#1404

from:  tanim.ocean@gmail.com
to:  foreveryourghost@gmail.com
subject:  In Passing

Lover,

I felt you today, like a dream only more elusive. The wind blew past me, muggy and warm, and suddenly we were in a confessional, tucked away and claustrophobic. And you whispered to me through the wooden slats, “Priest, tell me your sins.”

It was like a memory, but I have no recollection of it. And yet it felt so familiar.

Tan

 

from:  foreveryourghost@gmail.com
to:  tanim.ocean@gmail.com
subject:  Re: In Passing

That’s because it is a blood memory, a bone memory. Your mind has forgotten it but your body and spirit remember.

 

#1267

[ Another beautiful piece my girlfriend wrote about Tanim and Daren that she graciously allowed me to post. Go give her some love. ]

 

His slender fingers wrapped around the microphone stand like a snake’s seductive, seditious embrace.  But instead of constricting the life from it, his grip only gave the music more strength.  His voice filtered through the windscreen, mellifluous and haunting like molten gold, and traveled, molasses-thick, through analog and electricity, and filled his head with the feel of velvet.

Gods, who was he?

Of course Tanim knew his name.  It was plastered everywhere, on bulletin boards and bus stops and internet pages, even the ticket of admission in his right back pocket.  But he wanted to know who this boy was, not the face he showed the world.  It was shaded with an ever-so-slightly different color.  But Tanim could see through the incongruence and into the sorrow-husk behind it all.

He had to know what he sounded like.  No, not singing.  Tanim had already memorized every single breath, every whetting of the musician’s lips, every minor fall and major fifth.  But what did he sound like when he was uncertain?  When he couldn’t fall asleep?  The purple shadows under his eyes couldn’t be attributed to make up.  The boy always looked half dead.  Or maybe Tanim and the rest of the world were half alive.

The roaring of the crowd startled him.  The song had ended and the drummer commenced with a slow, sensual beat as the lead singer took a drink from a bottle of water.  He closed his eyes and poured the remaining liquid over his head.  It beaded down his white hair like frost, followed the feline angle of his jaw, and slow-motion crawled down the strip of bare chest where his shirt was unbuttoned.  Tanim’s heart began to pound.

The boy opened his eyes and directly met his gaze.  For a second–minute, hour, moment, forever?–they stared at one another.  And then the performer blinked and spoke into the microphone, his piercing eyes never leaving Tanim’s.

“This is to a stranger.”

And he began to sing.

#1256

[ My girlfriend wrote this story about Tanim and Daren and gave me permission to post. You should check out her page - her poetry is truly gorgeous. ]

 

The air was heavy with the acrid stench of urine.  A few vagrants slept off their stupor against a pillar.  Those unconcerned about anonymity openly snorted and shot up.  She passed a faded blue and white handicapped spot that had been distorted by a brownish smudge where the stick person’s head would’ve been.  She noticed similar stains throughout the underground parking garage.  It didn’t surprise Her.  This was where everyone went when they stopped caring.

It was the last place anyone expected to find the two gentlemen.  That’s exactly why She had come here first.  They had everything at their disposal: money, weaponry, security.  No one would ever think to look for them here.  The dark-haired one barely let Him stand up unassisted, let alone expose Him to such filth.

She had to give them accolades: they were smart.  Her assignments were never intelligent about the hunt.  She knew how to play this game better than anyone, but She had to admit that this couple had proved to be two thorns in Her side.

It was time to pull them out.

She heard footsteps at Her back and picked up Her speed.  About time, She thought.  She’d worn the armband—the red one with the white wings—on Her left sleeve.  Everyone knew that She was one of the Fallen, and yet no one had dared approached Her for fear that the urban legends were true.

Some of them held a modicum of validity, but the majority of it was myth.  No, They didn’t have the ability to dream leap.  No, They couldn’t force a body to move against its will.  But one rumor was true and unfortunately, there was no denying it: They did have wings.  And They couldn’t exactly hide them.  She’d been burned in training and as a result, Her wings were an ashen grey color.  At least She didn’t stand out.

The footsteps became more rushed as though Her pursuer had broken into a jog.  The more frequently She heard the scuffing of shoes on the pavement, the more She quickened Her pace.  She didn’t stand much taller than five and a half feet, but She had a determined stride.  Besides, if She flicked Her wings just right, She could catch a little air and coast without becoming too airborne.

She rounded the corner onto the fourth floor Level E parking.  No one ever went below Level C, not if they wanted to come back up alive.  Then again, She wouldn’t exactly call what was happening on the surface “living.”  But people only went farther down the alphabet for suicide.

Yes.  This was exactly where She needed to be.

She stopped and so did the footsteps behind Her.  Keeping Her back to Her pursuer, She went about removing Her gloves.  She hated having to wear them, but it was simply too dangerous: a Fallen only removed His/Her gloves to kill.

The man spoke in a beseeching manner.  “You don’t have to do this.”

She smirked.  “Did you just tell me what to do?”

“It’s not His fault.”

“I suppose you’re going to say it was yours?”

“It’s true.”

“No,” she said turning around to face him.  “I know what’s true.  I always know what’s true.  That’s why they always send me.” She took a step closer.  “And you’re lying.”  She held her hand over his chest.  She didn’t need to make contact for it to hurt; his shirt was already steaming.

“Y-you’re not—” he gritted through the pain, “—not s-supposed to…kill…h-hu-humans…”

“No, but I can hurt them all I want.  Now,” she leaned in close so that their lips grazed, “Tell me where he is.”

“Priest.”

She would recognize that voice anywhere.  It had been so long, but Her memory was vivid enough that it may have been just that morning when He braced himself above Her.  Images of their past relations surged to Her consciousness, and She could barely concentrate.

She slowly turned around.  Gods, He was beautiful.  But how could She have forgotten that?  They’d known one another since infancy and even then, He was uniquely magnificent.  Any of the Fallen were lovely to behold, but there was a wraith-like mastery to His features, His long body, His wiry fingers.  Biting her lip, She remembered how those fingers had felt inside Her, reaching, higher and higher.  His stark white hair flowed down to settle on His wings.  For a moment, She was reminded of softly falling snow.

She clenched Her jaw and stubbornly willed Her memories of Him to depart.  As long as He was just another assignment, She could do it.  As long as She didn’t think about it, She could do it.

But for a second, for one Damned second, She hesitated before saying His name, and She knew He’d fly out of this alive.

“Daren.”

“It’s been—”

“—A lifetime,” she finished breathlessly.

His eyes fell on the crumpled body lying on the pressed concrete.  He looked back at Her, His eyes smoldering with a rage so wild that for all Her bravery, Her throat worked to gulp down a lump of fear.

“Step away from him.  Now.”  He spoke the last word so quietly, but He may as well have shouted it at gunpoint.  Instinctively, She obeyed without question, Her body still yielding to His seniority, but She maintained a defensive position, angling Her body so that She still fully faced Him.

His wings dragged against the dirty ground as He knelt down to cup the man’s chin.  He gentle raised his head for him.  “Tanim?”

The voice that responded was hoarse and barely audible.  “Mmy…my King?”

Daren lovingly caressed his cheek and kissed his forehead.  His lips brushed the worry lines on his skin.  The adoration in His voice belied the murder in His eyes.  “Everything is all right.”  Using His teeth, He tugged the glove from His free hand and placed it over Tanim’s shirt where the cloth had blackened and curled.

Instantly, the man shuddered in relief as the scorching heat in his chest dissipated.  Daren kept His eyes fixed on Tanim.  His eyelashes fluttered and he noticeably sagged his shoulders in obvious relief.

“You will suffer for this.”  Daren hadn’t looked away from His lover, but there was no mistaking to whom the threat was directed.  Then, as though to punctuate the promise of brutality, He looked Her straight in the eyes.  “Priest.”

She clenched and unclenched Her hands.  “You don’t belong here, Daren.”  You belong with me.  “You…” She wet Her lips, “you belong with someone else.”

“No, I was consigned to someone else.  I have chosen to be with him.”

She couldn’t mask Her disgust.  “But it’s sick, unnatural, a violation of—”

She was thrown back with the flick of an ice-cold hand.  Her wings had been spread open and pinned to the wall on either side of Her head with sharp, silver daggers.  She hadn’t even seen Him move, but now His breath was cool and fragrant just inches from Hers.

“If you ever burn him again, I will tear off your wings.”

She ignored the pain lancing through every single feather.  “Daren, I can help you.”

“By hurting the man I love?” He leaned in so close that for one insane second, She thought He might kiss Her.  But only wrath coated His tongue and made His white teeth glisten.  “You branded him.”

“It’ll heal.”

He backhanded Her across the face and the taste of pennies filled Her mouth.

“Fine, hit me. It won’t change anything!”  Not how I feel about you.

A menacing smile spread across His full lips.  “And if I end you?  You’ll never touch him again.  That’s a change.”

“They’ll send someone else.  Daren, please, just think about this!  You know where you’re from.  You know Our laws.  You’ll be hunted down and punished for your crimes.”

He arched a brow and sneered.  “My crimes?  Tell me my crimes, Priest.”

“You know what you’ve done—”

“—What is my sentence?” He shook Her shoulders roughly with each word.

She winced in pain but spat out the answer nonetheless.  “Perversion.  Defamy of ideals.  Denigration of just Union.”  Leaving me.  Leaving me and falling in love with someone else.

He laughed bitterly and crossed back to the man still pathetically draped across the concrete.  He stood over him protectively, like a wolf guarding its cub.  He looked feral and ethereal and She knew She had made a mistake by harming the human.  But it had been out of Her control.  She couldn’t stand the thought of this plain, lanky, un-extraordinary man ravaging Daren’s body with kisses, gripping onto His shoulders as he thrust himself into Him from behind.

He was supposed to have been Hers.

She watched enviously as He slowly helped His lover to his feet.  He leaned heavily n Daren and looked up at Her, his face haggard.  She expected more malice in his gaze, but his expression was startlingly sympathetic.

“I’m sorry.”

She narrowed Her eyes.  “Excuse me?”

He cleared his throat and used Daren’s solid arms to stand up a little taller.  “I’m sorry.”

It was Daren’s turn to be taken aback.  “Tanim, darling, what are you apologizing for?”

His breathing was labored, but he spoke with conviction.  His eyes never left Hers.  “I’m sorry that He doesn’t love you.”

Two beings, so different, one supported by an Angel, the other tacked to the wall by the same winged creature.  And yet they had something in common.

Her lip trembled.  “He was mine.

“No,” Tanim replied, “He was never yours.  He wasn’t given a choice.  None of you are ever given a choice.”  When he made to shuffle towards Her, Daren placed a restraining hand on his shoulder, but he didn’t stop advancing until they were only a few feet apart.  Priest had begun to bleed, the warm, viscous gold flowing from the puncture marks in each wing.

“I would change it,” he said softly, “if I could.  It’s not fair to any of your kind… but there’s something you need to know.”

He took a step closer.  Daren stood behind him, silent and white as porcelain.  When Tanim was close enough, he reached out and tucked a stray lock of hair behind Her ear.  She turned Her head to one side disgusted by his mere proximity.

“You need to know this,” he said.  Tanim leaned forward so that she could smell the singed flesh beneath his sweater.  He pressed his lips against her cheek and kissed you.  “Every time he was inside of you, every time he shuddered that molten gold into your body…” he whispered directly into her ear, “He was thinking of me.”

There was no way She could’ve stopped him.  He bit into Her neck, his teeth ripping into tendons and connective tissues.  He devoured Her jugular like a blood-deprived vampire.  Warm gold flowed out of Her neck and into his mouth, down his throat, onto his shirt, tear-dropping onto the pavement.

She was briefly aware of Daren standing nearby.  He stood calmly with His arms folded over His chest.  She tried to cry out His name, beg Him to help Her, but He just stood there and smiled as His lover drained Her of every last drop until She no longer

A cold hand brought him back to his surroundings.  “Darling.”

Tanim opened His eyes and turned towards the voice.  He still held the limp form of the Angel in His arms.

“Daren,” he sighed.  He didn’t think it was possible, but His lover looked more beautiful than ever.  “My King,” He said, soft wonder glazing over His eyes, a peaceful smile settling over His Aurelian lips.

The snow Angel smiled and took Tanim’s hand.  Priest slumped to the ground as the two men embraced.  They spoke against one another’s hair.

“It’s done,” Daren said, an era of waiting satisfied in one exhalation.

“I wasn’t sure I could do it.”

Daren pulled back slightly, but only to cradle Tanim’s face in His hands.  “My love, you were born to do it.  You were so perfect.”

Tanim looked down at the body.  “Will They look for her?”

He shook His head, silver white locks dislodging and falling over His brow like icicles.  “She’s still alive.”

His brow furrowed and Tanim glanced back at the woman.

Daren smiled and kissed Him softly on the cheek.  “Not there, darling.  In here.”  He placed His palm over Tanim’s heart.  “The gold is yours now.  They’ll never know that it switched hands.”

“Why not?”

“Because no one’s ever killed a Fallen before.”

Tanim suddenly felt a searing in His hands.  They felt feverish, hot to the touch.  He half expected to look down and see them boiling.  “What…” He began.

Daren released His lover and bent down beside Priest.  He removed one glove and retrieved the other from her pocket.  “Put these on, love.”

Tanim did so with Daren’s help.  Once His hands were covered, He wiped the gold from His mouth and smiled.

“What do we do now?”

They leaned against one another, a broken body on the ground, pillars of concrete rising like tombstones, but neither had ever been more alive.

Daren held fast to Tanim’s hand.  “Fly.”

#1165

[ Yesterday I was discussing with my best friend Erika that Tanim and Daren are being stubborn right now; they want attention (especially when I’m doing something that doesn’t involve them, like reading) but when I sit down to write they won’t cooperate. She suggested I force them to do something they wouldn’t want to do in retaliation, something normal folk might do, and when I said “like go to the zoo?” it all went wonderfully downhill from there. The following is Erika’s idea of just what might happen when my boys try to be normal for once. You know it’s going to be good, because the last story she wrote about them was fucking hilarious. Her straight forward style works so well in these situations. Enjoy! ]

 

 

Tanim and Daren Go to the Zoo

One day Tanim was helping Daren nurse a wound he had received in a particularly nasty fight they had got into while getting groceries at the local grocery store. Daren had tried to kiss him in public which had made him uncomfortable, and then in turn offended Daren. Needless to say it ended up with a large cleanup of broken glass and blood on Aisle 6. They escaped just as the police arrived to escort one of them to a mental clinic.

“Why do we do this to ourselves every time? I mean, we are so dysfunctional! We can’t even hold it together while we are getting groceries! Why can’t we just be a normal couple?” Tanim complained as he was dressing Daren’s wounds.

“Darling – it’s just not in our nature…we seem destined for the same dysfunctional routine. Always caught in a cycle of destruction.” Daren paused. “Sometimes I feel as though our lives are just being written for us by some sick minded soul….but I know that sounds crazy.”

“I get the same feeling sometimes!” Tanim agreed. “You know what? Fuck this! This is dumb, we are the holders of our destiny and I want to just do something normal, have just one normal day. That’s all I am asking for.”

“Yeah, but…what do normal people do?”

They both thought about it a moment before Tanim said, “I know…we will go to the zoo!”

“The zoo…?”

“Yeah! The zoo! Normal people do it all the time! Or at least, I’m pretty sure. I think I have a vague memory of my mother taking me to one once. It was the closest thing I have ever felt to being a normal family.”

“Well alight then! The zoo it is. Tomorrow will be a totally normal day. Just two people hanging out at the zoo…”

~

The next day Tanim and Daren got up early and took the tram to the zoo, a picnic basket in hand. It was a great day to go to a zoo, sunny but not too hot on a lovely Saturday morning. Tanim and Daren felt so totally normal. When they got to the zoo the lines were bustling, kids were happily running around, and couples walked hand in hand.

“Where should we go first?” asked Tanim

“Um… let’s go see lions. I have always admired lions and have never been to see them.”

“Lions it is then!”

Tanim and Daren headed off to the large cat area of the zoo.

“Isn’t this great?” said Daren. “Don’t you feel just so normal?”

“Yeah! We are not making a scene, killing each other, being angsty or sexual or anything! Just having a good old time at the zoo!”

“Hey, let’s get some ice cream before we head to the lions!”

“Great idea!”

Tanim and Daren stopped at an ice cream cart to buy some ice cream. Tanim ordered strawberry for himself and chocolate for Daren.

“I’m sorry, we are out of chocolate,” said the clerk.

“Out of chocolate?” Daren choked. “OUT of chocolate…?”

This day… was supposed to be perfection… why must life torture me at every turn?

“HEY! HEY! STOP THAT!” Tanim yelled. “There will be NO italics in this day; do not start getting all angsty on me for stupid shit, Daren, we are a normal family today goddammit.”

“Okay, okay.” Daren stuck his tongue out. “Jeeze, you don’t have to yell at me in public, Mr. I-Don’t-Want-To-Make-Scenes. Okay, I’ll just get vanilla and we will head to the lions. We are still being normal.”

Feeling a bit shaken up but determined to have a LOVELY day at the zoo, Tanim and Daren headed over to the lion enclosure.

“Wow… look how majestic they are, Daren,” Tanim commented. “They are so beautiful. Do you think they are happy here? Such big beasts like that being in a caged environment? It just seems so…”

“HEY, LION!” yelled a rather plump kindergartner who appeared as though he had used his ice cream as a face cream, and was using the remainder to finger paint ice cream on the glass. “DO SOMETHING!! HEY. HEY. HEY. HEY. HEY. HEY LION. LION LION LION. HEY.” The kid banged on the glass, attempting to startle the lion into doing something entertaining.

Tanim froze; he could feel it welling up inside him, hot, spreading from the pit of his stomach, into his limbs, up his throat…

Free the beast…

Looking over, Daren could see Tanim’s eyes had glazed over.

“Shut up, kid! Don’t talk to animals like that,” Daren hastily yelled.

“EXCUSE ME? Don’t talk to my angel like that. He can talk to a lion however he feels!”

BANG BANG.

The mother and Daren spun around to see Tanim hacking away at a small metal gate to the lion den with a crow bar.

“TANIM! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? AND WHERE THE HELL DID YOU FIND THAT?”

Free the beast…

“Okay…” Daren edged closer. “Um, Tanim… remember, we are supposed to be being normal. Come on now… put the crow bar down… This was your idea remember? Tanim, look at me. Seriously, you are going to let a lion loose in the zoo? Just think about that for a moment.”

But before Tanim could stop and think he swung the crow bar hard into the lock on the metal gate, which broke the lock and swung straight into some sort of metal pipe. Liquid and gasses started to rapidly escape. Fortunately, this seemed to snap Tanim out of whatever mental breakdown he was having.

“SHIT! What did I do? Oh my god… I ruined our zoo day…” Tan’s lip started to quiver.

“Hey… hey… it’s alright… maybe we just need to practice…it’s okay, Tanim,” Daren said, trying to be comforting. “Here, have a couple puffs of a cigarette and then let’s get the hell out of here.”

“Good idea…” Tanim lit up his cigarette but before he could smoke it two men in uniforms started to shout and run at them from a distance.

“Forget the cigarette, Tanim, we have to go!”

Tanim quickly threw the cigarette on the ground and started to make a run for it when–

BANG!!!! There was an explosion, taking out the gate and half of the wall to the lion enclosure. Flame quickly started to spread to all the liquid that had spilled on the ground and started engulfing the nearby shrubbery.

Both Tanim and Daren had been knocked of their feet and were on the ground.

“Daren, get up! We seriously need to get the fuck out of here!”

Daren arose just in time to see a large 350 pound lion emerge from the smoke and fire.

By now there were screams erupting and fire spreading rapidly. Tanim helped Daren get up and they started to hobble as fast as they could toward the exit. When they were a good distance away Tanim looked over his shoulder to look upon the zoo in flames, two lions waiting for the plump child and his mother to come down from a tree. Then Tanim looked over at Daren, who had his arm around Tanim’s, helping support both of them to safety.

“You know what…” Tanim said suddenly. “Fuck being normal! I don’t even know why I wanted to be normal in the first place. Yeah, thinking in italics and being angsty all the time can get tiring… but being normal is just so….boring.”

“Yeah! I agree! So what if we are doomed no matter what we do? At least we won’t be like that annoying child and his annoying mother! She was all like ‘EXCUSE ME!’” Daren grinned. “You looked so hot swinging that crowbar too…”

“Really? I don’t even know where I got it from! It just like appeared out of nowhere. It’s just like someone WANTS us to go bat shit crazy all the time!”

“I know what you mean! Our lives could be like a series of short stories or something… they are THAT fucked up.”

“I know, right? Well, at least you are here with me to share in the fucked -up-ness.”

“I’ll always gladly share in the fucked-up-ness with you, Tanim,” Daren said lovingly as they limped away from the burning, horrific scene behind them.

The End

[ 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.

[ This is a story written by my best friend/soul mate in all things nerdy, Stacy, who also wrote "An Afternoon In" after I complained about not knowing how to write a proper fight scene. This untitled story is of a decidedly different flavor, and it is all kinds of wicked wonderful. ]

Daren pulled his tired body up the stairs to the main floor of the house. It had been a long night at the bar, even longer than usual after a brawl broke out over one man’s string of luck at the pool tables. Daren had spent the last hour cleaning up split pool cues and fragments of broken glass, finally clocking out at 3:30 and driving the twenty minutes it took to get home in a haze of street lights and rain. Standing at the top of the stairs, Daren glanced around his unlit living room, his grandmother’s set of antique oak furniture looming darkly in the faint glow of the streetlight outside. A davenport sat against the far wall, its rich scarlet fabric barely visible in the scant light from the window.

“Long night?” Daren started at the voice, turning to look at the man standing in the doorway to the kitchen.

“Tanim…” Daren breathed, “Uh, yeah. There was a fight. I had to clean up.”

“Tch,” said Tanim, moving forward and placing his hand on Daren’s cheek. “Animals. You weren’t hurt, were you?”

“No, I’m fine. Dave broke it up. Chucked ‘em all out on their asses, too! Straight into a giant puddle,” Daren’s heart leaped as Tanim quirked a small smile.

“Well, you’re home now,” Tanim’s right hand slipped down to Daren’s left and began tugging him in the direction of the stairs to the bedroom. “After the move, you’ll never have to worry about that job again. Let’s go to bed.”

Reaching the master bedroom, Tanim made a bee line for the large four-poster oak bed, peeling back the duvet and climbing under it. Daren toed off his sneakers, unzipping his leather jacket and setting it on a chair by the bureau. Stripping off his t-shirt and jeans and dropping them to the floor, he stopped at the edge of the bed and stared. The weak moonlight from the window glanced off of Tanim’s deep black hair, illuminating the pale skin of his face. If Daren concentrated, he could just make out a faint smudge under Tanim’s chin, a line that disappeared into his hair.

“Darling?” Daren’s eyes snapped up to find Tanim looking at him with wide eyes.

“Nothing,” Daren mumbled, pulling the covers back and climbing onto the soft mattress. Reaching across the space, Daren pulled Tanim’s clothed body to him, burying his face in the soft black hair and closing his eyes. “Just thinking…”

~~~~~~~~~~~

Daren finally breached consciousness as the noonday sun shown into his face. Blinking his eyes in sluggish exhaustion, he instinctively reached across the bed to pull Tanim back into his arms, only to encounter cold, empty sheets. Daren’s eyes snapped open and he lunged into a seated position, the sheets pooling softly in his lap. Turning to his left, Daren finally spotted the black-clothed figure of his lover seated on the bench by the large bay window.

“Something wrong, darling?” Tanim queried without turning his head from the gray murk of the outside. There was silence for a moment, and Daren swallowed harshly as Tanim finally turned his pale face to meet Daren’s.

“No…nothing’s wrong. Just…thought you had left. It’s nothing,” Daren stammered. Tanim gave Daren a thin smile, warmth sparking in his normally blank stare. Standing with a dancer’s grace, Tanim moved over to climb on the bed and crawl into Daren’s lap. Daren moved automatically to embrace him, resting his cheek on the cool crown of Tanim’s head.

“Today, Darling. It’s time, don’t you think,” Tanim craned his neck up to gaze with naked vulnerability into Daren’s eyes. Resolutely keeping his gaze from wandering down to the faint smudge of bluish-black, Daren gazed back into Tanim’s dark eyes.

“Yeah. Yeah, today.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Daren stood at the kitchen sink finishing dishes and looking out into the leaden gloom of his back yard. Tamin clung to his back, arms like vices around his waist, humming softly under his breath. Daren breathed deeply, concentrating on the feel of Tanim’s thin, cold body lifting with the swell of his chest.

“Are you ready yet? It’s almost 2:00, Darling. We must be done by 3:30. Darling, it must be 3:30,” Tanim rambled, never moving his head from Daren’s back, but tightening his arms with every second. Daren finished rinsing the final dish (his father’s mug, he noted absently) and placed in on the rack to dry. Gently disengaging Tanim from his waist, Daren turned around and leaned back against the sink, placing his hands on Tanim’s shoulders and pulling him forward until they were slotted together from the chest down.

“One more time, Tanim? Please…?” Daren moved his tanned hands up to Tanim’s ashen face, thumbing the blue circles under his blank eyes. Tanim gazed back, eyes flicking back and forth before leaning in to place a cool, chaste kiss on Daren’s chapped lips.

“Anything, Darling. But we must be done by 3-” Daren silenced him with a rough, possessive kiss. Crushing him against his chest, Daren dragged Tanim around and in the direction of the stairs.

~~~~~~~~~

Standing on one of his grandmother’s oak dining room chairs, Daren glanced quickly out the attic window then turned his eyes back to Tanim’s. He could detect a slightly manic edge in Tanim’s normally blank gaze, something strong and desperate coloring his movements.

“Only a few moments, Darling, just a few. Everything will be alright, you’ll see. Just a few moments, the timing must be right,” Tanim reached out distractedly to adjust the sleeves on Daren’s black turtle-neck sweater. Daren captured Tanim’s wandering hands in his warm, tanned ones, ducking his head as much as he could until Tanim turned his eyes to meet Daren’s.

“Yes love, everything will be alright,” Daren mumbled gently as the Westminster tune tolled from the grandfather clock downstairs. “I’ll see you in a moment,” Daren whispered softly, and hooked his foot around the leg of the chair.

[ My roommate Erika wrote this story about a year ago. I laugh my ass off every time I read it. I guess this is Tanim and Daren from a psychology major's perspective. It's probably more realistic than anything I write. ]

Tanim was really worried about Daren. He had been acting so weird lately, talking to himself and speaking of weird things; sometimes he was even incomprehensible. He seemed so far away and distant. He kept talking about death, how it was inevitable for everyone, how everyone dies alone. Sometimes he would get worked up, flitting around rambling about death, timing, and responsibility. Most of it didn’t make any sense. The thing that really concerned Tanim, though, was the fact that on some occasions Daren would work himself up into such an intense frenzy that he started to talk about people whose time needed to come, and that it was his divine responsibility to carry this out. This had only happened once or twice, though, so Tanim didn’t know what to think of it quite yet. He decided to wait it out; perhaps Daren was just so stressed out because he got fired from his sales job. The next day Tanim went to work as usual. He had gone to bed without saying a word to Daren – he was just so distant these days. Tanim was working on some spread sheets when he suddenly got a important call from the police. They said that he needed to come down into the city right away because Daren was rampaging the streets, attacking people and claiming he was the angel of death. He had killed an elderly woman, severely injured a young man, and had nearly captured a young child. The police had chased him up to the top of a building where he was holding hostage some bankers that he claimed needed to go and was threatening to push them off the building. The police needed Tanim to come and help them reason with Daren. Tanim was shocked: he never thought it would go this far. The angel of death? That sounded ridiculous. He raced down to where Daren was holding the bankers. When he got there Daren had already tried to push one guy off the building but had failed. Daren was dressed in an over sized black sheet that he had wrapped around himself in some bad attempt to make it look like a cloak and was holding the fake scythe they had bought one year for Halloween.

“Daren!” Tanim yelled, “Its me! What are you doing!? Come down here, please, let these people go! You are not the angle of death!”

“Yes I am! IAMTHEANGLEOFDEATHTHTHTHTHTHHH!” Daren said, clearly out of his mind. As he said this he shoved the closest guy to him off the roof to his impending death.

“NO! DAREN!” But it was to late. The police had already had enough and shot Daren with their taser guns. He bounced up and down to the shocks and then fell limp on the ground. Tanim raced to his side. “Oh Daren what has become of you!”

Daren was immediately taken to a hospital. Although he would have been tried, it was recognized that he was clinically insane and diagnosed with schizophrenia with illusions of grandeur. It was too bad, really, because it would have been pretty bad ass had he been the angel of death, but alas that is impossible and instead he was just insane and had to remain in a mental hospital for the rest of his life. Tanim went on to find a less fucked up partner, and he came to realize that he was tired of having to take care of Daren anyway. Besides, Eduardo was so much better in bed and a good cook.

The end.

(A few months ago I was complaining that I wanted to write a fight scene but had no idea how, so my best-friend/soul-mate-in-all-things-geeky Stacy wrote one really quickly for me. This is that story, and it makes me laugh my ass off. Posting for shits and giggles. XD Enjoy.)

“An Afternoon In”

They stare at each other in stunned silence, neither quite believing Tanim’s thoughtless words. The clock ticks like a bomb above the sink, sounding a cheery tune as the hour-hand reaches 3:00, only to be drowned out with Daren’s angry cry. Blindly grabbing his glass of Crown from the counter, he throws it at a startled Tanim, who quickly dodges to the left. The glass smashes against the wall, whiskey and ices cubes flying in every direction, staining the pristine white of the wall and raining down on Tanim’s arms held above his head. Slowly standing from his crouch, Tanim turns dark gray eyes on Daren.

With a growl, he rushes around the island and fists Daren by the collar, slamming him up against the navy blue accent wall. A silver frame holding a picture of the two of them at the beach last summer falls to the ground, glass shattering with a loud crash. Tanim shoves his forearm into Daren’s neck, furiously staring into his lover’s eyes as the other chokes and gasps. Suddenly, Daren gives a little smirk, the side of his mouth lifting slightly as his knee comes up and collides solidly with Tanim’s groin. With a yelp, Tanim releases Daren and falls to the ground.

Daren gasps for breath and rubs his throat, then reaches down and grabs Tanim by his black hair, turning his face up and staring into his pain filled eyes. With another smirk, Daren leans down and kisses Tanim roughly, then violently smashes his fist into Tanim’s left cheek, dropping him to the ground. As Daren moves to punch him again, Tanim kicks out wildly and knocks Daren to the ground. Grabbing the cast-iron frying pan off the stove above his head, Tanim backhands Daren across the side of his face just as he starts to rise. Daren’s head smashes into refrigerator, blood streaming from his mouth and from a gash above his eyebrow. With a roar Tanim lunges on top of the stunned Daren, straddling his stomach and hitting whatever surface he can reach. Daren throws a hand out and catches Tanim’s fist clutching the frying pan, slamming it repeatedly against the refrigerator until his fingers release the heavy pan. Rearing back, Daren throws all of his weight into a fierce head-butt, then flattens his palm and cuts it up under Tanim’s chin. Rolling out from under his stunned lover, Daren leaps to his feet and moves back a few paces to the opposite side of the island. Tanim struggles to his feet, blood now streaming from his mouth and nose.

Their eyes meet across the island, Tanim’s lips curled into a growl and Daren’s into an amused smile. The only sound is the slow ticking of the clock, and the chirping of oblivious birds outside the sunny kitchen window. Leisurely lifting a hand, Daren makes a fist, then coils his forefinger into a beckoning gesture. With a rage-filled cry, Tanim grabs a dripping plate from the sink and throws it at Daren, who dodges. The sound of shattering porcelain and broken gasps fills the dusty air, until Daren flings a hand out and catches a flying blue and white plate. As if throwing a Frisbee, Daren tosses the plate back, hitting Tanim squarely in the neck. Clutching his windpipe, Tanim can’t move fast enough to avoid Daren as he leaps onto the island, then down on him, knocking him to the ground again. Daren grabs the hair at the back of his head and starts to drag him to the living room.

Unwilling to admit defeat, Tanim grabs a piece of glass from the broken picture frame and blindly slashes at the arm fisting his hair. With a cry Daren releases him, and Tanim throws the glass piece at him, slicing him across the right cheek as Daren turns his head to avoid it. There is stunned silence for a moment, Daren staring at the floor, blood dripping from his face to the linoleum below. Turning his head back to Tanim, he stares at him, eyes no longer amused. He reaches out and grabs Tanim’s hair again, ignoring his pain filled cries and continuing into the living room. Kicking the coffee table out of the way, Daren releases Tanim, shoving him to the floor and falling on top of him. They stare at each other for a moment, then Tanim lunges up, covering Daren’s bloody mouth with his own. Daren savagely rips his white t-shirt off as Tanim’s hands reach for his zipper.

* * * * *

Smoke twists and coils into the hazy air of the darkened living room, drifting up from the cigarette in Daren’s red-stained left hand. His other arm is curled around the naked shoulders of a content Tanim, whose bloody head lays peacefully on Daren’s bruised chest. Daren shifts a bit as a piece of the busted coffee table digs painfully into his back, and Tanim flicks a piece of wood off of Daren’s chest, adding to the mass of broken furniture, china, glass and stuffing from the ripped couch littering the floor.

“Well,” says Daren, “that was a productive afternoon, no?”