Warning: Although the tone of this poem is largely sweet, it is also quite intense and contains some things that not everyone enjoys. Highlight to see the details, some of which are spoilers. Two sections explore relations between Igor and Victor, then Csilla with Dénes and Dorottya. There are messy medical details, radical trust, deep intimacy, emotional surrender, some internal and interpersonal angst, demisexual challenges, vampire feeding, and other interesting stuff. Please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.
"How People Always Get Close"
Victor had talked with a Chinaman
passing through the village to trade
silk ribbons, from whom the doctor had
learned some new massage moves that
he hoped would help Igor's back.
Igor was, as always, reluctant to expose
the ugliest and most vulnerable part
of himself, but he had come to trust
Victor's hands, if not his own worth.
It was the damn bone spurs that made
massage such a miserable experience for
Igor, but this time Victor had it in his head
that stretching would work and would not
require applying any direct pressure.
So Igor stripped off his shirt and
submitted himself to Victor's tender care,
trying to concentrate on the feeling of
warm hands and gentle touch instead
of the fact that they were on his back.
Victor sat him up and leaned him
carefully forward and back, then
twisted him left and right, only as far
as Igor's warped back would go.
By the time Victor lay him on his side, Igor
was actually starting to relax, his tight muscles
slowly giving up their tension and growing looser,
the feeling of massage less about touch
and more about sheer relief.
Igor felt warm and limp and
very much loved, as if Victor was
somehow reaching inside him.
“I wonder if this is how people always
get close," Igor murmured drowsily.
"They heal each other’s wounds,
and in the process, they get
under each other's skin."
"Yes," Victor said,
"I think it must be so."
Csilla had learned that Dénes
was not someone you could simply
suck into your mouth and be close with.
The beginning had been so awkward that
Csilla still felt guilty about it, and had done
everything in her power to make amends.
It had taken the vampire months
of careful courtship, not just of Dénes
but also of his wife Dorottya, in order
to reach a comfortable relationship.
They went for walks in the woods and told
stories and shared their thoughts about how
the world worked and what they wanted from life.
Csilla had not always had the luxury
of forming long-term relationships with
her donors, and she treasured it.
This was an intimacy that equaled
the bonds she once had with her lost flock --
nothing could replace the people, but
at least now she didn't feel so alone.
Csilla learned that Dorottya had
a subtle but definite taste for a little pain, and
also enjoyed watching things happen, which
meant that she was all in favor of indulging
in Csilla's favorite feeding method: making
a shallow scrape in the skin and then
slowly licking the blood that welled up.
Csilla also discovered that Dénes
needed a lot more foreplay, and disliked
being bitten without a lengthy session of
cuddling and kissing beforehand. It helped
if she started by holding his hand and then
petting her way slowly up his arm before
setting her teeth to his skin.
Afterwards they lay in a languid pile,
with Csilla's two donors bracketing her,
their arms stretched across her belly so that
Dorottya could compare the dainty wounds
as they faded from red into pink, injuries
washed away by Csilla's healing saliva.
“I wonder if this is how people always
get close," Dorottya mused. "They
hurt each other a little, and then
close the wounds with a kiss."
"Yes," Csilla said,
"I think it must be so."
* * *
“I wonder if this is how people always get close: They heal each other’s wounds; they repair the broken skin.”
– Lauren Oliver, Pandemonium
Bodywork can relieve back pain. There are seated and side stretches for minimizing back pain, although I couldn't find exactly the ones I was thinking of. One of the main problems Igor has is that his body keeps trying to wad itself into a ball, so stretching his back helps uncurl him and that releases some of the strain.
Trust and vulnerability both work together to deepen relationships. This also improves leadership and teamwork, which shows in how Victor and Igor deal with their people. The experience of vulnerability in a safe context builds up enough trust to enable surrender. Understand how to build trust, expand vulnerability, and surrender in relationships.
Demisexuality, demiromance, and demisensuality are all different aspects in which someone may take a long time to warm up to a potential partner enough to attain intimacy. Demis are "slow" in relationships, and they get very uncomfortable if someone else is "fast." (I couldn't find a reference for this, but I once heard an excellent definition: There is a cultural expectation of steps, often with a general timeframe. Slow means not moving on to the next step, or retreating to an earlier step, in addition to just taking longer. Fast means pushing for the next step, or skipping steps, in addition to moving quicker.) When they feel overstrained, they often need to back up to the last safe place before moving onward. This can complicate dating and relationship development. There are tips on how to take it slow, deepen connections with a friend or spouse, and increase intimacy in relationships.
Intellectual foreplay involves intimate discussions, and can be as engrossing for asexual and demisexual folks as intercourse is for sexual people. Learn how to give good headtalk.
(These links are graphic.) Vampire bats feed slowly and gently. They do not make large or deep bites like movie vampires; they make shallow scrapes or nicks. Much of what we've seen so far with Csilla has been urgent feeding, where she nicks a vein to fill up quickly or spread narcotic saliva as far as possible. The slow version is more satisfying for her personally -- which happens to be an excellent match with some of her donors. Here is a video of a vampire bat feeding on a donkey.
Everyone makes mistakes. Therefore, much of the connection in friendship or romance comes from rebuilding trust after mishaps. It shows that you are in this for the long haul, and you're willing to put in the work of creating and maintaining relationships.