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Chapter 120: "Stay strong."

For the first time since he had been captured, Shane wished he were dead.

He had no idea how or when, but Vasquez's men had upgraded their torture handbook. Someone had finally taught them about stress positions. Shane just wished they were not practicing them on him.  He had been dragged out of the pantry and brought to this room, where he had been forced to stand with his arms tied above his head.  If he stood, the rope would be slack, but after hours of standing like that, his legs would cramp and give out.  The rope was not long enough for him to kneel, so his full weight came down on his shoulders.

Shane groaned as he struggled weakly to climb back to his feet and move his arms to take some of the strain off his shoulders.  He had lost feeling in his arms much earlier, but even the slightest motion caused a stabbing pain to lance through his upper body.  And as he tried to regain circulation, the rope bit deep into his wrists.  Then his legs gave out again and he fell forwards, and his shoulders threatened to rip from their sockets.

"Just let it end," he whispered, not sure if the words even formed.  He might have just said it in his head.  His mind had been playing tricks on him for these past . . . well, it had to be a few days, he thought.  He figured that from the guards.  They cycled in and out, probably on shift changes, and took turns beating him with their fists and a rubber hose that lay on the floor by the door.  

His head hung weakly and he tried to study the swirls in the concrete floor.  Just something to make his mind keep working.  But he could not get his eyes to focus well enough.  It had been days since he had slept; trussed like this, sleep was impossible and the few times he had passed out from pain, the guards had woken him.  

Food also had been nonexistent since his recapture, but hunger barely registered.  Shane also knew, even with his addled brain, that the guards would feed him eventually.  It was like with the water.  The guards only gave him trickles of water, not enough to sate his thirst, but enough to keep him alive.  That told him Victor's orders still controlled.

Damn, Victor Kiriakis, he thought.  And damn his orders.  Better to be dead than to cling to life like this.  He had tried.  He had fought for more than a year.  He had tried to escape.  

It was time to accept that it was over.  It was time to give in.

He heard a noise by the door, and Shane raised his head slightly, even though it sent sharp pain through his neck and shoulders.  His vision was still blurred, and he struggled to make out the figure who approached him.

"Stay strong, my love," said a soft voice that Shane recognized immediately.  Kim.  But how could Kim be there?  

He tried to ask, but his throat was so dry, no words came out.  For a moment, his vision cleared and he could see her.  She seemed like she was in pain, and he could see the tears that caused her eyes to shine even in the dimly lit room.  Shane wanted to reach out and caress her, but when he moved even a little, the sharp pain caused him to cry out.

Kim moved closer to him and he could almost feel her breath on his face.  Shane knew she was not really there.  It had to be the lack of sleep and food.  A hallucination. But she seemed so real.  He could smell her perfume -- the kind he bought for her in Paris on their honeymoon -- and her hair brushed his cheek as she turned.  

"Keep fighting, Shane," the vision urged.  "We both have to fight."

Both?  Shane did not understand. He struggled to speak, finally rasping the a single word.  "Kim?"

"I'm here, my love," she said.  "You need to hang on.  Our children need you."

He felt a chill run through him.  Something was wrong.  Despite her words, Kim was in danger.  Without thinking, Shane tried to reach for her, but the pain came so sharp that his vision blurred again and he could see only white in front of him.  As the white faded, he could only make out a blurry figure.

"Don't go," he tried to say, but the words were inaudible.  He felt Kim's soft touch on his cheek and then she kissed him gently.  If only this were real.  If only she were truly there with him.

Kim spoke again, this time from behind him.  "You must stay strong," she said, but her words sounded faint, as if she was moving away.  She was leaving; he could feel it.

Please don't go, he thought, and he finally managed to say her name again.  This time, there was no answer.  

Whatever he had seen was gone, but he could hear her words echoing in his mind.  He had to hang on and fight.  Shane could not give up, no matter the pain.  Deep inside him, he knew something was wrong with Kim or his children, or both, and he had to fight to get back to them.  He needed to find the strength to hold on.

Shane closed his eyes and tried to picture Kim; he tried to tell her he would keep fighting and he would find her.  He tried to shut aside the pain and forced himself back to his feet.  

As he did, the door opened, this time to let in two of the soldiers in Vasquez's guard.  One of them walked over to the rubber hose and picked it up, while the other came directly over to Shane and sneered at him.

"Hola, Señor Donovan," the guard said, following it with a punch to the solar plexus.  Shane bit back a scream, refusing to let them hear him cry out.  He would stay strong and he would not give in.  He had to stay strong for Kim.  For his family.

He raised his head, this time feeling no pain, and stared the guard in the eye.  They could beat him all they wanted, but they would never break him.  He would stay strong.