For a few moments Daren stood unmoving at the gate to the house, staring up into the old Victorian’s rippled windows. The rooms beyond were too dark to see if anyone stood at the glass and yet he imagined eyes watching his approach, waiting for him to step over the threshold. Well, he had come this far, hadn’t he? Finally decided once and for all? There was no sense hesitating now. Still, his feet seemed unnaturally heavy as he followed the flagstone walkway.
The front door swung open at his touch. The violation should have bothered him since he locked the door when he left days ago, but Daren knew no one had wanted in; just out. Glass crunched beneath his feet as he stepped inside. Flipping on the entryway light revealed the shattered mirror which had hung over the side table and now left a trail of glittering shards on the hardwood floor. Beyond the glass lay the remains of his grandmother’s vase, silverware from the kitchen scattered among the wreckage. Daren followed the path of destruction into the living room where furniture lay overturned, picture frames smashed, odds and ends hurled against the walls hard enough to leave scars in the wallpaper.
“Where were you?”
Daren expected the question yet twitched anyway, turning toward the voice despite the conflicting desire to never look upon its owner again. Tanim didn’t seem to notice the shards of glass and porcelain though he stood barefoot on the polished floor. When Daren remained silent he tilted his head and asked once more in the same persistent tone, “Where were you?”
“Out,” Daren swallowed down a full explanation as he dropped his eyes away. He couldn’t tell Tanim he had spent the last three nights in a hotel because he would never have been able to think clearly enough to make a decision while under Tanim’s constant watch. Nor could he tell Tanim how each night he’d woken in the dark and reached out to the empty air before remembering where he was, and why. There was no point in explaining when Tanim would never understand why this decision had been so heart-wrenching. Tanim loved him with the single-minded obsession of someone who lived only in the present; someone whose only connections to the past were disconnected memories and whose only concern for the future was not to have to face the long years alone anymore. He had nothing left to sacrifice, after all. To him the choice was obvious.
“You left,” It was almost an accusation, nearly a plea, but as usual the words fell dull from Tanim’s lips. Daren lifted his shoulders in a worn shrug, staring down at the broken glass. “I came back, didn’t I? You didn’t have to tear the place apart–”
“You left me,”
“Tanim, please,” Daren resorted to begging himself as he finally met the other man’s intense gaze. “I don’t want to do this right now. Let’s just go to bed. I’m so tired.”
“Why did you leave me?”
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” He tried to ignore the chill shiver that shot down his spine at the unusual desperation and possessiveness in Tanim’s voice. Instead he extended one hand in silent plea, unwilling to continue a pointless conversation when all he wanted to do was curl up in bed and weep. Tanim closed the distance between them without question or argument, arms folding around his companion’s thin frame. Daren buried his face against Tanim’s neck and relaxed into the embrace he loathed himself for craving. “I’ve decided,” he muttered. “I’ll do it.”
Tanim tensed. “When?”
“Soon,” Daren held back a weary sigh as he brushed his lips to the bruise hugging Tanim’s jawline. “Soon, lovely.”
[ This story is a continuation/fragment of a story originally written by my friend Stacy. You don’t necessarily need to read the other parts, but the original one-shot is sooo good and you should check it out – at least, if you want to see how this turns out. I included links to the companion pieces as well.
If Daren concentrated, he could just make out a faint smudge under Tanim’s chin, a line that disappeared into his hair… (The original one-shot by Stacy)
Tanim waited. He was good at waiting. He’d been waiting a long time, after all… (An added “ending”, also written by Stacy)
Daren’s heart lurched in a thud eerily reminiscent of the mysterious thunk from the attic – or, he realized with a sudden sick understanding, like the sound of a chair being kicked over… (A piece written by me that takes place earlier than any of the other stories) ]