You find the court of Lycomdes boring, cooped up with the women. They do nothing but weave all day, and they always berate you gently when you make some blunder that the princess Pyrrha should have stopped making in childhood. You can see the looks of confusion and pity in their eyes, and even though you want to, you cannot tell them that you are meant for something much greater than this. The monotonous, confined routine is more than enough to drive you insane.
You long to see Patroclus again. You do not know whether he is still with Chiron or if he is back in Pthia, and you do not really care. You would even stay here if he were here with you. You wouldn't mind going back to Chiron, either, where you ran wild, or your own home in Pthia, where you at least had some freedom, much more freedom than as Pyrrha.
When Deidamia comes to you, you do not refuse her. You are lonely and bored, and you don't see why you should say no. She is not particularly beautiful, but neither is she plain. When you fuck her, you imagine she's Patroclus, and that makes you hard every time, but you cannot maintain the illusion when she talks to you.
It is not enough.
The soldiers are restless, waiting for Iphigeneia to arrive. Some of the other kings can barely control their troops now, and riots have become commonplace. Fights, too, because there is no other way to let out all the pent-up frustration and aggression, not since the surrounding towns have been sacked.
Your troops know better, of course. You may be the youngest among the kings, but you know you are stronger than all of them. All the men know it, too, and they often skirt a berth around you when you're walking through camp, careful not to offend you even accidentally.
That just makes it easier for you to laze in your tent with Patroclus. He is still as handsome as ever, sun-blessed hair and skin and sport-honed warrior's body, and it's yours, all yours.
You want to fight and win glory for yourself, but you want Patroclus more, especially when he lies before you, golden and bare and that look in his eyes, that smile-smirk on his mouth.
You won't mind if Iphigeneia doesn't come for another month.
The Trojans have been expecting your fleet. They are ready for your attack, and it goes badly at first when Achaeans are being slaughtered even before they set foot on land. But they clearly did not expect such a big force because they run out of arrows before all the ships have arrived, and with you and your men at the front, they are forced back into their city.
Patroclus turns to you, blood on his cheek, and you want him very badly that instant. In your tent, you lick the blood from his cheek, and the gesture is both intimate and lustful. You think of licking blood off his body after a long day's battle, and you become unbelievably hard.
Only he can do this to you.
The Trojan winter is like winter back home, and the fighting continues underneath a less harsh sun. It snows one night, but you know that the war will go on the next morning, like nothing it has happened.
The dirty sandals of everyone leave black imprints upon bright white, and as you go through the day, the snow is dyed splashes of crimson as well. It is an interesting sight, and at the end of the day, you think of the few times it has snowed while you were with Chiron. It was impossible to teach you and Patroclus those days, and Chiron could only let the two of you run wild.
You have heard of lands in the north where it snows all winter long, and you think you would like to see that for yourself some day. You would like to watch the snow fall upon an already endless white, and you want to fuck Patroclus then, too, white on gold on gold on white.
You will not have Patroclus upon soiled snow.
You can already tell that this will be a long war. The Achaeans have made little progress against Troy, and the army is never at full power because there always has to be some men spared for provision hunting. The Trojans can just stay in their city and merely repel your side's attacks, but that is not the point. You want to conquer Troy, and they want to drive you out.
It is fine with you. The longer the war lasts, the more chances you have for everlasting glory before you die, as your mother told you you will. And the longer you can be with Patroclus.
The Trojan summer is dry and hot, and it is only tempered by the sea breeze. You sweat just by standing under the sun, and if you were a lesser man, you would have lost control of your weapons from the sweat coating every bit of your skin and perhaps even lost your mind from the unbearable heat you must endure in full armor.
But you are Achilles, and this is your specialty. And when the fighting is over, you have Patroclus, who removes your armor. His hands are not cool, but that does not matter. Having those hands upon your skin afterwards is worth fighting underneath the merciless sun every day.
There are fires everywhere. Soldiers are running around you, looting and killing and raping at will, and panicked citizens are trying to avoid them and run to safety, if that even exists. You revel in this chaos, this destruction, this plunder. Patroclus is beside you, mouth drawn into a thin line, and you know he does not approve of the men killing and raping innocents, but he knows the realities of war, and he knows this cannot be prevented.
You pin him against a wooden post, and you kiss him hard. He does not resist, and he does not protest when you reach beneath his skirt, either. It is fast and rough, and both of you are watching for danger during it, but you think it is beautiful the way the two of you can join so perfectly while a city is being destroyed around you.
The Trojan women gather on the walltop everyday and watch the fighting. At night, you hear soldiers talk about how they wouldn't mind fucking some of them, leers on their faces. Patroclus has remarked to you that even Andromache watches, but you know Helen does not, and you are not surprised.
You find their wails annoying at worst and oddly amusing at best, and you want to fuck Patroclus in front of them, on the battlefield, in the midst of this death and blood and merciless destruction. You want to do it anyway, want to defy the very nature of war.
If you ask Patroclus, you know he will not say no.
The blood of the dead seeps everywhere, and you notice that it has even spattered onto the newly green plants. Some days, it seems to drown them, and you know that plants cannot live on blood. You wonder if they can learn to, though, the same way many of the men have stopped reacting to the blood and gore and death.
You are a good botanist, but you are a better warrior. It does not matter what the plants do because the bloodshed will continue, and no one except you and Patroclus, really, will notice if they die. But then, no one else has spent three days straight searching for a plant to cure each other, not knowing it was a test. The two of you would have done it anyway, even if you had known.
Many gulls fly around now, mostly after the day's fight is over, pecking at the carcasses. The battlefield becomes complete gray and white, and the soldiers curse about having to shoo the gulls away. They swoop around camp, following the scent of blood and shrieking; there's always a few flying around you, and you find them annoying.
Patroclus laughs at you, and he whispers into your ear, the blood on you is mine. The way he says it sends shivers through you, and you don't want it any other way. The next day, you snap off the neck of a particularly annoying gull, and when you enter your lodge, hands bloody, Patroclus merely raises an eyebrow at you, then raises your hands to his face and licks them clean, looking at you the whole time. It is so erotic, what he does, and you know no one else can make you feel this way.
Some of the soldiers have taken up agriculture, and they have sectioned off a bit of land at the edge of camp, which they tend after the day's battle. Some of the others laugh at them, but you do not think it completely stupid, although you would not do something like that yourself. But then, you were not born a farmer.
You would rather sack cities, but the goal is still the same: to get provisions. Their way is steady and sure, but you prefer danger and the thrill of conquering. You prefer watching a city burn before your eyes while you and Patroclus fuck, two contrasting kinds of beauty linked together for a moment, one wilting and one blooming, both breathtaking in the very way they are. But you know you and Patroclus burn brighter than the city.
You move through every day like you were born for it. You probably were, being a goddess's son. Fighting is in your blood, and it is always a rush killing your opponents, a simple stab of your spear or maybe a deep slash of your dagger. You are naturally elegant at it, and you feel as if all of this is part of your very being. Maybe it is.
You do not care about the identities of those you kill. You only care about the way it feels as you move along the battlefield, an endless thrill and high and breathlessness as you dodge and stab and slash and block and kill. It arouses you, and you know that you have Patroclus at the end of the day. You are bonded to him through the blood the two of you share, but even if you weren't, you would have chosen him anyway because you know he would still feel like he's part of you.
You play the lyre, sometimes, at night. You know you are good at it, and it is relaxing, letting the simple and clear sounds wash over you, letting your fingers move themselves in a long memorized pattern.
You can still remember learning how to play from Chiron, and although the music did not feel as natural as fighting did, it still came to you easily. When you could play well, you played to Patroclus first, under the moon, and you told him it would always be for him.
It still is. When you play now, he always listens, draped across furs and hides, hooded eyes looking at you, and you know that when you finish, he will be hard and waiting for you, and the sex after is always some of the sweetest you have with him.
Patroclus is handsome in everything he does. You have watched him take off his armor outside, watched a bright and a fading sun caress his golden skin, watched his muscles stretch as he moves his arms, watched him in battle as he killed the Trojans charging at him, watched blood splatter on that beautiful skin, and you know you are the only one who has all of this. You would not have it any other way.
His body has not been foreign to you for a long time, but you still like to explore it as if it's the first time, back when those lines and edges and scars were still new to you. No matter how well you know him, everything about Patroclus is always like new to you, like you are discovering it again for the first time. That's just the way it is.
Patroclus grows a goatee these days, when he does not have time to shave. You tease him about it, but it reminds you that he is no longer a child at all and you are a man in all ways except that one. You do not dislike it, though, not even when it scratches you. It is a delicious sort of pain, and you always wave his sheepish apology away. The goatee is just different, nothing more, nothing less.
The two of you are no longer boys now, but nothing else has changed. Both of you are taller, leaner, and older, with more scars and experience and knowledge, but when he and you are alone, your bodies still fit together in the same way, and you know that will never change, nor will the way the two of you feel toward each other.
You know one of the main reasons, possibly the biggest, even, that your side still has not breached Troy's walls is due to the dispersion of the army. There are always soldiers away, sacking cities for more supplies, and you know Hector knows it, too, and wants to use it to his advantage.
But there's always you and Odysseus and Ajax and Diomedes and many other great warriors, and none of you need those men who are away to prevent a Trojan victory. You know everyone has his own motivation. Yours is right beside you, and you will never let anyone else have Patroclus.
Both sides have lost many men. Less women gather on the walltops, and less men come out to fight all of you. But as long as there are still men left, the war will continue, unless Helen is returned. None of the kings except maybe soft-hearted old Priam care about the deaths. The issue has always been one of pride.
You don't care, either. It is not your job to clean up the dead, and most of your men are still alive, and that is good enough for you. As long as Patroclus does not die, and you know he will not, the fate of others does not really concern you.
The nights this summer are particularly humid, and you can hear the buzzing of the mosquitoes through the walls. They descend after the sun sets, and everywhere, you hear the sharp smack of skin against skin.
They prey on you, too, faster than you can kill them, and when you stare at the red on your skin, you think, no one but Patroclus can have that. But you and Patroclus are both botanists, so the two of you leave camp one night to find the plants that ward off mosquitoes. The camp is in a disarray when the two of you return two nights later. The other kings send Odysseus to chide you; you just hand him a few of the plants you took back with you. No one says anything after that, but they do not know that the two of you took an extra day, and you would not give up that delicious day of sex for anything.
Patroclus gets wounded on the arm, something much more serious than one of those usual shallow scratches, and you are furious. How dare someone mar that beautiful, golden skin? Only you are allowed to do anything like that to him.
He says he can bandage himself, but you insist on doing it. It's not that he's not knowledgeable about medicine because both of you are, but you know he will just do a quick bandaging job and say everything is fine, and you do not want that.
You play the lyre for him that night, and you make him promise not to fight until his arm is completely healed. The next day, you are fiercer than ever. You will not have that man live. You will not let anyone who hurts Patroclus live.
The Trojan winters have always been rainy, but it is a terrible rain that refuses to stop this year. Even Helios has not appeared much, and no one is fighting. The kings grumble about the damn delay and how they're sitting here for nothing while the supplies keep dwindling, and you yearn for the curve of a spear in your hand, the blade of a sheathed dagger bumping against your thigh, the solid impact of a weapon against your shield.
Despite that, you cannot truly mind, not when you are dry in your lodge with Patroclus. While the rain pounds against the roof, the two of you fuck, languidly and gently and lingeringly, and it's like a million first times all over again.
The soldiers have grown restless, and you hear whispers of desertion at night, when they think no one is listening. You cannot really blame them. It's almost been six years, and Troy still stands safe and whole. The general morale has been fairly low for a while.
You know, though, that none of the other kings will let them go. You will not, either. This is a war, and you know your side will win. Your Myrmidons will do whatever you tell them, and you know the other kings will convince their men to stay somehow.
Even if they all leave, you will still stay. You don't need them to earn your glory. As long as you have Patroclus beside you, you know the two of you can conquer Troy by yourselves.
It's a custom in summer for the men to disarm by the sea and jump straight in at the end of the day, and you are no different. The cool water washes all the sweat and blood and dirt and grime you've accumulated during the day away along with the bloodlust that takes over you and the high it gives you.
Patroclus always joins you. His movements are simple and efficient, but you always feel like he's stripping for you. His body is always beautiful in the fading sunlight, faint gold on dark bronze-gold, and you can never resist running your hands over his skin in the water. But you don't do anything more, not among this crowd of strange men.
One day, though, you want to fuck him here, fuck him until all you can feel is him and the sea water around you.
Your men surprise you on your birthday with a celebration of sorts. They've built a roaring fire in front of your lodge, and there is singing and dancing and many slave girls. The Myrmidons tease you about finally being a man in every sense of the word since you've finally grown a full goatee that year when you don't shave, and you laugh with them, drunk and happy and glowing in the heat of the fire, Patroclus at your side.
The sex that night is honey sweet, a generous tangle of limbs and hearts, and Patroclus says I love you against your ear when he comes, but you know. You've always known. It's still a good birthday gift.
It is not the first time Menelaus has been asked what he will do with Helen when they win the war, and it will not be the last, either. His answer always varies, but the most often one is that he does not know, that he will do whatever's appropriate at that time.
You know that most of the other kings have their own ideas about what they would do to her. You are no exception. You waver between raping her, killing her, doing both, and giving her to Patroclus, but the first three options always sound the best. You have no sympathy for her, even though Aphrodite bewitched her, but if Patroclus asks for her, and he may because he already has once, you would give her to him. You would do so against your better judgment because it's what he wants.
The night is quieter than usual. For once, you can play the lyre outside and hear its clear notes, too, so you step out of your lodge, and Patroclus follows you. You sit on the bench outside and play, your eyes closed and fingers moving over the strings automatically, and you feel Patroclus lean against you, head on your shoulder, finger playing with the curls in your hair. It is intimate, like it's just the two of you and no one else, and you think you have never been like this with him before, have never had a chance to be like this with him before. And you know that this is what you want to be able to give him, this small semblance of normalcy, but because of who you are, this is exactly the one thing you will never be able to give him.
You can only give him everything else, but you know he understands. He says it every time he touches you, feather light and lovingly careful, like you are someone precious, but you know that you are the one who's truly lucky, to have someone like him.
You can see the longing in Odysseus's eyes, the very desire in the tense lines of his body. It's been almost seven years, and you cannot blame him for missing his wife. You see the same signs in many of the men as well, and you know they miss their families, too.
You do not want to think about what you would be like if Patroclus were not here with you. You experienced that once already, and you do not want to again. Whatever Penelope is to Odysseus, Patroclus is to you at least a hundredfold, and you don't want to know what you would be without Patroclus to anchor you, how very different you would be now if Patroclus had not been there with you since almost the beginning.
He offers you whatever you want for your birthday. His tone is light when he says that he has nothing left to give you that is not already yours, but his eyes are serious. And you think, I don't want anything else when I have you.
You let him take you that night, and when he says, but it's your birthday, you tell him, taking is a form of giving, too, and you know he understands. Everything you have is his and everything he has is yours, but in the end, he is still giving to you tonight. He is giving you everything you want.
The funeral fires burn bright every night, little dots of light in a vast darkness, and you think this is the way war is. There is only death and more death, and that does not change, even at the end. War does not create life because Ares does not know how.
There are many mounds at the edge of camp now, and although you are sure you will die before the war ends, you do not think you will be buried there. You don't mind death as long as you will have Patroclus until then, as long as he will preside over your funeral and take your urn back to Pthia, as long as your ashes can mingle with his the way your bodies join now.
It is Patroclus's birthday, and you have nothing to give him, either, except for yourself. And some treasures you've looted off of today's dead opponents, but it's nothing special, and you already have plenty of it from the past seven years.
But you deck yourself in jewels and wear your armor, and it is exquisite watching him undress you, one article at a time, without any hurry, hands resting on every bit of newly bared skin, his very touch driving you wild. You know it is the same for him. It is a slow burn and breakdown that night as he fucks you, and you know this is what he wants it to always be like. You want it, too.
The talks of desertion have grown more frequent; you are not surprised when Agamemnon summons everyone and reminds them of the oath. You are one of the few kings not bound by it, but Patroclus is, and you would not leave him. Everyone knows this. It is the one bit of power Agamemnon has over you.
Patroclus says thank you as he leaves for battle, and he does not look at you. But it did not need to be said, and both of you know that. You play the lyre for him that night, and when he fucks you, you bite into his shoulder and say you are so stupid, I know, it'll always be this way. For him, you will make it.
The Trojans receive reinforcements again. You think with the way this is going, both sides continuously receiving more troops every once in a while, the war will drag on for another eight years at the very least. But it is okay for you. They are just more men for you to kill and loot, just more people who may give you glory.
When you kill a young boy who looks the way Patroclus did years ago, you think, but you are not Patroclus, and you do not have an Achilles who would do anything to keep you alive. You have Patroclus wear the two wristlets you took from him that night when he fucks you, and you think, this is the sort of love that appears only once or twice in all history.
Your prize is a woman whose name is foreign to your tongue and thus, forgotten easily, but she is quite good-looking, long brown hair and long black eyelashes and smooth bronze skin, and you think she will work.
You give her to Patroclus, and you watch when he fucks her. They make a beautifully erotic sight, bronze on gold on bronze, her legs wrapped around his waist as he thrusts into her, and you can only stroke yourself, watching the muscles in his back shift underneath his firelight-touched skin, watching him kiss her roughly and leave blood on her lips. You think this is how the two of you must look when he fucks you, but you know the two of you are much more beautiful than this, gold on gold and so full of want and need and love in the movements of your bodies. It's because the two of you fit perfectly together, like you were never meant to be apart.
Despite the reinforcements that still arrive at intervals, the battles are no longer so loud and chaotic. The amount of people fighting is much less than what it was when the war began, and the war has all but become just another daily routine, a methodical task ingrained into everyone's lives.
Because of this, Agamemnon tells everyone that the war is almost over, and you know that everyone desperately wants to believe it. But you know the war will not end as soon as Agamemnon says. You still haven't acquired everlasting glory.
It works, though, because the soldiers are less discontent at night, and sometimes, even you pretend that soon, you will go home with Patroclus. It is an exhilarating feeling, and you know that this is the only thing you will ever regret.
You can tell the days are long for everyone, and they wear on everyone's minds. Many have become sluggish because of this, weary from the constant fighting that has gone on for almost eight years, and those men are easily slain.
It is the same to you because fighting is part of your blood, and you know that others have successfully fought it, Odysseus and Ajax and Agamemnon and Menelaus and Diomedes and, of course, Patroclus. It is a rush on the battlefield, slaying and sparring and watching them fight beside you, especially Patroclus, and at night, when you and Patroclus stick together because of the humidity, you think that if fighting wasn't in your blood, this would be worth it.
Everyone can tell that the end is near. It is a general feeling in the air, and because of it, everyone fights harder, trying to sooner reach the day when they can once again live peacefully with their families.
Patroclus asks you, one night, what you want to do after the war. Both of you know that you are fated to die before the war ends, but for one moment, the two of you pretend you do not know. You think you can sell all the plunder you've gotten if you want, and you'll probably end up ruling Pthia after your father dies, but you don't really care what happens as long as you are with him, and you tell him that.
Patroclus smiles a little, and it's tinged with sadness, and he says, that's what I want, too.
Andromache has not been on the walltop lately, and at night, the men sneer at how Hector has time to knock his wife up despite the war in front of his door. You have noticed a change in Hector as well, although it is not very obvious. He is both more and less fierce at the same time: he is more efficient and methodical at killing his enemies, but his attention is also less concentrated on the task at hand, like something big's happening elsewhere.
It reminds you of your own son, whom you have never seen and do not know or really care very much to know, either, born to you of a woman whom you bedded because you had nothing better to do. You know Patroclus would scold you for thinking this, would make you go see your son, but then, he does not know the way you have only wanted him for most of you life, the way you have only seen him for not much shorter. And that's okay, because your love for each other has already taken over both of you.
The men give you Briseis as your prize. She is pretty, and you can tell that she has never had to labor before, but you know she will serve you easily enough. You taunt her about what you'll do to her as you walk back to your lodge, grip tight around her arm, and you find amusement in the redness in her cheeks and the furious way she stares at you.
Patroclus is waiting for you. You release her and tell her to clean herself, and she leaves after glaring at you. Patroclus laughs when she is gone and asks you what you've done to her, and you laugh, too, tell him that you've just overexaggerated what you wanted from her. He shakes his head, a smile on his lips, and then, you're kissing him, and when you pull back, you say, it's always been you, and he says I know into your lips.
Briseis is staring at the two of you when you stop. You just kiss Patroclus again.
Patroclus is unhappy with you. You do not like it, but you cannot do this for him. You would do anything else, but not this. You will not leave, though you want to, a little, because you still want your glory. And because he cannot leave, and you will not leave him. But that is not enough for him.
You fuck Briseis more often these days, but you still go to Patroclus every night. He ignores you sometimes, and that is when you leave and seek Briseis. But despite all of this, he usually doesn't, and although his mouth is angry and his hands are hard and it's mostly give, you welcome it. It has been ten years since the war started, and both of you are much older, but he is still so golden and handsome above you, and you think you can take it as long as he still wants you. Because he wouldn't fuck you if he didn't still love you.
He chides you for not burying his body, but you cannot help it. You cannot bear to let him go, to watch the flames engulf and consume him, to never touch that lovely face and beautiful skin again. But you still cannot refuse him, so you tell him yes.
Even as a ghost, you want him and love him, and you ask him to come closer so you can hold him one moment more. But he disappears before you can reach him, and you are left alone again. You have gotten your everlasting glory at a terrible price, and you do not care about dying here any longer. You will not let it claim you easily, but you will not fight it, either, not when Patroclus is waiting for you on the other side.
The Amazon Queen is a good opponent, but you defeat her in the end the same way you have defeated everyone else. Even in death, she looks beautiful, and it reminds you of Patroclus lying before you, hint of blood still on his golden skin reminding you of how he must have died. You can still imagine it clearly: a few spears thrust into that beautiful body, precious blood staining his skin, and the dust and sand starting to stick as everyone fought over him.
You fuck her when she is dead. It is what you wanted to do to Patroclus when he lay stiff and unseeing before you, blood and dust carefully washed from his beautiful body, and you could have pretended that he was merely sleeping if you ignored the wound in his side. But you did not do that to him. You wanted to, but you did not. You would not have, would never have, because Patroclus is everything.