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Rise

Chapter Text

In my field of paper flowers
And candy clouds of lullaby (Flowers)
I lie inside myself for hours
And watch my purple sky fly over me (Flowers)

Don't say I'm out of touch
With this rampant chaos, your reality
I know well what lies beyond my sleeping refuge
The nightmare

I build my own world to escape

- Evanescence, Imaginary

----

44 days I have been held here

I will never see the light of day
Please save me from reckless, violent hearts
Bodies rest in graves of cold concrete

- Mr Kitty, 44 Days


My hands are bound for the trip; tightly behind my back. Damien sits across from me in the limo, looking out the window as we move away from everything I hold dear; Craig, Tricia -

"Ike," I whisper, hanging my head and crying quietly.

I'd been given a choice and I decided to leave him behind, because I couldn't imagine bringing him back to Damien's; it was simply too cruel a prospect.

Ike had cried for me as I'd been dragged away, reaching for me as Tricia hugged him from behind, her face broken from pain as well.

"I told you he could've stayed with you," Damien murmurs. "I honored your decision."

Hanging my head, I can't speak for a moment because I'm sobbing too hard. "I didn't want him to see me like this... I'd never be able to explain, it would only hurt him."

Damien hums, tapping a finger over and over on the armrest. "And how do you think you'd appear to him, Kyle? What do you think he'd see when looking at you now?"

Looking up, he's out of focus for a moment because of the tears in my eyes but I blink them away.

"He'd see a prisoner," I say faintly. "He'd see a brother who's been damned by his dynamic and sold like cattle to a monster. He'd see someone who's destined to be bred and controlled for the rest of his life."

Dropping my eyes, I shut them tightly. "He wouldn't see me anymore... he'd only see what you've turned me into."

There's quiet while I sob, until Damien gently says, "I wouldn't have let him come to harm in my household, Kyle. Yes, I would've kept you two separated until we'd handled our personal affairs but he would've been looked after; taken care of. I assure you."

"I don't want you to take care of him!" I yell, staring at him with hate and fear and rage, so much rage. It's burning me on the inside. "I don't want you anywhere near him! He doesn't deserve to be exposed to someone as disgusting as you!"

He nods, looking away again. His face relaxes into a mask that's utterly inscrutable, and I don't care enough to try and guess at what's beneath his surface. Instead I cry, shifting my arms but my wrists are too tightly bound; so much that I think I can feel blood slipping down my hands.

I still try to get free, though; struggling despite the pain it causes. 

Seeing the mansion again fills me with stark terror, like a monster's jaws are slowly opening and I'm willingly walking into them to perpetuate my own consumption. I start to shake even before my door is opened, and I resist with everything I have as Damien drags me from the car, frantic like an animal; rearing back and biting viciously at him.

I manage to catch his arm and sink my teeth in, biting deep before he slaps me so hard across the face that my ears ring. Expressionless, he rears back to slap me again, over and over until I can barely see straight. Through my daze, I can feel him dragging me into the foyer and throwing me onto the floor, where I curl on my side and hide my face, shivering.

"Take him and see that he's cleaned and dressed in something proper," he tells someone, but I refuse to look up; my mouth metallic with blood; tears and mucous mixing and becoming viscous on my face.

"Yes, master," a soft voice replies, making me clench tighter.

Bebe.

I'm more cooperative with her but I'm still very hard to lead when she has me rise from the floor, putting an arm around me while guiding me up the stairs.

"Please," I whisper. "Please don't make me go back up there...I can't... I'll do anything..."

"Shhh," she hushes me, her face carefully blank.

I'm expecting her to lead me back to my room so when she doesn't I balk, digging my heels in when she turns down an unfamiliar passage, and Damien's smell becomes even stronger, choking me.

"No, don't take me to his room. No! No!" Twisting, I fight, nearly falling but she hauls me back up.

"I don't have a choice," she snaps. "Now stop acting like a child!"

"But you do have a choice, you do! All of you!" I yell, slackening. "And you know it!"

"Kyle," she sighs. "Please, this isn't easy for me... you have to understand that."

Dissolving into sobs, I can't answer; moving when she moves me but feeling so much weight in my heart and chest that I can hardly keep my feet. We're in a dark hall that seems to go on forever until she stops at a set of mammoth double doors.

"Let's just get through this," she mutters, throwing the door wide and I'm drawn through, head down. Damien's smell is so strong in here that it's making me nauseated and weak, but most of all is the terrible sense of what's growing in me, the warmth; the terrible aching fire wrapping itself around my bones.

"I don't have a lot of time," I plead. "My Heat is coming, I can feel it, and you know what Damien wants when it happens... he's going to force me to have his child. You need to help me escape -"

Voice thick, Bebe comes around and places her hands on my shoulders. Her eyes are red, her lips tight. "Listen to me, please. The Master will find you wherever you go... you could run to the ends of the earth and he'd still find you. You'd always be running and when you weren't you'd be looking over your shoulder. Kyle, you need to give in! You're lucky he's letting me care for you at all because he wanted to choose someone else, someone who'd have no problem hurting you to make you obey - just let me help you in the way that I can; the way I'm allowed."

"I'd run forever if it meant getting away from him," I snarl, fighting my restraints and biting back a whimper when they cut deeper. Sinking to my knees I'm almost blind with grief and fury. "Craig...I want to be with him...I don't want to be here!"

Quietly, she slips behind me and checks my wrists, sucking a breath between her teeth. "These are going to get infected if I don't get them cleaned up."

"As soon as you remove the ropes I'm running for the door," I hiss.

"It's locked," she replies simply. "And there are guards stationed outside. I'm not even sure if he'll let you go to the garden anymore." Letting out a frustrated sound she begins to untie me. "I can't believe you tried to run away... fool, you're a fool. What were you thinking?!"

"If you were in my position you would've done the same thing, don't say you wouldn't."

It's with some effort that my bonds are untied, and just like I promised I rise and run to the door, fighting with the knob but finding it locked, just like she'd told me, but I still try. My sweaty hands yank on the knob, beat on the wood, frantic and screaming the whole time. Like a feral creature I'm mindless and focused on my terror and need to escape, forgetting everything else.

Finally I reach my limit, though, my hands throbbing from my efforts; wrists bleeding thickly from being tied, and I turn to look at Bebe with wide animal eyes; cornered.

Trapped. I'm completely, hopelessly trapped. It's terrifying, this idea, and it's like I'm sinking underwater where I can't catch my breath; like I'm suffocating.

She can't look me in the eyes when she approaches now, taking my arm and helping me to my feet. "At the very least we need to get you bathed and dressed. Hurry, the master won't be happy if he comes to check and you aren't ready."

"I don't care," I say, pulling but my strength is failing me now. "I hate him. I hate anyone who stands by and watches him do what he's doing and doesn't stop it... they're just as guilty as he is, if not worse."

I can tell I've wounded her because I can feel a new tension in her bearing, but she doesn't respond.

Before too long, I'm stripped of the sweater and dress that Tricia had given me, and I grope to keep the garments because they have Craig's scent on them.

"Don't, just let me keep them," I beg. "Just so I still have a piece of him, anything."

"They have to be burned," she says, and the pain is in her voice. "I'm sorry."

I'm crying again and becoming slack when I'm led to the full, shimmering tub, and when I step in I nearly scream at how hot the water is, like it'll peel the skin from me.

"He says you need to be cleaned as if you were never gone, like you were never touched by anyone else," she murmurs, imploring me to sit. I'm so immobilized by the pain that I sink, gasping and clawing at the slick porcelain.

I'm then scrubbed so roughly that I can't help but scream the entire time, fighting the brush she uses, the harsh bristles feeling like they're tearing me open. I'm held in place and I can see my blood, pink in the water, and I finally sink into a place in my head where the pain recedes but is always on the edge of my consciousness; looming like a faceless presence.

Exhaustion falls on me near the end, and I can barely stay upright when I'm helped from the bath and dried, skin aching -

I ache all over. Everywhere I've been touched hurts, but the pain in my heart is what makes every single step a trial.

It's like sliding back into the past as I'm prepared the way I used to be... rubbed with lotion and powdered; dressed in silk that's like a soft breath on my skin; hair dried and arranged the way Damien likes it; a soft white ribbon tying my curls back.

By the end I'm staring into space like I've simply disappeared, and when Bebe hugs me I can barely acknowledge she's there, only waking up when she's gone and the door is slowly opening -

Damien's scent assaults me before I see his face, and I'm moving away quickly; sliding off the huge, ornate bed with the blood red coverlet. Looking up,  I see that it has no canopy but has thick, solid posts of dark wood, the headboard intricately carved with cherubs who appear to be caught in righteous agony.

A chill travels up my spine as more of the room comes into focus. I'd been drifting and not paying attention, but I'm feeling sharper now that Damien is close again, and i can see that his chambers are the most involved of any room in the mansion; cavernous and dark, the walls lined with oil paintings of lurid religious scenes.

The fireplace almost takes up an entire wall, the mantle held up with large columns, and over top, high on the wall, is a portrait of a beautiful young woman with large green eyes. Her hands are folded in her lap and she's wearing a sumptuous white gown that bares her shoulders. Her long dark hair is the same shade of pitch black as Damien's; shiny and up in a bun to reveal a slender, pale neck.

The firelight crackles beneath this portrait, throwing shadows and filling the room with almost stifling warmth, but that could just be Damien's proximity to me... every step closer he takes makes it feel like my throat is closing up.

"Stay away," I say lowly. "Don't come near me."

"I won't touch you," he says, approaching more slowly now, almost like he's afraid to startle me. His eyes sweep over me, glinting. "You look lovely. Don't you feel better after your bath?"

"She scrubbed my skin until it bled," I reply, my voice breaking. I hug myself tightly. "She took away my clothes... she said you're going to have them burned."

"I am, yes," Damien relies, unbuttoning the top button of his shirt to reveal his throat. He also unbuttons his sleeves so he can roll them up. "Darling, those garments didn't suit you. They were beneath you."

"You don't give a damn about that," I growl, baring my teeth. "You wanted them gone because they smelled like Craig, which is exactly why I wanted to keep them!"

He mulls this over before nodding. "That's partially true."

He's so calm, eerily so, which only inflates my fury. "I've been with him, many times, and I loved it...I loved every second he touched me, every moment he made love to me. I slept beside him, did everything with him... we love each other completely, and loving him only reminds me of how much I hate you, you son of a bitch. I hate you more than I can even put into words... you make me sick, you make my skin crawl. If I could I'd tear out your heart and force it down your throat; anything, anything, to make you feel an ounce of the agony you've put me through!"

Breathing heavily, I stare at him but he's impassive, still moving around and seemingly making himself comfortable. Overwhelmed with ire and loathing, i pick up a heavy statue of an elk and hurl it at him, deeply dismayed when he moves out of the way. It shatters on the hardwood floor into a million pieces.

I pick up another object - a bulky vase - and prepare to launch it at him, but he holds up a hand. "Throw one more thing and I'll make sure you regret it. Don't force my hand."

I throw it anyway, hardly caring about threats. Why should I care about anything anymore? I've been ripped away from everything I love; everything precious. The only thing that lies ahead is pain and servitude; degradation and despair.

Little does he know that backing me into a corner and leaving me nothing is the worst possible scenario for him, not me. If I have nothing to lose anymore than that means I have no reason to behave.

He dodges this object as well, but only narrowly, and I can see that he's slowly becoming angry; eyes glowing and his jaw set.

"I warned you," he says lowly, reaching into a drawer in his side table. He pulls out a set of silver manacles and I can't help but flinch at the sight of them. Backing up, I look for something to throw when he starts toward me, but there's nothing within reach and I can't take my eyes off of the shackles in his hand.

"Stay still," he tells me, rounding the bed and making me retreat until I hit the wall, hands up to protect myself. "You earned this, you know you did. I had no intention of punishing you tonight...I merely wanted to help you get settled in your new room."

"This is your room," I spit, shaking now, a cold sweat sliding between my shoulder blades. "Not mine. Don't you have a dungeon you can throw me in? I'd prefer it to staying with you!"

"That mouth, how I've missed it," he sighs, reaching to touch my face, possibly my hair, but I lash out and try to bite him again. He pulls away quickly and with almost unnatural swiftness slams me hard against the wall, my head colliding with the wood and making me see stars for a moment. In my daze, I can't put up a fight when he whirls me around, my front pressed to the wall as he pulls my arms behind my back.

"No, stop! Stop!" I shriek, feeling the manacles being locked into place, cold and heavy. I try to pull my arms apart but they can barely move a few inches.

He's breathing deeply next to my ear as he presses his body weight against my back, hand sliding up my hip. I scream when he kisses my neck softly.

"Calm," he murmurs, biting my nape - only a little but enough to steal my breath. "Keep fighting and I'll do it right now, Kyle. Do you want to see if I'm kidding?"

I frantically shake my head.

"Good, now are you going to behave?"

"Only enough to get by," I snarl. "But I'm not calling you master...I refuse."

"As you wish." He pulls away and leaves me against the wall, still shackled but able to breathe a little easier with his presence gone. I turn, and I can see that he's going back to settling in, tossing aside things he's pulled from his pockets.

"I believe we'll take our supper in here tonight. What do you think, love?" He glances at me.

"If i have to eat with you than I'm not eating."

"Suit yourself."

I blink. He's being so calm, save for our last little altercation. It's making me even more uneasy than I'd normally be when confronted with him. Pushing from the wall with my shoulder, I tiptoe along the perimeter of the room, always keeping him in sight. He doesn't look at me, choosing instead to take up a book he'd had on the nightstand. He proceeds to take a seat on a large couch before the fire, crossing his legs.

"You may join me if you'd like," he calls. "I'll even start the book over and read to you. Would you enjoy that?"

Shrinking away, I say nothing. He has to know he's making me even more nervous by not retaliating the way he normally would.

That must be his angle. Lull me into a false sense of security and then lash out; draw me in close and then snare me like an insect in a spider's web. I stay quiet, watching. Evening is already falling outside and the draperies over the windows are heavy and let in very little light. The room is bathed in shadow and I sink into it, backing into a corner and watching Damien from afar.

"You must be tired," he says gently, not looking up. "After all, you've been through so much... you don't have to talk if you don't want to. I'll read to you as long as you like."

I still say nothing, sliding along the wall to sit on the floor. I pull my knees to my chest and try to twist so there's not as much pressure on my arms. I hear him sigh softly before opening the book. He begins to read, and I'm surprised that he has a very nice voice when telling a story. It seems to smooth the jagged edges of it, making it easier on the ear; almost dulcet.

The fire crackles softly as I listen, Damien's smooth voice like smokey music in the air, and the story is dense but interesting. It's about a man who becomes a convict after stealing bread to feed his sister's hungry family, and soon I'm so wrapped up in the tale that I start when there's a knock at the door.

"Enter," Damien calls, setting the book aside. He peers at me through the gloom and smiles softly. "If that's where you'd like to sit i can have cushions brought to you that will make it more comfortable."

I say nothing still, looking away from him to see Rebecca entering with a silver cart loaded with trays. I can smell the rich scent of beef, my impending Heat making me more sensitive to smells and more hungry than usual. I tell myself I'm going to resist.

Rebecca sets the food on a small table in an adjacent sitting room and departs after also cleaning up the remains of the objects I'd thrown, catching my eye for only a moment. She's lost weight, her face thin; eyes dim. She looks almost nothing like the girl she used to be. 

"Come along," Damien says, standing and going to the table. He waits, pulling out one of the chairs as well. "Please, I know you're hungry. I can smell it on you, and with your heat drawing closer -"

"No," I snap. "I told you I wouldn't eat with you."

"Then I'm afraid you'll have nothing because I won't make the servants do extra work on your behalf."

"Fine."

"If it's a matter of your hands not being of use to you right now, I could feed you or if you promised to behave -"

"Fuck you," I cut him off, all of my hate loaded in my voice.

He clears his throat and sits, unfurling his napkin and placing it in his lap. He pours deep red wine from a bottle that was on ice before speaking again.

"I would ask that you come nearer while I eat, then. I would enjoy your company very much."

I just snort, pushing back against the wall. A subtle twitch of his mouth is the only indication that he's at all displeased with my response, but he drinks his wine instead of coming after me. I wait with tensed muscles for the other shoe to drop but it doesn't come, and Damien tucks into his meal with vigor, the wonderful aromas wafting to me and making my mouth water.

I close my eyes and try to imagine myself far away, back with Craig and the others, eating fresh fish on the beach... watching the waves roll in, feeling my hand in his, the touch of his lips on my neck... loving me, wanting me.

A sob escapes and I shut my mouth, grinding my teeth together. Damien doesn't respond, continuing to eat. Soon his glass has been refilled again and his plate is nearly clean. He dabs at his lips with his napkin before looking toward me.

"Are you absolutely certain you don't want anything to eat?"

"The thought of food is nauseating with you around," I mutter, trying to ignore the pains in my shoulders, my skin; the way my arms have gone numb from being locked behind me.

He just shakes his head and drains the wine from his glass, standing to run a hand through his hair. Smiling again, he gives me a playful look before returning to the couch and the book. He opens it.

"Now where were we?" he asks pleasantly.

The hours pass slowly as he reads and the fire gutters. I begin to nod despite myself, the stresses of the day laying heavily on my shoulders. I hurt, though, and the lack of feeling in my arms is starting to get to me, as is my full bladder. I squirm, trying to find a more comfortable position, whimpering softly before I can help it.

"Do you need to relieve yourself?" Damien asks idly, making me flush hotly with sudden shame. "I can help if you'd like."

"I don't need anything from you," I bite out, awkwardly getting to my knees; stiff and tired. I struggle to get to my feet, graceless of course, but managing on my own. I stagger toward the bathroom and feel through the dark for the toilet, feeling foolish and going back to turn on the light.

Blinking, the light is too bright and I catch my reflection, looking away quickly to see myself in a white silk sheath dress that clings to me; wrists locked together at the small of my back.

I feel like such a ridiculous, lowly creature. Worse yet, I look like one, too. I look toward the toilet and bite my lip, squeezing my thighs together as my need to empty my bladder intensifies.

Groping with my numb fingers i try to lift my gown but it proves impossible, and soon I'm rubbing against the wall, the counter, trying to ease the thin fabric up enough to give me enough leeway to relieve myself without making a mess. I groan, the pain growing in my bladder and arms, until I'm almost crying because it's so frustrating. Having my arms locked is making what should be a simple task almost impossible, and it just reminds me of how terribly helpless I am in this situation.

And I'm sure Damien had anticipated this turn of events, just like everything else. Angry tears rise in my eyes but I refuse to let them fall.

"Are you sure you don't want my help?" Damien's voice wafts from the doorway, and I turn to look at him with abject hatred. He watches with impassive detachment, his eyes a muted merlot. "I really don't mind."

"I'm sure you don't," I say, my throat tight as I try to hold onto some of my dignity. I lean against the wall and look down, my hair falling into my face. I'm tensed because the urge is so strong to empty my bladder. I bite my lip as hard as i can but I can feel my resolve dying. Ashamed, I don't look up when I speak. "Please, I can't hold it anymore. It hurts."

"Poor, sweet baby," he says, coming to me and delicately taking a hold of my gown. He lifts it above my hips. "This is why I told Bebe not to put you in undergarments...I didn't want to complicate things for you."

"So you knew you'd be shackling me," I mutter, my voice lost as I try to pretend this isn't happening.

"I had a feeling," he replies, helping me to the toilet so I can sit. He steps back but doesn't leave.

I can't help but start to cry quietly as I continue to hide my face. "Can't you go away? I don't want you to watch me!"

"Why are you crying? I don't think any less of you because you have needs just like everyone else."

"I don't care!" I shout brokenly, looking up to meet his eyes. "This is humiliating and you know it! Just go away!"

"If that's what you'd prefer," he says, tugging one of my curls lightly before finally leaving.

It takes a while for me to feel comfortable enough to do my business, knowing Damien can hear and hating it; hating everything. I finish, though, and wait, trying to collect myself before rising, unable to lower my dress but at least being capable of flushing.

Wanting to hide forever, I hold my head up as I come back into the room, feeling him watching -
Knowing he's smiling, too. My bottom half is bare and chilled, exposing everything. I slink back to my corner and sit, appalled to see a soft cushion waiting for me to rest on.

"I hate you so much," I mutter.

"I'm sorry to hear that," he replies, going back to the book. "I can't say that I feel that way about you. If anything, I'd have to admit I'm obsessively devoted to you."

I say nothing. He starts to read again, melodious voice like fingers dragging down my skin. I shift, my skirt easing somewhat over my hips. I sag and lay my head against the wall, my eyes closing.

I don't realize I've fallen asleep until I'm being lifted and cradled next to a warm chest, and in the watery dreams I'm floating in, I think it's Craig holding me, loving me....

I moan, rubbing my cheek against this warmth, until an unwanted aroma meets my nose and I wake up with a horrified gasp. I begin to panic and struggle, but Damien tries to sooth me, rocking me like a babe in arms, and I'm fighting harder.

"No, I don't want this from you! I don't want anything from you!" I cry, pushing against him. "All you do is hurt me... you enjoy it... you thrive on it! I hate you! I want Craig, let me have Craig again, please! I'll do anything!"

Sobbing, I collapse against him; spent and afraid and aching. "Please... just take me back to Craig...I love him. I need him. He needs me too, and so does Ike. I just want them, and Tricia; not you."

I can feel him kissing my curls, murmuring words of what he thinks is love, telling me he adores me; wants nothing more than me. I cry harder.

"Oh, my love, my dear one," he sighs. "You're so tired, I know. So tired and so lost, and you've been led astray... your head has been filled with so much conflicting information, but I'll help to clear it. I'll take care of you, forever...I want to, and I need you to take care of me. We need each other... we're both so alone, can't you see that? Can't you feel it? It's in everything we do... that emptiness."

"The only emptiness i know of is inside of you," I whisper. "You're a void, a black hole... that's all you'll ever be."

Kissing my head, he holds me tighter. My head lolls against him. "That isn't true... I'll prove it to you. You'll see... you'll see. I know you will."

Slackening, I fall into my mind and grope for memories of my time on the coast, standing in the sun. I disappear, becoming removed, even as Damien continues to hold me.

"We'll sleep now," he murmurs, pulling back the covers to try and tuck me in, and I frantically push against him; wild like a wounded animal; a poor, untamed thing that can't stand to be touched by the diseased hand of man.

"No! I'll sleep on the floor, just don't make me lie next to you!" I sob. "Please, I'm begging!"

Sighing, he relents and slides to the floor, cradling me as he places me on the soft rug next to the massive bed. Trembling, I curl up like a petrified dog, folding into myself and just wishing him far, far away.

He strokes my curls softly before moving away, and I'm grateful for this respite until I feel something cold clamping around my ankle. I suck in a breath, feeling like I'm drowning when I see the manacle around my ankle to match the one on my wrists. I yank my foot hard, and a long chain skitters on the floor like a silvery serpent. I start to breathe heavily, almost feeling faint.

"Be still and calm yourself," he says, gazing down at me. "This isn't a punishment...I just want to keep you safe from yourself. If you need anything, let me know, and I'll come to you."

Losing myself completely, I begin to scream, loud, shrill shrieks until my voice fails me, and when it does, I swallow until my voice comes back, and I'm screaming again; throat burning like fire.

Damien stands and watches me, eyes like bloodshed in the dim room, but he doesn't relent. He seems resigned to this, almost like this is his divine calling, to make me bend until I snap; to break me.

"Get some sleep," he says gently. "Things always look brighter in the morning."

------

Even though I'm exhausted, the night passes slowly. I doze on and off, hiding under the blanket Damien gave me, my head nestled in the pillow he'd also provided...

My dreams are agonizing, filled with Craig, my brother, hearing Tricia promising me that she'll look after Ike for as long as it takes. I keep seeing Craig laid out on the forest floor, bleeding profusely, and I ache for him, yearn for him... calling for him in a voice that seems strangled.

"Craig, Craig, Craig," I whisper, curling deeper into myself. "Help me... come get me... even if I'm weak and pathetic and stupid. Please...."

"Kyle?"

Damien speaks, and I immediately shut my mouth, trembling. I pray he'll leave me be, but I can imagine him coming to my side and pulling me from my blanket, yanking up my skirt and taking me again and again; fucking me until I scream and I bleed from raw, broken flesh -

"Oh, please," I beg, huddling in the darkness. "I'll go to sleep, I'll stop crying -"

Pressure falls on my side and the surprise is painful when it hits, adrenaline flooding me and burning to the ends of my fingers; making them throb. I ready myself to be attacked but it doesn't come, the pressure warm and soft as it strokes my side.

"Just sleep," Damien murmurs. "You're safe... you're adored. I'll stay here and keep watch. Do you want to get in bed? Nothing is going to happen if you do."

Desperately, I shake my head. "No, I can't. I'll stay here and I'll be quiet. Just go away."

"Are you sure?"

I nod, and even though I'm hidden under the blanket Damien seems to understand. He takes his hand away. "Dear little one," he murmurs. "I want to love you, even if you don't want me to. Even if you don't want me... but you will. I know you will."

I shut my eyes and look for pretty things in the darkness... the sea, the sun; roses...a long road winding through the most beautiful, peaceful country. Just for me, just for me.

Eventually, Damien finally leaves, but I can still feel the weight of him on me... his presence. He's all around me again, sinking into my mind and my dreams; everywhere, going on forever.

-----

I'm stiff and cold when I wake the next morning, curled into myself, my arms still locked behind me. I'm numb in so many places but that doesn't stop the pain... no, the pain endures because it always finds a way, doesn't it?

When I peek from the blanket I can see scant sunlight falling through the drapes, and the fire is already flickering. I don't hear anything else but that doesn't mean anything. Once again, my bladder is full, and I lie there for several minutes loathing my weak, needy body.

"I know you're awake," Damien says, and he sounds very close. I huddle, trying to hide, but he pulls the blanket away to expose me to the chilled air. "Come on. I'll help you up and get you washed."

"I don't want your help."

"That's unfortunate, I'm going to assist you anyway. Stop being foolish."

I resist but it doesn't make a difference; he reaches and pulls me to my feet after removing my ankle chain, catching me when I sway and almost fall. He chuckles, kissing my forehead, and I'm swept into his arms and carried across the floor.

I struggle but he places his teeth on my nape. Becoming still, he explains what's going to happen before he does it.

"I'm going to take off your shackles and you're going to obey. If you don't, I'll hold you down and bite you - you'll be mine, a mindless, little doll. Is that what you want?"

I snarl. "Are you listening to yourself? You're admitting that the only way I'll stay with you is if you force me to be with you. Don't you have any fucking dignity?"

His eyes smolder before he grabs my nape, hard; fingers sinking in and I can feel myself relaxing against my will. "Obey. I don't want to hurt you but I will to make a point - even if I care deeply for you."

With that, he holds my nape and refuses to leave as I use the toilet, shaming me as I urinate. After that he runs a bath and he washes me himself, stoic as he runs the water hotter and hotter.

"He's still all over you, I can smell him everywhere... in your hair, on your hands," he mutters, scrubbing harder. I blank out during this and come to when he's dressing me; once again in something frail and light.

"I love being able to see you," he sighs, running his fingers, his nails, down the slope of my back.

That's when I try to attack him again and he slams me to the floor, his knee on the small of my back and digging in, making me whine until I wind down like a sluggish clock. He only gets up after he's nipped my back and slipped the manacles back on.

"You'll learn, it's early yet," he says, leading me over to the table and forcing me into a seat where he tries to get me to eat breakfast. I resist, tilting my head away when he offers everything we've been served; ham, fruit, waffles -

"No!" I yell, purposely knocking into the table so half the plates fly off. He slams down his fork and I can tell he's actively holding in the impulse to slap me mercilessly across the face.

"You need to eat," he growls. "Your Heat is coming and -"

"I don't care! Let me go!" Rising, I kick over my chair and send it across the floor. I bump my hip against the table and relish the way the rest of the plates shiver. I want to destroy everything I touch, especially him. I move to hit it again, but Damien jumps from his chair and knocks me back, pushing me onto the floor so he's on me; holding me down.

"Help me!" I howl, writhing and throwing myself from side to side. "Someone! Please!"

He slams a hand on my mouth and I try to bite at it, and that's when he takes a hold of my hair, viciously yanking my head to the side, exposing my neck.

"I should kill you, it'd be so fucking easy," he says, an edge in his voice that's new; pure, unbridled rage. It makes me freeze, staring up at him. He appears unhinged and I can't help but laugh, long and loud; right in his face.

"Weak, you're so weak!" I crow, laughing harder.

Lifting his hand, he makes it seem like he's going to slam his fist into my face, but he stops at the last moment, and he climbs off of me instead. He sits for a moment, catching his breath, and then he rises. He storms from the room and when he comes back Bebe is with him.

"Clean all of this up, clear the room," he says, indicating the breakfast food, the dishes. "No, wait. The juice and water jugs, put them over there."

Wordlessly, Bebe does as instructed, placing the drinks next to the fireplace, moving to stoke the fire but stopping as soon as Damien tells her to step away.

"Do what I said and clean everything up, then leave us. And," he adds, "if I find out you've come back to this room at any time, without my direct permission, I will fire you and make sure you never find another job in this area. You'll be blacklisted. Do you understand?"

She nods, hurrying to obey and then leaving. She doesn't look at me at all.

Damien, however, gives me a cold stare before he comes to me and drags me back to the bed, snapping the chain around my ankle again and tugging on it to make sure it's secure. He checks the chains on my wrists as well and they're tight as can be without completely cutting off my circulation.

Kneeling before me, he takes a hold of my hair and forces me to look at him; eyes bright, savage. They cut into me.

"I'll be leaving you on your own today while I attend to business," he says. "You are to entertain yourself, and I expect you to have a better attitude by the time I return tonight. Is that clear?"

Biting my lip, I try to pull away but he holds me fast; tangling his fingers deeper into my curls. I groan in pain.

"Answer me. Now!"

"Fine!" I shout in his face. "Go! You'll be doing me a favor!"

He smiles but it's jagged, broken; like a mirror that's been dropped. "That remains to be seen."

Pushing me down, he leaves the room and I can hear the door being locked. It isn't long before I'm on my feet, going to the door to press my ear against it, listening.

All is silent except my quick breath and rapid heart, but I hear nothing from the hall. Turning, I grab the door knob and try to twist it, but it doesn't budge.

Of course, but I already knew it was locked. Still, it was worth a try. I kick the door and look around the room, thirsty from screaming and panting. My eyes fall on the pitchers that had been left and I go to them, almost falling when I reach the end of my chain.

The pitchers are just out of reach, even when I strain against my chains. I look around for something to draw them toward me, but there's nothing at hand that will be of help.

This is when reality starts to sink in, and I try to walk to the bathroom. This too, is just out of my reach, and the horror is building in me. Already my bladder feels heavy, full, and I'm frantic to find a way out, but there is none.

All I have at my disposal is the rug next to the bed, my blanket and pillow, and the bed itself. I run to check the bedside tables but they're empty.

And Damien had said he'd be gone all day, and the day's barely begun...

"Son of a bitch," I mutter, forcing myself to slow my breaths. I sink onto my rug, refusing to use the bed. I clench my teeth and try to think, to plan, but what can I possibly do? There's no where to go. There's no one to help me.

He's trying to make me crack, I know this. It isn't like he's hard to read, but goddammit, how am i supposed to fight against all of this?

But I suppose that's the point, isn't it? I'm not supposed to fight, I'm meant to crumble. Leaning against the bed, I stare at the ceiling and try to lose myself, but I'm so afraid... I'm lonely, and....

"I just want you, Craig," I whisper, beginning to dissolve, pressing my face into my knees. "Please, I need you, and Ike and Tricia... anyone..."

I hate myself for being weak, and I cry until I feel wilted and hot and tired. Sinking onto my side, my stomach grumbles and I curl tighter, trying to empty my head.

I can do this. I just have to be strong, even if I don't feel strong... if I pretend long enough it'll become true.

Won't it?

---

I never realized how many hours there are in a day.

I mean, I guess I've never really had to think about it because even in my darkest moments I always had something to distract myself from how slowly time passes....

Books, music, writing; the garden. Dreaming. There's always been something to focus on, but not today. I try to sleep for as long as I can but I can only doze for so long, and when I wake up I'm back in that silent room, cut off from the world and reminded of my pain, and oh, the quiet; the deep, relentless quiet that forces me to be alone with my thoughts.

My body is agony, from my swollen, cut up wrists to my aching shoulders; the bruises on my face and how harshly my skin has been scrubbed. Worst of all is my bladder, and as much as I try to ignore it it feels like it's filling up fuller and fuller; bulging like it's going to burst like the udder of a cow that isn't milked in a timely fashion.

When sleep proves impossible i try to recite poetry to myself, and stories. I sing all the songs I can recall and compose letters in my head that I'll probably never get to send, and through it all my bladder plagues me, my head throbs, and the silence is threatening my sanity.

I watch the sunlight crawl across the floor and it's so slow, like taffy oozing on a hot summer sidewalk, and I challenge myself not to look at it for a while, excited to see how much its shifted but it always seems to stay the same.

I try standing and pacing, and that helps for a while until the pressure in my bladder makes me stop, succumbing and sinking to my knees and praying for relief, almost wishing that Damien will come back and show me some sort of mercy, but that makes me so angry that I berate myself for my weakness.

It isn't until the room becomes a little darker that I begin giving up and start screaming into the blank void around me, squeezing my thighs hard together and beginning to tremble and sweat: cold but almost feeling feverish. My voice echos around the room, surrounding me, and I keep going until it dies in my throat; panting before I can muster up the strength to start again.

By the end I'm begging in a small whisper to be released from this agony, and I close my eyes and imagine i can hear the door opening, but it never does, and finally I begin to sob like a little child as I give in and let go, the wetness seeping from me and ruining my gown, the rug beneath me, and when I'm done I'm shivering and babbling to myself, nearly incoherent when the door finally creaks open, and I'm crying anew, shoving my face into the side of the bed.

The quiet is an eternity when I hear footsteps approach, and I can't look up because I've been shamed, left to soil myself because that's how little power I've been afforded.

"Sweet Kyle, my love, my darling," Damien says, kneeling to touch my shoulder. I cringe away and he makes quiet sounds to calm me, reaching to stroke my nape before pressing his fingers there. I don't fight, cold and wet and unable to look at him. "Here, I'll help clean you up, and then you can have something nice for dinner. I'll read to you, too. Would you like that?"

All I can do is sob, and I don't fight when he releases me. He doesn't even shy away from my ruined gown, taking me into his arms to carry me to the bathroom, where he draws a warm bath. He adds rose-scented salts to the water and undresses me carefully, rubbing my aching shoulders when I lean against the side of the tub.

I stare blankly at the water, thoroughly humiliated and so deeply tired it's all I can do not to fall asleep right there.

He bathes me tenderly, whispering soft praise in my ear, before drying me and dressing me in a warmer, more substantial gown. After, he coaxes me to eat a little dinner, hot soup and bread, before I begin resisting again. He clucks his tongue and scratches behind my ear, wiping my mouth and kissing my lips.

I just stare into space, lost. I allow myself to be taken to the couch where he continues the story from before, and I fall fast asleep with my head in his lap, drifting and trying to forget everything; my name, my existence -

My unspeakable shame.

Later, Damien helps me from the couch but doesn't try to force me into bed, gesturing to a new rug and a freshly cleaned floor as he snaps on my manacles.

"Bebe came into clean while you were napping," he says cheerfully before nuzzling my temple. I pull away quickly, almost snapping at him but stopping myself. He's patient, though, and doesn't chastise me. "Lie down, love, you've had such a long day, haven't you?" He stops, peering at me. "Do you need to use the facilities before I tuck you in?"

Like glass being driven into a wound, i know he's trying to make a point, and I feel hot, the warmth spreading from my cheeks to my throat. I shake my head.

"Fine, go on, then, and I'll make sure you're comfortable. Unless you'd like to get into bed -"

I shake my head more vigorously. He laughs softly and pats my cheek. I sink and curl up on the rug in the fetal position, not resisting when he snaps the chain around my ankle. Covering me with a blanket, I retreat into it until I hear him walk away.

-----

The next morning is almost identical to the first, after I've awoken with fresh, unbridled fury. This time, though, Damien isn't as reluctant to use force, and he slaps me across the face after having to tackle me to the ground again.

"You need to learn," he mutters, holding me down. "And I'm going to make you, do you hear me?"

I snap at him and he rears back to slap me again, catching me with his garnet ring and making me yelp when it cuts my cheek. Tears gather in my eyes and I crumple slightly. He sighs. Gently, he wipes the blood from my face with his thumb.

"Foolish thing, why are you being this way? You can't win; I won't let you."

"Let me go," I reply defiantly, but this time I visibly wince when he draws back to strike me. He stops and smiles, cupping my aching cheek and gazing into my eyes.

"Better. I'll take little improvements... they add up over time. Besides, you know i like your fire, so long as it's reasonably controlled."

Moving off of me, he straightens his impeccable shirt, black and sleek, before looking at me with affection.

"I'm going to be out again today. I trust you can keep yourself occupied."

I try to keep the panic from my face, glancing toward the bathroom far across the room, and he crosses his arms, watching me thoughtfully.

"I guess you didn't enjoy having an accident yesterday."

I grit my teeth, wanting to point out that this is a profoundly stupid and obvious comment, but I stay quiet.

Sliding a hand through his hair, he continues to ruminate before touching my cheek softly. I flinch and his eyes brighten.

"I'll lengthen your chain so you can use the bathroom. Would you like that?"

I nod, dying little by little on the inside.

"But I want a favor in return," he adds, narrowing his eyes.

"What?" I say, unable to keep the bite from my tone.

He glances toward the bed. "You'll sleep beside me tonight."

Enraged, I almost lunge at him. "Never!"

He's smooth when he shrugs, turning away. "Have it your way. I think i should add I'll be out later today. See you tonight."

He moves to the door, making no indication that he's going to change his mind, and I'm biting my tongue so hard tears are coming to my eyes. His hand touches the knob and something twists deep in my gut, and I can hear myself crying out his name.

He turns, regarding me passively.

Lips trembling, the shame and humiliation are vivid in me as i remember the day before, being reduced to a wayward child without dignity.

"Please, I'll... I'll sleep in bed with you. Just don't leave me alone without... just," I falter, wishing I could cover my face with my hands. "Please."

In an instant, he's pleased again, and he tries to reach for me but I move quickly away. "Don't. Just don't."

"Fine, I'll give you your space for now." Moving past me, he unlocks my chain and adds more slack, looping it back around the thick post of the huge bed. I look at it with mounting fear, dreading the evening i can't stop from coming.

The day passes as excruciatingly slow as the one before it, even with my added freedom of being allowed to use the bathroom like a civilized human being. Without anything to keep myself occupied, I doze and lie on the floor, trying to find shapes in the shadows on the ceiling. I hum and make up more stories in my head, wishing I had a pen and paper to write them down.

My stomach growls because I refused to eat very much, and by the end of that long, miserable day I'm so bored and lonely that it's physically painful.

Damien sweeps in eventually to find me listlessly lying on the floor, trying to make myself sleep. He looks down at me with that thoughtful expression again.

"Why don't we have a nice dinner together and then we can continue our book. How does that sound?"

I roll my eyes, rising to my feet. I don't want to admit that having something to do, even if it involves Damien, is a welcome change of pace compared to absolutely nothing.

I'm resistant to eating again which displeases Damien.

"You aren't proving anything by starving yourself," he says, offering me a bite; feeding me by hand because my hands are still shackled. "And I know you're hungry because your Heat is growing."

"That's exactly why I don't want to eat. I want to make my body as inhospitable as possible," I retort, stomach clenching and yearning for the delicious food being offered.

He slowly sets down his fork, visibly becoming elevated, but he stays calm. "Well, I've had enough. How about reading in front of the fire, hmm?"

I roll my eyes and look away. It's not as if I have a choice.

I refuse to lay my head in his lap that night but he doesn't comment, reading aloud late into the evening. I'm just glad that the story is exciting and very long, deriving meager comfort from this if nothing else.

He stops when I begin to nod, stroking my face to wake me. "Time for bed," he murmurs, watching me with a disconcerting hunger. "You ready?"

I'm awake instantly, sliding off the couch and moving away. "I'm not ready for this," I say, looking toward the bed, the manacles feeling tighter than ever. With those on i won't be able to fight him off at all.

Standing, he advances on me. "You promised, Kyle. Remember, a favor for a favor?"

"How is what you did a favor?" I ask brokenly. "You only made it so I can use the toilet like a person instead of an animal... it's the least that you could've done."

"Is it really that simple, though?" He asks. "What i did was give you back a piece of your dignity... even after you questioned whether I have dignity of my own. I would say that's vital to the human spirit. What do we really have without it?"

I begin to cry, it's almost like I'll never run out of tears where Damien is concerned. His logic is just so twisted and backwards, but he manages to make the most bizarre, cruel actions make a perverted sense.

Oh, how i hate him.

"Have honor, Kyle," he adds quietly. "Follow through with the things you say you'll do."

"I'd prefer the floor, thanks."

He sighs, beginning to unbutton his shirt slowly.

"Very well, but that's going to have consequences. First, I'll take your rug and your pillow, you may keep the blanket for now, and tomorrow you'll go back to soiling yourself like a filthy little animal. Does that sit well with you?"

Moving back, i hit the wall and hang my head, unspeakably weary and exhausted by all of this; mind games, manipulation. He doesn't even have to touch me and he's hurting me.

"How can you say you want to love me if you're willing to treat me this way?" I ask faintly, desperately. "Everything you're doing flies in the face of love... this can't even be considered decent."

Coming over, his shirt is open, revealing his long torso, and he considers me a moment before speaking; gently taking a hold of my chin. "You ran from me... and not just away, but to another Alpha. You were with him, and you glory in that; throwing it in my face. You delighted in hurting me not only with the action itself but speaking of it after the fact."

Growling softly, he brushes a thumb across my lip. "Many Alphas in my position would've killed you outright, or they would've thrown you into the street after killing your lover, but I've done neither. I've brought you back, and to nicer accommodations than you had before... because I adore you, and I want you near."

"Yes, I need to be harsh with you, because you're undisciplined, you're disrespectful and reckless. I want to make you better than what you are, and take care of you in a way that fits your station, but if I have to burn the field to reap the fruit, I will. My actions are only a result and direct response to your actions, Kyle."

"So, to put it plainly, I'm being exceedingly tolerant and forgiving in this regard. Many wouldn't blame me for simply tearing out your throat. Now," he points toward the bed. "What is your decision? I'm tired and I don't want to discuss this all night... I'm growing weary of the subject already."

Looking from him to the bed, it takes everything in me not to snarl and bite the way I want to, but he's shown me what happens in those cases. If I use force, he counters with more force; if I try to withdraw, he withholds basic dignities.

He's thought of everything. He always does.

I hang my head. "Please don't do anything... just let me sleep."

He lets me go. "I have no intention of taking you tonight, Kyle."

Walking away, he continues to undress, his sleep attire a pair of soft linen pants and no shirt. He turns down the bed and looks at me, waiting.

I can feel pieces of my heart crumbling as I slowly make my way over, and as soon as I'm chained again, I lie down in the cool sheets and he covers me, touching my cheek afterward. Damien climbs in beside me but doesn't draw me near, not saying a word when I scoot to the edge as far as I can go, huddled and shaking -

Waiting.

He merely yawns and douses the light. "Pleasant dreams, my love."

-----

Time becomes strange in the following days, because they all seem to blend together; a series of monotonous events and hours that are unremarkable but also crushing.

The routine becomes set: awaken after a night spent next to Damien, being bathed and dressed, breakfast, and then I'm chained to the bed (arms still locked as well), and then I'm subjected to agonizing hours of loneliness and boredom until Damien returns. We have dinner and then he reads to me until I'm too tired to keep my eyes open -

The same thing, every single day.

It isn't long before i start to splinter from the solitude and fear; the worry and anxious anticipation of what's going to happen next. Damien only hits me when I lash out, but even that's died down because I don't have the same energy I once did.

What's even more frightening is that I've almost started looking forward to his return at the end of the day, and even though i try to hide it, i know he can tell. My scent changes, becomes lighter, when he walks through the door.

He feeds me out of his hand, still annoyed that I will only take very little, but he seems so pleased with himself and why shouldn't he be? He has all the power.

I try to amuse myself by making up stories and pacing, trying to escape into my head, but I can only do so much. I've even started talking to myself to keep the silence at bay, but I'm falling so far that sometimes I don't recognize my own voice, and the memories I once clung to don't really make me happy anymore. They just make me sad and serve as reminders of how horrible my situation really is.

What can I do? What can I possibly do to save myself? I don't regret my time with Craig at all, but it hurts to remember that sort of happiness....

It hurts to remember anything before all of this. That was truly another life, another Kyle. I don't really even know who I am anymore... I'm starting to think I don't want to.

The tides begin to turn when Damien looks at me strangely one evening, the glow in his eyes deep and flickering like faraway little flames. He brushes fingers over my throat, squeezing the swollen glands there and I whine softly, almost moving to nuzzle against him.

"Very soon," he murmurs. "You're right on that edge, my love."

It's true, my Heat is almost here. The hunger and fire are growing in me, as is my compulsion to begin nesting and hiding; body aching and waking up with that deep, frantic need. I look down.

"It's said that omegas are at their most appealing right before their heat," he muses. "Would you agree with that?"

I say nothing. I've learned that silence is usually safe - most of the time.

"You've been doing very well the past week," he adds, scratching behind my ear; that little spot he's managed to find that feels so soothing when touched. I sit still but I want to squirm, push closer.

Bastard.

"So well," he continues, "that i think you deserve a reward."

I finally look up, flashing my teeth to make him aware that I'm listening but my animosity hasn't waned. He gives me an affectionate smile.

"We didn't really have an occasion to celebrate your homecoming properly, so I've arranged a dinner party for tomorrow."

I look up, ears pricked. "A what?"

"A dinner party. For you. Doesn't that sound nice?"

I stare at him. Yes, the idea of seeing other people is very appealing, as is getting out of this room for a while, but I know him too well. This is most likely just another one of his cruel games.

Shaking my head, I manage to keep my tone respectful when I reply. "No, thank you. I'd prefer not to attend."

He laughs. "Silly thing, I'm not giving you a choice; I just wanted you to be aware. Besides, you'll have fun... it's a change of pace, and I know you need that more than anything."

The break in our routine comes swiftly and jars me from my stupor, beginning early the next morning. I'm awoken to an empty room and Bebe tending the fire, and for a moment I feel like I've gone back in time.

She turns to look at me and I can see the pity in her eyes, the sadness, but she approaches this development with a resignation typical of her personality. She helps me rise and removes my chains, making no comment as she does. I'm so embarrassed to be seen this way that I don't address it either, hoping we can both pretend that the shackles simply don't exist.

She coaxes me to eat a little and then I'm bathed in soothing warm water; hair washed with fruity smelling shampoo, and then I'm rubbed with lotion, oil... but there's something off about today's preparations.

I first notice the deviance from the norm when she lays out undergarments radically different from what I've worn in the past. I stare at them.

"You can't really...I mean," I say, blushing hot. "You have to be joking."

"Master's orders," she mutters, picking up the panties with obvious distaste.

They're made of delicate golden lace and fit snugly on my hips when she slides them on me. The material curves under my ass, almost accentuating the roundness of my cheeks, but there's nothing to cover my backside properly; it's fully exposed, the same for my front, my privates on full display where the filmy lace splits. A satin bow is attached to the band in back, right above where the opening is, only drawing more attention to it.

I might as well be naked for all the cover they provide. I glare at her.

"What's going on? I'm not wearing these; I can't believe i even let you put them on me."

"The Master told me you'll be beaten with a whip if you don't obey," she says, laying out golden sandals with long satiny straps. "Please, Kyle. Just don't argue. I'll be beaten, too... or turned out."

"We could run right now, you and me," I say, becoming desperate; my scent changing to fear on a dime.

"Here," she sighs, lifting my foot to place the sandal on it; she places the other one as well. She then begins laboriously tying them up my calves, the soft ribbons winding until they reach just above my knees.

"I don't understand. Why is he making me wear these things? He said it was just going to be a dinner party," I say, my throat tightening. "I mean, I know I'll wear a gown as well, but -"

She gives me a long look then, and all of my terror resurfaces. I cling to her apron and cry, begging her not to be a party to whatever Damien's planning.

She hugs me, finally letting down her guard, and she apologizes with tears in her voice. "I have nowhere to go if I'm sent away," she murmurs. "Damien will poison my name for as far as he can... I'll never find work, at least not with a reputable family."

"Go to the coast, they're different there!" An idea siezes me. "You could go and work for Craig and Tricia! They're kind, they're good -"

"They've left the area from what I understand," she says quietly. "I don't know their whereabouts, and I have no way of getting to the coast... it's very dangerous for a woman to travel alone, especially far. Now please, just let me get you ready."

After that, I silently cry the whole time she works. My hair is done in a much more elaborate way than usual, with golden ribbons and little gems scattered to catch the light; matching gems glued to the corners of my eyes; still more nestled in my navel. Glittery powder is dusted on my cheeks and shoulders.

By the end i can barely recognize myself, and I look more like an object than anything else; a graven idol -

A statue.

She throws a filmy cloak over my shoulders that drags on the floor when I walk. I clutch it beneath my chin, very aware of my near nakedness beneath.

"Please, I can't do this. Whatever he's planning, I can't," I say over and over. I look at myself in the mirror and I nearly collapse.

Damien enters the room then, smiling to see me, and he comes to take my hand and turn me round, marveling and lavishing compliments that only compound my humiliation.

"I won't look under your cloak just yet," he says, his sharp canines wicked. "I'll wait to be surprised like everyone else."

It's a wonder that he's able to convince me to leave the room at all, but when he brandishes the aforementioned whip I comply, holding my cloak as tightly as I can while being led down long corridors; a prisoner facing their own impending execution.

Mingling scents of Alpha and rich foods invade my senses as soon as we step into a large banquet hall. The tables are very long and loaded with dishes; arranged to create a sharp U shape around a raised platform in the center. There are golden chains coiled on it, waiting, and the terror rises in me until I'm fighting Damien's hold, snarling and snapping and biting; wild with abject horror.

He subdues me quickly and efficiently; a hand gripping my nape, the other touching my glands, rubbing them. I whine, still trying to thrash, but a warning snarl from him drives ice into my heart, my belly. I clench my thighs together, shaking violently. There are many people seated at the tables, already eating and drinking, and from what i can see they're all Alphas; some familiar and others new.

"I'll throw you in and lock the door if you embarrass me tonight," he murmurs in my ear. "They'd want you regardless, at any time, but so close to your Heat you're particularly irresistible. They'll be on you before you hit the floor, and I won't stop them; I'll let them have you. All of them. They'd probably end up killing you."

"Why? Why are you doing this?" I fight his hold, but when he tells me he'll give me to the crowd, I almost crumple to my knees.

"To make a very important point," he replies, taking something from his pocket. "You seem to operate under the idea that being with me, cared for by me, is intolerable, even though it can always be so much worse. Tonight I will do my best to change your way of thinking... just think, any one of those beasts out there would tear you apart if given half a chance, but I protect you. I shield you."

"How are you protecting me? You're feeding me to them!" I sob.

"Not so, I'm just letting them look and maybe fondle a little. Admire. Now, lift your head."

I pull away but he yanks me close, and soon he's wrapping something around my face; forcing something cold and hard between my lips. It makes it impossible for me to speak. I try to pull it off but he grabs my wrists and holds them at the small of my back.

"This is also a consequence," he says savagely. "For running. For disobeying... for defying me in such a profound way. Yes, you'll be admired but also degraded... consider this a reward wrapped inside of a punishment."

"Go, and don't fight me," he murmurs next to my ear. "Don't start a battle you can't win."

I'm forced into the dining room and a collective silence falls, deep and heavy, and I can feel every eye on me, judging, assessing; coveting. I look at the floor, cringing.

"Gentlemen, our evening's entertainment has finally arrived!" I recognize that hateful voice - Cartman; of course he'd attend a party this depraved. I don't look up, my face burning.

There's laughter and titters after this declaration, and then everyone seems to be speaking at once; voices on top of voices, and the scent of their greedy arousal is wrapping around me, making me faint; mouth already watering.

Warmth blooms in my belly, slow-smoldering as I'm led to the platform and made to stand before everyone. I shut my eyes as Damien kisses my nape.

"For your pleasure," he announces, beginning to untie my cloak very slowly. I keep my eyes tightly closed but they're already wet. "I'll be serving you dessert a little early this evening. I trust no one minds?"

This is met with thunderous applause and cat calls. He chuckles lowly.

"Fucking animals," he whispers so only i can hear, and then he's pulling my cloak open to reveal my almost nakedness, and the smells in the room, the sounds, everything it would seem, intensifies to such a degree that it nearly makes me dizzy.

I wobble but he rights me, and the moisture is building on my tongue with the gag pressed into my mouth. I whimper.

"Be still," he says, and then he's locking the golden chains around my ankles, my wrists. They're only long enough for me to be able to stand, but i can barely move in any direction. He even attaches a chain to the back of my gag so I can't lower my head; I'm kept at attention, locked in place, and i can feel everyone looking at me, consuming me with their eyes, their lust, and the smell of it all fills up the room like heady, sinful perfume.

"Are we allowed to touch?" someone asks, but I don't recognize their voice.

Damien considers this, running a finger up the curve of my naked back. "Yes, I think so. But leave any marks and you'll have me to deal with."

This draws another laugh and several sighs. Damien kisses my neck, my shoulder, before leaving me alone; I feel his warmth fade away, and I hate myself for wanting it back; desperate for anything even remotely familiar.

I stand there, lost in the darkness behind my eyes, chained and exposed, while the din clouds my head. I feel hot, nearly feverish, and I'm only made warmer to have them talking about me like I can't hear, or worse yet, that they know I can and they simply don't care.

"So pretty, don't you think?"

"Nice hips...perfect for carrying children."

"He hasn't whelped yet, has he?"

"Look at his hair...I wish my omega was blessed with that color."

And on and on; every part of my body is picked apart, assessed and analyzed in meticulous, humiliating detail. I try to drift, to sink into a safe place in my head, but I can't; I'm too aware of being a spectacle, and all of the pheromones are fooling with my head. I sway, wanting to fall to my knees, but my chains prevent this.

A voice speaks close then, pulling me from my thoughts, so much that my eyes blink open, and I come face to face with Cartman. I try to snarl, but my gag stops me, and my mouth is filled with even more wetness. He stares me down, right in my eyes, and his own are being overtaken with crimson; his scent perfectly barbaric in its cloying lust.

"I was waiting for someone to muzzle you," he murmurs, smirking. "It took a while but thank goodness for small favors, right?"

I growl low in my throat. He laughs and reaches to pinch my nipple hard, and I strain against my chains.

"Hmm, I can't tell if you like it or not," he says, pinching the other one. I jerk, heat building in me.

He walks around the platform so I can't see him, and the tension is thick in me until i feel prying fingers on my backside. I arch but can't move, whining loudly. He laughs and continues to fondle me, finally spreading me gently.

"Very nice," he says, just looking for a moment before rubbing the pad of his thumb over my entrance.

I try to scream but it comes out strangled, and I try to pull away, the hateful chains feeling tighter and tighter. I'm horrified at the ache growing stronger in me, deep in my hips, between my legs; ribbons of fire lancing me. Sweat beads on my skin and I want to pant, but that only makes my mouth wetter.

He continues to fondle me as other Alphas approach; i recognize some from my debut and Cartman's party; Christophe and even Trent Boyett. Soon it's just a sea of faces and Alpas around me, and I'm shivering as I'm touched and caressed; nipples grabbed, hands on my hips, thighs spread as far as they can go; hands and fingers and even tongues everywhere.

I tilt my head to look at the ceiling, crying and so hot, my mind dissolving and becoming fuzzy, like I'm leaving myself behind somewhere. A hand reaches to cup between my legs and I can't stop myself from moaning quietly, which elicits a very pleased and primal sound from the crowd.

"Look," someone remarks, "he's aroused. He enjoys being observed like this. Little slut."

"Here," another voice chimes in, and I'm being stroked quickly, making me stiffen but it feels good, hot. "He's becoming slick... isn't that a pretty sight?"

It's dripping from me now, down my legs, and I can smell my sweet arousal. An arresting force is taking over me and I almost begin to purr, a strong desire to bend over and present overtaking me.

No, no, a small voice in my head whispers before sinking and fading away into a red fog. You don't want this. You don't!

I'm falling into my instincts now, pushed over an unseen edge at being exposed this way; met with desire and ravenous want; stroked and petted and kissed; tongues on me, my neck, my throat. I'm parted by someone else's hands while fingers grope between my legs, and I'm moaning deep and loud in my throat.

I'm quickly forgetting myself and I don't care, and through it all one scent seems to dominate the rest, and I seek it out, whining with want; painful, urgent need. I cry for it in my head, and I feel so empty when all i want is to be filled; taken, hard, fast; without mercy.

It's beginning to hurt, this overwhelming desire, and I'm yanking helplessly at my chains, and I can hear the laughter and taunts in my head, but suddenly my face is gently being cradled, and I'm looking deep into eyes made bright and fearsome with the hunger in them.

"My love," Damien says, gently touching my glands and I almost faint, but he keeps me close. "You're ready, aren't you?"

I try to understand what I'm hearing, but I'm past that, and all I can think about is the physical, the emptiness in me, like my heart's been torn out, and I'm so unbearably devoid of something fundamental. A memory stirs for a moment, though, of being held softly and adored; clear grey eyes and a star-filled sky that seems to stretch forever; becoming eternity.

I can't hold onto it for long before it flies away, this thought, and then all I can see is Damien, and I'm clawing for his scent, the feel of him, because my body has been his before, and the memory is in my bones, my blood.

I feel myself nodding because I'm not allowed to speak, and there's an inferno rising in his eyes until I feel consumed by it. He leans to kiss my cheeks, my forehead, biting hard into my shoulder and I moan louder, wanton.

"Don't worry, little one," he murmurs, beginning to unlock my chains. "I'm here and I'll help you if that's what you desire. Let your Alpha take care of you the way you need."