Sleeping Habits

by Tenshi

Flik and Viktor always slept back-to-back. No matter how exhausted they were, or what exactly they'd been doing to get that way, it was always shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip, their old scars crossing and forming a silent language of trust. Neither of them sought the reassurance of an encircling arm, or the clinging tangle typical of other, newer lovers. It was in bed like it was in battle, weaknesses shared and protected, sword arm out.

Viktor always thought that one day they would die like that, in a true last stand, knee-deep in enemies and standing in a pool of mingled blood. Together. It had never been an unpleasant thought and he could think of no better way to go. In his opinion was a finer thing by far than drowning in an overturned puddle of watered-down beer, with dimmed eyes and palsied hands no longer capable of clenching a sword hilt.

As time went on, when every morning there was more silver in his shaggy hair and Odessa's blade edge grew thin with countless sharpenings, Viktor began to think that this way might not be so bad, either. They were a long way off from that last, welcome sleep; Viktor could still barrel through a wall of enemies just to get to a good tankard and Flik's lightning rune still sparked in the dark, eager to lend its power. But sometimes in the grey before dawn, when he was wrapped up in half-dreams and the sound of Flik's breathing, he thought about that other surrender, back to back and weapons at last put down.

And he would roll over-- in palace bed or inn's cot or stable straw or hard earth with their cloaks spread on it-- and name the scars on Flik's shoulders until he fell asleep again. But now and then, twice a year, maybe less, he would wrap his sleeping lover up in broad, scarred arms and put his cheek to the soft hair at the nape of Flick's neck. For a moment Viktor left his own back unguarded, just long enough to promise that when that last battle came, tomorrow or forty years after, that no matter what he would never, ever let go.


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