A/N- Thanks as always to ScopesMonkey. She's an amazing cheerleader, friend, and beta. Thanks.
Warning – This story will contain some very dark imagery, drug use, and descriptions of mild torture. It wills also more than likely hint at a sexual relationship between two male characters. Consider yourself warned.
Disclaimer – I do not own.
A Bitter Draught
Hatred is blind; rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.
― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo
It was the soft ping of rain that he focused on in the moment before he opened his eyes. He lay still while his eyes made a full circle of the area that was visible to him. There was small ray of weak daylight streaming in from a high window across from him, but the rest of the room was mostly dark. His imagination was creating an odd series of men and monsters watching him from the shadows, making his heart rate jump before he dismissed the panic by closing his eyes.
"Ridiculous," he said aloud, his voice echoing in the empty area. He took several steadying breaths, calming himself before trying to shift onto his back. It was a mistake.
"Oh god," he mumbled, his head throbbing. The room spun behind his closed lids and he managed to turn his head just before he got sick. His throat burned as the retching filled his ears as his stomach seized, trying to reject contents that it did not contain. His body shook with the violence of it before he managed to open his eyes and focus on the small circle of light on the floor. The unmoving spot of illumination gave his mind the stability it needed, and after a moment his stomach calmed.
The rain increased, the drops pounding against metal and glass. He tried to push the sounds away; listening to them was making his stomach churn again. His eyes stayed locked on the small circle of light as he shifted again to settle on his back. The floor was damp and cold beneath him, pressing into his skin through his shirt and his jacket. It was uncomfortable, but not enough to make him move. He looked at the light for a long time, stabilizing himself until his eyes finally drifted closed.
It didn't feel like a long time had passed as he opened his eyes. Daylight was still streaming in through the far off window, the small, perfect circle was still on the floor. The rain had stopped, and the smell of damp and ozone came slowly to him.
He wondered if he'd slept again. Although not warm, the temperature of the floor was no longer uncomfortable. He turned his head slightly, carefully. He didn't want to get sick again. When the nausea didn't come, he slowly managed to push himself into sitting position. His head ached as he stilled himself and he took several gasping breaths, the exertion momentarily overpowering him. He had vague sense of a wall close to him and shifted his body slowly so he was sitting against it. His head was throbbing even more, the pressure pushing from the inside out, but as he sat in the darkness, he silently confirmed that he was done vomiting.
He let his eyes trail up the single ray of light and focused on the window high above him. He tried to assess the distance, but the contrast of the darkness and the light distorted the reality. He'd have believed it was ten stories or simply a few yards. He squinted, focusing on the glass. It was broken, sharp shards jutting out from all four corners.
He took a deep breath and let his eyes wander around the rest of the space. There wasn't much to make out, but it seemed like some sort of warehouse. The single window, smell of wood, and sounds of metal didn't seem to fit with anything else he could imagine. He focused on the window again, seeing light but not sky beyond. There were also momentary flashes, small movements his mind couldn't reconcile.
"It's dripping," he said into the silence, recognizing a drop of moisture as it fell off one of the shards and into the warehouse. He heard the soft drop of moisture on moisture this time, the sound barely discernible in the deafening silence.
He waited until he heard it again, setting the pattern in his head. He'd know when to expect it without having to see the drop fall. He smiled, his jaw stiff and sore with the movement. The sound was a constant, something connecting him to the world outside that window.
He found comfort in that, but was uncertain as to why.
He reached out with his left hand, aware that even though it didn't hurt there was something wrong with his right side. His fingers brushed then closed over something hard and cold - metal he thought - and tried to lift the object. It wouldn't budge, and he lacked the strength to strain himself. He loosened his grip, but didn't let go and, leaned his head gently back against the wall.
I wonder where I am? he thought vaguely, closing his eyes and slipping into sleep again.
He started as something ran across his hand, suddenly awake as his whole body flinched away from the sensation. He gasped and slammed his head against something hard. A fresh wave of nausea swept over him and he brought his eyes up to focus on the circle of light. It was gone, leaving him in darkness. He felt a rush of panic before the sound of small scurrying feet grounded him in the moment.
"Rats," he said, and, as if on cue, the quiet chirping noises of rodents reached his ears. "Bloody rats."
He straightened again, his eyes following the absent stream of light up to the window far about him. He could make out the slight distortion of color between the pitch black and the mostly-black that made up the outline of the window. There were no stars visible, nor the moon for that matter, but he found comfort in the fact that the window was still there.
He focused on the scurrying again, of tiny feet moving at a frantic pace around the large space, overlapping before moving in different directions. It bled into the background, almost soothing him back to sleep before the loud crash startled him. The rats had wrecked something. It sounded like a combination of wood and metal slamming to the floor, echoing through his aching head as bile filled the back of his throat.
Water would help, he thought, and the thought stirred a need buried in his belly. He was thirsty, unbelievably so, parched and desperate. He groped blindly for a moment, wondering if he had something, but managed to calm himself before the panic rose.
He needed to get out of here.
"Up," he said, forcing a tone of determination into the command. His body wasn't impressed. When it didn't immediately respond, he took a deep breath and planted his palms into the concrete by his thighs. It was cold as he forced his weight onto his muscles and pulled himself up. With both feet flat on the floor the room spun and he steadied himself against the wall. It was uneven and rough to the touch. He felt little peaks and grooves digging into his palm and frowned in confusion before coming up with bricks. The wall must be made of brick. He curled his fingertips against the surface, as if to confirm, before he tried to stand straight again.
He took a steadying breath and shuffled forward in a wobbly half step. When he didn't trip over anything he took another cautious step.
He could see no obstacles in front of him, but kept his pace slow. The small steps also made the darkness more bearable, and somehow less imposing. They kept him calm. He kept his left hand against the wall, his fingers brushing over the bricks with each step. His brain noticed every slight change, the texture, the temperature, the moisture. It varied, but never altered enough to indicate a door or other type of exit. It was just brick, a continuous wall of bricks.
He didn't count his steps, but was aware that he'd actually walked quite distance, when he reached a corner. His fingers traced over the different surfaces, brick meeting concrete. The new wall was smooth and even cooler to the touch. He took a cautious step in the new direction and kicked something hard and heavy. It moved at the contact, crashing against the floor.
Wood, he thought as the room went silent again except for the renewed scurrying. He cringed at the sounds of the rats, the thought of them making his stomach clench again. It sounded like there were hundreds of them. He could almost feel the thousands of beady red eyes staring at him, watching him, evaluating whether this larger two legged creature was a danger to them or to be ignored. It was disgusting and terrifying at the same time.
He reached out with his foot, encountering nothing with his next step. He was relieved and managed to take another. It was ridiculous, he knew, but everything felt different on this wall. It was almost like his gut didn't trust the smooth, perfect surface. It felt like a different room, a different space. He felt lost and he tried not to be terrified.
He looked upwards again, almost panicking in the moment before he spotted the slight alteration of color that indicated his window. There were still no stars, but he imagined that he could make out a faint sliver of the moon, visible in the bottom corner. If he continued, he might be able to see it properly.
And, after all, there had to be a door.