nike_ravus (nike_ravus) wrote,
nike_ravus
nike_ravus

Want

Title: Fake Empire Side Story: Emily's Notebooks volume II (pt 8): Want
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 poem The State of Virginia After Southampton: 1831, by Geoffrey Brock.
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 Side Stories:
Emily's Notebooks I: The Christmas Revolution
Whore, Pain, Fear, Death
Emily's Notebooks II: Nights Spent Listening to Noises

Original Fake Empire Stories


Please comment!

 

The dinner party was the first big project I was involved in. No one of great importance was coming, so we didn’t have to build a dais. Anyone of the rank of duke or above is due an elevated table. But even with the lower nobility the amount of rules and honors that had to be followed was huge and incredibly complex.

All I was doing was relaying messages, but Kurt made it easy for me to interact with the other mutants. Most of them found him unobjectionable, even if they tended to patronize him. But when he introduced me most of them blinked a few times and then spoke directly with me instead of talking over me, or expecting me to listen when they didn’t make eye contact. The only other slave I had ever seen them do that with was Aaron.

With my fellows, new rumors were circulating, some that I had bewitched him, others that I had offered him my services when Emma had thrown me out.

Aaron only rarely brought his work into the refectory; he was more likely to skip meals. But as the party approached and more and more details needed to be sorted, he gave in, and brought his notes to work on while he ate. I was heading towards the corner to eat with JJ when he called me out in the middle of the refectory.

“Moscow! Grab a pen. I need you to take notes.”

A ripple of silence spread through the room as I took the seat across from him and started writing the list of instructions he needed relayed on.

Cyrus was the one who looked at us the hardest. His back had taken a long time to heal, and he had been humiliated by being put on a lighter labor crew. He was the one most likely to wonder aloud within my hearing how much Aaron was paying for me. But everyone else saw Aaron’s actions as a vote of confidence. With a few well-placed rumors that I was the one who had rejected our mistress for what she did (thanks to Jennifer, although I said nothing to support them, and I considered anyone who believed it and didn’t question why I was still alive to be an idiot), it became easier to interact with my fellows. Many still shied away if I got too close, but I was back from Coventry. The silent treatment was finally over.

The only real trouble with my new job was that I was always around and available whenever a task was reported incomplete. The only tasks ever reported such involved Emma’s rooms, and a cleaning crew fleeing before she returned.

The first time Aaron looked up at me pathetically, and asked, “do you think you could just have a look around? Make sure it’s presentable?”

I assented and did so. A few things needed straightening. The sheets could last another day. The trash by her desk was overflowing. Someone was going to have to see to the grout on the tiles in the bath eventually, but I’d tell Aaron to put it on his list of things to do after the dinner party.

I emptied the trash and realized that it was full of botched letters of invitation to the party. They were all addressed to the same person, a woman’s name. I felt the blood drain from my face, but I could not have told you why. Not then. Not yet.

I rarely ran into her, and if I did, I always remembered to drop my eyes. She never looked in my direction.

* * *

The day of the party I was bringing up the pile of finely written menus to the cook. She ignored my offering, grabbed my shoulders and shook me.

“There aren’t enough servers!” she squeaked. “The footmen have to manage the doors at the beginning, and there’s no one to serve drinks. Your foreman needs to send me three people, trustworthy people, who won’t make a spectacle of their…” she gave me a sharp look and loosed my shoulders, “of their human-ness, and have some idea how to act around their betters.”

“But it’s a uniform job,” I stumbled out, still jolted by the force of the petite woman’s shaking.

“I know,” she gave me a sharp look. “I want face paint. As mutant as possible. The guests need to feel comfortable.”

I ran to give Aaron these impossible directives, and he sank into his seat with a horrified expression. “Three?”

Three humans expected to be on their best behavior in a room full of mutants when we couldn’t even get the cleaning crews into Emma’s rooms while she was in the building? I didn’t even want to consider what would happen if he chose someone who was wrong. Emma could feel their hate. What could these guests do?

“Is there anyone who you think could work with you?”

“With me?” It took a long second before I realized what he meant. “You want me-”

“Of course,” he said, as if he were surprised I even asked. “But who else?”

“Me?”

He gave me a cross look. “Why do you think I need you? You don’t recoil in fear when I ask you to speak to a mutant. Can you think of anyone who could hold themselves together in that situation?”

Perhaps, “Jennifer?” I offered.

He blinked. “Angel?”

JJ never had any problem with her nickname. Neither did anyone else. I nodded.

“That’s three.”

“It is?”

He pushed back his papers. “It will make things difficult. But I ought to be nearby if things get out of hand. Go ask the housekeeper for face paints and uniforms, and if you can, inform the heads of the crews where I’ll be at the beginning of the party.”

After a hastily bolted dinner I took the maquillage, uniforms, and JJ up into the worst guest bedroom’s bathroom. It was private and had a mirror, unlike our room, and getting caught making up like mutants in the slave bathroom was a recipe for disaster.

Jennifer found the idea thrilling, terrifying, and was far too hyper than was comforting, so I lectured her about professionalism and the results of unprofessional behavior (i.e. death). It was pointless in the face of maquillage.

At that time, the style of dress was particularly dramatic. Looking human was practically a crime. Lip rouge was never red. Shades of blue and silver were far more popular. Large patches of color, even fake scales and fur were in style.

Before the box was even fully open, JJ was lunging for the case of shimmering gold rouge and started to smear it across her face.

“It’s been so long since I’ve done this! My big sister taught me how.”

I had been forced into dresses to go to boring grown-up parties my entire childhood, and I had been repelled by the idea of make up since it just increased the preparation time by at least a half an hour. In fact, as Jennifer skillfully manipulated the instruments, I realized that I had no ability to do this for myself.

Jennifer’s mouth was glittering with gold paint, and she slowly brushed white paint across her eyelids and then outlined it with more gold. She pressed tiny stick-on stars in a cloud on one cheek, and then shoved her stool over to me and turned her back.

“Braid my hair,” she instructed. The follow-up instructions informed me that she wanted tiny braids scattered throughout her hair, and then she gave me a handful of golden snakes that were meant to be clipped in. When I finished, she twisted her hair up, snakes and all, then turned towards me. She looked shockingly adult like that, and if I had passed her on the street, I would have not doubted that she was a mutant. For a moment I was afraid of her, and it was only when she laughed that I recognized her as the Jennifer I knew.

Then she grinned and said, “Your turn.” And I was even more afraid.

I was very attracted to her as well, and it made me feel very uncomfortable. To a certain extent she was my little sister, and she was thirteen. I also didn’t want to think about the fact that the more she looked like a mutant, the more attracted I was. I bit down on the feeling because this wasn’t the time or place. Instead an inexplicable loneliness rose up in my chest. I had more friends, more people to interact with than I had ever had, but I couldn’t help feeling un-centered and alone.

I had no opinion on what she did to me. JJ got very exited over something dark purple and the way it went with the sparkly metallic bronze, and I just hoped it would come off eventually. The third time she started to undo my hair with a new expression of gleeful insanity in her eyes I slapped her hands away and told her that we needed to make sure there wasn’t anything else that needed to be done.

Aaron had made himself a pale green with frog-like spots. I was impressed. He set his hand on my arm and gave me that look that clearly said I was not going to like the next words out of his mouth.

“The mistress…”

I waved him away and started for the stairs. Sometimes I felt like the only competent person there.

When my hand touched her door, I couldn’t push it open. The rough white paint under my fingers was too familiar. The fluttering of fear in my chest, knowing that she was inside. I didn’t want to go in. But I breathed deeply and stepped forward. Turning back was certain to have repercussions; moving ahead was only a risk.

The room was dim, the shades pulled, and the only light was coming in through the cracks. The bedside lamp that had always been the only source of illumination when I had met her there before was out. Her bedroom was empty of people, but full of ghosts.

In that room I was always on my knees.

I looked into the study, also empty, and then heard a soft noise coming from the bathroom. The light was off inside, so I hadn’t thought to check there, but the door was open.

Emma was inside, staring into the shadowed mirror, touching her face. Her fingers ran down her crooked nose, molding it futilely into a better shape. She sighed, tucking her lower lip between her teeth.

She was dressed only in her underwear, a half-corset bustier, underpants and stockings, all white. Her face was made up with shimmering white paint, eyelids, lips, even the line of her cheekbones outlined. It gave her face a shell of metallic hardness, but with the half-critical half-resigned way she was watching her reflection in the mirror, she looked like a virgin bride on her wedding night.

I was still so afraid of her. I couldn’t control it. It was an automatic reaction. And the fear, the physical tension and fluttering panic made it even more inexplicable that I wanted her as much as I did. I wanted to smear the colors on her face, punish her for what she had done. But perhaps all I wanted was to feel the way I had with her beneath me. With her legs wrapped around my shoulders I could destroy her. And if I were the master, I could feel free.

If the power I felt had been real rather than imagined, it would have only been more attractive.

She looked up, catching sight of me in the mirror and turned swiftly, her hands closing into fists. I could not move nor speak although I tried. I thought I was paralyzed with fear until I realized the wall of ice that had clamped down on my mind meant that she was controlling me. The flood of panic that swept through me at that realization was only more impotent than the one before. Her mouth moved as if to start the words “who are you?” and then she stopped. Her eyes flashed with recognition, but did not seem to be focused on me. The cold clench on my thoughts slipped away. And then she looked at me, cocking her head curiously, her mouth drawing into a smirk as she eyed me with an incredulous expression. Apparently whatever JJ had done was enough to make me unrecognizable at first glance and look enough like a mutant to be taken for a trespasser.

She didn’t ask me why I was dressed so strangely. She just walked past me, disregarding my presence. Her dress was spread out on her bed, also white and shimmering with glossy threads woven into reflective patterns.

<< Put it on me. >> She spoke straight into my mind, not breaking the silence of the room.

My fingers were clumsy and the fastenings were complicated and difficult to reach. Sometimes I would brush against the bare skin of her back on accident. The shock of it usually made me miss a hook and would confuse me for a few moments until I could breath a few gasps of air that were not imbued with her scent and recalibrate. I expected her to jump into my mind every time, punish me for my incompetence, read the thoughts I couldn’t keep from thinking, but she didn’t.

I finally finished it. She didn’t look at me. << You can go. >> I sidled backwards out of the room, watching her. I couldn’t stop myself from wondering if she would need me to help take it off.

               I hated myself for wanting it.

 

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