Timeline: Events start sometime in 2002 before Sami and Brandon's little get away, but after his indiscretion with Lexie. Then there is a time jump of about six months. Victor is still blackmailing Sami.

Author's Note: Elements of this story are going to be very dark. This relates back to a post on Second Chances asking what it would take for Sami to be willing to turn to Lucas for comfort/protection. As you can see in my mind at least, it takes a lot. Specific warnings will be added to later chapters. The story is unbetaed. I own none of the characters herein. I only play with them because I love them.

Darkest Hours Before the Dawn

Teris Xenite

Prologue

"Lucas Desmond Roberts I swear I am going to kill you as soon as I get out of these damned things!"

He smirked from his seat across the room, and looked at her struggling to free herself from the handcuffs. "Some how I doubt that. You'd be wise to wait until I take you home at least, otherwise you'll be stranded here. I don't think anyone who stumbles across you will look kindly on finding a dead body."

"Minor details."

"That you always ignore, and so your plans fall apart. That is why you need me."

"I do not need you."

"Of course you don't, you control the universe on your whim. You're just toying with the rest of us, after all that's why Victor's controlling your life with a tiny hunk of plastic, and why you're handcuffed and on your knees at the moment. Do I have that right?" She glared at him far more eloquently than any curse she could have uttered. "I'll take that as a yes." He walked over to her and knelt in front of her. "Now it's safe to assume that you want out of these?"

"Well it will be rather difficult to kill you with them on."

"Now Sami, I can only take these off if you promise not to do anything you'll feel sorry for later, like killing me for example."

"Oh I promise." He unlocked the cuffs, and wasn't suprised in the least when she went for his throat. He merely grabbed her hands and recuffed them, in front of her this time though, so at least she would be marginally more comfortable.

"Now Sami, you should know better, it's not nice to lie."

"Really, and since when can you lecture me about lying? It's one of your favorite pastimes too, if I remember correctly."

"It's been quite sometime since I've lied to you. You're just too busy digging up the past to notice."

"Really what is this? This doesn't exactly look like a friendly conversation."

"This is the result of a poorly thought out choice of words to one of Victor's employees. I told him to make sure you got here safely, as in make sure you didn't get lost since you hadn't been here before. He took it to mean, make sure you got here willingly or not."

"How convenient for you."

"Now that's not any way to talk to the only person who's got the means to get you what you want."

"Really…and what precisely do you think I want?"

"Well…first you want out of those handcuffs. Then my guess would be that you'd like to be free from the blackmailers. And lastly you want the affections of Brandon. That last one…well there is no way in hell I'm helping you with that one. But I will uncuff you, and get Victor and Tony off of your back."

"Need I remind you that you're blackmailing me too you bastard. That's how you got me up here remember?"

"Stooping to name calling, how ladylike of you." He suprised her by coming over to where she knelt, and kneeling in front of her. She couldn't fight him with her hands bound, and unless she wanted to fall over unless she wanted to fall over backwards and not be able to get back up without his help she couldn't back away from him as he brought his face dangerously close to hers. So close in fact that a slight tilt of his head and he'd be kissing her.

His fingers stroked her jaw gently and he tisked disapprovingly as she jerked her head away. "You know I never remember you being stupid Sami. You should at least hear me out, I might have an offer you'd be able to accept. Surely you must realize that if it comes down to it you're better off to have me in possession of your soul than Victor or Tony."

"Really? And how do you figure that?"

"Well lets see." He paused and watched her grit her teeth and glare at the smug sarcasm that filled his voice. "Could it be the fact that Victor considers you an annoyance to be dealt with, and would just as soon see you dead?" He paused again thoughtfully, ignoring her angry glare. "Or could it have been the fact that Tony views you as a joke, a pawn to be used in his plans with nary a thought to what it'll cost you."

"And I repeat the question. I'd be better off with you in possession of my soul, how?"

"Because Sami, at times I may hate you, but I don't want to see you dead, and I certainly don't view you as a laughing matter." He stroked her cheek gently again, but this time she didn't pull away. I won't give him the satisfaction of knowing that it bothers me. "Besides, I think my terms would be a little less…harsh than Victor's." He looked into her eyes and she was suprised to see tenderness there. "You called me a coward once Sami, and I guess you were right."

"They say that all men kill the things they love, and that a coward does it with a kiss. That I guess makes me a coward. Because I killed the things I loved. And it all started with a kiss, because I was too damn stupid to know another way to show you that I cared. I don't regret it. How could I when it brought me Will? But I do regret my cowardice. I stood by and watched your life be torn apart once, because I was stupid and afraid. I won't let it happen again. I want to help you Sami."

He stroked her wrists gently and asked: "Now can I take these off? Or do you still want to kill me?"

"I'm sure it's only temporary, so don't let it go to your head, but for the moment…No, I don't want to kill you."

A small smile crossed his face, and she knew it not to be one of happiness. It was instead an expression of momentary acceptance. "Well it's progress." He produced the keys to the handcuffs, and moved to unlock them. "Now remember, you promised to be civil." He removed the handcuffs from her wrists and rubbed the bruised flesh gently, none too pleased at the red marks he saw there. He knew that he hadn't cuffed her that tightly, so it must have been the henchman. "I'm sorry…I didn't intend to have this happen. I'm going to have to have a talk with--" He paused running through the names of Victor's henchmen in his mind. "Asta. Any other batter scars I should know about?"

"No." If you only knew Lucas. Hell I've got battle scars running so deep I don't even know where they stop yet. "Now get to the point. What do you want?"

"Come on." He gestured for her to follow him with a slight incline of his head. He led her to a couch and motioned for her to sit down. He sat down beside her turning towards her with one leg underneath him. She looked at him quizzically trying to figure out what it was that this strange behavior was leading too. "Turn around."

"And I should turn my back on you why?"

"Because I'm holding all the cards here, and it's a simple enough request." He saw a flare of anger in her eyes at the reminder, but she regained composer rather quickly. He was impressed by the restraint that she'd learned in recent years, the wild child he'd first met had finally grown into the glorious woman that he always knew she'd be. He smiled as she turned away from him in a huff, and shook his head at the ease of which he'd predicted the course of the evening events, because just as he suspected he met with weak resistance when he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. The fact that she resisted at all gave him proof that the battles with Victor had not killed her spirit, and the weakness of it showed him that she wasn't willing to risk angering him until she knew what it was she was up against.

He stretched out, pulling her along with him until both were stretched out full length on the couch, with him on the bottom and her facing away from him, trying in vain to ignore the fact that his arms were resting on her shoulders and around her waist effectively trapping her. His hand traced soft circles on her stomach and collar bone and finally the rigid posture that she wanted to maintain was stripped away by the alien feeling of comfort and safety that his arms provided for the moment. It had been so long since she'd been able to relax, so long since she'd been able to let her guard down.

She had only thought that her life was difficult when Victor was keeping her from Brandon, and threatening her with unknown dangers when he wed Nicole. Things had gotten so much worse when she'd discovered Brandon's infidelity and turned him out of her life. This had led him to drink, when led him to get into a street fight, which got him killed. At least that's how Nicole had viewed it.

Never mind that the only reason Brandon had been with Lexie that night was that Nicole had made Sami break her date with Brandon. Never mind that she'd been thrilled to realize that Sami was no longer in his life. Never mind that she didn't pour the beer down his throat or coax him to fight. Never mind that Sami hadn't been the one to leave him to bleed to death in an alley. Never mind that to the rest of the world Brandon was still alive and perfectly healthy because Nicole couldn't bear to tell her mother and Taylor the truth.

No it was still all Sami's fault. Never mind the facts that said differently. Nicole had been no threat on her own, but Victor's reaction to her grief had been deadly. And it had only gotten worse when Nicole was caught in an affair that she managed to convince Victor that she never would have had if she hadn't been grieving over her brothers death, so that too was ultimately Sami's fault as well.

Her only salvation through out this long time was the fact that Lucas controlled the custody of Will. Victor would have gladly backed him if he'd tried to take him away from her entirely, but for some unknown reason he hadn't tried. That was the only part of her life that hadn't been shaken. She'd been threatened with the loss of her job, she'd been kidnapped short term to let her know just what Victor could make happen if he chose, she'd been randomly drugged, and the cruelest manipulation of all he'd made her choose between Eric and Will.

During one of the short stints that she'd been kidnapped he'd had her brought to a hidden room somewhere in Salem. There were two monitors in a wall, and the shark like smile that he gave her when he entered chilled her blood. Something horrendous was going to happen today. She just didn't know what it was. She would remember the words that he'd said that day for the rest of her life, months later she would still have nightmares about that day. The terror of that choice surpassed everything that she'd ever faced. It was worse than being raped, it was worse than being imprisoned, it was worse than thinking that she herself was going to die.

"I've heard you and Eric have a special bond Sami. So special in fact that you feel each others pain." He'd smiled as she paled. "And I know what a special bond you have with Will. It just so happens, I'm in a generous mood today. It's time for you to be punished Sami, but I'm going to give you a choice. A choice of which means more to you. Will or Eric."

"You monster. How could you…How could I—I can't. I can't choose between my baby and my brother."

"Very well. Then you'll lose them both." He raised his hand to single one of his henchmen. On the screens two pictures appeared. Will and Eric. Both through the sights of a sniper rifle. Oh God. He's going to kill them while I watch.

"No…Please no." Her voice dropped to a whisper, and thickened with tears.

"Make a choice Sami. Make a choice or you lose them both."

She closed her eyes, and shook her head trying to make it go away. She could feel the part of her that was connected to Eric, pulsing and alive, a bit of comfort in turbulent times. Soothing and constant no matter where he was in the country or on the planet she still could feel him, and she knew he was there. She couldn't bear to think of losing him. It hurt too much, but losing Will and knowing it was her fault was inconceivable. She couldn't allow the light that burned in his eyes to be snuffed out. She knew Eric would understand, knew he would die for her sake or Will's. But it didn't make the choice any easier.

"Kill me, but please God don't make me choose between them?"

"No Sami. I'm not going to kill you. That would be too kind. I want you to have to live with the pain of your choice. The grief of losing a loved one. So who will it be Sami. Eric or Will?"

She looked helplessly back and forth between the monitors. Trying to memorize every nuance of Eric's face, praying for a miracle. A last second salvation, something, anything. But nothing came. "Very well, since it seems you can't choose I'll just kill them both."

"Nooo! Please…Eric! Take Eric! Just please don't hurt my baby!" She sank to her knees in tears, and he nodded.

"Very well…Eric it is then. But close your eyes or look away, and I swear I'll kill them both."

She sobbed. Oh God, Eric please forgive me. Forgive me. She could hear the trigger being pulled back on the rifle, she could hear the order being given. She watched as the man pulled the trigger. And she watched as the sight on the rifle centered on Eric's heart. His honest, loving heart that had never truly hated, the heart that had beaten along with her's since the moment of her conception. The heart that she'd just ordered stopped.

She heard the click of the trigger. Waited…waited for the bullet to hit him, waited for him to fall. Waited to feel that gossamer thread that connected her to him snapped. Waited to see his life blood spill out upon the cold undeserving ground. She waited. She prayed. She waited. But nothing happened. There was no blood, the connection was still there, he did not fall, and the bullet never hit him.

She'd though it was a trick, thought that maybe instead she'd condemned her son instead with her choice. But a glance towards him told him that he to was still fine, and blissfully unaware of the choice his mother had just made. Then Victor's cruel laughter pierced the air. "Now Sami, do you really think I'd be so quick to end our little game? I think not. There's lots of other things I can do. Thank you, you've provided a quite entertaining diversion. We'll have to try this again sometime, I'll be in touch."

He'd signaled his men, and the foul smelling cloth came over her face. When she next woke she was lying, nearly naked on the floor of her apartment. Guess the sicko bastards got a peep show while they were at it. She couldn't bring her self to care, all she could do was curl in fetal position and cry. When she had no more tears she'd made her way to the bathroom where she'd retched until she was overtaken by dry heaves. Then she'd laid her forehead on the cold porcelain and sobbed some more.

After a few days she'd managed to pull herself together enough to shower and get dressed, and she even made it to work. Of course she didn't get much done, but she made it. She cried in the bathroom on her lunch break, and no amount of makeup could hide the dark circles under her eyes or the tear stains on her face. But she'd made it. It was a small victory. But those were all she had left now. She couldn't let him win. If she did Will would be all alone, and it wouldn't take much for him to fall into the claws of the mad man.

It'd been weeks since that day, and she'd almost started to hope that he'd forgotten about her. That everything was going to be ok. Then she'd gotten a call from Lucas. She'd felt a small spark of hope when she'd received the call. After all as far as she knew he wasn't working with Victor, and comparatively speaking he'd been kind. When he tried to kill her at least he'd been quick about it, instead of trying to drive her slowly insane.

Then if she was completely honest, he probably hadn't been trying to kill those times either, Kate and Victor were far more likely villains in those schemes. But her hopes were dashed when she was picked up of the street to be brought to him. Oh god even Lucas is working with Victor. What will I do now?

He smiled when he felt her relax against him, only to frown again when she whimpered. He knew that she wouldn't let any sign of discomfort show unless she just couldn't avoid it. He wasn't holding her tightly enough to hurt her, he knew that. Unless she'd been hurt when she'd been brought here, and didn't see fit to tell him when he'd asked earlier. Well if that was the case then when he asked her now she'd probably lie. Well there's one way to find out. He squeezed her a little more tightly, and waited for a reaction. No protest followed.

Ok so it's not physical pain. That would mean it would have to be emotional, but what is it? He thought for a moment, and paled as it hit him. Alan. She's still having flash backs of Alan. He kicked himself mentally as he thought about it, the location was right, and with a few modifications physical position could be right as well. He dropped his arms from her quickly as if he'd been burned. The last thing he ever wanted to do was to remind her of that bastard.

It suprised him that she didn't automatically pull away from him. Instead she turned and buried her head in his neck, taking comfort in his warmth and presence as she'd done in the past. Her soft whisper broke through his shock. "Lucas?"

"Yes, Sami?"

"Are you working with Victor?"

"You mean besides Titan?" She nodded wordlessly against him, and he felt her tense in preparation of his answer. "No baby, I'm not." He was in no way prepared for what happened next. She whispered something that sounded a lot like 'thank god', and the proceed to cling to him and cry. He slowly embraced her shuddering form, awed that for whatever reason that she had suddenly decided that she could trust him enough to cry in his presence. He pondered and tried to remember the last time that she'd showed that much weakness in front of him.

He whispered soft words of comforted, and offered soothing caresses, all the while wondering what could reduce this woman to tears in front of him. What could it be that would bring her to him in search of comfort? He shuddered realizing just how much it would take to break her down to this point. Anything that could do this to her, the strongest woman he knew, well it was worth being cautious about. "Sh-sh. It's going to be alright sweetheart. It's going to be ok."

Finally she quieted, and lay spent against him. He looked down at her and gently tilted her chin up so that she was looking at him. There was a frightened look in her eyes, and she resembled very closely a haunted being. Seeing her like this, so vulnerable and trusting of him, aroused every protective instinct that he'd ever had and a few that he hadn't realized were present until this very moment. She'd asked if he were working with Victor earlier, that had to mean that he was the one responsible for this. "What the hell did he do to you?"

She buried her face in his shoulder again and trembled, hoping that he wouldn't make her tell him. It felt so safe here, like all those times that he'd comforted her in the past. She'd pushed those memories so far back in her mind that she convinced herself that they'd never happened. That is, until something like this happened. Until her world fell apart and he was seemingly there to help her pick up the pieces. Then she knew the memories she'd hidden away to be truth, not some half imagined dream. She tried to get even closer to him, and wondered why she'd let the best friendship she'd ever had fall apart.

He felt her trembling again, and a primal part of him that he didn't even want to acknowledge declared Victor dead. Dead for bringing this beautiful, vibrant woman to such a point that she trembled and cried in his arm. Dead for hurting the woman who was supposed to be by his side, his mate. "Sami, it's alright baby. Stop crying honey. It's going to be alright I promise. What ever it is I'll help you. What ever is scaring you, I'll protect you."

He cradled her in his arms and rocked her, much the same way that she'd rocked Will when he was sick or frightened. Finally she drifted off to sleep in his arms, and he placed a soft kiss on her forehead. What ever he's done to you Sami, I swear he'll pay for it. I'll protect you this time, I promise I will.


AN: Thoughts or comments on this story will be greatly appreciated.