars and there was no reason for her to be concerned anymore, she had felt uncomfortably like the whole case was swept under the rug. The reason being Panther, of course. Didn't want the chance she'd be in the public eye.
That determined dismissive attitude only made Rachel more convinced that Panther was bigger than she had originally thought. Obviously, as the dark woman had been in contact with someone through a transceiver, she wasn't working alone. Depending on the caliber of the technology used (there had been no way Rachel could have figured that out without taking Panther's mask off), that would take money, as well as suggest that an organization was working behind the scenes.
But the police had known instantly it was Panther who had saved her. Was that because of a signature Rachel didn't know about? Was geography the determiner? Or was Panther really the only masked individual running around? Rachel had been assuming that all of New York City was being protected, but again that was due to comic book lore. And that wasn't taking into account that maybe Panther was a crazy woman who ran around talking to herself and suffered from the delusion she was a superhero; the police could have prior experience with her that way, too.
Growling a little under her breath, Rachel lowered the internet browser and shut her computer, replacing it in her carrying case. Pulling the notebook she had set aside in front of her, she picked up her pen and started scratching out some of the questions she had written earlier. This was all pointless. Without finding Panther and asking her herself, or going to another borough and putting herself into danger and praying someone would save her, she couldn't know if a) Panther was working alone, b) Panther truly was some sort of organized vigilante, or c) Rachel was thinking too hard about all of this.
No, there was no question about that last option.
A soft beeping from her phone told her she had twenty minutes to leave for her afternoon class in time to arrive a comfortable half hour early. Sighing once more, she swept up her notebook and pens and highlighters, sliding them into her laptop case as well. There was no chance she'd come to any conclusions in the time she had, and there were always better things she could do.
Taking a look out the window to see what the weather had to offer, Rachel privately wondered if it was even worth it trying to figure out the enigma that was Panther. Biting her lip, she shook her head and turned away. If this fervor continued on for much longer, she was afraid she'd develop an unhealthy obsession, and that wouldn't do. She'd have to watch herself.
Having taken in the gathering clouds, Rachel briefly thought about how romantic New York in the snow was. Since her disastrous on-again off-again relationship with Finn had ended senior year, and the short rebound fling she'd taken up with Noah, she'd had no love life to speak of. A couple of dates here and there, all quietly enjoyable in their own way, but nothing had clicked.
It wasn't that she was avidly looking for companionship, and Rachel was quite content to be on her own, but New York in the snow really was quite romantic. And with the holidays (Hanukkah having ended, Christmas fast approaching), there was a sense of perpetual wistfulness hanging in the air.
She shook her head. Deciding to grab an extra-thick coat and make sure the pair of shoes she was going to wear were water-proof, Rachel made herself turn her thoughts to the day ahead. If thinking about Panther was useless, thinking about romance definitely was as well.
Five minutes later, assured that she had everything she needed, Rachel was on her way.
Five hours later, Rachel ran, literally, into Brittany S. Pierce.
Pausing just in the doorway of Virgin Records to look over a display of artist box sets on sale for the holidays and seeing no one she was interested in, Rachel took a half-turning step back, her feet a couple of seconds faster than her eyes. Before she knew what was happening, her elbow slammed against someone's arm, momentum forcing it to slide past and hit something far softer.
"Wahh!" the girl she ran into yelped, an elbow coming up in response and hitting Rachel in the side as she slapped her hands over the breast Rachel assaulted.
Stumbling back a little herself at the force of the likewise accidental hit, Rachel quickly regained her balance. Embarrassment rushed through her – what kind of entertainer was she if she didn't pay attention to the area around her body at all times? "I'm so sorry!" she started apologizing furiously, "I really should have been paying attention and – Brittany?" Rachel finally registered who the girl standing in front of her was.
"Oww," Brittany groaned with a pout on her face, rubbing her breast distractedly. "Rachel, that was mean."
"I didn't mean to run into you, Brittany!" Rachel protested, "Look – are, are you undamaged?"
Taking a moment to think deeply, dropping her hands from her chest (thank you, Rachel thought, as it was a little disconcerting to be standing in the middle of a store with a girl who was, for all intents and purposes, groping herself), a wide smile suddenly appeared on Brittany's face, and she leaped forward to hug Rachel tightly. "You can kiss it better," she said perkily, pushing Rachel back to giggle at her, then pulling her back in with the same breath.
Suffocating with her mouth and nose pressed into the other girl's ample chest and a little dizzy from the quick maneuvering, Rachel finally managed to wrench herself away. Taking in a deep breath and straightening her clothing, she looked around to see if anyone was watching them. Once assured no one was paying more attention than normal, Rachel grabbed Brittany's arm to drag her away from the door. "If you please," she grimaced, leading the tall blonde further into the store, towards the soundtracks, "I am going to have to turn down that admittedly, erhm, stimulating offer."
"Aww," Brittany pouted again, then smiled at her, "That's okay. I was just kidding, silly."
"Oh, good." Rachel breathed a sigh of relief. With Brittany, you never knew when she was serious or not.
"Or, you know, if you really want to kiss me better, I wouldn't say no to taking off my clothes and letting you. We could even go into the bathroom and do it now, since I know you're pretty shy about nudity and stuff. Though with that body, I don't know why…"
Rachel spluttered, shaking her head back and forth quickly, "No, that's okay, Brittany. I apologize, but I have no interest in exploring homosexuality with you at this time." Or ever, she mentally corrected. "And you should have more respect for yourself. Restrooms are well known beds of bacteria, as well as generally accepted as being hygienically unclean. And – wait! What? My body?"
Where she had been staring off to Rachel's right, absently playing with a lock of her blonde hair that had come out of her ponytail, Brittany's attention wandered back to her. She smiled, her blue eyes brightening. "Your body and a bed sounds fun, too! Good thinking, Rache. C'mon," Brittany grabbed Rachel's hand and started dragging her bodily out of Virgin Records, "We can go to Santana's and mine apartment. You don't have anywhere you have to go, right?"
Rachel cursed her choice of words. Of course Brittany only concentrated on what she wanted to hear. She tried to yank her hand back, but failed. Digging her heels into the ground didn't work, either; as skinny as she was, the ex-Cheerio was very, very strong. "Britt – Brittany! No! Let me – unhand me!"
Stopping in the middle of the sidewalk abruptly, making Rachel crash into her back, Brittany turned and frowned down at her. "I don't want to take your hands off," she spoke slowly and softly, as if she was chiding a child, "That would make having fun times not very fun."
"I…" Seeing her chance to distract Brittany from her absurd plan of kidnapping and molesting her, Rachel pointed wildly down the street. "Look, a frozen yogurt place. I wouldn't be adverse to enjoying some healthy food at this time."
"Oh?" Brittany perked up, "Think they have banana flavored?"
"We won't know unless we go in."
"Then what are you waiting for? Let's go!" Tightening her grip on Rachel's hand, the blonde excitedly pulled her to their new destination.
"So," Rachel swallowed the spoonful of berry frozen yogurt (soy yogurt, to be exact, which she'd been gratified to find the establishment offered) she'd grudgingly allowed Brittany to talk her into – "Rachel, you have to! It's like, your name. See? It's totally faith!" – "I'm surprised to find you in New York. Though I suppose I shouldn't be, seeing as I was remiss in inquiring about your plans after graduation. You could have been anywhere."
"But I'm right here. With you." Looking at Rachel with a slightly confused expression, Brittany tilted her head and looked up in thought, her voice lowering into a whisper, "…Aren't I?"
Watching Brittany pinch her hand, squeaking at the light pain, Rachel put her spoon into her yogurt cup and then set it down onto the table. Stretching a little to take Brittany's hand, she squeezed it quickly and let go. "Yes. You're here. With me."
"Oh, good." Sighing in relief, Brittany smiled gratefully at Rachel. "I thought I was somewhere once, but it turned out I wasn't." She paused briefly, then looked up at Rachel, "Do you think the Statue of Liberty ever gets lonely?"
Rachel blinked, stuffing her spoon into her mouth so she didn't have to answer.
"I saw this picture once, where the Statue of Liberty and Lady Justice were kissing. But isn't Liberty, like, gigantic? And Justice fits on desks?"
"I can see that being a tall hurdle to get over." Rachel winced at her bad pun. But thankfully, Brittany didn't seem to catch it.
"Oh, maybe they got their hands on some of that Drink Me potion."
Rachel nodded, "From Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?"
Brittany smiled at her, "Exactly! That's what I love about you, Rachel. You understand what I'm talking about."
Blushing a little, Rachel shook her head. "In your defense, Brittany, that wasn't quite an obscure reference as other things I have heard you say."
Brittany grinned at her, and Rachel found herself smiling back. Away from the stress of high school and glee club, the tall blonde was quite nice.
When Brittany got distracted by a text message, Rachel waited for her to finish replying and decided to try again; it had to defy all the laws of possibility that she ran into an old classmate so far away from where they had both lived, "As I was saying, I'm surprised to see you here, uhm, in New York. No matter the two of us running into each other."
"I know, right?" Slipping her phone away and picking up her own yogurt cup and taking a big bite of her banana and green tea mix, Brittany smiled at Rachel broadly, "It's like we haven't left high school. It's totally awesome."
Rachel blanched at the thought, weakly nodding along. She was very glad to be done with that particular stepping stone on her way to stardom. "Anyway," she said quickly, hoping to stop any trip down memory lane the blonde might be tempted to begin, "You say you're living with Santana?" That didn't surprise her.
"Yeah, and it's great! …Except when she gets mad at me for leaving the refrigerator door open or overfilling the bathtub. But I know that's just 'cuz she's tired and exhausted most of the time."
"Oh? What does she do?"
Brittany looked down, eyebrows drawing together. "I'm not sure I'm supposed to tell you…" she trailed off. A series of expressions passed over her face, and she sucked her lower lip into her mouth, chewing on it gently. Apparently coming to some kind of decision, she suddenly brightened, sitting up straight, "I can't tell you… But maybe Santana will!"
Rachel regarded her curiously. What could Santana be doing that she wouldn't want other people to know? Torrid answers started to enter her mind, and she blushed, shaking them away. How movie-of-the-week.