The tie squeezed like a noose around his neck and though Tanim loosened it with a wince, the sensation of constriction didn’t ease. He nodded gratefully as the bartender refilled his tumbler of bourbon and downed the liquid without savoring its taste. He wasn’t drinking tonight for enjoyment; he was drinking to get drunk, to forget, to let go. And the sooner the better.

“Rough day?”

Tanim glanced sidelong as another young man slid onto the stool to his right, a drink already clasped between manicured fingers. Bright blue eyes gleamed from beneath pale lashes, the tightly curled hair above like coils of spun gold. The man might have been a Greek statue brought to life, his lips as perfect as if a sculptor labored over their graceful curves. Tanim swallowed, momentarily struck dumb by the creature smirking sweetly over the rim of his drink. “You could say that,” he finally replied, wishing he hadn’t finished his drink so quickly; he could use something to parch his dry throat, not to mention ease his nerves.

“Want to tell me about it?” Beneath the countertop Tanim felt the stranger’s hand slide slowly up his thigh, coming to rest obscenely close to his groin. Any other night he might have shaken off the touch and retreated with a stammered excuse, but not this time; this was what he had come for, after all, nervous or not. Although he’d never yet partaken in this particular dance he had observed it many times now and knew the steps well. First casual conversation neither party paid any real attention to, followed by a proffered drink, a little surreptitious caressing, and then the nonchalant yet highly orchestrated withdrawal to the privacy of a bathroom stall or motel room. No, he had never played a role in this dance, but he imagined it every night and witnessed it often.

The fingers on his thigh curled and Tanim had to bite back a groan at the pressure. Slender fingers, yes, but their possessive caress promised hidden strength, careless confidence. He wondered how they would feel digging into his skin, or perhaps dragging through his hair. “We can go somewhere more… private,” the man offered with a twitch of his mouth as if sensing Tanim’s struggle to maintain composure. Tanim licked his own dry lips and managed to not stammer, “I’d like that. Yeah.”

“Good,” The hand slid away, though the knowing smile remained. The stranger rose first, wending between tables and patrons on his way to the bathroom. Tanim followed a moment later.


[ Meet Alexander, the beautiful and unapologetic man-whore to whom Tanim surrenders his virginity – and then, you know, fucks a bunch more times. Alex is a paper doll character; he literally exists only to pick up men in bars (and probably 90% of the other places he goes) and toy with poor Tanim. Here he is mocking Tanim about being hung up on Daren, pushing Daren too far to spectacular results, and inadvertently getting in the middle of a lover’s spat. ]


How is it possible to be both apathetic and ravenous? To feel at once hollow and full of hunger? I know I was not always this brute beast yet I cannot recall the man I might have been before. I am a thing of impulse and extremity, willingly suffering prolonged despair to grasp brief moments of furtive, illicit passion. Even then I’m never filled, though, never completed beyond that fleeting shudder of ecstasy. As sweat cools on my skin already that sense of peace and rightness is draining, and in its absence there remains nothing but aching emptiness. My body bends so easily to another’s will yet I have no power of my own to reign in the desire which drives me to such madness. How will I ever find peace when these baser demands supersede every other want and need?


[ I shouldn't love angsty Tanim, but I do. Oh god I do. ]


For a moment Daren stared at the pink paper taped to his door without quite registering its meaning. Fever fogged his mind, made his thoughts as sluggish and heavy as his limbs. It wasn’t until the doorknob in his hand refused to turn that the severity of his situation jarred him back to reality. Evicted. He had finally been evicted. Still eying the notice, he cursed himself for assuming this time would be like all the others, a bluff from a landlord kind enough to wait a few weeks while he scrambled for rent money. Apparently he’d scrambled one too many times, though, and now he’d lost his only shred of luck to date.

The dingy hallway started to spin and Daren leaned back against the wall, head bowed, eyes shut tight, waiting out the wash of nausea. He almost longed for the blanket of fever induced senselessness again, anything to ease the panic and dread which bombarded him now. Where would he go? He had no money, nowhere to stay, no friends to call upon in this hour of desperate need. Then, unbidden, Tanim’s sweet, patient face came to mind. Daren knew he need only reach out to the man and none of this would matter; Tanim would swoop in like a knight in shining armor if given the opportunity. But he wouldn’t tell Tanim, of course. Couldn’t. Daren had devoted too much effort to convincing Tanim he wasn’t a damaged, unstable shell of a human, and he would rather be out on the street than shatter that illusion. A foolish concern, he knew, when the alternative meant risking his already declining health, but he simply couldn’t bear revealing such weakness. He was damned either way, so there was no point in dragging Tanim into this as well.

Footsteps on the stairwell shook Daren from his morose thoughts and reminded him he couldn’t linger here. Swallowing, he turned away from the mocking eviction notice and retreated back into the dreary night. He comforted himself with the knowledge that this wouldn’t be the first time he spent the night on the street, even this sick. He just had to keep moving to stay ahead of the cold and the weariness and the aching. Simple, right?


The walk from elevator to front door nearly finished him but Tanim finally fumbled his keys into the lock and stepped inside with a heavy sigh, coat slipping from slumped shoulders to pool on the tile. The traffic in which he had spent the last hour only compounded a spectacularly horrible day. After an early morning, spilled coffee, back to back meetings, deadlines that kept him far past closing, and then a river of gridlock traffic the entire way home, he’d long given up on salvaging his remaining hours and only wanted to crawl into bed. He didn’t even bother to stop by the kitchen for a belated dinner but made straight down the hallway. His stomach could wait for sustenance; his legs, however, wouldn’t hold him upright much longer.

Hoping not to wake his sleeping companion, Tanim pushed the bedroom door open slowly and slipped inside, toeing off his shoes and tossing his suit jacket in the general direction of the dresser.  “You’re late,” Daren purred from the darkness as he stretched languidly beneath the sheets. Light from the hallway fell over their bed and cast his face in sharp shadows, curving over the curl of his smirking mouth. Tanim swallowed as he eyed the outline of his lover’s body, felt the heat of those dark eyes on him. The headache which had plagued him most of the day suddenly didn’t seem so terrible and as he knelt on the bed he managed to quip, “Sorry, dear. You’ll just have to punish me.”

“That’s rather hard to do when you enjoy it so much,” Daren reached out to the tie still knotted at Tanim’s neck, but instead of removing the constricting garment he gave it a tug and drew the man down into his arms. “I missed you,” he murmured into Tanim’s skin, helping divest his lover now of both tie and shirt, and then the rest of the cloth that kept them apart. Finally freed of his stifling work clothes, Tanim groaned in relief and replied, “You have no idea. For a while there it felt like I’d never get home. I thought I was trapped in Purgatory.” With a sleepy grin he added, “But if I was, then this must be Heaven, so I suppose it all worked out.”

As Tanim expected, Daren snorted at the comment, though he could sense pleased amusement in the derisive sound. “Stay home tomorrow,” the man urged, stroking slender fingers through Tanim’s hair to untangle the silken strands. “You could use the break, and I could use a little time with you when you’re not exhausted. Just tell them you’re sick or something.”

“Mmm…” Tanim buried his face in the curve of Daren’s neck, sleep tugging at his eyelids and weighing down his tongue as he mused, “I do think I feel a slight tickle in the back of my throat…” He sank then into well-deserved sleep, cradled in his lover’s tight embrace, and wouldn’t have heard the next morning’s alarm clock even if he had set it anyway.


[ I love that there’s a storyline where Tanim has a job or something, I don’t even really bother to say what ‘cause who cares, and Daren I guess just hangs around at home until he gets back so they can be snarky and have lots of sex, and that’s about it. Lol Imma good writer. ]


This is the scene I can never quite bring myself to write. The difficulty itself isn’t daunting; it’s just hard for me to commit words to something so central to the story, so pivotal in the lives of my characters. I don’t know how many thousands of times I’ve imagined this moment yet every time the words, the gestures, the silences differ slightly and it feels wrong to make them so… official. There’s so much here to commit to text: Tanim revealing the past of sin and sex he finds so shameful, the sick desires he’s so sure will drive Daren away forever; and even more than this, the love he bears for Daren but would willingly ignore to keep the man in his life. And while Tanim is revealing all of these awful secrets, fearing that soon he will be alone again, he has no idea Daren has already chosen, and chosen him. But the man waits until Tanim has run out of words and stands braced for inevitable rejection before taking his hands, or maybe touching his cheek, and admitting his own burden. It isn’t easy for Daren to acknowledge something as intrusive as love even to himself, let alone to Tanim, yet he forces the words just the same. Doing so changes everything about their lives, their individual futures now forever intertwined for better and worse. I suppose in a way it is daunting, trying to do right by them, to honor this moment of such intense vulnerability and intimacy. Maybe one day I’ll manage it; until then I will let the fear and revelation and beautiful wonder of this scene remain theirs alone.


[ Although Tanim and Daren exist in hundreds, if not thousands, of different storylines spanning who knows how many genres, settings, and time periods, there’s one I consider the “main” or dominant storyline. This one has been around the longest, is the most established, and is the one which I write about most often. I decided since I refer to different parts of this storyline so much I ought to give my readers a basic outline of the whole story. ]


First, a brief sketch of Tanim and Daren’s lives before they meet. Tanim is born the eldest son of an affluent family steeped in the rules and trappings of high society. He is raised with the understanding that he will follow in his father’s footsteps and eventually take over as president of the company which his father himself built. Tanim begins his training from a young age and is in every way the obedient, proper son – that is, until in his late teens he begins to develop alarming, inappropriate desires. He feels a near constant longing to surrender himself that is at once sexual and yet transcends physical need and becomes something almost spiritual, an all-encompassing impulse to give every part of himself to another. Living with such a shameful secret becomes unbearable, and when Tanim’s father dies while his son is in his early twenties, Tanim chooses to flee the city and cut off all contact with his family instead of entering into the business. Ostensibly this is to protect his loved ones from any public humiliation should his proclivities ever become known, but it’s really to free him from his own responsibilities.

Daren, only a few years Tanim’s junior, leads a far different life from his high society counterpart. However, as Tanim (and therefore the reader) never learns the whole story, I’m not going to give it away here. Suffice it to say, experiences and circumstances in Daren’s childhood leave him emotionally scarred and physically damaged, so withdrawn from the world he barely bothers to function beyond immediate necessity. He is a cold, uncaring man who wants nothing and gives even less, who long lost the ability to fend off the nightmares of his past and now lives with their constant torment.

Tanim’s self-imposed exile to a city far from his own will eventually bring their worlds together. When they meet in that same city some years later, Tanim in his mid-thirties and Daren his early thirties, both are miserable yet unable, or unwilling, to change their situations on their own. For all that Tanim lives in a lavish penthouse apartment he has become a wreck and a recluse, spending half his time drowning his guilt in alcohol and sleeping pills, the other half in the arms of anonymous lovers. Daren, meanwhile, calls a dismal basement apartment home, or at least residence, and is too physically and mentally unstable to hold a job. They cross paths at a local coffee shop, though it’s Tanim who notices Daren, not the other way around. He keeps his distance for a while, yet finally manages to earn Daren’s trust enough to strike up a strange sort of friendship.

Over the next several months their relationship develops, both unwilling to admit to the other that they may want more than mere friendship. However, eventually Daren’s physical condition begins to deteriorate, as it does periodically. Not wanting Tanim to realize how precarious his situation is, Daren decides to end their acquaintanceship by abruptly cutting off contact with him. Predictably, this doesn’t go well. While Daren, unable to care for himself alone, slowly worsens, Tanim tries to numb his concern, confusion, and hurt with his usual mixture of alcohol and soporifics.

Things take a turn for the much worse when a week or two later Daren returns home to find he has been evicted from his apartment. With nowhere else to go, and still refusing to face Tanim in such a condition, he ends up on the street. When Tanim finds him a few nights later in an alley near his own apartment building, Daren is so feverish he’s senseless and nearly unconscious. Tanim manages to get Daren up to his apartment and nurses him back to health as best he can over the course of the next weeks. Eventually all of the unspoken, messy feelings between them come out and they decide to start an actual romantic relationship.

Barring the bumps expected from two damaged men trying to sustain a functioning relationship, their bond continues to strengthen and for the next year or so they’re relatively happy – or at least much less miserable than if they were alone. That is, of course, until Daren’s health begins once more to deteriorate, and with it his emotional stability. This time there is no nursing him back to health, though; he is on the downward slide now and all Tanim can do is care for Daren as his body slowly fails. After Daren’s death Tanim is left utterly bereft and lacks the will to fight such heartache. Succumbing to grief and loneliness, he follows his lover soon after.


[ If you actually read all of that, holy shit. Thank you, and I’m sorry. That really is the super super short version. ]


He waited an hour and a half, through three cups of coffee slowly nursed until each grew tepid and he drained their bitter dregs. The barista seemed to sense he had been stood up and refilled his cup for a fourth time with a small, pitying smile before turning away to serve more engaging customers. Tanim stared down at the dark liquid but couldn’t bring himself to take another sip. The previous cups already sat ill in his stomach, stale and acidic. The adrenaline rush he should have experienced after ingesting so much caffeine seemed instead to have hardened into a lump below his sternum. Or at least he told himself the tightness in his chest was from the coffee; he wasn’t ready yet to admit its source was instead a bewildering combination of helpless concern and unwarranted disappointment.

Tanim knew he should have left long before but a masochistic desire to twist the knife one last time had kept him waiting here like a fool too lovesick to recognize rejection. Now, though, the man at least admitted defeat, if not the rest. Daren wasn’t coming today either, that much was clear. Tanim wanted desperately to believe something had kept the man away against his will these past few days yet still he found himself wondering, what if it’s me? But that was a thought he definitely couldn’t face right now. With a sigh Tanim tossed an uncounted wad of bills on the table and stepped out into the chill night, turning his coat collar against the wind as he headed down the street. He would go home and settle his stomach with something a little stronger than coffee and put all thought of Daren and whatever their relationship was, or wasn’t, out of his mind another day. Maybe for good.

Right, Tanim thought with a deprecating snort as the rain began. Good luck with that.


He waited an hour and a half, though the winter air numbed his fingers and made his eyes water. Daren could have gone home, should have in fact, but some masochistic desire kept him rooted to the pavement, eyes fixed on the café across the street. As if he could feel Tanim’s thoughts brush against his mind, seeking his unknown location and begging for an explanation, Daren thought, Stop, Tanim. Give me up. I’m gone, you fool. Let go. We are nothing; we were never anything. This is done. But he understood Tanim well enough to know the man was too stubborn, or perhaps too lovesick, to give in so easily, no matter how obvious his rejection. We’ll both be better off this way¸ why can’t he see that?

Daren watched as Tanim finally emerged from the café and turned his coat collar up against the chill night, walking away down the street with a definite note of dejection in his gait. As much as Daren hated causing Tanim any amount of pain, he wanted so desperately to take this as a sign that maybe Tanim had finally accepted the finality of their situation. Maybe now he’d move on and forget about the man he loved without cause and find someone better suited – or at the very least someone less damaged, someone who actually had something to offer him in return.

Right, Daren thought as the rain began, sending a shiver through his already feverish form. Good luck with that.


[ Guess who’s still on jury duty? ]

ah, public transit
seven’s too fucking early
warm bed far away


ah, public transit
even here there’s no escape
traffic traps us all


ah, public transit
high school acquaintance gets on
turn face to window


ah, jury duty
second week, feel like a pro
pity the newbies


ah, jury duty
where are the jump ropes and swings?
this isn’t recess!


Harrow stared up the grassy slope as he caught his breath, wondering how the last hundred yards in a five day trek could somehow seem the longest. At least a reward awaited them on the other side; warm fires, dry tents, clean clothes, and best of all, something hot and fresh to eat after days of stale bread and dried beef. He didn’t think he’d ever be so happy to see an army encampment as when he topped that rise.

His men began to pass him on their way up, footsteps weary but voices raised in hopeful good humor, and Harrow turned his thoughts back to the moment at hand. He glanced back once to the crest of the hill and moved to follow them when a glint of light ahead caught his eye. He was still staring at the field of swaying grass in search of the flicker’s source when a dull thunder rumbled from somewhere ahead, its tremors reaching his tired feet a few seconds later. Just as the first riders appeared over the ridge Harrow realized what had caused the brief flash of light, because he’d seen it a dozen times before: the sun reflecting off the polished steel of a spear tip.

“Cavalry!” someone yelled, and another added in horrified understanding, “It’s an ambush!” Chaos erupted as the line of horsemen plunged headlong toward Harrow’s meager band. They would be slaughtered, of course, outnumbered as they were and with neither the armor nor weaponry to face such foes on equal footing. Anyway, for all he knew the rest of the army already lay slaughtered beyond the hill and no help would come from any direction for them. Yet habit trumped nihilism and Harrow found himself shouting orders to draw blades all the same, his own already in hand. However futile the situation might be, he trusted his men to fight and knew they trusted and depended on him to lead. Better to die on your feet than kneeling before your foe.

A rider bore down on him and Harrow raised his sword with a bellow, slashing out with a rage petulantly fueled by the idea he’d come all this way only to be robbed of the simple hope for one hot meal. He thought too, as he parried and dodged, of the men who would fall at his side; the ones who sat around the fires each night and spoke of wives or sisters or mothers, who wanted to go home as much as he but had never spoken the words for fear of mockery. None of them wanted to be here, not really, but this was the way of things and if you were lucky you went home with only scars and stories. If you were unlucky, well… you found yourself in a situation like this, and stayed a lot longer than you’d intended.

A pike knocked the sword from his hands and without thinking Harrow reached for the scything blade, determined to take at least one of the bastards with him. The rider reared back and the pike slipped from Harrow’s hands, leaving long gashes in his palms he barely felt. He retreated to where his sword had fallen amongst the trampled grass but before he could reach it something struck the back of his head and he fell in a daze of dancing stars. His last sight before slipping into unconsciousness was his own blood pooling on the torn earth, a sight which he realized should have bothered him, though he couldn’t remember exactly why.


[ Guess who has jury duty? ]


ah, jury duty
a true test of my patience
one no doubt I’ll fail


ah, jury duty
no cafeteria here
we eat on our laps


ah, jury duty
these people are too perky
just fuel for my rage


ah, jury duty
“hurry up and wait, bitches
like we give a shit”


ah, jury duty
is this service to my state
or purgatory?


[ To be fair, now that I’m on a case it doesn’t bother me so much; it’s the sitting around for hours not even knowing if they’re ever going to call you that’s super frustrating. That being said, having to get up hella early to take the bus to the courthouse is also unpleasant. XD ]


I felt no hesitation after that first time and when he drew me down by the fire I surrendered eagerly. Even in my wildest fantasies, numerous and varied as they were, I had never quite given myself leave to imagine he might really share this hunger, let alone act upon it with such intensity. Whatever aches and rug burns I suffered the next morning were worth it for the sight of Daren’s pale skin lit by the flame’s glow, his eyes glittering down at me like hot coals. He’d looked as wild and regal as a god of fire and burned me to ashes like one with lips that melted me, fingers that carved me, hips that pressed and molded me into a shape of his own desire. I had been wrong about him; so blessedly, wonderfully wrong. He was cold, yes, remote and reserved so much of the time, but he harbored a beast kin to my own and saw in me someone worth claiming. And so trembling, gasping, I gave anything he wanted and everything I am to this beautiful dark god. Afterward he chuckled, a sound deep in his throat that made me shiver, and held me as I caught my breath. “It’s different, isn’t it,” he said, a note of wonder and a wealth of meaning in his sparse words. I could only nod; my mouth was busy showing my own wordless thanks.


[ I haven’t written anything from Tanim’s point of view since September? Damn, boy, you gonna let Daren get all the attention? ]