A/N: It was time for this one to return and for me to get back to writing!

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CH-18

OBSCURUM

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She leaned against the wall, chin up towards the ceiling, eyes on the meek patterns, wondering what time of day it was. Her hands pressed against the wall behind her, her bare feet felt cold against the basement floor. She tried to imagine the sky above as a brilliant blue with no clouds in sight. The look of a meadow blowing in the wind. The smell of a fresh cut grass. The sound of a bicycle bell ringing. These were the things Lana Winters missed. The things she never thought she would take for granted.

Her eyes fell downcast upon the mattress that she had slept on for what seemed like endless nights. One after another. They came and went, or so she guessed. The minutes felt long and the hours even so. The clock he had brought her had stopped working. He promised he would bring another but never did.

In the beginning she had begged and cried for her freedom. She had bargained so many things but he never budged. He didn't want anything else in the world that wasn't her. After the begging and the bargaining came the rage and the violence. She had tried countless times to fight for her freedom but he was always faster, always stronger, always one step ahead.

Depression followed after. Days where she lied on the mattress, curled in a ball, eyes vacant and dry. They stared at nothing in particular. He hated this the most. He hated seeing her so lifeless and miserable and tried to tempt her into smiles and laughter. He brought her snacks and gifts but the snacks went uneaten and the gifts were ignored. Those days were the darkest for Lana. And possibly for Oliver as well.

"I just want you to be happy." He told her as he knelt next to her, "Lana, please just look at me. Say something."

The silence continued for days. He raged and raved and pleaded and demanded but nothing made her budge. Only the sweet angel of death could move her.

After days without proper food and water, she began to deny that it was all real. She swore to herself up and down that it was a nightmare and she would soon wake in her bed, safe at home. But the nightmare never ended and soon she began to accept her new reality.

The basement walls became her home and the mattress on the floor was her safe haven. She read the books he brought her by candlelight and tried her best to emerge herself in other worlds that weren't her own. Then when he visited, she listened to his rambles and words of a future together but it all sounded like the static sound of a broken television or the scratch on a record. Lana did not know for how long she had been down there, she did not know if the police were searching for her or if they were close to finding her.

What she did know was that she hated Oliver.

Lana looked up when she heard the sound of footsteps above her. She had tried screaming for hours on end but no one ever came to help her. All she managed was to strain her voice and disappoint herself.

Lana slowly slid down the wall, the metal chain around her ankle clinked. The skin around her ankle was red and bleeding. She had been yanking at it again. Lana already knew that Oliver wouldn't be too pleased about it; he had already mended it many times but she didn't care. She'd rub her skin raw if it meant freedom.

The door to the basement opened and Lana heard his footsteps coming down the staircase. She turned her body to the side, not in the mood to look at his face. She found that he cut his visits short the less she engaged with him. She just was not in the mood to deal with his calm and upbeat nature.

"Hi, Lana."

Lana grew tense at the sound of his voice but kept her gaze at bay. His voice had deepened over time and his features slowly left the young baby face of a school boy. How Lana wished she knew exactly how long she had been down in that basement.

She heard the rustling of a paper bag and Oliver made his way to the table he had brought down to the basement along with two chairs. "I brought you some things."

Lana fought the curiosity to peak and see what he had brought her. She hoped he had brought a new book or even a damned puzzle; the boredom was starting to drive her insane. Still, she kept her eyes to the wall ahead where she had started to peel the paint off. A little mound of paint chips gathered at the bottom.

He rustled through the bag and brought a few things out. "Don't you want to see what I brought you?"

Lana turned her head away from him and brought her knees closer to her chest. There was his answer. She heard him sigh and already knew the look upon his face.

"I guess you don't want your birthday present then…" his voice lingered in that reverse psychology tone he used on her so often.

Lana felt her body freeze and her heart accelerated. She felt the all too familiar heat fill her ears and her face. Slowly, she felt herself looking up to meet Oliver's gaze.

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"M-my birthday?"

There it was. The beautiful sound of her voice. It was the first time Oliver had heard it in weeks. She had been so stubborn and silent; a sort of silent strike against her new reality and Oliver understood. He didn't think she would be there so willing and eager to please. It would take Lana a very long time to come to terms with her new life at his side.

He stepped forth with a nod. "Yes. Didn't think I forgot, did you?"

Lana's dark honey eyes stayed on him, her plump lips parted in slight disbelief. He could see the emotion quivering in her eyes and felt his heart melt. It would be so easy to give her the world but she gave a fight so strong that left him bereft. "It- it's my birthday today?"

"It is." he confirmed and a look of loss quickly filled those eyes as they landed downcast upon the mattress she slept on. "Hey, hey, it's alright." Oliver knelt down in front of the mattress, "It's a good thing."

He could see the emotion in her eyes. The thoughts were quickly registering in her mind; she was counting back the time in her head and had realized how long she had been there with him. She pressed her lips together and a tear rolled down her cheek. A strong wave of frustration crashed inside of Oliver. He hated seeing Lana so distressed. How he wished she would just accept their fate together and move on from such negative feelings.

Oliver raised his hand in attempts to touch her but she flinched and pushed herself against the wall. Oliver pulled his hand back and cleared his throat. He brought the present out from behind his back and handed it to her. "Here. I saw this in town and knew you'd like it."

Lana was hesitant to take the pink box with the red bow but took it. She opened it and pulled out the oval music box. It was gold, baby blue and white with carved golden stars. Lana's eyes gazed upon the music box and with her fingers she gently opened it to reveal a white carousel horse with a red and gold saddle. Oliver swore to himself that he saw a small glimpse of happiness in her eyes but it was quickly drowned by more tears. The little tune played, breaking the tension in the basement.

"Do you like it?" He asked her, wanting to hear her voice again.

Lana nodded softly. "Thank you." She whispered and hid her eyes from him.

Oliver attempted to smile. "How about you get up and join me at the table. You like cake, don't you?"

She held the music box to her chest. "I'm not hungry." She muttered.

Oliver exhaled. He didn't know what was worse, her kicking and screaming or her silence and disinterest. "You should join me." His tone was serious and low. He could see the goosebumps that rose in the skin of her arms.

He had not hurt her. He hadn't dared to do so and did not wish to do so. He had fought against it even when she tried to choke him with the chair around her ankle in her stubborn efforts to escape. Nor when she bit him for the third time. He had lost his temper and scolded her but he had not hit her. Touching her, however, had proved to be a temptation that ate him alive.

His eyes stayed on the peachy skin of Lana's arms and he felt the excitement fill him. The tips of his fingers tingled and he longed to reach out and touch her. He had been so patient with her, so patient he could feel the desperation start to creep in. He knew that sooner or later he would give in.

"Please." Even he could hear the hunger in his voice.

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Lana sat quietly at the table. The piece of cake sat half eaten and that was good enough for Oliver. He had brought along with it some other snacks, sandwiches, a new book and a card game.

"I'm sorry you have to be here for your birthday." Oliver spoke up after a long moment of uninterrupted silence. "Maybe next year will be better."

"Will I still be here next year?" She asked. Her voice was low, almost timid.

Oliver sighed. "Maybe not here, but we'll be together."

He saw the way she tensed up and swore he could see fire raging in her eyes for a split second. She placed her plastic fork on the table and stood from her chair. "Thank you." Was all she said to him before she retreated back to the mattress.

Oliver watched her with steady eyes. "Wait." He spoke up again, "Aren't you going to make a birthday wish?" Her answer made him wish he had never asked her.

"I wish you'd let me die."