A/N: Thanks to Ellen for putting up with me, being patient, beta-ing and writing the summary that I refused to write. And thanks to you for reading :)
Brittany was used to this, the routine of waking up in a dark motel room and pulling herself up from the now empty bed. The sheets were sprawled all around her, damp in places and reeking of sex. She didn't always black out, though she wasn't always punched and slapped until she did. She hissed as she sat up, this time apparently being particularly painful, and closed her eyes tightly.
It was only when she felt the trickling down her back that she reached around with her hand, brushing her fingertips softly over the skin and feeling wet stickiness. She paused again, a sharp jolt of pain running throughout her body when she pressed her fingers onto the area, and brought her hand to her face. Blood. She was used to that too. Usually they paid extra and she was told well in advance, but she was used to it.
She turned to the money that was laying haphazardly at the end of the bed. He left extra.
With a heavy sigh and a tight closing of her eyes as she braced herself for the pain, she pulled herself from the bed and towards the bathroom.
- LL -
She washed slowly, being extra careful when the water hit her back directly, withstanding the sharp sting for a moment until it became a kind of nice, dull pain. She lifted her face, the water colliding with the bruise that lay across her left cheek and her slowly developing black eye. She lifted her hand to her lip, softly wiping the blood away from the cut that lay there.
She looked down and watched the reddened water as it fell and crawled down the drain. It was a weird feeling, one that she was so used to it that it had become almost familiar. She liked to watch it go, to watch it all be wiped away, even while knowing that she would still have those scars and bruises when she looked in the mirror. It was a satisfyingly sickening sight to see the water turn crimson and scurry away, as if it couldn't wait to escape. She kind of wished she could just follow it down.
She had pulled herself out of the shower after a few more minutes, quickly washing her hair with the tiny bottles of shampoo that she was sure somebody had left behind. It wasn't the nicest motel; it was one that she and a lot of the other girls used regularly, in fact. It was run by decent people. People that just needed money, and needed business, and weren't going to turn it away no matter what form it came in. Brittany never resented them for allowing this to happen. She always made sure to clear up a little after, though on the days like today when there was blood on the bedsheets there wasn't much she could do. She looked at the deep red patches on the bed for a moment longer before picking up the money and stuffing it into the shoulder bag that she had brought with her.
She was back in her short skirt, revealingly low cut top and high heels after a few minutes. She didn't own clothes that looked any different.
"Brittany!" the older woman called as she walked past the main lobby. She had been hoping to go unnoticed, put her head down and walk the short distance back into the city. She looked up, smiling at one half of the couple that ran this place, and gave a short wave. "How was your room?" she went on, dropping her cigarette to the ground and stamping it out.
The younger woman shrugged, still somehow maintaining the smile. "It was as good as usual, Karen. Thank you."
The woman nodded, her smile faltering a little as she finally took in the cuts and bruises on Brittany's face. The younger woman had such strikingly blue eyes and such a beautiful smile that it was hard to notice anything else, though the purpling bruise had now become Karen's focus. She sighed, looking at Brittany sadly as she watched the girl's eyes drop, knowing that she had seen it. "Stay safe, Brittany," she said simply, having given up giving her the lecture years earlier.
Brittany nodded, lifting her eyes to meet concerned hazel. "I will."
- LL -
It had taken a little longer than usual to get back into the city, though she had avoiding the usual alleys due to the fact that it was already 11pm and it was unsettlingly dark. There was something about tonight that felt off.
She hated walking through the busier parts of the city, which is another reason why she had often opted for back alleys and the more deserted areas, as sparse as they were. She hated walking past people, because everybody could tell. Just from looking at her, people could tell what she did. With her short skirt, barely there top and shiny black heels. It's not like she wanted to be wearing it, there was just no choice.
She wasn't too far away from the house when a particularly rowdy group of guys passed on the busy street, five pairs of eyes instantly finding Brittany. She heard a wolf whistle come from the main guy as they approached her, refusing to leave her alone even when she dropped her head further and tried to move past. "Hey there," he smirked down at her, wiggling his brows.
"Move, please," she tried, glancing up at him. When he didn't budge she groaned, moving forwards anyway and pushing him back slightly in the process.
"Hey hey hey," he mocked, moving his hands to tightly grip her upper arms and hold her in place. She flinched, swallowing hard as she stumbled back a little. "That's no way to treat a gentleman, little lady."
"Leave me alone," she tried again, looking down at the ground. She wished that she was better at this. Even after five years she still couldn't deal with this, with the men that got too aggressive. She just closed her eyes and took whatever it was that they were giving. And when the guy turned around, told his friends that he would meet them at the bar and pulled her into a side alley, she knew that this was one of those times. She also knew when he tugged her underwear down roughly, quickly slipped open the button of his jeans and hoisted her up against the wall, thrusting into her moments later.
It never got less painful either, she had noticed. A lot of the girls talked about how it was easier now, now that it happened so much that it was just kind of nothing any more. Not for Brittany. She felt pain every time he rammed himself inside of her, as he sunk his teeth into her shoulder and held her roughly against the wall with powerful hands. She closed her eyes, waiting for what was coming. When he picked up the pace and she felt the bricks of the wall behind her scraping across her already wounded back rapidly, and when he began grunting into her ear, she knew it was coming.
It was a few moments later that he came, slowing down his thrusts and leaning heavily against her. She kept her eyes closed and her head down, even after he pulled out and released her. She didn't even notice herself fall when he let her go, though when she opened her eyes slowly she found only his feet. She heard him do up his zipper, his breathing still uneven, and seconds later he was gone.
She let her head fall back against the wall, cringing at the intense pain that she felt in her back, the cuts that had began their healing earlier now reopened and bleeding more than before. Her breathing was shaky and she took a moment to calm it, just sitting and staring at the building opposite, the bare skin of her backside on the dirty ground. She hissed at the pain as she shifted, going into her bag and pulling out a tissue, wiping what the guy had left behind from her inner thigh. She threw it to the side, lifting herself from the ground slightly and pulling her underwear back into place.
She stumbled as she found her feet again, leaning against the wall and taking a second to regain her composure before she pulled up her bag and flung it over her shoulder, her eyes snapping shut at the pain. She was always in pain.
She began to walk from the alley, though her attempts to calm herself and her breathing hadn't worked at all. Her head was pounding, the ground in front of her an array of colourful spots as she tried to focus. She held her bag tightly with an unsteady hand, holding a deep breath before releasing it shakily, hoping for it to make some sort of difference that never came. Everything still looked so fuzzy, her body was burning but at the same time she could feel herself shivering.
It was then that she felt something solid collide with her.
"Are you fucking kidding me?" came a sharp voice, thick with anger. Brittany looked up, trying to focus, though she could only make out the vague outline of the figure, her face contorted by the fuzzy spots that clouded her vision.
"I'm sorry," Brittany muttered, her heart racing as she shook her head, trying harder to clear it. She couldn't catch her breath and her head was spinning. "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to. I'm sorry, please."
The other woman didn't respond, though Brittany could hear the sounds of the busy street around them, it all sounding so far away. Like she was under water and drowning. It sounded like it used to sound when she would go swimming with her mom and you could hear the people talking above the water.
"Hey," the other woman spoke again, her voice suddenly much softer. It was such a soft yet raspy voice. Like caramel. Brittany felt her brows furrow. Why couldn't she see? "Hey, I didn't mean..." she tried again, taking a step and reaching out to touch Brittany's arm. As soon as her skin came into contact with the other woman's, however, Brittany quickly flinched away. She retracted her hand immediately, letting it hover with uncertainty for a second before she again focused on the woman's face. It was battered. Her skin was purple and blue, a cut on her lip and a dark black circle around her left eye. "Oh god, what happened?"
Brittany closed her eyes tightly, looking down at the ground and focusing hard. She had to get a grip and clear her head. She had to stop burning. She had to get away from her, and here, and just get back to the house. Once she was back there it would be fine, she could just slip into her room, throw in her earphones and sleep.
"Are...are you okay?" the voice came again, even quieter this time. She sounded so unsure, and like she genuinely cared. She sounds like that doctor that treated her during her first year, the first time she had been hit and ended up with concussion. She had managed to get out of the hospital before they returned though, finding her way back to the house like he had told her to. Nobody cared though, not really, they all knew what she was. This woman probably did too. Just one look at her clothes and you could tell what she was doing walking the streets in the dark, stumbling from a back alley.
Brittany focused hard for a second longer before lifting her eyes, opening them and finally finding that the colourful spots had gone. She looked at the fuzzy outline of the woman, waiting for a moment longer before everything came into focus. Concerned brown eyes looked back at her, along with strikingly dark black hair and puffy, parted lips. She was like, supermodel beautiful. Brittany suddenly felt intimidated, especially when she took in the woman's face and then found her blazer, shirt and pencil skirt. She was definitely some sort of successful professional, even with a looks that could probably make her all the money she needed anyway.
"Are you okay?" the woman repeated. Somehow, having the face combined with the voice struck Brittany more.
She looked down at ground only for a second, though when she did she found papers sprawled across the sidewalk along with a now open and empty coffee cup, the contents splashed across the paper. "Oh god," she muttered quickly, her eyes widening. "I made you drop all your things. I'm so sorry." She scrambled to the ground, grabbing the papers one by one into her hands at a panicked pace.
"No," the other woman tried, her voice still soft. "Hey, no. You don't need to..." she went on, looking down and watching the girl as she scrambled from paper to paper, taking them and creating a neat pile in her hands, handling them with care. She reached out to to rest her hand on her shoulder to perhaps get her attention, though she quickly remembered what happened earlier and decided against it. She watched her for a second longer before she crouched down herself, opposite Brittany, and moved her hands to lay them on the papers. Brittany halted suddenly, wide blue eyes finding brown. Santana frowned at the look. Like she was scared of the world. "It's okay," she assured with a small smile, hoping that it was in some way comforting. "Don't worry about it. Paper can be reprinted, right?"
Brittany watched her for a long moment before releasing her grip on the paper, allowing Santana to take them from her. "I'm so sorry," she whispered, looking down at her now empty hands but keeping herself crouched in the same position.
"You apologise too much," Santana pointed out with a chuckle, simply placing the pile of ruined papers back on the ground. She lifted her eyes back to Brittany, again her attention focusing immediately on the cuts and bruises on her face. She looked so worn and tired, yet young at the same time. She still looked terrified, her entire body shaking and yet sweat was coating her face. "What happened?" she tried again, her voice tentative.
Brittany looked up, eyes wide. She managed to calm herself after a moment, shrugging in what she hoped looked like nonchalance. "I got into a fight. At a bar."
Santana frowned skeptically but nodded anyway, knowing that now probably wasn't the time. Nor would Brittany really want to talk to a stranger about this stuff. Brittany didn't strike her as the fighting type, despite having only known her for a few minutes. Especially considering how apologetic she was when they literally bumped into each other a moment earlier. But she wouldn't push. "I live like, two minutes away," Santana said finally. "If you need to get cleaned up then you're more than welcome to use my place."
Brittany looked even more surprised when she met Santana's eyes again, something that made the shorter woman chuckle softly.
"Think of it as an apology," she tried again. "For walking into you and turning on bitch mode."
Brittany had fallen into thought after that, considering her options. There was really only one answer though. There was no way she could go to Santana's, not with her apparently so curious about what had happened. Brittany was an awful liar, which is why he had always made sure that she was in and out of the house without much chance of meeting with anybody in between. She was never one of the girls that would be allowed to shop or really go out at all, because the police were always trying to pry information. Some girls were good at lying or deterring them, Brittany was never good at that stuff.
"I can't," she said finally, shaking her head and looking at Santana almost apologetically. "I have to meet someone."
Santana nodded with a friendly smile. "Well, do you have a cellphone?" A cellphone that contained two numbers; his and her own. She took a moment before she nodded, Santana beaming back at her when she did. "Can I have it for a sec?"
Brittany pulled open her bag after a few seconds of thought, sifting around and finding her cell in one of the little side pockets. She handed it to Santana, receiving a soft laugh in response. Santana lifted the phone, flipping it open dramatically. "Retro," she remarked, Brittany blushing and looking down. Realising her mistake, Santana quickly backtracked. "I've missed these babies. iPhones get the job done but flip phones were the shit."
She has never felt more satisfied than she did when she saw Brittany smile at that.
She pulled out her own phone, handing it to Brittany. When the girl looked at it with confused eyes she patiently took it, finding the contact list for her and handing it back. They spent a moment tapping in their details, Brittany taking a little longer than Santana, before they handed them back to one another.
Santana looked at the screen and smirked, her eyes finding the other woman seconds later. "Brittany," she said with a smile. "That name fits you perfectly."
Brittany smiled, nodding as she read Santana's name. "You suit Santana, too."
"It's as if our parents knew!" Santana joked, exaggerating her words with animatedly large eyes. Brittany smiled again, even releasing a small breath of a laugh. Santana pushed herself up, straightening out again and and being followed after a moment by Brittany. "I want you to text or call me when you get home, okay?" she tried, her expression serious.
Brittany nodded, slipping her cellphone back into her bag. They fell into silence, Brittany shifting uncomfortably under Santana's curious gaze. She wasn't used to talking to people like this, on the street. New people. She knew all of the girls, she talked to them often. Clients didn't really do much talking though, and with not really leaving the house too much she had never gotten used to this.
"It was nice to meet you, Brittany," that raspy voice came again, accompanied by a friendly smile as Santana gathered her things together. Brittany nodded in reply, Santana turning and slowly walking away.
- LL -
Brittany had dropped her head and walked fast after their encounter, ignoring the pain that it caused as she increased her speed. She was used to it now, living with constant pain in at least one part of her body. Sometimes it was worse than others, sometimes it was just kind of annoying. Today was one of the worst times. And when she had slipped into her room and peeled off her top, seeing the crimson red that was coating it, she realised that it probably was as bad as she imagined.
She moved over to the mirror, careful to avoid looking at her face, and quickly examined the cuts. They were deeper than she had thought, though she wasn't entirely sure what would have caused them. A lot of the other girls had talked about the guys that had the blood kink. It costed more, but they would use something sharp and hold it against their skin as they thrust into them, drawing blood gradually every time they entered and pushed. It definitely looked like a possibility, though whatever he was holding must have been sharp. And big.
She was kind of glad that he had knocked her out before it.
She jumped at the knock on the door, the person not waiting for a reply before stepping in. He smiled as she came into view, leaving the door open slightly as he entered. "Hey, Britt," he greeted. She knew what he was here for. She had rushed to her room and forgotten to stop by the office to drop off his money. With that realisation, she quickly turned around to pick up her bag, not realising that her back was now on full view. "Jesus Christ," he gasped, moving toward her to get a better look. She straightened up, looking back over her shoulder as he bent down a little behind her, still looking at the cuts. "I have some dressing downstairs, we'll put some on them. It doesn't look like it needs stitches, but we'll put that stuff on to make sure it doesn't get infected." She nodded, smiling politely at him as he straightened up. "He didn't order that..." he mused, his brows furrowing.
Brittany nodded. "He left extra," she replied, bending down to pick up her bag and placing it down on the bed. She pulled out the notes that she had stuffed into the side pocket, handing them to him.
He stood and counted, his brows lifting. "Either he was feeling guilty or he's just incredibly generous," he laughed, flipping through the last few notes. "This is nearly two hundred dollars over what we agreed." His smile was huge when he looked back at her, and she offered a small one in return before again dropping her gaze. Generous. He had knocked her out cold, held a blade to her back while he fucked her and he was generous. "Here," he said quickly, noticing her expression. "You definitely earned it."
Brittany looked at the notes that he held out to her. There was at least one hundred dollars worth in his hand, but she quickly shook her head, pushing it back towards him.
He sighed, putting the money back onto the pile that he held in his other hand. "At least order some new stuff, expensive stuff, and I'll sort it out for you."
She nodded with a polite smile, her eyes falling again seconds later.
It was weird, this dynamic that they had. He was caring and kind, yet at the same time he was the one doing this to her. When he offered her things and was nice to her it was only because she had done well and got him money, only because she had been sold to have sex with somebody. She knew that he wasn't a good guy, she knew and yet something in the back of her mind, or something in her heart, tugged whenever he spoke to her like this.
Maybe it was a family thing.
"Well done, Britt," he smiled, placing a strong hand on her shoulder and squeezing once. "Rest up, and make sure you have the make-up that you need to cover that tomorrow night. It's Johnson."
Brittany nodded as he squeezed one last time, moving over to the door seconds later and letting himself out of the room.
She felt a lot calmer without him in here. She didn't really like anybody being in her room. They never took clients to their own personal bedrooms, there were other places for that. It wasn't a huge house, though there were a quite few bedrooms and a few floors. Apparently he had been left it when somebody in the family died, though she doesn't remember that story very clearly. It wasn't in the centre of the city, but it wasn't far away either. It only took a few minutes to walk into the busiest area. It was a good place to keep it all hidden, in a place where nobody really cared enough to do too much about it. It was just accepted that the house was what it was, and that the girls that came and went were doing what they were doing.
Brittany had never taken money for what she had done, not once in the five years. It never used to be offered, granted, but then it was there for the taking but she never did. Maybe it was a denial thing. She didn't want to take the money because then she really would be being paid to sleep with men, the money would be going directly to her. She would be just another hooker.
She didn't want that kind of money. She didn't buy anything for herself. The bills were paid, food was bought, anything that she required was paid for with the money that he held. None of the girls kept any, though they were all kept by him. Brittany didn't mind much, it's not like she really left the house unless she was on her way to meet a client anyway.
She did wish that she had some clothes that weren't short and revealing and horribly tight. Because a lot of the business was done within the house, they weren't allowed to slouch around in sweats and baggy t-shirts. She kind of hated it, the way she craved that comfort so much. The only time she felt herself really breathe was at night when she lay naked beneath her covers.
She unclasped her bra, letting it fall down her arms and to the ground. She glanced down momentarily, regretting it when she caught sight of the large bruise that lay across her chest. She had been awake for that, when he held her in place by pressing down against her chest with both hands. She sighed, slowly lowering herself into bed and pulling the covers up to her chin. She lay for a second, staring at the ceiling before she remembered that she had to text Santana. She felt a weird tingle in her stomach as she reached into her bag and pulled out her cellphone, though it was replaced by confusion when she saw that she had a text. She quickly opened it.
I hope you're okay.
She smiled at the screen in spite of herself. As sad as she knew that it was, she had never received a text from a friend like that. The only two numbers in her phone were her own and his. He sent texts sometimes, asking where she was if it was late or telling her about something that might concern her, but she never got texts from friends. She read it over again before typing out her reply, making sure to be slow as to not make any mistakes.
I am. Srry for not replyin sooner, I was busy.
Hitting send, she set her cellphone down on her bedside table. She had quite a nice bedroom, though really that was only down to herself. All of the girls had the same; a bed, wardrobe, draws and a bedside table. If they did particularly well then they would get 'gifts' like TVs and radios. They had the same things to do with what they chose, and some girls let their rooms just become as run down and dirty as they felt. Brittany didn't. She wanted that one place that she could go to and feel calm, if only for a few hours. It had become an obsession that had started when she first arrived here five years ago, and it had never changed. She makes sure that it's clean, that everything is in order and put neatly away. There are very few things that she has ownership over, control of, and so she treasures what she does.
It's fine. I'm glad you're okay. Maybe now I can sleep lol.
'Maybe now I can sleep'. She had been worried about her? She had met her briefly in the street for a couple seconds and she had been worried? Brittany's smile broadened and she brought her left hand to the screen, absent-mindedly tracing the letters that she found there. She felt embarrassed when her vision blurred slightly with the first sign of tears, though when she realised that she was alone she let them be, one slipping slowly and silently from the side of her eye and down to the pillow below.
It wasn't that she had said anything magnificently moving, because she hadn't. For Santana it was just probably a passing comment, Brittany knew that. But it felt like so long ago that she was cared for. Even before being sent here five years ago, and even when her uncle tries to push cash into her hands and tells her how well she is doing, especially when the men pulled at her hair and threw her to the ground like she meant nothing, like her only use was to lay back and open her legs. She had resigned herself to the fact that it was probably true, that she would probably be here in another five years, living her life in exactly the same way. A few of the women here were in their thirties, some even older. There weren't many, about five of them at the moment, though they were always coming and going. Brittany was the youngest, had been the youngest person to ever be working there when she turned up. It was like a unique selling point for her uncle, to offer up a child. He was paid much more than he was for any of the other girls, the fact that this was his niece apparently having no play in what he would allow them to do.
But here she was five years later, still stuck in this place. It felt like a lifetime ago that she was at home with her mother and sister, safe and in school like any of the other kids.
Srry if I worried you. Thanks for today.
It was less than thirty seconds later that she got her reply.
Unwarranted, but I'll take it. Goodnight Brittany :)
She fell asleep soon after.