With the Warden

Author's note: I'm fairly confident that this isn't at all canon, but it was definitely fun nonetheless. We'll call it AU. Still don't own 'em, though.


She rises mechanically, hitting the alarm clock on the way up and moving clear-eyed to the closet to dress. Panties and bra, stockings, necklace, watch, skirt, heels, blouse, hat. The perfume leaves faint off-colored splotches on her collarbones; it's old and ought to be replaced, but it's hard to get fresh bottles out here.

Even in the dark, she knows the ins and outs of the room by heart. She deftly empties the ash tray on the bedside table into the trash can by the door, returns to the table to tip the cigarettes threatening to slide out of the pack back in and slips the pack in her handbag on top of the dresser. He let her order her own curtains and fixtures, though how he got them here she has no idea. It's been only a few months, but the space is still decidedly familiar, hers, as much as anything can be on his deserted factory island.

It's all so deceptively normal.

She leaves the bed unmade, sheets still just thrown off as they were. The door is shut behind her with the knob turned so gingerly that the action is silent. Her heels click smartly on the unfinished floor.

From the bedroom, she clicks to the kitchen, where she makes eggs for two (three for the boss—one hard-boiled, one poached, one scrambled just the way he likes them). While they're cooking she sets the little brushed-steel table. The top panel is all inlaid glass in heartbreakingly vibrant blues and greens, but she dispenses placemats and plates without a second glance.

Simultaneously she's putting the coffee on, frying up a pan of bacon; she peels and slices an orange for him. She even pares a little orange twist off the edge of the peel and curls it at the edge of his plate for decoration. And with every step she remembers a time when this would have been wonder. When she'd invite the kids from the orphanage to her tiny studio apartment for breakfast and laugh so hard at their jokes as she cooked that she dropped a skillet once. Or larger meals than that, even; one of the times she'd sautéed and slopped at a soup kitchen and basked humbly in grateful smiles. It isn't domesticity she's opposed to.

She sets the hard-boiled egg into a delicate ceramic egg cup; spatulas the others onto two plates. She hates that he makes her do this. Fresh orange juice comes out of the industrial-sized refrigerator—they have to stock up for a long time out here—and is poured into two crystal glasses. Bad enough that she works these ridiculous hours, bad enough that he treats the children the way he does, bad enough that she's trapped here, bad enough that the cost of her cigarettes comes out of her paycheck, for God's sake— The coffee is ready and she transfers it to his coffee mug, which changes from black to white with the heat (he loves little gadgets like that).

She smokes two cigarettes while she does all this. She never used to be a smoker before she came here.

It's just the implications she resents, as though by asking her to make breakfast in the morning he's blurring the boundaries between secretary and…not-secretary. Something else. Wife or lover or something. As though he's asserting that there's meaning in this. That it's not just forced labor, not even just a job, and not just an…arrangement. Making breakfast is the kind of act that should be a gesture, that should be done out of love or respect or…something, something that means something, which this doesn't. And to demand that she do it is to demand that she feel it.

She feels nothing but irritation as she finishes with the bacon and returns to her bedroom.

Normally he gets up early in the mornings and works out. Maybe sits at the table smirking at her as she cooks. Not this morning, not after last night. She opens the door less gently this time to find everything just as she's left it. Expressionless, she moves around to the far side of her bed, tosses her sheets all the way back to the foot of it, and addresses the bare-boned soul who has migrated into the center of her mattress in her absence.

"Domino," she says, "time to get up."