The shadows hid him well, and from Tanim’s vantage point in the alley mouth he could watch passersby without being seen himself. He had waited hours in this same spot and would wait hours more if necessary. Eventually his quarry would cross into the light of the streetlamp and they would be reunited, albeit briefly.
It was Daren. Tanim felt the surety of this in his blood, in his bones. Twenty years may have passed; he may have known his companion at thirty, while this young man could be no more than nineteen; still, he knew they were one and the same. Something subtle first tipped him off, a familiar coolness in the eyes or a certain grace in the movements, and so he waited and watched and yes, he recognized the old spirit in this new body. Tanim had found his lover again.
But things would work out no better this time than last. At least then they had been closer in age and in similar situations. What would this young boy want with an aging alcoholic who silenced his nightmares with sleeping pills? Tanim had struggled to win Daren over once yet he had no misguided belief he could do it again. Not now. If the system wanted to play them, though, then Tanim would play the system right back. He understood the rules of the game now. Life for death; death for life. He could laugh, it was so simple. Laugh or weep.
Footsteps. Tanim drew in a silent, steadying breath, fingers shifting around the grip of the gun. He knew Daren, or whatever this most recent incarnation’s name was, wouldn’t appreciate the poetic justice of using the same gun this time around that Daren used on himself so many years ago. Yet it seemed proper to come full circle and Tanim could think of no more fitting method for their demise and reunion.
The young man turned his head at the unfamiliar voice as he stepped beneath the streetlight. Tanim did not give him time to ask “who?” before he pulled him into the darkness.