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Out of all the ridiculous things that happened to Patroclus following his mortal demise, his acquaintanceship with Death Incarnate had to be one of the strangest.

Thanatos was kinder than living mortals expected and much less intimidating than the black cowl and the enormous scythe would suggest. These things were rather commonly known amongst the shade population, especially of Elysium, who saw him most often while he was off the clock (as it were), visiting his brother who lived there.

What most denizens of the Underworld did not know, however, was that Thanatos was unfailingly socially awkward. Patroclus realized this when he first paid Thanatos a compliment and was met neither with the predictable preening of any other god, nor with something akin to Zagreus' usual deflection. Instead, Thanatos disappeared before his eyes.

He asked later if he'd offended, and Thanatos assured him he had not. "I'm just not used to…" he trailed off into a sigh, and passed a hand over his face as if exasperated. With himself, not with Patroclus. "I receive plenty of commendations for my work and I am accustomed to those sorts of compliments. I am not at all familiar with people telling me my eyes are enchanting."

"Then Zagreus is doing a poor job of wooing you," Patroclus said.

"I—he—" Thanatos seemed truly alarmed. Whether it was the concept that Zagreus was unsuccessfully wooing him or the idea of Zagreus paying him some kind of compliment he didn't know how to respond to, Patroclus couldn't say. "Zagreus, he… he flirts by giving away interesting things he finds around the Underworld or showing off new techniques he's learned in a fight. Honeyed words have little place in our relationship, such as it is."

Patroclus was not entirely certain how their relationship was. He thought they'd slept together. Maybe they didn't go in for sweet nothings. That would be a shame, Zagreus sounded so pretty when he spoke. "Well, I imagine if they did, you'd vanish anyhow, so perhaps it's good that his actions speak louder than his words."

Thanatos tucked his face into his palm, his elbows drawn in close to his body as if he was trying to hide. He'd been standing on the ground but he floated up a few inches, as if in attempt to distance himself. "You're right," he said. Even just thinking about Zagreus had a golden flush breaking out across his face. It was a strange sight. The only god Patroclus was in the habit of making blush was Zagreus, and his blood was red. Thanatos' cheeks practically glowed. "I'm sure I'd get used to it eventually, but I'd embarrass myself a dozen times over, first."

A dozen wasn't that many, Patroclus thought. "You need to build up a resistance," he said. "Or perhaps a tolerance is a better way of putting it." He stepped closer to Thanatos, hands on his biceps, pulling gently down until Thanatos was standing on his feet again. "Would you like my assistance?"

When he stood, Thanatos was barely an inch taller than Patroclus. They were at eye level, which meant Patroclus could see the way Thanatos' gaze drifted down, then up, over Patroclus' body. Although Thanatos' face betrayed nothing, his gaze moved too slowly to be anything but attraction. "Are you offering to flirt with me until I can manage to stay in one place through it?"

"Yes, that is what I meant."

"I… don't know how that would make me feel. Zagreus is the only person who's ever." This was less of a trailing off and more him abruptly deciding not to complete his sentence. He cleared his throat instead. "I'm only saying, it took a lot for me to get to the point where I let Zagreus even kiss me. I don't know if I'd be… if I'd feel strange about someone else?"

"I don't need to kiss you," Patroclus said. He'd damn near made Achilles come with only his voice in his ear, on a number of occasions. He'd succeeded in that with Zagreus. "I don't even need to touch you." He took his hands from Thanatos' arms, as proof. "We'll just talk."

"About…?"

"I might start with how pretty you are when you blush. And how I wonder whether that blush goes all the way down your throat. Though it's always golden." He tapped his own neck, to indicate the elaborate gorget Thanatos always wore. "I'll bet you're sensitive beneath. Those parts that we always keep covered often are."

"I… oh. Well."

"You flush as easily as Zagreus," Patroclus said. He might've imagined it would be more difficult to see on Thanatos' darker skin, as Patroclus himself didn't show a blush. But ichor was more powerful than blood, it seemed. "It's all the way down to your chest, now. Guess you answered my question—"

And he was gone. This close, Patroclus had been able to smell incense, and a sharp citrus tang in the air as Thanatos slipped away.

Better luck next time.

— — —

"You just missed Achilles and Zagreus," Patroclus said, when Thanatos appeared not at his doorstep, but in the middle of his living room. He supposed it wouldn't be considered impolite, that Thanatos would do the same in the House of Hades. Here, though, he ought to be a little more careful. If his timing was poor enough (or good enough, perhaps) he'd have come across Patroclus bending Achilles over the couch while Zagreus watched.

"I'm here to see you," Thanatos said. "I wanted to apologize for the… untimely exit. Last we spoke."

"There's no need."

"There's some need."

Patroclus sat sideways on the chaise, his feet stretched out, which meant Thanatos was quite literally hovering over him. He looked deeply concerned. "There really is no offense to be had," Patroclus reassured him. "Now that I know the reason for said untimely exit it seems less irritating and more… cute."

"I'm not cute," said Thanatos, who was wrinkling his nose adorably.

"I can't say I concur." Patroclus pulled his legs out of the way and patted the cushion beside him. "Come, sit, have a drink. We opened another bottle of ambrosia before the boys left and I don't want to be forced to finish it all myself."

"You could re-stopper it." Thanatos did sit beside him. He pulled his cowl off his head as he did, and it left his hair a little ruffled. Patroclus reached out to re-arrange it for him, which strangely did not make Thanatos react at all. He must have been used to similar touches from his brother, or his mother, or Zagreus.

"Where's the fun in that?" Patroclus poured two glasses, leaving the third sitting on the table. He wasn't sure which of these had been his and which had belonged to the others, but that did not seem to bother Thanatos.

They drank in companionable silence for a moment, but slowly began trading stories. Patroclus told Thanatos about Theseus' latest blunder (wandering into their glade and challenging Achilles to a duel) and Thanatos relayed Hypnos' recent mission to acquire an autograph from Asterius.

Achilles had once said that ambrosia was too easy to overindulge in. Patroclus was inclined to agree. The taste was pleasant and left no irritating burn the way that alcohol did, and it did not make you feel ill if you drank too much. The only issue, really, was that you got quite drunk very fast. And gods, especially gods who rarely indulged at all, were just as susceptible as shades.

That knowledge was the only reason Patroclus assumed Thanatos might be drunk. That, and the fact that he was not sitting rigidly upright anymore. He'd removed his pauldron, allowing him to lean back on the chaise, tipping his glass from side to side in his hand but looking otherwise perfectly normal, if a little dazed.

"You know, I never gave you a straight answer on the 'building up a tolerance' thing," he said. "A tolerance to… flirtation, not to this." He indicated the glass in his hand. It was empty now, but Patroclus got the picture.

He did not ask Thanatos to continue, but it seemed Thanatos needed no prompting to go on.

"The answer is yes. I'd like you to… I mean, I think I need it. I did it again, you know. Vanishing without meaning to. I do it when I mean to, also, it's actually a very convenient way of ending conversations."

"Odysseus frequently makes me wish I had your ability, yes."

"I disappeared on Zagreus," he elaborated.

"I'm sure he wasn't too bothered." Patroclus took the empty glass from Thanatos' hand, was going to refill it, and realized that at some point they'd emptied the bottle as well.

Thanatos' nose scrunched up again, and Patroclus reeled in the urge to tap him right where it wrinkled. "I think he probably was a little—I did it at an inconvenient… okay, so, I might have vanished during sex?"

"You might have? How does one 'might have' vanished during sex?"

"I did. I did do that," Thanatos confessed. "It was bad, Pat. Patroclus. Ohh, it was bad."

And here, Patroclus realized Thanatos was in fact rather drunk, possibly just completely shitfaced. "Does this usually happen to you?"

"Blood and darkness, no. Can you imagine?" Thanatos exhaled through his nose in a way that might have been a giggle if it wasn't a sigh. "No. It happened because, well. He said things to me. And he was… this is really bad, I don't want you to judge me."

"I would never."

"I did it while he was inside me," Thanatos groaned. It was a little muffled because he shoved his hands over his face. "Stop! Hey, stop, you promised!"

"I'm not judging you," Patroclus said. Thanatos was irritated with him because he'd started laughing. "I swear, it's not that. I'm imagining his face when you went 'poof' and he was just there, struck completely dumb, oh, stop making that sound, it's not that bad."

Thanatos continued making that sound. It was almost an unearthly sort of groan of distress. "I can't believe I did that to him. I felt awful."

"I'm sure he forgives you."

"He does. He did. I showed back up and we… we were fine. It was fine. I, um. It was good." The drink didn't make him flush but this did, and Patroclus enjoyed the steady crawl of it over his cheeks. "But it took everything I had…" he paused, swallowed, blinked up at Patroclus' ceiling. "Took everything I had not to do it again. So that's why I need you to teach me how to make sure it doesn't happen again. Because what else am I supposed to do, just say 'don't talk to me while we fuck'?"

Patroclus had never heard any expletive from Thanatos' lips other than his usual 'blood and darkness', and found himself momentarily stuck on how pleasant it sounded coming from him. He had one of those curious Underworld accents, and his voice was especially sharp around the edges of his words. He hit the k hard when he said 'fuck'.

Obscenity sounded good on him, Patroclus thought.

"Would you like me to test it out now? I'd imagine that your inebriation might make things easier in this respect."

"Or worse. I'm so drunk I can't stop thinking about how attractive you… never mind it. Try me."

"Oh no, I want to know where the end of that sentence goes," Patroclus said. He put his arm over the back of the couch, where Thanatos' head had just been laying. Thanatos didn't seem to notice his own movements, drifting steadily closer to Patroclus. "How does Death think of me?" he asked.

"It's just… Zag talks about you, and sometimes I wonder…"

"Yes?" Patroclus pushed Thanatos' hair out of his eyes, and then his hand came to rest on Thanatos' chin, not allowing him to duck away from the eye contact. "You can tell me what it is."

"I… no, I really can't say."

This is what Patroclus assumed Thanatos said, although the end of it was difficult to hear because he vanished before the word went out of his mouth.

— — —

If Patroclus didn't know better, he might come to the assumption that Thanatos was an enormous tease.

He was dropping by to visit more often, and he was disappearing more often, too. At one point, Patroclus resolved not to flirt with him at all, because it was clearly only making things worse, and during that visit Thanatos had still blushingly vanished mid-conversation. He might be proud of himself for overwhelming a god without even trying, but he was more concerned than anything. Most recently, Thanatos had come around while Patroclus was just relaxing outside his home, reading a book Achilles had borrowed from Zagreus' room, which was really quite filthy in its contents. The lad was full of surprises.

It was one of those activities he'd not had time for when he was alive, lounging around and reading. If he weren't underground he would have been sunbathing. As it were, he'd still stripped to the waist, because despite not being a true sun, Ixion's light could get warm.

Thanatos had all but taken a look at him and ran.

When next he saw Thanatos, he'd apologized for it, more than he needed to. Patroclus was by no means offended. Confused, yes, but not upset.

"I would say I'd hold off on flirting with you, because it seems to be bothering you, but I already have done that and you seem bothered anyways. Is everything alright?"

Thanatos had appeared in his living room again, just as Patroclus had been about to leave the house and head for the marketplace outside the arena. That could wait. He did not invite Thanatos to sit, fearing that even that would make him disappear again.

"Zagreus told me I ought to talk to you," Thanatos said. "He said I ought not to be embarrassed by how you… affect me." He was already flushed. If Patroclus didn't know he could float in midair, he might have worried he'd collapse. Never had he imagined he'd see solemn Thanatos look as if he was about to swoon. This must have been serious.

"Sit with me," he said. Hovering or not, Thanatos looked faint.

It would have been a mirror of the last time Patroclus had touched him, if Thanatos joined him on the couch. Instead, he perched himself straight in midair, like Patroclus had seen Hypnos do. He leaned like he was resting on a couch, his legs crossed at the ankles. It was this action that made Patroclus realize Thanatos was not wearing any of his armor. This included the gorget—his throat was bare and this was not a vulnerability for a god but perhaps it was a bit of one for Thanatos.

That stretch of skin usually hidden, the pretty curve of his collarbone, was almost enough to distract Patroclus from the immense curiosity he had for Thanatos' recent behavior. "Will you explain why it is you vanish from my sight every time we look at one another these days?" he asked. "I doubt an entity such as yourself is fretting like a youth with a crush."

"You wouldn't think so, wouldn't you," Thanatos said. It was his usual flat version of sarcasm that matched Patroclus' own very often. This, Patroclus found encouraging. He sighed, his eyes closing for a second. Without the bright gold of them demanding attention, the dark circles under them stood out more. This was the only feature that made him look older, the only place in which his face had lines. Gods had some degree of control over their appearance, and Patroclus wondered why Thanatos had chosen this. "You make me feel things I usually do not like to display," he said.

"Oh?"

"I don't like other people seeing me," he ground the words out around a clenched jaw. "Aroused."

Now, this was interesting. Patroclus had no doubt he was affecting Thanatos, and it stood to reason that while Thanatos wanted the degree to which he was affected to decrease, it had done the opposite. Patroclus simply had not realized how extensive that increase had been.

"Are you saying that our conversations," and here, he clarified, "I mean regular conversations, not conversations, because I've not been trying to rile you up of late—have been so arousing to you that you cannot stand to be around me any longer?"

"If we did not have those conversations while you were lying there shirtless, this would be less of an issue," Thanatos said.

He was hard-pressed not to laugh. He barely stifled it. "Is the Underworld truly so conservative that a half-dressed man is scandalous?"

"Of course not," he replied, terse. "But I don't ever see you that way." He tossed his head, delightfully haughty. "Patroclus, I do not go around falling for every wayward shade I see. It means that, well… when I am interested in somebody…"

"You find it all the more potent?"

"Yeah." He slumped further down, as if burrowing into some invisible cushion he lay upon. The only thing making it clear that he was still hanging in midair was the drape of his clothing obeying gravity unlike the rest of him. "It's embarrassing, how easily you work me up." He sounded annoyed with it, not embarrassed, but his flush was deepening. "And you don't seem the least bit affected. At least with Zagreus, he's always just as much of a wreck as I am."

"I don't think you would find it as difficult as you presume to affect me," Patroclus said. "In fact, seeing you without your armor has had rather the same result upon me as you seeing me half-dressed. So I imagine I'm much more ridiculous."

Thanatos put a hand to his remarkably bare throat. Patroclus could see the knot of it rise and fall beneath his fingers. "I can't imagine you're that interested."

"You would be surprised." Because it was intriguing, this god without armor, without all the metal and decoration that turned him into Death Incarnate. "Come sit on my lap and I'll show you how interested I am."

As it left his mouth, he expected it to make Thanatos disappear. It certainly made him blush. But then he unfolded himself from his strange not-seated position and sat beside Patroclus on the couch instead, not on his lap, but they could work up to that.

“More comfortable there?” Per their previous agreement, he did not put his hands on Thanatos.

“Yes. Just… just talk to me, for now.”

He could certainly oblige that.

“I’ll not have you think I dont want to touch you,” Patroclus said. “Just for your information. But I’ll keep my hands to myself.”

“I just need a moment,” Thanatos said. He certainly looked like he did. “Tell me…” he had to clear his throat before going on. “Tell me what you’d like to do to me.”

Patroclus collected his thoughts for a moment. What didn’t he want to do to Thanatos. “Naturally, I’ve thought of kissing you. Your lips are a little bit gold, and I wonder if they’d go brighter if I kissed you hard enough. But that’s a passing fancy, something I wonder every time I see you. What I can’t get off my mind right now—relax, Thanatos, you’re almost floating again.”

He settled back into the couch a little too hard, leaning his head back. “I can’t relax when you’re… never mind, go on. Tell me what it is you’re thinking of, if you don’t I might… I don’t know.”

“It’s your throat. You must know this is the first I've ever seen you uncovered to this degree. And I haven’t been able to stop thinking of kissing your neck.”

Thanatos tipped his head back, which only displayed the line of his throat more clearly.

"Touch yourself there for me," Patroclus instructed. Thanatos' fingers drifted in a smooth line from his chin down to his collarbone, settling in the hollow there before spreading out, with more pressure, across his neck. "That's good. Tell me how it feels."

"I'm more… I usually have the armor, so I feel things here more intensely."

"Sensitive." He couldn't keep the grin off his face. Thanatos wouldn't have seen it anyway, his eyes had closed. He was still sliding his fingers back and forth across his neck. "As I thought. Do you like to be kissed there?"

"Mm." He said it like an agreement. His lips parted, the wetness on them glittering in the faux-sunlight that shone through the windows of the house.

“I’d like to kiss you there, I think. Starting just under your jaw, and then down your throat to your collarbone.” He’d always liked collarbones, Achilles’ in particular, but Thanatos’ stood out sharper than most, like his physical form was only a short distance from becoming skeletal like Charon’s. “I’m not as given to biting as some,” he added, very aware of how sharp Zagreus’ teeth were, “but if I did, would I even leave marks?”

“For a little while.” Thanatos’ hand obediently traveled the path Patroclus described, coming to rest with his fingertips spread across his collarbone. “They fade quickly, though.”

“And would they be gold like the color of your cheeks when I make you blush?”

“Yes.”

“Wouldn’t that be a sight. Gilded all over, and all of it thanks to my hands and my mouth.”

Thanatos answered with nothing but a low, tremulous exhale. His fingers had stilled where they lay.

“You’re doing well,” Patroclus said. It felt a little patronizing to say such a thing to a god but Thanatos could use the praise. “I’d have thought you would have disappeared by now.”

"Ordinarily, I would have." His free hand lay quite conspicuously across his lap.

"You said you have a tendency to vanish when I arouse you. So I will take this as an admission that I've successfully done so." Patroclus shifted in his place to widen the spread of his legs a little. "If it's a consolation, you've put me in much the same state." Without any physical stimulation, he wasn't fully hard, but the bulge in his chiton was noticeable enough.

Definitely noticeable enough. Thanatos' eye fell right to it, and he caught his lower lip between his teeth. The hand in his lap pressed subtly down.

"Touch yourself if you want to," Patroclus said. "You need not be embarrassed on my account."

"I… the leggings are getting uncomfortable, that's all," Thanatos said.

Of course they would be. Patroclus had no idea why they wore the damn things, him and Zagreus both. "Take them off, then," he said. "They seem dreadfully inconvenient. Sometimes I think Zagreus only wears them around Achilles and I because he likes us to tear them open to get at him."

Thanatos drew a breath in, sharp enough that the rise and fall of his chest was distinct. Then, he lifted his hips, easing his leggings down. His calves and ankles looked even more strangely delicate once bared. With all the dark fabric gone, the fact that his toenails were painted black stood out starkly.

"More comfortable?"

A soft noise of assent.

"Good." Patroclus let his own hand fall into his lap, much more conspicuous about the way he palmed over his cock through his clothing. "Thanatos. I know that mortals do not worship you with the same regularity that they do the Olympians—that they ward you off instead of inviting your favor—but oh, how I want to get on my knees for you right now."

Thanatos' hand clenched in the fabric of his chiton, drawing the hem up his thighs a short yet immensely tantalizing distance.

"Yes, I think that's where I'd like to be. Between your legs, of course. I could take my time with it, kiss you from the arch of your foot up to your ankle, the space at the inside of your knee."

Thanatos did not need to be told this time to follow Patroclus' words with his hands. Reaching his feet would require him to bend double, and so he started at the inside of his knee, tracing his fingers in little circles.

"Up your thighs—no, the insides. I'm a notorious tease, Thanatos, but your thighs deserve immediate worship. There is no room to tease."

In response to his words, Thanatos' fingers moved from tracing over the tops of his thighs to between them, both moving now. He had to spread them wider to do it, and it was only his belt that kept his chiton from parting completely and revealing the erection that was tenting what little fabric still covered it.

"You know, I think I'd like to bite down here, too. Leave you some more marks. If only they lasted long enough that next Zagreus had you, he'd see them. Know that I was here."

This got a verbal response out of Thanatos, a stuttery croak of Patroclus' name. "I've seen… you've done that to Zag." He breathed a laugh, sardonic and self-deprecating. "I'm sure it would be easier to do all that to him."

"I adore a challenge," Patroclus said, "and I adore you. Zagreus is my dear lover and Achilles is my best beloved, and you are a gift, sweet one, which grows even more intriguing once opened. You each hold different places in my heart."

Thanatos' head turned and his eyes, which had rolled shut again, opened and fixed on him. "I… I didn't realize I held one at all."

"My dear. I do not allow just any man to sit on my couch while I tell him all the ways I'd like to make love to him," Patroclus said, deliberately keeping his sharp voice soft. He was tempted to tease, to ask, "isn't it obvious?" but Thanatos was even more oblivious about these things than Zagreus.

Thanatos took another deep breath, then nodded. "I don't just allow any man to tell me all the ways he'd like to make love to me," he said. It was as much a reciprocation as Patroclus could have asked for—more than, honestly. "So."

"Yes?"

"You were going to kiss my thighs." This was almost startlingly direct. Perhaps this was how Thanatos was when he was reassured in someone's attraction to him.

"I was. Would you like me to keep talking?" Patroclus asked.

"Please." His eyes closed again, leaving his cheeks as the most golden part of him.

"I'd like to kiss more than your thighs, truth be told. Would you like me to touch your cock?"

Thanatos blinked at him, looking momentarily panicked. "You mean… in this—" a vague gesture at the air between them, "—this thing you're telling me, right?"

He nodded. "I'll touch you wherever you like, physically, as well."

"I think I'd prefer the former. For now. If you don't… dammit." He frowned, rubbing at his jaw, his thumb remaining behind to play with his lower lip. "I think if you touch me, I really will vanish. And I'd prefer not to do that at present." He didn't say 'sorry' but it had that air.

"I'm enjoying this as is plenty." Patroclus settled himself back with an arm hanging over the back of the couch as if to prove how comfortable he was with their current arrangement. Of course he needed the other hand free to touch his cock. Over the clothes still, he'd wait on Thanatos to escalate. "But, if I'm between your legs, kissing up your thighs, it'd be dreadfully easy to stroke your cock while I do it."

Thanatos released another stuttery breath. He was fumbling, Patroclus realized, to undo his belt. Once it unclasped it was all too easy for him to part his chiton further, revealing his cock, which stood so hard it must have ached, and was the same ichor-gold as his flush. Zagreus, of course, had him beaten in the glowing cock department, fire being brighter than gold, but Thanatos was dreadfully pretty.

Also, bigger than Patroclus would have expected, given his temperament.

"Oh, look at you," he said, his fingers brushing over his own lip. Subconsciously, he'd begun doing the same thing Thanatos had—touching the places he imagined connecting with Thanatos' body. "I think I'd have to abandon my effort to leave marks on your thighs. Getting my mouth on your cock is an absolute imperative. You're lovely. And, as it turns out, being dead means that my jaw does not ache when I suck cock, even one as thick as yours."

Thanatos was moaning in earnest now, teasing at the head of his cock, giving Patroclus a soft repetition of uh, uh, ahhh.

"Show me how you like to touch yourself."

"I… I never did, before," Thanatos said, after catching his breath. "Before I was with Zagreus. I don't bear the same bodily urges that mortals—or Olympians, or, well, Zagreus, I suppose—have. But Zag showed me how he likes to. And I've figured it out, more or less." He began to stroke himself slowly, fluid flicks of his wrist. It was the most elegant masturbation Patroclus had ever seen, which suited Thanatos well. "I've had to. Lust is… inconvenient. But I feel it more and more, of late." He met Patroclus' eyes, still touching himself. "You make me feel this way."

Gods. Patroclus felt like he'd been knocked flat on his ass. Thanatos' admission that he'd gotten off while thinking of Patroclus was a powerful force.

Thanatos deigned to give Patroclus yet another taste of his own tricks when he said, "show me yours, too. I imagine you'd have a hand on yourself while your mouth is on me."

He was not wrong, there. Patroclus wasted no time nor delicacy in pushing his skirts up, and beginning to stroke himself.

He was quiet for only a moment before Thanatos said, “keep talking to me.”

“You know, were I to actually suck your cock, I wouldn’t be able to keep talking to you.”

Thanatos made a soft noise of frustration and then seemed to take a moment to gather himself. “It’s a good thing you’re only doing it in the hypothetical, then.”

“I’m only saying that I could always ride you, instead.”

This got a sharp noise out of Thanatos, and he squeezed his cock just the slightest bit tighter, a bead of pre-come collecting at the tip.

“Or, do you prefer things the other way ‘round?”

A quick, jerky nod. His sharply-cut hair bounced with it, the peaks of it falling down to shade his face. “I like that. But I tend to become…overwhelmed, when I’m on the bottom.” One remaining black swath of his chiton remained across his chest, shifting as it heaved with his breath. “I… do you have—I’d like to touch myself there.”

Patroclus absolutely had the necessities for this. Being reunited with Achilles meant they’d gone through an extensive stint of fucking on every surface in every room of the house, and Patroclus had become accustomed to keeping bottles of oil throughout the place. There was one near the couch for this very reason.

When he handed it to Thanatos, their fingers just barely brushed. It was the simplest of touches but it made Thanatos’ head jerk up, his eyes focus intensely. His eyes were sensitive enough to light that his pupils contracted in almost any amount of natural light, making them look fully gold, but now they were blown so wide as to be entirely black.

”Patroclus.”

He looked as if he was standing on a precipice. Of course, a literal precipice would be no trouble for Thanatos. This edge was much more treacherous. Patroclus said nothing, just let him creep closer to it.

Thanatos dropped the bottle.

It landed harmlessly on the cushion, Thanatos’ hand occupied with the more important task of grasping the back of Patroclus’ neck to pull him headlong into a kiss.

If Patroclus had thought about it (and he had indeed been thinking about it, couldn’t get it out of his head, really), he would have pictured Thanatos kissing the way he touched himself: gentle, controlled, and deliberate.

He was none of these except the last. Deliberate, certainly, but he kissed Patroclus hard and moved against him as if he’d lost whatever kept him tethered. Patroclus could keep up—did keep up—but Thanatos also refused to slow down.

Well, then.

Zagreus had most definitely taught this man to kiss.

Thanatos didn’t insinuate himself into Patroclus’ lap so much as careen into him, trapping what little of his chiton he still had on between them. Patroclus shoved it out of the way, then wasted no time in embracing Thanatos, one hand flat on his back, the other curled around his hip. Thanatos had a hand in Patroclus’ hair, fingers curling tight enough not to pull, but to keep him in place. His height and his position meant it was easy for him to do.

Thanatos pulled away to heave one dramatically labored breath and then said: “touch me,” before pulling him into another kiss and pressing so close to him that Patroclus couldn’t really touch him much at all.

He pressed his hand to the small of Thanatos’ back instead, urging him to grind forward. Even through his clothing, Patroclus could feel the heat of Thanatos’ cock and the wetness gathering at the tip of it.

If this was what happened when Thanatos managed to stick around, Patroclus was going to have to convince him to do it more often. He finally managed to separate himself from Thanatos' lips, pressing a tentative kiss to his neck, where his attention had been drawn ever since he'd realized Thanatos was not armored. He'd pull back if Thanatos didn't want.

As it turned out, that wasn't much of an issue.

"Yes."

Thanatos continued to rock in his lap, tipping his head back and moaning loud enough to vibrate his throat beneath Patroclus' lips. He still moved in those jerky little thrusts, barely any friction, all pressure, too close to get a really good grind going but too far gone to pull back. Patroclus wondered how Thanatos would respond if he held him in place and teased him, just the gentlest brushes of his fingers and his mouth.

Patroclus gripped Thanatos' hips, tugging him down just enough to press his own cock against Thanatos'. Skin on skin, finally. Patroclus nipped just a little at Thanatos' neck, where the tendon stood out, flexed because every muscle in his body was tight. He resolved himself to uncover whatever might unlock all that tension. What would turn him boneless and pliant in Patroclus' grip, his body too entranced by pleasure to hold himself in place?

"Keep. Talking."

Ah, so that was going to be it.

"Are you certain you don't want me to keep kissing you here?" Patroclus placed yet another gentle kiss to the side of his neck. "You were right, by the way. You're sensitive, here, and you're going gold. Poor thing, I suppose you're not used to having a lover with facial hair. Does it irritate you?"

He shook his head, a motion that was hampered because it pressed his cheek to Patroclus' temple. He lingered there, laying the side of his head against Patroclus'. More contact, his body seemed to beg. His hands had moved from Patroclus' hair to touch his back, his shoulders, fingers still chilly despite the exertion. He was starting to sway in Patroclus' grip, starting to unwind.

"And what else should I say to you?" he mused. "I could tell you how good you feel, how beautiful you are, but that all feels far too generic. Here, let me tell you this: if you'd give up on your attempt to climb beneath my skin and move back just a bit, I could get my hand around your cock."

"Oh," he cried, and did no such thing.

Needed no such thing, because he was spilling right where he was at, a hot rush over Patroclus' own cock.

Death comes, indeed, Patroclus thought, and then reminded himself to share that joke with Zagreus later.

Thanatos going limp against him was about as stifling as Thanatos actively pressing himself against Patroclus, because although he always seemed ethereal and weightless he was heavy, made primarily of muscle and larger than Patroclus in the first place. His weight pushed Patroclus back against the arm of the couch, where he squirmed a little, because he'd yet to finish, after all.

He couldn't heave Thanatos off him entirely, but he could nudge him to the side, enough to free one of his legs and enough of his lower half. With one arm still trapped beneath Thanatos, Patroclus was very glad he was equally competent with either hand.

Thanatos was, for all appearances, off in his own world. He still breathed hard, his eyes glazed, and Patroclus wondered if there was anything he could say that would draw Thanatos back to the present.

He tested this with: "look what a mess you've made of me. You've come all over my cock."

"Blood and darkness," he breathed, his mouth hanging open, his lower lip wonderfully gold from how hard he'd kissed Patroclus.

It was a sight that could make a man come.

Didn't take him long, either, not with a glowing, sated god laying against his shoulder, his hair spilled like silk over his cheekbones and his forehead, mussed and sticking to his face with sweat, his eyes still on Patroclus.

He couldn't keep his hips from jerking as he came, and it jostled Thanatos, who moaned like he was the one getting off. Who knew, maybe he was. Patroclus was familiar with Zagreus' entire lack of a refractory period, and it stood to reason that other gods may be even more ridiculous.

"So," he said, once he'd recovered, "do you enjoy pillow talk, or do you tend to vanish too quickly for that, too?"

"Honestly, Patroclus, I don't think I could go anywhere right now."