Gentle readers, the remarkable Kydasam has left us. I had the great good fortune to have become a regular correspondent with her. She had a generous soul, a joie de vivre unmatched, and a love of fanfiction unlike any I'd ever met. The below short story was sent to her just in the last week of her life, and read to her in her hospital bed by her daughter, who told me Kydasam enjoyed it a great deal. Therefore, I hereby dedicate "Necessity" to Kydasam.
In the end, the beginning was difficult to define. And being a man who liked definitions and reason and orderliness, the friar spent a great deal of time determining when it had begun. Eventually, he narrowed it down to the return trip from Transylvania.
In the darkest hour of the night, in their small camp amongst the trees, the friar had awoken suddenly, to see the great hunter huddled by the fire. The larger man was awake, seated hunched over, as if protecting himself from some non-existent wind, staring into the flames sightlessly. Concerned, the friar had risen and reseated himself next to the hunter, wordlessly drawing the blankets about them both, despite the mildness of the Greek night. Eventually, the larger man had begun to lean against the slight friar, and without complaint or comment, the friar accepted and bore the weight.
Later, the hunter would come to the friar, and bowing his head, lean into the friar's shoulder, dark hair mingling with light. The friar supported the large frame of the hunter, sought to sooth the other's need. Eventually, the friar came to lay his hand on the hunter's shoulder in return, a hesitant half-embrace, an unconscious benediction.
The friar remembered clearly the night the hunter arrived at his cold and humble cell, and the friar let him in, drew him to sit on the rough cot and allowed the other man to curl against him. Long and long they sat together, until the candle guttered and the grey dim light of morning crept through the narrow window. On subsequent occasions, the friar would doze off, and the night comforts shifted until both men slept on the narrow bed, dark curled against light, against the chill of the stone walls, under the coarse wool blanket.
The friar always awoke alone.
There came a time when the friar would not sleep until the hunter arrived. Sometimes, the friar would lie awake in the darkness, and when the door would slowly open, a gentle hiss of sound, the friar would lift up his arm, holding the blanket aloft, and the hunter would join him, pressing his larger, stronger frame against the leaner form of the friar, who never said a word.
Then one night, the friar sat awake, several candles lit, and his hands worked the schematics of a new weapon while his mind wandered, perhaps reviewing the times past and the development of the strangeness of this ongoing situation. When the door opened, he glanced up, and the friar's blue eyes met the hunter's dark ones, and they both paused, for this was unusual. In that instant, the hunter's eyes asked permission. Without thought, the friar wordlessly granted it, and rose to extinguish the candle flames. But in the night, as the hunter's soft sleeping breath caressed the friar's neck, the friar lay awake and stared at the formless black ceiling above, and contemplated this stark and startling change, for never had the hunter asked permission before, and never had the friar considered the possibility that he might deny this. Never had he felt used or imposed upon, but the hunter's silent question had created this idea that the friar might not want this contact. There in the night was a sudden conscious acknowledgement of this thing between them. The friar found himself seeking to define this thing that defied definition, this always unspoken connection. For the first time, the feeling of his arms around the hunter seemed awkward, the weight of the hunter's head on his shoulder strange and new and somehow the whole thing had changed, become different.
Anxious to define, to explain and categorize, the friar took on a tension and an unconscious resistance. The hunter noticed quickly, and for a time, there were no visits in the night. But to his amazement, the friar discovered now he could no longer sleep soundly without the other man, and lying alone in the cot became a misery. So eventually, his eyes bore apology, and the hunter returned to their bed, gladly, for the nights alone were restless for him as well. Need had become necessity.
Tonight, the friar waited, lying in the cot, and wondering again what to call this unspoken thing between them, tireless mind gnawing like a cur at a bone, distracting himself from the latest horror they had experienced, and the near-loss they had escaped. And when the door opened, he felt an eagerness for contact unlike he'd ever allowed himself to feel or recognize before. When the hunter laid beside him, the friar for the first time turned into the other, rather than allowing the hunter to define them, and openly sought their shared warmth.
For a brief moment, the hunter stilled, and poised on the pinpoint of something new, both men hesitated. Then, feather light, the hunter lifted his hand and touched the face of the friar. The gentle caress, the first ever shared between them, instantly changed this thing between them, and what was contact for comfort became contact for both comfort and pleasure, and this thing that the friar had only ever defined as for the hunter, was now for both, that they could come together equally and mutually benefit. Need had become necessity, and necessity had become reality. A silent exploration of one another began, and both truly relaxed for the first time in a very long time, quietly grateful for this change, and relieved that they were at last together in every sense. And in the darkest hours, neither stared awake into darkness or light, but, comforted, both slept deeply, entwined together.