Zagreus was out of breath and sweating by the time this area was cleared of shades and wretches and what else had been lurking here. Just a few minutes ago Thanatos had appeared to offer his… help. That’s what Zagreus realised this was. Despite Thanatos’ words, he was helping Zagreus escape, and this wasn’t the first time.
Here in Asphodel, the heat was almost unbearable, but Zagreus stood straight and wiped the sweat off his brow. Thanatos, unlike him, looked completely calm and composed as if they hadn’t just murdered a bunch of shades. Or murdered again. Murdered temporarily? They always came back, Zagreus convinced himself that he wasn’t actually wiping them from existence.
In any case, Zagreus had been confused for a while why Thanatos had showed up again like this. The first time he had been overjoyed, as he always had been seeing his friend, but Thanatos’ demeanour had soon gotten rid of that. He was angry that Zagreus was trying to leave.
“Hm, not bad,” Thanatos’ voice made Zagreus realise he had been staring at him, especially that exposed part of him that wasn’t covered by his tunic. He chalked the red in his cheek up to the heat in Asphodel, certainly not to Thanatos. “You even got more than me this time.”
“You mean like every time,” Zagreus teased with a smile. He had been doing rather well against Than, to his surprise. But Thanatos wasn’t happy about his comment.
“I’ve been going easy on you,” he said.
Zagreus wasn’t entirely joking here. He knew that Thanatos’ power was far beyond what he showed off here. He also knew that he did this so he wouldn’t be caught by his father. The first time Zagreus had had that thought, was the first time he realised that Thanatos wasn’t just mad at him. He missed Zagreus, and he wanted him to stay, for selfish reasons. Selfish reasons that made Zagreus’ heart beat faster.
Could what Nyx have said been right? That there was more to Thanatos’ feelings? Zagreus had no experience when it came to romance, and going from best friend to something more seemed scary. What if his reasoning was wrong, and Thanatos was just concerned for him? What if he tried something and they couldn’t go back to being friends?
Though, if he was honest, was that even possible now?
Thanatos was floating closer to him, Zagreus suddenly realised. He really needed to stop drifting off like this, Thanatos might think him even weirder than he was already acting. Wanting to escape the house of Hades was unheard of in this world, most of the people back home thought him crazy already. What he wouldn’t give to be inside Thanatos’ head right now.
“Since you won, this could help,” Thanatos held out his hand, palm up, and a little orb of glowing light was floating in it. Pure energy. Zagreus had found this before. It bolstered him and let him go longer without any pauses. It was valuable indeed, and would help get out of Asphodel as soon as possible. He couldn’t stand the heat.
“Than, are you sure?,” Zagreus asked. “This-”
“Just take it,” he interrupted, then all but smashed it into Zagreus’ chest. Immediately the energy coursed through his body, healing wounds and energising muscles.
Zagreus’ eyes glowed.
“Don’t thank me. You won, that’s it.”
“Is that really it?,” Zagreus took Thanatos’ hand, that was still on his chest. Somehow the extra energy made him move and talk without his brain really thinking. “You keep coming to help me, giving me these things. You said… you were starting to understand. Do you even know-?”
Zagreus broke off suddenly, he was getting into territory that terrified him. If he kept going like this, he would be confessing to Thanatos what he had been thinking for years, or at least for a very long time. That his heart was full when he looked at him, that it was threatening to beat out of his chest. The times that Thanatos was in the House of Hades, were the most precious ones in Zagreus’ memory.
He had fallen in love with his best friend.
“What are you talking about?,” Thanatos asked, and Zagreus leaned closer. Was he detecting a slight blush in his cheeks? Was it the heat, or something else? “I told you why I’m giving this to you. I- I-”
Thanatos was stammering. Thanatos. Zagreus had never seen him stutter in his entire life, and Thanatos was so much older than even he was. Maybe he just had to go for it. Maybe he just had to take a chance.
“Than, I… I want you to know that I-,” as Zagreus was about to step closer to Thanatos, to whisper to him what he had been feeling for so long, he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his chest.
His instinct was to look down, as did Thanatos, and they both saw the blade that stuck through his chest.
“Oh not now,” Zagreus groaned. Despite the energy in his body, he could feel the life escaping his body. “Than, I-”
But it was too late, the pool of blood opened below him, and he watched Thanatos grow further and further away from him. Foolishly, he reached out.
“Zag, I’m going to-”
Zagreus didn’t hear the rest of it as he was engulfed in the river of blood that brought him back to the House of Hades. He ignored all the souls that were travelling with him, and tried not to think of Thanatos’ beautiful face that he could have kissed if he had made sure that the area was clear. Really clear. As it evidently wasn’t clear at all. Damn it, Zagreus.
He let himself float in that pool in the House for a while, not wanting to get up just yet. What did Thanatos want to say to him, he wondered? Had Zagreus been too obvious in what he had wanted to say? He was quietly panicking in that pool for a while before he dragged himself out of it, walking the same walk of shame that he always did. This time his father was watching over it, but he refused to look into his eyes. He didn’t need this now.
Instead he took a left to walk towards one of the few people that actually cared about him here. Achilles was waiting for him, as he always was. And this time, Zagreus just walked up to him, and hugged him.
“A bad one, hm?,” Achilles asked, a slight smile in his voice.
“Kind of. I did something kind of stupid, Achilles.”
“Oh?” Achilles’ hand was still on the back of Zagreus’ neck when he pulled back. It was reassuring. “You can tell me, if you’d like.”
“I… Almost confessed my feelings to Thanatos,” Zagreus said with a blush in his cheeks. “Only I was killed before I could. Shade I hadn’t noticed before. Must have sneaked up on me.”
“Oh dear, you didn’t finish?” Achilles looked concerned, and if it were anyone but him Zagreus would think he was being made fun of. But with him, he felt safe, and taken seriously.
“No. I don’t know if he knew where I was going, or if he even feels the same. I feel so stupid now, Achilles. I don’t know if I can gather up the courage to tell him properly.”
“I think you should,” Achilles said with a gentle smile. “After all, you won’t know how he feels if you don’t give him the chance to hear it. And…”
Zagreus looked up at him. There was something of a mischievous smile playing on his lips. What was he up to?
“And?,” Zagreus asked.
“I think you should go to your room.”
“What?” That. Zagreus hadn’t expected.
“Trust me. Go to your room.”
Zagreus blinked at him for a few times, then shook his head a little.
“Okay, if you say so.” He did trust Achilles, but this was weird.
Nevertheless he said goodbye to him for now, and made his way towards his room. At least there he would be able to freshen up after the heated battles in Asphodel. He was filthy, really. The river of blood did nothing to clean him after all.
The large door to his room groaned when he pulled it open, and he quickly turned to close it again. He didn’t like to be watched here. It was probably untrue, but he liked to think that even his father wouldn’t dare to look into this room. Maybe he had some shred of privacy left.
Zagreus sighed and turned to walk towards the basin in the room when it finally hit him. He was not alone. Frozen in place, he looked at Thanatos sitting on his bed, scythe leaning against the wall. It had been a long time since he had seen him this casual. His face flushed in an instant, and he quickly rushed towards the basin anyway to splash his face and try to get a moment to think.
Why was he here?
“Hello again,” Thanatos’ voice was a little… softer? Than before? Zagreus had no other way to describe it.
“Hello,” he replied. Water was dripping down his face now. He didn’t know where he had a towel, so he wiped it off with his hand. It didn’t help much.
“That was… unfortunate,” Thanatos said. There was a moment of silence where Zagreus nodded. And another. Then: “You wanted to say something to me.”
Yes. He was. Achilles he- He had known Thanatos was going to be here, and he hadn’t properly warned him. On the inside Zagreus was dying all over again.
Silence between them again, as they both shifted awkwardly. But Zagreus took a deep breath, and remembered Achilles’ words. He had encouraged him, so maybe he knew something about Thanatos that he didn’t.
They stopped and looked at each other. Slowly they grinned, and Zagreus dared to take a few steps closer to him. Like this, alone, it almost seemed like things were back to normal. Like they were just hanging out and being friends again. Nothing about Thanatos’ face betrayed how old he really was. Then again, did that really matter? They were all gods in one way or another.
“I was just thinking, since you came back,” Zagreus started, taking a deep breath. “I was thinking about this for a long time actually. I didn’t think I would tell you this when you are this cross with me.”
“What is it, Zagreus, come on,” Than looked somewhat annoyed, but concerned, too. He actually reached out to take one of Zagreus’ hands.
“I fell in love with you,” Zagreus blurted out. He needed it to be over with. “A long time ago. I- I-”
He couldn’t find any more words to follow up to that, and he didn’t have to. In a very fluid motion, Thanatos stood, wrapped his arm around Zagreus’ waist to pull him close, and kissed him. Zagreus was completely overwhelmed for a moment, feeling another pair of lips on his own - he had never done this before!
“Zag?,” Thanatos asked softly against his lips. “Alright?”
“I’ve never kissed anyone,” he said quietly. “I don’t know how.”
Thanatos’ face was gentle then, his smile reassuring. He caressed his cheek, then cupped it to keep him close.
“Just feel. You’ll know.”
And just like that, he was kissing him again. This time Zagreus closed his eyes and did as he was told. Feel his lips, his movement, imitate it. Just like that, they were kissing, and Zagreus didn’t even noticed that he was manoeuvred to his bed, lying on top of it. He was lost in Thanatos’ lips, how soft they were - somehow he hadn’t expected that. And he was warm, too, unlike any death he had ever experienced.
Thanatos’ weight on top of him made him feel hot. A different kind of hot than the fields of Asphodel. A kind of hot that made him want to take his clothes off. And then Thanatos did just that, and in turn Zagreus scrambled to take off Thanatos’ clothes as well. Before he knew it they were naked, both hard, and pressing against one another.
Their kisses had turned a lot deeper, he felt Thanatos’ tongue against his and it turned him on. He didn’t really know what to do after all this, but he wanted to do it. All of it. He felt himself grabbing Thanatos close, wanting to be closer, and closer. Suddenly they shifted, and with a yelp, both of them fell off the bed and onto the floor. But they grinned at each other, chuckled before they started kissing again.
“Let me help you along,” Thanatos mumbled against his lips. He reached between Zagreus’ legs, and his hand and fingers were warm when they pressed between his cheeks.
He felt something change down there, when his fingers pressed against, then pushed into his hole. It was easy for Thanatos’ fingers, as he was slick all of a sudden. He had never felt anything like it before, but it seemed natural, seemed to make him even more sensitive, and before he knew it, he was moaning into the still air of the room.
“Than please I-”
“Please what?,” Thanatos asked him, his voice low, lips just by his neck where he had been kissing him.
“I- I- I want you to fuck me,” Zagreus blurted out.
“Damn, Zag,” Thanatos groaned into his ear, and pulled him closer. “I can definitely do that. Allow me…”
“Yes, anything,” Zagreus told him, and followed suit when Thanatos positioned him on all fours, felt his hand caress his back.
Zagreus realised then, that he could look up and see themselves in the mirror opposite them. Behind him, Thanatos was shifting, and he felt the tip of his cock against his entrance. But he didn’t push in yet, instead his cock was sliding between his cheeks as he leaned forward, and looked at Zagreus in the mirror.
“You look good on your knees.” Thanatos’ deep voice did something to him. It resonated deep inside him, made him shudder and his cock twitch.
“O-only for you,” Zagreus gasped. His eyes met Thanatos’ in the mirror. “For you I’ll gladly be on my knees.”
The look in Thanatos’ eyes changed for a moment. Where there had been heat and lust, his gaze now softened as he looked at Zagreus. He turned his head, and Zagreus did the same, so they could share a kiss. Thanatos pulled back then, kissed his shoulder, and found his way to his spine. Zagreus shuddered as this trail of kisses went lower and lower.
He watched the mirror image of Thanatos turn away for a moment, grab something off the bed, and then handed the pillow to him.
“You’re not going soft on me, are you?,” Zagreus asked as he took it, and made himself comfortable on it.
“I am not cruel, Zag,” he said, one hand on his ass, the other on his back. “Not to you.”
He wanted to protest for a moment, to point out that asking him to stay was cruel. But he realised now that it was more than just keeping the peace in the House of Hades. Once Zagreus left, he would be unable to come back, not unless he died. And where would that leave them?
Zagreus pushed his face into the pillow and sighed. He didn’t want to think about this now, he wanted to feel Thanatos, around and inside him.
“Come on, Than,” he said quietly, then looked up again. He had blinked his tears away and smiled. “Want to take my virginity?”
“Fuck,” Thanatos cursed quietly behind him, and Zagreus felt very pleased with himself.
But his grin faded when he felt a pressure against his entrance. Not just teasing this time, but pushing into him too, and Zagreus closed his eyes in bliss.
“Oh- Than you’re- you’re big,” he gasped, fingers curling in the pillow under him.
“You know just what to say,” Thanatos chuckled quietly, but then stopped pushing into him for a moment. “You good, Zag?”
“Yes, yes!,” he blurted out, wanting to push back on his cock but unsure if he should. This was all new to him. “Keep going! Please.”
“I like it when you beg,” Thanatos said, as he continued pushing into him.
The stretch felt incredible. Whatever Thanatos had done to make him slick let him slide in so easily, though Zagreus still felt tight. When he felt him push in all the way, gripping his hips and holding him there, a shudder ran down Zagreus’ spine. He felt full and perfect and he had never felt anything this good-
Until Thanatos started to move.
Now this was unlike any pleasure he had felt before. Something inside him made him shudder and moan whenever Thanatos’ cock brushed against it, which he did, with every damn thrust. He didn’t even realise how loudly he was moaning until Thanatos leaned over him again, his thrusts slowing.
“You sound incredible,” he told him. “Don’t hold back.”
It was all the encouragement Zagreus needed. It only later occurred to him that someone would most likely hear and know exactly what they were doing, but at the time all he could do was feel. Every thrust made the heat inside him spread further through his body, made his toes curl and his fingers cling desperately to the pillow he had been given. Blearily, he looked up at the mirror to see Thanatos’ beautiful face. He was gripping Zagreus’ hips tightly, thrusting into him hard and fast. His hair had fallen into his face, and a drop of sweat rolled down his brow.
He had never been more beautiful to Zagreus’ eyes.
“Th-Than…,” he whispered, but Thanatos looked up again and met his eyes in the mirror. He didn’t even know what he wanted to say, and he could see himself that he looked debauched, and out of it. His hair was somehow a mess, his lids low. And he smiled.
His smile turned into a pout when Thanatos pulled out of him, but then he was made to turn around and lie on his back, and he didn’t mind that at all, no sir. Thanatos gently helped spread his legs wider, so he could settle between them, and as he pushed into him again, Thanatos swallowed his moan with a kiss. Oh he liked this, liked having him closer, being able to touch him, caress his skin and the muscles working under it, or play with his hair while he kissed him.
“You’re so lovely,” Thanatos whispered against his lips, and Zagreus had to smile.
“You’ve never told me that before.”
“You never told me you loved me before,” Thanatos replied, and both of them stilled for a moment.
“I do love you. So much,” Zagreus gasped when Thanatos hit that spot inside him again, teasing him with a smile.
“As do I, Zagreus.”
“Can you say it?,” something inside him needed to hear the words. Needed to hear Thanatos say them.
But first, he got another kiss. A deep kiss that consumed him, that took his breath away and left him wanting more when Thanatos pulled back. Zagreus could feel his hot breath on his lips, so close, but then-
“I love you,” Thanatos said. And Zagreus, he sighed, as if relieved.
Caressing his back, Zagreus wrapped his legs around him, urging him to push deeper, deeper inside him.
“Just a little more, Than,” Zagreus whispered.
“I’m close too,” Thanatos replied, in a similar whisper.
Being closer together like this felt even more intimate, and Zagreus somehow felt he had to be more quiet. Because this, his first orgasm with Thanatos, that was not meant for other ears. This was just for them.
It didn’t come suddenly, it built up with each thrust of Thanatos’ cock inside him. His moans shifted, and when he finally felt it overwhelm him completely, all he could let out was this little whimper, unlike anything he had ever heard himself sound like. But the heat inside him did that to him, made him unable to think of anything but this amazing feeling of Thanatos’ come inside him.
Zagreus was holding him close, legs still wrapped around him. Suddenly he feared that if he did let go, Thanatos would be gone again and he would never see him again. Because one of these days it would be the last time.
“Zag?,” Thanatos’ voice was right by his ear. “Want to get up?”
“Want to cuddle on the bed?”
Still inside him, Thanatos managed to lift him up and carry him back to bed. Only there did Zagreus allow him to pull out, so that they could find a comfortable position together. Zagreus’ head was on his chest now, that strong, warm chest. He couldn’t hear a heartbeat though. Well, he was death incarnate after all.
“You don’t know how good you have it here,” he said.
“Do we have to start this again?,” Zagreus lifted his head a little, but let it drop on his chest again, unwilling to give up the best pillow he had ever had.
“I just- Things aren’t as easy as you make them out to be,” he continued.
“None of this is easy,” Zagreus pointed out. “It really, really isn’t. I have lost count how many times I’ve died!”
“It goes beyond that, Zag.”
“What is it that all of you aren’t telling me?!” This time he did sit up to look at Thanatos, and he had a hard time holding back tears. People kept saying these things to him and he just could not understand. They were holding something back. “Please, Than, I want to understand.”
“I can’t- It’s complicated,” Than didn’t look at him. “You know I can’t always be… as honest as I would like.”
“Were you at least honest when you said you loved me?”
He didn’t know why he questioned this now, Thanatos had said that he would never be cruel to him, didn’t he?
Thanatos sat up then, and reached out to cup his cheek.
“Of course, Zag, don’t think me this vile that I would lie to you like this.” He pulled him closer then, and Zagreus sighed when their foreheads rested against one another. “I do love you. It’s why it pains me to see you like this. To think that you- you would leave.”
Very quietly, Thanatos added: “Me.”
“I’m not leaving you,” Zagreus’ breath hitched. “I have to go find my mother. You know this. And besides, you’re up there, aren’t you? You can find me. I trust you to find me.”
“What if your father finds out? He would shackle me down here to punish you.”
“I also trust that you are far more powerful than he would ever admit,” Zagreus grinned, and Thanatos slowly did too. “You could fight for me. With me.”
Thanatos let out a deep, and long sigh.
“I’m starting to think you’re worth it.”