Chains and Bonds
: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Numb3rs. Had I owned Numb3rs, I would have kept Sabrina Lloyd in the series at all costs. Actually, let's make it clear: if it has ever been on TV, it's not mine.Crossover
: Numb3rs, the TV series.Timeline
: 1996, from the middle of August to the end of December.Words
: Ten chapters of 2500 words on the average.Warnings
: The rating is FR18: nudity, violence and torture. Some chapters may be identified as FR21. Still no pairing in sight.Summary of Part II:
In New Orleans, Buffy found relative happiness in a job involving horse manure and even found time to make a friend. But what goes around comes around, even when you’re not to blame for what went around. Buffy was arrested, brought to a drumhead trial and sentenced to thirty years, then six lifetime sentences without the possibility of parole (!) in a special, super maximum security, experimental prison for women, where inmates are put to very hard labor and beaten mercilessly for the slightest mischief. There Buffy meets a girl named Dawn...Summary of this part:
This is the sequel to “The True Cost of Love”. While Buffy endures all kinds of horrors and humiliation to protect her new friend, another friend and a team of untouchable investigators look for ways to help her. But the biggest relief comes from a most startling source, and true justice sometimes travels in unanticipated ways...
Desdichados, Friday August 16, 1996, 4 AM
“Get to work, you cunt!”
Buffy, staggering with exhaustion but trying to keep her balance, slowly exited what the guards humorously – or so they thought – called the “shark cage”. That damn contraption had been quite a trial for her indeed.
On Wednesday she had received forty whip lashes, about equally distributed between her chest and abdomen and her back, then had been brought to “the cage” for defending that young kid, Dawn. Dawn had then taken her defense in front of the warden himself, that old “General Chang”, and had received a few lashes herself from the guards for her perceived “insolence”. Then Buffy had been brought to the “shark cage”.
The “shark cage” was in fact a heavy iron and steel cage, all the bars, horizontal and vertical, of which were wrapped in sharp barbwire. It was two feet by two feet by seven feet high, so the only way to avoid the barbwire was to stand up in it, as motionless as possible. Normally that punishment lasted one night (8 PM to 4 AM) but Buffy had been entitled to a much longer punishment, from Wednesday 10 PM to Friday 4 AM, thirty hours in all.
So Buffy, after receiving forty lashes and a brutal beating under the guards’ sticks, had been brought, topless and cuffed in the back, to the cage. There the guards had gagged and blindfolded her and pushed her in the cage, where the barbwire had bitten her breasts for the first of many times.
The night had passed, so long and so quiet and so. Damn. COLD! It was one thing to run topless under a freezing rain like she had done in Los Angeles the night of her Calling, it was much harder to stay standing up and motionless in that same kind of cold – although at least there was no rain – for several hours, having no idea of how long she had been there and if the weather was to become even colder!
After the first eternity, Buffy had started hearing noises. It had not taken her too long to understand that the inmates were getting to work. Unfortunately it had not lasted and eventually she had been drowned in silence again, as the temperature had raised and a strong yet still not that warm sun had started heating her skin at least a little bit, she had stopped shivering and the only pain left were her yet unhealed welts and the barbwire cuts. Many times though she had drifted enough to be awakened by the bite of the barbwire on her naked flesh.
During all that time of course she had received no food and no water. She had started to dehydrate, and her head had started to throb, and the coolness had started creeping back. Later she had heard the inmates coming back from work. Then the coolness had become coldness, as a Northern wind had started blowing on her naked skin, bloodied by all the times the barbwire had torn it. It had felt so much longer, so much colder, until finally...
“Come on, bitch, we don’t have all day!”
Brutally, as if time was now of the essence, a guard took off her gag and blindfold, then took the handcuffs off and pushed her with his nightstick in the direction of the long line of inmates leaving their quarters in the night for whatever job was waiting for them that day. Numb with fatigue, Buffy kept staggering, the whip started biting her back, she started walking a little faster, wondering how she was going to be able to work, exhausted as she was.
And then she saw Dawn.
Wednesday night, after the guards had beaten the living daylights out of Buffy, not even noticing that Gracie’s friends had surreptitiously dragged her to her bed, far from the fight, and they had taken Buffy to the “shark cage”, Dawn, who had received several lashes on her bare back for trying to intervene in her favour, had looked around. But everyone else had been looking elsewhere. The short and spunky blonde was fresh meat, she would have to learn the hard way that nobody, but nobody, not even the guards, dared to stand up to Gracie one on one, certainly not for keeping a little snot from getting a good and probably well-deserved thrashing.
So Dawn had followed the guards as they had taken Buffy to her new punishment. She still could not believe what had just happened. That little blonde, who had just received forty angry lashes, had stood up to Gracie “The Mountain” Diamond in order to protect her
! Why? Why had she done that? Nobody, but nobody had ever stood up for her before, not even her mom, until her death two years ago. And that girl, that... Buffy... she had done it, she had fought Gracie and won, she had been trounced by the guards for defending her, she was being brought to torture for defending her, and yet she had smiled at her!
Dawn had followed Buffy and the guards outside in the night. It was cold but she didn’t care. Neither had the guards who saw her, the fence around the barracks was twenty feet high and electrified, and even if the power was lost, the barbwire at the top would simply shred the topless little snot.
Dawn had looked in the direction of the “shark cage”. Everybody knew where it was. The small mound had been erected by the inmates, it had been surrounded by a high fence, and there the cage had been placed, right at its top. Any wind would blow on the poor girl locked in there, always topless, always cuffed in the back, sometimes even gagged and blindfolded, but that was rare. Dawn had been threatened many times with spending the night there, but that had never happened. And Buffy didn’t deserve that! She had just tried to protect her!
Had “General Chang” said until Friday
? But today was Wednesday? They were not going to keep her there two nights and one day? No, that was a mistake! It had to be! Tomorrow Buffy would be at work, and she – it was her responsibility since she had been “promoted” to Level III – would be part of the gang bringing them food. She would steal something more, something good, from the guards’ food, those ugly fat pigs, and bring it to her new friend. And she would hug her and thank her, and ask her why she did that, why she took her defense.
At that moment, Dawn had started praying. Her face was drenched with tears already, and she was getting colder, but she had started praying to her mother so she would protect Buffy. She didn’t think it would serve any purpose, since her mom had never really taken care of her while she was alive, but she knew no one else and could think of nothing else. She would have tried to pray to her father, but she had no idea if he was alive or dead, actually she did not even know his name. So she had been praying to her mother, and she had been shivering, and tears had been rolling down her cheeks when...
Dawn had jerked as she had heard the angry voice in her back. She knew that shrill. She also knew that Shaniqua never came out without her gang, her seven ugly, giant dwarves. And she knew then that she was going to get it. Her back now close to the fence, she had turned around and watched them coming at her, hitting their palms with their fists, as she had closed her own fists to defend herself the best she could and go down fighting...
Buffy was truly exhausted, and she was cold, and she was hungry and she was thirsty. She was not alone, except for the exhaustion part. Only Levels III and higher worked outside the camp, so there was no top to be seen, except on the guards of course, who apparently always dressed warmly for the temperature in Desdichados, which that summer didn’t go much over 65 °F. Also there was no food to be served until 9 AM, except to the guards of course, who brought their picnic baskets with them, containing several chicken legs, donuts by the dozen, and Thermos bottles full of hot, steaming coffee.
Buffy of course knew nothing of Desdichados’ regulations, except that it was best to shut the hell up until no guards were close enough to hear her. She figured that out when all she got in answer to her repeated queries to her fellow inmates were shushes. So she decided it was best to shut up for now, but she would try again later.
Buffy was going to turn her head to the front and lower it when she saw the little girl jumping and sending her hand waves. It was Dawn all right. But what had they done to her? Even in the dark, she knew something was wrong. She didn’t have a black eye the last time she had seen her! And what were those new bruises on her jaws, cheeks and torso?
“Dawn!” she screamed, as she made an involuntary move to get to her, instantly rewarded by a whip hitting her in the face.
“Look forward, 7447, or the next whipping will be on your cunt!”
Buffy opened her mouth for a witty repartee, but decided to abstain. It would serve no purpose to further upset Dawn, who looked horrified after the lash she had just received. It’s OK, Dawn, it’s OK
, she thought for herself, not wanting to say something that might attract the leather lash to the younger girl’s slender and exposed body. She started walking again, shedding tears of anger at the thought of what had been done to the preteen, and promising to herself that from now on she would spend every possible moment to teach Dawn how to fight the Slayer way.
===Friday August 16, 1996, 9 AM
“Thirty minutes to stuff your faces, you dirty maggots!”
With that kind invitation came a flock of very young girls bringing plastic bowls pre-filled with some kind of gray gruel about as appetizing as fresh vomit sprinkled with a few dead flies and plastic bottles filled with tap, mostly colorless, water. Buffy was sitting down on the next rock she would have to carry to one of the wagons she, along with many others, would have to fill with such rocks. Then they would drag them back to the yard before their day ended. Of course there was no way the guards were going to use horses for that, horses needed their rest and were far too precious to be used to tasks those stupid girls would carry out, given enough whip lashes to encourage them. She took her meal without lifting her head.
Buffy raised her head. There was Dawn, crouching in front of her, probably to avoid being detected by the guards. But they were too busy watching what looked like a possible fight between two of the girls who had brought the thing they comically called “food” and the guards called “shit”.
“Hello, Dawn.” Buffy answered weakly, but still a little smile on her face, which disappeared when she saw the huge shiner on her left eye and the bruises on her jaw and cheeks, and all over her torso. “Who did that to you?”
“That’s not important, Buffy. Look!” Dawn answered with a big smile as she took something from her pocket. It was a package wrapped in a napkin. She opened it to show a chicken leg. “It’s for you, Buffy. Enjoy!”
Buffy looked at the girl, then at the leg, then at the girl again. Then she took the leg and started eating it. Between bites she asked: “But how? How did you get this?”
“That’s not important, Buffy.”
“You stole it, right?”
“Maybe”, Dawn answered with a shrug.
Buffy nodded. “Thank you, Dawn. But I don’t want you to be punished for helping me.”
“You mean the way you were punished for helping me? Don’t worry about that, Buffy, they can’t send me to the cage anyway.”
“Because I’m what they call a guest. We have not been sentenced for crimes, we are sent here because we’re discipline problems, and we’re not eighteen yet so they have to keep us in the system. I’m not even ten actually. But Mrs. Carmody at the orphanage said that I was a discipline problem, and some judge sent me here to be broken. But I won’t break, Buffy! I never will! And every time I can bring you extra food I will, I swear!”
“They’ll whip you, Dawn.”
“Nope. They can’t. I’m only a Level III.”
“Level III? What does that mean exactly?”
“God, they didn’t tell you anything? OK. Level I is for the guests who are considered nice. There are about ten in the whole jail and they live in a different barrack, and they are allowed to wear a top. Level II is the same, but for convicts only. But don’t try to find one, right now there are no Level II convicts. That’s normally for the newbies, but they started you on Level III because they say you’re a bad girl. From Level III and up, everyone is topless. For guests, it ends there, but for convicts, it means that you’ll be whipped at least once every week: tied at or between stakes, ten lashes on the back or the front.”
“Crap...” Buffy said simply. “I guess that’s why that bastard Esposito sent me here. Is that the worst that can happen?”
“Oh no, Buffy. Then there’s Level IV and Level V. At Level IV, the dosage is increased: at least four whippings a week for convicts, and even guests get at least two a week. Finally, at Level V, which is for convicts only, you get at least one daily whipping, and you become a target for the guards, who can beat you anytime, day or night, with or without reason.”
“So they like to whip girls. Good to know.”
“Buffy, they like to do any kind of things to girls. You know, the others, they think I’m too young to understand, but I’m not stupid. I know about sex and rape and torture.”
“I can see that. Who hit you, Dawn? Gracie?”
“No. You have broken Gracie’s nose, and we can hear her squeal from the infirmary.”
“Who then? I’ll show her!”
“Don’t, Buffy, please! They’ll...” Dawn stopped and bit her lips.
“They? There was more than one? They banded together to beat you? They’re Gracie’s friends? Who are they?”
“They’re Gracie’s posse, Buffy. There’s her sister Shaniqua and seven others, most of the older black girls, all older and bigger and stronger and athletic girls, with anvils instead of fists! You can’t beat them all, Buffy! You were lucky with Gracie, but next time all nine will band against you! Don’t confront them!”
Buffy shrugged, “Not even if I want a good fight?”
Dawn shook her head. “You’ll be whipped, Buffy. Win or lose, you’ll be whipped. The guards don’t like it when someone stands up to Gracie and her goons, they... service their needs, if you know what I mean. That’s why nobody stands up to them anymore. And you can’t win against those girls if they all gang against you!”
Buffy smiled and put her hand on Dawn’s shoulder. “Don’t underestimate me, Dawn. I’ve been in much bigger fights than that, and when it was through, I was the only one standing.”
“But you’ll be whipped!” Dawn almost screamed.
“Won’t be the first time, won’t be the last.”
“But I don’t want you to be punished because of me!”
Buffy gently caressed Dawn’s cheek. “It was not your fault, Dawn. I chose to defend you, and I knew what kind of consequences it might mean for me. And if I had to do it again, and I suspect I will have to, I’d do it again, the very same way. That’s what I do, Dawn: I help those who need a hand against those who would hurt them.”
Dawn looked at Buffy. She had never met anyone like her, someone ready to sacrifice her own well-being to help her
, the street rat, the runt even her mother had stopped loving eventually, assuming she ever had.
“So you’re a kind of... champion?”
Buffy smiled. It sounded so much better than “slayer”. “Something like that, Dawn. Something like that.”