The Wrong Wall

Oct 06, 2009 18:07

Title: The Wrong Wall
Author: Alsike

Fandom: X-Men/Criminal Minds x-over

Pairing: Emma Frost/Emily Prentiss

Rating: R

AN/Disclaimer: Not my girls.

Word Count: 2777

Prompt: 026. Harems
Apologies: I don't even know what happened with this one.  It started off going in one direction and then just wandered wherever the f*ck it wanted to go.  I don't even know whether this is AU, or just really meta.  And then it ended.

Rule one about small children: If they ask for a story, read one, do not make one up.

Rule two: If they beg you to make one up, crib heavily from folklore or Disney movies, do not try to come up with a compelling plot on your own.  Do not try to summarize Dostoyevsky.  Children have little patience for psychological novels, especially ones without happy endings.

Rule three:  If you do manage to come up with a workable idea, and the child falls asleep halfway through, do not extend it into a pornographic fantasy for your lover’s entertainment, because the next night, when the child requests for you to finish the story, it will be very difficult to edit all the dirty bits out.


It was the wrong wall.  That’s all she could say.  Running from the Sultan’s guards she had been dashing over rooftops, cutting through alleys, bouncing off tents, and she had come to this wall.  It was in her way, and there didn’t seem to be any way to go around it, so she went over with daring and style.

Well, the style lasted until she tripped over one of the spiky bits and fell, head first, into a perfumed pool, displacing a few lilies, a pair of swans, and six shrieking maidens.  (Honestly, they had seemed like maidens at the time!)

“It’s a man!  A man!”

Man or not, she was going to drown, thought Emily as she spluttered to the surface once more and went under again.  But a hand wrapped around her ragged shirt and dragged her into shallow water.  Straightening up, Emily blinked.

She must be dead, she thought.  The world she knew was sand and stones, rough patched tents and warm piles of garbage to sleep in.  This place she was in now was a garden lined in marble and gold with flowers and fountains.  The cushions were silk and the canopies velvet, and it was full of beautiful women, all ages, and in all stages of dress and undress.  And the group that had just fled the pool were only distractedly protecting their modesty, too interested in what the purportedly male visitor would do next.

Emily thought back quickly, wondering whether she might have managed to die for Allah any time in the recent past and just not noticed.  Nothing sprung to mind, not that that meant it hadn’t happened.

“Do try to breathe,” commented a cool arch voice.  “It would be a shame to have you suffocate after having been saved from drowning.”

Emily hurriedly sucked in air, not having noticed the tightness in her chest, and glanced around to see the person who had saved her.

She was a foreigner, pale as a ghost, with eyes like chips of sapphire and just as hard.  Emily gaped vaguely.  “Are you Houri?”

“I hate to tell you this isn’t paradise.  You look like you could use a little bit of it.”

Emily felt suddenly self-conscious.  She hadn’t quite recovered from the few months she had spent in prison.  With her wet shirt clinging to her body, the outlines of her ribs were visible, and her hair was still roughly hewn, barely falling past her ears.  She tugged out her shirt so at least the marks on her back wouldn’t be visible through the thin cloth.

“Is it really a man, Emma?” inquired a stern voice.  Emily winced as she spotted the battleaxe of a woman coming towards her.

“Um…” she wasn’t quite certain which response would get her in more trouble.

“Really?  I’ve never seen a man!”

A child, also pale and foreign, peeked out from behind the woman and examined Emily eagerly.

“Of course you have.  You’ve seen the Sultan, haven’t you?”

“But he’s not a man.  He’s the Sultan!”

And Emily suddenly had a strong inkling of where she had ended up.  She hurriedly looked about for guards, but none were immediately menacing.

“And the Eunuchs.”

The child made an expression that they were not quite satisfactory to the definition either.

“I’m sorry to inform you,” said Emma, her rescuer, coolly, “that it is not a man.”  Her eyes flicked over to Emily’s and she arched an eyebrow ironically.  “Just a boy.”

“Aww,” the child pouted.

“I will call for the guards.”

“Oh, please don’t!” yelped Emily.

The battleaxe peered down at her and looked disapproving.  “And why should we not?”

“They’ll kill me this time.”

It was probably futile to throw herself on their mercy, but Emily didn’t have any other options.

“I am certain that it is their duty to do so, and completely within their right.”

“Madame Selene,” interjected her rescuer.  “Isn’t it apparent that this… boy… has suffered the attentions of the Sultan’s guards enough already?”

The battleaxe’s eyes fell on Emily again, but seemed unmoved.  It was the child who exclaimed, “He’s been whipped!”

There was outcry from the gathered women, and Emily felt the tide slightly shift in her favor.  Selene’s eyes narrowed, but her target was Emily’s rescuer rather than Emily herself.

“So what do you suggest, Emma?”

Emma’s fingers closed around Emily’s chin and turned her face towards Selene.  “He’s pretty.”

A heavy banging came on two arched doors on the far side of the natural enclosure.  “The Sultan’s guards request to search the harem!” came a booming call.

The women shrieked again and started hurrying around, draping themselves in scarves and cloth.  Even the ones who were covered, wrapped scarves around their heads, shadowing their faces.

Emma hoisted Emily out of the pond and pulled her towards a dim doorway.  “Come.”

She pulled her into a small room, filled to the brim with silks and dresses.  “Strip, and throw those clothes in the brazier.  They need burning to get the lice out.”

Emily hunched her shoulders, attempting to avoid her eyes.

“Oh, relax.  I knew they’d be more interested in you if they thought you were a boy.  A woman like you, they wouldn’t have any problem throwing to the tigers.”

Hesitantly Emily turned around and started stripping off her ragged clothes.  The hiss of breath when the wet cloth peeled away from her still raw welts was her own.  Her rescuer did not react at all.  When she was naked, Emma tossed her a cloth.

“Dry yourself.”

Then she found clothes and wrapped Emily carefully in silks, not touching her back, but groping her breasts absently with a slight grin of amusement, that made her very uncomfortable.

The scarf that went around her head and covered her head was the last addition.  Emma pushed back her blunt fringe and considered the result.

“You are pretty.  Not interested in using it?”

Emily cringed at the implication, and Emma laughed.  “It’s not that bad.  Especially here.  He has so many to choose from, and so many that are competing for his favor, that if you just slide into the background you hardly have to visit at all.”

“I’d rather be thrown to the tigers than be a slave.”

Emma rolled her eyes and shoved her towards the door.  “Oh, don’t tell me the guards didn’t do you worse in prison.”

“Why do you think they whipped me?”  Emily spat back.  “I wouldn't let them touch me.”

“And after?”

“I cut a man’s throat with his own knife and escaped.  It makes them stupid.  You have to see your chance.”

“Shh,” Emma pressed her finger against Emily’s lips.  “They’re looking for you.”

The guards were rooting through the harem, overturning benches and peeking around corners, but giving the women a wide berth.  The line of beefy-armed eunuchs behind them was probably encouraging this.

The searched everywhere, but didn’t even look in Emily’s face as she stood brazenly before them.  Eventually one said that the culprit must have gone along the wall, and dropped back down into the city somewhere a few streets down, and they left.

Emily breathed again.


When the guards had left, the women convened a meeting, and said that the boy would be allowed to stay for one night, but he would be locked in the far enclosure, and in the morning he would find a way to leave, or they would inform the eunuchs of his presence.

Emily slowly realized in their discussion that these women were all prisoners here.  They were thrilled with considering the ways she might escape.  She wondered if any would dare to follow.

It grew dark and they pushed her into the enclosure.  It had been built for a pet tiger who had long since died, but it latched very securely.  She rattled the door once or twice, before settling down in the little hut on the tiger’s old cushion to try to sleep.

“Boy, boy,” came a whisper at her cage, she crawled out of the hut and over to the bars where the child from before was hovering, her strange light hair glistening in the moonlight.  “You look strange in those clothes.  Your hair’s all boy, but your clothes are all girl.”

Emily smiled awkwardly and shrugged.  Everyone had been very amused by the costume before.  She wondered if she actually had been a boy, whether this would have been even more embarrassing.  It was humiliating enough as it was.

“Will you kiss me?”

“What?” Emily yelped.

The child looked irritated.  “I want you to kiss me.  I’ve never kissed a boy.”

“But I don’t think-”

“You had better do it, or I’ll shout and say you tried to touch me.”

This was certainly a child much older than she looked.  “Do you know what happens to little girls who lie?”

“I’m going to shout.”

“Fine!” Emily cursed.

The child giggled.  “You curse like a boy!”

She pressed her face against the bars and puckered her lips.  Emily wrinkled her nose, but brushed her mouth quickly across that of the child’s.  It was barely a peck, but the girl laughed and scurried off.

“Well that was interesting.”  Emma stepped out of the shadows.

Emily leaned against the bars and groaned.  “It was extortion.”

“She has a talent for it.”  Emma unhooked the latch and stepped inside the enclosure.  “I brought something for your back.”


Emma quickly bullied her back into the hut and made her strip off the top of her clothing and lie down on the cushion.  She straddled Emily’s hips and settled onto her ass.  Emily kept her arms pressed tightly to her sides.

The salve was cool and Emma’s fingers gently spread it over her inflamed back.  Emily tried to stay quiet, but when she reached a particularly painful welt, she couldn’t help letting out a soft moan.  But it worked quickly, and the pain faded sparse seconds after the salve’s application.  She could feel Emma’s breath on her neck, and when she ran her hands over her lower back, she moaned again, but for a different reason.

“I know what you are,” Emma whispered in her ear.  Then, unexpectedly, she pressed her lips to Emily’s neck.  Emily stiffened.  “I want it.”

She half lifted up, twisting around to see Emma’s face.  “But-”

“I am just as good at extortion as that little girl,” she whispered like a threat.

“Why?  Why me?”  It seemed absurd that in this tight female world, there would be no opportunity for such a thing.  But Emma just smiled and leaned in, pressing her nose into her hair just behind her ear and breathing in.

“Because you smell like outside.”

Emily turned farther into her and caught her mouth, kissing her.  Emma kissed back, lips parted, tongues pressing against each other.  Rolling Emily fully onto her back, she twisted her fingers into her hair, keeping her head tipped back, and her mouth occupied.  Emily struggled to push away her loose clothing until she could feel her skin.  Finally it slipped away, and they pressed together, Emily’s arms wrapping around her torso and pulling her down.

Emma broke the kiss and took a swift gasp of air.  She looked down, slightly incredulous, and shook her head.  Then her hands slid up Emily’s chest and cupped her breasts.  She bent her head and nipped gently at the skin of her neck.

“I just need to taste something real.”

Emily closed her eyes and breathed in a fantasy.



Emily woke up slowly, feeling warm and relaxed for the first time in far too long.  Morning light was falling in the doorway of the hut, and Emma was hurriedly dressing.

“I shouldn’t have stayed.”  Emma cursed.  “I shouldn’t have slept.”

Emily sat up slowly and looked around for something to put on.

Emma slipped out the doorway as she pulled her outer robe loosely around her, and Emily moved awkwardly to the doorway of the hut.

Emma hadn’t gone far.  The gate was locked and Selene was leaning against the bars.

“Hello, Emma,” she said, clearly unsurprised.  “How lovely to see you here.”

“Selene,” Emma replied stiffly.  “Let me out.”

“Let you out?”  she asked as if misunderstanding, and then her voice changed.  She looked harsh and gleeful like a djinn with a victim.  “Let you out?  When I get to see you die?”

“Selene!”  Emma’s response was sharp, with no trace of panic, but Emily could see her knuckles clench until they were ice-pale.

“Do you remember the story?”

“What are you talking about?”

“The story of Sherizade?  Not the ones she told, but the one she lived?  The one about women like you, the wives of kings, who were so insatiable that they took base black slaves as lovers and died for their lust?  You have a Sultan for a husband, and yet you fill yourself with the cock of a dirty criminal?”  Selene smiled.  “I knew you would.  That’s why I let him stay.  You have no idea how long I’ve ached to see your blood.”


"Your husband?"  Emily asked as she balanced on the roof of the hut, seeing if she could reach the top of wall.

"I was a gift, a political expediency.  Younger than the child."  Emma slithered up behind her and caught her waist.  Emily tensed and nearly fell.  "Hold still."  She lifted her up on her shoulders.

Emily palmed the smooth marble.  The top of the wall was still far too high.  Death was looking promising, but it had done so often enough before.  She slid off off Emma's shoulders and off the roof.  The latch was still as firm as the last three times she had checked.  The guards would be back in moments.

"Is she his wife as well?"

Emma leaned against the bars, quiet for a moment.  "No."

Emily fiddled with a stick trying to catch the handle of the latch.  The stick broke.  "His concubine then?  That's what most of the women here are, right?"

Emma didn't respond.

"Where are you from?"

"The north."

"Do you want to go back there?"

Emma rolled her eyes.  "Before or after they chop my head off?"

"Before, preferably."

"I don't care.  I went from one master to another.  If there's no difference, how can there be a preference?"

Emily nodded and gave up.  "Do you think they would be more lenient if they... knew?"

Emma shrugged.  "Unlikely.  Harboring a criminal is always a good fallback."

The most humiliating part was walking in her disguise.  It felt desperate, and a waste.  If she were going to be executed, Emily would rather to go as herself, whoever that was.  She took off the headscarf, not caring if that meant she was claiming to be a man.  She wondered if a prophet had said it, that it was better to die as a man than live as a woman.  It was insulting, whoever had said it, but true.

The gates of the harem swung shut behind them.  The women were gathered, watching, the child held back in one woman's arms, looking lost and confused.  The lock clicked and the sandals of the guards clicked against the floor in unison.

"She's my daughter," said Emma, flatly.  "I was twelve."


There was always a chance.  This one came when the Wazier arrived in a fury and tripped over one of the guards' spears, tumbling to the floor.  There was a moment of panic and while the guards on Emily's side were distracted with trying to help him up, Emily did what she was good at.  She ran.

And every footstep was a hundred other footsteps, ever since the first time, with the burning house and the screaming, and how she couldn't stop, couldn't help, could never save anyone but herself.

Sometimes she wondered when there wouldn't be enough of herself left to save.

criminal minds, x-men, citrus taste, emma/emily

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