For a moment Daren stared at the pink paper taped to his door without quite registering its meaning. Fever fogged his mind, made his thoughts as sluggish and heavy as his limbs. It wasn’t until the doorknob in his hand refused to turn that the severity of his situation jarred him back to reality. Evicted. He had finally been evicted. Still eying the notice, he cursed himself for assuming this time would be like all the others, a bluff from a landlord kind enough to wait a few weeks while he scrambled for rent money. Apparently he’d scrambled one too many times, though, and now he’d lost his only shred of luck to date.

The dingy hallway started to spin and Daren leaned back against the wall, head bowed, eyes shut tight, waiting out the wash of nausea. He almost longed for the blanket of fever induced senselessness again, anything to ease the panic and dread which bombarded him now. Where would he go? He had no money, nowhere to stay, no friends to call upon in this hour of desperate need. Then, unbidden, Tanim’s sweet, patient face came to mind. Daren knew he need only reach out to the man and none of this would matter; Tanim would swoop in like a knight in shining armor if given the opportunity. But he wouldn’t tell Tanim, of course. Couldn’t. Daren had devoted too much effort to convincing Tanim he wasn’t a damaged, unstable shell of a human, and he would rather be out on the street than shatter that illusion. A foolish concern, he knew, when the alternative meant risking his already declining health, but he simply couldn’t bear revealing such weakness. He was damned either way, so there was no point in dragging Tanim into this as well.

Footsteps on the stairwell shook Daren from his morose thoughts and reminded him he couldn’t linger here. Swallowing, he turned away from the mocking eviction notice and retreated back into the dreary night. He comforted himself with the knowledge that this wouldn’t be the first time he spent the night on the street, even this sick. He just had to keep moving to stay ahead of the cold and the weariness and the aching. Simple, right?


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