Pentheus lives. He walks the earth. His beard grows in and out. His rich robes are torn and bleached by the sun. His path through the city is trailed by the sound of wine being poured on the ground by his glowering countrymen. They call him the one who was torn into pieces. They call him untouchable.
Pentheus does not worship. He doesn't see the point. He begs, and steals, and the mountain is a silent hulk above the city where the maenads go.
Every night he dreams about the dappled forest heights, and every day the sun boils his eyes while he begs for scraps in the dusty city center.
The god came for him once in the form of a dark young man. He poured wine into Pentheus's cup where he crouched in the city square and wet his cracked lips with his fingers and mouth. Pentheus was woken the next morning by a thief holding a blade to his throat. The god didn't come. He fell unconscious with a fever and shook himself apart for nearly a week in an abandoned storeroom. The god didn't come.
Pentheus starts to wonder if the second time he dies will be a senseless, unwitnessed accident, and that, somehow, is the greatest betrayal of all.
For months he haunted the edges of the forest before he dares to invade the god's pine vaulted sanctuary, dizzy and drunk and deliriously angry until the maenads came. They struck him with the thyrsos and screamed in outrage when he pushed one with his bare hands. Defiled, they call him.
The god didn't come for him then. Not when he dragged himself out of the river, half drowned, and shivering. Not when he stumbled down the mountain shoeless and bleeding.
Each night, Pentheus dreams about being torn apart.
A sickness sweeps the city and when the townspeople's evil eye lights on Pentheus again he is forced to flee under watch by a dozen armed men. He is leaving the city where he has ruled and died and waited, perhaps for the last time, when an old shepherd leaning on a thyrsus looks up to watch him pass on the goat trail.
Pentheus slows to examine him for a threat, and is caught instead by a dazzling gaze that drips and creeps down his spine.
Pentheus is of a mind to swing his sack at the god and scream, "Where have you been?" He drops his possessions and nearly falls to his knees as the trance washes over him instead. The god casts a thick shadow as he approaches and hides the ridge from the oppressive sun in a cooling mist. Dizzied, Pentheus lets himself be guided to a boulder planted on the side of the path. It's smooth and damp against his hot cheek.
"No, don't," Pentheus manages to say as the shepherd lifts his robe and unceremoniously presses his face into the rock with a strong hand on the back of his neck.
He is fucked open without a word of warning. The sharp pain cuts straight through the delirium that brushes his mind. He breaks into a nauseated sweat and fears that he hasn't been engaged by the god at all, but attacked by a common shepherd.
Afraid to move, or breathe, he strains on his toes, terrified that the smallest movement will rip his anus open. Horrifyingly, his attacker has no such concern and shoves him hard against the rock. Teeth and jaw cracking against the stone, Pentheus is not entirely sure that he is alright. This is his senseless death.
He screams, and kicks, and then - sweetness. Loosening his muscles. Weakening his limbs. Blooming pink on his skin. A wet beard nuzzles behind his ear and he gasps. "Pentheus. My dear suffering one." Dionysus ruts into him and Pentheus's hardening cock scrapes against the crumbling rock.
"Shhhh," the god soothes him when he cries out in confusion and discomfort, taking him in hand.
"Please," Pentheus sobs.
The god's hands are soft and firm. They strip him of seed almost immediately and keep stroking.
"Stop. Tear me apart," he begs after he's brought to a third orgasm on the rock, drooling blood from his torn lip while the god fucks him with one hand on his trembling stomach.
Dionysus pushes him carelessly to the ground and follows, a towering vision that glitters and threatens as Pentheus struggles to push himself up and crawl backwards in the dirt. He falls back again when Dionysus pins him by the shoulder with one bare foot and stretches Pentheus's arm up with both hands on his wrist. He could crack his shoulder open and tear Pentheus's arm from his body in one easy movement and a flash of gore. Instead, the god smiles with his eyes and makes Pentheus spill again on his own stomach.
"You deny me libations."
Moaning and gasping for air, Pentheus is at a loss. "Excuse me?"
"You lay hands on my supplicants."
Dionysus drops his arm. Pentheus allows himself to be rolled onto his belly.
"You walk on my sacred ground."
One arm being locked behind his back, abusing his shoulder, and he's being agonizingly stretched open again. Pentheus sobs. "You left me."
The god slams into him, grinding Pentheus's face into the mud. "I made you."
And then, the visions. Ankle cracking. Knee joint popping open. Flesh tearing. Pentheus screams into the ground and is torn open by breathless, inexpressible agony. His skull broken, his jaw torn off, his limbs twisted and ripped apart like chicken bones.
Until he crashes back together again, back in his whole body on the earth and Dionysus kissing sweetly up his neck. If that weren't enough, the god makes Pentheus come again on his cock before he can get his breath back to scream.
The sound of buffeting wind and creaking vine, the smell of fresh cut pine.
Dionysus lifts Pentheus by the hair. When he kisses him, sweet wine pours down Pentheus's throat and fills his limbs with thick golden light. He can feel it shining through the cracks of his once broken body. It's almost enough to soothe him when his head is released back to the cradle of the earth, when he opens his eyes in the midday sun and he realizes: he is alone again.