Daren hurts. Every part of him hurts. He knows he should get up but he can’t bear to move a single muscle and so he remains crumpled on the floor, head cradled in Tanim’s lap like a sick child. He knows, too, that he shouldn’t speak, yet he finds his cracked lips parting and the unexpected, unwanted question rasping softly, “Why me, Tanim? I’m not worth it.” A tremor shudders up his body and he breaks off for a moment as his muscles spasm. After, sucking in a pained breath, he forces himself to continue, though now the words barely escape his lips. “I’ll hurt you. You’ll be the one left behind. Right now you’re lonely, but at least you’re not grieving.”
Tanim sighs over him in the darkness. He arrived too late during this latest attack, nightmare or seizure or whatever strikes Daren so violently, to keep the man from tumbling out of bed and earning yet another set of bruises. Daren knows Tanim blames himself for that – for a lot of things. Tanim’s fingers glide absently over Daren’s sweat damp hair as he replies with painful honesty, “Of course I’m grieving. I’m grieving for you; for what I don’t have but can’t let go of. I’d rather grieve for what I’ve lost than what I’ve never known.” He swallows to steady his voice before adding, “Have faith in me, Daren. Please.”
Daren means to laugh at such naïveté yet the sound that emerges from his aching throat is closer to a whimper than a mocking snort. “You’re a fool, Tanim,” he chastises, but instead of pulling away he turns his face into the solid warmth of Tanim’s thigh. He hurts so deeply that when Tanim replies gently, “You’re no less of one,” Daren doesn’t even bother arguing. Instead he allows the soothing caress of Tanim’s fingers through his hair to lull him into an exhausted and mercifully dream-free sleep.
[ This piece gave me soooo much trouble. Jeeze. ]