A/N: There are pieces of this story in a foreign language. In order to know what is said, look for the correlating asterisks at the bottom of the post. Also, I think some of you know this, but many of you have been urging me to continue some of my one shots. I have a few more to post, but soon there will be a vote at my site where you'll be able to select one if not two one shots that you want to see continued, so, when you read one that you particularly enjoy, keep it in mind. Thanks and enjoy!
A One Shot
FNF#42: Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
There were three things that she recalled about her life from before: 7284... whatever that number meant, she once knew how and liked to draw, and her real name. Everything else – her life, her family, how she had become what she was, all the important things, Anessia couldn't remember. For years, she had believed that it didn't matter, that forgetting who she was wasn't important, because she'd never get the chance to escape, but everything was different now, and she felt like a failure.
Her existence was a cruel one. She worked, and she slept, and she did whatever she was told in the hopes that she wouldn't displease somebody and then be punished. Where she came from, punishments could range from extra duties to violent beatings. Despite the fact that she knew no other kind of life, there was a part of Anessia deep down which knew such treatment was wrong, but it was also effective. It only took one severe lashing for her to be taught to keep her mouth shut and her head bowed in submissiveness. While her life was miserable, she didn't need to do anything to make it worse.
For years, she had lived that way. Trapped in a small, dark, musty factory with hundreds of other women her age, Anessia minded her own business. Sometimes, women would come and go, but she never asked questions. A part of her didn't want to know. While, for the others' sake, she hoped that, when the girls left they went to a better place, she knew better than to believe in such a fairytale. After all, who would rescue one of them? They were nobodies, hidden away from the rest of society and treated worse than animals. Even with her lack of education, Anessia knew her existence wasn't right.
She also knew that she wasn't really Russian... despite what her name and papers of identification said. Although she couldn't recall her past, she knew she had one, and she knew that it had taken place far, far away from the freezing, foreign lands of Siberia. Somehow, she knew that, while she had never exactly been happy, she had, at least, once been content. It was difficult, though, to recall what that feeling was like, for there was nothing in her present world to offer her any comfort or joy. Kindness was an unknown concept. Even amongst the other girls, they refused to help each other out in fear that such behavior would be seen as rebellious and then would lead to punishment. However, she did know that there was something better out there... somewhere, and that knowledge made her existence even worse.
It was a tease for Anessia, like the promise of sleep after a long, tiresome day only to know that there weren't enough blankets to share and beds were luxuries they were not provided with. While, at first, she could remember hoping and praying to be rescued, to be saved, after years of abuse, mistreatment, and near starvation, she knew better than to waste her energies on such pointless dreams. Her life was what it was. She had been resigned to it never changing, to eventually dying without ever knowing of anything better than cruelty and torture.
And then she was ordered to pack, told that she was leaving, that, if she was a good girl and did what she was told, if she didn't make anyone unhappy, that she'd never be coming back. Packing was really said in loose terms. At the factory, it meant to give away all your measly belongings – your bar of soap and washrag, your one work uniform, and, if you were lucky, your blanket. Despite the fact that Anessia didn't know where the girls went when they left, she did know that they were given new clothes – a couple of dresses that she regarded as scandalous, bright, practically non-existent numbers that made them stand out instead of fading into the background. They were allowed a proper shower with proper hygiene products, and, when they finally left, they were always heavily made up. To Anessia, they had always made her think of the street walker she had once seen. That, in and of itself, told her all she needed to know about where the women went when they left.
While she might have been an innocent when it came to love and relationships – after all, the girls at the factory were certainly not allowed to spend any time in the company of males other than their guards, that did not mean that she was ignorant to what happened between a man and a woman. Unfortunately, Anessia knew that all too well, and, as she waited at the American airport to be picked up, to be claimed, that's all she could think about. After all, the guards had not limited their punishments to just beatings and lashings.
If she wouldn't have been so scared about the recent turn her life had taken, she would have been amazed and certainly intimidated by her surroundings. Never before, at least from what she could recall, had she been in a place that was so loud, so bright, so busy. People – chatting, laughing, happy people – bustled past her, too involved in their own daily lives to worry about the frightened, tiny woman in the garish red dress and high heeled shoes. In fact, Anessia wasn't even too sure that her outfit was actually inappropriate as she gazed at those around her. Men and women alike wore revealing clothing – shorts that revealed their legs, shirts that exposed their stomachs, dresses that plunged down and made it known to the world that they could not possibly be wearing the proper undergarments. It made her even more uncomfortable.
Before she had left, she had been told only a few things about her new life. The first was that she was to do whatever she was told, just like at the factory. While the man she was traveling to live with might be more lenient than what she was used to, that did not mean that she could believe herself his equal. She was still a nothing. She was also told that she was going to a place called Port Charles, New York. Where that was, Anessia did not know except that it was not in Russia but in America. Before she could even think to ask a question – not that she would in fear of stepping out of bounds, she had been informed that everything else would be revealed to her once she was in her new home.
Although, she wondered if anything could be worse than life at the factory. At least that was familiar. There, she knew what was expected of her, what was right and what was wrong, and she knew how to survive in that type of existence. Wherever she was going would be new, different, unknown, and that scared Anessia more than the idea of never leaving the factory ever had before. But what could she do about her present situation?
She was alone, knew nobody and nothing of her strange location, and she was trained only to be subservient. She had no skills, no education, and what she could remember of the English language was broken and inadequate. Granted, she could comprehend more than she could actually speak herself, but Anessia wasn't too sure that was a good thing. A part of her didn't want to hear and understand what her new... owner... had to say, what he thought, what he wanted from her. At least, if his native tongue was foreign to her, she would have been able to hide in ignorance until the moment came when he finally struck.
She was standing alone, partly hidden by a large, potted plant when she heard someone clear their throat behind her. Although the noise was obviously intentional, she was surprised that someone was showing such concern towards her. Obviously, they didn't want to startle her. So, with a thoughtful expression lining her youthful face, she slowly pivoted around, careful to not lose her balance on the ridiculous shoes she'd been forced to wear.
Again, she was shocked. Not only was the stranger being polite to her, but he also spoke Russian. Although it had only been hours since she had heard the language she was most comfortable with, Anessia was grateful for a little touch of the familiar... even if the familiar wasn't very comforting. Nodding her head yes to answer the man's question, she offered him a small smile when, without words, he reached out and took her small carry-on bag from her. With a jerk of his head, he indicated the direction in which they were going to leave by, and she trailed after him, timidly buoyed by his polite behavior towards her.
With his back towards her, Anessia had a moment to observe the man. He was large, much bigger than she was, muscular and tall, but his size did not make her fear him. Rather, it made him seem confident and self-assured, someone who could assert themselves and their wishes without having to resort to physical violence to achieve loyalty and discipline, someone who wouldn't beat her to make sure that she followed his orders. Astonishingly as well, he made her feel safe. Whether it was his kind, perceptive azure eyes or the gentle way in which he spoke to her, she wasn't sure, but she also wasn't going to question it either. While the serenity lasted, she was going to savor it.
They were safely tucked into his large vehicle and on their way to their destination before he spoke to her again, asking if she understood his native tongue. "Вы говорите на английском языке?"**
"A little," Anessia replied unsteadily, testing out the words as if she had never used them before. Though she knew in her life before that she had been fluent in the English language, it had been so long since she had an opportunity to use it. "I... hear it... better?"
He nodded but then continued to speak to her in Russian. He told her about his trips to St. Petersburg, to Moscow, and he inquired as to where she was from. When she answered that she didn't know, the stranger surprised her again when he didn't press for information. Instead, he smoothly changed the subject, informing her all about her new home town. He talked about the park, about his favorite place to eat called Kelly's, and he explained that Port Charles was on the shores of a lake and how he liked to simply sit on the docks and listen to the water. He talked about his motorcycle, about going fast and something called the cliff roads, and he promised her that he'd introduce her to his grandmother and that maybe they could garden together.
And, for thirty blissful minutes, Anessia finally allowed herself to imagine a better life. If the man beside her was to be the man she now took orders from, the man she now lived with, she knew that she could be happy. Jason Morgan, as he introduced himself, was a man of honor, of grace, of dignity, and she trusted him enough after that all too brief car ride together to know that he would never intentionally hurt her. Maybe that was why, when he went to slip out of the vehicle, she impulsively reached out and grabbed his arm, stopping him briefly.
"Please," she beseeched him, "call me Elizabeth."
She could read dozens of questions in his piercing gaze, but he didn't voice a one. Instead, he nodded, agreeing to her request, and then stepped out of the SUV, jogging around the front of the car and opening her door for her before she could. Again, as they approached the large, intimidating house, he carried her bag for her, and she was startled to see a man simply standing at the front door... as if he were on watch. Like before, though, she didn't question anything.
After entering the home, they encountered another man – one shorter, darker, and much more agitated than Jason – in the main room. He was pacing, a glass of liquor clasped tightly in his left hand and muttering to himself. Immediately, Anessia felt tense with the new stranger, ill at ease. He, unlike the man standing beside her, did not invoke feelings of confidence and trust within her. In fact, he scared her considerably, and all her previous, silly notions of finally finding a safe place disappeared like snow flakes landing on a warm, bare palm.
"So, this is the girl, huh?" As if appraising her like produce at the market, the stranger continued. "A little thin for my taste, but I'll cook for her, make sure she fills out those curves more."
Maybe ignoring the other man or perhaps just trying to ease her worry, Jason turned to her and introduced the dark complexioned man. "Это – Sonny Corinthos, Anessia."*** She was eternally grateful that he didn't share the confidence of her real name.
For as long as she possibly could, she held Jason's gaze, but, when the other man spoke once more, she watched as he turned to face the obvious owner of the house. The way Jason acted around the man addressed as Sonny reminded her of the way she had behaved towards the guards – subordinate. Her fear grew. "Is she everything they promised," Corinthos demanded to know. "Innocent, pure, untouched?"
And, for the first time that evening, her control snapped. Even after years of mastering it, she couldn't contain her laughter. Was the little, cocky man serious? He had ordered her, obtained her from men who treated her and the other women they owned no better than slaves, than whores, and he thought she'd be what... a virgin? Though the only sexual intercourse she had ever experienced had been non-consensual, she knew Sonny would still blame her, would still consider her unchaste and used.
"Why's she laughing, Jason?"
Turning to the very same man, she explained her thoughts, again in Russian. "Действительно ли этот человек - идиот? Он заказывал мне; он заказывал невесте от преступников - убийства, воры, насильники, и он ожидал, что я буду чистым? Я только..."****
Snapping, Sonny Corinthos yelled, "what the hell is she saying, Jason? What the hell is going on?"
And then she realized that everything was about to fall apart. She wasn't what Sonny Corinthos wanted, he was going to be unhappy with her, and he was going to send her back. Despite the fact that, just an hour before, she had been wondering if life at the factory would have been better than the unknown, she knew that it wasn't. At least, here, she had Jason and all the wonderful things he told her about. Even if she didn't actually experience them herself, just hearing about them had given her more joy than she had ever known before. No matter what, she couldn't go back to her life in Russia. She'd rather die.
Dropping to her knees, she grabbed hold of Jason's pant legs and started to plead with him. In her desperation, she didn't even notice the tears that were falling. "Пожалуйста, пожалуйста, я не могу возвратиться там. Я не могу! Вы не понимаете. Они предупредили меня. Они сказали мне делать то, независимо от того, что ожидалось из меня, и, если я не сделал... Если я возвращусь там, то они не будут только убивать меня; они будут мучить меня, больше так, чем они когда-либо имеют прежде. И я не могу... Пожалуйста, я делаю что - нибудь. Пожалуйста!"*****
Carefully, so as not to hurt her, Jason stood her up and moved her so that she could sit down in the nearest chair. As he spoke to his boss, for it was obvious that he worked for Sonny Corinthos, she wept softly, too afraid to make a lot of noise but too sad to stop. "She stays. You are not sending her back."
"But I requested..."
Jason's voice was lethal, deadly, but it didn't frighten her. "She's a woman, Sonny, an innocent, abused, raped woman. It's not her fault that she isn't what you ordered. You know that I disagreed with this whole idea from the start, but you refused to listen to me, you the man who taught me to never lay a hand on a woman, to never disrespect them. I don't care if she's not what you wanted. She's here now, and she is not going back to that place."
"Let's get one thing straight, Jason. You don't tell me what to do."
"Fine, if you don't want to do this because it's the right thing to do, then think about it selfishly. After all, you're good at that."
"You're skating on thin ice," Sonny warned, his tone clipped.
"Your deadline's almost up. You have until the end of the month to marry or else, so you don't have enough time to send for another bride. If you don't marry Anessia, you know what will happen."
"Alright, the girl can stay." Relieved, she glanced up only to wish that she hadn't, because, when she looked into the black, cold eyes of Sonny Corinthos, she knew that he wasn't a kind man. And then he smiled, and the bottom of her world fell away, disintegrated below her feet, and left her struggling for purchase. In one word, in that smile she saw raw, distorted hate.
Glancing at Jason Morgan out of the corner of her eye, she knew he saw it, too.
* "You Anessia?"
** "Do you speak English?"
*** "This is Sonny Corinthos, Anessia."
**** "What is this guy – an idiot? He ordered me; he ordered a bride from criminals – from murders, thieves, rapists, and he expected, what, that I would be pure? I just..."
***** "Please, please, I can't go back there. I can't! You don't understand. They warned me. They told me that I had to do what I was told, and, if I didn't... If I go back there, they will not only kill me; they'll torture me, even more than they ever did before. And I can't... Please, I'll do anything. Please!"