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Shadow of Olympus

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The streets are lined for two miles with tables and stalls selling various merchandises from clothing to ancient artifacts replicas and art. Wooden stages are set up, modest in size, but elaborate in design. Stage lights and street lamps flicker and glow. Actors’ speeches and laughter clamor over each other to be heard by the audiences. Music soars, loud and cheerful. Tables loaded with food most common in ancient Greece are set in the middle of the streets. The food is abundant and the alcohol flows freely. The streets are overflowing with people. Some have traveled all the way from Tripoli. Some people are dressed normally in modern wear – jeans and t-shirts; some have gotten into the ancient Greece spirit and donned tunics and chitons, even gold leaf crowns and sandals. The adults drink and laugh and shout. Children are mostly unattended and run through the crowds, waving sparklers like swords. One man’s tunic caught fire from a child-manned sparkler. Seeing it from across the street, Tommy put it out with a sharp breath in his direction. The man, who didn’t notice, will wonder later why the fabric is charred.

Tommy sips his drink and looks around Adam’s festival. He’s not big into crowds, but his attendance here is required, of course. He spots Adam down the street by Mr Pagonis’ display table of artifacts. Adam is dressed in his long, leather black coat. He turned his hair darker and put on makeup, and he looks so much like he did the night their worlds collided at the Dionysus festival that it makes his heart alternately skip and ache. This entire night has been reminiscent of that festival, in fact. It’s missing the bonfire, though. The city government wouldn’t allow a fire in the middle of the street for safety reasons. Adam was set on overruling them by snapping his fingers and forcing their minds to accept the idea but Tommy talked him out of it. Adam agreed but it’d taken sexual promises from Tommy, which wasn’t a hardship for either of them.

Adam is talking to a small crowd around the table. He’s animated, speaking fast and gesturing wildly. He has the group’s devoted attention. They hang on every word, follow his every move, and Adam is enjoying it. Tommy smiles. He looks back at the table behind him, reaching for a drink to take to Adam. He knows Adam loves to talk and he gets thirsty. He reaches for a cup of wine when the boy filling them hands him one. Tommy looks at him.

“It’s fresher,” he says. “Hasn’t been sitting on this table half the night.”

Tommy pauses, then takes it, giving the boy a smile. The boy doesn’t smile back. He is young, a teenager, maybe he’s not too thrilled having to serve drinks. Tommy wouldn’t have been thrilled either at that age having to serve rather than party. Tommy turns away and goes to Adam.

Adam is laughing loudly when Tommy reaches him and it makes him smile. Adam laughing always makes him smile. It also sends shivers up his spine. Always. His audience is laughing as well and Mr Pagonis turns to Tommy.

“Your Adam tells the best stories,” he says. “He was just telling us about the three-headed dog that guards Hades.”

“I didn’t know there was anything funny about Cerberus,” Tommy says.

“Oh no,” Mr Pagonis says. “He also told a joke about a miser writing a will and naming himself the heir.”

Mr Pagonis chuckles again. Tommy smiles and nods. Maybe it would be funny if he heard the whole thing. When Adam turns his head and sees Tommy his eyes flash. It’s brief and imperceptible to everyone but Tommy. He hands Adam the cup.

“Thought you might need this,” he says.

Adam takes the cup in one hand and wraps the other around Tommy’s waist. He kisses Tommy on the lips.

“What would I do without you?” he asks.

“Shrivel up and blow away,” Tommy says.

Adam snorts and takes a swallow of wine. He grimaces.

“This is wine?” he asks.

“Yeah,” Tommy says. “Has it turned?”

“No, it tastes watered down,” Adam says. He shrugs and drinks the rest in two gulps.

He sets the cup down on the table behind him and gazes at Tommy.

“Having fun?” he asks.

Tommy nods. “This turned out to be big. You must be pleased.”

“It’s better than I expected,” Adam says. “This could last all weekend. In fact, I would like it to last all weekend.”

“Adam, you can’t expect people to stay all day and night, all weekend,” Tommy says. “These are humans, not gods.”

“I know,” Adam says. He almost pouts. “If we close it down at 3 a.m. and start up again at noon, everyone would have a chance to rest. We could make this an all weekend festival.”

Adam’s made up his mind and Tommy knows arguing is futile once that’s happened. And if the people are willing to do this all weekend, then who is he to put a damper on it.

Mr Pagonis approaches them. “I hate to interrupt, but it’s time for Adam to introduce the poetry stage.”

“Introduce the stage?” Tommy asks. What the hell does that mean?

Adam gives him a wink and walks through the crowd to one of the wooden stages. Tommy follows. The crowd has been at a dull roar all night but as soon as Adam steps onto the stage, they fall silent, attentive. Adam’s ability to draw immediate attention isn’t a spell or magic; it’s just an Adam thing.

“Good evening everyone,” Adam says. He speaks into a microphone but he doesn’t need one. Gods don’t need mechanical devices to be heard but for appearance sake, he uses it. “I’m your host and I hope that you’re having the best time. Are you having a blast?”

The crowd shouts their answer.

“Before we get into the poetry, I want to throw this idea at you,” Adam says. “If we continued this festival that you have made grander than expected to an all weekend event, would you like that? Would you stay?”

The crowd roars their approval.

Well who wouldn’t want free food and booze all weekend? Tommy thinks and smiles. 

“That’s settled, then,” Adam says. “Okay, so I love poetry, particularly ancient lyrics. I love the flow, the symbolism, the feeling behind every precise word. That’s why I wanted a poetry stage. There will be readings of ancient poetry, even the fragmented poems, from Aristophanes, Epimenides, Simonides, a host of ancient poets well-known and not so well-known. I wanted to start the first reading myself with a poem from Sappho and it is dedicated to my only love from the bottom of my infinite heart.”

Tommy nearly chokes on his drink. He wasn’t expecting this at all.

“He is equal to the gods, that man,” Adam says, pointing to Tommy. “Who sits across from you, face to face, close enough to sip your voice’s sweetness, and what excites my mind, your laughter, glittering. So, when I see you, for a moment, my voice goes, my tongue freezes. Fire, delicate fire, in the flesh. Blind, stunned, the sound of thunder in my ears. Shivering with sweat, cold tremors over the skin, I turn the color of dead grass and I’m an inch from dying.”

Adam blows him a kiss. The crowd is silent, staring between them, waiting. Tommy’s heart swells and if he were not immortal he’s sure it would burst. Someone claps hesitantly but that’s all it takes for the rest of the people to explode in applause and whistles. Adam jumps off the edge of the stage and jogs over to Tommy. His smile is bright and nervous.

“I know you don’t like attention much,” he says. “But I really wanted to read that for you.”

Tommy can’t speak around the lump in his throat, so he wraps his arms around Adam and replies with a kiss. The audience’s stamp of approval is so loud it’s deafening. Adam laughs and Tommy, laughing as well, hides his face in Adam’s chest. Adam leads them out of the thick of the crowd as the readings begin.

“I think we should duck out of here for a while,” Tommy says.

Adam looks at him slyly. “Really? And what would we do?”

Tommy grins, “Stuff.”

Adam laughs. “I think that’s a good idea.”

“Not Olympus, though,” Tommy says. “Can we go to the house?”

Tommy had agreed to live on Olympus and he did want to, but Olympus was devoid of privacy of any sort. And when there were all manner of gods and goddesses around, nothing was secret. It bothered Tommy sometimes and Adam had suggested they keep their home in Greece to have an escape.

“Don’t want to entertain Olympus with our activities?” Adam says and Tommy feels himself turning five shades of red. “I’m teasing. They don’t care, but yes, let’s go to the house.”

In a split second, they’re in their old bedroom. Adam pulls Tommy’s mouth to his as Tommy carelessly rips their clothing off. Tommy crawls back onto the bed and Adam moves over him. He nips at Tommy’s jawline, sucking on his bottom lip. He turns Tommy over and raises him to his knees. Tommy braces his hands against the headboard. Adam slowly licks up Tommy’s back from his ass to his neck. Tommy arches into it. Adam sucks on the back of Tommy’s neck, holding him firm around his hips. He bites down as pushes in and Tommy’s breath leaves him in a rush. Adam’s bite is continuous as he moves. In the grip Adam has on his neck with his teeth and his hands around his hips, Tommy’s paralyzed. He pushes his arms into the headboard, giving Adam more stability to move into him. The room is hot and Tommy’s vision waivers. He can’t stand the building pressure much longer. It’s all through him. Wherever Adam is touching him burns. He breathes harder and deeper and wails when he comes. Adam’s teeth dig deeper when he comes but Tommy doesn’t even wince. He curves as much as he can into it, feeling Adam collapsing against his back.

He feels Adam’s teeth pull out of his skin. When Adam lays down, Tommy fits himself under his arm. Adam kisses the top his head. He’s so relaxed he can’t even reply. He mentally opens the balcony door and the sound of the waves fills the room. He’s missed these waves. Olympus is impressive, but he misses this little spot on Earth that’s theirs. He snuggles a little more into Adam and allows himself to fall asleep.

When he wakes, the sun is high and bright. He yawns and looks at Adam. His face has no expression, not even one to indicate relaxation or dreaming. Tommy gets up and goes into the kitchen. He has to conjure up food since they don’t shop or keep perishables here, and fixes breakfast like a human. Sometimes he just wants to do human things. Nothing wrong with that. Once the food is ready he puts it on plates and sets the plates on a large tray. He balances it carefully and walks slowly back to the bedroom. Adam is awake now and sitting up.

“Good morning, beautiful,” Tommy says.

Adam stares at him blankly.

“Did you sleep okay?” he asks, knowing that sleeping isn’t Adam’s thing. Especially after Tommy’s incident with the Furies and getting caught in his dreams. He swore off sleep for good, but that didn’t last long. He likes sleeping.

Adam is still staring at him. The caution in his eyes makes Tommy pause.

“You okay?” Tommy asks.

Adam shakes his head slightly, looking confused. His eyes dart around the room, then settle back on Tommy.

Becoming alarmed, Tommy sets down the tray at the foot of the bed. He goes to Adam, who leans back slightly.

“What’s wrong?” Tommy asks.

“Who are you?” Adam asks.