The Binding Tie
Disclaimers: This is an Alt/Uber story that is for people over 18 as it contains violence and sexual violence.
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"Once upon a time..."
"Mama, thats lame," griped the small boy.
"Yeah," piped up Rochel.
"Can Hunter tell us a story?" Rebecca turned trusting eyes towards the guard.
"Hunter probably doesnt want to..."
"Its alright." For the first time in years the guard felt shy. "Long ago, in a land far awa..."
"Awww, thats Star Wars, Hunter!" Terrance began to pout. Foot stomping was becoming a real possibility.
"Um..." Francesca tapped a well manicured hand against her chin, deep in thought. "Ive got it! Would you like me to tell you a story about some of the things I got up to when I was your age?" She raised an inquiring eyebrow.
"Really, Mama?" Rebeccas eyes were shining.
"Yep. Now everybody get into bed." Three small whirlwinds scrambled under their bed covers. The beds were set out like a fan along one side of the nursery room creating an a semi circle into which Francesca pulled a rocking chair. Sitting up, each child could face their mother. "Is everybody ready?" One little hand raised. "Yes Becca?"
"Mama, can Hunter come and sit with me?" The little girl was so shy that it was almost painful.
Francesca tilted her head towards her warrior and looked for her response before she answered. In the three weeks since seeing the other woman writhe in agony, Francesca had begun to view the other woman as, if not a friend, then at least an ally. Her strong response to seeing the soldier in pain had surprised her and she had to repress a shudder as she recalled the horrific events of that day...
She watched, terrified, as spasm after spasm passed through the slouched form. The strong limbs jerked spastically in their wake and her head hung limply on her neck. Francesca knew that she shouldnt panic, but she couldnt help herself, she had never been in a situation like this and had no idea what she should do. She was about to pull the car off the road when Hunters voice broke into her thoughts.
"My chip," she gasped. "Its active...Cant move."
Francesca felt the blood freeze in her veins and clutched the steering wheel tightly in her fist, anchoring herself in the car. The air in the car almost crackled with the force of her anger. She knew that she was the only person with access to the other womans punishment controller. Only one other person would dare to go into her room and rifle through her belongings. She put her foot down and sped towards home. Douglas had gone too far this time. She would not let him torture this innocent who had become caught up in their twisted marriage through no fault of her own.
The drive seemed to take forever even with accelerator floored. Finally the house came into view, growing larger and larger every second as she flew down the driveway. She caste a nervous glance at the twitching figure in the passenger seat. Hunters pain had grown so severe that that she had finally passed out ten minutes ago, yet the effects could still be seen throughout her body. Francesca felt a wash of sympathy for the smaller woman who had no peace even in sleep.
The car came to a screaming halt outside the main doors of the huge house. Francesca leaped from the stationary vehicle and flew around to the passenger side, wrenching the door open. She leaned across the unconscious form and unsnapped the seatbelt, supporting Hunters shoulder to stop her from falling, face first, into the dashboard. The noisy entrance of the car had brought Salvatore to the window of his study. On seeing his daughter in such obvious distress, he ran to her, barrelling through the heavy doors and to her side.
Salvatore couldnt believe what he saw as he approached the four-by-four. The tableau before him, in the open doorway was so unexpected. There stood his daughter, holding up the weight of the warrior and looking tenderly into the unconscious womans face. As he watched she attempted to lift the shorter woman out of the car, she had the other woman half way out when the weight became too much and her grip slipped. Salvatore reached forward quickly and grabbed the comatose woman around the waist and hefted her into his arms. He turned towards his wide-eyed daughter, her bodyguard cradled to his chest.
"Papa, please take her inside."
"Princess, whats going on?"
"I need to find Douglas." She almost growled the words.
"Hes out back with the children, but..."
"Thanks. Please take her inside and call someone." Her father didnt have the opportunity to respond as she stalked towards the back of the house.
When she turned the corner into the huge lawn used as the childrens play area she saw him. He was laughing as he swung Rochel around. He placed her small feet on the ground and straightened up, his eyes catching those of his seething wife. His smile dropped and his face took on an evil smirk. He purposefully strode to Francesca, out of the childrens earshot.
"Douglas, please come to the summerhouse." The words were bitten out, the tone strained. Douglas followed his distressed wife, his smirk growing wider as he did. Snake followed in their wake, watching over his master.
When they reached the wooden structure Douglas asked Snake to remain outside, as he entered and closed the door behind him. He turned to face his beautiful wife and really looked at her for the first time since she had arrived. Her eyes were dark and stormy and held a hardness that he had never seen before. He had seen her happy and lately he had seen the resignation in her eyes, this was definitely new. Her lips were pursed in a thin line and he could see a vain throbbing in her forehead as her fists clenched in time with it.
Smack! The slap to his face made him rock back on his heels. This was not his wife. He was waiting for Snake to burst in when Francesca was suddenly in his face, hands tightly clenched around his colour. She was breathing heavily in his face as they stood nose-to-nose.
"Give me Hunters remote!" He opened his mouth to deny her accusation. "Dont even think it! Hand it over now."
On the outside of the door Snake had been ready to break through and intercede. He had been stopped in his tracks by Francescas words. That bastard had tortured his friend. He could suffer at the hands of his wife. Douglas had just lost the modicum of respect that the warrior held for him.
Within the closed quarters Doug handed the remote over and Francesca hastily switched it off, fumbling in her haste. She gazed back into his eyes and noticed the pink huge spreading across his cheek. In the pit of her stomach she felt something settle, this felt right. She should have done this years ago.
"She got what she deserved..." He knew it was a weak arguement at best in the face of his wife rage.
"Try anything like this again and Ill encourage Hunter to rip you a new arse hole. Stay away from me. I suggest you move to different quarters, as far away from mine as you can get and still be in the same house would be good!" With these words Francesca stormed out of the wooden building feeling more triumph than she could ever remember.
"Mama, can Po and Griz come and listen two?" Francesca was snapped form her reverie by her sons voice.
"Sure, go to the next room and ask them." She smiled indulgently as he scrambled out of bed. She refocused on Hunter who was looking at her strangely. Francesca suddenly realised that Hunter must have answered her question and she had been so deep in her own thoughts that shed missed it. Sheepishly she asked, "Is that a yes?"
"Yes." Hunter made her way to the little girls bed and sat with her back to the headboard and her feet stretched out. Like a limpet Becca attached herself to the muscular womans side and snuggled close. To Francescas surprise the warrior wrapped her arm around the childs shoulders and held her gently.
The peaceful scene was broken when Terrence can charging back in followed by the two giants. The two big men settled themselves on the floor beside each bed. Polar sat beside Rochel and Grizzly with Terrance. It was show-time, as five pairs of expectant eyes turned to her. She launched into a story about one of Rhani and Chess more risky schemes, while she tried to process the apprehensive look that she had seen on Hunters face.
Hunter sat awake in the dark of her room trying to clear her thoughts. The huge walk-in closet was illuminated by the moon as it peeked through the blinds in the main room. The door was open, like always since the attack, so that she could get out fast. The interior of the cupboard was so dark that an intruder would be unable to spot her prone form unless they were looking for her and even then it would be difficult. She sat, cross legged, on a pile of blankets and thought about the nights events.
The story Francesca had told tonight had shaken her to the core. She had never imagined that the rich, cultured young woman would remember her childhood companion. They had been so young when they were separated and she had assumed that too many exciting things would have happened in the darker womans life for her to remember a servants daughter, no matter how close they had been. The obvious affection in the younger womans voice, as she related their exploits to her own children, had overwhelmed the warrior.
Ever since they had returned to the room and the lights had gone out, she could not draw her mind away from thoughts of the past. She tried not to think about the past, the memories were too bittersweet. Her parents had used her as a pacifier for their employers daughter and sold her into a life filled with pain and misery. Yet among the pain of her parents there was always a small black haired, blue eyed, child who had been her best friend - her Chess.
She had felt these memories and emotions begin to stir the moment she had stepped back onto the property where she had been born and raised. She had known that none of the Prince family would recognise her, her appearance had radically changed in the last twenty years. They had last seen her as a tall, waiflike, child with big green eyes and sun coloured hair. That was a long stretch from the short, heavily muscled woman covered in scars and tattoos whose hair and eyes were blue.
She had tried to stay aloof, and Francescas original treatment of her had made it easy. Rather than falling into any old habits, Hunter had become her usual difficult self. Most of her scars were reminders of her wilfulness and disobedience, things that she often found herself unable to control, as well as her mouth. Why could she never keep her mouth shut? She had been asking herself that since she was a child and eventually others had dealt with the problem for her.
She shifted her weight. Thinking like this wasnt going to achieve anything, thinking about the past just made her regret her life more. All the happiness of her childhood burned brightly in her mind, casting everything since into shadow. Everything except Jordan. She had kept the young girl sane and replaced Rhani as her closest friend. She had filled a void that Hunter had never been able to fill again. When Jordan was taken from her she knew that happiness with other people was not for her and never pursued companionship again. She used other slave girls and had a friend in Wolf, and she knew that the other Predators respected her, but it wasnt the same.
She looked at the sleeping figure on the bed. Little chubby Chess had grown up into the beautiful and majestic Francesca, Hunter was only human and had appreciated the other womans beauty even as she was willing herself to hate her. Being unable to talk to anybody, even Wolf, about her animosity towards their new home had been hard and seeing that face close to tears had almost broken her heart, but not her resolve. Nothing could destroy that. Seeing Douglas hit the sleeping woman so brutally had simply changed her resolve. Why the woman was married to such an animal was beyond Hunter. What she did know, was that he was never going to do it again.
Unfortunately that incident had almost totally transformed their relationship. Francesca would engage her in conversation and ask her questions, event buy her gifts. Hunter enjoyed the time they spent together, how could she not? But they were also too painful, giving her a glance back into a life that she might have led. The effect of the threats had also elevated their interaction in a way that had deeply unsettled the warrior. She had never expected that she would have to touch the other woman, much less carry her after she feinted. God only knew what would happen if the woman was ever confronted by her attacker. Not that shed have to worry, Hunter would be their to protect her.
She took one last, lingering look at the vision on the bed before laying back and pulling covers over her torso. She curled into a tight ball, her hand straying to rub her neck. The damn chip always left residual pain for weeks after the incident. She was smiling as she fell asleep, thinking of the story she had heard Snake tell about what Francesca had done to Douglas as retaliation on her behalf. Chess was definitely in there somewhere.
Darla sat looking at her little girl with worry etched into her face. She knew that Francesca and Douglas were having problems in their marriage, Douglas was sleeping at the other end of the wing, and the pressure of that added to the threats was really taking its toll on the young woman. She had lost a lot of weight and her cheeks were beginning to look a little sunken. She needed to get away and relax for a while, and Darla knew just where she should go. Thank goodness she and the blue haired girl had settled their differences.
"Princess, you should take Hunter to see the river. You two could make a day of it, take a picnic and you could show Hunter how to fish." She looked for her daughters reaction and was pleased with the hundred watt smile that she received. She quickly looked at Hunter who looked incredibly uncomfortable with the suggestion. Darla didnt pay it much attention as she turned back to her child.
"That sounds like a great idea Mama, thank you!" She stood up and walked to her mothers chair. Se knelt in front of her and hugged the older woman tightly.
Darla kissed her daughters forehead gently. "Thats what Im here for, darling. Ill have the cook make you a picnic basket in the morning and the pair of you will be all set. You can even show off and show Hunter that shes not the only one with quick reflexes." Francesca blushed as her mother continued. "You can catch a few fish, and then you and the babies can cook them."
"I love you, mama."
"I know, Princess."
The clearing was a secluded and peaceful as Hunter had remembered, it had obviously been lovingly tended over the years by the woman sitting beside her. The walk to this hidden spot had been strange for Hunter, like a flashback to her past but from Francescas point of view. Hunter had always been the one to go first, she was taller, stronger and older. She had made it her job to clear the path and carry the food. Today she followed a tall form who cleared the way and held the picnic basket in a long fingered hand.
"I think Im going to take a nap before lunch, I didnt get much sleep last night."
"So I heard."
"Oh God, Hunter, did you manage to get any sleep?" The tall woman looked remorseful.
"I was raised in dormitories, I can sleep pretty much anywhere." The reassurance seemed to work and the taller woman visibly relaxed.
"Wake me up when you get hungry." The tall woman laid down on the spread blanket, close to the seated warrior, and was soon dozing.
"Sleep tight Chess," whispered Hunter.
Several hours passed with Hunter taking in the tranquillity as her mistress slept beside her. Hunter had been shocked earlier when Francesca had turned onto her side and wrapped her arm around Hunters thigh and snuggled close to it as though it were a stuffed toy. Hunter hadnt dared to shift her position for fear of waking the other woman and breaking the moment. It had been a long time since anybody had freely touched the gladiator without expectations or malice. She relished the feeling as she watched the fish flick like silver highlights in the clear water, her hand unconsciously straying to Francescas dark hair.
To be continued in Part 7
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