Achilles might be the son of a goddess, but he sweats just like any other man in the heat of battle; the full, heavy splendor of his armor is slick with sweat (on the inside) and blood (on the outside) when he returns to his tent after the day's fighting. They've kept the Trojans on the run, so it's all in all a successful day's work, but he's soaked with perspiration, flecked with blood and dirt and grime, and has sand stuck in every nook and cranny, chafing against his skin.
Patroclus eyes him warily as he removes his helmet and shakes his lank, wet hair out like a dog, but he begins the process of stripping Achilles out of his armor without saying anything.
Achilles sighs with relief when Patroclus gets all the straps undone and lifts the breastplate away from his skin. Red rashes bloom like poppies along his ribs and shoulders, and Patroclus brushes gingerly at the prickled skin, his brow furrowed.
Achilles sucks in a surprised breath, never having outgrown the ticklishness of his childhood. "Sand," he says, wrinkling his nose, when Patroclus eyes him in surprise, "in very uncomfortable places."
Patroclus laughs. "The great Achilles, best of the Achaeans, undone by sand in his armor." He touches Achilles again, less clinical this time, the pads of his fingers finding those secret ticklish spots with the ease of long knowledge.
"Hush, you," Achilles says, leaning in to give him a quick kiss. Patroclus laughs against his mouth, and Achilles drinks it in, feeling the tension in his shoulders ease, the hard work of the day's battle draining away in these moments when he and Patroclus are together the way they always have been. The way they always will be.
The evening breeze is cool against his skin, easing the sting of the irritation, and he catches Patroclus' wrists, holding him place while he licks at the seam of his lips, which open easily to him, the way the gates of Troy will one day soon. The kiss is heated and eager, and Patroclus' hands settle naturally on Achilles' hips, leaving his own hands free to roam Patroclus' lean body, his skin smooth and untroubled by sweat and sand. Even after all their years together, Achilles can't get enough of him.
"Mmm," Patroclus says, easing back. "Are you ready for your bath?" His eyes narrow then and Achilles follows his gaze to the grime-encrusted cut on his upper arm. "What happened?"
"An arrow from Pandarus' bow." Achilles shakes his head, warding off the scold he can see Patroclus winding up to. "It's a graze. Nothing to be concerned about." He waves a hand. "It wasn't even meant for me."
"Let me at least clean it out." He doesn't wait for permission, wets a clean cloth with some water from an ewer and starts dabbing carefully at the wound. "Are you sure there was no poison on the tip?"
Achilles snorts. "I think it would have taken care of me already had that been the case."
Patroclus hums in agreement, gentle hands washing away the dirt and blood from the cut. It's a scratch, already healing, but sometimes Achilles likes it when Patroclus fusses over him, so he doesn't pull away or complain, even when he puts healing ointment on it that smells strongly of herbs and oil.
"It stings," he says mildly, making a moue of distaste.
"As Chiron used to say, that's how you know it's working," Patroclus answers.
"I don't know why you bothered. It will just wash off in the bath."
"Then I'll put on some more." His mouth curves up in a small, pleased smile; it's possible he enjoys fussing over Achilles as much as Achilles enjoys being fussed over.
"Come on," Achilles says, overheated and suddenly impatient. "Let's go."
"Don't you want your bath first?"
Achilles sucks his teeth and shakes his head. "I want a swim first. Come on," he repeats. He towels off the worst of the grime, pulls his chiton on, and drags Patroclus along to the sea. He tears the chiton off again and runs headlong into the waves, the water cold and fresh against his hot, itchy skin.
He ducks under, holding his breath, letting the blood and gore sluice away, their stickiness losing purchase on his skin, and then pops up, looking for Patroclus, who is wading out after him, wary as always of Thetis' disdain for him, as if she would hurt him now, when Achilles is within arm's reach.
Achilles dives again, pulling Patroclus under with him this time. When they surface, Achilles stops his sputtering with another kiss, tasting salt and seawater and heat, and the sweetness of air in lungs that have been denied it for a time.
They swim and splash for a bit, and by the time they return to the tent, they're both covered in sand again. They scrub each other down, brisk and businesslike, and then rinse off with the tepid water in Achilles' bath, the scent of peppermint cool and clean after the sweat and heat of the day.
The red blotches on his skin have already faded, and Achilles distracts Patroclus from the cut on his arm by wrapping a hand around his half-hard cock. Patroclus makes a purring sound low in his throat. Achilles smiles against the damp skin of his throat, uses his teeth along the stubbled edge of Patroclus' jaw, enjoying the way his hips jerk and his cock goes hard at the touch.
"We just got cleaned up," Patroclus points out, but his hands are already sliding down Achilles' body, making him shiver with light, knowing touches, and in anticipation of the pleasure to come.
Achilles pushes him down onto the bed and straddles him before twisting away to grab the oil. He reaches back and slicks himself, fingers sliding in easily as he relaxes, and Patroclus holds him steady, broad hands firm on his hips. He pours more oil into his palm, slicks Patroclus' cock, and then sinks down onto it, moaning low at how good it feels inside him.
Patroclus shoves up hard, one hand coming up to tangle in Achilles wet hair and pull him down into a slow, messy kiss, while Achilles rolls his hips, savoring the sensation of being filled and stretched before he shifts a little, allowing Patroclus to hit the spot that sends lightning down his spine, as if he's been struck by one of Zeus' thunderbolts. He moans into the kiss and Patroclus bites his lower lip, then sucks on it until it feels heavy and swollen. The tingle in his lips spreads, bursting under his skin like wildfire as he increases his pace, relentless in pleasure as he is everywhere else.
Patroclus wraps a hand around Achilles' aching cock and strokes, trying to wring every last bit of pleasure out of him with hands and tongue and cock. He pulls away long enough to say, "Achilles," in a voice broken with desire and love.
Achilles answers with a fierce kiss, and a demand. "Come inside me," he says, knowing Patroclus will.
With a stuttering motion of his hips, Patroclus comes, deep inside Achilles. Achilles savors the moment, his own climax hovering just on the horizon, one more thrust and he's gone, vision edging white behind his eyelids. He wraps his arms around Patroclus and kisses him, lazy now, the driving impatience gone. Patroclus kisses him back, languid and heavy-lidded, their kisses more like heavy sighs into each other's mouths.
It's too hot to remain entangled for long, though. Achilles lifts himself up and off of Patroclus with a low, regretful noise, and Patroclus smiles sweetly up at him.
"We're all sticky again," he says.
Achilles laughs and pulls him up so they can return to the now cool water of the bath. "Yes, but at least there's no sand this time."
Patroclus rolls his eyes, but doesn't disagree. Instead, he shoves a washcloth at Achilles and lets Achilles fuss over him for once.