Hellfire 8

Feb 01, 2010 09:36

Title: Hellfire (8/10?) (Sequel to Human)

Author: Alsike

Fandom: X-Men/Criminal Minds x-over

Pairing: Emma Frost/Emily Prentiss

Rating: R

AN/Disclaimer: Not my girls.

Apologies: I am going to finish this, dammit.  Consider this the beginning of the final drive towards the end.  Finally some plot in this part! And I do apologize, but way too much Sebastian.

Summary: Emma's an X-man now, but she wasn't always fighting for truth, justice, and peaceful-coexistence. Emily has had a taste of her past, but is she ready to meet the White Queen?


Emily peeked out of her closet and scowled at her mirror. “What do you wear to the Hellfire Club?” She stared at herself and drooped. Her stomach felt poisoned, as if it were nothing but a heavy bag of sand inside her. She knew she shouldn’t be doing this, but she had to know.

From the very beginning there had been something unknowable about Emma, something, that from the inside, felt buried deep, that felt lost and alone. It was idiotic to think that she had some right to know, or even some way to find out. But it always seemed to rise to the surface around her, when Emily was hurt, or sad, or absolutely furious.

Maybe it made her too lenient, give in too easily. If only because it felt so much like something that she knew so well. And she had given in too easily. She had let Emma dictate everything, when they were together, when they weren’t. She had dictated her own forgiveness. And Emily always had to beg.

Fucking clothing. She had a pair of boots, a skirt, a tight, darted top, and put her hair up, then spread dark red lipstick across her mouth. She was ready to go.

* * *

“Miss Prentiss! I’m so honored that you’ve come!”

The servant who took her coat seemed to fade away into the dark oak paneling of the foyer, and a man she recognized by his wolfish smile and incredibly out-of-date close-clipped muttonchops hurried up to greet her. He seemed to have washed his hair in the interim between weekends, which was a great improvement.

“Ah, Hi. Mr… Shaw, correct?”

“Indeed,” he smiled. “The Lord Imperial, at your service.”

Emily tipped her head to the side. “Is that something like Dictator-for-life?”

“Perhaps, but I know better than Caesar, I think, to watch my back, even from those I consider friends.”

“Really.” Emily’s glance was steady. “Do you have many friends here?”

“Oh, my dear Miss Prentiss, everyone here is my friend. Including you, I hope.”

“Of course. Since it does not forestall me from sticking the knife in, why not?”

He laughed. “It is your first time to the Hellfire Club. Let me show you the way into the party.”

He held out his arm. She shook her head tightly, but stepped next to him, to allow him to lead. He took the rejection with a wry amusement and led the way out into a dark hall, lit only by a high candle-bearing chandelier. It led in three directions. To the right was a long curving hall. To the left was an open door that showed a dim stairwell, and ahead was a grand staircase. Sebastian led her towards that. Emily could hear voices from above and she breathed slightly more easily.

“The best club is in New York,” he said, conversationally. “But we have branches in Boston, Los Angeles, Austin, every major city in the US, and most European capitals as well.”

“Only most?”

“I’m afraid both Lithuania and Andorra are not on our list.”

“The Vatican?”

“Why, of course.”

“Any presence in Asia?”

“Singapore, Tokyo, Dubai… the branch in Hong Kong and the one in Bombay are run by our British brethren, so we don’t have any responsibility for them.”

“There’s a British version?”

“Some would say we are an offshoot of theirs, but as the title of Lord Imperial has now moved to this side of the Atlantic, it seems that the colonials have settled into an even footing.”

Emily doubted this, particularly by the way he kept mentioning his position as Lord Imperial every forty seconds. It was probably a recent development.

“But of course,” he continued. “You would be interested in the British branch.” He gave her a sidelong glance that made Emily wish for her coat. “I am very pleased you wore red. A few of your father’s relatives held positions quite high in the red suit. Your mother’s line, of course, was pure white.”

“Suits?” Emily furrowed her brow. “I thought it was more like chess than cards.”

Sebastian cocked his head. “You’re curious then? About… a position? Few humans rise up so far in our rankings these days. After the reimagining.” He looked at her slyly then, as if expecting her to react, and she felt a slithery touch against her shields, and tightened them. “Of course, are you indeed a sapiens? You do have some… ability it seems.”

“Purely taught.”

“Of course. You have had exposure.” He rolled his eyes. “And some people have no ability to stop teaching, whether or not it is safe to give information to certain types of students.”

Emily had wondered when the conversation would get around to that subject. She didn’t particularly want to talk about her. But she considered the insult. “All she told me,” she said, certain that she was showing off, and not really caring, “was that Telepathy was a match of will against will, and all I needed to do was strengthen my will, nothing more.”

“Really.” He took the riposte in the vein it was meant.

At the top of the stairs he opened the door with a wide sweeping gesture. “The Hellfire Club, Miss Prentiss, at your pleasure.”

It was almost a normal party, if there were normal parties where the norm was for men to wear waistcoats and cravats, and for women to wear nothing but fur and silk. And it was almost a normal room, save for the scent of cigars and well-oiled leather, and the harnesses and straps that blended in with the decorations on the walls. There were paintings with ornate frames done in gold-leaf, hunting trophies, and weaponry. Emily couldn’t help her eyes from settling on the assorted whips mixed in with the other implements. It felt unnervingly familiar, like a forgotten unsub’s basement, but on such a huge scale, that it was nearly unbelievable. What the fuck had she gotten herself into?

Sebastian offered her a drink and leaned casually against the bar. “You’re one of us now,” he said with a leer. “Are you interested in hearing about your rights?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Emily wanted to move away as quickly as possible. But his hand clamped down on her arm and he held her in a grip much stronger than his form suggested.

“Emma’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “Once you have Hellfire, you can never go back.”

“Look,” Emily hissed. She was tired of playing along. This had been a mistake, and she needed to get out of here before Emma caught her and ripped her up for wandering in so far over her head. “You speak with me straight, or you shut up. I don’t care about your little secret societies, or about playing a part in your vile threesome fantasies.”

Shaw chuckled. “Oh, that wasn't a fantasy. It’s actually… incredibly amusing that you would assume it so. The very first time, my dear departed wife and I decided that it would be just too unfair if we didn’t… share her.”

Emily stared at him, eyes widening. He stepped closer, murmuring into her ear.

“Emma was always my favorite, because she never thought anything was too disgusting or too perverted to try. And she was so… young. That was what made it delicious. How she pretended to be older, more mature, more in control, by never showing discomfort. You just pushed her towards the edge and she’d jump off of her own accord. She did learn to like some of what we showed her, rather than just gritting her teeth and taking it. I bet she’s shown you some things you never thought you’d like.”

“Don’t… don’t speak to me like that.” She sounded like her mother, but she didn’t have any other defenses here

He shook his head with a small smile. “Emma’s wonderful. But you haven’t even seen half of what the Hellfire Club has to offer. Sometimes you need to satiate your desires in a place where no one will blame you for it. No one will call in a marker. No one is waiting for you to slip.”

“I don’t need that.”

“Your mother wasn’t such a prude. She took advantage of what we have to offer.”

“Don’t you dare talk about her!”

“Why? Do you want her on a pedestal? Do you want to believe her pure of the same desires you have? The ones you hadn’t imagined until your lover showed you they were possible?”

“Shut up!” Emily turned to try and find the door. “I’m leaving.”

“No.” Sebastian stepped closer to her, pressing his hand into her chest and backing her against the wall. “You do not understand. This is the Hellfire Club, where we do not blame you for your desires. If you can accept your place here, you must accept that your mother belonged here as much as you, and that you have no reason to despise us for allowing her to pursue what she wanted.”

Emily shook her head, mute. Sebastian stepped away, laughing to himself.

“It would be truly hypocritical,” he said, “to be repulsed by your mother’s memory for a few innocuous visits, when your lover has slept with every man in this room.”

“I told you to shut up,” Emily hissed at him, shoving him aside. “Now get out of my way.”

“But there are so many people who want to meet you.”

Emily abandoned him in her wake. But she had already left it too late. The main doors opened and Emma swept into the room.

* * *

Emma was running late, but it was always better to arrive late than early, at least officially. Unofficially, it was always better to have a look around before the party started. There was a lot you could learn from the set up.

Checking into her hotel felt odd, and she hated that it felt odd to her to get a hotel in DC. It had been months since she had stayed there, months since the last time she had wandered around that apartment as if it were her own. She was used to hotels, penthouses and formality. She couldn’t have gotten unaccustomed to them so quickly.

There was a message waiting for her at the desk. That was strange, as far as she knew she had told no acquaintance where she planned to stay. And her secretary wasn’t likely to spill. She had made certain of that.

“Who is it from?” she asked the concierge.

“Mr. Frost.”

She stared at him blankly.

“Shall I read it?”

“No.” Of course not, you idiot, was the subtext. “Give it to me.”

She read it in the elevator.

My Dear Emma,

I find myself, for once, to be in the same city as you, at the same time. I would be gratified if we could meet some time today, preferably before eight, as I have another engagement then, and you could satisfy me as to the falsity of certain rumors that have been circulating.

Your Father

Suddenly Emma went from feeling mildly ill to very ill. She knew exactly what rumors he was talking about, and knew exactly that her last ditch smear campaign had been completely useless. It was already eight fifteen. She didn’t have a chance to meet him, and warn him off of whatever he intended to do.

The party at the Hellfire Club had started at eight, although the real action usually didn’t get going until midnight, the business deals were finished before then. It didn’t matter so much that she was late. There was nothing she had to get done. This meeting wasn’t business, although she couldn't’ truly say it was for pleasure either.

She considered the potential guests while showering, mulling on their reputations, their businesses, what they might know, who they might know. But she couldn’t bring herself to be interested in any of them. She ignored one thing it might mean. Perhaps she was just growing up. There were more important things than pleasure. She had to get the business done first. Put in the face time, play her role perfectly. The reputation of her new employer meant she had to walk the line even more carefully. She had to regain trust without making any promises, or any statements that were more than suggestive.

She had to stay for the real festivities, she thought sickly. If she didn’t, they would know it was a role, and they would assume it meant more than it did. Saying she wasn’t interested would be an insult. It would mean that their interest was to be despised. But the truth, that she was too tired to keep playing the role for so long, projecting a strength that Jean had stolen from her, was both an admittance of betrayal and of a dangerous vulnerability.

She blow-dried her hair and dressed quickly, lacing up her boots and pulling her heavy cape around herself. Her car was waiting outside. She stood in front of the mirror for one last moment, pulling herself together, becoming who she needed to be for these people, to survive in this place.

Of course, the moment she stepped in the door, all her careful, vaunted preparation disappeared as if she had never begun it at all.

* * *
Part 9

criminal minds, hellfire, x-men, emma/emily

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