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
It's still dark when Santana jolts awake, the remnants of a night terror making the hands that move to push her hair from her face quake. Her spine had tingled oddly, and something had told her that someone was reaching for her. When she had cracked her eyes open, a large figure had appeared to be looming over her and, startled, she'd jumped.
Santana pulls her knees up to rest her elbows on them. Her hands catch her head as it falls forward and she tries to catch the breath that had been knocked from her in her panic. She knows she's being paranoid, but it had seemed so real.
Somewhere in the house a door slams and the body beside Santana shifts. She turns her head slightly to stare at Brittany; she's half on her back and half on her side, facing Santana, and her arms are stretched in front of her, like she'd been grabbing for Santana. Santana huffs slightly; that's the feeling she'd gotten, Brittany reaching for her in her sleep. If Santana were lying down, the moon light would be shining directly on the bed, on Brittany.
Santana hasn't met many people in her life – it's hard to meet people when you're locked in a basement – but of those she has met, Santana thinks that Brittany may be the prettiest. She lays back and studies Brittany's profile, the way her nose scrunches up in displeasure when the moon shines directly on her face, the way her chest rises and falls, and the way her lips part ever so slightly before she lets out a quiet mumble that sounds suspiciously like, "too bright."
Santana kind of wants to reach over and brush the hair from Brittany's forehead, but she can't, so to resist the urge she rises from the bed and tip-toes to the window. She takes a few seconds to look out at the front yard. The neighborhood is quiet at night, other than an occasional barking dog. It's so very unlike a lot of the places Santana has lived before. It's almost too quiet for her.
Silently, she draws the curtains together and returns to the bed. Brittany shifts to lie completely on her side, facing Santana and mumbles, "Thankies."
Santana smiles a bit and closes her eyes.
Even with the curtains closed, the next time Santana opens her eyes the room is considerably brighter.
And this time, there is a large body looming over her.
Santana jumps, and Pierce stares at her like he can't quite comprehend just why she's sleeping in the bed and not under it. Santana realizes that her hand, the one lying beside her head, is clasped loosely with Brittany's. She immediately lets go and averts her eyes; after what she'd witnessed happen to Shannon, she doesn't want to take her chances. If possible, she's even more afraid of him than she was when he'd bought her. After a long minute – during which Santana forgets how to breathe – Pierce leans over her and presses a kiss to Brittany's temple. He doesn't spare another glance at Santana as he leaves the room.
It's not long after Pierce leaves that Brittany wakes up. Santana watches her from the corner of her eye and she blinks sleepily a few times, then rubs her eyes. Brittany yawns, then settles her eyes on Santana, and Santana unintentionally draw into herself a bit. She looks to the ceiling so that she doesn't have to watch Brittany watching her.
Santana expects orders to fall from Brittany's mouth, to be told to get dressed or to help Brittany dress herself. Instead, Brittany sighs quietly – it sounds a lot like irritation to Santana – and climbs over Santana. For the brief second that Brittany is on top of her, straddling her, Santana squeezes her eyes shut tightly. This is it, she thinks, the moment that Brittany takes her body and shows her who is in charge. Brittany is the master; Santana is the slave. She'd had it easy yesterday, but it's time to re-learn the rules.
Brittany's weight disappears and Santana's eyes slide open hesitantly. Brittany's walked to her closet and is pulling a pair of jeans from a hanger. Santana breathes out and swings her legs off of the bed. She stands and stretches her muscles out. She licks her lips slowly, she thinks about how lucky she is to be spared for now, and she moves to stand a few feet from the closet.
She gulps, knowing that she's taking a huge risk by speaking before being spoken to, and musters up her courage. "What would you have me do, mistress?"
Brittany whips around to face her, and Santana's so startled at the sudden action that she takes a step back. Brittany glares at her. When she's finished in the closet, she thrusts a pair of basketball shorts and a tank top into Santana's hands. "Don't," Brittany repeats the word she'd uttered yesterday with a bit more force.
Santana hugs the clothes to her chest and nods, not really knowing what it is that she's doing wrong, what it is that makes Brittany so angry. She's only asking for orders. She wants to please Brittany; she wants to stay out of trouble.
Brittany hurriedly shucks out of her pajamas and pulls the jeans over her narrow hips. A t-shirt follows and she opens the top drawer of her dresser and pulls out a blue and purple knit beanie. Santana watches her put the beanie on her head and pull on the pom on the top a few times to situate it just so. Santana thinks its way too hot to be wearing such a thing, but it somehow makes Brittany more attractive, and she keeps her mouth shut.
Brittany looks back to Santana, her eyes widening a bit, and it seems to Santana that Brittany always forgets for a split second that she's not alone in the room. Santana wonders how long it will take for them to get used to each other.
Brittany waves towards the dresser – specifically the second and third drawers – and says, "Um…help yourself." Then, she slips out the door and disappears down the hall. Santana waits until Brittany's footsteps have faded down the stairs before she pulls off the clothes she'd slept in and replaces them with the ones in her hands. The shorts are way too big, and she has to tie them to get them to stay on her waist.
Santana bypasses the dresser; Brittany had given her permission to wear anything in there, but Santana still feels as though she'd be overstepping if she rummaged through the drawers without Brittany present. When she gets to the kitchen, Shannon is leaning against the counter, fanning herself with a partially open newspaper. Her face is a bit more bruised than it had been the night before, but she seems otherwise unharmed. When she spots Santana, her face reddens a bit, obviously embarrassed about the events of last night. Santana tries her best to offer a smile, but Shannon looks so sad and she herself is so scared, and she just can't push away the thought that, if she were as large as Shannon, she would most definitely fight back. A smile just doesn't seem to cut it.
"Morning, kid," Shannon says. Santana's a bit annoyed that Shannon continues to call her that, even after she'd said she would stop when she learned her name, but she waves awkwardly anyways. She looks around for Brittany. She spots her through the sliding glass door, calling her cat in from the backyard. Santana turns her eyes back to Shannon when she asks, "How'd you sleep?"
Santana shrugs and says, "Pretty good." And it's not a lie; aside from her night terror, she'd slept better than she had in years, but she doesn't exactly want to say that. Instead, she changes the subject. "Are…are you okay?"
Shannon waves a hand, dismissing the question as the door slides open and Brittany skips in with Lord Tubbington. "Breakfast isn't quite ready, so you guys should go watch TV or something."
Santana glances one last time at Shannon, who seems to feel fine, before following Brittany into the living room. Gingerly, she sits on the opposite side of the couch and watches as Brittany flips channels until she finds a cartoon. They sit quietly, and Santana can't keep her eyes from sliding to Brittany every time the girl lets a giggle slip.
She wishes Brittany would speak. Not only because the quiet make her anxious, but she has to admit that she likes Brittany's voice. It's unlike any sound that she's ever heard, so sweet and filled with curiosity; she's never been so captivated by someone before, so scared yet so comfortable.
When Brittany lets loose with an uncontrolled string of giggles, Santana opens her mouth and says, "Mistress-"
"What's your favorite color?"
Santana blinks and glances around the room. Was Brittany speaking to her? Seeing no one else, she turns her head back to Brittany. Brittany is staring at her, her face devoid of any emotion other than curiosity. Santana swallows, realizing she's forgotten the question. "Um…what?" She winces at the stupidity that will no doubt get her punished, or at least scoffed at.
"Your favorite color," Brittany says quietly. "What is it?"
Santana shakes her head; she's never really thought about it before. "R-red, I suppose," she stutters out. "Or purple."
Brittany's eyes dip below Santana's neck for a millisecond before she nods and returns her attention to the television. Santana pulls at her fingers, wondering what Brittany had been looking for in that last glance, if she'd found whatever it was, if she'd liked it.
"I like yellow," Brittany mutters before Santana can even think to return the question.
Santana stares at Brittany. "Yellow is…really pretty." She hopes that Brittany doesn't realize that she isn't referring to colors anymore; flirting with her master is not on the list of things that she should currently be doing.
Brittany's eyes glide over to her and this time she manages the smile that she'd been failing at. "So is red. And purple."
Santana snaps her gaze back to the television, her face heating slightly; she's been caught. Brittany had fully picked up what she had thrown down, and now Santana's embarrassed, even if Brittany had returned it to her.
From the center cushion, Lord Tubbington slams his paw down on Santana's thigh, and Santana jumps.
"He likes you." Santana looks dubiously at Brittany.
"My name is Brittany!" Santana's face falls at Brittany's outburst, and Brittany frowns deeply at her.
Santana swallows. "You don't want your slaves to call you 'mistress'?"
Brittany's frown, if possible, deepens. Santana tries to sink into the couch. "You're not my slave," Brittany says, her voice angry but still so quiet.
Santana furrows her eyebrows. If she's not Brittany's slave, then that means that she's obviously Pierce's, and that's just plain terrifying. "But your father said-"
"I don't care what he says!" Her voice is louder this time, and when she stands abruptly, Santana's arms reflexively fly up to shield her face.
"Brittany!" Shannon's startled voice makes Santana lower her arms to look to the entryway. Shannon looks upset as her eyes find Santana's cowered form. Santana's eyes flash up to Brittany. There are a range of emotions covering her face; guilt, shock, confusion, and Santana realizes that Brittany's not quite sure what's going on.
"Britt, breakfast is ready," Shannon says, leaving no room for argument. When Brittany's out of the room, Shannon motions for Santana to come to her. "Are you okay?"
Santana's knees tremble and she has to hold onto Shannon for a minute to stand properly. "I…I made her mad," she whispers.
Shannon smiles sadly at her. "Britt doesn't get angry easily; you deserve a medal."
When it becomes apparent that her joke had fallen flat, Shannon ushers Santana into the kitchen where a full plate is waiting for her across from Brittany.
"You want to tell me what happened in there?" Shannon asks Brittany seriously.
Other than giving a glare from the corner of her eye, Brittany ignores Shannon and continues to push food around her plate. When Brittany notices that Santana hasn't even touched her plate, she looks up. "I'm sorry," she says softly, and waits for a response.
Santana looks down and away and nods, silently accepting the unnecessary apology. Brittany resumes picking at her food.
Santana can't help but feel as if she's missing something.
Later, when Pierce returns home from work, he immediately sees that Brittany is upset. He yells at Santana for failing to please his daughter. He rants and paces and threatens everything from locking Santana in the basement to burying her alive, but he doesn't lay a finger on her.
When it becomes obvious that the entire episode has made Brittany even more upset, Shannon quietly dismisses them both from the table.
They dress for bed in silence and Santana listens to Brittany's quiet sniffling for a long time before her breathing finally evens out.
Santana stares at the ceiling, her ears still ringing unpleasantly from dinner. Pierce's words and insults bounce in her head; her heart aches as she remembers 'whore' and 'filth' but what had really gotten under her skin was Pierce's accusations that she'd failed to make Brittany happy. It's not like she's not trying, but whenever she so much as speaks to Brittany she's basically being told to shut up. How exactly is she supposed to satisfy her master without orders?
Santana's so caught up in her thoughts that she doesn't notice when Brittany rolls to face her, and starts at the murmured, "I'm sorry." Santana swallows but remains silent; she hasn't been given permission to speak. She feels Brittany's warm fingertips brush the back of her hand for a second. "He wasn't always mean."
Santana turns her head a bit to meet Brittany's stare. They've forgotten to close the curtains again, and the moon makes it easy to see Brittany's face. She's not sure what it is, but being with Brittany feels okay; it feels different, a good different despite the mix up before breakfast; it's something that she hasn't felt in years, something she can't quite put her finger on.
But one thing she knows for sure is that she likes Brittany.
"You're really quiet," Brittany says, and Santana wants to remind Brittany that, one, so is she, and two, every time she tries to speak, Brittany tells her not to, but she doesn't dare. Brittany stares at her, searching, and Santana thinks that maybe Brittany can read her like a book because she follows up with, "You don't need permission to talk. I don't…"
She trails off and bites her lip like she's afraid of the words that she's not saying. Santana rolls to face Brittany, her curiosity getting the better of her. "You don't what?"
Brittany's lip slides from between her teeth and she shakes her head. "Goodnight, Santana." Then, she rolls to face the wall.
Santana spends most of the night staring at her back.
The next day, Saturday, Brittany skips breakfast and goes straight for her car keys, saying something about a lima bean. Santana stands awkwardly by the stairs, unsure of whether Brittany will take her or leave her with Pierce and Shannon. Pierce jumps up from his breakfast and grabs the collar and leash that he'd had on Santana before from the coat closet. He snaps the collar around Santana's neck and jerks her towards Brittany.
"Take your mutt," he says. He pushes the leash into Brittany's hand, and Brittany holds it loosely. He pulls Brittany to him and kisses her forehead. "Drive safe."
Brittany leads Santana to the passenger door of her car, and Santana looks towards the trunk, hoping that she won't somehow end up there again as she risks tugging on the tight collar. Brittany gestures to the passenger seat when Santana looks back at her for directions. Hesitantly, Santana sits down and Brittany closes the door behind her.
Brittany starts the car and the radio blares to life, making Santana wince. Brittany must notice, because she reaches over and turns the upbeat pop song down. Santana looks at her thankfully as Brittany backs out of the driveway. They drive for a few minutes, and Brittany pulls the car over. Santana looks around, wondering where they are; it's just another neighborhood, similar to Brittany's. Then, Brittany reaches over, startling Santana, and unsnaps the collar. Santana rubs at her neck and watches Brittany roll her window down and toss the leash and collar into the street.
Santana looks to Brittany, her mouth falling open. "What-"
"What kind of music do you like?"
Santana deflates. "I don't know," she whispers. "I've never…" She doesn't finish, though, and Brittany nods. She turns the radio up a bit and drums her fingers on the steering wheel as she pulls them back into the street. Santana bites her lip and watches the collar and leash disappear in the side mirror. "Thank you," she says quietly.
Brittany doesn't answer her.
As it turns out, the Lima Bean is not, in fact a food, but a coffee shop, which Santana supposes makes some kind of strange sense. When they enter the building, Santana drops her head and uses her hair to hide her face. She hears a male voice greet Brittany from behind the counter before Brittany orders two coffees and two double chocolate chip muffins.
"So who's your friend?" The male asks. Brittany nudges Santana, and Santana looks up to the face of Michael and Julia Chang's son. "Wow," he says, staring openly at her with furrowed eyebrows. "You look…really familiar."
"This is Santana," Brittany says. "She's…my dad…well, you know." She waves her hand at the vague statement.
Realization seems to dawn on him, and he looks sympathetically, not at Santana, but at Brittany. "Well, it's nice to meet you, Santana." He sticks his hand out over the counter. "I'm Mike."
Cautiously, Santana takes Mike's hand and allows him to shake it. Not knowing what to say, though, she remains silent. Brittany points to a table and hands Santana the muffin and coffee that she'd bought for her. Santana sits, and waits for Brittany to finish her conversation with Mike.
Mike seems really sweet, Santana thinks. It hadn't seemed to matter to him that she's a slave, and she's thrown back to a few days ago when she'd watched him lead Tina off of the auction block like she was a regular person, a friend even. But she can't get past the look that he'd given Brittany, that seemed to say I'm sorry you're stuck with her.
A man passes behind her and bumps her head, and though she knows it was probably an accident, she shrinks into herself. Santana looks around, feeling self-conscious. She feels as though everyone's eyes are on her, though she's not sure why; these people don't know she's a slave. There are a few here, but unlike them, Santana isn't wearing a collar and leash. There's nothing that screams slave, yet she feels like everyone knows, like everyone is waiting to take advantage of her.
Santana hears Brittany sit down across from her as Sue Sylvester enters and yells her order at Mike through her megaphone. Brittany pushes Santana's untouched coffee and muffin closer to her, encouraging her slightly.
They eat in silence.
The rest of the day is extremely awkward between them. Santana doesn't know what Brittany and Mike had talked about, but it seems to have shifted Brittany's somber mood for the worst. Brittany doesn't even speak to Shannon when they arrive home, and she barely eats any dinner.
After Santana bathes, she returns to Brittany's room. Brittany is sitting in her desk chair, typing on her laptop. Santana sits on the edge of the bed, fidgeting with her fingers, and after a minute Brittany spins to face her.
"Look," she says around a loud exhale. "You don't want to be here, I don't want you to be here, so Monday I'll get dad to take you up to the auction block, and you can go home with someone who will want you."
Santana panics as Brittany turns back to her computer. Brittany doesn't want her? She's going to send her away? For what?
"Please don’t." Brittany spins to face her again, and Santana pulls her lips into her mouth. She's not sure what had come over her, only that she didn't want to go anywhere else. She knows she could be punished for that outburst, but she thinks it might be worth it if she can stay with Brittany.
"What?" When Santana doesn't respond, Brittany rolls her chair a little closer. "You…don't want to leave?"
Santana shakes her head, and Brittany motions for her to speak. "I…I know you don't want me here." Santana pulls her knees to her chest as tears threaten to fall from her eyes. "But…my last master…he would beat me into submission. Then he would have his way with me, and then beat me again. For the fun of it. I wasn't allowed to eat for days, or bathe for weeks." Santana manages to tear her eyes away from the carpet long enough to judge whether or not she'll be allowed to continue. When she sees Brittany staring at her curiously, she speaks again. "On the rare occasion that I was allowed out of the house, I had to be tied to a stake. My first master…in the three months that he owned me, I had a total of two meals. I was chained to a pipe in the basement with nothing to lie on but a bath towel, and he came down to beat me and take care of his…urges."
"When I'm here," Santana continues over Brittany before she loses her nerve or her tears make it impossible to speak. "When I'm with you…even though we don't talk…I feel human. I feel…equal. You feed me and let me bathe and sleep in your bed. You buy me coffee, and you threw that leash and collar away." Brittany looks down at her feet and tugs on the poms of the beanie that she's wearing. "I…I don't feel like a slave. At all. So please…please don't send me away."
When Santana doesn't get a response, she looks up, tears finally slipping down her cheeks. Brittany meets her eyes and nods her head. "Okay," she says, and Santana feels her heart start beating again. "You can stay."