Penny’s Diner was your typical rest stop after a normal hunt. Just outside of Missouri Valley and total of eight miles from the Iowa-Nebraska border, it was a busy place with several waitresses ready to take orders at all times. The numerous customers varied from whole families passing through, smart dressed businessmen wolfing down their meals in a hurry, couples whispering sweet nothings to each other over their milkshakes, lone individuals keeping their heads down and leaving as soon as they were finished, to locals cheerily chatting with the cook as he prepared their snacks - the ideal place for a person to get lost in the crowd in case of any trouble.
You were sitting in your favourite booth — the one furthest from the main entrance, but close enough to the emergency exit — and were waiting for your food to arrive, so you were killing time by absentmindedly observing the people in the diner; an older man with salt and pepper coloured hair, and an obviously well-loved leather jacket was joking with a younger lad - both local from the way the cook joined in every once in a while; a blonde girl tugged down her skirt nervously as she stood at the counter to order, and anxiously checked her phone; a group of teenagers right next to your booth were laughing loudly over what seemed to be a Youtube video - not that you cared too much, just wishing they wouldn’t be so loud. Scrolling through your phone, you checked the local news. You didn’t really want to take on a new case so soon after finishing the last one — the ghost had, after all, thrown you through a window —, but it was more of a matter of staying busy rather than actually looking for another job.
The teenagers next to you erupted into uncontrolled laughter.
It took all of your self-restraint not to shoot them all at the spot.
As it was, you only rubbed your eyes with a frustrated sigh.
It wasn’t that you hated teenagers so much or that you disliked loud noises per se, but you hadn’t slept in God-knows-how-long and had driven for solid three hours just to get anybody who might have been following you off your trail. Alright, maybe you were a bit paranoid, but who wouldn’t be in your line of work?
“There you go, love,” said a pleasant, feminine voice. You looked up, just as the waitress placed the food in front of you with a smile and then left before you even had a chance to thank her. Well, the place was busy after all.
You dug into your food with gusto and moaned at the familiar taste. After half of the burger was gone, you leaned back with a satisfied smile and dug your trusty old laptop out of the bag you had hidden under the table. It wouldn’t hurt to go online and reply to some emails, especially with the diner’s free wi-fi. You were finishing a reply to an old hunting buddy when the annoying teenagers finally left, laughing all the way to the door. Shaking your head slightly, you watched as they got into a rusty green van and drove off with the sound of screeching tires that was clearly audible even inside the busy diner. You were just about to get back to writing your response when a voice interrupted you.
“Y/N Y/L/N?” asked a male voice. You raised your eyes from the computer screen with your jaw clenched. Was everyone really so set on not leaving you alone today?
“Who’s asking?” was your only response.
The man wasn’t discouraged one bit. He smiled and slid onto the bench opposite to you. “I will take that as a yes,” he said in an awfully posh British accent. Shutting your laptop with your eyes fixed on the stranger, you gave him a good once over; he was tall, with dark hair and beard and was wearing a blue elegant suit. He didn’t give you the ‘monster vibe’, but your hand nonetheless creeped towards the knife you kept in your belt - it never hurt to be careful.
“What do you want?” you asked, to the point, sweeping your laptop off the table and placing it next to you on the bench; if the guy decided to try something in a full diner, you’d rather not have your laptop broken in the process, thank you very much.
“My name is Mick Davies,” he introduced himself in that irritatingly British accent, “and I am here to make you an offer.”
“Not interested,” you replied swiftly, “now leave.”
“Miss Y/L/N-” he started, but stopped short upon seeing you cross your arms on your chest. Whatever this guy — Mick — wanted, you weren’t impressed, nor eager to hear what he wanted. That, however, didn’t kill that tiny bit of curiosity that managed to somehow bypass the overwhelming exhaustion that was slowly but surely weighing you down - you needed to find somewhere to sleep and fast, and this Mick wasn’t helping you with it one bit. You were half ready to knock him out just to get rid of him when he raised his hands from the table, palms so that you could see them, in what appeared to be a surrender. “Just- just hear me out, and I’ll be out on my merry way.”
You had celebrated too soon. Rolling your eyes, you let out a quiet groan. Would it be quicker to listen to him or to just get up and leave? He didn’t look like much — probably wouldn’t hold his own in a fight —, but you were way too tired to exchange blows with anyone. “Okay, fine,” you said after a moment of silence.
The corners of Mick’s lips shot up in a slight smile. “Alright, miss Y/L/N-”
“Y/N,” you interrupted him, “just Y/N.”
Mick cleared his throat, but otherwise only nodded before moving on. “Well then, let me paint you a picture. Of a world without monsters, or demons, or any of those little buggers that go bump in the night. Of a world where no one has to die because of the supernatural. Of a new world, a better world.” He said it in one go, so quickly he gave you no chance to stop him without being outright rude - not that you particularly cared about that at the moment. He leaned back slightly, obviously expecting a reaction. What kind of reaction, though? you mused. Was he expecting congratulations on painting you a nice picture you had definitely never imagined before? Or was he just waiting for you to say anything that would give him an excuse to attack you?
You sighed. “That’s a nice picture I give you that,” came your reply. “Definitely haven’t thought of that, like, ever,” you let the sarcasm dip from your voice with a smirk. “Now if that’s all you wanted to tell me, I need to get going.” Nevermind the half-eaten burger you were leaving behind, if you didn’t get some sleep, you sure would hurt someone, you thought as you gathered your things - laptop, bag and jacket. You were getting up, but Mick’s hand shot out faster than you’d thought possible and secured your wrist in a tight grip.
“Please,” he said urgently, “I work for an organisation that could make that picture come true. Don’t you want that? Don’t all hunters want that?” Your whole body tensed at the contact, going into fight-or-flight mode. But he must have noticed the change in your body language, for his grip on you was loosening, and you couldn’t help yourself - this wasn’t something a killer would do after all, was it - and sat back down. Mick finally let go of your wrist completely, seemingly confident enough you wouldn’t flee at first given chance. You decided to humour him - for now.
“What kind of organisation?” you asked skeptically, narrowing your eyes and massaging the place he’d touched; his hands were soft and pleasantly warm, your mind supplied. He didn’t look like a hunter, but you yourself knew that looks could be misleading.
“British Men of Letters,” he replied. At your blank look, he continued without prompting: “It is an old organisation, specializing in hunting monsters. All monsters. With us, you’d have support in every sense of the word. Lore, money, weapons, a base - you name it, we are able to provide it.”
“In exchange for what?”
Mick nodded, obviously satisfied that you weren’t stupid enough to expect all he promised you for free. “All we ask in return,” he said seriously and honestly, “is that when we call, you go where you’re told and do what you’re told.” He paused for a second before adding: “For the greater good.”
You chuckled bitterly and shook your head - yeah, you should have expected something like that. Nevermind that you had never actually been killing all monsters - you were friends with Garth the Werewolf as he liked to call himself sometimes, after all -, just the ones that stepped out of line. “Look, Mick,” you began, “you seem like a nice guy-” at this, the Brit smiled “- but I’m not joining some freak organisation I’ve never heard about just for the kicks.”
Mick’s face fell. “I don’t think you understa-”
“Trust me, I do understand. You’re trying to free the world of monsters, and that’s great and all that. But that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t know you or your little friends. Which means I don’t trust you. And I don’t work with people I don’t trust.” Gathering your things, you stood up, and this time, he didn’t try to stop you. “So, good luck with your recruitment project, but I’m out.”
And without another word, you left.
The hunt was a trap.
It had been more than two months since the pleasant conversation you’d had with Mick — not that you particularly cared, but after you’d got some much needed sleep and had had a proper shower, your opinion regarding his offer had changed - if only slightly. You were, after all, interested in riding the world of monsters, but weren’t trustful, nor hopeful enough to try and contact Mick again.
Not that you had any time to dwell on that at the moment.
Crouching behind a half-fallen wall, you struggled not to groan in pain. The vampire’d not only deceived you, he’d bitten you and then let you run, while the rest of his nest was somewhere in the woods. He’d let you go for sport, nothing else. He didn’t see you as a threat and that alone made your blood boil in rage.
You’d thought you’d been as prepared as you could; after you’d been watching the vampire for three whole days — where he went, what he did, whom he talked to, where he hid during the day — you’d been confident that it was a vampire without a nest. Now, though, as you gingerly touched your wounded shoulder and mentally cursed when the tips of your fingers came away darkened with blood, you realised your amateur mistake - vampires always came in nests. Well, that was only one of your mistakes. The other — and even more crucial — was that you had absolutely no backup.
Hearing quiet footsteps on the moist ground, you slouched lower and gripped the machete in your good hand tighter - if you were going out, you were taking as many blood-suckers as you could with you. You strained your ears and followed the vampire that was circling you with your hearing. The whole nest had to know where you were hiding — they could smell your blood, after all —, so you were sure they weren’t far.
Good; you weren’t sure you’d kill any of them otherwise with how dizzy you were beginning to feel.
The footsteps came closer, and the unmistakable hiss of a vampire penetrated the otherwise silent forest. There was no use in hiding anymore. Leaping out from behind the wall, you came face to face with the hissing monster. It was a girl, no older than you, but with enough bloodlust in her eyes that you didn’t hesitate when you cut her head off with a single slash. The lifeless body hit the ground with a thump. Your shoulder was burning. The pain shot through your whole arm and down your back, but you only tightened your grip on the machete, stepped over the fallen monster, and marched towards the light - where their hideout was. You knew they could both smell and hear you, so you weren’t losing time by trying to be quieter than you deemed necessary.
Something came from your right.
You barely had enough time to swing your weapon at the newcomer before another vampire hit you square into your injured shoulder. A loud cry cut through the air. Black cloaked your vision. You tried swinging your machete at them, but the lead one — the one you’d started following three days ago — kicked the weapon out of your hand. Something in your wrist cracked, but you barely noticed with how high on adrenaline you were. You gritted your teeth - this wasn’t how you were going to die. Jumping at the lead with a battle cry, you managed to get him on the ground, but your advantage came no further than that. It took him two seconds to overpower you and have you pinned on the ground with him on top of you.
A wicked smile twisted his face. Then he pressed his nails into your wound and dug.
You shrieked in pain. Kicking your legs, you tried to shake him off, but he only put more of his weight on top of you.
“Oh, I’m gonna enjoy this,” he whispered as he leaned closer to your face, still holding you by the shoulder. His nose bumped your jaw, and you could hear him inhaling loudly. Something hot and wet pressed itself to your cheek. Your eyes widened — he was licking your face — and you intensified your useless struggle. He merely tightened his grip on you. You moaned in pain; the rest of the nest laughed at you. “Don’t worry, hunter,” the vampire holding you down said so close to your ear it made you shiver, “I won’t turn you. That would be too cruel, even for me.” He licked another stripe up your jaw. You sneered in disgust. “No,” he continued, “I’ll feed myself first. And then Monica’ll feed on you. And then Lucas. And the rest of the nest and all others that are still coming.” The vampire lapped at your already drying blood with a loud obscure moan. “Um, never tastes as good as when it’s a hunter.”
“Go fuck yourself,” you spat at him.
He laughed in your face. “Oh, don’t worry,” he replied, amused, “that’s a part of the plan.” Cold fear settled deep in your stomach, but before you had any time to process it, the vampire gripped your jaw tightly and forced your head to the side. You renewed your struggle twice as hard remaining monsters only laughed at you. Not that you blamed them - your fight was pathetic. You were pathetic.
Your self-loathing was interrupted by sharp teeth that pierced through your throat.
Your body went lax.
You could hear shouting and sweet scent filled your nostrils, but you didn’t have enough energy left to care. The feeding wasn’t as painful as you’d feared - it was like the best high you’d ever experienced and the worst nightmare all at once. You fought to keep your eyes at least partially opened as a new person come into view and attacked the remaining vampires, forcing the leader to join the fight and leave you, but eventually darkness enveloped you in its cold embrace.
Bits and pieces penetrated through you consciousness.
“- need reinforcements -”
“- bleeding too much -”
“- medical will take care of it -”
“- keep her sedated -”
You felt movement - somebody was moving your body. Your breathing was shallow, but then something was forced down your throat and your lungs filled with oxygen. Warm hands were touching your shoulders and neck, and you wanted to beg them - to cry and plead - just for them to keep touching you. Your were so cold. So, so cold, your body wasn’t even trying to shiver in an attempt to produce heat anymore. Your mind barely registered that these people’d obviously saved you, but it didn’t matter - so long as their hands kept you warm.
Low whine forced itself from you - a pathetic, childish sound - when they withdrew, only to cover you with blankets. Your eyelids were oh so heavy, and you couldn’t open them no matter how hard you tried. The noises that surrounded you made it obvious that people were around you, but their words had no meaning for you.
“She’s waking up.”
A pinch in your upper arm. And then nothing.
Waking up this time was like resurfacing after a long dive - with gasping breaths and all at once.
You allowed yourself no time to appreciate the warm blanket or soft sheets, but leaped out of the bed you’d been lying on for God-knows-how-long the moment you fully regained consciousness. You quickly snatched a glass of water from the bedside table, grabbed it by its bottom, and smashed it against the closest wall with all the strength you could muster. Cold water splashed your bare feet, but you barely noticed. With your back pressed against the wall and with your makeshift weapon raised threateningly in front of you, you finally made yourself take in your surroundings.
The room you were in was neither big nor small. It had everything one would need in normal living quarters - a bed, a bedside table, a table and a chair, a wardrobe and a wash basin with a mirror above it. Long thin lights hung on the white walls and illuminated the room to the very last corner. At your last realization you let the arm with the broken glass fall limply by your side - you were alone, and the lock shone with an angry red colour; locked.
With your heart beating less rapidly, you carefully stepped over the broken shards of glass and walked towards the mirror to look yourself over for injuries. But even though you looked like hell — with muttered hair, dark circles under your eyes and pale complexion — you couldn’t not notice someone’d changed your dirty and bloodied clothes for a simple white long-sleeved T-shirt and white trousers. And even more curiously, your injuries had obviously been tended to - the two vampire bites were covered with large strips of clean-looking bandages, and your wrist was secured in a brace. Your bare feet were chilled by the metal floor, but you kept standing. Tilting your head to the side, you carefully peeled off the bandage to look at the damaged skin underneath. You twisted your whole body to see yourself in the mirror better and assessed the place; it wasn’t infected, nor was it bleeding anymore. Whoever’d cleaned the wound obviously knew what they were doing, you realised when you checked the bite on your shoulder and found it clean as well. Recovering the injuries with the same bandages, you slowly sat on the bed.
Before you’d blacked out, you remembered hearing voices, but couldn’t recall what they’d been saying. Were the people who saved you — if they were people at all, that was — the ones that’d taken care of your injuries? Were you still with them? And who were they, anyway? You couldn’t imagine a hunter having this sort of room somewhere in a house or a flat. Still gripping your weapon in hand, you crossed your legs and leaned against the wall. Huh, you were expecting at least a bit of pain from the wounds upon the movement, but apart from slight discomfort, you felt nothing else.
Sedate her, flashed in your mind. So, they’d drugged you. Not that you were that surprised by that, but you were more used to drinking enough alcohol to knock yourself out as a sedative, just like any other hunter you knew. That just raised even more questions. You sighed and let your head rest against the wall. You could have sworn you had heard that voice before, but no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t recall where - not that you’d dwell on it too much, you decided; you were confident enough your saviours wouldn’t take care of you — for days, most likely — just to leave you alone for too long.
Your prediction came true a moment later when the red light of the lock suddenly turned green and the door slowly swung open. You hastily scrambled to your feet with the jagged glass raised in front of you as your body moved into a defensive position on instinct. An unfamiliar man donned in a smart suit stepped into the room confidently. You barely got a look at the space visible through the open door when it slammed shut with deafening finality.
“Awake at last, I see,” the man asserted with a satisfied smirk and eyed your weapon with - was that amusement? And then there was that annoying British accent again. Was this dude somehow connected to Mick? They surely looked similar enough with their elegant suits and perfect hair, but this man had this look in his eyes, the one you yourself had at times - the look of someone dangerous and not afraid of doing what must be done.
It only made you grasp the broken glass tighter. “Who the hell are you?” you forced out through gritted teeth. “And what do you want?”
“Arthur Ketch,” he replied without missing a beat, still with the same cocky arrogance. “I’d say it’s pleasure to meet you, but I don’t take particularly joy in lying.”
“Same,” you spat. “Now tell me what you want from me.”
Ketch sighed. “We’ve been watching skilled hunters for quite some time now,” he said conversably, as though it was enough to tell you what you demanded to know. You shifted on your feet uncomfortably, but didn’t relax - something about him put you on edge and the prolonged silence only deepened the uneasy feeling. After a beat, he continued. “Although how you ended up on that list, I have no idea.”
Your eyes narrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
He took a single step forward and cocked his head to the side when you retreated to keep the distance between the two of you. “Let’s say - taking on a whole nest of vampires all by yourself, for starters,” Ketch stated, the smirk slipping from his face to reveal a deeply irritated expression.
A bead of sweat fell down your back. “I watched the leader, there was nothing-”
“For three whole days, yes, we know,” he interrupted you with a sneer. You bared your teeth in response. And what was that with the ‘we’? “But a vampire is never alone,” Ketch went on without a remark at your expression, “something you should have known already. Besides, three days is not nearly enough time to do — as you say — research.” The man’s lip curled in disapproval. “It takes weeks if not months to gather the amount of information needed to take down a nest efficiently. Not that you American hunters know much about this topic.”
You didn’t react to the obvious jab. “Are you going to just mock me or actually answer? What. Do you. Want. From me.”
Something glittered in his eyes. “Ah, there is the spunk I’ve heard so much about.” He stepped closer, but this time, you had nowhere to retreat to with your back already touching the wall. You were about to shout at him when he finally decided to humour you. “The British Men of Letters have already tried to recruit you.”
“Yeah, and I said no,” you said in a low threatening voice. You did not like where this was heading.
Ketch chuckled, shaking his head. “Mr. Davies’ methods were… less than successful. Not that I expected anything else,” he added almost as an afterthought. You narrowed your eyes. “But that’s in the past.” Ketch came even closer, so close that you could smell his cologne and feel the heat his body produced. Boring his eyes into yours, he spoke up louder and clearer, as though he was trying to assure you wouldn’t misunderstand. “The Men of Letters saved your life, Y/N, and therefore you are in debt. You will allow us to train you and join our ranks in our mission to eliminate all monsters in North America,” he stated confidently, as though saying the grass was green.
“I already gave you my answer,” you replied angrily, “and it’s still no.”
Ketch tilted his head to the side. “I don’t think you understand your situation, Y/N,” he said grimly, watching your reactions intently. “Your life is indebted to the British Men of Letters. We saved you and performed medical procedures, which will allow you to make full recovery.” He let his eyes slip to the broken glass in your hand before meeting your gaze again, but even then you knew something was different. Suddenly, his arms shot out and hit you square in the chest. Your back hit the wall with unexpected force that left you gasping for breath. Using the momentary distraction, he twisted your wrist painfully. A loud shriek pierced the air. The glass slipped out of your hand and dropped unceremoniously to the ground. Ketch kicked the makeshift weapon away and it hit the far wall, shattering into tiny shards.
Still trying to catch your breath and nursing your injured wrist, you failed to notice the man’s arms coming closer until they grasped your shoulders and pushed you into the wall painfully. His body pressed into yours and caged you in.
His face was so close you felt his breath on your face. “We own you, Y/N,” Ketch proclaimed. “So you will join us and do as you are told.”
“And if I don’t?” you demanded even though fight’d left you some time ago. His fingers were digging painfully into your damaged skin and he was standing way too close for comfort. This wasn’t a matter of a normal hunt anymore; right now, this man decided your future - and it terrified you. Your heart was beating rapidly and cold tendrils of feared curled deep in your stomach. Even if you managed to overpower this man and somehow got out of the room, you had no idea what lay ahead.
You needed a plan. And you needed it five minutes ago.
To your utter horror, Ketch laughed. “It’s not whether you comply or not,” he said, a smirk never leaving his face. “We have methods to make you do our bidding, miss Y/L/N. It is simply up to you to decide if you really want us to eradicate any and all of your free will,” Ketch said almost daring you to defy him, “or if you simply do what must be done.”
“You’re crazy,” you breathed with wide eyes, the exact scale of your situation finally setting upon your shoulders with immersing weight. Brainwashing. He threatened you with brainwashing.
“I assure you my mental stability is at its full extent,” Ketch said as though he was actually trying to assure you. You slowly shook your head; this couldn’t be real. It had to be just a bad dream, right? There was no such thing as brainwashing. No special organisation that hunted monsters. Mick surely must have been just your imagination acting up, and this was just the blood loss. Yes, that had to be it, you were hallucinating and would wake up imprisoned by the vampire nest. There was no way-
Stabbing pain shot through your injured shoulder as Ketch dug his fingers into it and you let out an involuntary cry. You shot him a hateful look, but he only smiled in response. That bastard! He knew full well what you’d been trying to do and was determined not to let you find comfort in your own head.
“So,” he began again and loosened his hold on you, if only slightly, “what is it going to be, hm?” There wasn’t much of a choice, was there? Become a complete puppet or actually do what they wanted you to do with your own will still intact with a chance to get out - you’d rather take your chances with escaping one day.
Defeated and both emotionally and physically spent, you lowered your head, silent tears welling in your eyes. “O- okay,” you muttered weakly.
Ketch considered you with suspicion, but you refused to look at him. “You will do what you are told to do,” he commanded with finality. “You won’t go into restricted areas. You will train with me or anyone else they assign you and attend briefings you are supposed to attend. You will hunt and kill without hesitation upon orders given. Do you understand?”
You gave him a hesitant nod. It was only an act, only a way to get out, but you forced the single word out with immense difficulty. “Yes.”
Ketch narrowed his eyes, but otherwise didn’t move. “I will let go of you in a moment,” he informed you. “If you try to attack me, the deal is off. If you try to escape, the deal is off. If you become uncooperative at any time, the deal is off. Is that understood?” he asked impatiently, as though you were nothing more but an impudent child.
You gritted your teeth and at last, looked him straight in the eye. “Yes, sir,” you replied with as little defiance in your voice as you could muster. There was nothing you could do about your situation - at the moment. You just had to wait and see and unnecessary fighting would lead you nowhere, that much you were sure of.
True to his word, Arthur Ketch loosened his hold on you before releasing you completely and stepping away. You didn’t move, only watched him as he straightened his suit jacket. “Well then,” he said, sounding rather pleased with himself. He walked towards the door and knocked on it twice. The red light of the lock turned green in a matter of seconds and the door slowly opened, revealing a narrow corridor and two armed soldiers who watched you warily. Ketch gestured towards the door. “After you.”
You gritted your teeth, but complied and walked out of the room.
“Your left side is open again,” Ketch pointed out. You hurried to correct the mistake, but the Brit exploited the mistake, striking you in the ribs hard. You didn’t have enough strength or energy to cry out; only a slight, barely audible gasp left you, but Ketch heard it nonetheless and gave you with a small satisfied smirk.
You bared your teeth in response.
He and the other instructors’d made you their personal punching bag - there was nothing else you could call it. For the last two weeks, you’d done nothing but train, study, eat and sleep, and there was not nearly enough of the latter. You’d been confined in a different cramped room - “Until you gained our trust,” Ketch had so mockingly said, knowing full well it could take weeks or even months before that happened. It was only after you’d collapsed during one of your lessons with Mick — that man at least actually looked apologetic when he’d first seen you — that you’d been given free reign of one entire block.
“Remember the rules,” Ketch advised you after he’d programmed the palm scanners to allow you to certain areas, excluding the armory, of course.
Only you did remember them all too clearly, but could do nothing to neither follow them nor break them, not with how exhausted you constantly were. Wake up, eat, train, shower, eat, study, train, shower, eat, sleep became your mindless routine. Even with the block opened to your wandering, you had too little energy to actually go exploring or even find a way out; it was as though they wanted you this fatigued. You’d found yourself spacing out time and again, no matter where you were or who with. The few people you’ve come in contact with were few and far between; Ketch usually beat you half-unconscious, and — when he wasn’t available — two other instructors, who still hadn’t given you their names and only told you to call them ‘sir’, made a great substitute. The soldiers you’d encountered hadn’t said a word to you, while Mick constantly bombarded you with questions to test your knowledge. Then there was the medical staff you’d been getting to know far too well for your tastes, although the woman who’d tended you for the first week of your ‘stay’ had looked sympathetic, if not even concerned for you.
It made you wonder if she’d been kept prisoner as well.
But there was one person you hated even more than the man currently beating the life out of you - Lady Bevell. The young blonde’d first visited you two days after the beginning of your training with a notebook and an expensive-looking pen, and had asked you questions about your life - everything from your parents and their death, to contacts for other hunters you hadn’t had in your phone. You’d gritted your teeth, but answered nonetheless, Ketch’s threat still too fresh in your ears. Lady Bevell’d left after three hours of your ‘chat’ only to come back the next day and the day after that. And every day until now. It didn’t help the situation that her visits always dragged well into the night and prevented you from resting, not with how sickly sweet she was trying to be, only to betray her good persona the moment you refused to answer.
You still shuddered when you recalled the pain she’d induced when you fell asleep during the interrogation once - your bra still irritated the gashes she’d left.
Desperately trying to force your body to just stay up, you completely missed the hit Ketch aimed at your neck. Only a strangled gasp escaped your lips before your body hit the ground. Wind knocked out of you, but you had no strength left to care - was it just you, or was the floor actually comfortable? Maybe you could rest here for a second, just until you caught your breath.
“Get up,” Ketch commanded immediately. Well, there went your plans. With a low groan, you pushed up onto your elbows and finally sat up with immense difficulty. Your whole body screamed with pain and exhaustion so much you found it hard to even so much as lift your head. Frustrated tears filled your eyes when you realised you couldn’t get up on your own; why were they doing this to you? You’d done nothing wrong. You’d listened and obeyed and fought with everything you had, but it still wasn’t enough for them! How long would it take until they broke you completely? How long until your body completely gave out on you?
Measured footsteps you’d learned to associate with your current tormentor came closer. “Get. Up.” The words were cold, so cold you shivered upon hearing them, and a lone tear silently made its way down your sweaty cheek.
Struggling to even breathe properly, you finally found your voice, if only to whisper your response. “Can’t.”
You could nearly see him narrowing his eyes. “Y/N,” he growled, and the warning in his tone was clear. It only made more tears well in your eyes and blur your vision. Your head span from fatigue and dehydration, but you tried to push through it. Getting to your knees, you pushed up only to fall onto your front. Your chin hit the hard floor so hard you could taste the bitter blood pooling in your mouth. The clapping of heavy boots was your only warning before Ketch struck you in the ribs; sickening crack filled your ears as burning pain overwhelmed your senses. You couldn’t hold it - a scream forced its way out of your throat as you curled into yourself to protect the injured area from future attacks. Ketch cursed under his breath, but even though you heard him, you couldn’t grasp the meaning of the words. Your vision darkened around the edges and you could feel unconsciousness trying to claim you, welcomed it, even, with your arms stretched towards it in desperate attempt to end this agony.
“Mr. Ketch,” rang the sweet voice of Lady Bevell.
The man in question straightened up and faced the Woman of Letters. Her hair was styled into an elegant low ponytail, and she looked very out of place in her neat pantsuit. “Yes?” Ketch answered with irritation clearly audible in his voice. You couldn’t help but shiver.
Lady Bevell cocked her head slightly. “Doctor Hess is requesting a meeting with our… guest,” she said with a strained smile and regarded the shaking pile of sweaty clothes that was you. Your state was pathetic, but Lady Bevell was certain it wouldn’t stay so for much longer - not with doctor Hess requesting your presence so urgently. Although Toni wasn’t that sure you’d be able to stand, let alone stay conscious for the duration of the meeting. But then again, that was Ketch’s problem to solve.
Ketch sighed. “She’ll be there in twenty minutes,” he replied irritably.
Lady Bevell offered him a slight nod. “Don’t let her wait,” she said and was out of the door - she always spent as little time in the psychopath’s presence as possible.
Ketch regarded your shaking form for a moment before he reached down to grasp your arms and pulled you to your feet roughly. Your head spun and your legs refused to obey your feeble attempts to stand. You were going to be sick. Turning to Ketch to warn him, you never got the words out of you before you vomited all over the floor and the front of your clothes. Humiliation set your cheeks aflame.
Ketch let out a noise of disgust, but didn’t let go of you - he was, after all, the only thing keeping you up. He dragged you away from the mess you’d made with visible annoyance, though, it took most of your strength to keep your head up. The pain in your ribs worsened with every harsh step Ketch forced you to make, but you were too far gone to register it; you suspected you passed out somewhere along the way, because the trip back to your room seemed to be a lot shorter than usual.
You were roughly pushed forward and your knees finally buckled under you. You felt the impact this time, but only whimpered in response. Ketch grabbed the back of your shirt and hauled you up once again. You scrambled to place your feet under yourself - Ketch didn’t seem to mind whether he was wounding you further or not, and pushed you into the small bathroom adjoined to your bedroom.
“You have ten minutes to make yourself decent, then I’m coming in,” Ketch said matter-of-factly and closed the door behind you. You fell on the cold floor the moment the door clicked shut. You were trembling all over, tears streaming freely down your inflamed cheeks. What had you done to deserve this? Misery threatened to overwhelm you, but Ketch’s threat’d been real and you knew it all too well. Crawling into the shower, you let out muffled sobs that wracked your whole aching body, but didn’t stop. You spared yourself a single look, but knew your clothes were as ruined as your body - vomit covered your shirt, trousers and shoes. You toed the latter off and somehow managed to get down into your underwear and turn on the shower, still sitting on the ice-cold bottom of the booth. You screamed when you twisted your body in a way that set your whole chest on fire, but somehow managed to pull through and got rid of your bra and panties. Breathing too deeply wasn’t an option with fractured rib - ribs? -, so you had to suffice with many shallow breaths instead.
The Men of Letters’d taken all of your things and provided you with the bare minimum you needed - shampoo and conditioner, a hard, sterile-smelling soap, a hairbrush and hair ties, and sleeping and workout clothes. No razor and nothing else that could be used as a weapon. Even your meals were given to you only under supervision, though, you suspected they weren’t afraid you’d try to escape, at least not anymore. It had crossed your mind more than once — ending your life before the Brits ruined you completely —, but the courage always left you at the last possible moment.
You couldn’t even kill yourself, how pathetic was that?
Sitting under the spray, but having no energy to do more, you contemplated attempting to drown yourself, but knew you wouldn’t go through with it, no matter how much you wanted. You were a fighter, but more often than not, you found your need to simply survive overcame the urge to fight. Hadn’t that been the reason you consented to be trained by Ketch in the first place?
Suddenly, the door opened and Ketch marched in. You were so curled into yourself you were sure he couldn’t see a thing, but his eyes still lingered on you for longer that you would have liked when he shut the water off. He had to have deemed you clean enough, for he grabbed a towel from a nearby shelf, stepped into the shower, and meticulously dried your hair. He then wrapped the soaked towel around your shoulders and stood up. You dazedly watched as he left the cramped bathroom only to return mere moments later with a bundle of clothes in his hands that he set on the wash basin.
“Are you able to dress?” he asked in a voice you almost thought of as soft. Almost; it was, after all, him who was responsible for your current state.
It took your brain several seconds to comprehend the words, but even after that, you had no strength nor willpower left to respond. Ketch seemed to take it as a ‘no’. He came closer to you and waited for a moment for you to note his presence. Your eyelids were so, so very heavy, you barely opened them to see his boots before they fell closed again. How were you supposed to go to a meeting in a few minutes? Ketch probably though the same thing, for a deep sigh left him when he crouched down to your eye level. His arms were almost hesitant when they came around your shoulders and the back of your knees and lifted you to his chest. Pain from broken ribs and several other tender places made you crumple your face, but Ketch ignored it as he carried you across the room and sat you down on the toilet.
Your whole body tensed when he touched your bare thighs and your eyes blew wide, but Ketch held up his hands - a sign he wasn’t going to hurt you. It was most likely a mistake, but you sagged down and relaxed. Ketch dressed you methodically - underwear first, then socks, trousers and shirt, and sweater and shoes last. You barely registered the clothes looked like something Lady Bevell would wear - you were sitting down and though your body protested against every movement, you weren’t the one making it. It would scare you if you weren’t so exhausted and aching, but as it was, you were completely pliant under the man’s calloused hands. You felt like a small child again.
“Doctor Hess wants to see you alone in her office,” Ketch informed you while tying your shoes. He took your face in his hands and tilted it towards him. “Can you open your eyes?”
With immense effort, you forced your eyelids to part. Ketch’s face occupied your whole field of vision, but instead of it being claustrophobic like it would have been days ago, it made you feel safe.
Ketch’s lips tugged upwards in a barely there smile. “Good girl,” he whispered.
Your stomach fluttered at the praise and you found yourself smiling back.
He helped you straighten your back and when you didn’t collapse, slowly pulled you to your feet. Your knees immediately bucked under you, but Ketch firmly grasped your waist and held you up. It felt odd - the cracked ribs should have made you scream in pain, but only a slight buzzing sensation filled your chest instead; you decided not to dwell on it. The first few steps he helped you take were unsure and weak, but you managed to gain at least some confidence before you made it down the compound hall. When you finally arrived into doctor Hess’ office, your head spun, but you walked in on your own, right behind Ketch.
“Miss Y/L/N, as requested,” he announced briskly. You forced your eyes not to stay closed after blinking.
“Thank you, Mr. Ketch,” doctor Hess replied from behind the table. “Dismissed.” Ketch gave her a slight nod and walked out of the door without another word. You found yourself swaying slightly, but didn’t dare fall in front of the intimidating woman - you’d only seen her once before, but it’d been enough. Doctor Hess regarded you with cold eyes, but stayed silent for several agonizingly long moments. The room was so hot, droplets of sweat rolled down your back.
“Mr. Ketch told me your training is progressing well,” she spoke at last. You were uncertain whether she wanted you to answer or not, so you rather decided to stay silent. The woman seemed pleased by your choice, for her thinly pressed lips relaxed the slightest bit. Doctor Hess sighed slightly, and the sound chilled you down to your tired bones. “Our ultimate goal is the same, miss Y/L/N. We want to rid this country of monsters and for that very reason, certain sacrifices have to be made.” The woman rested her hands on the table and pulled herself up. You were content with the piece of furniture separating you, but she clearly disagreed, for she slowly sidestepped it and came towards you.
Sweat pooled down your temples and neck, and you had to force yourself to breathe; something about the woman was even more intimidating than Ketch was when he beat the crap out of you during training.
Doctor Hess silently examined your pale face for several moments before speaking again. “Both Mr. Ketch and Mr. Davies expressed they think you are ready for a mission,” she said curtly. “And although I don’t completely share their opinion, there has been an incident that demands our immediate attention.” She took a step back and pursed her lips. “A witch has been terrorising a small town in Oklahoma. We wanted to wait until Phase Two of our plan to rid this country of vampires has been completed, but this witch is causing too much trouble for our liking. You and Mr. Ketch will locate and terminate her and the coven she’s a part of if that is the case.” Her eyes narrowed. “I’m certain I don’t need to remind you that disobedience will be punished accordingly.”
It took all your strength to answer, even as you merely whispered. “No, ma’am.”
Doctor Hess offered you a tightlipped smile. “Good.”
Confident footsteps sounded behind your back, but you didn’t turn to regard the newcomer as he stopped at your side.
“You called me, ma’am?” Mick Davies said as a form of greeting to the woman in charge.
“Yes,” she replied. “Take miss Y/L/N to the med bay before she and Mr. Ketch leave for their mission, Mr. Davies.”
You didn’t hear his reply before your eyes rolled in the back of your head and knees buckled under you. You expected to hit the hard floor, but strong arms caught you instead and steadied you on your feet. You wanted to sob - why couldn’t they just let you fall and faint? Was that really so much for them to allow you that?
The hands rested on your shoulders and tugged you out. You barely made it ten steps from doctor Hess’ office, before your legs gave out once again.
“Oh hell,” Mick blurted out when he caught you for the second time. Your whole body felt heavy and uncooperative in his hands as he adjusted his grip on you only for you to cry out. “What?” he asked in panic. “What’s wrong?”
You grimaced in pain you’d managed to ignore up until that moment. “Ribs,” you choked out.
Mick cursed under his breath. His hands shifted on your body and then you were suddenly swept off your feet as he picked you up and pressed you close to his chest. This man didn’t care what you had or hadn’t done - you were at the brick of unconsciousness and in severe pain, and it was his duty to aid you. You rested your head on his shoulder with a content sigh.
“What’s happened to your head?” Mick’s voice filled your ears, but you didn’t know how to respond.
“My head?” You didn’t remember injuring your head. Maybe Ketch hit you there during training? Your memories were fuzzy, and you were too tired to think about it. Your fall in the training room completely fled from your mind.
The smell of disinfectant filled your nostrils a moment later when Mick rushed you to the medical area.
“What happened?” a female voice asked.
Mick set you down on a medical bed, and you immediately missed his warmth. “Fractured ribs, several cuts and bruises and severe fatigue,” he answered, but you were too far gone to listen to anything else. It wasn’t sleeping, but it wasn’t unconsciousness either - you found yourself somewhere in between where nothing could touch or reach you. You felt someone trying to undress you and groaned in response.
Warm hands touched your burning face, and you knew no more.
You woke up to the feeling of something moving inside you.
Your first instinct was to scream and cry, but cloud only whimper. Lying on your side with someone behind you, you tried to scramble away, but found you couldn’t - your whole body felt sluggish and unresponsive. Forcing your eyes open, you faced the wall of an unknown room. What was happening? What were they doing to you?
You felt sick. So sick you struggled to breathe.
“Shhh,” a male voice breathed into your ear. “You’re safe, don’t fight it.”
The voice sounded familiar, but your sluggish brain couldn’t place it. Warm, calloused hands gripped your exposed hip to hold you in place as the person behind you thrust into you gently. Pleasure slowly traveled through your body, from your cunt all the way down to your curling toes.
It shouldn’t feel good. None of this should feel good.
The man behind you let go of your hip to tease your swollen clit. Your body demanded to move, but your limbs remained as unresponsive as before. Tears streamed down your cheeks, but not a single sob escaped your parted lips. Why couldn’t you fucking move?
“Do you like my cock, Y/N?” your rapist breathed as his thrust became harder and more frantic. He quickened his fingers that played with your clit. A low moan was your only response. He slowly kissed behind your ear as his other hand came around your throat.
You waited for your body to stiffen in response, but only a pleasant fuzzy feeling filled your head.
Pleasure and pain both filled you completely when you finally came with your mouth opened in a silent shout. The man thrust into you a few more times before he tensed, and his seed filled your abused cunt.
You waited for him to pull out, but he pressed his hips as tight to your as he could instead and tightened his hold on your throat. His fingers lazily grazed your sensitive clit; quickened breathing was your only reaction.
Black spots filled your vision, but you still felt everything he was doing to your pliant body - his cock getting hard inside you again, his hips rolling slightly, his fingers rolling around your clit, his breathing loud in your ear, his fingers digging into the sides of your throat.
A harder thrust forced a whimper out of you.
The man behind you chuckled and grazed your ear. “Don’t worry, miss Y/L/N, you won’t remember any of this. I have a spell that will make sure of it, as always.”
Your brain finally connected the dots.
Arthur Ketch was the person fucking you.
A sob left you, but then Ketch tightened his grip on you and you slipped away once again, unaware of his cock fucking your cum filled cunt. Not that it was the first time.