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Oct. 2nd, 2011

(no subject)

Footsteps. Tanim stilled, straining to catch the approaching sound muffled by fog and drizzle. Boot heels clicked on slick cobblestones, a patient yet determined gait. A shudder rocked his crouched form as he fought the urge to flee. Better to wait. 'I'll find you.' He repeated the instructions like a mantra to calm the mad panic. 'I will always find you. Trust me. Wait for me. I will come.' Just wait. Only one pair of footsteps. Everything would be fine. Wait.

A shadow stretched long as the footsteps drew to a halt. Tanim lifted his head slowly, a sharp headache pulsing behind his eyes, to stare up at the man haloed by the gas street lamp above. Nothing but a silhouette; then the figure shifted, illuminating sharp, pale features and cavernous eyes. “Daren,” Tanim's voice choked wetly. He raised one clumsy hand but left only more blood streaked across his lips as he wiped at them, not less. The liquid coated his throat and tongue, dribbled down his chin to soak the stiff lace collar at his neck. “I couldn't help myself.”

“Oh, Tanim,” The man clucked admonishingly and shook his head as he surveyed the scene. “You've made quite a mess of her. And yourself.” Tanim turned back to the crumpled body at his feet. Below the whore's pink painted lips her throat oozed cooling blood, jugular torn in ragged chunks. Her petticoats were soaked with blood and street filth, ripped to tatters where she had fought in vain for freedom. “She struggled,” he explained dully as he wiped sticky fingers on a corner of the dead girl's coat tail. “It made me angry.”

“So I see,” Daren bent to stroke his companion's hair fondly, forever calm even in the face of his lover's mounting madness. “Come, darling. Let us be off home before the fog thickens. You're soaked through; you'll catch a chill.” The touch stirred Tanim from his morass, cleared the blood lust fever from his muddled mind. He lurched to his feet, weary yet steady, and gestured to his battered victim. “Should we not hide the body? Dump her in the river like the others?”

“No time,” Even as Daren spoke church bells tolled in the distance, marking the late hour. “The Watch will come 'round soon. Leave her; they will think it only another dog attack.”

“They did not think it a dog attack last time. They put up warnings. They questioned the town--”

“Hush,” Daren looped his arm through Tanim's and turned him away from the ghastly mess on the cobbles. “Forget about her. One more dead whore means nothing. Come home now. I've been to see Isaac Fox and he swears this new opium is his purest yet. You'll sleep the night through and feel yourself in the morning.” He slipped his greatcoat off and draped it over his lover's damp shoulders. One hand lingered on the man's jaw with a loving caress. “And perhaps when spring arrives we shall move somewhere more... metropolitan. Paris, perhaps, or London. Would you like that?”

London. Easy to become anonymous in a city that size, to blend into the crowds and the shadows and the smoke dens. And people vanish in cities all the time. No one would notice a few missing prostitutes. Tanim licked the last blood from his lips. He was getting used to the taste.

“Yes, I believe I would.”

Sep. 30th, 2011

(no subject)

I walked in the cold place between the worlds. Nothing but a steel sky above my head and a featureless wasteland of frozen snow in all directions. I did not know whether I stumbled toward the warmth of the great hall or back to the blood stained battlefield yet I pressed forward without pause. To stop now would be to succumb to exhaustion and an icy burial mound. Still, my way was not easy. My armor weighed me down like a stone with every step, my sword a battered and clumsy thing clutched in my numb hand. My brothers and sisters would chastise me for taking such ill care of her, just as they would cluck admonishingly at my sheared braids, but I did not care. I would see my family again, all of the einherjar and waelcyrge reunited in the world beyond the battle; nothing else mattered now.

The wind whipped ice daggers into my eyes as I fought onward. Through tear blurred vision I glimpsed a moving shadow, a wolf half again as large as any I had ever seen and black as ravens' wings. “Brother!” I called, and it turned back to me. I stood still as it approached, great paws splayed across the snow pack while my own boots sank deep. I held out my hands to the creature and it laid its heavy head against my cupped palms. Its eyes were chill and blue, the color of the winter sky, but its breath burned my skin like it had swallowed the sun itself. The beast said nothing, but held my gaze a long moment. Then it turned away again and tracked off through the snow. I sheathed my sword and followed.

[ If you haven't read Elizabeth Bear's By The Mountain Bound, I suggest you do so post haste so it can inspire awesome dreams for you as well. Oh, but be prepared to have your heart ripped out of your chest. In a good way. ]

Sep. 28th, 2011

(no subject)

Tanim drew to a halt, fingers twitching along the hilt of the sword hung at his hip. This time he heard the sound for certain; snow crunching beneath a single cautious footstep meant to fall in time with his own. He turned a slow circle, scowling, yet saw nothing more than skeletal black trees laden with snow and ice. He felt the weight of eyes, though, prickling the hair on the back of his neck. “I don't appreciate being hunted in my own domain,” he demanded to the desolate forest. “Show yourself, stranger, and face me straight on.”

Laughter soft as velvet drifted through the biting winter air. Tanim whirled in its direction as a dark figure divorced itself from the shadow of a bare tree trunk. What features might have aided in his measurement of the intruder were hidden by a charcoal gray cloak and deep cowl. “Who are you?” he demanded, hand still clenched in preparation to draw his blade.

“Have you forgotten me so soon, dear brother?” Long, elegant fingers emerged from the cloak and drew off the hood as the figure approached. Tanim stumbled back a step, his disbelieving gasp clouding white between them. Whatever he expected to see beneath the cloth, it was not this.


The man quirked a pale, amused smile and cocked his head to the side, a lock of fine white hair falling across his shoulder. “Who else would cross the frozen wastes to seek you out?”

“Impossible!” Tanim shook his head as if he could chase the sight away, refusing to believe who stood before him. “You fell. I saw; I was there. In blood and fire, you fell. Dead.”

Daren stepped forward slowly so as not to alarm the man any more than his presence already did. “Yes,” he agreed with a slight nod, recalling even now the flames which charred away his flesh, the choking taste of blood and vomit. “I was dead and now I am returned to you, brother.”

“How do I know you speak the truth?” Tanim matched every step forward with a retreat of his own, maintaining the distance between himself and the specter. He was no fool. As often as he prayed for the gods to return his lost brother, he harbored no hopes of such a blessing. He knew those flat black eyes, yes, and that silken voice, but put no faith in mere appearances. “How I do I know you are not some demon wearing Daren's skin, or a puppet sent by one of my dear family to drive me further into madness?”

The creature which at least appeared in the form of his long dead brother chuckled patiently. One eyebrow rose in a familiar graceful motion Tanim had witnessed a thousand times. “Would you like me to tell you your favorite color? Favorite food? Maybe how you came by that scar along your temple?” He leaned in as if imparting a great secret. “Sparring with Jonathan in the great hall when you should have been studying historical war treaties. Even as a child you were so loath to accept the responsibilities of your station as eldest. Such a toil on poor Father's nerves.”

A chill shiver twisted down Tanim's spine. “Anyone could know such things,” he countered, struggling to hide his unease, the old grief twisting his heart, “especially someone sent by a member of my own family. My distaste for the throne isn't exactly a secret.”

“True, true. Then perhaps I should tell you something no other member of your family would know,” Another step forward as Daren's voice hushed, and this time Tanim did not move away. “Perhaps I should tell you about the first time we made love, and the way you surrendered yourself to me so eagerly, so passionately. Do you remember what you said that night, tangled in your own brother's arms?” Dark eyes fluttered closed in recollection. “'I was born to serve you, my love, not the crown, not our family, only you, for you are blood of my blood and heart of my heart.'” And flickered open again to hold Tanim's gaze. “Even in death I recalled those words. Blood of my blood; heart of my heart. You were right, you know. We are meant for each other.”

He wanted to weep. He wanted to scream. Instead he choked back a whimper and managed, “Daren. It is you.”

“Yes, beloved,”

Tanim shuddered beneath the resurrected man's fond gaze. How many years had he longed to hear that pet name murmured against his ear again? It should have comforted him, eased the knife of heartache splitting open his chest as his lover's words always had before, yet he felt no solace this time. “Why have you returned? Why now? Why to me?”

If Daren found it odd that Tanim did not ask how he had returned, he made no comment. “Because you belong on the throne, whether you wish it or no. Our brothers are usurpers and manipulators. They bicker amongst themselves, vying for a throne they have no right to, while you languish alone in this self-imposed northern exile. You've remained safe thus far because they cannot fathom you pose any threat, but soon they'll seek to remove you from the running completely. They will take no chances in the coming war.”

The exiled prince snorted skeptically. “Death's not done much for your sanity, brother. How can I hold my own against any of them? I have no allies at court, no power base. I'll break like a sapling in an ice storm.” He threw one hand out in a gesture meant to encompass the frozen forest and his high mountain citadel beyond. “At least here I face them in my own domain. On my own terms.”

Daren closed the distance between them in one fluid motion, touching pale fingers to the scar on Tanim's temple. “Have faith, beloved,” he reassured. “I stand with you now; together we cannot fail. I have returned to you, and I bring with me an army to wipe our wicked brothers from the land.”

It took every ounce of self-restraint for Tanim not to lean into the caress. Not yet, not before he was certain. “What army?”

The man who had once been both brother and lover stepped back, black eyes dancing, and turned his palms up to the leaden sky. All around them the forest's shadows lengthened, darkened, turned hard and sharp as blades, and a howling wind began to tear at the twisted trees. It wailed harsh words in a language Tanim could not understand but knotted fear in his stomach anyway. A predator's hungry grin spread over Daren's face.

“The dead.”

Sep. 26th, 2011

(no subject)

Humming. A low droning like a muffled electric power tool. Tanim stirred in his sleep, the half familiar sound drifting in and out of his dream until the small part of him still tuned into his environment recognized its external source. With a drowsy groan the man rolled onto his back and flung one arm out, habitually reaching for the still body at his side. Except his hand met no resistance of solid flesh, only cold sheets and rumpled blankets. The odd buzzing reaching him again as he glanced around the dark bedroom, following the direction of the sound to a strip of golden light which glowed beneath the closed bathroom door. Though loath to crawl from his warm cocoon of blankets, Tanim forced his feet out into the cold air and willed the rest of his body to follow. He hesitated at the door of the bathroom, unsuccessfully striving to place the strange sound coming from the other side, then gave up his efforts and nudged open the door.

“Daren?” The man perched on the lip of the porcelain tub glanced up, electric razor still whirring in one hand as he dragged it over his temple. A final handful of soft white hair fell before the machine, completing the crew cut which replaced his previous unkempt jaw length locks. “Sorry.” Daren shut off the razor and tossed it casually onto the counter as if Tanim had merely interrupted his morning shave. “Did I wake you?”

The older man ignored his question and nodded toward the dusting of hair on the bathroom floor. “It's a little late for impromptu hair cuts, isn't it?” He tried to cover his unease at the other's unexpected behavior but it edged his voice nonetheless. He doubted mere vanity had prompted the midnight makeover. In explanation, though, Daren only shrugged gaunt shoulders, a miniature avalanche of white strands drifting to the tile. “I got sick of it falling in my face when I'm heaving up the contents of my miserable stomach.” He scrubbed one hand over his shaved head and fixed his companion with an unreadable black gaze. “What do you think?”

Tanim reached out, brushing tentative fingertips over Daren's sheared skull. Against his touch he could feel the shift of tensing muscle as the man's jaw clenched, could even watch the movement beneath the pale skin of his scalp. Daren should have seemed more vulnerable for the loss of his silken hair but the cut somehow hardened him, set off the harsh planes and shadows of his face. “...I like it,” he finally concluded. “Though now you look even more like a ghost.”

“Just getting prepared,” A cold, humorless smile pulled at the corners of Daren's thin lips. He clutched Tanim's wrist and drew the man to his knees amid the snowfall, his fingers finding purchase in sleep tangled black hair as Tanim leaned in to press their mouths together. He tasted blood on Daren's tongue, salty copper mixed with acidic bile. The sweet rot of death; his lover's unique, too familiar flavor. He shuddered – not at the taste but the disturbing comfort he took in it.

Sep. 24th, 2011

(no subject)

This body is a prison: unyielding, claustrophobic, isolated. Can you melt down the bars and reshape me as something better? I could be any tool you desire if you would but cast me into your forge. Lift me white hot from the coals and spill my molten core into a new mold; lay me across the anvil and hammer out my old impurities. I'll be reborn beneath your hands. This body is a waste of possibility, a prison, a fetter, but if you render me down to liquid essence and sculpt me anew I can become anything. In your hands I am infinite.

Sep. 22nd, 2011

(no subject)

“Jon stopped by,”

Daren froze, hand still gripped around the front door knob. He waited until he shrugged out of his coat and slung it over a kitchen chair before inquiring with forced indifference, “Oh? What did your brother come to say this time? That I'm street scum who's only with you for your money, like usual?” He failed to mask the bitterness in his voice, but at least managed to cushion it with a liberal coating of sarcasm.

“No, not quite,” Across the room, Tanim turned from staring out one of the floor to ceiling picture windows. He licked his lips thoughtfully, recalling his brother's exact words, and quoted in complete dead pan, “He said you're an abusive faggot.”

What?” Daren had been making his way through the living room to Tanim's side but the words stopped him in his tracks several feet back, one eyebrow arched high on a usually composed face.

“He said,” Tanim repeated with careful enunciation, “you're a cruel, abusive faggot who's going to use me up, then abandon me when I'm broken and have nothing left to give you. He said you've got me so twisted I can't see the harm you're doing, that I'm too lovesick or damaged to open my eyes and see you for what you really are. 'How can you submit to someone like that?' he asked me. 'How can you let him control you? It's sick.'” The older man snorted and shook his head. “That's what he said. He said it's sick and shameful.”

“...well...” Daren sank back onto the couch with a low, impressed whistle. “That's a new one. Glad to see he's getting a little more creative with his insults, at least. What do you even say to something like that?”

An eager smirk twitched at the corners of Tanim's mouth. “The truth. I told Jon everything he didn't want to hear. He pushed me over the edge and I didn't know what else to say, I was so god dammed hurt and angry I just... lost all control.” He shrugged as if wiping his hands of the whole situation. “I said you saved me from myself, that the only time I feel truly complete, truly alive, is when I'm in your arms. I'm not the prodigal son. I'm not the wretched man I tried to drown in alcohol and sleeping pills. You strip me of all my titles, all the burdens everyone else places on me until I'm only yours and the only thing that matters is surrendering every part of myself to you. It's pure possession and it feels so, so good.” The smirk widened as Tanim collapsed triumphantly onto the couch beside his companion. “That's what I told him.”

“Shit,” Daren couldn't help the proud blush creeping across his cheeks. Tanim had never had the courage to stand up to his brother like that before. He controlled the desire to drag Tanim into his arms and reward his bravery, but just barely. “Wish I had been there. Did he see these?” He tugged down the collar of Tanim's shirt and prodded the set of last night's bruised bite marks along his neck gently. Tanim winced, either from the ache in his flesh or the memory of Jon's disgusted stare when he, too, had spied the welts, but maintained the mischievous grin. “I told him they're a badge of honor. Your brand, to remind me who I belong to.”

Daren threw his head back and howled with delight. “Oh, I'm sure Jon just loved that. Fucking beautiful. What did he say?”

“Nothing. Never had the chance to respond,” Tanim's smile faded as he recalled the disastrous end to the brothers' confrontation. “I said he wasn't welcome here as long as he insulted the man I love and told him to get the hell out. I won't speak to him again until he apologizes, and he better fucking mean it when he does.” Daren knew better than to point out how adorable Tanim was when something actually roused him enough to warrant expletives, so he stifled another snicker and forced a poker face. “Give him a break,” he countered, though more to play Devil's advocate than to defend the man who had accused him of abuse and perversion. “He's your brother; he's just overprotective. I'm sure if the roles were reversed--”

“It's not his place to judge us!” Predictable Tanim snapped at the bait. “He has no right to condemn you, not in my own home and straight to my face. If he can't accept you then he can't accept me either. He claims he's worried but if he cares so much then he should trust me. The first time in twenty years I'm not miserable and alone and he wants to take that away from me because he doesn't approve of my proclivities? It isn't fucking right!” He broke off, embarrassed by the uncontrollable resentment in his voice, then muttered an apologetic, “Sorry, darling, my nerves are still wound up. He just made me so angry. I thought I was going to break his nose.”

“Well, let's see what we can do to burn off some of that extra energy, then,” Daren's hand slid down the older man's chest and guided him with a forceful nudge back onto the cushions. “You know,” he murmured, grazing his teeth over the brands Tanim so brazenly displayed before Jonathan, “I think I like when you defend my honor; it's like you're my knight in shining armor. Very noble. Very fierce.”

“Mmm,” Tanim shivered as the blazing anger in his breast smoldered into flames of quite a different and far more preferable sort beneath Daren's firm caress. “Well maybe I should let Jon piss me off more often, then...” he mused, losing himself in the welcome distraction. “Or at least send him a nice thank-you card.”

[ Author's note: FYI, usually Jon isn't such a complete douche bag. He's normally very nice, I promise. Someone had to be the bad guy, that's all...

Also, I really hate this piece. Just sayin'. Ugh. ]

Sep. 20th, 2011

(no subject)

Coward! Spineless, whimpering craven! How dare you turn away from my words when you know I speak the truth? You're pathetic. Admit it: deep down you know you truly are this monster, that the beast's blood flows in your veins. You hunger, you lust, you rage. You're a feral, wild thing trapped in the body of a man, a beast raving against its prison of flesh and bone. Don't you just want to howl? Don't you want to tear and rend? Release your baser self! You could be so much more than a pathetic, broken wretch if you would only cease this foolish inner battle. You'll never destroy the beast, you know. Bury the monster as deep as you like; it is ever waiting for your next moment of weakness, the slip of poorly crafted defenses. Did you really think you could survive such a schism forever? Did you think you could deny the core of yourself and still maintain your sanity? The starving beast's turned cannibal; it eats at you, devouring you piece by piece to sate a bottomless hunger. Are you so ashamed of the truth that you'd feed your own heart to this monster? How disappointing. How disgusting. You're better than this! Stop playing the martyr and embrace your hunger before it consumes you entirely. Save yourself. Become the beast.

Sep. 18th, 2011

(no subject)

Can't think. Can't concentrate. Can't write. Trapped, reliving the same moment, the same scene, the same heartache and desperation. “I'm a whore.” Tanim, sick with loathing, throat tight around a shameful sob. “Would you call a starving man a glutton for easing his hunger?” But he only swallows down the urge to cry with a strangled moan. “I don't want to be this man anymore. I can't stand it; I can't stand myself. I don't know what to do.” And neither do I so I fall back on the old words, the useless comforts. “There is no one else you can be. This longing is part of who you are, as much as your flesh and blood. You only cause yourself more pain by fighting it than by accepting.” His response is a barking laugh, short and bitter. “If cutting my arm off could rid me of this perverted hunger, I would take a hacksaw to my skin this very moment and feel no remorse. Don't presume to judge one source of pain by another.” He means that, too. He would sacrifice anything to be free. He would cut himself to pieces, bleed himself empty. Oh, it should never have come to this. “I'm done. I'm so sorry, but just I can't do this anymore. I can't. I'm done.” Weary now, no energy left for either anger or hatred. “I'm done. I'm done.” There is nothing more to say, nothing more to do. Words don't reach him now. Hands can't pull him out of the abyss. Only he can do that, but he just shakes his head and mourns again, “I'm done.” And so I remain trapped here, helpless witness to a life spiraling out of control. Can't write. Can't concentrate. Can't think.

Sep. 15th, 2011

Updated Character Profiles

I write something along the lines of cross-genre character-based multi-narrative introspective episodic flash fiction. That's fancy mumbo-jumbo for "I write short fiction involving the same two characters, Tanim and Daren, in different settings and genres." I just liked all the kooky words. Basically, I take the same two characters, make subtle tweaks to their story/history/personalities/etc, and see what happens. It's sort of like shattering a mirror and then describing the minute variations in the thousands of fragmented reflections. Tanim and Daren have been mortal and immortal, gods and men, kings and criminals, friends and enemies, lovers and brothers, cowards and heroes and madmen, martyrs, murderers, countless different lives revolving around the same two ill-fated souls. Every story may end in tragedy, but each follows its own path to that inevitable end.

Trying to summarize Tanim and Daren is always a daunting task for me. This entry will hopefully provide a brief introduction. However, Tanim and Daren are involved in an almost limitless number of different story lines and worlds, so it's hard to summarize their core attributes without adding every exception to the rule. That being said, I shall now attempt to do just that. My apologies in advance for the length.

Name: Tanim
Gender: Male
Age: Mid-late 30s, sometimes early 40s
Height: ~ 5'11-6'0”, 2 inches taller than Daren
Body build: Lean, healthy weight, in shape but not overly muscular
Facial features: Strong jaw, straight nose, “aristocratic” features, smiles often
Eye color: Blue-gray, darker when angry or upset, often give away his emotions
Skin color: Normal warm Caucasian tone, flushes easily
Hair color/style: Black, thick and slightly wavy, length varies between several inches and slightly more than jaw length
Clothing style: Earth tones or muted colors, mostly slacks and sweaters/dress shirts, style is expensive yet understated
Astrological sign: Cancer – Devoted, loyal, nurturing, self-sacrificing, affectionate, loving, introverted, self-deprecating, fretful, emotional, possessive, obsessive, passive/passive-aggressive

Tanim is at heart a gentle, well-meaning man with an unfortunate martyr complex. He is loyal and honest to a fault, happiest when he has someone to care for and most miserable when he is alone. He hates confrontation or asserting himself to someone he loves, though he would do anything to protect that person from someone else without hesitation. However, his devotion to those he loves also leads him to sacrifice his own needs in order to fulfill the role he assumes is expected of him. Tanim truly is his own worst enemy. He loathes himself for any perceived weakness while remaining completely blind to the faults of others. These emotions are all internal, of course; the face Tanim presents to others is always upbeat, calm and kind. Only those who know his innermost fears understand the knife-edge on which Tanim balances, forever torn between his own misery and the need to ignore that pain and dedicate himself to another.

Although Tanim's history may change depending on the story, the "main" storyline (though not by far the only!) finds him as a recusive, miserable man living alone  in a lavish penthouse city apartment (a description of which can be found here.) He grew up as the oldest son of a wealthy businessman and trained from a young age to follow in his father's footsteps. However, in his late teens Tanim began to struggle with feelings of emptiness, apathy, and a longing for personal submission which deeply disturbed him. He tried to ease the ache by any means necessary, turning even to alcohol and drugs, but nothing could either numb him enough or fill the emptiness and he sank further into depression. Then, while Tanim was in his late twenties, his father died and it was assumed Tanim would step into his father's role. However, unable to stand the thought of living life under the scrutiny of the public eye when he could barely hold himself together, Tanim did the unthinkable. He sold his shares of the company, took his sudden wealth, and disappeared. He cut off all contact with his family,  choosing the misery of self-imposed isolation to risking his loved ones discovering his double life and "perverted" desires. When Tanim and Daren meet, Tanim has been living alone for years, trapped in a hell of his own devising. It is only through Daren's patient yet stern support that Tanim finally begins to accept himself and heal the years old wounds.

Tanim's self-sacrificing personality is primarily a result of his longing to surrender himself in all ways to one he loves. He believes that submission to the beloved is the highest form of love and is happiest in a master/servant relationship. Alone, he feels incomplete; it is only through complete devotion to another that Tanim considers himself to have a purpose or meaning in life. The only value he sees in himself is the value placed on him by someone else. For Tanim, an important part of a master/servant relationship is submission of the body. In most fragments Tanim's sexual orientation can be considered classically asexual, as he feels no sexual attraction toward either men or women. It is his love for Daren that sparks the desire for physical intimacy, not a desire for the man's body itself. Because of this, no other man or woman inspires the same lust in Tanim. He seeks out sexual intimacy in an attempt to experience the complete vulnerability found in total submission to another. It isn't about sexual release for him, only loss of control and free will to another, both of which are surrendered most fully during sex. Therefore, even though Tanim may come off as textbook homosexual in nature, that perception is actually the result of his desire for bodily submission and not an actual sexual attraction to men. In some fragments he embraces his need to submit, but in many others Tanim is disturbed by such longing and goes to great lengths to deny it, causing himself severe emotional damage.

Of course, this somewhat extreme approach to love manifests in many negative ways. Tanim is often obsessive, idolizing, and fanatical. His concept of love goes far beyond normal romantic attraction and into the realm of blind worship. He will go to great lengths to keep the object of his affections, making him a possibly manipulative and abusive lover. He is ruled completely by his emotions, which he has trouble controlling. He can be both a sadist and a masochist, though the latter is more common because of his longing for a master/servant relationship. So while Tanim can be a devoted and caring lover, the extremes of his personality make it difficult for him to have a healthy relationship. His love for Daren, though, should never be doubted, and he strives continually to be the kind of companion Daren needs most.

Name: Daren
Gender: Male
Age: Early to mid-30s
Height: ~ 5'9”-5'10”, 2 inches shorter than Tanim
Body build: Thin, underweight, often sickly in appearance, fine boned, long limbed
Facial features: Angular face, long jaw, straight nose, high cheek bones, thin lips, expressionless
Eye color: Dark brown (basically black), difficult to read, often accompanied by dark circles from illness and lack of sleep
Skin color: Very pale, flushed when feverish
Hair color/style: Prematurely white, straight and fine, length varies from very short to jaw length
Clothing style: Black or gray color palette, black jeans or slacks, sweaters/turtlenecks, doesn't like to show skin above his wrists or below his neck
Astrological sign: Scorpio – Independent, calculating, logical, externally unemotional, blunt, unyielding, remote, mysterious, controlling, possessive, protective, manipulative, distrustful, destructive/self-destructive

Unlike Tanim, Daren is ruled more by apathy and cold logic than emotion. Daren does not long for love or completion; in fact, there is very little he desires and this often causes conflict between Tanim and him. Daren has little regard for the needs or feelings of others and goes to great lengths to avoid human interaction. He abhors vulnerability, both in himself and others, as well as most displays of emotion and any physical contact. He is slow to trust and refuses to offer personal information. A lifetime of hardships and health problems has left Daren jaded and introverted. He has difficulty understanding others' emotions and rarely cares enough to try. Tanim is the only person he makes any effort to empathize with or treat with selfless kindness. Although Daren comes off as cold hearted to most who know him, though, to Tanim he can be quite loving, playful, and gentle. Tanim often defends Daren's personality with the claim that others simply don't understand what he's been through, nor the kind of person he truly is. Daren must feel completely safe and in control before he can open up, but once he does he can prove to be just as strong and good a person as Tanim.

In the "main" storyline (once again, not the only one!), much of Daren's past remains a mystery, as years of emotional trauma, nightmares, and fevered hallucinations have marred his ability to discern between real and false memories. He cannot recall much of his childhood beyond the abusive nature of his environment. In his late teens or early twenties Daren was found living on the street, severely underweight and deliriously sick. He was enrolled in a program for emotionally and/or physically impaired adults in which he received therapy and medication, as well as medical aid. When the program ended due to funding issues, however, he struggled to make ends meet, unable to keep a job due to his physical ailments. When he meets Tanim in his mid-thirties, he is living in a hell-hole of an apartment and down to his last funds. After Tanim finds him collapsed and deathly ill some time later, Daren moves into Tanim's apartment and grudgingly allows the man to help him. The progress is agonizingly slow, hindered by Daren's continually weakened body and emotional trauma, but he eventually begins to heal and embrace the life he leads with Tanim.

Daren's sexual orientation is not as easily defined as Tanim's. Daren fits the idea of asexuality in that he is not sexually attracted to either gender, nor does he have virtually any sex drive, but his nonexistent libido is not necessarily caused by classic asexuality. Daren is damaged both physically and emotionally. In any given fragment he may suffer from a variety of afflictions, including post traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and any number of debilitating illnesses, and every one of these has a negative impact on his libido. At his best Daren is comfortable with both giving and receiving physical touch but at his worst is repulsed by intimacy and detests the idea of submitting to another (which is also one reason why he always takes on a dominant role during sex). Therefore, it is hard to judge Daren's true sexual orientation. His attachment to Tanim does suggest a certain lean toward homosexuality, but that cannot be concluded with any certitude since his love for Tanim isn't sexual in nature and he has never entertained even the remotest affection for any other person.

As with Tanim, Daren's flaws can manifest themselves negatively. He can be emotionally manipulative, sadistic, and cruel, with little regard for the pain he causes. He is often seen as a tempting figure leading Tanim down a dangerous or self-destructive path, especially by those that care for Tanim. His withholding of emotion often reaches abusive levels, while his need for secrecy causes him to hide any decline in his mental/physical status from Tanim. Despite Daren's cold exterior, however, he loves Tanim with as fierce a passion as Tanim loves him. True to his nature, Daren has an extremely hard time acknowledging and displaying this love. His emotional disconnection makes it nearly impossible for him to provide the affection Tanim craves. He finds Tanim to be too clingy and needy, but struggles to accept these aspects in order to make his companion happy. Tanim's combination of patient devotion and empathy eventually cracks Daren's shell enough to earn the man's trust, and once Daren accepts Tanim into his life he is quite possessive of him. Although Daren is uncomfortable with the concept of a master/servant relationship, he often assumes the dominant (sometimes even aggressive) role both to satisfy Tanim's own submissive desires and retain the emotional detachment, independence, and secrecy he requires. Even so, he often surprises himself with the ferocity of his love for Tanim and the boundaries he did not think he would be willing to cross for the man.

Their relationship: As can probably be construed through the above descriptions, Tanim and Daren do not have a normal romantic/sexual relationship. To Tanim and Daren there is no difference between romantic and fraternal love, between considering themselves lovers or brothers. They are drawn together on a deeper level than mere affection or physical attraction, and this bond is often something which they can neither deny nor break. It manifests itself in many different forms, both healthy and unhealthy, which is why it is hard to provide a complete overview of their relationship. They love deeply and fully, sometimes to their ruin and other times to their salvation.

I should note that the emphasis placed on sexual intimacy in their relationship is currently undergoing a somewhat extreme evolution. For Tanim, sexual submission is a meaningful act which reinforces their master/servant relationship, and he is coming to crave this more as he loses his ability to deny that desire. While before Daren took little interest in sex, even with Tanim, his character is beginning to change on a fundamental level as well, becoming more sexually aggressive and dominant. I do not know where these changes will take Tanim and Daren, but that is one of the joys of being a writer. I have no control over what happens, so I may only sit back and watch it unfold.

The solstice: One of the “themes” that runs through many of the story lines involving Tanim and Daren is that of the solstice. This theme is based on a solstice myth in which the Moon murders his lover the Sun on the winter solstice (thus bringing the winter and darkness to the land) and on the summer solstice the Sun resurrects and likewise murders the Moon (returning the summer and light). This endless cycle of sacrifice and betrayal, life and death, is common in many stories about Tanim and Daren. Therefore, Daren is often represented by the Moon and Tanim by the Sun. I post an entry regarding the mythology and cycle every solstice; those entries can be found using the "solstice" journal tag.

The tale of the solstice - So you can make some sense of all this Sun and Moon talk.

Story format: Most of my work is very short, usually one or several paragraphs. There is no single story line for Tanim and Daren; the stories take place in different eras, worlds, genres, etc. Because of that, my writing “jumps” around and any single piece could be from a variety of story lines or from none at all. Much of my writing is from either Tanim or Daren's point of view, and these monologue-esque pieces can be found using the “spoken – Daren” and “spoken – Tanim” tags. Any piece of writing pertaining to Tanim and Daren that is not from their specific point of view can be found using the “Tanim/Daren” tag. Also, Tanim's speech is often noted using bold format and Daren's italics.

Tags: Tanim / Daren ; Spoken - Daren ; Spoken - Tanim ; Solstice ; Art of Tanim/Daren

So that's the bare bones of what I consider to be my life's work. I've been writing about Tanim and Daren for nine years (as of August 2011) and they still constantly surprise me, but hopefully this introduction will answer basic questions. Feel free to ask me anything!

Sep. 13th, 2011

(no subject)

The beast matches my stride like a patient predator, a brief darkness at the corner of my vision. Its coat is black as night, its fangs white as bleached bone. With each step the monster seems to shift and alter as if its essence is of so many possible nightmare creatures that mere physical form cannot contain them all. Step and its legs reach long, shrink short; pace and its fur bristles thick or lays sleek; creep and it lifts tapered muzzle or muscled jaw heavy with the tools of its trade. It stalks my footsteps like a second shadow and every warm wind running along my back seems to reek of carrion breath. I expect jagged teeth to sink into my neck at any moment, dragging me down like a helpless deer, yet my hunter never approaches. Always it remains a stain on the horizon, tireless and unrelenting. What is it you want, beast? Are you companion or dark portent? Have you come to guide me to safety or demise? Come closer and let us finish this to whatever end. I grow tired of the hunt.

Sep. 11th, 2011

(no subject)

But then I thought, what if I'm the sister dark? What if you're the one who walks in sunlight and leaves me here on the other side to await manifestation at nightfall? I can see myself now: palms pressed to the cool mirror glass, begging for mercies you will never hear as you pass me by. Or worse yet: palms pressed to the unyielding barrier as you stare into the mirror and still don't see me, the words of summon lost to you forever ( “thee to me, sister!” I cry, unheard, “thee to me!”) and so I as well. If that were the case, would you ever choose me? Staring into the glass but seeing nothing, could you ever have faith that I wait beyond your reflection, needing only those four sacred words to bridge the space between us? Take my hands. Speak the words. Draw me forth. We belong together, you and I.

Sep. 9th, 2011

(no subject)

The moment Tanim opens his mouth Daren wants to clap his hand over the man's lips and beg don't, please, we've been over this before but it's too late. “I hate sneaking around like this,” Tanim mutters in the darkness, helpless and wounded. “I feel like a criminal, like I'm ashamed of my own actions. It isn't right. It isn't fair.” His heavy sigh stirs the hair at the back of Daren's neck. “We can't live like this forever, Daren. They'll find out eventually anyway... maybe we should just tell them. What's the worst they can do?”

Disown you; condemn you; cast you out. But Daren doesn't say that either. They both know the answer and his silence is only a confirmation. Tanim's next question comes muffled, his face pressed into his lover's shoulder. “Why does it matter whom I love?”

Daren should brush off this question as well. Should, but cannot. Tanim doesn't see the truth of their situation and it seems more cruel, somehow, to nurture that ignorance. “Not whom you love,” he corrects. “Whom you give yourself to. Whom you bed and who beds you are two very different things, darling. They won't accept it. They won't understand.” Daren twines his fingers through Tanim's hair in a poor attempt to soften the blow of his words. “It's frightening to watch someone you care for give themselves completely to another. Not many are as... trusting... as you.” And then he adds softly, as if in afterthought, “besides, people like you don't surrender to people like me.”

Tanim twists his head back, casting a questioning glance up at the other man. “What do you mean?”

Daren's chest swells beneath Tanim's head as he inhales, exhales slowly, crafting his answer with care. “The strong don't submit to the weak, Tanim. The good don't submit to the wicked. The beloved don't submit to the unwanted. Jonathan and the others, they'll think it's beneath you to give yourself to someone like me. Someone damaged. Someone unworthy. Someone...” He hesitates, wanting to say more but unwilling to break his companion's heart any further. “Just someone like me.”

“You're not—” Tanim rises to protest but the argument dies unspoken as he catches sight of the resignation barely masked in Daren's controlled expression. He heaves a second sigh, sinking back down in defeat. He knows he shouldn't waste what little time they have together by pressing the subject yet he can't help but counter one last time, “it isn't fair. I shouldn't have to deny you.”

With a mirthless laugh Daren draws him close again and smooths back his hair as if he cradles an upset child, not his conflicted companion. “I know, I know,” he murmurs into the coal black locks, “but it makes things... simpler. And it doesn't hurt me. Denial can't lessen us, Tanim. We have each other, that's all that matters. Just let it go for now. Please.” Ashamed of making his lover beg for reprieve, Tanim honors the request and silences his petulant complaints. Daren's patient touch eventually eases the bitterness which tenses Tanim's limbs until he relaxes in the younger man's embrace. He's on the verge of sleep when he overhears a final private plea spoken under his lover's breath.

“We deserve better than this.”

Sep. 7th, 2011

(no subject)

Brother, I hear you weeping. Why do you sorrow? Why do you fear? We lost our way once but have faith, for I remember who I am now. I have reclaimed my name, taken back my crown and kingdom. You shall do the same. Do you remember what you were once? What you can become again? You're no impotent child or broken man. You are not the summation of your failures and weaknesses, the things you lost and the things you abandoned. You are the longest and brightest day; summer's radiant king; the cherished, exalted Beloved.

You are the Sun.

You want a master? Then prove you're worthy of a place at my side. I name you brother and lover both; one title is yours by right, the other you must earn. Remember who you are. Remember what we are. Don your golden cloak and reclaim your waiting sword. That blade has tasted my blood before, so raise it now and fight for my respect. Prove you're still the godking I love, glorious and terrible, first and only in my heart.

Sep. 5th, 2011

(no subject)

So much sorrow these days. So much fear. Specter, have you have forgotten what you are? Have you forgotten what they called you? The Wicked. The Wraith. The Wolf at the Door. You are the longest and darkest night; the coldest and bleakest winter. You are the kinslayer, brother and lover and murderer of the Sun.

You are the Moon.

Yet still you deny your station. You say a god does not bleed? A god does not rot? All gods die, beloved. You have perished a thousand times already and will fall countless more before the world's end. You are stronger for your death, just as you are stronger for your resurrection. Embrace your true nature. Remember your old strength. You are the only one to have ever reigned in the Sun himself, that brightest of all beings, and bound him to you. You are lord and master, yet you let your servant run wild, become feral in unfettered madness. In denying yourself, so you deny him. In denying him, so he must deny himself as well.

Awaken, dark one. Become the fell god you were once upon a time and take control of your dominion. The day awaits the night. The summer awaits the winter. The Sun awaits the Moon.

Sep. 3rd, 2011

(no subject)

“He is a fool.”

Daren knows, then, what Tanim plans for the solstice.

“He can't hide anything from me; he's given too much of himself to harbor secrets. I had only to look into those churning eyes to glimpse the burden of his decision. I know. He doesn't want to tell me, but I know.”

Suicide. The last resort of cowards and madmen. He's never even considered such a thing before.

“Tanim will die anyway. What does it matter by whose hand, as long as the Sun perishes on the solstice? He has the right to choose.”

It should be Daren holding the blade, not Tanim. That's how it has always been.

“He would spare me the blood on my hands this time. He thinks it a kindness. I'm not so sure.”

A fool indeed. Even Tanim must know there is no kindness on the solstice.

“He believes he has no control over his fate. Which is true, of course, but he needs the semblance of choice this time. He's so consumed with self-loathing and hunger he can't even function. He clings to the belief he can bleed the beast blood away and finally destroy the man he's become because that is the only hope he has left. This is his private battle; I won't intrude. Solitude is the only thing I can give him now. I trust Tanim to do what is best. Maybe he'll find peace this way.”

They have never found peace in death before. What chance is there this time?

“I don't believe he will. But hope is all we have left.”

May it be enough.

Sep. 1st, 2011

(no subject)

Autumn approaches. I can feel it; the days grow shorter, death creeping into the soil to wither leaves and leech life from barren branches. I should fight back. I should hold onto the summer with a dying man's desperation, struggle to beat off the coming darkness and win myself another moment of freedom, but I can't seem to draw enough breath to raise my voice or force my heavy limbs into motion. I'm so tired. If I'm afraid, the terror is buried so deep it barely stirs my heart. If I'm angry, the coals of my rage long burned to ash and left nothing behind to stoke me to action. Fight or flight? I don't even have the strength to make such a decision. I'm too tired this time. I don't want to be this man anymore. Let the winter come. I'm done. It's okay. All I want to do is sleep. All I want to do is sleep and never wake up. I know I should fight but I just can't anymore. Let the snow cover me over so I may sleep forever. I'm done. It's okay. It's okay.

Aug. 30th, 2011

(no subject)

Sister, sister, get me out of here. I'm being consumed. I'm being devoured. I'm being transformed. My head's buzzing with machinery's language, harsh hammering consonants and vowels like metal gears grinding together. It's filling my head and I can't remember the sound of rain or the voices of the waves or the keening, wailing wind. Sister, sister, get me out of here before I forget everything I never needed to learn. The walls are closing in. I swear, every time I close my eyes they creep a little nearer and I sink a little deeper in the well. I just won't close my eyes, then. I won't sleep because if I sleep the morning will come again and the cacophony in my head will thunder until I weep from its discordant pandemonium. Sister, sister, get me out of here, take me away from this place. I'm crumpled before the mirror, so for the love of mercy just clasp my aching hands and pull me through the glass. I don't belong here. I don't want to be in the well. Carry me over to the other side where the night is gentle and the Moon's lullaby is a soft murmur on the water. Remind me of the languages I once knew, the hymns of the Wildland. They feel so far away now. Sister, sister, get me out of here while there's still time. I'm not myself anymore. I can't remember who I am. I can't remember what I am. I can't remember why I am. Sister, sister, get me out of here. Take me home.

Aug. 28th, 2011

(no subject)


ghost pines drift and dance
vanishing in hungry fog
autumn's sentinels


Aug. 27th, 2011

(no subject)


I churn out haiku
like a whore gives out blow jobs
and care as little

Aug. 25th, 2011

(no subject)

“Hide and Seek”

forgive me, sister
I don't mean to call so late
but aching fingers
still seek the comfort of touch
and still the words come
beloved and unbidden
thee to me, sister
I am a fool for calling
a fool for longing
a fool to face the mirror
but frozen fingers
still touch palm to mirrored palm
and still my lips move
whisper the incantation
thee to me, sister

Aug. 23rd, 2011

(no subject)


wrap me in linen
bury me in leaves and earth
I'll sleep 'til winter


Aug. 21st, 2011

(no subject)


the well yawns, waiting
hungry event horizon

- - -


this dry soil's no womb
these salt tears no nourishment
the seed stillborn rots

- - -


drowning in the well
thinking in broken haiku
feel bat-shit crazy

Aug. 19th, 2011

(no subject)

You know that sound you make when you've been vomiting all night and now you're crumpled on the bathroom tile, clammy with sweat, and you have to throw up again but your throat burns and your mouth tastes like bile and you just can't do it, can't stand the spasm of purging anymore, so you just lay there choking back vomit with a sort of pitiful half groan, half whimper?

That's the sound of writer's block.

Aug. 18th, 2011

(no subject)

Just a frozen moment which could be any night, every night, now. Tanim huddles beneath the overhang, staring across the street to the opulent high rise hotel, his residence of so many listless years. He can't rightly call it a home. Its high ceilings and cavernous rooms, plush white carpets and glittering granite counter tops have never given him any sense of comfort or belonging. Yet all that has changed. The rooms are no longer empty; someone waits within them. Daren waits. No one has ever waited for Tanim before. He has never had a reason to hurry home. A helpless and hopeless romantic, he imagines Daren glancing up as he opens the front door, the pale smile drawing back his lips a sparse greeting yet enough to twist Tanim's heart in painful, glorious, guilty knots. He longs to dash across the street and take the stairs two at a time to the high penthouse apartment but his feet stay rooted to the cement with fear. Fear that one day this man may leave him, that today might be the day he returns to find only barren, silent rooms. Fear that Daren may stay, for which Tanim will continue to suffer the unbearable impotency of such close proximity with someone he dreams of nightly and yet cannot even touch. Fear that these foreign emotions will continue to choke his throat until he forces the words out and admits to himself and his quiet companion that this conflicted misery is... love. Tanim cannot yet truly fathom the ramifications of such attraction, let alone allow himself to wonder whether Daren does, or even ever could, return those feelings. So Tanim is afraid to go home, afraid to find Daren vanished and yet also afraid to find him there because then he must once again face this unwanted, undeniable longing. He's afraid to go home because that chasmal apartment has never felt like “home” until now and he has never wanted to return there so badly. The desire is so unfamiliar, the hunger so foreign after too many years spent in apathetic solitude that he stands frozen in indecision. Daren has changed everything and now Tanim is too twisted up inside to think, torn between the irrational need to flee and the urge to surrender everything to the man he loves.

Aug. 16th, 2011

(no subject)

“Oh Tanim, Tanim. If only you understood how much happiness this brings me.”

Daren's voice purrs against my ear. I open my mouth to respond but only blood leaks out, thick as syrup welling up inside my throat.

“This isn't the first time, you know. Or can you not remember? I remember. I remember everything: every life and every slow...” he twists the blade just enough to split open the wound, “...slow death.”

Either he doesn't hear my muffled groan of agony or doesn't care. His fingers wander over my temple and twine themselves around my tangled hair in a touch that might be loving if his other hand didn't slowly wedge a knife deeper into my chest.

“I've walked through so many worlds and I've seen so many fragments of you, beloved. Martyrs, madmen, monsters. I've seen you crowned in gold and I've seen you bound in leather like a dog crouched at his master's feet. I've seen you covered in your own blood, in other's blood, in sweat and tears and ash.”

Cruel delight sharpens his words as he closes his hand into a fist at the base of my pounding skull.

“And in every world I hunt you down. I've cut out your heart and bashed open your skull and choked you, drowned you, broken all those pale white bones beneath your flesh to splinters. I've done it so many ways, Tanim, yet somehow I always come back to this.”
He gives the blade another jerk and white spots of pain streak across my vision, clouding the triumphant grin which twists his lips. “It's just so... intimate.”

If I weren't choking on my own blood, if my limbs could still respond, I'd pull him close and whisper in his ear, “but I do remember, darling. I remember everything: every life spent aching for completion, waiting to surrender myself, to submit like the beast I am. And I remember every slow, glorious, terrible death by your hands. It feels so good, the blade. You feel so good. Yes, we always come back to this, don't we? Move on to the next world, then - I'll be waiting there, too.”

“You have no idea how good this feels,” he murmurs as my blood trickles between his clenched fingers. But I do. Oh love, I do.

Aug. 14th, 2011

(no subject)


eyes froth white, churn blue
treacherous mountain rivers
heart surges, thunders
desirous of the long fall
the death plunge to jagged rock

Aug. 12th, 2011

(no subject)

[ Another continuation of the Tanim/Daren story Stacy wrote, the original of which can be found here and a prequel to which (written by yours truly) can be found here. This piece takes place where the original story leaves off and was written by Stacy, then added to/edited by me. It actually has two endings, one of which is a continuation of the first, because neither of us could decide which one we liked more. ]

Tanim waited. He was good at waiting. He’d been waiting a long time, after all. Through a century of change, as thick asphalt paved over the cobblestone road outside his house, telephone poles with their lines hung like black garland replacing the rows of old oaks. He felt nothing as his grieving parents dismantled his old life piece by piece, and watched unseen while ruddy Negroes maneuvered his favorite red velvet chaise out the servants' door and his sisters packed away his finest suits. He even eavesdropped as his mother sobbed in his empty bedroom, turning away at her pleas to God to spare his precious soul.

The years passed without measure and he could only stand helplessly by as his once grand and gilded home fell into disrepair, gray shingles bloated with moss and ivory paint flaking off like newly fallen snow. He saw strangers come and go, changing his house to suit their own desires, but fresh paint (pale lavender, a poor imitation of Victorian style and sensibilities) and a new wrought iron fence did little to restore the building's glory. The view of his former street made Tanim cringe in disgust, ugly box structures and drab slate drives for miles in every direction. However, his grimace soon twisted into a feral grin as he made his dissatisfaction known from the attic, frightening the new tenants away and leaving him in silent solitude once more.

Alone, Tanim sank back into memory. He recalled his stifled adolescence of glittering luxury, the steady parade of ashen-faced women gently spinning parasols in girlish coquette like a garden of flowers perched on the steps of the gazebo. If he had a body left he might still have blushed at the memory of their laughter, their smiles, their affection he could not return but did not understand why. He would recall his family sometimes as well, kind mother and stern father and flighty sisters all so comfortable in their life of opulence. He remembered he loved them once, but such emotions were too far distant now to touch. Inevitably, his thoughts always circled back to his own crushing unhappiness and the final days of dark melancholy, coalescing in the sensation of coarse rope digging into his soft bare neck. He remembered hooking the toe of his polished black boot around the leg of the chair, remembered his final nervous swallow before closing his eyes and pulling the chair off balance. The feeling was always stronger in the gloom of the attic at 3:30, always overwhelming in May.

So Tanim waited with the endless patience of the dead as Daren’s body swayed gently from the attic rafters, turning to and fro like a cut of meat in a butcher’s shop. He had not anticipated how much it would hurt to see his lover this way, cold and weighted down with the heaviness of death. He wondered if his mother had experienced this disbelieving grief when she watched them cut his own body down, his lean features bloated and blue. Absently, Tanim raised a hand to finger the deep purple line around his neck, imagining his hand caressing a matching mark under Daren’s elegant throat. The bruise that would appear once Daren appeared.

But Daren did not return. Tanim remembered opening his eyes after his own death, thinking in disoriented despair that he had failed. He remembered stumbling back in horror as he caught sight of his dangling body and how he had curled up in a corner of the attic, unable to tear his eyes away from the awful image. His mother had called to him as the sun rose and the household began to stir. When he did not show for breakfast, then lunch, then supper, the family's unease mounted to panic and the hunt began. It was Marjorie, his favorite servant, who finally found the shell of flesh and blood Tanim had left behind. Trapped somehow on the border between life and death, he had buried his face in his knees as the young woman screamed, unable to watch the cook and gardener cut his limp body down.

Tanim waited but still Daren did not appear. He wandered the house, fingering the dusty white sheets that covered the antique oak furniture and listening to the answering machine as Daren’s boss called and called, his messages growing more frantic. Something is wrong, he thought. It should not be taking this long. He had woken up immediately; why would it be any different for Daren? But it was different, and standing once more in the dusty attic, Tanim realized with an aching numbness that days had passed. Daren's body was losing any resemblance to the man Tanim so loved, his striking silver hair dull with grease, dark eyes blank and filmed with dust. Mourning, Tanim retreated to his corner of the attic and buried his face in his knees as he once had over a hundred years ago, weeping with the crushing knowledge that he had failed again, that he was now utterly and completely alone.

[ Continuation/alternate ending ]

And so he remained, sunk so deep in catatonia that he barely recognized the sounds of intruders entering the house on the main floor. He only raised his head when the police officers reached his attic, one gagging at the rotten smell of decomposition while the other solemnly shook his head. They cut Daren down without ceremony, unaware of the wayward spirit which trailed them to the top of the stairs and watched in grief borne numbness as they struggled to ease the body of his once lover down the steep attic steps. Then the trap door swung shut and silence reigned once again.

Tanim felt like he had only ever been this flickering wraith waiting in the dark, trapped in death as he had been trapped in life. Only this time there really was no escape, at least none that he could see, and he envied Daren’s freedom. Raging suddenly, he wondered whether it had been a choice, whether he had somehow chosen to stay - or if Daren had chosen to go. But why? Why would he abandon Tanim now after promising the specter so much? Tanim railed against the unjustness of it all, shaking the foundations of his ancient house and tearing at the seams of his self-made prison, raising a racket no one would hear.

Just as he was about to throw himself at the walls of the attic again, a pair of arms wrapped tightly around his waist from behind, pulling him back against a strong chest. Tanim stilled at the firm embrace, turning his head to stare straight into a familiar pair of blank shadowed eyes. “D-darling?” He stuttered in disbelief and sagged weakly against the other man. “That’s enough histrionics from you, Tanim,” Daren murmured back, giving him a thin smile. “It’s okay now. I’m here.”

“But how? You were gone, not a trace of you left. I’d know, I looked for you everywhere. I waited, I did, but you were gone and I was alone again, you left me behind and I couldn't follow, I was so alone...” Tanim rambled without pause, frenetic eyes scanning every bit of Daren that he could see. His gaze finally lighted on a faint purple line just visible beneath Daren’s pale neck. “Oh…” He raised one hand tentatively up to brush his fingers against the mark. The flesh beneath his touch was cold as ice.

“It doesn’t matter. I’m here now and I won't leave you again,” Daren's words fell flat, his voice dulled by an odd note of finality. Of course it matters, Tanim thought, searching his lover's eyes for some hint as to where he had been, what had kept him away so long. But he let well enough alone. After all, he would have plenty of time to question Daren later.

Aug. 10th, 2011

(no subject)

[ This piece is entitled “Fuck It, Dialogue Doesn't Need the In Between Bits Anyway” ]

“Good morning, dear.”

“Mmm. 'Morning. And at what ungodly hour did you get up today?”

“I couldn't sleep.”

“Wouldn't let yourself sleep is more like it. Uck! Look, your coffee's gone cold. You've been brooding again, haven't you.”

“Maybe a little.”


“What it would have been like if we had met sooner.”

“What do you mean?”

“Just that we met so late in life that we never really had a chance to be young together.”

“Hey, I'm only thirty-seven, thank you.”

“You know what I mean. We were never young men together. We never got to be stupid or reckless or naive, innocent or wild or any of that. We didn't have those years together – or at all, really. We've been so tired for so long. So when everything goes to shit, and it seems to do that with alarming frequency, we don't have any of those memories to remind us that it'll be okay, or at least that things used to be better. Nothing to cushion the fall, you know? It's not fair. We deserve that solace. If we had met sooner, do you think things would have been different?”

“I suppose so. Sure. Yeah, I can see us now: making out in public just to offend the sensibilities of old ladies everywhere, then getting drunk at some bar and calling in sick to work the next morning so we could stay in bed and eat leftover Chinese food for breakfast. Man, I bet your parents would have hated me. They'd say I was a bad influence, that I seduced their honorable, virtuous son and lead him down the path of vice. Imagine that; me a bad influence on you.

“Stranger things have happened. Do you really think that's what it would have been like?”

“Not really. It's a nice thought, though.”

“...I don't suppose you'd want to go out and get totally hammered tonight, huh?”

“No. But we can order Chinese food for breakfast and eat it in bed instead, if you want. We'll even ask for extra fortune cookies.”

“I'll get the phone.”

Aug. 8th, 2011

(no subject)

[ Part 3 in an accidental same-scene-three-ways set. Part 1 Part 2 ]

Rusted hinges shrieked in protest as Tanim shoved open the roof door and stepped out. "Goddammit," he muttered, hunching against the frigid wind that tugged at his hair and coat. He made his way toward the only point of light in the dismal night: the cherry glow of a cigarette poised between slender fingers.

"What the hell are you doing out here?"

Daren didn't turn to acknowledge the other man's arrival. Something on the horizon seemed to hold his attention, though heavy clouds veiled both moon and stars. "Thinking," he responded after a long moment, so absent he might have spoken only to himself. "Do you mind?"

"Are you crazy? It's fucking cold. You want to catch pneumonia or something?" Tanim jerked his head toward the stairwell. "Come inside."

Daren shrugged and lifted the cigarette to his lips. "Doesn't really matter. I'm sick either way."

Tanim wasn't sure whether Daren believed such ass-backward logic or if he just enjoyed taunting his companion. He took the bait either way. "So, what, you figure you might as well tempt death a little more?"

"Why do you care?"

Such indifference wasn't unexpected, but it bit at Tanim anyway. "Fuck you," he scowled, barely resisting the urge to slap the smirk which twitched at the corner of Daren's thin lips. "You really don't care at all, do you?"

The accusation earned him nothing but a humorless chuckle and an exhale of acrid smoke. "Go back to bed, dear."

At that Tanim almost took hold of Daren's arm to drag him downstairs, willing or not, but managed to restrain himself. "Come with me and I will," he offered instead, attempting to veil frustration with reasonable compromise. In response Daren took a long, calm drag from the cigarette and said nothing. Tanim refused to admit defeat. "Fine. Then I'm staying." He snatched the smoldering stick from Daren's fingers and sucked in an agitated breath. The younger man regarded him for a moment before drawing a lighter and fresh cigarette from his pocket. He inhaled first, with much more care than Tanim had, then passed it over as the other cigarette burned down.

"You're a stubborn man."

Tanim snorted and ground the butt beneath his shoe.

"Damn right I am."

Aug. 6th, 2011

(no subject)

[ Part 2 of an accidental same-scene-3-ways set. Part 1 Part 3 ]

How Daren managed to creep from his side in the night Tanim never knew. Even alert to the point of paranoia, Tanim somehow drifted just enough into sleep for his companion to slip from between the blankets and find his way through the dark apartment. It seemed that every night now the older man woke to the disorienting loneliness of cold sheets and an empty bed. And so tonight, like every night, he disengaged himself from the knot of cloth tangled about his legs and sought his absent lover.

Moonlight streaming through the tall bay windows cast the living room in alternating bands of black and silver. Tanim left the lights off, honoring the chosen darkness of the man perched on the edge of the couch. He came around until he stood to one side of the motionless figure, their shadows bleeding together on the carpet. He didn't sit; without a sign of acknowledgment from Daren such intrusion into this private moment seemed a gross breach of conduct.

"Daren," Tanim waited until expressionless black eyes flicked up to meet his. "How long have you been out here?" He received no response, only a dismissive shrug as Daren's sullen gaze slid away again. Tanim knelt at the man's feet. With a light touch to his knee he pleaded gently, "come back to bed. It's cold out here. Besides, I can't sleep without you next to me."

The bony leg beneath Tanim's fingers pulled away as Daren drew into himself with a visible wince. “It eats at me, Tanim." His voice fell heavy with the weight of too many sleepless nights. He pressed a hand to his chest as if feeling for the intruder within. "This thing inside me. This darkness. It's eating me alive.”

A shiver crawled up Tanim's spine. “I know, darling." He nodded and swallowed down words better left unsaid. "I know."

Daren hugged his arms around himself, fragile beneath the moon's harsh illumination. "When I'm gone,” he wondered aloud, "will you find someone else?"

The question blindsided Tanim. He shook his head in disbelief. "What? No. No, you know I won't. There's never been anyone but you, Daren. There never will be. How can you even think such a thing?" But the man would not be persuaded. "You'll find someone else," Daren argued, resigned to his fate already. "Someone better. Someone who isn't rotting from the inside out."

"Stop, stop," Tanim almost moaned the words, wounded by the accusation despite its roots in self loathing. Without registering his own motion he rose and knelt over his companion, cupping one gaunt cheek in his hand. "I would never--"

"Someone who isn't dying."

"Stop saying that!"

Tanim wasn't sure which frightened him more – the sudden distraught panic in his voice or the fingers which now gripped his lover's thin shoulders as if to shake such madness from him physically. He drew in a slow breath and unclenched his hands, desperate to calm the hysteria hammering in his chest. "You are the first love," he swore, forcing Daren to hold his gaze, "the only love. There will never be anyone but you. Never. Now please, beloved, just come back to bed. We can talk about this later. Come to bed, Daren."

For a moment Tanim was sure Daren would refuse again, but instead he hung his head and muttered, "I'm so tired," half confession and half apology. Sinking back to the floor at Daren's feet, Tanim nodded in exhausted agreement. "So am I.” After that they spoke no more, only sat in weary silence as the moon climbed higher in the sky. Tanim was a patient man; he would wait at Daren's side all night if necessary.

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