Chapter 79: Shahin
But if you could give me
Just one love, just one life
Just one chance to believe in mine
Just one love, just one life
You'd bleed for me

She was clean, tidy, and naked – the creature had left her one glove, but that just seemed an exercise in futility, so she’d added it to a neat pile of her clothing-remains – and more worried than she cared to admit, even to herself, by the time Emrys seemed conscious again.

“Emrys?” she whispered, hoping it was quiet enough

“Shahin,” he responded hoarsely. His voice was soft and ragged, but he was alive, thank god, and coherent. She swallowed the ball of emotion that threatened to overtake her.

“I love you,” she mouthed. It seemed important to tell him that.

“I know. I love you too.”

“God.” She choked back a hysterical sob. A day ago she’d wanted to break him. Now she just wanted them to both survive intact.

The door swung open, and she had just enough time to find a smile and put it on before their captor walked in. “You learn fast,” he sniggered. His face had lost some of its droop since he’d left, but it was still no less horrible. He patted her on the head like a dog and groped between her legs with a rough claw. “Very good, all clean and tidy. I think I’ll reward you for your obedience and play with the boy instead.”

He lifted her off the bed by her armpits, and dropped her unceremoniously on the floor by the sink. She caught herself with both hands, and barely managed to stifle a complaint at the pain shooting through her wrists and up her arms.

He unchained Emrys for the second time – she couldn’t tell where he got the key from, or where he put it back, since he was still stark naked – and dragged him to the bed by the back of his collar. Emrys scowled but didn’t try to fight him. It wasn’t right. She choked back a whimper of frustration. She’d done everything he asked. She’d taken everything he dished out and even smiled when he came back for more. He shouldn’t be punishing Emrys!

The monster smirked at her. “If you don’t want me to hurt the boy, you could always free him.”

She shook her head. “No.” She looked at the shackled, lacerated, dripping-wet back of her lover and added “I’m sorry.”

“You should be. You’ll give in eventually, you know. The question is, how much will be left of your pretty-boy by the time you do?” Leaving Emrys facedown on the bed, he stalked over to the room’s only other piece of furniture, an ugly steel cabinet. “You’re young, aren’t you?” he added conversationally, his back to them as he opened the cabinet. “Do you know how much damage even a half-breed mutt like you can take?”

“I have some idea,” Emrys replied grudgingly.

Thinking of the scorched charcoal that Taro had been, Shahin had to agree. She said nothing, though, as the beast turned back holding a sharp, gleaming filleting knife. No, no, no… She swallowed it all, fighting to regain the ice. If she cried out, it would be worse.

“Hold still,” the creature told Emrys. He did, though he was clearly tensed as he watched Shahin from the bed. She met his gaze and held it, wishing she could do something, anything, that wouldn’t just make this worse.

The first cut only went through cloth, and Shahin held onto a brief glimmer of hope that perhaps that was all he’d do. The second went deeper, slicing through jeans and into the skin below, blood blossoming over the dark fabric. Emrys gritted his teeth but didn’t cry out, holding Shahin’s gaze.

If he could stay quiet and strong, so could she. She kept watching him, wanting to hold him but not daring to move.

The next cut went down his hip, but rattled against something and stopped short. “What’s this?” The monster reached into the cut pocket, his hand coming back bloody, holding a bottle of pills.

“Just medicine,” Emrys said quietly.

“Medicine, eh?” He brought a handful of the pills to his nose and sniffed them, murmuring over them. “Aah, I see. Painkillers. Are you in pain?” He punctuated the question with a casual stab into the meat of Emrys’ ass.

“I’ll live,” he hissed through clenched teeth.

“Then I guess these are for the girl.” He spilled out four into his hand and dropped the bottle on the floor. “Time to take your medicine, sweetie. Open up”

She eyed the pills uncertainly. It might kill her. If it killed her, what would he do to Emrys? But if she disobeyed, she knew he’d hurt both of them more. She opened her mouth and let him shove the pills down her throat.

Before she could even think about cheeking the pills, or spitting them back up, he pinched her nose shut and covered her lower face with his stinking, blood-sticky hand. “Now be a good girl and swallow.”

There was no way to get air around his grip. She fought with animal panic for a moment, won, just barely, and swallowed the pills down.

“Good little slave.” If he patted her head like that again, she might bite him. For now, she just smiled, waiting for the pills to take effect.

He turned his back on her – if only she were stronger! – and ambled back over to Emrys. “That was productive. Let’s see what else falls out of you.” He picked the knife back up and sliced again. While she could still focus, she watched her beloved’s face and swallowed her protests and her tears. His blood danced around his tattoos and dripped down his bare legs, making its own patterns, its own letters. She wondered what his Mentor, or hers, would read in those patterns.

For the foreseeable future. Was their future going to be limited to this room, this monster, these chains? She couldn’t stop watching, couldn’t bear to watch, didn’t dare look away. If he could lay there and take this without protest, she could watch.

She was swaying by the time the monster stepped back from her lover, clutching her hands in her lap to keep herself from reaching for the patterns dripping in the air. Was there still fire in Emrys’ eyes, or was that just the blood? She didn’t hurt anymore, could barely feel her heels digging into her bare butt or the cold steel of the shackle around her ankle. She couldn’t even feel the cold, which should have worried her, but worry was gone, too.

“You’re looking a little woozy, dear. Maybe you need more medicine?”

No, more medicine wasn’t what she needed. She shook her head no, no, but that seemed to send things flying loose, the whole cabin spinning, and she didn’t even see his hand coming before he grabbed her face and pried her mouth open. “One more pill… two more, that’s a good girl.” He held her mouth closed while she tried to explain to him that swallowing with nothing to drink wasn’t very pleasant.

“Hey,” Emrys began, “sh...”

Shahin never got to hear the end of that thought.

“Shut up, mutt.” Caspian whirled, speaking a rapid torrent of syllables, and a blast of raw force ripped the air in almost visible waves before striking Emrys. His head whiplashed backwards and he fell limp.

Caspian blinked, then stepped up to Emrys’s side, examining him. The sound started as a low chuckle, then rose to disturbing laughter. “Oops.”

“Oops?” she whispered, heedless of potential results. “Oops?”

“Well, he’ll live... oh, why am I lying to you?” He shrugged, dropping Emrys’s arm that he’d been holding up. It flopped to the side, bouncing off the bed with no reaction. “No, he won’t. But I still have you.”

It took a moment for his words to get through to her. He won’t live. “Emrys?” she gulped. He was gone? How could he be gone when she’d barely had a chance to know him? When he hadn’t met his son yet? When she’d Seen his future?

“No,” she whispered, shaking her head, even as grief threatened to overwhelm her. “No, god, not again.”

“Oh, that’s delicious,” Caspian smiled at her. He waited a long moment, watching her, before speaking again. “Of course, I could heal him, enough to save his life. If I wanted to. But while he Belongs to you he’s just in the way now, isn’t he?”

She gulped, trying to understand, although the emotions were trying to wash her out to sea. “If I release him... you’ll save his life? You promise?”

“No, I don’t,” he chuckled darkly. “But you lose him either way.”

“God, god, god…” she swallowed, realizing she was keening. “Emrys,” she whispered, “I release you.”

The world shifted just slightly, the pressurized pop hurting a bit through the fog of her thoughts. Caspian grinned broadly and turned back to Emrys, doing a quick Working.

His grin worried Shahin, back in the place where she still had something like worry. Everything was so blurry and unclear right now, so muzzily warm. But maybe he could help Emrys?

Maybe you should have let him die. Maybe dying is better than what this thing has in store for us. Images of Steve laying in the parking lot, his neck broken and his skin clammy, flashed through her mind. I couldn’t have borne it. But, oh, god, can he? Guilt washed through her, and terror, and complete uncertainty about the future.


Chapter 79b: Shahin
Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before

She woke a moment later, not certain she’d actually fallen asleep. There’d been some fear, right? And some pain. But all she felt now was warm and fuzzy, like she was wrapped in a giant blanket.

The spring in the bed was her first reminder of the world around her, biting unkindly into her hip. Shifting position to relieve the discomfort made her realize how chilly she was – a purely physical cold; the air was chill and she wasn’t wearing enough. She wasn’t wearing anything at all.

She was in the cabin. She blinked, trying to remember more. Emrys, oh, god, was he dead? He’d been dead, hadn’t he? And then she’d…

Emrys, I release you. Oh, no, she’d gotten him killed and then she’d released him. Wait… no, she’d released him in the dim hope that their captor would save his life. She dared open her eyes, blinking around slowly.

Emrys. He was chained to the wall again. Or still – had that whole thing been a nightmare? There were new cuts down his chest, scabbed over, marring his tattoos, new cuts down his legs and… no, while it had been a nightmare, it had been the real sort, the kind she couldn’t wake from.

His bloody chest was rising and falling, though, however slowly. His neck was bare. She choked back a sob – that hadn’t lasted long.

“Emrys,” she whispered softly. Her throat was raw, and her mouth tasted funny as she spoke, like it was filled with cotton. There was no response, of course. He was alive, though. That was what mattered, wasn’t it? She did what she had to do to save him.

Then another voice cut the air, and she jumped slightly, startled. Caspian. She hadn’t noticed him when she awoke, but of course he wouldn’t have left them alone. The actual words were lost on her; everything seemed so foggy. Maybe if she concentrated...

“I see you’re awake,” the voice said.

“Yes?” she answered carefully. She was fairly certain she was awake. There was cold, and a little pain, which seemed to suggest wakefulness.

“Your Emrys will live, for now. At my pleasure. You wouldn’t displease me, would you?”

She shook her head no and choked on despair and humiliation. No, she wouldn’t displease this monster, not if obeying would keep her Emrys safe. Her Emrys, even if he no longer Belonged to her.

“And you’re mine now, aren’t you, my little pet?” His voice was soft, sweet, like honey pouring over her brain. “Say that you’re mine.” Another hand fell to her shoulder, sliding over her body.

She shuddered, his touch disgusting her. He had… her brain shied away from the memories, but she knew they’d been bad. And then Emrys. So much blood. “No,” she whispered. That was why he’d wanted her to release Emrys. That was why he’d tortured them. “No.”

“I’ll take you, whether you would be mine or not.” His hands shifted to her thighs, pushing at them, and he loomed over her, grinning. “It’d be much nicer for you if you were mine.”

“No,” she demurred. She knew what Owning felt like. She wouldn’t give him that part of herself. She’d never give anyone but Emrys that part of her.

“You will. Take your medicine.” Then his hands were on her face again, and he was cramming another pill down her throat, making her swallow it. His legs were heavy atop hers, between hers. She couldn’t resist either intrusion, and tears streaked silently down her cheeks as her mind retreated again.


She woke a while later, not sure if she’d actually fallen asleep. There’d been some fear, and some pain, she thought, and some violation that was beginning to feel like a routine: wake up, brush your teeth, and then the monster…

…her mind shied away from it, but the pain and dampness between her legs could not be denied. Dampness. He’d punish her if she didn’t clean herself up. He’d punish Emrys if she didn’t clean herself up.

She stood, finding her ankles weak and barely capable of holding her up, but she could do this. She could stand tall, even if she had to lean on the bed to do so. She could walk to the sink.

Barely, apparently. Hadn’t it been so much closer last time? When had that been? Hours ago? Days? Weeks? She couldn’t remember. Couldn’t think clearly, about anything.


She had to get clean. She turned the water on, found the washcloth. It was soft; had it been this soft before? Everything felt soft, like the edges of the world had been rounded off. It wasn’t a bad feeling, but she recalled that she had been stronger, once. She’d been harder, and colder, and the ice had kept her safe.

She washed herself, surprised at the blood she found. She couldn’t be bleeding that much just from a few cuts, could she?

Oh, god, the baby. Our son. Panic clawed its way through the muzziness for just a moment. Our son. Our. Emrys. She leaned heavily on the sink and tried to force her vision to focus, herself to focus.

Then he was at her side again. Caspian, the monster. The sweet voice seemed just a bit harsher, as if in all the world he was the only thing that hadn’t softened.

“Good girl. Clean yourself up. Then get back on the bed where you belong. You belong to me.”

She was a good girl. She’d done what he told her to. She belonged… “No.” It was the tiniest shard of ice, but it was enough. “No, I don’t.” She set down the washcloth carefully on the sink and struggled towards the bed. She would be good. She’d protect Emrys.

He clicked his tongue, a nasty little sound, and pushed her down on the bed. Before she could focus again her mouth was being pulled open, something shoved inside. A pill. He forced her mouth closed and she swallowed it.

Some surviving part of her brain screamed in protest, and she tried to gag up the pill. No more. How many had he given her? How long had she been there? Had they been there? She tried to sit up, to catch a glimpse of Emrys.

A heavy hand on her chest held her down, kept her from moving, groped her. “Without the pills I can barely taste you,” he scowled. “Broken little mutt. We’ll fix all that though.” His other hand covered her mouth even as his legs touched hers again.

No. She tried to protest, to struggle, but there was so little left to protest with, and he was so strong. If she just lay back, maybe he wouldn’t hurt her so much? Maybe he’d let her have a little air if she was just good?

Maybe if she was good enough, he’d let her see Emrys again.


She woke again, not sure if she’d actually fallen asleep. A brief memory of another life brushed through her mind, a dream of some nicer time, softening her spine; a wispy memory of fear and pain jolted through her, making her heart pound.

She’d been trying to sit up, at some point, hadn’t she? It barely seemed worth the effort now, but wasn’t there some reason she should? The bed was so soft and so easy to lay on, and she had no energy to move.

But she had to sit up, to get up. She lurched forward, the whole world twisting around her, and swallowed the bitter taste of vomit.

Vomit is good. It means you’re doing something right. It seemed insane, but the thought was lodged there when everything else had faded. Now, what was she doing? Sitting up. Standing… the concrete floor of the cabin hit her knees and shins hard as it rose up to hit her.

It didn’t hurt as much as she thought it should have. Barely at all, actually. She could feel barely anything at all. The world spun again, and someone was touching her.

“Ah, can’t even clean yourself anymore, can you? Poor little mutt. It’ll all be over soon.” There was a sound in the distance, for a moment, like a waterfall. A soft dampness touched her legs, her thighs. It felt nice to be touched. It felt nice to feel anything at all. Everything was so fuzzy.

“Over…” She wasn’t even sure she’d actually said it, but it sounded ominous. It couldn’t be over yet, they’d only just started. “Eighteen years.” But that baby was dead, wasn’t he? Would Regine make her start all over from scratch? And how could she, when Emrys… what was wrong with Emrys? Something… She blinked, wishing she could focus on anything at all.

“And your new life can begin. You’re mine now.”

She was moving through the air; was she flying? Could she fly? No, there were hands under her, strong hands, setting her down now on something softer than the floor.

“Say that you’re mine.”

Say you belong to me.

“For the next week,” she began. Wait. “No. I did that already.”

“You are mine, little mutt. I’ll show you again.”

Soft hands were on her; flesh pressed against her. It was warm and vaguely pleasant. She had a nagging sensation that this wasn’t okay, was wrong somehow, the same way the words he wanted her to say weren’t quite right. She couldn’t place it, couldn’t think.

“No…” That was right, wasn’t it? “No.” Why not? Why was it wrong? “It’s your turn, isn’t it?”

“No, it’s not. Take your medicine.” A small pill fell into her mouth, and she swallowed it reflexively. Medicine was good, wasn’t it?

“Thank you,” she murmured. Even that felt wrong, but there didn’t seem to be any right, anymore.

“No,” he said, hands touching her legs again. “You thank me with your body. You belong to me.”

“No,” she echoed, and she was gone again.


Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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