It had been decided that Sam wouldn't see Caitriona until the moment of rescue. They felt it would make his shock more authentic.
They weren't wrong.
Sam runs to the tree where Cait lies and stops short. He knew in theory what she was going to look like. He had read the script. Rope around her neck. Dried blood across her face. Her breast slashed. Gagged. Hands bound. Dress torn. Arms and legs bruised; bloodied. However, knowing and seeing are two very different things. He is shocked, all right. So shocked, he can't remember what comes next. He can't fucking breathe. Adrenaline cascades through him. He is ready to kill.
Snapped back to reality, he sways; rights himself and staggers away. His heart is a jackhammer in his ears. Violent tremors rack his frame as he sinks to his knees behind a tree. Vomits up his supper. Hot tears spring from his eyes. Sweat breaking over him despite the winter chill of the night. He can't stop fucking shaking. His body barely manages to redirect the raging flood of: "Kill. Kill. KILL."
Wendy is too good at her job sometimes. That disgusting wound she had fashioned for his snake-bitten leg had put him off his food for days. But this. This is too much. Too real.
Face buried in his hands, Sam struggles to pull himself together. Seeing his wife, his heart and soul, looking so brutalized... Like a murder victim. His stomach heaves again. He knew that it was going to be difficult, but he never anticipated this. "Make-up. It's just make-up. It's not real. She's okay." He mutters, trying to convince himself.
A hand ghosts over his hair, running down to cup the back of his neck. "Shhh... I'm here. I'm okay."
Gasping, he wraps his arms around her knees. Pulls her down to him. Buries his face in her neck. He cannot look. Not yet. She murmurs low sounds of comfort in his ear, strokes fingertips across his jaw. The shaking subsides and when he feels in control again, he pulls back from her shoulder and opens his eyes.
Caribbean sea meets midnight sky. Seeing past the fake bruises, the fake blood, he looks deep. Her eyes are soft, steady. Full of love. "My God, Cait." He chokes, clears his throat and tries again. "I'm sorry. It was too real," he whispers. "You looked..."
"I know, Hon." Caitriona gives Sam a small, encouraging smile. "You have a tender heart. It's why I love you so much." She takes his hands and stands. "Let's get this done and over with. Everyone is freezing out here."
Nodding, Sam allows her to help him up. Of their own accord, his arms wrap her close, squeezing until he hears her muffled grunt. Drawing a deep breath of frigid air, he stuffs the thoughts and emotions of his breakdown into a box, hammers down the lid and plasters a smile across his face. "Wendy needs a raise."
Her laughter scatters like stardust across his mind, banishing the darkness.
His bearings back under him, they all carry on as though nothing had ever happened. A few more takes, a few weak jokes to bring some much-needed levity and they call it a night.
Sam and Cait walk in silence to their trailer. Once inside, he follows her to the shower where he carefully, lovingly and quietly removes all traces of the night. Smoothing the sudsy cloth over her upturned face; her pure, flawless skin revealed. As the reds, blacks and blues disappear with a swirl of bubbles, he feathers soft kisses in their place. There is nothing to truly heal, but the wounds across his heart are fierce.
“Are you all right?” Cait peers up at him. Her tone cautious, curious.
“Mmm…” A shrug. Eyes evading connection. He doesn’t truly know. How can he explain it? He feels like a rookie, breaking character like that. How can he tell her? He nods, finally. “I'm fine, just tired is all.” He can tell she doesn’t really believe him but she mercifully drops the issue.
It isn't until later, cocooned together in bed, that the lid cracks open.
Cait is missing.
He roars her name.
He hears her crying, screaming in agony.
His blood curdles.
“Saaa…” Her voice fades.
He sees her. Broken.
Eyes open. Empty.
Terror frozen on her face.
He runs to her.
He can’t move.
He can only stare.
At 3:32am, gasping and choking, Sam falls out of bed for the first time in 35 years. Arms and legs thrashing against the duvet that entangles him, traps him. Restrains him.
He wrestles himself free and crawls to the window to let in some night air, hoping the arctic blast will chase away the remnants of the nightmare. He sits on the floor, running his hands over his face. “What the fuck.” He whispers.