#1369

Tanim stands, gaze lowered, frowning at something. Daren stands at his side, eyes averted but attention clearly focused on Tanim anyway.

Tanim: You make the worst parts of my personality come out.

Daren (chuckles dryly): It’s the only way to know who you really are.

Tanim: I was honest from the start.  You know what I am.  What I’m capable of.

Daren: You’re not the villain here.

Tanim: I’m not?

Daren: That badge belongs to me.  (gestures to the crumpled woman on the concrete)  To her.

(Tanim swallows, silent. Daren reaches into the pocket of his coat and hands Tanim a silken handkerchief. Tanim accepts the proffered object and wipes carelessly at the blood on his lips and chin.)

Tanim: What makes you the villain, then?

Daren (folding the bloodied handkerchief and placing it back in his pocket): I already knew who you really are. I needed to know if you knew. If you recognized the truth amid the blood lust.

Tanim (nods to the unmoving body): And her?

(Daren looks down at her with obvious disdain.)

Daren: She deserved worse.

Tanim (defiantly): Who are you to say what one deserves and doesn’t deserve.

(The two men stare at each other.  Tanim’s chin trembles slightly, but he’s standing erect, just barely taller than Daren.  Daren’s eyes smolder blackly.)

Daren: I am your god.

(Tanim struggles to maintain the stare, to stand strong before the other, but with a visible shudder he lowers his eyes and tilts his head to the side, a wolf yielding to its alpha. Daren reaches out to take Tanim’s chin, not entirely unkindly.)

Daren (murmuring): Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, love. Would you rather be alone once more? A mad beast wandering the streets, waiting to be put out of its misery?

Tanim (weakly): You said you would help me…

Daren: And I have, haven’t I?

(Tanim looks up, a ghost of tears in each eye.)

Tanim: Yes.

Daren: And you repay me in such a manner?

Tanim: I… forgive me, Sire.  I… (he licks his lips)  Why the girl?

Daren (snorts with amusement and impatience): You know why.

(Tanim winces and seems as if about to speak, then think better of it. He nods instead and gestures halfheartedly at the cooling corpse.)

Tanim: Shall I throw her in the river like the others?

Daren: No. This one stays. (He smiles when Tanim casts him a questioning look) She’ll serve as a warning.

(Tanim bends down to close the girl’s eyes.  Daren smiles almost lovingly at the gesture.)

Daren: You still care too much.

Tanim (standing up and dabbing at his mouth with the kerchief again): Of course I care.  That’s why you chose me.

Daren takes the handkerchief from Tanim and refolds it, placing it in his back pocket.

Daren: I’ll not see regret in your eyes again.  Do you understand?

Tanim (bows his head): Yes, Sire.

(Smirking, Daren turns and starts back down the alley, not bothering to check if Tanim follows. He does, after a slight hesitation, careful not to glance again at the girl’s body as he catches up to his master.)

Daren: You know why I test you so, don’t you, Tanim?

Tanim (speaking as if by rote): So that you may know if I am worthy.

Daren (a sigh like a patient tutor): No, love. Not that.

(Tanim pauses briefly, struck with surprise, then hurries to keep up with Daren.)

Tanim: If not that, then… why?

Daren: Because your heart still beats.  (Tanim stops and raises a confused brow.  He places his hand over his chest as though to point out the lack of his heartbeat.  Daren caresses his cheek and then places his hand over Tanim’s.)  You feel as they do, Brother.  When you tear their flesh, so is yours torn.  That intimacy is vital.

Tanim: Then why kill them at all?  (Daren’s jaw clenches angrily.  Tanim immediately lowers his head.)  Sire, I-I simply ask be-because…. Because if it is intimacy that we seek, why take the life?  Why not share that moment together?

(A faint smile manages to pull at Daren’s mouth, though his expression remains impatient, on edge.)

Daren: There are many kinds of intimacy. Would you truly wish to share with them (the word spoken with unfeigned disgust) that which you share with myself? Or vice versa? (Moves in to stand face to face with Tanim, chin lifted to bare his pale neck.) Do you think you could do to me what you do to them, my beautiful beast? Would that bring you satisfaction? Fulfillment?

(Tanim offers a weak smile, more to veer from the threat and temptation of the dare than from amusement.)

Tanim: I doubt you would even let my teeth touch your skin, should I be foolish enough to attempt such a thing.

Daren: But it isn’t fear or logic which keep you from the act.

Tanim (ruefully, yet with a note of affection): No.

(A rustling, groaning noise can be heard behind them.  Tanim turns.)

Tanim: She’s…

Daren: Yes.

Tanim: Sire, she’s not completely—

Daren: —Take care of it.  (gently kisses Tanim’s forehead) And then come to me.

(Tanim swallows, nods, and turns away as Daren continues down the alley. Above the sound of Daren’s footsteps can be heard a high, trembling whimper and then the tear of cloth and flesh.)

[ Collab between myself and the girlfriend. ]

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