Icarus had fallen in love with Apollo the way stars form in the sky.
A collection of exhales and moments of dusted tears fell in on itself, a tightness collected in his chest. They were exacerbated by heat and pressure, the god’s presence and a desire to please him. Then, stars emerge in a space where nothingness used to preside, a hollow space underneath his fourth rib.
Both were glittering and brilliant, doomed to die all too quickly.
Icarus told himself there was no way a god would love him and it was foolish to assume otherwise. Apollo wasn’t Zeus who set out to claim conquests. Icarus wasn’t by any means worthy of his golden sun shine eyes and the corners of his mouth that slowly curled like drying ivy.
Icarus knew to gods, humans were like intricate toys. Something to marvel at and pass the time, but never to be considered equal enough to earn the title of lover. Even his father, in all of his numerical opulence, had earned no god’s love, had been given no gift of praise, had been cast no glance.
Icarus was unsure what he could do to possibly glean what shine and gleam was enough to gain a god’s attention. Icarus would have given anything to be witnessed by Apollo, even if for fleeting moments. His heart was an illogical, childish thing that ruled Icarus’ head. It pounded in his chest like a headache, heartache.
He found himself fantasizing about what if and by chances. He found himself speaking to Apollo as if he were an old friend when he were alone. He asked if he would like a piece of his meal, the last sip of his drink, the flowers he’d witnessed, the lyrics he thought of, the numbers from his father’s project.
The whispers among soldiers of a bow being cowards weapons didn’t stop Icarus from practicing. How were they to say these things when archery was a skill of Apollo’s? When the distance closed in and the animal fell with a shriek, a single blow to the heart in mock of the way Apollo had struck his own? When the meat was tender and buttery with Icarus to never swallow without thinking of Apollo? Icarus’ very breath was in reverence of him as well as the ones he’d ended.
He would wait until the sun was hidden away and Apollo left to his own devices and lay on his altar along with everything that had been left for him by nameless faces. He would feel the cool marble of it against his skin while staring at statues and paintings of him that decorated the rooms. Sometimes, if the sun had been too much, if it had overwhelmed him the way Apollo’s brilliance had, he would lay on them naked, arms slung over the edge and fingertips brushing the linoleum floors.
He would have let Apollo have everything, he would have let him use him however he pleased, play with him and his heart as he liked, so long as for a few moments of his fleeting life he was witnessed by him. He would lay on his altars and call his name, longing and desperate for acknowledgement. He lingered, vows of his devotion still leaving his skin heated, still leaving him breathless.
How often he did this with eagerness, with earnestness, and never any lingering guilt. The only thing that ever lingered was Icarus in places for the god to claim things that were his, hoping one day to vanish along with the ether of fruits, blood of animals, and ambrosia. He wondered if the perfumed room mixed with his scent in a way that was pleasing or if the perfume overpowered it.
He wondered if Apollo ever lingered and listened to the human whose only wish was to be his. He seeked no blessing, no task or quest, no glory or fame. He simply wished to be graced with his presence, to be acknowledged, but the land was vast and the sun illuminated it all.
His hopeless romanticism made him startle all the more when he realized the voice calling his name him wasn’t one of many fantasies. The way Apollo called for Icarus reminded him of how people called for cats. Softly, worried they would vanish into the underbrush and away from their touch. He watched the god of sunlight and all of its splendors blink, pupils narrow like a goats before diluting into his golden hour irises like poison into water. He wondered if sometimes gods had to remember what humans looked like, if the finer details were lost on them.
How frequently he’d praised his name, how carelessly, how desperately, yet before him now as he’d imagined, it was lost. The meaning of calling it didn’t accomplish the radiant energy gods held. It didn’t cease the valves in his heart from opening all at once and letting it flood. It didn’t rightfully capture him in his splendor.
Icarus was moved to tears that overflowed along with a sense of hopelessness, of no longer ever being fulfilled if not forever witnessing Apollo and his rapturous calescence. He wondered how long his blood would heat his altar, how many days he could go before the lack of Apollo’s vibrance would move him to this measure. He couldn’t wipe away his tears for fear of blinking and having him vanish.
His touch was riant, ardent, words Icarus couldn’t call the way he hadn’t been able to his name. They didn’t feel suited to his magnificence. His tears touched by Apollo now belonged to him, entombed by time and foreverness. His voice was the filtering of light through trees. He spoke his name once more and Icarus was grateful it was louder than the broken dam that was his body.
He asked him why he felt the need to cry. Icarus couldn’t explain to him how overcome with love for him he was for simply acknowledging him. He bowed before him on his hands and knees, willing to be the pedestal he perched on, only apologies escaping him. He wasn’t worthy of more than a glance, yet alone a conversation.
Icarus hadn’t inherited his father’s talent for numbers, his half brother’s charm, his mother’s practicality. He was dark curls and daydreams and notions of love, a pure thing of fantasy. Apollo raised his chin, Icarus an open wound, a shattering of holy glass from olympus as Apollo kissed away his tears.
He thanked him for giving him a space inside of him always, of letting Apollo linger in his head, in his heart. It would be winter, it would be a time for Apollo’s duties to ease, for his sister’s to increase. It would give Apollo moments to steal away into the night and do as he wished while his sister worked. It would be cold, but he promised Icarus warmth the way Icarus had always promised him company.
Apollo had listened as he pulled his chariot to the way Icarus would babble, share his every thought, become so open with him. He listened to the lilt in his voice as he’d call his name all hours of the day. The way everything wondrous made him think of Apollo. The way he proclaimed his love without ever having outright said such a thing. Apollo listened to someone who had devoted himself to him more than any priestess.
He never cared for priestesses anyhow.
The words resonated within Icarus like lyre strings, things Apollo’s his deft fingers were familiar with. He understood the god to promise him, in the small space that would never house his grandeur. He understood how wildly he had been in love with Apollo, an overgrown forest strangling itself.
How his love overwhelmed him, how it was all he could think of, how it fueled his every action. How it had been returned for being so genuine and without want, only to give. How Apollo’s words promised to return it in kind, a mere exhale of his life. Did god’s breathe? Surely they stole the breath from their lovers and Icarus would offer his own till his very last to him gratefully.