[ Although Tanim and Daren exist in hundreds, if not thousands, of different storylines spanning who knows how many genres, settings, and time periods, there’s one I consider the “main” or dominant storyline. This one has been around the longest, is the most established, and is the one which I write about most often. I decided since I refer to different parts of this storyline so much I ought to give my readers a basic outline of the whole story. ]
First, a brief sketch of Tanim and Daren’s lives before they meet. Tanim is born the eldest son of an affluent family steeped in the rules and trappings of high society. He is raised with the understanding that he will follow in his father’s footsteps and eventually take over as president of the company which his father himself built. Tanim begins his training from a young age and is in every way the obedient, proper son – that is, until in his late teens he begins to develop alarming, inappropriate desires. He feels a near constant longing to surrender himself that is at once sexual and yet transcends physical need and becomes something almost spiritual, an all-encompassing impulse to give every part of himself to another. Living with such a shameful secret becomes unbearable, and when Tanim’s father dies while his son is in his early twenties, Tanim chooses to flee the city and cut off all contact with his family instead of entering into the business. Ostensibly this is to protect his loved ones from any public humiliation should his proclivities ever become known, but it’s really to free him from his own responsibilities.
Daren, only a few years Tanim’s junior, leads a far different life from his high society counterpart. However, as Tanim (and therefore the reader) never learns the whole story, I’m not going to give it away here. Suffice it to say, experiences and circumstances in Daren’s childhood leave him emotionally scarred and physically damaged, so withdrawn from the world he barely bothers to function beyond immediate necessity. He is a cold, uncaring man who wants nothing and gives even less, who long lost the ability to fend off the nightmares of his past and now lives with their constant torment.
Tanim’s self-imposed exile to a city far from his own will eventually bring their worlds together. When they meet in that same city some years later, Tanim in his mid-thirties and Daren his early thirties, both are miserable yet unable, or unwilling, to change their situations on their own. For all that Tanim lives in a lavish penthouse apartment he has become a wreck and a recluse, spending half his time drowning his guilt in alcohol and sleeping pills, the other half in the arms of anonymous lovers. Daren, meanwhile, calls a dismal basement apartment home, or at least residence, and is too physically and mentally unstable to hold a job. They cross paths at a local coffee shop, though it’s Tanim who notices Daren, not the other way around. He keeps his distance for a while, yet finally manages to earn Daren’s trust enough to strike up a strange sort of friendship.
Over the next several months their relationship develops, both unwilling to admit to the other that they may want more than mere friendship. However, eventually Daren’s physical condition begins to deteriorate, as it does periodically. Not wanting Tanim to realize how precarious his situation is, Daren decides to end their acquaintanceship by abruptly cutting off contact with him. Predictably, this doesn’t go well. While Daren, unable to care for himself alone, slowly worsens, Tanim tries to numb his concern, confusion, and hurt with his usual mixture of alcohol and soporifics.
Things take a turn for the much worse when a week or two later Daren returns home to find he has been evicted from his apartment. With nowhere else to go, and still refusing to face Tanim in such a condition, he ends up on the street. When Tanim finds him a few nights later in an alley near his own apartment building, Daren is so feverish he’s senseless and nearly unconscious. Tanim manages to get Daren up to his apartment and nurses him back to health as best he can over the course of the next weeks. Eventually all of the unspoken, messy feelings between them come out and they decide to start an actual romantic relationship.
Barring the bumps expected from two damaged men trying to sustain a functioning relationship, their bond continues to strengthen and for the next year or so they’re relatively happy – or at least much less miserable than if they were alone. That is, of course, until Daren’s health begins once more to deteriorate, and with it his emotional stability. This time there is no nursing him back to health, though; he is on the downward slide now and all Tanim can do is care for Daren as his body slowly fails. After Daren’s death Tanim is left utterly bereft and lacks the will to fight such heartache. Succumbing to grief and loneliness, he follows his lover soon after.
[ If you actually read all of that, holy shit. Thank you, and I’m sorry. That really is the super super short version. ]