Fandom: X-Men/Criminal Minds
Pairing: Other Emma Frost/Other Emily Prentiss
Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men or Criminal Minds. I owe wizened_cynic for the concept of quantum babies. She does it much better than me. Title stolen from the song by The National.
Apologies: And now for something a little bit different.
Summary: In a different world, Erik Magnus overthrew the US government when Emily Prentiss was only twelve years old. On that day the course of her life changed irrevocably. This is her story.
Fake Empire 1 (Queen Emma)
Fake Empire 2 (JJ's Part)
Fake Empire 3 (Emily's Part)
Fake Empire 4 (The Mansion)
Fake Empire 5 (Kyougen)
Fake Empire Side Stories:
Emily's Notebooks 1 (The Christmas Revolution)
Emily's Notebooks 2 (Whore)
Tell me if you like it and if you want more.
My mistress did not call for me again until a month had past. Downstairs the looks of disgust my fellows gave me were superceded by mockery and ridicule. Everyone still stayed at a distance, as if they would catch my disease if they touched me, even on accident, but their words were cutting.
“She should have called for me,” said Cyrus, a broad-shouldered footman. “I wouldn’t have been sent back down so quick. I wouldn’t have been sent back down at all.” But he was one of the ones who would jump out of my way if I came near him, like I was cursed. And when he wasn’t laughing he would look at me in disgust, as if he could see mutant fingerprints on my body.
JJ didn’t understand why everyone avoided me now, but she didn’t hang onto me anymore. She knew better than to take my arm in public even if she still ate with me and slept in the same room. But she didn’t understand. When the others spit after they spoke to me, as if warding off evil spirits or spoke crudely behind my back, she would get angry, but she didn’t know what was wrong and she didn’t know how to fix it, so she would huddle in her bed and cry.
She asked me what had happened, what Emma had done to me. Had she hurt me? I said no. Was it hard work, like cleaning the downstairs bathrooms? I almost laughed at that. In a way it was hard, but not physically. And compared to suicide watch or death detail, like I had worked back in Moscow, it wasn’t even emotionally difficult.
Jennifer wasn’t a fool. She had turned thirteen that year although she didn’t look it. With her round face and innocent eyes, I doubted she’d ever look her age. She had some conception of what sex was by then, it was hard not to in the gossipy downstairs with doors that did not lock. She didn’t know why what I had done was different from other jobs, why it was more degrading.
It was hard to say, because I wasn’t the one who found it degrading. In fact, it was less degrading than other jobs I had done. In Siberia, in Moscow I had sometimes been supervised directly by mutants who thought of me as nothing but a tool. Many were in the military, and often treated their subordinates with disrespect, but I was lower than that, rank-less, less status than a captured enemy because technically I was not even a person. I was a broom with ears. That was degrading, being stepped over or on, having your piles or your buckets turned over because you were beneath their notice. It was almost the same as the way my fellow slaves treated me now, as if I were less than human. And human itself was already a low, degraded status.
The only way I could understand it was in the context of death detail, stripping the bodies of their boots and their brass, tossing them into pits in their underwear. It was about the body. The body meant so much to humans. It was probably the reason for our current state of slavery. For many mutants, it was their body that changed, and that was why we rejected them. Cripples, the aged, other races, even the battling sexes were all differences in the body, and reasons enough for us to hate. And when you touched a body, particularly a verboten part, you were touched by it as well. It was probably why weapons were invented. Hand to hand combat could only be done with an equal.
I didn’t know if that would make any sense to JJ. But I tried to explain it.
“It’s embarrassing to see someone naked, isn’t it?” I started, awkwardly. JJ nodded assent. I tried to skip past explaining why it was embarrassing. It was not something I could fully understand. Ownership didn’t really make sense in this world. We didn’t own our bodies. We didn’t own the labor done by our own hands. I couldn’t say that someone touching your body without permission was a violation of your right to control your own body. If it was someone besides your master, then it was theft, but if it was your master, it was entirely legal. “And touching someone naked is…”
“Kinda gross,” JJ filled in, wrinkling her nose.
“It… can be. And sex is, well, beyond touching. It’s not just brushing against the boundaries of the body, it’s going inside, breaking through a wall that even looking at is… socially unacceptable.”
Jennifer cringed. “I don’t understand why anyone would want to do that. It sounds… really awful.”
I laughed quietly. I couldn’t say that I had had a romantic sexual experience, even my first had been more experimental than enjoyable, so I doubted I would oversell it. “It’s not that bad. Not when you’re with someone you trust, someone you don’t mind seeing naked and who you know won’t laugh at you.”
JJ frowned and I could read her next question on her face.
“I think that’s why they’re disgusted by it. It should be personal, and even if it isn’t emotionally intimate, it is, inherently, physically intimate. Especially because there’s often an…” I gulped and went for it. “An exchange of fluids.”
“What!” JJ looked horrified and disgusted. A certain amount of gossip did not an expert make. “Did you do that?”
I didn’t meet her gaze. “It’s different from other kinds of work because of that. Even though everyone else works for her, everything they do with their bodies is to her benefit, their bodies are still only externally marked by her brand. For me… it’s internal. There’s no real difference. They eat her food, bathe in her water, cleanse themselves with her soap, but they can pretend that their bodies are pure and mine is not.”
JJ looked down at her hands. “Why do they spit in your food?”
I had eaten worse, but I hated it anyways. JJ played games with the plates, getting my meals for me so they wouldn’t risk contaminating hers too. It wouldn’t last for too long. If she kept associating with me, even her angel face couldn’t keep them from despising her like they despised me.
“It’s the same thing. They want some way to mark me, to own me, make sure I am lower than them. If they didn’t hate me for it, perhaps they would think I was special to be singled out for this.”
“Why did she choose you?”
I still could not guess.
“Why don’t you hate it? I think that’s part of the reason they’re all so angry with you.”
“And if I had pretended to feel horrified and abused they would pity me instead of bully me. It’s my work. It was what I was asked to do, and I like to take pride in completing my tasks well. Deny me that, and you deny me satisfaction. Others might be satisfied with futile plotting or laziness, but I am not like that.”
“No.” JJ gave me a weak smile. “I like that about you. I like to be able to feel proud when the faucets are all shiny. I wouldn’t want you to change that.”
“I don’t hate her. She’s a mutant, but that isn’t a reason to hate someone.” I had based most of my assumption of her character on the garbled story Jennifer had told about being taken from the brothel. In other ways she was childish and petulant, but I wasn’t about to blame someone for being young.
“She scares me. She shouts in my head when she’s angry.”
“She does?” I had been around her when she grew annoyed with a crew of workers. Everyone around me had cringed away from what I thought was merely an imperious look. I had always wondered why they reacted so strongly. “She doesn’t in mine.”
JJ looked at me from the side, hesitant in asking. “Do you trust her?”
I considered the definition of trust I had given her earlier. Did I trust her not to laugh at my body? I did, if only because the way she was so obviously attracted to me. And there was no way I could say I was offended at having to look at her naked form. It was just a pity that she only called for me once.
* * *
My fellows seemed to be trying to keep me away from her. I worked up in the gardens on the roof for weeks shoveling manure, then downstairs scrubbing floors and bathrooms. If they wanted to shame me by giving me dirty difficult work, they failed. I was never ashamed of work. But finally they risked sending me up to change the linens while our mistress was at court. She came back unexpectedly, to retrieve a forgotten item, and walked into her bedroom while I was attempting to spread the sheet across the bed by myself. My assigned companion had disappeared, revolted by the company and the location. I was bending over and didn’t notice that she had come in until I straightened up and saw her, still standing in the doorway, watching me with an indecipherable look on her face.
A moment too late I realized I shouldn’t be scrutinizing her expression and quickly ducked my head. She walked briskly past me and gathered a few papers from her desk in the adjoining room. Then she left, saying nothing to me.
It was that night she called me to her rooms once more.
“Moscow, the mistress wants you,” called Aaron, the foreman of the downstairs.
Somehow, at first, I was sure it was going to be a scolding for not getting her sheets smooth enough, but when I reached her room and saw her pacing from end to end, looking frustrated and irritated, I suspected it might be another reason.
Her wide-eyed expression when she noticed my presence was charming, as always. And then she scowled and cursed the air in vain.
“I don’t like this,” she said with a sharp frown. “I don’t like wanting this.”
“You don’t have to explain yourself,” I said softly, but she looked up sharply, surprised at my interruption. I thought it was strange at first, her resistance to her own desires, but she was so young, and in her world self-control was one of the most important virtues. Her father had used me to make a statement, tell her that he knew she couldn’t control herself, that even she would eventually succumb to her lusts. I wondered vaguely why he had chosen me for this, but perhaps it was merely a general statement, and he did not expect her to actually use me. But she had. She had broken down before her own principles and her father’s challenge, and that shamed her.
Her expression was pained. I doubted she even knew the words she ought to use to order me to serve her. I went to my knees. She gave a short nod and stood awkwardly, reaching for the fastening on her pants. I stopped her, my hand cupped over hers, and she looked at me again, slightly desperate and utterly confused. But I wanted to do it; it would give me the time I needed to adjust, to make myself believe that I wanted her.
In an oddly vindictive way I did. She could order me to do whatever she wished, her decision to use me could turn me into a pariah, but I could destroy her prized self-control and leave her a whimpering mess.
I guided her to sit and moved up her body, never standing over her, never trying to make my power over her explicit. I was there to serve her. And as I opened her shirt I tasted her skin. Her fingers curled into the blankets. She bit down on her lip and hated herself.
I had almost forgotten, after a month of mockery, disgust, and harassment, why I hadn’t felt degraded by this. But here, now, my lips on her skin, my hands sliding her pants over her hips, the distinct strain in her muscles as she tried to resist, I could not comprehend the idea that I could be any less for this when it made me feel as if I had the power to rule the world.
She lay naked and wilted as I stood to leave. She murmured something as I turned away and I was at the door before I realized that what she had said was, “Don’t go.”
I stopped and glanced back to find her looking at me, her eyes as vulnerable and intent as JJ’s begging for comfort after a nightmare. Somehow I knew she didn’t expect me to stay. It had been a request, not an order.
Shutting the door again I walked back over to the bed. Emma wriggled under the covers and held them open for me. I shucked off my trousers and crawled in, stiffly, not sure exactly what she wanted. The moment I lay down she draped herself over me, burying her face in my hair and breathing in. I lay there frozen, aroused, uncomfortable, and in mere moments I was informed she was asleep, if only by the rumbling snores in my ear.