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Long Tedious Introduction/Disclaimer:
Most importantly, this uber story is based on a tale called Battle, written by Judy (Wishes). The creative inspiration for the setting, plot, and characters are all hers. Please check out Judy's other XWP fanfiction and poetry on the web -- she writes some beautiful stuff. The dynamics of Battle intrigued me, and I thank Judy for allowing me to warp her tale to my own desires.
Speaking of warped desires. This started out to be purely a hurt/comfort tale. If that theme doesn't move you you'll be bored to tears. If you're just looking for smut, skip most of this; scroll down to the last inch and a half of your sidebar for a wee dose. Disclaimers for graphic bdsm, violence, and non-consensual sex. Also speaking of warped, warm thanks to Heron for excellent beta services.
Oh yeah, and I apologize for naming Gabrielle's character Renee. I've always liked the name, but it might create for some needless confusion -- rest assured that I'm hoping you'll picture Gabrielle, not Renee O'Connor.
I intend to keep writing Clinic tales for my own pleasure. Each chapter will contain both hurt/comfort and a healthy helping of smut. If you like this beginning and want to see subsequent sequels, please let me know.
____ *** ____
Part One: Orientation and Therapy
Jess expected to be executed when they took her from the communal cell. Being merely beaten instead was a mixed blessing, but she'd take what she could get.
She was unconscious when they transferred her to the medical unit. Biting cold woke her. She surfaced through a haze of pain to find herself strapped into a jointed chair, a tacky kind of recliner equipped with cuffs. Her long body lay full-length on its padded surface; Jess figured she'd be comfortable enough, if she hadn't been freezing and aching with bruises.
An intense white light flooded her, courtesy of an arc lamp suspended over the chair, and it took her several tries to squint her eyes open. She noted she was decently dressed again in her civvies, worn jeans and a modest blue halter, and she was barefoot. Her wrists were cuffed to the chair at her sides. Her ankles were similarly bound, at the base of the recliner.
Jess shifted uneasily, wincing at the pain in her side, her ethereal blue gaze ticking methodically around the small antiseptic room. A detention cell, empty except for the reclining restraint and shelves of medical supplies, and cold as a fed's heart in early summer. Jess shivered. She craned her neck -- she couldn't see the cooling unit in the wall behind her, but judging from the chill blasting through the room it was cranked high.
She lay still and concentrated on her breathing. The crease between her arched eyebrows faded as a disciplined relaxation filled her. Jess knew she wasn't very badly hurt, she wasn't going to bleed to death. She was cold and hungry, but she'd been hungry for months. She still had a pulse. She could wait this part out. She was undisturbed for four hours.
____ *** ____
She heard the pneumatic pump over the door whoosh as the young blonde woman elbowed it open. She was carrying a clipboard and she wore a white coat, so Jess figured her for a nurse.
"What the f -- ?"
Jess heard the surprise in her voice. The girl looked at her and seemed to catch herself. The white coat was too big for her, and she wrapped it more tightly around her shoulders as she went to check the cooling unit behind the chair.
The blonde's sea-green eyes widened when she came around and saw the blood on Jess's face. She studied her restrained body silently for a moment. Then she sighed, and blinked at the steam her breath made in the cold air.
"My name is Renee. I'm staff." The girl sounded pissed, Jess thought. "Who left you in here like this?"
"Pleased to meet you, Renee." Jess cleared her throat. "I'm Jesstin."
Renee consulted the form on her clipboard. "Well, this tells me exactly jack. You came in when, last night?"
Without waiting for a reply, she snatched the penlight out of the breast pocket of her white coat, thumbed it on, and moved the beam across Jess's extraordinary eyes.
"Were you examined on arrival, Jesstin?" Renee had regained her professional tone.
"No. There's nothing life-threatening." It would have come out tougher if Jess's teeth hadn't been chattering.
Renee took Jess's pulse at the throat, and noted her glassy eyes. "How long since you've slept?"
"Couple of days."
Renee muttered something derogatory about the idiocy of prison healthcare as she palpated the base of the Jess's jaw, her green eyes unfocused as she concentrated on tactiles.
She'd been told she would find some of her new patients beaten, Renee reminded herself -- it was common practice before transfer from the prison. Still, this woman hadn't just been slapped around. Judging by the bruises, her beating had been systematic -- not designed to incapacitate, maybe, but certainly to evoke pain. Renee wondered uneasily what this prisoner had done to merit such treatment.
Jess was wondering when they'd started handing out thermometers to schoolkids. In spite of the med tech's obvious youth, however, she had to admit that the physical examination was efficient and thorough. Jess knew the government took the best and the brightest nursing students, paid for their training, and then employed them at the Clinic -- but this blonde pixie didn't seem callous enough for government work.
"Were you given anything for pain, at the prison?"
"They don't keep analgesics at the prison. Your hands are cold, Renee."
"Jesstin?" Renee straightened. "You're supposed to answer my questions as simply and briefly as possible. If you're insolent, or too familiar, or uncooperative, there'll be consequences. You know that, right?"
"Great. We understand each other." Renee took a thick blanket from the stand beneath the restraining chair. "I may be short, but in your condition I could deck you with one gut-punch. Don't forget it, please."
She flipped the blanket out and settled it over Jess, then tucked it around her sides with surprising gentleness. "Hokay. I'll rustle up someone from Maintenance to turn down the damn cooler. We'll get you cleaned up, and comfortable enough to sleep. Then I'll see to it that you're left alone for a few hours. Sound all right to you?"
Renee looked at her, as if to detect sarcasm, but Jess's blue eyes were guileless. Renee smiled briefly and left the room.
_____ *** _____
She didn't get back for an hour. Most of that time was wasted trying to track down the cretins responsible for abusing her new patient. Renee was the newest med tech on the unit and her power was nil, but she could and did file a complaint. Before returning to the cell, she opened her locker and pulled out a small silver flask.
Renee tipped it and swallowed twice, angry at herself for letting her emotions goad her again; that could be dangerous here.
When Renee pushed the heavy door open, she noted some improvement. While still cool, the cell's temperature was bearable. The dark-haired woman had been bathed, and she wore the standard-issue black shirt and trousers of the prison population. The orderly Renee had summoned had no medical expertise, however, so her injuries hadn't been addressed. She lay quietly, watching Renee approach.
"What do you say we start again." Renee folded her hands behind her. "I'm Renee, I'm staff. I'm going to take care of your medical needs while you're here, and be your physical advocate. Remember that I have the authority to discipline or disable you at any time, if necessary. All that clear?"
"Clear," Jess said. She smelled whiskey. Wonderful. A government drone with a fondness for spirits and access to long needles. Jess's luck hadn't changed.
"Also." Renee rummaged in her lab coat pocket and pulled out an index card. "'Your transfer to this medical facility was arranged under conditions of highest security,'" she read aloud. "'Armed officers stationed throughout the Clinic will ensure your compliance with unit rules.' It goes on like that for awhile." She fanned herself with the card, dryly. "Meaning, you can rebel if you wish, but someone will shoot you if you do."
Jess nodded. This girl must not know that the feds had assured her compliance above and beyond firepower.
"I need to patch you up." Renee surveyed Jess critically. "Save us both time, and tell me where you're hurt."
"My head stings." Jess thought about it. "My side aches. Other than that, just cuts and bruises."
"Were you raped?"
"Of course I was raped."
Renee hesitated. She should have disciplined her patient for the rudeness of that reply alone, but she let it slide. It had been a stupid question. Renee wasn't naive, she knew what the lives of women prisoners were like. "All right. Were you injured when it happened?"
She unbuttoned the tall woman's shirt, feeling the blue gaze on her face as she spread the black cloth apart. Renee smiled, and gestured at the tattered blue halter. "You have a sentimental attachment to this?"
"I was kept naked a lot in prison." Jess didn't elaborate. Renee could probably order her naked here, too, if she felt like it. The note of kindness in the younger woman's voice surprised her.
"There's no rule against clothing here." Standing on her tiptoes and leaning over, Renee spotted a thunderhead bruise low on Jess's right side. "Wow -- somebody really clubbed you, Jesstin. That's got to hurt -- any ribs broken, you think?"
"Don't think so."
"Well, I need to be sure." Renee folded her arms and regarded Jess, soberly. "I'll have to palpate to see if we need x-rays. Sorry, but that's going to hurt. And I need to stitch the cut on your head." She sighed. "You were right about pain killers, Jesstin. I checked your orders, and I can't give you any."
"Renee?" Jess squinted up at her. "With all due respect -- how the hell did you get here?"
"What do you mean?"
"You don't seem to enjoy pain. I'm trying, but I can't see you as the bloodthirsty type."
"I'm a certified medical technician, Jesstin. I may be new to this particular unit, but I've been ankle-deep in blood before, believe me." Renee frowned. "And what are you, four entire years older than me? Don't talk like I'm a -- "
"You're a kid." Jess knew was being reckless, but she was played out and she didn't care. "You're probably a capable nurse, but how you got assigned to a gruesome outfit
like -- "
Renee laid the flat of her hand over the bruise on the prisoner's ribs and pressed down, praying there was no fracture. Jess gasped at the bolt of pain and stiffened hard in her restraints.
"Okay." Renee straightened, relieved to have that over. "Now you know I'm not just a capable nurse, I'm also capable of hurting you, if I have to." She studied Jess's pale features and shifted uneasily. "Look, we have to apply a pain stimulus like that with a new patient sometime during the first examination. Usually I just pinch an arm, or . . . "
"Understood," Jess panted.
Renee pushed up the sleeves of her coat, as if to reset her professional mode. "My other unit didn't do military research, Jesstin, but I was assigned to lots of single-project patients there. Some of them did well and were released, some of them messed up, and went back to prison. It didn't matter to me, my pay was the same. Just don't push me, okay?"
Neither of them spoke while Renee stitched the cut above Jess's brow. She held still under the fiery needle, and made no sound.
Renee's fingers were cold on the beautiful woman's face. She'd never stitched anyone without at least a numbing spray, and she didn't care for it. To her credit, the stitches were characteristically neat and even. Renee held herself to high standards when it came to patient care.
She moved to the other side of the recliner and used her palms and the flats of her fingers to detect any sign of fracture in the woman's ribs. There weren't any. She applied salve and bandages as needed. Then she wrote clinical notes on the clipboard for some time, while Jess dozed.
Renee brushed one hand through her spiky bangs, and pushed the sleeves of her white coat up again. She noticed she'd gotten a smudge of blood on the corner of the blue intake form. She slapped down her pen in annoyance, and went to the sink. She didn't realize her hands were trembling until she held them beneath the water.
She took a white cloth and folded it. The tall woman was still shivering, but more in exhaustion now than pain, Renee decided. She blotted the high forehead, damp with sweat in spite of the cool room, and summarized her clinical impressions.
Jesstin was slightly malnourished, but she looked as if she'd been healthy and active before her incarceration. Active -- maybe frenetic, Renee thought, she looked as strong as a horse. Her shoulders were broad, and her long arms and legs were obviously powerful, requiring tight restraint. She might have been sentenced to field work at the prison, Renee thought, judging by the healing scratches on her long-fingered hands.
Renee brushed the chestnut hair aside and patted the cloth over Jess's throat before moving it over her stomach and sides. She saw Jess tighten as a twinge of pain went through her.
"I'll tell you a secret of the med tech trade, Jesstin." Renee ran the cloth down each muscled arm. "If you know how and when to administer pain -- and your patient knows you're willing to -- you don't have to do it as often." She smiled as she folded the cloth, and the corners of her green eyes crinkled. "Makes it more pleasant for both of us. Okay, you're patched. Think you can sleep for awhile?"
Jess closed her eyes at another twinge, and Renee shook her head sadly. She snapped off the bright floodlight suspended above the chair, plunging the room into blue-hued darkness. Her searching fingers touched Jess's shoulder, then slid gently beneath her dark hair. She cupped the strong neck, noting the velvet-sheathed tension thrumming in her palm. She began working the tight muscles with strong fingers, closing her own eyes in order to concentrate.
"You're like me," Renee murmured. "We carry all our tension in our shoulders and neck. My little sister can put me to sleep in ten minutes doing this. Try to relax, Jesstin."
She probed the steely muscles silently for awhile.
"Listen," Renee said, conversationally. "If less stress will help you heal, your file says you've got nothing but physical therapy for the next week. We want to build your strength for the clinical trials. That means bedrest, decent meals, light exercise when you're ready for it . . . "
Renee heard a light, buzzing snore in the darkness. She smiled, and edged her hand carefully from beneath Jess's thick hair. She smoothed a stray lock off the sleeping woman's brow, sifting its softness through her fingers. "I'm so good," she murmured.
___ *** ___
The week passed.
Jess healed quickly, testament both to Renee's nursing skill and her own sterling constitution. In that time, the med tech learned a little about her patient from the gossip that was rife at every nurses' station. Jess learned about her keeper, too, through the more revealing osmosis of constant contact.
Jesstin of Tristaine was rumored to have Amazon blood. Like most of her contemporaries, Renee wasn't sure she believed descendents of the ancient race existed. She didn't even know if the Clinic considered the rumor was significant -- but it might be the reason Renee been pulled off her regular unit. Jess was skilled in hand-to-hand fighting, and so was she.
The blonde woman's small stature was deceptive, as anyone meeting her in a ring found out. She was quick, even with alcohol making its first inroads in her fitness. She had a compact, sturdy body, beautifully proportioned. She still trained regularly, even in days clouded by mind-numbing hangover, and she was stronger than she had any right to be.
Jess's physical therapy went beyond stretching or using exercise machines. On the fourth day, Renee took her to a small enclosed arena adjoining the clinic. Armed guards were posted at regular intervals along its walls, and for once they never took their eyes from the fighting field, monitoring the two women closely as they engaged in drills of increasing rigor.
Renee was pleased with Jess's progress, and her chart notes were optimistic. Her patient was healing so fast it was uncanny, and soon she was more than holding her own in drills. Plus, Jess had an arsenal of spinning kicks that Renee found downright daunting. She had to admit she looked forward to their sessions. After them, she could sleep without the liquor.
And Renee appreciated the fact that the tall woman didn't breach the boundaries of their therapy. This was jousting, not combat. The blows they landed were as light as possible, and pulled instantly if headed for a vulnerable body part. Renee learned to trust this steady restraint in Jess's fighting, and began to learn from her, new holds and attacks.
It was late the morning of the sixth day, and it was going well. Jess's bruises were fading, the cut was healing, and she had regained full range of motion on her right side, so the ribs were coming along too.
The sun burned high and hot in a flawlessly blue sky. Renee blinked sweat out of her eyes and hefted the two sleek quarterstaffs she carried. She tossed one to Jess, who caught it neatly.
"Hey, this is beautiful." Jess spun the staff in her hands with real pleasure, eyeing its carvings. "I haven't done staffwork in years. Are these yours?"
"Just this one is." Renee twirled the unadorned quarterstaff that had taken her to college semi-finals nimbly in one hand. "I checked that one out, and it's a matchstick by comparison, so watch it."
They were both somewhat handicapped by attire. By regulation, Jess could wear only the black shirt and trouser uniform of the prison population. Renee could have opted for something a little less restrictive, but in fairness she dressed in scrub greens when they drilled.
"You keep your weight more on your right foot than your left?" Jess parried a confident thrust from the smaller woman's staff.
"Yep, helps me build momentum before I strike." Renee danced a little, studying Jess's body to predict her next move.
"So whenever you shift your weight to your right foot, I know you're about to smack me from the left, correct?"
It was therefore doubly satisfying when Jess mistook her intent, bobbed when she should have weaved, and would have received a nice clout in the stomach if Renee hadn't pulled the blow.
Jess grinned as Renee crooned over her victory. "You do announce that thrust, Renee. Decent feint, though, you're quick."
"Gracious of you to admit it, since I'm now . . . " Renee's eyes moved past Jess, and she lowered her staff.
Jess followed her gaze to the white-coated woman making her way across the arena toward them. She was middle-aged and slender, with a patrician face and carriage. Jess didn't know her.
"That's Caster," Renee said, sotto voce. "She's the doctor heading up your project. Be respectful, Jess."
"So, this is Jesstin." Smiling, the woman came up to Jess and rested a hand on her shoulder. "She's looking well, Renee. You're doing a fine job preparing her for the clinical trials."
"Thank you, Doctor. Yeah, she's coming along. She's not ready for clinical, yet, I don't think. Maybe next week -- "
"My name is Caster, Jesstin. I'm staff." The woman reached into the pocket of her lab coat and pulled out something small and metal. She lay its tip on Jess's left shoulder and pressed a button. There was an ugly buzzing sound.
Jess grunted, spun tightly and fell, clutching her shoulder.
Renee started, then stared at Jess in shock. "What are you doing?"
"I'm demonstrating the new feedback device we're introducing to the unit." Caster's voice was calm and richly feminine.
She stepped away from Jess and showed Renee the stunner, which looked like a streamlined, gleaming revolver. "It gives off quite a charge, but it's adjustable. I gave Jesstin here a fairly large jolt just now. Quite painful, but no lasting tissue damage, and the discomfort and disorientation fade after a few minutes."
Jess made it back to her feet, but her face was chalk-white, and she held herself stiffly. Renee knew she was in pain.
"Why was that necessary?"
Caster nodded thoughtfully, as if considering her question. "I've read Jesstin's file, Renee, and I thought a reminder of the wisdom of compliance was in order. She's quite stubborn, I gather. And you should have some electronic backup, hon, if you're working with her alone."
"I don't think I'll need a stunner, Caster." Renee regarded Jess uneasily. "She's been pretty cooperative -- "
"And I'm sure she'll continue to be, now." Caster smiled. Then she gestured at the staff Renee held. "But I didn't mean to interrupt your therapy session, Renee. Please, continue."
"We were finished, Doctor."
"Nonsense, it's not even noon. Pick up your weapon, Jesstin."
Jess thought sourly that she should have seen this coming -- the woman was a fucking cartoon version of a Nazi dominatrix. She bent painfully and retrieved her staff from the grass.
"Caster." Renee's hands decorated her words, an old habit when she was stressed. "Even drilling with a quarterstaff can be dangerous, and Jesstin still looks pretty groggy. Maybe you'd like to come back after our lunch break, and watch us go hand-to-hand, that's really her specialty -- "
"Renee, let me fill you in on what we're doing." Caster turned the smaller woman aside and slipped an arm around her shoulders. "You should know that Jesstin comes from a faction of mountain women who are notoriously resistant to intervention. And unfortunately, she's as obstinate as her clan."
Caster pressed the girl's shoulders ruefully. "She needs deflating, Renee. Even after months in lockdown, Jesstin is still much too headstrong. If she goes into clinicals now, she won't stand a chance. I need your help with this."
At least six questions Renee knew she couldn't ask almost crowded out of her. She stammered, "You want us to drill, right now?"
"I want you to fight now," Caster corrected. "Take Jesstin down, Renee, and hard. Make her feel it. Quickly, the effects of the stunner won't last much longer."
"But -- "
Jess couldn't hear the murmured conference, but she braced herself when Renee turned back with her staff clenched tightly in both hands. The blonde woman streaked forward and attacked with a fusillade of strikes, and Jess back-stepped several yards before she was able to fend her off. She finally locked their staves together, and heaved Renee back to clear space between them.
"Jesstin, listen to me." Renee's tone was low and urgent. "Just drop your guard. Take one hit, fast and neat, and go down."
Jess wasn't having it. For her, there was no turning back from a fight, even one forced on her. Renee's staff flew out of her stinging hands, propelled by a kick so fast it hardly registered. Ordinarily, a chop to the exposed throat would follow, but Jess stayed her hand -- she might be woozy, but she wasn't crazy.
Renee moved almost as quickly as Jess had. Her sneakered foot swept out in a sharp kick that thudded into Jess's unprotected side, with audible impact. Renee was so astonished at her success that it took her a moment to realize she'd kicked Jess flush in her deeply bruised ribs.
The dark woman dropped her staff and teetered, then went to her knees, folding over the pounding in her side. Renee locked own knees to block the instinct to go to her. The young nurse's heart was pounding like tympani in her chest, and she felt a sudden roil of nausea. She didn't think, then, to question those reactions.
Caster's voice was warm. "Nicely done, Renee."
The doctor folded her arms and addressed the gasping prisoner. "You see, Jesstin, your brand of justice is a foreign concept here. This little slip of a woman didn't just take you down to correct you. She did it because she could. That's how your world works now, I'm afraid."
"I'm all right, Caster." Still clutching her side, Jess sat carefully back on her heels.
She heard Renee's quick warning breath, but ignored it. "This -- little slip -- packs quite a punch. As her grandfather, you must be proud."
Renee was having trouble keeping any one thought in her mind right then, but she was practically certain Jess couldn't have spoken those words. Not in that husky, sensual, mocking drawl. The woman next to her went still, and Renee's heart skipped another jagged beat.
Renee looked down at the stunner Caster was pressing into her hand. "Y-you want me to use this on her? Now?"
"Unless you have a problem with my judgment, Renee." Caster's voice was still mild, but her eyes were flinty.
"I don't think I can do this."
"You can and you will." Caster leaned closer to Renee and spoke quietly. "You can go far here, Renee, with the right contacts. But I warn you, you must steel yourself to this sort of thing. Do you want to be a med tech all your life? There are a dozen applications for every promotion at the Clinic, and none of the candidates are squeamish."
Renee nodded. Her sea-green eyes took on an opaque sheen as she knelt in the grass in front of Jess. The hand that held the stunner was shaking.
"Full intensity," Caster instructed.
Renee met Jess's gaze. She adjusted the dial on the stunner with cold fingers. A moment passed.
"Come now," Caster sighed. "It's hardly more than the first jolt I gave Jesstin. In fact, Renee, it might be best to administer this one in precisely the same place -- high on the left shoulder. Since the first dose obviously had such little lasting effect."
"Jess," Renee said.
Jess's lips hardly moved. "I can't help you with this, Ren."
Renee looked at the stunner in her hand. There was no real choice to be made. She rested the muzzle on the hard swell of Jess's shoulder.
"Bare skin, please."
Renee closed her eyes. "It'll burn her, Caster."
"Not badly." Caster's brown eyes were mild again. "It'll be more painful, true, but remember, tissue damage is minimal."
Jess was well aware of the rifles trained on her back from the guardposts, and she sat motionless on her heels. Renee opened top two snaps of her shirt and lifted the black cloth to bare her shoulder. She looked at the smooth, tanned skin, already marked by the previous bolt with faint scratches. That had been through the shirt.
Renee rested the muzzle against a freckle. She could feel Jess's gaze on her face, but she didn't meet her eyes as she fingered the switch. The ugly buzzing sound barked again. Pain blasted through Jess's arm and chest and up to her throat, locking out breath.
Renee was on her feet even before Jess hit the ground, and she backed away from her as if she were a snake thrashing in the grass.
To Jess's surprise and disgust, she realized she was passing out -- she felt a gray haze cresting over her. She sprawled on her back and lay still.
"Thank you, Renee. Better late, and all that."
Caster clasped her slender hands behind her back and looked down at the unconscious prisoner. "I think we'll give Jesstin some time to ponder her options -- the fresh air out here will do her good. We should make sure she gets enough sunshine, though." The doctor bent down and tore Jess's shirt open. Then she wrenched the blue halter apart, baring her breasts.
Renee couldn't move.
Caster arranged Jess artfully on her back, spreading her muscular arms over her head to enhance the lift of her firm breasts. Then she turned to Renee and smiled.
"Well, Renee. With one brief lapse, you've been most professional this morning. Now, you're about to earn some lucrative overtime. I want you to stay here tonight. Are you listening, hon?"
Renee was staring at Jess's motionless form, but she nodded.
"Find an orderly, and have them tie Jesstin down. Arms out, never mind the feet. She's to remain here, supine, until midnight." Caster ticked the points off on her long fingers. "Make sure her breasts are exposed when she awakens, and don't discourage the guards from calling down to her. Understood?"
"Midnight," Renee repeated stupidly.
Caster nudged Jess's leg with her foot. "You can find some shade and get caught up with your paperwork. Just make sure no one gives her water. Escort Jesstin back after midnight, patch her up a bit, then take off. With six hours of double-time on your clock."
Renee shrugged and nodded, an almost childish gesture that escaped because her head was boiling too loudly. Caster patted her again, and strode off toward the arena gate, checking her watch.
Renee looked up at the blazing sun, her throat dry. Jess was going to lie under this for six hours.
She took a tentative step forward and studied Jess's pale features, her dusky lashes still against the high cheek. Her breathing was normal now, and her color was coming back. Renee wanted to stop looking at Jess, but she couldn't, and not because she was half naked.
She knew Caster intended to humiliate her prisoner by exposing her breasts, but Renee wasn't sure she succeeded. Even senseless, the rugged woman projected a dignity that was undiminished by her nakedness. She looked like a fallen warrior, Renee thought.
She turned away, quickly.
The guards would monitor the prisoner while Renee found an orderly. Then she could stop by her locker.
____ *** ____
Renee paused outside the detention cell and pushed up the sleeves of her coat, staring at the woodgrain panel of the door until she was sure her priorities were back in place. She puffed breath into her palm and sniffed, stalling. Just mouthwash.
It was 12:30 am. Jess had been returned and confined again in the detention chair minutes earlier. The brilliant lamp suspended over the chair flooded her body with merciless light.
The orderly had left Jess's shirt open. Her bare breasts glowed pinkly under the harsh light, the consequence of hours of sun on skin usually protected by clothing. The clinician in Renee noted that her breasts were firm and tight, otherwise unmarked, with dark nipples blending into the flushed-ivory swells.
Renee opened the small freezer on the supply counter and took out an ice bag. "I know you're awake, Jesstin."
The dark woman opened her eyes.
"I'm going to put this on your side." Renee flexed the icepack to activate it. "I checked your ribs, while you were still . . . there's no fracture." She lay the icepack in place gently.
Jess started at the sudden cold, striking after so much heat. Renee saw her breasts lift with the sudden motion, and she averted her eyes.
Jess's throat felt like it was stuffed with socks. "I'd appreciate water," she croaked.
"Not right now." Renee's eyebrows rose in dismay. "No, I'm not withholding it -- you just need to cool off a little, before you drink. If you want any of it to stay down."
Jess nodded. Her extraordinary eyes were dull.
Renee moved closer and touched Jess's face with the backs of her fingers, then lay her palm at the base of her throat. She picked up one of the two vials she'd received from the dispensary and poured a small amount of liquid into her hand. She warmed the oil in her palms.
"Jess, I'm going to touch you," she said. "It's nothing sexual." Her voice was in good control, low and soothing. "You're dehydrated, and probably close to heat exhaustion. We need to push fluids as soon as we can, and get your body temperature back to normal. This oil is good for burns, and it has an alcohol base that feels really cool." She hesitated. "I know you're tender, I'll be careful."
Renee's palms settled on Jess's breasts, and began to massage the silky oil into the blushing mounds with circular strokes. Jess relaxed under the younger woman's cool touch, her gaze unfocused over Renee's white-coated shoulder. Jess felt her nipples harden, and cursed herself. It was happening now whenever the blonde nurse touched her, it didn't matter where.
"You were a bloody idiot today, Jess." Renee knew what she wanted to say, she'd had hours to gather her thoughts. "You deliberately provoked that second stunner hit. Caster was entirely within protocol to prescribe it."
Jess said nothing.
"What happened afterwards." Renee kept her eyes on her hands, her fingers light on Jess's sensitive breasts. "Exposing you, and tying you out there all afternoon . . . I know that was harsh. I'm not disagreeing with Caster," Renee added, "but it was a -- a very strong intervention." She paused. "I'm sorry I had to hurt you."
Jess's eyes drifted closed under the pleasant stroking. "I don't blame you, Ren."
Renee started to speak, stopped herself, then asked anyway. "Jess, why were you sent to prison?"
Jess smiled, mirthlessly. "They didn't include that in my chart, huh?"
"No. Just the life sentence, but not what for. We're supposed to assume everyone is dangerous."
"Well, according to your federal court, I am. I was convicted of killing two children."
Renee's hands stilled for a moment. "And you didn't do it," she said tonelessly.
Jess was silent while Renee smoothed excess oil over her lean belly. "Two kids died because of me," she said finally. "It comes to the same thing."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Your government considers mountain children expendable, Renee." Jess flexed her stiff shoulder. "Two of them can die without serious consequences, especially if the murders can be used to frame an Amazon. The Clinic holds two other girls, friends of mine, to keep me agreeable."
Renee dried her hands in a towel. She shouldn't have asked -- there were reasons medical staff weren't told about a patient's background. I was framed, yer honner, she thought. Please. Did Jess think she was brainless, as well as green? Renee lifted the second vial from the medication tray and frowned.
"Damn, what's Caster thinking of?" Renee turned to see Jess's blue eyes regarding her. "It's an antiseptic, for your arm. Your shoulder."
She showed Jess the small bottle. Jess eyed the label obediently, then arched one brow.
"Sorry." Renee grinned. "It's tecathanase, it's very potent. It'll do the job, I guess -- but there's a dozen other antiseptics I'd rather use." She paused. "It's going to sting, Jess."
A wave of weariness ghosted across the tall woman's features. Jess was tired of being tortured by malicious children, even guilt-ridden ones. "Thanks for telling me. It helps, sometimes, if I can brace myself a bit."
"Does it?" Renee asked softly. "Most people are the exact opposite, I've noticed. You wouldn't think so, but being surprised by pain is actually less traumatic than -- " She made herself stop babbling, and saturated a sterilized cloth with the astringent liquid.
She reached for Jess's collar, and the dark head jerked away from her hand -- just a fraction of an inch. Renee accepted the flinch for what it was, without comment, and felt another stone lodge in her belly. She remembered her early days of training, before her transfer to the federal program, when the credo had been do no harm.
Renee knew better than to give any visible reaction to a patient's injury; that had been drilled into her since her first internship. And this was not an especially ugly wound; a second-degree burn capping the shoulder, a few deep scratches, and some bruising in an area about the size of a quarter. The skin around it looked flushed and tender. Renee had certainly seen worse; in fact, the injury looked cleaner than she'd feared it might. She folded the dripping cloth in half and pressed it to the wound.
Jess's assaulted nerves awoke with a vengeance; true to its reputation, the antiseptic was scathing as acid. Her head came up off the padded surface of the chair, and her fists clenched in the restraints.
"H-hey!" Renee gasped raggedly and backed away, pressing a hand to her waist. Her reaction was out of proportion to the flinch, and they both knew it. "You startled me."
Jess thought she understood some of the conflict this young woman struggled with, but right now she was trying to rise above the flames still incinerating her shoulder. "Bracing myself didn't work," she gasped.
Renee waited, wanting a drink so badly she trembled with it.
When Jess's breathing returned to normal, Renee cleared her throat and took a practical look at her shoulder . "I think I got it well covered. We'll let it air tonight, and I'll bandage it in the morning. So it won't chafe on your shirt."
Renee snapped Jess's shirt closed, then brought a carafe of water and helped her drink. She pulled the white cotton blanket up to her chest, and then clicked off the overhead floodlight. Half-blinded, Renee made her way around the bed and moved toward the door. The rich voice behind her stopped her, but only briefly.
"Do you know tomorrow's protocol, Renee?"
"No." Renee didn't, and she didn't want to. Tomorrow's protocol was where it bloody well belonged, several shots and dreamless hours away. "Get some sleep, Jess."
____ *** ____
The next morning, Renee elbowed open the rusty door of her Jeep and promptly fell out of it, sprawling on the asphalt of the Clinic's parking lot. There was no damage except one skinned ankle bone that was unreasonably painful.
Renee debated swinging by the dispensary for a bandage, but decided against it. She was dreadfully late -- an unprecedented lapse -- and there would only be time to stop by her locker. She needed a quick jolt from the flask to quell the shaking in her hands more than she needed a Band-aid. She had trouble inserting her staff ID into the entrance's electronic lock.
Minutes later, breathless, Renee snapped her lab coat on over her shoulders as she backed into the detention cell. She turned, and stopped dead. The cell was empty, the floodlight over the chair dark. The restrainer stood deserted, eerie in the shadows with the straps dangling at its sides.
Renee backed out and trotted to the nurse's station, and realized there were flashing lights going off behind her eyes. She blinked, a little alarmed. Hangover? It didn't feel like it, but her head was swimming.
"Has Jesstin been signed out?" Renee flattened her hands on the cool counter curving around the station, and repeated her question twice to the orderly in charge of the desk. He took a maddeningly long time checking his computer screen as she tapped the linoleum, but he finally nodded.
"Caster signed her out for the rest of the day. They're in C-6."
"Caster, huh?" Renee's stomach gave a queasy thump. "Any idea why? Jess isn't due to start clinicals until next week."
The orderly pumped his thumb at the monitor. "This says she starts today,"
"C-6." Renee turned in a full circle, tapping her thighs now. "C-6."
"Thanks." Renee heard the word echo in her head as she jogged down C Wing, a corridor she hadn't visited since her orientation. She rubbed her temples as she counted down suite numbers. Great, she was having aural distortion now, as well as visual -- if there were any justice in the world, Jess would knock her into next week in today's drills.
She couldn't even remember what Jess's clinicals were about, what Caster had told her yesterday. Something about Amazons. She had to clear her head.
Suite 6 was unlocked, and staff didn't knock. Renee pushed the double doors open and stepped in, rehearsing her apology to Caster. For a moment she thought Jess had been crucified, and she stifled a scream behind her hand.
The large concrete chamber was barren except for a huge X-frame that dominated one wall. Jess had been tied to it, her wrists and ankles pressed against the crossbeams and bound with heavy rope. Her arms and legs were widely spread, and her bare feet were a good two feet off the floor. There was a narrow shelf in the center of the X-frame that pressed into Jess's back, forcing her strong body into a slight arch. She was naked -- her clothing was folded and stacked on top of a table against the far wall.
"You almost scared the life out of me." Caster was standing beside the frame, one hand on her hip, looking at Renee appraisingly. "I expected you a little earlier, Renee. We've been at it for hours."
The sun-reddened globes of Jess's breasts were criss-crossed with lash-marks. She wore a collar of thick chain-link around her neck. Another length of chain was fastened to the collar, and ran down between her punished breasts, bisecting her glistening body. It disappeared between her wide-spread legs, snaking up her back to reattach to the collar. Renee saw that one of the heavy steel links was wedged deeply between Jess's labia, and the entire length of chain was pulled to screaming tightness.
Renee's vision blurred, and she saw three dark women spread-eagled on X-frames -- then two, then one. Her knees gave out and she sat down abruptly on the concrete floor. Astonishment waged with horror and dizziness -- and with a deep, shameful pulse in her blood that the young woman didn't even recognize as carnal.
"I'm giving Jesstin a brief rest." Caster patted the prisoner's lean belly. "She's had a hard morning."
The doctor folded her skirt modestly beneath her and lowered herself to the floor beside Renee. She smiled at the younger woman, as if sitting on the cold cement together was entirely appropriate. They both looked up at the suspended woman.
"Do you understand what you're seeing, Renee?" Caster asked finally.
"We can't do this," Renee whispered. Her heart was pounding, but wetness was gathering between her legs.
"We can and must," Caster corrected. "All right, in brief. Jesstin's clinical trial involves that mountain faction I mentioned yesterday. Her people."
"We can't do this."
"It's important that you listen, please. Jesstin's clan refuses to accept our military's terms of assimilation, Renee. They have for years. We don't understand why, and it's not truly important that we do. What matters is finding a way of forcing their surrender, before we have to wipe out the entire race."
Jess's blue eyes drilled into the Renee's large green ones. Renee felt her nipples rise, and she shivered.
"Our Jesstin has the unenviable task of standing in for all her mountain sisters." Caster crossed her ankles and looked up at Jess fondly. "Renee, if we can discover what weakens her, our funders can use that information to plan the summer assault on the mountain tribes."
"You've seen how stubborn she is." Caster nudged Renee with her elbow. "Jesstin wouldn't quit first in a fight for love nor gold, I assure you. None of her clan would. But -- if I can chart clearly what breaks her down, not just physically, but emotionally . . . " The doctor's brown eyes glowed with challenge, and Renee realized Caster was beautiful.
Jess coughed, and her body spasmed in its unnatural constriction. Renee saw suffering pass over the chiseled features, but only fleetingly -- a second later, scathing indifference filled her gaze again.
"So this is part of that treatment plan." Caster's gestured at the frame. "It's controversial, I admit that. But unfortunately, degradation and forced sex have been tried and true methods of breaking women since time immemorial. Amazons were no exception."
"Neither were Bosnians," Jess rasped. Her dangerous eyes glittered into the rapt green ones watching her. "Pick your path, Renee."
"Renee, what you're feeling is entirely normal." Caster's voice was gentle, and so were her fingers on Renee's chin, turning her face toward her. "You're anxious, you feel responsible, conflicted. This is strong stuff to take in all in one morning, I know that."
"What's happening to me?" Renee asked her.
"I'm sure you'll be fine." Caster patted Renee's knee. "Jesstin's really had enough for one day, anyway." She got up gracefully, held out her hand to Renee, and lifted her effortlessly to her feet. "I do want her to orgasm, however, before we take her down. Jesstin holds out as long as she possibly can -- obstinance, again. Are you all right, hon? Your skin is clammy."
Renee followed Caster's white coat until she stood in front of the looming wooden frame. Jess's piercing blue gaze now fell straight down on her uplifted face.
"I do think it would be marvelous if you were the one to push her over." Caster smiled down at the blonde head at her shoulder. "The two of you are so good together, visually. It's an empty ascetic, but I do film these sessions. Would you, Renee? I'm sure you can think of a good method. Would it be too difficult, this first morning?"
Renee's mind was filled with sparkling fog, and nothing was too difficult. She shook her head and stepped forward, her green eyes pinned wonderingly on Jess's sweating face. Caster stepped quietly to the video camera, switched it on, and watched them both, intensely curious.
I'm in trouble, Jess thought. She cursed herself again for not resisting the fantasies that came to her lately, when she couldn't sleep. This young blonde woman, so intelligent and brainwashed and endearing, and probably doomed, touched Jess. She couldn't help that now. What she hoped she could control was the heat rising inside her, generated by the girl's avid stare. The rational part of Jess realized that Renee was in some kind of trouble, too -- her pupils were enormous, almost covering the emerald irises.
"You're drugged," Jess rasped. The heavy links of the chain collar around her neck were digging bruises over her collarbones with every breath.
"What did you mean," Renee said, "about choosing my path?"
"Renee, you're drugged," Jess snapped, and coughed again. Useless, she thought.
The green eyes trailed over Jess's body. The strain of the suspension outlined the dark woman's muscles in sharp relief, and the bronzed planes of her torso gleamed with sweat. Renee looked at the ugly bruise on the ladder rungs of Jess's right side, and the raw redness of the wound capping her powerful shoulder.
The image of the bound woman above her was like a painting by some dark master, one that would hang only in secret, hidden galleries. Renee felt a small muscle in her vulva relax, and she pressed her muscled thighs together carefully.
Jess's sunburned breasts heaved as she struggled again against the ropes, gasping at the pain in her side. She had no more patience with the coyness of stoicism; if she needed to yell or scream, she did it, and saved her strength for survival. She winced as salt from the sweat coating her breasts seeped into a bleeding welt, and stung there like fire.
Renee's mesmerized gaze lowered to the juncture between Jess's achingly spread thighs.
"Forgive me, Jess," Renee said softly. "Caster, move the chain."
"Of course, just a second." Caster slid the small knob on the camera, zooming in for a tight image of the prisoner's exposed cunt. Then she went quickly behind the frame, and wound one arm around it to grasp the length of chain, just above the soft pubic hair. Caster glanced at the monitor. "Oh, that is nice. Enjoy yourself, Jesstin."
The doctor clenched the chain and tugged, jerking the heavy link out from between her pressed pussylips. Jess grunted, and filled again with the scalding rage that kept all other emotion at bay. She had to grunt again, as her freed clitoris began to swell and pulse.
"This is good footage, Renee." Caster admired the twitching clit captured on the monitor. "I especially like my fingers in there, holding the chain just out of Jesstin's cleft. The clitoris is quite enlarged, this shouldn't take long."
Jess had lived among women long enough to know what she was seeing when she looked down at Renee -- the young woman was deeply aroused. A small thrill of fear made it through Jess's rage.
"Ren, don't do this."
An alien joy ran through Renee's blood. She slipped off her lab coat, and the heavy fabric fell to the concrete at her feet. In her haste that morning, she had donned a wrinkled peasant blouse. The sagging top still held enough elastic to stretch down over the globe of her right breast. Renee tugged the top of her bra up to expose the creamy swell, capped with an enlarged pink nipple, watching Jess's eyes closely.
"You want me to, I think." Renee stepped closer and took her own breast in her cold hands. "You have for awhile." She guided the turgid nipple between the lips of the suspended woman's snatch and rubbed it in the heated wetness there.
"Nice touch," Caster approved quietly, watching the monitor as the turgid clitoris twitched against the scraping bud.
Renee straightened and watched Jess's eyes fill with tears. The sight sent a small bomb off in her sex, and her thighs tightened spasmodically. She bent forward and nuzzled her full lips between the lightly-furred flaps of Jess's cunt, slithered the tight clit into her mouth, and began to suck.
"Ah, sweet Gaia," Jess whispered, and her head fell back, the tears spilling down the sides of her face to streak down her throat. She used superhuman force on herself to hold her hips still under the relentless, swirling suction. The girls tongue was deliciously cool in her heated wetness.
All went well for awhile, along the expected course.
Renee had never pleasured a woman with her mouth before, but she found she had a certain gift for it. She simply closed her eyes and imagined Jess's tongue in her own folds, and did what came naturally.
Jess's will weakened as the sucking pleasure soared, and she began to undulate in her bonds. Renee had to clench the firm buttocks to keep her cunt pressed open against her working mouth.
But then, all progress stopped. Renee sucked and licked and finally chewed, but Jess maintained a tenuous grip on her control. Her long body trembled on the frame, but otherwise she was still.
"Just like this morning." Caster hissed in disappointment, watching Renee's bowed lips churn with renewed, but futile fervor between the dark woman's legs. "I got her this high, and kept her here, but then she wouldn't budge."
Renee broke off, gasping, her lips and chin wet. Her dazed eyes flashed Jess a look of cheated anger. Then Renee's hand went to her belt, and her expression changed to one of suppressed excitement as she unclipped the stunner.
"Oh, Renee." Caster let out a small laugh. "I underestimated you, you're as headstrong as Jesstin! And probably as reckless -- be careful with that thing. Be sure it's on the lowest setting, at least."
Renee's vulva was soaked and throbbing as she parted Jess's labia carefully with her fingers. Jess closed her eyes, and Renee pressed the stunner's muzzle into her folds, and flicked the switch.
____ *** ____
(End of Part One, Orientation and Therapy. Coming soon: Part Two)
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