Achilles turned the bottle over in his hand; it was just longer than his palm. He was looking at it as if he did not know it, it must have been transformed in his eyes now, as it was in Patroclus’. It wasn’t that neither of them had been aware of this use for such a common oil, but as many things other men indulged in, it only flickered in their periphery, it only became real when one of them brought it into the forefront, as Patroclus was doing now.
Nothing was secret between them, nothing hidden, and Patroclus had told Achilles as plainly as he was able that he wanted to try it. Face warm with the asking, with the possibility of assent, and Achilles considering as if Patroclus had only asked him what he wanted for breakfast. Would it have comforted Patroclus to see Achilles blush and stammer? He did not think so. Patroclus watched the glass turned this way and that as Achilles thought.
His answer did not take long to come, though it felt to Patroclus as though it did. What he was asking for was different than what they had done thus far; different even than the first time Patroclus had bowed his head between Achilles’ thighs, and made him choke out his pleasure.
A gaze the colour of sea glass finally turned back to Patroclus. “You want this?” Achilles asked.
Patroclus swallowed, “Yes,” he answered honestly.
It was so simple. All Patroclus need do was ask. For as long as he had known Achilles, it still sometimes caught him off balance, this easy acquiescence. Another in his position might boast of it, feel a rush of triumph or victory, Achilles, Aristos Achaion, at his whim, his for the asking. But, Patroclus understood it was because he did not think of Achilles like this that he was in this coveted position to begin with. He had never seen Achilles as a tool, a weapon, or a prize. Achilles knew it too, and he loved him for it, so when Patroclus asked, it was with trust and genuine affection that Achilles agreed.
In their tent on the shores of Troy, Patroclus watched as Achilles drew off his tunic. He would have done so anyway, they always slept nude, but this was for another purpose. In the same way that he still marvelled at Achilles’ acceptance and ardor for him, Patroclus was still awed by his beauty. In that moment it seemed to stop his heart as well as quicken it all at once.
There were no words in the world grand enough, meaningful enough, to express the way Patroclus’ heart squeezed in his chest when Achilles looked at him then.
“Patroclus.” Achilles said.
Achilles reached out, and Patroclus allowed him to pull his own tunic off, he tossed it without looking to join his own. The bottle of oil was on the pallet beside Achilles now; he picked it up once more, and held it out for Patroclus.
He took the bottle, warm from the temperate climate, from Achilles’ own hand.
“I – “ Patroclus had to stop and clear his throat. “I know I asked, but is this really all right? Would you rather do something else or – or perhaps, the other way around – ?“
Achilles watched him steadily, allowed him to stumble over his words without interrupting, when it was clear he was done, Achilles answered. “You said you wished for this. Has that changed?”
Patroclus shook his head. “But you, do you wish for it?”
Achilles’ gaze moved from Patroclus’ face and to the bottle he held, and then back again. He didn’t stammer, but his cheeks turned a light pink. “I want what you said, I want that with you.”
When Patroclus had come back to their tent that evening, surreptitiously clutching the bottle of oil, he had burst in with words still ringing in his ears. Falling to his knees in front of a seated, and startled Achilles, Patroclus had explained to him what he had with him.
‘He touched me more deeply than I expected,’ one young man said in hushed tones to another, oblivious of Patroclus. ‘There was – I don’t know – a place in me he touched, he said all men have this. It was strange at first, I was not sure I wanted it, but then – ‘ Patroclus had to strain to hear him, ‘Then I did. I want to see him again, by the gods, I didn’t think anything could feel that good. Perhaps he is also descended from the gods, he made me see stars.’
The young man had gone on to describe the act, and Patroclus had melted away, his mind racing. Now, Achilles sat before him telling him he wanted this also, he wanted Patroclus to touch him in this way that sounded better than it had any right to.
When still he hesitated, Achilles raised an eyebrow, amused that he was the one that now played at uncertainty when it was he that had proposed this. It was Patroclus who had fallen in front of him in excitement because he could hardly stop imagining it.
Achilles leaned forward and kissed him. Soft and slow, unhurried and familiar. His touch crept down Patroclus’ jaw to his neck, traced the line of his shoulder, and then down his chest. Patroclus touched him too, his skin smooth, as familiar to him as his own heartbeat. He had touched Achilles a thousand times, and he would touch him a thousand more, in the time that was left, Patroclus knew every inch of his skin. What he asked for was more; he wanted it if Achilles would give it.
It seemed as though Achilles had first agreed for Patroclus, but now he wanted it for himself. He shifted closer, legs folded under him, and drew Patroclus’ hand to his hip, and then along the curve of well-muscled buttock. There he let go of Patroclus’ hand, and plucked the bottle from him, pulling the stopper free, and then reaching behind himself for Patroclus to take.
He did, wishing he knew how much was enough, and how much was best, as he poured the oil over his fingers.
“If it hurts, if you dislike it – “
“Can you hurt me?” Achilles broke in, seeming genuinely amused. It wasn’t a question of physical capability; it was whether Patroclus could ever bring himself to. At his look Achilles’s expression sobered somewhat. “You already have my answer, do you need it again?”
Achilles brought his hands up to cup Patroclus’ face, his hands moved automatically to fit themselves along his jaw as they always did, finding the spots on Patroclus that fit him perfectly. “There are no lies between us.”
It was an answer of sorts, and reassuring all the same. Patroclus leaned up to kiss him, feeling Achilles’ grip loosen to let him.
The next moment Patroclus slid his oiled fingers over skin he had never caressed before, and then pressed slowly in.
He heard Achilles’s breath catch, for all his surety; he had still not expected it. He pulled back, green eyes wide, to look at him. Patroclus stilled, and for a moment they only gazed at each other. Then, slowly, carefully, he continued to press in. Achilles’ eyes fluttered shut. He breathed out shakily.
The young man had said it was strange at first; Patroclus thought perhaps that was what Achilles felt in that moment. Patroclus kissed him, and after just a second, Achilles kissed him back. Patroclus did not close his own eyes, his gaze never left Achilles’ face, watching him for signs of hurt or discomfort, but there were none. It seemed as if Achilles were trying to solve a particularly difficult puzzle, his brows furrowed in concentration as Patroclus pressed his oiled finger in again and again.
He kissed Achilles’ beautiful neck, lips trailing well-known paths, and pressed in a second finger.
His sharp breath made Patroclus stop and jerk his head back. He watched as Achilles opened his eyes to look at him in confusion honed by desire. “Why did you stop?”
He resumed his touch, and Achilles shifted again, slowly, so Patroclus could follow his movements, and seated himself in Patroclus’ lap. He was pressed flush against him, the call of his hammering heart answered in Patroclus’ own chest.
A familiar position in an unfamiliar situation. Achilles was wrapped tightly around him, arms and legs, Patroclus was already roused, and only grew more so when Achilles began to move against him.
His quick breaths brushed Patroclus’ ear, the sounds Achilles made sweeter even than the notes he plucked from his lyre.
Pressing in another finger, he began to gently prod. Achilles gasped into his shoulder, and shivered, his grip around Patroclus tightening for a moment. Patroclus could feel wetness on his stomach, whether from his own arousal or Achilles’, he hardly even noticed.
‘Can you hurt me?’ Achilles had asked, the answer of course was no, but that didn’t stop Patroclus from being cautious, from being slow in his exploration. He felt Achilles shiver again as his fingers brushed a kind of protrusion, it felt different from what he had touched so far.
“Here?” Patroclus asked, his voice strange to him, deeper, breathless.
He curled his fingers, “Like this?”
He experimented with different touches, with rhythm, asking the same question, and receiving the same answer.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Achilles seemed lost to sensation, unabashedly asking, almost begging, “Patroclus – “
He would not make Achilles beg, and felt him begin to tense. When his climax hit, the force of it shook his whole body, he muffled a cry against Patroclus’ shoulder, and clung to him.
As Achilles’ breathing slowed, Patroclus withdrew his fingers. With his other hand he stroked the smooth skin of his beloved’s back, soothing him, gently coaxing him back to himself. So intent had he been on Achilles that Patroclus had only vaguely been aware of his own want. He would never understand the desire to take anything that was not freely and enthusiastically given. The greatest part of this, this that was between him and Achilles, was knowing that Achilles chose him, again and again. With all that could have been his, Achilles never turned his eyes away from Patroclus; he gave even what was not asked of him, and knew Patroclus would do the same. It was this that stirred Patroclus.
Finally, Achilles lifted his head. His eyes were dark, the green in them almost an afterthought, he looked at Patroclus as if he had hung the moon for him alone.
“I want to do it again.”
Simple, and cutting straight to the heart of it; unashamedly asking for what he wanted. And, why should he feel shame? That was not a thing that lived between them, it had never been invited, and when visiting, it was always gone right away.
Patroclus was smiling, grinning; his heart was so full he thought it might burst out of his chest. Achilles smiled back, affectionate and amused at Patroclus’ obvious self-satisfaction.
Achilles let go of him, moving to sit on the pallet, and then lay on his back. He lifted a hand, invitation enough for anyone, and more than enough for Patroclus.
Patroclus picked up the oil, his grip was slippery, and seeing him struggle, Achilles took it from him again. He smiled, sitting up once more, pulling the stopper free, and handing the bottle back. More oil slid down his fingers, filling the tent with its scent.
“You are forgetting this.”
Patroclus almost flinched back when Achilles touched the hard length of him, his arousal suddenly forcing itself to the forefront of his mind.
“You want – “
Patroclus broke off at the look in his eyes. Achilles’ gaze did not waver, and Patroclus should have known by now that he asked for what he wanted.
“I thought to touch only – “ Patroclus tried again, startled at the enormity of what Achilles offered him, but Achilles shook his head.
“I’ve already given my answer, do I need to give it again?”
They looked at each other; Patroclus did not search his gaze, he already knew what he would find. “No,” he replied.
He had thought to start slowly, to give Achilles time, days he had thought, perhaps more, to become accustomed to it, to consider what he felt comfortable giving. But, there was no hesitation in him; it had been the same when, some time ago, Achilles had pushed Patroclus onto his back and did for him what he had just been given.
‘There is no need to – ‘ Patroclus broke off at the sensation of Achilles’ tongue on the tip of him.
Despite the dark, Patroclus could still see the look in his eyes, ‘I know, I want to. If it’s you, I want to.’
His expression now was not unlike that time, and Patroclus swallowed audibly. He let out a shaky breath as he spread the oil on himself, feeling Achilles’ eyes follow his every movement.
When Patroclus looked up again, the bottle stoppered and sitting innocently on the edge of the pallet, Achilles caught his eye, and then slowly lay back down. Golden hair haloed out around his head, his body relaxed, expectant, and welcoming. This time when Achilles lifted his hand, Patroclus went to him.
Moving to press himself between Achilles’ thighs was a heady thing; eyes on each other, Patroclus could tell they both felt it. Patroclus leaned down to kiss him, his mouth already open, warm, and inviting, as was the rest of him. Patroclus touched Achilles first, oily fingers sliding over the length of him, feeling him quicken in his grasp.
Patience was one of Patroclus’ gifts, but it was wearing thin. He had felt with his fingers what he wanted to feel with his cock, and he could not stop thinking about what that would be like now that it was a reality. He wanted to see Achilles’ face this time, he wanted to watch the expressions he made, he wanted to experience a new intimacy with the young man who held his whole heart in his hand.
Roused and eager once more, Achilles stopped his hand, “Patroclus,” he said. Patroclus nodded in understanding, and then kissed him. Heart beating loudly, Patroclus slowly began to press in.
He had done this, once, but that other time felt almost as if it had been a vague dream, or something that had happened to someone else. This, the feel of Achilles, hot as the blood that rushed through his body, this was the only real thing in the world. Patroclus had thought he would be less affected, foolishly, almost nonsensically, he had thought himself prepared, but he was not ready for the way his body reacted.
“What is it?”
Achilles, breathless, concerned, Patroclus could picture the slight furrow in his brow. He had closed his eyes without realizing, and fought now to open them.
“I – “ Patroclus opened his eyes to meet Achilles’ gaze. “I feel as if I might come completely undone.”
The uneven rise and fall of his lover’s sun browned skin was comforting to Patroclus. They stood on this precipice together, marveling at the expanse before them, waiting for the right moment to free-fall.
“Then we feel the same,” Achilles said. He leaned up to kiss Patroclus, soft and slow; he could feel how Achilles meant every sweet kiss. They shared a look, and Patroclus took a deep breath. There was no way to calm his heart, but he tried to brace himself properly this time.
Reaching up, he took hold of one of the hands Achilles held his face in, and threaded their fingers together, pressing them into the pallet. Achilles’s strong hand felt like an anchor, reassured, Patroclus tried again.
Patroclus inhaled sharply, the feel of Achilles was just as exquisite as it had been a moment ago. He felt Achilles’s grip on his hand tighten, and exhaled unevenly.
With more self control than he thought himself master of, Patroclus slowly pushed in. Spurred on by the sounds Achilles made, by the feel of his fingers clutching at his back, and his thighs pressing against Patroclus’ hips, shaking, Patroclus paused again to catch his breath.
“Is it – are you well?” Patroclus asked, when he found he could speak again.
“I am,” Achilles sounded winded, but when Patroclus searched his face, he found no signs of discomfort. He was flushed red, and he looked at Patroclus with a kind of quiet awe. “And you?”
Surprised, Patroclus asked, “Me?”
“Yes,” Achilles gently stroked his back, “Are you well?”
Patroclus almost laughed. He managed a smile, feeling affection so bright it was almost blinding. “I am,” he echoed.
They smiled at each other, and after another moment of stillness, Patroclus made a tentative move. Moans of pleasure were pulled from both of them.
Love and desire warred in Patroclus, collided again and again until they melted into one another, and became indistinguishable. There was nothing about Achilles he did not love, and nothing about his body he did not enjoy. He wanted this intimacy, this pleasure, for Achilles as much as he wanted it for himself. In the same way that Patroclus no longer gave up so easily, he had learned to accept what Achilles offered him, to ask of him, because just like Patroclus, Achilles wanted to give until he was satisfied.
Bodies pressed as close as they could be, they moved together. Everything about that moment felt magnified ten fold, touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight, everything centred on Achilles. Patroclus felt a joy so deep, so sharp he ached with it. It was the same emotion that moved his heart every time he looked at Achilles, and it too had multiplied, no longer contained in his chest, it had free rein of his body.
The feel of Achilles’ body was divine, that was the word Patroclus would use to describe it if he could think rationally. He gloried in sensation, in want answered with want. Pyrrhus, Achilles had been called, for his hair, but it should have been for the feel of him. The heat of him burned as bright as his hair, and every time Patroclus slid out, Achilles urged him back into warmth so good it was almost maddening. Patroclus felt his pleasure mount in him with every move of their tangled bodies.
He shifted, searching for what he had found with his fingers, knowing from Achilles’ response he had not yet found it. When Achilles gasped and shivered, Patroclus’ concentration honed on it like the fine point of Achilles’ spear.
Patroclus was not a fighter, but he fought to hold on to his control. Wait, he thought desperately, wait for him.
“Here?” Patroclus asked, knowing, but wanting to hear it.
He closed his eyes at the sound of Achilles’ voice. It resounded in his ears, made his heart pound, and his cock throb.
The only thing better than hearing Achilles say ‘yes,’ in that beautiful, breathless way, was hearing him say Patroclus’ name.
As if hearing his thoughts, Achilles said his name on a gasp. Patroclus could feel how close he was, he opened his eyes, and let go of Achilles’ hand to reach down between them.
“Achilles,” Patroclus said on an exhale, his hand sliding up the hot, hard length of him. In his mind, Patroclus said Achilles’ name over and over, the name his world centred on, the name for the other half of his soul.
Achilles was shaking, his fingers pressed into Patroclus’ skin, he opened his mouth on a silent cry, back arching, and came.
As hard as he struggled, Patroclus could not hold himself back any longer. He wanted to experience every second of Achilles’ pleasure, but it was subsumed in his own body’s reaction.
A glorious pressure had built and crested in him, Patroclus’ eyes shut automatically; his vision went white as pure ecstasy shook itself from his body.
Dimly he was aware of Achilles clinging to him, gripping him so tightly Patroclus may very well bruise come morning, but he felt nothing but pleasure so acute it was almost maddening.
When they were no longer caught up in the pure sensation of skin to skin, Patroclus slowly lifted his head. He had pressed it to Achilles’ shoulder in the last driving moments of climax, and now that he felt he had some sense returned to him, he looked down at the young man who made him feel as though anything were possible, as if true happiness were possible.
He found warm green eyes looking back at him. Achilles’ golden hair was sweat dampened, much as Patroclus’ own, he imagined he was still flushed in the much the same way Achilles was, and that his own affection and joy were as plain to see on his own face as they were on Achilles’.
Leaning down, Patroclus kissed him. Soft and sweet, the taste of Achilles like wine, addictive, dizzying, and heady. When he drew back, they both smiled.
Carefully withdrawing, Patroclus rose to fetch a cloth and clean water for Achilles.
“I can go out and wash in the sea.” Achilles said; sounding indulgently amused.
Patroclus blushed thinking about the sight Achilles would make if he walked out exactly as he was now.
“We can go,” Patroclus said after he shook the image of Achilles’ wet skin gleaming in the moonlight from his head. “But, let me towel you down first.”
Achilles let him, holding still for Patroclus’ gentle hands, watching his movements like he had been bidden to study them.
“What is it?” Patroclus asked, not looking up from where he was cleaning Achilles’ thighs.
“Nothing,” Achilles said, then, “Sometimes, I remember what a marvel you are.”
Patroclus looked up in surprise. “What?”
Achilles smiled. “Marvelous,” he said.
“What are you saying?” Patroclus asked bemusedly.
“Do you not know what ‘marvelous’ means?”
“Of course I know what it means, but – “
“Then, why do you ask?”
Patroclus blinked at him. He huffed a laugh, and then shook his head. “Come, if you wish to go for a midnight swim, we should go now.” He rose, and offered Achilles his hand. Achilles took it, the feel of his hand as familiar to Patroclus as the taste of his mouth.
Getting to his feet, Achilles’ smile turned mischievous. “Let’s race!” He said, and dashed out of the tent.
Knowing there was no way he could win against him, Patroclus nevertheless ran to catch him. Breathless with laughter, they collided in the warm water, joyous and brilliant.