I feel like I need to put this warning here. For anyone who thinks this is going to be one of those lovey, ‘turn the beast into a charming prince’ stories, I have to burst your bubble and say IT IS NOT. This story is going to be dark as shit. I am not writing this to cast Russia in a flattering light. I’m writing this as a way to get these seriously fucked up ideas out of the way so I can work on my fluffier ideas in my other stories. AT BEST, the ending will be somewhat bitter sweet.
This story will contain abuse (not an allusion to abuse. Russia owns and operates a forced black-market slave trade. He’s one sick fuck. There will be triggering material) psychological torture, and a strong hint at past rape (though whether there will be an actual depiction of rape in this story is yet to be seen) No, I do not condone this IN ANY WAY in real life. But this is fiction. I can write whatever I damn well please, but you have a right to know how fucked up this will be. Continue reading at your own risk.
You pressed your hand tenderly to the ace bandage encircling your knee. The brunette man with the sad face had given it to you, apologizing that you couldn’t be seen by a doctor as of yet. He’d mumbled something about ‘doctors in Russia’ and ‘ask fewer questions,’ but you hadn’t been listening. The pressure was painful, but it was almost a sweet pain, like gritting your teeth when they’re sore, or scratching a bug bite. Sitting in the back of the truck wasn’t so bad this time around, as your knee at least wasn’t throbbing so heavily. And it was strange, but you could have sworn the heat was turned up in the back. That had never happened to you before; you almost always rode in nearly-freezing conditions, ever since you were very little. The fact that you never had much clothing either played a big part of that, but even know, in just the old T shirt and leggings they’d put you in before the inspection and assignment, you didn’t feel the need to shiver. The heat was definitely on.
Why was that?
Why was any of this happening, for that matter? The sad man hadn’t explained it all to you; all you knew was that one second, your pitiful life was flashing before your eyes as you stood with your head in a death-grip, and the next, that little girl had spoken up. What had she said? Whatever it had been, it had saved your life. It cost her dearly, having her life taken instead, but at this moment, you chose not to think of how sickening the crunch of her neck had sounded in the silence. You were alive, and at least for a moment, you were safe. You didn’t know how long that moment would last, but for now, it was enough.
There was a single window in the back of this truck, which you found a little odd. It also wasn’t unmarked and black; it looked just like a normal van you might see on the street. Transport vans were all uniform; black, unmarked, no windows in the back where the ‘cargo’ might look out and see where they were headed. It’s not like you could stand and look out the window, but why weren’t they concerned about your transport like they always had been? You wondered about this for a very long time, as the van bumped along, sometimes on smooth road, sometimes not. You could tell when the van was on highways and freeways, or when it turned onto city or rural streets. You’d been on a highway for quite some time, and had periodically been drifting in and out of sleep. You kept track of the days by the light coming in from the window, and it had been about two and a half of near constant driving (with the occasional pit stop and changing of drivers) when you noticed the roads beneath the van getting markedly bumpier. It felt like they weren’t paved very wall, and in some places, not paced at all. And it wasn’t long after that that the car slowed, and you could hear faint voices from outside the van.
This was the border between two countries. You didn’t know which two countries, but you’d passed through millions of border patrols in your lifetime to know what they were and how to recognize them. As usual, the van wasn’t inspected at all and waved through immediately. You nor the other girls could ever figure out why the vans didn’t get searched at borders, even in America. It was doubtless some sort of bribery scheme, but that was all any of you could work out. None of the girls ever screamed or yelled for help, though. You’d seen one woman do that before, and she hadn’t lasted very long.
The heat in the back of the van seemed to intensify, and the only reason you could come up with was that perhaps the outside air was getting colder. It was sort of nice of them, you thought, referring to the two men up front. She’d ridden in colder temperatures before, and while extremely unpleasant, it wasn’t necessary for them to turn the heater on. Why in the world were the being nice to you?
‘Nice’ you thought bitterly, smiling slightly. ‘Nice would be if they let me out of this ‘business’. Nice would be if they freed me. Turning on the heat isn’t ‘nice’.’ You tried to keep such thought at bay, though. It could tear a woman’s mind apart, to dwell on bitter, resentful thoughts. In this business, the only way you could survive was to turn your mind off, and try not to think about it at all. But that had always been difficult for you.
The men up front started saying something, and while it was in Russian, you still strained to listen. They laughed about something, and then went back to a sustained conversation, and at one point, you heard them mention your number: 200. Were they talking about you?
200 seemed like such a small number these days. You’d been assigned that number at the age of 12, when you’d had to leave your ‘home’ and become part of the trade. It meant that, before you, 199 girls had gone through the same experiences, and shared the same fate. 199 girls had been plucked from abject circumstances, ‘raised’ in the sham of a home, only to be directly handed over to the business. 199 perfectly trained girls, all at the disposal of the Boss.
The number was much larger now.
You’d met a number 516 a few months ago, and you had no doubt she was not that recent. She’d been young, maybe 14. No, she wasn’t recent. There were more.
More numbers passed between the men, and you started to think perhaps they weren’t talking about the girls at all. Maybe they were honestly just having a conversation. You tried to tune them out again, and concentrate on the dying light outside of the little window.
~ ~ ~
It was dark when the van came to a stop. At first you assumed it was a routine stop, and didn’t think much of it, but when the engine shut off, you heard both doors up front slam shut. One of the handlers always stayed with the van, it was a rule; if they were both getting out, that meant only one thing. You had arrived.
The men barked something at you in Russian when they opened the doors, and immediately you realized why the heat had been on so high the entire ride. Snow about a foot thick covered the ground, and the men were up to their shins in it. Reaching into the back of the truck, one of the handlers took you by your arms and dragged you out. You had nothing to lean on except the side of the truck as he set you down in the snow. Your one good leg was without shoes, and your leggings only reached the knee, so setting your previously toasty foot in the snow was torture, and you let out a shriek of both surprise and pain.
“Finally!” It was the first English you’d heard in days, and you turned your head to the voice. It was the sad-faced man from before, the Boss’ assistant. He was trudging through the snow in a heavy coat and boots, two things you would have killed for in that moment, and giving the handler’s a stern glare. “Mr. Ivan is not a patient man! Who do you think he’s going to take this out on?” he asked the men in Russian, but they only shrugged. He obviously meant you.
“What should we care?” they answered back fluently. “Not like she’s not used to it.”
“You obviously have no idea what Mr. Ivan is capable of,” the man said, and shivered, though you had a very bad idea that it wasn’t from the cold. He was such a small man, hunched over, scared looking; he was almost as fragile-looking as you, yet he shoved past the handlers with something akin to authority, and held out a gloved hand for you to take. “Come, Miss. Let’s get you out of the cold,” he reverted to English with you, and his kind smile was back. For some reason, you really wanted to trust this man. But in your heart you knew you could never allow yourself to; you’d been with others who seemed just as kind.
They never were.
You leaned heavily on his shoulder, trying to keep your injured leg from touching the snow, but it was so difficult. Your toes were already numb, the chilling feeling of senselessness in the digits starting to creep up your foot to your ankle. You tried to keep your shivers down, but they were more like convulsions, and this waif of a man couldn’t seem to support you fully. You ended up stumbling, hitting the ground on your side, and sinking yourself into the cold snow.
The sad-faced man glanced at the manor; it was easily a five minute walk from the front door to the gate where they were standing, but in your condition, it could take all night. And now you were soaked through from the snow; they’d really done a number on your knee. Though, you did think that the snow felt rather nice against the swollen joint. That may have been the only upside.
“We’d best not keep Mr. Ivan waiting,” he kept saying, but it was impossible for you to walk. You barely had the strength to sit up, let alone stand, and the pain was excruciating. You stood once again, slowly, and tried your best not to stumble. It was fruitless. “You could help!” he snapped at the handlers, but they were already climbing into the van again. They’d done their job. They were going to get paid. And really, what did they care for some girl? She was lucky enough as it was, she didn’t need their help.
“Toris.” The hair on the back of your neck stood up at that voice; deep and menacing, almost as if it weren’t human. Toris froze where he was standing, and you felt him clutch your arm just a little tighter. Turning around slightly, the two of you came face to face with none other than the boss himself, standing just inside the gate, hands tucked behind his back as he stared at you. You hadn’t seen him coming, hadn’t even heard the crunch of snow under his boots! Did the man just appear places!? No one was that deathly quiet.
“Sir!” the man squeaked, almost losing his grip on you. “Sir, I was just escorting number 200 into the house, and I-“
“-Was taking too long,” the Russian man finished in his own language. “I thought I taught you better than that.” He took a few curt steps forward, coming to a halt directly in front of you. You kept your eyes on the ground, but your fear was apparent, from the little clouds of breath that appeared and vanished in front of your face. They increased rapidly as he approached.
“I’m sorry Sir.” Toris bowed his head, fully expecting Ivan to hit him right then and there. But he did no such thing.
Ivan fidgeted with the frayed end of his scarf. It was an unhappy silence he sat in; unhappy, and unsatisfied. He didn’t know why he agreed to take in that sniveling creature. He hardly ever dipped his toes into that end of the business pool, and distanced himself as much as possible with the ‘merchandise’. Ivan hadn’t been involved with the girls since the very beginning, before the franchise had picked up and become the world-wide black market that it was now. He couldn’t stand the thought of being involved in that end for one reason, and one reason only.
He hated those girls. He hated them with a burning passion. Their deceivingly innocent, doe-eyed faces, their high-pitched, whining voices, even the way they cowered. He’d be lying if he didn’t take some sort of sick, pervasive joy in having those disgraceful creatures tremble beneath him, in their rightful place, but even so, their fragility disgusted him. Like they expected him to protect him, only because he was a man. Like they DESERVED to be protected, only because they were women. How presumptuous. How pretentious. How rude.
‘And now I am saddled with one of the very things I hate most,’ he thought miserably, running a hand through his ashen hair. Again he asked himself, why? Why had he done it? He could have easily been rid of her, should have easily been rid of her. She was disobedient and now lame. She was useless.
And yet, that wasn’t quite true. Even now, in front of him sat her dossier, glossy and filled to the brim with purchase reports and receipts. He’d pulled it out as soon as his flight had landed in Moscow, and poured over it on the way back to the estate. For the last day and a half he’d been flipping through, researching this girl, trying to convince himself that he had kept her alive merely for the fact that she was a truly useful piece of merchandise, and not because…because of the other reason he was dreading.
And, it would appear that she was a good little girl. She’d been doomed since birth; Ivan Braginski had many families under his thumb, and it was easy enough to acquire children. She’d been given, practically, and placed in one of the ‘homes’ all the young children were ‘raised’ in by his ‘family units’. It was an intricate system, really, but it was well worth all the effort in the long run; the girls reared in such homes turned out to be far more obedient and complacent than those taken in as teenagers. And obedient and complacent you were as it would seem, seeing as you were apparently very popular within the company. Twice as many referrals and recommendations as most other girls, and many many more requests than the others, you held an impressive record. Five owners in the past eight years, and not a single complaint. Well, until the incident with your knee, that is.
‘Takes abuse well’, ‘happy to oblige desires’, ‘quiet’, ‘neat and orderly’, ‘the prettiest girl I’ve received yet’ were all praises penned into your reports. You were a good worker. It made sense that Ivan would want to keep you, make sure you stuck around longer. You were only 20 at the oldest (your exact age wasn’t known, seeing as all records of you had to be destroyed when you were acquired as a toddler) and he could easily squeeze 7 to ten more years out of you, barring any unforeseen circumstance or illness. Of course that was why he’d done it.
Whatever the reason, it was giving him a headache. He didn’t like it, even if it was reasonable, and he knew it was going to be a thorn in his side until you were well enough and on your way. He always felt ill when he had to see the girls. You could only hate someone so much before it started to physically take it’s toll on you, after all.
“Late,” he muttered, checking his watch and standing, resuming the pacing he’d ceased earlier. It was bad manners, honestly. He told them to have her at the estate by 9pm, and it was closer now to midnight, and he was not pleased. He had half a mind to call Toris in and have a ‘discussion about what was going on, and was in fact just about to call his poor assistant in, when he chanced a look out the window. The front lawn, covered in snow, sprawled out in the pallor of the moonlight before the house, was silent of movement, until the faint outline of a vehicle made it’s way to the drive, stopping just aside the gate. “Finally.” He watched as the small, sheepish form of the aforementioned man stepped from the front steep and started for the van, prints stretching behind him in the previously unmarred snow.
It wasn’t as if Ivan could really see what was going on down below his vantage point very well. He was only a man, after all, he had no special vision, no omnipresent knowledge of everything that took place on his estate. But when Toris did not immediately bring the girl into the house, as he’d been instructed to, Ivan began to grow impatient. And when the minutes ticked by slowly, he began to get angry.
‘I’m not sure why I’m surprised,’ he mused, grabbing his coat and slipping it over his broad shoulders. ‘It’s always been this way. I must do everything myself, or it’s not done right. You might’ve thought I’d learn by now…’ He easily pushed the heavy wooden front doors open, and paused on the step. It was a bit colder than he’d expected. Then again, he’d been holed up inside for three days, fretting and upsetting himself over this very moment. His boots made almost no noise as he tread lightly (for a man his size) across the snow covered ground. As he approached the gate and the van drove off into the night, he was greeted by a most peculiar sight. The woman he had decided to spare was sprawled in the snow, soaking, shivering, and generally not cooperating. Toris had been given the instruction of leading her promptly into the house, and seeing as she wasn’t in the house, that was an obvious sign of disobedience.
And after he was so generous as to let her keep her life? For shame.
“Toris,” he said quietly, keeping his expression calm. The smaller man spun around, eyes going wide in their usual manner. He began sputtering, trying to explain away his actions, but Ivan wuld have none of that.
“Sir, I was just escorting number 200 into the house, and I-“
“-Was taking too long,” Ivan finished. He knew how much it unnerved the Lithuanian man to cut him off in such a manner. “I thought I taught you better than that.” As Toris mumbled out an apology, Ivan’s eyes were downcast at the frail girl at his feet. She was trembling something horrible, though whether from fear or cold was yet to be discerned. The mop of unkempt (hair color) hair on top of her head fell limply around her face, obscuring her features, but he knew she had to have been terrified. They all were, after all. He’d never met one of the girls who didn’t whimper and shake in terror as his eyes past over her, trying to decide, on a whim, whether to let her continue living.
Without warning, Ivan crouched down to get a better look at the girl. He reached and took her chin in one of his gloved hands, forcing her to face him, though her eyes remained on the ground. He took in her features, noticing that her dossier did not lie; she was quite pretty, for a women. Even with the deathly pale of cold on her cheeks, her skin was perfect, at least on her face. It was easy to see the marks and scars elsewhere on her body, even in the darkness, but her face had been left in pristine condition, unmarred by past cruelties. ‘How considerate of them,’ Ivan mused, a tiny smile curling his lip for a half of a second. But as her eyes remained downcast, all he could see of them was her eyelashes.
“Look at me,” he commanded, and from behind him, he heard Toris translate. Swallowing hard, the girl’s eyes lifted to Ivan’s face, though not quite meeting his eyes. Her eyes were large and round, and had somewhat of a nervous quality about them. Her pupils were dilated in fear, but even so, he could see her irises shined a brilliant (eye color) in the moonlight.
It was then that Ivan felt that familiar twisting in his heart. It was as if you had looked upon a beautiful animal, and extremely rare and gorgeous thing, and then made to watch it’s slaughter. His grip tightened against her skin, and her breathing hitched, though she made no sound. Those eyes are what did it; they were so feminine, so decidedly female, that he couldn’t help the rage that bubbled up in his chest. Those eyes; he knew she would use those eyes to her advantage. She would try to exploit him using her eyes, and anything else to her advantage! But he was not weak like other men. He wouldn’t be twisted and bent to her will because of her stupid assets. He wasn’t weak like he was before. And he wouldn’t let that happen again.
“Disgusting,” he muttered, tossing her aside and straightening up. He cast his gaze to Toris, who until now had not moved a muscle. “Toris,” he began, turning slightly away, to make his way back into the mansion, “translate this, will you? If she doesn’t stop sniveling on the ground like a broken doll, I’ll give her something to really cry about.”
“Yes Sir!” he replied, nodding his head as the boss turned away and started making his way back up the drive. He’d had enough of this, he was going to bed. He’d not let another one of his precious minutes be eaten up with worry over that…thing. He wouldn’t allow her that power over him. He’d already surrendered enough time fretting, and his time of weakness must come to an end. He was the man, he commanded her! He would not allow her to command any ore of his time.