nike_ravus (nike_ravus) wrote,
nike_ravus
nike_ravus

Pain

 Title: Fake Empire Side Story:  Emily's Notebooks pt 4: Pain
Author: Alsike
Rating: R
Fandom: X-Men/Criminal Minds
Pairing: Other Emma Frost/Other Emily Prentiss
Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men or Criminal Minds. I owe 
[info]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) 


Commenting increases the speed of posting by 650%!  So tell me what you think.  Please.

I hadn’t expected to wake up with her.  I hadn’t planned on going to sleep.  I was just waiting for her to roll over, or at least shift her weight off of me.  But clean sheets and a mattress that deep and soft had a soporific effect.

When I awoke I didn’t know where I was.  There was light coming in through the curtains, instead of the dim twilight of my windowless room downstairs.  And for once I felt like I had had enough sleep, waking up naturally instead of to our foreman shouting and banging on the doors as he called us to work.  Shifts started at five in the morning and ended at ten pm, curfew at midnight.  Five hours of sleep was a luxury we rarely got, but that morning there was only silence, and I rolled over, seeking the heat of the body beside me.

I thought, for a moment, that I was still a child, waking up on a bright morning of a New England summer, nothing to do but laze the day away.  It was a part of my life I had tried not to think of for a long time, since before the revolution, because I had been happy then, confident and at home.  I had had a father and a mother then, friends as well.  I was not yet lost in a land where I would always be the foreigner.

Squinting in the light, I opened my eyes and saw her watching me, discomfort vividly written on her face.  I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the sunlight seemed to strip me bare, more than she was, tangled hair brushing over naked shoulders. 

I hastened out of her bed and into my pants, nearly toppling over as my legs tangled in them.  I felt sick.  I had overstayed.  I had taken advantage of the situation, of her vulnerability, and I knew she would not call for me again.  Honestly, what must it be like to awaken and find that your bed had been invaded by a slug, a vile worm, a parasite?

I did not look back as I stumbled out the door and ran towards the back stairs.  I reached my floor as the clock struck nine.  Aaron grabbed the back of my shirt as I hurtled past, and I slipped, sliding across the worn floors and hitting the wall face first, tumbling into a crumpled heap at the base.

“Where have you been?” he cursed at me.  “You missed curfew!  You missed your first two shifts!”

“I was with the mistress,” I tried to make out with my hand covering my mouth where it had gone numb from its impact with the wall.

“For eleven hours?”  He pushed his hand against his head, black hair spiking up between his fingers.  His expression was mildly nauseated, disgusted by the images in his mind.

“I overslept.”

“You’re assigned to the roof.”  He gave me a long, searching look.  I wondered what he was searching for.  Regret?  Humility?  Satisfaction?  “Report to the posts at midday.”

Forty for shirking was going to be my punishment.  I knew that.  It wasn’t unreasonable.  Aaron was fair.  He had been chosen as foreman because of that quality. 

It sometimes struck me as ingenious, the way they made us choose our masters and punish ourselves.  In the gulag they hadn’t done that, and once there had been a small rebellion where a mutant who was too free with the whip stepped inside an enclosure alone and was mobbed and murdered by the humans there.  All of them had been executed for it.  But if the one punishing you was one of your own, there was little risk of vengeance. 

I hadn’t been whipped since I left the gulag, and never punished for shirking.  Even the ones who hated me knew that I never avoided work.  So when I was called to the posts, a frame built on the stage at one end of the refectory, while my fellows were eating their midday meal, there were far more stares and whispers than usual.  Others were called up for drunkenness or laziness.  Theft was referred upstairs.  But five was the heaviest punishment regularly given.

When Aaron announced that I would receive forty for missing two full shifts, the refectory fell into dead silence.  I climbed up the stage and bound up my hair, stripping off my shirt, wrinkled from sleeping in it, and soiled from working in the gardens that morning.  Then I stretched over the frame and took hold of the farthest bar.

Cyrus was the one who wielded the whip.  In Russia they had used proper horsewhips, but here the whip was a long rod of Kevlar, as flexible as a willow branch, wrapped in braided nylon with a leather cap on the end and a leather handgrip.  It was designed to raise welts, but not cut the skin.  In that, it was usually successful.  Cyrus let it run over my back before he began, and he bent to whisper in my ear. 

“I hope you enjoyed your night as much as I’ll enjoy this,” he said.  I did not wonder if he were jealous or merely repelled by me and sadistic.

My knuckles were white where they gripped the bar.  The strokes hurt less if your muscles were tensed, but if you relaxed and then tried to re-tense, every welt would ache again.  And if you were too slow, a quick lash across an unprepared target could elicit an involuntary cry.  I did not want to cry out.  Cyrus hated stoics and would hit harder, in more sensitive places, for those who tried to retain their dignity.  A few men who were up here too often for not being able to keep their paws out of the liquor cabinet had leaned to moan and groan playfully at each cut of the whip.  If they made him laugh, he wouldn’t hit so hard.  But he hated me already, and forty was far too many to take with ease.

I could take it.  It was only physical pain.  But still, when the whip cut across my shoulder blades for the first time, my teeth clenched together as I bit down on my scream and I realized I had underestimated the degree of agony.  I would not cry out, I told myself, I would not weaken like that.  But my back was a blazing mass of pain from shoulder to hip.  Aaron cried out, “ten!”  The whip wrapped around my waist, stinging like a viper. 

My shoulders gave out first.  I was draped over the frame, too weak to hold myself in position.  The bars pressed into my chest, my stomach, my thighs, my shins and the lashing did not stop.  There was no untouched inch of space on my back, so the whip slashed crosswise over previous welts, turning throbbing anguish into screaming pain.  I tasted blood in my mouth and realized that I had bit down on my tongue, but I could not even feel it, the pain was so minor in comparison.

We had only reached fifteen when I started to cry, tears streaming down my face.  I could hardly breathe, gasping for air at each stroke, but they were coming too fast for me to breath out in anything but a choke.  Blood pounded in my head, and my vision, though only of my bloodless knuckles, swam.  I thought I might loose consciousness.  “Twenty!” Aaron called out, though I could barely hear him through the buzzing in my ears.

The strikes stopped and I spared a glance toward Cyrus, who was flexing his hands.  He wasn’t used to delivering so many strokes at once, either.  I did my best to drag myself into a better position, my welts protesting at every motion.  But I needed my feet flat on the floor or my already sore knees would be decorated with as many bruises as my back.

Cyrus raised his arm and struck again.  “Twenty one!”  My gasp was slightly voiced, almost a cry, but I had not screamed, I had not begged him to stop.  I could take it.  I just could not think that I had nearly twice as many again to go.  Each one had to be new, or the accumulation of anticipation would destroy me.

Although tired, Cyrus’ strokes grew heavier, not lighter.  Instead of slashing with his wrist, he brought the whip down with the full momentum of his arm.  It cut less, and stung less, but it bludgeoned already tender skin.  But the strikes came slower as well.  I could breathe.  It gave me longer to register the agony.

I could not bear it anymore.  I hung by fingers barely hooked over the bar, too weak to clutch it tightly.  I clenched my teeth and shut my eyes and wished I were dead.

“Thirty!”  And something soothing, a liquid, trickled down my back.  It was not cool, but the welts throbbed less at its touch. 

I did not know that the room, already full of silent staring watchers, went dead still at that moment, when my skin caught on the leather cap of the whip and split open, blood running down my back.  When the whip connected again and then pulled back, my blood spattered across the room, marking the walls and staining the audience in their silent horror.

“Hey!  Enough!” someone shouted.

“Thirty-five,” Aaron said, more weakly than he had called the rest.  Even Cyrus looked over at him, unsure of whether he should continue.  But he made no move to stop it.  The whip came down again, low on my waist.

“Thirty-six.”

The next one cut across the base of my neck.  I wept because I could do nothing else.

“Thirty-seven.”

Again on my waist, nearly following the same track as the previous one.  I hardly felt it.

“Thirty-eight.”

Cyrus caught my neck and the tops of my shoulders with the lash.  The tip came around in a snaking curve and cut my cheek.

“Thirty-nine.”

The last one was a straight shot across my shoulder blades, above the cut, and across another four like it.  It was almost a relief.

“Forty.”

There was nothing but silence.

*            *            *

I crouched on the tiles in one of the baths and JJ squeezed water out of a sponge to run down my back, trying to wash the blood off without touching the mass of bruising weals.  I felt too sick and weak with hunger and pain to risk soaking it off in the bath.

“Some of it’s dried, I’m going to have to…”  JJ’s expression looked more anguished than I felt.

“Go ahead.”

She seemed to whimper visually.

“Get it over with.  The anticipation makes it worse.”  That was a lie.  The scratch of the sponge over my open wound and tender skin felt like a cheese grater.  I couldn’t help the hiss of pain and JJ looked like she was about to cry.  “Please, just wrap it, quickly.”

Wiping her tears on her sleeve, Jennifer did her best to bandage the cut, but she was afraid to pull it tight against my other injuries.  “Tighter,” I had to tell her.  “Tighter,” until I could feel it resist when I breathed.  “We don’t want to be late.”

I dressed quickly to report to my assignment before the midday break ended.  I hadn’t eaten anything for breakfast or dinner, but I doubted I could keep it down as it was, not when I wanted to vomit every time my shirt brushed against my welts.

Aaron caught me before I went up to the roof.  His expression was pained and guilty.  I couldn’t help but be disgusted by him.  He decided on the punishment, he went through with it even when he saw what it was like, and now he felt guilty?  What use was that?

“Dinner service,” he mumbled.  “They’re polishing silver this shift.”

I hadn’t been on dinner service since she had called for me the first time.  It was light duty without much supervision and was usually given to someone who deserved a treat or had done a favor for the foreman.  He glanced down at JJ.  “You too.”

If anything the other slaves assigned to the same duties were even more skittish around me.  But they looked at me with pity and a little horror now.  It made me angry rather than appeased.  I had missed two shifts and been punished for it.  I had taken what I deserved and now they were doing me favors because I bled and cried in front of them?  I felt humiliated by their attentions.

It was also hard for me to focus.  I was hungry and sickened and the fumes from the silver polish made my head spin.  I kept on dropping things, but no one yelled at me.

They needed someone to go collect the silver candlesticks from around the house, and I jumped at the chance to get out of that oppressive atmosphere.  Even Jennifer’s solicitude was grating.  I moved quickly, gathering an armload of candlesticks and other silver items. 

I was taking the ones off the sideboard in the foyer when the front door banged open and Emma stalked in, sweat slick on her forehead and darkening her hair.  She was breathing hard and threw her court robes toward the coat tree with a startling viciousness.  They missed and fell in a heap on the ground.  Her shirt was soaked, and no one was with her.  A footman was always supposed to be waiting in her car and another in the elevator to escort her up and take her robes.  But it looked like she had run the whole way back from court and taken the stairs as well.

I froze, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, even while carrying ten pounds of solid silver.  I didn’t need her looking at me, not after screwing up so badly the night before.  I had let myself get comfortable, far too comfortable.  I had felt in control, and I had liked that feeling, so been willing to do her a favor, forgetting entirely who was the mistress, whose bed it was, and all consideration of my place.  She had every right to punish me.

She didn’t notice me, stormed right past, heading for her rooms, and I sidled towards the door to the kitchens.  My heart was fluttering fast, and I felt lightheaded.  I was terrified of her opprobrium and what would result from her attention.  I had almost reached the doorway when she suddenly stopped short and turned toward me.  She looked furious and contemptuous.  Her eyes were red as if she had been crying.  She advanced towards me, threateningly.

Don’t-“ she started, her voice sounding blunt and rough.

I skittered backwards, my injured back and shoulders coming into sudden harsh contact with the doorframe.  I gasped, dizzy and anguished, and staggered back again, into the open archway that led to the parlor.

She looked surprised.   I didn’t wonder why.  I swiveled to run, but the quick turn made my head spin in lurching spirals.  Whirling sounds filled my ears and the room started to twist.  A glinting waterfall splashed to the floor, warping like mercury.  I didn’t recognize it as the silver.

The world was bent in sickening curves.  I glanced over my shoulder at Emma, who seemed smeared and inchoate.  Her mouth was moving, but I couldn’t hear what she was saying.  I shook my head.

<< Emily! >>

The word plunged into my mind like an arrow from a longbow.  She remembers my name I thought, and everything went black.


Tags: au, criminal minds, emma/emily, fake empire, x-men
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