Two AM; right on time. Lovely.

Once Daren could suck in enough air to draw a full breath, he muttered a meager curse for the coughing fit which timed itself so accurately each night. Not that he often enjoyed the simple pleasure of sleeping through the night but at least night terrors didn’t leave him so dizzy, throat and chest on fire. He found it much easier to ignore emotional pain than physical.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine,” He let out a ragged sigh, having hoped Tanim might somehow sleep through the sound of a man hacking up a lung in his bed. “Feel fucking wonderful. Go back to sleep.”

“You don’t sound fucking wonderful,” came the reply at his side, sleepy voice concerned yet clearly unwilling to press the point too far if the other didn’t wish him to pry. Daren realized he did wish Tanim would pry, though; there was little chance he’d fall asleep again anytime soon so why not have a little company in insomnia? “I’m not, I suppose,” he conceded with a softer sigh. “I’m just tired of this, of being so… weak. It’s pathetic, not to mention inconvenient.” The mattress shifted as Tanim rolled over and Daren felt the weight of the man’s gaze settle over him. “You’re far from weak,” he chastised, one hand drifting over the sheets to close the distance between them. Daren barked a scornful laugh. “No? What am I then, a picture of perfect mental and physical health?”

“You’re strong in other ways,” Tanim’s fingers grazed over the fine bones of Daren’s hand, caressing the pulse which still raced beneath. The touch sent a thrill along his arm but Daren rebuffed the attempt at comfort with a disbelieving snort. “Right. Sure.”

“Well, you are,” When Daren didn’t respond Tanim let out a wistful sigh of his own and shifted nearer, hand sliding over cool skin to trace the line of his lover’s collarbone. “I wish you could see yourself through my eyes,” he mused. “You think you’re weak but there are times when you forget yourself and let go of all that loathing, when you’re too distracted by what you want to remember you want to want nothing.” Tanim paused thoughtfully, licked his lips as if crafting his next words with care, and though Daren could have taken the opportunity to interrupt, pull away, he remained silent and still. He told himself it was out of curiosity, or maybe just the desire to continue listening to Tanim’s rich voice, but knew that wasn’t quite true.

“You’re so much stronger than you think,” Tanim continued, his words a murmur as if he spoke more to himself than his lover. “When your hands are on me they’re like iron; unyielding, possessive… commanding. You take complete control. You could suck the air from my lungs with those lips, melt and mold me with that body…” He exhaled dreamily, warm breath ghosting over Daren’s skin. “And those fingers of yours; they can make me say anything you want, do anything you want, with just the right touch in the right place. God, you can do that with just one word. One look. How is that not strength?”

“Tanim…” Daren’s protest was a half-hearted thing, his body responding to both word and touch despite his natural desire to argue further. Stubborn thing, but perhaps it knew better than he did. And besides, it wasn’t as though he would be able to fall asleep soon anyway. He baited, “You’re hardly an unbiased opinion, you know.”

“True, true,” Tanim’s hand wandered down as he pondered aloud, “I wonder how I could prove it, hmm?” but before he could cause any more mischief Daren captured the questing fingers and raised them to his mouth. “You’re terrible,” he chastised, biting gently on their tips, “such a wicked tongue.”

“Worse than yours?” Tanim leaned in to distract Daren’s mouth but before he could rescue his fingers Daren took hold of his other wrist as well and rolled over, using the weight of his body to pin Tanim beneath himself. “We’ll see,” he purred, grip tightening as he leaned in and covered Tanim’s smirk with his own.


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