Summary: In a world where sex slavery is the norm, Santana's sold to a wealthy man who hopes that Santana's company can help mend his daughter's broken spirit. Can a master who doesn't believe in the slave trade and a slave who only wants to be loved let go of their troubled pasts?
Warnings: Sex slavery, mentions of rape and abuse
Spoilers: No spoilers
Lima, Ohio isn't a particularly large town. One could easily run from one city limit to the other and back again if they so wished.
Lima isn't a large town by any means, so when Santana Lopez is dragged into the auction house, she's surprised at how crowded the building is. It looks like everyone in Lima – plus the surrounding towns – is packed into the tiny space. It's still early, the blazing sun barely peeking from the horizon, but she's already caught wind of three violent outbreaks amongst the patrons.
Santana hopes the auction won't take long; it's already stifling in the auction house.
Santana watches the auctioneer as he fiddles with the dials on his amplifier, then casts her eyes to the shackles around her wrists as a guard strolls by; she can feel his gaze linger on her chest, and she tries to fold her arms around herself as much as possible. She'd only been given a pair of black sweat pants that were a size too large and a white t-shirt that was a size too small. Unfortunately, she hadn't been able to get close enough to the front of the line to receive undergarments. Hell, she wouldn't even have a shirt at all if the boy in front of her hadn't been gracious enough to give up his – the very last one in the trunk.
"Good morning, everyone!" Santana winces as the speakers squeal for a few agonizingly long seconds. The grating noise is enough to quiet the chatter of the crowd, and the auctioneer continues. "For those of you who are new around here, my name is William Schuester, and I have had the pleasure of being Lima's Slave Auctioneer for five years now."
There's applause before Schuester carries on, rattling off a bit of Lima history, including a short list of auction donors, including – but not limited to – Sue Sylvester, Shelby Corcoran, Brian Pierce, and Michael and Julia Chang.
As the named guests stand to wave and receive a collected applause, Santana chances a glance out at the crowd. She vaguely remembers some of those who are standing. The Changs are very wealthy, and Santana's fairly certain that the couple only attends auctions for the networking opportunities. Today, though, their son sits fidgeting beside them, and Santana suspects he's here to make his very first purchase. Good for him, she thinks bitterly.
Shelby and Sue seem to just enjoy the attention that they receive; Santana tells herself not to fall for the façade. Shelby's a tough negotiator with a domineering personality and a heart of ice; Santana's heard through the grapevine that Sue collects slaves like trophies, and that she has close to a hundred of them. Santana's not sure she believes the last part, but she supposes anything is possible.
There are a handful of others, but Santana finds her eyes drawn to Brian Pierce. Three times she'd been on various auction blocks, and every time he was there, observing but never bidding. He's tall and lean, but impressive muscles bulge under his tight blue shirt. His brutal, violent reputation reaches to all parts of the country, instilling fear in those who had never even met or been owned by the man. From what Santana's heard, he sounds more awful than the worst master she'd ever had. The blonde beside her – Quinn, Santana thinks – trembles, and she just knows that her eyes are on Pierce also. He's every slave's worst nightmare.
Santana flinches as a guard stomps by to shove her head down roughly; beside her, he does the same to Quinn.
Through the hazy blanket of panic she feels enveloping her, Santana hears Schuester finally start the selling portion of the auction. A small amount of slaves are sold back to the auction block. A scowling man in a wheelchair sells a girl by the name of Tina; Noah Puckerman – Santana remembers his name because he was always exceptionally flirtatious and kind to all of the slaves – sells a girl whose name Santana doesn't catch; someone takes over long enough for Schuester to sell his own slave, a remarkably clean woman named Emma.
Schuester steps back up, and the buying portion of the auction commences; Santana's stomach begins to knot with dread. She's never had any luck with masters. She can only hope that her black eye and busted lip will keep anyone from buying her today; nobody likes to spend money on battered property.
Buying goes in alphabetical order by slave last name. Those whose last names are unknown go first and are quickly swept up. Tina is pulled to the front again, and is immediately sold to the Chang's son, who forgoes the standard collar and leash and leads Tina through the doors by her hand.
Santana sighs sadly. It's only wishful thinking to be treated in such a chivalrous way. Masters like Chang are few and far between.
Further down the line, Sam is bought and hauled away by Dr. and Mrs. Jones, a "good luck in college" gift for their daughter. On the long drive to the auction house, sitting in the back of a cramped cargo truck, she and Sam had really clicked. He had been the only one to get Santana to even so much as look up from the floor with his goofy charm. Santana prays that he's treated well. Beside her, Quinn is shoved forward. In the crowd, Sue yells out a bid, but is quickly shot down by a short brunette. Quinn appears torn between disgust that she is now owned by this girl – Berry, if Santana had heard correctly – and elation that she is not owned by Sue Sylvester. Puckerman snatches up the kid who had given Santana his shirt, and just Chang had done with Tina, Puckerman refuses the leash and collar, leading Kurt out by the hand.
When Schuester reaches the L's on his list, Santana is shoved forward roughly. Unlike those before her, bids are not immediately called out. Santana can't say she's surprised; she's pretty banged up, her eye swollen shut and her lip busted painfully, and her profile – that Schuester is required to read - isn't very promising. She's illiterate, something surprisingly uncommon for a slave, and she's had a "history" of violent outbursts. What Schuester fails to mention is that she'd only gotten violent twice, only with one master, and he had quickly beaten the fight out of her.
Maybe it's enough to keep her from being bought for one more auction.
Since no bids are forthcoming, Schuester offers up a starter of five thousand. Santana's eyes roam behind her hair as the crowd points and whispers. Some make to stand and bid, but quickly change their minds. Finally, Sue sucks it up and brings her megaphone to her lips, offering to take Santana for the five thousand. Shelby is quick to respond with a bid of five hundred more. They battle intensely, Sue trying to outdo Shelby with her megaphone, and Santana thinks that they may start throwing punches soon.
Until a voice calls over the squabbling women.
Santana's eyes widen. Surely she's not worth anywhere near that amount of money. She quickly seeks out her bidder, and immediately wishes that she hadn't.
Santana would much rather be put back in her tiny cell at the slave farm.
There's a ruckus in the crowd as Sue shouts colorful insults through her megaphone and others join in with their own varied negative opinions about spending so much money on such a worthless slave. Schuester smacks his gavel on the podium, attempting to regain some semblance of control, while Santana's shackles are removed. Pierce signs her ownership papers quickly, tucks them into his back pocket, and stands in front of her, collar, leash, and restraints for her hands ready.
Any hope of being treated like a human and not a dog for once goes out the window as Pierce reties her hands in front of her and snaps the collar in place around her neck. It's filthy, the grime grating against her skin, and tight, restricting her air and circulation.
She doesn't dare tug on it.
Pierce leads Santana through the crowd with sharp tugs that make her stumble. Someone is brazen enough to grope her through her too-small shirt, and Santana feels her face flush with shame.
Life shouldn't be this way.
Santana had been born into slavery, the bastard child of a slave and a master too cowardly to claim his own daughter. He had sold Maribel while she was pregnant, citing illegal fraternization amongst his slaves that led her into pregnancy. She was bought by a man who'd raised Santana as his own. Strangely, Santana had thought of him as a father for years. She had thought of them as a family.
Until he had put a knife in both of their backs, hauling Maribel and a fifteen-year-old Santana to the auction block under false pretenses and selling them as two separate units.
Santana will never forget her mother's screams as Santana was bought and led away from her.
A new life. A year on the slave farm. A short, horrible string of masters that had succeed in breaking her.
Now eighteen, as far as she's concerned, this whole sex slave business could kiss the dirtiest part of her ass.
As she and Pierce break through the auction house doors, Santana inhales the summer air, feeling as though it may be the last time she ever does so. She'll no doubt be locked in another basement.
They reach Pierce's car, and she sneaks a look at him while he fumbles with his keys, waiting obediently for orders. He catches her stare and angrily jerks her towards him. "Don't eye me, girl," he mutters, placing his hand on her head to shove it down.
Santana swallows hard. He tugs her forward, grumbling something about her riding in the trunk instead. He pops the lid and pushes her inside, barely giving her time to flatten herself out before he slams it closed again.
If Santana thought it was hot in the auction house, it was nothing compared to the heat in the trunk of Pierce's car. Santana unsnaps her collar as sweat beads down her neck, fearing the dirty material would rub her neck raw and infect it. Her shirt clings to her worse than before. She bumps around as Pierce races over one speed bump after another, accidentally poking herself in her already black eye twice.
Sweat drips from her forehead and burns her eyes, and Santana wonders if Pierce might possibly be her last owner before she dies. Her masters have all been bad in their own rights, each having their own favorite ways of breaking a slave into submission – starvation, beatings, neglect – but, with the things she's heard around the slave farms and auction blocks, Santana wouldn't be surprised if Pierce was the type of man to go straight to the beatings.
She could possibly be beaten to death as soon as tonight, she realizes.
Would Pierce do that to a slave that he shelled out thirty thousand bucks for?
With no concept of time, Santana begins to think that she may just die right now from heat exhaustion. She had been given a small sip of water as she'd stepped out of the cargo truck earlier, but nothing since then, and her throat is parched. Her sweatpants make her sweat in places she'd never known she could sweat before, and her wrist restraints coupled with the sheen of sweat on her body rubs her wrists raw.
Finally, the car stops and the low hum of the engine desists. Santana scrabbles to snap the collar back on as the lid rises and Pierce comes into view. He tugs sharply on the leash and Santana stumbles onto solid ground once more. Pierce slams the lid, looks around the driveway for a moment, and then eyes Santana appraisingly. She looks down, wondering what he's suddenly so interested in; sweating so profusely has made her too-small white shirt completely transparent. It clings to her torso, giving Pierce a full show. Santana looks away in shame, but doesn't attempt to cover up.
Pierce grunts, and to Santana it sounds like approval. "Brittany will love it."
Santana draws her eyebrows together as she's led up to Pierce's home. Brittany? Was she Pierce's wife? Santana hadn't seen a ring on his finger, but she knows she could have missed it. Had Pierce bought her to fulfill some three-way fantasy he has?
Pierce pulls her into the house and chains the door behind him. It's a surprisingly small house for a man who had spent thirty thousand dollars without batting an eye. Santana had expected a mansion, or at least something other than a plain, two story house.
"Beast!" Pierce yells out, startling Santana.
Wait. Why was Pierce calling his wife a beast?
"Master?" Santana chances a glance to her right where the voice came from. The large woman standing in the doorway turns concerned eyes to Santana for a moment. Her face looks much like Santana's, bruised and battered. There's a large mark on the side of her face, like she'd recently been backhanded. If this is what Santana has to look forward to, she wishes she'd died in the trunk of the car.
"Where's Brittany?" Pierce demands. "Her car wasn't in the driveway."
"Finn Hudson picked the car up about an hour ago, sir." She clenches her dish cloth in her hands. "It wouldn't start yesterday-"
Pierce waves his hand, interrupting her. "I remember now," he mumbles. "Thank you, Shannon." Looking pleased at the use of her first name, the woman bows slightly before retreating back to the kitchen. Pierce jerks the leash and Santana obediently follows up the stairs, casting one last glance at the woman, who was now standing just in the kitchen doorway, nodding to her encouragingly.
Santana tries to take comfort in the fact that she's not the only slave in the Pierce household.
She's led to an open door. Pierce looks in briefly, cracks a wide, genuine smile, and grabs Santana by the back of her neck. Santana gasps in surprise as he tangles his fingers in her hair and forces her into the room and to her knees.
"Brittany!" He calls out. "Britt, look what daddy bought for you!" Pierce jerks Santana's head up and she winces as the pain explodes through her skull. She forces her eyes open.
Brittany – or who Santana assumes is Brittany – stands before her in a tank top and shorts. Her blonde hair is tied back, her lips slightly parted. Her eyes – the bluest eyes Santana has ever seen – are wide, almost as if she's afraid.
"Well, baby, what do you think?" When Brittany remains silent, Pierce kneels down to talk to Santana. "You will treat my daughter with respect. You will cater to her every wish, her every need. Do you understand?" Santana tries to nod, choosing to remain silent for fear that she would be speaking out of turn. Pierce tugs roughly on her hair and she emits a sharp cry, making Brittany jump. "Answer me."
"Yes," she rasps through clenched teeth. "I understand."
Pierce stands up and finally releases his hold on her. He steps around her now slumped form and wraps his hands around Brittany's biceps, forcing her to look at him. They look similar, Santana muses; they have the same mouth shape, the same eyes, and the same athletic posture. She marvels at the difference in how he handles Brittany, with love and care, like she might break at any moment, to the way he'd handled her moments ago, not giving a fuck about her well-being.
"She's yours, Britt," he says softly, and smoothes some errant hair away from Brittany's face. "You can do whatever you want with her. Happy late birthday, sweetheart."
Santana scowls at her lap as Pierce presses a kiss to the top of Brittany's head and leaves the room. Yeah, she would end up being a fucking birthday present. And a late one at that. Just fucking great.
The silence is heavy. Brittany hasn't spoken or moved, and Santana is terrified to lift her eyes from the floor.
Finally, Santana can see Brittany's feet shuffling closer, and she sits up a bit straighter, waiting for orders. They never come, however, as Brittany slips past her and out the door.
Santana slumps again; yeah, she would much rather be back on the slave farm.