“Do you ever wonder where you will go…” Brasidas is contemplative, head leaned back, face turned towards the ceiling of his home, the one she has invaded each night since her return to Sparta despite her mother’s questioning, despite the looks from Alexios and the furrow of Nikoloas’ brow. Despite the whispers that Brasidas is of marrying age, that he should find himself a wife, the unspoken question as to whether she would be that wife.
Kassandra is lying next to him, chin propped up against his chest, fingers twisting patterns across tanned scarred skin and dark chest hair. It is a common occurrence for them to lie there in placid stillness after making love as the sweat cools on their skin and ask questions, sometimes philosophical, sometimes silly or ridiculous, but always taken seriously by the other. It is part of what she loves so much about him that he can speak freely to her and vice versa, whether he wishes to curse the polis he loves so much, the home that raised him, but would gladly see him die, or whether she were asking what was possibly going through the mind of half the women who bedded Zeus in his many forms.
“Where we go when we…?” She thinks she knows, thinks she can tell which melancholy, sad road his mind has turned down, but knows she must clarify, to fully answer him as is their way. She will take every question he poses to her seriously, she will take every feeling and thought he holds and respect it, treat it carefully, because there is trust there. Trust that she will, trust that they can bare their souls to the other without ridicule, something neither is used to. She holds that trust sacred.
“When we meet our end, when the fates decide our time is done. Will we be remembered and rewarded in Elysium, tormented in Tartarus for wicked deeds, or forgotten by the living, left to wander aimlessly through Hades?” She watches the shake of his body, the swallow in his throat, the bobbing of his Adam's apple that reveals his feelings when he speaks of Tartarus. Kassandra knows that Brasidas wonders if he is wicked, if his deeds for Sparta are truly good or if the Gods will punish him. She thinks a wicked man would not worry about being wicked, a wicked man would know his wickedness and revel in it, enjoy it, take pride in it. His fear is what keeps her belief in his goodness so solid, a good man would not regret his actions, reflect and hurt at the thought of them. A wicked man would not strive to be so good.
She thinks on his question even though she knows her answer, because he would wish her to, because it is part of her dedication to seriousness with him. He tilts his chin down, beard brushing the top of his chest as brown eyes look for her own, taking in the furrow of her brow, the contemplative twist to her lips. Her fingers continue their aimless circles on his skin, a thoughtless action. His own are trailing up and down her back, every now and again they stop and focus on a raised scar.
“I don’t really care where I go when I die.” She finally hums, seeing the surprised flicker across his face at the prospect that she cares little for her afterlife, her eternity. It is a general rule in Hellas that no matter whether devout or questioning, people believe in the possibility of an eternity, good or bad, that death leads to something more, that you should be concerned about your afterlife. Kassandra believes. She believes in the Gods, she believes in the myths, the legends, the stories, she believes in Hades, in Elysium and Tartarus, but she has found their hold on her weakening with time.
She doesn’t care, Kassandra once might have. She once might have agonised over her eternity, over the torment or pleasures she would be given for her works in her mortal life. Brasidas had been the spark for the change, the person that made her fear dissipate, made her desire for an eternity of reward mellow. Whether Tartarus or Elysium, Kassandra cared little for she’d found her paradise amongst the living. She’d found her happiness with the family she’d put back together and the Spartan she’d fallen in love with.
“How can you not care, phílos?” Brasidas worries over the legacy he will leave, worries over the things he will regret doing or failing to do, the things he will miss. He worries over his potential eternal punishment, a deep part of him scared of the possibility that he was a wicked man, that his deeds for his home, for his Sparta were unjust. He finds himself sitting himself up and pulling her with him, arms wrapping around her strong back, eyes searching her honeyed ones for an answer, for it to make sense.
“Because I have found my Elysium here, with you, emós xíphos . If I go to Tartarus then I go. If I go to Elysium then you must be there for it to compare. If I wander Hades forgotten then so be it. I care little so long as you are beside me.”
“And if I am not? If we find ourselves parted by death?”
Kassandra lifts a hand to his cheek, thumb brushing over the scar that has been there for as long as she has known him. Eyes hard, brow furrowed at the thought of being separated from him after everything they both had done, after every year apart, every near death, every struggle. “Then I shall storm through Hades, Tartarus and Elysium until I find you and not Hades, Persephone, Charon nor Cerberus shall stop me.”
She says it with such surety, such strength, the sort he has seen from her on the battlefield time after time. It is that strength behind her words that makes him believe it. Kassandra would tell him off for thinking of her as anything but a mortal, as anything but Kassandra, but in truth she was a Goddess of her own making. A force to be reckoned with and it eases his worry knowing that the Gods would have to go through her to separate them and that if he was to suffer in the afterlife she would be beside him, sharing in her strength.
Brasidas lifts a hand to the loose waves of her hair, battle worn fingers parting the sea of strands and twisting them around his wrist, before cupping the back of her head and pressing his forehead to hers. It is something he does often she has noticed, a kiss of a different sort that feels more intimate to her than any pressing of lips that they have ever done.
His nose brushes against hers, his breath fans across her skin and she closes her eyes at the feeling of closeness, the ache of a good sort in her chest at having him here, like this. There were many moments in their journey where she thought her friend , as he had been simply her friend back then, would be sent to Hades. There were many moments where the thought that they both had any sort of future alone or together had seemed so impossibly distant. To know they had made it, that each day they woke beside each other to a sunrise and each night they fell asleep in each other's arms, that was the greatest gift the Gods had ever given her.
“If you are to storm Hades, then I shall be by your side when you do it, misthios… ”, Her eyes flutter open to catch the peak of teeth beneath his lips as they curl upwards in that infuriatingly self assured smirk of his, to catch his own eyes staring into her soul as they had done from the moment they met.
“There is no one i’d rather dance beside, you know that, General. ” Because it was always a dance between them, from that very first in a burning warehouse. Their bodies had always been intune, insync, they fought together as if they had trained side by side from childhood, as if he and her had fought together, stolen food together, shared a phoinikis together to ward off the cold. Everything had always come so naturally with Brasidas that she sometimes forgot how unnatural it was, it wasn’t until others, her brother, her mother, her father, would point out that their intuneness was unusual and then she would think again.
Those comments were less now. They had fought together many times, travelled together, broken fast together, laid together. To others it seemed now that they had grown insync through years of companionship, through lust and love and blood and battle, but they both knew the truth. That they had always been like this, that they had always fought together with ease, that they understood each other in a way that seemed so natural and yet so bizarre at the same time.
“We do dance rather well together, emós phyláttȯ.” It is punctuated with a twist as his calf wraps behind her knee, arms behind her back and he wrestles her to her back, resting over her, arms either side of her head. His shoulder is weaker these days, heavy scaring reminding her of what had nearly come to pass, but they are still strong and defined as she trails her fingers over them.
“Do you...do you think of that warehouse in Korinth as much as I?” She finds herself wandering back so often. The heat of the flames on her back, the heat in her blood from battle, and the heat in her eyes as they watched him meet her movements with ease. He had seemed everything a Spartan should be. It had made her proud. He was compassionate but strong, skilled, a better soldier than any she had ever come across. She had wanted many people in her time, briefly and without much thought, but Brasidas had been the first to capture her body and soul without effort, without a word. She had wanted him from that first dance, she had wanted to impress him, listen to him, so she listened as he asked for the Monger to die quietly, she listened to every plan, every thought that crossed his beautiful capable mind. She was lucky he was as formidable as he was, or else she might have made poor decisions thanks to the meddling of Eros, Pothos or Anteros. She wondered if every God of love and passion had sat together and agreed to meddle, to place Brasidas in her path. Perhaps they had hoped for tragedy, more human pain to feed their entertainment or perhaps they had known that she would finally be content, perhaps he had been her reward.
His eyes burn like they did back then and she knows without a word his answer, yes more than I’d care to admit, he would say. But, he doesn’t say a word, just lifts the corner of his mouth into a smirk before lowering his lips to hers. It is still there burning beneath their skin, still there as her hands claw at his back and his beard burns her skin, that unspoken fire that they have shared since their first meeting, that connects them. It is that fire that makes her certain that she will not be separated from him after they have left this mortal coil, it is that bond that gives her the strength to know she would fight the Gods themselves to stay by his side. It is that same bond that has her almost certain the Gods put them together for a reason, that they had no intention of separating them. He was a gift to her and she hopes she is a gift to him and not a curse.