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
Author's Notes: First off, if anyone here had read my Heya high school AU story in the past, it’s now up on AO3, complete with corrected grammar and spelling.
Second, someone expressed concern about the Mike and Puck deal that was mentioned in the last chapter; there will be no Bike or Pierceman relationship (or Bram for that matter, since that was brought up privately). Mike and Puck were just being good bros and cuddling with Brittany when she was feeling sad about her mom.
I apologize for the increasing wait between updates; ideas aren't coming to me as easily as I had hoped they would. As always, I appreciate each and every review, favorite, and follow!
Santana rubs blearily at her eyes as she trudges down the stairs, nearly tripping over the last one in her half-asleep state. "Where's Brittany?" She asks around a yawn when Shannon comes into view.
Shannon folds down a corner of the newspaper in her hands to get a better view of Santana. "Good morning to you, too," she chuckles. "Britt went to the store." She gestures to the counter where a plate of bacon resides. "Help yourself."
Santana frowns. Brittany hadn't been beside her when she'd woken up, obviously, but she'd assumed Brittany would be in the kitchen. She pours a cup of coffee and sips at it absently, sad that Brittany hadn't at least woken her to let her know that she was leaving.
Santana shakes her head at herself and gnaws on a piece of bacon; Brittany doesn't owe her anything, least of all a play-by-play of what she's doing.
"Something on your mind?" Shannon doesn't even glance up from her paper.
Santana shakes her head and smiles tightly. "Just not a morning person," she says, and the fact that that's not a lie makes her feel better about not being completely truthful with Shannon.
The front door opens and Santana's eyes snap to it instantly, narrowly missing Shannon's knowing smirk.
"Good morning," Brittany greets her, swinging her lone shopping bag as she approaches. Santana watches her greet Shannon over the rim of her coffee cup, barely having time to lower it before Brittany is sweeping her into a hug, surprising her. She lets go, 'ooooo'ing as she steals Santana cup and takes a sip. "Mmm, how'd you know?"
Santana's mouth opens and closes several times, and Shannon chuckles again at her speechlessness. Recovering slightly, Santana smiles as Brittany hands the cup back and snags a piece of bacon, stuffing the whole strip in her mouth. "Lucky guess," she says.
"You're in an awfully good mood, Britt," Shannon comments. She folds the newspaper up and offers it wordlessly to Santana. Santana shakes her head, tries not to let her face give away her reasons, and Shannon drops it to the table instead.
Brittany ignores Shannon's statement and instead pulls Santana to the stairs by her hand. "We'll be in our room!" Santana nearly trips over her bare feet at our, her heart fluttering in a way that she doesn't quite understand.
They thump down the hall and Brittany locks her door once they're over the threshold. She dangles the shopping bag by her index finger in front of Santana's face and grins broadly. She's obviously proud of herself. Santana stares at the bag stupidly and Brittany swings it side-to-side and says, "It's for you."
Santana licks her lips and her fingers close over the handles of the bag delicately. Brittany watches eagerly, and Santana reaches her hand in. Expecting a new collar and leash or a whip or even a mousetrap, Santana quivers as her eyes rake over what her hand is wrapped around.
"Brittany…" She stares at the round red hairbrush and the purple toothbrush, tears springing to her eyes. It's not even that much, and she feels like the biggest baby ever when a tear slips down to her chin, but damn if this isn't the nicest thing anyone's done for her in such a long time. "I…" She swallows past the lump in her throat, thinks back to Kurt offering her his shirt with a dazzling smile, how she'd been grateful, but certainly not this emotional.
Brittany's smile falls, her eyes widen. "You don't like it."
Santana sniffs, wipes her face with the back of her hand, and says, "No, no, I…I love it. Them. It's just…been so long since-" She breaks off. Brittany touches her elbow, and Santana runs her tongue along her teeth and grimaces, remembering the toothbrushes at the slave farm and the government issue toothpaste that she was sure was doing more harm to her teeth than good. Santana lays the hairbrush on Brittany's desk and holds up the other item. "Can I…?"
Brittany giggles and sweeps her hand toward the door. "Toothpaste's in the medicine cabinet."
Making her way down the hall, Santana tears into the toothbrush pack enthusiastically. She hasn't had a proper tooth brushing in a while, and she's sure that she's pretty unpleasant to be around right now.
Santana brushes her teeth three times, flosses twice, and swishes a full cap of mouthwash before she's satisfied. She smiles as she slips her toothbrush in the holder beside Brittany's blue one. When she returns to Brittany's room – their room – Brittany is sitting on the edge of the bed, twirling the hairbrush she'd bought in her hands. She smiles when she sees Santana and pats the space in front of her.
Santana sits, facing away from Brittany, and Brittany begins pulling the brush gently through her tangled hair. Santana closes her eyes against the sensation of Brittany's fingers on her scalp, trying to lessen the pain that Santana's not even registering. She remembers her mother brushing her hair, telling her playfully to quit whining.
"You have really pretty hair."
Santana forces her eyes open, forces away the fluttering she feels again, and scoffs. "Right."
Brittany pulls her fingers through Santana's hair once, twice, and says, rather distractedly, "No, really. Like really shiny licorice."
Santana draws her eyebrows together and releases a disbelieving laugh; Brittany really is something else. "Can I ask you something?" She asks, wanting to change the subject. Brittany hums, still slightly distracted by Santana's hair. "What's Shannon's story? I mean, your dad is terrible to her, but she's almost like your mom or something."
Brittany's fingers still for a moment, making Santana regret her poor choice of words. When they resume, Brittany speaks. "She was here before I was born." Brittany drops the hairbrush and begins to braid Santana's hair absently. "Before, she was mainly, like, a maid or something. When I was born, she was my…nanny, I guess. Mom and dad even paid her, gave her vacation…she was part of the family, allowed to call them by their first names. Mom and dad loved her, she loved them. Then mom died." Santana listens intently as Brittany's words get quieter, darker. "I don’t know. It was like something in dad snapped." She snaps her fingers and Santana jumps. "Now he doesn't treat Shannon like a member of the family; he just treats her like a slave."
Brittany's hands fall to her lap and Santana turns to face her. She lays a hand on Brittany's knee, silently apologizing for dredging up bad memories. "So he hasn't always…beat her like that?"
Brittany shakes her head and looks away. "That just started recently." She grabs Santana's hand in both of hers and holds tightly. "I'm not…I don't think he's used her for…" Sex, Santana's mind fills in when Brittany trails off.
"So she's still a maid, basically?" Santana wants to ask if Shannon is still a nanny; she's not sure of Brittany's age. Brittany nods. "Does she still get paid?" Brittany shakes her head and Santana huffs out a sad sigh.
"Dad's still grieving; so am I," Brittany mutters. Santana squeezes her hand. "But violence is dumb."
Santana smiles, the innocence of Brittany's words shooting straight to her heart. She hates to get too close, too attached to Brittany, but she can't help but feel a pull towards the girl. She stares at their clasped hands for a long moment, watching Brittany's slender thumb rub a tight circle on her skin. She marvels at the contrast, how Brittany's is so much lighter than hers, but it still looks like it belongs in Santana's.
Brittany breathes in deeply and releases Santana's hand quickly. "So, what about you?" She asks.
Santana's eyes drop, her heart's pace quickening. "What about me?" She asks, feigning ignorance, buying time. She doesn't want to reveal too much, doesn't want Brittany to look at her differently. She doesn't want Brittany's pity.
Brittany shrugs and picks at a loose thread on her bedspread. "I don't know." Santana can tell that she has questions; she's afraid to ask, though, afraid she'll cross a line or say the wrong thing. Santana's not sure what exactly it is that Brittany wants to know so badly. Santana's already given her a pretty accurate summary of her past masters, and Brittany can't ask how Santana became a slave. Years ago, it was legal to capture people and make them slaves; somewhere along the line, though, the government realized that that was a bad method. If anyone could be caught and made a slave, then who would be left to be a master? Santana doesn't know much of the history, she just knows that these days you have to be born into slavery to be a slave, either through breeding, illegal fraternization, or by accidental pregnancy between a master and a slave – the way that Santana had been conceived.
There's no logical reason for Brittany to ask Santana what her life had been like. For all Brittany knows, Santana was raised on slave farms, like other slaves, not by a master who acted as a father for years before betraying her in the cruelest way.
Santana shakes her head as her stomach growls, effectively saving her from the conversation. Brittany giggles, obviously also glad for the interruption, and says, "You're always hungry!" She takes Santana's hand and pulls her to her feet. "Just like me."
Despite the foul memories that had been conjured up, Santana grins as Brittany pulls her down the stairs. As painful as it is to admit it, she can't help but love the feel of Brittany's hand in hers. She doesn't have much to compare it to, but their palms fit perfectly, their fingers meld seamlessly.
It's going to make it hurt worse when she wakes up from this dream.
Brittany drops her hands when they enter the kitchen. She pulls two spoons and two bowls from the cupboards and hands them to Santana. She opens another cupboard on the opposite end and pulls out four different cereal boxes as Santana grabs the milk from the refrigerator and sets everything on the table.
Brittany sits across from Santana. She immediately snatches up two of the boxes and pours a bit of each of their contents into her bowl, creating a mess of colorful circles and differently shaped marshmallows. Santana eyes a white box. Brittany pours milk on her own concoction and, seeing Santana hesitate, reaches forward and pushes the white box closer.
Santana licks her lips. "What is it?" She asks without thinking. She bites her lip and looks away in embarrassment.
Brittany takes in a mouthful of cereal and mumbles, "Read the box," like it's the most obvious solution, and Santana supposes it would be – if she could read. Santana's eyes burn. She frowns and stares blankly at the letters, trying to remember anything that she may have picked up in her eighteen years about words and letters. Or at least a commercial she may have seen for this cereal – her mom had only kept healthy cereals around, cereals with tons of fiber like Wheaties.
Being the child of a slave, Santana had missed out on the opportunity to attend school. Instead, Maribel had tried to teach Santana to read, write, and do math, but her master had made her stop. In hindsight, Santana thinks, that should have been the first sign that something wasn't quite right.
Maribel had succeed in teaching Santana numbers before they were caught, but she only remembered some letters, the simpler ones like 'O' and 'C' and 'L'. Instead, Santana had learned easier things like shapes and colors, things that could be taught a bit more discretely.
Santana blinks and looks at Brittany. The other girl looks worried and Santana licks her lips again, this time tasting salt.
"Santana?" Brittany asks again. She folds her hand over Santana's on the table.
"I-" Santana swallows hard. "I can't…"
Brittany watches her squint at the box helplessly. "Do you need glasses?" Santana shakes her head, trying desperately to hold in a sob. God, this is humiliating. "Are you-" Santana watches as it clicks, like a light shining brighter behind Brittany's eyes, and she takes a shuddering breath, preparing herself for the taunting. "You can't read?"
Santana looks away in shame, but shakes her head. She's never asked how any of the other slaves could read and write, having not been allowed to go to school, and it's embarrassing always being the one who is illiterate; it's something that she's always wanted for herself, something she knows everyone else takes for granted.
Brittany stares at her for a moment longer before picking up the white cereal box. "That's okay," she chirps. "Sometimes I don't read good…well, either." She holds the box up for Santana's shocked eyes to take it in, like she knows that Santana will associate the name with the pictures and the colors. "Cinnamon Toast Crunch." Santana bites her lip and nods. Brittany pours a bit into her empty bowl. She sets the box aside and twitches her mouth to the right, mulling over the other boxes, which would go best mixed with the cereal already in Santana's bowl; Santana thinks this may be a habit of Brittany's, mixing her food together.
Finally, Brittany lifts a yellow box into view. "Golden Grahams." Santana rakes her eyes over the box, committing it to memory. She nods and Brittany pours some on the small mountain of cereal already in the bowl. She pushes the milk to Santana and takes a large spoonful of her own food into her mouth. When Santana finishes pouring her milk, Brittany grabs the other two boxes. She holds one up, says, "Fruit Loops," then sets it down. She lifts the last one and says, "Lucky Charms."
Santana smiles; it's watery, but grateful. She pushes her cereal around her bowl, feeling guilty that she'd assumed that Brittany would tease her about her disadvantages; Brittany's been nothing if not accommodating. When Santana looks back up, Brittany is holding her bowl to her mouth, gulping down her leftover milk. When Brittany drops the bowl and meets her eyes, Santana smiles again, almost shyly, and says, "Thank you."
Brittany blushes and pours herself another bowl of cereal.
"Does he make you nervous?"
Pierce had come home from work nearly three hours early. He sits at the head of the table reading the sports section of the newspaper, grumbling about bets and owing someone named Hiram fifty bucks, while Shannon finishes dinner and Santana and Brittany sit quietly. Santana had caught his eye twice accidentally; the first time he'd told Brittany to make her 'mutt' stop eyeing him, and the second time he'd drawn his hand back as if to backhand her. Ever since, she's refused to look up from the table.
She glances briefly at Brittany when her breath hits Santana's ear with the whispered question. She's not sure why Brittany's asking; the answer should be fairly obvious. She opens her mouth, then closes it. She swallows thickly and nods tightly twice instead.
Brittany takes her hand under the table. "Do you want to eat somewhere else?" Santana turns her head slightly to smile gratefully at Brittany. Brittany pulls her to her feet and yanks her towards the counter where Shannon is laying out the plates for dinner. "We're going to eat in our room tonight," she says quietly, and her eyes beg Shannon to not ask her why.
Wordlessly, Shannon fills their plates with food. Brittany hands them to Santana and leads her upstairs; if Pierce notices their hasty exit, he doesn't say anything about it.
Brittany grabs an extra chair from what Santana assumes is a guest room, and closes her bedroom door. She clears a space on her desk for them to eat at least semi-comfortably. Santana hands her a plate when she's finished.
After a few minutes of silence, Santana says, "Your dad scares me." When Brittany doesn't respond, Santana cringes to herself and looks up, afraid that she'd offended Brittany.
Brittany's looking at her food, biting her lip, but she doesn't look mad; she looks sad. "I know," she says finally. "He scares a lot of people."
Santana hears the unspoken including me that Brittany's not saying, and she lays a hesitant hand on Brittany's knee. "Has he always?"
Brittany stares at her hand, and Santana contemplates moving it. "No." She covers Santana's hand with her own and squeezes tightly, and it looks to Santana like she's trying to draw strength. "He used to be nice. To everyone. I miss him. Who he was before. Now he's just a bully; bullies are mean."
"I'm sorry." Santana doesn't know what else to say. When Brittany lost her mom, she'd also lost her dad. Santana knows exactly what that's like, but she doesn't want to say so, doesn't want to make this conversation about her.
"I hope you'll tell me more about yourself someday," Brittany murmurs, and Santana's heart hurts in the best way. It's an unspoken promise, one that says Santana's staying, and she wants so badly to believe it. She knows that, if it were completely up to Brittany, she definitely would stay.
But Santana's not completely sure how much say Pierce has in the matter.
"I'm not that interesting," Santana deflects.
Brittany giggles and lets go of her hand. "I think I should be the judge of that." She reaches over and flicks the radio on. It hums to life in the middle of a soft song and Brittany gasps. "I love this song!" She takes Santana's hand and Santana barely has time to drop her fork before she's being pulled to the middle of the floor.
"What are we doing?" She laughs.
"Dance with me."
Santana freezes and Brittany grins at her. Brittany wraps her arms loosely around Santana's waist. Surprised, Santana's hands fly to Brittany's arms, just above her elbows, and hold tightly. Brittany's a very forward person, more than Santana had originally thought. When she wants something…she goes for it.
Santana kind of likes it.
"I…I don't know how."
Brittany giggles again. "Doesn't look that way to me."
Santana glances down and is startled to see herself swaying with Brittany; she hadn't even realized she was moving. In her panic, she steps on one of Brittany's feet and mutters, "Sorry."
Brittany pulls her closer. "You're a natural."
Santana scoffs, still embarrassed by her clumsiness. "I just stepped on your foot."
"Huh. I didn't even notice," Brittany says playfully, winking at her.
Santana rolls her eyes. "Right."
"Just relax," Brittany says quietly. "Unless…you want to stop?"
Santana smiles shyly and shakes her head. She likes being close to Brittany like this. The warmth of her body is oddly comforting to Santana, who, for the past three years, has despised being touched so much that whenever contact is made she has to actively stop herself from flinching. It scares her, how easy Brittany seems to make everything.
The song winds down and Brittany takes Santana's hand to twirl her once, their joined hands held over their heads, before returning Santana to her original position. Santana laughs, feeling lightheaded with giddiness. "So you like to dance," she observes conversationally.
Brittany shrugs. "I was a Cheerio in school, and yeah, I danced some."
Santana furrows her eyebrows in confusion. "Cheerio? Isn't that a cereal?"
Brittany grins. "It's what everyone called the cheerleaders."
Santana raises an eyebrow, but doesn't comment. Brittany steps away from her and moves her feet independently for a moment, and Santana knows that her earlier comment about only dancing some was just Brittany being modest. "So, dancing is just a small hobby, huh?" She teases.
Brittany sticks her tongue out and moves impossibly closer. Santana swallows hard and flits her eyes to Brittany's lips. She shouldn't want to kiss Brittany because goddammit it's all so messed up. She shouldn't want to do anything with Brittany because even though Brittany hates it, in the eyes of the law, Santana is a slave and Brittany is her master. Nothing can change that.
But Brittany licks her lips and her eyes find Santana's lips and she leans forward and before Santana knows what she's doing she's leaning forward too. Her heart pounds furiously, and Santana's afraid that it will fly out of her chest and slap Brittany in the face and completely ruin the moment.
Fuck, she really wants to kiss Brittany.
Oh, shit, she realizes that this will be her first kiss. Ever. None of her previous masters ever kissed her on the mouth, thankfully. Santana's hands shake as they clasp Brittany's sleeves tightly and she closes her eyes.
Suddenly, the door opens and they fly apart. Pierce looks confused for a moment, but he lets it go; if he assumes he was about to walk in on his daughter having sex, well…that is why he bought Santana; he has no right to be shocked.
Santana crosses her arms and looks to the floor. The moment's gone; she let her guard down and she knows that it can't happen again.
No matter how much she still wants to kiss Brittany.
Brittany grabs her elbow gently; Santana had tuned out her and Pierce, and now Pierce was gone, as was their dinner. "Are you okay?"
Santana forces a blank look to her face to hide the devastation she feels. She shouldn't have let Brittany so close to her; she has to get rid of this stupid fantasy she has and remember that she's probably only here temporarily. She pulls her elbow from Brittany's fingers. "I'm fine."
Brittany swallows. "I'm sorry."
Santana pulls her lips into her mouth, unsure of what Brittany's apologizing for.