Things quickly returned to normal for Gabriel, at least the kind of normal he had before Damon. He went back to school and quickly caught up on his work; everyone was willing to make allowances for him, and his marks of earlier in the year were taken into account. He easily passed his final exams and started to apply for universities at his parents' insistence.
He went out with his friends and spent time with his brothers. He did all the things he used to do and except for the odd time when he would drift off in the middle of a conversation, a strange look crossing his face, there was nothing anyone could point to as the result of him having been traumatised by his ordeal.
The therapists eventually told his parents that unless he remembered, there was nothing they could do and that he seemed fine.
The police eventually stopped bothering him, coming to the conclusion that the boy truly wasn't hiding anything, but that he just couldn't remember.
His family stopped walking on eggshells around him, and life at home quickly went back to what it was before Damon.
At night thought, the nightmares came. They had started as soon as he got back home, and came almost every night. It was always a variation of the same theme. He would be waiting for Damon in the small room like he did the first time the man disappeared, but he never came. He would be waiting for Damon in front of the door like he did the night he came back early, but he never came. He would be waiting, and Damon wouldn't come. He woke up to hear himself scream Damon's name more than once and would thank god that his room was on the far side of the house.
He often went back to the alley where Damon had taken him, and sometimes he'd sit there for hours, twisting the ring around his finger and seeing his time with Damon flicker past the insides of his closed eyes like scenes from a movie.
Damon in his suit; the first night he came down to the basement.
Damon in jeans and a t-shirt; making dinner for them.
Damon sleeping peacefully in bed next to him.
Damon laughing at something Gabriel had said.
Damon smiling at him.
Damon serious; telling Gabriel about why he'd taken him.
Damon holding his arms open for Gabriel to run into.
Damon dripping wet and naked as he got out of the bath.
Damon tired at the end of a long day at work.
Damon leaning over him; his face beautiful in ecstasy as he came inside of Gabriel's body.
Gabriel thought about getting a summer job after school finished, but his parents wanted him to enjoy his freedom while he still had the chance. He didn't really care either way. All he cared about was Damon. He kept on going over every conversation they had as he wandered aimlessly around the city, trying to figure out if Damon had ever really wanted him, or if he was just toying with him the whole time. His thoughts kept going around in circles; never coming to any conclusion.
He almost walked past the jeweller, but for some reason a ring in the window caught his eye. It was a plain silver coloured band, thick and wide, and it looked a little like platinum, only darker. Gabriel stared at it for a while, before making his way inside and asking the sales lady about it.
It was Titanium, she told him, the metal that was used on spacecraft, since it was so light, yet incredibly strong. They had to use a diamond blade to cut and shape it, since nothing else was hard enough to work it. Gabriel was staring at the ring lying on his palm as he listened to her go on and on about it. He slipped it onto the middle finger of his right hand.
"I'll take it." He said.
The woman continued for a bit before realising that he'd spoken. "I'm sorry?"
"I said I'd take it." Gabriel repeated, holding out his debit card. He didn't really care how much it cost, he just needed to have it.
"Lovely." The woman gushed. "Not nearly as expensive as gold, but so durable."
Gabriel tuned her out as he stared at the ring on his finger. Something was nagging at him, something Damon had said to him shortly after he'd taken him, but he couldn't remember what it was. He held up both his hands and looked from the ring on his left hand to the new one on his right. 'Heart and Soul' he thought to himself.
When Gabriel got home, there was an invitation on the table in the foyer. He immediately recognised the Ashcroft family crest. He'd seen it a thousand times in Damon's home, and since he'd gotten back, he noticed the name Damon Ashcroft everywhere. On the cover of a magazine, on the news, in the business section of the paper. It seemed Damon Ashcroft was a very well-known figure, but Gabriel just never noticed until he had reason to. The invitation was for a formal dinner the following evening. He stared at the impersonal piece of paper for a moment before laying it back down on the table and heading upstairs. He was tired and he didn't feel like joining his family for dinner, so after a quick shower he went to bed.
That night, the nightmare started again, but this time, he was sitting in the corner of the small empty room Damon had first taken him to; he knew that he was waiting for the man to come for him and he'd just started to feel the now familiar dream panic that Damon wouldn't come, when the door opened, revealing Damon as he'd been that first night, coming in to lean casually against the door. Gabriel was still staring at him when he started to speak.
"I believe the true definition of hell is the state of deprivation. There is no greater pain than being separated from that upon which you depend for your very existence; of being deprived of that which feeds your soul. I expect to break you, Gabriel. I will completely destroy everything that makes you who you are, and then I will allow you to rebuild yourself."
The next morning when Gabriel woke up, the words Damon had spoken to him so many months ago and then repeated the previous night in his dream were still echoing through his head.
Lying in bed, hearing the words over and over, he suddenly realised why Damon never bothered to hide his identity from him. In the relatively short time Gabriel had been with him, Damon had become his entire reason for living, and Damon had known this. For the first time in months, a genuine smile crossed his face, one that finally reached his eyes.
His parents immediately realised that something had changed. The old Gabriel was back; the lively boy they thought had been forever replaced by the serious, sad boy they kept getting glimpses of through his attempts at normalcy over the past few months.
Over lunch, his mom eventually couldn't hold in her curiosity any longer. "What happened? You seem happy today, more like the old Gabe we knew."
Gabriel just smiled and shook his head.
"Come on Gabe, something must have triggered this." His dad asked.
Gabriel stared down at the ring on his left hand before looking up at them. "I found my centre."
"Your centre?" His mom repeated.
"What do you mean?" She continued, frowning.
"It doesn't matter. But I will be happy now."
His parents looked at each other and decided to leave it at that, not willing to push him too much, and his dad changed the subject. "Gabe, we'll be going to Mr Ashcroft's dinner tonight. Will you be okay on your own?"
Gabriel had to struggle not to let his face reveal what was going through his head at the mention of Damon.
"Sure. I'll just go out to a movie or something and then grab some pizza on the way back. What time does it start?"
"Eight for eight-thirty, so we'll probably be really late getting back." His mom answered.
"Where is his house?" Gabriel asked casually, a plan beginning to form in his mind.
"You know that large Plantation style house on Lillith street? Well that's his."
Gabriel smiled and nodded. He knew the place, he'd driven past it a hundred times, even after Damon had let him go, never realising who lived there.
It was just after eleven when Gabriel parked his car about half a block away from Damon's house. He made his way around to the kitchen, knowing that the doors would probably be open while the catering staff were working there. He waited until the kitchen was empty, before quickly slipping through and opening the door leading to the hallway that led up to Damon's private wing of the house. The man had taken him on a tour of the house one evening shortly before he'd woken up in the hospital, so he knew his way around the place. Reaching the door to Damon's rooms without encountering anyone, he quickly punched the code into the keypad. He'd seen Damon entering it shortly after he'd moved upstairs and he suspected that Damon had known that he'd seen it. He left the door partway open and headed for the study where he turned on the large monitor and switched the view to the small room Damon had first left him in. He then made his way towards the staircase leading down to the basement. He knew that he had a total of two minutes before the open door would trigger the alarm on Damon's wristwatch. Down in the basement, he turned on the light in the small room and closed the door behind him before settling in the corner, his hands wrapped around his body and his knees drawn up to his chest. Then he waited.
Damon was tired, the dinner had gone well as always, the thirty or so people there all enjoyed themselves, but he was glad that most of them had already gone. He was just greeting the few remaining guests, when the alarm on his wristwatch went off. Frowning, he looked down at the small screen. It showed the code for his private rooms. He excused himself as politely as possible, and headed upstairs. For a moment, as he stood in front of the half open door, he considered calling the police, but something stopped him. Heading into the rooms, he quickly scanned the living room and the kitchen, before walking into the bedroom from where he immediately noticed that the lights in the study were on. Damon froze as he saw the image on the monitor. For a moment, he thought someone had put in one of his old videos of Gabriel, but then he noticed that the boy was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, while the only time he was ever in that room before, he'd been wearing his school uniform. Damon felt his heart speed up as he stared at the image on the screen for a moment longer before spinning around on his heels and running towards the stairs. He only slowed down when he reached the bottom step, and then took a few deep breaths before heading for the far end of the basement.
Opening the door, he stepped in and closed it behind him again before leaning back against the door, crossing his arms over his chest. The boy showed no sign that he'd heard Damon come in. The man stared at him for a long while before speaking.
The boy slowly looked up at him and shifted. Damon immediately noticed the ring on his left hand when he moved.
Gabriel spoke softly, but clearly. "You broke me, just like you said you would. You let me rebuild myself around you, and then you left me in hell. Months of hell, separated from you, from the reason I existed, from the very air I had to breathe."
"I know." Damon nodded.
Gabriel pointed over to the corner where Damon had left the bottled water on his first night. "I left something for you."
Damon slowly straightened and walked over to the corner where he bent down to pick up the ring. He twirled it around in his hands for a moment before slipping it onto the ring finger of his left hand.
"It's ..." Gabriel started.
"... Titanium. I know." Damon interrupted.
The stared at each other for a minute before Gabriel stood up and spoke again. "I've come to give you my soul, Damon. It is already yours, you only have to take it."
"Angel boy." Damon smiled as he held open his arms, catching the boy who hurled himself against his chest.
AN: I haven't updated in ages, but here you go. A very short story, but I couldn't see any reason to drag it out any more. I managed to do everything I needed and I have to say I'm pretty pleased with the outcome of this piece. I'd love to hear what everyone thought now that it is all done.
Thanks to disgusteddiscussion, Fangbanger, house of flies, Night's Freedom, writingright, MostFrantic – all your reviews are fantastically inspiring.
Yeah, this is basically an exploration of Stockholm Syndrome – I've researched quite a bit on the subject, and I wanted to see if I could turn it into something romantic – still dark and a bit sick, but romantic none-the-less.
Love to everyone who read this one.