Achilles’ voice resonated all throughout camp, and while I always worried for the day I would hear no more of the jovial tone of his voice, my heart lifted with relief with every day that ended with the call of Achilles’ voice, the signal of his return, the beckoning of my name.
“Patroclus!” Achilles called again, just as he opened the tent flap with excitement and a wide grin. He placed his helmet at the foot of our bed as I lay there, just barely awake after sleeping through the day, for Achilles had kept me up for the entire night before.
I smiled at his excitement; it was all I could focus on, or else I would be looking with grief and disgust at the splattered blood all over his armor. But his smile was like the sun, after all, no matter how much blood tainted his fair skin.
Is that what it was? This love, when all was tainted and red and dirty and out of our control, and his presence was all that mattered? Was that what this love was? He was mine all the same, however I could have taken him. Philtatos.
I stood, reaching for my tunic to cover my bare body, but Achilles grabbed my wrists before I even touched it. He walked forward, cornering me towards the back of the tent, and I swallowed, overwhelmed by the smell of blood, and Achilles was quick to realize my growing discomfort.
He let go of my hands and swiftly walked across the tent. He lifted his arms and fisted his curls in frustration.
“I’m so sorry, Patroclus.” And even in anger, the utterance of my name was perfect. Even in his regret, I could not find anything to forgive.
I walked towards him, naked still, and reached to undo his armor, his back facing me. He sighed, letting me strip him, occasionally letting my fingers linger on places they need not, and - stench long forgotten - I whispered in his ear, “let me bathe you in the water.”
He nodded slowly, and together we hurried unheard through the back of our tent, towards a quiet and empty part of the beach. Everyone was preparing for the banquet, but Achilles and I were only interested in the water and each other.
We did not often bathe after a long day of battles, but Achilles was eager to tell me his victories, his moments of glory. And he told me as I brushed the blood off his shoulders and wrapped my arms around him underneath the water, easily forgetting his sins within the brightness of his smile, the tight grip of his fingers in mine, the way his lips would say I’m sorry for what I have done, I’m sorry for what I have yet to do between mine. The way I would say in return, I will never need an apology from you.
We returned to our tent in a fit of laughter, high on the salt water, on the wrestling we had done surrounded by it, and he tackled me onto the bed and peppered me with kisses, only adding to my laughter.
“You are the only one who cleanses me, Patroclus,” he said, suddenly serious, in between kissing my collarbone and moving to my jaw. My giggles ceased just as quickly.
He stopped to look at me, hand on my hip, the other wrapped in my dark curls, gaze as warm as the overwhelming pleasure building up my spine. He parted his lips, and I thought he would kiss me.
He spoke instead.
“You are the only one who makes me whole when I lose a part of myself to this war, though I gain more and more honor with each day.” He dipped his head so his lips would meet my neck. I sighed. No amount of honor he gained or lost would make this any less special.
I was glad he had me to remind him he was whole. It will be me, I thought then, for as long as I breath.
“Cleanse me, Patroclus,” he begged me, rubbing his thighs between mine, drawing moans from the both of us. “Cleanse me,” he whispered in my ear.
I slotted my fingers through his hair and pulled him back with only a groan coming from his lips in protest. In that moment I saw the boy from the cave, from all those years ago, the boy whose hands were clean, but destined for death. I kissed the face of that boy, for in Troy he was the same boy as he was in Mount Pelion. He was mine.
“Of course, Achilles.” How could you ever lose that part of yourself, I thought, how could you ever become impure? “Of course,” I said.
So that, I did. I cleansed him, drawing out every moan like it was the blood I brushed off his shoulders in the water.
And soon, we gained momentum. Achilles on top of me, I couldn’t breath, but it was the feeling of hypoxia that brought me higher than I ever had been. His hands on me, mine in his hair, lips hot against each other, he rutted against me, like he hadn’t been fighting for hours on the battlefield just beyond our camp. The thought brought a laugh from my throat.
“What do you laugh at?” Achilles asked, almost offended, into the crook of my neck.
I shook my head and gripped him close, panting when I responded, “how do you do it?”
“Do what?” He rode my thigh like my question was no distraction at all.
“You do not tire,” I paused to take in a sharp breath and groan. “You do not tire after a long day of fighting,” I managed.
He laughed, breath hot against my neck. His hand reached for my length, and I bit my lip and threw my head back in a silent cry as he began to stroke.
He lifted his head and hovered his lips just a hairsbreadth above mine. “I will always be ready for you, Patroclus.” He said my name in my mouth.
“It would seem so,” I whispered back. I moaned.
We were at the heights of our volume and heat when we heard a voice call for Achilles.
I held my breath. Achilles stopped moving on top of me. I didn’t want him to stop, I wanted to say so, but alas, we were in Troy, and Achilles was no longer just mine.
There was the banquet.
“Prince Achilles,” the voice called again outside the tent.
“Yes!” Achilles yelled back, obviously annoyed, obviously in the midst of something quite taxing. I snickered below him and he shot me a look. Feeling fairly confident, I responded by leaning forward and licking the dip between his collarbones. His grip in my hair tightened and he sucked in a breath.
“The banquet is ready. We wait for you,” the nervous voice said.
“Yes,” Achilles said, suddenly coming back to himself. I smiled. “Yes, of course.” He laughed, and it reminded me of the days we would not come out of our cave even though Chiron called us time and time again.
After we stood and clothed ourselves, Achilles grabbed me by the hips and kissed me deeply. He looked at me fondly before whispering to me, “to be continued.” And then we joined the banquet.
We sat at the table covered by a large cloth that reached the floor, covering both our legs. I wondered absentmindedly how they managed to build and bring such a large table to Troy.
We celebrated another victory, and cheered and drank to our Aristos Achaion, to our best of men. Briseis sat next to me and only smiled when she spoke to me, and for that I felt bad. But if I could make her feel comfortable, so be it. I spoke to her and kept her company, but soon she excused herself, leaving me alone as Achilles heard the praises from all across the table.
Agamemnon was eager to take the spotlight though. There would always come a moment in the banquet every night when Agamemnon tired of the praises not meant for him, and he would recite a long exciting story, allowing a long reprieve for Achilles to return his attention to me. We’d usually joke, or exchange stories of our own.
Instead, I found myself drifting. I was suddenly spent from the long day of sleeping, my muscles sore from how much Achilles had worn me. My filled stomach from the banquet did nothing to help my state of languor.
It would have seemed that Achilles wanted to play a quick game with me, as we usually did during these banquets, but this one was far more mischievous than I expected.
He placed his hand on my thigh, slipping his fingers underneath my tunic, and I hardly stirred, my drowsiness almost taking me under.
“How could you sleep at a time like this, Patroclus,” his voice reached my ears and I realized what he was doing. I could tell his cat’s smile was just a mere centimeters away from my ear. I could feel his hand rising higher and higher.
“Do you realize how rude that is, Patroclus?” Teasing me with my own name, his hand reached my groin and I straightened so quick my hands gripped the edge of the table to find purchase.
“Achilles,” I panted lowly, looking around just as the rest of the banquet attendants burst into laughter, surely a response to a joke Agamemnon made.
“I said ‘to be continued,’ did I not?” Achilles grinned, tightening his grasp. I realized soon enough his hand was wet, as if he’d dipped his hand in water before coming to me. I bit my lip, wanting to curse at his slick ways.
I wanted to moan, throw my head back and tackle Achilles to the floor, but with hundreds of people around us, all I could do was grip the table harder and try to ignore Achilles’ widening grin in my periphery.
I let out a breath, and winced when his hand teases me more, going faster, bringing me to the edge, only to slow down.
“Your games do not amuse me tonight, Achilles,” I managed to say with a smile.
“I do not intend to amuse.”
“Oh?” Another sharp breath.
“Just to please,” he said so easily but it took everything for me not to slam my fists on the table. Instead, I reached for his wrist and stopped his ministrations and he did not resist. I stopped him instead, and slowly rose from my seat in the midst of another round of laughter from the party and the enthusiastic telling of Agamemnon's story. I was careful not to bring attention to my hardness, but it was difficult. I turned around quickly and walked towards our tent. I knew Achilles would follow.
As soon as the tent flap fell behind Achilles and hindered us from the outside world, I grabbed him by the front of his tunic and threw him towards the bed. I climbed over him and said fiercely into his mouth, “let us finish what we started.”