[ 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.