Tanim’s hands shake as he wedges the knife blade beneath the edge of the capsule’s seal. He draws in a slow, steadying breath before working the blade back and forth enough to slide one half of the capsule free, and a teaspoon of white powder rains down to join the contents of the other pills already emptied into the steaming cup of tea. A swirl of the spoon dissolves the powder, leaving nothing behind to betray any hint of the drink’s addition. Cup in hand, he pushes open the bedroom door and moves through the warm gloom to sit at the edge of the bed. Its occupant doesn’t stir at the motion, nor the light streaming in from the hallway. Only Tanim’s hand shaking his shoulder with a murmured, “Daren, darling, wake up,” draws him from an exhausted sleep. Glassy eyes deep within sunken sockets roll up to meet Tanim’s and Daren wets dry, cracked lips before rasping, “Morning. I think.”
Daren’s frown deepens and his eyes narrow, bright and focused now, searching Tanim’s gaze for a silent moment. Whatever he reads there must decide him; he levers himself up to a sitting position, a soft hiss his only acknowledgment of the pain even simple movement causes, and reaches out one skeletal hand. “For you.” He brings the cup to his lips, meeting Tanim’s eyes once more over its trembling rim as if in challenge – or submission – then downs the contents in one swallow.
Tanim catches his companion as Daren slumps forward, the cup clattering from limp fingers.