Patroclus was always too long of a name, he thought. He never liked that his father thought it would be a good idea to name his one and only son something so dated. Usually he just shortened it, not just for his sake but for everyone’s. He’d grown accustomed to just responding to Pat, it made life simpler.
Except with Achilles.
Oh no, Achilles liked Pa-tro-clus. He thought it rolled off the tongue like honey and used it as often as he could. And it worked for him. He -and only he- had a way of making it actually sound like the honey he claimed it was. Maybe that’s why Patroclus let him get away with it; because when Achilles said it he actually liked that ridiculous name.
It could also be that Achilles could do anything and Patroclus would look at him like he hung the moon.
That too is a very realistic possibility.
But sometimes even the charm and intoxicating aura of Achilles could wear thin when it came to that stupid name.
So when Achilles offered to run into the Starbucks while Patroclus went to go get the FastPasses with the rest of their group while they were in Disney World, only to show up with a button that read ‘Happy Birthday: Patroclus!!’ Patroclus almost left the park.
He wore it in the end, though not of his own volition. It was more because all around him, every single one of his friends were chanting for him to wear the stupid thing, and at that point he honestly thought they were drawing more attention than if he just wore it. So he put it on, an action that was greeted by an uproar of applause by the five people standing around him.
“Oh come on, stop being such a grouch,” Briseis beamed at him, her bright red-and-white-polka-dotted bow proudly situated between where her hair had been tied into two buns on top of her head.
“Yeah, Pat,” Achilles matched Briseis’ facial expression, bumping his shoulder against Patroclus’, “stop being such a downer. It’s your big day, after all.”
Patroclus slid his hand down Achilles’ arm and leaned in to whisper into his ear, “Achilles, I swear to god, I don’t know how but I will find a way to push you into that lake in front of the castle.”
“I love it when you talk dirty me,” Achilles shot back immediately, a shit-eating grin painting his face.
Patroclus rolled his eyes, unable to deny the smile creeping on his own face, before giving Achilles’ arm one more squeeze and sliding down to slot their hands together.
“Are we that gross?” Odysseus asked from Patroclus’ left, his arm firmly around Penelope’s waist.
“I don’t know, babe,” Penelope turned her head to look at Odysseus, “do you think that anyone could ever be that gross?”
“You make an excellent point, my love,” Odysseus smiled as he lent in to peck her cheek.
“Jesus,” Diomedes said, throwing some candied almonds into his mouth, “for the record: yes, you two are that gross. Probably more so, if I’m being honest.”
Odysseus simply quirked an eyebrow at Diomedes and lent in to kiss Penelope’s forehead.
“Jesus,” Briseis muttered, “can we please never do that again, and get on with the day? Come on, I️ have things I️ want to do!”
“She’s right,” Patroclus agreed and turned to Odysseus, “so Mr. Battle Strategy Elective, what’s the game plan?”
The smile that crept onto his face would’ve made Pat scared had he not known Odysseus had been preparing for precisely this. He was a dork, yes, but he was a smart dork. On top of that, he was a jock, which meant that he was an unstoppable force. While Achilles was the captain of the track team, Odysseus guided the lacrosse team to a consistent victory. With his unusual plays, usually playing to more unique abilities of his team, the lacrosse team was a force to be reckoned with.
“I️ am delighted that you asked, young man. Now we’ve got a few hours until peak line time, during which we will be getting a quick lunch, followed by a snack a few hours later, and then a sit down dinner which I’ve already made the reservations for. I️ hope you all savored your Starbucks.”
There was a unanimous groan throughout the group at the prospect of not eating for another few hours. At that, Odysseus opened his drawstring backpack and chucked a mini protein bar at her, which she artfully caught with only minor fumbling. “Rule number one of Battle Strategy: ‘An army marches on its stomach.’” Odysseus adopted a somehow even more smug look on his face, which reminded Pat precisely why ‘never fuck with odysseus’ was a very huge but very silent rule of their school.
“He’s lying,” Achilles whispered to Patroclus, “the real first rule is no the enemy. He just wants to be a dramatic little shit.”
“Doesn’t he always?” Patroclus laughed, settling in to listen to Odysseus go off about wait times and ride popularity, as well as water fountain locations and how to ration their supplies.
“He’s really thought this one through, hasn’t he?” He commented to Achilles while Odysseus and Diomedes were debating the importance of impromptu character greetings.
“Yeah, it’s kind of all he’s done in Strategy all week. Yet somehow he’s still got a better grade than me.”
The two of them shared a private laugh, drawing the annoyed face of Odysseus to them. “I hope the two of you were listening because we do not have time to go over the whole thing again.”
“Babe,” Penelope placed a hand on his chest, right above where it read ‘her Mickey’ (Pat almost gagged when he first saw the matching shirts), and gave him one of her signature ‘I’m Penelope and if there’s one thing he loves more than being a smart-ass it’s me’ smiles, “it’s okay.”
Odysseus gave one more stink eye to Pat and Achilles before dropping it with a sigh and ducking down to peck Penelope’s nose.
“Alright!” Diomedes exclaims triumphantly, feeling the opportunity to get the party moving. “Let’s do this thing!”
They did not, in fact, do this thing. Not as efficiently as Odysseus would’ve liked, at least, that much is evidenced by the frown that’s been plaguing his face, a frown that not even Penelope had been able to cure after Briseis had dragged them to the third unplanned character greeting.
“Odysseus!” Briseis tested, happily flipping through the new pictures on her phone, “it was Peter Pan! Peter. Pan. He’s like, the one that you have to see!”
“That’s what you said about Gaston. And the Fairy Godmother.” Odysseus was seething, and it wouldn’t be untrue if Patroclus said that he was the tiniest bit amused. Glancing over at Achilles’ ducked head and teeth catching his tongue between them as he repressed a smile, Patroclus concluded that Achilles was enjoying this even more.
“Hey, happy birthday!” A random by-passer called over her shoulder, smiling kindly at Patroclus. Not outwardly, but he secretly let out an enraged scream. For every character that Briseis insisted they halt plans to see, eight more people wished him a happy birthday, and all of the unwanted attention was working its way up to make his head explode.
“I hate you for this,” he snapped his head to Achilles, who was outrightly guffawing, the only proper word to describe the hearty and ugly laugh coming from his boyfriend’s mouth. At that, Patroclus took his hand from Achilles, balled it into a fist, and half-heartedly punched him in the shoulder. “Stop! You’re being a dick about it!”
“Awe,” Diomedes piped up, having been previously looking over Briseis’ shoulders at the pictures and commenting on which ones were worth keeping, “how adorable. It’s almost like the two of you could actually find it in your hearts to disagree about something.”
“Hey!” Achilles looked positively affronted, as if saying that the two of them never fought was a bad thing. Patroclus didn’t think it was a bad thing.
“Oh, calm down,” Briseis rolled her eyes, shoving her phone into her back pockets and looping an arm through Patroclus’. “I think it’s sweet that you two don’t fight that often. But y’all aren’t creepy about it.” She raises a hand to point to Odysseus and Penelope, who are walking ahead of them and giggling about something private between the two, “ They’re creepy about it.”
“We don’t never argue,” Pat says, sliding his free hand back into Achilles’, “It’s just that if we don’t agree, it’s not the biggest thing in the world. Like, I’m not going to end our relationship over something stupid.”
“Right,” Achilles agree, “Like, last week Patroclus asked me to grab him a milkshake from Five Guys, and when I told him that those things will kill you-”
“They won’t,” Patroclus interjects.
“-right but like I still got it for him, you know? Like if we don’t agree on something, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be able to put that aside.”
Briseis and Diomedes just looked at each other before mumbling ‘okay’ and ‘sure’ and ‘whatever you say, man.’
Patroclus left the conversation with a distinctly metallic feeling in his mouth, which he didn’t appreciate, but instead of lingering, he just squeezed Achilles hand and let the conversation go.
Achilles couldn’t let the conversation go. It felt like such a stupid thing to get so hung up on, but he couldn’t stop tossing it over and over in his head. Through the whole day -though he was having fun- it just kept nagging him over and over in the back of his mind.
After the group had exited Splash Mountain -Odysseus helpfully having provided trash bags with arm and head holes cut out for the group to use and then dispose of from his magic backpack- Penelope announced, “Okay, guys! Ten minute bathroom break! Go now or wait until lunch!”
As the majority of the group headed to the restrooms, Achilles and Diomedes were left outside together. It was silent for a moment, both boys briefly checking their phones and leaning against ledges. However, Achilles found his curiosity getting the better of him and started talking before he could stop.
“What was that look about?”
Diomedes perked up, eyebrows shooting together as he clicked his phone off. “What?”
“Earlier,” Achilles clarified, “that look that you gave Briseis when Patroclus and I were talking about how we don’t argue that much. What was that about.”
Diomedes sighed, nodding his head a bit and standing up. “Look, Achilles, we didn’t really mean anything by it-”
“Cut the bullshit,” Achilles said, beginning to grow agitated.
“Dude, you're so whipped!” Diomedes exclaimed, causing a few parents to take their children by the hand and shuffle away. Diomedes flushed at his lack of composure, suavely pulling himself back together and running a hand through his hair. “Look, you and Pat are so nice together, and we’re all totally stoked that you guys are happy and everything, but are you telling me that you don’t think what I’m saying is even a little bit true?”
“I-” Achilles sputtered, “I don’t know what you mean. I mean, like, I’m- it’s not like that. I just want to do nice things for him because he’s my boyfriend.” He doesn’t mean to get so defensive. But he also won’t apologize. Fun little fact about Achilles, he’s been known to kind of be a dick sometimes. Not as much as, say, Hector or someone like that, but he holds a grudge like no one else.
Before either boy can get another word in -or, more likely, ruminate in the silence for a bit longer- the rest of the group rejoins them and they continue on. Achilles slots his hand silently into Patroclus’, brings his other to Pat’s cheek, and draws him in for a kiss. Nothing long, nothing gratuitous, just to ground him.
“Hey, are you okay?” Patroclus asks him, taking the hand on his cheek too.
“Yeah,” Achilles nods, letting out a huff and squeezing both hands, “you’re here now.”
There’s one moment where that was a sweet thing to say before Pat lets out a loud laugh, drops both hands to lightly smack Achilles’ chest, and call out, “Jesus Chri- shut up!”
It’s the day’s adventure, and the group is all pouring back into their hotel rooms. Patroclus had started taking tallies of how many people had wished him happy birthday around lunch, and he was approaching the hundreds. By the end of tomorrow, if he kept the button on and broke 300, Diomedes had promised to buy him any stuffed animal he wanted.
The six of them had decided to go with three rooms, Diomedes and Briseis not wanting to be stuck for a night with one of the couples, and said couples not wanting to split up. But they’d also all saved by getting a one-bed room each, though that meant that they were all on seperate floors. Achilles and Patroclus drew the short straw and got stuck with the room on the middle level, not high enough for a decent view but not low enough to be convenient.
As the two of them took turns in the shower, cleaning off the day and preparing for the next, they relaxed into their usual system. After countless -not exactly parent-approved- sleepovers, their routine had become more and more solidified. Achilles would shower first, taking longer because of all that hair, while Pat untucked the blankets and switched on the TV to something watchable.
After Achilles was done and dressed in pajamas -flannel pants, no shirt, and his hair tied up in a bun that drove Patroclus wild- he climbed into bed, pulled out War and Peace (reading for class, not out of his own free will.) (In all fairness, though, he probably would’ve picked it up eventually anyway.)
Once Patroclus was done and dressed -gray sweatpants and a large t-shirt from a really bad concert the two of them went to their Sophomore year- he too climbed into their temporary bed. Achilles slid his bookmark into the book when he felt the familiar dip in the bed, setting it down and twisting over to give Patroclus a kiss, to which Pat responded to by wrapping a hand around Achilles’ neck and deepening it. The give and take continued for a few more moments before Patroclus drew back and burrowing deeper into the mattress, his eyes trained on the television. Achilles placed the book on his nightstand, switching off the lamp and scooching down the bed to rest his head on Pat’s chest.
They stayed like that for a while, watching the old episodes of Star Trek playing and listening to each other breathe.
“Hey, Achilles?” Patroclus asked, snapping the tender silence but continuing to run his hands through the hair that wasn’t piled into a bun. Funny, Achilles couldn’t remember when Pat had started doing that in the first place.
“What’s up?” He asked, turning his head a bit to meet Patroclus’ eyes.
“Are you sure your okay? Earlier you seemed a bit upset and I just wanted to check in.”
Achilles was touched, even though this acute awareness of his moods was standard with Patroclus. He still felt a warm rush flood through him at the idea of someone caring like that. Still, the memory gave him a sour feeling to combat the sweetness.
“Kind of. You know how Briseis and Diomedes were being weird after that whole thing about us not arguing or whatever? I was just talking to Diomedes about it and he said something that twisted me the wrong way.”
“What’d he say, babe?” Patroclus squeezed Achilles’ shoulder, “If you want, I’ll totally beat him up for you.”
Achilles laughed at the idea. Usually, it was him making those kinds of promises, and for obvious reasons.
“I don’t know, it was just something stupid about how I’m whipped or whatever. Which, like, isn’t even true. It’s not like I let you walk all over me or something.”
“He was just being a prick. Don’t let it get to you. If anything, I’m totally the whipped one.”
Achilles smiled at that, and he let his eyes drift further and further together. “You’re the best boyfriend in the world, you know that right?”
“Yeah,” Pat said, giving Achilles a chaste kiss on his temple, “I know.”