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On History

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In the final moments of my life, the final seconds between what I know will be the shot that kills me, the shot that will I let kill me, I remember the times in my life when I was given a choice. I find that I know in my heart that I made the wrong decision.

When you sank to your knees and begged me to fight and I refused. When I sent you to your death, alone. And a lifetime ago, when I chose to come to this wretched place knowing you would follow me, you always would, rather than die a nameless death. I chose wrong, again and again.

I know now that I do not care much about the legacy I have left behind. I will not be there to see my name engraved in history, to hear the stories of my labors passed from ear to ear. I could have died a lesser man, tangled in your arms, and I could have been at peace.

And is this not the way of lesser men, to think upon the many failures of their life on the precipice of death? Is it not the duty of greater men to take their place in history without complaint and hope that it will be a memorable one?

But those greater men had never known you, the best of the Myrmidons, my philtatos, my Patroclus.

As my life flies out at me, all at once, I am only comforted in the fact that we will be together soon. There is no world in which you are not a hero, caring for your fellow men as I never could, dying so that they might return home. The blood I have spilled cannot measure up to that which you have saved. I hope that I have done enough, that in some way the mistakes of my life will bring me back to you. I hope Elysium welcomes us both.

I do not care that my name is written in history, just that it is carved in marble next to yours. I fall, and I smile.

 

……………………………..

 

When we meet again, so much time has passed and none at all. More men have come, telling tales of a war I loathe. I am surrounded by the faces of heroes I have heard in stories, but not the one face for which I have searched every edge of the field.

You come up behind me, placing long fingers on my shoulder. I do not see you nor hear you, but I know with every piece of my being that the touch is yours. A furious burst of light bursts forth, beating and burning, then gone just as quickly as it came. I turn.

“Achilles?” you say, a trace of breathlessness in your voice despite not drawing a true breath in a long, long time.

“Patroclus,” I say, your name filling my mouth. Your eyes are brighter and more beautiful than the sun.

And at once, we collided.

……………………………..

 

In the evening, when the orange becomes black and the stars glow into being, I can feel you there with me. I can feel you dragging your fingers through the air as you point to the dots that form Pegasus, then Andromeda. I can feel the coolness of the cave, the warmth of the pallet, of you. I can feel your eyes on me, all too aware of the mere hair widths between us, then no distance at all. And I can feel your lips, your touch, your life, as we were for us and us alone.