Chapter Two: Caged


A/N: Oh my gosh, what an amazing response! 16 reviews, over 10 favourites and over 30 follows. I honestly never expected such a great response. Thanks so much! Here's the next chapter - please let me know what you think. I really hope you enjoy it as much as the first!

Aurelie has one phrase in French, but I didn't translate because Khan's response makes it obvious what she was saying.


Aurelie had only ventured outside France three times in her life. The first time, she had been only eight years old, when they visited her mother's relatives in England. The climate had been even colder than France, and Aurelie remembered being frowned upon whenever she accidentally slipped into French. English is the language we speak here, dear, Aurelie's grandmother had said coolly over dinner one night.

The second time had been to America. The place had been so very different from France that it had frightened Aurelie. She had been twelve years old. Everything in California had been so big and bright and modern. In France, especially Paris, their buildings were often centuries old. But California was new and shiny and plastic. Aurelie hadn't been sure whether she'd liked it or not.

This was the third time. Into the Vatican, a place she had never thought she would visit. It was a holy place with a population of lower than 1,000. It was the home of the Pope – well, it had been. Aurelie didn't know where the Pope was now, and she shuddered to think about it. It was better to try and take her mind off such issues and focus on what was happening now.

Aurelie glanced around the room she had been hurriedly pressed into. The view was magnificent, the furniture divine. The bed was bigger than anything Aurelie had ever slept in. It sent shivers down her spine. All of this was bigger than her. She was just a young woman who had opened her mouth at the wrong time and found herself whisked away to the Vatican for reasons that were beyond her.

Her hands caressed the silk sheets. She could never get rid of the constant question: why had Khan brought her here? Had she been escorted to this luxurious room for some sort of torment, a taste of wonder before she was subject to Khan's wrath? Immediately her thoughts wandered to Clemence. She dearly hoped that her sister hadn't been harmed because of her. But no, Aurelie thought bitterly, she had spoken and not thought of the repercussions. As usual.

"Is the room to your liking?"

That baritone voice made Aurelie leap to her feet as if she'd heard a gunshot. Khan stood in the doorway observing her, as cool and elegant as ever. She felt unsophisticated beside him, a mere college student studying law. She was nothing compared to all of this, compared to him. He was an Augment, and she just another of nearly seven billion humans that he could crush. The thought made her throat constrict. Was he going to kill her now?

"Why did you bring me here?" Aurelie inquired, her voice rising angrily despite her attempts to remain impassive in his presence. "Si vous avez nui à ma soeur..."

"Your sister has not been harmed, that I promise you." Khan looked amused, his lips curving upwards into a smile, but his eyes were always calculating, always observing. Aurelie felt as though he could see right through her, flesh and bone alike. She was taken aback by his comprehension of her words, as she had not thought that Khan spoke or understood French. She had not done it deliberately. It was yet another foolish slip of the tongue.

"You didn't answer my first question," Aurelie pointed out, trying to sound authoritative. It was to no avail. They both knew who was in control of the situation, and it most certainly was not her. Her small hands curled into ready fists as Khan crossed the room towards her, the sound of his boots connecting with the stone floor resonating.

"How old are you?" Khan inquired, stopping right before her. Aurelie swallowed hard, but lifted her chin to meet his gaze.

"Twenty-one, not that I can see how it matters."

"It matters because you know little of the world." Khan watched her critically, eyes boring into her very soul, or so it seemed. "You know nothing of the wars that have devastated it, or the fact that humanity itself is like a beast. Surely you know something of animals. There are several options when concerning a wild one. What would you do with it?"

"I…" Aurelie was quite startled by the question. Whatever she had been expecting from Khan, it wasn't that. "You would put it down. Or perhaps tame it."

Khan's lips curved upwards. "Ah, I think taming is the more humane option here. Mine are a savage people, but our aim is not to destroy, merely to control."

Aurelie's brown eyes narrowed. If there was anything she understood about how humanity functioned, it was that they didn't like to be controlled. She couldn't see how things would change under the tyranny of Augments like Khan. He noted her defiant expression with a tolerant smile.

"I forget. I haven't asked your name. How rude of me."

"Aurelie Beaumont," she replied, spitting the words out like they were poisonous. It almost felt to her that telling him her name was giving him some sort of unspoken, unknown power.

"You must know that I am Khan Noonien Singh." He reached out and she refrained from flinching as he tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. "Your name means 'golden'. How appropriate."

Aurelie chose not to respond to the comment. What sort of game was this Augment playing? Was it possible that he was toying with her? She tossed her hair over her shoulder and stepped back, away from his cold fingers.

"Why did you bring me here, if not to torture or kill me?"

"My dear, do you take me for a monster?" Khan chuckled at her ferocity, folding his arms over his powerful chest. Aurelie wanted to respond with 'yes', but she knew that would be childish to assume. She knew of Khan, she did not know him personally. Yet it was still so very frightening to be here in his company.

"I don't pretend to know what you are," Aurelie replied, beginning to pace. She knew he would see her agitation, but she didn't care. The vast room was already starting to feel like a prison. "I want to see Clemence."

"I did not bring her." Khan's words were blunt. He clearly saw no need for beating around the bush. "I brought you, because you intrigue me. Besides, don't all rulers need something to amuse themselves?"

Aurelie suddenly felt cold, like the winds of winter itself had washed over her skin. She understood all too well what Khan was saying. No attempt to keep her calm could be successful. She whirled on him, brown eyes flashing with anger as her nails stung their way beneath the skin of her palms.

"How dare you…"

Khan observed her with one eyebrow coolly lifted as he realised why his prisoner had suddenly become so worked up. A mocking laugh breezed past his lips.

"I presume you thought I meant that you were solely for sexual pleasure. Do you think me that base a man, Aurelie? I am not human; I do not rely solely on my instincts. You are entertainment, certainly. Perhaps we will reach that point in the future, since it is clearly on your mind."

Aurelie dearly wanted to hit him. It was on her mind because, what else would she have thought he meant? She had often heard the phrase 'spoils of war', where women were taken as pleasure slaves by the victors. She couldn't help that she had assumed that was why Khan had captured her. Her cheeks flushed crimson with indignation and she clenched her jaw, but didn't give him the satisfaction of a retaliation.

"Then what will you use me for?"

"I enjoy your fire," Khan admitted, striding over to the dressing table and picking up a bottle of red wine that Aurelie had not even realised was there. She watched in complete bafflement as he took out two glasses from a cabinet. She had expected to be tortured and maimed, and instead she was being poured expensive red wine in an extravagant room in the Vatican.

"I expect you want to snuff it out." Aurelie inspected the glass of wine Khan offered her, sloshing the thick red liquid around. She knew it was foolish to think he might have poisoned her – he could have killed her already if he wanted her dead – but she was cautious nonetheless.

"Quite the contrary. I wish to fan those flames and see what your inferno can do."

Khan took a sip of his own wine, gazing out the window. Aurelie wondered whether she was capable of killing him. It wouldn't take much. The right place, the right time. Tackle him over the balcony. Stab him with a shard of porcelain from a smashed vase. Yet the notion seemed ridiculous even as it came to her. Shaking away such thoughts, Aurelie took a sip of her own wine. It was strong on her tongue and she winced slightly.

"There are many ways you can occupy yourself," Khan continued, tilting his head back and finishing off the wine. "You will not be allowed out of St Peter's Basilica, but I am sure you will find there is plenty to do here. I have spent many months preparing it for my arrival."

Aurelie felt slightly sick. They were in St Peter's Basilica itself? She took another sip of wine to strength herself. It would be no good acting the giddy fool now. She had to be strong if she ever wanted to see her family again.

"When are you going to let me go?" she asked, trying not to sound as though she already felt defeated.

Khan observed her curiously. Those eyes of his were so cold, so judgmental. Would she see any mercy from him? He had let her live, but perhaps remaining in the Vatican as his source of amusement would be worse than dying. What about the others of his kind? She shuddered to even think of them. Across the globe, Augments were beginning to take control. Khan was the most notorious, yet Aurelie still doubted she wanted to meet another.

"When I see fit," Khan replied, setting down his glass and sweeping out of her room without so much as a backwards glance.

Feeling suddenly weak at the knees, Aurelie set her own glass down and collapsed onto her bed. It was soft underneath her back, but she found it was like a cage with bars. She wasn't allowed out. She would always be under close supervision. She felt like screaming. Why her? Why was Khan so fascinated by her defiance? Had no one else spoken up against him? The thought was incredible to Aurelie.

Pushing herself to her feet, Aurelie crossed over to the window and considered throwing herself off the balcony. No, she was not quite that dramatic. Her situation was not a pleasant one, but at least she was being treated civilly. There were others that Khan was likely not treating so kindly. She released a breath she didn't even know she had been holding.

Aurelie had a chance while she was here. If she could gain Khan's trust, if she made him believe that she could become utterly loyal, then perhaps she could initiate a takeover. Yet she didn't believe Khan to be stupid for an instant. Would he truly fall for that ploy? She gripped the curtains tightly as she tugged them closed. She would just have to wait and see.