She slowly woke, struggling up through the layers of consciousness. She could feel a hard floor below her, her wrists and ankles were bound. She could hear voices. Harsh, mean, laughing, cruel voices — she didn't want to see the faces these voices belonged to, they filled her with fear. A strange coppery smell assaulted her nostrils. Curiosity overrode her fear and she opened her eyes.
The scene turned her insides to ice.
A man was sitting in front of her, also bound wrist and ankle, but propped up against a post, with his hands behind him. He was clad only in briefs, startlingly white against his tanned skin, the muscles in his chest, shoulders and stomach writhing beneath the skin as he fought to escape.
In other circumstances her reaction would've been anything but icy. This man was so beautiful — shaggy brown hair, blue-green eyes, obviously very tall and obviously very fit.
The ice was caused by the two other figures looming over him - one male, one female. The man was holding Adonis's head, forcing his mouth open, while the woman poured blood into it. The blood was coming straight from a vicious cut on her wrist. He tried to close his mouth against the flow, twisting his face and trying to spit out what was already there. Blood ran down his chin and chest. He grunted and writhed, but could not escape.
She watched, horrified, as the male clamped Adonis's mouth closed and, with his other hand, pinched off his nostrils.
"Drink or drown: it's your choice, Sam Wilson."
For an interminable time it looked like he would choose to drown. His face twitched and strained against the hands holding him fast. The veins stood out in his neck, a small amount of blood seeped from his mouth. His chest heaved and his arms and shoulders strained against the cords binding him. He jerked his head backwards and forwards, side to side, desperately trying to remove the hands, his eyes widening as his movements became more frantic.
The man stood impassively, easily holding his mouth and nostrils closed. The female had one hand clasped around the cut wrist, blood still oozing between her fingers, a hard smile playing on her face as she watched the man named Sam in his torment.
Then he convulsed and swallowed, his eyes registering despair and defeat. The hands were removed from his face and he choked and coughed, dragging fresh air into his tortured lungs, spitting some of the blood out and down his chest.
Rather than reviving him, the release seemed to weaken Sam. His face went pale and his eyes rolled in his head. Then his head fell forward on his chest.
The female's smile broadened as she turned to the woman on the floor, grabbing her face and pulling her closer.
"He'll need looking after," she hissed. "That's your job."
The male approached, a large knife in hand. He quickly slashed the cords binding the woman's wrists and ankles.
The woman pulled herself to a sitting position, scooting backwards into a corner, away from these two strange, malevolent beings — she couldn't quite think of them as people - her eyes never leaving the still form of Sam. "What did you do to him?"
The female's grin arched higher and her eyes glittered, almost glowing in the half light.
"Nothing he won't thank us for," said the male, also smiling. "Eventually."
A look passed between them and they laughed, leaving the room and closing and bolting the door.
She sat, mesmerised, staring at the bloodied man before her. What had they done to provoke that reaction? Why the blood, any liquid would have done, wouldn't it? She kept replaying the scene in her head. But it was like a jigsaw with pieces missing.
Shaking her head, she pushed the memory aside. Sam obviously needed help. His chest was still coated with gore. Blood was still dripping from his chin. His breathing was laboured. His arms and legs still bound.
Cautiously she moved to his side. She could see his hair plastered to his forehead and into his eyes by sweat. His face was wet with it, as were his arms and torso. Well, the bits that weren't already covered in blood. Tentatively she reached forward and gently brushed the hair from his eyes.
He moaned, twitching at her touch, his skin burning beneath her fingers. "He'll need looking after" blistered through her mind.
Frantically scanning the room, she noticed for the first time there was a sink in one far corner. She ran to it, "Let the taps work, please let the taps work". Water gushed freely as she spun the tap open. "Thank you, thankyou thankyouthankyou". She wasn't even aware she had spoken aloud.
There was no cloth, no container, no sink plug. She stood, again scanning the room for anything useful. There was nothing. Just Sam.
She looked down at herself. The T-shirt and little denim skirt were no help. She could use her sneakers as small buckets, except those bastards had taken them. She looked at the sink and then to Sam. The sweat was now running down his flushed face and he was muttering feverishly.
Dammit, no time for modesty. She whipped off her T-shirt and held it under the water. Once it was sodden she returned to Sam's side and gently wiped his face with it.
He shuddered but pressed his face towards the cooling cloth. She cleaned his face and cooled his forehead, then rinsed the cloth and returned to wipe away the gore and sweat from his chest, stopping several times to admire how the toned muscles glistened beneath a thin sheen of water, and to rinse out the cloth.
Then she turned her attention to his legs and arms. They also were blood flecked and sheened with sweat. He was worrying at his bonds, tugging his arms, clenching and unclenching his fists and twisting his feet. She wanted to untie him, so he could rest more comfortably. But the complexity of the knots defeated her attempts, and she had nothing to cut through the ropes.
Backwards and forwards she went to the sink many times; rinsing and cooling; wiping and soothing. Gradually she noticed her patient becoming less agitated, his breathing more relaxed. She began to relax as well, allowed more time away from his side on her trips to the sink. More time to just admire the strong shoulders, the long legs, the big hands and feet. It would be so nice to snuggle into that chest and feel those arms around her, the hands caressing her hair...
Shaking her head free from the daydream, she returned to her task. God, she knew nothing about him. And she was being held captive by some mighty strange people. Her hands abruptly stopped squeezing the cloth as a horrible thought occurred to her. They knew his name. Did that mean he was one of them?
No, he couldn't be. He'd been fighting them too hard. He was obviously repulsed by them. And there was something hideous about them. Sam was definitely not hideous.
She returned to again mop his forehead and smooth his unruly hair from his face. At her touch his eyes fluttered open and he stared straight at her. Then a small smile formed on his lips.
"Thank you," he said weakly, leaning his head against the post and closing his eyes again. "You should go."
Go? He was obviously still feverish. "I can't go. I'm locked in here with you. Besides, you still don't look so hot."
Now that was the understatement of the year — hot? He was positively smokin'! If he wasn't obviously so ill ... OK, time to get the mind back on the job. He is sick, remember?
He smiled again, a beautiful light-up-your-life smile that somehow failed to reach his eyes and made him looked infinitely sad. "Of course you're locked in. They wouldn't have it any other way." The smile died and he closed his eyes again. "At least I'm tied up."
She rocked back on her heels and studied him, trying to decide what he could possibly mean. Was it the fever talking? He seemed lucid enough. "They" presumably meant the couple of freaks she'd seen before. What the heck were they about? And why was he relieved to be bound? Her reverie was cut short as he suddenly gagged and coughed, almost choking. The residue of blood in his mouth was thick and he was having trouble swallowing.
She rushed to the sink, cupping her hands together under the flow of water, quickly returning to his side, pouring the precious liquid into his mouth. He gratefully gulped at it and swallowed.
He screamed as the water reached his stomach and jack-knifed against the cramping pain, almost pulling his arms from their sockets as the bindings around his wrists pulled him up short, his knees pulled up to his chest. He hung there, panting and groaning, his face screwed up, eyes tightly shut.
"Sam? God. Sam, what is it?" She hovered, panicked, unsure what to do but unable to stop watching him.
The groaning eased, the panting gradually evened out and Sam experimentally relaxed, wary of a new outbreak of pain. He shuddered as he leaned his head back against the pole again, opening his eyes to look warily at her. "How do you know my name?"
"What? Oh, they said it before. The two ... people that were here before. With the blood. What the hell just happened? Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. It was just a cramp." Sam studied her closely. Then he smiled again, and this time the smile did reach his eyes. She felt something flip in her chest and she shivered just a little. He was gorgeous when he smiled.
He was obviously feeling better now, as if the cramp had released more energy in him. The colour in his face was even and he was sitting strongly, not using the post for support, just comfort. He was testing the strength of the bonds, worrying the wrist ropes against the pole behind his back. His face was more animated and his eyes fairly danced with delight. "What happened to your shirt?"
.... There is more of this story ...