His voice somewhere, close. Can’t quite cut through the fever haze. Touch? A hand on my cheek but it’s hard to register, distant like everything else. Or is it me who’s distant? Too numb. Too worn. At least the cold’s gone, just the exhaustion left behind. I can deal with that. Can’t remember a time when I wasn’t tired.
“Come on, Daren. Come back to me.”
To you? Fear in his voice. Eyes are heavy but they open, at least a bit. Don’t focus well, though, and he’s blurred at the edges. Another dream, maybe. Wouldn’t be the first time.
“Yes. Yes, I’m here. Do you think you can stand?”
Can’t even move. Eyes are too heavy. Everything’s too heavy. It’d be so much easier to give in to the dizziness pulling me down, back into unawareness–
“No, don’t go to sleep. Stay with me, Daren. We have to get you inside. You’ll catch your death out here.”
Aren’t I dead already? I could have sworn. But no, because I can feel his fingers digging into my arms, no clue how hard he grips, too afraid to let go as if his touch alone might be enough to keep me here. Fool. I must say something, tell him I don’t want to go, or I can’t, or to leave me alone, because he makes a strained noise I’ve never heard him utter. A whimper, almost, or a choked back sob. Familiar sound from unfamiliar lips.
“Don’t make me say it, Daren. Please, just do this one thing for me and come inside. It’s all I ask. Please.”
Doesn’t need to say it anyway. Never has. He’s so obvious. Doesn’t he see how doomed this all is? How pointless? Does misery really crave company so badly? It would be kinder to us both to let me go.
My name once more, softly. Pleading. That voice could break my heart. I manage a nod just to make him happy and try, really I do, to stand. The world spins. This time it isn’t back into darkness, though. His arms catch me, slip beneath mine, and he’s a sudden anchor in what’s become an endless storm.
“It’s okay. Everything will be okay, I promise.”
I doubt that. Don’t have the heart to tell him, though; he of all people deserves the comfort of blind faith. Anyway, this is the lesser of two dooms. If I must choose, I choose him. My foolish, faithful Tanim.
[ I dunno, man. I dunnooooo. ]