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Zagreus sensed Thanatos in his room before he properly entered it himself. Death Incarnate had a certain heavy air about him, one the mortals dreaded. Zagreus, however, found it comforting; it sank deep into his body like a tight embrace that eased all his frantic energy. Originally, he’d been prepared to bolt straight to his next run, no time to stop, no time to rest, but that distinctly Than feeling caused him to slow as he crossed the threshold into his room. And there Than was, as expected, idling near his bed, waiting for him, then—saying he didn’t want to wait. At least, not the kind of waiting they’d discussed no more than a few days ago, about the nature of their feelings and where to go with them.

Who was Zagreus to deny what Thanatos was offering?

“You’ll have to show me,” Thanatos admits after broaching the topic. It’s whiplash for him to approach Zag this openly after previously disappearing the moment feelings were mentioned. Now he’s implying he’s a virgin, directly to Zag’s face, with only a moment’s hesitation.

Zagreus hadn’t anticipated this, though he should have. Thanatos has always been single-mindedly devoted to his work, gone for stretches of time that feel like forever, so when would he have…? Is he the first person Than’s even considered this with?

Zag smooths a hand through Thanatos’ hair, down the curve of his neck and over the muscles of his shoulder, his touch gentle. “I’m more than alright with that,” he answers, a smile settling across his lips. He notes that Thanatos looks embarrassed, a golden hue tinting his ears and creeping along his cheekbones. Zag’s heart jumps in his chest at the sight before him, and it pushes him to skim his thumb across Than’s cheek, tracing the color’s path. “It’s fine! Really. It means I can teach you what I like.” His smile turns mischievous, and he laughs warmly at the flicker of something that crosses Than’s face and darkens his eyes.

Thanatos takes one step closer, another, and before Zag has the time to notice, the back of his knees hit the edge of his bed. He buckles, falling backwards, and Than leans over him, one hand braced on either side of his head. Zag’s breath catches as he meets Than’s eyes and fully processes their difference in size like this; half a foot, give or take, but Than’s presence makes it seem like so much more. It’s an appealing fact, one Zag had done his best not to focus on before, but now, he’s free to revel in it—and so he does.

It’s Than’s turn to brush his knuckles along the side of Zag’s face, looking at him like he’s the only thing in the vast Underworld.  “Good.” Than pauses, contemplating his choice of words. His touch strays down to the red collar adorning Zag’s neck as he idly toys with one of the spikes. “I’ve only had my imagination to guide me on that until now. It’ll be satisfying to see what matches up.”

“Your imagination? You’ve…?” The implication causes the heat low in Zag’s stomach to roar to life, a furnace stoked. His cheeks flare with all the color of Asphodel. Zag has a messy mental library of fantasies concerning Than, and though years of pining have perfected more than one, the possibility of Than thinking lewdly of him—however fleetingly—hadn't ever crossed his mind.

“Of course, you idiot.” Than’s tone is fond despite the insult, a contradiction Zagreus has grown familiar with over the course of their friendship. He runs his thumb along the plush curve of Zag’s lower lip, and Zag presses a kiss to it. “I won’t need to imagine it anymore if you get to ‘teaching’ me.”

Zagreus shifts underneath Than, hands resting on his hips to tug him close. Zag parts his own legs, nudging Than’s thigh with his heel until he’s moved forward and his leg is nestled firmly between them, against the swell of Zag’s hardening cock. Thanatos looks up at Zag’s face, then back down before applying pressure. Zag angles his hips against the motion and exhales out a slow, pleased sigh.

“Like that,” he encourages. Even with all the clothes in the way between them, the sensation sends his stomach muscles fluttering. Than rests his forehead against Zag’s, his breath starting to come more quickly. Zag can feel it against his own lips, because Than is close—so close—

“May I?” Than asks, and Zag’s brain lags as he scrambles to interpret what Than means. Oh. Oh! Is he asking permission to kiss him even while Zag is grinding against his thigh? A different kind of warmth sparks inside him, a softer, slow-burning appreciation for the care Than shows him, and it turns the corners of his lips. In lieu of verbalizing his answer, Zag takes Than’s face in both of his hands and pulls him in the rest of the way.

Thanatos melts against Zag when he's given the go-ahead, tension leaving his body as they kiss, slow and lazy. Zagreus thinks he could get lost in it, how naturally their bodies fit and move together—their lips, their tongues, the steady rocking of Than’s leg as Zag rolls his hips against it. Zag is dizzy, his blood roaring in his ears when Than pulls back after Gods-know-how long; he can feel his own length twitch in excitement when he registers the look in Than’s eyes as hunger. He’d planned on going slower, giving Than the chance to ease into things, but blood and darkness if that expression doesn’t ignite a fire that snakes up his spine, setting his nerves alight.

“You’re wearing far too much clothing.” Zag tugs insistently at the edge of Than’s chiton. “And too many shiny golden bits on top of that.”

Than laughs, low in his throat, and nudges at Zag’s pauldron in return. “You’re one to talk.”

“I never said I was exempt! It’s still a problem.”

“Then we’ll solve it.”

They shed their heavier accessories in turn. Off comes Than’s wing-piece, Zag’s skulls, Than’s gorget, belts, greaves. Zag fumbles once or twice in his excitement, but as always, Than is precise, careful. They reach the point where they’re down to only cloth between them when Than hooks a finger under Zag’s collar, searching for where it unfastens.

In the same beat, Zag reaches up to still Than’s hand. “That can stay on.”

Than exhales all at once, blinks a few times in quick succession as if to clear his head. “Okay,” he answers, his voice as tight as a fully-drawn bowstring. Zag looks him over, picking apart his reaction. Had that displeased him? Is the notion somehow repulsive? Too much, for someone largely unfamiliar with all this? Then, Than slides another finger under the collar and tugs, enough to pull Zag forward, closer. The tight sensation goes straight to Zag’s dick. “You like this, then?”

"Yes. Quite a lot.” Zag replies. He gasps in surprise and takes Than’s free hand, guiding it between their bodies. “See for yourself.” Zag’s cock strains against the little fabric left containing it, a prominent spot of slick bleeding through near the head, and when Than pulls at his collar once more it jumps eagerly against his hand. Zag hears Than’s breath stutter, feels his fingers twitch around his hardness, and the look Than gives him is nothing short of amazed. It’s sweet, Zag thinks, like Than can’t quite comprehend he’s causing the reaction.

Tentative and searching, Than strokes Zag up and down, watching him. The intensity of his gaze pins Zag down, a butterfly fastened down to be admired, and he finds that it only makes him harder. He lays back, unable to decide whether he wants to watch Than’s face and the sharpness in his eyes or where he’s being touched. He ends up dividing his attention between both.

“Here,” Zag says eventually, once he can’t muster any further patience with the remainder of his clothing. He pulls Than’s hand towards his hips where the band of his leggings sits. “You can get these out of the way now.”

Curling his fingers around the waistband, Than complies, easing them down. He stays focused on Zag’s face even when he’s freed his cock, and Zag grins, thoroughly amused. How very Than. “You can look,” he laughs. “You don’t have to wait for my go-ahead on everything.”

Than glances away, focusing on a point vaguely above Zag’s head. Zag would call the twist of his lips a pout, though Than wouldn’t agree. “Pardon me for doing my best to ensure you’re comfortable.”

“Thanatos, truthfully, you could push me over, haul me up by the hips, and take me now, and I’d be far from opposed to it.” It’s a matter-of-fact statement, one that Zag delivers casually. “I am comfortable. You can have what you want of me.”

In response, Than surges forward to kiss him, and their teeth nearly knock together with the speed and urgency of it. It’s nothing like their previous kiss from minutes before, largely unfettered by caution, and Zag is satisfied on a bone-deep level that he’s managed to chip away at Than’s self-control. It’s a hint selfish, a grasp at validation, a need to know that his own longing is met in equal and experienced bodily.

“You’re irredeemable, dear prince,” Than sighs against Zag’s lips. Zag figures he’s trying to sound annoyed, but there’s a gentleness in his voice he can’t completely suppress. “I did ask you to teach me what you I suppose if you’d prefer less restraint, I can indulge you.”

“Indulge me?” Zag starts, but he yelps before he can finish his thought. Than’s fixed his teeth into his neck, fisting his length at the same time, and the combined sensations brought startle Zag, his toes curling and hips bucking reflexively. In the span of a few seconds, he’s forgotten what he was going to say.

Than’s lips and teeth trail down, over Zag’s shoulder and along the slope of his collarbone. He stops, his attention flicking downward to where he holds Zag’s length in his hand, and he drags his thumb across the head through the slick beading there. “Did you want me to look so I’d praise your body?” he asks as Zag shivers underneath him.

Zag half-nods, hiding his face with an arm flung across it.  “Maybe. That’s not an uncommon desire, you know.”

“Every last inch of you is beautiful.” Than runs a ghosting touch along Zag’s frenulum, humming in appreciation. Zag peeks out from underneath his forearm to catch Than’s reverent gaze, a fresh surge of heat rushing to his cheeks at the sight.  “This is no exception.”

Zag keens at that, nuzzling his face into the inside of his own elbow. He’d been prompting Than for the sexual appeal of the idea, initially. The tenderness behind Than’s touch, the subtle upturn to his mouth as he looks at him, the soft sincerity of his tone — it hits Zag all at once, piercing his chest like an immaculately aimed arrow from Eros himself. It isn’t as if Than has had any chance to practice sweet nothings in bed; all of this has to be heartfelt, a true expression of his thoughts and feelings. Though Zag does a good job exuding an air of confidence (he thinks), he’s starved for even the smallest crumbs of approval and has been for the majority of his life; this, though, this makes up for it.

“Now you’re the one being bashful after pressing me about it, hm?”

“It’s...a lot.” Zag moves his arm after a beat of silence to better observe Than working his cock, his breath hitching with each upstroke. In the past, he’d let his mind wander while he watched Than’s deft fingers in mundane moments, but that hadn’t prepared Zag for the reality of how they look wrapped around him. “I’m not used to — nh! — compliments? Of any kind.”

Than slows his pace and examines Zag, his gold eyes half-lidded as he looks up and down his body, settling on his reddened face. “Hmm. If I give you more, will you make that noise again?” His smile veers towards wickedness — a very Zag expression, not something he’d expect to see from Than.

“Maybe? Very likely.”

Than leans in and presses a kiss to Zag’s jawline, the chill of his lips a contrast to Zag’s heated skin. “You’re saying you aren’t sure how you’d react if I told you...” He pauses, presumably for effect. “The sounds you sing rival a siren’s song, and make me want you more than anything?”

Than!” Zag calls out, half a weak protest and half a plea for more, rocking his hips in time with Than’s unhurried rhythm. That earns him a satisfied chuckle from Than in response, directly into his ear. Desire bolts through Zag at the low, perfect timbre, and his dick leaks messily in Than’s hand.

“That really does get you, doesn’t it, Zagreus?” Than draws Zag’s slick down his cock in a lazy stroke from the tip of the head to the base. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

In place of a proper retort, Zag gestures vaguely behind him. “There’s a bottle of oil on one of the shelves of my headboard. You’re going to need that soon, if you plan on taking me rather than having me spend myself in your hand.”

For a moment, Zag regrets telling Than to retrieve the oil, only because it leads to the loss of Than’s touch while he does. Zag lays back and catches his breath, watching every minute shift of Than’s muscles as he moves. He wonders if this is how mortals feel about gods: awestruck by the tiniest detail, captivated by their presence. In that sense, he thinks, he can understand them. Even before their relationship progressed in this direction, he’d admired Than’s quiet grace — now, it feels like a blessing to experience it like this, the two of them alone together, minutes away from being as close as they can get.

Than presses the bottle into Zag’s hand, dragging him out of his reverie. “You start,” he instructs, “and I’ll follow your example.”

As much as Zag would like for Than to get straight to it, he understands his need for guidance. He squirms himself back fully onto the bed, rearranging his pillows to prop himself up partway. Than doesn’t join him at first; instead, he rids himself of the last of his clothes before settling between Zag’s spread legs, sat back on his knees. Zag can’t help but stare. The sight of Than’s cock, girthy with a subtle upward curve and wet at the head, makes his own throb, dripping a clear trail onto his stomach. 

Than takes himself in hand, smiling at Zag’s obvious visual response. “Go on. Pretend I’m not here,” he teases, drawing his thumb along his length.

“I’d rather not. In fact, I quite enjoy the fact that you’re here — that’s largely the point, you know.” Zag uncorks the bottle, tilting it so the viscous liquid pours over his fingers. The notion of Than not only watching, but touching himself while Zag gets prepped sends a shiver through him. If he was alone, he’d do this without much extra fanfare, but he finds that he enjoys the idea of showing off, at least for Than. He eases his hand between his legs and circles his hole with his middle finger, leisurely spreading the oil before pressing in.

Than watches with a near-unnerving focus, enraptured as Zag coaxes that single finger in to the last knuckle. He curls it inside of himself, the muscles of his forearm tensing subtly with the motion, drawing out an amorous gasp and a heave of his hips. In and out, in and out, the slick sound of the oil layers with Zag’s whines and whimpers, and it’s not long before Than is biting back moans of his own. Another finger joins the first, and Zag’s head lolls back against his pillows.

“It’s only more of this from here,” Zag sighs, his voice wavering, “if you’d like to take over.”

“Happily.” Without hesitation, Than takes the oil from where Zag set it by his side. Sitting back, he drenches his own fingers, perhaps in too much of a rush, as excess spills out, dribbling onto Zag’s stomach and causing him to jump.

“Cold!” Zag exclaims, startled. Than looks mortified for a beat, frozen in place, but Zag laughs it off. “It’s fine, it’s fine,” he reassures, tugging at Than’s wrist with his clean hand. “It isn’t a big deal.”

Than relaxes at the sound of Zag’s laughter, expression softening. “Okay. Make certain to tell me if I do anything wrong, alright?”

“It’s more likely that I’ll be telling you everything you’re doing right.” Zag grins up at him, his eyes crinkling. “Come on.”

Than obliges. He picks up where Zag left off, easing two fingers inside him with painstaking care. Zag bites at his lower lip, squirming and angling his lower body just so to help Than get at the right spot, and when Than’s fingers glance over his prostate he cries out, arching off the bed.

There! Exactly like that, Than.”

Than has that look of disbelief on his face again, the same one he’d worn when watching Zag respond to him toying with his collar earlier. Yes, you did that, Zag wants to say. And you’ll be doing a lot more. He lets his actions speak instead, eagerly rocking himself in sync with each thrust of Than’s fingers, his breath melting into ragged, desperate gasps.

"Gods, Zagreus, you’re captivating. You have no idea.”  Than sounds dreamy, otherworldly, and an ache blooms in Zag’s chest, mingling with the coil of tension at the base of his spine. “So irresistible. How could you expect me to wait?” He glides his free hand along the taut muscles of Zag’s stomach, up to his chest, down his side, an exploratory circuit of admiration.

“I’m glad you didn’t,” Zag manages in response, his words slurring together as he surrenders to the haze of sensation. Weakly, he props himself up once more to better watch Than’s fingers sink into him. He’s only able to watch for a few heartbeats before he’s overcome; he grabs at Than’s forearm, stopping him. Than withdraws immediately, concern furrowing his brow. “I’m ready. I just need to…” He coats his hand liberally with the oil, slicking it over Than’s flushed cock.

Zag,” Than pants with renewed urgency, fucking up into Zag’s hand. Zag strokes him until he’s certain he’s covered, reveling in the noises he’s able to draw from him, then splays himself back against the bed, his chest rising and falling with his rapid breath.

Than crawls over Zag and catches his lips in a heated kiss. He lines himself up, pressed against Zag’s hole, and pulls back to meet his eyes. He stays like that, searching for any hint of last-moment regret or apprehension on Zag’s face (which isn’t present — Zag stares up at him, love-drunk), and when he sees none, finally, finally starts to push into him. His head pops past the rim with little effort, and Than bows against Zag’s forehead, huffing out a trembling breath.

“Keep going, Than,” Zag urges, hitching a leg around Than’s waist to draw him in further. “You’re not going to hurt me.” He sinks in agonizingly slow. Zag needs this, needs Than more than the hot red blood in his own veins, feels like he’s going to crawl out of his own skin unless he gets more. Zag could swear it’s an eternity before Than bottoms out, hips pressed flush against Zag’s ass — once he’s all the way in, Zag shudders in sheer bliss, letting out the breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding.

“Perfect.” Than brushes his lips against Zag’s cheek, feather-light. He’s still, sheathed to the hilt, and while part of Zag itches to beg for him to move, another part is taking in how divinely filled he feels. “So perfect, Zagreus…”

Zag loops both arms around Than’s neck, palms splayed and fingers curled with the barest hint of nails biting into Than’s shoulders. He pulls him close, closer, and huffs in frustration when he reaches a point that he can’t anymore. It’s like the place where their bodies join is a tease (though an exquisite one); the divide between him and Than is too achingly wide and it’s unfair. He tilts his head to kiss Than again, languid to savor the sensation of another point of contact, and kneads at Than’s muscles with his fingertips to alleviate the strain he’s built from the effort of staying motionless. He grinds his hips up, slow and enticing, and Than full-body shivers above him.

“Go on,” Zag urges after the kiss breaks with a wet sound. He adjusts himself, moving his leg to mirror the other so he’s clinging to Than now. “Please, Than.”

“Impatient,” Than chides, though there’s no bite to his voice, only adoration and an unsteady waver. Soon, when Zag’s on the brink of throwing himself into an undignified fit of begging, Than moves. He draws back, barely at all, but it’s something, and Zag exhales a trembling breath, fingers twitching in anticipation against Than’s skin.

The pace Than sets is torturous. Zag’s feverish, every nerve in his body singing with need. It’s not that he can’t appreciate a good, slow fuck — more that he’s the one now struggling to keep years and years of unsatisfied craving properly in check, boiling right underneath the surface. He wants Than to ravish him hard enough to make up for all the missed time, to drive into him until he can’t remember his own name, until he sees stars behind his eyes like constellations in the night sky. Despite his own desires, he hesitates to push Than any more than he already has, so he settles for trailing a series of kisses over the front of Than’s shoulder. “You feel good,” he murmurs, as if it’s not obvious.

“And you feel holy.” Than lingers on the word as if it tastes like ambrosia in his mouth. It’s a near impossible task for Zag to keep himself under control with Than talking like that, genuine and unabashed; all he can do is whine, staccato, clipped, before he buries his face in the curve of Than’s neck and shoulder.

That noise causes Than’s hips to snap forward out of rhythm, punching a gasp of Zagreus’ name from his chest. Zag delights in it, chases the falter in Than’s resolve with another broken noise muffled against his skin. In turn Than swears under his breath, poorly concealed, and nudges Zag’s head back and to the side to drag his teeth along the thrum of his pulse. It’s enough to get — and keep — him moving more than a fraction of an inch at a time, which Zag is infinitely grateful for.

They settle into a shared cadence, Zag meeting Than’s thrusts with stuttering circles of his hips. Than continues to lavish kisses and barely-there bites along Zag’s neck, up and down, switching sides only to press another few along his jawline after.  Zag moves a hand from his shoulder to run through his hair, once, twice before tangling near his scalp and tugging.  For a second, Zag’s concerned that the hiss of Zagreus that Than grits through his teeth is one of displeasure. He’s reassured otherwise by the particularly sharp bite Than gives him after, followed by the pleasurable sting of him sucking at the skin. 

Zag finds himself searching for something to say. It’s second nature for him to always be talking, no matter the situation, even when it gets him in trouble or is otherwise unneeded, and it’s foreign to do anything but. There’s so much he wants to convey in this precise second, he fears if he lets it pass, he’ll never be able to distill the sentiment. Should he praise Than like he’d praised him? Perhaps mention that all of this was more than worth the wait? Say something about how he adores the way Than’s eyes glint in the low light, how he’d like to be like this forever with him if he could, something, something — he opens his mouth, starts forming the words, gets out half a syllable, then Than’s lips are back on his. Oh, when did Than get his fingers under Zag’s collar again to pull him close how he is now? Zag’s lightheaded when he realizes, his mind somewhere far-off, and then he decides all he needs to say is —

“Harder,” Zag gasps, voice breaking. He isn’t sure whether he’s talking about the pressure of the collar around his throat or the force he wants to be pounded into with. Both, he decides.

The single word gets the message across, and Than, beautiful, wonderful Than finally gives Zag what he’s been craving, a quick, rough, overwhelming tempo that has the bed creaking with the force of it. Were he to have any presence of mind left, Zag would be surprised by the lack of quip about his insatiable nature, but as it stands, he’s viscerally grateful for Than’s compliance.

It’s not that Than was quiet this entire time until now — his noises tended towards the softer, more reserved end of things: low, quiet groans and desperate huffs of breath. That shifts the longer he fucks into Zag with wanton abandon. He keens and moans and calls Zag’s name, and Gods if Zagreus doesn’t find it intoxicating. He arches underneath Than, nails dragging lines down his back that well up vivid gold as he scrambles for purchase. He’s a moaning, incoherent mess, his cries interspersed with Than, Thanatos, please, and — he’s no virgin, no stranger to a damn good orgasm, but the one he’s edging closer to with every slide of Than’s cock inside him both promises and threatens to tear through him like no other.

Than doesn’t have to tell Zag for him to know he’s close to peaking, too. Zag can tell from the insistent, desperate throb of Than’s length, how the timing of his thrusts falls apart into a frantic, erratic rush — and if that wasn’t enough of a clue-in, Than lets Zag’s collar go to grab between their bodies at Zag’s cock, fisting it with the same uncoordinated desperation.

“Is this — “

Zag cuts him off. The exact details of what Than was going to ask don’t matter — he can guess well enough. “Yes,” he insists, caught between grinding himself down on Than to press him deeper and bucking into his hand. It’s possibly his favorite dilemma he’s ever had to work through. With that, Than’s at his neck and shoulder again, all teeth, nigh-rabid in marking every inch of skin he can reach. It’s carnal perfection, and Zag curls his toes and tenses his legs tightly enough his muscles tremble. Almost — almost — he throws his head back in the bliss of it, allowing Than better access to his neck, and —

— there’s a crack that resounds through the room, and Zag registers a sharp pain in his head. He doesn’t care enough to do anything about it. All his focus is condensed to a single goal, one he needs to chase, and...Than’s stopped moving?

“Zagreus! Are you alright?” Than peers down at him owlishly, bright golden eyes wide in concern. He touches his fingertips to Zag’s skull, here, there, searching for the sticky sensation of blood or any other indicator of injury.

Zag, while always moved by Than’s concern, is single-mindedly preoccupied; he huffs, digging his heels into the small of Than’s back (only long enough to urge him on, not long enough to burn), grinding upwards insistently. “I’ll be fantastic, as long as you keep going.”

“Your head —”

Zag groans, hoping to convince Than with another sharp scrape of his nails down his shoulders and back. Than shudders above him, but remains still otherwise. “I’ve been through much worse, Than, really. Just — ugh— come on, you wonderful idiot.” He shifts, leaning up to crush his lips to Than’s in the best plea to continue he can manage, and not long after Than tangibly relaxes, muscles untensing. Zagreus isn’t immediately on the cusp when they begin again, even with Than picking up his pace right where he left off; thankfully, however, with the combination of messy, impatient kissing and Than’s fervent stroking of Zag’s length, it doesn’t take long for him to get back there.

The feeling starts low in his stomach, an insistent, molten heat that’s taken its time to build, wound tight, tight, tighter. It’s nearly unbearable; Zag’s certain that if the tension doesn’t resolve, it will rend him apart. He whines, the noise high in his throat with desperation, shifts his body underneath Than to get him deeper, just right —

 Everything collapses in on a single point. Zag’s entire body tenses as he comes, hips jerking helplessly as he ruts into Than’s hand, his cock twitching with each surge of bliss that courses through him. He’s not sure how loudly he calls Than’s name, only that he does, and he’s dimly aware of the fact that he almost hits his head again thanks to the sharp arch of his back. Anything that isn’t the sublime feeling of release is fuzzy around the edges.

There’s a new warmth inside of him, accompanied by a steady pulsing that he can feel clearly, and Zag realizes he’s dragged Than over the edge with him. He cups the back of Than’s head, murmuring a disjointed series of praises, that’s it, yeah, come on, love, between kisses as Than rides it out. Feeling Than’s body tremble above his own, listening to the choked chant of nnh, ah, ah! that spills from his lips in time with his last thrusts is a sacred experience, and Zag is awed, honored to guide him through coming undone at the seams. 

They come down together, Zag stroking his fingers up and down Than’s back while Than places kiss after kiss to his temple. For the first time in as long as he can remember, Zag doesn’t mind staying still. There’s nothing to run away from here in bed with Than, and nothing he wants more than this to run towards. He’s happy to lay right where he is, to let the cacophony of thoughts that normally rattles around in his head ease to a background murmur.

Zag could fall asleep, he thinks. How many times had he flippantly commented I’ll sleep when I’m dead, only to be in bed half-dozing with Death himself? He sighs, content, and nuzzles against Than’s shoulder.

"Stay here tonight,” he says eventually, when words return to him. “The mortals can wait, can’t they? You can afford a handful of hours of respite amidst a lifetime of work.”

“They can.” Than doesn’t hesitate, and it catches Zag off guard. He’d anticipated some deliberation on Than’s part, as obsessive about his work as he is, not immediate agreement. Than tucks his arms under Zag’s and rolls onto his side, pulling Zag with him so they stay face-to-face. “If Lord Ares wouldn’t be furious with the backlog it would cause, I would even consider a proper vacation if it meant more of this.” A rare smile lights up his eyes like the surface sun.

“That’s high praise. I know I’m excellent to lie with —”

Than cuts him off with a laugh and a playful half-shove. “Not only more of that,” he answers pointedly. “More time with you, any way you’d like to spend it. I’ll even sit with you while you fish, if that’s what you want. I...Zagreus, we may have forever ahead of us, but I find myself greedy for you anyway.”

Zag’s heart flutters and leaps in such a way that he’s convinced he’s about to add to Than’s workload. “Fishing isn’t much of a spectator sport,” he murmurs, muffled from where he’s tucked himself against the crook of Than’s neck. “At least let me treat you to something more entertaining.”

"We can figure out the details later. For now, I think I’ll draw us a bath.” Than kisses the top of Zag’s head and attempts to disentangle himself from the prince, who protests by whining wordlessly and grabbing at him. “And we can do more of this while getting clean, if you can muster an ounce of patience.”

Eventually, Zag relents. He lets Than go and drapes back onto the mattress, boneless. Than kisses his head one more time, both cheeks, his lips, then departs toward the private bath connected to Zag’s chambers. Zag watches him leave, taking in the sight of his body all over again. Once he’s out of sight, languorous warmth ebbs through Zag’s body, weighs down his eyelids, and by the time Than returns, he’s wandered dangerously close to drifting off.

“Come on, my love. The bath’s ready,” Than murmurs as he scoops Zag up with no effort. Zag is suddenly quite awake from the simple term of endearment sending his heart soaring up into his throat. He’s certain that if he opened his mouth right now, butterflies would spill out, one-upping the Soulcatchers up in Elysium, and so he hums in acknowledgement, letting Than carry him.

This is real, truly, honestly real; Thanatos had come to Zag to be with him. He makes a mental note to find the most lavish bottle of ambrosia for Aphrodite to show his appreciation, this being her domain and all — even then, he doesn’t feel like that will be enough.