You’re like an angel, you know. You’re beautiful on the outside but underneath I know you’re all blinding light and holy wrath and too many blazing eyes amid a dozen flaming wings. Yours is a terrifying, incomprehensible otherworldliness that makes me weep in awe. If you were to peel back your skin the sight of your true form might drive me mad or burn me to ash – and I would beg for either, if only I might glimpse your glorious truth in my final moments.
You are the god of syringes
Of morphine, caffeine, nicotine
All the things which cannot fill the void
Of blue blood and black bruises
Gunpowder, despair, a silk tie noose
Love like chains and devotion like addiction
You offer up
You bow down
You are the blinding sun; you are the selfish savior; you are the punishing summer.
You are desire.
How is it that I am always the one pursuing you and yet still I feel your hot breath on my neck, still my heart pounds with the instinct to flee before the hound’s long white teeth. You are ever beyond me, distant as the moon, yet I swear I hear your laughter drifting on the wind as it chases me down dark streets. I can never catch you and yet I wake in a cold sweat with bruises around my throat in the shape of your long, lovely fingers. How can this be? How are you everywhere and everything?
I do not yet know what I want from you – will you be patient as I search for it? Will you let me cut you open to dig through your soft flesh until I find that precious something hidden within? Will you let me dissect your deepest secrets and hold your most embarrassing fears and failures up to the light? It will be a learning opportunity for us both, a chance to discover who you really are beneath the layers of artifice. Somewhere in your warm depths I’ll find what I’m looking for; until then, I will enjoy weighing and cataloging every scrap of you.
You don’t want to be loved for who you could become.
You don’t want to be loved for who you once were.
You don’t want to be loved for who you are.
Perhaps you don’t want to be loved.
Sometimes I can hear you screaming in my head, that endless wounded animal howling of total devastation, and I want to imagine his arms around you for comfort – but that’s not possible, is it? Neither of you could ever comfort the other at such a time because the only thing that would break either of you so completely is the loss of the other. You care for nothing else enough to experience such soul-rending grief, and so as much as I wish to imagine you safe in the shelter of his arms as you weather out the storm of madness, it would be a lie. The hard reality is that you are always alone in the moment you must first face the truth of his absence, just as you are alone every moment following that. Again and again and again you are alone, alone, alone. There is no one to hold you, no one to ease your suffering, no one to stand against you and the dark chasm of loss. Of course all you do is scream.
Stay, you beg. Stay, you plead. Stay. Stay. Stay. Just this one word over and over like a prayer, like a spell, like a compulsion. Stay. Stay. But he never will. He never can. No matter how many times you ask, no matter if you implore or cajole or demand or threaten, it will not happen – and you know that, yet still you say it. Stay. These rooms are haunted by your pleading. Stay. I cannot think for all I hear is your desperate voice. Stay. I cannot speak for only one word would come out my lips. Stay. Stay. Stay. Each time with more futility than the last. Stay. But you never cease.
Not all gods will disappoint you. I hope you know this is true, even if you don’t want to believe it yet. You have been hurt by a god who promised unconditional love and yet cast you out for being true to yourself; that wound runs deep and does not easily heal. Perhaps you don’t believe other gods exist, or if you do you can’t yet let yourself believe that they may love what another rejected. But they do exist, I promise, and they will love you. There are gods who will see in the depths of you great beauty and worth. There are gods who will embrace every aspect of your being, even and especially those parts of you which another god rejected. There are gods who will urge you to talk to that cute girl in the bookstore or weep joyfully with you when your partner proposes. They will dance with you in nightclubs and march with you in Pride parades. To discover them for yourself you must go straight to the source. Put down the poorly translated books, turn away from the preachers and prophets, and reach out directly to the divine. Connect to the source material and let it, not some fallible human, show you the truth of its compassion. You have been burned before by a cruel god but there are others out there waiting to fold you into their truly boundless, truly unconditional love.
o wicked winter, o sinful summer, let me curl up behind your ribs to slumber amid your shared madness, let me bear witness to the cacophony of your frenzied union, blood and sweat and insatiable hunger, you are a discordant melody shivering toward a violent climax, a dissonant hymn to addiction and adoration played out on bruised flesh by forceful hands
Put me in a sideshow, it’s where I belong. All the people who have heard about freaks like me can come pay fifty cents to stare at me through the bars of my cage. They’ll ooh and ah, gasp and point. When I try to explain myself they’ll snicker behind their hands, Look, it thinks it’s people! You’re wrong, though. I don’t. You’ve finally forced it through my thick skull that I’m not one of you. But at least here you’re all laughing at my face and not my back, right? And maybe someone will throw peanuts to me out of pity.
Your union always contains an edge of desperation, a need to consume and be consumed that surpasses mere physical desire. It’s as if every time is the first and the last, as if you have never touched before and may never touch again, or at any moment you will be ripped apart for good. If force alone could meld your bodies into one, you would have fused inseparably long ago. This goes beyond pleasure; this is one soul trapped in two bodies, the broken halves dashing themselves against their heavy confines to finally reunite.
Or: I Don’t Always Write Assholes (But Mostly I Do)
Thought I’d give new folks the TL;DR overview of the characters I sporadically write about. More in their respective tags, of course.
Remr: Tiefling scientist with poor impulse control. Huge fucking nerd. Has no social skills but somehow managed to help save the world. Just so gay and nerdy. Find her in the DnD tag.
Dhashi: Lolita aasimar magical girl who believes good always triumphs over evil. Leaves a trail of glitter everywhere she goes. Died but came back. Very cute. Very positive. Very annoying. Find her in the DnD tag.
Mage: Asshole pirate queen with too much time on her hands. Always trying to destroy the good guys. Enjoys arson and petty vandalism. Kinda half-monster maybe? Find her in the Mage tag.
Tanim: Rich asshole who loves drugs, alcohol, and sex with strangers. Falls in love with Daren. High class angst with a side of sadomasochism. Find him in the Tanim and Daren tag.
Daren: Mentally unstable asshole. Falls in love with Tanim. Less angst, more monotone sarcasm and completely serious threats of violence. Really really likes knives. Find him in the Tanim and Daren tag.
“Just admit it, it was terrible,”
Tanim rolled his eyes as they turned down the alley. “It wasn’t terrible. You’re being too critical. When did you become an expert in opera, anyway?” Beside him, Daren snorted out cigarette smoke and derision. “I don’t have to be an expert to know when someone’s flat the entire time,” he retorted, eliciting a sigh from his partner. “Oh, you just didn’t like-”
“Don’t shout or fight,” a rough voice interrupted, “just give me your wallet.” Tanim had just enough time to register the gun barrel pressed to his temple before Daren moved. With a spray of blood, their would-be thief slumped to the cement with throat neatly cut. Casually, as if from long habit, Daren reached out and wiped his small knife clean on Tanim’s tie.
“Hey!” Tanim snatched the silk fabric away with a glare. “This is a six hundred dollar tie.”
Daren clapped him on the shoulder as he walked past. “Club soda, dear.”
Tomorrow, he thinks as he pours another glass. Tomorrow he will go dry.
Tomorrow, he thinks as he swallows another pill. Tomorrow he will get clean.
Tomorrow, he thinks as he sucks off another stranger. Tomorrow he will become celibate.
Tomorrow, he thinks as he drinks; tomorrow, as he injects; tomorrow, as he whores himself out. Tomorrow.
A dark stage. Tanim stares down into the glass in his hand, gives the amber liquid an idle swirl while I sought you in the last sip of laudanum, he muses aloud. From the darkness behind him, the snik snik and spark of a lighter. The flame catches, burns a small spot in the darkness to reveal Daren as he lights the cigarette poised on his lips, closes the lighter with a metallic snap. Tanim, oblivious, continues. I sought you in brothels and fight rings, and Daren, pacing, wreathed in smoke, they say madness is repeating the same action yet expecting a different result. I sought you nightly like a man possessed, Tanim finishes the drink in one long swallow, as if parched, yet you evaded me. That is not quite true, however. Tanim lifts his head, eyes searching, seeing nothing. The hand holding his glass shakes slightly less than his voice. I prayed to you; you did not reply. I prostrated myself before you; you turned your back. I courted you like a lover and yet you denied me time and time again. Daren drops the cigarette, madness is repeating the same action despite knowing you shall never produce a different result, leaves it burning in the background while he moves closer. I loved you most dearly of all hence we enter this dance again yet you are fickle, o death not because we hope to change the ending and I have winced in the light of so many unwanted dawns but because we know we cannot. Tanim, with a sigh, Can this be the end now? Can I be done? Come, fifth sword, and cut down this hanging man. I am so tired. Daren steps into the candlelight, lays a gentle hand on his jaw. Hello, brother, softly. Did I keep you waiting overlong? Tanim’s weak smile, oh sweet relief, oh final mercy. Never. They kiss. The gleam of the blade in Daren’s hand is the last movement seen before the stage goes completely dark. The glass hits the floor, shatters. The cigarette burns itself out.
Halfway through his omelette, Tanim noticed Daren’s food remained untouched. This wasn’t unusual – toast had a frequent fate of going cold and stale on Daren’s plate – but the man usually at least poked at it a bit. Instead, he seemed to be staring at the table, a thoughtful expression subtly altering his otherwise impassive face. Going back to his food, Tanim asked in idle curiosity, “What are you thinking about?”
“Whether I could use this spoon to scoop out someone’s eye,” Daren reached forward and took up the spoon resting by Tanim’s coffee cup. He didn’t seem to notice the sudden jump of Tanim’s eyebrows, nor the forkful of egg that hovered frozen in the air halfway to the man’s mouth. Turning the spoon over in his hand, Daren added conversationally, “I think I could. You’d have to go in from the side, kind of angle down like an ice cream scoop. Though I guess it’d be easier with one of those grapefruit spoons, since they’re serrated on the edge. With a regular spoon like this you might have a little trouble with the optic nerve. Do you think it’d be soft enough to–”
“Just,” Tanim laid his hand over Daren’s with a sigh, “stop.” He reclaimed the spoon and set it back down on the table where it belonged. “This is why we don’t eat out more often.” With that he turned back to his omelette, very pointedly ignoring the startled looks of the other diners around them. Daren, immune to the stares of others, merely shrugged and took a bite of cooling toast. “You asked.” To their apparently paralyzed waitress, unfortunate enough to have overheard the entire conversation, he indicated his coffee and said, “I’ll have another cup.”
Daren’s hands clench white as he watches the dogfight taking place in the airspace above the military base. The tall windows of his office offer a prime view of the base’s landing strip and the incoming medical transport under fire from enemy aircraft. Despite the planes launched to repel the attack and guide the transport to a safe landing, the sluggish medic aircraft is clearly in trouble; dark smoke pours from one engine and its angle of approach is far too steep
“Colonel, med crews are ready to deploy when necessary,”
Daren doesn’t bother turning from the windows to acknowledge this report, only nods and continues to watch the battle taking place in his skies. When the door clicks shut, he slowly uncurls his shaking hands.
“Col St. Anthony, may I have the pleasure of introducing you to our newest Chief Flight Surgeon?” Daren held back a sigh and prepared for his tenth introduction that night. This was why he avoided military social functions; he could barely stand talking to any of these people on base, let alone after hours. Managing something that approximated a smile closely enough, considering his rank, he turned to face the speaker and their guest. “Of course.”
“Col St. Anthony, this is Dr. Rosenquist. Dr. Rosenquist, this is our esteemed Colonel.”
“St. Anthony?” The doctor held out his hand, and while Daren shook it he waited for the inevitable comment about the battle that made him a household name. Instead, though, Dr. Rosenquist only grinned and said, “I have heard you’re vicious at chess. Perhaps I could bother you for a game some day?” The comment finally snagged Daren’s attention and for the first time he actually looked at the man who gripped his hand with firm confidence. There was a curious shrewdness and humor to the gray-blue eyes staring back at him, and despite his reticence he found himself answering, “Yes, please do.”
Tanim bites back another curse as the plane rocks and swings to one side, sending half the supplies in his kit out of arms’ reach. He can hear the yelling of the pilots and the terrified questions from the rest of his team, but he has no time to glance out a window to see if they’re all doomed or not. His entire attention must remain focused on the patient in front of him and the frustratingly delicate, life-saving surgery that could not wait until landing. For anyone else the lack of steady ground would be enough to stop them from even attempting such a risky procedure, but Tanim remains determined to work until either his patient stabilizes or the plane explodes. Considering how the bloody floor beneath his knees drops and shudders, tilts and sways, Tanim can’t honestly say which might happen first.
“Thank god,” Tanim lets out a long-held breath as his patient’s bleeding finally decreases to a manageable trickle. As he ties off the last suture, the surgeon spares a brief second to glance up and through the cockpit window, where the airstrip rushes up to meet their plummeting plane. He has only enough time to feel a thrill of fear before the two collide.
“Hello, Doctor,” Daren shut the office door behind Tanim and slid home the lock. “You weren’t followed?”
“No, the building’s dead this time of night,” Tanim shrugged out of his coat, tossing it casually over the back of a chair, and came up behind Daren. He slid one arm around the man’s waist, the other over his chest, and held him close. “Hello, sir,” he murmured, pressing his lips to his lover’s neck to feel the heartbeat quickening under Daren’s skin. “Shall we play a round or two, then?”
“I would like that very much,” Daren turned in Tanim’s arms and pulled his head down for a hard, hungry kiss. After this they did not speak at all, lost in the need for mouth against mouth, skin against skin, to forget for a time their location and the illicit nature of their relationship. These clandestine meetings were not even barely enough for either of them, but all they could steal and so they made do. It was something, at least.
Tanim’s first instinct upon regaining consciousness is to locate and identify the pain, but every part of him seems to pulse with the same excruciating agony that scrambles his bleary thoughts. Giving up on any sort of diagnosis, he focuses instead on lifting his heavy eyelids. Even this is a feat, though one he accomplishes after what feels like an eternity. He can’t seem to move his head yet, though, and all he can see is a white ceiling and a dark blur at his side. When the blur moves, he just manages to make out the uniform. He tries to clear his throat but fails and instead quietly croaks, “Daren?”
“Welcome back to the land of the living,” The blur shifts and suddenly Daren comes into focus, his mouth a thin smile that does nothing to hide the worry casting shadows under his eyes. He reaches out and carefully brushes a lock of hair off Tanim’s forehead, then returns to holding Tanim’s hand. “Thought maybe we’d lost you for good.”
“Me too,” Tanim glances around, trying both to avoid the uncharacteristic concern in Daren’s eyes and to hide the pain he knows is obvious in his. “This isn’t the base ICU,” he realizes. “Where am I?”
“I had you moved to a room closer to my quarters. More privacy here,” Daren’s reply sounds careless, even distracted, but Tanim knows him too well. There is something he doesn’t want to say, something that would explain the different pains starting to define themselves; the pain of broken bones, of burned and lacerated skin, struggling lungs and a concussed brain, and beneath it all a deep, endless ache the doctor fears to identify. Instead, he takes a labored breath and asks, “How bad is it?” When Daren turns his face away, mouth set in a grim line, Tanim has his answer.
For a moment neither speaks, letting the room’s machinery fill the grim silence between them. Finally, Daren picks up something from the table next to them and holds it up for Tanim to see: a chess piece. He manages the ghost of a smile. “Want to play a round?”
All I remember from the dream is your silver-white hair smooth as silk, the weight of your unseen presence in the room, and the way your clothes clung to your hunched frame as you sat stubbornly smoking in the rain, refusing sympathy, and in this way it was like every other dream, the fleeting recollection of his hand on your face, the dissociation in your black eyes, the desire to remain there on the edge of the drop as long as you are there together, as long as we are there together.
I wonder what Tanim and Daren would be like if their circumstances were switched at birth. How much of who they are is a result of nature and how much of nurture?
Take Daren, the madman, and give him family, wealth, power. Give him the world at his fingertips and the protection of affluence to do as he likes. He’d look different; younger, stronger, healthier. But would he be any saner? Or would he just be better at hiding it, a Hannibal-esque psychopath in a very convincing person suit? Either way, he would be a force to be reckoned with. Unhindered by a past riddled with abandonment and abuse, he would have a terrifying clarity of mind and control over his actions. An unbroken Daren would be charismatic, intelligent, a skilled liar and shrewd interpreter of intention. He would easily succeed in the cold, calculating world of business and blue blood – though he might also at any moment destroy it all, just to see what would happen. Certainly he would not feel bound or beholden to anyone but himself, and would continue to act with impunity as he already does in every other incarnation.
Now take Tanim, the rich man, and strip all his blessings away. Make him the unwanted son of a druggie, thrown at a young age into a foster care system broken and beyond capacity. He certainly wouldn’t be living in a penthouse apartment and drinking scotch out of crystal decanters after that. Chances are good that he’d still be an addict, though, and probably selling himself for money instead of just giving himself away. Maybe a rough beginning would do him some good, give him the freedom to explore his identity without the confines of duty and expectation. At the very least, he might be haunted by fewer ghosts – or just more bearable ones. With no real need to live as a recluse, he might even create some sort of found family for himself made of other misfits and lost souls. Still, he would be just as likely to throw all that away when he met Daren as he is anything else in any other incarnation.
Together, they would be less internal disaster and more external destruction. Daren’s wealth and cruelty, combined with Tanim’s general degeneration and desire to fulfill all of Daren’s whims, would set them on a truly dangerous path. Maybe things start the way they do for this very reason – maybe otherwise Tanim and Daren are simply too volatile together. That’s a disturbing thought.
I would rip you open, he murmurs, teeth testing the taut flesh of your neck, tongue gliding over the pulsing heartbeat beneath, and you only smile with half-lidded eyes. You hope he will; you hope you feel those teeth sink deep into your throat and that sardonic mouth swallow your screams. Please do, your body begs. Just wait, his promises.
The following is an exchange that 100% happened between my DnD character (Remr, female tiefling) and my girlfriend’s character (Never, nonbinary dragonborn). Or maybe we were out of character. Or maybe even we aren’t sure. Anyway…
Remr: And the hot chick.
Never: [confused] Who’s the hot chick?
Remr: You know, [gestures vaguely] the hot chick. With the pointy teeth.
Remr: [snaps fingers] Yeah! The hot chick.
Never: She has a name.
Remr: Yeah, “hot chick”.
Never: [patience waning] You can’t just call them Hot Chick 3 and 7.
Remr: Well, no. [holds up a hand to start counting on her fingers] Hot Chick 3 would be–
Never: No, no, just stop. [holds hand out to silence her] There aren’t even 7.
Remr: [thoughtfully] Actually, if you count–
Also, here are some other recent hijinks!
The team got to ride on an airship, where it was learned that Remr has a sailor hat Tarcella gave her when they were kids. Tarcella named Remr her second in command on the ship because she just so happened to have read the schematics for fun. Remr then took out the hat to wear it, but it didn’t really fit on her head so she just kinda hooked it on one of her horns.
Later on when the ship was crashing, Remr and Tarcella both fell out of the front windows and would have fallen to their deaths in the ocean, but were saved at the last minute by Bao’ru.
- During a brief rest in the jungle, Remr spent her time collecting specimens of new or interesting bugs. At some point she ran out of containers to put them in, so she started stowing them in Never’s bags and then eventually just put them on the dragonborn themself for safekeeping.
“Why do you bother dressing like that every day?”
“What, I can’t look nice?”
“The dress shirt seems like overkill. And why the tie? You’re not even going anywhere.”
“Are you really giving me fashion advice when you’re not even out of bed yet, let alone dressed?”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“It’s just habit, okay?”
“It’s a weird habit.”
“Says the man who wears nothing but black every day.”
“Why shouldn’t I? It’s served me just fine thus far.”
“Fine, I’ll lose the tie. But then you won’t have anything to yank on like a dog collar when you…”
“Okay, okay, you make a good point. Keep the tie; lose the shirt.”
He returns to the alley too often. It is not a gravestone, after all, but close enough and all he has. Sometimes he sits on the cold concrete, recalling the night they met – though he sits on the far side, never beneath the darkened streetlight. Most times he just paces back and forth as he lights, smokes, and discards cigarette after cigarette. Their burnt ends litter the cement, are ground beneath his shoes and grow soggy in rain puddles. He hopes some shred of fate still lingers here. He hopes he will catch his lover’s tragedy, be infected with whatever curse or punishment took the man from him so he can experience the same pain, the same misery, the same slow death. In this place where everything started, he seeks the beginning of the end. It is the only way left for him to feel close to his beloved. He hopes he will die here; living is a betrayal he cannot bear much longer.
He waits. The shards of glass have glittered like snow on the white carpet for five months now; he steps around them without thought as he paces. Sometimes he still purposefully treads on one to feel the bright, sharp pain travel up through his foot, to leave a few more bloodstains in the wreckage. He hasn’t even bothered to replace the shattered glass tumblers, instead drinking his liquor out of a coffee mug or straight from the bottle. He’s stopped bothering with an ash tray, too, and the cigarette butts leave little burn marks where they fall from idle hands. He doesn’t care. The one he loves will return to him, he is certain of this despite their parting words, the broken glass and passing months. The one he loves will return to him and so he must be here, cleansed by his penitence and proven faithful by his stasis. So, he waits.
Love lies at the end of a knife blade, the culmination of all you ever wanted to share with your beloved, beautiful red pain blossoming up around that sweet spot just below the sternum, and finally he sees the world you’ve made for him, for you both, finally he understands the language your love speaks in pain and punishment and the patience to lead him inexorably to this moment of final, total clarity, his surrender in your arms the last step in the dance of your own design, and you will be called madmen but that is because only you can see the beauty in a love this red.
Life is one long slippery slope. I started at the top, but from the first my stance was shaky. I slid so early so easily and never managed to climb back up more than an inch – and that just to fall again anyway. Drinking to smoking to injecting, kissing to fucking to binding, it’s all downhill. Melancholy to misery to madness. Love to obsession to hatred. I’m not sure I’ll even know when I’ve hit the bottom; will it feel any different than where I am now?
The first time I made him bleed, I thought I would kill myself rather than live with the guilt. But I didn’t, and the second time that guilt weighed a little less on my shoulders. I barely felt it at all the third time; he knew the possibility was there, he could have prevented it had he truly wanted to. My point is, none of those instances felt like rock bottom. Maybe nothing will, until the time I unwrap my hands from his neck and he lays still and silent. I thought love might be the thing with which I’d climb back up that slope, but I was wrong. If anything, it only accelerated my descent.
The apple. The pomegranate. His hand.
Chest to chest, hip to hip as if one heartbeat, as if one breath
(step, turn, step)
hand to the small of the back and fingers trailing over stiff linen
(step, turn, dip)
and then the bite of the blade, too sharp to even hurt
(step, turn, step)
red drops on white carpet, rose petal wrists
(step, turn, step)
arm sliding around narrow waist, mouths bruising
then the blade to bare throat with merciful speed
and gentle hands amid the red river
lay him down.
I know the things you call him when he is too far gone to argue. Angel, when you’re wiping blood from his mouth. Lovely, when you’re lifting his limp body off the bathroom floor. Darling, when you’re holding him until the trembling stops. Baby, when his eyes are bleak and far away and you aren’t sure if you’ll get him back this time. But always, at the end, just Daren. Daren, when you’re trying to wake him. Daren, when your hands are shaking too badly to find a pulse. Daren, when there’s nothing more you can do but weep.
I knew whether you speak to me in memories
reek of burning feathers, scorched flesh
the weight of you in his arms
the slow seep of the unhealing wound
he kisses your cracked lips, feverish skin
murmurs against your breast an ancient name
that tastes of coals and blood
I knew when you speak truth
and when you speak lies
I knew whether you are cruel or merely
Tanim says I love you without words; he knows the man he loves doesn’t want to hear it. Instead, he says it with a cup of coffee, black, no sugar. He says it with a proffered cigarette. He says it with arms that know when to hold – and, more importantly, when to let go. He says it in the way he waits out the storm. He says it with his mouth, hot and eager, and in the way he so willingly surrenders. He says it with broken glass and used needles. He says it with his anger, his fear, his possessiveness; he says it with his misery, his patience, his longing. He says it in the way he asks nothing of his companion and yet offers everything. Tanim says I love you with every moment he allows love to bleed him, and with every day that he watches the thing he loves fade.