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[personal profile] sunsetmondays
My secret tax goat fic.
A repossession and re-imagination of
Thero’s To Thee I So Belong. Specifically set as a prequel surrounding the poem featured in the original.

In the decrepit streets of an Alaranni urban sprawl—the kind where grit clung to every crevice and cold shadows crept between crumbling architecture—Thog sat in a damp gutter, a single crumpled sheet of paper in hand. Above, clouds that had borne yesterday's rain had begun to fall away like freshly stirred silt dissolving into water. The day was still fairly dark, cold, and miserable, but there was a freshness to it as if the thunder had set the air aspark, daring it to come alight.

Thog sighed, staring at the sheet. There was a strange lightness to his chest, as though his ribs had been replaced by avian bones while his heavy heart remained nestled between. It made breathing a stark contradiction of both uneasy and effortless. It set him on edge. He smoothed out the paper, sighed once again, and condensed his thoughts into a single word.


Blue eyes and blond hair, the man had come into his life like a summer storm: heated, rough and crackling with energy, but edged with a softness that brought relief from the piercing sun and dry winds. He'd ran into him purely on accident. Well, it was more like Moren had stumbled across him, pinned and frightened with a stranger's gun pressed to the base of his jaw.

But nonetheless, Thog was new to the city; freshly kicked out of his last place of residence, head-first in a well of poverty and disillusion. Like any lost, homeless, moneyless young adult, all he'd been after was a quiet corner where he could attempt to stay dry for the night. Much to his chagrin, his chosen corner just so happened to be the location of two rather intoxicated and very angry members of a gang. It isn't hard to guess what happened next.

So, with Thog scared shitless and a good six and a half seconds away from no longer having a miserable life to worry about, Moren had walked past the alley, just so happened to glance by it, and by some inexplicable miracle had pulled out a knife and managed to take down both aggressors before a single fire was shot. Thog was one lucky bastard, and he still had no clue why Moren had decided to help him. There were much better things to do than risk your arse over some stranger in a back alley. Most people would have continued walking in quiet ignorance; just another day in the Alaranni Empire.

One invite to stay the night, then the week, then the month, and Thog had learnt that Moren was not like most other people. For one, he shared Thog's passion for the creative arts: a rare sight in a country of dead-beat thugs and overly practical self-serving leeches. For two, the man had more charity in his little finger than everyone else in a five-hundred mile radius had in their whole body, combined. Thog was honestly surprised that Moren hadn't already been killed by someone too eager to take advantage of his generosity.

The thought sent a chill through his bones. An uneasiness rose in the pit of his stomach. It had been nearly nine months since he had met Moren, and nearly three years since he had run from his past. He pushed the thoughts aside, reminded himself that he wouldn't let it happen again, not to Moren, at least.

As someone who now knew the truth, he again wondered why Moren had still chosen to stick by him. He turned his attention back to his sheet of paper and recalled the particular events that had led him to this gutter.

It was the early hours of the morning in the warm shelter of one of the friendlier local bars. They were both one too many bears past reason, but for the moment, it didn't matter. They were both having fun and it had been a good end to a bad day.

Like any god-awful man with demons out to haunt him, a remnant of Thog's past had shown up slap-bang in the middle of the morning, ready to pull apart what fragments of a life Thog had managed to pull together. Moren, of course, had unquestionably helped him deal with the problem. Thog had then been pulled head-first into an emotional breakdown, and through the course of it managed to spill all of his secrets to Moren: something he had previously and quite adamantly refrained from doing.

Despite the nature and contents of the confession, when faced with the question of 'what now?', Moren had simply smiled and said 'I'm not going anywhere' before promptly dragging Thog to the bar.

So, words slurred and limbs heavy, the two had ended up reciting their favourite poems as darkness filled the city above.

"A sonnet, otherwise unnamed," Thog said, leaning on Moren for support as he dug a crumpled sheet of paper out of his pocket. "It's my favourite 'cause it makes me think of you. S'why I keep it on me. A reminder, I s'pose."

Moren laughed, heated and rough like a fire in the midst of winter. "Read it then," he urged, cheeks warmed with liquor and endearment. He was too far gone to catch the weight of Thog's words as his friend stumbled through the poem. The lines came thick and heavy, as if Thog were learning to breathe for the first time for the night.

"When thou shalt be disposed to set me light,
And place my merit in the eye of scorn.

Moren looked to see that Thog had now closed his eyes, a conflicted expression twisting his features. In his current state, Moren failed to make sense of it. Instead, he rested his elbows on the bar-top and listened intently. Somewhat detached from his surroundings, Thog continued.

"Upon thy side, against myself I'll fight,
And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn.

A heaviness settled upon the air. Thog's words dripped bittersweet as he recited the poem, as if they stung upon his lips but burnt worse against his throat when left unsaid. There was an inexplicable beauty to it, subtle meaning laced between uncertainties. Through the haze of liquor, Moren couldn't pull together the dots, but he could feel that there was something there, something that he wasn't quite grasping.

"Upon thy part I can set down a story
Of faults concealed, wherein I am attainted;
That thou in losing me shalt win much glory:
And I by this will be a gainer too;
For bending all my loving thoughts on thee,
The injuries that to myself I do,
Doing thee vantage, double-vantage me.

Thog's words fell to a whisper, as if the next lines of the verse were some dark secret. Tension curled in his fingers, held hard against the bench top. His breathing came ragged, forced. Slowly, he opened his eyes, lips curled around the final words as he looked Moren dead in the eyes.

"Such is my love, to thee I so belong,
That for thy right, myself will bear all wrong.

Moren blinked, the words surrounding him like a tangible force. There was a familiarity to the words: he’d heard this somewhere before. But that still wasn’t quite it—he struggled to grasp at the meaning through his drink-fuelled haze.

Surprisingly sobered, Thog carefully watched Moren’s expression. The blond’s relaxed half-smile had drawn to a thin line, his eyes guarded. Thog released a tightly held breath, a conclusion drawn.

The penny dropped, realisation sweeping across Moren’s expression. By this point Thog had already looked away, fists clenched and shoulders hunched in defeat.

"I-" Moren began.

"I have to go," Thog interrupted, abrupt, unprecedented. His stool scraped loudly against the wooden floor and before Moren could react, he was out the door and gone to the shadows of the rising sun.

Three blocks out, and the cold of the gutter seeping into his skin, Thog stared at the sheet of paper in his hands. He crumpled it, smoothed it out, then crumpled it again, shoulders held tense against the morning air. For one last time, he stared at the balled paper in his hands before tossing it into the open street with a noise of frustration.

He sighed once more, not knowing if he'd dare go back.

~ ~ ~