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)
Emily's Notebooks 4 (Pain)
Comments are worth more than cash
“Welcome back, sleeping beauty,” said a cheerful voice above me.
I squinted, because all I could see was a large blue blob. It was moving and… wearing glasses. The blueness settled, finally, into a furry creature in a lab coat. It reached out to touch me and I cringed away. The creature looked hurt, and I felt guilty. I had not had much experience with such physically inhuman mutants, but I had reacted to him the way others reacted to me.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled weakly, and lifted my arm slightly, so he could adjust the IV.
He gave me a sympathetic look, and I curled into myself, away from his kindness. He was a mutant. Why would he find it worthwhile to be kind to me?
“You need to take more care of yourself,” he said, tapping my nose. “I cleaned up your back.” I moved slightly. The bandages were new and skillfully wrapped. It didn’t hurt. “A bit of anti-bacterial and some topical anesthetic.”
“Someone doesn’t like to see people passed out all over her carpet.” He glanced back over his shoulder. I followed his gaze. Emma was leaning against the doorframe, glaring pointedly at nothing. With a horrible sinking feeling I realized that I was back in my mistress’ bed, exactly where I ought not to be.
“Thank you,” I muttered hurriedly, and tried to sit up, but a restraining blue paw landed on my shoulder.
“No, my dear, you’re staying here until that bag is empty.” He pointed at the IV, still half full of fluid. “Do you think you could eat something?”
I nodded. My stomach growled in accompaniment. He picked up a plate of chapattis off the side table and offered it to me.
“Lets try plain at first, get something in there so you can take your anti-inflammatories.”
It felt so incredibly wrong to have a mutant serving me. My mistress was in the door like a guardian. I was in her bed and being looked after. I felt so sick I could hardly choke down a few bites of the bread. But apparently it had been enough and the mutant doctor handed me two pills and a glass of water. I took them obediently.
“Low blood sugar, dehydration and blood loss are not a happy threesome,” he said, pointing his claw at me instructively. “Please try to eat regularly. Get plenty of rest, and ice your back to reduce the swelling.”
“Yes, my lord,” I said awkwardly, unsure of how to address him since I did not know his title. He laughed and patted my head.
“None of that now. I’m Henry McCoy, and look,” he pointed to the IV, “you’re all done.” He popped the needle out of my arm and patted it with a cotton ball.
I slid out of bed as quickly as I could without falling. “Thank you, Dr. McCoy.” I gave him a half bow and sped towards the door. My mistress stepped aside to let me pass, fixing me with a long cold look. I didn’t know what it meant, but it made me shiver, and I ducked through the door, ready to bolt for the stairs.
A furry paw caught my arm. Dr. McCoy handed me the plate of chapattis. “Better take that with you. I think Emma may have made a bit of a mess of the downstairs, and supper might be late getting started.”
* * *
The downstairs was dark and silent as a grave. I walked through the dim hallways, meeting no one, the fear creeping up on me from behind. Then I found the first body.
I crouched and took his pulse. He was still alive, just unconscious. I checked everyone I came to. Bodies were scattered throughout the halls, in ones and twos, a few groups that I had seen together before. They had been taken down as they were encountered, no chance to flee. They were all limp, slumped bonelessly, but breathing shallowly.
Then I reached the refectory. It was packed with unconscious bodies, spread across tables, collapsed on the floor. All of them wore expressions of pain or horror.
Cyrus was bound to the posts, his back a bloody mess. Aaron was hanging by his wrists from the ceiling, stripped to the waist, also viciously beaten, front and back.
I had seen too many people hanging, and I hurried to him, picking my way through the tangle of fallen bodies. He was breathing, but weakly. I cut him down, positioning his head between his knees. I cut Cyrus off the posts. I couldn’t look at his wounds, even thinking that my back had looked the same earlier that day made me want to vomit.
I looked out, over the silent bodies, the light dim and casting black shadows in their crevasses.
I caught sight of a glint of light on silk, and felt a flash of panic, irrationally thinking that my mistress had followed me into this dungeon. But it was JJ, peeking out from under one of the tables.
“Are you all right?” I went to her, careful to not crush a hand or a face under my feet.
She crawled out, nodding, and buried herself in my arms. “It was… it was so awful. Everyone was screaming. And they…” She pointed to the men on the stage. “They moved like puppets, and they started hurting each other.” She choked on a sob and pressed her face into my chest. “Why were they hurting each other?”
I couldn’t answer. I could only wonder if this was my fault.
* * *
I had asked myself once if Irina had seen that I would make the decision to send a few people to their fates to save the greater portion. I had never even considered the reverse.
Emma had tortured everyone because they hurt me. I couldn’t find any other way to understand it. She had been angry when she came in. Something had obviously set her off before. You don’t run five miles in ceremonial robes for no reason, but what she had done to her slaves was unprecedented… and what she had done for me was bewildering.
I found the chapattis where I had left them, by the first victim of her rampage. A few people were starting to wake up. I didn’t want to be there when they put two and two together.
Jennifer sat huddled on my bed, eating the bread. She looked at me, sadly. “I don’t understand,” she said, quietly. “Why is this happening?”
I pressed my fingers to my eyes. I had no answers for her.
“Why did they have to hurt you today? Is your back all right?”
I nodded. “A doctor looked at it.”
JJ swallowed hard. “When you didn’t come back with the silver, I went to look for you. You were on the floor. I couldn’t, I didn’t know if you were still alive. She was there, and I thought… But she was too scared to touch you. You were bleeding again. The bandages were all…” She looked up at me, he lips pinched tightly together, her eyes glistening. “I helped her carry you to her bed. I showed her… what they did. She went in my head to see what had happened. And she was so angry. I could feel her get angry. She shouted like thunder in my mind and told me to wait for the doctor and let him in.” JJ looked down. “But I didn’t. I followed her, and everyone… everyone started screaming. Her eyes were all black, and she wouldn’t stop. And then they started to hurt each other, Mr. Foreman and Cyrus, and I…” She scrubbed at her face with her fist. “I was happy that they were getting hurt like they hurt you. But they were screaming, and they still couldn’t stop hurting each other. And I… I hid under the table.”
It seemed to me that Jennifer understood a lot more than she gave herself credit for. I tugged out the collar of my shirt and did my best to look at the clean bandages on my back. I couldn’t comprehend any of this.
“If I were a mutant, I would have done it.”
I looked at her, confused.
“I would have done it for you. I would want them to all feel as bad as you did.”
“You shouldn’t,” I tried to say. “You shouldn’t want that. I missed work. I got what I deserved. I didn’t want them to be punished for treating me fairly.”
“It wasn’t fair,” JJ shook her head. “None of it was. You weren’t here; you didn’t just sleep in. You had to work all night. And then they punished you for it, like they always do, punishing you for doing the work that they’re too scared and grossed out to do.”
In some ways I thought that she was right. But she didn’t know how it had felt that morning, before I had to remember where I was and the panic and misery choked my heart in bindweed, what it had felt like to have enough sleep for once, to be wrapped in soft sheets, and warm, not dying of heat from living too close to the air conditioner exhaust vents.
Everyone knew how much being whipped had hurt, but I was the only on who knew how good it had felt to miss those two shifts, and wake up happy. I had cheated. My anger at them for pitying me had been unwarranted. Now that I had seen what they saw, of course they would pity me, and the blood would turn their stomachs. But tomorrow… I was so afraid of tomorrow.
I lay down on my side, setting the empty plate on the floor, and pulled the blankets over myself and JJ.
“Can I stay here tonight?” Jennifer asked, finding part of my pillow. “I’m… I’m scared.”
“What of?” I asked, absently, trying to find a comfortable position to lie in, so my back wouldn’t grate against the mattress.
“Everything,” JJ said quietly. “Everything today was so terrifying. You weren’t here when I woke up, and then… at dinner I had to throw up everything I ate. Then you disappeared again, and it looked like you were dead. And then she…” JJ burrowed into me, and involuntarily I thought of how Emma had draped herself over me the night before. It felt like she had needed me, needed something, more than the sex, more than release. I wondered if her vengeance would keep her warm tonight.
“I think I’m afraid of her,” said Jennifer, softly.
I slipped my arms around her, my fingers threading through silky blonde hair. It was impossible to distinguish hers from the other by feel. It was impossible to tell who I feared more.
“I think I am too.”