I could not care less if my death should be ruled a murder or a suicide. It is merely a question of semantics; at the core they seem identical to me. After all, if I stay, if I let you wrap your lovely hands around my neck in the dark of some night, who is really to blame – you for your action or myself for my inaction? To whom should my death be attributed, and why should I care one way or another when I am gone? The beauty of that final moment is that we are together, conjoined in our shared sin and experiencing its climax as one. Your squeezing hands, my bruising skin, they are really not so different. Here, darling, take the last breath off my lips and keep it as your own. You may call it a trophy or a suicide note, I do not care.
roses are red
Daren’s disdain is black
perhaps we should go now
I don’t need a knife in my back
Body recalls the weight of silk, velvet, sculpted armor, fingers heavy with moonstones and amber, wrists dripping with gold and silver; the warmth of bodies embraced, murmured devotions, lips wet with salty tears. Heart remembers the agony of separation and the anticipation of each brief meeting, pulse beating against the vice grip of bitter, beautiful love; and the icy electric shock of confusion, dawning understanding, horror and sorrow and forgiveness. Soul cannot deny the phantom pressure of the blade slicing through velvet and flesh to pierce the life within, golden blood spattering pale hands; nor the bond, marrow deep and unbreakable, which drives every part of this unending cycle: passion, betrayal, acceptance, grief, sacrifice, reunion, again and again and again. Though the mind may succeed in repression, the body and heart and soul still retain memory of the dawn and dusk, summer and winter, life and death. Radiance. Darkness. Love.
[ My long-time friend and nemesis Inno Tenshi drew these gorgeous pictures of Tanim and Daren in their Sun and Moon forms (including designing the outfits herself), so I of course had to write something to go with them. Check out her Tumblr for more amazing, bad ass art. I am crazy jealous of her skillz. ]
Who were you before?
I long to know that man, too
I will love his ghost
[ The newest picture I commissioned from the amazingly talented E. M. Engel. I can’t get over her gorgeous artwork! Also, check out my banner; it rotates between pictures of my lovely boys each time you refresh. …and yes, I’ve been clicking obsessively just to look at Tanim and Daren. I’m not obsessed, I swear. ]
“What did you call me?”
“What?” Tanim cast a bemused glance over his shoulder as he poured two bourbons from the bar. “When?”
“Before,” Daren waved vaguely and lounged back against the couch. “Back when you were doing the cute lonely-stalker thing. You didn’t know my name for months but you’ve said before you couldn’t stop thinking about me then, so you must have called me something in your head.” A sly smile crept over his lips as he added, “Or your dreams. So… what was it?”
“What makes you think I called you anything?” Tanim sank down beside him, holding out one tumbler while he sipped nonchalantly at the other in a poor effort to hide the blush burning his cheeks. “That’s rather arrogant of you.” Daren smirked over the rim of his own glass. “Never play poker, dear,” he replied with a pitying head shake. “You’re terrible at bluffing.” Setting down his drink untouched, he leaned in to toy with an errant lock of Tanim’s hair. “Come on, it can’t be that bad. Just tell me; I won’t drop it otherwise.”
“No, you won’t, will you,” Tanim managed a glare at the attempt to sway him but his heart wasn’t in it. He never could resist that mischievous smile, so rare and therefore too cherished to fault as it was. Sliding his gaze down to the glass clenched in his hand he gave in and muttered, “Angel. I called you Angel.”
“Angel?” Daren choked on a snort of skeptic surprise, one pale eyebrow jumping high. “Why? My sparkling personality?”
“I don’t know,” Tanim kept his eyes averted to hide his embarrassment, though Daren’s remark soothed the sting of it a bit. “It was just the first thing that came to mind when I saw you. And then I couldn’t shake it. It felt right. You were so distant, so cold, so…” he traced the rim of his glass as he searched for the right word, “perfect. Someone I desperately wanted but could never have.” A foolish, impulsive smile tugged his lips and with a shrug he downed the last of his drink before adding, “It’s stupid, I know.”
“It’s not stupid,” Daren’s laugh teased but his eyes were kind. “It’s… oddly sweet, really. Maybe a little cheesy, and just a bit desperate, but still sweet.” He shifted nearer as if preparing to divulge a great secret and murmured, “You were wrong, though.” The empty tumbler fell forgotten from Tanim’s hand as Daren took hold of his tie and drew him in for a kiss, a devious smirk spreading over his face as he corrected, “I’m no angel.”
[ The third of my planned commissions from the amazingly talented Megan Engel (not the last, of course, but the last while I have no spending money). I figured if I had a serious one and a sweet/sad one, I needed a sexy one as well. It’s not all doom and gloom with my boys, after all. …just most of the time. ]
I used to dream about burning the world down until only a wasteland remained, as silent and devoid without as I was within. Then one day I woke up and realized my dreams were pointless. I didn’t need to burn the world down; the world was already burning itself. I only had to wait.
[ I’ve wanted a picture of Daren with this make-up for years, so I finally splurged and commissioned the wonderful Megan Engel yet again. She’s certainly making bank off of my obsession but it’s totally worth it. Check out my “art of Tanim and Daren” category for more! ]
Tell me, love, what sin commits your thumb for the brushing of my wrist? What crime is there in desiring the touch of skin to skin, the comfort of another’s heartbeat beneath your palm? Surely none could grudge us this brief connection; we are but human, after all, and there are some things which cannot be expressed in words alone. Darling, let go of this guilt which so cripples and tortures you. Set free the man you have numbed with alcohol and loathing all these years. You deserve better. You deserve more. There is no perversion in love, no deviance, no sickness. This touch does not taint us. If you would but embrace the longing and seek its fulfillment through our union, our devotion, you could understand how by love we are transformed into something greater than our separate selves. This misery will pass one day, I promise. You have me now, and in my arms you will find only safety and acceptance.
[ Above is the second of the pictures I commissioned from Megan Engel. It makes me want to give both of my boys a big hug (ah, the look on Tanim’s face!) – or maybe a smack on the head to stop being so angsty. Don’t worry, the third picture will be a tad more upbeat. And by upbeat I of course mean sexy. ]
So today is my birthday, and as a gift my best friend Micah drew a picture of Daren that I’ve wanted for a really long time (mostly because his shirt makes me giggle – cocksucker is such a fun word to say!). Her happy birthday email also made me giggle, so I included it below.
“Yesterday I made you a drawing in MSPaint. It wasn’t a t-rex though >: Still have to do that. I liked the way your lady had smudgy lines and whatnot, and I was like “I want to try that shit” — but did so in MSPaint because it’s currently the only drawing program I have, and the reaction is: Holy god damn, this is MSPaint and this is a terrible experience.
So I tried my best to make you a pretty drawing for your birthday. I ended up just stopping when I was too fed up with the program. XD
BUT I LOVE YOU and I hope your birthday is FABULOUS.”
Pencil and paper in hand, a much younger and geekier Elyssa sprawls in a maple tree’s cool shade while her fellow summer campers splash in the waves farther down shore. She isn’t much of an artist but is determined to master this “chibi” style popular among her equally geeky friends and so beneath the graphite a stranger is coming to life in hesitant strokes. She draws a line; erases; tries again; satisfied, moves on to the next. Over and over, perfecting, at least to her mediocre talents, her finest portrait yet. Once she deems it complete she holds the picture out to take in her new creation. As she stares at the boy smiling back from the page, a name comes to mind: Tanim.
She flips the paper over and takes pencil in hand again. He needs a friend.
Lounging in the shade that warm summer afternoon, my fourteen year old self could never have imagined that the characters she doodled to pass the time would eventually transform every aspect of her life and become an all-consuming passion. Today I’m proud to say that as of this August I have been writing about my ill-fated lovers, Tanim and Daren, for ten years. Where other creations have come and gone, brief players in momentarily amusing tales, these two have remained steadfast in my life, their vivid voices impossible to ignore. They bullied their way to the forefront of my mind and refuse to yield ground to anyone else now. I can’t say it bothers me, though. I feel honored to work with such complex, challenging characters and to bring their thoughts and experiences to life through my writing.
The most rewarding part of the last ten years has been watching Tanim and Daren change and grow as characters. Looking back, you’d be hard pressed to correlate those original characters with their current versions – and that’s a very good thing. I’ll admit Tanim and Daren’s earliest incarnations were heavily influenced by my love of terrible anime and cheesy fantasy novels. First, they were young; late teens instead of early to mid thirties. Second, their personalities were fairly two dimensional, a flaw I attribute primarily to my inexperience as a writer. Tanim was the happy, outgoing, popular one of the Best-Friends-Forever duo; Daren was quiet, introverted, and tragically unlucky. Third, and most embarrassing to my older self, their story was riddled with every anime cliché possible. I won’t go into details but suffice it to say they would have been right at home in any poorly dubbed Saturday morning anime like Card Captors and Yu-gi-oh. Also, Daren may have had magic powers. (Don’t worry, I cringe looking back on that too. Every writer has to start somewhere, though, right?)
Of course, Tanim and Daren are nothing like those original characters now. They’re older, more realistic and relatable, and blessedly magic free (most of the time). The basics of their personalities remain – Tanim’s kindness and humor, Daren’s cold exterior and troubled past – but they are far more nuanced. Both are burdened by different yet equally complicated issues that have slowly shaped them into the flawed, struggling men they are now. All of these changes have occurred organically over the years, most of them unexpected though always intriguing. I don’t control the story; the characters do. I only sit back and let the narrative unfold and try to keep up with my pen. It was Tanim and Daren, not myself, who chose to take the leap from friends to lovers, a decision which forever altered the very nature of their shared existence. As silly as it might sound, I’m so proud of the men Tanim and Daren have become. They are entirely their own creatures, as imperfect and unique as any of us.
To commemorate this anniversary I commissioned three portraits of Tanim and Daren from Megan Engel, an incredibly talented artist who captured their likenesses and personalities perfectly. The first of the three portraits is below (click for a higher resolution), the others forthcoming because I want to space them out. I’m so delighted with these pictures; no matter how much I write, it’s still nice to have something visual as accompaniment. A picture is, after all, worth a thousand words. Plus, doesn’t Daren look like he could totally fuck you up?
Lastly, I’d just like to thank everyone who has supported my writing over the years. It’s been a rough road and I wouldn’t be at the level I am now without the friends, both in real life and online, who encouraged my passion through a genuine interest in my characters. And by “encouraged” I of course mean allowing me to babble for hours like a proud mother… or perhaps an especially enthusiastic stalker. Writers can’t afford to live in a bubble; we need others to rant at, to commiserate with us, and off whom to bounce ideas both terrible and brilliant. I’m blessed to have friends willing to put up with all three, and everything else Tanim and Daren throw my way.
The past ten years have been one hell of a ride. Today I’m lifting my glass in toast to the next ten. May they bring me as many surprises, joys, sorrows, frustrations, and laughter as their predecessors.
As Aiden dodged another sideswipe of the polished blade, he once again savagely cursed himself. This simply wasn’t possible. He never made mistakes. Never. Where had he gone wrong? He had shadowed Tanim for months, painstakingly mapping every aspect of the man’s life until he knew his every habit, every pattern, every minute quirk and detail. As far as Aiden could tell, Tanim was a rich recluse with a penthouse suite and too much time on his hands. In fact, he had been particularly difficult to track down in the first place; he had no contact with family or friends and no one in the city seemed to even be aware of his existence. He worked alone, dined alone, lived alone. And if all had gone according to plan, he would die alone as well.
So then who the fuck was the psycho with the katana?
“Tell me who sent you and I might feel generous enough to let you leave with your limbs intact,” his adversary offered as he drew back, lowering the weapon to his side. Aiden settled onto the balls of his feet, prepared to dance away again if necessary but glad for the brief respite in which to analyze the stranger. Thin as the blade in his hand, pale and gaunt in a way that suggested prolonged illness, with flat black eyes which betrayed nothing of his thoughts or next attack. Aiden knew without a doubt he could snap those fragile bones in physical combat, but the man wielded his katana with surprising speed and he couldn’t yet get close enough.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” Aiden replied with a half scowl, half smirk. “You a ghost?”
The stranger returned his smirk with a brief twitch of his own pale lips, an expression which did nothing to stir the detachment in his face. “Something like that.” He shot forward without warning, the katana whipping through the air like a bright crescent moon. Aiden managed to twist away just in time, bringing his right fist up with an aim for the man’s kidneys. The lithe body shifted enough to avoid the crippling blow but it still struck him in the side with enough force to drive the air from his lungs. Sucking in a gasping breath, he slid back before Aiden could land a second hit.
“You won’t take him,” the man swore as he searched for another opening in Aiden’s defenses, his voice still cool and empty of emotion despite the pain he must be experiencing. Coming from someone who looked like he was already on Death’s door, the threat only amused his assailant. “I’ve never failed,” Aiden quipped back with an arrogant sneer. “I certainly don’t plan to now. It’s nothing personal, really. Just business. If you’d like to throw your life away for him anyway, though, that’s fine. I’m in no hurry.”
“You aren’t the first to say that, nor will you be the last,” The katana glinted as elegant fingers adjusted their grip. “And you’ll bleed just like all the others.”
“So will you.”
Aiden leaped forward just as the stranger went for the kill. He had expected the attack this time but his speed still could not match the blade’s long reach. Even as his hand closed around the other’s thin neck in a vice-like grip, the sleek katana plunged into his stomach…
– – –
[ This totally bad ass picture came about after an amusing discussion with my friend Hail about how epic a fight between Daren and his character Aiden would be. When he drew the picture, I just HAD to write up a little something to go with it! Daren should definitely carry a katana more often. And also go shirtless?
P.S My new journal layout messes with pictures a bit, so click on the picture itself to see the whole thing in the right size. ]
The very first picture of Tanim and Daren Inno Tenshi ever drew (2006 seems like so long ago!), and quite possibly still my favorite. I just adore the softness in Tanim’s face and how remote Daren remains despite their close proximity.
Two more fairly old pictures from Inno Tenshi. Have I mentioned that she has the most amazing penmanship? I gush constantly over her artistic talents as well, but I feel I should mention that her handwriting is just as gorgeous. She writes like that all the time.
I requested a picture of Tanim and Daren through a free sketch club on DeviantArt and Mega-Chan11 took on the challenge. The finished result is simple but elegant and no, I can’t stop gushing over Daren’s cool stare or Tanim’s cheeky smile.
When a LJ friend offered to draw a picture of Tanim and Daren for me, she said the following:
“As for the pose, I am open to anything. My hands and feet are hit and miss (I was originally trying to think of a pose that wouldn’t require either XD). But I’ve done hours of life drawing- so nude is no problem to me (they always seem a bit.. half naked in my mind XD). And I’m good with dark stuff.”
This is the result, and damn does it blow me away! Love the pose. Love the simplicity and the fact that you can’t quite see their faces. LOVE the blood. Go give some love because she is crazy talented!
Inno Tenshi is a long-time friend (and nemesis) who has always been so kind as to indulge my love of Tanim and Daren. Over the years she has drawn me several wonderful pictures of them, so I thought I might post two of my favorites. More to follow!
DeviantArt artist SunriseAshes just drew this gorgeous, crazy awesome picture of Tanim and Daren for me. I can’t stop ooh-ing and awe-ing over it, seriously.